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An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one.  Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one. Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
5,449 backers pledged $187,865 to help bring this project to life.

The End

Posted by Josh Parnell (Creator)

It is with a heart of lead that I write this announcement. Not in my darkest nightmares did I expect this day to ever come, but circumstances have reached a point that even my endless optimism can no longer rectify. I can not finish Limit Theory.

After six years, I am finally at the end of my means. Financially, I am beyond the initial investment and have exhausted most of my personal savings. But significantly more troubling is that I am entirely out of energy -- emotionally, mentally, even physically. 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. I am not what I once was.

Despite what felt like an incredible amount of progress in the last year alone, Limit Theory remains frighteningly far from feature completion. It is my own fault, for having underestimated at every turn the amount of work that goes into such a creation. It is my own fault, for having overestimated my own cognitive resilience and for believing that no number of setbacks would ever inhibit my ability to bring a passion project to life.

I don't know how to make this right. For years now, I've been running on pure loyalty to you all -- it has been quite a long time, if I'm honest, since I was actually working from a place of inspiration -- yet even with the purest of intentions and the deepest desire to honor my commitment, I find myself unable to bring about miracles. 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. Some days I think to myself "how absurd that a game should make me feel this way," and I realize 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.

I imagine I could go on and on with this gushing of negativity -- the years have left me with no shortage of it. But I don't think much good will come of it. Those of you who have followed the project closely, you already know how much I have put into it; how I have given 110% of myself. Trying isn't the same as doing, so I don't expect any thanks for it, but I hope you all do know just how hard I've tried. I've simply got nothing more to give.

So, what now?

Well, I will prepare the source code for release. It's not a working game, and in my frenzy to get things working I've left huge swaths of code in a half-refactored or half-complete state. But releasing it is the least I can do. I don't imagine it will be of any use to anyone, other than as a monument to a failed dream. Perhaps those who are interested in game engines will glean a thing or two from the engine, as it is a fairly solid piece of engineering, much more solid than the Lua game code.

For the moment, though, I wanted to get this off my chest as soon as possible. It 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. When I began this project, I felt that anything was possible. Here now, at the end, I must swallow the painful reality that: I, too, am human. I am limited by time, I am limited by finances, and I am limited by mental & emotional stamina.

One last time, I would like to thank everyone who contributed. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for believing in Limit Theory. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to try for something wonderful. One last time, I am so sincerely sorry for having let you down. I hope, at the very least, that some of you have enjoyed the ride as I've pitted my brain over the years against one challenge after the next.

I'll be in touch when I have readied the source code for release.


Ben S, chanman, and 308 more people like this update.


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    1. Tomduril on

      Dear Josh thank you for your words.

      I got more out of this project than from others that "delivered" some part of their promise. For me your updates are worth the money I spend, and even the time I spend watching the updates!

      Please see Limit Theory not as a "failed" project, but a project to learned from.
      And a project that has been a significant part of your life.
      The experience will nurture you the rest of your life.

      Thank you for letting me be part of your journey!
      I, for my part, enjoyed it very much (even the end).

      Stay safe.

    2. Greg Adkins

      I invoke my rights under Kickstarter's Terms of Use:

      "Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill."

      I demand a full refund for my pledge amount.

    3. Magnus Alvestad on

      Don't worry, it happens.

    4. Richard Harrison

      Knew from a very early stage that this was going to be vapourware and never going to get delivered. Classic example of a (seemingly) talented techie having no common sense and experience of how to drive and deliver a project.

    5. Chairman Wang on

      Hmm truth be told, I never really expected this project to go anywhere. I know others are more encouraging but to me this is a huge failure in scoping and project management whose lessons I hope will help you professionally. Whether you code for a living or not, the expectations and the execution to me was sorely lacking. Transparency helps, but it's only a balm, not a remedy.

      Looking back at the history, it's been 6 long years. Quite frankly it might've been wiser to cut your losses much sooner than this. At some point it becomes sunk cost to both the project and you as an individual and to me, that point was much before this last update. I look forward to the source code though as, who knows, fickle as the space game scene is, someone else might use it (or for a different kind of game).

