June 4, 2018 4:11 PM   Subscribe

'Star Citizen' Is Offering VIP Players a $27,000 Bundle of Spaceships [Motherboard] “Star Citizen is an unreleased video game that has promised fans the moon. Developer Roberts Space Industries (RSI) has advertised the game as the ultimate space adventure, the kind of simulation you can play for years to come. [...] RSI is only offering the $27,000 Legatus Pack to its concierge members. Concierge players are those who’ve already dropped at least $1,000 on the game. Such backers have access to the Legaus Pack, but also receive a personal concierge at RSI who’ll pick up the phone anytime they call. Included in the Legatus Pack is 117 ships, 163 other items, and lifetime insurance on each of the ships. That’s almost every ship that will exist in the game, save for a few that were reserved as prizes for special events or rewards for early backers.”

• Star Citizen’s $27,000 bundle raises eyebrows [Polygon]
“Of course, for a game that has pulled in $185 million in crowdfunding over six years and has a development timeline that can be called, at best, nontraditional, the existence of the Legatus Pack once again riled up those who were already inclined to drag Star Citizen. But some in the community didn’t appreciate the optics of the bundle, either. “Alright, this is getting ridiculous,” said redditor Strykerx88 in the Star Citizen subreddit. “I’ve been on the ‘wait and see’ side of the fence for 6 years now, but shit like this makes me fall right over into ‘maybe the guys calling this game a scam are on to something.’ ... Close your fucking ‘donation’ shop and finish the god damn game, if it even can be finished and become playable in any current fan’s lifetime.””
• Star Citizen Has a $27,000 Ship Pack [Kotaku]
“It’s easy to joke about this kind of money, just as it’s easy to joke about a game that has been in very public development for 6 years and is yet to see any kind of final release. But like...this game has reportedly raised over $185 milion dollars directly from fan pledges. It’s clear that as absurd as the figures seem to bystanders, there are still players out there willing to spend big money on Star Citizen. It should be noted that The Legatus Pack isn’t an all-new idea; it simply replaces an older offering, priced at $15,000, with the higher price reflecting the extra ships and content produced since it first went on sale. Cloud Imperium couldn’t tell Kotaku whether anyone had actually purchased The Legatus Pack or not.”
posted by Fizz (119 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Damn it, people, The Producers wasn't supposed to be an instruction manual.
posted by SansPoint at 4:13 PM on June 4 [36 favorites]


*Depending on your point of view, my post title is either a pyramid or a space ship. I'll let you decide.
posted by Fizz at 4:14 PM on June 4 [23 favorites]


I mean, it was kind of obvious from their first ship trailer for the Origin i300, all those years ago, that CIG's target demographic is idiots with more money than sense. (For those who aren't familiar, it was literally a luxury car commercial for a pixel spaceship.) This is just a continuation of that.

On the other hand, it seems like CIG have put more thought into its gameplay systems than Elite: Dangerous has, and the latter has been live for four years, so that's something.
posted by tobascodagama at 4:16 PM on June 4


On the other hand, it seems like CIG have put more thought into its gameplay systems than Elite: Dangerous has, and the latter has been live for four years, so that's something.

Whatever gameplay systems they come up with, everyone who's bought a ship just gets one again. Forever, right?

IIRC, both companies wanted to be first past the line on "First Person EVE" with player driven economies, politics, and action.

Neither will ever deliver. Elite, because it is on the downswing and will not be returning barring divine intervention. SC, because there will never be a player economy given the ship purchasing to date.

If your goals with those two games aren't what they started out as, you'll probably have waaaaaay more fun.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:22 PM on June 4


You hope at some point someone would have said, "You know, we already have a public image problem when it comes to our paid ships... maybe this isn't a good idea." I can already hear the arguments, this isn't an offer open to the public, it's just for our biggest fans, it's bound to bring in some extra money, etc.

Tellingly, the perfect time to actually roll out something like the Legatus Pack would be the same day the "full game" finally "comes out" because everyone will be more interested in news about Star Citizen hitting 1.0 rather than a glorified "Buy all DLC" button. Because they couldn't wait, all they're doing is doubling down on the laughinstock they've become 6 years into a campaign to sell virtual goods to people with the promise that someday they'll get to enjoy it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:22 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


"Included in the Legatus Pack is 117 ships, 163 other items, and lifetime insurance on each of the ships"

An estimated $35 value!
posted by aubilenon at 4:23 PM on June 4 [28 favorites]


"It’s clear that as absurd as the figures seem to bystanders, there are still players out there willing to spend big money on Star Citizen."

I don't know why people make comments like this, as if the fact that the product has successfully ensnared some suckers doesn't mean that it's not a scam and/or that the price is not absurd. I also don't understand how you pay significant money in part for "lifetime" insurance and "personal access" on a product put out by a company that's never actually even brought a game to market without being missing large chunks of grey matter. You think the company has a good chance of even being around in ten years? Really?

But they got people to talk about their game, so who cares if anyone actually buys the package, anyway.
posted by praemunire at 4:26 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


At some point, the conversation goes from "it's just a game, let them have their fun," to, "I lost family to Scientology, and this looks a bit like Scientology," to, "Wild Wild Country 3 is about a video game. Weird."
posted by chainlinkspiral at 4:31 PM on June 4 [11 favorites]


Previously discussed on the blue: “Can Star Citizen be made?”

