I’ve long admired Luca and the rest of the Unseen 64 team, who have formed a community around their desire to collect information on cancelled games. Over the last few years Unseen64 has, along with The Cutting Room Floor, become one of the biggest and best sources of information about games that never saw the sun.
So, when Luca told me was planning to publish a book about the games they’ve explored, I was honoured to contribute a foreword to the book, as well as my own research into a number of games such as Deus Ex 3: Insurrection and Thief 4: Dagger of Ways.
The completed book, Video Games You Will Never Play, took two years to write and is over 500 pages long. It includes analysis of over 200 cancelled games and projects, including Jade Empire 2, the port of Halo to Nintendo DS and the Sleeping Giants RPG created by Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios.
You can buy Video Games You Will Never Play from either Amazon or Createspace, in full colour or black and white. The editions are identical, save for different front covers and that the black and white version is a bit cheaper.
Createspace: Video Games You Will Never Play color edition or black and white
Amazon UK: Video Games You Will Never Play colour edition or black and white
Find out more about this book at Unseen64
Discover more articles by me about cancelled video games
In 2014 I spent six months researching two cancelled Deus Ex games that had been in production at Ion Storm Austin before it collapsed. Neither of the games were announced at the time, but with help from the Dolph Briscoe Archive at the University of Texas I was able to uncover design documents, concept art and more.
In the end I wrote a feature on the topic for Eurogamer, called Ion Storm’s Lost Deus Ex Sequels.
Both games were cancelled ahead of release and suffered from protracted, troubled development. The first attempt, called Deus Ex: Insurrection, was led by Art Min – a long time collaborator with Warren Spector. The second, called Deus Ex 3, was developed by Jordan Thomas, who later worked on Thief, BioShock and The Magic Circle. I spent a long time speaking to both Art and Jordan about their visions, the collapse of Ion Storm and the legacy of Deus Ex.
Each of the games would have been very different and Jordan’s in particular sounds especially exciting – an open world version of Deus Ex that would have been similar in structure to Crackdown. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and the studio was closed by Eidos before development began in earnest.
Here’s a quote from Jordan Thomas about the closure of the Ion Storm and his feelings about it almost a decade later.
“There’s a reason the place closed and it was chiefly hubris. There are many people who will tell you that the publisher f***ed us but, no. No. The method failed. Making a smaller, more intimate Deus Ex was on nobodies mind. Including mine.”
It took a long, long time to research all this and write about it, so please – read the full article to find out more. You can also contact me if you’d like a copy of the original research and documents I uncovered.
I spoke at Jake Tucker’s Videobrains event again recently. It’s a great series of monthly talks where journalists, academics, developers and fans come together to discuss their passion.
This month saw Emma Sinclair talk about the role of games in scientific research; Tom Hatfield talk about what computer games can learn from tabletop games and Kate Gray talk about games as a tool for overcoming anxiety. Videobrains is a great event that deserves your support.
I spoke about Easter Eggs; how we define them, what my favourite ones are and what they mean to me. I’ve also written up my presentation notes here, with slides in the right places and added links – but you can also watch a video of the talk on YouTube too.
Continue reading “Videobrains: Easter Eggs”
If you didn’t fancy reading the transcript of my VideoBrains talk, The Deleted Scenes of Disney, Doom and Deus Ex, then you now have the option to watch the video instead. I actually lost my presentation notes immediately before the talk, so I end up rambling an awful lot and maintain a numbing monotone throughout. Sorry – but at least there’s a Q&A at the end!
Other videos from VideoBrains are now being posted up at the official VideoBrains website and I can particularly recommend watching the talks that Alan Williamson gave (“The Uniquely Alien World of Unreal”) and Meg Jayanth (“How to Ruin Videogames”) – which is why I’ve embedded both below.
Continue reading “VideoBrains: The Deleted Scenes Video”
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.
Continue reading “The Deleted Scenes of Disney, Doom and Deus Ex”