October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
General musings on the on-going train wreck that is the Star Citizen project.October 1, 2016 at 8:51 am #4550
THE NEW RADAR SYSTEM
So in the most recent AtV 3.9 broadcast, the F42 guys showed (start at 5:26) off the new and upcoming radar system. Shortly thereafter, the most vocal community backers were up in arms, quickly expressing [misplaced] outrage, and dubbing it “golf swing radar“. A thread (with over 26 pages) on the forums was quickly
moved to concern, away from the main forum threaddeleted. Shortly after, another thread (30 pages as of this writing) popped up; this time with a poll. That one was moved to the concern forum once CIG/RSI got wind of it.
It’s much ado about nothing.
As a systems designer and someone who has developed some of the most complex (go play any of my Battlecruiser/Universal Combat games if you think this is hyperbole) systems in a space combat sim, I quite like how they implemented it. It looks cool, straightforward and functionally sound. Plus (and this is a biggie), they unified it across the infantry and ships. I did the same thing in my BC/UC games, whereby even the NPC infantry characters, have some sort of radar system which not only detects sounds, but also prioritized based on range and elevation.
What’s lost in the translation I think, is how the dev described it. But the fact of the matter is that he described it correctly for the layman to understand how it works. On the face of it, the system is no different from any other implementation of a “power up” mechanic in hundreds of games. So this outrage is completely misplaced I think. Plus, he also stated that it’s a first iteration, and that LA is going to be running with it. Which means that they are going to be tweaking and fine tuning it along the way.
The issue that I have with this system is that unless you’re going to be doing this “scanning” while stationery or moving at low speed, it’s going to be quite cumbersome to use – if you’re the pilot. Using a mechanic such as this, whereby the player needs to provide constant input, is counter-intuitive and misplaced in a game like this. Heck, even the most hardcore air combat sims don’t do it like this. I think it should be implemented as a fire-and-forget type system, but with simple key presses to activate whatever modes (e.g. ACTIVE vs PASSIVE) they want. Then all the benefits and restrictions are embedded within those modes.
In games of this type, the operation of a radar system is usually automated (it’s not like this is a realistic air combat game which requires accuracy and fidelity). You plot the targets, give the radar a range, give the player a way to select targets etc. You can also differentiate the radar op based on range, elevation, altitude (if on planet surface), target cross-section size, op mode etc. You can literally go crazy with it.
If they wanted to implement this as a “skill” (which is precisely what I think they’re going for) based op for multi-crew ships in which one player is going to be using this; then this is probably the way to do it. It’s not like the pilot is going to be doing any of this; in much the same way that a turret gunner isn’t expected to fly a multi-crew ship.
But here’s the problem which all multiplayer games which require player cooperation, run into: who the frack wants to be sat there, in a chair, pissing around with a game mechanic which, for all intent and purposes, doesn’t provide the same instant gratification and satisfaction as any other game mechanic? I don’t care what some of these guys keep dreaming up, even as they theory craft their way through a litany of pure and utter BS (which not even Chris Roberts has promised they could do in the game); when it comes down to it, most of them won’t want to be that guy. In games which require player co-operation, there is always “fun” stuff for all player classes to use. e.g. a medic, a tank etc. In a game like this, there is nothing fun about a skill based radar system, no matter how it’s implemented. Again, this is all assuming they are targeting this as a skill based system. If they aren’t, then this point is moot.
At the end of the day, it’s all down to user experience. If they keep it this way, in which it’s a timed “progress bar” type system which requires constant input (among other things), instead of just a fire-and-forget key input (which can also have the progress bar as it powers up and activates), it will be a complete disaster. And then they will have to do what they always do: go back in, rip it all out, or nerf it. Time wasted.
My suggestion would be to keep everything as-is, but instead of the constant “golf swing” input, simply make it a fire-and-forget mode change input. e.g. passive is the default, then you press a key, and it switches to active, which then initiates the same progress bar. Then, it could be that once the player (pilot or other) switches modes, the pilot would have to keep the ship pointed at the target in order for the progress bar scan to complete quickly. Doing it this way also allows the player to operate the radar system, even without a co-op player. And in the event of a co-op player, perhaps the ability to select multiple targets based on priority (which the pilot may not be aware of; especially in a combat situation), is the add-on benefit. The other benefit to this is that it would work in all ship types, since it gives the pilot autonomy, but at a cost.
FYI, I don’t believe this is a QTE (QuickTime Event) they are showing as the progress bar. It just looks like a Flash based UI (probably using Scaleform or similar; we use Iggy in LoD) animation.
The radar system in my BC/UC games is quite complex under the hood, and I did my best to not expose too much of that to the user. Read how it works on p27 of the UCCE 3.0 game docs.October 11, 2016 at 10:26 am #4589
QUICK THOUGHTS ON STAR CITIZEN GAMESCOM 2016
The presentation was bullshit. All of it. It’s staged using an R&D dev branch which was already shown two weeks ago and CLEARLY STATED BY THE DEVS to be in R&D and (I quote): may never be done. Meanwhile, during the stream ahead of the show, this is the ganky 2.5 patch that paid streamers were playing.
Sources say it was heavily scripted, and even that quest giver animation was done last month specifically for THIS canned/scripted Gamescom presentation.
Even the barren moon used for the procgen, anyone with access to CryEngine can put together in a weekend.
Note that they did this SAME thing ELEVEN months ago when it too was “coming soon”. That was the Nyx (https://vimeo.com/137655209) base. Still MIA.
Aside from that, this was 2 clients in a controlled environment on a private local LAN server. Which is NOT indicative of the shit that was being streamed just days before at the show. And THAT version which is the 2.4x kernel, is still largely broken. Which, when you think about it, is hilarious that the 2.5 build they were hoping to use, is somehow a LOT worse than that one; so they couldn’t even use it.
It’s all designed to show “progress” where there is none. This was more to appease the whales (stuck in Sunk Cost Fallacy), and somehow con new gamers into giving them money because they DO need the new money.
