Plague of Darkness (also known as The Plague) is a canceled action-adventure game developed by Widescreen Games and published by Namco Hometek for Playstation 2 and Xboxaround 2003-2004.
The game was announced during the ECTS 2003 for a release planned in the summer of 2004 as we can read on Gamezone:
“Gamers Beware: Namco to spread gaming fever next summer with Plague of Darkness title to infect action adventure genre on PlayStation®2 and Xbox®.
Leading video games publisher Namco Hometek Inc. promises intense, nonstop action in its newest thriller, Plague of Darkness (tentative title), announced today. Scheduled for release on the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox® video game system from Microsoft, Plague of Darkness will ship in the summer of 2004. Developed by Widescreen Games in Lyon, France, Plague of Darkness will feature Xbox Live functionality, complete with downloadable content, as well as PlayStation®2 online support with exclusive extras.
“Plague of Darkness will raise the bar in the action adventure genre through its haunting original storyline, close combat elements, stunning graphics and intense action,” said Jon Kromrey, Producer at Namco Hometek Inc.
“We think gamers will be infected with its immersive and addictive gameplay.”
In Plague of Darkness, Namco transports players to ravaged Medieval Europe during the time of the Black Death. Eight brooding environments with 58 sub-locations will put players to the test, each containing new objectives, enemies and obstacles. A linear storyline with deadly puzzles, fascinating characters and chilling discoveries allow players to experience unique game play mechanics and participate in over-the-top fantasy combat. In a time where advanced weaponry doesn’t yet exist, players have a multitude of basic weapons, special tools and magic at their disposal. Over five weapons are featured in the game, including a variety of swords, crossbows, daggers and the ability to cast magic spells. The game’s outstanding cinematic effects set an additional ambient tone for Plague of Darkness, immersing players deep into the dark world environments.
The game’s story features a Knight of the Order, Douran, who sets out on a mission to bring down a terrible demon. The demon has been haunting the land of the living by feasting on the black souls of the dead, in order to bring about its own resurrection. During the course of his adventure, Douran encounters other characters that may hold answers to the mystery behind the demonic plague, but can he trust them? In the course of the story, the hero fights the omnipresent evil demon by using the game’s sacred relic in a quest to spread peace throughout Europe.”
In December of the same year, Gamekult revealed a little more about the game:
“In a medieval Europe ravaged by the Black Plague (1348), the young knight Douran sets sail for the island of St. Angui, to join Jacques de Villemort, the head of the Order, and his father, whom he has seen attacked by an evil spirit in a recent nightmare. Offshore, Douran sees a thick dark fog with a Death’s face, which quickly takes the form of a claw to trap the ship and capsize it. At the back of his cabin, our hero hears the horrified laments of the members of the crew, before seeing the strange tablecloth rush under his door … Small peculiarity, the combat system will propose to assign tarot cards to get special spells. Equipped with an online function on Xbox as on PS2 to obtain new equipment, Plague of Darkness is scheduled for next June in the United States.”
In April 2004, Sliced Gaming Australia shared a bit more about the game design:
“As you progress through Plague of Darkness you’ll be able to upgrade Douran’s weapons, magic and armour Role-Playing Game-style. As the game has an emphasis on action and combat, Douran will have more combat-based moves than simply attacking; he’ll also be able to block enemies’ attacks and even grab them to execute throw moves. Twenty-five enemies will be featured in the game, some with non-magical attacks and some with magical attacks.”
However, Plague of Darkness quietly vanished without a trace after this. We can speculate that something went wrong during it’s development process and Namco decided to pull the plug. Oddly enough, a partnership between Widescreen Games and Namco will eventually come to fruition with the making of Dead to Rights 2, released in the end of the 2005 year, after a troubled development.
Spirit Under Control is a canceled futuristic sci-fi action/adventure game that was developed in the mid 2000’s by Widescreen Games for the PC, Playstation 2 and Xbox. It seems it was set in the distant future, on a planet called Jun. The main feature of this project was the use of a capacity named “spirit” which would have allow the player to take control of various characters such as the enemies in order to solve various situations. We can speculate that its gameplay could have been very similar to the game Messiah, released in 2000 exclusively on PC.
Few information are currently available on Spirit Under Control, as the game was never officially revealed to this day. It was discovered on the now-defunct website of Widescreen Games. Here was what we could read about this title:
Spirit Under Control is a 3rd person action / adventure game in 3D real time dedicated to PS2, XBOX and PC.
The adventure takes place on Jun, a mysterious planet located in a remote solar system.
The gameplay of Spirit mixes skilfully Action and Adventures, it is based on the use of a super capacity called “spirit”. The spirit makes it possible to remotely take the control of the enemies.
Key features: An action game with a brain
– Explore a fascinating universe: a world populated with exotic aliens with exciting powers you can take control of.
