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Shadow of the Eternals Roundtable Discussion

by Neal Ronaghan - May 8, 2013, 9:26 am PDT
Total comments: 7

The NWR staff talks about the Eternal Darkness spiritual successor. Is it all just a sanity effect?

We recently found out all sorts of crazy info about Precursor Games' Shadow of the Eternal, the spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. It's slated for Wii U if it's crowdfunding succeeds.

Are we optimistic about this development? Does Denis Dyack's involvement freak us out? Will you donate money towards the game?

Andy Goergen: For better or worse, Dyack was responsible for the first game, which was excellent. I'm excited about the potential here, but still a little confused as to whether this is an "official" sequel or not, as the IP ownership is fuzzy. Either way, the trailer looks pretty great so I'm on board. I don't think he'll have too much trouble getting the funding. If Zack Braff can make Garden State 2, Denis Dyack can make Eternal Darkness 2.

Neal Ronaghan: I'm definitely wary of Dyack's recent track record, but Eternal Darkness was such an important title in my gaming history that I can't help but want to throw down for Shadow of the Eternals. It's like the new Star Wars movies to me; even if it sucks, I still want to see/play it. I still want it to be made. Dammit, I want to play this final product really badly.

 

Tyler Ohlew: I don't see any reason to not be optimistic. Optimism and HOLY HELL GIVE IT TO ME NOW are completely different. Why waste my time dreading something when I can instead hope for the beat?

As far as Dennis Dyack goes, I don't feel as I'd it's impossible for him to make a great game. He's done it twice before (yes folks, Twin Snakes is not the missile-dodging abomination you may think it is), and he's also made some mistakes. Is he suddenly talentless? Time will tell, but why not give him a shot?

As much claim as he has to the Eternal Darkness brand, I wish the game could just stand on its own. I'm not opposed to spiritual-sequels, but its use to gather attention for a crowdfunding effort is not something I agree with.

I likely will not support the funding effort, it's not something I believe in. But all the best to Precursor Games.

J.P. Corbran: Has Dennis Dyack ever made a good game when he didn't have Nintendo as publisher reining him in?

Jonathan Metts: Blood Omen.

I completely understand the cynicism surrounding this announcement. Denis Dyack is an old friend of mine who's been in charge of some fantastic games, though not anytime recently. I am very concerned about his new company's discipline to carry through a project like this, especially with the minimal accountability of the crowdfunding path. On the other hand, the trailer is remarkably faithful to the Eternal Darkness aesthetic (I even recognized a specific camera angle in the cathedral). Trailers are notoriously easy to manipulate, but the fact that even this much of the game can already be presented gives me more hope than I've had for any of Dyack's projects since MGS: The Twin Snakes (which is an excellent version of that game). "Optimistic" is too strong a word in this case, but I am absolutely intrigued and would love to see this game exceed expectations and turn out to be a worthy successor to Eternal Darkness.

J.P.: So the guy made one good game on his own, 17 years ago, and has either been on a fairly tight leash or out of control awful since then? And he now wants to make a game with no producer above him with the fans' money? This is shaping up to be one of the most spectacular busts in the history of gaming.

You also have to wonder if he pitched this to Nintendo as a real Eternal Darkness sequel before going the crowdfunding route.

 

Tom Malina: It seems that the principles of modern game design have eluded Denis Dyack, as he was unable to make a single well-received game this past generation.

Makes you wonder if he is capable of making a modern game. Looking back on Silicon Knights' major projects of yesteryear which were acclaimed critically, we have Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen (PS1), Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GameCube, after starting on N64) and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (GameCube remake of PS1 game). It's like they were a developer of one era and never really successfully made the transition of the current generation.

For my part, I think Eternal Darkness is a cool game with some neat ideas that were ahead of their time when it was first released, but I question whether it would hold up to scrutiny if played today. Regardless, it would be nice to approach Shadow of the Eternal with a degree of optimism, but I am not especially confident. In particular, the crowdfunding aspect to this story sets some alarm bells ringing - I'm not philosophically opposed to the idea of crowdfunding, as it is in some cases a good avenue for small developers to get their projects off the ground. However, in this specific case, I kind of feel like, if no publishers are convinced to give it their support, why should I be?

James Jones: Honestly, I've played ED recently. It feels very creaky in its joints. I'm curious how a team lead by Dyack would go about making the game feel more modern and less restrictive. I get that he can write some creepy shit, but everyone in ED feels a bit sluggish - and not in the way you can justify by "they're not athletes" - because about half of them are.

I have no idea how a Dyack project can be crowdfunded unless literally everyone donates to it. The budget overruns will be immense. Dyack needs a producer who can tell him no. Do not get overwhelmed in the details.

Zach Miller: This is, you know, exciting or whatever, but I won't believe it until the game is on store shelves, available for purchase. (Editor's Note: It's a download game, so I guess Zach will never ever believe this game exists)

 

Jon Lindemann: I'm actually pretty excited to see how this turns out, and I'll contribute most likely. It's nice to see Dyack get out of the courtroom and back to making games.

Danny Bivens: Having just played through Eternal Darkness for the first time last summer, I'm really excited to see how this series can be realized with HD graphics and assets. Being a crowdfunded game does raise some alarm bells in my mind (like mentioned above, was it because publishers just flat out didn't like the game for some reason?), but as long as the story is as creepy as the original and they nail the controls, it shouldn't be a problem. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the episodic nature of the project. If the game can captivate me as much as last year's The Walking Dead from Telltale, I'm in. Like many others, I'm taking a wait and see approach on this.

