A lot of people are excited by recent developments on twitter in which Notch “mandatory Minecraft reference” Persson publicly offered oodles of money to Tim Schafer to make Psychonauts 2, and so they should be. The idea that funding for games development doesn’t have to be the sole preserve of monolithic publishers is exciting and should be encouraged. It’s also got lots of people wondering what other games Notch or someone equally rich and philanthropic could help get off the ground, including the chaps at quality PC gaming site Rock, Paper Shotgun.
I also want to play Fantasy Moneybags Sequel Jamboree, so here are five games I’d love to see plucked from the nebulous realm of fancy and dragged kicking and screaming into reality. There are tons more I’d love to see a sequel to but if I tried to cover all of them I’d be here for days, even if I disregard crazy pipe dreams like a TIE Fighter sequel that Notch and other millionaires couldn’t even get the rights to, let alone fund. Five is by no means an exhaustive list but it will suffice, so here goes.
Eternal Darkness II
The puzzling lack of a sequel for Eternal Darkness, a title I shamefully neglected to include in my list of Halloween games, is an enigma worthy of Sherlock Holmes or Batman. Is it because Nintendo own the patent on its sanity system and wont allow a sequel on any other platform, or does Dennis Dyack just hate money? Rumours abound that an Eternal Darkness II is planned for the Wii U (or whatever Nintendo finally decide to call it) but they are nebulous, unreliable reports at best, like the ravings of a moonshine-addled hillbilly. Silicon Knights had a rough time financially last year, experiencing massive layoffs in November despite generous Canadian government funding, so what better reason for a wealthy prospective patron to swoop in on wings of cash and give us the sequel we’ve all been waiting for?
No Dennis Dyack, not Too Human 2! Bad Dennis! Bad!
Towards the end of last year things were looking pretty bleak for Ukraine based GSC Game Worlds, developers of Stalker: Shadow of Chenobyl, Stalker: Call of Pripyat and that other one we don’t talk about. Everyone had assumed GSC were busy working on Stalker 2 until word leaked out via a Ukranian news site that CEO Sergei Grigorovich had decided to close the studio, leaving Stalker 2 deader than a toddler thrown to a pack of mutated rabid dogs. GSC have recently confirmed work continues on Stalker 2 but they are still seeking funding to bolster the project, which is where a generous benefactor with a taste for bleak post-Soviet ambience could step in and help. GSC want to make Stalker 2 the series’ first triple-A multi-platform title so it wouldn’t come cheap, but depriving console owners of a chance to experience life in The Zone would be a tragedy.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
To put it charitably, Bloodlines was something of a rough gem on release. Brilliantly capturing the ambience of the tabletop roleplaying game it was based on, it thrust players into the grimy underbelly of modern Los Angeles as a newly-created vampire caught in a web of intrigue spun by fascinating characters, supported by good writing. It also had John “Bender Bending Rodriguez” DiMaggio as the voice of Smiling Jack, a sarcastic Brujah vampire and all-round magnificent bastard. A tumultuous, rushed development left it with more bugs than an very careless prostitute however, and it was deemed broken beyond repair on its release in 2004. Beneath its damaged exterior was a great FPS-RPG in the vein (no pun intended) of Deus Ex, and fans who realised that worked tirelessly for the years to polish it with their own patches until it achieved a lot of its wasted potential. Download it from Steam, grab Wesp’s unofficial patch and see for yourself why Bloodlines deserves a rich vampire sugar daddy to bring back from the grave for another night on the town.
Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth 2
Another game crippled by a hellish development period, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth by now-defunct Headfirst Productions promised much yet ultimately failed to deliver. For all it did wrong however, such as the lightning gun segments, the frustrating rooftop chase, traps that killed you instantly if your resolution was too high, and bog-standard FPS boss battles, it also did a number of things absolutely, titanically right. The game’s opening quarter worked marvellously in establishing a mood of dread and lurking horror as you explored cobbled streets and run-down houses in the hoary, decrepit old fishing town of Innsmouth. And who could forget the fate of poor, sweet little Ramona? If only some mysterious rich benefactor would give Amnesia developers Frictional Games a ton of money and the Call of Cthulhu RPG license to do a sequel or spin-off, because Amnesia is just a Lovecraft tale with the serial numbers filed-off and it’s bloody brilliant.
Lords of Midnight: Eye of the Moon
Lords of What? Eye of the Whojamathingy? If that’s your immediate reaction you may be too young or not British enough to remember Mike Singleton’s sprawling ZX Spectrum fantasy epic Lords of Midnight, and its sequel Doomdark’s Revenge. Part wargame, part adventure, Lords of Midnight charged you with leading a host of heroes, free lords and their armies from a revolutionary (for its time) first-person perspective across a war-torn fantasy world trapped in an eternal winter. A world surprisingly vast and immersive for something crammed into only 48kb of ram. Windows Calculator uses more than that.
Eye of the Moon was the planned third game in the series but it never got any further than the drawing board, though some of its story and concepts resurfaced years later in the less-than-stellar Lords of Midnight: The Citadel for the PC. For years Eye of the Moon was the legendary lost sequel that would never be until May last year. Chris Wild, steward of all things Midnight at Icemark.com, announced he and Mike Singleton had begun work on Eye of the Moon along with an iOS port of Lords of Midnight. Health issues and lack of time have hampered both projects but they’re looking to turn things around over the coming months.
If I came into millions of pounds tomorrow, the first thing I’d do is send Mike and Chris an email asking “how much?”