At E3 1995 it was announced that now-defunct Boss Game Studios were working on an unnamed Virtual Boy title. Thanks to a tip from our reader gilgamesh, we were now able to talk to two of the people behind the game and uncover details about it.
The game was called “3D Tank” and was a 1st person sci-fi tank sim (like the arcade classic, Battlezone). It was developed by a team of three at Boss back in 1995. Hans Piwenitzky created the initial concept in form of a “15-20 second animated demo created with an early version of Autodesk 3D, complete with a floating HUD UI”. Todd Downing created further concept art, but did not spend much time on the game either since it was a secondary project in his workload. “Perhaps a week of work, no longer”, he said. Third was an unknown programmer, who by far spend the most time on the game.
Statements regarding how far 3D Tank had come are conflicting, though. According to Todd Downing “the game was completed but Nintendo killed the Virtual Boy platform just prior to 3D Tank’s release, so it never made it out the door.” Hans Piwenitzky on the other hand told us that “nothing was ever pursued for the 3D Tank title. Boss Game did have a Virtual Boy, and had plans to develop titles for the system, but they never went further.” Of course, this does not come surprising if one keeps in mind that we’re talking about 17 years ago here, with both having only spend a very short timespan on the project.
However, by putting together all the available bits of information, it seems that 3D Tank was in development for some months before Boss decided to “not pursue any futher development for the Virtual Boy”. As Todd Downing told us, he “personally witnessed actual gameplay on the programmer’s dev kit. It had a functioning UI and controls, and at least one playable level.”
Unfortunately, none of the assets from the game were attainable, or even seem to have survived. “Honestly I doubt any of the finished work survived. All of our work (code and art alike) was for-hire, meaning Boss owned it all. And none of the guys who worked on the game were at Boss when they closed up shop.” Downing said.
To get an idea what the game might have looked like, have a look at the following mockups of a Virtual Boy Battlezone, that were created by Defunct Games in 2002.
A good idea for a homebrew game
Simple (compared to making an rpg atleast) and would look cool on the vb
Come Planet VB let’s track this code down. This could go as the rarest game ever for this console.
Wow, great job at tracking this info down. I can picture a great homebrew of this using danb’s hunter engine.
well I think the vetrex has a game like this so just use that source code, would not be to hard or?
change color to red and add another screen
I’m sorry but posting screens of what the game “might have looked like” is pretty misleading. At least put it at the top because I was reading the whole post thinking that the screens were from the game.
I talked to one more former Boss employee in the meantime and got more confirmation that the game did not get very far. That person is Dan Chang, who was lead programmer on Spider (Playstation), which was the first published game from Boss in 1996. To quote him:
No, I didn’t work on that game, sorry. I’m trying to remember who did work on it, but also drawing a blank… from what I can recall, the project didn’t get very far before it was canceled.
@Vaughanabe13: I hope I didn’t disappoint you too much. 😉 But I see your point and have moved the screens to the “extended part” of the article.
@akumie: I wish I had a Ferrari, but since my 16 year old Opel Astra is a car as well I could just make it a Ferrari by painting it red and adding 400 PS, right?
When writing stuff like that it shows how little you know about programming.
First of all, they use different processors, basically nothing is the same and I think it’s safe to say almost nothing of the code for a Vectrex game could be used for a VB version. Maybe if there was some C/C++ source code for it…
Vecrex also has vector graphics, so not even that could be copied – fastest way would be to write it from scratch.
As bigmak mentioned, Danb’s super excellent Hunter engine would be a good start for such a Tank-game.
Update: Found (thanks to gilgamesh once more) one more person who worked on the game, audio engineer Barry Leitch. Unfortunately, he did not remember much either.
“Yeah I remember we started work on that, I don’t think I did any audio for it bar a title tune, and I don’t think I have that any more.”