New Cancelled Games & Their Lost Media Added to the Archive

Brave: Shaman’s Challenge [Cancelled — Nintendo DS]

Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer is a lesser-known 3D platformer on the PS2. Much like its brethren from the genre, Brave received minimal attention, which led to the game slipping under the radar for many players. Seeing as how the game didn’t fare well critically, the game ended up selling poorly. Such poor performance was the last straw for Vis Entertainment’s business operation.

It wasn’t until a few years later that SouthPeak Games purchased the rights of Brave from Evolved Games, and attempted to do something with the IP. On August 20, 2007, SouthPeak Games unveiled four of its games at the GC Developers Conference in Leipzig, Germany. That game turned out to be, Brave: Shaman’s Challenge, a spin-off of Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer that played similarly to Tetris.

The game was supposedly planned to be released in 2009 alongside Brave: A Warrior’s Tale, but it was quietly cancelled without any official announcement. Whether a ROM of this game exist online or not remains unknown.

Pre-E3 2008: South Peak’s E3 Line-up

Salient (Propaganda Games) [Playstation 3/Xbox 360 – Cancelled Pitch]

Salient is a cancelled action-adventure game that was published by Disney Interactive and developed by Propaganda Games for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, around 2005-2006.

Few details are known about Salient, as it seems to this day that this project never reached the prototype phase, let alone playable state. The existence of this title was shared on the personal website of Nathan Cheever, who served as a Level Designer at Propaganda Games from 2005 to 2007, although it is indicated that he never worked on Salient:

When Propaganda Games’ formed in 2005, the project after Turok was going to be Salient, a futuristic game that deals with humanity and injustice. The owners of the studio (Disney) put the project on hold indefinitely a year later, despite the team’s seasoned experience, passion, and talent.

Salient was set in the far future after humanity suffered for centuries of conflicts and global warming. The action take place in a futuristic metropolis that housed surviving masses from around the world, created by a big corporation that also created the Salients, a robotic workforce exhibiting personality traits, emotions and human features, initially designed to serve humanity. But over the years, the Salients integrated throughout the society and become more and more powerful to a point where they took over the corporation and see the humanity as “obsolete”, seizing operations by placing human beings in ghettos. Gamers would have played the role of a hybrid between a human and a Salient, hunted by the corporation and rejected by humans. In his quest, he would eventually flee the metropolis and joined a group of other rejected Salients in the wasteland, before saving humanity.

The art and visual direction was inspired by futuristic science-fiction movies and space opera such as Star Wars, Matrix, Equilibrium and I, Robot, while the gameplay had some platformer elements mainly inspired by the Prince of Persia series and Role-Playing Game mechanics retained from games such as Mass Effect. It also seems that combats would have been similar to the Devil May Cry franchise.

In the end, Disney didn’t take the pitch, and the small team dedicated to Salient joined the one behind Turok as stated by Nathan Cheever:

It was the big main project they wanted to do. There was a small team working on it when they were folded into Turok to help production. Disney didn’t really want to do mature titles like Turok which probably contributed to some of the results.

During their existence, Propaganda Games had more cancelled projects that released ones. Alongside Salient, we can add the well known Turok 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned, but also a mysterious prototype based on Marvel‘s Secret Wars, using the Unreal Engine and let’s not forget that even their Turok game released in 2008 had contents that were cut in the end.

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Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online [PC – Cancelled]

Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online (formerly known as Warhammer 40,000: Ultima Segmentum) is a cancelled Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game developed from 2007 to 2012 by Vigil Games and published by THQ, exclusively for PC. It was based on the miniature wargame of the same name.

Originally announced in March 2007 by Eurogamer, some details were shared in May 2008 by PC Gamer, while interviewing Joe Madureira and David Adams:

DA: The fact that Warhammer 40,000 is science fiction and not fantasy goes a long way to distinguish the game from other Fantasy MMOs, such as Warhammer. Besides the obvious visual differences, the setting also affects many aspects of the gameplay.

