Nex Machina - HMQ-Yepe

We are currently working on an unannounced project for PC. It is rather early in development but as the production moves forward we are going to need testers for it.

You can apply with this form.

If you get accepted, you will receive an electronic non-disclosure agreement that you need to sign. After that you will receive more information about the project and its future tests. Expect something other than an arcade game.

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Assault Android Cactus

In June of last year, Housemarque launched an arcade shooter named Nex Machina. After years of Sony exclusives like Resogun, Nex Machina gave PC players their first taste of Housemarque's style of refined twin-stick shooter since The Reap came out in 1997. Even more tantalisingly for genre connoisseurs, Eugene Jarvis—designer of Robotron: 2084 and Smash TV—came on board as a consultant. Nex Machina was a spiritual successor to those games, and was widely praised as an exemplar of the form. Our own review called it a "a breathless modern arcade classic that delivers more thrills per minute than almost anything else out there."

However, several months after Nex Machina's launch, Housemarque took to its blog and burst the bubble. "ARCADE IS DEAD," the headline declared. "Despite critical success and numerous awards, our games just haven’t sold in significant numbers. … Lackluster sales of Nex Machina have led us to the thinking that it is time to bring our longstanding commitment to the arcade genre to an end."

Nex Machina, Housemarque (2017)

That commitment, spanning more than 20 years, can hardly be questioned. And yet Housemarque found itself announcing to the world that it is now "exploring something totally different than what you might expect of us." It had made possibly its finest arcade shooter yet, and still saw no viable road ahead.

What could Housemarque conclude, then, other than that the genre is dead? 

People's perception of the genre is that it's a kind of lower tier

Tim Dawson

The statement caused ripples among the other game developers working on arcade-style shooters. "Housemarque is a very influential developer and we've run into them a couple of times, so it was a big blow for us to hear that," says Tim Dawson of Assault Android Cactus developer Witch Beam. "Kind of demoralizing."

"A big part of development is trying to guess a lot about what the market's doing and trying to answer unanswerable questions like that," he says. "So it's scary when someone you think of as a peer says the genre's dead." 

Assault Android Cactus, Witch Beam (2015)

But while there was disappointment among Witch Beam's three-strong team, there was little surprise. The team had fielded enough questions about its choice of genre during the promotion phase of Assault Android Cactus to get "a sense that that market is not as big as other genres."

"People's perception of the genre is that it's a kind of lower tier," adds Dawson. "It's distractionware, it's not like a serious or significant game. Which is a problem when you're trying to convince people that your game is worth their time and their money."

Witch Beam was adamant that Assault Android Cactus was "priced appropriately, or even too low," yet continued to receive messages calling for the game to be discounted to $5 or lower. Dawson also recalls Jamestown developer Final Form Games sharing similar concerns when they met at an expo, reporting that players were positive about it after deep discounts or its inclusion in bundles but were largely reluctant to pay full price. Final Form has written that "Jamestown has been downloaded illegally countless times." 

Jamestown, Final Form (2011)

For Dawson, historical associations have a part to play in skewing perceptions of value for arcade-style games. They're seen as dated throwbacks, he says, saddled with undeserved baggage in much the same way that indie games featuring pixel art have been accused of lazy bandwagon-jumping. In fact, a keenness to steer clear of these stereotypes led to Assault Android Cactus avoiding the lo-fi, abstract look in favor of a more complex style. It's an even greater consideration now, with Witch Beam prototyping ideas for new games.

[Housemarque] have actually sold, relatively, a metric shit-ton of games

Caspian Prince

"Thinking about ways to make a game read as richer or more complicated has actually been a huge part of our internal prototyping method," says Dawson. “We're deliberately considering games that will look more impressive, more like 'bigger' genres, but still manage to keep that arcade feel at their heart because it's something we love and are good at."

Witch Beam's stance is not quite 'arcade is dead', then, but part of its approach is an acceptance that the genre is not particularly marketable. Puppy Games, an indie developer of 'neo-retro arcade games', came to the same conclusion four years ago. "Nobody actually buys these kinds of games anymore, and specifically nobody buys them on Steam," states Puppy Games co-founder Caspian Prince.

Revenge of the Titans, Puppy Games (2010)

So he was hardly shocked by Housemarque's big statement. "I was so totally unsurprised that I could have even put a fiver on it," he says. The key issue, Prince argues, is one of scale. While Puppy Games has a core team of just two people, working from home and with relatively little overhead, Housemarque's Helsinki studio houses more than 20 employees. 

"They have actually sold, relatively, a metric shit-ton of games," he says. "If you look at the sales for Nex Machina, it's sold 100,000 copies or something. It's done fantastically well by anyone's standards. To make a game that sells that many on Steam these days, you're not even in the 1%—you're in the 0.1%."

Those are sales numbers would delight Puppy Games, who "scratched away in the dirt for years and never really made any coin," according to Prince, and Witch Beam, who "definitely didn't find a huge audience" with Assault Android Cactus. But these small teams have found something sustainable on a smaller scale, and this is where the future of the genre seems to lie.

Son of Scoregasm, R C Knight (2017)

Prince points to the recently released Son of Scoregasm, "which is just amazing and was made by a bloke called Charlie in his bedroom. It's a perfect example of the genre, and it's cost him peanuts to make." 

