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.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.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)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.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).April 21, 2017 at 10:06 am #5254
It’s just amazing to think that things are so very desperate over at CIG at this point, six years, and almost $147 million later. For a project that had over 4x the amount of money needed to complete the two games promised. Not to mention Roberts claiming several times that they had healthy reserves – then changing that to say if money ran out, sales of SQ42 would then fund Star Citizen. It’s mind-boggling what is now unfolding.
In this latest AtV broadcast, amid the on-going money grab, what appears to be IP infringement, the desperation, backer revolt etc it’s hard not to see the signs of a project that is on life support and, according to sources, mere months away from a catastrophic collapse (apparently for real this time) due to lack of funding, departure of key team members, general internal dissent etc.
Oh where to begin?
NEW STAR CITIZEN REFERRAL PROGRAM
“Earn a free trip to GamesCom 2017 and other great rewards with our all new RSI 2017 Referral Contest! Simply gain referral points by sharing your Star Citizen referral code with friends. Each friend who pledges to Star Citizen using your referral code earns you one referral point.”
So they introduced a new referral system. You would think that since backers have given them so much money these past years, that it would be more favorable to them. But why would they do that, when after all they already have their money; and by the looks of it, backers aren’t exactly throwing money at them like they used to?
I don’t even know where to begin with this one; so I will just defer to the backers who are rightfully – once again – pissed (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) about some dumb crap that CIG has pulled. Yes, it’s basically a lottery for billionaires.
Aside from this being new referrals only, not only does this screw the pre-existing backers (hardcore or not) and is skewed toward affiliated streamers – who aren’t even playing (some are totally pissed) the game like they used to – but it also highlights two things: 1) the desperation to bring in new money 2) that CIG doesn’t give a damn about existing backers who got them this far.
LOL! Watch the RSI 2017 Referral Contest broadcast clip; and do stay for the comments – and dislikes.
And as expected, the fact that they referenced those streamers at the end of the broadcast, made them shoot to the top of the referral leaderboard, almost immediately.
The most hilarious part of this? The 2932 referral pledges required to “win” a ticket to Gamescom in Germany, amounts to $131,940 (2932 x $45) based on the current minimum pledge for the game. The website says “minimum value of $40” for a pledge, though the actual minimum – as of this writing – is $45 for a copy of Star Citizen or Squadron 42.
And the contradictions in the terms and conditions are amazing…
“As a supporter of Star Citizen, this “contest” is complete utter BS and a slap in the face to the community.
The only people who can possibly win it are content creators, despite it being billed as something you can do “even with 0 referals right now”. Want to know what’s even better? They cherry picked a few in their latest ATV and showed their referral codes, effectively putting them in the lead.
There is nothing here for normal backers using referrals to get their friends into the game. What about more rewards for them? Why couldn;t the prize be a random draw for anyone who has at least 1 referral?
This is not a community contest, it’s a competition between content creators that pits them against their own communties as well as those of others. If I were a content creator I would boycott this out of principle.
To me it’s another example of CiG taking the community for granted. Like I said, I may be a strong supporter of the game but I will never forget how they conveniantly waited until the very last minute to announce a Squadron 42 delay in the presentation they were meant to show it in during Citizencon. People travelled from all over the world to come see that!
We never got an actual apology for that. Nor did we get an apology for the awful holiday livestream (which they have tried to erase all existance of). So I am not expecting one for this either.
I expect so much better from a company that tries to put on an image of being so close with its community. I sincerely hope it’s mostly just a few morons in marketing.”
And the most upvoted topic on Reddit: CIG Your Marketing is Too Far Ahead of Itself
It gets better…
STAR KITTEN MEETS HELLO KITTY
“Meet Sally, the “star” of the Star Kitten lineup. Sally loves speed racing across the verse with her friends. It doesn’t matter who wins or loses. To Sally, all that matters is fun and friendship.