First off, unlike a fantasy MMO, guns play a major role in the dynamic of combat. The gameplay will be much more intense, focusing a lot on fire-fights, tactics, cover and general brutality.

Secondly, the sheer scale of Warhammer 40,000 lends itself to experiences players have never seen in an MMO. The term “Battleground” takes on an entirely different meaning. Our battlegrounds will be more epic in scale, more intense, and more true to a game with the tagline, “In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war.” This doesn’t preclude the more intimate battlegrounds that other MMOs have, only that we will also be including more grand affairs, that give a player the sense that they are immersed in an actual Warhammer 40,000 battle.

PCG: When is this game set in the 40k universe?

DA: The game is set in the 41st millennium, well after the Horus Heresy and more contemporary to the tabletop game.

PCG: The gameplay for the tabletop game focuses on squad combat and tactics. How are you translating these elements to an MMO?

DA: To preface, let me say that this game will be an RPG. That needs to be said, because when someone thinks of a Warhammer 40,000 MMO there is definitely some question as to the style of play: will it be an FPS, an RTS, or some other genre altogether? Relic has the RTS angle covered with the awesome Dawn of War series – we are making an RPG.

However, that doesn’t mean that aspects of the tabletop don’t influence the style of play we present to the player. As I mentioned earlier, just the inclusion of ranged weapons as a dominant form of combat changes the basic underlying mechanics of a typical MMO. This leads to similar tactics that you might employ in the tabletop, such as cover, suppression fire, flanking, etc… If you think about it, “Group” is a just another way of saying “Squad”.

PCG: How many different races are playable?

DA: We aren’t ready to release a full list just yet. Rest assured, all of the races important to Warhammer 40,000 lore (not to mention the fans) will be represented. We want each and every race to have weight in the game world, and feel distinct. We won’t include a race if we can’t do them justice.

PCG: What kinds of NPCs will the player encounter?

DA: We want to build a Warhammer 40,000 world that extends beyond the battlefield. This will involve cities (of all scales, types and sizes), exotic alien temples, Chaos shrines, deserted battlefields, mysterious ruins, ancient structures, drifting hulks in space, etc… Warhammer 40,000 is a universe filled with mystery – where the unknown lurks around every corner, ready to kill you. (…)

As for NPCs, all these fantastic locations will be brought to life with a wide range of NPCs: Imperial citizens, Chaos sycophants, xenos (40k for alien), Daemons from the warp, Eldar craftsman, oge raders, ancient killing machines, etc… I could go on forever.The point is, the game will be filled with NPCs both ready to help you and kill you.

PCG: What kind of missions can the player look forward to playing solo or with parties?

JM: We’ll have a large number of solo, party, and PvP missions. We are not going to try to force grouping, as some games have tried to do – that’s just annoying. MMORPGs are about giving the player options, and that means letting them play the game how they want to. Though, while it will be possible to solo for the life of your character, you’re definitely going to want some buddies watching your back in some of the missions, especially the PvP ones. Yes – there will be PvP and bloodshed.

The game was officially revealed at E3 2010 with a trailer and some more details:

We hadn’t heard much about Vigil Games’ Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online at all since it was initially announced, but at E3 2010 we got a glimpse of the game in trailer form. On the show floor, we caught up with Vigil’s Joe Madureira to try and get a few extra details.

Unfortunately not much is being discussed at this point, so it sounds like the game is still pretty far off. Madureira traced the history of the game up to its current state. “We started a couple years back, we heard that THQ had the license of a Warhammer 40,000 MMO and we were like, woah, we have to do that. We can’t let any other studio do this. We have a lot of fans at the studio and we were all over it. Luckily Darksiders was looking pretty cool at the time and THQ agreed that we would do a good job on it. It uses a modified version of the Darksiders engine, which is one of the reasons it looks so good for an MMO.” He wasn’t willing to give a release date.

One thing you can tell from the trailer is that you’ll be fighting on foot and within vehicles, as Warhammer fans would expect. On the style of play, Madureira said “We want MMO players to be familiar with it because we want that accessibility. But obviously because of the race, weapons and vehicles and things like that, the back-and-forth trading blows kind of thing just doesn’t work very well for this [intellectual property]. There’s definitely a little bit more of an action vibe.” Specifics regarding combat were not given out. (…)

The overall structure of the game, we’re told, will be familiar to MMO gamers. “You’re going to have quests, you’re going to go out and kill stuff, you’re going to group up, you’re going to join larger scale battles. It’s structured very much like a traditional MMO. I think the Dawn of War series does an amazing job with tactical, squad-based stuff, [Relic’s console-based action game] Space Marine is an awesome, visceral action adventure like one dude kicking ass. For us it’s really more of an RPG. You’re living the life of this dude not for the life of a console adventure but for hopefully months and maybe even years. What do these guys do off the battlefield? What are their interactions like with other races and in various worlds? It really gives you a unique perspective because it’s a hero in that universe, not just a unit.”

After another trailer shared at GamesCom 2010, the title will not resurfaced until January 2012 when rumors about its cancellation were spread. THQ quickly denied this, as we can read on Gamesindustry:

Saints Row publisher THQ has shelved all projects scheduled for release in 2014 and has cancelled Vigil-developed MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online.

That’s according to games exec Kevin Dent, who suggests that the publisher is ultimately looking for a sale to save the troubled business.

Sources speaking to GamesIndustry.biz have suggested Dark Millennium Online, which was first announced in 2007, is currently being offered for sale to other companies. (…)

Industry chatter suggests THQ is looking for a sale. The company has a market cap of just over $45 million – trading in the company was at a new low on Friday of $0.65. CVs for established talent at the company are said to be increasing in the recruitment market. (…)

Update: THQ has denied the latest rumours and stated that there has been no decision made on the future of Dark Millennium Online.

In a statement given to press today, the company said: “THQ has not cancelled its 2014 line-up, and has not made any decisions regarding the planned MMO.”

“As part of the ongoing review of our business, we have made decisions to ensure that the company is strategically addressing the most attractive markets. As we have previously announced, we have dramatically reduced our commitment to the kids’ boxed games sector which leads to a significantly more focused release schedule moving forward.

“Our slate for calendar 2012 and beyond is focused on high-quality core games and continues to build our digital platform and business. We are excited for our pipeline of original and high-quality content along with our relationships with some of the best talent in the industry.”

Two months later, THQ decided to refocus the development of the project by dropping the Massively Mutliplayer Online part, according to Eurogamer:

THQ has “refocused” troubled MMO Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millenium. It’s now an “immersive single player and online multiplayer experience”, the publisher has announced.

Rumours circulated earlier this year that the game had been cancelled before THQ revealed it was looking for a business partner to help carry through its original vision for the title.

However, it’s now confirmed that the game’s scope is being scaled back and it’s going in a new direction.

“As previously announced, we have been actively looking for a business partner for the game as an MMO,” explained THQ CEO Brian Farrell.

“However, based on changing market dynamics and the additional investment required to complete the game as an MMO, we believe the right direction for us is to shift the title from an MMO to a premium experience with single and multiplayer gameplay, robust digital content and community features.

“Because we believe strongly in the high-quality and vast creative work that is in production, this is the right decision for both our portfolio and for gamers devoted to this powerful property.” (…)

As a result of the downsizing, a number of development staff have been laid off – 79 full-time employees at Vigil Games and 39 employees at Relic Entertainment.

Unfortunately, the game is claimed to be dead in December 2012 when THQ filed for bankruptcy. Kotaku was the first to detail those information:

When THQ filed for bankruptcy yesterday, they were very candid about their plans and even released a document with a chart on all of their upcoming games. That chart did not mention Warhammer: 40,000: Dark Millenium, a game that was supposed to be developed by a studio called Vigil (the company behind Darksiders). Earlier this year, THQ had announced that they were canceling the multiplayer elements of Dark Millenium and turning it into a single-player game.

