Xbox

TimeShift/Chronos [Beta – Xbox 360, Xbox, PS2, PC]

TimeShift is a futuristic First-Person Shooter released in 2007 for the PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, developed by Saber Interactive and first published by Atari, then, by Sierra Entertainment.

TimeShift‘s plot revolves around a secret program aimed at designing two time shifting suits. One is stolen by the doctor Aiden Krone, the main villain, and you, wearing the other, must go find it. Following him backward through time to 1939, player discovers a dystopian sci-fi alternative past with Krone as the supreme ruler.

Its key feature is the player’s ability to control time: slowing, stopping and rewinding it. This allows many possibilities during gunfight as well as solving specific puzzles.

The game’s development was pretty messy. It was first revealed in February 2004 under the title of Chronos, and was planned for the PC, Xbox and Playstation 2, using the in-house engine of Saber Interactive, the Saber3D Engine. As we can see on the screenshots for this version, it was using the same HUD as previous Saber’s game: Will Rock. Here is what we could read on French website Jeuxactu:

Known for having developed Will Rock, Saber Interactive is currently working on a new project called Chronos. This will be an FPS based on the same engine as Will Rock’s (which is also a homemade engine). If we don’t know anything at the moment about the scenario and the gameplay of the game, Saber Interactive has nevertheless shared some images on their official site. Planned on PC, Xbox and PS2, Chronos should probably be released later this year in the United States, as soon as a publisher is found.

The project resurfaced in October of the same year when HomelanFed announced that Atari was going to be the publisher:

A check of Atari’s official web site reveals some titles of games that have not yet been officially announced. The PC section shows a listing for Civilization IV, which is most likely the next game in the long running and popular strategy game series. Other unannounced games listed include three identified as “action” titles with the names Chronos (PC-Xbox), Enemy In Sight (PC-Xbox) and Rat Race (PC). Besides the titles and the game platforms there is no other info available on these games.

In January 2005, Atari renamed Chronos as TimeShift and shown it to Gamespot. Throughout the entire 2005 year, the project was showcased here and there at various occasions. However, in April 2006, Atari sold the game to Vivendi Universal Games, owner of the Sierra Entertainment’s brand, as we can read on Gamedeveloper:

Officials from Vivendi Universal Games have confirmed, via a pre-E3 press showing, that time-bending PC and Xbox 360 first person shooter title Timeshift will now be published by VU Games, rather than original publishers Atari. Although representatives from Atari have not commented on the change, the game was initially scheduled for a May release by the company, but no longer appears on Atari’s schedules. Vivendi officials were unable to provide further details at time of press, indicating only that the game currently does not have a scheduled release date.

The storyline alongside various characters were rewritten or removed, the only exception being the doctor Aiden Krone, formerly named Ivan. Here is what we can read about these former characters on GameGossip:

Colonel Michael Swift

Colonel Michael Swift (recently retired) has a unique combination of brains and brawn that have helped him to rapidly rise to the top ranks of the Air Force. An all-state running back in high school, Swift passed up on athletic scholarships from some of the country’s best universities to join the Air Force Academy where he majored in military strategic studies. After graduating from the Academy at age 21, Swift spent ten years as a combat and recon pilot, flying thousands of sorties. In the year 2004 during a secret mission he was shot down over hostile territory. He spent three months navigating the treacherous terrain of the enemy’s land, avoiding capture and battling the elements before successfully reaching the border of an ally. His resurfacing became the stuff of legend and the Air Force soon promoted him to the rank Colonel. He soon became a specialist in the research and development of advanced weaponry for future combat. Upon the death of his wife he retired from active duty and became a full-time father.

When a government agency initiated the testing of the Quantum Suit and the Chronomicon – a highly publicized event – they chose Swift to perform the experiment as he was the only candidate with the proper mix of DNA, brains and strength to perform he job. After initially declining the offer, the tragic death of his daughter Emma causes him to reconsider.

Professor Ivan Krone

Professor Ivan Krone was born in 1947. Krone’s father, Nicholas, was a scientist who worked in the US Patent Office in Washington DC.

In 1955 Krone’s parents were killed in an accident. With no known relatives Krone was transferred to an orphanage where he spent the rest of his youth. He became highly anti-social and isolated himself from the other children in the home. Krone escaped reality by embracing the study of science. For the next decade he devoted all of his time poring over the works of the world’s great physicists, from Newton to Einstein to Feynman to Hawking. Krone soon began to see himself as the next in line among the kings of physics.

