If you don't know Bear Simulator, it was released on Steam at the end of last month for £10.99, and does what it says on the tin: you play a bear, and do bear stuff.
The 144 Steam reviews to date have been mostly positive, and I had been planning to review it myself this week. It looked like a fun, tongue-in-cheek, sort of a thing.
Unfortunately, something weird has since happened. Despite its creator John Farjay managing to raise an impressive $100,571 on Kickstarter, he has now crumbled under the weight of what he describes as "drama" and "stigma", and announced that going further with Bear Simulator would be "a lost cause".
It's worth posting Farjay's Kickstarter update in full.
And here it is: "Well the game didn't have a great reception, has a stigma against its name and there's plenty of other problems so making any updates or going further is basically a lost cause now.
"Plus not skilled enough to make the game better than it currently is or write better updates than previously. Was really hoping the Steam release would go well but why would it, should have just gave the game to backers and not bother with Steam.
"Also don't want to deal with the drama anymore. Can't ignore it because that causes more drama and can't do anything about it because that causes more drama. It was really fun making the game, trailers, updates, websites, tutorials, blog posts and stuff, hopefully you all liked those things.
"Am glad most of you guys are happy with the game though, unless you were just being nice. Really must thank you for the in-depth emails and comments, learned lots. Hopefully the game lived up to your expectations and had enough content to explore.
"Will make another game update with Kickstarter Island included and some other fixes, leave a comment below of what you really want fixed. Will work on fixes and features until you're all happy and content then stop. Must be doing this PC game dev thing wrong because it is way too hard to stay happy and productive."
Am I the only one who finds that more than a little heartbreaking? Someone has an idea for a game. Enough people want to see said game to hand over more than a hundred grand. Person enjoys making said game. Person takes his toys home, because he feels attacked over said game, and can't cope.
According to Kotaku, Bear Simulator was featured in a since-removed video from YouTube gaming overlord PewDiePie.
Before it was taken down, however, 2.5 million people watched the Swedish zillionaire laying into Bear Simulator - ending his video by flipping Farjay "da bird" and demanding a refund.
Given that the game is mostly getting positive reviews - mixed in with some negatives, particularly from Kickstarter backers unhappy with Farjay's allegedly less-than-forthcoming approach to communication - it would seem that PewDiePie's video was the straw that broke the bear's back.
Inevitably, commenters have now described Farjay as a "quitter", or told him to toughen up a bit: "Welcome to development" said veteran developer Cliff Bleszinski on Twitter. Which is all well and good coming from him - he's not only one of those developers who seems to enjoy publicity, but has generally done so from within the bosom of a development team.
Some have, inevitably, criticised Farjay for taking the $100,000 and then dropping his game (which seems a little unfair: he delivered what he'd promised).
Others, however, have criticised PewDiePie's typically heavy-handed, playing-to-the-crowd, for stoking up his drones into jumping on the "Bear Simulator is shit" bandwagon. Y'know... because nothing brightens a person's day more than mindlessly making someone else feel horrible about themselves.
I've not seen the video, but for even PewDiePie to have second thoughts, it must've been bad. And you can hardly blame Farjay for wondering whether his game was worth all the effort.
It sort of gets to the heart of something I've been wrestling with for a while, and that's how to review indie games. How mean do I want to be to somebody who has never done anything mean to me?
I have no qualm with laying into, say, an Ubisoft game.
The company - like most major publishers - is big, it's robust, the teams working on those games number in the hundreds.
Often AAA games are designed to do a very specific thing, and if you're going to criticise them, then it's fair to say that the criticism will be diluted. There is strength in numbers... and marketing budgets.
When it comes to indie games, often the product of just one or two people, criticism is going to hurt all the more, and Farjay is not the first indie developer to be unable to handle the sheer intensity of focus that comes from releasing a game in this social media era.
Criticism is more direct, and as a games reviewer it's hard to know what's right. Not "what's right as a games reviewer?", but "what's right as a human being?".
Don't get me wrong: if somebody puts something on sale, then you're inviting people to judge it. If they've paid money for your product then they have every right to lay into it. It's a transaction, effectively, between individuals.
Yet it boils down to this: in a world already so full of negativity, do I, personally, want to make another person's day more negative for what would be, ultimately, minimal gain to me? Farjay clearly set out with good intentions. Does he deserve some twat giving him the finger on YouTube, just so that he can bask in the likes of his 43 million subscribers?
It seems wholly disproportionate. Does PewDiePie really need to do that? The guy never needs to work again, and yet he took the time to lay into the hard work of someone who was just trying to make a little game about a bear.
It's like me spending the weekend, I dunno... laying a driveway (as if!), and then Michael McIntyre takes the time to place an advert in The Guardian telling the world what a shit driveway it is, and that I shouldn't have bothered.
No wonder Farjay felt abushed and attacked. And I feel for him.
AMBUSH CITY LIMITS
We can all tell people to grow a pair, or man up, but at the end of the day we've all got different levels of emotional resources to draw upon. If you can't handle criticism, you can't handle criticism: that's not the person's fault. Don't criticise them further for that!
I know what it feels like to be feel attacked. When I quit being Mr Biffo in 2008 it was because I knew I had nothing left, and was worried what might have happened to me had I continued to stay. Rightly or wrongly, I felt I was being targeted, and I knew I had to get out.
My life was a bit of a mess at the time, and dealing with individuals who were seemingly doing their utmost to make an already somewhat rubbish existence even more rubbish, wasn't helping. I wasn't handling it well, because when you're already trying not to drown, and somebody comes along and holds your head under the water, the only way to react is to lash out. It's instinct.
We all go through terrible times in life, and I'm not ashamed of mine. Yet I only returned when I knew that I was in a better place personally to deal with any nonsense that came my way. Unfortunately, I learned that the hard way. Until it happened, I didn't know I lacked those resources. I didn't know how weak I was at the time. And doubtlessly, John Farjay didn't know that he wasn't going to be able to cope with the criticism when he started work on Bear Simulator.
I hope that if and when he does return he finds himself in a place where he can do what he's doing for the joy of it, and not have to worry about the opinions of idiots like PewDiePie, and his cackling legions of sycophants.
For my part, for now, I won't be reviewing Bear Simulator... but that won't stop me from reviewing Indie games in the future, partly because I think Indie games have so much to offer.
The key, for me, is to not getting personal, be respectful, treat the review as feedback, and hope that the recipient takes it as such. Cheap laughs at someone else's expense aren't necessary. Unless it's like, y'know, Peter Molyneux or someone. 'Cos he well deserves it, yeah?