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Mama Robotnik
(12-12-2012, 04:33 AM)
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Eternal Darkness (Nintendo Gamecube)

Partner: Nintendo
Status: Released!

Eternal Darkness was entirely rebuilt for the Gamecube – with massive graphical enhancement. The project became more collaborative, with Shigeru Miyamoto providing oversight and offering feedback - and on-site visits from Satoru Iwata.

Following the transition to Gamecube and rapidly approaching release, real-life events made the team reconsider certain aspects of their story and content.

Following last-minute changes, the game emerged from its long development cycle spanning two consoles, and was a huge critical success. The game would only become more fondly remembered as the years went on.

From Eternal Darkness, I’ve been able to unearth some rarely-seen detailed environment renders:

A significant number of images form portfolios showing off the environments in-game (which are very interesting to contrast to the images provided from the cancelled Nintendo 64 incarnation):

Some concept artwork of the apocalypses (these have been posted by me before but are included for completion’s sake). The annotations have been provided by the artist.

(Source: John Dobbie’s Portfolio)

(Neogaf’s Shiggy has also posted some unique concept art here)

Finally, a render of Pious Augustus, being evil in front of a Mantarok-styled portal:

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Partners: Nintendo and Konami
Status: Released!

Shortly after the release of Eternal Darkness, Satoru Iwata and Shigeru Miyamoto offered Dyack the opportunity for Silicon Knights to work with one of gaming’s most beloved franchises:

The proposal was for Silicon Knights to produce a GameCube remake of the classic Metal Gear Solid – with gameplay mechanics borrowed and implemented from Metal Gear Solid 2. SK had raised so much prestige within Nintendo, that they were named to Hideo Kojima on Shigeru Miyamoto’s personal recommendation. The project became a collaboration between SK and Konami, with broad oversight by Nintendo:

Specifically, supervision of the project was managed by Konami through extensive use of video conferencing, and telephone contact with Miyamoto:

Though the game was a critical success, some features were cut early in development. GameBoy Advance connectivity was promised and later abandoned, and consideration had been given to the amount of additional development time needed to have included Metal Gear Solid 2:

A few pieces of media from the remake that I’ve been able to unearth – some environment renders and detailed model images:

The final outcome of The Twin Snakes project, is asserted by Dyack to now be the true Metal Gear Solid 1:

Dyack also asserted that future work with Konami and Nintendo was on the cards:

The assertion could not have been further from the truth. Following the completion of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Silicon Knights would never release a title with Nintendo or Konami again.

Too Human (Nintendo GameCube)

Partner: Nintendo
Status: Cancelled

With the successful releases of Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, SK was a proven and popular developer. The Legacy of Kain franchise they had started, was going into its third and fourth sequels under Crystal Dynamics – proof that SK could create original IPs with franchise potential. There were many, many requests for a sequel to Eternal Darkness – but Silicon Knights had other ideas.

While working on their successful GameCube games, behind the scenes, work was also ongoing on the third version of Too Human. A concept FMV video (that I have never been able to find – PM me if you do!) was shown at Spaceworld 2000. IGN, impressed with the video, offered this plot synopsis:

If you scroll back up to the PlayStation/Saturn Too Human sections, you will see that this story is very similar to the only detailed up there. This version of Too Human was apparently a remake of the 32-bit concept and vision, rather than the dramatic Norse-God overhaul that will be the final fruition of the game.

Dyack and the rest of the team refused to discuss the Too Human project during any interviews in this era. I’ve managed to unearth a few things. Firstly – three renders. The Protagonist, The Doctor, and some sort of robot that I suspect is from this project:

Some concept pieces – likely buildings from the original PlayStation/Saturn versions - that have been reconceptualised into grander structures that benefit from the GameCube’s superior capabilities:

(Source: Portfolio of former Silicon Knights artist Raffaele Ienco)

What I strongly believe are environment renders from Too Human GameCube (though they are not explicitly labelled as such) – in particular note their similarity to the last piece of concept art above:

(Source: Portfolio of former Silicon Knights artist Raffaele Ienco)

Two more environment renders, pre and post-texturing:

Miscellaneous images from the project:

Some of the images above find their origins in the original PlayStation/Saturn versions concept art and screenshots:

(PlayStation/Saturn images and art on the left, GameCube interpretation on the right):

Another interesting image: a feed photo from the Spaceworld 2000 video – a man standing before nine Pillars. If you are familiar with the Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain mythology, you may know that the nine Pillars of Nosgoth are the central edifice of the entire universe. Given that at this point in time, Crystal Dynamics were taking the Legacy of Kain series in a direction Dyack disapproved of, one could interpret the image as a reminder to Silicon Knights’ fans as to who originated the Pillars of Nosgoth/Legacy of Kain universe:

Finally, this image is significant. Norse influences appeared to have been introduced during the development of the GameCube version of the game:

When Too Human would next be seen, a generation later, the above nod to North mythology would be expanded to dominate the entire project. The story of John Franks – the story of the cancelled PlayStation, Saturn and GameCube projects – would be wholly abandoned.

Too Human (Xbox 360)

Partner: Microsoft with engine support from Epic
Status: Released

Its 2004. Silicon Knights have just released Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. Denis Dyack and his team are being recommended for high-profile projects by Shigeru Miyamoto himself. Fans are demanding a sequel to Eternal Darkness. The company has funding, project security, and guidance from the oldest gaming company in existence. Fans even enjoy spreading rumours that the company will be trusted with the prestigious Zelda franchise.

Silicon Knights had never been in a more secure position, and Dyack was not quiet regarding the Nintendo-SK alliance:

Then all of a sudden, news breaks: Silicon Knights, the company “exceedingly close” to Nintendo’s highest executives, the alliance that would definitely“never” end, ended. The reason? Nintendo Wii.

Dyack wanted more power to achieve his vision – and the Wii would not fulfil this. The potential shown in games such as Zelda: Twilight Princess and Metroid Prime Trilogy, were not up to the standard that Dyack expected.

Even the name of the console met with his disapproval:

The two companies parted ways, and Dyack ordered Silicon Knights or work on the fourth incarnation of Too Human, for the Xbox 360. A promise was made: