News on Beta & Cancelled Games

John Carpenter’s Psychopath [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Psychopath is a cancelled first person adventure that was initially in development around 2004 – 2005 by John Woo’s video games studio Tiger Hill Entertainment (founded with Woo’s partners Terence Chang and Brad Foxhoven), planned to be released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game’s protagonist was an ex-CIA operative called back from an early retirement to stop a serial killer, but during the adventure he would start questioning his own sanity.

Sometime in 2005 John Woo decided to cut their video game division, abandoning most of their in-development projects (Psychopath, Heat, Sundown, Demonik, Shadowclan, Sinner, Executive Assistant, Burglar) and keeping their Stranglehold IP (later released in 2007 with help from Midway). Brad Foxhoven took the remaining assets / game pitches and started a new company with former Tiger Hill creative director David Wohl. The new studio was named “Titan Productions” and they officially announced Psychopath at E3 2005, as we can read on IGN:

“Titan Productions released the first details of its upcoming first-person action game Psychopath, slated for release on upcoming next-gen platforms. The game was developed in collaboration with acclaimed film director, John Carpenter, who offered his cinematic direction and serves as a significant authority for the in-game character designs. […] According to Titan’s announcement, Todd Farmer screenwriter talents have also been sought as a key team member to write for the game and upcoming film with Carpenter.”

John Carpenter’s name was added to Psychopath when the game was still under development at Tiger Hill, during their pitching phase to find both a developer and a publisher. As we can read on Kotaku:

Todd Farmer said the first developer Tiger Hill pitched Psychopath to was People Can Fly, who passed because they wanted to focus on a sequel to Painkiller. Soon after, Sega passed on the game, which is apparently “exactly what [Tiger Hill and Farmer] wanted to happen,” so they could have latitude in finding partners for the game, and develop a film version simultaneously. Thereafter, Konami showed interest, but talks ultimately fell apart.

Tiger Hill thought they could generate more interest in the property from game publishers and film studios if they attached a major name to the project, and Farmer opted for John Carpenter. And Carpenter officially signed on board by March 2005.”

Carpenter talked about Psychopath in an interview with Gamespot in October 2005:

“GS: Psychopath is going to be both a game and a movie. Are you making the movie and turning it into a game or making the game and turning it into a movie?

JC: It’s going to be a game first.”

Carpenter would have mostly helped with direction of Psychopath’s game cutscenes, while working on the following movie if the project would have been green-lighted and founded by a major movie-studio. As we can read on Variety:

“Carpenter will oversee the game and direct its produced scenes and is attached to helm and co-write the film, along with Todd Farmer (“Jason X”).”

In the end Psychopath was mostly a game conceived by Tiger Hill Entertainment, which just wanted to find a popular director name to put on their title, a team of developers to realize their idea and a publisher to get money from. By what we were able to find during our research, the project stalled in early development and probably they never went did much more than a design document with concept artwork.

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Ralphadia (Taito) [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Ralphadia is a cancelled JRPG that was planned by Taito for the Nintendo Famicom / NES, around 1992. This is another forgotten NES game with not much information online: Akamid83 found a small preview for the game in an old promotional leaflet for in-development Famicom and shared a photo on Twitter.

Ralphadia-Taito-JRPG-NES-Famicom-Cancelled

Heimao, who notified us about the photo, wrote “It is said that it was a novel mechanism in which the enemy was placed 360 degrees around the player in the battle”. By looking at these tiny screenshots it seems Ralphadia had a strange overworld map, with a top-down perspective on the bottom of the screen and a side-scrolling scenario at the top.

There are also 2 screenshots showing cities, were the game kept its side-scrolling view. Combat was “first-person turn-based”, similar to Dragon Quest, but you may have been able to rotate the “first person” camera around to see more enemies all around your protagonists.

That’s it all for now: will we ever see something else from this lost Famicom RPG? As it often happens with these obscure, unreleased Japanese games from the ’90s, probably not. If you can read Japanese and see more interesting details written in the leaflet photo, let us know in the comments below!

