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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.
LordDragon: For me it's The Wolf Among us 2. After enjoying the first season I really looked forward a next game in this universe, based on the comics. I know the TellTale games all had the same mechanics and look, but I love this fairytale-comic-universe. After the closing of the studio The Wolf Among us 2 were cancelled, and so also my hopes for a continuation of this Franchise with the great writing of the first game.

The purchase of their name and some of their intellectual property rights creat a little chance again, hope they not only want to make money and instead have visions for new telltale-like games.
The Wolf Among Us 2 is in development again. It was announced last December:
The Lost Vale, the expansion to Ultima 8: Pagan. While Ultima 8 had something of a mixed reception - with long-time Ultima fans disappointed that it lacked things that they had come to expect from the series (notably, controlling a party as opposed to just a single character) - it was amazing when viewed in its own right, with its lovely animations, detailed setting and characters, and intricate magic system closely tied to the story. When I played the game as a child it had me hooked like no other game before it.

An odd thing about the were mentions of things that seemed to have a lot of narrative weight but were barely explored in practice as the game progressed - in particular, and entire civilisation that had been displaced by the world's current inhabitants after they refused to accept and worship the new Titans that appeared. Was there really nothing left of them aside from that one little tomb, and if so why does the lore make such a big fuss about them? And what's with that huge door in the plateau that has no key?

As it turns out that was the major focus of an expansion that was planned for the game right from the very beginning, but was cancelled about half a year after the game's release. The especially frustrating thing about this cancellation is that IT WAS ALREADY COMPLETED! The whole thing had been developed, tested and sent to production. Even the box art was done (a surviving box - that sadly never contained a CD - was later auctioned for $1,923). My heart goes out to those developers, designers and artists who worked all those months on something that, like the city of Tenebrae, never saw the light of day.
Post edited June 14, 2020 by Barefoot_Monkey
Legacy of Kain: the Dark Prophecy.

One of the cancelled sequels to my beloved and long dormant game franchise. Only 3 to 6 months of work were done on the project before cancellation, but what was revealed looked promising and respectful towards previous entries in the series. Even though the game was outsourced to Ritual Entertainment, Crystal Dynamics employees who worked on earlier games still provided their feedback (and shut down some questionable ideas). It's hard to say how the game would have turned out, but the revealed content still makes me think that it would have been a good game.

What makes me like this one more than the more well-known cancelled game in the series - Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, is the direction the team took. They actually embraced the story, artistic design and setting of the franchise, unlike Climax Studios which tried to distance itself as far away as possible with Dead Sun (and ridiculed fans who were not happy with their design decisions). Dead Sun may have turned out to be a great game, but it should have never been a Legacy of Kain title.

We will probably never get another Legacy of Kain game. Rather ironic, since the last word spoken in the series is 'hope'. It's not often that you see such a dedicated fanbase for a series that didn't have a proper entry in 15 years.
Post edited June 15, 2020 by Paradoks
I was really disappointed when Blizzard pulled the plug on StarCraft Ghost. I always loved experiments! Especially, those where a game debuted and became established initially in one genre and later was transformed (temporarily or permanently) into something else and was presented to players from a different perspective (e.g. WarCraft that was turned into World of Warcraft and later into Hearthstone, as well as partially into Heroes of the Storm). Shooter games based on real-time strategies or real-time tactics do represent one of such interesting experiments. In addition, StarCraft Ghost was special because of the interesting protagonist, as well as the unique StarCraft universe. If one attempts to turn almost any realistic strategy game into shooter they will most likely get something like Battlefield or Call of Duty and it is not that interesting. But another perspective on StarCraft universe was and I think is still relevant to this day!
My Top 3 list of cancelled games would be Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, StarCraft: Ghost and the Shogo expansion sets.

The crown goes to Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans.
Back then I simply could not believe how on Earth Blizzard pulled the plug on such a gem. It must have been 1998 when my infatuation with the title began. I was a 12-13 year old kid and one day I found myself struggling to install StarCraft on a PC at my father’s office. If you were living in Eastern Europe at the time, it was quite a luxury to own an up-to-date computer at home and/or the latest software. I had borrowed the StarCraft CD from a friend and was contemplating to finally play the game everyone was talking about. However, I failed to finish the installation. Why? Because of our Eastern European cats - terrifying beasts of voracious appetite that somehow always managed to devour the game manuals, card boxes and obliterate the CD key.
Terribly disappointed, I had a whole day to do nothing but sit and wait. Then I started exploring the contents of the CD and came upon the StarCraft intro and the trailer for Warcraft Adventures. Must have seen them a hundred times, could barely think about anything else at the time and I was convinced the point and click quest will make such a great addition to the Warcraft series. At that age I was still fond of cartoons and kept dreaming how playing with an interactive, “living” cartoon would look like. Alas, Blizzard did not deliver…

Actually, when I first saw the classic Diablo and Warcraft titles appear on GOG, I thought about writing GOG an e-mail with a plea to contact Blizzard and release the semi-finished Warcraft: Adventures game, as it had already leaked on YouTube.
When one thinks about C&C series it is easy to name many games that weren't. All cancelled titles were interesting for a variety of reasons. Thus, it is too hard to choose "the one". Nonetheless, I probably would choose C&C Generals 2. I was really disappointed when they have cancelled it not because I liked the "generals" universe (in fact, out of all three C&C universes the "generals" universe is the least interesting universe to me), but because it was the last straw for C&C games. There was always a hope that if C&C Generals 2 was successful they could continue doing other C&C games... A faint hope but still... When C&C Generals 2 died they did stop making new real C&C games altogether. No more real-time strategies, no more shooters... And the hope that someday we will see how GDI and NOD continue battling each other, as well as Scrin on Earth and beyond... on other worlds... died with it!
Everything was probably said already, including these 2, but I'm gonna go with Starcraft: Ghost and Warcraft Adventures. They're the first I remember following and I was actually disappointed with both of them being cancelled :(
System Shock 3.

It may not be utterly lost, but with the limited licence takeover by Tencent, what will come of it is anyone's guess. Mobile game? Live service? Nothing at all?

Here's hoping that Terri Brosius (SHODANs voice) is still alive once production gets underway Pun sort of intended. In spite of being Portal-derived.

Oh, well.
Thank you everyone for your great answers!

We have picked the three winners. =)

Congratulations Daedalus1138, Breja and Wiffer!
Post edited June 26, 2020 by SmollestLight