“Can Star Citizen be made?”
August 25, 2017 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen by Julian Benson [Kotaku]Star Citizen’s development has been high-profile enough, expensive enough and, yes, troubled enough to spawn a whole ecosystem of theories as to what’s going on at Cloud Imperium Games, from theorising about the project’s technical challenges to wild accusations about what’s happening to the money. Various community scandals have added yet more fuel to the fire, turning Star Citizen into a lightning rod for controversy. The questions I wanted answers to were: what exactly has been happening over the past five six years? What are the reasons behind Star Citizen’s various delays, and what specific development problems has it encountered? Have things been mismanaged? And, as many Star Citizen backers are now beginning to wonder, can it ever actually be finished?”

• Why Star Citizen Is Taking So Long by Nathan Grayson [Kotaku]
“It’s a tough truth to face, for both players and Roberts himself: that Star Citizen—even after its meteoric rise to the top; even after promising all sorts of great-sounding features and a 2014 release date; even after pulling in $87.5 million—isn’t immune to the laws of inertia, gravity, and game development. The hope, of course, is that the game overcomes all that to become something great, even if it takes a little longer. But one ex-employee who worked closely with Cloud Imperium’s higher-ups is worried. “The difficult thing is [the team] can’t all have the same vision as Chris Roberts because he always is thinking five, ten, or fifteen years into the future of what people would want to experience,” that employee said. “It’s hard for 200 people to create the content Chris envisions at the quality bar that he expects. He has nothing but the [most] talented developers around him. Unfortunately, time is their enemy, and it’s hitting them hard because the community is ranting and raving about when the release of the game is coming out, rather than being understanding that this is a whole new experience. I think it’s going to fail multiple times before Chris Roberts and his team of Avengers get it right.””
• Meet the Man Behind ‘Star Citizen,’ the Most Ambitious Video Game Ever by Michael Finn [Gear Patrol]
Q: Star Citizen is a massively ambitious video game, relying totally on the support of fans’ crowdfunded dollars. There have been several release-date pushbacks and a good amount of speculation whether or not the game will deliver on its promises. Many believe Star Citizen is simply too ambitious to be realized. What do you say to these skeptics?
A: “I’m building the game that I wanted to build. There’s been a vast amount of long hours and assets just to get it here, and there’s still going to be a lot more long hours and assets to get it online. But I’m building it because it’s something that I want to play. I have no doubt in every fiber of my being that we will deliver the game that I see in my head and the game that I think will be really great, and I think my team is like-minded. In any endeavor, there’s always people who say, “It’s too ambitious. You won’t make it.” But there’s a Chinese proverb: Those who think it can’t be done should get out of the way of those who are doing it. I very much ascribe to that. If you take a look and see what we’ve shared over the years and the progress we’ve made, there’s a lot of things people said we couldn’t do that we are doing right now. We are doing some things on a scale and scope and complexity that no other game has achieved. Yes, we aren’t finished yet, and we have a lot more stuff to do.”
• Star Citizen’s production schedule made public by Owen S. Good [Polygon]
“Roberts said sharing deadlines and completion goal dates seemed to divide Star Citizen's community between one group upset that the game is continually portrayed as delayed, and another that wonders why a date would be shared if developers aren’t solidly assured it is attainable. "We have taken a lot of flak over the last couple of years for the extending timeline of Star Citizen, but the simple fact is that game development, especially game development on the scale of Star Citizen, is complicated," Roberts wrote. "If you talk to any developer that works on large titles they will tell you that schedules, especially early in the development cycle, move all the time. Most people never see this because a publisher won’t announce a project publicly until it is very far along; normally at least in Alpha, with all the technology and gameplay R&D completed."”
• Star Citizen: Building a Schedule for a Universe [YouTube]
“With the release of the 3.0 Planetary Tech production schedule, we’re sharing an inside look at the complicated process behind creating a schedule for a game of Star Citizen's scope. ”
3.0 Production Schedule Report [.png]
“Below you will find the latest roadmap for the development of the Star Citizen Persistent Universe. While the bulk of this schedule outlines our tasks and estimates that you can expect to find in the upcoming 3.0.0 patch (as well as some of the tasks that we’ve already completed), we are also including projections for the remainder of the year so you can have some visibility into the upcoming Persistent Universe features and content. These are the very same schedules we update daily and circulate internally on our intra-studio hand-offs with a few exceptions: the individual developer names assigned to the tasks will be omitted (for obvious reasons), we’ll remove the JIRA details, and we’ll modify the technical wording to make it readable for a wider audience. Also note, this schedule does not represent everything CIG is working on, but more the functionality and content we feel comfortable committing to at this time. Outside of the work on Squadron 42, we have a few research projects that, once validated, we would move into production and add to this schedule. Otherwise, when something changes, slips or is completed, you will know.”
• Star Citizen Backer Gets $2550 Refund After Attorney General of Los Angeles Gets Involved by Brendan Caldwell [Rock Papers Shotgun]
“After asserting his refund request should be honoured he received another curt rejection. Finally, he sent letters to the Attorney General of Los Angeles, the Federal Trade Commission and the LA Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, telling them about the dispute. Within a week he received the first part of his refund of $900 from Amazon Payments. Soon after he got the rest of the money ($1650) through Paypal. It’s worth reading the whole thing if you are a huge nerd for legalities and consumer rights. But basically at the heart of it all is the fact that Star Citizen recently changed its terms of service. Previously, these had said that backers would be entitled to a refund if Roberts Space Industries “has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items” after eighteen months had passed from the release date (see that archived here, under the heading ‘VII . Fundraising and Pledges’). Star Citizen’s initial release date was November 2014. This means that by now any backer who pledged under these original terms is entitled to a refund (people like Streetroller). But the developers still dispute this. Even as they finally accepted the request, they said that the backer was not legally entitled.”
