Waypoint Weeklies: Vaporware

In about a week, Metroid Dread, a game that had pretty much been considered dead for well over a decade, will be released. This came as a shock, as many Metroid fans (myself included) considered it to be vaporware: a game which was in development but disappeared before ever being released.

The nature of game development is often so chaotic and so difficult that projects will often be deep into development, but still end up never releasing. Sometimes, these games will even be announced and shown off at expos, leaving the public with interest piqued but ultimately unsatisfied as the game vanished.

What vaporware still lingers with you? What games that never came out still tickle your imagination to this day?

The one that gets me is (old version of the series) Battlefront 3. I absolutely adore Battlefront II and still play it a few times a year with my brother or friends on the PS2. A perfect game. So that sequel (though from a different studio), rather than the direction EA took the series in, would have been really nice.

Land-to-space battles seamlessly, which EA couldn’t pull off in their first go some years later. Reading about it now, while posting this, though, sounds like it was an extremely troubled development and maybe just not feasible. I still would have like to play some version of that product - it’s a 75-90% done sequel to a game I dearly loved.

Similarly, listened to an 8-4 Play podcast a few years back with a Factor 5 guy who spoke very excitedly about Rogue Squadron 4/Wii. As a kid who only had a Wii in that generation, that game would have been amazing for me. Think it was 60 FPS and otherwise updated missions from the previous games. New controls. Would have been nice. And, apparently, was basically done and ready to go before being cancelled.

Basically: all the cancelled Star Wars games from when LucasArts started getting wobbly.

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I came into this thread having read the title as “Vaporwave” and I was getting videos queued up.

My answer has to be Left 4 Dead 3. The game was never formally announced but it existed in a development state and screenshots have leaked out on accident. Source 2’s development has been very visibly painful that at this point it would not surprise me if no full blown SDK ever comes out for it from Valve despite how many forum posts fans make. I also want to know more about Valve’s fantasy RPG just because that sounds like something they would never make so I’m curious what that design doc looked like.

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Vapourware is a very different concept in a post-Kickstarter world. For me the one that stings is the Kickstarter Unsung Story.

The game was originally intended to be yet another “spiritual successor” to Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, two games that are largely described as the pinnacle of their genre decades after their release. The difference with this one was that Yasumi Matsuno (who was involved in the writing, design and direction of FFT and TO) was intended to be involved in a writing/design capacity.

Long story short the Kickstarter was mishandled and the game never released, and from what is public it is clear the experience was very negative for Matsuno (potentially souring him on future collaborations as well). It seems likely that this was a totally squandered opportunity to get one more game out of Matsuno before he retires.

In a rare twist the debt-riddled IP has been bought by another company (Little Orbit), but their Matsuno-less reboot has been stuck in design-by-committee hell for the last 4 years. I know it’s not their fault ("'tis my birth and faith that wronged [me], not [them]"), but I get sad every time I check in on the progress they have made because I can’t really see anything in common with the games I love that had Matsuno’s involvement.

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Does Star Citizen count?

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I mean, is fantasizing about vaporware not a similar feeling as the hauntological vibes of vaporwave, in which we pine after, as Fisher writes, “lost futures”? In this essay I will

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Speaking of Kickstarter, that reminds me a bit of a Kickstarter for a game called Lioness or Lionheart Drive from Zak Ayles. It was going to be an adventure game with a two-personteam, and it smashed its funding goal. But the project went completely dark. I think people later found out the other member of the duo passed away, and Ayles didn’t want to continue the project.

However, there is a nice end to this story. The project seems to have been converted into a zine you can find on Zak Ayles’ website. It’s obviously not the same, and it’s still tragic, but I’m glad they were still able to make something after all.

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The original vision of Prey 2 is one that I’ll always be curious about. I have a bit of a fondness for the 2006 game, so a sequel would have been interesting, and the very early stuff they showed off was cool. Of course, I’m also a big fan of the 2017, Arkane version of Prey, but that’s one of those baffling cases where I don’t really know why they re-used that name.

Does Half-Life (Episode) 3 count?

Speaking of Valve and games disappearing into a development black hole, the other big one would be, I guess, Campo Santo’s unrealised follow-up to Firewatch, In the Valley of the Gods.

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Bah gawd that’s Burial’s music

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(Please bear with me as I try to make my way through these segues)

Yes, cops are bad, but…Sleeping Dogs 2 :pleading_face:

And speaking of cops with martial arts skills, I wonder what Lei Wulong is up to these days…whatever it is, I bet it’s not Tekken x Street Fighter

Heck, maybe he’s on his way to go help Blanka who’s still out there stuck somewhere in Deep Down asking for assistance

(Also, Silent Hills/PT I guess)

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Oof. Sleeping Dogs 2 hurts.

