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Terra: Formations (Starcave Entertainment) [X360/PS3/PC – Cancelled]

Terra: Formations is a canceled first-person shooter with real-time strategy elements developed by Cellien Studios, a two men team subdivision of game company Star Cave Studios, for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 systems, from 2004 to 2017.

The game was first revealed in the beginning of 2005 by Cellien as a multiplayer FPS using the Torque Engine:

“We at Cellien Studios are developing a game on the Torque game Engine from www.garagegames.com. Terra: Formations is a Sci-Fi FPS game that will be played online much like Unreal Tournament style. The project website is www.terrathegame.com and our studio website is www.cellienstudios.com. So far our studio only consists of two people but for a two man team and only 5 months of development I feel confident that we will be able to release a demo in the coming months so keep an eye out.”

After a year of silence, Gamesindustry announced Terra: Formations, now headed by Star Cave Studios:

“Irish Star Cave Studios Limited proudly announces the development of its first “AAA” title and first multiplatform game, Terra: Formations! In Terra: Formations, players have the freedom to select their preferred style of game play, ranging from high action First Person Shooter (FPS) to more strategic Real-Time Strategy (RTS) in a ranking system set up much like a Role-Playing Game (RPG)! It’s the clash of the titans when it comes to game genres; FPS, RTS and RPG – all tied together in this awesome looking fast-paced, action packed, futuristic Massive Multimedia Online Game (MMOG), also featuring single-player options and adventure elements!

By the year 2157, mankind had depleted the resources of planet earth with his lust for power, technological advancements and greed. Ironically, the very machines that played a role in mankind’s irrevocable position were the only chance of survival! After several years of uncertainty, hope was reborn with the efforts of the Global Military Alliance to Terraform one of earth’s celestial neighbours, Jupiter’s moon called “Europa”. It wasn’t until the excavation of the satellite’s icy crust that mankind learned the truth; he was not alone and something, somewhere, was waiting, watching, learning and preparing for battle!

As a player in Terra: Formations, you join the ranks of an elite military force with the objective of reshaping the environments of inhospitable worlds, experience the evolution of a developing planet, and take command to become humanities only hope for survival in an epic struggle for control of the solar system.

Four classes of characters offer different insight to the chaotic world, each providing a unique blend of interaction. The Soldier faction allows for adrenaline pumping action that players have come to expect from traditional FPS games. As a member of the Engineer class, the player becomes the key element in the development of the environment by constructing and repairing mankind’s lifeline to the world. The Researcher class explores the evolution of the world to enhance society’s tools and develop new technology, and finally the player can opt to take command of the action from the perspective of the Commander class to bring order to an uncertain future, tying RTS elements into Terra: Formations.

Star Cave Studios Limited is a privately owned game development studio based in Ireland, and the cream of Irish developers! Founded in June 2004 by industry veteran Keith Killilea, CEO, its focus is to create state-of-the-art computer games targeted not only at the PC platform, but also the next generation gaming consoles! During the course of 2005, Star Cave Studios Limited acquired Cellien Studios, based in Austin Texas, and Single Cell Games, based in Australia, and has now become the leader of Irish game development!”

After that announce, however, the game was put on-hold indefinitely, before surprisingly coming back from the dead in September 2012 on platforms such as Steam Greenlight and Indiegogo, using this time the Unreal Engine 3:

“In Terra: Formations, players have the freedom to select their preferred style of game play, ranging from intense action First-Person Shooter to more strategic RTS planning in an online multi-player universe.”

The key concepts of Terra can be summarized by the conflicting species, player classes, life forms, technology, locations, and gameplay that are designed to make a genre hybrid, player driven world possible.”

Terra: Formations main features:

Rich, highly detailed, atmospheric and wonderful alien enviroments

Changing environments reflecting your terraforming progress, becoming more habitable and supportive of your species requirements. Tug of War gameplay.

Permanent changes in environments – terraforming levels will remember your changes.

Groundbreaking genre crossing gameplay, combining First Person Shooter with Real-Time Strategy.

