GT Interactive

Trans Am Racing 1968-72 (EAI Interactive) [PC – Cancelled]

Trans Am Racing 1968-72 is a cancelled racing game that was in development by EAI Interactive and would have been published by GT Interactive on PC. In 1998, Papyrus / Sierra released Grand Prix Legends, a historic-based racing simulator based on the 1967 Formula 1 season: the selling point (other than the historic accuracy of the 1967 F1 season) was its advanced 3D physics model.

GT Interactive announced it’s own retro simulator, Trans Am Racing 1968-72, which was to focus on the golden era of Trans Am racing, in which the American “Big 4” (Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, American Motors) all fielded cars. The romanticism of 1960-70s V8 muscle played into this, as well as a host of Trans Am tracks, in particular the demolished Riverside, which hasn’t been replicated in a game or sim to that point. As we can read on PC Zone 66 (August 1998):

“If you’ve ever fancied yourself behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, AMC  Javelin, Plymouth Barracuda, Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird or Trans Am, look out for GT Interactive’s Trans-Am Racing this October. It’s a 3D race sim  that captures all the thrills and spills of the 1968-72 SCCA series. The   developers insist that their  physics model is the most  accurate yet, and to help  make the game accidents  seem more realistic they  even went to the extent of  crashing the cars and  analysing what happened.  They also brag that their 16-player network option is unequalled by any other driving game.”

It was planned to be published in the Fall of 1998, then was delayed till the Spring of 1999. Screenshots were released and a playable version was made for E3 in 1998 (according to a Usenet message). More details on the game were shared by former EAI Interactive developer Adrian Penn in an interview with Sports Gaming:

“EAI is the only game developer that employs a team of people who have been producing litigation animations for nearly a decade. Attorneys rely on EAI to produce scientifically accurate animations that are realistic enough to be admitted into evidence.  EAI has produced thousands of animations for court cases that touch many areas of the law. And not once has any of these animations failed the arduous, evidentiary process mandated by the courts.  EAI’s litigation team, which includes vehicle dynamics experts, engineers and physicists, worked with the game development team to create some of the most realistic car crushes and crashes that have ever been viewed on the PC. These crashes conform to the laws of physics and follow the properties of vehicle dynamics. And although the typical gamer may not be versed in the properties of physics or structural dynamics—these players will understand when they see this—that TransAm Racing is something special.”

“A technological gem that adds additional authenticity is the real-time crush. When a car is crushed during the game, the deformations are produced on-the-fly. In real time. Let’s say you careen your Ford Mustang into your opponent’s Chevy Camaro. The crush that occurs is calculated instantaneously. Ordinarily, a game will have several pre-rendered crush eventualities programmed into it. With TranAm, the deformations are visualized immediately. And of course, these racing battle wounds conform to the laws of physics and engineering. The crush that you see is what would have occurred in the real world under the same circumstances.”

“There is multiplayer support for single races and seasons consisting of up to twelve races. You can play over LAN, modem, and the Internet. Yes, you’ll see Trans-Am on Sega’s HEAT. […] There’s 12 tracks and 25+ cars (we’ll cram in as many as we can).”

“Yes, 48-hours is the maximum race length. Trans-Am races in that era varied in length – two and four-hour races were common. We’d originally set the maximum length to 12-hours – Sebring, and early Trans-Am venue, was a 12-hour enduro. However, we received a number of requests from sim racers on the Net asking for longer races. So we upped the max to 48. Unfortunately, there’s no provision for nighttime racing so the races will be 48-hours of continuous daylight.”

However, the sim would be cancelled in early 1999, possibly due to the low sales of Papyrus’ Grand Prix Legends. The engine would be used for the PS1, Saturn and PC game Dukes of Hazzard: Racing for Home.

Thanks to Mike for the contribution!

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Wingblade (Bootprint Entertainment) [PC – Cancelled]

Wingblade is a cancelled flying-action arena shooter that was in development by Bootprint Entertainment around 1998 – 1999, planned to be published on PC by their parent company GT Interactive. The team was formed by former ORIGIN Systems (Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock) developers, lead by producer Rod Nakamoto who wanted to create new, ambitious video games.

