June 30, 2017 at 10:00 am #5447
DOES A BANK NOW OWN STAR CITIZEN?
Over the past weekend, a huge furor erupted after I wrote and article and a blog announcing that CIG/F42 in the UK had taken out a loan with a bank, and that bank now “owned” (this is debatable as per Section 4-5 of the docs) both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen.
As I dug deeper, and heard from various people who had some knowledge and insight to the matter, I decided to write the Final Countdown blog about it. Due to the fluidity of the situation, I have since updated (scroll to the bottom) that blog three times to cover various aspects of this developing story.
Not wanting to increase the length of the blog again, and seeing various nonsensical and false reports and opinions by some gaming “media” and Star Citizen streamers (most of whom have a financial incentive to mislead backers), I decided to write this in-depth article about why I believe that Coutts Bank, not only has secured Squadron 42 as collateral, but in doing so, also holds certain aspects of Star Citizen in collateral as well.
Collateral means the Chargor’s right, title and interest in and to (i) the property charged pursuant to Clauses 4.1 and 4.2 hereof and (ii) the property assigned pursuant to Clause 5 hereof; excluding in all cases the Excluded Collateral;
Excluded Collateral means (i) the assets that have been charged pursuant to the Nat West Security Agreement; and (ii) all Intellectual Property Rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Also on p7
4.2.2 the Game Assets and the Distribution Rights
4.2.5 all digital material and sound and visual material made or to be made incorporating or reproducing all or any part of the Game
By process of elimination, we know that “Game” refers to Squadron 42. This is because there are only two games (Star Citizen & Squadron 42) in this project. And the former is mentioned in “Excluded Collateral”.
NOTE: These are all FACTS, no hypothesis, conjecture, hyperbole, or opinion.
- Star Citizen (hereinafter “SC”) is the multiplayer aspect of the game. It consists of various “disconnected modules” which are: Arena Commander (space combat), Star Marine (2 level FPS), Hangar (3D ship viewer), Planetside (shopping/social), Persistent Universe (all-encompassing space combat in larger universe).
- Squadron 42 (hereinafter “SQ42”) is the stand-alone, story driven, single player portion of the game, with Hollywood talent acting the cutscenes.
- SC was developed using a custom engine which uses CryEngine 3.x as it’s core baseline. The only “custom” in the code, are top-level elements (e.g. 64-Bit space addressing) added to create their own “game engine” aka StarEngine. This is similar to Unity3D, UE4 etc which are baseline engines to which you add your own assets, code (internal or via plugins developed by others) etc to make your game.
- In late 2016, without any prior notice, it was discovered (by me) that CIG had switched to Amazon’s LumberYard (also a more recent subset of CryEngine). I cover this extensively in my 2016-12-27 – Irreconcilable Differences blog.
- Both SC & SQ42 are developed using StarEngine (currently undergoing the switch from base CryEngine to LumberYard – 6 yrs into development)
- Both SC & SQ42 take place in the same world, and share the same IP (more on this later). All the same ships, places, weapons etc are part of both games.
- The only assets which are unique to SQ42, are the cut-scenes, musical score (SC has its own), story-driven dialog based script etc
- Without all the tech, tools, and common assets in SC, there can be no SQ42.
I have 1st hand knowledge of how that last item works, because I have done it. In 2006, I started working on All Aspect Warfare, a combined-arms game with no space combat. In early 2009, ahead of the game’s release, the community were saying that the aerial flight combat aspects of the game were worth being it’s own game. So I came up with Angle Of Attack which used the same engine and all the same assets. However, it had no FPS aspect, had its own aerial only missions, it’s own multiplayer session (AAW clients cannot connect to AOA and vice versa). I released both games in 2009, and sold them separately, as well as in a bundle. The game’s movies and screen shots show the differences in gameplay, though they share the same basic components. So, without AAW, there can be no AOA.
“Excluded Collateral” excludes the following:
- the company’s income bank account secured via a prior NatWest bank loan which we believe to be a Line Of Credit. Note that NatWest, like Coutts, is also owned by RBS. So basically, two arms of the same company, made these loans.
- all Intellectual Property rights and all exploitation and distribution and other rights and all title, interest and materials with respect to the video game provisionally entitled “Star Citizen”;
Item (2) above is the point of contention as it pertains to how some of us believe that the collateral in 4.2.5, came to inadvertently include parts of SC, namely the tech (source code) due to it being used to develop SQ42.
The reason for this position is that there is no feasible way to strip Star Citizen from SQ42, without affecting that game as a whole. ergo, there is no SQ42 without critical components of SC.
Some (like me) argue that “Intellectual Property” defined in “Excluded Collateral”, does not cover everything about Star Citizen, and that as a result, parts of Star Citizen cannot be excluded in this manner, due to the SQ42 dependency.
Others disagree (possibly due to ignorance of how IP law works) with this assessment. Even as they ignore that the same section specifically mentions an aspect, “materials”, which would normally be covered under “Intellectual Property” if it was such an all-encompassing and broad definition – which it isn’t. The other aspects, “exploitation”, “distribution”, “other rights”, “all title”, “interest”, are not generally covered in IP definitions.
The “Intellectual Property” definition which includes Star Citizen, is ambiguous enough to cause a dispute in the event that this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure everything related to SQ42 as defined in Section 4. And specific to this, is the carefully worded 4.2.5 which some of us contend, will include the Star Citizen tech, and various assets by the mere fact that they are 100% REQUIRED in order to make SQ42 the “Game” defined, and understood by the bank, to be what they secured as part of this loan. To the extent that they went to great pains to itemized various “Game” components and rights, without ever resorting to using a blanket “Intellectual Property” term to secure them, as they did in “Excluded Collateral”. I wonder why that is.
The argument continues in which, despite the fallacy within, some people have convinced themselves that “Intellectual Property” – as it pertains to SOFTWARE – almost always includes source code, tech etc. That opinion is pure and utter NONSENSE. The reason being, every good software contract that seeks to define IP, will list what that definition entails, in the same way that the bank used an itemized Section 4 to list what the “Charges” under this loan contain.
It boils down to this:
- some contracts DO NOT itemize software in Intellectual Property definitions because it is “supposedly” (FYI, it’s not) a common knowledge assumption that it would invariably include “source code”.
- some contracts DO itemize Intellectual Property so that there is no ambiguity as to what rights are included
Any good IP lawyer will immediately tell you that in software IP, item #1 above is an immediate legal problem if it were to end up in dispute that a source code for the works (e.g. a video game) was in dispute. One common example – which has in fact resulted in various court cases – is whereby a company, owning an IP, hires a contractor to create some work (art, script, code) for the IP. If the 1099 “work for hire” contract doesn’t clearly stipulate who owns what, and a dispute arises down the road – for whatever reason (e.g. contractor seeks unpaid amounts for their work), that’s a problem. If an employer finds out that an employee is working on a part-time project, while on their clock, they could have a valid claim to his work, regardless of any claims to IP by the employee. See Zenimax v Oculus.
Comparing IP works of art, writings, movies etc to that of software, is the dumbest thing ever. As is the notion that, Intellectual Property automatically encompasses everything associated with the “works” in question.
All the above considered, my opinion remains that if this loan defaults, and the bank seeks to secure it’s collateral assets, and they find out that they really don’t have all the components of the “Game”, they would have a case for either misrepresentation, not negotiating in good faith, or worse, bank fraud (as this security was in exchange for money).
There is also an issue with the fact that the games use Amazon’s Lumberyard. Like all engine licenses, it can neither be re-assigned, nor sold. This means that in the event that the bank succeeds in securing these assets, the buyer would be subject to the licenses of all third-party middleware contained within. In the case of LumberYard, while free to use, the buyer would only “own” those components which are not the “LumberYard engine proper”.
To be clear:
THERE IS NO CIRCUMSTANCE UNDER WHICH THIS LOAN DEFAULTS, THE BANK SUCCEEDS IN TAKING CONTROL OF SQUADRON 42, SEEKS TO SELL IT ETC, WHILE CIG/F42, AFTER GIVING THE BANK WHAT AMOUNTS TO A “DUD” ASSET AS DEFINED IN THE “GAME”, GOES ON THEIR MERRY WAY TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP, DISTRIBUTE, AND SELL, STAR CITIZEN AS A SEPARATE AND NON-COMPETING ENTITY.
This graphic which someone created, illustrates the issue that is being discussed in very clear detail.July 7, 2017 at 9:41 am #5501
CRAFTING PROCEDURAL MOONS
So the latest AtV broadcast is online. This one had a high degree of anticipation because it is supposed to showcase the “procedural moons” coming in the 3.0 build. To be honest, as a 3D developer, though none of it is new to me, from a technical standpoint, I thought this was a good and informative episode for backers.
The most interesting parts are at 12:30, 21:25, 23:15.
As I’ve said before, as these things go, clearly these guys are doing their best to make a game like this with a custom engine that simply isn’t able to do it. It doesn’t matter what they do with their custom engine, they are never – ever – going to be able to pull off the game they want to build, and at the scale they are shooting for. Like at all. Their biggest problem, as I said back in 2015, is the underlying CryEngine core, which was never designed for this. And even with Amazon’s LumberYard (which they switched to late last year) having done some nifty things to CryEngine, in addition to fixing bugs etc, they’ve still got an uphill battle.
Last year when they started touting “procedural planets”, most backers were of the impression that this refers to how the world is generated rather than how the terrain (planets and moons) is generated using various tools, including middleware such as World Machine (what they are said to be using). There is a huge difference between “procedural worlds” and “procedural terrain”; even if you consider space itself to be terrain. When you build the world in an editor, instead of using data scripts, they’re “hand crafted”. When it comes to world creation, there is a difference between No Man’s Sky and Elite Dangerous; or Infinity Battlescape and Call Of Duty Infinite War.
You can have the best of both technologies, but that would depend on your tools and expertise. For example, in my legacy Battlecruiser / Universal Combat games, I used both world and terrain procedural generation technologies which, believe it or not, were built as far back as the nineties when most of this was considered alchemy. Over the years, as hardware and software improved, a lot of that work was improved upon, across various derivative versions of those games, while retaining the underlying architecture. You can download Universal Combat CE on Steam, and also the modding tools which explain the underlying tech, and check it out for yourself. This Vimeo movie which I made back in Dec 2015, shows how the space and planetary worlds are handled in Universal Combat CE which has a massive galaxy containing standard and gas giant planets, as well as moons. And you can enter all of them; some you can exit in fps mode without dying. You can land on a planet, exit your craft in fps, go to an external camera view, and zoom all the way out to show the sense of scale.
It’s pretty much like alchemy
“As if all that wasn’t bad enough, having dropped the pretext of doing procedural planets in the game world, in a June 22nd broadcast of Around The Verse, they showed a segment (FF to 26:46) showcasing a new tool – outside of the CryEditor – that’s basically barebones for manual entity placement. In a “level” based world. Essentially, this tool basically sets up the world entities – and has nothing to do with the actual creation of the 110 star systems and 500+ planets and moons they have yet to manually create (in the CryEditor) for the game. And as of the upcoming 3.0, they are still struggling to create even the three moons promised; even after removing the promised planet from the schedule. Six years later, they are still building tools. For a game that was supposed to have been released in Nov 2014.”