I stand by my response from last year.
posted by Fizz at 4:33 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


At this point, after following this fiasco from day one, I find it hard to see a difference between Chris Roberts and a Nigerian scammer.
posted by Splunge at 4:39 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Space Whales?
posted by symbioid at 4:42 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Splunge, I was going to make the same joke, except it was "Chris Roberts and Derek Smart".
posted by hanov3r at 4:44 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


Is there a real actual game that any of these backers have played? I just do not understand this.
posted by jcreigh at 4:53 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I used to think Star Citizen was just a basic fraud, fleecing victims who think it's a smart idea to pay $1000+ for a virtual starship in a game that does not yet work. But it's gone on so long and keeps escalating that I wonder if there's something more going on. Like is there a money laundering angle or something?
posted by Nelson at 4:56 PM on June 4 [6 favorites]


What weirds me out the most about this is that Chris Roberts made Wing Commander, the first video game I ever really played and still one of the ones I had the most fun with—the game that got me into games. Now it's about 25 years later, I'm grown up, and he's still making space sims—but somehow it's all become this weird, cult-like scam. It breaks my brain. What happened, Chris?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:06 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Is it just me, or does $27,000 sound simultaneously like a) too much for anybody but a bored oil princeling to afford and b) not nearly enough to pay for the development effort that a customer like that will demand?
posted by clawsoon at 5:07 PM on June 4 [9 favorites]


Who in the world has enough money that $27000 isn't a thing, while simultaneously having enough free time that they can commit to flying a bunch of space ships in a video game that doesn't exist yet, while everyone else has huge backlogs of awesome already-released games they haven't gotten around to playing yet?
posted by aubilenon at 5:08 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


To shoot lasers in the game, put on the included headset and shout "FYRE!"
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:11 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]


Man, I need to step up by virtual sales game. How's this: for $27,000, I will favorite EVERY ONE OF YOUR COMMENTS. FOREVER.
posted by zompist at 5:12 PM on June 4 [10 favorites]


Whatever $27,000 is, it's a lot more than I'm currently prepared to pay for an actual, real-life car, nevermind a bunch of fake space ships. $27,000 is enough to spend a year travelling the world in some style, if you do it right. For a bunch of fictional space ships in a game that doesn't even exist… man, even if you have it to blow, there are so many better ways to blow it. Have a fire with it, even—it'll be prettier, and your friends might want to come over and watch.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:12 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]


The real Star Citizen is an economic sim or tycoon game. Only one copy has been produced and Chris Roberts is currently winning.
posted by rodlymight at 5:16 PM on June 4 [36 favorites]


Do you know how much Lego you could buy with $27,000?!!? I mean, just buy some Lego and BUILD THE STARSHIP OF YOUR DREAMS!?!
posted by Fizz at 5:16 PM on June 4 [6 favorites]


Is there a real actual game that any of these backers have played?

Actually, yes.

Is it a finished game? No.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:25 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I'm an original kickstarter (at pretty much the lowest tier to get a ship, I think $30) and I checked out when they started showing more interested in first person combat than, ya know, spaceships in space. It was pretty early on and it showed how feature creeep/bloat was going to be the MO. That was two video card upgrades ago.

I genuinely don't think this will ever be finished.
posted by thecjm at 5:31 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Say what you will about the false promises and/or bad marketing of No Man's Sky but in the last year or so, they've actually gone back and made good on a lot of things that they said would be in the original game. It is possible for a game developer to turn around and do the right thing and work within a community to make things right.

I just don't think this is possible with Star Citizen.
posted by Fizz at 5:34 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]


I might actually make a post about No Man's Sky sort of turning things around, b/c that's been an interesting thing to watch happen with their patches, updates, community feedback, etc.
posted by Fizz at 5:46 PM on June 4 [8 favorites]


At some point, they're not going to be able to meet expectations unless the game includes actual weightlessness. I mean, you boot up the game and suddenly you start floating, along with all of the detritus (uneaten fortune cookies from Chinese takeout, dollar coins, medications, bills, ridiculously short USB dongles) on your computer desk.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:46 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Elite, because it is on the downswing and will not be returning barring divine intervention.

I didn't think Elite ever wanted to be single player, Eve. Elite has done pretty much everything it set out to do, and if you like its chilly, beautifully modelled stylings then it's a smashing success.

I know everyone uses the 'mile wide, inch deep' zinger, but a reviewer (say) deciding there's not much game there ~802 hours in is not necessarily making the point they think they are.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:50 PM on June 4 [11 favorites]


Man, those reviews are hilarious: "So, yes, I played 500 hours but I wasn't having fun after the first 20".
posted by Sebmojo at 5:54 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Fizz, yeah, No Man's Sky is a nice counterpoint. Hello Games really has turned around and delivered a lot more content for free. It's still got problems as a game but there's a lot more going on than at launch. And now they're about to reap some of the reward of that with (finally) an XBone release. Lots of new content coming too, including what we think is true multiplayer. I'm looking forward to playing it again.

To be fair to Star Citizen, they have shipped a couple of playable modules. How are they? When they shipped they were buggy and not fun, but they've had some time since then to polish them. FWIW on Twitch right now there's 13 streams for a total of ~400 viewers.
posted by Nelson at 6:19 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah I also think Elite Dangerous is a success on its own terms. The creator basically wanted to make a modern, beautiful, somewhat multiplayer version of the same game he wrote for the BBC Micro back in the 80s. That's exactly what you get.

i think those 5000-word steam reviews are pretty fair. a good litmus test is, if you can't even see the appeal of Euro Truck Simulator, you will definitely hate Elite.

another good litmus test is, they at one point delayed a release by about a week to accurately include the stars and planets from NASA's TRAPPIST-1 discovery. if that seems like a reasonable thing to do, you will probably like the game.
posted by vogon_poet at 6:27 PM on June 4 [23 favorites]


The anticipation and yearning is at least partly what this collection of yutzes is paying for. Nothing can live up to this level of hype. If you play current AAA games right now, you probably have a good idea what the limits of the technology are, and while I've been impressed with what I've seen, it's all obviously so much surface. I picture a few nice setpieces and a lot of aimless milling about in your luxury rocket ship.

