Footage and details of Knights of Decayden have been discovered, a long-lost exclusive originally set for the original Xbox from the developers behind Star Wars: X-Wing.
The existence of Totally Games’ Knights of Decayden has gone mostly under the radar until now, but details of its development have been told to Axios’ Stephen Totilo by Totally Games founder Larry Holland and Xbox head Phil Spencer.
You can check out a look at footage of Knights of Decayden by clicking here.
The game was called many names during its development, including Knights of Utu when it was first pitched in 2000 to Sony as a PlayStation 2 game. When it was set to move forward at Xbox, it was called Archipelago before becoming Knights of Decayden.
Much like Totally Games’ Star Wars: X-Wing, Knights of Decayden was focused on flight combat, but it looked to trade “X-Wings for flying beasts.” It was set in an original fantasy world and “players controlled a knight on a flying seahorse and engaged in ranged combat against other knights and monsters, lance-based slow-motion jousting and diving underwater to fight sea creatures.”
Knights of Decayden would have had both a single-player story mode and multiplayer, and the original pitch to Sony wanted the execs to “imagine jousting high in the air amid skyscraper-like islands soaring above a sparkling sea.”
The plan was for Knights of Decayden to launch as an Xbox exclusive within a year of the system’s launch in 2001 from an “operation called Studio X that focused on partnerships between Microsoft and outside game teams.”
Unfortunately, it was canceled in early 2002 and was an “early casualty in Microsoft’s effort to enter the console market and create games to rival the output of PlayStation, Nintendo and Sega.”
Holland called the project “incredibly ambitious and sort of foolish in equal measures” and said the process of creating a new world alongside finding the perfect flight combat was a challenge too big to overcome.
Crunch was also a huge factor, and it also didn’t help that the team had to impress Microsoft game managers who were said to not have much “experience trusting developers.” One of these bosses was said to have once managed the Excel spreadsheet program.
“I agreed to a very aggressive schedule,” Holland said, “probably more for financial reasons and to keep my organization and company not having to lay off a bunch of people.”
Axios’ look at The Knights of Decayden was sparked in part by his profile on Phil Spencer, who said that one of his first assignments when he joined the Xbox gaming team was to “cancel Larry Holland’s game.”
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