In part one, I talked about the birth of Come Midnight. This here second, final part is about its life and death.
Time to open the floodgates and see what we’ve managed to do during the year and a half or so of the development. Here are the documents, art and videos!
Lets start with the latter…
Note that everything you see here is about fifteen years old. Translated to human years, that’s like an entire era. Or three. In 2005-2006, Come Midnight looked fantastic. Obviously that’s not quite the case anymore.
The videos are from an internal demo, never meant to be seen by the public. Meaning everything is janky, buggy, unfinished, full of placeholders, highly unpolished. The demo was to show the development progress to THQ, and existed for that purpose only.
Finally, we’ve grabbed the videos straight from Xbox 360 (THQ wanted a proof that the game could run on consoles, so PC wasn’t an option) with a pretty shitty capture hardware. Hence the low quality. But it’s the only thing I have.
That’s how we imagined the game chapters would be linked, with a pulpy comic book story:
Here’s the prologue segment, showing one possible path. I was playing in god mode, which is why I managed to survive all these traps.
Funny story about that ending is that THQ reacted with “aw hell no that ain’t happening!”. For the final release, we were forbidden to show a cigarette and a child in the same frame. Hashtag sad.
Another link comes in:
And after that we have the opening segment of the game:
And that’s how it all was supposed to begin. The cop car would take Mike to a rich man’s mansion to help police investigate a murder case, and then…
I spent a year writing tons of documents.
Obviously there were many more, and all of them went through multiple revisions. An example of a different kind of document is the storyboard for the opening cinematic (you can download the entire PDF here!):
And we had maps for everything:
Long story short – and trust me, it is a long story – we had the entire game designed from start to finish.
That design was, of course, accompanied by tons of concept art (e.g. by Maciek Kuciara, Krzysztof Bielenin, Bartłomiej Gaweł or Maciej Wojtala). Here’s a couple of characters (no, I’m not showing the uncensored Elisabeth, yes, I do have the original printed and framed):
Most of the locations also had their concept art done, from something you might have seen in real life…
For some of characters the story featured click here.
Bonus: a short video with some of these characters in:
Hopefully from this little post you can see that the game was well into production when it was cancelled. Of course I didn’t show everything, there are also sounds, music, animations, mo-caps…
..etc. etc. — but the point is: a year more, maybe two (I mean, let’s be honest, it’s two), and Come Midnight would have seen the light of day.
So, why was the project cancelled?
We don’t really have an idea. I know it’s hard to believe, but hey, welcome to the world of AAA.
Rumour was that THQ was getting out of the development in Europe and they were killing European projects left and right. Supposedly, it was between us and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. They chose the latter, and, to be fair, that was probably the right choice.
They are not the only ones to blame, though. Our own biggest mistake was trying to make a multi-platform game on our own engine (we should have used an existing one like Unreal) while growing a company from 20 to 70-80 during our very first AAA project. That was just too much, I guess.
But I am very proud of the team. A few of us are in The Astronauts now, a few are still with People Can Fly, some went to US to work with Epic, some went to other studios or started a different career (like concept art for Hollywood). I hope that despite the horror of cancellation, they still cherish the memories and the work we’ve done.
The rights to Come Midnight are with THQ Nordic/Embracer now. Realistically, it’s never gonna happen.
I still want to go back to pulp noir in the future, though, but that’s a whole different story for another time.