Helix Core [PC – Cancelled]

Helix Core is a cancelled online sci-fi FPS that was in development around 2002 – 2003 by Bright Light Productions, planned to be released for PC. Its main focus was the high number of players who could frag together in a single arena: up to 64 players. This was worked on 8 years before MAG and its 256-players deathmatch, or 13 years before PlanetSide 2’s 1158 simultaneous players: at the time it was quite an ambitious feature for Helix Core.

As we can read from the official press-release:

“In Helix Core, you and 63 of your friends engage in a massive multi-theatered struggle across the universe! Helix Core seamlessly blends gritty team-oriented First Person Shooter warfare with dramatic vehicular action, layering the combat with a powerful strategic component. Fight on foot, and in ship, on land and in space as you work to accomplish mission objectives in epic dynamically scripted levels. As you try to defeat the other team in any of the game’s vast environments, you’ll cooperatively pilot over 20 vehicles ranging from single-person nimble Starfighters to massive multi-personnel Capital Ship behemoths. Teamwork is key as you collectively earn credits for each small victory over your opponents, allowing Players to pool their resources to buy bigger, better technology for their forces.

In Helix Core, you’re not just a grunt. You’re a pilot, a spy, an engineer, a tactician — a combat-hardened soldier of a dark future. In Helix Core’s gothic sci-fi universe where “good” no longer exists, a fascist government combats a ghost of the past, and the only sure thing is bloodshed. Vengeance, hatred, betrayal — all are weaved together in the midst of this terrible struggle surrounding you. Ideas do not come in black and white anymore, there are no rights and wrongs — only greys.”

An interview was also published on VGInsider:

VGI: Can you tell us a little about how the vehicular portion of the game will work?

Jeremy:  A lot of the ships/vehicals in the game require cooperation.  You can have a Capital Ship that can fit 20 players in it. Once you load it up, you can take the behemoth out, and your turret gunners can make mince meat out of their opponents.  Eventually you make your way to the enemy base in this moving battlefortress. Without teamwork though, it will be very difficult to make your way to the enemies headquarters. That is why we are going to have up to 64 players in each game.  In a game like Tribes, most of your vehicles are limited to 3 or 4 people tops, which leads to a very unstructured experience, and people don’t really have much of a way to cooperate in real game mechanics. Helix Core will change all of that.

VGI: I am just wondering, what kind of servers will be required for a concurrent 64 members on at one time, it seems like a lot of computer power would be needed (Counterstrike limits to 21 or 20) and it also seems like bandwidth.  Do you think latency will be a problem?

Jeremy: 64 players is for people with the most powerful of systems, that’s for sure.  I wouldn’t recommend a 64 player game to people who barely meet the minimum requirements for the game.  We figure the typical game will hold 32 players or less.

VGI:  That is great to hear.  Console gaming is more popular than ever, if Helix Core went over well on the PC, could you see it on say. . .Xbox?

Jeremy:  If there’s any console that could do Helix Core, it would certainly be the Xbox,  because it’s graphic capabilities are essentially that of the GeForc3, one of our target cards.  Although on Xbox there would be those damned online fees. . .

Tim:  Honestly, PC is where it’s at for now.  Who knows though, it all depends on how well HC goes over on the PC.  Console gaming would definitely be where we’d look next, before moving on to another game.

VGI: You could always port it to the Dreamcast!  :-)

Jeremy: Dreamcast eh? Hell yeah — then you wouldn’t have to pay any fees. ;-)”

And some more details from their old website:

“Players can walk up to any space flight vehicle, ranging from nimble starfighters to huge multi-personnel battlecruisers and Capital flagships, and take control of it in the multiplayer environment to cooperatively aid their team. Analogous to the many starship types available for flight (in both space and planetside missions), there are 5 player classes for each of the two races that emphasize different game styles and player skills. Your class determines what weapons you can use, but also gives you special abilities that makes certain aspects of the game more suitable for your character — say, piloting, heavy combat, or starbase defense construction.

Missions in Helix Core are objective-oriented & story-oriented, depicting the chronological course of a vast interstellar military conflict between a fascist government and a tortured foe from long ago. Each mission, in addition to having a backstory in the cinematic universe of the game, is different in scope and gameplay — one particular mission has one team staging an Alamo-style last stand for a period of time, while another is a two-way base assault on land and air, whereas a certain mission is a race to reach a remote in a treacherous hostile region of space.

