The Deleted Scenes of Disney, Doom and Deus Ex

In 2014 I spoke at VideoBrains in London and shared never-seen-before design documents for a cancelled Deus Ex game. I also talked about the early prototypes of Doom by id Software and warned about the importance of game preservation and documentation.

The lecture was based on two articles I wrote for Eurogamer about Ion Storm’s Lost Deus Ex Sequels and the Deleted Scenes of Doom. You can read those features for more information or contact me for the original research documents.

This talk was filmed and is now available to watch on YouTube, but you can also find the script and slides I used below.

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The Deleted Scenes of Outcast and Outcast 2

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Even today, Outcast is one of the most adored PC games ever made. There are fans so enamoured with it that they’re rebuilding it in new engines – a years-long undertaking reserved only for franchises such as Half-Life.

Yet, while many remember the otherworldly adventures of Cutter Slade fondly, the original design was much more terrestrial and rote by games industry standards.

“We had this idea for a 3D game set in a fictional South American country,” says Franck Sauer, Outcast’s Art Director and Appeal studio co-founder. “[Players] would infiltrate a drug cartel in first person to free abducted tourists from a local drug baron.”

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The Deleted Scenes of No One Lives Forever

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No One Lives Forever was one of the bravest games of its time. A camp spy comedy set at the height of the swinging sixties, NOLF merged action, stealth and RPG elements while pitting you against henchmen and everyday sexism alike. And it did so while other developers released games such as Soldier of Fortune and Diablo II.

But it was by no means a perfect game. Working across so many different genres meant No One Lives Forever didn’t do any single thing as well as its peers – and the frequent stealth missions are an excellent example of this. They not only forced abrupt mission restarts the moment you were spotted – they also offered no way to gauge your own visibility.

“The mandatory sneaking sequences needed to be balanced better,” says Craig Hubbard, who served as NOLF’s Lead Designer. “I do regret that it was impossible to return to sneaking once you’d been spotted…”[Those sequences] were meant to be tense, not frustrating…but we didn’t have a playtest lab in those days.”

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The Deleted Scenes of Dark Camelot

In 2013 I spent several weeks researching the origins of the first Thief game, Thief: The Dark Project, for an article for RockPaperShotgun. This turned out to be the first in a series of investigative pieces I wrote for RPS and Eurogamer, focusing mainly on cancelled games in the Thief and Deus Ex series’.

This first article, Stealing History: Dark Camelot and Thief, investigates the two cancelled projects that preceded Thief: The Dark Project and which heavily shaped its final form. These are Better Red Than Undead, a cancelled Ken Levine game about Russians and zombies, and Dark Camelot, a steampunk reinterpretation of the Arthurian myth.

With help from Thief developer Randy Smith I exclusively uncovered unused levels, early trailers, concept art and plot information.

“The world was more modern than the traditional Arthurian elements. Steampunkish, but with no gunpowder,” says Marc. “I remember seeing sketches of Merlin with a top hat, and there was talk of Knights covered in corporate logos like NASCAR drivers… We didn’t want to be straight up orcs and elves; we wanted to build something unique and memorable. Something we could own.”

I spoke to a whole bunch of the original Looking Glass Studios team for this article and owe a lot of thanks to Randy Smith and Marc LeBlanc for their help.

You can read the full article on RockPaperShotgun for more information, or contact me to get access to the original research.