Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan (AKA Chaos when it was conceived on Playstation 1) is a cancelled first / third person open world shooter that was in development by Argonaut Games in late ‘90, planned to be published in 1998 / 1999 by Ubisoft on PC. While many other lost games from Argonaut were widely known, this one seems to have been forgotten for many years, until in January 2016 Werta Oldgamesru noticed this title and posted about it in our Unseen64 FB Forum. The project was quite an interesting twist on the classic shooter genre, because of its open world environments and anthropomorphic animal enemies. As noticed by Ross Sillifant, a two-pages preview of the game was featured in Edge magazine September 1998 issue, where we can read a lot of details about its gameplay:

“Think dark tunnels, think robot enemies, think bleak future worlds. The stereotype defined by ID’s seminal Doom has been adhered to with a near-religious reverence by developers worldwide. So perhaps, it’s salient that Argonaut, a traditional console game company once strongly linked to Nintendo, should be chipping away at the genre’s mould. Argonaut first person foray is currently dubbed Kanaan, although the search for a name to replace the development tag of “Chaos” has been a protracted wrangle. While the game’s futuristic setting is nothing new, its dog-themed alien enemies are refreshingly different. Guiding lone human Gabriel Cain, the player must stop the invaders from capturing his home planet of Camrose. Cain is one of two surviving members of Camrose’s crack Chaos Squad, the other being the group’s traitorous captain deSoto. As the game progress, new plot elements are introduced, including Cain joining the underground resistance. New weapons, locations and environments will gradually be uncovered as Cain struggles to defeat the alien foe. His eventual target is the alien leader Commander Kray, who must be brought down for Cain’s final victory.

Through the careful use of tessellation techniques, Kanaan has been gifted with vast environments. […] However, the game also contains a large number of structures which can be entered, the action blending smoothly from interior to exterior. Using Kanaan’s powerful 3D engine fully, certain buildings will feature balconies, giving the player the ability to look across an area and attack enemies from a distance.

In order to move swiftly around these incredibly open areas, the player can capture and utilize a variety of vehicles. These includes jeeps, cars, trucks, speedboats, helicopters and bombers, each with their own armoury available at Cain’s disposal. […]

While Kanaan’s standard viewpoint is first person, Argonaut has strong opinions regarding character depiction, and to that end an additional third person camera is selectable. […]

Cain also has access to a sniper weapon (as seen in Goldeneye) so he can pick-off foes from a great distance by zooming in through the weapon’s sights. Traditional first person puzzle elements also emerge, along with console systems which reveal conundrums that block progress.”

A few more memories about Kanaan’s development can be found in websites of people that worked on it. Simon Grell recalls:

“Kanaan was the first game I worked on at Argonaut. I did most of the character and vehicle designs but unfortunately it was canned shortly before it was due to be released”

In an interview with Julian Alden-Salter posted in the GameOn Forum, we can read:

“I spent 5 years at Argonaut working on Hot Ice (unpublished), Alien Odyssey (unpublished), Croc, FX Fighter Turbo and Kanaan but was made redundant when the project I was producing (Kanaan) was canned.”

As the game was almost complete when cancelled and even Edge was able to try a playable demo, we hope that in the future someone could find a video or even a prototype of Kanaan that could be saved.

Thanks to Werta Oldgamesru, Maik Thiele and Ross Sillifant for the contributions! Screenshots saved from AVOC by Fabio Cristi

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9 thoughts on “Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

      1. Fabio Cristi

        It was an online magazine, so how can I provide an offline copy? :) Feel free to use what’s at the URL I indicated, just give me some credit if you use something. :)

  1. Ross Sillifant

    PC Zone Magazine Nov’98 had a preview of it.

    Julian Alden-Salter doing a lot of the talking.
    He’s quoted as saying game used TWO 3D engines..1 for the interior environments, second for the exterior environments.

    Each level around 5 square km in size, game was more GoldenEye than Quake.

    The games A.I was also hyped up..your enemies would be able to smell and hear you as well as see you and react intelligently.

    3D modeller, Simon Grell, explained in order to have large, heavily populated areas, without hitting the frame rate,character models used less polygons than those in Quake or Sin.

    Game was expected to slip as team still had so much they wanted to implement.

  2. Ross Sillifant

    Andrew Seed kindly posted this on Atari Age forum :

    After Imagitec I worked for Cranberry Source ( Super Match Soccer ) which was eventually bought out by Argonaut. So I worked for them between April 98 and April 99. Argonaut were on a spending spree to increase its size for the IPO ( initial public offering ). The Cranberry guys were set up as a team to work on a N64 game but no progress was happing – so I asked to be moved to another team ( I literally was sat around most days doing nothing and was really bored ) I was moved onto Kanaan to help the lead programmer who was responsible for the lead programmer. Now the programmer had a reputation of not coming into work so not much work being done. When I looked at the code vast swaths of basic logic was missing – so I had to implement it. After a couple of months we were informed the lead programmer was not coming back . I also think the lead programmer might have been handling the network play. The landscape was made out of Bezier patches so it was never really flat and people had problems coming up with a physics model for vehicles and the programmer responsible for the vehicles said it was impossible and I was asked if I could do somethings. I said it would have a go which was not going to be physics based but fun to play. So I knocked stuff up so you could dive a jeep around , jet bike and massive tank / troop carrier all data driven by the model. I had a map with a ravine with 2 bridge models so you could cross it normally but i change it so they were at roughly 45 degrees to create a jump. It worked a treat , go too slow and you would not make it across and fall to you death and if you hit it correctly then it made the landing. The game was going to be on PS1 and PC with 3dfx2 cards. PC had plenty of memory but in the PS1 you could not fit the the simplest level map into memory ( even sharing vertices ) In designing the game they had not considered if it would fit and spent over a year on the PS1. Well the PS1 was going to be the big money earner and as we could fit the game into the console Ubi Soft cancelled the PS1 and all the focus was on the PC version. This was going to be cut down and no multiplayer. Some of the programmers just did not care anymore and things just slipped and eventually the game got canned and a few of us got made redundant.

    During this time at least one Alien game scrapped as it was terrible and started over again.

    It might have been just how I saw things but Argonaut did not feel like a company to make games just a place for people to have fun.

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