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Robotoki Is Shutting Down

The company's upcoming project, Human Element, is officially on hiatus.

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Independent developer Robotoki, the studio founded by former Activision creative strategist Robert Bowling, has shut down as of today, according to a report from Joystiq.

"This week we have ceased operations at Robotoki and the development of Human Element is on hiatus," Bowling said in a statement to Joystiq. "We were actively negotiating a new publishing deal for the premium version of Human Element but unfortunately I was unable to continue to self-fund development until a deal was finalized."

The studio had been working on Human Element since 2012, when the studio was first founded. It was to be a survival game set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic universe. The company released Drop Squad 4, an iOS and Android puzzle game, last year. It also unsuccessfully attempted to fund The Adventures of Dash, a 2D-style platformer, via Kickstarter in 2013.

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79 Comments

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Quarters

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Ouch, did not see that coming, at least not this fast.

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AssInAss

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3 years and what they had to show for it was a CGI trailer with a mishmash of Borderlands, RAGE, and zombies. Not surprised this happened.

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BisonHero

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Well that came out of nowhere given that didn't they just show a trailer for the game at The Game Awards? I guess Human Element has been in development for kind of a while, with not a lot of updates, so maybe that was their last ditch effort to get it some attention.

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Veektarius

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Bit of a crowded genre to debut in...

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Pudge

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A survival game with zombies was their big bet, so no surprise here. Maybe in 2012 that was novel, but trying to sell that game now or in the future would be like heading up to Alaska to sell blocks of ice.

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Haethos

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Bummer :(

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mike

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As it turns out, developing a game is a lot more difficult than just talking about developing a game.

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violet_

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expected it tbh

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ildon

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I've never heard of this studio, I've never heard of Robert Bowling, and I've never heard of that game.

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Sil3n7

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Back to Respawn he goes?

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mjbrune

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A lot of promises, Human Element, a 2D platform, a prequel of Human Element for Ouya.

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rmanthorp

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rmanthorp  Moderator

After being so hyped and the Ouya 'exclusivity' it all seemed like a mess - and then the reveal trailer showed up and I was pretty confident it wasn't going to be a good game. Still, surprising this all happened before the game shipped. How bizarre - sorry for those effected by the job loss.

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King9999

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Never let it be said that making games is easy.

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ripelivejam

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Guess we'll see this again in 12 years as a class based loot driven f2p 3rd person shooter, eh?

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UlquioKani

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After watching that trailer again, I realize why I couldn't remember what game they were making. That looks mad generic. Pretty good graphics for the Ouya though.

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lachrymoses

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@amyggen said:

@ildon: Thanks for you useless contribution to the comment section.

Actually I was wondering if I was the only one who had no idea what the heck any of this is.

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ildon

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@amyggen: I'm sure a lot of people share my sentiment. Your post, however, as a metacommentary on a comment, is even more useless than mine. Congratulations.

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tuxfool

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@ulquiokani: it is a cg trailer. Also by the time this was released their Ouya plans were kaput.

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UlquioKani

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@tuxfool said:

@ulquiokani: it is a cg trailer. Also by the time this was released their Ouya plans were kaput.

I know it's CG, I was making a poor joke and also taking a shot at the Ouya.

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prencher

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Edited By prencher

@sil3n7 said:

Back to Respawn he goes?

God I hope not. He was the worst part of Modern Warfare 1 & 2 era Infinity Ward. And they have Abbie.

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tuxfool

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Edited By tuxfool

@ulquiokani: Poor Ouya. The game looks pretty bad regardless of what platform it started on. This is doubly true when you consider how far the project swung from its myriad design goals over the years.

@sil3n7 said:

Back to Respawn he goes?

Was he ever at Respawn? I believe he stayed in IW until MW3.

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Sil3n7

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@tuxfool said:

@sil3n7 said:

Back to Respawn he goes?

Was he ever at Respawn? I believe he stayed in IW until MW3.

There is a lineage of him and that core team

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Corevi

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Sucks that they lost their jobs and all, though if they had found a publisher they would have just shut down after the game bombed terribly.

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AssInAss

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Guess we'll see this again in 12 years as a class based loot driven f2p 3rd person shooter, eh?

You can bet your butt on that.

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gamefreak9

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@assinass: I never know what to make of those half CGI half gameplay trailers. It feels manipulative that they show something that looks like gameplay if its really just CGI animation without anything hardcoded into the gameplay.

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Naoiko

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Sucks that those people are out of a job. I hope that they find new employment soon.

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L33T_HAXOR

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Who? I mean, I'm sorry for those people but I'm not sure why this is news.

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Spitznock

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People should be able to work if they want to work, so this is a bummer to hear about.
That said, I do not think Human Element looked or sounded all that interesting.

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TOA_Doom

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Hope all these people manage to find jobs, but yeah, this game seemed utterly uninteresting.

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ll_Exile_ll

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It's a shame that people have lost their jobs, but I can't say I'm too broken up about the cancellation of Human Element. Nothing about that game seemed even remotely interesting.

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cornbredx

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I don't know who that is or what that game is.

Sucks people lost their job, though.

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AMyggen

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Who? I mean, I'm sorry for those people but I'm not sure why this is news.

A game studio founded by a pretty notable ex-Infinity Ward employee shutting down is of course news.

