News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Civil Warrior [PS3 – Cancelled]

Civil Warrior is a cancelled real time strategy game planned to be released on Playstation 3. The game was in development in 2007 by Castaway Entertainment, a talented team founded in 2003 by former developers who left Blizzard North, some of which were previously working on the cancelled version of Diablo 3 and later on their own spiritual sequel, Djinn.

civil warrior castaway entertainment cancelled

Unfortunately very little is known about Civil Warrior as it was never officially announced and after just a few months the studio closed down. From the only images survived from its cancellation it looks like Civil Warrior was set in a medieval setting with a humorous style. Players would have been able to guide an army composed of soldiers and peasants, probably to rebel against their tyrant king. We can speculate gameplay would have been similar to games like Little King’s Story and Pikmin.

As far as we know Castaway Entertainment did not spent much time on Civil War before its cancellation. Most of their efforts and resources were used to create Djinn, their ambitious and innovative action RPG that would have been published by Electronic Arts. When EA decided to abandon the project, Castaway found themselves without funds to keep their studio alive, so they pitched other smaller projects to various publishers, such as Yaris for Xbox 360 and Civil Warriors for PS3.

These simpler digital games for consoles were a way to receive some money while they were still trying to find another publisher for Djinn, but unfortunately it was not enough to survive. When Castaway closed down in April 2008, Civil Warrior was lost forever along with all of their other game concepts.

In September 2008 part of the Castaway team reformed as Big Tree Games and developed a prototype for a new original game titled “Demonborn” that would have been one of the first MOBA but it was also canned in the end. If you know someone who worked on Civil Warrior and could hep to preserve some more details or screenshots, please let us know!

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Ruff ‘n’ Tumble [Beta – Amiga]

RuffnTumble is an action / platform game developed by Wunderkind and published by Renegade in 1994 for Commodore Amiga. In the game you play as Ruff 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 ‘nTumble“, 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 “RuffnTumble“, 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: Read more

Conker’s Bad Fur Day 2: Other Bad Day [GameCube, Xbox – Cancelled]

Conker’s Bad Fur Day was one of the most fun and original games ever released on the Nintendo 64, a funny and “mature” game featuring cute characters survived from the cancelled Conker: Twelve Tales. After the first game was published in early 2001 the team started working on a sequel, at the time probably still planned to be released on the Nintendo Gamecube.

Conker's Bad Fur Day 2: Other Bad Day

Image from “Conker’s Big Reunion”, a Project Spark DLC

In early ’00s Tim and Chris Stamper were trying to sell Rare but Nintendo was not interested to fully own the company. On September 2002 Microsoft officially purchased Rare for $375 million and the studio became a first-party developer for their first console, the Xbox. Most of Rare’s games still in development were then moved to the Xbox (Grabbed by the Ghoulies and Kameo: Elements of Power, originally planned for Gamecube), possibly including Conker’s Bad Fur Day 2, also known as “Other Bad Day”.

Conker’s creator Chris Seavor and other former members of the Conker Team revealed the existence of their Conker sequel in many interviews, as in this old article from Mundo Rare:

“So we asked Chris Seavor what ever happened with Other Bad Day and why the hell is that we are not playing that game if everybody seems to want it. He answered that not only did they start working on a sequel with that title, they also had a full storyline ready to be depicted on the screen and many new movie references in mind: “We actually started on a direct sequel which was going to be called ‘Conker’s Other Bad Day‘ which dealt with Conker’s somewhat unsuccessful tenure as King. He spends all the treasury money on beer, parties and hookers. Thrown into prison, Conker is faced with the prospect of execution and the game starts with his escape, ball and chain attached, from the Castle’s highest tower.”

Thanks to an interview by Gamer Québec with Chris Seavor we know some more details about the planned story and characters in Conker’s Bad Fur Day 2:

“GQ: People want to know more about The Other Day, rightfully so. Rare had trademarked the name, but the sequel never happened. More than 10 years later, can you spoil what we were going to see as far as the story goes? Did it ever make it to a prototype?

CS: It had some graphics and concepts done for sure, but didn’t really get much further than that. As for what happened to Conker in OBD, well he became Emperor of the Known Universe, got a new girlfriend, and lost an old one (again). There was also a massive space poo: The Cthulpoo, the main baddie. Lots of other stuff happened, with some new characters appeared and old favourites returned. We got to find out about Greg’s childhood and why he hated cats, there were tons and tons of parodies of the more contemporary movies, and an evil doppleganger version of Conker that you got to play for a while. And Beardy (Birdy) died. That kinda stuff…

As with the original, it ended on a bittersweet note. I did actually do an act by act summary for you and the fans, but it was twice as big as the rest of the interview so i took it out… sorry. As consolation here’s a piccy of some early designs for the first level, just to prove we actually did do some work on the bugger.”

Conker's Bad Fur Day 2: Other Bad Day

We also know that some unused scenarios planned for Conker’s Bad Fur Day were meant to be re-used in Conker 2:

“As for features, I don’t think anything we really wanted to do didn’t end up in the game. There were a few levels that only existed on paper, for example one where Conker had to inflate a giant, fetish themed female pig by sticking a bellows up her arse. She then became a floating dirigible which you used to fly around the level dropping anvils on Cows to make them shit in the trough which then weighed down a lever and opened a door. This would have eventually leaded to the Bull Fight sequence. It got cut to save some time.

There were a few of these “linker” levels. Some eventually ended up in the design for Other Bad Day, but that’s never gonna happen so i guess you’ll never know…”

Unfortunately it seems that Microsoft was not interested in a Conker Sequel and soon the team dropped Other Bad Day, to work instead on a remake of the first Conker with major focus on its online multiplayer mode. We can assume Microsoft though the Xbox market would have been more interested in another multiplayer game, and a bonus remake of Bad Fur Day would have been less expensive to create than a full sequel.

Conker-Bad-Fur-Day-2-Other-Bad-Day-Live-Reloaded

In June 2005 finally Conker: Live & Reloaded was published but it seems that since late 2004 the team was already trying to return to work on Conker’s Other Bad Day, without success. In November 2005 Microsoft would release their second console, the Xbox 360 and they asked Rare to move their projects to the new console, as it happened with Kameo. As we can read on another interview by Eurogamer with Chris:

“Chris Seavor: I started designing it [Conker 2] and we were going to do it. They just wanted it quickly. It was coming to the end of the life cycle of the Xbox, and there was talk of them going, look, can we just shift this over to the 360, which was a year away? I was really against that because I just couldn’t face spending another two years on a game we’d already spent a year and a half on. So I guess it was probably my fault.

Now, I would have gone, absolutely. Let’s take a step back and make the graphics look as good as we can. It would have done all right I think. From the amount of messages I get every day saying please make Conker 2 I’d say it would have been a better move, but hey. There you go.”

At the same time Rare started working on another multiplayer focused Conker titled “Gettin’ Medieval” as a sequel to “Live & Reloaded”, re-using some of the art and assets from the cancelled Conker’s BFD 2. Chris revealed during an interview with Rarefandabase:

“CS:Erm, well it was pretty much designed in outline…. The story, the levels, some of the gameplay (loosely) which movies were ripe for parody, and general tests for the graphics. A ton of artwork was done, which spilled over into the multiplayer only game called Getting Medieval, based in the Conker universe with Gregg the Grim Reaper as the principal protagonist rather than Conker.. It all got a bit messy and tbh I couldn’t face another 3 years of the squirrel and gang. Summat like that…. Not really sure when it stopped exactly, we just kinda moved onto something else. Looking back, probably should have stuck with Other Bad Day, but hey ho, we live and learn. What would I have expected? Erm… it would have been fucking brilliant and JK Rowling would definitely have sued… :)”

In the end even Conker: Gettin’ Medieval was cancelled, along with many other canned projects designed by Chris Seavor, such as Arc Angel, Quest, Urchin, Perfect Dark Core, and Ordinary Joe. After so many failed attempts to create new and original games, Chris left Rare in January 2011 when the company did not renew his contract. Later in 2012, Seavor finally opened his own indie studio called Gory Detail.

Fans of Conker the squirrel got a bit excited when Microsoft announced a DLC campaign titled “Conker’s Big Reunion” for their game-tool Project Spark. Even if Chris reprise his voice for Conker, only the first chapter of Big Reunion was ever released, as Project Spark was soon discontinued and the whole campaign failed to be completed.

Unfortunately this was not the end of the mismanagement of the Conker franchise, as in 2016 Microsoft announced “Young Conker” some kind of casual augmented reality game in development for the Microsoft HoloLens. Maybe this is really “Conker’s Baddest Day”.

Asteroids 3D Reboot [Xbox – Cancelled]

Paradigm Entertainment was a talented studio that developed a few of the most interesting games for Nintendo 64, such as Pilotwings 64, F-1 World Grand Prix and Beetle Adventure Racing. Unfortunately during the 6th generation of consoles (Xbox, PS2, GameCube) the team had some difficulties finding their market and publishers interested in supporting their games.

To survive Paradigm had to work on tie-in and licensed games such as SpyHunter, The Terminator: Dawn of Fate and Mission: Impossible Operation Surma, unable to deliver successful products under budget and time limits. At some point in 2005 Atari even gave them the Asteroids IP to create a gritty 3D reboot of their classic arcade, to be developed for the original Xbox.

Atari already tried something similar with a Space Invaders reboot, releasing “Space Raiders” / “Space Invaders: Invasion Day” in 2002. The game was poorly received and heavily bombed, so it’s strange they even tried to do it again with Asteroids.

As far as we know Asteroids 3D reboot by Paradigm went only as far as an early prototype, before to be cancelled. A few images from this lost game are preserved in the gallery below, to preserve its existence in the unseen history of video games. Just 3 years later, THQ (their parent company at the time) decided to close down Paradigm Entertainment, while they were working on an untitled military FPS.

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Project Overdrive (Vistage) [PC – Cancelled]

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.

project overdrive: vistage buka entertainment cancelled open world game

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.

As we can read in the original press release by Buka Entertainment:

“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.”

Even more details can be found in the old Project Overdrive FAQ:

“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).”

Unfortunately Vistage had some problems during development and in January 2001 Project Overdrive was put on hold by Buka Entertainment, and never completed:

“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.“

Thanks to Svyatoslav for the contribution!

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