This page details prerelease information and/or media for Creation.
|This article is a work in progress.|
...Well, all the articles here are, in a way. But this one moreso, and the article may contain incomplete information and editor's notes.
Creation had a long and complex development history, the duration of which was one of the reasons why it was finally cancelled.
- 1 Forthcoming Products From Bullfrog Productions Images
- 2 Press Kit Images
- 3 Bullfrog Website
- 4 Magazine Coverage
- 4.1 Amiga Power Issue 2 (June 1991)
- 4.2 Joystick Issue 42 (October 1993)
- 4.3 Amiga Computing Issue 66 (November 1993)
- 4.4 Edge Issue 4 (January 1994)
- 4.5 CU Amiga (February 1994)
- 4.6 Joystick Issue 67 (January 1996)
- 4.7 Edge Issue 30 (April 1996)
- 4.8 PC Player (April 1996)
- 4.9 Computer Gaming World Issue 152 (March 1997)
- 4.10 PC Gamer (UK) Making-of Diary (1995-97)
- 4.10.1 Issue 14 (January 1995)
- 4.10.2 Issue 15 (February 1995)
- 4.10.3 Issue 17 (April 1995)
- 4.10.4 Issue 25 (December 1995)
- 4.10.5 Issue 27 (February 1996)
- 4.10.6 Issue 29 (April 1996)
- 4.10.7 Issue 31 (June 1996)
- 4.10.8 Issue 33 (August 1996)
- 4.10.9 Issue 35 (October 1996)
- 4.10.10 Issue 38 (December 1996)
- 4.10.11 Issue 40 (February 1997)
- 4.10.12 Issue 42 (April 1997)
- 5 Video Footage
Forthcoming Products From Bullfrog Productions Images
In 1995 Bullfrog released a simplistic manual viewer program previewing their in-development games called Forthcoming Products From Bullfrog Productions. This was released on the cover disc of some magazines, most notably with the June 1995 issue of the German PC Player magazine. The program included official Bullfrog screenshots of games in development in 1995/96, including Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital, Syndicate Wars, and others. The "catalog" DOS executable contains several pre-rendered concept images of the game, including the player's submarine and the control panel/HUD. Many of these were printed in various magazines. Unfortunately they all have the menu graphic actually written onto the image, it's not an overlay that can be removed.
The Creation logo used in the menu here is a different earlier version consisting of a simple ocean planet and two ornate fish joined together at their mouths.
The images included in the program are purely pre-rendered concept art, with no actual in-game screenshots.
Press Kit Images
Czech magazine Score included the full press kit images from Bullfrog for the game on the cover disc of its May 1996 issue.
They again consist of a series of pre-rendered concept art, but also a handful of actual screenshots.
There is an image file containing a press release on the game. Revealing the intended release date of January 1997 and the claim there would be a PlayStation version of the game.
CREATION Decades of relentless ecological destruction ensured that the earth's oceans became uninhabitable. Pollution, radiation and unchecked farming practices combined to bring oceanic life on Earth to an ignominious end. In order to preserve the genetic material salvaged from our world's dying waters, a hardy band of scientists travelled to a distant, Earth-like planet. There they engineered a world covered by beautiful seas which could support a range of aquatic species, all rescued from our own doomed planet. Now a natural balance has been achieved and the new inhabitants of Creation flourish. From time to time, new life forms evolve and this indeed is the way Creation has been set up. So when a new fungus strain is discovered it is documented, studied and forgotten. As one of a few human guardians of Creation, the player is equipped with an all purpose mini-sub designed to maintain kelp farms and manage fish stocks. Lack of human helpers mean that intelligent cetaceans, mainly dolphins and killer whales, help you in your task of running Creation. But the tranquil seas of Creation mask a perilous threat the new strain of fungus is a highly addictive narcotic which alters the personality of any creature that it consumes. Almost overnight it seems that schools of dolphins and killer whales turn psychotic driven only by an uncontrollable urge for another fix. Your aim is to try to destroy the deadly spread of this fiendish, sentient fungus and to find a way to help the addicted sea mammals. Thankfully there are still some dolphins unaffected by the fungus, but they will turn on you if they feel that you are using unnecessary force on their addicted kin. To compound the problem still further, such a powerful narcotic is worth a great deal of money to the wrong people and it isn't long before they hear about the strange fungus on Creation. Creation features the most beautiful underwater world ever realised on a computer screen, with texture mapped and gouraud shaded underwater landscapes. New light sourcing techniques add to the realism of this underwater domain. Months of research into fish movement has meant that Creation is populated with fish and sea mammals who move authentically and realistically. Creation will be released initially for PC CD and PlayStation in January 1997 by Bullfrog Productions and distributed worldwide by Electronic Arts. Other format and price details to follow. For further information please contact Cathy Campos on 01483 579399.
