Bossa Studios are well known for their crazy style of video games utilizing unique, and rather odd control schemes. The developer pushed private testing for an upcoming —at the time— arcadey multiplayer skating title called Decksplash. In a sad turn of events, the title ended up being buried and the release became cancelled after failing to meet an insane milestone.
Neversoft’s Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater titles had dominated the video game skateboarding scene from 1999–2007, and then 2009–2015 when Robomodo took over development. EA then introduced Skate which changed the way tricks needed to be performed by using the analogue sticks. Decksplash came along in 2017 and felt like it was on the road to being the next title to totally change everything.
And it did…for a moment.
Decksplash took the fun-filled and unique mechanics that came with previous Bossa Studios titles such as I Am Bread, and Surgeon Simulator, and mashed them into a skateboard game. Players were in control of skateboards without riders but could still perform tricks across levels. The goal was to perform high scoring tricks that —if landed— would unleash a significant amount of paint from the board.
Tricks could be achieved using physics in which players would use the analogue sticks and flip the board in the desired direction. Linking tricks into combos was possible by performing several flips, grinding, or performing a manual in between. If hit by an opposing players shockwave, or bail, then the score is invalid.
Decksplash was the best skateboarding title of 2017. Hands down.
The arcade themed rounds consisted of two teams painting over one another’s colours in a 3v3 setting with teams buffing others for extra points. Landing zones would spawn offering multipliers to their current scores and the team with the most paint coverage at the end won.
Matches were fast-paced, filled with action, and it was looking promising as a title. It even allowed players to customise their boards, trucks, and wheels.
While the paint feature was arguably the most eye-catching feature of Decksplash, it was the way the controls were utilised that brought the magic of Decksplash to life. Incredible tricks could be pulled off with ease, and it felt fun to master.
Some players reported on struggling to get to grips with the system, but later confirmed they couldn’t get on with titles such as I Am Bread for the same reason, it was too fiddly for them.
It was a new system, and it came with a learning curve.
If I wasn’t getting the emails about the next scheduled playtest, I’d have forgotten it existed because there wasn’t much discussion online.
Decksplash had an on-site playtest way back in 2016, but the first private alpha didn’t come to fruition until the early months of 2017. From there the game had almost weekly playtests for invited players. The community surrounding the title was buzzing with positive vibes, but it still felt like it wasn’t being talked about enough. It was a Bossa Studios game after all, and hardly anyone was mentioning it.
Then again, it felt like Bossa wasn’t talking about it as much as they should have been.
The developer decided to launch the Splash N’ Grab event — an interesting proposition that confused many to the point Bossa needed to make a video explaining the announcement. It was a ballsy move, promising that Decksplash would launch instantly into early access the moment they hit 100,000 players during the free week.
The catch was that if they failed to meet the goal, it was to be scrapped and the studio would move on to another title.
The decision for this came from a business standpoint which actually makes a lot of sense. Hitting 100,000 players would indicate that there could be enough purchases to maintain a viable multiplayer experience with populated lobbies. If unable to hit 100,000 players during a free week, then it would be likely that the multiplayer experience would fail.
The latter would, of course, result in unhappy customers when they’re unable to connect to full games resulting in a short-lived life.
As the Splash N’ Grab came to a close, Bossa inhaled deeply and made the announcement that they had only just scraped 60,000 players over the course of the week. The game became cancelled that day with the official Discord channel going into meltdown with distraught players spamming “F” for respect. There may have been abuse too…but let’s forget that.
The day after, the team behind Decksplash allowed players to have one last ride before officially closing the servers and locking the Discord channel down.
Decksplash is a title that deserves to be remembered for what it brought to the table.
— Ben Bayliss (@Ben_Bayliss) November 11, 2017
It was a shame to see such a well-developed title binned, but a part of me feels like Bossa Studios —and the players— just didn’t promote it enough before the Splash N’ Grab. If I wasn’t getting the emails about the next scheduled playtest, I’d have forgotten it existed.
During the build-up to, and during the free week they did ramp up their social media game. But on top of the official account tweeting more frequently, other players had started to tweet cries of desperation to save the Splatoon feeling skater title. Decksplash ended up getting attention from names like Jacksepticeye, and various large gaming outlets, but by this point, it wasn’t enough.
Decksplash’s failed launch meant that it didn’t get to breathe new life into the dying skateboard genre. However, it did still happen, successfully giving us a taste of a new experience for skating games. Decksplash is a title that deserves to be remembered for what it brought to the table.
While the paint feature was arguably the most eye-catching feature of Decksplash, it was the way the controls were utilised that brought the magic of Decksplash to life.
Interestingly there were a fair amount of people only just discovering the title after the event. It began to look like it just didn’t get to meet the audience it needed. It is silly that the games fate was left almost entirely to word of mouth, however, hitting 60,000 players in that week was still an achievement.
Convincing the business side of Bossa that was nigh impossible though.
I’m glad to have been a part of the exciting community and to have played in the playtests that saw the development progress improve each week. Even the potential for post-launch content was huge with more loot, game modes, hell, even a Battle Royale could have existed. Decksplash was the best skateboarding title of 2017. Hands down.
Maybe the upcoming Session from EA —announced earlier this year— will introduce us to some interesting gameplay. But for Decksplash, there are no more dank ass flips.
Thanks to Game Designer Andreas Yiannikaris for providing some facts.