Phase Zero [Jaguar – Cancelled]

Phase Zero [Jaguar – Cancelled]

Phase Zero (also know as “Hover Hunter” in early previews) is a cancelled first person shooter developed by Hyper Image for the Jaguar. A playable demo was somehow leaked online and many videos and reviews of the game can be found on Youtube. Phase Zero looked really nice and it was fun enough, but something went wrong during the development and Hyper Image were not able to finish their project.

Thanks to Celine for the contribution! Scans from Cd Consoles magazine, issues #4, #5, #8 and #13.

Images:

Videos:


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monokoma

monokoma

Editor in Chief, UX & SE Optimization at Unseen64
I'm an Italian gamer with not enough free time to play as much as i'd like to and sadly not enough time to write about cancelled and beta games. Founder of Unseen64 in 2001, i'd like to sleep more than 5 hours a day, but i have to pay the bills. I'm currently working for various italian & international websites for a better User Experience & Search Engine Optimization, you can add me on Twitter, Last FM or contact me by email.
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11 thoughts on “Phase Zero [Jaguar – Cancelled]

  1. Adam

    If I recall correctly this was also going to feature LAN play (the Jaguar did have devices which allowed you to link units together). From what I played of it, the game is like Hover Strike but more polished and with much better graphics.

  2. Ross Sillifant

    Steering well clear of all the claims over what exactly went wrong during games development, instead looking at game itself, i’ve read a few comments over the years saying that whilst the engine itself is very impressive and if it’d be used by other developers as ‘middleware’ we could of seen a lot more impressive Jaguar titles, Phase Zero itself as a game, is lacking a lot of meat on it’s bones..i.e not that much to do….

    So unless drastic changes were made before release, i think this would of had a poor reaction at review, with the press going to town on it’s very limited gameplay.

  3. Ross Sillifant

    Forwarded over Atari memo sent to Jack Tramiel, Phase Zero among many terminated titles.

    Dated March 8 1996

  4. R

    I won’t lose my hope in seeing the source code of this game popping up someday. More unreleased games are popping up as of late which is amazing.

  5. Ross Sillifant

    It would be fantastic if this was found, released and the Homebrew community built a decent game on the back of it.

  6. Ross Sillifant

    For those who haven’t downloaded issue 404 of Atari Explorer Online…this interview, which remains the property of…

    Might be of interest:

    The Hype on Hyper Image
    ||| Interview by: Christian Svensson
    / | \ GEnie: EXPLORER.5 Internet: [email protected]
    —————————————————————-

    [] AEO: Who are the members of Hyper Image and what are they
    responsible for there?

    Jeremy: There are lots of people who help make Hyper Image go, the
    main contributors include the following people:

    Paul is responsible for directing the design of our projects, Jeremy
    is responsible for external relations and directing the technical
    aspects of our projects. Otavio handles engine prototypes and
    implementation, Matias is responsible for both design and art,
    Sterling is responsible for translating it all into English for us.
    Andy Carlson is responsible for the soundtrack for Hover Hunter. Bill
    is Hyper’s right hand man ;)

    [] AEO: How did each of you get into computers and eventually the
    gaming industry? Sort of a little history section. Things like
    education, gaming interests, etc.

    Jeremy: I started programming around age seven on Commodore PET’s,
    Apple II’s, and Timex Sinclair 1000’s. My latest gaming breakthroughs
    include Breakout and Race for the TI-85 graphics calculator ;) My
    first real programming job was programming SGI’s for the DOD. None of
    any programming skills I have can be attributed to my formal education
    at University of Maryland.

    Paul: He lies. The OS class Jeremy? Otavio and I are brothers, and our
    mom was heavily into computers from around the time the Apple II’s
    came out. From then on, we were both quite into computers: Otavio for
    the programming, me for the graphics/special effects, and both of us
    for the games.

    [] AEO: Is Jaguar development Hyper Image’s first foray into gaming
    development?

    Jeremy: Yes, this is our first effort as a team.

    [] AEO: What prompted you to begin Development on the Jag? Are you
    licensed developers for any other platforms presently?

    Jeremy: At the time of our signing on the Jaguar, it was, and still is
    one of the most technically impressive platforms. We are currently
    licensed to develop on the Jaguar, Sony Playstation and the 3DO. We
    are also currently investigating other platforms.

    [] AEO: What is your perception (be honest) of Atari and their
    efforts to:

    1. Aid 3rd party developers on their projects?

    Jeremy: Atari has been very supportive of us; technical support has
    been great, and the development environment continues to be very
    diverse, they support different OSes and are pretty cool about looking
    towards the future with their tools. They do listen to their
    developers feedback which is very cool.

    2. Successfully market and distribute the Jaguar?

    Jeremy: I’ve been relatively impressed with their market penetration,
    seeing Jag commercials on primetime MTV, and systems in Toys’R’Us is
    pretty cool. You have to admit, the Doom commercial is just too cool
    ;) The posters are also a nice touch ;)

    3. Solicit additional third party developers and licensees?

    Jeremy: Uhhh… like ask Paul or something… I dunno.

