Main › Star Citizen – Musings
- October 1, 2016 at 8:50 am #4548
- April 18, 2017 at 1:00 am #5238
THE STAR CITIZEN 3.0 SCHEDULE IS OUT
“..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.” – Chris Roberts, GamesCom, Aug 19, 2016 @ 23:36
So between Aug, 2016 and the 3.0 schedule (amid much fanfare), the 3.0 is now stated to be coming June 29th, 2017. That’s 10 months since Gamescom; and 6 months since Dec 2016.
Yet, shortly after raising over $22 million (see below) between Aug-Dec based on those LIES; right after that, in Jan, they started talking about “doing a 3.0 schedule”. And then on April 14, 2017, they released it. Remember the old one, from back when they were raising money during the holidays?.
Amounts raised Aug-Dec 2016
Someone said it best:
“You have to admire them. They’ve reduced the next major deliverable to a ‘schedule’ of an actual deliverable that’s a year or more overdue. It’s a masterclass in misdirection“
Meanwhile, over on Reddit.
“Is it ok to say Im disappointed? Because Im disappointed. Glad to have the schedule, but now I have some serious questions which I kinda feel like everyone is glossing over, and god knows CIG wont answer…
How did things fall so incredibly behind? Im struggling to understand how we went from a predicted release of 3.0 full Stanton system roughly end of 2016 to a drastically cut down 3.0 ‘light’ almost 6 months later? And even the 3.0 light… the jesus patch network code might not make it in?
Its one thing to say delays happen, but seriously, what the hell happened? A almost year delay assuming it will definitely not release on their july estimate this year. Thats some serious additional development costs and overrun. I dont care who you are in the dev business, that cost is going to be significant to the overall cost. An extra year of development costs is nothing to sneeze at. Especially considering the gravy train of crowdfunding dollars wont last forever.
Downvote me all you want, but it needs to be said. How did things get thrown so far off?”
Chris Roberts also wrote another newsletter to go with it.
“3.0 represents a giant jump in gameplay potential from the code in the 2.x branch. For a start, it will contain about nine months of our main development branch beyond 2.6.x as well as almost two years of Planetary Tech development that the Frankfurt Engine team embarked on in the last half of 2015.”
Oh, there’s a monthly studio report as well.
Aside from the fact that sources are still telling me that it’s all smoke and mirrors – as always – this 3.0 schedule, amid much fanfare, is the same build that Chris went up on stage in Aug 2016 and LIED about when he said the patch was in progress, and being released on|before Dec 19th, 2016. I wrote about that extensively in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016; amid several smaller subsequent posts (1, 2) since that time.
Yet, after raising all that money to the end of 2016, come Jan 2017, they started talking about “working on the 3.0 schedule“. You know, a schedule for a build they were supposedly going to release months earlier.
Now, not only is this 3.0 schedule basically 2.7 in disguise, but it’s also missing several (e.g. mining (LOL!! see the official statement), planets) components they’ve been promising and touting for years now. And it also pushes the project well into 2018. If they even survive that long – and have the money – it’s safe to say that it’s a 2020 game. But none of that matters because not only is what they’ve now promised never seeing the light of day, even if you added leeway for delays, you’d end up well into Q4/2017. And assuming they complete it, well, you’d be looking at barely 25% (need I mention that 3.0 now only contains 3 moons, no planets – and not even 1% of the promised 100 star systems?) of the game they promised. Not including SQ42.
Notice how every task in the schedule appears to have started in April? Yeah, me too.
With CIG it has been more about marketing and showmanship, than about building a “game“. And that trend continues here, in that they even made a video – about a watered down schedule that’s now almost a year late. The same thing they did back when they made a video – ahead of telling backers that the SQ42 demo promised for CitizenCon 2016, had been scrapped “at the last minute”.
Back in Feb 2017, I wrote that several key team members had left the project; as they have been doing throughout 2016. Because Shitizens (toxic Star Citizen backers waging an Internet war of attrition against dissent) tend to attack them, and me; I had stopped giving out the names of departing parties. In that missive, I mentioned that Behavior Interactive were no longer working on the project. This has now been confirmed, two months later.
“And that’s precisely why they have not only been downsizing gradually (lots of departures in Q4/16 and in the new year) without making any noise (rumors are that Behavior Interactive is the latest third-party studio no longer working on the project) , but also said to be converting some employees to contractors. The latter is clearly an attempt to not only save money, but also save money and image because contractors don’t have the same termination protections, benefits etc as employees. And contractors, like third-party studios, can come and go without fanfare. It’s also why they have to keep using all kinds of tricks (cash-only sales, sales of JPEG ships with zero chance of making it into the game, R&D demos posing as actual game code etc) to keep raising money. Even though the project has already been funded by almost 3x what was originally needed – even after the vision 2.0 scope creep.”
So with this 3.0 news, it’s finally official that Behavior Interactive (like Illfonic and others who never got to see the project to completion) were in fact no longer on the project.
“We had originally hoped to deliver most of the Stanton Landing Zones with the first release of Planetary Tech, but that proved optimistic once the talented team at Behaviour, who had built ArcCorp, Levski, Grim HEX and had begun work on the remaining landing zones of Stanton, moved off Star Citizen and onto another Behaviour project in December. We had been steadily shifting our reliance away from external resources and we felt it would be unfair to block them from the opportunity to work on their own game. Unfortunately, replacing an Environment team of over 20 is no small task, which has set back the progress we had originally planned to make on the landing zones of Stanton.”
Notice how, as was the case of Illfonic (Star Marine), Roberts again makes a blame shift? In this instance, he is saying that because BI had to leave to go make their own game, it affected Star Citizen. I have been in this business for almost 30 years; and in my experience, paid contractors working on a major project, seldom leave a solid paying gig, to go take on the risk of “working on their own project”.
As I had mentioned before, there are other exits, including sources saying that Matthew Johns (Now at Naughty Dog), Tony Z, and other key players are either gone, or have put in their notice. It has gotten so toxic to be involved in this project, that some exits don’t even bother to update LinkedIn now, because it is being data mined due to CIG keeping it all a big secret.
He did the same thing with the switch from their own CryEngine derivative (StarEngine) to LumberYard; not telling the backers anything beforehand – for a whole year. Then only releasing a newsletter when the 2.6.0 patch – which had the prerequisite LumberYard logo – went live. I wrote about that extensively in my Irreconcilable Differences blog.
The few backers still left giving them money, or who are yet to ask for a refund, should have known the end was near when in June 2016, they made a dramatic change to the ToS, and tilted it even further in their favor, while stripping every single recourse that backers once had.
In the ToS, as long as CIG – or any of its multiple shell companies – is active, even if they downsize to just 4 people working on the project, they no longer have to provide the financials they promised. And they no longer have to deliver ANY of the games promised.
In the vein of the Trump Tracker, someone put together a Star Citizen tracker. It’s amazing to see what’s left to do, $146 million, and 6 years later. For a project that has had over 500 people working on it.
THE FATE OF SQUADRON 42
I have written many times that sources keep telling me that it simply doesn’t exist as a “game”. Aside from the fact that if it ever sees the light of day – in any form – that it would be just another half-assed game mode running off a menu selection, like the other modules.
I have written in the past that it won’t be released in 2015, or 2016 for the same reason that it doesn’t exist. Even as some backers and CIG stated publicly that I was making stuff up. It’s now Q2/17, and not only is it not in the updated schedule (you’d think that it should be, right?), backers haven’t seen any gameplay of it since 2015.
The hilarious part of this? Even though Star Citizen was in fact the primary game pitch, with SQ42 being the single-player portion, there are backers who are now downplaying that fact, while saying that SQ42 was the main game. Even as the funding page itself is over 90% Star Citizen content.
This doesn’t need a long blog write-up, and it certainly doesn’t warrant my releasing the blog I just finished last week. I was hoping that CIG would have at least made public something MAJOR that they have yet to disclose (LOL!!) to the backers; and which I can’t divulge without compromising an on-going investigation, sources – and rendering the whole blog moot.
As I said a recent Tweet storm, the project is FUBAR, and CIG already have a plan in motion to scuttle it and bail in the coming months. Any money that backers give them now, is going to severance (those lucky enough to get it) pay, and into the pockets of the creators (the family and friends program).
My opinion that it’s all evolved into a major scam, remains the same. And as I said back in 2015, it’s akin to one long con that has played out in the two years that I’ve been writing about this doomed project after they made it personal. As I wrote in my recent Money Laundromat blog, most of the primaries involved, have had legal troubles over various past projects in which investor money resulted in a total loss. The same is precisely what is now playing out with this Star Citizen project.
With the legacy forums closing (they said it’s being archived, but as has happened before, they will eventually disappear – but we’ve got it all archived for posterity and evidence) today, as they move the discussion over to a more restrictive, and horrid Discord clone, the project wind down is in full progress.
Also, bear this July 2015 Letter From The Chairman in mind, so you have an idea of what’s currently playing out behind the scenes, and yet to be made public.
“This is all being made possible by your enthusiasm and support. As we promised since the start of the campaign, we invest every dollar raised into the game. Anyone with knowledge about game development can assess our spending based on the information we share every month. It speaks for itself that from the outset our TOS provides for an accounting to be published if we ever had to stop development before delivering. With the progress and the funds we’ve raised this is no longer an issue, but quite obviously we wouldn’t have provided for this clause, if we weren’t using your funds very carefully for the development of Star Citizen.”
The Mitanni interviewed Chris Roberts on 10/19/2012. He CLEARLY said they were 1 year into the project then. So 2017 is year 6. So, 4 yrs late (delivery date was 11/2014). This 3.0 schedule puts it in 2018 (year 7) with barely 25% of what was promised, and not even 1 of 100 systems built by then.
To show you how utterly ridiculous the 3.0 schedule is, whereby they are promising a MASSIVE list of stuff for release END OF JUNE 2017, someone spliced it all together in a nice graphic.
If that doesn’t show just much BS that is, then I don’t even know what to say at this point. Good thing is that even some of the hardcore backers are taking notice that we’re way past the ridiculous point now. Completely. Then there’s this: http://schedule.starcitizen.guide/
Never in the history of gaming, has a game – any game – had this much controversy and delay, then resulted in either an actual game being released, or one that was released and met the expectations of the many. The problem with this, and the reason that I got involved in the first place – and at which point they declared war – is that this is all front-loaded gamer money. They’re selling ship assets which are neither built, nor in the game. Some of the ones that are in the game are either flat out broken, or missing functionality (cargo, mining etc) that makes them worth having. As I wrote here, this is after breaking literally every single promise they’ve made to backers since day one.
They’ve had 6 years + $146 million (back when I wrote my first July 2015 blog, I said that a competent team couldn’t build the game envisioned for anything less than $150m). Here we are; almost two years later and they still don’t even have 15% of the game promised back in 2012. And they’ve already blown through over $150 million if you take into account the investor money and loans that we know about.
Not forgetting the fact that, as I wrote in my latest blog, the creators and lead execs in this project, have been involved in various legal shenanigans related to the total loss of investor money, money laundering etc. In my opinion, this project too, in the coming months, will suffer the same fate of a total loss of backer money. Then everyone will be writing polarized tomes with premises like i) how could this happen? ii) we totally saw this coming! iii) at least he tried.
LEGACY FORUM CLOSED
As of April 14th, right at the same time this 3.0 schedule was to go live, they have closed (we have it all archived for posterity and evidence) the official 6 year old forums and moved everyone to the awful work in progress Discord clone, Spectrum, which gives them more censorship controls. Right off the bat, threads like this are being deleted (PDF archive)
Note that they timed this transition – to a broken system – within the same period as the release of this long awaited 3.0 schedule. On a weekend. They knew what would happen.
The really horrid part of this is that, between the 1600+ whales (that we’re tracking through publicly available analytics), the reputation management company that’s creating user accounts to spread “interest” and manage the project’s tainted rep, as well as the toxic backers who are not only engaged in profiteering through the Grey market of selling ship assets, but also waging an Internet wide war of attrition against dissent, the outlook is even more grim now than ever before.
But now that the State and Fed officials are aware of what’s going on; it’s only a matter of time now before we hit the big finale.
Anyone giving them money now, instead of waiting to see if they can actually build the two games promised, deserves to lose it when they fail to deliver on those promises.
LILY DRONE PROJECT COMPARISONS
In case you haven’t followed the most recent action taken against a crowd-funded project by California State authorities, read up on what happened to the Lily drone project.
Part of the suit has to do with the initial pitch video, watched by millions of people, showing off what appeared to be a Lily drone following users and shooting video. The drone responsible for all that fancy aerial work and video was not in fact a Lily, but a DJI Inspire, something the creators failed to mention.
There’s also a slightly technical issue that forms a second front in the DA’s lawsuit: the fact that they went with an independent “pre-order” strategy rather than an established crowdfunded development site like Kickstarter. That makes Lily’s money qualify more on the side of internet sales than investment in an idea (something Kickstarter and its projects are always careful to explain), which exposed the company to certain consumer protection laws.
One, the FTC’s Mail Order Rule, required that, if a pre-ordered product is seriously delayed, the company must issue refunds unless customers indicate they don’t mind the wait. Lily certainly must qualify as having encountered long delays — from February 2016 to “later in 2017” — but refunds were not issued at large.
It’s this second offense that caused the DA’s office to file a temporary restraining order freezing Lily’s assets — to prevent it from, in the words of the TRO, “further dissipating these ill-gotten preorder funds.”
Here are the comparisons to Star Citizen.
1) The Lily drone video was faked, didn’t represent the product pitched; and the execs were busted in fraudulent misrepresentation.
See Star Citizen “demos”
2) The Lily drone project was very delayed.
See Star Citizen’s Nov 2014 promised date, and every single missed date since then. As of today, the project is officially 29 months overdue
3) The Lily drone project wasn’t issuing refunds.
See Star Citizen refunds debacle.
CIG/RSI wasn’t issuing refunds – as required by law. To wit: Back when I challenged the refunds as per the rubbish ToS versions, very few took me seriously. At that time, refunds weren’t happening. Then someone decided to test it and went straight to State authorities. The fallout was amazing. I wrote a whole blog surrounding it. Then just like that, refunds were a thing.
4) The Lily drone project moved their crowd-funding off Kickstarter.
CIG/RSI started crowd-funding on their website, raised about $500K, then moved their funding to Kickstarter, where accountability would have prevailed. After raising over $2m there, they moved back to their new private crowd-funding site, where they ended up raising over $144 million more (to date).
5) The Lily drone project regarded the backer money as “pledges” and not sales.
CIG/RSI have long insisted that backer money were pledges, and not sales (as in pre-sales).February 14, 2017 at 9:01 am #5222
SQUADRON 42 – #JUSTANOTHERGAME MODE?
With all the recent musings and rumors, not to mention the switch to Lumberyard rekindling talk of SQ42 coming to consoles, it’s looking a lot like, just as I said in the past*, that SQ42 could very well end up being another game module within the pre-existing game launcher.
*”A recent rumor that’s been floating around also suggests that SQ42 will probably no longer exist as a separate game as previously planned. Instead, the missions will be rolled into Star Citizen, thus making it just another game mode like Arena Commander and Star Marine. Yeah, it’s hilarious. Especially when you consider that they split it into a separate product earlier this year; no doubt in order to maximize sales, as well as spin it off as its own title; thus justifying a console port, as well as DLC (episodic content etc).
To be honest, as a developer, and given the structure of the what they’ve built so far, I think making it a game mode and accessible via the Star Citizen menu, is probably a good call. Though it is mission based single-player, but originally billed to support co-op (which requires networking support), it makes sense. In fact, doing that could also enable them to bring back co-op play. But that would require revisions to the missions of course. And if nothing else, it would be consistent with the other game modules (hangar, persistent universe, star marine, arena commander).”
To that end, someone in my forum recently posed this question as to its legality.
“I honestly don’t see a legal way for them to just roll SQ42 into the main game similar to hangar or AC once they separated the games and started selling it as a completely separate “game”. Wouldn’t that essentially make it false advertising/fraudulent sales, no matter how much sense it would make? Or am I missing something.“
Actually they can do it; and it would be perfectly legal.
