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Star Citizen – On A Wing And A Prayer

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If I was A Rich Man

Back in October 2012, Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame returned.  Like the mythical Moses leading his tribe to the promised land of space adventure games, he gave thousands of geeks, both old and young alike, hope that the type of games we really wanted to play were just over the horizon.  Star Citizen was born! All he needed to realise this shared dream was money, my money, your money and the more of it the better.  Nearly two years down the line and over $53,000,000 later, I find myself increasingly unconvinced that he can really pull off the whole ambitious if rather bloated endeavour.

Having decided to release the game in modules, so backers could go hands-on with certain segments, sooner rather than later. Two elements are currently “playable”.  Just over a year ago the Hangar module was released.  Ostensibly nothing more than a garage for whichever ship or ships you have plonked down real word cash for, a year later it’s still rather a bit of a mess. Controlling your in-game avatar as you inspect your shiny future ships is, to be quite honest an awful experience. Controls feels sluggish, if they had been going for a ‘drunken stupor’ kind of control set up, then they have hit the nail on the head.  Then there are the numerous graphical glitches. Screen tearing, missed frames of animation, not to mention ridiculously laborious loading times, it’s all common place even running on high spec PC’s.  For a module that has been released for over a year and in development for much longer it’s a sad state of affairs, especially considering all you’re doing is walking round a pretty but empty room.

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Arena Commander is the biggest by far of the two modules available. Dressed up as a in-game simulator to hone your piloting skills, it gives you a chance for plenty of flight time. Currently, 2 dog-fighting modes are available.  Vanduul Swarm pits you against waves of AI enemies and a multiplayer mode was added about a month ago. On top of the combat, atmospheric racing has just been added in the last week. Both of these different game types are a visual feast, but at the minute that’s the main selling point. Ships control well and combat can be fun, racing is best avoided unless your ship is suitable. My Aurora really just doesn’t cut the mustard when it comes to racing, this takes away any fun that could be had here. Other more suitable ships are available, but like everything in Star Citizen it’s going to cost you money.  The Arena module was scheduled to release back in December 2013, it didn’t end up in the hands of eager backers until June this year.  So in knocking on for two years since the project started this is really all we have.  Did I mention that you can’t even customise controls yet? Better still, even though I shelled out the cash for a pledge that included Beta access, I still had to stump up more money to access the Arena Commander module.

Whether the game is going to achieve its grand vision and ever expanding scope remains to be seen.  Ardent supporters will tell you that it’s still got another 18 months development at minimum to just complete the basic features. Without doubt it’s a valid point, but it’s the creators drive for more and more funding that has led me to set condition one throughout my ship.  Everything, and I do mean everything that I’ve seen so far really does seem to have been constructed and developed to convince you to part with more and more cash.

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Money, Money, Money

The Hangar module has recently been updated. Where my Aurora previously looked at home in its surroundings, it now looks positively tiny. A huge hangar fit for a huge ship or several smaller ones, just spend some more money. These ships will run you anything from around $40 to well over $200,  more and more ships are being added all the time. My hangar also includes a lovely fish tank, it’s currently sitting there empty.  It would look great with some alien fish in it. You’ve guessed it I can buy some, $1 fish, as many as I’d like.  Little things like this are everywhere. Add to that the recently added Murray Cup racing and the cynic in me just sees this as another grab for cash.  Buy faster more nimble ships? Money Money Money!  On top of all this is the constant, almost weekly stream of new promotional videos, featuring new ships with better designs. These adverts (lets be honest that is exactly what they are), are not really being produced to attract new customers either, it’s all about milking more and more money from an already generous fan-base.

I could go on and on about my issues with Star Citizen, the way it’s being developed and the constant clamouring for more money, but at the end of the day somewhere underneath all this is a game right in the middle of development and it’s a bit of a whopper. If Chris Roberts can pull it off, then the man really will deserve all the plaudits that will undoubtedly come his way.  A project of this size is unheard of for an independent developer, whilst publishers are seen by many as a bane to development, they do provide a constant reality check.  Without all the checks and balances that can come with being funded by a big investor, there is every chance that whatever gem of an idea Star Citizen started out as, might well be swallowed by spiralling budgets and pie in the sky unachievable ideas.

As unconvinced as I remain, I truly have got everything crossed that Star Citizen ends up being the game that so many people have wanted to play for so, so long. Nearly 600,000 people have bought into this project, myself included, and we are all willing it to succeed.  All we can do now is watch and wait, and continue to dream of what might be.

If you are interested about Star Citizen much more information can be found HERE at the Roberts Space Industries website.

