PSM EXCLUSIVE

Gen13

Cancelled game

A computer lab technician working on a top secret weapon for the government was planning to steal the information and sell it to Ivana for a king’s ransom. With the help of Queelocke, the Gen13 team will scour the globe in attempt to retrieve the CD’s before Ivana. It is up to the player to succeed, gathering as many CD’s as possible. Ivana’s troops won’t give up easy, however, and are bound to snag a few CD’s themselves. It is inevitable that the Gen13 team will face Ivana in the end to re-capture the final CD’s.

Gen13

According to an Electronic Arts press release on February 1, 1996 EA signed an agreement with WildStorm Productions for the exclusive worldwide interactive software rights to the stories and characters in the wildly-popular “Gen 13” comic book series.

The license granted EA exclusive rights to develop a series of 2-D and 3-D action-adventure interactive entertainment software products based on the Gen13 comic book series for personal computers, Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and other advanced entertainment platforms.

EA’s games will feature the comic book’s seemingly average teenagers – the Gen13 – who are actually missing subjects from a top-secret government experiment to create super-humans. Escaping from their keepers, the youths are labeled as fugitives who pose a national security threat to the United States. Their only hope for survival is to use their newly-found powers to battle their enemies and to learn the secrets of their past. The Gen13 are kids on their own just trying to have fun – when they’re not running from spies or saving the world.

Gen13 comics, developed by the creative team of Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell (creator of Danger Girl) and Brandon Choi, had been at the top of the best-seller charts since their introduction in February 1994. According to Gen13 creator Jim Lee, WildStorm Productions received mMock up of Next Generation magazine created by the design teamany high cash offers for the license before settling on EA. Acclaim Entertainment was rumored to have been one of the disappointed bidders. In commenting on the agreement, Jim Lee said, “It’s exciting to be working with a company like Electronic Arts. They’ve got a great track record for developing awesome games. Having met with the producers before signing the deal, both J. Scott Campbell and I have every confidence that they can deliver a fast-action game that captures the look and feel of the Gen13 comic book series, as well as the humor and playfulness of the characters.”

High Score Productions, the studio responsible for Madden NFL 95 and NHL 95, were in charge of producing and designing the Gen13 game. The high level concept was that the Gen13 video game will deliver the detail, depth and play-control of Mario, the great platform/shooter dynamic of Earthworm Jim, the hard-core action of Street Fighter and an adrenalizing soundtrack of heart-thumping techno and contemporary modern rock- with all the mind-blowing artwork and spectacular characters that only the Gen 13 universe can offer!

THE GAMEPLAY:
The normal gameplay engine will be similar to that of Earthworm Jim where the player controls at least one of the five different Gen13 characters. There are also “team-up” levels where the AI controls additional players on the screen. In the case of a two-player game, both characters will be actively controlled.

In addition to side scrolling fighting/shooting, the engine will be designed to be flexible, allowing for a variety of scenarios such as: vertical shooter, static screen action, zoomed in cinematic sequences, zoomed out view of gameplay, and forced scrolling action.

The boss combat engine will be a dynamic 3-D environment where the characters can cruise around in an arena. The closer the character is to the “boss,” the closer the camera will be. The camera will zoom out respectively when the characters are apart.

CHARACTER DESIGN:
All your favorite Gen13 characters are in the game, each with their own special moves and animation. WildStorm Productions sent EA visual character specifications in order to ensure that the characters are intricately and properly portrayed.

The Gen13 characters can't get by on their good looks and sparkling personalities alone. Throughout the game will be various ways to help the player survive, in the form of traditional gameplay "power-ups." Of course, Gen13 offers that extra twist: The Ultra Move. The most potent powerup in the game is the "Ultra Move." Each character has only one "Ultra Move" hidden somewhere in the levels of the game. The "Ultra Move" is the ultimate manifestation of a character's Gen Active power.

BOSS DESIGN:
The design team asked Jim Lee and J. Scott Campbell to create the bosses for each of the levels. They have also been commissioned to create the mother of all end bosses to climax the Gen13 game. The mother of all bosses will require true teamwork from all of the Gen13 characters in order to defeat. The game ending boss would be introduced in comic form in an upcoming Gen13 series. A possible marketing ploy would be to offer a secret code that is unlocked upon completion of the game that will allow the player to send away for a poster of the mighty end boss.

