RTS

Spoils of War (East Coast Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Spoils of War is a cancelled sci-fi futuristic multiplayer First-Person Shooter/Real Time Strategy hybrid game developed by East Coast Games around 2004-2005, then in 2014, exclusively for PC. The game offered the possibility to play two different genres, either by playing real-time strategy as the Battlefield Commander, or First/Third-Person Shooter with any other classes.

As we can read on the now-defunct website of the game, it took place in the future in a war against humans and an alien species named Ematrants on an unknown planet:

The Humans

“The year is 2090, the golden age of human space exploration. Betrayed by the ever expanding deterioration of our own world, we were in desperate need of another planet capable of sustaining us. Eighty years ago, after many, many years of fruitless missions and fading hopes, the Saturn 5 wormhole was discovered. To our amazement, this portal could transmit our vessels one million light years away to a previously un-chartered galaxy… finally, a galaxy with the ability to sustain the human race.

Unmanned probes verified the existence of multiple planets, each with fresh oxygen-rich air, amazing minerals and bio-substances, ample food and water, palatable temperature and acceptable atmospheric conditions for habitation. The probes identified something else however, the existence of an intelligent humanoid species. Soon after, manned vessels were sent with orders to proceed with caution, ensuring that the message was evident – we had come in peace. Eventually our non-threatening, alliance oriented approach began to make a difference as our emissaries reported greater and more open interaction with the Ematrants. They even helped us establish colonies, research stations and trade routes. Given the growing cooperation between them and the colonies, and the worsening conditions on Earth, many of our best and brightest military strategists, linguists, scientists, engineers and medical professionals eagerly volunteered to help ensure, and establish a viable foothold on behalf of the future of the human race. Each successive test yielded positive results and our colonies were seemingly more and more effective establishing trust and mutually beneficial trade – with a host species we believed we were coming to understand.

But understand… how could we – for only a true savage could. As a mysterious illness befell their loved ones, they quickly blamed humans for their predicament. With no warning, our colonies began to report merciless, deadly attacks. Thus, compelled to defend our colonies – we immediately dispatched the necessary compliment of forces, vehicles and weaponry. There was no way we were going to let them simply slaughter our people, and turning back was not a viable option. Our only option was war.

The war raged for close to a decade, becoming increasing brutal as time went on. But somehow, they managed to seal the wormhole – cutting the colonial forces off from necessary supply lines and reinforcements. Our brightest military specialists, scientists and engineers couldn’t manage to reopen the portal. All communication with the colonies was lost – as well, any opportunity for us to assist countless people dependent on our support.

After almost seventy years of painstaking effort, and equally frustrating deafening radio silence from the colonies, a way to successfully penetrate the portal was finally identified. This time, unmanned probes found our gravest fears realized. Indications from the probe were that all traces of our colonies, of the thousands of our people, military and civilian – were simply gone. Although time had effectively camouflaged most of the obvious signs, evidence was found suggesting their blood-thirsty savagery… the extent of the utter massacre that must have engulfed our trapped colonies. Once the wormhole was closed, our colonies never had a chance.

Now that we have a rediscovered means of penetrating the portal, and seen indications of the carnage that occurred, long standing theories of the possibilities of peaceful co-existence – are no longer perspectives deserving the light of day. We have begun amassing a massive force of the most experience troops, most intelligent military minds – and all the technology and military might we have at our disposal. We will return – with revenge for those brutally murdered the fuel for the burning rage we have within.

We offered them good will and commerce – and betrayal and uncivilized butchery was their response. Good will and commerce are now off the table. Now all we have to offer them is death. Ematrants, prepare to meet your maker. We are coming…”

The Ematrants

“Initially they were welcomed to our planets, allowed to interact freely and come and go as desired. Colonies were allowed to be established, inter-species trade was condoned… they were permitted to flourish in our world. But the ability to flourish peacefully was obviously never their intent. No, they wanted more… much more. Their goal instead was the extinction of our species, and the eventual sole proliferation of theirs, on a set of planets newly claimed. Once they found our guards to be sufficiently down, they revealed their true purpose – introducing a mysterious plague of massive and deadly proportions. It took us some time to realize the plaque’s origin and their deviant mechanism of transport and infestation – their very own self-infected carrier bodies.

Perplexed at first, we watched helplessly as, without warning, inexplicable illness and excruciatingly painful, inhumane death befell our loved ones – everyone with a history of even the slightest interaction, direct or indirect, with them. There was no effective treatment… no chance of recovery – only what we came to realize was the intentional attempt at species cleansing. We could idly watch no more. And so with no other viable alternative, forced to defend our land… our loved ones… our selves – we retaliated. The resulting war consumed many seasons and countless Ematrant forces, as they continued to send more (and better equipped) troops, technology and vehicles through the wormhole.

It wasn’t until the year of Narkanus the Great, that a focus on the ancient science of space and time facilitated the creation of a device that could stem the spread of the deadly plague. With the plague finally behind us, we recommitted our efforts to turning the tide of the war. In time we were able to permanently seal the portal – their only means of supply and replenishment.

With the wormhole sealed, we exacted the military might necessary to effectively eliminate the threat – ensuring, at least to some degree, justice for our innocent, murdered loved ones was served. With a combination precision and brute force we successfully wiped out all traces of the carrier mechanisms from our galaxy – never to trust again.

Rid of the threat, but wiser for the ordeal, we endeavored to put the disastrous plague… the necessary response… that unfortunate segment of our history behind us. We needed to move on… to forget about the dark days. But forgetting is no longer an option. It began when the prophets started having visions of the plague’s return. Fear began to spread much like the plague itself. Just as we had begun to reclaim some semblance of the peaceful, spiritual lives we once knew, somehow they managed to reopen the portal. The humans are again here among us.

And so, if it is war they want, then war is what they shall have – this time of a magnitude they can’t even begin to imagine with their diminutive, underdeveloped brains. We are ready to defend what is ours. This time, with a clear comprehension of their true purpose, we are more than capable of ensuring the plague of the humans is never allowed to happen again. So, if they are dim-witted enough not to know what they are up against – let them come. The plague, and the filthy, untrustworthy aliens that carry both it, along with any of the other various weapons they dare raise against us, must, and will, be destroyed. And as our Gods are our witness we vow to eliminate this selfish, ungrateful, uncivilized scourge from our galaxy, and maybe theirs as well – once and for all. One way or the other, we Ematrants will survive.

Let them come. Their long overdue, and much deserved, brutal extinction awaits…”

OVERVIEW

“Select the role of Battlefield Commander and toggle between managing your team in RTS and fighting an intense battle as a FPS. Or choose one of three other roles and enjoy extraordinary first-person combat as you experience character growth. “Spoils of War” skillfully combines the successes of real-time strategy and first-person shooter to create intense warfare and player depth that is unparalleled. As Battlefield Commander, switch between RTS and FPS modes to manage your team’s economy and technology while leading your fellow human players to victory. As one of three first-person characters you will commandeer vehicles, become skillful with weaponry, and use unique powers in a high velocity war.”

GAME FEATURES

  • Start your own game: Be one of four Battlefield Commanders and determine your team’s strategy, build structures and weapons, manage resources, and provide instant instruction via chat. Or be one of 12 first-person characters and follow your commander’s instructions to help your team to victory.
  • The engine designed for “Spoils of War” uniquely combines RTS with FPS to deliver speed, incredible 3D rendering, community, and scale in a high-contrast alien environment.
  • Create over 50 unique structures and units.
  • Wreak havoc by controlling deadly beasts, manning heavy artillery, commandeering vehicles, or using special powers.
  • Explore a diverse world of intense lighting, sound, and perspective.

Further details emerged quickly after its reveal, with, for instance, a detailed sheet explaining every classes for both sides, alongside an interview of Matt Andrews by HomeLAN:

HomeLAN – First, how did East Coast Games come to be formed?

M.A. – ECG was founded in January, 2004 by Jim Servia (President) and Chuck Goebel (Chief Technology Officer). They both gave me a call with a unique creative opportunity and after just a few phone calls I was on-board managing the creative direction and marketing for the title. Chuck and Jim had begun developing the Spoils of War game engine a while prior to our first call and I was extremely impressed with their concept and progress.

