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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.
Not in!
I just want to reminisce about dead games and could have been ones.

Freelancer 2:

While Galaxy on Fire came close to scratching the same itch, it was way too short and felt on rails.
It wasn't until Starpoint Gemini 3 was announced that a similar feeling could be had.

Anachronox trilogy/expansion:

"This title is a very unique game in many ways. The combination of jRPG style turn-based combat, extraordinary characters with their own personalities, an epic and brilliantly told story, colorful graphics, and absolutely hilarious humor is something very rare. You will travel through galaxies, explore bizarre planets, and journey through space and time."
I'll let the store-page speak for itself. Though you don't miss out on anything in the game, the story was expected to come in three parts and was left on a cliffhanger in that regard. Sadly.

Project Unbended:

An homage to the Sacred series, intended to replace the abysmal third entry.

The real Fallout 3:
Post edited June 04, 2020 by Vendor-Lazarus
Stars! Supernova Genesis (!_Supernova_Genesis)
by Mare Crisium Studios.

The original Stars! ( is to me what Masters of Orion is to others, the space strategy game of choice. It is minimalistic with graphics and sounds but that didn't matter, well you didn't think it mattered until they unveiled Stars! Supernova Genesis it had colourful graphics and looked more like the MoO games (which I wasn't fond of). But this was the next Stars! game it was going to be great!...

Except no publisher would fund the game and the developers eventually ran out of money. Today with Kickstarter et al, no funding from a publisher wouldn't be a project killer, but in 2000 they didn't exist. And neither does this game.
That the original Baldur's Gate III and Fallout 3 never materialized was hugely disappointing, but for me the fall of Sierra and the disappearance of multiple beloved adventure series (with cancellations like Space Quest VII and King's Quest IX) hurt more, and still sting to this day.
Arcanum 2 -Journey To The Centre Of Arcanum

The sequel to Arcanum - Of Steamworks & Magicka. It was to use the Source engine, but was killed in the egg by Sierra.
Arcanum was simutalneously wildly ambitious, both in its worldbuilding and character building (few RPG -or even action games - allow you such variety in playing styles) and its atmosphere, which contrasted the excitement of new inventions with the melancholy of a vanishing past).
Post edited June 04, 2020 by Dalswyn
The one thing I waited for and never got? Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge.

Even if we do have Phoenix Point now resurrecting a lot of its ideas, it's still not quite the same.
For me it was Privateer 3. I spent my teenage years with Origin space sims, which were for me the pinnacle of storytelling in gaming, and I loved every single game I played, the conflict of humans and felines was breathtaking. I was rooting so much for the announced sequel, but after AE cancelled Origin, and with it my favourite franchises, which brought up so much disappointment to me, that I have compeltely stopped to purchase any EA games released after Wing Commander Prophecy :(
Post edited June 04, 2020 by MMLN
My pick would be Rise of Nations 2.

We have very little knowledge of what could have been, just a few mockup / art concept pictures by artist Ted Terranova (who had worked in the original), but they are enough to stir my imagination:

The first Rise of Nations did a great job at simulating the feeling of building an empire while keeping the pace of a real-time strategy game (basically Civilization meets Age of Empires). However, while being immensely enjoyable, it lacked a little in the visual department. If what these mockups showed had become real, the sequel could have been a great graphical improvement, with detailed buildings, cliffs, bridges, trains, realistic water and more camera control in a fully 3D environment. It also hinted at new gameplay features that the the original missed, such as the ability to build walls and gates, placing units on such walls, more uses for rivers, and expanding trade routes with railroads.

Of course, not everything that was present in this concept art would have necessarily made it to the final game, but hopefully many new features would have, and it certainly looks beautiful. If just three pictures were enough to made me dream, I can only begin to imagine what a full game could have been. I'm still crossing my fingers, wishing the franchise is resurrected sooner or later.
Post edited June 04, 2020 by ConsulCaesar
Well, does Half Life 3 counts?
Before I start, I want to thank GOG for collecting and releasing DRM-Free games, so I can enjoy them like I used to back when I was a kid :)

I have 3 games, which I always wanted to be released:
#1 Starcraft Ghost: No surprise here. I wanted to play a Space ninja sniper (aka Ghost) and I think almost everyone wanted to. I grew-up with SC1 and have been a fan of Blizzard games as long as I had a PC.
#2 C&C: Renegade 2 - Really enjoyed the 1st game, and the C&C Franchise as a whole. The game would've tied the timelines between the Tiberium and RA games. Here's to hoping that Renegade gets released on GOG :)
#3 East vs. West - It was a canceled Paradox grand strategy game set in the Cold War. I am a huge fan of the HOI & DH games, and I've played them to no end :D The system would've been more realistic in terms of arming your forces and there would've been more diplomacy involved.
Dalswyn: Arcanum 2 -Journey To The Centre Of Arcanum
First time I hear about this. Anyways, if Arcanum was ever to get a sequel it would better be a buggy masterpiece. xD

