Proton Pulse Rift Canceled, Kickstarter Backers Fully Refunded

proton-pulse-rift-kickstarter-cancelation

There’s some unfortunate news to share today—developer Pushy Pixels of Proton Pulse Rift has announced that further development of the highly regarded Oculus Rift demo has been canceled.

Proton Pulse was an early and well regarded Oculus Rift demo. The demo is most easily described as a 3D/VR version of Breakout Thanks to its simple gameplay, which is controlled only by head movements, Proton Pulse has been the go-to demo for me and many others to get new users (especially non-gamers) familiar with the world of virtual reality.

Developer Pushy Pixels wanted to expand the demo into a full fledged Oculus Rift title and took the project to Kickstarter as Proton Pulse Rift. The project was enthusiastically received by the VR community which helped Pushy Pixels raise $7,099 (236% of its $3,000 goal).

On Monday, Pushy Pixels put out an update on the Kickstarter page announcing that Proton Pulse Rift has been canceled due to “unforeseen consequences.” Pushy Pixels has fully refunded all Kickstarter backers; an admirable decision, especially considering that the developer had to cover Kickstarter’s 5% fee of ~$350 to make sure backers got fully refunded.

You can read the full announcement of the cancellation here:

I would like to begin by expressing my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who supported me, both financially and with encouragement and excitement, over the course of making Proton Pulse into a full-fledged game for the enthusiast VR Community. VR has long been a passion of mine, and the opportunity to make my own game in a VR medium was a thrill for me. What started out as an experiment to sate my own interest turned into a demo, and then promised to be something much more. The fact that other like-minded individuals were excited about it was a wonderful encouragement and kept me working long nights, despite having a full-time day-job and a family.

Eventually, it was no longer just something I was doing for myself, but something I wanted to do for all of you as well. Making something great for all of you who cheered me on, that kept me going. However, If I’ve learned anything about game development, it’s that not everything is predictable. The dynamics of developing Proton Pulse has changed for several reasons and I am unable to continue development of the game.

And so, it is with deep regret and sadness that I write to you all today with the unfortunate notice that this project is coming to an end. All payments to the kickstarter have been refunded in full. I wish deeply that I could give you more than simply returning your money.

It would seem that the developer is unable to talk about specifics regarding the cancellation of Proton Pulse Rift. This could allude to unfortunate personal matters or legal pressure from rights holders (related: Wikipedia actually has an entire ‘Breakout clone‘ page which categorizes games based on Breakout) . The Proton Pulse demo appears to have been removed, which makes me think the latter is more likely. The demo was distributed for free prior to its removal so it will likely remain available through unofficial sources.

Regardless of the reason, I think I speak for most when I say it’s unfortunate to see this project bite the dust. Hopefully this isn’t the end for Pushy Pixels.

Comments

  1. Mageoftheyear says

    :(

    Now I’m really sad, I was so looking forward to this game. I can’t begin to express how pissed of I’d be if this were for “violation of IP” bull. Proton Pulse was its own game with its own vision and it deserved a place on our hard-drives!… Sorry, but this kind of crap really gets to me.

    If it was for personal reasons… hey, life gets in the way sometimes, I’m not angry about the cancellation and above all I hope the devs came out with their sanity an integrity in check. That last one has already been fulfilled.

    Also, because the pledges were refunded before the update I was no longer privy to the update, so thank you for bringing this to our attention Ben.

    • Mageoftheyear says

      After reading a few more posts on various threads I have come away with an acute suspicion that this really was a matter of a cease & desist threat. To the cowards behind this I say SHAME ON YOU!!!
      What right do you have to intrude upon a dream!? If this property belonged to you what were you doing with it? Where are the risks you took? Where is the innovation you charted? Where is the passion you spread? Where is the community that you engaged and that encouraged you?

      You are not owners, you are thieves! Hide behind your ivory-tower dwelling lawyers while you can.
      If you think they can protect you from the consumer backlash once this information is leaked (not “if” – *once*) then you’re even bigger fools than you are cowards. And make no mistake, you are cowards if you regard one tiny studio as a threat to your capital for touching a GENRE of game.

      Perhaps you’d like to convince Electronic Arts to sue Chris Roberts & Cloud Imperium for creating Star Citizen? It does after all draw inspiration from Wing Commander and Privateer. But I suppose facing down nearly 1/3rd of a million backers is a little out of the league of vultures like yourself. I was a modest backer of Proton Pulse before this, if Pushy Pixels decides to pursue legal action against you that modesty will decrease. I will also be posting this story to the Star Citizen forums to spread the word.

      This sham is not something this community will let die quietly in the night. This VR community is a COMMUNITY, and should your identity and motives ever become known… god help you if you think you’ll be a part of the VR revolution and the generations to follow.

