Unfortunately D4 was meant to be divided into different “seasons” (with a few episodes each), as a TV series. Only the first two episodes (Season 1) were ever released, while D4: Season 2 was sadly cancelled when Swery65 had to take a break from Access Gamesin November 2015 to recover from a serious illness and then definitely left the company for internal reasons in October 2016.
We should also consider that D4 did not sold much on Xbox One (and neither on PC) and that’s probably the major reason why Season 2 / Episode 3 was canned. For sure Access Games and Microsoft would have developed other episodes without Swery if the first one would have been a huge success.
Season 1 of D4 is still an original – short – game full of strange characters and it’s worth playing if you love weird games, but it ends with a huge cliffhanger that will probably never be resolved. Swery and Access Games had a few months to work on the sequel, but unfortunately we don’t know how much was ever done on it. Only a single scene of D4: Season 2 was ever shown, thanks to an interview with Swery by Gamasutra:
“D4 sells well on PC, can we expect future episodes?
Swery: It’ll be a little longer until I can start talking about new episodes, but I’m doing my best. The next season will be even better than you’re all expecting, so please keep cheering me on.
…You can’t accept that answer?
Okay, then. Just this once, just for you, I’ll show you a single picture.”
Horror films directorJoerg Buttgereit, who worked on such movies as Nekromantik and Schramm, was the one who created Game of Death’s concept and characters, a psychological horror game with an original gameplay mechanic.
The game’s protagonist is a young man sent to a hospital after a lethal car accident. While doctors try to save him, he dreams of a strange world in which you have to defeat evil serial killers to survive. Each homicidal maniac must be killed by their own method – choked, cut to pieces with a chainsaw, shot with a shotgun, crucified and so on.
You had to obtain the right weapons able to kill each boss by taking them from the less powerful monsters found in each level. It was necessary to learn and exploit the bosses weaknesses to survive, otherwise it would have been impossible to beat them. Players would have been able to read through the case files for those serial killers, to find clues about their modus operandi and weakness.
At the same time players should try to not became a murderer themselves, by killing bosses only during special circumstances, for example for self-defense, through the release of their kidnapped victims and so on. This would permit to eliminate the serial killers without losing your “innocence”, otherwise you could also lose your life at the end of the game.
More than 40 maniac bosses were planned for the game, each on with their own level accessible from a HUB zone, a giant bone cathedral.
Thanks to an interview with Burns Entertainment by Golem.de (in german, translated with Google Translate) we can learn some more details about this lost game:
Golem.de: How did the cooperation between BURNS and Jörg Buttgereit come about?
Winkler: I thought you’d have to do a horror game, in which you would like to go to bed after a gamble, but not in the basement. But this is hardly feasible as a pure game developer. Since you have all sorts of experiences, but none in terms of horror dramaturgy, effects and suspense. That’s why I contacted Jörg, who in Germany is something like the grandmaster of the horror and trash movie. I knew his necromancy films and the reviews he published in the Berlin press about movies. He has a wonderfully laconic writing style, I immediately liked that. Jörg found the idea exciting to play a game and immediately pledged.
Golem.de: Where do you see the most serious differences between Game Of Death and current action titles?
Winkler: Most action games are in fictitious worlds. The player fights against fantasy monsters or anonymous mercenaries. In Game Of Death, however, the player encounters negative characters in contemporary history who are firmly rooted in the memory of their nations. Many Germans know Fritz Haarmann, and many Americans know who Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer is. Dealing with the abysses of the human psyche is exciting for most people, whether they admit it publicly or prefer to watch “The Silence of the Lambs” at home alone, and we are openly dealing with that. Another difference is the awareness of physical decay. The hero is not a superman. If he is injured, the player can actually see the consequences of this injury. The hero loses physical substance with each injury until he becomes disabled as a skeleton. Of course, he can regenerate his energy and his physical substance during the game in various ways.
Golem.de: Do you think that Game of Death is at risk of being indexed?
Winkler: No. The game definitely will not be a splatter orgy and will not provide any instructions to finally get rid of your unloved neighbor, who has always annoyed you. It may of course be that someone alone calls for the keyword “serial killer” after indexing. This happened only recently before the cinema start of “Hannibal”, and that will happen again and again. But we aim for a USK release from 16 years. This is far from an indexing game.
Golem.de: Where do you set the limits with regard to the biographies of serial killers? What will you learn about the characters in the game, what will you be able to re-enact?
Winkler: In the game every mass murderer and serial killer dies according to the method with which he has killed his victims. As a result, the player becomes a hero and avenger on behalf of the defenseless victims. In order to fulfill this role, the player learns the most important information about the killer’s deeds and psyche in a “Serial Killers Dictionary” (SDK), which is constantly available as an inventory component. Not every detail of the life of mentally disturbed child molesters is spread in it. The SDK limits itself to key data relevant to the game.
