- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
- June 30, 2017 at 10:39 am #5447
DOES A BANK NOW OWN STAR CITIZEN?
Over the past weekend, a huge furor erupted after I wrote and article and a blog announcing that CIG/F42 in the UK had taken out a loan with a bank, and that bank now “owned” (this is debatable as per Section 4-5 of the docs) both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen.
As I dug deeper, and heard from various people who had some knowledge and insight to the matter, I decided to write the Final Countdown blog about it. Due to the fluidity of the situation, I have since updated (scroll to the bottom) that blog three times to cover various aspects of this developing story.
Not wanting to increase the length of the blog again, and seeing various nonsensical and false reports and opinions by some gaming “media” and Star Citizen streamers (most of whom have a financial incentive to mislead backers), I decided to write this in-depth article about why I believe that Coutts Bank, not only has secured Squadron 42 as collateral, but in doing so, also holds certain aspects of Star Citizen in collateral as well.
Collateral means the Chargor’s right, title and interest in and to (i) the property charged pursuant to Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 hereof and (ii) the property assigned pursuant to Clause 5 hereof; excluding in all cases the Excluded Collateral;
Excluded Collateral means (i) the assets that have been charged pursuant to the Nat West Security Agreement; and (ii) all Intellectual Property Rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Also on p7
4.2.2 the Game Assets and the Distribution Rights
4.2.5 all digital material and sound and visual material made or to be made incorporating or reproducing all or any part of the Game
By process of elimination, we know that “Game” refers to Squadron 42. This is because there are only two games (Star Citizen & Squadron 42) in this project. And the former is mentioned in “Excluded Collateral”.
NOTE: These are all FACTS, no hypothesis, conjecture, hyperbole, or opinion.
- Star Citizen (hereinafter “SC”) is the multiplayer aspect of the game. It consists of various “disconnected modules” which are: Arena Commander (space combat), Star Marine (2 level FPS), Hangar (3D ship viewer), Planetside (shopping/social), Persistent Universe (all-encompassing space combat in larger universe).
- Squadron 42 (hereinafter “SQ42”) is the stand-alone, story driven, single player portion of the game, with Hollywood talent acting the cutscenes.
- SC was developed using a custom engine which uses CryEngine 3.x as it’s core baseline. The only “custom” in the code, are top-level elements (e.g. 64-Bit space addressing) added to create their own “game engine” aka StarEngine. This is similar to Unity3D, UE4 etc which are baseline engines to which you add your own assets, code (internal or via plugins developed by others) etc to make your game.
- In late 2016, without any prior notice, it was discovered (by me) that CIG had switched to Amazon’s LumberYard (also a more recent subset of CryEngine). I cover this extensively in my 2016-12-27 – Irreconcilable Differences blog.
- Both SC & SQ42 are developed using StarEngine (currently undergoing the switch from base CryEngine to LumberYard – 6 yrs into development)
- Both SC & SQ42 take place in the same world, and share the same IP (more on this later). All the same ships, places, weapons etc are part of both games.
- The only assets which are unique to SQ42, are the cut-scenes, musical score (SC has its own), story-driven dialog based script etc
- Without all the tech, tools, and common assets in SC, there can be no SQ42.
I have 1st hand knowledge of how that last item works, because I have done it. In 2006, I started working on All Aspect Warfare, a combined-arms game with no space combat. In early 2009, ahead of the game’s release, the community were saying that the aerial flight combat aspects of the game were worth being it’s own game. So I came up with Angle Of Attack which used the same engine and all the same assets. However, it had no FPS aspect, had its own aerial only missions, it’s own multiplayer session (AAW clients cannot connect to AOA and vice versa). I released both games in 2009, and sold them separately, as well as in a bundle. The game’s movies and screen shots show the differences in gameplay, though they share the same basic components. So, without AAW, there can be no AOA.
“Excluded Collateral” excludes the following:
- the company’s income bank account secured via a prior NatWest bank loan which we believe to be a Line Of Credit. Note that NatWest, like Coutts, is also owned by RBS. So basically, two arms of the same company, made these loans.
- all Intellectual Property rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Item (2) above is the point of contention as it pertains to how some of us believe that the collateral in 4.2.5, came to inadvertently include parts of SC, namely the tech (source code) due to it being used to develop SQ42.
The reason for this position is that there is no feasible way to strip Star Citizen from SQ42, without affecting that game as a whole. ergo, there is no SQ42 without critical components of SC.
Some (like me) argue that “Intellectual Property” defined in “Excluded Collateral”, does not cover everything about Star Citizen, and that as a result, parts of Star Citizen cannot be excluded in this manner, due to the SQ42 dependency.
Others disagree (possibly due to ignorance of how IP law works) with this assessment. Even as they ignore that the same section specifically mentions an aspect, “materials”, which would normally be covered under “Intellectual Property” if it was such an all-encompassing and broad definition – which it isn’t. The other aspects, “exploitation”, “distribution”, “other rights”, “all title”, “interest”, are not generally covered in IP definitions.
The “Intellectual Property” definition which includes Star Citizen, is ambiguous enough to cause a dispute in the event that this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure everything related to SQ42 as defined in Section 4. And specific to this, is the carefully worded 4.2.5 which some of us contend, will include the Star Citizen tech, and various assets by the mere fact that they are 100% REQUIRED in order to make SQ42 the “Game” defined, and understood by the bank, to be what they secured as part of this loan. To the extent that they went to great pains to itemized various “Game” components and rights, without ever resorting to using a blanket “Intellectual Property” term to secure them, as they did in “Excluded Collateral”. I wonder why that is.
The argument continues in which, despite the fallacy within, some people have convinced themselves that “Intellectual Property” – as it pertains to SOFTWARE – almost always includes source code, tech etc. That opinion is pure and utter NONSENSE. The reason being, every good software contract that seeks to define IP, will list what that definition entails, in the same way that the bank used an itemized Section 4 to list what the “Charges” under this loan contain.
It boils down to this:
- some contracts DO NOT itemize software in Intellectual Property definitions because it is “supposedly” (FYI, it’s not) a common knowledge assumption that it would invariably include “source code”.
- some contracts DO itemize Intellectual Property so that there is no ambiguity as to what rights are included
Any good IP lawyer will immediately tell you that in software IP, item #1 above is an immediate legal problem if it were to end up in dispute that a source code for the works (e.g. a video game) was in dispute. One common example – which has in fact resulted in various court cases – is whereby a company, owning an IP, hires a contractor to create some work (art, script, code) for the IP. If the 1099 “work for hire” contract doesn’t clearly stipulate who owns what, and a dispute arises down the road – for whatever reason (e.g. contractor seeks unpaid amounts for their work), that’s a problem. If an employer finds out that an employee is working on a part-time project, while on their clock, they could have a valid claim to his work, regardless of any claims to IP by the employee. See Zenimax v Oculus.
Comparing IP works of art, writings, movies etc to that of software, is the dumbest thing ever. As is the notion that, Intellectual Property automatically encompasses everything associated with the “works” in question.
All the above considered, my opinion remains that if this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure it’s collateral assets, and they find out that they really don’t have all the components of the “Game”, they would have a case for either misrepresentation, not negotiating in good faith, or worse, bank fraud (as this security was in exchange for money).
There is also an issue with the fact that the games use Amazon’s Lumberyard. Like all engine licenses, it can neither be re-assigned, nor sold. This means that in the event that the bank succeeds in securing these assets, the buyer would be subject to the licenses of all third-party middleware contained within. In the case of LumberYard, while free to use, the buyer would only “own” those components which are not the “LumberYard engine proper”.
To be clear:
THERE IS NO CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH THIS LOAN DEFAULTS, THE BANK SUCCEEDS IN TAKING CONTROL OF SQUADRON 42, SEEKS TO SELL IT ETC, WHILE CIG/F42, AFTER GIVING THE BANK WHAT AMOUNTS TO A “DUD” ASSET AS DEFINED IN THE “GAME”, GOES ON THEIR MERRY WAY TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP, DISTRIBUTE, AND SELL, STAR CITIZEN AS A SEPARATE AND NON-COMPETING ENTITY.
This graphic which someone created, illustrates the issue that is being discussed in very clear detail.December 21, 2017 at 7:44 am #6129
SEE THAT GUY ON THE LEFT? HE’S COMING FOR YOUR JPEGS
CRYTEK SUES CIG AND PARENT RSI
After several months of going back and forth, in what was said to be an attempt to hash out an amicable solution, Crytek, the developers CryEngine, says it was left with no option but take legal action against the developers of Star Citizen. The lawsuit was filed on Tue, Dec 12th; and they accepted process of service on Wed, Dec 13th. You can read the full contents at this link. CIG/RSI have 21 days (excluding weekends & holidays) to respond. So we can expect a response on or before Jan 12th, 2018.
Considering the string of shell companies around world, and which are involved in this project, it’s a surprise that they actually found and served on the correct entity.
On a more serious note, Crytek hired one of the top law firms in the US, Skadden. A law firm with so many accolades, that my guess is that Ortwin’s heart probably skipped a beat when he found out who was suing them. Forbes once called them “Wall Street’s Most Powerful Law Firm“. These are the same guys who won a $500M judgement in the Zenimax v Oculus case. They neither take on small cases, nor do they take cases that didn’t have any merits or a chance of them winning.
Anyway, ignoring all the fluff and padding in the complaint, there are two pretty serious allegations in the lawsuit. Those being “IP infringement” and “Breach Of Contract”. Naturally, this being a bunch of incompetent nincompoops, right out of the gate, CIG/RSI gave Crytek what I believe to be Crytek’s first win in the form of their public statement in response to the lawsuit.
“We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”
About two days later, Crytek issued their own statement.
“Crytek is a technology company and intellectual property is its greatest asset. It is unfortunate that this lawsuit had to be brought, but Crytek has been left with no option but to protect its intellectual property in court.”
CHRIS ROBERTS CLAIMS THEY BOUGHT OUT THEIR LICENSE
WE’VE ALL GONE TO THE RAPTURE
As these things go, on Twitter, I wrote my own opinions (1, 2, 3, 4) on why this was a very big problem for CIG/RSI. From my point of view as someone who has negotiated contracts, and also having been involved in cases of both IP infringement and breach of contract, I can specifically point out two things about this, as it relates to the Game License Agreement (GLA):
1) If it prevents CIG/RSI from switching engines – under any circumstance – that’s a material breach.
We as developers switch engines and tools all the time. However, in cases were partnerships, co-operation, co-branding and similar deals are made, it is not unheard of for certain concessions to be made in order to get a deal done. A quid pro quo if you will. e.g. if Nike signs a basketball player to a multi-million Dollar contract, my guess is they’re not going to allow that player to be wearing Reebok apparel in an official capacity. This is why even with the branding you see on race cars, most of those are ads, just like you would find online, while the branding/sponsor of the car or driver, is more prominent.
This would be the circumstance under which CIG/RSI would have been required to use only the CryEngine for the game, while prominently displaying the branding as required. Game engines such as Unity and UnrealEngine, all have similar branding requirements. And for them to get out of that aspect of the contract, they would have had to either executed a mutual termination (one side can rarely terminate such a contract without penalties), or re-negotiated the terms which would then allow them to switch and/or do other things which would otherwise be a violation of the GLA.
2) If it locks them to making only one game, and they decided to make two – that’s a material breach.
No argument can currently be made that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are a single game. In fact, according to both the Oct 2012 Kickstarter campaign, and the CIG/RSI stretch goals which ended in Nov 2014, for all intent and purposes, SQ42 was a single-player game mode, while the standard multiplayer Star Citizen game later morphed to become an MMO. That was until Feb 2016 when they decided to split them into two separate products; a decision that quickly became public and raised eyebrows.
Currently, the Star Citizen suite includes various modules : Hangar, ArcCorp social, Arena Commander, Star Marine, Persistent Universe. These are all purchased, downloaded and installed at the same time – as a single product – and accessible from a single launcher.
Splitting Squadron 42 into a separate package, is no different from doing the same to Star Marine or Arena Commander for that matter. To further complicate this, for a limited time, you could buy the single Star Citizen starter package for $45, and for an extra $15, get Squadron 42. With that period having ended, you can now only buy SQ42 as a standalone game for $45.
@27:25 CIG EXPLAINS THE STAR CITIZEN – SQUADRON 42 SPLIT
THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
In my mind, the only solid defense against these two serious allegations, would be if the GLA allowed CIG/RSI to switch engines. If it did, the entire case falls apart, and probably won’t even survive a Motion To Dismiss. If in their response, they don’t file such a motion, then it is safe to assume that the GLA did not explicitly prevent them from switching engines, but that they believe they have an argument (or perhaps a counter-claim) for having done so. It won’t matter. Having a reason for breaching a contract, doesn’t reduce the validity of the contract. To the extent that because Crytek was having their own financial issues a few years ago, some people are saying that it probably prevented them from providing support to CIG/RSI under the contract (which these people btw, haven’t even seen. But whatever), causing them to switch. As hilarious and ludicrous as that sounds, even if it were true, without a mutual termination, such an issue still wouldn’t change the terms of the contract. Furthermore, software licensing contracts do not have any guarantees of performance, nor do they offer any guarantee that they’re going to work for your project.
If the argument becomes an issue of them not actually switching because technically Lumberyard is itself a derivative fork of CryEngine3, that one fails right off the bat because 1) Amazon bought a specific perpetual CryEngine3 license (which obviously allows them to do things like re-brand it, sub-license to third-parties etc) for millions of Dollars back in 2015-16; and their re-branded Lumberyard engine has its own licensing agreement which is completely separate from Crytek’s; thus making it a separate engine from Crytek’s own version 3) CIG/RSI have already claimed publicly that they did in fact “switch engines”; and the Lumberyard branding first appeared in the 2.6 build released in Dec 2016. I wrote a blog about this switch.
I have to mention also that the two most important conditions of using Lumberyard, are that you have to display the Lumberyard logo on the application, as well as not use competing cloud platforms. This is why CIG/RSI replaced the CryEngine logo with Lumberyard, and switched from Google Compute to AWS for their cloud services which run the game. What do you think would happen if CIG/RSI decided to breach the license by violating either of those conditions – while using Lumberyard?
All things considered, when you think about how these conditions are there in the first place, it’s easy to see how certain conditions in the GLA would have imposed the alleged requirements and restrictions on CIG/RSI.
SQUADRON 42 LAUNCH TRAILER (2012)
OF MICE, MEN, AND MONEY
This all boils down to money.
Crytek alleges that they created all the early promo builds (which Chris Roberts was promoting as in-game) of the game, which were then used to promote and propel the game to stardom, while creating and cultivating a cult in the process. What is being glossed over are the implications that this claim has. In essence, Crytek gave up something (they say a cheap license), in exchange for marketing and promotion of their engine. Then CIG/RSI went off and changed the deal. This is no different from downloading free apps, in exchange for watching ads. The ads generate the revenue which then pays for your copy of the app. That’s how that works.
Given all the shenanigans associated with this project, I would like to see them settle the matter out of court, so that CIG/RSI can go on to either fail on their own without the Crytek law suit shadow, or somehow finish and ship something of a “game” that backers dumb enough to still have money in this train wreck, can receive in the end. As I said in a recent live discussion broadcast with GameTalkLive, it’s better to have something, than nothing.
The bigger point here is that if this doesn’t get settled, and it goes through the discovery process, CIG/RSI runs the risk of some serious exposure of not only their business practices, but also how much money they have actually raised (seeing as the general consensus is that the funding chart is bullshit), how it was spent etc. Having changed the Terms Of Service in June 2016, preventing new backers from having financial accountability for the project, this despite the fact that even backers before that change who were entitled to it, still didn’t get it, I don’t see how they can afford to screw around until this gets into discovery. And if it does go that far, the depositions are going to be a lolapocalypse of epic proportions.
SQUADRON 42 TEASER TRAILER (2012)
Settlements come in all forms, how they fashion one is going to be key. Nobody knows for sure if CIG/RSI has cash on hand to settle what, for all intent and purposes is a very huge liability if in fact just one, let alone two, of the Crytek allegations is true. If this was going to be settled for a few hundred thousand Dollars, let alone a few million, my guess is that this wouldn’t have landed in a court room, let alone cause Crytek go out and hire a law firm like Skadden.
While there are many opinions on the merits and the implications of this case, how it could go etc, Robert Marks, a legal researcher with Bien Law, has written his thoughts on the matter.
Until we see the CIG/RSI response to the lawsuit, all we can do now is wait. In the meantime, if this goes far enough, and they don’t settle it, I fully intend on filing an amicus brief with the court, hoping the judge allows it and makes it a part of the record. And I’m going to bury The July Blog in it. In case you were wondering why, read how I got involved in this fiasco.
SQUADRON 42 HAS BEEN PUSHED TO 2019
Yesterday, in order to capitalize on The Last Jedi movie currently in theaters, they released a teaser featuring Mark Hamill, exclusively through IGN.
Ignoring the always awesome Mark Hamill, I mean LOOK at this trailer. That’s what $174 million Dollars created. And it uses the same engine and most of the assets from the larger Star Citizen game.
THE SAVIOR OF PC GAMING IS COMING IN 2019
As I wrote on Twitter, not unlike the awful The Morrow Tour (2015) which was the last promotion we saw of the game, this too just looks…well, LOOK at it. Not only is it yet another in-engine cinematic (most game engines used in games such as Call Of Duty, Battlefield etc support this) cutscene sequence that they’re famous for passing off as game play, sources say it is actually a cutscene in the game. It was edited to add cinematic angle perspectives, as well as the awful player’s thought text – neither of which are in the actual game. It’s all fake.
Having spent an entire year screwing around with a badly broken Star Citizen 3.0 build, I have also heard that today’s announcement of the SQ42 schedule – which promises to be as accurate as all the Star Citizen ones before it – says that it is due out by holiday 2018. Which obviously means sometime in 2019 – if ever.
I am getting a few conflicting reports about what they are in fact going to show today in the live stream for SQ42. I am hearing that it’s either another game play trailer cinematic showing a basic combat mission (which hooks into the IGN teaser), or an interactive play through in a test map in which they talk and interact with other NPC units. The latter being The Morrow Tour 2017.
In other words, unlike what you would come to expect from other devs actually playing their WIP games live, these clowns are still pissing around with cinematics which may or may not end up in the game, let alone looking anything like it.
As I’ve heard, in the game, the IGN sequence reportedly taken from chapter 5 called “First Time Out” (yeah, now they’re going to change it. So much for open development), is part of a tutorial (Hamill and the player go to a damaged Starfarer ship in EVA mode) that takes place in first person player pov which shows the player’s visor HUD. This could all be bullshit of course, so take it with a huge helping of sea salt.
SQUADRON 42 TEASER (2015)
I have to mention that earlier this year, I wrote that SQ42 was likely going to be just another game mode like Star Marine, Arena Commander etc. It would make perfect sense, seeing as it uses the Star Citizen game engine and assets like those other modules. While this is not news, apparently it’s how they are going to release it now. Which is why the new SQ42 promo site unveiled yesterday, now shows that it includes Star Marine and Arena Commander – neither of which anyone is actually playing – for the same $45.
So there is it. From the coming soon in 2015, if they survive 2018, by all accounts, SQ42 has now been pushed into 2019. And they haven’t shown a live play through of a SINGLE mission, out of the 60 promised in the campaign.
ps: They’re now selling TANKS. This despite the fact that nowhere in the original 2012 Kickstarter campaign, nor the final 2014 stretch goals, did ground vehicles, let alone tanks, appear. Desperate cash grab doesn’t even begin to explain it.
SQUADRON 42 (2017) – 6 YRS + $174M BROUGHT YOU THIS DERIVATIVE CRAP
So they finally did the stream after the 24hr delay which was rumored to be due to technical difficulties with the game build which prevented certain parts from being played, and thus recorded. As previously leaked, what we saw was just a pre-recorded play through of what they called a vertical slice, and which contained the previously leaked elements I wrote about above.
The whole presentation was such a footnote in this disaster of a project, that I’m not even going to bother writing a new article about it. Instead, you can read my 42 post commentary in this Twitter thread (unrolled, standard).
And aside from Chris Roberts saying that in the new year they are going to start reporting monthly updates for the project, they didn’t release the dev schedule as previously promised. So there’s that.
And so ends YEAR 5 (or 6 if you want) of this project, with neither game anywhere near release, after having raised over $174M to date.
YEAH, I’M NOT SO SURE ABOUT THAT CRYTEK GUYDecember 11, 2017 at 7:51 am #6078
“Unlike with a publisher, you can’t pull the wool over their eyes because it’s the real people who are going to be playing it”
-Chris Roberts, April 2013
IT’S OFF THE RAILS. COMPLETELY.
In last week’s situation report, I talked about the dismal state of the 3.0 build, as well as land sales. The 3.0 build is still FUBAR, and we have an entire forum dedicated to discussing just how messed up it is. As of right now, even the beefiest machines are still having trouble getting and sustaining even 15 fps on average. And that’s aside from the litany of bugs (in excess of 5K unique entries in the entire project), crashes, lockups etc. Seriously, they can’t even get something as simple as a cargo mission working. And it only involves going from point A, picking up a container, and delivering it to point B. It’s not working.
In the future, space men will be contending with actual manual labor
And it’s not just that – every single fundamental mechanic is either completely broken, or basically horrid. Flight dynamics, physics, navigation, Mobiglass UI, frigging doors (!), elevators, ships – the whole thing. And most of the streamers still trying to make money and subs off gullible backers, are inadvertently communicating to the world, just how broken everything is, and that – as I had written months ago – the 3.0 build is pure and utter rubbish.
To be clear – again – this has nothing to do with the fact that the “game” is still in development, and so this is to be expected. No. It’s to do with the fact that, going on six years now, with over $170 million (an unconfirmed and dubious claim) raised from backers, THIS is what they have and THIS is where they are. And it’s not even Alpha – and not by a long shot.
Yeah, so that happened.
By any and all accounts, 3.0 still does NOT represent even 25% of what was promised in the Kickstarter campaign, let alone 15% of what was promised over the years as Chris Roberts continued to expand the scope of the project once he figured out that doing so – while incessantly lying – is what kept bringing money in.
3.0 (w/ planet/moon access etc), ??/??/??
2.6.0 (w/ Star Marine fps module), 12/23/2016
2.4.0 (/w/ ArcCorp shopping), 06/08/2016
2.0 (w/ Persistent Universe, Multi-Crew Ships), 12/11/2015
1.2 (w/ ArcCorp social module), 08/28/2015
0.8 (w/ Arena Commander dogfighting module), 06/04/2014
0.x (w/ Hangar module), 08/29/2013
In contrast, they released (handy release timeline) 2.0 in Dec 2015, and it was a buggy mess. But it was the first big leap for the project in terms of functionality. It gave hope to the backers; though most of us just shrugged, and said that it was the beginning of the end because it was a clear, and present testament that, as I had stated in The July Blog, they simply could not build the game pitched in 2012, let alone at the scope that had been expanded in 2014.
I should also point out that 2.0 came right on the heels of when the 2015 controversy was in full swing. Hilariously, nobody envisioned that, two years later, the game would be no closer to completion.
When, after yet another year of screwing around with inconsequential things, even as the scope continued to expand, they released the Star Marine fps module in Dec 2016, it died almost immediately because it didn’t live up the hype and expectations. Nobody is even playing it anymore. And that was something they had all but killed – even as Chris Roberts was claiming it was already in Star Citizen. But then suddenly out of nowhere, they decided to resurrect it for that year end release because, well, they had nothing else. And at that time, Chris Roberts was already touting 3.0 as coming that December, knowing fully well that it was patently false as we later came to find out.
“So it’s our big end of the year release. We’re gonna get it out end of the year;
hopefully not on Dec 19th” – Chris Roberts, Aug 2016 @ 23:37
That’s not all…
FIX ALL THE THINGS. WITH SPINLOCKS
Though it’s highly technical, and beyond the scope of this article, the most hilarious thing happened last week. We’ve known for some time now that CIG tends to react to my writings in the most hilarious of ways. It’s even more hilarious when you consider that in between wanton acts of pillaging backer bank accounts, they don’t even listen to backers to any extent other than where it hits their wallet.
For sometime now, there are those who have hacked the game client to work in off-line mode. In this manner, certain game content have been discovered, shared etc. Others, like me, tend to dissassemble and decompile the game client in a bid to figure out various issues. The first time I did that, was back when I discovered that they had switched from Google Compute to Amazon S3. Yes, of course I wrote a blog about it. At the time, I claimed that they didn’t actually switch to the Lumberyard engine – a derivative of the CryEngine 3 that the Star Citizen game engine was built on. They had lied (shocking, yes, I know) about it. That aside from the fact that – for a whole year in which Chris claimed they were researching it – they never mentioned it once to backers. Not once. I discovered it in the 2.6.0 Star Marine patch, and wrote about it before it was even public.
