Looking Glass Studios

Deep Cover [PC – Cancelled]

Deep Cover was a first-person shooter being developed by Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games in the 1999 to 2000 period. During the development of System Shock 2, the Looking Glass team began work on a new game which would take the concepts of Thief: The Dark Project into a modern setting. Using the Dark Engine originally developed for Thief, the spy-espionage game took on the title of Deep Cover.

“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.”

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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 storyThe Spy Who Came From the Cold”.

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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

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After 9 months of work on Deep Cover, Looking Glass managed to procure a major publisher: Microsoft, who expected the studio to collaborate with Irrational Games on the title. However, Irrational were moving out of the Looking Glass offices and devoting their time to The Lost, leaving Looking Glass to work on the contract alone. Disappointed, their publisher pulled out of the one million dollar deal in February of 2000, leaving the project on the verge of cancellation.

“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

Article by AguyinaRPG

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Thief: Deadly Shadows [Beta – Xbox / PC]

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!

Thanks to Joe Martin for the contribution! 

Tamiya Racing [Cancelled – N64]

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!

Original Auction page on Ebay

Post by Arshes91

Original sourcewww.gamesniped.com

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System Shock 2 [Dreamcast – Cancelled]

System Shock 2 its a FPS originally released in 1999 for PC developed by Irrational Games and Looking Glass Studios and published by Electronic Arts, in may 2000, a week after Looking Glass Studios closed doors, Vatical Entertainment announced a dreamcast port for a end year release, the port was being made by Marina Games, and they missed the release date, in 2001 Vatical said that the port was still in development, but no release date was given, in the end the game was cancelled, and Marina Games closed without a game made or ported, the possibly reason was SEGA decision to exit the console market.

In april 2010 gamer_s from dreamcast-talk forum found in his devkit, a System Shock 2 and Thief 2 folders, while System Shock 2 could be bootable, Thief 2 was in very early stages and lacked many of necessary dreamcast files, the devkit was from a Eidos employee, in 9th september, to celebrate the 11th anniversary of dreamcast in USA, gamer_s released the files, they can be downloaded in this link http://dreamcast-talk.com/beta/

Sadly the port was at beginnig of development too, loadings are very long (about 5 minutes or more), slow framerate, no HUD and you cannot open doors.

Thanks to Vicente for the contribution!

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Wildwaters (Extreme Kayak) [N64 – Cancelled]

Wildwaters (also know as “Extreme Kayak” and “X-Stream”) is a cancelled racing game that was in development by Looking Glass Studios for the Nintendo 64 in 1998 / 1999. The project was announced at E3 1999 by Ubisoft (that was interested as a publisher) while the studio was working on Destruction Derby 64 (published in the same year), but sadly it was never finished.

Wildwaters 64 was very promising as Looking Glass were able to create an engine with real physics running for the waterflow through the river on an N64, but it needed more time and love which eventually ran out. Five different gameplay modes, including Arcade, Time Trial, Championship, Finals and Versus Battle were planned for the game.

Some months later, on May 2000, Looking Glass Studios went out of business during a financial crisis related to their publisher at the time, Eidos Interactive. Wildwaters / Extreme Kayak vanished forever, along with their other promising N64 racing game, Mini Racers.

There was another cancelled water racing game titled “Wild Water World Championships” that was planned for the Nintendo 64, but it should not be confused with this one as WWWC was developed by Promethean Designs.

Thanks a lot to Les Betterley for the help in preserving some images from this lost project!

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