• 'Star Citizen' Lumbers Into 2017 With $141 Million In Crowdfunding by Paul Tassi [Forbes][Ad Blocker Blocker]
“Forget Half-Life 3, Star Citizen is officially gaming’s most perplexing, compelling mystery release at this point. While HL3 is more a question if Valve ever feels like making video games again, Star Citizen is another animal entirely, a game that’s very publicly in development with a practically unlimited budget thanks to a never-ending army of crowdfunding backers buying virtual spaceships that either don’t exist yet, or can’t be used in a fully-fledged game. There’s perhaps no real significance to Star Citizen’s latest grand total, $141 million, other than the fact that it’s what’s now in the warchest heading into 2017. But there’s something both impressive and perverse about Star Citizen’s funding at this point. It’s raised more than the budget of most AAA games and movies at this point, and the money has almost turned into its own little mini-game. Fans “win” and get increasingly excited the more money the game brings in, somehow validating their own decision to give (invest!) and maybe give a little more. There’s an interactive widget on the RSI site that lets you see the cash come rolling in almost in real time, and you can break it down by how many thousands are rolling in per hour, tens of thousands per day, or hundreds of thousands per month.”
• Star Citizen Has a Huge Development Cost Problem by Matt Brady [Gamasutra]
“If you need a refresher, the original expected ship date for SC was 2014, but that was before the game grew exponentially in scope and raised over $156 million dollars! Today, backers are still waiting for the 3.0 Alpha release, which was scheduled for the end of 2016. And the single player spin-off of SC, Squadron 42, was initially slated for release in 2014, but it’s stuck somewhere in development hell. These massive delays have certainly provided fodder for critics, and it’s hard to blame them. When a company has taken this much money from gamers, and missed this badly on critical deadlines, it’s time to call them out. On the flipside, I understand the backers. This is the first major attempt at a well-developed space game in a very long time. People are ravenous for great titles to fill the space-themed game void, and SC hits all the right buttons for them. Beyond that, I think many backers see supporting SC as a big middle finger to many of the greedy and lazy AAA studious that have come to dominate the game space. This is a AAA game supported by gamers, for gamers, and that is truly exceptional! I’m not a backer of Star Citizen, but I’m not a fanatical critic either. In fact, even though I’m not a big fan of online multiplayer games, I would jump all over this game if it weren’t for some enormous red flags. I am merely here to present some data and fill in the gaps with some logical steps. At the end of the day, I hate seeing people get fleeced, and I know the damage that could be done to Indie crowdfunding if SC is a failure. I don’t want this game to fail, but as I’ll layout in this series of posts, it doesn’t look good.”
• Star Citizen is getting facial tracking so your character's face will talk and move with you by Hannah Dwan [PCGamesN][YouTube]
“The video above shows off the announcement, which came during the official Star Citizen Gamescom presentation. It extends to the full face, and supposedly doesn’t even require a special webcam, any old webcam will do. Gurn in real life, and you’ll gurn in-game. That said, if you do want a fancy webcam to get the most out of this technology, Faceware will be creating a special webcam to go alongside it. It captures at 60FPS and is made to work in low light (such as if the only light is coming from your monitor). Currently, the only existing versions are prototypes, and the Faceware website is overloaded with Star Citizen fans so I can't do much more research. Finally, it also introduces head tracking: tilt your head to one side, and your character and camera will do so in-game. This sounds awesome, but also - your monitor won’t move. I’m a bit confused as to how practical this might be, given you’ll then be looking away from your monitor, but hey ho, it’s interesting and technically impressive nonetheless.”
• Inside the hardcore fanbase keeping the Star Citizen dream alive by Luke Winkie [PG Gamer]
“The Star Citizen faithful have spilled into the streets. It’s a brisk, neon Friday night in Santa Monica, and The Arsenal—a bougie watering hole lit solely by the blazing primary colors of ESPN shows—can barely hold the men and women talking about comm-links, spaceships, scanning animations, and Alpha 2.6. You have not lived until you have watched eager youths tenderly step into a club, order a vodka soda, and slowly realize that for one night only, those without theoretical interstellar asteroid mining organizations are not invited. These get-togethers are colloquially known as "Bar Citizens." The Star Citizen community hosts them all the time, all over the world. It’s an easy way for the now 1.5 million backers to meet and be merry with each other across the void. Tonight’s event, however, has been officially organized by Cloud Imperium Games, and a number of developers are dotted around the floorspace, yukking it up with the fans. We’re only two days away from CitizenCon—an annual presentation of the most scrutinized unreleased game in industry history. If you’re unfamiliar with Star Citizen’s trajectory, here are the basics. It is currently the most successful crowdfunded game of all time, having raised a massive initial pledge of $6.2 million on Kickstarter back in 2012. In the years since, Cloud Imperium Games has supplemented development costs by selling in-game spacecraft for real money. Most of these are priced in the $100 range, but a few notable exceptions can cost up to $2,500. This has naturally earned the project a number of high-profile doubters, but there are many that still believe.”
posted by Fizz (85 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
No.
posted by Fizz at 5:50 PM on August 25, 2017 [16 favorites]


This is sounding a lot like the crowdfunded games' world's version of Duke Nukem Forever: a game that keeps getting redeveloped as new and improved tech comes out, because the boss is determined to make the Best Game Ever literally at any cost.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:10 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


I got up to 'Faceware' and I agree. No. That's classic feature creep. You just had to make a Wing Commander MMO Chris. I just want to be a space pirate, I don't care about face tracking.
posted by adept256 at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2017 [24 favorites]


This the third engine upgrade, right? The second time they pared down the scale of the game (star wise)? But those ships just keep churning out.

They need to release a game, but at this point I'm not convinced they even have the nuts and bolts "game" stuff in there for people to enjoy.

