Main › Star Citizen – Musings
- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
- August 26, 2017 at 11:07 am #5654
As I mentioned in my GC2017 Star Citizen coverage, I am currently writing an article on Chris’s presentation. In the meantime, below is a private (industry friends and peers only) post I made on Facebook.
Star Citizen is being shown at GamesCom. It’s been a massive and unprecedented disaster which has all but solidified my opinion that they didn’t stand a chance of ever shipping the massive game that Chris pitched in 2012 and which was due out by Nov 2014 (That was before he increased the scope, thus setting himself of for a massive failure).
Today Chris was interviewed. Aside from declaring that Squadron 42 (last seen in 2015) was not being shown, thus pretty much confirming that it’s not a 2017 release, his astonishing response to a question about restraint, has to be heard to be believed.
Note that he is comparing Star Citizen to Eve Online, a game that was COMPLETED before they went on to improve it, add expansions etc, over the years. Basically declaring that, promises and pledges aside, he has NO intentions of actually FINISHING the game, because he now views the project as a perpetual on-going project.
A project for which, six years later, he has now raised over $156M, of which $75M+ was spent by a UK studio he built for his brother (who now makes £230K a year at a studio that’s NEVER shipped a game; even as Braben at Frontier Dev which has shipped two massive games since 2012, and a third on the way, makes £180K), and which has NO reason to exist other to unjustly enrich his UK friends and family.
The same studio, the largest of five, that’s supposedly developing Squadron 42, and some major components for the engine that’s powering both games.
I have added a link in the comments to the full interview. It’s 30 mins long, and is absolutely incredible.
I had toned down and reduced the number of articles I write on this train wreck because, aside from the effects that it may have on some of our long time industry friends and colleagues working on the project, I came to realize that I was getting angrier and angrier with each article that I wrote.
I have been in the industry for almost three decades now, have shipped over a dozen games, and made a decent living from it. Aside from the early days where I relied on publishers (Take Two who became a public company with one of my first games, Interplay who gave me a second chance and was very instrumental in getting me where I am today, Dreamcatcher etc) for partial funding, marketing, support etc, I have always funded my own games in a bid to remain independent, and to make the games that I wanted to make, and not the ones that industry trends dictated that I make.
For me, this was never about a pay check. I truly love what I do, and because a group of people keep buying my games, I was able to keep making them over the years. And for as long as I have been around, so many teams, developers, and publishers have come and gone; and very few of us old school types are still doing what we love. The industry continues to go through a sea change in which our most heralded visionaries and peers have changed the way we make and fund games. While the challenges remain the same, only the battlegrounds and rules of engagement have changed.
The advent of crowd-funding for video games, which we all knew was going to be abused sooner rather than later, has produced some of the most exciting and diverse games in all genres. Games which would otherwise have never been made.
Then came Star Citizen in 2012, and which by all accounts, has now evolved into a massive scam which, at $156 million raised from gamers, has only served to unjustly enrich Chris Roberts and his family (3 of them) and friends (6 of them).
And six years later, they have yet to move out of pre-Alpha for a game (one of two) that is barely 15% of what was promised.
And this was all after Chris decided to burn over $75M on a studio (1, 2, 3) in the UK, which has NO reason to exist other than to have his UK friends and family benefit from this project. A studio which, being the largest of five around the world, is the most expensive, and which has burned through over 70% of the entire project’s funding. A studio in which his brother is now making £230K per year. A studio that has never shipped a product, and by all accounts stands ZERO chance of EVER doing so. This even as industry veteran Braben over at Frontier Dev which has shipped two games (one which was crowd-funded) since 2012, and with a third due out next Summer, is making £180K – from a company that was just today valued at a little under £500M.
I have spent three decades curating and working in a single, dedicated, niche genre: sci-fi and space combat games. A genre that for years had been under-served, once gamers got older and decided they didn’t want to read game manuals any more, let alone spend more than 10 mins learning how to actually play a game.
So for me, this vast amount of wealth (currently to the tune of $156M, not to mention loans and unknown investments) that’s not only been squandered but STOLEN from this genre and gamers who buy the games we make in the genre, is a very personal fight for me.
In July 2015, before I wrote that first blog, I had written a similar Facebook post for the benefit of my many industry friends and colleagues, alerting them to what I believed was going to happen, most of which has turned out to be true.
I always said that, regardless of the consequences (if you are aware of the many attempts to vilify, harass, and attack me for writing my articles, then you are all to familiar with that I am talking about) and/or expenses, that I was going to keep writing and exposing what’s going on, in a bid to not only hold Chris accountable, but also to ensure that he didn’t get away with what he has done.
With that, believe me when I tell you this, with what I know, and what I have and believe to be true, I am going to do everything in my power to not only hold Chris Roberts accountable, but to also put him behind bars if it comes to that.
That is all.July 20, 2017 at 11:00 am #5580
WHY THERE ARE NO ACTUAL PLANETS IN 3.0 DESPITE PREVIOUS PROMISES
I remember when planets were coming. Then we found out they were moons (Yela and Cellin) – of course because they are smaller, and easier to handle and build, than full blown planets.
Then, after promising the Stanton system back in 2016, they are now saying that they’re going to be moving (LOL!!) Delamar from Nyx to Stanton. You know why? Because they can’t do planets, or they would be building the Crusader planet, which is in Stanton already. Instead, since Delamar (within the Glaciem ring/belt in Nyx) is just a large asteroid the size of a small planet (hence planetoid), they are moving it to Stanton.
If they can move Delamar, they could very well have changed Crusader from a gas giant to a regular planet, built that, and left Delamar where it is. But that would mean having to build an actual planet which would require a larger surface area, more terrain assets, POIs etc. The problem with creating surface area in these games is that when you have air/space craft which can travel up to 350 m/s in space, due to the expanse, on a planet they will quickly run out of space to fly.
And Delamar, which has the Levksi landing zone, may not even be in 3.0 when it first launches.
It’s worse than that.
Nyx is an entirely different star system which they haven’t built. So leaving Delamar where it is, would have meant building the Nyx star system, when in fact they only have Stanton (15% built, if you counted all the elements in the Star map, compared to what’s in the current game client), and having to deal with player transitions from one system to another. So they just said, fuck it, we’ll just move it.
It’s a brilliant plan if you ask me.
Aside from that, having promised over 100 systems, and now saying that the game will “launch” (whatever that means) with only 5 – 10 systems, as of now, they haven’t even built a single one of the systems to completion. Stanton, where they started out, has four planets and several moons; and only two of those moons and the relocated Delamar planetoid, are going to be in 3.0. They are burning through over $30M a year from backer funding. Which means that if Stanton isn’t built by the end of 2017, it stands to reason that it’s going to cost millions more in funding to get the game to even 5 – 10 systems. That aside from the features required. And 5 – 10 systems at launch, complete with space and planet/moon regions, we’re talking another two years – at least. In fact, this latest news is in sync with what sources had told me a few weeks ago in May when they said the internal dev schedule for the promised game, doesn’t reflect the public facing one, and goes all the way to 2021.
Meanwhile, some backers still don’t get the fact that NONE of this tech or methodologies are actually new, and that CIG has basically been playing catch-up, while being firmly behind the curve. They’ve had over $155M of backer money, but yet somehow, they can’t seem to be able to build what most of us experienced devs deem to be rudimentary technology which, graphics aside, any competent developer with experience in the field, could have built by now. When you look at the amazing ground breaking work being done in the genre by small indie devs like myself and others (Helion, Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe etc), you have to wonder wtf is going on with this project – and where did all this money go? Heck, Line Of Defense only has one populated planet, but it has four heavily populated, and fully built bases, complete with day/night cycles, weather patterns, unique topology etc.
