Drone-Mapped Action-RPG ReRoll Is Cancelled

ReRoll, an ambitious post-apocalyptic RPG that aimed to use camera drones to digitally recreate Earth, is cancelled. According to an email sent to backers, “the development on ReRoll is over.” Pixyul, the developers, have offered backers a Steam key for their other game, BIOS, as compensation.

Announced back in 2014, ReRoll was an action-RPG that hoped to use camera drones together with topographic and municipal data to one day create a full-scale virtual replica of Earth that players could explore. They were starting with just Montreal, though. Pixyul was founded by Julien Cuny and Louis-Pierre Pharand, formerly of Ubisoft Montreal.

The email, posted by a backer on Reddit, states that, despite a crowdfunding campaign through ReRoll’s website and their own personal investments, the developers were unable to secure all the funding they needed to make ReRoll a reality. They began pitching the game to publishers and investors, but it seems no one was willing to bite. “Unfortunately, for many of them, we realized that we were either too expensive for some and not enough ambitious for others,” they say. The developers had one last chance, but were once again turned away. “After being so close on multiple occasions, today, we have to face the fact that this rejection was our last hope to secure the necessary funding to pursue the development and complete the game.”

“This is why we are officially announcing that the development of ReRoll is over. We want all of you to know that we gave our best shot and like you, we are extremely disappointed that ReRoll will not become a reality. It sucks. All of this sucks. We know many of you will be disappointed and even pissed. We understand that. We should have been better at communicating our progress.”

Very little of ReRoll was ever seen beyond concept art and trailers, which might sound suspicious but Pixyul affirms that this was because of non-disclosure agreements preventing them from sharing more progress on the game. “Not to give excuses,” Pixyul said, “but we were caught in the process with potential partners that wished we stayed silent on our progress.”

Most of Pixyul’s online presence has already disappeared. The website has shuttered along with social media accounts, and the online store, which was recently still up, is now closed too.

Unable to refund any of the backers for the crowdfunding campaign, which had tiers upwards of $300 dollars, Pixyul are giving away Steam keys for BIOS, their other game that currently sells for $14.99 in Early Access on Steam. Of course, that’s little consolation to the backers, and Pixyul says “we know that gifting you copies of BIOS (our other game) is not what you initially wanted, but it’s the best we can do.”

While sad, it’s another good reminder to always be extra careful when considering donating to crowdfunding campaigns.

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  1. Shuck says:

    Well, that’s not at all shocking. I’m only surprised it took this long. What they were proposing was something that would have been ambitious for Google, much less a seriously under-funded team of game developers. And frankly, as experienced developers, they really should have known better. The whole premise was flawed – scanned terrain does not a good game environment make.
    What people ignore/don’t realize about crowdfunded games is that crowdfunding simply does not raise full game development budgets. Every “successful” Kickstarter that puts out a game is relying on other funds, usually developer savings. When a crowdfunded game collapses, there are always people accusing the devs of running off with the money – but there is no money. By that time money has been spent far in excess of the amounts raised. Crowdfunding is causing developers to get sloppy – to take risks they otherwise wouldn’t, even to raise money not to build the game but to put together something to pitch to publishers to raise money to build a game, as seems to have happened in this case. Backers give money generally with the expectation that the developers have the funding all set up, but that’s rarely the case – if it was, they probably wouldn’t need to do crowdsourcing.

    • No Name Given says:

      Good point about the crowdfunding being a small part of a larger budget; paying for organizations of many skilled and creative humans over a period of several years in not cheap.

      But, I disagree with “Crowdfunding is causing developers to get sloppy.” I don’t think it has. Crowdfunding has exposed game consumers to a small slice of the game industry. A small percentage of games. Long before crowdfunding was a word, all manner of crazy, lazy, good, bad, and ugly game pitches were being made and shot down outside of the view of the consumers. And, many were being funded and failing without any evidence visible to consumers.

      My sense is the percentage of crowdfunded games failing to ship plus those shipping unenjoyable garbage is much smaller than the percentage happening behind closed doors. If I had to put a guess atop another guess, I’d guess that’s happening in part because developers’ faces, names, reputations (their self-images) are on the line in crowdfunded projects—and my god has the mob proven to be mean-spirited—while in the classic model failure is someone else’s risk to manage.

      • Shuck says:

        Backers hugely (by orders of magnitude) underestimate how much games cost to make. Heck, even developers tend to underestimate how much time (and therefore money) it will take (which isn’t helped by the games publishers and developers have traditionally played with each other over deadlines).

        I should have said some developers are getting sloppy – treating backer funds like an investment or even free money, even though they know that backers are viewing it as pre-order payments, especially when developers are encouraging backers to view it that way (as in this case). But you’re absolutely right that it’s revealing stages of game development that used to be unseen, and that in the absence of crowdfunding, a lot of games get abandoned mid-development. This is actually one the problems with crowdfunding – people don’t realize many games are being presented at a stage where most of them would get subsequently canceled under “normal” circumstances. So definitely, there’s pressure to finish that means, under crowdfunding, games are getting released that normally wouldn’t be. But that’s not necessarily a good thing, as it’s true even in situations where the game just isn’t coming together, isn’t fun. Normally it might be canceled in order to cut losses, but with crowdfunding, developers are obliged to release even a bad game. Not only are backers stuck with a dud game, but developers have to continue pouring their savings into working on a game even after the point where it becomes clear that it won’t make anything back in sales.