– Use your spirit powers to solve complex and puzzling situations.
– Take the control of different characters to experiment various gameplays.
Game Genre : 3rd person action adventure game
Universe : Space Western
Platforms : PS2 / XBOX / PC
Playable PS2 demo
Target : mature audience
It seems that Spirit Under Control was playable as we could read it on the general information section, but, to this day, no such playable demo was made available on the web. Only four tiny screenshots are available here to remember the existence of this obscure, interesting project. It isn’t the first cancelled lost game made by Widescreen Games. In the same category, we could add titles such as Amon Ra, Ghostman or even Paparazzi.
If you know someone who worked on Spirit Under Control and could help us preserve more screenshots, footage or details, please let us know!
Eternal Darkness 2 is a canceled Survival-Horror action/adventure game developed by Silicon Knights from 2009 to 2012, for Wii U, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3. It was the sequel of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, released in 2002 for the GameCube.
Few information regarding Eternal Darkness 2 are currently available as the game was officially confirmed after its cancellation in an article from Kotaku, dated from October 2012, about the difficult development of what became the last game from Silicon Knights, X-Men: Destiny.
First rumor surrounding Eternal Darkness 2 came into light in November 2011 when some media hinted that the development of the game could have began on the Wii U:
Silicon Knights cuts force team to refocus on “one of its most requested titles for the next generation.”
Massive staff cuts hit the X-Men: Destiny developer Silicon Knights last week, slashing the Canadian developer nearly in half after a publisher, that remains unnamed, pulled out on a project the team was working on.
The project in question, which also remains unnamed, is still in development according to developers. A Silicon Knights spokesperson has said recently however, that “the company is currently refocusing and returning to its roots, working on one of its most requested titles for the next generation.”
While the name Eternal Darkness 2 has not been mentioned, it seems the most likely candidate for a next generation revamp and a perfect fit for the Wii U controller. Despite vast amounts of love for the original, Eternal Darkness has never seen a follow-up, but this could be the news we’ve all been waiting for.
In March 2012, the same article got a little update:
Silicon Knights boss Denis Dyack mentioned in a recent GI interview that his studio is working on their most requested game, another strong hint Eternal Darkness 2 is in development for the Nintendo Wii U.
To quote: “We’re really excited and we’re working on our next generation stuff. We’re working on an IP that’s our most requested and we’re really excited about that. We’re going back to our roots. I’m really looking forward to a point in time when we can talk about it.”
For those unfamiliar with the story, here is a summary:
In July 2007, Silicon Knights sued Epic after experiencing issues with the development of the Unreal Engine 3 on Too Human:
According to the suit, which seems more than $75,000, Epic Games misrepresented the abilities of their Unreal Engine 3 when selling the license agreement to Silicon Knights. The suit says that Epic failed to “provide a working game engine” to Silicon causing them to “experience considerable losses.”
The developer was rumored to be experiencing problems with the Unreal Engine platform last summer, but later denied speculation it was dropping the platform and commented that the game was still “progressing very well.” Silicon Knights eventually decided to drop the Unreal engine and instead build their own, according to the suit.
Silicon also claims that Epic has been “sabotaging” Silicon Knights efforts to make a game by using the money earned from their licensing deals to make their own games rather than to provide support for their engine to Silicon and other licensees.
In a nutshell, SK claims that Epic used a slicker version of their Unreal Engine for Gears of War and released a hamstringed version to SK and others, in order to show them up at E3. They also failed to release the Gears version until much more recently, SK claims. They also claim that Epic made several very specific statements about what the engine could do, but which it was never able to deliver on including the number of on-screen characters and lighting effects.
The suit is based on a dozen causes of action including fraud, negligent misrepresentation, intentional interference with contractual relations, intentional interference with prospective economic advantage, breach of warranty and a violation of North Carolina’s unfair and deceptive trade practices act.
The suit also says that Epic missed the deadlines for providing both the 360 and PS3 engines. Finally, the suit alleges, the SK gave up on the engine and built their own, which is what Too Human use.
Further information regarding the contention could be viewed here:
A key point of contention is the E3 demo of Too Human, which was not well received – the suit alleges: “The final development kit for the Xbox 360 was released by Microsoft in early September, 2005, meaning that Epic was obligated to deliver a fully operable version of the Engine to Silicon Knights by no later than March, 2006.” “That delivery date is significant, since compliance by Epic would have given Silicon Knights time to prepare an appropriate demonstration version of its Microsoft Xbox 360 game, Too Human, for the very important industry trade show, E3, two months later in May, 2006.” It continues: “Epic apparently was able to achieve a very useable version of the Engine for the Xbox 360 – the version that it kept to itself, for use only on its Gears of War game (as discussed below), to the detriment of Silicon Knights and Epic’s other licensees, as set forth in more detail below. Epic’s plan to avoid its obligations and hoard all of the necessary functionalities not only harmed Silicon Knights and all of Epic’s other licensees in the industry, but also gave Epic a clearly unfair advantage in the industry.” How so? “That advantage was nowhere more evident than at E3 2006, where Gears of War was awarded “Best Game in Show” and garnered nothing but laudatory press. By contrast, Silicon Knights – one of the only other [Unreal Engine 3] developers to publicly display a playable demonstration of its game – saw Too Human roundly criticized in the videogame press for its technical problems and generally unpolished appearance. The damage to Silicon Knights caused by Epic’s misconduct was manifest, because E3 attendees were able to compare Too Human with another game running ostensibly the same game engine, Gears of War, with vastly superior results.”
