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Games Entertainment

Games That Could Have Been 99

Posted by Zonk
from the sparks-in-their-creators-eyes dept.
Gamespot, to accompany a piece on the art of pitching a game has up a companion article on a few good pitches from talented developers that never quite made it into games. My favorite of the three, from Will Wright: "I've always been fascinated with airships, and I wanted to do a game about the Hindenburg. And it was originally conceived as a cross between Myst and a flight simulator, if you can imagine that. You basically wake up on the Hindenburg. You're all alone. It's flying toward Lakehurst, New Jersey. You can walk anywhere on the ship. You can turn lights on and off. You can steer. You can adjust the engines. But every time you come into Lakehurst, it blows up. And you have to figure out why, and it becomes like this weird mystery flight simulator thing. I'd still love to do that."
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Games That Could Have Been

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  • That's actually a good read. Wish it was longer, though. Good insight into some very interesting ideas for games! Wright's idea sounds awesome...wish that could actually be made.
    • by Pope (17780)
      It sounds a lot like the beginning of the old Infocom game "Trinity," where you start off in Kensington Gardens in London, and if you don't figure out a way out of the park, you get vaporized by an atomic blast. I never got very far, but it's a hell of a way to start a game: http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/trinity.html [csd.uwo.ca]
  • Because... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:57AM (#21778842)

    And you have to figure out why
    'Cause you're on the Hindenburg and it's filled with frickin' hydrogen?
    • by GuyverDH (232921)
      Actually, that wasn't necessarily the problem.

      One theory is that the paint used on the outside of the airship was made up of chemicals commonly used in rockey fuel today.
      • Re:Because... (Score:4, Informative)

        by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:37AM (#21779356)
        That theory has been fairly soundly debunked.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by omeomi (675045)
          That theory has been fairly soundly debunked.

          Not true. The Mythbusters episode clearly showed that the paint, which was essentially thermite, had quite a lot to do with the speed of the burn:

          http://mythbusters-wiki.discovery.com/page/Hindenburg+Mystery?t=anon [discovery.com]

          Not that the giant balloon filled with hydrogen helped matters.
          • Re:Because... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Cyclon (900781) on Friday December 21, 2007 @12:22PM (#21779996)
            We're quoting Mythbusters as an authoritative source now?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by omeomi (675045)
              We're quoting Mythbusters as an authoritative source now?

              I wouldn't say they're authoritative, but they did pretty clearly show that a hydrogen blimp burns faster with thermite paint than it does without.
              • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward
                they did pretty clearly show that a hydrogen blimp burns faster with thermite paint than it does without.
                They even more clearly showed that thermite paint alone did Fuck all.
                That by far the most important ingredient is hydrogen.

              • I wouldn't say they're authoritative, but they did pretty clearly show that a hydrogen blimp burns faster with thermite paint than it does without.

                So does a five-year-old, but that's hardly conclusive!

                Uhhh... don't ask how I know that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by snowraver1 (1052510)
            Mythbusters screwed that one up...

            They did not use the exact mixture. As I recall, they actually used thermite. Also, they (obvously) used a scale model of the hindenburg. This scale model would have a *MUCH* higher surface to colume ratio, thus anything changed about the skin would have a *MUCH* higher affect.

            I'm sure everyone on /. has either used a match to ignite a baloon filled with H2 or at least seen it done. As you know, the baloon ignites very easily, and very fast... no thermite require
          • Re:Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Gulthek (12570) on Friday December 21, 2007 @12:47PM (#21780410) Homepage Journal
            O. M. G.

            Mythbusters is *entertainment*, not science! While their antics are somewhat entertaining, they are just that: antics. There is no rigor, no carefully thoughtout experiments, no theory, and no reasoning. While they may prove something empirically (and some of their questions lend themselves well to this) their methods make it impossible to generalize to answer the question with authority.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              by omeomi (675045)
              While they may prove something empirically (and some of their questions lend themselves well to this) their methods make it impossible to generalize to answer the question with authority.

              Regardless, they demonstrated that the thermite paint on the skin had a clear effect on burn time, and thus, the OP comment that this has been "soundly debunked" is false.
            • by omeomi (675045)
              Might I also add that, while Myth Busters is far from science, so far I'm the only one to have provided a source of any sort. If somebody has a published empirical study that debunks the thermite paint theory, I'd love to see it.
              • by mattack2 (1165421)
                I can't link to the specific page, because it's a dumb Flash (redundant?) thing where you click through the pages.

                But there was an episode of "Secrets of the Dead" with a theory about static electricity causing the doping compound to ignite.

                You can find it at: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/secrets [pbs.org]
                Pick "What happened to the Hindenburg?" from the popup.
          • Re:Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 21, 2007 @01:28PM (#21781016)
            That summary of their analysis isn't that good -- it skips the important admissions of where what they tested differs from actual Hindenburg design. It does include that they used hydrogen-air mixtures instead of hydrogen. It also includes that the doped cloth (doped in an intentionally more-reactive mixture than was actually used on the Hindenburg) burned faster than undoped cloth, but this doesn't really address the question of why it was on fire in the first place, which was the real problem.

            If the skin of the Hindenburg was really painted with thermite, then it would be fairly safe -- thermite is tough to ignite (though, once burning, is very hot and difficult to extinguish).
        • by GuyverDH (232921)
          I didn't get to watch the whole thing, but the Mythbusters did a round on that and it seems that the flames you see from the Hindenburg wouldn't have looked / burned as they did if not for the skin. Hydrogen burns with just a pale, barely visible orange flame and goes very quickly. Watching it burn, you can see those huge flames following the exoskeleton along the lines of the skin over it.
    • Hey man! If you're going to post a walkthrough, at least put SPOILER in your subject line.

      The nerver of some people...
    • I remember some years back, a game called Dawn that was slated to me a mmorpg. The company had a good 200-300k people registered on the forums that were all expecting this great new 'EQ' like mmorpg to break the market, with pvp, destroyable terrain, towns. They kept this up for a year or so before announcing they were doing the game as a RTS. Dare we mention duke nukem never?
      • by nanowired (881497)
        I believe this was the game where you could impregnate a female player or NPC, cut out the fetus, and then launch it from a catapult.
  • by Omicron32 (646469) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:57AM (#21778846)
    In the last idea they say they have the code there, they were demoing it to publishers and stuff... Why not just open source the code and let the community run with it?

    If the idea was dropped, if there is no way you're gonna get that game published and make money from it, why waste all those man-hours than went into producing that prototype and instead open source it and let people have fun with it.
    • I think software that can't be sold for whatever reason should default to being open sourced, so we don't lose it forever. There's a lot of good stuff out there, not just games.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BytePusher (209961)
        It would be nice, but unlikely. Sometimes companies don't know when old source is going to come in handy. Once it's "opened" they can't close it again. Where I work, sometimes, every now and then, when conditions are just right, when the planets align, we get to sell some software we haven't touched or sold or even thought about in 15 years for a pretty decent price. Admittedly though it may take us a while to find the code and some code is never found.
      • I think software that can't be sold for whatever reason should default to being open sourced
        Several have suggested that out of print should imply out of copyright. But this is not compatible with the Berne Convention, one of the World Trade Organization treaties. I can imagine that several unrelated industries would protest if the United States were to try to pull out of the WTO over copyright in orphan works.
    • by oneiros27 (46144)
      I can see quite a few reasons why they might not want or be allowed to 'just open source [it]':
      • If the game is based on a franchise / IP they licensed, they might be unable to release those rights.
      • If based on a franchise / IP they own, they might be unwilling to release it due to concerns they might allow anyone to create and publish derivative works.
      • If they game uses an engine or other software they've licensed from other companies, they might be unable to release it.
      • If the game uses an engine or other
      • by bit01 (644603)

        You're exaggerating hugely. There are reasons for not releasing open source but most of what you've listed are red herrings.

        Vetting software before release to make sure it's clean has to be done for both open and closed source software. Companies do it every day. It's no big deal.

        In any case whenever I hear of a company claiming that a piece of software can't be open sourced because it depends on some closed source component I call bullshit; there's nothing stopping them releasing what they have and all

        • by grumbel (592662)
          ### Vetting software before release to make sure it's clean has to be done for both open and closed source software.

          The difference is that they get paid for doing it for closed source software, they don't get paid for releasing old stuff as open source. Its really quite simple, if there is no benefit for them, why have the risk of a release?
        • by Snowmit (704081)
          Vetting software before release to make sure it's clean has to be done for both open and closed source software. Companies do it every day. It's no big deal.

          Hi, I work in the industry. I happen to have been at work for 12 hours today because we had two deadlines on two projects at the same time and I needed to supervise both teams, and ensure that we got the drops off so that there'd be no question of publishers pressuring us to work over the holidays.

          After careful consideration, I have decided not to spend
  • "There's a man of the wing of this airplane! " - John Valentine
  • My pick... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xelios (822510) on Friday December 21, 2007 @10:59AM (#21778864)
    ... for a game that could have been, Freespace 3. Way to leave us all hanging Volition :(

    At least the game was continued by a source code release and player designed campaigns, still it would have been nice to get an official conclusion to the story.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Xelios (822510)
      Eh... should have said "way to leave us hanging Interplay", it's not Volition's fault the publishers refuse to give up the liscense.
    • by MMaestro (585010)
      Didn't Interplay, Volition's publisher, go bankrupt and sell off Volition?
  • Interesting article - I wish they'd swapped some of those for titles like... Master of Orion III Civilization III Which games do you think should never have been made?
    • Daikatana. [penny-arcade.com]
    • Come on now, Civ 3 wasn't THAT bad... I actually liked the culture mechanic they added, other than that it just felt like Civ 2 with updated graphics and a little bit of new content. MoO 3 was inexcusable and irredeemable, no argument there.

