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Jeff Minter's Unity Cancelled

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the a-sad-day-for-ravers-everywhere dept.

GameCube (Games) 64

An anonymous reader writes "This morning, Jeff Minter officially announced the end of development on his game "Unity", which was to be published by Lionhead Studios. The post included a press release which claimed that Minter "would not be able to finish Unity in an acceptable time frame". Minter is well known as the mad genius behind Llamasoft and creator of such games as Attack of the Mutant Camels, Llamatron, and Tempest 2000. Unity was to be an "abstract shooter" based on Minter's research into lightsynths and interactive graphic musical accompaniment. Did the fact that the GameCube is nearing the end of its lifecycle contribute to the cancellation of the game, or are trippy music/shooters (ala REZ) just too weird to attain mainstream success?"

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64 comments

Both! (-1, Troll)

ayersrj (701333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055055)

Making a game for a dying platform that only .1% of the gaming population is interested in is not a great proposition, especially if you want to make money. That being said, it's all of this "making money" that's killing creativity in gaming today.

Re:Both! (2, Insightful)

dextr0us (565556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055385)

I'd really like to see the numbers, because the Gamecube owners I know are fairly loyal, and all buy 10+ games.

(plus a minute amount of piracy compared to Dreamcast, PS2, and XboX)

I bought all 10 games. (0, Troll)

vhold (175219) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055689)

At first I read that as "buy all 10 games"

Which is basically what the gamecube is like. It's a nice system, but it has soooo few platform specific good games. It feels like a dead system because it has such big lulls between blockbusting games.

Re:Both! (2, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055538)

Last time I checked the GC had about 1/10th of the sales of the PS2. Unless only 1% of the gaming population cares about the PS2 and half the world are gamers your guesstimation is wrong.
Besides, we're talking about an abstract shooter developed by Jeff Minter, not exactly something that'll outsell Madden.

Ah, guess I shouldn't feed a troll but whatever.

Re:Both! (2, Insightful)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055954)

GameCube is a close #3 in the US. [cubed-3.co.uk] You'll se that the GC comprises 20% of the US home console userbase.

And here you will see the japanese sales charts. [gamersmark.com] For this year the GC sales are about 25% of the PS2 sales.

So judging by sales numbers, about 20% cares about the GC because they own one. It is the #2 home console world wide you know.

Re:Both! (1)

realdpk (116490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056068)

Does profit mean something different in the UK English than in US English? 'cause the way I'm reading that, they're stating that the retail price for a game == profit, ignoring the cost associated.

Re:Both! (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056263)

My point was not software. The post said that 0.1% of people cared about the gamecube. The UK article showed total US console sales. (which is hard to find)

All I was trying to say is that the GameCube console has very respectable sales figures.

Re:Both! (1)

ayersrj (701333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11063543)

Sadly this was moderated down to Troll, but my point is, innovative games are usually shelves in terms of games like Mario Party 6, because those games sell much better. I mean seriously, what are the chances of me seeing Ico 2 in my lifetime? I was lucky enough to get the first one.

Re:Both! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11065531)

I mean seriously, what are the chances of me seeing Ico 2 in my lifetime?
About 1:1 [ign.com], so long as you don't absolutely insist on it being called "Ico 2."

tempest (1)

HughsOnFirst (174255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055073)

the only game I ever spent money on.
I literlay played it untill my hands were bleeding.

Re:tempest (1)

HughsOnFirst (174255) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055157)

Umm literally. Literlay would be like I lay on the floor after drinking a liter of beer playing Tempest.
Wait a second, did I just get a first post?
Probably screws up my karma or something.

Re:tempest (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055418)

"Wait a second, did I just get a first post?"

Dude, this post is a REPLY. I think the commonly used phrase here is: YOU FAIL IT.

Re:tempest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11062390)

Dude, he replied to himself. I think the commonly used phrase here is: YOU NO PAY ATTENTION.

EVERYTHING LIONHEAD TOUCHES TURNS TO CRAP (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055183)

Sorry (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055247)

So, as time t increases, the odds of the project being cancelled approach... Unity?

Oh sad day.. (2, Insightful)

XMunkki (533952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055367)

I saw some videos about Unity at the last Assembly party where Jeff held a speech about the history (and future) of his company. Looked pretty wild and I was really intrigued. The guy seemed pretty.. experienced with colors'n'stuff :). But as Jeffs post says, the main reason is that Gamecube is dying and rather than rush an unfinished crap out they decided to can it. I think this is for the better. Better to make good unique IP games than mediocre. We have licences and sequels fed to us through our noses so every quality nonmass product is a boon.

But all the good to you Jeff; hope to see if you still have the energy to start a new project!

