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WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH STAR CITIZEN?

By Colin Campbell @ColinCampbellx 
on Aug 31, 2015 at 9:00a

Delays, demands for refunds and online feuds are breaking out

Chris Roberts needs a vacation.

Since Star Citizen was presented on Kickstarter back in 2012, he says he's been working non-stop.

In the last few weeks, Roberts has made a Gamescom appearance, visited his studios around the world, talked to various media outlets and posted detailed blogs about progress on Star Citizen. He's also been helping with design and code for Star Citizen.

A significant part of his job is reassuring the Star Citizen backer community that all is well, that their faith and their money are well placed. Speaking to Polygon during a recent interview, he's definitely in outreach mode.

He delivers the lines designed to mollify and reassure Star Citizen backers who have pledged more than $87 million to his game, and who are still waiting for delivery.

This is a big game, he says. All big games suffer delays. But it will be worth the wait. It will be worth all the pledges and all the hard work.

But this interview is slightly different. This time, the subject is not just the game, but Roberts himself, and how he is coping with what is likely to be the most intense and challenging few years of his life.

Roberts works seven days a week, every week. He never takes a day off. He rises early to communicate with his studios in England and Germany. He spends each day with his teams in Texas and California. At night, he goes home to code and to make notes. He hasn't had a day away from Star Citizen for three years.

"I'm personally working harder than I ever worked in my life, including going back to the early days doing the first Wing Commander," he says adding that the workload is compounded by regular and detailed updates sent to backers.

star citizen

"Most of the time developers go dark once their Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign has run its course, with the backers getting occasional or sporadic updates," he explains. "But that's nothing like we do; we have more posts than days of the week, at least three video updates, a 50 to 70 page behind the scenes e-magazine and normally at least two patches a month."

During those hectic first few days when Star Citizen first exploded on Kickstarter, he went without sleep for 72 hours straight and, according to an aide, had to be forced to a hotel room bed by worried colleagues.

Star Citizen was originally due to be launched at the end of 2014. Although some limited modules are available to backers — two dogfighting maps (calledArena Commander), some spaceship racecourses, a hangar to store ships and a social hub  — the vast bulk of the game is still in development.

Some backers are asking for their money back. Media reports are emergingthat suggest Roberts has made a few questionable project management decisions. A release-date timeline touted by Roberts in January has completely slipped.

"Yeah, I find it very challenging," says Roberts. "It's a bit like being a politician. Not only are you trying to develop a game and run multiple studios with a lot of different people, but we're also being open and keeping the community informed of everything we do, while we have work that is out there and being improved upon all the time."

Between his 1990s success with the Wing Commander and Privateer games, Roberts tried his hand in Hollywood. Coming back to games is a re-education in how much time is needed to manage multiple people working at multiple studios.

"In the movie business, people just say 'I'm doing what the boss wants whether I agree or not.' In games, people code the system the way they want to do it. That's just the way games work, which I know because I've done it for a long time."

Star Citizen

There's little doubt that the 255 people working at Star Citizen publisher Cloud Imperium Games are putting in the hours to get the game done, and that Roberts is living in a state of perpetual crunch.

"I've never seen him work so hard," says Erin Roberts, who runs the company's Manchester, England studio where the game's single player campaign is being developed. "He's my brother and sometimes it stresses me out that he's putting in these huge amount of hours. He's dealing with a lot of stuff. I'm not sure it's especially healthy. But in terms of his dedication, it's 100 percent."

At Gamescom earlier this month, Roberts presented some of the progress he and his team have been making, including a social hub where players can interact and collect missions, the latest build of a first-person shooting module and "multi-crew," in which various players can work together on larger spaceships, entering combat against other teams.

"THERE IS CERTAINLY A HUGE AMOUNT OF STRESS 24/7 BEING SO PUBLIC AND TO HAVE PEOPLE OUT THERE THAT ARE JUST HOPING YOU FAIL."

All these game-parts are due out in the weeks and months ahead. But the game-world that strings them all together - called the Persistent Universe — will not be out until 2016. And the single-player campaign, Squadron 42, does not have a release date.

Although the Star Citizen community forums are generally upbeat about the game, there's also a core of backers who are expressing disillusionment, accusing Roberts of biting off more than he can chew.

"There's a fair amount of work that comes from communicating with all the backers," says Roberts. "It's generally a nice experience. You get to meet the people who played your old games, who like what you're doing now. Then there's the not so nice stuff."

Star Citizen isn't just a game in development. It's also the focus of a great deal of interest about crowdfunding, game developer star appeal and the intersection of money and game-making.

"There is certainly a huge amount of stress 24/7 being so public and to have people out there that are just hoping you fail because they are somehow threatened by the concept of crowdfunding and the fact that people may genuinely want to see a certain type of project built and are willing to contribute money towards that goal," he adds

"Star Citizen has definitely become the main target for people that think crowdfunding is a scam. We're the biggest project out there and therefore the most visible and any hint of negative news brings out these people in force."

"It's incredibly frustrating and taxing to constantly read posts from people that don't even bother to check out what we've done or the amount of information we share with our backers yet call us vaporware, or worse actively try to harass and be as mean spirited as possible to cause distress. I have a pretty thick skin, but we have quite a few people on our community and customer service teams that deal with this kind of vitriol every day and it's frustrating to see them take continual abuse. It's not easy keeping the community informed and fixing their issues, and they do an amazing job, but to also be the brunt of unreasonable hatred is just not cool."

AN ONLINE ANTAGONIST

Derek Smart is a game developer whose most recent game, Line of Defense, is (like Star Citizen) a sci-fi game set in space. He's also known as a vociferous and garrulous social media commentator on video game culture. He is a serial poster on forums and comments threads, including Polygon.