The problem is going to be compounded by the fact that, from what I can see and tell from their engine design, it is going to be a major task to have entire planets and/or moons in the game world, and which players can enter/exit as seen in games like Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe, Universal Combat etc. Performance and memory requirements aside, that level of fidelity is near impossible with their engine. Which explains why they have since switched from that sort of talk, to now doing smaller moons and planetoids – similar to how Elite Dangerous does them. What’s left to be seen is how they end up adding them to the game world. After adding the moon|planetoid entity to the scene/level, there are only two ways of doing it:
- Use a proximity based trigger point to signal a transition from space to surface – and vice versa – with or without a loading screen to mask the scene loading
- Use a real entity based model which facilitates a seamless transition from space to surface – and vice versa. No loading screen needed.
To visualize the above in Star Citizen : start the game, leave your quarters, grab a ship, take off from the station, target a moon, fly to it, then seamlessly transition into it, or waiting for a loading screen after you hit the trigger point around the object which signals a transition.
While this AtV isn’t showing mostly what is coming in 3.0, it appears to be a combination of rudimentary things coming in 3.0, combined with on-going R&D for what they think they’re going to be able to pull off in the long term. I mention this because there is a frame where they were showing a cross-section cutout of a planet, in which the cutout shows an area with vegetation, despite the fact that the upcoming moons and planetoids are barren landscapes.
Bullshot 3.0 video – CitizenCon Oct 2016
And as they’ve done so many times in the past (as recently as CitizenCon 2016 in which they showed what was purportedly coming in 3.0, due out before Dec 19th, 2016), instead of, you know, showing actual game play for a patch that’s supposedly less than a month away, they’re still making editor-based movie bullshots (see the Reclaimer @ 26:37 in the AtV video) which have zero correlation to the actual game client they’re releasing. Except this one is Pupil To Planet (Dec 2015) redux for 2017.
Coming soon in 2.0 – Aug 2015
CitizenCon Oct 2016 vs AtV July 2017
BONUS: If you really want to have a good laugh, take a look at this YouTube doubler video showing the same planet to space zooming between Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. Yeah.
PERFORMANCE – THE BANE OF 3D WORLDS
Though parts of this presentation was running in the game editor, and low frame rates are usually expected – especially for an Alpha – depending on what is being rendered, the performance issues which are already existent in every build of Star Citizen, (including the current 2.6.3 build released back in April) client and server, are only going to get a whole lot worse as they try to increase the size of the world, add more stuff to it etc.
You did notice parts of the broadcast where 4 airborne clients in the scene, with the frame rate at around a constant 15 fps; while other parts showed 20 fps on the ground?
You did? Right. That’s absolutely horrific.
Especially when you consider that the scenes are already barren, and mostly built off repetitive (you can see the patterns if you look closely e.g. in the rock formations) procedural entities. In the existing 2.6.3 build, you can hardly get 8 clients in an instance, without either the server falling over, or the client dying. Now imagine having those 8 clients in 3.0, on a moon, all of them flying around, or hovering (they don’t touch the terrain) across the terrain in a Dragonfly or Nox. And firing weapons. Or running around in fps mode. All of that with physics and collisions active. Then just wait until they add pathfinding and AI, and all that to the mix; not to mention gameplay elements such as mining.
And before you utter their buzzwords and terms such as “network bind culling” or “serialized variables”, don’t. It has nothing to do with that. And even if and when they somehow magically got those two networking features implemented, it’s not going to be a huge performance gain either way. Which is probably one of the reasons why neither is in the schedule, or continues to be delayed.
@7:52 : we have “a full universe simulation” with about “20 million AI units” – Aug 2015
@0:22 : “digging and drilling holes, and going inside” and “mining asteroids” – Dec 2014
Back in late June, a source had told me that they were having some serious performance issues with this build, and that they had no idea how they are even going to release it within the current schedule given. I wrote about that back on June 24th. Excerpt:
“BREAKING two sources have now confirmed that 3.0 is such a technological nightmare, and performance hog, that nobody knows how they are going to end up releasing it within the current time frame; let alone for GamesCom.
Recently (well, before GamesCom 2016), I said that they simply didn’t have the tech to do procedurally generated planets, that the pitched 3.0 was bullshit dipped in Ether. Less than 6 months later, 3.0 has been significantly scaled back. And has moons – in a level – instead of procedural planets (shown in an elaborate R&D video showcase posing as in-game).
I have no doubt that they will probably release something called 3.0, then continue to update it. They did the same thing with 2.0. Right up to 2.6.x”
Today’s dev schedule update is going to be interesting if it’s like last week’s (which I wrote about here) in which the 3.0 release window was again pushed, but further and all the way to Aug 10th, with a huge list of items delayed or changed to TBD status.
The proximity of this AtV broadcast, to the upcoming 3.0 release date – both knocking up against the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26), one of their biggest yearly funding drives – is also going to factor in whether or not 3.0 actually releases before, during, or after the show. And given the amount of work that seems to be going into this 3.0 build, it is safe to say that it’s going to be the only major release this year. This is similar to 2.0 in 2015, and 2.6 in 2016. So once this is released, it’s probably going to be 3.0x until they get to 3.1. If they even get that far, seeing as they are now rumored to be having financial issues.
And if 3.0 isn’t released within the stated period, or is released with most of the promises cut, with major performance issues etc, my guess is that they’re still going to be doing bullshots while peddling the promise and dreams of things yet to come – six years, and over $153 million later.July 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm #5543
So last week, German (It has to be them, because US media mostly don’t give a shit anymore because they know what’s coming) magazine, GameStar, had an interview with CIG whereby they claimed to have “played” the upcoming Alpha 3.0. You know, just like they have all these past years even though basically nothing they’ve written, has actually been released yet. And they did the same thing, on the same subject, almost a year ago – again to another German magazine. You should see all the ridiculous claims and promises in that one.
Anyway, since it’s the usual Shillizen nonsense, especially with the upcoming GamesCom (Aug 22-26) coming up in Germany, most of us just laughed. You’d be surprised how much funnier this Star Citizen crap is when you’re reading a German to English translation. Not to mention the irony of backers having to read critical info from the media. This after having to date donated almost $155M to the project. It’s hilarious.
Aside from my usual Twitter trolling for lols, I mostly ignored, and discounted it as the usual rubbish that only desperate backers would pay any attention to. The backers in the Reddit threads (1, 2) were mostly aghast and/or pensive, for the most part. When I finally got to read a proper translation over the weekend, I realized just how right I was. It’s all the usual pandering bullshit, with zero accountability for the fact that the project, after 6 years and $155M (backer money only), is nowhere as complete today, as it was back in 2015. Without any bias, I say that with the utmost sincerity. Below are all the major milestone releases. Here are all the patch releases. Also in April 2015, they revised the patch numbering scheme.
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
So now it’s looking a lot like, with half the year gone, and the last 2.6.3 patch having been released back in April, that this year’s biggest update is going to be 3.0 (Moons!). And according to Chris Roberts at GamesCom 2016, it was supposedly due (On Nov 2, 2016, I wrote an article which cited sources had indicated that 3.0 didn’t even exist) back in Dec 2016; but backers got a consolation prize in the form of the immediately forgettable (seriously, nobody is playing it) Star Marine. And when you look at the sheer amount of work left to do, it’s easy to see how insurmountable their task it.
But enough of that. I wanted to talk about some specific items in the article that caught my attention, and which have also been the subject of much talk and controversy.
SQUADRON 42 DELAYED – AGAIN
You do know that since Summer 2015 I’ve been saying this, right? And that since SQ42 relies on ALL the tech for Star Citizen, that there is no way in hell that game ever comes out without that tech being in place. They denied it in 2015. It didn’t release. They denied it in 2016 – even went to the media and said the rumors were rubbish. It didn’t release. It’s not coming out in 2017 folks. So stop talking about it.
They are planning for 7 – 14 missions, depending on how things go with the 3.0 release. This is interesting because, like with 2.0x, in which they created some space missions which quickly became repetitive, that’s basically where they’re going with this too.
SPACE <–> PLANET TRANSITION
The article says that via the starmap, they jumped to the outside of Delamar (moon), then flew down through the atmosphere to the surface below.
If you have been following my writings about this (1, 2), then at this point you can safely utter the words “Derek Smart was right” because since last year when Chris Roberts was touting procedural planets and all that rubbish, I had said that due to the engine, they probably couldn’t do whole planets, let alone procedural ones, or features promised such as orbiting planets, atmospheric day & night effects etc. Instead, they would have to create these surface areas as they would a standard “level”, using a combination of procedural (terrain and asset generation), and hand-crafted areas (derelicts, landing bases). And in the end they would have to access them the same way that Elite Dangerous does. In fact, what you would end up with is basically another entity object similar to their base in space with a landing platform, but created as a moon. Note that fps on planets was a $20M stretch goal, and they got a $1M spending bonus for procedural tech R&D when they hit $41M.
As a game developer and designer, I really have no problems with this because you have to work with what you have. And that’s the problem with making promises that you have to keep down the road. However, when you fund your own game, along the way, you can add and remove anything you want – with impunity and without consequences. Even in Early Access. But with crowd-funding, as the FTC and State AGs have said in all the cases they’ve pursued, if you make a promise, you have to keep it. No exceptions. You can’t take money to deliver a Gold box, then deliver a brass box, and say that’s the end of that, you’ve delivered.
Anyway, if they pull off this Minimal Viable Product of planetary access in 3.0, and assuming they can overcome the performance issues I’ve been writing about, that should probably keep some backers happy. Until they run through the content in one sitting; realize it’s all repetitive and shallow, and not really a “game”. Then we’re back in the lol trenches again.
“An artist can crank out five or six moons in a week for you,” Roberts told us, emphasizing that “once you’ve got your building blocks, somethings will be quicker. There isn’t going to be a matter where we hit a magic number and, ‘boof,’ here comes a planet” –Chris Roberts on procedural planets in Sept 2016.
Landing on a moon and base in Elite Dangerous
Marco Corbetta and Carsten Wenzel saying that the StarEngine currently has 10% CryEngine and 90% of their code, is interesting. It makes absolutely no sense, seeing as they claimed to have switched to LumberYard in about a day. That was back in Dec 2016 when 2.6 was released.
LumberYard is based on CryEngine 3.x, and Amazon didn’t make any fundamental (in dev speak) changes to it, other than bug fixes, various improvements, as well as adding AWS support and some supporting features for it. It’s all right there in their changelog. If what these guys are saying is true, and I don’t doubt that it is, then it completely confirms my theory that they didn’t “switch” to LumberYard at all. Instead, they merged the parts (e.g. as of this writing, they still can’t get the LumberYard implementation of Render-To-Texture to work) they needed, replaced Google Compute with AWS as is required by Amazon, and continued on from there.
From what I have heard, this move could be due to their original CryTek engine license which may either have royalties, or some sort of “units sold” threshold, like most licenses from years ago used to have. Which also begs the question of how they are going to get around the issue of the competing (LumberYard) engine clause, which, anyone who has seen a legacy CryTek engine license contract, probably knows is one of the bullet points.
In addition to the above, some have speculated that this switch is probably due to CryTek’s financial state, their ability to provide on-going support for CryEngine etc. Well uhm, if you’re only using 10% of CryEngine, what do you need CryTek support for?
“I talked to publishers about doing a fourth Elite game, but some things happened. Publishers were skeptical of space games in general because of the financial failure of Freelancer, an early 2000’s game. It was delayed. It’s a nice game, but in that period, they were just incredibly skeptical.
When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer. Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.” – David Braben, Rolling Stones, 2016
SERVER CAPACITY & CLIENT SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
They’re still talking about 24 clients on a server, though nobody seems to want to mention that it’s a theoretical limit and which only works in the social module. Any game instance running more than 8 clients, is a horrid experience. So with the much touted networking core improvement – which isn’t going to make much difference anyway – moved out of 3.0 and now defered into 3.1, with the added moons in the instance, it makes sense now why they are having performance issues with 3.0.
