Space Tease: New Limit Theory Footage

Oh wow. I can’t not get excited whenever I poke my head into Limit Theory’s devblogs. Developer Josh Parnell is so casual and relaxed about building a space sandbox that sits alongside Elite, Eve, Star Citizen, and X Rebirth. He really should be more full of himself. In the first video below, when he’s showing off a procedurally generated planet surface, he points out that until a few hours before he hadn’t ever attempted to code water. He was flying over a lake. I nearly wept procedural tears. My joy was short-lived when he pointed out that players probably wouldn’t be able to fly on planet surfaces, which makes the level of detail both laudable and ridiculous.

And that’s not even the most exciting bit. What’s really, genuinely, off-the-scale exciting is the work he’s putting into the history of the universe. The engine will build an “abstract model” of the world as well as building an abstract model of the interactions. So it can simulate what’s going on in a very large region of space to give you a huge, living background to play in. That’s exciting for all kinds of reasons, and very apt for an Elite-style adventure game. And this will (hopefully) allow the game to simulate the history of the universe you’re playing in before you arrive. Like Dwarf Fortress, it’ll have a backstory in place that’s been generated according to the game’s rules.


  1. Skeletor68 says:

    When all of the space games I have backed over the last while come out it will be amazing. Beautiful looking game.

  2. purdz says:

    I can just see myself flying around doing nothing for hours on this. Beautiful.

  3. Rossi says:

    Sooo you can’t actually land on the planet?

    • Craig Pearson says:

      No, but if you’re the developer you can fly around it and make me very sad.

    • BTAxis says:

      He mentioned in update #7 that you CAN land on the planets, but not fly around on them. Instead you can visit certain places of interest on the planet, and enjoy the view from those points.

    • TaylanK says:

      So let me see if I got this right… you can’t do the one thing that got me excited about this game in the first place… that whole seamless atmospheric entry thing that’s novel and cool… it’s gonna be replaced with insta-teleport to spaceport like in a gazillion other games…

      *staring eyes*

      • baby snot says:

        AFAIK Limit Theory has never shown anything like atmospheric entry. I think you have another game in mind.

        • Beernut says:

          Probably this one:

        • vahnn says:

          Evochron: Mercenary does this. I can’t think of any other game that does.

          • Meister of Articulate Statelments says:

            Nay, think of Rodina! link to
            There are probably better videos of it (work in progress) out there. Looking forward to that one too!

          • LimEJET says:

            Frontier: Elite 2, Pioneer, Infinity -The Quest for Earth, to name a few.

        • Muzman says:

          Star Forge was one that frequently showed ludicrous features. They were always going to have atmospheric descent. (don’t know if they were planning interplanetary travel though, off hand)

        • SuicideKing says:


      • ryryryan says:

        Josh has always said that seamless entry into an atmosphere is not going to happen. Not sure why you got your hopes up.

        Also, it doesn’t have much to do with gameplay at all, the game will still be sound without it.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      We bugged Josh about the “flying around the planet” thing on the Limit Theory forum. ;)

      1. The planetary flight in the video was a little bit of a trick to show off the procedural terrain generation. Only that patch of terrain had been generated; there wasn’t a whole planet just waiting to be explored.

      2. It will be possible to “land” on planets… sort of. There’ll be several locations on the surface at which you can dock (presumably for trade and diplomacy), and there’ll be terrain generated around those locations that you can see. But you won’t be able to “fly” continuously between those locations.

      3. As far as I know, atmospheric flight-to-landing was never an intended feature. No question it would be cool, but cool takes time to code that might be spent on features more directly related to the core Limit Theory gameplay.

      For example, the world-abstraction will allow goal-seeking at both the history-generation and individual AI levels. Josh has already used it to test two pilots going up against each other: one decided (correctly) that he was stronger and went on the attack, and the other decided (correctly) he was too weak and bugged out. Simple, but an important first confirmation that the abstraction-of-the-universe idea can really work.

      Yeah, I’m looking forward to this one….

  4. Belsameth says:

    Ooh! So you can read up on a detailed history of everything the piece of metal your gun was made if has been through? From the moment before recorded time, preferably? :D

  5. dE says:

    I’m positively optimistic for all these spacegames. I might not enjoy all of them personally, but many others will. And maybe, just maybe there will be one I can love. It’s at least promising that they’re now trying things like atmospheric transition again or having detailled interiors for spaceports and similar things. That’s perhaps the thing I liked most about Freelancer, having those diverse ports and planets to land on.

    • Professor Paul1290 says:

      I’m hoping space sim fans won’t be as single-minded this time around and actually support enough of them to have a longer semi-mainstream presence.

      Even through the “good old days” of space sims (which I don’t think were all that good) there seemed to be this unsaid rule that you can’t have more than one or two space sim games or series do well at the same time. Space sim fans seemed to have a very narrow view of what the genre can be.
      This is not really unique to space sims but space sims are just small enough for it to hurt.

      Imagine if First Person Shooters were such that the existence of Call of Duty and Battlefield effectively prevented Team Fortress 2, ARMA, or Serious Sam from ever being financially successful. That probably sounds pretty stupid and sad, but that’s not far off from how Space Sims have worked even through the “good old days”.
      The genre’s history is filled with “classics” that were well liked and got their awards, but never sold well enough because everyone was buying one game.

      The rabid fanboy-ism for Star Citizen tells me nothing has changed. Of course, maybe I’m just being too bitter.