Highly detailed player characters, with customizable appearances

RTS online gameplay where you give real players control commands.

Advanced AI Droids for FPS defending & RTS resource play.

4 distinct classes of characters; Soldier (FPS), Commander (RTS), Builder (FPS+RTS), and Medic (FPS).

Hi Tech Weaponry & Several Ground / Air Vehicles

Commander Special Attacks such as air-strikes, cloaking, superweapons.

Aliens have the ability to turn Humans by infestation into fellow Aliens.

Global online points & stats system.

Open Mod System allowing map makers to create new worlds.

“The game was announced back in 2006 for all major platforms from PC to Consoles and the screenshots you see in the Gallery tab at the top of this page is the playable demo from back then! We spared no expense to create “AAA” class graphics, code, game-play and pulled all-nighters with barely no lives at all. To develop the whole game we needed a publisher and in the end Terra needed to be put on hold – until now!

On the Indiegogo page, we could read further details on the company and some ideas behind that game:

“Based on our funding target, we would expect to nail the deadline for Beta Release in late 2013. We know exactly what we are doing, and as Terra has been many years in the making, we are confident in our deadlines! We will keep you in the loop with our development at all times, and give you a look into the process and progress we are making.”

“Example of how amazing Terra will be, your playing on the multi-player level and the world around not just changes due to the terra-forming but stays changed even when you return later to it! We want to bring you an experience of game-play not done before and a dynamic living world you would expect to be on.”

Unfortunately, the crowdfunding campaign wasn’t a success, the game only collected 75$ on a fixed goal of 175,000. After this failed campaign, Terra: Formations disappeared again, but attended a third comeback, this time in the beginning of 2014. Rebranded as T.E.R.R.A. and using Unity as new engine, the project was slightly different about what was initially planned from it’s former form and was, once again, put on Steam Greenlight:

We are an small team of 4 so far working on this title but if we are funded we can bring in extra help from our peers to bring the game to an completion stage. For the past few years the game evolved from it’s concept of different demo versions towards today, believe me we have had plenty of time to do trial & error on blending the genre’s! We ended up with the finish concept after all of this to what it is now, so much had changed we changed the name to the current form to represent this.”

The developers managed to release it in Early Access around Spring 2016, but in April 2017, as we could read on the comments section, Starcave decided to rebuild the game to it’s core in order to get significant improvements:

“There was a break in the development, where we were reviewing everything of the Early Access release build and have decided to rebuild the core to make better improvements for between EA to Full release to be as smooth as possible. More updates will appear as soon.”

It will never materialize and, since then, Starcave disappeared from the picture alongside T.E.R.R.A. which isn’t playable anymore.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Moscow Rhapsody (Illusion Softworks) [X360/PS3 – Cancelled]

Moscow Rhapsody is a canceled First-Person Shooter published by D3 Publisher and developed by Illusion Softworks, between 2006 and 2008, for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.

For several years, little information was available regarding Moscow Rhapsody, until August 2019, when the Czech website Visiongame.cz interviewed Marek Rabas, who was lead programmer on the game, in order to learn more about its concept and the origin of its cancellation:

VG: So you mentioned that you left after the unannounced Illusion Softworks project was canceled. We have it in the archive, it’s Moscow Rhapsody. Could you tell us more about this game? Apart from a few pictures, not much can be found about it. So was it’s cancellation a reason for you to leave?

Marek Rabas: “Moscow Rhapsody was a First-Person Shooter that had some interesting inspirations. The first was Rainbow Six : Vegas, which combined 1st person and 3rd person cameras. So it was the FPS where you used the covers, and when you were in the cover, the camera just switched to 3rd person. The story took place in Russia and was inspired by the book Icon, which dealt with the coup. When some people go crazy and shoot the president, creating total chaos in the country. The player then had to move in this situation and try to solve it. It had a very interesting concept. I think that the game had hope of success and we worked on it for two years, helping to make the engine on which Mafia runs. Unfortunately Moscow Rhapsody was made for publisher D3 and not for 2K Games. So when 2K bought us, they canceled the project and moved people out of it to complete Mafia II. So it was an impulse for us to leave. They took our project and the relationship between the Mafia II team and the Moscow Rhapsody team was not entirely good.”

