Main › Star Citizen – Musings
- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
- February 20, 2018 at 10:14 am #6239
ANOTHER LOFTY PROMISE BITES THE DUST
In what should absolutely come as no surprise (I totally called it – many times in fact) to anyone paying attention to Star Citizen, they’ve now walked back yet another promise related to their handling of multiplayer. So all that ground-breaking stuff they were promising between 2014 to now, is history.
And it’s a biggie – no matter how the devout try to downplay it.
LEAD NETWORK DEVELOPER – FEB 19th, 2018
The above statement on Spectrum, is from Clive Johnson. And it’s not the first time he has stepped out and explained what is going on with the game’s networking. Back in December, I wrote about his previous statements which also caused a bit of a stir with the backer community.
Even though Chris Roberts stated back in 2012 that they were not building an MMO, over the years, after figuring out that the only way to continue ripping off backers was under the premise of building an MMO in which they could fly their chariots, live a virtual life etc – now it’s back to square one.
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. – October 18, 2012
Let me break it down.
They are now – at this stage – claiming that they are going to be implementing a hybrid method of how Elite Dangerous handles its massive world – in a client-server environment. In other words, back to 2012 promises, based on tech that’s been around since the 1990s. I ran out of lols.
Watch the presentation above on how they built it. Trust me, it’s all kinds of amazing. Do you think those guys didn’t know what they were doing when they decided that a p2p network was the way to go?
Make no mistake, ED is not – and never was – an MMO. And it’s currently the largest space combat MMO in existence. The instances in ED each hosts a group of connected clients. They are in turn connected to and communicating with a master server (and others in the cluster) for things like entitlements, items etc. All world (translation, movement etc) communications between clients, is handled between those clients – not the server. It’s a hybrid peer-to-peer network. They built it this way from the ground up. And they use instances for connecting various areas together. And even when you get a large group of players together, they are all talking to each other instead of requiring a master server. That is completely different from a client-server structure which is what Star Citizen uses. Read Polygon’s Elite: Dangerous’ 3,000-player battle royale article on how this works, as well as the adverse effects of using a p2p hybrid to host a large number of players in a massive world. You can also read Kotaku’s Game Recreates Entire Galaxy, 1,000 Players Determined To Explore It article for another side of the story.
Meanwhile, back in 2012, Chris Roberts wrote an article on multiplayer and networking. Read Chris Roberts on Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing – it’s amazing. 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.” – Chris Roberts, Nov 11, 2012
CHRIS ROBERTS – FEB 29, 2016 @ 02:29
The above word salad translates to:
“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 – AUG 5, 2016 @ 28:08
“We’re going to have this mesh of servers, so we’ll be able to have – hopefully you know – a large amount of players all in the same area, so we don’t have to instance it in a way that originally we were thinking we were gonna have to instance it; we have a kinda different kind of server design now that could potentially have thousands of players all in the same sort of area – uhm at the same time; which would be really cool cuz that’s something – again – something you could get a while, a year ago or ten years ago, but with sort of the newer tech, the power of machines, uh, the kinda stuff you can do in the cloud, the possibility has sort of opened up, we wanna utilize it.”
TONY ZUROVEK – OCT 13, 2016 @ 20:00
Back when Tony said the above, this was my response:
“Technical issues aside, listen (20:00) to how they plan on handling the networking (currently 75% of what they want to do) for instancing. It’s a load of rubbish – which simply will not work. Especially for this kind of “twitch” style game. That aside from the high cost of cloud instances, bandwidth costs etc. I don’t even know anymore.”
ERIN ROBERTS – FEB 17, 2017
Here is his brother in a 2017 article, The Star Citizen Exclusive Interview: 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.”
Now, seven years in, and almost $180M raised, these chuckleheads are basically rolling back the clock to 2012. They finally realized they can’t do what they promised, due to how they designed the game, as well as the features they have been touting, while hobbled with a sub-par engine and a woefully inexperienced dev team who have never built anything like this – ever.
And they are still not even 15% of the way to delivering the promises they made. If the latest roadmap schedule update wasn’t a clue that they’re just running through basic check boxes in order to shove as much stuff into the current build engine as possible, well I dunno what to tell you. My Dec 2017 update has more info on this.