Star Citizen’s initial release date was November 2014.

Chuck the head of the company into the sea with his pack of yes-men.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:35 PM on August 25, 2017


Star Citizen’s initial release date was November 2014.

*sound of George R.R. Martin's laughter echoes from afar*
posted by Fizz at 6:42 PM on August 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


You can't finish a game when you haven't even decided what it is yet.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:51 PM on August 25, 2017 [17 favorites]


Roberts has a history of not being able to deliver in a timely fashion, to the point Microsoft bought his company just to get one of the products out. And, at this point, the Citizenry is so thoroughly locked in oneiric complacency the vast majority will do nothing but keep contributing money and gifts. How many KickStarter projects have custom made sliding doors and Restoration Hardware furniture? I mean, really, I am going to step away from this thread before someone gets hurt.
posted by Samizdata at 6:51 PM on August 25, 2017 [4 favorites]


At the end of the day, I hate seeing people get fleeced, and I know the damage that could be done to Indie crowdfunding if SC is a failure.

If the "damage" is that people will no longer throw $114M at a project with an initial funding goal of $500K, that's probably a good thing.
posted by aubilenon at 6:54 PM on August 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


And, I am sure, if you were to look around, my facility with the term Citizenry should signal you this is far from my first dance with Star Citizen. At this point, should I mention I think the only hope for the majority of the Citizenry is forceable deprogramming?

(Also, should I mention that one of their "security" people used to send unsolicited penile photography to female Citizens, yet got selected as "staff" due to his permanent burnt umber proboscis and ready wallet? Or that one of their featured community ship designers was (last I looked - Even my dubious sanity can't handle beyond a certain point) under arrest for multiple accounts of pedophilic activity? Or that some of their own pet streamers couldn't even resist hosing each other?)
posted by Samizdata at 6:57 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: thoroughly locked in oneiric complacency.

Also: I haven't been watching this much because it'd just make me angry. I really, really want a shiny new space MMO. I'm not interested in getting sucked into Eve, (I'm aware it's a very bad fit for my personality). I only really play Star Trek Online for the noise photon torpedoes make. Empyrion was cute, but is less and less what I want as the devs work on it. I... well, I just haven't found that perfect space game, and it's been bugging me for literally years now.

Star Citizen sounded... well, it's sounded like pie in the sky to me since I first heard about it, but knowing they're outright admitting they're spinning their wheels on that face tracking bullshit is just grar-inducing.

Upon preview:
Goddamn, Samizdata. Yikes. Glad I stayed far away.
posted by mordax at 7:00 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


Not to mention all the initial funding promises had to get pared to the MVP - "Minimum Viable Product"? Or, if you purchase virtual merchandise ships, you can choose from three types -

Flight ready - Get in it and tool around, until it either glitches out or kills you from leaving the ship.
Hangar ready - Stare at the model in your hanger which was supposed to be multiplayer, but isn't.
Concept ready - "Here's a pretty picture..."

Also, that the Master of Ships is a seriously maladjusted person who's personal website had beyond a stalker level of pictures of a local newswoman, as well as an exciting searchable database of pedophilic and racist humor?
posted by Samizdata at 7:01 PM on August 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


If the "damage" is that people will no longer throw $114M at a project with an initial funding goal of $500K, that's probably a good thing.

If that was the only damage, sure. But I see Star Citizen reinforcing the "all Kickstarters are scams" narrative, which is terrible for indie devs with modest goals who now won't be able to get their projects off the ground because Roberts' inability to say "no" soured a bunch of people on the whole idea of crowdfunding.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:04 PM on August 25, 2017 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: thoroughly locked in oneiric complacency.

Also: I haven't been watching this much because it'd just make me angry. I really, really want a shiny new space MMO. I'm not interested in getting sucked into Eve, (I'm aware it's a very bad fit for my personality). I only really play Star Trek Online for the noise photon torpedoes make. Empyrion was cute, but is less and less what I want as the devs work on it. I... well, I just haven't found that perfect space game, and it's been bugging me for literally years now.

Star Citizen sounded... well, it's sounded like pie in the sky to me since I first heard about it, but knowing they're outright admitting they're spinning their wheels on that face tracking bullshit is just grar-inducing.

Upon preview:
Goddamn, Samizdata. Yikes. Glad I stayed far away.


Oh, and that VR is a dream. Pretty much all the unskippable "immersive" animations, like getting out of bed on spawn, are tailor-made for vomit inducement in VR. But, according to CIG, it is pretty much as simple as flipping a switch.

As some of us personally engaged with this over the last couple of years have been known to say "Star Citizen... There is always more and it is always worse."

One last note. Would you trust your KS dollars to someone who's film-making career pretty much ended by being sued by Kevin Costner for never actually getting the movie made, basically?
posted by Samizdata at 7:05 PM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


If that was the only damage, sure. But I see Star Citizen reinforcing the "all Kickstarters are scams" narrative, which is terrible for indie devs with modest goals who now won't be able to get their projects off the ground because Roberts' inability to say "no" soured a bunch of people on the whole idea of crowdfunding.

That and the theme of defunding people with issues precluding saying no (I remember reading, on Reddit, I think, about people having naught but ramen to eat for weeks due to buying ships) are what really chaps my space undies.

(Of the two things that are really hotbutton "as close as I get to hate" topics I know of, one is Scientology, and the other is Star Citizen. My loathing is what I see as both of them being able to currently legally defraud damaged people of insane amounts of cash. So, if you are expecting a balanced and equitable commentary about this from me, you'd better ban me from the thread. I spent well over a year, wading through the shit in the trenches on Star Citizen.)
posted by Samizdata at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2017 [6 favorites]


Roberts has a history of not being able to deliver in a timely fashion, to the point Microsoft bought his company just to get one of the products out.