After the release of Mafia II, Illusion Softworks (then renamed 2K Czech) was merged with another internal studio at 2K Games, Hangar 13, to continue developing other games based on the Mafia license.

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise

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Toon Army (Brat Designs) [PC/XBOX/PS2 – Unreleased]

Toon Army is a canceled World War II first-person shooter developed by Brat Designs in 2004 for the PC, Xbox and Playstation 2 systems.

Information on Toon Army are pretty scarce as the game quickly vanished after it’s announcement, following the shutdown of Brat Designs. As we could read on the official website back then, now saved by Gamespy, Toon Army was going to be:

“A gritty, foul-mouthed, wise-cracking, cartoon World War 2 FPS battlefield game allowing both single player and multiplayer modes over a multitude of terrains, with up to 32 players in a game. Following the misadventures of GI John Doe the player takes on the dreaded Axis powers across Africa and Europe. At the players disposal are a wide range of weapons, devices and vehicles, including tanks, field artillery, aircraft, gun posts and much more.”

Using their proprietary engine named Mercury, Brat Designs promised a game similar to Battlefield for it’s gameplay alongside Cannon Fodder and Worms for it’s humorous art direction, featuring vast detailed terrains and interiors, interactive environments with fully destructible buildings, weather conditions including fog, rain and snow, micro vegitation, advanced shader technology and advanced lighting and shadowing. Two campaigns and various multiplayer and cooperative modes were also planned.

Toon Army wasn’t the only victim of Brat Designs shutdown. The company also had another similar game named Solar which was canceled in the process, alongside expansion packs and apparently a sequel for their only released game, Breed.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse [PC/XBOX/PS2/GC – Cancelled]

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a canceled beat them up/action game developed and published by The 3DO Company from 2000 to 2003, for PC, Playstation 2, Xbox and Gamecube.

As we can read on Gamespot, the game was a single-player action game centered on Abaddon, an archangel who must face off against the apocalyptic horsemen of the title, alongside Satan, and prevent the end of the world. Before players can take on the horsemen, they would have to find the three mortals known as “the chosen”, who were born with the power to fight the horsemen, to even the odds. However, while the three chosen are unaware of their abilities, the horsemen do know of them and the threat they pose. Players would be charged with finding and protecting the three chosen until they can be reunited and combine their powers to save the world. The chosen were Jesse Horner, a scantily clad 18-year-old prostitute; Jimmy Ray Flynt, a tattooed preacher turned serial killer; and Anderson Scott, a corrupt politician who actually unleashes the horsemen in the first place and only later realized he is one of the chosen. Players would take direct control of Abaddon, with the three chosen providing support based on their unique abilities. Jesse would be the party’s healer, Jimmy Ray’s mystic sight would reveal demons, and Senator Scott’s power of persuasion would take control of his enemies and force them to do his bidding.

It would appear that 3DO had broad ambitions for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, surrounding himself with multiple big names, such as Stan Winston as producer and comic artist Simon Bisley and illustrator David de Vries as game designers, in addition to many vocal talents like Tim Curry as Satan, Lance Henriksen as Abaddon and Traci Lords as Pestilence, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

The game would have more than 18 levels, ranging from the postapocalyptic world created by World War III to the depths of hell, featuring hand-to-hand fighting, swords, and projectile weapons, in addition to special abilities like a Matrix-like slow-motion effect and lots of gory effects, including dismemberment, dynamic exit wounds, and motion-captured finishing moves provided by Hollywood’s Smashcut Action Team to ensure that the game’s combat sequences appeared intricate and realistic. The gameplay would center on exploration and combat alternating between standard melee and ranged fights.

