Star Trek: Voyager is a cancelled PC point and click adventure game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios, directed by Ken Levine and was to be published by Viacom New Media. It was in development between 1995 and 1997. It was to be based on the then currently airing Star Trek: Voyager television series, the fourth iteration in the overall Star Trek television franchise. The game was to follow the bridge crew of the USS Voyager as they attempted to rescue members captured by the Kazon, a villain race featured within the series.
Not much more is known about the plot or the overall game itself, as the game was not revealed to the wider public in any significant fashion, outside a brief showing at E3 1996, and was quietly cancelled before any significant information was revealed on the plot or gameplay. It is known the game would be split between “episodes” mimicking the format of the actual TV series. One of the producers of the game, Alan Dickens said,
“We want to make it a lot like you’re watching the TV and yelling at the characters. You’re giving them, as a team, guidance and direction on where they should go and how they should address the various problems that come before them”.
Star Trek: Voyager would have featured interactions with the environment involving typical Star Trek staples such as tricorders, allowing you to scan and take items in a typical point and click adventure fashion. The game was also to feature 3D laser scans of the actors heads, to make the game mimic and feel like the television series as much as possible. Other than that, information on the game is practically non existent, so the game remains a mystery. Screenshots from the game were leaked online a few years ago.
The game was to the first game released in a multi-title agreement between Viacom and Looking Glass, even resulting in Viacom buying a minority stake in Looking Glass. The deal fell through after Viacom decided to exit the video game industry in 1997, leading to the cancellation of the game. This abrupt cancellation led Ken Levine and others to form Irrational Games, out of frustration with Looking Glasse’s handling of the cancellation. According to Ken Levine, the technical limitations in allowing characters to express emotion especially frustrated him, and this impacted his future writing of games such as Bioshock: Infinite, making this cancelled Star Trek game a pretty influential cancelled game.
Junction Point is a cancelled (initially) fantasy MMORPG / (then) sci-fi RPG that was in development by Looking Glass Studios (Austin team) in the mid ‘90s, an ambitious project conceived by Warren Spector (Wing Commander, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Deus Ex), Steve Powers (Ultima VII, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Prey) and Allen Varney (Star Wars: Galaxies). This was their original, unfinished idea that would later led to such popular games as System Shock 2, Deus Ex and Bioshock.
Looking Glass are mostly known for their work on Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief: The Dark Project. Which such a high-profile portfolio of cult-classic RPGs we can only imagine what Junction Point could have been if only completed.
The game was never officially announced by Looking Glass, but we know about its existence thanks to old resumes and interviews by people who worked on it. The game was initially conceived as a fantasy MMORPG in the vein of Ultima Online, Lineage and EverQuest, but after a while the team decided to resize their ambitions and changed the project into a single-player sci-fi RPG.
The plot of this “sci-fi” version of the game would involve some kind of cult located inside an abandoned asteroid mining colony. On the old Steve Powers’ website we can read some details about one of the missions in the early Junction Point prototype:
“Briefing: “We have been making incredible progress in understanding the genetic structure of the Hauranid under the direction of Dr. Lycombs, a microbiology genius. Lycombs has fallen under the influence of the Guardians of the True Path, a cult that worships the Hauranid as divine beings. The cult is located inside an abandoned asteroid mining colony, where the members have set up a hive of sorts, attempting to emulate their sacred leaders. The militant cult is led by Merril Rumby, and has a captive hauranid kept in suspended animation. He has the doctor working on a method for combining the genetic material from the hauranid with humans, to create a hybrid species that is ‘closer to God’. We’ll pay for the following services…”
Primary goal: Return Dr. Lycombs to Corporation X for deprogramming.
Secondary goal 1: Return or destroy any research materials Lycombs has compiled.
Secondary goal 2: Eliminate Rumby
Problem 1: The passages throughout the colony are zero-g.
Possible solutions: Cult members use micro jets to “fly” through the complex. The player can take the micro jets from a member and use them. He can use flight skills here.
Problem 2: Mine was plutonium-like substance. Radiation may damage health or certain technology.
Possible solutions: Care must be taken to avoid radiation areas. A radiation resistance nano helps.
Problem 3: Player wants to get rid of the colony in a spectacular way.
Possible solutions: Seismic charges, found in an old mining equipment storeroom, can be used to blow open airlocks, clear rubble from passages, bust open the dome, or even break up the unstable asteroid if placed strategically in the tunnels throughout the mine. (an old portable computer with emails sent to the former mine superintendent gives clues that this is possible, computer skills make the chance of recovering this data much higher)
Problem 4: Collapsed tunnels bar the players way.
