News Article

Insider Reports Suggest That Focus On Eternal Darkness 2 Has Crippled Silicon Knights

Posted by Damien McFerran

Less than five staffers remain

After the critical disaster that was X-Men Destiny, things were looking pretty bleak for developer Silicon Knights. However, a recent report by Kotaku — based on interviews with former staff members — reveals just how bad things have become. The studio is believed to have less than five employees, including company president Denis Dyack himself.

The sources quoted in Kotaku's investigation have stated that during the development of X-Men Destiny for Activision, Dyack had 40 percent of the company's staff (around 45 people at the time) working on a sequel to the 2002 GameCube title Eternal Darkness - a project which would ultimately lead nowhere:

"SK didn't take the development of [X-Men Destiny] seriously the entire time I was there," a source says. "They were working on an Eternal Darkness 2 demo that they could take to publishers. While I was there, they were even siphoning off staff from my [XMD] team to work on it." Sources allege that many of SK's programmers, artists and designers were not contributing to the final quality of XMD at all — at least, not in the first year of the game's development. "I was always complaining to the producers about this, as the numbers never worked out," the same source says. "Denis is not an X-Men fan either, so he didn't care much for the license. To him, it seemed more like a job to get us by, until ED2 could be developed and sold to a publisher — which never happened."

Silicon Knights' fall from grace has been dramatic. Before X-Men Destiny, the studio's most recent release was Xbox 360 exclusive Too Human, which tanked with both critics and consumers following a long development period. A costly lawsuit with Epic Games (which Silicon Knights eventually lost) has also been in the headlines lately.

Interestingly, another source claims that the rot began after Silicon Knights and Nintendo parted ways - an event which occurred following the release of the GameCube port of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.

Nintendo's influence — is it alleged — had an effect on the output of the company, forcing Silicon Knights to create better titles that it perhaps would have done on its own. "Nintendo was going to put their name on the game, so it had to be 'Nintendo quality," claims the source. "Once [Nintendo] were out of the picture, SK could do whatever they wanted. Denis believed that SK was finally out from under the oppressive nature of Nintendo as a publisher. Once Denis was given more freedom, things started to fall apart."

How do you feel knowing that Eternal Darkness 2 was actually in development, but is now unlikely to see the light of day? Are you sad to see this once-great studio reduced to just five people, or is Dyack simply getting what he deserves? Let us know in the comments section.

[via gamesindustry.biz, kotaku.com]

More Stories

Game Screenshots

User Comments (53)

TOMBOY25

#1

TOMBOY25 said:

ok iv been told about how great eternal darkness is but iv never heard of it anyone care to give me a rundown of what it is.

cmk8

#2

cmk8 said:

It is a shame, ED was an awesome game, and I read the story for ED2 was complete so always hoped for a sequel.
Maybe a port could be done for the 3DS to get some cash in and generate some interest in a sequel?

SomeBitTripFan

#4

SomeBitTripFan said:

Dang. Why we have to lose a good games developer. I've never played any games by SK, but I always heard good things about their games. I guess it was because they split from Ninty.

bezerker99

#5

bezerker99 said:

Eternal Darkness: Sanities Requiem and MGS: The Twin Snakes are both must have games if u own a GameCube. This situation reminds me a bit of what happened to RareWare after they made all those great N64 games.

SuperMinusWorld

#7

SuperMinusWorld said:

Just like Rare, you don't leave Nintendo without losing something that makes you great. It's like a curse.

wcb123

#8

wcb123 said:

ED was one of the best, most underrated games to come out, An incredible mature story with great voice acting, creative haunting tricks not used before (tv turning off etc). The level design different and refreshing each episode. The score was incredible too. I Imagine ED2 today would pan out like a darker version of Unchartered. I don't know how the Gaming biz works very well but Nintendo should adopt this game as.their answer to Unchartered. It really is that good. Very sad to hear about SK.

Nintex

#9

Nintex said:

Worst news ever! I don't know who I should be infuriated with, Silicon Knights or Nintendo. Curse ye Nintendo for not picking up the sequel!! I am literally torn to shreds right now. Eternal Darkness was and still is a great game. A modern Classic.

TruenoGT

#10

TruenoGT said:

@bezerker99 I was thinking the same thing with Rare. Another example is Left Field Studios who were a Nintendo 2nd party for a while (Excitebike 64, one of my all time favs & NBA Courtside), but afterwards kind of fell off the map. Regarding Eternal Darkness, I never played it and hope that it somehow comes to the rumored Wii U GameCube Virtual Console!

undomiel

#11

undomiel said:

I for one will be sad to see them go. I loved their games back in the SSI days.

Lunapplebloom

#14

Lunapplebloom said:

This is sad news. I figured with X-men Destiny's flop that something like this was happening, but not that bad. Well, with shoddy work comes no job, and sadly it was mostly one guys fault.

Ducutzu

#15

Ducutzu said:

Kotaku is just a tabloid.... but that article is a brilliant piece of work. If you like that article, I can encourage you to also look up Eurogamer's article about another former developer for Nintendo, Rare (look up in Google "Who Killed Rare").

