DayZ creator’s space game Ion has been cancelled

Ion, a simulation-heavy space game inspired by role-playing adventure Space Station 13 and announced by Dean Hall back at E3 in 2015 has been cancelled, reports Eurogamer. A sad day for fans of dying from a lack of oxygen in a floating metal cylinder, but perhaps not surprising given the ambition behind the game. “I want a game that is not a game,” Hall had said at the original unveiling. “I want a game that is a universe. A universe built not on scripts or quests, but on the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry.” Looks like that was aiming quite high.

The game was being made in a partnership between Hall’s studio RocketWerkz and British developer Improbable but both parties have told news digger Robert Purchese that work on it has been discontinued.

“We’re not actively working on Ion, no,” said Hall. “I am not involved in that, no. Nor is RocketWerkz studio in New Zealand.

“When I look at Ion,” he added, “Ion could only happen with a company like Improbable, with the scale of technology like that, and that’s not a game we could do alone.”

But Improbable likewise have no plans of their own to go ahead with it.

“Ion was initially conceived as a project for co-development between Improbable and RocketWerkz,” a statement said. “A lot has changed since then. Dean Hall moved back to New Zealand from London, RocketWerkz has started work on a number of other games, and we have grown increasingly into a platform for games to be deployed on.

“We can definitely say that Improbable is not currently working on Ion. However, we have not previously commented on and cannot now comment on RocketWerkz’ current or future plans.”

It’s worth reading the whole shebang at Eurogamer, which took Rob weeks of back-and-forth questioning between the parties, yet me mere moments to grab and smear my grubby churnalist mitts all over. The latter part of the article explores Hall’s thoughts on the cancellation, while not exactly illuminating the exact reason for it. But it does include this nice quote:

“I’m definitely of the opinion that you don’t deflect blame to someone else simply because it falls at you. There was a phrase I heard often in the military, ‘It went wrong and you were there.’”

This is sorrowful news for myself, a lover of both ill-fated interplanetary antics and the superfine detail of sims like DayZ. Imagining the ruthlessness of some of my Cherno encounters but on a crumbling space station was enough to get me excited. Oh well, goodbye sweet vacuum-wrapped human. We barely knew ye.


  1. Junkmail says:

    And another Space Station 13 bites the dust.

    Between this, the remake, centration all being failures, I’m beginning to think there’s no way something like ss13 can arise in a traditional development environment.

    All hopes on Barotrauma.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      Turns out SS13 itself went sapient, and is now stalking the internet killing everything that tries to join it in its niche.

    • lukemiller150 says:

      hi, it was awesome story, i appreciate this.

  2. Beard_Arthur says:

    Dean Hall is game development kryptonite.

    • Kazic says:

      So true. He stumbled upon one good idea but was completely unable to execute on it. He squandered so much time, money and goodwill with DayZ.

      • Tartrazine says:

        I think there needs to be a redefining of what a failed game is. If the hours you spent with a game / how much you paid < your average price per hour spent at the pub or cinema or whatever other form of paid activity you do for fun then you got your moneys worth. That makes it a success afaic, given I have a simplistic moneys worth approach.

        DayZ SA was 10p an hour for me. And I will still likely take another look at some time or other. That makes Dean Hall a good egg in my book.

  3. geldonyetich says:

    “I want a game that is not a game,” Hall had said at the original unveiling. “I want a game that is a universe. A universe built not on scripts or quests, but on the laws of physics, biology, and chemistry.” Looks like that was aiming quite high.

    Some form of highness may have been a factor.

    I’m similarly ambitious, but I’m shooting for building blocks of story elements. If you start with mere atoms, you’ll be trying to prove spontaneous generation.

  4. KastaRules says:

    How many projects has this guy dropped so far? If he starts a new one he better change his name.

  5. Uberwolfe says:

    Gee, this comes as a surprise /s

    Dean Hall is the new Peter Molyneux.. without the financial backing.

    • Premium User Badge

      ooshp says:

      Hey, Molyneux actually released some games. Quite a few, in fact.

      I do admire the way Hall is able to sponge so much money from the industry without apparently doing anything beyond making one mod.

  6. solopopo says:

    Dean Hall is a joke. This is not the first time one of his projects collapsed under it’s own expectations. He leaves the development team of Day Z because it turns out his vision was impossible to deliver, and now for a second time he is bailing on another project because it’s impossible to deliver. Deal Hall is nothing more than an idea man, and he isn’t even a very original one. Current technology is not ready for the things he tries to deliver. Some would argue that makes him visionary. I’d argue it makes him an incompetant idiot with a child’s imagination and no understanding of programming or it’s current limitations.

    Let this be a lesson to anyone considering employing this failure. He made a popular mod for Arma 2 and everyone has been praising him ever since. It makes no sense. Anyone can mod arma. The game is designed to be modded. Most of what Day Z is praised for is the work of Bohemia Interactive. His only contribution to the Armaverse was “hmm, I think it would be cool to make the game’s soldiers walk around without their guns like zombies.” That is the extend of this “inovator’s” contribution to gaming. He clearly can’t stand with real game developers, which was evident before, but now it’s set in stone.

    Bye, Dean Hall. You will not be missed.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      And I’m sure he speaks very highly of you too.

