With the sad news this week of Sony’s shuttering of Studio Liverpool, it’s clear that various people are turning their thoughts to projects and concepts that the publisher has shelved. Over on NeoGAF, a post has gone up which highlights several extremely interesting projects that made it through various stages of design and planning before being left behind.
Among them is a project called One Life. Essentially, the idea was for a life simulation without forced drama or fantasy. The player would take on the role of a youth and make the various choices and decisions that people encounter through their life – ageing and opening up new areas of a beautiful game world to experience as they move through the various phases of life.
Each chapter would last a virtual week (the sun would rise and fall on each day) and would feature a plot arc or a theme that focused that chapter with a traditional quest structure. From one ‘chapter’ to the next the player would jump ten years at a time through their virtual life. The state that the player had left the previous chapter in would dictate the state of the player’s life and their world at the start of the next chapter, which was inspired by the TV show Quantum Leap.
This project withered when the designer was moved on to work on the Heavenly Sword sequel – itself a future victim of budgetary concerns that would leave it on the shelf.
Simian is another concept, one which eventually bore some fruit in the shape of EyePet. The idea was for a PlayStation 3 game that would use the PlayStation Eye to allow the player to interact with a group of alien monkey-like creatures using gestures and certain verbal commands. It was an action game in which the simian creatures would be led through a perilous alien landscape.
Manhattan was set to be a first person survival horror game set on the famous New York island. The scenario was similar to the movie 28 Days Later and would see Manhattan quarantined off from the rest of America. You would have to survive the infected masses but, interestingly, there were also elements of strategy. The concept was that the player would have to attempt to save as many other survivors as possible by leading them out of the city without letting them fall to the shambling hordes.
Revolution 4 had a premise remarkably similar to that of Resistance: Fall of Man, which is why it was eventually abandoned by Sony Cambridge. The idea was for an invasion of earth to take place in the UK by aliens – similar to a War of the Worlds scenario. It was planned to start with the player setting out on a normal commute to work when the invasion begins and having to make their way through a crumbling London.
Finally, Zodiac Assassin looks like a fantastic concept for a game. It was born out of a desire to have a Kill Bill style experience with a female assassin travelling around the world to exotic locations. Mexico featured, complete with a Dia de los Muertos festival. Japan and Turkey are also mentioned and it’s not difficult to envision the kind of vivid, vibrant scenes we might have seen there.
Apparently, the project didn’t get very far before Ninja Theory’s Heavenly Sword property was bought in and took over development man hours but the little that they did have sounds like it was hugely promising. The globetrotting assassin would use disguises and, presumably, take down targets while the crowds were distracted.
There’s nothing strange in the number of concepts that are abandoned, many ideas are born and fleshed out before a studio pushes on with one that becomes a full game. It is, however, clear that there are some great ideas floating around Sony’s UK-based studios that could lead to even more innovative and imaginative experiences on the PlayStation brand, if Sony backs them.