I reached out to THQ’s PR folks for clarification. The resulting exchange was rather… baffling. I’ll post the whole thing so you can see for yourselves.

KOTAKU: Is Warhammer: 40,000: Dark Millenium still in production at Vigil?

PR: Development of that title ceased a while ago and that was announced in March 2012. No details of future titles from Vigil have been released at this time.

KOTAKU: In March, THQ announced that Warhammer: 40,000: Dark Millenium would be turned into a single-player game, not that development had ceased.

As [THQ CEO] Brian Farrell wrote in a press release at the time: “As previously announced, we have been actively looking for a business partner for the game as an MMO. However, based on changing market dynamics and the additional investment required to complete the game as an MMO, we believe the right direction for us is to shift the title from an MMO to a premium experience with single and multiplayer gameplay, robust digital content and community features.”

Are you telling me that wasn’t true? Development ceased entirely?

PR: Development of the DMO ceased, and beyond that we haven’t provided any updates on the status of the game or made any announcements of Vigil’s next project(s). We don’t have anything more to share at this point.

KOTAKU: Wait, didn’t you just tell me that development of the title ceased?

PR: I apologize, to clarify, development of the DMO ceased.

At this point, the PR representative CCed a second, internal THQ PR representative.

KOTAKU: What does DMO stand for?

THQ PR: Dark Millennium Online, our cancelled MMO.

KOTAKU: OK, so you’re saying the game was cancelled, not turned into a single-player game?

I just want to get this as clear as possible so our readers understand what’s going on and know whether or not to expect a single-player Dark Millenium game coming from Vigil at any point in the future.

THQ PR: I’m saying we have made any announcements about what the resulting game would be, if any. There’s nothing to share until Vigil is ready to announce its next project.

So what does this mean for the future of Warhammer: 40,000: Dark Millenium? My guess: nothing good. THQ’s bankruptcy filing documents say that Vigil is currently working on a game codenamed “Crawler.” We have no idea whether that’s referring to any sort of Warhammer game.

Vigil Games was shutdown a month later, after THQ didn’t manage to secure a new buyer for the company and their project codenamed Crawler during the auction, burying all chances of release for Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium.

In March 2014, VG24/7 got an interview of former THQ’s CEO Danny Bilson, speaking of various released and cancelled projects during the final years of the publisher. Many details about Dark Millennium were shared:

Vigil Games’ ill-fated Warhammer 40K MMO was in the works for about 18 months before Bilson joined THQ, he said. The executive was “a big supporter” of the project, which was a passion project led by former NCSoft staffer David Adams, and which Bilson told us was “really, really exciting”.

Unfortunately, the project kept going on the backburner, first for Darksiders and later for its sequel. But, Bilson said, by the time Darksiders 2 shipped Dark Millennium Online was “well on its way”.

“What happened was, in December of 2011 is sort of when the wheels came off for THQ, and there was a tremendous loss of money in the uDraw situation as well as some tough releases during that year. By the end of the year we had to make cuts,” he said.

Two factors contributed to DMO’s demise. The first is that MMO’s are tremendously expensive to develop. The second is that the MMO business had changed during the years of DMO’s incubation.

“I wanted to see what was happening with MMOs, because it was taking years to make and I was kind of anxiously waiting to see what would happen with the Star Wars MMO at EA, to see if the subscription model is over, or whether it would still work,” Bilson said.

THQ had been toying with several business models for the project but when Star Wars: The Old Republic “wasn’t instantly doing huge numbers and building towards World of Warcraft“, the publisher decided to pull out of the MMO space.

“We knew that weren’t going to be able to go subscription, and then we lost a ton of cash that year. There was no way we could gamble on the big bet like an MMO,” Bilson mourned.

