The developer of Unwritten Passage says personal problems and an inadequate budget have left the project stuck in limbo.
Unwritten Passage, which hit Kickstarter as Unwritten: That Which Happened, sounded awfully good, promising a life-or-death tale of a nomadic tribe trekking across a randomly-generated tundra to meet their god. But after successfully reaching its $75,000 goal in February 2013, development slowed to a crawl, and in a message posted on January 4, Roxlou Games founder Joe Houston acknowledged that the project is in trouble.
"Every person in life has a limited amount of themselves to give. I have been striking a compromise between a project that has had its own troubles, a family in crisis (that I oftentimes couldn't or wouldn't recognize), and the regular demands of supporting my wife and daughter on my own. I am tenacious and hardworking, and I have been creative in addressing the problems that I see," he wrote. "But I have my limits, and sometimes tenacity can become willful blindness and stubbornness. And those qualities don't honor the trust that my wife, my daughter, my backers, and my contributors put in me."
Houston said Unwritten Passage was intended to be finished in six months, but it's now around the 10-month mark with no end in sight. He's taken contract jobs on the side to try to keep things going, but it hasn't been enough. Explaining the budgetary shortfall would take "three full postmortems," he said, "one as an indie game developer, one as a small business owner, and one as a bit of flotsam swirling in the maelstrom of the U.S. health system," but the short version is that "two idioms apply: 'hindsight is 20/20,' and 'shit happens'."
As for the future of the game, Houston said he's not ready to throw in the towel, but "to say that the project as I pitched it is alive and well would be beyond naive. It would be dishonest." He wants to continue it as a side project as time and circumstance allow but added that for many backers, "this is probably the end." In a Kickstarter update posted today, however, he clarified that Unwritten Passage is "still ongoing (if on life-support)"; because of that, existing game assets won't be released into the public domain, although backers who want a refund may contact him to arrange it.
Source: Roxlou Games