Ross Sillifant sent us a lot of contributions, info and interviews about cancelled videogames and their development, from different software houses and for various consoles / PC. To be able to publish all those info we’ll need more time, but to start here’s a first collection of random facts that should be saved in the Unseen64 archive!
Mike Singleton (RIP) was working on Midwinter III, for PS2 and Dolphin (GameCube) working title was Skyfall Year Zero: Total Midwinter. See Arcade Mag Timewarp March 1990 and this tweet by Chris Wild.
Activision CANNED PS1 Hyperblade (A futuristic rollerblading sport game) after almost 12 months in development, Activision unwilling to disclose reasons why it was canned though.
Interview with Andrew Hewson:
Q) Is it true you had a PC Engine version of Paradroid ’90 all finished and it was to be Hewson’s 1st crack at the emerging console market? If so, what became of it? Was it never released because PCEngine didn’t get a UK release?
Andrew:Umm, that’s news to me.
Interview with Stuart Gregg:
Shadowrunner: Do you have any unreleased games on any platforms you’d like to share with us?
Stuart: I did port Rick Dangerous to the Acorn Archimedes, I have no idea where that is.
Shadowrunner: There was supposed to be an Atari Jaguar CD release of Demolition Man and there’s even a really early beta floating around. Do you know how far along it was, and if there would have been differences between it and the 3DO version?
Stuart: The first time I have heard of it…
Stuart: I really liked Ian Stewart and It was a good laugh with Neal Young when he was a producer at Probe. I think my mind is blocking out the pain as I can’t remember anyone I want to dump on. If you asked me at the time I’m sure the answer would be different. Does anyone have the alternate ending to Dynamite Düx ?
Stuart: I worked on some things at Virgin that never came out, I should have paid attentions to the alarm bells going off in my head, LOL.
Interview with Mike Fullton about Jaguar Quake:
Quake didn’t come out on the PC until mid ’96, like 9 months after I had left Atari. By that time, new Jaguar projects were pretty much non-existent. So it seems unlikely that there was anything going there, at least not with ID. It’s far more likely that someone started playing around with the QUAKE source code when it was released.
The big hurdle to overcome for Quake (as well as Tomb Raider) would have been the lack of a texture-mapping 3D library. Having such a library would take development of the game from 0% to about 70% in one jump, so someone saying QUAKE was 30-40% done sounds like they were talking about someone working on a library, not so much the game itself.
Interview with Andrew Holdroyd about Wolfenstien 3D on Sega Mega Drive (Never finished or released)
Wolfenstein was the first project I had in C instead of assembler. I had the source code for the SNES version and after a month of tearing my hair out I realised there was a bug in the C compiler/linker. I don’t think anyone believed me and they sent someone from the software supplier with the intention he would show me where I was going wrong. He sat beside me. I had on my screen the source and object code and I showed him the error. He said ‘Oh!’ Anyway they fixed the problem. The SNES code was really good. It compiled and ran on the Sega with little trouble and then all I had to do was code the final rendering and audio which took only a few weeks. It was a long time ago and I’ve no idea why it was never released.
Interview with Paul Carruthers:
Q)You ended up working on ‘Escape From L.A’ for Virgin, which was canned, so…what platforms was it due o, how far along did coding get? and why was it canned?
PS1.We hadn’t got very far at all when it was cancelled. I got the impression that early screenings of the movie had shown it wasn’t going to be a huge success!
Q) Moving onto your time at Climax next, you were handed the Dreamcast conversion of N64 Turok The Dinosaur Hunter (something i’d loved to have of seen), again i wonder just how far along coding got/why it was canned and how you felt seeing yet another project cancelled?
Coding never even got started on that game. Canning games before they start or very early into production isn’t a problem and it’s quite common.
I did a Gameboy version of Xor that never saw the light of day!
Interview with Andy Satterthwaite, developer and producer on many games such as Wipeout 2097, Colony Wars, N-GEN Racing, Quantum Redshift:
Colony Wars had actually been in development for about a year when I was finishing on 2097 … it had been developed in the Psygnosis US office, but it was struggling and the team was brought back to Liverpool. […] My recollection of when I first saw the game was of a cube-like spaceship floating in space not doing very much; a gargantuan design document and a schedule that said the team had to do 170 hour days to get it finished. […] We cut the number of missions in half, re-scripted the game, made it wonderful etc. etc.
Q14)You then were signed up by Microsoft to do 2 (?) titles for the Xbox, yet we only ever saw 1, the fantastic Quantum Redshift, could you detail how you came to be working for MS, how they were to work with in terms of pro’s and cons etc?
I believe the game sold about 250,000 copies despite the good reviews; Microsoft said they didn’t get out of bed for less than 500K units, so they no longer wanted the sequel
Wii Speed Racer, I believe the game did quite well though; we actually did produce a demo on PS3 too … that would have been beyond awesome; but the lack of film success nailed that coffin shut.
Top unreleased stuff that I can think of: “Storm Chaser” – something we were pitching during the death of Curly Monsters, A combo of disaster sim, racing/chasing game & pokemon-snap, as you try to take the best photos of twisters destroying stuff.
“Racing Life” – a whole horse ownership/management/racing RPG – this was actually designed with no intention of release, but at the time to get a PS3 dev license you had to get Sony concept approval on a full boxed title, so this was my “full boxed title” that got us that license (and then allowed us to make GripShift as a PSN download)
“Space” – a PSP mobile friendly Elite-like space game
“Arena Soccer” – an indoor soccer game (basically I want to make a 5-a-side Sensible Soccer for mobile, if anyone will let me !)