      Note: Below is just a observation I noticed and I'm not trying to compare 1 game to the other as their situation has some considerable differences so put away your pitchforks :P

      Funnily enough, I was going to comment that I don't know any Kickstarter project that after so many years of rework and such prolong development could survive. Yet there is another game, in the same genre, that was kickstarted at a similar time doing just that. The scope and backing are wildly different, but the core challenges seem similar.

      Ultimately to me, this is the biggest indicator that transparency isn't what gives us backer's confidence, its tangible progress. You can have open discussions about development all you want but until you start delivering on the dream, it's vaporware (and still might be all things considered)

    6. NobleBrutus on

      Releasing the code is the right idea, it was a good ride and sometimes it shouldn't matter if we reach the top or not. All the best!

    7. sasklacz on

      You never know what could happen to this game when it's released as open source. Maybe some crazy Notch will find it and decide to build a team and finish it ? :)

    8. Taran Matharu on

      Have you thought if seeking investors? Perhaps they could fund its completion, and give you the help you need.

      Get well soon, Josh. No pressure, just a passing thought.

    9. Peter Pakalnis on

      Years later and such incredible work done, I can safely say I do not feel anything but admiration for you for having put so much time, effort, energy, and love into your project.

      I knew backing a game made by one person, way back then, was a risk. I invested in you, not just the idea, and I am glad that if nothing else you learned a heck of a lot and gave some really cool ideas to the lot of us!

      Thank you

    10. Missing avatar

      Jason Bauman on

      I was a backer and really excited to see this game. Then life happened and I forgot about it awhile before coming back to see what the update was now that I have some more free time.

      I found my Kickstarter password to log in and say this: Thank you.

      Like others here, I sponsored a ton of projects on this site and others. Some of them did well and I have the products, others the final product was nowhere close to the promise. Finally some failed. But few have been as transparent about the process as you have been. Few would take the time to come here and post anything beyond "well we ran out of money, so long and thanks for all the fish"

      But you did. Not only that, you're releasing the source code and worried about where this leaves your backers. You had an incredible vision. Sometimes bringing that vision into reality isn't in the cards. But I'd rather have that than endless rewrites of the same formula or developers who take my money and run. (or others that run a ScamPAC and call it Star Citizen).

      So thank you. Keep dreaming. Keep building, And if you're ever nearby, coffee's on me.

      A Black Friday Backer.

    11. Missing avatar

      Benjamin Abrams

      I agree with what Venron said. I've had a handful of project creators run with the money and a few who strung us along for years with convenient reasons for having no progress. To date, I think that you're the only one that has outright admitted failure, communicated it well, and showed genuine concern for the backers. For that, you have my thanks and my respect.

      Keep us informed if you start another project. Some of us here may still be interested.

    12. Venron

      I have backed over 1200 projects between different crowdfunding sites, with a failure or scam rate of about 1%. There have been 100s of successful projects across multiple categories, both physical and software. Some have had very disappointing finished products. As Kickstarter states, they are not a store. You are investing in an idea that may or may not be successful. Josh poured his heart into this project, but unfortunately, the scope was just too large. Although I am not receiving a finished product for this project, it has been more valuable than some other projects I have backed for larger amounts.
      Frankly, I am somewhat relieved that this happened, as I really don't have the time to spare on playing this dream. I could see being sucked in and spending all my waking hours with this.
      Good luck in all your future endeavors, Josh!

    13. Bryan Massengale on

      That is sad. I hope you have a good rest and remember that success is built on a mountain of failure.

    14. Styggron on

      I am disappointed as I backed at quite a high level so I guess that is money completelt lost. I stayed in there hoping always thinking it will come through as delays were not a problem as I had full faith in Josh.

