Back in August 2012 I started a series of articles entitled, “What Could Have Been…”, which detailed the way some of our favourite films could have played out if different decisions had been made during the production process. Now I’m turning my attention to video games that will never see the light of day.
In this piece I am going to talk about the LucasArts title, Indiana Jones & The Staff Of Kings. But that’s already a published game I hear you cry! Yes, it was finally released in 2009 for the Nintendo Wii, DS, Playstation 2 and PSP. The only reason it was released on those platforms was because they were developed by external studios. LucasArts themselves were hard at work on internally developing the game for Xbox360 and Playstation 3. So what happened?
The game was first publicly announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3 for short) in 2005. In the following youtube clip you’ll see LucasArts talk about the project which had already been in development for a year at that point. All they could show at this early stage was concept art and renders of playable environments. (The Indiana Jones discussion starts at the 2:00 minute mark.)
The following year at E3 2006, LucasArts returned with more footage from the game, this time showing actual gameplay. They were showcasing their new gaming technology called Euphoria developed by NaturalMotion. This allowed for what is sometimes known as ragdoll physics. When characters and objects within the game come into contact, they react naturally without the need for pre-rendered animations.
For example if you punched a bad guy who twisted and fell onto a table, the Euphoria engine would calculate and animate the the fall onto the table. Because this was calculated every time, the big selling point was that no two animations would be the same and it would always look realistic.
The game was supposed to be released sometime during 2007 but it didn’t show. At this time it was also announced that a fourth Indiana Jones film was in production for release in 2008. Many assumed the game was delayed to tie in with the new film.
The following year with Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull release imminent and still no signs of a game, many felt that it had been cancelled. A July 2008 interview with Dailygame, a LucasArts representative dismissed those rumours stating that the game was, “very deep into development.”, the team was “working very actively” to bring the game up to form and that “the game looks great.”
In early 2009 LucasArts released the following trailer for the game.
Personally, I was very excited and had been eagerly awaiting this game as I am a big Indiana Jones fan. So imagine my crushing disappointment when at the end of the trailer you’ll notice there is no logo for either Xbox or Playstation 3.
LucasArts finally revealed a short time after that the Xbox and Playstation 3 versions of the game were cancelled. No official explanation was given but it’s believed that LucasArts were giving priority to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which uses the same Euphoria technology. This led to development delays and further problems with production.
Interestingly a novel also titled Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings was going to be released as a tie in for the video game. The publisher Del Ray were all set to release the book when LucasArts announced a year long delay to the game release date. LucasArts however did not officially contact Del Ray of this change.
The books author Rob MacGregor tried to contact his editor and inform them but it was met with deaf ears as surely LucasArts would tell them of this. The game was finally released with no sign of the book. Instead of releasing the book belatedly, Del Ray decided it wasn’t worth releasing it at all!
LucasArts allegedly lied to a fan who questioned where the book had gone. Howard Roffman (Lucas Licensing exec and interim LEC president) told them Rob MacGregor had “missed the deadline,” despite the fact that the manuscript had been submitted an entire year before the game came out!
Finally, thanks to Unseen64.net [Link], here is a video showcasing some behind the scenes footage and early work from the game.