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I think Josh lied

#1
To whoever still comes here : let's have a healthy, open discussion about it, shall we not ?

I figured this could be the right place to discuss it. Thought about it a while, wondering if that was in accordance with "Remember the human", and I remembered - discussing it is the only sane thing to do.

For a while, discussions and criticism were largely suppressed on Limit Theory forums. Silencing discussions and critics were detrimental for the game, we became a warm and fuzzy echochamber, and Josh, little by little, felt he could escape his accountability.

There were the believers and the doubters, and I was a hoper. Back in 2012, when Josh released his daily dev logs, I would religiously read them, each day. Even when I was on vacation or on remote places where internet coverage was hard to get, I'd find a way to go read the dev log.

Not that I think that Josh is accountable to me just because I feel entitled or something, or because I really wanted to play the game someday. Nuh-huh, this isn't about me. I've come to terms with LT a long time ago. Perhaps whoever reads this will doubt it, but, hey, I'm not the subject :D
I think Josh lied. He did not just fail because of mental health issues, I think he knew a while ago, way before quitting, that he wouldn't be able to complete the game.

Where is the source code ? It's been a long while since the people who gave him money, time and trust haven't heard of Josh. I don't believe it's ever coming out, because he was able to make the videos look pretty and shiny and drown us into a lot of meta and vague chatter about coding, but the code itself would say the truth, and that would be a problem.

Since enough time has passed, I think now's a good time to have a discussion about this. I'd love to hear what people familiar with the project might have to say about it. Do you still believe the source code is ever going to be released ?

I still respect the guy as much as the next guy. I don't think he's a monster, or a scammer, or any -er word. Perhaps he was in part overwhelmed by the anticipation and hopes of the community.

I'm just saying I think he lied about many things, hid behind excuses of mental health issues - to be fair it was mainly "I'm exhausted because I spend a lot of time coding", and also lied about the release of the source code.

To conclude, even if this isn't addressed to Josh himself (if it was, I probably would have used the second person form), I would love if he had something to say about all this. No, I'm not begging for closure. Just reminding him - just reminding you, Josh, that you broke promises but also made other promises after that.

Where's the source code ?
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Re: I think Josh lied

#2
One conspiracy theory is as good as the next one, I guess.

My assumption was that he had sold the IP to someone, and is not allowed to release the source code as someone else owns it.

I find that preferable to believe than him just lying because he knew it was never going to be released? How far back would that go?

Remember though, if you played it, that version 1.1 prototype that we got access to, years ago. I still have that somewhere, I think. It was playable, not that there was a lot to do in it. But it was working code, but far from what we had hoped for, and far from even what he was releasing in those videos, like the fancy UI displaying the code behind a ships configuration. That was great.

I suspect most people just want some kind of closure. We got strung along for so long, with no payoff at the end of it, and it would just be nice to see a line drawn under the whole thing.

For me that would be a chunk of broken code sitting on my hard disk, and not someone elses. Or an explanation as to how it all went so wrong.

This is one of those examples of why I would never go near a Kickstarter again. So thanks Josh for that, if nothing else....
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Re: I think Josh lied

