RPG

Grafan (Emogence) [PC – Cancelled]

Grafan is a cancelled RPG supposed to be the first big project of 2003 freshly founded company EMOGENCE (Emotion-intelligence), consisting of ex Microsoft staff Herb Marselas and Chas (Charles) Boyd. Both coming from a technical background, Marselas started working for Microprose in the 90ies and made his name for blockbusters like “Age Of Mythology”, “Halo 2” and many more. Boyd on the other hand originally came from the Aeronautics Industry and later worked with different Hardware and video game companies as a mentor to help improve engine-performance.

What started out as a hobby, later became a concrete business idea:

“We were talking about the kinds of graphics and gameplay we`d like to see in games and whether we could start a studio that provides a gameplay experience that stood out from the crowd.“

Their ambitious plan was to create a PC first person action role playing game “…that delivers great gameplay and graphically surpasses any interactive entertainment experience to date“, optimistically setting a deadline to the end of the same year (2004).

Apparently the key of saving so much time was to automate the generation of content – including world building and scripting, which would be done manually by any other developer.  They though graphics would evolve so quickly, they felt like they didn’t want to lose time and deliver a game that was technically high-end and brand new as soon as possible. Unfortunately we know the game was never released and only a few interviews and a handful of screenshots remain today.

There was never any talk about why or when the game was cancelled or what happened to the studio. We can only reconstruct the game`s planned content, by closely reading statements and interviews done by IGN in 2004:

“Grafan gives the player a huge amount of character customization through class selection, skill point spending, and by equipping many of the thousands of items found in the world. There is a single player campaign as well as a random dungeon quest mode. The underlying engine is a highly sophisticated 3D random dungeon generator that utilizes a lot of advanced graphics technology, including real-time high dynamic range lighting, multiple real-time shadows, normal maps, glare, and pixel shading.“

Talking about graphics EMOGENCE were obviously visual enthusiasts, who developed an engine that was able to create “…environments on the fly and showcased high-resolution texturing“. Nvidia stated:

“The Grafan game engine’s use of high dynamic-range lighting, multiple real-time shadows, and multipass rendering techniques requires a high-performance graphics card. We’re currently working with the GeForce 6800 Ultra GPU and using pixel shader 3.0; all we can say is ‘wow’.”

It is also worth mentioning that they planned to showcase the game at the E3 2004, but by checking the list of exhibitors retrospectively, EMOGENCE never shown up.

To date Herb Marselas is working at AMD, a popular computer processor company. Chas Boyd was last seen on Max Payne and Alan Wake credits,  but after that we kinda lost track of him. By browsing different gaming-databases we can assume that he may have not been active in the gaming scene since.

Article by Niko, thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Metro Panic (Nichibutsu RPG) [Cancelled – Game Boy]

Metro Panic is a cancelled RPG that was in development by Nichibutsu (Nihon Bussan) for Game Boy in early ‘90s. From the only screenshot found by Celine in Famitsu (Issue from 92/09/18) we can speculate it was some kind of adventure game set in subway stations?

It may have been somehow related to Nichibutsu’s Tube Panic, a 1984 shooter that seems to have been the first “3D game” (it used tubular vortex levels) developed in Japan. Or maybe they just use a similar / same title because they already own the copyright for it.

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This could have a been a lost masterpiece for the GameBoy, or just another forgotten RPG. We hope someone could find more details still hidden away in some old japanese magazines

Dear Blue (Konami RPG) [N64 – Cancelled]

Dear Blue (親愛なる青 ?) is the name of a new Konami RPG for Nintendo 64 that seems to have been quietly announced in 1998 on the March issue of Nintendo Power Magazine (Volume 106) and later seen in many list of “in development” N64 projects (such as this on by IGN). In Nintendo Power’s “Pak Watch” section we can read:

“Konami told Pak Watch to expect a new NBA title, a hockey title, an RPG tentatively called Dear Blue, a new fighting game and a game that has something to do with graffiti.”

We may assume:

The only RPG developed by Konami for Nintendo 64 was then Hybrid Heaven, published in 1999, but it was a title already know since at least 1997, so Dear Blue must have been a different project.

The game was never mentioned again by magazines or websites, so we can speculate 3 possible reasons: the game was canned, the title and genre was a mistranslation of something else that was released (Goemon’s Great Adventure?), the game was canned for N64 and then released for another console (maybe Lost in Blue for Nintendo DS?).

It’ also interesting to notice that there’s a song titled “Dear Blue” in Konami’s Kukeiha Club Pro-Fusion Salamander OST released in 1996. If you’d like to dream, we could say Dear Blue was a planned Salamander RPG for Nintendo 64. But actually that’s highly improbable and we’ll never know the truth.

If you have more details about this lost N64 RPG, please let us know!

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Cleric (Plutonium Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Cleric is a cancelled game that was in development for PC by Texas based studio Plutonium Games, and from what we have found, this could have been a quite unique and interesting project. It was a First Person Survival Horror (game) mixed with puzzle elements, action and role playing.

