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3rd World (MMORPG) [PC – Cancelled]

3rd World is a cancelled space simulator MMORPG that was in development between 1998 and 2002 by XYZ and and M.U.S.T. Corporation. You could create your own character and start living in this sci-fi virtual world, to survive against other players, trade with space travelers, own space stations or became a space-pirate.

It was quite the ambitious project for its time and for such a small team: you could somehow imagine it as the “Star Citizen” of the late ‘90s. The team promised a huge galaxy to freely explore, populated only by thousand of real players and no NPCs, nor quest or storyline. You could fly from planet to planet with your own spaceship, or land in one of the many space stations where to walk around on foot. The whole experience was based on your interaction with other players and the vast galaxy.

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As we can read from their old website:

“3rd World is a space massive multiplayer game system. Based on the legendary Elite concept of space trading and fighting, it extends that idea and adds two more elements to the space SF genre never seen before. Wondering through the space stations and unlimited upgrade possibilities in real-time.

3rd World is a game universe set in space for you to live in, explore, and rule. In many ways different from anything you’ve seen so far, 3rd world will give You the opportunity to live your own parallel life in space. Feel free to do what ever you imagine.

Be a pirate, be a trader, be a businessmen, or be a king. Own your own army, own your own empire, or just be the most famous person in the galaxy. We are presenting you a world where anything would be possible. World with no limits and no rules, but the ones you create. You will be the one who makes deals, the one who sells illegal goods, or the one who is hunting a famous criminal across many star systems. You will lie, steal or kill if it is necessary. Sometimes to save your own life, and sometimes just because it pays well.

There will be a lot for you to discover. Secrets that no one will know. Well covered conspiracies. And for some there will be a path to follow different from a normal space life. Temptations and courage, braveness and loyalty will be your guides on that sacred journey. Is the reword high enough to risk your life for?

Secret societies, secret weapons, powerful corporations, powerful people, the good side, the bad side. Conflicts are unavoidable. Be prepared for a whole new gaming experience!

In 2000 IGN had an interview with Vitomir Jevremovic, project manager for 3rd World, with many details about their vision for 3rd World:

IGNPC: What is the basic concept of the game?

Vitomir Jevremovic: Space massive multiplayer. It is not a game in any common sense; it is more of an on-line world of future. The players will be given liberty and freedom of choice they could not even dream of until now. There will be a preformed world with a set of highly liberal rules. Everything else is permitted. Quests and Clans will appear over time as a natural consequence of playing ¿ the players will start communicating and forming alliances on their own, all we will give them will be the tools to do it as quick and as easy as possible. Only their personal or professional needs will make them take up quests. If a player hears about an interesting object or person he can try to find it ¿ just like he would in real life.

IGNPC: Will there be any features present in most games, like a storyline, or any kind of an elaborate plot?

Vitomir Jevremovic: No. No linear or non-linear storylines. No predefined systems of Quests. We are creating a world and not a Quests&Hacks&Slashes engine. NO LIMITS.

IGNPC: So, what is going on in this world?

Vitomir Jevremovic: People live, trade, smuggle, buccaneer, communicate, lie and fight… anything you want.

IGNPC: How do you intend to contribute to the future of this world?

Vitomir Jevremovic: That is a big question and the essence of our story. We cannot be too specific about it because of the revolutionary technology we are currently developing. Let us just say that it should never grow outdated because it will keep expanding ¿ the players will have absolute liberty to upgrade anything at all, from pistols to battleships. We will also constantly introduce novelties so that there will always be something to do. Some of the most zealous players will be able to take part in very important and secret events of that world.

IGNPC: So there will be a special part of the game taking place on space stations?

Vitomir Jevremovic: Yes! The players will drive their ships about space and control their characters when in space stations. This is where most direct player communication will take place; where players meet face-to-face. I wouldn’t like to go into more detail about this but I guarantee you will be ecstatic.

IGNPC: Will players be able to own space stations?

Vitomir Jevremovic: Of course… the stations will be a criterion of power because they are the main business and trade centers. We intend to let actual players take over all the space stations in later stadiums of the game. Owning a station will mean dominance in that sector. And I do not have to tell you what happens when two large estate owners start fighting over trade lines for the neighboring sector.

IGNPC: Finally, how long have you been working on the project, what is its current stage of development and how long will it be before it invades the net?

Vitomir Jevremovic: We have spent the last year working actively on the project, and the concept had been developed two years before that. We are currently about half way through, but all the major work about the engine technology has already been done. We plan on having closed beta testing by the end of this summer, and as for any public testing, that will depend on the performance of the first beta.

More details can also by found in another interview published by Gamespot:

GameSpot: Can you tell us a little about the development team working on 3rd World?

Vitomir Jevremovic: XYZ is a game development studio currently working only on 3rd World. There are members of the team that have already done a few game projects, while some of our people are, for the first time, active in the game industry.

