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Canceled Kickstarter game Limit Theory opens its source code

It's not every day that a game developer releases the source code for their game, particularly if the game was an unfulfilled Kickstarter project.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

July 28, 2022

2 Min Read
Gameplay footage from the cancelled Kickstarter game Limit Theory.

Developer Josh Parnell released the source code to his cancelled space sim Limit Theory on Thursday. The four open-source repositories serve as a timeline of three different points in the now defunct Kickstarter game's development history. 

Releasing a game's source code isn't common, particularly as it relates to Kickstarter games that didn't see the light of day. In addition to allowing game developers to peek under the hood of a game, source code can be used to preserve game history. To much of the industry, a game's source code is considered something to be stashed away, but others have argued its usefulness as an educational resource.

Limit Theory debuted on Kickstarter in 2012 and was billed as a procedurally generated space sim where players could go anywhere in the galaxy and do as they pleased, with the promise of an infinite open world to explore, similar to what No Man's Sky would eventually become. "No story, no rules," promised the game's website. "You'll never finish exploring, learning, or conquering."

The game ultimately secured $187,000 in funding on Kickstarter, eclipsing Parnell's original $50,000 goal. He would later cancel the project in 2018, citing a lack of funds and a will to continue working on the game as reason to cease development. 

On the blog for Limit's Kickstarter, Parnell went on to explain that at several points in Limit Theory's development, the playabie state of the source code was inconsistent, and that would remain true with this final release. "I've fixed what I can in a reasonable amount of time," he wrote, "but the most you'll be able to get, gameplay-wise, out of the source code repos is some flying around and aimless shooting in space, perhaps while enjoying some procedural scenery."

With Limit's source code now released, Parnell is glad to finally close this chapter of his life. "It's taken me far too long to face the finality. Releasing the code [...] would finally be the end. But it's time. I imagine you have all moved on, and it's time for me to do so as well."

Parnell concluded his blog by thanking those who funded the Kickstarter, and the players who allowed him to pursue his dream of game development. "While it didn't turn out as I had hoped, I'll never regret the passion that invested into trying to create a universe. Sincerely, I wish you all the best."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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