Main › Star Citizen – Musings
- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
- October 18, 2017 at 9:59 am #5949
THE MMO THAT WASN’T
Hey, remember back in 2012 when they weren’t making an MMO?
Is Star Citizen An MMO?
No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.
Then all of a sudden they totally were? Yeah, me too.
Please read this statement from the website. It’s the most amazing piece of game design horse shit that you could only make up if you were dreaming while high, and your brain was totally disconnected from reality. Here is an excerpt:
“In Star Citizen there is going to be one persistent universe server that everyone exists on. So you will never be separated from your friends, and if you want you’ll be able to join up and adventure together, you can. Due to the fidelity of the dogfighting and physics simulation we can’t however handle thousands of players in the same area of space. Even if you had enough internet bandwidth to handle the data going back and forth and a super computer for the server there’s no PC, even with quad SLI that could render that many spaceships with Star Citizen’s fidelity.
So the “magic” of Star Citizen’s multiplayer design is how we combine a persistent universe with a more traditional (and easier to implement) temporary multiplayer “battle” instance.” – Chris Roberts on Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing, Nov 11, 2012
Which is how we get to this, directly from About The Game:
From the mind of Chris Roberts, acclaimed creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer, comes STAR CITIZEN. 100% crowd funded, Star Citizen aims to create a living, breathing science fiction universe with unparalleled immersion… and you’re invited to follow every step of development.
More than a space combat sim, more than a first person shooter and more than an MMO: Star Citizen is the First Person Universe that will allow for unlimited gameplay.
But wait!! Let’s take a trip down the memory lane of bullshit promises, shall we? Trust me, this one is good as a setup…
“We have chosen Google Compute for our initial cloud implementation as we think its the best combination of power, price and flexibility. We are attempting to build a dynamic server system where local nodes can be spun up to handle the hi-fidelity server “instances” in areas that would help reduce the ping for people that are matched together. Arena Commander is our test bed for this. When you join a multiplayer match you are currently connected to a game server by the matchmaking service. This server eventually will spin up on demand in an appropriate location to the people that the match maker has put together. In the PU as you travel around a Star System (or jump from one to another) every time you come out of “warp” (or jump) you’ll be handed off to one of these server instances that will be spun up on demand taking into account where the people that have been contextually matched together are playing from. As we’re first prototyping / building on Google Compute this will naturally happen where there are Google Compute data centers. With some extra work we can fold other Linux Server Cloud providers into the matchmaking and server management. But it doesn’t make sense to do this before we’ve even finished the base system on Google Compute. Right now we spin up a fixed number of servers in the Google NA data center for the current multiplayer. One of the ongoing engineering tasks is to make this dynamic based on demand and then at different data centers around the world. Once this happens we would be ready to expand it to other cloud server providers if need be. Its pretty likely that Australia will get a local Google Compute data center before this but if not we would spend a little extra time making the backend system game server provider agnostic.” – Chris Roberts, Nov 12, 2014 (Note: In 2016, they had to switch to AWS due to their use of the Lumberyard game engine. I wrote about that)
You know what pattern recognition is, right? Sure you do…
“Q: What type of work is being done to increase the server population capacity? Should we expect to see 24 or 32 player instances in the near future?
A: The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY, I think, ah, if you’ve been watching some of the chatter on the recent, ah, PTU RELEASES, and, ah, you know, what’s gonna be in 2.2… eh, it is, ah, gonna be 24 players, so we’ve been working, ah, ah, HARD on sort of optimizing areas so we can sort of scale more, I think I’ve mentioned before that the, you know, the biggest issue that we have is uhm, uh, just the overhead that the ships have because they’re very complicated, they have multiple… items that have all this functionality, they need to talk to each other over the network… they’re attached to SHIPS, a ship isn’t just one entity you know, in the case of a HORNET it can be fifty or sixty, in the case of a BIGGER ship it’s a lot more than… fifty or sixty, so they’re very heavy, ah, sort of PROCESSING WISE and the SERVER in terms of just SIMULATION and also in… in network, um, sort of TRAFFIC…
So, in general, that’s, em, you know, more the limiting… FACTOR which… we’ve been WORKING ON, so we’re… we’re REFACTORING a lot of things to… make it much more, ah, SMART about when it has to UPDATE, ah, and all the other things and that sort of ties into the work that we’ve done in the past on the ZONE SYSTEM, we’re doing sort of a, uh, whatever you wanna call it, a NETWORK LOD and an UPDATE LOD that sort of scopes depending on, you know, whether you can SEE THINGS, how FAR AWAY they are, whether they are ACTIVE, whether it’s another PLAYER, whether it’s relevant to YOU and… so hopefully all that stuff em, you know, helps… increase the load that we can do and we’re doing things like we’re… we’re… you know, pushing more and more into MULTIPLE CORES, more… MULTI-THREADING to, you know, be able to do more… you know… PHYSICS PROCESSING at the same time as we’re doing more sort of entity updating and simulation.
So ehm you know, part of the benef… part of the result of that is moving to more players in, eh, CRUSADER, we’ll continue and we’re expecting to continue to sort of push that over time, eh, to get more and more and uh, you know we’re actually working on… some ah, BACK END SERVER MESH TECH uhm, that will allow us to ah, sort of MESH A LOT MORE… players all in essentially what will be kind of sort of the same, ah, INSTANCE, uhm so but that’s sort of ah, you know a LITTLE further along, but, eh, it’s ahh… yeah, I think EXCITING so I think we’ll be able to DELIVER probably more players than we were thinking originally… in concurrent areas… ah… so… when I think, actually there’s a question about that so… I maybe talk a bit more about it then…” – Chris Roberts, 10 For The Chairman, Feb 29, 2016 (Transcript courtesy of SomethingJones, Goon transcriber)
Remember this interview statement from Erin Roberts?
“So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.” – Erin Roberts, Feb 17, 2017
Guess what that “big release” was back then? Yup, you guessed it. That would be what is now the heavily scaled back 3.0 which was totally coming out back in Dec 2016.
I’ve been calling (e.g. here, here) bullshit on this MMO nonsense for over two years now. And you know what? $160M and five years later, NONE of that shit is even implemented. And they can’t even get more than 8 clients playing reasonably well in a single server instance. And they somehow managed to make it worse in the current 3.0.
And just as Chris Roberts claimed above that 128 clients being the theoretical client limit back in 2003 for Freelancer, currently, anything above 12 clients in Star Citizen, is an impossible limit with nothing theoretical about it. Nothing even remotely theoretical about it. Every single client count they cite, when actually reproduced (some have done it, there are videos) by players, has ended up being an absolutely buggy slide-show.
Remember CIG dev, Clive Johnson, from this post he made back in May?
“In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader. Matchmaking tries to put you in the same instance as your friends, but beyond that it is luck of the draw which instance you will end up in. However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance.
There quite a few engineering hurdles we need to overcome before this can happen. Server performance needs to improve a lot, so there are several tasks to address this that are either currently underway or in the schedule. This will only get us so far though, and won’t be enough to fill a solar system with players and NPCs. To go further we are going to have to connect multiple servers together in something we’re calling a “server mesh.” Each server will take on the processing load for a region of space, and these regions will adjust their boundaries to best balance that load with their neighbors. You will be able to see (and fire) across the boundary from one server to another, and, as you fly through space, will move seamlessly from one server to another. We will also be able to dynamically add and remove servers to suit the current level of demand. This technology will allow us to scale almost without limit while keeping everyone in the same instance.
The problem we still need to figure out is how to handle everyone heading to the same place at the same time. I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution to that one, so it may require some game mechanic to prevent too many players congregating in the same place.
TL;DR – yes, once all the pieces are in place and the kinks have been worked out, you’ll be able to stalk your prey, and should always be in the same instance.” – Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, May 23, 2017
Back when the above post showed up, I had written this extensive article counting all the ways that, Red flags aside, it was all a load of horse shit. Well, this latest post that he made should come as little or no surprise. It’s hilarious even.
“You’re right that the networking side of things doesn’t get the spotlight very often – that’s just the nature of the work really. Other teams will often have something that they can visually demonstrate to the community to show their progress, but that’s rarely the case for us. A lot of what we do is under the hood, and for us progress is that the game looks exactly the same but some graph is a bit higher, or a bit lower. It’s important stuff, but not visually compelling. That’s ok, instead we get to say cool things like, “we work in the shadows – like ninjas.” I think sometimes this lack of visibility can be misinterpreted as secrecy or a lack of progress, but neither of those is the case, and pretty much everything we do is shown in the production schedule. The only things that aren’t in there are those that can’t easily be scheduled like bug fixing. Also sometimes we need to change priorities and the schedule can lag behind a bit.
To give you an update on the specific technologies you asked about:
- Server meshing – not started yet. Our plan was always to make the single-server experience better and more optimized first. Server meshing is going to build on the technologies we’re creating for single servers, so these all need to be in place before we can start. Also it is going to be challenging and complex work that will need the focus of the whole network programming team, so once we start work on it we don’t want to be fighting a war on two fronts.
- Network bind/unbind (aka bind culling) – the network side of this is pretty much done. This was a big refactor of how the network code is structured to allow the server to individually control which entities each client knows about and will receive updates for. Previously the code just wasn’t set up like this, but now that refactor is complete. Actually seeing the benefits of this in a pre-alpha release is still a while off though. To avoid clients experiencing loading stalls each time a new planet or ship comes in to view, we’ll need object container streaming, and that’s still being worked on. On top of that, unbinding or streaming out entities on clients is likely to cause a lot of bugs, and it’s going to take time to find and fix them. These bugs will arise anywhere code assumes that an entity will be present on a client. For example consider a mission objective that requires you to talk to Miles Eckhart. To help you find Miles your client needs to render a marker on your HUD to show his current location, but Miles is on a different planet (literally not figuratively) that is currently streamed out on your PC, so it won’t know where to draw the marker. In this situation the client might crash, but even if it didn’t you’d be unable to progress any further with the mission. To end on a more positive note though, things have now progressed to the point where we can start looking for and fixing these bugs.” – Clive Johnson, CIG Dev, Oct 14, 2017
I’m gonna need help from some friends to express my feelings about this one….
Let me summarize this for you. Five years later, they not only have a badly broken mess of a pre-Alpha, with sub-par standard multiplayer, but they haven’t even started with core tech that could possibly form the basis for anything remotely resembling a multiplayer layer for an MMO game. And my guess is that they’re never – ever – going to get there. So there is no way in hell they’re going to ever get an MMO out of this shit-show. Heck, if they get to the part where they ever get 16 players in a server instance playing reasonably well, and as expected, I will personally send Chris Roberts an autographed card.
FYI: Right now, one of the hottest games, PUBG, has server instances with up to 100 players in a single session. And it just works. Not to mention the number of multiplayer games which don’t even consider 32 players a high limit anymore. But Star Citizen, with all this money and supposed talent, can’t get a session based client-server game running with even a 16 player low limit without the server heading South of the border.
Heck, even without having the luxury of time and other people’s money, when we were building Line Of Defense, right from the onset the multiplayer technology was designed to work in either a standard session based client-server model, or as an MMO with client limitations. That took us the better part of over four years to get it right.
This isn’t something you just tack on several years down the road. Don’t take my word for it, read some of these legacy articles (1, 2) if you think that a “multiplayer game” is the same as a “massively multiplayer game”. Heck, go ask the guys working on Dual Universe or Battlespace Infinity if they left the massive multiplayer part for last.
EVOCATI 3.0 PLODS ONWARD
You probably know by now that 3.0 is in Evocati, and the leaks about how horrid it is, keep coming. And even with CIG actively using DMCA to take down videos (though back in 2014 Chris Roberts said they would do no such thing) showing how shit it is, leaks keep coming out. The build isn’t getting any better. And we’re now up to 3.0.0e. With CC2017 around the corner.
Alpha Patch 3.0.0e has been released to the PTU, and is now available for Evocati to test! It is strongly recommended that players delete their USER folder for the Public client after patching, particularly if you start encountering any odd character graphical issues or crash on loading. The USER folder can be found (in default installations) at C:\Program Files\Roberts Space Industries\StarCitizen\LIVE.
Important: Evocati Focus: New patcher, station traversing, ship spawning, StarMap app, quantum travel, landing, air traffic control (atc) system, quantum fuel usage/balance, hydrogen fuel usage/balance, stage 2 afterburner
All the ships are flyable, but the following are the ships that have had the most attention and focus specifically for this wave of Evocati release: Gladius, Hornet Series, Sabre, Vanguard, Constellation Series, Cutlass Black, Caterpillar, Nox, Dragonfly, Prospector, Freelancer, Aurora series
We would like you to focus on the above for this initial wave of testing and bug reports.
NOTE: Other content and features are in and listed in the notes, but currently not the focus of this testing phase as they undergo bug fixes and polish. Additionally, there’s content that is not listed in the notes that are intended for live release and will be added iteratively during the testing cycle.
The issues section is a calamity of hilarity. Most of the items have been in there since the first 3.0 was released on Oct 5th. Remember back when I said if they release 3.0 inside of 4-6 months, the bugs are just going to pile on top of the pre-existing 3000+ currently in 2.6.3 (released back in April 2017)? This was the patch that was totally coming out in Dec 2016.
Major Known Issues:
- Code 20007/30007 errors
- All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there.