In the past few months, Smart posted various blog posts that are intensely critical of Star Citizen and of Chris Roberts. He claims that the game can never be made, and expresses a belief that Cloud Imperium will run out of money. He demands that all backers who want a refund ought to be given one and has repeatedly called for a full accounting of crowdfunded money pledged to the project.

Star Citizen

Smart has collected a few hundred names of backers who have expressed an interest in a refund. Even so, since his blog posts began, fewer than a hundred people have approached Cloud Imperium to ask for a refund, according to Roberts.

On one of his long blog posts Smart wrote that Star Citizen "has all the makings of a crowd-funding failure and an unmitigated disaster" which is "likely to be the most shocking event in recent gaming memory."

Cloud Imperium argues that Smart is a compromised critic. His blog posts often mention his own game (Smart denies he is motivated by competition, saying that they are "totally different games."). He accepts that, although he was a backer of Star Citizen and has criticized the quality of the game's released modules, he's never downloaded or played the modules.

Derek SmartSmart: Star Citizen "has all the makings of a 
crowd-funding failure and an unmitigated disaster"

Cloud Imperium kicked Smart off the backer program, refunding his money. (Smart claims he never received the check, something Cloud Imperium disputes.)

The company's publicity people dismiss Smart as a crank with an agenda, who commands a relatively small following. But although Roberts generally avoids talking about Smart directly, during Polygon's interview the Cloud Imperium CEO seemed to lose his cool when asked about his nemesis. Clearly, the attacks are having some effect.

"If you read his blogs, he gets more and more personal, more and more outrageous with his claims, and he's been getting traction and attention. Catfights are fun for people to read about. But it's not fun for me to be in the middle. It's quite distracting. It's hard on the company," he says.

robertsRoberts: "It's not going to happen. We have a 
pretty healthy cash reserve."

"You have to deal with people publicly taking you on and calling you names in public. You have to sit there and take it. That becomes fairly stressful ... We've got people around our company who get worried. Is this gonna happen? Are we running out of money? Will I lose my job? The stress that gets caused to other people that work for me is something that ... it's bullshit."

In a later email to Polygon, Roberts again addressed his feelings about Smart. "It's hard not to be irritated when someone who is famous for being very late and then finally releasing a bug ridden game that doesn't do half the things he promised starts criticizing you for taking too long and not delivering on promises.

 

LEGAL MATTER

Last week, Derek Smart sent a lawyer's letter to Cloud Imperium demanding that the company allow auditors to examine how the crowd-funded money has so far been spent and seeking guaranteed refunds for backers who want them.

A Cloud Imperium spokesperson told Polygon that the company has responded directly to Smart's lawyers. "Mr. Smart’s counsel is in receipt of our response," said the spokesperson. "As a matter of policy, we don’t release private communications, but if the past provides any guidance, our letter should be posted any time now by Mr. Smart."

 

"The reason why we have chosen not to engage him and tried to take the high road is that he's the kind of person with nothing to lose, that will carry on no matter what facts are put in front of him and has made it his mission to try and tear down Star Citizen."

Roberts scoffs at the notion that the company will run out of money before the final game is delivered. "It's not going to happen. We keep a pretty healthy cash reserve. We managed our expenses based on the revenue we bring in. We have our development timeline and we know what we're doing. We adjust. If I'm not bringing in $3 million or $2 million a month, we aren't going to have as many people working on it.

"When Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are out there, I think the game will speak for itself. The noise we're dealing with now will not be there. The people who were there and backed it along the way will be happy and they'll be proud of helping make something happen that probably could not have happened in any other situation."

STAR MARINE'S DELAY

One of the main reasons why 2015 has, so far, been difficult for Roberts is the delay of Star Citizen's first-person shooting module, called Star Marine.

In January, Roberts said that Star Marine would be arriving in the spring. The module was delayed and is now slated to arrive some time in the next few weeks. At the time of the delay, earlier this year, Roberts had no new release date and several outlets, including Polygon, reported it as being "delayed indefinitely," something at which the studio bristled.

"We never said that," offers a company spokesperson. "We never used those words."

Cloud Imperium Games later locked down a new release window.

"We made an initial decision not to release additional Arena Commander updates," explains Roberts. "We thought, well, the FPS is coming soon, it'll be too much of a load on the backend and our dev-ops and our testing to get these two things out at the same time. That turned to be a mistake, because the FPS has taken longer than we wanted. We've continued to have some issues we need to solve."

Roberts has repeatedly explained the nature of those technical problemswhich come down to player perspective and the number of players allowed in one map at a time. But why weren't those issues accounted for when the now-slipped release dates were being announced?

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"You work on things, you see how it works out, you see that it's not good enough so you have to change it a bit," he says.

Denver-based studio Illfonic was hired to work on first-person-shooter element Star Citizen, mainly based on its experience working with CryEngine. But Illfonic is a small company with little experience making big budget games.

Cloud Imperium is now in the process of transitioning final development of the two FPS levels to its newest internal studio in Germany. "In the very early days we didn't have a big staff," says Roberts. "It takes time to staff up and hire. Our plan was always to transition into internal staff. We've now got people that have the knowledge and the experience with the engine that they can help finish and close things out in a way that would be more difficult with people who don't have the same familiarity."

Was Illfonic a bad choice for such a big job?

"It wouldn't be very fair to say one thing or another," says Roberts. "I think they did a good job. I think they had experience with CryEngine, which was a plus. But I do think that we are better served having less disparate groups work on the code base.

