After six years, an indie developer has admitted defeat and ended work on his ambitious, crowdfunded space sim - and he's received an outpouring of support from backers.
In a sobering update on Kickstarter, Josh Parnell said he could not finish Limit Theory, a procedurally-generated No Man's Sky-esque game he had worked on ever since raising $187,865 on Kickstarter back in 2012.
Limit Theory was pitched as an infinite, do whatever you want, be whoever you want space sim in which you could explore a procedurally-generated universe, mine asteroids, land on planets to trade and even have AI control fleets of ships.
Parnell, who was the sole developer on Limit Theory, published a raft of gameplay videos over the years showing how his work was coming along and how excited he was for people to play it.
However, working on Limit Theory had taken its toll on Parnell, who in the new update cited financial, physical and mental health issues for the situation.
"Every year that passes sees me becoming more desperate to make good on the dream with which you all entrusted me, but each such year I grow less and less capable of doing so as my mindset falls further away from that bright, beautiful hope that powered me from the beginning," Parnell said.
"I am not what I once was."
Parnell blamed himself for the state of things, saying he underestimated the challenge he faced developing Limit Theory on his own - and it's clear from the Kickstarter update that Parnell has suffered a crisis of confidence.
"No matter how hard I try, it's not enough to bring LT to fruition, and this pattern of failure has evicted all self-confidence and hope from my mind, leaving only doubt, anxiety, and despair," he said.
"Some days I think to myself 'how absurd that a game should make me feel this way,' and I realise just how unfit I have become to build a source of joy. I wanted so, so badly to make you all proud. To bring you all joy. There are no words to properly convey how sorry I am that I have failed you all."
While, clearly, Parnell is done with Limit Theory, all is not lost for the game. Parnell said he is now preparing the Limit Theory source code for release. "I don't imagine it will be of any use to anyone, other than as a monument to a failed dream," he said.
Parnell concluded his post by saying stopping working on Limit Theory "has been the most painful, difficult decision of my life, and I'm sure that there will be no shortage of blowback".
"But I simply cannot continue to destroy myself in search of a feat of which I am not capable."
However, this anticipated blowback has so far failed to materialise. Most of the near 250 comments from backers on Parnell's post are overwhelmingly supportive.
"Thanks for the ride, Josh," wrote backer Dan Ormond. "It's been a fascinating journey and the insight has been wonderful. You make sure you look after yourself now, you hear?! Well done on all your work - it's been incredible to watch the project blossom and grow over the last six years. No regrets from this early-bird backer and I will definitely have a bash on the released code! Peace x"
"You dared to chase a dream my dude," said steampunkdomo. "No apology necessary. I'm glad you got to try. I'm sad to see it didn't work out, but you gave it your all man, I appreciate that. Don't stop dreaming."
"You have not failed us... at all," said Joshua Villines. "We supported you because we wanted you to try, and try you did, going above and beyond what we asked of you. I'm sure you learned some lessons from this project, and I hope one of them is that you should keep dreaming and keep trying. I'm glad to have supported you, and I look forward to seeing what you create next."
While it's sad to see Limit Theory come to an end, it looks like it's absolutely the right thing to do for Parnell - and it's heartwarming to see support come from those who forked out to back the project on Kickstarter.