- The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
- Stage 2 afterburner does not work in “atmosphere”
- Content missing key elements:
- User Interface
- Insurance and Persistence
- Internal Ship Docking
- Comm System
- Bugs, issues, and work arounds (W/A):
- All 3D objects displayed in the MobiGlas are missing including on the StarMap. Note: You can still interact with them as if they were there
- Sabre has nothing on MFD screens
- The rear door/ramp on the Cutlass Black has no collision, meaning you cannot get on the ship
- Ballistics leave “replace me” textures in Star Marine
- Some purchasable items at Dumper’s Depot can not be interacted with
- MobiGlas may occasionally lock your character – W/A: Spamming F1 may recover
- When interacting with kiosk the mouse can become detached from the UI – W/A: Bring up other mouse cursor with RALT
- You can make claims on ships that are not lost, destroyed, or damaged
- Can not remove undersuit on PMA
- Vehicle customizer app on wrong MobiGlas button and not yet functioning
- ESP is may not be functioning in all instances
- Constellation spawns without cargo
- You are able to sell cargo from a destroyed ship
- Repaired wings don’t always restore weapons
- MFD screens do not fit on the panels of the Dragonfly
- Starfarers and Constellations may float of the pad when spawned or accessed
- Ground vehicles can not be spawned at ASOP terminals
Now word is that, as CitizenCon 2017 is next Friday, they’ve started working on yet another more stable branch which is rumored to be played at the show. I doubt they will be dumb enough to do that again, following the GamesCon 2017 shit-show. If they have 2.6.3 loaded on the machines they are currently setup for the show, I will be laughing so hard. In fact, it would be truly hilarious for people to have paid to attend CC2017, then get to play 3.0; while other backers who also funded the game, can’t get their hands on it if they’re not in Evocati. But hey, that’s CIG, and they know their core backers are a bunch of fools going through a various aspects of Stockholm’s Syndrome and Sunk Cost Fallacy.
NO, SERIOUSLY, REFUNDS ARE OVER
You were warned. This is completely real. Not going to say anything more about that.
Some people are already headed for small claims court apparently.
If you don’t believe that they’re refusing refunds now because they are low on funds, but because CS staff who have nothing to do with development, are totally working on 3.0 so they don’t have time to look into it, you’re a fool who deserves to be scammed. If the fact that, in those emails they are now citing the TOS, while telling you that you’re not entitled to a refund, don’t serve as a huge Red flag and warning sign, please, by all means, keep giving them money so the Ponzi scheme can keep going that much longer. The end result will be even more hilarious; and we just get to laugh at those guys.October 13, 2017 at 10:17 am #5914
CHRIS ROBERTS HAS COMPLETELY LOST IT
These broadcasts are, among other things, about letting backers know the state of the project. They’ve been part of a long running ruse that backers who pay extra for a monthly subscription (yes, you get to pay a monthly sub fee that supposedly pays for these shows) are somehow paying to make them. That aside from the fact that backers have given this company $160M, but are still being asked to pay for what is basically ego stroking where backers only get to see and hear what it is Chris and Erin want them to see and hear. Yea, all under the guise of “open development”, which is a rather hilarious misnomer.
Ignore the fact that, given the backer count, and the view counts for these videos, over 97.4% of the backers don’t even watch them. At all.
There are so many examples of this bullshit, that I’ve basically lost count. However, the biggest one has to be from Dec 2016 when backers found out (through me of course, and before the newsletter even went out), that for the better part of that year, they were in the process of switching from one CryEngine derivative to another. The first time backers found out about this after it appeared in my Twitter feed, was when the 2.6 patch with the first implementation, was released. In all the shows throughout 2016; all the newsletters, all the publications, not once was this mentioned to backers. The reason, as we later came to find out, is because they didn’t want to cause panic, let alone admit that “Derek Smart was right” back in 2015 when I wrote that they couldn’t build the over-scoped game with the engine they chose. Of course nobody thought they would jump out of the frying pan, into a boiling pot. I wrote about that extensively back in Dec 2016.
Throughout his history, he has always blamed others for his disastrous failures, decisions etc. To the extent that, if you look back, EVERY SINGLE company and project he has ever spearheaded since Wing Commander the game – which was controlled by a publisher btw – has ended in COMPLETE DISASTER. Every. Single. One. And that’s not hyperbole, it’s FACT. And Star Citizen is no different.
Which brings me to this latest broadcast of Oct 12.
Yeah, because that totally looks like an inspired dev team
With the much awaited 3.0 patch out to Evocati testing, and which has been ruled to be an unmitigated disaster which I recently wrote about in a new blog, this latest broadcast, if nothing else, shows that not only is the project on it’s final legs, but that Chris has completely lost it. I don’t even know where to begin. Thankfully, our archivist Goon once again risks brain damage by transcribing the key parts of this broadcast. Note that the pressure, stress and strife seen in that broadcast, are a direct toll from the project being a complete disaster – and everyone in that broadcast knows this. And most are talking to friends and family about it.
The first gem comes @ 4:50
Wilmslow Studio – Dev
“Once we’ve figured out the last 10001 disconnect issue, we’ve got a build here from the UK, just deployed from… that was kicked off earlier this afternoon that should… the fixes for the disconnect seem like they’ve ‘taken’, we could get another code build done or a full build if we absolutely needed to, go through the process of putting that up to the Evocati so that we can get them… those fixes rolled out to them today, ah.. which is good… a couple of…”
“Eh, ahhh I wanted… to mention it at project leadership meeting but it’s important that the… QUALITATIVE feedback, uh… is filtered through, ah… TARD… and we’ll make priority calls on it ‘cos… there’s some STUFF like you know, the 10001 error codes, yes with them we’re definitely… we’re definitely fixing, but then you know there’s some SUBJECTIVE feedback of like, “I don’t like THIS or I do like THIS” or whatever, now some of those issues they’re calling out we already know about we’re already working at addressing…
I always get a bit WORRIED because first of all we’re getting ah… kind of SUBJECTIVE feedback that’s sort of ANECDOTAL and so you know someone can have a strong OPINION but you know like, that could be THEIR opinion and maybe different to someone ELSE’S opinion as to whether it’s a bug or not… so it has to go through the FILTER of us on the very HIGH LEVEL of the kind of DESIGN SIDE to make sure that you know, it’s something that we wanna AGREE because a lot of the times people can’t see the BIG PICTURE when they’re making, ah… you know… FEEDBACK ‘cos they don’t know where the, you know, they’re like, “WELL THIS IS MISSING! I NEED THIS!” and we’re like ‘yeah, no shit we know it’s missing’, it’s kind of like on our TASK LIST, we’re working on it right now, and we understand that… you know… it hurts your ability to dogfight if you can’t see the status of your TARGET… or the status of your SHIP
Um, so… so I just wanna make sure we do that ‘cos we’re all worried that we automate it, some of these like subjective feedback get re-upped to JIRA, they get put in somebody’s BUCKET, maybe they get ASSIGNED and you know… we’ll spend some time working on stuff that needs to have… kind of… ahh… DIRECTION and… and… and… and… ORDER and PRIORITY called out.
SOMETIMES what people want to get FIXED, the solution is SOMEWHERE ELSE to fix the issue they’re complaining about… so on the subjective stuff I kinda wanna make sure that, um… we’re going through a FILTER on that.“
By the time we get @ 6:07, it was already off the rails.
“….a lot of times people can’t see the big picture when they’re making feedback…they’re like “well this is missing I need this!” and we’re like “yea no shit we know its missing! Its kind of like on our task list we’re working on it right now“
By the time @ 7:20 rolls around….
Wilmslow – Director’s Meeting, Erin Roberts
“So it’ll be handy also if… if… when we get to the stage when we are, you know, looking at whether we’re gonna go… LAUNCH… ah, you know, do this every day as well… it would be nice to know what, you know, stuff was FIXED today, or, you know, GOING IN today as well, that kind of information would be great… that would be good… so… we know what we’re actually putting into the build and so forth, I know the information’s passed to… WILL and those guys because they need it to tell people but I have no idea.”
Ricky Jutley (Senior Producer)
“Yep, I think it’s TUESDAYS basically, I think moving forward TUESDAYS will incorporate the live sync within the director’s sync, and the PU will have to go first, and people obviously listen to that kind of stuff, and um, that will be the way that TUESDAYS has to kind of run”
“I think what Erin… Erin was saying was actually what I was gonna kind of bring up, which was… you know… the way I look at it we’re in Evocati now, we’ve got 800 testers instead of 70 testers… and we should be looking to deliver a build every day if we can to them ‘cos we have the DELTA PATCHER… but… the key is not so much about, ‘oh we’ve got one blocker, there’s a crash here or a deadlock here’, which was sort of the approach we were taking in like getting it to Evocati… the KEY is like, ‘OK! What bits of the thing we’ve still left to do are vying for this coming MONDAY’, what about this coming TUESDAY cos… I don’t wanna have like only one blocker fixed, right? Cos we’ve got people finishing CONTENT, you know, doing LIGHTING, you know…
OK? And we… you know… these… these three areas have now being LIT, have they gone in? This SHIP has now been brought over to item two point zero has it gone in? That’s kind of it, cos what we actually want to do is have a steady stream of… ah… you know… things are getting like… FINISHED OFF or FIXED UP… putting in… and we want an… “Ok, here’s an Evocati, here’s the things that have gone in that we think we’ve fixed’, cos you’re basically… you’ve just got to sort of manage that over time so we’ve… we’ve got to get into that MODE as opposed to the… you know… what three bugs have we got to fix before we CAN go to Evocati“
…we were completely off the rails by @ 9:20
Wilmslow – Dev/QA
“So the next steps for us here in… CIG… is, we’re focusing on the SHOPPING ah, feature… SHOPPING and commodities as… as a FEATURE… em, to… PRESENT… to the Evocati and say, this is now… in a STATE were you guys can just… GO NUTS! Go ahead! Buy, sell… so, whatever you want”
Jake Ross (Producer)
“We’re fixing bugs left and right, we’ve got issues were certain CLOTHING items… CLOTHING and items aren’t showing up in the shops right, there’s issues were you can’t interact with an item through a glass case, ‘cos the glass is getting in the way with the interaction system so we’re trying to figure that out, uh… and we’re trying to work out some KINKS with the TRY ON MODE were when you look to inspect a… uh… uh… an ITEM like a ship component or something, the character will look around like he’s got… look… got GLOVES on and he’s looking at his GLOVES so like we’re just ironing out kinks getting everything working really well”
Spencer Johson (Assoc Gameplay Engineer)
“So right now I’m focusing on a suite of different SHOPPING related bugs and features that we’re pushing out to the Evocati soon… ah, today a couple of them are focused on the weapons being attached to the item ports on the shelves, so we got… trying out a weapon in the shop, drops it onto the floor for remote players, uh… weapon models disappear after inspecting them (he’s reading all this off his screen btw), these are the GREAT kind of bugs cos they’re not 100% repro, so they only happen sometimes… which are always the best to find and solve…”
Wilmslow – Dev/QA
“So what we’ve done is, eh.. we’ve taken… our… um… TOP ISSUES that we wanna get fixed, these are a collection of uh… BUGS and TASKS, ah, we’ve gathered those together, put them into the Evocati FIXED VERSION, and our internal JIRA tracking software and um… this is where we saw the burndown graph come from the last time, so when you see this report go out you’ll see the… the NEW LIST of numbers… oh, sorry, the new TOTAL number.“
The general demeanor of most everyone in that conference call, screams of resentment, resignation, frustration, and stress. Aside from the obvious clues that most in there don’t even respect Chris enough to pay any attention to his drivel, the fact remains, this project is FUBAR and Chris has completely lost it.
The arrogance of it all is that, toward the end of the broadcast @ 41:08, he says this:
“….it’s been just over five years since we first announced Star Citizen at GDC in Austin on Oct 10th, which was two days ago. And it’s incredible to think how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time, and only been possible because you’ve supported us along the way“
Yeah, for a project that was said to be coming in Nov 2014, then over-scoped, has been coming out every year since then; and now is almost three years late this coming November.
3.0 EVOCATI TURNMOIL
You see, here’s what backers don’t know. The 3.0 build, having been rushed out to Evocati in order to start drumming up the concept that it was almost ready, is a complete disaster. Let’s ignore the connection problems of the past 48hrs, or the fact that the build is still a performance nightmare, flat out broken, missing a slew of features they claimed was already completed etc – all the things I have previously written about. Let’s focus on the fact that, as of this minute, while largely unplayable, CIG is not only now saying – on the record – that backer input is inconsequential and meaningless, but that they’re not even going to listen to feedback anyway. Which explains the 3000+ bugs currently in 2.6.3, and the dozens that have so far been found and logged since 3.0 went to Evocati on Oct 5th. And all the bugs they decided to shove under the carpet weeks ago, are now rearing their ugly heads in all aspects of the 3.0x build. To the extent that even when Evocati do encounter and report them, they are told not to report anything that’s not part of the “focus testing” for the specific build.
So, last night, following this AtV and aside from the ire over the Gladius cockpit and MFDs, the bullshit helmet HUD that’s coming back etc, there were quite a few very upset Evocati testers. The hardcore ones at that. Basically, all of what has gone on in the past regarding the seventeen months long Evocati program, just unraveled in a single broadcast in which Chris and his cohorts basically confirmed that it’s all a sham and publicity stunt. Imagine this. There are about 800+ Evocati testers now. Last we checked, not even 100 of them have even touched the build. Those who came in during the initial wave, saw the mess, and never game back. I know this because, guess what, leaks aside, everyone is talking.
And the worst part of it is that streamers like AstroPub who are in Evocati and who do know what’s going on, spend most of the time sweeping it under the carpet, helping CIG mislead and lie to backers, while pretending that everything is OK. And that’s got nothing to do with the NDA btw because, right there in the chat, instead of holding CIG’s feet to the fire, they’re basically playing the submissive game, while making asinine passive aggressive comments. Because, you know, nobody wants to get kicked out of the exclusive club for speaking up. Which is how we get leaks like this. Unfortunately for them, with the number of Evocati now ready to fall on their swords as a result of 3.0 not being what it was hyped up to be, ALL of it going to come out at some point – screen grabs and all. And I’m going to publish it. All of it. My attorney is on speed dial. Bring it.
THE REFUND CASCADE
A few months back, sources had told me that CIG was 1) going to stop doing refunds 2) release a new ToS, possibly to go with the 3.0 patch release. However, less than hours after my latest blog went live, and I sent out the tweet below, a slew of posts appeared on the refund Reddit, indicating that CIG was now refusing refunds. There is even a thread now with tips on how to take legal action.
“You can still get a refund. Do it before the window closes cuz they ARE going to stop giving them. $3K refunded” – Tweet
I reached out to my sources and but nobody knows what is going on. My one credible source was the one who told me that he has to check around because they (devs) have no clue wtf management is even doing from one minute to the next. They he came back later and basically said that’s the policy going forward. He did say that the person who notified him, said that she was told that it was always the policy, but that they were issuing refunds on a case by case basis all this time and not something they were required to do.