It was showed at E3 2003 where Gamespot wrote a preview:

“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is similar in look and feel to Devil May Cry during its action elements. Abaddon’s starting weapons include a pair of powerful pistols and two large swords that can be used to hack off the limbs and heads of your opponents. In the E3 build, only basic combat moves were available, but 3DO representatives noted that acrobatic, wire-fighting moves will be included as advanced combos. Abaddon also has the ability to execute superhuman maneuvers, such as using his swords to deflect bullets back at the enemies who shot them. You’ll also collect the souls of the enemies you kill, adding to your power in a meter called “the wrath of God.” Borrowing a page from Mortal Kombat, you’ll even be able to perform some gory finishing moves on higher-level enemies such as bosses.

The game will include some slower-paced exploration elements that will allow you to interact with non-player characters to gain more background story and hints on the dangers lying ahead. You’ll also be able to pick up bonus items to help you in your quest. There will also be some horror elements mixed in during the exploration portions, like the shadowy creatures we glimpsed running along a hallway behind us. We even found a room with a particularly gruesome murder–a Catholic priest crucified against a wall decorated with a bloody pentagram.

Currently, the game appears to be in a somewhat rough state, with many of the combat maneuvers and finishing moves not yet complete and the graphics looking a bit rough around the edges. 3DO is still aiming for Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to be released at the end of this year for the PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube, but the release could slip into 2004 if the game isn’t ready.”

Sadly, only a few days after it’s first and only official presentation, 3DO went bankrupt. As we can read on IGN, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’s rights were purchased by former creator and development director Michael Mendheim, helped by numerous investors who founded a company called Four Horsemen Entertainment L.L.C. We learned that, unlike others franchises bought by differents publishers after 3DO’s demise, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was neglected because it was in its then-early stages it may not have been large enough. Publishers may have also been unwilling to provide the time necessary to complete the title properly.

“Now that Four Horsemen is officially in new hands, what was initially intended as a title for current generation consoles has become an entire entertainment franchise. The new company will begin by releasing comic books and a graphic novel based on the property, and eventually release a completely revamped version of the video game for next-generation systems.

Mendheim has confirmed that the key players are back on board: Simon Bisley is creating the artwork, and Hollywood effects legend Stan Winston is handling toy and movie rights. The star voice talent slated for the first iteration of the game, including Tim Curry and Traci Lords, are also apparently still committed to the project.

While few details about the new version of the game are available yet, Mendheim did hint at horseback-based combat and an ambitious multiplayer mode involving epic battles of angels versus demons in which the player takes the role of one of the four horsemen.”

However, as far as we know, only comic books would be released, instead of the movie and the various iterations offered for video game concepts.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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Dreadnoughts (Xenopi Studios) [PC/XBOX – Cancelled]

Dreadnoughts is a canceled cooperative multiplayer First-Person Shooter developed by Xenopi Studios from 2000 to 2002, for the PC and potentially Xbox platforms.

The game was revealed in February 2001 on the official website of Xenopi as a game mainly designed for cooperation of players in multiplayer mode:

“Dreadnoughts is an exciting new first-person action game set in the distant future which pits different competitive factions against each other in a battle to determine dominance over whole planets. Designed from the start to focus on cooperative multiplayer gaming, Dreadnoughts is the first game to seamlessly combine the adrenaline and excitement of first-person shooters with the strategy and tactical finesse of capital ship combat.

Instead of trying to duke it out single-handedly with every other player, the player is a crew member of a gigantic fighting ship known as a Dreadnought. Crew members must work together to survive battles with competing Dreadnoughts. These battles can have simple objectives such as “Destroy the enemy Dreadnought” or complex and detailed missions with multi-task objectives such as “Gauntlet Run”, “Domination”, and “Capture & Escape”.

Because Dreadnoughts gives the player a choice of character roles, players can play the way they want. Take to the fields as a skilled combat warrior, or build up defenses and repair damage as an engineer. Wreak havoc on the opposing team as an assassin or lay waste to enemy fortifications with the incredible firepower of the Siege Warrior. Play as a scout and use your speed and agility to recon the enemy while the sniper picks off guards from afar.

