- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am#4548
- May 24, 2017 at 9:34 am #5263
STAR CITIZEN MULTIPLAYER INSTANCING
In my Irreconcilable Differences blog, I wrote extensively about the instancing issue and how they stand very little chance of ever getting past the broken underlying architecture that they currently have in StarEngine. In a Feb 2017 interview, Erin Roberts made the following comment:
“So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.“
- They have no clue what they’re doing.
- When they do get a clue, it would be revealed to them that they have to gut their entire networking layer to implement what they are aiming for.
- They’re fucked. Completely.
“so we were reading that this dynamic local instancing will try it’s best to put you in the same instance as friends and people/ things of interest. so if you were a pirate, and were following your prey.. are you guaranteed to jump into the same instance or is there a chance it’s all in vein and you lose them? based on yall’s dynamic local instancing system?“
“In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader(1). Matchmaking tries to put you in the same instance as your friends, but beyond that it is luck of the draw which instance you will end up in(2). However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance(3).
There quite a few engineering hurdles we need to overcome before this can happen. Server performance needs to improve a lot, so there are several tasks to address this that are either currently underway or in the schedule(4). This will only get us so far though, and won’t be enough to fill a solar system with players and NPCs. To go further we are going to have to connect multiple servers together in something we’re calling a “server mesh.” Each server will take on the processing load for a region of space, and these regions will adjust their boundaries to best balance that load with their neighbors. You will be able to see (and fire) across the boundary from one server to another, and, as you fly through space, will move seamlessly from one server to another(5). We will also be able to dynamically add and remove servers to suit the current level of demand. This technology will allow us to scale almost without limit while keeping everyone in the same instance(6).
The problem we still need to figure out is how to handle everyone heading to the same place at the same time. I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution to that one, so it may require some game mechanic to prevent too many players congregating in the same place(7).
TL;DR – yes, once all the pieces are in place and the kinks have been worked out, you’ll be able to stalk your prey, and should always be in the same instance.”
Let me break it all down:
- I know for a fact, as do most backers who are actually playing this right now, that the server can’t handle more than 8 clients within the same locale without falling over. Let alone anywhere near 24 clients in Crusader (introduced in 2.0 released in Q4/2015), which is the core of the Star Citizen that started the “Persistent Universe”. Area 18, a glorified shopping center, can handle more players because, well, there’s nothing to do there except move around, look at, buy stuff etc.
- This is a glaring Red flag. There are lots of games, even those built with SteamWorks, that allow some form of grouping agnostic matchmaking, even for instanced games. For six years, since they started using cloud servers, they didn’t think that implementing the ability for clients to group, then all launch in the same instance, was a priority. Elite Dangerous, which also uses instancing, had this same issue during alpha and beta cycles. They address it with features such as Wing Beacons, nav-lock, private grouping etc. In fact, read this Elite: Dangerous’ 3,000-player battle royale article.
- This one is a head-scratcher. I hope that his use of “everyone” means those wanting to group with their friends in the same instance. If that’s not the case, then we’re back to the “they have no fucking clue” part, because there is no way they can get “everyone” in the same “instance”.
- Whatever that schedule is, it’s not public. The current schedule which goes all the way to 3.2, has no mention of anything related to any of what he wrote. In fact, the entire schedule page has 12 instances related to network implementation and/or revision; and none of those entries mentions anything like that. Not. One. Thing.
- This is all wishful thinking. If six years into the development of an MMO, you don’t have this stuff already completed or in progress, chances are it’s either never going to get done in the short-term (delays cost money, and when money runs out, the project is dead), or there was never an intention to actually do it. Make no mistake, everything he said there, are things that both Chris and Erin have said in the past.The reality is that it is simply not possible with their current networking framework which was built around CryEngine 3.7. And LumberYard (based on CryEngine 3.8), isn’t going to give them that because it too does not have support for any of that. They would have to build it themselves. Just like how Frontier did it for Elite Dangerous, and how we did it (FYI we don’t use instancing; so our server-to-server hops are live) for Line Of Defense.For one thing, they have touted this whole “seamless” 64-Bit space, which is one large “scene”. For them to do any sort of population control, they would have to split it up into boundaries. And each of those would then need to have a set of criteria that determines how many clients are allowed in there. And that involves a significant amount of work involving proxy server connections, data aggregation & collection, etc. The way we did pop-loc in LoD, is similar to how Planetside did it. You set a limit on the number of clients in a scene, then don’t allow any further connections until someone dies, drops off etc. And this is possible when you have low-level control – right from the start – of the scene management structure. In our Wide Span Global architecture we built this from the start so that each space or planet “scene” is controlled by a server connection. And that server is the arbiter that controls how clients can enter via jump anomalies (Dynamic Jump Pad, Jump Gate, high altitude insertion from space). If you try to enter a scene (e.g. Heatwave planetary base from Lyrius space) that has reached it’s server configured client limit, you’re stuck in Lyrius, and will have to keep trying. The messaging is all done from the connection interface for the jump anomaly which talks directly to the server. And this was all done right from the start and before we even had complete dynamics for fps, space craft, and vehicles in the game.And if they do manage to actually build all of that, they have a different problem. Players can EVA. So if they allow, say 64 clients per instance, guess what happens when you have 64 ships and 64 players in EVA. And that’s just assuming 1 player crew per ship. Imagine the hilarity if you have passengers, and cargo. And ships are shooting, EVA players are shooting. LMAO!! I can’t even.Let’s not even get into the whole issue with localized physics grids, which allow players to move around inside their space chariots in fps mode. That’s got it’s own performance and networking issues which are currently part of the problem they are faced with.
- Yeah, this is the part where any developer would start laughing. Basically, “scaling” implies “limits”. And when it comes to networking architecture, there is no such thing as “without limits”.
- And therein lies the rub that negates everything he said previously. Note the use of the phrases “will allow”, “still need to”, “how to”, “not sure” etc.If you have your pol-loc sorted out, there is no requirement to figure out how to handle “everyone heading to the same place at the same time”. The fact of the matter is that if you allow 64 clients per instance/shard, you should be prepared for the inevitable scenario that all of them are likely to end up in the same place at some point. Elite Dangerous planned for this, right off the bat. Which is why sessions in which over 900 players journeyed to Sagittarius A, was possible.Saying “I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution” simply means that, as I said, they really have no clue what they’re doing with this game. There is absolutely no way to prevent all server allowed players from being at the same area at the same time. Which is why, even though they claim that Crusader can support 24 players theoretically, all it takes is for more than 8 players to be in the same local area for the server to croak and it all becomes unplayable.
This game was never supposed to be an MMO. And it wasn’t pitched as one. And Chris has gone on the record several times, even after all the stretch goals funding were met back in Nov 2014 at $65 million, saying that it wasn’t. And the stretch goals have no such indication or implication that they were building an MMO. Somewhere along the line, because of scope creep and promises made as they pulled every trick in the book to keep raising money from gullible backers, it morphed into an MMO because that’s the only game model that would support some of the things they were promising. And they’re doing all this despite the fact that they neither have the tech, nor the talent, or the time and money to pull it off.
At this point, as I’ve shown above, if they don’t have the framework for their future networking model already in and working in some fashion, there is absolutely no way they’re going to have time to gut what they have now, and implement a proper solution. Something they should have done from the very start. Now it’s too late. And they are still making promises they can’t keep, even as they continue to defer* promised features into a post-release schedule.
My guess is that the current networking layer is going to remain as-is for quite some time, as they continue to build other features and systems on top of it. Then if by some miracle they survive (they won’t) long enough to actually get around to it, all that stuff they are building on top of a network layer they have to replace, will either have to be ripped out, or modified to support whatever it is they need to do in order to support their long term goals.
All of this means that even if they are around long enough for a 4.0 schedule to go live, and it does include the major networking features they need to make what they plan work, until then, backers are still going to be stuck with 8 player clients in Star Citizen. I can’t wait to see what happens when 3.0 goes live with the two moons. It’s going to be hilarious. Maybe they’ll shock everyone and have 6 clients running in Crusader without problems.