I forgot about Freelancer. Read about it's development woes.

Microsoft instructed Digital Anvil to scale down the ambitions of the project and focus on finishing the game based on what was possible and the team's strengths.[13][19] Features such as the automated flight control, conversations that had different choices of responses, and sub-quests were abandoned.

If you were a fan of Freelancer (I was), I can recommend Everspace for it's similar gameplay. You have a 3rd person view of your ship and the mouse/keyboard controls are the same. It's a single player rogue-like with procedurally generated content broken up into 5-10 minute dogfight + explore sessions. I've been having a lot of fun with it.
posted by adept256 at 7:34 PM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Freelancer was great...except for the total lack of joystick support. While Everspace looks really cool, it seems to suffer from the same problem.
Guess I'll just keep chugging along in Elite: Dangerous.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2017


A joystick wouldn't work for either game. The mouse is used to both aim and steer. You can use a gamepad but it's not recommended by the devs.
posted by adept256 at 8:19 PM on August 25, 2017


I mean if it makes anyone feel better about the "fleecing" aspect: I backed this in its original KS, at a moderately expensive level. I did so because I like what the designer has done before, and I want him to make more interesting stuff. I've mostly ignored the development, but I check in occasionally and what I see is neat. I have no bad feelings about how it's gone, and look forward to however it is it turns out.
posted by tocts at 8:20 PM on August 25, 2017


When the kickstarter was originally pitched they were targeting minimum system requirements which were nearly the top of the range of what was even readily available at the time (and no console version). As someone who hasn't owned a desktop system in more than a decade, I noped right the heck out.
posted by juv3nal at 8:23 PM on August 25, 2017


If anything that samizdata says is true, and I have no reason to doubt them, this game has been poisoned. As usual, when you're onto something good, be very careful about inviting the internet horde.
posted by adept256 at 8:26 PM on August 25, 2017


Though it would be funny if the game is finally released and it's categorised as Alternative History.
posted by adept256 at 8:32 PM on August 25, 2017


Though it would be funny if the game is finally released and it's categorised as Alternative History.

Nicely played, old son, nicely played.
posted by Samizdata at 8:35 PM on August 25, 2017


My main complaint about the game is that it somehow gets less playable every time I log in. That and every update was 25+GB and took several hours.
posted by runcibleshaw at 8:41 PM on August 25, 2017


They are still selling "game packages" at prices up to $15,000. No, really. And from what I've read paying a few hundred bucks for some virtual spaceships you can't even completely fly is not that uncommon. It's 100% predatory and wrong.
posted by Nelson at 8:48 PM on August 25, 2017 [8 favorites]


I see Star Citizen reinforcing the "all Kickstarters are scams" narrative

I feel like "crowdfunding a game is risky" is a good thing for people to be aware of, but there have been enough successful kickstarted games that that "they're all scams" thing can't really hold up. A bunch of them have even been good! (FTL, Octodad 2, Sportsfriends, Kentucky Route Zero, Shovel Knight, Undertale, Superhot, Night in the Woods). Others have failed, others are in perpetual development, and others came out but were just kind of disappointing (I'm looking at you, Armikrog), but Star Citizen's failure isn't going to stop everyone from ever crowd-funding indie games ever again.
posted by aubilenon at 8:59 PM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


That said, I'm sure most or all of the successes shipped late.
posted by aubilenon at 9:01 PM on August 25, 2017


I'm redownloading the game again, after deleting it to free up space on my HD, because I'm a masochist I guess.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:06 PM on August 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


When the KS happened, I got in at the lowest tier. My graphics card at the time couldn't even boot the alpha release. But I wasn't too concerned about that as I knew the game was a few years out and I would upgrade by then.

It's been so long that that the new graphics card that could finally run this game has also been upgraded and replaced.

All I wanted was something like Freelancer or Privateer. I lost interest once the updates seemed to be more about adding FPS features.

I feel like by the time the game finally reaches some sort of state of completion, the people like me who have pulled back and don't want to be playtesters are going to be so totally outclassed by the people who have been racing ships and fight vanduul swarms for the past half decade that there just won't be any point.
posted by thecjm at 9:09 PM on August 25, 2017


>“The difficult thing is [the team] can’t all have the same vision as Chris Roberts because he always is thinking five, ten, or fifteen years into the future of what people would want to experience,” that employee said.

Snort! No, if people are saying stuff like this, this game isn't coming out.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2017 [12 favorites]


Also, I'm afraid to spend any in-game currency that came with my KS tier or has been doled out to users since because I have no idea if it resets once they go live, or are they live now, or is it just for single player, or multiplayer, or....
posted by thecjm at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2017



>> “The difficult thing is [the team] can’t all have the same vision as Chris Roberts
>> because he always is thinking five, ten, or fifteen years into the future of what
>> people would want to experience,” that employee said.

> Snort! No, if people are saying stuff like this, this game isn't coming out.


QFT
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:30 PM on August 25, 2017


I think I gave $25 or whatever it was, back when this started. Once I saw that people were dropping hundreds and thousands of dollars on virtual space ships, I checked out. Once the game comes out, they won't be able to get people to spend this kind of money on the ships as they actually exist, so what impetus do they have to complete it?
posted by destructive cactus at 10:08 PM on August 25, 2017 [3 favorites]


Also, how do you balance a game between people who have spent more than a down payment on a car, or a car itself, on their spaceships, versus those who buy theirs with in-game currency like normal rational human beings playing a video game?
posted by destructive cactus at 10:09 PM on August 25, 2017 [9 favorites]


I build big, complex applications in a different sector entirely. Bitter experience has taught us that delivery requires pragmatism and ruthlessness around scope. You have to focus on the core system, the fundamental set of user needs.

