The lights are on
We recently brought you an exclusive look at the trailer for one of Irrational Games scrapped titles, Division 9. However, long before that title was in the works, Irrational had another project that never saw the light of day: The Lost. Unlike Division 9, which was only in the early phases of development when it was abandoned, The Lost was much further along. In fact, it was finished. However, the game did not uphold Irrational’s standards of quality, and the studio decided that withholding the game and eating the losses would ultimately be less damaging than releasing an inferior product.“We ran into a publisher who wanted us to do a console game,” explains creative director Ken Levine. “We had never done a console game before, and my business partner had left to start the Australia studio. We didn’t really have a lot of technology people at the group, and the money we had to do the game wasn’t sufficient for the game we were planning on doing. We were pretty inexperienced at the time, and the publisher was inexperienced. They were trying to do triple-A titles for the first time, and that combination led to some problems.”“It wasn’t that we didn’t believe in the game or that we weren’t excited about it,” adds art director Nate Wells. “But it’s that feeling you get when you’re trying to make art with your hands tied together. You know how you want it to be, and to see that you’re not going to be able to do it is just crushing.”[PageBreak]
The Lost was a title about a waitress named Amanda who traveled through the circles of Hell in order to locate her lost daughter, fighting various monsters with a variety of weapons and special attacks. Of course, because it was set in Hell, there were also a lot of psychological horror elements to keep players on edge. “We always pitched it as Zelda meets Silent Hill,” says lead designer Bill Gardner. A slew of problems, from too small a development team to technical issues with the game’s engine (the Lithtech engine from No One Lives Forever), resulted in an ever-decreasing scope for what would be possible in the final version of the game. When it was finished in 2003, The Lost was only a shadow of the game Irrational had envisioned. Rather than risk the studio’s reputation, the game was simply not released. “The fact that we make games that people can count on the quality of is important to us,” Levine tells us. “You couldn’t guarantee sales, but you control quality a lot more than you control commercial success. While I think this game had some really cool stuff in it, we just couldn’t get the tech working in a way that would be competitive. I’m not going to kid you, the game is not good…I realized that we just weren’t going to make fans happy. It just didn’t work…as a company, confidence-wise, it really almost sunk us.”Thankfully, Irrational’s bad experience with The Lost didn’t destroy the team’s will to make a console game. In fact, Irrational next console project would be hailed as one of the most ambitious and innovative video game achievements: BioShock. “We had to say to ourselves, ‘There’s no reason we can’t make a successful console game’ after having this experience,” admits Levine. “We had to just put The Lost behind us and move on to BioShock and say ‘Look, we can do this now.’ Because this really tested us. We ate the emotional and financial cost, and we moved on.”
To see concept art from The Lost and read the first page of a cutscene script, take a look at the image gallery below. After that, you can head over to our Irrational Hub for even more features about the unique studio. If you want more insight about what goes on behind the scenes at Irrational, check out its new webpage at irrationalgames.com.
Email the author Joe Juba, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
I'd love to play this, just to see what it'd be like.
Thats some badass concept art
Sound's a lot like Dante's Inferno. But this came first.
Interesting idea. I'd like to see them revisit it someday.
Maybe Irrational could give away some of the copies of The Lost. Only they could withhold a game because it didn't fit with them.
Also, this is the second time Irrational made a game before it came out, first they did Left4Dead before Left4Dead, and then they did Dante's Inferno before Dante's Inferno.
Man, Bioshock was so amazing, it's a shame so many other Irrational project never released.
Whats with the wiggling sword in the last picture.
the concept art is great, definitely creepy and surreal. i'm totally intrigued.
ahhh who knows maybe it was for the best!
You forgot a part:
Then some NightWalker from EA was digging through the trash after he had been laid off found this game and gave it to EA to recieve pension let us pray for this mans soul
This sounds far more interesting than their unreleased zombie shooter; a concept they could perhaps achieve with modern technology?
@BatmanPrime the parallels to Dante's Inferno are quite far and in between; especially seeing as they appeared to be striving for a survival horror/exploration puzzle solving game rather than an over the top action game drawing its lore directly from classic texts. Just saying.
u never know, sometimes games can be revived
'Also, this is the second time Irrational made a game before it came out, first they did Left4Dead before Left4Dead, and then they did Dante's Inferno before Dante's Inferno.'
Irrational Games could have made truly some great games besides Bioshock and System Shock if these games made it through stores. What a shame!
wow sounds like something they should revisit and fix.
this game kind of reminds me of dantes inferno.....alot like dantes inferno.......litteraly.
Haha I remember reading the preveiw GI did for this game, I think it was the first issue I got. Whenever I hear of games being unfinished, this one always come to mind
They had a whole lot of scrapped projects before they struck gold with Bioshock
An inferior product.................................
Good for them for not releasing a game they didn't find to their standards if all companies did this than we wouldn't be left with so many fantastic movie based games hell all the bad games really and you know what many companies that are out of business would probably still be in business now...