As my personal pick. I would go with WarCraft 4.
It was never announced (as far as I know) but the moment WarCraft series went WoW it just died for the true fans of the series.
Even if WarCraft 4 happens one day the story will probably be too messed up with all that happened in WoW universe (don't know but presume). And with the latest WarCraft 3 remaster fiasco, Blizzard wouldn't risk the situation getting any worse (if possible).
Back in the 1980s I was a ZX Spectrum owner, and one of my all-time favourite games on that 8-bit platform was the graphic adventure game, Tir na Nog, published by Gargoyle Games. The name of the game meant "Land of Youth" in Gaelic, and as well as being a deep and involving adventure game with an extensive and highly explorable map, the game was graphically stunning. It featured an absolutely huge walking hero graphic as the central character: he stood about a quarter of the screen high and featured 64 frames of animation in his walk. Nothing had been done like this before, graphically, and it was the best animation ever seen at the time. So the game was atmospheric and involving, and it was graphically stunning too, given the capabilities of the hardware at the time, which made it all the more immersive.

An excellent sequel appeared, called Dun Darach, and then a third game called Marsport was launched in exactly the same style, but now with a sci-fi rather than a mythological setting. Marsport was the first game in a "Siege of Earth" trilogy, and was due to be followed by two sequels: Fornax and Gath.

So, this is where all the wishful thinking starts. Marsport (like Tir na Nog and Dun Darach before it) was a wonderfully produced and engaging adventure. All of Gargoyle's productions were extremely high quality. It's a great shame that only the first part of the trilogy ever appeared.

Then, a few years later, there was exciting news that Gargoyle was going to create a new, updated version of Tir na Nog for modern computers (PC and perhaps other platforms) with photo-realistic graphics. A few mock-up static screenshots were released; enough to show that the graphics would be more like full-motion video, but not enough to give a clear impression of what they'd really be like. Given how fantastic the original graphics were on the Spectrum, though, the prospect was exciting. However, unfortunately, after this initial teaser, everything went quiet and nothing was heard of this Tir na Nog reboot ever again.

It's rare for a successful 8-bit game to be reborn with similar success on modern machines, though it does happen occasionally (Elite and Elite Dangerous, for example). Tir na Nog could possibly have been another example, but it seems we'll never know.

So I have two regrets:

1. I would very much have liked to see Fornax and Gath, the two Marsport sequels, released on the Spectrum.

2. I would love to have seen the new modern remake of Tir na Nog appear, on PC and/or other modern platforms.

The games published by Gargoyle were all top quality, so knowing of unfinished/unreleased members of fondly remembered series is quite frustrating.
It would have to be Half-Life 3!
Looks like an interesting read. I'll gladly try to win a copy, and talk at lenght about

Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans.

Back then I was still a huge Warcraft fan. I still sort of am, but what the franchise became after Frozen Throne means there's a lot of caveats to that. But back in the 90s Warcraft was quite something for me, even though I was never very good at it. I never was a master of real-time strategies, and in the 90s, as I was still a kid, it could get way to hard for me in the later levels. But I still loved Warcraft, especially Warcraft II. I loved Lord of the Rings and subsequently all things fantasy since I was little, and Warcraft was like a big virtual fantasy toy chest for me. The idea of exploring the world from a different, more personal perspective was big deal.

I remember seeing first screens from it in gaming magazines and beign excited as hell, even though my relationship with point & click adventures was sort of a love-hate thing then. I loved The Secret of Monkey Island, but often the absurd, impossible puzzles ruined many other titles for me. But I knew I'd have fun with a Warcraft adventure even if I had to play it with a walkthrough in hand all the time. I mean, it had it all right? You could see the units and buildings from Warcraft II (a game I think still looks beautiful today), but this time as actual people and places, not just nameless objects you build again and again. And it had Clancy Brown as the main character! The Kurgan! I could go on a whole separate tirade on how much I love Highlander and everyone and everything in it, but that would take all day. Suffice to say, The Kurgan as an Orc warrior in the world of Warcraft (a phrase not yet then loaded with meaning of its own) was more than enough to sell me on the game a dozen times over.

And then it never happened. It was so close, and it just... vanished. Because ugly, blocky 3D with bad controls was declared the new standard, and a nice 2D point & click was behind the times. I could not be more disappointed.

Of course, eventually, years and years later we did get to play the almost-finished product when it leaked in 2016. And I'm glad it happened. It provided some closure and a fascinating look into what might have been. But 18 years after the fact, with my love for Warcraft much cooler and many better 2D point & clicks around (the supposedly dead genre having returned triumphant) it was not nearly as exciting as it woul have been in 98'. I still had fun with it, despite the unfinished state and everything, but it was sort of a... ghost of fun, wandering a ghost of world of Warcraft that might have been.
Post edited June 04, 2020 by Breja
Has to be Babylon 5 - Into The Fire all the way.
Oh how I miss the days of Sierra and LucasArts. King's Quest and Space Quest are beautiful games and I would have loved to seen them continue. You've made me sad again.

brucethebruce: That the original Baldur's Gate III and Fallout 3 never materialized was hugely disappointing, but for me the fall of Sierra and the disappearance of multiple beloved adventure series (with cancellations like Space Quest VII and King's Quest IX) hurt more, and still sting to this day.