Shadow of the Eternals Developer Launches Ambitious (and Confusing) Kickstarter
Darkness has returned.
If you’ve ever owned a GameCube, chances are you’ve heard of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. It was a mature horror game that could and did stand toe-to-toe with Resident Evil and Silent Hill sequels, and which became a cult classic almost immediately. The distinctive ‘Sanity system,’ a mechanic that changes the game depending on how strong your grip on reality is, was so unique it’s filed with the US Patent and Trademark office as patent #6935954.
Controls were a little clunky, which is understandable because it began development as a title meant for the N64. However, it was the story that enveloped you, taking you through 20 centuries seen through the eyes of 12 different protagonists.
Fast forward back to today, where elements of Shadow of the Eternals, the “spiritual successor” to the 2002 Eternal Darkness, were created at game developer Silicon Knights (the makers of the original) and then sold to new developer, Hamilton, Ontario-based Precursor Games.
This is where things start to get a little messy: Precursor Games is headed by Paul Caporicci, who was laid off from Silicon Knights in July of last year, and its chief creative officer is Denis Dyack, the founder of Silicon Knights. Dyack once proudly described his role in SK as a “benevolent dictatorship” and former employes (kept anonymous in this Kotaku article) have said:
“He runs his company like a high school gym class or football team... He sets examples of those who offend him. He is incapable of celebrating others’ success. He is irrationally competitive to a fault; for example, he has to sue Epic Games and gloat about it online. [In his mind] you’re either for him, or against him.”
Former employees have held Dyack to blame for some of the reasons why a celebrated studio backed by one of the richest game publishers in the world could produce the horrible trainwreck of generic mediocrity that was X-Men: Destiny. In the same Kotaku article:
"I distinctly remember a theater review of the ‘Chinatown' level, which was so broken that it was completely unnavigable, even by the lead designer playing it," a source says. "Dyack's only note was that the ‘lights should be more red.' In another instance, he thought the final boss fight should be interrupted by ‘a challenge room'—his favourite thing from Too Human."
Another source recounts an anecdote from a different theater review. "The game was an unplayable disaster [in the review], but he got fixated on a static mesh of a non-interactive grey truck in the background. He gave the company a 20 minute lecture on the fact that he'd never buy a grey truck; he wanted it painted red." Accordingly, some SK employees sniggered behind their backs at Dyack: "We jokingly coined the phrase ‘paint the truck!' for other ridiculous, off-the-hip ‘executive orders' that sprang forth from Denis' mouth," says the same source. "Incidentally, I played the game after release... the truck is still grey."
In spite of this, Dyack’s presence on the creative team, along with Caporicci’s assurances that the company is in “constant communication with [Nintendo]” is one of the main reasons why the company’s latest Paypal crowdfunding endeavor has garnered so much attention. At the time of writing this article, Precursor has made about 10% ($156,340) of it’s $1.5 million goal with 24 days left to make the rest.
The Move to Kickstarter
This is where it gets messy again. Despite that fundraiser having quite a ways to go, Precursor Games has now launched a Kickstarter campaign as well, for $1.35 million. As of this writing, the Kickstarter has made a little more than 1% ($18,320) with 36 days left to go. The existence of both options has been confusing for fans, particularly with official announcement that the two campaigns would run concurrently.
From the looks of it though, the official funding endeavor has been moved to Kickstarter, where the $150,000 already made through the Paypal crowdfunding has been taken off the Kickstarter total. The Paypal option exists only for those who don’t want to support Shadow of the Eternals through Kickstarter. That is, the goal amount is still $1.5 million, not $2.85 million.
The company has come out to assure fans that if the $1.5 million goal is not met, all pledges and donations will be refunded from both campaigns. As it stands though, whether or not the target amount can be made in a matter of weeks, not months, is highly debatable.