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THE GENERATION THAT WILL DELIVER CHRIS ROBERTS’ DREAM
THE NEXT GENERATION OF SHILLIZENS
You know what? I don’t even care about the outrage that you are probably feeling right now. So get over yourself because you’re not important, and this isn’t your safe space. So let’s get to it…
In what can only be attributed to shamelessness and desperation, Chris and Sandi Roberts – the two in a group of the most prolific scam artists this side of Madoff – have finally sunk to a new low. See the image above in the header? Those are their two kids (missing is Chris’s daughter with his ex-wife, Madison) from the latest studio broadcast. Now they are being used as props to sell ships to gullible backers. The kids were first spotted (then and now) in one of the final launch videos (@ 0:37) for the project. Nobody knew any of this until I broke the news in my articles due to their concerted effort to hide nepotism among other things.
Back in 2015 after I wrote the now famous July Blog, sources had confirmed to me that Chris and Sandi were in fact married, and that they were actively concealing it from backers (@ 30:09) etc. I first covered this in a 2015 follow-up blog, Interstellar Justice. Along the way I even got accused of doxing for re-tweeting a post which had a link to their IMDB and modeling profile for Sandi and the kids. That Tweet was part of someone else’s (the group that did research for Chris Roberts Theory Of Everything) research into the Roberts family and how they were actively involved in what appears to be the biggest scam since Madoff. These articles tend to always be well research and extensive. For example, see Kotaku’s 5-part series.
Meanwhile, as soon as this latest video appeared, some of the same backers who were accusing us of all sorts of things, have two Reddit threads – complete with the images of the kids – in an active discussion. It’s as cringe-worthy as you might expect. I have to mention that according to my sources who have access to Sandi’s Facebook account, her children are never featured in it.
For my articles, to go with information from sources, I even hired my own investigators to verify various information because, regardless of merit, nobody likes being sued. e.g. Chris was literally flat broke (I wrote briefly about what he was doing prior) going into Star Citizen, that Sandi had Visa issues (she’s Australian), had later married Chris whom she met when an intern at his previous failed venture (Ascendant Pictures), she has never graduated with a degree from UCLA – let alone two degrees as she had claimed (@18:45 + transcript), that following the crowd-funded windfall they moved out of an apt and into a lavish Pacific Palisades mansion – complete with cook, helpers etc. Trust me, it’s a LOT of stuff, and most of it so personal that I have refrained from sharing them in my articles. This is how scammers operate. They lie. About everything.
Why is any of that relevant? Well, while there have been several articles and govt. action against crowd-funding projects misappropriating backer funds for personal unjust enrichment, being outright scams etc, some would think that digging into the lives of people seen to be actively operating a scam, should be off limits. They are wrong. Especially as it pertains to public figures connected to public and private funding. I even got accused of stalking and harassment. Attorneys got involved and we literally gave them the middle finger and an open challenge to sue me. Chris even went on the rampage and wrote a massive (now removed) diatribe accusing myself and others of various things. Amid the baseless threats, we all just laughed. But alas, much to my chagrin (as I was prepped, poised and waiting to expose them via discovery in any such matters), nothing came of it.
So now, with the Star Citizen project having the dubious distinction of being the biggest crowd-funded project in history, as well as shaping up to be the biggest crowd-funding fraud, they are pulling out the oldest trick in the book. That being, trotting out their kids – again – in a bid to humanize themselves ahead of what’s (trust me, it’s hilarious) coming. And Sandi tried similar crap once before. We all collectively laughed – and moved on.
THE ROBERTS GENERATION – AROUND THE VERSE, 06/28/18 @ 10:52
All aside from the fact that he basically turned the project into a family business in which between his wife, brother, childhood besties here in the US and in the UK, long-time business partner, they have basically squandered backer money, getting rich – while not delivering a single project of any kind. I mean, listen, they used backer money to build a studio (F42-UK) for his brother, then turned around and bought the studio back from him, taking wealth out of the company and project. And sources said they did the same thing – and worse – here in the US. You can read more about that in my article on their 2016 financial disclosure.
If the Theranos fiasco (Feds are involved, and people are headed for prison) is any indication, and which was completely exposed by a brave writer (NYT article), I’ve said it many times before, I remain 100% convinced that someone is going to prison over Star Citizen’s inevitable failure. I know things – so do the Feds. Not to even mention CryTek which is on track to completely expose this crowd-funding scheme for what it is. A LOT is currently happening behind the scenes, and which is yet to be made public; and I can barely contain myself. So I am left with the belief that this latest attempt by them, is a precursor to what’s coming.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF THE DISASTER
It is no big secret that the much delayed 3.0 patch which was released Dec 23, 2017, was an unmitigated disaster before and after the fact. The follow-up 3.1 from Mar 2018 fared no better. And between that time to now, the 3.2 patch having been reduced (lots of things moved out) to barebones functionality, only contains a single feature of importance. A bog-standard mining mechanic that’s as innovative as making an elevator in a video game level actually work in a $190M game.
Mining is a biggie because, just as I had predicted, they are now using it to sell a mining ship, The Prospector, which they sold as JPEG concept back in April 2016. At the time when there was no mining mechanic in the game. They implemented support for the ship in late 2017. Again, with no mining mechanic for it.
But wait! There’s more! As I wrote in this Twitter thread, instead of selling that ship, barely two weeks ago, they unveiled another JPEG concept. For a salvage ship, the Vulture. In a game that has no such salvaging mechanic. As if that wasn’t hilarious enough, it was also a complete rip of a ship in another space combat game, Eve Online. The furor over that one is still on-going as I type this. And it made headlines during a time when a major battle was being waged on Reddit as a whale backer lost faith and bailed.
In this other long Twitter thread, I had described how they actually unveiled an Orion mining platform back in 2015. It came with the most elaborate (it was all bs right from the start) mining mechanic design doc imaginable. And none of that is even in what they have now implemented in 3.2. Instead, they mashed together whatever they could, in order to attain their goal of raising money, not through measly $45 sales of game packages, but through the sale of ships (basically DLC) via RMT (Real Money Transaction). But it’s totally not P2W (Pay To Win) though.
And they even released a new bullshot-ridden trailer to drown out the noise of that fiasco. But naturally, gamers weren’t having any of it. Here’s what Kotaku wrote about that.
And just when you thought the ridiculousness had attained the highest value, you find out that as the Prospector isn’t for sale, very few people would be able to actually test the mining mechanic in the 3.2 build that was put into testing about two weeks ago. So what did CIG do? If you buy a Vulture JPEG, they gave you a Prospector on loan. Seriously. Think about that for a minute. But when I said that they were going to be selling the Prospector as they had no choice, due to the limited demand for the Vulture, some people thought I was kidding. Then it happened yesterday. Ahead of the release of 3.2 which is due out in wide releasing any day now, the Prospector is on sale again for $155.
MINING IN STAR CITIZEN IS AS BOG-STANDARD AND BORING AS YOU IMAGINED
NETWORKING & INSTANCING
Right off the bat, I’m just going to say it : Derek Smart Was Right. Again.
I have been interested in and developing software since I was about 16. By the time I was 24, I had single-handedly designed and developed what was then one of the most ambitious and complex space and planetary video games of all time. At the time I started, I knew nothing about video game development, let alone specific programming disciplines. But I learned it – all of it – because I wanted to complete what I had started. It was a life-long dream of mine. And so, now at retirement age, though I have had various career changes, I still found a way to keep doing what I love. By the time Battlecruiser 3000AD was released by its publisher in 1996, while still in late Beta stage, it was still heralded as one of the most complex and ambitious games for its time. It was buggy as hell, had a manual that made grown men weep, and wasn’t immediately intuitive. But by that time, nobody had dared to even try anything like that. As I explained in this blog and in this extensive podcast, because I was new on the scene, people made fun of me, vilified me, attacked me etc. All because I dared to dream and try something nobody else had before that time. The rest of that historical time has all the makings of an urban legend.
My point? I know the genre, and I know the technological aspects of designing games for it, inside and out. I have designed and built entire games and engines, working on various disciplines (logic, AI, graphics, UI, scripting, networking, physics etc – all of what you HAVE to know to build a game of any kind) which would otherwise require entire teams of specialists for each discipline. While my games don’t – and never did – cater to the masses, they did what I said they would; and so like-minded gamers kept buying them over the decades that I’ve been doing this.
Not until Elite Dangerous (which, at less than $20M to make, has now set the bar so high, that it has pulled ahead of the competition by decades) which went into crowd-funding in 2012, and released in 2014 as promised, was anything close ever attempted. As I mentioned in the July Blog, it had its own share of problems, and it didn’t even have 50% of the feature set (e.g. first person, AI based capital ship crew mechanics, planetary access etc) of my game. Nor did it need to because those guys, including David Braben, who designed and developed it, know the limitations of technology, expertise, and the tolerance limits of gamers. As some of you reading this probably know, in 2013 due to previous attempts by David to re-make the classic, I was very skeptical that they would ever deliver as promised. And I didn’t even back it at that time. I bought it shortly before official release.
“Chris Roberts’ Star Citizen needs your money to get more money, and promises everything to get it.
This is the sort of ambitious, large scale space title PC gamers have been dreaming about, and Roberts has some tech demos and videos to show how much work he has finished already. Of course, for all this to happen, he needs your money.
Why that’s a bad bet” – Ben Kuchera, Oct 2012
In Oct 2012, Chris Roberts promised a base space combat game which would combine elements of Wing Commander and Freelancer. Then gamers threw money at him. By the time he had increased the scope and raised $65M in Nov 2014 (the same month he had promised to ship both games), he had basically promised every feature that ever appeared in a space/planetary combat game – and then some. As of this writing, approaching 6 years and almost $190M (of other peoples money) later, he hasn’t even made the basic Wing Commander game, let alone anything resembling the excellence that is Elite Dangerous, nor the ubiquitous time-sink that is Eve Online (a game released in 2003). But he’s totally making an MMO.
Which brings me to the point of this.
When it comes to this genre and these games, I know precisely what I am talking about. There is no piece of game development technology ever written that I am not either familiar with or for which I don’t have a practical working knowledge of. By all accounts, the chances of an MMO ever coming from Star Citizen are so low (I was dare say non-existent), that I don’t think even the most staunch backer has any hopes in that particular promise.
SURE YOU CAN GET 50 CLIENTS INTO A PRIVATE SERVER INSTANCE. AS LONG AS YOU’RE NOT INTENDING ON ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME
In terms of instancing and networking technologies, since 2016, I have written various articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) explaining, both in layman and technical terms, why they simply can’t build the game, let alone the world, as he has been pitching since he increased the scope in 2014. The core of any MMO, boils down to three things: 1) networking 2) instancing | open world 3) in-game monetization
Let’s start with this Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing article which Chris wrote back in Nov 2012, at the height of the hype. As of this writing, everything he wrote and promised for Star Citizen in that article has turned out to be pure bs. Don’t get me wrong; as a software developer, during development we tend to add and remove things, while revising others to a degree that may end up being radically different from the original design. But what’s different in the case of Star Citizen is that the game is crowd-funded, and backers were promised one thing, paid for that thing, and are getting something completely and totally different. For the same money they paid. And in some cases, what they got is vastly inferior to what they were expecting. Meanwhile, the execs at the head of the project are using every trick in the book to get rich from the project, under the pretext of making a pair of games.
STAR CITIZEN – A BRIEF HISTORY OF LYING
After making so many promises over the years, changing them, denying them, revising them etc, a new interview with VentureBeat (the same publication that recently wrote this hilarious gem) has another shocking eye-opening statement by Erin, which – again – provides conclusive evidence that I was right in everything that I had written about their networking and instancing implementation. So now, 6 years into the project, we’ve come full circle in the game’s underlying design.
GamesBeat: Where are you now as far as how many people can be accommodated in the alpha? Is that going to change? Are you in the hundreds or thousands of players?
Roberts: In terms of an instance, right now we can put about 50 players in an instance. That will go up, but the final plan is obviously once we get the server meshing in — that won’t be this year, but that will be coming in next year — that will allow everyone to play in one huge instance with all the players. The servers will patch people from place to place. You can have 200 people in a room, and when they leave that room, another server takes over. When they take off into space, another server takes over. But the goal is to have everyone in the same instance.
Right now, as I say, we’re at about 50. We’ll probably get up to about 100-odd once we get the unconstrained streaming stuff in later this year. But right now, as far as the concurrency of players together, we have thousands of players who are in the game all the time.
Does that sound familiar at all? Yes, that’s because he made those same claims (10FTC-053, 10FTC-081, PCG Interview-2016) over three years in a row. And now they’ve come full circle and said they’re going to do it precisely as I had said they would have to. And it’s not even close to how Elite Dangerous does it; and which is the only way to implement a multiplayer (btw ED is not an MMO) game of that scope and scale.
With the upcoming 3.2 release, the server still falls over with more than 8 clients, adding 50 clients is as theoretical as that time when Planetside2 won a world record for the number of simultaneous clients on a server. It was unplayable – but that wasn’t the point of setting that record. Similarly, Star Citizen is still unplayable with more than 16 clients. This recent 3.2 video from a few days ago, shows the results of such a test to get 50 clients into an instance. And this was a private instance btw. The session chat log was all kinds of hilarious.
Remember that time, a little over a year ago, when sources told me that the internal dev schedule goes all the way to 2021? And then they suddenly changed the format of the public version again, and showed a timeline to Q4/18 which isn’t even 50% of the game promised? Right. So now he’s also confirmed that Star Citizen (let alone Squadron 42) isn’t going to be completed in 2018.
Here is another example from 2.5 years ago. On Nov 25th, 2015, Chris led backers to believe that the features which didn’t show up in the game until years later, were actually in the game – and working.
“Just great to go seamlessly from foot to your ship, Quantum travel, land,, explore another station, get in a gun fight, return back to base”
STATE OF DEV. WHERE IS SQUADRON 42?
They still haven’t released the road map promised last year. Sources say work on the project has stalled since late last year.