In gaming the problem is that this is in opposition to the “necessity” of hype, especially in crowd sourced gaming.

Look at No Man's Sky for example. The user reaction upon launch was pitchforks and torches because it didn’t have planets filled with dinosaurs as promised.

Star Citizen has become trapped in development mode because this is the only way that tension can remain unresolved.

Star Citizen is exactly like Eve - the meta game is the game now.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:46 PM on August 25, 2017 [10 favorites]


There's also the fact that the guy behind Star Citizen was a prominent member of the online hate movement GamerGate, in case you were looking for yet more reasons not to spend your money on this vaporware bullshit.
posted by adrienneleigh at 11:16 PM on August 25, 2017 [14 favorites]


There's also the fact that the guy behind Star Citizen was a prominent member of the online hate movement GamerGate, in case you were looking for yet more reasons not to spend your money on this vaporware bullshit.

Well at least that means I can stop feeling bad about feeling good about them doing bad.
posted by aubilenon at 11:41 PM on August 25, 2017 [11 favorites]


Also, how do you balance a game between people who have spent more than a down payment on a car, or a car itself, on their spaceships, versus those who buy theirs with in-game currency like normal rational human beings playing a video game?

You don't. CIG has been promising with the left side of their face that it will NOT be pay to win, while the right side of their face says "Buy more! Be a cool kid! BE SPECIAL!" and the middle of their face just regularly screws up all management.

(Been hearing via the pipelines their Gamescom presentation was a nightmare of lockups and such.)

I build big, complex applications in a different sector entirely. Bitter experience has taught us that delivery requires pragmatism and ruthlessness around scope. You have to focus on the core system, the fundamental set of user needs.


To quote the Citizenry, "You obviously do NOT understand development." You just build some modules, outsource others, then layer in some middleware and third party toolkits. I mean, really, you just DON'T have any vision, do you?
posted by Samizdata at 11:41 PM on August 25, 2017


There's also the fact that the guy behind Star Citizen was a prominent member of the online hate movement GamerGate, in case you were looking for yet more reasons not to spend your money on this vaporware bullshit.

Well at least that means I can stop feeling bad about feeling good about them doing bad.


Basically splurging $150+ million dollars of backer funds on a fancy office, with custom Stanley sliding doors, multiple custom murals, Restoration Hardware furniture, multiple discarded mocap sessions ending up with Andy Serkis' The Imaginarium studios, all without actual decent core gameplay, and a $15000 coffee machine with outsourced barrista isn't enough? How about funding the VP of Marketing while she wanders off doing movie roles?

Watching this is pretty much, IMO, the definition of schadenfreude. If they would just turn around, say "Sorry. Couldn't do this.", apologize and start full refunding with the results of their liquidation then MAYBE I might not find so much malicious glee. But when their go to defense is to leverage their rabid cultist fanbase by explaining that people just REALLY don't GET the VISION, THE FIDELITY, I just want to watch it all burn.

I mean, once KS started asking uncomfortable questions, they worked with a company called Turbulent to start their OWN crowdfunding platform. For Grud's sake, they even rewrote what is basically their own Discord! All the while there is so little gameplay, even some of their most loyal streamers are sliding slowly into insanity trying to energetically pitch the same 6.45 minute gameplay loop since there is nothing left to play.

So, revel with me. Watch the madness play out before your eyes and marvel, marvel that we have seen such days that allow such to happen. Then, after that, mourn for the pain that CIG will bring to thousands of people when they are forced to face cold hard reality.

(And, FFS, don't get me started on crap like the Million Mile High Club and beyond.)

:shudders:

I've seen...such things...as to cow a Cenobite...

:stares blankly into distance as he hits Post Comment:
posted by Samizdata at 11:53 PM on August 25, 2017 [7 favorites]


the whole star citizen thing is really funny but simmer down my man
posted by edeezy at 1:45 AM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


There's also the fact that the guy behind Star Citizen was a prominent member of the online hate movement GamerGate, in case you were looking for yet more reasons not to spend your money on this vaporware bullshit.

Who, Chris Roberts? Are you sure? I've heard all kinds of things about him and his crazy, doomed rocketship game, but I haven't heard that one.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:45 AM on August 26, 2017


Just redownloaded. Can confirm, is still trash.

Some people in there seem to be having fun, but for the life of me I can't understand how. The way the ships fly, at least to me, feels awful. I've seen it described as "spaceships on ice skates". Hitting an enemy ship seems nigh impossible. They've added a distracting and nausea inducing bobbing to the FPS walking around animation. I really tried to do something in the "PU" (persistent universe) and it was just awful. Call my ship. Get in ship. Glitch through ship. Die. Finally get in ship. Try to get out again. Glitch. Die. Finally get flying. Travel to do a mission. NPCs are bugged. Die. Do a different mission. Get killed by player. Try again. Get out of ship for EVA. Lightly touch ship. Ship spins around like a top and explodes. And every time you die you wake up again in your tiny quarters to an unskippable waking up animation. It's like Groundhog Day in space... but it sucks.
posted by runcibleshaw at 2:07 AM on August 26, 2017 [14 favorites]


Let's see. He says:
I believe in ethics in journalism. I also believe in being inclusive to all and not being abusive to people in person or online. I don’t support either side [of GamerGate] because I believe it’s too polarizing [source]
Which says it's neutral, while using the catchphrase and framing of gamergate trolls. Hard to tell if he's lazy and uninformed or just doesn't care enough to express his actual opinion which whatever it is would surely make a bunch of people mad at him. Which still is cowardice & complicity.
posted by aubilenon at 2:16 AM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


But I see Star Citizen reinforcing the "all Kickstarters are scams" narrative, which is terrible for indie devs with modest goals who now won't be able to get their projects off the ground

That's just dumb. Anyone who thinks Star Citizen's shenanigans have any relevance regarding the prospects and viability of some little $20,000 indie project has worse judgment than the suckers paying $1000 for a picture of a spaceship.
posted by straight at 2:21 AM on August 26, 2017


It's like Groundhog Day in space... but it sucks.