    Paul: Like I know… we went after them.

    4. Develop impressive (from a marketing stand-point) and
    powerful (from a developer standpoint) hardware and
    peripherals?

    Jeremy: The reason we initially chose the Jaguar was due to the fact
    that it was the only system available that could handle what we wanted
    to do. Since we signed on, there are lots of other powerful systems
    that have hit the market. We are definitely interested in looking at
    the new systems, however we will continue to support the Jaguar,
    because we think it is a very powerful system with tons of untapped
    potential.

    Paul: I want to say, in general about Atari, everybody knows they are
    not where the big bucks are right now, and they have their problems,
    but they are the absolute best company to work with as far as freedom
    to do what we want with our project. They support innovation and fresh
    ideas, not just games done by the book. If it wasn’t for Atari’s open
    arms, we would not be where we are today.

    [] AEO: Hover Hunter is your current project. Can you provide a
    description of the game for us?

    Jeremy: Uhhh, Paul?

    Paul: You are sitting in the cockpit of a super high-tech hovertank,
    and you fly over a variety of landscapes in a series of missions.
    There will be big loud explosions, high speed, lots of weapons, lots
    of other hovercraft, beautiful landscapes, slick heads-up displays,
    and the option for networked battles. What more could anyone want in
    an action/simulator? =] I am really not good at describing the game,
    because the parts of a game that are important to me have to be seen
    or played. I recommend everybody check out http://www.hyperimage.com,
    and everybody buy Hover Hunter when it comes out. =] (The screen shots
    are available via anon ftp also, and hopefully we’ll be putting more
    up soon, via http://ftp.hyperimage.com.)

    [] AEO: How was overcoming the “learning curve” of the Jag’s hardware?
    Do you think it may possibly cause delay of Hover Hunter?

    Jeremy: I don’t think that the learning curve of the Jaguar was too
    big of a factor in the time it is taking to develop Hover Hunter. The
    technical aspects of Hover Hunter are by far the easier aspects, and
    don’t account for the bulk of the development time.

    [] AEO: Will Hover Hunter utilize the JagModem at all or only Jagnet?

    Jeremy: Hover Hunter will definitely be supporting head to head serial
    linking of two Jaguars. We have several CatBoxes, and I have every
    plan to support multiplayer networking. Supporting the JagModem is
    still a possibility, however we have no specific plans to support it
    at this time. We are currently on schedule for a summer release,
    however its final release date depends on our publisher.

    [] AEO: Were there any interesting stories/anecdotes that you could
    tell us about that happened in the course of Hover Hunter’s
    development?

    Jeremy: Well, we did make a pretty kewl networked version of “64-bit
    Cyber Deluxe Pong Kombat” for the Jaguar. And I suppose most people
    would find our daily Mountain Dew consumption pretty disgusting. (We
    have at least two literal “walls” of empty cans that we’ve been
    building, gotta remember to call Pepsi up for a sponsorship ;)

    Paul: That’s “Deluxe X-tra Cyber Super 64-bit Pong Kombat”.
    unfortunately, the stuff we find really funny we wouldn’t want to
    announce to the world for various reasons. We did start in a two-
    bedroom apartment with four people in it, and have now moved up to a
    four-bedroom house with eight people in it…. Ummm… MOUNTAIN DEW!!!

    Jeremy: Someday my bed will be more than four feet from my work. ;)

    [] AEO: Given the Jaguar’s exclusive networking capabilities, is it
    possible that Hover Hunter will be showing up on any other
    consoles in a non-networkable format?

    Jeremy: Hover Hunter will be a really cool game, with extremely
    diverse gameplay. Network play will definitely enhance the game,
    however I believe that the game will be able to stand on its own with
    no problems.

    Paul: Good dodge, Jer… I say: anything is possible, but we have no
    plans right now.

    [] AEO: At the WCES, it was rumored that both Novalogic and Nintendo
    offered obscene amounts of money for Hyper Image to
    discontinue Jag development and start development with one or
    both of these companies…. Is this correct? (I heard the
    Novalogic guys were drooling all over themselves when they saw
    your demo… couldn’t have been a pretty sight to see grown
    men and women drool :)

    Jeremy: Ack! The rumor mill is a strange thing. I believe that someone
    from Novalogic did check out our demo (the Jaguar area had lots of
    traffic!), but there was absolutely no offer from them of that nature.
    Incidentally, although I believe their heightfield technique is
    different from ours (ours takes advantage of the Jag’s bus and
    blitter) I’m still trying to figure out how they manage it on the
    SNES! More seriously, the Nintendo rumors are absolutely false. Hover
    Hunter did draw interest from lots of people but there were no
    “obscene amounts” offered by Nintendo :(

    [] AEO: After Hover Hunter, what is next for Hyper Image? More Jag
    development (I hope)? Any gaming concepts waiting in the
    wings?

    Jeremy: Umm, confidential for now :( But that CD is looking pretty
    cool…

    [] AEO: What are some of your favorite games (present, classic,
    whatever)? This is something I ask all of my interviewees
    mostly for my own curiousity….

