Alien Fear is a FPS that was announced in September 2010, initially to be developed by Farm51 and to be published by CITY Interactive. In February 2011, CITY Interactive was displeased by the work done by Farm51 and moved the project to one of their related companies based in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Farm51 responded that they still had rights over the work done so far on the game, so CITY Interactive reworked Alien Fear to change some of the previous work, and planned to released the game on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. In the late summer of 2012, CITY Interactive restructured was renamed to CI Games. At the time that CI Games took control of Alien Fear, Farm 51 reported that the game was 75 percent ready but it is unclear exactly how much was playable.
There are screenshots available of both versions of Alien Fear: the game as designed by Farm51 and the later game that was reworked by CITY Interactive/CI Games. Screenshots from the first half of 2011 reveal that Alien Fear utilized a point system similar to the one used in Bulletstorm and was using the Unreal 3 engine.
The game’s location was set on a ship in deep space. At this point, Alien Fear was similar in tone to the 2008 game Dead Space with many dark corners populated by monstrous aliens. Others who have viewed these early screenshots of Alien Fear compared the game to Doom and Alien. The reworked version of Alien Fear by City Interactive/CI Games used less of an horror setting with larger and more mechanical oriented characters, somehow similar to Gears of War.
In May 2013, Alien Fear was reworked again due to another commitments by the time and title was changed into Alien Rage. The director credited to the game is Mark Lambert Bristol. The game marked Bristol’s first director credit on a video game and Bristol would also direct Enemy Front in 2014. Alien Rage was released on the PC on September 24, 2013, and later on the Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 in October 2013. The game received mixed to negative reviews with many critics focusing on the game’s generic play and glitches.
After Alien Fear, Farm51 began work on several new projects, including a FPS mixing the Bourne Identity and Gothic and another FPS with an Indiana Jones atmosphere. Farm 51 would ultimately create two games for the Xbox 360/Playstation 3: Painkiller: Hell & Damnation and Deadfall Adventures. Work on the Gothic based game likely ended up in Painkiller where the player fights demons, while the Indiana Jones game became Deadfall Adventures which is set in the universe of Alan Quartermain, a 19th century novel and series of films from the 1980’s about an archeologist adventurer.
Article by Blake Lynch, thanks to Dan for the contribution!
Ace of Spades was a voxel-based FPS first released in 2011. Advertised as ‘Minecraft meets Team Fortress 2‘, it was free to play, and took very little requirements to run (spawning the slogan ‘runs on your grandma’s rig!’). While earlier revisions of the game only had one weapon, some tools for construction, and randomly generated terrain it’s later versions had things such as different primary weapons (SMG, Rifle, and Shotgun), custom maps, and more. What separated Ace of Spades from your the more generic, ‘Minecraft-with-guns’ type shtick is that not only did Ace of Spades pre-date a good number of them, it’s mechanics led to genuinely tense trench warfare (I’d recommend watching early beta footage circa .75~) Ace of Spades slowly grew a community throughout it’s years, and it’s creator Ben Aksoy maintained a great relationship with his audience. Many of the forums were community-run, and since pretty much every single visual in the game could be easily modified there was also a huge modding scene. It hit 2 million downloads during it’s beta run, and won game of the month on MPOGD.
Jagex saw the game’s success fairly early on in the beta. They had their eyes on it, and finally approached Aksoy on purchasing the rights to the game. Aksoy was in a poor financial state at the time, and agreed with a catch; that Ben would be allowed to continue to stay involved with the project. Jagex agreed, but didn’t publicly announce their involvement until late 2012, when they really took control over development. Until then, they used a fake name to maintain the indie image (SoCa studios, which you will see at the bottom of the archived website).
The OpenGL build comes in here. It was established by one of the game’s original programmers, ‘Mat^2’ as the client for 1.0. It’s usage of OpenGL would be what separated the final versions to the open betas. When Jagex took over development, they decided to just take this build and used it as the basis for their version. According to a developer who worked on the JAGEX version of the game (may not seem verifiable, but I talked with a friend of Ben’s when I first researched this and they directed me to it) it was given to Blitz Games Studios to be completed. The developer did a Q&A on the Ace of Spades reddit, and revealed a lot of very pretty telling things about the development. The game had apparently been re-written in only 8 weeks, from November to December 2012. The game was not ‘professionally’ coded (spaghetti coding) and their goal was to appeal to a wider range of players vs the niche, original audiences.
Survive is a First Person shooter that started development as a simple game created in ray casting game maker. The game was planned for release only on pc and Linux. As development went on the game kept getting sequels until I was bored of Ray casting game maker and started to look for more powerful game engines. The new engine chosen was FPS Creator.
This version was created in late 2014 and was completed within a month. As a result this build was very buggy and crashed upon walking down a corridor. It was a corrupt video file in the game that needed to be removed for the game to work. The game was uploaded to mediafire in that same month and only got 20-30 Downloads. The video (Including the download) was removed a year after. After this the game started development again in a different game development software called Game Guru. This game was called Survive: What lurks Around. This version of the game was made after a line said by DR. Trugar in the Late 2014 build of the game in which he said “For what lurks around won’t be around for much longer”. Creating the game was easy and with help from my friend I managed to get the game off the ground. But this game never got that far and got canceled shortly after.