As we can read on Gamespot:

“Rod Nakamoto recently left Origin Systems to found a wholly owned development studio for GT Interactive. It’s called Bootprint Entertainment and should make its mark on the industry in the coming years. […] Like GT’s other wholly owned studio, CaveDog, Bootprint is being given free reign to develop the games it wants. Nakamoto says he and his teams want to create products that are not only competitive in terms of graphics, but also in terms of AI and gameplay. But, Roan says, “the main thrust of our games is going to be multiplayer, we’ll still have single-player .

But the near future for Bootprint is all about multiplayer games. Not so much persistent worlds, like Ultima Online, but persistent gaming environments like battle.net. Roan hopes to create games that will grow an online community. […] Bootprint also sees a future in hybrid games. Nakamoto says that they will create hybrids, “with an emphasis on action and a combination of strategy and RPGs. They make for unique products.”

Bootprint is starting out with a technology team, which will soon start work on the engine for its first two games, and two product teams. One team is working on an action/RPG, while the other is working on an action game that could have strategy elements.”

Unfortunately Wingblade was never officially announced by Bootprint Entertainment nor GT Interactive, so details about its gameplay and settings are scarce. By reading that Gamespot article and by looking at the available footage we may speculate it was going to be an online multiplayer shooter in which players could freely fly around fantasy levels to find and kill their opponents.

Keep in mind Wingblade was in development during the “Online FPS craze” of the late ‘90s – early ‘00s, when cult titles such as Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament were some of the most played games on PC. For sure it looked great for 1999 and it could have been a fun multiplayer game if only released.

Unfortunately in 1999 GT Interactive posted a net loss of $254 million, with their game sales failing to meet expectations. In November Infogrames Entertainment bought 70% of GT Interactive, but many of their internal teams had to be closed: after just a couple of years, Bootprint Entertainment was no more. And all of their games in development (Wing Blade, Viscera and Wrath) were canned and lost forever.

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Angel quest (Virtual Studio) [PS1, PC – Cancelled]

Angel Quest is a cancelled action adventure that was in development by french company Virtual Studio (Ar’Kritz the Intruder, S.T.O.R.M.) around 1996 / 1997, to be published by GT Interactive (Driver, Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus, Critical Depth) for Playstation and PC. You could freely explore a huge (for its time) 3D world by flying around with its winged protagonist, somehow similar to a 3D Kid Icarus. You would fight against enemies in real time, helping NPCs and resolving quests as in a classic Action RPG.

As far as we know GT Interactive never officially announced this project, but thanks to Stéphane de Luca who shared some images and details on his website, we can preserve the memory of this lost game: 

“This project was the first to use optical motion capture for real time animation: we pioneered this advanced technology. The heroes was an Angel living in a very large world: he could make use of his ability to fly to speed up its move towards the next location to visit. Numerous characters were also there to help him find his way, giving him potential clues through interactive dialogs. 

Angel Quest was running on PlayStation on which I programmed the engine and the game in C and assembler. All the characters were in 3D and animated through motion capture: I developed a compression tool that reduced the data stream (curve) that was moving each node of the skeleton. The word was really huge: I had to stream all blocks silently from the CD-ROM drive as the heroes was moving: it was a big challenge due to bandwidth limitation.”

In the end Angel Quest was canned for unknown reasons. Virtual Studio later worked on other cancelled action games for PS1, such as Commando and Valerian.

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Steam [PC – Cancelled]

Developed by Reflection Interactive ( best known for its Driver series ), Steam is a cancelled 3D, third person adventure with a gothic flavour. Scheduled to appear in ’99 on PC the game never reached the stores shelves maybe because their parent company, GT Interactive, was acquired by Infogrames in that same year.

Scans from Next Generation issue 51.

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Elysium [PC – Cancelled]

Elysium was described as an “episodic role-playing adventure” with more than 40 planned episodes, each of which wouls offer 10 to 20 hours of gameplay. The driving force behind it was Producer/Designer John Cutter whose past credits include the classic Betrayal at Krondor. The episodes however would never be released probably because GT Interactive ( the publisher ) was spiraling into debts at that time and soon would be acquired by Infogrames.

For more information about the game check RPG Vault intreview with John Cutter.

Scan from GamePro issue 109.

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