I knew coming in that it was overly ambitious (heck, my website stated that from the very first days), but I think that shooting for the stars was a good way to just explore the current limitations of tech and try to do things that no one else was doing - reason be damned.
The best thing that happened was not something entirely tangible. I have witnessed the most beautiful side of humanity in my struggles (however trivial my struggles are in the global scope of the world).
I'm happy to hear it'll be open sourced, and hopefully people will continue to push it forward! I've been meaning to pick up some C++ and graphics programming...
I know the Kickstarter project was planned as an RPG and maybe you could have throw together a game using the engine as it stood a year ago just to call the project done, but I don't think that would have been a better outcome.
The updates were always nice, and I've always thought of it ending up as an SDK/playground for voxel technology, and never as eventually a real game. If it would become opensource, in my view - that would make it a successful kickstarter, and not a failed-one.
You can't take it with you.
[edit: ah, I see how this patron thing works - or not - one time would be nice]
Maybe you've gotten used to it from having worked on this so much, but it's a breath of fresh air to see unusual approaches being pursued in a game engine. So much of the industry is dominated by either 3D triangle meshes or retro pixel art, and VQ has shown that these aren't the only ways forward.
As I posted before:
I don't want a cent back. I didn't pay for a "product", I paid to watch him try this novel approach to a game engine. Money well spent.
Now "Transformers 3" on the other hand... I paid to watch that too. Michael Bay, you owe me $12 back for that stinker.
I do plan to tinker with this engine though....
Thanks for hard work. Good luck at OpenAI!
Sad to hear of VQ's demise, but open-sourcing it sounds like a great idea.
"I backed you, not the product, keep the money!"
"Open Sourcing it is worth more than I ever backed for this project, refund not needed"
AND (the best of them all - the way the internet does compliments):
"I will spend however much time is required to hunt you down in person and forcefully give you the money back if you dare refund me."
You're reminded of how little the things we own or build matter compared to the bonds we develop.
Maybe 10 years from now, through a community-led project, your game (with you as 1 of the leaders of the project) becomes a reality.
The game then takes off and is played by the same community who built it. You end up making about 90 good friends who you game/hack/build the game with and become a small internet celebrity to niche-gamers.
Although this story is not on the "high-tech, Docker-swarm-graphDB-containerManager-C++killer-version0.0.1234.44444" level, seeing a story like this reminds us of our humanity, even as people who rot away behind screens all day :)
I'd love to get a playable game out of this someday, but it doesn't have to come from you. :)
Best of luck, OpenAI is lucky to have you.
Voxel Quest is a great project that deserves all the attention it can get. It might not be the next unicorn, hell, it might not even produce any ROI, but as I see it, it has the potential to have a great impact. See it as a goodwill project if you will, a chance to make a nice dent in the gaming landscape and more.
It's not often that I feel this way, but some things just deserve to exist and be worked on for their own sake. Voxel Quest is one of these things, and Gavan is the one who can make it happen.
I still came out better in the end, with a more developed skillset and better reputation.
There are thousands of people out there just like me, waiting to prove themselves. These are the people that deserve funding. :)
I met my first investor on reddit, a total stranger who took a chance on me. Hopefully I can reach a financial position at some point to give another person a chance as I was given.
The comments I've read seem to indicate that people (myself included) want you to keep pushing on.
The bigger issue, which has been largely invisible to people, is that building a game on your own while you have a family impacts them in a really negative way (namely, you can't dedicate the time or money you would like to for them). If you have money you can compensate (with babysitters and such), or the same goes for time, but if you have neither than it is pretty hard on everybody.
Basically, it got to a point where I would rather the game be more of a hobby than a commercial venture; I was never good at the commercial part anyway. :)
I don't know if this is healthy or not (would I be happier not pursuing my passion? Would I be guilt-tripping about too little time with the kids anyway, with a regular nine-to-five?) but I can't quit, it would fuck me up too much (sunk cost, shattered dreams, etc.). I might have to hit rock bottom first (or make it big, right?).
In that sense I envy and credit you for moving on - best of luck.
That being said I would not be surprised if Gavan announced a brand new voxel project and kickstarter a few years from now, starting from scratch like last time.
Previous discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7491456
Genesis failed out the gate because (as mentioned in that thread) I got very little in terms of donations ($700 would not carry me more than a month in California).
VQ was my honest shot at it, and I learned many painful lessons from it. Seriously, drag me out in the back alley and shoot me if I think I need a third go at this. :)
Like many developers around here I got into programming through game development. Back in the days I started working on my own game engine and put a lot of effort into it without going anywhere. About 8 years I spent working on it on and off and learned a ton of C++. I believe, it was time well spent, but sometimes I get the nagging doubt that I should have spent my time more wisely.