So basically, that’s the end of 1000 player instances. Assuming they can solve the performance issues in the game and the networking – which they can’t – they would be lucky to have even 16 clients in an instance. And if they stick around long enough to even manage connecting instances to each other, ask yourself this: How on this God’s Earth are they going to handle restrictions on the massive ships in the game and keeping them from transitioning instances? Imagine two capital ships in instance A, now connecting those players to instance B which also has even more of those. And here you thought they were ever going to solve performance issues. Good luck with the grouping. LOL!!
It’s all a load of rubbish. And I said precisely that in my first Star Citizen blog of July 2015.
“Now imagine a game, in a universe of that size, with populated space and planetary areas, complete with internal areas for stations, buildings, ships etc. And with high visual fidelity, great runtime performance… and multiplayer. Then ask yourself this: “How the heck are we going to build that, let alone get it to actually run? You can’t. And you’re not.
Building games like this, you have to balance visual fidelity with gameplay and scope. You absolutely cannot have it all, and even if you do have it all, something will suffer. Either visual fidelity, or performance.
What this means is that when you see the visual fidelity in games like Star Citizen, you have to wonder how they are going to make a game of this scope, with that level of visual fidelity, in a persistent game world, with multiplayer and expect decent performance results. If you read my dev blogs, you already have an inkling of precisely what goes into building games like this.”
STAR CITIZEN ROADMAP ENTRY
“First iteration of the server meshing technology. With this system, individual servers would be responsible for different locations within the solar system. When operational, players and entities should experience seamless transitions between servers during quantum travel.” – Star Citizen Roadmap – Feb 16, 2018
They keep making promises in order to keep kicking the can down the road in order to get the gullible backers giving them money. The “game”, how ever it turns out by the time the whole thing collapses, will never – ever – be the MMO+ they promised. Not only have they just confirmed it, but they’ve basically also now confirmed that it’s going to remain a session based instanced game, which hopefully they will figure out how to connect instances to each other while retaining all the features the promised. If this was a simple game designed for session based engagements like ED or any arena type game, then yeah – maybe. So for all intent and purposes, you’re going to be stuck in your 16 – 24 instance and hope you’re having fun in your friends or strangers.
LINE OF DEFENSE IS PARTITIONED INTO 13 CONNECTED SCENES
It’s hilarious when I think about it because back when we were designing Line Of Defense, I knew this was going to be a problem. That’s why we designed the network (Wide Span Global) the way that we did, while partitioning the game world with controls that allow us to restrict the number of clients in a scene. And it’s all client-server based. Each client is seamlessly moved from scene to scene by either connecting them to one running on the same server, or on a completely different server. I did a 3.5 hr stream this past weekend in which I toured the 4 planetary scenes. It shows how they are loaded, unloaded, connected etc – all independently.
This is the sort of thing you build from the ground up – and right from the start. You just can’t tack that on at any time. Most especially when using an engine like CryEngine and it’s derivative Lumberyard – neither of which were designed for MMOs (those who tried, found out the hard way).
STANTON SYSTEM. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW THEY PARTITION THAT
It’s even more hilarious when you consider that all this time, they have yet to build a SINGLE star system. They’re still screwing around in Stanton.
It’s incredible to me that back in 2015 I said backers were going to be paying for a Gold box, but would end up with a cardboard box – with no lid. Suckers spent $180M on a game which we now know, in the right hands, could have been built for about $20M.
UPDATE (FEB 25, 2018)
Mere days after I wrote this article, CIG released their updated schedule which revealed that they had – once again – pushed network traffic culling, a critical component, from 3.1 into 3.2.
This is something that has been in the schedule since 2016, and was supposed to have been released in the 2.6 build (the first Lumberyard build) back in late 2016. Then it was moved into the 2.6.1 schedule. And again into the 3.0 schedule.
I have written about this particular feature in past (Dec 2017, Oct 2017, Jul 2017) articles. As I’ve written before, CIG is once again just making up bullshit names for standard tech so that it looks like they’re actually inventing new things. And backers get to foolishly think they’re paying for innovation. Whatever it is CIG is wanting to do, here is a 2014 article that explains Network Traffic Culling.
As if on cue, I posted this scoop on Twitter:
“Star Citizen 3.1 was due out end of March. I am hearing that it’s way behind schedule. Also, they can’t get network traffic culling working – at all. So don’t expect it anytime soon – if ever. They also sent out Evocati notice that they may increase it to 2000 invites.”
