Main › Star Citizen – Scoops
September 6, 2016 at 10:21 am #4407
October 26, 2017 at 4:53 pm #5973
BREAKING NEWS! UK STAR CITIZEN COMPANIES FILE ACCOUNTS
Seeing as they tend to file late, this one caught me by surprise late last night. I am currently working on a blog with a real life accountant, and another party to make sense of all this. I have also pinged a very good contact of mine who specializes in FINCEN related crimes and misdemeanors for his take. Once I get all my ducks in a row, I will publish the blog. Until then, this is what we have so far.
What’s interesting about this one is that, no doubt sparked by the due diligence required by the Coutts loan (I wrote about that in my Final Countdown blog) which they took out, with secured collateral, it has more detailed information. This is similar to the corrections they filed in the 2015 accounts and which shed even more light on the money movements between companies.
Since 2015 I have been writing that sources had said that Chris Roberts, family and friends, had enriched themselves with backer money, outside of just wages and project related expenses. Things like setting up over a dozen corporate (some of them shells) entities around the world, buying the IP back from themselves, setting up F42-UK with backer money, then buying it back from Erin, excessive paychecks for the friends and families – and for a group of companies that has yet to ship a single game – are just some of the biggest Red flags now brought to light. And so far we only know about the UK side as the filings are public as mandated by the UK govt.
There is no way to obfuscate this. They have basically taken money out of the project, enriched themselves, then went out and not only took out loans, but also continued all kinds of deceptive practices in on-going efforts to continue squeezing backers. Meanwhile, $161 million and six years later, neither of the two games, Star Citizen or Squadron 42, is anywhere near completion.
Do you remember what happened with the crowd-funded projects which State attorneys went after? For example the Lily drone one whereby they were raided in a criminal investigation followed by the DA filing a lawsuit against them. What about that case were the FTC also took action, specifically against someone who used backer money for something else. There are several similar stories across different States in the past two years.
Well think about how all of that reflects on Star Citizen and what the founders have seemingly done with backer money. And that’s what we know on the UK side. A few months back, I had written a lengthy blog about following the money. In fact, the gist of all my Star Citizen blogs, has been about that one thing; especially given the people who were involved in this project and their past dealings.
The sad part in all this is that the award winning TheEscapist magazine who reported on this back in 2015 after reaching out to sources who confirmed what I’d written, were incessantly attacked by both Croberts and his minions. The author, Liz Finnegan, even went on to win an SPJ award for that 2015 article. That article was since removed earlier this year after CIG threatened (back in 2015) a lawsuit when it was published. With Defy Media focusing on their other properties, the recent downsizing at Defy Media, and with layoffs announced a few days ago, it makes sense now why they would have wanted to settle the matter, rather then engage in a lengthy legal battle for zero gain. Especially since CIG has the benefit of free backer money.
With the recent news of RSI refusing to issue refunds, under the guise of delays due to the much delayed 3.0 patch, even as backer whales ($24K refund attempt!) try to get their money back, while others offering suggestions ranging from chargebacks to small claims court, I feel that we’re closer to the end game now more than ever before.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the latest report in states that Over three times as many video game projects fail than succeed on Kickstarter. Take a look at the trends. Then note that Star Citizen Kickstarter was in Oct 2012.
This is a developing story. In the meantime, below are some third-party comments and analysis about the filing from the Goon numbers guys.
This year they filed their consolidated accounts. This means that rather than being just that company, the set of accounts is consolidated to include all the subsidiaries. Any transactions between subsidiaries/parent are cancelled out.
The accounts preparation improves year on year as errors get picked up. I’ve pointed out the IP issue before and it’s now apparent what happened here.
On the 1st of July 2015 CIG UK paid £1,359,185 for Intellectual Property. This isn’t entirely clear but the suggestion would be that this was for the worldwide rights to Squadron 42. The sale of intangibles for £654,612 was the US rights of Squadron 42 being sold to Cloud Imperium Games Inc. Because of apparent errors in earlier sets of accounts we can’t be sure where that £1.36m actually went to, it could quite easily be to Chris Roberts himself, or a personal services company that is essentially himself.
These are actually broken down for the first time since they filed consolidated accounts. In the UK they’ve spent a little over £1m on computer equipment to December 2016. £400k on Fixtures and fittings. £300k improving the leased premises.
This is an accountancy term that represents the extra cash paid for an asset. If a company has a value of £34,851 and you pay £440,000 then in your company’s set of accounts this is recorded as an investment of £440,000. In your consolidated group accounts however, you include the activities of the subsidiary. Because of this, you do not include that investment of £440,000. You reverse it out through a set of journals which includes the value of the assets at £34,851 and the goodwill figure of £405,149. The goodwill is then amortised (written off) over, in this example, a five year period.
As you have no doubt guessed, these are the actual figures for Cloud Imperium Games Ltd’s purchase of Foundry 42 Ltd from Erin Roberts et al.
Related parties – mistakes
Note 20 on Related Parties Transactions. Accounting errors. All amounts are actually due [b]to[/b] the respective companies, but they are in brackets so the lines that currently read “due from” are correct (Like a double negative).
It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s surprising that a professional auditor wouldn’t notice it instantly. All three disclosures should really read something like, “Amounts due (to)/from” and it would be easier all round to understand and avoid mistakes such as the one made.
Related parties – analysis
There’s three US companies under Chris Roberts control that have transactions with the UK group. These transactions, from a standard accountancy point of view, are sort of nonsensical. The flow of money however keeps changing and changed again in late 2016.
1. Roberts Space Industries Corporation. This continues to be the main money pig. The UK group tells America how much to pay and they pay. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. As the American company settles these, a balance remains. Because of poor planning, Roberts Space Industries Corporation has actually settled more costs than the UK has recharged. The balance comes down as they adjust (Compare 2015 and 2016).
2. Cloud Imperium Games, LLC. This one is interesting. In early 2015 it relinquished the role of funding the UK group that is now undertaken by Roberts Space Industries Corporation. Now we learn in late 2016 it has gone to being dependent on the UK group for financing. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. In 2015 it is a positive and in 2016 the figure is in brackets, which means it is no longer turnover for the UK group but an expense. Apparently some US expenses were actually paid by the UK group, so this figure is netted off that which is due to the American company.
3. Cloud Imperium Games Texas, LLC. This is a brand new entry for the UK in 2016 and it only has one figure. “Costs recharged in the year” is turnover for the UK group. However, this is a figure in brackets, which means it is no longer turnover for the UK group but an expense. We know this was done in late 2016 because the amounts for both CIG US companies are relatively small and remain unsettled at the year end.
Related parties – conclusion
What this means is that they have once again refactored the way the money moves around the companies. All sales continue to be made and received by the US companies and flow to Roberts Space Industries Corporation where it is funneled to the UK and distributed in the UK but now, going forward some will then flow back to the US to pay for Cloud Imperium Games(, LLC and Texas, LLC). Pointless.
Financial Risk Management
“The Company does not actively use financial instruments as part of its financial risk management.” I’m not sure how this ties into the reddit hivemind and the infamous Sunday panic statement by Ortwin. It seems pretty unlikely however that the “pay day loan” was some sort of hedge against currency exchange rates.
Completely Speculative Conclusion
Steps have been taken to change the flow of money. It appears going forward (and this means since December 2016) that perhaps nearly all the income is going to be funneled to the UK from the USA. Some of this is then moved back to the US to cover expenses in Texas and LA. This would have the appearance of higher income in the UK group. We know in 2017 that CIG UK put up a lot of collateral to secure loans. It would be in their best interest if the interim management accounts provided to banking institutions showed more turnover. Also beyond just the vanity of a higher turnover figure, there’s the fact that the UK is now receiving its funding before studios in LA and Texas for example. The sort of thing a lender in the UK might stipulate.
“This is something I don’t understand at all – if they created Foundry to build the game then charged them for the license… where did Foundry get the £2 million from? Did they go into £2 million debt right off the bat to develop a game for the brother of the guy who runs the studio? But then didn’t CIG buy Foundry outright further down the line anyway?
Why sell them the license when you are contracting them to build the game that the license covers anyway?
Absolutely none of this makes any sense to me“
The IP is actually in the books of CIG UK not Foundry 42 Ltd. Basically, by moving things around it is easier to introduce actual bank loans. Banks would not normally lend a company money to buy shares from the directors or IP from the directors or companies owned by the directors.
This was a summary of the activity of CIG UK specifically that strips out the inter-group transactions:
Sources of funding
£710k Long Term Loans
£290k Short Term Creditors
£200k Shareholder Investment 
£650k Sale of IP to USA company
£440k purchase of Foundry 42 Ltd from Erin Roberts and others 
£ 50k Admin Expenses
£1.36m IP purchase from USA company/Chris Roberts?
“Well even if the Google Sheet was accurate, let’s assume that it is a best case scenario as well, then they have a huge issue, it shows that they have raised $21M so far this year although the cashflow forecast would need them to raise $30M, a difference of $9M. With projected cash reserves of $13M at year end, assuming that their costs were as anticipated and that they did not take in any more debt then cash reserves are probably down to $4M right now. If this trend continues, losing around $1M a month in cashflow, then they would be illiquid by Feb 2018. Again, this is purely speculation based on the forecast, they would have to start reducing team sizes and costs, if not already done so, to try and balance the cashflow. Of course, if they start getting more negative press then this would only detract further pledges from the community leading them into a cash leaking spiral.“
Even the simplest concept like turnover isn’t straight forward for the UK group. The parent company, Cloud Imperium Games UK Ltd and Foundry 42 Ltd, basically have zero turnover. It gets zeroed out in the group accounts. The only company that has actual “turnover” is Roberts Space Industries International Ltd. The one with the £1 balance sheet that is really a non-trading company.
But even they are uncomfortable with this being turnover. It’s a non-trading company and the accounts make different references to it. This behaviour (calling your headline turnover, “costs recharged in the period”) is not in any way standard. I’ve never even heard of this term before in an actual accountancy setting. It’s strange but another first for CIG I guess.
“The fact that Robert Space Industries and Roberts Space Industries are both registered companies in this money shifting scam should set off alarm bells too. Licensing their own IP to themselves is just the tip of the iceberg.
However whenever brought up, Shitizens believe it’s totally normal for a studio working on their first game have 17+ LLCs and corporations registered. This whole saga is just laughable how pathetic it is. Instead it is Frontier, the makers of Elite, who are ruining PC gaming with their cash grabbing! I mean, come on, they have 3 different large games in the works now and still only have Frontier Developments plc and Frontier Developments Inc. registered as their corporate entities. Totally pathetic way to run a business.”
I updated my wildly optimistic cashflow estimate for Star Citizen. The main assumptions made are the low costs for running companies in LA, Texas, and Germany compared to Manchester. Also that Subcontractors are really cheap. Yeah. I also assume that they receive $36mil this year in pledges and that refunds all time are negligible.
In this fantasy best case scenario the end of 2017 sees a cash balance of around $13mil with bank loans of $5.5mil. Obviously they could pay the loan off, but then they would have cash of $7.5mil.
It’s worth thinking back to June 2017 though. At the end of June, Star Citizen would not yet have received their tax credit rebate in respect of 2016 some $4mil, also no estimated bank loan of $4mil against 2017 tax credits. Also their half year income was only $13mil compared to the yearly $36mil estimate. Expenses would have been half a year’s worth. Working capital would have been tight in places. A more realistic/pessimistic estimate than mine would probably include bank loans in Germany and the United States and higher expenses in these places. It is really surreal that they still need to hit $177mil in pledges this year and this can be balanced directly with the product available at the same time, not any future product which will require ongoing funding.
UPDATE: In a four part series, a UK accountant takes a look at the financials in great detail; revealing glaring issues and omissions. Not to mention the disappearance of over £2.4m that seemingly disappeared off the books.June 12, 2017 at 8:09 pm #5325
2015 STAR CITIZEN FINANCIALS FROM FOUNDRY 42 (UK)
The 2015 financials are up. For the first time, they actually filed on time this time around. I wonder what could possibly be going on over there. If I had to guess, I would say that section 19 has something to do with it.
Anyway, the numbers are in stark contrast to the 2015 (analysis here) numbers. As of Dec 2016, they had £593K ($754K) in the bank. Considering that they get money from the parent (Cloud Imperium Games UK) company as-needed, there is no immediate concern here. If the parent company runs out of money, well, they’re screwed. They actually mention this “going concern” in section 1.2 of the filing.
They are now taking the tax credits awarded by the government for software companies in the region. For 2016, they took £3.3m ($4.1m) allowance, and with the £3.1m ($3.9m) taken in 2015, brings the total tax credit to £6.4m ($8.1m) thus far. Due to how this is calculated (after expenses), this tax credit adds approximately £6.4m ($8.1m) to the projects P&L calculations.
Yearly expenses increased from £12.7m ($16m) to £15.4m ($19.5m), which is an average of £225K ($285K) per month.
The average employee count increased from 132 in 2015, to 221 in 2016. This was a financial increase from £5.9m ($7.4m) to £9.8m ($12.4) in wages and benefits. What’s curious here is that they hired 89 more people in 2016, with an increase of only £3.9m ($4.9m) in wages & benefits. Thus making the average yearly “per person” increase of only £43.8K ($55.4K). Given those numbers, these are probably either mostly interns, or part-time contractors. Especially when you consider their monthly burn rate for prior years.
It appears that they still owe money to NatWest bank. Going from the financials, that amount seems (it’s not stated with clarity in section 13) to be £794K ($1m).
They don’t own the building they are in. Their five year lease is now disclosed as being £249K ($315K) per year.
Alarmingly, Erin Roberts (brother of CEO, Chris Roberts), the director of the studio, took a pay increase from £152.7K ($193.5) to £230K ($291.3) in 2016. As if it wasn’t bad enough that it was previously over 2x the average for someone in his position in the Manchester region; at that 22% increase, it is way higher than the inflation increase for the region. Aside from the fact that the average salary in the region declined by almost 2x the inflation rate between 2015-2016 period. Not to mention the overall financial conditions in the UK, especially in the videogame sector. Oh well, backers will never know.
To date, they’ve raised over $151m in crowd-funded money, not including known and unknown loans, as well as other outside investment money, without ever shipping either of the promised games. So even as they keep using all kinds of tricks to continue raising money from the few remaining gullible believer whales, they’re basically continuing to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense of the project. If Erin alone is making this much money, one can only wonder what the rest of the people in the nepotism-r-us friends (Elms brothers, Derek Senior, Ortwin Freyermuth) and family (Chris & Sandi Roberts) program are making off a project they seemingly stand no chance of ever delivering on.
Section 19 is very curious. Due to the huge restated amount of £2.4m ($3.0m) from 2015, it reads like the sort of thing that would result from either a govt audit, or them just cleaning up their books in order to pass any due diligence muster. Also, as they’re now taking tax credits, it makes sense that these sort of numbers should be devoid of any such discrepancies, or they would also be in some serious problems with the govt. If you look at the chart from the previous analysis, with these restated numbers, it is now also clear that though the company doesn’t sell anything, they’re using money received from the parent (the backer piggy bank) company, as their income/turnover cash flow.
A single studio is burning about $2m per month. Yet, when we estimated that they had to be burning approx $3m per month worldwide (five studios), some said nuh-uh. In 2016, they raised about $36m, and this single studio burned through about $24m (including the $8m tax credit) of it.
“Finally there is one very important element – the more funds we can raise in the pre-launch phase, the more we can invest in additional content (more ships, characters etc.) and perhaps more importantly we can apply greater number of resources to the various tasks to ensure we deliver the full functionality sooner rather than later” – Chris Roberts, Sept 16, 2013
UPDATE: Analysis of suspicious asset allocation.
