Never finished… but never forgotten…
The more depressing side of game development is the projects that get cancelled or otherwise abandoned… Although I’d risk getting in trouble for talking about some of the bigger (and unannounced) cancelled projects I’ve been involved with, here’s some that I can talk about…
Where Seagulls Dare (2003ish)
This was an original game concept that I worked on whilst at Realism (a start-up formed from the ashes of Software Creations, primarily to finish Super Monkey Ball Jr on GBA). After having a GBA project cancelled mid-development, our GBA-sized team embarked on the fun-but-fairly-futile attempt to develop a demo/pitch for an original game idea, for what were at the time ‘next gen’ platforms (PS2 and original Xbox)
Originally subtitiled ‘Feathers of Fury’, the rough idea was cartoony birds engaged in WW2-style dogfighting with an assortment of strapped-on weaponry including gun turrets armed by rodents… (really must track down the concept art… gives a much better idea of it than the screenshots below)
The design evolved into something a bit like the classic Carrier Command, with the player controlling a squadron of birds based on an airship – arcade-style combat with a fairly significant strategy element (resource management, capturing buildings + base building). But really, there was never much hope of it going anywhere – we didn’t have the resources to make a ‘big game’, and were all hoping we’d get some more GBA work, or even mobile phone work, something that’d keep the company going.
It was fun to work on, though!
Mobile Golf Projects (2003)
Another prototypey project at Realism – one that almost made it as a phone game with big-name licence attached, but never quite got there…
Started out as a 3D engine for PocketPC and Symbian-based phones, and no game to use it for… At the time there wasn’t a decent pool/snooker game on PocketPC, so I started work on this. I’d been working on it during a ‘between jobs’ period, and the project was unfortunately mostly forgotten about after starting a new job… It was just about playable, the rendering/physics/controls worked pretty nicely – the main thing missing was AI and ‘game rules’
Gravity Force Online (2005)
Something I’ve wanted to do for ages and ages is a multiplayer game similar to the Amiga classic ‘Gravity Force 2’ (if you haven’t seen it, think ‘Deathmatch Thrust’, with an assortment of weapons). The first attempt was just known as ‘Grav’, and a DOS-based project back when I was at uni (1997 or so?). It didn’t really get that far.
This one got much further – had working networking, using RakNet, a fairly solid UI system, and a basic lobby (using PHP/MySQL for the server side). I think once again, it was mostly a job change and real-life stuff that killed my motivation to carry this on, but also that I’d made a few big design mistakes – the main one being fixing the resolution at 640×480, and keeping it ‘strictly 2D’ rather than allowing the camera to zoom in+out a bit.
The next attempt at making this game will definitely allow zooming, and won’t use tilemaps… And I’ll try to make the code a bit cleaner, as this attempt got rather messy…