Irrational Games has recalled how in 2005 the developer was pitching zombies and not Big Daddies to publishers.
Its proposed game, Division 9, was aiming for a Dawn of the Dead-style atmosphere where you took down a neverending swarm of zombies from behind barricades. Base-building, resource-collecting and co-op were all part of the plan.
"We were finishing SWAT 4, and Vivendi actually wanted us to do SWAT 5," creative director Ken Levine told Game Informer. "This is one of those points where the money would have been really nice, and they were really good to work with, but I looked around and thought, 'What else have we got to say about this game?'
"We didn't really have anything else to add to what we did [with SWAT 4]. But I wanted the money really badly."
Art director Nate Wells and lead artist Shawn Robertson came up with the idea of a game called The Infected, which they took to Levine and evolved into Zombie SWAT.
"Vivendi was like, 'What's your pitch for SWAT 5?' 'Zombie SWAT,'" said Robertson. "Crickets."
Levine added: "I remember going around pitching it and the person would be, 'Zombies? Who wants to play a zombie game?" Apparently Irrational was told that zombies wouldn't be big in 2005.
Levine said that after putting together a short demo for Vivendi, the project got the green light. Fortunately for the world, 2K Games stepped in and bought Irrational and the rest, as they say, is BioShock.
"I think we would have been very successful with [Division 9]. It would have come out around the same time as BioShock, maybe a little sooner," offered Levine.
The Game Informer piece has the full demo video of Division 9.
The Irrational Games title was reinstated earlier this week after the studio was renamed 2K Boston by owner 2K Games. Irrational launched a new website to coincide with the news, promising podcasts and a refreshed blog to keep us reading.
What Irrational Games is up to, however, is still under wraps, although everyone thinks it's a new X-Com.