“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence
I wasn’t planning on writing this blog. In fact, I have two other blogs in the works, and which spotlight the leads of this project at all the four studios, as well as the controversy (and secrecy) surrounding the funding tracker (see detailed breakdown), as well as the real backer (citizens) numbers. Then I received a massive info dump which both rattled (hint: they’re running on financial fumes) and surprised (hint: funding chart + backer count = pure bullshit) me. To the extent that we’re still poring over them. All that coming on the heels of Kotaku UK’s five-part series (start with this one) about the troubled development. So I was focusing on that material since that time, while working through what to share and what not share. Some things are better handled by the relevant authorities.
Then CitizenCon2016 happened. Squadron 42 (which I said back in 2015 was over 18 months away), the single-player campaign, despite Chris Roberts claiming it was coming in Dec 2015; didn’t make a showing. This past January, I even wrote a blog about cuts made to Squadron 42, the split into two (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) separate games, the additional chapters etc.
When the game wasn’t shown, all hell broke loose (1, 2, 3, 4) in the community (NOTE: CIG/RSI have a habit of removing controversial threads from their forums). Like literally. And the media had a field day (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) with that.
Not to mention that this past Summer, after again reading one of their June dev blogs, I warned that neither Star Citizen nor Squadron 42 was going to be a 2016 release. I repeated that warning in August. Pretty much the same thing I did back in July 2015 when after reading a prior dev blog, I concluded that the game – as pitched – could never be built. In my Sept 6th scoop, I again warned that it simply wasn’t happening. Shortly after that went public, CIG/RSI issued a non-denial denial to PC Gamer. I repeated this warning again in another post on Sept 20th. My Twitter feed has literally been ablaze (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about this very important milestone. Even when the media wrote about it, rabid fans, and in fact CIG/RSI, totally denied it; saying that since the website was still showing 2016 (like it did 2015 back in 2014), that it wasn’t delayed.
The reality is that Squadron 42, like it’s massively multiplayer parent, Star Citizen, will officially be two years late this Nov 2016. The outrage and backlash at this news were swift. What is surprising to some of us is that, even though we’ve known for sometime now that the majority backers were in for Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe), few of us expected such a backlash against Squadron 42 missing it’s date again. Then there’s this poll.
As these things go, a lot is lost in the translation because even as people are focusing on Squadron 42 being MIA at the show, most of them missed all the other even more important Red flags. Below is my synopsis of what the show meant, what was missed, and the usual inconsequential bullshit that some people tend to focus too much on.
PRE-SHOW : THE FLEECING
Before I even get to the fun part, I want to touch on what is now widely believed to be the single most blatant cash grab, and abuse of backer generosity, in forever. Here is how it went down.
Normally for these shows, they would do ship (either in JPEG concept stage, 3D model in hangar ready, or in-game flight ready) sales in order to raise money. This usually comes off the back of whatever bullshit lies Chris is peddling at the time; all usually designed to give the appearance of progress. It’s really like an Avon convention. If they were selling timeshares instead of cosmetics.
Anyway, so, regardless of the fact all these backers (around 500K, not the bullshit 1.5 million they keep lying about) – with skin in the game, and some going all the way to 2012, they decided to do a pre-sale of the Polaris ship concept (read: it’s a JPEG of a ship that’s not yet built; for a game that’s never getting done) at a price of $750 (<— not a typo). That started on Oct 8th. Here’s the fun part. Seeing as they are clearly cash strapped now, and need money, they restricted this sale to only backers in a certain class (CitizenCon ticket holders, Concierge Backers, Backers with subscriptions) at a discount of $625. Hilariously, that ludicrousness didn’t end there. They also restricted the sale to cash (as in new money) only. No credits. So a bunch of upstanding buffoons proceeded to quickly melt existing ship assets into credits; only to find out that not only could they not use them, but they’d now lost money on that particular transaction. Yeah. It wasn’t until Oct 9th, the day of the show, that they started to allow credits.
The result of the pre-sale? They sold 2400 of them to the tune of $1.44 million; thus setting the record as the second biggest single day (10/08/2016) for fund-raising; bested only by the last day (11/19/2012) of the original Kickstarter campaign.
When you consider the backlash over the abortion of the Oct 9th show, it’s clear why they did this before the show. Take a look at the metrics below. The first chart shows the sales projection spikes before, during, after the show. The second chart shows the citizens (not necessarily backers who paid money) spike during the GamesCom presentation in Aug, compared to the CitizenCon presentation in Oct. Note that they had a freefly (create account, check out the game for free) for GamesCom, but not for CitizenCon.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
ENTER THE VP OF MARKETING (SINCE SHE WAS A LITTLE GIRL)
So the show started (late) like it always does: With the prerequisite Sandi drama. We still can’t figure out why she has made “crying on stage at conventions” a thing. It’s surely not from guilt. At least I personally don’t think so. This time, quite shockingly, and much to the dismay of all her imaginary harassers and meme makers the world over, her intro didn’t last long. It was all over in under 2 minutes. Very disappointing. But I digress.
WE’RE EITHER HARD AT WORK, OR HARDLY WORKING
Next they ran the pre-requisite “for real, we’re not pissing away your money; we’re actually making a game – we think” montage video. The thing that’s easily missed, and which most of us have been harping on about for years now, is the revisionist history when it comes to the development of this project. Both CIG/RSI and some of their backers, work devilishly hard to not only knock off at least two years off the dev timeline, but to consistently compare the dev timeline of this project to that of other projects by experienced developers and publishers with a long standing history of shipping games. This despite the fact that if this project were at any publisher, it would have either been canceled or scaled down the minute they blew past $30 million while having nothing resembling a game. And despite the fact that the game currently has nothing that even puts it in the MMO category, they are also quick to point out that “MMOs take a long time to develop”. Except for that time when Chris and his people, even after making it clear from the beginning that the game wasn’t an MMO, suddenly decided along the way that they were in fact making an MMO after all. Just like that.
The indisputable facts are: Chris and co started working on the game at least one (1, 2) year ahead of the Oct 2012 Kickstarter. The game – as pitched – was promised to be delivered on or before Nov 2014. And even so, according to their own legacy ToS, they had a full
12 18 month delay period (which was removed in the current June 10, 2016 ToS btw). And that was for both games.
The business of game development, like all projects, is pretty straightforward. The prototyping (aka R&D) phase, isn’t free. It takes time, resources – and it costs money. There is no ignoring that. Even if you go back and scrap stuff, it doesn’t erase that time line, nor give you back the money spent. The time for R&D, building a team, setting up offices etc – you know, all the things that go into building a startup, are all factored into those time lines. So – again – the facts are clear. Chris Roberts has gone on the record saying that the project went into concept sometime in 2011. Even if you gave them that year as an allowance, that still puts the entire project – this Oct 2016 – at five years. But here’s the thing, Chris knew this, but went ahead and promised to deliver two games by Nov 2014 anyway. He even explained why it was imperative that the games be released within the promised timeline. Below are statements made on Oct 19, 2012.
“You have stated that you expect to have an Alpha up and going in about 12 months, with a beta roughly 10 months after that and then launch. For a game of this size and scope, do you think you can really be done in the next two years?
Really it is all about constant iteration from launch. The whole idea is to be constantly updating. It isn’t like the old days where you had to have everything and the kitchen sink in at launch because you weren’t going to come back to it for awhile. We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal. Any more and things would begin to get stale.”
But here we are – again – at another convention whereby CIG/RSI are basically doing the revisionist history thing. And that’s somehow supposed to build confidence. And better yet, in their new slides from this show, they now claim that Star Citizen production began in January 2013 when the Austin studio was opened. Hilariously, they’re also now pointing out that Foundry 42 in Manchester UK, the studio (headed by Chris’s brother, Erin Roberts) building Squadron 42, opened in January 2014. The same year that Squadron 42 was supposed to be delivered. But that’s all normal though.
Given the delays, you see where this is going now? Well, ask yourself this: all things being equal and truthful, across over 12 (<– not a typo) studios, and with over 500+ people having worked on this project since its inception in 2011; why is it that $127 million and five years later, they still haven’t even delivered a Beta of either game; let alone a finished product?
