I will admit, I’m as big of a sucker for nostalgia as they come. I totally get the desire to see modern reimaginings of or sequels to the beloved games from my youth. As I type this, I can see the now-dusty 3DS I bought at launch just so I could play Ocarina of Time in 3D. I didn’t care that there were no other games I wanted to play for the system or that there was a price drop mere weeks later; I just wanted my sweet Zelda fix. Nintendo made some money, I got my game, and everyone was happy.
In my experience, the power of nostalgia can lead to some poor financial decisions. However, one I’d recommend you to think twice about is backing the Kickstarter for Precursor Games’ Shadow of the Eternals, a spiritual sequel to Eternal Darkness by Silicon Knights. From Polygon:
“Silicon Knights, still battling a $4.45 million judgment that favored Epic Games, is down to just a few employees, has closed its office and has sold off office equipment and game assets, Polygon has learned.
The company laid off most of its employees last summer, a source tells Polygon. Around the same time, a core group of Silicon Knights employees, including founder Denis Dyack, created a new studio: Precursor Games.
Precursor Games, formed about 30 miles west of the now-empty offices of St. Catharines, Ontario-based Silicon Knights, also purchased some of Silicon Knights’ assets, including art assets, desks, chairs and even computers, a move that spurred an examination by Epic Games attorneys, according to court records.”
Yes, Eternal Darkness was a fantastic game and one that deserves a sequel, but it seems odd that a company (or what remains of one) is trying to raise $1.5 million to make a new game when they already owe $4.45 million to another developer. It becomes even more peculiar when you consider the state of things at Silicon Knights before its “transition.” From Kotaku:
“The former employees [of Silicon Knights] I spoke with painted a very different picture: an environment in which one man wields absolute power over everything that went on within the studio’s four walls. One source described SK president Denis Dyack as a man who has ‘repeatedly stated to the company that artists are ‘a dime a dozen’ and can be replaced.’ The same source described Dyack as a man who “proudly smiles in staff meetings and describes his role as a ‘benevolent dictatorship.’… Dyack is SK; SK is Dyack. They are one and the same — a single unchanging entity.
Former employees also described Dyack as aloof and disconnected from the development process. Some posit that he refused to read the game’s design documents, its script, or play any builds of the game himself, yet this seems a little far-fetched considering the game’s two-and-a-half year gestation.
‘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.’”
This doesn’t exactly sound like a guy that I want to give my money to in the unguaranteed hopes of getting a worthy sequel to one of the best horror games ever made. Despite how badly I want this game to turn out well, it’s tough to look at the evidence and imagine everything going according to plan. Precursor Games claims that Dyack is not in any leadership position at the company, but it seems like everything he touches turns into a lawsuit or a 47 on Metacritic. Buyer beware.