Gearbox Software

Aliens: Colonial Marines [PS2 – Cancelled]

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a cancelled squad-based First-Person Shooter video game developed by Check Six Studios and published by Fox Interactive and Electronic Arts, exclusively for the Playstation 2, from 2000 to 2002. It was based on the eponymous movie franchise, and was going to take place between the second and third films, with a rescue team of colonial marines and a salvage team went on a search-and-rescue mission for the missing United States Colonial Marines ship, Sulaco. It is not related to the 2013 game of the same name.

The game was officially revealed in May 2001 by EA and showed at E3. You would play as Lt. Nakamuri who could command up to 4 marines (from a pool of 12), all of which had their own personalities and skills. IGN was able to see the game in action and wrote:

Aliens: Colonial Marines pits players in a brand new story that follows the second movie in the series, Aliens. In short, the game begins as your ship discovers a drifting marine space ship floating far too close to a powerful sun that’s pulling it in at a rapid pace. Your team boards the seemingly empty ship, and then you discover a team of rogue scavengers has taken over the ship, hoping to steal equipment, food and resources of any kind. You also discover that aliens are onboard, and killing off the scavengers. As you fight off aliens and find the pilot cabin, you must redirect the vessel before it crashes into the sun.

In one of the early scenes in the game, you confront the alien queen in her egg chamber. She is laying hundreds of alien eggs, and when she notices you, she breaks off from her birthing carapace, and begins chasing you through the ship.

It is a squad-based game in which players can determine the shape of their squad, by simply pressing a button. There are several different configurations, among them a few shaped in a square, a dome, and a triangle, and the squad walks with you and protects you from rogue alien attacks.

The game is remarkable similar to Alien Resurrection on the PlayStation in its pace and look. Players don’t zip around the game like a standard FPS. Instead, you walk around, paced and are constantly on the lookout for alien attacks, which run out of different corridors in front and behind you when you least expect it. Many aspects of the movies have been incorporated into this game, including set design and sound. As you walk through the corridors, knocked out humans, incased in alien goo are strung up along the walls, some dead, and some still living. You can actually save the live ones, who will then join your squad. They will stay with you throughout the game, unless you are unlucky, in which instance they bear little baby aliens from their chest. Then you’re in trouble. (…)

The game moves a slow framerate right now, but the controls were imminently better than in Alien Resurrection, with quick response and rapid turnaround times. I was glad to finally play a game that played like the movies, and that is also good. Now they just have to speed the game up to 60 fps, speed up and tune the controls and work story-based scripts into the game, hopefully like in Half-Life or Red Faction, and they’ll have a hit on their hands.

Initially scheduled for a release in Fall of 2001, the title was pushed back to a release somewhere in Spring of 2002 and then for November of the same year, before being put on-hold by EA in May 2002. It was officially cancelled in October 2002 with EA citing that “there were no plans to pick up its development in the future”. The project was far from complete but no reason were given about why it was cancelled back then. In October 2018, Wumpagem got an interview from former Game Director Joel Goodsell. He explained briefly that Aliens: Colonial Marines was cancelled for technical issues:

Check Six also had a contract for an Alien Colonial Marines game being worked on simultaneously with Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. The game had some amazing lighting – on the order of what we see in Alien: Isolation or Dead Space – way ahead of its time. Unfortunately, performance and production issues killed that title.

It wasn’t until 2020-2021 that more lights were shared about the game thanks to a short investigating documentary by Youtuber Mr. FO1. AVPGalaxy repeated the words from developers Clancy John Imislund, Jamien McBride and Franck de Girolami:

I was a junior programmer for a short period of time on the project. When they were doing the concept, there were other kinds of brand new Xenomorphs and you would have to fight them in the game. Check Six was just too small of a company to make a game as big as Colonial Marines. Spyro: Enter the Dragon was basically funding the game. – Jamien McBride

I was a graphics artist at Check Six and did some work on Aliens and Spyro. I left after a couple of months because of how stressful the work schedule was. The codebase was very difficult to work in. – Franck de Girolami

Check Six got a deal with Maya and they were told to write a SDK for Maya so people can write games. When I started work, I was told to work on Aliens Colonial Marines instead of the SDK. I told the team at Check Six that it was terrible and broken and it needed to be documented so people could work on it. This caused some issues with Maya as four companies bought the SDK and returned it as it wasn’t documented. It was 70% done and the 70% that was, was terrible, slow, buggy and it crashed all the time.

One time, Check Six went to Fox with a DVD they’d burnt. It was a sequence showing the Queen and it worked perfectly prior to the visit. When they showed them the video, the Queen appeared but she was half faded. An explosion occurred which was faded because the shaders were buggy.