STATE OF THE SCAM
As it stands, the upcoming highly anticipated 3.0 patch, as per the schedule update of June 9th, is already late, and with a slew of items either on the “TBD” chopping block, or delayed by up to a whole month. In fact, since the schedule first showed up six months ago, it’s been consistently rubbish. When sources recently told me that the public schedule was bullshit, and that it didn’t even reflect the internal dev schedule, I was a bit skeptical. It all makes sense when you consider all the radical changes to the schedule, and then think back to Aug 19, 2016, during GamesCom, when Chris stated this:
“.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.“
That was a whole 10 months ago. So by the time it is released – assuming Aug (yah! just in time for another GamesCom fundraising) – it would have been a year since it was “coming in four months”.
The changes in last week’s schedule update are truly hilarious. Some highlights:
Line 47: Procedural Planets
Line 154: Netcode
Line 162-182: Cargo
Line 180: Repair. This was feature complete in the last schedule. Now it’s back on the menu + 2 weeks.
Line 208-211: Component system (in case you missed it, read my latest Quora reply regarding performance issues)
Line 349: Volumetric Fog. Notice how it was due to be completed on June 9th (today), but somehow isn’t marked as “Feature Complete”? Yeah, me too.
Line 378: Mission System Broker. Delayed a whole – freaking – month. LOL! I’m dying.
Whatever they brand and release as 3.0 between July and Aug, is going to truly test the patience and loyalty of the remaining (those who didn’t get a refund off this sinking ship) backers. Even those who are probably laundering money through the game, are going to be concerned. From what I am hearing from inside sources, 3.0 is going to be just another chopped up mess, masquerading as a point (remember 2.0? yeah, me too) release, just in time for a critical fundraising (Gamescom in Aug, CitizenCon in Oct) drive as 2017 draws to a close. As I’ve written before, every single promise they have made for planets (moons vs planets), networking (critical revisions removed from schedule), etc in 3.0, has either been revised/removed, or in a state of disarray. But wait! If you read my May 24th analysis of the networking and instancing issues they have to contend with, it should give a good idea of what they are facing, and what to expect if/when 3.0 is actually released.
Two years ago in July 2015, after they had raised an unprecedented $85m, I stated in my Interstellar Citizens blog that they simply couldn’t build the game as pitched, let alone for less than $150m. I had no clue that two years later, with an engine switch, and over $151m raised, that they still wouldn’t have shipped either of the two games, let alone 25% of the Star Citizen MMO game. It’s just amazing to me.
And with E3 2017 going on, and the studio and the projects (Star Citizen and Squadron 42) nowhere (they were last seen at the Amazon Lumberyard showcase booth at GDC 2017 in Feb) in sight, given the amazing games on display, all made for less than $150m, it stands to reason that, as most of us have said all along, this project – in its entirety – is DOA. It will never be “finished”, let alone delivered as promised.September 9, 2017 at 12:49 pm #5764
THE EXTINCTION LEVEL EVENT
Back in April 2016, I wrote the Star Citizen – Extinction Level Event blog which was my ground zero point for the inevitable collapse of the project. In July 2015 when I wrote that first Interstellar Citizens blog, I had already expressed my opinions as to why I didn’t think the project was possible, and even so, not without a capable team, engine, and minimum $150M. In April 2016 when I wrote that E.L.E blog, they had already raised $112M (according to the public funding chart).
In that E.L.E blog, I wrote about several events which I believed were evidence of an E.L.E (btw it isn’t an instantaneous event. It is a series of ripple events over time, until the final end) that was moving along apace. I said:
“For about two weeks now I have been hinting that on-going events which, combined with what has transpired long before this project turned into the shit-show that it is now, are likely to see this project result in a catastrophic collapse before they can deliver on promises. If you are in the media, a backer (are you a disgruntled whale? then you’re even more vested; do something), or in a position of authority, you need to do one thing, and one thing only. Ignore all the noise and the drama, because my opinion remains the same, the game is never going to come out as promised. Instead, just follow the money.“
I also opined about some very specific things which I will outline below.
1) Terms Of Service Agreement
Having failed to deliver the games in Nov 2014 (the same month they were fully funded to $65M for the over-scoped project), and with the additional 18 month ToS deadline approaching, I stated that they would likely change it again because the projects were nowhere near completion. I said :
“You could start with the ever-changing ToS which, effective May 31st, 2016 from their inability to deliver as promised, requires them to provide not only refunds, but also a financial accounting of how the money raised from backers, has been spent. They’re unlikely to do it. And there is a reason that they shifted that date from 12 months (expired Nov 30th, 2015) to 18 months (expires May 31st 2016).”
They changed it in June 2016 to a version that not only removed certain promises (refunds, financial accountability etc) made to backers, but also set the stage for the reduction of liability in the event of a catastrophic collapse of the project. I have an entire forum dedicated to the discussion of those changes.
2) The Refund Debacle
They were actively refusing refunds, even though Chris Roberts had gone on the record saying that refunds were not guaranteed because the 2.0 build (released in Dec 2015), was a “substantial update”. I said:
“That aside from the fact that they have been routinely refusing to give refunds to people who have seen through the lies, and want their money back. They prematurely released a broken tech demo in Q4/15 as the first PU 2.0 – which as was to be expected, netted them quite a bit of cash. Shortly after, in a bid no doubt designed to curb the flow of backers ejecting and asking for refunds, they started using it as an excuse to refuse refunds. And when Sandi Gardiner got into an exchange with Beer, an early backer and previously staunch supporter, here’s the fallout from that fiasco.”
Less than a month later after I stated that they had no legal reason to refuse refunds, having missed the dates in their own ToS by a wide margin, a backer who was refused a sizable refund, decided to test my theory. He went straight to the CA State authorities who agreed with my assessment. Barely a week later, he got his refund, and refunds became a thing again, and continues as of this writing. It wrote Star Citizen – The Refund Debacle blog about the whole thing.
3) The Engine Dilemna
Chris made key statements in a Dec 2015 broadcast that led me to believe that they had reconciled the fact that, as I had stated back in July 2015, they didn’t have the engine needed to make the games promised. I said:
“As I stated in my first July 2015 blog, they simply don’t have the tech to build the game he promised. He knows it. His team of skilled engineers know it. The backers (at least those who are paying attention) know it. It’s simply not a secret anymore; and he has said so himself after so many denials and rebuttals to my blog statements and commentary. And the fact that they keep systematically cutting things out, walking back promises etc, they have completely proven the point that I made in my first blog back in July 2015″
At GamesCom 2016, Brian Chambers, studio head at F42-GER where the primary engine dev takes place, stated in an interview that they had modified CE3 “by about 50%”. In Sept, I wrote that it simply wasn’t enough. I said :
“At the end of the day, as I mentioned in my missive, in order to come up with a custom engine which would make it somewhat possible to build vision 2.0 of the game, they would have to modify CE3 by a whole lot more than 50%. And even so, the underlying CE3 architecture is still going to be there because things like scene management, 64-Bit positioning, networking etc, are all the things they would need to either rip out and replace, or build on top of. And the time it takes for them to be doing all that, could have been spent building a custom engine which specifically does what they want.
It is hard for a none programmer to quite grasp how horrendous it is to go back and modify someone’s code; let alone an engine built by several people. Which is why, last year when people were saying that opening F42-GER with ex-CryTek engineers was going to be the magic bullet, most of us who know better, just laughed. It’s been almost 18 (?) months since; look at what they have now.
To be clear, I don’t envision there ever being a time whereby their CE3 FrankenEngine ever powers vision 2.0 of the game. I simply don’t see it happening. For that, would need to modify CE3 by 90% or more. Well, therein lies the rub.”
In Dec 2016, without having previously said anything about it, we learned that they had switched from one CryEngine 3 derivative to another (Lumberyard) in the 2.6 release. I wrote extensively about that in my Star Citizen – Irreconcilable Differences blog a few days later.
And if you read my article on the disastrously disappointing GamesCom 2017 show this past August, then you already know where this is headed.
4) Minimum Viable Product
For years I had stated that they simply couldn’t build the game pitched, and that they would be left with no choice but to ship “something”, release it, then if they survive the fallout, build on that. I said:
“Here’s the thing; he could have ten like them and NEVER build the game he wants to build. Aside from that, he’s got a bunch of ex-CryTek (the company that developed the engine they are using as a baseline) parked in a separate studio in Frankfurt Germany. That was almost a year ago. Still no game – or anything that remotely resembles one. Why? BECAUSE IT CAN’T BE DONE. PERIOD.”