The historically accurate course of the murders is not reconstructed in the game. This is not necessary for the gameplay. I also do not think anyone is really interested in slicing up the guts of a highly pregnant woman like the Manson gang did with Sharon Tate. That’s where we set very clear limits.
As far as we know, Burns Games were not able to find a publisher for Game of Death, maybe because of its settings. In the end the game was cancelled and the company vanished forever after a few years. Game of Death’s soundtrack would have been composed by Rod Army.
Ruff‘n‘Tumble is an action / platform game developed by Wunderkind and published by Renegade in 1994 for Commodore Amiga. In the game you play asRuff Rodgers – a kid with big multi-type ammo gun who was transported to another strange world ruled by evil robots. Ruff ‘n’ Tumble was made by a joint-venture team of just three people who wanted to create the perfect action game for Amiga: Robin Levy (graphic, System 3), Jason Page (music, Graftgold, Sensible), Jason Perkins (code, Vivid Image, Renegade, Virgin, Gremlin). After the release of Ruff ‘n’ Tumble Wunderkind never released any other game. Thanks to Grzegorz we can learn more about the beta differences from the early versions of the project.
Ruff ‘n’ Tumble development started in 1993: the first preview was published in “CU Amiga” magazine in August 1993. At the time the game was titled “Rough ‘n‘ Tumble“, but maybe it was just a print error.
In this screenshot we can see a possible beta of World 2 mine/cave theme with lava. It could have been just a mock-up, in the final game there is no mine cart tracks, no carts with robots and the protagonist does not have that standing idle sprite.
The next preview is from “Amiga Format” magazine, December 1993.
Now game has its final name “Ruff‘n‘Tumble“, level titles are the same as in the final version and that jump sprite is still in the game. There is a first beta HUD.
Interesting beta stuff can also be found in “Amiga CD32 Gamer” magazine from June 1994:
Project Overdrive is a cancelled first person open world game that was in development since 1999 by Russian studio Vistage, to be published by Buka Entertainment in late 2000 / early 2001, many months before the release of GTA 3. Overdrive was an ambitious project, with many features that are still missing from today’s open world games, such as explorable buildings with no loading times and destructible environments, vehicles and gibs.
By looking at the screenshots and video below you can notice how Project Overdrive looked great for its time, with a big city to freely explore while hijacking cars, completing missions and trying to not being arrested or killed by cops. If only finished and released before GTA 3, Overdrive could have been a huge influence for the new generation of 3D open world games and Vistage could have became the Rockstar of Russian video games.
“Behind the bright, clean surface of a modern city lurk the masterminds of crime, the ones they never catch. You are not yet one of them, though. Here you are, at the federal prison’s gates, a crumpled $20 bill in your pocket and a whole new life to build.
You’re smart, hi-tech and deadly: will you spend your days being an honest worker? Think again. There are enough high-paying jobs, and, with your underworld connections, it’s time to start climbing the crime ladder again, but remember: your reputation will always precede you.
Starting small is a wise choice: it should be easy to become a courier for the local mob. There are a whole lot of opportunities if you don’t mind getting your hands a little bloody or occasionally washing them in water that’s too hot for comfort. Become a bodyguard – or a hit man. Take orders from no one except the Boss – or work only for yourself. Save up and buy a car – or just steal one (remembering to watch out for the police – or just shoot them, if you think that’ll be easier).
Uniquely, PROJECT OVERDRIVE combines the best elements of shooters and driving games in a way that will appeal to anyone who likes movie car-chases and shoot outs, as well as hard-core gamers. It promises to release the first person shooter from the dungeon, bringing portal technology and high quality gameplay into the open where they can be appreciated properly.
This is a new kind of game that redefines the meaning of the words immersive world. Imagine a giant metropolis, several hours across, with streets full of cars and people going about their business, legal or otherwise, hundreds of buildings looming over your head and complete freedom to live your life as you see fit. Make your choices and face the consequences.
Unique 3D-engine with portal technology allows consistent frame rates while walking or driving in the streets, or inside complex buildings; no loading screens and therefore no pauses entering or exiting buildings. Intelligent reflections and shadows.
For the first time ever, real life physics and damage. Everything obeys the laws of physics with unparalleled accuracy, and this means that, just like in the real world, everything can be destroyed: cars can be twisted out of shape, windshields broken, doors torn off; humans can be maimed or reduced to a pile of body parts, furniture can be broken to pieces or burned.
Sophisticated artificial intelligence: all characters have sophisticated and realistic behavior models. Cars and pedestrians obey traffic lights and signs, intelligently following the best route to get to their destination and doing their best to avoid collisions.