Less than a month later, Epic countersued Silicon Knights for copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, and breach of contract:
Silicon Knights claimed that Epic breached its contract and failed to deliver a workable version of the engine on time, forcing the developer to start building its own engine for Too Human, and delaying the game in the process.
Epic has returned fire: Yesterday the company filed a motion to dismiss the original suit, and then filed its own countersuit against Silicon Knights. In its defense, Epic said that Silicon Knights failed to show that the company misrepresented the truth or ever intended to deceive the developer.
It also took issue with Silicon Knights’ portrayal of some terms in the licensing agreement. While the original suit claimed that Epic had committed to delivering a working engine for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 within six months of each system’s final development kits being sent out, the motion to dismiss claimed that Epic was obligated merely to “demonstrate” that the Unreal Engine 3 would run on the Xbox 360 by March of 2006. The motion made no mention of the PlayStation 3 deadline.
Regardless of how the judge rules on the motion, there’s also Epic’s counterclaim to sort through. In short, Epic accused Silicon Knights of trying to steal the Unreal Engine 3 technology.
“Indeed, the plain language of the Silicon Knights’ complaint makes clear that Silicon Knights wants to take Epic’s licensed technology, pay nothing for it, and use it any way it pleases,” the counterclaim reads.
According to Epic, Silicon Knights had full access to the Unreal Engine 3 code and support network for an evaluation period of roughly nine months before it entered into the license agreement. The developer also got a break on the regular licensing fee because it committed to use the engine exclusively for all of its Xbox 360, PS3, and PC games.
As such, Epic accused Silicon Knights of breaching the contract by creating its own engine for Too Human and developing the game–and a second game with Sega–using that new engine. Additionally, Epic sued the developer for copyright infringement because Silicon Knights said in its original suit that the new Too Human engine was based on Unreal Engine 3.
Epic said the new engine is an unauthorized, derivative work that violates its licensing agreement and constitutes a misappropriation of its trade secrets. It also noted in the months prior to the countersuit that Silicon Knights accessed “virtually all” of the Unreal Engine 3 documentation that Epic makes available to partners online, “consistent with an effort to archive documentation for use outside the scope of the license agreement.”
Epic is seeking damages in excess of $650,000, as well as an order that any code or games that infringe on its copyright be destroyed. Only Silicon Knights’ next project after Too Human–the as-yet-unannounced game to be published by Sega–is referenced directly in the copyright-infringement claim.
The case was settled only in May 2012 with a victory for Epic Games:
Epic Games Wins Lawsuit Against Silicon Knights, Awarded $4.45 Million
Epic Games secured a significant victory today against Canadian company Silicon Knights when a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina found in favor of Epic on all claims.
The jury rejected Silicon Knights’ claim that Epic breached its Unreal Engine 3 license agreement with Silicon Knights. The jury also found in Epic’s favor on all of its counterclaims, namely that Silicon Knights breached the license agreement, misappropriated Epic’s trade secrets, and infringed Epic’s copyrights in the Unreal Engine 3 code. The jury awarded Epic damages totaling $4.45 million. Epic has 30 days in which to file a request to the court for reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs. The court previously had thrown out Silicon Knights’ fraud claims after nine days of testimony.
Now let’s go back to what really interests us here, with the rumor emanating from NeoGaf concerning the potential cancellation of Eternal Darkness 2. Here is what we could read on this subject in June 2012, only a dozen days after Silicon Knights lost its lawsuit against Epic:
In the wake of Epic’s victory in the Unreal Engine suit brought by Silicon Knights, Nintendo has apparently opted to halt development of Eternal Darkness 2. NeoGAF user Shiggy offers a summary of the situation, excerpts of which appear below.
“Last year, Silicon Knights and Nintendo started to work together once again on a new title. Based on the fact that they already had Wii U dev kits and also based on Dyack’s comments, it was Eternal Darkness 2.”
“So as already mentioned, the studio was solely dependent on Nintendo’s goodwill since late November 2011. But then the trial against Epic took place last week, and SK lost it. SK was ordered to pay 4.5 mio USD to Epic, and additionally they may need to pay for Epic’s legal fees. The company’s debt rose to a new level.”