GS: What inspired the team to make a space-themed massively multiplayer RPG?

VJ: There are a couple of different reasons why we are doing an online space RPG. […]  the fact that there are no real MMORPG [games] yet. Yes, we have EQ, UO, and AC, but all these games are concentrated around NPCs, and player-vs.-player interaction is down to a minimum. There is also the fact that every new MMORPG in development is still following this basic design (although there are some attempts to allow more PVP conflicts).

We believe this is not a good thing for the next generation of MMORPG games, so we are going with one very different design approach. We will not have any NPCs in the game, we will not have any in-game quests, and we will allow almost unlimited possibilities for our players (that fit inside the gameworld, of course). This will allow players to completely organize their own way of living in the gameworld.

This is a big risk and a very different approach from anything seen so far in the MMORPG genre. We find this risky because human nature is very unpredictable, and this game will be based on human nature, so anything can happen. And this is the real reason why we are doing this game: Because we always wanted to play a game like this.

GS: The only time players actually get to control their player characters directly is when they’re in space stations, and 3rd World switches to an isometric perspective. What can players do while they’re in space stations?

VJ: Space stations are main centers for player-to-player direct interactions. Inside, you will be able to chat with other players, make business arrangements, rent a room, relax in a local bar, trade with the station or with other players. You can also buy or sell additional equipment for [your character] or for your ship.

We will later introduce even more possibilities for this in-station play and allow players many more gameplay options. Things like inserting an old-school arcade machine in a bar so players can compete for high scores. We also have plans for specific galactic pets. Then later we will make arenas for illegal (or legal) pet fights.

GS: How is death dealt with? Do players lose money, experience, or items?

VJ: Yes, players will lose everything that they have on them in the moment of death. Plus, they will lose experience points and possibly even some skill points.

There will be many different ways to die in 3rd World. The way you die determines how many experience and skill points you lose. Here are a few examples of different deaths: You die during a space fight you started; you die in a space fight you didn’t start; you die in a station fight; you die from a bomb placed in your room on a station while you were asleep; you die on a station, which was destroyed in the attack when you were not online at all.

These are just a few examples. Precise figures on this will be determined through the beta phase, as we don’t want to ruin the gameplay by taking from players more than they deserve. There will also be some insurance, so players can get some money for what they have lost.

VJ: Players will be able to carry all sorts of items. From small button-sized implants, equipment, or keycards to big two-handed weapons.

The inventory system will be very detailed and will have options for putting your items in different pockets or bags that your character has. This is very important because thieves will have to go for a specific pocket, and they can get only what is stored inside that specific pocket.

GS: How do skills like hacking come into play when players are on stations? Will they be able to hack into security systems to enter new areas in the station?

VJ: Yes. It looks like a big number of players will be interested in hacking skills. There will not be many hackers inside the 3rd World universe. Hacking skills will be one of the most hard-to-get [skills in the game]. As hackers are attacking many security systems and, in that way, are threatening the lives of many, many players inside a station, they are considered very dangerous. No station owner will be interested in having a hacker around his or her station, so being a hacker is not a pleasant thing at all but can have a lot of possibilities.

GS: Do planets factor into 3rd World’s gameplay at all?

VJ: Yes, they factor in a lot. Planets are the main suppliers and consumers of all the goods that are traded throughout the galaxy. Some specific materials will be produced only from raw materials from specific planets, much like the situation with “spice” in Dune. These planets will become centers of galactic conflicts, and owners of stations that surround that planet will have a lot of worries on their heads.

GS: When do you expect the game to be complete?

VJ: Somewhere in 2002. The precise date depends on a future publisher and the quantity of materials that should be included in the final release. Looking from our point of view, the game will be fully operational even with the basic set of modules, a few ships, and a couple of stations.

Even Eurogamer had a preview for the game in late 2000, then another article by AG.ru in 2001, but after that 3rd World vanished forever with no official statement. Their latest update on their website was posted in 2002, reading:

“It has been some time since our last update. Many fans and community members have been writing emails, asking what is happening with 3rd World and why we are short on news and releases on our official site.

As we have explained in our open letter to community, developing a game like 3rd World is a very hard task. We have been in a difficult situation for a long time, and we feel that community support in these tough moments was the greatest encouragement for all.

Because of this, we plan on writing a new design document which will explain in more details our problems and our progress. It will feature details on current state of 3rd World, and story about our main achievements in last couple of months.”

What happened to the project? We can assume an open ended MMORPG was too ambitious for their small team, and were not able to convince a publisher to fund their idea. The XYZ studio collapsed and the game forgotten by everyone.

