strategy

Shinbatsu (Gainax) [Sega Saturn – Cancelled]

Shinbatsu (神罰, Divine Punishment) is a cancelled strategy / simulation game that was in development for the Sega Saturn around 1995. The project was being produced by popular animation studio Gainax, just a few months before the first original run of their cult-series: Evangelion.

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Character design for Shinbatsu was done by Kenji Tsuruta, mostly known for his Spirit of Wonder manga. Unfortunately we don’t have much more details about this lost game, but VGDensetsu found a page with a few screenshots and a short preview in Sega Saturn Magazine (March 1, 1995).

If you can read Japanese and could write a short summary of what they wrote about this game, please leave a comment below!

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Geopolitic Shima ni Okeru Kokka Kobo Ron [NES / Famicom – Cancelled]

Irem developed and published many games for the NES / Famicom, such as Holy Diver, Hammerin’ Harry and Deadly Towers. They also had many projects that were never released, and this “Geopolitic Shima ni Okeru Kokka Kobo Ron” is one of them.

This is a really obscure and forgotten strategy / simulation game planned for the Famicom, and only a couple of images were found in a japanese magazine by Youlute.

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It seems players would have been able to plan their war against enemy armies, to control the whole world. As it happens with old, cancelled 8 bit games, we don’t know much more about this one: at least we can now remember its existence. Maybe one day someone could find a prototype and share it with the world. 

Dagoth Tactics (Moor Zoological Gardens) [PC, Xbox 360 – Cancelled]

Dagoth Moor Zoological Gardens was an impressive GeForce tech demo created in 1997 / 1998 by The Whole Experience (WXP), a small development team base in Seattle. In this demo you could move around a fantasy setting, inhabited by strange creatures:

“Creative Labs will ship their ‘3D Blaster Annihilator‘ with WXP’s technology demo “Dagoth Moor Zoological Gardens”. This demo is using the engine of WXP’s upcoming fantasy action title ‘Experience’ and it’s the first independent application that is using GeForce’s T&L-engine. The demo is not a real game, but you can walk around and explore the beautiful scenery that soothes your mind by looking at it. I have to say that I never saw a game-demo as impressive and as beautiful at the same time, but some of you might be very disappointed about the complete lack of blood and violence.”

Another Geforce tech demo in the same Dagoth Moor settings was later released in 1999 under the title “Isle of Morg”:

“Isle of Morg is a technology demo that integrates the features found in GeForce2 GTS with typical gameplay mechanics such as physics and collision detection, as well as special effects including particle systems, dynamic water, environment mapping, per-pixel shaders, and dynamic lighting. It’s a great example of what is possible in today’s games.”

Thanks to the success of their tech demos WXP were able to work on a few commercial games for various publishers, with titles such as Lord of the Rings and Greg Hastings Tournament Paintball. The team wanted to create their own original game “Experience” since 1997, but between contract works and difficulties in finding a publisher for their own IP, they had to keep it as a side-project until many years later.  In 2002 / 2003 they also worked on “The Guardian“, a cancelled adventure game to be published by Capital Entertainment Group for the original Xbox.

In 2007 they developed a pitch demo for a new strategy game based on their Dagoth Moor settings. This game was titled “Dagoth Tactics”, planned to be released on PC and Xbox 360. There are no other details available about Dagoth Tactics: by looking a the few images available we can assume it would have been a classic strategy game with Hex-Grid movements.

In the end Dagoth Tactics was never completed and it was cancelled in favor of a FPS set in the same fantasy settings. Initially titled “Exod Intervention” WXP’s original first person shooter was then released in 2011 as Xotic on Steam and Xbox 360. Unfortunately it seems the game did not sell enough to keep the team alive, and WXP was soon disbanded. We probably will never get another game set in the Dagoth Moor Zoological Gardens.