Two companies whose success seems to have had a lot to do with Nintendo's internal work processes and standards.

DarkCoolEdge

#16

DarkCoolEdge said:

It looks like bad management's work. As it seems, it was only a matter of time.

BTW, didn't nintendo own eternal darkness' rights?

MattL

#18

MattL said:

If only their plan had worked, as farcical as it seems. Eternal Darkness is, as previously mentioned, a classic. It doesn't sound like the most disciplined of businesses, but I respect the fact that they tried following their hearts. Unless I am being naive and they were thinking of the money. Perhaps I'm too much of a romantic ;)

Xilef

#19

Xilef said:

Highly recomend evyrone to read the Kotaku article. It's very interesting. The boss of the company might be one of the worst in a gaming company ever. He didn't care aout XMD at all while the rest of the company tried their best to make the game at least playable. At least they cared about it.

Sabrewing

#20

Sabrewing said:

@DarkCoolEdge Nintendo patented the sanity meter, and the game is mentioned in Brawl's little "history of Nintendo" section; aside from that, I don't know how much of ED's intellectual property they owned.

MattL

#21

MattL said:

@Xilef - Thanks for the recommendation, the article was a fascinating read. Sounds like a passionate and talented team of developers have been basically crushed by this megalomaniac, Dyack. I really felt for them all reading through the interviews.

Xilef

#22

Xilef said:

@MattL Pretty much sums it all up. I guess the reason ED and MGS:TS ended up being so good is because Nintendo/Konami had more controll over that then Dyack, so the teams talent couls shine more.

Gameday

#23

Gameday said:

Man if this game comes out.. The first one had me scared to walk anywhere such a great game. Part 2 if so now were talking.

fortius54

#24

fortius54 said:

There is a couple of points to gleam gfrom this, good article by the way. The idea of wanting to get away from the oppressive nature of Nintendo is an interesting comment especially considering the fact that once that happened they fell apart. I think it also says something about the quality that Nintendo is shooting for. I have a PS3. The only game that instantly comes to mind that I feel is Nintendo first-party quality is the Uncharted Series. Very few times have a first party Nintendo game missed.

Nintex

#26

Nintex said:

@Xilef Yea more than likely. but what I don't get is how SK was trying to get a publisher for the title, when Nintendo owns the copyrights to the franchise. It would have never saw the light of day without Nintendo approval. Maybe Nintendo will still fund the game. If Nintendo wants to appeal to "hardcore gamers" Eternal Darkness's sequel is a great way to start.

WaLzgiStaff

#27

WaLzgi said:

@Nintex: It's also possible that the game wasn't that great and Nintendo refused it. I don't think Nintendo owns the rights to the entire game

FJOJR

#28

FJOJR said:

Nintendo is one of the best publishers and developers in the world and SK wanted to get away from them? They are harsh because they want quality big name games to be as good as possible. Retro Studios is fine under Nintendo cause they adjusted, sucked it up, and are now one of their best studios. Sucks the head of the company couldn't accept that and the others were sacrificed because of it.

Nintex

#29

Nintex said:

@LZCatbol, your probably right about them not owning all the rights, but I do know Nintendo has the Sanity Meter pattened and they own the copyright to the name Eternal Darkness, because they recently just extended the copyright for it. But, yea perhaps the game was looking horrible or just didn't meet Nintendo's expectations. Whatever the case, it sure is saddening to hear.

goldgin

#30

goldgin said:

I was one of the lucky few to have played and completed Eternal Darkness, probably the best GC game after zelda. I still own it actually... I might give it a go again later on my wii. Do you think it could be worth anything on ebay? It's PAL.

Nintex

#32

Nintex said:

@Goldgin, remember to get the real ending you gotta beat the game 3 times picking a different essence each time!

TheRealThanos

#33

TheRealThanos said:

This is a real shame.
A sequel to this game with up to date graphics would be even greater than the original was.
It featured some truly scary and nerve-racking moments not found in any other horror adventure game, such as the start of the game (I won't tell what happens, because I hate spoilers, so wouldn't want to do that to anyone else), the image distortion and the on screen message that your controller was unplugged. The sound and music were spot on and the voice acting was of a higher level than many other game seen at that time, regardless of which platform it was on. Classic awesomeness...
If you still have a Wii (or a GameCube) and you're able to find it online or in a shop, then it's definitely worth the purchase, even if it costs you 20 or 30 bucks. (which might be a possible price point, because it's not that easily found anymore, so any cheaper and you're VERY lucky) I would actually say that this is a must-buy.

Dyak is a donkey though, so he deserves everything that's coming to him, and then some.
I do feel for the employers, because they will very soon all be the victim of this idiots' mistaken pride.
As for the game/IP itself, there is a small possibility that Nintendo WILL be able to pick it up, because as previously mentioned they own the patent of the sanity meter and according to me they can get the game as a whole if Silicon Knight kicks the bucket or if Dyak shows some common sense (or his true colors) and accepts some money for it.
For now, I'll consider Eternal Darkness 2 as lost, which is, as I already said before a real shame. And someone (looking at you, Dennis 'jerk of the month' Dyak) should be punished for it...