ALL ABOUT THE COMMUNITY
Anyway, they followed it up by a similar video tribute to the community (you know, the folks they’ve been fleecing for four years – straight). The latter I thought was great because – for once – they actually bothered to acknowledge all these people who had made this dream possible. Did I mention that a week before the show, they had put out a call for “I am a Star Citizen” video submissions to use at the show? I am not going to make fun of fans, in the much the same way that I don’t make fun of cos-players. But these were no cos-players. They were something else. You be the judge.
NOTE: I think when Sandi went backstage after her intro, she decided that it was time to ramp up the drama; because she came back, all prepped for bear. She spent the next 3 minutes talking up pure and utter bollocks. You could tell because i) none of it made any goddamn sense ii) she didn’t once look at the notes she had – not even once iii) her lips were moving.
ENTER THE QUINTESSENTIAL DREAMER
Next up was the man himself. Here’s the thing with Chris,
85% (90%) of the time, nobody has a f*cking clue what he’s saying. In between the waffling, and the incoherent babbling, you usually have to go back and rewind the tape to get is all. This time was no different, but it had flair. Because in between fleecing gullible nerds of their pension, retirement funds, disability checks, and food stamps, he had apparently discovered Shia LaBeouf’s “JUST DO IT!” motivational video. Seriously. And he repeated it maybe four or more times during the entire show. Not even Tim Robbins. Shia-freaking-LaBeouf. Makes sense if you ask me. It was so embarrassing; but at that point, most of us knew things were about to head straight into the toilet. But we didn’t know how far down. So we laughed. And waited. Then laughed some more.
But we braved on, because after all, who doesn’t like watching a train-wreck unfolding in real-time?
SPECTRUM COMMUNITY TOOLS
Next up was Turbulent (the guys who built the game’s website, backend, and community systems). Intro aside, that one droned on for a whopping 25 (!) minutes; which seemed like an eternity, seeing as people were waiting for the main event. Though I know why (segue from the previous community montage) they did it, seeing as the new tools (orgs, voice chat etc) were all community based. It was simply way too long, and could have probably been done in one of the shows (AtV or RtV) they tend to broadcast. But whatever. In hindsight, I now believe that this contributed to the disappointment that was to follow. I mean, think about this: some of these people paid for airfare to LA, hotel, food, tickets etc – to spend 30 freaking minutes of a 2hr show – watching a presentation about how they’re literally building Facebook and Discord into the project’s website. Seriously, that’s pretty much what Spectrum (as it’s now called) is. The last time they pulled this shit, was over a year ago. Same guys. They built this patently useless starmap, even though the game for that galaxy isn’t even 1% completed – to date.
At the end of the presentation, hardly anyone (other than devs & staff maybe) was clapping. And if you listening closely, you will hear one of the devs on stage say “Johnny’s not going on stage again“. Yikes.
THE POLARIS THAT WASN’T
When the Turbulent guy finally sauntered off-screen, and most of us woke up from our “wtf?” trance, a trailer started. All of us on the stream and surely those in attendance in LA, were expecting it to be Squadron 42. No such luck. It was a call-to-arms trailer for the freaking Polaris; encouraging backers to buy! buy! buy! Seriously.
A $750 JPEG image. Of a ship. That’s neither created, nor in the game’s hangar, nor flight ready.
You know what’s even more atrocious than this? The fact that not only do they have a massive engineering debt with these game ships, in which thus far only 23 out of the known 50, are flight ready, but some (like the recently revealed Polaris) aren’t even on the list yet. Then to make things worse, in an RtV broadcast this past April 8th, they stated – in no uncertain terms – that not all of these ships will even be flight ready when the final (lol!) game launches. And that was before Chris made his Minimum Viable Product (MVP) statement in the 104TC broadcast of April 18th.
So these guys went ahead and forked out $750 for an image of a ship, with no guarantee of it ever being in the game.
I should probably mention that the largest ship currently in the game, is the Starfarer which clocks in at around 100m long. And the game world can’t even host it without major issues. Well, this Polaris, at around 155m long, and wider, is going to be fantastic – if it ever gets built. The most hilarious part yet, is the fact that some of these ships require a crew of dozens (23 in the case of the Polaris btw). The game currently falls over – and dies with more than 8 people in an instance (oh wait! you didn’t know it was instanced?). And they haven’t got to the MMO part of the development yet.
It was so bad that when Chris came back on stage, someone in the audience actually yelled “Shame on you!” at him.
