RPG

Lisa: The Painful RPG [Beta – PC]

Lisa: The Painful is an indie role-playing game developed by Dingaling Productions (now known as LoveBrad Games). The game was designed and programmed by Austin Jorgensen using RPG Maker VX Ace and released for PC, Mac and Linux in December 2014.

The games is a successor to Lisa: The First, a  freeware game made by Jorgensen in 2012. Lisa: The Painful was funded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign that started in November 2013: in the Kickstarter’s public feed of the game we can take a look on different phases of game development, Lisa beta versions and how the game changed over time.

Lisa Kickstarter Trailer

This trailer is our first glimpse of the game, and we can already notice some interesting “beta” elements. The trailer is basically cycling through two different animations, one showing Brad (the protagonist of LISA: The Painful) and his party, and the other one showing him ambushed by Buzzo and Columbo (two of the main antagonists), with text cards hinting at tough choices players will face through the game.


In this image we can clearly recognize some of the characters: Brad is the bald guy, Olan Hoyt is the one with a hat and the wrestler’s one is Rage Ironhead. The last one playing the guitar is a deleted character called Hawk, an early version of Rando.

Beta version of Rando, courtesy of Lisa RPG Wiki

Lisa Pre-Alpha Gameplay Footage

This video was uploaded on Austin Jorgensen’s Youtube account  and it represents a pre-alpha stage of the final game. Still, many of the locations that made into the final game are clearly recognizable, albeit with some differences (Devil’s Bathhouse, Snow Mountain, Bob’s Dojo). The bike and motorbike are already present and tested a this point in development.

A look on the pre-alpha battle screen: two of Brad’s initial friends, Cheeks Gaywood and Richard Weeks (along with Sticky Angoneli), were once playable (there is also another shot of the cut character Hawk). Other cut features are a team attack (shown in the picture) and a sneaking mechanic, possibly used to ambush enemies.

Lisa Kickstarter Demo

On November 20th 2013, Jorgensen uploaded a demo of LISA on Gamefront, the original file has since been deleted, but a backup version is available in here. This demo features various locations, characters and enemies (like the Men’s Hair Club, then called the Magnificent Manes Men’s Club), alongside different graphics for in-game dialogues and text.

During Lisa development many different characters were either dropped or their role in the story changed: our friends at The Cutting Room Floor have a nice page about them.

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Project Cairo (Craveyard) [Nintendo 64DD – Cancelled]

If you had a Nintendo 64 back in the 90’s, you probably remember all the hype around its 64DD, the disk-based peripheral that promised some cool features for it’s time, including network capabilities, internal clock, additional storage and content expansion for N64 games. Unfortunately due to numerous delays and its commercial failure in Japan this add-on was never released outside of Japan, being discontinued after just 10 software published.

We could say the failure of the 64DD had direct consequences over the N64 game library. We all know about Nintendo’s complicated past with third party support, media storage and licensing issues. These were always key points for Nintendo and with the N64 it wasn’t any different. Their 64DD could have offered a cheaper support for third parties with more space for their games.

Even before its launch in Japan many European and North American developers were already working on 64DD games: after all this add-on was announced in 1995, prior to the N64’s launch. As you can imagine most of these 64DD games were either scrapped or ported to N64 carts.

One of these interesting but lost 64DD games is Project Cairo, a cancelled RPG planned by team Craveyard (Crave Entertainment). According to an IGN article dated 1997, Craveyard were “in negotiations to use a major comic book license for both characters and background story”, promising a new “fresh look for the genre with interesting, Americanized characters”.

We don’t know which comic book they planned to use (above are some examples of random fantasy comics from the mid ’90s, to have an idea of their style), but as told by Mark Burke (former Vice President, Product Acquisitions at Crave):

“If it was another anime RPG I don’t think we’d be making it. […] We think the art in the game is as good as if not better than that in Final Fantasy VII.”

It’s important to note that Craveyard shared their origins with Square USA. Legendary Ted Woolsey (responsible for many popular RPG localizations during the 16-bit era) moved out from Square with a group of employees when the company was moving offices back in 1996, founding a small team named Big Rain.

The name Big Rain wouldn’t last long as Crave Entertainment soon bought the company, changing its name to Craveyard and made them working on such games as Shadow Madness, a Japanese-inspired Role-playing game eventually released on Sony Playstation in 1999.

Shadow Madness

In the meantime Craveyard were also conceiving new ideas for Project Cairo, their ambitious RPG intended to take advantage of 64DD’s original features, scheduled to also be released in 1999. For Project Cairo’s scenario Craveyard were talking with a well known British fantasy writer (which remains anonymous) for a high-profile collaboration.

As told us by Ted Woosley Project Cairo never got past this early planning and “scenario” phase. It was soon clear that Playstation was the better console to develop for: it was cheaper and with a larger user-base already interested in RPGs. N64 was not selling enough to pursue full development of an exclusive RPG, especially for its postponed 64DD add-on. The team focused all of their resources and efforts into Shadow Madness: it’s currently unknown if their Playstation RPG took some ideas or mechanics initially conceived for Project Cairo.

Unfortunately Shadow Madness did not perform as expected: it was received with average reviews and poor sales. In the end Crave opted to pull Craveyard out of business and closed the studio. After Craveyard’s closure, Ted Woolsey joined RealNetworks (a provider of Internet streaming media) where he managed their online gaming client. In 2007 Woolsey moved to Microsoft Studios to work as Senior Director for the Xbox Live Arcade and in 20015 he became General Manager of Undead Labs helping releasing fan-favorite State of Decay.