Less than 24hrs later, Clive Johnson issued this statement on Spectrum:
“We decided it was necessary to push Bind Culling back for the following reasons:
1) Progress has been slower than we had hoped, partly due to taking longer than anticipated to convert the last few places in the code that were using old-style Aspects and RMIs to Serialized Variables and Remote Methods, and then completely strip those legacy systems from the network code. That was a necessary step because we didn’t want to have to implement Bind Culling for both the old and new systems. I’m not embarrassed to tell you there was some dancing and a few air-punches on my part when the last line of that old code was deleted.
2) There wouldn’t have been enough time left before 3.1 for the network and gameplay programmers to deal with the issues we’re expecting the introduction of Bind Culling to cause.
3) Bind Culling would result in clients streaming entities in and out based on distance, but without asynchronous Object Container Streaming it was always a gamble whether the resulting synchronous loading stalls would be worse or better than what players experience now. The plan was to get Bind Culling working, see what the impact on player experience was and then make the call whether to turn it on for 3.1.
4) Range-based Serialized Variable Culling was our backup plan in case Bind Culling didn’t make it into 3.1. You may remember that we were working on SV Culling for 3.0 but that it wasn’t quite ready in time. Well, it was the first thing we tackled when we came back at the start of the year, and has been working in our development branch for several weeks now (not the branch 3.0.1 was taken from). SV Culling already gives us a lot of the performance gain we would expect from Bind Culling so the urgency for the later has dropped significantly.
5) The network team is needed for other tasks that have increased in priority since they were first added to our schedule.”
WE MISSED THE LIES. THEN WE LOST THE FARM
The Crytek lawsuit has revealed a lot of previously unknown things about this project – and there’s a LOT more to come from what I have learned. For one thing, we learned that Crytek – not CIG/F42 – built all the tech demos that they were passing off as the “game prototype”. We also learned that the first iteration of any code base for the game that CIG built, was the hangar module which was released in August 2013. The Arena Commander dogfighting module didn’t appear until June 2014.
So, if you saw this Kickstarter update of Nov 18, 2012, and you were wondering why it looks and plays so differently, it’s because it was – again – created by Crytek as a proof-of-concept tech demo used to inspire confidence and to sell the “game” to backers. Chris and his crew passed it off as the game prototype.
STAR CITIZEN SUPPOSED GAMEPLAY – NOV 18, 2012
“We’d like to share one last gameplay video with you as you make your final upgrade choices. This is a short video of the AI attacking and defending a Bengal carrier. It demonstrates intelligent collision avoidance – a dense asteroid field, other space ships, including a large capital ship plus offensive and defensive roles. Note that this is very early pre-pre Alpha. There was a bug with laser bolt speed in this build and they were incorrectly capped at a very low speed. That is not how they will behave in the game. But we thought the video was awesome enough to show you anyway!” – Kickstarter, Nov 8 2012
If you remembered Chris Roberts claiming that it was the game’s prototype, while claiming that curious (e.g. slow laser shots) things were just bugs, yup, you guessed it – he was lying.
As I’ve said before, the depositions and discovery in the Crytek case are going to be amazing.
ANOTHER SHELL COMPANY SPOTTED
A few days ago, by way of a backer sharing his refund info, we spotted another shell company in Germany. This one appears to be a correction of a previous 2017 one which was named “Robert Space Industries”, instead of “Roberts Space Industries”. This now brings the total to 18 companies across three countries, involved in Star Citizen. Because that’s perfectly normal.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- Cloud Imperium Games Corp
- Cloud Imperium Games LLC
- Cloud Imperium Rights LLC (08-22-17)
- Cloud Imperium, LLC (11-08-17)
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC
- Gemini 42 Entertainment LLC
- Gemini 42 Productions LLC
- Roberts Space Industries Corp
- Roberts Space Industries, LLC CA (11-30-17)
- Twin Brothers Production Inc <– Owned by Ortwin Freyermuth. Has been used in sales & refunds in US & EU
- Cloud Imperium Games UK Limited
- Cloud Imperium Rights UK Limited (08/29/17)
- Foundry 42 Limited
- Roberts Space Industries International Limited
- Roberts Space Industries Germany GMBH
- Foundry 42 <– ex-CryTek engineers hired to setup shop here
- Twin Bros GmBH <– see above
“Star Citizen isn’t a game. It’s a TV show about a bunch of characters making a game. It’s basically This is Spinal Tap except people think the band is real.” – Star Citizen Backer – Feb 10, 2018 (Spectrum post)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.”
