Project Ragtag, a third-person action-adventure game set in the Star Wars Universe, was cancelled in 2017. The game was under development by Visceral Games and planned to be published by Electronic Arts. In the end EA shut down Visceral Games, following the game’s irreversible demise.
Led by former Uncharted series Creative directorAmy Hennig, Project Ragtag was an ambitious single-player adventure, focused on a ragtag group of space thieves. While it seemed like a sure-hit for a game that started development in 2013, EA cited dwindling interest in single-player experiences as the main reason for its cancellation.
An interview by US Gamer with Ms. Hennig explained how things went for the project. Henning said the game had been beset by challenges that the whole management didn’t foresee. Additionally Kevin Kiner (music producer of Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels) also shared his thoughts on the project. He mentioned he worked on the game for a couple of years and managed to create a good amount of music for it. Unfortunately it seems these scores can’t be used in future Star Wars projects.
Making a Star Wars game that looks and feels like Uncharted was a big challenge. For instance, Visceral Games had to use DICE’s Frostbite Engine to develop Project Ragtag, which was mostly designed for first-person shooters, not third-person adventures. They had to re-implement lots of code and animations, from third-person platforming to climbing.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to save the project. In 2017 EA officially announced Project Ragtag’s cancellation: though it had bittersweet comments and feedback from the online community, Hennig and the other team members have moved on. For players and fans of Star Wars, it’s sad to see such a promising game fail. The cancellation of Project Ragtag was also a tough experience for the staff who poured their efforts into it.
Splinter is a cancelled Six-Degrees-Of-Freedom shooter that was in development around 1998 – 2000 by Stromlo Entertainment, planned to be published on PC by Electronic Arts. While the game is basically forgotten today, it was quite hyped at the time by gaming websites and magazines, with journalists seeing it as the next Descent mixed with Half Life, offering complex story and interesting game mechanics.
“When we highlighted this aspect of the game as well as the combination of organic enemies (e.g. wasps) and manmade adversaries (e.g. flying drones) and compared it with similar elements found in Half-Life, Greg Paltra was quick to add his thoughts: “Half-Life was a really great game. We were already well into development when it came out and we had our first look at it. We could really appreciate what it had to offer. Anyone who played Quake or something and then played Half-Life would realize the difference in the world they had created. I think we have tried to do the same sort of thing with Descent or Forsaken — we’ve got their basic game mechanic, but we’ve added the whole richness of the world and a believable story and a sense of character to really bring that genre to life. I think Half-Life really set the standard for what a game should be for the next generation of software that is out there.”
Players would take the role of a US military trying to retrieve a secret weapon called MERC, a sci-fi craft which can miniaturize itself to go undetected in restricted areas. It seems you would also find yourself miniaturized, exploring such places as ants-nests and shooting down huge insects. As we can read on IGN:
“Splinter is set in present day Blount Island, Mississippi at a secret government laboratory that is home to The Roanoke Project. It is a highly classified attempt by military scientists to perfect the science of nanotechnology and miniaturization. Research has led to the development of molecular robotics, self replicating manufacturing systems and the crowning glory, the Micro Emergency Response Craft now known simply as The MERC. It is a craft with the most advanced weapon systems ever produced and it can be miniaturized to the size of a quarter. Its ability to penetrate the most secure facilities ever devised has made it the most valued piece of military hardware on the planet. One little problem has come up though… it’s missing. “
“The cinematic background and relationships of Stromlo are very obvious in the character driven storyline but perhaps is most visible through the cinematic cutscenes that appear throughout the game. The movie scenes are done completely in CGI by visual effects house Animal Logic. The Sydney based company has worked in television and film with credits including The Thin Red Line and The Matrix.”
“Across the five levels, there are between 5 and 10 sections within each mission. The environments vary a lot, from very organic environments like the ant’s nest to man made environments like munitions factories. The diversity in the architecture, lighting and even the gameplay changes across each mission and within each mission. It’s something that people have responded to very strongly. We’ve got very favourable reports especially compared to something like Descent and some of the other games that are out there where its all been seen and it’s all been done and I think what we’ve got is very new and it’s very diverse within its own content.”
