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Appeal S.A.

Overview

Appeal was a Belgian game development studio formed by Yves Grolet, Franck Sauer and Yann Robert in the summer of 1995. The three had previously been working together on coin-op games at Art & Magic. The studio was founded with the purpose to create a blockbuster title based on new technology. They quickly teamed up with the French publishing house Infogrames and began work on their first title.

Much of the development was spent on technology. Appeal focused on voxel-based graphics, opposed to Direct3D-accelerated graphics which required a separate 3D card. They also created an advanced AI system called GAIA and the graphics/sound rendering API Paradise. Most of that technology was tested in the 1997 game No Respect, a futuristic flying shooter that was met with mediocre reviews. It was only a side project for a flagship title they were working on, the action/adventure game Outcast released in July 1999. Although running at a low resolution of 512x384, the non-linear gameworld, the orchestrated music and the attention to the lush environment, story and general atmosphere brought praise to the game, also the first title of Belgian origin to make such an impact worldwide. The game sold 400,000 copies, but this was not as much as Infogrames had hoped, killing off the Dreamcast port and chances for an enhanced Windows version supporting 3D acceleration.

Appeal began work on a sequel, Outcast 2: The Lost Paradise, for Windows and the PlayStation 2. The general game design would be similar, but to appeal to a broader audience more arcade-like changes were announced, such as more action and stealth, taking away a slice from the adventure portion of the game. In 2002, a release date around 2003-2004 was proposed. The company was however struggling, as Yves Grolet and several other members had already left in 2000. Development did not move on as planned, and publisher Infogrames put the game on hold. Appeal also spent time on the pre-production of a title based on the Belgian comics icon Tintin, but eventually in August 2002 the company declared its bankruptcy.

The spirit of Appeal lived on in the development studio elseWhere Entertainment SPRL, founded in 2001 by the former Appeal member Yves Grolet. elseWhere also focused on new technology first and made plans to develop the real sequel to Outcast, but Infogrames held on to its intellectual property, causing the developers to create an entirely new universe, but with a similar feel. The spiritual sequel (Project Alpha) as well as a racing game (Project Beta) were never released and elseWhere went on to join the 10tacle group in 2005 where it worked on entirely different games.

The other two founders, Yann Robert and Franck Sauer, went on to establish the development studio Fresh3D S.A.R.L. in the summer of 2004.

Trivia

The company website was formerly located at www.appeal.be

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