Thing is, if this was 2 years ago, and they hadn’t done this SAME SHIT before with various builds at PAX, GDC, E3, Gamescom, CitizenCon, nobody would care. But now, FIVE years – and going into year SIX and $119m later, this is still a pre-Alpha proof-of-concept tech demo that’s nothing more than a glorified CryEngine mod.
Then there’s Star Marine which they shit-canned months back. I wrote a huge blog about it amid the uproar. Then Chris went on the record and said that he was “annoyed” that people are asking about something that was “already in the game”. Yes. With a straight face, he said that SM was already in the PU and being played.
Now that State and Fed officials are looking up their skirt, and given the fact that Star Marine – as a separate module – was PROMISED and PROMOTED for over FOUR years, all of a sudden, it’s back again. That’s what happens when you start to worry about the legal liabilities of your actions.
Not to mention the fact that the games were due out in Nov 2014. It’s now Aug 2016. And neither Star Citizen nor SQ42 is going to be released before year end. So this Nov makes BOTH of them TWO YEARS late.
NONE of this sways my opinion about the game. They can’t build it. They don’t have the tech. They don’t have the expertise. And now they’ve run out of TIME and MONEY.
Anyone who thinks this “game” is ever seeing the light of day, should just ignore me and go give them money.
To be CLEAR: This is NOT about raging against them for “trying”. It’s about HOW they’ve LIED CONSISTENTLY while raising money for a game they KNOW FULLY WELL they can’t build. Also, it’s not about whether or not it’s alpha, pre-alpha, a tech demo or any of that. It’s about THIS being WHAT they have FIVE years and $119 MILLION dollars later. Anyone who thinks that’s somehow OK, SHOULD go give them money. Long after this shit-show collapses, most of us will just be staring into the abyss where dreams go to die.
It’s amazing to me how Shitizens are claiming “victory” over a scripted demo based on wonky R&D. Like the games were suddenly delivered. Even as they conveniently ignore/forget that CIG have done this same very thing many times before and NONE of that is IN the game right now. Shitizens wanted “something” to tide them for the next 6 months. then come Dec 2016, they’re going to (again) pretend Gamescom 2016 never happened. Meanwhile, they’re completely oblivious to the fact that NEITHER Star Citizen now SQ42 is a 2016 release & BOTH will be 2 YEARS late in Nov 2016
Then there’s this…October 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm #4725
PROCEDURAL GENERATION OF PLANETS
This became a buzzword again with No Man’s Sky. We know how that turned out. But enough of that.
So anyway, I decided to visit the denizens of my very own sub-Reddit to enlighten them on the wanton obfuscation that’s going on regarding this nonsense. Seeing as those morons over there are just going to down vote it to oblivion, I decided to leave here as well for posterity. It all started like this:
“Given what your source has said you are arguing semantics, similar to your thoughts and implementation of seamless transitions (no I am not poking fun here you have stated your definition of it and are entitled to it). Take for example the gentleman in Minnesota who runs a business called Drive a Tank. The business is called Drive a Tank but only two of his four packages includes driving an actual tank. The other two have you driving a British FV433 Abbott SPG (self propelled gun, or self propelled artillery piece) and a British FV432 APC (armored personnel carrier). Neither of those vehicles are tanks by any definition of the term tank. Is he misleading customers? No, he states what his vehicles are. Should his business be called Drive a Tank? Who cares, in the end you get to drive something cool. Should CIG be calling it “procedurally generated planets”? Who cares, as long as the end result is good.”
Well at least you actually did the research, instead of just spewing rubbish like others tend to do.
I concede the point that right now – especially after yesterday’s AtV broadcast which shows what they are doing and how, that it’s probably all down to semantics. Why is that? Simple, because CIG themselves are to blame for yet another fiasco. If you search here on Reddit, Google, RSI forums etc, it is clear that the insinuation of procedurally generated planets implies the pure sense of the term as used by us devs over the years, and which isn’t open to interpretation.
That’s how the media, gamers – and everyone took it. Then they started thinking NMS, Battlescape, Dual Universe etc. All of which use the term and tech correctly.
Right now, this is what you see on Google when you search for Star Citizen procedural planets.
The minute Chris went on stage and called it “procedural generation of planets” – which btw my sources (and recently confirmed by Goon, TheAgent) say devs have asked Chris to stop using – he created expectations that the planets would be created as such.
Also, try reading these…
All this time, and even with the unclear methods which started all the way back to August, everyone (myself included) was under the impression that they were in fact doing procgen planets.
Then finally, the Oct 27th broadcast of AtV 3:11 made it clear that what they were in fact doing, is what most of us with experience building terrain tech, have been doing all this time. And in their StarEngine editor is no different from what you see in the likes of Grome, World Machine or with tools like Gaia (1, 2), Terrain Composer (1, 2) etc on Unity. It’s just a height map. In an editor. In which artists hand-craft most of the elements, while use the editor’s toolset to generate repeating (e.g. grass) assets, manipulating a 3D object (the Sun or star in the scene) with an attached light source etc.
All basic rudimentary stuff. What’s shocking is that as per the funding stretch goals:
They got $1m (at the $20m stretch goal) for:
“First person combat on select lawless planets. Don’t just battle on space stations and platforms… take the fight to the ground!”
And another $1m (at the $41m stretch goal) for:
“Procedural Generation R&D Team – This stretch goal will allocate funding for Cloud Imperium to develop procedural generation technology for future iterations of Star Citizen. Advanced procedural generation will be necessary for creating entire planets worth of exploration and development content. A special strike team of procedural generation-oriented developers will be assembled to make this technology a reality.”
And it’s going to take a LOT of time for ANY of that to be in the SQ42 (which has planetary missions, according to sources), let alone the PU.
The biggest problem is going to be performance. You think the game’s performance sucks now? Just wait until they finish doing the first planetary scene with all their high fidelity graphics – then you’ll see.
Then you have data storage. Storing those height maps on disk is going to be a major problem. We’re talking terrabytes of data if they even think of doing any scene that’s more than 12 sq km large.
This procgen fiasco is no different from all the other instances whereby reality takes a backseat to obfuscation. Some recent examples:
FPS headbob: they disabled headbob in fps, and all of a sudden it has a nonsensical name, “visual stabilization” to make sound like it’s something else – or some newly discovered tech.
Persistence: Same rubbish. There’s nothing persistent about Star Citizen. The ability to save and restore player data from a dB isn’t new tech, and nobody ever accused it of being “persistent” in the sense of the term as recognized in gaming tech. The game is 100% instanced, and that will never change. So no matter what is being told to backers, even if they invent some fantastic networking tech (hint: they won’t) that’s going to solve their multiplayer issues, there’s never – ever – going to be an MMO coming from this. Why? Because the design was all wrong – right from the start. All MMO games are persistent. You login, game state changes, you logout, log back in, and the state you left is no longer there. So regardless of whether or not you are on the server, the world state is consistently updated and persists. Even when servers are taken off-line, most save the entire state so that when it is brought back up, it is restored “in-place”. e.g. in Line Of Defense, you can login at a certain time, e.g. 1pm and the Sun is up, logout, come back later and it’s night time and it’s pitch dark and anything that was around during the day, is still there.
Seamless space<->planet transition: Rubbish. They’re using trigger points on the planet, in much the same way they do jump targets. Not new. Not revolutionary. Which is why in the Homestead tech-demo from the CitizenCon2016 presentation which I wrote about in my Shattered Dreams blog, you can see the area on the planetary sphere where the base is located. They jumped to it. They couldn’t pick an arbitrary point on the planet and jumped to that because it’s just a textured sphere that bears no relation to the planetary height map below. How do I know? Well watch this Universal Combat CE video (start at 12:05). I select and jump to the planet, pick a spot on the sphere, engage, and my ship appears (I use an external camera transition sequence) exactly at that spot. Why? because it’s procgen and the data for the planet, corresponds to what’s mapped to that sphere of the planet. Right now, you can download the UCCE or GALCOM Echo Squad demo on Steam and try it.
I could go on and on and on, but I’m sure that you get the idea of what I’m going on about.
So this “procedural planet” nonsense that’s now a huge bone of contention, is just more of the same. The disappointment that’s coming is when backers realize that by creating these planets the way they have, it limits the surface coverage for any planet. So instead of having large planetary surfaces – assuming they ever finish and implement it – you will end up with small planetary surfaces, with key points of interest. No different from how space has locations like ArcCorp, GrimHex etc.
The end result? Well, that’s precisely how it’s done in Line Of Defense and most games. Create a height map to define the terrain area (in LoD it’s 256 sq. km edge-to-edge). Have the artists and modelers build the assets into it. Then use scripts to add other dynamic content that’s not static (e.g. rivers, canals, bridges) in the scene. Use rendering tech for water (we use Triton), atmosphere (we use Silverlining), weather, dynamic day/night cycles etc – and a trigger point (in LoD it’s the jump gates or the location selection on the map if you are using the HAIS to go to the planet from space) to get to those locations.
That’s not procgen planets. Which, btw is what’s implemented in every single Battlecruiser and Universal Combat game since 1989. That’s why the smaller 2009 games, All Aspect Warfare & Angle Of Attack, use a different terrain tech that’s similar to what is described above.
And I opted not to do procgen in LoD because it’s a different kind of game and wouldn’t have benefited from it, seeing as I already designed the entire game’s world scope from the onset.
In conclusion, the bottom line is that, once again, backers are being sold a bill of goods that’s not representative, nor indicative of what they were promised. The $20 million stretch goal promised “First person combat on select lawless planets“. The $41 million stretch goal promised “Advanced procedural generation will be necessary for creating entire planets worth of exploration and development content“. Nothing they have shown thus far, is any of that. And my guess is that even the rudimentary FPS on planets, is a long way off, and because doing a proof-of-concept demo (as in Homestead) with a single player in a heavily scripted environment, is a lot different from the actual implementation for multiplayer. And that was promised in the 3.0 patch which was promised “end of this year“.October 31, 2016 at 8:06 am #4746
SQUADRON 42 ON CONSOLE
So over the weekend in a stream, Nicole “Batgirl” mentioned an off-hand comment that Sandi made about Squadron 42 coming to consoles. As these things go, seeing as the Star Citizen project, which includes the Squadron 42 single-player component, has always been touted as a PC game, some parts (e.g. 1, 2) of the community was set ablaze. Most were either freaking out, or trying to figure out wtf was going on.
It’s easy to discard this sort of thing out of hand as being alarmist rumor. However, the irony is that CIG/RSI have consistently lied to backers so much, that this uproar is rooted in the fact that backers know this. They also know that when it comes to information – let alone those posing as truth – it’s hard to come by. As a result, it ends up being an issue with backers not knowing who to believe, let alone trust, anymore. Not even the company they gave $130 million and which, for all intent and purposes, most believe is actively running a scam of epic proportions. The Star Citizen backed (paid or unpaid) community streamers and writers, don’t even have an audience anymore; because they too lost whatever little credibility they had left, over a year ago. To make things worse, just this past week, several publications release completely false information posing as “reviews” of the game. To the extent that most now believe this to be the on-going work of an online “reputation management” company, as there is seemingly no other reasonable explanation.
Back in July 2014 (the glory era before it all went to shit), Andy Chalk at PC Gamer wrote an article about this console nonsense. Now over two years later, most everything in that article and the interviews cited, has turned out to be pure lies. Much like the majority of the Star Citizen project.
So with all the actions that CIG/RSI have taken in their on-going desperate cash grab, it’s clear to see how easy it would be for them to go back on the statements and promises that the project would remain a PC exclusive. It’s the natural progression of things. But here’s the thing, as I’ve written (1, 2, 3) extensively about Squadron 42 in my blogs, not only did they walk back various promises for that game, but they also split it earlier this year into a separate purchase in order to yield more money. Given that, as well as the history and the desperate need to keep raising money – especially now that it has been made clear that by the 4.0 release (slated for end of 2017), Star Citizen won’t even be 50% complete – it makes perfect sense that they would want to release SQ42 on consoles in order to make some money on that platform. Just like Elite Dangerous did, when they released it via the XBox Preview program, Microsoft’s equivalent of Early Access on the PC.
