THE GENERATION THAT WILL DELIVER CHRIS ROBERTS’ DREAM
THE NEXT GENERATION OF SHILLIZENS
You know what? I don’t even care about the outrage that you are probably feeling right now. So get over yourself because you’re not important, and this isn’t your safe space. So let’s get to it…
In what can only be attributed to shamelessness and desperation, Chris and Sandi Roberts – the two in a group of the most prolific scam artists this side of Madoff – have finally sunk to a new low. See the image above in the header? Those are their two kids (missing is Chris’s daughter with his ex-wife, Madison) from the latest studio broadcast. Now they are being used as props to sell ships to gullible backers. The kids were first spotted (then and now) in one of the final launch videos (@ 0:37) for the project. Nobody knew any of this until I broke the news in my articles due to their concerted effort to hide nepotism among other things.
Back in 2015 after I wrote the now famous July Blog, sources had confirmed to me that Chris and Sandi were in fact married, and that they were actively concealing it from backers (@ 30:09) etc. I first covered this in a 2015 follow-up blog, Interstellar Justice. Along the way I even got accused of doxing for re-tweeting a post which had a link to their IMDB and modeling profile for Sandi and the kids. That Tweet was part of someone else’s (the group that did research for Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything) research into the Roberts family and how they were actively involved in what appears to be the biggest scam since Madoff. These articles tend to always be well research and extensive. For example, see Kotaku’s 5-part series.
Meanwhile, as soon as this latest video appeared, some of the same backers who were accusing us of all sorts of things, have two Reddit threads – complete with the images of the kids – in an active discussion. It’s as cringe-worthy as you might expect. I have to mention that according to my sources who have access to Sandi’s Facebook account, her children are never featured in it.
For my articles, to go with information from sources, I even hired my own investigators to verify various information because, regardless of merit, nobody likes being sued. e.g. Chris was literally flat broke (I wrote briefly about what he was doing prior) going into Star Citizen, that Sandi had Visa issues (she’s Australian), had later married Chris whom she met when an intern at his previous failed venture (Ascendant Pictures), she has never graduated with a degree from UCLA – let alone two degrees as she had claimed (@18:45 + transcript), that following the crowd-funded windfall they moved out of an apt and into a lavish Pacific Palisades mansion – complete with cook, helpers etc. Trust me, it’s a LOT of stuff, and most of it so personal that I have refrained from sharing them in my articles. This is how scammers operate. They lie. About everything.
Why is any of that relevant? Well, while there have been several articles and govt. action against crowd-funding projects misappropriating backer funds for personal unjust enrichment, being outright scams etc, some would think that digging into the lives of people seen to be actively operating a scam, should be off limits. They are wrong. Especially as it pertains to public figures connected to public and private funding. I even got accused of stalking and harassment. Attorneys got involved and we literally gave them the middle finger and an open challenge to sue me. Chris even went on the rampage and wrote a massive (now removed) diatribe accusing myself and others of various things. Amid the baseless threats, we all just laughed. But alas, much to my chagrin (as I was prepped, poised and waiting to expose them via discovery in any such matters), nothing came of it.
So now, with the Star Citizen project having the dubious distinction of being the biggest crowd-funded project in history, as well as shaping up to be the biggest crowd-funding fraud, they are pulling out the oldest trick in the book. That being, trotting out their kids – again – in a bid to humanize themselves ahead of what’s (trust me, it’s hilarious) coming. And Sandi tried similar crap once before. We all collectively laughed – and moved on.
THE ROBERTS GENERATION – AROUND THE VERSE, 06/28/18 @ 10:52
All aside from the fact that he basically turned the project into a family business in which between his wife, brother, childhood besties here in the US and in the UK, long-time business partner, they have basically squandered backer money, getting rich – while not delivering a single project of any kind. I mean, listen, they used backer money to build a studio (F42-UK) for his brother, then turned around and bought the studio back from him, taking wealth out of the company and project. And sources said they did the same thing – and worse – here in the US. You can read more about that in my article on their 2016 financial disclosure.
If the Theranos fiasco (Feds are involved, and people are headed for prison) is any indication, and which was completely exposed by a brave writer (NYT article), I’ve said it many times before, I remain 100% convinced that someone is going to prison over Star Citizen’s inevitable failure. I know things – so do the Feds. Not to even mention CryTek which is on track to completely expose this crowd-funding scheme for what it is. A LOT is currently happening behind the scenes, and which is yet to be made public; and I can barely contain myself. So I am left with the belief that this latest attempt by them, is a precursor to what’s coming.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF THE DISASTER
It is no big secret that the much delayed 3.0 patch which was released Dec 23, 2017, was an unmitigated disaster before and after the fact. The follow-up 3.1 from Mar 2018 fared no better. And between that time to now, the 3.2 patch having been reduced (lots of things moved out) to barebones functionality, only contains a single feature of importance. A bog-standard mining mechanic that’s as innovative as making an elevator in a video game level actually work in a $190M game.
Mining is a biggie because, just as I had predicted, they are now using it to sell a mining ship, The Prospector, which they sold as JPEG concept back in April 2016. At the time when there was no mining mechanic in the game. They implemented support for the ship in late 2017. Again, with no mining mechanic for it.
But wait! There’s more! As I wrote in this Twitter thread, instead of selling that ship, barely two weeks ago, they unveiled another JPEG concept. For a salvage ship, the Vulture. In a game that has no such salvaging mechanic. As if that wasn’t hilarious enough, it was also a complete rip of a ship in another space combat game, Eve Online. The furor over that one is still on-going as I type this. And it made headlines during a time when a major battle was being waged on Reddit as a whale backer lost faith and bailed.
In this other long Twitter thread, I had described how they actually unveiled an Orion mining platform back in 2015. It came with the most elaborate (it was all bs right from the start) mining mechanic design doc imaginable. And none of that is even in what they have now implemented in 3.2. Instead, they mashed together whatever they could, in order to attain their goal of raising money, not through measly $45 sales of game packages, but through the sale of ships (basically DLC) via RMT (Real Money Transaction). But it’s totally not P2W (Pay To Win) though.
And they even released a new bullshot-ridden trailer to drown out the noise of that fiasco. But naturally, gamers weren’t having any of it. Here’s what Kotaku wrote about that.
And just when you thought the ridiculousness had attained the highest value, you find out that as the Prospector isn’t for sale, very few people would be able to actually test the mining mechanic in the 3.2 build that was put into testing about two weeks ago. So what did CIG do? If you buy a Vulture JPEG, they gave you a Prospector on loan. Seriously. Think about that for a minute. But when I said that they were going to be selling the Prospector as they had no choice, due to the limited demand for the Vulture, some people thought I was kidding. Then it happened yesterday. Ahead of the release of 3.2 which is due out in wide releasing any day now, the Prospector is on sale again for $155.
MINING IN STAR CITIZEN IS AS BOG-STANDARD AND BORING AS YOU IMAGINED
NETWORKING & INSTANCING
Right off the bat, I’m just going to say it : Derek Smart Was Right. Again.
I have been interested in and developing software since I was about 16. By the time I was 24, I had single-handedly designed and developed what was then one of the most ambitious and complex space and planetary video games of all time. At the time I started, I knew nothing about video game development, let alone specific programming disciplines. But I learned it – all of it – because I wanted to complete what I had started. It was a life-long dream of mine. And so, now at retirement age, though I have had various career changes, I still found a way to keep doing what I love. By the time Battlecruiser 3000AD was released by its publisher in 1996, while still in late Beta stage, it was still heralded as one of the most complex and ambitious games for its time. It was buggy as hell, had a manual that made grown men weep, and wasn’t immediately intuitive. But by that time, nobody had dared to even try anything like that. As I explained in this blog and in this extensive podcast, because I was new on the scene, people made fun of me, vilified me, attacked me etc. All because I dared to dream and try something nobody else had before that time. The rest of that historical time has all the makings of an urban legend.
My point? I know the genre, and I know the technological aspects of designing games for it, inside and out. I have designed and built entire games and engines, working on various disciplines (logic, AI, graphics, UI, scripting, networking, physics etc – all of what you HAVE to know to build a game of any kind) which would otherwise require entire teams of specialists for each discipline. While my games don’t – and never did – cater to the masses, they did what I said they would; and so like-minded gamers kept buying them over the decades that I’ve been doing this.
Not until Elite Dangerous (which, at less than $20M to make, has now set the bar so high, that it has pulled ahead of the competition by decades) which went into crowd-funding in 2012, and released in 2014 as promised, was anything close ever attempted. As I mentioned in the July Blog, it had its own share of problems, and it didn’t even have 50% of the feature set (e.g. first person, AI based capital ship crew mechanics, planetary access etc) of my game. Nor did it need to because those guys, including David Braben, who designed and developed it, know the limitations of technology, expertise, and the tolerance limits of gamers. As some of you reading this probably know, in 2013 due to previous attempts by David to re-make the classic, I was very skeptical that they would ever deliver as promised. And I didn’t even back it at that time. I bought it shortly before official release.
“Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen needs your money to get more money, and promises everything to get it.
This is the sort of ambitious, large scale space title PC gamers have been dreaming about, and Roberts has some tech demos and videos to show how much work he has finished already. Of course, for all this to happen, he needs your money.