NO SQUADRON 42 IN 2018
In that same broadcast, there were so many revelations – mostly of defeat and that I was right about the project – that you have to watch the whole thing to fully grasp the gravity of it all. Some highlights :
- No SQ42 in 2018. No roadmap either
- SQ42 is too big and ambitious, and probably shouldn’t have been made
- 500 people working on Star Citizen & Squadron 42 across 4.5 studios
- Only have enough people to focus on about 10 different things at any time
- They don’t have enough people working on tools
- They only have 3 AI programmers; and the AI for FPS characters won’t appear until next year – probably
- The project is a bit of a mess; Chris says he’s an optimist and bad at judging time schedules
- There was not enough “game” prior to 3.0 (released in Dec 2017)
- Chris isn’t happy with the first iteration of SQ42
- Still fixing IFCS (flight dynamics model) even though John Pritchett*, Ph.D, the lead who since 2013, has been working on that, the physics etc, just announced his exit from the project
- 3.3 is bigger than 3.0, but they are prepared to drop things out of 3.3 as-needed
- No idea when capital ships (e.g. Idris) will appear in the game as this relies on Object Container Streaming. Also they can’t yet LOD them properly
* This is a devastating loss for Star Citizen. Now that this critical and important system, which was done by a seasoned and experienced dev since 2013, has been handed off to an inexperienced junior dev, Dave Colson, who has zero experience in that field, they are going to either leave the flight model (IFCS) as-is, or scrap it and start over. Read more in my Twitter thread on this subject.
Chris also basically said that the project, 6 years and $190M later, is “a bit of a mess“. And this statement below @ 55:41 is completely astonishing.
“I’m over like being blamed for being optimistic, over promising, and you know, people feeling like I lied to them because totally that’s not my intention. I am on optimist by nature; you can’t be a game designer and try to do things at this level without being totally optimistic, because otherwise you just can’t start the journey. And I would say that, you know, most creators tend to be optimists. You generally won’t find a pessimist that’s a creative type because you kinda have to be optimistic to do that. So, I am not the best person estimating my time or other people’s time because I always feel like I could do it quicker than ultimately it would be. So there you go; I absolve myself of that, and then let the other people who are maybe a bit more realistic or pessimistic do that.” – Chris Roberts, RtV June 29, 2018
In April 2017 when they unveiled the second generation (I wrote about that here) of the dev schedule, less than a year following the first generation, I later wrote an article in which I pointed out that sources told me it was pure bs – and that it goes way beyond 2021. They later scrapped it again, and released a third generation format. In late 2016 when he was also lying to backers about the state of the project, while claiming that 3.0 was coming later that year, I also wrote that sources said it literally did NOT even exist. That build wasn’t released until Dec 23, 2017 – and it was completely broken.
MEANWHILE IN SPACE COURT
As I had predicted as far back as 2016, it has finally dawned on backers that since the release of 3.0 in Dec 2017, refunds outside the 14 day period, are no longer a thing. And while I can’t think of any circumstance under which any backer will succeed in taking a lawsuit (let alone a class action) to trial, given the arbitration clause in the Terms Of Service, one brave soul has decided to try. He has filed legal action in CA small claims court (Docket # 18SMSC01860) for his $4,500 refund. You can track his progress on Reddit.
While I have no confidence (neither does OldSchoolCmdr) that he will prevail, if CIG doesn’t defend (they will) this, and they lose by default, it will cause them serious problems down the road because it will just set a precedent and open the flood gates for similar small claims legal action. My guess is that they are going to answer, then file a motion to dismiss due to the arbitration clause in the TOS. If that happens, then he will have to re-file an arbitration case where they are likely to win since it tends to favor corporations. If he goes that far, it will be interesting to see their arguments. CIG is going to have to convince the arbitrator that they have somehow satisfied their obligations to him, and delivered a product. Aside from them having to make that whole “it’s crowd-funding” argument. It’s going to be several shades of hilarious – and I can’t wait. Since 2015 as I was tracking their various TOS changes, I had said that they were doing it in order to rip backers off by walking back various promises (refunds, financial accountability etc). Here we are. A similar lawsuit in NJ failed earlier this year.
However, the numerous posts on Reddit and on the official forums about refunds being refused, don’t seem to have deterred this $10K backer whale from putting in for a refund either.
From the posts there, it also appears as if CIG is no longer outright refusing refunds for those outside the 14 day period. Instead, they are sending out auto-responder emails claiming that the cases are being assigned to a “specialist” – which no backer believes actually exists. They’ve been doing this since January. It’s now June.
The development Ponzi scheme is on the rapid decline, and unlike my 90 day to collapse prediction (based on info at the time) which didn’t happen in 2015 because backers kept spite pledging just so I would be wrong, there is no escaping this time. The E.L.E is in full swing.
Previously: STAR CITIZEN – THE E.L.E IS REAL
ALL THAT GLITTERS…IS PROBABLY FINE POLISHED BRASS
The only backers who haven’t yet come to the conclusion that the project is doomed, are the 2000 or so whales who keep giving them money. In my previous article from last month, I explained the current state of the game and the community in some detail. Not much has changed – except that, as I wrote, CIG is pulling out all the stops in their bid to continue fleecing their remaining backers for new money.
Since I wrote that April article, they have come up with yet another concept sale – for a ship (Hercules starliner transport) that was never even in the game. So, as they continue to find ways to raise money, they also continue to increase the scope of the game because those ship assets have to be built, implemented, tested etc. Heck, they have ships they sold as far back as 2014 and which are still not even in the game!
For example, the MISC Reliant which went on sale in May 2015 – three years ago this month. So far, only one variant (the barebones Kore) has made it into the game in the 2.5 patch (Aug 2016). And they raised over $250K within 48hrs of that sale. But those were the heydays.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the Idris was announced back in 2012. The M variant was added to the Kickstarter, then later the P variant. Still not in the game either. Not only that, as far back as Mar 7th 2016, in a 10 For The Chairman episode, Chris claimed that it was complete. He specifically said “For instance you know we… ah… you know… HAVEN’T SHOWN IT YET, but you know we have an IDRIS FLYING AROUND and you can land inside it and take off inside it and, em, walk around it and it’s pretty cool so um, ah, that was sort of the higher priority and we’ve still got some stuff to do on the bigger ships” It’s since been removed from the development schedule. Go figure.
It gets worse.
This time around, as I explained in these Twitter threads (1, 2) back when it happened, they also rolled back how war bonds are used in buying ships. In case you were wondering what that was, it’s basically marketing speak for new money. The way it works now is that, regardless of how much money you have in credits, or even by melting (1, 2) old ships for new ones, you can no longer use those credits for new concept sales. What tends to happen is that some backers would buy several ships (usually of the same kind) through sales, promos etc, then keep them in their account (of which several backers have multiple accounts). When new things show up for sale, they then melt (convert to credits) the excess, then use those credits to buy new ships and stuff. They also would sell them on the Star Citizen grey market (Reddit, eBay, Amazon etc). No new money for CIG. Yes, they’re basically trading JPEGs. And the tribe were pretty vocal (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about this change; even though it only affected a subset of backers, mostly those profiting from it either via RMT or good old fashioned money laundering the Star Citizen way.
Looking at the funding chart, it’s clear to see why CIG would now be doing this and other things in order to bring in new money. Aside from the fact that they are now holding sales and JPEG concept sales merely weeks (not months) apart.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, within the last 48 hrs, they have also revised how the Buy Back system works. So for those who have also been hoarding items in their inventory, this somewhat subtle change means that something you melted at one price, you would buy back at a higher price down the road. And of course, anything you upgraded a ship with, if you then go back and bought that ship, none of those upgrades will be on it. So if you melted a $500 item which includes upgrades, you could possibly end up spending a lot more than $500 to get the same item and upgrades down the road. Yeah.
Oh, and barely a week ago, they tried to sucker the community into doing video tutorials for their own game. I kid you not. The derision from the backers was swift and hilarious.
“Really? The game isnt finished IFCS isnt sorted, ESP dont work finish the game first maybe b4 tutorials. You have over 500 employees and you want the community to do your work for some digital prizes that will be free in game eventually? So in a way this is work for free. Why not commission some of the current content creators who already have made some tutorials over the many years and pay them a good amount of money (Pay your artists).. BoredgamerUK, Noobifier1337, STLyoungblood and several others. This is a joke in my opinion and i know many people will be praising this as engaging with the community, not a fan myself.” – A disgruntled backer
They announced this in January, and most of us were shaking our heads as to why a crowd-funded company would charge their whale backers $350 a head, to come visit a studio they funded and literally built. I think any similar company would just issue 60 tickets in a raffle, and host their whales for free. But it’s all a money grab for something that probably cost them about $50 per head. Not to mention the benefits of assuring those 60 attending disciples to go forth and preach to the masses that the sky isn’t falling. Despite the fact that they’re so f*cked, that I don’t even know where to begin.
“CIG will be charging $350 for this special event which I have to say is quite astonishing. You would think that with the 170+ million in the bank they could invite some of the really high paying backers for a free tour and a meet and greet. What is truly sad is that some backers will likely pay for the ticket and all the costs to get there.” – PC Invasion
Don’t forget that they have the yearly CitizenCon pilgrimage which they use to lie to backers in their on-going bid to continue fleecing them. So those 2018 tickets recently also went on sale; but unlike previous years, have still not sold out. Even though it’s taking place in the US this year.
But don’t worry though, they totally have 2m engaged backers.
If you’re fan of this series by an ex-investor of CIG, then you will LOVE his latest episode above
THE ON-GOING REFUND DEBACLE
Yup, refunds are no more.
If you give CIG money, then try to refund past the 14 days period, you’re not getting it. This is totally a thing, though some backers are actually wasting their time going through the motions. I warned about this repeatedly; all the way back to 2016 as I was routinely tracking all their various TOS changes leading up this moment in late 2017. Between 2016 to 2017, I was tweeting (1, 2, 3) and writing (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) about this very thing, and explaining why I had every reason to believe that they were going to stop issuing refunds once backers could no longer wait for their games, and CIG started running low on funds. The Eurogamer interview given around the time of GamesCom in 2017, was the final sign because that was when – for the first time – Chris started calling the project Early Access. Note that this was also the time when they were hyping what was later to become the worst build release in the entire history of the project: 3.0 (released in Dec 2017).
Once 3.0 was released, that was their Early Access build which they pretty much was referring to as an MVP since late 2016.
In the past few days, they have made various changes to several FAQ pages. The most blatantly revision is the refunds FAQ which now points to (incorrect btw) sections in the latest TOS. It’s basically a direct copy and paste of what they have been sending backers who request refunds. Compare that, to this recent backer email. They didn’t even bother to revise the wording to fit the context of the FAQ.
The merchandise FAQ has also been updated. Considering that they have a LOT of merchandise (including 2012 Kickstarter pledge items) which have NO relation to the game’s completion, that they are now saying they don’t have to ship any merchandise unless the game is “completed”, should be a big fat warning sign. The game is never – ever – getting completed. Ever.
The end result of all this is that CIG is basically now saying that you’re not likely to get your money back.
SQUADRON 42 – THE DEBACLE CONTINUES
In what has to be a bit of an embarrassment, in that same dinner announcement, they again mentioned the Squadron 42 newsletter in which they wanted 250K backers to sign up for in order for every backer to get a free t-shirt. Ready for a laugh? Sure you are…
So, originally when that newsletter sign-up appeared, it used to show the total count of sign-ups. And as seen in the dinner invitation, their goal was for 250K sign-ups so everyone get’s a free t-shirt. They didn’t even come close – even after FOUR months. So what did they do? They fudged it to give a completely different impression and to hide the complete lack of interest by their backers.
When I was checking the site as part of my research for this article, I noticed something odd about the count. Back in Jan when I last saw it, the count was barely 25K. So I consulted with my Goon brethren, and sure enough we discovered that they removed the embarrassing sign-up count and replaced it with the current backer count. As you can see, the May 13, 2018, capture of that page showed the running total of sign-ups. That’s how I had remembered it. So less than a week ago, it was barely 33K sign-ups.
MAY 13, 2018
MAY 18, 2018
And it also looks like they are just plugging in numbers because the count on that page, isn’t dynamically pulled from the backer count on the funding page. Which is why – as of this writing – the Squadron 42 page shows 2027854 recruits, while the funding page shows 2036498 citizens.
Oh and btw, they still haven’t released the promised development roadmap for SQ42. They promised that back in Dec 2017.
STAR MARINE REDUX
Hey, remember back when Star Marine (developed by Illfonic in CO) was a thing, then it wasn’t – then it suddenly appeared again? The State of Colorado has publicly listed their media and film incentives allocation statement. Between 2011 – 2018, they allocated about $17m, of which $3M was earmarked for fiscal year 2015. In that period, CIG got approximately $764K for Illfonic – which was working on Star Marine at the time. That was out of the $3.8m allocated that year by the State.
As we know, Star Marine was released Dec 23rd, 2016 in the 2.6 patch. Apparently, someone told the State that the money was for Star Citizen – and that it was released in 2015. Considering the much publicized fallout over State funds allocation in the 38 Studios fiasco, this has some major implications in the long term. Wait and see. They are also doing the same thing in other States, as well as in the UK where they actually took out a loan with Coutts bank, against their govt. tax credits.
Then this happened in 2017 to the State’s fund.
“However, JBC members on Monday voted to offer the same reduced level of funding in the budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, citing a scathing audit the program received in June that said it’s misspent millions of dollars by giving money to ineligible products and agreeing to pay producers who failed to submit proper paperwork.“
The program was later scrapped in its entirety this fiscal year.
“JBC members voted to offer the same reduced level of funding in the budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, citing a scathing audit the program received in June that said it’s misspent millions of dollars by giving money to ineligible products…The Film Office overpaid one incentive by $36,500, or about 5 percent of the total $764,000 approved amount, in Fiscal Year 2016“
STATE OF THE ON-GOING E.L.E
These past few years, I had referred to the project’s demise based on decisions made by Chris Roberts, as an Extinction Level Event which would play out to its eventual conclusion. The final stage is here. It’s going to be sudden – and it’s going to be brutal. Just wait.
So anyway, a few weeks ago, in a Twitter thread, I hinted at some very serious events playing in the background of the Star Citizen project. Like the Crytek lawsuit (which I knew about for months prior, but couldn’t talk about it until it was filed and I broke the news), I can’t say much about it yet. I have been going back and forth with my attorneys for guidance on what I can|cannot share. Yes, I am a blogger, and like others in media, I get scoops and leaks all the time. But this one is different – and I’m definitely not going to publicly release documents without vetting them or without legal guidance. All I can safely say is this:
According to well-placed sources, CIG is no longer a financial “going concern“. In layman speak, they’ve run out of money to complete the project in any way, shape or form.
