Terminus [Saturn, Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

Terminus [Saturn, Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

Terminus is a cancelled action adventure / shooter game that was in development by Scavenger Inc for the Sega Saturn, Playstation and PC in 1996. As they wrote in their press release, the project was meant “to give Tomb Raider a run for it’s money” but sadly it was already too late, as the company ran out of money and Terminus had to be canned.

The few screenshots preserved in the gallery below show a great graphic engine for its time, that used NURBS / voxel-like system, as we can read in an article from Gamasutra (wrote by a former Scavenger developer):

[…] Soon thereafter we were asked to develop our own game. That provided me with the incentive to figure out how to represent characters in a game better. We knew we wanted at least ten or more characters on the screen simultaneously, but all the low-resolution polygonal characters we had seen just didn’t cut it. So I decided to keep pursuing a solution based on what I had been working on for X-Men (32X), hoping that I’d come up with something that would eventually yield better results.

At first I flirted with a voxel-like solution, and developed a character system which was shown at E3 in 1996 in a game called Terminus. This system allowed a player to see characters from any angle rotating around one axis, which solved a basic problem inherent to sprite-based systems. Still, you couldn’t see the character from any angle, and while everybody liked the look of the “sprite from any angle” solution, many people wanted to get a closer look at the characters’ faces. This caused the whole voxel idea to fall apart.

In 1997 / 1998, Scavenger went bankrupt and all their unfinished projects vanished with them. The team behind Terminus (internally known as Team Fetus) was then hired at Shiny Entertainment and their game was resurrected somehow, evolving into Messiah.

Thanks a lot to Mike Damien for its help in preserving some info and concept arts from this lost project!

Thanks to Celine for the contributions! Scans from GameFan 4-2 and EDGE 34


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6 thoughts on “Terminus [Saturn, Playstation, PC – Cancelled]

  1. Celine

    About GameFan the nomenclature I will use is something like GameFan1-3.
    The first is the volume ( there is a volume for each year, for example vol.1 is for 1993) while the second is the issue ( that is the month number ).
    So the above example is for the march 1993 GF.

  2. Ross Sillifant

    I’ve seen the claim made that a coder by name of Zax from Team Fetus did talk at some length about the bare bones game engine of Terminus, up and running on Saturn and going onto be reworked into the engine powering Messiah on PC.

    It came to light when Shinny were making very bold claims about their game engine out gunning the Quake engine..with Messiah supposedly having character models way beyond that of Quake.

    The comments got a very vocal reaction from the industry from coders at Sega and Bullfrog.

    One going as far as to label the claims bullshit.

  3. Ross Sillifant

    An example of how the hype over the reworked Terminus engine was viewed by some.

    Don’t blame me if this appears before my earlier comment ????

    ‘This whole propaganda train deserves a much needed derailing,
    realtime tesselation of nurbs into polygons is nothing new, and Dave Perry sure
    as hell didn’t invent it. Animatek and other companies have had this technology
    in different ‘flavors’ for quite some time and are beginning to implement it in
    game software since 3d enviroment complexity has increased dramatically and LOD
    management is now more of an issue.
    Quoting numbers is a waste of time and not an accurate metric of an engine’s
    performance unless you have a COMPLETE game working with it.
    Any programmer that has half a brain knows how to create the right special cases
    to make the engine perform better(and then quote that as a benchmark) than it
    would in a general-purpose case.

    No matter how badass you think your code is –
    It can always be improved(if not by you, then someone else).

    Maybe one day i’ll be as badass a coder as those guys at ID, but i’ll make
    damn sure I never get an EGO like some people in this industry that try to
    patent their code, thinking their code is the ultimate and the ‘only way’ to
    implement something.
    “A good programmer knows they don’t know everything”
    “A bad programmer thinks they know everything”

    Sega Product Development R&D

    Perhaps Messiah should be called ‘False Prophet’

  4. Ross Sillifant

    Messiah itself, acording to a foul mouthed post by a supposed staffer on the game, only sold 28,523 copies world wide on the PC and was apparently due to Interplay failing to test and market the game properly.

    If you listen to people who actually bought the game whoever, they claim it was heavily bugged, main character lacked appeal, controls were akward, level design was too rigid and so on..

    Plus the much hyped Possession aspect was anything but unique..having appeared in the Odd world games and Nomad Soul etc prior to release.

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