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Mama Robotnik
(06-18-2013, 12:23 PM)
Mama Robotnik's Avatar
The recent announcement that Nosgoth – the sixth Legacy of Kain game is going to be a multiplayer experience, somewhat startled me. It made little sense. Why would Square Enix take a series entirely famous for delivering driven single-player experiences, wait a decade, and suddenly resurrect the IP as multiplayer game? I could not come up with a rational explanation, and felt that I only had part of the story. Given my investment in the series, I needed answers.

With the completion of this thread, I now have those answers.

This research thread serves two purposes: (1) to look back at the frankly magnificent number of cancelled games in this franchise; and (2) to exhibit the findings of my investigation into Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, the Climax Studios PS3/PS4 single-player title cancelled by Square Enix in late 2012.



There are ten cancelled games, four of which were Legacy of Kain precursor projects.

Legacy of Kain has a convoluted history since its conceptual origins nearly twenty years ago. Considering there have only been five released games – it’s surprising that such a startlingly wide range of industry players have been involved:



I’m going to post some information about each cancelled game, with an explanation of what happened and any relevant materials I may have come across. Some of these may be familiar, some of them may not be.

This will lead up to Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun, and how that doomed project relates to the upcoming Nosgoth/War for Nosgoth game.





Format: Panasonic 3DO
Developer: Silicon Knights
Cancelled by: Silicon Knights/Crystal Dynamics in 1994



The series started life as a 3DO game called “The Pillars of Nosgoth”, conceived by Denis Dyack and Ken McCulloch:

The Original Concept

[The Pillars of Nosgoth’s] complex story was outlined in a document full of sketches and concepts. The details and twisted story of Kain were developed and finalized by Denis Dyack & Ken McCulloch. Ken went on to write the scripts for the screen play (cinematics), the in-game stuff and the weapons descriptions. We wanted to create a game where there was no ultimate weapon and armor. A game where you had to use your head as well as your reflexes.

The Vision of Kain

Kain was conceived to be a game which adults would want to play. The character Kain was modeled in part after Clint Eastwood's character in the movie "Unforgiven". In this movie, there were no "good" or "evil" characters, they were all "gray". The vision of Kain was to create a game where the player is put in the position where everyone believes you are evil, perhaps even yourself. We wanted to ask the questions of "What is evil? Perhaps it is merely a perspective". We wanted to create an "anti-hero". Other inspirations were the "Necroscope" series by Brain Lumly because of the great visceral nature, and "The Wheel of Time" series by Robert Jordan because of its rich world and finely woven story lines.
Crystal becomes the Publisher of Kain

Along with several other game Publishers, Crystal Dynamics was sent the "Pillars of Nosgoth" concept and several other proposals from Silicon Knights.

The “document full of sketches and concepts” as a whole has never been released – but a good portion of the artwork from it has leaked out in different places. These initial sketches are the foundations of Legacy of Kain – the imagery presented recurs in the two decades of released and cancelled games that followed.





The following image has some of the earliest dialogue in the series – unfortunately it isn’t all eligible. If anyone is better at reading faded blurry writing, please tell me what he end of this says!



Did you really believe that you were the only vampire in Nosgoth? You are just a minor pawn whose powers pale in comparison to my mine.

Oh yes. I am also a vampire. Your greatest flaw my good Kain is that you have a soul. You have a conscience that hinders your will to survive. I do not have that [indecipherable].

The rest of the concept images from The Pillars of Nosgoth (thumbnailed):



Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics jointly agreed to cancel The Pillars of Nosgoth for the 3DO around 1994, and used the concepts to create a game for the Sony PlayStation. Silicon Knights FAQ on the development of the game describes the transition as going from building a house – to building a mansion. With the help of Crystal Dynamics and the power of Sony’s console – The Pillars of Nosgoth became larger in scope and vastly more ambitious. The result was Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain.




Format: Sega Saturn
Developer: Silicon Knights/Crystal Dynamics
Cancelled by: Activision in 1996 or 1997



The Sega Saturn version of Blood Omen was advertised alongside the PlayStation release. What happened to it is somewhat contradictory. Sega-Saturn.com, a Saturn news site dating back to the mid-nineties, has a staff member’s editorial still online after seventeen years, in which he explains his version of events:

If you want an example of just how ignorant Sega can be when it comes to quality games, let me refresh everyone's memories with a game long lost due to ignorance. The game is Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, an RPG/action game where you play a vampire who must fulfill a Blood Legacy before get can finally get eternal rest (or, as he says, "respid", don't ask me what that means). On the Sony Playstation, it marked up some rave reviews and a good amount of purchasers, but, on the Saturn, it never came to pass.

Here's the awkward situation, though Legacy of Kain is a finished game. 100 percent complete. And, better yet, it is a much more polished game than the PS version. I played an eprom late last year (about 70-75% complete) at a local game store and I was shocked at how much better it was. The slowdown was gone, there was a bit more blood, and the voice samples loaded up quicker, resulting in a more whole experience than what PS had to offer (although the PS version still is worth noting).

Now, no one, not even Activision (the publishers of Kain on the PS) has stepped forth to pick up the game for distribution. Why? They're worried about poor Saturn sales. Let me put this to rest (er, or respid)...Sega RPG's have sold phenomenally over the past couple of years. When Dragon Force came out, it practically sold out at a lot of the stores I visited. All the buzz is about in Sega chat rooms these days is regarding Shining the Holy Ark and how cool Albert Odyssey will be. And, really, if there was no need for RPG's on Saturn, would this whole Sega/Working Designs feud be a really big deal?

The situation is this- quality games linger right under Sega's nose and they're too buried in their own reputation and future projects to take a chance on it. Acclaim doesn't have the brains, they'd prefer to take the easy way out with movie-based titles that are as well-programmed as a drawing program on the Apple IIe. And other developers, even WD or their new division, Spaz, don't even know what it's all about. This is a travesty...at a time when Sega needs all they can get, the ignorance of Kain is unheard of.

