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Denis Dyack - "Actions Will Speak Volumes" as Precursor Games Seeks to Build Trust

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Dyack tells us about the role of the community in Shadow of the Eternals

On paper Shadow of the Eternals has a lot going for it — it's a spiritual successor to iconic GameCube title Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and key figures from developer Silicon Knights are part of Precursor Games, which is developing the new game. As with anything in gaming, however, the passing of time and some controversies can play a drastic role, and the original vision for Shadow of the Eternals — an episodic release — failed to gain enough crowdfunding and has been replaced by an all-in-one project.

Some controversy has followed the studio's chief creative officer Denis Dyack, as the latter years of Silicon Knights became notorious for poor releases and rumours of unhappy publishers. When you combine that bad press with the criticised dual-crowdfunding of the original Shadow of the Eternals campaign, the team has often been on the defensive to ease concerns.

One major part of its current Kickstarter campaign is community involvement, with those that pledge having opportunities to have their say on certain aspects of the game — as 'Elder Gods' — and its development. Speaking to Nintendo Life in an interview to be published tomorrow, Dyack explained that making the move to engage the community had its challenges, but that it was a step worth taking.

It’s a tough one, I have to admit. It’s tough but invigorating at the same time. We do not pretend that we knew that this [development approach] would go well or how successful it would be. When we first opened up the community to the Elder Gods we were very concerned if it would go well, and it went exceedingly well. It’s still in development, of course, and history will tell the true tale of how these Elder Gods came out but we’re very enthusiastic about it.

What we’ve found is the more transparent that you are, the more that the truth gets out there, the better off you’re going to be. I think that it’s going to really help our game development, but it’s also very different from anything that I or anyone at Precursor have done. Quite frankly we haven’t seen it a lot in the video game industry, certainly not on the console platforms, so the whole idea of doing this is pretty radical and scary but at the same time really exciting.

The community engagement and transparency is also an effort to move beyond the criticisms and controversies that have affected the studio and its fundraising, with Dyack hoping that the studio's actions will regain the trust of the wider gaming community.

We're showing what we're showing, being transparent. Come to the community to see what it's like. I think that those that come to the community see it for what it is and what we're doing. We've had, I'd say, an extremely high turnover rate for people who come to the community and say that there is really good creativity and initiative, and that "these guys are really there" — this is a labor of love for everyone at Precursor who want to make this great. We're doing all we can, and hopefully our actions will speak volumes. That's the best way that I think that can be resolved, and that's what we're doing.

There's a little over a week left for the crowdfunding for Shadow of the Eternals, which if funded will come to Wii U, and the studio will be hosting live streams of developer commentary, playthroughs and community chat on its Twitch channel from 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern / 7pm UK / 8pm Central European time today, 15th August, as well as 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 10pm UK / 11pm Central European on Monday 19th August.

Dyack has discussed the ideas and principles behind Shadow of the Eternals with us, as well as looking back at Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, so be sure to check back for the full detailed interview tomorrow.

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User Comments (23)

mch

#1

mch said:

I put some money in this because I would be excited if the Shadow of the Eternals will arrive on Wii U. I believe it is worth it to support this. Personally I really like the psycho-shocking atmosphere they are aiming for. So go for it if you like the genre and the style of the game.

Wonder_Ideal

#2

Wonder_Ideal said:

"Dyack us about the role of the community in Shadow of the Eternals"
I don't want to be that guy, but I think there's a word missing in the title caption.

sinalefa

#5

sinalefa said:

Funny hearing words like "truth" and "transparency" from someone with a shady past. He sounds like a politician to me, I do not trust him.

Shambo

#6

Shambo said:

I just think they shouldn't pull this 'indie' stuff with a game of this caliber, asking for such a budget, and no promise on a physical Wii U release... Which is something I'd gladly buy day one, since the original is one of the very few games I finished 15+ times. But it has to be physical for such a title, and it has to be on Nintendo.

Nintenjoe64

#7

Nintenjoe64 said:

The amount of time Precursor and Dyack seem to have to do interviews and publicise a game reminds me a bit of Randy Pitchford and Aliens: CM but I suppose he does need to keep the interest up or it won't get any $$$

I just want a proper sequel where Alex Roivas finds out about loads of other interesting people and ancestors, the gamepad is the tome and the sanity effects are up to date. Keep the combat the same, I miss the days before "Press A to Attack, Press B to Block" was the norm.

mamp

#8

mamp said:

This game's not going to make it, the game's only been funded 1/3 of the way with only 8 days to go.

JaxonH

#9

JaxonH said:

This game does not interest me whatsoever, and they need to learn when to call it quits. Involving the community may SOUND good, but as we learned from Hideki Kamiya, taking advice from all angles can ruin a game. The DIRECTOR must have vision, and know what he wants.

Play-Doh_25

#10

Play-Doh_25 said:

The problem is they are asking for too much money. Eventhough these games normally need a lot of money to support them, it's kinda unrealistic to think that they would raise 750000 (initially 1350000). I think they need to look for another source to fund this game because unless they plan to open up another kickstarter after this, they are not going to make it.

Yanchamaru

#11

Yanchamaru said:

The only way this game is going to be released is if Precursor Games teams up with a publisher, but no one wants to work with them because of Dyack's history.

