While an official Dungeon Keeper sequel seems unlikely, next year fans could have the next best thing - a game heavily inspired by the Bullfrog classic built by some of its biggest fans.
War for the Overworld, made by a team of around 15 professionals, modders and enthusiasts, launches on Kickstarter today and asks for £150,000. It is the game lead designer Josh Bishop, a 20 year old computer science student from Brighton, has always wanted to make.
“We're all big Dungeon Keeper fans,” he told Eurogamer during his free hour between classes at Brighton City College earlier this week. “That's pretty much what this project is about. We want a new Dungeon Keeper game.”
The team behind War for the Overworld emerged around five months ago from a Dungeon Keeper fansite called Keeper Klan. It teamed up with a group from the US called Rise, picked up a license to use the Unity game engine and set to work.
Among those working on the game is a nuclear technician, a toy designer from Marvel and an art professor.
Bishop's goal is to create a game as true to the core Dungeon Keeper experience, with tile based rooms, trap placement and spells. “We're keeping all the core stuff,” Bishop explained. “You could look at other games that have tried to do something similar, like Evil Genius, they've done bits and pieces but they've not kept the core formula.
“It's just what made Dungeon Keeper great. It's a nice, fast-paced dungeon building simulation.”
The plan is to release an open beta version of the game in March 2013 to all who have pledged £15 and above. This version of the game is sandbox mode, which allows players to play freely and test the core components. Subterranean Games, the company founded by Bishop to handle all the business stuff associated with the project, will add new features every other week, following the model that served Minecraft so well.
The release of the base game is set for August 2013, although Bishop hopes it'll be done before then. This includes a short campaign and a skirmish mode that works online.
Stretch goals, called Flex Goals by the War for the Overworld Kickstarter, will be added post release. One of these is a co-op survival mode that draws from Horde from Gears of War, Dungeon Defenders and Tower Defense and combines them with Dungeon Keeper mechanics. Others include an extension to the campaign, matchmaking for multiplayer and other modes - “whatever people ask for”.
To give gamers a better idea of what War for the Overworld will look like Subterranean has launched what it calls a playable showcase, a visual representation of the level of graphics quality the final game will have. The showcase, playable from within the game's website, lets you walk around a static dungeon. Inside are closed doors. Every day, as pledges roll in, the team will unlock these doors, filling up the treasury with gold. It will let fans vote for the character models they want to see in the gallery, too. “It will be a living thing,” Bishop said.
People will be able to vote on which features are most important to them, and those are the ones the team will prioritise with the extra money raised.
You might have heard a familiar voice in the pitch video: that of UK actor Richard Ridings (Allan Ashburn in the ITV television drama Fat Friends and the voice of the Mentor in Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2). Bishop approached his agent to help out with the Kickstarter, which he was happy to do. “Lately he's been doing more good characters, so he was quite excited to do something more evil,” Bishop, who sat in on the recording, said. “It came out great.”
Now, Ridings' voice acting is a Flex Goal of its own. "If you help us reach £225,000 we will be able to hire him on as the narrator for the entire game and pay for studio costs associated with his recording," the pitch reads.