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While not really a part of the Ecstatica series, Urban Decay was a another project by Andrew Spencer Studios which eventually got cancelled. Work on it began shortly after the release of the original Ecstatica but the project was put on hold in favor of Ecstatica II. Early footage showed that the game would again use ellipsoid visuals, however, when work was continued after Ecstatica II's release the team had already moved on to new and more conventional vector based technology. Soon after internal problems involving the departure of multiple employees lead to the cancellation of the project and ultimately Andrew Spencer Studios was shut down.

Urban Decay Screenshot 00

Urban Decay would have featured an extremely high level of violence including splatter effects and gruesome death animations.

ScenarioEdit

Urban Decay screenshot 01

Facial animations allowed to present a variety of emotions.

As the title suggests the game would have taken place in dark and mature urban setting, more specifically in a ghetto located in a modern major city, inhabited by a variety of different people such as gangsters, drug dealers, pimps, prosititutes and corrupt cops as well as civilians who are just trying to get by. The world was supposed to show moral and material decay as it can be seen in poor districts in the real world.

The plot involved a man being pursued by the police for a crime he did not commit and who thus tried to hunt down the real culprit. It is said that the works of John Woo and Quentin Tarantino were the main inspirations.

TechnologyEdit

Urban Decay screenshot 03

Like in Ecstatica custom animations would have been used to allow many unique actions and scripted sequences.

At first the game was supposed to be based an an advanced version of the technology found in the original Ecstatica. It would again make massive use of ellipsoids for the depiction of characters, all kinds of objects and the environment but with improved visual quality and additional features such as advanced facial expressions and lipsynching. Also ragdoll effects were included at some stage of development. After the release of Ecstatica II the technology had shifted to more common vector graphics.

GameplayEdit

Urban Decay screenshot 02

The protagonist would have dealt not only with gangsters but also the police.

It is known that the action would have again been shown from fixed camera angles and that this time ranged combat with modern firearms would have been present, including the ability to take cover behind objects. Also stealth elements were to be found in the game including gruesome execution moves. While Ecstatica was largely an adventure game Urban Decay would have predominantly been a third person shooter.

The world was supposed to be larger and more open than in Ecstatica and the story unlinear. The city was going to be inhabited not only by enemies but also neutral NPCs and the player would have been free to decide how to interact with many of them, facing consequences for his choices. Killing civilians would increase the law enforcement's attempts to capture the protagonist and also make SWAT teams hunt the player.

Multiplayer was also a planned feature. Players were supposed to be able to fight each other as well as take on the AI-controlled gangsters cooperatively.

Reasons for CancellationEdit

Different reasons for the cancellation were reported. First the project was shelved in favor of Ecstatica II. When work on the project continued, several employees left Andrew Spencer Studios. Additionally, despite having developed many impressive features, the team had trouble making serious progress with the project as a whole. Ultimately the relationship to Psygnosis supposedly suffered seriously at some point which may have resulted in the company abandoning support for the project which ultimately lead to Andrew Spencer Studios' shutdown.

StatementsEdit

There are a few statements from people on the web who were either directly involved in the project or had some other kind of insight.

The first could be found on the now defunct website PC Games That Weren't and comes from Pygnosis' composer Mike Clarke who had this to say:

Urban Decay screenshot 04

Not only the game's plot was inspired by high budget action flicks.

Ah yes, Urban Decay. [...] There were loads of tech demos done and the game looked amazing. It was still a bit “Alone in the Dark” in parts with fixed camera locations, but was very good. It was pretty much the first proper adult game I’d seen, with swearing and “proper” violence in it. The stuff I saw was character anims synced to voice overs, some rag-doll demos (guy would fall down a set of stairs after you shot him), and a warehouse scene where you could stealthily walk up to someone from behind and slit their throat, or lean out from behind crates shooting with a gun in each hand. The only thing that I remember hearing was that they couldn’t make a good enough game out of it. They had all of these bits and pieces of “cool stuff”, but took too long to get anything together into a coherent whole. It was a great shame because it was the game that I was looking forward to the most out of all of the games of that era.

Another statement can still be found on Unseen 64 and comes from the development team's artist and in-game programmer Ken Doyle:

Urban Decay screenshot 05

The protagonist looking back one last time before the project's cancellation.

I did work on it. The ol memory’s a bit dim but basically various issues assailed and eventually sunk the project. Firstly the main creative and design force behind the game, a guy called Eamon Butler left to pursue a successful career at Disney. He became frustrated with endless requests for design and style changes. It was originally due to be an ellipsoid game but later changed over to a more regular poly look for the sake of realism. Urban Decay was shelved so work on Ecstatica 2 could begin. We returned to Urban Decay but the studios relationship with Psygnosis soured and that was that. Studio closed and we all moved on. That’s about it. Hope this helps.

SourcesEdit

Urban Decay on Unseen 64
Urban Decay on PC Games That Weren't (mirrored by the Way Back Machine)