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The Canceled Dune Game We Never Got To See

Back in the day, licensed games could often be hit or miss, but in 1992, Westwood Studio's Dune 2 — based on Frank Herbert's five-book series — set the standard for real-time strategy games. A spiritual follow-up, Dune Generations, was announced in 2001 by Cryonetworks, but never materialized. 


The Dune universe, with its desert wasteland planets, spice-trading politics, noble families and fantastical, futuristic setting, is a setting ripe for on-screen translation. Dune Generations was set to be a massively multiplayer online version of that world that supported up to 20,000 people at a time. A team of 50 developers had made quite a bit of progress toward that goal by October 2001, when it announced that it was opening sign-ups for beta testing.

In February 2002, its website said about 100 people had played the alpha, but the beta test was being delayed. By May, however, Cryonetworks and its parent company, Cryo, was kaput. The company failed to negotiate a deal with its creditors and shut down as a result. Dune Generations was a casualty of the company's demise. Here's what is known about the game itself.


The MMO was ambitious for its time

In Dune Generations, players assume control of one of the universe's dynasties. Their goal: to become the most powerful family by controlling Arrakis, the source of the coveted melange spice. Dynasty types included traders (commercial), soldiers (military), and mercenaries, with each providing an individualized gameplay experience.


The game was set to include all the evocative and detailed settings from the dense Dune mythos. Players were expected to either form alliances or fight one another for dominion of the different colonies, while adhering to the strict rules of the world. 

The game sounded quite ambitious for the time, with ground and space combat and battles containing up to nearly 500 units. Players would build up their forces, increase their House prestige, manage resources, and engage in diplomacy or espionage with fellow players and NPCs. 

"The system of conquest and cooperation is fundamental in this game," explained Cryo's Tiphaine Locqueneux in an interview with GameSpot. "We have designed the main part of the gameplay around the relationships between the players."


Unfortunately, the game was scrapped, but you never know — the upcoming Dune movie might reignite interest in the franchise and bring more projects based on the universe to life.