    15. Matt Dubois on

      I'm a bit late to seeing this announcement, but I wanted to echo the sentiments of others and forgive you for daring to bite off more than you can chew. I also hope that you can forgive yourself, because it sounds like over the last several years you've internalized some negative self thought. I don't think anyone in this community wants that for you, and I certainly don't. I remember when I first started following this project years ago, and being so impressed with your lively mind and Ironclad work ethic. I don't admire you any less today. I truly hope that with the benefit of time and self-care, you will realize that you are still the bright, energetic, worthy young man you were when you started this project. I hope you'll take some time to care for yourself and to rediscover in yourself the traits that have caused so many people to pour out their support and affection for you over the years.

      I wish the best of luck and happiness to you all your future endeavors.

    16. Jesse White

      When I first backed this I was an accountant with a programming hobby. Seeing your daily updates was one of the things that influenced me to try to pursue a career in programming. Soon I will be celebrating my second year as a dev with a large company.

      Josh, thank you for that inspiration. Even if you failed. It is clear you tried, much more than any failed KS I have seen. There is no dishonor in honest failure. I wish you the best.

    17. Jaga on

      This is why I backed out around a year ago and sold my pledge.

      Josh - you are a brilliant engine builder, NOT a game creator. After 2 or more years past the delivery date you should have realized it, sold the game to a company willing to put the needed resources and talent into finishing it, and continued to work for THEM instead of trying to hold on to what you thought you could do. There was never any 'game' in LT, just a perpetually half-finished engine that constantly was revamped for "the next great thing".

      The near psychotic break you had should have been a clue that you were ill-prepared and suited to finish a game (any game), but for some reason it didn't. Instead you doggedly plugged along, and ultimately caused the failure of your own vision, and lost people their money and hopes for LT.

      I do hope you recover and find some semblance of normality with your talents in the coming years.

      Limit Theory is just another hard learned lesson for everyone - not everything dreamed of is possible, especially when left to a fallible human grasping for the stars on their own. And one more drop in the bucket that may eventually spell an end to software projects on crowd-funded platforms.

      Caveat Emptor.

    18. Velaxis on

      Well I should of seen this coming. All of these kickstarter projects have been the same. I think I have one project I backed made it to an actual game.

      Also this game is one of the reasons I will never kickstart another game again. Why would I put my hard earned money into a project that potentially has another Josh working on it. You came into this stating that you knew it was something you could do. I blame the platform somewhat, letting anyone with hopes and dreams get large amounts of money with no real idea on how to manage it. Nearly 200k for zip is not really a fail and move on moment. All this people saying Failure is how we learn. That's great but usually most of us fail and learn without spending 200k of other peoples money. I am so glad that I could see with other projects I backed around the same time. Going tits up and being complete bullshit in the end. That I never recommended this to any of my friends and lost them money investing in some kids fantasy that had no way of being realized. I guess what I get out of it is a healthy distrust for any and all crowdfunding sourced projects. I used to think it was a good idea, now I think sites like Kickstarter indigogo etc are just pools for scamming swamp scum to infest and grow. Which is unfortunate because it hurts the people that put actual effort into their product before deciding to crowdfund. Which now seems bloody obvious you did not. You did no research, did not look into how small games are made or maintained. Did not set up a plan to manage your money correctly or manage your time correctly. Simply jumped up one day and said "yep I can make a game of this scale" Throw it at kickstarter and here we are. You literally set yourself up for failure. No amount of passion is going to replace well planned and thought out working structure.

    19. Alien on

      I only backed at $15, not much really and I can write it off. I don't know what your intentions were, only you truly know that for sure, I would like to think you were being genuine and not scamming us all along, but I honestly don't know. I hope that one day someone makes this a game, I really wanted to play it, and those of us who backed this get it for free.
      Stay safe, peace, love and chicken grease.

    20. Missing avatar

      Kaeroku on

      For the record, if anyone still wants to buy my pledge...

    21. Missing avatar

      Kaeroku on

      And so many people poo-poo'd me for saying this was coming based on the lack of commitment to set-goals.

      Sigh. Shoulda let the people who wanted my pledge buy it when I had the chance. How very misleading.

    22. Missing avatar

      voidzero on

      Best of luck man! I hope you recover from this.