Following Batgirl’s stream, on Sunday I tweeted “No, SQ42 isn’t coming to consoles. Stop it.” because, even though Sandi was probably just talking crap as usual, I knew that it was rubbish.
You see, both games use the same FrankenEngine (aka StarEngine) based on the legacy CryEngine 3.0 kernel which Brian Chambers and others have gone on the record as saying they have modified by 50%. I covered that in this post from back in September. That base CE3 engine (depending on when they stopped taking drops) doesn’t support next gen consoles; let alone the VR they were also touting from back in the day. And seeing as they not only don’t have a source license for any CryEngine build above CE3, even as they stopped taking patch drops for that from CryTek years back, it’s impossible for them to have somehow added in next gen console support in FrankenEngine. And my very credible sources have stated – unequivocally – that no such build exists. Plus they would need separate source licenses from CryTek in order to do any such integration.
So the only way for them to even start to think about something as foolish as that, is to obtain a new source license from CryTek to the current CE5, then integrate all the changes between CE3 and CE5 into FrankenEngine. As a developer who builds engines from scratch, integrates middleware etc, that sort of thing is not the same as integrating middleware into a custom engine. Heck, even when we licensed the now deprecated Havok Vision Engine (previously Trinigy Vision Engine) as the baseline graphics engine for our Line Of Defense custom engine, there was a time when we simply stopped integrating their engine updates into our custom builds because it’s a lot of work. Especially for a small indie team. So we just planned it out for specific periods where we didn’t do anything but integrate whatever it is we needed. It’s horrendous, and a lot of work. Everything that can break, is likely to break. Then you have to go and fix that.
The other barrier to next consoles is that they have stringent guidelines for passing certification; even the indie programs setup by both Microsoft and Sony, adhere to that. While it’s easier in this console gen to push patches to console products, the problem remains that the product has to meet various criteria for functionality before it can even pass cert. Even though Microsoft subsequently came up with the XBox Game Preview last Summer, their version of Early Access, as of this writing only two notable games, Elite Dangerous and Everspace are released there. The game still have to be functional in some capacity, and has to pass some other requirements for it to be allowed to release there.
So, as much as I know they would love to have the additional revenue stream, seeing as the writing is on the wall that they have tapped out the whales funding Star Citizen, at this point in time, and with the work-in-progress FrankenEngine going through drastic changes in order to support the “dream”, they simply can’t do it. Period. End of story. And not even with SQ42 which is a smaller and different game from Star Citizen.
And no, they don’t have any Scorpio dev kits either. That was just a baseless rumor. That aside from the fact that, last I checked (I would be notified, since we are getting them for LoD) said kits don’t even exist yet.
The fiasco doesn’t end there. After the furor erupted over the weekend, Batgirl, in another stream decided to pin the blame for this apparent FUD on myself and the Goons. Here is a Goon transcript of precisely what she stated, complete with Goon commentary. It’s hilarious.
“what’s going on right now is that Derek Smart and other people are using my statement as a way to say this is what they said. And it’s not what she said and those people are just trying to incite bad feelings amongst the game. Now I do consider myself a pseudo journalist, which someone that is in the community and likes the game but also knows that I have to somewhat of a non-bias approach *laughs* when I do my videos and I’ve tried that in the past but people get a little bit upset.”
Earlier At 1 minute 35 seconds
“Now it does make sense for Squadron 42 to move to the console, being the type of game that it is”
At 2 minutes 07 seconds
“It would be a huge seller on that platform, just because it’s going to be an amazing game. Never was it mentioned it was definite and never was it mentioned that it was in the works, it was just something that we talked about hypothetically“.
There are several layers of comedy here that I’ve really enjoyed. First you have the idea that something that logically makes sense, doing a console version of a single player spacegame can be discussed with one of the game company founders, float the idea that it makes sense to both of you, would be great, would sell loads but it’s just talking “hypothetically”. The idea that because you aren’t saying something for definite or making an announcement, while the something in question would takes years to develop, but the conversation isn’t important considering what Elite dangerous did.
Layered on top of that you have the hilarity of referring to yourself as a “pseudo journalist” within a couple of minutes of saying Squadron 42 is “going to be an amazing game”, while displaying your own complete inability to refer to yourself as “unbiased” without laughing.
Then you have the historical record of Cloud Imperium Games displaying virtually zero professional behaviour, unable to release anything at all of even a decent quality, never mind “good”, during an interview with a VP of marketing that seemingly has no relevant marketing experience and who appears to have landed the role purely based on being married to a chubby liar with a bad haircut.
Nichole D’Angelo you are funny and I’ll sleep well once CIG goes bust, I hope you can do the same after plugging this expensive hobby of dreams for years to the mentally ill, while asking for money to continue to do so.
Also lol at fucking up an audio track, you had one job, you really are talented enough to work there.
Thing is, I never made any such commentary. All I stated was precisely as written in my one and only Tweet on the matter. Someone actually laid it out precisely as it happened.
1. Batgirl said some shit
2. I typed that shit out, 100% accurately
3. That shit got posted on the RSI forum
4. Batgirl blames Derek Smart
“potential console delivery of Squadron 42 only”
“I held off the stuff about CONSOLE because CONSOLE SCARES EVERYBODY”
And now that she created a shitstorm she’s blaming Derek Smart. Here’s what journo’s do – they take fucking responsibility for what they say. Pseudo-journalist my arse, sit the fuck down Batgirl and go back to shilling for a scam company because it’s the only thing you do well.
I think batgirl is just pissed because it’s obvious what’s going to happen, CIG wants to do a console version as CIG has always only been interested in money and the vast majority of the pc gamers who would buy SQ42 already have. Therefore console sales are a new source of potential cash, but she’s also pissed because CIG being CIG, it’s never going to happen, so she has the drama of CIG gradually informing the Citizens of their console intentions through her, while knowing it’s pointless drama as everything is on fire anyway.
That’s exactly it.
She’s having to placate backers (by blaming Derek Smart) for something she said about something that Sandi said about something about consoles that won’t happen anyway.
