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.
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.
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.”
This Christmas I’ve bought Unlimited Hyperbole back for a special episode, during which I threw the microphone into the crowd and asked you, the listeners, to send in submissions telling me the answer to one question.
If you could change one thing about your involvement with games, what would it be?
I was astonished by the responses which came back and I’ve presented them all here as straightforwardly as I can, with as little droning and editing from me as possible. Settle in for a longer, rougher and more optimistic episode of Unlimited Hyperbole than ever before, with submissions from the following delightful people and a download mirror provided by Split Screen…
Last week Jason Dewey interviewed me for a new video series he’s doing called Press X to Speak. I talked about what I like about games, what I hate about them and what my biggest professional regrets are. This teaser clip features me talking about The Secret of Monkey Island and why I enjoy co-operative singleplayer more than just straight multiplayer. Watch it, do.
Steam Trading Cards. When Valve introduced them, my first reaction was to cringe. It seemed a crass new direction for the store and the notion of turning game-playing into a wider card grind was one I didn’t want anything to do with. I sold the first cards I got out of curiosity, made 20p, then quickly lost interest. This wasn’t for me.
Until earlier this week, when Teleglitch was reduced to £2.25. I’d had Teleglitch on my wishlist for a while, but I was also trying to save money and couldn’t justify any expense. So, I set myself the challenge of raising the money in a single day, just through Steam Trading Cards.
After all, everyone’s read about the man who swapped his way from a paperclip to a house. This goal didn’t seem anywhere near that grand…