    23. Jordan Louis on

      I bear you no ill will, and I am still quite proud of you for all of the hard and ambitious work you have done on this project. I am happy to have contributed to such a journey, and while I am saddened that it has caused you so much pain and has not come to fruition, I am also relieved that you can begin your road to recovery so that someday you can find joy in this once again.

      I wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavours.

    24. Sean Tudor on

      Thanks for the update. I think the lesson to learn here is to set yourself definite milestones and don't constantly adjust project goals. Other small projects have succeeded by being released and then added to over time. I am not particularly worried about my pledge as I have pledged infinitely more to another well known project. Move forward and take this as a learning experience.

      If you decide to go down this path again at a future date my recommendation is to stay away from crowd funding as that would only put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

    25. Jan Seidler on

      It's better to fail than to never have tried. The important part is the learning, and what you make out of it.

      Your learning should at least be that you are not complete yet as an adult to take on a responsibility like that. I fully believe your IT skills are not only enough but actually outstanding, but it is unacceptable to run into mental health issues over a project - any project. It is not excusable with passion, dedication or workaholism. If you take on such a responsibility ever again, please make sure you bring everything to the table it takes, not just the coding talent.

      Having said that: I hope to see you again in this arena one day. I will trust you and invest in you again.

    26. Missing avatar

      Doug "Dhomal" Raas

      I have been lax in going through KS project emails, so I am late here.

      You did a Great amount of work, so I don't think it should be viewed as a complete failure. I could never do anything like this myself, as I am not versed in coding really.

      Releasing the code is a great thing, and maybe someone, or a group of someones will jump in and try and move forward a bit with it. I know I would be interested to know if that happens.

      Take time for yourself and get to a better place. And as someone else suggested, find a job working for someone else doing great work in the games industry, and put your personal touches on their projects. I know myself, I would not mind an update here in the future saying that you helped design XYZ game from ABC company, and inviting us to check it out.

      I know some will be gravely annoyed/angered by this news. I've read one or two. And I can say I can understand their point of view. But clearly, some people are always in the mindset of critiquing others and pointing fingers and assigning blame. Do not let them get you down.

      I have backed other failed projects. And some that truly Deserve the derision of the backers against the creators. But yours is not one of them.

      I am happy to have witnessed the development such that I did (I did not follow Overly closely, as much of the technological speak is over my head!) and feel that my meager investment was paid back in full just from that.

      Good luck to you in all you do in the future!

      -Doug "Dhomal" Raas

    27. Anthony Constantino on

      I'm a little surprised your getting a pass on this from everybody. You appear to have mismanaged, over promised and under produced. You couldn't even manage to take care of yourself mentally/physically as an adult. Really disappointed. Every body else can be all Happy Schmappy. I will not be.

    28. MellowTigger on

      Many thanks for open sourcing the code. I don't consider it any major loss when the fruits of labor are returned to the public who funded that labor. Your effort will still offer some benefit to we who support you, then and now.

    29. William Mackie on

      I always found you, Josh, to be inspiring in so many ways. Your writing, your thought process, your understanding of technology, your ability to deconstruct systems to their atomic components are just some of the ways in which continued to amaze and impress.

      At this point, where the towel is thrown in, this project failed to deliver what you intended. That sucks.
      But your dream was inspirational and your videos were riveting. The beauty in your procedural renders and the applied approach which created them; stunning.

      I've been a developer for 15 years and have seen plenty of failed projects, they're not uncommon.
      Someone of your obvious intelligence and talent, however, is quite uncommon indeed.

      Best of luck in everything.

    30. Ari Mononen on

      Part of being human is to fail sometimes when we are reaching for our limits. When you do something like this with effort you have showed, then you have already succeeded even though there is no end result you hoped for.

      All the best and take care.

    31. Missing avatar

      Robin Hayes on

      I wish you the best. I supported your project because I want solo developers to be able to follow their dreams without having to sell out to some soulless profit-driven corporation or investors.