I am sure the fact that more and more people are leaving the project probably has nothing to do with the E.L.E. OK sarcasm aside, it’s happening. Even that toxic Ben Lesnick who has been with the project since day one (he was sidelined months ago), and his wife Alexis who was in CS, have recently (a few days ago) left the State completely and heading back to Maryland. Ben (who is a proven and notorious liar) claims that they would be working from home, and commuting (3000 f*cking miles away!) to the office as needed. Yeah, we’re still laughing at that nonsense.
Remember back in March 2013 when Chris Roberts gave a GDC talk in which he claimed (FF to 12:34) that their funding model allows them to allocate 4x more resources to the project, compared to a standard publishing model? Considering that to date they claim (as we have no evidence to support it) to have raised over $185m. That means, six years from the initial Kickstarter campaign, the project has now cost over $740m (!!!) to build. And it’s not even 20% completed.
“Direct PC publishing model allows RSI to put over 4x the resources in game development vs. other costs associated with the traditional box product publishing model” – Chris Roberts, GDC 2013
I am not quite sure how what’s currently playing out with the project is going to affect the Crytek lawsuit (we’re still waiting for the judge’s decision in the MtD), but it’s also interesting to note that recently a discussion came up in which Chris, in yet another 2013 talk, this time at IEEE, referred (in slide 33) to Squadron 42 as a “module” of Star Citizen.
This is interesting to note because it is one of the most significant causes of action in the Crytek lawsuit, in which they claimed that SQ42 was never supposed to be a separate game, but that it was a module just like the others. CIG, in their response, not only denied this, but they also claimed that they did in fact have the rights to develop SQ42 as a separate game if they wanted to.
And that was after they had already gone and pledged SQ42 as a separate game, along with ALL the assets of the F42-UK studio, in order to secure a loan from Coutts bank. That was barely a year ago.
CRYTEK V CIG ET AL
Nothing new since my April report. We’re still waiting for the judge’s ruling on the motion to dismiss which was filed by CIG back in January. You can follow all the developments in this forum thread where I catalog the proceedings. Regardless of how this goes, if CIG fails in their efforts to dismiss the case, and it goes forward without a settlement, we’re looking at damages which will probably eclipse the $14M judgement we saw in the Silicon Knights case against Epic Games back in 2012. And that case, initially filed in 2007, took almost five years to resolve.
“The case began with Silicon Knights suing Epic Games in 2007 for allegedly breaching the companies’ agreement over Unreal Engine 3 licensing. Epic in turn filed a counterclaim, alleging Silicon Knights developed its own engine and games other than Too Human illegally by using Unreal Engine 3“
TOO LATE. YOU’RE NEVER GETTING A REFUND. EVER
Previously: STAR CITIZEN – STATE OF THE FARCE
YUP, PRETTY MUCH
STAR CITIZEN – STATE OF THE FARCE
Much has been written about the road to 3.0 which started in early 2016. According to Chris Roberts – while he was raising money – it was supposed to be coming out by the end of 2016. Backers hung their hat on that, and dug deep into their wallets. As sources had already told me that 3.0 didn’t actually exist, and that they had no idea where the schedule even came from, let alone how on Earth Chris envisioned it coming out by end of year 2016, I just waited to see how far off the mark he was.
He was off by a whole year. Which goes right back to what we were all saying back then. He lied, and used that to raise money from backers. Plain and simple.
In July 2017, I had written an extensive article in which I explained that 3.0 was going to be an absolute mess because they simply didn’t have the tech that would power what they wanted to do. It was long after some sources read that article, that they reached out to tell me that it was even worse than I had written and imagined. Also that if it were to release within 90 days, that it would be a major disaster. I wrote another article highlighting what they had told me about bugs, performance issues etc.
“At Citizen Con we announced that we are moving to a quarterly release schedule that is less feature bound and more focused on regular updates. The release of 3.0 is the first step in that strategy. We could have spent a few more weeks dialing in performance and bugs before going “Live” after we returned from the Holiday break but as most of the company won’t return until the second week of January (as we worked a week deeper into 2017 than we did in 2016) we would then not be going Live until the beginning of February. Considering that for us to hit the Q1 release date we need to be going to Evocati in the middle of February, it would put us in the same situation as this year where we ran late as we were focusing on features versus dates. Going live with 3.0 allows us to merge back into our main development branch, continue the performance and optimization work (which will be a big part of future releases) and deliver it with solid testing for Q1 2018. So while it may be frustrating that there are some performance issues and bugs, 3.0 is a step along the way in the Star Citizen journey that will get better and more polished as we go.” – Chris Roberts, Dec 24, 2017
When it was finally released on Dec 23, 2017, just as sources had said, it turned out to be an astounding disaster – even by any standard for a pre-Alpha product that’s been sold off as a “complete experience” right there on their website. But backers had some new toys, as well as the debut of the much hyped “planetary tech” which sort of dulled the pain of the release which has since been plagued with performance issues, serious crashes – and pretty much everything flat-out broken.
By the end of January, streamers and backers alike were already over the novelty. In fact, last time I checked, streamer and social media engagement over Star Citizen were down by over a whopping 78% in Feb 2018 compared to a year earlier. Aside from the fact that pretty much nothing worked as it should, that it was plagued with horrendous performance, bugs, crashes etc, it finally dawned on some backers that this major milestone showed just how much of a mess things were, and that the road ahead was going to be even tougher.
Remember, they still don’t have a functional, closed, gameplay loop. At all. Not to mention anything that even resembles a vertical slice – of any kind.
Did I mention that 3.0 basically didn’t have over 75% of what was promised as far back as 2016?
75% OF THAT WAS SHIT-CANNED IN THE NEW ROADMAP
Amid the backer meltdown, CIG did what it always does in situations like this. They came up with a totally new plan. This time, in the form of a Trello-like roadmap, which did away with the previous dev schedule format. Note that they started doing these dev schedules back in Nov 2016; almost a year and a half after I asked them – via a legal letter – to provide backers with a schedule in order to track progress. Except, despite them saying that it was their actual internal schedule, sources told me that it was actually nonsense – and that the real internal schedule goes up to and beyond 2021!
Anyway, so this roadmap was their re-imagining of the dev schedule. The caveats section is absolutely hilarious. Taking their caveats way too seriously, by the time 3.1 was released to Evocati (backers deemed to be special snowflakes cuz they paid more) on Mar 8th, they had already moved some of the 3.1 items into 3.2 and beyond.
The feedback from the Evocati test period was amazing and hilarious. Even those die hard guys, the most devout of the devout, couldn’t believe just how broken almost everything was.
Two Weeks (there’s a joke in there btw) later on Mar 21st, ignoring Evocati pleas and comments to hold off on releasing to wide testing, CIG released 3.1 to the Public Test Universe which was open to more backers. And lolz flowed through these lands.
Then, in order to claim that they actually hit (they’ve failed to hit a single deadline in their entire dev history) a milestone release goal, they released 3.1 live on Mar 31st. By that time, over 50% of what was in the Jan 8th version, had been outright removed from the roadmap, or kicked down the road again.
Hilariously, 3.1 live was even more broken than the Evocati builds. Even when some backers on empty servers were claiming that they saw a performance boost (it was all bullshit of course, just like 3.0, as Chris himself confirmed), it wasn’t long before it dawned on everyone that 3.1 was no better than 3.0 before it.
As I wrote in this Twitter thread, it appears to have been specifically rushed out in order to not only meet an arbitrary deadline, but also because they had new ships (e.g. the $400 Reclaimer chariot) to sell, and which had been implemented in that build.
Then, amid backer cries for them to roll back to 3.0, and less than a week after the release, they had to roll back to a previous version. Yes, it was that bad.
Listen, we’re devs and stuff happens during game development, but this is ridiculous. We’re talking about a project that’s now in year seven (depending on who you ask), has crowd-funded over $180m from backers, and has had 500+ people working on it at some point or another. And it’s currently still in pre-Alpha, with no end in sight. Aside from creating many more issues (my metrics show 3 new items for every 1 thing addressed) with each release, there are over 5000 issues currently logged.
If you look at the changelog for 3.0 and 3.1, it should be painfully obvious that it’s years away from anything remotely resembling a final release. My analysis shows that at this rate, and considering everything they have yet to do – assuming they don’t keep cutting things – this project has another +7 years to go. Forget about the 2021 internal schedule. This basically means that it’s pretty much dead. There is a reason that back in 2017, Chris – who raised money to ship two complete games – started touting it as Early Access.
YEAH, WE’RE STILL LAUGHING TOO
BACK TO ROOTS – FIX PLAYER EXPERIENCE FIRST!
As I was going through the official boards, I came across a thread which a Grand Admiral (+$2,500 backer) had created. Normally, since we just laugh at those guys and keep scrolling, this one caught my attention not only because of the responses (notice that attacks at him got more up-votes than reasonable responses) that his post garnered, but because of what he was asking for. From the very first response (an example of the toxic nature of the community), you knew how things were going to go. In fact, that first response, aside from the snide remarks, and totally made up bullshit (see engine code replacement), it is clear that some of the backers are completely clueless. Either that, or they are the same ignorant fools who have enabled CIG to continue perpetrating what many of us now regard as a on-going scam.
Anyway, Let me touch on some of what he was saying as per those three (performance, bugs, experience) issues which, like all game projects, are actually the core of all the issues that currently plague the project.
They’re never – ever – going to be able to fix performance to any reasonable standard. Like ever. I recall when 3.1 was just out and the servers were empty, some idiots where making shit up on-the-fly that it was somehow faster. It wasn’t even 48hrs after it was released, that it dawned on everyone that they didn’t fix shit. It was just another card in the roadmap – marked as complete – which ended up being a placebo effect on some.
Since 2016 CIG has been touting one thing (item 2.0, serialized variables, network bind culling etc) to the next, as they continued to make excuses for performance issues. They literally write about this in various bulletins, while talking about in their shows. I’ve also written several articles (e.g this one from Dec 2017 on why networking fixes aren’t going to solve their overall performance issues) going all the way back to 2016 which laid out clearly why NONE of what CIG was saying, would make a difference. This proved to be true not only in 3.0, but also in 3.1.
What these guys don’t yet realize is that, as 3.0 had shown, it’s only going to get worse as they add more stuff to the game. As a result, there is NO way they’re making an MMO out of this. It’s going to remain a session based game with 64 client (NOTE: the server still dies amid horrid performance above 12 clients) max cap that will continue to suffer with bugs and performance issues.
Remember, they still only have three moons which arrived in 3.0. Imagine what will happen if/when they eventually get all of Stanton (1 system of the 100 promised) built. They now claim that Hurston is coming in 3.3, and ArcCorp in 3.4. So 3 moons in 2017, and 2 planets in 2018. Well, take a look at the game’s world map. I rest my case.
BUGS, BUGS, AND MORE BUGS
There is nothing more to be said about this. Each and every release breaks more things than it fixes. And then some. Sure, after 7 years, the pre-alpha excuse still holds up for some delusional backers; but the fact of the matter is that they are trying to shoe-horn features into a BADLY BROKEN engine framework. Which is why literally everything is broken, incomplete, or in a state of limbo.
Not to mention that amid the Crytek lawsuit, sources have told me that they are frantically running through (which btw Chris claimed in 2016 took all of 2 days to do. I wrote about extensively in Irreconcilable Differences) the port to Lumberyard, as if that’s going to make a difference. What they have right now is a potpourri of CryEngine + Star Engine (their derivative custom version) + Lumberyard (Amazon’s derivative custom version). As a result, I’m completely shocked that they’re having so many issues.
The mission system is broken, interdiction (their excuse for NPC engagements) missions are abysmal, landing on – let alone exploring planets – has issues ranging from ships getting destroyed, crashes, intersecting scene geometry etc. Every single aspect of the “game” is just flat out broken. Not to mention that hardly anyone is playing Arena Commander, let alone Star Marine. And that’s not hyperbole. See the metrics.
For example, what this admiral describes, appears to be a standard bug caused by the fact that the elevator is an entity that’s part of the ship model. Unlike the ship, it knows nothing about the world around it, let alone the terrain. Which is why it can go below it, and one hilarious video shared last week, the elevator can go up into the sky and out of the ship. Considering that they have had elevator related bugs (in ships, bases etc) like this for years now, is testament to the fact that these are considered low priority. Plus, it’s not like there’s an easy fix.
ALL THE CRAP MOVED OUT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL
That the game isn’t even a bleep on streamers anymore, should be a clear indication that only those who haven’t yet claimed a refund, and are stuck in Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance, don’t yet have a clue that the whole thing is FUBAR.
The “flight” model has been broken for years. Each time they try to “fix” it, they somehow manage to make it worse. It doesn’t have as much to do with being an fps engine, as it does it being about physics. It has to do with math and knowledge of flight dynamics (even fake ones in a space game), as well as parameters for each ship. They don’t appear to have anyone who knows wtf they are doing with this. I have written so many flight models in my time, that I pretty much know that it’s not simple, and that it takes LOTS of iterations to get it just “right” for the type of game. But somehow, CIG keeps breaking it. The one core feature of a space combat game.
Ignoring all this, in the first reply, the poster comes up with arbitrary numbers which he pulled right out of his ass – with zero context – while not even addressing what the admiral was talking about the game experience being shit. Yeah, because replacing an engine or making changes, somehow explains a flight model that’s been shit for years now.
It’s interesting that he even talks about “experience”, ignoring the fact that it’s a pre-alpha build of a tech demo proof-of-concept. Nothing is supposed to actually work at this point. So it’s no surprise that something as simple as carting boxes of rubber dog shit from A to B, is fraught with issues. The issues are not related to the missions. They are related to the fact that the engine which the missions and experience rely upon, is badly broken.
It gets better. I had written a Twitter thread in which I was explaining how they now appeared to be using a badly broken build to gouge backers once again. Though the REC system, described by Chris in 2015 was supposed to be for Arena Command only, it had proven popular enough for testing in the main Star Citizen game. This is what he said back then:
“In the Persistent Universe, that will be easy: you’ll earn credits flying missions, locating star systems, hauling goods, hunting bounties and through a dozen other activities. You’ll rapidly explore and expand your universe. But the pilots helping us develop our spaceflight in Arena Commander don’t have that ability… yet!” – Chris Roberts, Feb 13, 2015
Here’s the thing; backers are buying ships which they use in both Arena Commander and Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe). These are modules which, as I pointed out in the above Twitter thread (which includes metrics), hardly anyone is even playing (18-04-12 UPDATE: In the latest 3.1.x patch, they have now disabled BOTH modules!). By playing in AC, they gain REC which they then use to get ships – for free – in the PU. Well, that means CIG doesn’t get to make money because as you can see from the stats in my Twitter thread, some backers are playing AC only to get REC, which they then use in the PU. So even though 3.1 has crashes in which people lose ships, they not only increased the wait times for insurance claims, but they completely removed REC from the PU. The result? Unless you have spare ships – or you buy some – you’re basically screwed. Yeah. That guy who paid $45 for the game which includes a starter ship, is totally going to sit around for 8 hours waiting for a replacement ship.