As of this minute, those of us with access to CryEngine 3 and Lumberyard, know with certainty that they haven’t actually fully switched to Lumberyard as they had claimed. To the extent that most of the core and advanced functionality that Amazon has made to that engine, still do not appear in the Star Citizen game code. Even functionality that Amazon has completely ripped out of LY, still appear in Star Citizen game code.
With the dismal performance in 3.0, and wanting to see just how much new stuff was actually in it, what was causing the performance issues etc, some of us went tinkering and poking. So having discovered that Lumberyard had done away with most of the notoriously dangerous spinlock, we were shocked to find that Star Citizen had over 600 of those in the code. And in there, an eyebrow raising number of calls to Sleep(1).
I have never before written publicly about their coding because it’s considered poor form in dev circles. Even when I catch snippets of their Bug Smashers streams, and us devs get to discuss the “interesting” code among ourselves, we tend not to make it public. But then I went the other way and last week I broke protocol by writing this Twitter thread about spinlocks, and why they are affecting performance. I thought that was the end of it. So imagine my surprise when, in their patch released days later, this appeared in the notes:
In render mesh management, code lock contention has been optimized. Generally, frequent CPU spikes on server and client side due to spin locks have been removed. The relevant changes mention in last week’s report as in-progress have been submitted. People on the PTU have observed the effect of a degenerated “spin lock”. A spin lock used to control access to a shared resource when multiple threads are trying to work on it, such as a file or a memory space. It allows for very fast resource transfer between thread, but threads waiting for the resource are consuming a huge amount of CPU while waiting. It’s useful as long as each thread doesn’t wait long for the resource, otherwise it becomes a huge performance drain on all CPU cores.
I was floored. Before that, they had never mentioned spinlocks in any of their patch notes.
Mark Abent is the bravest dev on the project. Bonus @ 4:27. See the path?
But regardless, as I later wrote, as far as I can tell, they really didn’t do anything relevant or consequential. With access to several executable generations, and by using various dev tools (e.g. Hex-Rays disassembler and decompiler), it’s easy to track these things because calls like that are quite unique. Heck, aside from hacking the game client to run in offline mode, some have builds with these calls in the most critical areas, removed. Sure, it doesn’t do much – without adverse side effects – but the improvement in performance gains is the difference between +8 fps improvement on average, versus 7 fps in the current public build. Why? Because there is NO fixing bad architecture and design.
The running joke is that, with things like this, it’s plausible that the CIG/F42 devs are sending me a message. Hey guys, here’s a thought: quit. You’re never – ever – going to make a difference because you know that the project is FUBAR, and that Chris Roberts has FAILED – again. And he’s richer, and you’re not.
Oh, but it gets worse…
THE ELEPHANT IN THE CARGO CONTAINER
First, meet Clive Johnson. I know quite a few people who have worked with Clive. In fact, one of those people used to work for me. Clive is not your Jack-Of-All game dev tinker like most of us who started out back when we had to write all our own code – from scratch – regardless of discipline (graphics, physics, networking, UI, input etc). Clive, I heard, is a good guy. Clive is not a “networking guru”, but at the very least, he knows what he’s talking about. Which is why, what comes next, is not something that I really wanted to write. However, it plays directly into everything I’ve been saying since June 2015 about the state of the game’s development, and why they’re never getting an MMO from this.
Clive has been working on Star Citizen since Sept 2014, right in the middle of when Chris Roberts was increasing the project scope, while lying to backers, and making promises he simply stood no chance of delivering on. And that was before he shockingly decided that he was making an MMO after all.
Clive apparently has never worked on an MMO game before. And having been promoted from senior to lead network programmer, you would think that the promotion has to do with experience, instead of, you know, filling in the slot for a missing lead, or just moving into a promotion slot to keep you around with better pay. If you have been reading my blogs, then you should also know that I have written that there is simply nobody in the team leads who has ever worked on, let alone shipped, an MMO game. For these guys, Star Citizen is an on-the-job training gig, paid for with backer money. That’s why I had written an article saying that they were never – EVER – getting an MMO out of this train wreck. Ever.
Clive Johnson on ATV (@ 13:35), Jan 2016
For the longest time, backers have been fed a load of bullshit by Chris, his brother Erin, and even by some of the devs who were brave enough to get carted in front of a camera like show horses, in a bid by management to convey the impression that they were, you know, working on a game and not pissing away backer money. Due to the fact that, by it’s very nature, the networking engine in CryEngine is not designed for MMO games, the Star Citizen multiplayer experience was always shitty. The Arena Commander dogfighting module got by OK because, well, there’s really not much there. But once 2.0 arrived on the scene in Dec 2015, it became obvious that they were way in over their heads; and that networking was in fact, shit. Then Star Marine happened – and we’re still laughing at that one.
When they switched (a dubious claim I’ve written about before) to Lumberyard, the usual hype around networking started to pop up. This has been continuously fueled by even more meaningless (in the general scheme of things) bullshit such as serialized variables, network bind culling, server mesh network etc. All of which backers – despite our telling them it was all inconsequential nonsense – were thoroughly convinced would one day solve the networking issues with the game – and they were totally going to get an MMO. Heck, even though 3.0 is the worse ever build (it even tops 2.0, if you can imagine that) in terms of performance, stability, networking – and pretty much everything else – there are those who still want to believe that some day down the road, everything will be fine with networking because CIG said so. This despite the fact that, time and time again, those promises have either been flat out lies, or just simply didn’t materialize.
Clive Johnson on ATV (@ 12:25), June 2017
In the video above, Erin (yeah, he too was promoting that whole bullshit about server meshes, “hundreds of thousands” of players instances etc) mentions serialized variables, leading into Clive’s appearance at the 13:10 mark to talk about and explain…..serialized variables. Here’s the thing, those buzz words aren’t even noteworthy they are a fundamental part of any robust networking tech. But we get broadcasts like this because, like every successful con and confidence scheme, you have to keep your targets believing in what you’re selling and promising.
So it should come as no surprise that in the past 24 hrs, Clive has inadvertently started a massive shit storm with this post about the networking. On any other day, this would be par for the course with Star Citizen; but given how some backers have put so much hope and trust in CIG about the inbound networking improvements, this one is bit too close to the reality that they are about to face. This despite the fact that they know in their hearts that they’re never – ever – getting the game they were promised anyway.
Yeah, that doesn’t sound right – at all
I can’t imagine there being a single game developer – right now – who isn’t shaking their heads over this. While it’s common knowledge that the remaining Star Citizen backers know about game development about as much as they know about financial responsibility, this sort of response has raised the alarm bells of even those very same backers. Some of the comments are priceless, though my guess is that, as these things go, the mods are probably going to lock that thread soon enough.
“wtf….this is how you make change my mind within seconds…i always thought they handle the performance problems with this netcode thing, because i ALWAYS was sceptical about how they want to handle this amount of players. now you say you are not even close to handle 50 players without changing everything 10 times, generating such an amount of bugs that makes you holding back a major release for more than 1 year…
when do you want to release this game? in 20 years? you may should hire some more people to figure those problems out and let some artists go on the other hand. concept sales seem to be the only thing that works fine..“
Here’s my comment on each of those statements.
1) The graphics pipeline does not wait for server updates
I am guessing that this one comes from the fact that some of those backers have been clamoring about the shitty networking code, impacting their game performance (which they tie to the frame rate counter).
In any game, there is a single game loop that runs the whole shebang. Everything (graphics, physics, networking, AI, input etc) happens within that loop. To better understand this, read this article which someone shared earlier today. It’s written such that any layman can understand it. That loop is timed depending on the type of game. A fast paced game would have a higher resolution timer, while another would not. For example, in some of my games, I have several timers within a single game loop; each slaved to a thread that runs a specific component (e.g. graphics, AI etc) at varying update (aka tick rate) resolution. It is not uncommon to detach, for example, the graphics subsystem and run it on its own tick rate within the loop.
So, the “graphics pipeline” does not wait for server updates because it can’t, and doesn’t need to. It’s in the game loop which is what determines the visual performance based on those updates. If the graphics component is so heavily burdened that it impacts the game loop, yes, all the other components within that loop, can and will suffer. Whether the graphics component waits for the server update or not, is irrelevant.
2) Server FPS does not affect client FPS
Despite the fact that we generally tend not to talk about the server in terms of Frames Per Second (tick rates are more like it) updates, in a multiplayer game, the client has to run a “simulation” of the game itself. If you have a “headless” (no graphics processing) dedicated server, even if it’s only displaying console messages, it most definitely needs to be running the game as the client would, otherwise things like position updates, weapons etc, simply would not be propagated to all the game clients connected to it. In fact, in peer to peer games, which is how most multiplayer games are designed, the client is acting as both a game client and game server. So if you have such a game, whatever your FPS is, that’s what both the client and server are running at.
With a client-server game, whereby the server isn’t doing any graphics rendering – hence no FPS – the server still has its own loop that’s oft measured in tick rate, which definitely will not match the client FPS, as that’s a completely different metric. On the other hand, if the dedicated server is in fact running in graphics mode, as some in fact do as I mentioned above, then the FPS could very well be higher or lower than the client, depending on the configuration (graphics card, memory, screen resolution) that affects frame rates.
So, in any case, whether not you are talking about frame or tick rate, it will tend to be different between the server and client; and one should never affect the other because networking updates (packets sent across the network) aren’t usually (and shouldn’t be in a game like this) tied to graphics updates.
64 players. Yeah, we’re totally making an MMO
3) Netcode does not make clients run slowly, and never has
Anyone who has done any work on multiplayer games, knows that this is an interesting statement to make. I don’t know if Clive was just oversimplifying this, or not, but in light of his prior statements, it presents a conundrum of sorts. I actually wrote about this back in May.
If you remember what I said about a game loop, and you can grasp the concept of how they work, then it should be clear why this statement is problematic. Everything running within the game loop is subject to the rate at which that game loop is running. Anything (e.g. graphics) within that game loop, and which causes performance issues, will affect everything else within that loop. That could be graphics, physics, AI and yes, even the networking code. Networking isn’t magic that makes it exempt from performance issues – at all. And any performance related component running within that game loop, can and will affect the client’s performance.
Knowing this, it’s possible that Clive is literally throwing his colleagues and the game tech under the bus by claiming that the networking component – his area of work – works fine, as expected etc; but it’s all this other stuff (namely graphics) that’s the primary cause of the client’s horrid performance. But then, you have to now reconcile the fact that if you accept that the networking component is just fine in 3.0, given the game’s shitty networking, then they’re never getting much beyond what they have now regardless of anything they do with the networking component down the road. I’ve been saying this for over a year now; but here we are.
4) Netcode does not make servers run slowly, anymore, even though we’ve added more clients
I am regarding this as him doubling down on the previous statement. It also seems to support my theory that he’s pointing the finger at other components which are the source of the on-going issues. This despite the fact that, on any given day, the networking (the primary component in a multiplayer game), is still shit. It’s the classic #notmyproblem type statement that heated arguments are about.
So, if the current 3.0 code base “does not make servers run slowly anymore”, that means it did before – as we know. But since the networking is clearly still shit – even on servers with as few as 8 clients, then they’re well and truly screwed (shocking) because it means they’ve reached the point that all programmers fear. That point where nothing you do in a code component will make a difference.
It also means that, the subliminal message to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, is that they chose the wrong engine for their baseline, and that even with Lumberyard, they simply can’t go any further without having to start from scratch – or break everything in the process as he stated. Remember, this wasn’t even supposed to be an MMO.
Bonus points: read Valve’s 2001 paper.
Chris Roberts talking about networking, April 2016 (transcript)
5) You get better performance on newer servers because there are fewer players on them so your client has to do less work – like physics, animation, IFCS, and entity updates
6) Players hacking the game to play PU in “offline mode” get better performance than they do online because their clients don’t have to deal with all the load generated by 49 other players
Considering his previous statements, these two are the other conflicting ones. If you have a multiplayer game whereby a client’s performance is so heavily based on the server’s own performance, outside of it being an arbiter of critical network traffic, then you have a very serious problem. Unless the dedicated game server is designed specifically to run a “simulation” of the game, then it’s just a standard client pretending to be a server. And that’s a very serious problem for a game pretending to be an MMO.
The implications of this particular comment by Clive, which, given my own experiences with the game and code, I believe to be true, has far more serious implications than his 29 words could possibly convey.
Remember, this game was never supposed to be an MMO. It was neither pitched, nor designed to be that. And given the significant and insurmountable problems that 3.0 has now laid bare, it’s safe to say that they can’t even get away with a decent standard 16 player client-server game even if they wanted to.
Here’s the thing, you’re never – ever – going to turn what was developed as a standard multiplayer game into an MMO. Period. End of story. The networking component has to be designed for an MMO from the ground up. The yojimbo library which they sponsored, and which some claim they are using isn’t going to do it. The networking component in Lumberyard, isn’t going to do it. And according to Clive’s own statement from this past Oct, they haven’t started anything remotely related to a server mesh yet. So there’s that too.
What is so hard about fixing the performance problems is that the game is pushing the engine way beyond what it was designed to handle. Fixing that means fundamentally changing how systems work while simultaneously trying not to break everything in the game that uses them. Big performance gains that require making big changes take time. Sometimes we have to do a lot of restructuring before we can even start working on an optimisation. Making all these changes can introduce a lot of bugs, and fixing those takes even more time. Let’s also not forget that performance is not the only goal here – we’re also trying to achieve fidelity levels not seen before. Fidelity is often the enemy of performance, so we find ourselves having to optimize even further than we otherwise would have had to.
Yes Clive, we know. It’s almost as if you guys chose the wrong engine to make this game.
And that’s why the project is FUBAR and you guys are never – ever – going to get a “game”, let alone an MMO, out of this train-wreck.
Because it’s related, Clive’s follow-up comment (link)
Having reached zero barrier point, back when I wrote the April 2016 blog about the impending E.L.E, they all knew that the networking layer which needed to be rewritten from scratch, wouldn’t have even made that much difference to the game’s performance issues anyway. The decision about whether or not to scrap it all and build a new custom engine – which the execs didn’t want to entertain – but instead decided to go with Lumberyard – was the defining factor that has hastened the project’s demise. Which was probably the reason behind not disclosing to backers that they were in fact planning to switch from base CryEngine to Lumberyard.
By throwing out all these buzz words related to networking, then making statements indicating that networking was in fact going to not only improve, but would also solve the game’s performance issues, they created a scenario that’s now playing out. It was all lies designed to continue stringing backers along, because that’s how you raise money. You lie to backers, as you would to bankers, investors, business partners, publishers etc.
RIGHT. SO NOW WHAT?
CIG/F42, if you are reading this, as I’m sure that most of you are, as someone who has a lot of experience with this, and who has made a decent living out of complex and ambitious games, spanning over thirty years, my recommendation for 4.0 (3.0.x is screwed anyway, and there’s no saving that branch):
- Forget about making this into an MMO. It’s just not going to happen. You all know this.
- I know that you have a headless server. I also know that the code that runs on that server is already in the client in some form or another. Merge that back into the client. It’s easier to go from server -> client than from client -> server in such a merge. The latter is bad. Don’t do it because everything will break.
- After the above, create a module running on it’s own thread. All it should do is handle network traffic like a server. It’s basically the code you salvaged from the deprecated headless server. You now have a client and server within the same executable. You could, if you wanted to, split that into it’s own executable and spawn it on-demand if you want. More on this later.
- The backend database that handles the client sign-ons, cash shop etc can remain as-is. However, you should plan to be able to disable all of this because this project is going to crash; and when it does, you won’t want to leave backers with an unplayable game. NOTE: Please start using packet encryption for all such traffic. Not going to say more than that; but don’t be surprised to see hacks down the road with players having all kinds of shit they never paid for, nor should have in the first place. Whoever wrote this, did a sloppy job btw. Also, you could adopt something like PlayFab, or even move to SteamWorks. Like Amazon with Lumberyard, let a third-party handle all that crap because they will be around longer than this project will.
- The current matchmaking is sub-par. Get rid of it and implement Lumberyard matchmaking via GameLift. In fact, as luck would have it, Bruce Brown recently wrote a dev article about it. The goal is for Star Citizen Spergs to be able to invite, meet, and play with their friends in expensive chariots, all in the same session, without having to play guessing games. Yes, there’s a party system but like everything else in Star Citizen, it’s half-assed, restrictive, and needs work.
- Then, focus on fine tuning the 16 player experience in this new environment. It’s better to have a LOT of 16 player game sessions in which everyone is having fun, than to have none at all – which is precisely where this project is headed. As you are probably aware, 3.0 is as stable as 2.6.3; and the later is only stable because nobody is playing it.
- Having done all of the above, you can go back and release a headless console server to backers, allowing them to setup their own dedicated servers either on their own, or via third-party services like G-Portal, Ping Perfect etc. Note that this satisfies the private servers promise which, as you know, you’re never going to fulfill if you’re making an MMO. This also cuts down drastically on AWS costs which I know has to be killing you guys.
- With all of the above as the 4.0.x branch, assuming you survive (you won’t) the 6-8 months it will take to implement, go back and draw up a list of everything Chris promised (use ours). Then pick out the ones that at doable within the new non-MMO framework and present it to backers. Scrap everything else. Yes, backers are going to be mad as hell, but it’s better to deliver something, than to deliver nothing.
Furthermore, Chris’s upcoming plan to start pushing SQ42 as the way to bring in new money, aside from the fact that there is no game there either, is going to fail. It’s a non-starter, and it’s not going to bring in enough money to fund a project that’s burning over $3 million a month. So it’s better to spend the next few months building a stable 4.0.x branch so that backers will have something to play and own when the final lights go out.
Everything is fine, but let’s explain anyway. See what I mean? They do this shit – all the time
Yes, my guess is that some of you may have already considered some or all of the above, but was met with resistance because without Chris and Erin selling MMO, the money train will come to an end. But here’s the thing, I have to believe that there are some of you who are “leads” and “execs” who have some humanity and decency left in you, and which should guide you into seeing this whole thing for what it is now: a complete scam that you’re ALL a part of. The road to redemption and forgiveness, always starts with coming clean and admitting that you’ve done the wrong thing. Yes, it’s shameful, it’s distressing, and it’s career breaking, – but you ALL are going to suffer all of those anyway, so why not do the right thing sooner, rather than later?
You’re all so screwed, that I don’t even know how else to express it. And you have Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Tony Zurovek, and Sean Tracy to thank for that. When you have an entire company with four studios around the world, and there is nobody to stand up to the creators, you don’t have a leadership, you have a dictatorship. At some point, it has to stop being about a pay check. I know that work in the industry is hard to find, especially in the UK, but at some point, you have to do what is right, and just because there is no excuse for complicity.
Star Citizen is yet another example of why games – regardless of cost – get canceled. If this game were at any developer or publisher, it would have been canceled by now, as it would cost more to fix it because the alternative is that you’re in the territory of diminishing returns.
Jesus, these people were sold the gaming equivalent to a unicorn…
and CIG has brought out a goat with a dildo taped to its forehead – @dzunner
December 4, 2017 at 12:53 pm #6056
THE YEAR END CASH GRAB – LAND SALES!
While it should have come as no surprise to anyone paying close attention, on Nov 28th, CIG announced that they were starting to sell land. Yes, land, dirt, in a game that six years and $170M later, is still a glorified tech demo, no vertical slice, and barely 15% functional based on what has been promised since 2012.
Coming on the heels of the EA fiasco over loot boxes in Battlefront II, it was the most brazen and dumb move to date. The FAQ is hilarious.
Starts @10:43. Then @28:00, watch as Chris and Erin banter as if they haven’t been discussing this bullshit for months now
I had always suspected that they would do it at some point. In fact, on Nov 21st, they published a lore post which prompted me to mention, the very next day, that they were probably going to be selling land. But what I didn’t expect was for them to do it at this point in time, and well ahead of the game’s completion.
Then they did, and it all started to make sense; when you consider that they prioritized barren moons (which made their debut in 3.0) over more important features; then released it to Evocati on Oct 6th – almost a month ahead of the Nov anniversary sale. Then, right on cue, they followed that up on Nov 23rd by prematurely releasing it to the Public Test Universe (PTU), in bid to build hype for the sale which started on Nov 24th. A build which has been plagued with delays since 2016 when it was promised (if you missed it, read my Road To 3.0), and which has been a major disaster since it was released to Evocati testing back on Oct 6th.
“Ahahahaha! Sorry, let me try that again. Yes that’s right stargazers, the good folks at Cloud Imperium Games never stop in their quest to bring you the galaxy’s greatest space gahahahahaha!
They’re selling plots of land for money! For a game that isn’t finished! And doesn’t have land claiming mechanics in it! You’d think that selling virtual land gets you somewhere near to the line of ‘money for nothing’ but how much more beautiful it is when the virtual land can’t even be claimed. It’s double virtual, what value!
Here’s how it works: you pony up £37.30 (a round $50) and get a wee beacon in return. This part is real. You stick that beacon in the middle of the land you want to claim and, if it’s not owned by someone else, it becomes yours. That bit is still theory.
Those are some brass balls alright! All the vacuum of space does is make ’em shine even brighter.“
Here’s the thing, we knew this was coming at some point down the road, either post-release, or as part of the final product release.
10 For The Chairman, Nov 24, 2014
Q: Is there a possibility that we get to choose our “home” on a planet. Let’s say for instance that one has discovered a beautiful planet and decides that he/she wants to set up camp on that planet and live there. Can we build or buy our home or hangar and place it on the planet?
Chris Roberts: We’re definitely going to let you… ah… ah… acquire REAL ESTATE on… PLANETS or LOCATIONS… not sure if it’s gonna be on every single one, you know, first it’s gonna be on some of the more developed planets that we’ll basically have hangars you can BUY or you know it’ll be a PENTHOUSE APARTMENT or something with a view that you could get, um…
Longer term we wanna have the ability, I’ve talked about some of the procedural stuff, we’ll have some new AREAS and PLANETS that people discover as they PUSH OUT and perhaps that planet is HABITABLE, there’s a colony, a settlement that starts getting placed.
Amid the lols and the outcry, what’s seemingly lost in translation is this key part of their own FAQ:
“Please Note: These claim licenses are being made available for pledging to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The ability to obtain these claim licenses will ultimately be available for in-game credits and/or otherwise earnable through play in the game. Pledging for these claim licenses now allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen game, and is not required for starting the game.”
Basically, having raised over $170 million Dollars, they somehow need more money to continue development. Remember that back in 2012, Chris Roberts had asked for $2M, then he got $20M, and had promised to deliver two (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) games by Nov 2014. Then having significantly increased the scope of the project, by Nov 2014, they had raised $65M. It’s now THREE YEARS later – no game of any kind exists.
FEATURE CREEP & ENGINEERING DEBT
A lot has been written about the game’s increased scope and continued feature creep. Since that very first 2015 July Blog in which I declared that they could never build the game pitched, and for no less than $150M, a capable engine, and team – they still haven’t done it. As I memorialized on the anniversary of that blog, and also in my Five Year development recap article, it is shocking to me that all this time, instead of focusing on completing a vertical slice of the product, they’re still selling in-game items, thus increasing the engineering debt and hastening the demise of the project. And that’s not just in features, but also in these ship assets, as well as the world itself. Don’t take my word for it, instead, take a look at the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE.
Next, take a look at the ship debt. A vast majority of these are barely in concept (which they sell as JPEGs) stage – with some (e.g. the 890 Jump which they again sold during this sale) having been sold over three years ago. Still not in the game.
The hilarious part is that most of those ships are too big to even fit in the game
If it’s in Red, it’s not in the game
This one should be the most shocking, but it’s the most overlooked aspect. While CIG has been showing off inconsequential nonsense like face tracking, ridiculous procedural city demos, mocap etc, they apparently haven’t been building the actual game world they promised. There is currently only one system. You can’t go anywhere else. And 3.0 adds three, mostly barren, moons.
The game currently has 1 system and 3 moons which are in the yet-to-be-released 3.0 build
THE FUNDING CHART IS A MARKETING GIMMICK
Right on the heels of the disaster that was the land sale, this happened – two days in a row. And this was shortly after they extended the sale from Dec 4th to Dec 11th.
Amid that debate, as CIG has done in the past in which they react to public (especially stuff that I write) opinion & perception in the most hilarious way, it appears that they’ve done it again. Only this time, seeing that the anniversary Nov fundraising had taken a catastrophic dip, they’ve apparently done what they always do: inflate the funding chart to suspicious levels.
We’ve known for sometime now, with concrete evidence, that the funding chart is complete nonsense, designed to show backer confidence in the project, but desperation means mistakes get made. And this time, with the inflated numbers for Dec 1 & 2, they’ve made the biggest mistake yet, and completely shown their hand and added more evidence to this notion that the chart is pure nonsense.
