Microsoft Game Studios

Mythica (Microsoft MMORPG) [PC – Cancelled]

Mythica is a cancelled MMORPG based on Vikings folklore and Norse mythology that was in development by Microsoft Game Studios between 2002 and 2004, planned to be released on PC. At the time most big gaming companies tried to launch their own massive online multiplayer games, as it was quite a lucrative market (at least until they over-saturated it). Mythica boosted impressive graphics for its time, and Microsoft also promised fun gameplay mechanics.

As we can read from their official 2003 press release:

“When playing ‘Mythica,’ players will feel like genuine Norse heroes on a personalized journey unique to them,” said Adam Waalkes, studio manager for role-playing games at Microsoft Corp. “Through ‘Mythica,’ Microsoft Game Studios will revitalize the massively multiplayer genre by putting the focus where it belongs: on gameplay.”

In the quest to become the one true hero in a vast gaming world, players may adventure with a band of fellow immortals into huge, populated public spaces or enter a Private Realm. “Mythica’s” Private Realms Technology envelopes players in story lines and environments that react to their actions in private areas of the world. Here players become the central characters in a heroic tale where actions have lasting consequences in their own persistent game world.

The Private Realms are spread across several traditional planes of existence from Norse mythology, from the grassy fields and eternal spring of Asgard to the fiery heart of Muspellheim. Using godlike powers, players can dispel droves of menacing monsters with a single blow or battle massive, monstrous beasts such as the Midgard Serpent.”

In 2011 Justin Olivetti wrote a great article about why Mythica could have been a great addition to the MMORPG market:

“No matter how similar MMOs may be to each other, each one needs a “hook” that devs and marketers can bandy about to capture the imaginations of gamers. […] With Mythica, the hook was “Let players be gods.

[…] Each day, players would get to choose whether they wanted to adventure in an open world setting or in personalized “private realms” that would change the game according to their deeds. In private realms, what you or your small group of friends did would have a lasting impact on the game world — as long as you were in that version of the game, that is.”

Mythica’s development team consisted of about forty people, but most of them were fired in 2004 when the game was officially cancelled. Just a year before Microsoft already faced another sudden problem: Mythic Entertainment (developer of popular MMORPG Dark Age of Camelot) sued Microsoft, seeing in the similarity between their name and Mythica. We could speculate it was just a way to get some money from Microsoft or interfere with their game, seeing it as a potential competitor in the same genre as DAoC. In the end Microsoft just recognized the MMORPG market was over saturated: it would have been risky to proceed with Mythica’s development, so the project was canned.

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

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Senjo no Demae Mochi [Xbox – Cancelled]

Senjo no Demae Mochi (Battlefield: Home Delivery) is a cancelled “poetical pizza delivery game” that was in development by Microsoft Games Studio Japan around 2002 – 2003, planned to be released for the original Xbox. This weird project was conceived by Gabin Ito, who is mostly known for his works on Parappa the Rapper, Um Jammer Lammy and Cubivore.

The game was officially announced at Game Show 2002, with a live-presentation by Gabin Ito and designer / manga artist Katsuki Tanaka, who was hired as a character designer for the project. While not many details about Demae Mochi’s gameplay were shared, they described their project as a surreal pizza delivery game. It looked like a strange mix between Katamari Damacy, Crazy Taxi and Yume Nikki.

The game’s protagonist was a girl named “Fran-chan”, working as a delivery-girl at a pizzeria. By following the client’s orders, you had to move around the city to deliver pizza, while avoiding cars and meeting weird characters. When asked what kind of game he wanted to make with Senjo no Demae Mochi, Gabin Ito answered “a poem”.

Promotional footage was also shown at the Tokyo Game Show presentation: you can see a panda rolling around (but Ito told the press that “there will be no panda nor battlefield in the game”) and some acid-filtered gameplay parts with Fran-chan walking around followed by some kind of white foxes (?). For sure it looked like an original project, so it’s quite unfortunate it was never completed.

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Banjo-Karting [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

Banjo-Karting (also known as The Fast and The Furriest, as it was called in RareReplay’s unlockable video, even if it was the name of an older Rare prototype) was a game prototype for Xbox 360, started by Rare Ltd. just before Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts was finished in late 2008. The prototype took advantage of classic Banjo-Kazooie characters and built upon the racing parts of Nuts and Bolts. With Rare’s shift to Kinect projects only, this prototype was cancelled.

One of the cars created specifically for this prototype later made it into the Xbox 360 version of Sonic & Sega Allstar Racing.

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Avatar Sports [Xbox 360 – Prototype]

Avatar Sports was a sports game in development at Rare Ltd. in 2007 / 2008 before Kinect development started. It used an unpublished motion controller that can be compared to the Wii Remote. Little is known about this title apart from the use of Microsoft’s Avatars and the inclusion of tennis. Development was halted when the motion controller was abandoned and first Kinect/Natal prototypes emerged. Rare then started to create their Kinect Sports, released in november 2010.

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My Amazing Story [Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

My Amazing Story (AKA Bean Stalker) was a family-oriented project developed by Planet Moon Studios. Originally started as a Wii prototype in 2007, Microsoft Game Studios soon approached the developer with a publishing contract for a Xbox 360 retail release.

The title went through different art styles and had various gameplay changes. In later stages of the project Planet Moon Studios prototyped early Kinect playability concepts and even pitched a proposal for a graphical overhaul of the Xbox Live Avatars at Microsofts’ request.

The project was halted in early 2009 when Microsoft Game Studios changed their focus to lifestyle Kinect games and established franchises. Planet Moon Studios were closed down in late 2010.

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