So I plead with Sega or WD or whoever...Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain is too good to pass up and leave in the development room, and, even if you have to sell it for $39.95, you won't be sorry. At least ask Crystal Dynamics for a demo disk and TRY IT.

Maybe I'm overranting on this, but, hey, with a game as cool as Kain just inches from our reach, I can get overcritical.

Next Generation Magazine also published the following story – which backs up this take on events.

Legacy of Kain - one of America's few homegrown RPGs - will not be released on the Saturn. The highly regarded Crystal Dynamics game was quickly snapped up by Activision for PlayStation, but despite the Saturn version being 100% complete, no publisher was prepared to take a risk on what's perceived as a risky Saturn market.

"Quite frankly I don't know why a publisher has not been found", offered Steve Groll for Crystal Dynamics. "I think maybe they are afraid of the Saturn's smaller user base."

Silicon Knights denied entirely that this enhanced Saturn release was complete:

Is there a version of Legacy of Kain for the Sega Saturn?

No. Development of the Saturn version was started and terminated some time ago. The rumour (Jan 1997) that the Saturn version was complete but no one was willing to publish it was simply not true.

There are three screenshots and a single video of the Sega Saturn enhanced release of Blood Omen:





There is also a very brief video here

The screenshots show a number of features not present in the PlayStation or PC releases – a multi-coloured magic meter (which changes hue to red in the video), a drape over the skulls on the GUI, and two small circles next to the blood-vial which have an unknown purpose. The textures also seem to be sharper somewhat – at least in the biggest screenshot. Kain is using equipment and spells from the latter half of the game – and appears to be in late-game environments fighting late-game monsters.

These observations would back up the idea that the enhanced release of Blood Omen for the Sega Saturn, was near completion before being scrapped. It’s a sad outcome, as given the 2D strengths of the Sega Saturn, this could have been the definitive version of the game.




Format: PC
Developer: Indie
Cancelled by: 1997



The lead artist and writer of Blood Omen 2 was Steve Ross. He explains the substantial contribution he made to the troubled project:

Not my fondest memories. This project took three years while we built our engine from scratch. Trying to art direct this while also doing all the concept work and being a full time environment artist, designer, and UI artist nearly killed me.

In 1997, Steve Ross was working on an independent game project using the original Quake engine called Sirens. The images were discovered years later by an IGN user called Embla (and catalogued by Ben Lincoln here). Looking at the images and explanatory content Ben has provided, it becomes immediately apparent that the cancelled project was some precursor to Blood Omen 2.

The story concept of Sirens read as follows:

The City has existed since the beginning of time. Once it was a place of transcendent beauty and purity governed by five beings known as the Aeris. Then, many centuries ago, a catastrophic plague ripped through The City. This scourge cleaved each Aeris into two separate entities: A Siren, a being of light and song, and a Daemon, a dark, vile creature.

The Daemons soon overwhelmed the Sirens beginning a long reign of brutality and horror. They stripped away the Sirens' souls turning them into pitiful empty creatures who wander aimlessly through The City. The Daemons imprisoned the Siren souls in Soul Worlds; strange domains existing beyond space and time.

With no one left to challenge their power the Daemons began to feed on The City's population. They did not feed on the flesh of their victims, but on their souls, their life force. Through centuries of dark rule The City was transformed from a place of peace and serenity into a cruel, hard, twisted place. A place of horror, death and decay.

Years after Sirens was cancelled, the concepts of two ancient races, banishment into other realms, and a city of horror and decay – would become the foundations of Blood Omen 2’s story. Sirens’ villain race would be brought into the Legacy of Kain universe as the Hylden. One of Sirens’ Daemons (left) shares the atrophied features, gaunt face and exposed teeth of BO2’s Hylden (right):



The ancient metropolis seen in Sirens would become the Hylden City – the final area of Blood Omen 2. Take Sirens’ metropolis:



Contrast this with Blood Omen 2’s Hylden City – with matching murals:



The story of Sirens would go on to have a massive impact on the Legacy of Kain universe – defining the look, architecture and scientific leanings of one of Nosgoth’s ancient races.

To read more about Sirens – with more images and explorations of its links to Legacy of Kain – click here. There is no data to explain why this project was cancelled back in 1997, though interestingly Steve Ross appears to be trying to revisit it as a graphic novel.




Format: PlayStation
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Cancelled by: Activision in 1997

and...



Format: PlayStation
Developer: Silicon Knights
Cancelled by: Activision in 1997

The development of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain had been an ordeal. Tensions had been so high between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics that the police had to be called in at least once. You can read more about this here . The hostility between the companies meant that working together again would be impossible – but Blood Omen had sold well and Activision demanded a sequel.

This legal document raises some interesting details.



The document explains that Activision asked Crystal Dynamics to begin work on a direct sequel to Blood Omen – Kain II (A). Crystal Dynamics established a scenario and drew up concepts – but these were apparently not up to the standards expected by Activison.

Activision then approached Silicon Knights to ask them to begin work on their own direct sequel to Blood Omen – Kain II (B). Silicon Knights established their own scenario and started their work on the game, but alleges in the document that Crystal Dynamics tried to disrupt progress.

In the end, both of these Legacy of Kain games didn’t progress very far. The only thing known about Crystal Dynamics’ Kain II is that it was not Soul Reaver. Regarding Silicon Knights’ Kain II, Denis Dyack hinted that it could have took the form of a prequel starring the character Vorador:

Vorador was very much like a father figure for Kain. If we decide to do more in the Blood Omen series then it is a safe bet to say that he will be in it. Thus, we would definitely consider a prequel. Through email over the net it appears that Vorador is one of the most popular characters in Kain. Once Ken and myself thought of this character, we knew that there had to be a great deal of history behind this guy. We did not have a chance to talk about this history much in Blood Omen. It would definitely be fun to fully explore the character Vorador.

Due to the complex legal history of Blood Omen, the involved parties have declined to ever discuss Kain II. Suffice to say, no media has ever made it out of either studio.



Format: PlayStation
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Cancelled by: Eidos Interactive in 1998


In 1998, Amy Hennig worked with artist Arnold Ayala to create a new IP for Eidos and Crystal Dynamics: Shifter.

