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.
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Too bad all companies arent willing to cut their losses to uphold their reputation like that. Thats very respectable.
@ Da Chief: hey thanks for helping to make Xbox people look super smart! I mean sure this or any other game came before Dante's Inferno... (yeah yeah, there's a Dante's game, but it and this game are both similar to the book from the Divine Comedies, which is only a few centuries old).
Then again what do Halo fans know? Certainly not their ass from their elbow.
Oh ***, sorry, forgot fans of the Chief thought that game was original too... oh well, forget what I said.
Ack, there's another *** person on this thread who doesn't see how they can "do Dante, before Dante's Inferno (the game) did Dante" : the specific gameplay is not the question, it's the themes in the game that Bats is referring to.
I think they should try to revisit this concept. Zelda meets Silent Hill sounds like an awesome game to me!
I'd like to play it if it's done. Maybe they could release it on Playstation Network.
irrational games is an amazing developer, to bad this other gem didn't go through
I actually saw an early build of this game when I went out to Irrational way back when.
They were definitely already down the development road, with running levels and everything. I remember that the premise struck me as interesting, but gameplay-wise I don't think I was blown away. Since then, of course, things have come a long way in that department, so it's hard to knock it too much in hindsight.
At that time the game was maybe six months out, and the rest is history.
I also saw Freedom Force at the same visit, and I remember thinking that the game could be pretty cool because of all the work they'd put into creating the characters' backstories.
By the looks of the artwork, The Lost could've sold a decent amount and amass some cash.
I would like to play it too.
i waited forever for this game to come out... then it didn't. and after seeing a video of it on youtube, i glad it didn't.
Nice concept art! Methinks this game would have been interesting!
Well at least were getting a game sort of like this soon. (Dante's Inferno). It was probably a pretty good decision to eat the losses because that has to be a pretty big decision for a developer to finish a game, then decide to not release it because it's just not that good. That's a bold move for Irational.
Irrational is quickly becoming my favorite developer, Ken Levine made a pretty bold move to scrap the game, and to think that he did it because he didn't want to give players a bad quality video, very respectable I say.
Some interesting comcept art. It would have been very interesting. I guess they got used to working with the weird and crazy before going onto Bioshock.
Woah, Zelda meets Silent Hill?
How could they have scrapped such a brilliant idea?!
I recall being really, really psyched about this when it was first announced. I was going to get it day one, but I can't fault Irrational for scrapping it if it wasn't good.
Here's REALLY hoping they revisit the concept in future.
I'd like to see them take a shot at making this game again. Seems interesting and different. Zelda meets Silent Hill is a trip worth taking for me especially after finishing Bioshock. That game was amazing
division 9 looked cool but this looks kinda weird
I remember the screens for this game in PSM way back in '01. I always wondered what happened to it, and I was geeked to see it in the latest GI.