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Limit Theory: An Open Boundless Space Sim [Kickstarter]

By on November 26th, 2012 2:19 pm

Limit Theory | Space combat simulation at Kickstarter

Another space simulation game hits Kickstarter, now it’s Limit Theory, a sandbox space combat and exploration game set in a limitless and procedural universe. Procedural in a sense that the author, Josh Parnell, proposes a unique experience every time you play, with different planets, stars, asteroids, nebulae, ships ands texture being generated every time.

About the gameplay, Josh proposes a mix between an RPG and an RTS, where you take control of one ship in first or third person. But, you could also have as many ships as you like in your fleet and have some degree of control on those as well, therefore the “RTS” aspect.

Obviously, Limit Theory is a lot about space combat and trading (as in good space sim tradition), but it also features some exploration and planet exploitation elements that are quite intriguing as well. Among these are buildings construction on the planet surfaces, like mines, factories or trading outposts, but you could also build stations in space.

Limit Theory | Space combat simulation at Kickstarter

With Limit Theory Josh aims on developing his own space sim with modern graphics, with an emphasis on full freedom and a no-game-will-be-equal kind of experience. The idea is that the player can do whatever he/she wants: be an admiral, merchant, explorer, miner, pirate, etc.

Limit Theory has already reached its funding goal of $50,000, but, with 26 days to go it seems that the sky is the limit for Josh’s ambitious space venture.You can get a downloadable DRM-free copy of the game for $20, to release on January 2014. At the moment Josh does not envisage a multiplayer experience and the current aimed platform is the PC.

Josh’s Limit Theory proposal in a nutshell:

  • Space combat simulation / RPG / RTS
  • Open world: sandbox, total freedom
  • Procedural: every game is different (objects and textures)
  • Modern graphics
  • Others: no multiplayer, unbounded universe, PC

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78 Comments


  1. DeLastOne says:

    it is indeed an interesting project… It is a fantasctic approach to the genre, and particulary on the sand box mode.

    I am not questioning his motivation and ambition but in the scope of what I am reading is that not too much for one person ? Even though he do explain the procedural methodology, I remain really skeptical about it.

    but I will pledge a 50 dollars anyway as I wish this project can make it true :)

  2. Werit says:

    Looks awesome…. except it is rather ambitious and done by a college student. If the beta was at a lower tier I might bite, but January 2014 is still pretty far off. Will be paying attention to it though!

  3. Ashbery76 says:

    Procedural games lead to bland gameplay.

    • Hypnotron says:

      I think procedural game design is the future. It always has been. We just got a bit sidetracked and distracted by the FPS genre that exploded in the mid 90s. That also assisted with the distraction of heavy directed story driven games.

      So procedural game development ended up stalling, but it’s making it’s comeback.

      Somebody mentioned Infinity. I think the problem they had is something we see time and time again with large indie projects. They spent a retardly stupid amount of time on graphics and never got around to gameplay. By the time they started to work on some basic gameplay, I think it exposed some big problems in the architecture of their scene/game management. So at runtime the game looked great, but under the hood the code base was not able to support the huge universe and feature set they were going for. Rewrites were required. I think even after the first rewrite, they still got caught up adding DX10/11 features just because it was new. So again, too much focus on graphics which is the disease left over from the FPS story driven brainwashing.

      But this is just my outside looking in HUNCH. I have no real knowledge about the issues Infinity has faced.

      I think Limit Theory can benefit from the philosophy of games like FTL. Quit trying to make a game with procedural content that looks like a bleeding edge game graphically. Minecraft and FTL and Elite and others have shown us that the key to successful procedural game is to design around the strengths of procedural game design. Quit thinking in terms of “standard modern game” with “procedural CONTENT” and instead think in terms of old school procedural GAME. Game not content.

      Procedural “content” thinking is a mental trap that gets you thinking about the problem completely wrong.

  4. Unforgiven says:

    Another ambitious project. I must agree I share the same scepsis,,,can this be done by one person, even if he is very talented and skilled ? The looks so far remind me of Homeworld and Eve Online and that makes me sentimental and making me want to spend money to this project. 26 more days to go before the kickstarter ends…decisions, decisions…I’ll keep an eye on it, anyway.

  5. Adam Solo says:

    Yes, I, like most of you am also a bit skeptical. I mean, Josh really seems driven by making this his personal challenge. He seems very confident on his procedural algorithms to render textures for him without the need to contract artists and additional programmers to create the game assets. Can this really be done, by a single man I mean? You almost feel compelled to join just to see how far he can go.

    I don’t question his ambition and motivation. We need people like Josh to push the boundaries of what can be done. I’m just skeptical to see if all this can be done by a single guy, when I’m sure games like Homeworld took many people to finish. I’m sure he will need more hands in the future. There’s also sound effects and music to deal with, not to mention testing.

    • Werit says:

      I’d jump in if the beta was cheaper and sooner :)

    • DeLastOne says:

      Truly the down side is the alpha and beta made as very high tier… It could be better for the project to give a alpha access to lower tier in order to get the gamers feedback as soon as possible in his project and most certainly a fan base dedicated to the futur of the game.

    • SQW says:

      1 guy, ambitious project with nothing but passion to keep it going. Normally, I’d applaud this but since he’s also asking us for actual money NOW, I’d like to know about his projected timeline, milestones and risk management strategies.