As I wrote in an update from yesterday. All they had to do was this:
- Pick the right engine (not CryEngine) or build a custom engine from one that wasn’t designed primarily for one type of game
- Build the world editing tools for creating both space and planetary terrain
- Build the space terrain so that the entire space world (as seen in the Star Map) is there
- Build the space related missions and features
- Build the planetary tech. Since this would be isolated from all of the above, it doesn’t break continuity because, like what ED did, once you have it working, you LATER just edit your space world to handle planet entry into planets and moons
- Build the planet related missions and features
But no, that was too easy, and they had an incompetent buffoon who hasn’t worked in a dev team, let alone build a fucking game in almost two decades, at the helm. I would bet that, aside from Squadron 42 requiring ALL the tech they’re building for Star Citizen, it too probably has planet based missions. Which is probably why they’re now having to build this in 3.0, instead of fleshing out a “game”, then adding that later. All this time could have been spent on 3-4 above to keep backers happy and dropping their knickers with each patch. Then you hit them with planetary tech one day – and boom – all their clothes come off. But you see, as backers have been giving them money this whole time, they had no reason to plan properly, let alone show meaningful progress. I mean, 6 years + $155M later, look at this shit. LOOK AT IT!!
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
3.0 EVOCATI WATCH
So according to the totally legit dev schedule, the Evocati (elite of the elite backer testers only) release window starts today, and through to Aug 3rd. If that one crashes less, it will then go to the Public Test Universe (pleb backer testers) which has a release window of Aug 7th to the 18th. The final release of 3.0 currently has a window of Aug 8th to the 25th.
From what I am hearing, of course they’re not bloody well likely to make any of those dates, unless they just throw it out there. After all, GamesCom is Aug 22nd – 26th, and that’s their second (only to CitizenCon in Oct) largest yearly fundraising drive where they get to lie – a lot – to keep up the facade, while fleecing gullible backers.
I will be at GamesCom this year, because I believe that it will be their last one. That is all.
NEW CONCEPT SALE – JULY 21
So of course now that they are rushing to implement moons in the upcoming 3.0 build, it makes sense that they would want to give players vehicles to drive around. There’s the Nox racer, a sort of hover bike, but today they unveiled the Cyclone, 4-wheel vehicle. Note that this is a “concept” sale. Meaning that it exists only in pictures. No model. No implementation in the game. And no guarantees that the project would still exist by the time they get around to implementing this vehicle. There are many concept ships they previously sold, and which are still not in the game in any way, shape, or forum.
2016 FLASHBACK – GERMAN MEDIA DUMPING GROUND
Over the years, due to the size of the fan base there, as well as having a studio in country, CIG has made German media their dumping ground for Star Citizen propaganda because those guys will print anything. The US media, aside from few updates, are basically now taking a wait and see approach. This one, Star Citizen – New screenshots and details for version 2.7 unveiled, was back in July 2016 – a year ago this month – when procgen planets were totally coming in the 2.7 patch (which morphed into what we now know to be 3.0) due out later that year. Please read it. It’s absolutely hilarious.
2014 FLASH BACK – PERSISTENT LIES
As far back as late 2014, having completely missing the original Nov 2014 ship date, increased the project scope and funding to the tune of $65M, they were still doing bullshots being passed off as in-game, while touting this massive world they claim they were building.
“The cities are done to such a level of detail that it would be totally impractical to build each one from scratch,” Zurovec said. “As a result, we’ve adopted a multi-step process whereupon once the art assets have been created and properly set up, we can quickly create a lot of areas that look dramatically different.” – Tony Zurovek, Polygon Interview 2014
2012 FLASH BACK – THE ADVENT OF A DISASTER
Long before I got involved in this farce, and promised never to quit until either 1) CIG and/or Chris Roberts apologizes to me for lying about why they refunded me and 2) CIG comes clean with backers about the true state of the project and the finances, a lot of industry vets and media, already saw the signs of lofty promises and the potential for disaster.
One such person was Ben Kuchera who, in an Oct 2012 Penny Arcade article, called Star Citizen “a bad bet”, to which Chris Roberts responded (because why not?). These are some of the statements which, when you look back, you have to wonder how Chris Roberts is going to explain away how he ended up not only blowing through over $150M of backer money, plus what most believe to be investor money, bank loans etc, to the tune of over $285M (source rumors) on a project which , six years later, isn’t even 15% completed. It’s also one of the earliest statements (the other was to The Mittani) he made, in which he claimed that there was already a working build of Star Citizen from back in 2011.
GORF’S BACK! HE BROUGHT A SHIT-STORM.
You think I’m verbose? Then you don’t know Gorf, a highly regarded (even Shitizens scurry for cover when Gorf writes) member of the Goon enclave. After creating what has become the de facto standard for backer outrage in his Star Marine chronicles, he had taken a step back from following the project. So, without notice or forewarning, what did he do this time?
He created a 3.0 infographic which has the Star Citizen community ablaze, while sending ripples throughout the far reaches of known space. You simply can’t argue with pictures. And Gorf loves his pictures.
He also penned a memo to backers.
So it took me awhile to read through all the comments about the chart on /Games. Though there were lots of crazed invocations of Derek Smart, demonizations of goons, and other overreactions, I did see a few fair criticisms that I’ve addressed in this latest update.
1). The inclusion of the reduction percentages was redundant. Fair enough. I deleted that.
2) Chris’ quote didn’t include his “I get shot for making promises but that’s our goal” escape clause, the line that retroactively makes it all okay. So I included that, too.
3) I also added his mention of the 30 to 40 space stations that would be coming in 3.0. (We’ll see how that turns out.)
4) I also fixed a graphical problem that had white boxes behind the Planet names in the Stanton layout.
So here’s the latest version. If you’re a DS lurker who feels like the last one was flawed or shortchanged Chris’s quote, hopefully you might find this an improvement. I’m trying to be fair, even if stern.
I have to admit, lurking friends, some of your reactions were a little frustrating, given that I’d tried to avoid editorializing. The focus of the piece was timelines, quotes, and scopes for Star Systems in Alpha 3.0.
The accusations that the infographic was a part of some organized FUD campaign were especially ironic, given that some of you tried to preemptively trying to counter an anticipated Derek Smart tweet and in so doing ended up creating a non-paywalled source for the r/Games OP to reference.
“They put so much work into this. We record it we make some comments and that’s it. Smarties have absolutely no reach beyond their own echo chamber”
I didn’t make the chart hoping for a r/GAMES thread to blow up, or a MassivelyOP mention, or a psychodrama to unfold on r/DS. I made it for my friends here on the forum, most of whom I haven’t interacted with in a year, because organizing historical facts is something I like to do. It’s clear to us by now that Chris Roberts doesn’t learn from history because he keeps repeating it, so we keep discussing it, yet what I don’t understand is why you keep defending it?
Surely I have my own biases, as do we all, but why rage about what strangers think on some random forum? Your recurring tendency to discount the observable past while exaggerating the imagined future produces the present tensions that discomfit you so. The relief you seek yet can’t find won’t come from excoriating random nobodies for discussing their opinions about troubling development issues or deceptive sales tactics. You are the publisher. The ones to whom pledges have been made for accountability and openness. You’re intellectually and emotionally malnourished from the parody of it served up by a guy who believes himself accountable to no one and above all reproach. A man who hasn’t once in the entire history of this project ever apologized for anything despite having either intentionally or inadvertently mislead you about matters of genuine consequence for years.
You deserve better than to be full-time apologists for that. I sincerely believe that — why don’t you?”
Gorf’s 3.0 infographicJuly 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm #5543
So last week, German (It has to be them, because US media mostly don’t give a shit anymore because they know what’s coming) magazine, GameStar, had an interview with CIG whereby they claimed to have “played” the upcoming Alpha 3.0. You know, just like they have all these past years even though basically nothing they’ve written, has actually been released yet. And they did the same thing, on the same subject, almost a year ago – again to another German magazine. You should see all the ridiculous claims and promises in that one.
Anyway, since it’s the usual Shillizen nonsense, especially with the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26) coming up in Germany, most of us just laughed. You’d be surprised how much funnier this Star Citizen crap is when you’re reading a German to English translation. Not to mention the irony of backers having to read critical info from the media. This after having to date donated almost $155M to the project. It’s hilarious.
Aside from my usual Twitter trolling for lols, I mostly ignored, and discounted it as the usual rubbish that only desperate backers would pay any attention to. The backers in the Reddit threads (1, 2) were mostly aghast and/or pensive, for the most part. When I finally got to read a proper translation over the weekend, I realized just how right I was. It’s all the usual pandering bullshit, with zero accountability for the fact that the project, after 6 years and $155M (backer money only), is nowhere as complete today, as it was back in 2015. Without any bias, I say that with the utmost sincerity. Below are all the major milestone releases. Here are all the patch releases. Also in April 2015, they revised the patch numbering scheme.
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
So now it’s looking a lot like, with half the year gone, and the last 2.6.3 patch having been released back in April, that this year’s biggest update is going to be 3.0 (Moons!). And according to Chris Roberts at GamesCom 2016, it was supposedly due (On Nov 2, 2016, I wrote an article which cited sources had indicated that 3.0 didn’t even exist) back in Dec 2016; but backers got a consolation prize in the form of the immediately forgettable (seriously, nobody is playing it) Star Marine. And when you look at the sheer amount of work left to do, it’s easy to see how insurmountable their task it.
But enough of that. I wanted to talk about some specific items in the article that caught my attention, and which have also been the subject of much talk and controversy.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED – AGAIN
You do know that since Summer 2015 I’ve been saying this, right? And that since SQ42 relies on ALL the tech for Star Citizen, that there is no way in hell that game ever comes out without that tech being in place. They denied it in 2015. It didn’t release. They denied it in 2016 – even went to the media and said the rumors were rubbish. It didn’t release. It’s not coming out in 2017 folks. So stop talking about it.
They are planning for 7 – 14 missions, depending on how things go with the 3.0 release. This is interesting because, like with 2.0x, in which they created some space missions which quickly became repetitive, that’s basically where they’re going with this too.
SPACE <–> PLANET TRANSITION
The article says that via the starmap, they jumped to the outside of Delamar (moon), then flew down through the atmosphere to the surface below.
If you have been following my writings about this (1, 2), then at this point you can safely utter the words “Derek Smart was right” because since last year when Chris Roberts was touting procedural planets and all that rubbish, I had said that due to the engine, they probably couldn’t do whole planets, let alone procedural ones, or features promised such as orbiting planets, atmospheric day & night effects etc. Instead, they would have to create these surface areas as they would a standard “level”, using a combination of procedural (terrain and asset generation), and hand-crafted areas (derelicts, landing bases). And in the end they would have to access them the same way that Elite Dangerous does. In fact, what you would end up with is basically another entity object similar to their base in space with a landing platform, but created as a moon. Note that fps on planets was a $20M stretch goal, and they got a $1M spending bonus for procedural tech R&D when they hit $41M.
As a game developer and designer, I really have no problems with this because you have to work with what you have. And that’s the problem with making promises that you have to keep down the road. However, when you fund your own game, along the way, you can add and remove anything you want – with impunity and without consequences. Even in Early Access. But with crowd-funding, as the FTC and State AGs have said in all the cases they’ve pursued, if you make a promise, you have to keep it. No exceptions. You can’t take money to deliver a Gold box, then deliver a brass box, and say that’s the end of that, you’ve delivered.
Anyway, if they pull off this Minimal Viable Product of planetary access in 3.0, and assuming they can overcome the performance issues I’ve been writing about, that should probably keep some backers happy. Until they run through the content in one sitting; realize it’s all repetitive and shallow, and not really a “game”. Then we’re back in the lol trenches again.
“An artist can crank out five or six moons in a week for you,” Roberts told us, emphasizing that “once you’ve got your building blocks, somethings will be quicker. There isn’t going to be a matter where we hit a magic number and, ‘boof,’ here comes a planet” –Chris Roberts on procedural planets in Sept 2016.
Landing on a moon and base in Elite Dangerous
Marco Corbetta and Carsten Wenzel saying that the StarEngine currently has 10% CryEngine and 90% of their code, is interesting. It makes absolutely no sense, seeing as they claimed to have switched to LumberYard in about a day. That was back in Dec 2016 when 2.6 was released.
LumberYard is based on CryEngine 3.x, and Amazon didn’t make any fundamental (in dev speak) changes to it, other than bug fixes, various improvements, as well as adding AWS support and some supporting features for it. It’s all right there in their changelog. If what these guys are saying is true, and I don’t doubt that it is, then it completely confirms my theory that they didn’t “switch” to LumberYard at all. Instead, they merged the parts (e.g. as of this writing, they still can’t get the LumberYard implementation of Render-To-Texture to work) they needed, replaced Google Compute with AWS as is required by Amazon, and continued on from there.
From what I have heard, this move could be due to their original CryTek engine license which may either have royalties, or some sort of “units sold” threshold, like most licenses from years ago used to have. Which also begs the question of how they are going to get around the issue of the competing (LumberYard) engine clause, which, anyone who has seen a legacy CryTek engine license contract, probably knows is one of the bullet points.
In addition to the above, some have speculated that this switch is probably due to CryTek’s financial state, their ability to provide on-going support for CryEngine etc. Well uhm, if you’re only using 10% of CryEngine, what do you need CryTek support for?
“I talked to publishers about doing a fourth Elite game, but some things happened. Publishers were skeptical of space games in general because of the financial failure of Freelancer, an early 2000’s game. It was delayed. It’s a nice game, but in that period, they were just incredibly skeptical.
When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer. Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.” – David Braben, Rolling Stones, 2016
SERVER CAPACITY & CLIENT SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
They’re still talking about 24 clients on a server, though nobody seems to want to mention that it’s a theoretical limit and which only works in the social module. Any game instance running more than 8 clients, is a horrid experience. So with the much touted networking core improvement – which isn’t going to make much difference anyway – moved out of 3.0 and now defered into 3.1, with the added moons in the instance, it makes sense now why they are having performance issues with 3.0.
Listen, lets face it, with their current engine and architecture, they’re never going to be able to build the MMO they touted. Assuming they survive even a year past the 3.0 launch, there is no way they’re going to get from where they are (an instanced session based game) now, to an MMO (instanced or otherwise).
Not to mention the fact that, just like Elite Dangerous, the game’s architecture means that if they can’t make enough money to be paying huge AWS bills for their cloud servers, they’re going to have serious issues. It’s almost as if they should have been thinking about private servers – as promised – years ago so that when (not if, they’re fucked – completely) the project collapses, at least backers can continue to play the game thereafter.
They also claimed to have played the 3.0 demo on a 32GB machine with an i7-5930K CPU and Nvidia GTX 980 GPU. They claimed 30 fps, without specifically saying whether that was in space or on the Delamar moon, nor how many people were in the demo. But who cares about such details, right? Right now, there are backers with beefier systems having horrid performance with 2.6.3. But somehow for 3.0, they’ve come up with some magic Juju that’s going to make an upcoming build with a major content update, run on those same systems at the same or faster performance rate. I can’t wait to play it.
A TOTAL OF 5 – 10 SYSTEMS AT LAUNCH
Chris Roberts (@14:14) talking about 100 star systems – Sept 2015
This one has been the cause of much discussion since the article was published.
Considering that at $6M stretch goal they promised 100 systems, with 7 (1 exclusive to pre-launch backers) more promised between $18M and $40M stretch goals, and 500+ planets, with even the game’s universe description still touting 100 systems at launch, this one was hilarious to say the least.
Hey, at least they seem to have confirmed what I’ve been saying that the world isn’t procedurally generated at all. Which, now that it’s clear, I can see how they are now talking about 5 – 10 systems at launch because, given the tools we’ve seen, and the sheer amount of work required to build each of these “levels” with points of interest, landing zones etc, it would take another decade or more for them to build the world they promised. Shockingly, a world this size, was built by a single person over two decades ago, using a combination of scripts and procedural techniques. And it contains entire planets and moons, complete with various eco-systems, climate zones, planetary day/night transitions, orbiting & rotating planets and moons etc. Ah yeah, good times.
A lot of backers forget that though they were in the stretch goals, CIG announced procedurally generated planets back in February 2014. They showed an R&D demo during the holiday stream in 2015. Then in July 2016, again in a German magazine, they announced it as coming in 2.7 (the patch that became 3.0).
Anyway, this sounded so ridiculous to me, that I held of commenting on it before hearing back from my sources. Excerpt says it all.
“Nobody here reads what chris and erin tell the media. We still have to deal with scripted and directed shows most don’t want to be in. So if he told G* we’re planning that number at launch, I personally don’t know about it. It could be one of those things he just prattles on about or a lost in translation thing. Did they say he said that, or was it coming from a designer they met with? We don’t even have a launch date for either game, so how can that person know how many systems we would have at launch? Did you see the chatter on Spectrum related to Levski not being in 3.0 and a designer who should know but didn’t? It’s like the loan, none of us knew until we read about it online. I didn’t know about it until I got the chatter about Ortwin’s official statement on Spectrum. I saw your other email about an MVP. We don’t have that. Nobody is working toward that. We are just working on what we have to and doing the best that we can. I will check around about that other thing* and get back you, but I don’t know what they are planning now because 3.0 isn’t in any state to be released in Aug. Keep watching the schedule for the pattern I mentioned in my other email.”
* That was a prior exchange related to whether or not they would be releasing 3.0 as-is because of GamesCom, or if they would delay it again past Aug 25th in order to address the missing features and performance issues. If you haven’t been keeping up with the dev schedules, you should read the analysis of the 07-14-17 one in which a bunch of things were delayed, but the target release date never changed. Yeah, they’ve invented a time dilation machine.May 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm #5256
STAR CITIZEN HITS $150 MILLION CROWD-FUNDING MARK
So today another of my Star Citizen predictions has come true.
By the virtues of about 2000 whales still funding this train-wreck, and who just spent over $500K+ buying the latest $250 concept ship JPEG (seriously, it’s not a model, and is not in the game. It’s just an image of a ship), Star Citizen crossed the $150 million mark. At this point, though several sources have claimed that the funding chart is grossly inaccurate, we have to continue to go with the number they are showing to the public.
- They couldn’t build the game as pitched. So far, with all the stuff they’ve cut or botched, this is playing out to be true. In year six, they still don’t even have 25% of one game, let alone two games. And they had a delivery date of Nov 2014, with a 12, then 18 month delay period to May 2016. Even though Chris Roberts had said numerous times that increased stretch goals won’t affect the delivery timeline, the game is now officially over three years late. Remember that at $65 million raised in Nov 2014, both games – including all stretch goals – were 100% funded.
- They needed a robust custom engine to do it. In 2016, we come to find out that they were making the switch from StarEngine (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.7 to Lumberyard (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.8). As I wrote in my Irreconcilable Differences blog, they evaluated this engine throughout 2016 without notifying backers because they knew that it may cause some concern. In the Dec 2016 release of the 2.6 patch, it was finally noticed when they switched from Google’ Compute cloud services to Amazon’s AWS cloud services (via the LumberYard implementation).
- They needed a stellar team with the experience. So far, a lot of talented people, including several third-party studios, have come and gone. Those left have never – ever – developed any massive game before, let alone an MMO. Meanwhile, some of those who are left are parroting the same lies that Chris has been telling backers regarding the true state of the project. The most recent being that whole argument about how the switch to LumberYard took days and that it was already finished. Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Sean Tracey, and Ben Parry, among others, are on the record supporting this lie. Even though several sources (both past and present) working on this very same project, have stated that it’s all patently false, that they have been having serious problems with the switch, that it has completely skewed their schedule etc. For example, the latest schedule released today, delays the project by almost 50% since it first went online on April 14th, 2017. And one of those listed delays is related to their merging of the volumetric fog from the LumberYard engine into their own custom build.
- Even if they had all of the above, that they couldn’t possibly do it for less than $150 million. Well, here we are at that amount, and still not even 25% of a game, let alone two games.
Meanwhile, even with the events playing in the background regarding their financial situation (which various sources say is dire), their on-going attempts to seek additional outside funding, and quite possibly to sell off to a third-party (I still don’t believe the Amazon rumors btw), as they have done in the past, they continue to keep backers in the dark. What’s going to be interesting is that several weeks from now when it all goes public, as I expect that it will, people are going to wonder what Chris Roberts knew, and when he knew it.
Make no mistake, raising money isn’t a crime. And if you have a group of naive people willing to give it to you, even though your project is super late, isn’t even out of pre-Alpha in year six, recently made a critical engine switch, and still doesn’t even have 25% (that’s being generous) of the features promised, you should take the money and run.
For the rest of you sensible ones still putting in for refunds (this is a $4,300 refund from today) to get off this train-wreck, rest assured that in the coming months you will see what most of us have been saying.July 7, 2017 at 9:41 am #5501
CRAFTING PROCEDURAL MOONS
So the latest AtV broadcast is online. This one had a high degree of anticipation because it is supposed to showcase the “procedural moons” coming in the 3.0 build. To be honest, as a 3D developer, though none of it is new to me, from a technical standpoint, I thought this was a good and informative episode for backers.
The most interesting parts are at 12:30, 21:25, 23:15.
As I’ve said before, as these things go, clearly these guys are doing their best to make a game like this with a custom engine that simply isn’t able to do it. It doesn’t matter what they do with their custom engine, they are never – ever – going to be able to pull off the game they want to build, and at the scale they are shooting for. Like at all. Their biggest problem, as I said back in 2015, is the underlying CryEngine core, which was never designed for this. And even with Amazon’s LumberYard (which they switched to late last year) having done some nifty things to CryEngine, in addition to fixing bugs etc, they’ve still got an uphill battle.
Last year when they started touting “procedural planets”, most backers were of the impression that this refers to how the world is generated rather than how the terrain (planets and moons) is generated using various tools, including middleware such as World Machine (what they are said to be using). There is a huge difference between “procedural worlds” and “procedural terrain”; even if you consider space itself to be terrain. When you build the world in an editor, instead of using data scripts, they’re “hand crafted”. When it comes to world creation, there is a difference between No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous; or Infinity Battlescape and Call Of Duty Infinite War.
You can have the best of both technologies, but that would depend on your tools and expertise. For example, in my legacy Battlecruiser / Universal Combat games, I used both world and terrain procedural generation technologies which, believe it or not, were built as far back as the nineties when most of this was considered alchemy. Over the years, as hardware and software improved, a lot of that work was improved upon, across various derivative versions of those games, while retaining the underlying architecture. You can download Universal Combat CE on Steam, and also the modding tools which explain the underlying tech, and check it out for yourself. This Vimeo movie which I made back in Dec 2015, shows how the space and planetary worlds are handled in Universal Combat CE which has a massive galaxy containing standard and gas giant planets, as well as moons. And you can enter all of them; some you can exit in fps mode without dying. You can land on a planet, exit your craft in fps, go to an external camera view, and zoom all the way out to show the sense of scale.
It’s pretty much like alchemy
“As if all that wasn’t bad enough, having dropped the pretext of doing procedural planets in the game world, in a June 22nd broadcast of Around The Verse, they showed a segment (FF to 26:46) showcasing a new tool – outside of the CryEditor – that’s basically barebones for manual entity placement. In a “level” based world. Essentially, this tool basically sets up the world entities – and has nothing to do with the actual creation of the 110 star systems and 500+ planets and moons they have yet to manually create (in the CryEditor) for the game. And as of the upcoming 3.0, they are still struggling to create even the three moons promised; even after removing the promised planet from the schedule. Six years later, they are still building tools. For a game that was supposed to have been released in Nov 2014.”
The problem is going to be compounded by the fact that, from what I can see and tell from their engine design, it is going to be a major task to have entire planets and/or moons in the game world, and which players can enter/exit as seen in games like Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe, Universal Combat etc. Performance and memory requirements aside, that level of fidelity is near impossible with their engine. Which explains why they have since switched from that sort of talk, to now doing smaller moons and planetoids – similar to how Elite Dangerous does them. What’s left to be seen is how they end up adding them to the game world. After adding the moon|planetoid entity to the scene/level, there are only two ways of doing it:
- Use a proximity based trigger point to signal a transition from space to surface – and vice versa – with or without a loading screen to mask the scene loading
- Use a real entity based model which facilitates a seamless transition from space to surface – and vice versa. No loading screen needed.
To visualize the above in Star Citizen : start the game, leave your quarters, grab a ship, take off from the station, target a moon, fly to it, then seamlessly transition into it, or waiting for a loading screen after you hit the trigger point around the object which signals a transition.
While this AtV isn’t showing mostly what is coming in 3.0, it appears to be a combination of rudimentary things coming in 3.0, combined with on-going R&D for what they think they’re going to be able to pull off in the long term. I mention this because there is a frame where they were showing a cross-section cutout of a planet, in which the cutout shows an area with vegetation, despite the fact that the upcoming moons and planetoids are barren landscapes.
Bullshot 3.0 video – CitizenCon Oct 2016
And as they’ve done so many times in the past (as recently as CitizenCon 2016 in which they showed what was purportedly coming in 3.0, due out before Dec 19th, 2016), instead of, you know, showing actual game play for a patch that’s supposedly less than a month away, they’re still making editor-based movie bullshots (see the Reclaimer @ 26:37 in the AtV video) which have zero correlation to the actual game client they’re releasing. Except this one is Pupil To Planet (Dec 2015) redux for 2017.
Coming soon in 2.0 – Aug 2015
CitizenCon Oct 2016 vs AtV July 2017
BONUS: If you really want to have a good laugh, take a look at this YouTube doubler video showing the same planet to space zooming between Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. Yeah.
PERFORMANCE – THE BANE OF 3D WORLDS
Though parts of this presentation was running in the game editor, and low frame rates are usually expected – especially for an Alpha – depending on what is being rendered, the performance issues which are already existent in every build of Star Citizen, (including the current 2.6.3 build released back in April) client and server, are only going to get a whole lot worse as they try to increase the size of the world, add more stuff to it etc.
You did notice parts of the broadcast where 4 airborne clients in the scene, with the frame rate at around a constant 15 fps; while other parts showed 20 fps on the ground?
You did? Right. That’s absolutely horrific.
Especially when you consider that the scenes are already barren, and mostly built off repetitive (you can see the patterns if you look closely e.g. in the rock formations) procedural entities. In the existing 2.6.3 build, you can hardly get 8 clients in an instance, without either the server falling over, or the client dying. Now imagine having those 8 clients in 3.0, on a moon, all of them flying around, or hovering (they don’t touch the terrain) across the terrain in a Dragonfly or Nox. And firing weapons. Or running around in fps mode. All of that with physics and collisions active. Then just wait until they add pathfinding and AI, and all that to the mix; not to mention gameplay elements such as mining.
And before you utter their buzzwords and terms such as “network bind culling” or “serialized variables”, don’t. It has nothing to do with that. And even if and when they somehow magically got those two networking features implemented, it’s not going to be a huge performance gain either way. Which is probably one of the reasons why neither is in the schedule, or continues to be delayed.
@7:52 : we have “a full universe simulation” with about “20 million AI units” – Aug 2015
@0:22 : “digging and drilling holes, and going inside” and “mining asteroids” – Dec 2014
Back in late June, a source had told me that they were having some serious performance issues with this build, and that they had no idea how they are even going to release it within the current schedule given. I wrote about that back on June 24th. Excerpt:
“BREAKING two sources have now confirmed that 3.0 is such a technological nightmare, and performance hog, that nobody knows how they are going to end up releasing it within the current time frame; let alone for GamesCom.
Recently (well, before GamesCom 2016), I said that they simply didn’t have the tech to do procedurally generated planets, that the pitched 3.0 was bullshit dipped in Ether. Less than 6 months later, 3.0 has been significantly scaled back. And has moons – in a level – instead of procedural planets (shown in an elaborate R&D video showcase posing as in-game).
I have no doubt that they will probably release something called 3.0, then continue to update it. They did the same thing with 2.0. Right up to 2.6.x”
Today’s dev schedule update is going to be interesting if it’s like last week’s (which I wrote about here) in which the 3.0 release window was again pushed, but further and all the way to Aug 10th, with a huge list of items delayed or changed to TBD status.
The proximity of this AtV broadcast, to the upcoming 3.0 release date – both knocking up against the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26), one of their biggest yearly funding drives – is also going to factor in whether or not 3.0 actually releases before, during, or after the show. And given the amount of work that seems to be going into this 3.0 build, it is safe to say that it’s going to be the only major release this year. This is similar to 2.0 in 2015, and 2.6 in 2016. So once this is released, it’s probably going to be 3.0x until they get to 3.1. If they even get that far, seeing as they are now rumored to be having financial issues.
And if 3.0 isn’t released within the stated period, or is released with most of the promises cut, with major performance issues etc, my guess is that they’re still going to be doing bullshots while peddling the promise and dreams of things yet to come – six years, and over $153 million later.June 30, 2017 at 10:00 am #5447
DOES A BANK NOW OWN STAR CITIZEN?
Over the past weekend, a huge furor erupted after I wrote and article and a blog announcing that CIG/F42 in the UK had taken out a loan with a bank, and that bank now “owned” (this is debatable as per Section 4-5 of the docs) both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen.
As I dug deeper, and heard from various people who had some knowledge and insight to the matter, I decided to write the Final Countdown blog about it. Due to the fluidity of the situation, I have since updated (scroll to the bottom) that blog three times to cover various aspects of this developing story.
Not wanting to increase the length of the blog again, and seeing various nonsensical and false reports and opinions by some gaming “media” and Star Citizen streamers (most of whom have a financial incentive to mislead backers), I decided to write this in-depth article about why I believe that Coutts Bank, not only has secured Squadron 42 as collateral, but in doing so, also holds certain aspects of Star Citizen in collateral as well.
Collateral means the Chargor’s right, title and interest in and to (i) the property charged pursuant to Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 hereof and (ii) the property assigned pursuant to Clause 5 hereof; excluding in all cases the Excluded Collateral;
Excluded Collateral means (i) the assets that have been charged pursuant to the Nat West Security Agreement; and (ii) all Intellectual Property Rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Also on p7
4.2.2 the Game Assets and the Distribution Rights
4.2.5 all digital material and sound and visual material made or to be made incorporating or reproducing all or any part of the Game
By process of elimination, we know that “Game” refers to Squadron 42. This is because there are only two games (Star Citizen & Squadron 42) in this project. And the former is mentioned in “Excluded Collateral”.
NOTE: These are all FACTS, no hypothesis, conjecture, hyperbole, or opinion.
- Star Citizen (hereinafter “SC”) is the multiplayer aspect of the game. It consists of various “disconnected modules” which are: Arena Commander (space combat), Star Marine (2 level FPS), Hangar (3D ship viewer), Planetside (shopping/social), Persistent Universe (all-encompassing space combat in larger universe).
- Squadron 42 (hereinafter “SQ42”) is the stand-alone, story driven, single player portion of the game, with Hollywood talent acting the cutscenes.
- SC was developed using a custom engine which uses CryEngine 3.x as it’s core baseline. The only “custom” in the code, are top-level elements (e.g. 64-Bit space addressing) added to create their own “game engine” aka StarEngine. This is similar to Unity3D, UE4 etc which are baseline engines to which you add your own assets, code (internal or via plugins developed by others) etc to make your game.
- In late 2016, without any prior notice, it was discovered (by me) that CIG had switched to Amazon’s LumberYard (also a more recent subset of CryEngine). I cover this extensively in my 2016-12-27 – Irreconcilable Differences blog.
- Both SC & SQ42 are developed using StarEngine (currently undergoing the switch from base CryEngine to LumberYard – 6 yrs into development)
- Both SC & SQ42 take place in the same world, and share the same IP (more on this later). All the same ships, places, weapons etc are part of both games.
- The only assets which are unique to SQ42, are the cut-scenes, musical score (SC has its own), story-driven dialog based script etc
- Without all the tech, tools, and common assets in SC, there can be no SQ42.
I have 1st hand knowledge of how that last item works, because I have done it. In 2006, I started working on All Aspect Warfare, a combined-arms game with no space combat. In early 2009, ahead of the game’s release, the community were saying that the aerial flight combat aspects of the game were worth being it’s own game. So I came up with Angle Of Attack which used the same engine and all the same assets. However, it had no FPS aspect, had its own aerial only missions, it’s own multiplayer session (AAW clients cannot connect to AOA and vice versa). I released both games in 2009, and sold them separately, as well as in a bundle. The game’s movies and screen shots show the differences in gameplay, though they share the same basic components. So, without AAW, there can be no AOA.
“Excluded Collateral” excludes the following:
- the company’s income bank account secured via a prior NatWest bank loan which we believe to be a Line Of Credit. Note that NatWest, like Coutts, is also owned by RBS. So basically, two arms of the same company, made these loans.
- all Intellectual Property rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Item (2) above is the point of contention as it pertains to how some of us believe that the collateral in 4.2.5, came to inadvertently include parts of SC, namely the tech (source code) due to it being used to develop SQ42.
The reason for this position is that there is no feasible way to strip Star Citizen from SQ42, without affecting that game as a whole. ergo, there is no SQ42 without critical components of SC.
Some (like me) argue that “Intellectual Property” defined in “Excluded Collateral”, does not cover everything about Star Citizen, and that as a result, parts of Star Citizen cannot be excluded in this manner, due to the SQ42 dependency.
Others disagree (possibly due to ignorance of how IP law works) with this assessment. Even as they ignore that the same section specifically mentions an aspect, “materials”, which would normally be covered under “Intellectual Property” if it was such an all-encompassing and broad definition – which it isn’t. The other aspects, “exploitation”, “distribution”, “other rights”, “all title”, “interest”, are not generally covered in IP definitions.
The “Intellectual Property” definition which includes Star Citizen, is ambiguous enough to cause a dispute in the event that this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure everything related to SQ42 as defined in Section 4. And specific to this, is the carefully worded 4.2.5 which some of us contend, will include the Star Citizen tech, and various assets by the mere fact that they are 100% REQUIRED in order to make SQ42 the “Game” defined, and understood by the bank, to be what they secured as part of this loan. To the extent that they went to great pains to itemized various “Game” components and rights, without ever resorting to using a blanket “Intellectual Property” term to secure them, as they did in “Excluded Collateral”. I wonder why that is.
The argument continues in which, despite the fallacy within, some people have convinced themselves that “Intellectual Property” – as it pertains to SOFTWARE – almost always includes source code, tech etc. That opinion is pure and utter NONSENSE. The reason being, every good software contract that seeks to define IP, will list what that definition entails, in the same way that the bank used an itemized Section 4 to list what the “Charges” under this loan contain.
It boils down to this:
- some contracts DO NOT itemize software in Intellectual Property definitions because it is “supposedly” (FYI, it’s not) a common knowledge assumption that it would invariably include “source code”.
- some contracts DO itemize Intellectual Property so that there is no ambiguity as to what rights are included
Any good IP lawyer will immediately tell you that in software IP, item #1 above is an immediate legal problem if it were to end up in dispute that a source code for the works (e.g. a video game) was in dispute. One common example – which has in fact resulted in various court cases – is whereby a company, owning an IP, hires a contractor to create some work (art, script, code) for the IP. If the 1099 “work for hire” contract doesn’t clearly stipulate who owns what, and a dispute arises down the road – for whatever reason (e.g. contractor seeks unpaid amounts for their work), that’s a problem. If an employer finds out that an employee is working on a part-time project, while on their clock, they could have a valid claim to his work, regardless of any claims to IP by the employee. See Zenimax v Oculus.
Comparing IP works of art, writings, movies etc to that of software, is the dumbest thing ever. As is the notion that, Intellectual Property automatically encompasses everything associated with the “works” in question.
All the above considered, my opinion remains that if this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure it’s collateral assets, and they find out that they really don’t have all the components of the “Game”, they would have a case for either misrepresentation, not negotiating in good faith, or worse, bank fraud (as this security was in exchange for money).
There is also an issue with the fact that the games use Amazon’s Lumberyard. Like all engine licenses, it can neither be re-assigned, nor sold. This means that in the event that the bank succeeds in securing these assets, the buyer would be subject to the licenses of all third-party middleware contained within. In the case of LumberYard, while free to use, the buyer would only “own” those components which are not the “LumberYard engine proper”.
To be clear:
THERE IS NO CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH THIS LOAN DEFAULTS, THE BANK SUCCEEDS IN TAKING CONTROL OF SQUADRON 42, SEEKS TO SELL IT ETC, WHILE CIG/F42, AFTER GIVING THE BANK WHAT AMOUNTS TO A “DUD” ASSET AS DEFINED IN THE “GAME”, GOES ON THEIR MERRY WAY TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP, DISTRIBUTE, AND SELL, STAR CITIZEN AS A SEPARATE AND NON-COMPETING ENTITY.
This graphic which someone created, illustrates the issue that is being discussed in very clear detail.May 24, 2017 at 9:34 am #5263
STAR CITIZEN MULTIPLAYER INSTANCING
In my Irreconcilable Differences blog, I wrote extensively about the instancing issue and how they stand very little chance of ever getting past the broken underlying architecture that they currently have in StarEngine. In a Feb 2017 interview, Erin Roberts made the following comment:
“So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.“
- They have no clue what they’re doing.
- When they do get a clue, it would be revealed to them that they have to gut their entire networking layer to implement what they are aiming for.
- They’re fucked. Completely.
“so we were reading that this dynamic local instancing will try it’s best to put you in the same instance as friends and people/ things of interest. so if you were a pirate, and were following your prey.. are you guaranteed to jump into the same instance or is there a chance it’s all in vein and you lose them? based on yall’s dynamic local instancing system?“
“In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader(1). Matchmaking tries to put you in the same instance as your friends, but beyond that it is luck of the draw which instance you will end up in(2). However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance(3).
There quite a few engineering hurdles we need to overcome before this can happen. Server performance needs to improve a lot, so there are several tasks to address this that are either currently underway or in the schedule(4). This will only get us so far though, and won’t be enough to fill a solar system with players and NPCs. To go further we are going to have to connect multiple servers together in something we’re calling a “server mesh.” Each server will take on the processing load for a region of space, and these regions will adjust their boundaries to best balance that load with their neighbors. You will be able to see (and fire) across the boundary from one server to another, and, as you fly through space, will move seamlessly from one server to another(5). We will also be able to dynamically add and remove servers to suit the current level of demand. This technology will allow us to scale almost without limit while keeping everyone in the same instance(6).
The problem we still need to figure out is how to handle everyone heading to the same place at the same time. I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution to that one, so it may require some game mechanic to prevent too many players congregating in the same place(7).
TL;DR – yes, once all the pieces are in place and the kinks have been worked out, you’ll be able to stalk your prey, and should always be in the same instance.”
Let me break it all down:
- I know for a fact, as do most backers who are actually playing this right now, that the server can’t handle more than 8 clients within the same locale without falling over. Let alone anywhere near 24 clients in Crusader (introduced in 2.0 released in Q4/2015), which is the core of the Star Citizen that started the “Persistent Universe”. Area 18, a glorified shopping center, can handle more players because, well, there’s nothing to do there except move around, look at, buy stuff etc.
- This is a glaring Red flag. There are lots of games, even those built with SteamWorks, that allow some form of grouping agnostic matchmaking, even for instanced games. For six years, since they started using cloud servers, they didn’t think that implementing the ability for clients to group, then all launch in the same instance, was a priority. Elite Dangerous, which also uses instancing, had this same issue during alpha and beta cycles. They address it with features such as Wing Beacons, nav-lock, private grouping etc. In fact, read this Elite: Dangerous’ 3,000-player battle royale article.
- This one is a head-scratcher. I hope that his use of “everyone” means those wanting to group with their friends in the same instance. If that’s not the case, then we’re back to the “they have no fucking clue” part, because there is no way they can get “everyone” in the same “instance”.
- Whatever that schedule is, it’s not public. The current schedule which goes all the way to 3.2, has no mention of anything related to any of what he wrote. In fact, the entire schedule page has 12 instances related to network implementation and/or revision; and none of those entries mentions anything like that. Not. One. Thing.
- This is all wishful thinking. If six years into the development of an MMO, you don’t have this stuff already completed or in progress, chances are it’s either never going to get done in the short-term (delays cost money, and when money runs out, the project is dead), or there was never an intention to actually do it. Make no mistake, everything he said there, are things that both Chris and Erin have said in the past.The reality is that it is simply not possible with their current networking framework which was built around CryEngine 3.7. And LumberYard (based on CryEngine 3.8), isn’t going to give them that because it too does not have support for any of that. They would have to build it themselves. Just like how Frontier did it for Elite Dangerous, and how we did it (FYI we don’t use instancing; so our server-to-server hops are live) for Line Of Defense.For one thing, they have touted this whole “seamless” 64-Bit space, which is one large “scene”. For them to do any sort of population control, they would have to split it up into boundaries. And each of those would then need to have a set of criteria that determines how many clients are allowed in there. And that involves a significant amount of work involving proxy server connections, data aggregation & collection, etc. The way we did pop-loc in LoD, is similar to how Planetside did it. You set a limit on the number of clients in a scene, then don’t allow any further connections until someone dies, drops off etc. And this is possible when you have low-level control – right from the start – of the scene management structure. In our Wide Span Global architecture we built this from the start so that each space or planet “scene” is controlled by a server connection. And that server is the arbiter that controls how clients can enter via jump anomalies (Dynamic Jump Pad, Jump Gate, high altitude insertion from space). If you try to enter a scene (e.g. Heatwave planetary base from Lyrius space) that has reached it’s server configured client limit, you’re stuck in Lyrius, and will have to keep trying. The messaging is all done from the connection interface for the jump anomaly which talks directly to the server. And this was all done right from the start and before we even had complete dynamics for fps, space craft, and vehicles in the game.And if they do manage to actually build all of that, they have a different problem. Players can EVA. So if they allow, say 64 clients per instance, guess what happens when you have 64 ships and 64 players in EVA. And that’s just assuming 1 player crew per ship. Imagine the hilarity if you have passengers, and cargo. And ships are shooting, EVA players are shooting. LMAO!! I can’t even.Let’s not even get into the whole issue with localized physics grids, which allow players to move around inside their space chariots in fps mode. That’s got it’s own performance and networking issues which are currently part of the problem they are faced with.
- Yeah, this is the part where any developer would start laughing. Basically, “scaling” implies “limits”. And when it comes to networking architecture, there is no such thing as “without limits”.
- And therein lies the rub that negates everything he said previously. Note the use of the phrases “will allow”, “still need to”, “how to”, “not sure” etc.If you have your pol-loc sorted out, there is no requirement to figure out how to handle “everyone heading to the same place at the same time”. The fact of the matter is that if you allow 64 clients per instance/shard, you should be prepared for the inevitable scenario that all of them are likely to end up in the same place at some point. Elite Dangerous planned for this, right off the bat. Which is why sessions in which over 900 players journeyed to Sagittarius A, was possible.Saying “I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution” simply means that, as I said, they really have no clue what they’re doing with this game. There is absolutely no way to prevent all server allowed players from being at the same area at the same time. Which is why, even though they claim that Crusader can support 24 players theoretically, all it takes is for more than 8 players to be in the same local area for the server to croak and it all becomes unplayable.
This game was never supposed to be an MMO. And it wasn’t pitched as one. And Chris has gone on the record several times, even after all the stretch goals funding were met back in Nov 2014 at $65 million, saying that it wasn’t. And the stretch goals have no such indication or implication that they were building an MMO. Somewhere along the line, because of scope creep and promises made as they pulled every trick in the book to keep raising money from gullible backers, it morphed into an MMO because that’s the only game model that would support some of the things they were promising. And they’re doing all this despite the fact that they neither have the tech, nor the talent, or the time and money to pull it off.
At this point, as I’ve shown above, if they don’t have the framework for their future networking model already in and working in some fashion, there is absolutely no way they’re going to have time to gut what they have now, and implement a proper solution. Something they should have done from the very start. Now it’s too late. And they are still making promises they can’t keep, even as they continue to defer* promised features into a post-release schedule.
My guess is that the current networking layer is going to remain as-is for quite some time, as they continue to build other features and systems on top of it. Then if by some miracle they survive (they won’t) long enough to actually get around to it, all that stuff they are building on top of a network layer they have to replace, will either have to be ripped out, or modified to support whatever it is they need to do in order to support their long term goals.
All of this means that even if they are around long enough for a 4.0 schedule to go live, and it does include the major networking features they need to make what they plan work, until then, backers are still going to be stuck with 8 player clients in Star Citizen. I can’t wait to see what happens when 3.0 goes live with the two moons. It’s going to be hilarious. Maybe they’ll shock everyone and have 6 clients running in Crusader without problems.
Anyone who still has hopes that this project is ever going to be completed, let alone as promised, is delusional. Meanwhile, it’s Sandi’s birthday, and apparently they’re in Monaco again this year. Paid for with backer money of course.
* Modding is out. Private servers are out. And a litany of other things are either not in progress, or have been deferred. The latest being the docking collar support for ships (e.g. Cutlass) that have that feature, and which were sold with it during the 2012 Kickstarter campaign if you pledged $110 or more. So instead of having two modes of docking, one which was a big draw for backers who bought the ships that were designed to support it, they will now have only one, whereby you have to EVA in order to board another ship. So if you’re looking to fulfill your dreams of boarding another ship, weapons armed, like in The Expanse, Interstellar or similar movies, ain’t gonna happen. Like ever.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article went live, some backers were trying to say that “building an MMO” out of Star Citizen, was the $3m stretch goal because it says:
“Citizens with appropriate packages will receive access to the Star Citizen universe with 40 star systems for persistent online play upon release.”
That’s the single most ridiculous thing I have ever read about this issue. People listen: “persistent online play” does not, and never did, imply that the game will be an MMO. Heck, even CIG themselves proved this point when they released Star Citizen 2.0 in Q4/15 and called it “Persistent Universe”, when in fact, nothing about the game is persistent, other than player stats stored and retrieved from a database. By this definition, they are implying that games with leaderboards, stats saving, are all MMO games because they have persistent stats save/restore features. Which would make every Call Of Duty or Battlefield game an MMO. The Star Citizen universe isn’t persistent. It’s an instance. When the instance closes, everything shuts down. I wrote about this extensively in my Star Citizen – Condition Red blog from May 2016.April 21, 2017 at 10:06 am #5254
It’s just amazing to think that things are so very desperate over at CIG at this point, six years, and almost $147 million later. For a project that had over 4x the amount of money needed to complete the two games promised. Not to mention Roberts claiming several times that they had healthy reserves – then changing that to say if money ran out, sales of SQ42 would then fund Star Citizen. It’s mind-boggling what is now unfolding.
In this latest AtV broadcast, amid the on-going money grab, what appears to be IP infringement, the desperation, backer revolt etc it’s hard not to see the signs of a project that is on life support and, according to sources, mere months away from a catastrophic collapse (apparently for real this time) due to lack of funding, departure of key team members, general internal dissent etc.
Oh where to begin?
NEW STAR CITIZEN REFERRAL PROGRAM
“Earn a free trip to GamesCom 2017 and other great rewards with our all new RSI 2017 Referral Contest! Simply gain referral points by sharing your Star Citizen referral code with friends. Each friend who pledges to Star Citizen using your referral code earns you one referral point.”
So they introduced a new referral system. You would think that since backers have given them so much money these past years, that it would be more favorable to them. But why would they do that, when after all they already have their money; and by the looks of it, backers aren’t exactly throwing money at them like they used to?
I don’t even know where to begin with this one; so I will just defer to the backers who are rightfully – once again – pissed (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) about some dumb crap that CIG has pulled. Yes, it’s basically a lottery for billionaires.
Aside from this being new referrals only, not only does this screw the pre-existing backers (hardcore or not) and is skewed toward affiliated streamers – who aren’t even playing (some are totally pissed) the game like they used to – but it also highlights two things: 1) the desperation to bring in new money 2) that CIG doesn’t give a damn about existing backers who got them this far.
LOL! Watch the RSI 2017 Referral Contest broadcast clip; and do stay for the comments – and dislikes.
