Yesterday, Cliff Bleszinski announced the closing of Boss Key Productions. This news, while not completely unsurprising, was still disappointing, especially since Bleszinski has since used Twitter to share several potential game ideas his studio was developing. Some of these titles are downright awesome.
The first one was DragonFlies, a “PVE ‘feudelpunk'” game that pitted dragon-riding ninjas and samurai against zombies. Gamers would have ridden dragons into battle as if they were planes. In Bleszinski’s own words, Boss Key Productions would have “[learned] from the mistakes of Lair/Scalebound” and strived to produce something that mixed the Never Ending Story and How to Train your Dragon. A VR companion app that would have let players feed their dragons even could have been developed later on down the line. In addition, the game would have had a budget of $40 million.
The second game Bleszinski posted on Twitter was a team-based VR title initially called Rover that evolved into DogWalkers. It wasn’t a game about actually walking dogs but instead gamers teaming up to pilot giant quadripedal mechs. Think MechWarrior meets Steel Battalion and Zoids (an anime where people pilot various animal-shaped mechs). According to Bleszinski, the game was inspired by World War 2 tank battles, World of Tanks, and the movie Fury. DogWalkers would have featured 5v5v5v5v5 battles and a toxic in-game atmosphere, so payers would have had to balance repairing their mechs with combating other mechs. If nothing else, DogWalkers is a unique concept.
The final game Bleszinksi shared (so far) was a stark departure from DragonFlies and DogWalkers’ realism. Titled Donuts!, this game would have been VR. Described as “Mario Kart on water with animals in VR” and a “spiritual sequel to Toobin,” the game would have featured cartoonish animals and weaponized cans of “(ginger) beer” — Bleszinski’s words, not mine. Bleszinski even wanted to demo the game at PAX with VR headsets and actual inner tubes. Again, this was a novel concept that likely would have drawn plenty of attention, especially since Bleszinski wanted to market the game towards adult fans of the original Toobin game. And, full disclosure, I am a fan of the original Toobin.
All of these images and more are available on Bleszinski’s Twitter page along with others. These picture are a sobering reminder that the company behind them is no more. Boss Key Production’s two games, Lawbreakers and Radical Heights, may not have been well received, but Bleszinski’s Twitter feed demonstrates that Boss Key was full of promising ideas. Had the studio been able to successfully pitch DragonFlies, maybe it would still be open. But all we can do now is hope Bleszinski the best in his future endeavors.