Created by venerable animation auteur Genady Kuzo, the Star Kitten animated series first premiered in 2932 and immediately warmed the hearts of citizens of all ages. To celebrate Sally’s fifteenth birthday, her image will be licensed on a special edition UEE tee and a Drake Dragonfly. Get your Sally Star Kitten gear while you still can!”
If you noticed the new Star Kitten mascot from the referrals link, I know what you’re thinking. And yes, you’re right. That looks suspiciously like Hello Kitty and similar. This is yet another blatant act of wanton IP infringement which has plagued this project for so many years; several of which I have written about. I mean, seriously, take a look at this.
Not sure how long this “Star Kitten – another decision that makes the game worse” Spectrum thread will remain, but it’s there for now.
Oh there’s more where that came from…
BANU MEET GROOT
This one speaks for itself. First, watch the broadcast segment. Then stare in amazement at the “similarities”.
Aside from the fact that, six years later, there isn’t a SINGLE unique or innovative thing about this project, it has basically ended up being a cornucopia of every darn sci-fi trope you could think of; right down to the Starship Trooper’s premise of conscripting of shit..erm, citizens into military service.
BANU DEFENDER MEETS….
The latest concept ship they just started selling, isn’t original either. If you recognize it, that’s because it’s similar to ships from various other IP include Halo, Planetside 2, Prometheus etc. Heck, even games like Wipeout and others. Here is an entire album of similarities.
DESPERATE TIMES, CALL FOR DESPERATE MEASURES
It has to be noted that when we’re talking about a crowd-funded project which had raised more than enough money to build and release the project, talking about on-going fundraising efforts, seems a bit off. I mean, think about it. If you asked for $500K to build a specific game, got $2.5 million, then subsequently increased the scope which raised $65 million – then got almost $150 million to build the same game, why would you need to keep raising money – often through desperate measures (and blatant lies)? The answer is that, not only can they not build the game promised, which has been blatantly obvious since I said so back in 2015, but also that the longer it takes, the more the risk of running out of money. Hence the need to keep raising money.
Remember back in 2013 when he said he could make “the same game for a fifth of the revenue, a fifth of the sales, and I can be more profitable, and I can exist on lower unit sales” ? Yeah, me too.
And when you’ve front-loaded a significant portion of the revenue in pre-sales – especially when you consider that most games don’t even make $150 million in their lifetime – the room to grow is very small. Then you have to consider on-going hosting and maintenance costs (the entire game is hosted on cloud servers), as well as employee/contractor costs. This room to grow, which is rapidly shrinking due to all kinds of factors, aside from bad press, backer revolt & refunds, employee/contractor dissent etc, is all the difference between a sudden catastrophic shutdown of this project, and the ability to actually ship a final product.
I wrote about this in my recent missive, as it pertains to the 3.0 schedule which, conservatively puts the game – if they have the money – somewhere in the 2022 time period for them to deliver 100% of both the games promised. They’re never – ever – going to pull that off. Even the free fly periods they’ve been running these past months, are duds; streamers are hardly playing the game, aside from periodic updates – the media stopped giving a shit back in 2015 etc.
Back in July 2015 I said that “There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.” Looking back two years later – despite the fact that we know the funding counter is bullshit – not only are they at $147 million – but they don’t even have 15% of the games promised. I was probably too conservative. Those backers who say things like “they can take as long as they like; that’s the beauty of no publisher“, have no clue what they’re talking about. The project will run out of money long before 2022.
And like every major build (e.g. 2.0 from Dec 2015) before it, if they eventually release what resembles a 3.0 promised, that too will fail to make a dent – for all the same reasons. I can’t wait for when they do release planetary (well, moons) access, it ends up being “just another level”, with nothing to do on it – just like current PU. Some backers simply don’t realize that all CIG is now doing, is releasing the bare minimum of what they promised – leaving them largely broken – but with the plausible deniability that goes with having released something, but with no guarantee of performance. It’s ingenious if you ask me. Just look at the other modules: Hangar, Arena Commander, Star Marine, Star Citizen Actual (aka PU) and just think about that for a minute. Last we checked, even with the much touted “over one million backers”, Star Marine averaged less than 25 people playing it. For an entire month. Remember back at $100 million when Chris said it would be “more lethal than Call Of Duty“. Yeah, me too.