Dennis Dyack once described Shifter as:

Shifter – a game with an angelic theme where you shifted between 2 planes to complete the game.

And Amy Hennig offers the following descriptions:

“Shifter,” loosely inspired by Paradise Lost. The protagonist was essentially a fallen angel of death, a reaper of souls hunted by his former brethren, and now driven to expose and destroy the false god they all served."

The hero was an undead creature, able to shift between the spectral and material realms, and glide on the tattered remains of his wing-like coattails. We conceived the spirit realm as a twisted, expressionistic version of the physical world. The hero was bent on revenge after being betrayed and cast down by his creator – like Raziel, he was a dark savior figure, chosen to restore balance to a blighted, dystopian world.

Concept art for the game, showing the protagonist:







How far along Shifter was in its development before its cancellation is unclear. Dyack asserts that significant progress had been made:

Crystal Dynamics did not have confidence that this game would do well as an original title so midway through the development cycle they slapped Legacy of Kain title on it, gave Raziel the Soul Reaver and went on to call it Soul Reaver.

Amy Hennig provides a different story – that Eidos ordered Shifter to be cancelled in its conceptual stages - and its concepts made into a Legacy of Kain game. This caused “consternation”.

When we were asked to adapt this concept into a sequel to Blood Omen, our challenge was to take all these ideas and merge them creatively into the Legacy of Kain mythos.".

As far as the creative conditions went – we were very invested in our original Shifter idea, so it naturally caused a bit of consternation when we were first asked to adapt the concept to be a Blood Omen sequel. But creative constraints can be inspiring and invigorating, and once we dug into the challenge, the concept evolved in all kinds of exciting ways.

The remaining concept art from the cancelled Shifter IP:



A large number of Shifter's ideas were cut when the project was recreated as Soul Reaver – read about them here.
Last edited by Mama Robotnik; 06-21-2013 at 12:47 AM.
Mama Robotnik
(06-18-2013, 12:24 PM)
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Format: PlayStation One
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Cancelled by: Eidos Interactive in 2000




Just after the successful release of Soul Reaver, Crystal Dynamics began work on its sequel. The intention was to release a version of Soul Reaver 2 on the same hardware, using the same engine. The project was short-lived, and cancelled after a short time. Some screenshots exist, showing a completely unfamiliar environment, with Raziel wielding abilities from Soul Reaver 1 that did not make it into the final Soul Reaver 2.



Crystal Dynamics artist Daniel Cabuco confirmed in 2012 that the PS1 environment shown above was meant to be a village called Uschtenheim.

When the PS1 release was cancelled, the game was restarted from the ground-up on the PS2 and Dreamcast. The Dreamcast release never materialised - in all of its released screenshots it looked near-indistinguishable from the PS2 release. To contrast with the above PS1 images, here is how Soul Reaver 2 (PS2 and PC) looked when it came out:






Format: Dreamcast
Developer: AndNow Games
Cancelled by: AndNow Games in 2000



Let us return to the lead artist and writer of Blood Omen 2 and Sirens, Steve Ross. In 2000, Steve and a team at AndNow games were working on Chakan 2: The Forever Man for the Sega Dreamcast – a sequel to Chakan on the Mega Drive/Genesis. This was cancelled, and years later its concepts and storyline became the foundation of the opening chapters of Blood Omen 2.

Both projects involved a legendary undead man in an unfamiliar city with alien-seeming technology, investigating the dark forces within. This is admittedly quite broad, so let me illustrate the point.

The image on the left is one of Chakan’s allies – a woman called the Wormrider. The image on the right is Kain’s ally in Blood Omen 2 – the vampire Umah:




There are many other near-identical designs:









The Lost Worlds has an article with more images and comparisons between Chakan and Blood Omen 2.

Blood Omen 2 is the combination of two cancelled precursor games. Blood Omen 2’s opening chapters are Chakan 2, and Blood Omen 2’s later chapters are Sirens. These origins may explain why the game feels very different to the rest of the series – with massive plot inconsistencies and general disregard for the themes of the other games.

A decade later, one of the Soul Reaver leads offers a few comments on the game:

BO2 was a completely different team, and they had a lot of their own ideas about the direction they wanted to go. I had a few friends on that team, so I can only say that I wish we'd worked more closely together and collaborated. But even in the best environments, you'll have people who want to make their own statements and go their own way. There was a lot of people who didn't quite get Soul Reaver at Crystal and Eidos. The higher ups wanted more overtly sexual elements with a simpler story and I think that had a lot of influence on BO2. (Additionally Steve Ross had his own style and that had a heavy influence on BO2.) Marketing guys just wanted an easy, marketable design. (Like Doc Martens on Raziel.. *SHUDDER*) SR was a delicate balance of sensibilities, and it was difficult enough for our team to stay on task, so there was a lot of divergence.

SR didn't have any influence on BO2. They had creative autonomy. I did raise a few facts when talking to their artists and designers (Uh.. hey.. Vorador's dead you know.. why do you have him in the beginning of the game?) But by and large the most we could do was insure consistency with things like the Reaver. I think that the lack of collaboration between teams ultimately hurt us both, and is pretty evident in the final product(s).

BO2's contradictions were thrown 'over the fence' for the SR team to figure out. It made a lot of our storyline stuff hard to reconcile. Personally I resented it, but damn if Amy didn't come through and tie it all together. The ending of SR2 with Kain's new memories, the Hylden, etc.. she just did an amazing job considering the huge amount of crap she had to resolve.

Learning about the origins of Blood Omen 2, and the strong influence of its two cancelled precursor games, helps explain this most puzzling entry in the series.




Format: PlayStation 2
Developer: Ritual Entertainment with input from Crystal Dynamics
Cancelled by: Eidos Interactive in 2004



Following the release of Legacy of Kain: Defiance, Eidos Interactive moved Crystal Dynamics onto the Tomb Raider franchise. Ritual Entertainment – who had offered some support in the development of Defiance – were commissioned to make Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy.