Re:Oh sad day.. (2)

XMunkki (533952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055394)

Oh and the seminar video can be downloaded from here [edome.net]. It's the one named History_of_Llamasoft.avi (204mb).

Re:Oh sad day.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055787)

But as Jeffs post says, the main reason is that Gamecube is dying....

Jeff's post says nothing of the sort. The story submitter didn't even say that. Are you trying to troll all the Nintendo fanboys around here? The Gamecube is approaching the end of its lifecycle because in about one year the Revolution will be on store shelves. That's a lot of time, really, except that Unity was in production for two years already and was still nowhere near complete. That sounds like a pretty good reason to cancel the project to me, instead of "Gamecube is dying." If the Gamecube is dying because its successor is due in one year, then the PS2 and Xbox are dying, too.

Re:Oh sad day.. (2, Insightful)

El_Servas (672868) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055912)

Well, maybe that's what he wanted to say. :)

Besides... everything is dying. Everything.
Think about that.

Re:Oh sad day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11056540)

Well, maybe that's what he wanted to say.

If he had wanted to say that, he could have. There was no reason for him not to say exactly what he wanted to say. It wasn't even Jeff Minter who said that the Gamecube had anything to do with it. That was written by Yak, whoever that is. Apparently he works at Llamasoft. If you haven't read the article, the relevant quote follows:
...realistically it was becoming unlikely that it'd be finished in time for anyone to want to publish it on Gamecube.
To construe that anyone involved in the project is claiming that work stopped because the "Gamecube is dying" is a huge stretch, and to claim that Jeff Minter himself said that is an outright lie.

Re:Oh sad day.. (1)

Errabes (711809) | more than 9 years ago | (#11061458)

If you say everything is dying because it exists, it's somewhat true but then the meaning of dying is useless.
It's better to have a worth word, so the "dying" phase is when something is decreasing to death.
There is at least a "raise" and "apogee" phase before.
I thought it's common knowledge, but I must be new here :)

If it's the main reason, too bad he cannot adapt and finish it for the PS3 or something.
The most obvious risk here, is to have another Duke Nukem Forever...

Re:Oh sad day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11058263)

PS2: 2000 - 2006
Gamecube: 2001 - 2005

Yeah. The truth is that the Gamecube is approaching the end of its lifecycle because Nintendo can't compete in a market that's not dominated by children.

Re:Oh sad day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11058507)

People are hardly even playing PS2 NOW, why should they bother in 2006? Unless they manage to come up with yet another worthless GTA3 retread.

Re:Oh sad day.. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11058814)

The PS3 is only slated for a 2006 release because they couldn't get the chips ready in 2005. Nintendo's 2005 launch is a reaction towards Microsoft's though it isn't even sure whether Nintendo will actually launch in 2005 or wait until 2006.

Re:Oh sad day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11059160)

The PS3 is only slated for a 2006 release because they couldn't get the chips ready in 2005.
Actually Sony's been targeting a 2006 launch long before it was clear what the timetable for the Cell would be.

Re:Oh sad day.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11071608)

revolution is due in 2006... 2006. its the end of the 2004, but revolution is still close to two years off...

Re:Oh sad day.. (1)

koi88 (640490) | more than 9 years ago | (#11071789)


the main reason is that Gamecube is dying

Oh, really? Has netcraft confirmed?

(BTW, my gamecube looks pretty healthy...)

What Unity Is (Was) (2)

MiceHead (723398) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055714)

It's tough to get a feel for what Unity was all about, but as they say, a screenshot is worth a thousand words [medwaypvb.com] (scroll down). There's also a bit on VLM3 [cox.net], which they say predated the Unity project.

I still remember reading about (I believe it was) Attack of the Mutant Camels [btinternet.co.uk] in Antic/Angalog magazine during the early '80s. Unity's cancellation may be disappointing, but the fact that Jeff Minter is still involved in the industry after 20 years is, IMO, nothing put a positive.
___________________________________
Inago Rage - Create and Fight [inagorage.com]

Re:What Unity Is (Was) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055733)

That should read, "is nothing but a positive." Perhaps, after 20 years, I need to get my eyes checked.

Re:What Unity Is (Was) (1)

Black Hitler (687112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11058563)

It's tough to get a feel for what Unity was all about, but as they say, a screenshot is worth a thousand words

Those screenshots are from the VLM 3, not the actual game. There's a few screens from the game itself here [medwaypvb.com]. Doesn't look all that different from the VLM shots, except it's in a tube and with a little spaceship flying around. There were a few shakycam gameplay videos out there which showed a bit more (including actual combat and some side-scrolling sections), but I never once got a sense of what the game was about beyond that -- the victory/loss conditions, the power-up and chaining systems (if any), what role the backgrounds played beyond looking cool, etc. I like Minter but I had a hard time getting really excited about Unity with so little sense of what it was actually like. And now I guess we'll never know, unless Minter plans on telling us someday.

