Parnell Confirms Continuing Limit Theory Development

Until February, development of the successfully Kickstarted open-world space sandbox Limit Theory had been extraordinarily well documented. Creator Josh Parnell has been enormously vocal with backers and followers, posting detailed updates to the KS page and the game’s forums. Then, in early February, the usually active Parnell went quiet. Last night, we got in touch and received confirmation that development is ongoing and that regular communication will resume in the near future.

Since Limit Theory’s Kickstarter receiving $187,865 in late 2012 (nearly four times its desired $50k), Parnell has been keeping detailed documentation of the development process. Daily posts described what’s been going on with the game until January of this year. The last post, on January 9th, promised more details about the HUD for the next day. He continued to post to the forum up until the 1st February, however.

One of the last posts he made on 1st Feb explained how despite anxiety issues, he was then feeling more confident and secure with the game than he had in a long time.

“For once — perhaps in the entire development process of LT — I feel that I am living up to what you all expect of me. What a feeling. But more than that, it is the feeling that my dream is really, actually coming to life with alarming speed, right here on my screen. And that yes, it can actually be everything I wanted it to be.”

Both the Limit Theory and Josh’s personal Twitter have been quiet since January.

I sent an email to Parnell yesterday, hoping to hear positive news and, in a candid response, he explained that he has been working on Limit Theory despite unrelated matters that have caused him to cut back online communication.

In terms of everything being OK, though, well, here you have it — “everything is going to be OK!” :) I’ve never, ever considered abandoning LT, and I continue to work to the best of my abilities each day.

As you might expect after such a sudden decrease in communication, some on the game’s Kickstarter comments started to fear that the game might never appear. That seemed unlikely after two and a half years of meticulously detailed development and in his response to our email, Parnell assured us that his recent lack of online communication does not directly relate to Limit Theory and certainly isn’t indicative of abandoned development.

That’s splendid news for several reasons. The game is utterly fascinating in many ways, as my inability to pick out a single highlight from our previous coverage illustrates, and I’d be disappointed if it never found its way onto my PC. Then there are the Kickstarter backers, of course. As well as chipping in with funding, many of them have been involved in the conversations around development since the early days.

Mostly, it’s good to hear directly from an optimistic Parnell after this uncharacteristic period of online silence. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring you more details of the progress made in the last couple of months shortly.


  1. simoroth says:

    I too was getting concerned about him. Good to hear he is alright, he’s been doing a fantastic job.

  2. seroto9 says:

    YIPPIE! Oh ye of little faith.

    Nice one Josh: here’s hoping that whatever difficulties led to the communication breakdown resolve themselves swimmingly. And thanks RPS.

  3. Menthalion says:

    It’s funny that the speculations on the LT boards always focussed on difficulties ranging up to Joshes demise, while no-one ever seemed to consider him bumping into a special someone he might rather spend some time with at the end of a day’s coding..

    • BTAxis says:

      I remember a poll speculating about Josh’s disappearance that had that exact option on it, and it was by far the most popular one.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Eh, that kind of thing doesn’t typically result in totally disappearing from other commitments for a period of months. As I mentioned on the forums, it reminds me of my own past behavior with depression.

      Glad that Josh is basically OK, though.

  4. Simon_Scott says:

    Great that he’s broken cover. The timing of his radio silence was made a bit more significant in that he’d only just outlined how he intended keeping backers and supporters in the loop as he moved towards the beta release. We had one scheduled update, as discussed, and then nothing. Glad, for our sakes, that it was merely a bit of work/life balancing to blame, and, to echo Menthalion, hope for his sake that it was something positive.

    • Hedgeclipper says:

      I haven’t followed too closely but from what I’ve seen of the forums he’s been very focused on LT for several years – so much so I’d think a good look at work/life balance would be a good thing.

      • Simon_Scott says:

        Aye, but it could be a good thing triggered by a family crisis. I’m hoping it is not that.

  5. Craig Pearson says:

    Thank all of the Gods. Glad he’s okay.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      I wonder if he went quiet just to give you a bit of time to calm down? Happy he’s well, too.

  6. Kempston Wiggler says:

    A sudden flood of relief has just gone through me! Not for the game, but for Josh himself. He seems like a SUCH a nice bloke that it’d be horrible to hear something devastating had happened to him. Thanks for doing this, RPS!

  7. suibhne says:

    Good to hear all is (at least reasonably) well, and great to see RPS following up on this, too.

  8. Geebs says:

    The Limit Theory forums got terribly stupid in the last 2 months. I can understand a bit – if you read through the dev logs in quick succession, they start out relatively sedate and begin to sounds less and less hinged over time. Glad for the update and still looking forward to my copy of the beta!

  9. Cockie says:

    I knew he would never abandon LT! This news makes me very happy :D

  10. Didden says:

    Josh you are an inspiration and truly doing awesome work. Life happens and hope you are well.

  11. AshRolls says:

    Phew, I’m glad he is alright. After reading all the daily updates I felt quite close to Josh (in a weird internet stalker kind of way) and I was getting pretty worried about the sudden silence. It is not good for your mental health to lock yourself away and code so heavily for so long!

  12. vahnn says:

    +1 for wondering if everything was okay. Parnell is one of the most exciting developers making one of the most promising games I’ve stumbled into in a long time, and I get the impression that he’s a cool character as well.

    Hope everything works out, and can’t wait for this game! Thanks for the update, RPS.

  13. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Glad that he’s ok, I’ve really been missing the updates.

  14. SuicideKing says:

    Yeah, I tend to check every week or so for an update on him or LT. Was a bit worried, hoping his anxiety hadn’t taken a toll. Glad he’s fine!