“When Nintendo saw that they would need to pay an additional 10 million USD to have the company survive that develops the game, they didn’t seem to like it, especially as they wouldn’t get anything in return.”
“NCL reviewed its decision and it appears as if Eternal Darkness 2 is cancelled for now. Hence, many of the 40-man team were laid off, leaving the studio in limbo now.”
Needless to say, neither Nintendo nor Silicon Knights have commented on this issue one way or the other, and it is a distinct possibility that Shiggy’s appraisal is a hoax rather than a rumor. That said, and despite the absence of any corroborating evidence whatsoever, Shiggy’s description is eminently believable, and may prove to be entirely factual.
It is indeed difficult to know if this rumor coming from NeoGaf is to be taken seriously, even today. By the way, user Shiggy also shared some potential information regarding another cancelled Silicon Knights game which was The Crucible: Evil Within.
But whether this is true or not, the Kotaku article mentioned at the beginning of this article remains the real official source confirming that Eternal Darkness 2 was in development for a certain period:
All eight interviewees that I spoke with for this story say Silicon Knights was splitting its team between work on X-Men: Destiny, and work on a development demo.
What could it be? Too Human 2, perhaps, which Dyack has repeatedly promised that the studio intends to complete as a trilogy? Or perhaps the same Sega-funded project which was cancelled in 2009; a game code-named The Box, and later, The Ritualyst?
The answer is far more exciting: Eternal Darkness 2, which Kotaku can reveal that SK was working on in parallel to the Activision contract.
“SK didn’t take the development of XMD seriously the entire time I was there,” a source says. “They were working on an Eternal Darkness 2 demo that they could take to publishers. While I was there, they were even siphoning off staff from my [XMD] team to work on it. Denis is not an X-Men fan either, so he didn’t care much for the license. To him, it seemed more like a job to get us by, until ED2 could be developed and sold to a publisher—which never happened.”
Another source said that “SK had about 60% of the development team working on XMD and the other 40% working on ED2. (…) This 60%/40% staffing estimate was backed up by multiple sources.
Yet despite this reportedly split effort, the ED2 demo also failed to come together in a satisfying way, sources said. “The farthest they got with it when I left SK was, literally, one two-level church interior,” says one former employee. “It was really bad, as I recall. It took the side-team a long time to even get that far. Bad tech, combined with a team composed of people who had not shipped a title since Metal Gear really hurt that demo. Other than that, I can’t explain why things went so poorly for them [except that] a lot of key people responsible for the original Eternal Darkness are long gone.”
The result coming from the loss of that lawsuit was a total disaster for Silicon Knights: all projects in development were definitively cancelled: The Sandman, Siren in the Maelstrom, Too Human 2 and 3 or even the mysterious King’s Quest alongside the already mentionned The Crucible: Evil Within and this Eternal Darkness 2. Denis Dyack left the studio in July 2012 to found Precursor Games with other former members of the company, while the rest were laid off. As of 2013, only 5 employees were still working within the studio:
Too Human developer Silicon Knights, still battling a $4.45 million judgment that favored Epic Games, is down to just a few employees, has closed its office and has sold off office equipment and game assets, Polygon has learned.
The company laid off most of its employees last summer, a source tells Polygon. Around the same time, a core group of Silicon Knights employees, including founder Denis Dyack, created a new studio: Precursor Games.
Precursor Games, formed about 30 miles west of the now-empty offices of St. Catharines, Ontario-based Silicon Knights, also purchased some of Silicon Knights’ assets, including art assets, desks, chairs and even computers, a move that spurred an examination by Epic Games attorneys, according to court records. The studio is attempting to fund development of Shadow of the Eternals, a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness.
Precursor Games CEO Paul Caporicci told Polygon that Precursor has no relationship with Silicon Knights, but did verify that new studio purchased some of the old studio’s equipment.
“Silicon Knights was selling off extra assets to laid-off employees and we, along with others, purchased some of them,” Caporicci said. “Like so many others who have been laid off in this difficult economy, we are simply trying to turn a tough situation into something positive. This helps gives us an opportunity with Shadow of the Eternals to give the gamers something that have been wanting.”
In December 2012, NeoGaf’s member Mama Robotnik wrote a post-mortem of Silicon Knights and shared many pictures supposedly from various cancelled projects made by the studio. Regarding Eternal Darkness 2, it seems that the game was planned for Wii U, but also on Xbox 360 and PS3:
At least one portfolio website of a former Silicon Knights concept artist seems to make reference to the project suggesting that the ambition was for a 360/PS3/WiiU release.
How this multi-format release would have worked – given Nintendo’s ambiguous partial ownership of the Eternal Darkness IP is unclear. Regardless, with X-Men Destiny a critical and commercial bomb, and reportedly only five employees remaining in the once hundreds-strong organisation, Eternal Darkness II is almost certainly utterly cancelled.