Remember that right now the main game launcher is just a menu system. You can go to the hangar, arena commander, star marine, and the Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe aka pee-you). When you
pledgebuy the game – without SQ42 – you get all of that. If you buy a stand-alone ship (cheapest being $45), and also SQ42, then you get access to everything. So basically, for a low price of $90, you can get access to both Star Citizen and SQ42. Except that most of the ships they have been selling – some at thousands of dollars – either have zero functionality, let alone supporting modes (e.g. news, farming, mining, exploration etc), or they haven’t even been built yet.
If they roll SQ42 into the game launcher, then it’s just another menu item like the above. Which means that it will run just like those modules, in a stand-alone fashion, and with no connection to them.
Since SQ42 is just a single player game that takes place within the same game universe; and seeing as they still haven’t even built the other systems yet, let alone all the areas (e.g. planets) where the missions take place, it makes sense for it to be just another game mode.
Think about it. There is no SQ42 without them building the rest of the star systems – including planets – which they claim (1, 2) will be using a combination of procedural generation and hand-crafted areas. Even if they end up building them, they are shared by both the pee-you and SQ42. So why would they want to make it a separate “game” outside of the game launcher? There is no sense in that.
So whether or not they make it a standalone game, with its own launcher etc, or it’s #justanothergamemode accessible via the standard game launcher, it will end up being the same game. It just means that for those who bought only SQ42, they have to figure out a way to only enable just that module when the game is launched; thus restricting access to the others.
And as long as they deliver something called SQ42, they are legally in the clear. But they won’t, because that game is pretty specific in what was promised.
Funny thing is, back when I was developing All Aspect Warfare & Angle Of Attack, they both used the same game engine/modules/world etc. However, AOA was just the aerial combat portion and which had its own menu even though it was basically the same game, but with only planetary air combat missions (not present in AAW). Basically, one large game, split into two, and with different experiences (AAW is combined arms, AOA is planetary air combat).
Aside from all this, after completely missing all (2014, 2015, 2016) ship dates, SQ42 didn’t make an appearance in Citizen2016. After major backlash, they made a video called Road To CitizenCon which they used to explain how so close they were to showing it, but then couldn’t make it – at the last minute. Here’s the burning question. They knew – beforehand – that they couldn’t make it, why didn’t they disclose that during the show? Further, it stands to reason that they knew beforehand, and had the foresight to make a video – ahead of time – about their inability to show, let alone release it. That was Aug 2016. So, they were this close but didn’t make it; yet, now almost two months later, not only have they not even shown whatever it was they were so close to releasing, but, like the much touted 3.0, it’s not even in the dev schedule.
I remember back when some backers were saying that since it didn’t get shown in Dec 2016, that it’s possible that it would be a Q1/17 release. Well, here we are – and Q1 ends in less than a month and half.
WHY 3.0 REMAINS A PIPE DREAM
It was all lies. Right from the start when it was being touted as far back as Summer 2016, then officially took center stage during GamesCon in Aug, it was already clear. From that presentation in which Chris Roberts stated the following, then they released 2.6.0 instead, it was already clear.
“..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal“
Excerpt of what I said in Nov 2016
“When it comes to the 3.0 patch, backers may as well just reconcile the fact that they were lied to – again. It’s not even a case of a missed schedule. He basically came up with a list of features (none of which, according to sources, exists or in a form that would have lent any credibility to his “end of year” promise) he knew backers would fall for, then put it out there as “coming soon”; thus – like the demos at GamesCom and CitizenCon – raising money from the few whales who are still dumb enough to keep giving him money.
Rumors and source leaks aside, the writing is on the wall. They are either going to move 2.6 into 2017 – as indeed they should if it’s not ready for test release – or they will try to push some interim 2.5.x minor branch out in order to quash some of the dissent. But the fact remains, waiting until the last minute, or at a time when the bad news won’t affect the anniversary stream, is just another dishonest plan, and one which has become a staple for them.
3.0 status: sources say all are still laughing at this one. It simple does NOT exist as was communicated to backers. It was basically a wishlist of items they wanted to see in a point release; and which Roberts when on the record (again) as saying was coming by “year end, and not on Dec 19th like last year“.“
Excerpt of what I said in Sept 2016
“While it does not absolve them of the liability of breaking an NDA, it’s easy to see why it makes sense to the people doing it. Especially in light of the fact that this latest leak has clearly shown that not only is the 2.6 patch most likely not coming in Oct; but that given that the test pattern has a lengthy period from “limited Evocati –> wide testing –> live“, it means that it probably won’t be out until sometime in the Nov/Dec time frame. And that, my friends, all but guarantees that the much touted 3.0 (aka the Jesus Patch) which Chris was heavily promoting at GamesCom as coming by end of the year, is not being released this year. At all. Yeah, I know – shocking. Note that there isn’t even a 2.7 patch. It was once talked about, then came GamesCom and Chris saying that after 2.5 (current), there will be 2.6, and then it’s onto 3.0 – the Jesus Patch which fixes everything, and includes all of the latest promises.“
In the past weeks, some backers have now realized that they were blatantly lied to – again. And a little over a week ago, as I wrote here, Ali B (Ben Parry’s boss) in a rare appearance in the community, made another post that added fuel to the fire.
“This will most likely be a setup issue with the trigger volumes and logic that the art & design teams use to control color grading across the level (e.g. if you manage to escape a space station but don’t pass through specific trigger volumes then the color grade might not be updated). If there is a known set of steps to reliably reproduce the issue I’d recommend raising it in the issue council.
This setup however is intended to be replaced with a more reliable and systemic system to control color grading where every room is tagged with the desired color grade / mood (either by art or procedurally by code). This system will be updated every frame and doesn’t rely on hand placed trigger volumes so will never get into an incorrect state, even if you somehow teleport from one location to another. This will likely have a dependency on the ‘room system’ being developed in LA so it’s something we intend to address later in the year, and is a required feature for both 3.0 and Squadron 42.
Cheers,” – Ali Brown – Director of Graphics Engineering
Basically they knew – back in Aug 2016 – that whatever Chris Roberts said was 3.0 and coming before Dec 19th, wasn’t true. Not even an over-estimation, because we’re now in February, and they’ve only just released 2.6.1 patch to the public test universe; with the next one being 2.6.2. And the dev schedule makes no mention of 3.0, let alone anything about Squadron 42. In this regard, with 2.6.1 supposedly going live by Feb 17th, it stands to reason that 2.6.2 is most likely another month or two away, depending on what they put in it.
So if back in Aug Chris said they were working on getting it out by Dec 19th, that would mean it had to have already been in development. That means, by the time 2.6.2 is out, assuming they don’t do another 2.6.x patch or even 2.7 (as Todd Pappy let slip in a recent broadcast), that would be almost eight months since Chris stated it, and four months since it was due. And there is already a major Reddit discussion asking for the 3.0 schedule.
It’s safe to say then that both 3.0 and SQ42 (which needs 3.0 framework) stand very little – if any – chance of coming out even in the Summer 2017. Which means, all eyes are to Gamescom in Aug or CitizenCon in Dec. Even with GDC, E3 and two more PAX events ahead of Gamescom, they don’t traditionally release anything at those shows. In fact, last year they skipped mostly all events, while opting for only Gamescom and CitizenCon.
At the end of the day, they can brand any build as 3.0, and call it a day. All with complete disregard for promises made. And they can do this with impunity because even as they continue to do so, and whales, in Sunk Cost Fallacy, keep propping it up, they get the impression that they have a blank check. And with that, they have zero incentive to finish the games as promised, let alone deliver on any promises made.
WHY THE E.L.E CONTINUES TO BE A GOING CONCERN
When, almost a year ago, I wrote an Extinction Level Event blog, in my description of what I believe to be the slow and gradual death of the project, and a total loss of backer money, some people thought it was just hyperbole. Especially since they were all under the impression that SQ42 and Star Citizen were going to be completed and released by the end of 2016.
The latest metrics (1, 2, 3) are a clear indicator that funding (1, 2) and backer (many whales have, and continue to, put in for refunds) numbers are on the decline. Even as I had written (1, 2) about the funding and accountability issues, it appears that a lot more people are coming to the sad realization that, when it’s all said and done, what I said back in July 2015 in my first blog, and which started a major backlash and attacks against me from not only CIG/RSI, but also their toxic backers, continues to play out and remains true.
