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Boss Key Productions’ Co-Founder Cliff Bleszinski Unveils VR Concepts Following Studio Shutdown

Boss Key Productions, the studio responsible for the recent FPS/ Hero Shooter Lawbreakers as well as the Battle Royale title Radical Heights, officially closed its doors earlier this month. And while the shutdown may seem strikingly sudden to some, it makes sense to those who have been following along with the studio’s efforts: Lawbreakers, their first title, had all the bells and whistles of a Triple-A FPS, with quirky characters, smooth animations and glitzy graphics, yet performed terribly in global markets, with concurrent player counts quickly dropping below 1,000 players. This proved disastrous for the company, as those smooth animations and glitzy graphics were not only an indication of polish but also of a (likely) hefty production cost (which was never officially released by Boss Key), making this failed investment an even bigger blow. Radical Heights didn’t fare much better and was quickly dismissed as a cash grab by a desperate studio, thanks to its pay-to-win elements which studio representatives have struggled to defend.

After the shutdown, Studio Co-Founder Cliff Bleszinski released a closing statement on Twitter where he spoke of the tireless work his team and he had put into their projects, as well as admitting that Radical Heights was a “last ditch attempt” that, while well-received, ended up being “too little, too late” to save the studio. Bleszinski also mentioned wanting to take some time off to reflect on what had happened and has since taken to Twitter to reveal concept art and information about VR projects that the studio had planned to work on during its hypothetical lifespan.

The first of two revealed projects sounds nothing short of spectacularly nuts. Meant as a spiritual successor to the Atari River Racing title Toobin’, Bleszinski’s concept was meant to emulate “Mario Cart with animals on water for VR.” In other tweets, Bleszinski elaborates on the game’s unusual style and methods of interaction: “You could drink beer for health, crush cans on your head, or shake up full ones for AOE attacks.” This plus more of Bleszinski’s descriptions craft an image of a wonderfully joyful and colorful experience that sounds fairly original, but also one that never made it off the drawing board.

Bleszinski also mentioned a second concept titled “DogWalkers” (Short for Destructive Ordinance Ground Walkers) that would allow players to take control of a giant, four-legged mecha (pictured here) and pit them against other similar walkers in head-to-head multiplayer combat. Players wouldn’t be operating the massive machines by themselves, though: They’d be working in tightly-knit operating teams, where they could choose from multiple crew positions such as pilot or gunner.

The players would also need to be wary of small holes in the mecha, since Bleszinski also revealed that the air in the Dogwalkers universe would be highly toxic. Players would need to work quickly to patch up holes or face a gruesome fate. To accelerate this process, players would have the option to don protective gear and rappel down the outside of the walker, using wrenches and other tools to repair the damage more effectively.

But that’s not the end of Blezinski’s wild idea chain. Besides these two VR titles, this Twitter thread shows Cliff’s take on a cooperative PvE title that would have players acting as “ninja/samurai in airships riding dragons fighting zombies with friends in a (PVE) “feudalpunk” setting on floating islands. Although this single concept image suggests that the concept was only in its early stages, other tweets from Bleszinski reveal more information: “Side note of a $40m budget. So not cheap. (…) 85 people three years plus outsourcing.” The presence of an estimated budget and a production timeline hints that the project was further along than the single piece of concept art would lead one to believe. It is possible that the game had many more designs that were fully fleshed out by the time Lawbreakers began to “break” into markets, and by the time its poor performance began to put the heat on Bosskey productions. If this wild and diverse plethora of concept pieces has anything to say, though, it’s that Cliff Bleszinski has proven that he is capable of inventing new and exciting ideas, and it sheds hope to Cliff’s possible future in the gaming industry.


Featured Image Via Flickr/steamXO

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