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Adellion (MMORPG) [PC – Cancelled]

Adellion was a medieval MMORPG set in a world of the same name, in development by HonourBound, a British company. Development started with a full team in 2000 and ended in 2010. The first engine used for Adellion was a custom engine designed by the team but later they switched to Torque 3d by Garage Games.

The team consisted of a group of approximately 12 writers as well as artists, programmers and a project manager: all of them were working for a share of the profit when the game would release. Lore was important for the game and it was the main framework for the stories created by players. Role-play was central for the online community and in-game mechanics were created to support role play. Players could choose from six factions as well as a neutral multicultural city, Caeril.

These factions were: Aethans, Dalmites, Drulons, Sakoians, Salanians and Tarians. All of these factions were humans and there were no fantasy races appearing in the game. Each group had its own traditions and history, along with specific strengths and weakness. For example, a desert dwelling Sakoian would be more comfortable in hot dry climate than in wet swampy climate of the Drulons. These traits would affect players stamina and other stats. Food and drink also influenced characters’ stamina.

In the world’s lore these different cultures were either allies or enemies. The main story began during a major conflict when people took sides. The actions of players could change the outcome of the war: skirmishes could be fought, supply lines could be attacked, and even realms’ borders could change. Players could only choose one character per server to avoid using a second characters to pass sensitive information between factions of the same server.

In an early interview, Adellion was described by a developer:

“Adellion is a very different world to the current crop of massively multiplayer online games out there. We’ve tried to make the world as realistic as possible; we want players to feel like the world they are in could exist in real life. Our main focus is to get the players involved in the world, to make them feel like they are making a difference. To that end, the whole of Adellion can change through player actions – they can take over towns, wipe out cultures and make peace with one another if that is what they wish to do.”

The game evolved as time went by becoming more and more focused on role play and less on strategy. However, PvP was an important part of the game. Perma-death is another feature which was planned to be implemented in the game, to made players think wisely about their actions.

Gameplay mechanics included a skill-based system with no levels. Players could choose many different skill to shape up their character and a daily skill-capping system limited players from spending all their time grinding. Players housing was planned to be included into the final game, as well as the ability to hire NPCs for specific tasks, including let them work as shopkeepers and as troops in combat. Well feed NPCs would work harder than those who were neglected.

Developers gave away beta keys to about 1000 players early during development, but time frame was underestimated and Adellion never reached its beta stage. At the peak of development, there were about 18.000 forum members in 2010, with at least a third of them being very active. After the game cancellation in 2010, forums remained online for a couple of years before they were taken down. This allowed the community to come to terms with the cancellation and continue their relationships for a bit longer.

Adellion was to be published by Alchemic Dream, a Canadian company. A change of management occurred a few years into development when the original creators left the project and it was picked up by the remaining developers. They worked on the game for a number of years. Unfortunately engine issues, overwhelming ambitions and loss of funds killed the game.

Article by Vipaah, thanks to Laura “Teila” Wampfler for the contribution

 

Team Buddies 2 [PC – Cancelled]

Team Buddies was an interesting merge of top-down shooting and real time strategy elements, developed for the original Playstation by Psygnosis Camden Studio (later SIE London Studio) and published in 2000 by Sony Computer Entertainment in Europe and Midway Games in North America.

As we can read on Wikipedia, its gameplay was quite fun and original for its time:

“The game is a mix of Wormshumour and a typical real-time strategy game. Central to the game’s theme is the ability of a team of buddies to stack crates in a 2×2×2 pad located in their starting area. Stacking the crates in different ways make different items when the resulting larger crate is broken; for example, a single crate on a stacking pad produces a light weapon, four crates positioned horizontally makes a heavy weapon, and filling the pad creates a vehicle.”

This was the last game released under their Psygnosis name, before they were completely absorbed by SCEE. The same team was working on a new version of Team Buddies for PC, that was internally treated as a sequel because of how much more freedom they had when not constrained to the PS1 limitations.

Unfortunately Sony did not want to invest money into the PC market and all Psygnosis games in development at the time for Computers were either cancelled, moved to PlayStation consoles, or licensed to different publishers. This “Team Buddies 2” was then canned and the team was moved to other projects, such as Dropship: United Peace Force and World Tour Soccer 2003 for PlayStation 2.

A few years ago a small indie team started working on a fan-remake of Team Buddies and a former Psygnosis Camden developer got in contact with them, sharing a video of this lost sequel. You can watch the footage below:

Thanks to Matthew for the contribution!

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Cleric (Plutonium Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Cleric is a cancelled game that was in development for PC by Texas based studio Plutonium Games, and from what we have found, this could have been a quite unique and interesting project. It was a First Person Survival Horror (game) mixed with puzzle elements, action and role playing.

