GDC 10: Introducing the twitch with Nexuiz


Cobbling together a Quake Engine shooter with Quake 3 mod tools is rough work. Introducing a twitch FPS to a new audience, and then getting them to buy it, seems like a brutal challenge.

Weeks back we received word that open-source PC shooter Nexuiz was headed to PSN and Xbox LIVE Arcade in 2010 with the help of indie developer IllFonic. The studio has licensed the engine and continues to sharpen the visuals, tighten the mechanics, play around with the UI, and fiddle with the formula. But they’ll never make Nexuiz less than what it is: a Quake or Unreal-style FPS.

Talking with the developers this afternoon in San Francisco, I get the impression that the Quake Engine-powered game is something of an interactive history lesson for the younger crowd, the generation that didn’t grow up with the eyestrain from the gibs and bullet blitzkrieg and not a revamp or spin on the sub-genre.

IllFonic isn’t going to fail in that regard. Nexuiz is a pure twitch FPS with blazing frame rate, numerous bizarre weapons, and a frag-or-die bullet-slinging swagger.

The cobwebbed mechanics are just the foundation. The game, which will debut as a multiplayer-only title, will be padded by a scattershot of new age social novelty. Twitter in particular is set to be a major integration. The game’s official account will tweet the day’s Leaderboard’s best and worst, while you’ll have the option to tweet your game-side victories and Achievements from the confines of the title.

Building off the recent successes of games with persistent reward systems, something akin to Call of Duty “Perks” will appear in the game. Users will earn Silver Points that can be applied to their characters for permanent statistical boosts for things like health and armor. Silver Points can also be applied indirectly with another persistent system called “mutagens.”

Mutagens are random attacks that players can initiate at any point during play when kill streaks are reached. Mutagens can do a variety of things that tweak the experience of every player, ranging from giving everyone a rapid-fire weapon to even switching the game mode on the fly. Perks, in other words, can work to bias mutagens effects and randomness.

I couldn’t tell @nickchester how terrible I was doing while I was playing, but I at least had the experience. In brief, Nexuiz feels like the forgotten shooter it wants to be. The combat is frantic and fast like id Software’s Quake Live without the retro baggage. The weapons felt responsive and substantial despite their individual oddities -- and this includes the multi-rocket launch that fired semi-auto like an SMG -- and the lone level I explored had the vertical ferocity and teleporting mayhem we’ve come to expect from a quick-snap FPS.

As a console game it controls as well as you might expect. Nexuiz requires an unforgiving level of accuracy which doesn't translate well at this point. I'm told that the team will continue to fiddle with the auto-aim and smooth out the issue. Otherwise, it feels fine.

Nexuiz is expected to hit PSN and XBLA this summer. The devs told me that the PSN release is confirmed at this point, but the XBLA version is in some sort of limbo with Microsoft. Both versions of the game will be supported with DLC, some of which may add a single-player component, other pieces may add new game modes (CTF and Team Deathmatch are the only two in the core game), and new weapons.

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Brad Nicholson
Brad Nicholson   gamer profile

I'm Brad Nicholson. I've been around, but Destructoid is where my dawgs at. You can see my work here, at MTV, at Giant Bomb or other great places around the Internet. I also run a podcast called ... more + disclosures



Filed under... #GDC #Previews #PSN #Xbox Live Arcade



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