A lot of smash hits have started out with humble beginnings as mods. ‘Team Fortress’, ‘Dota’, and even the recent Dota Auto Chess mod that’s become incredibly popular all started out as fanmade takes on games like ‘Quake’. That’s the hope that developer Modern Storyteller has with ‘The Forgotten City’, a fully fleshed out version of the fantastic, award-winning Skyrim mod.
“It’s sort of the combination of the people of Lost, the environment of uncharted, and the time loop mechanic of Groundhog Day or Russian Doll,” Modern Storyteller founder Nick Pearce tells Variety. “It’s all this set in an ancient underground city.”
The short demo I played at the ID@Xbox event at GDC felt straight out of Skyrim, although the story was nothing like the classic first-person adventure. It was only a taste, but that short bit was full of mysterious ambition that left me wanting more. I’ll admit, I never played the original mod (or any mods for that matter), so I was going in completely blind.
‘The Forgotten City’s’ gameplay is just as you imagined after hearing its origin story. It’s a first-person adventure RPG with a Bethesda-vibe that focuses on progressing the story through a time loop mechanic. Like the mod before it, ‘The Forgotten City’ features everything that Skyrim and Oblivion are known for– an extensive amount of voice acting and characters, an original score, and beautiful environments built completely from the ground up.
Pearce got his start working on the original mod and he quickly knew the success it would have if it could be made into a full game. Nothing is reused, obviously, since that would cause copyright issues. The standalone version takes all the specifics from Skyrim and the specific story beats from the mod and completely re-imagines them while keeping the basic story structure in place.
“‘Dear Esther’ and the ‘Stanley Parable’ were both narrative-driven games that started out as mods,” Pearce said. “So, you know, there’s definitely something about modes turning into games that gives a chance of being spectacularly successful. I’m hoping to follow in that tradition, but it’s always a gamble.”