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Ant Simulator Cancelled Amidst Accusations And Conflicting Reports (Real Life Ants Still Fascinating)

Things I am relatively certain of: Ant Simulator [official site] is cancelled and I am sad about that.

Things I am far less certain of: pretty much everything else that’s happening regarding Ant Simulator

This is because the creator’s resignation from the project involved accusations that his business partners were using funding to pay for liquor and restaurants and so on, and they’ve now responded with their version of the story which details a a very different story.

I’m going to give the basics of the back-and-forth as it stands at the moment in case you guys put money towards it or were simply looking forward to the game coming out and are wondering what happened.

Ant Simulator started out as a Ludum Dare game jam idea [page here]. When I wrote about it back in September it was because there was a cool video about lighting and pollen effects and suchlike that had caught my eye. Also it was an excuse to talk about the real life cool things ants can do. Then yesterday gamejourno Twitter was all “liquor and strippers and Kickstarter funds”. That was because developer Eric Tereshinski had posted a video on the ETeeskiTutorials YouTube channel to say the game was cancelled and he had resigned.

“I recently found out that my ex-business partners were secretly stealing company money,” alleges Terenshinski on the video. “They had secretly spent the overwhelming majority of both our Kickstarter money* and the Ant Simulator investment money on liquor, restaurants, bars and even strippers.”

He added that if he released the game without the partners they had said they would sue. “Resigning and cancelling Ant Simulator is really the only option available to me right now.”

The partners, Tyler Monce and Devon Staley have since spoken to Game Informer to give their own version of events. Monce calls Tereshinski’s accusations “completely false” and goes on to address some of the specific claims:

“I don’t know why he’s painting that picture, but the reality is that anything that was spent in a bar or restaurant was very reasonable in nature when you look at any business, including video game companies. It was part of our operating budget, it’s not anything that was excessive. It was all reported to the IRS. The picture he’s painting about that is 100 percent bull****.”

It then becomes a story about Tereshinski taking control of company property, bank accounts, social media accounts and so on. According to Monce, he suspected Tereshinski of trying to cut the partners out of the game. “We made it clear that we weren’t going to let him do that, because we had a moral and legal right not to,” he says.

It’s a quote which offers a very different reading of the partners not wanting Tereshinski to release the game without them.

If you’re interested you should definitely go over and read the whole thing. It also has Monce and Staley talking about paying contractors and why an opportunity with Sony went south (Tereshinski’s account of the same event is on Polygon). I’ve also sent an email to Tereshinski to ask a few follow-up questions.

So where does this leave Ant Simulator, project backers, Tereshinski, Staley and Monce?

Well, I think it’s reasonable to assume that Ant Simulator is dead. As part of the Polygon interview Tereshinski put the number of Ant Simulator pre-orders at seven and the video he released to announce his resignation notes that he will send an email to those people about getting refunds. I’ve sent an email to ask about what happens/happened if you invested in the beta or sponsored the project.

According to his announcement, Tereshinski intends to rebrand his YouTube, remove the ETeeski LLC content from his channel (that includes the Ant Simulator videos and the Ultimate GameDev Tutorials series) and carry on making videos about game development. I’ve asked what will happen to these videos – whether they will get rehomed or are just being deleted.

According to Game Informer, Staley and Monce are planning to pursue legal action against Tereshinski but are currently focused on refuting their former business partner’s claims.

Here is a National Geographic documentary about ants functioning as a superorganism. I’m watching that while I have my lunch.

*The Kickstarter was, as far as I can tell, by the ETeeski company but was for the Ultimate GameDev Tutorials series rather than Ant Simulator. You could, however, buy into the Ant Simulator beta (although that beta got cancelled before it started) or give money to sponsor the game’s development via the website.

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Philippa Warr

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