Not only that, I envision that they are soon going to remove aUEC (alpha currency) in favor of the actual in-game UEC currency which requires real cash. Either that or they introduce real cash to aUEC but at a lower conversion rate to UEC. The end result? Backers are going to continue paying more and more to keep playing their glorified tech demo. And that is the reality of Star Citizen.
It’s pre-Alpha, so NONE of these sort of mechanics should even have these sorts of stats. Want to test insurance claims? Sure, it’s a numerical value. Make it minutes, not hours, and boom – you know it works. Then you increase it to whatever it should be in the final (LOL!!) game release.
YEAH, I’M TOTALLY GOING TO STICK AROUND FOR THAT LONG
I was on an open house stream this past weekend talking about the latest Star Citizen shenanigans. One thing I mentioned is that I simply don’t get why CIG doesn’t just keep two builds running in parallel. They are using cloud servers which can be provisioned for any build they like; so it’s really a no brainer. Doing this allows them to have the live builds (e.g. 3.0.x) running, while also having the bleeding edge next build (e.g. 3.1.x) running on the PTU. Doing this would alleviate the need for rollbacks, as well as all the aggravation they’re getting. Once a build goes live, don’t touch it again. Then once the next build reaches a reasonably solid point, it goes from PTU to live, and the cycle continues.
And no, they won’t have to support two builds because whatever is live, is just a moment-in-time frozen build. Heck, even Valve recognized this need years ago and implemented this very same feature in Steam for those of us who use it to deploy various builds. Doing this allows backers to switch from build to build, and just stick with what they feel comfortable with. Most of us devs have been doing this for YEARS, but somehow the brain trust in charge of a $180m project don’t seem to get simple game dev design and logistics. Heck, they can’t even decide on a schedule format, though that’s got more to do with lying, than it does anything else.
The fact of the matter is that, from the current roadmap, it’s now clear that Star Citizen (still no word on Squadron 42) is completely out of the 2018 release window. Heck, even though they recently revised the roadmap again as they look ahead to 3.2, they appear to have scaled down Chris’s description of how mining would work. What they are now planning reads nothing like what Chris pitched back in Feb, 2015. I can’t wait to see what they release as the first iteration.
A PLEDGE IS NOT THE SAME AS A SALE
This one was so hilarious, I wrote not one, but two Twitter threads (1, 2) about it. Basically the content manager for the project, went on a third-party live stream to claim that it was backers who were referring to their income stream as “sales”. The take-away here is that they’re now heavily pushing the narrative that they’re not selling anything. Why is this important? Well, if they are “pledging” to a crowd-funding project, they have less liabilities – and they don’t have to deliver anything, nor issue refunds. However, as a “sale”, they are bound by consumer protection laws which means that unless and until they deliver what a backer paid for, they are on the hook to issue a refund for any reason, and at any time.
However, as I wrote in yet another long Twitter thread, even as everything is burning to the ground, amid some behind-the-scenes drama that’s about to escalate, they appear to have stopped issuing refunds – completely. On the official refund Reddit are numerous reports of backers waiting months for a response, which usually either comes with a denial of the refund, or a premature closure of the request ticket. I had written back in 2017 that sources had said CIG would stop issuing refunds once 3.0 was released. That seems to explain the coincidence that was the premature end of 2017 release of 3.0, coupled with the denial of refunds (which aren’t within a two week period) starting in 2018.
CRYTEK V CIG ET AL
Since my Star Citizen – The Fall blog this past January about the lawsuit up to that point in time, several important events have happened in this on-going drama. First came the revelation that CIG initiated settlement talks. This flies in the face of people who were claiming that this whole lawsuit was a cash grab by Crytek who was just looking for a payday. Then after Crytek filed for discovery to commence, CIG immediately filed a protective order to delay discovery until the judge ruled on the motion to dismiss – which they stand zero chance of prevailing on.
Below are links to my long Twitter threads (which I tend to use for quick missives) on all events in this matter since my original article. These events all paint a picture that CIG continues to be on the defense as each month goes by; filing motions to not only delay the process, but also using them as opportunities to continue exhibiting completely unprofessional conduct and language. Seriously, they are eye-opening. My summary of the latest (as of this writing) motion (protective order filing) that CIG filed, amounts to this:
1) Please judge, make it stop
2) We don’t know why they’re even suing us
3) We dindo nuffin’
4) CryTek are being meanies
5) And they want to look up our skirts
Regardless, I still believe that, come April 17th (the hearing date on the protective order) not only will their latest motion fail, but the motion to dismiss isn’t going to help them in any way, shape, or form. They’re going to have to go through discovery, which I believe is going to continue being contentious even as they play to their toxic backer base in the way they attack Crytek and their attorneys in the filings. For the rest of us, our main focus in this lawsuit is to see how much Crytek uncovers and which are of material interest to the backers who have given so money to this project, only to be lied to by CIG time and time again. Specifically, where did all this money go?!?
ANOTHER LOFTY PROMISE BITES THE DUST
In what should absolutely come as no surprise (I totally called it – many times in fact) to anyone paying attention to Star Citizen, they’ve now walked back yet another promise related to their handling of multiplayer. So all that ground-breaking stuff they were promising between 2014 to now, is history.
And it’s a biggie – no matter how the devout try to downplay it.
LEAD NETWORK DEVELOPER – FEB 19th, 2018
The above statement on Spectrum, is from Clive Johnson. And it’s not the first time he has stepped out and explained what is going on with the game’s networking. Back in December, I wrote about his previous statements which also caused a bit of a stir with the backer community.
Even though Chris Roberts stated back in 2012 that they were not building an MMO, over the years, after figuring out that the only way to continue ripping off backers was under the premise of building an MMO in which they could fly their chariots, live a virtual life etc – now it’s back to square one.
Is Star Citizen an MMO?
No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience. – October 18, 2012
Let me break it down.
They are now – at this stage – claiming that they are going to be implementing a hybrid method of how Elite Dangerous handles its massive world – in a client-server environment. In other words, back to 2012 promises, based on tech that’s been around since the 1990s. I ran out of lols.
Watch the presentation above on how they built it. Trust me, it’s all kinds of amazing. Do you think those guys didn’t know what they were doing when they decided that a p2p network was the way to go?
Make no mistake, ED is not – and never was – an MMO. And it’s currently the largest space combat MMO in existence. The instances in ED each hosts a group of connected clients. They are in turn connected to and communicating with a master server (and others in the cluster) for things like entitlements, items etc. All world (translation, movement etc) communications between clients, is handled between those clients – not the server. It’s a hybrid peer-to-peer network. They built it this way from the ground up. And they use instances for connecting various areas together. And even when you get a large group of players together, they are all talking to each other instead of requiring a master server. That is completely different from a client-server structure which is what Star Citizen uses. Read Polygon’s Elite: Dangerous’ 3,000-player battle royale article on how this works, as well as the adverse effects of using a p2p hybrid to host a large number of players in a massive world. You can also read Kotaku’s Game Recreates Entire Galaxy, 1,000 Players Determined To Explore It article for another side of the story.
Meanwhile, back in 2012, Chris Roberts wrote an article on multiplayer and networking. Read Chris Roberts on Multiplayer, Single Player and Instancing – it’s amazing. Excerpt:
“In Star Citizen there is going to be one persistent universe server that everyone exists on. So you will never be separated from your friends, and if you want you’ll be able to join up and adventure together, you can. Due to the fidelity of the dogfighting and physics simulation we can’t however handle thousands of players in the same area of space. Even if you had enough internet bandwidth to handle the data going back and forth and a super computer for the server there’s no PC, even with quad SLI that could render that many spaceships with Star Citizen’s fidelity.” – Chris Roberts, Nov 11, 2012
CHRIS ROBERTS – FEB 29, 2016 @ 02:29
The above word salad translates to:
“Q: What type of work is being done to increase the server population capacity? Should we expect to see 24 or 32 player instances in the near future?
A: The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY, I think, ah, if you’ve been watching some of the chatter on the recent, ah, PTU RELEASES, and, ah, you know, what’s gonna be in 2.2… eh, it is, ah, gonna be 24 players, so we’ve been working, ah, ah, HARD on sort of optimizing areas so we can sort of scale more, I think I’ve mentioned before that the, you know, the biggest issue that we have is uhm, uh, just the overhead that the ships have because they’re very complicated, they have multiple… items that have all this functionality, they need to talk to each other over the network… they’re attached to SHIPS, a ship isn’t just one entity you know, in the case of a HORNET it can be fifty or sixty, in the case of a BIGGER ship it’s a lot more than… fifty or sixty, so they’re very heavy, ah, sort of PROCESSING WISE and the SERVER in terms of just SIMULATION and also in… in network, um, sort of TRAFFIC… So, in general, that’s, em, you know, more the limiting… FACTOR which… we’ve been WORKING ON, so we’re… we’re REFACTORING a lot of things to… make it much more, ah, SMART about when it has to UPDATE, ah, and all the other things and that sort of ties into the work that we’ve done in the past on the ZONE SYSTEM, we’re doing sort of a, uh, whatever you wanna call it, a NETWORK LOD and an UPDATE LOD that sort of scopes depending on, you know, whether you can SEE THINGS, how FAR AWAY they are, whether they are ACTIVE, whether it’s another PLAYER, whether it’s relevant to YOU and… so hopefully all that stuff em, you know, helps… increase the load that we can do and we’re doing things like we’re… we’re… you know, pushing more and more into MULTIPLE CORES, more… MULTI-THREADING to, you know, be able to do more… you know… PHYSICS PROCESSING at the same time as we’re doing more sort of entity updating and simulation. So ehm you know, part of the benef… part of the result of that is moving to more players in, eh, CRUSADER, we’ll continue and we’re expecting to continue to sort of push that over time, eh, to get more and more and uh, you know we’re actually working on… some ah, BACK END SERVER MESH TECH uhm, that will allow us to ah, sort of MESH A LOT MORE… players all in essentially what will be kind of sort of the same, ah, INSTANCE, uhm so but that’s sort of ah, you know a LITTLE further along, but, eh, it’s ahh… yeah, I think EXCITING so I think we’ll be able to DELIVER probably more players than we were thinking originally… in concurrent areas… ah… so… when I think, actually there’s a question about that so… I maybe talk a bit more about it then… “
CHRIS ROBERTS – AUG 5, 2016 @ 28:08
“We’re going to have this mesh of servers, so we’ll be able to have – hopefully you know – a large amount of players all in the same area, so we don’t have to instance it in a way that originally we were thinking we were gonna have to instance it; we have a kinda different kind of server design now that could potentially have thousands of players all in the same sort of area – uhm at the same time; which would be really cool cuz that’s something – again – something you could get a while, a year ago or ten years ago, but with sort of the newer tech, the power of machines, uh, the kinda stuff you can do in the cloud, the possibility has sort of opened up, we wanna utilize it.”
TONY ZUROVEK – OCT 13, 2016 @ 20:00
Back when Tony said the above, this was my response:
“Technical issues aside, listen (20:00) to how they plan on handling the networking (currently 75% of what they want to do) for instancing. It’s a load of rubbish – which simply will not work. Especially for this kind of “twitch” style game. That aside from the high cost of cloud instances, bandwidth costs etc. I don’t even know anymore.”
ERIN ROBERTS – FEB 17, 2017
Here is his brother in a 2017 article, The Star Citizen Exclusive Interview: Erin Roberts
“So with the next big release a lot of the underlying game is there and then we can look at transferring people between servers so we can have hundreds of thousands of people maybe in one instance, but that doesn’t come online until later.”
Now, seven years in, and almost $180M raised, these chuckleheads are basically rolling back the clock to 2012. They finally realized they can’t do what they promised, due to how they designed the game, as well as the features they have been touting, while hobbled with a sub-par engine and a woefully inexperienced dev team who have never built anything like this – ever.
And they are still not even 15% of the way to delivering the promises they made. If the latest roadmap schedule update wasn’t a clue that they’re just running through basic check boxes in order to shove as much stuff into the current build engine as possible, well I dunno what to tell you. My Dec 2017 update has more info on this.
So basically, that’s the end of 1000 player instances. Assuming they can solve the performance issues in the game and the networking – which they can’t – they would be lucky to have even 16 clients in an instance. And if they stick around long enough to even manage connecting instances to each other, ask yourself this: How on this God’s Earth are they going to handle restrictions on the massive ships in the game and keeping them from transitioning instances? Imagine two capital ships in instance A, now connecting those players to instance B which also has even more of those. And here you thought they were ever going to solve performance issues. Good luck with the grouping. LOL!!
It’s all a load of rubbish. And I said precisely that in my first Star Citizen blog of July 2015.
“Now imagine a game, in a universe of that size, with populated space and planetary areas, complete with internal areas for stations, buildings, ships etc. And with high visual fidelity, great runtime performance… and multiplayer. Then ask yourself this: “How the heck are we going to build that, let alone get it to actually run? You can’t. And you’re not.
Building games like this, you have to balance visual fidelity with gameplay and scope. You absolutely cannot have it all, and even if you do have it all, something will suffer. Either visual fidelity, or performance.
What this means is that when you see the visual fidelity in games like Star Citizen, you have to wonder how they are going to make a game of this scope, with that level of visual fidelity, in a persistent game world, with multiplayer and expect decent performance results. If you read my dev blogs, you already have an inkling of precisely what goes into building games like this.”
STAR CITIZEN ROADMAP ENTRY
“First iteration of the server meshing technology. With this system, individual servers would be responsible for different locations within the solar system. When operational, players and entities should experience seamless transitions between servers during quantum travel.” – Star Citizen Roadmap – Feb 16, 2018
They keep making promises in order to keep kicking the can down the road in order to get the gullible backers giving them money. The “game”, how ever it turns out by the time the whole thing collapses, will never – ever – be the MMO+ they promised. Not only have they just confirmed it, but they’ve basically also now confirmed that it’s going to remain a session based instanced game, which hopefully they will figure out how to connect instances to each other while retaining all the features the promised. If this was a simple game designed for session based engagements like ED or any arena type game, then yeah – maybe. So for all intent and purposes, you’re going to be stuck in your 16 – 24 instance and hope you’re having fun in your friends or strangers.
