1. Shadow of the Eternals, The Eternal Darkness of Denis Dyack
There's no shortage of shady Kickstarters out there for any number of products. And while a number of fantastic titles have spawned from the donations of those just aching to spend $1000 for a dinner date with their favorite developer, gaming is just as likely as any other industry to suffer a sketchy crowdfunding campaign. However, every once in a while a Kickstarter comes along with such a panache for the slimy that it deserves a degree of special attention.
Speaking of which, here's a game from Denis Dyack. Shadow of the Eternals, as the game was and perhaps continues to be called, was pitched as a spiritual follow-up to Eternal Darkness. Nothing wrong there: Eternal Darkness was a unique and wonderful horror game on the Nintendo Gamecube, a console where dark, grimy, Lovecraftian terror certainly stood out. And what is a video game Kickstarter for if not resurrecting a long-dead brand on the back of nostalgia?
Well, it all comes back to Dyack. Or rather his respective companies: Silicon Knights, Precursor Games, and Quantum Entanglement Entertainment. That's a lot of names to keep track of, so just keep in mind that they're all basically the same company.
The naming shell game was, on its face, played to help company founder Denis Dyack and friends dodge bad will from releasing one of the most fascinating clunkers in game design history -- X-Men: Destiny. Not to mention the $9.2 million lawsuit it drew from Epic Games (makers of Gears of War and other fine chainsaw murder simulators).
So it was Precursor Games -- totally, definitely not Silicon Knights -- that requested $1.35 million in donations for Shadow of the Eternals. It was also, 100 percent, definitely not the same group of people with a different name that cancelled said (failing) crowdfunding campaign to launch a second (also failed) one for a more reasonable $750 thousand later in the same year.
When this fell through as well Eternals seemed to be lost to time. That is before another, equally Dyack-backed venture called Quantum Entanglement Entertainment bloomed Silicon Knights' radioactive ash. As of 2014 they seem to have taken up the project. Though they haven't said much about it since.
Dyack has been busy extolling the "virtues" of a certain other dubious, games-related organization instead.
2. Yogventures, Giving the People What They Didn't Want
Yogventures is a truly glorious What Not to Do guide for aspiring video game Kickstarters. The whole debacle practically screamed failure from day one, yet found far more than enough support to make it through the funding stage and into history as the cautionary tale in crowdfunding.
Based on the more-popular-than-any-of-us-will-ever-be YouTube network, Yogscast, the titular Yogventures was to be one of those open-world sandbox games your younger cousin is into. That is to say a "survival" game. It immediately reeked of that oh-so-telling smell of "ambition" that is the doom of basically every well-meaning Kickstarter game.
"Well-meaning," contrary to how it sounds, doesn't actually amount to much when you only have six developers working on a project of this scope. Such was the case with Yogventures, though the tiny detail of the teensy team was never mentioned in the initial pitch. Nor were the names, roles, and experiences of said employees. Just the vague promise that they were totally experienced, and could create an open-world game with crafting, destructible environments, mod support, and detailed physics. All of this, it was said, would be brought to you by the lovable, trustworthy folks at Yogscast.
That is until the project failed. Spectacularly.
Once that became the case Yogs-man Lewis Brindley took to that most modern method of communication, email, to let backers know that the project was cancelled. Not the Yogscast project, mind you, but the project by developer Winterkewl Games that just kinda-sorta had the Yogscast name attached to it at one point. Maybe. Who even remembered that far back, right? Right!
Brindley, vying for most tone-deaf apology of 2014, called the cancellation "actually a good thing." Yogventures had proved to be too ambitious for them, and therefore a lot more difficult for them to deal with then they had expected. Right. In laymen's terms; Yogscast had made a promise they couldn't keep, and so washing their hands of the whole thing after they took everyone's money was for the best. Classy.
The controversy certainly doesn't seem to have sank Yogscast. Though it's unclear if the same can be said for the six unnamed developers they threw under the bus along with their would-be game. It just goes to show that not even a minor scandal can spoil the pleasures of British men whispering in your ear about crafting materials.