#3
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
One conspiracy theory is as good as the next one, I guess.
Conspiracy theory ? Nothing so grand. I'm not claiming the aliens abducted Josh to work on their top secret UI or something. I'm just saying what I wrote. Simple suspicions, and quite realistic in my opinion. He could have reduced his ambitions, simplified his works, but instead it was permanent "so I'm refactoring the code", "I'm creating a new coding language", "I went back and restarted stuff", always delaying.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
My assumption was that he had sold the IP to someone, and is not allowed to release the source code as someone else owns it.
That cat would be out of the bag, someday, eventually, whereas just hiding and never releasing - like he's doing so far - can leave deniability in suspension for quite a while. Until we come back and the whole LT domain is gone if Josh just doesn't renew it.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
I find that preferable to believe than him just lying because he knew it was never going to be released? How far back would that go?
In my opinion that goes far back, perhaps before the dark days. But I think he was still hoping or just couldn't find a way out of all this.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
Remember though, if you played it, that version 1.1 prototype that we got access to, years ago. I still have that somewhere, I think. It was playable, not that there was a lot to do in it. But it was working code, but far from what we had hoped for, and far from even what he was releasing in those videos, like the fancy UI displaying the code behind a ships configuration. That was great.
I know he did work on stuff, and that old prototype did happen. And there has been a lot of progress involved after that. Real promising stuff, really. I'm not denying that part.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
I suspect most people just want some kind of closure. We got strung along for so long, with no payoff at the end of it, and it would just be nice to see a line drawn under the whole thing.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
For me that would be a chunk of broken code sitting on my hard disk, and not someone elses. Or an explanation as to how it all went so wrong.
That's the least we deserve. And I'm not satisfied with what was said in the cancellation announcement. It's not enough, it doesn't seem sincere. And, again, the source code. Where is it ? Oh, yeah. He's supposedly reworking it again. Right.
Memnoch wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 2:43 pm
This is one of those examples of why I would never go near a Kickstarter again. So thanks Josh for that, if nothing else....
I disagree with that part. His project was promising. It was worth the risk. He was an interesting, likeable person. Still is, I'm sure. And I can admit that projects do fail sometimes, even with the best intentions and dedication. It didn't deter me from backing other games (for the record, I didn't back LT, I heard about it right after the KS campaign).

The problem is not the failure, the problem is the dishonesty.

I'll gladly eat my words if I'm proven wrong at some point.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#4
I would argue that Josh was vague in certain areas, such as how every gameplay element would tie in together, along with not being forthcoming about which things he was working on at any given time. However, I do think in his eyes he was being as transparent and honest as he could be by communicating on the forums and through the daily dev logs and monthly videos.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#5
I also see the failure to at least release the source code as a disappointment.

Probably a situation like
rather than any particular other thing. But disappointing regardless. Even if it was broken including the build scripting, it all ought to just be thrown online on some repository.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#6
Never attribute to malice what is adequately explained by stupidity.

Not to say that Josh is outright stupid, but to say that he was overly ambitious and/or naïve and realized as much only all too late. To say that he lied would be to assume that he knew he was misleading us the entire time, and just wanted an excuse to ride out on the remainder of whatever cash he had from the Kickstarter.

I'm not willing to believe that Josh deliberately misled all of us, at least not without misleading himself at the same time. Maybe he thought, at many junctures, "if I can just do X, then I'll be able to complete the game". This is a good faith effort, not a lie. Lies are manipulation. In much the same way, I don't think Pierre de Fermat was lying when he said that he had a proof that was too large to fit in the margins of his copy of Arithmetica. As impressive of a troll that would be, I think it's more likely that Fermat did not yet understand the complexities underlying his conjecture, which took centuries of mathematical advancement to prove. Maybe he even did sit down to try his hands at a proof, and quickly realized that it was beyond his ken, but never went back to cross out his assertion in the margins of his book.

Being incorrect is not the same as lying, put plainly.

Furthermore, to suggest that the claims of mental illness are a hokey shield thrown up to protect himself from criticism is massively disrespectful to anyone suffering from depression or anxiety or work burnout or anything else even remotely of the sort. Given the pressure he was under to make the game effectively solo (with the exception of a few helping hands during the sunset days of Limit Theory as a project), and with a horde of eager beavers waiting impatiently here on the forums, ravenous for information, I think it's quite reasonable to assume he developed a case of anxiety or depression in the process, never mind a whole host of other factors that could have played into his mental state which we are simply not aware of. We didn't know much about his family or his personal life (or if he even had one during development), and we know even less now. Whether his condition (which we should assume, in good faith, was not fictitious) has improved or worsened is unknown to us.