“Without disrespect to anyone, I’m just going to say it: it is my opinion that, this game, as has been pitched, will never get made.Ever.
There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.
The original vision which I backed in 2012? Yes, that was totally doable. This new vision? Not a chance.“
We’re now in year six (five if you refuse to take 2011 into account, despite Chris Roberts claiming the game was in dev then). With over 350 – 500 people across almost a dozen studios, having been involved in the project – and almost $143 million (not including loans, investors etc) of backer money, the game is still very much in pre-Alpha. It’s not even alpha, let alone beta, by Chris Roberts’ own definition of what those actually mean as per his development.
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – Chris Roberts, 2016
And those words are being echoed today by some backers who somehow have been led to believe that, even with all this money already pre-paid for the games, that there is a very good chance that it won’t be enough to deliver the two games promised. And that SQ42, a niche space combat title, is somehow going to be so awesome and ground breaking, that millions of gamers who aren’t already entitled to it, are going to buy it, thus keeping the operations going. Those people are the same fools who keep throwing money into an open furnace.
How foolish do you have to be to believe that when triple A games like COD:IW (barely 400K units on Steam), and Elite Dangerous (1 million units on Steam) in the space combat genre aren’t selling those kind of numbers (note that by Jan 2016, Elite Dangerous, a vastly superior game had sold 1.4 million units), that somehow SQ42 is going to be the magnum opus that’s going to continue funding this operation to the tune of over $35m a year. Not to mention that a single studio (F42-UK), as I wrote last month, burned through over 50% of that in 2015 alone; and will most likely burn through even more, given the increased resources needed for 2016.
And that’s precisely why they have not only been downsizing gradually (lots of departures in Q4/16 and in the new year) without making any noise (rumors are that Behavior Interactive is the latest third-party studio no longer working on the project) , but also said to be converting some employees to contractors. The latter is clearly an attempt to not only save money, but also save money and image because contractors don’t have the same termination protections, benefits etc as employees. And contractors, like third-party studios, can come and go without fanfare. It’s also why they have to keep using all kinds of tricks (cash-only sales, sales of JPEG ships with zero chance of making it into the game, R&D demos posing as actual game code etc) to keep raising money. Even though the project has already been funded by almost 3x what was originally needed – even after the vision 2.0 scope creep.
At this point in time, it should already be crystal clear that SQ42 and Star Citizen stand very little chance of being completed and released in 2017. Regardless of whether or not you believe the dev schedule, or the Aug 2016 dev slides, it’s just not possible, given the sheer amount of work left to complete. All backers can do now is wait and see what does get released in 2017; and whether or not the whole thing gradually collapses before they get a game worth the thousands that some have put into it.February 14, 2017 at 8:55 am #5220
ALL THE PROCEDURAL PLANETS PROMISES TO DATE
With planets on the 3.0 menu, I thought I’d catalog and bookmark this for future reference.
10 For The Chairman EP 78 (May 2016) in which the discussion about procedurally generated planets, takes center stage and an hilarious turn.
Still not here. And it’s almost as if all of these were just R&D tech demos designed to show the non-existent progress on this front…
“Nyx Landing Zone Preview” (Aug 2015)
“Pupil To Planet” (Dec 2015)
“Seamless procedural planetary landing gameplay” (Dec 2015)
“Alpha 3.0 gamescom 2016 Gameplay” (Aug 2016)
“Procedural Planets v2” (Oct 2016)
…and that sandworm on a planet (Oct 2016)January 29, 2017 at 7:07 am #5218
STAR CITIZEN – “OPEN DEVELOPMENT”
So recently TotalBiscuit made some comments about Star Citizen regarding people comparing it to No Man’s Sky.
Jan 26, 2017: In this broadcast, he said (verbatim):
“The comparisons to No Man’s Sky are bullshit. Wanna know why they are bullshit? Because No Man’s Sky hid everything before launch; and lied about a bunch of shit; and then came out and ended up being a bunch of shit.
Star Citizen is the most transparent development of anything I have ever seen. There is so much info..I mean one, you can go and play it right now; and you can see the exact state that it’s currently in – ‘cuz you can just go and play the alpha.
And the amount of information they put out on a weekly basis..they make videos, they stream, the developer blogs are like five fucking pages long a day.
There’s no game in history that has been as transparent as with the development and where they’re going with it, than Star Citizen has been.
They…you can play it; they show it all the time; they are completely open with their process.
So no, yeah, it might end coming out and being shit; and the people throwing thousands of dollars at it, well I think that’s kind of foolish, but you know, it’s your money, you do what you want with it.
But I refuse to allow it to be compared to No Man’s Sky; it’s a, it’s a polar opposite situation..of that. It’s a stupid comparison. We know exactly what Star Citizen is, right now at this very moment. We do; it’s all out there.”
Aug 16, 2016: In this broadcast, he basically makes the same comparisons between No Man’s Sky and Star Citizen hype; but this time specifically about the “zealous” Star Citizen fanbase and it’s comparison to the NMS one.
July 9th, 2015: In this broadcast, he said (verbatim):
“I am certainly concerned about No Man’s Sky; obviously I’ll give it a try, uhm, but it’s extremely ambitious, and that’s always a reason to doubt it. And then when you throw in the idea of procedural generation, like urrgh. I hear that word; I hear that word a lot, and whenever I hear it, I get a little bit worried because I’ve seen games that do the all procedural generation thing, and they’re generally by no means as good as a game that has a properly designed level. Because the computer can never create a properly designed level anywhere near as well as an actual human being can. And when comes out to planets; I’m like oh well, I mean, er I dunno what’s gonna be going on with that. I’ve definitely got my doubts; certainly. I hope it turns out good; I don’t want it to fail.
Star Citizen, imaginary game, yeah. You threw money at a pipe dream. You know, maybe Star Citizen will come out at some point in some form, I’m sure it probably will, but. We will see some game, that has space ships in it. It will probably be…yeah, we turned it into a racing game guys, we took the racing component that’s the entire game, just like, we’re done. It is, it is super ambitious. It also has a lot of money, but it doesn’t matter how much money you can throw at a game, you can still end up failing your goals.
They’re [backers] throwing money at a dream; and I, I don’t really know if Star Citizen actually turns out to be what they claimed it is, and what they promise it is; then it will be incredible no doubt; but..when? When is that gonna happen? “
Meanwhile, over at the /r/StarCitizen watering hole, a bunch of the “zealous” fanbase, along with the Usual Suspects (aka Shitizens) are trying to use his statements to somehow legitimize the notion that because Star Citizen has “open” development, that means everything is fine, it’s coming out etc.
It’s all the usual rubbish.
TotalBiscuit has been clear and consistent in his musings and statements regarding Star Citizen. His recent statements are no different. His comment about NMS vs SC, especially in the recent broadcast, are restricted to the notion of people comparing the two games in terms of knowing what the game is and about; and that because NMS was a disaster, so too will Star Citizen.
He is basically saying that with NMS you didn’t know what you were getting, what state the game was in etc. Until it was released. Then all hell broke loose. But with Star Citizen, there is all this wealth of material, you can read them, go play the alpha right now etc. So you know – beforehand – the state that the game is in, the discussions around it, and from there you can make an informed decision about it.
The key takeaway here is that, NMS hid everything about the development, failed to curb expectations etc. But how is that wrong? The game wasn’t crowd-funded, it wasn’t early access, and they were under no obligation to release anything about the development of their game, other the hype they were generating. In short, they operated like a standard dev studio or publisher would.
Star Citizen is a $142m crowd-funded game; not to mention the amount of money from loans and investors which haven’t been disclosed. Even if they don’t have to explain anything to the bankers and investors, they have an obligation to the backers because that was the premise of the project and the promise made to backers. It is patently irrelevant if they are “open” (hint: they aren’t) or not, in terms of full disclosure because, since day one, they’ve historically LIED to backers, used shady tactics to continue fleecing them for funding etc. And after five (six if you’re counting) years and all this money, neither of the two games promised for a Nov 2014 delivery, are even near 15% complete.
No Man’s Sky promised no such thing; and were under no obligation to be “open” about their development. However, just like Sean Murray did, Chris Roberts has been talking up and lying about a bunch of features which have now either been cut, or will never – ever – make it into the game.