It makes me think of being stuck in rush hour traffic, then looking over and seeing some jackass in a Maserati inching along at the same glacial speed as me in my old Civic. Probably not what he was picturing when he bought the car.
posted by picea at 6:46 PM on June 4 [12 favorites]


In the time Star Citizen has been in development, I won EVE Online:
2011 Started playing EVE Online.
2011 Joined a nullsec player alliance.
2012 Earned enough in-game currency to run 6 accounts ($105/month) for no actual US$ cost.
2012 Promoted to CEO of a 100+ member corp.
2012 Became an executive director of a Top-10 alliance.
2014 Piloted a titan in one of the biggest fights in EVE history (Battle of B-R5RB).
2016 Burned out, unsubbed.

Yes, that's right, I started as nobody, with no friends in-game, rose through the ranks to become semi-space-important, and retired. All without ever getting doxxed or robbed.

And through it all, I talked shit on Star Citizen, heh.
posted by ryanrs at 7:19 PM on June 4 [51 favorites]


In the time Star Citizen has been in development, I won EVE Online:

“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?”
posted by Fizz at 7:33 PM on June 4 [7 favorites]


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.
posted by Docrailgun at 7:45 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


I really wish there were a modern TW2002ish game. Elite: Dangerous is like 60% of the way there, but still sucks for various reasons. Maybe not $27,000 wish, but I did spend alarmingly close to $5000 on a cabinet setup for Visual Pinball, so I'm clearly willing to pay significant money for the right experience.

100+ ships ain't gonna do it, though. That's not what makes a game fun. A stiff, but seemingly surmountable, challenge combined with enough accessibility to not have a frustrating experience as a noob is what it takes. Unfortunately that requires a deliberate design and a good amount of forethought. Sadly, that is increasingly uncommon since it's far more fun for developers to implement the new shiny thing to improve the graphics than it is to analyze and fix gameplay issues.

Combine that with the market in general being motivated by graphics more than anything else and it's no wonder impressive visuals are taking a backseat to well developed gameplay. A great looking game will sell a bunch of units to people who will then complain about the game mechanics. Good mechanics with mediocre graphics sells few units in most cases, netting you a rabidly loyal but barely profitable at best user base. (Well, not at best, there are freakish outliers like Minecraft, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule. It's even more of a lottery than game development is normally)
posted by wierdo at 7:50 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.

There's only one that I know of, it's Star Wars: The Old Republic, with a $200 mil development cost.

Despite the large development cost the game launched in a somewhat incomplete state. Of the 10 or so flashpoints (like dungeons / instances) only the first one was in a fully "complete" state with fleshed out branching options and dialogue. The rest of them felt like rough drafts, with very few branches and dialogue, or even worse, just like a "regular" dungeon we get in World of Warcraft with a linear path and baddie at the end. Of the 5 companions you had, only 1 of them had a complete loyalty mission storylines (like Mass Effect / Dragon Age did). You could see the holes in the game - instead of unlocking additional loyalty missions, your other companions would say "I need to go do something" and then fade to black and then your companion would return and say "I'm all done now thanks I'm fully loyal to you".

It was still a really great game that pushed the boundaries of what I thought possible (200 voice actors and 200,000 lines of dialogue!) in an MMORPG. If only they had another 6 months of development time and more budget...
posted by xdvesper at 8:00 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


This is going to turn out to be, like, actual working spaceships and tickets on those actual working spaceships to actual space, right? Like they're selling it as a videogame but surprise! when it finally happens it's going to be some Ender's Game sorta thing. That's the only possible reasonable explanation I can come up with for this ridiculousness.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:09 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


> It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.

It's generally understood that adding resources to a software project makes it take longer. So while you may be able to make a game with that kind of money, you can't do it in a reasonable timeframe.
posted by Phssthpok at 8:22 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I would pay $27,000 for a copy of the list of super rich suckers who buy this. I’ll be able to make 10x my money back just by sending a few Nigerian Prince emails.
posted by monotreme at 8:35 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


> wierdo:
"I really wish there were a modern TW2002ish game. Elite: Dangerous is like 60% of the way there, but still sucks for various reasons. Maybe not $27,000 wish, but I did spend alarmingly close to $5000 on a cabinet setup for Visual Pinball, so I'm clearly willing to pay significant money for the right experience."

$5000 on virtual pinball? What a weirdo.

Oh.
posted by Samizdata at 8:53 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


How's this: for $27,000, I will favorite EVERY ONE OF YOUR COMMENTS. FOREVER.

Eh, davey_darling will do it for free.
posted by cortex at 8:54 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


I will meet these clowns half way. I am willing to pay up to $5 to play Escape Velocity on my phone.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:54 PM on June 4 [13 favorites]


I am staying the hell OUT of this thread. I am still recovering from getting WAY too deep on the anti-Citizenry side of this. Those that think it is cultish aren't far wrong.
posted by Samizdata at 8:55 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


I am willing to pay up to $5 to play Escape Velocity on my phone.

E! V! NO-VA! *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAPCLAPCLAP*

seriously ALLL I want is another game that makes me feel the way EV Nova made me feel.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:59 PM on June 4 [11 favorites]


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.

It's a great amount of money with which to not make a video game, though!