“I couldn´t take CryEngine and make another game with it, but with Star Citizen we have no issue with it” – Chris Roberts @ 0:45
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.November 11, 2017 at 9:31 pm #6027
THE EVOCATI 3.0 CLIENT TEST FIASCO
So I wrote The Road To 3.0 article that the recent 48-60 client test was just a ruse and propaganda which just happens to start 2 weeks before the anniversary sales. Like always. I also later expanded on that with an update in my forums. And in case you missed it, I also previously gave a lot of technical reasons why Star Citizen will never – ever – be an MMO.
Since most of the guys in Evocati are hand-picked whales who are helping RSI/CIG to perpetrate a full blown scam, of which this recent nonsense is just part of that, those guys are the ones leaking bullshit information in a pitiful attempt to mislead their fellow backers. This despite the fact that RSI/CIG know that they simply can’t keep a lid on stuff like this. Not to mention the fact that, as has always happened in the past, by the time they eventually release whatever they will be calling 3.0, it would immediately obvious that they were effectively doing what they’ve always done in the past: deceptive practices.
So, straight from the discussion channel, below are the metrics and results posted. I wrote that this was just a sham, and that it served no purpose other than to start propaganda ahead of the upcoming sale, as well as perhaps their testing of new (possibly .x.large) AWS tiers which they think (it’s not) is going to provide better experience and performance. The main issue here is that they know the server can’t handle more than 10 clients in any reasonable (think combat, traversal etc) form, and that the server is still completely unstable (now more than ever before). So, ask yourself why they’re doing these sort of client tests now, when they should be fixing bugs, getting the build complete, getting the game to run at least 16 clients – solid – before reaching for the insurmountable. It makes no sense. But it does make sense when you consider all the similar bullshit they’ve pulled these past years.
So, lets get started. Below are the metrics from the 3.0q patch which was used for the test.
- Dual Xeon e5-2687w v3. 20 physical (HT disabled) cores, overclocked using Haswell microcode hack
- 2x nVidia GTX-1080Ti (SLI disabled)
- 64GB DDR4-2400 ECC RAM
- 16GB of RAM dedicated to caching drives (10x faster than Optane performance in bandwidth & latency)
- Micron C400 (550mb/s read/write)
This was 48 player maxed out server. The physical (not Hyperthreading) core counts range from 4 to 20 cores. Result (FRAPS shots):
- 11-13 average fps – with no combat
- 17-25 during server start and shortly after in a ship and just flying around – no combat
Yes, 20-core dual Xeons can’t even handle 12 fps on average. And not even an overclocked 7700K @ 5Ghz could maintain 25 fps.
Remember, RSI/CIG keeps all this under wraps, is actively using DMCA takedowns on YT, Vimeo etc, to suppress this Evocati test information from getting out. For a game that’s supposedly “open development” and which backers have reportedly given $164 million to develop. As funding continues to decline (currently down -40%) drastically year on year, it’s clear to see that they are coming up with new tricks. But ignore us though, keep giving them money and wait for what (trust me, it’s revealing – more soon) comes next.“About those tests. Maybe you shouldn’t ask yourself about player numbers but about the performance at those player numbers… After all a player limit is just an integer value on the server. You can crank them up and claim success at 60 players anytime you want. Also remember gamescom? Remember a certain 20 minute restart procedure? Everyone in etf knows why those restarts were a thing now. Because 3.0 servers go down in agony performance wise after a quarter hour. If you go back and read about the test procedure for those 60 player tests you may find something very, very similar…” – Evocati Tester
NEW DEV SCHEDULE FORMAT
Finally, as you may have heard during the final presentation at CitizenCon, we are going to switch over to a quarterly release schedule for the PU in order to provide content drops on a more consistent basis. To that end, we will be modifying the Beyond 3.0 Overview section to a new PU Roadmap that will show you exactly where the various features and additions will fall in our quarterly release schedule. If a feature requires more work, then it will transition into the next release. This roadmap will be posted once 3.0.0 goes Live.
I am calling it right now, 3.0 is the MVP. They haven’t released a patch since 2.6.3 in April 2017. Now, they’re going to a quarterly release? Which means all the bugs and issues are going to be unfixed for a WHOLE QUARTER. Don’t forget that there are over 3000+ bugs still lurking in 2.6.3 and which have somehow been ignored and forgotten. Hey, remember back when they were going to do monthly updates? Yeah, me too. Aha! But do you remember when the schedule totally looked like this?