And as expected, the fact that they referenced those streamers at the end of the broadcast, made them shoot to the top of the referral leaderboard, almost immediately.
The most hilarious part of this? The 2932 referral pledges required to “win” a ticket to Gamescom in Germany, amounts to $131,940 (2932 x $45) based on the current minimum pledge for the game. The website says “minimum value of $40” for a pledge, though the actual minimum – as of this writing – is $45 for a copy of Star Citizen or Squadron 42.
And the contradictions in the terms and conditions are amazing…
“As a supporter of Star Citizen, this “contest” is complete utter BS and a slap in the face to the community.
The only people who can possibly win it are content creators, despite it being billed as something you can do “even with 0 referals right now”. Want to know what’s even better? They cherry picked a few in their latest ATV and showed their referral codes, effectively putting them in the lead.
There is nothing here for normal backers using referrals to get their friends into the game. What about more rewards for them? Why couldn;t the prize be a random draw for anyone who has at least 1 referral?
This is not a community contest, it’s a competition between content creators that pits them against their own communties as well as those of others. If I were a content creator I would boycott this out of principle.
To me it’s another example of CiG taking the community for granted. Like I said, I may be a strong supporter of the game but I will never forget how they conveniantly waited until the very last minute to announce a Squadron 42 delay in the presentation they were meant to show it in during Citizencon. People travelled from all over the world to come see that!
We never got an actual apology for that. Nor did we get an apology for the awful holiday livestream (which they have tried to erase all existance of). So I am not expecting one for this either.
I expect so much better from a company that tries to put on an image of being so close with its community. I sincerely hope it’s mostly just a few morons in marketing.”
And the most upvoted topic on Reddit: CIG Your Marketing is Too Far Ahead of Itself
It gets better…
STAR KITTEN MEETS HELLO KITTY
“Meet Sally, the “star” of the Star Kitten lineup. Sally loves speed racing across the verse with her friends. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To Sally, all that matters is fun and friendship.
Created by venerable animation auteur Genady Kuzo, the Star Kitten animated series first premiered in 2932 and immediately warmed the hearts of citizens of all ages. To celebrate Sally’s fifteenth birthday, her image will be licensed on a special edition UEE tee and a Drake Dragonfly. Get your Sally Star Kitten gear while you still can!”
If you noticed the new Star Kitten mascot from the referrals link, I know what you’re thinking. And yes, you’re right. That looks suspiciously like Hello Kitty and similar. This is yet another blatant act of wanton IP infringement which has plagued this project for so many years; several of which I have written about. I mean, seriously, take a look at this.
Not sure how long this “Star Kitten – another decision that makes the game worse” Spectrum thread will remain, but it’s there for now.
Oh there’s more where that came from…
BANU MEET GROOT
This one speaks for itself. First, watch the broadcast segment. Then stare in amazement at the “similarities”.
Aside from the fact that, six years later, there isn’t a SINGLE unique or innovative thing about this project, it has basically ended up being a cornucopia of every darn sci-fi trope you could think of; right down to the Starship Trooper’s premise of conscripting of shit..erm, citizens into military service.
BANU DEFENDER MEETS….
The latest concept ship they just started selling, isn’t original either. If you recognize it, that’s because it’s similar to ships from various other IP include Halo, Planetside 2, Prometheus etc. Heck, even games like Wipeout and others. Here is an entire album of similarities.
DESPERATE TIMES, CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES
It has to be noted that when we’re talking about a crowd-funded project which had raised more than enough money to build and release the project, talking about on-going fundraising efforts, seems a bit off. I mean, think about it. If you asked for $500K to build a specific game, got $2.5 million, then subsequently increased the scope which raised $65 million – then got almost $150 million to build the same game, why would you need to keep raising money – often through desperate measures (and blatant lies)? The answer is that, not only can they not build the game promised, which has been blatantly obvious since I said so back in 2015, but also that the longer it takes, the more the risk of running out of money. Hence the need to keep raising money.
Remember back in 2013 when he said he could make “the same game for a fifth of the revenue, a fifth of the sales, and I can be more profitable, and I can exist on lower unit sales” ? Yeah, me too.
And when you’ve front-loaded a significant portion of the revenue in pre-sales – especially when you consider that most games don’t even make $150 million in their lifetime – the room to grow is very small. Then you have to consider on-going hosting and maintenance costs (the entire game is hosted on cloud servers), as well as employee/contractor costs. This room to grow, which is rapidly shrinking due to all kinds of factors, aside from bad press, backer revolt & refunds, employee/contractor dissent etc, is all the difference between a sudden catastrophic shutdown of this project, and the ability to actually ship a final product.
I wrote about this in my recent missive, as it pertains to the 3.0 schedule which, conservatively puts the game – if they have the money – somewhere in the 2022 time period for them to deliver 100% of both the games promised. They’re never – ever – going to pull that off. Even the free fly periods they’ve been running these past months, are duds; streamers are hardly playing the game, aside from periodic updates – the media stopped giving a shit back in 2015 etc.
Back in July 2015 I said that “There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.” Looking back two years later – despite the fact that we know the funding counter is bullshit – not only are they at $147 million – but they don’t even have 15% of the games promised. I was probably too conservative. Those backers who say things like “they can take as long as they like; that’s the beauty of no publisher“, have no clue what they’re talking about. The project will run out of money long before 2022.
And like every major build (e.g. 2.0 from Dec 2015) before it, if they eventually release what resembles a 3.0 promised, that too will fail to make a dent – for all the same reasons. I can’t wait for when they do release planetary (well, moons) access, it ends up being “just another level”, with nothing to do on it – just like current PU. Some backers simply don’t realize that all CIG is now doing, is releasing the bare minimum of what they promised – leaving them largely broken – but with the plausible deniability that goes with having released something, but with no guarantee of performance. It’s ingenious if you ask me. Just look at the other modules: Hangar, Arena Commander, Star Marine, Star Citizen Actual (aka PU) and just think about that for a minute. Last we checked, even with the much touted “over one million backers”, Star Marine averaged less than 25 people playing it. For an entire month. Remember back at $100 million when Chris said it would be “more lethal than Call Of Duty“. Yeah, me too.
While trying and failing (FYI Plastc after raising over $9 million, just collapsed 1, 2) to build a project isn’t illegal, what is illegal are things like unjust enrichment, fraudulent conversation, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion etc. All the things that State and Fed officials tend to look at when investigating the collapse of such high profile ventures. It simply won’t matter that they “tried“. It won’t matter that they had all those “disclosures” in the ToS about performance, delivery etc. What will matter – pay attention here – is that they only raised $2.5 million via crowd-funding, and to this point, over $145 million via pre-orders. There is a very clear legal distinction here, and which, as seen in the recent Lily drone fiasco, will make all the difference in the end. It’s ironic that this “Crowdfunding: Potential Legal Disaster Waiting To Happen” Forbes article, came out the same month that Star Citizen crowd-funding hit Kickstarter.
Through various sources, I am aware of several behind-the-scenes things are going on at CIG/RSI; not just here in the US, but also in the UK. While I could find a million ways to justify making them public, I decided that it was prudent not to do so – for the greater good. As I said in my latest “The Money Laundromat” blog, there is no way they can away with any excuse for not shipping these two games. Now that their very own employees and contractors, both past and present, are said to be talking to officials, it’s only a matter of time now before we see what’s going to happen.
Until then, my advice remains the same; if you feel that you’ve been misled, or no longer feel confident that they will deliver on promises, get a refund. They can neither refuse, nor provide any legal reason for not granting it. And if you want to wait and see what happens in the end, there’s nothing wrong with that either – it’s your money. Just remember one thing, if you’ve been using the Grey market and the project’s lax buy/sell mechanics to launder money, you’re going to get caught because every single piece of data collected by CIG/RSI, can be obtained by State and Fed officials, or any citizen engaged in a lawsuit with them. Just remember that.
Finally, as I’ve done before in the past with the FTC and DCBA links, I have been asked to share these details for those who, like the other crowd-funding scams, want to file a complaint with the State attorney in CA. Note that, as CIG are currently giving refunds, the DCBA office (which made that possible), has already done their part in this.
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