 

6 thoughts on “Star Citizen – On A Wing And A Prayer

  1. All the current content is in the Pre-Alpha stage is it not? Hardly surprising that paying for Beta access does not include Alpha or even Pre-Alpha content!
    It’s clearly quite ambitious in scope but I’m not convinced that a paid early access model is the best option for the majority of consumers. Can only lead to disappointment with buggy, barely playable games; but if these early adopters are keen to feed back constructive criticism to help improve the final product it could be hugely beneficial for the game.

    I did play some of the current Star Citizen content (through a free week trial) and while it was clearly a very pretty game, I didn’t care too much for how it played. I’ll keep my eye on how things develop over the next year or two and see how it goes. I see no point paying a premium to access any game before release, I’d much rather wait and play a more polished full release. I’m curious why this early access approach has become so prevelant in gaming, wouldn’t happen in any other form of entertainment.

    $53m for 2 ‘AAA’ quality games doesn’t seem like a ridiculously high amount of money to me. I very much doubt they’re just sitting back on a huge pile of cash laughing, with many different developers involved and hundreds of full time staff over an estimated 4 year dev cycle, this will be a hugely costly project. Sure, some other space sims are doing things a bit cheaper but there’s room for games of differing budget, scope and funding schemes 🙂

  2. If you backed Star Citizen early enough you would of had Alpha access. there was 500,000 slots available. And that would have included access to all modules. You had to pay for Arena Commander because you backed after all the slots had been taken up. Also if you back early enough you would have been given some free fish. 2 of them in fact. If you watch their Around The Verse videos or Wingmans Hanger videos you will see they are working hard on developing the main game not just the parts that are currently playable. Yes it could do with some polish but isn’t that was Beta is for? Alpha for adding new content and Beta for fixing it or something?

    It is very true the game could end up a massive disappointment in the end and that will make a few people very angry, i have spend around $200 on ships and i know people who have spent $5000+ that’s a lot of money for a game that could fail. This is the whole point of these videos they do each week. Showing us exactly what they are working on to put our minds at ease.

  3. I still refuse to buy in. Sure its an ambitious and clearly very interesting and desirable project but that fool Chris Roberts has $53 million (far more than the usual crowd funded game) and has only delivered two poor quality modules.

    So many games have either reached beta or delivered their games with far less money and yet this fool continues to gather money and show nothing for it. There should have been a cutoff at some point where no more money would be given until something was produced. Theres no accountability.

    I wont buy til the game is finished, if it ever gets finished. I mean, $115 for a ship for a game that doesnt really even exist yet? For static models in a hanger or limited dog fighting capability in a single area of space? What is wrong with people. “Its my money and I can do what I want with it” isnt an excuse for stupidity. Millionaires go bankrupt with that sort of mentality.

    1. just read my big comment below…

      like you, i think this is a big joke. i think everybody went crazy when all those millions started falling from the sky.
      just imagine you make some cakes, and you will try to sell them, on weekends, and you expect to make 60 $ with it, so you can buy a console or pc game.
      and suddenly, you make 2000$. one week later, you have 5000$. some extra days, and you have 15000. 2 months after starting sales, you already have 90’000$. yes, you would just go totally nutzzz, with all that cash.

      star citizen, i guess they started it, thinking ‘well, if we manage to grab at least 1 million from people’s pockets, it’s already a miracle’.
      and then, you reach 1 million. 5. 10.20-40-50million. and that thing doesn’t look like it will finish.

      they noticed each time they reach a new ‘level’, all they have to do is releasing a trailer, or some high-def screenshots (that, considering we’re in 2014, and 3d apps, lighting engine, with its tons of new features, can make life-like cars, planes, houses, people, faces, animalsletc, that we no longer can see if it’s real, or CGI, considering all that, those spaceships would impress me, if we were in 2005. but today, they look like they could have been done with google sketchup, or any small 3d app), and after those new screenshots or trailer, for the next ‘chumbala46’, ‘refugiator-RF12’, or ‘galaxeater-GX12′ spaceship, they know people will go crazy, and that quickstarter counter will start moving like there was a big bug.

      they know the more they keep promising new ships, and new stuff, the more time goes by, and more millions come in. that’s why they AREN’T stressed AT ALL, no deadlines AT ALL, nobody, no publisher, nothing to rush them. nothing. they can just keeping on releasing some new ships, months will pass by, month after month, and that million counter on that webpage will keep on moving.

      those who talk about an eventual release in 18 months, lol, they are being really optimistic. why would they announce an approximate release date, or an alpha-beta stage, etc ? that would mean they already did most work, and that would need that they don’t really need much more cash.

      but as long as they don’t announce a release date, people will still think “oh, poor guys, they need our support,, let’s give them another 100$, so they can do their work correctly’.

      and meanwhile, money keeps falling from the galaxy.

      damn, all that cash and all the game has is a big hangar, where people that already gave 100, 200, +300$ to quickstarter, can store the new spaceships they will have bought, 20, 30, 50, or even 200$ each. that’s why they made a big hangar: people should never run out of space, to store all their precious ships.lol. what a shame.

