The Virtual Nightclub (found PC/Mac adventure game; 1997)

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JC front-1.jpg

Cover art.

Status: Found

Date found: 09 Jun '16

Found by: Gamecare (Mark D.)

The Virtual Nightclub was a point-and-click PC/Mac video game from 1997. It was originally developed by Prospect Project and published by Philips Interactive Media and Thumb Candy. The game features a concept on a virtual nightclub, which was revolutionary for its time period. The game is predominantly based on rave, techno, hip-hop, and cyberspace, with labels (such as Warp, R&S and Ninja Tune) and artists and groups (such as Herbie Hancock, Neal Stephenson, PM Dawn, and Terence McKenna) who were involved in the game.

Much of the gameplay elements are heavily based on Burn:Cycle, a point-and-click FMV game developed by the same development team, which shared the similar gameplay mechanics and aesthetics, such as the time limit and the in-game puzzles.

The game faded into obscurity for two decades, due to a limited run of (presumably) 20,000 copies, which the game barely hit store shelves (as it was marketed via The Sci-Fi Channel (now known as Syfy) and through online in the UK, until in 2013, where it was resurfaced (albeit in a beta version), and in 2016 as a retail version of the game, respectively. The remaining 20,000 copies were stored in a warehouse that was located in Wembley, London (which those copies would be presumably sold by Organa, a multimedia online retailer).

Development

Development began in 1992 when James Plummer and David Mingay set up a multimedia studio under the production company Prospect Management in order to undertake their projects. In 1993, a visualization of an alternative youth culture, known as "Cyberspace" was filmed and Prospect Management formed partnerships with electronic music culture icons and labels (such as the Shamen and Warp Records). On the same year, Prospect Management and Philips struck a development deal to develop a multimedia title for the CD-i. Titus Forbes Adam became the Associate Producer to include sponsorship of major youth brands for the Virtual Night Club.

The development team consisted of Olaf Wendt (director/VFX), Guy Nisbett, Alix Sharkey, Titus Forbes Adam, Eitan Arrusi, David Collier (co-producer), Graham Deane, David Mingay, Ken Olisa, James Plummer, Dick Jewel (cinematography), Simon Atherley (interactive designer), and many others.

In 1994, David Mingay and filmmaker Dick Jewel already documented the growing cyberculture of Soho and developed interactive navigation systems. The original prototype of the game that was originally going to be released for the CD-i would become Burn: Cycle. Titus hosted an installation event that was sponsored by London Arts and it was shown at the Ministry of Sound and the Love Bytes Festival. The event was also shown around Europe (from Ars Futura to Madrid) and Russia. James negotiated a £150,000 investment with Bertlesman Music Group for Thumb Candy Ltd, which later became an interactive sublabel of BMG.

By 1995, a £1,000,000 plus publishing deal was negotiated with Michael Kushner (VP of Philips Interactive Media). Filming began around 1995 until 1996. More than 150 characters, dancers, actors, and voice-over artists were involved. Some of the actors/actresses include Mark Wigan, Terrence Mckenna, Robin Rimbaud, Matt Black, Eva Pascoe, James Lavelle, Redma, and Neal Stephenson among others. Labels such as Def Jam, Warp, R&S, Apollo, Sounds of the Underground, Island, Moving Shadow, Ninja Tune, Gee Street and ITP were involved. Some of the famous acts, such as Stereo MCs (best known for their famous single "Connected"), Herbie Hancock (best known for "Rockit"), and Joe Henderson (best known for "Blue Bossa") were also involved.

By the time development was already finished in 1997, Philips Interactive Media closed its doors and Thumb Candy (the interactive sublabel of BMG) bought the rights back to the game. Much of the marketing was done through The Sci-Fi Channel (in the UK) and on the Internet.[1]

Availability

Prior to the mid-2010s, much of the information regarding the game was very scarce on the internet. Much of the information regarding the game can be seen on a timeline page from The 1010 Festival.[2] The game could be bought from Organa (until the late 2000s), according to one of the comments from 1010. The last working Wayback Machine snapshot of the games' Organa page (with an option to purchase the game) dates back to December 3, 2007, with the same page producing an Error 404 message by April 26, 2008. It is unclear if the remaining 20,000 copies were cleared out from the warehouse or not.

Additionally, Olaf Wendt uploaded a promo video of the game on his website, but sadly it was deleted from his website until a YouTube user named Evan Collins uploaded the video on October 31, 2017.

Nine years after the 1010 timeline page, Adventure Legends user scaryfun uploaded a beta build of the game from May 24th, 1996, on July 10th, 2013. The beta version is almost identical to the final version, but with slight differences. Much of the story in the beta version is incomplete due to script-related errors. Three years later, a user named "Gamecare" uploaded the final version of the game to MEGA on June 9th, 2016.[3]

Videos

Gameplay of the beta version of the game.
A promo (TV spot) of the game.
A longplay of the final version of the game (by ChipCheezumLPs, starts at 6:11).

References