Some of those alleged renders could be from different games by Silicon Knights. For instance, this one can be seen in the gameplay video of Shadow of the Eternals, the cancelled spiritual successor of Eternal Darkness:
Same thing with this one which apparently was more related to The Crucible: Evil Within/The Box/The Ritualyst:
History seems to be repeating itself today for Denis Dyack: after Shadow of the Eternals was put on-hold following two failed attempts on Kickstarter, Precursor Games closed its doors in September 2013. He founded Quantum Entanglement Entertainment in October 2014 with the ambition to relaunch the development of Shadow of the Eternals and make it a crossmedia movie license. No information regarding what happened during a period of more than 3 years has been disclosed to date. Finally, today, Dyack is at the head of Apocalypse Studios, since January 2018, which has been developing Deadhaus Sonatafor more than 4 years now, claimed to be a spiritual successor to Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. The game initially used Amazon‘s Lumberyard Engine before switching to Unity in April 2022. Xbox One and Playstation 4 versions were also apparently planned, but given the evolution of the console market with now the Xbox Series S/X and the Playstation 5 as its successor, it’s clearly not impossible for these releases to be cancelled.
Potential concept arts and 3D models for Eternal Darkness 2. Still to be confirmed, might be from other cancelled Silicon Knights games.
Official artworks/concept arts from Eternal Darkness 2 – circa 2009. All provided by Jonathan Standing.
Darkborn, previously known as Archenemy and Project Wight, is a canceled medieval fantasy First-Person Role-Playing Game developed by The Outsiders from 2015 to 2020, and published by Private Division, for the PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Darkborn was set in the medieval time where vikings shared the world with a forgotten species of creatures. Player embodied one of these creatures named Darkborn, whose purpose was revenge against a band of vikings marauders known as The Pale Enemy, after the latter have slaughtered its species for blood rituals. Over the course of the game, you would play multiple generations of these Darkborn as you learn the motivations for their bloodshed.
First information regarding this game were hinted in February 2015 during the announcement of the creation of The Outsiders:
(…) In a separate interview, he told Eurogamer that the company’s first game will be an RPG. “I’ve loved RPGs all my life and have been shoehorning elements of them into games I’ve made over the years with lesser or more success,” he said. “I’m interested in systemic story stuff. I know Ken Levine has recently been talking about this. I have another way I want to try and do it. But I think it won’t be a game of cut scenes.”
It wasn’t until November 2016 that Project Wight was officially unveiled by its developers, showing a short gameplay video of the game:
“There are currently 12 people working at The Outsiders,” says co-founder David Goldfarb. “Our background is a pretty broad mixture of experience. Ben Cousins (co-founder) and I come from DICE, as do the other two founders.
Wight is a low fantasy RPG set in the Dark Ages, and the twist is that you play as a creature that would usually be the enemy in another game. “The player will experience life on the other side of the sword as a creature attempting to survive the extermination of its species by humanity,” says Goldfarb. “The creature starts out young and extremely vulnerable, but will eventually grow strong enough to turn the tables on its persecutors.”
One of Wight’s biggest inspirations is a book by John Gardner called Grendel. “I read it a long time ago,” says Goldfarb. “It’s Beowulf, but written from the perspective of the villain. That inversion was interesting, but it also meant something. I was always siding with the outcast.”
“There was some kind of dislocation in me it spoke to, I guess. That feeling of not understanding the world you were in, why you were there, or why things were cruel in it. And as time wore on it became clearer and clearer that there was a game there, and maybe the time had come to make it. So we did.”
Project Wight, which doesn’t even have a name yet, has a long way to go. But I’m already sold on the idea. As for what the moment-to-moment play will be like, Goldfarb stresses that team is still working hard to figure this out. “It’s too early to say, but we are definitely not making a linear experience. But how exactly that takes shape is still years away.”
Thereafter, the project became more silent. In December 2017, we learned that it would be published by Private Division, a new label from Take-Two Interactive, supposed to fund independent titles from small studios made up of industry veterans:
“We didn’t want to cede control of this thing, essentially,” says The Outsiders co-founder David Goldfarb, whose studio is publishing its first game with Private Division. “You always hope for the best, but maybe in some cases, and I know from talking to friends of mine, you lose control of the thing that you spend an enormous amount of energy and time on.” For The Outsiders, controlling its IP is essential for its other business endeavors.
After being silent throughout the entire 2018 year, the game resurfaced as Darkborn in April 2019. Gameinformer wrote a preview about it:
(…) The Darkborn may not deserve persecution, but judging by their bloodthirsty battle skills, you can see why the humans fear them. In the few fights we see in this demo, the Darkborn exact revenge on The Pale by eye-gouging, severing limbs, grisly decapitations, and even a ripping a still-beating heart from the ribcage of one unfortunate grunt. Many of these gruesome attacks are earned via Darkborn’s “death gift” system.
No matter which age your Darkborn may be, you can earn new death gifts by interacting with the dying kin you encounter in the world. In this demo, we see a few of them in action. Deep Sight operates like an investigative mode that highlights your path forward and any enemies in the vicinity. Stealth Bite gives the whelp a powerful stealth takedown. Thorn Throw gives the Darkborn a ranged attack, and the Whip Attack is an effective tool for stunning enemies before going in for the kill. (…)
However, troubles occured for the game as we learned from Gamespot in July 2019, that Private Division parted ways with The Outsiders in the end of 2018:
The game, which was re-revealed as Darkborn in April this year, is now moving ahead with a different publisher. Private Division confirmed to GameSpot that it ended its publishing arrangement with The Outsiders in 2018.
“Private Division ended our publishing agreement with The Outsiders at the end of last year,” reads a line from Private Division’s statement. “We supported the studio financially for several months after ending the deal, and we wish David Goldfarb and the rest of the talented team the very best with the game and their future endeavors.”
It is not immediately clear why Private Division and The Outsiders split up, or what financial considerations might have been in place related to the business separation. Private Division declined to share further insight on the matter, while The Outsiders CEO Anders Pettersson tells GameSpot that the Swedish studio plans to share more details “after the summer.” Also unknown is if The Outsiders will or already is seeking a new publishing arrangement, or if the studio will self-publish Darkborn.
Unfortunately, Darkborn was officially canceled in April 2020 as stated by The Outsiders on their official Twitter account:
Over the past four years we have been working on a game property we loved very much. This was once called Archenemy, became Project Wight, and finally, Darkborn.
Last April we released a gameplay trailer for Darkborn, knowing that it might be our final release. In spite of our best efforts to continue, ultimately we had to make the difficult decision to halt development on the project. Perhaps one day we will return to it: we all hope so and genuinely appreciate the support of everyone who followed us over the years.
But one door closes and another opens.
We have been working on something else.
On something new. Something awesome. Something we really love.
We look forward to being able to share it all with you.
That new project was Metal: Hellsinger released in September 2022. The Outsiders was acquired in June 2021 by Funcom. In August 2022, David Goldfarb explained a bit what went wrong during the development of Darkborn:
Speaking to NME in a recent Boss Level profile, Goldfarb said that Darkborn – which was cancelled by The Outsiders in 2020 – suffered some major issues in the development cycle, including a big change to the game’s structure.
“It didn’t start as an open world game,” shared Goldfarb. “It became one, and that’s why we got fucked. If we had done it another way, maybe we would have been okay.”
Goldfarb added that Darkborn was cancelled due to publisher Take-Two deciding to part with The Outsiders, which “couldn’t get anyone to pay what it would have cost to continue, because of a lot of complicated legality around IP ownership and the publishing rights to the game.”
“A lot of people think we made this decision to abandon that project. That’s not true, okay. We really wanted to make that game,” added Goldfarb.
Beyond publishing issues, Goldfarb said the team “never really cracked” first-person melee combat, and described it as “probably the hardest thing in the industry.”
EverQuest Next is a canceled Free-To-Play sandbox fantasy Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game developed and published by Sony Online Entertainment for the PC and the Playstation 4 from 2009 to 2016. It was based on the EverQuest franchise.
Recently, we got our hands on a copy of the 10th Anniversary EverQuest Book. The last chapter of this book is intriguingly titled “EverQuest Next” and was individually written by EverQuest Creative Director, Rich Waters: “So you can see there’s a lot to wrestle with as we begin laying the foundation for EverQuest ‘Next.’ As I write this, we have concept artists and game designers working hard in our studio-taking the lessons of the past, the best parts of the present and the most promising ideas for the future-to bring the world of Norrath to a new generation of players, as well as the dedicated legions of fans who made the EverQuest franchise timeless. I hope we’ll see you there.”
This new EverQuest project was officially announced in August 2010, during the SOE Fan Faire Event, as we can read on Engadget:
The third edition in the EverQuest franchise was teased by Sony Online Entertainment prez John Smedley this weekend at SOE’s annual Fan Faire event. The publisher also held an extended panel on it — tentatively titled EverQuest Next — where Smedley revealed that the game will have “less classes” and be “more like EverQuest 1” in that regard. He also said it has been “built from the ground up to be scaleable” and that it’ll be playable on anything from “a laptop” to “a powerful PC.”