Whales begin to panic that their dream is dying
We know it doesn’t track refunds, investor money, loans, taxes etc. CIG claims that it doesn’t track subscriptions, though that one is up in the air because it NEVER falls below a certain number – EVER.
Basically, as part of the on-going effort to mislead backers, the public facing funding chart is part of the confidence scam used to give backers a false sense of security in order to avoid panic. Like the project, it’s basically a marketing gimmick that bears very little relevance to the reality of the situation. And it’s all perfectly legal as it relates to perception.
I am quite certain that the US and UK corps that gave them loans, are well aware of the true financials of the company. Which is why the Coutts loan which I wrote about this past Summer, forced them to restate their earnings going back two years. How they explain to these corps the discrepancy between the funding chart and their actual financials, is the sort of thing that creative accounting is derived from.
CIG fiddles with the funding chart. Whales settle down
Multiple sources, even those who hear it through third-party within the studios, are well aware that they are financially unstable as they do NOT have the funding to complete the project. It’s not even a secret anymore. And the general belief is that the remaining whale backers who keep giving them money, are well aware that without additional funding, the entire project would in fact collapse. This despite the fact that the project has been fully funded many times over. But then again, psychological issues such as Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance, aren’t easy to overcome.
Totally normal that in 4 days, they raised what took 31 days to make in the same month the previous year
Using the funding chart as part of the confidence trick, isn’t actually illegal. Well, unless you claim that you backed or invested in the project based on that data, then it becomes false advertising, and/or quite possibly fraud. But though I have been hearing that they may get rid of it when the upcoming website revamp goes live, I just don’t see how or why they would get rid of the most important weapon in their arsenal. It’s not like they are giving backers the financial accounting they promised – and which they later removed from the June 2016 TOS revision. You know why this is relevant? Because Sandi Gardiner, wife of Chris Roberts, and the proclaimed VP of Marketing, had stated that they would be getting rid of it. Then they didn’t. That was two years ago this month.
@6:55-10:00 Sandi Gardiner, on the record in Dec 2015 about the funding chart
THE STATUS OF 3.0
As of this writing, having entered Evocati back on Oct 6th, the prematurely released to Public Test Universe (PTU) Nov 13th, it is still an unmitigated disaster. A disaster which, get this, CIG is actually charging backers $10 (by way of subscriptions) to gain access to. A game that they’ve already paid for. They did this due to there being subscriptions which they claim pay for the video series, most of which are just in furtherance of the on-going confidence trick. So if you are a concierge (aka whale) backer, or monthly subscriber, you get access to the PTU build right now – without having to wait for it to go live at some point.
Except that, by many accounts, it is literally unplayable. And we’re not even talking about the fact that it is in pre-Alpha and all that. It’s the fact that, SIX YEARS & $170 MILLION later, this is what backers have as a product.
Even the Evocati testers, who are currently up in arms and engaging CIG in the forum over their lack of progress, the decision to push the build to PTU etc, are still in shock at the whole thing. When you watch the few remaining streamers “playing” the game – usually alone – you are suddenly reminded that after $170M, they barely have something that qualifies for a science project or a mod that a few guys put together in a matter of months. Everything is flat out broken. Performance is in crapper. Functionality is flat-out nonexistent. The UI is shit. And forget about combat – in a game about combat. Let alone it ever being an MMO. They can’t even get 8 clients to play properly in any session, but yeah, they’re totally making an MMO.
1003 videos. 0 games
It was incredulous that having over 3000+ bugs sitting in the bug list for the 2.6.3 build released this past April, and with 3.0 having over 1000+ bugs logged since it went into Evocati on early Oct, they removed the bug count from the dev schedule. Completely. Why? Because, aside from the fact that more bugs were being added than were being completed, backers were using it as a metric to gauge the status of the 3.0 build. The last one looked like this. Then it was gone. They also removed any/all mention of the 3.1 to 4.0 builds. And they did all that ahead of 3.0 release to Evocati, and the anniversary sales. Basically now, they can release 3.0 in any state, declare it ready – and move on. Which, after the content drought for which backers made a handy timeline graphic, brings back memories of the 2.0 release disaster of Dec 2015.
While the refunds Reddit continues to set record post numbers and views, most of the backers on the official Reddit are beginning to wise up to the fact that they’ve literally been scammed, and that there is simply no version of this whereby they ever get the games promised. Which, all things considered is pretty darn hilarious.
But all of this pales in comparison to what comes next, and which should be public soon enough.October 18, 2017 at 9:59 am #5949
THE MMO THAT WASN’T
Hey, remember back in 2012 when they weren’t making an MMO?
Is Star Citizen An MMO?
No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.
Then all of a sudden they totally were? Yeah, me too.
Please read this statement from the website. It’s the most amazing piece of game design horse shit that you could only make up if you were dreaming while high, and your brain was totally disconnected from reality. Here is an excerpt:
“In Star Citizen there is going to be one persistent universe server that everyone exists on. So you will never be separated from your friends, and if you want you’ll be able to join up and adventure together, you can. Due to the fidelity of the dogfighting and physics simulation we can’t however handle thousands of players in the same area of space. Even if you had enough internet bandwidth to handle the data going back and forth and a super computer for the server there’s no PC, even with quad SLI that could render that many spaceships with Star Citizen’s fidelity.
So the “magic” of Star Citizen’s multiplayer design is how we combine a persistent universe with a more traditional (and easier to implement) temporary multiplayer “battle” instance.” – Chris Roberts on Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing, Nov 11, 2012
Which is how we get to this, directly from About The Game:
From the mind of Chris Roberts, acclaimed creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer, comes STAR CITIZEN. 100% crowd funded, Star Citizen aims to create a living, breathing science fiction universe with unparalleled immersion… and you’re invited to follow every step of development.
More than a space combat sim, more than a first person shooter and more than an MMO: Star Citizen is the First Person Universe that will allow for unlimited gameplay.
But wait!! Let’s take a trip down the memory lane of bullshit promises, shall we? Trust me, this one is good as a setup…
“We have chosen Google Compute for our initial cloud implementation as we think its the best combination of power, price and flexibility. We are attempting to build a dynamic server system where local nodes can be spun up to handle the hi-fidelity server “instances” in areas that would help reduce the ping for people that are matched together. Arena Commander is our test bed for this. When you join a multiplayer match you are currently connected to a game server by the matchmaking service. This server eventually will spin up on demand in an appropriate location to the people that the match maker has put together. In the PU as you travel around a Star System (or jump from one to another) every time you come out of “warp” (or jump) you’ll be handed off to one of these server instances that will be spun up on demand taking into account where the people that have been contextually matched together are playing from. As we’re first prototyping / building on Google Compute this will naturally happen where there are Google Compute data centers. With some extra work we can fold other Linux Server Cloud providers into the matchmaking and server management. But it doesn’t make sense to do this before we’ve even finished the base system on Google Compute. Right now we spin up a fixed number of servers in the Google NA data center for the current multiplayer. One of the ongoing engineering tasks is to make this dynamic based on demand and then at different data centers around the world. Once this happens we would be ready to expand it to other cloud server providers if need be. Its pretty likely that Australia will get a local Google Compute data center before this but if not we would spend a little extra time making the backend system game server provider agnostic.” – Chris Roberts, Nov 12, 2014 (Note: In 2016, they had to switch to AWS due to their use of the Lumberyard game engine. I wrote about that)
You know what pattern recognition is, right? Sure you do…
“Q: What type of work is being done to increase the server population capacity? Should we expect to see 24 or 32 player instances in the near future?
A: The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY, I think, ah, if you’ve been watching some of the chatter on the recent, ah, PTU RELEASES, and, ah, you know, what’s gonna be in 2.2… eh, it is, ah, gonna be 24 players, so we’ve been working, ah, ah, HARD on sort of optimizing areas so we can sort of scale more, I think I’ve mentioned before that the, you know, the biggest issue that we have is uhm, uh, just the overhead that the ships have because they’re very complicated, they have multiple… items that have all this functionality, they need to talk to each other over the network… they’re attached to SHIPS, a ship isn’t just one entity you know, in the case of a HORNET it can be fifty or sixty, in the case of a BIGGER ship it’s a lot more than… fifty or sixty, so they’re very heavy, ah, sort of PROCESSING WISE and the SERVER in terms of just SIMULATION and also in… in network, um, sort of TRAFFIC…
So, in general, that’s, em, you know, more the limiting… FACTOR which… we’ve been WORKING ON, so we’re… we’re REFACTORING a lot of things to… make it much more, ah, SMART about when it has to UPDATE, ah, and all the other things and that sort of ties into the work that we’ve done in the past on the ZONE SYSTEM, we’re doing sort of a, uh, whatever you wanna call it, a NETWORK LOD and an UPDATE LOD that sort of scopes depending on, you know, whether you can SEE THINGS, how FAR AWAY they are, whether they are ACTIVE, whether it’s another PLAYER, whether it’s relevant to YOU and… so hopefully all that stuff em, you know, helps… increase the load that we can do and we’re doing things like we’re… we’re… you know, pushing more and more into MULTIPLE CORES, more… MULTI-THREADING to, you know, be able to do more… you know… PHYSICS PROCESSING at the same time as we’re doing more sort of entity updating and simulation.
So ehm you know, part of the benef… part of the result of that is moving to more players in, eh, CRUSADER, we’ll continue and we’re expecting to continue to sort of push that over time, eh, to get more and more and uh, you know we’re actually working on… some ah, BACK END SERVER MESH TECH uhm, that will allow us to ah, sort of MESH A LOT MORE… players all in essentially what will be kind of sort of the same, ah, INSTANCE, uhm so but that’s sort of ah, you know a LITTLE further along, but, eh, it’s ahh… yeah, I think EXCITING so I think we’ll be able to DELIVER probably more players than we were thinking originally… in concurrent areas… ah… so… when I think, actually there’s a question about that so… I maybe talk a bit more about it then…” – Chris Roberts, 10 For The Chairman, Feb 29, 2016 (Transcript courtesy of SomethingJones, Goon transcriber)
Remember this interview statement from Erin Roberts?
“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.” – Erin Roberts, Feb 17, 2017
Guess what that “big release” was back then? Yup, you guessed it. That would be what is now the heavily scaled back 3.0 which was totally coming out back in Dec 2016.
I’ve been calling (e.g. here, here) bullshit on this MMO nonsense for over two years now. And you know what? $160M and five years later, NONE of that shit is even implemented. And they can’t even get more than 8 clients playing reasonably well in a single server instance. And they somehow managed to make it worse in the current 3.0.
And just as Chris Roberts claimed above that 128 clients being the theoretical client limit back in 2003 for Freelancer, currently, anything above 12 clients in Star Citizen, is an impossible limit with nothing theoretical about it. Nothing even remotely theoretical about it. Every single client count they cite, when actually reproduced (some have done it, there are videos) by players, has ended up being an absolutely buggy slide-show.
Remember CIG dev, Clive Johnson, from this post he made back in May?
“In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader. 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. However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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.” – Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, May 23, 2017
Back when the above post showed up, I had written this extensive article counting all the ways that, Red flags aside, it was all a load of horse shit. Well, this latest post that he made should come as little or no surprise. It’s hilarious even.
“You’re right that the networking side of things doesn’t get the spotlight very often – that’s just the nature of the work really. Other teams will often have something that they can visually demonstrate to the community to show their progress, but that’s rarely the case for us. A lot of what we do is under the hood, and for us progress is that the game looks exactly the same but some graph is a bit higher, or a bit lower. It’s important stuff, but not visually compelling. That’s ok, instead we get to say cool things like, “we work in the shadows – like ninjas.” I think sometimes this lack of visibility can be misinterpreted as secrecy or a lack of progress, but neither of those is the case, and pretty much everything we do is shown in the production schedule. The only things that aren’t in there are those that can’t easily be scheduled like bug fixing. Also sometimes we need to change priorities and the schedule can lag behind a bit.
To give you an update on the specific technologies you asked about:
- Server meshing – not started yet. Our plan was always to make the single-server experience better and more optimized first. Server meshing is going to build on the technologies we’re creating for single servers, so these all need to be in place before we can start. Also it is going to be challenging and complex work that will need the focus of the whole network programming team, so once we start work on it we don’t want to be fighting a war on two fronts.
- Network bind/unbind (aka bind culling) – the network side of this is pretty much done. This was a big refactor of how the network code is structured to allow the server to individually control which entities each client knows about and will receive updates for. Previously the code just wasn’t set up like this, but now that refactor is complete. Actually seeing the benefits of this in a pre-alpha release is still a while off though. To avoid clients experiencing loading stalls each time a new planet or ship comes in to view, we’ll need object container streaming, and that’s still being worked on. On top of that, unbinding or streaming out entities on clients is likely to cause a lot of bugs, and it’s going to take time to find and fix them. These bugs will arise anywhere code assumes that an entity will be present on a client. For example consider a mission objective that requires you to talk to Miles Eckhart. To help you find Miles your client needs to render a marker on your HUD to show his current location, but Miles is on a different planet (literally not figuratively) that is currently streamed out on your PC, so it won’t know where to draw the marker. In this situation the client might crash, but even if it didn’t you’d be unable to progress any further with the mission. To end on a more positive note though, things have now progressed to the point where we can start looking for and fixing these bugs.” – Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, Oct 14, 2017
I’m gonna need help from some friends to express my feelings about this one….
Let me summarize this for you. Five years later, they not only have a badly broken mess of a pre-Alpha, with sub-par standard multiplayer, but they haven’t even started with core tech that could possibly form the basis for anything remotely resembling a multiplayer layer for an MMO game. And my guess is that they’re never – ever – going to get there. So there is no way in hell they’re going to ever get an MMO out of this shit-show. Heck, if they get to the part where they ever get 16 players in a server instance playing reasonably well, and as expected, I will personally send Chris Roberts an autographed card.
FYI: Right now, one of the hottest games, PUBG, has server instances with up to 100 players in a single session. And it just works. Not to mention the number of multiplayer games which don’t even consider 32 players a high limit anymore. But Star Citizen, with all this money and supposed talent, can’t get a session based client-server game running with even a 16 player low limit without the server heading South of the border.
Heck, even without having the luxury of time and other people’s money, when we were building Line Of Defense, right from the onset the multiplayer technology was designed to work in either a standard session based client-server model, or as an MMO with client limitations. That took us the better part of over four years to get it right.
This isn’t something you just tack on several years down the road. Don’t take my word for it, read some of these legacy articles (1, 2) if you think that a “multiplayer game” is the same as a “massively multiplayer game”. Heck, go ask the guys working on Dual Universe or Battlespace Infinity if they left the massive multiplayer part for last.
EVOCATI 3.0 PLODS ONWARD
You probably know by now that 3.0 is in Evocati, and the leaks about how horrid it is, keep coming. And even with CIG actively using DMCA to take down videos (though back in 2014 Chris Roberts said they would do no such thing) showing how shit it is, leaks keep coming out. The build isn’t getting any better. And we’re now up to 3.0.0e. With CC2017 around the corner.
Alpha Patch 3.0.0e has been released to the PTU, and is now available for Evocati to test! It is strongly recommended that players delete their USER folder for the Public client after patching, particularly if you start encountering any odd character graphical issues or crash on loading. The USER folder can be found (in default installations) at C:\Program Files\Roberts Space Industries\StarCitizen\LIVE.
Important: Evocati Focus: New patcher, station traversing, ship spawning, StarMap app, quantum travel, landing, air traffic control (atc) system, quantum fuel usage/balance, hydrogen fuel usage/balance, stage 2 afterburner
All the ships are flyable, but the following are the ships that have had the most attention and focus specifically for this wave of Evocati release: Gladius, Hornet Series, Sabre, Vanguard, Constellation Series, Cutlass Black, Caterpillar, Nox, Dragonfly, Prospector, Freelancer, Aurora series
We would like you to focus on the above for this initial wave of testing and bug reports.
NOTE: Other content and features are in and listed in the notes, but currently not the focus of this testing phase as they undergo bug fixes and polish. Additionally, there’s content that is not listed in the notes that are intended for live release and will be added iteratively during the testing cycle.
The issues section is a calamity of hilarity. Most of the items have been in there since the first 3.0 was released on Oct 5th. Remember back when I said if they release 3.0 inside of 4-6 months, the bugs are just going to pile on top of the pre-existing 3000+ currently in 2.6.3 (released back in April 2017)? This was the patch that was totally coming out in Dec 2016.
Major Known Issues:
- Code 20007/30007 errors
- All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there.
- The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
- Stage 2 afterburner does not work in “atmosphere”
- Content missing key elements:
- User Interface
- Insurance and Persistence
- Internal Ship Docking
- Comm System
- Bugs, issues, and work arounds (W/A):
- All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there
- Sabre has nothing on MFD screens
- The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
- Ballistics leave “replace me” textures in Star Marine
- Some purchasable items at Dumper’s Depot can not be interacted with
- MobiGlas may occasionally lock your character – W/A: Spamming F1 may recover
- When interacting with kiosk the mouse can become detached from the UI – W/A: Bring up other mouse cursor with RALT
- You can make claims on ships that are not lost, destroyed, or damaged
- Can not remove undersuit on PMA
- Vehicle customizer app on wrong MobiGlas button and not yet functioning
- ESP is may not be functioning in all instances
- Constellation spawns without cargo
- You are able to sell cargo from a destroyed ship
- Repaired wings don’t always restore weapons
- MFD screens do not fit on the panels of the Dragonfly
- Starfarers and Constellations may float of the pad when spawned or accessed
- Ground vehicles can not be spawned at ASOP terminals
Now word is that, as CitizenCon 2017 is next Friday, they’ve started working on yet another more stable branch which is rumored to be played at the show. I doubt they will be dumb enough to do that again, following the GamesCon 2017 shit-show. If they have 2.6.3 loaded on the machines they are currently setup for the show, I will be laughing so hard. In fact, it would be truly hilarious for people to have paid to attend CC2017, then get to play 3.0; while other backers who also funded the game, can’t get their hands on it if they’re not in Evocati. But hey, that’s CIG, and they know their core backers are a bunch of fools going through a various aspects of Stockholm’s Syndrome and Sunk Cost Fallacy.
NO, SERIOUSLY, REFUNDS ARE OVER
You were warned. This is completely real. Not going to say anything more about that.
Some people are already headed for small claims court apparently.
If you don’t believe that they’re refusing refunds now because they are low on funds, but because CS staff who have nothing to do with development, are totally working on 3.0 so they don’t have time to look into it, you’re a fool who deserves to be scammed. If the fact that, in those emails they are now citing the TOS, while telling you that you’re not entitled to a refund, don’t serve as a huge Red flag and warning sign, please, by all means, keep giving them money so the Ponzi scheme can keep going that much longer. The end result will be even more hilarious; and we just get to laugh at those guys.October 13, 2017 at 10:17 am #5914
CHRIS ROBERTS HAS COMPLETELY LOST IT
These broadcasts are, among other things, about letting backers know the state of the project. They’ve been part of a long running ruse that backers who pay extra for a monthly subscription (yes, you get to pay a monthly sub fee that supposedly pays for these shows) are somehow paying to make them. That aside from the fact that backers have given this company $160M, but are still being asked to pay for what is basically ego stroking where backers only get to see and hear what it is Chris and Erin want them to see and hear. Yea, all under the guise of “open development”, which is a rather hilarious misnomer.
Ignore the fact that, given the backer count, and the view counts for these videos, over 97.4% of the backers don’t even watch them. At all.
There are so many examples of this bullshit, that I’ve basically lost count. However, the biggest one has to be from Dec 2016 when backers found out (through me of course, and before the newsletter even went out), that for the better part of that year, they were in the process of switching from one CryEngine derivative to another. The first time backers found out about this after it appeared in my Twitter feed, was when the 2.6 patch with the first implementation, was released. In all the shows throughout 2016; all the newsletters, all the publications, not once was this mentioned to backers. The reason, as we later came to find out, is because they didn’t want to cause panic, let alone admit that “Derek Smart was right” back in 2015 when I wrote that they couldn’t build the over-scoped game with the engine they chose. Of course nobody thought they would jump out of the frying pan, into a boiling pot. I wrote about that extensively back in Dec 2016.
Throughout his history, he has always blamed others for his disastrous failures, decisions etc. To the extent that, if you look back, EVERY SINGLE company and project he has ever spearheaded since Wing Commander the game – which was controlled by a publisher btw – has ended in COMPLETE DISASTER. Every. Single. One. And that’s not hyperbole, it’s FACT. And Star Citizen is no different.
Which brings me to this latest broadcast of Oct 12.
Yeah, because that totally looks like an inspired dev team
With the much awaited 3.0 patch out to Evocati testing, and which has been ruled to be an unmitigated disaster which I recently wrote about in a new blog, this latest broadcast, if nothing else, shows that not only is the project on it’s final legs, but that Chris has completely lost it. I don’t even know where to begin. Thankfully, our archivist Goon once again risks brain damage by transcribing the key parts of this broadcast. Note that the pressure, stress and strife seen in that broadcast, are a direct toll from the project being a complete disaster – and everyone in that broadcast knows this. And most are talking to friends and family about it.
The first gem comes @ 4:50
Wilmslow Studio – Dev
“Once we’ve figured out the last 10001 disconnect issue, we’ve got a build here from the UK, just deployed from… that was kicked off earlier this afternoon that should… the fixes for the disconnect seem like they’ve ‘taken’, we could get another code build done or a full build if we absolutely needed to, go through the process of putting that up to the Evocati so that we can get them… those fixes rolled out to them today, ah.. which is good… a couple of…”
“Eh, ahhh I wanted… to mention it at project leadership meeting but it’s important that the… QUALITATIVE feedback, uh… is filtered through, ah… TARD… and we’ll make priority calls on it ‘cos… there’s some STUFF like you know, the 10001 error codes, yes with them we’re definitely… we’re definitely fixing, but then you know there’s some SUBJECTIVE feedback of like, “I don’t like THIS or I do like THIS” or whatever, now some of those issues they’re calling out we already know about we’re already working at addressing…
I always get a bit WORRIED because first of all we’re getting ah… kind of SUBJECTIVE feedback that’s sort of ANECDOTAL and so you know someone can have a strong OPINION but you know like, that could be THEIR opinion and maybe different to someone ELSE’S opinion as to whether it’s a bug or not… so it has to go through the FILTER of us on the very HIGH LEVEL of the kind of DESIGN SIDE to make sure that you know, it’s something that we wanna AGREE because a lot of the times people can’t see the BIG PICTURE when they’re making, ah… you know… FEEDBACK ‘cos they don’t know where the, you know, they’re like, “WELL THIS IS MISSING! I NEED THIS!” and we’re like ‘yeah, no shit we know it’s missing’, it’s kind of like on our TASK LIST, we’re working on it right now, and we understand that… you know… it hurts your ability to dogfight if you can’t see the status of your TARGET… or the status of your SHIP
Um, so… so I just wanna make sure we do that ‘cos we’re all worried that we automate it, some of these like subjective feedback get re-upped to JIRA, they get put in somebody’s BUCKET, maybe they get ASSIGNED and you know… we’ll spend some time working on stuff that needs to have… kind of… ahh… DIRECTION and… and… and… and… ORDER and PRIORITY called out.
SOMETIMES what people want to get FIXED, the solution is SOMEWHERE ELSE to fix the issue they’re complaining about… so on the subjective stuff I kinda wanna make sure that, um… we’re going through a FILTER on that.“
By the time we get @ 6:07, it was already off the rails.
“….a lot of times people can’t see the big picture when they’re making feedback…they’re like “well this is missing I need this!” and we’re like “yea no shit we know its missing! Its kind of like on our task list we’re working on it right now“
By the time @ 7:20 rolls around….
Wilmslow – Director’s Meeting, Erin Roberts
“So it’ll be handy also if… if… when we get to the stage when we are, you know, looking at whether we’re gonna go… LAUNCH… ah, you know, do this every day as well… it would be nice to know what, you know, stuff was FIXED today, or, you know, GOING IN today as well, that kind of information would be great… that would be good… so… we know what we’re actually putting into the build and so forth, I know the information’s passed to… WILL and those guys because they need it to tell people but I have no idea.”