      I’ve seen many talented game devs burn out after a year into their dream project and simply give up for variety of reasons. The sad truth is, most of these garage programmers are not good at managing their resources and it takes more than just programming skill to create a game.

      My good friend’s been modding games since 1995 when we were in high school. He’s immensely talented but I wouldn’t give him a dime to fund his pet project because I know he doesn’t have the attention span (or the grit) to complete a full game.

      Get this game to beta on your own and I’ll buy it to support you. Otherwise, there are plenty of ‘dreamers’ out there.

  6. Bryan H. Bell says:

    Blog Space Game Junkie has an interview with the developer here.

  7. Alex says:

    Infinity has been at development for over 6 years, and look where that game is at. Not even remotely reading for testing. And this guy thinks he can create a game a space simulation in 2 years by himself?

    I will be watching this closely. We will see how much “free time” he will have to work on this project…

    • Hypnotron says:

      If i had to guess, id say Infinity lost focus and wasted years of development on the never ending quest for superior graphics technology at the expense of actually making substantial progress on the core architecture to support a vast, networked, procedural universe.

      I think maybe Limitless will have learned some lessons from the woes of Infinity and actually remain focussed on what one has to be focussed on when trying to make a game like this.

      It’s not that graphics dont matter in a game like this, it’s just that graphics are the least of your worries and should get minimal focus until the real gameplay is there.

      • Hypnotron says:

        Just look at SW:TOR. Pretty. Story driven.

        Boring.
        Tired.
        No player freedom.
        You’re not in a universe, you’re just a rat forever chasing the cheese dangled in front of your nose.

  8. JD says:

    All you fellas are aware that Chris Roberts (yes that Chris Roberts) was so impressed that he wanted to offer this lad a job on his Star Citizen project, but realized that this would get funded faster then the speed of light so he decided to back Josh instead.

    Understand that if you are in Standford University and your pulling off what this lad is showing in three months, some major tech people start turning heads.

    • csebal says:

      One word: newbitis.

      No question he is talented, driven and if he keeps it up, will probably make a very good professional one day.. but face it: he is green behind the ears and what he proposes would be a challenging task even for a team of seasoned professionals.

      So can he do it? I never say never.. for all I know, he might turn out to be the new Cormack. I just would not bet a penny on him succeeding alone.. too many pitfalls on the way for that to happen.

      Now if he is aware of this and partners up with some veterans.. that might change the picture. Then again :) one of the symptoms of newbitis is overconfidence in one’s abilities.

      Time will tell.

      • JD says:

        It’s Carmack, with an ‘a’, your not doing the genius justice ;-)

        On your post: I agree to some extent, I’m just saying this fella is way smarter in regard to math/technology in comparison to a lot of the other kickstarters.

  9. Jeff P says:

    Looks like Elite on steroids. One concern I would have is hardware resources. Any game that generates random planets, ships, etc. freshly each time it starts is going to be very resource intensive or performance will take a huge hit.

    This looks interesting, but I’ll pass on the Kickstarter.

  10. slyostinato says:

    Jeff P, I’m with you – I’ll pass on a Kickstarter contribution. Actually, I pass on ALL Kickstarter software ventures for a multitude of reasons, but mainly because of the limited media formats that many new developers seem to lock themselves into when they shop a final version around for a distributor. In this day and age, there should be a plethora of media formats for consumers; but instead of moving forward, it seems that the industry is going backwards in accessibility. It’s sad, actually.

  11. Ashbery76 says:

    I do not believe in magic.

  12. Alex says:

    No multiplayer…
    I think I’ll sit this one out.

  13. Alien JD says:

    What he is proposing is very possible using procedural generation. Making art assets is hard. It’s hard to optimize textures and models. The computer can do this easily with enough cpu time. It does mean that when you start a new game it will take several minutes to generate everything but this will only happen when you first set up the galaxy–not each time you load a save and play.

    The downside is that procedural graphics are going to look generic most of the time. The planets will all have a similar look. The ships will be built in very similar ways. It will (I think) lack personality and uniqueness you get from a game that is designed by artists and writers vs. a cpu and math algorithm.

    But anyway there is nothing he is doing that isn’t possible for a one man team.

  14. Mark says:

    He certainly seems to have already achieved an enormous amount in the short time that he’s had. It looks very professional too. I am cautiously optimistic about this and fully intend to support him.

    After all if there’s *any* chance that his amazing vision might become reality, its worth it. I would kill to play a space sim like this :)

  15. Smeghead says:

    This is utter BS – my internal fraud warning system alarms are blaring.

    ONE guy – a 20-year old with no experience and not even a degree under his belt – is going to do this ALL ON HIS OWN?!!? Not likely. Any donations will go to his beer fund, I expect.

    As to the comments on what he’s supposedly done so far – all I can see is a video clip that any halfway competent 3D Studio user could make in an afternoon.

    • Alien JD says:

      It’s possible it is a scam but he’s not making any outrageous claims. His not having a degree isn’t an issue. This sort of programming requires skills that are learned in high school if you take the AP math and physics courses. Direct X, open GL, etc. handle a lot of that stuff for you anyway.

      He’s proposing to do the same exact thing the original Elite games did. He’s using more powerful computers so he can generate more complex models and worlds but everything he’s proposed has a) been done before and b) has well documented methods to make it work. He’s not doing/claiming anything that is so groundbreaking that it sounds implausible.

