Editor's note: The mysterious figure known as Superannuation digs through the Internet to find secrets companies don't want to announce yet. All of what Superannuation finds is available to the public. Are these true gaming secrets? Or are they gaming red herrings planted to throw Superannuation off? Read on...
On his CV, a staffer at Rockstar Games' headquarters in New York mentions Agent alongside Grand Theft Auto V as a title currently in development at Rockstar, possibly suggesting that the seemingly vaporware Cold War-set spy title announced at E3 2009 may in fact still be in the works despite years of silence from Rockstar on the project. Though with developer Rockstar North occupied with development of the latest Grand Theft Auto title, it is probable that Agent is presently on the backburner as Rockstar focuses on its flagship franchise.
The last official word we heard about Agent was two years ago when Take-Two chairperson Strauss Zelnick mentioned during a quarterly earning call that the game was "still in development." And the last time Rockstar discussed Agent was in September 2009 — a few months after the game's announcement — when it hinted during a fan Q&A blog post that the title may see release in 2010, a prediction that obviously did not bear out.
We have not actually seen anything of Agent aside from the logo shown at E3 2009. But in mid-2011, a gaming site discovered apparent environmental assets from the game in an ex-Rockstar North artist's portfolio. The assets did not really provide much insight into the game, and depicted a fairly nondescript apartment complex.
Unlike Take-Two's 2011 E3 Sony press conference announcement of BioShock Vita, Agent is a title that has actually been in development twice. Agent was originally in development at Rockstar San Diego in 2003 as a prototype for PS2/Xbox. It would seem that version of the game was at least partially set in Cairo; one former Rockstar San Diego artist said he and three other people spent a week in the city taking "over 10,000 photographs" for reference materials.
That version was ultimately put on hold, and the project was resurrected a number of years later as the Agent we vaguely know today. As a number of resumes attest, version two of Agent is/was also an actual project in development under the auspices of Rockstar North, with Rockstar San Diego helping out.
If we see Agent again in the future, it is probably safe to assume one thing: it probably will not remain a Playstation 3 exclusive (as PlayStation 4 will be out by the end the year).
Several weeks ago, Sony Computer Entertainment America put up a rather curious job opening for a summer speech recognition intern. The posting says the intern's work will focus on, among other things, "speech noise reduction, speech detection, recognition, noisy rejection, and grammar processing under various environments." The intern is to also perform research on keyword identification in potentially noisy environments. And Sony considers experience with "Emotional and kid’s speech processing" to be "a plus," suggesting something with a bit of broader user base than voice commands in a shooter.
In the past several years, Microsoft has tailored the general Xbox 360 navigation to be compatible with speech-enabled navigation, but Sony has yet to really integrate voice recognition at the system level. For the PlayStation 4, Sony is overhauling their PlayStation Eye camera to be slightly more Kinect-esque with audio detection. Could changes be afoot for Sony's forthcoming console?
Last month, Sony Computer Entertainment America filed a trademark registration for "The Order: 1866."
A month prior, the domains theorder1886.com, theorder1886.net, theordergame.net, theorderps4.com, and theorderps4.net were privately registered through SCEA's domain registrar, indicating The Order is an American-developed title (SCEE uses a different registration firm for European games) for Sony's next-gen console. Perhaps the new game from God of War 3 director Stig Asmussen or Ready at Dawn's PS4 action-adventure new IP title?
Interestingly, the privately registration handle is also associated with the domains lastofus.com, lastofus2.com, and lastofus3.com, which makes me wonder if Sony and/or Naughty Dog have the idea of The Last of Us as a franchise in the back of their mind despite the first title being narratively self-contained.
In a message board post, a former Vigil Games employee said Crawler—a.k.a. 1881, a name THQ intended to change because of similarity to Patrice Desilets' 1666—was "heavily inspired by Dark Souls." And the former Vigil staffer said the studio hoped for Crawler's "gameplay and difficulty" to be akin to the cult RPG. Former THQ president Jason Rubin commented that Crawler's "fantastic ... and truly unique" concept "dropped the most jaws" of any in-development game in THQ's portfolio during the company's final days.
Earlier this month, Electronic Arts filed a trademark registration for "Need for Speed" encompassing, among other things, a "Series of fiction works, namely, novels and books." Need for Speed is not really known for being the most narratively substantial franchise, and turning it into a book seems like a stretch. But I imagine a book might be something like this:
“Love is one of those things you shouldn’t let vroom away,” Jerry Sunroof lamented.
“I was too focused on the axles and not focused enough on my heart.”
“What is this nonsense you are talking about?” asked Larry the Lamborghini, a talking car.
“Larry the Lamborghini, you’re a car—you’ll never understand human emotions!” Jerry yelled.
“Don’t condescend to me—I have a price tag of $200,000,” said Larry.
“Let’s go racing. That always cheers you up.”
“Ok,” Jerry said nonchalantly.
Or maybe we might get Need for Speed poetry:
Doing donuts in the parking lot
Hoping I never get caught
In actuality, this registration is probably related to a tie-in novel for the forthcoming Need for Speed film, and I am a terrible poet and fiction writer.
superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone. He tweets, and can be reached at heyheymayday AT gmail DOT com.