Yeah, we know that invoking “Derek Smart and the Goons” is the norm, but I think we’re at the point now whereby they really, truly believe that we are more responsible for all these screw-ups, than CIG/RSI – who have lied repeatedly to backers, and to the tune of $130 million dollars. They’re blaming one “failed jealous game developer” and a “bunch of morons on a dead gay comedy forum” for all the problems with the project; even as other sensible backers are waking up and trying to now hold Chris Roberts and CIG/RSI accountable for the mess that the project is in. This despite the fact that, all things considered, some backers have claimed to be getting more information out of myself and the Goons, than from even CIG/RSI themselves. Imagine that. The “open development” is only as open as the material they choose to share, while keeping everything else (e.g. financial accountability, state of the 2.6 and 3.0 patches etc) of relevance and importance, a big secret.
I’ve said this over and over, and I’m going to repeat it. The project is FUBAR. There is no saving it. And anyone still giving them money, continues to make the Roberts and Elms family get richer, while keeping the responsible exec level devs like Tony Z, Brian Chambers, Derek Senior et al in highly paid jobs and within the realms of “plausible deniability”.
UPDATE2: In today’s Batgirl broadcast “Ask Sandi Ep4, the lady herself chimed (30:44) in – clearly and on the record. Quote: “I mean yeah, FOR SURE, going forward, um… for STAR CITIZEN and SQUADRON 42 to go to CONSOLE. Not my decision. But that’s a whole other audience again, another… yeah… but we have… I have a different MARKETING PLAN for SQUADRON 42 which hasn’t started yet but…”
UPDATE1: Shortly after this went live, I ended up in a bit of a Twitter spat with Batgirl. Even though she only had herself to blame for what happened, she actually said “it’s on me. That is not in question. But like a piranha is the bloody fish you are to issue that promote your attacks on SC.” But yet, somehow, it’s still my fault. A Goon said it best: “Derek saying he doesn’t believe in some rumor started by an SC shill is an attack on CIG by itself”November 5, 2016 at 8:20 am #4776
STAR CITIZEN – THE LATEST FIASCO
The past few weeks following the CitizenCon event have been very difficult and dare I say disastrous for the Star Citizen project. From the post-show videos they did in an attempt to explain away why (read my Shattered Dreams blog for more on that) Squadron 42 wasn’t shown, to the controversy over lies about procgen planets, to the status of the patches (the much delayed 2.6 patch, as well as the 3.0 patch touted at GamesCom in Aug as coming end of the year), the flippant mention of SQ42 coming to consoles – and right down to last week’s uproar over the silence on the status of both aforementioned patches.
Well in the past 24hrs, things took a turn for the worse.
For some time now I have maintained that not only has Chris Roberts blown through $130 million (a huge amount, even though we have reason to believe that the funding tracker isn’t accurate) dollars of backer (plus whatever investor and bank loans source say they have) money, but has also run out of money to fund this pipe-dream to completion. Heck, at GamesCom he flat out said that 4.0 of Star Citizen – which won’t even be 50% of what was promised – won’t be out until end of 2017 – which, going by trends means “sometime in 2018”. The longer a project takes, the more money it needs to continue. And with over 400 employees and contractors worldwide, it’s easy to see how money will eventually become an issue. As of this month, the project which was promised to be released in Nov 2014, is now officially two years late.
Yet, there are those who, rather than holding them accountable for promises made, keep rejoicing in point digit milestones such as the recently reached $130m one. It’s hilarious, and now goes way beyond Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance. When the inevitable crash comes, psychologists are going to be digging deep to figure out how so many people fell so far, and so hard for what many believe to now be the biggest scam in video game history.
So anyway, given what they did with the pre-CitizenCon Polaris sale, the stunt they just pulled should come as no surprise to backers. See, ahead of the anniversary stream which is coming in two weeks, they decided to do another ship sale. This, while par for the course won’t have been all that surprising – except for the fact that i) they discounted it ii) made it cheaper if you paid cash and didn’t use store credits (obtained via melting existing ships). What that means is, not only do they need the cash (from new buyers), but they are also willing to devalue the existing backer inventory in favor of “new money”.
Think about this. They tested the waters with the Polaris ship sale in which the pre-sale was cash only. They got over $4 million by the time the dust settled on that one. So it should come as no surprise that they would go for broke and do something similar – mere months later. And the dumb backers who keep giving them money, are 100% responsible for this. Which is why I personally don’t feel sorry for any of them anymore. Myself and countless others have done our very best to point out how this whole project is a money sink dumpster fire; and anyone with more than a few brain cells, already got a refund and bailed – and many are still doing so.
I have written several blogs outlining how this whole thing is well on track to collapse, how funding is a huge on-going issue etc. By all accounts, if they hadn’t been pulling these sort of tricks to raise funding, this whole thing would have collapsed by now, rather than being delayed and propped up by a few thousand whales. If you haven’t already, you should read both my Extinction Level Event (April 2016) and The Fidelity Of Failure (June 2016) blogs. It’s all in there. Really.
And now, just like they did with previous event videos, they now ask backers who want a refund, to watch the CitizenCon video, then review their request for a refund. This backer’s response is fantastic.
Then there was that time (Feb 18th, 2016 to be exact) when Lesnick made this statement about how bad discounting ships was.
“I for one had $11,000 USD put into this project and was a proud content creator to boot making Star Citizen cinematic videos for both INN and [REDACTED]. All of which is totaly gone now with any confidence that C.I.G can pull this project off. After being part of the tech crew that visited C.I.G Austin in Feb this year to conduct recorded interviews with both the marketing and development teams I soon came to notice a repeating pattern, only that I had to sign an N.D.A I would release the details of these conversations.
Shortly after returning I had both my financial advisers and lawyer retrieve my $11,000 pledge from C.I.G. I still wish the project all the best of luck and hope this game is built, but one thing is for sure, disrespect and mislead people who have injected the cash to build your project; the REFUND option will become very real for a lot of backers.
EDIT: To the multitude of people messaging me thanking me for stepping up and telling them how it is, you are welcome.”
“I agree with the OP post completely.