      As far as my nomination for a game that shouldn't have been made: Temple of Elemental Evil
      • Civ 3, when it came out, was atrocious. Civ 4 was what Civ 3 should have been... Besides, the faux-Kenny G muzak in the modern age was nightmarish.

        At the end of the day, it just wasn't very fun to play.

      • I just wish they'd go back to the Alpha Centauri mode, where you can customize units and you have a unit that will transfer resources from a square to it's home base. *sigh* Alpha Centauri was, in many ways, my favorite Civ game.
    • Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. Completely ruined the trilogy, although, as a diehard fan, I'm looking forward to the new one coming out.

      That, and any Sonic the Hedgehog game made in the last 5 years.
  • Fallout 3 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Huntr (951770)
    And I don't mean [nma-fallout.com] the Bethesda one, either.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:12AM (#21779034)
    HAH! Got it in first.
  • That's one game I still want to see.

    Think Total War (which when I first heard about it, I thought already was what I wanted; big bummer that was), but with the 'mission' stuff (spying, asassination, etc) done as a FPS, like Deus Ex or Thief (although I never played that), instead of the lame 'watch the movie and wait till the computer has rolled the dice'.

    That combination of battlefield simulation, resource management and small scale personal actions (stealing, killing, spying) would be totally awesome. And
  • Nnamtsreg (Score:5, Informative)

    by mqduck (232646) <mqduck@ m q duck.net> on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:36AM (#21779336)
    One would be excused for thinking this post is a trolling (which, if you will remember, is tactically trying to stir up trouble for the troll's own amusement). Though I wouldn't mind if I DO stir up emotions, my goal isn't entertainment for myself or anyone.

    Okay, the substance of the post:
    Let us not forget that Gamespot should still be shunned continually until it at least somehow repents for firing Jeff Gerstmann. Gamepost denied the rumors, Jeff hasn't, and frankly the facts of the matter speak for themselves.

    It may well be a fine article (I wouldn't be a Slashdotter if I actually READ it), but we shouldn't forget the apartment policy (of at least willingness) of censorship - especially not just because it's been a little while, and "who cares anymore?".

    Sure, I'm blowing it out of proportion, but you should be righteously angry to a relative degree.
    • Re:Nnamtsreg (Score:4, Informative)

      by seebs (15766) on Friday December 21, 2007 @11:39AM (#21779374) Homepage
      No idea what parent is talking about?

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/11/29 [penny-arcade.com]

      That's what parent is talking about.

      And I agree. Mod parent up!
    • by grzzld (1206404)
      I had sent an email to gamespot saying that they lost a reader. Was my favorite gaming news site for years. Until i read a story about the editor got fired for stealing pens or j walking and not because he wrote an opinion, I will not read their articles. I believe this post is very on topic. --grz
    • Also agreed. Somebody tag article "boycotgamespot"
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Chibi Merrow (226057)

      but we shouldn't forget the apartment policy (of at least willingness) of censorship


      Words have meaning. This was definitely a case of complete asshattery by a business, but it was not censorship.
      • by mqduck (232646)

        his was definitely a case of complete asshattery by a business, but it was not censorship.
        I suppose it might have been more correct technically (the best kind of correct!) if I had said "preemptive censorship".
        • A corporation is incapable of censorship. Censorship is the realm of governments alone.
          • by mqduck (232646)

            A corporation is incapable of censorship. Censorship is the realm of governments alone.
            You're quite factually incorrect. I suggest you consult a dictionary some time.
  • It is from Gamespot. i.e. the Gamespot that just fired the senior editor for a negative review tone. Don't give them any hits, they don't deserve it.
    • You're worried about Slashdot readers actually reading the linked article? You must be new here.
  • You can walk anywhere on the ship. You can turn lights on and off. You can steer. You can adjust the engines. But every time you come into Lakehurst, it blows up. And you have to figure out why, and it becomes like this weird mystery flight simulator thing. I'd still love to do that.

    Gosh, Will, I'd like to play that too!

    • by tilandal (1004811)
      Worlds worst engineering disasters meets groundhogs day. Could be fun :P
    • I like the thought of a game ending in disaster no matter what happens. I want to play a game where no matter what you do, you can't "win" it, like in groundhog day, only you never break out of it, but when you do something different you learn something else. In other words, you get to examine from every possible angle the inevitability of disaster, and in the end you walk away when you've accepted it or grown bored out of your mind.
      • Allegedly, Harlan Ellison wanted the computer game version of "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" to not have any way to win it -- only various variations of losing. He was overruled, but you have to wonder how it would've been received if he wasn't.
      • Thats sounds like the plot for Global Thermonuclear Warfare (the game from the movie War Games).

