Attack of the Killer Rabbids from Outer Space [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U]

Attack of the Killer Rabbids from outer Space, later retitled Killer Freaks from outer Space, was a first person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montpellier that would eventually become ZombiU for the Wii U.

Originally planned as an untitled horror shooter for the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2010, the game was already intended to be a part of the Rayman spinoff series Raving Rabbids wherein earth was attacked by a much more frightening “cousin” of the Rabbids. Early concept art depicts them as being very similar looking to the Rabbids but with sharp teeth and, in some instances, missing their eyeballs. Also revealed in concept art were designs for different types of enemies such as a basic trooper, a shield trooper, a giant Rabbid, UFOs, and a variety of other alien vehicles.  Multiple soldiers can be seen fighting the Rabbids in some of the art, suggesting that would the player would not only be taking the role of one of these soldiers, but there would be co-op multiplayer as well.


This more “mature” tone and the level of violence in the game began to cause concern among the game’s developers as they felt it was begin to stray too far from the child friendly franchise.  “We thought about making them cousins to the Raving Rabbids,” designer Jean-Karl Tupic-Bron stated in in an interview with Polygon, “but quickly decided to split [it off]- This is not what Raving Rabbids is all about.

In response to the issue they changed the invaders from “Killer Rabbids” to “Killer Freaks” and officially revealed the game under that title at E3 2011 as a launch game for the Wii U.  While the Freaks remained very similar to the Rabbids in size and stature they were given a much more reptilian appearance to differentiate them from their earlier counterparts. Set in a post-apocalyptic London, the game pitted 1-4 players against hordes of the Freaks with an arcade run n gun style of gameplay complete with a point system. An early trailer and gameplay video revealed a variety of weapons that could be used against the Freaks ranging from handguns and shotguns to a buzzsaw launcher and electricity gun.

Despite the early footage getting a positive response the team still wasn’t satisfied with what the game was turning out to be.  The driving force behind this was their desire to create an experience tailor suited for the Wii U, something that the fast paced shooter that they had made didn’t deliver on. Another reason was that the Freaks, despite being well liked by the team, were too small and forced players to look towards the ground for a majority of the game.  It is because of these pacing and gameplay issues that the team decided zombies were the next logical step.

Many of the aspects were completely overhauled in the transition to ZombiU, with Tupic-Bron citing the one vs many book and film I am Legend as a major inspiration towards the change.  First and foremost the pace of the game was significantly slowed down, hence the change to zombies as they are generally depicted as being slow and stumbling.  They introduced a focus on preparation, patience, and inventory management as opposed to the frantic gameplay in the previous installment.

This allowed them to utilize the Wii U pad more effectively, as it was now used for vital gameplay features such as displaying the map and organizing the player’s inventory.  They also abandoned the more comical aspects of the game in favor of a darker and more serious toneCo-op was also removed and instead was replaced by a unique “one death” in which every survivor the player controlled only had one life, and the next survivor the player controlled would have to make their way to the now zombified previous survivor and kill them for their supplies.  One of the only aspects that remained relatively unchanged was the vs multiplayer in which one player would control an army of aliens/zombies with the game pad, while the other would try and survive as long as possible with a Wii-mote and nunchuck.

ZombiiU was released on November 18th, 2012 and ports for the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC were released on August 18th, 2015.  News of a sequel in development began to spread when creative director Jean-Phillipe Caro mentioned working on a prototype, but It has since been 100% denied by the Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot as the game was not financially successful for the company.  It has been more recently revealed that this proposed game would have re-instated co-op gameplay like in the previous installments.  Ubisoft Montpellier continues to work on big franchise games such as the next Ghost Recon and the sequel to their cult hit Beyond Good and Evil.




Prax War 2018 [PC – Cancelled]

Prax War 2018 was an ambitious FPS that was in development in late ‘90s by Rebel Boat Rocker and would have been published by Electronic Arts, but it was cancelled in january 1999 when the publisher pulled the plug on the project because “things were not progressing as quickly as they would have liked”. The project was quite hyped at the time, because Rebel Boat Rocker was composed of former 3D Realms developers (such as Billy Zelsnack, Jason Zelsnack, Lee Kime, James Storey, Dirk A. Jones, Brian Martel, James Storey and Randy Pitchford), a team that previously created such classic FPS as Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior and Blood.

