If you're anything like us, you may have been wondering exactly what happened to I Am Alive.

Originally slated to be a retail release, the game vanished shortly after its official announcement at E3 2008. Then in January 2010 during a conference call Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot revealed the game was being "totally re-engineered" by Ubisoft Shanghai using the Splinter Cell engine.

Then this past September the project suddenly reappeared via a new trailer, revealing its new status as a downloadable title.

It's a complex and muddled development, but one which Ubisoft has now detailed to VideoGamer.com.

"You know, when you hear of a game that disappears like that, especially with a new IP, it probably means that the game is going through several development cycles," said creative director Stan Mettra, speaking to VideoGamer.com today.

"It means we make the first bit, one, two or three levels - the whole game, sometimes - and it's still not there. We have a cool idea at the beginning, everybody gets excited, but we get the game and it's just not getting there.

"That was what happened with the first game, that was made in France by Darkworks studios."

Following initial dissatisfaction with the Darkworks effort, development was shifted to Ubisoft Shanghai, where the game was redesigned from the ground up.

"When the game came to Shanghai, we already had this production," Mettra explained.

"It was like, 'Okay, we've got a cool idea. We've got the game but it's not there yet. Let's keep building.' So we basically started from scratch, with a new concept, a new changed setting, and a new constraint - because we wanted to make it a downloadable title for XBLA and PSN."

According to Mettra, the only trace of Darkworks' game is a similarity of concept. The new I Am Alive uses a completely new engine, and has been developed by a completely different team.

Mettra argues that turning the project into a downloadable title has allowed the team to be bolder in their game design.

"We could go a bit more extreme, make more radical choices. The promise of the game was kind of calling for someone to make choices that might be hard to accept with the constraints of a triple-A, mass market game."

Despite the change of platform, Mettra still claims that I Am Alive will be a major release for Ubisoft.

"It's a huge downloadable game," he said. "It's pushing the limits of what has been done in this kind of market."