      • derbefrier says:

        Star Citizen is probably the most ambitious of this new wave of Space sims so naturally its easier to get more excited for than say a rehash of the same space sims we’ve seen on and off for decades which seem to be what most of the other ones are(before you guys grab the pitchforks this is a very uneducated view point but as 1 of many many people who don’t obsess over every little detail of these games and only know what I see on sites like RPS and PC gamer Star Citizen seems to be the stand out).

        Maybe this will change as more info is released on these other games but honestly unless they can offer a similar experience to what star citizen is offering I don’t see any reason to even remember the names of these other space sim games. Its got nothing to do with rabid fanboyism. It has more to do with what kind of games are being made and as someone who wants multiplayer and co-op to be a big part of my space experience Star Citizen is the obvious choice. After all a sandbox is much better enjoyed with friends.

        • KirbyEvan says:

          Yeah, I really love sandboxes where you can spend real money to get rich ingame.

          It’s always good for everyone to have an equal playing level, imagine what it would be like if Richard couldn’t spend hundreds of dollars to get a capitol ship in a day!

          It’s the little things like this that make me want to get Star Citizen.

        • rgb_astronaut says:

          What Star Citizen is offering? To me it seems like a star figher sim rather than open world sim. This is why they actually start with Squadron 42 where you play as a navy pilot role. I suspect it’ll turn out like Wing Commander. And because it’s running on Cry Engine I’m sure the whole space will be very limited and there won’t much to explore.

          Now, compare that to this game or Elite:Dangerous.

      • spleendamage says:

        So, if I supported Limit Theory and Star Citizen am I doing it wrong?

        • shimeril says:

          Gee I hope not. Otherwise we’re BOTH doing it wrong.

          I’m really, really wanting to play this. The whole “no story” clause just means I make my own and don’t have to worry about the game overriding my desire to do whatever stupid idea I have in my head. Though I am rather keen on building an asteroid base and mining the suckers for a few thousand years. I love his aims, his updates, his confidence and his no-nonsense way of just building whatever he wants. Go Josh. I just hope this ends up as awesome as I want it to be.

        • ZephyrSB says:

          How about throwing Kinetic Void, Elite: Dangerous and Drifter into the mix as well? I’m clearly totally off the rails.

  6. Cognitect says:

    I was very happy to hear Josh address the issue of scale in the latest development update. Limit Theory is showing a lot of promise, but I just can’t help feeling bothered by how tiny the planets and solar systems in the game seem to be. The game doesn’t actually have to be realistically scaled, but an illusion of scale robust enough to withstand more than a couple of quick glances shouldn’t be too much to ask for.

  7. Dermott says:

    For german speakers, some more info about it
    link to

  8. racccoon says:

    good work and great vision.

  9. Prime says:

    I’ve never seen game development like this. Josh is just the most amazing person I think I’ve ever seen build a game. He’s ridiculously talented. I absolutely want to play the finished version of this more than any other game I’ve heard about (Sorry, Jim). He writes daily updates on his blog, too. Each one dripping with enthusiasm and talent. This is clearly a labour of love and I adore the fact he’s been given his chance to make Limit Theory. Thank you, Kickstarter!

    • daphne says:

      I agree. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve been a fanboy of this project since its inception. Some nine months past the initial Kickstarter pitch, I still think this is the most promising Kickstarter game project so far. Of all of them.

      It isn’t simply that Josh is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever seen — he also appears to have a matching level of common sense, a completely realistic, no-nonsense approach that most other developers and Kickstarter hopefuls seem to be missing in some form. There’s nothing I respect more in a person.

      Recently I’ve intuited similar qualities in Alex Harvey and his project Tangiers. That one’s a runner up.

    • crinkles esq. says:

      I’ve never seen anything about this game before (did RPS ever cover it?), but I must say the guy does seem quite talented. Most programmers couldn’t handle such a wide swath of features by themselves without going into the weeds.

      I think it’s a bit shortsighted for him to create these procedural worlds, but then not allow you to fly over them. I understand not allowing ground travel, but just zipping around above the surface? I’d think a lot of people would have fun doing that, considering how nice the world he showed looks.

      • Prime says:

        Given how long it’s taken the chaps behind Infinity to release nothing but videos of shiny planets you could fly over if they ever got around to releasing anything, I think Josh’s well-reasoned decision to not include free-to-roam planetary terrains shows commendable restraint, wisdom and developer savvy. He’s one man working on limited funds and to a limited timescale. “short-sighted” is more a reflection of your desires than his actual design brief.

        Am I disappointed? Massively. Is it Josh’s fault? Not in any way shape or form. The game is still going to be fantastic. Elite IV will be the one to – eventually – scratch my planetary exploration itch.

    • SuicideKing says:

      True. This guy is epic. Terrific stuff. I get lazy trying to code a proper N-body simulation.

  10. Iskariot says:

    I have had my eye on this for a long time. Parnell is doing a great job. It is amazing to see his progress. What you can do with Procedural generation is almost like magic to me.
    That is one of the reasons I am very exited about Limit Theory, but also about Elite Dangerous.
    This is the age of a new dawn for space sims. So many good stuff coming.

  11. brokeTM says:

    If this had seemless landing on a planet, like the tech demos of Infinity: Quest for Earth demonstrated. I’d be hard pressed not to get this.

  12. SuicideKing says:

    Josh puts my coding skills to shame. Fuck, i don’t believe i can code anymore. This is brilliant. Brilliant.

  13. chabuhi says:

    I still (don’t) believe Josh is a fraud … A clever community manager for a large, multi-discipline dev team. No way one person can be so gifted. I hope nobody (doesn’t) buy LT by the millions. (Don’t) Stop supporting this (not a) sham of a developer. I am not (not) kidding.