Mind you, it would be a lot cheaper to pay me a fraction of that not to make a videogame.
posted by BungaDunga at 9:00 PM on June 4 [4 favorites]


Repetitively Stupid Investment.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:09 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


You can go pay for an early access copy of Starsector and get an actual functional game that is pretty fun and does a good job of capturing the vibe of 2D space sims like Escape Velocity or Starflight. I was a bit apprehensive but I totally think I got my money's worth and I'm interested in seeing where future updates take it.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:15 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


the thing i don't get about star citizen is that if it is a scam, it is the most monstrously inefficient scam yet devised.

it is pretty clear that even if though they are approaching a shippable product at the speed of Zeno's Paradox, they are actually paying a bunch of people to write code and make in-world SPACESHIP MARKETING MATERIALS and suchlike.

in the time they've taken to collect their 185 million they could have shipped several games and likely made more than that in sales.

i am reluctantly led to believe that chris roberts thinks that he is going to deliver star citizen, despite all evidence to the contrary.
posted by murphy slaw at 9:21 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


It's generally understood that adding resources to a software project makes it take longer.

The production of modern prestige games has much more in common with that of motion pictures than that of software.

How many man-months does it take to produce a line of dialog in a video game? Serious question. From writing to casting to rehearsing to recording to syncing. I’m guessing the answer would be depressing.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:39 PM on June 4


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.


hold my beer
posted by inpHilltr8r at 9:47 PM on June 4 [3 favorites]


There's a lot to complain about with Elite Dangerous. One is that it requires advanced planning the likes of which I rarely put into any activity. It's not just a timesuck, it's a timesuck that makes you bust out spreadsheets and a half dozen third party tools to figure out how to get one upgrade for one gun. I realize that for some people this is a feature.

However, the reason I first got into Elite is that I heard that some British maniac had created a 1:1 scale model of the universe, and goddammit if he didn't do exactly that. If I want to I can load up my spaceship and travel to the other side of the milky way galaxy, one system at a time, land my ship and drive around the surface of a moon 65,000 light years from Earth. There's nothing to do when you get there, but who cares? It's a game that's mostly worked from day 1 and they diligently roll out new content for the game even as their player base shrinks to nothing. Also, when you do have a space fight the pew pew is fun as hell.

Star Citizen on the other hand was something like 3 years into development when I bought whatever the cheapest pack was and it has never worked as something even approaching playable. My experience is that Star Citizen has gotten less playable with each new update. Things that used to work, no longer work, even as the team seems to be adding meaningless cruft to the persistent universe (their term for the shared player space that makes the main part of the game). My ship's consoles no longer function and bumping into my ship with my character has a 1 in 4 chance of sending it shooting into space never to be seen again, but hey, they've added a shop where I can buy a hat so I guess it's going great?

Elite built their universe, made sure the basic stuff worked, and is slowly (perhaps too slowly) filling it with things. Star Citizen doesn't even have a stable base game to build on, and yet they're continually piling crap on top of crap because it needs more features for some reason. Maybe I'll check in on it again now that it's in the middle of its 3.whatever iteration. I don't hold out much hope that it will be any closer to a game than it was almost 3 years ago.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:00 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


(also if it's not a pyramid scheme, it's at least a trapezoid scheme)
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:01 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Mind you, it would be a lot cheaper to pay me a fraction of that not to make a videogame.

I'm willing to not make people a video game and all they have to do is say nice things about me
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:16 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


The thing is that the people who made Elite: Dangerous could say, hey guys, we're starting work on a sequel and we're building a bunch of systems that we can't really do in our current game without it causing a lot of problems, I expect a lot of people would be at least willing to give them a chance.

There is no way Star Citizen launches and is what people want it to be. They can't reboot it. They can't back out of it: they've already sold hundreds of millions of premium content to suckers. If Chris Roberts gets out of this with his liberty, his pulse and all his fingers, he should thank his lucky stars.

Honestly RSI probably should have Avengers-ed it: release a small piece of the game as a complete thing, then change genres, and only later reveal the grand plan is to stitch together all your previous games into the one mega-game.
posted by Merus at 11:14 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to not make people a video game and all they have to do is say nice things about me

If you PayPal me $30, I will send you a printable papercraft spaceship model. In the post.

That's right, I'm even one-upping RSI: I'm delivering physical goods.
posted by Merus at 11:16 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]


Those of you with an Escape Velocity itch to scratch should run over to Steam and check out Endless Sky.
posted by hanov3r at 11:17 PM on June 4 [5 favorites]


Here's the problem with Elite Dangerous and why you get those 500 hour negative reviews: the first time you dock your ship is a stressful, detailed, amazing experience, and then nothing in the game remotely lives up to that, leading people into the trap of thinking that maybe there's something equivalently amazing lurking at the next level of ship or at the center of the galaxy, and there just isn't.
posted by Pyry at 12:31 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


> snuffleupagus:
"Repetitively Stupid Investment."

Completely Idiotic Goofballs. If you've seen the legal paperwork, RSI no longer does the game. It is their wholly owned subsidiary, Cloud Imperium Games, that develops it.

Yeah, I know, I said I was staying out of this.

And if anyone wonders why this gets me so incensed, it is that this is a machine specifically designed, or so it appears, to drain money from people with issues like Scientology is. Victimization I feel I can do something about anger me endlessly.
posted by Samizdata at 1:00 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Why would you name your company after a widely-known chronic physical malady often directly related to overuse of computers?
posted by chavenet at 1:18 AM on June 5


Completely Idiotic Goofballs. If you've seen the legal paperwork, RSI no longer does the game. It is their wholly owned subsidiary, Cloud Imperium Games, that develops it.