Anyone who still has hopes that this project is ever going to be completed, let alone as promised, is delusional. Meanwhile, it’s Sandi’s birthday, and apparently they’re in Monaco again this year. Paid for with backer money of course.
* Modding is out. Private servers are out. And a litany of other things are either not in progress, or have been deferred. The latest being the docking collar support for ships (e.g. Cutlass) that have that feature, and which were sold with it during the 2012 Kickstarter campaign if you pledged $110 or more. So instead of having two modes of docking, one which was a big draw for backers who bought the ships that were designed to support it, they will now have only one, whereby you have to EVA in order to board another ship. So if you’re looking to fulfill your dreams of boarding another ship, weapons armed, like in The Expanse, Interstellar or similar movies, ain’t gonna happen. Like ever.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article went live, some backers were trying to say that “building an MMO” out of Star Citizen, was the $3m stretch goal because it says:
“Citizens with appropriate packages will receive access to the Star Citizen universe with 40 star systems for persistent online play upon release.”
That’s the single most ridiculous thing I have ever read about this issue. People listen: “persistent online play” does not, and never did, imply that the game will be an MMO. Heck, even CIG themselves proved this point when they released Star Citizen 2.0 in Q4/15 and called it “Persistent Universe”, when in fact, nothing about the game is persistent, other than player stats stored and retrieved from a database. By this definition, they are implying that games with leaderboards, stats saving, are all MMO games because they have persistent stats save/restore features. Which would make every Call Of Duty or Battlefield game an MMO. The Star Citizen universe isn’t persistent. It’s an instance. When the instance closes, everything shuts down. I wrote about this extensively in my Star Citizen – Condition Red blog from May 2016.May 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm #5256
STAR CITIZEN HITS $150 MILLION CROWD-FUNDING MARK
So today another of my Star Citizen predictions has come true.
By the virtues of about 2000 whales still funding this train-wreck, and who just spent over $500K+ buying the latest $250 concept ship JPEG (seriously, it’s not a model, and is not in the game. It’s just an image of a ship), Star Citizen crossed the $150 million mark. At this point, though several sources have claimed that the funding chart is grossly inaccurate, we have to continue to go with the number they are showing to the public.
- They couldn’t build the game as pitched. So far, with all the stuff they’ve cut or botched, this is playing out to be true. In year six, they still don’t even have 25% of one game, let alone two games. And they had a delivery date of Nov 2014, with a 12, then 18 month delay period to May 2016. Even though Chris Roberts had said numerous times that increased stretch goals won’t affect the delivery timeline, the game is now officially over three years late. Remember that at $65 million raised in Nov 2014, both games – including all stretch goals – were 100% funded.
- They needed a robust custom engine to do it. In 2016, we come to find out that they were making the switch from StarEngine (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.7 to Lumberyard (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.8). As I wrote in my Irreconcilable Differences blog, they evaluated this engine throughout 2016 without notifying backers because they knew that it may cause some concern. In the Dec 2016 release of the 2.6 patch, it was finally noticed when they switched from Google’ Compute cloud services to Amazon’s AWS cloud services (via the LumberYard implementation).
- They needed a stellar team with the experience. So far, a lot of talented people, including several third-party studios, have come and gone. Those left have never – ever – developed any massive game before, let alone an MMO. Meanwhile, some of those who are left are parroting the same lies that Chris has been telling backers regarding the true state of the project. The most recent being that whole argument about how the switch to LumberYard took days and that it was already finished. Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Sean Tracey, and Ben Parry, among others, are on the record supporting this lie. Even though several sources (both past and present) working on this very same project, have stated that it’s all patently false, that they have been having serious problems with the switch, that it has completely skewed their schedule etc. For example, the latest schedule released today, delays the project by almost 50% since it first went online on April 14th, 2017. And one of those listed delays is related to their merging of the volumetric fog from the LumberYard engine into their own custom build.
- Even if they had all of the above, that they couldn’t possibly do it for less than $150 million. Well, here we are at that amount, and still not even 25% of a game, let alone two games.
Meanwhile, even with the events playing in the background regarding their financial situation (which various sources say is dire), their on-going attempts to seek additional outside funding, and quite possibly to sell off to a third-party (I still don’t believe the Amazon rumors btw), as they have done in the past, they continue to keep backers in the dark. What’s going to be interesting is that several weeks from now when it all goes public, as I expect that it will, people are going to wonder what Chris Roberts knew, and when he knew it.
Make no mistake, raising money isn’t a crime. And if you have a group of naive people willing to give it to you, even though your project is super late, isn’t even out of pre-Alpha in year six, recently made a critical engine switch, and still doesn’t even have 25% (that’s being generous) of the features promised, you should take the money and run.
For the rest of you sensible ones still putting in for refunds (this is a $4,300 refund from today) to get off this train-wreck, rest assured that in the coming months you will see what most of us have been saying.April 21, 2017 at 10:06 am #5254
It’s just amazing to think that things are so very desperate over at CIG at this point, six years, and almost $147 million later. For a project that had over 4x the amount of money needed to complete the two games promised. Not to mention Roberts claiming several times that they had healthy reserves – then changing that to say if money ran out, sales of SQ42 would then fund Star Citizen. It’s mind-boggling what is now unfolding.
In this latest AtV broadcast, amid the on-going money grab, what appears to be IP infringement, the desperation, backer revolt etc it’s hard not to see the signs of a project that is on life support and, according to sources, mere months away from a catastrophic collapse (apparently for real this time) due to lack of funding, departure of key team members, general internal dissent etc.
Oh where to begin?
NEW STAR CITIZEN REFERRAL PROGRAM
“Earn a free trip to GamesCom 2017 and other great rewards with our all new RSI 2017 Referral Contest! Simply gain referral points by sharing your Star Citizen referral code with friends. Each friend who pledges to Star Citizen using your referral code earns you one referral point.”
So they introduced a new referral system. You would think that since backers have given them so much money these past years, that it would be more favorable to them. But why would they do that, when after all they already have their money; and by the looks of it, backers aren’t exactly throwing money at them like they used to?
I don’t even know where to begin with this one; so I will just defer to the backers who are rightfully – once again – pissed (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) about some dumb crap that CIG has pulled. Yes, it’s basically a lottery for billionaires.
Aside from this being new referrals only, not only does this screw the pre-existing backers (hardcore or not) and is skewed toward affiliated streamers – who aren’t even playing (some are totally pissed) the game like they used to – but it also highlights two things: 1) the desperation to bring in new money 2) that CIG doesn’t give a damn about existing backers who got them this far.
LOL! Watch the RSI 2017 Referral Contest broadcast clip; and do stay for the comments – and dislikes.
And as expected, the fact that they referenced those streamers at the end of the broadcast, made them shoot to the top of the referral leaderboard, almost immediately.
The most hilarious part of this? The 2932 referral pledges required to “win” a ticket to Gamescom in Germany, amounts to $131,940 (2932 x $45) based on the current minimum pledge for the game. The website says “minimum value of $40” for a pledge, though the actual minimum – as of this writing – is $45 for a copy of Star Citizen or Squadron 42.
And the contradictions in the terms and conditions are amazing…
“As a supporter of Star Citizen, this “contest” is complete utter BS and a slap in the face to the community.
The only people who can possibly win it are content creators, despite it being billed as something you can do “even with 0 referals right now”. Want to know what’s even better? They cherry picked a few in their latest ATV and showed their referral codes, effectively putting them in the lead.
There is nothing here for normal backers using referrals to get their friends into the game. What about more rewards for them? Why couldn;t the prize be a random draw for anyone who has at least 1 referral?
This is not a community contest, it’s a competition between content creators that pits them against their own communties as well as those of others. If I were a content creator I would boycott this out of principle.