If you’re more the strategist, then take your place at the Command Bridge and enjoy the awesome firepower of a fully armed Dreadnought at your command! These “Flying Fortresses” are armed with heavy cannons, anti-grav drives, ion shields, and the ability to take enormous punishment. All of this action takes place both indoors and outdoors in a world with unending terrain and huge complex interiors.”

On july of the same year, Homelan Fed managed to get an interview with three Xenopi’s developers:

HF: What games influenced the development of the game design and why?

D. S.  – “Obviously, the major first person shooters out there like Quake and Unreal Tournament influence us, along with the team based games like Tribes, Team Fortress, and Counter Strike. Along with those influences, the ship concept part is based somewhat on that old Genesis game Herzog Zwei. In that game, you had powerful ships that functioned as your main base of operations while your units tried to take over smaller bases to gain more power. We thought that dynamic could be adapted well to a team based first person shooter. I also liked the idea of two ships getting in firefights with people manning turrets against an enemy ship and trying to board it, and I’m sure I got inspiration for that from Skies of Arcadia.”

HF: What is the story premise behind Dreadnoughts?

J.B. – “It’s very sci-fi…it takes place in a galaxy that had previously been unexplored by our three warring species (the human “Terrans”, the insectoid aliens called “V’reen” and the self-replicating machines known simply as “The Droids”).

The backstory is this…numerous unknown signals were being picked up as the war grew closer to this uncharted galaxy. It turns out that the signals eminated from numerous planets within this galaxy. Further exploration uncovered the remains of an ancient alien civilization that had found a way to draw energy from the surrounding planets through a large number of, what are now referred to as, “outposts” that seem to be this alien civilization’s equivalent of oil drilling platforms or solar farms. So now, a few years after the discovery of this civilization and the power contained within these outposts, the different species have begun to tap into this new power and have derived technologies and weaponry that use this seemingly inexhaustable resource. These numerous outposts and the power they represent are the key to victory for the different species. Whoever can establish control over this galaxy will hold a power without equal and will be able to ensure their victory.

The plan now is to take control of the galaxy planet by planet with your team and Dreadnought at your disposal. Although the looming question is…what happened to this alien civilization? How could a species that held what appears to be unequaled power disappear? What caused their demise? Or Who?”

HF: How does the class-based design for the game work?

J.B. – “As mentioned, the different classes of characters provide roles for the team. All have completely unique abilities and will have class-specific weapons available to them. However, our goal is to make each class unique beyond just the weapons they can carry. Currently, we have 7 classes which include a Commander, Combat Warrior, Siege Warrior, Sniper, Assassin, Ranger, and Technician. The Commander’s main role is leading the team and piloting the Dreadnought. This role is vastly different than the others. The Commander is much less combat oriented and will be directing the assault from the Dreadnought, managing the systems, directing energy to the 3 major systems (engine speed, shields, and ship weapons). Essentially, you are “Kirk” on the bridge directing the action when you play as the Commander.

The Technician is also very unique. He’s basically designed as a defensive player who will be assisting the Commander in defending the Dreadnought, repairing and building turrets, repairing generators, and assisting the Commander in managing the systems. But the Tech can also mix it up on the battlefield with his weaponry and ability to construct anti-infantry turrets.

The other classes are more similar in that they are combat oriented, but their abilites and strengths still differ greatly. For instance, the Assassin can cloak to “near-invisible’ (a la Predator) and has a melee attack that is an instant kill…and the Siege Warrior is the heaviest armed and armored class, but will be slower and have less of a vertical range with his jetpack.”

HF: How do the dreadnoughts themselves figure into the game?

D. S. – “Your Dreadnought is not only your base, but it’s the most potent weapon in your arsenal. On one hand, you have to protect it and keep the enemy from boarding it and trashing the place, but on the other hand it’s very useful for taking over outposts or for attacking weakened enemy Dreadnoughts. It’s all about figuring out the right time to switch from defending your Dreadnought to attacking with it. Anyway, the whole score of the game is based on how many times you’ve destroyed the enemy team’s Dreadnought before time runs out. So if they destroy your Dreadnought, they get a point, and vice versa.”