The last time they went to Fox, they burnt another DVD of the intro video which worked fine before that. When they showed Fox, the video plays and the game just crashes. You could make out a human character on the screen but the textures weren’t loading and it was about to have some dialogue when the video crashed. This was a surprise to Fox as they’d visited Check Six before and thought the game was looking great. It was at this point, Fox just cancelled the project altogether. – Clancy John Imislund

According to some developers, the game was broken into levels and was mission-based. There were three main acts in the game, and each one was made up of about seven levels. The first act took place on the USS Sulaco. It was hinted that the final act would take place on the aliens’ home planet. There were flamethrowers, pulse rifles with grenade-launcher attachments, and the shoulder-mounted smart gun. As for the aliens, alongside Facehuggers, Chestbursters, Warriors and Praetorians, new types were planned.

Although not related, it is worth mentionning that the second Aliens: Colonial Marines game, this time published by SEGA and initially made by Gearbox Software, also went into development hell as it was announced too soon, in December 2006. Gearbox worked briefly on it until the beginning of 2008 before being focus on the first Borderlands, which was itself modified from its initial form, before SEGA temporarly put on-hold the project in 2009 because of the economical crisis. The development was re-launched in the end of 2010 with TimeGate Studios as the main developer.

Article updated by Daniel Nicaise


Images from the Gearbox Software prototype – circa 2008:


2008 teaser from the Gearbox Software’s version


Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 [Cancelled – PS3, Xbox 360, PC]

Announced in 2011 at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 was to be the next instalment in the Brothers in Arms franchise after Brothers in Arms: Hells Highway. The game was originally set to be released sometime in the first half of 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC, but that never happened. However, in 2012 Ubisoft let go of the Brothers in Arms IP and The Furious 4 trademark granting the games developers, Gearbox Software, full ownership of both. The president of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, then announced that the Brothers in Arms name was being dropped from the title due to negative fan feedback and from now on the game would just be called Furious 4. Pitchford also said that internal discussions held within Gearbox led to the same conclusion that Brother in Arms and Furious 4 should be separate IPs. He said that there would be another Brothers in Arms game sometime in the future when the time is right but for now Gearbox was concentrating on Furious 4 which would be undergoing some drastic changes.


While previous Brothers in Arms games followed Sargent Matt Baker and the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division in a serious historical setting, Furious 4 would have taken a quite different approach to the World War 2 setting. Furious 4 looked like a cross between Borderlands and Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 film Inglorious Bastards. The plot followed a group of four characters as they massacred their way through Germany in 1944 all the way to Hitler, and that’s all we really know about the plot itself.

There is a small bit of information on each of the four playable characters. Firstly there was Chok who was a Native American soldier with a fondness for hatchets. Next up was Stitch who was an Irishman with a few lose screws who seemed to enjoy taking out his enemies with a custom made taser a little too much. Crockett was from Texas and could use a cattle prod to brand enemies. Lastly there was Montana who was a Nazi killing lumberjack with a large machine gun, a chainsaw and bear traps. There was also a narrator who spoke over the gameplay and was just as much of a character as the other four. He would clue you into the moment to moment plan and often hinted that he felt the members of the Furious Four were quite stupid. The only gameplay shown for the game was behind closed doors at E3 2011 and judging from what the people who saw it said historical accuracy was not a concern in Furious 4, apparently they even had a helicopter in a WWII shooter. The only other thing discussed about the gameplay was it’s over the top trigger happy violence that attempted humour.

On the 16th of July 2015 Randy Pitchford was speaking at the Develop: Brighton conference and said:

“Furious 4 is not a thing anymore, right? Creative development is a trip. The idea that something started as a Brothers in Arms game, through some absurd convulsion, ended up as Battleborn is evidence of what’s possible.”

With that Furious 4 was officially cancelled although as Pitchford said it transformed into Battleborn so it’s likely that a lot of Furious 4’s assets will end up in that game. In fact Furious 4’s Montana character will feature in Battleborn.

The good news for Brothers in Arms fans is that Gearbox is going to start development on the next “authentic” game in the series soon which will more than likely follow on from Hell’s Highway. Gearbox has been under fire in recent years for Duke Nukem: Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines although their Borderlands series has been positively received and proves that they are talented developers. Gearbox is currently working on Battleborn and their website says they’re hiring for the next Borderlands game so we can expect news on that soon.

