It took nearly a decade, cost over $30 million, and nearly killed Martin Sheen.
“Apocalypse Now” is celebrated as one of the best films ever made, but it was a nearly-murderous project.
And now, nearly 40 years after the film’s release, a small group of folks are attempting to turn the film into a video game.
A fledgling group of “game developers, motion picture professionals and interactive creatives” is banding together under the name Erebus LLC (a reference to the boat’s name in the film) to create the game.
They have an ambitious idea (a horror/survival game set in the world of “Apocalypse Now”); they have passion; and they have rights to the story and name.
But first, they have to raise $900,000.
Despite having Francis Ford Coppola’s blessing, as well as rights to the project, the team has been unable to secure funding. “We want your help because the traditional game publisher system won’t let this happen,” the Kickstarter for the game reads.
Thus far, the project has three main leads: an executive producer (Lawrence Liberty), a writer (Rob Auten), and a director (Montgomery Markland). Francis Ford Coppola is also listed as a member of the creative team, but he sounds more like an advisor than anything else.
If everything sounds good to you so far, that’s because the devil is in the details.
First and foremost, game budgets in the $900,000 range are unworkable. That’s an incredibly small amount of money to produce a video game in 2017. Frankly, it’s an incredibly small amount of money to produce a video game in 2010. Even small, independent games cost well over $1 million to make — and from the description of the game on the Kickstarter, it doesn’t sound like the producers of “Apocalypse Now” are creating a tiny indie game.
Here’s just some of that description:
“The game is an interactive recreation of Willard’s journey, as seen through a survival horror lens in which players with limited resources face unspeakable terrors. By choosing how to react to these situations, each player molds a unique version of Willard within the loose confines of the film story. You are Willard and your actions will determine his fate. Your mission begins in Saigon, where Willard is holed up in a dingy hotel. Audio and visual distortion evoke Willard’s emotions and past experiences. The game provides you subjective access to a character who is already nearly insane.”
While it’s entirely possible that this is planned as a low-tech, non-visually stunning game, the stretch goals don’t paint it as such. For instance: If the project meets a stretch goal of $3 million, the game will get ported to virtual reality “for the most immersive experience possible.” And if we’re talking VR and immersion, we’re talking about 3D modelling — and 3D modelling makes development that much more expensive. In so many words, it stands to reason that the game isn’t a retro-style 8-bit game.
More worrying is the lack of a prototype. A video posted to the Kickstarter page has the project’s creators talking through their plan — none of the game is shown.
A “prototype teaser” is said to be “coming soon.” Without it, I’m personally reticent to back the game adaptation of “Apocalypse Now.”
According to the project page, if it reaches $900,000, the game will be made for PC only — it will only head to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 if the project’s funding reaches $2.5 million or more (pending “platform exclusivity agreements”).
The Kickstarter has 29 days until completion; if it doesn’t reach its $900,000 goal, the project will be considered a failure and anyone who pledged money won’t be charged.