Microsoft

Serengeti [Xbox, PC – Cancelled]

Serengeti is a cancelled adventure / simulation game originally in development for PC and Xbox in 2001 by Masa Group, a small French company focused on AI-based modeling & simulation software for defense, public safety and games-related markets.

This was an ambitious game that would have been played somehow like Afrika for Playstation 3, but conceived 7 years before Rhino Studios’ own project. You would play as a photographer and wildlife specialist, working in an African natural reserve set in the plains of Serengeti.

Serengeti was about exploring the African savanna, discovering its wildlife and preserving it from dangers (such as illegal poachers). The animal simulation was groundbreaking for its time, using an innovative AI engine that would fully simulate a complete ecosystem, with animals having up to 7 “motivations” (hunger, thirst, territory, mating, etc.). You could sneak on a cheetah and see it start chasing a gazelle, then resting and heading back to the shade. Every time the animals would move and react in a different way, following their “motivations” and creating a living environment to explore.

After a while Masa Group moved its gaming development team into a subsidiary named “Oiko Entertainment”, to expand their video game projects while the main company would continue working on simulation softwares.

More details about Serengeti were found in an old press-release by NatFX, a dynamic 3D plant modeling software that would have been used by the team to generate the game’s savanna with realistic african trees and plants:

“Serengeti’s numerous missions intertwine the player with the life of the park, from capturing sick animals, to recuperating the park’  tourism industry, to tracking rare animals and neutralizing poachers, mercenaries and even kidnappers.

Serengeti’s gameplay is essentially founded on the near-perfect representation of the natural world. The ability to hide behind bushes, tall grass, to take cover in groves and behind tall trees demonstrates the vital importance and direct implication vegetation plays in Serengeti. The vegetation is more than just scenery,  it’s really something that serves a purpose in terms of gameplay.

Set to release in the beginning of 2004 on PC and Xbox, Serengeti will certainly be a first of its kind. Set in Africa, it is an opportunity to use an original universe, different from the usual ultra-realistic war games  which typically occur in similar settings.”

Serengeti’s gameplay and AI-simulated wildlife was way ahead of its time on many aspects, and today it would probably be recognized for its interesting mechanics. Unfortunately in the early ‘00s it was hard to find a publisher for the game.

In the end Serengeti only reached an alpha stage before the team had to stop working on it. It seems Masa Group later closed Oiko Entertainment and Serengeti’s concept could have been sold to Atari / Infogrames, but nothing ever come out of it. The only released game by Masa / Oiko was Conflict Zone, a war-themed RTS published by Ubisoft for Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, and PC.

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Brooklyn Stories [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Brooklyn Stories is a cancelled adventure game that was in development in 2008 / 2009 by French team Lexis Numérique, planned to be released on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The project was quite ambitious and original for its time, mixing interactive storytelling, several playable characters, multiple narrative paths and some kind of “time travel” mechanic in which you could go forth and back in time to modify the fate of its protagonists.

Brooklyn Stories would have been played somehow like a mix between The Sims, Disgaea Infinite, Shadow of Memories and games by Quantic Dream (Omikron, Heavy Rain, Detroit: Become Human) and Telltale (The Walking Dead, Batman: The Telltale Series). Players would have been able to play as many different characters living in Brooklyn in the same townhouse building, following an intricate storyline spanning from the 1930s to the ‘00s.

Each character had their own life and problems to resolve. You would have been able to observe them living in their apartment and listen to their thoughts or dialogues with other characters, to help them or interfere with their actions by choosing how they would react or which item to use in different situations. Each choice would then change the course of the following events and each event would affect other characters and their related events, until reaching one of the many different endings. You could always go back in time to make different choices and see different reactions to each different action.

The game was divided into chapters set in several years, but always following the lives of the inhabitants of the same townhouse building. Each chapter had many endings which would then affect what would happen in the following ones. It was quite the intricate and epic storyline, touching the daily lives of normal people but also political, social and criminal intrigues. You could interact with the characters living in Brooklyn Stories to trigger funny and comical skits but also to save their life from violent murders.

Unfortunately after 2 years of development Brooklyn Stories was canned by its publisher, leaving Lexis Numérique with an incomplete project and without funds to continue working on it. In the following years the team developed less ambitious games such as Tales of Elastic Boy (2010, WiiWare) and  Amy (2011, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC), but with low sales and without publishers backing up other major projects they had to close down in 2014.

Only a few images and a short trailer are preserved below to remember the existence of this promising, lost game.

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Alone in the Dark 5 [PS2, Xbox – Cancelled]

Alone in the Dark 5 is the cancelled, fifth chapter in the cult-classic Alone in the Dark series that was in development by Atari / Infogrames Lyon House Studio in 2002, planned to be released on Playstation 2 and Xbox. One year after Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (developed by Darkworks) and six years before the Alone in the Dark 2008 reboot (developed by Eden Games), AitD 5 was in development directly by Infogrames Lyon as one of their major internal projects.

In early ‘00s Infogrames had already a few economic problems: in 2002 they had a loss of $67 million and things would only get worse during the following years. While Alone in the Dark 5 was never officially announced by Infogrames it could have been a successful game for them, bringing in some good sales. Unfortunately this never happened.

Alone in the Dark 5 was soon cancelled, possible because of quality issues or because the series and the classic survival horror genre were not as popular as before among gamers. The project could have been seen as a risk to complete in such an unstable market.

In 2003 Infogrames renamed all of its brands into Atari (after they bought out the name from Hasbro) and heavily re-organized the company and their projects. During the early ‘00s Infogrames canned many more interesting games, such as La Femme Nikita, Urban X-Tribe, Ghostbusters Academy, Riders and NetLife.

Only a few images from Alone in the Dark 5 are saved in the gallery below, to preserve its existence.

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We Are the Mods (The Warriors 2) [PS2, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

We Are The Mods is the cancelled spiritual sequel to The Warriors, the cult classic beat ’em up based on the 1979 movie of the same name. We Are The Mods was in development in 2006 by Rockstar Toronto, initially as a Playstation 2 project, but soon Rockstar decided to move it to the Xbox 360 as one of their first games for the 7th generation of consoles.

We Are The Mods would have not been a direct sequel, as it abandoned the movie setting to create its own one, set in 1960s England during the mods and rockers brawls. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“Mods and rockers were two conflicting British youth subcultures of the early/mid 1960s to early 1970s. Media coverage of mods and rockers fighting in 1964 sparked a moral panic about British youth, and the two groups became widely perceived as violent, unruly troublemakers.”

The game was never officially announced by Rockstar and it was unveiled only because of leaked assets in 2011. Some details were also found on the same developer’s website:

“The project had begun as a PlayStation 2 spiritual follow-up to the earlier hit ‘The Warriors‘, but part way through the development cycle Rockstar New York asked us to switch Mods from a Sixth Generation to a Seventh Generation development, changing from the PlayStation 2 to the Xbox 360 as the primary development platform. Much of the content here reflects that change, with Mods being the first Seventh Generation project the team had worked on. It was a learning experience for everyone involved. The game was similar in design and style to “The Warriors” but set in 1960’s England at the height of the “Mods” vs. “Rockers” era.”

After a while the project was canned, possible because Rockstar Toronto had to help with development on Manhunt 2, that was seen as a more profitable game for the company.

After We Are The Mods leaked on major gaming websites such as Kotaku and CVG, the original game page on the developer’s website was removed. We found a few more developers who worked on this cancelled sequel, but unfortunately it seems Rockstar don’t want them to unveil anything more on their lost project.

Only a few 3D models and early assets are preserved in the gallery below, to remember its existence. 

Legends (Pandemic Studios) [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Legends is a cancelled third person action RPG planned to be released on Xbox 360, which was in development in 2006 / 2007 by the original Battlefront team at Pandemic Studios. The game would have merged cover-based third person shooting in a series of floating sci-fi islands, with usable vehicles for combat and exploration, randomized dungeons and rare loot ala Diablo plus a quest system somehow similar to what at the time was used in MMORPG such as World of Warcraft. You can imagine Legends as a lost precursor of Borderlands (which was later published in 2009), taking the classic RPG loot formula into a more action-oriented shooter.

As far as we were able to gather about this unreleased project, the Battlefront team at Pandemic worked on it for about one or two years, with at least a prototype / alpha version of the game running with many placeholder models and images.

We can assume Legends was not seen as a priority project by Electronic Arts, when they acquired Pandemic Studios in late 2007 / early 2008. In the end Legends was canned to switch resources to more marketable IPs. In 2008 they released Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, and in 2009 The Lord of the Rings: Conquest and The Saboteur, before EA decided to close down Pandemic Studios in November of the same year. Other still in development Pandemic games were also cancelled: Mercenaries 3, The Next Big Thing and Batman: The Dark Knight.

Only a few prototype screenshots, missions designs and mockups are preserved in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost game. If you know someone who worked on Legends, please let us know!

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