      • Smeghead says:

        Writing a graphics engine is the tip of the iceberg. Game development is far, far more than just knowing how to use – for example – OpenGL.

        I know how to use a hammer and a saw. That doesn’t mean I can build a house. He’s proposing a very, very big house – and all without any knowledge or experience of how all the hammering and sawing goes together.

        Furthermore, I don’t contend that a university degree is required for game development. I have seen many a talented programmer who had no more education than what they got from books and practice. I agree – education isn’t a requirement – but that’s a far cry from claiming it’s irrelevant. It helps.

        This kid has nothing. No experience, no education – nothing that would indicate he can accomplish the formidable goal he claims to want to achieve. That’s why I call on Occam’s Razor – which is more likely – his claim that he’ll try to do this all on his own – or that he has no intentions of doing such and simply walking off with the cash like the Mythic bunch?

        • csebal says:

          game, set, match.

          “Game development is far, far more than just knowing how to use – for example – OpenGL.”
          You could probably engrave this as an epitaph onto the gravestones of a great many indy game development projects.

        • salvo says:

          There is no evidence of fraud here. The project may fail as many other indie projects did and probably some kickstarters will, but failure per se doesn’t turn them into frauds, which by definition involves an intentional deception to the damage of others. Josh puts his background clearly for everyone to see, there is absolutely no evidence that he has deceived anyone as was in the mythic case. I suppose it’s your “internal fraud warning system” which may need some adhustments.

        • Smeghead says:

          Salvo, would you be happier if I replaced “fraud” with “doomed to failure due to unrealistic goals that are beyond the ability of a single 20 year old, inexperienced wanna-be programmer”?

        • Alien JD says:

          Moving Occam’s goal post are we? You claimed what he was doing wasn’t possible for a single guy. I’m saying it is. He can make a game on his own using procedural generation to generate the content. It is technically possible. It’s been done before. Procedural generation is not making a game engine or Open GL. They are different things. The engine handles physics, rendering, input, etc. It’s not concerned with content. Procedural generation is a way to create game content with the computer rather than with artists and level editors.

          It might be a dull game. It might not be much fun. The universe might look very static without much to explore. But that’s very different from saying that he’s a lying con artist.

          BTW, you misunderstand Occam’ Razor.

  16. Ridon says:

    I’m looking forward to this game.. looks very nice…
    i only hope that he’ll implement some really plausible AI for the “random procedural empires” i hope to fly for and against of course… i would hate to fight against a lot of random “spawns” just because the engine has to provide some shooting stuff for me…

    • Mark says:

      Yes I totally agree, good AI is the hardest part of any game, but I think that in a Procedural world of this magnitude, it will be absolutely critical to making or breaking the entire game.

      Hopefully Josh is just as skilled at AI programming as he obviously is at 3d design and modelling.

      • Smeghead says:

        According to Josh, AI programming is the easiest part of the game. He cites pathfinding in a space environment as being easy – so all AI is easy.

        I think that statement speaks for itself.

        • Hypnotron says:

          lol.

          ok. well i think the reality is most games of all genres do a disservice to AI. Good AI takes more than 1.0 to get right unless the developers have already created AI for similar style games before.

          But you’re right. That sounds like a naive point of view on Josh’s part.

        • Mark says:

          Lol! well as long as he’s able to deliver, he can think its as easy as he wants!

          If the caliber of his AI is of similar high quality to the content he has already produced, I will be more than happy, I guess time will tell.

        • Smeghead says:

          Mark, how long have people been asking for a remake of Elite? How long has Braben been rubbing his chin over it? And you think some punk kid with no experience – much less in a project of this scope – can do it in a year and change…

          Wanna buy a bridge? I’ve got one for sale. Or if you don’t like that, I’ll go build one if you’ll just cough up $50 each.

        • Mark says:

          Err, I got news mate, the stuff he as already done in a couple of months looks BETTER than Elite Dangerous. A lot better. So yeah I think he can do it.

          You act like all the kid has are baseless claims, but a lot of game components are already working, I have seen them and they are NOT trivial! Granted AI will be the big hurdle, I’m with you on that, but if the content he has already displayed is any guide, I am quietly confident that he will be able to pull it off.

          And if Braben spent less time rubbing his chin and more time coding he might have had more to show for it than 15 years of nothing.

        • Josh Parnell says:

          Hi Smeghead…I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that we’re being graced with the presence of the one and only Kayoz from the Matrix forums?

          I would greatly appreciate it if you would not do me the disservice of fabricating quotes out of nowhere. As I’m sure you’re aware, I did not call AI the “easiest part of the game.” Next, I did not say that pathfinding being easy implies all AI is easy. I just noted that, since such low-level details as pathfinding and obstacle avoidance are trivial in a space game, it frees up more time to concentrate on high-level AI.

          Please, I understand your skepticism, but misinformation is uncalled for.

          Furthermore, I explained to you several solutions to AI problems that you deemed “challenging,” and have yet to hear back from you with respect to a real challenge. I would love for you to give me an example of a challenging AI problem that I will need to overcome, as I’d be more than happy to explain my solution to you.