NEW SHELL COMPANY
In addition to the total of 16 corporations involved in this venture, a few days ago on 11/08/17, they created another one. This time a foreign (incorporated in Delaware, though located in CA) entity called “Cloud Imperium LLC”. It’s not even complete yet, but you can go to https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/ and search for “Imperium” to pull it up. So that’s 17 in total now that we know of.November 9, 2017 at 10:53 am #6005
Evocati 3.0 – THE DISASTER WITHIN
The image above is part of a converted movie posted from the 3.0 Evocati build. The original YT video was taken down via a DMCA strike by CIG.
Last night, CIG ran a multiplayer stress test where they claimed they were going to be hosting up to 64 player instances. After everyone stopped laughing, and making fun of them in the ETF discussion threads, they actually came out with this notice.
And like clockwork, not long after, the Tribe Of Gullible Backers, came up with this Reddit thread.
This is all propaganda which they hope will leak that they can somehow manage more than 8 clients on a server. It’s inconsequential and serves no purposes if it’s not playable.
This test would be like that time when Planetside2 decided to go for the GBWR with 1000+ people on the server. I was there. It was unplayable. The record was that the server could handle the connections, and clients could exist in game, not that it was playable.
They later set all the servers to 48 clients. And CIG said it would be “quality fun”. Yeah, everyone was laughing their asses off at the epic fail.
You can’t spawn most ships, especially multi-crew ships – at all. And those who got into the test, could barely move, let alone fly. And the QD response time is almost a full minute from the time you hit the command, to the time it actually processes it.
The fps for the test was worse than ever before, and the server instances never ran for more than a few minutes at a time without crashing.
They haven’t bothered to try and get performance metrics up for the standard 16 client instances per server. So instead, they’re doing increased client count stress tests, thinking that’s going to somehow be productive. It’s all a distraction. As I wrote in my Discord channel, basically they appear to be transitioning from using several low AWS tier instances, in exchange for higher tier ones, thinking that’s going to somehow improve performance. It’s like trading in 10 small Oranges for 1 large Orange.
I have already written extensively about why Star Citizen will never – ever – be an MMO. Like ever. And I recently expanded on that with even more damning reasons why it’s all blatant lies mixed in with pipe dreams.
And the bugs keep coming. It’s now four weeks to the December anniversary stream and the year end fund-raising, so they’re starting the hype now. My guess is that they’re either going to push 3.0 as-is into the PTU and piss off for the holiday, or hype it, then delay it into 2018.
3.0 wasn’t ready to go to Evocati at all. They did that as pure hype ahead of CitizenCon 2017 in order to give the false impression that it was coming soon. Going from Dev –> QA –> Evocati –> PTU -> Release, is a long drawn out process. Now we’re one month into Evocati and there are no indications that it’s ever going to get where it needs to be for it to hit the PTU, let alone release. Unless they just throw it out like they with with 2.0 back in Dec 2016.
THE ROAD TO 3.0
The last patch was 2.6.3 released in April. Nothing has been released since. And if you look at the progress between 2.0 to 2.6.3, it’s easy to see that there was NOTHING substantial by way of progress on the “game”. And $164 million later, it’s still a complete disaster of a project.
04/18/2017 – 2.7 automagically becomes 3.0, aka The Jesus Patch
04/07/2017 – 2.6.3
03/31/2017 – 2.6.2
12/23/2016 – 2.6.0
03/28/2016 – Lando denies maintenance mode
03/28/2016 – I wrote a post that the game is in maintenance mode
UPDATE: It comes as no surprise that on 11/10/17, they again changed the format of the dev schedule, making it even more confusing, while obfuscating the true state of the project.
Finally, as you may have heard during the final presentation at CitizenCon, we are going to switch over to a quarterly release schedule for the PU in order to provide content drops on a more consistent basis. To that end, we will be modifying the Beyond 3.0 Overview section to a new PU Roadmap that will show you exactly where the various features and additions will fall in our quarterly release schedule. If a feature requires more work, then it will transition into the next release. This roadmap will be posted once 3.0.0 goes Live.
I remember not so long ago when they were promising to do monthly update releases. It’s amazing that this is the schedule they have been using this whole time to mislead and lie to backers. Now it’s all obsolete.
REFUNDS & SMALL CLAIMS COURT
A group of backers in the UK who were refused refunds, have been making good on their threats to take RSI to small claims court. Shortly after this person filed a claim, to which they responded that he filed against the wrong entity, they suddenly agreed to refund him.
