Liquid Matrix – The Game That Never Was
In 1999 I received a call from Jeff Remmer, Art Director of Sony’s 989 Studios in San Diego, USA. 989 had plotted a game, provisionally titled 'Liquid Matrix' and wanted me to provide overall concept design. I wasn’t exactly twiddling my thumbs at the time, but the remuneration on offer was considerable, so I snapped Jeff’s hand off and got down to work!
It was easy to see the thinking behind the title; ‘Matrix’ was a popular word at the time, partly due to the success of the film of the same name, but also the metallic villain in Terminator, made of stuff with at least some of the qualities of mercury, that ran back together after impact. That said, Liquid Matrix was not over-influenced by either of these concepts.
My intention here, is to show a gallery of images selected from the seventy or so pencil and colour drawings I produced for the game. I remember making verbal suggestions for colour and mood, where only pencil drawings had been requested.
Below are three enemies from the first section of the game. As with all of the enemies and bosses throughout the gameplay, their matrices are liquid, allowing them to change shape:
SECTION 1. SECTI: STAGE 1. 1999, PENCIL (TOP LEFT)
SECTION 1. SECTI: STAGE 3. 1999, PENCIL (TOP RIGHT)
SECTION 1. SECTI: STAGE 2. BOSS ARENA. 1999, PENCIL (BOTTOM)
In the above image, at the left-hand side, is a crashed transport ship, perched upon a clifftop. The same ship can be seen from a couple of different angles in the images below:
THE TRANSPORT SHIP. 1999, PENCIL
Below left is 'The Energy Field', where the heroine, the main player character, must head to re-energise. Below right is another enemy, 'The Hoverbird':
SECTION 1, LEVEL 4. THE ENERGY FIELD. 1999, PENCIL (LEFT)
SECTION 1, LEVEL 5. HOVERBIRD. 1999, PENCIL (RIGHT)
Another enemy, from 'The G'eless' race:
THE G'ELESS. 1999, INKS
The heroine can be seen below, among the giant flora and fauna of section two, level one:
SECTION 2. LEVEL 1. 1999, PENCIL (TOP)
SECTION 2. LEVEL 1. CANOPY. 1999, PENCIL (BOTTOM LEFT)
SECTION 2. LEVEL 1. 1999, PENCIL (BOTTOM RIGHT)
Scenes from section two, level two:
SECTION 2. LEVEL 2. 1999, PENCIL (LEFT)
SECTION 2. LEVEL 2. 1999, PENCIL (RIGHT)
Meet the boss, 'Blox', the highest ranking villain:
SECTION 2. LEVEL 2. BLOX. 1999, PENCIL
Another enemy, 'The Razor Bug", one of the few pencil drawings, that made it to colour:
SECTION 2. LEVEL 3. THE RAZOR BUG. 1999, PENCIL
SECTION 2. LEVEL 3. THE RAZOR BUG. 1999, INKS
The lichen caves of section two, level four:
SECTION 2. LEVEL 4. LICHEN CAVES. 1999, PENCIL
At last, a member of a peaceful tribe, 'The Volute':
THE VOLUTE. 1999, INKS
An interior image of a home belonging to a member of the Volute:
VOLUTE HOUSE - LOUNGE. 1999, PENCIL
Another couple of landscapes. Again, the heroine makes an appearance on the left:
UNTITLED. 1999, PENCIL (LEFT AND RIGHT)
One of many milestone markers - the player must collect and place gemstones upon these markers to advance throughout the game:
MILESTONE MARKER. 1999, PENCIL
All was going well, and I estimated that I had achieved around half of my work-load, when a call from Jeff Remmer caused me to utter several expletives. A person, who was ultimately in charge of the project, had walked into 989 Studios and announced that the game had become too top heavy – too expensive – and work on it was to terminate forthwith!
Yet another lost opportunity!