Article by Conor Hutton




Borderlands [Prototype – PC / Xbox 360 / PS3]

Borderlands is a science fiction FPS with RPG elements developed by Gearbox Software for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The game was originally revealed in the September 2007 issue of Game Informer magazine. [Info from Wikipedia] When the game was shown again in April 2009, Gearbox changed the graphic style of the game using a “cell shading” technic, that they like to call “Concept Art Style”, instead of the original “realistic” look. Some of the beta places and characters seen in the early screens are not be present in the final version or were heavily changed.

Beta Version:


Final version:


Also, in the final game’s code are still hidden lots and lots of beta unused elements, as we can read from Celice posts in the Cutting Room Floor Forum:

There’s also the old Doctor Zed along with his old textures, but for some reason the new textures are applied to the model :/ A bunch of male and female villagers from the early version can also be found here, along with some interesting bandits, like one that’s apparently a spawner? and a jetpack guy. The old Elite Bandits were reused as Krom’s design. Also, a bunch of the internal names are different, like Scooter’s original name is Brock, and Steele’s redesigned character is named Helga (the old Steele is still present with Steele as the filename).

I know a bunch of early audio footage was salvaged from this folder, but these filenames seem almost just as telling as the audio files themselves. One of the in-game signs mentions a mine, along with two other locations.

Also, Lilith is in a lot of files for some reason. And in the Salt Flats, that big saw-thing might have been a boss–at least, that’s included in some of the files. Could have just been a designation as the boss-piece–but the piece in question doesn’t resemble the actual saw you climb up and fight Flynt on at all (also Flynt’s name is Larry :p ). Some mobile treads are included in the files. There is also a shovel-apparatus instead of a saw in the files as well–quite interesting!

[beta map that can be seen in the gallery below] This shows the Salt Flats in the north-west, New Haven in the west, Old Haven in the east, the Scrap Yard is the yellow area, and I don’t recognize the other letters. Trash Coast/Pirate Bay (Treacher’s Landing) seem to be somewhere else. This is a whiteboard drawing, probably an early planning phase? Interesting layout at least!

In the e3 2008 video, we see a section of land, but I don’t remember what the guy called it (Randy Pitchford?). He did mention that the previous year, they had shown Salt Flats privately at another show. A big long-shot would be to compare the old e3 2008 video with this whiteboard map and see if any of the shapes seem to match. The map shown in the video seemed much more verdant than the final game, so it could have been anywhere really.

And for the audio files, after a little more rummaging, they don’t look to be that interesting :/ The Interludes are the area with Mad Maxx and Baron Flynt, and the other areas are similarly named differently. The editor’s area names match the audio file names.

And I forget what folder I found the texture, but there was an early load-screen mockup that showed four characters standing with their experience levels, and some flavor text at the bottom about how many kills a character god. I guess the loading screens were gonna be a bit more stat-centric. In the level editor the loading spawn maps have the four characters spawn in the same arrangement. In an early test map, there was also a wonky image of an early player inventory. Everything was distorted, and it looked pretty basic. The main weapon loadout was the same though as it is in the final game, though the arrangement was a bit different. Menu text was also present, but too hard to decipher.

In the test folder are more early materials. There are a few different skins for the original car, but most of the models are missing, and if they aren’t, their textures are. However, this hover car seems to have survived pretty well! A final hover car is in the game, but I haven’t found it myself just yet (other people have found it, along with a tramway shown on one of the bulletin boards).

Apparently at one point Pandora was to have its own asteroid belt orbiting it, visible during the day. Kinda like that ring-thing from the Halo games?

Speaking of the e3 2008 video, I found the character models for Roland, Modecai, and Lilith, all in their original designs. The interesting thing is that Roland has three different costumes. The original Siren, apart from the blonde hair, also wears an outfit striking similar to Tannis–personally, I think the original Siren’s design became Tannis. A later trailer for the game still shows the three characters, but Roland appears to have the darker skin, and Lilith now looks like the Steele character, who’s final file’s internal name is Helga. Did The Siren become two other characters before her final design was settled? Interesting stuff to consider.

Another interesting thing is the Character Salix, who is also included with some of the Siren assets. She’s in the final-game assets too, but retains her old design. That would’ve made four different Siren’s, at least, in the active development cycle, with Salix being the only NPC version. And she ultimately wasn’t used :p Maybe she’ll show up in the sequel? I found various assets for a dam in the game, and that showed up in the second one :p

There’s also a lot of temple-like pieces, like generic Aztec-temple stuff, called Worker’s Temple. Dunno if it was just a place-holder; a lot of remnant level pieces are very modular, kinda like TimeSplitter’s map maker–their more like cell pieces than actual models.