In the following months, a FAQ page was also published on the website in order to learn more about the game:

“In the standard game, the players of the game are split into two or more teams. Each team has a large capital ship, or Dreadnought, as their base. Unlike other team FPS games, the bases in this game can be piloted and moved. The goal of each team is to destroy the other Dreadnoughts while protecting their own Dreadnought from destruction. Each time a team destroys a Dreadnought, the team earns a victory point. After a preset time limit, the team with the most victory points wins. Scattered across the game world are several outposts. Each outpost can be captured or recaptured to produce energy for a player’s team. Captured outposts can also be outfitted to attack opposing players or Dreadnoughts that pass by. While the Dreadnought ship is a team’s base and has to be protected, it also possesses great offensive strength. When it is used effectively to help attack enemy outposts or even weakened opposing Dreadnoughts, it can often turn the tide of the game. Players have several classes to choose from and can switch between classes inside Dreadnoughts and outposts during the course of the game. Each class has specific strengths and weaknesses.

The characters will all have jetpacks that allow them to fly for a period of time, similar to Tribes. Using the jetpack will drain energy. Not using it will allow the jetpack to “recharge”. We are currently planning on allowing the lighter classes a broader range than the slower, heavier units.

There is a large holographic map of the game world on the bridge of the ship. The captain uses this map as an interface to define the path he or she wants the ship take. So the piloting interface of the ship is handled more like a Real Time Strategy game. This method is easy and quick, and it will allow the captain to spend his or her time directing the team and not just piloting the ship.

As indicated by their name, Dreadnoughts are heavily armed and protected battleships. There are several different strategies a team can use to destroy another team’s Dreadnought. The simplest way is a direct “Dreadnought-vs.-Dreadnought” battle. While this is the easiest to initiate, it’s also probably the least advantageous. Since Dreadnoughts are pretty much equally armed/armored (at least, at the start of a game), the chances of winning a simple “head-to-head” battle are about 50-50. Another way to destroy the opposing team’s Dreadnought is to send Raiding (boarding) parties over to the other Dreadnought in order to destroy critical systems and THEN bring in your Dreadnought to finish off the crippled enemy Dreadnought. Yet another strategy is to increase your Dreadnought’s energy reserves (by taking over energy-producing ground outposts) thereby increasing your Dreadnought’s firepower and making your Dreadnought “stronger” than the enemy Dreadnought. Players should note that the Engineering station allows the team to adjust energy apportioning for the Dreadnought – you can direct more power to shields for greater protection, or more power to weapons for greater firepower, or more power to engines for greater speed. It’s a system which really is designed to reward strategists as well as tacticians.

Each ship has a baseline energy output that keeps all systems functioning normally. Captured outposts generate energy and beam it directly to your Dreadnought. Acquiring extra energy can increase each system’s output. The team that has captured more energy outposts earlier in the game will have an obvious advantage, but these possessions may change many times during the course of a battle.

Teams can also use captured outposts as a place to repair and reload. They can add automated turrets to fortify the outpost. These turrets can be used to attack passersby and wear down the shields of Dreadnoughts if they fly too close.

There is a standard base soldier class, along with more specialized classes like the sniper, the technician, the ranger, the assassin, and the Siege Warrior (a heavily armed and armored fighter). There is the important Commander class as well. This player is responsible for coordinating attacks and defenses as well as piloting the ship. Of course, the Commander can still personally mix it up with the enemy in hand-to-hand combat if he or she feels the need to.”

Unfortunately, Xenopi became more and more silent afterwards, and it was not until July 2003 that they announced the cancellation of Dreadnoughts, apparently already stopped for a while. We can assume that the project had not interested any potential publisher and that Xenopi was forced to fall back on more economically viable projects, before disappearing completely. Their only game was Pandamonium, a web game released in 2003.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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