Reverence is a cancelled FPS that was in development around 1996 by TSI (Three Space Imagery), planned to be published on PC by Cyberdreams. The game looked like a mix between Duke Nukem, Hexen and Exhumed (PowerSlave), with a strange blend of tibetan – gothic – egyptian – norse mythology settings. Luckily a playable alpha of the game was preserved in 2015:
“You have been chosen by the gods themselves to determine the future of the human race. According to them, humans are weak and pathetic and don’t deserve to exist anymore. You need to pick up a bunch of guns and energize yourself with a wide array of spells and defeat them one by one.
The leaked alpha version can be considered almost a full game. It appears to have all levels with most of the graphics, music and sounds. The game is divided into four big realms, each with its own theme. Realm of Osiris, an Egyptian god of underworld full of lava lakes and fire demons; Kokyangwuti, Hopi goddess of life, desert-like world; Frejya, Norse goddess of love whose realm lies under the vast waters and last but not least, Manjursi, Tibetan god of wisdom, who has a vast dominion in mountains.”
TSI was founded by Alberto Menache in the early ’90s, creating innovative motion capture software for games and computer graphics. Their collaboration with Cyberdreams covered at least two games, one of which was the released Noir: a Shadowy Thriller, but then the publisher had to cancel most of their projects. As we can read on Mobygames:
“In 1995 an “internal shake-up” had taken place at Cyberdreams: the investors removed management and installed a “turnaround management team,” that would make a transition to 3rd party publishing. It wouldn’t help. Cyberdreams only managed to publish one more title, Noir: A Shadowy Thriller (1996). In the meantime a lot of projects (almost all action games) were announced / taken into development: Species, Reverence, The Incredible Shrinking Character, Blue Heat, Ares Rising, and Wes Craven’s Principles of Fear. Sometimes they had been in production for years.”
Reverence was canned and TSI moved to other projects such as TV commercials.
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.
Tribes Extreme is a cancelled Starsiege Tribes single + multiplayer expansion that was in development for PC by Dynamix, around 1999. It was meant to offer a proper single player experience, with 12 campaign missions and a new tribe featured in the storyline. As we can read on the Tribes Wiki:
“In the game’s campaign, the “Bone Ripper” tribe of Grievers has completely wiped out the player’s holdfast (a military/civilian homestead where tribes members live), killing almost everyone. In the Greater Tribes, this is completely taboo – battle is highly structured, even ceremonial – you never attack civilians. The player must first rid his holdfast and surrounding area of remaining Bone Rippers, then seek revenge.”
“The single-player campaign in Tribes Extreme will continue to lean heavily on teamwork. The player will be in command of up to 7 other warriors to achieve the campaign goals. While each AI warrior will be relied on to fulfil its role (sniper, assault, defender, etc), the player can give specific commands to any if they feel it necessary. This way, we can offer a lot of fun for those who like to micromanage as well as those who just want to get in there and blast away.”
“One last thing I should mention is that if you know someone who has been hesitant to get Tribes because of the online-only play (it is pretty scary for the newer user to go online with the experts), this is the game for them. By the time they complete the training missions and the campaign, they’ll be ready to face off against the best out there. At the same time, the AI can be turned up by the advanced user (via campaign difficulty settings) to provide a real challenge. There’s some great stuff for everyone in Extreme.”
“Other than the 24 offline missions (12 training, 12 campaign), we’re shooting for around 10 balanced competition maps and at least 10 general multiplayer maps (not including the Open Call submissions). The balanced maps I’ve described above. The general maps are pretty much the same style as what was released in Tribes, but many featuring new buildings. The nice thing is we’ve been able to pay attention to what works and what doesn’t over the past months and put that knowledge to work in the new maps.”
“We’ll also be including what we call Cooperative maps, where players will be able to fight an AI team, or both teams can have human players supplemented with AI bots, depending what the server has specified. The first (AI team vs. human team) is intended to sharpen the skills of organized tribes in preparation for match play. Usually, people have had to scrimmage or do some other less-than-desirable thing to practice their team skills.”
“Over the past several months, we’ve had two teams focused on two new Tribes entities–Tribes Extreme and Tribes 2. In the past few weeks we’ve been evaluating the status of both, and we’ve come to some conclusions. First, we’ve made the decision to cancel Tribes Extreme “The Retail Product.” We had two goals for Tribes Extreme: To deliver a compelling single player experience and produce new multiplayer content for tournaments, etc.
Meanwhile, the single player component has taken us much longer to wrap our heads around than we originally anticipated and we just don’t feel we have anything close to finished that would be worth charging for or releasing. However, we’ve learned a ton of stuff during the development of Tribes Extreme, and we feel that we have a insanely cool plan for the single player component in Tribes 2”
Human Nature is a prototype FPS in development around 2000 by Paulo Ferreira, a highschool teacher who wanted to create a 3D game all by himself. According to the author, the project was ignited by his curiosity in answering the question: “How does someone develop a full 3D game in C/C++?”
In his own words “The project was never finished for various reasons: programming games was never my main activity, my lack of knowledge in 3D modelling, the computer I had back then was very limited and didn’t allow me to work on more complex things. Still, the game had a simple particle system, lightmaps, doors, 3D sound, transparencies, collisions, raycasting and other things I learned and programmed at the time”.
For this prototype Ferreira used some 3D character models he found online (originally made for Quake), and others created by himself. Players would control Twain, a soldier hired by Shadow (a security agency working for powerful clients) for his combat skills. As a secret agent you would go on a mission to fight against an evil corporation, a classic story from your “typical ‘80 / ‘90s action movies”. Your first mission would have been held in New York, a simple tutorial-job to learn the basics of the game. Players would have to search for the building where a group of cyber-terrorists were hiding after having invaded a military server. Armed and well-trained enemies would wait for our arrival: it was our goal to kill them all.
As time passed Ferreira did not find any other dev who could help his project, while he was handed more responsibilities at school and had some changes in his family life. Gradually Paulo lost interest in developing Human Nature, until he decided to abandon the project.
Nowadays aside from his classes and the “videogame programming club” he manages at school, Ferreira makes games with Unity3D, publishing them on Google Play Store, Windows Store and Itch.io. His goals are still the same as back when he was working on Human Nature: enjoy new experience and inspire his students in making games.
Huge thanks to Paulo Ferreira for sharing with us his memories, information and screenshots from his lost game!
The Unit: Operation Acid Gambit is a cancelled FPS based on the american TV series that was in development for PC by Novalogic around 2006 – 2007. Just like with previous Novalogic series “Delta Force”, Operation Acid Gambit would have probably offered the same gameplay of strategy-focused FPS, but this time following the U.S. Army special operations unit from the TV series.
Trademarks for the game’s title were filled by Novalogic in 2006, but the project was never officially announced. We found out about the existence of this lost game thanks to Novalogic fans on the Action Inside Forum, who in 2007 were able to save some screenshots from Novalogic’s FTP. Some more details on the project were later leaked online:
“From an anonymous source, within the NovaLogic developing staff we have received the following information regarding their new game(series).”
Based on all the mistakes that the DF team has had and you are supposed to change history
News release to the public is right now scheduled for Sept. of this year
As far as we know, The Unit was a different project from Delta Force: Angel Falls, another cancelled game by Novalogic (but they may have shared the same 3D engine. We can assume that something went wrong between Novalogic and the owners of The Unit TV series IP, leading to the cancellation of Operation Acid Gambit.