THE ROADMAP TO NOWHERE
When Chris started talking about the roadmap (image) for the various modules in Star Citizen, as well as Squadron 42, it became clear that not only were both games now delayed out of 2016, but also there was still a LOT of work to be done. In fact, let’s just stop talking about Star Citizen being done, because that’s just never – ever – going to happen.
What was shocking to everyone with a pulse, was not only that Squadron 42 was delayed again, but that they weren’t even going to show it. Not a playable build. Not a trailer. Not a demo. Like nothing. At all. Even more shocking was the sheer amount of work that was still left to be done. And for a game, of this scope, that was supposed to be out in Nov 2014. Then “end of 2015”. Then “end of 2016” (as currently written on the website). This all goes back to what sources have been saying for over a year now that a “game” simply doesn’t exist.
Amid the post-show outrage over pretty much everything about the show, are a bunch of bright Red flags from the roadmap, which shine a light on an even bigger reveal.
- The 2.6 patch which was supposedly coming out before or at CitizenCon, is also now delayed. In fact, as of this writing, it’s not even in Evocati testing.
- The major 3.0 patch, which Chris, this past GamesCom presentation, said was coming by “end of this year“, is apparently also now delayed. Which makes sense, seeing as 2.6 isn’t even out for testing yet. And note that he had promised the planetary terrain tech for this as well. More on that later.
- Star Marine, the fps module that was canned months back amid a massive outcry and subsequent backlash, is back on the menu. Neutered. In fact, it now only supports two modes, one of which they’re saying supports “up to 12 vs 12”
- Arena Commander, the dogfighting module which has been languishing these past months, is also supposedly now getting updates too.
- There’s farming – which was never a thing until Chris promised it – coming in 3.3. And it’s coming ahead of space game staple features which are now curiously further on in 4.0.
- And the BIG one. Star Citizen is not only completely delayed out of 2016, but is now panned all the way to the “end of 2017” as the 4.0 build. About that. We fact checked. Judging by what they have thus far delivered from the original promises back in 2012, all things being equal, and there being no further delays, and they do hit 4.0 by end of 2017; they would have delivered barely 30% (<— that’s not a typo) of what they promised. And that’s only taking into account the top level features, not all the underlying sub-features (image) and things (like farming!) which he promised along the way, even as he significantly increased the scope of the game. Oh, and that’s not even including the fact that ships like the Polaris, aren’t even in the schedule yet.
If you watched the video, you can see that there was hardly any enthusiasm for any of what was revealed. This is primarily due to the fact that backers are used to seeing Chris up on stage with these meaningless Powerpoint slides with promises. I mean, seriously, this whole year, the only things they’ve achieved – as far as what’s been shown – are bug fixes (currently at 2.5) to Star Citizen, one new base (GrimHex, which is still WIP), a shop (!) for buying clothes. That’s it. All of it. Zero tangible progress. Which is probably why the Squadron 42 outcry got so loud.
YET ANOTHER TECH DEMO
Following this, came yet another tech demo. This time showing the planetary 2.0 terrain tech promised at GamesCom this past August. This btw is what he claimed was going to be in the 3.0 patch that is due out “end of this year”. Here’s the problem with that: it’s simply not ready. Once again he is trying to pass off an R&D build as something that’s done, working, and ready to be implemented in a live build. While it is common practice for devs to create such demos and tech to show off, the problem that this project has is that five (four in dev) years and $127 million later, none of these games are close to even being completed. Not one. Instead, they’re still messing with prototypes, R&D etc under the guise that they will one day actually make it into either of these two games.
This tech demo was designed to show the planetary terrain. It would have been quite boring for them to have just shown it in the editor, devoid of context etc. Especially since they had already done this for an earlier build in an AtV session a few months back. So, just like the GameCom2016 demo (my thoughts on that fiasco), they created a scripted scenario to show the concept. Except that it was just bad. When you peel away the glitz, and look at what was presented, you are left with a lackluster presentation that is devoid of even the most basic technologies for a tech demo of a game that is in development.
While others have taken it apart (1, 2), the glaring issues* are that things like AI, pathfinding, proper vehicular dynamics/physics, atmospheric conditions – or even the expansive planet promised, are just missing. So, if the tech demo showing the new terrain tech is missing such fundamental building blocks of the game, all of a sudden it makes sense that both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 (which uses the same engines and tech) are so far behind in development.