The following years, the game was still shown annually with information shared here and there: in July 2011, during the SOE Fan Faire, Smedley announced the use of ForgeLight as graphics engine:
John Smedley, CEO of Sony Online Entertainment, his tech team and the team behind Planetside 2 are building a new core engine called Forge Light which will have all of the tech bells and whistles needed to bring SOE’s new MMOs into the next generation. Partnering with Nvidia to build in use of the PhysX API has allowed some amazing complexity to everything from the physics of vehicle movement in Planetside 2 to the expression of a characters face in the next EverQuest title.
“Think about this, EverQuest players, think about a physics engine that is built into every single aspect of your gameplay. We’ve partnered with Nvidia and their amazing PhysX platform. It means that we can bring you the most amazing characters and environments ever seen before in an MMO, or a single player game.”
During SOE Live in October 2012, Smedley revealed that the project had been reworked and showed new ambitions:
“I have to be honest with you. We have completely blown up the design of EverQuest Next. For the last year and a half we have been working on something we are not ready to show. Why did we blow up the design? The design was evolutionary. It was EverQuest III. It was something that was slightly better that what had come before it. It was slightly better. What we are building is something that we will be very proud to call EverQuest. It will be the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed. The same exciting content delivered in a new way. Something you’ve never seen before. The MMO world has never seen before. We didn’t want more Kill 10 Rats quests. We didn’t want more of the same. If you look at the MMOs out there, they’re delivering the same content over and over again. So are we. We need to change that. When we released EverQuest, we changed the world. We want to do that again with a different type of game.
What I will commit to is, at the next Fan Faire, not only will you get to see it but you will get to touch it. Most of the EverQuest Next devs are in this room. If you get them drunk enough they might tell you. They’re led by Dave Georgeson. Terry Michaels. Vets from EverQuest and EverQuest 2. We are remaking Norrath unlike anything you’ve ever seen, but you’ll recognize it. I’m sorry we don’t have anything to show for it, but I wanted to be honest with you and tell you a little bit about it. Keep the faith.”
Finally, the game was officially shown in August 2013 during SOE Live. For the occasion, Engadget wrote an article explaining several new features:
EverQuest Next is set in the realm of Norrath, but this is a rebooted version of those lands. Veteran players will find familiar places and names in the lore and setting, but they won’t have a monopoly on the knowledge of this world; players new to the franchise can be equally comfortable because everyone is discovering this new world at the same time.
There are two main aspects of this world that really take things to a new level in gaming, and both involve composition, just in different ways.
First, everything in EverQuest Next is made of voxels, it means everything in the world can be destroyed! If you wanted a way to affect the world, just envision actually blowing up a bridge to keep mobs from getting to you or collapsing a tunnel so no one else happening by for a while can find the cavern and quests underneath. Although these changes aren’t totally permanent, they will be around for a while; after a time the world itself will respawn, thereby preventing players from completely destroying the world — and therefore the game — forever.
Of course, just because everything can be destroyed doesn’t mean the devs will let you! As Georgeson explained to me, if some areas weren’t restricted, Qeynos would become a parking lot in no time. Keep in mind, though, such restrictions are only on players, not mobs.
The second compositional aspect is the fact that the world of EQ Next is not restricted to its surface. I am not talking about a few scattered underground caverns, either; I am talking about a completely designed world from crust to core. Since you can start digging pretty much anywhere, you will actually find content as you go deeper and deeper and deeper still. This layered content isn’t necessarily static, either. Lower levels are procedurally generated and can be closed off by dev-induced earthquakes or crop up elsewhere.
While players will still come across typical MMO tasks to complete, the whole process will be more organic. If you see a need, you fill a need. There are no glowy icons floating overhead.
Consider this scenario: You come upon a band of orcs attacking a small settlement. You can continue on your merry way, or you can jump in and aid one side. But which one? Do you protect the humans, or do you assist the orcs? Helping the humans can open up opportunities for you to work with them in the future because they will remember your deeds and react accordingly. On the other hand, helping the orcs can be advantageous as well; it might just be that they offer you training in a class you couldn’t access otherwise.
Next up is the big world-wide public quest. Dubbed Rallying Calls, these public quests are a bit different from what you are used to. For one, they aren’t quick. These quests will develop over a few months’ time. And again, choices matter here; what players do during that time will affect what happens at the next stage. Let me illustrate: A Rallying Call to build Halas starts. First, you might make a little tent settlement. But what if gnolls start attacking? Do you go hunt the gnolls, build up a wall for protection, or pick a new spot? Every action will have consequences, even if not immediate. This whole thing will develop based on what players do. When one Rallying Call finally concludes, another will roll out. Once one is done, it won’t start up again with the next batch of players. In other words, when Halas is built, it stays permanently built.
NPCs will retain memories about your choices and will react accordingly as the game goes on. Think of the orc scenario above: The orcs may become your allies, but townsfolks and guards sure won’t be liking you very much, so chances are you will not be privy to quests they could have offered.