In the Temp\Cinematic folder, there are placeholder for quests. In the e3 2008 preview, Randy said each character would have their own private stories to explore, so maybe the characters were more story-centric earlier one? Modecai can be seen in one of the placeholders, along with Helena and Roland. The old Scooter name is also referenced (Brock), so he was evidentially around at this time too, at least in name. Speaking of Helena, in her old files, she’s internally referred to as deal_breaker, which is interesting. This head has a different hair style than the bun-look showed in the 2008 trailer and final deisgn (and in this preview shot). Her iconic scars are present in all three versions of the character though. Wonder if it was thematically tied to the deal_breaker name? Double-face? Huh.

Speaking of the dark-helmet, in the sound assets, there is a sound for night-vision helmet stuff. And there are also files for stamina and encumbrance; an old hud asset (older/different than the e3 2008 hud and the hud asset mentioned earlier) has places for stamina. There were also two types of grenages

A bunch of other food items are also in the game, including a bunch of fresh vegetables growing in the soil!

If you jump over to Rust Commons East from Rust Commons West, you can activate a quest marker for activating the radar dishes; a building also has a different layout, as well as a marker for a quest board and a WELCOME sign not present in the actual Rust Commons East. An indicator of an older development state of the area? A huge path is open as well, connecting the very north with the rest of the level, which is barred off with cliffsides in the final version. If you go to the radar dish closest, you can activate a computer which completes the northern-radar dish quest normally meant to be accessed in the actual Rust Commons East. Both radar dishes actually have their switches active, and in different places than their normal locations in the actual Rust Commons East.

Also of interest are a few oil pumps which buttons not usable, across both Rust Commons East and West. They are present, but not usable. Old assets of a defunct quest, maybe? Speaking of defunct, in New Haven, once you try to repair the claptrap, there is a dahl repair kit on a rooftop near a white chest. You can pick it up, but it doesn’t activate the quest marker for the repair kit; in the editor, this repair kit is activated with some scripting, but I don’t know what the stuff indicates or means.

Thanks to Iven Allen and Daniel Nicaise for the contribution!



Prototype Story Clips:

BETA/Prototype Enemies:


Duke Nukem Forever [PC – Prototype]

Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) is a first-person shooter that was being developed by the now-defunct 3D Realms. It follows Duke Nukem 3D as the next game in 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem series.

Duke Nukem Forever was officially announced on April 28, 1997 along with the purchase of a license to use the Quake II engine and the intention of releasing the game no later than mid-1998. Original prototype work on the game had begun as early as January. However, 3D Realms did not get the Quake II engine code until November 1997, and the earlier screenshots were simply mock-ups with the Quake engine.

In June 1998, the 3D Realms team switched to Epic’s Unreal Engine. Broussard said that the transition from the Quake to the Unreal engine would take from “a month to 6 weeks” and that the game would not be significantly delayed. He also reassured gamers that the items unveiled in the May 1998 E3 demo would carry over on the Epic engine. He also said that DNF would be released in 1999.

Images (1997 / 2001 version):

In 1999, 3D Realms announced that they had upgraded to the newer version of the Unreal Engine. They released a second batch of screenshots on November 1 that showcased Duke Nukem Forever on the Unreal engine for the first time. In December, 3D Realms released a Christmas card that suggested that DNF would be released in 2000.

At the May 2001 E3, 3D Realms released a second video that showed a couple of minutes of in-game footage, which notably showed the player moving in a what appears to be Las Vegas and a certain level of interactivity (the player buys a sandwich from a vending machine and pushing the keypads).

In 2002, after hiring several new programmers, the team completely rewrote the renderer and other game engine modules, beginning work on a new generation of game content. Broussard estimated that around 95% of the previous level design work was scrapped in the process. He also later stated that they were never less than two years away from shipping with the UT based version of the game.

On September 9, 2004, GameSpot reported that Duke Nukem Forever had switched to the Doom 3 engine..On March 20, 2007, Scott Miller explained in an interview with YouGamers that they were still using the Unreal Engine, albeit a heavily modified version at this point.

Rumors in April 2005 suggested that the game would appear at 2005 E3, along with 3D Realms’ previously canceled Prey. While Prey did make an appearance, the rumors of Duke Nukem Forever’s appearance turned out to be false.

In April 2006, Broussard demonstrated samples of the game, including an early level, a vehicle sequence, and a few test rooms. One notable  demonstration, according to the May 2006 issue of Computer Games magazine featured the interactive use of an in-game computer to send actual e-mails.

A new video was released on December 19, 2007 claimed to be made by employees of 3D Realms during their spare time to show at the annual Christmas party.

