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Guest post by Frank Gasking

We are simply spoilt for choice these days when it comes to what to play. The games industry is now well over 40 years old and the vast range of titles available to us is growing by the day, with a worth now greater than both the music and film businesses combined.

Regardless of our gluttonous options, there are many games out there that never actually made it to your screens. You probably even know several yourself – maybe that certain demo you played of an exciting new first-person shooter, only for the development studio to go bust. Or perhaps you recall online screenshots and video previews of a new MMORPG that promised so much yet faded into obscurity; never to be seen again. The experiences are no doubt vast and plentiful.

For many, the frustration of not being able to play some of these ‘missing’ games has made the desire greater to want to play them, or at least find out what happened. In many cases, there are valiant attempts to digitally preserve and make unreleased games available for you to play or look at (regardless of how complete), giving a glimpse of what could have been and help ensure potentially years of hard work isn’t lost forever. Crucially though, it is also important to try and hear the stories from those involved in the developments themselves, to share lessons, positives, and mistakes alike for other game developers to take on board for their own future productions.

The author of this very article has been investigating the subject of unreleased games for over twenty years, recently completing a multi-format book on the very subject and paying tribute to ‘the ones that got away’ in The Games That Weren’t. More details and information on pre-ordering can be found at

With the PC/Mac, you could probably write an entire book just on those platforms alone. Here we take a teasing glimpse at a small selection of some titles that have been covered:

Carmageddon TV
Target platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2

After the release of Carmageddon 2 in 1998, Sales Curve Interactive (SCi) unceremoniously dropped the original Stainless Games development team, resulting in the controversial series going completely off rails (anyone recall the inept Carmageddon: TDR 2000?). Carmageddon TV was yet another misjudged effort back in 2005, with internal conflicts between development studio Visual Science and publisher SCi causing the most damage overall. After several disastrous iterations, SCi decided enough was enough and put the game to rest. Thankfully Stainless Games would later regain rights to the entire franchise, meaning that the series is now in good hands once more.

Target platforms: Apple Macintosh and PC

Feeling there was more to just building cities, Maxis wanted to take things further with a full Mars exploration simulation, where you could plan and charter a journey to the famous red planet to then colonize. Due for release around 2000, SimMars was in development for several years and underwent various deliberations and changes throughout, causing numerous delays along the way. When a certain upcoming title named The Sims started to show real promise, the team was moved onto that development to finish it. When The Sims took off in such an unexpected way, it resulted in focus remaining predominantly on the series for years to come; SimMars would remain indefinitely shelved as a result.

Fallout 3
Target platforms: PC (Apple Macintosh likely to have been in consideration)

Not the same Fallout 3 released by Bethesda Game Studios back in 2008, but a completely different third title in the series that was being developed by the prequel’s development studio Black Isle Studios. Codenamed Van Buren, the game had a similar visual approach to the first two games but was created within a fully 3D engine. The team developed an impressive technical demo within a short space of time (which you can find online via various sources) but the project was cancelled when Black Isle Studios was closed due to financial problems at their parent company Interplay Entertainment back in 2003.

That’s not all
You can read more about the above games from their creators and of more PC/Mac titles in the upcoming Games That Weren’t book, due for release in July 2020. There are also a few surprises in store too, with a selection of titles not covered until now - including a Gears of War style third-person shooter, and a story on a surprise completed conversion of a popular Sony PlayStation title.

‘Digging the dirt’ on unreleased games
The book has been underway for just over five years. Why so long? To tell a solid story about an unreleased game requires plenty of investigational work beforehand. You must become a ‘Digital Detective’. Not only is it a case of going through old magazines and websites, but you need to try and get details from those directly involved in the game itself. That kind of information can be golden, revealing information not yet known or further leads.

Where possible, you try to get multiple input and sources, as often memories can blur and distort over time. Part of the challenge though is often in finding those sources in the first place. Many are often completely off the grid, and sadly you’ll occasionally find some people are no longer with us. Sometimes people don’t wish to look back, which you must respect, with some cancellations too painful to reflect on due to personal/sensitive reasons. With more recent titles, you’ll find many will be unable to talk at all, due to signing Non-Disclosure Agreements.