      We are the roots and we will not forget salt you threw on this field.
      You have been warned.

  2. Karl Krantz says

    I’m really sad about this. Proton Pulse is usually one of the first demos I show to people who are new to VR.

    But, I would much rather they kept my money and gave us a straight answer about what happened (or is happening.) I already received plenty of value out of my pledge.

    Since there is no reason given, I can only speculate, but It’s really hard to imagine any kind of legitimate IP claim that couldn’t be resolved by some simple change.

    I understand not everyone wants to “take a stand” and fight back, but when a company uses bogus IP threats to stifle innovation the only thing people without deep pockets and big legal teams can do is to make the injustice public and shame the company involved. Hiding the behavior encourages them and means more developers will suffer down the road.

    My other concern is that perhaps there is some type IP/patent claim going on here that will effect other VR developers. If that’s the case we really do need to know about as a community in order to fight back. Again, without the facts, it’s easy to make wild assumptions, which is why not knowing is worse. It could just be that the developer is busy with other projects.

  3. 3Dmon says

    This is very disappointing news. At such an early stage of the VR movement one of it’s brightest developers is unable to release what in my opinion was a breakthrough VR title. I had much fun playing the demo and was looking forward to the full version. Hopefully if fate allows it will be released.

  4. jmccorm says

    This game was so good that I actually wanted to see it as a default title that was shipped with the Oculus Rift.

    It was simple to understand, and despite being massively “90′s VR trippy”, it was easy on the eyes (that’s an important factor for a default title). Perhaps it isn’t what we’d think of as a 2010′s VR experience, but it did a great job helping people get their VR legs.

    You know what, I’m not even talking about the game. The game itself was lots of fun and the style choices made in the visuals and the arcade sounds (as well as the great music) really added to it. It is a very nice game and it is going to remain right where it is on my solid state drive. I really wanted to experience that final product.

    Obviously, I’m really sorry to see that the Kickstarter has been cancelled. Despite my being unexpectedly strapped for cash at the moment, I’d gladly reinvest that $128 to proudly to put my name into the credits and to support this project. If there is some way I can assist the developers, please let me know.

    Josh McCormick

  5. Alexis says

    Such a shame! I love this game. One of my favorites. Simple, yet totally enjoyable, and it really shows off the rift’s effects. Great demo to show a first time user. I was really hoping to see a full version with more features. I love the trippy visuals and music. Best light show I could ever hope to have in my own home.
    Thanks for all the hard work that you put in.

  6. Soleya Williams says

    I have a strong feeling that Pushy Pixels was not only forced to stop development, but also received a gag-order under pressure from the company that threatened him to avoid a negative backlash from the public.

    We all have a right to know know happened or at the very least Pushy Pixels should be able to tell what happened so we can all be mad at the company that killed this creative initiative and potentially great publicity for VR gaming.

    Just give us a name Pushy Pixels!

  7. JonOakes says

    First off, I’m sorry to see this game stop. I had thought that this would be one of the leading VR games for next year because it’s so accessible and not nausea inducing. It works great, just as it is in the current demo.

    It was a great concept in ringing in a new genre of gaming into not only a new dimension but a VR experience. I also appreciate how PP is really active in the community, with ‘Cooking With Unity’ and posts all over every VR and dev board I’ve seen. Very generous with knowledge and experiences. The strange absence of details here is troubling.

    It’s a big assumption to say it’s a legal issue, but, it sure feels like it. If that is the case, a gag order can be fought and SHOULD be fought. I would say that the backers have some standing against whoever is issuing the gag order since it is their actions impacting us.

    Also, as a small developer myself, I feel it is important to challenge legal threats because, especially when it comes to VR, it’s a new arena and the established business entities will want to squash competition wherever possible.

    Now, it could be something completely different, just for example… a legal battle between founders/owners of PushyPixels or whatever (I’m NOT SAYING THAT IT IS, just as an example..) in which case nothing further will be said I’m sure and that’s just life. BUT if it’s a 3rd party threatening civil liability AND forcing you to not disclose the nature of the claims, that stinks and should be fought. I’m willing to (modestly) back you on it.

    Lastly, if it’s not a legal issue and just normal project mismanagement (which I find hard to believe given the progress, their experience and the community response) then, please share. The benefit of your lessons learned will be valuable to all and help others avoid them.

    Short version; this is not right…and something seems inconsistent with the way PP has engaged with the community so far. I, for one, would be willing to chip in more dollars to fight it if the cause is just (as in fighting a 3rd party over some B.S. DMCA claim)

  8. Fuzzy says

    I was deeply saddened when I found out this game had been cancelled as I believe it to be one of THE most fun and playable games written for the rift so far.

