You may not have heard about Robotoki. It’s a little studio based in California that has just announced its first title, Human Element – it’s about zombies, but not really. While other studios – even indie developers – had big, flashy booths at E3, Robotoki was represented by one guy, who met us at the top of a staircase at a prescribed time.
And while cynics will dismiss the games industry for bowing to the cult of personality, it’s undeniable that this one guy is the reason everybody is so interested in what would otherwise be just another start-up creating just another video game.
That one guy: Robert Bowling, former Creative Strategist at Infinity Ward, the studio behind Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. In late March of this year, Bowling made the decision to step down from the developer, sign off from the franchise completely and leave Activision in order to start up his own project – and that project is Robotoki.
When Robotoki was first revealed, back in April, Bowling copped more than a little flak, with angry FPS gamers blaming him for almost everything wrong with almost everything. Others were upset at Bowling’s time in the limelight – as a “glorified PR schill”, what skills did he have to run a studio? Still others wrote him – and the studio – off without a second thought: Why was everybody fawning over this one company when there were plenty of other indies who had to work to make people notice them?
Fortunately, working for a franchise such as Modern Warfare (actually – online gaming as a whole) has given Bowling a thick skin when it comes to things like this. He can handle it. Having stood in the firing line for someone else’s decisions, facing the bullets because of your own actions is almost relaxing.
Human Element is looking at a release date of some time in 2015, on PC, mobile devices and whatever home consoles are floating around at that time.