15 Promising Game Titles That Died During Development

15 game titles that dies during development, Van Buren, Dungeon Keeper 3, Starcraft Ghost
Darth Maul, the next installment in the Star Wars series of games would have put you in the shoes of its iconic villain.

Some of the Best Games Out There Aren’t Really Out There

Many epic game titles have attracted a lot of support during their concept phase but because some of them tend to set the bar too high for themselves, they are doomed to either foreclosure or development limbo. Development limbo, a sort of digital graveyard for unfinished titles, is where promising titles go when the companies that started them, bite off more than they can chew. There are many reasons as to why this happens, and the following list of games are just a few examples of an unfortunate development cycle that never reached fruition.

Be it because of financial issues, company downsizing or simply as a last attempt to pull their companies out of the gutter, the following games never made the final cut. So here’s a list of 15 games which had awesome concepts and a lot of hype, but never made it to the market.

15. Baldur’s Gate III: The Black Hound (2002 - 2003)

Baldur’s Gate I and Baldur’s Gate II, the sequels that set the bar for all future RPG titles also had a highly anticipated third game in the works, until its unfortunate cancellation in 2003 as the company developing them, Black Isle Studios, went under. The game would have shifted from previous games in the series by adopting D&D 3rd edition rules (instead of 2nd edition rules and would have an emphasis on multiplayer, just like Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights. 

The game’s engine started as an adopted version of Bioware’s Aurora engine but eventually, the developers created one specifically for BG 3 named the Jefferson Engine, the same engine used by another of their unreleased titles - Van Buren (more about this at the end of the article). The game’s emphasis was apparently on its highly reactive world, based in the D&D setting, the Dalelands. There was a strong emphasis on player choice-and-consequence, where even failed quests could alter the story line.

The game also supposedly had a complex morals system in place, where the player’s alignment and reputation would shift based on his decisions, much like Black Isle’s most acclaimed title, Planescape Torment. But as Black Isle went under because of financial issues, so did BG 3. Hopefully some other company may pick up where they left off and give us a BG 3 that we all wished for. Obsidian Entertainment perhaps?

The game’s motto was: “You cannot kill guilt.”


Early concept art from the game presumably featuring one of the explorable levels in the game.

14. Prey 2 (2006 - 2014)

Prey 2 Trailer

Prey, a game developed by Human Head Studios and published by 2K Studios, was an innovative shooter from 2006 that took elements from many different shooters and combined them in a unique style of FPS. The game truly broke new ground with its awesome graphics and gameplay elements that were truly unique, among the myriad of first-person shooters that came out that year. As soon as the game came out in 2006, development had already begun on a sequel, which, after the critical acclaim of the first one, was pretty much a done deal, with Bethesda being the official publisher of the sequel. The second game in the series would take the game in an entirely different direction from the first one, becoming more of a spiritual successor rather than a true sequel.

Players would have been able to freely traverse an alien world, using parkour similar to Mirror’s Edge, finding targets to prey upon, using a variety of techniques. A few examples of these were taking aliens hostage, letting them negotiate for their lives (which would give the player a different target), interrogating them for information and more. The game also featured tons of crazy weapons and gadgets as did the first one and these would give the player a great amount of freedom on how to complete the game.
Unfortunately, the game was canceled in 2014, with no specific reason as to why. Rumors had it that a conflict broke out between the developer and the publisher which ushered in its foreclosure. Thankfully, Bethesda did release a remake of the first one simply titled, Prey, which is available for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Taking aliens hostage and manipulating them, was only one of the game’s many features.

The game featured a beautiful, bizarre, alien open-world.

13. Project Titan (2007 - 2013) 

One of Blizzard’s most ambitious and most secretive projects, was their unreleased next-gen MMO, Project Titan. The game was supposedly set in a sci-fi version of earth, just after an alien invasion failed to conquer it. Players could choose one of three secret factions battling for earth. What made this concept stand out, was that players would engage in combat with their enemy factions at night, and spend pursuing their non-combat, professions at day (such as engineer, crafter, or others).