Right. Where have we heard that before? Oh I remember.
It seems to me that this “delay” to issue refunds, financial ability aside, is probably a ploy to hold off on spending any money, until they get to see the reaction of the 3.0 release or non-release. You see, that’s precisely how a Ponzi scheme collapses. Once new money isn’t enough to pay off old money, or if you need to conserve cash, the whole thing collapses. CIG has basically been using new backer money, to refund old backers who want out. And we already knew that it simply wasn’t sustainable in the long term; especially with the project in turmoil, and over three years late. There is no plausible reason to “delay” refunds to people who were already in the refund process, under the guise of “hey we’re busy with 3.0; fuck off”. Which begs the question: what the hell does CS staff have to do with development – for a project that currently employs over 300 people worldwide?
Thing is this:
- If they release 3.0 before or during CitizenCon (Oct 27th) in this condition, they’re screwed.
- If they release 3.0 it before year end in this condition – like they did with 2.6 which released in mid Dec 2016 – they’re screwed.
- If they don’t release 3.0 before year end, at either CitizenCon, during the anniversary stream, or before year end, they’re screwed.
Now, speaking as a game dev, this wouldn’t be an issue if your development wasn’t tied to on going funding. But because CIG clearly needs the money – via the goodwill of ignorant backers stuck in sunk cost fallacy, and Q4 being their biggest fundraising period, the decision to hold onto 3.0 for another six months while they get it in a better condition, is a disaster. It’s almost as if they don’t really have money in reserves as Chris has claimed, and that they do need the on-going funding in order to survive. If the perception of 3.0 wasn’t tied to financials, they wouldn’t be hiding it behind Evocati, taking steps to out and ban those who are leaking info about it, issuing (there
is nocredible evidence yet that CIG is behind this, despite statements made in 2014 to the contrary) DMCA takedowns of YouTube video leaks etc. Even the delta patcher, which works for the most part, is enough to allow them to release the 3.0 build to all backers as-is, because that whole notion of keeping AWS costs down by not making early builds accessible to all backers, goes out the window. Not that it ever made sense, because why else would they need to hide it behind an NDA if Evocati selection was necessary in order to save on costs?
As I’ve said before, CIG are well within their right to refuse and/or delay refunds as they see fit. Whether or not it’s legal, is left up to the courts and the government officials. You mad enough yet? Well how about this guy who was given a $10K+ refund check he can’t cash?
Get a refund, fool. The game is never – ever – coming out.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED (INDEFINITELY)
Shockingly, in the latest newsletter Chris has declared that the December anniversary stream will showcase Squadron 42. Which means it’s not releasing in 2017. I called this one back in May. Now that it has no release date showing on the website, safe to say that it will either be canceled, or will be part of the early access change that Star Citizen is about to enter. Which means they don’t have to deliver it or Star Citizen. Ever.
“SQUADRON 42 DELAYED TO 2018
As I reported on Twitter earlier today, several sources, as they have done twice before in 2015 and 2016, have once again informed me that SQ42 is now a 2018 game. In fact, the current internal schedule shows it stretching all the way to mid-2018, and possibly beyond. The past two times that I had reported this, some people didn’t believe it. And CIG kept denying it. This Sept 2016 denial was my favorite. Both 2015 and 2016 came and went. Right up to the blatant lies that CIG told during the events (GamesCom and CitizenCon) of Q4/2016. I wrote extensively about that in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016.
Sources also tell me that they’re frantically trying to either get a preview or trailer out before the end of the year. So yeah, probably a repeat of Q4/2016 all over again.
Oh, and they have definitely chopped up the SQ42 game. I reported on this back in 2016 as well, but they have apparently stuck to the goal of releasing the once full game, into bits and pieces in order to “keep things going and raising money”. It makes perfect sense if you ask me. They know that the minute they release any “final” version of any portion of this train-wreck project, that’s it’s all over. So why not maintain the bait and switch Status Quo by splitting a full game into parts, then sell them separately? If you recall, they did that back in 2016 when they split SQ42 from Star Citizen, in order to sell it separately. Except this time, they’re going to split SQ42 even further. Which, now that I think about it, explains why you can buy that game for $15 (instead of $45) if you buy it as a bundle ($45 + $15) with Star Citizen. My God man! We’re doing it all wrong.“
The last time this happened, it was Star Marine. It was delayed for years, continuously hyped to the hilt, then rushed out in the 2.6 update released in Dec 2016 as the only tangible release that whole year. It was immediately forgettable, and died shortly after.
Meanwhile over on /r/games, as of this writing, this post had almost 500 upvotes.
“As I’ve pointed out before, back in January 2015, Roberts delivered a presentation in which he claimed that not only would the first episode of Squadron 42 be released by Fall 2015, but the full commercial release – meaning SQ42 and the persistent universe / MMO – would happen by the end of 2016. He made this claim at 1:32:06 in this video.
At the time of this presentation, the PU wasn’t yet in the alpha stage. He seemed to think that his team could get through all of alpha, get through all of beta, and optimize enough for a decent MMO launch in 2 years, all while concurrently working on a single-player game. By saying this, he demonstrated that he either didn’t know what he was talking about, or he was being dishonest. It was probably a combination of the two.
Now, almost 3 years after that presentation, backers still haven’t seen a mission demo of SQ42, and the MMO is in alpha with, I’m guessing, another 1-2 years of alpha ahead of them. At this rate, I would be impressed if the first episode of SQ42 gets released by 2020, and the MMO gets released by 2023.“September 26, 2017 at 9:43 am #5840
REMEMBERING THE JENNISON LETTER
Two years ago this month, barely two months after I started my Star Citizen investigations and subsequently published the infamous July Blog, an ex-employee at the Austin team, David Jennison, wrote what many believe to be the single most compelling indictment of the project by someone working on it; and why it was doomed to fail due to the incompetence of one person: Chris Roberts – Creator
Star Citizen Austin Art Team
When I wrote The Long Con blog that same month, and later caused quite the furor with this long Tweet, I really didn’t think that two years later we’d still be arguing and discussing the very same things, or that the project would inevitably turn out to be the disaster that it currently is. In fact, I actually felt that at some point, having realized that they simply couldn’t build the game promised, that they would restructure the project, go back to basics (the original 2012 Kickstarter pitch), then release a game which they could later build on. But no, that would have been too easy, too logical, and likely killed the hype gravy train.
It’s even more poignant that, as I wrote in the two year anniversary of that blog, the only things that have really changed for the better, are that a development schedule was released, and refunds are happening. Backers still however have no idea what has happened to their money, nor when either of the games will be finished, let alone if they will in fact ever see the light of day in completed form now that an MVP release is on the table again.
The August 2016 Gameranx article, The Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything, which also cited and spotlit the Jennison letter, gave an in-depth look at how things went completely sideways. In September of that same year, Kotaku UK released a five-part series of Star Citizen articles which shed more light on the unfolding disaster. Two of those articles, Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen and What to Make of Star Citizen, served to pose more questions than they answered, simply because, all furor aside, it was just so unbelievable that a once promising project with excessive funding, and which had – at one time hired some of the best people in the industry – could actually fail.
“Robert’s deficit wouldn’t be much of a problem if he trusted the vision of the art directors, people who are actually artist and have directed other artists. But he doesn’t, insisting that he is the only one who can direct the artists. I suspect this is an issue of ego, a man intent on appearing like a visionary. But regardless, the results so far have been disastrous, rife with perpetual rework, wasted time, and mass frustration. No one can buy into CR’s artistic vision because no one, including CR, seems to know what it is.
So the one thing that no one discusses is the biggest problem. Roberts is someone who on a company- wide level is always feared, but never respected. His direction is met with nervous compliance to his face, and rolled-eyed resentment behind his back. When his orders are articulated later to the rest of the team, and basic questions of logic and practicality are inevitable asked, they are met not with an explanation of why CR’s idea is a good one, but the importance of his happiness. The explanation is always the same- “I know it makes no sense, but that’s what CR wants”. This team is filled with people who have experience publishing other titles. Lots. We all know how it is “supposed” to be done. But everyone is faced with the same repeated dilemma, a choice- make CR happy or do what works for the game? Short term survival vs long term wins. And unfortunately it’s the survival option that wins out, mainly because turning away from a directive of CR is a recipe for unemployment.
I am only speaking from one corner of this project, but I know that the micro managerial frustration experience is an epidemic at CIG. Everyone seems to be unhappy for the exact same reason. I don’t foresee anything changing at CIG if Roberts doesn’t change himself. And this is a shame because the company has all the ingredients to do something truly great, if only they would be allowed to do it.” – David Jennison
THE LEGACY OF FAILURE
The veracity of the on-the-record Jennison claims aren’t about whether or not he was genuinely disillusioned or just a disgruntled employee, because that wasn’t even written for public distribution. It just happened to leak to me, I published it, then removed it when he requested that I do so. The underlying tone, also echoed by others who spoke off-the-record to The Escapist that same year, are similar and even more damning. It’s interesting that having threatened (as they tend to) legal action against The Escapist, that never happened. In the end, as I wrote in my The Money Laundromat blog, both CIG and The Escapist reached a settlement in which both sides agreed to remove their statements, rather than litigate (The Escapist would have won – without a doubt) them through expensive and distracting legal action.
When you look back through history, even going by Chris Roberts’ own statements, it’s easy to see how this pattern of conduct that has now affected this project, continues to be the most damning evidence to date.
“In the wake of the collapse of Digital Anvil, co-founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Chris Roberts has spoken about his decision to leave the company he founded just four years ago. As we suspected, the company’s troubles were down to “wanting to develop not only hugely ambitious games, but too many hugely ambitious games”, leaving the company’s finances stretched after four years without a single game being released – the sole title to emerge with the Digital Anvil name on it was actually mostly developed by a small British company. “
At this very moment in time, two years since that very public (1, 2, 3) letter, neither Star Citizen nor the single-player companion game, Squadron 42 have been completed. Based on actual facts culled from what has been released vs what was promised, neither is even 15% completed at this point in time – six years and almost $160M later. And the insider rumors that “Squadron 42 does not exist as a game” are still going around, even as CIG uses various art assets to give the impression that it is still very much in development – and now due out in 2018. Having pledged that game IP in exchange for a payday loan a few months back, they have no choice I suppose.
Captured Sept 24th, 2017. If you think it looks suspicious; that’s probably because it is.
As of the latest metrics, ignoring the fact that not even the Twitch & YouTube streamers who used to play the game regularly are engaging as they once did, of the approximately 400K backers (that oft quoted citizen number is pure rubbish; ignore it) of this project, the abysmal engagement number is excruciating testament to the failure of the project.
Aug 14, 2017 to Aug 23, 2017
Star Marine: 16.9
Arena Commander: 20.2
Murray Cup Racing: 3.0
Sep 13, 2017 to Sep 24, 2017
Star Marine: 16.5
Arena Commander: 23.4
Murray Cup Racing: 3.0
Even the upcoming 3.0 build which has been stripped of most elements that made it a point release, is still largely unplayable – according to several sources (some of whom recently left the project). In fact, when the first public 3.0 schedule appeared in April 2017, I had written that it was just a re-branded 2.7. This was vehemently denied by everyone invested in stifling dissent. That was despite the fact that one of their own “special” Shillizen streamers, already went on the record and confirmed it. The hilarious part is that, right there, he wrote “STAR CITIZEN ALPHA 3.0 FEATURES – Renamed from Star Citizen Alpha 2.7 & Released Planned Before End of 2016“. And that was barely two days after Chris Roberts went on stage and said that 3.0 was due out in December; a fact that many backers dispute (“No! He didn’t promise!”, they proclaim) to this day.
Chris Roberts – GDC2013 Presentation
Even following the disastrous GC2017 event which I wrote about, how anyone looking at what was promised in 3.0 a year ago, can say that what is said to be released “soon” is comparable, continues to astonish. In a bid to release something called 3.0 by CitizeCon 2017 in Oct, or worst case scenario, before year end (2.6 was released on Dec 23, 2016), they continue to cut things out of it or they stand zero chance of delivering any form of 3.0 by year end.
And let’s not ignore the fact that we’re now hearing rumors of what appears to be an exit strategy of sorts, being in the works.
Back in 2015, when the project appeared to be going off the rails, a group of contractors and employees sounded the alarm. Most opted to ignore it; even as others continued to fund the project because in their mind, money would solve the problem.
They were wrong.September 15, 2017 at 4:18 pm #5807
STAR CITIZEN – THE $45K REFUND DEBACLE
I had written briefly about this in a previous article, but decided to make it a new article because a lot of things have since come to light surrounding this refund.
I had said:
We have known for sometime now that there are mega whales backing the project, but this $45K refund is as incredible as it is incredulous. What’s even more ridiculous is that these $15K Completionist packages don’t even include the full complement of ships. Buying one of those, gives you the ability to buy a Javelin destroyer ship which goes up to $1.5K. And it also doesn’t include any ships announced after 2015.
CIG later issued a press statement saying that the refund they gave to that person was for $330, not the $45K claimed; and that the correspondence was “fabricated” to make it look like it was for $45K. This also acknowledges that this ex-backer did in fact request, and receive a refund.
Because there has a been a lot of community chatter (1, 2) around this particular refund due to its size, despite the fact that we are aware of larger verified refunds in the range of $11K to $30K, going all the way back to the Great Refund Debacle, some Goons and myself, decided to take a closer look following CIG officially denouncing it.
I am going to be perfectly honest here, and though several of us were involved in this investigation, I am only speaking for myself: My intentions were neither designed to be noble, nor to exonerate CIG. I merely wanted to catch them – again – making FALSE official statements to the media about yet another Star Citizen controversy because they have done it before to me. If this refund was in fact authentic, and they lied about it, well then that’s a huge blog for me.
Regardless, because I see how something like this could detract from the bigger picture, rather than keep our findings internal, I decided to disclose them. To be clear, I would much rather not even write this article, and just sit back and watch the shadow of doubt about the veracity of CIG’s statements, play out. Think about it, when you have to choose between a backer who did get a refund (confirmed by CIG, regardless of the disputed amount), and a corporation full of lying, scheming bastards, who are you going to believe? And even if there is a shadow of doubt, which side – as a reasonable gamer – are you going to lean toward?
