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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.
Wow never knew about that alternate F3 project

For me it has to be the canceled Batman game that was based on the look of the Nolan films and being produced by a promising studio that was owned/ partly owned/ funded by Bono of U2.
Post edited June 13, 2020 by iamdroz117
A bit late to the "party".

Back in the early 2000s, I was very interested in the Dune Generations project − a MMO which had features similar to the popular then Mankind, so a Real Time Strategy MMO, with base-planet management a bit like Imperium Galactica.

And to add to the sadness, especially regarding the new coming Dune film (and the apparent rejection by Herbert estate of the dune games re-releases), I can mention Emperor: Alliances, the expansion for Emperor: Battle for Dune, that new saw the light, too. It is documented here.

I know that it seems that the Herbert estate isn't interested in releasing old Dune games, but, especially with the new film... it would be a shame of bad timing if they weren't released for december 2020 at least − a bit like what I wanted for the rerelease of the Blade Runner game during the theater exploitation of Blade Runner 2049.

I want my Emperor: Battle for Dune DRM-free. I personally have my old french dvd box and US big box, but seeing this game a new exposure would be delightful. Especially after the C&C remaster.
Post edited June 13, 2020 by Huinehtar
StarCraft: Ghost for the Xbox.
I was looking forward to sneak around in the StarCraft world. And at the time the graphics looked good too.
Jazz Jackrabbit 3, without doubt. The demo you can find online seemed promising, but unfortunately, it was not to be. It's a shame - Jazz would have worked great as a 3D platformer.
Secret of Vulcan Fury. The prerendered CGI was mind blowing at the time, the story looked interesting, adventure games are awesome, and it was De Kelly’s last work as McCoy.

With this modern kick of remastering old games, let’s make something happen.
The real game I really missed is Full Throttle 2 I think.

But maybe the one that hit me hardest was Monkey Island 3. Back in early 1993, I red a magazine where they announced Monkey Island 3: May The Monkey Be With You, an adventure game where Guybrush for some reason is in space, full of reference about Star Wars. Little did I know that was an april's fool and I waited for its release for years, until the first images of the actual third monkey Island were released.
Planetfall 2 - Floyds next thing from Infocom. Started several times and scheduled for 1995, but never came to live :-(
Damn, and it had really a promising funny trailer.

I was a huge fan of the Stargate SG1 series and thought that it would make a fantastic computer game possibly as a first person squad based shooter or even as a tactical strategy where you took planets from the Goa'uold (or however you spell it)..
Imagine my delight when I saw the screenshots being released of the the alien mothership hanging in the clouds above a forest planet with the Stargate in the foreground, and learnt that the people responsible were the same as those behind SpellForce, the game I was at that time playing and loving for its open feel.

Imagine how cool it would be to be able to start off in Stargate command under Cheyenne Mountain and then walk through the gate on to other worlds as exactly the same as how the engine behind SpellForce allowed it. The Rumour Mill indicated that actors from the series had learnt their faces and voices as well so you could actually play as O'Neill and the team!

Then my Delight slowly turned to horror as I found that the project which I had just learnt about was in disarray as the publisher had disagreements with the rights holders and eventually the whole project, despite looking fantastic and being close to release had been cancelled.

To this day I still cannot figure out how something which looks so good and was so close could be whipped away from us and dropped for all time.

I later experienced a similar thing with tabula rasa. The people that pulled that are gits and should never be allowed to publish another game again. So many people bought into it and so many people looked forward to it. Luckily I had not jumped in with both feet into that project so I wasn't burnt but was gutted when I learnt that it had been killed before I could even play it. But although so I was upset I couldn't play tabula rasa, that pales in significance to how got punched I felt learning that the Stargate game which I long so badly to play would never be a thing.
I would have liked to see many of the games already mentioned, but the one that most prominently stands out is Warcraft Adventures.

I can't recall when I first heard about it, but I think it was a bit into the 2000's when it had already been off the table for a few years. At the time I was very much into Warcraft lore, gobbing up every bit of information I could find, and was looking forward to World of Warcraft and being able to wander around in the world.
nww02: Stargate:SG1

I was a huge fan of the Stargate SG1 series and thought that it would make a fantastic computer game possibly as a first person squad based shooter or even as a tactical strategy where you took planets from the Goa'uold (or however you spell it)..
Les goûts et les couleurs...
Stargate SG1 should be an adventure(-like) game! Stargate: The Movie would be perfect for an action game...

Oh, and Stargate:Origins never happened!
Amen: The Awakening. I remember reading previews for it and it sounded amazing. The scope was incredible. Unfortunately it was just too ambitious and that was its ultimate downfall.
My biggest disappointment was probably Sam & Max: Freelance Police, because it combined so many reasons to be frustrated into just one unexpected and harsh announcement.

There was, of course, the disappointment that I wouldn't get to play the sequel to one of my first adventure games, and one to this day considered a favourite by so many people. It was such a surprise to hear that the series would be continued after so many years, and everything that was reported about the game sounded amazing.

It was made worse by the fact that the game was so close to being done, the cancellation having been announced just months ahead of the planned release. The team working on the game had invested so much, and so did LucasArts, only to then curtly decide that the market situation doesn't look good for a point & click adventure, so they'd rather throw everything they'd done in the trash rather than go the last mile, release it, and try to recoup as much of the investment as possible.

Also, that decision was based on information so obviously flawed that it felt even more unnecessary. They apparently thought that Europeans don't care about adventure games anymore, which, while it certainly dropped in importance, was never true. The adventures market has been chugging along on a reduced, but stable and healthy level before, during, and for a long time after the Freelance Police project and cancellation.

Besides, what happened to creating new markets and demands? LucasArts making a new, great adventure game on par with their classics, surely would've alone had the chance to reinvigorate the adventure market. How did these studio managers suddenly lose every last bit of self-confidence in their company, and decide that they had no chance of making an impact in the market at large?

In that, it was another factor of the disappointment. Because although the writing had been on the wall for many years, this was finally the moment for me where I had to completely write off LucasArts as a creative force in the industry, and bury any hope that they'd ever release anything influential again. From that moment on, it was obvious that they were only going to play it safe and try to milk the Star Wars franchise for all they could. The death of LucasArts surely happened slowly and in many phases, but for me that was the moment where I was sure they'd never be the likeable and innovative studio that they were. Some years after the spirit of Sierra had already been killed by Vivendi, that was a very pessimistic time for fans of story-driven single-player games.

Also, it was sad to read all the comments by the people involved in the development, because they confirmed that the decision to cancel this game was based purely on strategic factors, probably made by some office sitter too far removed from the world of games, and their players. This was not a case of a game cancelled because of quality concerns or problems in development. It was a great game, and it was on track for a timely release. It died only because of mismanagement.
Definitely Wild West RPG from Bohemia Interactive. Not much is known about the game, we don't even know its final name, though it was developed/prototyped around the same time as Operation Flashpoint 2 set in Vietnam (also cancelled).

While Arma series and its mods are more than adequate replacement of OFP2, there are very few games, if any, that could be described as a Flashpoint-like game in a Wild West setting. And it was supposed to be "Flashpoint in Western", according to various sources (official blog of the studio and interview, among others).

If we consider the fact that Operation Flashpoint was known for its authentic gameplay and huge open worlds, and if we add RPG elements and Wild West setting to it, it's not hard to imagine something like Red Dead Redemption 2. So if the game saw the light of the day, we could have had authentic, open-world Western game years before RDR2. Probably with significant mod support as well, considering Bohemia's history.

I always liked the idea of Wild West RPG from Czech developers because the culture in former Czechoslovakia was always heavily influenced by Westerns. After all, it was one of the rare pieces of (literally) western entertainment that could cross the Iron Curtain without much issues. Many Western movies from Hollywood, Italy or West Germany (Vinnetou being probably the most prominent) created an ilusion of idealistic, romantic Wild West, which is of course nothing like how it was in real life, someting the developers apparently found out the hard way during their research. I believe this conflict of romantic ideas about Wild West with actual, unpleasant history could result in a really interesting and unique setting and style of the game.

But in the end, all that's left are pieces of information around the internet and mostly unsubstantiated thoughts about how the game could have looked every time I see Vinnetou on TV or some Western mod in Arma. Even though I know that a horse or Old Shatterhand's canoe will never be as powerful as T-72 tank (don't let Call of Duty tell you otherwise) or an attack helicopter, the idea of "Flashpoint in Western" will always seem like a great idea to me.
Post edited June 14, 2020 by DarthCvrnda
i really would loved to see the development continue of the game S.T.A.L.K.K.E.R 2, but the game was and has been cancelled many times. The community were told that they would continue keep it in mind.This has been in discussion many times since 2010 where i last heard, this year a possible release for 2021 being created using unreal 4 engine and i have not heard much since. I loved the original games especially the first i liked atmosphere the story and the gameplay which was immersive and rewarding.. in its original state the game did well and i know the game was missing much of what the developers intended to leave in where it was a very ambitious project, but, it was in production for six years by that point.

For its time S.T.A.L.K.E.R games were great and have enjoyed them many times over, however they are showing their age even with mods that are still keeping the games alive.

all good things come to those who wait and here's hoping for S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2 in the near future
Post edited June 14, 2020 by spacehulk
Star wars: Knights of the old Republic 3

I know they released the MMO but the best mutimedia told story in the star wars universe needed a proper conclusion, especially since they released a book that butchered Revan's story, removing his agency.