To me it’s another example of CiG taking the community for granted. Like I said, I may be a strong supporter of the game but I will never forget how they conveniantly waited until the very last minute to announce a Squadron 42 delay in the presentation they were meant to show it in during Citizencon. People travelled from all over the world to come see that!
We never got an actual apology for that. Nor did we get an apology for the awful holiday livestream (which they have tried to erase all existance of). So I am not expecting one for this either.
I expect so much better from a company that tries to put on an image of being so close with its community. I sincerely hope it’s mostly just a few morons in marketing.”
And the most upvoted topic on Reddit: CIG Your Marketing is Too Far Ahead of Itself
It gets better…
STAR KITTEN MEETS HELLO KITTY
“Meet Sally, the “star” of the Star Kitten lineup. Sally loves speed racing across the verse with her friends. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To Sally, all that matters is fun and friendship.
Created by venerable animation auteur Genady Kuzo, the Star Kitten animated series first premiered in 2932 and immediately warmed the hearts of citizens of all ages. To celebrate Sally’s fifteenth birthday, her image will be licensed on a special edition UEE tee and a Drake Dragonfly. Get your Sally Star Kitten gear while you still can!”
If you noticed the new Star Kitten mascot from the referrals link, I know what you’re thinking. And yes, you’re right. That looks suspiciously like Hello Kitty and similar. This is yet another blatant act of wanton IP infringement which has plagued this project for so many years; several of which I have written about. I mean, seriously, take a look at this.
Not sure how long this “Star Kitten – another decision that makes the game worse” Spectrum thread will remain, but it’s there for now.
Oh there’s more where that came from…
BANU MEET GROOT
This one speaks for itself. First, watch the broadcast segment. Then stare in amazement at the “similarities”.
Aside from the fact that, six years later, there isn’t a SINGLE unique or innovative thing about this project, it has basically ended up being a cornucopia of every darn sci-fi trope you could think of; right down to the Starship Trooper’s premise of conscripting of shit..erm, citizens into military service.
BANU DEFENDER MEETS….
The latest concept ship they just started selling, isn’t original either. If you recognize it, that’s because it’s similar to ships from various other IP include Halo, Planetside 2, Prometheus etc. Heck, even games like Wipeout and others. Here is an entire album of similarities.
DESPERATE TIMES, CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES
It has to be noted that when we’re talking about a crowd-funded project which had raised more than enough money to build and release the project, talking about on-going fundraising efforts, seems a bit off. I mean, think about it. If you asked for $500K to build a specific game, got $2.5 million, then subsequently increased the scope which raised $65 million – then got almost $150 million to build the same game, why would you need to keep raising money – often through desperate measures (and blatant lies)? The answer is that, not only can they not build the game promised, which has been blatantly obvious since I said so back in 2015, but also that the longer it takes, the more the risk of running out of money. Hence the need to keep raising money.
Remember back in 2013 when he said he could make “the same game for a fifth of the revenue, a fifth of the sales, and I can be more profitable, and I can exist on lower unit sales” ? Yeah, me too.
And when you’ve front-loaded a significant portion of the revenue in pre-sales – especially when you consider that most games don’t even make $150 million in their lifetime – the room to grow is very small. Then you have to consider on-going hosting and maintenance costs (the entire game is hosted on cloud servers), as well as employee/contractor costs. This room to grow, which is rapidly shrinking due to all kinds of factors, aside from bad press, backer revolt & refunds, employee/contractor dissent etc, is all the difference between a sudden catastrophic shutdown of this project, and the ability to actually ship a final product.
I wrote about this in my recent missive, as it pertains to the 3.0 schedule which, conservatively puts the game – if they have the money – somewhere in the 2022 time period for them to deliver 100% of both the games promised. They’re never – ever – going to pull that off. Even the free fly periods they’ve been running these past months, are duds; streamers are hardly playing the game, aside from periodic updates – the media stopped giving a shit back in 2015 etc.
Back in July 2015 I said that “There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.” Looking back two years later – despite the fact that we know the funding counter is bullshit – not only are they at $147 million – but they don’t even have 15% of the games promised. I was probably too conservative. Those backers who say things like “they can take as long as they like; that’s the beauty of no publisher“, have no clue what they’re talking about. The project will run out of money long before 2022.
And like every major build (e.g. 2.0 from Dec 2015) before it, if they eventually release what resembles a 3.0 promised, that too will fail to make a dent – for all the same reasons. I can’t wait for when they do release planetary (well, moons) access, it ends up being “just another level”, with nothing to do on it – just like current PU. Some backers simply don’t realize that all CIG is now doing, is releasing the bare minimum of what they promised – leaving them largely broken – but with the plausible deniability that goes with having released something, but with no guarantee of performance. It’s ingenious if you ask me. Just look at the other modules: Hangar, Arena Commander, Star Marine, Star Citizen Actual (aka PU) and just think about that for a minute. Last we checked, even with the much touted “over one million backers”, Star Marine averaged less than 25 people playing it. For an entire month. Remember back at $100 million when Chris said it would be “more lethal than Call Of Duty“. Yeah, me too.
While trying and failing (FYI Plastc after raising over $9 million, just collapsed 1, 2) to build a project isn’t illegal, what is illegal are things like unjust enrichment, fraudulent conversation, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion etc. All the things that State and Fed officials tend to look at when investigating the collapse of such high profile ventures. It simply won’t matter that they “tried“. It won’t matter that they had all those “disclosures” in the ToS about performance, delivery etc. What will matter – pay attention here – is that they only raised $2.5 million via crowd-funding, and to this point, over $145 million via pre-orders. There is a very clear legal distinction here, and which, as seen in the recent Lily drone fiasco, will make all the difference in the end. It’s ironic that this “Crowdfunding: Potential Legal Disaster Waiting To Happen” Forbes article, came out the same month that Star Citizen crowd-funding hit Kickstarter.
Through various sources, I am aware of several behind-the-scenes things are going on at CIG/RSI; not just here in the US, but also in the UK. While I could find a million ways to justify making them public, I decided that it was prudent not to do so – for the greater good. As I said in my latest “The Money Laundromat” blog, there is no way they can away with any excuse for not shipping these two games. Now that their very own employees and contractors, both past and present, are said to be talking to officials, it’s only a matter of time now before we see what’s going to happen.
Until then, my advice remains the same; if you feel that you’ve been misled, or no longer feel confident that they will deliver on promises, get a refund. They can neither refuse, nor provide any legal reason for not granting it. And if you want to wait and see what happens in the end, there’s nothing wrong with that either – it’s your money. Just remember one thing, if you’ve been using the Grey market and the project’s lax buy/sell mechanics to launder money, you’re going to get caught because every single piece of data collected by CIG/RSI, can be obtained by State and Fed officials, or any citizen engaged in a lawsuit with them. Just remember that.
Finally, as I’ve done before in the past with the FTC and DCBA links, I have been asked to share these details for those who, like the other crowd-funding scams, want to file a complaint with the State attorney in CA. Note that, as CIG are currently giving refunds, the DCBA office (which made that possible), has already done their part in this.April 18, 2017 at 6:04 pm #5238
THE STAR CITIZEN 3.0 SCHEDULE IS OUT
“..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.” – Chris Roberts, GamesCom, Aug 19, 2016 @ 23:36
So between Aug, 2016 and the 3.0 schedule (amid much fanfare), the 3.0 is now stated to be coming June 29th, 2017. That’s 10 months since Gamescom; and 6 months since Dec 2016.
Yet, shortly after raising over $22 million (see below) between Aug-Dec based on those LIES; right after that, in Jan, they started talking about “doing a 3.0 schedule”. And then on April 14, 2017, they released it. Remember the old one, from back when they were raising money during the holidays?.
Amounts raised Aug-Dec 2016
Someone said it best:
“You have to admire them. They’ve reduced the next major deliverable to a ‘schedule’ of an actual deliverable that’s a year or more overdue. It’s a masterclass in misdirection“
Meanwhile, over on Reddit.
“Is it ok to say Im disappointed? Because Im disappointed. Glad to have the schedule, but now I have some serious questions which I kinda feel like everyone is glossing over, and god knows CIG wont answer…
How did things fall so incredibly behind? Im struggling to understand how we went from a predicted release of 3.0 full Stanton system roughly end of 2016 to a drastically cut down 3.0 ‘light’ almost 6 months later? And even the 3.0 light… the jesus patch network code might not make it in?
Its one thing to say delays happen, but seriously, what the hell happened? A almost year delay assuming it will definitely not release on their july estimate this year. Thats some serious additional development costs and overrun. I dont care who you are in the dev business, that cost is going to be significant to the overall cost. An extra year of development costs is nothing to sneeze at. Especially considering the gravy train of crowdfunding dollars wont last forever.
Downvote me all you want, but it needs to be said. How did things get thrown so far off?”
Chris Roberts also wrote another newsletter to go with it.
“3.0 represents a giant jump in gameplay potential from the code in the 2.x branch. For a start, it will contain about nine months of our main development branch beyond 2.6.x as well as almost two years of Planetary Tech development that the Frankfurt Engine team embarked on in the last half of 2015.”
Oh, there’s a monthly studio report as well.
Aside from the fact that sources are still telling me that it’s all smoke and mirrors – as always – this 3.0 schedule, amid much fanfare, is the same build that Chris went up on stage in Aug 2016 and LIED about when he said the patch was in progress, and being released on|before Dec 19th, 2016. I wrote about that extensively in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016; amid several smaller subsequent posts (1, 2) since that time.
Yet, after raising all that money to the end of 2016, come Jan 2017, they started talking about “working on the 3.0 schedule“. You know, a schedule for a build they were supposedly going to release months earlier.
Now, not only is this 3.0 schedule basically 2.7 in disguise, but it’s also missing several (e.g. mining (LOL!! see the official statement), planets) components they’ve been promising and touting for years now. And it also pushes the project well into 2018. If they even survive that long – and have the money – it’s safe to say that it’s a 2020 game. But none of that matters because not only is what they’ve now promised never seeing the light of day, even if you added leeway for delays, you’d end up well into Q4/2017. And assuming they complete it, well, you’d be looking at barely 25% (need I mention that 3.0 now only contains 3 moons, no planets – and not even 1% of the promised 100 star systems?) of the game they promised. Not including SQ42.
Notice how every task in the schedule appears to have started in April? Yeah, me too.
With CIG it has been more about marketing and showmanship, than about building a “game“. And that trend continues here, in that they even made a video – about a watered down schedule that’s now almost a year late. The same thing they did back when they made a video – ahead of telling backers that the SQ42 demo promised for CitizenCon 2016, had been scrapped “at the last minute”.
Back in Feb 2017, I wrote that several key team members had left the project; as they have been doing throughout 2016. Because Shitizens (toxic Star Citizen backers waging an Internet war of attrition against dissent) tend to attack them, and me; I had stopped giving out the names of departing parties. In that missive, I mentioned that Behavior Interactive were no longer working on the project. This has now been confirmed, two months later.
“And that’s precisely why they have not only been downsizing gradually (lots of departures in Q4/16 and in the new year) without making any noise (rumors are that Behavior Interactive is the latest third-party studio no longer working on the project) , but also said to be converting some employees to contractors. The latter is clearly an attempt to not only save money, but also save money and image because contractors don’t have the same termination protections, benefits etc as employees. And contractors, like third-party studios, can come and go without fanfare. It’s also why they have to keep using all kinds of tricks (cash-only sales, sales of JPEG ships with zero chance of making it into the game, R&D demos posing as actual game code etc) to keep raising money. Even though the project has already been funded by almost 3x what was originally needed – even after the vision 2.0 scope creep.”
So with this 3.0 news, it’s finally official that Behavior Interactive (like Illfonic and others who never got to see the project to completion) were in fact no longer on the project.
“We had originally hoped to deliver most of the Stanton Landing Zones with the first release of Planetary Tech, but that proved optimistic once the talented team at Behaviour, who had built ArcCorp, Levski, Grim HEX and had begun work on the remaining landing zones of Stanton, moved off Star Citizen and onto another Behaviour project in December. We had been steadily shifting our reliance away from external resources and we felt it would be unfair to block them from the opportunity to work on their own game. Unfortunately, replacing an Environment team of over 20 is no small task, which has set back the progress we had originally planned to make on the landing zones of Stanton.”
Notice how, as was the case of Illfonic (Star Marine), Roberts again makes a blame shift? In this instance, he is saying that because BI had to leave to go make their own game, it affected Star Citizen. I have been in this business for almost 30 years; and in my experience, paid contractors working on a major project, seldom leave a solid paying gig, to go take on the risk of “working on their own project”.
As I had mentioned before, there are other exits, including sources saying that Matthew Johns (Now at Naughty Dog), Tony Z, and other key players are either gone, or have put in their notice. It has gotten so toxic to be involved in this project, that some exits don’t even bother to update LinkedIn now, because it is being data mined due to CIG keeping it all a big secret.
He did the same thing with the switch from their own CryEngine derivative (StarEngine) to LumberYard; not telling the backers anything beforehand – for a whole year. Then only releasing a newsletter when the 2.6.0 patch – which had the prerequisite LumberYard logo – went live. I wrote about that extensively in my Irreconcilable Differences blog.
The few backers still left giving them money, or who are yet to ask for a refund, should have known the end was near when in June 2016, they made a dramatic change to the ToS, and tilted it even further in their favor, while stripping every single recourse that backers once had.
In the ToS, as long as CIG – or any of its multiple shell companies – is active, even if they downsize to just 4 people working on the project, they no longer have to provide the financials they promised. And they no longer have to deliver ANY of the games promised.
In the vein of the Trump Tracker, someone put together a Star Citizen tracker. It’s amazing to see what’s left to do, $146 million, and 6 years later. For a project that has had over 500 people working on it.
THE FATE OF SQUADRON 42
I have written many times that sources keep telling me that it simply doesn’t exist as a “game”. Aside from the fact that if it ever sees the light of day – in any form – that it would be just another half-assed game mode running off a menu selection, like the other modules.
I have written in the past that it won’t be released in 2015, or 2016 for the same reason that it doesn’t exist. Even as some backers and CIG stated publicly that I was making stuff up. It’s now Q2/17, and not only is it not in the updated schedule (you’d think that it should be, right?), backers haven’t seen any gameplay of it since 2015.
The hilarious part of this? Even though Star Citizen was in fact the primary game pitch, with SQ42 being the single-player portion, there are backers who are now downplaying that fact, while saying that SQ42 was the main game. Even as the funding page itself is over 90% Star Citizen content.
This doesn’t need a long blog write-up, and it certainly doesn’t warrant my releasing the blog I just finished last week. I was hoping that CIG would have at least made public something MAJOR that they have yet to disclose (LOL!!) to the backers; and which I can’t divulge without compromising an on-going investigation, sources – and rendering the whole blog moot.
As I said a recent Tweet storm, the project is FUBAR, and CIG already have a plan in motion to scuttle it and bail in the coming months. Any money that backers give them now, is going to severance (those lucky enough to get it) pay, and into the pockets of the creators (the family and friends program).
My opinion that it’s all evolved into a major scam, remains the same. And as I said back in 2015, it’s akin to one long con that has played out in the two years that I’ve been writing about this doomed project after they made it personal. As I wrote in my recent Money Laundromat blog, most of the primaries involved, have had legal troubles over various past projects in which investor money resulted in a total loss. The same is precisely what is now playing out with this Star Citizen project.
With the legacy forums closing (they said it’s being archived, but as has happened before, they will eventually disappear – but we’ve got it all archived for posterity and evidence) today, as they move the discussion over to a more restrictive, and horrid Discord clone, the project wind down is in full progress.
