Remember how great StarCraft: Ghost was going to be? Sorry, it’s dead. It’s not uncommon for games to be cancelled. It usually happens like this: A game is announced, we hear nothing about it for years, then buried somewhere in a press release about another game we find a note that mentions that it has been “indefinitely delayed,” which actually means “permanently delayed.” And that’s it, we never hear about it again.
Above: StarCraft: Ghost – “delayed” for the past seven years
Alternatively, there are occasions when the game was only a rumor to begin with, kept alive by our collective desire for it to exist. We delude ourselves until we’re certain that the game will make an appearance, only to find out that the company in charge of the property has inexplicably decided not to make the game that everyone wants. Why would they do that? Well, licensing disputes, layoffs, creative disagreements, and/or any of the other five billion (number not exact) things that can prevent a game from existing.
In this particularly tenuous economy, fears of pre or mid-development death are possibly more grounded than usual. There are, let’s say, at least 12 big games (because that’s a nice number) with fates that seem ambiguous, or at least worth looking into. To assuage some of your fears (and confirm others), we’ve done a bit of an industry check-up with our handy stethoscope (Google). Which games have a fighting chance, and which are dead for good?
We thought for sure that Oddworld was dead. Designer Lorne Lanning went on a game design hiatus several years ago, and his company’s internal game dev studio was closed – the plan was to move on to TV and film. But according to a 2006 talk by Maxis co-founder Jeff Braun, a new Oddworld game actually is being produced. He also boasted that the game will feature "cinematic quality on a '1 to 1 scale' to that of computer-generated motion pictures." Lanning responded, confirming only that he is “working on “Oddworld stuff.”
Above: Abe has one of the strongest cult followings in the game industry… so strong it almost can’t be called “cult” anymore
That sounds pretty conclusive, but in three years we’ve yet to hear anything new about the game. As a sign of hope, Oddworld Inhabitants (Lanning’s studio) does appear to be working on a new website. If you’re not the hoping type, you’ll note that the page footer says “Copyright 2006.”
The studio, Oddworld Inhabitants, is also working on a CG movie/game called Citizen Siege but we’ve got almost no information about the property, excepting a basic story synopsis. Will 2009 mark Oddworld Inhabitants’ triumphant return? We’ll have to run more tests.
In 2007, Take-Two announced that L.A. Noire was delayed until 2009. Since then we’ve seen a website, a short teaser, and a couple of paragraphs which claim that the game will “truly blend cinema and gaming.” For a game that is meant to be a landmark in videogame storytelling, we expected a little more hype. Maybe they’re waiting for E3.
Above: Ooh, moody
Despite the lack of excitement, it isn’t dead. In fact, the developer, Team Bondi, is hiring. Specifically, they’re hiring animators to “to cope with the final production phase of L.A. Noire.” The game is still on, we just don’t know when it will be on our screens. If we’re lucky, Rockstar (who is working with Team Bondi) will drop us some new info soon.
Project H.A.M.M.E.R. was announced at E3 ’06. It was supposed to be one of the Wii’s landmark launch games. At E3 ’07, Nintendo said it was on hold, and that was the last official statement - it has since disappeared. Famitsu supposedly reported that it was cancelled, but we’re still awaiting any definitive, official word on the game’s status… or what the hell it is/was.
Above: Has Project H.A.M.M.E.R. gone the way of MC Hammer?