Once you have your research, you can slowly draw out a good timeline of events (depending on how much you can find out) and weave a game’s story together. If you’re lucky, assets can be revealed, even complete builds if you hit the jackpot – though legalities mean that this is rare. Often the only way to play some titles is when an ‘unofficial leak’ is made via an anonymous source.

What else does the book cover?
The book gives an illustrated snapshot of unreleased games from 1975 to 2015, across the arcade, home computer, console, handheld, and mobile platforms. More than 80 games are covered in total, with five specially created 'Hardware That Weren't' blueprint pieces, and interviews regarding titles such as Sex ‘n’ Drugs ‘n’ Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Many games are expanded upon in detail, with those involved sharing their often-untold stories and recollections, as well as attempting to solve some mysteries along the way. Assets are shown for most titles, some never seen until now. Where assets are lacking, there are specially created artist impressions, giving a unique visual interpretation of what could have been.

If you like your gaming books and fancy something different from your usual retrospectives, then hopefully this is the book for you. To find out more and pre-order, please visit

Competition time
Win one of three signed copies of The Games That Weren’t book!

All you must do is answer the following question: What PC/Mac game were you most disappointed to see never released and why?

Post your entry in the forum thread below before June 15th, 1 PM UTC, and we'll pick and reward the three most interesting answers.
The all-time disappointment for me for never being released is/was They Came From Hollywood.

The game was by the first look of it a Sims-like game, but here you didn't build the city - you destroyed it.
The game was to be an isometric view one, which I always loved, the greatest cRPGs (Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate trilogy) came using that perspective, and as FPS-view gives me motion-sickness, I'm left out from a majority of big titles with the current market-shift.
Ok, this wan was to be a real time monster-fest, like Black&White's avatar, not a cRPG, but that doesn't take anything from it.

The game also did not look too resource-heavy, which is always a plus.

For a time, after reading about it in a PC-magazine (in Hungary, so yes, they had a pretty dedicated marketing campaign to reach such a small country), I thought this was just a hoax-title, but they even made their own website, which still exists, and is full of supplemental material.

The them, that you take the role of classic horror monsters was also attractive to me, with the internet getting accessible around that time, the promotional material even helped me find some new-for-me monsters and their movies. I always loved horror-movies.
But of course the already recognised creatures were the real hook, like It!'s ants, some Godzilla-like creature, or the 50 feet tall woman. And they were promised to come with customizable abilities!

It had style, looked accessible entertainment, had connection to other piece of media but with an original twist - but I'm completely sure the project is long dead. At least I'm convinced it did exist though, and even if it had not come to fruition, it still gave me something to be remembered of, likethe never made Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, which also looked totaly awesome by design and concept, but was a movie instead of a game.

TCfH haiku challenge:
Alien ray struck
Grown out her house and husband
Freedom comes by luck.
Simply, Gabriel Knight 4.
Diablo 3 by Blizzard North.