      and there is just another module playable in the game, beside the hangar ?
      lol.

      i mean, are they creating the entire milky way, planet by planet, star by star, by hand ? come on…

      with all the cash they have, they could hire more and more people, almost anybody they would want or need, and they could finish the game in 2015.
      but seeing how things are going, it looks like a 2017-2018 project. and by that time, they will have 100 million $, and they will say:

      guys, the new PS5 and xBOX 2 are there, there is a new morpheus and oculus hardware, there is the new directx12.x, and those graphic cards with gddr6, and those cpus with 48 cores and 4 physical cpu-sockets on the motherboard, and there is that new ddr5, the new windows X(10), all that requires tons of resources, new tools, we need to rebuild all the assets, all the 3d stuff we have done, etc etc, and because we only have a couple of millions left, we need your help. so please, dead star citizen friends, help us reaching the 200 million $, so we can make that incredible game you have been waiting for, since you were born. without your help and money, we will have to cancel our project in less than 2 weeks. so please, help us. fast”

      i’m being a bit sarcastic, but this game is just so… so…. how to say… a huge money printing machine. each 3d ship screenshot is worth 1 million $. isn’t that amazing ?

      i wish the entire star citizen team could read these 2 comments.
      maybe they would reply in some alien language the game will feature.

      meanwhile, those who have paid, they can start filling their hangar with 1000$ worth ships and fishes. or alien hats ? or special alien dildos (outside the milky way, there are lots of planets like the planet earth, but species have evolved differently , and some females can have several children at the same time, but in different uterus … which means they have several..holes…. and all those different species in all those different planets… that makes tons of different dildos to collect. exchange. sell. give it to a friend. and one can also buy some special models, and offer them to the different races, and get some gold, diamonds, or new materials. just imagine the possible depth of the game…

      with all those millions, creativity has no limits.

  4. this game has became a big joke.but i mean BIIIG.
    49million. one week later “we reached 50 million $: look at this new ship we will be able to make, now.”
    then, another million. “hey, we just added a new cockpit view for X or Y ship”.
    thousands of companies would have made what they already did, with 1/10 of the cash.
    and at the beginning, i was like “ok, they got 50 millions from fans, but then, fans will have access to everything, since they already paid lots of cash”

    NOOOOO.

    actually, even those who have spent 100, 200, 300+ dollars, they will have to pay for EVERYTHING in the game. EVERYTHING. shouldn’t those 50 millions already pay all the items, ships, etc, for those who already spent tons of cash ?

    not only people spent hundreds $, but they will have to pay for all items, ships, customizations, etc etc.
    a true joke, a true shame.

    frankly, i see this project going nowhere. in less than 6 months, they will announce they already spent all the cash, and they can’t no longer continue making the game. and bye bye 50 or 60 million$.

    their goal was getting 5 millions. they have 10 times more. i imagine the ceo, etc, buying big fast cars, houses, etc etc, with that cash, and whenever another milestone is reached, they release a trailer with a new 3d ship. WOW, AMAZING, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HARD WORK.

    i mean, 3 junior designers, paid 3000 each, during 3 months, for less than 30’000$. they could easily design 50 new ships. at least 50. that0s why when they get another million, they announce a new ship, like that ship was made with real materials at the NASA. i mean, that’s a 3d ship, that can easily be modified, stretched, etc, with different colors, textures… it doesn’t take 1 million to make that ship.

    now, when i read this article, and read what have been done so far… i feel sorry for the guys who have paid. really sorry.

    i think the company behind star citizen should publicly announce how many millions they have spent, and how many they have left, and how much will cost this or that technology,etc etc. people have the right to know that.
    but no, instead, they keep promising fantastic things, and by then end of 2014, they will have +65 millions$ on their wallets.

    a game like this, with all the gathered cash, gamers should be able to visit thousands of different planets, each one with its own atmosphere,etc, and they could walk, fight enemies, find new materials for upgrading their weapons, ships, armors, etc etc. a mix between space combats and mass effect. the cash is there, they could do it.

    instead, the game will be forcing people into buying more ships, for the races, more powerful ships, for combats, and 1$ fishes… it’s a microtransactions fest, this game. as i said, a true joke.
    this game will never be finished, you can bookmark this comment, and read it in 2018. the company will disappear, as will your cash.

    what a joke. really.
    come on, guys, let’s reach 60 millions. they will create 3 other ships, that you will be able to buy, at 100 $ each.
    LOL

  5. – controls are fine
    – graphical glitches are to be expected in what isn’t even an alpha
    – Arena commander was delayed so that they could implement custom net code.

    It seems what you are expecting is a complete AAA game only 2 years in development and I think you need to take a step back and come back at the end of next year, this whole early access thing just doesn’t seem to work for you.

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