Huh. They still seem to be using the RSI domain as the primary brand for the game.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:07 AM on June 5


I think this IS the game.
posted by Laotic at 2:23 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


That makes sense—it's an ARG. As in, you must be living in an alternate reality if you think being involved with this madness is a good idea.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:50 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


The Escape Velocity ship art was so evocative. Overall there was a shiny "Mac" aesthetic to the artwork, combat style, arsenal/armory, that modern PC-games don't follow (I've enjoyed Star Trek Online and EVE Online). An MMO variant of EV would be awesome.
posted by polymodus at 3:03 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


One time I almost spent 0.99 on a f2p game gold pack but then I didn’t
posted by freecellwizard at 4:52 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


My problem with most of the EV-likes is that they miss out on what I really loved about the EV game I played most, EV: Nova, which is all of the really cool branching storylines. If I can't go out and get drunk with a planet full of Irish mercenaries or help free all the enslaved psychics in the galaxy, what's even the point?
posted by tobascodagama at 5:26 AM on June 5 [7 favorites]


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.

Depends on how many squatty potties you need to make it.
posted by fleacircus at 5:47 AM on June 5


Depending on your point of view, my post title is either a pyramid or a space ship. I'll let you decide.

Also 💩 shaped
posted by Celsius1414 at 6:02 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I have not spent a dime on Star Citizen, but I follow the forums and appreciate their open development model.

There is a lot of negativity in both the OP framing and the thread, which is curious to me because I expect better of MeFi.
No time for a long reply, but here are some positive points about SC:

1) No one is forcing you to spend money on the game
2) Their (fairly) open development which includes regular informative videos and design segments is really cool.
3) The vision of the final SC persistent universe is grand and will be a major milestone in gaming if implemented.
4) They provide regular roadmaps and progress reports.
5) In a world of movie reboots and Popular Title X's, ambition and originality should be applauded.

Yes they are taking their sweet time, perhaps overly ambitious and feature creep is a thing.
However, they are also possibly the most transparent AAA developer around.

Sure the whole thing might eventually implode, but until then this negative response is some weird herd mentality of shitting on anything with an ounce of ambition.
posted by Rei Toei at 6:03 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Rei, a big part of the problem is the community itself. Some of the bigger donors are examples of the worst of the internet, yet they have leadership roles. Search for Samizdata's comments in the previous posts for more on that. It's sort of inevitable, when you think about it, when you base your community on a pay-for-power model. Just another idealistic fantasy destroyed by contact with humanity.

I agree it is cult like.
posted by adept256 at 6:20 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


here are some positive points about SC

counterpoints:

(2) This is basically expected of crowdfunded efforts, and if you look at how long the game has been in development and the amount of money taken in vs. the amount of material actually released, and what it shows, it really isn't "regular" or "informative"

(3) Their vision is so grand that it will never be implemented, unless maybe it hangs around long enough for further advances, in which case other games will get there too

(4) This is the same as (2), and really, they don't. They periodically release refreshed versions of the same roadmaps and concept art etc, and then fail to deliver, or deliver buggy messes.

(5) This is basically a Wing Commander reboot, but without the Kilrathi

That leaves (1), that I'm not actually being forced to spend money on the game. Yay?

However, they are also possibly the most transparent AAA developer around.

Is this extremely dry sarcasm? People have had to sue them to get them to dribble out refunds.

Also, assuming facts not in evidence that RSI/CIG is a AAA developer. Looking more like BBB- every day.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:42 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


1) No one is forcing you to spend money on the game

That's right down there with "the first taste is free."
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:45 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


i’m mad at it because some of my friends bought like $50 worth of ships, tried to play the game which was totally broken and wouldn’t have been fun anyway, and now won’t play Elite with me because they think that’s the nature of space games.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:09 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


> snuffleupagus:
"Completely Idiotic Goofballs. If you've seen the legal paperwork, RSI no longer does the game. It is their wholly owned subsidiary, Cloud Imperium Games, that develops it.

Huh. They still seem to be using the RSI domain as the primary brand for the game."


They're not letting it expire. Behind the scenes, it's a jumble of holding companies and subsidiaries, which is another thing that screams scam to me. Also, you need to see some of the legal paperwork. Or just that reference Squatty Potty link above. (On that topic, I want the devs to be happy and well cared for, but, OTOH, you get the luxuries once you have a profit.)
posted by Samizdata at 7:32 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


See, if someone gave me $180 million to make a game with totally unrealistic expectations, I would spend half of it on making a game which was just sort of ok and didn't really live up to the hype and the rest of it on fixing all the water pipes in Flint, Michigan, ensuring that no-one could ever criticize me for anything, ever.
posted by um at 8:22 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


I was almost on board with this game, but then Chris Roberts started hiring his family members as executives and decking his offices with furniture and equipment that would make a Saudi prince blush.

This has been nothing but a scam. Yes, there will almost assuredly be a game at the end of this but it's not going to be one that cost $200 million to make.
posted by FakeFreyja at 8:29 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


I used to have an acquaintance that would reliably message me about once a month to evangelize about Star Citizen and try to get me to buy in. At that point there was nothing to do except stand in a virtual hanger. He had spent something like $5,000 on a new pc and "cockpit" for this game, all of which must be very outdated by now. I haven't heard from him for a few years so he must have realized I was never going to buy in or he became disillusioned himself. Seems cultish to me.
posted by polywomp at 8:56 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna need the George RR Martin apologists and the Chris Roberts apologists to battle it out to determine which indefinitely delayed cash cow will be more satisfying when it finally comes out.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:15 AM on June 5


"Sure the whole thing might eventually implode, but until then this negative response is some weird herd mentality of shitting on anything with an ounce of ambition."

Without even touching the other stuff someone else has already broken down, this premise is still rubbing me the wrong way.

Nobody is shitting on anything because it's ambitious, save maybe a few exceptions where RSI/CIG want to do actually impossible things. Second, it's not even clear what their intents are here. The game is everything and nothing to everyone, they'll promise or propose a feature, mechanic, or concept on a whim, a random forum suggestion might be tossed into the Grand Design because what does it matter, it's not about the product it's the journey. Even with the untenable list of promises and features they supposedly intend to make it never once becomes remotely clear what the fuck the game is even supposed to be, what will the core gameplay loops be, what will be the reason to even play this game besides sunken costs? The most ambitious thing about this uhh... business venture is the audacity and success of their business model of selling ship concepts to goobers.