“The range of weapons gains some flexibility with secondary fire for all of your armaments. You start with a basic mini-gun that has a secondary fire like a shotgun all barrels fire together. The strategy of laying a stream of fire into an approach ant followed up by a close-up all barrel blast seems like fun. Other weapons include a heavy cannon, rocket launcher, grenade launcher and flamethrower. The secondary fire of the flamethrower (a big fire ball) and the rockets were probably our favourites in terms of visuals and ant killing mayhem. “
“There will be no floating weapons, or powerups in the game at all. Resources will be collected from organic and man made sources using the ‘Resource bot’. Organic sources such as fungi or dead insects can be converted into fuel for the flamethrower. Man made enemies may have ammunition you can use as well. Your prototype MERC is also fully equipped with all the weapons you will need in the game ¿ however the weapon system has been code locked by Trilling. You will need to link with other crafts you down to upload the codes to unlock your weapons. “
The team was also working on another game for EA, titled “Hydra”, which was also canned in early development:
“We were very lucky that Tony had an existing relationship with EA and we were fortunate at the time that EA Australia were looking to do some work with Australian developers so we had an introduction which led to a co-publishing deal for our first two projects. Stromlo’s second title Hydra will be based on a completely new engine and it will also have a strong focus on characters. It will be a different sort of game. We’ve done quite a bit of work on the new engine and some preliminary work on the concepts and characters but we’re really not ready to talk about it — you’ve really got to get your first one out there and keep your focus on that!”
Unfortunately EA killed the team when pulled the plug on Splinter, as we can read on PC Powerplay magazine (issue 054, 2000)”
“Melbourne-based developer, Stromlo Entertainment, has closed its doors following EA’s withdrawal of financial backing for the Descent-esgue shooter, Splinter. EA allegedly felt that Splinter too closely resembled Forsaken, which sold poorly worldwide. Despite the fact that Splinter was nearing completion, EA pulled the plug, forcing the company to undergo liquidation. Several former Stromlo employees have now moved on to other local companies including Auran and Blue Tongue.”
We don’t know how much of the game was completed before the cancellation, but we can hope someone could find a playable proto in the future as it looked like it could have been a cult-classic if only released.
The original B.O.B. was a run ‘n gun platformer developed by Gray Matter Inc. and Foley Hi-Tech Systems, published in 1993 by Electronic Arts for SNES and Mega Drive (Genesis). A sequel titled “B.O.B. II” was also in development not long after the first one, but in the end the project was canned and never officially announced by EA.
There’s not much remaining from this lost game: just some concept art and its logo. We don’t even know if one of the two original teams developed an early prototype for EA. We can assume it would be hard to see more from BOB 2: it’s the cancelled sequel of a mostly forgotten run ‘n gun.
Maybe one day someone who worked on the project could help unveiling more, but for now these images are the only proof it was once in development or at least conceived as a possibility.
Around 2005 Canadian team EA Black Box was working on a Syndicate reboot (8 years before their 2012 reboot of the series), to be published for the 7th generation of consoles (Xbox 360, Playstation 3). While the original Syndicate was a real-time strategy game, this new project could have been a more linear action oriented third person shooter, a popular genre on console at the time.
Unfortunately EA never officially announced this new Syndicate, so details about the game are basically zero. What we know is this Syndicate reboot was cancelled not long after: the team tried to convert it into an even more fast-action shooter featuring a female protagonist, but in the end even this new incarnation was canned. Part of the same team later worked on Gunhead, another interesting, cancelled third person adventure featuring a gun-headed protagonist.
Black Box were moved to more profitable projects such as Need for Speed, NBA Street and Skate, before part of the team was laid-off by EA Canada in 2012, when the studio was renamed into Quicklime Games to focus on social gaming and free-to-play.
Around 1992-1994 Electronic Arts was working on a Sega Mega Drive / Genesis video game based on The Lord of the Rings series, but in the end the project was cancelled for unknown reasons. The title was listed in a few EA promotional leaflets, but as far as we know screenshots were never shown in magazines at the time.
The same team also worked on Budokan: The Martial Spirit and the cancelled Cybernauts, both fighting games for the Mega Drive / Genesis. Because of this, we can assume The Lord of the Rings would also have been a fighting game. It’s interesting to notice that an unlicensed The Lord of the Rings fighting game for Mega Drive was published by Glorysun many years later, but it’s not related to the cancelled EA project.