A few days after my E.L.E blog went live, Chris in a broadcast, made clear that they couldn’t in fact deliver the games promised, and that they were instead going to work on an MVP; then build from there. In my follow-up article, I called that plan the final nail in the Star Citizen coffin.
He made the same claims in an interview from this past GamesCom 2017 event. You can read about that in my GC2017 coverage. It’s eye-opening.
5) Financial Difficulties
Having raised about $112M at the time, without ever delivering an Alpha product, rumors started swirling that they were – again – facing financial difficulties. I said:
“Rumors and unconfirmed reports have been swirling for months that they’re running out of money to complete these projects, that they’ve been seeking external investor funding, trying to take advantage of tax credits etc. Even over in the UK, where reports like this come out, there is no evidence of them ever filing with the BFI if they did in fact take advantage of UK tax credits. If they’re out trying to raise investor money, it should come as a complete shock to anyone who thinks that $112M should have been enough to, you know, develop the game as promised. All the negativity surrounding the game, the shitty and toxic community that has sprung up around it; the aforementioned videos of a shitty tech-demo (aka CryEngine mod) everyone is now laughing (1, 2) at, are collectively likely to affect any efforts to raise money outside of a bunch of gullible whales firmly entrenched in sunk cost fallacy and cognitive dissonance. Here’s the thing, any investor or investment banker looking to invest in a project which, for five years, has raised over $112M (that we know of) for a project that the creator was originally asking $2M from the public, should be doing extensive research into all the execs associated with this project.”
Later that year, between the Aug GamesCom 2016 and Oct CitizenCon 2016, Chris did the following: (1) presented an R&D demo being passed off as live 3.0 gameplay (which was later debunked by me, forcing them to admit to it) (2) claimed that the build – which he was playing – was due out on or before Dec 19th (3) didn’t show SQ42 as was expected, but later released a “Road To CitizenCon” video which proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that they didn’t even have anything to show of SQ42 at the event – but they lied about it anyway.
As a result of these carefully planned events – seemingly designed to mislead and rip off backers – he subsequently raised about $23M through that period. All based on what we now know, almost a year later, to be pure lies.
It didn’t stop there. It wasn’t until June 2017, that we finally learned that the aforementioned rumors were in fact true. This time, they had taken out a loan in the UK, while pledging assets paid for by backers, as collateral. I wrote about this in my Star Citizen – The Final Countdown blog, and also in a follow-up article about a week later.
Since that April 2016, E.L.E blog, every single thing they have done has been about raising money by any means necessary. This has included on-going JPEG concept sales, showcasing carefully crafted videos at events being passed off as the game in order to continue raising money from backer whales, various refund shenanigans in which some backers are reporting that they are either not getting their full and correct refunds, or CIG is making it prohibitive (e.g. requesting ID, attempting to refund to expired or invalid credit/debit cards etc) for them etc.
I have also learned that CIG is going to stop issuing refunds very soon, due to their on-going financial difficulties.
Then, out of nowhere, an industry developer wrote an extensive two-part article outlying why he thinks that the project is now in financial distress.
THE EXIT STRATEGY
About a week ago, I had a very disturbing discussion with a top tier (CEO of a large and well known studio) industry peer with connection to several people working on this project. That discussion left me shaken with anger, resentment, and confusion. I released this Tweet.
“BREAKING! Huge Star Citizen news inbound! 1st, read my Extinction Level Event blog from April 2016 for context”
Basically people in the industry who are either connected to the project, or to someone who is, are all talking now more than ever before. And the general theme is that the project is, as has been reported before, a complete failure, that Chris Roberts was not only looking around for investment, but also seeking an “exit” strategy. Speaking to several of my sources, they indicated to me that people are already leaving (Note that this is the most difficult industry to find work in, so leaving a project is not a decision that is made lightly) either through termination, or resignation. In fact, several of the recent ones already went public.
Statements made include, as has been reported before, that Chris Roberts is difficult to work with, and has run the project into the ground due to not taking the advice of the people he is paying to build these games, even as him and his friends blow through backer money irresponsibly. Most people on the project are basically pulling a paycheck until the final collapse because, as I mentioned before, it’s very hard to find work in the industry these days; no matter who is hiring.
You know why I’m mad? Because he’s done this before. I recently posted a short compilation which would give you some insight into what I’m talking about.
And now comes this….
Though I can’t go into a lot of detail at this point because it would compromise some sources, even as I await further clarification, I also learned at the same time that, in addition to the dozen or more corporations involved in this venture, this past Aug 29th, they formed yet another shell corporation in the UK called Cloud Imperium Rights LTD. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of another shell corp, CIG UK Ltd. I know what the implications of this are, I know the details, and I know what it’s for. But unless and until I obtain some key pieces of information that I am awaiting, I can’t yet say anything more about it. In fact, the only reason that I am even mentioning this at all is because though some of us have been discussing it in private, some people are now also aware of the existence of this new entity – though they have no clue what it’s for, nor why it exists.
FYI: Back in early August, Playdek which had raised over $660K via crowd-funding, abandoned the project, then passed the rights off to another company.
My April 2016 E.L.E blog was written for a reason. More soon.
UPDATE 2: Eurogamer just published an interview Chris Roberts gave at GamesCom 2017. It’s an eye-opening read which contains ample evidence of what I’ve stated that they can’t develop the game promised, and that they were possibly planning to dump 3.0 as a Minimal Viable Product. I covered this extensively in various blogs. To recap his statements from April 18th, 2016:
“…and, awh, wuh… we’ll have what will sort of determine a sort of… MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT FEATURE LIST for what you would call STAR CITIZEN the COMMERCIAL RELEASE, which is basically when you say, “OK! Ah, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more COOL STUFF and MORE CONTENT and MORE FUNCTIONALITY and MORE FEATURES”, which by the way includes some of… the LATER STRETCH GOALS we have cos not all of that’s meant to be for ABSOLUTELY RIGHT HERE, on the commercial release…“
I like how he says the public schedule is the same as the internal one. I guess 3.0 did come out in 2016.
I am also thrilled to see that he is still reading my articles because I was the first and only person to leak that the internal and public schedules were different.
So basically, he’s gone from a $160m (as of now) crowd-funded project with a Nov 2014 delivery date, to pre-Alpha, and now right into an early access release instead, thus removing any future release dates.
He’s a liar, a scam artist, and a fraud.
UPDATE 1: For those of you asking about the ramifications of this new shell company, my answer is that I can’t say anything more about it until I get additional feedback, answers to some questions I’ve asked, as well as clearance to share some of the other pertinent info that I am not permitted to share at this point.
However, I can share a bit of background to give you an idea of why this new shell company should be raising new Red flags even if nothing funny is going on. Even it was for the sole purpose of IP licensing etc, they don’t need another EU shell corporation when they already have three in the same country, and another, F42-GER in Germany.
What this new shell company highlights is how they have systematically taken money out of these corporate entities.
Basically Chris took approximately $75M (publicly filed expenses from the formation of the studio) of backer money and built/maintained F42-UK studio for his brother and lifelong friends (The Elms, Derek Senior et al over in the UK). The corporation papers were filed in Sept 2013.
Then in 2014, at the height of the crowd-funding windfall, they turned around, and through CIG-UK, bought the company back from Erin et al for £440k, thus taking money OUT of the entity. Money which should have been spent on developing the games. Money which btw, is funneled from the US by CIG-UK via the RSI-UK subsidiary.
And during that time, they were putting the company into debt with not one, but now two UK loans – one of which collateralizes IP and assets paid for with backer money – even after taking money out of the entities for no good cause other than what can only be regarded as Unjust Enrichment. And we don’t know what is going with the US side of the financials, as those aren’t public.
All of the above in addition to Erin taking a larger than normal salary, even while giving himself salary raises and bonuses – never having shipped a single product.
