Others

Legions of Fear (La Toile du Diable) [Cancelled – PS2, PC]

La Toile du Diable (“Devil Canvas” in english) was a PC tech demo created by Delphine Software (DSI) in 2002 in order to show to publishers the technical and gameplay features of a planned PC / PS2 adventure game called Legions of Fear. According to ex-delphine employee Paul Cuisset, Sony was interested in the project, but they wanted Delphine to finish Moto Racer Traffic first (which, ironically, got cancelled too). Unfortunately, Delphine was already going bankrupt at the time, and consequently Legions of Fear was quietly dropped shortly after.

The game was supposed to be set during the first World War, with the main characters being a sister (Helena) and her brother. The story began when the heroine got lost and entered the mysterious Wildcastle Manor. Inside the mansion she discovered that the deceased Anton Wildcastle had apparently promised Helena’s soul to his “masters”.

As seen from the videos below, Legions of Fear was a mix between a survival horror and a point & click adventure: during the action sequences we directly controlled the protagonist and fought enemies in pre-rendered backgrounds. When indoors in order to find clues it was necessary to interact with the environments by using a mouse or – in in case of the Ps2 version – the controller buttons.

Thanks to Thierry Levastre, La Toile du Diable’s lead animator, for the contribution!

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TR2N: Liberation [Cancelled Pitch – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

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Tron: Evolution by Propaganda Games was the official tie-in game for the Tron: Legacy movie, but before Disney published this one for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2008 they asked to different studios to pitch a game for their TRON sequel. The film was still internally known with the WIP-title of TR2N and one of these prototypes was made by Day 1 Studios, a team mostly known for the MechAssault series. In the short pitch demos created by D1S in just a few weeks it was possible to play similar scenes to the ones seen in the first official Tron: Legacy trailer from Sandiego Comic Con 2008: a multiplayer racing track and a single player Identity Disc combat sequence (which had 2 playable versions, one of which was built around a rhythm mechanic). Unfortunately Disney wanted to have a fully complete game in less than a year, to be sure to release it as soon as the movie was out. In the end they greenlight the pitch by Propaganda Games and the TR2N prototype by Day 1 Studios was not developed further.

  

State of Crisis [Cancelled / Prototype – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

State of Crisis is a cancelled real time strategy first person shooter that was in development in 2010 / 2011 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC by french studio Darkworks. After Ubisoft took away I Am Alive from Darkworks in 2008 to make it finish to Ubisoft Shanghai, the team tried to create many different prototypes to pitch to publishers, to get another contract to survive. We can assume that at the time Darkworks tough that shooters were the most marketable genre to be greenlighted by publishers, so they conceived a few ones (State of Crisis, Black Dead, The Deep) with interesting / original features.

In State of Crisis players would have been able to switch to different teammates in real time, to use a satellite to get strategical information about the enemies and the area, to interact with electronic devices and to requests laser attacks from above. For example we could have been able to study the map of the building in which we would have entered to, checking if there were lights to deactivate to hide in the darkness, to mark enemies and see their position on the map, to place beacon to track an helicopter and destroying it with a powerful laser shoot from the satellite.

To use ammos, the satellite and to hack devices would have cost a certain sum of money from a limited budget for the mission and at the end of each level one could have seen how much the team spent to save the place from terrorists. As far as we can gain from the prototype demo, State of Crisis could have been divided in many different missions to complete as fast as possible and by spending as less money as possible, to gain an higher final score or to save funds to buy better equipment.

Unfortunately Darkworks were not able to find any publisher to fund State of Crisis and the game was quietly cancelled. In 2012 the company was placed into compulsory liquidation and then closed down. In about 15 years of activity, Darkworks were able to successfully complete and release only 2 games (Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare in 2001 and Cold Fear in 2005), while all their other projects were either cancelled or moved to other developers: a sad ending for one of the most interesting gaming studios in Europe.