  

Shining Star [GBA – Cancelled]

Shining Star is a cancelled strategy game once in development for Game Boy Advance by Eworks Studios, conceived from an original idea by British producer Faraz Ansari, former leader of the now-closed studio Storm Entertainment.

In this military shooter players would  control “Kool Shen”, a silent “one man army” with a dry sense of humor. Eworks Studios started working on Shining Star in 2005, planning to build a “proof of concept” to be presented to investors. Concept art was initially created by Bruno Covachã and Marco Vale, but later Tiago Pimentel became the main character designer for the project. Marco Leal was hired for a month to create sprites, while Vale was responsible for their animations.

A playable prototype was developed by Eworks, a short demo in which you start in a deserted village in a south American jungle, and have to fight against your enemies using a shotgun, a pistol and some grenades. A few areas were available and in each level players would face different challenges in some sort of a maze, using obstacles in their favor to defeat enemy soldiers.

Two support characters would help players in their missions and explain the main goals. One of them was named “Shurk’n”, a war hero colonel with a very aggressive personality who would frequently lose control. The second character was named “Dragon Ash”, a woman commander who would give positive reinforcement and more confidence to players in a way that would be the opposite of the colonel’s.

According to the design document they wanted to develop an original and complex artificial intelligence to control the game’s enemies. An interesting concept of “action-reaction” was fully implemented in Shining Star’s prototype to make enemies to react to players’ movement and strategies. These enemies would following a “playbook”, a kind of database of different reactions (like throwing a grenade, moving, covering and so on) specific to each map that would be activated in a way that would simulate a tactical action against the player.

Artworks for the game were heavily inspired by Metal Slug, while Riviera was quoted as a reference for menus and graphics interface. Advance Wars was also a strong inspiration for the team, mainly for how dialogs and characters would have been shown.

Development of the prototype was filled with communication problems between the producer and the team. If this was not enough, the GBA was already at the end of its life-cycle, the Nintendo DS was already released but they were not able to get a dev-kit for the new console. Eworks Studios were able to complete their playable prototype, and to deliver it to the game’s producer.

Unfortunately they never found a publisher interested in their game and in the end the project was canned. Later Eworks Studios thought to rework Shining Star into a 3D game to be released on digital download, but it never happened.

In the gallery below you can see some concept art by Tiago Pimentel, concepts and pixel art by Marco Vale and also a few screenshots of a very early prototype also provided by Vale. Thanks to their time and help we were able to preserve these details, to remember the existence of this game that will never be.

If you know someone who knows what happened to Faraz Ansari, Storm Entertainment or the whereabouts of the playable Shining Star prototype please let us know!

Article by Jump/Error, original version in Portuguese on the Videogame PT Blog!

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Project V13 (Strategy RPG Version) [PC – Cancelled]

Project V13 was the codename originally used for Interplay‘s original attempt at creating Fallout Online, an overly-ambitious MMO that was initially in development in 2006 by Engage Games Online, then by Micro Forté and in the end by Masthead Studios, before to be finally cancelled.

The original Project V13 MMO was canned after a lengthy court case with Bethesda as Interplay lost the rights to make the MMO using the Fallout IP. Interplay could have probably tried to rework their MMO into an original IP, but we can assume they understood it would have been difficult to successfully develop and complete a quality MMO without enough money and without a recognized IP to work with. That’s when they decided to redesign their game as a classic isometric turn-based strategy RPG using a new setting, but still similar to the original two Fallout games. This kind of project is something they could have easily completed with way less money, using their previous experience on strategy RPGs.

To work on this second version of Project V13 Interplay decided to reconstitute the previously closed Black Isle Studios, using their fame to hype up the game, even if only Mark O’Green and Chris Taylor were back from the original team. In december 2012 Interplay and Black Isle opened a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to create a prototype of their new strategy RPG, raising slightly over $6000.

Donating to the campaign gained access to the Black Isle Forums on which they posted updates and pieces of concept art from the game, as well as a picture of the tabletop prototype that they were using to test out the rules for the digital game.

