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Mama Robotnik
(12-12-2012, 04:35 AM)
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Eternal Darkness II

Partner: Possibly Nintendo
Status: Dies with the studio

In March 2012, Denis Dyack informed that Silicon Knights would be making a sequel to one of their previous games:

There were only three candidates:

Legacy of Kain: an extremely unlikely possibility given the how viciously Crystal Dynamics and SK parted way.

Too Human:highly unlikely to be anyone’s “most requested”.

Eternal Darkness popular and feasible.

Therefore, the only reasonable conclusion would be thus: Silicon Knights were returning to their last recent hit, Eternal Darkness. Back in 2006, Dyack confirmed that this was going to be the plan all along:

Back in June this year, Shiggy posted this on NeoGAF.

Given how Shiggy has proven to be accurate with regularity, it caused a bit of a storm. Sites picked up the story, and Dyack issued a statement:

Andrew McMillen’s investigation, in which multiple sources from Silicon Knights were interviewed, corroborates Shiggy and contradicts Denis:

At least one portfolio website of a former Silicon Knights concept artist seems to make reference to the project – suggesting that the ambition was for a 360/PS3/WiiU release.

How this multi-format release would have worked - given Nintendo’s ambiguous partial ownership of the Eternal Darkness IP – is unclear. Regardless, with X-Men Destiny a critical and commercial bomb, and reportedly only five employees remaining in the once hundreds-strong organisation, Eternal Darkness II is almost certainly utterly cancelled. Penny Arcade can explain SK’s current toxicity in a way better than I:

I may have found some media from the project.

I have found a portfolio belonging to a former Silicon Knights 3D Character Artist, with renders from unspecified cancelled projects – along with his work on Too Human. The first folder (uploaded in June 2012) shows the above image and the below thumbnails.

I suspect these could be images of a Mantorok-alligned undead creature. The ending of Eternal Darkness revealed that the only surviving ancient was the purple-magic plotting God, Mantorok. Given that in the first game, each of other (Red/Blue/Green) Ancients had their own (Red/Blue/Green) undead creatures, it would make sense for the now unopposed Mantorok to be now raising his own (purple) forces.

The following images are from a second folder (also uploaded in June 2012), and are explicitly referred to as renders from a cancelled Silicon Knights’ project – and they do not seem to correspond to any of the other cancelled games we have discussed here. I think there is a likely chance that these creatures are also from the cancelled Eternal Darkness II.

(Source : The portfolio of former Silicon Knights Character Artist David Cho)

Additional : Another fantastic contribution from Shiggy:

Originally Posted by Shiggy

Some random assets from Eternal Darkness (I assume from the unreleased pitch):

Further Addition:

(Source: Matthew Lau)

According to Matthew's resume, he worked at Silicon Knights back in 2008 on multiple game development concepts. The image of a possessed magical-empowered Roman centurion is strongly connected to the Eternal Darkness mythos. Could this have been a very early take on a direct sequel to ED?

The Post-Mortem

From looking through all of the above: What did Silicon Knights die of?

The lawsuit with Epic was of course, the death sentence. But we have evidence here of a developer spending years meandering through cancelled projects, irresponsibly restarting the development of games that were close to completion, and blaming others for their own shortcomings. We have evidence of a studio that lucked out and established a position of security and stability – as a close partner of Nintendo – and abandoned that enviable position in order to chase shinier graphics for their “dream” project. We have evidence of a developer that put everything into the Too Human “trilogy” – a trilogy that consists of five cancelled games and one mediocre release – and lost their reputation over a few short years thanks to bad game and a trolling studio head. All of this can be surmised as thus: catastrophic mismanagement.

Silicon Knights was a studio that, with guidance, could achieve greatness. It reached its highest point with the release of Eternal Darkness – and were being personally recommended for projects by Shigeru Miyamoto himself. We can juxtapose that with its lowest point, the present – a dead studio, owing millions, toxic to publishers and ordered by law to destroy all of their unsold games.

It’s a sad story, all in all. Hope you enjoyed the read.

Special thanks to NeoGAF's Shiggy for his additions.

Other Mama Robotnik NeoGAF Research Threads - if you like this sort of thing and missed them:

Metroid Prime Trilogy

Soul Reaver