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Paranautical Activity devs fight players over cancelled co-op; insist FPS “not abandoned”

Paranautical Activity devs Code Avarice name Doom and Quake as their key influences.

Paranautical Activity does for Quake what Spelunky did for platformers and NetHack did for word-processing – tie the game to the procedurally-generated chaos we like to call roguelike.

It’s out on Steam Early Access in what its developers call “extremely functional beta form”. But the cancellation of a long-awaited co-op mode has its developers fighting their own community.

In September, developers Code Avarice reported the “dreaded” co-op mode was “coming along pretty well” – and the game’s Steam store page still advertises a plan to “add multiplayer co-op in the very near future”.

The multiplayer patch was delayed beyond its intended release date of February 14, however, and has since been cancelled due to a netcode-related issue.

“We apologize for our failure to make co-op a reality,” wrote developer Travis Pfenning this afternoon. “Sorry to those who purchased this game under the guise of the fact it will be multiplayer. We just couldn’t rebuild the entire game to make this happen, there is only two of us.”

The dev team are satisfied they’ve fulfilled the goals they laid out in their Kickstarter project last year. Two more bug-focused patches are planned before they move on to new projects.

“If this is upsetting, we apologize,” said Pfenning. “Regardless, it is getting a couple more patches and it is FINISHED! DONE! COMPLETE! Lets hope no one out there has a problem with any of these words to describe the FINALITY of this game. Notice the word ‘abandoned’ wasn’t used.”

Some community members were riled by comments made by Pfenning on Twitter, in which he labelled a complaining follower a “fuck head”. In his defence, the developer said that his anger was prompted by personal attacks on his development partner, Mike Maulbeck, and his girlfriend – and that “personal attacks deserve personal attacks”.

On the Code Avarice blog, Pfenning mentions Twitter harassment dating back until at least March – which seems to stem from a ludicrous work pace the two-man dev team weren’t able to sustain in the long-run.

It’s a mess – and the second time Steam Early Access developers have come under attack this week. Is there something wrong with the model, do you think, or are these isolated cases?