Also, bear this July 2015 Letter From The Chairman in mind, so you have an idea of what’s currently playing out behind the scenes, and yet to be made public.
“This is all being made possible by your enthusiasm and support. As we promised since the start of the campaign, we invest every dollar raised into the game. Anyone with knowledge about game development can assess our spending based on the information we share every month. It speaks for itself that from the outset our TOS provides for an accounting to be published if we ever had to stop development before delivering. With the progress and the funds we’ve raised this is no longer an issue, but quite obviously we wouldn’t have provided for this clause, if we weren’t using your funds very carefully for the development of Star Citizen.”
The Mitanni interviewed Chris Roberts on 10/19/2012. He CLEARLY said they were 1 year into the project then. So 2017 is year 6. So, 4 yrs late (delivery date was 11/2014). This 3.0 schedule puts it in 2018 (year 7) with barely 25% of what was promised, and not even 1 of 100 systems built by then.
To show you how utterly ridiculous the 3.0 schedule is, whereby they are promising a MASSIVE list of stuff for release END OF JUNE 2017, someone spliced it all together in a nice graphic.
If that doesn’t show just much BS that is, then I don’t even know what to say at this point. Good thing is that even some of the hardcore backers are taking notice that we’re way past the ridiculous point now. Completely. Then there’s this: http://schedule.starcitizen.guide/
Never in the history of gaming, has a game – any game – had this much controversy and delay, then resulted in either an actual game being released, or one that was released and met the expectations of the many. The problem with this, and the reason that I got involved in the first place – and at which point they declared war – is that this is all front-loaded gamer money. They’re selling ship assets which are neither built, nor in the game. Some of the ones that are in the game are either flat out broken, or missing functionality (cargo, mining etc) that makes them worth having. As I wrote here, this is after breaking literally every single promise they’ve made to backers since day one.
They’ve had 6 years + $146 million (back when I wrote my first July 2015 blog, I said that a competent team couldn’t build the game envisioned for anything less than $150m). Here we are; almost two years later and they still don’t even have 15% of the game promised back in 2012. And they’ve already blown through over $150 million if you take into account the investor money and loans that we know about.
Not forgetting the fact that, as I wrote in my latest blog, the creators and lead execs in this project, have been involved in various legal shenanigans related to the total loss of investor money, money laundering etc. In my opinion, this project too, in the coming months, will suffer the same fate of a total loss of backer money. Then everyone will be writing polarized tomes with premises like i) how could this happen? ii) we totally saw this coming! iii) at least he tried.
LEGACY FORUM CLOSED
As of April 14th, right at the same time this 3.0 schedule was to go live, they have closed (we have it all archived for posterity and evidence) the official 6 year old forums and moved everyone to the awful work in progress Discord clone, Spectrum, which gives them more censorship controls. Right off the bat, threads like this are being deleted (PDF archive)
Note that they timed this transition – to a broken system – within the same period as the release of this long awaited 3.0 schedule. On a weekend. They knew what would happen.
The really horrid part of this is that, between the 1600+ whales (that we’re tracking through publicly available analytics), the reputation management company that’s creating user accounts to spread “interest” and manage the project’s tainted rep, as well as the toxic backers who are not only engaged in profiteering through the Grey market of selling ship assets, but also waging an Internet wide war of attrition against dissent, the outlook is even more grim now than ever before.
But now that the State and Fed officials are aware of what’s going on; it’s only a matter of time now before we hit the big finale.
Anyone giving them money now, instead of waiting to see if they can actually build the two games promised, deserves to lose it when they fail to deliver on those promises.
LILY DRONE PROJECT COMPARISONS
In case you haven’t followed the most recent action taken against a crowd-funded project by California State authorities, read up on what happened to the Lily drone project.
Part of the suit has to do with the initial pitch video, watched by millions of people, showing off what appeared to be a Lily drone following users and shooting video. The drone responsible for all that fancy aerial work and video was not in fact a Lily, but a DJI Inspire, something the creators failed to mention.
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.
One, the FTC’s Mail Order Rule, required that, if a pre-ordered product is seriously delayed, the company must issue refunds unless customers indicate they don’t mind the wait. Lily certainly must qualify as having encountered long delays — from February 2016 to “later in 2017” — but refunds were not issued at large.
It’s this second offense that caused the DA’s office to file a temporary restraining order freezing Lily’s assets — to prevent it from, in the words of the TRO, “further dissipating these ill-gotten preorder funds.”
Here are the comparisons to Star Citizen.
1) The Lily drone video was faked, didn’t represent the product pitched; and the execs were busted in fraudulent misrepresentation.
See Star Citizen “demos”
2) The Lily drone project was very delayed.
See Star Citizen’s Nov 2014 promised date, and every single missed date since then. As of today, the project is officially 29 months overdue
3) The Lily drone project wasn’t issuing refunds.
See Star Citizen refunds debacle.
CIG/RSI wasn’t issuing refunds – as required by law. To wit: Back when I challenged the refunds as per the rubbish ToS versions, very few took me seriously. At that time, refunds weren’t happening. Then someone decided to test it and went straight to State authorities. The fallout was amazing. I wrote a whole blog surrounding it. Then just like that, refunds were a thing.
4) The Lily drone project moved their crowd-funding off Kickstarter.
CIG/RSI started crowd-funding on their website, raised about $500K, then moved their funding to Kickstarter, where accountability would have prevailed. After raising over $2m there, they moved back to their new private crowd-funding site, where they ended up raising over $144 million more (to date).
5) The Lily drone project regarded the backer money as “pledges” and not sales.
CIG/RSI have long insisted that backer money were pledges, and not sales (as in pre-sales).February 14, 2017 at 9:01 am #5222
SQUADRON 42 – #JUSTANOTHERGAME MODE?
With all the recent musings and rumors, not to mention the switch to Lumberyard rekindling talk of SQ42 coming to consoles, it’s looking a lot like, just as I said in the past*, that SQ42 could very well end up being another game module within the pre-existing game launcher.
*”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).”
To that end, someone in my forum recently posed this question as to its legality.
“I honestly don’t see a legal way for them to just roll SQ42 into the main game similar to hangar or AC once they separated the games and started selling it as a completely separate “game”. Wouldn’t that essentially make it false advertising/fraudulent sales, no matter how much sense it would make? Or am I missing something.“
Actually they can do it; and it would be perfectly legal.
Remember that right now the main game launcher is just a menu system. You can go to the hangar, arena commander, star marine, and the Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe aka pee-you). When you
pledgebuy the game – without SQ42 – you get all of that. If you buy a stand-alone ship (cheapest being $45), and also SQ42, then you get access to everything. So basically, for a low price of $90, you can get access to both Star Citizen and SQ42. Except that most of the ships they have been selling – some at thousands of dollars – either have zero functionality, let alone supporting modes (e.g. news, farming, mining, exploration etc), or they haven’t even been built yet.
If they roll SQ42 into the game launcher, then it’s just another menu item like the above. Which means that it will run just like those modules, in a stand-alone fashion, and with no connection to them.
Since SQ42 is just a single player game that takes place within the same game universe; and seeing as they still haven’t even built the other systems yet, let alone all the areas (e.g. planets) where the missions take place, it makes sense for it to be just another game mode.
Think about it. There is no SQ42 without them building the rest of the star systems – including planets – which they claim (1, 2) will be using a combination of procedural generation and hand-crafted areas. Even if they end up building them, they are shared by both the pee-you and SQ42. So why would they want to make it a separate “game” outside of the game launcher? There is no sense in that.
So whether or not they make it a standalone game, with its own launcher etc, or it’s #justanothergamemode accessible via the standard game launcher, it will end up being the same game. It just means that for those who bought only SQ42, they have to figure out a way to only enable just that module when the game is launched; thus restricting access to the others.
And as long as they deliver something called SQ42, they are legally in the clear. But they won’t, because that game is pretty specific in what was promised.
