silicon knights

The Sandman (Silicon Knights) [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3]

The Sandman is a cancelled third person shooter / action game once in development at Silicon Knights around 2009. While the game was never officially announced by the company and we don’t have any details about its story and gameplay, by looking and the remaining concept art preserved in the gallery below we can speculate the main character was somehow able to control some kind of “dark matter”. This power would form different objects and demons around the protagonist, with an effect similar to sand flying around him. This is probably the reason for the “Sandman” name and as far as we know the game was not related to the omonimous Vertigo comic in any way.

The world found out about this lost game because of some old resumes, leaked concept art and a disastrous legal case. As we can read on Wikipedia:

“On May 2012 Epic Games defeated Silicon Knights‘ lawsuit (opened in July 2007) and won its counter-suit for $4.45 million on grounds of copyright infringement. Silicon Knights was directed by the court to destroy all game code derived from Unreal Engine 3 and to permit Epic Games access to the company’s servers and other devices to ensure these items have been removed. In addition, the studio was instructed to recall and destroy all unsold retail copies of games built with Unreal Engine 3 code, including Too Human, X-Men Destiny, The Sandman, The Box / Ritualyst, and Siren in the Maelstrom.”

Some more details on the fall of Silicon Knights were published on Kotaku in October 2012. On May 2014, following the loss of the court case, Silicon Knights filed for bankruptcy. As far as we know, every The Sandman file had to be deleted, so it could already have been lost forever. As Epic Games had access to Silicon Knights’ server, someone may have saved parts of their cancelled games. We can only hope one day someone may be able to share more screenshots, footage or details from these projects.

If you know someone who worked on The Sandman and may help us to save something more from the game, please let us know.

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Too Human [X360 – Beta]

Too Human is an Action RPG developed by Silicon Knights and published in 2008 by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360. The project is of particular interest to prototype video game enthusiasts. Development lasted more than a decade, and it was planned for three different consoles (Playstation, GameCube and Xbox 360). Silicon Knights promised a game of a grand scope and daring design. It was to be a game that changed genre depending on how the player would customize his character.

On the PlayStation, it was estimated to be 80 hours long and spanned four discs. IGN stated the following as the original story and game play:

Far into the future, when earth has become a mega-civilization of androids, robots, cyborgs and Big Brother companies, players take on the role of cop whose partner was killed by a cyborg. Angered by this death and moved to seek vengeance, the main character will take a job as a security operative in this monolithic chip corporation to find out just what happened.

In this futuristic world, people are part human, part machine, and your character’s limbs, neck, head, and just about everything else except his organs can be replaced by chips and machinery. The player will have the option of enhancing his body with cybernetic enhancements at the start of missions, and will be able to customize the character in line with the way they choose to play the game

For example, a player who prefers the Metal Gear Solid approach may wish to enhance leg strength to be able to move more quickly and stealthily through the game, whereas another player might wish to increase arm and torso strength to be able to carry more deadly implements of destruction. The choices made by the player will have a direct bearing on the gameplay in this manner.

Ancient legends did not have an impact on this version of the game. Briefly mentioned was that Japanese history was used in a small amount, but not for the whole game. The first name they gave the protagonist was John Franks, his name on the final is Baldur.

Multiple endings were planned but axed. Although the basic premise of the game did not change, the game was overhauled when it jumped on the Xbox 360. The final game uses Norse mythology as reference material. You take control of Baldur, one of the cybernetics enhanced soldiers revered as gods. For ages man has been in a war with bloodthirsty machines. To make matters worse, the god Loki has betrayed those he once served.

The Too Human that one can go to a store and buy is a strict action RPG that has a loot drop system. Four distinct classes are available and a “skill tree” gives astonishing customization options. The player may only change body armor and weapons but not body parts.

Even after arriving on the Xbox 360, certain features were altered. Dyack claimed that the game was too big and had to be split into a trilogy.  It’s possible that the 2nd and 3rd Too Human chapters could never see the light of the day, as the first game received low scores and did not sell many copies. In earlier Xbox 360 builds the game had strict control of the camera. Although IGN boasted the game did a great job with the camera views, camera control was ultimately relinquished to the player. Silicon Knights had attempted to omit a HUD from the game.

Four player cooperation was slated for the game as well, but only two players may play together in the final.

In the gallery below we can notice many beta screens, with scenes that were not in the final game or changed before the final version (as the Thor design). There is even a different loading screen. If you can notice more specific differences, please let us know!

For more info on the development of the game and its original unseen concepts, check our article: Too Human, the game that will never be. Also, take a look at our archive for images and videos for Too Human on the Playstation and Too Human on the GameCube!

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The Crucible: Evil Within [Cancelled – PS3 Xbox 360]

The Crucible: Evil Within, AKA “The Box” or “The Ritualist” originally was a Silicon Knights-developed (developer of Eternal Darkness and Too Human) open-world horror pitch for PS3 started in 2004, which was accepted for full production by Sega in March 2005.

“Silicon Knights has a rich history of developing great games that push hardware technology, so we expect this relationship will result in a powerful, new, and highly commercial franchise.”
Simon Jeffery, President and COO, SEGA of America

In 2006, Sega revealed some game details in an online survey. Until then, the game was internally known as “The Box”. The survey however led to “The Crucible: Evil Within”. Later, however, it was renamed to “The Ritualist” instead.

“An open free-roaming action horror game where the player undertakes a terrorizing journey of suspense, fear, power and discovery, and where every decision has multiple consequences… Uncover an ancient chest with unimaginable power that seduces you into evil, sin and corruption.”

Court documents from Silicon Knights’ legal battle with Epic Games reveal that The Box was initially planned to be finished by February 27th, 2007. It was later amended to extend the delivery date to November 4th, 2008. In August 2008, Sega decided to cancel various external projects, including Aliens RPG: Crucible, Aliens: Colonial Marines (later restarted), Cipher Complex, and The Box. However, Silicon Knights was able to find a new publisher with THQ, which also dropped the project in early 2009. As a kind of compensation, team members of The Box were asked to help on Vigil Games’/THQ’s Darksiders.

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Siren in the Maelstrom: the next unseen from Silicon Knights?

silicon-knights

The developer responsible for the critically acclaimed Eternal Darkness on the Gamecube, Silicon Knights, has had the title of its next game leaked. Their latest project is named ‘Siren in the Maelstrom’. The leak came about when videogaming24/7 got their hands on a release from Canada Telefilm, an organization that lists projects approved for government grants.

No further information has been revealed so far but Silicon Knights has since issued the following statement regarding the matter – ‘Silicon Knights is busy working on several exciting projects. Unfortunately, it is too early to disclose any details.’

The “interesting” part for unseen-lovers is that many obscure projects from Silicon Knights that were announced in the past were later vanished, as a rumored game with Sega and the Eternal Darkness trilogy. Could this be their next unseen game? We’ll have to wait and see.. 

Eternal Darkness Beta Analysis

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This article was written a few years ago as a personal collection of notes. Thus it is incomplete, but maybe someday i will finish it. Also, forgive me for the shortness and the bad overall quality of this analysis.

[Original article in italian by monokoma, english translation by yota]

Eternal Darkness 64

The Eternal Darkness project was born on the  Nintendo 64.  This version had already many of the features and locations of the future Gamecube version.

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Peter Jacob in the Cathedral.