HomeLAN – Another critically acclaimed game, Savage, also combined first person shooter and real time strategy gameplay. How will Spoils of War differ from that game’s approach?

M.A. – The main point of difference with Spoils of War from any other game is an equal combination of the two genres; we stayed away from being one genre with some of another mixed in. We’ve accomplished this with our character structure in that the player has the ability to decide how they want to play the game, in FPS mode only, in RTS mode only, or by combining the two. When a person plays Spoils of War they might find that the Battlefield Commander position is one they’d like to try because of the ability to control resources and manage Artificial Intelligence’s or they may be perfectly happy going off on their own and wreaking havoc as an overwhelming FPS. Others may enjoy RTS, but every once in a while wish they could drop down and help their fellow warrior(s) on the battlefield.

Also, our characters have a lot of depth with some having powers, brute force, agility, or a million combinations of those and more. Another unique quality to Spoils of War that people will enjoy is the environment. We worked hard to create terrains that would not only present good opportunities for battle, but they challenge users to think, explore, strategize, and use to their fullest extent.

HomeLAN – How will the first person shooter and real time strategy aspects of the genre be used in Spoils of War?

M.A. – Our RTS and FPS elements are unique to Spoils of War because some of the RTS assets can be occupied by FPS characters or managed by the RTS Battlefield Commander character. For example there are the Main and Heavy Battle Mechs on the Human side. These mechanical beasts of destruction can be told by the Battlefield Commander to attack any asset or a FPS character can find one on the field of play, hop in it and start wreaking havoc. We have a series of Artificial Intelligence characters on each side as well that all have characteristics of their own and in some cases will be as organic as the FPS characters in the way they move. Take the Ematrant Reaper for instance: This massive beast was bread for pure hatred of the enemy and is instructed by the Ematrant Battlefield Commander to do nothing by demolish anything or anyone that comes in its path. We made this thing so overpowering as a bi-ped that when you compare the player economies he pairs-up with the Main Battle Mech in intimidation.

Standard RTS assets such as structures and Artificial Intelligence characters interact with the FPS characters in that they offer support and are all an integral part to achieving a FPS or RTS objective to defeat the enemy. I’ll run through an example: At the beginning of a game the random spawn points drop you and your team on one side of a 5-mile wide crater and your opponent on the other side. After some tactical recon you decide to maneuver towards a large-sized resource deposit that’s in close proximity to your enemy. Following some minor advancement you know you’re going to eventually be seen, so you might as well build-up some forces before engaging your opponent. As the Battlefield Commander you dispatch Construction Droids (say you’re a Human) to go mine resources you find along the way. Once you’ve accumulated enough you build a clone lab that will produce ground infantry. Production of the infantry begins; you amass your forces and command them to run with your FPS characters to achieve your goal. The infantry is commanded in RTS mode and the FPS characters are led via in-game chat.

HomeLAN – Will there be a single player campaign or will the game be a multiplayer title only?

M.A. – For now this is multiplayer only. We may introduce a single-player piece. With a maximum of 16 players on one map, Spoils of War will allow for massive battles, fast-paced warfare, and the ultimate tactical challenge.

HomeLAN – What is the current status of the game’s progress and when will it be released?

M.A. – We’re currently getting ready to do an internal beta release, gathering beta participants and finalizing the test plan.

We have a few months of testing to complete and concurrently we’re weighing our publishing options. To date we’ve been reviewing opportunities with a lot publishers and are working hard to shore-up the best way to get the product in your hands in the most effective manner.

Unfortunately, the game discreetly vanished after all of this. We can assume that the developer didn’t manage to secure a publisher and had to postpone it.

However, in February 2014, East Coast Games resurfaced from the dead by lauching a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for their game. But the financial goal wasn’t reach, only collecting 285$ on a total of 350.000$. Without surprise, Spoils of War was again cancelled after that failed attempt and East Coast Games definitely disappeared from the picture.

Spoils of War wasn’t necessarily the first cancelled game trying that mix between FPS and RTS. In the same period, we also could see games such as Ghost Wars, Dreadnoughts and Terra : Formations, among others.