        • Caelinus says:

          This is the biggest reason I am worried about projects like Star Citizen. While it did get a significant funding amount (120m so far I think) it is still extremely low for a game of its scope and depth. I would expect a budget 2 to 3 times greater. Less ambitious games made by experienced developers have failed with much larger amounts of funding.

          • Shuck says:

            They’re about the only ones who have raised a full development budget via crowdsourcing. I think that their game is theoretically doable with the money they’ve raised, depending how mad they’ve gone with their feature list and they don’t waste too much of their budget on the ground portion – most of a game’s budget is art, specifically building models and animating them (e.g. people/creatures and their environments). Space itself is nicely sparse and spacecraft don’t require complex animations, so a little dev money goes a long way.

  2. ScubaMonster says:

    The whole premise of mapping the earth with drones was ridiculous from the get go and obviously unattainable. It would have been a monumental task just to do a city like New York or LA. But the earth? Come on now. Good luck getting your drone footage of places like North Korea. I’d think a task like this would take decades. You’d be better off using existing satellite imagery from Google Earth.

    • Shuck says:

      Clearly mapping the whole world was an impossibility, but even if they only managed to scan in a few cities, this was still the kind of serious data-collection project that constitutes its own business, not a side-project for a game company. A good sized company would be required just to scan, store and serve the data from a relatively small number of locations, and selling that data to interested parties would be a far more viable business plan than making a game from it.
      I always took their claims as hyperbole and not insanity, and what they meant was “we’ll scan a tiny number of real world locations.” It was still both overly ambitious and absurd, as that kind of data is probably least useful for game developers. Real locations don’t, by themselves, make for good game environments for most kinds of games. (Especially when elements like vegetation, pedestrians and vehicles either end up as flat textures on the terrain or turned into weird geometry.) They would have been better off using some procedural generation system. It wouldn’t necessarily make for a good game, but it would work better than scans and be easier.

  3. NephilimNexus says:

    Well, at least they’re more honest than the guys who made Repopulation.

  4. Psychomorph says:


  5. Rumpelstiltskin says:

    Well that’s where they are wrong then. One can be “crazy enough” to attempt something, but craziness really doesn’t help to pull something off, in the long run.

  6. syllopsium says:

    Do none of these people ever go for a walk? It’s beyond belief they ever thought this was a decent idea, and they must have walked to a least part of the demo drone shots.

    It’s very easy to get lost walking, or not know which direction to take, unless you’re familiar with the area, or have a map and know how to use it. There’s a reason Elder Scrolls games only map a couple of square miles, the closeness of significant places, and even then it’s still possible to lose bearing if the map/compass is not studied.

  7. OscarWilde1854 says:

    Yeah… big surprise… did some math because I was bored:
    We’re going to assume endless battery and one single flight for the drone in the video… the specs say it flies at 100m and at that height it says 1px = 2.75cm. So one (1920p X 1080p) image covers 0.0015km^2. The earth is 510.1 Million km^2 (surface area). So you’d need 340,066,666,666 pictures to cover the entire earth (with this camera… and that’s 340 Billion).
    The drone flies at 40 – 90 kmh (so lets average that to 65kmh).
    To avoid overlapping (to minimize storage, obviously) the drone would need to travel 4.4 seconds at 65kmh to get ‘to the next picture site’. So if they used one drone, it would need to fly for 24,938,222,222 hours straight to get all those pictures (again, assuming perfect, linear, flight here…). Which is 2,846,829 years. NEARLY 3m years! Obviously they would have used a lot more drones… and I’m sure I went wrong somewhere in my math, but you get the general idea.

    This was insane from the start, and completely pointless. I’d like to see someone do this with ONE city and get a real, geographically correct version of ONE city though. A full size, fully interactive New York City for example…

    • trankzen says:

      To be fair, they were supposed to start with one city (Montreal)

      Julien Cuny is a friend of mine, back from when we used to hang out on french gaming forums. We worked together on an HL2 mod which soon evolved into a indie game project (that was in 2004) but that got cancelled because we knew fuck all about how to undertake such a task and got way too ambitious. He then got hired by Ubisoft, moved to Montreal and got to work on Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed franchises.

      He’s a real life good guy, very passionnate about what he’s doing, and it really saddens me to see his main project got cancel in such an abrupt way. I see he’s left twitter too, I hope he’s alright (pretty sure he’s not though, this failure must have affected him a lot).

      (sorry about the distressed comment)

  8. racccoon says:

    This is why gaming should go back to being a business with a full plan and bank finance & not a theatre of begging bowls from people who have no clues how to handle money & expenses, All of which today’s begging ways are aimed at people who just like to throw money away because it so easy for them to hit every button.

    • malkav11 says:

      The failure of one unrealistically ambitious pitch certainly does outweigh the dozens of perfectly successful, delightful Kickstarted games, I agree.

    • gunny1993 says:

      Found the merchant banker

  9. Somerled says:

    Wait. An NDA on a small studio developing their own product? Is this normal?