Others

Federation (Dimension Creative Designs) [PC – Cancelled]

Federation is a cancelled sci-fi action RPG / space exploration adventure that was in development by Dimension Creative Designs (Synthetic Dimensions) around 1996 / 1997, planned to be released on PC. We cannot find information about this project anywhere online, but thanks to Alex we saved a short preview that was published at the time in a Spanish magazine.

As many other canned space-adventures of the ‘90s the team conceived Federation as an overly ambitious 3D galaxy full of planets you could freely explore. We could imagine it as a mix between Mass Effect, Elite and Star Citizen: players would have been able to fly between planets, explore their continents, trade with their inhabitants and resolve various space-missions.

Dimension Creative Designs is mostly known for working on such titles as Corporation, Druid: Daemons of the Mind, Ed Hunter but as far as we know they never released anything similar to Federation and it’s unclear what happened to this lost game. If you know someone who worked at DCD please let us know!

Thanks to Alex for the contribution! 

Capucine (NoCulture) [Wii, PC – Prototype / Cancelled]

Capucine is a prototype for an action adventure that was created on PC (as a Far Cry mod) around 2007 by the NoCulture Team (composed of Supinfogame students), initially rumored to be released on Nintendo Wii. Players would have been able to use a ray of light to revive plants in a dead world, but when and object is lit up then a shadow enemy would appear behind it. This would create a gameplay loop in which your ability to generate life could also create enemies if you’re not careful.

As we can read in their old website:

“Capucine is an exploration / adventure game, formulated as a tale and based on shadow and light opposition. This game takes place in a fantastic universe where everything is dead. The player controls a child who holds a “capucine”. This flower enables her to survive in this desolated world. The little girl can hand on her own life to the surroundings thanks to a beam of light she can cast from her hand.

To maintain life, water will be vital. However, the player must be careful not to animate the shadows of the surrounding elements. Indeed, animated shadows will try to steal the flower in order to prevent the child from accomplishing her destiny: revive the World.

The main intention is to offer a quiet and disturbing gaming experience where the player explores the surroundings and solves riddles. During the adventure, we want the player to be fascinated by the world he discovers. We also want him to become attached to the main character. The gameplay and the interface must be easy to understand but not simplistic, in order to create an optimal immersion.”

Capucine was based on four fundamental principles:

  • Give life rather than take it.
  • A unique gameplay element: the beam of light.
  • Build your own path.
  • Players create their own enemies.

Some more details can be found in an old interview with Yohan Cazauk, lead designer of Capucine:

“My name is Yohan Cazaux and I’m 24. I’m a French student at Supinfogame ( a Game Design school). This is my last year of studies, and with 5 other classmates I’ve worked all year on Capucine, our final study project.

Capucine is an adventure game, but a quiet adventure. We favoured the exploration side rather than pure action. “Shadow and light” sum up the gameplay mechanics. Your only way to interact with the game is the lightbeam, and with it you’ve got to push back the shadow, but you also can create it : both notions are opposite but interdependent.

I was very inspired by the lyrics of a french song, “La fleur” for the original concept. It’s from this song that we came up with the flower concept; the “Capucine”. The team was also inspired by various movies, especially Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo Del Toro and all traditional tales. And as far as video games are concerned, we were inspired by Ico – by its poetry and its amazing graphics.”

“First, the flower is a part of the character – it’s her life. Without the flower, the child’s life starts to decrease. That’s why the shadows are trying to steal the flower. They can’t hurt the character directly.

Secondly, in order to preserve life in the game, the player has to make water circulate in the world. Without water, nature will die. The flower can serve as a substitute for water. If the player puts it down near a tree for example, the tree won’t die. But by putting down the flower, the child’s life starts to decrease… It’s a dilemma for the player, and it’s very interesting.”

“Well, the flower helps you to keep the world alive, until you “unblock” water to it. The light beam is the way for the girl to transmit her life to the environment. I say “transmit” because when she’s using it, her life decreases. But she can retrieve life by soaking the flower in water. The beam is the only way to interact with the world. Everything in the universe of Capucine revolves around light.