I was an original vet backer, sub-10K citizen, golden ticket holder and pledger. I sunk a few hundred dollars into the game and hoped for the best. Over the years the situation went from bad to worse to something I’ve never seen before. I eventually got a refund and backed out, waiting instead to see what happens in the long term
Bottom line. I just got tired of the lies, tired of the deceit and the excuses. I don’t know if it’s a scam or not. I don’t care if DS is right or not. I do know that CIG have some real issues which they refuse to deal with and as long as people continue to fund them at the current rate, the issue will continue and the money will run out because there is no real governance or oversight at CIG other than whatever CR ‘wants’. This is no way to run a business. Its no way to design and build a game either because it completely isolates the contributions of everyone else. And as for the ‘community’… holy hell I’ve never seen such vicious alignment to extreme positions so quickly in any game community, replete with self fulfilling prophecies and delusions too. I really wanted to be part of the ‘open development process’ but that died a long time ago too.
So I wish them well. I won’t be part of the drama going forward. I hope they get sense and wake up soon in order to produce something credible.. but I honestly don’t think we will see anything in 2017. I think 2018 / 2019 is more realistic but even at that there is a fair chance the whole thing could just implode way before that… which I really hope doesn’t happen because the ramifications for future gaming kickstarters and independent/self funded options would be horrific.
Honestly though – I cannot understand anyone who would pore more money into this endeavor at this point. I really think the kindest thing we could do for CIG now is stop the flow of money and force them to just knuckle down on one single slice of the game, with a defined scope and delivery date that they can all get behind.
More money = more delusions + more delays imho“
MONTHLY STUDIO REPORT
This one was hilarious by all accounts. I mean read the thing. Aside from the fact that it was delayed due to CitizenCon, despite the “words”, they don’t appear to have made much progress since April 2016 in various areas. Which of course explains why the current 2.5 patch is a mess, the 2.5.x currently with Evocati testing is no better, 2.6 is still a no-show, and 3.0 remains a wishlist pipe dream.
Amid all this, instead of showing playable builds of the 2.6 and 3.0 patches which they claim to be working on, they are still showing stills from animations, level design, and a bunch of other inconsequential nonsense used as filler. Then yesterday, they did the worst possible thing imaginable. On the day that Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare (which is basically the first Squadron 42 killer, by all accounts) launched to critical acclaim, CIG released “exclusive” video footage from SQ42. They need no description. Here are some clips (1, 2).
So even as some backers believe that CIG have been working on both 2.6 and 3.0 patches in tandem, despite reports to the contrary, the evidence (presented by CIG themselves) is a lot clearer. The 2.6 patch and SQ42 are priority; and 3.0 – as predicted – isn’t even close to release, let alone slated for 2016. And from what sources have been telling me, nobody has any reason to believe that 3.0 will see the light of day before mid-2017. All CIG has been doing, is what they do best: lie to backers consistently and routinely; even as they continue to unveil new and inventive ways of fleecing them for more money.
It doesn’t end there. In what can only be described as “wtf?”, they also just showed mocap animations of a space janitor mopping a floor. I kid you not. Of course there’s a White dude doing the mocap, which is shown as a Black dude in the game. Yeah.
“At this point it’s obvious that Roberts isn’t selling a game anymore so much as he’s selling time. He’s shitting himself knowing that like Derek said the game as pitched will never be possible and he’s built on impossibly broken code that is going to take years to get working even a tenth of what he originally pitched. He’s selling time for himself with all the refactoring and introducing new ships and randomly breaking down new employees with vague statements saying things need fixed. He’s fucked and working on a way to get out of it with the least amount of damage to his own ego. The game has probably been second to ego preservation for quite some time now.” – Mr. Carlisle
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTNovember 19, 2016 at 8:51 am #4879
QUICK THOUGHTS ON STAR CITIZEN ANNIVERSARY STREAM 2016
The 4th quarter of each year is when CIG/RSI pulls out all the stops to raise funding. The scam campaign usually starts from GamesCom (my thoughts on 2016) in Aug, then the CitizenCon (my thoughts on 2016) in Oct; and finally closes the year with the anniversary (nobody knows of what; seeing as the campaign started in Oct, not Nov – but I digress). So this 4th anniversary stream was no different in this regard.
However, in the weeks following the disastrous CitizenCon event, a growing uprising (I wrote about that here and here) among the backers who were becoming more and more vocal, had obviously made CIG nervous. Of course they went completely radio silent on the backer dissent this whole time. Most of the complaints surrounding cash sales, discount on ships which were once high priced, delivery schedule for the 2.6 and 3.0 patches promised for year end etc.
The event itself was as boring as hell. In fact, by all accounts, it was worse than CitizenCon – if you can imagine that. A few days earlier, community manager, Lando, had tweeted that they would be playing the long awaited 2.6 patch live in the stream. So the anticipation started to build up accordingly.
It started off with a 2hr long pre-show event in which they showcased Arena Commander (the dogfighting module in the suite) and flight racing which is just another game mode that uses AC. It was as uneventful as one would expect. In fact, the only noticeable items from the list of 2.6 promises, were some minor UI changes, hardly noticeable flight dynamics, some new audio – and not much else. Even what looked like the new score leaderboards were simply broken and showed inaccurate score data.
The good part? This was all setup to run on a local LAN; which from the stream showed ping rates as high as 45 (!) ms. On a LAN. You would think that for a company building an MMO and which, as of this writing has terrible sub-par netcode, that even for a low player count they would run it across the Internet. It’s not like they don’t have 4 studios around the world – all working on the game. Heck, they even flew Tyler down from Austin to LA; as they did other streamers (e.g. Twerk17, a member of redacted who recently repeated a death threat directed at me on his stream -excerpt here – by another member of redacted) sponsored by CIG.
They subsequently had to cut the stream short and took a 3hr break. Naturally backers who were expecting to see Star Marine, were disappointed and took to Reddit and the official forums to vent.
During the wait, a source reached out to me to say that they were still having technical problems with Star Marine and that they may not even show it; though they were well aware of the ramifications of not doing so.