There's no good reason for them to even release a game, at least not with the business model they claim will be in place once the game releases (but obviously cannot). Their system of pre-sales would break the proposed economies I've heard them talk about, not that I think it'll ever come to a point where it matters. They can make plenty of money just selling hopes and dreams, actually delivering the hope and dream will inevitably be a disappointment.

Anyway, just on a surface level without digging into the deep drama -- The game doesn't look good, seems to run horribly on any computer, doesn't look fun even in concept, and even the world and setting are nothing to get invested, immersed in or excited about.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:16 AM on June 5 [6 favorites]


We're not shitting on Star Citizen because it's ambitious and struggling. We're shitting on it because it's a predatory fraud, bilking people of literally tens of thousands of dollars for a game that apparently is never going to exist. I suppose I could just throw up my hands and say "not for me, move on". But one thing that's fun about being a gamer is the sense we are a community and that our feedback is listened to by developers. I'm pretty sure RSI is ignoring people like me but I have some vain hope that other developers are watching the unfolding fraud and saying "gee, we better not do that".

As for transparency in development, the history of the release schedule has been erased. But the Internet is forever. Back in June 2014 when they'd already taken $37M of people's money they were promising a full release by end of 2016. So far what they've released is a couple of pieces that by all accounts are not particularly playable.

Remember when Neal Stephenson took $500,000 for the game Clang via Kickstarter? And then never shipped a working game, but kept the money? At least that was a one time $500k and arguably not intentional fraud, just a bunch of people who had no idea what they're doing. RSI has been milking this Star Citizen cow for 5+ years now. $185M. Where is the game?

No Man's Sky is a good counterpoint; they also overpromised and took people's money on lies. But only $60 each, and in the intervening two years they've been making good on the promises. I think it's still more a failure than a success but I admire the good faith effort to deliver, and I've had a lot of fun playing it over time.
posted by Nelson at 9:25 AM on June 5 [8 favorites]


It doesn't take $185 million to make a video game.

I was wondering about that claim, this Wikipedia article is helpful. Only 3 games have total budgets over $185M; Star Wars TOR, GTA V, and Call of Duty: MW2. That includes marketing budget; if you look at development costs only, SW:TOR is the only one more expensive.

This list doesn't include ungoing developed games like World of Warcraft or League of Legends, I imagine their total development budgets are also well over $100M.
posted by Nelson at 9:28 AM on June 5


I'm open to the idea that RSI/Star Citizen is doing things in a way that other game developers don't and that eventually it could work out. I'm repeating myself but I really want to make it clear:

Star Citizen has been in development for six years and does not yet have a stable base for a game. I'm not talking about features or ambition or anything else. You cannot reliably walk around and fly spaceships in this first person spaceship game.

Just think about that for a while.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:41 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


But one thing that's fun about being a gamer is the sense we are a community and that our feedback is listened to by developers.

And why it's important to talk about here! I could have been a victim of this scam, I mean, a Wing Commander MMO? Take my fucking money! But I read about it here and got wise.

So thank you. Friends don't let friends get scammed.
posted by adept256 at 9:41 AM on June 5 [5 favorites]


(PS, I am now downloading the latest SC release, because if I'm going to complain about it, I should know what I'm complaining about.)
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:45 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Splunge, I was going to make the same joke, except it was "Chris Roberts and Derek Smart".

Funny. Derek has been the biggest critic of RSI. Check out his blog for some really cutting commentary.
posted by Splunge at 9:59 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]


A "grand vision" is pretty much a sine qua non of a large-scale fraudster. It is no response to the charge that a person cannot deliver on their goals to say, but but but, the goals are really big! That is pure cognitive distortion, and many people will be happy to exploit it to relieve you of your money.
posted by praemunire at 10:27 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Derek has been the biggest critic of RSI

Game recognize game, bruh.

Also, isn't Derek out, like, $250 on SC?
posted by hanov3r at 10:38 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]


> hanov3r:
"Derek has been the biggest critic of RSI

Game recognize game, bruh.

Also, isn't Derek out, like, $250 on SC?"


He got a refund then got banned from their community. That's what set him off on his current crusade. And, just because I can't do it, doesn't mean I can't comment on someone else using it to rip people off.
posted by Samizdata at 11:04 AM on June 5


polywomp: I haven't heard from him for a few years so he must have realized I was never going to buy in or he became disillusioned himself. Seems cultish to me.

That sounds very much like the shirttail relative who tries to rope you into Amway.

Nelson: Remember when Neal Stephenson took $500,000 for the game Clang via Kickstarter? And then never shipped a working game, but kept the money?

At the risk of beanplating, you make it sound as if there were any money left to keep. Neal's last update says that he sunk some of his own money into the project (amount unspecified, although he said that he had "absorbed significant financial losses") and issued refunds to "around two dozen" backers who had previously requested one, in the total amount of $700. Whether he took any salary while it was still a going thing, or suffered "significant financial losses" only compared to what he could have made from writing another book, is also unsaid.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:04 AM on June 5


I hate that games are no longer fun entertainment. Now they're a monthly bill. And that's just to play and lose. If you want to win, it's an additional charge.

Not interested.
posted by prepmonkey at 12:58 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Huh. Looks like my original plan of waiting for a Steam sale has panned out.
posted by suetanvil at 1:27 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Also, in Roberts' lukewarm defense, I think this is incompetence and hubris rather than a deliberate scam. It's really easy for a game to grow to fill its budget and for someone who is bad at business but doesn't know it to fail to lock down scope and expenses.

