Bear Simulator, which was fed on $100,000 Kickstarter cash after requesting $30,000, is being put to sleep. Unlike many light-hearted Kickstarter sims, however, the update announcing its demise comes over honest, honourable and sad, if a little naive.
On Sunday, John Farjay, the sole developer, declared that he would be putting the project aside because Bear Simulator "didn't have a great reception" and admitting that he feels he's "not skilled enough to make the game better than it currently is".
Exposure to the Steam market and the unfiltered opinions of its many participants would be enough to dampen most developers' enthusiasm (our own Chris Livingstone was unenthused about his ursine experience) but the reality seems to have hit Farjay particularly hard. The closing comment is bleak, reading as a passion snuffed out despite 79% positive reviews on Steam: "Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive."
At the same time, those negative reviews cite a lack of communication as a large problem, in addition to alleging that the negative posts were being deleted or flagged as abusive by Farjay himself. It sounds like a case of frustration and disillusionment making a situation worse than it had to be, even prompting the likes of Cliff Bleszinski to take notice.
I have such mixed feelings about this. On one hand, the Internet is mean. On the other, welcome to game development. https://t.co/HQwabXJsNjMarch 6, 2016
To his credit, this isn't another tale of a first-time dev taking the money and heading for the hills—Farjay has pledged to patch in the 'Kickstarter Island' that was listed as a planned feature in the initial campaign, and to continue to "work on fixes and features until you're all happy and content" before stopping.
If you're a Bear Simulator backer, you're invited to submit requests for fixes in the comments below Farjay's update. I'd get on that if I were you. If you're contemplating hitting Kickstarter to launch your impulsive first game, take note.