My Favorite Failed Game Projects

From a young age, I was exposed to Sierra and LucasArts adventure games, and became completely enamored with Quest for Glory and Space Quest. I’d spend hours exploring every nook and cranny, finding many ways to die along the way.

At some point, I learned about a nifty little tool called Adventure Game Studio, which provided everything a person needs to develop retro-style adventure games. You could map sprites and animations to characters, make people walk around and say things in dramatic sequences, and even build a custom point and click interface from scratch.

Here’s a peanut gallery of some of my failed personal projects. This is not a comprehensive list! There are a number of games that don’t have any assets on the web anymore. I’m actively scouring the web for them, but haven’t had much luck. Keep in mind, the art assets in each of these are pretty unpolished, because game development for me was more of a sandbox where I learned to improve my skills along the way.

Space Quest 3 VGA

Somewhere into my early years of using the tool, I decided to try and collaborate with a bunch of volunteers to develop a VGA remake of Space Quest 3. Because when you’re 15 years old and want to start up a game development team, fan games seem like a great way to bootstrap.

Space Quest 3: The Pirates of Pestulon VGA Remake

The remarkable thing about this is that our development efforts were organized entirely on a forum, and we had no easy way of managing code or assets. It was basically a long process of attaching things to a forum message, pinging the right person who needed it, and uploading archived builds of the game for people to test out.

Eventually, that project petered out, and the upload services for assets all went dead. As a favor, a copy of one of these early builds was held by Steve from Infamous Adventures. Although it’s not the final product of what we released, it does give some insight into the implementation and general art direction.

No One Likes You

No One Likes You (or NOLY for short) was an edgelord comedy game that I developed during my years lurking on the Linsux forums. At the time, I was going through a major breakup with someone, and developing a game served as a welcome distraction.

The premise of NOLY is relatively simple: you’re an emo kid named Peter, you have ultraconservative religious parents that aren’t happy with how you’re living your life, you’re failing at school, and you’re not particularly popular. It’s your last two weeks of the semester, how do you turn everything around?

In a way, the game was meant to be a response to Willy Beamish, replacing the hip kid in a wholesome 90’s family with a depressed kid in a dysfunctional 2000’s one. Same as Space Quest, I constantly uploaded new builds to a forum for people to play with. I actually got pretty far with developing this one, but a hard drive crash led to me losing all of the game data and art assets.

Sojurn: City of Meteors

Sojurn remains a game that I wish I could go back to and finish. Realistically, very little code ever got committed for the project, but I spent a lot of time with plot development and world-building. It served as a love letter to games like Space Quest, but was intended to take a much more serious tone…generally…

Yeah, that’s right. His mohawk spikes go outside of his helmet. His hairgel freezes to plug the holes in his helmet.

The basic premise of Sojurn is that humanity is finally living in space, Star Trek-style…but, economic and environmental problems have effectively caused the Earth to become a toxic wasteland. Human beings have yet to wander out of its own solar system, as technology never advanced enough for interstellar travel. This new society relies largely on mining and barter, struggling to keep the lights on and life-support systems running.

Sprite sheet and character tests.

You play a young man named Billy, a grumpy punk who works for a waste management company. Your mission is to go from station to station picking up trash and toxic waste, fighting sewer mutants and uncovering a huge conspiracy along the way.

Why am I sharing these failed projects with you? Well, truth be told, I still love them for what they were. Game development was a great hobby in my teenage years, and my hope is that one day I might be able to revisit these different projects and maybe re-make them.

The biggest take-away, of course: BACK UP YOUR FILES.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *