Throughout 1990s Totally Games had one of the most accomplisheded track records in all video games. The studio, which released games for Lucasfilm and then Lucasarts, specialized in all things flying and won recognition for releases that take place both in the sky and far beyond.
They created their name on cclassic WW2 Sims like Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe and Their Finest HourBefore really turns on the big time a number of Star Wars titles such as X-Wing, Tie Fighter and X-Wing Alliancewhich was not just three of the best space shooters ever released, the were three of the best pc games ever, period.
In the 2000s, however, things had started to go a little wrong. While the 2002s Star Trek: Bridge Commander was OK, their return to Second World Win 2003 with Secret weapons over Normandy flopped, and after 2007’s catastrophic Alien syndrome that studio switched to publishing cheap licensed tuff before it quietly disappeared.
At least that’s the story as we know it, but today we got added when Axios published a report on Knights of Decaydena game that Totally first launched for Sony as a PS2 releaseand later worked on for Microsoft for the original Xbox.
While it was still primarily a flying game – it was the studio’s bread and butter –Knights switched X-Wings and Spitfires to a fantasy realm where players “controlled a knight on a flying seahorse and engaged in distance battles against other knights and monsters, lance-based slow motion diving and underwater diving to combat sea creatures. “
Here’s a look at the game in action; Note that this was not near a finished product when this recording was taken, hence the frame rate and other obvious shortcomings (and the fact that it was called Archipelago at the time):
So what happened to the game? It was developed on a really tight time frame, in a situation where the Totally Games team did not trust the Microsoft people they reported to; as an example, Holland remembers one Xbox boss “had previously managed the Excel spreadsheet program ”.
On Microsoft’s side, there’s an interesting anecdote about the game’s fate: when current Xbox boss Phil Spencer first moved to console operations in 2001,“the first task he had when he joined the Xbox game team was tocancel Larry Holland’s game ‘”.
The cancellation was not terminal at the time; Totally would continue to release a few more games before switching away from traditional game development in 2008. Holland says he found the game’s death as “demoralizing”, but also something where “I learned a lot about what to try and what not to do in terms of risk-taking and at least balancing risk-taking with the schedule.”
You can read the full report on Axioswhich you should because it has lots of other little bits of trivia about both this game and the Totally Games itself.