Vigil wasn’t ready to give up; THQ announced the project was to be reworked as a multiplayer RPG.

“I think we were calling it Inquisitor; I can’t remember for sure. They started to design a game that was going to either be free-to-play or pretty low priced point of entry, that was basically going to be a digital PC title with lots of add-on content,” Bilson said.

“We were going to take some of the great stuff they had and redesign it. I remember some things that I really loved, like each player would have their own capital ship and your friends could have quarters on it. You collected all your stuff from your adventures on your ship, and you could customise it.

“Dark Millennium Online became much more like a Borderlands kind of game. It was a four-player co-op jump-in jump out, go on these missions with your friends. I was really excited about that. We felt we could finish that game and ship it within that year, which would have been summer of 2013. It would have been last summer.”

But in the last month of Bilson’s time at THQ, he found himself at loggerheads with some of his colleagues, who wanted the project to be scrapped altogether.

“They felt like, ‘Well, we wrote it off; we cancelled the game; we wrote off the investment; we don’t wanna invest any more in it.’ We had some really heated conversations over it. But ultimately I respectfully did what my boss and some of my partners wanted which was to let it go completely,” he said.

“There was a lot of game let go there that was pretty great. The combat system was really fun; it was fast, it was exciting. The art was really great, the world was coming along. I thought it had tremendous potential.

“I was really disappointed when that second iteration that we were calling Inquisitor got cancelled. That was on a Friday, and Monday – I believe the next work day – I left THQ.”

Bilson’s regret was almost palpable, but he admitted that the project just “didn’t make sense” as an expensive MMO.

“I think that business was over, but I thought the refactoring of it did make sense and that was what I was disappointed about. I think that we, as a team, probably held on to that longer than we should have,” he said.

“In the state that we were in, if that could really hit, it could change the company. Our models weren’t crazy, it had to just work and it could really have helped our company. Brian Farrell and myself and some of the other execs probably held on to that longer than we should in the hopes that it would be a big hit for us.

“But what the team built down in Austin was really exciting and I was very inspired by it. During the whole four and a half years I was there I felt the content they were building was really excellent.”

Since then the Warhammer 40,000 license was used in other video games, with, for instance, the future release of Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine 2, set for the 9th September of 2024, among others.

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Quark (Quantic Dream) [Dreamcast – Cancelled]

Quark is a cancelled action adventure game that was in development by Quantic Dream for the Dreamcast around 2000-2001.

In this game, player would take the role of Waki and his sister Una, two supernatural beings who can travel from one universe to another, called Travelers. Una, a so-called orphan, lives in a half-modern, half-Victorian London, and Waki ​​in Quark’s fantasy world. Both having to prevent Sir John B. Konrad, a former Traveler, and his army of Krolls, creatures from another dimension, from condemning the different universes to the Void, and thus allowing Konrad to become the sole god of all the universes. To do this, Waki ​​and Una are helped by various animals with specific powers, allowing them to solve puzzles and fight enemies. Communicating only through their dreams, Waki’s actions will have an impact on the universe in which Una evolves, and vice versa.

The title was revealed in August 2000, in issue #11 of Dreamcast Monthly. Here is what we could read:

The two heroes will be helped in their voyage by a collection of animals with specific talents. You can control each one of these animals to execute specific actions. The really intriguing facet of the game is that neither the brother nor the sister know of each others true existence – only through drams about each others events – so the player will take on the role of both characters, interact and take on their role when appropriate. If you find you’re in a fix with one character you can change form which may change events of the other. Each will have their own set of tasks, which the animals will undertake. Una for instance has a bird, dog, and a monkey, while Waki has strange alien animals that are indigenous to Quark, all with their special powers. (…) The animals you work with have many powers and come in different forms, many of which give the game a really open look. Spells producing special effects and creatures of massive complexity give this game a broad technology focus for the developers to devise original and stunning events. Mixing fantasy with a fairytale world, along with RPG elements, makes for an exciting mix and complete freedom within the huge 3D worlds will be on offer. Other strong selling points for the game are its non-linear scenarios and the action, which means the player can move, fight and have endless moves, with real-time combat being one of the central ingredients.