Amy Hennig – lead writer and producer for the Soul Reaver games and Defiance, posted this farewell message to fans as she left for Naughty Dog:

To the Legacy of Kain fan community --

I want to thank all the dedicated LoK fans for their support, enthusiasm and indulgence over the last eight years. This last summer, I was offered the opportunity to take on a new challenge with old friends, and -- despite some regrets -- it was an offer I just couldn't pass up. And so I've moved on to new pastures -- not greener, just different.

I did my best to carry the torch lit by Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics back in 1993, and have faith now that the torch has passed into the capable hands of a team determined to keep the spirit of the franchise alive.

As always, I am overwhelmed by your passion for the series, and I'm sincerely touched by all your good wishes as I transition into this next chapter in my career.

So long,

--Amy

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

--T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The implication was that she and the other series leads, had passed their story ideas to a new team, for the series to be continued and/or concluded. In practice, a delegation of Crystal Dynamics staff attended Ritual, to guide their continuance of the series. Daniel Cabuco explains:

Ritual did a great job trying to make Dark Prophecy into a Kain game. They flew myself, Richard Lemarchand, and Jen Fernandez in as consultants. I really liked working with these guys. Ultimately it's hard to know exactly why it didn't go forward.. politics, economics, or what have you. They did take the art style into a more 'heavy metal' direction, with I tried to steer them away from when it came to the original SR time. It was more City of Lost Children/Lost Steampunk kind of a look.

As a direct continuation of the story, The Dark Prophecy would have involved Kain travelling to a number of familiar (or previously mentioned but unseen) locations such as:


The Ruins of The Pillars of Nosgoth






Nosgoth’s Wildnerness




The Ascent to Malek’s Bastion and Outer Ruins






Malek’s Bastion










A Winged Being Shrine




Underground Ruins






The Soul Machine





The Dragon Statue Soul Reaver Forge






The Bastion Boss Arena








The Demon Dimension / Hylden Realm

There are no images of this area though Daniel Cabuco – Crystal Dynamics consultant on the game - confirms that “much of the game” would have taken place here. He also explains here what it would have looked like:

The Hylden Realm is a demonic dimension that warps and distorts reality with chaotic energy. The Hyden tried and succeeded in carving out a niche that left a few of them unaltered. Using the Glyph network, they created order out of Chaos, even subjugating the native creatures there.. but it was very limited and at great cost. Eventually even their great magics would succumb to the demon dimension and warp. The Nexus stone and device were all part of their attempts to come over. The Demon Realm is not a mirror copy of the Material though, it just touches on it in certain 'weak points' like Avernus. It's not like the Spectral Realm.. it has its own areas, too and time passes differently there as well.

Suspended in the Hylden Realm would be Glyph Cities:

In [The Dark Prophecy] I was able to add to the Hylden mythos. Imagine a race that was able to fight the ancient vampires toe to toe to a standstill.
They've been warped, weakened, and drained through their experience in the Demon Realm, but those that preserved their pure state in the center of their Glyph cities are every bit as strong as before.

Like any intelligent species, the Hylden have their own hierarchy, conflicts and insurrections. The demon realm would have necessitated a certain unity though, for the sake of survival. I do like to think that there would be have and have-nots, with lesser clans left to the warping as their abilities faded first.
Remember that nothing and no-one in Nosgoth is one dimensional. If we had the time, we would have woven a lot of dimensions into everything.

The Hylden appear in the demon dimension, obviously intruders to that realm, which causes immediate conflict. For the Hylden it would have been like being damned to hell: they fought and carved out their place in the world. Preserving what civilization and technology they could. The more damning realization came later when they realized the entire dimension was warping and twisting them. They used their sorcery and Rune technology to create bubbles that kept them safe until those too started to twist and fail. Further still they realized that they could not die from old age, essentially freezing them in time and space (I think unable to raise children as well. Realizing their eventual fall was due, they reached out to their old enemies and forged alliances, finding ways to breach the thinner passages to the Material Realm of Nosgoth. (Entropy has a way of making strange bedfellows) Lesser demons would have been enslaved, greater demons would have been in an uneasy alliance with the Hylden. They Hylden would have used their possession abilites to reach through the jail of the pillars and even possess demons who came through the other side (thus their knowledge of Kain and Raziel). In Defiance we decided to use the 'green glowing eyes' to show possession or influence. I also believe they focused on possessing more pliable vessels. (Also, I thin the demons were pissed off about the whole possession thing)

this vast glyph powered city, with its edges being warped by the demon dimension. The glyphs would keep the warping at bay, but they would eventually fail and a whole section would fall to the demon dimension's twisting. It would set up tension within the city, intense resentment, and conflict for resources. I'd really like to add dimension to the Hylden.


The Future (Post Soul Reaver)

There is little information regarding this, but Daniel confirms that Kain would have returned to the future as seen in Soul Reaver.

Returning characters appear to have included:
Elder Kain and Young Kain




The Dark Prophecy would have potentially been structured around alternating chapters, in which you play Elder and Younger Kain:

We had a version of Kain that linked BO2 with SR.. The thought was to either play Kain in this Era, or use it as part of his disguise, which would fade in direct sunlight. There was a lot of back and forth on the story but either one would have been cool. I loved this desingn for Kain too.. One thought was to have Elder Kain in the Hylden Realm, and Young Kain in the material realm, playing different chapters... Even having Kain 'help out' his other self from the shadows, taking out heavy foes that would have outmatched his younger self. (And get this.. getting caught in a Moebius time trap that put him on the field facing his younger self from BO1.. He'd have to 'throw the fight' and dissipate.. but it would have been cool to see.. and not before sending some hell Moebius' way before he left) We had things like summoning Vorador, or Jumping between Demon/Hylden realms too.

Raziel



Ritual Entertainment included Raziel in an early build of The Dark Prophecy. Crystal Dynamics vetoed his inclusion as soon as they found out.