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Gladiator 3000 (by Ion Storm) [Cancelled Pitch – PC]

Gladiator 3000 was a pitch from Ion Storm (the team behind such titles as Daikatana, Deus Ex and Anachronox) to Origin for a 3D man-to-man RPG combat simulator that would have been developed for the PC. Ion storm were looking for a budget of around $500,000 depending if an engine was already available for them to use. Ion Storm were awaiting concept approval so they could start development.

The game was going to use the ancient lore of Gladiatorial battles from ancient Rome and put them into the future on a very inhospitable planet in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy. There would only be one complex on this planet and it would be solely use for gladiatorial combat. Players would have taken the role of a warrior who had been enslaved by an alien race and the only way to win his freedom was to fight for it. This would have been against other gladiators, robots, animals and alien monsters.

The game was going to utilize a very popular RPG system where players would allocate points to their warriors in different stats that they would want to excel in, they would also have the option to pick a pre-generated warrior or randomize them. Many different alien races would have been available for the player to choose and each of these would have different strengths and weaknesses. The arena that the player would fight in would have different scenarios and landscapes and was described in the document as infinitely variable. There would have been water, fire, ice pits and mazes included, and the player would have to change tactics depending on the arena they were going to fight in.

The other main features that were to be included in the game were limbs that could be chopped off, dozens of weapons from primitive to advanced alien technology, numerous different combat manoeuvres, three levels of difficulty, head to head combat online. Graphically Ion Storm wanted to use bitmapped images over rendered 3D skeletons.

Described as the main risk for the game, was the actual 3D figure technology that would be used to animate the characters in the game. Ion Storm wanted to minimize the risk by utilising technology that Origin had already started developing, such as the corridor rendering technology form Bounty Hunter, Ion Storm thought that if they could not utilise the technology the risks would greatly increase in developing this game.

This game does not look like it was taken any further than the initial pitch and so there is not much more information that can be found on this game, if you do have any please feel free to contact us.

Many thanks to Joe Martin for the document.

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Shot (by Housemarque) [PC – Cancelled]

Shot is a cancelled first-person rail shooter developed by Housemarque (a team mostly known for Super Stardust, Outland, Dead Nation and Resogun) that was slated for release in 1999 for PC. While it run on other 3d accelerators too, the real-time polygonal engine (which used “photosurreal technology”, a term coined by the programmers themselves), was clearly optimized for Voodoo 2, the most powerful 3dfx card at the time.

The plot was quite original for a shooter: the player controlled the gunner of a UFO ship, which object was to help fellow aliens escape from Earth (or, in alternative, kill them before they got captured by humans), after a failed invasion.

Even if the basic gameplay was similar to other first-person rail shooters (the CPU pilot handled most of the flying, while the player used the mouse to control the sight), in Shot we also had the possibility of killing a distant enemy with the sniping mode, and, though it would quickly drain our life energy, to control time by slowing everything down except for the speed of our viewfinder. 

Morever, according to Jani Penttinen, project manager and senior programmer of Shot, sometimes we had to protect the pilot of the airship:

In critical missions, the pilot actually leaves the ship to pick up something from the ground, and the player is responsible for protecting him. If the pilot dies, life gets a whole lot harder, if the player manages to survive on his own for a while, a new pilot will be beamed down from the alien mother ship and he will be able to continue the mission.

Just like other examples of the genre, each stage had multiple paths to explore. But Shot was interesting in having a map from which it was possible to select all the levels from the beginning. However, the longer we waited to play a stage, the stronger and more smarter the enemies inside it became (the AI was specifically programmed to learn over time from players tactics).

Thankfully, other fellow aliens sometimes would have helped us, and the viewfinder cleverly pointed out the most dangerous enemies currently on screen. Apparently, most of the game’s stages were hit-and-run rescue missions. After successfully beating a level, our ship was given better weaponry.

Unfortunately, Shot ended up being cancelled because Housemarque wasn’t able to find a publisher for the game.

Sources:
Next Gen Magazine issue 40
Edge issue 56
Conversation with Jani Penttinen on twitter

Thanks to Maik Thiele  for the contribution!

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