Ken and Denis of Precursor Games discuss the Magick system of Shadow of the Eternals, the Ae’Lanoic Rosette, and more!
Paul and Shawn give a campaign update and preview the upcoming Eternals showcase videos.
Sean and Giancarlo do a walkthrough of the Shadow of the Eternals demo, and break down the technical aspects of CryENGINE3.
Today we’d like to reveal two more characters and provide information on how the Episode structure is intended to work. We have mentioned some of this before in the forums, but this is a more in-depth look at our plan.
Shadow of the Eternals: Episodic Structure
Shadow of the Eternals is naturally broken down into a stream of episodes that when combined form a long story arc, involving the main character, Paul Becker, a police detective investigating a cult-massacre at an abandoned hospital/sanitarium.
The story is actually comprised of sixteen stories, which may sound daunting but the way in which we intend to deliver the content should make it easily digestible.
Locations and Theme
Our story is based around events taking place in four parts of the world. Each location has its own story theme, explaining one aspect of Becker’s “hub” story. This story is further broken down into three acts – introduction, development and resolution, which are themselves complete stories – and playable levels, with the action in each setting the stage for a later story.
As an example, the location themes may be “chicken wings”, “pizza”, “beer” and “friends” and the overall story then, would be a surprise party for the player. That is, by learning the stories of each location, an understanding of the wrap-around story is gained, driving toward the finale.
Stories and Characters
Some levels are what we label “dual” levels, which means there are two playable characters, each with their own story, but directly related to each other. The fate of one character influences the other in some way.
Nearly every other level has multiple story angles, meaning that they can be explored twice with different game-play set ups and things to discover, but take place within the same narrative structure. This means that while the general gist of the story remains the same with each play-through, signature sequences unfold differently, unveiling new revelations, game-play and potentially new mechanics.
Tiers and Level Progression
The entire game is broken down into three “tiers” containing four episodes, each of which can be played in any order. While the details of which order we will be creating the episodes has not been decided, we hope to ask the Order to vote on which episodes they’d like to see next, it is possible that in the final version of the game (once all episodes of a tier have been released, or all have been) that the player can select which story to hear/play next, as a result of his questioning John Smith and John Doe. When all episodes of a tier have been played, the next tier is opened up, until all three tiers are complete leading to the final story climax and resolution.
So What’s in an Episode?
An episode, then, comprises content for the Hub level – the abandoned hospital that Becker explores – a complete story for one or two characters, and a denouement section dealing with what Becker has learned from the story.
In this way, the Hub level acts as an introductory “wrapper” for a historical level, which is Klára’s story “A Dream within a Dream” in the first episode to be released – containing a mix of gameplay and narrative content.
Paul and Shawn discuss the project overview and budget breakdown.
More notes and references are available here.
Kevin Gordon, resident Art Chameleon of Precursor Games discusses Art creation, CryENGINE3 features and current system development in Shadow of The Eternals, as well as future system and visual goals.
As a content creators in the video game industry, it is a great honour and a privilege to be able to pursue creative freedom and shape a game, but it is not without its trials. It’s a tall order to absorb enough information to be able to write convincingly within any world, and a historical one is perhaps even harder. With complete fantasy, details can be left out or blurred, and very few of the audience are any the wiser, but writing within a historical world – our real world – requires far more fastidious attention to detail and it is inevitable that mistakes are made. We are, after all, game developers and not scholars of world history, linguistics, ancient medieval anthropology, militaria, international culture and the many other disciplines that come together in our story, no matter how much we try to be.
Our generous community of enthusiasts have offered their help and expertise on several subjects – Hungarian and Slovak language differences, Latin translation, Nordic culture – the list is impressive. In the distant past, we’d hear of potential corrections, requests for future treatment of certain aspects and errors that we were just not aware of, but only after the fact when our art was already in circulation, pressed onto so many CDs, DVDs, printed books and so on. There was, quite frankly, nothing that we or our publishers could do, even if it made economic sense.
