Too Human: the game that will never be

Too Human: the game that will never be


[Article by monokoma. Probably with some english errors.]

Too Human is a third-person action RPG / hack & slash game developed by the Canadian software house Silicon Knights. It features twitch gameplay in the form of fast paced melee and long-ranged combat while at the same time maintaining RPG elements, including skill tree progression and dungeon crawling. Too Human was originally in development for the PlayStation as a 4-disc action-adventure game. It was originally shown at E3 1999, but shortly before its completion Nintendo announced an exclusive partnership with Silicon Knights, and the game was moved to the Nintendo GameCube in 2000.

A teaser trailer was shown at SpaceWorld 2000 showing what appeared to be a re-building of the PlayStation game.  However, the game was never released. In 2004, after only two games, the company ended its contract with Nintendo. In the May 2005 issue of EGM, Silicon Knights announced a partnership with publisher Microsoft to develop a trilogy revolving around the Too Human universe exclusively for the Xbox 360.

Too Human on Playstation 1 (Realtime)


Too Human on GameCube (Concept Art)


Too Human on XBOX 360 (Realtime)


You can see some more screenshots of the PSX and GC versions in our archive:

Too Human on Playstation Images Archive

Too Human on GameCube Images Archive

Too Human is a fascinating unseen title.. but a question keeps me up every night: why the Xbox 360 version of Too Human is not the same game that was in development for the Playstation in 1999? A long time has passed and it looks like in 10 years the project changed a lot… and i do not mean on the graphic side.

The original Too Human project should have been a mix between RPG, Stealth and Action, a game that sounded much more like a “Deus Ex” type of game than a “Diablo / Devil May Cry” type of game. And what about the story? It should have been a “cyber punk” psichological thriller. So what happened?

Did Denis Dyack really changed his beloved project, because the original idea was too much complex to develope? We’ll never know for sure, but we can at least search through all the info about the original Too Human project, from the mouth of Denis Dyack (and some other people of Silicon Knights). His words modeled a game over-ambitious and it’s fun to compare these dreams with the final product.. so here we go! A collection of quotes about Too Human from almost 10 years ago:

Chapter I: The GIA Interviews

Denis: We want people to have the perfect aesthetic experience when they play a game. Our goal is to engross people, to have them feel and live in the environment that we’ve created. We want people to learn something, we want people to appreciate our artistic vision of what we’re talking about. That’s the goal of every game we make. In order to do that, you have to focus on gameplay, story, music, sound effects, graphics, and technology. Having all these factors is key to having a great game.


Denis: Too Human is a futuristic psychological thriller. It’s a real-time adventure game that mixes elements of role-playing, like Kain, cinematography like Final Fantasy, and a solid storyline. Too Human is also very much like Metal Gear Solid where we give the player the option to explore things the way he wants to and be stealth if he wants to, or be action packed if he wants to. That’s the best way I would describe it. We really think it’s going to break the mold on a lot of games. We’ve never seen a single game that’s similar to it out there, quite frankly. It’s role-playing under the surface. Maybe some people would classify it as adventure. We classify it as…what would be a really neat experience in the future. What would it be like in the year 2450? Well, this is what we think it’s like.


Denis: The level of interaction between the NPCs is not something we really focused on. There’s definitely going to be communication between you and NPCs, no question there. But is that a major element of the game? No, not really. The major role-playing elements in the game are how you improve as you go through missions and use weapons more. Beyond the typical role-playing of using a weapons more and getting better, you can also cybernetically enhance yourself. So if you get an optical implant, your targeting will be faster, better, and more accurate. There’s almost a two-way branch in which you can improve yourself through the role-playing. Beyond that, there’s a very, very intricate story. And it’s non-linear — you affect the game as you play. That’s what I think makes the role-playing aspect stand our apart from a lot of other games. I know at some level some games do a little bit of these, we’ve done them altogether. And, of course, the immersion factor of the environments, cinematics, voice over — you really get to feel and hear how John Franks feels as he’s going through the level.


Denis: One of the things that’s going on that may not be apparent through the cinematics, at the beginning of the game, you’re going in undercover into Aesir. You’re an undercover police officer infiltrating a corporation into their security forces to investigate another corporation. There’s a lot under the surface going on. So you’ve got to report back to your police lieutenant. We talk about crime, and what law enforcement would be like in the future. So all those aspects as well make it multi-dimensional. There are a lot of levels there. As well, there’s flashes of strange creatures all around, and it all makes sense. There are no loose ends, it’s all tied together. Another thing about Too Human as well is that it si founded on principles of hard science. We discuss orbital strings, and many other technologies. We’re not going for a “space opera,” we are going for science fiction that is grounded in true science. So there are a lot of things to learn. It’s going to be interesting. We’re not saying that space opera is bad — obviously, Star Wars is a good example of a space opera. It’s just that’s not the direction we chose to go in.