Ricky Jutley (Senior Producer)
“Yep, I think it’s TUESDAYS basically, I think moving forward TUESDAYS will incorporate the live sync within the director’s sync, and the PU will have to go first, and people obviously listen to that kind of stuff, and um, that will be the way that TUESDAYS has to kind of run”
“I think what Erin… Erin was saying was actually what I was gonna kind of bring up, which was… you know… the way I look at it we’re in Evocati now, we’ve got 800 testers instead of 70 testers… and we should be looking to deliver a build every day if we can to them ‘cos we have the DELTA PATCHER… but… the key is not so much about, ‘oh we’ve got one blocker, there’s a crash here or a deadlock here’, which was sort of the approach we were taking in like getting it to Evocati… the KEY is like, ‘OK! What bits of the thing we’ve still left to do are vying for this coming MONDAY’, what about this coming TUESDAY cos… I don’t wanna have like only one blocker fixed, right? Cos we’ve got people finishing CONTENT, you know, doing LIGHTING, you know…
OK? And we… you know… these… these three areas have now being LIT, have they gone in? This SHIP has now been brought over to item two point zero has it gone in? That’s kind of it, cos what we actually want to do is have a steady stream of… ah… you know… things are getting like… FINISHED OFF or FIXED UP… putting in… and we want an… “Ok, here’s an Evocati, here’s the things that have gone in that we think we’ve fixed’, cos you’re basically… you’ve just got to sort of manage that over time so we’ve… we’ve got to get into that MODE as opposed to the… you know… what three bugs have we got to fix before we CAN go to Evocati“
…we were completely off the rails by @ 9:20
Wilmslow – Dev/QA
“So the next steps for us here in… CIG… is, we’re focusing on the SHOPPING ah, feature… SHOPPING and commodities as… as a FEATURE… em, to… PRESENT… to the Evocati and say, this is now… in a STATE were you guys can just… GO NUTS! Go ahead! Buy, sell… so, whatever you want”
Jake Ross (Producer)
“We’re fixing bugs left and right, we’ve got issues were certain CLOTHING items… CLOTHING and items aren’t showing up in the shops right, there’s issues were you can’t interact with an item through a glass case, ‘cos the glass is getting in the way with the interaction system so we’re trying to figure that out, uh… and we’re trying to work out some KINKS with the TRY ON MODE were when you look to inspect a… uh… uh… an ITEM like a ship component or something, the character will look around like he’s got… look… got GLOVES on and he’s looking at his GLOVES so like we’re just ironing out kinks getting everything working really well”
Spencer Johson (Assoc Gameplay Engineer)
“So right now I’m focusing on a suite of different SHOPPING related bugs and features that we’re pushing out to the Evocati soon… ah, today a couple of them are focused on the weapons being attached to the item ports on the shelves, so we got… trying out a weapon in the shop, drops it onto the floor for remote players, uh… weapon models disappear after inspecting them (he’s reading all this off his screen btw), these are the GREAT kind of bugs cos they’re not 100% repro, so they only happen sometimes… which are always the best to find and solve…”
Wilmslow – Dev/QA
“So what we’ve done is, eh.. we’ve taken… our… um… TOP ISSUES that we wanna get fixed, these are a collection of uh… BUGS and TASKS, ah, we’ve gathered those together, put them into the Evocati FIXED VERSION, and our internal JIRA tracking software and um… this is where we saw the burndown graph come from the last time, so when you see this report go out you’ll see the… the NEW LIST of numbers… oh, sorry, the new TOTAL number.“
The general demeanor of most everyone in that conference call, screams of resentment, resignation, frustration, and stress. Aside from the obvious clues that most in there don’t even respect Chris enough to pay any attention to his drivel, the fact remains, this project is FUBAR and Chris has completely lost it.
The arrogance of it all is that, toward the end of the broadcast @ 41:08, he says this:
“….it’s been just over five years since we first announced Star Citizen at GDC in Austin on Oct 10th, which was two days ago. And it’s incredible to think how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and only been possible because you’ve supported us along the way“
Yeah, for a project that was said to be coming in Nov 2014, then over-scoped, has been coming out every year since then; and now is almost three years late this coming November.
3.0 EVOCATI TURNMOIL
You see, here’s what backers don’t know. The 3.0 build, having been rushed out to Evocati in order to start drumming up the concept that it was almost ready, is a complete disaster. Let’s ignore the connection problems of the past 48hrs, or the fact that the build is still a performance nightmare, flat out broken, missing a slew of features they claimed was already completed etc – all the things I have previously written about. Let’s focus on the fact that, as of this minute, while largely unplayable, CIG is not only now saying – on the record – that backer input is inconsequential and meaningless, but that they’re not even going to listen to feedback anyway. Which explains the 3000+ bugs currently in 2.6.3, and the dozens that have so far been found and logged since 3.0 went to Evocati on Oct 5th. And all the bugs they decided to shove under the carpet weeks ago, are now rearing their ugly heads in all aspects of the 3.0x build. To the extent that even when Evocati do encounter and report them, they are told not to report anything that’s not part of the “focus testing” for the specific build.
So, last night, following this AtV and aside from the ire over the Gladius cockpit and MFDs, the bullshit helmet HUD that’s coming back etc, there were quite a few very upset Evocati testers. The hardcore ones at that. Basically, all of what has gone on in the past regarding the seventeen months long Evocati program, just unraveled in a single broadcast in which Chris and his cohorts basically confirmed that it’s all a sham and publicity stunt. Imagine this. There are about 800+ Evocati testers now. Last we checked, not even 100 of them have even touched the build. Those who came in during the initial wave, saw the mess, and never game back. I know this because, guess what, leaks aside, everyone is talking.
And the worst part of it is that streamers like AstroPub who are in Evocati and who do know what’s going on, spend most of the time sweeping it under the carpet, helping CIG mislead and lie to backers, while pretending that everything is OK. And that’s got nothing to do with the NDA btw because, right there in the chat, instead of holding CIG’s feet to the fire, they’re basically playing the submissive game, while making asinine passive aggressive comments. Because, you know, nobody wants to get kicked out of the exclusive club for speaking up. Which is how we get leaks like this. Unfortunately for them, with the number of Evocati now ready to fall on their swords as a result of 3.0 not being what it was hyped up to be, ALL of it going to come out at some point – screen grabs and all. And I’m going to publish it. All of it. My attorney is on speed dial. Bring it.
THE REFUND CASCADE
A few months back, sources had told me that CIG was 1) going to stop doing refunds 2) release a new ToS, possibly to go with the 3.0 patch release. However, less than hours after my latest blog went live, and I sent out the tweet below, a slew of posts appeared on the refund Reddit, indicating that CIG was now refusing refunds. There is even a thread now with tips on how to take legal action.
“You can still get a refund. Do it before the window closes cuz they ARE going to stop giving them. $3K refunded” – Tweet
I reached out to my sources and but nobody knows what is going on. My one credible source was the one who told me that he has to check around because they (devs) have no clue wtf management is even doing from one minute to the next. They he came back later and basically said that’s the policy going forward. He did say that the person who notified him, said that she was told that it was always the policy, but that they were issuing refunds on a case by case basis all this time and not something they were required to do.
Right. Where have we heard that before? Oh I remember.
It seems to me that this “delay” to issue refunds, financial ability aside, is probably a ploy to hold off on spending any money, until they get to see the reaction of the 3.0 release or non-release. You see, that’s precisely how a Ponzi scheme collapses. Once new money isn’t enough to pay off old money, or if you need to conserve cash, the whole thing collapses. CIG has basically been using new backer money, to refund old backers who want out. And we already knew that it simply wasn’t sustainable in the long term; especially with the project in turmoil, and over three years late. There is no plausible reason to “delay” refunds to people who were already in the refund process, under the guise of “hey we’re busy with 3.0; fuck off”. Which begs the question: what the hell does CS staff have to do with development – for a project that currently employs over 300 people worldwide?
Thing is this:
- If they release 3.0 before or during CitizenCon (Oct 27th) in this condition, they’re screwed.
- If they release 3.0 it before year end in this condition – like they did with 2.6 which released in mid Dec 2016 – they’re screwed.
- If they don’t release 3.0 before year end, at either CitizenCon, during the anniversary stream, or before year end, they’re screwed.
Now, speaking as a game dev, this wouldn’t be an issue if your development wasn’t tied to on going funding. But because CIG clearly needs the money – via the goodwill of ignorant backers stuck in sunk cost fallacy, and Q4 being their biggest fundraising period, the decision to hold onto 3.0 for another six months while they get it in a better condition, is a disaster. It’s almost as if they don’t really have money in reserves as Chris has claimed, and that they do need the on-going funding in order to survive. If the perception of 3.0 wasn’t tied to financials, they wouldn’t be hiding it behind Evocati, taking steps to out and ban those who are leaking info about it, issuing (there
is nocredible evidence yet that CIG is behind this, despite statements made in 2014 to the contrary) DMCA takedowns of YouTube video leaks etc. Even the delta patcher, which works for the most part, is enough to allow them to release the 3.0 build to all backers as-is, because that whole notion of keeping AWS costs down by not making early builds accessible to all backers, goes out the window. Not that it ever made sense, because why else would they need to hide it behind an NDA if Evocati selection was necessary in order to save on costs?
As I’ve said before, CIG are well within their right to refuse and/or delay refunds as they see fit. Whether or not it’s legal, is left up to the courts and the government officials. You mad enough yet? Well how about this guy who was given a $10K+ refund check he can’t cash?
Get a refund, fool. The game is never – ever – coming out.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED (INDEFINITELY)
Shockingly, in the latest newsletter Chris has declared that the December anniversary stream will showcase Squadron 42. Which means it’s not releasing in 2017. I called this one back in May. Now that it has no release date showing on the website, safe to say that it will either be canceled, or will be part of the early access change that Star Citizen is about to enter. Which means they don’t have to deliver it or Star Citizen. Ever.
“SQUADRON 42 DELAYED TO 2018
As I reported on Twitter earlier today, several sources, as they have done twice before in 2015 and 2016, have once again informed me that SQ42 is now a 2018 game. In fact, the current internal schedule shows it stretching all the way to mid-2018, and possibly beyond. The past two times that I had reported this, some people didn’t believe it. And CIG kept denying it. This Sept 2016 denial was my favorite. Both 2015 and 2016 came and went. Right up to the blatant lies that CIG told during the events (GamesCom and CitizenCon) of Q4/2016. I wrote extensively about that in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016.
Sources also tell me that they’re frantically trying to either get a preview or trailer out before the end of the year. So yeah, probably a repeat of Q4/2016 all over again.
Oh, and they have definitely chopped up the SQ42 game. I reported on this back in 2016 as well, but they have apparently stuck to the goal of releasing the once full game, into bits and pieces in order to “keep things going and raising money”. It makes perfect sense if you ask me. They know that the minute they release any “final” version of any portion of this train-wreck project, that’s it’s all over. So why not maintain the bait and switch Status Quo by splitting a full game into parts, then sell them separately? If you recall, they did that back in 2016 when they split SQ42 from Star Citizen, in order to sell it separately. Except this time, they’re going to split SQ42 even further. Which, now that I think about it, explains why you can buy that game for $15 (instead of $45) if you buy it as a bundle ($45 + $15) with Star Citizen. My God man! We’re doing it all wrong.“
The last time this happened, it was Star Marine. It was delayed for years, continuously hyped to the hilt, then rushed out in the 2.6 update released in Dec 2016 as the only tangible release that whole year. It was immediately forgettable, and died shortly after.
Meanwhile over on /r/games, as of this writing, this post had almost 500 upvotes.
“As I’ve pointed out before, back in January 2015, Roberts delivered a presentation in which he claimed that not only would the first episode of Squadron 42 be released by Fall 2015, but the full commercial release – meaning SQ42 and the persistent universe / MMO – would happen by the end of 2016. He made this claim at 1:32:06 in this video.
At the time of this presentation, the PU wasn’t yet in the alpha stage. He seemed to think that his team could get through all of alpha, get through all of beta, and optimize enough for a decent MMO launch in 2 years, all while concurrently working on a single-player game. By saying this, he demonstrated that he either didn’t know what he was talking about, or he was being dishonest. It was probably a combination of the two.
Now, almost 3 years after that presentation, backers still haven’t seen a mission demo of SQ42, and the MMO is in alpha with, I’m guessing, another 1-2 years of alpha ahead of them. At this rate, I would be impressed if the first episode of SQ42 gets released by 2020, and the MMO gets released by 2023.“October 10, 2017 at 10:03 am #5856
Five years ago today, what was to become an unprecedented scam, hit the unsuspecting PC gaming industry. In my latest blog, I look back to those days, and where we are today.September 26, 2017 at 9:43 am #5840
REMEMBERING THE JENNISON LETTER
Two years ago this month, barely two months after I started my Star Citizen investigations and subsequently published the infamous July Blog, an ex-employee at the Austin team, David Jennison, wrote what many believe to be the single most compelling indictment of the project by someone working on it; and why it was doomed to fail due to the incompetence of one person: Chris Roberts – Creator
Star Citizen Austin Art Team
When I wrote The Long Con blog that same month, and later caused quite the furor with this long Tweet, I really didn’t think that two years later we’d still be arguing and discussing the very same things, or that the project would inevitably turn out to be the disaster that it currently is. In fact, I actually felt that at some point, having realized that they simply couldn’t build the game promised, that they would restructure the project, go back to basics (the original 2012 Kickstarter pitch), then release a game which they could later build on. But no, that would have been too easy, too logical, and likely killed the hype gravy train.
It’s even more poignant that, as I wrote in the two year anniversary of that blog, the only things that have really changed for the better, are that a development schedule was released, and refunds are happening. Backers still however have no idea what has happened to their money, nor when either of the games will be finished, let alone if they will in fact ever see the light of day in completed form now that an MVP release is on the table again.
The August 2016 Gameranx article, The Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything, which also cited and spotlit the Jennison letter, gave an in-depth look at how things went completely sideways. In September of that same year, Kotaku UK released a five-part series of Star Citizen articles which shed more light on the unfolding disaster. Two of those articles, Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen and What to Make of Star Citizen, served to pose more questions than they answered, simply because, all furor aside, it was just so unbelievable that a once promising project with excessive funding, and which had – at one time hired some of the best people in the industry – could actually fail.
“Robert’s deficit wouldn’t be much of a problem if he trusted the vision of the art directors, people who are actually artist and have directed other artists. But he doesn’t, insisting that he is the only one who can direct the artists. I suspect this is an issue of ego, a man intent on appearing like a visionary. But regardless, the results so far have been disastrous, rife with perpetual rework, wasted time, and mass frustration. No one can buy into CR’s artistic vision because no one, including CR, seems to know what it is.
So the one thing that no one discusses is the biggest problem. Roberts is someone who on a company- wide level is always feared, but never respected. His direction is met with nervous compliance to his face, and rolled-eyed resentment behind his back. When his orders are articulated later to the rest of the team, and basic questions of logic and practicality are inevitable asked, they are met not with an explanation of why CR’s idea is a good one, but the importance of his happiness. The explanation is always the same- “I know it makes no sense, but that’s what CR wants”. This team is filled with people who have experience publishing other titles. Lots. We all know how it is “supposed” to be done. But everyone is faced with the same repeated dilemma, a choice- make CR happy or do what works for the game? Short term survival vs long term wins. And unfortunately it’s the survival option that wins out, mainly because turning away from a directive of CR is a recipe for unemployment.
I am only speaking from one corner of this project, but I know that the micro managerial frustration experience is an epidemic at CIG. Everyone seems to be unhappy for the exact same reason. I don’t foresee anything changing at CIG if Roberts doesn’t change himself. And this is a shame because the company has all the ingredients to do something truly great, if only they would be allowed to do it.” – David Jennison
THE LEGACY OF FAILURE
The veracity of the on-the-record Jennison claims aren’t about whether or not he was genuinely disillusioned or just a disgruntled employee, because that wasn’t even written for public distribution. It just happened to leak to me, I published it, then removed it when he requested that I do so. The underlying tone, also echoed by others who spoke off-the-record to The Escapist that same year, are similar and even more damning. It’s interesting that having threatened (as they tend to) legal action against The Escapist, that never happened. In the end, as I wrote in my The Money Laundromat blog, both CIG and The Escapist reached a settlement in which both sides agreed to remove their statements, rather than litigate (The Escapist would have won – without a doubt) them through expensive and distracting legal action.
When you look back through history, even going by Chris Roberts’ own statements, it’s easy to see how this pattern of conduct that has now affected this project, continues to be the most damning evidence to date.
“In the wake of the collapse of Digital Anvil, co-founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Chris Roberts has spoken about his decision to leave the company he founded just four years ago. As we suspected, the company’s troubles were down to “wanting to develop not only hugely ambitious games, but too many hugely ambitious games”, leaving the company’s finances stretched after four years without a single game being released – the sole title to emerge with the Digital Anvil name on it was actually mostly developed by a small British company. “
At this very moment in time, two years since that very public (1, 2, 3) letter, neither Star Citizen nor the single-player companion game, Squadron 42 have been completed. Based on actual facts culled from what has been released vs what was promised, neither is even 15% completed at this point in time – six years and almost $160M later. And the insider rumors that “Squadron 42 does not exist as a game” are still going around, even as CIG uses various art assets to give the impression that it is still very much in development – and now due out in 2018. Having pledged that game IP in exchange for a payday loan a few months back, they have no choice I suppose.
Captured Sept 24th, 2017. If you think it looks suspicious; that’s probably because it is.
As of the latest metrics, ignoring the fact that not even the Twitch & YouTube streamers who used to play the game regularly are engaging as they once did, of the approximately 400K backers (that oft quoted citizen number is pure rubbish; ignore it) of this project, the abysmal engagement number is excruciating testament to the failure of the project.
Aug 14, 2017 to Aug 23, 2017
Star Marine: 16.9
Arena Commander: 20.2
Murray Cup Racing: 3.0
Sep 13, 2017 to Sep 24, 2017
Star Marine: 16.5
Arena Commander: 23.4
Murray Cup Racing: 3.0
Even the upcoming 3.0 build which has been stripped of most elements that made it a point release, is still largely unplayable – according to several sources (some of whom recently left the project). In fact, when the first public 3.0 schedule appeared in April 2017, I had written that it was just a re-branded 2.7. This was vehemently denied by everyone invested in stifling dissent. That was despite the fact that one of their own “special” Shillizen streamers, already went on the record and confirmed it. The hilarious part is that, right there, he wrote “STAR CITIZEN ALPHA 3.0 FEATURES – Renamed from Star Citizen Alpha 2.7 & Released Planned Before End of 2016“. And that was barely two days after Chris Roberts went on stage and said that 3.0 was due out in December; a fact that many backers dispute (“No! He didn’t promise!”, they proclaim) to this day.
Chris Roberts – GDC2013 Presentation
Even following the disastrous GC2017 event which I wrote about, how anyone looking at what was promised in 3.0 a year ago, can say that what is said to be released “soon” is comparable, continues to astonish. In a bid to release something called 3.0 by CitizeCon 2017 in Oct, or worst case scenario, before year end (2.6 was released on Dec 23, 2016), they continue to cut things out of it or they stand zero chance of delivering any form of 3.0 by year end.
And let’s not ignore the fact that we’re now hearing rumors of what appears to be an exit strategy of sorts, being in the works.
Back in 2015, when the project appeared to be going off the rails, a group of contractors and employees sounded the alarm. Most opted to ignore it; even as others continued to fund the project because in their mind, money would solve the problem.
They were wrong.September 15, 2017 at 4:18 pm #5807
STAR CITIZEN – THE $45K REFUND DEBACLE
I had written briefly about this in a previous article, but decided to make it a new article because a lot of things have since come to light surrounding this refund.
I had said:
We have known for sometime now that there are mega whales backing the project, but this $45K refund is as incredible as it is incredulous. What’s even more ridiculous is that these $15K Completionist packages don’t even include the full complement of ships. Buying one of those, gives you the ability to buy a Javelin destroyer ship which goes up to $1.5K. And it also doesn’t include any ships announced after 2015.
CIG later issued a press statement saying that the refund they gave to that person was for $330, not the $45K claimed; and that the correspondence was “fabricated” to make it look like it was for $45K. This also acknowledges that this ex-backer did in fact request, and receive a refund.
Because there has a been a lot of community chatter (1, 2) around this particular refund due to its size, despite the fact that we are aware of larger verified refunds in the range of $11K to $30K, going all the way back to the Great Refund Debacle, some Goons and myself, decided to take a closer look following CIG officially denouncing it.
I am going to be perfectly honest here, and though several of us were involved in this investigation, I am only speaking for myself: My intentions were neither designed to be noble, nor to exonerate CIG. I merely wanted to catch them – again – making FALSE official statements to the media about yet another Star Citizen controversy because they have done it before to me. If this refund was in fact authentic, and they lied about it, well then that’s a huge blog for me.
Regardless, because I see how something like this could detract from the bigger picture, rather than keep our findings internal, I decided to disclose them. To be clear, I would much rather not even write this article, and just sit back and watch the shadow of doubt about the veracity of CIG’s statements, play out. Think about it, when you have to choose between a backer who did get a refund (confirmed by CIG, regardless of the disputed amount), and a corporation full of lying, scheming bastards, who are you going to believe? And even if there is a shadow of doubt, which side – as a reasonable gamer – are you going to lean toward?
Something like this, sows those seeds of discourse and puts CIG on the continued defensive because, guess what, if their community relations weren’t as bad as they are, and their credibility (which recently took a hammering over the Coutts loans in the UK, the horrific GamesCom 2017 showcase, a new UK shell company, and the project switching to early access) not festering in the bottom of a cesspool, it would be easier to take their word for it, and move on. But alas, here we are.
CIG has a well documented history of lying – blatantly – to the same backers who have thus far given them $160m (see spreadsheet breakdown) to make two games. And they tend to use the media to propagate those very same lies. No offense to David Swofford, who IMO continues to be a well respected PR guy, stuck in this farce because of money and honor to his old buddies. To me, minus the incessant lying, he’s CIG’s version of Sean Spicer; in for a penny, in for a pound – a guy just doing his job. I guess.
THE DUPLICITY OF DISCOURSE
To get things started, I want to make clear that my views on doxing (1, 2) remain unchanged. I am very familiar with online discourse and the legal issues surrounding online speech, defamation, doxing etc. So a bunch of online miscreants don’t get to change the definition of “doxing” to suit their flawed narrative.
No, linking to publicly available social media accounts isn’t doxing, you moron.
As a prolific blogger, and someone who loves his liability insurance, my involvement in the on-going Star Citizen saga remains as I stated back in 2015 after I wrote the now famous July Blog: I seek vindication. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t care one bit if CIG succeeds or fails. It’s all patently irrelevant to me.
What I do care about is that back in 2015 when I said they couldn’t build the game they pitched, and that they were now actively running a scam to fleece backers for money, with promises they can’t keep, they decided to vilify me. And since this project is primarily funded with money from the public (people like me), what I write about it, as long as I don’t break any laws, is 100% of the “public interest“. And there is no getting around that; nor are misplaced outrage and suppositions as to my motivations, going to trump that.
One more thing. When I said that if it came to that, I would do everything in my power to help put Chris Roberts behind bars, I meant it. There can be no mistake nor interpretation of this intent. That’s how strongly I feel about what has happened with this project, and how they have chosen to handle dissenting voices within their own community, employees, and contractors.
OF GOONS, LOLS, AND TROLLS
Being on the Internet for as long as I have, it’s not very hard to realize that, just like in real life, people do things for all kinds of reasons – none of which have to make any sense. Take my Goon brethren (the real legacy ones, not those guys paying Lowtax 10 bux to read the SomethingAwful forum) for example, most of them are potential candidates for psychiatric evaluation – and most will probably fail that eval. If you have been in any discourse with Goons, you will know one thing, and one thing only, it’s all about the lols and the memes. It doesn’t matter how serious you think a discussion is, if there’s a Goon involved, it’s bound to result in one or both of those things – then probably head straight downhill. And in all chaos, what is usually missed is that most Goons are grown-ups who are in all types of professions ranging from law enforcement, attorneys, and high profile higher education fields, to that one guy who came to fix your cable and took pics of your dancing cat. Goons aren’t the “destructive force seeking to damage Star Citizen because CIG didn’t make it like Eve“. That’s the nonsense posted on Reddit by some of the Star Citizen backers who still can’t figure out – for some reason – that they’re on the ass end of a massive trolling campaign for lols. Those “backers” (aka Shitizens) are their own worst enemy, and the single worst thing to ever happen to Star Citizen.
And most Goons are organized into “castes”. Seriously, you could write a whole paper on this because contrary to popular belief, most Goons don’t engage in all activities and discussions just because they’re Goons. If you know what FYAD is, congrats, you’re already screwed. As hilarious as it sounds – plus I’m laughing as I type this – unlike some of the denizens of the cesspool that is Reddit – most Goons have morals and rules. So no, they do not support, let alone condone doxing. To wit, I was temp banned once for the simple act of linking to a public social media profile.
Which brings me to the point. Despite Chris Roberts having spent the better part of 8 fucking hours back in 2015 writing an infantile missive blaming us for his troubles, Goons didn’t pull this troll move of faking a $45K Star Citizen refund. If they did, I’d know about it. Plus whoever did it, would have claimed responsibility by now because, guess what, just like that time they trolled Buzzfeed, this having made the news (even Ars Technica covered it), they would have claimed responsibility by now.