        • Smeghead says:

          AI is one of many areas. The game you’re proposing to make is hideously complex – and yet you insist that you can do it, and in a short time frame – on your own. You have no experience, not even an advanced education to draw upon, and insist that drawing upon experienced people who are specialists in their fields would somehow interfere in the speed of the game development.

          Any seasoned programmer would tell you that you might do well to reconsider your approach.

          Maybe you’ll succeed. But from what I’ve seen, the likelihood is very low. You will do a disservice to all Kickstarter projects when you fail and bring their projects into disrepute.

        • Adam Solo says:

          @Smeghead

          No need for the foul/strong language to try to prove your points please: “punk kid”, “when you fail”, “this is utter BS”, “internal fraud warning system”, “(or) he has no intentions of doing such and simply walking off with the cash”.

          I think we are all aware of the KS wonders, perils, benefits and pitfalls. The system isn’t perfect. So, for the meantime, that there isn’t more monitoring and control of KS projects, let the backers be the judges here. They are the people that should be most worried about a project creator’s credentials. Each one will then act as they think it’s best if the creator cannot deliver (e.g. ask for a refund, not ask for a refund, etc).

          I think it’s fairly obvious by now that when you back a crowd funding project you are assuming the risks and challenges of the system. For people who aren’t aware there’s this sort of disclaimer in every kickstarter project now (at the bottom) named “RISKS AND CHALLENGES”. I suggest for everyone to read that section carefully, as for the “Learn about accountability on Kickstarter” link.

        • Josh Parnell says:

          “AI is one of many areas. The game you’re proposing to make is hideously complex – and yet you insist that you can do it, and in a short time frame – on your own. You have no experience, not even an advanced education to draw upon, and insist that drawing upon experienced people who are specialists in their fields would somehow interfere in the speed of the game development.”

          And yet, at every turn, you completely fail to show this so-called complexity. Why? Because, being blissfully unaware of implementation details, you are not at all able to put your finger on it. You don’t know how collision avoidance is implemented, do you? You don’t know how high-level AI modeled as an MDP works, do you? You don’t understand heuristic backchaining for planners, do you? And that’s why you see complexity. Because you don’t understand *any* of the solutions to AI. You just have a general sense that this whole this is far too complex to be tackled. Go ahead, come down from your mighty cloud of vagaries and abstraction, and try to battle with me on the plain of concrete details. You simply can’t and won’t do so, because YOU are the one that does not have experience, and YOU are the one that does not understand what is involved in this project, which is why YOU have failed to raise a single valid complexity yet, other than the classic “AI is hard.”

          Go ahead. Prove that you have some idea what you’re talking about, or keep wandering around in the clouds as you’ve done for this entire argument. Call me precious and retreat to sarcasm. Taunt me with quotes and pithy nothings. But until you can justify the enormous arrogance that you’ve graced us all with by saying something real, something with meaning, you will continue to be no more than a rude skeptic with no experience and certainly no right to mount attacks on those that are more than willing to discuss details.

      • csebal says:

        The problem here, Adam, is that the majority of the people out there come nowhere near the experience and qualification to even come close to judging a project or its viability.

        I can just shake my head when I see people talk about how confident they are of this project because “based on the video, it is already well on its way”.

        They just have no idea and neither should they. There is a reason why we get paid for what we do.. it is a profession just like so many others and we should not expect average the gamer to understand the complexity of software development. It is exactly the reason why those who can see the problem with all these 50k bucks one man show projects have to speak up and at least TRY to curb the unfounded enthusiasm that is surrounding these games.

        I could only compare this to a gold rush. We are in the phase where everyone is enthusiastic and excited.. looking forward to all the gold we are going to make (or get).. A few of the miners might even get lucky and hit the mother-lode figuratively speaking, but the rest will end up with mediocre or worse products and people will be shocked and upset, when the sad reality of things is that that is a much more likely scenario than every one of these projects succeeding.

        Even then I try to curb my “pessimistic realism” as I can surely sympathize with what he wants to do. Hell, I would love to play the game he proposes.. I just do not think that he will get there on his current path.

        • Mark says:

          The video may not show that its “well on the way” but its pretty damn impressive considering that its only 3 months work.

          He has a working ship/station editor too.

          Imagine what he could do in a year or two? The mind boggles :)

        • Adam Solo says:

          “The problem here, Adam, is that the majority of the people out there come nowhere near the experience and qualification to even come close to judging a project or its viability.”
          I was reading this sentence and thinking “Well, that’s why there are publishers” :)

          But that’s also why there is crowd funding in the first place, isn’t it? To widen the offer, to close the gap between the devs and consumers. Not to replace the way you do business, but to create new opportunities. Again, there are perils and pitfalls, but, there’s also the reverse. Without KS, you most probably wouldn’t have FTL, or StarDrive next year.

          Sometimes it’s not only about the money, it’s about the publicity as well. Dan from StarDrive proved that you can make it with a lot of passion, work and luck. He started from not knowing how to do games programming (although he knew how to program) to a stage where he’s just launching his 4X game, with the help of a publisher he signed along the way (see, even Publishers may benefit from this). And, clearly, it wasn’t about the ~15K Dan made on KS.

          But you’ll tell me that there will be 3 or 5 failures for each Dan on crowd funding? Perhaps. But that’s the risk involved in the game. And all people MUST be aware of that. Risk. That’s Kickstarter baby! :). And this applies to both the creators and backers in my view.