3 Games That Spent Years in Development Limbo

Even though it usually involves a large combination of skilled teams working together as fast as they can, developing a blockbuster-level videogame can take at least five years on average, according to a Quora response from a freelance video game programmer, Mike Prinke.

He states that creating the various textures and character interactions that you see during gameplay is an incredibly time-consuming process with a lot of trial and error. Debugging faulty code can also cause a giant domino effect, potentially stalling your eagerly anticipated game release, along with all the other complex factors involved.

Without further ado, here’s our list of games that have taken many years to develop:

1. Too Human – 9 years

In our article on ‘Too Human: The Game That Will Never Be’, we explored the evolution of this third-party action “cyberpunk-horror” RPG.

Initially, it was in development for the PlayStation system when it was announced in 1999 but was eventually moved to the Nintendo GameCube system in 2000, then finally to the Xbox 360 in 2005. This lengthy release time is mostly attributed to changes in partnership agreements and the very controversial code theft from Epic Games by Silicon Knights. If you’re curious, it should still be available to download on the Xbox game store for free (as of July 2019), according to a Forbes article on ‘The Bizarre Story Behind ‘Too Human’ — The Game That Killed Silicon Knights’.

2. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty – 7 years

StarCraft II is one of the games credited by the community to contribute to the prolific rise of esports. Why did this game take so long to develop despite the success of its predecessor? For one, an article by Variety on StarCraft II and the esports industry recalls how a 2009 interview reported that the game would no longer include local area network (LAN) support and operate on a new platform. This was met with uproar from many fans, with a survey reporting 83 percent of respondents planned to spam Amazon with one-star ratings until it was reinstalled. Eventually, the game was released in 2010 after spending seven long years in development, also due to the temporary reassignment of Blizzard’s resources to the World of Warcraft franchise.

At the height of its popularity, players on a GameFaqs message board couldn’t help but compare StarCraft II to Age of Empires III, the latest iteration of a series of critically acclaimed real-time strategy (RTS) video games that focus on several historical events. Both games are still being played to this day, but it looks like Blizzard has put StarCraft on the backburner, with no news on a potential StarCraft III. Meanwhile, HP reports that Age of Empires IV is already in the works, 13 years after the last game was released. It’s been over two years since Age of Empires IV was announced, so we’ll see how long it takes the devs to finish that one.

3. Final Fantasy XV – 10 years

A highly successful franchise, Final Fantasy’s fifteenth iteration, unfortunately, spent a decade in development. It was initially introduced in 2006, but after many years of silence, the lack of updates, a title change, a director change, and the platform change, one of the Final Fantasy XV designers blamed its lengthy release on the development team, according to an article on Inquisitr on why it took 10 years. The designer Roberto Ferrari (who has since left the development team) referred to the team as highly disorganized, with a staff of “200 suffering souls.” The game’s story changed every three months or so requiring constant changes in terms of its animation. The good news is that its 2016 release has been received relatively well by fans, currently being rated at 81 percent on Metacritic and ranking 8.2 out of 10 on IGN.

Although they’ve spent almost a decade (or a whole decade) in development, many fans would say that these releases are worth the wait. Anticipation can make the heart grow fonder, and in the world of video games, there’s always something new to play in the meantime to keep the wait from becoming too painful.

And as we know well, being release late it’s always better than being cancelled and lost forever.

Cloak: the Naked Mind (Sierra) [Cancelled – PC]

Cloak: The Naked Mind is a cancelled adventure game that was in development by Sierra Entertainment around 19961997, to be published on Windows 95 PC. It was conceived as an ambitious (for its time) spy-fiction, sci-fi adventure, mixing thriller investigations with space-mind-travels.

You would have been able to project your consciousness into a robot on an alien planet to resolve many different situations at the same time, using its multitasking skills. Some more information can be found in old gaming magazines, such as Interaction Magazine (holiday 1996 and fall 1996 issues):

“Imagine an alien race with telepathic  powers so strong that none of your secrets can remain hidden  from their probing. You’ll find them in Cloak: The Naked Mind, a new  kind of adventure game coming from Sierra in early 1997.”