There are 3 ways to use the beam : continuous lighting, rhythm lighting and movement lighting. But if the player uses too much time of the light beam on an element, the shadow of this element will come alive and attack them.

We don’t know if a “final game” will exist one day. Capucine is just a prototype, and so it will stay on the PC with Wiimote/Nunchuk controls available. A few days after the (school) presentation, the game will be downloadable for free as a Far Cry mod on our website. For the moment, we don’t plan to make money with Capucine.”

As promised by Yohan, the Capucine prototype was released online at the time. Probably many gaming websites announced the project as a real Wii game because it was labeled as such on their “promotional” website, but as far as we know it was always meant to be just a school project. In any case, Capucine is still a fascinating prototype from the Wii generation, along with such cancelled games as Sadness and Project H.A.M.M.E.R.

Images:

Videos:

 

Star Net Frontier (Dart Studio) [PC – Cancelled]

Star Net Frontier is a cancelled Massive Multiplayer Online Sci-Fi RPG / Shooter that was in development by Dart Studio around 2002 – 2004, planned to be released on PC. Players would have been able to take different roles (trade captain, soldier, rogue, politic, etc.) while exploring a series of alien planets (with up to 100 square miles of open terrains), travel and trade around the galaxy, battle on planets and in space. As we have already seen many times in other cancelled games with similar premises (huge galaxy full of explorable planets, freedom to choose how to play the game, online multiplayer with thousands of players) Star Net Frontier’s ambitions were too high for a small team.

The game was planned to feature:

  • Highly flexible and modular design of the online world supported by dynamic game-play
  • Large-scale episodic storyline to extend and update game environments and locales as well as launch a major episode on a regular basis. Each episode will be based on such events as civil wars and invasions, large-scale battles, discovery of new planets, natural disasters, etc.
  • Simulation of sophisticated economy and politics; players will be able to engage in cutthroat trade, support or oppose political parties, establish governments, and even declare wars.
  • Player-to-player and player-to-NPC interaction of the thousands online players in the single persistent Universe.
  • Experience of multiple environments using First and Third Person View:
  • Large open terrain environment – roam on foot or vehicle from 10th up to 100th square miles of continuous open terrains including deserts, forests and jungle, hills and mountains, etc.
  • Open terrain environment will support real-time weather and environmental factors (rain and snow, alteration of day and night, etc.)
  • Open outer space environment – huge network of star systems, connected together. Using a spacecraft players will roam from one star system to another, orbit planets, explore asteroid belts, dock to space stations, land on the planets.
  • Large indoor environment – play inside of such structures as factories, mines, board huge space stations and battleships.
  • Water and underwater” as well as “in the air” environments.
  • Unique profession of reporter will allow players to record/replay events in the game. It will allow players to report and share in-game events and experience with other players in the game as well as with a bigger community out of the game, on the web.

From Dart Studio’s old website we can also read more about the game settings:

“Game takes place in the far future, millennia after the human race first steps on the moon of the home planet and in space. Humanity spread widely among the stars and settled hundreds of thousands of star systems. Vast computer networks spread across all those stars. And in this network AI woke up and gained consciousness. Controlling millions of mechanisms and bio-machines (cyborgs), it tried to free itself from the slavery as well as conquer and dominate humanity. Hundreds of years of wars followed that moment.

During the wars separated human worlds were united in the vast and mighty Empire and finally AI was forced beyond the borders of the Empire. But it wasn’t terminated, the threat still remains and war continues. AI mechanized legions are still attacking unprotected worlds at the borders and it sends spies deep into the Empire, looking for weaknesses. On the fringes of the human Empire, among the stars and on the surface of alien planets, the future of the sentient being will be decided.”

An interview with Dart Studio’s Vladimir Tarasov was also published by HomeLand in 2003:

SNF world will be populated by humans, AI machines, and cyborgs – hybrid combinations of humans and machines.

As a citizen of one of the planet-states or as a member of a free mercenary outfit, players will have a chance to try and learn many professions in the army, merchant fleets, trade guilds, and many more.