ABOUT THE ALLEGED $45K REFUND
I issued (on my forum and Discord server) an early morning statement as per our findings that ran late into the night.
“Since last night we having been looking more closely at this. As a result, following our investigation, I have come to the conclusion that the $45K refund is FAKE, and was part of a carefully orchestrated effort by this person to create drama. We don’t know why yet – nor do we care.
So I have banned him (Mogmentum) from the server.
As I did with that Deloria scammer prick, I am currently writing an expose article because this was an irresponsible thing to do.
And while it’s good for laughs, regardless of the fact that Goons had nothing to do with it, we simply cannot encourage this sort of thing.
CIG is screwing up all on their own, and we don’t need crap like this to muddy the waters when in fact genuine backers are trying to get their money out of the project. The fact that CIG is actually issuing refunds, even though they can really legally say no (as per the ToS), is enough good faith to not cause these sort of distractions.”
After the Reddit post about the refund appeared, it propagated across the community like wildfire. Then the media picked it up. It wasn’t long before CIG issued their statement calling it “fabricated”. It wasn’t long before the media who reported it, were updating their stories.
While all this was going on, as they tend to do, some morons in the Star Citizen Reddit community, started their “It’s Derek Smart and Goons” narrative in a bid to not only continue to blame us – instead of CIG – for all of Star Citizen’s problems, but also to denounce it as fake. Thing is, each time they get wind of a refund, either on Star Citizen’s official Spectrum forum, or on Reddit, as they tend to do against all dissenting voices, they immediately start attacking the backer writing about the refund. Which is precisely why most backers just refund quietly, and move on. In fact, the Star Citizen Refunds sub only exists because the person who set it up, wanted a “safe space” where helpful information can be obtained for getting a refund; and to discuss those experiences there. It is heavily moderated, and the nonsensical attacks which go on in the official Star Citizen forums and sub-Reddits, aren’t allowed there. And those who are brave enough to post there, do so in order to convey their experiences, not particularly to gloat (though that would be well within their rights; we’re gamers; we bitch about everything) about it.
And yes, there have been at least two instances of a fake refund reported on that sub-Reddit. And both were an effort spearheaded by a since exposed Star Citizen backer, Hater115, who did it – as he claimed – to “expose the fact that fake refunds are possible”. Once we busted him, we subsequently banned (he came back several times, and it was basically a case of whack-a-mole) him from our Discord server as well as my forum.
The reason these guys are embarked on this campaign – as ludicrous as it sounds – is to discredit the authenticity of the backers posting about their refunds in that sub-Reddit. It’s just another way of suppressing any form of dissent against the project. Of course they are totally oblivious to the fact that the more angst and controversy they cause, the worst it looks for CIG and indeed the Star Citizen project. But these guys are complete morons, so common sense need not apply. If they want to generate their own FUD, who are we to object, let alone try to stop them? We don’t care. If it generates lols, we’re all in – always.
In this $45K refund, this person is new to us. And his only Reddit trace (now deleted account) were some posts in the UK political forums. From the trace history, we have an entire profile of his online identity. We made no attempts to link him to a real life identity because that’s up to the media and CIG if they want to do that.
So, basically he registered on my forum on Aug 18th, as user Kastenbrust, and made 22 posts between Aug 18th, and Sept 14th.
He joined my Discord server on the same Aug 18th day, using the same Kastenbrust username. His first post there, was announcing his first post on my forum.
Shortly after the refund news went wide, and some media reached out in an attempt to interview him and get his story, his Reddit account disappeared. We actually only found out about this late in the evening of Sept 14th. Right away, we figured that something was up. Though some of us were still skeptical that he was probably telling the truth, and that he deleted his Reddit account due to harassment – which tends to happen a lot on social media – others weren’t so sure.
In fact, the general consensus was that since there were two refunds claimed, $45K for the org, and $330 (which CIG confirmed) for him personally, perhaps CIG was obfuscating the issue between both refunds, choosing to only acknowledge the personal refund. In fact, the best analogy to explain this, came from, who else but a Goon?
“They didn’t accuse him of lying. They said the individual got a refund for $330 and not $45k. They did not say the corporate card account was not refunded $45k.
Imagine if you were a corporate card holder and bought your company a whole bunch of defective binders from an office supply company. You return them for a refund of $1000.
While you are at the store refunding them, you also get a refund for a stapler that doesn’t work that you purchased personally, on your personal card for $12.
Then you tweet – hey I just got a refund for $1000 on my corporate card and the manager sees the tweet and checks his records. He then tweets out that the individual that tweeted only got a refund for $12, not $1000 alleged previously.
Doesn’t make the original tweet less true.
Secondly, only original transaction records would be definitive proof and only one person has those. Other people can vouch, but who wants the death threats (from anonymous internetters) and threatened legal action (from CIG for tortious interference)that would result from doing so.
Not many people.”
The alarm bells started going off when he later appeared last night on my Discord server as user Mogmentum.
As soon as he showed up, we decided to authenticate who he was so that we didn’t run into an issue of an impostor. Through back channel communications, in which he provided some info only known to the original backer and one of us who he was in contact with after his made his Reddit thread, we determined that this was in fact him.
That’s when the fun really started, and the holes in his story started to appear. Like sharks to fresh blood, we were on it.
Shortly thereafter, using deep web techniques and other supernatural geek methodologies, we were able to link him to various public social media accounts using the same information which he had provided in his original public postings about the refund. Starting with his Twitter account (old, new). In case you recognize that image, it’s of this guy. We know it’s not him, and it won’t be the first time someone is using another person’s image in their social media profile.
It wasn’t long before we traced him back to my forum, and his prior Discord accounts previously mentioned. In fact, he provided so much info that even CIG was able to figure out who he was by looking at the dates in the screen shots he provided; even though he masked his name from them, while leaving the name of the CS staff intact. Also, following the refund, his RSI account was subsequently deleted by CIG, but we had that already.
While on the server, he spent quite a bit of time trying to convince us that both refunds were legit, that his Reddit account was deleted without him knowing about it, implying that there was maybe some collusion between the media, CIG etc. He just kept going. And we let him keep posting, even as we were continuing our investigations. Those in the public channel were encouraging his commentary, while those of us in a secure channel continued our investigation into what went down and how, even as we remain somewhat divided as to whether or not he was telling the truth.
One thing that didn’t quite make sense was, how could the org have refunded $45K, and not have VAT added. To that he said:
“We are a limited company and UK VAT registered so VAT exempt. All that info was supplied to the mods for verification.”
Then came his revenge plotting – all in the general public channel btw. You can go to my Discord server right now, then in the search bar, enter this string: from: Mogmentum#9178 to see 31 posts he made. Through all this, he was offering to provide access to the PayPal account, get it notarized etc. At that point, none of us cared enough to take him up on his offer as we had determined that it was just talk which would lead to other continued deflection and bullshit.
Following the conclusion of our Space Court investigation, this morning he was subsequently banned from the Discord server and the forum.
We still don’t know what the motivation for this hoax was. As others have noted, it makes no sense. This person, a backer to the tune of $330, obviously supported the project in order to have sunk that much cash into it. Plus, he apparently got his refund without any hassles from CIG. And none of the usual Reddit dimwits have claimed responsibility for it. Though the Reddit account was only active for about a month, there is no evidence that any of those usual suspects are responsible. Plus they would have claimed responsibility by now because 1) they can’t help themselves 2) it would further their goals of discrediting the refunds sub-Reddit.
The other curious issue here, as I pointed out in my posts, is that through all this, nobody from the “committee” in the org, came forward to say anything. It seems to me that if there is an org with over $45K in a project, and one point man was being harassed, derided, made the news etc, that someone – even an alt, anon, or whatever – would have stepped forward to say something.
Also, though rumors and some evidence of CIG using online reputation management companies – or paid shills, have been going around for awhile, there is no evidence to suggest that CIG had anything to do with this either. So, at this time, unless and until further evidence to the contrary is presented, my opinion is that it was an elaborate hoax that someone went to a lot of trouble to pull off.
What is CIG going to do? There’s not much that they can do. First, they would have to find the person behind the social media accounts. Then they would have to prove what he did, then show what harm was caused etc. If this fool actually did forge $330 refund data to make it look like $45K, he would have to explain why he did it, and unless CIG can prove harm, it’s a waste of time and resources for them to pursue it.
As Polygon pointed out in their follow-up article, it’s getting dirty.
“Instead of providing a deadline for the next early access update, the team at CIG spent its time at Gamescom pitching another new feature, a facial scanning technology that our reporter called horrifying. At this point, nearly five years into production, people are asking for their money back, and they’re getting it.
So how much money is actually flowing out of the project for refunds? We asked CIG to tell us, and they declined to comment.”
The one thing to take away from this, lols aside, is that the subscriber base and page views for the Star Citizen refunds sub-Reddit spiked (as it has since GamesCom 2017 showcase) substantially; and backers continue to post about their refunds. One would think that the combination of media coverage over this fiasco, as well as the revelation that refunds are still possible, may also be responsible for the increased spike.
And I say to those who are saying that refunds are “hurting the project”: listen, we don’t care. CIG made lofty promises they can’t ever hope to keep, the project is three years behind schedule, and after six years, $160m in backer funding, and over 500 people (at some point or another), they still don’t have 15% of ANY of the games promised.
So yes, while they are well within their rights to refuse refunds, as per the ToS backers agreed to, they only have themselves to blame if backers are fed-up of waiting, and of the lies. Chris Roberts went on the record – several times – and said that they have financial reserves, that they do in fact allow refunds etc. So this should be acceptable as it is in all companies where you receive money in exchange for goods. If you fail to deliver, you have to refund the money as applicable by law. It really is that simple. And if the State or Fed officials were to get involved at some point, as they have done in the past to other crowd-funding fiascos, they can and will freeze the CIG assets, in an attempt to return those funds back to backers.
As a wise man one said, happy backers don’t ask for refunds – no matter what. So there’s that.
Thus concludes yet another Star Citizen shit-storm that one of their own backers is solely responsible for.September 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm #5785
STAR CITIZEN – EARLY ACCESS
This one is really, truly, hilarious to me. If you read my article about the disaster that was the GamesCom 2017 presentation, as well as my follow-up article about the new shell corporation rumored to be part of an exit strategy, then you already know where this is headed.
Basically, during the show, Chris Roberts gave an absolutely amazing and eye-opening interview to Eurogamer that has to be read to be believed. If you’re familiar with some of his more notable interviews (yes, I have a list with choice excerpts), particularly the ones following the collapse of his last studio which led to his exit from the industry, then you should immediately see the pattern.
As the author noted, that interview was supposed to run alongside the launch of the much awaited 3.0 build which, even after six years and having raised almost $160M from gamers, still won’t even amount to 15% of what was promised.
At Gamescom we’re getting a good look at Star Citizen version 3.0. Are you in a state now that you’d term beta? What’s next?
“The term beta in terms of Star Citizen – with 3.0 the game is moving into a phase akin to Early Access. It’ll build and grow from there, and then you could say ‘well, it’s not really Early Access anymore’. The price will probably go up a little bit and it will have much more of the features and content going on.”
Where do you draw a line in the sand between alpha, beta, Early Access? Are they just labels?
“I feel like they’re just labels – people still think of the old way [of making games], like my past games. We’d talk about a game for years, we’d show it, but no one would have their hands on it ’til it was out. There was an obsession with ‘when will it get released’. Even with those [traditional boxed] games now, they get patched, they add things, make things better over time. The way I look at it is, if you’ve supported Star Citizen you can download and play 2.63 which is a mini, early-stage version of this universe and play around.“
He’s completely out of touch; and that explains precisely why this project is a major train-wreck that’s completely off the rails. I couldn’t even be bothered to break this one down; but someone else did a great post with that.
Earlier this week, I got word that a new ToS change was in the works. The relevance of this wouldn’t be immediately obvious unless you consider what had come before, and what is most likely to happen in the coming weeks. You see, back in May 2016, I had written that having missed the game’s delivery in Nov 2014, as well as the 18 month “cure” period in the ToS, that they were very likely to release a new ToS to address that slip. In June 2016, ahead of the much awaited 2.4.0 build, they did just that. I documented this change in an article which also highlighted what the new language meant to old and new backers.
The last major 2.0 patch was released in Dec 2015. The most current patch was released in April 2017. Backers have been waiting for the 3.0 patch, which is the next major milestone release. In fact, that 3.0 patch is what backers thought was coming in Dec 2016 when Chris promised it the August prior. Instead, they got 2.6, with the immediately forgettable Star Marine fps module.
In game development, Early Access is only a descriptor used to indicate that a game is available to those who want to pay to get in early. Steam spearheaded this movement and they have specific rules for it. It boils down to one simple thing. Backing an early access game means that you are prepared to lose the money as there is a chance that the product will never be completed.
Is this the same as pre-purchasing a game?
No. Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form and as it evolves. You keep access to the game, even if the game later moves from Early Access into fully released.
When will these games release?
Its up to the developer to determine when they are ready to ‘release’. Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses. You should be aware that some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.
Even crowd-funded games (e.g. Infinity Battlescape, Helion, Everspace) which make on-going builds accessible to backers, are technically early access without actually calling it that. And during the early access phase, the standard software development milestones (pre-alpha, alpha, beta, release candidate, release) all still apply.
In the case of Star Citizen, it can be said that it went into early access back in Aug 2013 when the first hangar module was released to backers. Below is a list of the major milestones. Back in April 2015, they switched to a new numbering scheme which is as nonsensical as the previous. And of course the patch notes page is incomplete and doesn’t include all the releases.
STAR CITIZEN MAJOR MILESTONE BUILDS
3.0 (w/ planet/moon access etc), ??/??/??
2.6.0 (w/ Star Marine fps module), 12/23/2016
2.4.0 (/w/ ArcCorp shopping), 06/08/2016
2.0 (w/ Persistent Universe, Multi-Crew Ships), 12/11/2015
1.2 (w/ ArcCorp social module), 08/28/2015
0.8 (w/ Arena Commander dogfighting module), 06/04/2014
0.x (w/ Hangar module), 08/29/2013
So why is Chris now going on the record and saying that the upcoming 3.0 build is “akin to early access”? Your guess is as good as mine.
With an on-going refund cascade in full swing following the GamesCom 2017 event, and seeing that 3.0 is a major update, it makes sense that they would introduce a new ToS designed to not only continue the removal of promises made to backers, but also to continue reducing CIG liability. Specifically, it could also include more stringent language designed to completely remove refunds.
Curbing refunds is key to the future strategy and restructuring of the project. If the game moves to early access, and a new ToS states that you can’t get a refund after a period of time, that’s it. Since US courts have ruled that agreeing to a ToS binds you to it, if such a ToS change states that you won’t get a refund after a period of time, and you agree to that ToS, then later try to get a refund, they have every right to refuse it. Taking them to arbitration (as per the ToS) won’t get around that because you agreed to the ToS. Of course if you have the time and resources to take legal action, and you can prove things like fraudulent inducement, or anything that would give rise to false statements being made, then you may get your day in court.
What would this mean for pre-existing backers? Well, that’s a slippery slope. Backers prior to the June 2016 ToS change are 100% entitled to a refund as per the previous ToS. Those who backed the project thereafter, and subsequently agreed to that new June ToS, are on a slippery slope because it has specific language that gives them the right to refuse refunds. Following the California State authorities being involved in last year’s refund debacle which I wrote about in this article, they have been giving refunds. Recent reports indicate that refunds are no longer happening as fast as they used to be, with some people waiting up to three weeks to even hear back from CS, let alone get their refunds processed. And even then, they try to convince backers to not get a refund, thus increasing the time it takes to get to the “Fuck you! Give me my money” part.
I should also mention that the EU nations have their own rules about refunds. Key to that is there is a 14 day refund period for “delivered” period. So it’s unclear to me how CIG is going to handle this particular issue, especially given their huge backer base in Germany. For all intent and purposes, the project isn’t finished, so whether they tag it as early access or not, EU backers are still entitled to a refund as there is no finished product delivered.
The other curious thing to bear in mind is that by tagging the game as early access, it completely throws out that whole “It’s a pledge, not a pre-purchase” argument. Of course there was never an argument to be made, and only the delusional buffoons chose that particular hill to die on. Any money given to CIG is 100% a pre-purchase, and even the wording of their own ToS, clearly makes the case for this. So it simply doesn’t matter what they or their devout followers and brethren want to call it because as far as consumer law (which is the only thing that matters) is concerned, it’s a pre-purchase. And for that reason, you’re entitled to a refund if you ask for it, and subject to the ToS.
Anyway, until they release the 3.0 build, and we see a new ToS, all we can do is wait and speculate on what the future holds. Regardless, when all is said and done, the games Star Citizen and Squadron42, are never – ever – getting released as promised; so none of this even matters. What matters is whether or not backers who have been duped (1, 2) into funding the lifestyles of a group of people actively running a scam, will ever be able to get their money back pre- or post- collapse.
At the end of the day, moving to early access means that they can keep it in dev for as long as they want – until they collapse – without having to deal with the external pressures of a release date. It’s a brilliant plan if you ask me. 🙂
A long time ago, I had written that when all is said and done, all that needs to be looked into is where the money went. There is no doubt that they’re low on funds and need to keep selling JPEGs in order to keep this going. However, using new money to refund old money is a classic Ponzi scheme that will eventually collapse. Refunds are a huge financial issue because it doesn’t matter how much money they have raised, as it’s not sitting in a bank account somewhere. It’s been spent on the five worldwide studios, along with the inflated paychecks and bonuses to Chris’s family and friends program; even as they continue to leverage the project’s assets to take out loans to fund operations.
Eventually they will have to curb refunds. The only way to do that effectively is to enforce the ToS conditions.August 29, 2017 at 7:46 am #5685
STAR CITIZEN VERSION 3.0 LOOKS SET TO LIVEN UP THE GALAXY – Polygon, Aug 2016
To say the entire Star Citizen stream and Chris Roberts’ GamesCom 2017 presentation were an unmitigated disaster, would be an understatement. If you haven’t yet done so, you should read my coverage of the daily streams because they will serve to give a better insight (PC Invasion also has a really good one) as to how we got here, and why Chris’s presentation ended up being such a massive disappointment which now serves as even more irrefutable evidence that the project is FUBAR. Heck, as I had previously written for months now, various sources had been telling me how much of a disaster the 3.0 build was, but I was still shocked by what I saw – live.
Before we begin, I would like to lay out a few things which serve to set the stage, and illustrate why this particular presentation, like last year, was so vital.
- I backed this project right off the bat in 2012 because I wanted to see the game (which was pitched), made. According to their own nomenclature, I am an original backer. I backed it just like I did all the other space combat games I crowd-funded over the years, whether or not they succeeded or failed. My goal isn’t, never was, and isn’t going to be about me wanting to see the project fail; that I’m jealous (which is hilarious, considering that I’ve been making games for 30 years, while Chris got kicked out of the biz over a decade before 2012) of Chris Roberts, or any of the nonsense that those guys keep spouting because it makes them sleep better at night. Despite the fact that my first July 2015 blog about this farce, as well as quite a few investigative reports, made these points clear, those trying to obfuscate the issue, are making this about me, instead of about Chris Roberts and the failed project. In fact, all said and done, I really do feel sorry for him because this project has completely sealed his fate as an incompetent, lying scammer, and egotistical con man. You can never recover from that. Especially after you’ve scammed a group of people out of millions of dollars, while making promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep.
- As I wrote in a short missive a few days ago, and as I have said for over two years now, vindication aside, I’m going to continue exposing this scam and will do everything in my power to ensure that they don’t get away with it.
- In Jan 2017, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“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.” – $141M raised.
- In Aug 2016 (at GamesCom), Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“..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.” – $118M raised.
- In Sept 2014, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“Long ago I stopped looking at this game the way I did when I worked for a publisher who gave me a fixed budget to make a retail game. I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012).” – $54M raised.
- In Apr 2013, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“In the old model as a developer I would have captured 20 cents on the dollar,” Roberts said. “Ultimately that means I can 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. I think that’s good for gamers, because crowdfunding and digital distribution are enabling more nichey stuff to be viable. It’s also allowing gamers to have their voice heard, and have their influence earlier in the process. You don’t really have your input into how Call of Duty’s being made.” – $8.6M raised
- In Oct 2012, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“You have stated that you expect to have an Alpha up and going in about 12 months, with a beta roughly 10 months after that and then launch. For a game of this size and scope, do you think you can really be done in the next two years?
Really it is all about constant iteration from launch. The whole idea is to be constantly updating. It isn’t like the old days where you had to have everything and the kitchen sink in at launch because you weren’t going to come back to it for awhile. We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal. Any more and things would begin to get stale.” – $2.5M raised.
- Having pitched a completely different 3.0 build in Q4/16, it wasn’t until April 2017 that the first dev schedule for 3.0 was released. What should have been another major alarm bell, was mostly down-played by most of the hardcore zealots. You can read my analysis. Just this past August, after missing every single release date since that time, they just went ahead and completely removed the “release aim dates” from the schedule. And that was AFTER Chris went on an Aug 3rd AtV broadcast to explain why 3.0 was delayed, what was in it etc. No wait, that’s not all!
- The project is in pre-alpha. What that means is that six years and $157M later, they are nowhere near where they need to be. This invariably means that by the time they go through all the dev stages (pre-alpha->alpha->beta->release candidate->release), all of which have several builds over several months, the project would have been dead. The reason is simple: they’ve yet to deliver even 15% of the what they promised, having raised $65M back in Nov 2014. If this were a project funded by a publisher or other dev, it would have either been canceled by now, or chopped up and shipped in order to recoup some of the costs. Now we are seeing why, his poor reputation aside, all the publishers that Chris Roberts pitched this game (using a different name, starting with his attempts to use Wing Commander), to, just rejected it.
- The last patch for the game was 2.6.3 released in April 7th 2017. As I type this, there are over 3000+ bugs logged on their website for that build. Some of those bugs have been in there since as far back as the first hangar module release in 2013.
Finally, a LOT has been written about this train wreck, so if you haven’t been keeping up, there is no way you are going to actually grasp the gravity of the situation that the project is now in. However, even if you don’t read my rather extensive Star Citizen blogs, at the very least, please read these updates as a sort of primer. 07-29-2017, 07-08-2017 , 05-26-2017 , 04-18-2017 , 12-13-2016
STAR CITIZEN GC2017 BLOOPERS (A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS)
GAMESCOM 2017 – THE EPIC DISASTER
When we found out that Twitch and YouTube streamers at the show were going to be playing the buggy and performance hog that is pre-release 3.0, instead of the current 2.6.3 build (which wasn’t even played at the show btw), most of us “in the know” weren’t at all surprised. However, what was surprising was that it wasn’t even the current “state image” of the build. Instead CIG and their streamers were playing a stripped down version of 3.0. That build had a single moon with two outposts (non-interactive), two ground vehicles, two ships – and no game loop. In fact, not only was there no connection to the persistent universe as far as “space” was concerned, but it was just a standard CryEngine level in which any concept of “space” was just the empty area around (think sphere in a Black box) the level itself. And they had to reset it every 10 to 15 minutes. CIG made several statements indicating that they had deliberately disabled certain functionality, and that the full 3.0 build would be seen being played during Chris’s presentation.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, while all of that was going on, Chris announced in an interview with GameStar.de that Squadron 42 wasn’t being shown or played, thus confirming what sources had already told me that it was now scheduled for a 2018 release. And he never once mentioned it during his presentation.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) BROUGHT YOU THIS
GAMESCOM 2017 – CHRIS ROBERTS STAR CITIZEN PRESENTATION
Though the 3.0 hype had somewhat died down due to what had previously been seen during the streaming of the scaled down version, there was still some hope that backers were going to at least see the features touted for this release. Sure, as a pre-alpha game in development, bugs and performance issues are expected. But when you’re looking at a six year project that has raised $156M (at the time), you tend to expect to see some progress. For all intent and purposes, there seems to have been very little progress made between the 2016 presentation and this one.
This time Chris didn’t even bother to do slides of the 3.0 roadmap as he had done last year, and he said this right off the bat. However, he did bring slides showing the work that was being planned/done by Turbulent. This includes a new game launcher, patcher, and some VOIP stuff. All the things that you can get in lots of third-party software already.
He then declared that they were going to be playing 3.0 live. Here’s the thing, Chris wasn’t playing the game. In fact, except for that one time which ended in a complete disaster, backers have never – ever – seen him play his own game in any meaningful fashion. What he does is “direct” his team playing the game. And he got to do this again, complete with scripted role-playing dialog. And no, I didn’t make that last part up.
While some may be OK with the fact that “they played 3.0 live”, what’s lost in translation is that, yet again, this was a build created specifically (UPDATE: This was proven to be the case merely days later) for this show. Like all the others before it. He has pulled this same stunt, year after year at both GamesCom (Aug) and CitizenCon (Oct) which are their peak fundraising events. If this was a build that was meant to be played for people to experience it unfiltered, they would have been playing it during the live stream. Instead, they came to the show with two builds. One for the live stream, and the other for his presentation. Now you have to wonder which of these two builds is the one being worked on, and now said to be coming out in early October.
Anyway, the “presentation” build was supposed to be of a single mission loop meant to show backers some of the progress in various areas of the project. Nothing more than a cookie-cutter quest mission. Start game, go meet a guy (who apparently doesn’t have email or a comms device) at a bar about a job. The job? Go get a Red box somewhere on a barren moon, put it on a ship, and deliver it to another moon. I shit you not. That’s it. All of it.
And it DIDN’T WORK!
So how did it all go so very wrong? Oh God, where to begin? Just look at the blooper reel to see how it all went down. But basically everything completely fell apart right from the start.
- The NPC quest giver, Miles Eckhart, was only visible to one client. The others had to pretend he was there. They knew where he would be anyway, so there’s that. But since we could see split-screen, they got busted on this part. At that point, me and my Goon army were rolling because we knew that the disaster was already off to a great start.
- The Red box was invisible to the person who picked it up, and it could only be seen by the others. This issue, and others later (e.g. the girl driving the Rover couldn’t see the attacking fighters), made it clear that the mission quest itself was basically single player, and hadn’t been created to work in a multi-player environment. Basically the other clients were supporting actors in Chris’s elaborate movie production designed to mislead backers.
- The rover chassis and wheels, being separate entities, were moving incorrectly (e.g. the wheels were animated moving backwards). This aside from the fact that being handled separately and incorrectly is what caused the disaster on the ramp later on.
- The game crashed when the Constellation ship left the moon and jumped through space to the other moon. Then, get this, they had to restart the whole thing from scratch, then do a speed run through. Seriously, it was hilarious.
- Then later on, the rail gun used from the back of the rover, missed the fighter it was firing at, and so they couldn’t destroy it as part of the scenario. So that CIG player faked his own destruction with a “suicide” instead. We even got to see them executing console cheat commands during the stream!
- Because the math for slopes is hard, and due to how they had chosen to hack together a working vehicle controller from the CryEngine base version, it was no surprise that when they attempted to drive the rover up the ramp and onto the Idris docking bay, it fell through the ramp – and exploded. At this point, we’d completely lost it. I was shocked to be honest. Such a fundamental thing wasn’t actually working. It was just so embarrassing.
- As if the Idris (it’s supposedly a capital ship) appearing wasn’t hype enough, the most amazing thing was just how lackluster the space combat was. The current flight model is pure rubbish, and we already know this because it’s been a major bane of contention since Arena Commander was first released back in June 2014, and it didn’t get much better. However granted that the Idris is a fine ship (it’s not currently playable btw), the landing on the moon, while ganky, had the wow (which the exploding rover ultimately killed) factor, the space combat portion completely ruined it. It was horrific, uninspiring for a capital ship combat – and ran at about 10 fps. If nothing else, this just served as yet another reminder that when you focus on “visual fidelity” and forgot about the “game” part of a project, you’re bound to run into serious issues down the road.
- And when they played it a second time, they got busted when Chris was told that unless a player got the rail gun from the store, the script would break.
And not only did they fail the mission, the success/fail resolution loop didn’t even close. And they attempted it twice – and still couldn’t complete it.
One person said it best:
“Their MMO, which has been in development since 2011 (f*ck you Chris and your “full production” bullshit), can’t handle the pilot of a
multicrew vessel disconnecting from the rest of the party. Their MMO doesn’t have AI, and required a full crew of people to fake a
mission experience. Their MMO couldn’t handle a rover driving on to a ramp without exploding, or feature two large ships fighting without
turning into a slide show. Their MMO is so poorly programmed that they had to script a ship exploding when it got shot. Their MMO is shit.
Their MMO is being designed by a “visionary” who, given a year to develop a vignette to show off his dream for gameplay, could only come up
with a shitty fetch quest. A visionary who is more concerned about marketing VOIP and some shitty webcam over producing any kind of gameplay.
A visionary who believes things done a decade ago are somehow novel or interesting. Their MMO is being designed by an idiot.
Their MMO isn’t a MMO. It’s a case study in poor design practices, the perils of shitty oversight, the gullibility of gamer, and the myth of
the “Great Man” game developer. It’s a condemnation of Chris Roberts and irrefutable proof that he is a fraud who is better at spending money
than designing games.“
TWO CLIENTS. ONE MILES ECKHART. MUCH HILARITY
The only AI entities in this entire production, were at the starting base. All exhibiting various issues ranging from collision issues, animations that fail to trigger, pathfinding issues etc. He even claimed that there would be hundreds of NPC entities at these bases, all going about their daily routines on a schedule etc.
As I wrote here, having spent over three decades developing games, and which entails writing game scripts for both single and multiplayer sessions, there is no way on this God’s Earth, that this basic quest mission could ever have worked in a multiplayer environment as designed. Like – at all. So once again, Chris came to a show with a carefully made demo that backers aren’t likely to be playing as shown. Sure there’s probably going to be gameplay elements such as driving on moons and planetoids – which I’ve written (1, 2) extensively about in July (back when it was obvious that they couldn’t do entire planets), as well as the new Mobiglass and other things shown. But if a very basic quest like this is not only flat-out broken, but didn’t even portray 3.0 in a good light, why does anyone think that 3.0, if it ever gets released as promised, is going to fare any better than the disastrous 2.0 did back in Dec 2015? Let alone have any such missions in it?
That’s not all, we all saw the performance issues which various sources had told me about, and which I’d discussed these past months. This Idris ship, is a frigate (which for some reason they’re now calling a capital ship) class. Having seen the performance when even one of them is in a scene, let alone two, who here believes that they’re ever going to be able to put in ships of this size in the game? Here, take a look a the ship chart updated for GC2017 and be the judge. The Idris, which is missing btw, would be in the lower left under Aegis. You can see its size comparison in this ship cross-section image. Now look at Chris’s reaction, and listen to his statements about those ships, performance, crash etc.
And given the prices of all the assets lost in this single awful mission, with the loss of the Ursa rover, the Constellation ship, the Cutlass fighters, the Idris capital ship and the missiles it fires ($10 each btw), we calculate that a bunch of fools going on this mission would have lost about $2,500 (real money!) to retrieve a Red box on a distant barren rock. That’s on each play through if they fail. LMAO!! Welcome to Star Citizen. Please buy LTI.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) ALSO BROUGHT YOU THIS
Amid this furor, and in between crashes, restarts, and an embarrassing display of incompetence and waste, Chris then decided to unveil the latest “new” middleware technology. This time they showcased Faceware, a gaming gimmick that has been around since 2012 when Everquest (1, 2) was tooling around with it. Of course that went nowhere; and as far as we know, nobody is actually using it. Oh, and Facerig, a similar tool which works with every webcam, has been on Steam since 2015 for $15.
But here’s the thing. This Faceware nonsense – which looks like crap in the game – was just part of the feature creep that goes as far back as Sept 2013 when it was first shown on one of the Star Citizen broadcasts. Only this time, obviously with financial incentives attached, there is now a Star Citizen branded camera peripheral being sold along with it. And like all his previously failed partnerships, including the one with Madcatz (who he decided to badmouth during the stream btw) for a joystick/keyboard combo, this is yet another opportunity to spend resources on something that has zero benefit or pertinence to the game that was pitched back in 2012. Furthermore, considering the fact that the networking remains the game’s primary underlying issue, now they’re going to add FOIP (Face Over IP), in addition to VOIP, to their network packets for an engine which, as seen in this presentation, still has serious problems with even LAN play, let alone Internet. OK then.
And these clowns can’t get a simple vehicle to drive up a ramp. After six years. And $156M.
If you think my summary was hyperbole, well, here it is, broken down to brass tacks by someone else:
- Began with a 45min delay + 3 or 4 commercials for chariots
- New features (facial recognition, voice stuff) introduced then promptly revealed to be coming after 3.0, not with it
- After warping to the quest destination, the pilot’s client crashed. The other two players were still in the ship but couldn’t interact with it
- After 10 minutes of awkward troubleshooting they eventually had to restart. Cue another 15-20 minutes of mostly silence and long shots of a black room and an increasingly angry Chris as the demo is rebooted
- Because the demo was nearly 100% scripted, they had to do everything all over again leading up to the warp crash
- this included the world’s worst RP of all time. yes, they still repeated the RP in the 2nd attempt
- They get to the planet. it’s janky. a ton of pop-in and missing models. We all begin to notice that the lighting / colors for each player (they keep switching cameras) is completely different. It’s suggested that even the time of day for players is different
- They find the quest object – a ship’s black box which turned out to be a red cube that was just laying in a random spot on the floor
- Then they were ambushed, surprising nobody
- They shot the bad guy’s ship out of the air from their moon rover, but they clearly weren’t even aiming at the guy and it was a really embarrassing moment of scripting
- An Idris comes to save them, and jitter-janks its way to the surface. It extends a ramp for the rover to climb, and the entire thread knew at once it was going to end in disaster. It did. After many failed attempts the rover clipped through the ramp and exploded. The wheels literally fell off and rolled toward the camera, and I very nearly blacked out in laughter
- Also the red black box was aboard the rover but nobody acknowledged the mission was a failure
- Sometime after this we cut to a commercial for an RSI-branded webcam. Lots of scare tactics to make you think your existing webcam lacks the horsepower to handle Star Citizen’s new facial stuff
- Later, the Idris goes to space and is ambushed a 2nd time, surprising nobody for a 2nd time
- An epic space battle ensues as two goliaths fight through 6-7fps space and jitter-jank into one another. One explodes
- It’s the end of the demo. Chris then has a sudden and definitely not scripted idea – let’s let the goliaths fight again, but this time the bad guy could win!
- It’s another 20 minutes waiting for the really obviously fake and scripted demo to spin up. It’s awkward silence. Sandi wanders on stage in her weird clown outfit to give Chris a rum and coke
- The epic space battle begins anew. I cannot notice a single difference, other than a fighter bounces off the hull of the Idris like a Loony Toons cartoon, and the idris rams the bad guy who explodes in 6-7fps fashion. More jitter-jank
- Then Chris ends the presentation prematurely before being reminded that the employees are coming out to say goodbye. He asks them to take a bow. They do so. that’s it.
YEAH, THEY FAKED IT LAST YEAR TOO
But through all this, they did manage to unveil a new commercial (seriously, that’s a thing) for a $400 concept (it’s a JPEG) ship, the 600i. But then – get this – they started charging backers to name their ship if they started buying with cash instead of credit or gifts. As of this writing, though their fundraising for this show is tracking poorly, they did manage to raise about $1M from a group of about 2K backers. Seriously. Aside from the fact that we know the funding chart is bogus (though we don’t know to what extent), most of us remain convinced that there are people using this project to launder money, as there is simply no other reasonable explanation because it makes no sense whatsoever.
Oh but get this. Then during the show, they quietly changed the projected 3.0 release date from early Sept to early October. Though this backer claims (I urge you to read his rather lengthy indictment. update: CIG mods eventually locked the thread) to have asked for a refund because of that, I’m guessing that the GC2017 presentation was a major part in that decision.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE LEMONADE
GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER!
This was the first public showing of the much anticipated 3.0 build, and it was a complete disaster. Not only has hardly any progress been made since the last time 3.0 was showcased a year ago, but by my calculation, over 93% of the items they claim are coming in 3.0 and which are “completed”, were NOT shown in this build.
At this point, with the next big show, CitizenCon 2017 coming up on Oct 27th in Germany, assuming something called 3.0 is released before or after the show, my guess is that Chris may trot out a commercial or even a scripted demo of Squadron 42 because he has now completely burned 3.0 to the ground.
Chris has dug a hole he can’t hope to crawl out of and this “game” is never – ever – coming out. And now that he has spent all of the money, and barely on reserves, even as he takes out loans, and comes up with new and inventive ways to continue fleecing backer whales, the next part of this fiasco is going to be how he plans on making cuts without causing panic and spooking the remaining backer whales still funding this dumpster fire. Whatever he does, no matter how he does it, one thing is certain, it’s going to be another hilarious disaster.
UPDATE 2: Eurogamer published an interview Chris Roberts gave at GamesCom 2017. It’s an eye-opening read which contains ample evidence of what I’ve stated that they can’t develop the game promised, and that they were in fact going to dump 3.0 as a Minimal Viable Product. I covered this extensively in various blogs. To recap his statements from April 18th, 2016:
“…and, awh, wuh… we’ll have what will sort of determine a sort of… MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT FEATURE LIST for what you would call STAR CITIZEN the COMMERCIAL RELEASE, which is basically when you say, “OK! Ah, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more COOL STUFF and MORE CONTENT and MORE FUNCTIONALITY and MORE FEATURES”, which by the way includes some of… the LATER STRETCH GOALS we have cos not all of that’s meant to be for ABSOLUTELY RIGHT HERE, on the commercial release…“
I like how he says the public schedule is the same as the internal one. I guess 3.0 did come out in 2016.
I am also thrilled to see that he is still reading my articles because I was the first and only person to leak that the internal and public schedules were different. He’s a liar, a scam artist, and a fraud.
UPDATE 1: I want to take the opportunity to mention that any backer who funded this project after the June 2016 ToS change is NOT entitled to a refund without taking legal action. The only way to enforce a refund, is to take CIG to arbitration (no, you can’t sue them in open court), or get the State (e.g. AG) and Fed (e.g. the FTC) authorities involved (as what happened over a year ago). If they refuse, and you wish to pursue it, the issue is going to be determining whether or not backing on their website, as opposed to an official crowd-funding website (Indiegogo, Kickstarter etc) is a pre-order purchase or a donation. This was tested months ago during the Lily drone fiasco which I wrote about in this blog. Regardless, if you want a refund, there is a Reddit page (look to the right of the page for the steps) specifically for that.August 23, 2017 at 10:53 am #5641
GAMESCOM 2017 – COVERAGE OF THE STAR CITIZEN TRAIN WRECK
So it’s here (Star Citizen GC2017 schedule) and backers waiting to see the much touted 3.0 build are already in shock over what’s on display. I will update this article until the end of the show when Chris Roberts goes live on Friday at 3PM EST. In the meantime, you can follow my coverage (Day 1, 2, 3) in the forums.
After one year (3.0 was originally coming on or before Dec 19th, 2016), they came to one of two very important (for the project) shows of the year with a basic CryEngine level consisting of a barren moon, which up to 12 clients can spawn into, and have two space craft, and two ground vehicles to use. That’s it.
Not only do they claim that most of the 3.0 features are “disabled”, but that they also have to reset the server every 10-15 mins in order allow other people to be able to play the game. Remember, this is supposed to be an MMO with “persistence”. So uhm, yeah – OK.
Basically, none of what both GameStar.de (I wrote about that here) and PC Gamer (I wrote about that here) were touting back in July, and which they probably had access to months before, were shown. Which leads me to believe that they probably pulled the same stunt by having a carefully created build for the media. Just like they have done in the past, and presented to backers.
The barebones 3.0 “demo” currently being played, has no game loop, and they are not even playing the current 2.6.3 build.
If you haven’t read my day three coverage yet, the highlight of it was the interview that Chris Roberts did with German Shillizen rag, GameStar.de (they hate me over there btw, because of Star Citizen). The most revealing part was the revelation that Squadron 42, which has been absent since the Godawful Morrow Tour in 2015, and which missed both GamesCom and CitizenCon in 2016, would not be shown at GamesCon 2017. That all but confirms what some of us already suspected and which I wrote about back in May, that it wasn’t a 2017 release. We’ll see if they cobble something of a reveal for CitizenCon 2017 in Oct.
And that’s not all. When asked if there was someone who is “stopping” him from trying to implement all his ideas, his response was, well, see for yourself.
Goon ambassador, SomethingJones has put together one of his notable transcripts of the interview. It’s an eye-opening read. He even goes as far as to compare Star Citizen which, after six years and $156M raised is still in pre-Alpha, and not even 15% completed, to Eve Online which was released as a complete game, then improved upon and expanded over the years. To me, this basically means that he knows that he stands no chance of completing the game, let alone two of them.
How much longer will we have to wait [for Squadron 42] ?
Well ya have to wait a little bit longer ah… I mean it’s going, it’s going really well aah, we’re not showing it here at Gamescon, aah… because… I… for me I want to have it at a… certain level of uh… POLISH and um, so… we’re working at get… getting it there but, ah, there’s a lot of the STUFF that we actually we show in our uh, UPDATES on ATV and a lot of… some of the STUFF in three point zero is specific STUFF that is ah, ENABLING and being used for um, Squadron 42 and in fact some of the STUFF that we, ahm, you know, introduced like the PLANETARY TECH, ehm, we also put into Squadron Um Forty Two, so there are, there is, you know… case… is when you… go down on like a MOON or a PLANET and it’s something like that, so…
… ahm, but no, it’s going… it’s going very well, it’s just… a huge amount of uh… HIGH QUALITY AAH PERFORMANCE AAH… and motion capture aah… DATA aah… that we’re bringing in and making sure that ahm… when the characters are moving around that they look really great and really fluid, going between like AI pathing like from one location to another… you know… merging into like… scenes that we shot with the characters so we’re… we’re really trying to… make you feel like you’re part of the story and feel like you’re hanging out with AI you know just running around and ehm…
… I think it’s gunna be really great, uhm-I’m-uh-eh-did… it’s… it’s ahm… s’gunna be… worth… the wait lemme put it that way
Is there one specific feature right now in the alpha 3.0 that you are especially proud of?
Well I… well I mean the planetary tech… so this is gunna be the first time that the community, ah, can go, and… and LAND on… in the case of Three Zero, mooooons, or in the case of this asteroid planetoid, they’re FULLY REALISED, every inch of ’em you can move around and explore and you can cir-cum-nav-i-gate the entire conference (sic) of the moon if you wanted to, ah, and… ah.. it’s ah.. you know… the amount of additional playable area that comes into the game now compared to what was in say two point six three, aah it’s HUGE and how much the game is gunna OPEN UP cos we’re introducing the planetary tech compared to what we were thinking we would have in the game… before…it uh… ah, you know… we sort of made the BREAKTHROUGH so to speak… uhhh… i-it’s really exciting, there’s a lot of gameplay that’s gunna come out of it, it’s one of the reasons why maybe things are taking a lot longer than… uhm… you know… SOME OF US… or you know… I’d like to… things move faster too… ah… would LIKE… ahh… but… once we’ve sort of opened up the potential of these planets we… because of the sort of DETAIL and the FIDELITY we’re going for, we also need to make sure that there’s… STUFF TO DO ON THE PLANETS
… and uh, you know… we are.. focused on STUFF, we’re not just creating the planets but also creating, sort of… ah… SYSTEMS that will uh… allow the… whether it’s… ah… you know… ECO SYSTEMS or uh… FLORA or FAUNA… aah… that… you know… MAKE IT ALIVE or THINGS TO DO ON IT or you need to sort of uh.. PROCEDURALLY YOU KNOW… create… little uh, OUTPOSTS or TOWNS or VILLAGES beyond the central landing zones, cos you know, the original version of STAR CITIZEN we were aiming to be a bit more like PRIVATEER or FREELANCER were we had indvidual sort of BEE SPOKE landing zones but you couldn’t explore the planet, you would essentially be in ORBIT around the planet and you would have a LANDING and we would have a CINEMATIC that would transition you down and then you were, you know, essentially moving round a small limited FPS area were you could go to a SHOP and BUY THINGS and go to a BAR and TALK TO PEOPLE and get a MISSION…
…aahhh… you know… get your SHIP REPAIRED GO BACK TO SPACE so…
ahh, you know NOW we have WHOLE WORLDS OPENED UP TO YOU so the amount of ah, potential for exploration, long term in the game, and for players to do THINGS, for instance, you know, maybe… CREATE THEIR OWN LITTLE BASE or their own little SETTLEMENT on a moon or you know a planet that no one else has sort of gone to that particular area is… is… HUGE…
…so the gameplay potential is amazing, we’re only just seeing the very very very beginnings of it in three point zero and I’m really excited, ahm, as we start to roll out more STUFF for three point one and beyond.
Will there be anything on Friday, maybe a small teaser [of Squadron 42] ?
Ah, no, no, not at Gamescon.
What’s the big part that is actually missing and preventing you from finishing Squadron 42? What’s holding it back?
Ah, well I mean the… the… the… the big part is kind of what I was talking about before which is sort of… aah… trying… we… we very much want to get the quality of the animation and how the AI move around to be the equivalent to what you see sort of in like pre-rendered cinematics… cos we spent all this time shooting with these amazing actors… we spent about A HUNDRED… just over a HUNDRED DAYS doing PERFORMANCE CAPTURE and that’s a MASSIVE amount of time to shoot so, for instance, most big-event movies are $150 to $200 million, they usually don’t shoot for more than a hundred days, so… they shoot maybe 80 days, 90 days, ahm… and ah… so… for the amount that we have there, we have all these great performances so it’s a vast amount of performance data and animation and motion, ah… and STORY… ah, we really want to make sure it comes across so when you’re playing the game and you’re moving around in it you’re… they’re… talking to you, you know, OLD MAN who is played by MARK HAMILL or, ah, you know, the various other characters that you’re, uh, playing, uh, the game… like alongside with…
… because you’re in… you’re basically inside this MOVIE as opposed to sort of… you know the WING COMMANDER 3 and the WING COMMANDER 4 was sort of… you… you… you were like the STUNTMAN flying the ship, you got on the back of the ship, you would see what MARK HAMILL did and you would say, “No! Go… sort of… take this choice or this choice!”, and, well in this case it’s YOU and you happen to be the LEAD STAR in the MOVIE…
… so getting that to be the fluidity that we want, uh, because it’s a huge story, ah, and dialling that in, ahm… is… you know, has been taking a BIT LONGER than we ANTICIPATED…
So what you’re saying is the other parts, for example the missions and stuff like that, they are further along?
Well yeah, no… no we have… we don’t… we… we… well we… we’ve… you know we’ve still… we’re still working on, uhm… say, the final like ASSETS AND STUFF but we’ve blocked out all the MISSIONS and chapter… what we call CHAPTERS… we have these CHAPTERS
…uh, that each one would sort of be the equivalent of… you know, several missions in ah, say a WING COMMANDER because they would be sort of… LINK…
You can already play those missions from start to finish?
Well so, so YES… we haven’t BLOCKED what you… what you… what you would call sort of DESIGNER… somewhere between white and grey boxes and levels we’re going to take to a more finished state but we’re taking ah, certain ones… we’re taking, so for instance we were talking about showing, ah, a sequence last year that was, ah, you know ONE SECTION of the story that we were gunna take to a finished level… and you know we’re still basically doing that, we’re in production on all of them… um… we, you know… we’ll be showing some things at some point… ah, just it’s not gunna be at Gamescon and I would hate to make promises because, ah, you know, last year I said, “well we’re planning to show, uh, ah, uh… you know… a… a… piece of some Squadron 42 gameplay” and then we ended up not getting it to the point where we were happy with… but we didn’t show it and everyone was very UPSET and ah, I felt kinda BAD because, one, we also showed some amazing stuff on the planetary tech… Homestead and all the sort of the next level of what the planetary tech was like and…
… that was actually like, in my mind, really great stuff, but… it was sort of… partly the HIGH of that was… was AFFECTED by the, uh… the fact that we didn’t show Squadron 42. But no, you know I mean, I would say it’s sort of the ANIMATIONS and the AI because we’re going for a level of AI that you don’t normally have so we want… ah… you know… when you’re on, say… the ship you’re serving on, at the beginning of the game it’s the STANTON which is an IDRIS CORVETTE, you know all the crew have their full, you know… they have a SCHEDULE, they get up in the morning they EAT BREAKFAST, they go about their JOB, you know they go GET LUNCH, go back to their JOB…
… have CHIT-CHAT over DINNER, maybe UNWIND…
… then go back to SLEEP…
You know, there’s a whole SCHEDULE and CYCLE and they’re… so we… it’s almost… like a level of sort of SIMS SIMULATION FOR THE AI, we’re also using that… the planet’s using that for the PERSISTENT UNIVERSE and uh… so just DIALING THAT IN WELL, ah, getting that WORKING, so that’s the SUBSUMPTION SYSTEM which we’re making GREAT PROGRESS ON so it’s in three point zero… all the missions run on subsumption… now all in Squadron, everything runs in subsumption whereas before it wasn’t, it was using sort of an older CryEngine system.
So just getting all that in, getting that all up to the level, and making sure that it’s ah… you know… PERFORMING WELL and LOOKING GREAT… DIALED IN to look as great or better than anything else… which is what it’s going to do… it’s just taking some time unfortunately.