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For a long time this was Beyond Good and Evil 2 for me. At some point I realized that reality could never live up to my dream.

Then they actually revealed it. And coupled it with an exploitative scheme to harvest fan made assets. And it has now again been several years since the last sighting of it. And Michel Ancel is no longer with Ubisoft. And Ubisoft has gone through several waves of reported widespread sexual misconduct. What is there left to be excited for?

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I would love the next entry in the modern Deus Ex series. I know they’re polarizing among Deus Ex fans, but I actually think they’re quite good (if thematically/narratively imperfect), and just not that many games do the im-sim thing with such fidelity. They’re nowhere near as systemic in design as anything Arkane has built, but I really do think Eidos did a pretty good job capturing the spirit of the original Deus Ex with HR and MK–particularly when you compare them to Thief 2014 totally missing the point of Thief 1-3.

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If this thread had gone up like 6 months ago, I would have said Elden Ring :stuck_out_tongue:

My real answer is actually the first time I was burned by vaporware: the Bionicle game that was supposed to come back way back when. I loved Bionicle as a kid! They were like legos, but bigger, and posable! (Again, to reiterate what I said in the Gunpla thread, it’s truly baffling that I didn’t get into Gunpla until this year!) They had this great Bionicle adventure game that ran in flash on their website, and I played that over and over again! Eventually I saw some bitcrushed .mov that was trailer of a Bionicle game being developed for PS2 or PC or something, and it was the most excited I had ever been for a game. I scrounged together 5 bucks and made my mom take me to Best Buy or Gamestop to pre-order it as soon as I could. For months afterward I would check the IGN page every day to see if there were new screenshots or videos. Months turned to years, and that page never updated to my knowledge. I don’t think I ever went back to collect my deposit.

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I feel this one. I know there’s so much tonally that deserves criticism in the series, but I was really into the Deus Ex reboot. I particularly loved the gameplay in Human RevolutionMankind Divided. It was too short due to the plan of having DLC flesh things out – and maybe that’s the vaporware I’d like to pine for here – but between Prague and that bank, that game has one of the most interestingly layered maps I’ve ever played. And they really doubled down on letting you use stealth for everything, in response to criticism of the first game.

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This is absolutely it for me, especially in a post-“Epistle 3” world in which we know a) the rough plot of Episode 3 and b) that it’s almost definitely never coming out. I think at this point Half-Life gets thought of as a classic that’s been largely outstripped by the games it inspired, and a series that wears its gears and valves (ha!) openly for everyone to see. It’s become the game about goofily overt physics puzzles and the game about standing on someone’s head as they talk through a non-cutscene cutscene and the game about explicit environmental storytelling. It’s the ultimate invocation of “show-don’t-tell,” for better or worse.

And I still see it everywhere I look — in things like Outer Wilds and Returnal and Titanfall 2 and just… everything. And it’s not like it’s over! Half-Life: Alyx has maybe my favorite control scheme I’ve ever experienced in a game — it sucks that you need to either bow to Facebook or shell out a thousand dollars to have access to it, but it’s another genuinely brilliant experience and another game, alongside Resident Evil 7, that really shows the potential for horror in VR. But Episode 3 is always going to stick with me I think for the reason it never came out — because those games held a vanguard of experimentation and new ideas but were still widely accessible (the reason I played them before most other games was because they were among the few things my high school laptop could run), and for a long time I couldn’t wait to see what those ideas would mean the next time we saw them.

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Yeah! I went the entire playthrough of Mankind Divided without killing a single person except for the final boss. And the best part was that it wasn’t a predetermined “this is a clean-hands run” kinda decision. I just kinda approached each situation thinking “well my Jensen wouldn’t kill unless he had to, so let’s find another solution” and I was always able to do just that. I loved the feeling of being a cyber-spy, breaking into mega-corporate vaults and all that. And while the game felt cut-short, I really loved the smaller open world that was a bit more dense than most and changes over the course of the game.

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Get in the Car, Loser! is never coming out. It’s been like five years since Ladykiller, and I now refuse to believe Christine Love is actually devel-

Oh, heck yes!

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pretty sure I still have a $5 deposit at gamestop on Dead Island 2 from like 6+ years ago :no_mouth:

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I’m tempted to say the System Shock 1 remake. I kickstarted this way back when, and I’m still waiting on the game. First, they spent all the kickstarter money on switching engines mid-development, so they decided to go ahead and fund it themselves to meet all of the Kickstarter commitments. I don’t think it counts as vaporware, though, because while it is three or four years overdue, they do still send me monthly emails showing me stuff they’re working on, so eh?

I’m also tempted to go with Beyond Good and Evil 2. I’ve been waiting for that game for almost two decades now. But, as someone pointed out earlier, the development has been so marred by outside circumstances that I’m not even sure I’m looking forward to it anymore.

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