    Jeremy: Riiiiidge Racer, Toshinden, DOOM, Moria (kinda like Nethack),
    Battle Tetris Gaiden (even though I always get my butt kicked),
    Karateka and any version of Breakout.

    Paul: current: Ridge Racer(PSX), bomberman, Virtua Fighter 2,
    Aliens-TC (an =incredible= DOOM conversion). General: Tempest 2000!!,
    tetris – specifically tetris battle gaiden, a japanese famicom game
    where you can cast spells on your opponent =], Thunder Force II,
    Metroid (all of them), Race Drivin’. Personal favorites that have
    influenced the design of Hover Hunter: DOOM!, Wing Commander / X-wing,
    Cybersled, Syndicate, Red Planet / Battletech.

    [] AEO: Is there anything else you would like to say in closing to our
    readers? Hyping Hover Hunter or other upcoming games, a
    prediction of the future for yourselves and/or Atari?

    Jeremy: Nice CD unit, pretty CD unit. 700+ megs of 64-bit networkable
    Pong Instinct, but you have to stack your four televisions in a cube
    configuration, for a larger than life combined playfield…

    Paul: Hover Hunter will kick ass. If we don’t have fun playing it we
    won’t release it. I think Battlesphere will do the same. I =know=
    Ultra Vortex is cool, and I don’t think theres a doubt in anyone’s
    mind about D2K. =]

    Atari’s future? who knows…? I don’t have a better crystal ball than
    anybody else. If they can keep getting the Jag price WAY below
    everybody else, and get some more really kickin titles, they should do
    pretty well.

    Our future? We will continue to make THE most incredible, well-
    designed, well-programmed, fun-to-play games we possibly can, for as
    long as we can. Each of us has ideas for really cool games we would
    like to do, and I think we can do all of them in the near future.
    Until the ultimate game in the universe is done, we’re not planning on
    quitting.

    My future? Why, world domination, of course. come along, Pinky, we
    have much work to do….

    Jeremy: Ok Brain….

  7. Ross Sillifant

    A few soundbites on this one:

    “The game is still very early (about 35% complete in these shots from the
    Winter CES) although we are counting on completion for the E3 show.”

    “Look for a preview in the March issue of Video Games magazine, and maybe
    a few shots in the March Die Hard Game Fan…”

    “Our engine was licensed to Atari with no royalty clause, we would consider
    doing the same for anyone else who wanted to use it. (Although it would be
    highly optimistic of us to think someone would ;)”

    And just to make clear, the game does NOT use a Voxel Engine:

    “Nope, it’s not voxel, it’s interpolated height field’s. No 3-d pixels
    here ;)”

    “it stems from the confusion created by the Nova
    Logic people. Thier game, and our game do not use voxels, we use height
    fields”

    “Magic carpet uses a height field connected by polygons, Commanche uses
    a height field rendered by drawing lots of 2-d rectangles. Phase Zero
    uses interpolated height fields (similar to magic carpet, but instead
    of large patches of texture mapped polygons, it’s tiny patches of goraud
    shaded thigies. They count on the detail in the texture maps to make up
    for the relatively low detail of the height field, we use a height for
    every ‘pixel’ in our texture maps, and then smooth(interpolate) inbetween
    them to avoid the jaggies ;) Different techniques, cool results either
    way.
    -jeremy”

    ———————————————————————-
    Jeremy Gordon
    President/Senior Programmer
    Hyper Image Productions, Inc.

  8. Ross Sillifant

    Already mentioned the internal Atari documentation explaining game had been donated by Scott Stilphen, well here’s the official statement from Hyper Image themselves at the time:

    “We’ve been recently been made aware that there are a lot of
    Jaguar fans that really want to see Phase Zero released on the Jaguar.
    We are very flattered that people have followed our development so
    closely, and appreciate the many letters of support we have received
    over the past few months. Unfortunately Phase Zero will not be released
    on the Jaguar system.
    Based on questions posed in the large amount of email we’ve
    received from the Jaguar community, we thought it was the least we could
    do to address the most common concerns;
    * Atari has officially asked that we halt development of Phase Zero;
    our last payment was received in August of ’95. Total payments
    comprised only a portion of our contract with them.

    * We continued development unpaid in full force until December of 1995,
    through numerous changes in producers and focus at Atari.

    * We offered to develop Phase Zero for Windows 95 for Atari
    Interactive.

    * We have more than enough employees to pursue multiple projects :)

    * The only development hardware we have ever had to pay for was our
    Jaguar development hardware.

    * We develop games because we love it, and this is all we do. It is
    with sincere regret that we can’t afford to develop a project that
    can’t support itself.

    * We are currently working on Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, and
    Windows 95 projects.

    * We are not actively developing Phase Zero for any platform at this
    time, however we would like to revisit it in the future, possibly
    for the Windows 95 platform.

    Hopefully this helps to address everyone’s concerns and questions. We
    definitely appreciate your support through our development, and hope to
    see you on other platforms!

    Sincerely,

    Hyper Image”

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