[Updated with Kickstarter response 11:48 am Feb. 1, 2016]
Ant Simulator, a game that raised money through crowdfunding, has allegedly been canceled because the company’s leaders spent the money on liquor, restaurants, and strippers instead of using it to finish the game.
If the allegations are true, the episode is reminder of the go-go days of dotcoms and it represents a cautionary tale for crowdfunding.
ETeeski raised money for a PC game on Steam and a PlayStation 4 console game. The fundraising page on ETeeski is no longer there. The description of the game is still available on the ETeeski web site, but there are YouTube videos that described its progress.
In the game, you would have played an ant and seen the world from an ant’s point of view.
Eric Tereshinski posted a video on Saturday saying that Ant Simulator was canceled and he was resigning from ETeeski, the developer of the game after a year and a half of work. Tereshinski was the programmer on the project, and he said that he worked on the project for more than a year.
“This is going to be the worst video I’ve ever had to make,” Tereshinski said. “Ant Simulator is going to be canceled. I can’t work on Ant Simulator anymore. I recently found out my ex business partners were secretly stealing company money. They had secretly spent the overwhelming majority of both our Kickstarter money and the Ant Simulator investment money on liquor, restaurants, bars, and even strippers. This is the reason it has become exceedingly clear to me that I cannot have my career associated with these guys.”
He said his ex partners said that if Tereshinski released Ant Simulator without them, they would sue. He said he trusted them, signed a partnership agreement with them, and he had been friends with them for 11 years. He didn’t specifically name the partners, but only two leaders are listed on the company’s web site.
We’ve asked ETeeski for comment and will update this story if we hear back. In an email, a spokesman for Kickstarter said that ETeeski did not raise money through Kickstarter for Ant Simulator specifically. Rather, it did run one campaign on Kickstarter for what it called “Ultimate gamedev tutorials.” That campaign raised just $4,459, exceeding its goal of $4,000. ETeeski was apparently taking preorders for games on its own site.
The game was being built with the Unity 5 game engine.
“I’m very pissed off I lost money. I lost over a year in work. And I lost a game that I loved and I was proud of and I was really looking forward to releasing on Steam and PS4,” Tereshinski said. “It was supposed to be my first big step in really taking a shot at making video games as a career. But I have to start over now.”
Here’s a description of the game from the company’s web site.
“The sound of dirt crumbling echos through the underground tunnels. Your tiny mandibles loosen debris from the walls. It is your duty to create the fortress and home for both yourself and all the ant sisters of your colony. Eggs, babies, workers, food, the royal queen herself; such precious life is guarded by this fortress from the trials and dangers of the surface, just millimeters above. But underground we cannot live forever. Food from the surface must be found and gathered to our underground hold. Sugar is easy enough to find among the trash that humans litter on the ground. Worker ants thrive on sugar. They will work all day gathering more food, tending the eggs and babies, watching after the care of the queen. Soldiers, however, require protein to grow into the gladiators they are. It will be up to you and the bravest of the ant worriers to hunt the wild creatures of the tall grasslands. Pill bugs (rolly poly) are easy enough to take down. Heavy plates of armor make the beast slow. Our sharp jaws eventually find their way through the shell. Times seem bountiful, but watch the shadows. Spiders lurk there. They are many times larger than our soldiers, and they are hungry for our food as well.”
And below is Tereshinski’s video.