- September 6, 2016 at 10:21 am #4407
I keep track of all this stuff, so you don’t have to.September 6, 2016 at 11:55 am #4419
THE CHRIS ROBERTS THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Last week, Gameranx wrote a massive article, The Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything. It chronicled previous patterns of conduct related to the handling of his projects. It’s an incredibly well sourced read.
A Swedish magazine, LEVEL, did a similar article back in July, and which, last we heard, was picked up by a leading English media outlet for re-publication; with the Swedish author doing the official translation. As that has been some months now, some are of the opinion that the article may have been bought and buried. But as these things go, there is an unofficial translation floating around from back in July.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED (AGAIN)
Then, just a few days ago, it became official that Squadron 42 wasn’t going to be released in 2016 – as I have said in four previous blogs – it’s clear to see that neither of these games is likely to see the light of day. At least not in the form promised.
The latest fiasco started over the weekend with the #1 Shillizen media, Gamestar in Germany, posting an interview with croberts. Lots of arguments (1, 2) erupted over that one; forcing the writer to acknowledge his error and confirming basically what most of us already knew. SQ42, like Star Citizen, is not a 2016 release. In fact, someone translated the entire article.
This is the SQ42 breakdown by itself.
- $2m, 30 missions
- $3m, 35 missions
- $4m, 45 missions
- $5m, 50 missions + pro voice over
- $5.5m, pro mocap sessions
- $6m, mission disk for all backers up to this funding point
Ignoring the year (2011) in which croberts claimed that the game was already in development prior to the Q4/2012 crowd-funding, that means, four years and $123 million (as of this writing) dollars later, they still can’t build a smaller game, for $6 million. A game for which they’ve not only removed some features (e.g. drop-in/drop-out co-op), but also in the aforementioned Gamestar interview, it is now revealed that croberts also increased the scope of SQ42; just like he did with Star Citizen proper.
Note that the website still says that SQ42 is coming in 2016. They didn’t announce any delay at the recent Gamescom event; and with CitizenCon 2016 barely a month away, he may or may not even discuss a release date. Sources already say that SQ42 doesn’t even exist as a game; and that they’re busy working on a presentation, similar to Gamescom2016 for the show. And if even croberts is quoting a Q1/Q2 2017 release date, it’s safe to assume that it probably won’t release until the end of 2017. If ever.
Not to mention that the likes of COD:IW, Titanfall2, Mass Effect: A etc, are all scheduled for Q4/16-Q1/17 release dates.
UPDATE: They gave PC Gamer a non-denial-denial.
GAMESCOM 2016 INTERVIEW (ITALIAN MEDIA)
While we’re at it, I want to share something else with you guys so that those of you who aren’t up to speed on this train-wreck can have another glimpse of the ridiculousness of this whole thing.
And it’s mind-boggling. Truly.
Not only was he clearly lying, the whole time, but he was talking up tech (VR, 10 million multiplayer clients, procedural generation etc) which he clearly doesn’t even understand, and features (base building!, colonization!) which were never – ever – even part of the game’s original design. This amid the fact that, thus far, five years + $123 million later, they still don’t have 15% of the Star Citizen game done; let alone SQ42.
Below is a transcript (courtesy of Goons) of that interview.
Chris Roberts Interview Gamescom 2016 SCIC
26 Aug 2016
Q: Organisation 2.0. When will (it) arrive and what gameplay features can we expect?
Uhhh OK… so… CITIZENCON we’re gonna… we’re gonna SHOW and TALK about some STUFF. So… now is too early to talk about it, but we have… we have our WHOLE THING there I think everybody’s gonna like at CITIZENCON. It will be VERY COOL.
Q: Modding. What are the future plans for modders, have you envisioned any tool to support the community?
Ehhh no no we’re definitely gonna do TOOLS to allow people to like do CONTENT CREATION AND STUFF, so… again that’s sort of uh… the FIRST LEVEL is like our… we’re still building our TOOLS to like… like… build out like… the… like… PLANETS… and the STAR SYSTEMS… USING NEW TECHNOLOGY WE’RE USING… so eehhhh…. once… uh, we get… those WORKING then we sort of work on USABILITY AND STUFF and then… we’ll be able to… PUSH the tools out for everyone… so it’s NOT gonna be… you know… unfortunately in the next few months or in the next YEAR but uh… but after that it is… you know it is part of our PLANS, it’s like… we gotta get our internal tools at a level… uh… good enough for our guys to use and then… make them sort of more USER FRIENDLY and then the SYSTEM that we could like have people create STUFF and then we could CURATE it and put it in the main game or allow people to run sort of their own sort of limited version of the game.
But… I will say that… the LIMITED… the PRIVATE SERVER ones are, you know… they will not be able to do what the… like our FULL CLOUD THING will do cos… that’s got MULTIPLE MULTIPLE SERVERS running at… and we’re gonna have them MESHED TOGETHER so there can be lots of people in the same instance so… that part’s gone more… it’s become BIGGER since when… when… they first started it. So. But you know you should be able to have… you know… like a… like the way FREELANCER did, you can run a server, you can have A HUNDRED PEOPLE ON IT OR SOMETHING and you can go around… uh… you know… uh… eh…. AN AREA YOU DESIGN OR WHATEVER.
There you go.
Q: A lot of people want to know how Virtual Reality will be implemented, have you got any issue with the animations?
NNnnn….. NO ACTUALLY SO…. aahhhh…. on… on the VR front we’re… it’s pretty EASY for us cos we… we UNIFIED everything so we don’t have like you know, how a lot of games will have like first person view… but they’re not really first person right? But they… you know, it’s two hands floating in front of it… so we just have one… one animation, one character, one… RIG… that runs in first or third person… n-n-no cheating for it at all… ah… in the first person view we stabilise the view the same way that your brain stabilises the images coming from your eyes… yeah like you turn here it’s still UP and if you had a GOPRO on your head and you went like this it would actually go like that and we do all the… yeah we do all the same stuff like your EYE LIKE FOCUSSING ON SOMETHING and… ehrm… so… that’s actually… us for VR’s very eas… it’s like LOOKING OVER and you see, you know… the person you’re flying with DOING STUFF and you can actually see him and it’s all the right… and then if you’re in his point you can see it too so…
Yeah yeah and then also we’re building like all our displays, our UI… uhm… we’ve gotta REFACTOR the UI longer term but… the whole goal is everything’s (inaudible) in the world in 3D which again is more natural for VR… so we did have a VR… we had… early… before everyone changed their SDKs… and we just… like the ENGINE… like the ENGINE GROUP are the ones who would change it and they’re actually some of the guys that wrote uh… VR support for CRYENGINE before they… the guys who wrote the original engine they also did all the VR stuff… that IS in Cryengine now that they were using before they joined us but we just haven’t had time to implement to the most recent SDK and get it working… takes you know, maybe a MONTH’S time for someone? And they’re all very busy doing things like… the PLANETS and stuff like that which EVERYONE can experience.
Q: A game like No Man’s Sky is using procedural generation of planets, how will Star Citizen be different in that aspect?
EHHHH WELL because we’re not… we’re not… we… we have a TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH… so uhhh… star… there… there’s like… I’m not interested in having a BILLION or a QUINTILLION or EIGHTEEN QUINTILLION star systems that are all RANDOMLY PUT TOGETHER so… all we do… so the PROCEDURAL… PROCEDURAL PLANETS is a BAD WORD FOR IT, what it is is… they are ARTIST AND DESIGN DRIVEN PLANETS THAT USES PROCEDURAL TECHNIQUES TO EHM LIKE BUILD OUT AREAS QUICKLY. So… but in terms of the planet like specify… like HOW YOU BUILD it… like where the mountains will be where the oceans will be where the desert will be where the forest will be… that’s all SPECIFIED by an artist at a higher level… and then they build, ehm… sort of TEMPLATES COMPONENTS where procedural tech can take all the higher level, uhm, like… kind of WORLD… and the WORLD HEIGHT MAP… and it applies the SETS of like ‘OK, here’s the… here’s like a FOREST BIOME or here’s a MOUNTAIN BIOME or here’s a DESERT BIOME’ and the it puts them, paints them in areas somewhere the artist has specified…
So what it really is, we’re using procedural tools to allow an artist to build something at a fidelity of CRYSIS but at a PLANETARY SCALE very quickly. And then they can… they can… DECIDE, ‘Oh, I’m making these areas like THIS’, or they can ZOOM IN to areas and change and edit them around to how they want.
So essentially we’re using the tools to allow artists to RAPIDLY GENERATE really interesting locations so all the locations we have, we’re not hitting a button that GENERATES RANDOM NUMBERS… Wow! That planet! Or that planet! So it’s completely different from NO MAN’S SKY which does it that way, which is also kind of the same way that ELITE does it too… so ours is specifically built to construct and design the worlds and we’re just making it so an artist with the right… with all the TEMPLATES DONE RIGHT can create a world IN LESS THAN A DAY… then… then it’s just a matter of how much time he wants to put, like, certain areas he sort of wants to really CRAFT or just leave it the sort of the way it was sort of done
And that’s what we use, that’s what we’re using the tools for… the IDEA and that’s I think the DIFFERENCE between like STAR CITIZEN and the OTHER GAMES is that like… you know I’ve always liked WORLDS and STORIES and that’s how you know WING COMMANDER sort of you know… felt GROUNDED and… you know the old ORIGIN MOTTO was WE CREATE WORLDS and so… uh… that’s important for me, we already read now that STAR CITIZEN’S got lots of LORE, we’ve been writing lore for it for FOUR YEARS, the systems are… you know… you know have a quite a lot of DETAIL, PLANETS have quite a lot of detail, we have LOCATIONS, CHARACTERS, all spread through our UNIVERSE that we’ve been working on, uh.. not… I mean you guys haven’t even seen a whole bunch of this stuff, but that’s so we can build out the world where it feels like it’s a… a REAL WORLD THAT YOU CAN EXIST IN and go out ADVENTURING
And it’s all gonna be in MULTIPLAYER and see a… you know DO THINGS TOGETHER and ADVENTURE TOGETHER and… you know… it’s… it’s… it’s… so… it’s quite… it’s quite a bit different that way.
But you know… we still gotta finish it so you know… they’re already shipping and out so… I mean I have to say that NO MAN’S SKY’s a pretty impressive technical achievement and… you know… so…
(CR is asked a question which is inaudible on the recording)
That’s… that’s… that’s… DIFFERENT from being a technical achievement… so I mean I’m just… you’re just… you’re… you’re… the ISSUE that you’re having is the general issue that you always get with procedural generation, because it”s… at some point you’re gonna see the patterns and it doesn’t seem to have a rhyme or a reason, uh, and… you know I think maybe… maybe one day? There could be some super formula that could move away from that, but it’s just HARD to do that so… technically it’s pretty impressive and it’s a pretty small team that did it, eh… so, you know, it’s pretty cool, but we’re going in a totally different path which is much more a constructed world with a much more level of detail but I mean, in MY OPINION, we’re gonna try to get the STANTON SYSTEM FOR EVERYONE AT THE END OF THE YEAR with a big release at the end of the year… and you know that’s got FOUR MAJOR PLANETS and a bunch MOONS and secondary areas like OUTPOSTS and stuff, like FORTY SPACE STATIONS and a HUGE AMOUNT OF AREA… and that I think is plenty… HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF GAMEPLAY going between… just because of the amount of DETAIL and… you know, the THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO versus otherwise… just go to STAR SYSTEM after STAR SYSTEM it’s just kind of the same thing again and again
So uh… so YEAH… I mean you’ll see we got… we got… we’re gonna… SHOW… a… like a little bit of a TEASER of some STUFF on Friday at the EVENT, ahhh… ahhhh… so ahhhh…. ahh… you’ll… kinda see a little bit of what I’m talking about and hopefully you guys will like it, sort of like the NEXT STEP, or the EVOLUTION.
Yeah it’s gonna be PRETTY COOL.
Q: How will gameplay differ from single player, from small sized organisations up to bigger ones?
Eh I think we’ll just… we’re… we’re… DEFINITELY… gonna be DESIGNING gameplay that’s like… SINGLE PLAYER STUFF or YOU AND A GROUP OF FRIENDS or you’re part of a BIG ORGANISATION… and it’s just DIFFERENT THINGS you can do so one of the nice things with the PROCEDURAL… tech, ah… the… that I was thinking… ah… that we wouldn’t be able to do for quite a while but now we’re PROBABLY gonna do is, we’re now gonna have a lot more sort of… PLAY AREAS and since we’re planning to put everyone in the SAME INSTANCES so they’ll just, there’ll DEFINITELY be a case where you and your organisation could like pull off… find a place you like on one of the planets and then bring in some HABITATS and build your own little BASE and then SHIELD, put a SHIELD so it can’t really be seen by other people and then give out LOCATIONS for them to JOIN YOU and then some OTHER ORGANISATION will be cruising around and will be scanning stuff and then will find your PLACE and there could be a BATTLE…
I mean that’s the kind of stuff that… because we’re now letting you go… it’s not… ‘Oh! There’s a planet and now I’m gonna do an automated landing to go down’, there’s just a whole bunch of more gameplay that opens up in terms of… TERRAIN that you can go on and you know whether it’s other players or… you know, AI ENCOUNTERS you can have, you know… whether there’s, you know… PIRATE CAMP spawned down on the planet and you go down and VISIT or there’s a pilot that STRANDED and you gotta go rescue him or whatever
There’s a whole OPTION of different sort of content and gameplay beyond sort of what you would normally be able to do just with SPACE
Q: So will we be able to colonise planets, asteroids, moons, and make our own little settlement?
Depending on where it is, YES.
So there… there… the… SO. With the tech that we’re DOING, uhm… that’s much more POSSIBLE now than it was before, and we’re also TRYING to have this MESH OF SERVERS so we can have a lot more people in the same instance, so it won’t be so INSTANCED as we were thinking before, so… uh.. the… the goal is… that we’re gonna have a lot of… that’s what I was… I mean if you think about like EARTH, there’s seven billion people on EARTH, there can be areas you can walk, you can walk and never see another person… and… you know… in our WORLD… if we have… TEN MILLION PLAYERS, ten million people that have bought STAR CITIZEN and will play it, then you’re likely to have about a million people concurrent, that’s sort of a TEN PERCENT… so that’d be amazing cos WORLD OF WARCRAFT has done that… ahh… but a MILLION PEOPLE and you’re spread out across hundreds of star systems which each will have multiple planets so you’re talking three, four, five, six hundred planets, the MOONS, there’s a HUGE, MASSIVE amount of TERRAIN so there’s… I think there’s an opportunity and plenty of places for people to sort of make their BASES or set up
So that’s kind of one of the COOL THINGS I’m set about because of the planet stuff that we’re doing… increase the… the PLAYSPACE, the PLAY AREA, now you have these worlds that you can go DOWN ON as well as SPACE.
So YEAH, we’re GONNA DO IT
A big thank you to Chris Roberts for his kind disposition and David Swofford for his professionality and all the rest of the great staffSeptember 8, 2016 at 11:33 am #4439
LATEST MEDIA STREAMS/INTERVIEWS
16-09-06 The Great Game Debate
ON-GOING LAWSUIT AGAINST CIG/RSI
This has been in the works since last year, and I even mentioned this building in my “Star Citizen Year Four” blog (search for ‘building’) where I said:
Through all this, the wasteful spending of backer money continues. Ranging from repeated iterations of once completed game assets and tech, to relocating teams to more expensive States; building new offices; spending millions of dollars on the same tech (MoCap, fps module) which bears very little relevance to the game being made; paying late filing fees for UK studios financials ( e.g. Foundry 42); spending money on investigators and legal in taking actions which amount to intimidation and harassment etc. It is a very, very long list we’ve compiled.“”
So earlier this week, a Gameranx writer uncovered the public case filing, and got up to speed with the latest case filings. Last year, sources had told me that CIG/RSI were building a new location in LA in order to move. That location was to have a custom made entrance and/or foyer which would depict one of the larger ships in the Star Citizen universe. Apparently there was a dispute over the location build-out with the builders, electricians etc. In the end, it all fell apart. And as these things go, it looks like the builders ended up suing CIG/RSI, as well as the owners/investors of the building, over payment for services.
Lawsuits are sometimes the unavoidable costs of doing business. So on the face of it, this isn’t such a big deal. Except for the fact that CIG/RSI is a company funded partly by crowd-funding (to the tune of $123 million to date), investor money, as well as various investor/bank loans – all of which make that $123 million public number way higher if you believe (most of us don’t) that it’s accurate.
This, in addition to the on-going marketing and other frivolous expenses, is all part of the money that’s not going into “game development” as promised by CIG/RSI. For a company that’s rumored and estimated to be burning approximately $3m per month for it’s four worldwide studios which have over 350 employees and contractors, you would think that saving money would be a key goal. But hey, if you have an average of 2000 whale backers still funding an on-going train-wreck, you can basically do what the hell you want with their money. Especially if, despite promising financial accountability, you have thus far failed to provide it; and to the extent that you remove such promised accountability entirely from a ToS.
But look on the bright side; backers eventually paid for a makeshift space door (completely unrelated to this legal action) at the new location.
It’s interesting to note that amid all the controversy, the first lawsuit against CIG/RSI, comes from builders who, aside from wanting to get paid, aren’t even part of this on-going train-wreck.
UPDATE (16-09-09): Gameranx now have more details about the lawsuit.
LATEST CHRIS ROBERTS STRAIGHT UP BULLSHIT
It never ends.
See his response about financial accountability? Yeah.
Gamestar.de interview with Chris Roberts
Sept 7 2016
Q: Just playing the devil’s advocate a bit there in the last question, there’s been some criticism by some people, some from shady sources, let’s not talk about that, about you spending your money for different things and nobody really knows what for… I don’t know… um… Now there are some Kickstarter projects who kind of put a price tag to anything they do for people to know what their money is being spent on, have you ever considered doing that for Star Citizen?
Ehrrr no, that just sounds like, that sounds like a… a NIGHTMARE… I alre… I… I already have… you know… a lot of ARMCHAIR DEVELOPERS and all the rest of the stuff and ARMCHAIR CEOS… uhm… and yeah, you know… the input’s appreciated and good but you gotta… you gotta… run a project and you… you know… you can’t have a committee of one point four million people DESIGNING STUFF. We… we… put all the money we raise into the game, I mean we have three hundred and thirty people around the world, there’s four studios… aahhh… you know we do… I mean… hell we did VIDEOS where you walk around the studios!
I mean… THREE HUNDRED AND THIRTY PEOPLE, they all need to be PAID you know, it’s like, ADD IT UP, like it’s going… it’s going in the GAME, we’re contantly adding STUFF and building STUFF so ah… I think some people… like ATTENTION and so like to… say things… ah, but… ah… you know… we just… we focus on what we’re doing, we care about making the best game possible, and every dollar that we raise goes to making the game better, and that’s KINDA the pledge I made, I said that until the game’s COMMERCIAL we’re… all the money we’re raising is essentially going in and getting reinvested into the GAME and we sort of DETERMINE, ah… you know… how POLISHED and how BIG and how AMBITIOUS and EVERYTHING IS based on THAT and that hasn’t changed
I mean the… you know… we did last year, you know, better than we did the year before despite, apparently, you know, having some CRITICISMS ah… so… I… I think the MAJORITY of people are… are HAPPY with eh… what we’re doing because, you know, they just want… I… I think MOST people got into this because they wanted something that wasn’t gonna be they’d play for a week and put away. I think most people got into this to have something that they could play for YEARS and so they’re like, ‘OK if you’re gonna build something build it RIGHT because I wanna play this for YEARS’, and so I’ve… for me that’s kinda what I hold true to… errhh… and that’s important for me…
Because I also wanna play this game, I wanna be in this UNIVERSE and I want it to be RIGHT and you know you can SEE it when we were showing you the DEMO and I’m calling out to Erin, ‘THERE’S THIS THING AND THIS AND ALL THESE LITTLE DETAILS’ and then maybe on your side you’ll be like ‘alright, I didn’t… I don’t… I didn’t notice that’, but you know for me that’s kind of IT, it has to be this VISION so that’s… ummm… what I’m focussing on and uh… it’s the best way and the COMMUNICATION that I talked about SHARING what we’re doing goes on and the rest of it’s up to the PEOPLE but I don’t really wanna get into a situation where it’s ‘DO YOU WANT THIS FEATURE FOR SO MANY DOLLARS OR DO YOU WANT THIS FEATURE FOR SO MANY DOLLARS’, because I think at that point you’re gonna loose control of a singular vision and a really cohesive world ah… and ah… you know…
I can tell you there’s a… you know… ah… there’s NOTHING SHADY WITH US, we’re straight up, I think… people that say things like that, they… you know… people was it… look in a mirror… something like that
Q: Well I am looking forward to seeing where the game is going to be in one year, and if the HULL CLASS has not been released I’ll be bringing a certain UNCLE and we’ll talk some more
I actually think there’s a… there… there… there’s a GOOD CHANCE by… NEXT YEAR that there… could be a HULL CLASS… because we’ve got the MISC SHIPS, we’ve already got the STYLES and the basic, I mean once we’ve built one or two of the ships at SCALE like the STARFARER’S a big scale MISC ship, it’s much quicker for us to build the first, when we build the first one because there’s a whole STYLE and MATERIALS and SHADERS that you build for the different MANUFACTURERS… so the MISC… so the ahh… HULL CLASS is uh… I think… by the next time… by next GAMESCON… will be… you know… it… whether it’s FLYING right then it’ll be VERY CLOSE TO
SANDI IS BACK ON SOCIAL MEDIA
So a few weeks back, Sandi, the controversial CIG/RSI “VP of marketing”, posted that she was quitting social media due to harassment. That was odd. Especially considering that nobody had then seen any evidence of social media harassment. To the extent that I even wrote two (1, 2) blogs about it. Serious stuff.
Amid all that, she was actually still on social media, liking and re-tweeting (mostly the same stuff she was apparently decrying) on social media. Not finding any such evidence, in what we believe to be a False Flag op, some idiots (1, 2) with new accounts (which I was instrumental in having yanked by Twitter) decided to start Tweeting her threats; no doubt in order to give the claims legitimacy – after the fact. But as these things go, I put a stop to that in short order. Harassment, real or imagined, is not cool. Period.
“To give you an idea how well I was doing at the time I quit [he had given up on show business in 1949], I was the only one who knew I quit.”
SHITIZEN #1 IS HELPING WITH SECURITY FOR CITIZENCON 2016
Because of course he is. Makes perfect sense.
Yes, you read that right. Wulf Knight aka Dick Wulf aka The Wulge (that’s him in the back!) a married man, who was said to have been caught (and reported to CIG/RSI) sending inappropriate images (read: dick pics) to a female member of the Star Citizen community, while engaging in questionable chat conduct – and manipulating the game’s ship sales, is now somehow helping to organize the security for the upcoming Oct 6 event.
That went over as expected; to the extent that following the outcry (which probably fell on deaf ears back at CIG/RSI, seeing as him and Ben Lesnick are buddies from back in the day), he protected his Twitter feed.
Just read this shit. READ IT!
I even once wrote an entire blog about him; so I’m guessing he’s still pissed at me.
This incident is just another fine example of how CIG/RSI simply have no control over their own community’s messaging; and that the toxicity that is now widely known and written about, comes from within, due to the very people who are the direct link to said community. But don’t worry though, before long, none of this will matter. Wait and see.September 13, 2016 at 11:18 am #4459
LATEST CITIZENCON 2016 RUMORS
With GamesCom 2016 over, it’s time for CitizenCon 2016 on Oct 9th. This is the annual fundraising event that CIG/RSI claims is a “fan” event and not at all marketing (LOL!!). In fact, if you look at their Q4 earnings year on year, it’s easy to see how their fundraising revolves around bullshit, lies, false promises – and scripted content. Last GamesCom, it was all about Star Marine. That’s since been shit-canned; though, clearly for liability (and broken promises) reasons, it’s apparently coming back soon in the 2.6 patch. This despite Chris Roberts claiming that it was already in the game backers were playing. Yeah.