There were plans to release it around the month of December in 2003 but that didn’t happen. On April 14 in 2004  it was announced it was put on indefinite hiatus or cancelled altogether according to a post on the main website of Plutonium Games. There were hints that they had difficulties finding a publisher for their game:

“After a long trip, it looks as if Cleric may not be made for a long time to come, if ever. I want to thank everyone that has supported us over the years. This site will remain up as will the forums. I have recently (3 months ago) taken a job with another studio (Destineer Studios) as a 3D Artist on their tactical shooter project “Close Combat – Marines: First to Fight“. Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road, I’ll get the opportunity to start Plutonium Games back up again. Until then, I’ll be building up my portfolio & experience with Destineer. Thanks again for all the great support!”

The website isn’t up anymore, and no more information can be found about Plutonium Games anywhere on the internet, so we assume the company no longer exists.

As for more information pertaining to how the game would have turned out, here’s a brief story and design summary. Cleric’s story is set in 16th century Russia and the dead are walking again. Women are disappearing and it is up to Reverend Father Aronos Schuler (the main character of the game) to investigate this mystery and to put an end to the plight of the undead. What was interesting is regardless of his position, he was meant to be a character of little faith and the story would have developed around the mystery of the undead of course but also of the Reverend’s internal struggles. Multiple path scenarios were considered with multiple endings as well depending on the player’s actions throughout the game.

Players would have had 2 different holy symbols to use for their main weapons. These would have given a series of different abilities like flying, sensing danger, re-animating the dead, healing and summoning, to list a few. Some traditional weapons like swords, maces and old muskets would have also been weapons the Reverend could find during his travels. Fore more story and gameplay details, you can check an old Gamespot preview and their image gallery.

Judging from the video, you can tell the focus wasn’t exactly just about shooting since the musket would need reloading after every shot. You have a symbol that repels the undead used like a holy cross and if held long enough, they start to catch fire. It seems the mission was to escort a woman to a shelter whilst protecting her from the undead. Later in the video the reverend approaches a statue and acquires a miracle power that lets him summon lightning to strike the undead!

Lastly, for the last bit of information we have for Cleric, there’s a very interesting interview with CEO/Lead Designer Matthew Doyle of Plutonium Games.

If Cleric had not been cancelled, we believe it could have been remembered as quite the cult classic of its time.

Article by Alex Bérubé

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Contra Online [PS2, Xbox, PC – Cancelled]

After the cancellation of Castlevania: Resurrection and the death of the Dreamcast, the same team at Konami of America pitched a few other projects for different consoles. One of these unrealized games was a new 3D Contra with online multiplayer, planned to be developed for PS2, Xbox and PC.

They wanted to have classic single player and local coop story mode for old-school fans of the series, but at the same time testing online multiplayer for the first time.

Some details about this lost Contra game were found by fans, and preserved below to remember the existence of this cancelled concept.

“Contra’s HQ have intercepted SOS from the biggest Russian nuclear submarine that is sinking to the bottom of Barents Sea. While Contra’s HQ continues monitoring the unsuccessful rescue attempts, suddenly the submarine crews stop responding to the Russian Northern Fleet hails. Meanwhile, Contra’s spy satellite registers the beginning of nuclear missiles launch form the sub, and transmission to Russian Navy operations that Red Falcon is demanding to stop the rescue attempt otherwise there are will be a missile strike retaliation. After analyzing the spy satellite data, Contra intelligence realizes that Red Falcon is preparing its third attempt to conquer Earth by using Russian submarine as its base to assemble and power it’s robotic war machines in the safety of deep sea.

Members of Contra Forces are called in and ordered to stop the Red Falcon, and were successful in defeating evil alien entity and its forces. Or, at least they thought so. The “Red Falcon” had actually been merely wounded. It escapes the submarine blast to a secret retreat located in the mountains of Bosnia. Were alien forces lie dormant aviating for decoy Barents Sea invasion to begin, so they can start a real attack of the Earth forces? The Contra intelligence is learning that Red Falcon is not the brains behind an operation but just a pawn controlled by a mysteries alien only know as “Dark Queen”. Contra marines are called again for the final showdown.”

Story mode would have been divided into 3 worlds (Submarine, Mountain Trail and Underground Base): each one with several levels and Bosses. Past Contra protagonists could have been unlocked during the game, to be used as playable characters.

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The team planned many different modes for online multiplayer. An idea was to have online coop up to 4 players, split in 2 teams that would fight through different missions before meeting again to kill the boss together. Online Versus mode was also planned, set in a virtual-reality world similar to VR missions in Metal Gear Solid. This could have been a third person or first person shooter, depending on the best prototype they could work on.

As this was only an early pitch they were still thinking about the best Konami IP to use for their first online game. If Contra could have been a risky series (because of its hardcore fans), other possibilities were open such as using the Project Overkill IP instead.

In the end disagreements between Konami of Japan and Konami America killed the american team. Many of their latest games were canned, such as Survivor: Day One for Nintendo 64