A proposal was brought out that Kain should be able to 'summon' Raziel out of the blade during certain key points of the game. That was a proposal shot down by the Crystal delegation. The basic news we brought was that Soul Reaver was Raziel's story, and it ended with Defiance. After that it was all Kain. So with that basic premise laid out, we looked for ways to create the Hylden realm look and architecture, their technology and sorcery type, and worked out how we could get Kain into the Hylden realm and why. Rich and Jen were instrumental in creating a more compelling story than just Kain kicking the hell out of the Hylden... Kyle (RIP) and I worked on base level mechanics and art direction.

There were good ideas in the whole thing, but ultimately it just didn't wash. So the Raz you see was part of the gameplay they initially proposed before CD sent us over to Ritual to do more direct collaboration.


Ariel

Last edited by Mama Robotnik; 06-21-2013 at 12:54 AM.
Mama Robotnik
(06-18-2013, 12:25 PM)
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Cancelled Game #9 – Legacy of Kain : The Dark Prophecy CONTINUED

The Seer



Daniel Cabuco explains here and here that Blood Omen 2’s Seer was going to return, and be revealed as a Vampire/Hylden hybrid.

The Seer's role was to pass on prophecy and warn Kings and Men of Power what was to befall if action was not taken. She is a mysterious and powerful Hylden. We didn't really define her past with Vorador, but she's far older than he is. We had kept a vague assumption that she 'owed him one' for saving her at some point.

Think about this: No Hylden escaped the binding. The Seer doesn't look like a pure Hylden, does she?

The Hylden look pretty sleek in comparison to the Seer. In Dark Prophecy we were working out why a single Hylden would not have been banished.. and I thought it would be a nice loophole if she were a hybrid between the two races. ("Abomination!" to quote Viktor from Underworld)

I imagine her life would be pretty awful, but the power she might inherit could be significant. Prescience could be seen as a gift or a curse, depending on what you end up seeing.


Janos Audron

Janos Audron, last seen being cast into the Demon Dimension in Blood Omen 2 would also return.

Yeah, I liked Janos a lot too. I think there's a lot you could do with him. Remember that the Hylden dimension is warping, so if he was outside the Glyph areas, he'd start to warp as well. That gives a nice context and pressure to his story. :)

I think he might even carve a little piece of reality for himself there.. and maybe his motivations wouldn't line up exactly with Kain's once they meet..


Kain’s Wolf/Beast/Human Forms



In The Dark Prophecy, Kain was to regain his transformation abilities. Daniel Cabuco explains here:

For Dark Prophecy we discussed his beast, wolf, and human forms

poor old Vampire Kain' would have still looked pretty badass in his human form. (And attractive haha)

It would have been good to have him walking around Ustchenheim, having to avoid direct sunlight in order to not get attacked (and subsequently cause a mass murder of humans). I had a storyboard I wanted to do where in a cutscene he's walking forward talking to a terrified priest as he steps into and out of shafts light from various windows changing from Human to Elder Vampire with each passing


The Elder God

Kain’s nemesis, The Elder God, would have returned.

The Elder God was a DemiUrge, a false god. When I was working on SR1, I always felt the EG had resurrected him. But after hearing Amy's explanation for SR2 and Defiance, I realized Raz would have risen anyway. The Elder God lied to Raziel and told him he resurrected him. It was believable because every soul Raziel 'ate' nourished him but also returned the soul to the Elder God (a parasite to the wheel, who bled every soul to grow larger and more powerful) So he convinced Raziel (who was pissed at Kain anyway) that he was a servant to the Elder God.. Worthy.
Kain did something different than he was supposed to: he threw Raziel into the Abyss. Now normally, the time stream would have corrected itself with a reciprocal action, but he banked on Raziel's unique resurrection . I equate it to a book where there are multiple branches: you're fated to complete the book, but say halfway through, instead of reading the chapter it says to go to, you roll a six sided die to go a different direction. Raziel is the die. Because Raziel is uniquely between life and death, he is outside the wheel. Because he exists both inside and outside the blade, he is a paradox. He can't be tracked by the Elder God (but the EG see's him when he is near.. it helps to have lots of eyes and be saturated in the Spectral Realm). Likewise Moebius and the Chronoplast only get glimpses of what could be when Raziel makes a decision. I hope that makes sense.

Elder God, though defeated, was set up to be an adversary in the next game

The Elder God's origins are shrouded in mystery. (Which is a fancy way of saying that we hadn't delved into it. It was something for DP to elaborate on)

one idea I was playing with for the 'next game' (At the time I didn't know Tomb Raider was on the horizon) was to have Kain holding the Spirit Reaver and having that Reveal the Elder God's influence in the world in a radius around him.

If Kain were to ever defeat the Elder God, I am sure it would require the restoration of the pillars and somehow 'pinning him down' before finishing him off with some Epic use of the Soul Reaver. It could be a level or the intent of a whole game to beat him, involving multiple locations where you track him down and destroy key areas that he dwells in or uses as anchors to keep himself in our world. In any case it shouldn't be a single encounter or small thing to beat him.


New characters would have included

The Hylden Armour Wraiths


Suits of metal armour possessed by vengeful Hylden souls.




Elementals



Monstrous gargantuan aligned to specific elements. The only known image of one is above – an Earth Elemental.


The Hylden King and Supreme Queen



The Hylden Leaders would be revealed as Queen and King, the above concept image showing the latter.

Now I put an idea out there that the Hylden Lord wasn't the absolute ruler of the Hylden, just one of their Seven Guild Leaders (like the Lieutenants) and there were more of the Lords out there, with a supreme Queen who is extremely powerful and literally holding the demon realm at bay with her powers, so she's hampered... but if they come back to Nosgoth, it would press the Elder Kain to the very limits of his abilities.

Glyphs are the Hylden's ways of pushing the odds in their favor, they bend reality and draw power from them. Give them a foothold and they'd transform Nosgoth into a completely different looking world. Sort of terraforming it, with huge Glyph shrines and one eventually as big as the the great sounding pipe.

Hope that at least shows how scary they could have been.


Pure Hylden






Monsters



Legacy of Kain : The Dark Prophecy was cancelled in 2004, the same year in which development started. If you want to read more about this project, there is lots here.




