Denis the Menace

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Denis Dyack, one of the many minds behind the beloved Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, has left Silicon Knights and founded Precursor Games. Denis Dyack wants to create a spiritual successor to Eternal Darkness called Shadow of the Eternals, and has bombarded the usual channels with trailers, interviews, and screenshots. Denis Dyack has started two separate crowdfunding campaigns for the game and promises levels of tantalizing bonuses for anyone who supports the game. Denis Dyack wants your money, but you’d be a fool to fund his latest scheme.

Things started to tumble downhill for the once-famed developer when Too Human swung into full production. Dyack’s lively blog and numerous interviews created a positive image of an open connection to the fans, but after seeing one too many negative comments on forums like NeoGAF, that image gave way to a raving lunatic who went on the offensive whenever anyone questioned their game. Even after Too Human was released and failed to live up to the ridiculous Dyack hype, he continued to spin into insanity, mentioning his favorite character class wasn’t even in the game yet and insisting that everyone who didn’t like it simply didn’t “get” the game.

Cole-McGrath-taking-down-future-sentinelsLast year, Kotaku published a lengthy, investigative tell-all about Denis Dyack and the standard operating procedures of Silicon Knights. Besides the general internal dysfunction expected from a studio churning out terrible games, one anonymous former employee detailed his boss’s dishonest relationship with three different publishers. After making a vague pitch with overambitious promises, Silicon Knights would trickle game assets into the inboxes of Microsoft, Sega and Activision without showing any actual progress into the game itself. When questioned, they would avoid many of the inquiries, crafting excuses and securing additional time. Activision, expecting X-Men Destiny to be a quality project, bankrolled the studio as the developers twiddled their thumbs and diverted staff to work on their dream game, Eternal Darkness 2. The due date arrived, the professor refused to grant yet another extension, and Silicon Knights pulled an all-nighter that resulted in a half-assed, broken product that wasn’t even a shadow of the bold promises Silicon Knights made.

Since losing their court case with Epic Games, Silicon Knights have been forced to destroy every asset made with Unreal Engine 3 and pay ridiculously steep legal fees. Polygon observed Dyack leaving the troubled company, absconding with most of the remaining staff and buying their old workstations to flesh out Precursor Games. Despite insistences that they bought “completely wiped clean machines,” it’s hard to believe they aren’t just creatively dodging their legal woes when they’re known for stretching the truth.

Even if Dyack wasn’t hurting for money to pay off his court fees and loans, I wouldn’t trust him with a quarter. If he’s willing to lie to monolithic publishers, what’s stopping him from pulling the wool over our eyes? Publishers have some form of protection, but Dyack could easily take the money and run from us with few, if any consequences. Despite promising a full season to higher tiers of backers, the funding goal only takes care of the first episode. We’ve only been shown a few screenshots and a 9 minute guided demo, and anyone who followed Aliens: Colonial Marines can confirm those two can easily be faked with clever smoke and mirrors.

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With his notorious dishonesty toward publishers, it’s no wonder that Denis Dyack is praying for a Kickstarter miracle. Unfortunately for him, crowdfunding is a two-way street, and it’ll be almost impossible to convince the general public that he’ll be good for the $1.5 million he’s asking for. Maybe Dyack has changed and wants to deliver a strong game in an honest way, but he hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt. It’s best to let this campaign wither on the vine and hope Precursor Games manages to get its act together.