Illfonic recently laid off some of the people who worked on the project. "We brought them on to specifically write mechanics and systems for the FPS," says Roberts. "We're now at the point where most of that is done and we're transitioning it in-house. The people they laid off are environment artists that built the FPS levels."

Todd PapyTodd Papy

Todd Papy is design director for the company and game director on Star Marine. Last week, he spoke to Polygon via Skype from Illfonic's offices where he was managing the project's transition to Cloud Imperium's Frankfurt offices. Papy's experience includes SCEA Santa Monica and Crytek.

He says that the Illfonic team have "served their purpose" and that "in my mind it's just handing the baton over" now that internal studios with relevant experience have been staffed up. "Player movement is a major resource that, in my mind, should be in-house. It should be something we own," he says.

The FPS levels were shown at Gamescom and are unlikely to concern gaming's powerhouse FPS brands. They feature soldiers in corridors shooting at one another.

Papy says that the levels ought to be seen in the context of the much larger world that is coming later.

"We're going to judge it as a whole, once we get the multi-crew stuff working, once we get EVA [Extra Vehicular Activity) all working. Then we start getting into some of the asymmetrical gun battles we can have with ships as well as FPS. That's where I think we'll shine."

The point is that Star Citizen isn't just a compendium of game genres — racing, space-shooter, FPS, trading, MMO — it's all those things combined. The corridor shooter is a work-in-progress towards an integrated Persistent Universe in which players move themselves in and out of different environments, including outside spaceships and on planet surfaces.

"We're just getting the baseline of the player movement the way that we want it to be and then mixing that with the ships," says Papy. "That's the first step in the dream, which is being able to get into your ship with your buddies and go and possibly hijack a ship or defend a ship or a space station. It's the first step in what we're trying to do."

Star Citizen

Cloud Imperium execs repeatedly make the point that Star Citizen is not like games from traditional publishers. The backers have paid to be able to play various modules and engage in a feedback process during development. Execs talk about how much Arena Commander has been tweaked and improved since it was released last year.

At Gamescom, Roberts showed off the game's social module, which was released to backers last week.

"Artcorp is basically our first social area," says Papy. "What you saw was a very small subset of what we're doing. We still need to build the jobs board. We still need to build where you can buy your parts, buy your weapons, go to a bar. These are all in development."

Another theme that Cloud Imperium execs return to is that all AAA games take a long time to produce.

"To me it's stepping stones." says Papy. "This is the part of the journey that fans and backers are paying for. You're seeing behind the curtain that you don't normally see behind. If you think of something like The Last of Us, or even God of War, games I'm experienced with, God of War took us three or four years before we showed it. These things take time. Last of Us was in development for four years before it came out. That's building off existing technology, an existing engine."

FEATURE CREEP

But this doesn't fully explain the overly ambitious release dates announced by Roberts.

Roberts bristles when asked about these slipped dates. "I'm damned if I do and I'm damned if I don't. I have some backers saying, don't give me dates. Make it right. Don't rush it. And then I have some people go, where is the game? I want to play it right now.

"My opinion on the issue is, people want a great game. No one's backed this to have something rushed out. No one's backed this to make a Christmas season, like you would get from a normal publisher's game."

To be fair, so-called "feature creep" is built into the Star Citizen crowdfunding model. When the game was first seeking a few hundred thousand dollars to get itself made, it was at a much smaller scale than it is now.

WHAT IS PLANNED FOR CITZENCON 2015?

Last year's CtizenCon was held in Los Angeles and gave backers a chance to see the then latest build of the game's Persistent Universe.

This year CitizenCon 2015 — a live event staged by Cloud Imperium Games — is being held in Manchester, England, in October. Once again, fans will get to see progress on the larger game space. But the event is likely to focus more heavily on the nature of single player campaign Squadron 42, with a release date also planned.

Squadron 42 is being built by Cloud Imperium's Manchester studio.

"It's just a very big game, compounded by the fact that we're very public," says Roberts. "We're open in our development. We have no buffer. We have no shield. And so we have to say how things are going. Trust me, I'd love to have the FPS out already. I'd love to have a bunch of stuff out already. But people have invested a lot of their hopes and dreams and money into this thing. I've invested a vast amount of time. We need to make the best possible game.

"We're running a live game at the same time we're doing all the R&D and production. We're still architecting some aspects of the basic game while parts of it are live. That's an incredibly high degree of difficulty."

The scale of Star Citizen is one of the chief beefs of those backers who are losing patience, who say that the massive game currently being developed is not the same as the one they are now waiting for. It's one of the reasons why Roberts seems to be relaxing rules on refunds, which are only officially allowed in the company's terms and service within the first 14-days of making a pledge. "If there are cases where people are really upset, or facing personal hardships, on a case by case basis we take a look and we refund," he says. "We don't want to keep people around. We don't want to fight with them."

tony zTony Zurovec

Tony Zurovec is overseeing Star Citizen'sPersistent Universe, the ultimate destination for this complex project. He's been working in professional game development for the past 25 years.

He says that, looking back over the game's development life so far, he does not believe they could have reached this point any faster.

"There are always things that, in hindsight, would have saved you some time and money if you'd known them beforehand. That said, I don't think there's a tremendous amount that we could have done differently to accelerate the current game's overall progress short of lessening the scope.

"The reality is that we're building an enormous story-driven single-player space combat game with loads of beautiful environments, ships far more detailed than anything that's ever been done, and a fully featured FPS component, while simultaneously building an MMO around the same universe. The larger and better received MMOs routinely take longer to develop, and when the clock starts ticking most of those endeavors already have a good portion of the team in place.