The other question mark in their books is that in 2015, CIG-UK bought an IP “on paper” for £1.36m. That same year, it sold that same IP to the tune of about £2m, thus booking a “profit” of about £655k. Nobody knows what that IP is. But my guess is that, since they’ve never even mentioned it, and the fact that they “sold” it, points to them selling Star Citizen and/or Squadron 42 related IP among their shell companies. Hilariously, even with the profit, the end of year filing for the value of the aforementioned IP, is still £1.36m.
As there are no books to show who the IP was bought from or sold to, it stands to reason that it wasn’t sold to any of the UK entities (or it would be recorded there in the P&L which we have access to in the UK), but maybe to either one of the other shell companies in the US or in GER. Companies for which backers have no financial access or overview.May 26, 2017 at 7:54 pm #5276
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED TO 2018
As I reported on Twitter earlier today, several sources, as they have done twice before in 2015 and 2016, have once again informed me that SQ42 is now a 2018 game. In fact, the current internal schedule shows it stretching all the way to mid-2018, and possibly beyond. The past two times that I had reported this, some people didn’t believe it. And CIG kept denying it. This Sept 2016 denial was my favorite. Both 2015 and 2016 came and went. Right up to the blatant lies that CIG told during the events (GamesCom and CitizenCon) of Q4/2016. I wrote extensively about that in my Shattered Dreams blog from Oct 2016.
Sources also tell me that they’re frantically trying to either get a preview or trailer out before the end of the year. So yeah, probably a repeat of Q4/2016 all over again.
Oh, and they have definitely chopped up the SQ42 game. I reported on this back in 2016 as well, but they have apparently stuck to the goal of releasing the once full game, into bits and pieces in order to “keep things going and raising money”. It makes perfect sense if you ask me. They know that the minute they release any “final” version of any portion of this train-wreck project, that’s it’s all over. So why not maintain the bait and switch Status Quo by splitting a full game into parts, then sell them separately? If you recall, they did that back in 2016 when they split SQ42 from Star Citizen, in order to sell it separately. Except this time, they’re going to split SQ42 even further. Which, now that I think about it, explains why you can buy that game for $15 (instead of $45) if you buy it as a bundle ($45 + $15) with Star Citizen. My God man! We’re doing it all wrong.
DAT DEV SCHEDULE!
I have seen it.
And it goes beyond 2017, and all the way to 2021. <—- LOL!!
The internal dev schedule looks absolutely nothing like the public dev schedule they put up for backers. Not only does the internal one have entries for SQ42, but it also shows all the tech and asset dependencies that the title is currently awaiting. Since SQ42 uses the same engine as Star Citizen Actual, it stands to reason that, networking fiasco aside, they simply can’t complete that title without those core engine components and assets.
When they first released a dev schedule, following backer dissent and outcry, it was along the lines of what was shown in Q4/2016. They got quite a bit of money by the time dust settled, and backer trust (in some regard) was regained. That didn’t last very long because shortly thereafter, they released a new version for the upcoming 3.0 that looked nothing like the original plan, though it did go all the way to 4.0. Then, shockingly, they later released another version which completely removed everything after 3.2. Yeah.
Basically, having failed to “save PC gaming“, while singing the “death to publishers!” theme song, Chris is basically doing what publishers know some devs with publisher funding tend to do: maintain two separate schedules. One to keep the publisher happy, and milestones paid; and one that’s the actual internal one which they hope will match the timeline that leads to a game. It’s the equivalent of having two accounting “books”, one of which is highly fraudulent. Only this time, backers are the publishers. Except that the backers still giving them money, are either completely gullible fools, or they’re using Star Citizen to launder money as I wrote in my Money Laundromat blog.
It is amazing to me that there are two games in development; but yet still, even though backers haven’t seen anything tangible from SQ42 since the Godawful Morrow Tour from 2015, that it doesn’t even appear in the public dev schedule. It’s as if it doesn’t even exist; or that they know if they release it, that backers would freak out, and see that it’s nowhere near complete in the short-term. This despite the fact that they keep showing art and videos purportedly from the game. But that’s normal though, right?
What’s even more egregious to me, is that backers have forked out over $150 million for two games, but they have to rely on insider leaks – for a crowdfunded project – to get most of the tangible and reliable information about the project they paid for. And they still don’t have a clue about most of what’s left to do in the games. So we have a public tracker that’s just as hilarious as it is shocking.
The project is FUBAR. And backers are in for the most interesting shocker yet. But I’m holding on to that one for now. Stay tuned.June 24, 2017 at 8:34 am #5346
THE STAR CITIZEN PROJECT IS IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE
As I have reported in the past, for some time now sources have informed me that the project was in financial straits. Despite denials from some in the toxic backer community, and silence from CIG/RSI – even though they had pledged to provide financials to backers – their recent 2016 financials filing in the UK, had some curious entries which served to support this notion.
Read more in Star Citizen – The Final Countdown blog.
STAR CITIZEN 3.0 DELAYED – AGAIN. BUT THE SALE MUST GO ON!
The on-going saga surrounding the much touted 3.0 build also just had another event.
Back on May 26th, I wrote up an article based on some new info sent to me via various sources. Sources had claimed that not only was Squadron 42, the single player game based on Star Citizen, not due out in 2017, but neither is Star Citizen itself. They also claimed that the internal dev schedule was totally different from the public version, and that the former stretched all the way to 2021.
Since they started publicizing the dev schedule, it has been consistently riddled with bogus and highly questionable entries. During that time, they continued to use all kinds of new and inventive ways to squeeze their backer whales for money, under the guise of progress being made on the project. And they just did it – again.
After announcing a new concept sale for June 23rd (date of new schedule) weeks prior, they started the sale a day before the new schedule was due to be released. The sale was for a “racing” bike, which doesn’t exist, and for a game mechanic that doesn’t exist either; but which they have been touting as coming in 3.0. The same build in which they touted procedural planets, but have now settled for “level” based moons and planetoids due to on-going technical difficulties with the engine. I wrote about this on June 22nd:
“**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.
Croberts working on his new justification speech (aka newsletter), in which he may have no choice but to admit that the switch to LY hasn’t been as straightforward (gee, who knew!?) as they made it out to be – seven months ago.
It’s amazing to me that since July 2015, I’ve been right about so many things, that those guys don’t even bother recapping them anymore. This despite the fact that I document them religiously in my blogs and forum posts – for a reason.
All that aside, the primary claim that “they can’t build the game as pitched” and which everyone was saying that I was wrong about, remains true.
Ignoring the $150m (they were at $85, and have since passed this) + proper engine (they switched to the more advanced LY) that I said they would need to pull it off.
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
ps: There is another JPEG sale tomorrow June 23rd. So they’re probably going to lie in tomorrow’s 3.0 schedule update, then update it again the following week with the proper data.”
The sale for the Nox bike went up, and so far they have raised about $700K from it. Bear in mind that the funding chart is said to be highly inaccurate and being manipulated and used by CIG/RSI as a way to show that there is continued interest in the project,
Then the 3.0 schedule went up the day following the sale. And it’s hilariously as expected.
On June 20th, I had written that, from looking at the June 16th schedule, that there was no way they were going to make it.
“But 3.0 is on the way. The Evocati “aim” date, as per last week’s schedule update, is 06-21-17 to 07-05-17. We know that’s probably not going to happen. And when it eventually drops, we’ll see what the performance is like.”
So in last week’s schedule, the Evocati (closed test group) release date window was 06/21/17 – 07/05/17. This week it’s now 07/07/17 – 07/20/17. And from comparing it to the previous schedule, while littered with entries such as “TBD” and “delayed due to unforeseen shortage in resources”, it’s clear that they’re not likely to make that date either.
Basically, a total of 7 items were “completed” (this is subjective, when you look at notes which indicate that such tasks spawned new sub-tasks), and a total of 19 (!) were pushed back.
This is all in line with sources saying that the internal dev and public schedules are completely out of sync, and that CIG/RSI are just releasing as much as they feel is needed to appease backers. As far back as the April schedule, which I wrote about, among other things, and during which it was scheduled to be released the end of June, I was saying that it’s highly unlikely to happen.
The Star Citizen Tracker which is religiously maintained and updated as development continues, is a stark reminder that, regardless of the rumored 2021 date (subject to further delays of course), there is so much work left to be done, that even if they automagically got the resources (money, talent, tech) to pull it off, that it clearly has another five or more years to go.