The initial playable maps featured zones in the US, Europe, Australia and South America and players could choose from several classes (such as Reaper, Jumper, Titan, etc.) all with their unique style of play. Although the game was officially canceled in 2013, this wasn’t truly the case. Fortunately, many of Titan’s features found home in Blizzard’s successful title in recent years, Overwatch. So if you want to experience just a little bit of what Titan could have been, (at least combat-wise) go check out Overwatch.

One of Titan’s early concept arts, giving a glimpse into the world that players could explore.

12. Fable Legends (2013 - 2016)

Fable Legends - E3 2015 Trailer

On of the trademarks of the Fable series of action RPGs was the immense reactivity of their game world. The decisions you made and the characters that you influenced during the course of the game affected, among other things, your appearance, the fate of the characters you encounter and even changes to the areas you visit based on your actions.
Fable Legends’ early development focused more on the multiplayer concept of the game before expanding on its single-player component.

The game’s multiplayer aspect adopted a more RTS-like camera, pitting the players against each other in quests that would be fought between several Heroes and one Villain. The nature of the quests that the players would embark on would be determined by the Villain who would control the monsters, set up traps and more. Heroes would then embark through these quests trying to beat the Villain and his machinations. The single-player aspect of the game had the same feature planned, with the AI taking control of these roles, and would also feature a narrative-heavy campaign, but sadly, the game was canceled in 2016 before more details were known about its single-player aspect.

The classes featured were (from left to right) the Rogue, the Archer, the Magician and the Warrior.

The Villain could plan the levels by placing various traps using an RTS-like view.

11. Scalebound (2013-2017)

Scalebound Gameplay (E3 2016)

Scalebound was one of those promising genre-merging titles that would bring something new to the table in a dramatically epic fashion. The third-person action RPG was centered on a main character, Drew, who was accompanied by a dragon companion named Thuban as they battled through hordes of enemies on a fantasy world known as Draconis - a giant, ever-growing mushroom whose pulse gives life to all living things. The game featured singleplayer four-player cooperative multiplayer options with several players being able to explore Draconis in an open-world manner.

The players could take control of draconic powers, would have a ton of customization options and could also eventually soar through the skies riding their dragon companion.
Developed by Japanese developer Platinum Games and published by Microsoft Studios, the game looked extremely promising, until its eventual cancellation in 2017. Apparently the developer had a huge creative clash with the publisher, both of which wanted to steer the game their way. The game also suffered from severe optimization issues, all of which contributed to the game’s closure.

Scalebound was one of those rare games that featured a dragon companion.


The game world had a gorgeous design.

10. Jumpgate Evolution (? - 2012)

Jumpgate Evolution Enter the Fray Trailer

As with many other open-space game MMOs, Jumpgate Evolution was in development for a long time before it vanished from existence. 
The game featured space-combat similar to Freelancer with the player playing from a third-person perspective. The game featured several playable factions, which were picked at the beginning of the game. It offered several ship roles that weren’t limited to your player class and an XP based advancement system that players would use to improve their characters. 

The game also featured PvE and PvP gameplay, including realm vs. realm battles where entire servers could compete against each other to control a certain space sector.
No one truly knows why development has stopped any why the game is currently in development limbo, but the developer’s website offers no news on the game and has been shut down since 2012, leading us to believe that the game was surely canceled.

Jumpgate Evolution aimed for epic gameplay, involving huge stations and ships.


The game featured a myriad of ship classes.

9. Nosgoth (2013 - 2016)

Nosgoth Open Beta Launch Trailer 

Nosgoth was a free-to-play, third-person action game set in the world of the cult-favorite Legacy of Kain series. In it, players would take the side of either humans or vampires, pitted against each other in fast paced multiplayer matches. The humans would have conventional weapons to use, while the vampires could use supernatural abilities to counter them. The game was pretty innovative in what it delivered gameplay-wise, offering players completely different playstyles based on the class they chose of which about four or five were available for each side.