Then to make things worse, not only did they have a desert planet, with desert themed NPCs, but also a frigging worm – straight outta
Compton Dune. Back during GamesCom when I did a review of that demo, I mentioned that they were not actually flying from space to planet seamlessly as depicted, that it was a scene camera transition made possible by CryEngine’s layering feature. Well, they got busted with this demo because when it glitched (e.g. the sand worm scripted sequence replayed when they went back to the space scene layer), viewers could clearly see what they were doing, and how. And until the console came up accidentally, it was unknown at the time that even the demo they were running, was on a separate map (Homestead) created specifically for the demo presentation – and with no relation to the actual game world.
In my career, I have developed and/or integrated all kinds of terrain technologies. It really isn’t rocket science, if you already know the science of that technology. Heck, right now, in UE4, Unity5, or CryEngine5 (NOTE: Star Citizen is using CryEngine3 which Brian Chambers recently said was modified by about 50% to create their custom engine), you can create an equally impressive terrain either procedurally generated, or from pre-computed heightmaps. You have tools like World Creator, Grome etc. Heck, have you see Outtera? How about Battlescape Infinity or Dual Universe?
This was neither impressive, nor groundbreaking in any way, shape or form. The problem they are having with this is that they are tasked with basically reinventing the wheel in order to add this feature (and whatever bells and whistles Chris dreams up) within the custom engine they have built with CryEngine3. The terrain generation itself doesn’t even appear to be “procedural” in any way, shape, or form. It appears to be a basic rudimentary height map based tiling system which they will be hard pressed to match in the live game at that visual fidelity. Remember, this was one player character, in a small area built to look huge – and with no networking.
They also showed their modified version of the CryEngine editor. Nothing further needs to be said about that because, aside from clearly being impromptu, and designed to show evidence (they failed with spectacular results) that what they had shown was all “in-engine” and not pre-rendered, there was nothing special about it. But they did get to show how significant it is to manipulate crabs (not even an aircraft, vehicle, character etc) in what, for all intent and purposes, is just your run-of-the-mill level editor. Aside from the fakery (courtesy of CryEngine’s layers) of going from one planet to space to another planet, they pretty much confirmed what most of us already knew: Like the GamesCom demo, this too was all a bunch of stuff hastily cobbled together. Heck, even the station seen from the planet surface during the demo, wasn’t actually there in the sky.
When all is said and done, it’s all rubbish. Not only is this planetary tech not likely to be in the upcoming 3.0 as promised, but you can just forget about that build entirely for now. What Chris did – again – is precisely what he did at GamesCom, and many times before that, whereby he made a bunch of promises to backers using an R&D demo build – and raised millions as a result.
In fact, shortly after the show, Erin Roberts, brother of Chris Roberts and head of Foundry 42 (UK), did an interview with GamersNexus. Here is an excerpt about what he said regarding this demo.
“Actually, [it was put together] with not a large team, because a lot of the focus has been on Squadron 42. We’re still working through, and obviously we’re going to show a lot of that stuff later. We just wanted to show what we could do with new technology. It’s just the start of it, because even the environments we have now, it’s just a bit of R&D work from five or six environment artists just working on how we can make stuff look. So, we know when we’re really into the production pipeline and making these planets and so forth, we can just [start making] amazing planets.”
* Shockingly, a day after the show, they released a new video of the demo with most of the glaring problems (left is new version, middle is original from Twitch, right is the actual stream) edited out. Here is a list (image). Imagine that.
FRIGGING UNPRECEDENTED & CATASTROPHIC ENGINEERING DISASTER
A lot has been written about the fate of this once promising project, so I’m not going to repeat them. Just read all my blogs, or the numerous articles already written by others. When all is said and done, the fact of the matter is that after all this time, and all this money, neither of these games is anywhere near completion. And with four studios worldwide, and as per the presentation, hosting 363 people; in addition to the 75 or more at the other third-party studios, the estimated and rumored $3 million per month burn rate is the elephant in the room. Not only is it not sustainable, but if sources are correct, Chris has practically blown through all this money from crowd-funding, in addition to investor money, as well as several bank loans. Which explains the need to continue raising money by fleecing backers like they just did with the Polaris pre-sale.