Format: Unreal 3 Engine/PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/PC then PS4
Developer: Climax Studios (Single Player) and Psyonix (Multiplayer)
Cancelled by: Square Enix in 2012


There has been much speculation and guesswork over the last year regarding a new game. I was recently looking through some old Legacy of Kain threads on a few different forums, and I came across a quite perplexing contribution. The post simply listed three things: Crystal Dynamics, Unreal Engine 3 and Climax Studios. I considered this unsubstantiated information – Climax have never been associated with the franchise before – could there be something in this?

I started to use my gaming research techniques to learn who this developer was, and see if they could have been involved in a Legacy of Kain game. I learned the following:

  • Climax Studios are based in Portsmouth, UK. They have worked on a number of games, most recently Silent Hill: Origins, Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Bloodforge
  • A large number of Climax Studios former staff, have an Unreal 3 engine game on their resumes/LinkedIn sites. This game started development some point in 2010, and was cancelled in 2012. On various resumes the phrases “AAA game”, “established franchise”, “action adventure” and “large AAA publisher” appear.
  • Various Portfolio sites – belonging to Climax Studios’ former artists, animators, modellers, etcetera, have artwork that could fit into the gothic Legacy of Kain style.

This wasn’t a lot to go on. Rather than just save the artwork I had found and present my idea as a theory, I took a different approach. I gathered the email addresses that I could find from the portfolio sites of former Climax Studios staff – and sent some emails out. In the emails I explained that I believed the cancelled Unreal Engine 3 project was a Legacy of Kain game, and that I could assure anonymity if they would like to comment. Most didn’t respond, which is fair enough. Some did and (very politely) thanked me for my interest but said that they would not comment due to NDA.

Some people did respond though. They’d seen my previous work on NeoGAF, and wanted to contribute. Agreements were made with the sources independently by email – they would confirm which media I had found on the internet was from the cancelled project – and they would also divulge information – to be paraphrased and not quoted directly.

As you can imagine, I am not going to name names or link to any portfolio sites. If you are concerned about whether I am presenting legitimate information, I offer three considerations: (1) I was the one who originally broke news of the cancelled Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy five years ago. (2) Last year I presented assets that I asserted were from the cancelled Eternal Darkness 2, half a year later they appeared in the trailer for the successor of Eternal Darkness. (3) Under my other username, I have made contributions to the Legacy of Kain community for the last thirteen years.
With that said...

The Facts

  • Square Enix commissioned Climax Games to work on a new Legacy of Kain game at some point between 2009-2010. Crystal Dynamics provided some supervision on the project.
  • Square Enix had a number of requirements for the game: it must have a single-player and multiplayer component and it must feature a new main character with a story distant to the original series.
  • Climax Games worked on the single-player component. Psyonix Games worked on the multiplayer component. Both games shared art assets, but other than that were wholly disconnected from each other.
  • The single-player game went through many titles, eventually settling on Legacy of Kain – Dead Sun.
  • The target format of the game changed rapidly during development. At one point it was envisioned as a small project (possibly downloadable?), and then as a Xbox 360/PS3 retail release. In its final form, the game would have been a PlayStation 4 launch title – I am unclear whether an Xbox One or PC release was also planned.
  • A large amount of work went into the game, with a tremendous amount of hours contributed by the artists. Development had progressed to the point in which some voice acting/motion capture had taken place.
  • Square Enix eventually projected that the game wouldn’t reach their sales expectations (click here), and they decided to cancel it in 2012. One of my sources speculates that as the company had invested no money into marketing at this point, it was an easy decision for them. Some of the development team were not told about the cancellation, and still came in on their weekends to work on the game while Square Enix executives knew it would not be coming out.
  • There is a great sense of frustration that the game was not released. Due to a very strict NDA, anyone who worked on the project cannot discuss it openly without putting themselves in significant trouble.
  • “Nosgoth” - once known as “War for Nosgoth” – is the multiplayer component of Legacy of Kain : Dead Sun. It recycles the art assets from the cancelled single-player project, and has been compared strongly to “Monday Night Combat” with third-person battles using period-appropriate weapons such as crossbows.

The Story

  • A distant continuation of the series – in the same way that Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation took place in the same universes as their predecessors but were not immediate continuations of previous events.
  • Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun is set in Nosgoth’s far future, long after the events of Soul Reaver.
  • There is a race of blue-skinned vampires living in this era –known as the Saradin. The vampires have evolved beyond those seen in the series previously, and have the ability to shift between spectral and material realms at will – and to consume souls. The vampires are devoutly religious.
  • Gein is one of these Saradin vampires, and he attacks a human of Nosgoth called Asher. Gein kills Asher and begins to feed on his soul. Something happens here that causes Asher’s human soul to accidentally become bound in Gein’s body. Gein becomes a unique creature, a human soul in control of (and trapped in) a vampire body.
  • Gein/Asher attempts to return to his human village, but during his absence the settlement has been attacked and torched. Gein/Asher unsuccessfully attempts suicide.
  • Gein/Asher explores Nosgoth with his new abilities. His quest for revenge against the destroyers of his village and those responsible for his circumstances – becomes a quest that will decide the fate of the world, as per Legacy of Kain tradition.
  • Asher (the human trapped in the vampire body) begins to realise that Gein (the original vampire soul of the body) is still present. Gein appears to Asher in visions, providing a vampiric perspective and alternate insight into the game’s events.
  • The story would have explored the mystery surrounding a very old vampire child, and revolved around The Elder God. Religion was one of the game’s overarching themes.
  • Further story links to previous games.

Gameplay
  • A open-world action adventure with exploration and upgrade abilities comparable to Soul Reaver.
  • Real-time shifting between Spectral and Material Realms. This shifting was fundamental to the gameplay and apparently very fluid. The role of the Spectral Realm was massive in the game.
  • Very cinematic and violent combat. The bosses were “huge” and involving action and puzzles, often fought across multiple stages.
  • Puzzles and “dungeons”.
  • Extremely story focussed.
  • The gameplay structure was influenced by Soul Reaver and Zelda. (“think if HBO made Zelda”)
  • Some gameplay links to previous games.


