Peter Molyneux

Magic Carpet [Beta – PC, PSX, Saturn]

Magic Carpet is a shooter / action game developed by Bullfrog Productions and designed by Peter Molyneux, released in may 1994 for PC, Playstation and Saturn. As we can read on Wikipedia, in the game player plays a wizard (on a magic carpet) flying over water, mountains, and other terrain while destroying monsters and rival wizards.

Pcloadletter found an old beta screenshot of Magic Carpet in Edge magazine issue 1 (october 1993) with different hud and 3rd person view. The final game can only be played in first person view so we never seen the main character on the playing screen before (thanks to Aybe for the confirmation!). Also, it seems that the game was planned for the 3DO too..

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Here’s a video from the final version:

 

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!

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Biosphere (Genewars) [PC – Beta]

Genewars is a real time strategy game released in 1996 for the PC and developed by Bullfrog Productions. The gameplay mixed some elements of strategy, along with minor terrain editing and cross-species breeding. Originally the project was started in 1991 as an Amiga CD32  game, known as “Biosphere” but it was later postponed and reworked for the PC with a different graphic style.

Some old previews can be found at the Amiga Magazine Rack!

Thanks to Celine for the contribution!

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Fable 2 [Beta – Xbox 360]

Fable 2 is an action RPG developed by Lionhead Studios and directed by Peter Molyneux, published by Microsoft Game Studios. It’s the sequel to Fable  and it was originally announced in 2006 and released in October 2008. [Infos from Wikipedia] In these images we can see a series of early concept arts that were used to create the final game, some of which show armors that were never used in the end.

In some early screenshots there is a beta version of the Bowerstone Market city market, an unused NPC (the little bald man), a different looking hero’s sister, a removed desert area and an unknown forest that looks still incomplete. Attacks that used the world’s scenery were removed. The developer diaries showcase this incomplete versions of Bowerstone market and those attacks that did not make it.

Here are some more removed features:

The dog can be called using the voice communicator, too, although Molyneux told the crowd that feature was still iffy and not ready to be shown.

There’s no HUD and no mini-map on the screen in Fable 2. Instead, you’ll have the dog acting as a scout. He’ll always stay a few steps ahead of you and try to guess where you’re headed.

Sound like a lot for one dog to handle? Well there’s more. The dog also acts as your journal of sorts. He’ll point out what’s new in a region you’ve previously been to and remind you of important things that you may have forgotten about in your questing.

Puzzles will also exist that you’ll need the dog to help solve, he’ll act as your bloodhound to follow scents, and even help you get chicks – just like real life. If that weren’t already enough, the dog will also be playable in a variety of minigames.

He also mentioned that your dog will play with other dogs. In fact, he said it has to happen although he was hesitant to add any details other than saying, “You’ve got to be able to meet my dog.” They’ll all be unique in both mind and appearance and will be customizable to match your desires. The aim is to have no two dogs be alike.

While your melee weapon is linked to the X button, there are dozens of variations you can attempt. Combat is largely rhythm based but, unlike many games with similar systems, the range of the timing seems fairly broad. Pressing X, X, (hold) X and then releasing creates a different result than X, (pause) X, (hold) X and release. To help players feel the rhythm, drums begin to pound when you string combos, signaling times to press the X button. It’s an almost tribal experience. And though the drums are initially jarring, their beat melds into the ambient noise quickly. It wasn’t long before it felt as if the music were in rhythm with my button taps and not the other way around. Blocking is also done with the X, simply by holding. This also powers you up for an attack, but each time you parry that charge is instantly dissipated. So you can’t block and then suddenly released a powerful strike.

In Lionhead Fable II Diaries (that you can download at the official Lionhead website or check below) we can even see some footage from various prototypes of the game, as the Combat Demo, world creation and other interesting development stuff. The earliest  Fable II prototype was created with the Fable I engine, but we still don’t have any screens from that version.

Also, Robert Seddon linked us to an article on Kotaku about pregnancy in games, where we can read about another removed feature from the game:

Technically, your female character in Fable II doesn’t get “pregnant” – you just get a cut scene that explains you gave birth and then the game resumes with a cradle in your house. It’s the same for male characters as it is for female. But that wasn’t the way that Lead Designer Peter Molyneux designed it.

“Originally we did plan to depict pregnancy in game with the female hero’s stomach expanding,” he said. Lionhead Studios decided to opt for a cut scene instead, though, after considering all the moral quandaries that come of having a six-month pregnant mom-to-be wielding a broadsword and getting cut up by bandits.

Thanks to Randy for the contribution!

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