          Your gold rush comparison is sound. It’s a bit like that I agree. There will be shiny projects and mediocre projects in the end (perhaps more of the latter), as in everything in life.

          I know that I may have digressed and generalized a bit. On Josh’s case at hand I would say that he better make what he promised, or he will face a mob of angry backers knocking on his door ;) And, of course he can’t make it alone. At some stage he will need to subcontract music, testing, etc.

          Look at this sentence from the kickstarter page:
          “It’s Totally Procedural.
          Well, almost…the music and sound effects will be hand-made.”. See?

        • csebal says:

          @Mark:

          Imagination has nothing to do with it, cold hard work will determine how far he goes in that year. That, and past experience, of which he has .. well.. not too much to draw on.

          Hint: there is a good reason why they pay experienced people more than they do with newbies and not because salaries are somehow derived from the age of the person in question.

          As for how much work he actually has done in those 3 months I cannot judge, as I have not seen his code.

          Also, he has the prototype of a ship/station editor not, the real thing itself. Hell, even he calls it a prototype if I remember correctly. The difference is that you usually make a prototype for something like this in a few hours / days. Then spend weeks to make the real thing. So the “I just throw this together in a few days, imagine how much I can do when I get the time for it” arguments are just moot. It is what we do every day with new projects. Create prototypes to show to clients/investors, create complete systems based on those prototypes.

          Some people just keep fudging on the details here, when in software development details are all that matters.

          @Adam:
          Yes, crowd funded projects rock as they give games in niche genres a chance to get the monetary support they deserve. Here is the thing though, and we have already had a discussion about this, so I’m not going to recite all those arguments again, publishers have staff to evaluate proposed projects based on more than just the criteria of “woo, shiny” (even if it sometimes feels just like that). For crowd funded projects, you are supposed to do that evaluation yourself, but as I wrote above.. you cannot expect Joe Average to look at a project proposal and be able to tell whether it will succeed or fail, so most people just assume, that since it is proposed it must be okay to pledge for it. Hence why I called it unfounded optimism.

          As for the example of StarDrive. You yourself said, that he had experience, just not with games. While some of the technologies we use might differ, the methodology of software development and the potential problems and pitfalls are pretty much the same, so if you take a team of developers writing corporate management software and tell them to make a kickass game, it might take longer (due to them having to learn new techs), but given the proper ideas (and a skilled team), they will succeed.

          The same can not be said about a team of newbies.

        • Mark says:

          Actually my understanding is that he intends to hand write the music himself. check out this site for some samples.

          http://joshparnell.com/blog/music-samples/

          It didn’t blow me away or anything but I think its quite acceptable for atmospheric music in a space sim.

          Also keep in mind that this stuff is all 100% procedurally generated and THREE years old!! I’ll bet that if he hand writes the music it will be a vast improvement.

          Call me gullible but I really think he can do it.

        • Adam Solo says:

          @csebal
          I don’t know the details, but, are you saying that Josh has no experience in programming and no software development skills whatsoever? You don’t need to have a degree to have those skills as you will agree.

        • Mark says:

          @ csebal

          “Imagination has nothing to do with it”

          Actually without imagination, there would be no game or even a concept, but I do concede that hard work is important too. Not that I or anyone else ever denied it.

          “As for how much work he actually has done in those 3 months I cannot judge, as I have not seen his code.”

          Lol!! Strangely enough, neither have I, only the results of his code in the form of his video’s, editor and music, and I still say its pretty damn impressive for such a short development.

          “Also, he has the prototype of a ship/station editor not, the real thing itself.”

          But dude it works and works well!! can a coat of paint and a bit of polish really be such a hurdle?? THAT’s something I find difficult to accept.

        • Josh Parnell says:

          “Imagination has nothing to do with it, cold hard work will determine how far he goes in that year. That, and past experience, of which he has .. well.. not too much to draw on.”

          I completely agree. Cold, hard work is what I’m best at. As for past experience, I have a wealth of knowledge concerning procedural algorithms. I’ve been doing “cold hard work” with them for many years. For proof, I’ll refer you to (http://anewmusic.com).

          “Also, he has the prototype of a ship/station editor not, the real thing itself. Hell, even he calls it a prototype if I remember correctly. The difference is that you usually make a prototype for something like this in a few hours / days. Then spend weeks to make the real thing. So the “I just throw this together in a few days, imagine how much I can do when I get the time for it” arguments are just moot. It is what we do every day with new projects. Create prototypes to show to clients/investors, create complete systems based on those prototypes.”

          The prototype is implemented to demonstrate the core functionality, which means the complexities are already solved. In the case of the ship editor, it demonstrates features like the real-time raycast that allows user to select parts of the ship to glue other parts onto, the undo, the generation and scaling of parts, etc. It will definitely not take weeks to make the real thing. But I’m guessing this statement is because you haven’t taken a look at the video, if not, you might find it interesting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzHrpptj5vQ). If you’re a developer, hopefully you can see that there’s no real complexity left to tackle in that system, just import/export, texture selection, and increasing the slickness of the interface!

          “Some people just keep fudging on the details here, when in software development details are all that matters.”

          Yes, I completely agree. I keep asking for details. I just want someone to give me the “details” of why this whole thing is so complex. Given that I spend all day everyday coding, I would be more than happy to discuss details!!!

