From The Vault: The Lost

by ig.eduardo on November 15 2011

19 comments

You may have seen our previous installment of From The Vault featuring the art of the ditched Irrational Games project The Lost, but the story doesn’t end there. The Lost was in development for a while, but things weren’t quite panning out for the game. We sat down with Irrational Games Design Director Bill Gardner to guide us through this experience and get a better idea of what happened to The Lost.

Just after the launch of System Shock 2, Irrational Games had the opportunity to make its first console game, and the team had something just in mind. The Lost was Irrational’s new adventure being built for the PlayStation 2, and eventually the XBox, incorporating influences from across the spectrum. “The Lost was a bit of everything,” Gardner recalls about the adventure/horror project. “It was Silent Hill meets Zelda meets Devil May Cry in the sense that it was a series of levels in linear fashion, but within the levels, there was freedom.”

In the summer of 2003, the small team finished production on The Lost, but it was never published in North America. In the end, Irrational decided the game wasn’t up to their quality standards.

In 2005, things changed for The Lost when Irrational’s Creative Director Ken Levine met the CEO of a development studio in India called FXLabs. This fellow was hoping to bring more of the gaming industry to the Indian market. The pitch was to take the final finished version of The Lost, port it to PC only, and repurpose the game for the Indian market. The idea was approved, and localization of this port was under way.

“They spent about a year or so after we gave them all game assets and they periodically checked in,” says Gardner. “Finally, someone sent around a link to this YouTube video of the trailer for the game, and it had a bunch of Bollywood actors in it. There was this really well known Bollywood actress in the lead role, and just to see their spin on the game was a bit of cross-culture shock.”

*Disclaimer: We don’t speak the language, so we have no idea of what’s being said in this video. We apologize in advance if this is offensive to anyone in any way.

YouTube Preview Image

A few months later, The Lost was released and a few team members managed to get copies for themselves. Gardner recalls how surreal it was to the western eye, as the game was more or less the same when it came to the design. Beat for beat, the game was the same – the flow, the level structure, the weapons remained unchanged, but it was repurposed and redubbed for a different market. “You’re playing this game, this otherworldly version of a game you spent a couple of years working on, and it’s just weird,” comments Gardner. “You can’t wrap your head around how bizarre this is.”

With all the considerations and frustrations involved, this hasn’t turned the team off in the slightest. In fact, Gardner has found the upside to it all. “We wouldn’t have been able to make BioShock if it weren’t for The Lost. In a lot of ways, it was what BioShock wound up becoming. We had said with The Lost, we wanted to take a lot of what made System Shock 2 successful,” says the design director. “We learned so much from it, and learning to interface on a console game, while accounting for the tech aspects and considerations on all sides was, frankly, helpful.”

Avatar Image Posted this November 15 2011 10:52 am, under From the Vault,
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  • adesilva | November 15, 2011 11:09 am

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    The actress was rather hilarious. The game itself looked pretty interesting though

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  • losstarot | November 15, 2011 2:33 pm

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    Honestly you were right to dump this, just look at the settings and the “sceneries”. The Indian actress part might have been useful and more fitting tbh in a sunlit game, not a dark one such as The Lost…

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  • ismell | November 15, 2011 6:31 pm

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    I cannot believe what I’m watching here.

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  • jayakers | November 15, 2011 11:30 pm

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    Always cool to hear/read the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff (if you want to deem scrapped projects, to a degree, in that category)… Interesting and pretty neat. I’ve only watched a few Bollywood films… I highly recommend “Shoot Out at Lokhandwala” though

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  • mbourgon | November 16, 2011 12:11 am

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    Wait, wait, wait… so you’re telling me there a MISSING Irrational game, that I can potentially buy on ebay? Any idea if there are English subtitles or anything? Is it playable if you don’t know the language? And is it any good that way?

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  • juan29zapata | November 16, 2011 12:17 pm

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    Great post! I love these! I hope there is one or another article on more lost Irrational Games.

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  • christopherromano | November 16, 2011 4:25 pm

    Do I win a prize for still have the poster on my wall? I think it was from either an EGM or OPM some years back…

    http://i.imgur.com/R2q3D.jpg

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  • closer1000 | November 16, 2011 10:31 pm

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    Just to jump in here, I’ve followed The Lost since it was first announced. I was able to buy a copy of the Indian version, Agni. More recently, I discovered it WAS released for the PC in the United States and was fully translated into English. The American title is “Netherworld Beyond Time I Stand.” It was apparently a budget Big Lots exclusive, but a few boxed copies can still be found. You can also buy it for download here, along with screenshots:

    http://gamestore.revision3.com/games/netherworld-beyond-time-i-stand

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  • quancro | November 17, 2011 12:49 am

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    funny video .. i did not undertand the concept but the girls are so cute

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  • spata | November 17, 2011 3:35 pm

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    lol @ the ridiculous trailer

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  • simonsharp | December 6, 2011 8:16 am

    Whoaa wait a second.
    http://tinypic.com/r/25tumvt/5
    At 0:38-0:39 , a movie theater appears behind the woman. It looks similar to that movie theater in Elizabeth’s tear in the new bioshock infinite trailer.
    I recall that it was an asset from an abandoned game; is this that abandoned game?

    http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110818162409/bioshock/images/5/59/BS_Infinite_Revenge.jpg

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  • deweymassee | January 10, 2012 11:48 am

    What a trip. Love the designs though. Reminds me of Arkham almost

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  • miravlevy | March 7, 2012 10:33 pm

    I remember, back in 2001, this game being written about in Playstation Magazine. I had waited for it since then. When it was canceled, I cried, because I so wanted to play it. I was actually disappointed when it was distributed in India – not because I dislike cultural differences, but I really wanted the game in the original art that it was being born with, since I felt it was so special and genius. Can you imagine how beautiful it would look like today? I think you guys could be onto something big since the video game industry now is lacking in art, I feel, and too much corporation control. I really hope this project gets reconsidered into development.

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  • magicmaker | March 11, 2012 4:14 pm

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    Interesting to see it as preliminary work on Bioshock, almost a prototype that gets tried out without any repercussions since the final product was not mass marketed.

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  • georgeledoux | March 12, 2012 10:46 am

    That’s pretty interesting. I am a voice actor and I did some work on “The Lost” and I always wondered what became of it. Shame it wasn’t released in a more conventional way here in the US.

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    • evans0305 | July 16, 2012 4:09 pm

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      That’s amazing. From one of the posts, it was rebranded in India, and imported to here. I hope to hear your voice in the game.

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  • november17th | January 20, 2013 2:55 pm

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    Cool, stuff that never got finished. And thank you for the sketches.

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