This is Freelancer – the last game project he worked on and was kicked off by Microsoft – all over again. But a lot worse.
We can’t tell people how to spend their money. So if an average of 2000 whale backers want to keep shoving money into a fireplace, who are we to protest? For my part, I take comfort in the fact that through my efforts, people are getting refunds which they are entitled to; while also bringing attention to what I now believe has evolved into a scam. The biggest issue for me is not only for people who felt lied to and misled, to get refunds, but also to bring attention to the fact that when this whole thing eventually collapses – as it is poised to – it will have long term ramifications for the industry. Not to mention a genre that I have spent the better part of almost three decades building products for. And when that happens, a lot will be lost in the noise of lawsuits (as I understand it, some are in the works; though this one has nothing to do with the project) and media articles – all after the fact.
To be clear, when I talk about it being a scam, I use the purest definition of the word: “a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people“. And by their own words and actions, that is precisely what I believe CIG/RSI are doing. There is nothing honest about blatantly lying to backers in order to buy more time, get more money, and lead them on as if everything is OK. That aside from the fact that the biggest scam was not only promising refunds for failure to deliver, but also subsequently taking that away when it no longer became convenient. Then there is the matter of financials. Again, backers were assured full financial disclosure if they failed to deliver by a date certain. Not only has that not happened, but also they have made no attempt to provide financial accountability to backers. So, when you promise 1) refunds and 2) financial accountability to backers in order to build confidence, then after getting the money you either take those assurances away, or fail to comply after-the-fact, that’s deception. And there’s your scam. No corporation could pull that stunt with an investor, or even a lending bank without serious ramifications and/or repercussions. As I type this, I can 100% guarantee that any standard investor or banker with money in this project, has had access to these financials. But not the very backers who made this whole dream possible, and who were promised those financials. Even as required by UK law, and facing criminal prosecution for not filing, they keep filing their financials late. So backers – at this point – still have no idea how the money has flowed to that studio. Not to mention the several shell companies surrounding the project.
And if that wasn’t dodgy enough, the new (and current) ToS from June, 2016, not only says that you’re not entitled to a refund, but they no longer even have to deliver a game – of any kind. So any money you give them from that date onward, is going toward the dream; and you shouldn’t expect anything back in return.
All that aside from the fact that since day one Chris Roberts has been blatantly lying to backers in order to continue his penchant for unjust enrichment.
There are so many gamers who backed this project and who want to see it succeed – even media. But when you have Shitizens (toxic backers who are waging an Internet war of attrition against dissenting opinions) going all out to quash dissent, attack, harass and insult others for having a differing opinion about the project, you end up with a project that even the most even minded people want to see fail; if only to point and laugh at those morons. And they are doing this to everyone. Just recently when Forbes writer Erik Kain wrote the first article about the delay entitled “Star Citizen’s ‘Squadron 42’ Single Player Campaign Delayed Indefinitely“, they descended on him because of his use of the word “indefinitely”. Because you know, “delayed indefinitely”, which is 100% factual, is somehow painting the project in a negative light. After changing the headline, below is his tongue-in-cheek comment on that.
“Per the request of many readers, I’ve changed the headline. Before it read “indefinitely” which means “for an unlimited or unspecified period of time” according to the dictionary and, you know, the English language.
The game was set for a 2016 release date, and has now been pushed back to a later, unspecified release date. Given that it’s such a long, long ways off from completion, this could really be any time. They are indicating 2017, but that’s far from certain. Hence, it has been delayed “indefinitely” rather than “until March 13th, 2017.”
Readers—superfans?—took indefinitely to mean “the game has been cancelled.” This is preposterous, of course, but better safe than sorry. Had I wanted to say the game is likely not going to release or is done for, I would have said so. Instead I pointed out that, rather than a delay to a specific time, the game has been delayed to an unspecific time.
Hence the new title which is hopefully less “clickbait” for your outrage. Of course, this is too late to stem the tide of anger and calls for my head and complaints to this publication and so forth. Fanboys rarely behave well, and this is another example of just such a time when my faith in fandom is rocked; or rather, my critique of fandom is bolstered.
