Before Rare started making games for Microsoft and reviving some classics for platforms outside of Nintendo's systems, they had another title planned for release on the N64 or possibly GameCube... it would have been called Velvet Dark, a spin-off to the popular FPS on the N64, Perfect Dark.
According to Gamespot, creative director for Perfect Dark Gregg Mayles has been releasing lots of inside secrets and information about the design process and methodology that Rare employed making many of their games, ranging from dropping some trade secrets on how they mapped out Viva Pinata's ecosystem to designing some of the levels in Battletoads. This all comes just ahead of the launch of Rare Replay, a compilation of classic games by the company for the Xbox One.
The real juicy bit was Velvet Dark's design doc, which would have worked as a spin-off to Perfect Dark. Check it out below.
There's a lot to cover in that single tweet. For instance, the design document covers the game's level breakdowns, the plot synopsis (not that Perfect Dark games have ever been known for their classy stories), the control methods and enemy types. One of the things that stand out is the character attributes. That feature along covers the span of two pages. I wonder if they had plans on adding RPG elements to this Perfect Dark spin-off, making it closer to the likes of Deus Ex?
At the time there weren't many first-person RPG titles out there, so this game definitely could have delved into that aspect of gameplay. The only major rival would have been the medieval fantasy Elder Scrolls games but they were very different from Perfect Dark in both tone and gameplay.
What's also interesting is that there are three pages dedicated alone to the game's AI states. That's a lot of documentation for the computer controlled NPCs. I'm curious what they had planned for them that it would require so many different states? It almost lends itself back into the idea that the game may have been more RPG-focused, given that basic enemy AI with neutral and attack states would hardly require three pages, but if there were friendlies, enemies, neutrals and different functional states for each character then I imagine that's why they would require tons of documentation.
Another really cool revelation is in the GameBoy Advance compatibility. It appears as if the Perfect Dark spin-off would have some kind of handheld integration. This was a lot more common between GameCube games than N64 titles.
Based on the design doc the multiplayer modes would be returning and the combat system spanned a massive four pages. I imagine the team at Rare had plans on expanding on the already in-depth combat from the first Perfect Dark, which was actually fairly revolutionary for its time. Players could disarm NPCs, shoot weapons out of their hands or even wound them by shooting them in the legs. It was a lot more in-depth than the shooting systems we have in many of today's first-person titles.
I guess Velvet Dark will always be one of those games that leave gamers saying “what if?” unless, of course, Rare takes the concept to Kickstarter to see if they can get it made there.
In the meantime gamers can enjoy the Rare Replay, which is set to launch on the Xbox One August 4th.