What is the best way to experience Star Citizen? Are you going to play it on one monitor or two? With a gamepad? With keyboard & mouse? Is it for joystick? What is your personal preference?
Ah. Aaaaahhhh. That’s… ehm… kinda hard to qua… I mean we basically build the game and support the game for everything so… whether it’s… joystick, ahm… you know, gamepad… ah, keyboard mouse… ah, and they all have sort of pros and cons it’s sorta hard to say, I mean obviously for running around on foot and sort of the FPS stuff, um, keyboard mouse is probably the best
Ah, for flying I’d say that joystick, I mean I know there’s some people that feel like the MOUSE FLY is too easy and it gives people an edge but… I… I mean, I’ll just say that, like, when we do STUFF when we’re trying to fly stuff around, so for instance we were, ah, you know… ah, in the PRESS we were sort of showing a preview of what we’ll do on FRIDAY and I’m hoping people will like what we show… ah, so I don’t really wanna spoil it, it’s pretty cool, ah… but it would definitely have been better to have a joystick, ah, for the, ah, you know… so we had… a sort of mix of… of PR PEOPLE PLAYING and sort of, some were playing HOE TAS and some were playing MOUSE AND KEYBOARD… some of the things were easier to do with the KEYBOARD than they were with MOUSE… ahm, so for me, ah… I would say, ah…
…you know I HAVEN’T SET IT UP YET but ah… um… my… a nice little wide monitor, you know, the one that’s kinda sort of… 4k across, one of the curved ones… ah, and then uhm… you know… I tend to sort of ah, switch between a HOE TAS and a mouse… a keyboard… a mouse keyboard for running around doing stuff, HOE TAS for the flight stuff.
Is there somebody who’s stopping you? Really Chris, you got all these ideas, but we’ve got to finish a game, is there somebody who says, ‘OK, we go until we get to this point and then we try to do it” ?
I mean I… I would say, ha!
Ahh… that… in the case of Star Citizen, the concept of finishing the game is probably pretty loose. I would say that the time that we stop adding stuff and making Star Citizen better will probably be the time that the game dies as an online game, and so we’re always going to be sort of adding features and content to keep it alive, if you look at every single sort of online game… that’s what they do, I mean it’s when people stop adding content or functionality to it the game’s dead…
So you know, if you look at EVE ONLINE ten plus years later, you look at World of Warcraft ten plus years…
Yes but I guess the question was more in the direction of, ‘get to version 1.0 and then keep going from there’…
But… but… the thing is… what… why is… what is version one point oh? Because at this moment if you back Star Citizen you can download two point six three, you’ll be able to download three point zero… VERY SOON… so it’s, you know… the content we have, YOU have, so in the case of three zero you’ll be able to GO BETWEEN THESE MOONS, when we go to three one we’ll put HURSTON and STANTON in, you’ll have more planets… we just… we give you THE GAME… so you’re getting it as it’s happening. So it’s not like we’re, ah, not giving it to you until a certain point, as we’re… I mean that’s the difference between what we’re doing with Star Citizen and what you would traditionally would do, say a PUBLISHER would work on the game, but you don’t get it, maybe they’d tell you about it, do a little marketing but you don’t get to play it until right before…
… you know maybe they’ll do a, you know a QUICK BETA THING like they do, you know, so BATTLEFRONT or something like that, but, em, you know… you’re not playing, you know… what EA’s developing two or three years before they’re releasing it.
So first you’re getting to play it as we’re building it, so, ah… it’s the idea of like… this… sort of particular FINISH LINE, for me in the Star Citizen sense? Ah, doesn’t make so much sense. We… I mean, we generally have a fairly, ah… set… of… general, ah, FEATURES, but as certain things come online, say like the planetary tech, you go, ‘OK, we need to do THESE things to make THIS thing interesting’, and yeah so it does add some features and functionality ah, to do it, but… ah, we’re… we’re building a… a world that I think, ultimately people are gonna wanna spend a lot of time in and so I care about making sure that that’s going to be the most interesting experience.
So that’s what I’m doing, it’s not like I’m adding control here, and believe me I wanna finish… ah, you know… ah, NOT finish… but I wanna get it to the point where I feel like… ah… I don’t… you know… it’s like this point where… and then I’m sort of adding additional stuff versus getting to… the, ah… SIDE where I think ‘OK we’ve got the basic functionality of all the game stuff in there’
Thanks for being here and for answering our questions
That’s alright, hopefully I did an alright job, hope I didn’t make it… eh… so… you know, challenging for you with my long answers to ah… to ah, translate into German but you seemed to do a great job
If I didn’t do it correctly they will put it in the comments, a-haha, somebody’s always doing it
Ok so tomorrow, tomorrow night and I think we’re live streaming it, uhm… so it’s generally always, ah… kinda FUN event and uh… I think we’re gonna show some… we’re gonna show some PRETTY COOL THINGS that hopefully people will like.. uhm… so check it out
Seriously, if you still have money in this train wreck, go get a refund. After six years and $156M raised, the project is still in pre-Alpha. The road to completion for a project is Alpha -> Beta -> Release Candidate -> Release. And each of those stages can take several months after all features are actually implemented by the RC stage. If after all this time, and all this money, they are still not even in alpha stage, what makes you think the project stands ANY chance of getting completed? Heck, they even removed the delivery aim dates from the public dev schedule, then went back and added even more stuff to it.
I am currently writing an article about Chris’s presentation, and will post it soon. I don’t even know where to begin with it, but suffice to say, that presentation had some unexpected results which solidified my opinions that this game can NEVER been made, and that the project is FUBAR. In fact, PC Invasion has the best summary so far of the disaster that unfolded before our eyes. Yes, this is a six year project developed by over 500 people (both past and present) and which has thus far raised (and probably burned through) over $156M in crowd-funding alone. I have also made public a private (industry friends and peers) post which I made on Facebook.July 29, 2017 at 11:43 am #5610
It’s a foregone conclusion that during GamesCom 2016, Chris Roberts – again – blatantly LIED to backers about the state of the project when he revealed the time line for the 3.0 build release. Even the most loyal backers, even though they knew deep down that there was a chance that this was the case, are starting to come around.
But it won’t last. We’ve seen this cycle once too many times before. As soon as Chris Roberts trots out the latest scam-ridden pretty pictures, the sheep, like AI bots, will self-herd themselves into a lull for a few more months. Even the “popular” Star Citizen streamers are getting fed up. Meanwhile, over at the hug box that is the CIG backer quarantine, a few stragglers are upset at another two week delay. I don’t know what they’re going to do when it all comes to a head this Summer. Either way, it’s going to be absolutely amazing to behold, and there will be many lols to be had. In fact, most of us are already planning our Summer vacation around it.
“There seems to be an interesting pattern:
– Week A: delay critical tasks, add a few fluff tasks, do not delay overall launch prediction. Sales are usually held during these weeks.
– Week B: close a few fluff tasks to convey an image of progress, delay the overall launch prediction for two weeks
This can go on a very long time and keep backers happy, as we have now seen with already more than doubled time from 3.0 June prediction.
But people are starting to notice.” – A backer on Reddit
But this is not what I want to write about today.
So, remember back in Nov 2016 when I said sources told me that back in Aug 2016 when Roberts was touting 3.0, that it didn’t really exist in any form? Sure you do.
Remember that same month when I repeated the same thing after CitizenCon, ahead of Roberts’ “Dec 19th” release comment?
You also read my Dec 13th, 2016 update, three days ahead of the “3.0 release”, right?
And do you remember my first update of 2017 after 3.0 failed to materialize, and I reminded everyone that I was right the whole time? Yeah, you do.
Did you also read my follow-up Jan 2017 update about 3.0, as well as yet another interview with German’s #1 Star Citizen propaganda media outlet, GameStar, who had previously claimed that they “played 3.0”?
“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, Feb 2017
Then in my Feb 2017 update, two months after not hearing about, nor a 3.0 release, I wrote about it being a pipe dream, and that SQ42 wasn’t even a thing anymore.
Then in my Apr 18th, 2017 update, a full EIGHT months after Roberts’ claimed 3.0 was going to be released on or before Dec 19th, 2016, the first 3.0 schedule was released. With an “aim date” release window to June 29th.
Then in my May 2017 update, I mentioned a major scoop regarding both SQ42 and the internal 3.0 dev schedule that goes all the way to 2021.
Where are we today?
Star Citizen 3.0 is EIGHT months late from the original Dec 19th release window. And as per the June 28th schedule update (analysis), assuming they actually make (all bets are that they won’t) it, will be almost THREE months late from the original release window in the first schedule released in April.
Since the original 3.0 schedule was released in April, we’ve been doing analysis (06-09, 06-16, 06-30, 07-07, 07-14, 07-21) of the more important and significant changes. The trend has always been that CIG released a bullshit schedule, that didn’t reflect the actual state of the project. This has been more evident with each delay. And until this past July 28th update, the previous two schedules didn’t even change the release aim date, despite the fact that there were many tasks delayed by as much as three weeks. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to upset the Apple cart during the sales they have been doing this period. Particularly the sale of the Nox (in-game) and Cyclone (JPEG concept) vehicles which are to be used on the promised moons and planetoid coming in 3.0.
“Why yes, yes of course a company that is run by a group of thieving, conniving, lying, sumbitches led by an incompetent ass-clown, and which is actively engaged in an on-going scam to fleece backers and line their own pockets, is oh so very willing to refund money because, you know, they feel like it. GTFO” – Derek Smart on SA
Going into August (GamesCom is Aug 22-26), we started seeing the shill pattern again. First up, those lying bastards over at GameStar, got the ball rolling with their interview which, while being their usual bullshit-ridden puff piece, started a major furor when they revealed that Star Citizen was only going to “launch” with 5 – 10 systems (out of the 110 promised to backers between 2012-2014). I wrote about that in my July 17th update.
And while CIG and their media cohorts, as well as the clueless backers were busy shilling “procedural planets” (most of them have no idea what that even means), which I recently wrote about here with regards to Star Citizen, others were on a completely different tangent.
Then Chris Livingston over at PC Gamer, one of the more credible writers, claimed “hands on” experience with 3.0. As I wrote here, based on my Twitter exchange with him, he says that he was able to play the game, go from space to planet “seamlessly”, then land on a moon and a planetoid. As the issue hasn’t been released yet AFAIK, that’s the only information that we have thus far. I remember back when GameStar was claiming they played 3.0, while not being able to give any details, though found time to write a 12+ page word salad of backer pandering bullshit.
“There will never – ever – be a “game” coming from this. And when it all collapses and CIG can no longer pay the monthly AWS costs, since the game is online only, backers will be left with a dud they can no longer play, as there is no off-line play component, nor peer-to-peer multiplayer.
My opinion remains the same. This game will never get made. It’s been a cash grab that’s made Chris, his family and friends, rich off backer money. He hasn’t “saved PC gaming”. All he’s saved are the ill-gotten gains from trusting backers who just wanted a game.” – Derek Smart
Know what happened to the Nox and Cyclone sales after Livingston posted his article snippet? This.
Then, amid the furor, and weeks later on July 26th, with no official comment from a CIG exec (not even Roberts), one of the CS posted a half-assed clarification about the 5 – 10 systems furor. It’s as ridiculous as it is mind-blowing. Read it and be the judge. I personally like how they literally threw GameStar under the bus. It’s always interesting when even shills and their sources can’t seem to get their stories straight.
Remember that by $65M raised, these clowns had progressively increased the scope of the game and reached the peak of ludicrousness almost three years and $90M ago in Nov 2014. The same month that the original games (Star Citizen and Squadron 42) pitched in Oct 2012 were supposed to be released.
As Nosy Gamer noted in his July 28th article, shortly after the above clarification, those backers who were defending the 5 – 10 systems, were suddenly singing a different tune. The YoYo is not a joke; and the Blue pill is actually Purple.
Even as GamesCom is approaching, and sources telling me that the ENTIRE project is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, the denizens of the quarantine zone, are already at high anxiety levels in anticipation of what’s going to happen at GamesCom this year. If only they knew that the reason resources are pulled off 3.0, thus causing the delay, is because CIG are working on what they will be showing at GamesCom a little less than a month from now. And if you thought I was joking when I kept saying that most of them were stuck in Sunk Cost Fallacy, read this Spectrum post.
I have all the details about precisely what they’re doing and planning for GamesCom. I will be publishing a new article during or after the GC2017 show, then we all get to see how much of it was on the mark.
The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
As I wrote back on July 8th, sources continue to tell me that not only is 3.0 nowhere near ready for release, but that it continues to be a performance hog. And that Squadron 42 still doesn’t exist as a “game”, but as a series of splintered tech demos. Which makes sense, considering that it relies on the Star Citizen core engines which aren’t even completely developed yet. It’s almost as if the pillar of the Star Citizen CS staff and community, a homophobic, racist, antisemitic buffoon, Ben Lesnick, actually lied when he claimed to have played all the missions in SQ42. A game that, with 2017 almost half over, still has no release date.
The bottom line is this, with the 3.0 release aim date now in early September, if they release what we see in the schedule in that time frame, it’s going to be a disaster more epic than the release of 2.0 back in Dec 2015. But much worse due to the introduction of moons and planetoids which have added to the complexity of the game and the performance issues they’re now battling. I don’t personally believe that CIG will do that because it will mark the end of the project. Instead, there is a very good chance that they will probably release 3.0 to Evocati either shortly before, during, or after GamesCom. Then leave it there for an undetermined period. Then after the hype or disappointment – which is all but sure to leak – later either pulling it for more internal testing, or pushing it to the Public Test Universe. Whatever they do, if it doesn’t live up to the expectations – which sources tell me it simply cannot – then it’s the final curtain.
“As of now, Star Citizen is 2.8 years late, and $90.5M over budget. That’s an absolute and indisputable fact.“
Eventually, and this goes without saying, every single person left with money in Star Citizen, is going to end up losing it if they think that a “game” will ever evolve from this train wreck. For the US backers who are now claiming that if the project fails, that “Key Man Insurance” would cover refunds, or that their money is tax deductible, we can help. Here is IRS form 4684 which you will probably need when the end comes.
You see, the thing with Ponzi schemes – which this project has evolved into – is that it is bound to collapse, regardless of how long it takes. With CIG using new backer money to refund old backers (who are still refunding btw), at some point when they can no longer do refunds, the whole glass house crashes. It’s inevitable. It will happen. And we’re all going to bear witness to it.
And some of the backers engaged in obfuscation and revisionist history, keep spouting the same nonsense that “backers voted to increase the scope of the game“. In fact, as I wrote here about a year ago, that notion is patently false. The 11-03-2012 stretch goals poll, and the 07-17-2013 funding counter poll did no such thing. And even if it did, it was still up to Chris to know when to say no, or when to determine whether or not it could be done. But regardless, in Nov 2014, after raising $65M, the project scope was significantly increased, thus sealing its fate and dooming it to the failure it is now facing.
“That’s the third time you’ve posted the same link to the same poll, disregarding points raised that the poll data doesn’t show any consensus or agreement in any of the options, since not even a simple majority agrees on any one option despite each participant being allowed to select 3 options. Members of the active SC community were given 3 votes each and still failed to put any of the options above 40% support, which suggests that there is no majority support from the community for any of the expansion options.
If anything, giving people 3 choices each instead of 1 should have made it easier for any one option to hit 50%, but that still didn’t happen. All this shows is that CIG polled the community and then promptly disregarded the results, opting to proceed with their own plan instead, and certainly doesn’t support your assertion that the changes were voted and agreed upon by the community.” – Some guy on SA
UPDATE: So amid the ongoing furor, a CS person from CIG has again issued a statement regarding the recent 3.0 schedule delay. It’s as ludicrous as the project itself. To the extent that not only admitting to continue to increase the project scope – when they should be winding down development to release a game – but also somehow justifying a bogus schedule they know is unrealistic. A schedule to which they won’t add the actual dates, but instead increase the delays two to three weeks at a time in order to avoid panic.
Basically their official statement is admitting that Chris Roberts LIED to backers. Here’s irrefutable evidence from GamesCom 2016.
From PC Invasion article.
“We have to assume they will rustle something up for Gamescom just to keep fans happy. While these special event demonstrations are always impressive, there’s little change to the actual game and they simply fuel the hype machine. The 3.0 update has been teased by CIG since October last year.”
Meanwhile over on Reddit…August 26, 2017 at 11:07 am #5654
As I mentioned in my GC2017 Star Citizen coverage, I am currently writing an article on Chris’s presentation. In the meantime, below is a private (industry friends and peers only) post I made on Facebook.
Star Citizen is being shown at GamesCom. It’s been a massive and unprecedented disaster which has all but solidified my opinion that they didn’t stand a chance of ever shipping the massive game that Chris pitched in 2012 and which was due out by Nov 2014 (That was before he increased the scope, thus setting himself of for a massive failure).
Today Chris was interviewed. Aside from declaring that Squadron 42 (last seen in 2015) was not being shown, thus pretty much confirming that it’s not a 2017 release, his astonishing response to a question about restraint, has to be heard to be believed.
Note that he is comparing Star Citizen to Eve Online, a game that was COMPLETED before they went on to improve it, add expansions etc, over the years. Basically declaring that, promises and pledges aside, he has NO intentions of actually FINISHING the game, because he now views the project as a perpetual on-going project.
A project for which, six years later, he has now raised over $156M, of which $75M+ was spent by a UK studio he built for his brother (who now makes £230K a year at a studio that’s NEVER shipped a game; even as Braben at Frontier Dev which has shipped two massive games since 2012, and a third on the way, makes £180K), and which has NO reason to exist other to unjustly enrich his UK friends and family.
The same studio, the largest of five, that’s supposedly developing Squadron 42, and some major components for the engine that’s powering both games.
I have added a link in the comments to the full interview. It’s 30 mins long, and is absolutely incredible.
I had toned down and reduced the number of articles I write on this train wreck because, aside from the effects that it may have on some of our long time industry friends and colleagues working on the project, I came to realize that I was getting angrier and angrier with each article that I wrote.
I have been in the industry for almost three decades now, have shipped over a dozen games, and made a decent living from it. Aside from the early days where I relied on publishers (Take Two who became a public company with one of my first games, Interplay who gave me a second chance and was very instrumental in getting me where I am today, Dreamcatcher etc) for partial funding, marketing, support etc, I have always funded my own games in a bid to remain independent, and to make the games that I wanted to make, and not the ones that industry trends dictated that I make.
For me, this was never about a pay check. I truly love what I do, and because a group of people keep buying my games, I was able to keep making them over the years. And for as long as I have been around, so many teams, developers, and publishers have come and gone; and very few of us old school types are still doing what we love. The industry continues to go through a sea change in which our most heralded visionaries and peers have changed the way we make and fund games. While the challenges remain the same, only the battlegrounds and rules of engagement have changed.
The advent of crowd-funding for video games, which we all knew was going to be abused sooner rather than later, has produced some of the most exciting and diverse games in all genres. Games which would otherwise have never been made.
Then came Star Citizen in 2012, and which by all accounts, has now evolved into a massive scam which, at $156 million raised from gamers, has only served to unjustly enrich Chris Roberts and his family (3 of them) and friends (6 of them).
And six years later, they have yet to move out of pre-Alpha for a game (one of two) that is barely 15% of what was promised.
And this was all after Chris decided to burn over $75M on a studio (1, 2, 3) in the UK, which has NO reason to exist other than to have his UK friends and family benefit from this project. A studio which, being the largest of five around the world, is the most expensive, and which has burned through over 70% of the entire project’s funding. A studio in which his brother is now making £230K per year. A studio that has never shipped a product, and by all accounts stands ZERO chance of EVER doing so. This even as industry veteran Braben over at Frontier Dev which has shipped two games (one which was crowd-funded) since 2012, and with a third due out next Summer, is making £180K – from a company that was just today valued at a little under £500M.
I have spent three decades curating and working in a single, dedicated, niche genre: sci-fi and space combat games. A genre that for years had been under-served, once gamers got older and decided they didn’t want to read game manuals any more, let alone spend more than 10 mins learning how to actually play a game.
So for me, this vast amount of wealth (currently to the tune of $156M, not to mention loans and unknown investments) that’s not only been squandered but STOLEN from this genre and gamers who buy the games we make in the genre, is a very personal fight for me.
In July 2015, before I wrote that first blog, I had written a similar Facebook post for the benefit of my many industry friends and colleagues, alerting them to what I believed was going to happen, most of which has turned out to be true.
I always said that, regardless of the consequences (if you are aware of the many attempts to vilify, harass, and attack me for writing my articles, then you are all to familiar with that I am talking about) and/or expenses, that I was going to keep writing and exposing what’s going on, in a bid to not only hold Chris accountable, but also to ensure that he didn’t get away with what he has done.
With that, believe me when I tell you this, with what I know, and what I have and believe to be true, I am going to do everything in my power to not only hold Chris Roberts accountable, but to also put him behind bars if it comes to that.
That is all.July 20, 2017 at 11:00 am #5580
WHY THERE ARE NO ACTUAL PLANETS IN 3.0 DESPITE PREVIOUS PROMISES
I remember when planets were coming. Then we found out they were moons (Yela and Cellin) – of course because they are smaller, and easier to handle and build, than full blown planets.
Then, after promising the Stanton system back in 2016, they are now saying that they’re going to be moving (LOL!!) Delamar from Nyx to Stanton. You know why? Because they can’t do planets, or they would be building the Crusader planet, which is in Stanton already. Instead, since Delamar (within the Glaciem ring/belt in Nyx) is just a large asteroid the size of a small planet (hence planetoid), they are moving it to Stanton.
If they can move Delamar, they could very well have changed Crusader from a gas giant to a regular planet, built that, and left Delamar where it is. But that would mean having to build an actual planet which would require a larger surface area, more terrain assets, POIs etc. The problem with creating surface area in these games is that when you have air/space craft which can travel up to 350 m/s in space, due to the expanse, on a planet they will quickly run out of space to fly.
And Delamar, which has the Levksi landing zone, may not even be in 3.0 when it first launches.
It’s worse than that.
Nyx is an entirely different star system which they haven’t built. So leaving Delamar where it is, would have meant building the Nyx star system, when in fact they only have Stanton (15% built, if you counted all the elements in the Star map, compared to what’s in the current game client), and having to deal with player transitions from one system to another. So they just said, fuck it, we’ll just move it.
It’s a brilliant plan if you ask me.
Aside from that, having promised over 100 systems, and now saying that the game will “launch” (whatever that means) with only 5 – 10 systems, as of now, they haven’t even built a single one of the systems to completion. Stanton, where they started out, has four planets and several moons; and only two of those moons and the relocated Delamar planetoid, are going to be in 3.0. They are burning through over $30M a year from backer funding. Which means that if Stanton isn’t built by the end of 2017, it stands to reason that it’s going to cost millions more in funding to get the game to even 5 – 10 systems. That aside from the features required. And 5 – 10 systems at launch, complete with space and planet/moon regions, we’re talking another two years – at least. In fact, this latest news is in sync with what sources had told me a few weeks ago in May when they said the internal dev schedule for the promised game, doesn’t reflect the public facing one, and goes all the way to 2021.
Meanwhile, some backers still don’t get the fact that NONE of this tech or methodologies are actually new, and that CIG has basically been playing catch-up, while being firmly behind the curve. They’ve had over $155M of backer money, but yet somehow, they can’t seem to be able to build what most of us experienced devs deem to be rudimentary technology which, graphics aside, any competent developer with experience in the field, could have built by now. When you look at the amazing ground breaking work being done in the genre by small indie devs like myself and others (Helion, Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe etc), you have to wonder wtf is going on with this project – and where did all this money go? Heck, Line Of Defense only has one populated planet, but it has four heavily populated, and fully built bases, complete with day/night cycles, weather patterns, unique topology etc.
As I wrote in an update from yesterday. All they had to do was this:
- Pick the right engine (not CryEngine) or build a custom engine from one that wasn’t designed primarily for one type of game
- Build the world editing tools for creating both space and planetary terrain
- Build the space terrain so that the entire space world (as seen in the Star Map) is there
- Build the space related missions and features
- Build the planetary tech. Since this would be isolated from all of the above, it doesn’t break continuity because, like what ED did, once you have it working, you LATER just edit your space world to handle planet entry into planets and moons
- Build the planet related missions and features
But no, that was too easy, and they had an incompetent buffoon who hasn’t worked in a dev team, let alone build a fucking game in almost two decades, at the helm. I would bet that, aside from Squadron 42 requiring ALL the tech they’re building for Star Citizen, it too probably has planet based missions. Which is probably why they’re now having to build this in 3.0, instead of fleshing out a “game”, then adding that later. All this time could have been spent on 3-4 above to keep backers happy and dropping their knickers with each patch. Then you hit them with planetary tech one day – and boom – all their clothes come off. But you see, as backers have been giving them money this whole time, they had no reason to plan properly, let alone show meaningful progress. I mean, 6 years + $155M later, look at this shit. LOOK AT IT!!
