Cesium is a cancelled action adventure that was in development for the original Xbox by FASA Studio / Microsoft Games Studios in 2004. The project was canned in early prototype form and only some concept arts remain to preserve its existence. The game’s world evolved from fantasy floating cities to iconic asian levels and even the main protagonist was probably still undecided. We can speculate that the Cesium project was canned to move their resources on other games, as Crimson Skies. FASA Studio was officially shutdown in 2007.
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge is a flight-shooter game developed from 2001 to 2003 by FASA Studio (part of Microsoft Game Studios) for the original Xbox. Series creator Jordan Weisman noted that the game had a “difficult development,” and went through many different creative directions.
When development of Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge was first assumed by FASA Studio, it was conceived that the game be made into an “interactive movie,” a concept that would have involved an elaborate storyline and a large number of cutscenes. This process would have needed a linear mission design, potentially restricting gameplay.
Consequently, developers pushed back the game’s release date by a year in favor of increased development time. At this point, both playtest feedback and inspiration from games that offered more gameplay options helped shape the game’s development. The game’s “interactive movie” concept was scrapped, the storyline simplified, and the original linear mission design was reworked to promote more choice-driven gameplay.
When the game was first announced in 2002, features for the game included destructible environments which could be used to eliminate enemies, hidden areas containing bonus weapons, and “danger zones” similar in function to those featured in the previous Crimson Skies for the PC. Sadly many of these features were scrapped from the final version of the game. [Info from Wikipedia]
As noticed by Xenomrph on the Something Awful Forum, in the original Crimson Skies trailer (embedded below) we can see some removed levels:
Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge on the Xbox was going to have a bunch of other levels, and a completely different tutorial level that centered around robbing a flying casino over the ocean off the coast of Louisiana. You can see remnants of it (and other content) in the early trailer. It would have included destructible terrain, different cutscenes, and a bunch of other stuff…. but no online multiplayer.
Crimson Skies became a launch title for Xbox Live, and that involved totally overhauling the game to include Xbox Live multiplayer and cutting a lot of content to make room on the disc.
There’s still some remnants of the old content, though – the game’s dialogue includes references to the casino heist, the music from the above trailer was included on the game’s soundtrack CD (although the music never plays in the game itself), and the game’s tie-in novel ends at the casino heist (which, at the time of the book’s writing, wasn’t cut from the game yet).
Shadowrun: the Awakening is a cancelled game in the Shadowrun series of RPGs, that was in development by FASA Studios for the Xbox 360 and PC, before the released Shadowrun 2007. This unreleased version had a full single player mode and FASA worked on their own 3D engine for the project. Sometime later, the art director was changed for unknown reasons and they scrapped “The Awakening” project to work on the new Shadowrun, that became a multiplayer only title. It’s currently unknown why this version was completely canned with the change of director or why the single player mode was removed from Shadowrun 2007. We can speculate that some problems in the development and management of the original Shadowrun: The Awakening project lead to the decision to create a “simpler” FPS, based around the online multiplayer.
It’s interesting to notice that initial gameplay prototyping of the new multiplayer-only Shadowrun was done using the HALO engine. Check the Shadowrun-Halo prototype page for some screens.
Gemini was an early XBOX prototype by Microsoft Games Studios & Ironworks, for a “FPS adventure”, where the player had to “climb” a futuristic tower that connected the earth to a space station. It was cancelled early in development. This was the “twin project” of Freefall.