With that, an insider and denizen of the SA forums who has provided some accurate insider info in the past, posted this about 24 hrs ago.
Prepare for Shitcon
- Bare witness to a star studded sq42 trailer with lots and I mean LOTS of cool explosions
- Observe your citizen landing on a hand crafted proceduraly generated planet, buy some land and initiate farming mechanics.
- See an epic space battle with 4 cap ships and up to 16 citizens engaging in zero gravity combat.
- Buy some new trousers in a space trouser shop .
- Explore the Grim hex , be careful of pirates though !
- And if thats not enough for you , get saving those space dollars for a new JPEG
If the above is true, then clearly they are repeating what they have done in the past, and as recently as GamesCom 2016 whereby they create a staged proof-of-concept demo in order to rope backers into giving them more money under the guise of it all coming soon.
For my part, I have long suspected that they will have to show something of SQ42 before the end of the year, seeing as I said over a year ago that sources had told me that the game was never coming out in 2016. And since it was last seen at CitizenCon 2015, nobody has seen much of it since; let alone any game play videos. Like Star Citizen – which Chris promised back in 2015 was coming in 2016 – there is no way that SQ42 is coming out in 2016. So them doing a glitzy playable presentation – which I think it highly unlikely – or a trailer (likely), is probably the best that backers could hope for. And if rumors of them actually trying to release a playable prelude to EP1 is true, well then, the backlash is going to be fun to behold, given insider reports that it’s just sub-par.
Then again, back in Jan 2015, he proclaimed that Star Citizen would have raised $100 million before release in 2016.
STAR CITIZEN / Squadron 42 (2016)
Right now, for a five year, $123 million project, the pre-Alpha PU 2.5 build is complete rubbish. I present, Exhibit # 999999
Basically, the first PU version which was released over a year ago, has hardly made any progress, other than bug fixes, a new base, and the ability to buy clothes or run around naked. That’s it. Most of the gameplay promised for Nov 2014 release, isn’t there. No mining. No trading. No exploration. No cargo manipulation. No planets to land on. No multi-crew position/skills. No mission/quests etc. All there is, right now, is a repetitive “go flip a switch” mission with horrid NPC pirate ships. That’s it. Oh, and player ship PvP if you’re into that sort of thing.
And since the Gamescom 2016 presentation, they’ve been touting PU 3.0 (aka the Jesus Patch, and which was previously touted as 2.7) which they’re threatening to release by year end – complete with ALL of this:
- Procedural planets featuring an improved version of what was shown at GamesCom
- Player professions which include mercenaries and pirates, trading (which includes cargo transport), as well as bounty hunting
- Implementation of modules which include Subsumption AI, mission/quest giving, improved items (Items 2.0) system, as well as improved networking (which some backers think is going to solve all their current problems)
- Completed Stanton (one of the hundred promised btw) system which is to include a twelve (!) moons, four more areas (adding to GrimHex, Arc Corp, Crusader) and over thirty (!) space stations
Yeah, we’re still laughing when we look at the calendar, and notice that it’s already September and the current 2.5 patch is just plain broken; and if 2.6 releases with Star Marine as promised, they’d be pulling the same stunt they did last year when they released a horribly broken PU 1.0 which backers foolishly assumed would be the start of great things to come.
This was the GamesCom 2015 presentation. Yeah.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, what CIG/RSI are doing now is basically checking off boxes in order to not run afoul of promises made – and which they have received money for. After receiving over $123 million based on promises, any non-delivery is subject to legal action. It’s completely different from when a project removes features for whatever reason.
WISHFUL THINKING GONE AWRY
Yesterday, a backer (aka data miner) found some legacy scene files lurking in the game’s distribution. Despite the fact that these assets have been in the game for years (backers currently download this, and other useless files with each patch btw) now, some sites (1, 2, 3) decided to make news items out of it.
Sources say that this is one of various assets built to showcase parts of the game in a promo trailer, but which later proved to be “impractical” for completion, due to the game engine limitations. Which rings true, seeing as the engine is still struggling under it’s own weight and will never – ever – be able to render even a quad of that scene, let alone the whole thing, complete with texture assets, NPC entities, players etc
Yes, you’ve probably seen that scene concept somewhere. In fact, here is an album showing all of them.
…MEANWHILE, OVER IN THE NOT-MARKETING, MARKETING DEPT
So this popped up earlier today.
That’s not marketing though, right? RIGHT?September 20, 2016 at 10:41 am #4483
STAR CITIZEN CUSTOM GAME ENGINE
So yesterday someone pointed to a video interview that Brian Chambers, Development Director, gave at GamesCom 2016 this past August. At the 6:15 mark, he was asked about the progress of the game engine. He stated that the engine was “over 50% modified from the base CryEngine“.
What follows below is my comment (posted on Frontier forums) following an exchange in which one person said “They needed to make their own engine, but it’s too late for that now” and then a Shillizen backer said “Considering that they stated they changed more than 50% of the engine Its accurate to say that they already did just that.”
I already knew that they were using CryEngine3 as the basis for the game. In fact, I wrote an entire section in my July 2015 blog specifically about that, and why the engine they chose simply wasn’t up to the task.
Here’s the thing, when you use middleware engines, they are as-is. You rarely ever have to modify the source engine. In fact, back in the day, you would need a very expensive source engine (e.g. ID Tech5, UE, CryEngine etc) to even do that. Why would you need a source engine license? Simple: if the engine isn’t adequately suited for something that you need to support. And more often than not, it’s usually better to build your own engine, than to try and modify a middleware engine, because depending on how far you want to take it, you’re better off doing it from scratch if you already have the expertise to modify someone else’s engine using their source code.
That’s why, even today, anyone licensing engines like UE4, Unity etc, rarely have to mess with the “guts” of the engine. They use them as-is; and if you want extended features (e.g. network, UI, scene management), you can find plugins which augment (are built on top of) the underlying engine without you ever having to mess with the engine’s source code. e.g. anyone wanting advanced networking/multiplayer in Unity5, will probably buy the Photon plugin. Similarly there are hundreds of plugins for it. So, more often than not, someone else has already done the “targeted” work for you. Want larger scenes? There’s a plugin for that. Want a better scene editor? There’s a plugin for that. Want better audio, networking, UI, matchmaking, shaders, progen terrain etc – you have so many options that you simply do NOT have to write ANY custom code for UE4 or Unity5, unless you want to, or have no choice.
Similarly, when we licensed Trinigy (later bought and renamed to Havok Vision Engine), we didn’t need anything in the source license as we had no intentions of modifying the source because we already knew that the engine (bare metal, with very little fluff and/or useless features) was capable of doing exactly what we wanted. In the implementation of other middleware to “overload/replace” the built-in HVE implementation (e.g. Triton for water bodies, Silverlining for sky, clouds, atmosphere etc, FMOD for audio, Iggy for UI etc) we made minimal changes to the underlying engine in order to build our custom engine that powers Line Of Defense.
So, our revision of HVE, coupled with the augmentation of third-party middleware which worked better with the built-in HVE versions, became our “custom game engine”. We didn’t even make .01% mods to HVE because the engine was quite capable of supporting the game I was building. In fact, it was because I was able to find such a C/++ engine, that I halted development of yet another in-house game engine for this game; as I felt that we were reinventing the wheel. We lost a little over six months of dev work on that; and which I wrote-off as R&D. CryEngine was a non-starter due to scene sizes and other limitations; Unity was C#, UE4 wasn’t out yet, and though I already had private access to it, I was advised (by Epic) not to use it for production work at the time, since it wasn’t ready and too many things could change along the way.
In contrast – hence my alarmist warnings from last year – once it occurred to me that the new game scope CIG were trying to build could never be done on CryEngine3, I said so; right off the bat. I also stated that such a game needed a custom engine.
Then it came to light that they were in fact using CryEngine3 as the basis for such a custom engine. This despite the fact that once you embark on such an endeavor, the further you go, the more you realize that you could’ve just written your own engine from scratch to build the exact game you wanted.
In this interview that you linked, Brian says specifically: “over 50% modified from the base CryEngine”. Note that would be CryEngine3. And (just as I said in my blog), they stopped taking updates from CryTek awhile back due to the fact that their code base had forked so far off, that it didn’t make sense. Also they only have source license to CryEngine3. Which, btw, is why VR will never come to Star Citizen unless they go back in and bring up the now legacy (and broken) VR support they have in CryEngine3, up to the current standards. The game will never support VR anyway; so there is that. But I digress.
The reason that I went back and quoted (the forum trims multi-quotes) the entire comments (from you and Soliluna) in what you just now responded to with Brian’s comment, was because
i) when you say they already did just that, I stated that it’s false. why? well because they did not make their own engine
ii) when you say they changed more than 50% of the engine, I asked for cited sources because to my knowledge, nobody knew just how much modification they had done to CryEngine3 in order to come up with StarEngine
Now we do. And it not only looks even more bad for them; but it also – again – proves me right when I stated last year that the game they were building could never be built with the engine they chose. Ask any tier 1 engineer, and they will tell you that no dev goes and modifies a source engine by 50% unless they are a) out of time to build a custom engine, or don’t have the expertise to do so b) out of time to switch to another engine c) have game assets which have slaved them to the engine they’re stuck with
So, from the start, they thought vision 1.0 of the game could be done with CryEngine3. They were right. Then Chris increased the scope; which then put vision 2.0 of the game outside the scope of CryEngine3. They kept going with the CryEngine2 mod, until at some point, they reached “zero barrier” and could no longer turn back (port to an adequate engine such as UE4 or even CryEngine5, or build a custom engine from scratch).
Now, according to Brian, in Sept 2016, they have modified CryEngine3 by about 50% in order to come up with a custom engine for the game Chris wants them to build. And it’s still a freaking mess.
The problem is that even if they get to 90% modification of CryEngine3, it still won’t be possible for it to power the game that Chris wants because, not only will they never – ever – get to a 100% modification to make that happen, but that would also imply that they have completely replacedCryEngine3 with whatever abomination that is Star Engine. With all their resources and money, they could have built a custom engine – from scratch – in under two years.
And they will still fail to build, let alone deliver the Star Citizen game promised. Since SQ42 doesn’t have all the ganky nonsense that is in SC, they stand a good chance of delivering on that, as I’ve stated time and time again. Unfortunately, not only are a multitude of backers already entitled to that game for free, but unless SQ42 knocks it out of the park, it’s never going to earn the income required to keep buying them time to continue with Star Citizen.
In closing, I welcome folks to ponder this: They are using a heavily modified version of CryEngine3. CryTek are now on CryEngine5 (free). And even Amazon’s Lumberyard is built on CryEngine5 (free). So ask yourself this, how is spending all this money and dev resources to modify a source engine by 50%, a good thing – under any circumstance? It’s not. It’s a waste of time and money. Which is precisely why they are coming up with all these tricks to keep raising money; even long after they quadrupled the money they were originally asking for.
This is the sort of thing that should make any reasonable and/or sensible backer, absolutely mad.
“So, I get your point that if they had simply written their own custom engine it would have saved them a lot of time and money, rather than going the long way round and rebuilding another engine a piece at a time.
But why, in your estimation, would it not be possible for them to re-write Cryengine 3 to the point where it CAN support the kind of features a game like Star Citizen needs?
Am I wrong that it would simply take more time and money (which they seem to have plenty of) or would this (shall we say less efficient approach?) present other obstacles that would make the task Sisyphean?“
- Think of CryEngine3 as paint mix color # 1234
- You are building a house; and you already know what color you want it to be. That being color # 1234-drywall (note that paint is texture specific)
- You continue building your house, still intending on using color # 1234-drywall
- At some point, the owner has decided that the back of the house will use a different kind of wall texture (e.g. drywall vs concrete); so 1234-drywall isn’t going to work there
- The builders, with instructions from the architect, continue with concrete for the back of the house; even as the painters, having bought loads of paint # 1234-drywall, continue painting other parts with it
- Several months down the road, painters tell the architect that 1234-drywall simply isn’t going to work on that concrete back wall
- Seeing as there is no way to make 1234-drywall work on a texture which would require 1234-concrete, the painters set out to create the closest thing to 1234-concrete as possible, by doing their own mix. Not unlike how you can walk into a paint store and ask them to color match (they have computers for this) as close as possible 1234-concrete, derived from 1234-drywall
- The end result is that, as drywall (vision 1.0) is totally different from concrete (vision 2.0), the chances of that concrete back wall painting ever matching the drywall used elsewhere, are close to zero
- So the builder and architect decide to mix their own paint in order to meet with the owner’s specification. Along the way, they decide that the best way forward is to probably rip out the concrete wall or plaster drywall over it so that 1234-drywall works. There’s your MVP (drywall for the back of the house, instead of concrete).
At the end of the day, as I mentioned in my missive, in order to come up with a custom engine which would make it somewhat possible to build vision 2.0 of the game, they would have to modify CE3 by a whole lot more than 50%. And even so, the underlying CE3 architecture is still going to be there because things like scene management, 64-Bit positioning, networking etc, are all the things they would need to either rip out and replace, or build on top of. And the time it takes for them to be doing all that, could have been spent building a custom engine which specifically does what they want.
It is hard for a none programmer to quite grasp how horrendous it is to go back and modify someone’s code; let alone an engine built by several people. Which is why, last year when people were saying that opening F42-GER with ex-CryTek engineers was going to be the magic bullet, most of us who know better, just laughed. It’s been almost 18 (?) months since; look at what they have now.
To be clear, I don’t envision there ever being a time whereby their CE3 FrankenEngine ever powers vision 2.0 of the game. I simply don’t see it happening. For that, would need to modify CE3 by 90% or more. Well, therein lies the rub.
Let the record show that in my very first blog back in July 2015, I did say that it would take at least $150 million to build vision 2.0 of the game; assuming they had the tech, talent, time, and money. We’re at $124m and I have no reason to believe that they will ever achieve the promised vision 2.0 using that engine; even with $250 million.
And that’s the reason why Chris declared the MVP. As I understand it from sources, he has been advised time and time again, that vision 2.0 is simply not possible with what they have. And the best they can hope for is to ship “something” (in this case an MVP, and/or SQ42) in order to buy more time. However, the risk there is that, given their burn rate around all these studios, contractors, overhead etc, there is no guarantee that they are going to keep this charade up for much longer. Once they ship whatever he thinks is an MVP and/or SQ42, it’s going to immediately change everything for better or worse.
btw I don’t believe that Chris will ever come out and say that any version (e.g. 4.0) is the final product, hence MVP. He has thrown the MVP word out there simply as something that he can fall back to in the event that he is ever accused of never shipping the finished product. Just like he did with Star Marine, where he said that “it’s in the PU”, he will simply say that he already indicated that they will first ship an MVP, then build on top of it. That notion of “building on top of it” is the part where he gets to justify more time and money in order to bring his vision 2.0 to life. The fact that he made a bunch of promises, while not delivering on even 50% of them even with all the money, is going to get lost in translation along the way. Especially if he ever ships the SQ42 promised; which, as I understand it, is on just as much shaky ground as Star Citizen, seeing as – this point – they still don’t even have a complete “game” with everything promised in the stretch goals.
The upcoming CitizenCon on Oct 9th is going to be more of the same. Neither Star Citizen nor SQ42 is going to be released this year. That’s already a foregone conclusion. Whatever shows up at CitizenCon is going to be of the same smoke and mirrors vein. If they ship any aspect of SQ42, we’re hearing from sources that it will be tagged as a “prelude” (most of us call that a demo btw) in order to keep the backers at bay, gauge interest etc. It will succeed as far as the hardcore backers are concerned; but most of us won’t care, as it won’t be the promised EP1 game.
At the end of the day, none of this will matter. As gamers, all we can do is wait, watch, dissent, speculate, argue, fuss, fight etc until they either ship as promised, or fail completely. Those who are trying to quash dissent are the ones helping to spread the ludicrousness of this whole thing.September 21, 2016 at 6:12 pm #4489
DEALING WITH LEAKS & SOURCES
“You mention quite often about having “insider reports” – what is the veracity of these reports? Are they reliable and proven so?
I’m not needling you here. For info I was a backer since 2012 and recently got a full refund on this thing (thanks to your site).I used to be a fan but the progress and other things just wasn’t sitting right with me. I’m not cat calling for them anymore but I’d still like to see them succeed at some point before my retirement from the mortal plane.”
My blogs and blog forum are littered with all the information that either flows to me, or which are based on my opinions and speculation as a seasoned developer. The people that I know who are either still part of the project, or who have since departed, have proven to be trustworthy. Even when I get anon drops to my Lockbin account, I tend to vet them via several sources before saying anything because on more than one occasion, I have received “bad intel” which the person intended for me to use and look foolish in the process. And I have actually spent quite a bit of money in vetting and/or researching material e.g. that whole Mae Demming tickle porn videos (btw, those videos have now been flagged as private on most sites that had them) issue had me paying for that information to be vetted that it was Sandi Gardiner. Same thing with a host of other similar materials in countries such as Australia, Germany, UK and here in the US. Which is why I’ve always maintained that the single worst thing that could happen to CIG/RSI, is for them to sue me; or for them to be involved in any lawsuit that brings me in.
Those other guys, actually have an entire site dedicated to “documenting my predictions”. A site that not only contains a bunch of pure and utter nonsense; but material either taken out of context, or completely ignored because you know, anything short of telling the truth is them “losing” to me. And by all accounts, their worst fear is not that croberts was wrong; but that dsmart was right in any regard.
Here is one of their examples of me being “wrong”: “CIG does not have the tech for seamless FPS transitions 14 november 2015”
Note that I made the comment in Nov 14, 2015. They didn’t have the tech at the time. The first anyone saw it in action was GamesCom 2016 (Aug 19, 2016). In a scripted demo running in a controlled environment.
And how did I know they didn’t have the tech, without me being there? Because a source told me that it was non-existent, that they were making stuff up etc. And that was after Nyx (which most of us took apart), running in the CE editor, was shown on Aug 28th, 2015. And which we all saw they were fabricating stuff. To this day, and since then, nobody has seen anything of Nyx.
All this despite the fact that, since last year, I have – in no uncertain terms – stated that the game as pitched could never be built, that neither game would see a 2016 release etc. But they ignore this and pretty much everything else, even as features are cut, non-existent, talk of an MVP is actually a thing etc; all simply because it goes against their narrative.
The good thing about this industry is that when companies fold, NDAs become null and void, that’s when word starts going out in more places. While most won’t risk their livelihood by going on the record, they still talk; and the people they talk to are the ones who end up spreading what went on. This happens every single time. The stuff that I know, and which hasn’t even been made public due to the risk it poses to people still on this project, is the sort of thing that is so completely unbelievable that even if posted anon, nobody would believe it; even if it didn’t come from enemy #1 (yours truly).
I’m not in this for kudos or any of that. I’m not in this because I want them to fail. I’m not going to post blatant lies, knowing they are in fact lies, or knowing that it would only leave me exposed to a lawsuit, regardless of my liability insurance coverage. I’m only in this because they made this personal, made it about me, and decided to wage a war with the one person who never saw a fight he didn’t like. And the more they try to harass, attack and/or discredit me, the worse it gets because like them, I’m simply not going to stop; nor can I be intimidated. And when the end comes – as I am 100% certain that it is – I’m not going to be jumping up and down rejoicing because the only thing that will be in it for me, is vindication (even though the fact that they can’t build the game as I stated, is already vindication enough)September 22, 2016 at 7:10 am #4493
STAR CITIZEN 10 FOR THE CHAIRMAN (16-09-21)
After a long absence, the 10FTC program is back, featuring The Chairman himself, Chris Roberts – with a different format. This one was all about characters; specifically about scanning of character heads for the actors in the Squadron 42 interactive movie, and also having player head/face character customization.
It’s all the usual bullshit really.
The most important takeaways from this video are the following:
- Chris completely forgot that, back in 10FTC Ep19, (14-05-05), over two and a half years ago, he had promised character aging (1, 2).
- There has been a lot of talk about how CIG/RSI, despite the work being done on the “game”, continues to use a lot of movies, scripted demos etc in order to show work that’s coming soon. Most of that stuff over the years, has never made it into the game; either because it was just a promo, or because the R&D simply didn’t pan out and had to be trashed.The most recent of this was the GamesCom mission demo (16-09-19), which while being heavily scripted, staged and full of R&D stuff not in the game, helped them raise $4 million. Before that it was things like the Star Marine movie (14-08-19), the Pupil To Planet (15-12-16) movie, the Nyx base (15-08-28) on a procgen planet etc. In fact, their Vimeo and YouTube channels are littered with this stuff going all the way back to 2012.So now comes the kicker. In this segment (starts at 16:40), Chris now tells backers to “forget about The Morrow Tour” which he now basically admits (just as I reported back then) was put together, rushed etc. For those of you not paying attention, The Morrow Tour gameplay segment was from Squadron 42. It was shown in Oct 2015 at the CitizenCon 2015 event. They raised over $3.5 million during the month of Oct based on that presentation, and JPEG ship sales.
- The $22 million dollar stretch goal promised a facial capture mechanism which would import backers facial image into the game. At the 11:30 mark, Chris now pretty much says that’s off the table due to fidelity of the system they are now using.
Yes, games in development evolve over time, things change, are improved upon, tweaked etc. That’s not the issue here. The issue here is that time and time again, we’ve seen this happen whereby they spend resources on creating these assets in order to continue raising money. Most of the work ends up getting trashed because they can’t be used in the actual games being made. Heck, they once trashed an entire gameplay module (Star Marine developed by a third-party contractor, Illfonic). And just a few months back, amid major outcry, not to mention the legal liability issue, it’s apparently coming back. This despite Chris – falsely – claiming in 10FTC Ep85 (16-01-25), that the long promised, and much touted Star Marine, was already in the Star Citizen game backers were playing at the time.
So, with all this time and money wasted, it should have come as no surprise when in 10FTC Ep83 (16-04-18), Chris declared that the first release of the game wasn’t going to be the full game promised (for Nov 2014), but rather a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
By all accounts, most of us believe that this whole thing has evolved into an elaborate scam which goes beyond just a simple case of broken promises in a video game. It has all the makings of a massive engineering Ponzi scheme designed to unjustly enrich the execs in charge of it, under the pretext of making the games promised. This is why they need to keep raising money using these tactics. The pattern is easy to see:
- Wind up backers with wild promises (mostly lies) and unachievable objectives
- Take the money raised as per the aforementioned
- Later, walk it all back, or ignore that the promises were ever made
- Rinse. Repeat
And according to metrics, even with the suspicious nature of their funding chart, there appears to be around 2000 backers still putting money into this train-wreck. It’s mind-boggling to say the least.
ABOUT THAT VISUAL STABILIZATION BULLSHIT
This one is particularly hilarious to most of us. The “head bob” issue in the fps part of Star Citizen has always been a problem, and a major source of complaints. So a week ago, CIG released a video segment in which they were touting the implementation of something they were calling “visual stabilization”. Pretty much the same horseshit they come up with when making up names for tech that already exists, and which they’re pretending to have created.
Basically, as most of us had already said, they removed the “head bob” from the animation. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So yesterday, in an AtV segment, the Lead Animation Engineer confirmed this. The segment starts around the 11:22 mark.
THE OPEN-BUT-NOT-SO-OPEN DEVELOPMENT
A few months ago, CIG/RSI introduced a new layer to their testing protocols, dubbed Evocati. We had a laugh with that one, and I covered it in my April blog. Basically, it’s been going on since then. With the current 2.5 patch being a horrid and largely unplayable mess, with backers aching for the upcoming 2.6 patch which they hope will bring much needed fixes and stability, it comes as no surprise that details about that upcoming patch have now leaked. Again.
But that’s not the issue here.
The issue is that some of the more toxic members of the community are up in arms about Evocati backers breaking the NDA by leaking patch details. To the extent that there is now a Reddit discussion going on about how to deal with such leaks. Oh the irony.
Here’s the thing, nobody should be encouraged to break an NDA they agreed to. When you think about an NDA as a contract, the only circumstance under which those can be broken and details leaked, is if the leaker is either a whistleblower or a concerned person passing along info about fraud, wrong-doing etc. Thing is, even the media, bloggers etc, all encourage this sort of thing when they accept info from anonymous sources at companies where they may have either a specific NDA, or a contract with an NDA section. But stuff still leaks, regardless.
It’s interesting to note that most, if not all, all crowd-funded game projects in development, tend to give access to alpha and beta builds to their backers. Star Citizen has been in a perpetual state of Alpha (according to CIG/RSI who are redefining the terminology; in our books it’s a pre-Alpha aka tech demo).
Anyway, this Evocati NDA represents an interesting conundrum for backers. As a backer in the Evocati, you already have access to the game you paid for. Just like the other backers who were not selected to be in the Evocati. But then, being in the Evocati for a game you already paid for, you now have to agree to an NDA which forbids you from sharing any details about it. So why would someone choose to break the NDA and share the patch details? One person in a discussion, told me:
“It’s wrong for them to be doing this. We all payed (sp) for the game, and yet some have access to it, while others do not. They claim open development but we have no clue what is going on with the project most of the time. A friend of mine pledged over eleven hundred dollars and is not in the Evocati. How is that fair?“
While it does not absolve them of the liability of breaking an NDA, it’s easy to see why it makes sense to the people doing it. Especially in light of the fact that this latest leak has clearly shown that not only is the 2.6 patch most likely not coming in Oct; but that given that the test pattern has a lengthy period from “limited Evocati –> wide testing –> live“, it means that it probably won’t be out until sometime in the Nov/Dec time frame. And that, my friends, all but guarantees that the much touted 3.0 (aka the Jesus Patch) which Chris was heavily promoting at GamesCom as coming by end of the year, is not being released this year. At all. Yeah, I know – shocking. Note that there isn’t even a 2.7 patch. It was once talked about, then came GamesCom and Chris saying that after 2.5 (current), there will be 2.6, and then it’s onto 3.0 – the Jesus Patch which fixes everything, and includes all of the latest promises.
So much for “open development“; and one in which backers have no clue what’s going with their game, how the money is being spent, let alone how Squadron 42, which is rumored to have now cost over $30 (!) million to develop, is coming along.
STAR CITIZEN vs LINE OF DEFENSE. AGAIN
Yes, they’re still doing it. As soon as someone says something negative about Star Citizen, one of two things is likely to happen. i) Derek Smart is evoked ii) Line Of Defense is crap becomes a point of discussion. Happened again within the past 24 hours; I’ll just post excerpts from the exchange. It’s just amazing to us how it is that these guys truly think that attacking and slamming me and my game, will somehow make Star Citizen a reality, a better game etc. It’s mind-boggling.
“Mr. Smart – Do you want to know what really the funny part is? The maintenance mode you claimed the project was in earlier this year shows astonishing progress. I hope that your own project will also enter such an maintenance mode at some point.“
Usually when people call me out in a thread, when I respond, it tends not to work out so well for them.
So, for your sake, aside from the fact that it’s a violation of the forum rules (look it up), try not to do that. There is nothing to be gained by singling me out. Just post; and anyone who cares enough will respond.
My indie game, like it or hate it, is coming along just fine; and the people testing and helping us out with it, are perfectly happy with it. Our changelog shows steady and meaningful progress; our bugs list isn’t even noteworthy, our roadmap remains focused, straightforward and informative.
Meanwhile, 500 people + five years + $124 million later; Star Citizen has no clear focus nor objective or roadmap; has over 29K (!) documented bugs – most of which are 2+ years old; and the changelog for each patch shows even more issues, while not fixing the majority of what came before.
And the “game” is very much in maintenance mode seeing as NOTHING tangible (unlike you, most of us actually pay attention to the changelog) has been done to the game since I made that comment earlier (Mar 30th, 2016 in post #2805 to be exact) this year.
Despite the fact that you guys think that by obfuscating facts, you’re going to convince anyone of anything, the reality of the situation is that all of this material is actually out there. Anyone who knows anything about games, can look at the SC changelog since Mar to now, and clearly see that, outside of shops, one new location (GrimHex), as well as some new weapons and ships made flight ready, NOTHING tangible by way of meaningful progress outside of bug fixes and tweaks, have been made to the game.
No, I am not going to explain to you what “maintenance” mode means as it pertains to software development; go look it up and add it to your MS Word document, so you can copy and paste it wherever you guys post.
Comparing this multi-million dollar game with a triple-A budget, to an indie game with a small team, isn’t going to make Star Citizen any better, nor increase its chances of ever being released (even as promised), or make it a good game. And the more you guys do it, the sillier and more desperate it looks. At the end of the day, just like all my games, LOD is in no danger of not being released.
As we’ve all stated, the people like you in the community, are the worst thing that could ever have happened to this project. So no matter how the game turns out in the end, it is forever tainted, and will forever remain the laughing stock of gamers and game devs everywhere.September 23, 2016 at 7:37 am #4508
NEW INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA ARTICLES
In the vein of the recent The Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything article, comes a Kotaku UK article which delves into the Star Citizen fiasco. It’s quite a lengthy read. Read Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen
Several mags, including PC Gamer are also covering it, while adding their own commentary. Read Eight-month investigation lifts the lid on Star Citizen’s troubled development
PCGamesN now also has a Former Star Citizen devs claim impossible standards wasted months of development, Roberts responds article, as does Rock, Paper, Shotgun with Roberts Acknowledges Some Of Star Citizen’s Woes In Tell-All Investigation
A Swedish magazine, LEVEL, did a similar article back in July, and which, last we heard, was picked up by a leading English media outlet for re-publication; with the Swedish author doing the official translation. As that has been some months now, some are of the opinion that the article may have been bought and buried. But as these things go, there is an unofficial English language translation floating around from back in July. UPDATE: That outlet was in fact Kotaku UK; and they have now published the article on 09/26/16.
BREAKING NEWS! EXPLOSIVE NEW LEAKS!
So TheAgent, who frequents the Goon enclave, and who has posted leaked info in the past, and which were correct, has posted a new slew of leaks. Some are pretty explosive.
What’s interesting is that just yesterday from the 2.6 Evocati leak which I wrote about (see below), I had extrapolated that there was no chance of the much touted (at GamesCom 2016) 3.0 patch (aka Jesus Patch) coming out in 2016. Heck, it’s bad enough that neither Star Citizen nor Squadron 42 are coming out this year. So if TheAgent is correct, that’s pretty hilarious. Then again, as they did with the completely disastrous (it was rushed out) 2.0 patch from Dec 2015, they may just rush out a subset of 3.0 at some point this year, just to prove us wrong. We’ll see.
The bottom line is that, as I previously wrote, Chris has done it again. He went on stage, made false promises, raised money as a result, and once again is probably not going to deliver.
Printed verbatim from TheAgent :
- no 3.0 this year (duh), release date is now “after [a significant portion of] SQ42 is released”
- ship sales will continue
- there’s yet another new studio involved (most likely contractors/outside dev pool) for planet artwork/maps
- “The Squadron 42 [Prelude] has to hit its [Q1 2017] goal. No more excuses.” unsure who, just listed as “top exec”
- a lot of mocap issues with translating them directly into the game, mostly due to character and players size (?? not sure what this means)
- “Expect a lot of cutscenes.”
- mocapped characters are fine stationary (sitting, standing, etc) but currently anything involving complex animation makes the models freak out, mostly clipping and clothes problems (still)
- certain characters have several (reported up to six!) different models, as certain scenes had to use entirely different models for the same character due to model size, lod and poor mocap translation
- specific reshoots using stand ins for A list actors are ongoing, mostly animation, actions and poses (still occurring as of q3 2016)
- FPS AI still murders everything through walls, doors, whatever
- certain departments continue to pump out work at an incredible rate while others snail behind, causing back up and necessary “refactoring” when certain elements do not work or had scope change
- heads of department told to “turtle” and avoid outside influences (?? )
- they can’t get the intricate damage model to work in SP/MP at all yet, ships continue to randomly jumble themselves to death
CitizenCon 2016 (Oct 9th)
- crunch time continues for all studios, many people are working seven days a week for the citcon showing
- companion app with $ to ingame currency purchases, chat, etc (design phase only, citcon slide)
- new A list cutscene, wrapped shooting july 2016 (majority of overtime is spent working on this)
- touting multiple SQ42 endings on one citcon slide, also says it directly affects SC world/player character
- FPS purchasable classes still a thing and one of the major things they are revealing
- SQ42 prelude still listed as march 2017
- ^ “no way we’ll hit that deadline” ^
- Roberts: 2.6 should be playable at Citcon
- nothing playable at this time, live streams still using 2.5
the hope is to release SQ42, which will retain players and continue to grow their base while they work on the major problems of SC. SC ship sales and some single player sales (models, skins, ships, va packs, etc) to continue to bring in revenue
they will be pushing a new subscription thing at citcon too, btw
it supposedly rewards sub only campaign missions, fps classes, certain ships, etcSeptember 29, 2016 at 2:27 pm #4530
KOTAKU (UK) ON-GOING STAR CITIZEN INVESTIGATION
Kotaku (UK) is working on a five-part series of Star Citizen articles as part of their on-going investigations into the project.
- Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen
- The 24-Year Feud That Has Dogged Star Citizen (English translation of “Star Crisis” article in Swedish LEVEL mag, June 2016)
- Who Are the Star Citizen Superbackers? (re-print of an August 2016 article)
- What Happened to Star Marine, Star Citizen’s Missing Module
- What to Make of Star Citizen (added on 09/30)
The Star Marine one is pretty interesting as I had already covered it extensively in one of my blogs; and is also covered here. I had even hinted on Twitter that the problems with that project being scrapped, were not solely (if at all) the fault of Illfonic. Since last year I had said that due to the NDA, Illfonic couldn’t defend themselves from the accusations from backers that they were responsible for the fate of Star Marine. Reading the 1st and 4th articles above, it becomes clear that the same problems that plagued Star Citizen proper, also plagued Star Marine.
The interesting part is that, even after going on the record and saying that Star Marine was already released and in Star Citizen, he recently (coincidentally just ahead of GamesCom2016) started talking about it again as coming soon; no doubt to reduce the liability associated with the cancellation of a prominent module that backers had paid for – in full.
This is Star Marine in 2014. Nope; definitely not in the current Star Citizen build.
Then there’s the wall of lies by Ben Lesnick, which also mentions Star Marine back in 2015.
Another titbit, we got word of how Chris Roberts became involved in that first Kotaku article.
“I alluded to this earlier, but the original article was due to come out before Gamescom and initially contained no Roberts at all. Then, during the standard request for comment, the Big Man himself couldn’t resist handling things personally, thinking there would be no better source for disproving the vicious rumours (or, you know, doing anything because he’s the best and knows all the best words) than himself.
Prior to him getting wind of the article, it was probably going to be some F42 people (presumably Erin and an equally cagey backup), and you can imagine how different the final article would have been in that situation.
All in all its just a repeat of the Escapist fiasco from last year. At a time where no info is still the best info for the project, he waded in there and needlessly made another mess. If the gossip about Ortwin turns out to be true I don’t doubt it’s because he’s finally realised Chris is a liability beyond anyone’s control.“
Chris truly is his own worst enemy. Seriously, if he wasn’t involved in that first article, it would certainly have not only read differently, but also won’t have cast him and the project in such a poor light. It’s quite revealing, and shows all the same behavioral traits from his past (solo or joint) endeavors (all of which btw, ended up being catastrophic failures) after Wing Commander.
STAR CITIZEN 3.0 (JESUS PATCH) COMING IN 2016
Chris lied (again) to raise money at GamesCom2016. It’s just not happening. The End.
Even the upcoming 2.6 patch (the last one before the big leap to all the 3.0 promises) is currently in the first Evocati testing stage. It doesn’t contain Star Marine. It’s now Oct 2016.
UPDATE: In today’s pre-recorded AtV broadcast (16:19), they’ve now gone on the record saying that what Evocati are now testing, isn’t even 2.6, but 2.5x. Which means that 2.6 – whatever that is – will be their end of year patch. My sides.
CHRIS IS AT IT AGAIN
So last week, two new interviews (1, 2) popped up over at GamersNexus. This time he’s gone on the record again promising even more new features. This time, seeing as he is on the procedural planets roll, he’s gone and promised planetary weather patterns and solar positioning of stellar bodies. In a game where every asset that’s part of the scene is either static or with an animation (e.g. the rotating parts of the station) controller. Aside from the fact that it’s all blatant lies, it’s yet another example of the feature (assuming they actually do it) creep that has plagued this project. Remember, they don’t even have planetary landings yet; let alone a fully built star system from the 100 that was promised during the campaign back in 2012.
Oh, and it’s no longer the Best Damn Space Sim Ever. It’s now the Best Damn Everything Sim. Yeah. Of course those key parts are now being picked up by the media and propagated.
Some hilarious titbits from the GamersNexus interview.
- Says the Sun doesn’t move around our solar system (6:50). Which most of us who are into the sort of thing, know to be false. The Sun is actually moving through our galaxy. The gravity of the stars (billions of them) within it, are what keep the Sun at the relative center of the galaxy where it maintains an orbit. But yes, it does move.
- Thinks The Morrow Tour (SQ42 reveal) from CitizenCon2015 looked terrific (4:37). Here, you take a look.
- Talks about the short term thinking that drove all their previous iterations & presentations (11:18). Gee, who knew? We’ve all known and seen how they end up showing material as “Coming Soon“, yet never to see the light of day. The trend continues as recently as this past GamesCom2016 presentation, and is expected to continue again in the upcoming CitizenCon2016 fundraiser on Oct 9th.
What’s even more hilarious in all these recent interviews is that he keeps talking about Elite Dangerous as a competitor. This despite the fact that not only is that game (also crowd-funded prior to release) out, and making vast improvements in leaps and bounds, but is also technologically superior in every way. And even so, they aren’t modeling our galaxy at a 1:1 level of fidelity. Yet, there he is, talking up a bunch of crap about a sci-fi based universe that’s supposed to be competing at the same level.
He is never going to learn. At all.
AND THEN CAME BEN
This (we have history) clueless, racist, incompetent buffoon, is the single worst thing that could have ever happened to this project. Next to Chris, and Sandi, he’s this project’s prime liability. And I for one, can’t wait to read his deposition. For those of you who have forgotten how this fool got involved in a project that many believe is now an on-going scam, go watch this interview segment from Feb 2014. And you can read his legacy (1, 2, 3) archived for posterity, complete with homophobic, racist, antisemitic comments. Then there’s this rant against backers. Yes – he works for CIG/RSI.
With the Star Marine fiasco in full swing, and backers expecting (<— LOL!!) it to be in upcoming 2.6 patch as promised (<— LOL!!) by CIG/RSI, he recently went on an interview (5:59) in which he was asked a specific and direct question about it. He was taken off guard. Seriously, this is a 100% accurate transcript of that answer.
“You have had an opportunity to PLAY and not talk about yet, STAR MARINE, that’s gonna be coming to us in a few short weeks, I hope SOONER than that, but… since the EVOCATI doesn’t have it I’m gonna say ‘a few short weeks’, um…”
(grins) fingers crossed!
“Yeah, fingers crossed, I know how you go, there’s always SOMETHING that’ll keep it from coming out and we wanna know and make sure that it’s ready to be TESTED and not just be BROKEN… so… I mean that’s what we’re DOING… um… but… but… even FPS in this game is more about SUPPORTING each other than just KILLING each other, what are your thoughts from the few hours that you got to spend in STAR MARINE?
Is that… am I getting that same feeling?”
“EEee-yeah it’s very team based… but uh… it… it’s still that kinda FPS experience… definitely you fighting other PEOPLE. Uhh… I… I… I think it’s more than just the GAMEPLAY with STAR CITIZEN, it’s more… we have all these people behind the IDEA of doing FPS differently… an-ya-nuh nobody goes into… the latest BATTLEFIELD er… BATTLE… I keep calling… CALL OF DUTY saying, ‘oh what, what kind of technological improvement is it’, it’s more… you know…
I don’t know where I’m going with this…
Duh… it… it feels like we have all these people with a FULL UNDERSTANDING of what goes into the GAME, ah… we… I think… which helps you a lot“
STAR CITIZEN ACCOUNTS VS CITIZENS NUMBERS
I have a high profile source who has managed to explain to me just how exactly the funding chart (powered by Turbulent) works. And I have a new blog in the works related to that one. I have written many times that most of us have reason to believe that the chart is inaccurate, and that it appears to be manipulated to show health and interest in the project. As these things go, nothing short of a State or Fed investigation, or a lawsuit, will be able to get to the bottom of that. Naturally, some people have resorted to scraping it as well. Heck, this is Chris himself proclaiming one million citizens milestone back on Oct 4th, 2015.
This project has so far raised over $124 million with zero oversight and financial accountability – both of which were promised to backers (see Section VII) from the onset. Notwithstanding the fact that with the June 2016 ToS, they not only removed (see comparison) the ability to get refunds, but also changed most of the terms related to that, as well as financial accountability.
To compound the issue is the fact that, all this time, nobody in the media has seen fit to ask Chris the real backer numbers for the project. If they did, they were probably told off-the-record, or the question wasn’t answered. In either case, why is it such a secret? The simply answer is that it’s better to say the game has 1.5 million backers, than to say that’s 1.5 million accounts, of which barely 500K (as of when we last scrapped the metrics) are backers (who put money into the game).
In fact, just a few months ago, a statement made to the media as to the veracity of this 500K number, went largely unnoticed, as it was made to an obscure magazine in an interview of Turbulent, the guys who built, and run it for CIG/RSI. Here, take a look at the original French version, and the English version. See anything missing? Well, this part does not appear in the English version.
BREAKING NEWS! EXPLOSIVE NEW LEAKS!
The rumors and leaks keep on coming – and from most of the studios associated with the project. The most prominent rumors that seem to be picking up steam are that layoffs and high-profile exits are coming, that they’ve literally run out of money to build Chris’s dreams in the long term, and that Sandi and/or Ortwin may be on the way out.
Though we’re still trying to get first hand confirmation with the authorities, there is also word that a complaint was filed with the CA Department of Labor regarding overtime at the studio. This is a very big deal because the labor dept in most states, are very strict about this sort of thing. Just ask the many companies – including game companies – who have run afoul of it and came away with heavy fines, time consuming investigations etc. Note that this overtime crunch period also appeared in the first Kotaku article.
“The fines are the least significant cost. I had a couple friends who had a job where they apparently had to be there at work 15 minutes before their shift due to IT shenanigans but were never paid for it. This went on for years. Apparently, Department of Labor got an anonymous letter from someone working there, they investigated and found the company violated labor laws. This opened them up to a civil class action suit which resulted in not just the current employees of the company but former employees as well getting paid that extra 15 minutes at time and half for every day they worked there, minus lawyer fees. My friends got about $2000-3000 each for working there almost ten years.
Now, here, we have CIG employees that have over 80 hour weeks and 36 hour days and not getting paid for overtime. Even the 90-day probationary employees who worked then left would probably be looking at 250-500 hours overtime in their work history and (I’ll pull $20/hourly for entry-level creative work), that’s about $5k to $10k per those employees. And CIG was a revolving door. They’re looking at least $2- to $3 million in overtime pay alone.“
Whale backers are still frantically trying to get their money out of the project. In the past 24hrs, a backer with over $11K finally got a refund after almost two months of wrangling.
TheAgent is back!
Once again, TheAgent is back with more leaks and rumors. As always, a hefty vial of salt is highly recommended.
- the leaker back in august told me there was new mocap going to be put in after citcon in october
- but! sandi has been getting paid to do the fill in mocap for the female models for the last few months
- and! sandi will also be in the new scenes in october/november
- these are not technically “reshoots” since its new material, but had to be added since some actors are no longer available or desire to work with roberts and the script was rewritten (again, for the 3rd time after principle shooting)
- the last leak on mocap shooting was $29m, is now a projected $40m+ (one person said 60m but I dont believe that
- unconfirmed: ortwin is now distancing himself from the project, requesting a buyout
- confirmed: legal ramifications for unpaid overtime due to an “anonymous letter” sent to the california labor commissioner
- 3 absolutely key guys are leaving
- the money has run out
- les dennis is appearing in sq42
- cig are being sued for 50 mill + by a group of investors and whales
- an ex senior staff member has been questioned by police after a xxxxx was brutally xxxxx in a xxxxxx
CITIZENCON 2016 CASTING CALL
So, in what can only be called filler for the show, CIG/RSI put out a call for backers to do a short video. Not judging though, but here, please introduce yourself to “saviors of PC Gaming“. Enjoy.October 4, 2016 at 10:31 am #4566
STAR CITIZEN FINANCIALS – THE SMOKING ROCKET LAUNCHER
Back in 2012 when Star Citizen went to crowd-funding on Kickstarter, one of the most important carrot sticks that was dangled in front of potential backers, and which remains in place today (even though the wording has been changed with the June 2016 update), was financial accountability for the project if they failed to deliver within 12 months (later changed to 18) months of the promised Nov 2014 deadline. There are two sections of the ToS which tie into i) refunds ii) use of funds iii) accountability for funds
In v1.2 of the ToS, which was current up until June 10, 2016 the following appears in Section VII
“RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you within eighteen (18) months after the estimated delivery date.
For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost. In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.”
In the June 10, 2016 ToS, the above section was changed to the following. This widespread outcry sparked numerous backers to immediately ask for a refund. I covered some of those issues in my Refund Debacle blog back in July.
“RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has ceased development and failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you. (Pledges made under previous Terms of Services continue to be governed by the corresponding clause of the Terms of Services, or of the Commercial Terms, as applicable, which were in effect at the time of making the Pledge).
For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to refund any unearned portion of your Pledge, and to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost. In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.“
You can see all the material changes to both the old and new ToS versions.
Here’s the thing. As per the above, backers who don’t agree to the new ToS, are 100% entitled to a no-questions-asked refund. Until this ToS change fiasco, coupled with the numerous complaints to State and Fed officials, it was very difficult – and near impossible – to get a refund. But people (recently a whale pulled out $11K) are getting them now, though the process is reported to still be fraught with complexities, numerous back and forth shenanigans, delays etc. But the new ToS makes it near impossible to get a refund.
Those who agree to the new ToS, either as existing or new backers, are faced with the possibility that they will never get a refund. Most people (especially gamers who think they’re rubbish anyway) don’t read the fine print. So let me interpret that fine print.
If RSI is unable to complete the game, that means they have run out of time and money. So where exactly would the refunds be coming from? If the funding chart is accurate (it’s not – but wait for my upcoming blog), it stands to reason that after raising $124 million (see breakdown) from backers over a four year period, if they failed to deliver, even without refunding media subscriptions – which they don’t – they would still have to refund the cost of undelivered physical goods, as well as the pre-purchase (no, it’s not a pledge – so stop it) of the game. Last we checked, subscriptions hadn’t even broken the $1 million barrier. So when RSI fails to deliver – as they already have, two years later – it will be a total loss; and there would be no money left to give refunds. Think about it; if they had money to give refunds, they won’t be closing up shop, would they?
Now here’s the fun part. Outside of legal, State or Fed action, they have no incentive to provide the financial accounting promised to backers. If they had nothing to hide, and they intended to provide it, there would be no need to keep revising (it’s on its 4th revision btw) the ToS, even as they reduce their liability, and hang backers out to dry with those changes. So, most of us believe that they won’t provide it because aside from wasteful spending, unjust enrichment by the execs, and claims of malfeasance, revealing those financials would give backers cause for concern, and of course give people like me even more reason to be shouting from the rafters. It would also no doubt show that not only are they running on empty – as claimed by several sources – but that’s why they have to keep using objectionable (creating canned demos to show progress, selling pictures of ships etc) tactics to continue raising money. It’s not unlike a Ponzi scheme; seriously. And that’s precisely how most of us expect it to eventually collapse. It won’t be a slow burn (see Godus and its ilk); but a sudden, catastrophic collapse. With four official studios worldwide, and almost a dozen more operating as contractors, and with over 300 employees/contractors, they have to be burning around $3 million or more per month – easy. Which means that, for all intent and purposes, unless they are making that kind of money each month, they’re probably running at an operating loss (spending more than they are making each month).
The question of what happens to money given to companies, is one that most backers aren’t focused on; even though it’s the smoking rocket launcher in the case of Star Citizen. Which is why, even though private US companies aren’t required to share their financials with the public, over in the UK, they are required to do so. Heck, Frontier Developments Plc, makers of Elite Dangerious, have theirs regularly filed (1, 2). And so, with three (1, 2, 3) entities still late on filing their 2016 accounts, we are still waiting to see what those numbers are; as they will in fact shed light on the financials of the US companies associated with them. As of this writing, they are late – again – on those filings. But according to discussions with Companies House, companies have two (it used to be three) months after the deadline in which to file, before facing higher fines and ultimately criminal prosecution of the directors. Which means that they have until Dec 1st to file.
Problem is, unless and until State or Fed agencies, banks, or investors takes action, the only way for backers to get these financials, is to file a lawsuit and obtain them either through discovery, or as a resolution to the suit. Right now any backer on the old ToS – with or without an attorney – can sue them for those financials seeing as they have missed the 18 month cure period to deliver as promised. But they are bound by arbitration (see Section XXII) which heavily favors (1, 2, 3, 4) corporations. But guess what? Even so, CIG will just refund them; and probably (depending on the arbitrating judge) never have to provide those financials. That would be the end of the matter. So they might as well give refunds; which is cheaper and has less PR nightmares for them.
In one of my blogs, I stated the following related to the financials as it ties into the executives who are relatives (Chris, Sandi, Erin – Roberts) and lifelong friends (Nick & Simon Elms, Derek Senior), most of whom were part of the Gizmondo collapse from a few years back, and which I covered in an earlier blog. Notwithstanding the fact that every single known venture that Chris has been involved in since leaving the games industry over a decade ago, has ultimately collapsed.
“Please ask them if it’s true that: after they founded a studio (Foundry42-UK) to help develop this game, and Chris pulled in his brother and childhood friends in from another company to head it, that less than two years later, another subsidiary (associated with the project) then turned around and bought the company back from those very people. Thus taking out a significant amount of wealth out of the project and putting it into the pockets of those very friends and family. While still paying his brother Erin, what amounts to almost $250K in yearly salary; not including benefits or bonuses – which aren’t disclosed. Aside from this being reported to be almost 3x what he was making at his previous company, it’s also 2x the average for a director in the Manchester region.”
For those of you clueless as to how a business runs, note that just because you have several shell companies, multiple studios, and hundreds of employees, doesn’t mean squat in terms of longevity, or financial health, let alone the internal state of the company. It’s all in the financials. And for a $124 million crowd-funded project – not taking into account investor amounts, loans etc – those financials are vital in determining whether or not they can in fact deliver on promises. Obviously RSI knew this, which is why they put that clause as a carrot stick in the ToS right from the beginning. Then, as with everything else, have thus far failed to keep their promise; even as they float the money across several shell companies.
Homework: Go look at Frontier’s company/team size, and their burn rate (it’s in their financials). And that’s one studio.
THE LUDICROUSNESS CONTINUES
RSI isn’t operating like a company that is flush with cash, let alone one that has ample cash reserves as Chris Roberts – who has the uncanny ability to lie on cue, even without reason – has claimed. They have continued to use a series of carefully planned and staged tactics designed to continue bilking backers (probably investors as well) in order to raise money. And with a few backers (approximately 2000 last time we ran the metrics), still funding the project, there is seemingly no incentive for them to stop using these practices. They pulled the same stunt this past August at the Gamescom2016 event – to the tune of $4.4 million total take for the month. Based on what many believe to be lies. Multiple sources have in fact confirmed that the demo shown – aside from the analysis by myself and others following the event – was staged for the event in order to show progress. Just like they’ve done before in the past.
And naturally, as part of the on-going fundraising effort, they’re still selling JPEGs of ships. The latest being the above concept ship. This aside from the fact that the engineering debt on those is currently so high, that last we checked, not even 50% of the ships sold, have been created, let alone implemented in the game. And with the upcoming yearly CitizenCon2016 event on Oct 9th, they announced another “concept” sale.
From the latest upcoming sale, ponder this. That’s $750 (not a typo) for an image of a ship, for a game that doesn’t yet exist.
Amid all this, remember that Chris Roberts this past April, came out and flat-out said that the first official release of the game, will be a Minimum Viable Product, instead of the full game promised back in 2012. This after five years, and having raised $124 million.
All of these actions and statements are enough for backers to have questions about how long the company can be a Going Concern, and also what has happened to all this money.
As I’ve stated before, how people choose to spend their money, is up to them. However, the few who, going through Sunk Cost Fallacy, and continuing to pour money into this train-wreck, can only speak for themselves. There are others who just want the game they were promised, or a refund in full. RSI cannot deliver the product promised; this is no longer in question because it’s now a foregone conclusion. What’s in question is what will they have achieved and delivered before they either start the inevitable down-sizing, or when the predicted catastrophic collapse comes?
And what should be even more concerning is that this game – as designed – relies on a very expensive server backend to operate. Built like an MMO, complete with cloud server backend, with database access etc, it simply cannot operate without someone footing the expensive monthly bill. There is no single-player. There is no peer-to-peer networking with private servers which ensures players can play the game once the servers go dark. That’s what a catastrophic collapse of the project means. And anyone still giving them money, knowing all this, amid the high risk and broken promises associated with this project, will lose their money when they fail to deliver.October 25, 2016 at 3:06 pm #4701
STAR CITIZEN PROGRESS
Ahead of the GamesCom event in August, I had said that Chris was – again – going to be making stuff up in order to raise money. During that event, he – again – made some lofty promises in relation to a much touted 3.0 (aka Jesus Patch) patch. Aside from the fact that sources had claimed that most of that stuff wasn’t even implemented at the time he made those statements, he has again used a tech demo as a means to show progress. A demo which, much like the one shown in the CitizenCon event of Oct, wasn’t even part of the current game proper. And so, here we are at the end of October, and not even the much awaited 2.6 patch is in community (Evocati) testing.
And the hilarity of it all is that even though Chris went on stage and claimed that 3.0 would be coming at the end of the year, in keeping with the tradition (NOTE: That’s only happened once, back in Dec 2015. So we have no clue what tradition he’s talking about), some in the community are now trying to pass it off as if he never did say that. Well, he did (start at 23:42).
To say that the natives are getting restless (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) would be an understatement. I mean, threads like this, in which almost 50% now don’t expect the game before 2019, which would normally be hidden away in the “concern” sub-forum, are still visible. And it’s not just on Reddit or the official forums; the dissent is getting louder by the day.
Not to mention the fact that the needle on the stretch goal promises list as of this writing, hasn’t even moved; and there’s nothing in 2.6 that would even cause it to do so.
Amid all that, you’d think that CIG/RSI would be focused on showing backers relevant development progress, instead of spending time on tech demos designed specifically to portray progress, while milking backers for even more money. But as we’ve now learned, the upcoming holiday stream is going to be showcasing ships (their primary commodity and source of income btw) as well as other peripheral irrelevant nonsense; all designed to continue raising money.
SQUADRON 42 PROGRESS
Sources say that it’s coming along, and that a trailer is quite possibly coming by year end. Which doesn’t mean squat; seeing as it was touted to be released back in 2014; and nobody has seen anything of it in over a year since the rubbish Morrow Tour tech demo was shown in late 2015 – at yet another event.
The issue with SQ42 is that a trailer is just going to be regarded as just another trailer in the list of trailers and tech demos they have been releasing; and in which most are either not reflective of the game, or which will never make it into the game. That fact that it’s over two years late, no demo for, or testing by backers, is testament to the fact that not only is it several months away, but simply isn’t in any production ready state which would facilitate even a live demo walkthrough.
On the tech side of things, aside from the fact that it shares the same engine as Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe), it’s going to be interesting to see how exactly it is they are planning on shipping Squadron 42 ahead of Star Citizen, when in fact they both share an engine which, for all intent and purposes, is still very much in a major state of flux. For example, SC is currently at 2.5 (the Evocati testers are at 2.5.1). So let’s assume for argument sake that they do release 3.0 patch in Mar 2017, then SQ42 EP1 comes out in May. That would mean the latter is based on a subset of the 3.0 engine kernel, seeing as 4.0 is now targeted for end of 2017. Now they have to issue on-going patches for a released game (SQ42 EP1) and a work-in-progress game (SC) which has several interconnecting modules.
So basically, they would be releasing a “finished” game, based on an engine that’s still very much work-in-progress. Not to mention the fact that he’s recently been going on about having procedurally generated planetary terrain, when in fact what was shown, and what they seemingly have, is basically a pre-generated height map with 3D assets manually placed on it. Like this (that’s based on the same CryEngine3 sub-set from which they built this StarEngine btw).
That aside, if you have seen how they literally abandoned the Hangar, Arena Commander modules, canceled Star Marine etc, while focusing on the PU, it’s easy to see what will happen when SQ42 gets released and enters the mix.
Read more about this scheduling nonsense in my recent Shattered Dreams blog.
But it gets better. At $5 million funded, Chris promised 50 (!) missions (among other vague things) for SQ42. That was back when the package was the game, plus a “Behind Enemy Lines” mission disk for all backers who pledged before $6 million. Then in an April 2015 “10 For The Chairman” broadcast, Chris again not only made lofty promises, but he split the game into episodes. This time, the base game would be EP1, the mission disk would be EP2, and the story would continue in EP3. There’s a long Reddit discussion about that, if you want to look it up. Despite the fact that I had reported it long before he even made it public, in Feb 2016, he officially announced the split of SQ42 from SC. We all laughed.
What’s interesting about all this is the fact that most of the backers are already entitled to ALL these games. So if you consider that the funding is all pre-orders, it’s easy to see how this scheme is going to absolutely collapse if they can’t somehow monetize these games going forward. They’ve been doing just that with SC, but so far, no clue on how they plan on doing it with SQ42. One theory is that, seeing as nobody knows what EP1 to EP3 are supposed to contain, it’s feasible that the 50 (disregard that Reddit nonsense of 70 missions; he never said that) missions are going to be spread out in some fashion. In that aforementioned broadcast, he mentioned EP1 as having “about 21 chapters with over 70 Wing Commander style missions, spanning about 20 hrs of gameplay”. Nobody knows how many missions are in a chapter. So ponder this. Do you really think that the running time for 50 missions is “about 20 hrs”?
Seeing as they change things on the fly, my guess is that they are going to release a Minimum Viable Product for both EP1 and EP2 since they’re already in “debt” to backers for those; then try to somehow monetize EP3 to everyone. This is all assuming that they even survive 2017.
The other thing to remember is that once they release EP1 as a finished product, it is going to be reviewed as such, and automatically be associated with Star Citizen proper. If what sources are telling me turns out to be true, that the visuals look good – not great, the script is atrocious, the cut-scene acting piss-poor, the game rife with cut-scenes, and the “gameplay” is the usual cookie-cutter nonsense, it’s going to get absolutely ripped by media and gamers. Completely. All of these things contribute to Chris’s hesitation at showing this project to media, let alone the backers who have paid for it. He knows fully well that the minute this gets shown in any playable form, if it’s not the masterpiece that he thinks (only he thinks this btw, several sources have unequivocally stated that it’s crap) it is, then it’s game over.
Which brings me to today’s Sandi hilarity. At the 0:40 mark, after Forrest talks about what they are working on, she made a comment “so nothing’s happening then” after the mention of Squadron 42. No doubt this was meant to be a sarcastic jab at dissenters who have been upset about SQ42 not being shown at the recent CitizenCon, let alone released in 2016. Of course, since she has no training in media relations – let alone marketing of any kind – this sort of comment, in complete disrespect to the very backers who made them rich, is somehow perfectly normal.
In case you missed it, read more about the SQ42 fiasco in my Star Citizen – The Shafting blog.
MEMBER OF STAR CITIZEN COMMUNITY ARRESTED, ARRAIGNED ON PEDOPHILE CHARGES
On the darker side of The Farce, we have reports that one Shawn Thomas Weixelman (aka Fuzzy Modem), who has been prolific in attacking me and others for “saying bad stuff about the train-wreck that is the Star Citizen project” has reportedly been indicted in Alaska on serious felony charges. This was first spotted about two months ago in a comment posted on his YouTube page, but it wasn’t until the last 24 hrs, that more details came to light. As reported in the news and court reports (case # 4FA-16-01486CR <– if that doesn’t work, search by the case number), he was arraigned on July 22nd and held without bail, less than 24hrs after his last activity in the Star Citizen community.
As someone with a Shotgun (Star Citizen’s dev feedback platform) he interacted with some members of the team, including Sandi Gardiner (who he goes out of his way to defend at every opportunity) who mentions (18:37) him in the Oct 22nd 2015 episode of “Around the Verse: Episode 2.04” broadcast. And this is him from the May 2, 2014 episode of “The Next Great Starship Episode 1.11” broadcast. Apparently the Polaris ship that CIG/RSI have been flogging since CitizenCon2016, was either his original design, or the inspiration for the final version.
As I’ve stated before, the vocal backers in the toxic cesspool that is the Star Citizen community, who (aka Shitizens) are waging an Internet war of attrition against dissent, are the project’s biggest liability; bested only by Chris Roberts, his wife Sandi Gardiner, and community person, Ben Lesnick. Amid a lot of hate filled rhetoric, attacks, harassment etc, I have received death threats since my first blog. In fact, one such threat was traced to this fellow who is also a backer.
When you consider the fact that these people reportedly knew about allegations of sexual harassment of a community member by another, Wulf Knight (aka Dick Wulf, the delightful fellow written about here), and chose not to act, but to allow the accused (being long time friend of Ben Lesnick) to remain within their ranks, it’s hard to disregard. Heck, just weeks ago we raised the alarm after this same person, boasted on Twitter about handling security for the CitizenCon 2016 event earlier this month.
All that aside from the uncovering of Ben Lesnick’s website (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) earlier this year which was rife with not only racist, homophobic and anti-semitic posts, but also years of questionable commentary which would have certainly guaranteed the firing of anyone at any other public facing company. Shockingly, as I write this, though reports are that he is no longer actively on the payroll, having been “phased out” of the limelight and the project, he is still active at the CIG office in LA. We’re still investigating that one. But if true, it could only mean that he’s now a contractor (probably with a Golden parachute exit that’s normal for people who “know too much”) of sorts, and CIG/RSI have chosen to remain mum about his current role on the project, let alone his exit. Recently, he’s been seen begging for money in order to buy legacy Wing Commander trash (aka paraphernalia) which even Chris Roberts doesn’t seem in the least bit interested in. I kid you not.October 28, 2016 at 3:46 pm #4727
THE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN
Oh this one is good. Real good.
Earlier today, an absolutely crazy review of Star Citizen showed up online. Like seriously, it was here. Not only was it not even based on the game as we know it, but most of the outrageous claims were straight out of their marketing campaign. Even the tribe over on Reddit were aghast (which is a stretch, even for them).
Shortly after the outcry reached crescendo, the article was taken off line; mere hours later. You can find an image of the original, as well as an archive of the most outrageous parts highlighted. What’s worse, even David Swofford, head of PR for the project, re-tweeted the article earlier in the day.
Upon further research, it was discovered that the author was non other than Rick Hudson who just happens to live in Manchester where one of the studios (Foundry 42) is located. Here is an article from March 2015 which was preceded by this missive which he wrote a month earlier in Feb 2015.
“Rick Hudson, a well known horror and sci-fi writer, who lives in Manchester, stopped by the Foundry 42 offices a couple of weeks ago to have a look at Star Citizen. He came away impressed. He plans on writing a story on his visit and impressions at some major outlets, but in the meantime he posted his early thoughts on Indiebration. “Unusually for a computer game, it had me gripped. First off, the game looks amazing – don’t ask me about gigabytes and the like, I know nothing about that stuff – but in terms of graphics Star Citizen is phenomenal.”“
UPDATE: There is mounting evidence that CIG may have hired a “reputation management” firm as a result of all the negative press on the project. The way those companies work is that they flood the Internet and social media with positive articles, social media posts etc in a bid to drown the negative stuff. e.g. my blogs, the media (e.g. Kotaku articles etc). We’ve so far found other articles (1, 2) which have been shoved into the metrics. And it’s also duplicated, with different wording. Thing is, they’re mostly fabricated statements and outright lies touting features that are either non-existent or not even promised to be in the game. Any reader with a working knowledge of the game, can easily see this.
LATEST INSIDER SCOOPS
TheAgent (man on the inside looking at the abyss outside from the inside) is back with more outrageous insider scoops.
Let’s start with the most outrageous one.
Went out drinking with a friend last night..
“We are, we do! Work towards something. We work hard at making progress. We do! But that progress is changed every week. Every day sometimes. How can anything ever be finished if entire teams of employees are retasked at any moment? People lose momentum. You lose sight of what the project is. It just becomes one unfinished thing after another. One of Roberts’ lackeys tells you to drop something, you do. Then two weeks later Roberts is screaming at some poor guy because he did as he was told. “Not by me.” That’s the response you hear a lot from Roberts.”
“The best one, absolutely, deals with [a brand new employee]. It’s his, what, third day? He’s in the break room and Roberts storms in but is real quiet. Pulls the guy out and walks him in front of some other workstation. “What is this?” Roberts goes. The new guy, right outta college, is shitting himself. What could Roberts mean? Was something wrong with the desk? Was this where he’s supposed to be sitting? He’s got no idea.
“You know what this costs? You’re taking my time, everyone’s time,” and now Roberts is shouting, “it’s like you don’t care how much you’re costing us. Do you like spending my money?” Chris stands there, arms crossed, waiting for a response.
[The new guy] is scared stupid. He starts blubbering and apologising without having any idea what’s going on, right?
Chris points to the chair, “Sit your ass down and get it right.” He then storms off again. Poor guy has no idea what the fuck to do.
Turns out Chris thought he was [completely different employee]. He never apologised. Never went back to check if anything was fixed. [New guy] quit by week three.”
“if they don’t push out 2.6 before 2017 hits, they are done
if they push out 2.6 before 2017, its going to be a terrible, contrived, bug riddled mess and then they will be done
they are seriously weighing those options right now. like having closed door, “what will we do about 2.6” meetings
I mean 3.0 is supposed to be here in less than 9 weeks, but is roughly a year+ out. 2.6 is the last saving grace for them before they start shitting out sq42 episodes and preludes and interludes and prelude dessidia final fight squadrons or whatever fucking kingdom hearts titled shit they have stored in the back there
do you know that they are talking about doing another crowd funded project? I’m not even kidding“
On Squadron 42. Apparently still a thing…
“sq42 prelude in q1 2017, 100% confirmed today
its now more like a demo showcase, but its playable
and its awful
honestly I don’t see it hitting until q2 because chris is still reshooting
but they do have march 31st, 2017 on internal mock ups
remember this isn’t a full episode. a full episode or whatever is 20+ hours of content
not even close“
The on-going fps shenanigans (we assume it’s Star Marine)…
“one of the biggest problems with the cover system right now is that when you peek out from wherever you’re hiding, your gun just sticks into the fucking wall or
you don’t shoot where your crosshairs are aiming or
you pop out of cover but can’t be hit because you’re still registered as being covered or
you vault over another player and kill him instantly (I think they should keep that in) or
you jitter out of the map when you go into cover most of the time or
you fall through the map because you switch guns while in cover or
the animations get totally fucked when popping into or out of cover and you turn into horror spaceman and your guns warp and bend and then you start shooting everyone like you just watched christian bale’s gunkata for beginners“
Oh, but it get’s better..
“roberts wants projectiles fired from guns to actually come from the barrel
that means you aren’t actually shooting where you are pointing the crosshair, you’re pointing the crosshair to point the gun that fires a round
which means a lot of coding to get that working
which also means a shitload of networking to figure out trajectories and shit because the gun isn’t static, its constantly moving
it also means you get fun ARMA type bugs where suddenly you die because you just shot your own neck“
EightAce (the other man on the inside playing tag with crobert’s wig) chimed in with this gem:
“Sq42 ep 1.01 is coming out around feb/march next year. Brace yourselves, it looks like a mid term submission off a half competent student on a games design course that has learnt to use Cry engine. I cannot wait to see the reviews“
I swear at this point, even though most of their scoops tend to pan out, I have to wonder if these two aren’t taking the piss now. Seriously, some of this stuff is so bat-shit crazy, that it’s unbelievable. But as the saying goes: “It’s CIG. There’s always more; and it’s always worse“November 2, 2016 at 6:54 am #4757
STAR CITIZEN – A DISTURBANCE IN THE VERSE
Things are rapidly going from bad to worse over at the ranch. In my 16-10-25 update, I had pointed out some cracks which appear to now be getting larger. In fact, just the other day, multiple sources informed me that things were so bad now it would be a miracle if they are able to push the 2.6 patch out before year end; let alone the 3.0 Jesus Patch. As a result, I sent out some tweets (1, 2) of what I had learned, while awaiting further information.
In their defense, this sort of thing happens in game development and it’s par for the course. As I’ve stated over and over, as a gamedev myself, I simply cannot fault them for having major blockers in a game which, for all intent and purposes is basically a glorified tech demo; and with nothing that even resembles a vertical slice, let alone a pre-Alpha (as they’re calling it). However, the fault lies squarely on Chris Roberts due to having significantly increased the scope of the game, even as the engine chosen for the original vision, could only marginally have made that original vision possible.
The other side of this coin is that he has – repeatedly – lied to backers about the state of the project, withheld critical information, and intentionally failed to communicate to backers the true state of the project. Why? Because the truth will let backers see that not only is the entire project FUBAR, but it’s an impossible vision for a game which – as I stated over 18 months ago – simply cannot be made.
With the anniversary events mere weeks away, and during which they intend to again raise money through selling ships, the silence on the state of the 2.6 and 3.0 patches shouldn’t be surprising in the least. This has been the on-going theme. It happened with Arena Commander, then with Star Marine which was later flat-out canceled before being resurrected after an uproar. Then it happened with Squadron 42 (I wrote about that in my Shattered Dreams blog). Now it’s continuing with Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe).
The biggest issue here is not that the 2.6 patch is late, it’s that the current 2.5 build is in a terrible state; and as some backers have said, very few people (even the pro streamers have either bailed or on their last legs) are even playing it now. The results and commentary for the latest free fly period which ended Oct 31st, should be yet another wake up call for the project. Most backers – rightfully – don’t have a problem with 2.6 being late. For a game that’s in constant development, this should be expected. But nevertheless, when you are touting “open development”, even as you focus on non-essential updates, selling in-game items etc, amid the uproar, information about a much awaited patch, should be front and center. They spend so much time writing and filming a bunch of nonsensical fluff – most of which, being R&D aren’t even likely to be in the game. That time – all of it – is better spent outlining specifically what is going on with the patches, how they are being addressed, what the delay looks like etc. That’s how you keep a community on your side, while keeping stragglers, dissenters, and trolls, in check. By doing this, you completely disarm them. Yes, there will still be some dissent, but then you can point at a bulletin, or a video and say “This is what we said. Go read or watch it“. Case closed.
When it comes to the 3.0 patch, backers may as well just reconcile the fact that they were lied to – again. It’s not even a case of a missed schedule. He basically came up with a list of features (none of which, according to sources, exists or in a form that would have lent any credibility to his “end of year” promise) he knew backers would fall for, then put it out there as “coming soon”; thus – like the demos at GamesCom and CitizenCon – raising money from the few whales who are still dumb enough to keep giving him money.
The issue with Star Citizen is that $130 million comes with a lot of strings, and accountability. Especially when, not even 15% of the larger game is completed; and by all accounts, won’t even be 50% completed (this promises list is 100% accurate and derived from the stretch goals, and updates from Roberts himself) by the 4.0 release slated for end of 2017 (which we all know is rubbish anyway). Since there is no publisher, the strings are the money that backers keep giving, sans the accountability that should go with it.
What backers are experiencing right now should come as no surprise that the accountability that comes with delivering a product, let alone accounting for the money given, went out the window with the June 2016 ToS update. They had no other reason for doing that as anyone can see. Most believe that they were basically preparing – well ahead – for the ultimate collapse and total loss of this project because it will end if they can’t keep raising the money to sustain it. Hence the on-going lies which are mandatory to keeping the money flowing.
Rumors and source leaks aside, the writing is on the wall. They are either going to move 2.6 into 2017 – as indeed they should if it’s not ready for test release – or they will try to push some interim 2.5.x minor branch out in order to quash some of the dissent. But the fact remains, waiting until the last minute, or at a time when the bad news won’t affect the anniversary stream, is just another dishonest plan, and one which has become a staple for them.
My advice remains the same. STOP giving them money; and just let them continue with their dev schedule and plan, release their patch updates as they see fit, then wait to see how things pan out. And if you’re sick and tired of waiting, the lies etc, do what others are doing, go get a refund. If you backed the game ahead of the June ToS, you are 100% entitled to it. If you backed after that date, and agreed to that ToS change, then you have 14 days from your purchase to get a refund. When all else fails, you can be like this guy, sell your ships on the Grey market, and buy a car, house or something.
With that editorial out of the way, here is how things stand as I understand it from my sources.
2.6 status: Not even close to ready for Evocati, let alone GA. Star Marine still laughably doesn’t EXIST because they are still trying to cobble together many bits in order to make that one happen – again. There are said to be many old and new blockers which are creating lots of problems. And sources say the 2.6 list (see above pic) is rubbish because a good portion of that, as basic as it looks, isn’t in a working state. And sources say that most don’t even have a clear understanding as to why Star Marine was even promised for this release; when it could very well have been pushed into a 3.0 point release, which – seeing as it’s nowhere near reality – would have given more time for implementation and testing further into 2017. For my part, I still maintain that Star Marine being back on the schedule (even though Chris went on the record saying it was already released and in the game) as a standalone” module is just a check mark against the liability based promises made to backers years ago.
3.0 status: sources say all are still laughing at this one. It simple does NOT exist as was communicated to backers. It was basically a wishlist of items they wanted to see in a point release; and which Roberts when on the record (again) as saying was coming by “year end, and not on Dec 19th like last year“.
As a result of all this, many threads (1, 2, 3, ) are now popping up all over the place, questioning not only the “silence” on the part of CIG as per the status of these two patches, now that the year is close to an end, but also whether or not, Roberts – again – went public with a litany of lies in order to continue misleading backers and raising money. When Shitizen #3 has a top Reddit thread about how he’s “bored”, you know you done goofed, and should probably start planning for inevitable conclusion of the in-progress E.L.E.
Here are some backer comments.
Even as Rome burns, Lando, a CIG community member, instead of providing info to backers as to the state of progress, instead decided to point out that:
“Updates on the development of the game: while the Comm-Link Schedule has never been the place for this, I certainly understand (and even share) your voracious appetite for updates. The primary source of updates to Star Citizen’s continuing development is in Around the Verse. “
Which was met with accurate responses like:
“I appreciate the sentiment but I believe you would agree that ATV has been mostly looking backwards since CitCon and not the future. At this stage the “we are working on it” that we got last week on ATV is not really an update – unless anyone thought you guys were all just partying instead of “working on it.”
“Sadly last 3 ATVs and RTV were about things you got had to get done for CitCon. There have been no word about what have been done since CitCon so you have to understand the frustration. We know that you are working on the game… But we would “really” like see that.”
“Curiousity here. Not hostility.
Can I ask why you have to show before you tell? That doesn’t really make sense to me. I have personally seen a lot of feedback on requests for telling us more about where 2.6 and 3.0 are in development.
I work in project management and when my team is late on delivering storyboards or late on a project in general (this can be date or not date focused, as a project manager, I can just gauge when it has been a while since a client has heard something) I give a list of what is keeping things back. Do you guys have a protocol for responding to the community until you have something to show? Again, for the love of god, I am just asking/curious.“
LATEST INSIDER SCOOPS
TheAgent (man on the inside looking at the abyss outside from the inside) is back with more insider scoops. Most of them echo what I said yesterday, but with more details (I tend to be vague in some regard, so as to protect sources).
here’s the problem
CIG has to push out a new patch before years end. this cannot be 2.6 (with FPS mechanics) or 3.0 or anything star marine related because its so fucking broken
- their current matchmaking breaks every damn thing on the server
- it also breaks your client when two people try and use cover at the same time
- half the time you still respawn inside your bunk during a match
- the new arena FPS maps are still buggy as hell (clipping, wall walking, etc) and have to get redone
- the replacement arena maps are areas that have been wholly lifted from current areas, like grimhex
- roberts doesn’t want “maps” but entire seamless areas (“Shoot in the same universe you can fly in.”)
- this is not so good for the servers or players in ships flying around outside the hostile zone (which is why the arena style maps are still being worked on)
- the team is confused on what exactly they are putting together and what roberts wants to release
- there’s a separate module for SM but roberts wants it folded into the universe
- lag is bad, really fucking bad, even with less than a dozen players
- the instance network code is six months to a year out for rudimentary matches (24 to 36 players, small arena type maps, etc)
- a year+ out for higher matches (multiple areas, surface to air combat, 50+ players etc)
- the much touted “local physics grids” don’t work for shit with FPS stuffs
they are discussing prepping the flight model changes and releasing that as 2.6 instead, with star marine being totally folded into 3.0. but this is a big problem, because chris said star marine is weeks away back in september
they are kinda fucked either way so I’m really interested to see what they do. if they really do end up pushing out 2.6 with star marine in its current state, I don’t think the game will survive. its like, not playable. you can only wave your hands around and say alpha so many times before people start figuring out this is the game they just paid $2500 to play
current standing at the office is there will be no more numbered releases until 3.0 in late 2017/2018, after the sq42 prelude/episode 1 is released. I posted that awhile back but it’s looking more and more like 2.5 will be the last patch for SC for quite awhileNovember 13, 2016 at 5:22 pm #4829
Yesterday, this cryptic thread about a new INN site popped up on Reddit. Speculation was that they were just moving hosts – or something. Then today, Wolf Larsen, who I outed in an article (The INN Conspiracy) about INN months ago, create a page that there was a foiled coup d’etat. Then a follow-up thread popped up on Reddit shortly after.
Not sure how this is a coup, but apparently the four guys who used to post – highly questionable content – on the site, decided to split, with everything, leaving only Jake (who wasn’t active on the site anyway), the owner.
The exchange below from one of the primaries (Erris) indicates that Jake is on his own once again. So the fifty people who actually read the site, are probably giving a collective yawn. I am asking around, but this all probably went down because Erris and co found out that Jake, being paid by CIG, was probably stifling what the guys could or couldn’t write about. And given the current actions by CIG, and which has the community up in flames, it makes sense that no matter how much of a shill the INN guys are, they know that before long, they’re all going to be left with a lot of explaining to do, so they probably want the autonomy to get in front of it. You know, much like how even the most dedicated shills, the latest (Twerk17 had his share couple of weeks ago) being WTFO (1, 2, 3, 4), are currently having spectacular meltdowns.
This INN drama has been fermenting and going on for quite sometime now, and long before I wrote the blog. In fact, at some point last year someone at INN was calling Jake out a year ago. The person claimed that the r/star citizen/ sub-reddit was controlled by INN. Subsequently, one of the mods, /u/dolvak, who worked for INN, stepped down as mod, then deleted his entire comment history. So seeing as CIG was funding Jake’s INN, it stands to reason then that CIG was in control of the sub-reddit, which is possibly a violation of the Reddit rules.
The whole INN thing has been murky from the start; which is why I investigated it and wrote the blog. In fact, this image shows all the changes they made to the ownership section of the site in May 2016 following my INN conspiracy blog.
UPDATE: Erris, the believed leader of the coup d’etat has issued an a statement. Also, earlier this evening on Discord, I asked Erris (the more prominent member of the INN group) whether or not he was aware that Jake DiMare (aka Wolf Larsen) had in fact received funding from CIG (something that various sources have told us). His response is below.
TheAgent (the premier Star Citizen insider info leaker), weighed in:
here’s what I can 100% confirm (and they are lying if they tell you different):
– INN/Redacted receives money from CIG both directly and indirectly
– this includes gifted ships and donations
– several members of INN and Redacted have given away these ships for events or to increase subscriptions to their channels
– members have also, directly or through 3rd parties, sold CIG gifted ships on the grey market for cash
When all is said and done, it appears as if while Jake was being paid by CIG, he wasn’t paying the guys like Erris who were working on the site, creating content, engaging the community etc. Heck, as of this writing, Jake hasn’t even logged into his RSI account since June 2016.
However, now that Erris is saying that they never received any funding from CIG, though he doesn’t know about Jake, it appears that someone is lying. This image below of a discussion shows a QA session with Erris back in January and again yesterday. On Jan 8, 2016, he says “No-one at INN works for CIG in any capacity“. Now on Nov 13, 2016, he says “We don’t know. I never was. Wolf has (per the whole issue here) not been very open, ever”November 15, 2016 at 9:46 am #4854
THE E.L.E MOVING AHEAD FULL STEAM
The recent INN coup is even more poignant as the community is currently up in flames over the fact that not only is the long-awaited 2.6 patch not out yet, but 3.0 – as I predicted – was just lies (again) by Chris Roberts, and is neither a “thing”, let alone being released this year as promised at both GamesCom and CitizenCon.
To make matters worse, just a few days ago, instead of showing progress on the game, they announced yet another JPEG (!) concept ship sale, the long promised Prowler, at the ridiculous price of $425; even though the furor over the recent Hornet ship sale hasn’t even died down yet.
I have no idea why these backers are now all of a sudden acting as if ANY of this is new. Regardless of what I’ve said in my blogs, posts etc, the warning signs were there all along.
See the thing is that for a long time we’ve all been saying that betting on SQ42 is what’s going to be the last straw. Most whales didn’t back for SQ42, which basically was just a peripheral project. Then, because he figured out that he could make a movie, Chris and Sandi decided to use it to buy their way back into Hollywood, even as they squandered away millions on it.
“I am concerned that our money has gone into building a corporate empire, rather than a game – backer on Reddit“
Engine issues aside, seeing as the tech can’t even run a single-player game – which should be shocking enough. When I wrote this missive ahead of CitizenCon about the engine, the fact that the event was just going to be more smoke & mirrors, the hardcore backers laughed, and some skeptics just discarded it. Well, as we came to find out, that’s precisely what happened: smoke & mirrors. And CIG themselves helped prove and confirm it with their “Road To CitizenCon” post-event video. Every backer – right now – should be asking themselves why they still have nothing show of SQ42, if they were claiming that they wanted to show it at CitizenCon, but that it wasn’t ready. It’s been a month already.
In my latest blog, Shattered Dreams, I again said that if they were having engine difficulties, that it’s bound to also affect SQ42. In fact, I said:
“While others have taken it apart, 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.”
So it stands to reason that if they can’t even get 2.6 out this year as promised, let alone 3.0 (<—- lmao, I called that one the minute he uttered it), that they’re having some very serious technical issues. I don’t even think that anything less than a playble 2.6/3.0 or SQ42 in a live stream, is going to quash dissent. They’re at the cusp now whereby the skepticism is at an all time high and nothing short of tangible delivery is going to curb it. These posts (1, 2) below from the “We didnt fund a company – we funded a game. Remember the pledge” thread is an example of where things are now.
When all is said and done, despite what some fringe think of me, I have made a career out of developing massive games. I have extensive knowledge in all forms of game design & engineering. Which is why once back in the Summer of 2015 I saw that Vision 2.0 was now the end goal, I realized that the project was FUBAR because they simply couldn’t do it with that base line engine. Not to mention the fact that they don’t have ANYONE in the team who has ANY experience building MASSIVE games; let alone MASSIVE SPACE GAMES WITH FPS.
When I was calling for financial accountability, some backers kept giving them money, even as Chris Roberts continued to lie, and make false promises. The fact is that it is 100% illegal for a company to make false statements and warranties, in order to convince the public buy their products. There is absolutely no getting around this.
This is no longer about a game, it’s all about money now; and has amounted to what many of us believe to have evolved into an outright scam. When this collapses – and I have every reason to believe that it will in the coming months – the ramifications are going to be unprecedented. All the signs are there already. As if there was any doubt, when that happens, I am going to make a new mission out of ensuring that ALL the leading execs (friends and family such as Chris & Erin Roberts, Chris’s wife, Sandi Gardiner, Nick & Simon Elms, Derek Senior) as well as the leading studio heads and devs (Tony Zurovec, Sean Tracy, Brian Chambers et al) answer to the authorities for what they’ve done. And I will continue to turn over any/all material that comes my way in the pursuit of this because I had swore that I would never let them get away with this. This whole thing has all the undertones of the Gizmondo collapse (I wrote about that here) which some of these people were previously involved in.
Back in April, I wrote the Extinction Level Event blog, and espoused that it was already in progress due what my sources were saying, what CIG itself was doing publicly etc. It’s only a matter of time now.November 17, 2016 at 10:58 am #4873
PSA: TO THE SHITIZENS PARKED ON REDDIT
So a thread on a sub-Reddit popped up about that time when Chris Roberts took 8hrs writing a diatribe about The Escapist article. An article which didn’t even mention me once; though Roberts decided to mention me 24 times, while blaming me for the “unfounded” dissent against the project.
A year later, that dissent is even louder. The hilarious part is that, to this day, as is normal for those clowns, they’re blaming me for The Escapist article – because Roberts said so. So I decided to give them a wakeup dose of reality; something they’re not very used to.
Easy claim to make. Especially since it’s patently false.
So please, by all means, post your evidence that shows I had any prior knowledge of, let alone gloating, about any such article before it was published.
And no, this nonsense you guys keep parroting as proof is just that, nonsense. My tweet was clearly referring to my original July 2015 blog, which was the first time anyone went on record and detailed why the project couldn’t be made. A small fact that most of you tend to ignore because it hurts your feelz. And since my blogs, then following The Escapist article, many other similar articles about the demise of the project, have been written. Heck, look no further than the most recent flurry of articles from Kotaku. I had a hand in those too, huh?
That aside from the fact that people – including the media – excerpt and quote things all the time; and has nothing to do with collusion or what you’re inferring. How did you think my original July 2015 blog in which I said they were lying and couldn’t build the game pitched, got picked up? Oh, that’s right. I went around to all the media outlets and asked them to read, let alone excerpt my blog.
You see, this is the problem you guys have, and aren’t willing to accept. YOU are the reason for where we are today. You’ve elevated me to a position that, never in my wildest dreams did I ever ever aspire to be in with this whole Star Citizen farce. And your penchant for waging an Internet war of attrition across the Internet has only served to magnify the problem, while showing off the Star Citizen community as a toxic cesspool of malcontent. I didn’t do that. You did.
And even though the Derek Smart Was Right movement is moving ahead full steam, having proven beyond any/all reasonable doubt that I was RIGHT about them never – ever – being able to build the game pitched, this hate-Red will be here as a reminder that the harassment & attack campaign were all for naught.
You think the growing dissent is loud now? Wait and see what comes next. I’m not even going to say anything further about that because I think the conclusion needs to be shocking for it to have any effect.
You’re all in denial. Attacking & harassing me and other dissenting opinions has proven to have zero effect in the general scheme of things. It hasn’t made Star Citizen:
- a “game”
- less of a scam
- less of a frantic cash grab
- a project that looks like it will ever be a “game”
Instead, the dissent has grown louder, the project has failed harder, it is the laughing stock of the ENTIRE gaming industry, people are rushing to get refunds etc. Even as CIG/RSI continue to beg backers to reconsider refunds; which btw is hilarious, when you consider that croberts had stated in past that if funding stopped, they had reserves to finish the game. Just one in a string of blatant lies he has told in order to keep milking gullible backers.
And hardly anyone is even playing the tech demo now; and even the popular streamers are now having frequent meltdowns – live on camera.
All you guys have done is made a group of friends and family in exec level positions, rich. And some of you even agreed to a ToS change that says they neither have to provide the financial accountability promised nor the games promised!! And that’s just hilarious AF.
I didn’t do ANY of the above. You the toxic backers aided CIG/RSI to turn the project into what many of us now believe has evolved into an epic SCAM.
ps: Go ahead and down vote; it won’t stop the signal because that’s louder than your exclusive toxic hug box.November 20, 2016 at 11:20 am #4905
THE SHITIZEN SCAMMER
We know that all gaming communities have their share of toxic anti-social nutjobs, scammers etc. In fact, the average Shitizen (toxic Star Citizen fans waging an Internet war of attrition against dissent toward the project) is all of those things – and then some. I have written a number of blog and forum articles about them 0ver the years, and it just keeps getting better and funnier. So it should come as no surprise that recently the person we once thought was your garden variety citizen, turned out to be a scammer running a variety of cons in various MMO gaming communities. Heck, there’s a Shitizen (Fuzzy Modem, who is also now banned on SA), an alleged pedophile, sitting in jail right now.
It all started with this thread on the Star Citizen forum started by one Deloria who was originally thought to be an 18 yr old Norwegian girl who backed the project when “she” was aged 14. At first, this person was only notable for the thread because shockingly it was neither deleted nor moved by CIG. If you scroll down to other posts here, you will see the posts about the growing dissent since CitizenCon. Well, after I tweeted that link, apparently Deloria got wind of it; then showed up on the SA (Goon enclave) forum – where we found out “she” had been banned since 2013.
Even with the paywall ($10 to read the site), we get all kinds of stragglers over at SA, and we tend not to pay too much attention to them; only regarding them as lol fodder for the most part. But Deloria decided that she was now famous, seeing as not only had I tweeted and written about her forum thread, but also it was being discussed on the SA forum. What followed was the most hilarious case of self-own in recent memory.
At first Goons were basically telling “her” to get a refund, that a “girl” spending $6K (which she said was her Confirmation gift from family) on a game that doesn’t look like it was ever seeing the light of day, was a bad idea etc. During all this time the “Curious case of Deloria” generated over 400+ posts. At some point, a pattern appeared to form, and it caught my autistic attention. So I decided to run with it. In the end, I found out that “she” was a middle aged dude, posing as a teenage girl. As soon as I mentioned that this person was a dude; some Goons decided to look into it.
In the end it was discovered that not only was Deloria a dude, but also had been running various scams across several MMO gaming communities. So with all the background material collected, I made a single effort post about it. Deloria stopped posting; and shortly after, asked a mod on the Star Citizen forum to close their original thread. It gets better. He also reported the post I had made on SA, as doxing (hint: it’s not). That last part is as hilarious as it sounds; seeing as these clowns tend to use that word as they see fit, even as they scam their way across the Internet. If posting publicly accessible social media pages is doxing, well I’m guessing that all the websites, including mainstream media sites such as Ars Technica, Gizmodo etc which tend to do expose articles with relevant links, are all guilty of doxing. It’s bullshit really. This was basically exposing a scammer. Period. End of story.
Anyway, below is the post that I made in its entirety, and as was originally written on SA. Enjoy.
NOTE: Deloria was subsequently banned on the SA forum. Again.
Once they get busted and outed, they are always quick to pull out the “harassment” and “doxing” card. It’s the oldest – and dumbest – game in the play book.
No, you’re a scam artist who got busted the minute you decided to come back to SA and mouth off.
This is all public, and most of it backtraced to what you posted. So if you even utter the word doxing, you’re getting temp-banned – again.
After comparing to the previous Mann Facebook page – which freaked you out and you started sending out frantic PMs here – the question is: did a middle aged (approx 35 yrs old) man have a 14 yr old GF in 2013, or are you (Mann) all these alt accounts?
And from your very own post here on SA, there’s that “Mann” surname again.
Here is where it gets even better…
This article was interesting though.
You’re a scammer that’s been lurking in various MMO gaming communities such as Star Citizen, Black Desert Online, Archeage, Shroud Of The Avatar, TERA, Crowfall, Elder Scrolls Online obtaining money and items while posing as an Norwegian girl.
There’s more – a lot more – but posting those will definitely be within the realms of doxing. Which is why I called you out as being a dude* the minute you showed up here; and others took up the mantle to look into it.
Bear in mind that roleplaying with an online persona is perfectly OK. What’s not OK is using that to scam others. As far as your history shows, you’ve tried to raise $10K twice (once with a calendar for which you got over $1k). Not to mention all the other gifts you’ve got from those gaming communities. That’s not different from a garden variety 419 scam.
* I have extensive AI experience; so pattern recognition is something that my brain is wired for. Your post patterns, sentence composition, context connectivity, and word usage, were a dead giveaway. The more you posted, the more obvious it became that you were a dude.December 13, 2016 at 4:57 pm #5064
STAR CITIZEN UK FINANCIALS
Seeing as five years and over $138 million later they have yet to ship either of the promised games, all eyes are on the Star Citizen project financials. Especially given the recent fundraising shenanigans (1, 2) that CIG has been up to of late. The US corporations are private entities, so they are not required to file financials. Those financials are only shared with investors, banks and similar parties. Backers of the project were once promised access to those financials if CIG failed to deliver the project within the allotted time. So far, aside from the fact that CIG have since rescinded that offer in the June 2016 ToS change, no backer has challenged them to produce the financials. I have written before that the state of their financials represents the smoking gun as it pertains to their ability to complete and deliver the project as promised.
In the UK, where there are three (!) corporate entities, they are required to file public financials for the preceding year, by Sept 30th. Back on Sept 26th, F42 (UK), the entity with the liabilities, and which is tasked with making the game (as the developer), filed their accounting. It was pretty uneventful. The other two corporate entities, CIG (UK) which now owns 100% (1, 2) of both F42 (UK) and RSI (UK), as well as F42 (GER) didn’t file. Yesterday, RSI (UK) filed their accounting; leaving only the parent company, CIG (UK) which is currently late in filing.
I had written back in my July 2016 blog about what appears to be the execs cashing out and selling back their shares to the parent company, thus taking out wealth from the company.
“There are so many holes in this whole thing that the minute I even make public everything I know, I would no doubt have pretty much impeded on-going investigations. So we wait. But while we’re waiting, here’s a nugget. Please ask them if it’s true that: after they founded a studio (Foundry42-UK) to help develop this game, and Chris pulled in his brother and childhood friends in from another company to head it, that less than two years later, another subsidiary (associated with the project) then turned around and bought the company back from those very people. Thus taking out a significant amount of wealth out of the project and putting it into the pockets of those very friends and family. While still paying his brother Erin, what amounts to almost $250K in yearly salary; not including benefits or bonuses – which aren’t disclosed. Aside from this being reported to be almost 3x what he was making at his previous company, it’s also 2x the average for a director in the Manchester region. And in case you forgot, this is a crowd-funded project.”
In 2015, according to the funding chart (which is 100% inaccurate), the project raised approximately $35.9 million. That’s not taking into account refunds, investor amounts, bank loans etc. The RSI (UK) filing clearly shows that they are playing a financial shell game with the funding that’s going into the project. Arguably one would do this sort of thing not only for tax and liability reasons, but also as way to mask accounting anomalies and irregularities, while also inflating the value of the associated entities.
Also it should be noted that not only is RSI (UK) operating at a loss (!), but also F42 (UK) – the developer – is holding a secured loan note with NatWest bank. And they blew through almost $20 million in 2015 alone. Can’t wait to see the 2016 numbers.
Someone made a handy chart showing how the money reported in this filing, has moved around.
When the parent entity, CIG (UK), files its accounting, we should have a much clearer picture of how the money – up to 2015 – flowed to the UK entities. It won’t tell us anything about the F42 GER financials, nor the financials for the two US studios. And when you think about it, the fact that backers have no insight into the financials – something they were promised – it’s going to be very interesting to see how those very people who are saying “it doesn’t matter“, react when the dust settles.
List of Star Citizen related corporate entities
- Cloud Imperium Games Corp, West Hollywood, CA
- Cloud Imperium Games LLC, West Hollywood, CA
- Cloud Imperium Services, LLC West Hollywood, CA <– The one is interesting. It is found on BBB, but is not in the CA Secretary Of State dB records
- Cloud Imperium Games LLC, Santa Monica, CA
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC, West Hollywood, CA
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC, Austin, TX
- Cloud Imperium Games UK Limited, UK
- Foundry 42 Limited, UK
- Foundry 42, Germany
- Gemini 42 Entertainment LLC, West Hollywood, CA
- Gemini 42 Productions LLC, Santa Monica, CA
- Roberts Space Industries Corp, West Hollywood, CA
- Roberts Space Industries International Limited, UK
- Twin Brothers Production Inc, West Hollywood, CA
- Twin Bros, Germany
I am still of the belief that the project is on the verge of collapse; and the recent desperate cash grab plays into that. What is unclear is what form that collapse will take, how they will handle the wind down (e.g. from 4 studios and 350+ people), and whether or not the project will continue in some fashion following the downsizing. As of Nov 2016, they had 363 employees working at the four studios. That does not include the many contractors at third-party studios which are also working on the project. Though several (including no less than three high profile positions) have left since the chart below was shown by Chris Roberts; and many more are rumored to be on the way out.
Seeing as F42 (UK) and F42 (GER) are primarily tasked with tech and Squadron 42 (the single-player game) development, it stands to reason that the two US studios are likely to suffer the most casualties; especially since nobody with half a brain really thinks Star Citizen is ever going to see the light of day.
THE END OF YEAR FIVE
Back when I said that neither Star Citizen nor Squadron 42 was going to be released in 2016; I faced quite a bit of derision and attacks. You know, all the standard things I’ve been dealing with since I got involved in this farce last Summer. Then came the August GamesCom event (I wrote about that here) in which even more lofty promises were made; topped only by even more lofty promises in the Nov CitizenCon event, and the subsequent anniversary event. The key takeaway from all those three Q4/16 events is that CIG created proof-of-concept tech demos, passed them off as being in the game, while promoting the sales of ship assets which aren’t likely to ever see the light of day. All designed to do one single thing: raise money based on LIES.
The most egregious affront to backers, has to be the promise that 3.0 patch, which included elements shown in all of the above streams, was imminent. Heck, they even went on record, while creating an entire “Road To CitizenCon” video, telling backers that a demo/preview of Squadron 42 was imminent, but that they ran out of time to polish it. Now, with the year ending, not even the much delayed 2.6 patch has been released to backers, let alone anything of Squadron 42. And you know what, I already raised the alarm on ALL of this months ago, and again quite recently (1, 2, 3).
This is what was promised in 2.6, which is already over six months late. They have yet to deliver it, even as they continue to shift the schedule.
And this is what was promised in 3.0 for end of 2016 release.
And even as I type this, there are backers who are vehemently denying that Chris Roberts ever promised 3.0 by year end. Despite his own word salad to that effect.
“..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.”
Note that back when I said the schedule was released in order to appease irate backers, and that it was inconsequential, again, I got attacked for it. But here’s the thing: since they first released it, they’ve missed every single milestone contained within. So it’s no different if they didn’t release it, since backers should just as well ignore it. And they keep making suspicious changes (1, 2) to the schedule page itself.
When I wrote the Star Citizen – E.L.E. blog back in April, and pointed out specifically why I believed that the project was inexplicably doomed, that neither of the two games was going to see a 2016 release, some backers waved it out of hand, while others decided to heed the warning and go for refunds (you can read the resulting fiasco in my Star Citizen – Refund Debacle blog from July). Since then, hardly anything has changed that would serve to change that opinion. Heck, this year, all they’ve released have been bug fixes to the 2.0x kernel, an in-game shop for buying pants, some flyable ships, and one new base (GrimHex). That’s it. All year. And, despite the dispute regarding the accuracy of the funding chart, they appear to be on track to raise over $35 million in 2016. In a year where they are on track to raise half of all the money that all of crowd-funding did.
As for Squadron 42, if they ever release any version (demo, prelude, episode 1 or whatever) of it, and it’s not stellar, they’re screwed because seeing as it’s built on the same engine components, it is going to automatically affect the larger Star Citizen game. But that won’t matter, seeing as they have already been paid in advance.
At end of the day, it’s all been a pack of lies, and what I believe to be protracted efforts to mislead backers at every turn. Which, when you think about it, makes sense that they would revise the ToS in order to not only reduce their liability, but also rescind whatever leverage backers have in terms of financial accountability.
At this point in time, what’s going to be interesting is just how those very same toxic backers who are attacking dissenting opinions, will react when they get wind of what is currently playing out behind closed doors. But that’s why we have the legal system, as well as State and Federal agencies who pay attention to things like this.
You all had ample warning. Now you get to bear the consequences.December 21, 2016 at 10:04 am #5096
Today’s Star Citizen leaks courtesy of TheAgent. Some I already knew and tweeted about.
- 2017 is now looking like the last full operational year for CIG (*from the perspective of 2 people who recently left)
- several office/staff moves (including the Brno move, disco lando, ben, etc) are still planned
- roberts joked at one point “the cheap labor must flow”
- the “must deliver” deadline is still march/q1 of 2017 for the sqlude
- might be much less than what was planned to be released (think less than an hour of story content, highly repetitive missions to pad playtime, grind, etc)
- sqlude will include the new footage shot earlier this year of hamill
- direction/management are being shuffled around, some people with no experience are now in charge of dozens of employees
- several employees and execs are now gone, including cashing out on promised bonuses or other monies when they left
- “If [we] didn’t have money in the tank for refunds, delay. Delay, delay, delay. Promise, then delay. That was standard, yes.”
- had to cut one or several major characters from SQ42
- additional mocap is required “to have the story make any sense” thanks to “constant” changes to the script
- entire maps, levels, mocap, VA, music and SFX have been thrown out, reworked and thrown out again
- what was promised for 2.6, especially networking, won’t be in until late Jan/Feb 2017 at the earliest (maybe midyear)
- 3.0 networking is a massive, complete mess and won’t be anywhere ready for 2017
- “They are walking the design back on a massive scale. Try and get a refund.”
- ^ moma that one is for you because the guy who said it, lol, just lol
- crunch time has continued now for over six months, some people over a year
“if you’re in this project for anything over $40, get a refund. get a refund like now. after 2.6 releases to the PU you’re going to have a hard damn time getting anything back unless you pledged for the SQ42 package only“January 12, 2017 at 7:00 am #5174
STAR CITIZEN – EARLY 2017 UPDATE
The year has barely started, but the clowns over at CIG/RSI are making waves again, even as they come up with new and inventive ways to piss off their backers who have so far given them $141 million to make a pair of games (neither of which is even near completion). So, let’s see where we are barely two weeks into the New Year.
THE LUMBERYARD NON-SWITCH
You probably know by now, as I wrote in my last blog, Irreconcilable Differences, that after several months of delays, they finally rushed out the 2.6 patch in late December. Not only has it been confirmed that in 2.6 the switch was basically restricted to their use of Lumberyard’s abstracted access to EC2, hence the need for displaying the logo, but also that aside from some network performance improvements due to the switch from Google Compute to Amazon EC2 cloud servers, it had zero impact on the game. Same game. Same custom engine. Same bugs. Same performance & networking issues. Which pretty much explains why they didn’t even bother mentioning that – for almost a year – they were considering this switch, but never once mentioned it to the backers.
As one joker put it: “The development is so transparent and open, that you can’t even see it.”
STAR MARINE. TOO LITTLE. TOO LATE.
Some backers were rejoicing that – after four years of promoting it – CIG managed to release a stand-alone fps game module built with an engine designed specifically for fps games. The end result? It’s generic, lackluster, buggy (hey pre-Alpha!), and uninspiring in every way. Needless to say, this one won’t be saving PC gaming any time soon. And if you believed Chris Roberts – even for a second – when he said that “it would be more lethal than Call Of Duty“, congrats; you’re a fool.
Basically, this was just them ticking off another check mark in the list of documented promises, and which joins the hangar, Arena Commander, and persistent universe modules in their mediocrity (at least for a $141 million project). And if those other modules are anything to go by, this first release will also lack any meaningful content and updates for quite some time.
Case in point, people are already using hacks to cheat. For a game that is in pre-alpha, you would think that these reports would be useful to CIG in order that they be identified and fixed. But no, that’s too easy and logical. So instead, they’re threatening to ban accounts. For cheating in a pre-alpha game. Yeah.
And speaking of Arena Commander – which first appeared in 2014 – after all this time, not only do they still not have a plausible flight module, but in 2.6 they somehow managed to make it worse; if you can imagine that.
SQUADRON 42. STILL MIA
This single-player version of the game, and which was to tie into the larger Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe), is still a no-show; and all bets about it even being released in 2017, are off. In fact, in a recent issue of German magazine, Der Spiegel, Chris was quoted as saying that it would “probably be finished in 2017“.
Rumors have been swirling for months that not only is that module itself in serious trouble, but that it doesn’t even exist as a cohesive game. Just think, it was supposed to be coming in 2014, then 2015, then for real, in 2016. But so far, aside from the godawful Morrow Tour video from CitizenCon 2015, nothing of it has been shown. Not even a trailer or a demo.
After seeing the likes of the recently released Call Of Duty Infinite Warfare and the upcoming Mass Effect Andromeda, anything less than a spectacular showing of SQ42 – the game that Chris mostly cares about – will be devastating. But let’s not ignore the fact that Chris had gone on the record and stated that they had a demo “ready to go” for CitizenCon 2016, but they opted not to release it due to time constraints. I wrote about that in my Shattered Dreams blog.
Other rumors say that only a prelude (aka demo) – not the full Episode 1 – will be released sometime in Q1/17. Seriously, we can’t wait. Though with some top level team members (e.g. Tom Johnson, Todd Pappy) on that project rumored to have either left or on their way out, one has to wonder how far along that module is at this point.
A recent rumor that’s been floating around also suggests that SQ42 will probably no longer exist as a separate game as previously planned. Instead, the missions will be rolled into Star Citizen, thus making it just another game mode like Arena Commander and Star Marine. Yeah, it’s hilarious. Especially when you consider that they split it into a separate product earlier this year; no doubt in order to maximize sales, as well as spin it off as its own title; thus justifying a console port, as well as DLC (episodic content etc).
To be honest, as a developer, and given the structure of the what they’ve built so far, I think making it a game mode and accessible via the Star Citizen menu, is probably a good call. Though it is mission based single-player, but originally billed to support co-op (which requires networking support), it makes sense. In fact, doing that could also enable them to bring back co-op play. But that would require revisions to the missions of course. And if nothing else, it would be consistent with the other game modules (hangar, persistent universe, star marine, arena commander).
None of this matters anyway. Now that they are switching to Lumberyard – five years into development – they have bigger problems to worry about.
THE DEV SCHEDULE
Back in Dec, following the disastrous CitizenCon 2016 and anniversary community events, they released a dev schedule. Most of us – after we finished laughing – remained skeptical, seeing as we already knew that they did that only to boost backer confidence in the name of “open development”. Of course, aside from the fact that the schedule was just rubbish, they missed every single deadline contained within. Finally rushing to release a broken 2.6 patch, of which various promised items were removed. Which begs the question. Why bother? They are already notorious for missing deadlines; so how does releasing a schedule in which they continue that trend, change anything? It doesn’t. They only did it due to the backer uprising.
So here we are, week two of the New Year, and the first problem (shocker) was just made public via the latest communication to backers from Chris. They’re now talking about delivering 3.0 (aka The Jesus Patch) in 2017. The same 3.0 that Chris, according to these slides, said would be released before Dec 19th, 2016. No talk of 4.0 coming in 2017 now. The Reddit thread that popped out around it, contains the usual hilarity.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="726"] Star Citizen 01/06/17 newsletter[/caption]
FOR SALE, ONE BARELY FUNCTIONAL FLAMETHROWER
Quite a number of backers continue requesting and getting refunds. Some have made it public, while others are doing it quietly in order to stay out of the on-going fray. Even the hardcore backers who were once convinced that I was wrong about all this, that my sole purpose was to kill (yeah, hilarious, I know) the project etc are getting refunds. In the last 24 hrs, two made public that they had requested a refund. In fact, when this hardcore backer posted that he put in for a refund, he got attacked; prompting another backer ($7.2K) to put in for his refund.
CIG have in fact been granting refunds – as indeed they should – or face the wrath of State and Fed officials who are long aware of what’s going on with the project. However, in the New Year, there have been some reports of refunds being rejected. We’re still looking into it; but it appears as if either they’ve stopped doing refunds in 2017, thus only doing those who filed before the end of 2016, or they’re enforcing the 2016 ToS refund criteria now.
They’re rumored to be quite low on funds (it’s expensive to fund 4 studios and almost 400 people around the globe), so we already expected this to start happening eventually. With this much money at stake, all things considered, CIG is basically robbing Peter (new backers) to pay Paul (refunds). Which is how a Ponzi scheme collapses once the amount of money needed to give to Paul, exceeds what was taken from Peter – and spent.
If after all these months of being warned you didn’t get a refund, well, you only have yourself to blame.
Across the web, and on the official forums, many a heated thread has either been closed or flat-out deleted. A lot of the hardcore backers, already fed up with what is going on, are voicing dissent on a daily basis; even as they face incessant attacks from the anti-social Shitizens (the backers who are waging an Internet war of attrition against dissent).
And even long-time backers are facing attacks and ridicule for even questioning what is going on. This thread popped on Reddit after a long time original backer ($8K vested!) was censored on the CIG forums for basically doing nothing wrong. So he got even and put in for a refund.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in the past 24 hours, yet another original (2012) backer, Badger, a Golden ticket holder and the second or third oldest documented backer, also faced similar derision. Get this. A CIG staffer even threatened to close his account if he leaked the plot to Star Wars Rogue One movie. Yes, something that has nothing to do with Star Citizen.
If you have been following my Star Citizen writings, then you should know that this won’t be the first time that CIG have taken action against a backer for something said outside of CIG forums. There was a media article about it as well. Anyway, the backer wrote an entire missive about it up on Google Docs; which he then posted in this Reddit thread. Well, go look and see what happened next.
Basically, the backers – who just wanted a game they paid for and who are now seeking accountability, while voicing their dissent, are in an all-out war with Shitizens (who are fighting a proxy war for CIG), and even CIG community staffers.
Aside from the wars going on in the backer community, CIG has also been scaling back on community activities. Last year they canceled the popular 10 For The Chairman programming (in which Chris answered questions from subscribers and backers), while scaling back on a number of other broadcasts. This new year has now seen the cancellation of the Reverse The Verse (weekly updates from the community teams) programming as well. And – get this – that has now been replaced with a Happy Hour broadcast in which CIG community members get to play the game on a stream. No, I’m not making that up.
SHOW ME THE MONEY!
Having failed to deliver the games promised and within the 18 month grace period following the Nov 2014 promised date, CIG have not only failed to release financials to backers as promised, but they also changed the ToS in June 2016, removing that requirement for new backers completely. That single action alone sparked a refund cascade, and which I wrote about extensively in my Refund Debacle blog. Since that time, seeing as the UK laws, unlike US laws, require companies to make their financials public, we’ve been paying close attention to the money being funneled into the UK from the US.
After being late (like the other two entities) and paying fines each year, for whatever reason, CIG (UK) have recently filed their 2015 financials. Basically, CIG (UK) costs £15m (approx $18m) a year; which is almost 50% of the $35.9m raised in 2015. These financials are evidence as to why they need to keep raising money. Think about it. If this single studio cost this much to run in 2015; how were they planning to build a game for $65m, let alone $15m as they were saying merely two years ago?
And my guess is that this funding amount is going to probably be higher in 2016 due to the increased head count as shown in this slide during CitizenCon 2016 this past Oct.
Remember, for some reason, there are 3 (!) UK companies for this single project. Seriously. CIG (UK), RSI (UK), F42 (UK).
1) Cloud Imperium Games Corp, West Hollywood, CA
2) Cloud Imperium Games LLC, West Hollywood, CA
3) Cloud Imperium Services, LLC West Hollywood, CA <– The one is interesting. It is found on BBB, but is not in the CA Secretary Of State dB records
4) Cloud Imperium Games LLC, Santa Monica, CA
5) Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC, West Hollywood, CA
6) Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC, Austin, TX
7) Cloud Imperium Games UK Limited, UK
8) Foundry 42 Limited, UK
9) Foundry 42, Germany
10) Gemini 42 Entertainment LLC, West Hollywood, CA
11) Gemini 42 Productions LLC, Santa Monica, CA
12) Roberts Space Industries Corp, West Hollywood, CA
13) Roberts Space Industries International Limited, UK
14) Twin Brothers Production Inc, West Hollywood, CA
15) Twin Bros, Germany
The money flow for 2014-2015:
Also, similar to how some States here in the US give tax breaks and financial assistance to some companies (see the 38 Studios debacle) depending on investment, jobs etc, we’ve been trying to find out how much financial or tax breaks CIG received from the UK; specifically the city of Manchester. This is something that some of the local businesses are also trying to find out, amid rumors that CIG may have sucked up most of it. To that end, when we came across the 2016 Science & Innovation Audit report from Manchester, which listed CIG as having a £1 billion turnover, we immediately jumped on it seeing as we knew it to be factually incorrect. In fact, given their yearly fund-raising, not taking into account bank loans (e.g. the NatWest loan in the UK), and investor money, the entity is barely a $35 million company. Assuming you go with gross revenue and not P&L.
Manchester wrote back to confirm that it was in fact an error.
But they also indicated that the US parent company had a £150 million turnover. We have no freaking clue where they got those numbers from either; so another query has been sent to them. We’re just hoping that whatever it is they filed with the UK officials, is accurate, because when the final end game starts to play out in the coming months, this is the sort of data that’s going to be crucial to following the money and finding out how they could possibly have raised – and blown through over $141 million (not including loans and investments) in five years – and never shipping any of the games promised.
update 01/12/17: A response was received regarding the £150 million turnover amount. So basically they were just publishing data straight from CIG/F42 – with zero vetting.
THE ROAD AHEAD
If rumors and insider leaks are to be believed, not only are they now facing the prospects of doing layoffs (so far, we’re tracking over 20 people having departed in the past weeks) in order to curb spending, but even with SQ42 now a “maybe” for 2017, without additional funding or curbing their spending, not only do they stand a very slim chance of delivering on even 25% of what was promised, but they stand zero chance of delivering 100% of what was promised by Q4/2020. Back in July 2015, in my first blog, Interstellar Citizens, I opined that they simply couldn’t make the ultra ambitious game Chris pitched. And I further went on to say that even if they had the tech and the talent, they’d need $150m minimum to do it. That was at $85m. Clearly they neither have the tech, nor the talent; and even with $141m and five years in, by all accounts, they simply can’t build that game.
At this point, short of money laundering and similar shenanigans, anyone giving them money, knowing that they have zero incentive to complete, let alone ship the games promised, deserves to lose it. Enough is enough. And those backers fighting a proxy Internet war of attrition against dissent, are doing more to taint and tarnish the project and its community, than they can imagine. Even so, for those guys, no matter how this ends, the worst thing to them isn’t that Chris Roberts was wrong; it’s that Derek Smart was right.
How did I get involved in this on-going farce? I’m glad you asked. It’s hilarious; and the sort of dumb thing that only someone like Chris Roberts would do.March 15, 2017 at 11:26 am #5224
IS AMAZON THE NEW STAR CITIZEN PUBLISHER?
So TheAgent is back with some info that even I find it very hard to believe, let alone absorb. I have reached out to my own sources for some confirmation. Will report back when I hear more.
“so amazon is 100% their publisher now
welcome to the jungle, motherfuckers
I know everyone has said, no no, Lumberyard is free or whatever
but they just got a huge cash injection and programmers and support from amazon
so there you go
all severs are free. new patcher by amazon. new devs from amazon. new higher up execs are all amazon. no more dreams. mvp early 2018.
and they just tossed all the dead weight devs. goodbye, tony z
expect to see amazon partnerships everywhere this year, like the AMD days of old
btw according to rumors amazon is going to take a loss of $700m over 3 years in their games division in order to make it a viable product going forward“
Basically, if true, then the circle is complete, and this is the Freelancer (1, 2) debacle all over again, and which happened mere years after Microsoft bought Digital Anvil and booted Chris Roberts off the project.
I have to wonder how on Earth any publisher – let alone Amazon – would look at the state and notoriety of this project, let alone the largely toxic community, and find it to be a good investment.
For one thing, very few devs are using LumberYard; not because it’s a bad engine mind you, but because, well, UE4 and Unity5 are so far ahead, it’s not even funny. Plus, regardless of all the wonderful (they really knocked it out of the park, when compared to what they originally pulled from CryTek) things they’ve done with it, LumberYard at its core, is still based on CryEngine 3.x which very few devs actually used; when compared to other offerings.
Not to mention the HUGE liability Amazon would be saddled with, nor the inevitable lawsuits (from either whales or State and/or Fed officials) and backer backlash they are going to be facing when the final chips fall and the game promised, and for which they have received over $145m to date, isn’t delivered.
It beggars belief. But this is the videogame industry; it’s not supposed to make any sense.
In my Irreconcilable Differences blog from Dec 2016, I wrote about how I thought it makes sense that CIG switched to LumberYard. At the time, from what we could tell from the 2.6.0 build (which first had the LumberYard logo), and sources, they hadn’t actually switched at all; other than the move from Google Compute Engine to AWS. The current 2.6.1 build still doesn’t have any evidence (if you have access to LumberYard and Star Citizen 2.6.x, and you know what to look for – go look and see) that they have in fact made a “switch” beyond that move from GCE to AWS.
Note that they never gave backers ANY forewarning about the LumberYard switch back in December 2016. This despite the fact that for most of 2016; they were already contemplating the switch. Which isn’t all that surprising, considering all the information they tend to either withhold from backers or communicate poorly.
To wit, in the past 24hrs, they have discontinued (1, 2) yet another aspect of the project which most backers have come to rely on for information about the project. Yes, they have now canned – without notice or forewarning – the monthly studio reports. These were detailed reports which, despite being mostly bullshit and inconsequential fluff, the backers could still use in their wet dreams about all the crap (none of which – six years later – has come to fruition mind you) they’re going to be doing in a largely vaporware game.
It’s hilarious that my first Star Citizen blog from July 2015, Interstellar Citizens, was written due to what I had read in an earlier monthly report and determined that they were i) fucked, and couldn’t deliver on what was promised ii) making shit up on the fly iii) lying to backers in order to continue raising funds
As I type this, there is still no public schedule for the much awaited 3.0 patch (which was really coming by Dec 19th 2016). At the time, I had said (1, 2) that it was pure bullshit, and that it didn’t even exist. It’s now March 2017 and the next 2.6.2 patch is supposedly coming around Mar 23rd. That’s basically the end of Q1/17. This despite Chris Roberts going on the record and saying that they share with backers the same internal schedule they use.
So taken at face value, the absence of a 3.0 schedule basically means that it doesn’t yet exist as a build; thus no schedule. Either that or they won’t share it because then backers are going to hold them to it. All of which makes sense, seeing as even when they started doing schedules in Dec 2016 in order to give backers even more false sense of security, they tend to remove items from the schedule without warning or notification. So basically, for all intent and purposes, despite what was promised in 3.0, they could very well take any patch higher than 2.6.2 and call it 3.0.
Back in late 2015 when this whole thing fell in my lap, and Chris decided to “face the devil and give it a face” by calling me out for writing a blog that went mainstream, I had taken legal action in which I asked them for three things. Their legal “come at me bro” response; was basically as worthless as the medium it was written on. I had asked for:
- Refunds for backers who asked for itThey resisted this until a brave backer, reading my blogs, decided to get State officials involved after they refused his refund. The end result basically proved what I had been saying all along that the ToS (which has been revised several times and skewed in favor of CIG) wouldn’t hold up to any legal scrutiny if backers were being refused refunds. I wrote about this in detail in my Star Citizen Refund Debacle blog. And just like that, compared to previous years, refunds were a thing.Not to mention this recent case brought by the CA District Attorney over the Lily drone crowd-funding fiasco. That case, like other State actions against crowd-funded projects, sets yet another standard and precedent for what I believe is coming down the line for Star Citizen if they continue along this path of non-delivery. It’s just too big to ignore.
“There’s also a slightly technical issue that forms a second front in the DA’s lawsuit: the fact that they went with an independent “pre-order” strategy rather than an established crowdfunded development site like Kickstarter. That makes Lily’s money qualify more on the side of internet sales than investment in an idea (something Kickstarter and its projects are always careful to explain), which exposed the company to certain consumer protection laws.“
- A schedule that backers can rely upon as an indicator for when they would get the games paid forThey refused to do this until Dec 2016 during a major backer backlash after they – again – missed the 2016 ship date for both Star Citizen and Squadron 42, then never gave any forewarning. Then, out of the Blue – without forewarning – there was a schedule. And it was largely bullshit because not only was it not even complete, let alone detailed, what they ended up releasing in 2.6.0 and 2.6.1 barely contained what was promised, but also contained a slew of things that weren’t even in the schedule to begin with. Which means that they were just sharing what they felt was enough to keep backers on a leash. The practice continues in the current 2.6.2 schedule.
- The promised financial accountability promised in the ToS which they used as a way to gain backer confidenceGiven the controversy surrounding the claims of monies $145 million to date raised (1, 2) for the project, not to mention the Red flags in the filings of the UK entities or the disparity in the funding chart (which doesn’t appear to take into account backer refunds, bank loans, and investor money), it is highly unlikely that outside of a lawsuit (whale backers, investors, State and/or Fed officials) that backers will ever get this financial accountability. And the arbitration clause in the ToS pretty much represents the first hurdle for whale backers because only investors, State and Fed officials can get around that, as they are not bound by the ToS.
So aside from the many rumors – and evidence – that the project is in trouble, whale backers ejecting like rats from a sinking ship etc, if Amazon has in fact taken on the liability and the role of “publisher” for this project, thus putting it under the purview of one of the Amazon Game Studios, to me, that’s the one move that’s going to cause the largest backer revolt yet. For one thing, as long as Chris Roberts isn’t in charge, any competent AGS lead producer will immediately have access to the game’s design and schedule, then see that i) what they’ve promised is all but a dream, and – as I’ve stated – simply cannot be built as promised ii) even if they chopped it up, scaled it down, and shipped both Star Citizen and Squadron 42, it likely won’t happen before 2020 – at best.
The flip side of Amazon (who is apparently doubling down) being the publisher is that they stand a very good chance of stripping away all the lofty promises, while attempting to ship a game they can deliver – even in an MVP form. Unlike Freelancer, it won’t be such an easy sell to backers who have paid upfront – and in some cases thousands of dollars – for a completely different game.
LumberYard needs a boost because it’s not widely adopted. But using it to sell AWS is a tough call because contrary to popular belief the AWS costs can be prohibitive – especially for multiplayer games. And when those games stop making enough money to pay for AWS, well, it’s sunset time. So in the case of Star Citizen, I just don’t see how AMZ buying or publishing this game makes sense. It’s a massive financial and PR liability. And if that were to happen, the end result is that those acting like they are in a cult will just end up blaming AMZ for ruining Chris’s ‘vision‘ if they shipped anything less than what he has promised – even as all indications are that he can’t deliver on said promises anyway. With $145m (if you believe it) to date in liability, what exactly would AMZ be buying for them to even recoup that; let alone make any money? All that money is basically pre-orders with very little room for further monetization. Not even if it came to consoles. It makes no sense for them to do it; which is why I find it hard to believe this rumor. But if AMZ is going to do this as a way of marketing LumberYard + AWS for games, it’s one heck of an expensive spend – aside from it being completely nonsensical.
If you’re a whale backer, or investor in this project, and not already asking questions or trying to find out whether or not this very specific rumor is in fact true (in some form or another), you will only have yourself to blame for the end result.
Stay tuned.May 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm #5276
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED TO 2018
As I reported on Twitter earlier today, several sources, as they have done twice before in 2015 and 2016, have once again informed me that SQ42 is now a 2018 game. In fact, the current internal schedule shows it stretching all the way to mid-2018, and possibly beyond. The past two times that I had reported this, some people didn’t believe it. And CIG kept denying it. This Sept 2016 denial was my favorite. Both 2015 and 2016 came and went. Right up to the blatant lies that CIG told during the events (GamesCom and CitizenCon) of Q4/2016. I wrote extensively about that in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016.
Sources also tell me that they’re frantically trying to either get a preview or trailer out before the end of the year. So yeah, probably a repeat of Q4/2016 all over again.
Oh, and they have definitely chopped up the SQ42 game. I reported on this back in 2016 as well, but they have apparently stuck to the goal of releasing the once full game, into bits and pieces in order to “keep things going and raising money”. It makes perfect sense if you ask me. They know that the minute they release any “final” version of any portion of this train-wreck project, that’s it’s all over. So why not maintain the bait and switch Status Quo by splitting a full game into parts, then sell them separately? If you recall, they did that back in 2016 when they split SQ42 from Star Citizen, in order to sell it separately. Except this time, they’re going to split SQ42 even further. Which, now that I think about it, explains why you can buy that game for $15 (instead of $45) if you buy it as a bundle ($45 + $15) with Star Citizen. My God man! We’re doing it all wrong.
DAT DEV SCHEDULE!
I have seen it.
And it goes beyond 2017, and all the way to 2021. <—- LOL!!
The internal dev schedule looks absolutely nothing like the public dev schedule they put up for backers. Not only does the internal one have entries for SQ42, but it also shows all the tech and asset dependencies that the title is currently awaiting. Since SQ42 uses the same engine as Star Citizen Actual, it stands to reason that, networking fiasco aside, they simply can’t complete that title without those core engine components and assets.
When they first released a dev schedule, following backer dissent and outcry, it was along the lines of what was shown in Q4/2016. They got quite a bit of money by the time dust settled, and backer trust (in some regard) was regained. That didn’t last very long because shortly thereafter, they released a new version for the upcoming 3.0 that looked nothing like the original plan, though it did go all the way to 4.0. Then, shockingly, they later released another version which completely removed everything after 3.2. Yeah.
Basically, having failed to “save PC gaming“, while singing the “death to publishers!” theme song, Chris is basically doing what publishers know some devs with publisher funding tend to do: maintain two separate schedules. One to keep the publisher happy, and milestones paid; and one that’s the actual internal one which they hope will match the timeline that leads to a game. It’s the equivalent of having two accounting “books”, one of which is highly fraudulent. Only this time, backers are the publishers. Except that the backers still giving them money, are either completely gullible fools, or they’re using Star Citizen to launder money as I wrote in my Money Laundromat blog.
It is amazing to me that there are two games in development; but yet still, even though backers haven’t seen anything tangible from SQ42 since the Godawful Morrow Tour from 2015, that it doesn’t even appear in the public dev schedule. It’s as if it doesn’t even exist; or that they know if they release it, that backers would freak out, and see that it’s nowhere near complete in the short-term. This despite the fact that they keep showing art and videos purportedly from the game. But that’s normal though, right?
What’s even more egregious to me, is that backers have forked out over $150 million for two games, but they have to rely on insider leaks – for a crowdfunded project – to get most of the tangible and reliable information about the project they paid for. And they still don’t have a clue about most of what’s left to do in the games. So we have a public tracker that’s just as hilarious as it is shocking.
The project is FUBAR. And backers are in for the most interesting shocker yet. But I’m holding on to that one for now. Stay tuned.June 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm #5325
2015 STAR CITIZEN FINANCIALS FROM FOUNDRY 42 (UK)
The 2015 financials are up. For the first time, they actually filed on time this time around. I wonder what could possibly be going on over there. If I had to guess, I would say that section 19 has something to do with it.
Anyway, the numbers are in stark contrast to the 2015 (analysis here) numbers. As of Dec 2016, they had £593K ($754K) in the bank. Considering that they get money from the parent (Cloud Imperium Games UK) company as-needed, there is no immediate concern here. If the parent company runs out of money, well, they’re screwed. They actually mention this “going concern” in section 1.2 of the filing.
They are now taking the tax credits awarded by the government for software companies in the region. For 2016, they took £3.3m ($4.1m) allowance, and with the £3.1m ($3.9m) taken in 2015, brings the total tax credit to £6.4m ($8.1m) thus far. Due to how this is calculated (after expenses), this tax credit adds approximately £6.4m ($8.1m) to the projects P&L calculations.
Yearly expenses increased from £12.7m ($16m) to £15.4m ($19.5m), which is an average of £225K ($285K) per month.
The average employee count increased from 132 in 2015, to 221 in 2016. This was a financial increase from £5.9m ($7.4m) to £9.8m ($12.4) in wages and benefits. What’s curious here is that they hired 89 more people in 2016, with an increase of only £3.9m ($4.9m) in wages & benefits. Thus making the average yearly “per person” increase of only £43.8K ($55.4K). Given those numbers, these are probably either mostly interns, or part-time contractors. Especially when you consider their monthly burn rate for prior years.
It appears that they still owe money to NatWest bank. Going from the financials, that amount seems (it’s not stated with clarity in section 13) to be £794K ($1m).
They don’t own the building they are in. Their five year lease is now disclosed as being £249K ($315K) per year.
Alarmingly, Erin Roberts (brother of CEO, Chris Roberts), the director of the studio, took a pay increase from £152.7K ($193.5) to £230K ($291.3) in 2016. As if it wasn’t bad enough that it was previously over 2x the average for someone in his position in the Manchester region; at that 22% increase, it is way higher than the inflation increase for the region. Aside from the fact that the average salary in the region declined by almost 2x the inflation rate between 2015-2016 period. Not to mention the overall financial conditions in the UK, especially in the videogame sector. Oh well, backers will never know.
To date, they’ve raised over $151m in crowd-funded money, not including known and unknown loans, as well as other outside investment money, without ever shipping either of the promised games. So even as they keep using all kinds of tricks to continue raising money from the few remaining gullible believer whales, they’re basically continuing to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the project. If Erin alone is making this much money, one can only wonder what the rest of the people in the nepotism-r-us friends (Elms brothers, Derek Senior, Ortwin Freyermuth) and family (Chris & Sandi Roberts) program are making off a project they seemingly stand no chance of ever delivering on.
Section 19 is very curious. Due to the huge restated amount of £2.4m ($3.0m) from 2015, it reads like the sort of thing that would result from either a govt audit, or them just cleaning up their books in order to pass any due diligence muster. Also, as they’re now taking tax credits, it makes sense that these sort of numbers should be devoid of any such discrepancies, or they would also be in some serious problems with the govt. If you look at the chart from the previous analysis, with these restated numbers, it is now also clear that though the company doesn’t sell anything, they’re using money received from the parent (the backer piggy bank) company, as their income/turnover cash flow.
A single studio is burning about $2m per month. Yet, when we estimated that they had to be burning approx $3m per month worldwide (five studios), some said nuh-uh. In 2016, they raised about $36m, and this single studio burned through about $24m (including the $8m tax credit) of it.
“Finally there is one very important element – the more funds we can raise in the pre-launch phase, the more we can invest in additional content (more ships, characters etc.) and perhaps more importantly we can apply greater number of resources to the various tasks to ensure we deliver the full functionality sooner rather than later” – Chris Roberts, Sept 16, 2013
UPDATE: Analysis of suspicious asset allocation.
STATE OF THE SCAM
As it stands, the upcoming highly anticipated 3.0 patch, as per the schedule update of June 9th, is already late, and with a slew of items either on the “TBD” chopping block, or delayed by up to a whole month. In fact, since the schedule first showed up six months ago, it’s been consistently rubbish. When sources recently told me that the public schedule was bullshit, and that it didn’t even reflect the internal dev schedule, I was a bit skeptical. It all makes sense when you consider all the radical changes to the schedule, and then think back to Aug 19, 2016, during GamesCom, when Chris stated this:
“.so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.“
That was a whole 10 months ago. So by the time it is released – assuming Aug (yah! just in time for another GamesCom fundraising) – it would have been a year since it was “coming in four months”.
The changes in last week’s schedule update are truly hilarious. Some highlights:
Line 47: Procedural Planets
Line 154: Netcode
Line 162-182: Cargo
Line 180: Repair. This was feature complete in the last schedule. Now it’s back on the menu + 2 weeks.
Line 208-211: Component system (in case you missed it, read my latest Quora reply regarding performance issues)
Line 349: Volumetric Fog. Notice how it was due to be completed on June 9th (today), but somehow isn’t marked as “Feature Complete”? Yeah, me too.
Line 378: Mission System Broker. Delayed a whole – freaking – month. LOL! I’m dying.
Whatever they brand and release as 3.0 between July and Aug, is going to truly test the patience and loyalty of the remaining (those who didn’t get a refund off this sinking ship) backers. Even those who are probably laundering money through the game, are going to be concerned. From what I am hearing from inside sources, 3.0 is going to be just another chopped up mess, masquerading as a point (remember 2.0? yeah, me too) release, just in time for a critical fundraising (Gamescom in Aug, CitizenCon in Oct) drive as 2017 draws to a close. As I’ve written before, every single promise they have made for planets (moons vs planets), networking (critical revisions removed from schedule), etc in 3.0, has either been revised/removed, or in a state of disarray. But wait! If you read my May 24th analysis of the networking and instancing issues they have to contend with, it should give a good idea of what they are facing, and what to expect if/when 3.0 is actually released.
Two years ago in July 2015, after they had raised an unprecedented $85m, I stated in my Interstellar Citizens blog that they simply couldn’t build the game as pitched, let alone for less than $150m. I had no clue that two years later, with an engine switch, and over $151m raised, that they still wouldn’t have shipped either of the two games, let alone 25% of the Star Citizen MMO game. It’s just amazing to me.
And with E3 2017 going on, and the studio and the projects (Star Citizen and Squadron 42) nowhere (they were last seen at the Amazon Lumberyard showcase booth at GDC 2017 in Feb) in sight, given the amazing games on display, all made for less than $150m, it stands to reason that, as most of us have said all along, this project – in its entirety – is DOA. It will never be “finished”, let alone delivered as promised.June 24, 2017 at 8:34 am #5346
THE STAR CITIZEN PROJECT IS IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE
As I have reported in the past, for some time now sources have informed me that the project was in financial straits. Despite denials from some in the toxic backer community, and silence from CIG/RSI – even though they had pledged to provide financials to backers – their recent 2016 financials filing in the UK, had some curious entries which served to support this notion.
Read more in Star Citizen – The Final Countdown blog.
STAR CITIZEN 3.0 DELAYED – AGAIN. BUT THE SALE MUST GO ON!
The on-going saga surrounding the much touted 3.0 build also just had another event.
Back on May 26th, I wrote up an article based on some new info sent to me via various sources. Sources had claimed that not only was Squadron 42, the single player game based on Star Citizen, not due out in 2017, but neither is Star Citizen itself. They also claimed that the internal dev schedule was totally different from the public version, and that the former stretched all the way to 2021.
Since they started publicizing the dev schedule, it has been consistently riddled with bogus and highly questionable entries. During that time, they continued to use all kinds of new and inventive ways to squeeze their backer whales for money, under the guise of progress being made on the project. And they just did it – again.
After announcing a new concept sale for June 23rd (date of new schedule) weeks prior, they started the sale a day before the new schedule was due to be released. The sale was for a “racing” bike, which doesn’t exist, and for a game mechanic that doesn’t exist either; but which they have been touting as coming in 3.0. The same build in which they touted procedural planets, but have now settled for “level” based moons and planetoids due to on-going technical difficulties with the engine. I wrote about this on June 22nd:
“**BREAKING*** two sources have now confirmed that 3.0 is such a technological nightmare, and performance hog, that nobody knows how they are going to end up releasing it within the current time frame; let alone for GamesCom.
Croberts working on his new justification speech (aka newsletter), in which he may have no choice but to admit that the switch to LY hasn’t been as straightforward (gee, who knew!?) as they made it out to be – seven months ago.
It’s amazing to me that since July 2015, I’ve been right about so many things, that those guys don’t even bother recapping them anymore. This despite the fact that I document them religiously in my blogs and forum posts – for a reason.
All that aside, the primary claim that “they can’t build the game as pitched” and which everyone was saying that I was wrong about, remains true.
Ignoring the $150m (they were at $85, and have since passed this) + proper engine (they switched to the more advanced LY) that I said they would need to pull it off.
Recently (well, before GamesCom 2016), I said that they simply didn’t have the tech to do procedurally generated planets, that the pitched 3.0 was bullshit dipped in Ether. Less than 6 months later, 3.0 has been significantly scaled back. And has moons – in a level – instead of procedural planets (shown in an elaborate R&D video showcase posing as in-game).
I have no doubt that they will probably release something called 3.0, then continue to update it. They did the same thing with 2.0. Right up to 2.6.x
ps: There is another JPEG sale tomorrow June 23rd. So they’re probably going to lie in tomorrow’s 3.0 schedule update, then update it again the following week with the proper data.”
The sale for the Nox bike went up, and so far they have raised about $700K from it. Bear in mind that the funding chart is said to be highly inaccurate and being manipulated and used by CIG/RSI as a way to show that there is continued interest in the project,
Then the 3.0 schedule went up the day following the sale. And it’s hilariously as expected.
On June 20th, I had written that, from looking at the June 16th schedule, that there was no way they were going to make it.
“But 3.0 is on the way. The Evocati “aim” date, as per last week’s schedule update, is 06-21-17 to 07-05-17. We know that’s probably not going to happen. And when it eventually drops, we’ll see what the performance is like.”
So in last week’s schedule, the Evocati (closed test group) release date window was 06/21/17 – 07/05/17. This week it’s now 07/07/17 – 07/20/17. And from comparing it to the previous schedule, while littered with entries such as “TBD” and “delayed due to unforeseen shortage in resources”, it’s clear that they’re not likely to make that date either.
Basically, a total of 7 items were “completed” (this is subjective, when you look at notes which indicate that such tasks spawned new sub-tasks), and a total of 19 (!) were pushed back.
This is all in line with sources saying that the internal dev and public schedules are completely out of sync, and that CIG/RSI are just releasing as much as they feel is needed to appease backers. As far back as the April schedule, which I wrote about, among other things, and during which it was scheduled to be released the end of June, I was saying that it’s highly unlikely to happen.
The Star Citizen Tracker which is religiously maintained and updated as development continues, is a stark reminder that, regardless of the rumored 2021 date (subject to further delays of course), there is so much work left to be done, that even if they automagically got the resources (money, talent, tech) to pull it off, that it clearly has another five or more years to go.
And here I was, back in July 2015 being conservative when I stated that to pull off what they promised would require $150 million minimum, a competent team, and capable engine. Since that time, at $85 million raised, they’ve exceeded that $150m, and switched engines – even as they continue to bleed experienced talent who are being replaced by inexperienced people who have to get up to speed on a six year project.
With their two biggest fundraising events, GamesCom (Aug 22-26) and CitizenCon (Oct 27th) coming up, as they have done in the past, it is likely that they will brand and push out whatever build (3.0 was previously 2.7, as sources had stated that the former didn’t exist at the time Chris announced it) they have in time for either of those two events.
Which brings me to…
THE LATEST BLATANT CASH GRAB
Basically, ahead of this latest sale, without any forewarning or announcement, they yanked the Redeemer ship from sale.
Unless you are familiar with how the game’s assets work, you won’t understand what just happened. Basically, this move not only removes the ability for backers to trade up and/or trade in better ships, but it also requires them to spend more money in order to get what they want. Here, are some choice comments (1, 2 3) from those affected.
“I’ve got a big ship pack and am fully reliant on CCUs to convert the contained ships into the ones I want.
After CIG’s initial threat to erase all $0 CCUs from our hangars, I quickly hunkered down to make a solid upgrade plan, got it in place, and bought all the necessary CCUs. These were not particularly cheap, and largely revolved around using the Redeemer as a stepping stone, simply because it iswas the only always-available ship at that price. Now a large majority of the upgrade plan that CIG ‘encouraged’ me to invest in just got decimated. And the remainder of it will go down the drain with the $0 CCU wipe, removing the CCUs I can now no longer use because of the Redeemer removal.
I’m starting to have some serious regret about giving money to a company that treats its backers with such blatant hostility.”
I bought the 5-pack of the Nox with the sole intention of grabbing 3x Redeemers so I could use my Eclipse and BMM CCU with LTI, and still have a Redeemer and a Nox to hang on to.
Without warning that kinda screws up my plans to finalize ships before the 3.0 $0CCU wipe…
“My guess is that the Redeemer was removed to break the $0 CCU conversion to Banu Merchantman.
Might be a very clever first step to the anticipated Great $0 CCU Hangar Cleanout of ’17.
Once they started doing sudden, unannounced price changes on existing ships (like BMM going from $250>$300>$350), the writing was on the wall.
My guess is they WILL continue to announce prices for new Concept ships ahead of time (as stated), but they WON’T announce price hikes for anything that isn’t new. And temporarily removing the Redeemer removes a critical permanent CCU upgrade point.
So…. Remove previously permanent ships temporarily, mix in some selective price hikes, and remove old $0 CCUs from hangars- it will go along way to stop the ability to build ships for less than sticker price.
If you can, complete any upgrade chains while it is still possible!”
STILL BUILDING TOOLS & TECH
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, having dropped the pretext of doing procedural planets in the game world, in a June 22nd broadcast of Around The Verse, they showed a segment (FF to 26:46) showcasing a new tool – outside of the CryEditor – that’s basically barebones for manual entity placement. In a “level” based world. Essentially, this tool basically sets up the world entities – and has nothing to do with the actual creation of the 110 star systems and 500+ planets and moons they have yet to manually create (in the CryEditor) for the game. And as of the upcoming 3.0, they are still struggling to create even the three moons promised; even after removing the promised planet from the schedule.
Six years later, they are still building tools. For a game that was supposed to have been released in Nov 2014.July 8, 2017 at 8:52 am #5521
Once again, sources are telling me that the performance issues seen in the recent AtV broadcast (my analysis), are thus far insurmountable, and that they don’t know how this upcoming 3.0 patch (analysis of latest dev schedule) is ever getting released without that being addressed.
More talk about access to moons and planetoids possibly ending up being #justanotherlevel via a menu option.
Claim that if they were to release 3.0 within the “next 90 days”, that it would be an unmitigated disaster.
I hope they release it – at least to Evocati (so I can get my hands on it).
CryEngine is legendary for its performance issues in pure fps games. We’ve seen in the 2.6.x builds just how horrendous it can be with all these fidelitious models in it. Now go and add million plus polygonal planets.
But Chris Roberts is arrogant enough to release 3.0, regardless of performance issues, then advocate to backers that they should upgrade their machines to run it. Most of them probably will. The rest will put in for a refund.
And it doesn’t matter what state the deliverables are in, they’re just going off a checklist now in order to not run afoul of liability* issues. As long as they deliver an item promised, regardless of state or condition, they’re covered. That’s why Hangar, Arena Commander, Star Marine (LOL!!) and similar, aren’t getting frequent updates. In fact, the last 2.6.3 build was back on April 7th.September 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm #5764
THE EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT
Back in April 2016, I wrote the Star Citizen – Extinction Level Event blog which was my ground zero point for the inevitable collapse of the project. In July 2015 when I wrote that first Interstellar Citizens blog, I had already expressed my opinions as to why I didn’t think the project was possible, and even so, not without a capable team, engine, and minimum $150M. In April 2016 when I wrote that E.L.E blog, they had already raised $112M (according to the public funding chart).
In that E.L.E blog, I wrote about several events which I believed were evidence of an E.L.E (btw it isn’t an instantaneous event. It is a series of ripple events over time, until the final end) that was moving along apace. I said:
“For about two weeks now I have been hinting that on-going events which, combined with what has transpired long before this project turned into the shit-show that it is now, are likely to see this project result in a catastrophic collapse before they can deliver on promises. If you are in the media, a backer (are you a disgruntled whale? then you’re even more vested; do something), or in a position of authority, you need to do one thing, and one thing only. Ignore all the noise and the drama, because my opinion remains the same, the game is never going to come out as promised. Instead, just follow the money.“
I also opined about some very specific things which I will outline below.
