Star Citizen – The Fall

Star Citizen – The Fall

As a once promising project races toward its destiny with disaster; we’ve all got a front row seat to the spectacle.

SEE THAT GUY ON THE LEFT? HE’S COMING FOR YOUR JPEGS

CRYTEK SUES THE MAKERS OF STAR CITIZEN & SQUADRON 42

On Dec 12th, 2017, after several months of going back and forth, in what was said to be an attempt to hash out an amicable solution, Crytek, the developers CryEngine, says it was left with no option but to take legal action against the developers of Star Citizen. I wrote about it briefly back in Dec.

To pursue the lawsuit, Crytek hired one of the top law firms in the US, Skadden. A law firm with so many accolades, that my guess is that Ortwin’s heart probably skipped a beat when he found out who was suing them. Forbes once called them “Wall Street’s Most Powerful Law Firm“. These are the same guys who won a $500M judgement in the Zenimax v Oculus case. They neither take on small cases, nor do they take cases that didn’t have any merits or a chance of them winning.

They filed the complaint in Federal, instead of State court, due to their claims being more than $75K in damages – the bar for filing in Federal court. They later filed an amended complaint based on – as we later found out – discussions with CIG during which Ortwin had provided them with a copy of his waiver which allowed him to negotiate the GLA for both parties on either side of the table. The subsequent RSI/CIG answer to the lawsuit was so utterly insane, that many have viewed it as nothing but a PR move directed at the backers, investors etc. And it pretty much set the stage for the follow-up Crytek response which, among other things, remained direct, factual, and professional. My only disappointment is that they still opted not to include the conflict waiver which even Ortwin failed to include in his response, though he saw no problem filing a highly confidential document (the GLA) in public, rather than under seal.

The lawsuit filing sparked controversy not only among the backer base, but the videogame industry in general. We even had “attorneys” on YouTube chiming in with their opinions; some of which were so utterly ludicrous, that they only serve as a reminder of why there are some very good, and a lot of very bad attorneys.

Since the original filing, there have been various filings in the case, with the latest eye-opening one being a response filed yesterday Jan 26th, by CIG. It’s not only amazingly unprofessional, but also serves as even more evidence that Orwin has to be the one writing and/or directing these responses, while just using FKKS as the attorneys of record. I refuse to believe that a firm like that, and with attorneys like Goldman, could pen something like this. Given my experiences with Ortwin, these responses have his trademark unprofessional conduct, hostility, and infantile innuendo all over them. FKKS certainly do have a problematic client on their hands; but hey, as long as they are paying the bills (with backer money), who cares?

Even setting my bias aside, my opinion is that not only is the judge likely to throw out the entire Motion To Dismiss on Feb 9th (the day she rules on it), but even if she doesn’t, whatever survives is guaranteed to set RSI/CIG on a collision course with disaster. Given the fact that this has been personal (e.g. several Crytek engineers and staff either left or were poached by CIG) since day one, as is further evidenced by Ortwin’s filings, whatever talk of settlement that is sure to ensue in the coming months is going to be a major test of ego. Given their secrets, and everything that myself and several others (some who still work on the project) know of behind-the-scenes shenanigans, I personally don’t see how RSI/CIG could possibly risk discovery and depositions in this case, let alone screw around long enough to see it go to trial. I just don’t see it. And given the amount of money involved, coupled with the fact that the liability insurance claim is probably going to be denied on merits alone, I have to wonder where the money is going  to come from if there is a settlement. This isn’t a “couple of million” Dollar liability here, and I would be completely shocked if Crytek go for anything less than $50 million as a starting point. Especially given the seriousness of the claims, coupled with the amount of money RSI/CIG claim (they lie about everything) to have raised since signing the GLA back in Nov 2012.

For now, we just wait to see what the judge comes up with after Feb 9th. Whatever it is, that’s what is going to set the stage for what comes next. Meantime, you can follow my coverage of the lawsuit in this mega-thread on my forums.