The game was once again reworked to make it more of a horror game. This is the build of the game that is still in work to this day in the FPS Creator Engine. You can download the early prototypes from here.
If we reminisce about the popularity musical games enjoyed roughly ten years ago, we cannot stress enough the role of Massachusets-based developer Harmonix Music Systems, creators of the popular Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Of course, for those who have been in the videogame scene for some time, it is well known that other studios had delved in the music genre long before them. However, we cannot deny that Harmonix and by extension their distributors, first Red Octane and shortly afterwards Activision, were the first ones to appeal the interest of the US and European mass markets by filling up their titles with a wide selection of mainstream rock and pop music tracks. Where Konami’s Guitar Freaks had always remained a niche title, Harmonix established a new franchise that attracted both seasoned and casual players alike with its simple, yet progressively deep and challenging gameplay, greatly cementing videogames as a social experience to be enjoyed with groups of friends.
Harmonix’s existence has been closely tied to music and rhythm games and even after the hype surrounding Guitar Hero – not anymore in Harmonix’s hands after three titles – and Rock Band faded away, the developer kept experimenting with the concept of music applied to other genres. Given the massive popularity of the first person shooting genre, it must have been a quite logical leap to combine both concepts, giving birth to the initial idea of Chroma.
First announced on the seventeenth of February 2014, Chroma constituted a collaboration between two developer teams: Harmonix itself, bringing their expertise in musical games and Hidden Path Entertainment, known for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Defense Grid: The Awakening among others. Chroma was simply put, an on-line Arena FPS that heavily relied on music and rhythm as an integral part of the experience. Harmonix co-founder and CEO Alex Rigopulos declared upon Chroma’s announcement that it had been “a dream project (…) for some time”.
The game was first launched at the end of February of the same year on PC via Valve’s Steam platform as a closed Alpha available on a limited basis to those who had requested an access code. This early Alpha included a two-part tutorial and an on-line Deathmatch, with the latter not playable anymore as its servers have been taken off-line. The game’s aesthetics evoke a futuristic virtual world, with vivid plain colors, neon lights and techno music, which easily remind of either Tron or SEGA’s Rez, another title that, while being a one-player on-rails experience, also fused shooting and music.
A newbie in Chroma would probably jump straight into the training mode upon launching the game for the first time. This tutorial covers the somehow familiar but also unusual gameplay and it immediately introduces the concept of the metronome, represented as an on-screen bar that signals the music beats. The metronome offers an essential help to the player, since most of Chroma’s controls are influenced by the music beats. A robotic narrator simulating an AI guides the player through all the available actions, which include jumping, fast traveling between portals, shooting and reloading. All those revolve around the concept of rhythm and reward the player for triggering the actions in sync with the music.
The second part of the training introduces the different classes and their weapons. Chroma has five classes with different gameplay possibilities:
Assault. Equipped with a submachine gun and a grenade launcher, the Assault class provides good offensive capabilities, specially with delayed grenade detonation by using the music beats to its own advantage.
Engineer. Relies on a set dual pistols (which display an additional HUD that will be familiar to Guitar Hero players and indicates whether to shoot the left or the right hand pistol) and a shotgun. The Engineer also offers some additional strategical possibilities by deployment of sentinel turrets.
Sneak. Combines the stealth granted by a sniper rifle with the power of the “Streak Pistol”, whose damage multiplier gets increased by successfully syncing the shoots with the beats.
Support. As its name implies, this class has limited damaging abilities but it can heal other players and deploy “healing stations”, that can also be targeted and destroyed if considered a menace.
Tank. The heavy hitter of the bunch. It uses a rocket launcher, whose projectiles can become heat-seeking at any time after firing by mouse-clicking on the beat, and a shotgun that can be used as a melee weapon as well.
Chroma offered an innovative approach to a genre that has dominated the videogame scene for some years and while many players appreciated Harmonix’s ambition of expanding music games into new horizons, the general consensus regarding the closed Alpha was quite mixed. Some players described the connection between music and shooting as clunky and uninteresting, adding little to none to the overall enjoyment of the game and even making it a tad frustrating, as for instance some weapons could only be shot at a very specific instant marked by the musical beats.
Beyond personal tastes, the concept behind Chroma seemed to need much more than debugging and rather was relying on core mechanics that were not working that well. Probably aware of this, Harmonix shut down the closed Alpha just a few months after its initial launch, in June 2014. The developer sent a communication to all players appreciating the extensive feedback received and announcing that the title would, in their own words “need some substantial retooling to be the game we want it to be”. They even claimed that “the team has, in fact, already started prototyping new directions for the game based on those successful mechanics.” Promising as this might have sounded, this was the last time players heard of the ill-fated Arena FPS and the lack of subsequent information could only point out to a permanent cancellation.
Involved with different publishers and franchises after their time with Activision had come to an end, it is not like Harmonix put all its eggs in one basket, so even with Chroma canned, they still released other entries of their Dance Central series and one year later players would see another landmark release: the fourth entry in the Rock Band series, attempting a comeback of the music genre and ultimately underperforming in terms of sales. This hinted a general decline of interest in what once was a beloved genre that provided huge amounts of revenue to those who had bet on it at the right time.
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 seriesRaving 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 tone. Co-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.