    It’s usually the first thing I fire up to show people when they look at this ‘weird black box’ and go “So what is it? Is it just a screen in there?” then when they find themselves moving the bat with their heads they just go “Wow!” before going quiet and enjoying the game, ducking and weaving their heads all over the place with a silly grin on their faces.

    A friend and I have been taking our Oculus Rift units around to conferences and setting them up to demo them to anyone that cared to try – most often there was a queue of people, and even when we tried to vary the demos to give a broad view of what the rift has to offer, people would sit through the rollercoaster, or wander around a 3D landscape then go “Nice… Yeah… but can I just have a quick go at the bat and ball game I saw someone playing earlier?”. Some people would be coming back and queuing up again just to have another go!

    I really hope we can see some *good* resolution to this, it’d be so sad to see this entire project buried, whatever the reasons – if it is personal reasons then I offer my heartfelt good wishes and hope things can calm down enough to maybe pick the project up again at a later date. If it’s a copyright/IP claim or whatever then… well… ‘grr’ doesn’t really cover it, but I’m not going to start swearing and ranting in here – as a first post on this site it’d be rather rude of me (yes – I felt so strongly about this game being stopped that I created an account just to be able to post my feelings here).

    PushyPixels – please try to find some way to get this game back out to us – even if it’ll cost us double what we all originally pledged… it’d be SO worth it! You have my full support in this, and I’m going to be keeping an eye out for any progress or news that might get mentioned. I’m still quite shocked that it was dropped… I was so looking forward to the multiplayer update…

  9. WormSlayer says

    Also disappointed to see this great game canceled, it’s long been one of my go-to games when I demo my Rift to newbies :(

    I guess we’ll always have the 1.1 Kickstarter beta

  10. EdZ says

    The demo alone was massive fun, I’d be sad to see it not going any further.

    To add to the speculation, it may not be a “you’re infringing our IP!” issue but a “we own any code you write!” employment clause, which are a real pain to fight.

  11. AngryBadger says

    Gutted to hear this, the dev seems like a stand up guy and has done the right thing here in refunding everyone. I really hope he resurects this project in future so we can support him again.

  12. inworlder says

    This is truly a shame for everyone involved in the new VR community. Proton Pulse was a phenomenal exploration of how VR feels to initiates just discovering the massive potential of virtual reality and human media immersion. We at ENTERMETA hope this ending of the Proton Pulse Rift project does not also mean the end of Pushy Pixels. Even as a very small group, you impressed us all and already made your mark in our industry. No one will ever take that away from you. If, in fact, this is an IP issue, please dust yourselves off and go forward with a new concept. We will back your next campaign. Or we welcome you to join our team or one of the other exciting studios that are proudly planting their flags in the VR/AR future. The point is that, in whatever form you choose, your talent should definitely live on. Thanks for everything.

  13. goettel says

    This came totally out of the blue, for me, and it’s sad news indeed. Proton Pulse was (and is) the first Rift-specific GAME, as opposed to demo, that made complete sense to me: easy to grasp, great fun to play, with a promising potential for more challenging levels down the line.

    If it is an IP claim, as is suggested here, it’s a crying shame and one in a long line of examples of why the possibility to deadlock IP for many years hurts everyone except potentially a handful of shareholder-types.

    If there’s any way to continue the game I’ll back it again. At least the demo is save and sound on a disk, so the idea lives on.

    Thanks for your hard work, it was a fun ride on this end keeping up with its early progress, and I hope you’ve gained something from the process too. Good luck!

  14. Eric Cranston says

    Proton Pulse was the first game for the Oculus Rift that made me realize how the Rift will be able to spawn new genres of games. I was amazed at how intuitive the interaction felt. I thought it would make a good intro game to introduce people to virtual reality since the interaction style caused very little if any VR sickness.

    Thanks for your hard work!

  15. David says

    Gutted! This was one of my favourite games for the Rift. I found it was a perfect introduction to any new VR user, and they always seemed to love it!
    I’ll definitely continue to use the demo, and really hope that at some point the game can be completed.

  16. Netwired says

    It makes me sad to see such a great VR creator held back. Proton Pulse is always the First demo I show new users to VR. I have played through every version that has been released numerous times, and was really looking forward to the release.

    I am not the highest backer, but I completely agree with some of the other comments by says I have gotten well over the value of the amount I pledged to the Kickstarter and would be more than willing to give it right back to Proton Pulse.

    This game Needs to happen, and should be part of the initial release of the Oculus Rift!!!!

    I don’t know if its a life issue or a legal issue that caused the cancellation, but I hope that it all works out in your favor in the end. You are a great VR dev and should be treated as such.