IN TIME YOU WILL KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO LOSE. TO FEEL SO DESPERATELY THAT YOU’RE RIGHT, THEN TO FAIL ALL THE SAME…

DREAD IT. RUN FROM IT. DESTINY STILL ARRIVES

STAR CITIZEN – STATE OF THE GAME SCAM

LOL!! It’s a complete disaster.

YES, 3.0 IS TOTALLY THE MVP

After hyping it since 2016, promising, then failing to release it in Dec 2016, they hobbled along all year to get the barren moons working, and which I wrote (1, 2) about during the year. Then, precisely as I had predicted in June 2017, they subsequently released it to testing in Oct 2017, amid a major fiasco and backlash from the backers. Then they released it as-is in Dec 2017, largely unplayable for most backers, due to not only networking and performance issues, but also major bugs, crashes, lockups etc.

Sure, after seven years, $176m raised in crowd-funding, and with over a dozen shell corporations around the world, it’s perfectly normal for a project – which has zero innovation, let alone technical achievements – to still be in pre-Alpha stage and not even 20% completed. And to top it all, even as clueless and naive backers continue to swallow lies wholesale, and thinking that most of the issues were in the networking, even the lead networking engineer had to come out and defend his work.

Then, hilariously – and I kid you not – they started selling plots of land in a game that neither exists, nor has ANY game play mechanics to support that.

For some time now I had written that all signs pointed to 3.0 being the Minimum Viable Product that Chris Roberts had been talking about, even as he started saying that the project was now like early access.  I believe that’s where things are now.

…and, awh, wuh… we’ll have what will sort of determine a sort of… MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT FEATURE LIST for what you would call STAR CITIZEN the COMMERCIAL RELEASE, which is basically when you say, “OK! Ah, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more COOL STUFF and MORE CONTENT and MORE FUNCTIONALITY and MORE FEATURES”, which by the way includes some of… the LATER STRETCH GOALS we have cos not all of that’s meant to be for ABSOLUTELY RIGHT HERE, on the commercial release…” – Chris Roberts, April 2016

THE NEW 2018 SCHEDULE

This week they unveiled the new website, which came with a new dev schedule, yet another ToS (more on this later) revision, and several whale related perks. The new website is just a bad and confusing as the previous one. And this is their third website make-over since 2012. In this one, the funding chart is now also buried in a development sub-menu.

The new dev schedule, like the previous version, is a load of bullshit; except it has a new format. It’s so ludicrous, that not even the most devout backers are buying it. And it comes with a new format caveat that’s worth the read.

On Jan 5th, in a bulletin (archive) which was linked in this discussion on the official forum, they had stated that the next patch wasn’t due out until end of March. They updated the bulletin to remove, pretty much everything they previously stated in it. And we all noticed that the new items in 3.1 to 3.4, in no way, shape or form, reflect the 3.x schedule that was shown back in 2016, and through 2017. It’s completely unbelievable to me that after all this time of saying that they were basically making shit up and blatantly lying to backers, that they really think this is all normal.

And they still have not released the promised schedule for Squadron 42. Remember this Oct 2017 newsletter? Yeah, me too.

Squadron 42 will be the focus of our Holiday Livestream in December, where we will preview some gameplay and share our roadmap for its completion.” – Chris Roberts, Oct 2017

Hey, remember back in 2016 when I wrote that sources said the game – if they ever made it that far – was never going to see a release before 2020? That was conservative, seeing as we’re in 2018 now.

FRESH WHALE MILK PERKS

In what came as a shock only to backers without a pulse, the new website also came with new perks for whales. I kid you not. Going forward, if you spend more than $10K on the game, basically a Wing Commander (tiers) level, you get a free F8 ship. Yes, the same ship which, like others before it, they had promised never to sell. All this backer has to do now is buy anything that puts him above $10K, and gets to be Legatus Navium.

