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GAMESCOM 2017 – COVERAGE OF THE STAR CITIZEN TRAIN WRECK
So it’s here (Star Citizen GC2017 schedule) and backers waiting to see the much touted 3.0 build are already in shock over what’s on display. I will update this article until the end of the show when Chris Roberts goes live on Friday at 3PM EST. In the meantime, you can follow my coverage (Day 1, 2, 3) in the forums.
In case you were wondering; yes, it’s a major disaster so far. Yes, my sources were correct (1, 2) about the state of the 3.0 build; but not even I expected it to be this bad!
After one year (3.0 was originally coming on or before Dec 19th, 2016), they came to one of two very important (for the project) shows of the year with a basic CryEngine level consisting of a barren moon, which up to 12 clients can spawn into, and have two space craft, and two ground vehicles to use. That’s it.
Not only do they claim that most of the 3.0 features are “disabled”, but that they also have to reset the server every 10-15 mins in order allow other people to be able to play the game. Remember, this is supposed to be an MMO with “persistence”. So uhm, yeah – OK.
Basically, none of what both GameStar.de (I wrote about that here) and PC Gamer (I wrote about that here) were touting back in July, and which they probably had access to months before, were shown. Which leads me to believe that they probably pulled the same stunt by having a carefully created build for the media. Just like they have done in the past, and presented to backers.
The barebones 3.0 “demo” currently being played, has no game loop, and they are not even playing the current 2.6.3 build.
If you haven’t read my day three coverage yet, the highlight of it was the interview that Chris Roberts did with German Shillizen rag, GameStar.de (they hate me over there btw, because of Star Citizen). The most revealing part was the revelation that Squadron 42, which has been absent since the Godawful Morrow Tour in 2015, and which missed both GamesCom and CitizenCon in 2016, would not be shown at GamesCon 2017. That all but confirms what some of us already suspected and which I wrote about back in May, that it wasn’t a 2017 release. We’ll see if they cobble something of a reveal for CitizenCon 2017 in Oct.
And that’s not all. When asked if there was someone who is “stopping” him from trying to implement all his ideas, his response was, well, see for yourself.
Goon ambassador, SomethingJones has put together one of his notable transcripts of the interview. It’s an eye-opening read. He even goes as far as to compare Star Citizen which, after six years and $156M raised is still in pre-Alpha, and not even 15% completed, to Eve Online which was released as a complete game, then improved upon and expanded over the years. To me, this basically means that he knows that he stands no chance of completing the game, let alone two of them.
How much longer will we have to wait [for Squadron 42] ?
Well ya have to wait a little bit longer ah… I mean it’s going, it’s going really well aah, we’re not showing it here at Gamescon, aah… because… I… for me I want to have it at a… certain level of uh… POLISH and um, so… we’re working at get… getting it there but, ah, there’s a lot of the STUFF that we actually we show in our uh, UPDATES on ATV and a lot of… some of the STUFF in three point zero is specific STUFF that is ah, ENABLING and being used for um, Squadron 42 and in fact some of the STUFF that we, ahm, you know, introduced like the PLANETARY TECH, ehm, we also put into Squadron Um Forty Two, so there are, there is, you know… case… is when you… go down on like a MOON or a PLANET and it’s something like that, so…
… ahm, but no, it’s going… it’s going very well, it’s just… a huge amount of uh… HIGH QUALITY AAH PERFORMANCE AAH… and motion capture aah… DATA aah… that we’re bringing in and making sure that ahm… when the characters are moving around that they look really great and really fluid, going between like AI pathing like from one location to another… you know… merging into like… scenes that we shot with the characters so we’re… we’re really trying to… make you feel like you’re part of the story and feel like you’re hanging out with AI you know just running around and ehm…
… I think it’s gunna be really great, uhm-I’m-uh-eh-did… it’s… it’s ahm… s’gunna be… worth… the wait lemme put it that way
Is there one specific feature right now in the alpha 3.0 that you are especially proud of?
