What Took These Games So Long To Come Out?

Getting a game from conception to finished product is a tricky business, especially so in this day and age when it requires a whole production team to bring a single game out onto the market. On the one hand, nobody likes to see a game get rushed to the point where it's basically an obvious beta that hasn't had any time to smooth out the bugs and rough spots. On the other hand, though, nobody likes to wait forever for the promise of a good game idea whose release date gets pushed further into the future and maybe into the oblivion state of possible cancellation. Trying to balance out how much time a game goes through the development cycle is not easy, and there is the possibility of things that can go wrong during the process that can cause annoying if sometimes understandable delays that drag out the cycle into months and even years before the game sees the store shelves. Still, when companies dangle delicious carrots of future videogame releases in front of consumers' faces and then yank it away when they decide to change the release date due to something in the development cycle that requires more time to deal with (or sometimes for no really good reason other than to annoy their customers), the patience of the gaming audience can wear pretty thin to the point where they will just say "Get the damn game out soon!" or they may just say "Screw it!" and look for something similar or better elsewhere. Here are some examples of games that have had more than enough time to get developed, some of which ended up being big disappointments when they finally got released.

John Romero's Daikatana (Ion Storm/PC) was to be the magnum opus of the title's developer, who previously worked on Doom and Quake at id Software and decided it was time to create his own first-person shooter game that would be the example of first-person shooter games to come. In 1997, gamers were treated to a red-panel  full page ad in game magazines that simply announced in bold letters, "JOHN ROMERO'S ABOUT TO MAKE YOU HIS BITCH", followed by "SUCK IT DOWN" in smaller letters. Though the game's title wasn't mentioned in the ad, this was the first people would hear about Daikatana, and it was announced (and expected) that the game would be released by the end of the year. Unfortunately, it ended up taking three years to get finally published, as problems such as Ion Storm having inexperienced staff members working on the project (after half of the original team just quit), a change in game engines that required a total rewrite of already completed work, and John Romero's overall attitude of cockiness got in the way. By the time the game finally got released, it was not only old-looking in comparison to other games released in 2000, it was also plagued with design problems that led people to attack the finished product and its creator with a vengeance. Also around that time, the main office of Ion Storm would be closed down due to wasted funding by Eidos, causing John Romero to go look for work elsewhere in the gaming industry.

Ladybug (Atari 2600), an adaptation of the early 1980s arcade game by Universal, had the longest delay of any game that was released -- a total of 24 years. It was first announced by Coleco in 1982 when they ran pamphlets of future game releases for the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, most of them being arcade game translations. However, the reason for this delay is different from those of other games listed: the Video Game Crash of that time did in most of the North American companies that were producing videogames, which ended up leaving Ladybug as one of the games that would never see the light of day by its original intended publisher. As to whether Coleco was actually developing the game before the Crash happened, we will never know for sure unless a prototype of the game finally surfaces. In 2006, though, a homebrew videogame developer John W. Champeau took it upon himself to finally develop the game and even release it through the AtariAge website under the Champ Games label. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a very good adaptation of the game that preserved much of the original arcade game as possible and even included the ColecoVision version's Special Vegetable Harvest bonus screen.

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