Why that’s a bad bet” – Ben Kuchera, Oct 2012
In Oct 2012, Chris Roberts promised a base space combat game which would combine elements of Wing Commander and Freelancer. Then gamers threw money at him. By the time he had increased the scope and raised $65M in Nov 2014 (the same month he had promised to ship both games), he had basically promised every feature that ever appeared in a space/planetary combat game – and then some. As of this writing, approaching 6 years and almost $190M (of other peoples money) later, he hasn’t even made the basic Wing Commander game, let alone anything resembling the excellence that is Elite Dangerous, nor the ubiquitous time-sink that is Eve Online (a game released in 2003). But he’s totally making an MMO.
Which brings me to the point of this.
When it comes to this genre and these games, I know precisely what I am talking about. There is no piece of game development technology ever written that I am not either familiar with or for which I don’t have a practical working knowledge of. By all accounts, the chances of an MMO ever coming from Star Citizen are so low (I was dare say non-existent), that I don’t think even the most staunch backer has any hopes in that particular promise.
SURE YOU CAN GET 50 CLIENTS INTO A PRIVATE SERVER INSTANCE. AS LONG AS YOU’RE NOT INTENDING ON ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME
In terms of instancing and networking technologies, since 2016, I have written various articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) explaining, both in layman and technical terms, why they simply can’t build the game, let alone the world, as he has been pitching since he increased the scope in 2014. The core of any MMO, boils down to three things: 1) networking 2) instancing | open world 3) in-game monetization
Let’s start with this Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing article which Chris wrote back in Nov 2012, at the height of the hype. As of this writing, everything he wrote and promised for Star Citizen in that article has turned out to be pure bs. Don’t get me wrong; as a software developer, during development we tend to add and remove things, while revising others to a degree that may end up being radically different from the original design. But what’s different in the case of Star Citizen is that the game is crowd-funded, and backers were promised one thing, paid for that thing, and are getting something completely and totally different. For the same money they paid. And in some cases, what they got is vastly inferior to what they were expecting. Meanwhile, the execs at the head of the project are using every trick in the book to get rich from the project, under the pretext of making a pair of games.
STAR CITIZEN – A BRIEF HISTORY OF LYING
After making so many promises over the years, changing them, denying them, revising them etc, a new interview with VentureBeat (the same publication that recently wrote this hilarious gem) has another shocking eye-opening statement by Erin, which – again – provides conclusive evidence that I was right in everything that I had written about their networking and instancing implementation. So now, 6 years into the project, we’ve come full circle in the game’s underlying design.
GamesBeat: Where are you now as far as how many people can be accommodated in the alpha? Is that going to change? Are you in the hundreds or thousands of players?
Roberts: In terms of an instance, right now we can put about 50 players in an instance. That will go up, but the final plan is obviously once we get the server meshing in — that won’t be this year, but that will be coming in next year — that will allow everyone to play in one huge instance with all the players. The servers will patch people from place to place. You can have 200 people in a room, and when they leave that room, another server takes over. When they take off into space, another server takes over. But the goal is to have everyone in the same instance.
Right now, as I say, we’re at about 50. We’ll probably get up to about 100-odd once we get the unconstrained streaming stuff in later this year. But right now, as far as the concurrency of players together, we have thousands of players who are in the game all the time.
Does that sound familiar at all? Yes, that’s because he made those same claims (10FTC-053, 10FTC-081, PCG Interview-2016) over three years in a row. And now they’ve come full circle and said they’re going to do it precisely as I had said they would have to. And it’s not even close to how Elite Dangerous does it; and which is the only way to implement a multiplayer (btw ED is not an MMO) game of that scope and scale.
With the upcoming 3.2 release, the server still falls over with more than 8 clients, adding 50 clients is as theoretical as that time when Planetside2 won a world record for the number of simultaneous clients on a server. It was unplayable – but that wasn’t the point of setting that record. Similarly, Star Citizen is still unplayable with more than 16 clients. This recent 3.2 video from a few days ago, shows the results of such a test to get 50 clients into an instance. And this was a private instance btw. The session chat log was all kinds of hilarious.
Remember that time, a little over a year ago, when sources told me that the internal dev schedule goes all the way to 2021? And then they suddenly changed the format of the public version again, and showed a timeline to Q4/18 which isn’t even 50% of the game promised? Right. So now he’s also confirmed that Star Citizen (let alone Squadron 42) isn’t going to be completed in 2018.
Here is another example from 2.5 years ago. On Nov 25th, 2015, Chris led backers to believe that the features which didn’t show up in the game until years later, were actually in the game – and working.
“Just great to go seamlessly from foot to your ship, Quantum travel, land,, explore another station, get in a gun fight, return back to base”
STATE OF DEV. WHERE IS SQUADRON 42?
They still haven’t released the road map promised last year. Sources say work on the project has stalled since late last year.
NO SQUADRON 42 IN 2018
In that same broadcast, there were so many revelations – mostly of defeat and that I was right about the project – that you have to watch the whole thing to fully grasp the gravity of it all. Some highlights :
- No SQ42 in 2018. No roadmap either
- SQ42 is too big and ambitious, and probably shouldn’t have been made
- 500 people working on Star Citizen & Squadron 42 across 4.5 studios
- Only have enough people to focus on about 10 different things at any time
- They don’t have enough people working on tools
- They only have 3 AI programmers; and the AI for FPS characters won’t appear until next year – probably
- The project is a bit of a mess; Chris says he’s an optimist and bad at judging time schedules
- There was not enough “game” prior to 3.0 (released in Dec 2017)
- Chris isn’t happy with the first iteration of SQ42
- Still fixing IFCS (flight dynamics model) even though John Pritchett*, Ph.D, the lead who since 2013, has been working on that, the physics etc, just announced his exit from the project
- 3.3 is bigger than 3.0, but they are prepared to drop things out of 3.3 as-needed
- No idea when capital ships (e.g. Idris) will appear in the game as this relies on Object Container Streaming. Also they can’t yet LOD them properly
* This is a devastating loss for Star Citizen. Now that this critical and important system, which was done by a seasoned and experienced dev since 2013, has been handed off to an inexperienced junior dev, Dave Colson, who has zero experience in that field, they are going to either leave the flight model (IFCS) as-is, or scrap it and start over. Read more in my Twitter thread on this subject.
Chris also basically said that the project, 6 years and $190M later, is “a bit of a mess“. And this statement below @ 55:41 is completely astonishing.
“I’m over like being blamed for being optimistic, over promising, and you know, people feeling like I lied to them because totally that’s not my intention. I am on optimist by nature; you can’t be a game designer and try to do things at this level without being totally optimistic, because otherwise you just can’t start the journey. And I would say that, you know, most creators tend to be optimists. You generally won’t find a pessimist that’s a creative type because you kinda have to be optimistic to do that. So, I am not the best person estimating my time or other people’s time because I always feel like I could do it quicker than ultimately it would be. So there you go; I absolve myself of that, and then let the other people who are maybe a bit more realistic or pessimistic do that.” – Chris Roberts, RtV June 29, 2018
In April 2017 when they unveiled the second generation (I wrote about that here) of the dev schedule, less than a year following the first generation, I later wrote an article in which I pointed out that sources told me it was pure bs – and that it goes way beyond 2021. They later scrapped it again, and released a third generation format. In late 2016 when he was also lying to backers about the state of the project, while claiming that 3.0 was coming later that year, I also wrote that sources said it literally did NOT even exist. That build wasn’t released until Dec 23, 2017 – and it was completely broken.
MEANWHILE IN SPACE COURT
As I had predicted as far back as 2016, it has finally dawned on backers that since the release of 3.0 in Dec 2017, refunds outside the 14 day period, are no longer a thing. And while I can’t think of any circumstance under which any backer will succeed in taking a lawsuit (let alone a class action) to trial, given the arbitration clause in the Terms Of Service, one brave soul has decided to try. He has filed legal action in CA small claims court (Docket # 18SMSC01860) for his $4,500 refund. You can track his progress on Reddit.
While I have no confidence (neither does OldSchoolCmdr) that he will prevail, if CIG doesn’t defend (they will) this, and they lose by default, it will cause them serious problems down the road because it will just set a precedent and open the flood gates for similar small claims legal action. My guess is that they are going to answer, then file a motion to dismiss due to the arbitration clause in the TOS. If that happens, then he will have to re-file an arbitration case where they are likely to win since it tends to favor corporations. If he goes that far, it will be interesting to see their arguments. CIG is going to have to convince the arbitrator that they have somehow satisfied their obligations to him, and delivered a product. Aside from them having to make that whole “it’s crowd-funding” argument. It’s going to be several shades of hilarious – and I can’t wait. Since 2015 as I was tracking their various TOS changes, I had said that they were doing it in order to rip backers off by walking back various promises (refunds, financial accountability etc). Here we are. A similar lawsuit in NJ failed earlier this year.
However, the numerous posts on Reddit and on the official forums about refunds being refused, don’t seem to have deterred this $10K backer whale from putting in for a refund either.
From the posts there, it also appears as if CIG is no longer outright refusing refunds for those outside the 14 day period. Instead, they are sending out auto-responder emails claiming that the cases are being assigned to a “specialist” – which no backer believes actually exists. They’ve been doing this since January. It’s now June.
The development Ponzi scheme is on the rapid decline, and unlike my 90 day to collapse prediction (based on info at the time) which didn’t happen in 2015 because backers kept spite pledging just so I would be wrong, there is no escaping this time. The E.L.E is in full swing.
Previously: STAR CITIZEN – THE E.L.E IS REAL