Re:What Unity Is (Was) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11072080)

> the fact that Jeff Minter is still involved in the industry after 20 years is,
> IMO, nothing put a positive.

Why? Most of his games are badly written rubbish - half-assed versions of genuinely playable games like Robotron, Defender etc. He appears to curse every project put his way. Perhaps Microsoft's Xbox team should try and get him a job coding for Sony?

GameCube and the End (1)

Khuffie (818093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055843)

The excuse that it's being cancelled because it won't be out in time for the GameCube is kind of...lame. A game can always be ported (sure, it might take some time, but it can be) to a next generation console. Or heck, to a PC. Or something. It sounds that there could have been some problems with the development/concepts of the game that couldn't be resolved...

Besides, who decided to make this game for the GameCube in the first place? Don't get me wrong, I love my 'Cube, but you're developing a game for a niche market, and hence should try to get that game to be available to the largest install-base available. The PS2 or PC spring to mind...but GameCube?

Re:GameCube and the End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11056105)

Well, it seems to me that the Gamecube would be perfect for a niche market.

Everyone I know who has a PS2 or Xbox always has the latest sports or car racing game. People I know who have the Gamecube (myself included) usually go for the not so common games. For example, Pikman 2, the Metroid series, Animal Crossing, and Mario Kart are all games I and my friends go for and this game would be something I'd be rather interested in. Those types of games aren't very easy to find on the other consoles.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

tezmc (188042) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056469)

In reply to the thing about porting. Jeff Minter usually does a lot of the work directly with the hardware, using a lot of tricks and loopholes unique to the particular piece of hardware he's developing for.

A port of this would probably involve an awful lot of work.

Pretty sad but understandable why this was cancelled. And I just bought a Cube 2 days ago, one of the main reasons for doing so was that Unity was because I thought Unity was going to be coming out for it.

Re:GameCube and the End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11058230)

As a modern game, there's absolutely no excuse for him to be writing directly to the hardware.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056571)

A game can always be ported (sure, it might take some time, but it can be) to a next generation console

Good point. In fact, two of the Gamecube's best games were late N64 games that they decided to release for the gamecube instead: Animal Crossing and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

kingsmedley (796795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056801)

Port Unity to a NextGen console after a GC release? I see your point, but you need to remember this is Jeff Minter we are talking about here. He does not do ports. When he brings an existing game to a new console, he does a total rewrite. And he takes a LONG time to write games for modern consoles. Jeff does a lot of the work himself. IIRC from his Atari days, he did all the work (on T2k & D2K) himself with only a pool artist for support.

As for why he chose the Gamecube... just look at his track record! He hasn't developed games for a market leading platform since his C64 days. After that, he chose the Atari ST instead of Amiga, then the Jaguar, then the Nuon. Jeff seems to get off on developing for underdog platforms.

Personally, I expect we'll see him adapt much of his work on Unity to another platform (unless he feels the game just isn't coming together with enough of a fun factor). But if the game does make the jump to another platform, then it will probably be at least three years before we finally get to play Unity.

Sigh.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

YOU LIKEWISE FAIL IT (651184) | more than 9 years ago | (#11065217)

After that, he chose the Atari ST instead of Amiga

Not so sure I agree, I recall playing Mister Minters wonderful Llamatron as a young man on the Amiga 500.

YLFI

Re:GameCube and the End (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11065526)

Most of Minter's ST games were ported to other platforms, just like Tempest 2000 was ported to the PC and Playstation.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

kingsmedley (796795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11078581)

The Amiga version was actually a port from the Atari ST. Though he didn't really go with the Atari because he preferred the hardware. Truth is, at the time he couldn't afford an Amiga. So he bought an ST, and his love affair with underdog platforms began.

Re:GameCube and the End (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11080174)

Jeff Minter preferring the ST's hardware just about says it all. It didn't HAVE any hardware. Oh, and ALL Jeff Minter ever did/does is port. He does shitty, clumsy versions of games like Robotron or Defender. And he fucks them up. He did a defender port, but forgot to implement a hyperspace!! Doh! What a loser.

Peter M. is a twat... (2)

Mishtara2001 (678818) | more than 9 years ago | (#11055981)

...that's the real reason for Unity's cancelation. It follows in the heals of the cancellation of BC a few weeks ago,
and that in turn follows Lionhead raising a fairly big amount of venture capital a couple of months ago
(see here: http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=56 983 ).

Peter is the real problem, he is a bit like the British games industry's own Ozzy Osbourn, only without the swearing drugs, and hair ;-)
Knowing people who work for him, arises an impression of the talented, tortured designer who is rapidly approaching 50 and worries that his glory days are behind him.