Funny thing is, back when I was developing All Aspect Warfare & Angle Of Attack, they both used the same game engine/modules/world etc. However, AOA was just the aerial combat portion and which had its own menu even though it was basically the same game, but with only planetary air combat missions (not present in AAW). Basically, one large game, split into two, and with different experiences (AAW is combined arms, AOA is planetary air combat).
Aside from all this, after completely missing all (2014, 2015, 2016) ship dates, SQ42 didn’t make an appearance in Citizen2016. After major backlash, they made a video called Road To CitizenCon which they used to explain how so close they were to showing it, but then couldn’t make it – at the last minute. Here’s the burning question. They knew – beforehand – that they couldn’t make it, why didn’t they disclose that during the show? Further, it stands to reason that they knew beforehand, and had the foresight to make a video – ahead of time – about their inability to show, let alone release it. That was Aug 2016. So, they were this close but didn’t make it; yet, now almost two months later, not only have they not even shown whatever it was they were so close to releasing, but, like the much touted 3.0, it’s not even in the dev schedule.
I remember back when some backers were saying that since it didn’t get shown in Dec 2016, that it’s possible that it would be a Q1/17 release. Well, here we are – and Q1 ends in less than a month and half.
WHY 3.0 REMAINS A PIPE DREAM
It was all lies. Right from the start when it was being touted as far back as Summer 2016, then officially took center stage during GamesCon in Aug, it was already clear. From that presentation in which Chris Roberts stated the following, then they released 2.6.0 instead, it was already clear.
“..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“
Excerpt of what I said in Nov 2016
“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.
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.
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“.“
Excerpt of what I said in Sept 2016
“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.“
In the past weeks, some backers have now realized that they were blatantly lied to – again. And a little over a week ago, as I wrote here, Ali B (Ben Parry’s boss) in a rare appearance in the community, made another post that added fuel to the fire.
“This will most likely be a setup issue with the trigger volumes and logic that the art & design teams use to control color grading across the level (e.g. if you manage to escape a space station but don’t pass through specific trigger volumes then the color grade might not be updated). If there is a known set of steps to reliably reproduce the issue I’d recommend raising it in the issue council.
This setup however is intended to be replaced with a more reliable and systemic system to control color grading where every room is tagged with the desired color grade / mood (either by art or procedurally by code). This system will be updated every frame and doesn’t rely on hand placed trigger volumes so will never get into an incorrect state, even if you somehow teleport from one location to another. This will likely have a dependency on the ‘room system’ being developed in LA so it’s something we intend to address later in the year, and is a required feature for both 3.0 and Squadron 42.
Cheers,” – Ali Brown – Director of Graphics Engineering
Basically they knew – back in Aug 2016 – that whatever Chris Roberts said was 3.0 and coming before Dec 19th, wasn’t true. Not even an over-estimation, because we’re now in February, and they’ve only just released 2.6.1 patch to the public test universe; with the next one being 2.6.2. And the dev schedule makes no mention of 3.0, let alone anything about Squadron 42. In this regard, with 2.6.1 supposedly going live by Feb 17th, it stands to reason that 2.6.2 is most likely another month or two away, depending on what they put in it.
So if back in Aug Chris said they were working on getting it out by Dec 19th, that would mean it had to have already been in development. That means, by the time 2.6.2 is out, assuming they don’t do another 2.6.x patch or even 2.7 (as Todd Pappy let slip in a recent broadcast), that would be almost eight months since Chris stated it, and four months since it was due. And there is already a major Reddit discussion asking for the 3.0 schedule.
It’s safe to say then that both 3.0 and SQ42 (which needs 3.0 framework) stand very little – if any – chance of coming out even in the Summer 2017. Which means, all eyes are to Gamescom in Aug or CitizenCon in Dec. Even with GDC, E3 and two more PAX events ahead of Gamescom, they don’t traditionally release anything at those shows. In fact, last year they skipped mostly all events, while opting for only Gamescom and CitizenCon.
At the end of the day, they can brand any build as 3.0, and call it a day. All with complete disregard for promises made. And they can do this with impunity because even as they continue to do so, and whales, in Sunk Cost Fallacy, keep propping it up, they get the impression that they have a blank check. And with that, they have zero incentive to finish the games as promised, let alone deliver on any promises made.
WHY THE E.L.E CONTINUES TO BE A GOING CONCERN
When, almost a year ago, I wrote an Extinction Level Event blog, in my description of what I believe to be the slow and gradual death of the project, and a total loss of backer money, some people thought it was just hyperbole. Especially since they were all under the impression that SQ42 and Star Citizen were going to be completed and released by the end of 2016.
The latest metrics (1, 2, 3) are a clear indicator that funding (1, 2) and backer (many whales have, and continue to, put in for refunds) numbers are on the decline. Even as I had written (1, 2) about the funding and accountability issues, it appears that a lot more people are coming to the sad realization that, when it’s all said and done, what I said back in July 2015 in my first blog, and which started a major backlash and attacks against me from not only CIG/RSI, but also their toxic backers, continues to play out and remains true.
“Without disrespect to anyone, I’m just going to say it: it is my opinion that, this game, as has been pitched, will never get made.Ever.
There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.
The original vision which I backed in 2012? Yes, that was totally doable. This new vision? Not a chance.“
We’re now in year six (five if you refuse to take 2011 into account, despite Chris Roberts claiming the game was in dev then). With over 350 – 500 people across almost a dozen studios, having been involved in the project – and almost $143 million (not including loans, investors etc) of backer money, the game is still very much in pre-Alpha. It’s not even alpha, let alone beta, by Chris Roberts’ own definition of what those actually mean as per his development.
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – Chris Roberts, 2016
And those words are being echoed today by some backers who somehow have been led to believe that, even with all this money already pre-paid for the games, that there is a very good chance that it won’t be enough to deliver the two games promised. And that SQ42, a niche space combat title, is somehow going to be so awesome and ground breaking, that millions of gamers who aren’t already entitled to it, are going to buy it, thus keeping the operations going. Those people are the same fools who keep throwing money into an open furnace.
How foolish do you have to be to believe that when triple A games like COD:IW (barely 400K units on Steam), and Elite Dangerous (1 million units on Steam) in the space combat genre aren’t selling those kind of numbers (note that by Jan 2016, Elite Dangerous, a vastly superior game had sold 1.4 million units), that somehow SQ42 is going to be the magnum opus that’s going to continue funding this operation to the tune of over $35m a year. Not to mention that a single studio (F42-UK), as I wrote last month, burned through over 50% of that in 2015 alone; and will most likely burn through even more, given the increased resources needed for 2016.
And that’s precisely why they have not only been downsizing gradually (lots of departures in Q4/16 and in the new year) without making any noise (rumors are that Behavior Interactive is the latest third-party studio no longer working on the project) , but also said to be converting some employees to contractors. The latter is clearly an attempt to not only save money, but also save money and image because contractors don’t have the same termination protections, benefits etc as employees. And contractors, like third-party studios, can come and go without fanfare. It’s also why they have to keep using all kinds of tricks (cash-only sales, sales of JPEG ships with zero chance of making it into the game, R&D demos posing as actual game code etc) to keep raising money. Even though the project has already been funded by almost 3x what was originally needed – even after the vision 2.0 scope creep.
At this point in time, it should already be crystal clear that SQ42 and Star Citizen stand very little chance of being completed and released in 2017. Regardless of whether or not you believe the dev schedule, or the Aug 2016 dev slides, it’s just not possible, given the sheer amount of work left to complete. All backers can do now is wait and see what does get released in 2017; and whether or not the whole thing gradually collapses before they get a game worth the thousands that some have put into it.February 14, 2017 at 8:55 am #5220
ALL THE PROCEDURAL PLANETS PROMISES TO DATE
With planets on the 3.0 menu, I thought I’d catalog and bookmark this for future reference.
10 For The Chairman EP 78 (May 2016) in which the discussion about procedurally generated planets, takes center stage and an hilarious turn.