  17. Chris says

    I hope someone finds out the reason behind this shameful act. That way, we can properly boycott whatever company is behind halting the production of a unique title. I don’t care if the whole ball-bouncing-off-a-pallet-to-break-bricks has been done before. It’s a new, different game, done in a new and different format, with a new input style.

    Personally, I’d like to support the developer regardless of the game coming to fruition – just as a valued member of the VR community for all his contributions. I hope whatever these shady issues are do not destroy his company or his personal life, and that his passion for VR continues and we see more down the line.

    Proton Pulse is one of the best demo’s to show off the rift to people – no motion sickness, simple to understand and enjoy, and most people who tried it had trouble taking it off.

  18. Jim says

    This was really one of the more promising game demos that I have played. I was definitely looking forward to the full game’s release.

    It is truly unfortunate that the development and kickstarter had to come to an end suspiciously. It smells like a legal settlement with a gag order to me. It would really be a shame if that were the case since there is no real basis for action against the developer. Block breaking games are a dime a dozen and they aren’t disappearing from the net with evasive language.

    It is quite remarkable that the developer chose to refund people fully, even while personally refunding the kickstarter fees. That’s not even taking into account that the funds were probably supposed to fiance the dev’s living expenses while working on the game. It really shows that the developer is truly an honest, upstanding individual.

  19. Mageoftheyear says

    After reading a few more posts on various threads I have come away with an acute suspicion that this really was a matter of a cease & desist threat. To the cowards behind this I say SHAME ON YOU!!!
    What right do you have to intrude upon a dream!? If this property belonged to you what were you doing with it? Where are the risks you took? Where is the innovation you charted? Where is the passion you spread? Where is the community that you engaged and that encouraged you?

    You are not owners, you are thieves! Hide behind your ivory-tower dwelling lawyers while you can.
    If you think they can protect you from the consumer backlash once this information is leaked (not “if” – *once*) then you’re even bigger fools than you are cowards. And make no mistake, you are cowards if you regard one tiny studio as a threat to your capital for touching a GENRE of game.

    Perhaps you’d like to convince Electronic Arts to sue Chris Roberts & Cloud Imperium for creating Star Citizen? It does after all draw inspiration from Wing Commander and Privateer. But I suppose facing down nearly 1/3rd of a million backers is a little out of the league of vultures like yourself. I was a modest backer of Proton Pulse before this, if Pushy Pixels decides to pursue legal action against you that modesty will decrease. I will also be posting this story to the Star Citizen forums to spread the word.

    This sham is not something this community will let die quietly in the night. This VR community is a COMMUNITY, and should your identity and motives ever become known… god help you if you think you’ll be a part of the VR revolution and the generations to follow.

    We are the roots and we will not forget salt you threw on this field.
    You have been warned.

  20. alekki says

    I’m very sorry to hear this. Proton Pulse was one of my favorite early VR experiences and I was really looking forward to the full game. I think PP was more than just a great demo: it convinced everyone that even more traditional, arcadey games can work extremely well in VR.

  21. Oliver says

    Oh dear lord, really?! I mean the breakout game concept is so widely used already, it’s hillarious to have a copyright on something like that. This is insane. The company behind that has to be found out and a shitstorm of epic proportions should be unleashed for such a behaviour…

    Sometimes the world is a sad, sad place.

  22. Daan Kortenbach says

    All speculation aside, this is very sad news. I wish Pushy Pixels all the best with regaining confidence to start a new project. You obviously have the talent, keep on working, setbacks are only temporary.

  23. Jademalo says

    This is a massive, massive shame =[

    Proton Pulse Rift was already my go-to demo when showing people the rift, and there was so much promise in what could come of it post kickstarter. If the rumours are true, then I think it’s a damn shame that seemingly already the fledgeling VR scene is being beaten down by overbearing and far too broad copyright laws.

    I wish them good luck in the future, and I’ll most certainly be pledging if they do another KS regardless of what it might be.

  24. roger essig says

    This was one of the best VR experiences I’ve had, I loved the demo, and was really excited when the kickstarter was funded. I do hope this comes out eventually in whatever form it needs to. For whatever reason this has been cancelled, it showed thousands of us the value of such a game.

  25. Chris W. Morris says

    The “Proton Pulse” demo is exciting & unique.. still one of the BEST!! People who never play games love it! It’s a highly effective Virtual Reality gaming experience, and one of the first I enjoy showing people. It’s also a comfortable environment with fluid head tracking control. I backed this project, and hope it’s development will continue in the future! Best Wishes.

  26. Matthew Ewer says

    A terrible shame. It’s the only game I’ve played on the Rift that didn’t make me extremely nauseous, and it was a pretty good game in its own right. The soundtrack was good, and just the view of space and planets behind the player was the first and best of my moments of “AAAAH HOLY COW” with the Rift.

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