"A lot of the community understands this. The irony is that if the game were much farther along at this point in its development, it would largely be the result of a dramatically reduced scope, which in turn would make the game considerably less interesting to a lot of people."

HANDS-ON APPROACH

Due to his success with much-loved series Wing Commander, Roberts is in the top tier of game developers whose names carry weight. That muscle has helped him to leverage his fame to raise funds for Star Citizen and to attract talent to Cloud Imperium.

He's clearly a details man. During the process of writing this feature, Roberts sent the Polygon editorial team lengthy emails outlining his views and arguments about his game. This is rare among developers.

RobertsChris Roberts testing the game

Papy talks about dealing with Roberts' hands-on approach. "I've worked with some very high level game directors in the past," he says. "Once they got into that position, a lot of them weren't really doing anything. But Chris is in there looking at code, giving feedback on code, talking about exactly how he wants the server set up.

"I get emails from Chris sometimes at two in the morning. His drive and passion for the project is unmatched. Yes, there are blind alleys that you go down. It's one of those things where you expect things to work out a certain way and they don't. Then you need to make adjustments. I don't think there's anything out of the ordinary here.

star citizen
"THE GOAL IS TO REALLY PUSH THE ENVELOPE AND DO SOMETHING THAT'S NEVER BEFORE BEEN DONE."

"Sometimes a decision needs to be made and from there we live with the consequences. If you keep second-guessing yourself you're not going anywhere."

"As with any large, ambitious project there have been some areas that required significant research to get right, and sometimes based upon what you learn you wind up changing directions," says Zurovec.

Star Citizen

"You're always going to have people looking at something that works fairly well and saying that it's good enough. There's no doubt that Chris' standards are extremely high and that means that he continues to push people - engineers, designers, artists — a lot farther than some of them think is necessary. Every game has to find its own balance between perfection and pragmatism, and I think that Chris has been pretty clear with everyone that the goal is to really push the envelope and do something that's never before been done."

SQUADRON 42 AND PERSISTENT UNIVERSE

Assuming Cloud Imperium hits its latest promised targets, this year will see the release of the FPS following last week's social module, as well as the newArena Commander, which includes multi-crew combat.

But next year will be the real test of Star Citizen's value, when the Persistent Universe arrives. It is likely to be rolled out in stages and built upon. It will also be connected to the single player campaign, Squadron 42 which will be given a new launch date at CitizenCon in October. It's reasonable to assume a 2016 launch date for that too, although Cloud Imperium may surprise.Squadron 42 is planned as a trilogy of full game campaigns.

"Squadron 42 is at big, epic single-player story," says Erin Roberts. "We're taking what everyone loved about the original Wing Commander and building on that to find new ways to tell stories, so people really feel like they are walking around a ship and visiting these locations and talking to people and having relationships. We want to make a really big immersive experience."

Erin RobertsErin Roberts

He says that Squadron 42 will feed into the Persistent Universe, in which players will encounter some of the people and places they saw in the single-player campaign.

"We will have engagements which you can also play later on with your friends when you take moments from gameplay and do missions together with your friends."

The scale of the Persistent Universe is immense.

The game is essentially an MMO, although it's not clear how much will be presented to players when it first arrives.

"We'll do things in stages," says Papy. "It's not like a traditional MMO where you get to a certain state and you go live and start doing tuning and tweaking. We're a live product, and at the same time we're developing a product.

"I think if you pitched Chris's vision to a publisher, they would cut it down and then cut it down some more. The backers are allowing us to try to achieve as much of that vision as possible."

"Star Citizen's ultimate objective is to put you into a highly detailed world and then remove as many boundaries as possible," says Zurovec. "That is a long-term goal, which is a big part of the reason why we're aiming to create a solid foundation that we can use far into the future instead of taking a lot of shortcuts simply to show short-term progress.

"With some major pieces starting to finally come together, though, I expect that the next twelve months will see more content being placed into the hands of players than has happened since the project began."

BACKERS PATIENCE

So far, 2015 has been a tough year for Star Citizen backers. Yes, there have been tweaks and new starships added, but they've also had to deal with delays to other much-anticipated modules.

The game's Persistent Universe was originally supposed to be out in 2014, so it's not surprising that patience is wearing a little thin in some quarters.

Paul Shelley (aka Bzerker01) is a Twitch streamer who follows Star Citizenclosely and is well known among the game's loyal fanbase. "The community is cautiously optimistic," he said. "They want to see progress. There are many who are waiting for more content before they continue to support it either financially or through word of mouth."

"With the number of backers we have there will always be some segment that is unhappy," says Roberts. "Whether it's because they feel the game is late, we haven't addressed controller balance, their ship was unfairly nerfed in the lastArea Commander patch and so on. This is the challenge of a crowd funded project.

BACKERS SPEAK

Polygon spoke to two backers who represent different ends of the Star Citizen community.

Ryan Allen, a web developer from California, backed Star Citizen in early 2013 and went on to spend a total of $930 on various in-game spaceships, over a period of about 18 months. He requested a refund in July, which was granted.

"When I backed the game, I was excited that Chris was making a new Wing Commander-type game," he says. "It was like, 'take my money.'"

But by early 2015, Allen had grown disillusioned with the game. "I totally believed in it, but after so much delay, I just wanted my money back." He adds that the growing scale of the project and the delays made him feel that Cloud Imperium "had been dishonest and that the game was going downhill."

Jared Parks backed the Kickstarter from the earliest days. He accepts that the scale of the project has changed, and that delays are part of game development. "I'm not here backing some project. I'm here to back an idea," he says. "People want to see the industry change. Star Citizen is a chance to see that change come to light. Star Citizen is a worthy project to grab a hold of and support.

"This game is unusual and it's uncharted territory, Cloud Imperium Games will inevitably make mistakes. However, if you want to see a change in the industry to shifting away from the same-old producing mindless game releases and going back to an age of quality and passion, then I suggest hanging in there and help Star Citizen push across that final finish line."

"Everybody has their own take on what they are backing as there isn't a final definitive product at the time you back. I personally try my best to listen to everyone's concerns and make the calls we think are best for the whole community. I and the rest of the team genuinely care about the community's feedback and value it in making a better game in the long run."

"Every project I've been on has slipped," says Papy. "Big budget games like [Grand Theft Auto] 5and The Witcher 3 all slipped. This game is extremely ambitious. There are certain things we do know how to do. It's not pure R&D. But there are elements that take more time to figure out and get to a point where we work out most of the kinks."

"I understand why people who don't understand development would get frustrated," says Erin Roberts. "They really want to have this game. But there's a huge amount of work we're trying to do. Is it great that people get frustrated? No, but it's understandable. It's our job to get the stuff out. We are doubling down to get the content out to people so they can see what we are trying to do. The dream that everyone bought into is the dream that we are trying to deliver."

"Sometimes you don't get to a certain point [in development] quite as quickly as you estimated," says Chris Roberts. "But I'm not looking at the game saying, I can't do this at all. If anyone says, can you make Star Citizen, I say, yep, I absolutely can.

"I have no concern about being able to deliver the promised game. When people do get to connect those things together, when they start to play the multi-crew in a few months time, they'll see the foundation of that. Next thing you'll do is you'll be landing on a planet. Then you'll be going to several planets. Then we'll be opening up another star system you can jump to. Then it's just content production."

Roberts talks about the Star Citizen pitch, the idea of being a person in space, visiting planets, getting into trouble in bars, boarding and attacking other space-ships.

"We're going to build something special for everyone. It's taken longer to deliver the vision than people would like. But in general, that's always the case with great games. Gamers complain about delays. But I would be doing a disservice if I didn't deliver the best game possible for everyone out there who's backed it.

"It's a lot of work, but it's not something I'm complaining about as it's allowed me to be building a game that I doubt any publisher would back. I mean who would invest $87 million into a space sim that is built just for high-end PCs? I don't think it would be healthy to burn the candle this hard ad infinitum but I am super focused on getting the first public release of Star Citizen andSquadron 42 out the door. To do that I can't afford to not give it all my attention. Once done I'll take a long deserved holiday with my family."Babykayak

 

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The article is less problematic than previous ones, but it still has very clickbait and vitriolic sections. The thing that really bothers me is how much they focus on SC, feature DS as a critic, but refuse to go very far into DS's shitty history as a developer, shitty history as a person, or the Line of Defense game on Steam. It's the giant gorilla in the room that all of the game news groups seem to be conveniently ignoring.

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The title is misleading but the article itself is quite good I'd say. I agree with @Chimaera that if you bring in DS you should...introduce him too.

It's far more funny to read DS comments at the article, the guy must still have his good old "Derek Derek Derek" internet program around ;)

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The thing that really bothers me is how much they focus on SC, feature DS as a critic, but refuse to go very far into DS's shitty history as a developer, shitty history as a person, or the Line of Defense game on Steam.

It's the giant gorilla in the room that all of the game news groups seem to be conveniently ignoring.

I concur. 

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If you think its click bait, why post it on here then?

Well, click bait title, certainly, and by posting it here VoA is both providing us with the information from the article AND preventing them from potentially profiting from the clicks.  If it is just mentioned without providing the text a lot of us would ultimately feel compelled to visit the site to read the article, now none of us has to do so unless we choose to.

It was a decent article overall, though I still take issue with everyone(with the exception of the Germans) giving Derek Smart a pass on his past behavior, past and present games history, and motives.  When they bother to do anything critical at all they rely on CIG to lob stones at Derek Smart, which they've largely refused to do.  To some this is the definition of objective journalism, but from everything I ever learned studying the media, setting up an issue from a he-said/she-said perspective is a cop-out.  Reporting on a beef is in fact journalism, but it is shallow journalism.  Investigative journalism(aka the kind that wins Pulitzers) requries actual investigation, research, fact checking, and providing context and a knowledge base that the reader can't be assumed to possess.  There are always two sides to any story(more often about 100 sides, but who is counting), but to set them up as having equal weight or validity is intellectually dishonest, much like having 1 climate change scientist debate 1 climate change denier, rather than having 99 climate change scientists debate the one denier.  "We report, you decide" only works(and only vaguely even then) if your reportage is exemplary, and exemplary journalism is never easy, especially in the era of click-bait and internet media.

I can handle criticism of Roberts and CIG, the game's scope and timelines, the funding model, most anything really, but it has to be done in an intellectually honest fashion, taking into account not just what Roberts or CIG says, or what ardent critics say, but how these things play out set against the present realities of the game industry itself.  

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Here is another article today - Fortunately has some good info in it ===>> 400 star systems planned with on average 2 habitable planets per system :wub:

Inside Star Citizen's new social module

Inside Star Citizen's new social module

post-1-0-92049100-1373051468.0.0.jpg

Over the weekend Star Citizen released an early version of its much-anticipated social systems, which for the first time allow players to interact with each other on the ground. Polygon was able to experience that social environment first hand. What we found was very clearly an in-production early alpha, one that is mostly non-functional. And yet, Star Citizen's social alpha finally begins to show the game's grand vision of a living, MMO-like experience — one could thrive through player interaction.

