Descent (canceled video game)

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Descent
Descent Underground cover.jpg
Steam store header of Descent: Underground
Developer(s)Descendent Studios
Publisher(s)Little Orbit
Director(s)Eric "Wingman" Peterson
Producer(s)Phil Tittle
Designer(s)Rob Irving
Programmer(s)Kevin Saffel, Phil Tittle, Rob Irving, Tyler Pixley
Artist(s)Tobias Loeffler
Writer(s)Keith McCormic
Composer(s)Levon Louis & Dan Wentz
SeriesDescent
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, OS X, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
ReleaseCanceled
Genre(s)First-person shooter, shoot 'em up
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Descent, formerly Descent: Underground, is an unreleased 3D first-person shooter video game developed by Descendent Studios. A prequel to the 1995 video game of the same name, it was successfully funded via the crowdfunding website Kickstarter on April 10, 2015, and released on Steam as an Early Access title on October 22 the same year. The studio removed Descent from Steam and GOG.com Early Access on September 29, 2017.

In October 2018, Descendent Studios signed a deal with publisher Little Orbit for financial support. The game was expected to be available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One,[1] but the studio ceased all production in late 2019, prompting Little Orbit to file a lawsuit against the company in early 2020.

Premise[edit]

By the year 2136, the planet Earth has become unsustainable due to the depletion of natural resources, threatening the stability of human society and civilization. Space explorers have been sent across the galaxy to find a new home planet for humanity to evacuate to. After word got out that none of them have returned, people discovered that mankind's only hope for continued survival is to harvest asteroids, leading to starfighter skirmishes over possession of the most profitable and life-sustaining ones.[2]

Gameplay[edit]

Descent is a first-person shooter "Six Degrees of Freedom" game, in which the player controls a flying drone within subterranean mines and caverns. The drone can move forward and back, left and right, and up and down, and can also rotate in all three axes. The drone is equipped with several energy and ballistic weapons, bombs, and various mining tools. The drone is frequently attacked by robots and turrets stationed in the mines. Being hit by a weapon or being within the blast radius of an explosion damages the drone's shield, and once the shield is depleted, the drone can be destroyed with additional hits. As in prior Descent games, weapons and items that the drone picked up are scattered around where it exploded; a subsequent drone can reclaim these items by returning to the site.

The game includes several multiplayer modes in which players (individually or in teams) fight one another or attempt to complete simple objectives, such as transferring energy to or from a central core or capturing zones scattered throughout the mine.

Development[edit]

In November 2014, several former developers for the game Star Citizen, led by Eric "Wingman" Peterson, announced that they were forming Descendent Studios to work on a game similar to Descent in play style, with the working title Ships That Fight Underground. The company was approached by an Interplay shareholder in December who set up a meeting with the CEO of Interplay and Descendent Studios. A deal was then struck to license the Descent name to Descendent Studios.[3][4]

In March 2015, Descendent Studios unveiled a Kickstarter campaign for Descent: Underground, a new prequel using Interplay's existing trademark rights to the Descent franchise which include the name "Descent" and some sound effects and music from the series. (Parallax Software owns all of the remaining portions of the property.)[5] It is powered by Unreal Engine 4 and was initially scheduled to release in March 2016.[6] The studio began production after the Kickstarter campaign successfully funded, raising $601,773 by 8,164 backers.

In August 2015, Descendent Studios demonstrated an early build of the game at RTX in Texas, allowing attendees to play the game on-site. According to the developers, the game was well-received and played by hundreds of people.[7] The game also supported the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.[8][9]

In October 2015, Descendent Studios released their first playable online multiplayer build to select members with Proving Grounds access (this included "Underground" subscribers).[10] The game featured several single-player and multiplayer modes.[11] On October 22, Descendent Studios released the game on Steam Early Access. The company announced that a single-player campaign was in development and was expected to release when the game left Early Access.[12]

Descendent Studios removed the game from Steam in September 2017 and signed a funding and distribution deal with publisher Little Orbit, which allowed them to create a larger single-player campaign and make significant improvements, and also to release the game on both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 in 2019. Little Orbit signed on to help market and distribute the Descent brand starting with this first chapter of the "reboot" of the Descent franchise.[13]

In early May 2019, Descendent Studios' homepage was taken offline and multiplayer servers for game builds stopped responding. Unofficial posts by a developer from Descendent Studios indicated that all development on the game had been completely halted due to financial and legal issues that developed between the studio and Little Orbit. The original posts have since been deleted, but YouTuber Montoya documented the posts and history of the development woes in a video uploaded to his channel.[14]

Little Orbit initiated legal action against Descendent Studios in January 2020, accusing the studio of breach of contract, negligent representation, fraud, and libel. Little Orbit asserts that the studio had lied about the state of the Descent license from Interplay when it entered the publishing deal in September 2017, having come to believe since that Interplay had revoked the Descent license, and sought at least US$2 million in damages from the studio.[15] Later in 2020, an employee at Little Orbit issued a statement regarding the legal action, mentioning that Kickstarter funds could not be refunded to backers, preorders made with Little Orbit were being refunded, and that the studio had stopped all development, but that the publisher was hopeful the franchise could be revived.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://gematsu.com/2018/10/descent-reboot-coming-to-ps4-xbox-one-and-switch
  2. ^ "Descent Official Trailer". YouTube. LittleOrbit. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  3. ^ Hutchinson, Lee (18 March 2015). "Classic FPS Descent to be rebooted by Star Citizen alums". Ars Technica.
  4. ^ Jessica Conditt (2015-04-09). "The man who left behind $78 million to revamp a classic space shooter". Engadget. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  5. ^ "Will GuideBot make a comeback? :: Overload General Discussions". steamcommunity.com. Retrieved 2017-03-21.
  6. ^ Studios, Descendent (2015-03-11). "Descent: Underground Kickstarter". Kickstarter News. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  7. ^ "RTX". Archived from the original on 2015-08-17. Retrieved 2015-08-15.
  8. ^ "Oculus Rift Support". Archived from the original on 2015-08-01. Retrieved 2015-08-15.
  9. ^ "Live Gameplay Video at RTX".[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "First Public Release". Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  11. ^ Bo Moore (2015-03-10). "Descent: Underground - a PC classic resurrected". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  12. ^ "Steam Early Access". store.steampowered.com. Valve.
  13. ^ "Steam Community :: Group Announcements :: Descent: Underground". steamcommunity.com. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  14. ^ Montoya (28 May 2019). "Game dev Descendent Studios in trouble". YouTube.com. Retrieved 2019-08-06.
  15. ^ Ivan, Tom (February 24, 2020). "Descendent Studios sued over unfinished Descent prequel". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  16. ^ "Message from Matt about Descent Legal Action". Gamers First. 24 February 2020. Archived from the original on 2 February 2021. Retrieved 27 May 2021.

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