LINE OF DEFENSE IS PARTITIONED INTO 13 CONNECTED SCENES
It’s hilarious when I think about it because back when we were designing Line Of Defense, I knew this was going to be a problem. That’s why we designed the network (Wide Span Global) the way that we did, while partitioning the game world with controls that allow us to restrict the number of clients in a scene. And it’s all client-server based. Each client is seamlessly moved from scene to scene by either connecting them to one running on the same server, or on a completely different server. I did a 3.5 hr stream this past weekend in which I toured the 4 planetary scenes. It shows how they are loaded, unloaded, connected etc – all independently.
This is the sort of thing you build from the ground up – and right from the start. You just can’t tack that on at any time. Most especially when using an engine like CryEngine and it’s derivative Lumberyard – neither of which were designed for MMOs (those who tried, found out the hard way).
STANTON SYSTEM. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HOW THEY PARTITION THAT
It’s even more hilarious when you consider that all this time, they have yet to build a SINGLE star system. They’re still screwing around in Stanton.
It’s incredible to me that back in 2015 I said backers were going to be paying for a Gold box, but would end up with a cardboard box – with no lid. Suckers spent $180M on a game which we now know, in the right hands, could have been built for about $20M.
UPDATE (FEB 25, 2018)
Mere days after I wrote this article, CIG released their updated schedule which revealed that they had – once again – pushed network traffic culling, a critical component, from 3.1 into 3.2.
This is something that has been in the schedule since 2016, and was supposed to have been released in the 2.6 build (the first Lumberyard build) back in late 2016. Then it was moved into the 2.6.1 schedule. And again into the 3.0 schedule.
I have written about this particular feature in past (Dec 2017, Oct 2017, Jul 2017) articles. As I’ve written before, CIG is once again just making up bullshit names for standard tech so that it looks like they’re actually inventing new things. And backers get to foolishly think they’re paying for innovation. Whatever it is CIG is wanting to do, here is a 2014 article that explains Network Traffic Culling.
As if on cue, I posted this scoop on Twitter:
“Star Citizen 3.1 was due out end of March. I am hearing that it’s way behind schedule. Also, they can’t get network traffic culling working – at all. So don’t expect it anytime soon – if ever. They also sent out Evocati notice that they may increase it to 2000 invites.”
Less than 24hrs later, Clive Johnson issued this statement on Spectrum:
“We decided it was necessary to push Bind Culling back for the following reasons:
1) Progress has been slower than we had hoped, partly due to taking longer than anticipated to convert the last few places in the code that were using old-style Aspects and RMIs to Serialized Variables and Remote Methods, and then completely strip those legacy systems from the network code. That was a necessary step because we didn’t want to have to implement Bind Culling for both the old and new systems. I’m not embarrassed to tell you there was some dancing and a few air-punches on my part when the last line of that old code was deleted.
2) There wouldn’t have been enough time left before 3.1 for the network and gameplay programmers to deal with the issues we’re expecting the introduction of Bind Culling to cause.
3) Bind Culling would result in clients streaming entities in and out based on distance, but without asynchronous Object Container Streaming it was always a gamble whether the resulting synchronous loading stalls would be worse or better than what players experience now. The plan was to get Bind Culling working, see what the impact on player experience was and then make the call whether to turn it on for 3.1.
4) Range-based Serialized Variable Culling was our backup plan in case Bind Culling didn’t make it into 3.1. You may remember that we were working on SV Culling for 3.0 but that it wasn’t quite ready in time. Well, it was the first thing we tackled when we came back at the start of the year, and has been working in our development branch for several weeks now (not the branch 3.0.1 was taken from). SV Culling already gives us a lot of the performance gain we would expect from Bind Culling so the urgency for the later has dropped significantly.
5) The network team is needed for other tasks that have increased in priority since they were first added to our schedule.”
WE MISSED THE LIES. THEN WE LOST THE FARM
The Crytek lawsuit has revealed a lot of previously unknown things about this project – and there’s a LOT more to come from what I have learned. For one thing, we learned that Crytek – not CIG/F42 – built all the tech demos that they were passing off as the “game prototype”. We also learned that the first iteration of any code base for the game that CIG built, was the hangar module which was released in August 2013. The Arena Commander dogfighting module didn’t appear until June 2014.
So, if you saw this Kickstarter update of Nov 18, 2012, and you were wondering why it looks and plays so differently, it’s because it was – again – created by Crytek as a proof-of-concept tech demo used to inspire confidence and to sell the “game” to backers. Chris and his crew passed it off as the game prototype.
STAR CITIZEN SUPPOSED GAMEPLAY – NOV 18, 2012
“We’d like to share one last gameplay video with you as you make your final upgrade choices. This is a short video of the AI attacking and defending a Bengal carrier. It demonstrates intelligent collision avoidance – a dense asteroid field, other space ships, including a large capital ship plus offensive and defensive roles. Note that this is very early pre-pre Alpha. There was a bug with laser bolt speed in this build and they were incorrectly capped at a very low speed. That is not how they will behave in the game. But we thought the video was awesome enough to show you anyway!” – Kickstarter, Nov 8 2012
If you remembered Chris Roberts claiming that it was the game’s prototype, while claiming that curious (e.g. slow laser shots) things were just bugs, yup, you guessed it – he was lying.
As I’ve said before, the depositions and discovery in the Crytek case are going to be amazing.
ANOTHER SHELL COMPANY SPOTTED
A few days ago, by way of a backer sharing his refund info, we spotted another shell company in Germany. This one appears to be a correction of a previous 2017 one which was named “Robert Space Industries”, instead of “Roberts Space Industries”. This now brings the total to 18 companies across three countries, involved in Star Citizen. Because that’s perfectly normal.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- Cloud Imperium Games Corp
- Cloud Imperium Games LLC
- Cloud Imperium Rights LLC (08-22-17)
- Cloud Imperium, LLC (11-08-17)
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC
- Cloud Imperium Games Texas LLC
- Gemini 42 Entertainment LLC
- Gemini 42 Productions LLC
- Roberts Space Industries Corp
- Roberts Space Industries, LLC CA (11-30-17)
- Twin Brothers Production Inc <– Owned by Ortwin Freyermuth. Has been used in sales & refunds in US & EU
- Cloud Imperium Games UK Limited
- Cloud Imperium Rights UK Limited (08/29/17)
- Foundry 42 Limited
- Roberts Space Industries International Limited
- Roberts Space Industries Germany GMBH
- Foundry 42 <– ex-CryTek engineers hired to setup shop here
- Twin Bros GmBH <– see above
“Star Citizen isn’t a game. It’s a TV show about a bunch of characters making a game. It’s basically This is Spinal Tap except people think the band is real.” – Star Citizen Backer – Feb 10, 2018 (Spectrum post)
SEE THAT GUY ON THE LEFT? HE’S COMING FOR YOUR JPEGS
CRYTEK SUES CIG AND PARENT RSI
After several months of going back and forth, in what was said to be an attempt to hash out an amicable solution, Crytek, the developers CryEngine, says it was left with no option but take legal action against the developers of Star Citizen. The lawsuit was filed on Tue, Dec 12th; and they accepted process of service on Wed, Dec 13th. You can read the full contents at this link. CIG/RSI have 21 days (excluding weekends & holidays) to respond. So we can expect a response on or before Jan 12th, 2018.
Considering the string of shell companies around world, and which are involved in this project, it’s a surprise that they actually found and served on the correct entity.
On a more serious note, Crytek hired one of the top law firms in the US, Skadden. A law firm with so many accolades, that my guess is that Ortwin’s heart probably skipped a beat when he found out who was suing them. Forbes once called them “Wall Street’s Most Powerful Law Firm“. These are the same guys who won a $500M judgement in the Zenimax v Oculus case. They neither take on small cases, nor do they take cases that didn’t have any merits or a chance of them winning.
Anyway, ignoring all the fluff and padding in the complaint, there are two pretty serious allegations in the lawsuit. Those being “IP infringement” and “Breach Of Contract”. Naturally, this being a bunch of incompetent nincompoops, right out of the gate, CIG/RSI gave Crytek what I believe to be Crytek’s first win in the form of their public statement in response to the lawsuit.
“We are aware of the Crytek complaint having been filed in the US District Court. CIG hasn’t used the CryEngine for quite some time since we switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. This is a meritless lawsuit that we will defend vigorously against, including recovering from Crytek any costs incurred in this matter.”
About two days later, Crytek issued their own statement.
“Crytek is a technology company and intellectual property is its greatest asset. It is unfortunate that this lawsuit had to be brought, but Crytek has been left with no option but to protect its intellectual property in court.”
“I couldn´t take CryEngine and make another game with it, but with Star Citizen we have no issue with it” – Chris Roberts @ 0:45
WE’VE ALL GONE TO THE RAPTURE
As these things go, on Twitter, I wrote my own opinions (1, 2, 3, 4) on why this was a very big problem for CIG/RSI. From my point of view as someone who has negotiated contracts, and also having been involved in cases of both IP infringement and breach of contract, I can specifically point out two things about this, as it relates to the Game License Agreement (GLA):
1) If it prevents CIG/RSI from switching engines – under any circumstance – that’s a material breach.
We as developers switch engines and tools all the time. However, in cases were partnerships, co-operation, co-branding and similar deals are made, it is not unheard of for certain concessions to be made in order to get a deal done. A quid pro quo if you will. e.g. if Nike signs a basketball player to a multi-million Dollar contract, my guess is they’re not going to allow that player to be wearing Reebok apparel in an official capacity. This is why even with the branding you see on race cars, most of those are ads, just like you would find online, while the branding/sponsor of the car or driver, is more prominent.
This would be the circumstance under which CIG/RSI would have been required to use only the CryEngine for the game, while prominently displaying the branding as required. Game engines such as Unity and UnrealEngine, all have similar branding requirements. And for them to get out of that aspect of the contract, they would have had to either executed a mutual termination (one side can rarely terminate such a contract without penalties), or re-negotiated the terms which would then allow them to switch and/or do other things which would otherwise be a violation of the GLA.
2) If it locks them to making only one game, and they decided to make two – that’s a material breach.
No argument can currently be made that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are a single game. In fact, according to both the Oct 2012 Kickstarter campaign, and the CIG/RSI stretch goals which ended in Nov 2014, for all intent and purposes, SQ42 was a single-player game mode, while the standard multiplayer Star Citizen game later morphed to become an MMO. That was until Feb 2016 when they decided to split them into two separate products; a decision that quickly became public and raised eyebrows.
Currently, the Star Citizen suite includes various modules : Hangar, ArcCorp social, Arena Commander, Star Marine, Persistent Universe. These are all purchased, downloaded and installed at the same time – as a single product – and accessible from a single launcher.
Splitting Squadron 42 into a separate package, is no different from doing the same to Star Marine or Arena Commander for that matter. To further complicate this, for a limited time, you could buy the single Star Citizen starter package for $45, and for an extra $15, get Squadron 42. With that period having ended, you can now only buy SQ42 as a standalone game for $45.
@27:25 CIG EXPLAINS THE STAR CITIZEN – SQUADRON 42 SPLIT
THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
In my mind, the only solid defense against these two serious allegations, would be if the GLA allowed CIG/RSI to switch engines. If it did, the entire case falls apart, and probably won’t even survive a Motion To Dismiss. If in their response, they don’t file such a motion, then it is safe to assume that the GLA did not explicitly prevent them from switching engines, but that they believe they have an argument (or perhaps a counter-claim) for having done so. It won’t matter. Having a reason for breaching a contract, doesn’t reduce the validity of the contract. To the extent that because Crytek was having their own financial issues a few years ago, some people are saying that it probably prevented them from providing support to CIG/RSI under the contract (which these people btw, haven’t even seen. But whatever), causing them to switch. As hilarious and ludicrous as that sounds, even if it were true, without a mutual termination, such an issue still wouldn’t change the terms of the contract. Furthermore, software licensing contracts do not have any guarantees of performance, nor do they offer any guarantee that they’re going to work for your project.
If the argument becomes an issue of them not actually switching because technically Lumberyard is itself a derivative fork of CryEngine3, that one fails right off the bat because 1) Amazon bought a specific perpetual CryEngine3 license (which obviously allows them to do things like re-brand it, sub-license to third-parties etc) for millions of Dollars back in 2015-16; and their re-branded Lumberyard engine has its own licensing agreement which is completely separate from Crytek’s; thus making it a separate engine from Crytek’s own version 3) CIG/RSI have already claimed publicly that they did in fact “switch engines”; and the Lumberyard branding first appeared in the 2.6 build released in Dec 2016. I wrote a blog about this switch.
I have to mention also that the two most important conditions of using Lumberyard, are that you have to display the Lumberyard logo on the application, as well as not use competing cloud platforms. This is why CIG/RSI replaced the CryEngine logo with Lumberyard, and switched from Google Compute to AWS for their cloud services which run the game. What do you think would happen if CIG/RSI decided to breach the license by violating either of those conditions – while using Lumberyard?
All things considered, when you think about how these conditions are there in the first place, it’s easy to see how certain conditions in the GLA would have imposed the alleged requirements and restrictions on CIG/RSI.
SQUADRON 42 LAUNCH TRAILER (2012)
OF MICE, MEN, AND MONEY
This all boils down to money.
Crytek alleges that they created all the early promo builds (which Chris Roberts was promoting as in-game) of the game, which were then used to promote and propel the game to stardom, while creating and cultivating a cult in the process. What is being glossed over are the implications that this claim has. In essence, Crytek gave up something (they say a cheap license), in exchange for marketing and promotion of their engine. Then CIG/RSI went off and changed the deal. This is no different from downloading free apps, in exchange for watching ads. The ads generate the revenue which then pays for your copy of the app. That’s how that works.
Given all the shenanigans associated with this project, I would like to see them settle the matter out of court, so that CIG/RSI can go on to either fail on their own without the Crytek law suit shadow, or somehow finish and ship something of a “game” that backers dumb enough to still have money in this train wreck, can receive in the end. As I said in a recent live discussion broadcast with GameTalkLive, it’s better to have something, than nothing.