        Personally if I found I'd been duped into playing a game for hours only to find there is no solution, it would piss me off.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by tepples (727027)

          Personally if I found I'd been duped into playing a game for hours only to find there is no solution, it would piss me off.
          Have you beaten Tetris yet?
          • "Have you beaten Tetris yet?"

            That's a good point (and I don't play Tetris either, because I find it monotonous and boring!) However, this type of game would necessitate a story-line and therefore a conclusion and (hopefully) a logical way to get there. Which is far different from a 'mindless' arcade puzzle. Any adventure-based game sales would tank when it leaked out that you couldn't win it. Gamers will put up with tricks and traps, but just like mystery readers, they do not like games that 'cheat' or dupe
    • by drsquare (530038)
      Sounds like the world's most boring flight simulator. Let's face it, the only fun parts of a flight simulator are taking off and landing, and in this Hindenburg thing you can't do either. And you can't travel at any fun speed either.
    • not much replay value.
  • Remake Shiny's Sacrifice for the Nintendo DS.

    Until then, I'd love to see Portal: the Flash Version ported to the DS.
    • Until then, I'd love to see Portal: the Flash Version ported to the DS.

      Hell, why not Portal proper? It's not as if that game relies on exceptional graphics. The only time you ever benefit from a high resolution is when you're trying to read the graffiti. The only problem I'd foresee with it is that the portals might be too small on screen to make out detail in the room on the other side - which is important in solving a lot of puzzles. Maybe you could have the top screen show the view through the nearer p

  • The mousepad next to me is a promo item from the Babylon 5 space combat simulator game-- neat faux-3d thing with Starfuries that move around EAS Agamemnon depending on what angle you look at it. I even played a development version of the game at E3 back in '98.

    It still never made it to market...
  • Septerra Core
    I think this game might have won an award, but I've always been under the impression that it was underrated. Apart from one random bug, my only complaint about this game is that it felt a little short (possibly heightened by the epic nature of the storyline). However, I think the game makes for a nice RPG. If you like good stories but don't like having to pick skill points, then this a game worth looking into.

    Vampire The Masquerade - Bloodlines
    This game was one of the best games I have ever pla
    • Aside from a bit of bugginess, both of these games were excellent and under appreciated.

      I thought I was the only one completely freaked out by the haunted hotel in VtM:BL.
    • That would be such a Kick ass Game though, a VTM MMORPG. just think of it now...there can be a billion malkavians running around trying to light peoples pants on fire..... on the other hand, the real fun of something like V:TM was the pure flexibility of the character types and storyline. without that, it seems to fall short from the intended goal...
  • Like any sales job, pitching is an art, one requiring a skill set that doesn't necessarily overlap with the one that produces good games.

    Just as any developer builds their skills with coding, graphics engines, world builders, etc. they should work on their people/sales/pitch skills, too. This seems to be rampant through all industries, but sticks out like a sore thumb in IT. Part of the reason many people enter the IT field is because they don't want to deal with people. Putting a developer in front of a

  • I worked on the team that did Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future for the Sega Dreamcast (later ported to the PS2) They were looking for a next title and I wrote up a game design to use the same underwater engine and create a submarine racing game. Something set in the future sort of along the lines of Wipeout only underwater with full 3 dimensions of freedom (pass above, below, or to the side of your opponent etc.)

    Unfortunately they made a REALLY bad racing game for the PS1 instead.
  • by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Friday December 21, 2007 @05:10PM (#21784466)
    This is sort of a weird issue that seems to come up whenever someone has a game concept, but suddenly become intimidated by the industry and the overwhelming quality of the content they generate. The fact is, you don't need a huge team of developers and technicians to produce a great game. You just need a good idea and a couple people with enough determination and skill to make it happen.

    Heck, look at the first person shooter genre. It was initially brought to life by only two people who loved to play games. Now, it's a multi-billion dollar industry and the resulting engines produced each year often creates the standards for which all other games are judged.

    Nowadays, you don't even need to be a programming genius capable of juggling dozens of complex equations to produce content. You can now get fairly simple to use game development tools, such as Unity [unity3d.com] to design prototypes and tweak things until it finally feels right. Even if it doesn't end up being the final product, having a working prototype can make a huge difference in even pitching your concepts to other, larger developers. (The ones in charge of such decisions often need visual aids beyond just a storyboard or sketch, since they likely aren't developers themselves.)

    If not anything else, even Flash can work in a pinch for prototyping or development.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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