Today’s a pretty dark anniversary. On August 31st 1888 Mary Ann Nichols was found dead on a Whitechapel street, the first victim of Jack the Ripper. I have this and many other morbid facts in my brain because I immersed myself in everything about the case over the past year while I was writing up this story on a canceled Jack the Ripper game that let you play as him. Mary Ann Nichols would have been in the game, a victim of your actions, but it would have been revealed that she was actually a vampire queen. Considering that she has descendants alive today (she was 43 years old when she died, and had five children) many considered this in bad taste, to say the least.
I had been waiting to tell this story for a very long time, as I had heard of the game’s existence over a decade ago and was just waiting for someone to reveal some more about it. Instead the game was quietly cancelled, and I was incredulous. How could people work for years and years on a project and then be told to kept silent about their work? After covering the industry for years of course I know better- this is a familiar story for most game developers, especially ones at the big studios.
It’s also curious to see how people respond to the story. It seems almost split between thoughts that it could have been a fun experience to shocked horror that it was considered at all. Going into researching this article I was skeptical that they could have been aiming for anything other than shock and awe, although I found that the developers certainly believed they could make it respectful to the real people involved.
In any case, the response to this article has been incredible, which makes me happy. It’s the largest feature I’ve ever worked on, which involved interviewing a number of people directly involved with the project, collecting never-before-seen images, and going over countless drafts. It was a blast to create and I hope you enjoy this peek behind game development.