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Arcturus (BlueInca Studios) [XBOX, PC – Cancelled]

Arcturus is the name of a galaxy revolving around one of the brightest stars, and at the same time the game from BlueInca Studios, laid on its stocks in the summer of 2001.

The plot told how two alien races, when colonizing the aforementioned galaxy, unexpectedly discovered the existence of each other. Humanity was not in the game, but both races behaved in a very human way: instead of solving the matter peacefully, they started a fight.

In the distant future, a war between the Lumerans and the Xizons rages on.
You play Torah and can choose as either faction and lead them to victory in campaign missions.
Victory will mean more resources to build your ships and better your people.

The Lumerans are the weaker outnumbered faction but they have powerful abilities.
The Xizons are the militaristic faction with ambitions of conquest.

Military operations in Arcturus were supposed to proceed as follows: the attacking side sends a flotilla of fighters to the enemy’s planet, smashes enemy aircraft, and then moves on to the next territory – and so on until they capture the enemy’s capital. Battles in space were absent as a class – apparently, the aliens took care of the fleet as a memory.

Thus, the player played two roles. In the role of the so-called Leader, he was directly involved in battles. The accompanying equipment also fought with him. The authors promised a wide range of weapons, from miniature fighters to huge dreadnoughts.

The game was unique in that you move ships around in third-person like an RTS.
Different ships to order around include gas collectors, patrol ships, and unit carriers.
During combat you play from a first-person perspective.

There was to be sixteen single-player non-linear campaign missions (8 for each faction?).
There was also going to be deathmatch multiplayer, likely online play.

Between battles, the player was engaged in the development of his race, organizing the extraction of resources on controlled planets, conducted research and formed detachments, which then accompanied him in battle. In short, the idea was original, but it seems that the developers themselves did not fully understand how to bring it all to life. Arcturus stayed afloat for just over a year, and then added himself to the plaque of canceled projects.

In 2004 development was halted due to funding difficulties.
In 2005 the website removed the message about financial trouble but remained dormant.
Arcturus and BlueInca faded away.

Some information is taken from «Игромания» magazine, 03 (114) 2007, and https://unreleasedgames.miraheze.org/ website. 

Golgotha (Crack dot Com) [PC – Cancelled]

Before Golgotha, the Crack dot Com studio, founded by Dave Taylor, a native of id Software, managed to mark only by the platformer Abuse. Golgotha was announced in 1995 under the promising motto “all the best from C&C and DOOM“. Golgotha differed from the usual real-time strategy in that in each mission the player got control of a supertank (it was called that), which was his embodiment on the battlefield. At any time, you could switch to first-person view and personally lead the troops into battle. But the rest of the units were not directly controlled. The maximum available is to point the troops in the direction of movement, and then all the hope is only on AI.

As we can read on Wikipedia about the plot:

The game plays in the fictional future of the year 2048 AD, where a global nuclear disarmament and the coincidental murder of a beloved American archaeologist leads to an American military incision on Iraq. Which, in turn, elicits a European military power play and begins World War III. The commander of the American force sent to invade Iraq questions his mission. With no suitable answers, he abandons his country and takes his troops on the quest for truth. In the try to recover what really happened at Golgotha they discover a supernatural conflict behind a veil of political discord.

There is even a demo mentioning:

The last released demo, version number 5c, was playable in Windows. It supported both software rendering and 3dfx Glide-based 3D cards. The demo included two levels, one based on Switzerland and one based on Cairo. The Switzerland demo level was the more complete one. In addition to this, the demo also had a non-interactive demo level that showed the terrain rendering capabilities of the graphics engine.

The game itself was three-dimensional, which was very daring for strategy at that time. This ruined the game: due to the problems with the engine, development stalled. In the meantime, the developers’ money came to an end, and in 1998, Crack Dot Com was forced to close, having previously released the game’s source code, graphics and textures for public access. If you wish, you can finish it yourself.

Links to the materials:

https://web.archive.org/web/20050212090058/http://jonathanclark.com/golgotha/

http://liberatedgames.org/game.php?game_id=35 (This one is from Igromania article, but its for sale now. But I put it here for just in case.)

