space combat simulation

10th Planet (Bethesda) [PC – Cancelled]

10th Planet was an ambitious space combat simulator in development as a co-venture between Bethesda Softworks (you know, the studio that published The Elder Scrolls series) and Centropolis Production, two names that in the mid / late ’90 meant an high value game and lots of hype. Centropolis is a film production company founded in 1985 by Roland Emmerich, behind such popular movies as Stargate and Independence Day.

Another small company named “XL Translab” was hired to create high quality cinematics for the game’s intro and the story that was handled by the same Hollywood team that produced ID4. Here’s a short teaser from the game’s auto demo:

Somewhere beyond the orbit of Pluto, a planet full of aliens is waiting. In a centuries long orbit, this 10th planet is heading toward earth. Only your brilliant strategies and expert piloting can destroy the alien invaders. Based upon the Xngine, which provides a true 3D environment for real time space combat.

10th Planet was in development at least since 1995 and Bethesda acquired XL Translab in December 1997, possibly because they were impressed by the FMV they created for the game. The project was briefly shown in Next Generation magazine on February 1997, were they called it “the coolest space combat sim since TIE Fighter“. Bethesda planned to recreate space battles against large sci-fi armies and huge alien ships, similar to the ones seen in Independence Day, but unfortunately something went wrong and 10th Planet had to be cancelled.

A former Bethesda developer remember that the cinematics created by XL Translab were beautiful for their time, but costed a lot of money and made the real time game on the Xngine to look ugly in comparison :

yeah I remember sitting in the Bethesda theatre and seeing what you produced. It looked great if we were going to produce a new TV show but unfortunately it probably killed the product. How on earth were we ‘the game artists’ supposed to recreate the world you were selling. Too much time and money was wasted on this trailer.

At the moment we don’t know how much of the game was completed before the cancellation, if you worked on this lost project, please let us know!

Thanks to Sam Jones for the contribution!

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World Builders Inc. [3DO – Cancelled]

When 3DO was first revealed in mid 1993 among the games presented by Electronic Arts to support the system there was a nice sci-fi simulation called World Builders Inc. Not much is known about it however in September 1994 the game was already on hold for unknown reasons and in the end it was never released. If you know something else about World Builders Inc, please let us know!

Images from Edge issue 1, EGM issue 48, GameFan issue 1-9 and 1-11, Player One issue 33.

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Babylon 5: Into the Fire [PC – Cancelled]

Babylon 5: Into the Fire is a cancelled space combat simulation that was in development by Yosemite Entertainment, an internal division of Sierra FX / Entertainment, based on the cult TV series. The main story would have been placed after the war against the Shadows, but an in-game simulator was supposed to allow fights against their ships, as well.  As we can read in Wikipedia, work on this game ended on September 21, 1999, when, as part of a corporate reorganization, Sierra cancelled it and laid off its development staff when the Babylon 5 was only a few months away from release.

The game was going to let players to pilot of a Starfury fighter craft, giving the opportunity to “move up through the ranks,” and eventually take command of capital ships and even fleets. Christopher Franke composed and recorded new music for the game, and live action footage was filmed with the primary actors from the series.

In the old Babylon 5 website we can still read some more info about the project:

What ships can we fly?

In the single-player game you’ll be flying for the Earth Alliance. That means that your primary ships will be the Starfury and the Thunderbolt. The Minbari Nial, the Centauri Sentri, the Narn Frazi and the Drazi Sky Serpent fighters will be available in multiplayer mode. The Whitestar may also be added as a special case ship.

Will this game be multiplayer?

From day one, the game has been designed with a robust multiplayer mode. B5’s mulitplayer mode has been shown at 1999’s E3, Gencon and a few other events where gamers have been able to test the multiplayer demo.

Thanks to Brackynews and derboo for the contributions! (scans from from PowerPlay 7/1998 and PowerPlay 9/1999)

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