Details are still coming out and being pieced together, but it is starting to appear that much in the same way that Shadow of the Eternals is a “spiritual successor” to Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, Precursor Games (the project’s developer) is a bit of a “spiritual successor” to the almost-defunct Silicon Knights.
Officially (and more important legally), Precursor Games “has no connection to Silicon Knights,” the company’s CEO Paul Caporicci told Polygon. According to Caporicci, the studio is “a completely separate and independent entity [from SK] and always [has] been.” This is important to point out, because if Precursor was associated with Silicon Knights it could put the studio on the hook for $4.45 million in damages owned to Epic Games and another $4 million in loans that were backed by Ontario’s Federal Economic Development Agency.
While there may be no legal connection between Precursor Games and Silicon Knights (and their huge pile of debt), the reality of the situation is not so black and white. For starters, Caporicci is a former Silicon Knights employee who was laid off last July.
Speaking to GamesIndustry International, the Precursor Games CEO said:
“From my experience in July, I was laid off from Silicon Knights with a number of other people and I was saddened, you know, that we were going to go our separate ways. And so I started reaching out to other people and seeing if they were interested in starting something brand new.”
One of those people that Caporicci apparently reached out to after being laid off was his old Silicon Knights boss, Denis Dyack. For unexplained reasons (probably related to legal rulings and company debt), Dyack was very open to being reached out to, and jumped at the chance to work for Caporicci at Precursor Games.
In fact, just this week Dyack finally decided the time was right to tell everyone about his new job, and admit that he is no longer the president of Silicon Knights. Writing in a post on the SK forum, Dyack said:
“It has been a very long time. I am sorry I was away so long, it was not intended and I truly regret that I could not interact more with you all. I wanted to do so but it simply was not an option for me at the time. I really hope you can understand.”
“As most of you already probably have seen, I am no longer at Silicon Knights and I joined Precursor Games some time ago. I invite you all to join us at Precursor Games if you are so inclined. I will be interacting more there (our whole team will be – it is one of the principle pillars of the company) and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with the community and our crowd sourcing campaigns.”
“I do see that some people are disappointed at the way things turned out, so was I and many others, believe me. However, rather then dwell on that, we are moving forward a positive direction that I hope you can also join.”
“Hope to see you at Precursor!”
So, with Denis Dyack gone the question becomes, what is going on with Silicon Knights? One of the studio’s very few remaining employees (possibly its only remaining employee), chief financial officer Mike Mays, told Polygon that the company is “definitely alive” and “very busy”.
Exactly what they are busy with at SK is unclear, however, it is unlikely that any game development is going on. According to the same report, the Silicon Knights office has been completely shut down and all of the office equipment and game assets have been sold off.
At this point you might be asking yourself, where did the equipment and assets go? Shockingly enough, at least some of them appear to have been sold to… Precursor Games!
Caporicci admitted that they “purchased completely wiped clean machines” from Silicon Knights in July 2012 (SK’s computers were court ordered to be formatted as a result of the legal battle with Epic Games). Additionally, the Precursor Games CEO told GamesIndustry that “some small art assets from Silicon Knights” — presumably, from the unconfirmed Eternal Darkness 2 demo — were purchased and are currently being used for Shadow of the Eternals.
There is still a lot we don’t know, but right now the facts boil down to the following: Precursor Games is made up of former Silicon Knights employees who were laid off (or jumped ship) after the studio fell into financial/legal trouble last year. Currently, they are using former SK office equipment, and some former SK art assets, to develop a spiritual successor to an old SK game. Oh, and the former SK president is Precursor’s creative lead on the project.
Despite all of this, they are not connected with Silicon Knights.
And Caporicci wonders why anyone might have reservations about Shadow of the Eternals‘ crowdfunding campaign.