Zach777

#12

Zach777 said:

At the rate Shadow of the Eternals Kickstarter is siting they won't get the finding anyway... 1/3 of the total with one week left to raise half a million... Have fun with that.

On a side note... I did support 50.00 and do hope it does get funded. In all likelihood it won't happen though, that is a lot of money. Unless EVERYBODY jumps aboard it won't happen.

QuickSilver88

#14

QuickSilver88 said:

The author forgot to mention the Silcon Knights was basically sued out of existence buy Epic games over the improper use of their engine. There was a rumor that Nintendo was invloved with them and a true ED sequel before that happnened but after that crash and burn Nintendo isn't going to touch them. Dyack is a charismatic guy but too often as been seen as a snake oil salesman and is damaged goods in the industry.....I mean they wanted 1.35mil to do episodes but now they can do the entire game for 750K? Look if we want a game that lives up to the quality of ED it will take more than that and a major publisher is going to have to support it. Also Nintendo owns the franchise and the insanity effects as well so if this 'spiritual succesor' gets made and then goes to ps4 is Nintendo going to be looking to sue for any violations of their IP? The best damned thing is if Nintendo would 1 get the original (and other GC) hits on WiiU VC and then get Retro to make a true Nintendo exlusive sequel. SK did awesome work on original Ed as well as the Twin Snakes remake on GC but the fine devs that make up the new company need to ditch Dyak and get a new leader without a poisened past!

SKTTR

#15

SKTTR said:

Taking away their game and giving it to other developers? It's not that easy. One important thing about Eternal Darkness is that it was made by Dyack and the people at Silicon Knights who all have a faible for Lovecraft horror. Nintendo and Retro Studios can develop fantastic games but they couldn't do a proper Eternal Darkness sequel with their limited knowledge about Lovecraft horror.

It needs both, Precursor and Nintendo to make a worthy polished fantastic sequel, but it needs Precursor alone to make the game happen at all. Eternal Darkness was their game, their idea, their mind property, their universe, and without them the sequel cannot be in the same spirit.

element187

#16

element187 said:

@Shambo Not everyone can get a big publisher to back them... They did have backing but it fell through, so instead of letting what they created so far go to waste, they are attempting to crowd fund it the rest of the way.

If you can find them a big time publisher willing to fund the development, I'm sure they would jump on the opportunity immediately.

element187

#17

element187 said:

Usually the crowd funding gets the majority of its funding in the last few days... so who knows if it will hit its goal.

As far as the goal coming down from their last kickstarter was because the enormous amount of money that was donated to them... They had 1 kickstarter and a paypal donation site, and they recieved quite a bit of money in both.

sinalefa

#18

sinalefa said:

@QuickSilver88

I have thought about the same. If the sanity effects are indeed Nintendo's trademark, that means Dyack cannot use them. Although he is so cynical he might try to pull the same thing as with Epic games, altering the thing "enough" so in his head it is a new thing, so he should not be sued.

@SKTTR

It is not like you have to take a career of Lovecraft lore at the Miskatonic University to know about his books and mythos. Either employees at Retro and/or Nintendo (or any other second party studio that could get involved) may know about Lovecraft and dig his work or they could get advisors to guide them.

b23cdq

#19

b23cdq said:

I'd rather they went to Nintendo and made this Eternal Darkness 2: Shadows of the Eternals. It would guarantee a release, and it would have Shiggy's oversight.

Shambo

#20

Shambo said:

@element187 I'm pretty positive they could ask Nintendo themselves. It would of course be a Nintendo exclusive, but that's only another reason why Nintendo might very well bite. Exclusivity over the spiritual successor to one of the greatest horror games and better known exclusives they had in the past could help their cause as well, while their supervision would guarantee it will be great.

DarkCoolEdge

#21

DarkCoolEdge said:

The problem is that Eternal Darkness is well regarded but it didn't really sell much at the time and it's not very popular now which makes the crowdfunding very difficult. On top of that, as it wasn't enough, Mr. Dyack lost his credibility with all the troubles at Silicon Knights.

I really want Shadow of the Eternals to get made and be released for WiiU but sadly, it is not very probable.

@SKTTR How do you know there aren't Lovecraft fans at Retro? Seeing how moody Metroid Prime games are, I bet they would do pretty well.

9th_Sage

#22

9th_Sage said:

I don't know. I'm sure they can be creative and whatnot, that's not why I distrust them. In their defense though, the money they're asking for really isn't a lot in terms of game development. If you think it's way more than they need, do some research...you'll be surprised how much game dev can cost.

SKTTR

#23

SKTTR said:

@sinelfa:

It's not so much about Lovecraft as it is about the 'universe' and story of Eternal Darkness, the spirit and plot of the original. All in all Retro Studios only made semi-sequels to games where the main aspect was the gameplay, not the story.

My point is, there's the team that made Eternal Darkness. This team was called Silicon Knights and it made a great horror game storywise (that was - with help from Nintendo - also a great game gameplaywise). Now core people of the same team collected ideas and created a storyline in the last eleven years to make Eternal Darkness 2 happen, and you want to scrap it all, buy some Lovecraft-Freak instead to rush some mainstream horror game to my Wii U that has nothing to do with Eternal Darkness? And you buy it just because Retro has their stamp on it? Fooooohooolishness! ;)

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