          “The same can not be said about a team of newbies.”

          …please just do some research on me. For example, (https://graphics.stanford.edu/wikis/cs348b-12/parnell/Final_Project). And if you feel that GPU-based path tracing with markov chain monte carlo acceleration, as well as lexing, parsing, and executing a home-brewed procedural modeling language are the domains of newbies, then I stand corrected, and everyone may proceed with calling me a newbie.

          Again, I am completely open to and understanding of skepticism! But I would appreciate it if skeptics would watch the videos, have a look at my dev blog, have a look at my resume, and take some time to do a little research before assuming that I’m just another “punk kid” with big dreams and no experience!!

        • csebal says:

          @Mark:
          “Actually without imagination, there would be no game or even a concept”
          Congratulations at grasping the fundamentals of what I wrote. You asked me to imagine how far he will go in a year and that is what I answered to when I said what I said. Your answer to that is totally misguided, twists my words and tries to give them meaning that were never said or implied.

          I have no intention in indulging you in this sort of parlay.

          @Josh:
          I have not addressed you in any way here. I did on the matrix forums, but even then it was just an opinion. Take it or leave it. From your replies to some other people voicing similar concerns it is pretty clear to me, that you are quite confident in your right, and there is hardly anything I could do to convince you otherwise.

          You keep asking people to give you examples on how your proposal is difficult. I’ve already made it clear what the problem with architecture design is, that you do not see the complexity of systems until you dive deep into them to actually design the fine details of how it will work.

          I am not going to design your game just to prove you wrong, but nonetheless I can guarantee that there will be problems you can probably not think of right now, because there always are.

          As for your little ego trip there. Never questioned your skills, as I simply do not know you to have any basis for that. Hell.. I even called you talented at least once, so there you go, I gave all the credit you deserve. As for you being a newbie. How much professional experience do you have? Less than 2-3 years? Then my friend you are a newbie. Work some, and it might change, hopefully along with your attitude.

        • Mark says:

          @Kayoz sorry silly me, Csebal

          Thanks! I pride myself on working out the fundamentals.

          Like for instance I bet you had to work really hard to avoid signing off with another Carl Sagan quote right? ;)

        • Josh Parnell says:

          “I have not addressed you in any way here. I did on the matrix forums, but even then it was just an opinion. Take it or leave it. From your replies to some other people voicing similar concerns it is pretty clear to me, that you are quite confident in your right, and there is hardly anything I could do to convince you otherwise.”

          Yes, I am taking it, and also trying to get involved in it, hence the reply. I think it’s fair to reply to something in which I am so heavily examined! No, it’s not true that you’re powerless to convince me. I am completely open to advice and wisdom from anyone who can provide it with authority!

          “You keep asking people to give you examples on how your proposal is difficult. I’ve already made it clear what the problem with architecture design is, that you do not see the complexity of systems until you dive deep into them to actually design the fine details of how it will work.”

          Naturally, I agree with you! I enjoyed and agreed with the majority of your post on system complexity. But what I keep trying to say is, I *did* dive into the details, and am continuing to do so, and am not finding the details as complex as people make them out to be. Does it mean there will be no roadblocks? I’m sure that’s not the case, and I’m ready and willing to work through the hard problems. I was just looking for some detail, because people like Smeg would argue from a standpoint of no detail, which puzzles me when I am sitting in the detail and failing to see the complexity.

          “I am not going to design your game just to prove you wrong, but nonetheless I can guarantee that there will be problems you can probably not think of right now, because there always are.”

          Oh I’m sure of it! But solving such problems is part of the fun.

          “As for your little ego trip there. Never questioned your skills, as I simply do not know you to have any basis for that. Hell.. I even called you talented at least once, so there you go, I gave all the credit you deserve. As for you being a newbie. How much professional experience do you have? Less than 2-3 years? Then my friend you are a newbie. Work some, and it might change, hopefully along with your attitude.”

          I really don’t think that’s fair to call it an ego trip. It’s really a pretty awful set-up: call someone out on their experience, then call someone egotistical when they try to show that experience. I guess there’s no way to win.

          That’s fair, if you’ve evaluated it and think I’m a newbie, then there’s naught that I can do about it. My attitude that complex systems can be simplified and unified in order to make them tractable is not likely to change. I prefer to think of problems as inviting solution rather than abandonment.

          Again, I look forward to returning to you in a year.

        • csebal says:

          Okay.. so in essence you are open to advice, but limit it to advice coming from people that meet your criteria of authority.

          Fair enough. No need to listen to everyone on the internet. I just hope, that you GET some advice from experienced professionals that you actually consider to have authority in these matters.

          The problem is that you and me look for a different kind of experience. You are talking about technological experience and I’m talking about professional experience. Most importantly the experience of working through complete and complex projects on your own.

          I doubt you had any of that (nothing I can see in you resume even comes close) Hell, by all professional measurements, you are just a junior grade developer. Maybe a very skilled one for that, but still.

          So no.. sorry Josh, but by all accounts, you are a newbie as far as the software industry goes.

          This is not a criticism of your skills or an attempt to shed negative light on you, merely a statement of fact.

        • Josh Parnell says:

          “Okay.. so in essence you are open to advice, but limit it to advice coming from people that meet your criteria of authority.