The game was being developed using a Java 3D engine, to permit a different number of polygons shown depending on the distance of the player from the enemies and enviroment:

“As players pull back from an adversary, the polygon count will go from a high of 1,000 up close to 150 at a distance. This will allow RBR to “bring back the mow-down,” according to Pitchford, where you’ll face a platoon of up to 50 soldiers at a time.”

Gameplay would have been somehow similar to Half Life, with players being sent to the field to take out a terrorist menace:

“The story for Prax War was this. In 2032 the megalomaniac known as Dante takes over Prax Industries using Nikki Praxus, recent inheritor of the company, as a pawn. He is now using the power source Praxium to create an army of mutants and you, along with your military squad known as the Eclipse Team, must stop him from causing global havoc.”

The story would have unfold through a quite open-ended series of areas to explore, with players being able to interact with the environment and vehicles, for example by stealing a mech from enemies to gain more firepower. Online multiplayer with classic modes such as Capture the Flag and Rocket Arena was planned too.

Prax War’s cancellation became quite infamous because it was announced through Randy Pitchford’s .plan file (a system used at the time to log a developer’s task list, notes and future plans):

“The word from EA that’s out there about why Prax War was cancelled just about sums it up. “EA’s reasons were that they missed their technology window on this product and that things were not progressing as quickly as they would have liked.”

I need to mention, however, that the RBR content team was working closely with the on-site EA director of development on tight content schedules and milestones right up to the end. This includes all game art, models, levels, animation, artist objects, sound effects, etc.

[…] I am truly sorry that the gaming public will never get to play Prax War, for it was truly becoming something remarkable.

It was with sad but optimistic fever I cleaned my office yesterday, I am proud of my work on Prax War and am rewarded by the respect it had received from those who had the almost unique pleasure of being exposed to what we were creating. It should’ve been revolutionary for single-player gaming.

But, alas, “our game is but a dream“.”

The last sentence from Randy’s .plan file is a reference to something wrote a few weeks before by Apogee / 3D Realm’s Scott Miller, still angry with Rebel Boat Rocker because they left 3D Realms. After the early rumors of Prax War’s cancellation, Miller celebrated / joked about it saying “Row, row, your boat, Our game is but a dream”.

Some more details about Prax War 2018 were shared by Pitchford in an article on Loonygames:

“Some interesting things were happening in the industry that influenced us two years ago when we were designing the game. The third person 3D game was evolving and it was exciting a lot of people. We had played Tomb Raider and Mario 64 and were taken by some aspects of what those games provided. I concluded that it wasn’t the third person perspective in itself that was so great. After all, we (like everyone else) had difficulty adjusting to the problems of the control interface for both Tomb Raider and Mario 64. It seemed to be consistent that every third person game was much more difficult to control than the first person games we were used to. However, the thing that was uniquely cool about the third person game was that you could witness your character up-close performing cool moves and displaying animations and behavior that were fun to watch. That perspective was impossible, by definition, in a first person game. Our solution was to add several characters that were partners with the player that could exist in the game with the player and give us all the cool advantages of a third person game without the disadvantages of an indirect interface. It just looked cool to see a guy back flip off a wall or something. Since you’d never see your own character perform the act (as your eyes are in his head), we used the other friendly characters to show off the cool animations. The key to this would be hundreds of custom scripted animations and some good friendly partner AI.”

“Prax War was becoming a first person shooter with a squad, but I wouldn’t call it a squad based game. “Squad based game” implies that the player must give commands to the other members of the squad. In Prax War, the friendly characters would act on their own. Our player wasn’t required to command the other teammates any more than Luke commanded Han Solo in the movie.”

“In addition to developing an amazing 3D rendering engine, the Zelsnacks were big fans of physics. The content developers had just come off working on Shadow Warrior, which was one of the first 3D shooters to feature vehicles that the player could jump in and out of. The game didn’t do vehicles realistically because of the limits of the sector based engine, but it was still fun. And, we were seeing how vehicle combat gaming with more realistic physics could make a really fun deathmatch in I-76. Our engineers were sure they could outdo the physics in I-76 (which they did) so vehicles became a big part of Prax War.”