There's the big promo blurb! Call the printer!
posted by Meatbomb at 3:32 AM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


* just loads up X-Wing Alliance again *
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 4:33 AM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


Endless grinding and microtransactions distilled to its purest form. It's really quite brilliant.
posted by ryanrs at 4:38 AM on August 26, 2017


It's like Groundhog Day in space... but it sucks.

CHRIS!? CHRIS!?.......Chris ROBERTS!?
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:55 AM on August 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


During the time Star Citizen has been in development, I started playing EVE Online, worked my way up to CEO of a 0.0 player corporation, then director of a top-10 alliance, burned out, and retired.
posted by ryanrs at 5:02 AM on August 26, 2017 [11 favorites]


Just reinforcing that Kickstarter is poorly named. It should be considered KickContinuer or KickFinisher.

All of the best Kickstarters are of the form "here's a product with a working prototype, we lack the funds to publish/manufacture these upfront." If it's software, it should be, "here's what we have so far, I need funds to justify building X more levels to make it a full game."

But starting with a dream and no concrete goals? Geez, how do people get fleeced like this? Ideas are a dime a dozen. Anyone could dream of what Star Citizen *should* be. Why give money to someone just for the idea?
posted by explosion at 7:29 AM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Why give money to someone just for the idea?

Because marketing works. And things like Star Citizen are pitched very aggressively to people vulnerable to that marketing. It's like how the free-to-play games target whales, convincing them to spend $1000s when normal players spend a couple of bucks. It is exploiting addictive behavior. The clever thing Star Citizen did was figure out how to do this kind of fleecing without even having a working piece of software. You don't buy the horse armor, you buy the ability to have the horse armor in a few years when the (ever-changing) game ships.

There's no mass refunds coming, either. They've spent most of the money.
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


I got up to 'Faceware' and I agree. No. That's classic feature creep.

It's like the worst kind of advertising for a new car.
It now comes with a built in iPad for navigation and mobile connectivity.

Can I take it for a test drive?

Well, no. That part of the car is still under development.
posted by Fizz at 8:27 AM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


I vaguely remember someone bringing up Star Citizen in a No Man's Sky discussion. As in, they were badmouthing No Man's Sky for not living up to the hype, but you know what will really give them everything they want from a space game? Star Citizen.
posted by RobotHero at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


Chris Roberts is slow to develop a game?

Stop the fucking presses. Remember that this is the guy that had Freelancer taken off him so that someone else could actually fucking finish it.
posted by Talez at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Also, how do you balance a game between people who have spent more than a down payment on a car, or a car itself, on their spaceships, versus those who buy theirs with in-game currency like normal rational human beings playing a video game?

Theoretically I kind of like the idea of a universe where some people own huge spaceships I could never afford myself. It doesn't necessarily need to be "balanced" if the gameplay and incentives are set up so that you aren't forced to directly compete with each other and rich players are sort of like an environmental hazard you can avoid or only challenge if you choose to try something likely to be suicidal. Isn't that sort of how Eve works?
posted by straight at 9:26 AM on August 26, 2017


No, in EVE the largest fleet of the largest ships translates into multi-year dominance of vast areas of the game universe. But that sort of works because those ships are almost never purchased by 'whales.' And they absolutely cannot be be used independently. You need a large supporting organization (of other real humans) to fly the largest ships. Otherwise said ship will be dead within the hour.
posted by ryanrs at 9:49 AM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


The EVE playerbase is viciously anti-pay-to-win.
posted by ryanrs at 9:50 AM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder how much overlap there is between people who think that games like Star Citizen and No Man's Sky can ever possibly deliver on all their promises, and people who believe in the simulation hypothesis.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:48 AM on August 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


I'm redownloading the game again, after deleting it to free up space on my HD, because I'm a masochist I guess.

I do this from time to time with certain games. I think I sometimes like the idea of a game more than the game itself. Even more so, I like the idea of being the type of person that likes certain video games and yet I recognize that some games are just not for me.

And I always realize this after I finish re-downloading a game and then spending 45 minutes playing it. It always ends up the same, “Oh right, this is why I dislike this game.” *uninstalls game*

That game is EVE: Online
posted by Fizz at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah, well, I'm gonna go build my own space game, with open source, and linux.
posted by smcameron at 1:09 PM on August 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


Well, Grimoire came out this year after, what, 25 years in development? So there's always hope... Haven't played it myself since whassisface was always such a rightwing dbucket on Usenet but it did get released!

I got in on SC at one of the low tiers when it hadn't yet been flooded with tens of millions of dollars and I thought I was getting a nice Privateer update. Now I have no idea what they're doing and I don't think they do either.
posted by Justinian at 1:14 PM on August 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


Fizz, the true EVE end-game is sitting in a slack channel with 50 friends who used to play EVE, but are now all unsubbed (aka "Winning EVE").
posted by ryanrs at 1:43 PM on August 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Yeah I too bought in at a very low tier when it was going to make a Wing Commander update (Squadron 42) as a minimum viable product for a Privateer update. Weirdly I don't think of it as wasted money since it feels as though seeing how much it brought in increased the market for space sim games. So I'll go play those other ones (Evochron for the moment) and if I get my new Wing Commander with ridiculous FMV
- then great .
posted by DoveBrown at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


The EVE playerbase is viciously anti-pay-to-win.

Whether those enormously powerful fleets and capital ships are the result of someone playing thousands of hours more than me or paying hundreds of dollars more than me seems pretty irrelevant to the question of "Is this game fun for newbies when some players already have vastly more powerful ships/fleets?"
posted by straight at 3:45 PM on August 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


You know what? Star Citizen was supposed to have a Linux client too.

