Drugs, Carnies, and Hats: The Multiplayer Shooter EA Killed

Blood Dust is a multiplayer shooter on steroids. Literally. You fight against spies. You fight against soliders. You fight against carnival freaks. And you're all fighting for "blood dust", a drug that's like steroids but a hundred times better.


The game was mean to be online only, a successful off-shoot of Electronic Arts' take on Jack The Ripper. Only, it's not happening now. And The Ripper, once moth-balled, is back in production.

This story is a glimpse into Blood Dust, a rollicking multiplayer-only third-person shooter for the Xbox 360 and PS3. It's a glimpse at what was. And what could have been.


Back in 2008, Visceral Games' Melbourne studio commenced work on what at the time was supposed to be a multiplayer add-on for The Ripper, a singleplayer game EA was developing.

This wasn't how the game was born. After work began in 2008, the multiplayer add-on showed more promise than the single player title, so EA turned it into a stand-alone game, called Blood Dust. This is that game's unreleased trailer.

With the setting changed slightly from Ripper's 19th century to the 1930s, Blood Dust was apparently a three-faction, third-person multiplayer shooter for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game had nine unique classes, 100 upgradable weapons and abilities like leaping and wall-running. In the above video, you can see some of the different abilities, most notably, the beasts with super-human strength. The monsters were supposed to become carnies. In the trailer, you can also catch a quick glimpse of a monster jumping from a building towards the carnival.


There also seems to be no shortage of fancy hats. I like fancy hats. Apparently, the monsters even had hats at one time.

In the game, the three factions fought over a drug called "blood dust", which was like steroids, but better. One of the factions was called "the Crushers" and made up of former U.S. army troops; another faction was called "the Black Chamber"—a predecessor to the C.I.A.; the third faction were the monsters.


The above trailer starts with a title card that reads: "Dedicated to our loved ones
This is why we were never home." Music plays over the trailer, with the refrain "I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die." The word "die" flashes on screen in big letters, and the trailer makes a hardcut to gameplay. A guy in a bowler hat fires a rocket as he makes his way down a marble staircase, sending his foe into flames and earning 50 experience points. The foe, dressed in a top hat, squeezes off a quick round, hitting the guy in the bowler hat, causing the edges of the screen to go red with blood. The map looks to be a great hall, entirely covered in marble with large pillars.

The graphics look solid, and the frame rate clips along. You get the feeling that the emphasis was on the mechanics, the customization, and the mutliplayer experience. For a title like this, that's exactly what you'd want.


The trailer cuts to another gameplay scene. On the wall, a sign reads, "Bedlam Station". We are over-the-shoulder of a blond man in glasses and who has a handlebar mustache. He's holding what looks like a steam-punk repeating shotgun from which a purple electric charge emits. There are several doors open in what looks like the inside of a train; the floor is ablaze. At the other end of the carriages, another player lurks, and the blond man starts shooting.

Another hardcut, and we are outside trains in what looks like is a brick-covered subway. A monster with pale, rotting skin and well-defined muscles stands over a guy in a top hat, obviously from the the Black Chamber faction, and begins biting his shoulder. Blood sprays out all in the air and all over the tracks, just as the trailer cuts again.


Yet another man in a top hat, a Black Chamber, warm up his sniper rifle in an underground labyrinth that's covered with bricks and held up by pillars. It's pure run-and-gun and as he moves forward, his sniper rifle glows purple, and this prey scurries away. The weapon design is, once again, steampunk, and he fires off a shot, hitting the enemy and earning 50 XP.

A former U.S. army troop, part of the Crusher faction, goes running up a staircase, two pistols blazing. His rank appears to be sergeant, and he's still decked out in his military uniform. Strapped over his shoulder is a chain connected to a cannon. At the top of the staircase, there's more gunplay as he shoots one of the monsters in the face. He's taken damage, and the screen's edges run crimson. On the ground, there are two bodies: One human, and one monster.