“Finally, most of us knew that the future of the 3D shooter was going to finally have to take the player outdoors. Attempts at outdoor areas within engines designed for corridor shooters up that point had been not believable, at best. But, fortunately, the engine that was being constructed at RBR was based around the concept of arbitrary polygons. This would allow us to have small and detailed geometry for complex indoor environments and have huge polygons that could build a vast terrain mesh. We were going to be the first 3D shooter that did outdoor environments in the quality of a racing game or military sim.”

“[…] another game appeared that made extensive use of scripted animations and presented friendly characters. Half-Life turned out to be a huge success which begged questions from our publisher about whether or not we could compete. Considering that at the time of Half-Life’s release, we had tons of quality content and some great rendering features, but no actual game, I must assume that some worried that we could not.”

After Prax War 2018 was cancelled, Rebel Boat Rocker was closed down but a few members lead by  Randy Pitchford went on to fund Gearbox Software and created popular Half Life expansion packs Opposing Force and Blue Shift. In Half Life: Blue Shift, there’s an easter egg about Prax War: “In the laundromat, a scientist and a security guard are playing a fighting arcade video game, named Prax Wars 2: Dante’s Revenge; the security guard eventually loses the game.”


Disruptor [Playstation – Beta]

Disruptor is FPS developed by now popular Insomniac Games for the original PlayStation and published in 1996 by Universal Interactive Studios. Disruptor was initially planned for the 3DO game console back in 1994 but due to the bad reception of the 3DO development of Disruptor was quickly shifted over to the PlayStation 1.

As we can read on 1UP:

“I think we were very lucky to get out of the Disruptor development process alive,” says Price. “None of us had ever been in the game business before. We were just guessing that it might be fairly easy to do, and man, were we wrong.”

It was 1994. The 3DO, a platform created by EA founder Trip Hawkins, was the cutting edge of game-console technology, a CD-based system retailing for an insane $700. Insomniac took advantage of the CD format‘s low price and dove into Disruptor. Within a year, the rug was pulled out from under the team. “3DO tanked, big time,” says Price.

They shopped a demo around to publishers up and down the West Coast, looking to move Disruptor over to Sony’s newly released PlayStation. It wasn’t going well. “Everybody had turned us down,” says Price. “We were down to no money in the bank, and this was really our last shot.” Their final meeting was with Mark Cerny, a veteran game designer/producer whose work spans 1984’s Marble Madness to the recent Jak and Daxter series. At that point, Cerny was scouting developer talent for Universal Studios Interactive in Los Angeles. He found it in Insomniac.

“Mark saw the engine that Al [Hastings] had programmed on the 3DO and said, ‘Wow, these guys have potential.’ We signed a three-game deal with Universal based on that meeting,” says Price. “It saved our asses.” Ted Price was 24. Al Hastings was 21.

Some more details can be found on IGN:

“We began on 3DO because when I started Insomniac, 3DO was the first really viable CD-based system out on the market,” Price explained. “They had dev kits available for very low prices. And Sony, at the time, wasn’t making dev kits available to everybody. So I was able to purchase a dev kit for about $8,000. We kind of set our path.”

Hastings told me more. “We started on 3DO, because… I guess when we were starting, it was before anybody like us could get our hands on a Sony dev kit. I don’t even know if they were out or not. But the 3DO, they were pushing it to anyone who wanted it. At the time, I think a lot of people thought it might succeed. I don’t think we were alone in our naiveté. But pretty soon, maybe halfway through [development], it became clear that 3DO was just never going to be viable. It was about that same time that Sony and SEGA were putting out the alternatives,” in the form of PlayStation and Saturn, respectively.

The gallery below includes some early beta screenshots from the PS1 version of the game, with some small differences from the final game.

These beta screenshots was found on the official interplay website for the game. They are pretty similar to the final game with the exception of the HUD, where the health bar is moved to the bottom corner and features a different design than the final game, the Psionics icon seems to be a little bit different than in the final game and the Ammo count has been moved to the opposite corner of the screen.