Artwork

None of these images have been provided directly by my email sources – I found them through scrutiny of public portfolios, sent the links to my sources who would confirm that they were from Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun. The text and watermarks are my own – I have done this so that certain recurring blog sites don’t repost them as their own findings without linking back here as has happened more than once – I’m going to provide Legacy of Kain Wiki with the original unwatermarked images over the next week if they want them.

Red Chamber



What appears to be a blood fountain or shrine. The environment appears to be a homage to original fountains of blood on Blood Omen and/or the blood-filled Fire Forge in Soul Reaver 2.

Village



A house and village from Legacy of Kain : Dead Sun. The painted symbol on the door catches my attention in particular.


Female



A detailed female character.


Humans



A man and a woman – not the highest quality render, but it gives you an idea of the medieval clothes the people in this era were wearing.


Asher/Gein



The main character – the human soul trapped in the body of a Saradin Vampire.


Storyboard



I can confirm that this storyboard – which was circulating a few months ago – was for a CG trailer that was never made. Compare the vampire in it to the image of Asher/Gein above – its the same person.


Nosgoth
































Combat (Click to see full size)












Video

A video I can present showing assets from Dead Sun. The first section includes dialogue – two humans discussing what appears to be the first human to be born for twenty years - suggesting that the humans of this era are facing mass sterility. The second section shows an archon-type monster creature. To emphasise – no source provided me with these clips directly. I found the clips in different animator’s portfolios, and a source confirmed that they came from the cancelled game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VrBmrKiyjk



The 10 Cancelled Legacy of Kains




That’s all I have so far. There will be more at some point, I’m sure. To put it in perspective:

  • Legacy of Kain: The Dark Prophecy was in development for barely four months, and it took nine years for all the listed materials above to be made public.
  • Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun was in development for over three years (if you include preproduction). It has barely been a year since it was cancelled, and I anticipate over the next few years we will see much more of the work that went into it.

If anyone who has worked on any of the ten projects would like to contact me to relay any information or assets regarding their cancelled game, please PM me or use my email address listed in my contributor section at thelostworlds.net. Anonymity guaranteed.

With the upcoming release of Nosgoth/War for Nosgoth by Square Enix, a multiplayer game described by them as being built as an LoK game from the ground up (which is technically true), I imagine this post is not going to go down well with the Square Enix PR team. I’ve seen nothing of this new game – it could be good.

However, consider what Kain fans have missed out on: two direct sequels to Blood Omen, a direct sequel to Defiance and a big-budget next gen launch title single-player epic. We’ve been messed about enough, and I’m happy to relay the truth of what happened. Nosgoth/War for Nosgoth is the tiny surviving part of what should have been the series’ big single-player next-generation return. After a ten year wait, it’s a shame things didn’t work out better.

Thanks for reading.


If you enjoyed this research thread, you might find these pieces interesting:

My Research into Metroid Prime 1/1.5/2/3/Hunters/Toon Metroid

Soul Reaver may have been the most ambitious game ever

The Lost Art of Final Fantasy IX

A PostMortem of Silicon Knights
Last edited by Mama Robotnik; 06-23-2013 at 12:26 AM.
Toma
Let me show you through these halls, my friend, where treasures of indie gaming await...
(06-18-2013, 12:26 PM)
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I love your research posts, will read later :)
FreddieQuell
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(06-18-2013, 12:30 PM)
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Holy shit, I wish I could appreciate this for more than just the crazy amount of work that obviously went into it.unfortunately I'm mot a legacy of kain guy.
dancrane212
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(06-18-2013, 12:30 PM)
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I can alreadly tell this will be another great read, you always knock it out of the park with these threads!
Guymelef
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(06-18-2013, 12:32 PM)
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Excellent thread.
codhand
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(06-18-2013, 12:33 PM)
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wow. amazing op. oddly the only one ive played is blood omen 2
NekoFever
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(06-18-2013, 12:33 PM)
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I get the feeling that you like this series.
Tummi Gummi
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(06-18-2013, 12:36 PM)
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I wub you.
Yagharek
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(06-18-2013, 12:36 PM)
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I nearly called bullshit on the Chakan II comparison. Then I saw the main section.

Goddamn.

Never doubt Mama Robotnik.
OwlyKnees
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(06-18-2013, 12:44 PM)
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Fantastic. Thank you, I'm so looking forward to reading through this tonight.
Johnny McBeth
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(06-18-2013, 12:46 PM)
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You're incredible Mama.
LiquidMetal14
hide your water-based mammals
(06-18-2013, 12:48 PM)
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Wow, some really cool info in there. Never knew Psyonix was working on some MP for Dead Sun. I read about half of it and skimmed the rest to see if I could find the one Psyonix was working on. Great stuff as usual.
Jawmuncher
(06-18-2013, 12:48 PM)
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Awesome thread as always. Especially the info on the cancelled PS3/360 game. It's a shame the series has had so many tough spots with cancellations and everything else. It really deserves to come back the setting, characters, and everything else are just so interesting and deserving of a game.
reptilescorpio
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(06-18-2013, 12:52 PM)
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This thread is amazing. Amazing and heartbreaking.

:(
Ein Bear
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(06-18-2013, 12:53 PM)
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Fantastic work as always Mama, was a great read. Absolutely gutted to find out how close we came to a new LoK game on the PS4.
King of the Potato People
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(06-18-2013, 12:53 PM)
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Dead Sun sounded fantastic and an interesting way to do a reboot. A shame Square Enix cancelled it, they'd just rather produce games like Lightning returns.
adamma666
Member
(06-18-2013, 12:54 PM)
I just want to say that this was a great read during lunch break. I am not that much into the Kain-series (although I played the first, Soul Reaver 1+2 and Blood Omen 2), but I appreciate your research on the matter. Really Interesting and sad to a point, as Dead Sun sounds like a promising pitch for the series. I would have definitely be interested in that particular game. Thanks for your work, your threads are always awesome to read!
V_Ben
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(06-18-2013, 12:56 PM)
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Goodness me, fantastic work!
Savitar
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(06-18-2013, 12:56 PM)
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Reading all this makes me so happy and sad at the same time. I love reading what almost was, what could have been and yet so disappointed so much fell to the side or got cancelled. I love this series deeply and want to see a true continuation be made, we deserve that last part if nothing else to finish the story.

