Deadlock: The Early Days


Thanks to information imparted by Deadlock’s design team on the forum, light has been shed on Deadlock’s development and elements that were changed or removed before the release of the game. Screenshots featured on the European, German and French version of Deadlock’s boxes give a far look back into the Alpha stages of the game, back into the days when the game was known as “XenoSphere”. Once again, an extra special thanks goes to Deadlock’s seven man design team for a large amount of this information.

Deadlock’s Working Title, “XenoSphere” and the Name “Deadlock”:

During Deadlock: Planetary Conquest’s development, the game was known simply as XenoSphere. Accolade’s PR liked the title “Deadlock”, so eventually the name XenoSphere was dropped in favour of the new name. The story was also changed in reflection of the new name, with the gameplay resulting from a Deadlock between the races.

Skirineen Raids and the Salesman’s Degraded Video Effect:

The game’s resources make several references to Skirineen Raids. “*annoa.smk” in each races video folder (except for the Humans and Tarth, * being the first letter of the races name, except for the Cyth, in which it is Y), on the game CD, features a plea (to other races?) for assistance as Skirineen Commandos are landing from Orbit. In *annob, the advisor informs the Colony Leader about this occurrence (The Humans are missing this line too). Subtitles even exist for the missing lines. The localisations (German, French, etc) include both these lines (including those missing in the English version). Oolan also mentions that Satellite Beams can cause a Skirineen raid. Several Audio files “*triba” in each races folder, on localised versions and also the subtitles in all languages, mention that the colony was invaded illegally by the Skirineen.

To initiate a raid on another colony, a colony leader was presented with another option when utilising the Black Market, “Hire Commando”. The screenshot to the left shows the early black market window, the Re’lu advisor was obviously a placeholder while the Skirineen salesman        

                                                                                   was still been modelled or fixed.

“Quick bit of trivia: one of the reasons the Skirineen ended up with that degraded video effect is because Viewpoint totally whiffed on the model (super lame), and built it with these big blocky teeth that looked terrible. Our budget ran out with them, and on our side we didn't have 3d tools to model a reptilian mouth... soooo we got creative. The noise filter was a bit of a problem for Dan when he was trying to compress the videos down to a workable data rate...”

- Ken Capelli (goblin)

Gallius IV Tribunal:

“We did have a number of cinematics planned that never made it to production... there was something kinda cinematic called the Tribunal where you'd be brought before shadowy figures (the overlords who were watching over the Gallius IV contest) for some sort of judgment if you were caught using the Skirineen. Early on it was going to be realtime 3d with some sort of conversation tree and (what we now call) minigames. We even had test renders, done with motion capture on an untextured, early Maug model. THAT mode went away fairly quickly when Russell did data throughput calculations on how much data needs to come off the CD or HD (audio, motion data, 3d data, textures) to pull it off to a quality level and found that computers at that time just were not capable. It was very ambitious and was cut early. For context, part-way through development the first Tomb Raider came out... THAT was the state of the art for unaccelerated 3d graphics. Go take a look at how that looks. What we wanted for the Tribunal was, like, Starcraft fidelity at least. For further context, what the PC was capable of just in terms of video was pretty lean, too. That's why the talking heads were that small... what, 150x150 pixels? And even at that size, Dan and Mark had to spend a LOT of time compressing and recompressing each video to play back smoothly, not look too compressed, yet still fit through the data straw. *golf claps to them”

- Ken Capelli (goblin)

Early Re’lu Building Designs:

A screenshot taken from Deadlock’s now dead official website shows a slightly different design for the Re’lu’s buildings. The most noticeable difference is the purple colouring, as opposed to the aqua colouring used in the final game.

Drawing of Resource Bonuses:

At one stage of development, resource bonuses were drawn above placed buildings. This feature is evident in quite a few of the early screenshots. The screenshot to the left, also taken from Deadlock’s official website, shows an iron bonus drawn above the Surface Mine. The land formation is notable here, since this formation would never appear in any game.

Toolbar Buttons:

This toolbar here appears to have an extra button between the Send Message and Black Market buttons. Two other buttons appear instead of the Set Tax and Morale buttons, to the left of these two buttons is an extra zoom out button.

Back from the days of XenoSphere, this toolbar is very different from the one in the finished game, while some of the familiar buttons are there, over half are unrecognisable.

Roads Running Between Territories:

Avery early screenshot from the French version’s box, shows a road running into the next territory. In the finished game, connecting roads are only visible from the world view. This screenshot seems to be from a very early build of the game, most of the buttons are missing from the toolbar and the map/enemy message window is floating separate from the interface. Several buttons on the toolbar do not appear in the finished game. Notice too that the territory is missing the grid and the formation of the land, like in the screenshot above, would never appear in the finished game.

Research Progress Bar:

Initially the research progress bar used flat colours, like what would eventually be used in Deadlock II, as opposed to the gradient seen in the full game. The resource window in this screenshot does not yet have a background picture.

Money and Turn Number Background:

Evidently the design team experimented with making the background for the Money and Turn Number boxes black at one stage, but, thankfully went back to the grey pattern.

Unused Random Events:

Several Random Events are mentioned in Deadlock’s resources which are not included in the game. These strings were found in the Deadlock for Macintosh application in the CSt# resource ID 500:



Natural Disaster


Stops Transportation in Territory

Hurricanes move from territory to territory.  Transportation is impossible through hurricane blasted territories.  However, these storms usually follow a set weather pattern, so you can estimate which territory they will go through next.

Sea Beast


Natural Disaster


Sinks Ships

There has been recent sightings of a huge monster thriving in the oceans of Gallius IV.  If this leviathan is spotted in an ocean territory on your coast take precautions -- it may sink your ships.  Note that all attempts to kill or sedate this horrible creature have failed.

Transportation Strike


Low Morale


Resource Transportation Costs More

Moving resources between your territories is a hazardous job -- many dangers can sideswipe a hovertruck.  Because of this and other gripes transport workers may start a strike, immediately raising transportation costs.  These rates do not come down until the strike is over.

Torrential Seas


Natural Disaster


Stops Ship Movement.

Fierce sea storms are not uncommon over Gallius IV's oceans.  These rough waters prevent all ships from moving until the storm dies down.

Bumper Harvest


Chance Event


Increases Food Production.

The perfect combination of rain and sun lets your crops thrive.  Territories experiencing this excellent weather increase their food production.

Baby Boom


Chance Event


Increases Colonists.

A wave of romance sweeps over your colony, causing an unexpected baby boom.  Your colony's population will fill their housing very quickly.

Fanatical Troops


High Morale


Gives Units Attack Bonus.

If you win several battles, your military may become completely loyal to you.  All your military units gain a huge attack bonus for a period of time.  Once you lose a battle, your troops will immediately stop being fanatical.

Alpha Screenshots:

All the scanned images used to illustrate the points above.