Star Citizen was launched as a Kickstarter in 2012, and successfully funded at more than $2.1 million. Since then it has continued to crowdfund online by selling early access to periodic updates as they come online, a promise of the complete game upon release and by the routine sale of premium in-game items including ships. The total funding for the game has since exceeded $88 million.

Star Citizen is unique for more than just its approach to funding. The game also has multiple modules, all being built by multiple teams around the world. They include the aforementioned Arena Commander dogfighting module, a hangar module, a single-player campaign module called Squadron 42, a Planetside module, a Persistent Universe module and an FPS module called Star Marine.

Star Marine was recently delayed, causing the game's multiple codebases — which were on parallel development tracks — to diverge more than anticipated.

While the Star Marine team's delay slowed the Persistent Universe team down, and will complicate the game's overall development timeline due to a need to reintegrate the two codebases at a later date, it had the benefit of allowing for the release of the social alpha roughly as scheduled.

"Star Citizen’s code base split back in March when Star Marine — the FPS module — was targeted for release," wrote Tony Zurovec, director of Star Citizen's Persistent Universe module, on the Star Citizen development blog. "Star Marine’s subsequent delay led to those two streams gradually growing apart, and a considerable delta now exists. ... With Star Marine’s latest postponement, though, the decision was made to flip the release dates and allow the Social Module to go out the door — something that the Persistent Universe group has been wanting to do for quite some time."

 

customs

The social alpha consists of a single, large, instanced environment accessible through each individual user's hangar. Polygon was able to launch into Star Citizen, turn around and open an elevator that had previously been non-functional. After tapping a few buttons, we were whisked away to ArcCorp’s Area 18.

Area 18 is a point of entry to ArcCorp's megacity. There's a small customs area that empties out into a large open square surmounted by a massive ArcCorp statue — a series of gears grinding away in the shape of a sphere.

arccorp_lowrez

There are other players roaming around as well, up to 24 of them at this time. For the most part, most people seem fixated on trying to glitch their way through locked doors to otherwise inaccessible landing pads. There's a functional chat interface, as well as an augmented reality mode that lets you see other player's names and descriptions on items in stores. There's even a half-dozen available player skins, which can be selected prior to entering Area 18.

Also hanging off the central square is a gunshop, a bar, an employment office and a starship showroom. Side alleys lead to dark, garbage-strewn dead-ends. One even features an active incinerator. All the while, spacecraft are flying overhead. It's reminiscent of scenes from movies like Blade Runner or The Fifth Element, with long lines of ships snaking their way through a seemingly infinite, vertical city.

Despite the fact that not a single NPC will move, let alone make eye-contact with you, it feels busy. The environmental details — and the other players slamming themselves against the wall — give the otherwise dead space a kind of liveliness. Given the shape of ArcCorp's megacity you can begin to see where encounters with smugglers or other nefarious types could be staged and how centrally-located common areas will be natural points for players to gather. There's even a selection of emotes to play around with.

Like much of Star Citizen's development process, backers are being shown a glimpse of what could become a very engaging game. But it's very, very far from a complete experience. This ArcCorp environment is just the beginning of something much larger.

When Polygon spoke to Zurovec in November of last year, he gave us a hint of the scale of the Persistent Universe.

"The plan is for the Star Citizen universe to be absolutely enormous," Zurovec said. "But that's a long-term goal. Over 400 star systems are currently envisioned, most of which will have a variety of planets."

Zurovec says that each of those systems will have at most two habitable planets, as well as several space stations. That means their in-game universe will have at least 800 different locations that players can visit. Making each of them to feel unique is a massive task, and to speed up that process the toolset they've developed for their designers uses a modular approach.

"The cities are done to such a level of detail that it would be totally impractical to build each one from scratch," Zurovec said. "As a result, we've adopted a multi-step process whereupon once the art assets have been created and properly set up, we can quickly create a lot of areas that look dramatically different."

"For designers, building a world will be a lot like building with Tinker Toys. All of the pieces will be created ahead of time, each designed to fit together with others in specific, seamless ways."

Along with the release of Area 18 and the social alpha came a teaser video of a fly-through of another upcoming environment type, called Nyx.

The next major update to the Persistent Universe, Zurovec wrote in his post over the weekend, will be called "Subsumption" and will "showcase some of the hard work that’s been going into the development of systems that will allow us to construct environments filled with intelligent NPCs going about their business and that really feels alive.

"We’ll be aiming to deliver ... Nyx with that release as well. Final Frontier will follow, and enable you and your friends to accept some simple missions while planetside and then head out into space together to accomplish them. Quantum will unveil the full-blown solar system navigation map and allow easy access to any part of the current system, including cities on three other Stanton planets: Hurston, Microtech, and Crusader."

However, no release dates were given for when Subsumption would come out.

As of this morning, Star Citizen's servers appear to be overloaded. Polygon was unable to join a server to tour the Persistent Universe again. We hope to stream the experience live on our YouTube channel some time this week.

Edited by VoA

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Its really a shame, I did enjoy both articles. Thanks VoA for posting them. Loved that short video of the new landing area also. I have remained cautiously optimistic about this entire title. From what I've seen recently, CIG is doing what they can. I myself contemplated a refund. Im content on waiting though, I think this thing will be great. Just gotta be patient.

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DS also posted that they could have a game already if they cut things out and did things his way. If they did that, CIG would end up with a garbage game like anything 3000AD games has put out.

He just doesn't get it.

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DS also posted that they could have a game already if they cut things out and did things his way. If they did that, CIG would end up with a garbage game like anything 3000AD games has put out.

He just doesn't get it.

No he really doesn't. All of DS's games I've never even heard of. Nobody knew who he was or what his games were until he started making noise about SC. He has a track record of going into other dev's games and trying to create publicity for his own content. I rate Derek Smart in the same category as Dean Hall.