But today things are different. Our ardent community have made suggestions for corrections and subtle changes toward furthering our quest for historical authenticity when and where possible, and we are in the fortunate position of being able to make them.
With that and the spirit of community interaction in mind, we would like to act upon the suggestions we have received.
“Erzebet Bathory” will be changed to “Erzsébet Báthory” and Clara’s first name would become “Klára” to better represent their ethnicity as Hungarian. Similarly, we will be changing the name of the castle in Episode 1 from Čachtice to Csejthe castle. In this case, we were aware of the two terms, but needed to make a decision between the name which is generally used to describe it today and thus be recognizable to our audience and the term it would have had in the 17th Century and be historically accurate.
We are also unhappy with the grave error in spelling Mr. Edgar Allan Poe’s name incorrectly in our teaser video and we intend to rectify this as soon as possible, lest we end up bricked up behind a wall, or facing a visit from a dire avian messenger.
Over the next few weeks, we intend to reveal more about the characters and locations of Shadows of the Eternal and further explain the episodic structure of our game, and hopefully bring you all further inside our world. This past week we have seen a lot of speculation about what could be done, thoughts on what we were actually proposing, as well as what people would like to see. As someone who has had these character’s cooped up in my head for a long time, it will be refreshing to finally get them out to share with you, and to hear your comments and the discussion that may follow.
We hope that you will be as interested in our characters – and their stories – as much as we are.
Whomever wields this sword is cursed with immortality. Each time the character dies, their strength grows with the life force of previous victims. Their flesh is reformed as the pain and suffering of each death is infused as a vivid memory attacking the sanity of the wielder. Use of this weapon should be exercised with caution.
Kotaku Questions can be posted here.
I’m Shawn Jackson, the Chief Operating Officer at Precursor Games. I just wanted to give a little bit of background on myself for those who don’t know me, as well as talk about bringing Shadow of the Eternals into production.
How I got here
I’ve wanted to make videogames ever since I was 15 when Resident Evil 2 came out. From there I really got into games like Syphon Filter, Thrill Kill, Street Fighter, Command and Conquer, Halo and Battle For Middle Earth. Fast forward to the future: I took art centric programs in college and one of them was a postgrad diploma in gaming. From there I debuted my career as an Environment Artist at Ubisoft Montreal, Silicon Knights in 2007 and now a COO at Precursor Games.
What am I responsible for?
My job description is simple; get the project done and make it great! However, that description comes with many difficult challenges. This does not mean I get a whip to crack off the backs of our team members and expect them to work harder. I’ve been in the thick of development as an environment artist with strict deadlines for many years – I’ve seen many different approaches to this. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of having some great mentors who have taught me the value of teamwork and time management in a development studio environment. I’ve learned that if someone is enthusiastic in their work, they will take it upon themselves to manage their time wisely and do the best job that they can.
The Opportunity – Three pillars that make Shadow of the Eternals Unique
Crowdfunding a project has a unique set of opportunities that you typically wouldn’t see through traditional game development. At Precursor Games I feel that the combination of Crowdfunding, Community Created Content and Episodic Content makes this opportunity so special. It is something that deserves attention.
With crowdfunding we are able to work with our community and retain creative control in the development cycle. The people can decide directly with their wallet whether they would like to see that the game comes to the marketplace.
Our community is very important to us and by directly involving them in the development process, we are able to work with them to create unique ideas. This way, our community can get their own content into the game in which otherwise wouldn’t be possible in a traditional development cycle.
Episodic content allows us to work on portions of the game at a time and then look to our fans for the feedback. There are two ways that everyone can benefit from this model. First, they see the development team responding to their ideas and feedback sooner than with a traditional game. Second, we can gauge the gamer’s anticipation with regards to new ideas, concepts, design mechanisms, or stories and then use that information to refine our work.
Precursor Games wants to make the best games that it can and I truly believe that we are going to create something that we can all be proud of.