YES – THESE THIEVING, LYING BASTARDS, BASICALLY INVENTED A NEW RANK AND INSERTED IT

Meanwhile, over at that circle-jerk hug box, the reception (1, 2) is a mixed bag.

ABOUT THAT NEW GAMEPLAY TRAILER

I’m just going to let PC Invasion explain this one, because most of us, even backers, are baffled.

“In other news, CIG has kicked out a new trailer for Star Citizen covering different aspects of the game. It’s eight minutes long and it’s not exactly a fair representation of what new backers will find. First of all, the alpha looks relatively smooth in the trailer but that’s not what you’ll get in the game currently. They’ve managed to avoid showing it running at 10 FPS, although you can see cutting away quickly from dodgy looking segments. It also looks super exciting and stacked full of content that’s ready to go, but let’s face it, the Alpha is still a shell of a ‘game’.

It’s actually a shame CIG have released this, while I understand they need more money, it’s just not a fair representation of Star Citizen currently. Considering people have to pay to play, it could be considered false advertising. Take a look…”

CRAP LIKE THIS IS WHY WE FIGHT

WAIT! THERE’S ANOTHER TOS CHANGE

I called this one back in Sept when I heard about it from sources. At the time, it was speculated that it would be released with the new website which was also expected to go live around the time of the 3.0 “release”. But the website didn’t launch, 3.0 was an unmitigated disaster, then the holidays happened. So now we have yet another TOS revision dated Jan 25th, 2018. Compared to the previous June, 10th, 2016 TOS version, it’s amazing.

If you have been following my TOS forum which tracks these changes, then you should already be familiar with how they have systematically not only revised them to continue screwing backers, but also to reduce their liability and obligations. This latest version is worse. First of all, the Fundraising & Pledges section has been completely re-written – again. It also now comes with a disclaimer:

RSI is conducting a crowdfunding campaign to support the development of the Game and the related RSI Services. You do not purchase anything, you make a pledge towards the development of the Game and the other RSI Services. Your pledge entitles you to receive the selected in-game items when they are developed and introduced into the Alpha releases of Star Citizen and/or to receive the game Squadron 42, as selected. Please read this clause carefully to understand the differences between crowdfunding and a purchase.”

Not sure how they are now going to explain charging VAT in EU nations.

If you thought the above was bad, wait, there’s more…

The Pledge Funds will be earned by RSI at the earlier of:

  • when the Pledge Item becomes functional in Star Citizen’s Alpha Persistent Universe (or is delivered separately, such as the game Squadron 42), or
  • when your Pledge Funds have been expended for the Game Cost.

Yes. So basically, once you have bought into the game, say they implemented a particular ship which you own, they can deny you a refund, even though the rest of the game may be incomplete and not delivered at the time.

Remember back when I said 3.0 was the MVP? Now we see why sources were saying back in the Summer that this TOS coming with 3.0 was going to set the stage for what was to come.

Then, buried in the Miscellaneous Terms section at the bottom is this…

Governing Law. These TOS shall be governed and construed by the laws of England and Wales. The competent courts of Manchester, England shall have the non-exclusive right to hear any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms of Use. As noted in these TOS, your conduct may also be subject to other local, state, national, and international laws.

These clowns really think that, with their head office and base of operations being here in the US, that if they are sued under the TOS, that a US court is going to totally allow an English court to have jurisdiction. I can’t wait.

Ortwin Freyermuth is a moron.

ERRATA

The new website also came with an updated community events section. Curiously, this year they are skipping the expensive spectacle that is the annual GamesCom (held in Germany) event – one of their biggest fundraising periods. Which is strange when you consider that barely three weeks ago, they sent out an email to concierge (big spenders) backers inviting them to a meet and greet in the LA office. For $350.

AFTER SPENDING THOUSANDS, PAY $350 + HOTEL + TRAVEL ETC TO MEET THE CLOWNS YOU GAVE IT TO

In closing, Chris Roberts recently went live on Twitch taking questions (chosen by his staff of course) from the backer community. You can watch the full thing below. The whole thing is the usual pure and utter bullshit. ALL OF IT.

