Cauldron

Spectac (Cauldron) [Xbox 360, PS3, PC – Cancelled]

Spectac was an ambitious cancelled project that was being developed in 2004/2005 by Slovakian studio Cauldron. It was planned to be a prequel to Cauldron’s 2003 game Chaser: a futuristic First Person Shooter similar to Red Faction in tone, set in a time when humanity has successfully colonized Mars. Spectac in turn was to be set before these events, dealing with the hunt for a terrorist group threatening to unleash a viral weapon on the world, and the team tasked with putting an end to their plans.

From what we can tell, Spectac was to be a stealth-action affair, very inspired by other espionage and military-science stealth series such as Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell, but played from a first-person perspective. And like in the latter franchise, the player was to make heavy use of sound and shadows for things such as masking their actions or distracting enemies, along with a strong emphasis on climbing, swimming, and other means of infiltration.

Players would have been helped by other team members, in a feature that would show some inspiration from the Rainbow Six or SWAT series. This would add a strategic element of choosing what individual skill sets would be useful in each mission and what paths they would open. This would in turn allow for greater replayability, as not only could a level play out differently depending on what team members are present, but one could also step in their shoes and play from their perspective. A sniper and a security expert/hacker, named Isis and Evac, respectively, would also be available to help the player at all times.

The engine that had powered Chaser (CloakNT) had been upgraded, and its 2.0 version allowed for many innovative features. The Havok physics engine had been integrated as well, and Cauldron was ready to take full advantage of their new technology by allowing for extensive interaction with the environment in Spectac. For example, to use a simple numeric keypad or keyboard, the player would have to physically move the character’s hand in order to press the individual buttons. The same approach would be used if they needed to swipe a keycard to open a door, or use a mouse at a computer terminal, and so on.

The hand-to-hand combat would apparently also use this system to some degree, with different techniques such as neutralizing an enemy by choking or pistol-whipping requiring active player interaction.

Graphically, the game was to take visuals to the next level as well. The geometry was now much more complex, allowing for more detailed models. In conjunction with the aforementioned first person interaction, the lighting would have offered a great deal of immersion as well, filling the levels with dynamic shadows. Spectac looked a bit like F.E.A.R. another game that became known for its rich lighting and physics interaction, developed by Monolith and released in 2005. In addition, missions in Spectact were to take place in locations heavily inspired by real-life landmarks, such as the Hoover Dam.

All of this, however, seemed to be just a little too much for Cauldron. Spectac was conceived as a possible next-gen title to be released on PC and the then-upcoming PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms, but apparently even the most powerful computers of the time were struggling to run it in 2004. Possibly for this reason, the project was eventually abandoned some time around 2005, after being deemed too ambitious, and never entering full production.

Cauldron themselves would infamously continue on to create lower budget games in a partnership with the Activision Value publishing brand, such as Soldier Of Fortune: Payback and a string of hunting-themed and war-themed First Person Shooters for the Cabela’s and History Channel brands, respectively. We know the team also worked on the cancelled Project Revolution and Seven Days, before being acquired by Bohemia Interactive in 2014 and renamed to Bohemia Interactive Slovakia.

Article by António Pedro Pinto

Thanks to Chris and Piotr for the contribution!

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7Days (Cauldron) [PC – Cancelled]

7Days is a cancelled fantasy RPG in development around 2001 by Cauldron, a small slovak team mostly known for Soldier of Fortune: Payback, Gene Troopers and the Cabela’s Big Game Hunter series. Gameplay could have been somehow similar to The Elder Scrolls series, with action combat, underground dungeons and a fantasy open world to explore.

Unfortunately we can’t find much more online about this lost game. We know the team also worked on the cancelled Project Revolution and in 2014 Bohemia Interactive acquired Cauldron, changing their name into Bohemia Interactive Slovakia.

Thanks to Chris for the contribution!

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Project Revolution (Cauldron) [PC – Cancelled]

Project Revolution is a cancelled third person action RPG in development around 2008 by Cauldron, a small slovak team mostly known for Soldier of Fortune: Payback, Gene Troopers and the Cabela’s Big Game Hunter series. Gameplay could have been somehow similar to Fallout + Gears of War + FarCry: a post apocalypse shooting adventure, exploring its big sci-fi world filled with scary robot-monsters called Cerberus.

The game was canned in early development and never went past pre-production phase, but we can still find some interesting details with Cauldron’s hopes and ideas for Revolution in a 2013 article published on a slovak website:

“Marián Ferko, one of the co-founders of the oldest game development studio in Slovakia, once told me that archiving is extremely important. He told me in their server they still have the source code of their first game Quadrax (1996). I trust him. […] Every single piece of code, illustration, idea, everything that has not been used in their final games is stored and cataloged on the Cauldron server. […] Long ago, Cauldron became an expert in hunting games while working on their Revolution project.

Revolution was a 3rd person action RPG set in 2272. The earth is destroyed after a series of cyber-wars and machines took control over the world. The whole Earth is infected with a nano-virus that turns everything into cyborgs. There are only a few clans that resist machines, but have no future themselves because the nano-virus is gradually making them slaves. The rest of the human race resides at the orbital station in space. Food supplies are diminishing and the only chance of survival is to find a way to effectively combat the nano-virus.

The struggle of the human race lay on Ellie Whisboorn‘s shoulders. Her task was to find data cubes holding information needed to make a vaccine to stop the spread of the nano-virus. However, as a human Ellie was not powerful enough to survive post-apocalypse earth: she is forced to accept cyber-technology. By changing her appearance and cyber-implants when starting the game you would have been able to directly impact the gameplay. Ellie could thus be an open-combat fighter with heavy armor,  a stealthy assassin with invisibility or using nano-magic and relying on hacking.

Unfortunately for Cauldron, by the end of 2008 popular post-apocalyptic RPG Fallout 3 was released: publishers rejected their Revolution pitch, saying that it would have been too ambitious to try something similar to Fallout 3. Work on Revolution stopped before full production. Two Czech authors Kantúrek & Žamboch were involved, working on background for the story and the world.”

In 2014 Bohemia Interactive acquired Cauldron, changing their name into Bohemia Interactive Slovakia.

Thanks to Chris for the contribution!

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