Possible solutions: Use old mining equipment to break through barriers.
Problem 5: Eliminate Rumby
Possible solutions: You find a genetic accelerator gun in the lab that will shoot out a cool ray and cause humans to become genetic human/hauranid hybrids (read: deformed) in a painful, traumatic transformation. It is currently programmed with Rumby’s DNA, and will only work on him.
Problem 6: Cult members are making it difficult to complete objectives.
Possible solutions: Hive members have networked control chips implanted in their brains used to simulate the hive-mind. A controller for the chips can be found in Rumby’s sanctuary, and it can be used to prompt the members of the hive to certain actions. (alert, sleep, congregate, repair…)
Problem 7: Find frozen hauranid
Possible solutions: Kill Hauranid captive by screwing with hibernation controls.
Revive Hauranid captive by screwing with hibernation controls. Conscious Hauranid calls for a rescue.
Problem 8: Secure escape vehicle.
Possible solutions: If you find the keys to the planetary skiff in the sanctuary, you can escape using the vehicle in the ore loading/unloading bay instead of signaling for pickup.
“That was just a small, small part of what we were trying to do. I totally recall the Junction Point game (and spent many nights worrying that someone would come along and tell me I couldn’t call my next company that!). Though it evolved over time, the ultimate plan was to make an MMO unlike all the others that were out at the time. Frankly, there are a ton of ideas in the design doc we generated that STILL haven’t been tried. If I were an MMO guy, I might give those ideas a whirl, but I’m pretty much not an MMO guy.”
“Deus Ex is a game I’ve thinking about since right around the time Underworld 2 shipped. I’ve tried get a game like this started several times (As Troubleshooter at Origin, in some respect, as Junction Point for Looking Glass). Those games didn’t happen for a variety of reasons, but I never stopped thinking about them and, despite the failure of those games to reach production, they laid much of the conceptual groundwork for Deus Ex.”
As Ion Storm Austin director, Spector later oversaw development of Deus Ex: Invisible War, released in December 2003, and Thief: Deadly Shadows, released in June 2004. Soon after Spector left Ion Storm and officially announced his new company: Junction Point Studios, named in honor of the cancelled RPG he was working on during his last months at Looking Glass.
“When [System Shock 2] was originally being discussed it had a name attached to it,” says Chey, “which was ‘Junction Point’. Some work had been done on it by Looking Glass’s Austin Texas studio, which was being run by Warren Spector. Then I think they decided that maybe they wanted to leave and start their own studio, and went on to produce the first Deus Ex game.” Looking Glass co-opted the efforts of Irrational Games, believing the team would work on Junction Point. “I remember seeing some design documents or something like that,” says Chey, adding that though little work had been done, there were some elements to it already. “I think it involved some sort of hub – the junction point – where you went on various missions,” says Chey, “but we liked the idea of doing a System Shock sequel so we put together a pitch for that and got Looking Glass interested in it.”
After working on such games as Freedom Force and SWAT 4, in 2007 Irrational Games published their most popular project: BioShock.
Only a few screenshots and a short video from the Junction Point prototype are currently preserved. If you know someone who may have more footage or documents from this lost project, please let us know.
“Deep Cover was slated to be one of the coolest games to leave the studio. It was a gritty 1960’s cold war spy action-adventure that had the elegance of thief and the depth of system shock 2.”
The game was set to incorporate more interactive elements into the Thief and System Shock pallet with a faction system which would react based on how the player decided to complete a mission, though the missions themselves had a set order of progression.
Extraction: Berlin, East Germany Sector, 1958. A top German scientist has developed a deadly biological weapon that could threaten the Soviet-American nuclear détente. Jon must find out who this scientist is, and extract the scientist out of Eastern-block Germany (willing or not).
Infiltration: Alabama, 1961. Word has it that a Soviet mole has worked his way into a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. Infiltrate the Klan enclave, find out who the mole is and get out alive.
Surveillance: Cuba, October 1962. Jon infiltrates an installation near Havana to photograph alleged Soviet nuclear SS-4 missiles.
Interdiction: Dallas, 1963. Your information is vague but you must act fast. A group of Cuban nationalists are going to try to kill President Kennedy. Find your way into the book repository and stop them.
