Between Arx Fatalis and Dishonored, Arkane Studios struck up two interesting working relationships with Valve Software and director Steven Spielberg. Projects involving both—a Half-Life title, a shooter called The Crossing, and Spielberg's LMNO—ended up getting canceled. Soon, thanks to game documentary makers Noclip, we'll get our first real look at all three projects from within Arkane itself.
Noclip's next documentary, a history of Arkane, is set to premiere on Tuesday, May 26. To tease the release, Noclip founder Danny O'Dwyer released screenshots and footage from each project the documentary will cover, going from Arx Fatalis through to Dishonored and 2017's Prey. In the middle of the list are LMNO, The Crossing, and for the time ever, actual footage of Arkane's abandoned Half-Life project.
The most secretive of the three, Arkane's Half-Life project was only officially acknowledged by then-Valve writer Marc Laidlaw years after its cancelation. Called Return to Ravenholm, the project would have seen the player exploring more of the Headcrab-infested town featured in Half-Life 2. Beyond Laidlaw's confirmation of its existence, most of what has filtered out over the years about the project have been screenshots from level designers' portfolios. On Twitter, Noclip has uploaded a GIF of the first-ever footage of the project.
Arkane was more public about LMNO and The Crossing while they were in development, but it could be that the stories behind their development and eventual ends will prove even more interesting than that of Return to Ravenholm. Electronic Arts announced LMNO in 2005 and was bullish about its collaboration with Spielberg right up to the project's official cancellation in 2010. The Crossing, originally set to be published by Valve, was advertised in a trailer and press previews as a seamless blend of single-player and multiplayer.
Thanks to a feature from 1UP (archived here, RIP), we know LMNO was set to be a first-person game centered around "escape gameplay" and Eve, the player's alien companion with psychic powers. Though The Crossing was shelved in 2009, former Valve artist Viktor Antonov ended up staying at Arkane and became the visual design director of 2012's Dishonored.
Hopefully, we'll get a lot more where all that came from. Speaking with USgamer for our recent feature on game documentaries, O'Dwyer said that in his experience, the developers who work with Noclip "want all this shit out there," especially as it concerns projects that never saw the light of day.
Still, though, we won't be seeing any of what Arkane is currently working on, Noclip warns. In other words, don't get your hopes up for details on Deathloop, the new project Arkane announced at E3 last year.