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
3.0 EVOCATI WATCH
So according to the totally legit dev schedule, the Evocati (elite of the elite backer testers only) release window starts today, and through to Aug 3rd. If that one crashes less, it will then go to the Public Test Universe (pleb backer testers) which has a release window of Aug 7th to the 18th. The final release of 3.0 currently has a window of Aug 8th to the 25th.
From what I am hearing, of course they’re not bloody well likely to make any of those dates, unless they just throw it out there. After all, GamesCom is Aug 22nd – 26th, and that’s their second (only to CitizenCon in Oct) largest yearly fundraising drive where they get to lie – a lot – to keep up the facade, while fleecing gullible backers.
I will be at GamesCom this year, because I believe that it will be their last one. That is all.
NEW CONCEPT SALE – JULY 21
So of course now that they are rushing to implement moons in the upcoming 3.0 build, it makes sense that they would want to give players vehicles to drive around. There’s the Nox racer, a sort of hover bike, but today they unveiled the Cyclone, 4-wheel vehicle. Note that this is a “concept” sale. Meaning that it exists only in pictures. No model. No implementation in the game. And no guarantees that the project would still exist by the time they get around to implementing this vehicle. There are many concept ships they previously sold, and which are still not in the game in any way, shape, or forum.
2016 FLASHBACK – GERMAN MEDIA DUMPING GROUND
Over the years, due to the size of the fan base there, as well as having a studio in country, CIG has made German media their dumping ground for Star Citizen propaganda because those guys will print anything. The US media, aside from few updates, are basically now taking a wait and see approach. This one, Star Citizen – New screenshots and details for version 2.7 unveiled, was back in July 2016 – a year ago this month – when procgen planets were totally coming in the 2.7 patch (which morphed into what we now know to be 3.0) due out later that year. Please read it. It’s absolutely hilarious.
2014 FLASH BACK – PERSISTENT LIES
As far back as late 2014, having completely missing the original Nov 2014 ship date, increased the project scope and funding to the tune of $65M, they were still doing bullshots being passed off as in-game, while touting this massive world they claim they were building.
“The cities are done to such a level of detail that it would be totally impractical to build each one from scratch,” Zurovec said. “As a result, we’ve adopted a multi-step process whereupon once the art assets have been created and properly set up, we can quickly create a lot of areas that look dramatically different.” – Tony Zurovek, Polygon Interview 2014
2012 FLASH BACK – THE ADVENT OF A DISASTER
Long before I got involved in this farce, and promised never to quit until either 1) CIG and/or Chris Roberts apologizes to me for lying about why they refunded me and 2) CIG comes clean with backers about the true state of the project and the finances, a lot of industry vets and media, already saw the signs of lofty promises and the potential for disaster.
One such person was Ben Kuchera who, in an Oct 2012 Penny Arcade article, called Star Citizen “a bad bet”, to which Chris Roberts responded (because why not?). These are some of the statements which, when you look back, you have to wonder how Chris Roberts is going to explain away how he ended up not only blowing through over $150M of backer money, plus what most believe to be investor money, bank loans etc, to the tune of over $285M (source rumors) on a project which , six years later, isn’t even 15% completed. It’s also one of the earliest statements (the other was to The Mittani) he made, in which he claimed that there was already a working build of Star Citizen from back in 2011.
GORF’S BACK! HE BROUGHT A SHIT-STORM.
You think I’m verbose? Then you don’t know Gorf, a highly regarded (even Shitizens scurry for cover when Gorf writes) member of the Goon enclave. After creating what has become the de facto standard for backer outrage in his Star Marine chronicles, he had taken a step back from following the project. So, without notice or forewarning, what did he do this time?
He created a 3.0 infographic which has the Star Citizen community ablaze, while sending ripples throughout the far reaches of known space. You simply can’t argue with pictures. And Gorf loves his pictures.
He also penned a memo to backers.
So it took me awhile to read through all the comments about the chart on /Games. Though there were lots of crazed invocations of Derek Smart, demonizations of goons, and other overreactions, I did see a few fair criticisms that I’ve addressed in this latest update.
1). The inclusion of the reduction percentages was redundant. Fair enough. I deleted that.
2) Chris’ quote didn’t include his “I get shot for making promises but that’s our goal” escape clause, the line that retroactively makes it all okay. So I included that, too.
3) I also added his mention of the 30 to 40 space stations that would be coming in 3.0. (We’ll see how that turns out.)
4) I also fixed a graphical problem that had white boxes behind the Planet names in the Stanton layout.
So here’s the latest version. If you’re a DS lurker who feels like the last one was flawed or shortchanged Chris’s quote, hopefully you might find this an improvement. I’m trying to be fair, even if stern.
I have to admit, lurking friends, some of your reactions were a little frustrating, given that I’d tried to avoid editorializing. The focus of the piece was timelines, quotes, and scopes for Star Systems in Alpha 3.0.
The accusations that the infographic was a part of some organized FUD campaign were especially ironic, given that some of you tried to preemptively trying to counter an anticipated Derek Smart tweet and in so doing ended up creating a non-paywalled source for the r/Games OP to reference.
“They put so much work into this. We record it we make some comments and that’s it. Smarties have absolutely no reach beyond their own echo chamber”
I didn’t make the chart hoping for a r/GAMES thread to blow up, or a MassivelyOP mention, or a psychodrama to unfold on r/DS. I made it for my friends here on the forum, most of whom I haven’t interacted with in a year, because organizing historical facts is something I like to do. It’s clear to us by now that Chris Roberts doesn’t learn from history because he keeps repeating it, so we keep discussing it, yet what I don’t understand is why you keep defending it?
Surely I have my own biases, as do we all, but why rage about what strangers think on some random forum? Your recurring tendency to discount the observable past while exaggerating the imagined future produces the present tensions that discomfit you so. The relief you seek yet can’t find won’t come from excoriating random nobodies for discussing their opinions about troubling development issues or deceptive sales tactics. You are the publisher. The ones to whom pledges have been made for accountability and openness. You’re intellectually and emotionally malnourished from the parody of it served up by a guy who believes himself accountable to no one and above all reproach. A man who hasn’t once in the entire history of this project ever apologized for anything despite having either intentionally or inadvertently mislead you about matters of genuine consequence for years.
You deserve better than to be full-time apologists for that. I sincerely believe that — why don’t you?”
Gorf’s 3.0 infographicJuly 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm #5543
So last week, German (It has to be them, because US media mostly don’t give a shit anymore because they know what’s coming) magazine, GameStar, had an interview with CIG whereby they claimed to have “played” the upcoming Alpha 3.0. You know, just like they have all these past years even though basically nothing they’ve written, has actually been released yet. And they did the same thing, on the same subject, almost a year ago – again to another German magazine. You should see all the ridiculous claims and promises in that one.
Anyway, since it’s the usual Shillizen nonsense, especially with the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26) coming up in Germany, most of us just laughed. You’d be surprised how much funnier this Star Citizen crap is when you’re reading a German to English translation. Not to mention the irony of backers having to read critical info from the media. This after having to date donated almost $155M to the project. It’s hilarious.
Aside from my usual Twitter trolling for lols, I mostly ignored, and discounted it as the usual rubbish that only desperate backers would pay any attention to. The backers in the Reddit threads (1, 2) were mostly aghast and/or pensive, for the most part. When I finally got to read a proper translation over the weekend, I realized just how right I was. It’s all the usual pandering bullshit, with zero accountability for the fact that the project, after 6 years and $155M (backer money only), is nowhere as complete today, as it was back in 2015. Without any bias, I say that with the utmost sincerity. Below are all the major milestone releases. Here are all the patch releases. Also in April 2015, they revised the patch numbering scheme.
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
So now it’s looking a lot like, with half the year gone, and the last 2.6.3 patch having been released back in April, that this year’s biggest update is going to be 3.0 (Moons!). And according to Chris Roberts at GamesCom 2016, it was supposedly due (On Nov 2, 2016, I wrote an article which cited sources had indicated that 3.0 didn’t even exist) back in Dec 2016; but backers got a consolation prize in the form of the immediately forgettable (seriously, nobody is playing it) Star Marine. And when you look at the sheer amount of work left to do, it’s easy to see how insurmountable their task it.
But enough of that. I wanted to talk about some specific items in the article that caught my attention, and which have also been the subject of much talk and controversy.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED – AGAIN
You do know that since Summer 2015 I’ve been saying this, right? And that since SQ42 relies on ALL the tech for Star Citizen, that there is no way in hell that game ever comes out without that tech being in place. They denied it in 2015. It didn’t release. They denied it in 2016 – even went to the media and said the rumors were rubbish. It didn’t release. It’s not coming out in 2017 folks. So stop talking about it.
They are planning for 7 – 14 missions, depending on how things go with the 3.0 release. This is interesting because, like with 2.0x, in which they created some space missions which quickly became repetitive, that’s basically where they’re going with this too.
SPACE <–> PLANET TRANSITION
The article says that via the starmap, they jumped to the outside of Delamar (moon), then flew down through the atmosphere to the surface below.
If you have been following my writings about this (1, 2), then at this point you can safely utter the words “Derek Smart was right” because since last year when Chris Roberts was touting procedural planets and all that rubbish, I had said that due to the engine, they probably couldn’t do whole planets, let alone procedural ones, or features promised such as orbiting planets, atmospheric day & night effects etc. Instead, they would have to create these surface areas as they would a standard “level”, using a combination of procedural (terrain and asset generation), and hand-crafted areas (derelicts, landing bases). And in the end they would have to access them the same way that Elite Dangerous does. In fact, what you would end up with is basically another entity object similar to their base in space with a landing platform, but created as a moon. Note that fps on planets was a $20M stretch goal, and they got a $1M spending bonus for procedural tech R&D when they hit $41M.
As a game developer and designer, I really have no problems with this because you have to work with what you have. And that’s the problem with making promises that you have to keep down the road. However, when you fund your own game, along the way, you can add and remove anything you want – with impunity and without consequences. Even in Early Access. But with crowd-funding, as the FTC and State AGs have said in all the cases they’ve pursued, if you make a promise, you have to keep it. No exceptions. You can’t take money to deliver a Gold box, then deliver a brass box, and say that’s the end of that, you’ve delivered.
Anyway, if they pull off this Minimal Viable Product of planetary access in 3.0, and assuming they can overcome the performance issues I’ve been writing about, that should probably keep some backers happy. Until they run through the content in one sitting; realize it’s all repetitive and shallow, and not really a “game”. Then we’re back in the lol trenches again.
“An artist can crank out five or six moons in a week for you,” Roberts told us, emphasizing that “once you’ve got your building blocks, somethings will be quicker. There isn’t going to be a matter where we hit a magic number and, ‘boof,’ here comes a planet” –Chris Roberts on procedural planets in Sept 2016.
Landing on a moon and base in Elite Dangerous
Marco Corbetta and Carsten Wenzel saying that the StarEngine currently has 10% CryEngine and 90% of their code, is interesting. It makes absolutely no sense, seeing as they claimed to have switched to LumberYard in about a day. That was back in Dec 2016 when 2.6 was released.
LumberYard is based on CryEngine 3.x, and Amazon didn’t make any fundamental (in dev speak) changes to it, other than bug fixes, various improvements, as well as adding AWS support and some supporting features for it. It’s all right there in their changelog. If what these guys are saying is true, and I don’t doubt that it is, then it completely confirms my theory that they didn’t “switch” to LumberYard at all. Instead, they merged the parts (e.g. as of this writing, they still can’t get the LumberYard implementation of Render-To-Texture to work) they needed, replaced Google Compute with AWS as is required by Amazon, and continued on from there.
From what I have heard, this move could be due to their original CryTek engine license which may either have royalties, or some sort of “units sold” threshold, like most licenses from years ago used to have. Which also begs the question of how they are going to get around the issue of the competing (LumberYard) engine clause, which, anyone who has seen a legacy CryTek engine license contract, probably knows is one of the bullet points.
In addition to the above, some have speculated that this switch is probably due to CryTek’s financial state, their ability to provide on-going support for CryEngine etc. Well uhm, if you’re only using 10% of CryEngine, what do you need CryTek support for?
“I talked to publishers about doing a fourth Elite game, but some things happened. Publishers were skeptical of space games in general because of the financial failure of Freelancer, an early 2000’s game. It was delayed. It’s a nice game, but in that period, they were just incredibly skeptical.
When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer. Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.” – David Braben, Rolling Stones, 2016
SERVER CAPACITY & CLIENT SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
They’re still talking about 24 clients on a server, though nobody seems to want to mention that it’s a theoretical limit and which only works in the social module. Any game instance running more than 8 clients, is a horrid experience. So with the much touted networking core improvement – which isn’t going to make much difference anyway – moved out of 3.0 and now defered into 3.1, with the added moons in the instance, it makes sense now why they are having performance issues with 3.0.
Listen, lets face it, with their current engine and architecture, they’re never going to be able to build the MMO they touted. Assuming they survive even a year past the 3.0 launch, there is no way they’re going to get from where they are (an instanced session based game) now, to an MMO (instanced or otherwise).
Not to mention the fact that, just like Elite Dangerous, the game’s architecture means that if they can’t make enough money to be paying huge AWS bills for their cloud servers, they’re going to have serious issues. It’s almost as if they should have been thinking about private servers – as promised – years ago so that when (not if, they’re fucked – completely) the project collapses, at least backers can continue to play the game thereafter.
They also claimed to have played the 3.0 demo on a 32GB machine with an i7-5930K CPU and Nvidia GTX 980 GPU. They claimed 30 fps, without specifically saying whether that was in space or on the Delamar moon, nor how many people were in the demo. But who cares about such details, right? Right now, there are backers with beefier systems having horrid performance with 2.6.3. But somehow for 3.0, they’ve come up with some magic Juju that’s going to make an upcoming build with a major content update, run on those same systems at the same or faster performance rate. I can’t wait to play it.
A TOTAL OF 5 – 10 SYSTEMS AT LAUNCH
Chris Roberts (@14:14) talking about 100 star systems – Sept 2015
This one has been the cause of much discussion since the article was published.
Considering that at $6M stretch goal they promised 100 systems, with 7 (1 exclusive to pre-launch backers) more promised between $18M and $40M stretch goals, and 500+ planets, with even the game’s universe description still touting 100 systems at launch, this one was hilarious to say the least.
Hey, at least they seem to have confirmed what I’ve been saying that the world isn’t procedurally generated at all. Which, now that it’s clear, I can see how they are now talking about 5 – 10 systems at launch because, given the tools we’ve seen, and the sheer amount of work required to build each of these “levels” with points of interest, landing zones etc, it would take another decade or more for them to build the world they promised. Shockingly, a world this size, was built by a single person over two decades ago, using a combination of scripts and procedural techniques. And it contains entire planets and moons, complete with various eco-systems, climate zones, planetary day/night transitions, orbiting & rotating planets and moons etc. Ah yeah, good times.
A lot of backers forget that though they were in the stretch goals, CIG announced procedurally generated planets back in February 2014. They showed an R&D demo during the holiday stream in 2015. Then in July 2016, again in a German magazine, they announced it as coming in 2.7 (the patch that became 3.0).
Anyway, this sounded so ridiculous to me, that I held of commenting on it before hearing back from my sources. Excerpt says it all.
“Nobody here reads what chris and erin tell the media. We still have to deal with scripted and directed shows most don’t want to be in. So if he told G* we’re planning that number at launch, I personally don’t know about it. It could be one of those things he just prattles on about or a lost in translation thing. Did they say he said that, or was it coming from a designer they met with? We don’t even have a launch date for either game, so how can that person know how many systems we would have at launch? Did you see the chatter on Spectrum related to Levski not being in 3.0 and a designer who should know but didn’t? It’s like the loan, none of us knew until we read about it online. I didn’t know about it until I got the chatter about Ortwin’s official statement on Spectrum. I saw your other email about an MVP. We don’t have that. Nobody is working toward that. We are just working on what we have to and doing the best that we can. I will check around about that other thing* and get back you, but I don’t know what they are planning now because 3.0 isn’t in any state to be released in Aug. Keep watching the schedule for the pattern I mentioned in my other email.”
* That was a prior exchange related to whether or not they would be releasing 3.0 as-is because of GamesCom, or if they would delay it again past Aug 25th in order to address the missing features and performance issues. If you haven’t been keeping up with the dev schedules, you should read the analysis of the 07-14-17 one in which a bunch of things were delayed, but the target release date never changed. Yeah, they’ve invented a time dilation machine.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.July 7, 2017 at 9:41 am #5501
CRAFTING PROCEDURAL MOONS
So the latest AtV broadcast is online. This one had a high degree of anticipation because it is supposed to showcase the “procedural moons” coming in the 3.0 build. To be honest, as a 3D developer, though none of it is new to me, from a technical standpoint, I thought this was a good and informative episode for backers.
The most interesting parts are at 12:30, 21:25, 23:15.
As I’ve said before, as these things go, clearly these guys are doing their best to make a game like this with a custom engine that simply isn’t able to do it. It doesn’t matter what they do with their custom engine, they are never – ever – going to be able to pull off the game they want to build, and at the scale they are shooting for. Like at all. Their biggest problem, as I said back in 2015, is the underlying CryEngine core, which was never designed for this. And even with Amazon’s LumberYard (which they switched to late last year) having done some nifty things to CryEngine, in addition to fixing bugs etc, they’ve still got an uphill battle.
Last year when they started touting “procedural planets”, most backers were of the impression that this refers to how the world is generated rather than how the terrain (planets and moons) is generated using various tools, including middleware such as World Machine (what they are said to be using). There is a huge difference between “procedural worlds” and “procedural terrain”; even if you consider space itself to be terrain. When you build the world in an editor, instead of using data scripts, they’re “hand crafted”. When it comes to world creation, there is a difference between No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous; or Infinity Battlescape and Call Of Duty Infinite War.
You can have the best of both technologies, but that would depend on your tools and expertise. For example, in my legacy Battlecruiser / Universal Combat games, I used both world and terrain procedural generation technologies which, believe it or not, were built as far back as the nineties when most of this was considered alchemy. Over the years, as hardware and software improved, a lot of that work was improved upon, across various derivative versions of those games, while retaining the underlying architecture. You can download Universal Combat CE on Steam, and also the modding tools which explain the underlying tech, and check it out for yourself. This Vimeo movie which I made back in Dec 2015, shows how the space and planetary worlds are handled in Universal Combat CE which has a massive galaxy containing standard and gas giant planets, as well as moons. And you can enter all of them; some you can exit in fps mode without dying. You can land on a planet, exit your craft in fps, go to an external camera view, and zoom all the way out to show the sense of scale.
It’s pretty much like alchemy
“As if all that wasn’t bad enough, having dropped the pretext of doing procedural planets in the game world, in a June 22nd broadcast of Around The Verse, they showed a segment (FF to 26:46) showcasing a new tool – outside of the CryEditor – that’s basically barebones for manual entity placement. In a “level” based world. Essentially, this tool basically sets up the world entities – and has nothing to do with the actual creation of the 110 star systems and 500+ planets and moons they have yet to manually create (in the CryEditor) for the game. And as of the upcoming 3.0, they are still struggling to create even the three moons promised; even after removing the promised planet from the schedule. Six years later, they are still building tools. For a game that was supposed to have been released in Nov 2014.”
The problem is going to be compounded by the fact that, from what I can see and tell from their engine design, it is going to be a major task to have entire planets and/or moons in the game world, and which players can enter/exit as seen in games like Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe, Universal Combat etc. Performance and memory requirements aside, that level of fidelity is near impossible with their engine. Which explains why they have since switched from that sort of talk, to now doing smaller moons and planetoids – similar to how Elite Dangerous does them. What’s left to be seen is how they end up adding them to the game world. After adding the moon|planetoid entity to the scene/level, there are only two ways of doing it:
- Use a proximity based trigger point to signal a transition from space to surface – and vice versa – with or without a loading screen to mask the scene loading
- Use a real entity based model which facilitates a seamless transition from space to surface – and vice versa. No loading screen needed.
To visualize the above in Star Citizen : start the game, leave your quarters, grab a ship, take off from the station, target a moon, fly to it, then seamlessly transition into it, or waiting for a loading screen after you hit the trigger point around the object which signals a transition.
While this AtV isn’t showing mostly what is coming in 3.0, it appears to be a combination of rudimentary things coming in 3.0, combined with on-going R&D for what they think they’re going to be able to pull off in the long term. I mention this because there is a frame where they were showing a cross-section cutout of a planet, in which the cutout shows an area with vegetation, despite the fact that the upcoming moons and planetoids are barren landscapes.
Bullshot 3.0 video – CitizenCon Oct 2016
And as they’ve done so many times in the past (as recently as CitizenCon 2016 in which they showed what was purportedly coming in 3.0, due out before Dec 19th, 2016), instead of, you know, showing actual game play for a patch that’s supposedly less than a month away, they’re still making editor-based movie bullshots (see the Reclaimer @ 26:37 in the AtV video) which have zero correlation to the actual game client they’re releasing. Except this one is Pupil To Planet (Dec 2015) redux for 2017.
Coming soon in 2.0 – Aug 2015
CitizenCon Oct 2016 vs AtV July 2017
BONUS: If you really want to have a good laugh, take a look at this YouTube doubler video showing the same planet to space zooming between Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. Yeah.
PERFORMANCE – THE BANE OF 3D WORLDS
Though parts of this presentation was running in the game editor, and low frame rates are usually expected – especially for an Alpha – depending on what is being rendered, the performance issues which are already existent in every build of Star Citizen, (including the current 2.6.3 build released back in April) client and server, are only going to get a whole lot worse as they try to increase the size of the world, add more stuff to it etc.
You did notice parts of the broadcast where 4 airborne clients in the scene, with the frame rate at around a constant 15 fps; while other parts showed 20 fps on the ground?
You did? Right. That’s absolutely horrific.
Especially when you consider that the scenes are already barren, and mostly built off repetitive (you can see the patterns if you look closely e.g. in the rock formations) procedural entities. In the existing 2.6.3 build, you can hardly get 8 clients in an instance, without either the server falling over, or the client dying. Now imagine having those 8 clients in 3.0, on a moon, all of them flying around, or hovering (they don’t touch the terrain) across the terrain in a Dragonfly or Nox. And firing weapons. Or running around in fps mode. All of that with physics and collisions active. Then just wait until they add pathfinding and AI, and all that to the mix; not to mention gameplay elements such as mining.
And before you utter their buzzwords and terms such as “network bind culling” or “serialized variables”, don’t. It has nothing to do with that. And even if and when they somehow magically got those two networking features implemented, it’s not going to be a huge performance gain either way. Which is probably one of the reasons why neither is in the schedule, or continues to be delayed.
@7:52 : we have “a full universe simulation” with about “20 million AI units” – Aug 2015
@0:22 : “digging and drilling holes, and going inside” and “mining asteroids” – Dec 2014
Back in late June, a source had told me that they were having some serious performance issues with this build, and that they had no idea how they are even going to release it within the current schedule given. I wrote about that back on June 24th. Excerpt:
“BREAKING two sources have now confirmed that 3.0 is such a technological nightmare, and performance hog, that nobody knows how they are going to end up releasing it within the current time frame; let alone for GamesCom.
Recently (well, before GamesCom 2016), I said that they simply didn’t have the tech to do procedurally generated planets, that the pitched 3.0 was bullshit dipped in Ether. Less than 6 months later, 3.0 has been significantly scaled back. And has moons – in a level – instead of procedural planets (shown in an elaborate R&D video showcase posing as in-game).
I have no doubt that they will probably release something called 3.0, then continue to update it. They did the same thing with 2.0. Right up to 2.6.x”
Today’s dev schedule update is going to be interesting if it’s like last week’s (which I wrote about here) in which the 3.0 release window was again pushed, but further and all the way to Aug 10th, with a huge list of items delayed or changed to TBD status.
The proximity of this AtV broadcast, to the upcoming 3.0 release date – both knocking up against the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26), one of their biggest yearly funding drives – is also going to factor in whether or not 3.0 actually releases before, during, or after the show. And given the amount of work that seems to be going into this 3.0 build, it is safe to say that it’s going to be the only major release this year. This is similar to 2.0 in 2015, and 2.6 in 2016. So once this is released, it’s probably going to be 3.0x until they get to 3.1. If they even get that far, seeing as they are now rumored to be having financial issues.
And if 3.0 isn’t released within the stated period, or is released with most of the promises cut, with major performance issues etc, my guess is that they’re still going to be doing bullshots while peddling the promise and dreams of things yet to come – six years, and over $153 million later.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.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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