We recently got the chance to have a digital sit down with Housemarque's Community Manager, Tommaso De Benetti. We discuss the awesomeness that is RESOGUN and I also try to get some information out of him in regards to the frequently teased and upcoming expansion for the old-school shooter, as well as a top-secret "upcoming PS4 project".
Before we get into the interview, here's a bit of background information about Housemarque -
"Headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, Housemarque is a digital games developer working on console, mobile and PC. Our passion is designing engaging game experiences full of rewarding, memorable moments. Housemarque was co-founded in 1995 by Harri Tikkanen and Ilari Kuittinen. Prior to joining forces, Harri and Llari founded two of Finland’s first game development studios – Bloodhouse and Terramarque." (So the new company could well have been named Bloodterra)
"Today, Housemarque is one of the most experienced and well-known developers of downloadable games for console platforms, with a successful track record spanning 18+ years. Using state-of-the-art digital craftsmanship our talented team puts their all into each of our top-shelf concepts.True to our core gamer audience, we prioritise stratified gameplay mechanics and impeccable audiovisual execution to create euphoric gaming experiences. ‘Dare to play’ is our motto."
Now to kick things off with our interview and see what info we can pick from Tommaso's brain!
Tommaso: Hello there
Kong: Hi Tommaso
Kong: Well, now that we're introduced, let's get things started and talk games.
Kong: First off, how are we doing today? Have you had to fight off any zombies or "save the last humans"?
Tommaso: To be honest we don't have much time to play our own games, at least not the people who are not directly developing something. There are daily builds, but as a Community Manager I don't always get to play them. Often those are only for iteration purposes, even if to be honest right now they are so polished that they are almost final
Kong: Sounds good, but you must fill up your free time with some gaming right?
Tommaso: Yep, all of us do. But we don't necessarily play Housemarque's games even in our free time :D We make good games but 8 hours a day is enough :P I've been playing some heartstone during launch today.
Kong: haha I understand, RESOGUN has me raging beyond belief at times. I haven't had a chance to have a go on hearstone as of yet unfortunately.
Kong: But speaking of RESOGUN...Housemarque have been the developers behind some of the most addictive, fun (and frustrating, but in a good way) and visually impressive indie games that the industry has to offer. Do you think indie developers get the exposure and credit that they deserve?
Tommaso: Right now I think it's a great time for indie developers. Just look at what Sony is doing in that regard, the praises they are getting for supporting indie games, and how Microsoft and Nintendo had to, how to say, play catch up?
Kong: Sony are definitely backing indies a lot, and it shows with the library of indie games coming out across their platforms
Tommaso: Then you look at Steam and Humble Bundle and you can see that's an established reality
Kong: Housemarque have developed games for consoles, PC and mobile platforms but you seem to have a soft spot for Sony and their PlayStation platforms. Is there an unspoken special relationship between your companies or is it just that Sony and PlayStation have a more indie-friendly approach to their systems?
Tommaso: I don't think it's been very "unspoken" between us and Sony. We have had a good relationship for years, starting with Super Stardust HD.
Kong: ahh Super Stardust HD, another game that was ridiculously hard to put down and walk away from haha
Tommaso: That said we did games for other platforms too .PC in the past, Outland on Xbox...We are not PS exclusive in absolute terms.
Kong: That's understandable, indie titles are loved by one and all.
Kong: Why do you think Housemarque has gone for the route for indie games and are there any big AAA Blockbuster titles in the pipeline?
Tommaso: Depends what's AAA in your mind, we trust we deliver absolutely quality games. Small experiences certainly, but if you mean do we plan to have 400 people on the payroll, the answer is not in the foreseeable future
Kong: Well I personally see RESOGUN as a AAA title that is still one of the best games for the PS4
Tommaso: Being smaller has advantages
1) It's easier to know the people you're working with, keep it personal
2) We can work on multiple small projects at the same time
3) Big companies are a nightmare when it comes to internal communication/organization
Tommaso: Often you can't even fit all people in the same building, let alone get away without hierarchy. We try to be as flat as possible, my boss works 3 meters from me...
Kong: We've got a relatively small but very close team at Digital Gathering so I definitely see where you're coming from
Tommaso: That said the other PS4 project we are working on is the biggest project we have been working on so far
Kong: Must make it hard to sneak in a quick game with the boss so near
Tommaso: It's ok, he plays FIFA often :D, you can't make videogames if you can't play videogames
Kong: You won't get an argument from us here! I'll definitely get back to your "other PS4 project" in just a moment, but for now...
Kong: RESOGUN was a launch title for the PS4 and was also one of the first PS4 games to be a part of the PlayStation Plus promotions. How important do you think that inclusion was to the shining success of RESOGUN?
Tommaso: Very important. Shooters have been – let's face it – a niche genre. They have been for years, I'm not talking about FPS or 3rd person shooters, but stuff like RESOGUN
Tommaso: Being able to be played by what's now some million of players was the best come back we could have hoped for the genre. So it was definitely worth doing it
Kong: There's no denying that PS4 sales are steadily increasing, latest figures released were 7 million units sold I believe
Kong: Now on to the RESOGUN expansion that I, along with all other RESOGUN fans out there are waiting for! You released a teaser RESOGUN image in April with the tagline “You’re Gonna Need Some” and most recently you released another teaser with what looks like to me, to be a treasure chest of some sort, but also maybe a blue duck? Am I close or completely stone cold?