Pre-Rendered Concept Art
What is presumably the player submarine (it's notable that this is not what the player pilots in the demo) looks different here from the earlier art in the Bullfrog Productions demo. The sub now has a sleeker more curved appearance, and has a kind of hood over the top lamp. It's also depicted flanked by friendly dolphins and sharks.
Actual screenshots of the game. Note these use a different HUD/submarine control panel to the demo. They also seem to show there would be different lighting to represent danger etc, as suggested by the files in the demo.
The long dead official Bullfrog website had several exclusive images of the game in its later stage of development:
The website also claimed there would be a Saturn port of the game released in early 1997, a claim that seems entirely baseless.
Amiga Power Issue 2 (June 1991)
The first known coverage of Creation is seemingly in Amiga Power Issue 2 from June 1991. What is confusing is that while at this stage the game was already called Creation, this was in fact a codename used for many games in development throughout Bullfrog's history, so isn't the obvious match it may at first seem. Even more so, what's outlined in the article seems to be the start of the game that became Genewars rather than the submersible game, as the interview with Bullfrog's Glenn Corpes covers how the game would be about genetically engineering land animals to combine their different abilities to best survive in certain environments. However, repeated references to this date and idea in later press coverage seem to confirm that this really was the genesis of Creation - it seems both it and Genewars were very different forks of the same basic central idea of genetically engineering and controlling animals.
Joystick Issue 42 (October 1993)
Issue 42 of the French magazine seems to have the very earliest known pictures of Creation as an actual submarine game. These show a very different cartoony appearance that is funnily enough somewhat reminiscent of the early versions of Genewars. Comparisons to that game are rife, as the text says at this point the central concept of the game is the player is looking after an underwater research base and must genetically manipulate and breed creatures to attack their rivals. Concept art of a whale and angler fish with exaggerated cartoon eyes also feature. The game screenshots seem to show a radar/map in the bottom-left corner of the screen.
It's notable also that while most of the screenshots are cartoony, the graphics for what appear to be turtles look quite realistic and a departure from the other animals, so possibly the game was already pivoting to be more realistic even at this stage of development. At this point all the animals in the game are represented with flat texture maps.
Amiga Computing Issue 66 (November 1993)
A short mention in the previews section naming other forthcoming games from Bullfrog. The article features the first of many claims that the game would come out for the CD32 due to the console's "planar chip" (i.e. the largely useless Akiko chip). There are no screenshots.
Edge Issue 4 (January 1994)
A large feature on Bullfrog's upcoming games that includes more screenshots of a similar build to the Joystick coverage. These have a very similar setup, with pictures of the ocean and a radar/map in the bottom-left once more. The radar is now more complete-looking, with a topological map visible and a depth gauge and compass built in. More importantly, the creatures pictured are now realistic representations with the cartoon style completely gone. Rays, eels, whales, turtles and various fish are seen in the screenshots.
Oddly the article states the game can be controlled in a similar way to Syndicate, but possibly this refers to being an underwater base part of the game, where it seems the player would spend some of their time to breed and prepare their animals. At this point it seems the game concept is still that the player must breed marine life to attack rivals' scientific bases. It's stated the player can catch fish to breed, but also by "strapping certain devices to their backs - control the fish you've created to attack the other bases".
CU Amiga (February 1994)
While only published a month after the Edge article, the screenshots here show the game has moved on greatly from that build and now show the most recognisable elements of the game. There is now a HUD and control panel depicting the inside of a submarine from which the player is now looking out of, although the design is different from that used in the demo and even other builds of the game seen in screenshots. Aquatic life still appear similarly to the previous build, as what are clearly still flat textures. The radar is now centred on the screen, although this looks somewhat awkward, with a square radar display with a hexangular control panel graphic imposed over the top of it, so presumably was not finished.