Denis: There’s a history built up. One of the things that we’ve put into Too Human that’s not in a lot of games is a digital archive. It’s a detailed history readout of the game itself. If you want to find out what happened between now and 2450, you can look it up in the history records.


GIA: So there must have been quite a bit of development and planning of the actual storyline and the world before other aspects of the game were fleshed out?

Denis: Absolutely. If you think about the fact that we developed the actual content before Kain, we’ve had a lot of time to think about it. And it’s those kind of things that I think create great content. We’re not a company that suddenly creates an idea and then throws it together in a month, saying “Okay, here’s the game we’re doing.” We’ve got a lot of concepts that are always continually going that go on that we work on for years before we come out with them. And I think that’s the way it has to be because you can’t create good content any other way. It has to be well thought out, and everyone has to have a passion for it. The fact that you’re going to have a team that’s going to work on a project for as long as we have, the team has to be behind it; has to be passionate. Otherwise it’s going to die. You’ve heard of all the nightmares that have gone on for six years, have had seven teams, yada yada yada, we’re not like that. Some places have a problem keeping a visionary on a team. We have several visionaries on all our projects. There’s not a single visionary on Too Human — there’s several, same with Eternal Darkness. Keeping that vision is what’s important, knowing what direction we’d like to go on.


Denis: we are concerned at all times about disc space because going over four discs would be relatively insane, and we don’t want to do that. If we had a DVD, it’d be less of a problem. Who knows, maybe we will be the first game company to have a multiple DVD game when it’s time?


Denis: One of the interesting things about the technology, and the way we looked at the media with the technology — which is really the same thing, in many ways — there’s no limit to the size of levels we have. We can literally create a level that goes on forever. The player would never notice…we just load what we need, and then you just keep going. Mind you, we don’t do that, but we have the ability to.


Ken: We had time to think about it, because the proposal for Too Human was worked on and started before the proposal for Kain. Basically, it’s been in the back of our minds for a long time. As soon as Kain stopped, Too Human kind of took off. Concepts were going back until 1993, as well. And then the long hard road until where we are now started.


Denis: Certainly, within the plot, there’s a lot of plot lines going on at the same time. Will you be able to communicate with individuals in the levels, and the enemies? Yes, definitely. Will you be able to use that communication to your advantage? Yes, definitely. That’s probably all I should say about it right now.


Denis: Even as you can see the flight sequence to the prison, all the character interaction that’s going on there, every character in there develops on their own. Every character. A lot of that will happen in ways people will not be able to predict.


Denis: Yes, we let the player do what they want. From that perspective, Too Human is really a game of choice. We leave the choice up to the individual. By the time you finish the game, you’ll understand the choices you have made. There are some that are inherent, and there are some that aren’t. Some are above the surface, while there are some that are subliminal.

Chapter II: GameCube IGN Board

Denis: Here is a bit of trivia. The concept for Too Human was created before Kain. The “Soul Reaver” was actually a weapon in Too Human before I decided to move it over to Kain during its development.


Denis: We have a constant queue of concepts that we would like create. Often we work on concepts for years before they become a reality. As I mentioned earlier the concept of Too Human was older then the concept for Kain and thus Too Human had several years of discussion before we started work on it. We have many new concepts that we will introduce as time goes on but unfortunately we can’t talk about those yet. All of games usually have very detailed story arcs and the whole story is too big to tell in one game. So sequels or follow-ups are natural process of how we create games here. So you can expect both =)


Denis: The systems are very different and NGC is much better then Playstation so it would be an injustice not to make it better – much better. All good games take a long time do (IMHO). =). FMV will be much better on NGC.


???: …on to too human: it looks great, how much FMV do you think will be it? will it be alot of FMV (via squares FF7,8,9’s) or will it use it sparingly?

Denis: There will be a ton – probably more than the FF series. =) – Expect many surprises in this area.[…]Denis: At the beginning of the game you play the role of undercover police officer. You are infiltrating a corporate security force. Anymore would be a spoiler.


???: Too Human is using FMVs, right? Well will they look obviously different from ingame graphics? Because that really annoys a lot of people.

Denis: One of the goals of Too Human is to seamlessly integrate the two. Hopefully, you will not notice the difference.