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God, such a clickbait article. The author tries to stay objective but that title alone had me roll my eyes, and once again it turns to a critical, Derek Smart-ian article because, lets face it, the internet loves this stuff. As long as we gobble it up the articles will keep getting written.

On Derek Smart...
I have to honestly say that in my entire life I have never before come across a hypocrite quite like Derek Smart.

He preaches against milking gamers for money for access to a buggy, half finished game but develops his own game that's half finished and broken for which he shamelessly asks 150 something dollars for early access or whatever he calls that package.

When he posts his articles he childishly resorts to name calling and personally attacking gamers whom he then claims to be representing, yet when those same gamers respond he laughs it off and says he wont dignify a response to those who resort to name calling and attacking him personally, often even when that is not the case.

He sees himself as a sort of Robin Hood for the oppressed and disappointed Star Citizen backers yet nobody want him to speak for him/her. Even if I was disenfranchised with this project, which I'm not. I still would not want this guy to speak on my behalf. He started a crusade for giggles and attention.
 
It comes down to this; Derek Smart is like a jealous child that can't stand to see others get all the attention.
 

Damnit, this got me started again. I just can't stand Derek Smart's bullsh*t. He's not relevant, only a handfull of gamers (relatively speaking) have ever heard of him and those who have don't have anything good to say. 

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may be click bait but it shows the difference between DS & CR, & as far as anyone can see CR takes a realistic approach to how he wants to make this game that is achievable mind you, while DS is just sitting back criticizing any & everything CR & SC does, i can't believe people are even still taking this dude DS even serious i mean really c'mon look at the garbage games he's made my god...

Edited by Judah Warrior

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So another click bait post came up

http://www.mstarz.com/articles/83025/20150903/star-citizen-release-date-news-kickstarter-backers-mad-gameplay-details.htm

this one is funny due to the fact that "Imperium" is giving out refunds!!!! Where's my refund ..... Oh wait I'm an officer I don't think I qualify :)

As we previously reported, Imperium is open to refunding backers that want their money back, even though a refund isn't something they have to give.

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Can you repost the article here, CC?

One thing I think we should do is message polygon en masse and ask them to apply even a modicum of scrutiny to LoD.

 

 

I would be it would turn out bad due to the fact that I'm on my phone, I can try later, one note is on the phone there is less ads :P 

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Not wanting to give them another thread here, so here's a PC Gamer article.

http://www.pcgamer.com/chris-roberts-star-citizen-will-speak-for-itself/

It also references Polyon's articles as a reference. It's like academics reinforcing each others' claims by referencing each other...such horse shit.

Chris Roberts: Star Citizen "will speak for itself"

Andy Chalk

 
 

Star Citizen Hornet

It hasn't been a particularly good year for Cloud Imperium Games. Star Citizen has run into a few snags, and worse, it's come under withering fire from Derek Smart, a game developer and former Star Citizen backer who has proclaimed, among other things, that it is simply not possible for the game to be delivered as promised. Cloud Imperium has stayed comparatively quiet in response, but in a lengthy and very interesting interview with Polygon, Chris Roberts and other members of the studio say that development is proceeding as expected, and that if it sometimes appear chaotic, it's only because the process is so public.

"We're open in our development. We have no buffer. We have no shield. And so we have to say how things are going. Trust me, I'd love to have the FPS out already. I'd love to have a bunch of stuff out already. But people have invested a lot of their hopes and dreams and money into this thing. I've invested a vast amount of time. We need to make the best possible game," Roberts said. "We're running a live game at the same time we're doing all the R&D and production. We're still architecting some aspects of the basic game while parts of it are live. That's an incredibly high degree of difficulty."

The interview covers a wide range of topics, including "feature creep," missed launch dates, and layoffs at Illfonic, a studio Cloud Imperium contracted to work on the Star Marine FPS module. And there's a bit about Smart, too; Roberts dismissed Smart's complaints and accusations as baseless but admitted that the persistent and personal nature of his attacks take a toll on him and the company.

"When Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are out there, I think the game will speak for itself. The noise we're dealing with now will not be there," he said. "The people who were there and backed it along the way will be happy and they'll be proud of helping make something happen that probably could not have happened in any other situation."

The interview goes over some ground that's been previously covered—Roberts' unhappiness with reports that Star Citizen was "delayed indefinitely," for instance—but if you have even just a passing interest in Star Citizen, it's still well worth reading in full at Polygon.

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God, such a clickbait article. The author tries to stay objective but that title alone had me roll my eyes, and once again it turns to a critical, Derek Smart-ian article because, lets face it, the internet loves this stuff. As long as we gobble it up the articles will keep getting written.

From what I know of the way most of these sites work is that the author doesn't decide on the title, they can suggest it, but it is ultimately the decision of the editor(s). The editor's job isn't just to ensure the article is written correctly, laid out, etc... but also to ensure it has the best impact for the site, that means otherwise balanced articles turn into... Man gets $90m for space game, you won't believe what happens next!