“With Cloak, Sierra has  taken its trademarked adventure game interface  and revamped it from the ground up. Everything you see and do is completely new, seamless, and  phenomenally lifelike. The point of view is first-person — through your character’s eyes — with breathtaking,  animated sequences and cutaways. Game play and puz- zles are integrated into a seamless experience. And the story reaches beyond adven-  ture into the realms of science fiction and spy thriller.”

“In Cloak, you take the role     of a secret agent on the planet Altopia.  You’ve been strapped into a telepres- ence pod — a kind of virtual reality  environment — and linked to a highly developed, bipedal robot code- named Cloak.   After you’ve bonding to the Cloak, the robot is transported to a trading world where humans and the mysteri-  ous, alien Bulbs interact to trade human-manufactured robots for Bulb technology. There, you must find a way to the Bulb’s forbidden home planet,  where no flesh-and-blood aliens are allowed. Your mission is to delve into their mysterious way of life and discov- er if they are building a secret weapon  to use against humankind.”

“The Bulbs can read any biological  mind. Fortunately, they cannot read your mental signature inside the Cloak     robot. Because you will stay bonded to the Cloak until your mission is complete,  you are safe as long as you stay undis- covered. Remember that if the robot is destroyed, there will be no way to  retrieve your consciousness. You will be — in every sense of the word — dead.”

“The Cloak robot you occupy is an  extraordinary device that not only conceals your consciousness, but  contains tools that give you super- human abilities. Bipedal and roughly humanoid,  this type of robot is highly valued by the Bulbs both for its versatility and for command over  other robots. Operating its many sensors and attached devices allows you to do several things at once,  such as monitoring a security camera you planted in an abandoned ore mine, while using your command influence  to interrogate a robot bartender.”

“Cloak pioneers  new game technolo-  gy that takes advantage of the  Windows 95 multi- threading technique Multi-threading is a clever 32-bit way to make a computer do many dif-  ferent things at once, so you can play one aspect of the title while another loads. There is no waiting on game play.  (Utah sports an exciting new triple- window interface that lets you engage in three distinct activities at once. You can, for instance, spy through a  camera you’ve planted while explor- ing the abandoned mines of Baccos and consulting a map.”

Gameplay could have been quite interesting with these multitasking puzzles, and by reading previews it sounds like Sierra had at least a playable prototype in their hands. We hope one day someone could find a copy and share it online to be preserved by fans.

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Seeker (Headstrong Games) [Cancelled – PC, PS4, Xbox One]

Seeker is a cancelled top-down action RPG somehow similar to a sci-fi Diablo, that was in development in 2014 – 2015 for PC and unannounced consoles (possibly PS4 and Xbox One) by Headstrong Games. The project was officially announced in February 2015 on their blog, but the game soon vanished with no explanations.

“We’re very proud to announce our new game, Seeker. It’s an action RPG set in space with lots of tech, aliens, plasma weapons and, of course, loot! It’s been a manic few weeks getting it ready to show at GDC but we’re finally there and it feels good to be heading out to the show with something we really believe in. There’s a video and some screen shots here to give you an idea of the game-play and setting. We’ll be updating the blog regularly with more info as the development progresses.

Choose the Class that suits your style. Customise your character, Drone and Starship as you progress. Each mission draws you further into unknown star systems. Fight your way through crystal caverns, alien hives, ruined starships and robotic planets. Every destination is an opportunity to salvage alien artefacts, precious minerals and weaponry. Swept up in an epic saga, you will be called upon to occupy a pivotal role in the fate of the galaxy.”

Headstrong were mostly known for their Art Academy series and Battalion Wars series published by Nintendo, but around 2017 Kuju Entertainment (their parent company) dissolved the team to incorporate their employees directly into Kuju.

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