Still not here. And it’s almost as if all of these were just R&D tech demos designed to show the non-existent progress on this front…
“Nyx Landing Zone Preview” (Aug 2015)
“Pupil To Planet” (Dec 2015)
“Seamless procedural planetary landing gameplay” (Dec 2015)
“Alpha 3.0 gamescom 2016 Gameplay” (Aug 2016)
“Procedural Planets v2” (Oct 2016)
…and that sandworm on a planet (Oct 2016)January 29, 2017 at 7:07 am #5218
STAR CITIZEN – “OPEN DEVELOPMENT”
So recently TotalBiscuit made some comments about Star Citizen regarding people comparing it to No Man’s Sky.
Jan 26, 2017: In this broadcast, he said (verbatim):
“The comparisons to No Man’s Sky are bullshit. Wanna know why they are bullshit? Because No Man’s Sky hid everything before launch; and lied about a bunch of shit; and then came out and ended up being a bunch of shit.
Star Citizen is the most transparent development of anything I have ever seen. There is so much info..I mean one, you can go and play it right now; and you can see the exact state that it’s currently in – ‘cuz you can just go and play the alpha.
And the amount of information they put out on a weekly basis..they make videos, they stream, the developer blogs are like five fucking pages long a day.
There’s no game in history that has been as transparent as with the development and where they’re going with it, than Star Citizen has been.
They…you can play it; they show it all the time; they are completely open with their process.
So no, yeah, it might end coming out and being shit; and the people throwing thousands of dollars at it, well I think that’s kind of foolish, but you know, it’s your money, you do what you want with it.
But I refuse to allow it to be compared to No Man’s Sky; it’s a, it’s a polar opposite situation..of that. It’s a stupid comparison. We know exactly what Star Citizen is, right now at this very moment. We do; it’s all out there.”
Aug 16, 2016: In this broadcast, he basically makes the same comparisons between No Man’s Sky and Star Citizen hype; but this time specifically about the “zealous” Star Citizen fanbase and it’s comparison to the NMS one.
July 9th, 2015: In this broadcast, he said (verbatim):
“I am certainly concerned about No Man’s Sky; obviously I’ll give it a try, uhm, but it’s extremely ambitious, and that’s always a reason to doubt it. And then when you throw in the idea of procedural generation, like urrgh. I hear that word; I hear that word a lot, and whenever I hear it, I get a little bit worried because I’ve seen games that do the all procedural generation thing, and they’re generally by no means as good as a game that has a properly designed level. Because the computer can never create a properly designed level anywhere near as well as an actual human being can. And when comes out to planets; I’m like oh well, I mean, er I dunno what’s gonna be going on with that. I’ve definitely got my doubts; certainly. I hope it turns out good; I don’t want it to fail.
Star Citizen, imaginary game, yeah. You threw money at a pipe dream. You know, maybe Star Citizen will come out at some point in some form, I’m sure it probably will, but. We will see some game, that has space ships in it. It will probably be…yeah, we turned it into a racing game guys, we took the racing component that’s the entire game, just like, we’re done. It is, it is super ambitious. It also has a lot of money, but it doesn’t matter how much money you can throw at a game, you can still end up failing your goals.
They’re [backers] throwing money at a dream; and I, I don’t really know if Star Citizen actually turns out to be what they claimed it is, and what they promise it is; then it will be incredible no doubt; but..when? When is that gonna happen? “
Meanwhile, over at the /r/StarCitizen watering hole, a bunch of the “zealous” fanbase, along with the Usual Suspects (aka Shitizens) are trying to use his statements to somehow legitimize the notion that because Star Citizen has “open” development, that means everything is fine, it’s coming out etc.
It’s all the usual rubbish.
TotalBiscuit has been clear and consistent in his musings and statements regarding Star Citizen. His recent statements are no different. His comment about NMS vs SC, especially in the recent broadcast, are restricted to the notion of people comparing the two games in terms of knowing what the game is and about; and that because NMS was a disaster, so too will Star Citizen.
He is basically saying that with NMS you didn’t know what you were getting, what state the game was in etc. Until it was released. Then all hell broke loose. But with Star Citizen, there is all this wealth of material, you can read them, go play the alpha right now etc. So you know – beforehand – the state that the game is in, the discussions around it, and from there you can make an informed decision about it.
The key takeaway here is that, NMS hid everything about the development, failed to curb expectations etc. But how is that wrong? The game wasn’t crowd-funded, it wasn’t early access, and they were under no obligation to release anything about the development of their game, other the hype they were generating. In short, they operated like a standard dev studio or publisher would.
Star Citizen is a $142m crowd-funded game; not to mention the amount of money from loans and investors which haven’t been disclosed. Even if they don’t have to explain anything to the bankers and investors, they have an obligation to the backers because that was the premise of the project and the promise made to backers. It is patently irrelevant if they are “open” (hint: they aren’t) or not, in terms of full disclosure because, since day one, they’ve historically LIED to backers, used shady tactics to continue fleecing them for funding etc. And after five (six if you’re counting) years and all this money, neither of the two games promised for a Nov 2014 delivery, are even near 15% complete.
No Man’s Sky promised no such thing; and were under no obligation to be “open” about their development. However, just like Sean Murray did, Chris Roberts has been talking up and lying about a bunch of features which have now either been cut, or will never – ever – make it into the game.
The Star Citizen devs are only “open” about what they want to share with backers. And most of the more critical info is either hidden or obfuscated. Go ahead, ask a backer when the much touted 3.0 patch (see my predictions here – all of which came true) is coming out; or the state of Squadron 42; or the status of the Lumberyard engine switch; or their internal projections (note the public schedule only goes to 2.6.1) for the release of both games; or why they were busy making R&D tech demos under the guise of building tech for the game engine; or why some critical info about the game, ends up in game magazines (e.g. in Germany) instead of the community etc. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Star Citizen is as open and transparent as the frosted glass in a Church. In fact, the “game” itself is so transparent, that you can’t even see it; because there is no game.January 14, 2017 at 7:18 am #5198
WHY STAR CITIZEN BACKERS SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION
No doubt you already read about the collapse of the Lily drone project. Yesterday, news reports (1, 2) revealed its demise amid a lawsuit filed by San Francisco after several months of investigations, made possible by anonymous sources within the project. As you read these and other news reports, key excerpts such as the ones below, should give you an idea of what I have been clamoring about Star Citizen since July 2015 when I wrote my first blog raising the alarm.
“Snap passed on the deal, which was first reported by Business Insider, because of potential liability associated with pre-orders.”
“Now some tech veterans say there were red flags in Lily’s story all along.”
“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.”
And what should be noted is that a judge saw it fit to grant San Francisco a TRO, allowing them to freeze the company assets. Which means that they did in fact have a case to be made.
Last year, amid various consumer unfriendly actions which CIG/RSI took, such as revising the ToS in June 2016, thereby stripping backers of certain protections and warranties they had since the start of the project, I wrote several blogs in which I opined that the project had seemingly evolved into an outright scam due to questionable fund-raising tactics used. And these tactics appeared due to the fact that they had run out of time and money to build the two games (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) promised. Then, just this past December, it was revealed that, despite promises made, they didn’t even have the tech required to build the games promised. So, while lying to backers, they were then found to have switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine. I wrote an extensive blog about this in Irreconcilable Differences.
And through most of my blogs, I had written that no matter what CIG/RSI or the toxic backers say, anyone with money in the project, was entitled to everything that CIG/RSI promised back in Oct 2012 when the project first appeared on Kickstarter. For quite some time, they were refusing even refunds, only granting them to those (like me) who they deemed were detrimental to the project in some form or another. Much has been written about how they refund and close accounts of backers who were identified and found to be expressing dissent against either the project or it’s creators. I recently wrote another update about that as well. It wasn’t until one backer decided to heed my advice and go directly to the State authorities, thus forcing CIG/RSI to give him a refund, that people started getting refunds upon request. And I wrote the Refund Debacle blog specifically about that back in July 2016.