If more gameplay modes were introduced, instead of just the standard team deathmatch and if the game’s developer could offer better marketing and exposure for the game, it might have become one of the great F2P titles out there. The game however, had a strange free-to-play model coupled with the game’s inability to attract a bigger crowd and went into closure in just a few years. 

Crafty humans versus supernatural vampires seemed like an interesting game aspect.


The vampires could utilize brutal finishing moves on their opponents which were viscerally satisfying.

 

8. Stargate Worlds (2006 - 2012)

Stargate Worlds trailer

Not having a game based on the vast universe of the Stargate series, was almost a crime, until Stargate Worlds was announced. The MMORPG would feature many worlds to explore, inhabiting a lot of the different races in the unique setting. The game would utilize the features of the Unreal 3 game engine and the developers were in close contact with one of the show’s directors.

Unfortunately, because of funding and copyright issues, the game never released and their servers shut down in 2012.

The game also featured the appearance of the series’ most iconic team, SG-1.


Many of the series’ races would also appear in the game, such as the Goa’uld.

7. Ultima X: Odyssey (? - 2004)

Ultima X Odyssey gameplay

One of the proposed sequels to one of the first MMORPGs in existence, Ultima Online, never saw the light of day. Taking the next step and moving the series to a full 3D engine and offering advanced gameplay features and abandoning the traditional “click to auto-attack” MMO mechanics of other games in the genre. The game wanted to utilize the gameplay aspects that were previously only in the single-player games of the series (such as Ultima IX) and would combine them with the MMO aspect of Ultima Online. 

The idea was good, but too advanced for its time. Unfortunately, most of the fanbase was playing Ultima Online at the time and the new title obviously didn’t stick. The company instead decided to move the entire team to the Ultima Online project.

The game utilized the Unreal engine to provide a truly unique and beautiful setting (for its time).

The game would have no shortage of unique characters and monsters.

6. Fallout Online (2006 - 2009)

Following the sale of the Fallout franchise from Interplay to Bethesda, Interplay still wondered if it could develop a Fallout MMO, despite losing any legal rights to the game. 
The mapped game world would span approximately 65,650 miles over a multitude of connected maps. It would feature different races with different starting locations and initial storylines for each one. Nothing much is known about the game mechanics but apparently Interplay had all of them as well as all of the maps already in the game.

While Interplay had secured a license for a Fallout MMO from Bethesda, the terms on how this game would go into production was entirely up to Bethesda, who gave Interplay a strict timeline in which they have to make the game playable. As Interplay was falling apart a little after that, so did all of their game titles. And so ended the development of Fallout online. Becasue of unmet deadlines and financial bankruptcy, it is now in the hands of Bethesda if they ever wish to develop a Fallout MMO. 

However the good news is there is another Fallout Online out there, made by fans that uses the same name. It uses a modified Fallout 2 engine and is currently the closest thing we have to a Fallout MMO.

It would have been an interesting world to explore with your friends...

 

5. World of Darkness (2008 - 2014)

World of Darkness - 2010 Animatic Trailer

Following the cult success of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines, White Wolf Publishing (the creators of the game), decided for a merger with CCP (Eve Online) to produce an MMORPG in their dark setting. Development started in 2008 and the game would be focused on player politics and social interaction. Another focus was on movement and motion in an attempt to capture the feeling of what it’s like to be a vampire dubbing it a “vampire simulator”. 

Whatever the game would eventually look like is a mystery as very little was known about the game itself, except for a trailer released in early development and some game footage. No matter what it would look like, it would have been interesting to see how the lore of the game fits into an MMO setting. After the downsizing of CCP’s staff however, the game never became reality, being officially canceled in 2014.

The game looks like it would have captured the franchise’s dark and gritty setting.


The clans would apparently also have a lot of their clan powers at their disposal.