The documentary series Double Fine Adventure (youtube) which documents the making of Broken Age is really interesting for (among other things) going into the finances of game development and how that interacts with artistic vision. For Broken Age, Double Fine did a kickstarter for what they expected to be a small, low-budget niche game and ended up with $3 million. So they ended up making a much bigger, much more expensive game, burned through the Kickstarter money and had to juggle revenue around in various ways to finish the game, ultimately breaking even. And this is a company with real finance people and a track record of finishing stuff within reasonable time and budget constraints.

Mind you, this is all speculation but given the sheer volume of money pouring into Star Citizen Forever, I can totally see them burning through it as they dither around trying to get the perfect design.
posted by suetanvil at 2:31 PM on June 5


> suetanvil:
"Also, in Roberts' lukewarm defense, I think this is incompetence and hubris rather than a deliberate scam. It's really easy for a game to grow to fill its budget and for someone who is bad at business but doesn't know it to fail to lock down scope and expenses.

The documentary series Double Fine Adventure (youtube ) which documents the making of Broken Age is really interesting for (among other things) going into the finances of game development and how that interacts with artistic vision. For Broken Age, Double Fine did a kickstarter for what they expected to be a small, low-budget niche game and ended up with $3 million. So they ended up making a much bigger, much more expensive game, burned through the Kickstarter money and had to juggle revenue around in various ways to finish the game, ultimately breaking even. And this is a company with real finance people and a track record of finishing stuff within reasonable time and budget constraints.

Mind you, this is all speculation but given the sheer volume of money pouring into Star Citizen Forever, I can totally see them burning through it as they dither around trying to get the perfect design."


I agree about 70%. Not everyone involved with the project is quite so hapless as Chris. If I would have to point at people I think might be involved with loving the lifestyle I might point at his missus, Sandi Gardiner, the effectively failed actress, and Ortwin Freyermuth, the German lawyer.
posted by Samizdata at 3:39 PM on June 5


I hate that games are no longer fun entertainment. Now they're a monthly bill. And that's just to play and lose. If you want to win, it's an additional charge.

That's a hilariously po-faced way of viewing what is probably the best period of video gaming since 1998.

Anyway, with Star Citizen, pointing at laughing at the evil and/or incompetence is the game. And if by an astonishing miracle it produces something worth your time, you can drop the $50 and buy it. It's literally risk free entertainment.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:59 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Hey cool... we're now in to murder level money. Time for a dead pool on when the first person to get murdered over this game AND who it will be...
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:29 PM on June 5


It's literally risk free entertainment.

When I first started learning about this stuff that's what I thought, too, but now it seems to me more like Scientology or something. Real people are getting fleeced here.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:49 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]


Update:

So I downloaded Star Citizen after having removed it to free up some hard drive space. I have to say it's... slightly better? At least it's slightly better than the last time I played it four months ago, but still worse in terms of performance and bugs than the first time I played it three years ago. They've changed how the camera moves when you walk so that your UI bounces up and down rather than the entire scene. (What I really want to know what ding-dong at RSI didn't realize that your body has a built in system to ignore your eyes bouncing up and down when you walk and that adding that effect back in visually was bound to cause motion sickness. I have a suspicion that someone thought it was more "realistic".)

However, I still cannot get in my spaceship and do a mission without being destroyed or otherwise incapacitated by a bug. I'm not talking about performance or framerate issues. The game is slow and laggy, but I'll give a graphically intense game that hasn't been optimized a pass, since I'm running it on a mid-tier gaming PC. I'm talking about just game stopping bugs in one of the main gameplay elements of the game, which is getting in your spaceship and shooting another spaceship. They don't have a stable working core game, and yet I happened to notice that they had time to add in the model of some leftover noodles on the console where you call your ship. So, I still think their priorities are a bit messed up.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:09 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


I'm running it on a mid-tier gaming PC.

How does it compare to what was top of the line when they started development?
posted by aubilenon at 9:31 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


PATCH: having noodles in the cockpit no longer causes ships to randomly detonate
posted by murphy slaw at 9:39 PM on June 5 [4 favorites]


I fear this whole thing has caught Ultima 9 disease, where the sheer scale of the undertaking and the required deliverables go way beyond the underlying technology cycles driving the game engine. Thus the size of the 8 ball you are behind ends up getting bigger because your content design delayed your gameplay and feature complete engine, which delays your future content in a continuing cycle. Historically this cycle ends when someone who has the power to do so insists on a release. I do not know what this looks like in a high profile crowd funded release.
posted by Typhoon Jim at 9:42 PM on June 5 [2 favorites]


Pssst, Kerbal Space Program has been out for a few years.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:16 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]


Yup, KSP's great. And its predecessor Orbiter is free. For the strongest "owning your own spaceship" feel I've had in ages from a game, add the Altea Aerospace mod, and remember to turn on the fasten seatbelts sign before any high-G manoeuvers.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 5:02 AM on June 6 [2 favorites]


Star Citizen has been in development for six years and does not yet have a stable base for a game. I'm not talking about features or ambition or anything else. You cannot reliably walk around and fly spaceships in this first person spaceship game.

This jumped out at me. Best practice for making a game is to make a prototype that's as small as possible that lets you have the same kind of fun you're expecting to have in the finished product. For some genres, like MMOs, this is probably too hard, but you can at least build one system and make sure what you have is fun. It's hard to turn a not-fun game with lots of systems fun, but it's much easier to expand a game that's already fun and have it stay fun.

For instance, the hugely ambitious Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, started off as a 2D game using sprites from the original, but it has cooking, simple combat and weather. They wanted to make getting from point A to point B fun, which isn't always the case in Zelda games (usually, it's the dungeons that are fun).

