HouseMarque is an indie developer best known for its work on Super Stardust series. The series has received plenty of critical acclaim on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation VITA. The developer has also created the exceptional Dead Nation for PlayStation 3 and the fantastic Outland for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. HouseMarque is currently wrapping up work on another side scrolling, shoot-em-up for PlayStation 4 called Resogun. While the game might seem limited in scope at first, you have to realize that the underlying technology that is being used for the game is nothing short of exceptional. It’s truly a showcase of the next generation capabilities of the PS4 hardware. Resogun looks crisp and runs smooth at 1080p and 60 fps despite all the taxing visual effects happening on-screen at all times.
Thousands of dynamic physical cubes are used to create an environment that is fit for large-scale destruction, as envisioned by the developers. HouseMarque’s game makes profound use of GPU compute, which Mark Cerny has stressed upon as being important to games development in the long run. Having the entire level disintegrate into individual GPU-driven cubes, with each conforming to the laws of physics, is no small feat. It really is incredible for an indie studio on a limited budget to be able to create a technological showcase that’s equally as fun to play as it is to see.
We recently had a chance to interview Resogun’s Engine Architect, Seppo Halonen.
GearNuke: What form of anti-aliasing and lighting system are you using for Resogun?
Seppo Halonen: When it comes to antialiasing we are using FXAA. The lighting system is 100% deferred with HDR, SSAO, dynamic shadows and all the jazz with some screenspace reflections and dynamic color grading thrown in as well. We believe this is the first 60fps console game with all that.
GearNuke: Given the strong emphasis on GPU compute in Resogun, was there ever a point in development where you had to hold back on certain render-heavy visual effects due to real-time destruction on a massive scale?
Seppo Halonen: Yes and no. We experimented on a number of render-heavy things and decided they did not sync with the look we wanted for the game. So some effects were toned down here and there but this was mostly to avoid visual clutter. There’s a point where the human eye can’t keep track on the number of moving objects, and we probably still well over that.
GearNuke: Many other developers seem to agree that GPU compute is a key element of next-gen games development. Resogun makes a great case in favor of the technology. What kind of avenues do you see it opening up for games in the future?
Seppo Halonen: I think many big studios are going to stay on the safe ground and go for more realism – improved lighting and materials and fluid and cloth physics and so on. Crazy indies like us are usually tasked to open up new avenues, as we need something unique to pop out from the white noise. For big titles it is a big risk, but for relatively small-budget games it becomes an opportunity.
GearNuke: How do you find this new change in hardware? The PS3 had a strong CPU and a weak GPU but now PS4 has a strong GPU and weak CPU. What do you have to say about this?
Seppo Halonen: The balance of power is different, sure, but unlocking the full power of PS3 CPU was something only few people managed to pull off. And I will take compute shaders over SPUs any day of the week, thank you.
GearNuke: While Stereoscopic 3D hasn’t really been accepted by the masses, Super Stardust HD made a fantastic case in favor of the technology. Are there any plans to offer the same support for Resogun, post-release?
Seppo Halonen: We have long term plans to support the game with DLCs and updates, but at this point we cannot reveal anything specific. We are looking into a lot of options at the moment.
GearNuke: The recent install size for PS4 games like Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall has caused quite a ruckus. Given that Resogun is a digital only title, can you give us any estimated install size for the final build of the game?
Seppo Halonen: There is nothing to worry about there. The game is well under a gigabyte, so size-wise we are rather modest.
GearNuke: Is it even possible to see a stripped down version of Resogun on VITA?
Seppo Halonen: The right question is, would it still be Resogun?
Thanks to Seppo Halonen of HouseMarque for sparing his precious time to answer our questions for this interview.
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