Lionhead is a great company full of talented people who work in fantastic conditions at least compared to the rest of the industry here in the UK, but they are castrated by his "overzealousness", he has to be involved in everything, no one else can come with ideas...
And the way he treated his "satellite studios" (like the developers of BC and Unity) leaves much to be desired, even for the cruelest of publishers.

Maybe he does it just to get good, innovative ideas and teams, and than make sure they "will never have lunch in this city again"?

Re:Peter M. is a twat... (1)

samael (12612) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056601)

Alternatively, BC wasn't going to be ready in time for the XBox, and was therefore canned. And Unity wasn't going to be ready in time for the GC and was therefore canned.

If either one was likely to make money, it would have been carried on...

Re:Peter M. is a twat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11057498)

I have heard the same things about him from former colleagues. Fable's underperformance, BC's cancellation, Unity's cancellation... it's becoming quite the trend.

Re:Peter M. is a twat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11059233)

B.C. was canceled because it was shite. Simple as that.

Re:Peter M. is a twat... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11060539)

And Fable should have been canceled when KOTOR was released, and was already everything Fable was promised to be (and wasn't).

Minter's touch of death... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11055990)

...has been avoided! Hurray!
Sorry, but as much as I like the trippy graphics of Unity, but I never saw much of a game in it. What has he been doing all the time?

Re:Minter's touch of death... (1)

Cecil (37810) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056095)

What has he been doing all the time?

Probably "researching" trippy graphics.

Re:Minter's touch of death... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11056141)

And probably "playing" with his sheep...

Re:Minter's touch of death... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11056364)

Or mucking about pretending to be something special when all he's done is create a pretty light show (Tempest) and an incredibly bog-standard (even in those days) side-scrolling title (Attack Of The Mutant Camels).

He must be a God to do that. I could probably name twenty coders who have had a more positive effect on the British coding scene that Minter. When was the last time he actually *finished* a project that was available to the mass market?

Tempest on Nuon? Greeeeeat...

Re:Minter's touch of death... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11065538)

When was the last time he actually *finished* a project that was available to the mass market?
2002. GOSH THAT WAS HARD [llamasoft.co.uk]

Disappointment (1)

Saige (53303) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056144)

I have to say I was really looking forward to Unity. T2K and D2K kept me entertained for many, many hours on the Jaguar, and made sure I didn't regret buying the console or the games.

When I saw the last videos, I was just amazed, sure this would be one incredible game, and probably break new ground.

Too bad... I really would love to find a new, trippy, unique game.

Re:Disappointment (1)

MilenCent (219397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056536)

Ditto. I was just thinking yesterday, when is Unity finally going to come out? Here's hoping his work into it will find fruit in some other project (that'll also be available for a system I won't mind owning).

Ah well. Back to ZANAC.

Gamecube is dead, get an Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11056377)

Gamecube is dead, get an Xbox

Re:Gamecube is dead, get an Xbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11061426)

Yes, my cube is dying but there is no way I am getting a big, ugly and noisy Xbox. Even if I want to play Gotham Racing and Halo Live I am holding out for the next generation systems.

Sales have never been an issue for Llamasoft (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 9 years ago | (#11056672)

I mean the last game he wrote was for Nuon enabled DVD players - the gamecube has a gigantic audience in comparison.

Re:Sales have never been an issue for Llamasoft (1)

petee moobaa (162198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11063320)

Ummmm... he *did* write some games for the Pocket PC (which later got ported to the PC), you know...

Trippy games (1)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 9 years ago | (#11058353)

"...are trippy music/shooters (ala REZ) just too weird to attain mainstream success?"

As long as there is marijuana and home video game systems, these type of games have a guaranteed audience!

REZ (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 9 years ago | (#11062179)

Maybe it would have been more successful if it came with the um...peripherals...that REZ had.

Re:REZ (1)

ZzzzSleep (606571) | more than 9 years ago | (#11069485)

Quoth Lord Dqweomer
Maybe it would have been more successful if it came with the um...peripherals...that REZ had.
If you'd like some more details about the um... peripherals, see the GameGirlAdvance review [gamegirladvance.com].

Rez wins! (1)

robbway (200983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11072612)

In a very small, unofficial, biased event, a 3-hour videogame marathon in a college theater, Rez was the most popular! Believe it or not.

The PS2 games played were: Soul Calibur II, Beatmania IIDX 8th Style, Amplitude, and Rez. Rez had the pick-up-and play quality and was extremely "trippy" on the big screen. Soul Calibur II was 2nd place.

I'm not sure it's fair to discount Rez, it just didn't get the exposure it needed.
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