The Star Citizen devs are only “open” about what they want to share with backers. And most of the more critical info is either hidden or obfuscated. Go ahead, ask a backer when the much touted 3.0 patch (see my predictions here – all of which came true) is coming out; or the state of Squadron 42; or the status of the Lumberyard engine switch; or their internal projections (note the public schedule only goes to 2.6.1) for the release of both games; or why they were busy making R&D tech demos under the guise of building tech for the game engine; or why some critical info about the game, ends up in game magazines (e.g. in Germany) instead of the community etc. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
Star Citizen is as open and transparent as the frosted glass in a Church. In fact, the “game” itself is so transparent, that you can’t even see it; because there is no game.January 14, 2017 at 7:18 am #5198
WHY STAR CITIZEN BACKERS SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION
No doubt you already read about the collapse of the Lily drone project. Yesterday, news reports (1, 2) revealed its demise amid a lawsuit filed by San Francisco after several months of investigations, made possible by anonymous sources within the project. As you read these and other news reports, key excerpts such as the ones below, should give you an idea of what I have been clamoring about Star Citizen since July 2015 when I wrote my first blog raising the alarm.
“Snap passed on the deal, which was first reported by Business Insider, because of potential liability associated with pre-orders.”
“Now some tech veterans say there were red flags in Lily’s story all along.”
“There’s also a slightly technical issue that forms a second front in the DA’s lawsuit: the fact that they went with an independent “pre-order” strategy rather than an established crowdfunded development site like Kickstarter. That makes Lily’s money qualify more on the side of internet sales than investment in an idea (something Kickstarter and its projects are always careful to explain), which exposed the company to certain consumer protection laws.”
And what should be noted is that a judge saw it fit to grant San Francisco a TRO, allowing them to freeze the company assets. Which means that they did in fact have a case to be made.
Last year, amid various consumer unfriendly actions which CIG/RSI took, such as revising the ToS in June 2016, thereby stripping backers of certain protections and warranties they had since the start of the project, I wrote several blogs in which I opined that the project had seemingly evolved into an outright scam due to questionable fund-raising tactics used. And these tactics appeared due to the fact that they had run out of time and money to build the two games (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) promised. Then, just this past December, it was revealed that, despite promises made, they didn’t even have the tech required to build the games promised. So, while lying to backers, they were then found to have switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine. I wrote an extensive blog about this in Irreconcilable Differences.
And through most of my blogs, I had written that no matter what CIG/RSI or the toxic backers say, anyone with money in the project, was entitled to everything that CIG/RSI promised back in Oct 2012 when the project first appeared on Kickstarter. For quite some time, they were refusing even refunds, only granting them to those (like me) who they deemed were detrimental to the project in some form or another. Much has been written about how they refund and close accounts of backers who were identified and found to be expressing dissent against either the project or it’s creators. I recently wrote another update about that as well. It wasn’t until one backer decided to heed my advice and go directly to the State authorities, thus forcing CIG/RSI to give him a refund, that people started getting refunds upon request. And I wrote the Refund Debacle blog specifically about that back in July 2016.
I had also written that CIG/RSI giving some backers refunds, doesn’t absolve them of any liabilities, nor does it allow them to maintain an open ended delivery date for the project; even after they had given a fixed Nov 2014 delivery date, and which also had an 18 month delay period. Someone running a scam, for example a Ponzi scheme, will tend to appease those who pose a threat to said scam. So if you think about it, just because someone gets a refund, doesn’t make what’s going on any less of a scam, nor does it mean that by giving refunds, they no longer have any legal liability. For example, when you break the law by stealing something, returning it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer liable for prosecution.
So this recent lawsuit, which is similar to other lawsuits taken by other states against crowd-funding projects, echos everything that I have been saying since July 2015, as it pertains to the consumer protections which backers have. And now, we have a State official stating that because a project is run off a business site, it is actually subject to even more stringent consumer protection laws. Yet, back when I was saying this, and advocating for people to report the project to the FTC if they didn’t get a refund, I was incessantly attacked and derided. And seeing as, outside of the CA refund issue previously reported, no action has yet been taken against CIG/RSI by State and/or Fed officials, some people are taking this to mean that everything is business as usual. As I had previously reported, like some backers, my attorneys and I have personally spoken (and my case met) with both State and Fed officials about how I became involved in this project and its on-going controversy. What the officials choose to do, and when, is entirely up to them. Similarly, what backers and their attorneys choose to do, and when, is also entirely up to them.
I believe that the project is an on-going scam, that certain actions taken are a violation of consumer laws; and according to sources and info which I have passed along to various authorities, could quite possibly be found to be facing accusations of both consumer and wire fraud if the project and its executives were in fact investigated. I had called for such an investigation as far back as July 2015 when I wrote the Interstellar Discourse blog. I believe that the creators, as well as their friends and family – all executives involved with the project – are engaged in actions tantamount to unjust enrichment, while pretending to be working toward the development of a project. A project that, by all accounts, is reported to be in dire financial trouble due to the amount of the time and money left in which to deliver the two games as promised. A project which, in Oct 2013 after raising $25 million, Chris Roberts in a statement said was fully funded. I wrote about this in my Fidelity Of Failure blog back in June 2016.
For as many times as I have been proven to be correct about this project, there will come a time when most people who thought that this could never happen, will be wondering how it is that a project that has thus far raised over $140 million (assuming the funding chart is accurate – which many believe it isn’t) from gamers, with other amounts from investors and loans, could possibly fail to deliver even a single game as promised, and yet managed to collapse.
Unlike projects like the Lily drone, when you consider the amount of money that backers and investors have put into this project, it’s easy to see that there is no way that refunds can be given to everyone. In short, once the money runs out ahead of the games being completed (in some form or another), it will end up being a total loss of backer and investor money.
GAMESTAR Feb 2017 INTERVIEW WITH CHRIS ROBERTS
Shortly after I wrote this missive, excerpts of a translated interview (original, Google translated) that Chris Roberts did with a German magazine, began to surface online. Given the print times, this interview no doubt took place within the last two to three months. It’s a pretty long interview. However, there are two very important excerpts which, without a doubt, prove two of the most important points that I’ve been going on about these past months.
1) He has basically confirmed that the project is a Ponzi scheme.
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.“
Note that he made this exact claim back in Sept 2014 in this statement – shortly after raising $55 million.
This basically confirms that they simply do not have the money to complete this project as promised; and that’s why they need to keep raising money as they have been doing. This despite the fact that the project funding currently stands at over $140 million. So basically, if refunds continue, and sales flow slows down, they can’t complete Star Citizen. Instead, now he says they are focusing on releasing the Squadron 42 single-player game which over 96% (according to our metrics) of the people who have thus far backed the project, are already entitled to – at no charge.
This also explains the lack of meaningful Star Citizen progress in 2016; not to mention the complete absence of Squadron 42 itself. Back in Sept 2016 when I wrote that neither Star Citizen nor SQ42 was going to be released in 2017, well, guess what happened.
Remember back when I said that they can’t build Star Citizen as promised, and that Chris is only now focused on SQ42 because he wants to make a movie; and that it’s more likely to be what they deliver – in some form or another? Yeah, me too. Then rumors started swirling that even so, they still can’t deliver the full Episode 1 of SQ42 as promised due to the fact that SQ42 shares the same engine as Star Citizen – complete with all the problems (besides networking) that it has. Hence rumors of a “prelude” or some sort of demo, being in the works.
If this is the bet that Chris has made, then for financial reasons, we’re back to talking about SQ42 on consoles. Hence more reasons for the Lumberyard engine switch.
2) He has basically confirmed that the 3.0 patch doesn’t exist.
“We’ve looked at 3.0 and said. We need that and that and that and then we found: Damn, that’s more than many complete games. Therefore, we develop a detailed plan for all tasks and subtasks. If that is done, we will share this plan with the community. This is expected to be the case at some point in January, depending on when the production team gets the information from the project managers.“
The article then goes on to say that during this time, there will be smaller updates due to the length of time in between. These include performance, as well as networking improvements, which the article says aren’t coming before 3.0. And that pretty much confirms what I wrote in my last blog that there were no networking revisions in the 2.6 patch; contrary to some people thinking that it was done as part of the Lumberyard switch.