But let's imagine he did lie, for a moment. Why? It wasn't to get more money. There was never a second campaign or a Patreon page or a Paypal account. It wasn't to get more publicity. There were a few articles every year about LT, but it's not like they drew huge crowds to the forums. What kind of liar only asks for more time? Josh never took advantage of us. We knew that he only wanted to do the project on what was given to him, and lying wouldn't save him any face if he knew the disappointing end of Limit Theory was inevitable. He would only be able to delay. Would a con man have hired Adam, or paid Talvieno to be community manager? No, they would only be cracks in the architecture of the lie.

The idea that he began lying in the middle of the whole thing is, thus, madness. He would have to have been doing so from the very beginning. We can never truly know if that's the case, but is asserting as such worth anything? To take thousands of posts and hundreds of ideas and claim they were all for nothing? To imply that the entire LT community is a gullible herd of livestock that spent years on forums and in IRC, talking up the snake oil of a twenty-something con man with a C++ compiler and some nifty shaders?

No. To do that is not worth anything. It would be to rip open a wound, which has already closed for many, and throw salt on it. If there was any deception on Josh's part, I firmly believe it was self-deception. It's just another part of being human.

And for the source code? I shall continue to assume good faith.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#7
Well.. I come back to see if the message board has been disconnected yet and see this post at the top.

Back in the hay days of Limit Theory I was probably one of the most vocal members here when it came in challenging the "status quo" of Josh. I never thought Josh lied however, will say that.

Josh failed because he spent too much time endlessly tweaking small stuff, like designing the same menus 4 or 5 times, when the first one could have functioned just fine. Fancy fine tuning of the "fluff" stuff can be done last. Particularly when you are a one man team. (for most of the development process) Now before someone come back with "but Josh needed the menus to be tweaked in such a way that his game would work".. no. Sorry. Josh would spend weeks working on fluff when the core needed to work. Basic menus would have been fine, particularity for development.

Why did he do this?

I believe it's because he wanted pretty videos to show everyone. Basic background low level stuff is not showy, but a new menu using a cool effect? Bling bling baby.

He should have bit the bullet early on and started cutting features. Once he saw the massive hill in front of him, pulling limit theory back a few levels could have made this project possible. If it released things could have been expanded on in the future.

To summarize, no Josh didn't lie, at least I have seen zero evidence of such. He was young and tried to be the "nice guy" developer and be transparent and show his fans lots of cool stuff. If he focused more on making an actual functioning game and less on the fans expectations, maybe we would have a game by now. Instead we have nothing.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#8
Josh seemed like a pretty optimistic guy by nature.

If he went to work for a game (or even general software) development studio, as I believe Adam said toward the end, then I hope Josh is picking up the practical aspects of completing a project.

Perfectionist Josh will probably always be there, never fully satisfied with what can actually get made. But maybe Accomplishment Josh will now be there as well to win that conversation in his future projects.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#9
Salient (although belated) advice from Luke Hodorowicz, the sole developer of Banished, as he works on his next project:
http://www.shiningrocksoftware.com/2020 ... ts-sum-up/
I started with a text based behavior tree system, which once I got working looked a lot like a scripting language, so I started adding other features that made it a scripting language. (I had a post ready to go about how awesome it was.) It then got more complicated, needed a runtime debugger, and it started running other parts of the game, not just AI. Maintaining it was getting messy. Writing a game in a language that is being modified is not cool. Having script do slow things was not awesome. Not making progress on a game because you’re writing something to write the game is not the best.

The only great thing about it was that writing a programming language was personally satisfying. But it just doesn’t get other projects done. I could have told you that before all this, but I fell into it a trap I knew about.

One day, I just deleted all the code, and immediately felt better.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#10
Veeno wrote:
Mon Feb 01, 2021 5:50 am
Salient (although belated) advice from Luke Hodorowicz, the sole developer of Banished, as he works on his next project:
http://www.shiningrocksoftware.com/2020 ... ts-sum-up/
I started with a text based behavior tree system, which once I got working looked a lot like a scripting language, so I started adding other features that made it a scripting language. (I had a post ready to go about how awesome it was.) It then got more complicated, needed a runtime debugger, and it started running other parts of the game, not just AI. Maintaining it was getting messy. Writing a game in a language that is being modified is not cool. Having script do slow things was not awesome. Not making progress on a game because you’re writing something to write the game is not the best.

