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Mama Robotnik
(12-12-2012, 04:32 AM)
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There is no media from either Silicon Knights’ or Crystal Dynamics’ competing, cancelled “Kain II” projects. For more information on how Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver’s development went read its own complicated story here.

A final observation: Crystal Dynamics took a weapon from Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain – a powerful magical blade called the Soul Reaver – and constructed the story of the entire franchise around its significance. The words “Soul Reaver” are more affiliated with the Kain brand than “Blood Omen”. As Denis reveals, the titular sword was actually conceived for another game entirely:

Which leads us to...

Too Human (Sony Playstation)

Partner: Electronic Arts/MGM
Status: Cancelled

Too Human was conceptually conceived just before Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.

The idea was part of a package of three concept documents that the developer sent out to multiple parties - Crystal Dynamics saw far more potential in fantasy and declined the proposal in favour of Kain.

Nonetheless, the team kept building on the Too Human concept throughout Blood Omen and the short-lived Kain II’s development. Work began in proper once SK had terminated their development agreements with Crystal Dynamics and Activision.

Silicon Knights did not initially reveal what this new project was called, but hyped it unashamedly.

The Too Human concept could not have been more ambitious, and early work was being presented to the press without a publisher attached:

Eventually, the partnership of EA/MGM took on the project as joint publisher. Press releases were released. E3’s were attended and years of development were undertaken. Then unceremoniously, after Silicon Knights missed their proposed release date, EA/MGM pulled out.

There is clearly more to this than we know. For a publisher to abandon a game so far into development, they must have perceived the project to be either significantly unimpressive or wholly unprofitable. There is no information regarding what caused the rift between Silicon Knights and EA / MGM, though I’d suspect it may have had something to do with SK missing their promised January 2000 release date.

With SK’s publisher and funding gone and their magnum opus in heavy development, overdue and incomplete, a miracle of sorts occurred: Nintendo purchased part of the company. Consequently, Too Human for the Sony PlayStation, a four-disc epic years in the making, is entirely abandoned and all work on it junked.

Dyack would later go on to admit that the cancelled game was only a short time away from being ready to release:

As the next two iterations of the Too Human project would be for far more advanced systems, it appears that aside from some concept artwork, nothing from these years at Silicon Knights was usable in any released game. The final release, two generations later, would be completely unrecognisable in story and concept from its PlayStation origin.

There’s some interesting media and information about this cancelled game. Be aware that some of this stuff is nearly twenty years old.

The original game logo and some concept art:

(Source: Portfolio of former Silicon Knights artist Raffaele Ienco)

The story concept itself, which is completely different from the game’s eventual final release. Note the complete lack of Norse influences and techno-Gods.

Screenshots from various sources, which EGM magazine claimed were from a build of the game that was more than 50% complete:

A list of the features and ambitions for the game:

An excerpt from the voice over script:

Some video footage:

And finally, some renders from the FMV cutscenes that would have played throughout the game:

(Source: The Portfolio of Albert Alenjandro.

As you can see, Too Human had gone through extensive - and undoubtedly expensive - development before EA/MGM pulled out and its eventual cancellation. For more than one format, it seems...

Too Human (Sega Saturn)

Partner: Electronic Arts/MGM
Status: Cancelled

There is very little additional information on this discovery. Al we have is a senior and long-term Silicon Knights staff member revealing that a Sega Saturn version of Too Human was also worked on and cancelled.

Eternal Darkness (Nintendo 64)

Partner: Nintendo

Status: Cancelled

With the Nintendo and Silicon Knights partnership, Too Human was terminated. Silicon Knights channelled their energies into a new game – a psychological horror for the Nintendo 64 called Eternal Darkness.

Silicon Knights announced the game with a story tease:

Along with information about the scope and characters of the game – including description of a “Special Forces commando” that did not make the final cut:

Dyack discloses how far they pushed the Nintendo 64, and reveals that the game used the 4MB expansion pack:

At the point of cancellation, Denis reveals that the game was nearly finished:

Despite being very near completion, Eternal Darkness N64 was cancelled, and production was restarted on the eventual Gamecube incarnation. Once again, years of work had to be scrapped.
I’ve been able to unearth some really interesting concept art that I’m all but certain are the earliest (1998) sketches of its bestiary:

A ton of screenshots from various sources:

This screenshot is certainly very unusual, and seems to suggest that Silicon Knights experimented with – and rejected – a more stylised art style. The rendering on the zombies in particular is very different to their appearance in other images:

There’s also the original Nintendo 64 trailer here – showing some quite middle and late parts of the game:

Interestingly, I’ve also been able to unearth the original patent document for the Sanity Effect system.

The patent, filed in December 2000, lists Denis Dyack and Nintendo staff members as joint inventors. It’s a quite insightful read in itself, listing examples of sanity effects that don’t actually appear in Eternal Darkness – such as small rodents making loud roars.

Alongside various flow charts, the following sketches appear to illustrate the invention. The use of Nintendo first-party brands in the patent is very telling, and highlights just how close Nintendo and Silicon Knights were during this period:

With the cancellation of Eternal Darkness 64 – after so much work – Silicon Knights finally began to remake their aborted project for the Nintendo GameCube.