      I like how everyone conveniently omits that BOHEMIA are the ones making the mistakes here, NOT Dean Hall. You can be a douchebag to him all you want but BI are the ones who took him on to make a standalone version of the game because they knew it would do a shitload of good to theor franchise and branding. If anything he set the game up more than he ever could as a modder; there is a team of over 70 people working on it now, rather than just one modder with limited ability. He left BI because that was always his intention once the DayZ team was set up and moving forward with the game – something he was very clear on for a while.

      Don’t take this as any kind of defence of DayZ; personally I think it’s a crap game and I’m glad I never bought it. But don’t use misinformation as a salve to soothe your pain for being a dickhead and buying a game in early access that was based on a buggy, unfinished mod. I mean what the fuck did you think was going to happen?

      • syndrome says:

        How’s this changing what solopopo said about Hall?
        Let’s say I am deeply acquainted with the software development process, especially in the games industry, and I have the same feelings about DayZ. Bohemia was extremely conservative in speculating what to do with Arma or what will happen next. That’s the sole reason why they made it moddable in the first place, so that someone like Hall could dig a gold mine for them. Once he eventually did, they made a deal. The guy is a noob with impossible ambitions, too much time, and too many lucky strikes, and that was so apparent right from the start. What he stumbled upon wasn’t even what he aimed for, just shhhhh.

        At any rate, you can tell how unfathomable true programming is for him, just by trying to understand why he called his company RocketWerkz.. Yes, yes, he’s known as Dean “Rocket” Hall, which is the lamest pseudo ever, so there’s an intended pun, but think about it. RocketWerkz tries to convey his personal impression about the business. This is what he wanted you to perceive about his development “mastery”. And after so many bugs in DayZ, do you really believe in it?

        RocketWerkz is about the same as John3381Werkz. A misspelled gimmick with a lame nick all over it. I’m sorry.

        • ColonelFlanders says:

          You lost your credibility in that comment when you said that Rocket was a lame pseudonym, without taking the time to look up, just a little bit, at your own. Syndrome sounds like a bad guy from a kids’ mov- oh wait, that IS what it’s from.

          Regardless my point is that why is anyone so angry about something which was clearly going to happen? The guy has no background apart from basic modding of a buggy pile of arse; I mean he was in the army for crying out loud; they aren’t exactly know for their large-scope videogame designers. It’s all well and good to get pissed off at Hall, or say incredibly shitty things like ‘this guy is a joke’ when everyone around him are the ones that enabled this to happen. If Bohemia hadn’t been idiots for employing him, and gamers hadn’t been idiots for actually buying a broken version of a buggy mod, then maybe none of this would happened. It’s the circumstances that create the individual, not the individual that creates the circumstances.

          • Snowskeeper says:

            Wasn’t he working at Bohemia befire he developed DayZ?

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            No, he was brought on as a contractor to Develop DayZ Standalone following the success of the mod. He may very well have still been actively working on the mod while all this was secret, but that is the timeline of things.

          • syndrome says:

            Haha, ok, fair enough…

            Although that’s just a shortened version of my true pseudo (Orion Syndrome) which is as old as the Orion constellation itself (like 1992?), and people actually call me like that in my actual, non-English, Eastern-European ‘lyfe’*. Excuses, I know…

            *(Besides, I firmly believe in that Tolkien’s Sylvan self-naming system to which any young elf is entitled after the first 120 years, while everybody else has to acknowledge it)

            FWIW, I sincerely doubt that anyone calls Dean “Hey Rocket!”

            Oh, and btw, my nickname has nothing to do with a movie that came to be 12 years later…. :/

            If you don’t believe me, check the registration of my domain……

          • syndrome says:

            oh well, even the whois records are against me, for moving my DNS records between providers….. nvm, what can I say, you def win in that argument, I guess!1

    • Moraven says:

      Like it or not, his mod spawned a whole genre of games that are rather popular.

      He had his chance at Bohemia. They spent 2-3s on the standalone with no progress while the mod development slowed.

      Not finishing anything will haunt him, but at least we got Rust, Ark and the many other more finished survival genre games.

  7. cardboardcity says:

    At least he took responsibility for it.

  8. Uglycat says:

    I thot that game was Dwarf Fortress.

  9. Heavens says:

    My personal “christmas wish” when it comes to space things:

    – Has EVE Online’s list of things to do and player-driven economy
    – The piloting of Elite Dangerous (or simply “real” piloting)
    – Preserve the “vastness feeling” of Elite Dangerous, EVE-O does start to feel a wee bit small after a while

    Obviously there’s going to be scaling issues when it comes to player driven economy but we could start off small and open up new star gates as the player base grows to make sure there isn’t a desolate wasteland outside “the core”

    I also realize that SC promises some of the above but I got the feeling that in the end it’s going to be the same old “buy from NPC, sell to NPC” even if you buy up all the titanium in the universe it’s not going to put a dent into the economy.

  10. WOLFGEIST says:

    Despite anything Dean has done good or bad, DayZ is an absolutely amazing game and there’s nothing else like it. It gets a really bad rap basically because BIS decided to have the team revamp the engine which includes tearing what was a monolithic monstrosity apart and rebuilding it into a modular engine. Last year they released the new renderer and so not only is it much more beautiful than Arma 2 but it runs much better as well.

    No matter what you think about Dean, the DayZ dev team is fully committed and is doing a great job even though it is taking longer than expected. It’s almost like building a vastly upgraded simulation engine is difficult or something?

    Even in it’s current state there is nothing that compares to DayZ.