Something like this, sows those seeds of discourse and puts CIG on the continued defensive because, guess what, if their community relations weren’t as bad as they are, and their credibility (which recently took a hammering over the Coutts loans in the UK, the horrific GamesCom 2017 showcase, a new UK shell company, and the project switching to early access) not festering in the bottom of a cesspool, it would be easier to take their word for it, and move on. But alas, here we are.
CIG has a well documented history of lying – blatantly – to the same backers who have thus far given them $160m (see spreadsheet breakdown) to make two games. And they tend to use the media to propagate those very same lies. No offense to David Swofford, who IMO continues to be a well respected PR guy, stuck in this farce because of money and honor to his old buddies. To me, minus the incessant lying, he’s CIG’s version of Sean Spicer; in for a penny, in for a pound – a guy just doing his job. I guess.
THE DUPLICITY OF DISCOURSE
To get things started, I want to make clear that my views on doxing (1, 2) remain unchanged. I am very familiar with online discourse and the legal issues surrounding online speech, defamation, doxing etc. So a bunch of online miscreants don’t get to change the definition of “doxing” to suit their flawed narrative.
No, linking to publicly available social media accounts isn’t doxing, you moron.
As a prolific blogger, and someone who loves his liability insurance, my involvement in the on-going Star Citizen saga remains as I stated back in 2015 after I wrote the now famous July Blog: I seek vindication. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t care one bit if CIG succeeds or fails. It’s all patently irrelevant to me.
What I do care about is that back in 2015 when I said they couldn’t build the game they pitched, and that they were now actively running a scam to fleece backers for money, with promises they can’t keep, they decided to vilify me. And since this project is primarily funded with money from the public (people like me), what I write about it, as long as I don’t break any laws, is 100% of the “public interest“. And there is no getting around that; nor are misplaced outrage and suppositions as to my motivations, going to trump that.
One more thing. When I said that if it came to that, I would do everything in my power to help put Chris Roberts behind bars, I meant it. There can be no mistake nor interpretation of this intent. That’s how strongly I feel about what has happened with this project, and how they have chosen to handle dissenting voices within their own community, employees, and contractors.
OF GOONS, LOLS, AND TROLLS
Being on the Internet for as long as I have, it’s not very hard to realize that, just like in real life, people do things for all kinds of reasons – none of which have to make any sense. Take my Goon brethren (the real legacy ones, not those guys paying Lowtax 10 bux to read the SomethingAwful forum) for example, most of them are potential candidates for psychiatric evaluation – and most will probably fail that eval. If you have been in any discourse with Goons, you will know one thing, and one thing only, it’s all about the lols and the memes. It doesn’t matter how serious you think a discussion is, if there’s a Goon involved, it’s bound to result in one or both of those things – then probably head straight downhill. And in all chaos, what is usually missed is that most Goons are grown-ups who are in all types of professions ranging from law enforcement, attorneys, and high profile higher education fields, to that one guy who came to fix your cable and took pics of your dancing cat. Goons aren’t the “destructive force seeking to damage Star Citizen because CIG didn’t make it like Eve“. That’s the nonsense posted on Reddit by some of the Star Citizen backers who still can’t figure out – for some reason – that they’re on the ass end of a massive trolling campaign for lols. Those “backers” (aka Shitizens) are their own worst enemy, and the single worst thing to ever happen to Star Citizen.
And most Goons are organized into “castes”. Seriously, you could write a whole paper on this because contrary to popular belief, most Goons don’t engage in all activities and discussions just because they’re Goons. If you know what FYAD is, congrats, you’re already screwed. As hilarious as it sounds – plus I’m laughing as I type this – unlike some of the denizens of the cesspool that is Reddit – most Goons have morals and rules. So no, they do not support, let alone condone doxing. To wit, I was temp banned once for the simple act of linking to a public social media profile.
Which brings me to the point. Despite Chris Roberts having spent the better part of 8 fucking hours back in 2015 writing an infantile missive blaming us for his troubles, Goons didn’t pull this troll move of faking a $45K Star Citizen refund. If they did, I’d know about it. Plus whoever did it, would have claimed responsibility by now because, guess what, just like that time they trolled Buzzfeed, this having made the news (even Ars Technica covered it), they would have claimed responsibility by now.
ABOUT THE ALLEGED $45K REFUND
I issued (on my forum and Discord server) an early morning statement as per our findings that ran late into the night.
“Since last night we having been looking more closely at this. As a result, following our investigation, I have come to the conclusion that the $45K refund is FAKE, and was part of a carefully orchestrated effort by this person to create drama. We don’t know why yet – nor do we care.
So I have banned him (Mogmentum) from the server.
As I did with that Deloria scammer prick, I am currently writing an expose article because this was an irresponsible thing to do.
And while it’s good for laughs, regardless of the fact that Goons had nothing to do with it, we simply cannot encourage this sort of thing.
CIG is screwing up all on their own, and we don’t need crap like this to muddy the waters when in fact genuine backers are trying to get their money out of the project. The fact that CIG is actually issuing refunds, even though they can really legally say no (as per the ToS), is enough good faith to not cause these sort of distractions.”
After the Reddit post about the refund appeared, it propagated across the community like wildfire. Then the media picked it up. It wasn’t long before CIG issued their statement calling it “fabricated”. It wasn’t long before the media who reported it, were updating their stories.
While all this was going on, as they tend to do, some morons in the Star Citizen Reddit community, started their “It’s Derek Smart and Goons” narrative in a bid to not only continue to blame us – instead of CIG – for all of Star Citizen’s problems, but also to denounce it as fake. Thing is, each time they get wind of a refund, either on Star Citizen’s official Spectrum forum, or on Reddit, as they tend to do against all dissenting voices, they immediately start attacking the backer writing about the refund. Which is precisely why most backers just refund quietly, and move on. In fact, the Star Citizen Refunds sub only exists because the person who set it up, wanted a “safe space” where helpful information can be obtained for getting a refund; and to discuss those experiences there. It is heavily moderated, and the nonsensical attacks which go on in the official Star Citizen forums and sub-Reddits, aren’t allowed there. And those who are brave enough to post there, do so in order to convey their experiences, not particularly to gloat (though that would be well within their rights; we’re gamers; we bitch about everything) about it.
And yes, there have been at least two instances of a fake refund reported on that sub-Reddit. And both were an effort spearheaded by a since exposed Star Citizen backer, Hater115, who did it – as he claimed – to “expose the fact that fake refunds are possible”. Once we busted him, we subsequently banned (he came back several times, and it was basically a case of whack-a-mole) him from our Discord server as well as my forum.
The reason these guys are embarked on this campaign – as ludicrous as it sounds – is to discredit the authenticity of the backers posting about their refunds in that sub-Reddit. It’s just another way of suppressing any form of dissent against the project. Of course they are totally oblivious to the fact that the more angst and controversy they cause, the worst it looks for CIG and indeed the Star Citizen project. But these guys are complete morons, so common sense need not apply. If they want to generate their own FUD, who are we to object, let alone try to stop them? We don’t care. If it generates lols, we’re all in – always.
In this $45K refund, this person is new to us. And his only Reddit trace (now deleted account) were some posts in the UK political forums. From the trace history, we have an entire profile of his online identity. We made no attempts to link him to a real life identity because that’s up to the media and CIG if they want to do that.
So, basically he registered on my forum on Aug 18th, as user Kastenbrust, and made 22 posts between Aug 18th, and Sept 14th.
He joined my Discord server on the same Aug 18th day, using the same Kastenbrust username. His first post there, was announcing his first post on my forum.
Shortly after the refund news went wide, and some media reached out in an attempt to interview him and get his story, his Reddit account disappeared. We actually only found out about this late in the evening of Sept 14th. Right away, we figured that something was up. Though some of us were still skeptical that he was probably telling the truth, and that he deleted his Reddit account due to harassment – which tends to happen a lot on social media – others weren’t so sure.
In fact, the general consensus was that since there were two refunds claimed, $45K for the org, and $330 (which CIG confirmed) for him personally, perhaps CIG was obfuscating the issue between both refunds, choosing to only acknowledge the personal refund. In fact, the best analogy to explain this, came from, who else but a Goon?
“They didn’t accuse him of lying. They said the individual got a refund for $330 and not $45k. They did not say the corporate card account was not refunded $45k.
Imagine if you were a corporate card holder and bought your company a whole bunch of defective binders from an office supply company. You return them for a refund of $1000.
While you are at the store refunding them, you also get a refund for a stapler that doesn’t work that you purchased personally, on your personal card for $12.
Then you tweet – hey I just got a refund for $1000 on my corporate card and the manager sees the tweet and checks his records. He then tweets out that the individual that tweeted only got a refund for $12, not $1000 alleged previously.
Doesn’t make the original tweet less true.
Secondly, only original transaction records would be definitive proof and only one person has those. Other people can vouch, but who wants the death threats (from anonymous internetters) and threatened legal action (from CIG for tortious interference)that would result from doing so.
Not many people.”
The alarm bells started going off when he later appeared last night on my Discord server as user Mogmentum.
As soon as he showed up, we decided to authenticate who he was so that we didn’t run into an issue of an impostor. Through back channel communications, in which he provided some info only known to the original backer and one of us who he was in contact with after his made his Reddit thread, we determined that this was in fact him.
That’s when the fun really started, and the holes in his story started to appear. Like sharks to fresh blood, we were on it.
Shortly thereafter, using deep web techniques and other supernatural geek methodologies, we were able to link him to various public social media accounts using the same information which he had provided in his original public postings about the refund. Starting with his Twitter account (old, new). In case you recognize that image, it’s of this guy. We know it’s not him, and it won’t be the first time someone is using another person’s image in their social media profile.
It wasn’t long before we traced him back to my forum, and his prior Discord accounts previously mentioned. In fact, he provided so much info that even CIG was able to figure out who he was by looking at the dates in the screen shots he provided; even though he masked his name from them, while leaving the name of the CS staff intact. Also, following the refund, his RSI account was subsequently deleted by CIG, but we had that already.
While on the server, he spent quite a bit of time trying to convince us that both refunds were legit, that his Reddit account was deleted without him knowing about it, implying that there was maybe some collusion between the media, CIG etc. He just kept going. And we let him keep posting, even as we were continuing our investigations. Those in the public channel were encouraging his commentary, while those of us in a secure channel continued our investigation into what went down and how, even as we remain somewhat divided as to whether or not he was telling the truth.
One thing that didn’t quite make sense was, how could the org have refunded $45K, and not have VAT added. To that he said:
“We are a limited company and UK VAT registered so VAT exempt. All that info was supplied to the mods for verification.”
Then came his revenge plotting – all in the general public channel btw. You can go to my Discord server right now, then in the search bar, enter this string: from: Mogmentum#9178 to see 31 posts he made. Through all this, he was offering to provide access to the PayPal account, get it notarized etc. At that point, none of us cared enough to take him up on his offer as we had determined that it was just talk which would lead to other continued deflection and bullshit.
Following the conclusion of our Space Court investigation, this morning he was subsequently banned from the Discord server and the forum.
We still don’t know what the motivation for this hoax was. As others have noted, it makes no sense. This person, a backer to the tune of $330, obviously supported the project in order to have sunk that much cash into it. Plus, he apparently got his refund without any hassles from CIG. And none of the usual Reddit dimwits have claimed responsibility for it. Though the Reddit account was only active for about a month, there is no evidence that any of those usual suspects are responsible. Plus they would have claimed responsibility by now because 1) they can’t help themselves 2) it would further their goals of discrediting the refunds sub-Reddit.
The other curious issue here, as I pointed out in my posts, is that through all this, nobody from the “committee” in the org, came forward to say anything. It seems to me that if there is an org with over $45K in a project, and one point man was being harassed, derided, made the news etc, that someone – even an alt, anon, or whatever – would have stepped forward to say something.
Also, though rumors and some evidence of CIG using online reputation management companies – or paid shills, have been going around for awhile, there is no evidence to suggest that CIG had anything to do with this either. So, at this time, unless and until further evidence to the contrary is presented, my opinion is that it was an elaborate hoax that someone went to a lot of trouble to pull off.
What is CIG going to do? There’s not much that they can do. First, they would have to find the person behind the social media accounts. Then they would have to prove what he did, then show what harm was caused etc. If this fool actually did forge $330 refund data to make it look like $45K, he would have to explain why he did it, and unless CIG can prove harm, it’s a waste of time and resources for them to pursue it.
As Polygon pointed out in their follow-up article, it’s getting dirty.
“Instead of providing a deadline for the next early access update, the team at CIG spent its time at Gamescom pitching another new feature, a facial scanning technology that our reporter called horrifying. At this point, nearly five years into production, people are asking for their money back, and they’re getting it.
So how much money is actually flowing out of the project for refunds? We asked CIG to tell us, and they declined to comment.”
The one thing to take away from this, lols aside, is that the subscriber base and page views for the Star Citizen refunds sub-Reddit spiked (as it has since GamesCom 2017 showcase) substantially; and backers continue to post about their refunds. One would think that the combination of media coverage over this fiasco, as well as the revelation that refunds are still possible, may also be responsible for the increased spike.
And I say to those who are saying that refunds are “hurting the project”: listen, we don’t care. CIG made lofty promises they can’t ever hope to keep, the project is three years behind schedule, and after six years, $160m in backer funding, and over 500 people (at some point or another), they still don’t have 15% of ANY of the games promised.
So yes, while they are well within their rights to refuse refunds, as per the ToS backers agreed to, they only have themselves to blame if backers are fed-up of waiting, and of the lies. Chris Roberts went on the record – several times – and said that they have financial reserves, that they do in fact allow refunds etc. So this should be acceptable as it is in all companies where you receive money in exchange for goods. If you fail to deliver, you have to refund the money as applicable by law. It really is that simple. And if the State or Fed officials were to get involved at some point, as they have done in the past to other crowd-funding fiascos, they can and will freeze the CIG assets, in an attempt to return those funds back to backers.
As a wise man one said, happy backers don’t ask for refunds – no matter what. So there’s that.
Thus concludes yet another Star Citizen shit-storm that one of their own backers is solely responsible for.September 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm #5785
STAR CITIZEN – EARLY ACCESS
This one is really, truly, hilarious to me. If you read my article about the disaster that was the GamesCom 2017 presentation, as well as my follow-up article about the new shell corporation rumored to be part of an exit strategy, then you already know where this is headed.
Basically, during the show, Chris Roberts gave an absolutely amazing and eye-opening interview to Eurogamer that has to be read to be believed. If you’re familiar with some of his more notable interviews (yes, I have a list with choice excerpts), particularly the ones following the collapse of his last studio which led to his exit from the industry, then you should immediately see the pattern.
As the author noted, that interview was supposed to run alongside the launch of the much awaited 3.0 build which, even after six years and having raised almost $160M from gamers, still won’t even amount to 15% of what was promised.
At Gamescom we’re getting a good look at Star Citizen version 3.0. Are you in a state now that you’d term beta? What’s next?
“The term beta in terms of Star Citizen – with 3.0 the game is moving into a phase akin to Early Access. It’ll build and grow from there, and then you could say ‘well, it’s not really Early Access anymore’. The price will probably go up a little bit and it will have much more of the features and content going on.”
Where do you draw a line in the sand between alpha, beta, Early Access? Are they just labels?
“I feel like they’re just labels – people still think of the old way [of making games], like my past games. We’d talk about a game for years, we’d show it, but no one would have their hands on it ’til it was out. There was an obsession with ‘when will it get released’. Even with those [traditional boxed] games now, they get patched, they add things, make things better over time. The way I look at it is, if you’ve supported Star Citizen you can download and play 2.63 which is a mini, early-stage version of this universe and play around.“
He’s completely out of touch; and that explains precisely why this project is a major train-wreck that’s completely off the rails. I couldn’t even be bothered to break this one down; but someone else did a great post with that.
Earlier this week, I got word that a new ToS change was in the works. The relevance of this wouldn’t be immediately obvious unless you consider what had come before, and what is most likely to happen in the coming weeks. You see, back in May 2016, I had written that having missed the game’s delivery in Nov 2014, as well as the 18 month “cure” period in the ToS, that they were very likely to release a new ToS to address that slip. In June 2016, ahead of the much awaited 2.4.0 build, they did just that. I documented this change in an article which also highlighted what the new language meant to old and new backers.
The last major 2.0 patch was released in Dec 2015. The most current patch was released in April 2017. Backers have been waiting for the 3.0 patch, which is the next major milestone release. In fact, that 3.0 patch is what backers thought was coming in Dec 2016 when Chris promised it the August prior. Instead, they got 2.6, with the immediately forgettable Star Marine fps module.
In game development, Early Access is only a descriptor used to indicate that a game is available to those who want to pay to get in early. Steam spearheaded this movement and they have specific rules for it. It boils down to one simple thing. Backing an early access game means that you are prepared to lose the money as there is a chance that the product will never be completed.
Is this the same as pre-purchasing a game?
No. Early Access is a full purchase of a playable game. By purchasing, you gain immediate access to download and play the game in its current form and as it evolves. You keep access to the game, even if the game later moves from Early Access into fully released.
When will these games release?
Its up to the developer to determine when they are ready to ‘release’. Some developers have a concrete deadline in mind, while others will get a better sense as the development of the game progresses. You should be aware that some teams will be unable to ‘finish’ their game. So you should only buy an Early Access game if you are excited about playing it in its current state.
Even crowd-funded games (e.g. Infinity Battlescape, Helion, Everspace) which make on-going builds accessible to backers, are technically early access without actually calling it that. And during the early access phase, the standard software development milestones (pre-alpha, alpha, beta, release candidate, release) all still apply.
In the case of Star Citizen, it can be said that it went into early access back in Aug 2013 when the first hangar module was released to backers. Below is a list of the major milestones. Back in April 2015, they switched to a new numbering scheme which is as nonsensical as the previous. And of course the patch notes page is incomplete and doesn’t include all the releases.
STAR CITIZEN MAJOR MILESTONE BUILDS
3.0 (w/ planet/moon access etc), ??/??/??
2.6.0 (w/ Star Marine fps module), 12/23/2016
2.4.0 (/w/ ArcCorp shopping), 06/08/2016
2.0 (w/ Persistent Universe, Multi-Crew Ships), 12/11/2015
1.2 (w/ ArcCorp social module), 08/28/2015
0.8 (w/ Arena Commander dogfighting module), 06/04/2014
0.x (w/ Hangar module), 08/29/2013
So why is Chris now going on the record and saying that the upcoming 3.0 build is “akin to early access”? Your guess is as good as mine.
With an on-going refund cascade in full swing following the GamesCom 2017 event, and seeing that 3.0 is a major update, it makes sense that they would introduce a new ToS designed to not only continue the removal of promises made to backers, but also to continue reducing CIG liability. Specifically, it could also include more stringent language designed to completely remove refunds.
Curbing refunds is key to the future strategy and restructuring of the project. If the game moves to early access, and a new ToS states that you can’t get a refund after a period of time, that’s it. Since US courts have ruled that agreeing to a ToS binds you to it, if such a ToS change states that you won’t get a refund after a period of time, and you agree to that ToS, then later try to get a refund, they have every right to refuse it. Taking them to arbitration (as per the ToS) won’t get around that because you agreed to the ToS. Of course if you have the time and resources to take legal action, and you can prove things like fraudulent inducement, or anything that would give rise to false statements being made, then you may get your day in court.
What would this mean for pre-existing backers? Well, that’s a slippery slope. Backers prior to the June 2016 ToS change are 100% entitled to a refund as per the previous ToS. Those who backed the project thereafter, and subsequently agreed to that new June ToS, are on a slippery slope because it has specific language that gives them the right to refuse refunds. Following the California State authorities being involved in last year’s refund debacle which I wrote about in this article, they have been giving refunds. Recent reports indicate that refunds are no longer happening as fast as they used to be, with some people waiting up to three weeks to even hear back from CS, let alone get their refunds processed. And even then, they try to convince backers to not get a refund, thus increasing the time it takes to get to the “Fuck you! Give me my money” part.
I should also mention that the EU nations have their own rules about refunds. Key to that is there is a 14 day refund period for “delivered” period. So it’s unclear to me how CIG is going to handle this particular issue, especially given their huge backer base in Germany. For all intent and purposes, the project isn’t finished, so whether they tag it as early access or not, EU backers are still entitled to a refund as there is no finished product delivered.
The other curious thing to bear in mind is that by tagging the game as early access, it completely throws out that whole “It’s a pledge, not a pre-purchase” argument. Of course there was never an argument to be made, and only the delusional buffoons chose that particular hill to die on. Any money given to CIG is 100% a pre-purchase, and even the wording of their own ToS, clearly makes the case for this. So it simply doesn’t matter what they or their devout followers and brethren want to call it because as far as consumer law (which is the only thing that matters) is concerned, it’s a pre-purchase. And for that reason, you’re entitled to a refund if you ask for it, and subject to the ToS.
Anyway, until they release the 3.0 build, and we see a new ToS, all we can do is wait and speculate on what the future holds. Regardless, when all is said and done, the games Star Citizen and Squadron42, are never – ever – getting released as promised; so none of this even matters. What matters is whether or not backers who have been duped (1, 2) into funding the lifestyles of a group of people actively running a scam, will ever be able to get their money back pre- or post- collapse.
At the end of the day, moving to early access means that they can keep it in dev for as long as they want – until they collapse – without having to deal with the external pressures of a release date. It’s a brilliant plan if you ask me. 🙂
A long time ago, I had written that when all is said and done, all that needs to be looked into is where the money went. There is no doubt that they’re low on funds and need to keep selling JPEGs in order to keep this going. However, using new money to refund old money is a classic Ponzi scheme that will eventually collapse. Refunds are a huge financial issue because it doesn’t matter how much money they have raised, as it’s not sitting in a bank account somewhere. It’s been spent on the five worldwide studios, along with the inflated paychecks and bonuses to Chris’s family and friends program; even as they continue to leverage the project’s assets to take out loans to fund operations.
Eventually they will have to curb refunds. The only way to do that effectively is to enforce the ToS conditions.August 23, 2017 at 10:53 am #5641
GAMESCOM 2017 – COVERAGE OF THE STAR CITIZEN TRAIN WRECK
So it’s here (Star Citizen GC2017 schedule) and backers waiting to see the much touted 3.0 build are already in shock over what’s on display. I will update this article until the end of the show when Chris Roberts goes live on Friday at 3PM EST. In the meantime, you can follow my coverage (Day 1, 2, 3) in the forums.
After one year (3.0 was originally coming on or before Dec 19th, 2016), they came to one of two very important (for the project) shows of the year with a basic CryEngine level consisting of a barren moon, which up to 12 clients can spawn into, and have two space craft, and two ground vehicles to use. That’s it.
Not only do they claim that most of the 3.0 features are “disabled”, but that they also have to reset the server every 10-15 mins in order allow other people to be able to play the game. Remember, this is supposed to be an MMO with “persistence”. So uhm, yeah – OK.
Basically, none of what both GameStar.de (I wrote about that here) and PC Gamer (I wrote about that here) were touting back in July, and which they probably had access to months before, were shown. Which leads me to believe that they probably pulled the same stunt by having a carefully created build for the media. Just like they have done in the past, and presented to backers.
The barebones 3.0 “demo” currently being played, has no game loop, and they are not even playing the current 2.6.3 build.
If you haven’t read my day three coverage yet, the highlight of it was the interview that Chris Roberts did with German Shillizen rag, GameStar.de (they hate me over there btw, because of Star Citizen). The most revealing part was the revelation that Squadron 42, which has been absent since the Godawful Morrow Tour in 2015, and which missed both GamesCom and CitizenCon in 2016, would not be shown at GamesCon 2017. That all but confirms what some of us already suspected and which I wrote about back in May, that it wasn’t a 2017 release. We’ll see if they cobble something of a reveal for CitizenCon 2017 in Oct.
And that’s not all. When asked if there was someone who is “stopping” him from trying to implement all his ideas, his response was, well, see for yourself.
Goon ambassador, SomethingJones has put together one of his notable transcripts of the interview. It’s an eye-opening read. He even goes as far as to compare Star Citizen which, after six years and $156M raised is still in pre-Alpha, and not even 15% completed, to Eve Online which was released as a complete game, then improved upon and expanded over the years. To me, this basically means that he knows that he stands no chance of completing the game, let alone two of them.
How much longer will we have to wait [for Squadron 42] ?
Well ya have to wait a little bit longer ah… I mean it’s going, it’s going really well aah, we’re not showing it here at Gamescon, aah… because… I… for me I want to have it at a… certain level of uh… POLISH and um, so… we’re working at get… getting it there but, ah, there’s a lot of the STUFF that we actually we show in our uh, UPDATES on ATV and a lot of… some of the STUFF in three point zero is specific STUFF that is ah, ENABLING and being used for um, Squadron 42 and in fact some of the STUFF that we, ahm, you know, introduced like the PLANETARY TECH, ehm, we also put into Squadron Um Forty Two, so there are, there is, you know… case… is when you… go down on like a MOON or a PLANET and it’s something like that, so…
… ahm, but no, it’s going… it’s going very well, it’s just… a huge amount of uh… HIGH QUALITY AAH PERFORMANCE AAH… and motion capture aah… DATA aah… that we’re bringing in and making sure that ahm… when the characters are moving around that they look really great and really fluid, going between like AI pathing like from one location to another… you know… merging into like… scenes that we shot with the characters so we’re… we’re really trying to… make you feel like you’re part of the story and feel like you’re hanging out with AI you know just running around and ehm…
… I think it’s gunna be really great, uhm-I’m-uh-eh-did… it’s… it’s ahm… s’gunna be… worth… the wait lemme put it that way
Is there one specific feature right now in the alpha 3.0 that you are especially proud of?
Well I… well I mean the planetary tech… so this is gunna be the first time that the community, ah, can go, and… and LAND on… in the case of Three Zero, mooooons, or in the case of this asteroid planetoid, they’re FULLY REALISED, every inch of ’em you can move around and explore and you can cir-cum-nav-i-gate the entire conference (sic) of the moon if you wanted to, ah, and… ah.. it’s ah.. you know… the amount of additional playable area that comes into the game now compared to what was in say two point six three, aah it’s HUGE and how much the game is gunna OPEN UP cos we’re introducing the planetary tech compared to what we were thinking we would have in the game… before…it uh… ah, you know… we sort of made the BREAKTHROUGH so to speak… uhhh… i-it’s really exciting, there’s a lot of gameplay that’s gunna come out of it, it’s one of the reasons why maybe things are taking a lot longer than… uhm… you know… SOME OF US… or you know… I’d like to… things move faster too… ah… would LIKE… ahh… but… once we’ve sort of opened up the potential of these planets we… because of the sort of DETAIL and the FIDELITY we’re going for, we also need to make sure that there’s… STUFF TO DO ON THE PLANETS
… and uh, you know… we are.. focused on STUFF, we’re not just creating the planets but also creating, sort of… ah… SYSTEMS that will uh… allow the… whether it’s… ah… you know… ECO SYSTEMS or uh… FLORA or FAUNA… aah… that… you know… MAKE IT ALIVE or THINGS TO DO ON IT or you need to sort of uh.. PROCEDURALLY YOU KNOW… create… little uh, OUTPOSTS or TOWNS or VILLAGES beyond the central landing zones, cos you know, the original version of STAR CITIZEN we were aiming to be a bit more like PRIVATEER or FREELANCER were we had indvidual sort of BEE SPOKE landing zones but you couldn’t explore the planet, you would essentially be in ORBIT around the planet and you would have a LANDING and we would have a CINEMATIC that would transition you down and then you were, you know, essentially moving round a small limited FPS area were you could go to a SHOP and BUY THINGS and go to a BAR and TALK TO PEOPLE and get a MISSION…
…aahhh… you know… get your SHIP REPAIRED GO BACK TO SPACE so…
ahh, you know NOW we have WHOLE WORLDS OPENED UP TO YOU so the amount of ah, potential for exploration, long term in the game, and for players to do THINGS, for instance, you know, maybe… CREATE THEIR OWN LITTLE BASE or their own little SETTLEMENT on a moon or you know a planet that no one else has sort of gone to that particular area is… is… HUGE…
…so the gameplay potential is amazing, we’re only just seeing the very very very beginnings of it in three point zero and I’m really excited, ahm, as we start to roll out more STUFF for three point one and beyond.