In Helix Core, you’re not locked in combat in some phony hallway in the middle of nowhere, you’re in a location on a massive battle spacestation in a greater battle of an epic war. Your teammates outside are cooperatively piloting starships both small and huge in an effort to keep the supply lines open and ensure that your Space Station Assault succeeds. On both land and in space, foot and flight, the future of cooperative multiplayer team gaming is Helix Core. Be a pilot, be a grunt, be a real-time strategy tactician: The choice is yours, and the battlefield awaits you!”

Around 2002 – 2003 there were also a couple of videos on their website, but unfortunately they seem lost forever.

In 2003 Helix Core vanished and today there are no more details available about the team or their projects. It seems Helix Core was reworked by some of its devs and resurfaced in September 2004 under the name of Cry Havoc. It became a FPS/RTS game, but in the end it was also canned. By looking at screenshots and previews Cry Havoc sounded much different from the original Helix Core concept, so we may have another page on Unseen64 to remember it.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!


Cyberjack [Playstation – Cancelled]

Cyberjack is a cancelled “six degrees of freedom” first-person shooter similar to Descent, that was in development for Playstation by SCE Studios Team Soho (the same team behind Porsche Challenge, The Getaway and the unreleased Mean Arenas) around 1995 / 1996. Unfortunately the project was never officially announced and it was soon forgotten when the team decided to focus on other games.

It was conceived as a sci-fi shooter set in cyberspace. Players would have been able to fly through the game’s levels in all directions, shooting down enemies and finding the exit to the next mission. Not much more is known about Cyberjack and as far as we know only 2 images remain today, preserved below to remember this lost Playstation project.

If you know someone who worked on Cyberjack and could help saving more details and media, please let us know! 

BOOM: Unleashed (UTV Ignition) [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360]

BOOM: Unleashed (AKA Project Amazons) is a cancelled online multiplayer focused first / third person shooter / brawler for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, in development by UTV Ignition Games Austin (formerly True Games, which made the MMO Faxion Online) around 2010 – 2011 before their closure. While the project was never officially announced, its title was trademarked in January 2011 and rumors about its existence started appearing online.

Players could use many transforming weapons and vehicles / mechs hybrids. You could customize your character with different heads / torso / legs, choosing your weapons then join in post-apocalypse cities to hunt down other players. When using weapons there was a classic first-person view, then when riding vehicles / mechs it would change into a third person view. Vehicles could transform depending on the terrain and combat strategies, for example a bike transforming into an over-bike in water or a car becoming an anthropomorphic mech.

BOOM: Unleashed was canned just some months into development: as far as we know UTV Ignition also planned a single-player campaign, set in levels being destroyed by natural disasters. As it happened with many other cancelled games during the economic crisis of the early ‘10s, we’ll probably never see much more from this lost project.

Thanks to Dan and The_Phantom_Mask for the contribution!




John Carpenter’s Psychopath [Xbox 360, PS3 – Cancelled]

Psychopath is a cancelled first person adventure that was initially in development around 2004 – 2005 by John Woo’s video games studio Tiger Hill Entertainment (founded with Woo’s partners Terence Chang and Brad Foxhoven), planned to be released for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. The game’s protagonist was an ex-CIA operative called back from an early retirement to stop a serial killer, but during the adventure he would start questioning his own sanity.

Sometime in 2005 John Woo decided to cut their video game division, abandoning most of their in-development projects (Psychopath, Heat, Sundown, Demonik, Shadowclan, Sinner, Executive Assistant, Burglar) and keeping their Stranglehold IP (later released in 2007 with help from Midway). Brad Foxhoven took the remaining assets / game pitches and started a new company with former Tiger Hill creative director David Wohl. The new studio was named “Titan Productions” and they officially announced Psychopath at E3 2005, as we can read on IGN:

“Titan Productions released the first details of its upcoming first-person action game Psychopath, slated for release on upcoming next-gen platforms. The game was developed in collaboration with acclaimed film director, John Carpenter, who offered his cinematic direction and serves as a significant authority for the in-game character designs. […] According to Titan’s announcement, Todd Farmer screenwriter talents have also been sought as a key team member to write for the game and upcoming film with Carpenter.”