At some point, a series of events occurred. The first of which backers found that the prices for some ships had been increased. This appeared to be in preparation for the capital ship (Idris-P, Javelin) sales which were about to go live. Well, they went live, as did the Prowler (which looks nothing like the Copperhead ship from Final Fantasy) concept (read: JPEG) ship. These capital ships were being sold in waves in which the first wave consisted of 50 Javelins @ $2,700, and 200 Idris-Ps @ $1,300. They sold out almost immediately. As of this writing, the second wave is online and has 242 Idris-Ps left in “stock” (yeah, hilarious, I know). They made over $500K on 11/18 as a result of these sales. Remember this article about the guy who sold his fleet to finance a new car? How about the Star Citizen Grey market where these ships are bought and sold – no doubt with ill-gotten gains as per money laundering?
Then a new newsletter (which was later posted on the website) hit the inbox of backers. The TL;DR is: they need more money to finish the games promised because the $130 million (at the time) raised thus far was simply not going to be enough.
In what can only be described as utterly hilarious is that they also – for the first time ever – released something of a dev schedule for the project.
For the near term builds, they show 6 weeks past, but only 3 weeks future planning. And given all the statements they were making about Star Marine, Squadron42 etc following CitizenCon, and how they were “coming soon”, if you look at the schedule, you will see that Star Marine is targeted for release in less than two weeks; though what was shown at this stream clearly indicates otherwise. More on that later.
And even the 2.6 patch (containing Star Marine) which they played on the stream, was shown as being released to Evocati on the day (11/18) of the stream. Considering that the patch schedule is dev -> internal testing -> external (Evocati) testing -> live, how does anyone see this patch being ready for live in the short term?
And the timeline for the 3.0 patch (which sources had told me simply doesn’t exist) which Chris had gone on two recent events and said was coming by end of the year; even though he knew the statement to be patently false, is clearly nowhere in the near term schedule. In fact, it doesn’t even have a schedule. Just a listing similar to the Powerpoint slides that he has used at the two previous events. The Squadron 42 game which was coming in 2015, then 2016, and pushed into 2017, doesn’t appear in the schedule either.
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When the stream came back at 1pm PST/4pm EST, as my source had indicated, they were still having technical problems with Star Marine. They started off with more Arena Commander, more racing, ship sale shilling akin to Home Shopping Network, some talk about the lore (none of which made a lick of sense to anyone but Chris); then finally Star Marine. Even then they still couldn’t get it running. So they had another delay during which Lesnick proceeded with the usual nonsensical bullshit he’s notorious for.
For what amounted to a 4 hr stream, the highly anticipated Star Marine session came at the end (starts @1:37 and ends @1:59) – and lasted for all of 20 mins.
The less said about the controversial Star Marine, the better. It was just so embarrassing. The most depressing part for backers is that it looked a lot worse that anything they had shown in previous years, and which were built by Illfonic (no longer on the project). Seriously CIG has succeeded in licensing a top-notch CryTek engine built for fps games, and found themselves unable to actually make an fps from it. None of the innovation promised these past years are in it. Not a single (vaulting <— lol) item. What they have now shown and coming to backers in 2.6 is barely different from the fps module currently in main Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe) game. It is devoid of any innovation or anything that would try to pass for a module in a game that’s 4+ years and over $130 million in the making. You can go right now on Steam and pick any fps game in Early Access (e.g. Angels Fall First) and see better multiplayer fps. Forget about the slew of top notch triple-A fps games which recently came out, with others being released in the coming months.
Also forget about it being pre-Alpha and all that, we get it. What we don’t get is, who exactly thought that what they have now shown as coming was worthy of the wait and almost 2 year delay? The end result is that this is just one more check box from the list of promises and which, regardless of how they do it, can now be considered as delivered to backers. Bear in mind that this module was once canceled and Chris went on to say that he gets annoyed when backers bring it up because they were already playing it in the PU. Yeah.
The Squadron 42 demo/trailer which they said was “coming soon” but which they claimed wasn’t quite ready for CitizenCon, was of course a no-show. No, we didn’t see that coming – at all. Especially since I had said that it was all lies; and which sources had confirmed was in no shape to be shown live. So Chris lied again. And of course following the show, backers are now again discussing that very same issue.
So what did backers get?
- More production work on a shilling video designed to sell ships and raise money
- A wonky and completely unfinished 2.6 play through which doesn’t even have 50% of what was promised
- A 20 min play through of an unfinished and sub-par Star Marine which doesn’t even have 10% of what was promised
- A dev schedule which is barely pandering, neither contains meaningful data nor schedules for the entire project of both games
- No 3.0 patch which was promised as “before end of the year” since GamesCon in August
- No Squadron 42 demo which was promised and claimed to be “coming soon” following CitizenCon in Oct
Then they followed all this up by breaking yet another promise they had previously made to backers, by putting back on sale a slew of “rare” ships they said would never be sold again. Then they increased the prices to boot.
IF IT SOUNDS LIKE A SCAM, LOOKS LIKE A SCAM, FEELS LIKE A SCAM…
For sometime now I have been saying that they simply couldn’t build the game as pitched, but that even if they had the tech and the talent, that it would take a very long time and a lot (I had estimated $150+ million) of money to do it. They neither have the tech, nor the talent. And now they no longer have the time or money; which is why they keep using all these tricks to keep milking the few whales still giving them money due to Sunk Cost Fallacy.
This now released dev schedule which only spans 2.6 through to 4.0 (slated for end of 2017) and which accounts for barely 30% of what was promised in terms of gameplay features, should be of grave concern to any backer who was previously on the fence. It shows a game with an 8 to 10 year development span; of which they have already chewed through 4 (if you give them a pass on 2011 preparation which would make it have made it 5) years. And considering that they have never – ever – met a single milestone schedule in 4 years, it’s safe to say that this dev schedule now shared in that ludicrous “open development” nonsense, is just pandering (through blatant lies) to gullible whales in much the same manner in which they’ve used tech demos these past years to achieve the same results. Heck, back when Arena Commander was first released, they promised regular dev scheduled dates. They went with it for a whole two months – then stopped. Then they released 2.0 last Dec with the promise of “monthly” incremental patch updates. Yeah, that didn’t happen either. Then he stopped given dates entirely. Until he started again. Then promptly missed every – single – one to date. Here we are. Again.