I wrote an article about Star Citizen not long ago urging its critics to calm down and give it time; stop worrying, I argued, and let’s see what happens. Projects like these take times. My how the fans of the game loved me then. Point out that there’s maybe a little trouble in paradise, that the single-player game is not coming along as promised, and all that changes. Whatever. I’ll be your persona non grata today, as long as we can be best buddies tomorrow, oh thou fickle masses.”
“Star Citizen: stop taking us for fools…Put your money where your mouth is [Chris]! Stop talking stuff and finish at least Squadron 42! Regarding that ultimate MMO-Epos promised four years ago: let’s not even get started. I believe it, when I see it.”
There are other supporters of the project, who are also either media or bloggers who consistently try to write favorable but cautionary articles about the project. But the consistency in the rhetoric is that this project is so very toxic that if it stood any chance at success, nobody would want to play, let alone support it. In between the paid social media and streamers – most of whom don’t bother disclosing (once the lawsuits start happening, you will get to see these names in discovery – I guarantee it) this, contrary to FTC guidelines – and these Shitizens, you have an environment in which it is becoming harder and harder to write or say anything positive about the project. And that has nothing to do with the fact that there is hardly anything positive to write at this point, but all to do with spiting these toxic clowns. So what happens is that any hint of negativity immediately churns to the top – and makes headlines.
Chris, by his own words and actions, as well as that of his developers, has now proven – beyond a shadow of a doubt – that the game he pitched and promised simply cannot be built. What’s left now is to see if they survive long enough to ship even Squadron 42 EP1. I don’t believe that Star Citizen has a future; not even as the scaled down MVP. And worst of all, unlike Squadron 42 which is single player, when the project comes to its inevitable conclusion, Star Citizen – all of it – will be lost. Why? Well, even though it’s no MMO – and never will be – it is designed for always on backend cloud servers and services which someone has to pay for and maintain. Remember that even stable companies over the years tend to sunset backend server services such as multiplayer master and host servers, leaving gamers either to hack their own solution together, or no longer have multiplayer. In the case of Star Citizen, it’s a lot worse than that because there is simply no peer-to-peer service whereby players, via a server browser or direct IP connection, can host/join games. So, if CIG/RSI folds, the entire game goes with it. Completely.
It should be noted that private servers were in fact promised right in the original campaign. This would have allowed gamers to setup and host their own servers; thus allowing them to play even via direct IP connection in the absence (if CIG/RSI collapses) of a master server. See below, it says so right there in the campaign. They however came out and said that they’re not even thinking about private servers until after the initial release. My guess is that, if they survive long enough, at some point when it becomes clear that there can’t be an MMO, private servers will be back on the schedule. What’s hilarious is that, by their very nature, MMO games simply cannot have private servers hosted by players. But this is CIG/RSI, nothing ever makes any sense.
“Is Star Citizen an MMO?
No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.”
The key aspect for me in all this, is vindication. I’m old school; so it really is that simple. I never have – nor do I wish for – the project to fail. I backed it right off the bat because I too believed in the project, and in second chances (for Chris). My involvement is no different from any number of causes that people pick up and champion. Be it immigration reform, banking reform, save the whales, anti-vac etc. For me, it’s more of a cause, than it is a vendetta; and simply because I have spent almost 30 years in this biz, and win, lose, draw, what happens to this project, directly affects me. I abhor the idea of caging animals in zoos, I have never been to Seaworld, don’t go to the circus etc, but you don’t see me writing tomes about that. Why do you think that is?
I know that there may be industry contacts and friends who are probably upset with me over my involvement in this fiasco; but I would invite them to recall that right before I wrote that first blog that started this farce, I reached out to most of the key people and warned them that this was going to happen. The fate of this project, affects us all. Those who did go to Chris and spoke with him, and who still talk to him about my involvement in all this, are well aware of his responses. I will say it again: his ego, arrogance and hubris are going to be his undoing – again. And he has – once again – run out of time.
For now, it’s all a waiting game to see what comes next. From what I’m now hearing through various sources, it’s nothing good (aside from rumors that they will probably be showing a SQ42 segment at the next AtV show). At the end of the day, Star Citizen isn’t about a game anymore. It’s a rags to riches story of a group of people who struck Gold in the middle of a space combat game drought – and got rich.