I can't blame you if you've never heard of Infinity: The Quest For Earth. The Elite-inspired space sim with a focus on procedural content and sophisticated planet generation has been in development since at least 2006, though it was clearly being worked on years before that. The project's most impressive aspect was that it was being crafted by a single developer, Flavien Brebion. Unfortunately, eight years later the game doesn't look close to being finished — in fact, it's not even going to be the same game.
The best modern comparison I can make is to Josh Parnell, the one-man machine currently working on the gorgeous Limit Theory. Parnell's different in that he's got some Kickstarter funding under his belt and he's been very good about posting regular updates. Brebion did post screenshots, technical blogs and was more than happy to be interviewed — I did myself when I was working at Atomic — but for the most part, Brebion's priority wasn't to push out regular builds. Early Access wasn't a thing and no game really did the frequent beta release thing that seems almost universal now.
The last video on the company's YouTube channel is from 11 months ago. Well, it was until today, when the developer — now a company called I-Novae Studios — published a clip showing off the game's planetary ring technology. The problem is this would have been impressive 10 years ago — heck, even five years ago we'd be picking up jaws from floors — but with Star Citizen and Elite in the wings, we've had more than enough pretty space visuals to last us a lifetime and unfortunately for Infinity, the video, while stunning, looks like old news, regardless of the awesomeness that might be going on under the hood.
There's also Hello Games' No Man's Sky, which is pretty much what Infinity was going to be, minus the MMO element.
If you check out the official website, you start to get an understanding of the transformation the game has made. At the start of the year, there was talk of getting a Kickstarter going in 2014, but we're a solid week into November and nothing has really transpired. The site itself doesn't scream "game", as much as it does "technology". There's a prominent link on the front page that says "View Our Engine", along with a bunch of sliding images showing off the admittedly delicious planets the tech is able to produce.
As for the game part — it's a link off to the side at the top that says "Infinity: Battlescape". And it's not for the Infinity talked about all those years ago, it's a title of smaller proportions after "it became apparent to us that we needed to reduce the scope of our ambitions in the near term so that we could release a product."
And you know, that's totally fine. I'd hate to work on something that was never released (actually, I have, but that's a story for another time), and Infinity's original premise was ridiculously massive for one man. The developer has grown to nine people now, so with the design of the game cut down to size, it's possible it might eventually release something.
Infinity is a good lesson for aspiring game developers keen to make their own epic title as their first project — sometimes it's better to start off small. Very small.
I-Novae Studios [Official site]