Here’s the original details available on the Black Isle website / crowdfunding campaign:

“Project V13 (PV13) is the first planned Black Isle Studios release in years, a post-apocalyptic strategy RPG. You will create a character to represent yourself within the game world. Your character will be a hardy adventurer from a variety of backgrounds; one of the last remaining humans, a new breed mutant, or a technologically advanced cyborg. The choice is yours.

Once you have determined your character’s background, you will found your “colony”. From a deserted city, a broken down military base, or even the ruins of an oil pumping station, the colony will be yours to rebuild and control. Attract non-player characters for guards, peons, scientists, and other activities. Or, if you are the type that so desires, shanghai the NPCs. Put them to work rebuilding your society and improving your colony.

Meanwhile, you will experience grand adventures to gather the resources and ancient technologies as well as fight back the enemy hordes. Your character will gain experience, advance skills, learn new talents and gain access to incredibly powerful equipment. Or die trying.

Explore the world, meet friends, and fight your neighbors for control of resources. PV13 will be your chance to rebuild a devastated world.

Project V13 cancelled Black Isle second SRPG

About the Team

We’re an experienced team of game developers. We love the post-apocalyptic genre and want to do something exciting with it. PV13 has been in development for years, but we’ve had to make some major changes recently. We believe the changes are for the better and we’re excited about working on this new iteration of PV13.

We Need Help

But we can’t do it alone. We need to raise money to put together a prototype. We need more developers and staff. This is a big world we’re developing.

The prototype will be a “proof of concept“. It won’t have the entire world or a finished game. We’ve got some great ideas, but they haven’t been tested in the crucible of actual play. We need time and money. We’ll have most, if not all, systems in the proof of concept. We’ll be able to run around the world, interacting with NPCs and objects, basic combat, building and worker management, and test the other core gameplay mechanics.

We can then use this prototype to raise the additional funds necessary to complete the game.

Our backers will have immediate access to a private forum, where you will be able to interact with the developers. You’ll have the earliest possible access to the friends and family beta test towards the end of development. You will be able to influence the game’s ultimate direction by providing valuable feedback.

Sounds great, but what will you do with my money?

We have been working hard behind the scenes to resume operations as Black Isle Studios. Since we are no longer constrained by licensing issues, we have the opportunity to build a new IP from the ground up and there is a lot more latitude to unleash our creativity, try some new ideas and even incorporate your suggestions. Our goal at this stage is threefold: 1) prove to management that you want Black Isle Studios resurrected – and all the history and tradition of excellence that goes with it; 2) to continue to staff up BIS and complete our PV13 game design; and 3) to develop a tech demo/ proof of concept for our design that will open the doors to additional funding.”

Unfortunately feedback on this new project was not very good, only hardcore fans of Black Isle and old-school strategy RPGs supported the crowdfunding campaign, it was not enough to really develop a playable prototype and raise more funds. Interplay quietly removed any references to Project V13 from their website, the supporters’ Forum were closed down sometime later and there are no official statements on what happened to it.

As wrote by machiavalium on Reddit:

“After seeing it and realizing it was months past the deadline, I decided to check it out again and see where the project stood. It hasn’t changed much at all, in fact the ability to donate was still up and running until August 15th, 2014, eight months past the original deadline and two months past the Forum deadline. They ended with only $6,630 (Campaign Successful!), with donations trickling in once every couple months according to their feed.

They haven’t provided public updates since January 3rd, despite continuing to take donations for another eight months. Did anyone around here contribute? Has anyone heard any news? Or was it really just a shady cash-grab by Black Isle/Interplay?”

Only a few concept arts and a photo from the tabletop test-game remains to remember this unreleased project. On September 2016 Interplay sold off all their remaining intellectual properties and video game assets, ending their long troubled existence.

Thanks to True Patrician for the contribution!

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