“Spy Hunter” – an epic reinvention of the midway classic, which Warner Bros were interested in – but not interested enough.
An interview with Neil Casini
3D Lemmings actually started life as a puzzle game that was created by James Thomas and Martin Hall working under the name Lunatic Software. They were already working for Psygnosis (they did a fantastic job of porting Wiz’n’Liz to the Amiga) and I believe during a code review, someone said could this be reworked to make lemmings in 3D? The idea stuck and the project was green-lit.
Batman Begins for E.A: We were really up against it actually. Initially we thought just two sections would be quite easy but EA wanted each section to last about 10 minutes. On full boost, the Batmobile travelled about 200mph. So for a section to last 10 minutes we had to build about 30 miles of track! All of a sudden we had a mountain to climb. I remember the levels really testing the game engine to the max but I think they turned out pretty well and were a welcome change to the slow pace of the main game. In actual fact, some of the takedown mechanics and ideas were borrowed for the next version of Burnout so I was pretty pleased to hear that!
Dead Space Extraction : Originally, it was meant to be an on-rails shooter very similar to Sega’s The House of the Dead; a very loose story, no cutscenes as such… just shoot, shoot, shoot. This is until we delivered our first vertical slice (a snapshot of what the final game could look like so execs can understand what they are getting and officially green light the completion of the project). Based on what they saw, EA elevated the status to AAA over night and from that point on, everything changed.
There is one game that will be of particular interest to you and your readers. I worked on a prototype for a Next Gen Contra. Eurocom was in talks with Konami and another internal team had made an attempt at a visual style but it didn’t go anywhere, they gave me a crack at it. I threw it all away (sorry lads!) and started from scratch, focusing in on the fundamental mechanics of a run’n’gun game. I decided to take inspiration from Geometry Wars and utilise a twin-stick control system whereby you steered your character with the left stick and aimed and fired your gun with the right stick. It had a semi-auto lock-on that meant you just pointed the stick towards the enemy and it would handle the vertical aiming for you. It meant that we could author the camera to keep the action on screen and always look dramatic while you just jumped around looking cool. We thought it was awesome. As did the Konami producer when he came to see the demo. Sadly, we didn’t get the contract. We were gutted. It’s a game that I’d still love to make one day.
Interview with Will Harbison:
A) When you have been in this business as long as i have you’ll find that a lot of projects fall by the wayside, for example I was in the process of working on an isometric Simpsons game while working at Ocean for the Atari ST and Amiga. That is one that i would have liked to have seen through to the end. Another game that got canned at the last minute was while i was working for a company called Malibu Comics who were soon to be bought by Marvel. The game was based on one of their superhero characters called Prime and was going to be a side scrolling, platform beat-em-up. I still have some graphics for that project. More recently I was working on a golf game starring Spongebob Squarepants and various other characters from the show. The game was pretty much complete but the plug was pulled right at the last minute.
A scan for the cancelled Playstation version of Alien VS Predator, released for the Jaguar.
Interview with Dave Taylor, former ID Software employee that worked on both Wolfenstein 3D and Doom for Atari Jaguar:
Dave Taylor: I don’t recall Quake even being a brain fart of an idea on the Jaguar. I seem to recall that Wolf or Doom or both actually sold at a better than 1:1 ratio with the system for a while, and even at that stupendous sales ratio, I think we still did some pathetic number of sales, like a couple hundred thousand units tops, which with cartridge margins is super not worth the suffering. Between that and all the dev suffering, neither of us was like, “Oh goodie, let’s do some more of that!”
Dave Taylor: Golgotha (PC) was canceled after we ran out of money and went to the public domain. Bits of it were re-used for years in lots of things. Worked on an educational math game I was quite excited about a year and change back written in coffeescript running under node.js, and that was a lot of fun, but I lost the original coder to burn-out (from previous work) and couldn’t finish it under my own steam. Not sure what became of that, but as I was the only one working on it at the end and had written most of the gameplay code, I imagine it’s still on ice.
Mick West Interview:
Q6)ROTOX was planned for the ill-fated Konix Multi-System and indeed work had started on it (i’ve seen youtube footage of it). It was also said to make use of the systems hydraulic chair. Were you directly involved with the Konix version and if so, what were your thoughts on the Konix hardware and it’s chances in the marketplace, had it been released?
A6) I only briefly saw the Konix, then Binary Design went bankrupt and laid everyone off. There was some shady re-organization, and they re-emerged as Creative Materials. So I never got to use the Konix. I never actually saw Rotox on it, but just now looked it up on Youtube (on the “Konix Multisystem – Prototype Footage” video). It does not look like they got very far with it. It was an interesting console, I’m really not sure how it would have done though. Hard to break into a large market with only a marginal improvement. Probably they lacked money.
Q12)Can you shed light on any of the unfinished games (on any platform) you either assisted with or wrote yourself….and how did it feel to see such hard work go down the pan?.
A12) Neversoft had quite a few. There was a Ghost Rider game, which was kind of like a Castlevania game. It got canceled as Crystal Dynamics were going through some re-organization. I can’t say we had time to mourn it, as we immediately went into overdrive writing demos, trying to get work elsewhere. We did an futuristic racing game, a rally race game, a golf game, and a mech 3rd person shooter called “Big Guns“, which we eventually got Sony to let us do, and at about the same time landed the MDK gig. Big Guns was a fun game, but it kind of got designed out of existence by the Sony Producer, and eventually was cancelled. That’s a shame, but then that led to Apocalypse and hence Tony Hawk, so it’s all good.