The bigger point here is that if this doesn’t get settled, and it goes through the discovery process, CIG/RSI runs the risk of some serious exposure of not only their business practices, but also how much money they have actually raised (seeing as the general consensus is that the funding chart is bullshit), how it was spent etc. Having changed the Terms Of Service in June 2016, preventing new backers from having financial accountability for the project, this despite the fact that even backers before that change who were entitled to it, still didn’t get it, I don’t see how they can afford to screw around until this gets into discovery. And if it does go that far, the depositions are going to be a lolapocalypse of epic proportions.
SQUADRON 42 TEASER TRAILER (2012)
Settlements come in all forms, how they fashion one is going to be key. Nobody knows for sure if CIG/RSI has cash on hand to settle what, for all intent and purposes is a very huge liability if in fact just one, let alone two, of the Crytek allegations is true. If this was going to be settled for a few hundred thousand Dollars, let alone a few million, my guess is that this wouldn’t have landed in a court room, let alone cause Crytek go out and hire a law firm like Skadden.
While there are many opinions on the merits and the implications of this case, how it could go etc, Robert Marks, a legal researcher with Bien Law, has written his thoughts on the matter.
Until we see the CIG/RSI response to the lawsuit, all we can do now is wait. In the meantime, if this goes far enough, and they don’t settle it, I fully intend on filing an amicus brief with the court, hoping the judge allows it and makes it a part of the record. And I’m going to bury The July Blog in it. In case you were wondering why, read how I got involved in this fiasco.
SQUADRON 42 HAS BEEN PUSHED TO 2019
Yesterday, in order to capitalize on The Last Jedi movie currently in theaters, they released a teaser featuring Mark Hamill, exclusively through IGN.
Ignoring the always awesome Mark Hamill, I mean LOOK at this trailer. That’s what $174 million Dollars created. And it uses the same engine and most of the assets from the larger Star Citizen game.
THE SAVIOR OF PC GAMING IS COMING IN 2019
As I wrote on Twitter, not unlike the awful The Morrow Tour (2015) which was the last promotion we saw of the game, this too just looks…well, LOOK at it. Not only is it yet another in-engine cinematic (most game engines used in games such as Call Of Duty, Battlefield etc support this) cutscene sequence that they’re famous for passing off as game play, sources say it is actually a cutscene in the game. It was edited to add cinematic angle perspectives, as well as the awful player’s thought text – neither of which are in the actual game. It’s all fake.
Having spent an entire year screwing around with a badly broken Star Citizen 3.0 build, I have also heard that today’s announcement of the SQ42 schedule – which promises to be as accurate as all the Star Citizen ones before it – says that it is due out by holiday 2018. Which obviously means sometime in 2019 – if ever.
I am getting a few conflicting reports about what they are in fact going to show today in the live stream for SQ42. I am hearing that it’s either another game play trailer cinematic showing a basic combat mission (which hooks into the IGN teaser), or an interactive play through in a test map in which they talk and interact with other NPC units. The latter being The Morrow Tour 2017.
In other words, unlike what you would come to expect from other devs actually playing their WIP games live, these clowns are still pissing around with cinematics which may or may not end up in the game, let alone looking anything like it.
As I’ve heard, in the game, the IGN sequence reportedly taken from chapter 5 called “First Time Out” (yeah, now they’re going to change it. So much for open development), is part of a tutorial (Hamill and the player go to a damaged Starfarer ship in EVA mode) that takes place in first person player pov which shows the player’s visor HUD. This could all be bullshit of course, so take it with a huge helping of sea salt.
SQUADRON 42 TEASER (2015)
I have to mention that earlier this year, I wrote that SQ42 was likely going to be just another game mode like Star Marine, Arena Commander etc. It would make perfect sense, seeing as it uses the Star Citizen game engine and assets like those other modules. While this is not news, apparently it’s how they are going to release it now. Which is why the new SQ42 promo site unveiled yesterday, now shows that it includes Star Marine and Arena Commander – neither of which anyone is actually playing – for the same $45.
So there is it. From the coming soon in 2015, if they survive 2018, by all accounts, SQ42 has now been pushed into 2019. And they haven’t shown a live play through of a SINGLE mission, out of the 60 promised in the campaign.
ps: They’re now selling TANKS. This despite the fact that nowhere in the original 2012 Kickstarter campaign, nor the final 2014 stretch goals, did ground vehicles, let alone tanks, appear. Desperate cash grab doesn’t even begin to explain it.
SQUADRON 42 (2017) – 6 YRS + $174M BROUGHT YOU THIS DERIVATIVE CRAP
So they finally did the stream after the 24hr delay which was rumored to be due to technical difficulties with the game build which prevented certain parts from being played, and thus recorded. As previously leaked, what we saw was just a pre-recorded play through of what they called a vertical slice, and which contained the previously leaked elements I wrote about above.
The whole presentation was such a footnote in this disaster of a project, that I’m not even going to bother writing a new article about it. Instead, you can read my 42 post commentary in this Twitter thread (unrolled, standard).
And aside from Chris Roberts saying that in the new year they are going to start reporting monthly updates for the project, they didn’t release the dev schedule as previously promised. So there’s that.
And so ends YEAR 5 (or 6 if you want) of this project, with neither game anywhere near release, after having raised over $174M to date.
YEAH, I’M NOT SO SURE ABOUT THAT CRYTEK GUY
“Unlike with a publisher, you can’t pull the wool over their eyes because it’s the real people who are going to be playing it”
-Chris Roberts, April 2013
IT’S OFF THE RAILS. COMPLETELY.
In last week’s situation report, I talked about the dismal state of the 3.0 build, as well as land sales. The 3.0 build is still FUBAR, and we have an entire forum dedicated to discussing just how messed up it is. As of right now, even the beefiest machines are still having trouble getting and sustaining even 15 fps on average. And that’s aside from the litany of bugs (in excess of 5K unique entries in the entire project), crashes, lockups etc. Seriously, they can’t even get something as simple as a cargo mission working. And it only involves going from point A, picking up a container, and delivering it to point B. It’s not working.
In the future, space men will be contending with actual manual labor
And it’s not just that – every single fundamental mechanic is either completely broken, or basically horrid. Flight dynamics, physics, navigation, Mobiglass UI, frigging doors (!), elevators, ships – the whole thing. And most of the streamers still trying to make money and subs off gullible backers, are inadvertently communicating to the world, just how broken everything is, and that – as I had written months ago – the 3.0 build is pure and utter rubbish.
To be clear – again – this has nothing to do with the fact that the “game” is still in development, and so this is to be expected. No. It’s to do with the fact that, going on six years now, with over $170 million (an unconfirmed and dubious claim) raised from backers, THIS is what they have and THIS is where they are. And it’s not even Alpha – and not by a long shot.
Yeah, so that happened.
By any and all accounts, 3.0 still does NOT represent even 25% of what was promised in the Kickstarter campaign, let alone 15% of what was promised over the years as Chris Roberts continued to expand the scope of the project once he figured out that doing so – while incessantly lying – is what kept bringing money in.
3.0 (w/ planet/moon access etc), ??/??/??
2.6.0 (w/ Star Marine fps module), 12/23/2016
2.4.0 (/w/ ArcCorp shopping), 06/08/2016
2.0 (w/ Persistent Universe, Multi-Crew Ships), 12/11/2015
1.2 (w/ ArcCorp social module), 08/28/2015
0.8 (w/ Arena Commander dogfighting module), 06/04/2014
0.x (w/ Hangar module), 08/29/2013
In contrast, they released (handy release timeline) 2.0 in Dec 2015, and it was a buggy mess. But it was the first big leap for the project in terms of functionality. It gave hope to the backers; though most of us just shrugged, and said that it was the beginning of the end because it was a clear, and present testament that, as I had stated in The July Blog, they simply could not build the game pitched in 2012, let alone at the scope that had been expanded in 2014.
I should also point out that 2.0 came right on the heels of when the 2015 controversy was in full swing. Hilariously, nobody envisioned that, two years later, the game would be no closer to completion.
When, after yet another year of screwing around with inconsequential things, even as the scope continued to expand, they released the Star Marine fps module in Dec 2016, it died almost immediately because it didn’t live up the hype and expectations. Nobody is even playing it anymore. And that was something they had all but killed – even as Chris Roberts was claiming it was already in Star Citizen. But then suddenly out of nowhere, they decided to resurrect it for that year end release because, well, they had nothing else. And at that time, Chris Roberts was already touting 3.0 as coming that December, knowing fully well that it was patently false as we later came to find out.
“So it’s our big end of the year release. We’re gonna get it out end of the year;
hopefully not on Dec 19th” – Chris Roberts, Aug 2016 @ 23:37
That’s not all…
FIX ALL THE THINGS. WITH SPINLOCKS
Though it’s highly technical, and beyond the scope of this article, the most hilarious thing happened last week. We’ve known for some time now that CIG tends to react to my writings in the most hilarious of ways. It’s even more hilarious when you consider that in between wanton acts of pillaging backer bank accounts, they don’t even listen to backers to any extent other than where it hits their wallet.
For sometime now, there are those who have hacked the game client to work in off-line mode. In this manner, certain game content have been discovered, shared etc. Others, like me, tend to dissassemble and decompile the game client in a bid to figure out various issues. The first time I did that, was back when I discovered that they had switched from Google Compute to Amazon S3. Yes, of course I wrote a blog about it. At the time, I claimed that they didn’t actually switch to the Lumberyard engine – a derivative of the CryEngine 3 that the Star Citizen game engine was built on. They had lied (shocking, yes, I know) about it. That aside from the fact that – for a whole year in which Chris claimed they were researching it – they never mentioned it once to backers. Not once. I discovered it in the 2.6.0 Star Marine patch, and wrote about it before it was even public.
As of this minute, those of us with access to CryEngine 3 and Lumberyard, know with certainty that they haven’t actually fully switched to Lumberyard as they had claimed. To the extent that most of the core and advanced functionality that Amazon has made to that engine, still do not appear in the Star Citizen game code. Even functionality that Amazon has completely ripped out of LY, still appear in Star Citizen game code.
With the dismal performance in 3.0, and wanting to see just how much new stuff was actually in it, what was causing the performance issues etc, some of us went tinkering and poking. So having discovered that Lumberyard had done away with most of the notoriously dangerous spinlock, we were shocked to find that Star Citizen had over 600 of those in the code. And in there, an eyebrow raising number of calls to Sleep(1).
I have never before written publicly about their coding because it’s considered poor form in dev circles. Even when I catch snippets of their Bug Smashers streams, and us devs get to discuss the “interesting” code among ourselves, we tend not to make it public. But then I went the other way and last week I broke protocol by writing this Twitter thread about spinlocks, and why they are affecting performance. I thought that was the end of it. So imagine my surprise when, in their patch released days later, this appeared in the notes:
In render mesh management, code lock contention has been optimized. Generally, frequent CPU spikes on server and client side due to spin locks have been removed. The relevant changes mention in last week’s report as in-progress have been submitted. People on the PTU have observed the effect of a degenerated “spin lock”. A spin lock used to control access to a shared resource when multiple threads are trying to work on it, such as a file or a memory space. It allows for very fast resource transfer between thread, but threads waiting for the resource are consuming a huge amount of CPU while waiting. It’s useful as long as each thread doesn’t wait long for the resource, otherwise it becomes a huge performance drain on all CPU cores.
I was floored. Before that, they had never mentioned spinlocks in any of their patch notes.
Mark Abent is the bravest dev on the project. Bonus @ 4:27. See the path?
But regardless, as I later wrote, as far as I can tell, they really didn’t do anything relevant or consequential. With access to several executable generations, and by using various dev tools (e.g. Hex-Rays disassembler and decompiler), it’s easy to track these things because calls like that are quite unique. Heck, aside from hacking the game client to run in offline mode, some have builds with these calls in the most critical areas, removed. Sure, it doesn’t do much – without adverse side effects – but the improvement in performance gains is the difference between +8 fps improvement on average, versus 7 fps in the current public build. Why? Because there is NO fixing bad architecture and design.
The running joke is that, with things like this, it’s plausible that the CIG/F42 devs are sending me a message. Hey guys, here’s a thought: quit. You’re never – ever – going to make a difference because you know that the project is FUBAR, and that Chris Roberts has FAILED – again. And he’s richer, and you’re not.
Oh, but it gets worse…
THE ELEPHANT IN THE CARGO CONTAINER
First, meet Clive Johnson. I know quite a few people who have worked with Clive. In fact, one of those people used to work for me. Clive is not your Jack-Of-All game dev tinker like most of us who started out back when we had to write all our own code – from scratch – regardless of discipline (graphics, physics, networking, UI, input etc). Clive, I heard, is a good guy. Clive is not a “networking guru”, but at the very least, he knows what he’s talking about. Which is why, what comes next, is not something that I really wanted to write. However, it plays directly into everything I’ve been saying since June 2015 about the state of the game’s development, and why they’re never getting an MMO from this.
Clive has been working on Star Citizen since Sept 2014, right in the middle of when Chris Roberts was increasing the project scope, while lying to backers, and making promises he simply stood no chance of delivering on. And that was before he shockingly decided that he was making an MMO after all.
Clive apparently has never worked on an MMO game before. And having been promoted from senior to lead network programmer, you would think that the promotion has to do with experience, instead of, you know, filling in the slot for a missing lead, or just moving into a promotion slot to keep you around with better pay. If you have been reading my blogs, then you should also know that I have written that there is simply nobody in the team leads who has ever worked on, let alone shipped, an MMO game. For these guys, Star Citizen is an on-the-job training gig, paid for with backer money. That’s why I had written an article saying that they were never – EVER – getting an MMO out of this train wreck. Ever.
Clive Johnson on ATV (@ 13:35), Jan 2016
For the longest time, backers have been fed a load of bullshit by Chris, his brother Erin, and even by some of the devs who were brave enough to get carted in front of a camera like show horses, in a bid by management to convey the impression that they were, you know, working on a game and not pissing away backer money. Due to the fact that, by it’s very nature, the networking engine in CryEngine is not designed for MMO games, the Star Citizen multiplayer experience was always shitty. The Arena Commander dogfighting module got by OK because, well, there’s really not much there. But once 2.0 arrived on the scene in Dec 2015, it became obvious that they were way in over their heads; and that networking was in fact, shit. Then Star Marine happened – and we’re still laughing at that one.
