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and the original vision for Shadow of the Eternals — an episodic release — failed to gain enough crowdfunding and has been replaced by an all-in-one project.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.