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Bungie's unreleased Project Phoenix had a blocky 'Minecraft-like' renderer

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An unreleased Bungie venture called Project Phoenix included "Minecraft-like" mechanics for building castles out of blocks, Bungie co-founder Jason Jones told IGN.

Project Phoenix was in development alongside Halo: Combat Evolved and was eventually overtaken by the first-person shooter and its sequel, Halo 2, he said.

"It was a game that was based on a technology that was sort of Minecraft-like, in that it could render ... You could build castles out of blocks, for example, and then knock them down," Jones said. "Ultimately the reason the game never saw the light of day was because of Halo. The [Project Phoenix] team got scavenged a number of times, both on Halo 1 and Halo 2, to finish Halo."

Jones said Project Phoenix was more like Minecraft's building blocks than its open-world sandbox structure, and pointed specifically to its renderer.

"It was cool," he said. "There were big castles and you could knock them down with trebuchets. Knocking holes in the wall, and dudes would come out."

For more on the developer's next project, Destiny, be sure to check out Polygon's interview with Bungie president Harold Ryan.