There were plans to release it around the month of December in 2003 but that didn’t happen. On April 14 in 2004  it was announced it was put on indefinite hiatus or cancelled altogether according to a post on the main website of Plutonium Games. There were hints that they had difficulties finding a publisher for their game:

“After a long trip, it looks as if Cleric may not be made for a long time to come, if ever. I want to thank everyone that has supported us over the years. This site will remain up as will the forums. I have recently (3 months ago) taken a job with another studio (Destineer Studios) as a 3D Artist on their tactical shooter project “Close Combat – Marines: First to Fight“. Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road, I’ll get the opportunity to start Plutonium Games back up again. Until then, I’ll be building up my portfolio & experience with Destineer. Thanks again for all the great support!”

The website isn’t up anymore, and no more information can be found about Plutonium Games anywhere on the internet, so we assume the company no longer exists.

As for more information pertaining to how the game would have turned out, here’s a brief story and design summary. Cleric’s story is set in 16th century Russia and the dead are walking again. Women are disappearing and it is up to Reverend Father Aronos Schuler (the main character of the game) to investigate this mystery and to put an end to the plight of the undead. What was interesting is regardless of his position, he was meant to be a character of little faith and the story would have developed around the mystery of the undead of course but also of the Reverend’s internal struggles. Multiple path scenarios were considered with multiple endings as well depending on the player’s actions throughout the game.

Players would have had 2 different holy symbols to use for their main weapons. These would have given a series of different abilities like flying, sensing danger, re-animating the dead, healing and summoning, to list a few. Some traditional weapons like swords, maces and old muskets would have also been weapons the Reverend could find during his travels. Fore more story and gameplay details, you can check an old Gamespot preview and their image gallery.

Judging from the video, you can tell the focus wasn’t exactly just about shooting since the musket would need reloading after every shot. You have a symbol that repels the undead used like a holy cross and if held long enough, they start to catch fire. It seems the mission was to escort a woman to a shelter whilst protecting her from the undead. Later in the video the reverend approaches a statue and acquires a miracle power that lets him summon lightning to strike the undead!

Lastly, for the last bit of information we have for Cleric, there’s a very interesting interview with CEO/Lead Designer Matthew Doyle of Plutonium Games.

If Cleric had not been cancelled, we believe it could have been remembered as quite the cult classic of its time.

Article by Alex Bérubé

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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Baten Kaitos 2 / 3 [Cancelled – Wii]

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean is a now cult-classic RPG developed by Monolith Soft and tri-Crescendo, and published by Namco for the GameCube in 2003. A prequel titled “Baten Kaitos Origins” was published in 2006 directly by Nintendo, which a year later officially purchased the majority of Monolith Soft’s shares from Bandai Namco.

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Just before Nintendo’s acquisition of Monolith the team started working on the third Baten Kaitos, but the project halted when Namco sold them to Nintendo. We can assume this “Baten Kaitos 2” (as it would have been a sequel to the first game) would have been developed for Wii, as the console was released in late 2006 just a few months after BK: Origins. Yasuyuki Honne (director and producer for the Baten Kaitos series) unveiled some details about their “Baten Kaitos 3” on Twitter in September 2018, as translated by a ResetEra user:

“It’s been more than 10 years since the release of Baten Kaitos II, and even now it pains me that I continue to receive requests for a sequel. I think the statute of limitations has run out, so I can say a little bit about it. Immediately after the release of Baten Kaitos II, Namco (now Bandai Namco) worked on a sequel up until the pre-production phase, but just before Baten Kaitos III could become a reality, the story ended due to the circumstances of the involved parties.

If we made it, it would have been grand-scale game with settings at the bottom of the sea, on land, and in the sky. There’s a large amount of concept art for the sequel sealed away at Bandai Namco. Requests for a sequel should be directed not just to myself and Monolith Soft, but also to Bandai Namco.”

Unfortunately at the moment it seems unlikely that Bandai Namco would ever share or use concept art from this unrealized third Baten Kaitos project. The two released games sold poorly and even if Nintendo would have not acquired Monolith it’s possible that the game would have been cancelled anyway, just as it happened with the announced (and canned) “Baten Kaitos DS”.

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As we can read on Wikipedia:

According to Sugiura, Monolith Soft’s relations with Namco had undergone a negative change after Nakamura retired as head of Namco in 2002, three years before the merger with Bandai. The company underwent changes and Monolith Soft felt they were being given less creative freedom, and the newly-created Namco Bandai was less willing to take creative risks. The company then received consultation from Shinji Hatano, an executive director at Nintendo, who advised them to continue creating innovative projects. Spurred on by Hatano’s supportive attitude, Monolith Soft decided to break away from Namco Bandai to become a Nintendo subsidiary; this provided Monolith Soft creative freedom in exchange for software development exclusivity for Nintendo platforms. Nintendo’s purchasing of the majority of Monolith Soft’s shares from Bandai Namco Holdings was publicly announced in April 2007.

After the cancellation of the third Baten Kaitos, Monolith Soft developed and released many new games loved by fans, such as Soma Bringer, Disaster: Day of Crisis and the Xenoblade Chronicles series.