“It seems to be different in the UK than in the US, because CIG is the parent company and they have the same address in the UK, it cost me nothing to amend the claim to be at the parent of F42. Also it seemed to have worked, I got a ticket reply saying that they will now go ahead and refund me this morning, I’ll keep the claim open until i get the actual refund but it seems to be progressing at least“
You all who have been following my documentation of this scam, already know that I have always said that there is no circumstance under which RSI will allow protracted legal action over this project, as it would be completely disastrous for them given the issues with the money and what has happened to it. If they can, they will just refund. Until they no longer have money to do so. Which is how a Ponzi scheme works.
And this guy filed for a refund about 20 days ago. Suddenly, he’s getting his money back.
FOLLOW THE BACKER MONEY
As I have said these past two years, this whole thing is all about the money, and I would be taking odds that someone is going to be in some serious legal trouble when this project eventually collapses – or they successfully get sued. Given what I’ve heard, I also won’t put jail time out of the question. Especially given some of the people involved in this.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the 2016 financials filing by the UK entities attached to the project. A lot of Red flags have been going up in their financials since the Coutts loan (which I wrote about here) became public this past Summer. Clearly, as per the due diligence by the bank, that loan required them to restate quite a good portion of finances. So the 2016 filings have yielded even more questions. To the extent that, as per the analysis by a UK accountant, it appears as if over £2.4m of backer money, simply went up in smoke – and disappeared. You can read more about that in this four (1, 2, 3, 4) part series.
The Pioneer ship sale from the CC2017 event provides even more evidence that there are in fact a few whales (2000-3000) still propping up the project, and who are treating JPEGs like they were trading cards. It was still a disaster for them in terms of fundraising for the period. All metrics point to a downward trend. For a company that’s burning over $3m per month worldwide, and with no revenue stream to speak of, this is a problem. They simply won’t survive as they don’t have a finished product to sell. And they’ve already completely saturated the market base for this type of game. Hence JPEG ship sales.
About 4000-4500 out of 5000 made available
Concierge warbonds: 2000 of 2000 sold
Normal warbonds: ~800 of 1000 sold
Normal credit: 1000 of 1000 sold
GamesCom CitizenCon reserved: 200-700 of 1000 sold
So I had written an article about this show, and which was yet another tech demo display where NOTHING of the actual 3.0 game was shown or played.
After the keynote address, they showed a tech demo of a procedural city which, even with a single client, was running with horrible performance. And also a new ArcCorp preview. It’s hilarious to think that they did this same thing three years ago. This was ArcCorp back in 2014. Didn’t make it into the game. And this is Tony Zurovek talking about procedural cities. Yup, you guessed it – back in 2014.
I could write a whole paper about why the very idea of doing procedural cities at that scale and fidelity – in a real-time time game – and an MMO at that – is not only virtual impossible, but they don’t even have the tech to actually power it. Forget about the asset repetition, which was in full display; collision detect, physics, networking, preventing clients from actually going down there (Chris did say they couldn’t) like they can in ArcCorp, significant performance issues etc. And that’s not even an exhaustive list. If you’re thinking No Man’s Sky, don’t. Instead, go read a book or article about what they did, and why it worked in that game, despite some of the same issues.
Chris did say that this showcase was what was “coming after 3.0“. You’d think that he would actually be talking and showing the 3.0 which was supposed to have been coming out in Dec 2016. But that would be boring, since it’s not new hype. And from what we are now seeing in the 3.0 Evocati build, had they done that, it would have been another GamesCon 2017 type disaster – which won’t sell ships. Only hype and pretty JPEGs fund the game now.
That’s not all. They somehow managed to turn a fan convention into a snore-fest padded with pure tripe, and a lot of things they either already covered in AtV broadcasts, or which were better suited there. A pure waste of backer money.
Anyway, I have decided not to publish the article because a number of critical issues (e.g. they have now said that staff will no longer appear in external shows. Much to the chagrin of their Shillizen streamers, key people have left or are leaving etc) are happening with the company and project in the background. As a result, I was planning on including all that in the article, pending clearance and verification from various sources. However, with the anniversary sale and fundraising coming up within the next four weeks, I have decided to continue with my research into those issues and then cover everything in a single year end article as I’ve done these past years. It’s going to be amazing. Guaranteed. HINT: You were ALL warned about the E.L.E. It’s real. And it’s happening.
Even the Xi’an race are pitching inOctober 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.“
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