Seriously, this one beggars belief, and is also proof positive that Chris has been lying to backers – consistently. Back in Aug 2016 during the Gamescom conference, Chris claimed that the much touted 3.0 patch was due out. That was even though they still hadn’t even released the 2.6 patch (which didn’t arrive until Dec 23rd). As I wrote over here, he went on the record (23:36) saying: “..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.”
You can see all the slides showing the roadmap for 3.x up to 4.0 which he then went on to share during CitizenCon 2016 in Nov. Subsequently, ahead of the show, back on Nov 2, 2016, I had written a missive that sources told that the 3.0 patch didn’t even exist at the time that he made those statements; and that he was blatantly lying. In fact, sources told me that the first time they even heard anything about such a patch, was when the slide went up. So apparently this was something the Chris and his top cohorts (Erin Roberts, Sean Tracey, Tony Zurovek, Brian Chambers) cooked up in the continued bid to lie to and mislead backers.
With 3.0 not even on the near horizon, let alone in the dev schedule, even as they talk about the upcoming 2.6.1, and now the 2.7 patch as per this recent stream (34:50) – which I recently wrote about – it is clear that with the main focus on SQ42, this 3.0 patch which most of us think is going to be the Minimum Viable Product (30:18) he spoke of back in April 18th, 2016, is not coming in the short term.
I think at this point, if the backers don’t have enough proof that this project is FUBAR, then we may need to revert to smoke signals. Regardless, it’s their money, and we don’t care what they do with it. Regardless, these unscrupulous scumbags who keep abusing backer goodwill in crowd-funding projects, are ruining it for everyone. Especially for us in video gaming. My purpose in this whole Star Citizen fiasco remains the same: archiving and sharing my opinions on this whole farce, while striving toward unconditional vindication.
Finally, along these same lines, if you haven’t yet watched this interview with Dan Trufin in the F42-GER office, you should. Key points: 1) persistent points of interest on planets are basically just ship wrecks. Just like in Elite Dangerous btw 2) @06:48, most of the ships need to be “refactored” due to docking problems 3) @09:52, networking is still mostly broken 4) @12:02, the sandstorm in the CitizenCon 2016 presentation was faked (we knew this already), and that no weather systems have been implemented thus far in the engine.
Love charts and numbers? Don’t forget to check out the Star Citizen Analytics project.December 21, 2016 at 8:56 am #5094
QUICK THOUGHTS ON STAR CITIZEN HOLIDAY STREAM 2016
Wow. The less written about the holiday stream on Dec 16th, the better. It was an absolute disaster. To the extent that shortly after, not only did they pull the stream (copy over here) from YouTube, but they also proceeded to wipe out any/all dissent (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) from the official RSI forums. Of course Reddit – where only the hardcore Shitizens have some level of control – was ablaze. The media (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) had a field day with this one; and Imperium News (<— LOL!!) has a pretty good write-up about the fiasco and resulting fallout.
My prediction for the stream was so accurate that I was astonished.
- croberts will recite, then write a cringe-worthy missive asking for money, making excuses, making new promises for 2017
- 2.6 will be delayed; and if they are smart, pushed into 2017. the schedule will be updated to reflect this
- they will play 2.6 Star Marine on local LAN because doing it across the internet – the environment it was designed for – is shite
- no meaningful SQ42 reveal – of any kind
- no meaningful 3.0 reveal – of any kind
- croberts will recite, then write a cringe-worthy missive asking for money, making excuses, making new promises for 2017 CALLED IT! // see latest newsletter
- 2.6 will be delayed; and if they are smart, pushed into 2017. the schedule will be updated to reflect this CALLED IT!
- they will play 2.6 Star Marine on local LAN because doing it across the internet – the environment it was designed for – is shite it was 8v8 (the max before CE3 falls over) over the Internet. so much for 12v12
- no meaningful SQ42 reveal – of any kind CALLED IT!
- no meaningful 3.0 reveal – of any kind CALLED IT!
As I had warned several weeks before, not only did they not show anything of Squadron 42, let alone the much touted 3.0 patch, but the whole stream was devoid of any meaningful content. Remember back during CitizenCon when Chris Roberts stated that the SQ42 demo was mere days away, but they didn’t want to risk showing it? Well, we knew that – like always – he was lying then. So it came as no surprise to most of us that SQ42 was still a no-show. In fact, I wrote about that in this blog and in this musing.
To further compound the problem, the dev schedule – which they’ve been tinkering (1, 2, 3) with and making material changes to as they remove several promised features – which they made public a few weeks after CitizenCon in order to appease gamers, didn’t get updated until a few hours ahead of the stream; and to show that the 2.6 patch was again delayed to Dec 22nd.
The community manager didn’t even do a community post ahead of the stream; even as the forum denizens were getting nervous about what that would mean. Then shortly around the same time the stream went live, a newsletter from Chris Roberts went out. The hilarious part?
“After we made the decision before CitizenCon that the Squadron 42 vertical slice wasn’t ready to be shown publically, we spent some time on reviewing how far off we were and what we wanted to achieve in order to be comfortable showing a full chapter of S42 gameplay. After all the effort we expended for CitizenCon, we didn’t want to spend additional developer time polishing intermediate solutions if it wasn’t going towards the final product. A slick demo isn’t that helpful if it pushes back the finished game, so we decided that the priority should be completing full systems over getting the vertical slice into a showable state.“
Basically the only highlight of the stream – if you can call it that – was that they got to play 8v8 Star Marine in the much delayed 2.6 build. It looked no better than a glorified CryEngine mod; and played even worse. Seriously, 4-5 years in dev and almost $140 million dollars, they can’t build an FPS module using a custom build of an engine built specifically for FPS games. It’s amazing. In fact, Star Marine was MIA for much of the year; and even Chris Roberts went public and said that it was just a game mode, that backers were already playing it etc. There was a huge furor over that. Then due to what can only be attributed to a complete lack of any meaningful progress in 2016, they decided to resurrect it as a standalone module. And aside from being complete rubbish, is largely broken.
Of course during the stream they had the usual ship sales to continue raising money. Most backers weren’t having any of it; so their funding continued to tank. It’s hilarious to even talk about raising money at this point. This was a game that needed less then $5M. Then it was $12M. So far they have raised almost $140 million; and having run out of money (according to several sources), time, and amid dwindling resources and high level studio departures, dodgy corporate shenanigans etc, the conclusion is that they simply can’t build the game they promised.
Then, shortly after the stream ended, they finally released the 2.6 from Evocati to the Public Test Universe server. It was invite only of course. It completely broke the live 2.5 version, leaving other backers who have no access to either Evocati or the PTU, with a game they can no longer play. In fact, the only way to play 2.6 now is either if you are in the invitation only Evocati (800 invites), PTU (waves of four invites), or if you are a subscriber ($10 per month). Basically, with 2.5 flat out broken for most backers, if you don’t get an invite to 2.6, or you are not a subscriber, you have to pay $10 to gain immediate access to the game you already paid for. And they have no incentive to fix 2.5. So yeah.
So once again, with the Dec 22nd deadline looming, and knowing that 2.6 simply isn’t ready for wide release, as they did with the 2.0 release in Dec 2015 which was broken and didn’t work for weeks, they’re about to do the same thing by releasing it live to all backers. Except this time, 2.6 is a lot worse, and doesn’t contain any meaningful update.
As of this writing, with 2.6 MIA and 3.0 still a pipe dream, these are the major releases this year since 2.0 was released in Dec 2015
And during this period, these are ALL the Star Marine updates. Yet, here we are, over a year later, and they still can’t get it working.
Five years in dev. Two (!) years overdue. $140 million given by backers. No game delivered.
UPDATE: Beer4TheBeerGod finally got a refund!!November 19, 2016 at 8:51 am #4879
QUICK THOUGHTS ON STAR CITIZEN ANNIVERSARY STREAM 2016
The 4th quarter of each year is when CIG/RSI pulls out all the stops to raise funding. The scam campaign usually starts from GamesCom (my thoughts on 2016) in Aug, then the CitizenCon (my thoughts on 2016) in Oct; and finally closes the year with the anniversary (nobody knows of what; seeing as the campaign started in Oct, not Nov – but I digress). So this 4th anniversary stream was no different in this regard.