Bravo for all the research that you did, bravo.
Xater
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(06-18-2013, 12:57 PM)
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Reading this just makes me sad. Nosgoth is not good enough. This is such a fantastic franchise with a world filled with interesting elements. It's a shame that it never got a continuation after Defiance and we probably never will get one.
Bjoern the Smexy
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(06-18-2013, 12:58 PM)
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Mama Robotnik Research Threads are the best threads on NeoGAF, right beside Smash Bros Dojo threads.
Sadist
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(06-18-2013, 01:00 PM)
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*sigh*

Miss the Legacy of Kain.
JBourne
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(06-18-2013, 01:01 PM)
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Bookmarking this to read at work tonight. Absolutely love the series, and recently bought all the entries available on GOG. Soul Reaver also has a permanent spot on my Vita's memory card.
Vitet
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(06-18-2013, 01:03 PM)
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Oh my... all this cancelled games are stabbing my soul in the very center...

Fermbiz
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(06-18-2013, 01:03 PM)
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Why....Why must you torture me like like this...
Terrible Majesty
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(06-18-2013, 01:03 PM)
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Will we ever see a next gen Legacy of Kain on PS4? I'm digging the art style. Is Darksiders like LoK?
PedroLumpy
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(06-18-2013, 01:04 PM)
Holy shit, who ARE you.

Once again, thanks for putting the time and effort into another Legacy of Legacy of Kain thread.
Tymerend
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(06-18-2013, 01:05 PM)
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Very impressive.

I had always wondered what had happened to Chakan 2. I remember the video they released of the character going through various attack animations and was quite impressed at the time.
Aostia
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(06-18-2013, 01:06 PM)
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Originally Posted by Toma

I love your research posts, will read later :)

me too, great work!
MrKaepora
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(06-18-2013, 01:06 PM)
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Thanks Mama Robotik for another amazing research thread. Subscribed for future reference.
VandalD
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(06-18-2013, 01:08 PM)
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Thank you for the incredible amount of effort you put into making this thread.

Originally Posted by Terrible Majesty

Is Darksiders like LoK?

Not at all. Not in the art style, and not in the quality of its writing. Plus Darksiders is probably more dead than Kain is at this point.
Serra
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(06-18-2013, 01:08 PM)
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Mama, you da best!
Kule
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(06-18-2013, 01:08 PM)
Great read, thanks for all your hard work again!
Savitar
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(06-18-2013, 01:10 PM)
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PS

Umah seriously screwed up.
ced
Member
(06-18-2013, 01:11 PM)
Wow, I don't how you did this but awesome.

Loved the Soul Reaver games.
show me your skeleton
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(06-18-2013, 01:13 PM)
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neogaf's greatest asset.
SmokinGunZ1981
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(06-18-2013, 01:13 PM)
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Don't have time to read now as i'm at work but bookmarked for later!

I love your work by the way!
ArjanN
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(06-18-2013, 01:18 PM)
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Great thread, Mama Robotnik.

I also like how you watermarked the new images, so all the news sites will have to credit GAF, :P

Originally Posted by Vitet

Oh my... all this cancelled games are stabbing my soul in the very center...

To be honest most of these seemed to have rolled the stuff they had into whatever the next game in the series was.

Dead Sun is the real surprise here. I figured Nosgoth was supposed to be the companion game to something bigger.
MrTroubleMaker
(06-18-2013, 01:21 PM)
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Great job as usual :) It's really interesting learning what this series went through.
John Caboose
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(06-18-2013, 01:24 PM)
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I came in late to LoK and played Defiance at around 2004. I have devoured the entire story from reading/watching videos of the other games online. I do consider myself a fan of the games and reading about how Dead Sun was cancelled so far into development makes me a bit sad...
Malajax
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(06-18-2013, 01:26 PM)
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Reading this thread makes me want to go in on a Legacy of Kain bundle on steam or something. Always had interest for the series, but just never took the jump for some reason.

Thanks for all your hard work!
ShipTheCheese
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(06-18-2013, 01:27 PM)
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What a fantastic read, such good work. I was a huge LoK fan back in the day, and used to know all the lore. Sadly, I've moved on and this was a very nostalgic, and also sad, reading experience.

Amazing work, Mama Robotnik.
Tummi Gummi
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(06-18-2013, 01:28 PM)
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Losing DP hurts more than Dead Sun. Though Dead Sun has more of chance of eventually seeing the light of day - perhaps if Nosgoth does ok - since it was a reboot.
TucoBenedictoPacifico
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(06-18-2013, 01:28 PM)
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I'm subscribing the shit out of this.
TheSeks
Blinded by the luminous glory that is David Bowie's physical manifestation.
(06-18-2013, 01:31 PM)
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Originally Posted by Mama Robotnik

The following image has some of the earliest dialogue in the series – unfortunately it isn’t all eligible. If anyone is better at reading faded blurry writing, please tell me what he end of this says!

"I do not have that (something I can't read it too well/Destien? Though that's not really a word) I kill ("for"/"it or" the small writing and blurry image doesn't help) men(?)"

Dude that wrote that really needs better handwriting if he's writing that small.

OH!

"I do not have that design. I kill it or men."

There you go. I think that's what it's saying.
Last edited by TheSeks; 06-18-2013 at 01:35 PM.
Weiss
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(06-18-2013, 01:31 PM)
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Fascinating read. It's really sad how Legacy of Kain just fell off the map a decade ago.
truly101
I got grudge sucked!
(06-18-2013, 01:36 PM)
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Square Enix is in for a rude awakening if they think this multiplayer game is going to make them any money compared to a new single player title. They are so very stupid.
Lapidus' Beard
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(06-18-2013, 01:44 PM)
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Wow, just... wow! Great read.

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