          Fair enough. No need to listen to everyone on the internet. I just hope, that you GET some advice from experienced professionals that you actually consider to have authority in these matters.”

          A fair suggestion no doubt. I will certainly do so in times of need, as, thankfully, there’s no shortage of CS experts on this campus!

          “The problem is that you and me look for a different kind of experience. You are talking about technological experience and I’m talking about professional experience. Most importantly the experience of working through complete and complex projects on your own.

          I doubt you had any of that (nothing I can see in you resume even comes close) Hell, by all professional measurements, you are just a junior grade developer. Maybe a very skilled one for that, but still.

          So no.. sorry Josh, but by all accounts, you are a newbie as far as the software industry goes.

          This is not a criticism of your skills or an attempt to shed negative light on you, merely a statement of fact.”

          Well, again, as long as you have done the research, I have no problem with the assessment. If I fall into your criteria for a newbie, there’s nothing that I can about that except to make LT!

          At any rate, I appreciate your willingness to level with me on a non-hostile ground. As I keep saying, I am completely understanding of informed skepticism, and the best argument anyone can offer is proof rather than words, so unfortunately I won’t be able to give you the proof for another year or so. But I will certainly revisit this discussion at that time!

  17. JD says:

    Heretics you shall witness the light of the Emperor:

    Interview: Limit Theory Creator Josh Parnell
    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2012/11/30/interview-limit-theory-creator-josh-parnell/

    – Knowledge is power, guard it well.

    • Smeghead says:

      The comedy value of his “interview” makes this worth reading.

      Not ONE question on his programming experience (or the complete lack thereof). Not ONE question on game balance and testing, and how he intends to do it all on his own. Not one question on combat AI,

      That’s not an interview. That’s a cup of marketing jizz.

  18. salvo says:

    the game btw Josh’s personality is controversly discussed on the matrix forum as well

    http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3221975

    I’ve got the impression that some people , for whatever reaon, simply don’t like what they retain for Josh’s personality, their criticism is mostly based on a extremely one-sided negative image of his person (too young, no experience, inflated ego and immense hubris)

    • JD says:

      That thread is appalling. The developer of Distant Worlds also did not have any previous titles, did not stop him from making a game. The developer of StarDrive also did not have any previous titles, yet I have a build running on my pc.

      Expierence proves nothing, only ones competence to bring their intelligence into practice does.

      There, I just rebutted that whole crapthread.

      • Mark says:

        Well don’t feel too pleased with yourself. Since Smeghead/Kayos’s ONLY argument seems to boil down to “It’s too hard, you’ll never do it”, rebutting such an argument is something that anyone with a brain could do.

  19. JD says:

    Josh I found your interview on RPS to be enlighting and informative. Thats whay I posted the link. Don’t let nay sayers put you down, always have faith in yourself. When I saw your pitch on KS I thought ‘wow this is cool. no modeling everything procedural, even the ships, this dude is smart’ :-)

  20. Mark says:

    Josh has recently released tech demo #3 available at

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4FPq9nfcps

    It details his recent work on the tactical command interface. I’m very impressed with how rapid his progress appears to be and how well LT’s basic (and vital) functions – like collision avoidance – are working.

    Over at the Matrix forums he managed to totally silence some pretty skeptical and aggressive critics by easily answering all their questions and directing them to this video. The thread is now silent and the trolls appear to have moved on to easier pickings.

    Since so many of LT’s fundamental features already seem to be in place, it looks like he’s going to have lots of time to concentrate on refining pure game-play. This is starting to look quite promising.

  21. Smeghead says:

    Just for sh*ts and giggles, let’s put this into context.

    1. Release date is “early 2014” – my reading is Q1. 3 months left.
    2. so far, all he seems to have done is a basic engine for rudimentary graphics. But that’s still a mess, as he’s altering the architecture while trying to maintain his code. Good luck!
    3. Any game worth it’s salt will have a few months of playtesting in alpha and beta stages. Unless he’s hidden it away, there’s no sign that he’s even considering releasing an alpha version.

    Pretty much where I expected his progress to be. Anyone who still has high hopes for this project needs a strong cup of “reality”. Maybe it’ll come. But not this decade.

    • Delastone says:

      No real surprise here…

    • Michael Sandler says:

      1: Release was delayed to mid-late 2014 for a while now (third quarter I believe)
      2: BASIC ENGINE?! Jesus christ man! Have you seen that thing? (To be fair, some time has passed since then, but I’m looking at update 12, which is where he was when you posted), and it looks pretty damn good. And if you’ve been watching the dev logs, you’d know that really, the engine is really anything but a mess. Either way, take a look at the current updates. They’re pretty damn incredible. And he mentioned that the beta will be coming very soon now.
      3. See above.

      Either way, the way it’s looking right now, worst case scenario would be a 2015 release. Not next decade; 2015. But honestly, I still think that it will be done by the delayed release date. In the worst case, I can wait. I can definitely see him finishing it in a few months.

      • Smeghead says:

        You need to read a bit more. Check the changes he had to make due to asteroid fields. He has some major design flaws which aren’t surprising coming from a self taught inexperienced so-called programmer.

        If you don’t know anything about coding or OpenGL, you don’t know what to look for. I suggest that you ask someone you know who is knowledgeable to take a look at it.