The only great thing about it was that writing a programming language was personally satisfying. But it just doesn’t get other projects done. I could have told you that before all this, but I fell into it a trap I knew about.

One day, I just deleted all the code, and immediately felt better.

Among the rules of systems design pointed out by John Gall in Systemantics, one of the most valuable is that big systems built from scratch rarely work correctly. Most big systems started out as small systems that worked.

And the design lesson there is clear: start with a small system that barely does the main things you want it to do. Once that's working, enhance the component systems, being careful to keep each enhancement ruthlessly focused on delivering required features of the overall vision.

And always be aware of the other system rule that as systems expand, their primary function begins to change from delivering on the original vision to self-preservation. Not every system scales up (this is particularly true for human systems); you have to find structures that still work even as their usage increases.

Then, after all that, if you've still got time (and money) to keep tinkering, great. Have fun.

But start with something simple that works first.

This advice brought to you by the Committee for 20/20 Hindsight.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#12
I say just just follow the money. $180,000 from Kickstarter to be exact. Is there any proof on what these funds were actually spent on, specific to this project?

I for one think this started as an idea, quickly turned into an unreachable goal, and then the panic set in so it just about keeping the lie alive while a reasonable exit plan was thought up. Stretched out long enough, to where the $180k over the long of period made sense. My guess, no real work went into it after the first year. Just fluffy tweaks as others have said to make the videos look good.

I also believe a portion of the mental illness claims, though I think it was due to the size of the lie continuing to grow, and not the scale of the project.
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Re: I think Josh lied

#14
My impression of the whole thing is it started as a passion project but was far too much for one man alone. This is the type of game that takes entire teams of devs years to make. Josh basically had no job other than LT for the duration of the project, and as can be seen by the daily dev logs and the progress he showed in them he was working on it. Eventually the combo of working nonstop on a gigantic project for years on end plus the realization of the sheer size of the undertaking, combined with his mistakes such as engine selection and the like, drove him to a breakdown, at which point frankly the fate of the project was sealed- but Josh cared too much about it to just let it die then. It doesn't surprise me that after finally coming to that realization, he hasn't come back here, released the source, or even really communicated with any of us- LT was his dream, and the source, the community, and this forum are all reminders that he failed to accomplish it.

TL;DR: Flatfingers' post but longer
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Re: I think Josh lied

#15
As far as I am aware, the only person he could have been lying to had been himself. He overstated his capability to organise and administer such a massive project; yet when he realised it, he still tried to push hard towards its completion - this included getting help, getting more people on the team, using available libraries instead of writing systems from scratch, etc. I can certainly respect that - most people would have abandoned it entirely, I think.

In the end, it just didn't work. As somebody who has spent almost comparable time on what essentially is a massive solo project (and as somebody who is really bad at organising himself :lol: ), I'd say that after a few years the excitement wears thin, and depression sets in, and at some point you no longer want to see, hear, smell or otherwise perceive the very thing you are working on, and you don't want to see any people either - that includes your best friends and close relatives, too. And once you are set into this sad existence, retaking contacts and returning to normalcy is extremely difficult. The burning sense of shame due to (real or imaginary) failure makes it even harder... wow this is really getting personal here :?

And I agree with what others said here:
- There is no motive that explains lying ;
- His development strategy was not the soundest;
- His attention to detail and love of building tools got the better of him;

I don't know if we ever hear from Josh again, or finally see the source code. It'd be nice if Josh stopped being all guilt-tripped and released at least the music and all the iterations of the graphics engine - the backgrounds and planets and nebulae were a sight to behold! But if it doesn't happen, well... I can understand what he was going through, and I can't really hold him accountable for that - unlike a certain other space sim that entered development at around the same time, and keeps adding more virtual ships while nothing else is working properly...ah, the 70 bucks I'll never get back!
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