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'10 years ago, we were just a couple of friends in my apartment trying to figure out what we wanted to do': the studio at the heart of the boomer shooter boom reflects on its first decade

 Dusk hero art showing various enemies arranged movie poster style.
Dusk hero art showing various enemies arranged movie poster style.

New Blood Interactive and its longtime members have an almost "elder statesman" position in the boomer shooter scene⁠—the indie FPS milieu that celebrates design and aesthetic trends from the '90s and early '00s. That status hardly came about overnight, though.

"10 years ago, we were just a couple of friends in my apartment trying to figure out what we wanted to do," founder Dave Oshry told me in an interview covering the studio's decade anniversary, as well as the release of an SDK and visual remaster for its 2018 FPS, Dusk. "There was never a plan other than to hang out with friends and try to make games, which was the same thing I was trying to do 10 years ago. It just turns out that that's actually the way to stay together."

"Most of the stuff we did for the first two years never released," Oshry said. The initial reveal of Dusk in 2016 was a major turning point for the studio, tapping into an underserved audience of FPS enthusiasts. While there were sporadic throwbacks like Painkiller in the new millennium, and id's 2016 Doom reboot was a major success, Dusk really codified the indie scene as the home of the boomer shooter moving into the 2020s.

"When we were showing Dusk at QuakeCon for the first time," said creator David Szymanski, "there were a lot of people that I saw coming in and being really shocked. Like, 'Is that an old game? It looks like Quake!' and being really interested in that."

"We definitely didn't see it exploding into this whole subgenre," Oshry said. It's now harder than ever to stand out as a boomer shooter⁠—the genre has its own tag on Steam now⁠—but team members at New Blood seem more excited about that than anything.

"I went for many years as a player being frustrated at the lack of those sorts of games, new games similar to Doom or Quake," Szymanski said. "Now there's too many for me to play, I can't play all the ones that come out."

"I think 'the more the merrier.' It's awesome that there's a bajillion games like these, why not?" said Oshry. Even in that more crowded indie shooter scene, New Blood's work still distinguishes itself: Dusk, Ultrakill, and Amid Evil are singular FPSes, while I'm jazzed for its in-progress immersive sims like Gloomwood and Fallen Aces.