Shadow of the Eternals is the crowdfunding effort that will not die. Instead, it merely crawled into its cold, cashless coffin and emerged after a month of rest, ready to face a new day. It is, one might say, eternal. Or at least, that’s what Totally Not Silicon Knigh– er, Precursor Games is going with. The Totally-Not-Denis-Dyack-led outfit is claiming to have secured a new source of funding, thus allowing it to drop the Eternal Darkness spiritual successor’s Kickstarter goal from $1.5 million to a still rather lofty $750,000. Other things have changed too – and not all of them for the better.
First, let’s start with the good. Precursor has responded to fan complaints, so Shadow of the Eternals (who, themselves, may or may not possess some form of Darkness) is now a non-episodic “8-10 hour complete experience” that focuses on deliberate pacing and fourth-wall-discombobulating sanity events. Last time around, many backers were rightly worried that their collective money mountain might just get slurped down the drain of a single two hour episode, so the game’s new direction is encouraging.
Perhaps more questionably, Dyack and co are really playing up the “You (yes, YOU, unique snowflake of a person with hair and lungs and fingernails) will get to help make the game”. And by that, they apparently mean entire portions: stories, areas, assets, sanity events, etc. Now, do you see this? This is a phone. I would like you to hold it for a moment. Reason being, they’re saying we get to pay for the privilege of gluing their Humpty Dumpty dream project back together again? I’m all for fan involvement on these things, but I’m not sure how I feel about this particular approach given a) a potential lack of any sort of reimbursement and b) Dyack and co’s (rumored) incredibly sketchy history, especially as it pertains to treatment of creative talent and crediting people for their contributions. Who knows? Maybe Precursor’s intentions are great, but this still leaves an awful lot of room for exploitation.
Meanwhile, Precursor’s not specifying exactly what sort of outside assistance it’s procured – merely that some magical benefactor is slipping coins underneath its pillow. And let’s be honest here: to weave an entire 8-10 hour triple-A production into reality, it’s going to need a lot more than $750,000. So who’s forking over the additional few million (at the very, very least) dollars?
In a crowdfunding world where extreme transparency is becoming more key by the day, Precursor has failed time and time again to give full disclosure or confront allegations against its trustworthiness head-on. Maybe this really is a fresh start after the flaming lawsuit explosion X-Men death bomb that was Silicon Knights, but I’ll have trouble believing that until this company really opens up instead of just repeatedly trying to bury its dirty laundry.
Unfortunately, a new round of interviews with sites like Polygon just adds another verse to the same old song and dance. Denials of everything. No explanations. No attempts to make sense of things like the sudden formation of a new company, some very questionable terms of service on its first crowdfunding drive, or any of the other big questions surrounding this venture. Just repeated cries of, well, “no”.
Oh, I guess Solid Snake is doing a voice for the game now too. No, no, you just wait there. I’ll go get the confetti.