Two Forager developers have accused the game's creator of proverbially throwing them under the bus in a Patreon post about the game's multiplayer being canceled, which prompted them to speak out publicly about issues the game has had behind the scenes.
Forager is a game that takes the collection and crafting mechanics of many modern experiences and distills it down to a simple formula. Unfortunately, it was originally launched as a single-player game with plans for multiplayer to come later. The Forager multiplayer update was eventually canceled and the post announcing the cancellation has led to two of the developers hired to work on the project to speak out about it along with a response from the game's creator Mariano "HopFrog" Cavallero.
Forager Developers Detail Disorganization and Low Pay
The first of the Forager developers to speak up was Vadim of YellowAfterlife, a programmer who specializes in fixing code in games that might not be in the best of condition. Forager was exactly one such situation, but what happened throughout development has turned out to be a bit of a mystery.
According to a lengthy blog post from Vadim, Forager went through at least four separate programmers following its launch, one after another. Vadim was the third of four programmers and he claims that he was suddenly removed from a development position late in the summer of 2020 after asking for a written contract. Vadim further says that several other developers who worked on the project reached out to him with similar stories, and he further claims that posting this blog post on the game's Steam Community discussions resulted in it being removed and his account being banned from those forums.
Vadim explains that the Forager developers found themselves in the midst of a somewhat unusual work environment that wasn't in line with what would normally be expected for the industry. Programmers weren't informed of people joining or leaving the team and several questions are raised, including why the game's creator didn't simply bring on the mobile port developer Blitworks to assist with the venture or audit the existing codebase.
Vadim wasn't the only one of the Forager developers to speak out; the main artist Gaziter detailed some issues of his own on Twitter.
"As the main artist who worked forager from the start up until release I also had a very bad experience with the main developer. After the release (when the game was already a success) I was offered to keep working on it for under minimum wage. I left right away.
[And] I heard other stories too from every person who worked with him [...] for now I've deleted the 'worked on [Forager]' from my bio and I longer want to be associated with it[.]"
Gaziter further clarifies that the pay was actually "just a little bit above minimum wage." These problems were apparently not restricted to employees; a community moderator claims to have been un-modded and kicked for "mental issues" after coming out as transgender.
Unfortunately, it's difficult to get an entirely clear picture of the situation. Vazim notes that NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreements) are the industry standard, so there's probably a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that we'll never hear about (whether good or bad). Vazim also accuses HopFrog of deleting any negative discussion of the multiplayer cancellation from the Steam Community forums or Discord, but that's not something that can be easily verified without actually being a moderator on the Steam Community forums.
Forager Creator HopFrog Responds and Apologizes
Following these posts from Forager developers, the game's creator Mariano "HopFrog" Cavallero has edited the Patreon post about multiplayer being canceled with a response. Here is his statement in full:
"I realize that when I originally posted this I made it sound like it was my team's fault that the update didn't come to fruition, or that the quality of the game had dropped in some areas over the years. I recognize I was just emotional and lashing out, and the truth is that this was only MY fault. Everyone that has ever worked on Forager has been very nice, supportive, and hard-working. I have always had tons of respect for them and wished them the best of luck in all their endeavors. If things didn't work out it's only because I personally failed to lead them (truth is, I am not a leader/manager/boss guy, I just like making small games on my own). So please don't blame the fine folks that have worked on Forager over the years! This is exclusively my own fault and I am proud to own up to it."
This Patreon post has also been edited, removing a fair amount of text when compared against an earlier version. Most of the removed text focuses on complaints that Cavallero had about the state of the game at the time of the multiplayer's cancellation, aspects that many interpreted as him tossing the developers under the bus.
Essentially, it seems that the original announcement of multiplayer being canceled (including many of HopFrog's complaints about other issues) came off as accusing the hired developers of poor work, leading some of them to publicly respond about the situation. This, in turn, caused Cavallero to address their issues and take sole blame for the whole mess.
For now, HopFrog appears to have deleted his Twitter and he's not commenting publicly on the situation other than the above statement posted to Patreon. For now, he's working on another "Forager-related game" as his next project with the possibility of a sequel down the road.
What do you think of the stories told by Forager developers about working with HopFrog on the game? Let us know in the comments below!