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Project Exile (Studio Archcraft) – [GBA – cancelled]

Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled is a role-playing game produced by a Canadian company Studio Archcraft and published by Graffiti Entertainment in 2009 on the Nintendo DS platform. After their first ideas for a game in 2001, actual game development started way back in 2003 on another platform: the Game Boy Advance.

The project became known as “Project Exile” and it was meant to be a Super Nintendo style RPG in the likes of Chrono Trigger. In June 2006 Studio Archcraft however took the decision to port the complete game over to the Nintendo DS instead of releasing it on the Game Boy Advance. In an interview (see screenshots below + another interview in here) developer Archcraft described the change of console as mostly a business decision. The Game Boy Advance was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and the Nintendo DS would provide them more freedom design-wise and more flexibility in memory/ screen space.

Although the Nintendo DS was capable of playing Game Boy Advance titles the company took the decision to completely port the title and abandon the Game Boy Advance version. Development must have been quite far judging the quite good looking screenshots of the game as well as a promotional/ gameplay video dated 2006 I found. I also retrieved a progress report stating a 70% completion dating back to June 2004.

Also found below are some screenshots dating June 2006 from Archcraft’s old website: all Game Boy Advance material but also the announcement of porting the game to the Nintendo DS.  So June 2006 end of a promising game: Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled aka Project Exile for the Game Boy Advance.

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promotional/ gameplay Video by Archcraft – 2006:

progress report & interview 2006:

 

 

 

 

 

website screenshots archive.org:

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3 [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PC]

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 3 is the cancelled third chapter in the popular RPG series developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts. The project was started by LucasArts in 2003 / 2004 when they canned another Star Wars MMO for console named “Proteus” and planned to reuse the same team and part of the already created designs to develop a new KotOR game. Unfortunately KotOR 3 followed the same fate and they later decided to cancel the project because of LucasArts’ financial problems, when the management did not want to invest money and time in such an expensive game.

A few KotOR 3 concept arts created during the design phase were leaked online and we can see new robots (Q-10), spaceships (Dashaad Fighter, Sith Troop Transport, Coruscant Vehicle) and characters. Some more details on KotOR 3 were published in 2008 in the bookRogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts”, in which they revealed that one of the new characters was a woman named “Naresha”.

“Upon the cancellation of the Proteus project, team and elements of the designs were applied to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3, which, according to designer John Stallford, “got quite a bit of traction… we wrote a story, designed most of the environments/worlds, and many of the quests, characters, and items.” However, this new game direction fell victim to LucasArts hitting possibly the most difficult period in the company’s history.”

We can only hope that one day someone could share more artworks and info from the early development of KotOR 3.

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Eternal Chain [Playstation – Cancelled]

Eternal Chain (エターナルチェイン) is a cancelled RPG that was in development in 1998 / 1999 by Victor Interactive Software, a gaming studio created in 1996 when its parent company Victor Entertainment wanted to focus on music publishing business and the remaining developers merged with Pack-In-Video. Victor Interactive is mostly known for the production of the Harvest Moon series, but in late ‘90 they developed and released a few other Playstation games, as “Boundary Gate: Daughter of Kingdom”, “The Airs” and “My Home Dream”: unfortunately Eternal Chain was never completed for unknown reasons.

Character design for the game was conceived by popular artist Range Murata (mostly known for his work on such anime as Last Exile and Blue Submarine No. 6.) and a few promotional phone cards were even released in Japan. Eternal Chain was shown (in playable form?) at Tokyo Game Show 1998 and 1999: you can see a short video of the game below, showing off some turn-based combat. The plot of Eternal Chain was summarized by RPG Gamer:

“16,000 years ago humans lived on Mars. After using up the resources of Mars, the humans started moving to Earth. At that time another lifeform, Gods, inhabited the Earth. After the humans settled on Earth, they eventually split into 2 groups, those who liked the Gods, and those who disliked Gods. It was only a matter of time before battles between Gods and the two groups of humans began.”

A few articles, screenshots and Murata’s comments about Eternal Chain were published in different japanese gaming magazines:

  • “Megami Magazine” (メガミマガジン, Animedia September issue separate volume special edition) Vol.1
  • “Game Walker” Vol.54
  • “HYPER PlayStation” 98 / December issue
  • Weekly “Famitsu” [ASCII Corporation] No.513.98.11 / 20 No. -99.1 / No. 22
  • “PlayStation magazine” 98 / No.21
  • “Famitsu PS” [ASCII Corporation] Nos. 98 / 10.23
  • Weekly “The PlayStation” [SOFT BANK] Vol.122.12

If you are able to find scans for these magazines, please let us know!

The theme song for Eternal Chain titled “Before the Celebration Festival” (祝祭の前) was composed by  Akino Arai and published in 2002 by Victor Entertainment in a CD titled “RGB”. As we can read on vgmdb:

  • 09 PlayStation canceled game Eternal Chain (エターナルチェイン) theme song
  • Composed by: Akino Arai
  • Arranged by: Akino Arai & Hisaaki Hogari
  • Vocal by: Akino Arai
  • Background Vocal: Akino Arai
  • Piano: Akino Arai
  • Strings: Hijiri Kuwano Strings
  • Synthesizer Manipulating: Shunsuke Sakamoto
  • Programming & Manipulating: Hisaaki Hogari
  • Lyrics by: Akino Arai

In 2003 Victor Interactive Software was acquired by Marvelous Entertainment and officially became Marvelous Interactive.

Thanks to Youlute and Vox for the contribution!

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