The article notes how the game is running on the Magic Carpet engine, and comparisons are rife, including detail on how the player can fire very Magic Carpet-esque "Volcano missiles" that would cause the terrain to erupt like that game's magic spells.
While this coverage was from an Amiga magazine, it's highly unlikely the screenshots are actually from an Amiga build, and indeed after 1994 the game stopped featuring in Amiga magazine coverage, with that year's Theme Park being the last Bullfrog game ever released on the platform. Bullfrog's Glen Corpes has even explicitly stated that early pictures of Magic Carpet printed in Amiga magazines were not from an Amiga version of that game, and there was no plan to ever port games from this era to the Amiga. Speculation on CD32 ports of the games were a polite attempt to give the Amiga magazines (who were historically big Bullfrog champions) something to print when the system was already on the verge of death.
Joystick Issue 67 (January 1996)
Some time later, Creation was once again being promoted in the gaming press. This article shows screenshots of a build that looks exactly like the demo (and scenes that are likely literally from the demo), as well as prerenders of the player's submarine and what seems to be the player's character model, and a wireframe view of one of the CGI scenes from the game's intro. This shows what seems to be towards the final builds of the game, based on Magic Carpet 2 with creatures represented with full 3D models rather than 2D textures as in earlier builds.
Edge Issue 30 (April 1996)
A single screenshot of a late build of the game. The sub's control panel here is in the same state as the in-depth preview video, with the various gauges blank and non-functional still.
PC Player (April 1996)
The April 1996 issue of the German PC Player magazine has a preview of Creation This mentions the tie-in to Syndicate Wars and includes two screenshots: one of a submersible and one of the recurring crawler vehicles, and another of the editor's model viewer.
Computer Gaming World Issue 152 (March 1997)
CGW had one of the last known previews of the game. The two screenshots on display show some kind of submersible, but more importantly the final known iteration of the game's control panel. At this point there are now icons at the top and bottom of the screen (the bottom likely being weaponry icons), and a topographical map on the display to the right. It's notable that the rest of the gauges in the sub are still not working, and the article even notes as much. It's therefore entirely possible this aspect of the game was never 100% finished.
PC Gamer (UK) Making-of Diary (1995-97)
PC Gamer (UK) magazine printed an intermittent making of diary tracking the game's development from late 1994 until its eventual cancellation in early 1997. This is the best source of information on the game, with extremely revealing glimpses of the generally slow pace of progress, and the extraordinary final update where producer Guy Simmons not only announced the game's cancellation but also his own exit from Bullfrog to form Mucky Foot.
Entries in the series are consistently two months behind the date of the magazine itself.
Issue 14 (January 1995)
The first instalment of the diary. In this edition Simmons explains the history of the game so far, from its origins as a two-dimensional "fractal landscape engine" created by Glenn Corpes on the Amiga (as seen in Amiga Power Issue 2), to its later blue Magic Carpet precursor iteration. The latest build of the game at this point is the same red control panel one seen in CU Amiga coverage, with a simplistic 3D landscape and 2D texture-mapped fish. It's established this build was led by Bullfrog's Phil Jones, but seems to have lost steam and had little direction as a game other than a basic simulation.
It's described how Simmons, Paul McLaughlin, and Sean Masterson came up with a new direction for the game following Simmons' appointment as new project lead in late 1994. A decision was made to scrap all that had been achieved so far, and to create a new more advanced engine with fish represented as polygonal creatures. It seems at this point the fungus concept was devised, although it's not clear if the game was set in the Syndicate universe at this point (this seems to have been a later decision).
Screenshots of various old builds are shown, charting the development of the game to that point. There is also curious early concept art that shows a more military camouflaged look for the submarines than that created from this point onwards.
Issue 15 (February 1995)
A summary of development from November to mid-December 1994. Due to the decision to scrap the existing game engine, there is little in place to hang a game around, so Simmons describes modelling the undersea ecosystem of fish in a simplistic 2D view. The shark sprites throughout the feature are very similar to those present but unused in the released demo's textures.
