Raiko is a cancelled action RPG that was in development by Flextech between 1996 and 1998, planned to be published by Blizzard Entertainment for PC. The game was conceived as a “3D Diablo with samurai”. At the time Raiko was not officially announced by Blizzard, but its name was later shown in a list of cancelled games they talked about at DICE 2008. In 2017 former Flextech founder and developer Felix Kupis published a few screenshots of their Raiko prototype on Linkedin:
“Raiko was a Diablo style game with a 3D engine set in ancient Japan. Even though the game got cancelled for various reasons, we did manage to have a working 3D engine, RPG system and a level editor. I can still run the engine today almost 20 years later on windows 10. Here are some screenshots from March 1998.”
Just a year before we had the pleasure to interview Felix for our book “Video Games You Will Never Play”, when he shared some of his memories working on Raiko:
“As a fan of Diablo style games and Asian folklore I wanted to make a game that was essentially a 3D Samurai Diablo. This was built on a 3D engine but was played from a similar view to Diablo. You could turn the camera around to see more of the environment and the game was coming along but got cut when Vivendi bought Blizzard.
Myself and my crew of a couple people that did the work on the game traveled down to E3 when it was held in Atlanta and set up a meeting with Alan Adham and Bill Roper on this game demo we made for Raiko. I got to know Alan Adham when I told him my story of basically being kicked out early from Westwood (I was leaving after finishing Red Alert) for wearing a Blizzard shirt. At that time the heads of Westwood hated Blizzard for “stealing” their RTS ideas so after wearing the shirt to piss off my boss I got the boot early. Anyway I was a good in with Mr. Adham and got me the meeting at E3, it was actually the very last meeting of the show for Blizzard. After looking at our demo I remember Alan and Bill Roper both had a huge smile on their face and told us this is the game we have been looking for.”
“After Raiko got cancelled, Blizzard kept all the rights to it so we were basically looking for a new project before we ran out of funding. We pitched Disposable Heroes to a bunch of publishers including GT interactive, Atari, and some others. Disposable Heroes was basically Halo way before Halo but nobody would give us the funding for the game before money ran out and we had to shut down Flextech. I still have the original documents for Disposable Heroes, it’s really funny reading them now and looking at how close it was to Halo.”
It seems the game was playable at E3 1998, but we were not able to find any footage yet. Unfortunately there are no details about what happened to the project, it just vanished and then forgotten by everyone. We can speculate gameplay was not food enough to rival Diablo and Activision just decided to kill the project.
If you can find more screenshots or videos from this lost game, please let us know!
“Yes, we developed LOG1 as an indie game, without any funding (they didn’t give us a contract until the game was almost finished). Then when it sold well, we got contracts immediately for LOG2. And there’s a whole giant story on how we only got half the funding we should have on LOG2, but someday I’ll be writing a book and telling all the business deal secrets.”
“Ok, so there is interest in LOG4! If we did the Indie Go Go over the Summer, could you guys help point people to the page so we could get the support we need? I really think from the interest posted in just a few hours, this really could work.”
“We’re trying a few 2D concepts and mockups will follow soon. Mandi will create a few different sprite styles soon. Keep in mind this was her first quick mockup only!”
“We’d like to keep gameplay almost the same, but finish balancing the games properly this time. Also, Go Go backers will be able to vote on certain aspects of the game style.”
It seems Webfoot Technologies were not able to find a publisher interested in funding their new DBZ project. They hinted at a possible crowdfunding campaign, but it would have been quite hard to do something like that unofficially using the Dragon Ball IP. After drawing some concepts, 2D and 3D mockups, The Legacy of Goku 4 had to be canned (at least for now).
Starfall is a cancelled loot-shooter RPG that was in development around 2005 – 2006 by Hyboreal Games (later known as UI Pacific), a forgotten team formed by former Blizzard North developers, who previously worked on such games as Diablo, Diablo 2 and the cancelled version of Diablo 3. You can imagine it as a third person shooter with settings and gameplay similar to a mix between Halo and Diablo, plus a comic-book art-style. We can speculate it would somehow have been similar to what Borderlands became when published in 2009.
“The company is establishing a new best-selling game franchise by applying the proven formula of mass accessibility, addictive game play and longevity through replayability. Hyboreal Games was founded by Eric Sexton, MichioOkamura and Steven Woo, all industry veterans and former developers for Blizzard North where their contributions were essential to the success of the highly acclaimed Diablo franchise which has sold well over 13 million copies worldwide.
Hyboreal Games has enlisted the outsourcing services of FlipSide Game Studio in the development of the first project. FlipSide Games was founded by Jon Morin, our long time friend of nearly a decade and former co-worker at Blizzard North. FlipSide Games has already been hard at work helping us on the First project for the past few months.”
Unfortunately the team never showed any in-game screenshot for Starfall and only some concept art is preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost project. We can read some details about their concept for the game in an old interview by Shacknews:
“Shack: Have you been in talks with any publishers or other sources of capital, and are you concerned about the financial challenges of this endeavor?
Eric Sexton: We have just started talking with publishers about our current project. Starting your own business is always challenging, but the team is confident in our project and our experience as game developers.