Well I… well I mean the planetary tech… so this is gunna be the first time that the community, ah, can go, and… and LAND on… in the case of Three Zero, mooooons, or in the case of this asteroid planetoid, they’re FULLY REALISED, every inch of ’em you can move around and explore and you can cir-cum-nav-i-gate the entire conference (sic) of the moon if you wanted to, ah, and… ah.. it’s ah.. you know… the amount of additional playable area that comes into the game now compared to what was in say two point six three, aah it’s HUGE and how much the game is gunna OPEN UP cos we’re introducing the planetary tech compared to what we were thinking we would have in the game… before…it uh… ah, you know… we sort of made the BREAKTHROUGH so to speak… uhhh… i-it’s really exciting, there’s a lot of gameplay that’s gunna come out of it, it’s one of the reasons why maybe things are taking a lot longer than… uhm… you know… SOME OF US… or you know… I’d like to… things move faster too… ah… would LIKE… ahh… but… once we’ve sort of opened up the potential of these planets we… because of the sort of DETAIL and the FIDELITY we’re going for, we also need to make sure that there’s… STUFF TO DO ON THE PLANETS
… and uh, you know… we are.. focused on STUFF, we’re not just creating the planets but also creating, sort of… ah… SYSTEMS that will uh… allow the… whether it’s… ah… you know… ECO SYSTEMS or uh… FLORA or FAUNA… aah… that… you know… MAKE IT ALIVE or THINGS TO DO ON IT or you need to sort of uh.. PROCEDURALLY YOU KNOW… create… little uh, OUTPOSTS or TOWNS or VILLAGES beyond the central landing zones, cos you know, the original version of STAR CITIZEN we were aiming to be a bit more like PRIVATEER or FREELANCER were we had indvidual sort of BEE SPOKE landing zones but you couldn’t explore the planet, you would essentially be in ORBIT around the planet and you would have a LANDING and we would have a CINEMATIC that would transition you down and then you were, you know, essentially moving round a small limited FPS area were you could go to a SHOP and BUY THINGS and go to a BAR and TALK TO PEOPLE and get a MISSION…
…aahhh… you know… get your SHIP REPAIRED GO BACK TO SPACE so…
ahh, you know NOW we have WHOLE WORLDS OPENED UP TO YOU so the amount of ah, potential for exploration, long term in the game, and for players to do THINGS, for instance, you know, maybe… CREATE THEIR OWN LITTLE BASE or their own little SETTLEMENT on a moon or you know a planet that no one else has sort of gone to that particular area is… is… HUGE…
…so the gameplay potential is amazing, we’re only just seeing the very very very beginnings of it in three point zero and I’m really excited, ahm, as we start to roll out more STUFF for three point one and beyond.
Will there be anything on Friday, maybe a small teaser [of Squadron 42] ?
Ah, no, no, not at Gamescon.
What’s the big part that is actually missing and preventing you from finishing Squadron 42? What’s holding it back?
Ah, well I mean the… the… the… the big part is kind of what I was talking about before which is sort of… aah… trying… we… we very much want to get the quality of the animation and how the AI move around to be the equivalent to what you see sort of in like pre-rendered cinematics… cos we spent all this time shooting with these amazing actors… we spent about A HUNDRED… just over a HUNDRED DAYS doing PERFORMANCE CAPTURE and that’s a MASSIVE amount of time to shoot so, for instance, most big-event movies are $150 to $200 million, they usually don’t shoot for more than a hundred days, so… they shoot maybe 80 days, 90 days, ahm… and ah… so… for the amount that we have there, we have all these great performances so it’s a vast amount of performance data and animation and motion, ah… and STORY… ah, we really want to make sure it comes across so when you’re playing the game and you’re moving around in it you’re… they’re… talking to you, you know, OLD MAN who is played by MARK HAMILL or, ah, you know, the various other characters that you’re, uh, playing, uh, the game… like alongside with…
… because you’re in… you’re basically inside this MOVIE as opposed to sort of… you know the WING COMMANDER 3 and the WING COMMANDER 4 was sort of… you… you… you were like the STUNTMAN flying the ship, you got on the back of the ship, you would see what MARK HAMILL did and you would say, “No! Go… sort of… take this choice or this choice!”, and, well in this case it’s YOU and you happen to be the LEAD STAR in the MOVIE…
… so getting that to be the fluidity that we want, uh, because it’s a huge story, ah, and dialling that in, ahm… is… you know, has been taking a BIT LONGER than we ANTICIPATED…
So what you’re saying is the other parts, for example the missions and stuff like that, they are further along?