        We’ll see what happens. My expectations are rather low so far, and he has yet to exceed them.

        • Michael Sandler says:

          Read what, specifically? I read the dev logs on a daily basis, and from what I gathered, his zone-based solution was a fairly good one, that really was a pretty decent solution. However, I would be more than willing to discuss design flaws with you, if you name any specific ones. The only one I see is that he felt that it was about time to finally implement a proper scenegraph hierarchy.If you do have any specific ones, please name them.
          Besides that, you didn’t actually contradict anything I said; you just kind of avoided it.
          Finally, there are at least two mistakes in your statement: self taught and inexperienced. He is inexperienced in the creation of games, however, that can be learned. He is definitely not inexperienced in software design. Have you seen this?
          http://www-graphics.stanford.edu/courses/cs348b-competition/cs348b-12/
          And, again, not self taught. Guess what his major is :P. Either way, I’m excited for the game, and since I (unfortunately) missed the kickstarter, I will definitely be looking forward to it whenever it comes out.

          Edit: I completely forgot to mention my experience in coding/gl. I am fairly proficient in JAVA/Python, and recently started learning c++. OpenGL wise, I’ve fooled around with it some, but not enough to really even claim to have any real knowledge about it. I’ve also done a bit of game design. However, you don’t necessarily need a coding background to see that, for instance, Josh’s way of representing the ships is kind of genius. (Not the models, those are still placeholder, but the math behind it) I highly suggest you read the earlier dev logs. Good day!

  22. Dustin says:

    When is the date set for release? where will it be available? what are the system requirements?????

    • csebal says:

      Official was early 2014.. That’s clearly not going to happen, not that it was ever going to happen. Now it is mid-2014, but that’s unlikely in my opinion as well.

      Would I need to put a date stamp on the game, judging from the April DEV video, I would say early 2015 for a good beta.

  23. Smeghead says:

    M Sandler – Sorting fact from fiction:
    Mr Sandler implies that Josh’s major is Comp Sci. Well, that conflicts of the facts on record – specifically:
    http://www.businessreport.com/7232013/print-issue/Crowd_pleasers
    As of July 22, 2013 – no longer a full time student. So his “major” is irrelevant. He has none. The statement “guess what his major is” – is facetious. He’s not a student.

    Second, the technical issues with his CORE DESIGN have been the focus of quite a few discussions on multiple forums. He’s quite adept at getting his fan-boys to drown out those who actually DO know what they’re talking about – but I’ve yet to see a professional game developer or academic working in the field express anything other than extreme doubt as to his goals and his ability to achieve them. I suggest you Google them and make up your own mind. You don’t seem to understand enough of the issues to make an educated judgment call yourself.

    I live in an evidence based world. So, where’s the evidence of a GAME coming together? All the evidence he’s shown so far is his messing with graphics – shaders, OpenGL and such. I really don’t see any evidence of a “game” here. Well done with the graphics. But that’s only scratching the surface of making a game. It’s a piece. And from my limited experience – one of the smaller pieces. He has a lot of pieces to go and the real art is in bringing them all together in an efficient program that does everything in 1/30th of a second slices.

    Believe what you will. But the FACT is that he’s already missed his promised deadline – and has a great deal left to do.

    Note:
    Procedural generation is nothing new. Elite did it back in 1984. Josh’s work is hardly “genius” – any more than it is genius when I fire up Excel.

    • csebal says:

      Oh come on.

      Fist of all, who cares. It has been said when the project was launching that his timing plans are unfeasible. That the initial predictions are turning out to be true is a lot less surprising if the opposite would be the case.

      On the other hand, lets not discredit the guy: He is clearly a gifted fella. Said so at the beginning and I will say so again. Maybe 1 in a 10000 like him. He will make a great software developer one day, but he still has lot to learn.

      Until then, I just hope those who paid for this game are very patient: they can consider themselves lucky to see a meaningful beta by early 2015 and a release is still quite far from that point.

      • Smeghead says:

        Is there something you were trying to add here? If so, you’ve missed your mark.

        In April, you said that the RELEASE DATE had slipped to mid-2014. Now it’s downgraded to BETA, and early 2015. Which would put his release – by your admittedly hopeful estimate – to late 2015 or early 2016.

        Slip. Slip. Slip. And yet you still keep believing.

        As for your “1 in 10000” – I call BS on that. If he were that special as a comp sci student, he’d be the darling of the whole freaking state. He’s clearly not. If he were as good as you say he is – he’d have met HIS OWN deadline, no? Or at least have a BETA out, no? He’s 1 in 2. Absolutely average. As special as cheese on a burger.

        • csebal says:

          I am sick and tired of *insert plural degradatory term here* who resurrect threads, blindly bash others and spew lies around without taking the time to at least read what is written in the thread they posted to.

          There.. hope it is more civilized this way.

        • Adam Solo says:

          Ok guys, that’s enough. Let’s keep the insults outside of the discussion.

  24. Mark says:

    A year ago I was very interested in this project, but my interest has turned into apathy ever since I heard that he was going to use bloody STARLANES and wouldn’t consider anything else.

    Honestly, why some devs feel the overwhelming need to use this lazy, immersion destroying short-cut is beyond me. Nothing kills the feel of a space game like roads-in-space. I think I’ll be passing on Limit Theory. Next!


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