As far as we know Widescreen Games’ Paparazzi was never officially announced, and only a single image with a 3D model made for the game is preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost game. We can assume players would have to take photos of celebrities, then sell them to tabloids.
If you know someone who worked on this game and could help saving more details or screenshots, please let us know!
Hab-12 is a cancelled, third-person action-adventure game in-development at Ratloop from 1998 to 1999. The company was founded by 5 people, one of which being Lucas Pope, who would go on to make Papers Please and Return of the Obra Dinn. Ratloop started out making the full-conversion Quake mod Malice while under the name Team Epochalypse, then moved on to something much more ambitious.
Hab-12 was to be their next game, a sci-fi adventure about surviving various hostile environments. A documentary about the game was released on Youtube by Massimiliano Camassa discussing many aspects of the game and it’s development. Camassa was given access to many development materials including the design document and 2 demos of the game, one from 1998 and the other from 1999
Hab-12’s gameplay would have been a mix of classic 2D adventure games, like the Monkey Island series, and a more traditional third person shooter. Camassa’s documentary also discusses how media and the public viewed the game:
“Tomb Raider was the game most people thought of upon hearing that Hab-12 was an action adventure game. Yet, Hab-12 is a slower-paced, cinematic, puzzle-based adventure game experience. The demo is highly scripted and after playing the demo and studying the game design document the rest of the game would likely have a similar game structure.”
Like many adventure contemporary to Hab-12, puzzles were a major part of the demos, even starting with one. Miray, the game’s protagonist, would be stuck in a venus flytrap-like plant and would have to swing from side-to-side to escape. Other puzzles in the demos included having to distract monsters to sneak around and maneuvering around a giant slug alien’s breath to survive.
Cassan’s documentary reveals how Ratloop intended to make Hab-12’s plot stand out. To achieve this, the devs intended to focus the game’s story on the ever-changing relationship between the down-to-earth Miray and the outlandish biological A.I PAX. After a cataclysmic event occurs on board The Sentient, a research ship, Miray would have to make his way through all 12 habitats (or Habs) in order to escape. The documentary summarizes the game’s story with a quote:
“Hab-12 is all about man vs. wild, but also a remarkable story about a normal guy and an unhinged bio-computer.”
The games levels were intended to take place acrossthe 12 habitations, with each hab featuring a different ecosystem for Miray to overcome. Revealed in screenshots and demos were an autumn-like red forest, an icy cave system, a swampy area with gigantic trees, a volcanic area, and more. The variety in level design was quite impressive for the era, and Miray was to have several costume changes to reflect the surroundings. These levels were also planned to be intensely detailed and impressive, the documentary even shows how amazed publications were with the red forest level, saying “Every leaf is rendered. Every damned one. That’s how good the graphics engine is.”
Despite the game impressing media outlets with its graphics and gameplay, the project failed to find any publishers. Hab-12’s ambition, along with Ratloop’s relative inexperience at the time, was what ultimately killed the project. The project was planned to have a sequel and a novel adaptation written by a member of the team. Ratloop now exists as 3 companies, Ratloop inc, Ratloop Asia, and Ratloop Games Canada. Ratloop Canada is currently working on the turn-based FPS shooter Lemnis Gate.
Article by Alex Cutler, thanks to Jackgrimm99 for the contribution
Siren in the Maelstrom is a cancelled fantasy adventure that was in development by Silicon Knights in the late ‘00s, but never officially announced. The title of this lost project was leaked online in different ways, when Canada Telefilm (an organization that lists projects approved for government grants) announced they would invest into Silicon Knights for their new game “Siren in the Maelstrom”. As we predicted at the time, unfortunately the game was never released.
“On May 2012 Epic Games defeated Silicon Knights‘ lawsuit (opened in July 2007) and won its counter-suit for $4.45 million on grounds of copyright infringement. Silicon Knights was directed by the court to destroy all game code derived from Unreal Engine 3 and to permit Epic Games access to the company’s servers and other devices to ensure these items have been removed. In addition, the studio was instructed to recall and destroy all unsold retail copies of games built with Unreal Engine 3 code, including Too Human, X-Men Destiny, The Sandman, The Box / Ritualyst, and Siren in the Maelstrom.”
Unfortunately the team never showed any official screenshot from the game, but some concept art is preserved in this page, to remember the existence of this lost project.
In May 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights closed their office and filed for bankruptcy. As far as we know, files related to Siren in the Maelstrom had to be deleted, so it could already have been lost forever. As Epic Games had access to Silicon Knights’ server, someone may have saved parts of their cancelled games. We can only hope one day someone could be able to share more screenshots, footage or details from these projects.
If you know someone who worked at Silicon Knights on Siren in the Maelstrom and may help us to save something more from the game, please let us know.
In 2008 a former developer shared some details about this canned project on CG Society:
“So… this image is 5 years old, low poly realtime model created for a project that could have been. No photos were used in the creation of the textures and the render was not retouched.
This was done at Collective Studios, now known as Double Helix, sometime after Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb shipped. Hoping to work on another game, we did some R & D for a possible sequel. New, polished character models were created and the Indiana Jones model completely redone.
There was an amazing prototype that was up and running with updated gameplay, but unfortunately this project never happened. Probably could have been the greatest Indy game ever. Unfortunately due to things out of the hands of the studio and surprisingly, even the publisher, nothing came about.”
“Six or seven years back, I won’t say who I was working for, but we were working on an Indiana Jones trilogy game based on the first three movies,” says Rex Dickson, lead single-player level designer at Kaos Studios (Homefront). “That game ended up not coming out for whatever reason — I can go on a long diatribe about why — but it was just really cool, because we had the full Hovitos temple built out with the rolling boulder, and it was all awesome. That would’ve been Xbox/PS2 — that generation.”
If you know someone who worked on this lost game and could help preserve even more screenshots or footage, please let us know!
These drawings were noted as being used for pre-production of Retro Studios’ Sheik Zelda project between 2005 and 2008 (the same artist also worked on Metroid Prime 3: Corruption and Donkey Kong Country Returns), so we can assume it could have been planned to be released on Nintendo Wii or WiiU. As we can read on their original page:
“Old storage hard-drive diving! (2005 – 2008) More stuff from a long lost cancelled Zelda (Sheik) action/jrpg that never went beyond pre-production. Really want to return to these some day to finish a few. Zelda games have wacky weird stuff, and this game was setting out to be ten times weirder.”
“Fun pre-pre-pre-production origin story of the Master Sword. Within the bad ending of “Ocarina of Time” exploring the last male Sheik’s (after a genocidal ethnic-cleansing) journey transforming into the Master Sword. All while the Dark Gerudo are giving their 100 year birth to Gannon.”
“Speaking to IGN, ex-Retro Studios concept artist Sammy Hall explained that both games were in pre-production when cancelled, and “I doubt many at Nintendo proper saw much of any of this stuff. I was mostly put into a room like Milton from Office Space and tasked to brainstorm between other projects.”
Unfortunately today some of these fascinating Zelda artworks seem to have been lost, as other websites did not save them all. We’d like to preserve them in the gallery below, to remember the existence of this lost video game. If you saved concept art from Retro Studios’ Zelda that are missing from this page, please let us know in the comments below or by email!
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