When they switched (a dubious claim I’ve written about before) to Lumberyard, the usual hype around networking started to pop up. This has been continuously fueled by even more meaningless (in the general scheme of things) bullshit such as serialized variables, network bind culling, server mesh network etc. All of which backers – despite our telling them it was all inconsequential nonsense – were thoroughly convinced would one day solve the networking issues with the game – and they were totally going to get an MMO. Heck, even though 3.0 is the worse ever build (it even tops 2.0, if you can imagine that) in terms of performance, stability, networking – and pretty much everything else – there are those who still want to believe that some day down the road, everything will be fine with networking because CIG said so. This despite the fact that, time and time again, those promises have either been flat out lies, or just simply didn’t materialize.
Clive Johnson on ATV (@ 12:25), June 2017
In the video above, Erin (yeah, he too was promoting that whole bullshit about server meshes, “hundreds of thousands” of players instances etc) mentions serialized variables, leading into Clive’s appearance at the 13:10 mark to talk about and explain…..serialized variables. Here’s the thing, those buzz words aren’t even noteworthy they are a fundamental part of any robust networking tech. But we get broadcasts like this because, like every successful con and confidence scheme, you have to keep your targets believing in what you’re selling and promising.
So it should come as no surprise that in the past 24 hrs, Clive has inadvertently started a massive shit storm with this post about the networking. On any other day, this would be par for the course with Star Citizen; but given how some backers have put so much hope and trust in CIG about the inbound networking improvements, this one is bit too close to the reality that they are about to face. This despite the fact that they know in their hearts that they’re never – ever – getting the game they were promised anyway.
Yeah, that doesn’t sound right – at all
I can’t imagine there being a single game developer – right now – who isn’t shaking their heads over this. While it’s common knowledge that the remaining Star Citizen backers know about game development about as much as they know about financial responsibility, this sort of response has raised the alarm bells of even those very same backers. Some of the comments are priceless, though my guess is that, as these things go, the mods are probably going to lock that thread soon enough.
“wtf….this is how you make change my mind within seconds…i always thought they handle the performance problems with this netcode thing, because i ALWAYS was sceptical about how they want to handle this amount of players. now you say you are not even close to handle 50 players without changing everything 10 times, generating such an amount of bugs that makes you holding back a major release for more than 1 year…
when do you want to release this game? in 20 years? you may should hire some more people to figure those problems out and let some artists go on the other hand. concept sales seem to be the only thing that works fine..“
Here’s my comment on each of those statements.
1) The graphics pipeline does not wait for server updates
I am guessing that this one comes from the fact that some of those backers have been clamoring about the shitty networking code, impacting their game performance (which they tie to the frame rate counter).
In any game, there is a single game loop that runs the whole shebang. Everything (graphics, physics, networking, AI, input etc) happens within that loop. To better understand this, read this article which someone shared earlier today. It’s written such that any layman can understand it. That loop is timed depending on the type of game. A fast paced game would have a higher resolution timer, while another would not. For example, in some of my games, I have several timers within a single game loop; each slaved to a thread that runs a specific component (e.g. graphics, AI etc) at varying update (aka tick rate) resolution. It is not uncommon to detach, for example, the graphics subsystem and run it on its own tick rate within the loop.
So, the “graphics pipeline” does not wait for server updates because it can’t, and doesn’t need to. It’s in the game loop which is what determines the visual performance based on those updates. If the graphics component is so heavily burdened that it impacts the game loop, yes, all the other components within that loop, can and will suffer. Whether the graphics component waits for the server update or not, is irrelevant.
2) Server FPS does not affect client FPS
Despite the fact that we generally tend not to talk about the server in terms of Frames Per Second (tick rates are more like it) updates, in a multiplayer game, the client has to run a “simulation” of the game itself. If you have a “headless” (no graphics processing) dedicated server, even if it’s only displaying console messages, it most definitely needs to be running the game as the client would, otherwise things like position updates, weapons etc, simply would not be propagated to all the game clients connected to it. In fact, in peer to peer games, which is how most multiplayer games are designed, the client is acting as both a game client and game server. So if you have such a game, whatever your FPS is, that’s what both the client and server are running at.
With a client-server game, whereby the server isn’t doing any graphics rendering – hence no FPS – the server still has its own loop that’s oft measured in tick rate, which definitely will not match the client FPS, as that’s a completely different metric. On the other hand, if the dedicated server is in fact running in graphics mode, as some in fact do as I mentioned above, then the FPS could very well be higher or lower than the client, depending on the configuration (graphics card, memory, screen resolution) that affects frame rates.
So, in any case, whether not you are talking about frame or tick rate, it will tend to be different between the server and client; and one should never affect the other because networking updates (packets sent across the network) aren’t usually (and shouldn’t be in a game like this) tied to graphics updates.
64 players. Yeah, we’re totally making an MMO
3) Netcode does not make clients run slowly, and never has
Anyone who has done any work on multiplayer games, knows that this is an interesting statement to make. I don’t know if Clive was just oversimplifying this, or not, but in light of his prior statements, it presents a conundrum of sorts. I actually wrote about this back in May.
If you remember what I said about a game loop, and you can grasp the concept of how they work, then it should be clear why this statement is problematic. Everything running within the game loop is subject to the rate at which that game loop is running. Anything (e.g. graphics) within that game loop, and which causes performance issues, will affect everything else within that loop. That could be graphics, physics, AI and yes, even the networking code. Networking isn’t magic that makes it exempt from performance issues – at all. And any performance related component running within that game loop, can and will affect the client’s performance.
Knowing this, it’s possible that Clive is literally throwing his colleagues and the game tech under the bus by claiming that the networking component – his area of work – works fine, as expected etc; but it’s all this other stuff (namely graphics) that’s the primary cause of the client’s horrid performance. But then, you have to now reconcile the fact that if you accept that the networking component is just fine in 3.0, given the game’s shitty networking, then they’re never getting much beyond what they have now regardless of anything they do with the networking component down the road. I’ve been saying this for over a year now; but here we are.
4) Netcode does not make servers run slowly, anymore, even though we’ve added more clients
I am regarding this as him doubling down on the previous statement. It also seems to support my theory that he’s pointing the finger at other components which are the source of the on-going issues. This despite the fact that, on any given day, the networking (the primary component in a multiplayer game), is still shit. It’s the classic #notmyproblem type statement that heated arguments are about.
So, if the current 3.0 code base “does not make servers run slowly anymore”, that means it did before – as we know. But since the networking is clearly still shit – even on servers with as few as 8 clients, then they’re well and truly screwed (shocking) because it means they’ve reached the point that all programmers fear. That point where nothing you do in a code component will make a difference.
It also means that, the subliminal message to anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, is that they chose the wrong engine for their baseline, and that even with Lumberyard, they simply can’t go any further without having to start from scratch – or break everything in the process as he stated. Remember, this wasn’t even supposed to be an MMO.
Bonus points: read Valve’s 2001 paper.
Chris Roberts talking about networking, April 2016 (transcript)
5) You get better performance on newer servers because there are fewer players on them so your client has to do less work – like physics, animation, IFCS, and entity updates
6) Players hacking the game to play PU in “offline mode” get better performance than they do online because their clients don’t have to deal with all the load generated by 49 other players
Considering his previous statements, these two are the other conflicting ones. If you have a multiplayer game whereby a client’s performance is so heavily based on the server’s own performance, outside of it being an arbiter of critical network traffic, then you have a very serious problem. Unless the dedicated game server is designed specifically to run a “simulation” of the game, then it’s just a standard client pretending to be a server. And that’s a very serious problem for a game pretending to be an MMO.
The implications of this particular comment by Clive, which, given my own experiences with the game and code, I believe to be true, has far more serious implications than his 29 words could possibly convey.
Remember, this game was never supposed to be an MMO. It was neither pitched, nor designed to be that. And given the significant and insurmountable problems that 3.0 has now laid bare, it’s safe to say that they can’t even get away with a decent standard 16 player client-server game even if they wanted to.
Here’s the thing, you’re never – ever – going to turn what was developed as a standard multiplayer game into an MMO. Period. End of story. The networking component has to be designed for an MMO from the ground up. The yojimbo library which they sponsored, and which some claim they are using isn’t going to do it. The networking component in Lumberyard, isn’t going to do it. And according to Clive’s own statement from this past Oct, they haven’t started anything remotely related to a server mesh yet. So there’s that too.
What is so hard about fixing the performance problems is that the game is pushing the engine way beyond what it was designed to handle. Fixing that means fundamentally changing how systems work while simultaneously trying not to break everything in the game that uses them. Big performance gains that require making big changes take time. Sometimes we have to do a lot of restructuring before we can even start working on an optimisation. Making all these changes can introduce a lot of bugs, and fixing those takes even more time. Let’s also not forget that performance is not the only goal here – we’re also trying to achieve fidelity levels not seen before. Fidelity is often the enemy of performance, so we find ourselves having to optimize even further than we otherwise would have had to.
Yes Clive, we know. It’s almost as if you guys chose the wrong engine to make this game.
And that’s why the project is FUBAR and you guys are never – ever – going to get a “game”, let alone an MMO, out of this train-wreck.
Because it’s related, Clive’s follow-up comment (link)
Having reached zero barrier point, back when I wrote the April 2016 blog about the impending E.L.E, they all knew that the networking layer which needed to be rewritten from scratch, wouldn’t have even made that much difference to the game’s performance issues anyway. The decision about whether or not to scrap it all and build a new custom engine – which the execs didn’t want to entertain – but instead decided to go with Lumberyard – was the defining factor that has hastened the project’s demise. Which was probably the reason behind not disclosing to backers that they were in fact planning to switch from base CryEngine to Lumberyard.
By throwing out all these buzz words related to networking, then making statements indicating that networking was in fact going to not only improve, but would also solve the game’s performance issues, they created a scenario that’s now playing out. It was all lies designed to continue stringing backers along, because that’s how you raise money. You lie to backers, as you would to bankers, investors, business partners, publishers etc.
RIGHT. SO NOW WHAT?
CIG/F42, if you are reading this, as I’m sure that most of you are, as someone who has a lot of experience with this, and who has made a decent living out of complex and ambitious games, spanning over thirty years, my recommendation for 4.0 (3.0.x is screwed anyway, and there’s no saving that branch):
- Forget about making this into an MMO. It’s just not going to happen. You all know this.
- I know that you have a headless server. I also know that the code that runs on that server is already in the client in some form or another. Merge that back into the client. It’s easier to go from server -> client than from client -> server in such a merge. The latter is bad. Don’t do it because everything will break.
- After the above, create a module running on it’s own thread. All it should do is handle network traffic like a server. It’s basically the code you salvaged from the deprecated headless server. You now have a client and server within the same executable. You could, if you wanted to, split that into it’s own executable and spawn it on-demand if you want. More on this later.
- The backend database that handles the client sign-ons, cash shop etc can remain as-is. However, you should plan to be able to disable all of this because this project is going to crash; and when it does, you won’t want to leave backers with an unplayable game. NOTE: Please start using packet encryption for all such traffic. Not going to say more than that; but don’t be surprised to see hacks down the road with players having all kinds of shit they never paid for, nor should have in the first place. Whoever wrote this, did a sloppy job btw. Also, you could adopt something like PlayFab, or even move to SteamWorks. Like Amazon with Lumberyard, let a third-party handle all that crap because they will be around longer than this project will.
- The current matchmaking is sub-par. Get rid of it and implement Lumberyard matchmaking via GameLift. In fact, as luck would have it, Bruce Brown recently wrote a dev article about it. The goal is for Star Citizen Spergs to be able to invite, meet, and play with their friends in expensive chariots, all in the same session, without having to play guessing games. Yes, there’s a party system but like everything else in Star Citizen, it’s half-assed, restrictive, and needs work.
- Then, focus on fine tuning the 16 player experience in this new environment. It’s better to have a LOT of 16 player game sessions in which everyone is having fun, than to have none at all – which is precisely where this project is headed. As you are probably aware, 3.0 is as stable as 2.6.3; and the later is only stable because nobody is playing it.
- Having done all of the above, you can go back and release a headless console server to backers, allowing them to setup their own dedicated servers either on their own, or via third-party services like G-Portal, Ping Perfect etc. Note that this satisfies the private servers promise which, as you know, you’re never going to fulfill if you’re making an MMO. This also cuts down drastically on AWS costs which I know has to be killing you guys.
- With all of the above as the 4.0.x branch, assuming you survive (you won’t) the 6-8 months it will take to implement, go back and draw up a list of everything Chris promised (use ours). Then pick out the ones that at doable within the new non-MMO framework and present it to backers. Scrap everything else. Yes, backers are going to be mad as hell, but it’s better to deliver something, than to deliver nothing.
Furthermore, Chris’s upcoming plan to start pushing SQ42 as the way to bring in new money, aside from the fact that there is no game there either, is going to fail. It’s a non-starter, and it’s not going to bring in enough money to fund a project that’s burning over $3 million a month. So it’s better to spend the next few months building a stable 4.0.x branch so that backers will have something to play and own when the final lights go out.
Everything is fine, but let’s explain anyway. See what I mean? They do this shit – all the time
Yes, my guess is that some of you may have already considered some or all of the above, but was met with resistance because without Chris and Erin selling MMO, the money train will come to an end. But here’s the thing, I have to believe that there are some of you who are “leads” and “execs” who have some humanity and decency left in you, and which should guide you into seeing this whole thing for what it is now: a complete scam that you’re ALL a part of. The road to redemption and forgiveness, always starts with coming clean and admitting that you’ve done the wrong thing. Yes, it’s shameful, it’s distressing, and it’s career breaking, – but you ALL are going to suffer all of those anyway, so why not do the right thing sooner, rather than later?
You’re all so screwed, that I don’t even know how else to express it. And you have Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Tony Zurovek, and Sean Tracy to thank for that. When you have an entire company with four studios around the world, and there is nobody to stand up to the creators, you don’t have a leadership, you have a dictatorship. At some point, it has to stop being about a pay check. I know that work in the industry is hard to find, especially in the UK, but at some point, you have to do what is right, and just because there is no excuse for complicity.
Star Citizen is yet another example of why games – regardless of cost – get canceled. If this game were at any developer or publisher, it would have been canceled by now, as it would cost more to fix it because the alternative is that you’re in the territory of diminishing returns.
Jesus, these people were sold the gaming equivalent to a unicorn…
and CIG has brought out a goat with a dildo taped to its forehead – @dzunner
THE YEAR END CASH GRAB – LAND SALES!
While it should have come as no surprise to anyone paying close attention, on Nov 28th, CIG announced that they were starting to sell land. Yes, land, dirt, in a game that six years and $170M later, is still a glorified tech demo, no vertical slice, and barely 15% functional based on what has been promised since 2012.
Coming on the heels of the EA fiasco over loot boxes in Battlefront II, it was the most brazen and dumb move to date. The FAQ is hilarious.
Starts @10:43. Then @28:00, watch as Chris and Erin banter as if they haven’t been discussing this bullshit for months now
I had always suspected that they would do it at some point. In fact, on Nov 21st, they published a lore post which prompted me to mention, the very next day, that they were probably going to be selling land. But what I didn’t expect was for them to do it at this point in time, and well ahead of the game’s completion.
Then they did, and it all started to make sense; when you consider that they prioritized barren moons (which made their debut in 3.0) over more important features; then released it to Evocati on Oct 6th – almost a month ahead of the Nov anniversary sale. Then, right on cue, they followed that up on Nov 23rd by prematurely releasing it to the Public Test Universe (PTU), in bid to build hype for the sale which started on Nov 24th. A build which has been plagued with delays since 2016 when it was promised (if you missed it, read my Road To 3.0), and which has been a major disaster since it was released to Evocati testing back on Oct 6th.
“Ahahahaha! Sorry, let me try that again. Yes that’s right stargazers, the good folks at Cloud Imperium Games never stop in their quest to bring you the galaxy’s greatest space gahahahahaha!
They’re selling plots of land for money! For a game that isn’t finished! And doesn’t have land claiming mechanics in it! You’d think that selling virtual land gets you somewhere near to the line of ‘money for nothing’ but how much more beautiful it is when the virtual land can’t even be claimed. It’s double virtual, what value!
Here’s how it works: you pony up £37.30 (a round $50) and get a wee beacon in return. This part is real. You stick that beacon in the middle of the land you want to claim and, if it’s not owned by someone else, it becomes yours. That bit is still theory.
Those are some brass balls alright! All the vacuum of space does is make ’em shine even brighter.“
Here’s the thing, we knew this was coming at some point down the road, either post-release, or as part of the final product release.
10 For The Chairman, Nov 24, 2014
Q: Is there a possibility that we get to choose our “home” on a planet. Let’s say for instance that one has discovered a beautiful planet and decides that he/she wants to set up camp on that planet and live there. Can we build or buy our home or hangar and place it on the planet?
Chris Roberts: We’re definitely going to let you… ah… ah… acquire REAL ESTATE on… PLANETS or LOCATIONS… not sure if it’s gonna be on every single one, you know, first it’s gonna be on some of the more developed planets that we’ll basically have hangars you can BUY or you know it’ll be a PENTHOUSE APARTMENT or something with a view that you could get, um…
Longer term we wanna have the ability, I’ve talked about some of the procedural stuff, we’ll have some new AREAS and PLANETS that people discover as they PUSH OUT and perhaps that planet is HABITABLE, there’s a colony, a settlement that starts getting placed.
Amid the lols and the outcry, what’s seemingly lost in translation is this key part of their own FAQ:
“Please Note: These claim licenses are being made available for pledging to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The ability to obtain these claim licenses will ultimately be available for in-game credits and/or otherwise earnable through play in the game. Pledging for these claim licenses now allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen game, and is not required for starting the game.”
Basically, having raised over $170 million Dollars, they somehow need more money to continue development. Remember that back in 2012, Chris Roberts had asked for $2M, then he got $20M, and had promised to deliver two (Star Citizen, Squadron 42) games by Nov 2014. Then having significantly increased the scope of the project, by Nov 2014, they had raised $65M. It’s now THREE YEARS later – no game of any kind exists.
FEATURE CREEP & ENGINEERING DEBT
A lot has been written about the game’s increased scope and continued feature creep. Since that very first 2015 July Blog in which I declared that they could never build the game pitched, and for no less than $150M, a capable engine, and team – they still haven’t done it. As I memorialized on the anniversary of that blog, and also in my Five Year development recap article, it is shocking to me that all this time, instead of focusing on completing a vertical slice of the product, they’re still selling in-game items, thus increasing the engineering debt and hastening the demise of the project. And that’s not just in features, but also in these ship assets, as well as the world itself. Don’t take my word for it, instead, take a look at the IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE.
Next, take a look at the ship debt. A vast majority of these are barely in concept (which they sell as JPEGs) stage – with some (e.g. the 890 Jump which they again sold during this sale) having been sold over three years ago. Still not in the game.
The hilarious part is that most of those ships are too big to even fit in the game
If it’s in Red, it’s not in the game
This one should be the most shocking, but it’s the most overlooked aspect. While CIG has been showing off inconsequential nonsense like face tracking, ridiculous procedural city demos, mocap etc, they apparently haven’t been building the actual game world they promised. There is currently only one system. You can’t go anywhere else. And 3.0 adds three, mostly barren, moons.
The game currently has 1 system and 3 moons which are in the yet-to-be-released 3.0 build
THE FUNDING CHART IS A MARKETING GIMMICK
Right on the heels of the disaster that was the land sale, this happened – two days in a row. And this was shortly after they extended the sale from Dec 4th to Dec 11th.
Amid that debate, as CIG has done in the past in which they react to public (especially stuff that I write) opinion & perception in the most hilarious way, it appears that they’ve done it again. Only this time, seeing that the anniversary Nov fundraising had taken a catastrophic dip, they’ve apparently done what they always do: inflate the funding chart to suspicious levels.
We’ve known for sometime now, with concrete evidence, that the funding chart is complete nonsense, designed to show backer confidence in the project, but desperation means mistakes get made. And this time, with the inflated numbers for Dec 1 & 2, they’ve made the biggest mistake yet, and completely shown their hand and added more evidence to this notion that the chart is pure nonsense.
Whales begin to panic that their dream is dying
We know it doesn’t track refunds, investor money, loans, taxes etc. CIG claims that it doesn’t track subscriptions, though that one is up in the air because it NEVER falls below a certain number – EVER.
Basically, as part of the on-going effort to mislead backers, the public facing funding chart is part of the confidence scam used to give backers a false sense of security in order to avoid panic. Like the project, it’s basically a marketing gimmick that bears very little relevance to the reality of the situation. And it’s all perfectly legal as it relates to perception.
I am quite certain that the US and UK corps that gave them loans, are well aware of the true financials of the company. Which is why the Coutts loan which I wrote about this past Summer, forced them to restate their earnings going back two years. How they explain to these corps the discrepancy between the funding chart and their actual financials, is the sort of thing that creative accounting is derived from.
CIG fiddles with the funding chart. Whales settle down
Multiple sources, even those who hear it through third-party within the studios, are well aware that they are financially unstable as they do NOT have the funding to complete the project. It’s not even a secret anymore. And the general belief is that the remaining whale backers who keep giving them money, are well aware that without additional funding, the entire project would in fact collapse. This despite the fact that the project has been fully funded many times over. But then again, psychological issues such as Sunk Cost Fallacy and Cognitive Dissonance, aren’t easy to overcome.
Totally normal that in 4 days, they raised what took 31 days to make in the same month the previous year
Using the funding chart as part of the confidence trick, isn’t actually illegal. Well, unless you claim that you backed or invested in the project based on that data, then it becomes false advertising, and/or quite possibly fraud. But though I have been hearing that they may get rid of it when the upcoming website revamp goes live, I just don’t see how or why they would get rid of the most important weapon in their arsenal. It’s not like they are giving backers the financial accounting they promised – and which they later removed from the June 2016 TOS revision. You know why this is relevant? Because Sandi Gardiner, wife of Chris Roberts, and the proclaimed VP of Marketing, had stated that they would be getting rid of it. Then they didn’t. That was two years ago this month.
@6:55-10:00 Sandi Gardiner, on the record in Dec 2015 about the funding chart
THE STATUS OF 3.0
As of this writing, having entered Evocati back on Oct 6th, the prematurely released to Public Test Universe (PTU) Nov 13th, it is still an unmitigated disaster. A disaster which, get this, CIG is actually charging backers $10 (by way of subscriptions) to gain access to. A game that they’ve already paid for. They did this due to there being subscriptions which they claim pay for the video series, most of which are just in furtherance of the on-going confidence trick. So if you are a concierge (aka whale) backer, or monthly subscriber, you get access to the PTU build right now – without having to wait for it to go live at some point.
Except that, by many accounts, it is literally unplayable. And we’re not even talking about the fact that it is in pre-Alpha and all that. It’s the fact that, SIX YEARS & $170 MILLION later, this is what backers have as a product.
Even the Evocati testers, who are currently up in arms and engaging CIG in the forum over their lack of progress, the decision to push the build to PTU etc, are still in shock at the whole thing. When you watch the few remaining streamers “playing” the game – usually alone – you are suddenly reminded that after $170M, they barely have something that qualifies for a science project or a mod that a few guys put together in a matter of months. Everything is flat out broken. Performance is in crapper. Functionality is flat-out nonexistent. The UI is shit. And forget about combat – in a game about combat. Let alone it ever being an MMO. They can’t even get 8 clients to play properly in any session, but yeah, they’re totally making an MMO.
1003 videos. 0 games
It was incredulous that having over 3000+ bugs sitting in the bug list for the 2.6.3 build released this past April, and with 3.0 having over 1000+ bugs logged since it went into Evocati on early Oct, they removed the bug count from the dev schedule. Completely. Why? Because, aside from the fact that more bugs were being added than were being completed, backers were using it as a metric to gauge the status of the 3.0 build. The last one looked like this. Then it was gone. They also removed any/all mention of the 3.1 to 4.0 builds. And they did all that ahead of 3.0 release to Evocati, and the anniversary sales. Basically now, they can release 3.0 in any state, declare it ready – and move on. Which, after the content drought for which backers made a handy timeline graphic, brings back memories of the 2.0 release disaster of Dec 2015.
While the refunds Reddit continues to set record post numbers and views, most of the backers on the official Reddit are beginning to wise up to the fact that they’ve literally been scammed, and that there is simply no version of this whereby they ever get the games promised. Which, all things considered is pretty darn hilarious.
But all of this pales in comparison to what comes next, and which should be public soon enough.
THE EVOCATI 3.0 CLIENT TEST FIASCO
So I wrote The Road To 3.0 article that the recent 48-60 client test was just a ruse and propaganda which just happens to start 2 weeks before the anniversary sales. Like always. I also later expanded on that with an update in my forums. And in case you missed it, I also previously gave a lot of technical reasons why Star Citizen will never – ever – be an MMO.
Since most of the guys in Evocati are hand-picked whales who are helping RSI/CIG to perpetrate a full blown scam, of which this recent nonsense is just part of that, those guys are the ones leaking bullshit information in a pitiful attempt to mislead their fellow backers. This despite the fact that RSI/CIG know that they simply can’t keep a lid on stuff like this. Not to mention the fact that, as has always happened in the past, by the time they eventually release whatever they will be calling 3.0, it would immediately obvious that they were effectively doing what they’ve always done in the past: deceptive practices.
So, straight from the discussion channel, below are the metrics and results posted. I wrote that this was just a sham, and that it served no purpose other than to start propaganda ahead of the upcoming sale, as well as perhaps their testing of new (possibly .x.large) AWS tiers which they think (it’s not) is going to provide better experience and performance. The main issue here is that they know the server can’t handle more than 10 clients in any reasonable (think combat, traversal etc) form, and that the server is still completely unstable (now more than ever before). So, ask yourself why they’re doing these sort of client tests now, when they should be fixing bugs, getting the build complete, getting the game to run at least 16 clients – solid – before reaching for the insurmountable. It makes no sense. But it does make sense when you consider all the similar bullshit they’ve pulled these past years.
So, lets get started. Below are the metrics from the 3.0q patch which was used for the test.
- Dual Xeon e5-2687w v3. 20 physical (HT disabled) cores, overclocked using Haswell microcode hack
- 2x nVidia GTX-1080Ti (SLI disabled)
- 64GB DDR4-2400 ECC RAM
- 16GB of RAM dedicated to caching drives (10x faster than Optane performance in bandwidth & latency)
- Micron C400 (550mb/s read/write)
This was 48 player maxed out server. The physical (not Hyperthreading) core counts range from 4 to 20 cores. Result (FRAPS shots):
- 11-13 average fps – with no combat
- 17-25 during server start and shortly after in a ship and just flying around – no combat
Yes, 20-core dual Xeons can’t even handle 12 fps on average. And not even an overclocked 7700K @ 5Ghz could maintain 25 fps.
Remember, RSI/CIG keeps all this under wraps, is actively using DMCA takedowns on YT, Vimeo etc, to suppress this Evocati test information from getting out. For a game that’s supposedly “open development” and which backers have reportedly given $164 million to develop. As funding continues to decline (currently down -40%) drastically year on year, it’s clear to see that they are coming up with new tricks. But ignore us though, keep giving them money and wait for what (trust me, it’s revealing – more soon) comes next.“About those tests. Maybe you shouldn’t ask yourself about player numbers but about the performance at those player numbers… After all a player limit is just an integer value on the server. You can crank them up and claim success at 60 players anytime you want. Also remember gamescom? Remember a certain 20 minute restart procedure? Everyone in etf knows why those restarts were a thing now. Because 3.0 servers go down in agony performance wise after a quarter hour. If you go back and read about the test procedure for those 60 player tests you may find something very, very similar…” – Evocati Tester
NEW DEV SCHEDULE FORMAT
Finally, as you may have heard during the final presentation at CitizenCon, we are going to switch over to a quarterly release schedule for the PU in order to provide content drops on a more consistent basis. To that end, we will be modifying the Beyond 3.0 Overview section to a new PU Roadmap that will show you exactly where the various features and additions will fall in our quarterly release schedule. If a feature requires more work, then it will transition into the next release. This roadmap will be posted once 3.0.0 goes Live.
I am calling it right now, 3.0 is the MVP. They haven’t released a patch since 2.6.3 in April 2017. Now, they’re going to a quarterly release? Which means all the bugs and issues are going to be unfixed for a WHOLE QUARTER. Don’t forget that there are over 3000+ bugs still lurking in 2.6.3 and which have somehow been ignored and forgotten. Hey, remember back when they were going to do monthly updates? Yeah, me too. Aha! But do you remember when the schedule totally looked like this?
NEW SHELL COMPANY
In addition to the total of 16 corporations involved in this venture, a few days ago on 11/08/17, they created another one. This time a foreign (incorporated in Delaware, though located in CA) entity called “Cloud Imperium LLC”. It’s not even complete yet, but you can go to https://businesssearch.sos.ca.gov/ and search for “Imperium” to pull it up. So that’s 17 in total now that we know of.