Deus Ex is a highly popular sci-fi first person action RPG set in a dystopian future on Earth. There are currently four games in the series: the first two were developed by Ion Storm, while the third and fourth games were developed by Eidos Montreal. However, it was Ion Storm who worked on two ultimately scrapped, alternative versions of the third installment, which were called Deus Ex: Insurrection and Deus Ex 3 respectively.
Art Min was a programmer on the second game in the series Deus Ex: Invisible War, as soon as development was finished on this he became project lead on Insurrection. There were at least four different story lines set out for this iteration of the game and many of the core concepts, were thought out.
In a initial design document submitted in February 2004 many of these concepts can be seen with the team vision for the game being to create an accessible and believable Deus Ex game with emotional depth and epic choices. It was slated to be released on both the Xbox and PC platform but what is interesting is, it is noted that a PS2 version would be made if an external team could be found to make it, and the “Xbox 2” for launch if green lighting was approved as soon as possible.
At the time of writing this document the team were in pre-production and were ready to go to full production by July 1st, 2004, it was written that they would have the game finished by January 2005. There is a very high concept for the game that is described, the game was to be based in 2027 and that there were five superpowers in the world who would either rise or fall depending on the intelligence that you would give to them.
The game setting was that America was falling into bankcruptcy and the other rising superpowers like China and Russia were trying to utilise this and bankrolling insurgents on U.S. soil. The EU was also trying to bring the U.S. under the jurisdiction of international bodies like the UN. The U.S. is also split in two with patriots who want to keep the U.S. as is and the globalists who want the EU control.
AionGuard is a cancelled action / strategy game that was in development from 2008 to 2010 by Avalanche Studios and it would have been published by EIDOS for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. In AionGuard players would have followed an army of elite soldiers, tasked with capturing fixed areas of land which are occupied by numerous mythical and magical creatures.
Originally the gameplay was supposed to take place during the World War I era, however, the theme did not fit the publishers’ line up and was changed to that of a science fiction setting, and subsequently to a fantasy setting when the science fiction theme conflicted with another game in Eidos‘ portfolio. In february 2010, Avalanche Studios announced that the game was officially cancelled, as we can read at Scrowl. The team was then able to move their time and resources to finish Just Cause 2.
Avalanche Studios later bought the rights to AionGuard back from Eidos and they hope to work on it again in the future.
“We’ve had it with this standardisation of fantasy – it’s not exciting any more, it’s deteriorated into trivial re-hashings of the same old things.” But ‘fantasy’ doesn’t tell the whole story of AionGuard. This world is a melting-pot of science-fiction, steampunk, technology, fascism, mystery and games from the excellent Panzer Dragoon Orta to the failed experiment of Lair. If this is fantasy, it’s a gloriously broad strata. […]
“Let’s say you fly in over a new region – the commander of the army might contact you and give you a number of recon missions,” offers Nedfors. “That’s what the military is interested in in a new area. Then it’s all about exploration for the player. You can travel with different attitudes – flying in on a big beast will probably see you getting attacked, but you can be a bit quieter about it.” What if you’ve already seen that area on your travels without being contacted? “You’ve still done that piece of the game, so you get all the benefits from it,” says Nedfors. […]
The scale of the game changes seamlessly – the same size of figure on the screen is now looking over a world that stretches endlessly, populated by an advancing army of 4,000 tiny soldiers. These 4,000 warriors are running on a 360 debug unit, not a PC, thanks to AI scaling. The larger groups of enemies have a group AI that becomes individual once you begin interacting with it.
After Tomb Raider: the Angel Of Darkness was considered a failure, Core Design, in 2004 came up with a new idea which was to do a complete remake of the first Tomb Raider game. Core Design developed their version of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition for approximately 9 months until it was unfortunately cancelled early June 2006. It was then announced that Crystal Dynamics would be developing a new Anniversary game instead.
Interview by PlanetLara 24th July 2007.
Richard: It was a strange time really, we’d just finished Free Running for PSP/PS2 and had developed a really good control system and camera, we started messing about with a Lara model on the PSP in the Free Running engine and the idea of 10th Anniversary was born. We suggested it to Eidos who allowed us to develop it, but when Core was sold to Rebellion it seemed like they didn’t want the franchise to go ‘out-of-house’ hence the cancellation of our project.
It is confirmed that PC/PS2 versions were in development however the existing leaked footage and in-game screenshots have been confirmed to be taken from the PSP version. The trailer which leaked from an unknown source seems to show various different builds of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, some later than others. It is confirmed that both Core Design and Crystal Dynamics were working on separate games (Core Design – Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, Crystal – Tomb Raider Legend). Eidos (the game’s publisher at the time now Square Enix) requested that Core Design should alter their Lara Croft model so it looks similar to Crystal Dynamics’ Lara Croft model used in Tomb Raider: Legend. The Lara Croft model seen in early prototype versions of Tomb Raider Legend is very reminiscent of the one seen in Core Design’s Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition.
Core Design (www.core-design.com) – 15th June 2006, 11:02:06.
Following speculation on the internet, we would like to offer the following clarification.
The video of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition that appeared on certain sites was an unauthorised release of an internal presentation of a game that was being developed by Core Design until very recently. It was running on PSP and used a Core-developed engine. However, following a recent review this project has been officially cancelled by SCi.
Core is alive and well and working on some great new projects, and we are still planning to announce some exciting news very soon!
Eidos Press Release – June 16th, 2006
Eidos Interactive, one of the world’s leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, confirms today that they are developing a special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider. The new game is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, who recently launched Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend on Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox, PC and PSP, with versions on Nintendo DS, GBA and GameCube later in 2006. “Our ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider, is a one-off title to celebrate both Lara and Tomb Raider, it will appeal not only to the loyal fans of the Tomb Raider series but will also attract a totally new audience.” Said Larry Sparks, Head of Brands Management at Eidos. Tomb Raider originally launched in 1996 and is still one of the best selling videogame franchises of all time, with over 30 million copies sold. The special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider will be available on PlayStation 2, PSP and PC.
In 2016 an interview with Gavin Rummery was published. It provided some details as to how the game started and speculation about why it was cancelled:
Gavin Rummery (Studio Head)
He put the pieces together in his head and pitched Eidos/SCi (SCi having taken over Eidos in 2005). They loved it, so a team of Tomb Raider veterans at Core set about remaking the original game in the new engine. It was going well, Rummery recalls—both looking and playing great. But Crystal Dynamics didn’t want Core back in the picture, and the American studio built a rival demo.
“They convinced whatever the politics in SCi was like that it made more sense to just keep it all in one studio,” says Rummery. “Keep the franchise in one place. And so ours was killed, and you’d have never heard if it hadn’t been leaked by someone.”
In 2016 Steve Pritchard responded to Gavin’s claims with the following:
Steve Pritchard (Producer)
No worries. It was a tricky time in the studio when Crystal were doing Anniversary – a lot of hard work had gone into that idea and to have it taken away and handed to Crystal was a painful thing.
Crystal Dynamics are in no way at fault for this – Eidos had become SCi at this point and that whole Eidos/Core/Tomb raider multi-brand was something that hung a little heavily around a few necks. Someone, somewhere, realised that handing a TR title back to the now-not-Core guys would have seemed like a strange commercial move, and with CD having a lot of cool tech all ready to go, it was a straightforward choice for them.
Yeah, it was a massive, massive kick in the nuts for those of us who had done a lot in a very short space of time to get Anniversary running, but from a business perspective it was understandable.
Gav was right to be angry about the way the whole thing unfolded and he’s also right in saying that SCi were up for it – Ian Livingston grinned a smile a mile wide when I described the concept as a “director’s remastering” of the original, with additional content filling out the whole TR1 game. So yes, it was a winner and yes, at the time it looked like me might claw it back. But someone, somewhere realised the media issues that might arise from the old Core lads doing another Lara game . . . and that was where the split began, not with CD.
I put more hours into the Core version of Anniversary than anyone else on the team – production tend to do that – and as we had such a small team most of what is seen in the leaked video was stuff I pulled together across a couple of evening shifts, the thing cut together by Gaz Tongue later. We were all gutted when the project went away. Projects do, all the time, but this one really felt like the last chance to grab back a bit of TR.
