Black & White [PC – Beta / Proto]

Black & White is a god / strategy game developed by Lionhead Studios and published by Electronic Arts and Feral Interactive in 2001 for PC. The project was in development till 1997 / 1998 and in the gallery below you can see some early screenshots, taken from various target renders, prototypes, tech demos and beta versions. The initial concept for Black & White was centered around teaching to an AI character, an idea that evolved into the god’s creatures that can be raised in the final game. As we can read on GameSpot:

The initial idea was to have a little boy or girl that you would raise and teach. The artificial intelligence would have to be incredible, letting you teach your titan how to autonomously operate in the world of Eden. For Peter Molyneux, the titan gave him the chance to bring back memories of his childhood, when his action figures would tower over the ants in the sandpit. “The amazing thing about the titan,” explains Barnes, “is the idea that it would start at the size of a villager and grow to the size of a mountain.” By the end of the game, players would have their own King Kong. […]

With only three months of work under Lionhead’s belt, Molyneux set off in June of 1998 to attend E3 in Atlanta, Georgia. There, in a makeshift room on the show floor, he unveiled the game’s concept. For each game he creates, Molyneux first builds a “test bed” version, which is the basic gameplay stripped of the usual accoutrements of fancy graphics and sound. For Black & White’s test bed, the environment was an isometric green wireframe world; each villager was represented by a little pixel on the screen. […]

Fingers crossed or not, in addition to showing off the 143,000 lines of code in the test bed version, Molyneux unveiled picturesque 3D renders of what he hoped the final game would look like. One of the renders even featured the horned reaper from Dungeon Keeper as a stand-in for the titan. […]

“The nanosecond I have a hand slap a human titan, it just changes everything,” explains Molyneux. “It’s OK to slap a little monkey–people don’t wince at that–but if you are slapping a little girl, it’s just not OK.” In addition, the team realized that the amount of AI a player would expect from a human creature would far outweigh what was possible. Thus, human titans were dropped from the game and replaced by a menagerie of anthropomorphic creatures ranging from sheep and lions to turtles.

Thanks to discworld for the contribution!