Limit Theory is the procedural space sim RPG from Stanford student Josh Parnell. The solo developer has revealed to VG247 that while the game may appear to have a lot in common with David Braben’s Elite series, it was actually Morrowind that inspired its development. Parnell is also keen to see the game launch on Steam, but it’s early days yet. Get more insight below.
As part of a VG247 interview that will publish later this week, we asked Parnell for a bit of background on the project, offering a comparison to David Braben and Ian Bell’s Elite.
“I think it’s fair to say that it all started with Morrowind,” Parnell revealed. “The freedom, the beautiful, strange, and intricate world, and the limitless number of ways that you could choose to play it – that game just blew my mind, and ignited my intense love for PC games.
“Morrowind forever spoiled me, and now I can’t go back to enjoying linear gameplay. It goes without saying that Oblivion and Skyrim drove the nails in the coffin. My next big experience was Freelancer.
“It afforded the same kind of freedom as Morrowind, but in a sci-fi venue. Looking back, Morrowind and Freelancer were almost certainly the most influential games that I ever played. I guess it’s no surprise that people have noted that Limit Theory looks like ‘Freelancer 2’ or ‘Morrowind in Space'”.
Limit Theory offers players a vast, procedurally generated universe to explore, along with generated ships and quests that react to your approach. It all sounds incredibly baffling and complex on the development side, but Parnell is doing it all solo, and it’s a method of working that suits him just fine.
“For me, the biggest challenge in working alone is figuring out how to maintain absolute maximal efficiency at all times,” he said. “To bring a project of this size to reality without a team, I have to constantly ask myself, ‘Is what I’m doing adding maximal value to the game?’
“If I catch myself doing repetitive or trite labour, I’ve got to stop, step back, and ask ‘what have I done wrong?’ That’s part of the key to developing Limit Theory. It’s not impossible to build a game like this with one person – but it does require a fairly intense regimen.
“There’s no time for days and days of tweaking one small piece of the game. There’s no time for writing duplicate code that could have been unified. Most of all, there’s no time for making manual assets.”
At the time of writing Parnell’s Kickstarter project has raised $95,486 of its $50,000 goal, with 19 days left. We asked Parnell if he’s already thinking about distribution, and if Steam could be an option.
“Steam is definitely an option, provided we’re accepted,” he confirmed. “I’m also looking at other, client-free options. Ultimately, I’m going to do whatever I can to provide the early backers with whatever download method is convenient for them, even if it means distributing directly via my own site.
“As for those who buy at release, the options will most likely be online distribution channels like Steam, possibly Desura, and whatever other avenues present themselves.”
Stay tuned for our full Limit Theory feature later on this week.