Descendent Studios, the studio behind Descent (2019) AKA Descent: Underground is still experiencing troubles with its publisher Little Orbit. This is according to multiple posts over the past few months on the game's Discord by director Eric "Wingman" Peterson. "Essentially our contract got breached, and now we are trying to unwind it and get the game to market..."
For those who aren't familiar with the game. Descent: Underground is a reboot/prequel of the classic PC shooter that coined the term "Six degrees of freedom" due to its revolutionary at the time movement mechanics. Descent: Underground was a Kickstarter success back in April 2015, raising over $600,000 and exceeding expectations. While a vertical slice of the game itself has been available to download and play, its never been properly released. Earlier this year its multiplayer servers were shut down and as usual with these things people began to assume the worst, but that may not be the case here, although there isn't good news. According to Peterson "Two years ago our top paid employee made 24k, if this falls completely apart, it will suck, but no one scammed or stole anything."
Descent has been completed for quite some time according to Peterson. "It is literally done, just needs a good open beta period to iron out confit issues and gameplay imbalance, but we can’t self publish without getting the rights to do it, and so far LO (Little Orbit) is not letting us seek another pub or publish ourselves." It seems that because the game's publisher Little Orbit is holding the game back from release, it's bleeding the development team dry. While it's not confirmed by Little Orbit, Peterson states that the development of the game has been in limbo, due to a revolving cast of producers, lack of marketing, massive gameplay changes, and the decision to scrap major aspects of the game in favor of a more arcade-like experience.
"they constantly asked for changes - they didn't understand the project or market -..."Peterson goes on to explain the reasons why the game has failed to release and the frustrations of not being able to properly explain to people that they aren't scamming backers out of money. " if this falls completely apart, it will suck, but no one scammed or stole anything." According to him, Little Orbit may be holding out on releasing the game because they want full control of the IP and that they have turned down offers to buy out Descendent Studios or release a separate arcade edition while the studio releases a traditional edition called Descent - Hardcore. An interesting thing to note here is that while Descendent Studios has 100% control of the IP, Little Orbit has the game tied down with a publishing dispute. Interplay has reached out to try to help get the game to the public, but as of now, that's still an ongoing situation. If you want to read the entire posting history for yourself you can do so here.
As of the time of writing the game's official website is down and the servers that were running for the Early Access version, Descent Underground, are also down. The game's Steam page is also currently down, but that's due to Descendent Studios wanting it down until the release of the game's single-player portion.
While there hasn't been any official statement from Little Orbit about the status of the game, TechRaptor has reached out for further comment. We have also reached out to Descendent Studios for more information. We will keep you updated as this story progresses.
Update: After reaching out to Little Orbit we were informed that they're "unable to provide any official comment on Eric Peterson’s statements at this time" but will reach back out to us when they are able to
Update 2: When being asked on the current status of the game and for more information on Peterson's comments Descent Studios gave TechRaptor the following response:
The game is pretty much done. We are trying to work out an equitable deal with the publisher to finish it completely and get it on all the platforms - Stay tuned for more news.It seems that both sides are actively working towards a conclusion to this friction. What that solution may be or when we'll hear about it is completely unknown in the meantime.