And here I was, back in July 2015 being conservative when I stated that to pull off what they promised would require $150 million minimum, a competent team, and capable engine. Since that time, at $85 million raised, they’ve exceeded that $150m, and switched engines – even as they continue to bleed experienced talent who are being replaced by inexperienced people who have to get up to speed on a six year project.
With their two biggest fundraising events, GamesCom (Aug 22-26) and CitizenCon (Oct 27th) coming up, as they have done in the past, it is likely that they will brand and push out whatever build (3.0 was previously 2.7, as sources had stated that the former didn’t exist at the time Chris announced it) they have in time for either of those two events.
Which brings me to…
THE LATEST BLATANT CASH GRAB
Basically, ahead of this latest sale, without any forewarning or announcement, they yanked the Redeemer ship from sale.
Unless you are familiar with how the game’s assets work, you won’t understand what just happened. Basically, this move not only removes the ability for backers to trade up and/or trade in better ships, but it also requires them to spend more money in order to get what they want. Here, are some choice comments (1, 2 3) from those affected.
“I’ve got a big ship pack and am fully reliant on CCUs to convert the contained ships into the ones I want.
After CIG’s initial threat to erase all $0 CCUs from our hangars, I quickly hunkered down to make a solid upgrade plan, got it in place, and bought all the necessary CCUs. These were not particularly cheap, and largely revolved around using the Redeemer as a stepping stone, simply because it iswas the only always-available ship at that price. Now a large majority of the upgrade plan that CIG ‘encouraged’ me to invest in just got decimated. And the remainder of it will go down the drain with the $0 CCU wipe, removing the CCUs I can now no longer use because of the Redeemer removal.
I’m starting to have some serious regret about giving money to a company that treats its backers with such blatant hostility.”
I bought the 5-pack of the Nox with the sole intention of grabbing 3x Redeemers so I could use my Eclipse and BMM CCU with LTI, and still have a Redeemer and a Nox to hang on to.
Without warning that kinda screws up my plans to finalize ships before the 3.0 $0CCU wipe…
“My guess is that the Redeemer was removed to break the $0 CCU conversion to Banu Merchantman.
Might be a very clever first step to the anticipated Great $0 CCU Hangar Cleanout of ’17.
Once they started doing sudden, unannounced price changes on existing ships (like BMM going from $250>$300>$350), the writing was on the wall.
My guess is they WILL continue to announce prices for new Concept ships ahead of time (as stated), but they WON’T announce price hikes for anything that isn’t new. And temporarily removing the Redeemer removes a critical permanent CCU upgrade point.
So…. Remove previously permanent ships temporarily, mix in some selective price hikes, and remove old $0 CCUs from hangars- it will go along way to stop the ability to build ships for less than sticker price.
If you can, complete any upgrade chains while it is still possible!”
STILL BUILDING TOOLS & TECH
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.July 8, 2017 at 8:52 am #5521
Once again, sources are telling me that the performance issues seen in the recent AtV broadcast (my analysis), are thus far insurmountable, and that they don’t know how this upcoming 3.0 patch (analysis of latest dev schedule) is ever getting released without that being addressed.
More talk about access to moons and planetoids possibly ending up being #justanotherlevel via a menu option.
Claim that if they were to release 3.0 within the “next 90 days”, that it would be an unmitigated disaster.
I hope they release it – at least to Evocati (so I can get my hands on it).
CryEngine is legendary for its performance issues in pure fps games. We’ve seen in the 2.6.x builds just how horrendous it can be with all these fidelitious models in it. Now go and add million plus polygonal planets.
But Chris Roberts is arrogant enough to release 3.0, regardless of performance issues, then advocate to backers that they should upgrade their machines to run it. Most of them probably will. The rest will put in for a refund.
And it doesn’t matter what state the deliverables are in, they’re just going off a checklist now in order to not run afoul of liability* issues. As long as they deliver an item promised, regardless of state or condition, they’re covered. That’s why Hangar, Arena Commander, Star Marine (LOL!!) and similar, aren’t getting frequent updates. In fact, the last 2.6.3 build was back on April 7th.September 13, 2016 at 11:18 am #4459
LATEST CITIZENCON 2016 RUMORS
With GamesCom 2016 over, it’s time for CitizenCon 2016 on Oct 9th. This is the annual fundraising event that CIG/RSI claims is a “fan” event and not at all marketing (LOL!!). In fact, if you look at their Q4 earnings year on year, it’s easy to see how their fundraising revolves around bullshit, lies, false promises – and scripted content. Last GamesCom, it was all about Star Marine. That’s since been shit-canned; though, clearly for liability (and broken promises) reasons, it’s apparently coming back soon in the 2.6 patch. This despite Chris Roberts claiming that it was already in the game backers were playing. Yeah.
With that, an insider and denizen of the SA forums who has provided some accurate insider info in the past, posted this about 24 hrs ago.
Prepare for Shitcon
- Bare witness to a star studded sq42 trailer with lots and I mean LOTS of cool explosions
- Observe your citizen landing on a hand crafted proceduraly generated planet, buy some land and initiate farming mechanics.
- See an epic space battle with 4 cap ships and up to 16 citizens engaging in zero gravity combat.
- Buy some new trousers in a space trouser shop .
- Explore the Grim hex , be careful of pirates though !
- And if thats not enough for you , get saving those space dollars for a new JPEG
If the above is true, then clearly they are repeating what they have done in the past, and as recently as GamesCom 2016 whereby they create a staged proof-of-concept demo in order to rope backers into giving them more money under the guise of it all coming soon.
For my part, I have long suspected that they will have to show something of SQ42 before the end of the year, seeing as I said over a year ago that sources had told me that the game was never coming out in 2016. And since it was last seen at CitizenCon 2015, nobody has seen much of it since; let alone any game play videos. Like Star Citizen – which Chris promised back in 2015 was coming in 2016 – there is no way that SQ42 is coming out in 2016. So them doing a glitzy playable presentation – which I think it highly unlikely – or a trailer (likely), is probably the best that backers could hope for. And if rumors of them actually trying to release a playable prelude to EP1 is true, well then, the backlash is going to be fun to behold, given insider reports that it’s just sub-par.
Then again, back in Jan 2015, he proclaimed that Star Citizen would have raised $100 million before release in 2016.
STAR CITIZEN / Squadron 42 (2016)
Right now, for a five year, $123 million project, the pre-Alpha PU 2.5 build is complete rubbish. I present, Exhibit # 999999
Basically, the first PU version which was released over a year ago, has hardly made any progress, other than bug fixes, a new base, and the ability to buy clothes or run around naked. That’s it. Most of the gameplay promised for Nov 2014 release, isn’t there. No mining. No trading. No exploration. No cargo manipulation. No planets to land on. No multi-crew position/skills. No mission/quests etc. All there is, right now, is a repetitive “go flip a switch” mission with horrid NPC pirate ships. That’s it. Oh, and player ship PvP if you’re into that sort of thing.
And since the Gamescom 2016 presentation, they’ve been touting PU 3.0 (aka the Jesus Patch, and which was previously touted as 2.7) which they’re threatening to release by year end – complete with ALL of this:
- Procedural planets featuring an improved version of what was shown at GamesCom
- Player professions which include mercenaries and pirates, trading (which includes cargo transport), as well as bounty hunting
- Implementation of modules which include Subsumption AI, mission/quest giving, improved items (Items 2.0) system, as well as improved networking (which some backers think is going to solve all their current problems)
- Completed Stanton (one of the hundred promised btw) system which is to include a twelve (!) moons, four more areas (adding to GrimHex, Arc Corp, Crusader) and over thirty (!) space stations
Yeah, we’re still laughing when we look at the calendar, and notice that it’s already September and the current 2.5 patch is just plain broken; and if 2.6 releases with Star Marine as promised, they’d be pulling the same stunt they did last year when they released a horribly broken PU 1.0 which backers foolishly assumed would be the start of great things to come.