Some information is taken from «Игромания» magazine, 03 (114) 2007 

Eurasia: Apocalypse [PC – Cancelled]

Eurasia: Apocalypse (Евразия: Апокалипсис) is a cancelled real-time strategy game that was in development by ElectroTECH Multimedia in 1997, seen by many gamers as the “Russian Command & Conquer“.  The game was set in a world that survived a natural catastrophe: because of global warming most of the continents are now submerged in water. Only South Siberia and a few scattered islands remain above the ocean, so all the major world powers fight to control these remaining territories.

A playable demo can still be found online, with its ‘90s aesthetics and original soundtrack. Unfortunately this early version of Eurasia: Apocalypse is full of bugs that make it practically unplayable.

It seems in 1998 the game won the “Most promising development among computer games” prize in Russia, but the issues found in the demo killed the fans’ enthusiast. ElectroTECH decided that further development costs were not worth it and cancelled the project. Another 3D strategy game titled “Bestiary” developed by MiST Land South was also canned at the same time.

Thanks to Josef for the contribution!

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Refusion (Gumpanela) [PC – Cancelled]

Refusion is a cancelled multiplayer FPS / RTS hybrid that was in development for PC by Gumpanela Entertainment between 2005 and 2013. The concept behind the project was to let players fight as a unit with FPS gameplay or to become the leader of the team playing each battle as in a Real Time Strategy game. Imagine epic online VS matches between hundreds of players and AI-controlled units, moving in real time on a small-scale planet (40 x 40 km), using vehicles, entering into buildings and destroying the environments with explosives. An ambitious project indeed.

We can find some details about Refusion on Gumpanela’s old website (now closed):

Multiplayer: The game is mainly designed for the massive multiplayer mode. Up to 100 players can join the Battle at any time during the action. The aim is clear – vanquish the enemy! We also provide AI to help you in the roles of Fighter or Master.

SinglePlayer: The game can also be enjoyed by solo players. You can select either Skirmish or Campaign and discover the whole history of Human and Skoroman so that the prophecies can be fulfilled.

As A Fighter You Can: Choose between different classes; Control a great variety of units – ground, air, naval; Get your own unit – just come over to the proper military structure, press the button and than unit is there for you; Live longer on the Battlefield – more playing-time, less waiting-time; Listen to your Master’s orders. You will know where the enemy is, where to go, which group to join and what your personal task is. In the end, it’s your decision!

As A Master You Can: Play the full RTS game with real live units; Organise and manage your Fighters – they need you and you need them; Rely on your Fighters’ intelligence and incorporate their ideas in your tactics; Command huge numbers of units and build extensive bases; Lead great battles and obliterate your opponents.

Featuring:

  • Two Races against each other. Human versus Skoroman.
  • Unseen Battle Realm of 40×40 km, with no borders – just like a normal planet works.
  • Unique union of FPS and RTS game technology;
  • State-of-the-art FPS quality in physics and graphics;
  • Extensive, borderless game environment;
  • Massive units and buildings;
  • Epic battles, hundreds of units engaged;
  • Full and/or partial destructibility of units – for example, a car without a wheel will still be able to move along;
  • Open Games – you can join any game any time – the system’s auto-balance feature will keep everything in order, both Master or Fighter, no matter who joins in.

They also shared many screenshots and details on their Moddb account:

“Imagine yourself playing as a Master in classical RTS like Starcraft or Total Annihilation and your friend in the role of a Fighter playing his own FPS like for example Battlefield DC. And this all is happening in the same time at the same place. Isn’t it a brilliant idea? The best thing about this all above is the shared experience but for each player from perspective seen from a different point of view.

The Master builds bases and units, takes care of resource management, researches global upgrades and leads the whole battle, exactly as if he was playing a normal RTS game. As soon as he builds barracks, the live FPS players can join the game as Fighters and use everything Master has built, including usage of units he has created.

Through cooperation a great game come to existence, where the Master sees everything from a bird’s perspective and leads the battle globally. A Live Fighter has his own head and judgement of the situation, he sees the battle in local perspective and is able to solve some situations better than Master could ever do. Fighter can also invite a few AI controlled units into his team and command them on the battlefield according to his current needs.”

After a development update in 2013, Refusion quietly vanished.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

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