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Corevi

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Edited By Corevi
@cornbredx said:

I don't know who that is or what that game is.

The first time I heard of it was when they showed the trailer above at The Game Awards. I thought it was RAGE 2 until the title came up.

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sammo21

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@assinass: I love how they list a CGI trailer as "gameplay trailer". Oh, the balls.

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inspectorfowler

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I followed Bowling on Twitter for quite a while.

He seems like a good dude, but from the beginning I have sort of wondered about this. He was tweeting about his trips to Hawaii and a new Audi R8 he bought (2 years after quitting the IW job), and he frequently talked about what seemed like sort of lavish stuff happening at the Robotoki offices. It felt a lot like the 90s, when some game studios were going nuts with pool tables, hot tubs, etc and then had trouble completing the games they were supposed to make.

Still, like I said, he always seemed like a genuinely nice person. Anybody who can walk away from being the front man for such a massive franchise without immediately becoming a monk or a hermit has to have some good inside them. Robotoki itself made the news a couple times. Once when a late-working employee tripped an alarm and the LAPD came inside only to freak out when they saw a full-size statue of a CoD character, complete with weapon. Nobody got hurt! Another time, they got robbed for real and there was some footage of Bowling chases two idiots out of the studio.

I get the feeling that he had the best intentions of making a great game and he also wanted to create a fantastic environment for his employees, but that ultimately the finances just weren't going to support that kind of project from a brand-new studio.

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tuxfool

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@inspectorfowler said:

Still, like I said, he always seemed like a genuinely nice person. Anybody who can walk away from being the front man for such a massive franchise without immediately becoming a monk or a hermit has to have some good inside them.

What is a front man? Wasn't he the community organizer for IW?

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whitegreyblack

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Edited By whitegreyblack

Human element seemed like an interesting premise when it was basically looked like a The Last of Us rip-off. That "gameplay trailer" though... woof.

(Extreme speculation warning) I'm not convinced they ever really had much of an actual "game" under development, and were hedging their bets on the hopes that a publisher would come in and finance the actual game-making.

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inspectorfowler

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@tuxfool said:

@inspectorfowler said:

Still, like I said, he always seemed like a genuinely nice person. Anybody who can walk away from being the front man for such a massive franchise without immediately becoming a monk or a hermit has to have some good inside them.

What is a front man? Wasn't he the community organizer for IW?

When I say front man, he was the community guy, yes. So that dude had to brave official forums, community events, etc. I would imagine that for any big franchise, you get A - a hugely overwhelming number of people who want or need to speak with you and that B - a lot of those people, especially when the game comes out, are unpleasant. So after a while, I bet that many people get very burned out. He quit, but still seemed like a very positive dude afterwards, where I don't think I would be able to deal with the playerbase of almost any game that directly and be upbeat after a few years of doing it.

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mr_creeper

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@assinass said:

3 years and what they had to show for it was a CGI trailer with a mishmash of Borderlands, RAGE, and zombies. Not surprised this happened.

Loading Video...

Don't recall hearing about this game before, but I can't say I feel like I'm missing out on anything now.

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ArtisanBreads

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Edited By ArtisanBreads

@assinass: Agreed. Harsh, but the game looks super dumb and still not even a game.

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mbradley1992

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I thought it looked uninteresting at TGAs. It didn't portray any sense of a hook that makes it different from Rage, which is what it looks like. That along with being super hush-hush about it for a long time.

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UitDeToekomst

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I hate to see studio closure and job loss as much as the next guy, but from a completely game-player perspective, I really can't say that the shelving of yet another post-zombie apocalypse survival game is a particular disappointment to me.

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bacongames

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It's a stark reminder of how hard it is to do this video game thing and increasingly this is only one of many ways how and why something falls apart.

For people commenting on the game itself, the game looking the way it did is somewhat related I'm sure but worse fates have met more promising games and vice versa.

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billyok

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Edited By billyok

@amyggen said:

@ildon: Thanks for you useless contribution to the comment section.

Ironic post of the day.

Sad news, but this looked like vaporware for a while now, and it certainly wasn't filling a niche. I honestly wondered what was going on with this company and its direction and focus, and can't say the answer surprises me.

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Lurkero

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Trying to release a zombie game as their deput production was a terrible idea. Releasing into a crowded market reeks of unprofitable aspirations. By the time they would have released Human Element plenty of zombie games would have come and gone.

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silentsandman

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I was surprised and sad to read about the studio closing this morning. I got to know and befriend those guys while working with them on the Adventures of Dash project. I was happy to be a part of the studio when it was forming (that police alarm thing was pretty funny the day after), and I hope everyone finds new projects soon.

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Mystyr_E

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was hoping this game would be like true blue survival post-apocalypse kind of thing without all the stupid "infected zombie virus freak" stuff everyone has been doing. Kind of like "This War of Mine" realism but set in a post apocalypse but then trailer comes out and it's oh, it's basically Borderlands meets Rage. Sucks to see a studio close down but game didn't look promising from the start.

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Korolev

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Well, hopefully they can salvage some of the work they've done and use it to buff their CVs - I believe that when a studio goes under, the employees should have the right to at least showcase the work they did on unfinished projects, in order to prove their own skills.