These beta screenshots were found in a small article in the French PlayStation Magazine (issue 4). It’s much of the same from the other ones.  The last one is the most interesting one, as the enemies appear to be actual 3D models, however in the final game all the enemies are pre-rendered 3D-looking sprites in a 3D environment. The psionics icon had red eyes which is not present in the final game. And the weapon shown does not directly match any weapons from the final game.

Article by Hennamann 

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC – Cancelled]

Kanaan is a cancelled first / third person open world shooter that was in development by Argonaut Games in late ‘90, planned to be published in 1998 / 1999 by Ubisoft on PC. While many other lost games from Argonaut were widely known, this one seems to have been forgotten for many years, until in January 2016 Werta Oldgamesru noticed this title and posted about it in our Unseen64 FB Forum. The project was quite an interesting twist on the classic shooter genre, because of its open world environments and anthropomorphic animal enemies. As noticed by Ross Sillifant, a two-pages preview of the game was featured in Edge magazine September 1998 issue, where we can read a lot of details about its gameplay:

“Think dark tunnels, think robot enemies, think bleak future worlds. The stereotype defined by ID’s seminal Doom has been adhered to with a near-religious reverence by developers worldwide. So perhaps, it’s salient that Argonaut, a traditional console game company once strongly linked to Nintendo, should be chipping away at the genre’s mould. Argonaut first person foray is currently dubbed Kanaan, although the search for a name to replace the development tag of “Chaos” has been a protracted wrangle. While the game’s futuristic setting is nothing new, its dog-themed alien enemies are refreshingly different. Guiding lone human Gabriel Cain, the player must stop the invaders from capturing his home planet of Camrose. Cain is one of two surviving members of Camrose’s crack Chaos Squad, the other being the group’s traitorous captain deSoto. As the game progress, new plot elements are introduced, including Cain joining the underground resistance. New weapons, locations and environments will gradually be uncovered as Cain struggles to defeat the alien foe. His eventual target is the alien leader Commander Kray, who must be brought down for Cain’s final victory.

Through the careful use of tessellation techniques, Kanaan has been gifted with vast environments. […] However, the game also contains a large number of structures which can be entered, the action blending smoothly from interior to exterior. Using Kanaan’s powerful 3D engine fully, certain buildings will feature balconies, giving the player the ability to look across an area and attack enemies from a distance.

In order to move swiftly around these incredibly open areas, the player can capture and utilize a variety of vehicles. These includes jeeps, cars, trucks, speedboats, helicopters and bombers, each with their own armoury available at Cain’s disposal. […]

While Kanaan’s standard viewpoint is first person, Argonaut has strong opinions regarding character depiction, and to that end an additional third person camera is selectable. […]

Cain also has access to a sniper weapon (as seen in Goldeneye) so he can pick-off foes from a great distance by zooming in through the weapon’s sights. Traditional first person puzzle elements also emerge, along with console systems which reveal conundrums that block progress.”

A few more memories about Kanaan’s development can be found in websites of people that worked on it. Simon Grell recalls:

“Kanaan was the first game I worked on at Argonaut. I did most of the character and vehicle designs but unfortunately it was canned shortly before it was due to be released”

In an interview with Julian Alden-Salter posted in the GameOn Forum, we can read:

“I spent 5 years at Argonaut working on Hot Ice (unpublished), Alien Odyssey (unpublished), Croc, FX Fighter Turbo and Kanaan but was made redundant when the project I was producing (Kanaan) was canned.”

As the game was almost complete when cancelled and even Edge was able to try a playable demo, we hope that in the future someone could find a video or even a prototype of Kanaan that could be saved.

Thanks to Werta Oldgamesru, Maik Thiele and Ross Sillifant for the contributions! Screenshots saved from AVOC by Fabio Cristi


Deep Cover [PC – Cancelled]

Deep Cover was a first-person shooter being developed by Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games in the 1999 to 2000 period. During the development of System Shock 2, the Looking Glass team began work on a new game which would take the concepts of Thief: The Dark Project into a modern setting. Using the Dark Engine originally developed for Thief, the spy-espionage game took on the title of Deep Cover.

“Deep Cover was slated to be one of the coolest games to leave the studio. It was a gritty 1960’s cold war spy action-adventure that had the elegance of thief and the depth of system shock 2.”