Tyler: The 9-minute trailer has certainly interested me further in the project, but my optimism can still extend only so far. My primary concern is that demo footage has been kicked around for a while now, as it shares the same "one two-level church interior" that the 'Silicon Knights Whistleblower' revealed to Kotaku late last year. If true, there's no inclination that the staff that produced this demo is an employee of Precursor Games.

The uncertainty of refunds regarding their crowdfunding effort is a hard pill to swallow as well. If I commit to this project, and Precursor doesn't meet their goal, they can still take my pledge and make this game. Problem is I'm investing in a $1.5 million project, not a $700,000 one (hypothetically). Whether or not they can still deliver a great product is not the point, my concern is that maybe what interests me is lost in the process. Regardless, I'm interested, but will invest my money in the finished product should it appeal to me.

So what do all of you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Talkback

LouieturkeyMay 08, 2013

I think if it actually gets made, it will be something I'll check out.  I'm surprised they have well over 1000 donators already and almost at 2000 as I type this.  So at least some people are excited by this to think Denis still has it in him to make a good game or there are at least 2000 suckers out there who are getting scammed.

I'm in the wait and see approach.  If this was on Kickstarter or another reputable crowdfunding site, I might be more inclined to donate.  Since it is direct through Precursor Games, they pretty much are taking a collection tin and going to the streets of the internet and asking for money without any type of recourse if they fail.  It's free money to them basically.

ejamerMay 08, 2013

If the game does get released then I'd be very excited to play; that seems like a big "if" though. Unfortuantely, I'm not confident enough to gamble my money on the crowdfunding option. Fingers crossed for 2014!

MagicCow64May 08, 2013

Granted the sourcing and all, but I just read that whistleblower article about X-Men Destiny, and boy did that not paint a confidence-inspiring picture.

One potential, upshot, though is that the article depicted Dyack as being obsessed with producing an Eternal Darkness follow-up, and claimed that he used the first game as integrity collateral for negotiating all of their projects. So it could be that Dyack really puts his back into having this game reestablish his credibility.

On the other hand, all of the description of the Eternals demo made it sound pretty hopeless.

Pixelated PixiesMay 08, 2013

I have no intention of donating, but I hope they make a great game. I'm not particularly optimistic about it's prospects given the people who are making it and the games they have released since Eternal Darkness (although this is technically a different company, according to the bios of those working at Precursor Games quite a few are, unsurprisingly, ex-Silicon Knights employees).

I hope it's good, but I'm not hopeful.

AdrockMay 08, 2013

Denis Dyack made a really great point in the IGN interview: "Games that are being published right now, if they're not huge guaranteed successes, they just won't even be looked at by traditional publishers." That's true for the most part. An Eternal Darkness sequel would have been a hard sell to any publisher, including Nintendo, since it wasn't super-popular. Precursor Games is pitching an Eternal Darkness follow-up, but without the additional benefit of the cult Eternal Darkness name.

This is an uphill battle from the start before even getting into everything that happened with Silicon Knights which may not even be fair. Is Dyack the only link between the two companies? From the IGN interview, he's strictly involved in the game design side and not on the business side at all. Makes sense though I think he made his best work under Nintendo because he had someone (e.g. Miyamoto) telling him X or Y didn't work. Instead, Precursor Games is relying on the community to do that and I think that's part of the problem with this project. Ignoring the fact that the average gamer knows nothing about game design, just getting the Pilot Episode made through crowd funding is going to be tricky. Then, they want to do that 11 more times? I'm sure subsequent episodes will be funded with a mix of profits and crowd funding, but from what I've seen, episodic games tend to gradually lose their audience.

Ultimately, I wish Precursor Games the best of luck. I have faith in Denis Dyack as a game designer. I liked Eternal Darkness (and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes). I hope the game gets made in some way because I think the concept is really interesting. However, beyond crowd funding the Pilot Episode, I just don't see it happening unless Precursor Games funds it themselves. Or a publisher picks it up and either releases it as a whole at retail or releases it digitally with fewer episodes (as in combining episodes so I and II would be one download for example). I would strong consider buying it once the entire game was finished so I can play it beginning to end, but I don't believe in the crowd funding nature of a project so ambitious. Perhaps they should have started with a side-story or a short prequel just to make a name for themselves because right now Precursor Games is riding on the coattails of an essentially defunct company whose best work is owned by a different company. If they had done that and been successful, maybe a publisher (even Nintendo) would have said, "Yes, let's make this game." They're betting the company on a really risky venture and I don't know if it's going to pan out.

Ian SaneMay 08, 2013

Quote from: Adrock

Denis Dyack made a really great point in the IGN interview: "Games that are being published right now, if they're not huge guaranteed successes, they just won't even be looked at by traditional publishers."

This is depressing but also, deep down, I've known this for the last several years.  Videogame development has become very expensive and videogames are now mainstream.  A dev either has to make their game more low tech or go for the big mainstream hit and with the money involved it is obvious which option the publisher is going to pick.  The golden age of videogames being made for an audience of geeks and kids, and making a profit doing so, is over.

FrogEMay 24, 2013

Shadow of the Eternals is on kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/617502838/shadow-of-the-eternals?ref=card


The project is picking up pace, check out the new videos on the kicksterter page. They are uploading more almost every day. This project is serious and so is its community. I'm part of it and from the inside, this game is looking like it's going to be a real gem.


If you don't believe me, pledge $5 and see the community for yourself. If you don't like it, you can remove your pledge before the kickstarter ends, if you do like it, pledge more and get better rewards.


If anyone has any questions about the project, I will do my best to answer them, or find the answer if I don't know.

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