third person shooter

Starfall (Hyboreal Games) [PC – Cancelled]

Starfall is a cancelled loot-shooter RPG that was in development around 2005 – 2006 by Hyboreal Games (later known as UI Pacific), a forgotten team formed by former Blizzard North developers, who previously worked on such games as Diablo, Diablo 2 and the cancelled version of Diablo 3. You can imagine it as a third person shooter with settings and gameplay similar to a mix between Halo and Diablo, plus a comic-book art-style. We can speculate it would somehow have been similar to what Borderlands became when published in 2009.

As we can read on the old Hyboreal Games website:

“The company is establishing a new best-selling game franchise by applying the proven formula of mass accessibility, addictive game play and longevity through replayability. Hyboreal Games was founded by Eric Sexton, Michio Okamura and Steven Woo, all industry veterans and former developers for Blizzard North where their contributions were essential to the success of the highly acclaimed Diablo franchise which has sold well over 13 million copies worldwide.

Hyboreal Games has enlisted the outsourcing services of FlipSide Game Studio in the development of the first project. FlipSide Games was founded by Jon Morin, our long time friend of nearly a decade and former co-worker at Blizzard North. FlipSide Games has already been hard at work helping us on the First project for the past few months.”

Unfortunately the team never showed any in-game screenshot for Starfall and only some concept art is preserved below, to remember the existence of this lost project. We can read some details about their concept for the game in an old interview by Shacknews:

Shack: Have you been in talks with any publishers or other sources of capital, and are you concerned about the financial challenges of this endeavor?

Eric Sexton: We have just started talking with publishers about our current project. Starting your own business is always challenging, but the team is confident in our project and our experience as game developers.

Shack: What can you tell us about your first title?

Eric Sexton: Our current project is a 3D, Science-Fiction, Action RPG. It’s Halo meets Diablo with all the fast visceral game play of third person shooters merged with the character advancement and item collection of a role playing game. You can explore the planets of the galaxy, customize your spaceship and choose the path of your character while deciding the fate of the galaxy.

Shack: The few pieces of concept art available for your project suggest a perhaps more colorful or vibrant aesthetic than that of the Diablo series, where most of the team’s roots lie. Is this indicative of the direction of the game?

Eric Sexton: We do want to go with a slightly lighter look. The art we have up on our page is a preliminary direction, but we are still exploring the “look” of the game universe.”

Hyboreal Games soon vanished without any trace, so we can assume they never found a publisher interested in Starfall.

Images: 

Ugo Volt [Cancelled – Xbox 360, PS3, PC]

Ugo Volt (AKA FLOW: Prospects of Mayhem) is a cancelled FPS – TPS Adventure game that was in development by Move Interactive around 2005 – 2007, planned to be published on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. The game was officially announced in 2006 and it was shown at E3 of the same year: graphically and stylistically it looked like a strange mix between Halo, Too Human and Fable, with cross-settings between sci-fi and fantasy.

As we can read on IGN:

“Ugo Volt will switch from third-person view to a first-person perspective as players move through these two areas of the game, but we didn’t see much of any gameplay mechanics.

[…] In the near future, global warming melts the polar icecaps and floodwaters ravage the earth, covering all but the highest altitudes. (Waterworld?) Things, well, things don’t look good. Out of the ruins, the World Order Corporation harnesses nanotechnology to construct buildings and sanctuary for the population quicker than humanly possible. As the world’s savior, mankind gives ruling power to the World Order Corporation, which by expertly misleading the population, gradually takes away more and more liberties from the population, and eventually goes so far as to instill a dictatorial leadership, complete with emperor and creepy throne room (Revenge of the Sith?).

In 2031, in order to create the first advanced human prototype, the WOC selects a worthy man and woman to give birth to and raise the child. The prototype will use powerful artificial implants and the test period will last 60 years. If successful, mass production will begin. The child’s name is Ugo Volt. At 15, one of Ugo’s neurotransmitters malfunctions and sends out a shockwave that pushes his father into a pit of molten lava. […] Ugo internalizes his anger toward the WOC and eventually creates an alter-ego bent on revenge.”

By looking at available footage Ugo Volt seems like an interesting project. There’s something fun in its style and setting that could have made it enjoyable to play, just like watching a b-movie with friends. In prototype videos we can see some of the first-third person shooting gameplay: the protagonist uses special powers to resolve physic-based puzzles and some kind of black-hole gun, which attracts objects scattered through the levels to use them as projectiles (somehow like the Gravity Gun in Half Life 2). You could also assembly and edit your weapons to create new ones by mixing their parts together, open up shooting gameplay to experimentation.

Unfortunately it was still in early development when the team had to put the project on-hold, for lack of funds. They started working on a tie-in game for Portuguese TV series Floribella, receiving some money from SIC publisher. This was not enough to keep the company afloat and without any new investor interested in Ugo Volt, Move Interactive was closed down in 2008.

Thanks to Dan for the contribution!

Images:

 

Videos:

  

Shitkickers [PSP, PS2 – Cancelled]

Shitkickers is a cancelled action shooter that was pitched by David Jaffe on PSP and PS2, possibly when he was working with Incognito Entertainment o Eat Sleep Play. Just as with his Twisted Metal series, Shitkickers would have heavily used vehicle-combat during missions, with the high concept being “Max Payne set in the deep South of USA“.

While the game was never officially announced and possible not greenlighted by Sony, Jaffe shared a couple of pages from their original pitch on Twitter:

“Shitkickers gives the Nascar fan their own action hero. Shitkickers is not goofy, silly ‘dumb rednck” humor, it actually glamorizes the Red State culture. Think a hard edges Dukes of Hazzard or Smokey And The Bandit. Game would have country music and southern rock soundtrack with country stars even starring in some of the smaller NPC roles (Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, etc.). Kind of like what the Urban Rap games do with the rap star (i.e. 50 Cent’s BulletProof).

Be cool to get the actual licenses for specific trucks, guns, stores and such that are indigenous to the Red State Culture. Game itself is a shooter and driving game (lots of vehicles to use in the missions). A streaming environment would be great, but I don’t know if this will work on the PSP. In an ideal world we’d be making this on PS2 as it has the more casual audience at this point and the casuals would probably dig this more than hardcore, elitist gamers who may make fun of the subject matter.

That said, if our hero is just bad ass in every way (think The Rock in Walking Tall) we could be fine on any platform. I see this as a hard T-rating, something dads and their sons can play together, it’s rough and tough and down and dirty, but it’s not nasty and dark and violent. Hell, maybe we should just get The Rock and scan him and do the 50 Cent thing? Right now, it’s just a vibe and a setting, we would have to work to really make the third person shooter gameplay feel fresh and to give it some unique ideas. But that doesn’t worry me so much.

Overall, I think it’s a fresh, fun theme that may very well be one of the last remaining cultural avenues that games have not exploited. Could this be the action game for those droves who bought ATV OffRoad Fury?”

As far as we know these 2 pages are the only remaining document proving the existence of this lost project and the team may have not started any prototype before it was rejected.

Images: 

Hell or High Water [PC – Cancelled / Prototype]

Hell or High Water is a cancelled jet-boat shooter that was in development by Wild Child Studios for PC. You can imagine it somehow like a mission-based Wave Race set in different levels from all around the world, where you had to shoot down enemies and collect key-items to complete your objectives.

As we can read in the prototype description:

“Hell or High Water fits players in a heavily armed military-type jet-boat. You have to use your best skills to outmaneuver and destroy AI-controlled opponents with your arsenal of rockets and machine-gun. The game consists of several episodes in various parts of the world with different mission objectives. For example, in the episode at Amazon River your goal is to collect dynamite and use it to mine and blow up a river dam, while in the Nord episode you have to find and destroy a crashed plane prototype and pick up the black-box. The whole game is an intense race against time in the world of water, fire and explosions!”

The team worked on this prototype to test gameplay using Driver-Inter‘s proprietary engines, but in the end the project was cancelled, possibly because they did not find a publisher interested in funding it. Wild Child Studios were also working on another water based game titled “Extreme Wakeboarding”, which was also canned in 2002.

Thanks to Mihapsx for the contribution!

Images:

Videos:

 

Wingblade (Bootprint Entertainment) [PC – Cancelled]

Wingblade is a cancelled flying-action arena shooter that was in development by Bootprint Entertainment around 1998 – 1999, planned to be published on PC by their parent company GT Interactive. The team was formed by former ORIGIN Systems (Wing Commander, Ultima, System Shock) developers, lead by producer Rod Nakamoto who wanted to create new, ambitious video games.

As we can read on Gamespot:

“Rod Nakamoto recently left Origin Systems to found a wholly owned development studio for GT Interactive. It’s called Bootprint Entertainment and should make its mark on the industry in the coming years. […] Like GT’s other wholly owned studio, CaveDog, Bootprint is being given free reign to develop the games it wants. Nakamoto says he and his teams want to create products that are not only competitive in terms of graphics, but also in terms of AI and gameplay. But, Roan says, “the main thrust of our games is going to be multiplayer, we’ll still have single-player .

But the near future for Bootprint is all about multiplayer games. Not so much persistent worlds, like Ultima Online, but persistent gaming environments like battle.net. Roan hopes to create games that will grow an online community. […] Bootprint also sees a future in hybrid games. Nakamoto says that they will create hybrids, “with an emphasis on action and a combination of strategy and RPGs. They make for unique products.”

Bootprint is starting out with a technology team, which will soon start work on the engine for its first two games, and two product teams. One team is working on an action/RPG, while the other is working on an action game that could have strategy elements.”

Unfortunately Wingblade was never officially announced by Bootprint Entertainment nor GT Interactive, so details about its gameplay and settings are scarce. By reading that Gamespot article and by looking at the available footage we may speculate it was going to be an online multiplayer shooter in which players could freely fly around fantasy levels to find and kill their opponents.

Keep in mind Wingblade was in development during the “Online FPS craze” of the late ‘90s – early ‘00s, when cult titles such as Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament were some of the most played games on PC. For sure it looked great for 1999 and it could have been a fun multiplayer game if only released.

Unfortunately in 1999 GT Interactive posted a net loss of $254 million, with their game sales failing to meet expectations. In November Infogrames Entertainment bought 70% of GT Interactive, but many of their internal teams had to be closed: after just a couple of years, Bootprint Entertainment was no more. And all of their games in development (Wing Blade, Viscera and Wrath) were canned and lost forever.

Images: