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Elveon [Xbox 360, PS3, PC – Cancelled]

Elveon is a cancelled action adventure, originally planned to be released for Xbox 360 and PC. The game was conceived in 2003 by 10Tacle studios in Bratislava (Slovakia) until their parent company (10Tacle group) had to close down for financial problems in 2008. The project was then acquired by Climax Group and development focused on console (Xbox 360 and PS3), but unfortunately even Climax fell into financial problems and Elveon was canned again.

As we can read on Elveon’s official website (now closed)

“The history of the Elveon project dates back into 2003 when a small team started working on an idea of a fantasy world and game that would bring to life a new perspective – a story set in the  “early days” of a fantasy world – a time when the Elves were not yet the old, declining population, guarding the ancient ways, but still a young, emerging race, struggling to take their place in a world dominated by Gods and divine powers. During 2004 to 2007, the project grew and the team expanded up to a peak size of over 70 developers and – utilizing architects, painters and sculptors, managed to give the idea a stunning visual facade that – at its time – represented a benchmark in fantasy design and real-time graphical quality. In 2008, after a series of complications and before a serious attempt for a release could be made, the project had to be abandoned and the team has gradually dissolved. A long period of slumber resulted, with the Rights and Assets being held by different entities. The idea however, did not die with the original project…”

The original concept of Elveon by 10Tacle Studios Bratislava was for a somewhat linear action game with RPG elements, focused on story and complex combat mechanics. The team also planned an online multiplayer mode to let players fight against each other, something that reminds me of Ubisoft’s For Honor or the Versus multiplayer of Dark Souls. For sure Elveon was quite ambitious for its time. As we can read in an old preview by IGN:

“The action takes place in the third person and is centered on deliberate combat. We say deliberate because button mashing won’t get you anywhere. Controlled, precise actions will win the battles against your foes. […] Different moves and combos are conducted through a grouping of directional motions and button presses. Blocking must be done at the right moment to successfully deflect oncoming attacks.”

“All of the attack actions were motion captured using real weapons and it shows in the way spears are swung. They look like they actually have a weight to them. The weapons will also interact realistically with the environment. Blades will glance off of walls and other obstacles directly and it really looks like they’re colliding into something instead of bouncing off in the general vicinity of where it should hit. “

“Nothing is set in stone yet, but there may be some differences between the Xbox 360 and PC versions when they hit retail. After looking at some sales data, the developers are toying with the idea of including more RPG elements in the PC version and keeping the 360 build as a more streamlined action title. […] That’s because both the PC and 360 versions will have an online tournament mode where players can take their character from the game online to fight others one-on-one. “

When Climax acquired the game they changed its structure into something more similar to Zelda, with a main hub to freely explore to reach different dungeons. Probably Elveon’s multiplayer was cut at that time. Not much was ever shown from Climax’s version of the game, but from the few screenshots available (that you can see in the gallery below) it looked a lot like a mix between Dark Souls and Zelda.

After Elveon was cancelled again by Climax, in 2015 former members of 10Tacle studios Bratislava were able to re-acquire trademark, licenses and assets for their old game, to develop it again into something more similar to their original concept.

“Our main goal is to produce quality action RPG game, using newest technologies (UE4) and finish the Elveon dream, which was started 12 years ago with a small group of adventurous developers. Our focus is to use Elveon (book of elves) trademark and Elveon world with its specifics, to bring player whole new fantasy experience. We are taking the best from original game (duel fights, story, specific art style), we are polishing and tweaking it to the highest possible level, adding new features, graphics, using best actual technology available. We hope, to keep the Elveon trademark and world alive and bring the best game experience to players possible.”

Unfortunately this third version of the game seems dead too, with no updates since many years ago and with their official website that doesn’t work anymore.

Images (10Tacle Studios version):

Images (Climax version):

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Heartland (Homeland) [PSP – Cancelled]

Heartland (originally titled “Homeland” in its early stage) is a cancelled FPS in development by Incognito Entertainment / SCEA, planned to be released on the PSP. The project was conceived by David Jaffe as a mature shooter focused on making players thinking about their decisions and the consequences of war, with political themes related to George W. Bush’s administration and their “war on terror”.

Jaffe wanted to arouse players’ emotional reactions with a strong setting and series of dramatic events, which would have been directly affected by their choices during the game. A couple of examples of these difficult / morally ambiguous decisions would be to “blow up a bridge, stranding the townspeople, but preventing the ground assault” and “obey or disobey the order to douse an innocent family and their house with gasoline, and set them on fire”.

Heartland was meant to be a metaphor of the real US invasion of Iraq in 2003, with North American being the invaded country by a foreign army. The game was to be set in “heartland” of the US in an alternate history in which China invaded America. The main protagonist was a soldier debating whether to stay in the army and fight for America or go AWOL to find his family.  As revealed by Jaffe in a few articles on 1UP and Escapist:

“On one hand, it was supposed to be emotional, we wanted players who are sensitive types like myself – that cry at Hallmark commercials – we were hoping that those types would actually cry, and that other players would still feel something that came close to an emotional response.”