Will there be anything on Friday, maybe a small teaser [of Squadron 42] ?
Ah, no, no, not at Gamescon.
What’s the big part that is actually missing and preventing you from finishing Squadron 42? What’s holding it back?
Ah, well I mean the… the… the… the big part is kind of what I was talking about before which is sort of… aah… trying… we… we very much want to get the quality of the animation and how the AI move around to be the equivalent to what you see sort of in like pre-rendered cinematics… cos we spent all this time shooting with these amazing actors… we spent about A HUNDRED… just over a HUNDRED DAYS doing PERFORMANCE CAPTURE and that’s a MASSIVE amount of time to shoot so, for instance, most big-event movies are $150 to $200 million, they usually don’t shoot for more than a hundred days, so… they shoot maybe 80 days, 90 days, ahm… and ah… so… for the amount that we have there, we have all these great performances so it’s a vast amount of performance data and animation and motion, ah… and STORY… ah, we really want to make sure it comes across so when you’re playing the game and you’re moving around in it you’re… they’re… talking to you, you know, OLD MAN who is played by MARK HAMILL or, ah, you know, the various other characters that you’re, uh, playing, uh, the game… like alongside with…
… because you’re in… you’re basically inside this MOVIE as opposed to sort of… you know the WING COMMANDER 3 and the WING COMMANDER 4 was sort of… you… you… you were like the STUNTMAN flying the ship, you got on the back of the ship, you would see what MARK HAMILL did and you would say, “No! Go… sort of… take this choice or this choice!”, and, well in this case it’s YOU and you happen to be the LEAD STAR in the MOVIE…
… so getting that to be the fluidity that we want, uh, because it’s a huge story, ah, and dialling that in, ahm… is… you know, has been taking a BIT LONGER than we ANTICIPATED…
So what you’re saying is the other parts, for example the missions and stuff like that, they are further along?
Well yeah, no… no we have… we don’t… we… we… well we… we’ve… you know we’ve still… we’re still working on, uhm… say, the final like ASSETS AND STUFF but we’ve blocked out all the MISSIONS and chapter… what we call CHAPTERS… we have these CHAPTERS
…uh, that each one would sort of be the equivalent of… you know, several missions in ah, say a WING COMMANDER because they would be sort of… LINK…
You can already play those missions from start to finish?
Well so, so YES… we haven’t BLOCKED what you… what you… what you would call sort of DESIGNER… somewhere between white and grey boxes and levels we’re going to take to a more finished state but we’re taking ah, certain ones… we’re taking, so for instance we were talking about showing, ah, a sequence last year that was, ah, you know ONE SECTION of the story that we were gunna take to a finished level… and you know we’re still basically doing that, we’re in production on all of them… um… we, you know… we’ll be showing some things at some point… ah, just it’s not gunna be at Gamescon and I would hate to make promises because, ah, you know, last year I said, “well we’re planning to show, uh, ah, uh… you know… a… a… piece of some Squadron 42 gameplay” and then we ended up not getting it to the point where we were happy with… but we didn’t show it and everyone was very UPSET and ah, I felt kinda BAD because, one, we also showed some amazing stuff on the planetary tech… Homestead and all the sort of the next level of what the planetary tech was like and…
… that was actually like, in my mind, really great stuff, but… it was sort of… partly the HIGH of that was… was AFFECTED by the, uh… the fact that we didn’t show Squadron 42. But no, you know I mean, I would say it’s sort of the ANIMATIONS and the AI because we’re going for a level of AI that you don’t normally have so we want… ah… you know… when you’re on, say… the ship you’re serving on, at the beginning of the game it’s the STANTON which is an IDRIS CORVETTE, you know all the crew have their full, you know… they have a SCHEDULE, they get up in the morning they EAT BREAKFAST, they go about their JOB, you know they go GET LUNCH, go back to their JOB…
… have CHIT-CHAT over DINNER, maybe UNWIND…
… then go back to SLEEP…
You know, there’s a whole SCHEDULE and CYCLE and they’re… so we… it’s almost… like a level of sort of SIMS SIMULATION FOR THE AI, we’re also using that… the planet’s using that for the PERSISTENT UNIVERSE and uh… so just DIALING THAT IN WELL, ah, getting that WORKING, so that’s the SUBSUMPTION SYSTEM which we’re making GREAT PROGRESS ON so it’s in three point zero… all the missions run on subsumption… now all in Squadron, everything runs in subsumption whereas before it wasn’t, it was using sort of an older CryEngine system.
So just getting all that in, getting that all up to the level, and making sure that it’s ah… you know… PERFORMING WELL and LOOKING GREAT… DIALED IN to look as great or better than anything else… which is what it’s going to do… it’s just taking some time unfortunately.
What is the best way to experience Star Citizen? Are you going to play it on one monitor or two? With a gamepad? With keyboard & mouse? Is it for joystick? What is your personal preference?
Ah. Aaaaahhhh. That’s… ehm… kinda hard to qua… I mean we basically build the game and support the game for everything so… whether it’s… joystick, ahm… you know, gamepad… ah, keyboard mouse… ah, and they all have sort of pros and cons it’s sorta hard to say, I mean obviously for running around on foot and sort of the FPS stuff, um, keyboard mouse is probably the best
Ah, for flying I’d say that joystick, I mean I know there’s some people that feel like the MOUSE FLY is too easy and it gives people an edge but… I… I mean, I’ll just say that, like, when we do STUFF when we’re trying to fly stuff around, so for instance we were, ah, you know… ah, in the PRESS we were sort of showing a preview of what we’ll do on FRIDAY and I’m hoping people will like what we show… ah, so I don’t really wanna spoil it, it’s pretty cool, ah… but it would definitely have been better to have a joystick, ah, for the, ah, you know… so we had… a sort of mix of… of PR PEOPLE PLAYING and sort of, some were playing HOE TAS and some were playing MOUSE AND KEYBOARD… some of the things were easier to do with the KEYBOARD than they were with MOUSE… ahm, so for me, ah… I would say, ah…
…you know I HAVEN’T SET IT UP YET but ah… um… my… a nice little wide monitor, you know, the one that’s kinda sort of… 4k across, one of the curved ones… ah, and then uhm… you know… I tend to sort of ah, switch between a HOE TAS and a mouse… a keyboard… a mouse keyboard for running around doing stuff, HOE TAS for the flight stuff.
Is there somebody who’s stopping you? Really Chris, you got all these ideas, but we’ve got to finish a game, is there somebody who says, ‘OK, we go until we get to this point and then we try to do it” ?
I mean I… I would say, ha!
Ahh… that… in the case of Star Citizen, the concept of finishing the game is probably pretty loose. I would say that the time that we stop adding stuff and making Star Citizen better will probably be the time that the game dies as an online game, and so we’re always going to be sort of adding features and content to keep it alive, if you look at every single sort of online game… that’s what they do, I mean it’s when people stop adding content or functionality to it the game’s dead…
So you know, if you look at EVE ONLINE ten plus years later, you look at World of Warcraft ten plus years…
Yes but I guess the question was more in the direction of, ‘get to version 1.0 and then keep going from there’…
But… but… the thing is… what… why is… what is version one point oh? Because at this moment if you back Star Citizen you can download two point six three, you’ll be able to download three point zero… VERY SOON… so it’s, you know… the content we have, YOU have, so in the case of three zero you’ll be able to GO BETWEEN THESE MOONS, when we go to three one we’ll put HURSTON and STANTON in, you’ll have more planets… we just… we give you THE GAME… so you’re getting it as it’s happening. So it’s not like we’re, ah, not giving it to you until a certain point, as we’re… I mean that’s the difference between what we’re doing with Star Citizen and what you would traditionally would do, say a PUBLISHER would work on the game, but you don’t get it, maybe they’d tell you about it, do a little marketing but you don’t get to play it until right before…
… you know maybe they’ll do a, you know a QUICK BETA THING like they do, you know, so BATTLEFRONT or something like that, but, em, you know… you’re not playing, you know… what EA’s developing two or three years before they’re releasing it.
So first you’re getting to play it as we’re building it, so, ah… it’s the idea of like… this… sort of particular FINISH LINE, for me in the Star Citizen sense? Ah, doesn’t make so much sense. We… I mean, we generally have a fairly, ah… set… of… general, ah, FEATURES, but as certain things come online, say like the planetary tech, you go, ‘OK, we need to do THESE things to make THIS thing interesting’, and yeah so it does add some features and functionality ah, to do it, but… ah, we’re… we’re building a… a world that I think, ultimately people are gonna wanna spend a lot of time in and so I care about making sure that that’s going to be the most interesting experience.
So that’s what I’m doing, it’s not like I’m adding control here, and believe me I wanna finish… ah, you know… ah, NOT finish… but I wanna get it to the point where I feel like… ah… I don’t… you know… it’s like this point where… and then I’m sort of adding additional stuff versus getting to… the, ah… SIDE where I think ‘OK we’ve got the basic functionality of all the game stuff in there’
Thanks for being here and for answering our questions
That’s alright, hopefully I did an alright job, hope I didn’t make it… eh… so… you know, challenging for you with my long answers to ah… to ah, translate into German but you seemed to do a great job
If I didn’t do it correctly they will put it in the comments, a-haha, somebody’s always doing it
Ok so tomorrow, tomorrow night and I think we’re live streaming it, uhm… so it’s generally always, ah… kinda FUN event and uh… I think we’re gonna show some… we’re gonna show some PRETTY COOL THINGS that hopefully people will like.. uhm… so check it out
Seriously, if you still have money in this train wreck, go get a refund. After six years and $156M raised, the project is still in pre-Alpha. The road to completion for a project is Alpha -> Beta -> Release Candidate -> Release. And each of those stages can take several months after all features are actually implemented by the RC stage. If after all this time, and all this money, they are still not even in alpha stage, what makes you think the project stands ANY chance of getting completed? Heck, they even removed the delivery aim dates from the public dev schedule, then went back and added even more stuff to it.
I am currently writing an article about Chris’s presentation, and will post it soon. I don’t even know where to begin with it, but suffice to say, that presentation had some unexpected results which solidified my opinions that this game can NEVER been made, and that the project is FUBAR. In fact, PC Invasion has the best summary so far of the disaster that unfolded before our eyes. Yes, this is a six year project developed by over 500 people (both past and present) and which has thus far raised (and probably burned through) over $156M in crowd-funding alone. I have also made public a private (industry friends and peers) post which I made on Facebook.July 29, 2017 at 11:43 am #5610
It’s a foregone conclusion that during GamesCom 2016, Chris Roberts – again – blatantly LIED to backers about the state of the project when he revealed the time line for the 3.0 build release. Even the most loyal backers, even though they knew deep down that there was a chance that this was the case, are starting to come around.
But it won’t last. We’ve seen this cycle once too many times before. As soon as Chris Roberts trots out the latest scam-ridden pretty pictures, the sheep, like AI bots, will self-herd themselves into a lull for a few more months. Even the “popular” Star Citizen streamers are getting fed up. Meanwhile, over at the hug box that is the CIG backer quarantine, a few stragglers are upset at another two week delay. I don’t know what they’re going to do when it all comes to a head this Summer. Either way, it’s going to be absolutely amazing to behold, and there will be many lols to be had. In fact, most of us are already planning our Summer vacation around it.
“There seems to be an interesting pattern:
– Week A: delay critical tasks, add a few fluff tasks, do not delay overall launch prediction. Sales are usually held during these weeks.
– Week B: close a few fluff tasks to convey an image of progress, delay the overall launch prediction for two weeks
This can go on a very long time and keep backers happy, as we have now seen with already more than doubled time from 3.0 June prediction.
But people are starting to notice.” – A backer on Reddit
But this is not what I want to write about today.
So, remember back in Nov 2016 when I said sources told me that back in Aug 2016 when Roberts was touting 3.0, that it didn’t really exist in any form? Sure you do.
Remember that same month when I repeated the same thing after CitizenCon, ahead of Roberts’ “Dec 19th” release comment?
You also read my Dec 13th, 2016 update, three days ahead of the “3.0 release”, right?
And do you remember my first update of 2017 after 3.0 failed to materialize, and I reminded everyone that I was right the whole time? Yeah, you do.
Did you also read my follow-up Jan 2017 update about 3.0, as well as yet another interview with German’s #1 Star Citizen propaganda media outlet, GameStar, who had previously claimed that they “played 3.0”?
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – Chris Roberts, Feb 2017
Then in my Feb 2017 update, two months after not hearing about, nor a 3.0 release, I wrote about it being a pipe dream, and that SQ42 wasn’t even a thing anymore.
Then in my Apr 18th, 2017 update, a full EIGHT months after Roberts’ claimed 3.0 was going to be released on or before Dec 19th, 2016, the first 3.0 schedule was released. With an “aim date” release window to June 29th.
Then in my May 2017 update, I mentioned a major scoop regarding both SQ42 and the internal 3.0 dev schedule that goes all the way to 2021.
Where are we today?
Star Citizen 3.0 is EIGHT months late from the original Dec 19th release window. And as per the June 28th schedule update (analysis), assuming they actually make (all bets are that they won’t) it, will be almost THREE months late from the original release window in the first schedule released in April.
Since the original 3.0 schedule was released in April, we’ve been doing analysis (06-09, 06-16, 06-30, 07-07, 07-14, 07-21) of the more important and significant changes. The trend has always been that CIG released a bullshit schedule, that didn’t reflect the actual state of the project. This has been more evident with each delay. And until this past July 28th update, the previous two schedules didn’t even change the release aim date, despite the fact that there were many tasks delayed by as much as three weeks. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to upset the Apple cart during the sales they have been doing this period. Particularly the sale of the Nox (in-game) and Cyclone (JPEG concept) vehicles which are to be used on the promised moons and planetoid coming in 3.0.
“Why yes, yes of course a company that is run by a group of thieving, conniving, lying, sumbitches led by an incompetent ass-clown, and which is actively engaged in an on-going scam to fleece backers and line their own pockets, is oh so very willing to refund money because, you know, they feel like it. GTFO” – Derek Smart on SA
Going into August (GamesCom is Aug 22-26), we started seeing the shill pattern again. First up, those lying bastards over at GameStar, got the ball rolling with their interview which, while being their usual bullshit-ridden puff piece, started a major furor when they revealed that Star Citizen was only going to “launch” with 5 – 10 systems (out of the 110 promised to backers between 2012-2014). I wrote about that in my July 17th update.
And while CIG and their media cohorts, as well as the clueless backers were busy shilling “procedural planets” (most of them have no idea what that even means), which I recently wrote about here with regards to Star Citizen, others were on a completely different tangent.
Then Chris Livingston over at PC Gamer, one of the more credible writers, claimed “hands on” experience with 3.0. As I wrote here, based on my Twitter exchange with him, he says that he was able to play the game, go from space to planet “seamlessly”, then land on a moon and a planetoid. As the issue hasn’t been released yet AFAIK, that’s the only information that we have thus far. I remember back when GameStar was claiming they played 3.0, while not being able to give any details, though found time to write a 12+ page word salad of backer pandering bullshit.
“There will never – ever – be a “game” coming from this. And when it all collapses and CIG can no longer pay the monthly AWS costs, since the game is online only, backers will be left with a dud they can no longer play, as there is no off-line play component, nor peer-to-peer multiplayer.
My opinion remains the same. This game will never get made. It’s been a cash grab that’s made Chris, his family and friends, rich off backer money. He hasn’t “saved PC gaming”. All he’s saved are the ill-gotten gains from trusting backers who just wanted a game.” – Derek Smart
Know what happened to the Nox and Cyclone sales after Livingston posted his article snippet? This.
Then, amid the furor, and weeks later on July 26th, with no official comment from a CIG exec (not even Roberts), one of the CS posted a half-assed clarification about the 5 – 10 systems furor. It’s as ridiculous as it is mind-blowing. Read it and be the judge. I personally like how they literally threw GameStar under the bus. It’s always interesting when even shills and their sources can’t seem to get their stories straight.
Remember that by $65M raised, these clowns had progressively increased the scope of the game and reached the peak of ludicrousness almost three years and $90M ago in Nov 2014. The same month that the original games (Star Citizen and Squadron 42) pitched in Oct 2012 were supposed to be released.
As Nosy Gamer noted in his July 28th article, shortly after the above clarification, those backers who were defending the 5 – 10 systems, were suddenly singing a different tune. The YoYo is not a joke; and the Blue pill is actually Purple.
Even as GamesCom is approaching, and sources telling me that the ENTIRE project is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, the denizens of the quarantine zone, are already at high anxiety levels in anticipation of what’s going to happen at GamesCom this year. If only they knew that the reason resources are pulled off 3.0, thus causing the delay, is because CIG are working on what they will be showing at GamesCom a little less than a month from now. And if you thought I was joking when I kept saying that most of them were stuck in Sunk Cost Fallacy, read this Spectrum post.
I have all the details about precisely what they’re doing and planning for GamesCom. I will be publishing a new article during or after the GC2017 show, then we all get to see how much of it was on the mark.
The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
As I wrote back on July 8th, sources continue to tell me that not only is 3.0 nowhere near ready for release, but that it continues to be a performance hog. And that Squadron 42 still doesn’t exist as a “game”, but as a series of splintered tech demos. Which makes sense, considering that it relies on the Star Citizen core engines which aren’t even completely developed yet. It’s almost as if the pillar of the Star Citizen CS staff and community, a homophobic, racist, antisemitic buffoon, Ben Lesnick, actually lied when he claimed to have played all the missions in SQ42. A game that, with 2017 almost half over, still has no release date.
The bottom line is this, with the 3.0 release aim date now in early September, if they release what we see in the schedule in that time frame, it’s going to be a disaster more epic than the release of 2.0 back in Dec 2015. But much worse due to the introduction of moons and planetoids which have added to the complexity of the game and the performance issues they’re now battling. I don’t personally believe that CIG will do that because it will mark the end of the project. Instead, there is a very good chance that they will probably release 3.0 to Evocati either shortly before, during, or after GamesCom. Then leave it there for an undetermined period. Then after the hype or disappointment – which is all but sure to leak – later either pulling it for more internal testing, or pushing it to the Public Test Universe. Whatever they do, if it doesn’t live up to the expectations – which sources tell me it simply cannot – then it’s the final curtain.
“As of now, Star Citizen is 2.8 years late, and $90.5M over budget. That’s an absolute and indisputable fact.“
Eventually, and this goes without saying, every single person left with money in Star Citizen, is going to end up losing it if they think that a “game” will ever evolve from this train wreck. For the US backers who are now claiming that if the project fails, that “Key Man Insurance” would cover refunds, or that their money is tax deductible, we can help. Here is IRS form 4684 which you will probably need when the end comes.
You see, the thing with Ponzi schemes – which this project has evolved into – is that it is bound to collapse, regardless of how long it takes. With CIG using new backer money to refund old backers (who are still refunding btw), at some point when they can no longer do refunds, the whole glass house crashes. It’s inevitable. It will happen. And we’re all going to bear witness to it.
And some of the backers engaged in obfuscation and revisionist history, keep spouting the same nonsense that “backers voted to increase the scope of the game“. In fact, as I wrote here about a year ago, that notion is patently false. The 11-03-2012 stretch goals poll, and the 07-17-2013 funding counter poll did no such thing. And even if it did, it was still up to Chris to know when to say no, or when to determine whether or not it could be done. But regardless, in Nov 2014, after raising $65M, the project scope was significantly increased, thus sealing its fate and dooming it to the failure it is now facing.
“That’s the third time you’ve posted the same link to the same poll, disregarding points raised that the poll data doesn’t show any consensus or agreement in any of the options, since not even a simple majority agrees on any one option despite each participant being allowed to select 3 options. Members of the active SC community were given 3 votes each and still failed to put any of the options above 40% support, which suggests that there is no majority support from the community for any of the expansion options.
If anything, giving people 3 choices each instead of 1 should have made it easier for any one option to hit 50%, but that still didn’t happen. All this shows is that CIG polled the community and then promptly disregarded the results, opting to proceed with their own plan instead, and certainly doesn’t support your assertion that the changes were voted and agreed upon by the community.” – Some guy on SA
UPDATE: So amid the ongoing furor, a CS person from CIG has again issued a statement regarding the recent 3.0 schedule delay. It’s as ludicrous as the project itself. To the extent that not only admitting to continue to increase the project scope – when they should be winding down development to release a game – but also somehow justifying a bogus schedule they know is unrealistic. A schedule to which they won’t add the actual dates, but instead increase the delays two to three weeks at a time in order to avoid panic.
Basically their official statement is admitting that Chris Roberts LIED to backers. Here’s irrefutable evidence from GamesCom 2016.
From PC Invasion article.
“We have to assume they will rustle something up for Gamescom just to keep fans happy. While these special event demonstrations are always impressive, there’s little change to the actual game and they simply fuel the hype machine. The 3.0 update has been teased by CIG since October last year.”
Meanwhile over on Reddit…August 29, 2017 at 7:46 am #5685
STAR CITIZEN VERSION 3.0 LOOKS SET TO LIVEN UP THE GALAXY – Polygon, Aug 2016
To say the entire Star Citizen stream and Chris Roberts’ GamesCom 2017 presentation were an unmitigated disaster, would be an understatement. If you haven’t yet done so, you should read my coverage of the daily streams because they will serve to give a better insight (PC Invasion also has a really good one) as to how we got here, and why Chris’s presentation ended up being such a massive disappointment which now serves as even more irrefutable evidence that the project is FUBAR. Heck, as I had previously written for months now, various sources had been telling me how much of a disaster the 3.0 build was, but I was still shocked by what I saw – live.
Before we begin, I would like to lay out a few things which serve to set the stage, and illustrate why this particular presentation, like last year, was so vital.
- I backed this project right off the bat in 2012 because I wanted to see the game (which was pitched), made. According to their own nomenclature, I am an original backer. I backed it just like I did all the other space combat games I crowd-funded over the years, whether or not they succeeded or failed. My goal isn’t, never was, and isn’t going to be about me wanting to see the project fail; that I’m jealous (which is hilarious, considering that I’ve been making games for 30 years, while Chris got kicked out of the biz over a decade before 2012) of Chris Roberts, or any of the nonsense that those guys keep spouting because it makes them sleep better at night. Despite the fact that my first July 2015 blog about this farce, as well as quite a few investigative reports, made these points clear, those trying to obfuscate the issue, are making this about me, instead of about Chris Roberts and the failed project. In fact, all said and done, I really do feel sorry for him because this project has completely sealed his fate as an incompetent, lying scammer, and egotistical con man. You can never recover from that. Especially after you’ve scammed a group of people out of millions of dollars, while making promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep.
- As I wrote in a short missive a few days ago, and as I have said for over two years now, vindication aside, I’m going to continue exposing this scam and will do everything in my power to ensure that they don’t get away with it.
- In Jan 2017, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – $141M raised.
- In Aug 2016 (at GamesCom), Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.” – $118M raised.
- In Sept 2014, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“Long ago I stopped looking at this game the way I did when I worked for a publisher who gave me a fixed budget to make a retail game. I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012).” – $54M raised.
- In Apr 2013, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“In the old model as a developer I would have captured 20 cents on the dollar,” Roberts said. “Ultimately that means I can make the same game for a fifth of the revenue, a fifth of the sales, and I can be more profitable, and I can exist on lower unit sales. I think that’s good for gamers, because crowdfunding and digital distribution are enabling more nichey stuff to be viable. It’s also allowing gamers to have their voice heard, and have their influence earlier in the process. You don’t really have your input into how Call of Duty’s being made.” – $8.6M raised
- In Oct 2012, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“You have stated that you expect to have an Alpha up and going in about 12 months, with a beta roughly 10 months after that and then launch. For a game of this size and scope, do you think you can really be done in the next two years?
Really it is all about constant iteration from launch. The whole idea is to be constantly updating. It isn’t like the old days where you had to have everything and the kitchen sink in at launch because you weren’t going to come back to it for awhile. We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal. Any more and things would begin to get stale.” – $2.5M raised.
- Having pitched a completely different 3.0 build in Q4/16, it wasn’t until April 2017 that the first dev schedule for 3.0 was released. What should have been another major alarm bell, was mostly down-played by most of the hardcore zealots. You can read my analysis. Just this past August, after missing every single release date since that time, they just went ahead and completely removed the “release aim dates” from the schedule. And that was AFTER Chris went on an Aug 3rd AtV broadcast to explain why 3.0 was delayed, what was in it etc. No wait, that’s not all!
- The project is in pre-alpha. What that means is that six years and $157M later, they are nowhere near where they need to be. This invariably means that by the time they go through all the dev stages (pre-alpha->alpha->beta->release candidate->release), all of which have several builds over several months, the project would have been dead. The reason is simple: they’ve yet to deliver even 15% of the what they promised, having raised $65M back in Nov 2014. If this were a project funded by a publisher or other dev, it would have either been canceled by now, or chopped up and shipped in order to recoup some of the costs. Now we are seeing why, his poor reputation aside, all the publishers that Chris Roberts pitched this game (using a different name, starting with his attempts to use Wing Commander), to, just rejected it.
- The last patch for the game was 2.6.3 released in April 7th 2017. As I type this, there are over 3000+ bugs logged on their website for that build. Some of those bugs have been in there since as far back as the first hangar module release in 2013.
Finally, a LOT has been written about this train wreck, so if you haven’t been keeping up, there is no way you are going to actually grasp the gravity of the situation that the project is now in. However, even if you don’t read my rather extensive Star Citizen blogs, at the very least, please read these updates as a sort of primer. 07-29-2017, 07-08-2017 , 05-26-2017 , 04-18-2017 , 12-13-2016
STAR CITIZEN GC2017 BLOOPERS (A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS)
GAMESCOM 2017 – THE EPIC DISASTER
When we found out that Twitch and YouTube streamers at the show were going to be playing the buggy and performance hog that is pre-release 3.0, instead of the current 2.6.3 build (which wasn’t even played at the show btw), most of us “in the know” weren’t at all surprised. However, what was surprising was that it wasn’t even the current “state image” of the build. Instead CIG and their streamers were playing a stripped down version of 3.0. That build had a single moon with two outposts (non-interactive), two ground vehicles, two ships – and no game loop. In fact, not only was there no connection to the persistent universe as far as “space” was concerned, but it was just a standard CryEngine level in which any concept of “space” was just the empty area around (think sphere in a Black box) the level itself. And they had to reset it every 10 to 15 minutes. CIG made several statements indicating that they had deliberately disabled certain functionality, and that the full 3.0 build would be seen being played during Chris’s presentation.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, while all of that was going on, Chris announced in an interview with GameStar.de that Squadron 42 wasn’t being shown or played, thus confirming what sources had already told me that it was now scheduled for a 2018 release. And he never once mentioned it during his presentation.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) BROUGHT YOU THIS
GAMESCOM 2017 – CHRIS ROBERTS STAR CITIZEN PRESENTATION
Though the 3.0 hype had somewhat died down due to what had previously been seen during the streaming of the scaled down version, there was still some hope that backers were going to at least see the features touted for this release. Sure, as a pre-alpha game in development, bugs and performance issues are expected. But when you’re looking at a six year project that has raised $156M (at the time), you tend to expect to see some progress. For all intent and purposes, there seems to have been very little progress made between the 2016 presentation and this one.
This time Chris didn’t even bother to do slides of the 3.0 roadmap as he had done last year, and he said this right off the bat. However, he did bring slides showing the work that was being planned/done by Turbulent. This includes a new game launcher, patcher, and some VOIP stuff. All the things that you can get in lots of third-party software already.
He then declared that they were going to be playing 3.0 live. Here’s the thing, Chris wasn’t playing the game. In fact, except for that one time which ended in a complete disaster, backers have never – ever – seen him play his own game in any meaningful fashion. What he does is “direct” his team playing the game. And he got to do this again, complete with scripted role-playing dialog. And no, I didn’t make that last part up.