Issue 17 (April 1995)
A summary of development from January-February 1995. Not that much is achieved due to lack of resources to work on the game's engine due to engine programmer Glenn Corpes being busy on other projects. Eventually, Mark Huntley is assigned to work on the game instead and as a result landscape generation, sprites, and collision detection are in place for the game by the end of the month. An early lighting system is worked on by Simmons, and a control panel design similar to the one seen in the demo is now implemented.
Issue 25 (December 1995)
October 1995. After a long break, the feature continues. It's admitted little work was completed on the game during the summer months, likely due to resources diverted to work on Hi-Octane and Genewars. However, a pre-alpha demo has been completed and is present on the cover disc of the magazine. Already there is discussion of changing the way the submarine moves, and that rather than actually going upside down, the sub would behave somewhat like a "gun turret on a WWII bomber" and have the cockpit move rather than the actual sub itself, suggesting it may have worked like Magic Carpet where it's not possible to loop over.
Gameplay and map editors are said to have been developed, but will shortly be rewritten to be able to work in true 3D, unlike the then-current Magic Carpet derived 2D implementation.
Issue 27 (February 1996)
December 1995. There is confusing talk of creating "FMVs" for the game here, and how this may not happen. Based on what is said and especially what was later written in other instalments, it seems this actually referred to some kind of live action or otherwise acted performances, as prerendered FMV sequences were definitely created for the game and the article even demonstrates what would be in them. As an example of this, there is a tantalising glimpse of what was presumably the main character in some kind of sub-aquatic base from such a sequence.
Basic AI is added to the dolphins, as well as drones that apparently would help or hinder the player in combat. Armed enemy subs are discussed for the first time and it's said "the faintest hints of gameplay are seeping in" after the largely direction-free demo. A screenshot also shows an early iteration of what became the final sub control panel.
Issue 29 (April 1996)
February 1996. This instalment has some of the most detailed information on how the game would play, and enemies found within. The game is confirmed as being set in the Syndicate universe and explicitly said to be set during the "same time frame" as Syndicate Wars for the first time here (the Syndicate Wars pre-alpha demo featuring a cut fungus object suggests this was on the cards since at least October 1994, however).
An RTS bent is revealed that levels would feature different buildings from different "Syndicate division[s]", that included pharmaceutical divisions (to do with exploiting the fungus) and weapon divisions, and would have different functions in the game world. They are said to develop over time, upgrading better early warning and defence systems the longer they are left, so making it harder for the player to destroy them. There is also talk of "G-Sharks", genetically modified armed sharks(!) that would patrol and defend areas of the map.
There are now Harvesters, large unarmed vehicles that harvest the fungus from the seabed, seen in many subsequent images of the game. They would apparently summon other units to defend them when attacked. There is also talk of implementing plankton fields for fish to feed on.
Collision detection is said to be a problem at this point in development, and caves in the landscape are now possible again after refactoring of the engine. The storyline is now said to be complete, presumably with the Syndicate Wars tie-in fleshing out the world building.
Finally, it's said the "FMV" idea has been scrapped for solely prerendered sequences, suggesting there was an intention for some kind of live-action sequences.
Issue 31 (June 1996)
April 1996. Ominously the article begins with talk of "mutinous rumblings within Bullfrog", although it's explained the Creation project has received four new members to work on the game. The game is said to now have much more complex lighting, including various surface reflections. "Fungus junkies" are mentioned but deliberately not fully explained, seemingly either creatures addicted to the fungus looking for more, or perhaps humans in submarines trying to raid syndicate fungus fields.
There's also gameplay talk, with friendly dolphins able to be deployed from the map view to achieve various gameplay objectives. They are said to be able to equipped with various "tools" to achieve this, with the warning that they can be turned hostile by the fungus and use these against the player. The mixture of this gameplay and the in-sub action is described as "Syndicate, but with the added feature of playing a fifth agent in a first person perspective view".
Finally, the idea of starting the game with a mock "commercial" video showing various ecological disasters is proposed. This would likely be similar to the start of the released demo in its intent.
A screenshot shows the sub control panel has evolved slightly once more to have what would be some kind of weapon selector system at the top of the screen.
Issue 33 (August 1996)
June 1996. The game engine has been further enhanced, and it's said to now be possible to have caves and other structures extending out of the ocean to be only part submerged. Lighting is also said to be revamped once again.