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The game was set to incorporate more interactive elements into the Thief and System Shock pallet with a faction system which would react based on how the player decided to complete a mission, though the missions themselves had a set order of progression.

  • Extraction: Berlin, East Germany Sector, 1958. A top German scientist has developed a deadly biological weapon that could threaten the Soviet-American nuclear détente. Jon must find out who this scientist is, and extract the scientist out of Eastern-block Germany (willing or not).
  • Infiltration: Alabama, 1961. Word has it that a Soviet mole has worked his way into a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Infiltrate the Klan enclave, find out who the mole is and get out alive.
  • Surveillance: Cuba, October 1962. Jon infiltrates an installation near Havana to photograph alleged Soviet nuclear SS-4 missiles.
  • Interdiction: Dallas, 1963. Your information is vague but you must act fast. A group of Cuban nationalists are going to try to kill President Kennedy. Find your way into the book repository and stop them.
  • Assassination: Bulgaria, 1964. The Turkish Undersecretary of Defense has been selling documents to Moscow. He must be eliminated before he can make a critical drop. An elite squad of Turkish terror troops heavily guards him.

Irrational and Looking Glass shared equal parts of this project, with the former hiring on staff and the latter seeking investment for the project. Ken Levine put together a story and a design doc for the project to follow, reviving the Cold War theme seen in one of his pre-Thief concepts and inspired by John Le Carre’s storyThe Spy Who Came From the Cold”.

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Among the level designers were Nate Blaisdell, Edward J. Moore III, Michael Swiderek, Steve Kimura (all of whom had no prior design experience) as well as Paul Hellquist, Rick Ernst, Nathan Wells, and Michael Ryan who posted screenshots of the unannounced game online in 2002 as well as implemented a search-light system into the Dark Engine. Other developers connected to the project included Ian Vogel and Alexx Kay. The lead programmer on the project had worked at Looking Glass previously and was called back by Ken Levine to work on Deep Cover.

“When I was at Irrational, I worked on Deep Cover, which was System Shock meets JFK. Hacking closets, feeding attack dogs sleep drugged meat.”

Concurrently with this development though, both companies were attempting to manage their own affairs separately. Looking Glass was having trouble paying Irrational due to the former’s financial difficulties, causing the latter to seek out contract work in November of 1999, beginning work on a project which would eventually become the Playstation 2 game The Lost. Looking Glass were also working on Thief 2, which ended up featuring some of the code originally intended for Deep Cover.

There were going to be multiple factions… depending on how you played each mission, you could make different groups pleased or disappointed. Later missions would be affected by this.   while there wasn’t going to be an overall branching mission structure, each mission in the game could be changed in minor ways that would affect the flow and difficulty. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan

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After 9 months of work on Deep Cover, Looking Glass managed to procure a major publisher: Microsoft, who expected the studio to collaborate with Irrational Games on the title. However, Irrational were moving out of the Looking Glass offices and devoting their time to The Lost, leaving Looking Glass to work on the contract alone. Disappointed, their publisher pulled out of the one million dollar deal in February of 2000, leaving the project on the verge of cancellation.

“When Irrational Games pulled out of the Deep Cover project, the publisher pulled out as well, together with a lot of calculated advances. This put Looking Glass into a very bad position concerning liquidity.” – Tim Stellmach

Work did continue on Deep Cover after Irrational’s departure. The studio attempted to negotiate a deal with Sony to keep the studio and the project afloat, but a restructuring within Sony caused their executive contact to be fired. The lead programmer described at least one level in a playable prototype state prior to a switch from the Dark Engine to a successor technology called the “Siege Engine”, which none of the available screenshots showcase. After his departure, the former lead programmer of British Open Championship Golf was brought on, who also was an expert on the JFK Assassination.

The closing of Looking Glass Technologies in May of 2000 put an end to Deep Cover, and subsequently migrated much of the talent over the industry. In a basic thematic sense, the spy theme with the Looking Glass style of freedom would re-emerge in Deus Ex which was released shortly before the studio dissolved.

The following screenshots were taken from very early versions of the levels… before any gameplay was implemented, and well before Looking Glass decided to switch from the Dark Engine to the Siege Engine. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan

Article by AguyinaRPG


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