Denis: However, I believe that you have already taken the first step into liking Too Human. Without commenting or giving anything away, you are thinking exactly the way we want you to think before you start the game. The beginning is set up specifically for those who think like you. By the time you have finished Too Human your thinking will have changed =). This is one game that is definitely not one dimensional with one-dimensional characters. You can expect something original, very intelligent and cerebral at many levels.


Denis: With all of this in mind we constantly work at making the enemies as believable as possible. Think of our approach similar to that of an actor playing the part of a police officer. To the audience, he is a police officer even though in reality he is just playing a part. I hope this answers your questions about this topic.


Denis: When we create stories for our games we create the background universe for them first. This process sometimes takes years – we work on concepts for a long time before they generally go into production. Too Human was first conceived some time in 1994 I believe. By the time we finish creating the story for the game it usually averages around 1/10 of the content that was created.


Denis: Without getting specific, we plan to create interesting features in every game we create. Story is only one of five other critical areas that we believe are needed to create a great game. The others are audio, art, technology and gameplay. Having a game strong in all five of these areas is what we believe the key to creating a successful game. I believe I first spoke of this concept which we coined “Engagement Theory” in 1995 at the Game Developers Conference.


Denis: We talk about this often, and I am very happy to say yes. We believe that both stories are much, much better. Although the story in Kain (Blood Omen) will always be close to our hearts, it was our first attempt at story telling. I believe we have learned much since then and our content now is much deeper and richer. Ken McCulloch and I wrote the Kain story, and we gained much from that experience. We used all this knowledge for both ED and TH and you can expect to use it in our future games.


???: Do you all plan on taking advantage of the Gamecube’s online capabilities?”

Denis: Without question, YES!!!!![…]

Denis: Although we are not saying too much about Too Human, my guess is that most people will classify it as an action adventure because it is all real-time. However there are many role playing elements within the game so opinions may differ.


Denis: Guess I started something here. Hehe. Anyway, I’m not going to show anything Too Human at this point but instead refer to Eternal Darkness. One is and old FMV shot Too Human while the others are unedited screen shots from ED. I stand by what I said.

Chapter III: Nintendoodle

Denis: Sorry, once again, I cannot talk about any Nintendo Gamecube titles. However, as I mentioned earlier, Silicon Knights always creates the story for its games before we start implementing them. The story and concept for Too Human was actually created before Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. Story is an integral part of our games for Silicon Knights and this will not change for Too Human.


Denis: With every game we make, Silicon Knights will always try to add a sense of realism. This helps immerse the player into our worlds. A big influence on my Masters Thesis and game design theories was the book “Computers as Theater” by Brenda Laurel. In this book she forwards a theory that video games and computer programs should be structured like theatrical plays. Thus, an emphasis is placed on things seeming real rather then actually trying to be completely real. Thus, when it comes to issues like AI, we take the approach that the characters should seem to do natural things and react naturally as rather then programming true intelligent systems. Things like having the enemies communicate to each other or hear sounds is not difficult to do it just a matter of doing it in the correct ways. I believe that this will be very clearly demonstrated in our next release.

Chapter IV: Nintendorks + Nsider

Denis: We did Legacy of Kain, we did three other games on the PC–Cyber Empires, Fantasy Empires, Dark Legions…We were also–which you guys may have heard of–working on another game that was a cyberpunk horror called Too Human.


Denis: […] Too Human, we never know when we’ll be done it keeps getting bigger and bigger for us (laughs). At the end of the day you will not be disappointed.

Chapter IV: What is it?

In conclusion: is Too Human for the Xbox 360 a good game? It could be!  Try it for yourself, you can find it for cheap. Is Too Human the same Too Human that was in development before for the Playstation and Gamecube? Not at all. Was it really in development? Who knows. Does the Too Human Trilogy exist at all? We’ll see…

[Article by monokoma]

Interviews taken from:

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One thought on “Too Human: the game that will never be

  1. cornelieusbungisalbondigas

    In the end, Silicon Knights were sued by Unreal Technologies because for making this 360 version, they first used the unreal game engine, but because they didn’t want to pay for it, they decided to make their own engine, but instead of fully writing all of their own engine, they actually copied source code from unreal engine and placed it into their own technology. So they plagiarized someone else’s technology and sold it as their own works, even though they didn’t make it. Because of that, courts have ordered any stock of the game to be turned in to Unreal, since Silicon Knights did not have enough money to pay for the damages that Unreal suffered because of their actions. So the game could become rare as time goes by, because all shops will have to give it back, or not sell it and destroy it.

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