If you're making a game like Star Citizen, and you don't have some kind of indicative flight model six years in, you've fucked up.
posted by Merus at 5:17 AM on June 6


I fear this whole thing has caught Ultima 9 disease

How's Lord British's new game-changing MMO coming along? I think it actually launched in March...
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:45 AM on June 6


Shroud of the Avatar is functional, did largely what was promised over a year ago when I last played it and really did launch back in March. This'll be the third time in two weeks I've stated this somewhere on the internet, but once again for good measure, I really do need to fire it up again and see what's changed, and make my permanent character.

As for the whole star citizen debacle. I'm firmly of the view that's a pyramid up there.
posted by diziet at 7:28 AM on June 6 [1 favorite]


I'm legit curious about Shroud of the Avatar. It seems like a bit of a mess but I'd be happy to be wrong.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:35 AM on June 6


Best practice for making a game is to make a prototype that's as small as possible that lets you have the same kind of fun you're expecting to have in the finished product.

The alpha builds of Minecraft did this, and honestly everything that got added since was just extra. The basics of it were already there, and pretty great. Ditto Kerbal Space Program- they're the only two games I've bought pre-1.0, and both because they were clearly already fun as they were, and if the studio disappeared in a puff of smoke the next day I had already gotten my money's worth.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:37 AM on June 6 [4 favorites]


my money being, like, $15 max. So, a low bar.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:37 AM on June 6


BTW, Factorio may also be worth paying for pre-release. It works and is fun to play. The main reason I don't play it more is that it seems to use the same parts of my brain that my job does.
</derail>

But yeah, I sort of enjoy Star Citizen in the same way I enjoy EVE Online--reading about the latest drama when it comes up.
posted by suetanvil at 9:26 AM on June 6


> Merus:
"Star Citizen has been in development for six years and does not yet have a stable base for a game. I'm not talking about features or ambition or anything else. You cannot reliably walk around and fly spaceships in this first person spaceship game.

This jumped out at me. Best practice for making a game is to make a prototype that's as small as possible that lets you have the same kind of fun you're expecting to have in the finished product. For some genres, like MMOs, this is probably too hard, but you can at least build one system and make sure what you have is fun. It's hard to turn a not-fun game with lots of systems fun, but it's much easier to expand a game that's already fun and have it stay fun.

For instance, the hugely ambitious Zelda game, Breath of the Wild, started off as a 2D game using sprites from the original, but it has cooking, simple combat and weather. They wanted to make getting from point A to point B fun, which isn't always the case in Zelda games (usually, it's the dungeons that are fun).

If you're making a game like Star Citizen, and you don't have some kind of indicative flight model six years in, you've fucked up."


It is that way all the way down. They have been promising VR support all the way down for the longest time and statements Chris et al have made intimate it is pretty much flipping a switch. Never mind the respawn animation being a basic VR vomit comet as well as so much else. Animation cycles like that are core mechanics. You need to design for VR since day one.

SC is a prime example of all sizzle and no steak.
posted by Samizdata at 10:58 AM on June 6


Why anyone gives these people a single dollar is completely beyond me. Contrast Starbound, a similarly ambitious space exploration concept that started taking pre-orders in April 2013, had a playable early access beta by December 2013 and was completed by 2016. Granted, it's in 2D, but it's a very complete and well-realized game and scratches the No Man's Sky itch in a satisfying way.
posted by Pfardentrott at 11:06 AM on June 6


I fear this whole thing has caught Ultima 9 disease

Ultima 9 was a buggy, unfinished mess, but it kind of created whatever you want to call the sub-genre that contains Gothic, Oblivion, The Witcher, Skyrim, Divinity II, Risen, Two Worlds, etc.

Maybe several years from now someone else will come along and successfully make the kind of seamless open-world space game that people were hoping Star Citizen could be.
posted by straight at 1:11 PM on June 6


Maybe several years from now someone else will come along and successfully make the kind of seamless open-world space game that people were hoping Star Citizen could be.

Well certainly someone will do that eventually. Is Star Citizen is paving the road for this in any meaningful way.
posted by aubilenon at 2:17 PM on June 6


Ultima 9 was a buggy, unfinished mess, but it kind of created whatever you want to call the sub-genre that contains Gothic, Oblivion, The Witcher, Skyrim, Divinity II, Risen, Two Worlds, etc.

Elder Scrolls Arena->Daggerfall->Morrowind->Oblivion->Skyrim

Daggerfall predated Ultima 9.
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:02 PM on June 6


New information here. The marketing copy here should make you as nauseous as it did me. (Only concierge level players, at $1000 invested, can even BUY the $27,000 package.)

(Also, it backs up my CIG comments.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:44 PM on June 7


> rhamphorhynchus:
"Yup, KSP's great. And its predecessor Orbiter is free. For the strongest "owning your own spaceship" feel I've had in ages from a game, add the Altea Aerospace mod, and remember to turn on the fasten seatbelts sign before any high-G manoeuvers."

The best part of KSP is Scott Manley videos. FIGHT ME!
posted by Samizdata at 7:58 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]


Elder Scrolls Arena->Daggerfall->Morrowind->Oblivion->Skyrim

But it wasn't until Oblivion that the series caught up with all the things U9 did (or tried to do).
posted by straight at 12:05 PM on June 8


Hmm. Maybe I need to replay U9. It's under a buck on GoG right now, so. Yeah.

What I remember is the same sort of stuff the one-star reviews there say but now I'm curious. I've always thought of U7 as the last 'real' Ultima.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:00 AM on June 9


FIGHT ME!
Fly safe.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:45 PM on June 19 [1 favorite]


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