While trying and failing (FYI Plastc after raising over $9 million, just collapsed 1, 2) to build a project isn’t illegal, what is illegal are things like unjust enrichment, fraudulent conversation, wire fraud, money laundering, tax evasion etc. All the things that State and Fed officials tend to look at when investigating the collapse of such high profile ventures. It simply won’t matter that they “tried“. It won’t matter that they had all those “disclosures” in the ToS about performance, delivery etc. What will matter – pay attention here – is that they only raised $2.5 million via crowd-funding, and to this point, over $145 million via pre-orders. There is a very clear legal distinction here, and which, as seen in the recent Lily drone fiasco, will make all the difference in the end. It’s ironic that this “Crowdfunding: Potential Legal Disaster Waiting To Happen” Forbes article, came out the same month that Star Citizen crowd-funding hit Kickstarter.
Through various sources, I am aware of several behind-the-scenes things are going on at CIG/RSI; not just here in the US, but also in the UK. While I could find a million ways to justify making them public, I decided that it was prudent not to do so – for the greater good. As I said in my latest “The Money Laundromat” blog, there is no way they can away with any excuse for not shipping these two games. Now that their very own employees and contractors, both past and present, are said to be talking to officials, it’s only a matter of time now before we see what’s going to happen.
Until then, my advice remains the same; if you feel that you’ve been misled, or no longer feel confident that they will deliver on promises, get a refund. They can neither refuse, nor provide any legal reason for not granting it. And if you want to wait and see what happens in the end, there’s nothing wrong with that either – it’s your money. Just remember one thing, if you’ve been using the Grey market and the project’s lax buy/sell mechanics to launder money, you’re going to get caught because every single piece of data collected by CIG/RSI, can be obtained by State and Fed officials, or any citizen engaged in a lawsuit with them. Just remember that.
Finally, as I’ve done before in the past with the FTC and DCBA links, I have been asked to share these details for those who, like the other crowd-funding scams, want to file a complaint with the State attorney in CA. Note that, as CIG are currently giving refunds, the DCBA office (which made that possible), has already done their part in this.May 19, 2017 at 6:22 pm #5256
STAR CITIZEN HITS $150 MILLION CROWD-FUNDING MARK
So today another of my Star Citizen predictions has come true.
By the virtues of about 2000 whales still funding this train-wreck, and who just spent over $500K+ buying the latest $250 concept ship JPEG (seriously, it’s not a model, and is not in the game. It’s just an image of a ship), Star Citizen crossed the $150 million mark. At this point, though several sources have claimed that the funding chart is grossly inaccurate, we have to continue to go with the number they are showing to the public.
- They couldn’t build the game as pitched. So far, with all the stuff they’ve cut or botched, this is playing out to be true. In year six, they still don’t even have 25% of one game, let alone two games. And they had a delivery date of Nov 2014, with a 12, then 18 month delay period to May 2016. Even though Chris Roberts had said numerous times that increased stretch goals won’t affect the delivery timeline, the game is now officially over three years late. Remember that at $65 million raised in Nov 2014, both games – including all stretch goals – were 100% funded.
- They needed a robust custom engine to do it. In 2016, we come to find out that they were making the switch from StarEngine (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.7 to Lumberyard (derived from the stock CryEngine 3.8). As I wrote in my Irreconcilable Differences blog, they evaluated this engine throughout 2016 without notifying backers because they knew that it may cause some concern. In the Dec 2016 release of the 2.6 patch, it was finally noticed when they switched from Google’ Compute cloud services to Amazon’s AWS cloud services (via the LumberYard implementation).
- They needed a stellar team with the experience. So far, a lot of talented people, including several third-party studios, have come and gone. Those left have never – ever – developed any massive game before, let alone an MMO. Meanwhile, some of those who are left are parroting the same lies that Chris has been telling backers regarding the true state of the project. The most recent being that whole argument about how the switch to LumberYard took days and that it was already finished. Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Sean Tracey, and Ben Parry, among others, are on the record supporting this lie. Even though several sources (both past and present) working on this very same project, have stated that it’s all patently false, that they have been having serious problems with the switch, that it has completely skewed their schedule etc. For example, the latest schedule released today, delays the project by almost 50% since it first went online on April 14th, 2017. And one of those listed delays is related to their merging of the volumetric fog from the LumberYard engine into their own custom build.
- Even if they had all of the above, that they couldn’t possibly do it for less than $150 million. Well, here we are at that amount, and still not even 25% of a game, let alone two games.
Meanwhile, even with the events playing in the background regarding their financial situation (which various sources say is dire), their on-going attempts to seek additional outside funding, and quite possibly to sell off to a third-party (I still don’t believe the Amazon rumors btw), as they have done in the past, they continue to keep backers in the dark. What’s going to be interesting is that several weeks from now when it all goes public, as I expect that it will, people are going to wonder what Chris Roberts knew, and when he knew it.
Make no mistake, raising money isn’t a crime. And if you have a group of naive people willing to give it to you, even though your project is super late, isn’t even out of pre-Alpha in year six, recently made a critical engine switch, and still doesn’t even have 25% (that’s being generous) of the features promised, you should take the money and run.
For the rest of you sensible ones still putting in for refunds (this is a $4,300 refund from today) to get off this train-wreck, rest assured that in the coming months you will see what most of us have been saying.May 24, 2017 at 9:34 am #5263
STAR CITIZEN MULTIPLAYER INSTANCING
In my Irreconcilable Differences blog, I wrote extensively about the instancing issue and how they stand very little chance of ever getting past the broken underlying architecture that they currently have in StarEngine. In a Feb 2017 interview, Erin Roberts made the following comment:
“So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.“
- They have no clue what they’re doing.
- When they do get a clue, it would be revealed to them that they have to gut their entire networking layer to implement what they are aiming for.
- They’re fucked. Completely.
“so we were reading that this dynamic local instancing will try it’s best to put you in the same instance as friends and people/ things of interest. so if you were a pirate, and were following your prey.. are you guaranteed to jump into the same instance or is there a chance it’s all in vein and you lose them? based on yall’s dynamic local instancing system?“
“In a single server instance we can currently have up to 40 players in Area18 or 24 players in Crusader(1). Matchmaking tries to put you in the same instance as your friends, but beyond that it is luck of the draw which instance you will end up in(2). However @H0wland is correct in that our goal is that eventually everyone will be in the same instance(3).
There quite a few engineering hurdles we need to overcome before this can happen. Server performance needs to improve a lot, so there are several tasks to address this that are either currently underway or in the schedule(4). This will only get us so far though, and won’t be enough to fill a solar system with players and NPCs. To go further we are going to have to connect multiple servers together in something we’re calling a “server mesh.” Each server will take on the processing load for a region of space, and these regions will adjust their boundaries to best balance that load with their neighbors. You will be able to see (and fire) across the boundary from one server to another, and, as you fly through space, will move seamlessly from one server to another(5). We will also be able to dynamically add and remove servers to suit the current level of demand. This technology will allow us to scale almost without limit while keeping everyone in the same instance(6).
The problem we still need to figure out is how to handle everyone heading to the same place at the same time. I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution to that one, so it may require some game mechanic to prevent too many players congregating in the same place(7).
TL;DR – yes, once all the pieces are in place and the kinks have been worked out, you’ll be able to stalk your prey, and should always be in the same instance.”
Let me break it all down:
- I know for a fact, as do most backers who are actually playing this right now, that the server can’t handle more than 8 clients within the same locale without falling over. Let alone anywhere near 24 clients in Crusader (introduced in 2.0 released in Q4/2015), which is the core of the Star Citizen that started the “Persistent Universe”. Area 18, a glorified shopping center, can handle more players because, well, there’s nothing to do there except move around, look at, buy stuff etc.
- This is a glaring Red flag. There are lots of games, even those built with SteamWorks, that allow some form of grouping agnostic matchmaking, even for instanced games. For six years, since they started using cloud servers, they didn’t think that implementing the ability for clients to group, then all launch in the same instance, was a priority. Elite Dangerous, which also uses instancing, had this same issue during alpha and beta cycles. They address it with features such as Wing Beacons, nav-lock, private grouping etc. In fact, read this Elite: Dangerous’ 3,000-player battle royale article.
- This one is a head-scratcher. I hope that his use of “everyone” means those wanting to group with their friends in the same instance. If that’s not the case, then we’re back to the “they have no fucking clue” part, because there is no way they can get “everyone” in the same “instance”.
- Whatever that schedule is, it’s not public. The current schedule which goes all the way to 3.2, has no mention of anything related to any of what he wrote. In fact, the entire schedule page has 12 instances related to network implementation and/or revision; and none of those entries mentions anything like that. Not. One. Thing.
- This is all wishful thinking. If six years into the development of an MMO, you don’t have this stuff already completed or in progress, chances are it’s either never going to get done in the short-term (delays cost money, and when money runs out, the project is dead), or there was never an intention to actually do it. Make no mistake, everything he said there, are things that both Chris and Erin have said in the past.The reality is that it is simply not possible with their current networking framework which was built around CryEngine 3.7. And LumberYard (based on CryEngine 3.8), isn’t going to give them that because it too does not have support for any of that. They would have to build it themselves. Just like how Frontier did it for Elite Dangerous, and how we did it (FYI we don’t use instancing; so our server-to-server hops are live) for Line Of Defense.For one thing, they have touted this whole “seamless” 64-Bit space, which is one large “scene”. For them to do any sort of population control, they would have to split it up into boundaries. And each of those would then need to have a set of criteria that determines how many clients are allowed in there. And that involves a significant amount of work involving proxy server connections, data aggregation & collection, etc. The way we did pop-loc in LoD, is similar to how Planetside did it. You set a limit on the number of clients in a scene, then don’t allow any further connections until someone dies, drops off etc. And this is possible when you have low-level control – right from the start – of the scene management structure. In our Wide Span Global architecture we built this from the start so that each space or planet “scene” is controlled by a server connection. And that server is the arbiter that controls how clients can enter via jump anomalies (Dynamic Jump Pad, Jump Gate, high altitude insertion from space). If you try to enter a scene (e.g. Heatwave planetary base from Lyrius space) that has reached it’s server configured client limit, you’re stuck in Lyrius, and will have to keep trying. The messaging is all done from the connection interface for the jump anomaly which talks directly to the server. And this was all done right from the start and before we even had complete dynamics for fps, space craft, and vehicles in the game.And if they do manage to actually build all of that, they have a different problem. Players can EVA. So if they allow, say 64 clients per instance, guess what happens when you have 64 ships and 64 players in EVA. And that’s just assuming 1 player crew per ship. Imagine the hilarity if you have passengers, and cargo. And ships are shooting, EVA players are shooting. LMAO!! I can’t even.Let’s not even get into the whole issue with localized physics grids, which allow players to move around inside their space chariots in fps mode. That’s got it’s own performance and networking issues which are currently part of the problem they are faced with.
- Yeah, this is the part where any developer would start laughing. Basically, “scaling” implies “limits”. And when it comes to networking architecture, there is no such thing as “without limits”.
- And therein lies the rub that negates everything he said previously. Note the use of the phrases “will allow”, “still need to”, “how to”, “not sure” etc.If you have your pol-loc sorted out, there is no requirement to figure out how to handle “everyone heading to the same place at the same time”. The fact of the matter is that if you allow 64 clients per instance/shard, you should be prepared for the inevitable scenario that all of them are likely to end up in the same place at some point. Elite Dangerous planned for this, right off the bat. Which is why sessions in which over 900 players journeyed to Sagittarius A, was possible.Saying “I’m not sure there’s an engineering solution” simply means that, as I said, they really have no clue what they’re doing with this game. There is absolutely no way to prevent all server allowed players from being at the same area at the same time. Which is why, even though they claim that Crusader can support 24 players theoretically, all it takes is for more than 8 players to be in the same local area for the server to croak and it all becomes unplayable.
This game was never supposed to be an MMO. And it wasn’t pitched as one. And Chris has gone on the record several times, even after all the stretch goals funding were met back in Nov 2014 at $65 million, saying that it wasn’t. And the stretch goals have no such indication or implication that they were building an MMO. Somewhere along the line, because of scope creep and promises made as they pulled every trick in the book to keep raising money from gullible backers, it morphed into an MMO because that’s the only game model that would support some of the things they were promising. And they’re doing all this despite the fact that they neither have the tech, nor the talent, or the time and money to pull it off.
At this point, as I’ve shown above, if they don’t have the framework for their future networking model already in and working in some fashion, there is absolutely no way they’re going to have time to gut what they have now, and implement a proper solution. Something they should have done from the very start. Now it’s too late. And they are still making promises they can’t keep, even as they continue to defer* promised features into a post-release schedule.
My guess is that the current networking layer is going to remain as-is for quite some time, as they continue to build other features and systems on top of it. Then if by some miracle they survive (they won’t) long enough to actually get around to it, all that stuff they are building on top of a network layer they have to replace, will either have to be ripped out, or modified to support whatever it is they need to do in order to support their long term goals.
All of this means that even if they are around long enough for a 4.0 schedule to go live, and it does include the major networking features they need to make what they plan work, until then, backers are still going to be stuck with 8 player clients in Star Citizen. I can’t wait to see what happens when 3.0 goes live with the two moons. It’s going to be hilarious. Maybe they’ll shock everyone and have 6 clients running in Crusader without problems.
Anyone who still has hopes that this project is ever going to be completed, let alone as promised, is delusional. Meanwhile, it’s Sandi’s birthday, and apparently they’re in Monaco again this year. Paid for with backer money of course.
* Modding is out. Private servers are out. And a litany of other things are either not in progress, or have been deferred. The latest being the docking collar support for ships (e.g. Cutlass) that have that feature, and which were sold with it during the 2012 Kickstarter campaign if you pledged $110 or more. So instead of having two modes of docking, one which was a big draw for backers who bought the ships that were designed to support it, they will now have only one, whereby you have to EVA in order to board another ship. So if you’re looking to fulfill your dreams of boarding another ship, weapons armed, like in The Expanse, Interstellar or similar movies, ain’t gonna happen. Like ever.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article went live, some backers were trying to say that “building an MMO” out of Star Citizen, was the $3m stretch goal because it says:
“Citizens with appropriate packages will receive access to the Star Citizen universe with 40 star systems for persistent online play upon release.”
That’s the single most ridiculous thing I have ever read about this issue. People listen: “persistent online play” does not, and never did, imply that the game will be an MMO. Heck, even CIG themselves proved this point when they released Star Citizen 2.0 in Q4/15 and called it “Persistent Universe”, when in fact, nothing about the game is persistent, other than player stats stored and retrieved from a database. By this definition, they are implying that games with leaderboards, stats saving, are all MMO games because they have persistent stats save/restore features. Which would make every Call Of Duty or Battlefield game an MMO. The Star Citizen universe isn’t persistent. It’s an instance. When the instance closes, everything shuts down. I wrote about this extensively in my Star Citizen – Condition Red blog from May 2016.
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