John Carpenter’s name was added to Psychopath when the game was still under development at Tiger Hill, during their pitching phase to find both a developer and a publisher. As we can read on Kotaku:

Todd Farmer said the first developer Tiger Hill pitched Psychopath to was People Can Fly, who passed because they wanted to focus on a sequel to Painkiller. Soon after, Sega passed on the game, which is apparently “exactly what [Tiger Hill and Farmer] wanted to happen,” so they could have latitude in finding partners for the game, and develop a film version simultaneously. Thereafter, Konami showed interest, but talks ultimately fell apart.

Tiger Hill thought they could generate more interest in the property from game publishers and film studios if they attached a major name to the project, and Farmer opted for John Carpenter. And Carpenter officially signed on board by March 2005.”

Carpenter talked about Psychopath in an interview with Gamespot in October 2005:

“GS: Psychopath is going to be both a game and a movie. Are you making the movie and turning it into a game or making the game and turning it into a movie?

JC: It’s going to be a game first.”

Carpenter would have mostly helped with direction of Psychopath’s game cutscenes, while working on the following movie if the project would have been green-lighted and founded by a major movie-studio. As we can read on Variety:

“Carpenter will oversee the game and direct its produced scenes and is attached to helm and co-write the film, along with Todd Farmer (“Jason X”).”

In the end Psychopath was mostly a game conceived by Tiger Hill Entertainment, which just wanted to find a popular director name to put on their title, a team of developers to realize their idea and a publisher to get money from. By what we were able to find during our research, the project stalled in early development and probably they never went did much more than a design document with concept artwork.



Enemy in Sight [PC – Cancelled]

Enemy in Sight is the cancelled spiritual sequel to the Hidden and Dangerous series, in development around 2005 by Illusion Softworks and Pterodo (later merged and acquired by Take-Two Interactive in 2008, renamed as 2K Czech) and planned to be published by Atari for PC. It was conceived as a new multi and single player military shooter, set on 100-square km battlefield. The team wanted to offer interactive environments deformable by explosions, where players could drive military vehicles (tanks, airplanes):

“Centred around a great war between superpowers in the very near future, the game focuses on first person action set within vast battle landscapes. Massive online multiplayer capabilities enhance the sheer scale and dramatic impact of the fire fights and battles within the sprawling, realistic environments. Every building can be destroyed, the landscape is fully deformable, and players can command any of over 25 vehicles in the game, all based on their real-life counterparts and painstakingly designed to scale.”

Some details were shared in an interview by Gamespot with former Atari producer Peter Wyse:

GameSpot: Give us a brief overview of Enemy in Sight.

Peter Wyse: The cold war never died. It just went into a deep freeze until global events brought it to a full boil. You are a soldier in today’s army. You are called into action to fight a conventional war between Russian and American forces using today’s latest technology. You have all of the modern weapons of war at your disposal, from the latest machine guns to the laser-guided missile launchers, from modern tanks to state-of-the-art helicopters.

GS: Tell us about Enemy in Sight’s multiplayer. Will it emphasize team play over lone-wolf tactics?

PW: Modern warfare is about team play and team tactics. We could not build a credible multiplayer game using modern weaponry without building scenarios and battlefields that will rely heavily on team tactics. So there will be scenarios that force players to combine ground, air, and artillery support to strike a target. But we do recognize that going it alone has its own appeal, and for those players that want to test their limits against overwhelming odds, we have created Green Beret mode.

GS: Tell us about the actual gameplay. Could you disclose the modes at this point? Is the game going to be focused on head-to-head deathmatching or on goal-oriented gameplay?

PW: The single-player mode is very objective-oriented, as you’ll be defending or attacking key targets, engaging enemies, establishing new frontlines, and collecting intelligence, to name a few of the scenarios. But the multiplayer and quick-play modes support a number of different scenarios and allow you to tailor your gameplay experience to your own flavor and speed. For example, if all you want to do is drive tanks and run through buildings, there will be scenarios that are very tank-centric. We’ll announce the specific modes at a later date, but variety of gameplay is not an issue.”

Soon the project vanished and in May 2006 Atari sold the project to another publisher due to financial problems. In 2007 part of the Illusions Softworks team left the studio and most of the remaining developers had to focus their efforts on finishing Mafia II, finally released in 2010

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!