“We were trying to put in a lot of gameplay that would evoke emotion. You had sequences where you’d go into homes and your commanding officer would tell you to shoot innocent Chinese-Americans. It was very dark and was meant to cause players to consider what it’s like to live in America and be an American today.”

“It wasn’t supposed to make you hate the Bush Administration so much as, as a layperson political junkie, it was supposed to put into light – using games as a medium – all the things I didn’t like about the Bush Administration.”

The team planned to use many different and original ways to unfold Heartland’s story and its themes, for example by letting players to find a tape they could watch: initially one would see the execution of a Chinese soldier, but by rewinding the tape you could discover older footage with the soldier’s family during a vacation at Disneyland.

The Incognito team was full of talented developers and after their experience on the PSP with Twisted Metal: Head-On they were planning on making a full 1st person shooter experience to “create the definitive shooter for the PlayStation Portable.”

You can imagine Heartland’s gameplay as an open ended FPS, with several objectives in each area and many different ways to resolve them. It was meant to be more similar to a “Deus Ex” set in a contemporary american settings than another “Call of Duty” or “Battlefield”. As said by Jaffe “I was really excited about creating this almost homage to Deus Ex.”

Unfortunately Heartland would never seen the light of day: the team worked on the project for about 6 or 8 months, creating concept art, 3D models and an early engine running on the PSP, before most of them were moved to the Warhawk team to help finishing the game. As more and more people left the Heartland team, they thought to cut some parts (such as the planned multiplayer mode), but in the end with less than 10 people available it was clear they did not have enough resources to fulfill their original concept. For Sony Warhawk was a much more important project to complete and it had the priority over an ambitious PSP game.

With such a small team David Jaffe and Scott Campbell left Heartland behind and decided to start a most suitable project, which later became “Calling all Cars“, released for Playstation Store in May 2007. In mid 2007 Incognito was splitting to create two new studios: Eat Sleep Play lead by Scott Campbell and David Jaffe – which later created Twisted Metal (2012) – and Lightbox Interactive lead by Dylan Jobe – which later created Starhawk (2012).

Unfortunately we still did not save any image from Heartland (the ones you see in this article are from random videos related to the chinese army), we got in contact with a few former developers who worked on the game but they did not have any screenshot or concept art anymore. If you know someone else who worked on this lost game, please let us know

Avenida dos Aliados [Demo / Cancelled – PS2, PC, Xbox]

Avenida Dos Aliados (named after a famous avenue in Portugal) is a small demo developed by Portuguese team Gamelords (later renamed Seed Studios), created as a pitch to potential investors for the development of a full open-world adventure game in the style of Grand Theft Auto, using the UEFA Euro 2004 football competition license.

Since Gamelords formed in 2000 they always tried to impress publishers with their tech demos (Survivors, Room), to show off their skills and have a chance to develop their first, full game. Thanks to their efforts and great demos, in 2002 they managed to schedule three business meetings with different publishers, although only one of them (with Linha de Terra Studios) was successful.

As in 2004 the UEFA Euro 2004 football competition was to be held in Portugal, Linha de Terra Studios commissioned them this Avenida Dos Aliados demo to show it to different investors, trying to secure the Euro 2004 license with something more original than a classic football / soccer game.

Thanks to Linha de Terra Studios’ investment Gamelords worked on the demo for three months, improving their 3D engine, adding better animations, physics for vehicles and a new lighting system, among others details.

As the final version of this demo they had a faithful reproduction of Avenida dos Aliados (in Oporto, Portugal) in 3D, and just like in GTA it was possible to explore the avenue, get inside a car and drive around. This demo was quite good for its time, with several details adding to the realism such as pigeons that flew away when player passed by.

Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) the Euro 2004 license was later bought by Electronic Arts to create one of their football / soccer games and as such, without the investment needed to keep on the development of a full game, the team had to cancel this project.

After the Avenida Dos Aliados demo Gamelords started working on “Holy War”, another lost game which story has already been told in this website. Below you can see some screenshots from the Avenida Dos Aliados demo, kindly provided by one of the developers, Filipe Pina.

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Ride to Hell: Retribution [Beta – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ride to Hell: Retribution is a low-rated action game developed by Eutechnyx and Deep Silver Vienna, released in 2013 for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC: the game is a linear, buggy, and occasionally tasteless mess. When it was originally announced in late 2008 as Ride to Hell it was meant to be an true open world adventure taking place in 1960’s California, with influences coming from Biker films. The game was planned to be published in 2009 and formally shown off as the cover story for the January 2009 issue of Play magazine.

As we can read in the first press release:

“Action loaded from the very start with free roaming environments, players can immerse themselves in the liberty and freedom of riding full throttle with their gang on a multitude of different vehicles through the dusty flats of Western America. Protecting their turf, their brothers and their machines from rival gangs is just a taste of what this epic game will involve.

‘Ride to Hell’ is not for the faint hearted; it’s aimed heavily at the player who wants to become fully involved in the original West Coast biker culture. With its hard drinking, bare knuckle environment, this is as close to the action as you can get.