By the age of 17 Krone was accepted into the Technology Institute where he studied for the next 10 years before receiving his doctorate in Applied Physics at the age of 27. Upon graduation he took a position in the Institute as an associate professor. He began to delve seriously into the study of time travel and time control. By the turn of the century, Krone had developed a device that he was convinced would allow for limited time control functionality. He sought out students interested in participating in an experiment to test the device. One student volunteered. The test proved disastrous – the device exploded during the experiment and the student was killed.

An investigation followed the tragedy and Krone was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. He was sentenced to an unusually harsh prison sentence. For the next decade-and-a-half Krone’s obsession with time control grew even stronger. He feverishly devoted himself to its study during his long tenure in prison. Upon his release he had a host of ideas ripe for testing, but he couldn’t find a way to get them funded. He was rejected and shunned by the academic community and mocked for his obsession with the study of time. Krone was left to find a way to fund his studies on his own.

For the next decade Krone worked zealously. He spent days working as a janitor in a local college and nights secretly working in the school’s labs. By the turn of the century Krone had made a startling breakthrough. While he had not yet discovered a way to travel in time, he created a device that allowed for limited control of time. Word leaked to the public of this invention and the government quickly assumed control of the device in the name of the national interest. Krone was devastated. He had worked his entire life to come to this moment and now the government had usurped control over his project. The government promised him compensation and guaranteed him the right to continue to develop the project. He reluctantly agreed, all the while resentful of the government for scorning him and then assuming control over his life’s work. It was in this environment that Swift was chosen to test the Quantum Suit in November of 2007.

Jasmine Lin

Jasmine Lin is Ivan Krone’s assistant on Project TimeShift. She has a passion for what she does, and it has taken complete priority in her life – above family, a vacation, or a relationship. She is especially optimistic about Krone’s project…but she has a chip on her shoulder due to having been passed over multiple times within her career progression because of both the male-dominated nature of the military and the innate bureaucracy of the government itself. Additionally, she has been given the awkward and stressful task of gaining the commitment of the notoriously obstinate Colonel Swift, who is ironically the ONLY man found within the military (past or present) to be able to take part in the project due to his unique DNA.

General Bruce Mitchell

General Mitchell is Project TimeShift’s military overseer. While Professor Krone is the director—and the brains—behind the project, Mitchell unquestionably holds the purse strings. It is Mitchell who suggests Swift’s involvement in the Project, as his ex-superior. Enormously competent and meticulous to a fault, Mitchell cares only for the men under his command and his duty to his country.

Emma Swift

Emma is Swift’s 5 year-old daughter. She is the only family he has, and is the reason he initially turned down the chance to be involved in Project TimeShift in the first place. Her death in an accident that destroyed her school bus haunts Swift even as he agrees to take part in the Project.

Some famous actors were initially going to voice characters in the game. Revealed in July 2006 by Gamespot, Dennis Quaid was the voice of Michael Swift and Michael Ironside voiced Dr. Ivan Krone:

Today, Vivendi Games announced that Michael Ironside has joined the voice cast of TimeShift, the sci-fi shooter the publisher recently acquired from Atari. Ironside will play Doctor Krone, one of the scientists developing the time-travel technology at the center of the game’s storyline.

Joining Ironside is one of Hollywood’s more recognizable leading men. Dennis Quaid, whose 20-year career has spanned the 1980s, ’90s, and ’00s, is also joining TimeShift’s cast. It will be his first game project and will see the aging heartthrob play Colonel Michael Swift (Ret.), a former test pilot who becomes the world’s first “chrononaut,” or time traveler.

Rounding out the cast is character actor Nick Chinlund, who will play General Mitchell, director of the game’s time-travel project. Though not a marquee name, Chinlund has appeared in many movies familiar to gamers, including Chronicles of Riddick and Training Day. Chinlund has had guest spots in several high-profile TV series, including The Sopranos and Desperate Housewives.

In the final game, none of the work done by these actors were retained, as characters Michael Swift and Bruce Mitchell were both entirely removed, and character Ivan Krone rewritten. Storyline was also a bit modified, but remains the same in general:

The storyline basically was as follows: Michael Swift, the protagonist, volunteers for a time-travel experiment, under the direction of scientist Dr. Ivan Krone. Swift travels back to 1911 and tampers with the past in some way. Upon returning to the present day, the entire world has changed and Krone is now an evil dictator ruling over a 1984-but-cartoony-esque United States.

Following the acquisition by Vivendi Games, TimeShift was pushed back for the end of 2007 and decision to make a complete overhaul of the project was taken. In April 2007, director of product development Kyle Peschel, explained everything that happened on Shacknews:

“So Sierra pulled me in the office last year–with seven bugs left to fix on TimeShift–and said, ‘If we gave you a year, what would you do with that?’