Times change. Family, 2 kids, a house. I had to optimize my way of spending time. In the late hours I got left I started dabbling into other engines and frameworks for 3D games: Three.js, Dart, Haxe (Flambe, HaxeFlixel, HaxePunk) and now finally settled on Unity.
If I could go back in time I would tell my former self: "Stop wasting time doing everything from the ground up. Start making games!" I believe many aspiring game developers fall into the trap of doing everything by themselves. They start building frameworks and stuff just for the sake of it and forget, that making games requires a more widespread skill set (Game Design, Concept Art, Modelling, Texturing, Marketing, etc..)
Your engine is a work of art. I love the approach you've taken. But from the start I always thought, that you should start working on a game as soon as possible. What's your opinion on this?
First, it is quite contrary, but I believe that you don't necessarily need to make a "game" - in the way most people think that you should. You are better off if you can, but it is not a requirement. The best example I can cite is Minecraft, whose own creator claims it is not a game (he also is adverse to labels in general though). I demoed VQ to someone at GDC and they had fun just walking around and enjoying the scenery (yes, it was the proverbial "walking simulator").
There is value in whatever you decide to do, even if it is not monetary value. The most important thing, I think, is that you are having fun, because if you are not then the game business is generally not worth the associated suffering.
In my case, I enjoyed work most of the time, and in addition got to take a stab at pushing technological boundaries. The latter was not particularly valuable in terms of gameplay, but it was valuable in terms of creating interest and opportunities.
That said, the most telling thing that I found was that I often wanted to find something simpler (not a strong desire, but definitely in the back of my head). If I had to redo it all I'd make a 2D platformer - as overdone as that is, it is something that is far easier to work on and there are not nearly as many technical battles.
What you decide to use is up to you, but going completely from scratch is not a good idea IMO (unless you want to learn it all). I am a big fan of minimalist frameworks like Monogame and bgfx - they handle a lot of that annoying framework setup for you, but do not include the usual scene-graph workflow that you find in Unreal and Unity. That said, Unreal and Unity are excellent options if you do prefer a scene editor and an engine that is ready to ship out of the box.
I, for one, am extremely happy that you don't get to redo all of it :P
You are absolutely right. Beauty can be found even in 'simple' things. Hope to see more creative work from you in the future if you get to it.
Wish you all the best!
Do you think you were able to analyze your choices better, or understand the systems better, use them better, have more insight, because you spent time up front doing your own thing?
I rarely (if ever) feel like time I spent that way was wasted.
Can I ask how you ended up at OpenAI? as in did you apply directly? If it is personal for any reason no worries.
Thanks again for sharing your story and engine with us!
Oh and btw if you need help with the game networking ( I built a sockets based networking engine which seems to work ok) let me know.
"Can I ask how you ended up at OpenAI?"
Certainly. I had heard of OpenAI from their first announcements, being a regular reader here on HN. I later saw on Twitter (when I was on the job hunt) that they were hiring and it seemed like an interesting place to work. I applied directly, without any references (other than being visible here on HN).
You did a really great job, don't be too hard on yourself. As a developer I always value tools over a product, and you went that extra mile to give the community a tool, instead of giving them a game. I think you deserve every penny, great job!
I feel like the reaction you are getting indicates that hypothesis isn't horrible. Thanks for that :)
Edit: oh, the website or the game? The website was made with Weebly.
somewhere right now there is a young ambitious web UI designer thinking, "I know! I'll start a new fad where every web UI requires a JS physics engine!" and somewhere else right now, some uBlock Origin developer is thinking, "Uh oh, I better start designing a way to block those too."
I wish people (both people seeking funding and backers) would take more realistic and honest approaches towards crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding as a mechanism to pre-order something you know for certain is achievable is good, and very useful, but crowdfunding moonshot projects has it's place too. We should help people do crazy hard things because, occasionally, the outcome is awesome.
Voxel Quest is one of those times.
The outcome of a lot of over ambitious projects is that there is virtually no communication after funding and then they come up with some bs story about how they spent all the money before they could get anything to show for it.
Crowdfunding would be 10x what it is today if all of the "failed" projects had failed with regular communication, significant progress throughout, and a handoff of material (code or kit type release).
Unfortunately this is the exception rather than the rule.
You impress me, sir. keep the patreon around for people who just want to support a seriously good person who makes fun stuff from time to time.