Wired releases Vaporware Awards for ’06

Vaporware: We love to hate it, this is true. It’s like the one thing that brings us gamers and techie nerds together in one big happy-time hate fest. So, it is with great pleasure that I bring to you the gaming-related entries in Wired’s latest Vaporware Awards. See anything missing you’d like to add? I think you may find one of the gaming entries a bit shocking.

9. Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl

Here’s a great idea for a first-person shooter: Chernobyl undergoes a second meltdown, causing all the plants and animals in the surrounding ‘burbs to mutate and start attacking people. You’re a scavenger who makes a living infiltrating the “Zone” to gather artifacts and specimens for sale on the black market.

The game made waves in a 2001 preview when first-person shooter addicts were blown away by Stalker’s “X-Ray” graphics engine and realistic physics. Kiev-based CGS Game World promised the game for Windows users in late 2003. So far, no sign of it. A note pointing to an early 2007 release was posted on the game’s English-language website in June.

Wired News reader J.K. Star is convinced that Stalker’s innovative game play has grown stale. “By the time this game comes out, all of its ‘revolutionary’ features will have already shown up in every game out there.”

“The host of the fan site linked off the main page has a nice ‘Sod Off’ message to the developers due to lack of updates,” says Steve Fellows.

And a reader named Chris echoed the frustration of many of his fellow gamers. “Looks like one amazing game … but when the fuck is it coming?”

More after the jump, including the most obvious winner of the whole thing. 

7. Gran Turismo 4 Mobile

The PSP faithful are downright steamed about this one. This oft-delayed car-racing title for Sony’s PlayStation Portable is now slated for an “early 2007” release.

Wired News games blogger Chris Kohler tells us: “It’s not even so much the fact that it’s vaporware as the sheer hubris of the whole thing. It was one of the first PSP titles shown, and in fact it was the best thing PSP had going for it at E3 2004. They even showed the box and disc art as if it was already in manufacture. But it was later found out that it was basically just a mock-up video and that they aren’t even actively working on it.”

For added humor, read Kohler’s interview with Gran Turismo series producer Kazunori Yamauchi on the Game|Life blog.


4. Spore

The hype surrounding the new game from The Sims creator Will Wright is deafening. In Wright’s Spore, which is being developed by Maxis, the player guides a species through the grand process of evolution — from a single-cell organism to star-hopping superbeings. Everything the user creates will be compiled into a giant database and shared among all the game’s online players. Wright himself calls it “an awe-inspiring global view of reality, almost like a drug-induced epiphany with a computer.”

Wright demonstrated the game at the E3 conference in May 2005, setting off a firestorm of anticipation. At the show, Wright told Wired News Spore would arrive in 2006. No dice. More recently, the Sim master said the game is slated for the second half of 2007.

A reader named Goo is wondering what’s taking so long: “Where’s Spore? It looked quite ready almost a year ago.”

“I have been waiting and waiting for something to bring out a next-generation feel to The Sims,” says Brian Thedell. “As it stands now, Viva Piñata is more engaging than the latest Sims. I’ve been reduced to playing the movies sim (The Sims Superstar), for God’s sake.”


1. Duke Nukem Forever

We’ve got a new winner this year!

Just kidding. 3D Realms’ Duke Nukem Forever, originally demoed in 1997, has spent nearly a decade in development. Rumor has it the fourth installment in the first-person shooter series has undergone multiple redesigns in this nine-plus years. There are even rumors the game will be ported to the Xbox 360 or souped up for Windows Vista Ultimate users. But really, after all this time, can you believe any of that?

Meanwhile, the grinning visage of Duke Nukem has practically become the official mascot of the Vaporware Awards. Sir Duke topped the Vaporware list in 2001 and 2002 after placing second in 2000. In 2003, we gave it the Lifetime Achievement Award in hopes we’d be able to stop writing about it.

But the readers brought Duke back in 2005, and he was voted King of Vaporware again in 2006. That’s right — two years in a row, three years after being retired from the list.

And yet 3D Realms claims it’s still working on Duke Nukem Forever. We asked CEO Scott Miller to give us an update on the game’s progress.

“Thanks to the overwhelming success of Prey (our latest IP, and another game that took 10 years to release), we have been afforded another five relaxing years on the making of DNF,” he says.

The company still has a message on its website saying that the game will be released “when it’s done.”

Wired News readers are less than willing to believe the hype.

Chris G. suggests: “‘Forever’ is the operative word … or how about ‘never’?”

Steve: “I really wanted to play that one … back in ’97.”

Squid Master says, “I might as well just start making my own version.”

But nobody sums it up better than Bob Mime, who gives the reason behind his vote: “Duke. Just because it wouldn’t be a Vaporware list without him.”

Our thoughts exactly.



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Robert Summa
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