Enormous city with distinct districts, for example Chinatown. Uniquely, you can enter any building in the game. The final level takes place on a separate island. Day and night cycle. Complete freedom of action; there are many different ways of finishing the game.”
“You start at the bottom of a crime syndicate’s ladder and work your way upwards, hopefully right to the top. You can steal cars, kill for hire, intimidate the opposition, in the process earning money for buying weapons, equipment, cars and even fancy apartments.
Players are trying to increase their wealth and status in the criminal world by successfully completing a variety of missions. The gameplay is non-linear, however, so there is no single way of completing the game. In addition, most of the missions in the game aren’t pre-scripted, but automatically generated by the AI, and these two features should ensure great replayability. There will also be the option of selecting and playing any mission, with a free choice of weapons, out of context as an independent unit.
Most importantly, the high quality of the game’s engine, graphics and AI. The city already looks breathtaking (see screenshots), and, for the first time ever, it will be possible to enter absolutely any building in the whole city and interact with its contents, whether they are people or (smashable) furniture or whatever.
Secondly, the game’s uniquely realistic physical model should put it head and shoulders above the rest. Objects are not just a series of polygons, but real entities, which interact and deform just as they do in the real world. For example, if a grenade lands near a tree, the tree will catch fire; later, the tree might fall on top of a car and squash it. This real world complexity is unprecedented (although a few sacrifices have been made in the name of more exciting gameplay).”
“It was not easy to us to make this decision, as a great effort had been put forth to the development of the game. The originality of the design had attracted attention of many gamers both inside and outside Russia. Quite a few people had expected the game to be released at the beginning of 2001, hoping it to become a hit. But, when the game went alpha, it became clear to us, that the final version would not meet our and our users’ expectations. And as we would not like to disappoint our users, we made the decision to put the project on hold.”
Thanks to a Russian gaming journalist a playable prototype of the game was saved and preserved online, you can download it from mirrors at 3D Shooter Legends and The Iso Zone. As wrote by Talonbrave, in this prototype you can find many of the promised features that would have been expanded if only the game would have been completed:
“The game is actually quite complex; supposedly it’s playable from the first mission to the end, vehicles have per-vertex deformation, a lot of elements within the environment are destructible, characters use inverse kinematics for some interesting results, cars have a limited amount of petrol and need to be filled up, there’s a trading system in the game, you can customize your character, there’s supposedly support for multiplayer, shadow mapping, a completely dynamic lighting system that supported day and night cycles, it appears there were also multiple locations such as an island, there are no loading screens as the game attempts to stream in content during gameplay and seems to feature fairly complex AI for the time.“
Desolate World is a cancelled side-scrolling action game that was in development since late ‘90s by a small Czech independent team (Magic Birds?), to be published by Vulcan Software. The game was initially planned to be published on Amiga computers, it was previewed in Polish “Amiga Magazyn” in 1997 (issue 12) and 1998 (issue 10), and also in some old websites:
“The game is a platformer similar to the all-time great, Gods. However, As well as being all about killing nasties, the game will also have a heavy puzzle element. It is also planned for it to contain certain missions that you have to complete.
Having played an early demo of the game I am quite impressed. Although the main character seemed to move a little showly (this may have been changed), the GFX were very nice and main basis of a good game seemed to be there.
The game will require any Amiga with an 68020, 2Mb Chip RAM and 4Mb Fast RAM. A 4x speed CD-ROM will also be required.”
In September 2017 user “Solaris104” from the “English Amiga Board” found a demo from the Amiga version:
“Demo version Desolate World is public in czech magazine Amiga Review 28 on coverdisk. Authors are brothers Cizek. Vladimir Cizek is coder, Pavel Cizek is graphician and Petr Klimunda is musician. The game should be published by Vulcan. All levels done, but never published and lost on Amiga harddisk. I played some levels in 1997. ExiE made rendered intro for this game.”
This demo has just one playable – but very large – level. Gameplay is indeed very similar to Bitmap Brothers’ Gods: you search for switches, keys, sometimes you have to use terminals, operate lifts or small robots that can act like a lift. From time to time you fight mini-bosses and solve puzzles. A full walkthrough of the Amiga demo can be found on YouTube:
After some time the Amiga version of Desolate World was cancelled and the team tried to port it to the Game Boy Advance, at the time the major console where 2D “retro” games could still be sold with success. A video from an early prototype of the GBA version was uploaded on Youtube in May 2013 and we can notice how the graphic was way less impressive than the original Amiga version, but still nice for a portable console.
Unfortunately even the GBA version of Desolate World was never released and no demo from this version is leaked yet. It remains one of the most obscure GBA games we’ll never play.