The last presentation to the SCi board had Gav and I demoing the Playstation version AND the PSP version, both of which had co-op gameplay in it. They were rough around the edges, still some way from alpha, but if you knew the original game well you could see where we had added real fan service, extra content and just cool stuff that expanded on the original narrative. It felt good to show off, it was received well, but that last presentation had us re-introduced to Toby Gard and some of the CD team who were there to see it. Two days later we got the news that they were going to do the Anniversary project, using their engine and tech from TR Legend. And that was that.
Horrible end to the story but I find it really difficult to lay the blame at Crystal’s door. SCi made the decision, and they really weren’t very good at decisions. They are not there for good reasons.
Not too long after that the studio was sold to Rebellion, Gav moved on and I ended up running the show for the next 18 months to two years. By then Core were a bit battered and bruised and being asked to shift their skills to “quick and dirty” work that was almost outsourcing saw all the talent start to pour away to other companies. “Corebellion” fought on for a while but the writing was on the all by then.
Flying Nightmares 2 is a cancelled flight simulator / shooter that was in development for PC by Eidos Interactive, with a presumed port for the original Playstation and Saturn. As we can read in an interview by Combat Sim with Bryan Walker, Lead Producer of the FN2 project, the game was “a sequel to AV8B Harrier Assault, a game that Domark and Simis developed several years ago, and went on to become SVGA Harrier, the first 640×480 flight sim on the PC, and Flying Nightmares on the Macintosh“.
An online multiplayer mode up to 16 players was also planned. It seems that Eidos decided to shut down Flying Nightmares 2’s development team for unknown reasons and the game vanished with them. Only a self-running PC tech demo was released before the cancellation.
There is not much info on the presumed Playstation and Saturn ports, but Celine was able to find a scan with a short article about them on CD Consoles issue #4. We can assume that the console ports would have been a downgraded version with a more arcade-ish gameplay and no online mode.
Abraxas is a cancelled Massive Multiplayer RPG that was in early planning stage at Eidos. The project was originally based on the Fabled Lands series of fantasy gamebooks written by Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson, published by Pan Books in the mid 90s. Originally planned as a twelve-book series, only six books were released between 1995 and 1996 before the series was cancelled.
In 1996, the authors decided to use their experience with gamebooks to enter the computer games industry – taking the Fabled Lands series with them.
They started work at Eidos Interactive on an MMO. Eidos was skeptical as to whether an MMO would be financially successful, but was interested enough to set the authors up with a team to research the relevant technology. [Info from Wikipedia]
At Bit Tech we can read in a long article about the project:
When it came to developing the fiction and the overall settings of the MMO though, it was an entirely different story and the groundwork was quickly laid down for adapting Fabled Lands to a new medium – until legal problems reared their heads anyway. Soon, Dave and Jamie were forced to drop the Fabled Lands setting and look at new setting.
“Our publishers told us that our book contract entitled them to 50 percent of our revenue from the game,” says Dave. “They meant our salaries, as Eidos wasn’t going to pay anything to licence a fantasy world when they could just as easily pay us to create one from scratch. Then the publishers said, ‘Okay, not 50 percent, but you have to give us 2% of what you get.’ That was just going to be an irritation, but we decided we’d just come up with a new setting.”
Needing to distance their burgeoning MMO from the Fabled Lands books, Jamie and Dave set about creating a number of new world, one of which became known as Abraxas and Dave describes as being very different from most other fantasy settings […]
The team’s plans for the game were extremely ambitious for the late 90s, as the Abraxas MMO was supposed to include advanced AI that acted as a digital gamesmaster, tailoring the experience for each player.
In the end the game was never released; according to Morris and Thomson, this was because of their own, over-ambitious designs, colleagues who didn’t understand their ideas and the general poor management of game design and development at the time.
“Well, it was all pretty convoluted,” Dave says, a little sadly. “To start with, we had a project manager we’d hired who led a sort of coup! We turned up one day and he told us, ‘The team has decided not to do a fantasy role-playing game. It’s going to be about giant battling robots now.’”
The Abraxas setting is still being developed by the two authors, and may become an interactive e-book for the iPhone and iPad in the future. You can find more info about Fabled Lands and the Abraxas MMORPG at the official Fabled Lands Blog!
Thanks to Robert Seddon for the contribution! Thanks to Jason for the english corrections!