Cliff Bleszinski shares amazing game concepts as the studio he co-founded closes its doors

Boss Key Productions, the developer behind competitive first-person shooter LawBreakers and battle royale game Radical Heights, is shutting down. Despite some favorable impressions for LawBreakers and the sense of Radical Heights starting to carve out a niche for itself among the many other battle royale hopefuls, the games simply didn't make enough money to sustain the studio. Co-founder Cliff Bleszinski (also known as CliffyB) announced the closure on Twitter with a heartfelt note:

Although Boss Key only released two games to the public, Bleszinski revealed more concepts he and the team had hoped to make. The first is an intriguing blend of old and new ideas under the codename "DragonFlies" because, well... 

Yeah. It's about dragons. That fly. Bleszinski described the setting as "feudalpunk," with floating islands players would travel between. In this game, dragons would be akin to fighter planes launched from a carrier, and Bleszinski said he hoped the game would do for dragon riding what Halo did for vehicles - if Halo also had you hatch Warthogs (the car, not the animal) from eggs and raise them.

The next game shared by Bleszinski was codenamed "Rover," but may have launched under the title "DOGWalkers". Sort of a combination between Star Trek: Bridge Crew and Steel Battalion, five teams of five players would enter into an enormous walking tank known as a Destructive Ordnance on the Ground (DOG), then work together to take out enemy teams.

In this game, each player would be assigned a specific role, and would have to perform actions to not only attack foes, but protect their team. So if the mech took a hit and started to leak toxic gas, players would have to don gas masks. If a leg was damaged, they'd have to rappel down the side to perform repairs. Personally, I really dig this one. Frantic co-op games like Bridge Crew or, looking further back, Spaceteam, can be tons of fun. And I love the vaguely Metal Gear-ish look to the DOGs too.

On the opposite end of the grim-n-gritty spectrum, we have "Donuts!", a game about cartoonish anthropomorphic animals racing down a river in inflatable tubes.

Bleszinski said he imagined Donuts! as a spiritual successor to the 1988 Atari arcade game, Toobin', and he hoped it would help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder. Basically, Mario Kart but with water instead of asphalt, animals instead of Nintendo characters, and played in virtual reality. Players would drink ginger beer for health, toss crushed cans at enemies, and slam both hands downward to jump over obstacles. Sounds to me like a more interactive version of PlayStation VR Worlds' luge demo, which I'm all for.

Unfortunately, publishers didn't bite. Speaking specifically about DragonFlies, Bleszinski said the game was pitched to Microsoft, Sony, EA, Activision, 2K, and Warner Bros. No dice. Bleszinski bemoaned his interactions with publishers, saying that they were simultaneously too dismissive of ideas that were similar to existing products and too hesitant to jump on novel projects:

It's rare for someone in the industry to be this forthcoming about their experiences, and I hope Bleszinski feels better having at least a portion of these ideas reach the public and getting frustrations off his chest.

As for us, the would-be players of these games, keep in mind that games are made and destroyed by the development process. DragonFlies *sounds* really cool, but so did Lair and Scalebound. DOGWalkers' art gets my blood pumping, but would the game be fun for every role? Donuts! could be a tremendous joy, or a motion sickness-inducing nightmare. It's easy to read these ideas and imagine a fully-formed game playing exactly the way we want. But that's not how development works, and it's terribly unfortunate that Boss Key won't get to execute on these ideas.

If there is a silver lining to this, it's that while Boss Keys' specific visions will probably never come to pass, now that these concepts are out there, maybe someone else will take the ball and run with it. Maybe it'll even be you?

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Sam Prell

Sam is a former News Editor here at GamesRadar. His expert words have appeared on many of the web's well-known gaming sites, including Joystiq, Penny Arcade, Destructoid, and G4 Media, among others. Sam has a serious soft spot for MOBAs, MMOs, and emo music. Forever a farm boy, forever a '90s kid.