Here's what I think Chris Robert's problem REALLY is, at it's core.

He doesn't want to be a programmer. He doesn't want to run a software company.

He wants to make movies. He wants to be the bigwheeling, everybody loves him producer.

All you have to do is look at all of his games and how they are designed to see the cinematic influences.

At least that is my read on it.

The EVE playerbase is viciously anti-pay-to-win.

Whether those enormously powerful fleets and capital ships are the result of someone playing thousands of hours more than me or paying hundreds of dollars more than me seems pretty irrelevant to the question of "Is this game fun for newbies when some players already have vastly more powerful ships/fleets?"


Problem being, in life, there's always someone more powerful than you. That's the way it is. And, without the spur of the chance to be one of those more powerful types, then, what, really, is the point of the game?
posted by Samizdata at 8:33 PM on August 26, 2017


"Is this game fun for newbies when some players already have vastly more powerful ships/fleets?"

One person flies one ship (or perhaps 2-3, if they run multiple copies of the game client, but then their per-ship effectiveness rapidly craters). It's not player-vs-player, it's fleet-vs-fleet. And to field a balanced fleet, you need many different sizes and types of ships, with differing strengths and abilities.

Heterogenous fleet composition is how EVE balances large vs. small ships that have cost ratios of 10,000:1. Also ship power in terms of of offensive damage and defensive armor is vaguely logarithmic with cost. Plus the smaller ships are way more entertaining to fly. Human skill and experience is a lot more important when flying the smaller ships.

Bringing this back on topic to Star Citizen, I'm curious how they intended to balance cheap vs. expensive ships, and old vs. new players. Were whales promised over-powered, click-here-to-win ships?

People sometimes ask how a new player in EVE could ever compete with older established players (answer: logarithmic progression means new players rapidly catch up to the point where human skill matters more). But the lifetime perks offered to big Star Citizen funders seem like they might make the game legitimately unbalanced in their favor. Is this the case?
posted by ryanrs at 1:11 AM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Full disclosure: I am an investor in the game (several ships, two figures worth). I've bought and built a PC to play it (and a whole bunch of other games).

I understand the frustration of backers seeing promised deadlines come and go. It's not yet been a problem for me: I can see the progress being made (albeit more scattered and widely scoped than I'd prefer), and I'm happy to wait and download releases as they come. In many ways, Chris Roberts created his own worst enemy: making a hugely successful publicly funded game obligated him to make deadlines (which are notoriously hard in software development, let alone anything else) also public; under normal circumstances, we'd barely hear a word about the game until perhaps a year from release. As it is, we're playing with an alpha, and hungry for more.

I enjoy Star Citizen as it is a great deal, but it takes work: not only in time and practice, but also hardware (PC, graphics card, large monitor, HOTAS, pedals, head tracking…) to get the most out of it. It's a hard-core space sim, and that's not for everyone.

I won't address the points raised here about the company other than to say that most (although not all) have been sourced from a notorious troll developer who's hate-on for SC knows no bounds, and have been disproven as fantasies or overstatements. Has there been waste? Absolutely. But not, I believe, to the extent implied.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 1:55 AM on August 27, 2017


I build big, complex applications in a different sector entirely. Bitter experience has taught us that delivery requires pragmatism and ruthlessness around scope. You have to focus on the core system, the fundamental set of user needs.

And funnily enough, it looks like they haven't bothered to make the core gameplay loop fun. Which is something, because any Wing Commander with updated graphics would do the trick.
posted by ersatz at 2:43 AM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am an investor in the game

Apologies for correcting you, but you are a customer of the game. Investors are people who put capital into an enterprise with the expectation of getting that capital back, plus some sort of return in the form of interest or dividends. Customers are people who pay money to a company to buy goods or services. Or in the case of Star Citizen, pre-purchase a service that is under development. I'm glad you're enjoying your customer experience, but don't kid yourself about being an investor.

(This is a pet peeve of mine way back to the early Kickstarter days when people talked about being investors in Kickstarter projects. It's not the correct word to describe the relationship.)

sourced from a notorious troll developer

That's not an accurate description of this Kotaku article that's the primary link. It's remarkable in that the author Julian Benson has spent a lot of time talking to a whole lot of people, including many former and current employees of Cloud Imperium Games. Fizz provided many fine links that come from many sources. You're criticizing Derek Smart, a game developer who has made a side career criticizing Star Citizen. I understand why he's obnoxious for Star Citizen fans but you can't dismiss every critical article, including the ones here, as being from his hand. If nothing else the development schedule speaks for itself.
posted by Nelson at 7:41 AM on August 27, 2017 [13 favorites]


Also, I would debate the "hardcore space sim" label for Star Citizen. It aspires to be an immersive space sim, true, but it's no Rogue System.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:15 AM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


[...]but it takes work: not only in time and practice, but also hardware (PC, graphics card, large monitor, HOTAS, pedals, head tracking…) to get the most out of it.

I mean, i dunno, I do all that (except for pedals) with Elite: Dangerous and enjoy it but I can also plop down onto the couch and play it on my PS4 fine, too.
posted by destructive cactus at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Apologies for correcting you, but you are a customer of the game. Investors are people who put capital into an enterprise with the expectation of getting that capital back, plus some sort of return in the form of interest or dividends.

It's interesting you mention this distinction. It's kind of scary how programs/companies like Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight have programmed consumers into thinking that we're investors when we're really not.
posted by Fizz at 12:14 PM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Problem being, in life, there's always someone more powerful than you.

Unlike real life, I can choose to play a different video game. And if, in a particular game, new players are relegated to the roles of punching bags and background decoration for more powerful players, well then I think I'll go play a different game instead.
posted by Pyry at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Problem being, in life, there's always someone more powerful than you. That's the way it is. And, without the spur of the chance to be one of those more powerful types, then, what, really, is the point of the game?

