Developed by DreamWorks Interactive under the leadership of future Xbox designer Seamus Blackley, it was an attempt to combine the world of Jurassic Park with the possibilities of real-time physics simulations but was a victim of its own overambition. The game launched in 1998 in a rough state, with reviewers highlighting its countless bugs and graphical glitches, alongside the frustratingly slow movement speed of its central protagonist Anne and a whole host of other issues.
In the intervening years, fans have stepped up to try and correct some of these problems via mods, but what you might not know is that Blackley himself briefly returned to the Jurassic Park franchise to try and fix this black mark on his resume. He revealed more about this in a recent Twitter thread.
According to Blackley, after working at Xbox for a number of years following the failure of Trespasser, he went to work in finance for the CAA, the Creative Artists Agency. It was here that he again encountered Steven Spielberg, whom he had previously worked with on Trespasser and who was a client of the CAA at the time.
Spielberg didn't like seeing a creative person like Blackley in a finance role, and later on, while thinking about rebooting the Jurassic Park franchise, gave him a way out of his well-paid job where he was "unhappy as hell".
As Blackley reveals, the next thing he knew the famous producer Kathleen Kennedy was asking him to write a story and gameplay pitch for a new Jurassic Park game to pitch to Steven Spielberg and the co-presidents of Universal, and to make a trailer to show Spielberg personally. Once the nerves had settled down, Blackley managed to come up with a new spin on the series:
"I wrote a story about dinosaurs on Isla Sorna and the research sites escaping, and about how humans had to come to terms with the original owners of the planet. My thesis was that audiences wanted to KNOW the dinosaurs more than to kill them.
"Not monsters. Earthlings. And…with the help of incredibly talented artists and coders, we made a game design, an art design, and a story Bible. We called it Jurassic World."
If that name sounds familiar to you, congratulations on not living under a rock. Also, pay attention to what happens next, as it is perhaps the most interesting part of this whole unbelievable story.
According to Blackley, he put together a trailer that Spielberg ended up loving, but it wasn't enough to save the game with internal changes at Universal meaning he would eventually start redirecting all the art assets to another producer named Frank Marshall instead. The project was cancelled internally because of these changes, but the materials and storyboards didn't go to waste, with Marshall using them to inform the next Jurassic Park film, eventually retitled Jurassic World.
It's fascinating to hear about this obscure video game project, and even more fascinating to hear how it influenced the record-breaking blockbuster from 2015. Blackley has promised to share some storyboards and art in the future, and we can't wait to see more of this forgotten project in the coming months.