Carmageddon curbed in Pseudo Interactive closure?

Mystery Eidos project whose cancellation caused vehicular combat developer to go under reportedly a new installment in controversial series.


RUMOR CONTROL Source: A schizophrenic posting on notorious rumor blog Surfer Girl Reviews Star Wars, reportedly confirmed through anonymous sources by trade site Next Gen.

What we heard: When Toronto-based Pseudo Interactive's closure surfaced, the developer was said to have gone under due in part to having Eidos cancel a major project it had been working on. Trade site Next Gen today is reporting that the doomed project in the works was a new installment of Carmageddon, the controversial combative racing game that rewards players for running over pedestrians.

As is becoming increasingly common for reports on recently deceased developers, the source of the information is ultimately anonymous. Next Gen cites "a senior games industry executive" for the info, admitting the source isn't actually related to Eidos or Pseudo Interactive, but saying he or she is familiar with the situation regardless.

Given the assertion in the article that Pseudo Interactive developers were desperately looking to find a new project during this year's Game Developers Conference, it seems likely any such executive would be from one of the publishers who heard a pitch of the studio's, and decided to pass on it.

The Next Gen article isn't the only report to finger Carmageddon as the project in question. Last week, a bizarre entry on the rumor-rific Surfer Girl blog (one supposedly not penned or put up with the primary author's knowledge), purported to tell the twisting tale of Pseudo Interactive using familial terms.

"Nine years ago in a far, far north metropolitan area known as The 416, there was a woman named Pseudo Interactive who was in a marriage with infamous polygamist Microsoft that resulted in a child of the Xbox gender named Cartoon Mayhem," the mystery writer penned, before explaining how Cartoon Mayhem became Cel Damage.

Over the course of the blog post, Pseudo Interactive's connections with Electronic Arts and Sega are explained, and another unannounced but canceled project is referenced. After hooking up Sega (eventual publisher of the Full Auto games), Pseudo Interactive began work on a Vectorman game, which was "uninspired" and "died in the womb," to use the blog's strained familial metaphor.

"However, Pseudo Interactive split up with Sega and moved on to an unfaithful British hunk named SCi [Eidos' parent company] who impregnated Pseudo Interactive with Carmageddon and agreed to pay child support for 'a smutfest' called Crude Awakening, unfortunately Carmageddon was never born and Crude Awakening smutted its way to heaven," the post reads.

Aside from those titles, the post claims the studio was working on two more vehicular combat games. They were Prodigal, in which the player was a priest driving around blowing away demons, and Divided City, which involved a plot of "political unrest."

As for the likelihood of a Carmageddon sequel, SCi has been wanting to do one for years, and even announced one that was originally planned for release in 2005. Given the company's successful resuscitation of the Tomb Raider brand, executives no doubt were considering dusting off past successes like Carmageddon and Legacy of Kain in order to bolster a flagging bottom line.

However, whatever plans SCi had were subject to change once investors called for a change in upper management. Longtime CEO Jane Cavanagh resigned shortly thereafter, and the following month the new regime announced some drastic changes, including layoffs of 200 workers and the cancellation of more than a dozen games.

The official story: "No comment. Corporately we do not comment on rumor or speculation."--an Eidos representative. Inquiries to Pseudo Interactive were not returned as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Both reports are perfectly plausible. A desperate studio in search of projects is likely to tell enough potential publishing partners what's happened to them. The bizarre Surfer Girl post would be perhaps even more bizarre if someone had gone to the length to fabricate it.

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