      I'm sorry that the stress of this project has been hurting you, and I can't say I blame you for cutting your losses at this point. I feel like I got my $20 worth just from the inspiration you gave me in my own journey down this path.

      I hope this experience doesn't sour you on trying to create awesome experiences for other people, only maybe a little less ambitious next time :).

      If it makes you feel any better, large companies usually scrap projects long before this point, and don't feel bad about it. You're a decent human being, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    32. Missing avatar

      Colm Mac Donnchadha on

      Hey Josh,
      I've followed your posts with interest all the way through. Your work was inspirational to me and I learned a great deal from your blog posts. When I backed you, I did so because I thought it would be a cool game. It still is and I look forward to seeing the code base.
      Thank you very much for your dedication. Get some rest, recharge and go have fun.

    33. Missing avatar

      Jobbe Smit on

      Josh you have my thanks for your relentless attempts and bringing this dream to life. None that followed this journey with even a shred of attention can say you gave up to easily.

      Yes the project failed but failure is a part of life. You gave it your best, of that I'm convinced. If this is it, that's what it is. Now go and rekindle that flame of passion, somehow, somewhere.

      Maybe it's weird but I'll back you again in a heartbeat if you ever again decide to kickstart a project. Good luck with your next journey.

    34. Dadalos on

      Thomas A. Edison “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

      In my view as a backer this was not a failure, yes as my have stated I was hooked on the idea of the game and would have devoted far to much time in playing it upon its release. that being said while we dont have a game to show for it we do have the community and experience that is the development of such a beast. personally i feel amply repaid for my initial investment years ago. I in no way feel slighted or duped. I cheered at success and cried at failure and laughed at the wonderful antics that grew on the forums over the whole process. Heck, the Dev log videos themselves are worth the price of admition. XD wish you well and I am ready to back any future project you can dream up once you've settled down and recharged spirit/mind/body. take care and be safe.

      for my part I would not be surprised if with the release of the code some of the more dedicated members of the community take it to task and open source this project until it reaches completion.

    35. Steven Dengler on

      “Criticism is easily avoided. You must simply say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.” - Aristotle

      The path of a solo creator is not easy. Josh, you have my respect and admiration.

      To all those who would offer criticism, I suggest watching this video first:…


    36. Bahasa Inggeris

      @Ni ! I agree with what you said. I understand people want to be supportive of Josh, and when you pledge on KS you are doing so in the hopes that the project gets made. But $188,000 is a nice chunk of cash and typically when a project gets over 3x the funding it is looking for, something is produced. I'm not saying Josh was scamming us, but there's no way to know for sure. It gives me an idea on how I can make $250,000 in 6 years though.
      @Josh I hope you learned a lot and that you are taking care of yourself. If you run a KS in the future, it would be nice if there were a free pledge level for the backers of this project. This may allow us to get something in this genre before Star Citizen turns into vaporware.

    37. Julia on

      Thanks for everything. Take care of yourself and be well.

    38. Missing avatar

      Ni ! on

      I'm kinda surprised with all the happiness in this forum, when you consider 187 000 USD of backers money and no game in the end. Let's not make it the happiest failure of the century, guys, I really don't thnk it's a right aproach.

      I am... ok with it. LT was my favorite project here on Kickstarter, I fell in love immediately with it and was watching it closely for a while. I was more and more excited, these game ideas seemed excellent. However then I realized that you, Josh, are dealing with bigger problems than the game and I decided to give you more time, as many as you want. Therefore I neither comment here nor complained on forums.

      Now, after six years, the true is I really don't know what was actually going on. Reading the comments of the people that followed the development more than me I just guess it wasn't fraud :)... and that you tried as much as you could. Now is the end of the development.

      I am ok with it. I have made much worse investments in my life and don't regret to support you in your journey. I really appreciate the decision to release a source code to the people, this is really important and fair step I think.

      Last but not least, I wish you good luck in the future work and in your life. While I am sad that I will never be able to play a great game LT could have been, I hope you will use this experience and allow yourself to make some other games that you will enjoy to develop. Your ideas are often brilliant and it would be shame if you stop trying.

