Forager is an Indie Game that I really adored and praised in the past. I even recommended the game in a review a while ago but the game got updated and had a lot of tweaks to it… and eventually multiplayer got announced, which seemed rather promising… but just recently it got cancelled due to a plethora of reason, which is why I wanted to make a post about Forager, Hopfrog and the many issues that became more apparent now.
Forager always was sort of grindy. You need experience, materials, and money, but the relaxed nature of the game allowed it to make the grind-heavy mechanics never feel too bad and rather enjoyable. The grind eventually made the bright moments even brighter and it was a nice experience to dive into from time to time. The issues that the game has, however, are that certain updates made it worse and worse over time. The combat update was great but monsters became annoying later on and mods broke the game completely, despite mod-support being a thing. The multiplayer update, while announced a while ago, had a beta that was poorly made and several issues… but then it got cancelled as Mariano aka HopFrog mentioned on Patreon.
Initially, I thought that HopFrog/Mariano was the only developer that was working on the game. There was a free alpha ages ago and I remember the newsletter stating that he was the only developer for the game. He apparently made it in two weeks and it looked promising and I liked the demo and played it a lot and even subscribed to the newsletter that kept me up-to-date about the state of the game. Eventually, I found out that he hired a bunch of programmers and an artist that did all of the art without getting credited… And well, more stuff came out about him that is somewhat problematic. Usually, I’d think that it’s a “they said, he said” situation but… his message on Patreon (linked above) bothered me a whole lot.
Even if all the people on the team were only hired, it’s just bad manners of him as the lead developer to sit back for two years and not work on the game at all before cutting everyone off, claiming that they ran off with his money and quit on their own, and just blaming the quality to drop because of their work. Mariano claims that he’s not a programmer and that he left the work to people that know what they’re doing, yet he blames them completely for “creating poor updates” and basically ruining the game when he as a lead developer and founder should be the first one to blame in that case. You know that thing about the captain sinking with the ship? Well, Mariano just sat back and let the ship sink while refusing to pay people on time, refusing to respond to their messages, effectively ghosting them, kicking people from the mod/dev team for “mental issues” after they come out as trans, letting others do his work while awaiting his own paycheck from Game Sales and the Patreon, before eventually taking the only lifeboat of the ship. And this may seem like me dunking on him but it honestly, just pisses me off that he phrases things that way in his Patreon post and just ignoring everything that got discussed and posted on Twitter. The official Hopfrog Twitter account is gone as well…
One of the programmers of Forager, Vadim aka YellowAfterlife, posted a lovely post over here reviewing the announcement and how it could come to this. Vadim shared that on the Steam Boards, too, but got banned permanently from the Forager Hub for “breaking the Code of Conduct”… although he never insulted or attacked the mods or devs in his post. Simply put, Mariano is going for damage control: He’s deleted the Twitter Account, banned all discussions on the matter on the Forager Hub, didn’t respond to my e-mail on a statement (yet!), and won’t say anything on Discord, going as far as deleting the questions channel. I only found out about Vadim’s post through Gaziter’s tweet here.
Anyways, usually, I wouldn’t take information like that and allegations without a lot of proof at face value but Vadim and the others give a lot of information on this while Mariano doesn’t do anything like that, at all. Mariano phrased the post very poorly for sure and initially, I just figured that it may not be ill-willed but after hearing him say himself that he didn’t work on the game in two years, it got me fuming… and then that stuff came up when I was looking for an official statement or something, and at this stage, I just believe the allegations rather than Mariano’s attempt to make himself the victim here (“they quit and took all my money”).
Figured I should post about this since not enough people know about all of this and I’d love it if people could discuss it here or share opinions or maybe even go and support the people that have been affected by Mariano. I’ll also add a note to my review. Mariano ends up blaming the whole team that he himself hired for the “lack of quality” while saying that he is no programmer, especially as all of these people have been known for working on some very great projects before.
What do you think about the situation? Any thoughts on Mariano’s wording in particular? Let me know!