Dawson echoes the point. "I don't disbelieve that Housemarque's decision was right for them," he considers. "I imagine they have all the numbers, have followed the trends, and that sounds like what would be a correct call for them. But I don't think it's right for everyone."

And as long as that's the case, as long as there are passionate individuals operating at a small enough scale that not every game needs to be a smash hit, it won't truly be the end of the arcade shooter.

Nex Machina - HMQ-Yepe
We've implemented fixes for the issues caused by the meltdown vulnerability. All online interactions in Nex Machina should now work as intended.

Earlier the patches installed by our cloud provider caused our backend to experience unusual load. At first we suspected a DDoS attack as we didn't get more errors than we usually did. However, after further investigation we discovered that a particular backend request was taking an unusually long time. This request scans a very large table for player entries in the leaderboards and due to its massive size the operation had become notably slower after the meltdown patch.

We implemented a workaround and you can see the results below. Turns out it's now even better than it was before!

Nex Machina - HMQ-Yepe
Hi everyone!

There has been an increased amount of reports during the past few days about various server problems including the availability of online arena, leaderboards and player customization. We've investigated the issue and it would seem that the cause of the problem are the recent patches to the Meltdown vulnerability.

After the patch our backend server has experienced 4-5 times bigger load than it did before. This has caused the unexpected issues that you are currently experiencing in Nex Machina. You can see the impact of the patch in the picture below.



We are trying to mitigate the effects to the best of our ability. You can expect issues during the next two weeks as due to the nature of the problems we'll pretty much have to test the fixes in live environment. Meanwhile we ask for your patience and please continue reporting any issues that you may experience. Thank you for understanding.
Arms Dealer

You've read Eurogamer's games of 2017 list, but how did we settle on the top 10? A mixture of science and alcohol, it turns out.

Our top 50 games list was compiled via a voting process. Eurogamer staff and contributors were asked to submit their top 10 games of 2017, and points were distributed accordingly. This process provided us with an initial top 50.

Then, we all popped along to our local here in Brighton to thrash it out, with a particular focus on the top 10. We thought it would be fun to let our dear readers in on the chat (complete with all the swearing - apologies for our filthy mouths).

Read more…

Trine 2: Complete Story - Valve
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence, save big on great games from Finnish developers during this week's Midweek Madness*!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
Trine 2: Complete Story - Valve
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Finland's independence, save big on great games from Finnish developers during this week's Midweek Madness*!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
Dec 4, 2017
Nex Machina - HMQ-Yepe
Hi!

We have just released a small patch that fixes three bugs related to feats. You can now gain progress in the feats "The culling - Converter Harvester" & "The culling - Berserk Harverster". In addition we removed the feat "The culling - Pulsestar" as such an enemy no longer exists in the game.

-------------------------------------------------
v1.06 0073 - December 4th, 2017
December Feats Update

Feats
* Fixed feat: The culling - Converter Harvester
* Fixed feat: The culling - Berserk Harvester
* Removed feat: The culling - Pulsestar

Localization
* Fixed multiple issues in the Asian languages
-------------------------------------------------

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Nex Machina

In the early weeks of its life, the PS3 was Super Stardust HD. That's how I remember it anyway. And when the PS4 came around, it turned out that the PS4 was Resogun. The news today that low sales have forced Housemarque, who made both these games, to declare that 'Arcade is dead' lends all of these memories a bittersweet tinge. And yet - and I mean this as the highest compliment I can come up with - it's hard to have too many emotions around games like Super Stardust and Resogun, other than panic and excitement - extreme, panoramic excitement. Bittersweet melancholy doesn't stick about for long.

Housemarque has made a lot of great games over the years, but when I think of the developer, I tend to think of a holy trinity: Stardust, Resogun and this year's Nex Machina. All three have Eugene Jarvis in common - the first two are creative reinventions of Jarvis's greatest arcade achievements, Robotron and Defender, while the man himself turned up to help with Nex Machina - but they also have other things that draw them together in my head. Precision controls? Check. A focus on points? Double-check. Most of all, though, they're all about spectacle. These games are just beautiful to behold, glittering with busy light, erupting in tidal roars of voxels, scattering sparks and flames and laser beams in every direction. When you look at a Housemarque game you can't look away.

Much of this beauty is funneled through the mechanics. It's impossible to daydream about Stardust glory without dreaming about perfect control over those weapons that sway back and forth as you race over the globe of each level, flailing death around like a whip, like a leash. It's impossible to think of the sheer style of Resogun without remembering the way that clear robotic voice speaks to you through the controller, reminding you of the three or four different things that are constantly fighting for your attention in a game that is not so much about finding a life amongst tightly choreographed death as it is about juggling priorities as you do so. Beyond all that, though, there is a layer of graphical majesty which initially seems to be simply, joyously gratuitous - beauty for the sake of beauty.

Read more…

Nex Machina - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

“Arcade is dead,” Finnish studio Housemarque declared today. They’re overstating a little, of course, but they are done with the genre themselves. Housemarque have been making ace arcade games for over twenty years, from Super Stardust through to Nex Machina, but say they’re simply not making enough money to justify making more. So they won’t. They’re not done with games entirely, mind, and say we might be surprised by what they make next. Housemarque aren’t the only folks making arcade games, of course, but it’s a terrible shame to see even they struggled in the genre. (more…)

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