    39. Mario Roberti on

      Don't sweat it Josh, glad I could help your attempt! You showed us what was possible with passion. You accomplished a ton! Keep going on to something new, and stay positive and mind your health! Nothing but love on this side.

    40. Mocnijogurt on

      Well, the others wrote everything meaningful that could be written... Maybe you could made something more simple in a past year or two, it is just a sad thing that after all that work there is almost nothing behind you except a few hundreds passionate supporters. You do not have nothing to be ashamed for, all of us supported your passion and your ideas, supporting that was a game for itself, your thrill was our thrill, your disappointment was ours too . I'm truly sorry about your health problems, just cheer up and do something that will fulfill you.
      All the best!

    41. Missing avatar


      Dude, you stuck with it for an insanely long time, and your upfront updates and honesty speaks to your integrity as a person. You should be proud you made it this far as basically the only person working on this.

      I've backed a number of projects, and really, you have given this more than some companies do! Please rest up! Don't pour any more personal capital into this! I think putting out the source code is a great idea.

      We of course were all routing for you, but at the same time, it looks like pretty much all of us want what is best for you. Big high five to you sir. Much respect.

    42. Jonathan Rudd on

      So happy at the positivity in the comments section - what a fantastic group of people!

      All the best to you in your future endeavors!

      Remember: There is no failure - only lessons!

    43. David Lidstone on

      Josh, I'm actually glad to hear this news. This has clearly become a burden rather than a pleasure and it is time to let it go and leave that weight behind. Leaving a commitment is never easy, but can actually be uplifting. Time to move on with your head up high and look to the future.
      I backed this project because of a you and your belief in your dream of LT, In truth I have felt some guilt that this placed a burden on you. You have done everything and more to try to make it work and been honest with us as backers - no-one could ask more than that.
      I hope that the end of LT will just be the start of some great things for you and your undoubted talents.

    44. Missing avatar

      Brian Weatherill on

      Health comes first, I'm sad, mainly for you, your baby's in deep freeze..

      This too shall pass, get in the right mental space, find something to hang on to and let us know how things go..

    45. Jake Brownson on

      We all knew the risk when pledging on a project like this in Kickstarter. It's completely clear that you went into this with nothing but the best intentions, and took it as far as was physically possible and beyond. Take a rest, dust yourself off, hold your head up high and move on to the next adventure with our full support.

    46. Dave Woods [Owner of the Daffy Duck] on

      Hi Josh

      Thank you for your honesty and providing us with a frank account as to how things have progressed, both with your healf and the state of the game.

      While I am disappointed that the game development has come to an end, I can fully get behind you with regards to the reasoning. Your health is far more important than any game and your decision, whilst I believe must have been a difficult one, is the right one.

      I wish you all the best for the future.

      With thanks

    47. Carl Perry on

      Greetings Josh - I realize I'm late to the party, but I wanted to express my thanks and best wishes as well. I've worked in the games industry, and I know how hard running a sole endeavor is. You did your best, and I thank you. Please take some time for yourself, and if you need help we're here for you. Sorry I missed you at PAX South the last couple of years to thank you in person for everything you've accomplished. This wasn't a failure, and I'm betting this community is going to dive into what you release and you will see a phoenix rise from these "ashes". I know that's what I'm planning on doing.

    48. Missing avatar

      Martin on

      Been in the same position as you Josh -- following an insanely ambitious solo project to the detriment of health and mind. Also shelved mine after 8 years and probably just in time!
      Worry not -- some things are meant to (not) be.

    49. Rob of the North

      Thank you for having tried, and also for being honest with your backers. Rest, recharge and apply your talents to other projects.

      Who knows, maybe someone will pick up the source code. I’ll certainly take a look.

    50. Thomas R. Moen on

      You tried. Kudos for that. Now go be a developer with a company that makes games like Elite, no mans sky etc. so that you can be part of a team and get to know yourself better. Then, make that game excellent! Then make more games. :)