Well yeah, no… no we have… we don’t… we… we… well we… we’ve… you know we’ve still… we’re still working on, uhm… say, the final like ASSETS AND STUFF but we’ve blocked out all the MISSIONS and chapter… what we call CHAPTERS… we have these CHAPTERS
…uh, that each one would sort of be the equivalent of… you know, several missions in ah, say a WING COMMANDER because they would be sort of… LINK…
You can already play those missions from start to finish?
Well so, so YES… we haven’t BLOCKED what you… what you… what you would call sort of DESIGNER… somewhere between white and grey boxes and levels we’re going to take to a more finished state but we’re taking ah, certain ones… we’re taking, so for instance we were talking about showing, ah, a sequence last year that was, ah, you know ONE SECTION of the story that we were gunna take to a finished level… and you know we’re still basically doing that, we’re in production on all of them… um… we, you know… we’ll be showing some things at some point… ah, just it’s not gunna be at Gamescon and I would hate to make promises because, ah, you know, last year I said, “well we’re planning to show, uh, ah, uh… you know… a… a… piece of some Squadron 42 gameplay” and then we ended up not getting it to the point where we were happy with… but we didn’t show it and everyone was very UPSET and ah, I felt kinda BAD because, one, we also showed some amazing stuff on the planetary tech… Homestead and all the sort of the next level of what the planetary tech was like and…
… that was actually like, in my mind, really great stuff, but… it was sort of… partly the HIGH of that was… was AFFECTED by the, uh… the fact that we didn’t show Squadron 42. But no, you know I mean, I would say it’s sort of the ANIMATIONS and the AI because we’re going for a level of AI that you don’t normally have so we want… ah… you know… when you’re on, say… the ship you’re serving on, at the beginning of the game it’s the STANTON which is an IDRIS CORVETTE, you know all the crew have their full, you know… they have a SCHEDULE, they get up in the morning they EAT BREAKFAST, they go about their JOB, you know they go GET LUNCH, go back to their JOB…
… have CHIT-CHAT over DINNER, maybe UNWIND…
… then go back to SLEEP…
You know, there’s a whole SCHEDULE and CYCLE and they’re… so we… it’s almost… like a level of sort of SIMS SIMULATION FOR THE AI, we’re also using that… the planet’s using that for the PERSISTENT UNIVERSE and uh… so just DIALING THAT IN WELL, ah, getting that WORKING, so that’s the SUBSUMPTION SYSTEM which we’re making GREAT PROGRESS ON so it’s in three point zero… all the missions run on subsumption… now all in Squadron, everything runs in subsumption whereas before it wasn’t, it was using sort of an older CryEngine system.
So just getting all that in, getting that all up to the level, and making sure that it’s ah… you know… PERFORMING WELL and LOOKING GREAT… DIALED IN to look as great or better than anything else… which is what it’s going to do… it’s just taking some time unfortunately.
What is the best way to experience Star Citizen? Are you going to play it on one monitor or two? With a gamepad? With keyboard & mouse? Is it for joystick? What is your personal preference?
Ah. Aaaaahhhh. That’s… ehm… kinda hard to qua… I mean we basically build the game and support the game for everything so… whether it’s… joystick, ahm… you know, gamepad… ah, keyboard mouse… ah, and they all have sort of pros and cons it’s sorta hard to say, I mean obviously for running around on foot and sort of the FPS stuff, um, keyboard mouse is probably the best
Ah, for flying I’d say that joystick, I mean I know there’s some people that feel like the MOUSE FLY is too easy and it gives people an edge but… I… I mean, I’ll just say that, like, when we do STUFF when we’re trying to fly stuff around, so for instance we were, ah, you know… ah, in the PRESS we were sort of showing a preview of what we’ll do on FRIDAY and I’m hoping people will like what we show… ah, so I don’t really wanna spoil it, it’s pretty cool, ah… but it would definitely have been better to have a joystick, ah, for the, ah, you know… so we had… a sort of mix of… of PR PEOPLE PLAYING and sort of, some were playing HOE TAS and some were playing MOUSE AND KEYBOARD… some of the things were easier to do with the KEYBOARD than they were with MOUSE… ahm, so for me, ah… I would say, ah…
…you know I HAVEN’T SET IT UP YET but ah… um… my… a nice little wide monitor, you know, the one that’s kinda sort of… 4k across, one of the curved ones… ah, and then uhm… you know… I tend to sort of ah, switch between a HOE TAS and a mouse… a keyboard… a mouse keyboard for running around doing stuff, HOE TAS for the flight stuff.