An interesting mechanic is described where if a level is overrun by the fungus, it gets "vaporised" to stop the spread of the spores. Possibly a kind of time limit for the player?
A "Defence sub" and a torpedo system are described as new hazards for the player.
Issue 35 (October 1996)
August 1996. A deliberately obtuse nonsense instalment, apparently due to Simmons worrying about inspiring Criterion's competing title Sub Culture that was apparently very similar to Creation. There is however talk of simulating temperature and currents in the ocean in the game.
Issue 38 (December 1996)
October 1996. A tongue-in-cheek summary of playing the game at that time in development and its many bugs, including laments about the game's controls, dolphins swimming into the ground, and a final recount of a tense battle with an enemy sub that ends with the game crashing.
Some interesting lore talks about the planet being plagued with constant meteor showers due to its orbit being full of "rubbish left over from the terraforming process" slowly falling back down.
The 3D map screen is said to be called the CIPPER, standing for Creation's Interactive Perspective Projected Environmental Resonator. The footage from Joystick magazine shows this screen in action.
Screenshots show some of the most advanced known builds of game, including lens flare effects and shafts of light from the surface, and an increasingly populated sub control panel with icons at the bottom and what looks like a working topographical map.
Issue 40 (February 1997)
December 1996. The difficulties of removing and replacing the previous level editor with a new one is discussed. Pictures are interesting images from various CGI cutscenes. The "GNN" news dog character seen in the intro is present, as well as a still of some kind of wielder stalked by a monster, and another construction worker fighting some kind of robot.
Issue 42 (April 1997)
February 1997. Simmons reveals that Creation is cancelled. He retells a progress meeting in January at which EA executives showed open distain for the game, the outcome of which was their recommendation the game be scrapped and personnel be reallocated to Dungeon Keeper and Populous: The Beginning.
The game was still not cancelled at this point, as the team were given a final six months to get the game into a releasable state. However, lead programmer Matt Whitton was subsequently removed from the project to assist on the PlayStation version of Populous: The Beginning, leaving no long-term programmers who understood Creation's codebase on the team. This is the last straw for Simmons, and he quits his job at Bullfrog. He supplies a headstone for the game: "Creation: 01/03/92 to 30/1/97".
Early Build Footage
Bad Influence Scrapped Build
Footage of an extremely early build of the game can be seen in the third episode of the third series of the British videogames TV show Bad Influence from September 1994. Peter Molyneux explains how this build was derived from the initial Magic Carpet project (it appears to be an iteration of the initial "blue" build described by Glenn Corpes) but abandoned. A simplistic underwater 3D landscape with 2D textured flora is displayed, with a surprisingly high frame rate. What appear to be landscape editing buttons appear down the right of the screen.
Bullfrog progress report video
Shows the same build as the demo, but mostly obscured by interviewee.
Optimistically predicts that an alpha build will be complete in January 1996, beta in February, and a final release by March 1996. This is the only footage of the game to actually feature any sound effects. It mentions that the Magic Carpet engine had been upgraded to use full 3D for all elements, with enemies now polygon based.
This is part of a promo film showcasing Bullfrog games from 1995. A short clip of Creation shows the early demo HUD/control panel and a dolphin swimming. The video quality is very poor but it looks like this might actually be pre-rendered CGI rather than in-game footage.
More of the same clip from above. This seems to be pre-rendered concept art rather than actual in-game footage.
Late Build Video
This is a short featurette from the cover cd of issue 72 of the French games magazine Joystick from June 1996 that shows the game in a state close to its final builds. Points of interest:
- The sub uses the same HUD/control panel design as the press kit pictures
- At 1:07 what is said to be the game's CGI intro sequence is shown, with a gigantic spaceship manoeuvring into position behind some kind of space jump gate before arriving at what must be Creation and launching some objects at the planet. Possible this is the prelude to what is shown in the demo's CGI scenes of the surface of the planet being destroyed. This sequence is also what can be seen in the in-game advert for Creation included with Syndicate Wars.
- 2:05 a Harvester vehicle destroyed and collapsing realistically into the seabed under its own weight.
- At 2:16 the impressive CIPPER interactive 3D holographic map of the sea floor and known units is shown
- A giant squid in thrall to the fungus at around 2:45