However, in the weeks following the disastrous CitizenCon event, a growing uprising (I wrote about that here and here) among the backers who were becoming more and more vocal, had obviously made CIG nervous. Of course they went completely radio silent on the backer dissent this whole time. Most of the complaints surrounding cash sales, discount on ships which were once high priced, delivery schedule for the 2.6 and 3.0 patches promised for year end etc.
The event itself was as boring as hell. In fact, by all accounts, it was worse than CitizenCon – if you can imagine that. A few days earlier, community manager, Lando, had tweeted that they would be playing the long awaited 2.6 patch live in the stream. So the anticipation started to build up accordingly.
It started off with a 2hr long pre-show event in which they showcased Arena Commander (the dogfighting module in the suite) and flight racing which is just another game mode that uses AC. It was as uneventful as one would expect. In fact, the only noticeable items from the list of 2.6 promises, were some minor UI changes, hardly noticeable flight dynamics, some new audio – and not much else. Even what looked like the new score leaderboards were simply broken and showed inaccurate score data.
The good part? This was all setup to run on a local LAN; which from the stream showed ping rates as high as 45 (!) ms. On a LAN. You would think that for a company building an MMO and which, as of this writing has terrible sub-par netcode, that even for a low player count they would run it across the Internet. It’s not like they don’t have 4 studios around the world – all working on the game. Heck, they even flew Tyler down from Austin to LA; as they did other streamers (e.g. Twerk17, a member of redacted who recently repeated a death threat directed at me on his stream -excerpt here – by another member of redacted) sponsored by CIG.
They subsequently had to cut the stream short and took a 3hr break. Naturally backers who were expecting to see Star Marine, were disappointed and took to Reddit and the official forums to vent.
During the wait, a source reached out to me to say that they were still having technical problems with Star Marine and that they may not even show it; though they were well aware of the ramifications of not doing so.
At some point, a series of events occurred. The first of which backers found that the prices for some ships had been increased. This appeared to be in preparation for the capital ship (Idris-P, Javelin) sales which were about to go live. Well, they went live, as did the Prowler (which looks nothing like the Copperhead ship from Final Fantasy) concept (read: JPEG) ship. These capital ships were being sold in waves in which the first wave consisted of 50 Javelins @ $2,700, and 200 Idris-Ps @ $1,300. They sold out almost immediately. As of this writing, the second wave is online and has 242 Idris-Ps left in “stock” (yeah, hilarious, I know). They made over $500K on 11/18 as a result of these sales. Remember this article about the guy who sold his fleet to finance a new car? How about the Star Citizen Grey market where these ships are bought and sold – no doubt with ill-gotten gains as per money laundering?
Then a new newsletter (which was later posted on the website) hit the inbox of backers. The TL;DR is: they need more money to finish the games promised because the $130 million (at the time) raised thus far was simply not going to be enough.
In what can only be described as utterly hilarious is that they also – for the first time ever – released something of a dev schedule for the project.
For the near term builds, they show 6 weeks past, but only 3 weeks future planning. And given all the statements they were making about Star Marine, Squadron42 etc following CitizenCon, and how they were “coming soon”, if you look at the schedule, you will see that Star Marine is targeted for release in less than two weeks; though what was shown at this stream clearly indicates otherwise. More on that later.
And even the 2.6 patch (containing Star Marine) which they played on the stream, was shown as being released to Evocati on the day (11/18) of the stream. Considering that the patch schedule is dev -> internal testing -> external (Evocati) testing -> live, how does anyone see this patch being ready for live in the short term?
And the timeline for the 3.0 patch (which sources had told me simply doesn’t exist) which Chris had gone on two recent events and said was coming by end of the year; even though he knew the statement to be patently false, is clearly nowhere in the near term schedule. In fact, it doesn’t even have a schedule. Just a listing similar to the Powerpoint slides that he has used at the two previous events. The Squadron 42 game which was coming in 2015, then 2016, and pushed into 2017, doesn’t appear in the schedule either.
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When the stream came back at 1pm PST/4pm EST, as my source had indicated, they were still having technical problems with Star Marine. They started off with more Arena Commander, more racing, ship sale shilling akin to Home Shopping Network, some talk about the lore (none of which made a lick of sense to anyone but Chris); then finally Star Marine. Even then they still couldn’t get it running. So they had another delay during which Lesnick proceeded with the usual nonsensical bullshit he’s notorious for.
For what amounted to a 4 hr stream, the highly anticipated Star Marine session came at the end (starts @1:37 and ends @1:59) – and lasted for all of 20 mins.
The less said about the controversial Star Marine, the better. It was just so embarrassing. The most depressing part for backers is that it looked a lot worse that anything they had shown in previous years, and which were built by Illfonic (no longer on the project). Seriously CIG has succeeded in licensing a top-notch CryTek engine built for fps games, and found themselves unable to actually make an fps from it. None of the innovation promised these past years are in it. Not a single (vaulting <— lol) item. What they have now shown and coming to backers in 2.6 is barely different from the fps module currently in main Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe) game. It is devoid of any innovation or anything that would try to pass for a module in a game that’s 4+ years and over $130 million in the making. You can go right now on Steam and pick any fps game in Early Access (e.g. Angels Fall First) and see better multiplayer fps. Forget about the slew of top notch triple-A fps games which recently came out, with others being released in the coming months.
Also forget about it being pre-Alpha and all that, we get it. What we don’t get is, who exactly thought that what they have now shown as coming was worthy of the wait and almost 2 year delay? The end result is that this is just one more check box from the list of promises and which, regardless of how they do it, can now be considered as delivered to backers. Bear in mind that this module was once canceled and Chris went on to say that he gets annoyed when backers bring it up because they were already playing it in the PU. Yeah.
The Squadron 42 demo/trailer which they said was “coming soon” but which they claimed wasn’t quite ready for CitizenCon, was of course a no-show. No, we didn’t see that coming – at all. Especially since I had said that it was all lies; and which sources had confirmed was in no shape to be shown live. So Chris lied again. And of course following the show, backers are now again discussing that very same issue.
So what did backers get?
- More production work on a shilling video designed to sell ships and raise money
- A wonky and completely unfinished 2.6 play through which doesn’t even have 50% of what was promised
- A 20 min play through of an unfinished and sub-par Star Marine which doesn’t even have 10% of what was promised
- A dev schedule which is barely pandering, neither contains meaningful data nor schedules for the entire project of both games
- No 3.0 patch which was promised as “before end of the year” since GamesCon in August
- No Squadron 42 demo which was promised and claimed to be “coming soon” following CitizenCon in Oct
Then they followed all this up by breaking yet another promise they had previously made to backers, by putting back on sale a slew of “rare” ships they said would never be sold again. Then they increased the prices to boot.
IF IT SOUNDS LIKE A SCAM, LOOKS LIKE A SCAM, FEELS LIKE A SCAM…
For sometime now I have been saying that they simply couldn’t build the game as pitched, but that even if they had the tech and the talent, that it would take a very long time and a lot (I had estimated $150+ million) of money to do it. They neither have the tech, nor the talent. And now they no longer have the time or money; which is why they keep using all these tricks to keep milking the few whales still giving them money due to Sunk Cost Fallacy.
This now released dev schedule which only spans 2.6 through to 4.0 (slated for end of 2017) and which accounts for barely 30% of what was promised in terms of gameplay features, should be of grave concern to any backer who was previously on the fence. It shows a game with an 8 to 10 year development span; of which they have already chewed through 4 (if you give them a pass on 2011 preparation which would make it have made it 5) years. And considering that they have never – ever – met a single milestone schedule in 4 years, it’s safe to say that this dev schedule now shared in that ludicrous “open development” nonsense, is just pandering (through blatant lies) to gullible whales in much the same manner in which they’ve used tech demos these past years to achieve the same results. Heck, back when Arena Commander was first released, they promised regular dev scheduled dates. They went with it for a whole two months – then stopped. Then they released 2.0 last Dec with the promise of “monthly” incremental patch updates. Yeah, that didn’t happen either. Then he stopped given dates entirely. Until he started again. Then promptly missed every – single – one to date. Here we are. Again.
It gets worse. Given their average crowd-funding starting from when they were lean to ramping up to over 400+ people across 4 studios, it stands to reason that there is no way they are going to keep raising $30+ million a year to keep this farce going for as long as it takes to get some version of the two promised games in a released state. And the release of Squadron 42 which is now squarely into some unknown date next year, isn’t going to change anything.
