For every released game there are dozens of gameplay concepts, designs, and prototypes that don't make it beyond the initial stage. Most of them remain just scribbles in a notebook. However, some make it to playable form, before being abandonded for other projects. In this "just for fun" feature we will dig out some of these prototypes and let you see them and play with them yourselves.
From the Midnight Synergy Vault:
Games That Weren't
In this issue we have a look at a prototype of an unfinished and unnamed project from the year 2000. It is an action game in which the main character has to make his or her way to the top of a tower! In this prototype version, the character is a simple ball - a concept for the final character looked a little like Stinky on a unicycle. Along the way, gems need to be collected and enemies avoided. The game concept was inspired by two retro games from the 1980s, Hewson's excellent Nebulus (also known as Tower Toppler) and the arcade classic Marble Madness.
How to Play
* To play this game, you'll need to use the mouse to control the main character.
* Moving the mouse left/right will roll the ball in that direction - make small movements to roll the ball slowly.
* The left button performs a high jump, the right button a shorter jump for smaller distances.
* You will start out with only a few seconds on the clock. Collecting a gem adds one second to the timer.
* Once you collect all gems on a tower, a gateway at the top of the tower will open and allow you to travel to the next level.
This prototype has two levels: a sunny day in the mountains and a thunderous lightning storm.
IMPORTANT NOTES -
READ BEFORE TRYING THIS GAME!
(1) This game is very hard and quite unforgiving. You'll need to make jumps perfectly and find the optimal route up a tower in order to not run out of time. Practice makes perfect - can you make it to the end of the second tower?
(2) The game might not work on your computer - it is only a prototype, after all. You'll likely need to adjust its compatability properties. To do so in Windows XP, unzip the game into a directory, right click on the "game.exe" file and select "Properties". Click the "Compatability Tab", then check the "Run this game in ..." button and select "Windows98/Me" from the drop down list. Otherwise the mouse control will be too sluggish to play the game properly. Other operating systems might require similar steps.
(3) In many prototype designs we will insert temporary graphics and sounds from other sources just to "test out" the feel of the game. In this prototype all music and sound effects are from the excellent Bubble Bobble series of games, and not our own creations.
(4) Take everything with a grain of salt (actually, a spoonfull is even better) - nothing in this prototype is even remotely finished. Expect some very rough graphics, sound, gameplay, and not much polish.
(5) Unfortunately we cannot offer any other technical support for this game - either in playing it or getting it to run on your computer.
If you've read the above, you can download the game prototype by clicking here. Unzip the contents into a new directory, adjust the compatability of game.exe, and off you go!
What happened to the design prototype?
This game was being developed at the same time as the prototype for our arcade blaster Intensity XS. The latter was simply deemed more "fun" and was chosen for final development.
We briefly re-visited the concept a few times in subsequent years. One concept even included the use of 2D puzzle elements (the result might have looked similar in nature to the wonderful Professor Fizzwizzle, but wrapped around a tower). Often ideas from one concept make it into altogether different games, so you might well see similar gameplay elements in the future.
Watch for more games from the vault in future issues. Until then... Happy Gaming!