Earlier this week a mid-2000’s South Park game, completely unknown to the public beforehand, was revealed in a YouTube video that quickly went viral. The two you see below (who run a Web video series called “Happy Console Gamer”) picked up a developer’s XBox (the original) at a trade show and discovered, among other unreleased things, the game showcased in the video below.
It looks to be an attempt at creating a South Park version of The Simpsons: Hit and Run, which was in turn a clone of GTA. It was clearly cancelled in its early stages, with some environments lacking textures and others sporting textures created on the cheap — parts of the pavement were simply a black background with “PAVEMENT” written on it, and Stan’s house was just a giant red block with the words “STANS’S HOUSE” in giant letters. There weren’t a lot of places you could go — in some areas the game would freeze and in others cars one drove would sink into the ground. The players were able to view much of the environment, though, by using the free-range camera that was part of the debug tools still in the game.
A few days after the video was posted, Marshall Gause, who worked as senior designer on the revealed game, spoke to the website VentureBeat and told them the full story behind its existence. Viewers were correct in assuming they were making a GTA clone, but this was after the project had already been pulled in several different directions.
“It was overly ambitious,” said Gause. “It had platforming, it had combat, cars, and it kind of suffered from an external publisher that was all over the place in terms of what he wanted. I think ultimately the publisher really didn’t know what they wanted it to be, and we kind of suffered from having an overactive, over-involved producer. He used to call people late at night and bug them about things and was constantly coming up with new brainstorms. I think he was trying to please several masters.”
Gause also told VentureBeat these kind of abandoned games are more common than most realize. “I’ve seen projects get pulled for a variety of reasons. Sometimes just because they think it’s franchise saturation. It seems with publishers, all the projects are competing with each other, so publishers make strategic decisions about which ones they want to put their marketing buy on.”