Issue #69 from September 2000 of NextGen Magazine, for its part, added:

(…) The gameplay itself is best described as Zelda-esque. While puzzle-solving, action, and combat are standard, the most interesting new twist is how players must explore both worlds via both characters in order to solve puzzles. “The whole game is about cross-overs,” says David Cage. “The two worlds are linked. Some sets or characters look similar in both worlds.” For example, players may discover two similar-looking spots or characters in each of the different worlds. When you solve a puzzle in one world, you may be given the vital clue you needed to solve the similar puzzle in the other.

Players might also be surprised to discover some Banjo-Kazooie-style action sequences, as the characters are able to take control of a menagerie of animals that accompany them on their adventures. “These animals are not just tools or vehicles that can be used and left,” explains Cage. “They are living beings with their own skills and personalities. For us, finding the best controls for each one is the hardest part since they must be intuitive and as common as possible. We don’t want the player to learn different controls for six animals, but you can’t move Una’s bird in the same way as Waki’s giant rabbit.”

Unfortunately, after those presentations, Quark totally vanished without a trace, and was cancelled alongside numerous other projects from Quantic Dream, such as (b)Last and Omikron 2. In March 2023, Sega Dreamcast Info briefly revealed on Twitter/X that Quark was supposed to simply be a tech demo, according to their own researchs. Nearly a year later, in January 2024, they revealed that a making-of with lots of testimonials from Quantic Dream’s developers is on its way.

Article by Daniel Nicaise

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The Vatz (Beenox) [PC/Xbox – Cancelled]

The Vatz is a cancelled science-fiction post-apocalyptic/horror Third-Person action/Role-Playing hybrid game developed around 2001-2002 by Beenox Inc., for the PC and Xbox systems.

The game takes place in the distant future where a war between humanity and vampires is won by the latter, enslaving humans. Living now in cities shrouded by artificial fog, players take on the role of Zakk, a human slave, in the city called The Vatz, who joins the rebellion in order to exterminate all vampires, and reconquer the planet. Zakk has the power to possess certain types of vampires, called receptacles. He can control 3 different ones, each with their own abilities in terms of movements and combos, whether in melee combat or with weapons.

The title was unveiled in April 2002, before E3, and promoted Beenox’ in-house engine Goliath:

Quebec-based game developer Beenox has announced that it will demonstrate The Vatz, its upcoming action strategy game, at the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles next month. The game is set in a sci-fi universe, and it incorporates action, puzzle, strategy, and role-playing elements. Beenox developed a new 3D engine, Goliath, specifically for the game. The engine features an advanced physics system, real-time shadows and lighting, customizable visual effects, and level-of-detail rendering. It also supports animation interpolation, morphing, and blending, as well as a number of video-card-specific features and optimizations such as vertex and pixel shaders.

More could be read on MacWorld:

While the technology demo Beenox will show at E3 next month runs only on Windows, Beenox founder and president Dominique ‘Dee’ Brown explained to MacCentral that the Goliath technology has been created to support multiple platforms.

“The engine could be used to create Macintosh games,” Brown said. “That really depends on whether or not the publisher of the game wants it for the Macintosh market.”

Details are still sketchy on The VATZ, but Beenox describes the game as featuring “intense 3rd-person game play and multiple twisted storylines.” (…)

“In the past several months, we put the best we got in developing a 3D engine that would have everything a gamer may expect and more: Goliath was born,” said Brown.

After that, The Vatz disappeared without any information, and Beenox decided to focus on Windows and Macintosh ports of licensed games for the publisher Activision. It was implied that The Vatz was cancelled due to a lack of publishers interested in the project.

In September 2021, an Xbox prototype dated from October 2002 was leaked by Hidden Palace and can be downloaded here.

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