Never confirmed but never forgotten, TimeSplitters 4 continues to be given hope by fans and developers of the time-traveling first-person shooter alike. It was only a few months ago that a partition of industry insiders alleged to seeing the game in action, and only a year ago that chatter circulated about current developer Crytek building TimeSplitters 4 for the Xbox 720.

In a set of statements that don’t, incidentally, push its potential status beyond Production Phase 1 (but do inspire hope that chainsaw-wielding nuns are still in someone’s storyboard closet), Crytek has expressed a strong desire to begin work on TimeSplitters 4. The studio even mulled launching a Kickstarter to seek funding, and that prospect has now been received – almost instantly – by an burgeoning¬† fan petition.

CVG sat down in a recently-published E3 interview with Cevat Yerli, Crytek’s CEO, conducting the perpetual inquiry on the future of TimeSplitters 4. In addition to ruling out a retail release for the game, Yerli says that no one at the Frankfurt-based developer is even working on the project (which suggests that the rumored development build, if it existed, went the way of Star Wars: Battlefront III).

At the same time, though, Yerli yearns to see it happen:

“I love the idea, and I wish we’ll work on it, but currently we are not working on it.”

The straightforward denial of TimeSplitters 4’s existence is some of the clearest, if still disparaging word we’ve had on the series for quite some time. However, Yerli’s explanation – which cited an uncertainty about fan interest and a stonewalling from publishers – naturally shifted into developing the game through Kickstarter, the crowdfunding website which recently raised over $3 million to get Double Fine Adventure off the ground.

Timesplitters 4 Development Kickstarter

Kickstarter is normally reserved for smaller creators with a smaller cache of resources, and indeed, Yerli concluded that “It wouldn’t feel right” after discussing the idea internally.¬† But sticking with the possibility, he also stated: “I suppose if someone really, really wanted to…”

Harmless at first, those words have been taken to heart by the TimeSpitters community on Facebook.

The “100,000 Strong for Timesplitters 4” page – currently over 8,000 strong – was founded on a simple premise: convince Crytek to bring the fourth installment of the series to fruition by any means necessary – “even if it means doing a Kickstarter.” The site has garnered much attention in the wake of Yerli’s comments, eventually leading to a tweet from the Crytek CEO himself:

“I had 2 interviews that provoked this question, how big is the TimeSplitters Community? Let me hear you!! TS2 rocks, one of my alltime favs!”

It’s easy to get a conflicting picture of where things stand on TimeSplitters 4 between previous rumors, Yerli’s development denials, and now his ensuing acknowledgement of the fan support for a Kickstarter. Gauging the strength of the famously-cult-but-never-immense community seems to be Crytek’s primary focus, however, and there’s a sense that a new project won’t be undertaken soon with the developer stretched between Crysis 3, Homefront 2, Ryse, Warface, and an impending overhaul to a total free-to-play structure.

Timesplitters 4 Crytek Kickstarter Screenshot

Additionally, it would set a precarious precedent, a big-name studio like Crytek launching a project on Kickstarter: Where’s the line between an earnest, fan-driven developer pick-me-up – the true intention of the website – and an exploitation by studios who would simply choose to save their own money? How does an established company (in Crytek’s case, an arguable powerhouse) openly ask for public funding without diminishing that same public’s confidence in its financial stability? These dilemmas – Sony Canada’s Marketing and PR Director, Matt Levitan, spoke to us last month about the aforementioned reputation concerns – are undoubtedly on the minds of Crytek when Yerli says “it wouldn’t feel right,” and will likely be weighed heavily regardless of public support.

Ranters, where do you stand on a Crytek Kickstarter for TimeSplitters 4? Would you lend your money to the cause out of fandom, or would you be concerned about the road such a move might lead down?

Follow me on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: CVG, TimeSplitters 4 Facebook Campaign [via CVG]