Mystery Flesh Pit National Park is a fiction project by Trevor Roberts, who having started on Reddit, has for the past few years has been posting stories and artwork to his website, fleshing out (sorry) the tale of a huge creature that is discovered underground in Texas and…turned into a tourist attraction.
It’s a very cool pitch, like some kind of Lovecraftian Jurassic Park, full of absurdity but also abject horror, and it has slowly been picking up enough fans that it has been covered on sites like USA Today. Given the success of the project, and the fact that Roberts has built more of a detailed diorama of a world than a linear story, a video game adaptation must have seemed to a lot of people like a really good idea.
So last week Roberts announced that, courtesy of Village Fox Media, a Mystery Flesh Pit video game would be going into development, and would be seeking its funding on Kickstarter. Billed as a “survival horror video game for PC,” it would centre around the efforts of a crew tasked with helping the Park recover from a disaster—remember, it’s inside a giant beast—that kills 750 people.
A week later, the Kickstarter—which was very light on demonstrations or detailed information on development—has been binned, with Roberts saying the decision was made after a combination of “fan feedback, a fumbled marketing push, internal disputes, and some deep introspection.” Specifically, it seems the process of handing off work on the game to other people…did not go well, with Roberts since writing (emphasis mine):
To those who were looking forward to a videogame, I apologize. Most people do not fully appreciate what a substantial undertaking it is to produce even a modest videogame. I have personally and carefully created each and every piece of the Mystery Flesh Pit project, but something as large as a videogame is wholly beyond my scope as an individual artist. When I am not the one directly responsible for overseeing its creation, I cannot ensure its quality. After this experience I can firmly state that there will be no endorsed videogame adaptions of the Mystery Flesh Pit as long as I am alive.
I sincerely hope that by cancelling this overly-ambitious Kickstarter campaign I have avoided what could have been a rushed and inferior gaming experience at best, and an unmitigated disaster at worst. It is also my hope that my decision to endorse this particular Kickstarter does not harm or hinder the superior work of other credible, talented creators that are and have been working hard behind-the-scenes to bring you a Mystery Flesh Pit Tabletop Gaming Experience late in 2023.
“I have no hard feelings towards the developers,” Roberts tells me. “It was a mutual decision in the end to cancel it. I think they were a little bit too ambitious, and I had a moment of clarity where I saw the disaster this was going to become for all involved. I think I did the right thing.” However, he did roll back slightly on his previous statement. “For the record, I have always been and continue to be wholly supportive of fan games. My statement about there not being a Mystery Flesh Pit videogame ever was, admittedly, a little overzealous. Fan games are awesome. I just think there are already too many games/movies/series that are poorly planned cash grabs by burnt-out creators, and I’m not about that.”
It’s refreshing to see Roberts see the writing on the wall and pull the plug like this now, and not months or years down the line—having already taken the money—like so many other doomed campaigns have done on the platform.
The tabletop adaptation, which as Roberts says is still coming, should be out early next year.