Back out in the train station and on a platform. We are seeing things from the monster's point-of-view racing towards what looks to be a Crusher. He shoots, but the monster darts towards him. And then, the monster begins swatting the soldier with huge claws. His fingers are ridiculously long and red. The moves are like something you'd see Wolverine do. Each slash of the claws leaves what looks like red vapor trails. The soldier, with his huge sniper rifle, tries to scamper away. The monsters look like the could dominate close combat.

Outside the train station, a monster is one a rooftop. He jumps out, leaping through the air. The city below is a rundown and poor. Advertisements cover the buildings. Clothes hang on telephone wires, and factory smokestacks loom and pollute. There's a carnival in the distance. It's a big top. A circus.


The monster flies through the air and lands on the ground. His skin looks to be slightly green, and it's not yet rotting like the pale monsters earlier in the clip. He's wearing what appears to be light blue pants. They're torn. He walks upright momentarily, but then goes onto all fours.

It's raining now. We're outside again, and on a rooftop, one of the monsters is crouched. His skin is dark, and he almost looks like a stone statue. Unlike he jumps at the camera, lightning flashes, and the word "die" appears on the screen in big letters. He continues to lunge at the camera, his horrible fingers and fingers outstretched. The edges of the frame splattered with blood, indicating that we have been hit.


The trailer quick cuts to a man in the bowler hat running up the stairs, shooting, and then running down the stairs. The words "Experiment Zero capture point available in 30 seconds" appear on the screen, and then the guy in the bowler hat is hit.

Now, in the next few frames, we are on a rooftop. It's raining again. A spotlight shines, and we get a good look at the monster's body, which looks like it's overdosed on the Blood Dust drug. A series of quick cuts show the damage that the monster can do. In one scene, he races down the marble staircase, jumps up and pounds his fists down together, causing a ripple and knocking down an enemy faction member. In the following clip, he runs up the side of a wall, and the jumps over it. Then, we get another look at the monster on the platform tearing into the U.S. soldier. The screen reads, "Corrupted have the lead".


Following that are a few scenes of some of the trailer's most brutal moments: a monster repeatedly swats the crap out of a guy in a top hat—a member of the Black Chamber. He knocks him around like a rag doll, blood flying out of his mouth. On the Black Chamber's back, there are tanks with purple energy—energy he could fire at the monster, only if he could get away from it.

Another quick cut to a guy in a top hat (Black Chamber faction!) making his way through a train carriage. Inside, it's covered with blood. He fires at the Crusher, sending him flying through the air as the screen is covered in flames.


The next scene shows a Crusher as he crouches with his sniper rifle. He gets a Black Chamber in his cites and squeezes off a round, looping his head off, sending blood in the air. We get another view through a sniper rifle, but this time it appears as though the Black Chamber fraction is shooting at Crushers.

The last two scenes in the trailer show more hand-to-hand combat brutality. A Crusher beats a monster's head in with a billyclub, causing fire and flames to emit. Like the other Crusher faction members, this character is wearing a military uniform. Around his arm is an armband that reads "92". The next scene shows a monster once again swatting the crap out of a Black Chamber player. And that's the end of the trailer.


Originally, Visceral Games' Melbourne studio, EA Melbourne, began work on The Ripper, but was moved to the multiplayer team. The multiplayer version, which evolved into Blood Dust, was to be a downloadable title, releasing a year before the single player version. EA then canned the single player altogether and focused on the multiplayer game, Blood Dust, before finally deciding to bin that title.

Blood Dust was nearly 80 percent finished when EA decided to pull the plug, not only on the game, but also on the Melbourne studio. According to an insider, new management thought the studio was too expensive to run. Gone was not only Blood Dust, but, as of this September, Visceral Games Melbourne.


Even though EA shuttered the studio and axed Blood Dust, the source told Kotaku that EA "still took very good care" of the developers at Visceral's Melbourne arm, offering them positions at other EA studios.

The Ripper is back, with our source saying that EA has revived the game as a single player title. Currently, a small team is apparently in pre-production. The game better have hats. Lots of hats.


You can contact Brian Ashcraft, the author of this post, at bashcraft@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.

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Video works now, and this game looked like crap. I could see why it was cancelled. It looks like a shooter from the late 90's.