Did you know a game about gnomes killing each other almost made it to the PS4? In the latest Unseen64 video, Liam Robertson reports that a shooter with the working title “Gnomageddon” was in development at Sony San Diego up until late last year.
Originally rumored to be a new game from Sucker Punch, the online multiplayer game actually originated on the side of the San Diego Studio that traditionally handled porting NBA games to handhelds. When licensing fees for those games jumped up in the early 2010s, the team responsible for them switched gears and started looking to do something more original. Not long after, the company held a PlayStation Game Jam which is when, according to Robertson, the idea for “Gnomageddon” came about. It, alongside another project, won the competition and were pursued further.
That second game was Kill Strain, the mutant MOBA whose servers shutdown earlier this year, and it was given precedence. As it went through development between 2013 and 2016 and suffered from various setbacks, more resources were taken from the Gnomageddon to work on getting in complete. As a result, there was apparently no more than eleven people working on the whimsical shooter at any one time, but despite that, Robertson claims in his reporting that there was a lot of enthusiasm for it at the studio.
In “Gnomageddon” teams of good gnomes would shoot teams of bad gnomes in locales approximating the picket-fenced backyards of 1950s suburbia. There would be three different modes, including a versus one where most of the attention was focused. And like its sibling, Kill Strain, “Gnomageddon” would also resemble a MOBA and be free-to-play. There were different classes and different items, each resembling something that might be cobbled together out of materials you might find in the backyard if you were a garden gnome.
It even had a fully-fleshed out backstory for the gnomes and how they came to be that borrowed from traditional gnome-lore (yes, that’s a thing) and some of the development team’s own unique additions, including the game’s premise which put gnomes created in Europe and imbued with sentience in charge of guarding random houses in America from armed insurrection by “evil gnomes.” One of these was called Conquest and he wanted revenge for something, but also gnomes, with guns.
However, Kill Strain’s long development and later financial failure led Sony San Diego to suffer layoffs and lose people who were working on both games. Robertson says in the video that many people at the studio thought development on “Gnomageddon” might persist due to strong positive feedback from internal game testers, but the inability of Kill Strain to ever find a sustainable player-base ended up dooming both games.