Is there somebody who’s stopping you? Really Chris, you got all these ideas, but we’ve got to finish a game, is there somebody who says, ‘OK, we go until we get to this point and then we try to do it” ?
I mean I… I would say, ha!
Ahh… that… in the case of Star Citizen, the concept of finishing the game is probably pretty loose. I would say that the time that we stop adding stuff and making Star Citizen better will probably be the time that the game dies as an online game, and so we’re always going to be sort of adding features and content to keep it alive, if you look at every single sort of online game… that’s what they do, I mean it’s when people stop adding content or functionality to it the game’s dead…
So you know, if you look at EVE ONLINE ten plus years later, you look at World of Warcraft ten plus years…
Yes but I guess the question was more in the direction of, ‘get to version 1.0 and then keep going from there’…
But… but… the thing is… what… why is… what is version one point oh? Because at this moment if you back Star Citizen you can download two point six three, you’ll be able to download three point zero… VERY SOON… so it’s, you know… the content we have, YOU have, so in the case of three zero you’ll be able to GO BETWEEN THESE MOONS, when we go to three one we’ll put HURSTON and STANTON in, you’ll have more planets… we just… we give you THE GAME… so you’re getting it as it’s happening. So it’s not like we’re, ah, not giving it to you until a certain point, as we’re… I mean that’s the difference between what we’re doing with Star Citizen and what you would traditionally would do, say a PUBLISHER would work on the game, but you don’t get it, maybe they’d tell you about it, do a little marketing but you don’t get to play it until right before…
… you know maybe they’ll do a, you know a QUICK BETA THING like they do, you know, so BATTLEFRONT or something like that, but, em, you know… you’re not playing, you know… what EA’s developing two or three years before they’re releasing it.
So first you’re getting to play it as we’re building it, so, ah… it’s the idea of like… this… sort of particular FINISH LINE, for me in the Star Citizen sense? Ah, doesn’t make so much sense. We… I mean, we generally have a fairly, ah… set… of… general, ah, FEATURES, but as certain things come online, say like the planetary tech, you go, ‘OK, we need to do THESE things to make THIS thing interesting’, and yeah so it does add some features and functionality ah, to do it, but… ah, we’re… we’re building a… a world that I think, ultimately people are gonna wanna spend a lot of time in and so I care about making sure that that’s going to be the most interesting experience.
So that’s what I’m doing, it’s not like I’m adding control here, and believe me I wanna finish… ah, you know… ah, NOT finish… but I wanna get it to the point where I feel like… ah… I don’t… you know… it’s like this point where… and then I’m sort of adding additional stuff versus getting to… the, ah… SIDE where I think ‘OK we’ve got the basic functionality of all the game stuff in there’
Thanks for being here and for answering our questions
That’s alright, hopefully I did an alright job, hope I didn’t make it… eh… so… you know, challenging for you with my long answers to ah… to ah, translate into German but you seemed to do a great job
If I didn’t do it correctly they will put it in the comments, a-haha, somebody’s always doing it
Ok so tomorrow, tomorrow night and I think we’re live streaming it, uhm… so it’s generally always, ah… kinda FUN event and uh… I think we’re gonna show some… we’re gonna show some PRETTY COOL THINGS that hopefully people will like.. uhm… so check it out
Seriously, if you still have money in this train wreck, go get a refund. After six years and $156M raised, the project is still in pre-Alpha. The road to completion for a project is Alpha -> Beta -> Release Candidate -> Release. And each of those stages can take several months after all features are actually implemented by the RC stage. If after all this time, and all this money, they are still not even in alpha stage, what makes you think the project stands ANY chance of getting completed? Heck, they even removed the delivery aim dates from the public dev schedule, then went back and added even more stuff to it.
I am currently writing an article about Chris’s presentation, and will post it soon. I don’t even know where to begin with it, but suffice to say, that presentation had some unexpected results which solidified my opinions that this game can NEVER been made, and that the project is FUBAR. In fact, PC Invasion has the best summary so far of the disaster that unfolded before our eyes. Yes, this is a six year project developed by over 500 people (both past and present) and which has thus far raised (and probably burned through) over $156M in crowd-funding alone. I have also made public a private (industry friends and peers) post which I made on Facebook.