Dogfish Entertainment was a rather obscure studio established in October 2000, created by former employees of Bullfrog Productions (Syndicate Wars, Dungeon Keeper 2, Dark Omen). The team worked on many different prototypes, trying to pitch their ideas to publishers. One of these concepts was for a survival horror game titled “Horrorville“, which around 2001 could have been green-lighted by Sony as a first-party game, along with another game titled “Dinosaur Zoo“. Unfortunately we don’t have any more detail about these cancelled projects. In 2002 Sony decided to cut their collaboration with Dogfish and the company had to close down. Horrorville and all their other prototypes were lost forever.
Only a single image (of what we assume could have been Horrorville’s female protagonist) is preserved below, to remember the existence of this unreleased game. If you know someone who worked at Dogfish Entertainment, please let us know!
In early ‘00s Infogrames had already a few economic problems: in 2002 they had a loss of $67 million and things would only get worse during the following years. While Alone in the Dark 5 was never officially announced by Infogrames it could have been a successful game for them, bringing in some good sales. Unfortunately this never happened.
Horror films directorJoerg Buttgereit, who worked on such movies as Nekromantik and Schramm, was the one who created Game of Death’s concept and characters, a psychological horror game with an original gameplay mechanic.
The game’s protagonist is a young man sent to a hospital after a lethal car accident. While doctors try to save him, he dreams of a strange world in which you have to defeat evil serial killers to survive. Each homicidal maniac must be killed by their own method – choked, cut to pieces with a chainsaw, shot with a shotgun, crucified and so on.
You had to obtain the right weapons able to kill each boss by taking them from the less powerful monsters found in each level. It was necessary to learn and exploit the bosses weaknesses to survive, otherwise it would have been impossible to beat them. Players would have been able to read through the case files for those serial killers, to find clues about their modus operandi and weakness.
At the same time players should try to not became a murderer themselves, by killing bosses only during special circumstances, for example for self-defense, through the release of their kidnapped victims and so on. This would permit to eliminate the serial killers without losing your “innocence”, otherwise you could also lose your life at the end of the game.
More than 40 maniac bosses were planned for the game, each on with their own level accessible from a HUB zone, a giant bone cathedral.
Thanks to an interview with Burns Entertainment by Golem.de (in german, translated with Google Translate) we can learn some more details about this lost game:
Golem.de: How did the cooperation between BURNS and Jörg Buttgereit come about?
Winkler: I thought you’d have to do a horror game, in which you would like to go to bed after a gamble, but not in the basement. But this is hardly feasible as a pure game developer. Since you have all sorts of experiences, but none in terms of horror dramaturgy, effects and suspense. That’s why I contacted Jörg, who in Germany is something like the grandmaster of the horror and trash movie. I knew his necromancy films and the reviews he published in the Berlin press about movies. He has a wonderfully laconic writing style, I immediately liked that. Jörg found the idea exciting to play a game and immediately pledged.
Golem.de: Where do you see the most serious differences between Game Of Death and current action titles?
Winkler: Most action games are in fictitious worlds. The player fights against fantasy monsters or anonymous mercenaries. In Game Of Death, however, the player encounters negative characters in contemporary history who are firmly rooted in the memory of their nations. Many Germans know Fritz Haarmann, and many Americans know who Charles Manson or Jeffrey Dahmer is. Dealing with the abysses of the human psyche is exciting for most people, whether they admit it publicly or prefer to watch “The Silence of the Lambs” at home alone, and we are openly dealing with that. Another difference is the awareness of physical decay. The hero is not a superman. If he is injured, the player can actually see the consequences of this injury. The hero loses physical substance with each injury until he becomes disabled as a skeleton. Of course, he can regenerate his energy and his physical substance during the game in various ways.
Golem.de: Do you think that Game of Death is at risk of being indexed?
Winkler: No. The game definitely will not be a splatter orgy and will not provide any instructions to finally get rid of your unloved neighbor, who has always annoyed you. It may of course be that someone alone calls for the keyword “serial killer” after indexing. This happened only recently before the cinema start of “Hannibal”, and that will happen again and again. But we aim for a USK release from 16 years. This is far from an indexing game.
Golem.de: Where do you set the limits with regard to the biographies of serial killers? What will you learn about the characters in the game, what will you be able to re-enact?
Winkler: In the game every mass murderer and serial killer dies according to the method with which he has killed his victims. As a result, the player becomes a hero and avenger on behalf of the defenseless victims. In order to fulfill this role, the player learns the most important information about the killer’s deeds and psyche in a “Serial Killers Dictionary” (SDK), which is constantly available as an inventory component. Not every detail of the life of mentally disturbed child molesters is spread in it. The SDK limits itself to key data relevant to the game.
The historically accurate course of the murders is not reconstructed in the game. This is not necessary for the gameplay. I also do not think anyone is really interested in slicing up the guts of a highly pregnant woman like the Manson gang did with Sharon Tate. That’s where we set very clear limits.
As far as we know, Burns Games were not able to find a publisher for Game of Death, maybe because of its settings. In the end the game was cancelled and the company vanished forever after a few years. Game of Death’s soundtrack would have been composed by Rod Army.
LiZboa is a cancelled game that was in developed between 2009 and 2011 by Portuguese team Vectrlab, who wanted to create the first portuguese horror FPS, taking place in a post-apocalyptic Lisbon filled with zombies.
Being developed for PC and Mac, LiZboa would place the player in the role of a survivor of a pandemic disease that would transform Lisbon in the Ground Zero of a worldwide zombie-apocalypse. All of the action would happen in the most famous places of the Portuguese capital, such as Alfama, Graça, Baixa, Avenida da Liberdade, among others. In order to raise money for development, the game was supposed to have in-game advertising, product placement and a crowdfunding campaign was also planned.
Vectrlab were inspired by movies like 28 Days Later, Evil Dead, I am Legend and Dawn of the Dead, other than games like Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 1 and 2. LiZboa was shown to the public for the first time at Motelx 2009 (Lisbon International Horror Film Festival) and in December of the same year, it was also shown at the 3rd Ignite Portugal, where Tiago Loureiro (Vectrlab CEO and Executive Producer) did a presentation of the game, explaining the concept behind te project, their marketing and how they planned to raise funds for development.
In 2010 a new partnership with Blueshark Studios was announced: this Portuguese company with a long history of outsourcing work for videogames, would provide concept art for LiZboa. In May another partnership with “Bad Behavioud” (a studio focused on horror movies), to – quoting Ângelo Fernandes – “expand LiZboa’s universe so as to give it a [more] cinematographic experience”.
At Motelx 2010 a playable demo / vertical slice (created in about 1 year of development) was available for the first time. Vectrlab had finally some defined concepts for their game (such as the main story arch, characters and their motivation, settings, etc.) and they could finally show this playable section of the game set in Sao Jorge Castle.
Despite all their efforts and the promotion of their game, Tiago Loureiro now recognizes that at the time LiZboa was too ambitious for their small start-up company. The project ended up being cancelled, after failing to secure funds with their crowdfunding campaign, without any investors interested in their in-game advertising or product placement. It was not possible to continue the project with just their own money.
Deprived is a cancelled first person horror game that was in development by Diesel Games in 2007 / 2009, planned to be released for PC and Xbox 360. The game was conceived as a collaboration with GenAudio to showcase their “4D sound technology” known as AstoundSound.
As far as the settings and gameplay promised, Deprived could have been similar to Condemned: Criminal Origins – another first-person horror game developed by Monolith Productions and released in November 2005 on the Xbox 360.
Audio would have been a key element in the game, taking advantage of the AstoundSound technology to “models how the brain perceives sound from all directions (including above and below the listener)”. As Deprived was conceived as an horror game we can assume that this kind of high-level audio would have highly improved players’ immersion in its fearful world.
“AstoundSound uses enhanced 3D sound technology software, we call 4D, built on over a decade of research and development into how the human brain perceives sound. “
“We’re thrilled to present Deprived, a special technology demo from Astound Holdings. Set in a creepy, abandoned prison building, the demo provides the perfect setting for you to experience a rich soundscape powered by AstoundSound 3D RTI spatial audio technology. You’ll hear game audio like never before!”
Before to close down without any official statement, Diesel Games were also working on another cancelled game only known as “Project Tesla”. If you worked on these lost games and could help to preserve more details and media, please let us know!