The mobs will also be more intelligent in EverQuest Next. The AI will be programmed with a set of likes and dislikes, so NPCs and mobs will move around and live in the world according to that set of ideas. You won’t find a static spawn in the same place indefinitely. Those orcs from earlier? They like to live along quiet roads, not near guarded cities. They also don’t like being beaten to a pulp by adventurers. So if a city starts encroaching on their habitat or adventurers keep handing their butts to them, the orcs are going to literally pick up stakes and move to a more hospitable environment.
As you can see, the world is not going to be the same over time; it’s going to evolve. If you leave the game and come back later, things aren’t going to be just how you left them. Your choices combined with the evolving world mean that you will have a personally unique experience in the game. And not only that, but because conditions and choices cannot be mimicked, even your own alts will have a unique experience!
Combat will consist of four skills and four weapon moves at a time. The weapon moves depend on what weapon you have equipped, and what skills you have at your disposal depends on what classes you have discovered and learned. That’s classes plural: You can multi-class indefinitely. And you get to mix and match the skills from the various classes to make a build you like.
There are also no levels or in this game, although your character does still progress. And in a really neat twist, all players can play together regardless of how long they have been in the game, even if one friend is a three-year veteran and the other is brand-new. Instead of mentoring or sidekicking, the older player can just choose to work on a set of skills that s/he hasn’t developed yet.
As for movement in the game — do you like Parkour? If so, then you are in luck! Avatars no longer have just three movements of walk, run, or awkward jump; now they can move along the terrain in a more natural way.
On the left: In 2011, EverQuest III art direction was more realistic. On the right: In 2013, EverQuest Next art direction took a more cartoony approach.
Alongside this title, Sony Online Entertainment also announced the development of Landmark, formerly EverQuest Next Landmark, a content creation tool using the same Voxel-based technology as EverQuest Next. Over time, Landmark would have had features similar to those of EverQuest Next, in particular a Player Versus Player mode:
What will be the differences between Landmark and EverQuest Next, will you tell me? Dave Georgeson replies:
“EverQuest Next focuses more on the story and the various narrative axes. Instead, Landmark emphasizes exploration, creativity and sharing. But in the end, many of the features of EverQuest Next will be present in Landmark.”
EverQuest Landmark will offer an experience worthy of a complete MMO. According to the same man, a PvP mode will be added.
After its big announcement, EverQuest Next became more discreet over the months. New details regarding some playable classes were shared during SOE Live 2014, but it was mostly Landmark that was highlighted during this time.
The year 2015 was a turning point for Sony Online Entertainment: in February, the studio was acquired from Sony by Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Game Company. Shortly after, several employees and managers were fired, in an attempt to make the company more profitable, among them was project manager David Georgeson:
Last week, Sony and investment firm Columbus Nova announced that Sony Online Entertainment had been sold. The studio has been renamed. Now it seems, staffing changes are underway that reported see significant departure of talent.
Michele Cagle, senior director of global communications at Daybreak, confirmed the staffing changes in an email to us. “As part of a strategic decision to rationalize the business, Daybreak Game Company announced today that it will eliminate positions in both its San Diego and Austin studios,” she says. “This alignment of resources better positions the newly independent studio for future growth opportunities and developments, including delivering on its legacy of making top online games and establishing a solid foundation for future multi-platform success. These reductions will not affect the operation of current games and the company will continue on its mission to partner with its player community to drive the future and push the boundaries of online gaming.”
Dave Georgeson, who has led the EverQuest franchise for over five years, has confirmed he is no longer with the company. In a response to an inquiry, he also confirms that his departure was unplanned.
In June, the team behind Landmark at Daybreak Game Company shifted its focus on the development of EverQuest Next, and the following month, John Smedley stepped down as CEO, and was replaced by Russell Shanks.
During this long period, no mention was made of EverQuest Next, and it was not until March 2016 that the game was officially canceled as we can read on The Verge:
Games studio Daybreak Game Company has canceled EverQuest Next, an upcoming free-to-play MMO that was supposed to be a successor to numerous EverQuest titles. In a statement posted on the studio’s website, Daybreak Game Company’s president, Russell Shanks, said the title just simply didn’t live up the franchise’s standards.
“As we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun,” writes Shanks. “In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Next would not meet the expectations we — and all of you — have for the worlds of Norrath.”
Three months after the cancellation of the game, Landmark was officially launched from Early Access. The servers were shutdown in February 2017, less than a year after its launch. To date, the EverQuest franchise has never returned to the limelight, although EverQuest II is still supported 18 years after its release, as its last expansion was released in November 2022.
Some explanations behind concept arts were taken from Giantbomb.
EverQuest III images:
EverQuest Next images:
Norrath timeline concept
Norrath continent map
Depths of Norrath concept
The 6 origins all classes were based upon
Base classes used modifiers to create hybrid classes
Base classes used modifiers to create hybrid classes
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