Kong: You couldn't give me a little hint or two now?
Tommaso: Teasers are meant to be confusing, the truth will be revealed soon
Kong: Ok then, I tried. I've never liked the word "soon" though haha
Kong: I've taken a look at the forums and noticed that you said the "expansion is ready". So what's the hold up?
Tommaso: Well I wish we could just press a button and make it happen, truth is that there are some technical times we can't skip. QA (Quality assurance) alone takes 2 weeks, and that's assuming they don't find any bug, plus marketing and blog space on Sony's side have to align, you have to try not to overlap with other products, etc.
Tommaso: It's complicated. I don't think players really understand what goes on behind the scenes other than "the game is ready"
Kong: That's understandable, but as gamers, all we want is some more RESOGUN action haha
Tommaso: The good thing is, even though this expansion is taking us more than we expected, we are using every extra day to make it better. So if you can be still a bit more patient... you know that the game is gonna be better as a result
Tommaso: We are not just hanging around the office and dancing ;)
Kong: The graphics and gameplay are so intense and awesome in RESOGUN, I can't even imagine the amount of work that goes into developing it, so I guess I can be a bit more patient, but just a little
Kong: Back in September last year you released a RESOGUN introduction video, but right at the end (just before one of your colleagues was conveniently interrupted and attacked by the lurking zombie, I don't know why he didn't just headshot him in the first place) there was word that you had a new title coming to the PS4? Was this Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition or is this the "other PS4 project" you spoke about earlier?
Tommaso: We realized afterwards that that video gives away A LOT more than we initially intended. Luckily people failed to put the pieces together, I guess. At that point we knew that Climax Studios was working on the PS4-PSVita ports, but the video wasn't referring to those, so I'd suggest you start watching it in loop until you have a eureka moment :D
Tommaso: It's all there, really
Kong: I'll have to re-examine the video and get back to you on that then, but can you give us a genre or code name for your upcoming PS4 project then? Or perhaps a one-liner that describes it in general?
Tommaso: Nope, sorry. We are not speaking about that until reveal. And we are not 100% sure when the reveal is yet
Kong: Oh come on, I won't tell anyone haha
Tommaso: I can say it's gonna please (and surprise maybe?) most of our fans. It's not a driving game! That I can say
Kong: Surprises are always good, and I'm sure the Housemarque team will wow fans and newcomers once again
Kong: Lastly, I’ve noticed that you’ve announced the RESOGUN t-shirt prizes for a competition, but not announced details for the competition? Can you fill us and your fans in with the details?
Tommaso: Not really because we haven't decided the details yet :D I think we are going to have 4, one per model or 3, not sure yet
Tommaso: I think at least one of them will be tied to playing the new expansion, the others are probably more generally RESOGUN-related,
Kong: I love the latest design you released, the Defender I believe it's called
Tommaso: We'll unveil the first one by next week, I assume, we were working on the needed assets today
Tommaso: Yep the Defender is based on... Defender coin-op design
Kong: Kudos to the design team for the t-shirts and of course to the Housemarque team in general for the awesome titles that you've developed. Well I think I've picked your brains enough for now...So on behalf of the team at Digital Gathering, I’d like to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me and I can't wait for the release of the RESOGUN expansion, and the announcement of the top secret project that’s currently under wraps.
Kong: Is there anything you’d like to say to all the Housemarque fans out there before we wrap things up?
Tommaso: Uhmm... yes
Tommaso: We try to listen to all feedback, I personally read it daily and forward the relevant one to the team, to see if there's something that really has a lot of traction, but 95% of the ideas we hear... well, they have been on the table at some point. One thing players often don't know is that the team behind a game usually knows what would be cool, what needs to be fixed, etc...So very often it's a matter of resources, priorities, and vision. We hope that the upcoming expansion will feel both "what the players wanted" and "what the players didn't expect". There's gonna be something for everybody, I think.
Tommaso: That's it :)
Kong: It's great to see a studio interacting with their community so much, and you of course play a big role in that department so well done on the hard work!
Tommaso: Thanks, I try :) You're many!
Kong: Haha that's a good thing though, if your fans weren't just as passionate and enthusiastic about your games, then something's gone wrong
Kong: Once again thank you for your time Tommaso and I wish you and the whole of Housemarque the best of luck on the release of the RESOGUN expansion and your upcoming projects!
So there you have it gamers, Housemarque are still remaining very much tight-lipped in regards to the upcoming expansion for their RESOGUN title and their next project is another exclusive PS4 title, continuing their close relationship with the boys in blue at Sony.
I'll be keeping you updated on all things RESOGUN and Housemarque related, lets just hope they stop teasing us about the expansion and release it fairly soon! You can follow the studio @Housemarque and Community Manager Tommaso @tdebenetti.
Digital Gathering will be opening our dedicated indie section very soon, so make sure you follow and keep an eye on @DGINSIDER for all our gaming, indie, technology and gadget news, as well as future announcements.
What game/type of game do you think the team over at Housemarque are currently working on and is a RESOGUN expansion a must-buy for you? Let us know in the comments section below.