By his very conduct and statements, Chris Roberts is clearly a liar and scam artist. This whole project has now devolved into what many believe to be a massive scam in which millions of dollars have been taken from the gamers who crowd-funded this project; not to mention the bankers and investors who have had a hand in funding it. And when it collapses, it will have long term ramifications for the gaming industry, not to mention crowd-funding itself.November 5, 2016 at 8:20 am #4776
STAR CITIZEN – THE LATEST FIASCO
The past few weeks following the CitizenCon event have been very difficult and dare I say disastrous for the Star Citizen project. From the post-show videos they did in an attempt to explain away why (read my Shattered Dreams blog for more on that) Squadron 42 wasn’t shown, to the controversy over lies about procgen planets, to the status of the patches (the much delayed 2.6 patch, as well as the 3.0 patch touted at GamesCom in Aug as coming end of the year), the flippant mention of SQ42 coming to consoles – and right down to last week’s uproar over the silence on the status of both aforementioned patches.
Well in the past 24hrs, things took a turn for the worse.
For some time now I have maintained that not only has Chris Roberts blown through $130 million (a huge amount, even though we have reason to believe that the funding tracker isn’t accurate) dollars of backer (plus whatever investor and bank loans source say they have) money, but has also run out of money to fund this pipe-dream to completion. Heck, at GamesCom he flat out said that 4.0 of Star Citizen – which won’t even be 50% of what was promised – won’t be out until end of 2017 – which, going by trends means “sometime in 2018”. The longer a project takes, the more money it needs to continue. And with over 400 employees and contractors worldwide, it’s easy to see how money will eventually become an issue. As of this month, the project which was promised to be released in Nov 2014, is now officially two years late.
Yet, there are those who, rather than holding them accountable for promises made, keep rejoicing in point digit milestones such as the recently reached $130m one. It’s hilarious, and now goes way beyond Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance. When the inevitable crash comes, psychologists are going to be digging deep to figure out how so many people fell so far, and so hard for what many believe to now be the biggest scam in video game history.
So anyway, given what they did with the pre-CitizenCon Polaris sale, the stunt they just pulled should come as no surprise to backers. See, ahead of the anniversary stream which is coming in two weeks, they decided to do another ship sale. This, while par for the course won’t have been all that surprising – except for the fact that i) they discounted it ii) made it cheaper if you paid cash and didn’t use store credits (obtained via melting existing ships). What that means is, not only do they need the cash (from new buyers), but they are also willing to devalue the existing backer inventory in favor of “new money”.
Think about this. They tested the waters with the Polaris ship sale in which the pre-sale was cash only. They got over $4 million by the time the dust settled on that one. So it should come as no surprise that they would go for broke and do something similar – mere months later. And the dumb backers who keep giving them money, are 100% responsible for this. Which is why I personally don’t feel sorry for any of them anymore. Myself and countless others have done our very best to point out how this whole project is a money sink dumpster fire; and anyone with more than a few brain cells, already got a refund and bailed – and many are still doing so.
I have written several blogs outlining how this whole thing is well on track to collapse, how funding is a huge on-going issue etc. By all accounts, if they hadn’t been pulling these sort of tricks to raise funding, this whole thing would have collapsed by now, rather than being delayed and propped up by a few thousand whales. If you haven’t already, you should read both my Extinction Level Event (April 2016) and The Fidelity Of Failure (June 2016) blogs. It’s all in there. Really.
And now, just like they did with previous event videos, they now ask backers who want a refund, to watch the CitizenCon video, then review their request for a refund. This backer’s response is fantastic.
Then there was that time (Feb 18th, 2016 to be exact) when Lesnick made this statement about how bad discounting ships was.
“I for one had $11,000 USD put into this project and was a proud content creator to boot making Star Citizen cinematic videos for both INN and [REDACTED]. All of which is totaly gone now with any confidence that C.I.G can pull this project off. After being part of the tech crew that visited C.I.G Austin in Feb this year to conduct recorded interviews with both the marketing and development teams I soon came to notice a repeating pattern, only that I had to sign an N.D.A I would release the details of these conversations.
Shortly after returning I had both my financial advisers and lawyer retrieve my $11,000 pledge from C.I.G. I still wish the project all the best of luck and hope this game is built, but one thing is for sure, disrespect and mislead people who have injected the cash to build your project; the REFUND option will become very real for a lot of backers.
EDIT: To the multitude of people messaging me thanking me for stepping up and telling them how it is, you are welcome.”
“I agree with the OP post completely.
I was an original vet backer, sub-10K citizen, golden ticket holder and pledger. I sunk a few hundred dollars into the game and hoped for the best. Over the years the situation went from bad to worse to something I’ve never seen before. I eventually got a refund and backed out, waiting instead to see what happens in the long term
Bottom line. I just got tired of the lies, tired of the deceit and the excuses. I don’t know if it’s a scam or not. I don’t care if DS is right or not. I do know that CIG have some real issues which they refuse to deal with and as long as people continue to fund them at the current rate, the issue will continue and the money will run out because there is no real governance or oversight at CIG other than whatever CR ‘wants’. This is no way to run a business. Its no way to design and build a game either because it completely isolates the contributions of everyone else. And as for the ‘community’… holy hell I’ve never seen such vicious alignment to extreme positions so quickly in any game community, replete with self fulfilling prophecies and delusions too. I really wanted to be part of the ‘open development process’ but that died a long time ago too.
So I wish them well. I won’t be part of the drama going forward. I hope they get sense and wake up soon in order to produce something credible.. but I honestly don’t think we will see anything in 2017. I think 2018 / 2019 is more realistic but even at that there is a fair chance the whole thing could just implode way before that… which I really hope doesn’t happen because the ramifications for future gaming kickstarters and independent/self funded options would be horrific.
Honestly though – I cannot understand anyone who would pore more money into this endeavor at this point. I really think the kindest thing we could do for CIG now is stop the flow of money and force them to just knuckle down on one single slice of the game, with a defined scope and delivery date that they can all get behind.
More money = more delusions + more delays imho“
MONTHLY STUDIO REPORT
This one was hilarious by all accounts. I mean read the thing. Aside from the fact that it was delayed due to CitizenCon, despite the “words”, they don’t appear to have made much progress since April 2016 in various areas. Which of course explains why the current 2.5 patch is a mess, the 2.5.x currently with Evocati testing is no better, 2.6 is still a no-show, and 3.0 remains a wishlist pipe dream.
Amid all this, instead of showing playable builds of the 2.6 and 3.0 patches which they claim to be working on, they are still showing stills from animations, level design, and a bunch of other inconsequential nonsense used as filler. Then yesterday, they did the worst possible thing imaginable. On the day that Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare (which is basically the first Squadron 42 killer, by all accounts) launched to critical acclaim, CIG released “exclusive” video footage from SQ42. They need no description. Here are some clips (1, 2).
So even as some backers believe that CIG have been working on both 2.6 and 3.0 patches in tandem, despite reports to the contrary, the evidence (presented by CIG themselves) is a lot clearer. The 2.6 patch and SQ42 are priority; and 3.0 – as predicted – isn’t even close to release, let alone slated for 2016. And from what sources have been telling me, nobody has any reason to believe that 3.0 will see the light of day before mid-2017. All CIG has been doing, is what they do best: lie to backers consistently and routinely; even as they continue to unveil new and inventive ways of fleecing them for more money.
It doesn’t end there. In what can only be described as “wtf?”, they also just showed mocap animations of a space janitor mopping a floor. I kid you not. Of course there’s a White dude doing the mocap, which is shown as a Black dude in the game. Yeah.
“At this point it’s obvious that Roberts isn’t selling a game anymore so much as he’s selling time. He’s shitting himself knowing that like Derek said the game as pitched will never be possible and he’s built on impossibly broken code that is going to take years to get working even a tenth of what he originally pitched. He’s selling time for himself with all the refactoring and introducing new ships and randomly breaking down new employees with vague statements saying things need fixed. He’s fucked and working on a way to get out of it with the least amount of damage to his own ego. The game has probably been second to ego preservation for quite some time now.” – Mr. Carlisle
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