LEVEL DESIGN:
Levels will provide diverse physics and game mechanics to give a variety of challenging gameplay experiences. Levels on skates, on ice, driving vehicles, flying, swimming, or climbing will give the user several types of gameplay to master. The different areas of Gen13 will be truly living and breathing environments. Locations will be chosen not only for good gameplay and storyline, but for exciting and realistic visuals. 25 levels were designed conceptually, many of which were drawn out for the developer. Some of the levels include the Grunge and Freefall traveling to Las Vegas in “Viva Las Vegas”, Fairchild discovering an underground complex under the city in "Down In It", Grunge saving Freefall from One-Eyed Jack in “No Tut In Common,” and Freefall loose in a shopping mall after hours in “Mall Maul.”

BONUS:
Arcade classic bonus games will be hidden throughout the Gen13 game. The games will be spoofs of famous arcade games that are recognized by all. The goal of the bonus games is to score points to earn extra lives. 

MUSIC:
Possible licensees for music included: Thomas Dolby, Mark Mothersbaugh (the genius responsible for Crash Bandicoot), and most favorably, the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

DEVELOPMENT HISTORY:
With the design documents completed, EA proceeded to entertain bids from possible developers. Potential developers included Evolutionary Publishing (Fox Hunt), Realtime Associates (Crusader: No Remorse, Iron Man & XO in Heavy Metal), and Gray Matter Inc. (Perfect Weapon). Each developer submitted technical demos for review. It is important to understand that developers have concurrent projects in progress while technical demos are being created and some have more time and resources to dedicate on this than others. The technical demos are not to be taken as indication of how the resulting gameplay would be.
Evolutionary Publishing submitted two progressive interactive technical demos of Rainmaker and Qeelocke. Both demos allowed the user to move the character in a platform environment. The backdrop was from the “Viva Las Vegas” level. The more recent demo allowed Rainmaker to scale the wall of the pyramid in Las Vegas. Evolutionary Publishing decided to utilize 2D sprites for the characters whereas the following two competing developers used 3D models.

Realtime Associates submitted a playable demonstration of their progress in representing Freefall as a real-time rendered 3D model. This demo was put together in less than a week and if given a few more days, the developer could make substantial improvements in the following areas:

Implement Gouraud shading on the model. This will help make Freefall seem much more smooth and well rounded-out.
More work on the walk animation. She needs to have a much more sensual/sexual feeling in her movement.
Improved head, face, and hair. In general she needs another revision in the art and model to make her look and feel more like Freefall. Realtime states that she was textured with not the most pleasing of expressions on her face, eyes, and lips.
This demo was to give the publisher a sense as to the high level of quality they expect from Realtime and the team, as well as a feel for the kind of personal passion they have for this project. If this is a representative of what they can do in a week, just imagine what they could deliver as a final product!

Gray Matter Inc. submitted a non-interactive art demo to illustrate the graphics style of the various Gen13 characters including an end boss as well as a fly through to the "Down In It" level. The graphics captured the essence of the design documents and ultimately Gray Matter was chosen as the developer.

CANCELLATION:
After just a few months of programming, Gray Matter developed two polished interactive levels, an arena mode, and FMV for both the PlayStation and PC. Three different characters were created for the two side-scrolling levels as well as enemies. Four characters and an enemy Boss were programmed for the Arena mode. Below are screenshots from the interactive PlayStation beta versions.

Unfortunately the agreement between Gray Matter and Electronic Arts reached an impasse due to business politics. As a result Gray Matter closed down therefore ceasing all projects and all employees losing their jobs. Due to the amount of money spent and the popularity of Gen13 wavering, EA decided it was not financially feasible to engage another developer and instead decided to cut their losses. Fortunately many of the former Gray Matter employees who lost their jobs were hired by EA Canada and went on to develop Knockout Kings.

GALLERY

If you are able to add more information about the development history of this game, please contact the PlayStation Museum.

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