Listen, lets face it, with their current engine and architecture, they’re never going to be able to build the MMO they touted. Assuming they survive even a year past the 3.0 launch, there is no way they’re going to get from where they are (an instanced session based game) now, to an MMO (instanced or otherwise).
Not to mention the fact that, just like Elite Dangerous, the game’s architecture means that if they can’t make enough money to be paying huge AWS bills for their cloud servers, they’re going to have serious issues. It’s almost as if they should have been thinking about private servers – as promised – years ago so that when (not if, they’re fucked – completely) the project collapses, at least backers can continue to play the game thereafter.
They also claimed to have played the 3.0 demo on a 32GB machine with an i7-5930K CPU and Nvidia GTX 980 GPU. They claimed 30 fps, without specifically saying whether that was in space or on the Delamar moon, nor how many people were in the demo. But who cares about such details, right? Right now, there are backers with beefier systems having horrid performance with 2.6.3. But somehow for 3.0, they’ve come up with some magic Juju that’s going to make an upcoming build with a major content update, run on those same systems at the same or faster performance rate. I can’t wait to play it.
A TOTAL OF 5 – 10 SYSTEMS AT LAUNCH
Chris Roberts (@14:14) talking about 100 star systems – Sept 2015
This one has been the cause of much discussion since the article was published.
Considering that at $6M stretch goal they promised 100 systems, with 7 (1 exclusive to pre-launch backers) more promised between $18M and $40M stretch goals, and 500+ planets, with even the game’s universe description still touting 100 systems at launch, this one was hilarious to say the least.
Hey, at least they seem to have confirmed what I’ve been saying that the world isn’t procedurally generated at all. Which, now that it’s clear, I can see how they are now talking about 5 – 10 systems at launch because, given the tools we’ve seen, and the sheer amount of work required to build each of these “levels” with points of interest, landing zones etc, it would take another decade or more for them to build the world they promised. Shockingly, a world this size, was built by a single person over two decades ago, using a combination of scripts and procedural techniques. And it contains entire planets and moons, complete with various eco-systems, climate zones, planetary day/night transitions, orbiting & rotating planets and moons etc. Ah yeah, good times.
A lot of backers forget that though they were in the stretch goals, CIG announced procedurally generated planets back in February 2014. They showed an R&D demo during the holiday stream in 2015. Then in July 2016, again in a German magazine, they announced it as coming in 2.7 (the patch that became 3.0).
Anyway, this sounded so ridiculous to me, that I held of commenting on it before hearing back from my sources. Excerpt says it all.
“Nobody here reads what chris and erin tell the media. We still have to deal with scripted and directed shows most don’t want to be in. So if he told G* we’re planning that number at launch, I personally don’t know about it. It could be one of those things he just prattles on about or a lost in translation thing. Did they say he said that, or was it coming from a designer they met with? We don’t even have a launch date for either game, so how can that person know how many systems we would have at launch? Did you see the chatter on Spectrum related to Levski not being in 3.0 and a designer who should know but didn’t? It’s like the loan, none of us knew until we read about it online. I didn’t know about it until I got the chatter about Ortwin’s official statement on Spectrum. I saw your other email about an MVP. We don’t have that. Nobody is working toward that. We are just working on what we have to and doing the best that we can. I will check around about that other thing* and get back you, but I don’t know what they are planning now because 3.0 isn’t in any state to be released in Aug. Keep watching the schedule for the pattern I mentioned in my other email.”
* That was a prior exchange related to whether or not they would be releasing 3.0 as-is because of GamesCom, or if they would delay it again past Aug 25th in order to address the missing features and performance issues. If you haven’t been keeping up with the dev schedules, you should read the analysis of the 07-14-17 one in which a bunch of things were delayed, but the target release date never changed. Yeah, they’ve invented a time dilation machine.July 20, 2017 at 11:00 am #5580
WHY THERE ARE NO ACTUAL PLANETS IN 3.0 DESPITE PREVIOUS PROMISES
I remember when planets were coming. Then we found out they were moons (Yela and Cellin) – of course because they are smaller, and easier to handle and build, than full blown planets.
Then, after promising the Stanton system back in 2016, they are now saying that they’re going to be moving (LOL!!) Delamar from Nyx to Stanton. You know why? Because they can’t do planets, or they would be building the Crusader planet, which is in Stanton already. Instead, since Delamar (within the Glaciem ring/belt in Nyx) is just a large asteroid the size of a small planet (hence planetoid), they are moving it to Stanton.
If they can move Delamar, they could very well have changed Crusader from a gas giant to a regular planet, built that, and left Delamar where it is. But that would mean having to build an actual planet which would require a larger surface area, more terrain assets, POIs etc. The problem with creating surface area in these games is that when you have air/space craft which can travel up to 350 m/s in space, due to the expanse, on a planet they will quickly run out of space to fly.
And Delamar, which has the Levksi landing zone, may not even be in 3.0 when it first launches.
It’s worse than that.
Nyx is an entirely different star system which they haven’t built. So leaving Delamar where it is, would have meant building the Nyx star system, when in fact they only have Stanton (15% built, if you counted all the elements in the Star map, compared to what’s in the current game client), and having to deal with player transitions from one system to another. So they just said, fuck it, we’ll just move it.
It’s a brilliant plan if you ask me.
Aside from that, having promised over 100 systems, and now saying that the game will “launch” (whatever that means) with only 5 – 10 systems, as of now, they haven’t even built a single one of the systems to completion. Stanton, where they started out, has four planets and several moons; and only two of those moons and the relocated Delamar planetoid, are going to be in 3.0. They are burning through over $30M a year from backer funding. Which means that if Stanton isn’t built by the end of 2017, it stands to reason that it’s going to cost millions more in funding to get the game to even 5 – 10 systems. That aside from the features required. And 5 – 10 systems at launch, complete with space and planet/moon regions, we’re talking another two years – at least. In fact, this latest news is in sync with what sources had told me a few weeks ago in May when they said the internal dev schedule for the promised game, doesn’t reflect the public facing one, and goes all the way to 2021.
Meanwhile, some backers still don’t get the fact that NONE of this tech or methodologies are actually new, and that CIG has basically been playing catch-up, while being firmly behind the curve. They’ve had over $155M of backer money, but yet somehow, they can’t seem to be able to build what most of us experienced devs deem to be rudimentary technology which, graphics aside, any competent developer with experience in the field, could have built by now. When you look at the amazing ground breaking work being done in the genre by small indie devs like myself and others (Helion, Infinity Battlespace, Dual Universe etc), you have to wonder wtf is going on with this project – and where did all this money go? Heck, Line Of Defense only has one populated planet, but it has four heavily populated, and fully built bases, complete with day/night cycles, weather patterns, unique topology etc.
As I wrote in an update from yesterday. All they had to do was this:
- Pick the right engine (not CryEngine) or build a custom engine from one that wasn’t designed primarily for one type of game
- Build the world editing tools for creating both space and planetary terrain
- Build the space terrain so that the entire space world (as seen in the Star Map) is there
- Build the space related missions and features
- Build the planetary tech. Since this would be isolated from all of the above, it doesn’t break continuity because, like what ED did, once you have it working, you LATER just edit your space world to handle planet entry into planets and moons
- Build the planet related missions and features
But no, that was too easy, and they had an incompetent buffoon who hasn’t worked in a dev team, let alone build a fucking game in almost two decades, at the helm. I would bet that, aside from Squadron 42 requiring ALL the tech they’re building for Star Citizen, it too probably has planet based missions. Which is probably why they’re now having to build this in 3.0, instead of fleshing out a “game”, then adding that later. All this time could have been spent on 3-4 above to keep backers happy and dropping their knickers with each patch. Then you hit them with planetary tech one day – and boom – all their clothes come off. But you see, as backers have been giving them money this whole time, they had no reason to plan properly, let alone show meaningful progress. I mean, 6 years + $155M later, look at this shit. LOOK AT IT!!
- 3.0 (Moons) is planned for Aug 2017
- 2.6 (Star Marine) // Dec 2016
- 2.0 (Persistent Universe + Multi-Crew) // Dec 2015
- 1.2 (ArcCorp Social Module) // Aug 2015
- 1.0 (Arena Commander) // Dec 2014
- 0.x (Hangar Module) // Aug 2013
3.0 EVOCATI WATCH
So according to the totally legit dev schedule, the Evocati (elite of the elite backer testers only) release window starts today, and through to Aug 3rd. If that one crashes less, it will then go to the Public Test Universe (pleb backer testers) which has a release window of Aug 7th to the 18th. The final release of 3.0 currently has a window of Aug 8th to the 25th.
From what I am hearing, of course they’re not bloody well likely to make any of those dates, unless they just throw it out there. After all, GamesCom is Aug 22nd – 26th, and that’s their second (only to CitizenCon in Oct) largest yearly fundraising drive where they get to lie – a lot – to keep up the facade, while fleecing gullible backers.
I will be at GamesCom this year, because I believe that it will be their last one. That is all.
NEW CONCEPT SALE – JULY 21
So of course now that they are rushing to implement moons in the upcoming 3.0 build, it makes sense that they would want to give players vehicles to drive around. There’s the Nox racer, a sort of hover bike, but today they unveiled the Cyclone, 4-wheel vehicle. Note that this is a “concept” sale. Meaning that it exists only in pictures. No model. No implementation in the game. And no guarantees that the project would still exist by the time they get around to implementing this vehicle. There are many concept ships they previously sold, and which are still not in the game in any way, shape, or forum.
2016 FLASHBACK – GERMAN MEDIA DUMPING GROUND
Over the years, due to the size of the fan base there, as well as having a studio in country, CIG has made German media their dumping ground for Star Citizen propaganda because those guys will print anything. The US media, aside from few updates, are basically now taking a wait and see approach. This one, Star Citizen – New screenshots and details for version 2.7 unveiled, was back in July 2016 – a year ago this month – when procgen planets were totally coming in the 2.7 patch (which morphed into what we now know to be 3.0) due out later that year. Please read it. It’s absolutely hilarious.
2014 FLASH BACK – PERSISTENT LIES
As far back as late 2014, having completely missing the original Nov 2014 ship date, increased the project scope and funding to the tune of $65M, they were still doing bullshots being passed off as in-game, while touting this massive world they claim they were building.
“The cities are done to such a level of detail that it would be totally impractical to build each one from scratch,” Zurovec said. “As a result, we’ve adopted a multi-step process whereupon once the art assets have been created and properly set up, we can quickly create a lot of areas that look dramatically different.” – Tony Zurovek, Polygon Interview 2014
2012 FLASH BACK – THE ADVENT OF A DISASTER
Long before I got involved in this farce, and promised never to quit until either 1) CIG and/or Chris Roberts apologizes to me for lying about why they refunded me and 2) CIG comes clean with backers about the true state of the project and the finances, a lot of industry vets and media, already saw the signs of lofty promises and the potential for disaster.
One such person was Ben Kuchera who, in an Oct 2012 Penny Arcade article, called Star Citizen “a bad bet”, to which Chris Roberts responded (because why not?). These are some of the statements which, when you look back, you have to wonder how Chris Roberts is going to explain away how he ended up not only blowing through over $150M of backer money, plus what most believe to be investor money, bank loans etc, to the tune of over $285M (source rumors) on a project which , six years later, isn’t even 15% completed. It’s also one of the earliest statements (the other was to The Mittani) he made, in which he claimed that there was already a working build of Star Citizen from back in 2011.