I think ideally the whales would seem more like NPCs. If you're role playing as Han Solo or Mal from Firefly, your goal isn't to someday own a Star Destroyer or run a space station.
posted by straight at 1:10 PM on August 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


Apologies for correcting you, but you are a customer of the game. Investors are people who put capital into an enterprise with the expectation of getting that capital back, plus some sort of return in the form of interest or dividends. Customers are people who pay money to a company to buy goods or services.

I think the word you are looking for is "patron." A customer exchanges money for a good or service. A patron donates money in order that the good or service may perhaps come to exist.
posted by straight at 1:14 PM on August 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


No, I mean customer. A Star Citizen customer pays money to the company in exchange for pre-purchasing a service (and associated virtual goods). It is an exchange. Their store page could not be more clear about that; pay $125 and get the Hornet F7C Package. (Weirdly the URL calls this a "pledge" even though they are taking payment immediately.)

Early Kickstarter was super clear about the exchange in the terms of service, the funder was entitled to a full refund if the Kickstarter didn't deliver the promised goods. (This was never realistically enforceable and changed a few years ago). Pre-purchasing can also feel like a form of patronage in that you're paying early because you want to support a project and help the creator raise enough funds to create the thing. But in the end a pre-purchase is a purchase, not a donation.

Patreon is the poster-child for online patronage right now. Many of us are Metafilter patrons in that we fund the site with donations.
posted by Nelson at 1:38 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


It's interesting you mention this distinction. It's kind of scary how programs/companies like Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight have programmed consumers into thinking that we're investors when we're really not.

The distinction isn't helped by fig (others?) actually allowing investment.
posted by juv3nal at 1:43 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Problem being, in life, there's always someone more powerful than you.

Unlike real life, I can choose to play a different video game. And if, in a particular game, new players are relegated to the roles of punching bags and background decoration for more powerful players, well then I think I'll go play a different game instead


Right, and there's the joy of gaming. If world A sucks, you move on to world B.

I think ideally the whales would seem more like NPCs. If you're role playing as Han Solo or Mal from Firefly, your goal isn't to someday own a Star Destroyer or run a space station.


Interesting idea. I like that.
posted by Samizdata at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


In EVE, there are player groups that specifically hunt whales. EVE whales almost never leave "safe" high security space, so these assassinations are generally suicide missions. But the hate mail you get after a successful kill makes up for it.
posted by ryanrs at 4:24 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


As a SC backer, who quickly forgot about it and counted the money as lost, SC isn't what burnt me out on kick started games. Planetary Annihilation was.
posted by miguelcervantes at 8:34 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


Early Kickstarter was super clear about the exchange in the terms of service, the funder was entitled to a full refund if the Kickstarter didn't deliver the promised goods. (This was never realistically enforceable and changed a few years ago). Pre-purchasing can also feel like a form of patronage in that you're paying early because you want to support a project and help the creator raise enough funds to create the thing. But in the end a pre-purchase is a purchase, not a donation.

Well that's the big question that I don't think anyone knows the answer to. Do the majority of people giving money to Star Citizen see themselves as patrons donating money to a project they believe in, or do most see themselves as customers (who seem to be getting fleeced and maybe even defrauded)?

If I donate $50 to NPR and get a coffee mug, I don't believe one bit I'm buying a coffee mug that's worth $50. As I recall, reward tiers on Kickstarter originally had much more the feel of the coffee mugs and tote bags used by non-profits seeking donations and only started slipped into being more like a pre-order because "a copy of the thing we want to make" seemed like such an obvious reward tier.
posted by straight at 10:04 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


This was more ambiguous during the actual Kickstarter for SC. There were several "I just want to support the game" tiers that didn't come with a ship. So, the argument for "patronage" or "donation" was easier to make.

Now, the only way to back the game is to buy a ship. It's pretty clearly a purchase that entitles you to use that ship, once it is in the game.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:45 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Well that's the big question that I don't think anyone knows the answer to. Do the majority of people giving money to Star Citizen see themselves as patrons donating money to a project they believe in, or do most see themselves as customers (who seem to be getting fleeced and maybe even defrauded)?

If I donate $50 to NPR and get a coffee mug, I don't believe one bit I'm buying a coffee mug that's worth $50. As I recall, reward tiers on Kickstarter originally had much more the feel of the coffee mugs and tote bags used by non-profits seeking donations and only started slipped into being more like a pre-order because "a copy of the thing we want to make" seemed like such an obvious reward tier.


They love to use the term "backer" and see themselves as investors in a grand adventure, where their payback will be the most IMMERSIVE, FIDELITOUS EXPERIENCE EVER!

Now, the only way to back the game is to buy a ship. It's pretty clearly a purchase that entitles you to use that ship, once it is in the game.


That's kind of iffy. Does the ship ever make it past concept-ready or hangar ready? If so, do you get the same ship you paid for, with all the seats, maneuverability, and features promised?
posted by Samizdata at 12:36 PM on August 28, 2017


Yeah, selling "concept ships" opens them up to a lot of things like that. So far, I don't think it's really been an issue? But it might be some day.

I brought it up mainly for the contrast between "patron" and "customer". The Kickstarter was muddy about this, but the post-Kickstarter sales come firmly on the "customer" side.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:41 PM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


So there's a Google Doc that tracks the ongoing funding, now past $159 million.
posted by RobotHero at 1:19 PM on September 22, 2017


On that spreadsheet the graph of prepurchase income shows linear growth; so does the growth of new customers. So while it's not accelerating it's still raising money at the same rate as it has since 2012, which to me is pretty astounding.
posted by Nelson at 10:36 PM on September 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


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