It gets worse. Given their average crowd-funding starting from when they were lean to ramping up to over 400+ people across 4 studios, it stands to reason that there is no way they are going to keep raising $30+ million a year to keep this farce going for as long as it takes to get some version of the two promised games in a released state. And the release of Squadron 42 which is now squarely into some unknown date next year, isn’t going to change anything.
By his very conduct and statements, Chris Roberts is clearly a liar and scam artist. This whole project has now devolved into what many believe to be a massive scam in which millions of dollars have been taken from the gamers who crowd-funded this project; not to mention the bankers and investors who have had a hand in funding it. And when it collapses, it will have long term ramifications for the gaming industry, not to mention crowd-funding itself.December 21, 2016 at 8:56 am #5094
QUICK THOUGHTS ON STAR CITIZEN HOLIDAY STREAM 2016
Wow. The less written about the holiday stream on Dec 16th, the better. It was an absolute disaster. To the extent that shortly after, not only did they pull the stream (copy over here) from YouTube, but they also proceeded to wipe out any/all dissent (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) from the official RSI forums. Of course Reddit – where only the hardcore Shitizens have some level of control – was ablaze. The media (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) had a field day with this one; and Imperium News (<— LOL!!) has a pretty good write-up about the fiasco and resulting fallout.
My prediction for the stream was so accurate that I was astonished.
- croberts will recite, then write a cringe-worthy missive asking for money, making excuses, making new promises for 2017
- 2.6 will be delayed; and if they are smart, pushed into 2017. the schedule will be updated to reflect this
- they will play 2.6 Star Marine on local LAN because doing it across the internet – the environment it was designed for – is shite
- no meaningful SQ42 reveal – of any kind
- no meaningful 3.0 reveal – of any kind
- croberts will recite, then write a cringe-worthy missive asking for money, making excuses, making new promises for 2017 CALLED IT! // see latest newsletter
- 2.6 will be delayed; and if they are smart, pushed into 2017. the schedule will be updated to reflect this CALLED IT!
- they will play 2.6 Star Marine on local LAN because doing it across the internet – the environment it was designed for – is shite it was 8v8 (the max before CE3 falls over) over the Internet. so much for 12v12
- no meaningful SQ42 reveal – of any kind CALLED IT!
- no meaningful 3.0 reveal – of any kind CALLED IT!
As I had warned several weeks before, not only did they not show anything of Squadron 42, let alone the much touted 3.0 patch, but the whole stream was devoid of any meaningful content. Remember back during CitizenCon when Chris Roberts stated that the SQ42 demo was mere days away, but they didn’t want to risk showing it? Well, we knew that – like always – he was lying then. So it came as no surprise to most of us that SQ42 was still a no-show. In fact, I wrote about that in this blog and in this musing.
To further compound the problem, the dev schedule – which they’ve been tinkering (1, 2, 3) with and making material changes to as they remove several promised features – which they made public a few weeks after CitizenCon in order to appease gamers, didn’t get updated until a few hours ahead of the stream; and to show that the 2.6 patch was again delayed to Dec 22nd.
The community manager didn’t even do a community post ahead of the stream; even as the forum denizens were getting nervous about what that would mean. Then shortly around the same time the stream went live, a newsletter from Chris Roberts went out. The hilarious part?
“After we made the decision before CitizenCon that the Squadron 42 vertical slice wasn’t ready to be shown publically, we spent some time on reviewing how far off we were and what we wanted to achieve in order to be comfortable showing a full chapter of S42 gameplay. After all the effort we expended for CitizenCon, we didn’t want to spend additional developer time polishing intermediate solutions if it wasn’t going towards the final product. A slick demo isn’t that helpful if it pushes back the finished game, so we decided that the priority should be completing full systems over getting the vertical slice into a showable state.“
Basically the only highlight of the stream – if you can call it that – was that they got to play 8v8 Star Marine in the much delayed 2.6 build. It looked no better than a glorified CryEngine mod; and played even worse. Seriously, 4-5 years in dev and almost $140 million dollars, they can’t build an FPS module using a custom build of an engine built specifically for FPS games. It’s amazing. In fact, Star Marine was MIA for much of the year; and even Chris Roberts went public and said that it was just a game mode, that backers were already playing it etc. There was a huge furor over that. Then due to what can only be attributed to a complete lack of any meaningful progress in 2016, they decided to resurrect it as a standalone module. And aside from being complete rubbish, is largely broken.
Of course during the stream they had the usual ship sales to continue raising money. Most backers weren’t having any of it; so their funding continued to tank. It’s hilarious to even talk about raising money at this point. This was a game that needed less then $5M. Then it was $12M. So far they have raised almost $140 million; and having run out of money (according to several sources), time, and amid dwindling resources and high level studio departures, dodgy corporate shenanigans etc, the conclusion is that they simply can’t build the game they promised.
Then, shortly after the stream ended, they finally released the 2.6 from Evocati to the Public Test Universe server. It was invite only of course. It completely broke the live 2.5 version, leaving other backers who have no access to either Evocati or the PTU, with a game they can no longer play. In fact, the only way to play 2.6 now is either if you are in the invitation only Evocati (800 invites), PTU (waves of four invites), or if you are a subscriber ($10 per month). Basically, with 2.5 flat out broken for most backers, if you don’t get an invite to 2.6, or you are not a subscriber, you have to pay $10 to gain immediate access to the game you already paid for. And they have no incentive to fix 2.5. So yeah.
So once again, with the Dec 22nd deadline looming, and knowing that 2.6 simply isn’t ready for wide release, as they did with the 2.0 release in Dec 2015 which was broken and didn’t work for weeks, they’re about to do the same thing by releasing it live to all backers. Except this time, 2.6 is a lot worse, and doesn’t contain any meaningful update.
As of this writing, with 2.6 MIA and 3.0 still a pipe dream, these are the major releases this year since 2.0 was released in Dec 2015
And during this period, these are ALL the Star Marine updates. Yet, here we are, over a year later, and they still can’t get it working.
Five years in dev. Two (!) years overdue. $140 million given by backers. No game delivered.
UPDATE: Beer4TheBeerGod finally got a refund!!
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