It was absolutely astonishing to me, how this guy can consistently lie to the backers. I mean, take for example his answer about VR. anyone playing the game today, can see that – without a doubt – there is never ever going to be a VR version of it. Like ever. Yet, listen to this bit. In fact, SomethingJones who is the official “Croberts Translator”, has transcribed it.

YEAH on the VR FRONT, um, you know, the game’s very much built to be VR FRIENDLY because, you know… like al-um… almost all the UI is DIAGETIC and the stuff that isn’t we’re putting more into being DIAGETIC and we wanna improve the whole DIAGETIC FEEL… ah… so… ahh… you know… our biggest HOLDBACK on the VR is really just we’re still doing so much base level REFACTORING and the ENGINE and the RENDERER will, you know, be starting on you know, the X… the VULKAN, the X12 kinda REFACTOR as well, a-and we’re doing so much OPTIMISATION that we sorta feel like, ‘we’ve gotta get that done… FIRST’, and… get the base level engine stuff more like FINISHED, not constantly working REFACTORING

And then we’ll… we’ll PUT VR…

Cos we had actual, you know, VR support quite a while ago but again as we CHANGE stuff it BREAKS and then your engine team, you go, ‘are they gonna go fix the VR stuff? Are they writing that new… that new… you know like the PROCEDURAL PLANETS that EVERYBODY can experience’, and… so that’s always been… that’s kind of what’s happened in those situations

But once all that stabilises of course we’re gonna go and get that supported and when we’re building things, you know, we’re aware of like I said the DI… putting everything in the world itself, ah… which is quite friendly for VR or… you know… and moving your head around and TRACKING the same thing it’s like… we track… ah… your HEADLOOK and actually, you know, I… I’d thought that we’d turned it on in 3.0 but it will be something that you can disconnect your LOOK from your AIM… as a PLAYER… ah, you know the AI can already do that…

Cos that’s also something that’s potentially useful where you’re… you know… you’re a CERTAIN way, you don’t have to look around to like move your gun to look at it” – Chris Roberts, Jan 2018

Does any of that sound familiar? It should because you probably read it here

The status of VR integration is that we’ve been pretty busy with getting [Alpha] 2.0 [out] and we’re trying to get 2.1 so I would say we still have some stuff to integrate from the most recent CryEngine drops. They’ve been actually doing quite a lot of VR, I’m pretty sure you guys have noticed that they’ve completely doubled down and they’re all VR now.

So there are some updates on VR that we need to integrate in. It’s a little more complicated because we’ve changed the engine so much, we’ve changed the rendering pipeline to enable us to do a lot of things that we need to do so it’s not very easy. Nowadays we’ve diverged from CryEngine where we don’t take regular updates from them any more although we will cherry pick certain features that maybe we’re not working on that we think would help out well and VR is a good example of that.

So it’s really just a matter of getting some engineering time in the Frankfurt team. The Frankfurt team… [includes many of] the guys that originally did the VR work at Crytek so they know it pretty well but I would be expecting it to get up to speed with the most recent [VR] stuff sometime early next year.” – Chris Roberts, Jan 2016

Then there was this bit about the schedule for Squadron 42. This was the same schedule that I mentioned above, and which was supposedly coming with the new dev schedule.

There will be at some point in the future.

