News on Beta & Cancelled Games

Fate (Airtight Games) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

Airtight Games was a development studio founded in 2004, formed by former members of FASA Studio, Will Vinton Studios and Microsoft. Between 2010 and 2011 the team was working on a new, unannounced AAA action adventure project titled “Fate”, possibly to be published by Square Enix or another unknown japanese publisher.

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As we can read on Kotaku:

“Rather, this Square Enix game seems to be Airtight’s primary project – an “unannounced AAA title” it has been developing since the completion of work on Dark Void. The company’s website describes this project as “another ambitious AAA title in a genre that is both unique and refreshingly unexplored”.

Given the development timeline, Airtight’s current AAA effort is likely a continuation of a project called Fate, a post-Dark Void project for an unnamed Japanese publisher, which was temporarily placed on hold in April 2011 so that work on the game “could be reassessed”. That decision resulted in much of the team working on Fate being let go. Assets from the time of the developmental pause suggested an aesthetic influence from BioShock, but the game has likely changed considerably since then.”

Only a single logo for this cancelled project was shared by the team. As we can read on Engaged:

“Aside from a job listing popping up late in the year for “several AAA titles,” and the high-profile hire of Portal lead Kim Swift just before Dark Void‘s launch, the studio kept mum all the way until this past summer. […]

“There are currently two projects at Airtight: ours, and another unannounced project,” Swift told me during a pre-New York Comic Con preview for Square’s titles. “I can’t speak to what the game is,” she added (unsurprisingly).”

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Unfortunately there aren’t any more details about what kind of game Fate was. Some years later the project or at least the collaboration with Square Enix was restarted, with heavy changes on its original concept. Somehow the “Fate project” morphed into “Murdered: Soul Suspect”. As we can read on Kotaku:

“They used to call this game Fate (Studer even did by accident a couple of times during the demo). It’s the adventure of a detective named Ronan O’Connor. He’s been killed at the start of the game after poking his way through a house in the spooky American town of Salem. A mysterious figure throws him out of a three-story window onto the pavement below and then shoots him for good measure.”

We tried to get in contact with former Airtight Games developers to preserve more info on their lost game, but without luck. If you know someone who worked on Fate, please let us know!

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Dinosaur Zoo (Dogfish) [PS2 – Cancelled]

Dogfish Entertainment was a rather obscure studio established in October 2000, created by former employees of Bullfrog Productions (Syndicate Wars, Dungeon Keeper 2, Dark Omen). The team worked on many different prototypes, trying to pitch their ideas to publishers. One of these concepts was for a park management game, kind of like a Jurassic Park Sim titled “Dinosaur Zoo“, which around 2001 was green-lighted by Sony as a first-party game, along with another game titled “Horrorville“.

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A prototype and 3D engine were created for the game, but it was still in very early development when it was canned because Blue Tongue Entertainment and Vivendi Universal Games bought the official license to develop a “Jurassic Park Simulator”, later released as Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for PS2, Xbox and PC. Dogfish though their original game would not be able to compete against the “real” dinosaur zoo IP.

In 2002 Sony decided to cut their collaboration with Dogfish and the company had to close down. Developers went to other companies in the Guildford area, such studios as Big Blue Box, Small Rockets and Lionhead. Every Dogfish prototype is now lost forever, with not much saved from oblivion.

Thanks to Mogens for the contribution!

Ochanoma Densetsu [SNES – Cancelled]

Ochanoma Densetsu (お茶の間伝説) is a cancelled RPG / board game hybrid that was in development for the Super Famicom (SNES) and would have been published by Information Global Service. There are basically no details about what the game was going to be like, but an advertisement announcing the game was published in an old IGS catalog.

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By looking at the two, tiny screenshots featured in this scan it seems it could have been a multiplayer board-RPG, somehow similar to the Dokapon series. Japanese translation says it supported multiplayer mode up to 4 players at the same time, using a SNES multitap.

Maybe one day we could find more images or information still hidden away in other forgotten japanese magazines. Fingers crossed!

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

Demon Hunter [GBA – Cancelled]

Demon Hunter is a cancelled action RPG in the vein of Diablo, that was in development for Game Boy Advance by Independent Arts Software in 2002. The team planned 8 huge areas to explore, each one divided into several procedurally generated sub-levels so you had a different layout every time you would play.

As we can read in an old preview by IGN:

“Even though the game is designed with an ending in mind, players can continue to dungeon-hack through the areas after the quests have been complete, fighting increasingly difficult enemies the more advanced the players’ abilities become.

Like in most RPGs, players level-up their character as they battle through the different areas, earning experience points with every death. The game also features a fog-of-war type element used in real-time strategy games, limiting the player’s visibility so that he cannot see hazards that are coming from far ahead or behind certain objects.”

At the time Demon Hunter still did not have a publisher, so we can assume they never found one and the project was quietly cancelled, forgotten by everyone.

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Star Wars Fighting Game (Studio Gigante) [Xbox – Cancelled]

Studio Gigante was a small team established in 2000 by several former developers of Midway’s popular Mortal Kombat fighting game series. They were able to sign a contract with Microsoft to develop an exclusive “Mortal Kombat Killer” titled Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus. Unfortunately the game received mixed reviews and in 2005 the studio closed down, after releasing their second Xbox exclusive for THQ: WWE WrestleMania 21.

As we can read on an interview made by Polygon with Studio Gigante co-founder Josh Tsui, their team also pitched a (never released) Star Wars fighting game. They develop a tech demo with Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker fighting each other:

“Gigante was ready to roll onto a proper Tao Feng sequel, and Microsoft wanted it – but the proposed deal gave the team pause, as it didn’t quite offer the resources desired to pull off the more elaborate design, which featured wildly destructible stages. Simultaneously, THQ swooped in with an offer to develop WWE Wrestlemania 21 – a richer contract that could not only help build up the studio further, but possibly also secure a lucrative annual franchise. After much agonizing, the studio principals opted for THQ’s deal, leaving Tao Feng 2 dead in the water.

“Our team was completely crestfallen by that,” says Tsui. “We made the best of it; it’s not like we didn’t work our hearts out,” says David Michicich, another Studio Gigante principal and longtime Tsui associate. “But that was my first experience where I’m working on something that I’m enjoying, but my heart wasn’t into it. We should have found a way to do both deals.” Michicich says exclusivity deals from both publishers prevented such a move.

Not only did the team lose its passion project, but the WWE deal backfired. An incomplete build of the game was accidentally pressed and released, leading to backlash and an eventual recall and revised release. Relations between Gigante and THQ had already soured prior to release, and the poor reaction was the final nail in the coffin.

The Xbox series was dead, and the studio was running out of money. Using a proprietary engine, Gigante prototyped potential Kill Bill and Star Wars fighting games and sought new projects, but decisions weren’t being made quickly enough. By July 2005, just three months after Wrestlemania 21 shipped, the studio closed its doors.”

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