1) Terms Of Service Agreement
Having failed to deliver the games in Nov 2014 (the same month they were fully funded to $65M for the over-scoped project), and with the additional 18 month ToS deadline approaching, I stated that they would likely change it again because the projects were nowhere near completion. I said :
“You could start with the ever-changing ToS which, effective May 31st, 2016 from their inability to deliver as promised, requires them to provide not only refunds, but also a financial accounting of how the money raised from backers, has been spent. They’re unlikely to do it. And there is a reason that they shifted that date from 12 months (expired Nov 30th, 2015) to 18 months (expires May 31st 2016).”
They changed it in June 2016 to a version that not only removed certain promises (refunds, financial accountability etc) made to backers, but also set the stage for the reduction of liability in the event of a catastrophic collapse of the project. I have an entire forum dedicated to the discussion of those changes.
2) The Refund Debacle
They were actively refusing refunds, even though Chris Roberts had gone on the record saying that refunds were not guaranteed because the 2.0 build (released in Dec 2015), was a “substantial update”. I said:
“That aside from the fact that they have been routinely refusing to give refunds to people who have seen through the lies, and want their money back. They prematurely released a broken tech demo in Q4/15 as the first PU 2.0 – which as was to be expected, netted them quite a bit of cash. Shortly after, in a bid no doubt designed to curb the flow of backers ejecting and asking for refunds, they started using it as an excuse to refuse refunds. And when Sandi Gardiner got into an exchange with Beer, an early backer and previously staunch supporter, here’s the fallout from that fiasco.”
Less than a month later after I stated that they had no legal reason to refuse refunds, having missed the dates in their own ToS by a wide margin, a backer who was refused a sizable refund, decided to test my theory. He went straight to the CA State authorities who agreed with my assessment. Barely a week later, he got his refund, and refunds became a thing again, and continues as of this writing. It wrote Star Citizen – The Refund Debacle blog about the whole thing.
3) The Engine Dilemna
Chris made key statements in a Dec 2015 broadcast that led me to believe that they had reconciled the fact that, as I had stated back in July 2015, they didn’t have the engine needed to make the games promised. I said:
“As I stated in my first July 2015 blog, they simply don’t have the tech to build the game he promised. He knows it. His team of skilled engineers know it. The backers (at least those who are paying attention) know it. It’s simply not a secret anymore; and he has said so himself after so many denials and rebuttals to my blog statements and commentary. And the fact that they keep systematically cutting things out, walking back promises etc, they have completely proven the point that I made in my first blog back in July 2015″
At GamesCom 2016, Brian Chambers, studio head at F42-GER where the primary engine dev takes place, stated in an interview that they had modified CE3 “by about 50%”. In Sept, I wrote that it simply wasn’t enough. I said :
“At the end of the day, as I mentioned in my missive, in order to come up with a custom engine which would make it somewhat possible to build vision 2.0 of the game, they would have to modify CE3 by a whole lot more than 50%. And even so, the underlying CE3 architecture is still going to be there because things like scene management, 64-Bit positioning, networking etc, are all the things they would need to either rip out and replace, or build on top of. And the time it takes for them to be doing all that, could have been spent building a custom engine which specifically does what they want.
It is hard for a none programmer to quite grasp how horrendous it is to go back and modify someone’s code; let alone an engine built by several people. Which is why, last year when people were saying that opening F42-GER with ex-CryTek engineers was going to be the magic bullet, most of us who know better, just laughed. It’s been almost 18 (?) months since; look at what they have now.
To be clear, I don’t envision there ever being a time whereby their CE3 FrankenEngine ever powers vision 2.0 of the game. I simply don’t see it happening. For that, would need to modify CE3 by 90% or more. Well, therein lies the rub.”
In Dec 2016, without having previously said anything about it, we learned that they had switched from one CryEngine 3 derivative to another (Lumberyard) in the 2.6 release. I wrote extensively about that in my Star Citizen – Irreconcilable Differences blog a few days later.
And if you read my article on the disastrously disappointing GamesCom 2017 show this past August, then you already know where this is headed.
4) Minimum Viable Product
For years I had stated that they simply couldn’t build the game pitched, and that they would be left with no choice but to ship “something”, release it, then if they survive the fallout, build on that. I said:
“Here’s the thing; he could have ten like them and NEVER build the game he wants to build. Aside from that, he’s got a bunch of ex-CryTek (the company that developed the engine they are using as a baseline) parked in a separate studio in Frankfurt Germany. That was almost a year ago. Still no game – or anything that remotely resembles one. Why? BECAUSE IT CAN’T BE DONE. PERIOD.”
A few days after my E.L.E blog went live, Chris in a broadcast, made clear that they couldn’t in fact deliver the games promised, and that they were instead going to work on an MVP; then build from there. In my follow-up article, I called that plan the final nail in the Star Citizen coffin.
He made the same claims in an interview from this past GamesCom 2017 event. You can read about that in my GC2017 coverage. It’s eye-opening.
5) Financial Difficulties
Having raised about $112M at the time, without ever delivering an Alpha product, rumors started swirling that they were – again – facing financial difficulties. I said:
“Rumors and unconfirmed reports have been swirling for months that they’re running out of money to complete these projects, that they’ve been seeking external investor funding, trying to take advantage of tax credits etc. Even over in the UK, where reports like this come out, there is no evidence of them ever filing with the BFI if they did in fact take advantage of UK tax credits. If they’re out trying to raise investor money, it should come as a complete shock to anyone who thinks that $112M should have been enough to, you know, develop the game as promised. All the negativity surrounding the game, the shitty and toxic community that has sprung up around it; the aforementioned videos of a shitty tech-demo (aka CryEngine mod) everyone is now laughing (1, 2) at, are collectively likely to affect any efforts to raise money outside of a bunch of gullible whales firmly entrenched in sunk cost fallacy and cognitive dissonance. Here’s the thing, any investor or investment banker looking to invest in a project which, for five years, has raised over $112M (that we know of) for a project that the creator was originally asking $2M from the public, should be doing extensive research into all the execs associated with this project.”
Later that year, between the Aug GamesCom 2016 and Oct CitizenCon 2016, Chris did the following: (1) presented an R&D demo being passed off as live 3.0 gameplay (which was later debunked by me, forcing them to admit to it) (2) claimed that the build – which he was playing – was due out on or before Dec 19th (3) didn’t show SQ42 as was expected, but later released a “Road To CitizenCon” video which proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that they didn’t even have anything to show of SQ42 at the event – but they lied about it anyway.
As a result of these carefully planned events – seemingly designed to mislead and rip off backers – he subsequently raised about $23M through that period. All based on what we now know, almost a year later, to be pure lies.
It didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until June 2017, that we finally learned that the aforementioned rumors were in fact true. This time, they had taken out a loan in the UK, while pledging assets paid for by backers, as collateral. I wrote about this in my Star Citizen – The Final Countdown blog, and also in a follow-up article about a week later.
Since that April 2016, E.L.E blog, every single thing they have done has been about raising money by any means necessary. This has included on-going JPEG concept sales, showcasing carefully crafted videos at events being passed off as the game in order to continue raising money from backer whales, various refund shenanigans in which some backers are reporting that they are either not getting their full and correct refunds, or CIG is making it prohibitive (e.g. requesting ID, attempting to refund to expired or invalid credit/debit cards etc) for them etc.
I have also learned that CIG is going to stop issuing refunds very soon, due to their on-going financial difficulties.
Then, out of nowhere, an industry developer wrote an extensive two-part article outlying why he thinks that the project is now in financial distress.
THE EXIT STRATEGY
About a week ago, I had a very disturbing discussion with a top tier (CEO of a large and well known studio) industry peer with connection to several people working on this project. That discussion left me shaken with anger, resentment, and confusion. I released this Tweet.
“BREAKING! Huge Star Citizen news inbound! 1st, read my Extinction Level Event blog from April 2016 for context”
Basically people in the industry who are either connected to the project, or to someone who is, are all talking now more than ever before. And the general theme is that the project is, as has been reported before, a complete failure, that Chris Roberts was not only looking around for investment, but also seeking an “exit” strategy. Speaking to several of my sources, they indicated to me that people are already leaving (Note that this is the most difficult industry to find work in, so leaving a project is not a decision that is made lightly) either through termination, or resignation. In fact, several of the recent ones already went public.
Statements made include, as has been reported before, that Chris Roberts is difficult to work with, and has run the project into the ground due to not taking the advice of the people he is paying to build these games, even as him and his friends blow through backer money irresponsibly. Most people on the project are basically pulling a paycheck until the final collapse because, as I mentioned before, it’s very hard to find work in the industry these days; no matter who is hiring.
You know why I’m mad? Because he’s done this before. I recently posted a short compilation which would give you some insight into what I’m talking about.
And now comes this….
Though I can’t go into a lot of detail at this point because it would compromise some sources, even as I await further clarification, I also learned at the same time that, in addition to the dozen or more corporations involved in this venture, this past Aug 29th, they formed yet another shell corporation in the UK called Cloud Imperium Rights LTD. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of another shell corp, CIG UK Ltd. I know what the implications of this are, I know the details, and I know what it’s for. But unless and until I obtain some key pieces of information that I am awaiting, I can’t yet say anything more about it. In fact, the only reason that I am even mentioning this at all is because though some of us have been discussing it in private, some people are now also aware of the existence of this new entity – though they have no clue what it’s for, nor why it exists.
FYI: Back in early August, Playdek which had raised over $660K via crowd-funding, abandoned the project, then passed the rights off to another company.
My April 2016 E.L.E blog was written for a reason. More soon.
UPDATE 2: Eurogamer just published an interview Chris Roberts gave at GamesCom 2017. It’s an eye-opening read which contains ample evidence of what I’ve stated that they can’t develop the game promised, and that they were possibly planning to dump 3.0 as a Minimal Viable Product. I covered this extensively in various blogs. To recap his statements from April 18th, 2016:
“…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…“
I like how he says the public schedule is the same as the internal one. I guess 3.0 did come out in 2016.
I am also thrilled to see that he is still reading my articles because I was the first and only person to leak that the internal and public schedules were different.
So basically, he’s gone from a $160m (as of now) crowd-funded project with a Nov 2014 delivery date, to pre-Alpha, and now right into an early access release instead, thus removing any future release dates.
He’s a liar, a scam artist, and a fraud.
UPDATE 1: For those of you asking about the ramifications of this new shell company, my answer is that I can’t say anything more about it until I get additional feedback, answers to some questions I’ve asked, as well as clearance to share some of the other pertinent info that I am not permitted to share at this point.
However, I can share a bit of background to give you an idea of why this new shell company should be raising new Red flags even if nothing funny is going on. Even it was for the sole purpose of IP licensing etc, they don’t need another EU shell corporation when they already have three in the same country, and another, F42-GER in Germany.
What this new shell company highlights is how they have systematically taken money out of these corporate entities.
Basically Chris took approximately $75M (publicly filed expenses from the formation of the studio) of backer money and built/maintained F42-UK studio for his brother and lifelong friends (The Elms, Derek Senior et al over in the UK). The corporation papers were filed in Sept 2013.
Then in 2014, at the height of the crowd-funding windfall, they turned around, and through CIG-UK, bought the company back from Erin et al for £440k, thus taking money OUT of the entity. Money which should have been spent on developing the games. Money which btw, is funneled from the US by CIG-UK via the RSI-UK subsidiary.
And during that time, they were putting the company into debt with not one, but now two UK loans – one of which collateralizes IP and assets paid for with backer money – even after taking money out of the entities for no good cause other than what can only be regarded as Unjust Enrichment. And we don’t know what is going with the US side of the financials, as those aren’t public.
All of the above in addition to Erin taking a larger than normal salary, even while giving himself salary raises and bonuses – never having shipped a single product.
The other question mark in their books is that in 2015, CIG-UK bought an IP “on paper” for £1.36m. That same year, it sold that same IP to the tune of about £2m, thus booking a “profit” of about £655k. Nobody knows what that IP is. But my guess is that, since they’ve never even mentioned it, and the fact that they “sold” it, points to them selling Star Citizen and/or Squadron 42 related IP among their shell companies. Hilariously, even with the profit, the end of year filing for the value of the aforementioned IP, is still £1.36m.
As there are no books to show who the IP was bought from or sold to, it stands to reason that it wasn’t sold to any of the UK entities (or it would be recorded there in the P&L which we have access to in the UK), but maybe to either one of the other shell companies in the US or in GER. Companies for which backers have no financial access or overview.October 26, 2017 at 4:53 pm #5973
BREAKING NEWS! UK STAR CITIZEN COMPANIES FILE ACCOUNTS
Seeing as they tend to file late, this one caught me by surprise late last night. I am currently working on a blog with a real life accountant, and another party to make sense of all this. I have also pinged a very good contact of mine who specializes in FINCEN related crimes and misdemeanors for his take. Once I get all my ducks in a row, I will publish the blog. Until then, this is what we have so far.
What’s interesting about this one is that, no doubt sparked by the due diligence required by the Coutts loan (I wrote about that in my Final Countdown blog) which they took out, with secured collateral, it has more detailed information. This is similar to the corrections they filed in the 2015 accounts and which shed even more light on the money movements between companies.
Since 2015 I have been writing that sources had said that Chris Roberts, family and friends, had enriched themselves with backer money, outside of just wages and project related expenses. Things like setting up over a dozen corporate (some of them shells) entities around the world, buying the IP back from themselves, setting up F42-UK with backer money, then buying it back from Erin, excessive paychecks for the friends and families – and for a group of companies that has yet to ship a single game – are just some of the biggest Red flags now brought to light. And so far we only know about the UK side as the filings are public as mandated by the UK govt.
There is no way to obfuscate this. They have basically taken money out of the project, enriched themselves, then went out and not only took out loans, but also continued all kinds of deceptive practices in on-going efforts to continue squeezing backers. Meanwhile, $161 million and six years later, neither of the two games, Star Citizen or Squadron 42, is anywhere near completion.
Do you remember what happened with the crowd-funded projects which State attorneys went after? For example the Lily drone one whereby they were raided in a criminal investigation followed by the DA filing a lawsuit against them. What about that case were the FTC also took action, specifically against someone who used backer money for something else. There are several similar stories across different States in the past two years.
Well think about how all of that reflects on Star Citizen and what the founders have seemingly done with backer money. And that’s what we know on the UK side. A few months back, I had written a lengthy blog about following the money. In fact, the gist of all my Star Citizen blogs, has been about that one thing; especially given the people who were involved in this project and their past dealings.
The sad part in all this is that the award winning TheEscapist magazine who reported on this back in 2015 after reaching out to sources who confirmed what I’d written, were incessantly attacked by both Croberts and his minions. The author, Liz Finnegan, even went on to win an SPJ award for that 2015 article. That article was since removed earlier this year after CIG threatened (back in 2015) a lawsuit when it was published. With Defy Media focusing on their other properties, the recent downsizing at Defy Media, and with layoffs announced a few days ago, it makes sense now why they would have wanted to settle the matter, rather then engage in a lengthy legal battle for zero gain. Especially since CIG has the benefit of free backer money.
With the recent news of RSI refusing to issue refunds, under the guise of delays due to the much delayed 3.0 patch, even as backer whales ($24K refund attempt!) try to get their money back, while others offering suggestions ranging from chargebacks to small claims court, I feel that we’re closer to the end game now more than ever before.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the latest report in states that Over three times as many video game projects fail than succeed on Kickstarter. Take a look at the trends. Then note that Star Citizen Kickstarter was in Oct 2012.
This is a developing story. In the meantime, below are some third-party comments and analysis about the filing from the Goon numbers guys.
This year they filed their consolidated accounts. This means that rather than being just that company, the set of accounts is consolidated to include all the subsidiaries. Any transactions between subsidiaries/parent are cancelled out.
The accounts preparation improves year on year as errors get picked up. I’ve pointed out the IP issue before and it’s now apparent what happened here.
On the 1st of July 2015 CIG UK paid £1,359,185 for Intellectual Property. This isn’t entirely clear but the suggestion would be that this was for the worldwide rights to Squadron 42. The sale of intangibles for £654,612 was the US rights of Squadron 42 being sold to Cloud Imperium Games Inc. Because of apparent errors in earlier sets of accounts we can’t be sure where that £1.36m actually went to, it could quite easily be to Chris Roberts himself, or a personal services company that is essentially himself.
These are actually broken down for the first time since they filed consolidated accounts. In the UK they’ve spent a little over £1m on computer equipment to December 2016. £400k on Fixtures and fittings. £300k improving the leased premises.
This is an accountancy term that represents the extra cash paid for an asset. If a company has a value of £34,851 and you pay £440,000 then in your company’s set of accounts this is recorded as an investment of £440,000. In your consolidated group accounts however, you include the activities of the subsidiary. Because of this, you do not include that investment of £440,000. You reverse it out through a set of journals which includes the value of the assets at £34,851 and the goodwill figure of £405,149. The goodwill is then amortised (written off) over, in this example, a five year period.
As you have no doubt guessed, these are the actual figures for Cloud Imperium Games Ltd’s purchase of Foundry 42 Ltd from Erin Roberts et al.
Related parties – mistakes
Note 20 on Related Parties Transactions. Accounting errors. All amounts are actually due [b]to[/b] the respective companies, but they are in brackets so the lines that currently read “due from” are correct (Like a double negative).
It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s surprising that a professional auditor wouldn’t notice it instantly. All three disclosures should really read something like, “Amounts due (to)/from” and it would be easier all round to understand and avoid mistakes such as the one made.
Related parties – analysis
There’s three US companies under Chris Roberts control that have transactions with the UK group. These transactions, from a standard accountancy point of view, are sort of nonsensical. The flow of money however keeps changing and changed again in late 2016.
1. Roberts Space Industries Corporation. This continues to be the main money pig. The UK group tells America how much to pay and they pay. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. As the American company settles these, a balance remains. Because of poor planning, Roberts Space Industries Corporation has actually settled more costs than the UK has recharged. The balance comes down as they adjust (Compare 2015 and 2016).
2. Cloud Imperium Games, LLC. This one is interesting. In early 2015 it relinquished the role of funding the UK group that is now undertaken by Roberts Space Industries Corporation. Now we learn in late 2016 it has gone to being dependent on the UK group for financing. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. In 2015 it is a positive and in 2016 the figure is in brackets, which means it is no longer turnover for the UK group but an expense. Apparently some US expenses were actually paid by the UK group, so this figure is netted off that which is due to the American company.
3. Cloud Imperium Games Texas, LLC. This is a brand new entry for the UK in 2016 and it only has one figure. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. However, this is a figure in brackets, which means it is no longer turnover for the UK group but an expense. We know this was done in late 2016 because the amounts for both CIG US companies are relatively small and remain unsettled at the year end.
Related parties – conclusion
What this means is that they have once again refactored the way the money moves around the companies. All sales continue to be made and received by the US companies and flow to Roberts Space Industries Corporation where it is funneled to the UK and distributed in the UK but now, going forward some will then flow back to the US to pay for Cloud Imperium Games(, LLC and Texas, LLC). Pointless.
Financial Risk Management
“The Company does not actively use financial instruments as part of its financial risk management.” I’m not sure how this ties into the reddit hivemind and the infamous Sunday panic statement by Ortwin. It seems pretty unlikely however that the “pay day loan” was some sort of hedge against currency exchange rates.
Completely Speculative Conclusion
Steps have been taken to change the flow of money. It appears going forward (and this means since December 2016) that perhaps nearly all the income is going to be funneled to the UK from the USA. Some of this is then moved back to the US to cover expenses in Texas and LA. This would have the appearance of higher income in the UK group. We know in 2017 that CIG UK put up a lot of collateral to secure loans. It would be in their best interest if the interim management accounts provided to banking institutions showed more turnover. Also beyond just the vanity of a higher turnover figure, there’s the fact that the UK is now receiving its funding before studios in LA and Texas for example. The sort of thing a lender in the UK might stipulate.
“This is something I don’t understand at all – if they created Foundry to build the game then charged them for the license… where did Foundry get the £2 million from? Did they go into £2 million debt right off the bat to develop a game for the brother of the guy who runs the studio? But then didn’t CIG buy Foundry outright further down the line anyway?
Why sell them the license when you are contracting them to build the game that the license covers anyway?
Absolutely none of this makes any sense to me“
The IP is actually in the books of CIG UK not Foundry 42 Ltd. Basically, by moving things around it is easier to introduce actual bank loans. Banks would not normally lend a company money to buy shares from the directors or IP from the directors or companies owned by the directors.
This was a summary of the activity of CIG UK specifically that strips out the inter-group transactions:
Sources of funding
£710k Long Term Loans
£290k Short Term Creditors
£200k Shareholder Investment 
£650k Sale of IP to USA company
£440k purchase of Foundry 42 Ltd from Erin Roberts and others 
£ 50k Admin Expenses
£1.36m IP purchase from USA company/Chris Roberts?
“Well even if the Google Sheet was accurate, let’s assume that it is a best case scenario as well, then they have a huge issue, it shows that they have raised $21M so far this year although the cashflow forecast would need them to raise $30M, a difference of $9M. With projected cash reserves of $13M at year end, assuming that their costs were as anticipated and that they did not take in any more debt then cash reserves are probably down to $4M right now. If this trend continues, losing around $1M a month in cashflow, then they would be illiquid by Feb 2018. Again, this is purely speculation based on the forecast, they would have to start reducing team sizes and costs, if not already done so, to try and balance the cashflow. Of course, if they start getting more negative press then this would only detract further pledges from the community leading them into a cash leaking spiral.“
Even the simplest concept like turnover isn’t straight forward for the UK group. The parent company, Cloud Imperium Games UK Ltd and Foundry 42 Ltd, basically have zero turnover. It gets zeroed out in the group accounts. The only company that has actual “turnover” is Roberts Space Industries International Ltd. The one with the £1 balance sheet that is really a non-trading company.
But even they are uncomfortable with this being turnover. It’s a non-trading company and the accounts make different references to it. This behaviour (calling your headline turnover, “costs recharged in the period”) is not in any way standard. I’ve never even heard of this term before in an actual accountancy setting. It’s strange but another first for CIG I guess.
“The fact that Robert Space Industries and Roberts Space Industries are both registered companies in this money shifting scam should set off alarm bells too. Licensing their own IP to themselves is just the tip of the iceberg.
However whenever brought up, Shitizens believe it’s totally normal for a studio working on their first game have 17+ LLCs and corporations registered. This whole saga is just laughable how pathetic it is. Instead it is Frontier, the makers of Elite, who are ruining PC gaming with their cash grabbing! I mean, come on, they have 3 different large games in the works now and still only have Frontier Developments plc and Frontier Developments Inc. registered as their corporate entities. Totally pathetic way to run a business.”
I updated my wildly optimistic cashflow estimate for Star Citizen. The main assumptions made are the low costs for running companies in LA, Texas, and Germany compared to Manchester. Also that Subcontractors are really cheap. Yeah. I also assume that they receive $36mil this year in pledges and that refunds all time are negligible.
In this fantasy best case scenario the end of 2017 sees a cash balance of around $13mil with bank loans of $5.5mil. Obviously they could pay the loan off, but then they would have cash of $7.5mil.
It’s worth thinking back to June 2017 though. At the end of June, Star Citizen would not yet have received their tax credit rebate in respect of 2016 some $4mil, also no estimated bank loan of $4mil against 2017 tax credits. Also their half year income was only $13mil compared to the yearly $36mil estimate. Expenses would have been half a year’s worth. Working capital would have been tight in places. A more realistic/pessimistic estimate than mine would probably include bank loans in Germany and the United States and higher expenses in these places. It is really surreal that they still need to hit $177mil in pledges this year and this can be balanced directly with the product available at the same time, not any future product which will require ongoing funding.
UPDATE: In a four part series, a UK accountant takes a look at the financials in great detail; revealing glaring issues and omissions. Not to mention the disappearance of over £2.4m that seemingly disappeared off the books.
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