So um, it, you know, ss… sss… Squadron’s… a little different because, ah, we’re not so… we’re not doing our quarterly releases… but I still wanna… I… but we are managing it exactly the same way… the roa… the THING that’s really COOL about the ROADMAP, and… I know I saw some discussion where people were like, ‘Hey! What about THIS and what about THIS?’, ah… but DON’T WORRY there’s a lot of STUFF that… it… still needs to…

But there… there… the… yeah, you know the whole season’s definitely in pro… the only reason why it wasn’t put in as a task there is because there is a TECHNICAL ISSUE with the INTERIOR GRIDS because the whole scene CONTRACTS and then EXPANDS and 100% the art’s finished, it’s GOING to be in the game, ah… but… ah, the sca… the BIT where we were CONTRACTING, I explained the INTERIOR GRID which isn’t like ‘we don’t know how to do it’, or it’s, you know, a YEAR task or anything, it’s not… at all

It just doesn’t have a RESOURCE currently assigned to DO THAT so… they didn’t want to EXPOSE that EPIC on the ROADMAP until, ah, they had that and it was done

So that’s kinda what’s happening right now is that we’ve switched our development methodology to be a much… especially on Star Citizen… ahm, to be… sort of more DAY DRIVEN but we’ve also switched how we’re running the teams INTERNALLY, ah… to be much more AGILE team based so… before we were more PIPELINE based, programmers had a list of all the things they were working on, the designers had a list of things THEY were working on, artists and…

I mean we still have some pipeline aspects like the SHIPS, you know, WEAPONS, CHARACTERS… still pretty much a PIPELINE… but in terms of FEATURE development we’ve CHANGED IT AROUND so we’re building AGILE teams where you have, you know, the ENGINEER and the DESIGNER and the ARTISTS that will be supporting us helping that… ah, all sort of EMBEDDED together working on the FEATURE

And, ah… that is… fair amount… it’s fairly different that how we were doing it previously where a lot of it was… you know… the ENGINEER was given… you know… we had a TDD, here’s an attachment from ENGINEERING, they would go and WORK IT, here’s the things DESIGN needs to do once we get ENGINEERING here’s the thing we need from the ARTISTS

There would… you know… there’s COMMUNICATION and FRICTION that happens in that, so this is much more about having the sort of, kind of small team AGILE STYLE working

So but that does mean that we have to ah, we… ah… we CHANGE how we’re utilising JIRA which is our project management TASK TOOL that we use… ah, from sort of… a more… ss… more… ah, you know… a bit, set up more like a PIPELINE, especially for the ENGINEERING DESIGN… to more the sort of TEAM TASK user story based which is where we’re going to

Now we did a LITTLE bit of it last year, uh… towards the end, ah… but now we’re doing it… CROSS… it’s gonna be EXACTLY THE SAME for EVERY SINGLE STUDIO across the COMPANY, ah, and we’ve… everyone’s… you know… fully on board with that, we have all our senior production over right now in the UK, ah… I think they’ll be in Germany next week, ah we’re working… we’re working on finishing it out

And the IDEA is that we ss… we… cos we… you know, UPDATING the… the ROADMAP like we did for 3.0 every FRIDAY was always just… a BIG SONG AND DANCE because we had things in JIRA but were displaying them this OTHER WAY then there was the LONGER TERM ROADMAP had so much stuff in it that the PRODUCTION was so busy doing other stuff that they didn’t really have the time to maintain it so it totally got OUT OF DATE

So they were updating the stuff that was for, ah… 3.0 but not later and it just… it just was… it was a lot of extra work

So we decided we wanted to expose essentially OUR project management software, the JIRA software stuff to the WEBSITE so TURBULENT built that whole roadmap TOOL, it basically takes it via the JIRA roadmap and we have settings inside our EPICS where we can say this is a PUBLIC EPIC, ah… and then we can put user facing descriptions, we can even add USER PICTURES

So DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, when they set up the EPIC that they’re working on they can set it up also for the PUBLIC FACING and it SCRUBS AUTOMATICALLY in

So the ADVANTAGE of that is we don’t have to manually update anything cos there’s lot’s of MISTAKES when you’re manually updating stuff. Everything will just reflect the state of the tool that we’re using to manage everyone across the company

Of course we’re not showing every single task because there’s THOUSANDS of tasks and the information is OVERWHELMING” – Chris Roberts, Jan 2018

Yes, the project is FUBAR, and we all have a front row seat to the unfolding ending.