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Cloak: the Naked Mind (Sierra) [Cancelled – PC]

Cloak: The Naked Mind is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Sierra Entertainment around 19961997, to be published on Windows 95 PC. It was conceived as an ambitious (for its time) spy-fiction, sci-fi adventure, mixing thriller investigations with space-mind-travels.

You would have been able to project your consciousness into a robot on an alien planet to resolve many different situations at the same time, using its multitasking skills. Some more information can be found in old gaming magazines, such as Interaction Magazine (holiday 1996 and fall 1996 issues):

“Imagine an alien race with telepathic  powers so strong that none of your secrets can remain hidden  from their probing. You’ll find them in Cloak: The Naked Mind, a new  kind of adventure game coming from Sierra in early 1997.”

“With Cloak, Sierra has  taken its trademarked adventure game interface  and revamped it from the ground up. Everything you see and do is completely new, seamless, and  phenomenally lifelike. The point of view is first-person — through your character’s eyes — with breathtaking,  animated sequences and cutaways. Game play and puz- zles are integrated into a seamless experience. And the story reaches beyond adven-  ture into the realms of science fiction and spy thriller.”

“In Cloak, you take the role     of a secret agent on the planet Altopia.  You’ve been strapped into a telepres- ence pod — a kind of virtual reality  environment — and linked to a highly developed, bipedal robot code- named Cloak.   After you’ve bonding to the Cloak, the robot is transported to a trading world where humans and the mysteri-  ous, alien Bulbs interact to trade human-manufactured robots for Bulb technology. There, you must find a way to the Bulb’s forbidden home planet,  where no flesh-and-blood aliens are allowed. Your mission is to delve into their mysterious way of life and discov- er if they are building a secret weapon  to use against humankind.”

“The Bulbs can read any biological  mind. Fortunately, they cannot read your mental signature inside the Cloak     robot. Because you will stay bonded to the Cloak until your mission is complete,  you are safe as long as you stay undis- covered. Remember that if the robot is destroyed, there will be no way to  retrieve your consciousness. You will be — in every sense of the word — dead.”

“The Cloak robot you occupy is an  extraordinary device that not only conceals your consciousness, but  contains tools that give you super- human abilities. Bipedal and roughly humanoid,  this type of robot is highly valued by the Bulbs both for its versatility and for command over  other robots. Operating its many sensors and attached devices allows you to do several things at once,  such as monitoring a security camera you planted in an abandoned ore mine, while using your command influence  to interrogate a robot bartender.”

“Cloak pioneers  new game technolo-  gy that takes advantage of the  Windows 95 multi- threading technique Multi-threading is a clever 32-bit way to make a computer do many dif-  ferent things at once, so you can play one aspect of the title while another loads. There is no waiting on game play.  (Utah sports an exciting new triple- window interface that lets you engage in three distinct activities at once. You can, for instance, spy through a  camera you’ve planted while explor- ing the abandoned mines of Baccos and consulting a map.”

Gameplay could have been quite interesting with these multitasking puzzles, and by reading previews it sounds like Sierra had at least a playable prototype in their hands. We hope one day someone could find a copy and share it online to be preserved by fans.

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Seeker (Headstrong Games) [Cancelled – PC, PS4, Xbox One]

Seeker is a cancelled top-down action RPG somehow similar to a sci-fi Diablo, that was in development in 2014 – 2015 for PC and unannounced consoles (possibly PS4 and Xbox One) by Headstrong Games. The project was officially announced in February 2015 on their blog, but the game soon vanished with no explanations.

“We’re very proud to announce our new game, Seeker. It’s an action RPG set in space with lots of tech, aliens, plasma weapons and, of course, loot! It’s been a manic few weeks getting it ready to show at GDC but we’re finally there and it feels good to be heading out to the show with something we really believe in. There’s a video and some screen shots here to give you an idea of the game-play and setting. We’ll be updating the blog regularly with more info as the development progresses.

Choose the Class that suits your style. Customise your character, Drone and Starship as you progress. Each mission draws you further into unknown star systems. Fight your way through crystal caverns, alien hives, ruined starships and robotic planets. Every destination is an opportunity to salvage alien artefacts, precious minerals and weaponry. Swept up in an epic saga, you will be called upon to occupy a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy.”

Headstrong were mostly known for their Art Academy series and Battalion Wars series published by Nintendo, but around 2017 Kuju Entertainment (their parent company) dissolved the team to incorporate their employees directly into Kuju.

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Demon Driver [PC – Cancelled]

Demon Driver is a cancelled point & click adventure / racing game hybrid that was in development for PC by french team Haiku Studios around 1996. During their short existence Haiku Studios released only two games, The Koshan Conspiracy in 1994 and Down in the Dumps (probably their most popular title) in 1996. All of their other projects such as Elric and The Island of Dr. Moreau were never completed, lost and forgotten when the studio closed down in 1997.

From the few Demon Driver screenshots shared online by Abandonware France we can assume it was going to be a funny adventure game similar to Down in the Dumps, but with some kind of racing gameplay added to it. While their only released games were welcomed with mixed reviews, it’s unfortunate they did not have another chance to complete another promising project.

