Every developer, I reckon, has a dusty folder of abandoned, cancelled or otherwise lost projects. Hell, I’ve even got a few lurking on my desktop myself. While these unfortunate prototypes rarely see the light of day, Prison Architect creators Introversion have begun releasing their doomed prototypes, bringing them out one-by-one as part of a new YouTube series to raise money for conflict charity War Child.
Titled Chris Delay’s Fail Masterclass, the series kicks off with a playable peek at Order Of Magnitude – a game that made it in front of Matt Cox’s hands at Rezzed before ultimately being shelved.
Described as a mix of Kerbal Space Program, Factorio, and (ugh) Elon Musk’s lofty SpaceX patter, Introversion’s stellar industry plans hoped to craft a game that would take humanity from the smouldering ruins of old Earth to system-spanning megastructure builders. They cite shows like Battlestar Galactica as a key influence too, in making those first few years of guiding a broken humanity to an uncertain future feel really critical.
Unfortunately, for many reasons, it didn’t pan out. A key point that comes up is how humanity took too much of a back seat during play. You’d be building all these power relays, farms and pipelines, but you rarely got a sense for what your little colonists were up to. These are problems former young’un Matt found at his hands-on session, describing a game that ultimately felt very dull.
“The problem is that success still seems like it will be inevitably tied to understanding processes and resources that are so dry I’m not convinced I’ll find them interesting,” he wrote. “Whatever the game may become, building and managing infrastructure is still going to play a central role – engaging with that part of the game will be vital, and I’m not yet convinced that I’ll want to.”
Like many of the projects the series hopes to discuss, Introversion “strategically withdrew” from Order Of Magnitude because it didn’t feel, to them, like a game that would be worth following through with. However, if you do feel like having a little bash at some unfinished space exploitation, you can download Order Of Magnitude – and every subsequent prototype – from the Introversion website with a minimum $5 donation to War Child.