    Not a backer but eagerly waiting for LT’s release. Enormous respect for Josh and his work.

  15. Asherware says:

    This is all pretty vague still. It’s utterly baffling that he couldn’t just tell his own community that he was working on the game and wasn’t going to be in touch for a while. That’s all anybody really wanted. It takes literally less than 1 minute to do this so whatever the unrelated problems are I don’t know but I can’t fathom why it was so hard to just tell everyone that he was going off the radar. He still hasn’t posted anything to the community.

    • Thurgret says:

      It may have been depression or such – only he could tell anyone for sure – which is exactly the sort of thing that can cause a person to sort of withdraw into themselves. Not too baffling.

      I check in on Limit Theory once every couple months. Good to see that he’s doing okay. He’s a tremendously promising developer.

      • Caiman says:

        While depression may be possible, it doesn’t really explain why he had no problem answering an email from RPS but couldn’t be bothered to contact his backers. It doesn’t really help, because it shows how little he thinks of the people who have supported him the most, both financially and in terms of encouragement. All that work creating a community, and lack of communication can kill it. The developers of Cube World did a similar thing, and rebuilding those bridges takes time. I’m glad to hear that Josh is well and still progressing with his dream game, but I hope he can find a balance between introspection and communication. He clearly still has a lot of support, although not quite as strong as it used to be.

        • Gamboni says:

          No, depression could very well explain it. Using expressions like “had no problem” and “couldn’t be bothered” just shows that you’re not entirely clear on what depression can mean. It’s not necessarily just about feeling majorly down, but can involve crushing, self-perpetuating guilt loops that make it impossible for the sufferer to interact with a person or a group of people, no matter how much in their debt he or she may be. In fact being in their debt can serve to make it worse. You just can’t apply the same standards as you would to a healthy person. I understand you’re mostly just venting your frustration, but you’re doing it in a way that belittles depression as a bona fide mental illness.

        • Reapy says:

          Well, could be the simple difference between facing his audience and engaging with it causes a bunch of anxiety and makes it hard to break that barrier, while someone directly contacting you and reaching out that isn’t a backer per say could be simpler to engage with.

          I have a lot of anxiety myself about everything, which causes me hesitate a lot before I engage in specific things. I’m old enough now I mostly have it under control but I still have really weird things that are hard for me to like initiating phone calls. I’m fine when I get on the phone, but picking up and calling for service or ordering food is this weird barrier. Hell even really hesitant to get on voice comms with strangers in games, really odd thing I just can’t seem to figure out about myself that is illogical, so I can relate to others that might behave in similar ways.

          Depression and anxiety kind of have a way of slowly alienating people around you, which ramps up your depression, because really when you are down or hesitant to engage with people you come across like a big asshole.

          You have to really cut the spiral before it gets too out of control because people generally have the same thought process right here. It takes one minute, you’ll be done in a second. Anybody could just do it, clearly they don’t give a fuck or they would do it, duh. Not understanding that wall of anxiety can make a 1 minute operation a mountain to scale.

          I mean I don’t expect the world to bend over and ‘understand’, it doesn’t pause for us to wrestle our demons, and eventually we have to do that one minutes work or face the consequences.

  16. daphne says:

    Heh, the URL for this post tells a different story.

    Glad to see he’s okay!

  17. Darkheart says:

    Glad things are ok. Don’t forget to take a breather every now and then.

    Btw, the UI you created is a thing of beauty. I have never watched a game vid just to look at the UI ^_^

  18. DrollRemark says:

    Not to be Mr. Hindsight, but I always thought a daily update seemed a little unsustainable. Even working on a game full-time, I’m not sure I’d want the extra pressure of justifying what I’ve been up to that day. I mean, I have something very like that at work, and my updates are often little more than “I’m doing the same thing I did yesterday.”

  19. DrManhatten says:

    Well I must say after an initial great feeling of the game that latest about a year and a half and then things turned from good to bad to worse in a very rapid period. Really bad design decisions turned an initial fascinatingy interesting game into a pile of crap like X-Rebirth. Now I am glad I didn’t back this in the end. I put my money know on Space Engine ( that already looks so much better and you can already download and fly aroundin a massive universe that is even bigger than Elite Dangerous.

    • Cockie says:

      How can you know that a game is crap when it hasn’t been released yet? Are you psychic? :?

      • wu wei says:

        I believe that after he was disintegrated by an intrinsic field subtractor, his new energy form allows him to see probabilistic outcomes.

      • DrManhatten says:

        I don’t say it is crap but the likelihood that it will has increased massively.It diverged quiet massively from the initial promises and made it some similar bad decisions that egosoft made. On top of that he clearily has zero experience in terms of project management otherwise how can you spend over two years with still zero outcome. These are all signs pointing to potential disaster simply because he didn’t manage it well but rather tried to go grand scale. Space engine has a far better management as you build things gradual you build a base and then you add feature on top of it. As it gives you something early success you can build on, milestones you reach and can show outside.

        Space engine is doing it the right away it gradual builds on top of things and only people who haven’t read the website correctly don’t understand where it is actually heading!

        • Cockie says:

          Care to explain which decisions those are? Also, having seen the videos I wouldn’t exactly call that nothing…

    • Thurgret says:

      I’m not sure what relation you’re finding between Space Engine – which, at a glance, appears to be a celestial object simulator – and Limit Theory, which is as far as I’m aware, a space “sim”, where you fly round, trade, and shoot stuff, heavily influenced by Freelancer, with fleet command added in.

    • drinniol says:

      I think he’s actually confused Limit Theory with X-Rebirth, and then confused X-Rebirth with a steaming turd being laid on your motherboard.

  20. the grue says:

    Hey Adam, you might find this article useful.