I had also written that CIG/RSI giving some backers refunds, doesn’t absolve them of any liabilities, nor does it allow them to maintain an open ended delivery date for the project; even after they had given a fixed Nov 2014 delivery date, and which also had an 18 month delay period. Someone running a scam, for example a Ponzi scheme, will tend to appease those who pose a threat to said scam. So if you think about it, just because someone gets a refund, doesn’t make what’s going on any less of a scam, nor does it mean that by giving refunds, they no longer have any legal liability. For example, when you break the law by stealing something, returning it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer liable for prosecution.
So this recent lawsuit, which is similar to other lawsuits taken by other states against crowd-funding projects, echos everything that I have been saying since July 2015, as it pertains to the consumer protections which backers have. And now, we have a State official stating that because a project is run off a business site, it is actually subject to even more stringent consumer protection laws. Yet, back when I was saying this, and advocating for people to report the project to the FTC if they didn’t get a refund, I was incessantly attacked and derided. And seeing as, outside of the CA refund issue previously reported, no action has yet been taken against CIG/RSI by State and/or Fed officials, some people are taking this to mean that everything is business as usual. As I had previously reported, like some backers, my attorneys and I have personally spoken (and my case met) with both State and Fed officials about how I became involved in this project and its on-going controversy. What the officials choose to do, and when, is entirely up to them. Similarly, what backers and their attorneys choose to do, and when, is also entirely up to them.
I believe that the project is an on-going scam, that certain actions taken are a violation of consumer laws; and according to sources and info which I have passed along to various authorities, could quite possibly be found to be facing accusations of both consumer and wire fraud if the project and its executives were in fact investigated. I had called for such an investigation as far back as July 2015 when I wrote the Interstellar Discourse blog. I believe that the creators, as well as their friends and family – all executives involved with the project – are engaged in actions tantamount to unjust enrichment, while pretending to be working toward the development of a project. A project that, by all accounts, is reported to be in dire financial trouble due to the amount of the time and money left in which to deliver the two games as promised. A project which, in Oct 2013 after raising $25 million, Chris Roberts in a statement said was fully funded. I wrote about this in my Fidelity Of Failure blog back in June 2016.
For as many times as I have been proven to be correct about this project, there will come a time when most people who thought that this could never happen, will be wondering how it is that a project that has thus far raised over $140 million (assuming the funding chart is accurate – which many believe it isn’t) from gamers, with other amounts from investors and loans, could possibly fail to deliver even a single game as promised, and yet managed to collapse.
Unlike projects like the Lily drone, when you consider the amount of money that backers and investors have put into this project, it’s easy to see that there is no way that refunds can be given to everyone. In short, once the money runs out ahead of the games being completed (in some form or another), it will end up being a total loss of backer and investor money.
GAMESTAR Feb 2017 INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ROBERTS
Shortly after I wrote this missive, excerpts of a translated interview (original, Google translated) that Chris Roberts did with a German magazine, began to surface online. Given the print times, this interview no doubt took place within the last two to three months. It’s a pretty long interview. However, there are two very important excerpts which, without a doubt, prove two of the most important points that I’ve been going on about these past months.
1) He has basically confirmed that the project is a Ponzi scheme.
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.“
Note that he made this exact claim back in Sept 2014 in this statement – shortly after raising $55 million.
This basically confirms that they simply do not have the money to complete this project as promised; and that’s why they need to keep raising money as they have been doing. This despite the fact that the project funding currently stands at over $140 million. So basically, if refunds continue, and sales flow slows down, they can’t complete Star Citizen. Instead, now he says they are focusing on releasing the Squadron 42 single-player game which over 96% (according to our metrics) of the people who have thus far backed the project, are already entitled to – at no charge.
This also explains the lack of meaningful Star Citizen progress in 2016; not to mention the complete absence of Squadron 42 itself. Back in Sept 2016 when I wrote that neither Star Citizen nor SQ42 was going to be released in 2017, well, guess what happened.
Remember back when I said that they can’t build Star Citizen as promised, and that Chris is only now focused on SQ42 because he wants to make a movie; and that it’s more likely to be what they deliver – in some form or another? Yeah, me too. Then rumors started swirling that even so, they still can’t deliver the full Episode 1 of SQ42 as promised due to the fact that SQ42 shares the same engine as Star Citizen – complete with all the problems (besides networking) that it has. Hence rumors of a “prelude” or some sort of demo, being in the works.
If this is the bet that Chris has made, then for financial reasons, we’re back to talking about SQ42 on consoles. Hence more reasons for the Lumberyard engine switch.
2) He has basically confirmed that the 3.0 patch doesn’t exist.
“We’ve looked at 3.0 and said. We need that and that and that and then we found: Damn, that’s more than many complete games. Therefore, we develop a detailed plan for all tasks and subtasks. If that is done, we will share this plan with the community. This is expected to be the case at some point in January, depending on when the production team gets the information from the project managers.“
The article then goes on to say that during this time, there will be smaller updates due to the length of time in between. These include performance, as well as networking improvements, which the article says aren’t coming before 3.0. And that pretty much confirms what I wrote in my last blog that there were no networking revisions in the 2.6 patch; contrary to some people thinking that it was done as part of the Lumberyard switch.
Seriously, this one beggars belief, and is also proof positive that Chris has been lying to backers – consistently. Back in Aug 2016 during the Gamescom conference, Chris claimed that the much touted 3.0 patch was due out. That was even though they still hadn’t even released the 2.6 patch (which didn’t arrive until Dec 23rd). As I wrote over here, he went on the record (23:36) saying: “..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.”
You can see all the slides showing the roadmap for 3.x up to 4.0 which he then went on to share during CitizenCon 2016 in Nov. Subsequently, ahead of the show, back on Nov 2, 2016, I had written a missive that sources told that the 3.0 patch didn’t even exist at the time that he made those statements; and that he was blatantly lying. In fact, sources told me that the first time they even heard anything about such a patch, was when the slide went up. So apparently this was something the Chris and his top cohorts (Erin Roberts, Sean Tracey, Tony Zurovek, Brian Chambers) cooked up in the continued bid to lie to and mislead backers.
With 3.0 not even on the near horizon, let alone in the dev schedule, even as they talk about the upcoming 2.6.1, and now the 2.7 patch as per this recent stream (34:50) – which I recently wrote about – it is clear that with the main focus on SQ42, this 3.0 patch which most of us think is going to be the Minimum Viable Product (30:18) he spoke of back in April 18th, 2016, is not coming in the short term.
I think at this point, if the backers don’t have enough proof that this project is FUBAR, then we may need to revert to smoke signals. Regardless, it’s their money, and we don’t care what they do with it. Regardless, these unscrupulous scumbags who keep abusing backer goodwill in crowd-funding projects, are ruining it for everyone. Especially for us in video gaming. My purpose in this whole Star Citizen fiasco remains the same: archiving and sharing my opinions on this whole farce, while striving toward unconditional vindication.
Finally, along these same lines, if you haven’t yet watched this interview with Dan Trufin in the F42-GER office, you should. Key points: 1) persistent points of interest on planets are basically just ship wrecks. Just like in Elite Dangerous btw 2) @06:48, most of the ships need to be “refactored” due to docking problems 3) @09:52, networking is still mostly broken 4) @12:02, the sandstorm in the CitizenCon 2016 presentation was faked (we knew this already), and that no weather systems have been implemented thus far in the engine.
Love charts and numbers? Don’t forget to check out the Star Citizen Analytics project.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!!November 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.
[videojs_video url="https://clips-media-assets.twitch.tv/23695209888-offset-3653.0070000000137-14-1280x720.mp4" poster="https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Cxk9CNkXcAAYKZt.jpg"]
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.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 ANNOUNCEMENTOctober 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”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 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 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.
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