SNF game takes place on several planets, moons and space around these planets. Each SNF planet is a 3D emulation of one or several regions of the planet’s surface. Each region may cover up to hundred square miles of different kinds of terrain. Players may navigate on foot or using different vehicles to small towns, trade-posts, watchtowers, military bases and forts, ruins of underground labyrinths and mazes of abandoned scientific laboratories or industrial installations. In space the game takes place between planets, space stations, moon bases littered with fields of debris of destroyed spaceships, blown-up space stations, and ruined battle platforms and satellites left from previous wars. Planets and moons have asteroid fields and other space junk in their orbits as well. Players may travel in space using starships.

In the end Star Net Frontiers quietly vanished and today no one remembers about this lost game. We speculate the team did not find a publisher of funds to continue working on their ambitious MMO, so the project had to be canned.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

Images: 

Cyberdrive (Nadeo) [PC – Cancelled Prototype]

Cyberdrive is a cancelled racing game set in a sci-fi Paris that was in development for PC by Nadeo around 2001, before they became a favorite team among fans of arcade racers, thanks to their release of TrackMania in 2003. At the time Nadeo was still trying to find their niche, working on many different prototypes such as Windracer and Lanfeust of Troy to pitch them to different publishers. Cyberdrive looked inspired by TRON and we can assume gameplay could have been similar to TrackMania.

Some fans randomly found out about the prototype projects in 2011, saving a few images before they could have been lost forever. In the end Nadeo was lucky enough to get hired to work on Virtual Skipper 2 and 3, something that helped to keep them alive while waiting to find real success with Trackmania.

Images: 

Daikatana 2 (Human Head Studios) [PC – Cancelled]

Daikatana 2 is the cancelled sequel to John Romero‘s first and most ambitious FPS since his departure from id Software and the founding of Ion Storm. This sequel was in development with the help of Human Head Studios while Ion Storm was still working on the first game (as told by Romeron at PC Accelerator magazine), but no screenshots nor artwork were ever shown to the public before its cancellation.

It seems development on the sequel started in early 1998, when no one imagined that the first Daikatana would take so many years to be released, nor that it would bomb so hard when published. Former Human Head developers shared memories of the project in interviews and articles published by Eurogamer and GamesRadar:

“We first met John when he was the producer on Heretic and Hexen, so when we left Raven we thought, who better to work with than John Romero! Initially Ben Gokey called him up, told him the story, and he asked us to work on Daikatana 2. Of course we jumped at the chance.”

Ion Storm funded us enough money for a few living expenses and some new equipment. This in turn meant that we would be using the Unreal engine, and that was extremely exciting.”

Unfortunately by this time Ion Storm was already in decline, Daikatana was becoming a running joke, and Eidos were starting to wonder where all their money was going. Hiring an external studio to develop a sequel to a game that was nowhere near complete was one expense which they could do without. And so, “before we knew it the project was canceled and we were on our own again”.

Human Head would live to fight another day though. “When Daikatana 2 was canceled, Epic was incredibly nice and let us use the Unreal engine even though we didn’t have any contracts with any publishers.”

One of Prey’s concepts even came from past projects that Human Head had worked on. The idea of wall-walk boots originally came up during initial work the studio did for Daikatana 2. That game never happened, and after that, Human Head started talking to Epic about handling Unreal 2. One of its ideas for that project: yup, those wall-walk boots. Human Head didn’t end up doing Unreal 2 either, which was Prey’s gain. “Fast forward to Prey, we were like ‘Alright, we would love to be able to do wall-walk boots,'” Rhinehart says. “So I’m glad that we finally managed to get that particular tech in the game.”

The first Daikatana was postponed several times due to constant technical problems, forced engine changes and internal disagreements in the team. In 2000 the game was finally released and under the hooting of the press, it failed in sales and Ion Storm Dallas disappeared the following year. Human Head Studios later worked on Blair Witch Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock and Rune.

If you know someone who worked on Daikatana 2 and could help us preserving some artwork, screenshots or files from this lost game, please let us know!

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

Images: