A portable version of Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night was in development for the Game.com, the ill-fated handled console created by Tiger Electronics in 1997, but soon the project vanished in the vaporware limbo and it’s unknown how much of the game was really completed before the cancellation. As other Game.com titles (see Resident Evil 2), this Castlevania should have been a “downgraded port” of the Playstation / Saturn Symphony Of The Night, with some evident differences for the limits of the hardware.
Only few screens remain from this project, preserved in the gallery below.
Prospero is a cancelled PC game that was in development by Valve while they were working on Half Life / Quiver. Initially the game was meant to be an action adventure, with an “science fantasy epic” storyline, lots of exploration and a complex combat system with psionic powers, but after a while the project became a MMORPG in which Valve wanted to let users to create their own worlds to have an ever-expanding universe. Prospero was canned in 1997 when Valve decided to move their effort to Half Life. Key features that were planned for Prospero were later integrated in other Valve projects, as Steam and Portal 2.
In the Half-Life sound files folder (Steam version), the music files commonly known as “Dimensionless Deepness”, “Steam in the Pipes”, “Threatening (Short)”, “Traveling Through Limbo” and “Vague Voices” are named “prospero01” to “prospero05”, which could imply that the tracks were initially made for Prospero.
Thanks to an interview with Marc Laidlaw by François Aymes for Jeuxvideo.com, we can read some more details on the project:
The Prospero development was halted in 1998, was it because of Half-Life ? It was halted because some of us went to game shows and saw things that looked like Prospero, and felt that we weren’t doing anything that was going to make us stand out in the crowd. The project was flailing, struggling for identity, and there wasn’t a sense of great confidence. It was a natural thing to move more of our attention to Half-Life. Prospero was dead in the water well before Half-Life 2 came along.
Was Prospero supposed to feature a single player adventure ? Can you give us an idea of the plot ? It straddled the line between single player and MMO, which was not something we could have pulled off back then. There were all sorts of possible plots, but we never got far enough to have to decide which one would work for what we were building.
Thanks to Valve Time we are able to know more about this interesting project, check the video below!
Half-Life was the first product of Valve Software, which was founded in 1996 by former Microsoft employees Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell. They settled on a concept for a horror-themed 3D action game, using the Quake engine as licensed by id Software. Valve eventually modified the engine a great deal, notably adding skeletal animation and Direct3D support; a developer stated in a PC Accelerator magazine preview that seventy percent of the engine code was rewritten. The company had difficulties finding a publisher at first, many believing their project “too ambitious” for a studio headed by newcomers to the video game industry. However, Sierra On-Line had been very interested in making a 3D action game, especially one based on the Quake engine, and so signed them for a one-game deal.
The original code name for Half-Life was Quiver, after the Arrowhead military base from Stephen King’s novella The Mist, which served as early inspiration for the game. Gabe Newell explained that the name Half-Life was chosen because it was evocative of the theme, not clichéd, and had a corresponding visual symbol: the Greek letter λ (lower-case lambda), which represents the decay constant in the half-life equation. According to one of the game’s designers, Harry Teasley, Doom was a huge influence on most of the team working on Half-Life. Subsequently, according to Teasley, they wanted Half-Life to “scare you like Doom did”.
The first public appearances of beta Half-Life came in early 1997; it was a hit at Electronic Entertainment Expo that year, where they primarily demonstrated the animation system and artificial intelligence. Valve Software hired science fiction author Marc Laidlaw in August 1997 to work on the game’s characters and level design. Half-Life’s soundtrack was composed by Kelly Bailey. Half-Life was originally planned to be shipped in late 1997, to compete with Quake II, but was postponed when Valve decided the game needed significant revision.
In a 2003 “Making Of Half Life” feature in Edge, Newell discusses the team’s early difficulties with level design. In desperation, a single level was assembled including every weapon, enemy, scripted event and level design quirk that the designers had come up with so far. This single level inspired the studio to press on with the game. As a result, the studio completely reworked the game’s artificial intelligence and levels in the year leading up to its release. At E3 1998 it was given Game Critics Awards for “Best PC Game” and “Best Action Game”. The release date was delayed several times in 1998 before the game was finally released in November of that year. [Info from Wikipedia]
Below you can see beta screenshots and videos from the early Half Life development, with many differences and removed content.
Nuon originally started off as “Project X,” and was featured in EGM’s 1999 Video Game Buyer’s Guide. One of the Nuon’s main software developers was Jeff Minter, who created a version of Tempest (entitled Tempest 3000) for the system, and the built-in VLM-2 audio visualizer. NUON was created by VM Labs who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001. The rights to the NUON technology was purchased in 2002 by Genesis Microchip. – [Info from Wikipedia]