The alpha screenshots looks great, it fits with the theme. But then Blizz North was disbanded and now we get a cartoony Diablo 3 that no one ever asked for. I mean really, just look at the old screenshots, picture says it all.
For me it's definitely Prey 2. That game looked to be exceptional and seemingly had inspiration from Blade Runner and Star Wars. Maybe it was too ambitious or left others less enthused than I was, but after liking the original Prey a lot I was bought in immediately after seeing that first trailer. I was working at GameStop at the time and had left my pre-order on it well past the amount of time I should have, but I was a believer. Eventually the game was cancelled, but at least we got the exceptional reboot/reimagining in 2017's Prey.
Stargate SG-1: The Alliance
Post edited June 09, 2020 by GreatRed
For me, it's been the original Fallout 3 for the last 20 years. I played Fallout 2 to death (and played through the first one several times, too) in the late 90s (after buying a used copy at a now-defunct video game chain, but that's another story), and held my breath for the next iteration the whole time. I was as disappointed as anyone when Black Isle went under (well, maybe not the people who worked there). I like the Bethesda Fallout 3, but it's still not what I wanted.
Another game that I really wanted to be out and never happened was Lone Wolf - Flight From the Dark, a first person action adventure based on the book by Joe Dever. I was eager to play the role of the Magnamung hero, the last - and unexperienced - Kai Lord. I kept daydreaming of being capable of using Kai Disciplines such as telekinesis. tracking, camouflage, mindshield, even comunicating telepatically with animals. For what I understand as mainly economical reasons the studio was set in Singapore, but the developing team, called Ksatria was disbanded and the game totally cancelled. All the sparkling magic we had seen effusing from the main character hands in the previews was extinguished forever.
We got some Lone Wolf Android games many years later but nothing like that. At the same time I dream of what it could have been, and I know that at least they could not release a disappointing game. We will never know.
Even studio name, Ksatria, would make me fantasize - it refers to the Indian warrior caste.
Post edited June 10, 2020 by Dogmaus
The game I am disappointed to never see released? That would be Leisure Suit Larry 4. Why? Because the floppies with the source got missing and thus we'll never get to play it ;)
Fallout 3 (Project Van Buren)
Definitly Prey 2 by Human Head Studios. The game was so promising. Looking forward to learning something new about it from the book. ✌
I'm going to go with an unconventional suggestion Meantime. Meantime was to be an official sequel to Wasteland (precursor to Fallout) by Brian Fargo. The game would have you traveling through time and recruiting historical figures like Amelia Earhart, and have you repairing damage by a time-traveling villain!

How would gaming history would have changed if this game came to being? Would we have still have a Fallout or a Wasteland 2? If so would it instead have a cool time travel theme? I can't think of any other historical time travel RPG in video game history.

InXile trademarked meantime in 2014, maybe there is hope. If you are reading this, make Meantime happen!
Post edited June 11, 2020 by RPGFanboy
What PC/Mac game were you most disappointed to see never released and why?

Everquest Next

MMO game which promised moldable landscape through usage of voxels and even encouraged players to do just that to find hidden content. The landscape would recover itself after a time but it would change how combat would affect the battlefield by players or even by enemies which were using skills which would terraform the landscape as a consequence.

The promise of an AI system which would react to playerbase's collective actions and try to form quest lines based on those actions or inactions. No server would have the same "storyline" in it due to this.

Everquest Landmark was to launch as a side game for it and allow players create content using the voxel engine which could have been imported into Everquest Next so player created content in MMO game would have presented new opportunities to affect the world's content. There were pretty good content being produced during the Alpha/Beta phase.

But alas it was cancelled and the official reason was that it wasn't fun. I would have believed that MMO voxel game would be cancelled due to technical issues with keeping things in sync with everyone, not because the team came to conclusion that it wasn't fun.

I was looking forward to the AI system reacting to player's actions and frankly that seems to be one thing that games have stopped focusing on. Sure there is a lot of busy work in games and that counts as content but I would wish games would learn how I play or what I focus on and try push back against those tactics. Or that in open world games we wouldn't just clear an area from everything but how the enemy is acting in it and for it to push back against player's actions. Have the AI play the game as resource sim.
Bumping this thread as some users do not see it listed in the forum.
StarChan: Bumping this thread as some users do not see it listed in the forum.
Thanks, now it exists again!
Warhammer Online by Climax.

I know, I know, Mythic ended up releasing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. And it was nothing like the game Climax had previously been developing.

Climax's version of Warhammer Online was atmospheric, dark, and huge. Early teasers and trailers made it look and feel like the Warhammer World should feel like.

Ultimately, GW decided that rollout costs would be too high, and the project was canned, and replaced with Mythic's version, which many of us like to call "World of Warhammer"—it had a much more cartoony/Warcraft-like aesthetic, and a much smaller scale (cramming players together).