GORF’S BACK! HE BROUGHT A SHIT-STORM.
You think I’m verbose? Then you don’t know Gorf, a highly regarded (even Shitizens scurry for cover when Gorf writes) member of the Goon enclave. After creating what has become the de facto standard for backer outrage in his Star Marine chronicles, he had taken a step back from following the project. So, without notice or forewarning, what did he do this time?
He created a 3.0 infographic which has the Star Citizen community ablaze, while sending ripples throughout the far reaches of known space. You simply can’t argue with pictures. And Gorf loves his pictures.
He also penned a memo to backers.
So it took me awhile to read through all the comments about the chart on /Games. Though there were lots of crazed invocations of Derek Smart, demonizations of goons, and other overreactions, I did see a few fair criticisms that I’ve addressed in this latest update.
1). The inclusion of the reduction percentages was redundant. Fair enough. I deleted that.
2) Chris’ quote didn’t include his “I get shot for making promises but that’s our goal” escape clause, the line that retroactively makes it all okay. So I included that, too.
3) I also added his mention of the 30 to 40 space stations that would be coming in 3.0. (We’ll see how that turns out.)
4) I also fixed a graphical problem that had white boxes behind the Planet names in the Stanton layout.
So here’s the latest version. If you’re a DS lurker who feels like the last one was flawed or shortchanged Chris’s quote, hopefully you might find this an improvement. I’m trying to be fair, even if stern.
I have to admit, lurking friends, some of your reactions were a little frustrating, given that I’d tried to avoid editorializing. The focus of the piece was timelines, quotes, and scopes for Star Systems in Alpha 3.0.
The accusations that the infographic was a part of some organized FUD campaign were especially ironic, given that some of you tried to preemptively trying to counter an anticipated Derek Smart tweet and in so doing ended up creating a non-paywalled source for the r/Games OP to reference.
“They put so much work into this. We record it we make some comments and that’s it. Smarties have absolutely no reach beyond their own echo chamber”
I didn’t make the chart hoping for a r/GAMES thread to blow up, or a MassivelyOP mention, or a psychodrama to unfold on r/DS. I made it for my friends here on the forum, most of whom I haven’t interacted with in a year, because organizing historical facts is something I like to do. It’s clear to us by now that Chris Roberts doesn’t learn from history because he keeps repeating it, so we keep discussing it, yet what I don’t understand is why you keep defending it?
Surely I have my own biases, as do we all, but why rage about what strangers think on some random forum? Your recurring tendency to discount the observable past while exaggerating the imagined future produces the present tensions that discomfit you so. The relief you seek yet can’t find won’t come from excoriating random nobodies for discussing their opinions about troubling development issues or deceptive sales tactics. You are the publisher. The ones to whom pledges have been made for accountability and openness. You’re intellectually and emotionally malnourished from the parody of it served up by a guy who believes himself accountable to no one and above all reproach. A man who hasn’t once in the entire history of this project ever apologized for anything despite having either intentionally or inadvertently mislead you about matters of genuine consequence for years.
You deserve better than to be full-time apologists for that. I sincerely believe that — why don’t you?”
Gorf’s 3.0 infographicJuly 29, 2017 at 11:43 am #5610
It’s a foregone conclusion that during GamesCom 2016, Chris Roberts – again – blatantly LIED to backers about the state of the project when he revealed the time line for the 3.0 build release. Even the most loyal backers, even though they knew deep down that there was a chance that this was the case, are starting to come around.
But it won’t last. We’ve seen this cycle once too many times before. As soon as Chris Roberts trots out the latest scam-ridden pretty pictures, the sheep, like AI bots, will self-herd themselves into a lull for a few more months. Even the “popular” Star Citizen streamers are getting fed up. Meanwhile, over at the hug box that is the CIG backer quarantine, a few stragglers are upset at another two week delay. I don’t know what they’re going to do when it all comes to a head this Summer. Either way, it’s going to be absolutely amazing to behold, and there will be many lols to be had. In fact, most of us are already planning our Summer vacation around it.
“There seems to be an interesting pattern:
– Week A: delay critical tasks, add a few fluff tasks, do not delay overall launch prediction. Sales are usually held during these weeks.
– Week B: close a few fluff tasks to convey an image of progress, delay the overall launch prediction for two weeks
This can go on a very long time and keep backers happy, as we have now seen with already more than doubled time from 3.0 June prediction.
But people are starting to notice.” – A backer on Reddit
But this is not what I want to write about today.
So, remember back in Nov 2016 when I said sources told me that back in Aug 2016 when Roberts was touting 3.0, that it didn’t really exist in any form? Sure you do.
Remember that same month when I repeated the same thing after CitizenCon, ahead of Roberts’ “Dec 19th” release comment?
You also read my Dec 13th, 2016 update, three days ahead of the “3.0 release”, right?
And do you remember my first update of 2017 after 3.0 failed to materialize, and I reminded everyone that I was right the whole time? Yeah, you do.
Did you also read my follow-up Jan 2017 update about 3.0, as well as yet another interview with German’s #1 Star Citizen propaganda media outlet, GameStar, who had previously claimed that they “played 3.0”?
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – Chris Roberts, Feb 2017
Then in my Feb 2017 update, two months after not hearing about, nor a 3.0 release, I wrote about it being a pipe dream, and that SQ42 wasn’t even a thing anymore.
Then in my Apr 18th, 2017 update, a full EIGHT months after Roberts’ claimed 3.0 was going to be released on or before Dec 19th, 2016, the first 3.0 schedule was released. With an “aim date” release window to June 29th.
Then in my May 2017 update, I mentioned a major scoop regarding both SQ42 and the internal 3.0 dev schedule that goes all the way to 2021.
Where are we today?
Star Citizen 3.0 is EIGHT months late from the original Dec 19th release window. And as per the June 28th schedule update (analysis), assuming they actually make (all bets are that they won’t) it, will be almost THREE months late from the original release window in the first schedule released in April.
Since the original 3.0 schedule was released in April, we’ve been doing analysis (06-09, 06-16, 06-30, 07-07, 07-14, 07-21) of the more important and significant changes. The trend has always been that CIG released a bullshit schedule, that didn’t reflect the actual state of the project. This has been more evident with each delay. And until this past July 28th update, the previous two schedules didn’t even change the release aim date, despite the fact that there were many tasks delayed by as much as three weeks. It’s almost as if they didn’t want to upset the Apple cart during the sales they have been doing this period. Particularly the sale of the Nox (in-game) and Cyclone (JPEG concept) vehicles which are to be used on the promised moons and planetoid coming in 3.0.
“Why yes, yes of course a company that is run by a group of thieving, conniving, lying, sumbitches led by an incompetent ass-clown, and which is actively engaged in an on-going scam to fleece backers and line their own pockets, is oh so very willing to refund money because, you know, they feel like it. GTFO” – Derek Smart on SA
Going into August (GamesCom is Aug 22-26), we started seeing the shill pattern again. First up, those lying bastards over at GameStar, got the ball rolling with their interview which, while being their usual bullshit-ridden puff piece, started a major furor when they revealed that Star Citizen was only going to “launch” with 5 – 10 systems (out of the 110 promised to backers between 2012-2014). I wrote about that in my July 17th update.
And while CIG and their media cohorts, as well as the clueless backers were busy shilling “procedural planets” (most of them have no idea what that even means), which I recently wrote about here with regards to Star Citizen, others were on a completely different tangent.
Then Chris Livingston over at PC Gamer, one of the more credible writers, claimed “hands on” experience with 3.0. As I wrote here, based on my Twitter exchange with him, he says that he was able to play the game, go from space to planet “seamlessly”, then land on a moon and a planetoid. As the issue hasn’t been released yet AFAIK, that’s the only information that we have thus far. I remember back when GameStar was claiming they played 3.0, while not being able to give any details, though found time to write a 12+ page word salad of backer pandering bullshit.
“There will never – ever – be a “game” coming from this. And when it all collapses and CIG can no longer pay the monthly AWS costs, since the game is online only, backers will be left with a dud they can no longer play, as there is no off-line play component, nor peer-to-peer multiplayer.
My opinion remains the same. This game will never get made. It’s been a cash grab that’s made Chris, his family and friends, rich off backer money. He hasn’t “saved PC gaming”. All he’s saved are the ill-gotten gains from trusting backers who just wanted a game.” – Derek Smart
Know what happened to the Nox and Cyclone sales after Livingston posted his article snippet? This.
Then, amid the furor, and weeks later on July 26th, with no official comment from a CIG exec (not even Roberts), one of the CS posted a half-assed clarification about the 5 – 10 systems furor. It’s as ridiculous as it is mind-blowing. Read it and be the judge. I personally like how they literally threw GameStar under the bus. It’s always interesting when even shills and their sources can’t seem to get their stories straight.
Remember that by $65M raised, these clowns had progressively increased the scope of the game and reached the peak of ludicrousness almost three years and $90M ago in Nov 2014. The same month that the original games (Star Citizen and Squadron 42) pitched in Oct 2012 were supposed to be released.
As Nosy Gamer noted in his July 28th article, shortly after the above clarification, those backers who were defending the 5 – 10 systems, were suddenly singing a different tune. The YoYo is not a joke; and the Blue pill is actually Purple.
Even as GamesCom is approaching, and sources telling me that the ENTIRE project is an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions, the denizens of the quarantine zone, are already at high anxiety levels in anticipation of what’s going to happen at GamesCom this year. If only they knew that the reason resources are pulled off 3.0, thus causing the delay, is because CIG are working on what they will be showing at GamesCom a little less than a month from now. And if you thought I was joking when I kept saying that most of them were stuck in Sunk Cost Fallacy, read this Spectrum post.
I have all the details about precisely what they’re doing and planning for GamesCom. I will be publishing a new article during or after the GC2017 show, then we all get to see how much of it was on the mark.
The Misconception: You make rational decisions based on the future value of objects, investments and experiences.
The Truth: Your decisions are tainted by the emotional investments you accumulate, and the more you invest in something the harder it becomes to abandon it.
As I wrote back on July 8th, sources continue to tell me that not only is 3.0 nowhere near ready for release, but that it continues to be a performance hog. And that Squadron 42 still doesn’t exist as a “game”, but as a series of splintered tech demos. Which makes sense, considering that it relies on the Star Citizen core engines which aren’t even completely developed yet. It’s almost as if the pillar of the Star Citizen CS staff and community, a homophobic, racist, antisemitic buffoon, Ben Lesnick, actually lied when he claimed to have played all the missions in SQ42. A game that, with 2017 almost half over, still has no release date.
The bottom line is this, with the 3.0 release aim date now in early September, if they release what we see in the schedule in that time frame, it’s going to be a disaster more epic than the release of 2.0 back in Dec 2015. But much worse due to the introduction of moons and planetoids which have added to the complexity of the game and the performance issues they’re now battling. I don’t personally believe that CIG will do that because it will mark the end of the project. Instead, there is a very good chance that they will probably release 3.0 to Evocati either shortly before, during, or after GamesCom. Then leave it there for an undetermined period. Then after the hype or disappointment – which is all but sure to leak – later either pulling it for more internal testing, or pushing it to the Public Test Universe. Whatever they do, if it doesn’t live up to the expectations – which sources tell me it simply cannot – then it’s the final curtain.