I said, ‘Are you fucking kidding me? I’ve got seven bugs, let’s put the fucking thing out tomorrow. I’m sick and tired of fucking crunching. I can’t handle hundred hour weeks for another year.’ And Martin Tremblay, who had recently arrived, said, ‘No, Kyle, I really believe we can do something greater than what we’re doing now. What would you do?’

“Well I said, ‘I’d scrap the physics system, get rid of this Meqon and put in Havok. I’d kill off the first four levels of the game, because we made the classic video game mistake of doing the beginning first and the end last, and the end is great and the beginning is weak. All these Full Motion Videos we paid for, I want to get rid of them. I want to get rid of the story, I want to get rid of the style guide, I want to get rid of the weapons, I want to get rid of the menus, I want to get rid of the HUD, I want to get rid of the suit. I want to get rid of the main character; people aren’t identifying with him.’ I just went down this list. I was kind of going after that list so aggressively that I was kind of hoping people would say to just release the game tomorrow, and then I could be done with it. But he goes, ‘Okay. Let’s do that.’

TimeShift has switched publishers (from Atari to Vivendi subsidiary Sierra), switched platforms (from Xbox and PC to Xbox 360, PC, and PS3), switched visual styles (from steampunk to gritty oppressive future), and switched innumerable control- and design-related decisions, but it has not switched its producer. Peschel described to me how he started on the project back at Atari, and how he managed to stick with it when it was dropped as a result of that publisher’s well-publicized tumultuous financial situation.

TimeShift was picked up almost four years ago almost as a value title,” he explained. “When it was originally picked up by Atari, I had just come off of some other first person shooters. It was kind of opportunistic–let’s take a chance on these guys in Russia. So I sat down and started looking at the game said, ‘You know, I think we could really do something with this,’ provided we really built the mechanics and made it not gimmicky, focused on an interesting art style like steampunk–set it apart from the myriad of things. So we started rolling with it, and got about done with the Xbox [version], and I sat down with [then Atari CEO] Bruno Bonnell and all the execs at Atari, and they said, ‘So, Kyle, can you make this game for 360?’ I’m like, ‘What, am I a fucking genie now?’ They say, ‘No, seriously, it’s for 360 now.’

“I say, ‘Okay, I’m sure we can get that out.'”

That was to be the first time the game would undergo large-scale redevelopment. Soon, however, Atari’s funding started to dwindle in the face of falling revenues, and in January 2006 the team was pressured to get a demo released quickly. Internet response illuminated some of the game’s major issues, some of which were a result of the game being quickly ported up to target then-current hardware, and some of which went as deep as the game’s perhaps poorly planned visual style.

“When you get something in that many hands, you listen to the feedback. I’m making games for guys like me, not for corporate America. I mean, I work for corporate America–I don’t want to sell it like I’m the fuckin’ hero of gamers everywhere–but I’m cognizant of what people are saying. I was on Shack reading the comments and, reading between the lines, people were saying basically, ‘I really like some of what they’re doing, but this steampunk shit is ass. Look at this fucking knuckleduster thing, what the fuck is that? It’s all confused.'”

Soon after, Atari announced that it would be shedding much of its development to help reduce expenditures. TimeShift was put up on the auction block, and Peschel quit his job to go work for Vivendi’s Sierra Entertainment label. “Within a day,” he recalls, he was approached by management with the possibility of Vivendi acquiring TimeShift from Atari and reassigning him to the project. At the time, Peschel was working under industry veteran Drew Markham, who founded Gray Matter Studios, designed Xatrix’s Kingpin: Life of Crime, and produced Gray Matter’s Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Markham saw, as Peschel had when the game was first signed by Atari, that TimeShift had more potential than it was demonstrating, so Peschel went back and started rethinking major aspects of the game.

“I changed the storyline up at the last minute, and that’s when we brought in [voice actors] Dennis Quaid and Michael Ironside and all those guys,” he recounted. “A funny thing happens when you rewrite the story: you pay attention to everything. I was thinking, ‘Fuck, X isn’t working, Y isn’t working, I wish I could do this.'”

That was when, at seven bugs away from completion, Peschel was called into Sierra’s offices and was told that he had another year. The original steampunk theme was dropped and replaced by a grittier, darker, more desolate future. The main character was redesigned from a muscle-bound action hero to a more faceless protagonist in a full body suit, into which Peschel hopes players will project themselves.

It must be stated that TimeShift’s visuals have come a long, long way since the game was shown in demo form last year. Since that point, it went through an overhaul to bring it up to speed for Xbox 360, but Peschel noted that even then the game had a great deal of legacy geometry and textures, and did not feel up to par with modern shooters. It was not until development was revamped again and the entire visual style scrapped that the game began to look truly new.

After its release, TimeShift has received mixed to positive reviews by the press. In December 2017, VentureBeat revealed during an interview of Matthew Karch, Saber’s CEO, that a spiritual sequel called Timebender was in development:

As Saber continues to work on Quake Champions, it’s also working on other projects, most notably a follow up to its 2007 time-manipulation shooter: TimeShift. Saber hasn’t officially announced it yet, but it’s in development. It’s something of a passion project for the studio. (…) Of course, it can’t be called TimeShift 2, since Activision still owns the rights, so instead it’s a spiritual successor. It will be a new story with a new name, but the most important elements, like the time manipulation, will be returning. (…) As for the new name, nothing is set in stone, but Karch has already registered ‘Timebender’.

According to some information made available from the e-book Advances in Computer Entertainment Technology: 14th International Conference, Timebender was going to be multiplayer only. However, according to this site, it seems that the project could have been dropped as the use of the Timebender trademark entered in the status “abandonned” in November 2018.

As noted by Liqmatrix the Atari PC seven level single player beta is available at this link: https://archive.org/details/TimeShiftAtariDemosDJXavieRO

Thanks to John Paul, Liqmatrix and Gerror for the contribution!

Chronos images:

TimeShift Atari’s version Images:

Gameplay videos from the 2006 demo:

Michael Ironside’s interview:

Nick Chinlund’s interview:

 

Zombies : The Awakening (Krysalide) [PC/XBOX/PS2 – Cancelled]

Zombies : The Awakening is a canceled survival-horror first-person shooter developed by Krysalide for the PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox around 2003-2004 for a release planned in the beginning of 2005.

Using the Unreal Engine 2, Zombies : The Awakening was the first game from a small team composed of 15 people. Few is known about the game itself apart from the official announcement on the old website that we can now find everywhere on the Internet:

“Mix of FPS and survival/horror. Balance between action and adventure to offer a varied experience to the player.

Interactive use of the surroundings in order to survive in the besieged town : find objects to block paths, use electricity or gaz to forge a path to freedom. Find food and medication to save your skin and that of other survivors.

Beware the contamination… zombies attacks will slowly turn you into one of them… See your body changing, becoming slow and clumsy, but also more resistant to bullets and other attacks. But will you find a cure in time ? Find medikits, ingredients to a serum and use the sickness to your advantage.

Find other survivors. Each will bring new skills in medication, combat, electronics… and each one will have a different personnality and weaponry.

When ammo is sparse, use other mayhem devices : electric drill, molotov cocktail, and many more…

Half of the city is plunged in darkness. If you want to avoid surprises, find reliable light sources.

20 hours of intense gameplay, 11 levels to test your survival instincts, 20 weapons and 12 sidekicks.

Various and dangerous enemies, with different behaviors and intelligence. Hordes of living dead, squad based military, zombies, and bikers from hell ready to plunder town…”

On December 2003, a developer from Krysalide was interviewed by Ownt and shared more about the game:

“Zombies is a first-person shooter created to replicate the vibe of Resident Evil while offering the freedom of movement of a first-person game. Krysalide hopes to avoid the heavyweight competition of FPS by standing out for the gameplay peculiar to any good survival horror game.

The game will last about 15 hours and will be a series of missions and puzzles placed on a linear frame. Each mission will allow you to meet a new secondary character with his own weapon and special skills.

The project is ambitious, especially since it is planned to integrate into the game a substantial multiplayer part that the developer of Krysalide compares to Counter Strike with zombies in the center and on each side of the character classes (bikers, soldiers, police officers, survivors).”

However, after some gameplay was revealed initially on February 2004, the game vanished before French website NoFrag was informed from the CEO of Krysalide himself, Loïc Barrier, that it was definitely canceled due to lack of publishers interested in the project:

It’s been a year since we last talked about Zombies: The Awakening, and for a good reason: today I had confirmation from Loïc Barrier, the boss of Krysalide, that the game will never be released. It was canceled, apparently a while ago, when Krysalide realized that no publisher would accept the project as the developer had designed it.

We can speculate that it was too ambitious for a first game from a small team of 15 people that had never made before their own game.

After the cancellation of Zombies : The Awakening, Krysalide would still work as an outsource company on various projects made by French developers such as The Crew and Dishonored 2 before disappearing.

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Video

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.

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

fourhorsemanlogo.jpg

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.

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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.

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