Kirk

#34

Kirk said:

No.

Not focusing on Eternal Darkness 2 and making crap games like X-Men Destiny, under pressure from publishers no doubt, is what crippled Silicon Knights.

Word.

sinalefa

#35

sinalefa said:

The original article was a very good read, although a sad one. At least Activision did the right thing and uncovered SK to the public. It really sounds like a bunch of highschoolers procrastinating in their assignments, instead of a serious, talented developer.

Now, if Nintendo owns the rights for Eternal Darkness (which I doubt, as that would have not allowed SK to make the sequel and offer it to any publisher, as the story suggests) they should have Retro work on it.

Finally, it would be cool if those experienced persons who resigned from SK gathered and tried to create a new company, like Platinum Games. All that talent should not go to waste. Just make sure to find a decent president this time.

R-Moss

#36

R-Moss said:

ED was my first Cube game. It is a very special game to me. I believe that Nintendo Software Technology can do a better job with the brand (it seems that the brand does not belong to Nintendo).

MAB

#38

MAB said:

I still have ED and always play it as part of my halloween 'best of' collection next to the old-school Resi Evil and Silent Hill series ;)

Henmii

#39

Henmii said:

"Interestingly, another source claims that the rot began after Silicon Knights and Nintendo parted ways"

Do I smell a "Rareware situation" there?

burninmylight

#41

burninmylight said:

What do Rareware, Factor 5, Left Field and Silicon Knights all have in common?

I hope you're taking notes Retro Studios, and smart enough not to leave Nintendo. You're not above escaping that curse...

madgear

#44

madgear said:

I only bought Eternal Darkness so I could get the Zelda Collector's Edition disc and I'm glad that I did! I love the game although I'm still yet to finish it (I'm getting there, though). Shame about Silicon Knights but it's hard to survive in the games industry these days. Development costs are so high that it's best to have a company like Nintendo to support you. At least until things improve, financially speaking, of course.

luminalace

#45

luminalace said:

They put all their eggs in one basket but if Eternal Darkness 2 never got picked up by a publisher it was obviously not up to scratch!

Sorry to hear the loss of another studio..while I know they aren't exactly dead it will be very hard to bounce back from this!

Xilef

#46

Xilef said:

@Kirk Read the Kotaku article. Activision gave them even more time then they should have neede. Also, they started to make the ED 2 demo at the same as they were working on XMD. If they had focused on making XMD good they wouldn't have been in this situation.

ouroborous

#48

ouroborous said:

well i guess eternal darkness was noteworthy given all the ranting about it lately on nlife but the only things that SK did as far as im concerned were the original Blood Omen and Gex. while not perfect, there were alot of great things about blood omen, but gex was terrible, super-generic, and for some reason prolific.

antster1983

#49

antster1983 said:

When I used to run SNESzone (a website dedicated to all things Super Nintendo running from 2000-2003) I was in constant contact with Brad Furminger, a SNES fan and Lead Designer at Silicon Knights (he left the company in 2008). He was the lead designer of Eternal Darkness - one of the best and most thrilling games on the GameCube. It's such a shame they've run themselves into the ground in such a fashion. :(

WhiteTrashGuy

#50

WhiteTrashGuy said:

Sad to see things like this happen to studios like Factor 5, Free Radical, and Silicon Knights. These were some of the best teams in the world and they were forced to play the corporate publishing game and it destroyed them.

TheAmazingRaccoon

#51

TheAmazingRaccoon said:

If Nintendo does not own the IP of ED it should buy SK, keep the staff (minus Dyack) and get the IP. That being said a sequel will never live up to the original; that game was amazing (my favourite gamecube game).

ThreadShadow

#52

ThreadShadow said:

I am fortunate to never have had ED.

On another note. Not to be yet another voice ragging on SK, but to tell you the truth I just don't understand the level of praise these guys get. They just haven't earned it in my opinion. They've made five games.

1. Blood Omen/Legacy of Kain (PS). I don't like the BO/LoK series, but I'll still say that a better dev (Crystal Dynamics) took that IP and turned it into something better.

2. Eternal Darkness (GC). The only interesting thing here is the Sanity Meter, and apparently Nintendo has that locked up so tight, it sounds more like their idea then SK's. I think there is a healthy percentage of rose-tinting going on with the praise this game gets.

3. MGS: Twin Snakes (GC) Wasn't even their game. SK was just a task force to do the grunt work. Nintendo was the teacher, Kojima was the genious, SK was the student. (Oh and some Japanese director was the guy who ruined the cut-scenes, but anyway...).

4. Too Human (X360) Finally something interesting from SK, but too many canon shots sunk this ship.

5. X-men Destiny (Multi) And by this good article we see what happened with this one.

So. How can SK honestly be grouped with "the best teams in the world", or a great studio etc. etc..They just honestly haven't proved themselves yet, and at the rate they are going they may never have the chance.

I'll give them a point for ED(because everyone likes the Sanity Meter), and a point for Too Human, and half a point for "porting" MGS to GC. (Also they didn't make GEX, Crystal Dynamics did.)

Leave A Comment

Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...