While some may be OK with the fact that “they played 3.0 live”, what’s lost in translation is that, yet again, this was a build created specifically (UPDATE: This was proven to be the case merely days later) for this show. Like all the others before it. He has pulled this same stunt, year after year at both GamesCom (Aug) and CitizenCon (Oct) which are their peak fundraising events. If this was a build that was meant to be played for people to experience it unfiltered, they would have been playing it during the live stream. Instead, they came to the show with two builds. One for the live stream, and the other for his presentation. Now you have to wonder which of these two builds is the one being worked on, and now said to be coming out in early October.
Anyway, the “presentation” build was supposed to be of a single mission loop meant to show backers some of the progress in various areas of the project. Nothing more than a cookie-cutter quest mission. Start game, go meet a guy (who apparently doesn’t have email or a comms device) at a bar about a job. The job? Go get a Red box somewhere on a barren moon, put it on a ship, and deliver it to another moon. I shit you not. That’s it. All of it.
And it DIDN’T WORK!
So how did it all go so very wrong? Oh God, where to begin? Just look at the blooper reel to see how it all went down. But basically everything completely fell apart right from the start.
- The NPC quest giver, Miles Eckhart, was only visible to one client. The others had to pretend he was there. They knew where he would be anyway, so there’s that. But since we could see split-screen, they got busted on this part. At that point, me and my Goon army were rolling because we knew that the disaster was already off to a great start.
- The Red box was invisible to the person who picked it up, and it could only be seen by the others. This issue, and others later (e.g. the girl driving the Rover couldn’t see the attacking fighters), made it clear that the mission quest itself was basically single player, and hadn’t been created to work in a multi-player environment. Basically the other clients were supporting actors in Chris’s elaborate movie production designed to mislead backers.
- The rover chassis and wheels, being separate entities, were moving incorrectly (e.g. the wheels were animated moving backwards). This aside from the fact that being handled separately and incorrectly is what caused the disaster on the ramp later on.
- The game crashed when the Constellation ship left the moon and jumped through space to the other moon. Then, get this, they had to restart the whole thing from scratch, then do a speed run through. Seriously, it was hilarious.
- Then later on, the rail gun used from the back of the rover, missed the fighter it was firing at, and so they couldn’t destroy it as part of the scenario. So that CIG player faked his own destruction with a “suicide” instead. We even got to see them executing console cheat commands during the stream!
- Because the math for slopes is hard, and due to how they had chosen to hack together a working vehicle controller from the CryEngine base version, it was no surprise that when they attempted to drive the rover up the ramp and onto the Idris docking bay, it fell through the ramp – and exploded. At this point, we’d completely lost it. I was shocked to be honest. Such a fundamental thing wasn’t actually working. It was just so embarrassing.
- As if the Idris (it’s supposedly a capital ship) appearing wasn’t hype enough, the most amazing thing was just how lackluster the space combat was. The current flight model is pure rubbish, and we already know this because it’s been a major bane of contention since Arena Commander was first released back in June 2014, and it didn’t get much better. However granted that the Idris is a fine ship (it’s not currently playable btw), the landing on the moon, while ganky, had the wow (which the exploding rover ultimately killed) factor, the space combat portion completely ruined it. It was horrific, uninspiring for a capital ship combat – and ran at about 10 fps. If nothing else, this just served as yet another reminder that when you focus on “visual fidelity” and forgot about the “game” part of a project, you’re bound to run into serious issues down the road.
- And when they played it a second time, they got busted when Chris was told that unless a player got the rail gun from the store, the script would break.
And not only did they fail the mission, the success/fail resolution loop didn’t even close. And they attempted it twice – and still couldn’t complete it.
One person said it best:
“Their MMO, which has been in development since 2011 (f*ck you Chris and your “full production” bullshit), can’t handle the pilot of a
multicrew vessel disconnecting from the rest of the party. Their MMO doesn’t have AI, and required a full crew of people to fake a
mission experience. Their MMO couldn’t handle a rover driving on to a ramp without exploding, or feature two large ships fighting without
turning into a slide show. Their MMO is so poorly programmed that they had to script a ship exploding when it got shot. Their MMO is shit.
Their MMO is being designed by a “visionary” who, given a year to develop a vignette to show off his dream for gameplay, could only come up
with a shitty fetch quest. A visionary who is more concerned about marketing VOIP and some shitty webcam over producing any kind of gameplay.
A visionary who believes things done a decade ago are somehow novel or interesting. Their MMO is being designed by an idiot.
Their MMO isn’t a MMO. It’s a case study in poor design practices, the perils of shitty oversight, the gullibility of gamer, and the myth of
the “Great Man” game developer. It’s a condemnation of Chris Roberts and irrefutable proof that he is a fraud who is better at spending money
than designing games.“
TWO CLIENTS. ONE MILES ECKHART. MUCH HILARITY
The only AI entities in this entire production, were at the starting base. All exhibiting various issues ranging from collision issues, animations that fail to trigger, pathfinding issues etc. He even claimed that there would be hundreds of NPC entities at these bases, all going about their daily routines on a schedule etc.
As I wrote here, having spent over three decades developing games, and which entails writing game scripts for both single and multiplayer sessions, there is no way on this God’s Earth, that this basic quest mission could ever have worked in a multiplayer environment as designed. Like – at all. So once again, Chris came to a show with a carefully made demo that backers aren’t likely to be playing as shown. Sure there’s probably going to be gameplay elements such as driving on moons and planetoids – which I’ve written (1, 2) extensively about in July (back when it was obvious that they couldn’t do entire planets), as well as the new Mobiglass and other things shown. But if a very basic quest like this is not only flat-out broken, but didn’t even portray 3.0 in a good light, why does anyone think that 3.0, if it ever gets released as promised, is going to fare any better than the disastrous 2.0 did back in Dec 2015? Let alone have any such missions in it?
That’s not all, we all saw the performance issues which various sources had told me about, and which I’d discussed these past months. This Idris ship, is a frigate (which for some reason they’re now calling a capital ship) class. Having seen the performance when even one of them is in a scene, let alone two, who here believes that they’re ever going to be able to put in ships of this size in the game? Here, take a look a the ship chart updated for GC2017 and be the judge. The Idris, which is missing btw, would be in the lower left under Aegis. You can see its size comparison in this ship cross-section image. Now look at Chris’s reaction, and listen to his statements about those ships, performance, crash etc.
And given the prices of all the assets lost in this single awful mission, with the loss of the Ursa rover, the Constellation ship, the Cutlass fighters, the Idris capital ship and the missiles it fires ($10 each btw), we calculate that a bunch of fools going on this mission would have lost about $2,500 (real money!) to retrieve a Red box on a distant barren rock. That’s on each play through if they fail. LMAO!! Welcome to Star Citizen. Please buy LTI.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) ALSO BROUGHT YOU THIS
Amid this furor, and in between crashes, restarts, and an embarrassing display of incompetence and waste, Chris then decided to unveil the latest “new” middleware technology. This time they showcased Faceware, a gaming gimmick that has been around since 2012 when Everquest (1, 2) was tooling around with it. Of course that went nowhere; and as far as we know, nobody is actually using it. Oh, and Facerig, a similar tool which works with every webcam, has been on Steam since 2015 for $15.
But here’s the thing. This Faceware nonsense – which looks like crap in the game – was just part of the feature creep that goes as far back as Sept 2013 when it was first shown on one of the Star Citizen broadcasts. Only this time, obviously with financial incentives attached, there is now a Star Citizen branded camera peripheral being sold along with it. And like all his previously failed partnerships, including the one with Madcatz (who he decided to badmouth during the stream btw) for a joystick/keyboard combo, this is yet another opportunity to spend resources on something that has zero benefit or pertinence to the game that was pitched back in 2012. Furthermore, considering the fact that the networking remains the game’s primary underlying issue, now they’re going to add FOIP (Face Over IP), in addition to VOIP, to their network packets for an engine which, as seen in this presentation, still has serious problems with even LAN play, let alone Internet. OK then.
And these clowns can’t get a simple vehicle to drive up a ramp. After six years. And $156M.
If you think my summary was hyperbole, well, here it is, broken down to brass tacks by someone else:
- Began with a 45min delay + 3 or 4 commercials for chariots
- New features (facial recognition, voice stuff) introduced then promptly revealed to be coming after 3.0, not with it
- After warping to the quest destination, the pilot’s client crashed. The other two players were still in the ship but couldn’t interact with it
- After 10 minutes of awkward troubleshooting they eventually had to restart. Cue another 15-20 minutes of mostly silence and long shots of a black room and an increasingly angry Chris as the demo is rebooted
- Because the demo was nearly 100% scripted, they had to do everything all over again leading up to the warp crash
- this included the world’s worst RP of all time. yes, they still repeated the RP in the 2nd attempt
- They get to the planet. it’s janky. a ton of pop-in and missing models. We all begin to notice that the lighting / colors for each player (they keep switching cameras) is completely different. It’s suggested that even the time of day for players is different
- They find the quest object – a ship’s black box which turned out to be a red cube that was just laying in a random spot on the floor
- Then they were ambushed, surprising nobody
- They shot the bad guy’s ship out of the air from their moon rover, but they clearly weren’t even aiming at the guy and it was a really embarrassing moment of scripting
- An Idris comes to save them, and jitter-janks its way to the surface. It extends a ramp for the rover to climb, and the entire thread knew at once it was going to end in disaster. It did. After many failed attempts the rover clipped through the ramp and exploded. The wheels literally fell off and rolled toward the camera, and I very nearly blacked out in laughter
- Also the red black box was aboard the rover but nobody acknowledged the mission was a failure
- Sometime after this we cut to a commercial for an RSI-branded webcam. Lots of scare tactics to make you think your existing webcam lacks the horsepower to handle Star Citizen’s new facial stuff
- Later, the Idris goes to space and is ambushed a 2nd time, surprising nobody for a 2nd time
- An epic space battle ensues as two goliaths fight through 6-7fps space and jitter-jank into one another. One explodes
- It’s the end of the demo. Chris then has a sudden and definitely not scripted idea – let’s let the goliaths fight again, but this time the bad guy could win!
- It’s another 20 minutes waiting for the really obviously fake and scripted demo to spin up. It’s awkward silence. Sandi wanders on stage in her weird clown outfit to give Chris a rum and coke
- The epic space battle begins anew. I cannot notice a single difference, other than a fighter bounces off the hull of the Idris like a Loony Toons cartoon, and the idris rams the bad guy who explodes in 6-7fps fashion. More jitter-jank
- Then Chris ends the presentation prematurely before being reminded that the employees are coming out to say goodbye. He asks them to take a bow. They do so. that’s it.
YEAH, THEY FAKED IT LAST YEAR TOO
But through all this, they did manage to unveil a new commercial (seriously, that’s a thing) for a $400 concept (it’s a JPEG) ship, the 600i. But then – get this – they started charging backers to name their ship if they started buying with cash instead of credit or gifts. As of this writing, though their fundraising for this show is tracking poorly, they did manage to raise about $1M from a group of about 2K backers. Seriously. Aside from the fact that we know the funding chart is bogus (though we don’t know to what extent), most of us remain convinced that there are people using this project to launder money, as there is simply no other reasonable explanation because it makes no sense whatsoever.
Oh but get this. Then during the show, they quietly changed the projected 3.0 release date from early Sept to early October. Though this backer claims (I urge you to read his rather lengthy indictment. update: CIG mods eventually locked the thread) to have asked for a refund because of that, I’m guessing that the GC2017 presentation was a major part in that decision.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE LEMONADE
GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER!
This was the first public showing of the much anticipated 3.0 build, and it was a complete disaster. Not only has hardly any progress been made since the last time 3.0 was showcased a year ago, but by my calculation, over 93% of the items they claim are coming in 3.0 and which are “completed”, were NOT shown in this build.
At this point, with the next big show, CitizenCon 2017 coming up on Oct 27th in Germany, assuming something called 3.0 is released before or after the show, my guess is that Chris may trot out a commercial or even a scripted demo of Squadron 42 because he has now completely burned 3.0 to the ground.
Chris has dug a hole he can’t hope to crawl out of and this “game” is never – ever – coming out. And now that he has spent all of the money, and barely on reserves, even as he takes out loans, and comes up with new and inventive ways to continue fleecing backer whales, the next part of this fiasco is going to be how he plans on making cuts without causing panic and spooking the remaining backer whales still funding this dumpster fire. Whatever he does, no matter how he does it, one thing is certain, it’s going to be another hilarious disaster.
UPDATE 2: Eurogamer published an interview Chris Roberts gave at GamesCom 2017. It’s an eye-opening read which contains ample evidence of what I’ve stated that they can’t develop the game promised, and that they were in fact going to dump 3.0 as a Minimal Viable Product. I covered this extensively in various blogs. To recap his statements from April 18th, 2016:
“…and, awh, wuh… we’ll have what will sort of determine a sort of… MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT FEATURE LIST for what you would call STAR CITIZEN the COMMERCIAL RELEASE, which is basically when you say, “OK! Ah, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more COOL STUFF and MORE CONTENT and MORE FUNCTIONALITY and MORE FEATURES”, which by the way includes some of… the LATER STRETCH GOALS we have cos not all of that’s meant to be for ABSOLUTELY RIGHT HERE, on the commercial release…“
I like how he says the public schedule is the same as the internal one. I guess 3.0 did come out in 2016.
I am also thrilled to see that he is still reading my articles because I was the first and only person to leak that the internal and public schedules were different. He’s a liar, a scam artist, and a fraud.
UPDATE 1: I want to take the opportunity to mention that any backer who funded this project after the June 2016 ToS change is NOT entitled to a refund without taking legal action. The only way to enforce a refund, is to take CIG to arbitration (no, you can’t sue them in open court), or get the State (e.g. AG) and Fed (e.g. the FTC) authorities involved (as what happened over a year ago). If they refuse, and you wish to pursue it, the issue is going to be determining whether or not backing on their website, as opposed to an official crowd-funding website (Indiegogo, Kickstarter etc) is a pre-order purchase or a donation. This was tested months ago during the Lily drone fiasco which I wrote about in this blog. Regardless, if you want a refund, there is a Reddit page (look to the right of the page for the steps) specifically for that.
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