Boundary Interview – Creating an FPS in Space and What’s in Store for the Future

I love feeling surprised when I see a new game reveal. One look at the Surgical Scalpels developed FPS Boundary and I’m sure you’ll feel the same way I did. The game is not your typical FPS. Instead, the developers have brought the fight to outer space where players will battle it out in zero gravity. The game encourages strategic combat and skill as you work with your time to take down the opposing players.

It’s a unique formula that must have been a huge undertaking given that the game was developed by a small indie studio based in China. However, their skills as developers show in the game’s presentation.

We had the opportunity to interview Boundary Technical Director Frank Mingbo Li to learn more about the studio and this ambitious project.

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Azario Lopez: Boundary was developed under the China Hero Project banner. How was your experience with the initiative and do you believe that it is giving the world a good idea of the video games that China has to offer?

Frank Mingbo Li: For smaller more independent developers like ourselves, the initiative is a vital lifeline to broaden the reach and viability of Chinese developed games to a more global market, without that support I think it would have been much more challenging to bring Boundary to the Western market. The overwhelming response we got when we showed the game at EGX recently was a testament that players outside China were extremely receptive to the game and liked what we had to offer so that was a massive confidence boost for the team.

AL: How did the idea of an FPS in space come about?

FL: Boundary actually started off as a sketch of two astronauts fighting in space, a concept piece if you like of what and how combat in space would take shape between two warring entities. The larger concept was that we didn’t want to jump decades into the future with laser-based weapons or bolt guns and wanted to keep the weapon technology based on modern military bullet firing designs. The idea being that the concept has a more realistic sense of attachment for players to the concept of combat in space.

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AL: How many multiplayer maps are you targeting to launch with? And do you have plans to implement any single player offerings?

FL: Boundary will launch with between 4-6 maps initially and these will offer up different destructibility opportunities for players across a variety of game modes. A single Player campaign story is something we’d like to bring to Boundary but we may consider adding that as DLC. Being a small studio we had to balance single-player and multiplayer for launch and to do both would have been a massive undertaking. Huya coming on board as our publisher means we have the backing to bring those ideas to the fold but we don’t want to delay the game a second time for players. Delaying the game further to add a campaign mode is always possible but not something we want to do.

AL: During development were there any notable delays that you encountered? How did you overcome them?

FL: I wouldn’t call them delays, we did experiment with PSVR to see how the technology could potentially interface with what we were bringing to the FPS genre. We’re excited about VR and the possibilities with the technology but feel that it’s not quite at a place where we’d like it to be in order to support a full launch experience just yet. Boundary had a tech demo that many assumed was our full release plan but that wasn’t the case, we explored the tech which was a lot of fun, but it deviated from our primary goal, which has always been to produce a modern military sci-fi FPS multiplayer game. A VR mode might be something we bring to Boundary as DLC later on though, so stay tuned!

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AL: Can you tell us a little about weapon customization and any kind of level progression in the game such as unlockables?

FL: Players will gradually unlock specialists, weapons, attachments, and abilities. Most weapons are able to adjust their barrel, receiver. ammo type and so on. Weapons will show different performance though your customization. Last thing but not least, of course, you can modify your weapon’s appearance into what you like. Our weapons in Boundary are modular in a way where you modify the base platform based on your selected class and can swap out different components to build the gun you want from the available items, scopes, compensators, stocks, etc. Additional camo options allow players to add their own visual touch to how the gun looks too.

AL: Was it difficult for the team to get the physics right to give the player the feeling that they are in space?

FL: Precisely, the core difficulty is to balance reality and playability. The game must be playable and provide that sense of actually being in zero gravity. Sometimes we have to imagine these physics because none of us have ever been to space but we’ve referenced a lot of things from Nasa, movies, books and astronaut first-hand accounts to give us some ideas to work from.

AL: Do you plan on implementing cross-play with the PS4 and PC version of the game?

FL: Crossplay is absolutely a convenient function for players and yes we will try implementing this function into our game but it will take some time. Overall I think crossplay helps broaden the community of a game and I think it’s becoming more acceptable and expected that most games in the PS4 lifecycle should be providing that for players. We have tested Crossplay, it works but implementing that into a full release presents various challenges we are currently looking at.

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AL: What’s your favorite loadout to play in Boundary and why?

FL: Each Loadout has its own characteristic, but personally I choose a sniper rifle for my primary mostly. It is interesting to calculate the trajectory over long distances and it gives you a sense of accomplishment when you hit someone with a killer shot.

AL: Does Surgical Scalpels have plans to support Boundary post-launch?

FL: We do, we’ve had some great feedback on the game but as a team we also have lots of hopes and dreams like any developer has for the expansion of their game. We’re currently looking at things like new classes to add to the 6 players can select at launch, new maps, new modes and of course new weapons.

AL: Is there anything you’d like to say to fans awaiting Boundary or just hearing about it for the first time?

FL: Thank you for your long-term attention. We will try our best to make an excellent space shooter for you. This game condenses our efforts and you will experience a different feeling from other FPS games.lastly we welcome PS4 and PC gamers to join Boundary’s growing community on Discord, we’d love to hear from you.

Boundary coming to PlayStation 4 and PC in Q1 2020.

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Azario Lopez

Hanging out max, relaxing all cool.