 

4. Everquest Next (2012 - 2016)

EverQuest Next Worldwide Debut Gameplay Footage

One of the most hyped games of the past few years, Everquest Next could have been the next WoW if it was developed to its full potential. The game promised a return to the original Everquest style of gameplay, while offering all of the features that current MMORPGs have and more. The game featured fully destructible environments, a bunch of different classes, a combat system that was based on positioning and skill rather that button mashing and reactive quests that would change the landscape and NPCs around them based on how the players resolved them.

What went wrong with the title is unclear as it got an abrupt cancellation in 2016 which not many saw coming.


Many of the game’s classes would have been fused together and there were also a few new races.

The game engine looked very unique and featured a beautiful setting.

 

3. Starcraft Ghost (2002 - 2006)

StarCraft: Ghost – Gameplay Compilation (2004)

Just like Westwood did with their first-person adaptation of the C&C franchise, so did Blizzard try to make a third-person stealth game in the Starcraft universe. The players would play Nova, the game’s protagonist through a campaign set in the Koprulu sector of the Starcraft world. The game would feature stealth mechanics such as silent takedowns , sniping enemies from afar and using Nova’s highly advanced suit, to cloak herself in the face of danger.

It also featured a complex combat system in case stealth was not an option and several vehicle combat and a multiplayer mode similar to C&C Renegade. But as development was taking longer than expected, and with the coming of PS3 and Xbox 360 around 2006, Blizzard canceled the game as it would apparently taken too much effort to port it to next gen consoles.

The Ultralisk would have been a terrifying enemy.

Stepping into the footsteps of a mere foot soldier in Starcraft looked pretty intense.

2. Dungeon Keeper 3 (1999 - 2000)

Dungeon Keeper 3 Trailer

Dungeon Keeper 2 was a fantastic game in its own right. It blended genres almost seamlessly, but it was also mired with technical issues which kept it from being a massive success. At the day of its release, the game featured a short game trailer which foretold that we would take our hellish minions and move on to the surface where we would do battle with the goodly heroes of the surface realm.

The title died almost immediately after being announced as Bullfrog Productions started developing titles for the PS2. No matter what awaited us in the official vision of the series, thankfully a spiritual sequel was developed and released named War for the Overworld which could reasonably be called a sequel to the franchise.

We have no idea what DK3 would have looked like, but it would probably have the same wacky style.

1. Van Buren

Fallout 3 / Van Buren tech demo | Cancelled PC Game

Before Fallout 3 was officially released by Bethesda, there was another Fallout 3 title in development by the original creators, Black Isle Studios, named Van Buren. 
Following the critically acclaimed Fallout 1 and Fallout 2, Interplay decided to develop a third title, which would feature a full 3D engine featuring detailed maps of the post-apocalyptic setting of the California wasteland.

The game’s gameplay mechanics would have followed the same formula of the previous games while fusing several character skills together and providing a slightly more streamlined experience without compromising complexity. The game would also have a lot of focus on player interaction and choice-and-consequence would be an important part.
The game was canceled in 2003 because of several key employees of Black Isle being laid off, in the last few years of the company. A tech demo was eventually leaked on the internet at some point which looked fairly impressive and we can only dream how the fully released title would look like.

The game captured the “beauty” of the wasteland the same way that the previous Fallouts did.


The turn-based combat was a direct continuation of the old Fallouts.

 

Like this article? Check these out as well: 
Fallout Series: A Look At How The Game Has Evolved 
The 30 Best MMORPGs To Play on PC in 2017 
The 5 Best RPG Makers in the World 
10 Differences Between Single-Player RPGs and MMORPGs

 

Ever since infecting my Dad's old 486, because I wanted to play Prince of Persia, I've been on the hunt to play good games, no matter the cost.
Gamer Since: 1994
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Atlas Reactor
Top 3 Favorite Games:The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Baldur's Gate, Darksiders II
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