Assassination: Bulgaria, 1964. The Turkish Undersecretary of Defense has been selling documents to Moscow. He must be eliminated before he can make a critical drop. An elite squad of Turkish terror troops heavily guards him.
Irrational and Looking Glass shared equal parts of this project, with the former hiring on staff and the latter seeking investment for the project. Ken Levine put together a story and a design doc for the project to follow, reviving the Cold War theme seen in one of his pre-Thief concepts and inspired by John Le Carre’s story “The Spy Who Came From the Cold”.
Among the level designers were Nate Blaisdell, Edward J. Moore III, Michael Swiderek, Steve Kimura (all of whom had no prior design experience) as well as Paul Hellquist, Rick Ernst, Nathan Wells, and Michael Ryan who posted screenshots of the unannounced game online in 2002 as well as implemented a search-light system into the Dark Engine. Other developers connected to the project included Ian Vogel and Alexx Kay. The lead programmer on the project had worked at Looking Glass previously and was called back by Ken Levine to work on Deep Cover.
“When I was at Irrational, I worked on Deep Cover, which was System Shock meets JFK. Hacking closets, feeding attack dogs sleep drugged meat.”
Concurrently with this development though, both companies were attempting to manage their own affairs separately. Looking Glass was having trouble paying Irrational due to the former’s financial difficulties, causing the latter to seek out contract work in November of 1999, beginning work on a project which would eventually become the Playstation 2 game The Lost. Looking Glass were also working on Thief 2, which ended up featuring some of the code originally intended for Deep Cover.
There were going to be multiple factions… depending on how you played each mission, you could make different groups pleased or disappointed. Later missions would be affected by this. while there wasn’t going to be an overall branching mission structure, each mission in the game could be changed in minor ways that would affect the flow and difficulty. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan
“When Irrational Games pulled out of the Deep Cover project, the publisher pulled out as well, together with a lot of calculated advances. This put Looking Glass into a very bad position concerning liquidity.” – Tim Stellmach
Work did continue on Deep Cover after Irrational’s departure. The studio attempted to negotiate a deal with Sony to keep the studio and the project afloat, but a restructuring within Sony caused their executive contact to be fired. The lead programmer described at least one level in a playable prototype state prior to a switch from the Dark Engine to a successor technology called the “Siege Engine”, which none of the available screenshots showcase. After his departure, the former lead programmer of British Open Championship Golf was brought on, who also was an expert on the JFK Assassination.
The closing of Looking Glass Technologies in May of 2000 put an end to Deep Cover, and subsequently migrated much of the talent over the industry. In a basic thematic sense, the spy theme with the Looking Glass style of freedom would re-emerge in Deus Ex which was released shortly before the studio dissolved.
The following screenshots were taken from very early versions of the levels… before any gameplay was implemented, and well before Looking Glass decided to switch from the Dark Engine to the Siege Engine. – Michael ‘solus’ Ryan
As we can read in Wikipedia, Thief: Deadly Shadows is a stealth game developed by Ion Storm and published by Eidos Interactive in 2004 for Xbox and PC. After Looking Glass Studios, the developer of the original two titles, went out of business in 2000, many former employees moved to Ion Storm Austin. Here they began developing the long-anticipated third part of the series, Deadly Shadows. It is the last game produced by Ion Storm before its demise in February 2005.
The idea originally was that Thief: Deadly Shadows would let you customise difficulty similarly to in System Shock, with you able to tweak how smart the AI was, what your objectives were and so on. It’s a feature which survived until the last betas, but was suddenly cut out of the final game due to the extra work it created for testers. Instead, Thief: Deadly Shadows only has the usual Easy/Normal/Expert skill settings from the older Thief games.
You can get more detail on the cut, as well as RPS co-founder and comics writer Kieron Gillen’s take on the game, in the Unlimited Hyperbole Podcast. If you have more info, screens or videos with beta differences for Thief 3, please let us know in the comments below!
Tamiya Racing is a cancelled racing game that was in development for the Nintendo 64. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely ZERO information on the game out there anywhere. According to an auction for the prototype, the game is from Intermetrics, associated with Looking Glass Studios. The label has No Gamma written on on. The seller also thinks it is very similar to the unreleased Mini Racers.
This is from the same seller who sold the also unreleased N64 Wildwaters Extreme Kayak recently for $1,600.00. From what I understand they also have a third such proto, so we may see that at some point too. The auction finished at $1,358.33 and we hope that the winner could be able to share more videos or screens from this lost game!
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