Skip to main content

Terror terraforming tale Tether placed on indefinite hold

An honest explanation of failure

Tether is a game about terraforming Mars. Not for Elon Musk "because I have something to prove" reasons, but because the Earth is dying and the Moon got blown up. You know, it's surprising that Moon doesn't get blown up more. It doesn't do anything except regulate the tides and it's always just up there... taunting us... and we have so many missiles... Shut up, ya dumb moon! So back to Tether. It's a cool looking game first-person game about memory and loss and terror based in the mental pressures of deep space isolation. Or at least it was a cool looking game. It's been placed on an indefinite hold, and that appears to be a real loss.

Announced in 2016, the game would see you playing as biological research assistant Lesleigh Hayes on her first deep space voyage to Mars. Once aboard the spaceship Sonne, Lesleigh's thoughts turned to her children as she relived some of their final conversations before her interstellar deparutre. Catastrophic events result in Lesleigh being forced to survive the psychological horrors of her situation, while reflecting on the consequences of her choices, and the very nature of what it means to be a mother.

That's a lot to deep dive, and our original coverage pointed out that the game looked very much like SOMA, but like SOMA it needed to do right by intimidatingly big questions.

So, the news from the 8th of July is that Mark Gregory (owner and designer of Tether's dev Freesphere Entertainment) has placed the game on indefinite hold. He has a fascinating thread about the choices that lead to this decision, which starts here:

The summary is that workers on the yet unfunded game went unpaid for two years and Gregory was tired of both wasting their time and burning himself alive, financially. That's... that's a pretty standard game start-up situation. The more interesting information comes from his explanation of their history regarding revamping/repitching the game in very different styles, and which versions should have sold versus which avenues they went down that ruined their chances. There's also some painfully honest bits about the state of the world of indie games business. It's worth your read and, for every game that I've watched a company just gave up on, this sort of on-the-level explanation of behind the scenes mistakes feels refreshing. Whether or not it is the full story, it's nice to see someone respecting the time of their volunteer "employees" versus using them until they leave; broken and resentful of the entire industry.

To see what we're all missing out on, check out the trailer below:

Watch on YouTube

Fascinatingly enough, the word "tether" was the source of the typo that ruined the AI in Aliens: Colonial Marines. So just a bad weekend in general for that word. Woof.

Read this next