Shack: What can you tell us about your first title?
Eric Sexton: Our current project is a 3D, Science-Fiction, Action RPG. It’s Halo meets Diablo with all the fast visceral game play of third person shooters merged with the character advancement and item collection of a role playing game. You can explore the planets of the galaxy, customize your spaceship and choose the path of your character while deciding the fate of the galaxy.
Shack: The few pieces of concept art available for your project suggest a perhaps more colorful or vibrant aesthetic than that of the Diablo series, where most of the team’s roots lie. Is this indicative of the direction of the game?
Eric Sexton: We do want to go with a slightly lighter look. The art we have up on our page is a preliminary direction, but we are still exploring the “look” of the game universe.”
Hyboreal Games soon vanished without any trace, so we can assume they never found a publisher interested in Starfall.
Decay is a cancelled immersive-sim FPS that was in development by Insomnia Softwarestarting from 1998 – 1999, planned to be published on PC by Interplay. Set in a modern / cyberpunk world, Decay was conceived as an ambitious sandbox RPG adventure, somehow similar to what players experienced two years later with Deus Ex. Their goal was to “Create the new breed of games. Games that are more realistic, more dynamic, better looking and with gameplay and storylines that pulls you straight in and makes you feel as if you’re really living in the gameworld”.
Unfortunately Insomnia Software were still a young and inexperienced team: they were not able to fulfill their vision for the project. As we can read in old previews by 3DActionPlanet and other (now offline) websites:
“First off all, in Decay, you can create your own character (like in any good RPG), but this isn’t something commonly seen in FPS games. You can customize your character by dividing your points between different abilities such as strength, speed, etc. and this will have a direct affect on your character and how he handles in the game. Of course it is also possible to further enhance your character’s abilities as you wander through the game, as new ability points are awarded whenever you complete a mission. Hence you can follow your own heart and create a character that suits your gaming style.”
“Imagine a world very much like Blade Runner, where the ecosystem is on its last leg. Pollution levels are so extreme that it’s hazardous to breathe the air and acid rain forces the population to remain indoors. The latter may not be the sole reason for this, however. Crime syndicates are common, thriving on the lack of proper police enforcement to stop them in the cities housing over 200 million people. The syndicates take advantage of the popular demand for drugs and weapons, while organized crime in the form of gangs control the streets by pillaging and plundering.”
“Decay puts you in the role of anti-hero Jake Blisser, a bad-to-the-bone hitman from the near future. You’ve got quite a history to live up to in this persona, as you have been accused of various macabre dealings such as assassinations, mass killings, and other things best left unsaid. You’re back on the streets, this time on the “right” side of the law due to some unusual plot twists. […] Giant corporations control everything, and you’ll have to play it smart with them to survive.”
“The engine they’re using will allow all sorts of realistic environmental effects, ranging from dynamic lighting to a persistent game world where changes you cause stick around and may impact how you approach a future situation when you return to the scene later in the game.”
“You choose the missions you want from your home base, kind of like a safe house, and from there you can plan your mission as in-depth as you see fit. Perhaps the DECAY team will incorporate some blueprints, roadmaps, etc. to help you with this. (Kind of like Rainbow Six?) However, there are many new goodies in store for the gamers. Not only can you choose the missions you want to play, but also you can make new contacts to get access to illegal weapons and tools. In addition, if you want to create a reputation or be respected among the other hitmen, go head-to-head with them. Take out all your competition and become the sole hitman in town.”
“Here’s a cool example of some of the awesome tools you can use to sneak your way into your target’s home: Use a burner to cut your way into the power central and shut down the alarm and the lights. Use hi-tech tools to open security doors. Place explosives at strategic locations to ensure a safe, or at least possible, get-away. Use your knife to slit throats and drag the bodies out of sight. Blow away your target from a distance, but only after you are sure you can make a clean get-away.”
“Also, the highly ambitious DECAY team promises to provide an excellent selection of weaponry so that you can build up your own private arsenal and weapons and tools at your home base. You’ll even have the opportunity to test out new weapons before using them. This is a nice change from the norm of just wandering around and picking up guns and ammo from random locations as if someone just placed them there for the heck of it.”
This sounds quite impressive for its time but unfortunately it was not meant to be. We don’t know what happened to Decay, but in October 2000 Insomnia Software officially announced they had to change their name to Termite Games (possibly due to copyright problems with Insomniac Games) and Decay was cancelled, with the team switching resources to their new online multiplayer FPS “New World Order”.
It seems New World Order shared Decay’s 3D engine, settings and some assets, but it was quite the different game. As we can read in an old interview by CuttingTheEdge with former Insomnia Software’s Producer Nicholas Cederstrom:
“Well, Decay was a really strong single player game with a lot of content. New World Order is a pure action game with less content but it makes up for it in the action department. The game will be optimized for multiplayer gaming. There will be a single player part of the game and a co-op version as well.
The DVA-engine we used for Decay is the engine we use for New World Order as well. We have optimized it and added new features. The look and the feel of New World Order will be similar to Decay but we have made all new levels, sounds, textures and more.”