“As of now, Star Citizen is 2.8 years late, and $90.5M over budget. That’s an absolute and indisputable fact.“
Eventually, and this goes without saying, every single person left with money in Star Citizen, is going to end up losing it if they think that a “game” will ever evolve from this train wreck. For the US backers who are now claiming that if the project fails, that “Key Man Insurance” would cover refunds, or that their money is tax deductible, we can help. Here is IRS form 4684 which you will probably need when the end comes.
You see, the thing with Ponzi schemes – which this project has evolved into – is that it is bound to collapse, regardless of how long it takes. With CIG using new backer money to refund old backers (who are still refunding btw), at some point when they can no longer do refunds, the whole glass house crashes. It’s inevitable. It will happen. And we’re all going to bear witness to it.
And some of the backers engaged in obfuscation and revisionist history, keep spouting the same nonsense that “backers voted to increase the scope of the game“. In fact, as I wrote here about a year ago, that notion is patently false. The 11-03-2012 stretch goals poll, and the 07-17-2013 funding counter poll did no such thing. And even if it did, it was still up to Chris to know when to say no, or when to determine whether or not it could be done. But regardless, in Nov 2014, after raising $65M, the project scope was significantly increased, thus sealing its fate and dooming it to the failure it is now facing.
“That’s the third time you’ve posted the same link to the same poll, disregarding points raised that the poll data doesn’t show any consensus or agreement in any of the options, since not even a simple majority agrees on any one option despite each participant being allowed to select 3 options. Members of the active SC community were given 3 votes each and still failed to put any of the options above 40% support, which suggests that there is no majority support from the community for any of the expansion options.
If anything, giving people 3 choices each instead of 1 should have made it easier for any one option to hit 50%, but that still didn’t happen. All this shows is that CIG polled the community and then promptly disregarded the results, opting to proceed with their own plan instead, and certainly doesn’t support your assertion that the changes were voted and agreed upon by the community.” – Some guy on SA
UPDATE: So amid the ongoing furor, a CS person from CIG has again issued a statement regarding the recent 3.0 schedule delay. It’s as ludicrous as the project itself. To the extent that not only admitting to continue to increase the project scope – when they should be winding down development to release a game – but also somehow justifying a bogus schedule they know is unrealistic. A schedule to which they won’t add the actual dates, but instead increase the delays two to three weeks at a time in order to avoid panic.
Basically their official statement is admitting that Chris Roberts LIED to backers. Here’s irrefutable evidence from GamesCom 2016.
From PC Invasion article.
“We have to assume they will rustle something up for Gamescom just to keep fans happy. While these special event demonstrations are always impressive, there’s little change to the actual game and they simply fuel the hype machine. The 3.0 update has been teased by CIG since October last year.”
Meanwhile over on Reddit…August 23, 2017 at 10:53 am #5641
GAMESCOM 2017 – COVERAGE OF THE STAR CITIZEN TRAIN WRECK
So it’s here (Star Citizen GC2017 schedule) and backers waiting to see the much touted 3.0 build are already in shock over what’s on display. I will update this article until the end of the show when Chris Roberts goes live on Friday at 3PM EST. In the meantime, you can follow my coverage (Day 1, 2, 3) in the forums.
After one year (3.0 was originally coming on or before Dec 19th, 2016), they came to one of two very important (for the project) shows of the year with a basic CryEngine level consisting of a barren moon, which up to 12 clients can spawn into, and have two space craft, and two ground vehicles to use. That’s it.
Not only do they claim that most of the 3.0 features are “disabled”, but that they also have to reset the server every 10-15 mins in order allow other people to be able to play the game. Remember, this is supposed to be an MMO with “persistence”. So uhm, yeah – OK.
Basically, none of what both GameStar.de (I wrote about that here) and PC Gamer (I wrote about that here) were touting back in July, and which they probably had access to months before, were shown. Which leads me to believe that they probably pulled the same stunt by having a carefully created build for the media. Just like they have done in the past, and presented to backers.
The barebones 3.0 “demo” currently being played, has no game loop, and they are not even playing the current 2.6.3 build.
If you haven’t read my day three coverage yet, the highlight of it was the interview that Chris Roberts did with German Shillizen rag, GameStar.de (they hate me over there btw, because of Star Citizen). The most revealing part was the revelation that Squadron 42, which has been absent since the Godawful Morrow Tour in 2015, and which missed both GamesCom and CitizenCon in 2016, would not be shown at GamesCon 2017. That all but confirms what some of us already suspected and which I wrote about back in May, that it wasn’t a 2017 release. We’ll see if they cobble something of a reveal for CitizenCon 2017 in Oct.
And that’s not all. When asked if there was someone who is “stopping” him from trying to implement all his ideas, his response was, well, see for yourself.
Goon ambassador, SomethingJones has put together one of his notable transcripts of the interview. It’s an eye-opening read. He even goes as far as to compare Star Citizen which, after six years and $156M raised is still in pre-Alpha, and not even 15% completed, to Eve Online which was released as a complete game, then improved upon and expanded over the years. To me, this basically means that he knows that he stands no chance of completing the game, let alone two of them.
How much longer will we have to wait [for Squadron 42] ?
Well ya have to wait a little bit longer ah… I mean it’s going, it’s going really well aah, we’re not showing it here at Gamescon, aah… because… I… for me I want to have it at a… certain level of uh… POLISH and um, so… we’re working at get… getting it there but, ah, there’s a lot of the STUFF that we actually we show in our uh, UPDATES on ATV and a lot of… some of the STUFF in three point zero is specific STUFF that is ah, ENABLING and being used for um, Squadron 42 and in fact some of the STUFF that we, ahm, you know, introduced like the PLANETARY TECH, ehm, we also put into Squadron Um Forty Two, so there are, there is, you know… case… is when you… go down on like a MOON or a PLANET and it’s something like that, so…
… ahm, but no, it’s going… it’s going very well, it’s just… a huge amount of uh… HIGH QUALITY AAH PERFORMANCE AAH… and motion capture aah… DATA aah… that we’re bringing in and making sure that ahm… when the characters are moving around that they look really great and really fluid, going between like AI pathing like from one location to another… you know… merging into like… scenes that we shot with the characters so we’re… we’re really trying to… make you feel like you’re part of the story and feel like you’re hanging out with AI you know just running around and ehm…
… I think it’s gunna be really great, uhm-I’m-uh-eh-did… it’s… it’s ahm… s’gunna be… worth… the wait lemme put it that way
Is there one specific feature right now in the alpha 3.0 that you are especially proud of?
Well I… well I mean the planetary tech… so this is gunna be the first time that the community, ah, can go, and… and LAND on… in the case of Three Zero, mooooons, or in the case of this asteroid planetoid, they’re FULLY REALISED, every inch of ’em you can move around and explore and you can cir-cum-nav-i-gate the entire conference (sic) of the moon if you wanted to, ah, and… ah.. it’s ah.. you know… the amount of additional playable area that comes into the game now compared to what was in say two point six three, aah it’s HUGE and how much the game is gunna OPEN UP cos we’re introducing the planetary tech compared to what we were thinking we would have in the game… before…it uh… ah, you know… we sort of made the BREAKTHROUGH so to speak… uhhh… i-it’s really exciting, there’s a lot of gameplay that’s gunna come out of it, it’s one of the reasons why maybe things are taking a lot longer than… uhm… you know… SOME OF US… or you know… I’d like to… things move faster too… ah… would LIKE… ahh… but… once we’ve sort of opened up the potential of these planets we… because of the sort of DETAIL and the FIDELITY we’re going for, we also need to make sure that there’s… STUFF TO DO ON THE PLANETS
… and uh, you know… we are.. focused on STUFF, we’re not just creating the planets but also creating, sort of… ah… SYSTEMS that will uh… allow the… whether it’s… ah… you know… ECO SYSTEMS or uh… FLORA or FAUNA… aah… that… you know… MAKE IT ALIVE or THINGS TO DO ON IT or you need to sort of uh.. PROCEDURALLY YOU KNOW… create… little uh, OUTPOSTS or TOWNS or VILLAGES beyond the central landing zones, cos you know, the original version of STAR CITIZEN we were aiming to be a bit more like PRIVATEER or FREELANCER were we had indvidual sort of BEE SPOKE landing zones but you couldn’t explore the planet, you would essentially be in ORBIT around the planet and you would have a LANDING and we would have a CINEMATIC that would transition you down and then you were, you know, essentially moving round a small limited FPS area were you could go to a SHOP and BUY THINGS and go to a BAR and TALK TO PEOPLE and get a MISSION…
…aahhh… you know… get your SHIP REPAIRED GO BACK TO SPACE so…
ahh, you know NOW we have WHOLE WORLDS OPENED UP TO YOU so the amount of ah, potential for exploration, long term in the game, and for players to do THINGS, for instance, you know, maybe… CREATE THEIR OWN LITTLE BASE or their own little SETTLEMENT on a moon or you know a planet that no one else has sort of gone to that particular area is… is… HUGE…
…so the gameplay potential is amazing, we’re only just seeing the very very very beginnings of it in three point zero and I’m really excited, ahm, as we start to roll out more STUFF for three point one and beyond.
Will there be anything on Friday, maybe a small teaser [of Squadron 42] ?
Ah, no, no, not at Gamescon.
What’s the big part that is actually missing and preventing you from finishing Squadron 42? What’s holding it back?
Ah, well I mean the… the… the… the big part is kind of what I was talking about before which is sort of… aah… trying… we… we very much want to get the quality of the animation and how the AI move around to be the equivalent to what you see sort of in like pre-rendered cinematics… cos we spent all this time shooting with these amazing actors… we spent about A HUNDRED… just over a HUNDRED DAYS doing PERFORMANCE CAPTURE and that’s a MASSIVE amount of time to shoot so, for instance, most big-event movies are $150 to $200 million, they usually don’t shoot for more than a hundred days, so… they shoot maybe 80 days, 90 days, ahm… and ah… so… for the amount that we have there, we have all these great performances so it’s a vast amount of performance data and animation and motion, ah… and STORY… ah, we really want to make sure it comes across so when you’re playing the game and you’re moving around in it you’re… they’re… talking to you, you know, OLD MAN who is played by MARK HAMILL or, ah, you know, the various other characters that you’re, uh, playing, uh, the game… like alongside with…
… because you’re in… you’re basically inside this MOVIE as opposed to sort of… you know the WING COMMANDER 3 and the WING COMMANDER 4 was sort of… you… you… you were like the STUNTMAN flying the ship, you got on the back of the ship, you would see what MARK HAMILL did and you would say, “No! Go… sort of… take this choice or this choice!”, and, well in this case it’s YOU and you happen to be the LEAD STAR in the MOVIE…
… so getting that to be the fluidity that we want, uh, because it’s a huge story, ah, and dialling that in, ahm… is… you know, has been taking a BIT LONGER than we ANTICIPATED…
So what you’re saying is the other parts, for example the missions and stuff like that, they are further along?
Well yeah, no… no we have… we don’t… we… we… well we… we’ve… you know we’ve still… we’re still working on, uhm… say, the final like ASSETS AND STUFF but we’ve blocked out all the MISSIONS and chapter… what we call CHAPTERS… we have these CHAPTERS
…uh, that each one would sort of be the equivalent of… you know, several missions in ah, say a WING COMMANDER because they would be sort of… LINK…
You can already play those missions from start to finish?
Well so, so YES… we haven’t BLOCKED what you… what you… what you would call sort of DESIGNER… somewhere between white and grey boxes and levels we’re going to take to a more finished state but we’re taking ah, certain ones… we’re taking, so for instance we were talking about showing, ah, a sequence last year that was, ah, you know ONE SECTION of the story that we were gunna take to a finished level… and you know we’re still basically doing that, we’re in production on all of them… um… we, you know… we’ll be showing some things at some point… ah, just it’s not gunna be at Gamescon and I would hate to make promises because, ah, you know, last year I said, “well we’re planning to show, uh, ah, uh… you know… a… a… piece of some Squadron 42 gameplay” and then we ended up not getting it to the point where we were happy with… but we didn’t show it and everyone was very UPSET and ah, I felt kinda BAD because, one, we also showed some amazing stuff on the planetary tech… Homestead and all the sort of the next level of what the planetary tech was like and…
… that was actually like, in my mind, really great stuff, but… it was sort of… partly the HIGH of that was… was AFFECTED by the, uh… the fact that we didn’t show Squadron 42. But no, you know I mean, I would say it’s sort of the ANIMATIONS and the AI because we’re going for a level of AI that you don’t normally have so we want… ah… you know… when you’re on, say… the ship you’re serving on, at the beginning of the game it’s the STANTON which is an IDRIS CORVETTE, you know all the crew have their full, you know… they have a SCHEDULE, they get up in the morning they EAT BREAKFAST, they go about their JOB, you know they go GET LUNCH, go back to their JOB…
… have CHIT-CHAT over DINNER, maybe UNWIND…
… then go back to SLEEP…
You know, there’s a whole SCHEDULE and CYCLE and they’re… so we… it’s almost… like a level of sort of SIMS SIMULATION FOR THE AI, we’re also using that… the planet’s using that for the PERSISTENT UNIVERSE and uh… so just DIALING THAT IN WELL, ah, getting that WORKING, so that’s the SUBSUMPTION SYSTEM which we’re making GREAT PROGRESS ON so it’s in three point zero… all the missions run on subsumption… now all in Squadron, everything runs in subsumption whereas before it wasn’t, it was using sort of an older CryEngine system.
So just getting all that in, getting that all up to the level, and making sure that it’s ah… you know… PERFORMING WELL and LOOKING GREAT… DIALED IN to look as great or better than anything else… which is what it’s going to do… it’s just taking some time unfortunately.
What is the best way to experience Star Citizen? Are you going to play it on one monitor or two? With a gamepad? With keyboard & mouse? Is it for joystick? What is your personal preference?
Ah. Aaaaahhhh. That’s… ehm… kinda hard to qua… I mean we basically build the game and support the game for everything so… whether it’s… joystick, ahm… you know, gamepad… ah, keyboard mouse… ah, and they all have sort of pros and cons it’s sorta hard to say, I mean obviously for running around on foot and sort of the FPS stuff, um, keyboard mouse is probably the best
Ah, for flying I’d say that joystick, I mean I know there’s some people that feel like the MOUSE FLY is too easy and it gives people an edge but… I… I mean, I’ll just say that, like, when we do STUFF when we’re trying to fly stuff around, so for instance we were, ah, you know… ah, in the PRESS we were sort of showing a preview of what we’ll do on FRIDAY and I’m hoping people will like what we show… ah, so I don’t really wanna spoil it, it’s pretty cool, ah… but it would definitely have been better to have a joystick, ah, for the, ah, you know… so we had… a sort of mix of… of PR PEOPLE PLAYING and sort of, some were playing HOE TAS and some were playing MOUSE AND KEYBOARD… some of the things were easier to do with the KEYBOARD than they were with MOUSE… ahm, so for me, ah… I would say, ah…
…you know I HAVEN’T SET IT UP YET but ah… um… my… a nice little wide monitor, you know, the one that’s kinda sort of… 4k across, one of the curved ones… ah, and then uhm… you know… I tend to sort of ah, switch between a HOE TAS and a mouse… a keyboard… a mouse keyboard for running around doing stuff, HOE TAS for the flight stuff.
Is there somebody who’s stopping you? Really Chris, you got all these ideas, but we’ve got to finish a game, is there somebody who says, ‘OK, we go until we get to this point and then we try to do it” ?
I mean I… I would say, ha!
Ahh… that… in the case of Star Citizen, the concept of finishing the game is probably pretty loose. I would say that the time that we stop adding stuff and making Star Citizen better will probably be the time that the game dies as an online game, and so we’re always going to be sort of adding features and content to keep it alive, if you look at every single sort of online game… that’s what they do, I mean it’s when people stop adding content or functionality to it the game’s dead…
So you know, if you look at EVE ONLINE ten plus years later, you look at World of Warcraft ten plus years…
Yes but I guess the question was more in the direction of, ‘get to version 1.0 and then keep going from there’…
But… but… the thing is… what… why is… what is version one point oh? Because at this moment if you back Star Citizen you can download two point six three, you’ll be able to download three point zero… VERY SOON… so it’s, you know… the content we have, YOU have, so in the case of three zero you’ll be able to GO BETWEEN THESE MOONS, when we go to three one we’ll put HURSTON and STANTON in, you’ll have more planets… we just… we give you THE GAME… so you’re getting it as it’s happening. So it’s not like we’re, ah, not giving it to you until a certain point, as we’re… I mean that’s the difference between what we’re doing with Star Citizen and what you would traditionally would do, say a PUBLISHER would work on the game, but you don’t get it, maybe they’d tell you about it, do a little marketing but you don’t get to play it until right before…
… you know maybe they’ll do a, you know a QUICK BETA THING like they do, you know, so BATTLEFRONT or something like that, but, em, you know… you’re not playing, you know… what EA’s developing two or three years before they’re releasing it.
So first you’re getting to play it as we’re building it, so, ah… it’s the idea of like… this… sort of particular FINISH LINE, for me in the Star Citizen sense? Ah, doesn’t make so much sense. We… I mean, we generally have a fairly, ah… set… of… general, ah, FEATURES, but as certain things come online, say like the planetary tech, you go, ‘OK, we need to do THESE things to make THIS thing interesting’, and yeah so it does add some features and functionality ah, to do it, but… ah, we’re… we’re building a… a world that I think, ultimately people are gonna wanna spend a lot of time in and so I care about making sure that that’s going to be the most interesting experience.
So that’s what I’m doing, it’s not like I’m adding control here, and believe me I wanna finish… ah, you know… ah, NOT finish… but I wanna get it to the point where I feel like… ah… I don’t… you know… it’s like this point where… and then I’m sort of adding additional stuff versus getting to… the, ah… SIDE where I think ‘OK we’ve got the basic functionality of all the game stuff in there’
Thanks for being here and for answering our questions
That’s alright, hopefully I did an alright job, hope I didn’t make it… eh… so… you know, challenging for you with my long answers to ah… to ah, translate into German but you seemed to do a great job
If I didn’t do it correctly they will put it in the comments, a-haha, somebody’s always doing it
Ok so tomorrow, tomorrow night and I think we’re live streaming it, uhm… so it’s generally always, ah… kinda FUN event and uh… I think we’re gonna show some… we’re gonna show some PRETTY COOL THINGS that hopefully people will like.. uhm… so check it out
Seriously, if you still have money in this train wreck, go get a refund. After six years and $156M raised, the project is still in pre-Alpha. The road to completion for a project is Alpha -> Beta -> Release Candidate -> Release. And each of those stages can take several months after all features are actually implemented by the RC stage. If after all this time, and all this money, they are still not even in alpha stage, what makes you think the project stands ANY chance of getting completed? Heck, they even removed the delivery aim dates from the public dev schedule, then went back and added even more stuff to it.
I am currently writing an article about Chris’s presentation, and will post it soon. I don’t even know where to begin with it, but suffice to say, that presentation had some unexpected results which solidified my opinions that this game can NEVER been made, and that the project is FUBAR. In fact, PC Invasion has the best summary so far of the disaster that unfolded before our eyes. Yes, this is a six year project developed by over 500 people (both past and present) and which has thus far raised (and probably burned through) over $156M in crowd-funding alone. I have also made public a private (industry friends and peers) post which I made on Facebook.August 26, 2017 at 11:07 am #5654
As I mentioned in my GC2017 Star Citizen coverage, I am currently writing an article on Chris’s presentation. In the meantime, below is a private (industry friends and peers only) post I made on Facebook.
Star Citizen is being shown at GamesCom. It’s been a massive and unprecedented disaster which has all but solidified my opinion that they didn’t stand a chance of ever shipping the massive game that Chris pitched in 2012 and which was due out by Nov 2014 (That was before he increased the scope, thus setting himself of for a massive failure).
Today Chris was interviewed. Aside from declaring that Squadron 42 (last seen in 2015) was not being shown, thus pretty much confirming that it’s not a 2017 release, his astonishing response to a question about restraint, has to be heard to be believed.
Note that he is comparing Star Citizen to Eve Online, a game that was COMPLETED before they went on to improve it, add expansions etc, over the years. Basically declaring that, promises and pledges aside, he has NO intentions of actually FINISHING the game, because he now views the project as a perpetual on-going project.
A project for which, six years later, he has now raised over $156M, of which $75M+ was spent by a UK studio he built for his brother (who now makes £230K a year at a studio that’s NEVER shipped a game; even as Braben at Frontier Dev which has shipped two massive games since 2012, and a third on the way, makes £180K), and which has NO reason to exist other to unjustly enrich his UK friends and family.
The same studio, the largest of five, that’s supposedly developing Squadron 42, and some major components for the engine that’s powering both games.
I have added a link in the comments to the full interview. It’s 30 mins long, and is absolutely incredible.
I had toned down and reduced the number of articles I write on this train wreck because, aside from the effects that it may have on some of our long time industry friends and colleagues working on the project, I came to realize that I was getting angrier and angrier with each article that I wrote.
I have been in the industry for almost three decades now, have shipped over a dozen games, and made a decent living from it. Aside from the early days where I relied on publishers (Take Two who became a public company with one of my first games, Interplay who gave me a second chance and was very instrumental in getting me where I am today, Dreamcatcher etc) for partial funding, marketing, support etc, I have always funded my own games in a bid to remain independent, and to make the games that I wanted to make, and not the ones that industry trends dictated that I make.
For me, this was never about a pay check. I truly love what I do, and because a group of people keep buying my games, I was able to keep making them over the years. And for as long as I have been around, so many teams, developers, and publishers have come and gone; and very few of us old school types are still doing what we love. The industry continues to go through a sea change in which our most heralded visionaries and peers have changed the way we make and fund games. While the challenges remain the same, only the battlegrounds and rules of engagement have changed.
The advent of crowd-funding for video games, which we all knew was going to be abused sooner rather than later, has produced some of the most exciting and diverse games in all genres. Games which would otherwise have never been made.
Then came Star Citizen in 2012, and which by all accounts, has now evolved into a massive scam which, at $156 million raised from gamers, has only served to unjustly enrich Chris Roberts and his family (3 of them) and friends (6 of them).
And six years later, they have yet to move out of pre-Alpha for a game (one of two) that is barely 15% of what was promised.
And this was all after Chris decided to burn over $75M on a studio (1, 2, 3) in the UK, which has NO reason to exist other than to have his UK friends and family benefit from this project. A studio which, being the largest of five around the world, is the most expensive, and which has burned through over 70% of the entire project’s funding. A studio in which his brother is now making £230K per year. A studio that has never shipped a product, and by all accounts stands ZERO chance of EVER doing so. This even as industry veteran Braben over at Frontier Dev which has shipped two games (one which was crowd-funded) since 2012, and with a third due out next Summer, is making £180K – from a company that was just today valued at a little under £500M.
I have spent three decades curating and working in a single, dedicated, niche genre: sci-fi and space combat games. A genre that for years had been under-served, once gamers got older and decided they didn’t want to read game manuals any more, let alone spend more than 10 mins learning how to actually play a game.
So for me, this vast amount of wealth (currently to the tune of $156M, not to mention loans and unknown investments) that’s not only been squandered but STOLEN from this genre and gamers who buy the games we make in the genre, is a very personal fight for me.
In July 2015, before I wrote that first blog, I had written a similar Facebook post for the benefit of my many industry friends and colleagues, alerting them to what I believed was going to happen, most of which has turned out to be true.
I always said that, regardless of the consequences (if you are aware of the many attempts to vilify, harass, and attack me for writing my articles, then you are all to familiar with that I am talking about) and/or expenses, that I was going to keep writing and exposing what’s going on, in a bid to not only hold Chris accountable, but also to ensure that he didn’t get away with what he has done.
With that, believe me when I tell you this, with what I know, and what I have and believe to be true, I am going to do everything in my power to not only hold Chris Roberts accountable, but to also put him behind bars if it comes to that.
That is all.August 29, 2017 at 7:46 am #5685
STAR CITIZEN VERSION 3.0 LOOKS SET TO LIVEN UP THE GALAXY – Polygon, Aug 2016
To say the entire Star Citizen stream and Chris Roberts’ GamesCom 2017 presentation were an unmitigated disaster, would be an understatement. If you haven’t yet done so, you should read my coverage of the daily streams because they will serve to give a better insight (PC Invasion also has a really good one) as to how we got here, and why Chris’s presentation ended up being such a massive disappointment which now serves as even more irrefutable evidence that the project is FUBAR. Heck, as I had previously written for months now, various sources had been telling me how much of a disaster the 3.0 build was, but I was still shocked by what I saw – live.
Before we begin, I would like to lay out a few things which serve to set the stage, and illustrate why this particular presentation, like last year, was so vital.
- I backed this project right off the bat in 2012 because I wanted to see the game (which was pitched), made. According to their own nomenclature, I am an original backer. I backed it just like I did all the other space combat games I crowd-funded over the years, whether or not they succeeded or failed. My goal isn’t, never was, and isn’t going to be about me wanting to see the project fail; that I’m jealous (which is hilarious, considering that I’ve been making games for 30 years, while Chris got kicked out of the biz over a decade before 2012) of Chris Roberts, or any of the nonsense that those guys keep spouting because it makes them sleep better at night. Despite the fact that my first July 2015 blog about this farce, as well as quite a few investigative reports, made these points clear, those trying to obfuscate the issue, are making this about me, instead of about Chris Roberts and the failed project. In fact, all said and done, I really do feel sorry for him because this project has completely sealed his fate as an incompetent, lying scammer, and egotistical con man. You can never recover from that. Especially after you’ve scammed a group of people out of millions of dollars, while making promises you can’t or don’t intend to keep.
- As I wrote in a short missive a few days ago, and as I have said for over two years now, vindication aside, I’m going to continue exposing this scam and will do everything in my power to ensure that they don’t get away with it.
- In Jan 2017, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“First of all, we always have a decent amount of money in reserve, so if all support would collapse, we would not suddenly be incapacitated. We plan the scope of the development based on what arrives monthly by the people to support. I’m not worried, because even if no money came in, we would have sufficient funds to complete Squadron 42. The revenue from this could in-turn be used for the completion of Star Citizen.” – $141M raised.
- In Aug 2016 (at GamesCom), Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“..so, it’s our big end of the year release. er so er yeah, so we’re gonna get it out the end of the year; hopefully not on December 19th but, er, like last year….but it is a big one, so, not making er, I got shot for making promises, but er, that’s our goal.” – $118M raised.
- In Sept 2014, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“Long ago I stopped looking at this game the way I did when I worked for a publisher who gave me a fixed budget to make a retail game. I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012).” – $54M raised.
- In Apr 2013, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“In the old model as a developer I would have captured 20 cents on the dollar,” Roberts said. “Ultimately that means I can make the same game for a fifth of the revenue, a fifth of the sales, and I can be more profitable, and I can exist on lower unit sales. I think that’s good for gamers, because crowdfunding and digital distribution are enabling more nichey stuff to be viable. It’s also allowing gamers to have their voice heard, and have their influence earlier in the process. You don’t really have your input into how Call of Duty’s being made.” – $8.6M raised
- In Oct 2012, Chris Roberts made the following statements:
“You have stated that you expect to have an Alpha up and going in about 12 months, with a beta roughly 10 months after that and then launch. For a game of this size and scope, do you think you can really be done in the next two years?
Really it is all about constant iteration from launch. The whole idea is to be constantly updating. It isn’t like the old days where you had to have everything and the kitchen sink in at launch because you weren’t going to come back to it for awhile. We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal. Any more and things would begin to get stale.” – $2.5M raised.
- Having pitched a completely different 3.0 build in Q4/16, it wasn’t until April 2017 that the first dev schedule for 3.0 was released. What should have been another major alarm bell, was mostly down-played by most of the hardcore zealots. You can read my analysis. Just this past August, after missing every single release date since that time, they just went ahead and completely removed the “release aim dates” from the schedule. And that was AFTER Chris went on an Aug 3rd AtV broadcast to explain why 3.0 was delayed, what was in it etc. No wait, that’s not all!
- The project is in pre-alpha. What that means is that six years and $157M later, they are nowhere near where they need to be. This invariably means that by the time they go through all the dev stages (pre-alpha->alpha->beta->release candidate->release), all of which have several builds over several months, the project would have been dead. The reason is simple: they’ve yet to deliver even 15% of the what they promised, having raised $65M back in Nov 2014. If this were a project funded by a publisher or other dev, it would have either been canceled by now, or chopped up and shipped in order to recoup some of the costs. Now we are seeing why, his poor reputation aside, all the publishers that Chris Roberts pitched this game (using a different name, starting with his attempts to use Wing Commander), to, just rejected it.
- The last patch for the game was 2.6.3 released in April 7th 2017. As I type this, there are over 3000+ bugs logged on their website for that build. Some of those bugs have been in there since as far back as the first hangar module release in 2013.
Finally, a LOT has been written about this train wreck, so if you haven’t been keeping up, there is no way you are going to actually grasp the gravity of the situation that the project is now in. However, even if you don’t read my rather extensive Star Citizen blogs, at the very least, please read these updates as a sort of primer. 07-29-2017, 07-08-2017 , 05-26-2017 , 04-18-2017 , 12-13-2016
STAR CITIZEN GC2017 BLOOPERS (A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS)
GAMESCOM 2017 – THE EPIC DISASTER
When we found out that Twitch and YouTube streamers at the show were going to be playing the buggy and performance hog that is pre-release 3.0, instead of the current 2.6.3 build (which wasn’t even played at the show btw), most of us “in the know” weren’t at all surprised. However, what was surprising was that it wasn’t even the current “state image” of the build. Instead CIG and their streamers were playing a stripped down version of 3.0. That build had a single moon with two outposts (non-interactive), two ground vehicles, two ships – and no game loop. In fact, not only was there no connection to the persistent universe as far as “space” was concerned, but it was just a standard CryEngine level in which any concept of “space” was just the empty area around (think sphere in a Black box) the level itself. And they had to reset it every 10 to 15 minutes. CIG made several statements indicating that they had deliberately disabled certain functionality, and that the full 3.0 build would be seen being played during Chris’s presentation.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, while all of that was going on, Chris announced in an interview with GameStar.de that Squadron 42 wasn’t being shown or played, thus confirming what sources had already told me that it was now scheduled for a 2018 release. And he never once mentioned it during his presentation.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) BROUGHT YOU THIS
GAMESCOM 2017 – CHRIS ROBERTS STAR CITIZEN PRESENTATION
Though the 3.0 hype had somewhat died down due to what had previously been seen during the streaming of the scaled down version, there was still some hope that backers were going to at least see the features touted for this release. Sure, as a pre-alpha game in development, bugs and performance issues are expected. But when you’re looking at a six year project that has raised $156M (at the time), you tend to expect to see some progress. For all intent and purposes, there seems to have been very little progress made between the 2016 presentation and this one.
This time Chris didn’t even bother to do slides of the 3.0 roadmap as he had done last year, and he said this right off the bat. However, he did bring slides showing the work that was being planned/done by Turbulent. This includes a new game launcher, patcher, and some VOIP stuff. All the things that you can get in lots of third-party software already.
He then declared that they were going to be playing 3.0 live. Here’s the thing, Chris wasn’t playing the game. In fact, except for that one time which ended in a complete disaster, backers have never – ever – seen him play his own game in any meaningful fashion. What he does is “direct” his team playing the game. And he got to do this again, complete with scripted role-playing dialog. And no, I didn’t make that last part up.
While some may be OK with the fact that “they played 3.0 live”, what’s lost in translation is that, yet again, this was a build created specifically (UPDATE: This was proven to be the case merely days later) for this show. Like all the others before it. He has pulled this same stunt, year after year at both GamesCom (Aug) and CitizenCon (Oct) which are their peak fundraising events. If this was a build that was meant to be played for people to experience it unfiltered, they would have been playing it during the live stream. Instead, they came to the show with two builds. One for the live stream, and the other for his presentation. Now you have to wonder which of these two builds is the one being worked on, and now said to be coming out in early October.
Anyway, the “presentation” build was supposed to be of a single mission loop meant to show backers some of the progress in various areas of the project. Nothing more than a cookie-cutter quest mission. Start game, go meet a guy (who apparently doesn’t have email or a comms device) at a bar about a job. The job? Go get a Red box somewhere on a barren moon, put it on a ship, and deliver it to another moon. I shit you not. That’s it. All of it.
And it DIDN’T WORK!
So how did it all go so very wrong? Oh God, where to begin? Just look at the blooper reel to see how it all went down. But basically everything completely fell apart right from the start.
- The NPC quest giver, Miles Eckhart, was only visible to one client. The others had to pretend he was there. They knew where he would be anyway, so there’s that. But since we could see split-screen, they got busted on this part. At that point, me and my Goon army were rolling because we knew that the disaster was already off to a great start.
- The Red box was invisible to the person who picked it up, and it could only be seen by the others. This issue, and others later (e.g. the girl driving the Rover couldn’t see the attacking fighters), made it clear that the mission quest itself was basically single player, and hadn’t been created to work in a multi-player environment. Basically the other clients were supporting actors in Chris’s elaborate movie production designed to mislead backers.
- The rover chassis and wheels, being separate entities, were moving incorrectly (e.g. the wheels were animated moving backwards). This aside from the fact that being handled separately and incorrectly is what caused the disaster on the ramp later on.
- The game crashed when the Constellation ship left the moon and jumped through space to the other moon. Then, get this, they had to restart the whole thing from scratch, then do a speed run through. Seriously, it was hilarious.
- Then later on, the rail gun used from the back of the rover, missed the fighter it was firing at, and so they couldn’t destroy it as part of the scenario. So that CIG player faked his own destruction with a “suicide” instead. We even got to see them executing console cheat commands during the stream!
- Because the math for slopes is hard, and due to how they had chosen to hack together a working vehicle controller from the CryEngine base version, it was no surprise that when they attempted to drive the rover up the ramp and onto the Idris docking bay, it fell through the ramp – and exploded. At this point, we’d completely lost it. I was shocked to be honest. Such a fundamental thing wasn’t actually working. It was just so embarrassing.
- As if the Idris (it’s supposedly a capital ship) appearing wasn’t hype enough, the most amazing thing was just how lackluster the space combat was. The current flight model is pure rubbish, and we already know this because it’s been a major bane of contention since Arena Commander was first released back in June 2014, and it didn’t get much better. However granted that the Idris is a fine ship (it’s not currently playable btw), the landing on the moon, while ganky, had the wow (which the exploding rover ultimately killed) factor, the space combat portion completely ruined it. It was horrific, uninspiring for a capital ship combat – and ran at about 10 fps. If nothing else, this just served as yet another reminder that when you focus on “visual fidelity” and forgot about the “game” part of a project, you’re bound to run into serious issues down the road.
- And when they played it a second time, they got busted when Chris was told that unless a player got the rail gun from the store, the script would break.
And not only did they fail the mission, the success/fail resolution loop didn’t even close. And they attempted it twice – and still couldn’t complete it.
One person said it best:
“Their MMO, which has been in development since 2011 (f*ck you Chris and your “full production” bullshit), can’t handle the pilot of a
multicrew vessel disconnecting from the rest of the party. Their MMO doesn’t have AI, and required a full crew of people to fake a
mission experience. Their MMO couldn’t handle a rover driving on to a ramp without exploding, or feature two large ships fighting without
turning into a slide show. Their MMO is so poorly programmed that they had to script a ship exploding when it got shot. Their MMO is shit.
Their MMO is being designed by a “visionary” who, given a year to develop a vignette to show off his dream for gameplay, could only come up
with a shitty fetch quest. A visionary who is more concerned about marketing VOIP and some shitty webcam over producing any kind of gameplay.
A visionary who believes things done a decade ago are somehow novel or interesting. Their MMO is being designed by an idiot.
Their MMO isn’t a MMO. It’s a case study in poor design practices, the perils of shitty oversight, the gullibility of gamer, and the myth of
the “Great Man” game developer. It’s a condemnation of Chris Roberts and irrefutable proof that he is a fraud who is better at spending money
than designing games.“
TWO CLIENTS. ONE MILES ECKHART. MUCH HILARITY
The only AI entities in this entire production, were at the starting base. All exhibiting various issues ranging from collision issues, animations that fail to trigger, pathfinding issues etc. He even claimed that there would be hundreds of NPC entities at these bases, all going about their daily routines on a schedule etc.
As I wrote here, having spent over three decades developing games, and which entails writing game scripts for both single and multiplayer sessions, there is no way on this God’s Earth, that this basic quest mission could ever have worked in a multiplayer environment as designed. Like – at all. So once again, Chris came to a show with a carefully made demo that backers aren’t likely to be playing as shown. Sure there’s probably going to be gameplay elements such as driving on moons and planetoids – which I’ve written (1, 2) extensively about in July (back when it was obvious that they couldn’t do entire planets), as well as the new Mobiglass and other things shown. But if a very basic quest like this is not only flat-out broken, but didn’t even portray 3.0 in a good light, why does anyone think that 3.0, if it ever gets released as promised, is going to fare any better than the disastrous 2.0 did back in Dec 2015? Let alone have any such missions in it?
That’s not all, we all saw the performance issues which various sources had told me about, and which I’d discussed these past months. This Idris ship, is a frigate (which for some reason they’re now calling a capital ship) class. Having seen the performance when even one of them is in a scene, let alone two, who here believes that they’re ever going to be able to put in ships of this size in the game? Here, take a look a the ship chart updated for GC2017 and be the judge. The Idris, which is missing btw, would be in the lower left under Aegis. You can see its size comparison in this ship cross-section image. Now look at Chris’s reaction, and listen to his statements about those ships, performance, crash etc.
And given the prices of all the assets lost in this single awful mission, with the loss of the Ursa rover, the Constellation ship, the Cutlass fighters, the Idris capital ship and the missiles it fires ($10 each btw), we calculate that a bunch of fools going on this mission would have lost about $2,500 (real money!) to retrieve a Red box on a distant barren rock. That’s on each play through if they fail. LMAO!! Welcome to Star Citizen. Please buy LTI.
6 YEARS + $156 MILLION + 500 PEOPLE (PAST & PRESENT) ALSO BROUGHT YOU THIS
Amid this furor, and in between crashes, restarts, and an embarrassing display of incompetence and waste, Chris then decided to unveil the latest “new” middleware technology. This time they showcased Faceware, a gaming gimmick that has been around since 2012 when Everquest (1, 2) was tooling around with it. Of course that went nowhere; and as far as we know, nobody is actually using it. Oh, and Facerig, a similar tool which works with every webcam, has been on Steam since 2015 for $15.
But here’s the thing. This Faceware nonsense – which looks like crap in the game – was just part of the feature creep that goes as far back as Sept 2013 when it was first shown on one of the Star Citizen broadcasts. Only this time, obviously with financial incentives attached, there is now a Star Citizen branded camera peripheral being sold along with it. And like all his previously failed partnerships, including the one with Madcatz (who he decided to badmouth during the stream btw) for a joystick/keyboard combo, this is yet another opportunity to spend resources on something that has zero benefit or pertinence to the game that was pitched back in 2012. Furthermore, considering the fact that the networking remains the game’s primary underlying issue, now they’re going to add FOIP (Face Over IP), in addition to VOIP, to their network packets for an engine which, as seen in this presentation, still has serious problems with even LAN play, let alone Internet. OK then.
And these clowns can’t get a simple vehicle to drive up a ramp. After six years. And $156M.
If you think my summary was hyperbole, well, here it is, broken down to brass tacks by someone else:
- Began with a 45min delay + 3 or 4 commercials for chariots
- New features (facial recognition, voice stuff) introduced then promptly revealed to be coming after 3.0, not with it
- After warping to the quest destination, the pilot’s client crashed. The other two players were still in the ship but couldn’t interact with it
- After 10 minutes of awkward troubleshooting they eventually had to restart. Cue another 15-20 minutes of mostly silence and long shots of a black room and an increasingly angry Chris as the demo is rebooted
- Because the demo was nearly 100% scripted, they had to do everything all over again leading up to the warp crash
- this included the world’s worst RP of all time. yes, they still repeated the RP in the 2nd attempt
- They get to the planet. it’s janky. a ton of pop-in and missing models. We all begin to notice that the lighting / colors for each player (they keep switching cameras) is completely different. It’s suggested that even the time of day for players is different
- They find the quest object – a ship’s black box which turned out to be a red cube that was just laying in a random spot on the floor
- Then they were ambushed, surprising nobody
- They shot the bad guy’s ship out of the air from their moon rover, but they clearly weren’t even aiming at the guy and it was a really embarrassing moment of scripting
- An Idris comes to save them, and jitter-janks its way to the surface. It extends a ramp for the rover to climb, and the entire thread knew at once it was going to end in disaster. It did. After many failed attempts the rover clipped through the ramp and exploded. The wheels literally fell off and rolled toward the camera, and I very nearly blacked out in laughter
- Also the red black box was aboard the rover but nobody acknowledged the mission was a failure
- Sometime after this we cut to a commercial for an RSI-branded webcam. Lots of scare tactics to make you think your existing webcam lacks the horsepower to handle Star Citizen’s new facial stuff
- Later, the Idris goes to space and is ambushed a 2nd time, surprising nobody for a 2nd time
- An epic space battle ensues as two goliaths fight through 6-7fps space and jitter-jank into one another. One explodes
- It’s the end of the demo. Chris then has a sudden and definitely not scripted idea – let’s let the goliaths fight again, but this time the bad guy could win!
- It’s another 20 minutes waiting for the really obviously fake and scripted demo to spin up. It’s awkward silence. Sandi wanders on stage in her weird clown outfit to give Chris a rum and coke
- The epic space battle begins anew. I cannot notice a single difference, other than a fighter bounces off the hull of the Idris like a Loony Toons cartoon, and the idris rams the bad guy who explodes in 6-7fps fashion. More jitter-jank
- Then Chris ends the presentation prematurely before being reminded that the employees are coming out to say goodbye. He asks them to take a bow. They do so. that’s it.
YEAH, THEY FAKED IT LAST YEAR TOO
But through all this, they did manage to unveil a new commercial (seriously, that’s a thing) for a $400 concept (it’s a JPEG) ship, the 600i. But then – get this – they started charging backers to name their ship if they started buying with cash instead of credit or gifts. As of this writing, though their fundraising for this show is tracking poorly, they did manage to raise about $1M from a group of about 2K backers. Seriously. Aside from the fact that we know the funding chart is bogus (though we don’t know to what extent), most of us remain convinced that there are people using this project to launder money, as there is simply no other reasonable explanation because it makes no sense whatsoever.
Oh but get this. Then during the show, they quietly changed the projected 3.0 release date from early Sept to early October. Though this backer claims (I urge you to read his rather lengthy indictment. update: CIG mods eventually locked the thread) to have asked for a refund because of that, I’m guessing that the GC2017 presentation was a major part in that decision.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS, AND YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE LEMONADE
GAME OVER MAN, GAME OVER!
This was the first public showing of the much anticipated 3.0 build, and it was a complete disaster. Not only has hardly any progress been made since the last time 3.0 was showcased a year ago, but by my calculation, over 93% of the items they claim are coming in 3.0 and which are “completed”, were NOT shown in this build.
At this point, with the next big show, CitizenCon 2017 coming up on Oct 27th in Germany, assuming something called 3.0 is released before or after the show, my guess is that Chris may trot out a commercial or even a scripted demo of Squadron 42 because he has now completely burned 3.0 to the ground.
Chris has dug a hole he can’t hope to crawl out of and this “game” is never – ever – coming out. And now that he has spent all of the money, and barely on reserves, even as he takes out loans, and comes up with new and inventive ways to continue fleecing backer whales, the next part of this fiasco is going to be how he plans on making cuts without causing panic and spooking the remaining backer whales still funding this dumpster fire. Whatever he does, no matter how he does it, one thing is certain, it’s going to be another hilarious disaster.
UPDATE 2: Eurogamer published an interview Chris Roberts gave at GamesCom 2017. It’s an eye-opening read which contains ample evidence of what I’ve stated that they can’t develop the game promised, and that they were in fact going to dump 3.0 as a Minimal Viable Product. I covered this extensively in various blogs. To recap his statements from April 18th, 2016:
“…and, awh, wuh… we’ll have what will sort of determine a sort of… MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT FEATURE LIST for what you would call STAR CITIZEN the COMMERCIAL RELEASE, which is basically when you say, “OK! Ah, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more COOL STUFF and MORE CONTENT and MORE FUNCTIONALITY and MORE FEATURES”, which by the way includes some of… the LATER STRETCH GOALS we have cos not all of that’s meant to be for ABSOLUTELY RIGHT HERE, on the commercial release…“
I like how he says the public schedule is the same as the internal one. I guess 3.0 did come out in 2016.
I am also thrilled to see that he is still reading my articles because I was the first and only person to leak that the internal and public schedules were different. He’s a liar, a scam artist, and a fraud.
UPDATE 1: I want to take the opportunity to mention that any backer who funded this project after the June 2016 ToS change is NOT entitled to a refund without taking legal action. The only way to enforce a refund, is to take CIG to arbitration (no, you can’t sue them in open court), or get the State (e.g. AG) and Fed (e.g. the FTC) authorities involved (as what happened over a year ago). If they refuse, and you wish to pursue it, the issue is going to be determining whether or not backing on their website, as opposed to an official crowd-funding website (Indiegogo, Kickstarter etc) is a pre-order purchase or a donation. This was tested months ago during the Lily drone fiasco which I wrote about in this blog. Regardless, if you want a refund, there is a Reddit page (look to the right of the page for the steps) specifically for that.
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