In a movie style production model, the internal Deep Silver studio is teaming up with leading creative companies such as Eutechnyx, Perspective Studios, and others, to bring the authentic and massive game world of ‘Ride to Hell’ to life.”

The keyword to describe the original “beta” game was “free”: freedom to explore the world as you please with your bike. The team’s goals were to create a vast experience, a sandbox world with incredibly high details. Your motorcycle was just as important: it would be used to move around the map, earn respect from other NPC bikers and to show your power. You could have been able to customize your own motorcycle to recreate nearly anyone you’d find in real life.

You would take control of a man named Ray, a Vietnam War veteran returning home to find his world changed. He would soon join a Biker Gang named Devil’s Hand: this would start the game’s adventure, with the mission to earn respect for the gang, to make it grow and heighten your reputation as one of the best bikers. This had effects on gameplay and on the game’s NPCs, with other bikers following you as a posse, drivers being weary about you and Police trying to arrest your gang. All depending on how you would play.

Sex, drugs, rock and roll: these all would find a place in Ride to Hell.  Allegedly, over 300 licensed songs were to be featured in the game, fitting each mood, from Blues, Country, to Hard Rock. Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf was even featured in the reveal trailer. In the original beta version of Ride to Hell you could deliver mushrooms to a chef to cook them and eating the wrong one would cause a psychedelic reaction. You could have been able to help a doctor bring special medicine to an outskirts Hippy Joint, work on a porn movie-set to earn a camera you could use to blackmail a sheriff found with a prostitute. These are a few examples of the sandbox mechanics were planned for the original version of the game.

Unfortunately development of Ride to Hell was not going well and the title would be cancelled in 2010, along with the closure of the Deep Silver Vienna team. The game would reappear in early 2013 with only Eutechnyx to develop it, losing most of its original open world and sandbox mechanics. The beta main protagonist Ray was replaced by Jake Conway, a  Vietnam War veteran on a quest for revenge after his brother was murdered by the Devil’s Hand, now a rival gang.

In the end Ride to Hell: Retribution was published in 2013 by Deep Silver, a Xbox Live Arcade / PSN game titled Ride to Hell: Route 666 and a mobile game titled Ride to Hell: Beatdown were also planned, but due to the highly negative reception of the main game both titles were later cancelled.

Article by Nicolas Dunai

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Eden (Antichrist) [Cancelled – PC, Xbox 360, PS3]

Eden is a cancelled psychological horror game that was in development in 2009 by Zentropa Games as a tie-in / epilogue of the Antichrist movie directed by Lars Von Trier. Zentropa Games was part of Zentropa Entertainments, the Danish film company started in 1992 by Von Trier and producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen and from an interview published on Eurogamer DK it seems that Aalbaek was the one to suggest making a game related to Antichrist.

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tie-in

Eden was based in the same universe as Antichrist, with a new plot starting where the film ends. The player would have assumed the role of Willem Dafoe‘s character, who goes back to the lodge in the woods (called “Eden”) to try to figure out the cause for the violent events seen in the movie. Eden would have been a deep dive into your darkest and most gloomy personal fears, as players had to create their own profile at the start of the game, answering to a series of questions about their fears, and thus making the adventure a very personal experience, that would change for each individual.

We can assume gameplay would have been somehow similar to the Silent Hill series mixed with Heavy Rain and other Quantic Dream games, but played in first person. The game was conceived to be played multiple times, to see all the different endings and events. Zentropa Games planned to release Eden in 2010 for PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN.

As we can read in an article by Superannuation published by Kotaku:

Morten Iversen, formerly a writer on the Hitman franchise at IO Interactive, led the development of the game, and Politiken added that “Von Trier [had to] approve the [team’s] final design. […] In an e-mail, Iversen said Eden “was originally intended to be a companion piece to [the film],” but the development team ultimately felt Antichrist’s audience was too narrow, so they decided to reposition it as a unique story-driven title appealing to people interested in games like Heavy Rain. Iversen compared the connection between Eden and Antichrist to that of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name: there would be elements – the setting and general universe – discerning fans would recognize, but it would still be an accessible product for a larger audience.

The game began “with a short prologue about legal and emotional repercussions” of Antichrist’s events, and then tasked players with “collecting clues in a mystery that slowly unfolds – [they] unlock areas in and around the cabin [from the film],” Iversen said. In order to succeed in Eden, players had to confront their personal phobias and “explore the darkness in [the game’s] universe” and within the players.”

eden Zentropa Games - antichrist tiein Willem Dafoe

Unfortunately in early 2010 Zentropa Games had to close down because of economic issues:

“Even after receiving 100,000 Euro in aid they just couldn’t manage to keep it going. It seems that the games industry in Denmark is coming to a crushing halt as now 4 developers have closed in the last 12 months.  “There was just no budget to continue development. Over the years it became increasingly clear that there simply was not enough money,” said Morten Iversen, former head of Zentropa Games to PC World.”

Only a few concept arts remains from the development of Eden: if you know someone who worked on this game that could have some screenshots or videos, please let us know

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