Urchin was an adventure fantasy / horror game that was in development at Rare Ltd. for Xbox 360. A few pieces of concept art were revealed by Rare artist Ryan Firchau at the “Nordic Game Conference”, held in Malmö in Sweden in May 2008.
While details are scarce, it is known that Urchin was in development by the team that was responsible for Conker: Live and Reloaded. After that title, was released, they helped finishing Perfect Dark Zero for Xbox 360 launch before regrouping as the “Conker team” again. In late 2006, Urchin was cancelled after only a few months of work.
As Zenek has wrote on the Rare-Extreme Forum, it appears as if there was a Dumbot from Conker: Live & Reloaded named “Urchin Pig Girl”. From this little easter egg and from one of the concept arts leaked, we can speculate that the protagonist of Urchin was going to be that little girl with her pig, called Lilith. Other game characters were a professor (The Dean?), werewolves and zombies.
Some more info on this cancelled project were shared in an interview with Chris Seavor:
Well, Urchin was the little thing I always wanted to make and who knows may well still make one day (not called Urchin obviously)…… A lovely , creepy , beautiful and tight little fairy tale for those who felt short changed by Fable’s good v bad mechanic.. In Urchin, it was ALL about being bad :)
Urchin had a ton of concepts done, some design, and the whole story arc figured out… I’d planned it as 3 games, each with a cliffhanger ending.
Another interview from Eurogamer:
Chris Seavor: Yeah. I wanted a change and I asked them. They said, okay, we’ll get back to you. That’s when I started Urchin, which was a dark fairytale from the point of view of a character who was the baddie rather than a good character. It was in the mould of Fable. The hook was, it wasn’t about whether you were good or bad. It was about how bad you were. But it was moral in that badness is down to your point of view, which is how I managed to get it to work in terms of problems parents might have with it.
When you killed the princess and ripped open her guts to get her heart, which was one of the quests, on the face of it it looked like you were quite a bad character, but in reality you’d then find out the princess was an evil vampire character who was killing local girls. That was an example quest. That’s how we managed to pitch it so it was all right with all the ratings people. That would have been quite good. It was certainly different.
When were you making Urchin?
Chris Seavor: Straight after Live & Reloaded, for the Xbox 360. We did a load of stuff. We had the graphics looking great on that. We spent a good eight months on that. We had a fighting system I called “Dirty Fighting”. The girl was quite brutal. So when she fights she has to use everything. She’s not very strong so she has to be very clever. So she does things like kick them in the knackers and use traps. She had a pall, this pig, who you also used in quests. He was quite heavy and strong, and she was quite light. It was a kind of a Banjo-Kazooie dynamic in that one was helping the other and one had strengths and one had weaknesses. But it was also about the character.
We did the thing Molyneux said he was going to do with the dog in Fable. We had already done it with the pig in that it was also the thing that was your manual, the in-game help. He would tell you stuff and say, oh, that’s interesting, what’s over there? And off he’d run. It worked really well.
Chris Seavor: It was going along and going along, and Microsoft were quite interested and then they weren’t. Just at that point when we were going shall we do this or not, are we going to pitch this for a greenlight, Chris and Tim said, oh, do you want to do PD? I went, oh, all right then. So we carried on with that.
That was another one of those things where I look back and think, should I have done that? Should I have stuck to my guns? I don’t know. It’s hard to say.
Thanks to Oolon for the contribution!
U64 is an archive with articles, screens and videos for cancelled, beta & unseen videogames. Every change & cut creates a different gaming experience: we would like to save some documents about this evolution for curiosity, historic and artistic preservation.