On June 5, 2008, in-game footage of the game was featured on the premiere episode of The Jace Hall Show. Filmed entirely on hand-held cameras but not originally expected to be publicly released[50], the video showed host Jason Hall playing through parts of a single level on a PC at 3D Realms’ offices.

Images (2007 / 2009 version):

Two unlockable screenshots were included with the September 24, 2008 release of Duke Nukem 3D on the Xbox Live Arcade. Located in the game’s art gallery upon earning all of Duke Nukem 3D’s achievements, one DNF screenshot featured a first person view of Duke reloading his pistol, while facing an Octabrain, with another in the distance, in a Dam. The other screenshot depicted a frontal close-up of Duke in a strip joint.On May 6, 2009, due to lack of funding, major staff cuts were initiated with the entire development team being laid off and other employees being given notice of their employment with the company being terminated.

It was reported on May 14, 2009 that Take-Two, holders of the publishing rights of Duke Nukem Forever, filed a breach of contract suit against Apogee Software Ltd (3D Realms) over failing to deliver the aforementioned title. Take-Two has asked for a restraining order and a preliminary injunction, to make 3D Realms keep the Duke Nukem Forever assets intact during proceedings.

On May 18, 2009 3D Realms key executives released the first full official “press release” with their side of the developments. “… 3D Realms (3DR) has not closed and is not closing. … Due to lack of funding, however, we are saddened to confirm that we let the Duke Nukem Forever (DNF) development team go on May 6th,… While 3DR is a much smaller studio now, we will continue to operate as a company and continue to licence and co-create games based upon the Duke Nukem franchise. … Take-Two’s proposal was unacceptable to 3DR for many reasons, including no upfront money, no guarantee minimum payment, and no guarantee to complete the DNF game. …we viewed Take-Two as trying to acquire the Duke Nukem franchise in a “fire sale.” … …we believe Take-Two’s lawsuit is without merit and merely a bully tactic to obtain ownership of the Duke Nukem franchise. We will vigorously defend ourselves against this publisher.”

[Infos from Wikipedia]

An interesting article on Wired also explains better the problems with Duke Nukem Forever’s development:

Broussard simply couldn’t tolerate the idea of Duke Nukem Forever coming out with anything other than the latest and greatest technology and awe-inspiring gameplay. He didn’t just want it to be good. It had to surpass every other game that had ever existed, the same way the original Duke Nukem 3D had.

But because the technology kept getting better, Broussard was on a treadmill. He’d see a new game with a flashy graphics technique and demand the effect be incorporated into Duke Nukem Forever. “One day George started pushing for snow levels,” recalls a developer who worked on Duke Nukem Forever for several years starting in 2000. Why? “He had seen The Thing” — a new game based on the horror movie of the same name, set in the snowbound Antarctic — “and he wanted it.”


Developers want to make their product superb, and the publishers just want it on the shelves as soon as possible. If the game starts getting delayed, it’s the publisher that cracks the whip. Broussard and Miller were free to thumb their noses at this entire system. Indeed, they even posted gleeful rants online about the evil of publishers and their deadlines. “When it’s done” became their defiant reply whenever someone asked when Duke Nukem Forever would be finished.


But the money was finally running out. Broussard and Miller had spent some $20 million of their own cash on Duke Nukem Forever — and their current development team would likely burn through another several million dollars a year. Miller and Broussard were forced to break their cardinal rule: They went to Take-Two with hat in hand, asking for $6 million to help finish the game.


Many observers think Take-Two is attempting to bleed 3D Realms dry until it has no more cash, then convince a judge to force Broussard and Miller to hand over intellectual-property rights to the Duke Nukem franchise to repay the $2.5 million advance. “It’s an IP grab,” says one Dallas-area developer.

In June 2011, after 14 years of development hell, Duke Nukem Forever was officially released worldwide by 2K Games, with development handled by 4 studios: 3D Realms, Gearbox Software (who helped polish and port the game), Triptych Games (a studio comprised of ex-3D Realms members that worked on DNF in their homes until Gearbox began helping them), and Piranha Games (who worked on the multiplayer). While the past iterations (2001, 2003, etc.) of the game can be considered cancelled due to the vast differences between those versions and the final, the footage from 2009 can be considered beta footage, considering that most of the elements of the footage appear in the final game.

As a reward for finishing the game, Duke Nukem Forever includes never-before-seen footage and screenshots from the game throughout all of the years of development, all of which can be seen below.

Thanks to Timothy Adkins and destructor for the contributions!







2009 Triptych Trailer

Screenshot Gallery