This was the GamesCom 2015 presentation. Yeah.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, what CIG/RSI are doing now is basically checking off boxes in order to not run afoul of promises made – and which they have received money for. After receiving over $123 million based on promises, any non-delivery is subject to legal action. It’s completely different from when a project removes features for whatever reason.
WISHFUL THINKING GONE AWRY
Yesterday, a backer (aka data miner) found some legacy scene files lurking in the game’s distribution. Despite the fact that these assets have been in the game for years (backers currently download this, and other useless files with each patch btw) now, some sites (1, 2, 3) decided to make news items out of it.
Sources say that this is one of various assets built to showcase parts of the game in a promo trailer, but which later proved to be “impractical” for completion, due to the game engine limitations. Which rings true, seeing as the engine is still struggling under it’s own weight and will never – ever – be able to render even a quad of that scene, let alone the whole thing, complete with texture assets, NPC entities, players etc
Yes, you’ve probably seen that scene concept somewhere. In fact, here is an album showing all of them.
…MEANWHILE, OVER IN THE NOT-MARKETING, MARKETING DEPT
So this popped up earlier today.
That’s not marketing though, right? RIGHT?September 6, 2016 at 11:55 am #4419
THE CHRIS ROBERTS THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Last week, Gameranx wrote a massive article, The Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything. It chronicled previous patterns of conduct related to the handling of his projects. It’s an incredibly well sourced read.
A Swedish magazine, LEVEL, did a similar article back in July, and which, last we heard, was picked up by a leading English media outlet for re-publication; with the Swedish author doing the official translation. As that has been some months now, some are of the opinion that the article may have been bought and buried. But as these things go, there is an unofficial translation floating around from back in July.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED (AGAIN)
Then, just a few days ago, it became official that Squadron 42 wasn’t going to be released in 2016 – as I have said in four previous blogs – it’s clear to see that neither of these games is likely to see the light of day. At least not in the form promised.
The latest fiasco started over the weekend with the #1 Shillizen media, Gamestar in Germany, posting an interview with croberts. Lots of arguments (1, 2) erupted over that one; forcing the writer to acknowledge his error and confirming basically what most of us already knew. SQ42, like Star Citizen, is not a 2016 release. In fact, someone translated the entire article.
This is the SQ42 breakdown by itself.
- $2m, 30 missions
- $3m, 35 missions
- $4m, 45 missions
- $5m, 50 missions + pro voice over
- $5.5m, pro mocap sessions
- $6m, mission disk for all backers up to this funding point
Ignoring the year (2011) in which croberts claimed that the game was already in development prior to the Q4/2012 crowd-funding, that means, four years and $123 million (as of this writing) dollars later, they still can’t build a smaller game, for $6 million. A game for which they’ve not only removed some features (e.g. drop-in/drop-out co-op), but also in the aforementioned Gamestar interview, it is now revealed that croberts also increased the scope of SQ42; just like he did with Star Citizen proper.
Note that the website still says that SQ42 is coming in 2016. They didn’t announce any delay at the recent Gamescom event; and with CitizenCon 2016 barely a month away, he may or may not even discuss a release date. Sources already say that SQ42 doesn’t even exist as a game; and that they’re busy working on a presentation, similar to Gamescom2016 for the show. And if even croberts is quoting a Q1/Q2 2017 release date, it’s safe to assume that it probably won’t release until the end of 2017. If ever.
Not to mention that the likes of COD:IW, Titanfall2, Mass Effect: A etc, are all scheduled for Q4/16-Q1/17 release dates.
UPDATE: They gave PC Gamer a non-denial-denial.
GAMESCOM 2016 INTERVIEW (ITALIAN MEDIA)
While we’re at it, I want to share something else with you guys so that those of you who aren’t up to speed on this train-wreck can have another glimpse of the ridiculousness of this whole thing.
And it’s mind-boggling. Truly.
Not only was he clearly lying, the whole time, but he was talking up tech (VR, 10 million multiplayer clients, procedural generation etc) which he clearly doesn’t even understand, and features (base building!, colonization!) which were never – ever – even part of the game’s original design. This amid the fact that, thus far, five years + $123 million later, they still don’t have 15% of the Star Citizen game done; let alone SQ42.
Below is a transcript (courtesy of Goons) of that interview.
Chris Roberts Interview Gamescom 2016 SCIC
26 Aug 2016
Q: Organisation 2.0. When will (it) arrive and what gameplay features can we expect?
Uhhh OK… so… CITIZENCON we’re gonna… we’re gonna SHOW and TALK about some STUFF. So… now is too early to talk about it, but we have… we have our WHOLE THING there I think everybody’s gonna like at CITIZENCON. It will be VERY COOL.
Q: Modding. What are the future plans for modders, have you envisioned any tool to support the community?
Ehhh no no we’re definitely gonna do TOOLS to allow people to like do CONTENT CREATION AND STUFF, so… again that’s sort of uh… the FIRST LEVEL is like our… we’re still building our TOOLS to like… like… build out like… the… like… PLANETS… and the STAR SYSTEMS… USING NEW TECHNOLOGY WE’RE USING… so eehhhh…. once… uh, we get… those WORKING then we sort of work on USABILITY AND STUFF and then… we’ll be able to… PUSH the tools out for everyone… so it’s NOT gonna be… you know… unfortunately in the next few months or in the next YEAR but uh… but after that it is… you know it is part of our PLANS, it’s like… we gotta get our internal tools at a level… uh… good enough for our guys to use and then… make them sort of more USER FRIENDLY and then the SYSTEM that we could like have people create STUFF and then we could CURATE it and put it in the main game or allow people to run sort of their own sort of limited version of the game.
But… I will say that… the LIMITED… the PRIVATE SERVER ones are, you know… they will not be able to do what the… like our FULL CLOUD THING will do cos… that’s got MULTIPLE MULTIPLE SERVERS running at… and we’re gonna have them MESHED TOGETHER so there can be lots of people in the same instance so… that part’s gone more… it’s become BIGGER since when… when… they first started it. So. But you know you should be able to have… you know… like a… like the way FREELANCER did, you can run a server, you can have A HUNDRED PEOPLE ON IT OR SOMETHING and you can go around… uh… you know… uh… eh…. AN AREA YOU DESIGN OR WHATEVER.
There you go.
Q: A lot of people want to know how Virtual Reality will be implemented, have you got any issue with the animations?
NNnnn….. NO ACTUALLY SO…. aahhhh…. on… on the VR front we’re… it’s pretty EASY for us cos we… we UNIFIED everything so we don’t have like you know, how a lot of games will have like first person view… but they’re not really first person right? But they… you know, it’s two hands floating in front of it… so we just have one… one animation, one character, one… RIG… that runs in first or third person… n-n-no cheating for it at all… ah… in the first person view we stabilise the view the same way that your brain stabilises the images coming from your eyes… yeah like you turn here it’s still UP and if you had a GOPRO on your head and you went like this it would actually go like that and we do all the… yeah we do all the same stuff like your EYE LIKE FOCUSSING ON SOMETHING and… ehrm… so… that’s actually… us for VR’s very eas… it’s like LOOKING OVER and you see, you know… the person you’re flying with DOING STUFF and you can actually see him and it’s all the right… and then if you’re in his point you can see it too so…
Yeah yeah and then also we’re building like all our displays, our UI… uhm… we’ve gotta REFACTOR the UI longer term but… the whole goal is everything’s (inaudible) in the world in 3D which again is more natural for VR… so we did have a VR… we had… early… before everyone changed their SDKs… and we just… like the ENGINE… like the ENGINE GROUP are the ones who would change it and they’re actually some of the guys that wrote uh… VR support for CRYENGINE before they… the guys who wrote the original engine they also did all the VR stuff… that IS in Cryengine now that they were using before they joined us but we just haven’t had time to implement to the most recent SDK and get it working… takes you know, maybe a MONTH’S time for someone? And they’re all very busy doing things like… the PLANETS and stuff like that which EVERYONE can experience.
Q: A game like No Man’s Sky is using procedural generation of planets, how will Star Citizen be different in that aspect?
EHHHH WELL because we’re not… we’re not… we… we have a TOTALLY DIFFERENT APPROACH… so uhhh… star… there… there’s like… I’m not interested in having a BILLION or a QUINTILLION or EIGHTEEN QUINTILLION star systems that are all RANDOMLY PUT TOGETHER so… all we do… so the PROCEDURAL… PROCEDURAL PLANETS is a BAD WORD FOR IT, what it is is… they are ARTIST AND DESIGN DRIVEN PLANETS THAT USES PROCEDURAL TECHNIQUES TO EHM LIKE BUILD OUT AREAS QUICKLY. So… but in terms of the planet like specify… like HOW YOU BUILD it… like where the mountains will be where the oceans will be where the desert will be where the forest will be… that’s all SPECIFIED by an artist at a higher level… and then they build, ehm… sort of TEMPLATES COMPONENTS where procedural tech can take all the higher level, uhm, like… kind of WORLD… and the WORLD HEIGHT MAP… and it applies the SETS of like ‘OK, here’s the… here’s like a FOREST BIOME or here’s a MOUNTAIN BIOME or here’s a DESERT BIOME’ and the it puts them, paints them in areas somewhere the artist has specified…
So what it really is, we’re using procedural tools to allow an artist to build something at a fidelity of CRYSIS but at a PLANETARY SCALE very quickly. And then they can… they can… DECIDE, ‘Oh, I’m making these areas like THIS’, or they can ZOOM IN to areas and change and edit them around to how they want.
So essentially we’re using the tools to allow artists to RAPIDLY GENERATE really interesting locations so all the locations we have, we’re not hitting a button that GENERATES RANDOM NUMBERS… Wow! That planet! Or that planet! So it’s completely different from NO MAN’S SKY which does it that way, which is also kind of the same way that ELITE does it too… so ours is specifically built to construct and design the worlds and we’re just making it so an artist with the right… with all the TEMPLATES DONE RIGHT can create a world IN LESS THAN A DAY… then… then it’s just a matter of how much time he wants to put, like, certain areas he sort of wants to really CRAFT or just leave it the sort of the way it was sort of done
And that’s what we use, that’s what we’re using the tools for… the IDEA and that’s I think the DIFFERENCE between like STAR CITIZEN and the OTHER GAMES is that like… you know I’ve always liked WORLDS and STORIES and that’s how you know WING COMMANDER sort of you know… felt GROUNDED and… you know the old ORIGIN MOTTO was WE CREATE WORLDS and so… uh… that’s important for me, we already read now that STAR CITIZEN’S got lots of LORE, we’ve been writing lore for it for FOUR YEARS, the systems are… you know… you know have a quite a lot of DETAIL, PLANETS have quite a lot of detail, we have LOCATIONS, CHARACTERS, all spread through our UNIVERSE that we’ve been working on, uh.. not… I mean you guys haven’t even seen a whole bunch of this stuff, but that’s so we can build out the world where it feels like it’s a… a REAL WORLD THAT YOU CAN EXIST IN and go out ADVENTURING
And it’s all gonna be in MULTIPLAYER and see a… you know DO THINGS TOGETHER and ADVENTURE TOGETHER and… you know… it’s… it’s… it’s… so… it’s quite… it’s quite a bit different that way.
But you know… we still gotta finish it so you know… they’re already shipping and out so… I mean I have to say that NO MAN’S SKY’s a pretty impressive technical achievement and… you know… so…
(CR is asked a question which is inaudible on the recording)
That’s… that’s… that’s… DIFFERENT from being a technical achievement… so I mean I’m just… you’re just… you’re… you’re… the ISSUE that you’re having is the general issue that you always get with procedural generation, because it”s… at some point you’re gonna see the patterns and it doesn’t seem to have a rhyme or a reason, uh, and… you know I think maybe… maybe one day? There could be some super formula that could move away from that, but it’s just HARD to do that so… technically it’s pretty impressive and it’s a pretty small team that did it, eh… so, you know, it’s pretty cool, but we’re going in a totally different path which is much more a constructed world with a much more level of detail but I mean, in MY OPINION, we’re gonna try to get the STANTON SYSTEM FOR EVERYONE AT THE END OF THE YEAR with a big release at the end of the year… and you know that’s got FOUR MAJOR PLANETS and a bunch MOONS and secondary areas like OUTPOSTS and stuff, like FORTY SPACE STATIONS and a HUGE AMOUNT OF AREA… and that I think is plenty… HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF GAMEPLAY going between… just because of the amount of DETAIL and… you know, the THINGS THAT YOU CAN DO versus otherwise… just go to STAR SYSTEM after STAR SYSTEM it’s just kind of the same thing again and again
So uh… so YEAH… I mean you’ll see we got… we got… we’re gonna… SHOW… a… like a little bit of a TEASER of some STUFF on Friday at the EVENT, ahhh… ahhhh… so ahhhh…. ahh… you’ll… kinda see a little bit of what I’m talking about and hopefully you guys will like it, sort of like the NEXT STEP, or the EVOLUTION.
Yeah it’s gonna be PRETTY COOL.
Q: How will gameplay differ from single player, from small sized organisations up to bigger ones?
Eh I think we’ll just… we’re… we’re… DEFINITELY… gonna be DESIGNING gameplay that’s like… SINGLE PLAYER STUFF or YOU AND A GROUP OF FRIENDS or you’re part of a BIG ORGANISATION… and it’s just DIFFERENT THINGS you can do so one of the nice things with the PROCEDURAL… tech, ah… the… that I was thinking… ah… that we wouldn’t be able to do for quite a while but now we’re PROBABLY gonna do is, we’re now gonna have a lot more sort of… PLAY AREAS and since we’re planning to put everyone in the SAME INSTANCES so they’ll just, there’ll DEFINITELY be a case where you and your organisation could like pull off… find a place you like on one of the planets and then bring in some HABITATS and build your own little BASE and then SHIELD, put a SHIELD so it can’t really be seen by other people and then give out LOCATIONS for them to JOIN YOU and then some OTHER ORGANISATION will be cruising around and will be scanning stuff and then will find your PLACE and there could be a BATTLE…
I mean that’s the kind of stuff that… because we’re now letting you go… it’s not… ‘Oh! There’s a planet and now I’m gonna do an automated landing to go down’, there’s just a whole bunch of more gameplay that opens up in terms of… TERRAIN that you can go on and you know whether it’s other players or… you know, AI ENCOUNTERS you can have, you know… whether there’s, you know… PIRATE CAMP spawned down on the planet and you go down and VISIT or there’s a pilot that STRANDED and you gotta go rescue him or whatever
There’s a whole OPTION of different sort of content and gameplay beyond sort of what you would normally be able to do just with SPACE
Q: So will we be able to colonise planets, asteroids, moons, and make our own little settlement?
Depending on where it is, YES.
So there… there… the… SO. With the tech that we’re DOING, uhm… that’s much more POSSIBLE now than it was before, and we’re also TRYING to have this MESH OF SERVERS so we can have a lot more people in the same instance, so it won’t be so INSTANCED as we were thinking before, so… uh.. the… the goal is… that we’re gonna have a lot of… that’s what I was… I mean if you think about like EARTH, there’s seven billion people on EARTH, there can be areas you can walk, you can walk and never see another person… and… you know… in our WORLD… if we have… TEN MILLION PLAYERS, ten million people that have bought STAR CITIZEN and will play it, then you’re likely to have about a million people concurrent, that’s sort of a TEN PERCENT… so that’d be amazing cos WORLD OF WARCRAFT has done that… ahh… but a MILLION PEOPLE and you’re spread out across hundreds of star systems which each will have multiple planets so you’re talking three, four, five, six hundred planets, the MOONS, there’s a HUGE, MASSIVE amount of TERRAIN so there’s… I think there’s an opportunity and plenty of places for people to sort of make their BASES or set up
So that’s kind of one of the COOL THINGS I’m set about because of the planet stuff that we’re doing… increase the… the PLAYSPACE, the PLAY AREA, now you have these worlds that you can go DOWN ON as well as SPACE.
So YEAH, we’re GONNA DO IT
A big thank you to Chris Roberts for his kind disposition and David Swofford for his professionality and all the rest of the great staff
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