Boundary is an upcoming first-person shooter set in the not too distant future. It features a blend of science fiction and modern military themes. With stunning visuals and a beautiful backdrop of our blue planet, Boundary looks to mix up the genre with light Moba style elements brought into the multiplayer matches.
We recently had the chance to put some questions to CEO and Co-founder of Surgical Scalpels, Frank Mingbo Li and Game Director Yongliang Cui.
I know it has been mentioned that there will be deep customisation for loadouts such as using different ammo types for guns. What other sorts of weapon and loadout customisation can we expect?
Boundary is a game with several classes, assault, assassin, support, medic, etc so it’s very similar to other popular shooters in the respect that certain classes have access to certain attributes and weapon slots. Designing a modular system we’ve been able to provide players with the ability to customize and modify a weapon with various stocks, scopes barrels and such and in this sense all of the weapons are based or influenced by real modern military weapons active today. In addition to customizing weapons, we also have the ability to add camo patterns, patches etc. Unlike other shooters, though we have the actual jet pack units that are also weaponized with various weapon pylons and countermeasures so you’re building a package of offensive and defensive capabilities. Customization, especially deeper customization is something we’ll continue to support even post-launch.
How challenging is it thinking up level designs in a space where you can move in any direction?
Actually it’s quite challenging but relatively straight forward once the design is reviewed and discussed. This is primarily because whichever structure you encounter in a level it will still have some benefit to the player to either hide behind, provide cover to fire from or to stand on. Its function can be utilized whichever way up you are.
Obviously we had to approach the design of the level to provide a good amount of destructible items. In some of these you can fire through to hit your enemy, for example on some maps with solar panels these don’t provide protection against incoming rounds, they shatter with debris floating away to expose whatever is behind it. Having distinct differences in the map design is important though so as a team it’s important we bring ideas that help differentiate from one map to another.
Zero-g presents a unique challenge in terms of game controls and movement, how challenging has that been?
We’re a team that has a good background in physics programming and our approach is to retain a mindset of making an arcade game. As long as we make it fun and easy to pick up. Truth be told it’s been relatively easy on that side in terms of implementing that feeling of movement through zero gravity. What we’ve looked at a lot though is the button mapping and control element, we want it to be intuitive and easy to pick up. The feedback at EGX last year was that once players knew the button layout they took to it very quickly, I guess in part because a lot of these players honed their skills on games like Call of Duty. Initially it might appear that there’s a steep learning curve but that doesn’t last for long when you start playing.
What types of obstacles or environments will players encounter and fight around?
Floating debris is one of the elements we have in maps. Large structures that have been damaged but float can provide cover or ambush points or help players with an anchor point if they’re using the grappling hook which you can see an example of in our new trailer. Some items can be damaged, air containers can explode and solar panels can shatter. The large solar farm we have is basically like a giant mirror with reflective panels some of which shatter with the debris floating into space. It’s nanotech, so over time, these replenish themselves.
What level of realism are you aiming for?
We want to deliver as much realism as possible within the constraints of the platform. That is to say, we’re delivering a near-future look with weapons that are all based on modern military weapons. Structures that wouldn’t look out of place in a real space setting. Suits are inspired by real astronaut suits that NASA and the CSA (Chinese Space Agency) develop so that their appearance is big, bulky and familiar like real astronauts wear. There are variants in that design dependent on the class of course but generally, we are looking for something that is relative, realistic and grounded in people’s minds that they are totally captivated by the realism and look of the game.
Other things like how lighting and shadows fall with our real-world lighting feature. The appearance of structures and the design of weapons – we’ve strived to deliver the best possible realism we can. We must be doing something right, when we launched our teaser trailer on YouTube we even had people praising the barrel wobble on the re-forged AK as it fires that we have in the game.
What game types can we expect to play and how many players?
We’ve got a mix of deathmatch, territory-based games and we’re setting Boundary up as a 5 Vs 5 team-based shooter but we also have 2v2 and 3v3 modes as well for smaller team-based setups.
Can anyone hear you scream in Boundary’s version of space?
No, but the sound design in the game was still important. While there is no sound in space it was essential that through physical feedback of firing a weapon that the player would have a sense that he was indeed firing a weapon. Of course, we’ve taken some artistic license in that sense though which presents the appearance that the guns are making a sound in space. It’s actually the feedback coming back into the spacesuit that’s producing that noise, not the weapon making the noise in the vacuum of space.
Overall though, we’re talking science fiction, adding some physics and a bit of Hollywood magic to create something that players can get excited about, guns that make absolutely no sound at all probably wouldn’t be much fun.
Who are these people fighting in space and why are they fighting?
Boundary is set in a not too distant future where space travel is more common and affordable. There are groups of people, bold yet brave yet also skeptical, they can assume an air of kindness but also ruthlessness.
On one hand, they fight as security agents, on the other hand, they themselves can participate in actions of piracy. They provide services to the highest bidder, they also fight risking their lives for nothing more than to just to pursue justice in their heart.
They are peacekeepers, vigilantes, some are murderers and killers, they are soldiers for hire, they also treat money as if it’s stardust.
Will there be any cross-play between PC and PlayStation?
We’re hoping so, we’re looking into that and that is the goal. We have tested it and we’d like to include that, it makes sense too I think because it’s worked very well at bringing the community of Modern Warfare players together to share that gaming experience within the brand.
Not only that but I think in most modern games players now come to expect that level of functionality.
Is the game purely PVP focused?
For the moment it is, we’ve got ideas on single player for sure but all our resources are focused on delivering one mode at launch with a single-player possibly coming as a DLC. If we do a port to PS5 which is a distinct possibility, we’ll be looking to have both single-player and multiplayer and all the things we couldn’t run with PS4 tech. Primarily all the benefits of more power and memory that comes with PS5.
The PVP modes allow for 5v5,2v2 and 3v3 modes so that players can get together and play.
Will there be any interior fighting with gravity, or is it all non-gravity?
That’s a great question because as a team we actually talked about this as an idea at Gamescom last year. Whereby players would start out in space fully suited in zero gravity and then take the fight into a gravity environment on a space station that creates artificial gravity. Suit visors would go up, there would be no need for piped oxygen and firing weapons within that interior environment could provide different acoustics so in effect there would be a massive visible and physical adjustment of coming from zero gravity to gravity-based combat.
Talking about an idea is, of course, easier than actually building it, going from zero gravity controls to gravity controls has to work in the context of the design and gameplay and in that respect, it has to be intuitive and familiar for players, and that’s what takes time because you’re effectively changing the gameplay physics in very short space of time but we’ll wait and see if that can become a reality or not.
Boundary sounds like it could be an excellent multiplayer experience with lots of new and interesting ideas coming in to play. A solid release date is still unknown and was originally penciled for March this year. Hopefully, it’s not too far off!