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Orcs: Revenge of the Ancient [PC – Cancelled]

Orcs Revenge of the Ancient is a cancelled real-time strategy / action game that was in development by Berkeley Systems around 1998 / 1999, planned to be published for PC by Sierra Entertainment. It was going to use J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings / Middle-earth settings and gaming magazines and websites at the time were quite hyped for the project and was described by IGN as being “somewhere between Pokemon, Die by the Sword, and Master of Magic”.

As we can read from its original press release:

“Sierra Studios proudly announces Orcs Revenge of the Ancient, a fantasy strategy game developed by Berkeley Systems set in the world of Middle-earth from J.R.R Tolkien’s internationally acclaimed trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Cast as an Orc chieftain who has been assigned command of an elite group of fighting Orcs by Sauron, the Dark power, your group is charged with keeping the peace between the many evil factions of his army using whatever brutal means necessary. However, two other evil powers have emerged from the past to vie with Sauron for your aid in their respective quests and you must choose your alliances carefully to survive.

Orcs Select up to four common Orcs and transform them into brutal fighting machines, each with a unique fighting style created by you. Customize your Orcs’ fighting skills through intense training in which you build the best combination of killing moves suited to your Orc. Each Orc has its own specific personality and characteristics. For example, an Orc who is prone to violent outbursts may be difficult to train but ferocious in battle. Develop your Orcs’ Statistics such as intelligence, strength and dexterity in arena and field combat and sustain these skills with training exercises.

You will command your Orcs in real time 3-D combat, choosing their armor and weapons and suggesting fighting moves. Pit the Orcs under your command against over 30 enemies before taking them online to match skills with other Orcs in multiplayer mayhem.

As the original story of Orcs Revenge of the Ancient pulls you deeper into Tolkien’s Middle-earth, you will find yourself trapped in a deadly conflict of interests between the three dark powers. Your Orcs’ survival within this violent power struggle will determine whether they are capable of self-determination or merely servants of the Darkness.

Product Features

+ Original and rich storyline based in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth
+ Open-ended gameplay
+ Customizable training and fighting
+ RPG-based skill system
+ Combo builder to create custom moves
+ Multiplayer online component”

Unfortunately the game was canned in late 1999 due to an internal reorganization, as we can read on IGN:

“What we do care about is the fact that due to this reorganization, Sierra has cancelled four of their upcoming titles including Desert Fighters and Pro Pilot Paradise (for which we shed no tears), and, more seriously, Babylon 5 and Orcs: Revenge of the Ancients. Worse news still is that the company has laid off more than 100 people who were working on those titles.”

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Enemy in Sight [PC – Cancelled]

Enemy in Sight is the cancelled spiritual sequel to the Hidden and Dangerous series, in development around 2005 by Illusion Softworks and Pterodo (later merged and acquired by Take-Two Interactive in 2008, renamed as 2K Czech) and planned to be published by Atari for PC. It was conceived as a new multi and single player military shooter, set on 100-square km battlefield. The team wanted to offer interactive environments deformable by explosions, where players could drive military vehicles (tanks, airplanes):

“Centred around a great war between superpowers in the very near future, the game focuses on first person action set within vast battle landscapes. Massive online multiplayer capabilities enhance the sheer scale and dramatic impact of the fire fights and battles within the sprawling, realistic environments. Every building can be destroyed, the landscape is fully deformable, and players can command any of over 25 vehicles in the game, all based on their real-life counterparts and painstakingly designed to scale.”

Some details were shared in an interview by Gamespot with former Atari producer Peter Wyse:

GameSpot: Give us a brief overview of Enemy in Sight.

Peter Wyse: The cold war never died. It just went into a deep freeze until global events brought it to a full boil. You are a soldier in today’s army. You are called into action to fight a conventional war between Russian and American forces using today’s latest technology. You have all of the modern weapons of war at your disposal, from the latest machine guns to the laser-guided missile launchers, from modern tanks to state-of-the-art helicopters.

GS: Tell us about Enemy in Sight’s multiplayer. Will it emphasize team play over lone-wolf tactics?

PW: Modern warfare is about team play and team tactics. We could not build a credible multiplayer game using modern weaponry without building scenarios and battlefields that will rely heavily on team tactics. So there will be scenarios that force players to combine ground, air, and artillery support to strike a target. But we do recognize that going it alone has its own appeal, and for those players that want to test their limits against overwhelming odds, we have created Green Beret mode.

GS: Tell us about the actual gameplay. Could you disclose the modes at this point? Is the game going to be focused on head-to-head deathmatching or on goal-oriented gameplay?

PW: The single-player mode is very objective-oriented, as you’ll be defending or attacking key targets, engaging enemies, establishing new frontlines, and collecting intelligence, to name a few of the scenarios. But the multiplayer and quick-play modes support a number of different scenarios and allow you to tailor your gameplay experience to your own flavor and speed. For example, if all you want to do is drive tanks and run through buildings, there will be scenarios that are very tank-centric. We’ll announce the specific modes at a later date, but variety of gameplay is not an issue.”

Soon the project vanished and in May 2006 Atari sold the project to another publisher due to financial problems. In 2007 part of the Illusions Softworks team left the studio and most of the remaining developers had to focus their efforts on finishing Mafia II, finally released in 2010

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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