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      Update 2.0 is at that time the largest and most important date update the evolution of Star Citizen. It lifts the previously available only in single modules existing game to the level of a true alpha version with many basic features that come together in a small (not persistent) part of the Universe.
      The persistence, so the server-side storage (purchased with the new Alpha-currency) objects and marine and player states will be integrated in June 2016, version 2.4, which represents a further technological milestone. Outwardly this is not a very headline-grabbing thing for the development itself but extremely important: the back-end functionality is complete, the universe starts for players finally continuously to exist and no longer begins with each new login from the beginning.
      A big PR coup succeeds Roberts with the presentation of the procedural planet at Gamescom. In it he shows the approach to a planet, landing both on the surface and in a new landing zone and, based on an impressive, complete story mission. There are gun battles in zero gravity, vehicle hunts over the surface of the moon, and briefly is the interactivity of objects to see (a cargo box).
      Planets and their exploration were originally intended only for the period after release. But the Frankfurt studio has made extreme progress in the technology - so far that it on the CitizenCon are few weeks later another impressive presentation of procedural planet, including weather effects and a giant sandworm. All these things make 2016 more than 36 million dollars in funds for supporters financially most successful year for CIG.
      No Squadron 42
      Victims of this positive development is Squadron 42. The entire 2016 passes without there to see something new on the single-player campaign. On the CitizenCon an almost one-hour demo should be shown - shortly before the event but will be deleted . The reason is CIG to problems with the new AI and animations.
      "We want the crew pursues normal duties on a vessel and you can interact with them," Roberts tells us. "That's the AI page. But now we need to ensure that the behavior is associated with smooth animations, for example, if someone goes to a table, sits down, eats, gets up and goes away.
      There should be no change choppy, but a liquid movement pattern. But that will take longer than planned, and is one of the reasons why we have the demo not shown on CitizenCon. We're trying to achieve just the right level of detail, and that is definitely a big challenge. "
      Roberts suggests after CitizenCon that the demo would eventually refilled later. But even the latest live stream in 2016 goes by without news about Squadron 42. The impatience of many fans makes many, partly unobjective articles on Internet air. What is Roberts to when it massively hails criticism?
      In this project, things go very fast, even if it does not appear outwardly as if it would go ahead quickly. One constantly has the feeling: We need to finish getting this thing, we need that raushauen, people waiting on it. The community is awesome, but you already feel that they have a huge appetite for everything they can get. And if times a while nothing comes, then they are a bit grumpy. "
      Roberts adds:" People say, 'I want to have it now, I do not care if it is not working properly' And if you do them then. would show or give, they say: 'Hey, that works not at all, which does not look good "But apart from that it annoys me sometimes, I think that we have a very passionate, caring community that. provides us with valuable feedback. "
      Details need time
      Besides AI, the desired level of detail is another reason for shifts, even if the team is making good progress, as Roberts states. "Our goal is that you have while walking around on the Idris or in interactions with the crew, the quality of a cut scene. And there are, for example, problems with the lighting. We want to achieve a cinematic lighting and therefore we must highlight and shadow - and there are quite alone on the Idris thousands - adjust to achieve the right effect
      Another point is Object Container streaming, "Roberts says. »Squadron 42 takes place in a complete, open the solar system, in which you can travel freely between the planets. But you can not have all the data at once in memory, but you need so-called containers containing certain areas. "
      The streaming is also run always in the background, so that the player does not notice it, if a new field (or a new object container) is loaded into memory. "However, we need this technology not only for Squadron 42, but also for Update 3.0."
      Ever seems Update 3.0 and the associated features to have had a significant impact on the displacement of the single-player campaign at 2017. While the story of Squadron 42 with more than 1,250 pages of dialogue text already completed and the motion capture of high-profile actresses cast (including Gary Oldman, Mark Hamill, Gillian Anderson) are turned off, it is not merely the fine work that can last for anything longer.
      Technical advances such as the procedural planets are in fact also play a role. If you consider that the first major demonstration of the planetary art takes place only in August 2016, one can imagine that the implementation is in the single player campaign is not too long in labor.
      And then there's Item 2.0, a system that Roberts explained in our interview in connection with Update 3.0 (see box). This system will 42 raise the interactivity in Star Citizen and Squadron in to a whole new level.
      Quo vadis, Star Citizen?
      With the update 3.0 is to perhaps the greatest milestone in the history of development of the project. This Star Citizen would in fact be a full-fledged game, have implemented all the basics and provide enough content so that players can employ in the universe long first time (see box on the planned content of 3.0).
      On the CitizenCon 2016 Roberts makes this update again one of his now infamous date statements - even if vague: At that time there is, CIG would try 3.0 still bring out the end of 2016th Ultimately, they provide at this time (disrespectful words) "only" the release of Update 2.6 with Star Marine (see box).
      On the question of the status of Update 3.0 grins Roberts and raises both hands defensively, "I will no timetable or an assessment for an appointment rausgeben, but there is still much to do. For 3.0-Star Citizen is something like a complete game with all the important corners. "
      Then he goes into detail:" The main ingredients are all in work, but there are still a lot of minor things that need to be made, for example, air traffic controls over landing zones. There are only a certain number of landing zones and it can not land a thousand people at once. Therefore, to a meaningful system to be written, like a real airport. . Such things are not necessarily difficult, but a programmer needs for maybe three or four weeks, "
      Even things like boarding and security talks on Roberts:" At the moment, each a door open to a spaceship. With Item 2.0, you can close the doors of your spaceship. Then, when someone wants in, he must chop or break the door. "
      "So there is still this or that detail, and a multitude of other little things that all must be brought together," Roberts concludes. That does not sound like a release in the near future.
      "We've looked at 3.0 and said. We need that and that and that and then we found: Damn, that's more than has so many complete game. Therefore, we develop a detailed plan for all tasks and subtasks. If that is done, we will share this plan with the community. This is expected to be the case at some point in January, depending on when the production team the information gets from the project managers. "
      Thus, the time until then completely goes by without new content, there should be between updates, for example, improve the performance. Among other things, it is planned to increase the number of players who are adapting to a server in Crusader. Most of the work on performance and net code is published only with 3.0.
      The biggest challenge
      Because so goes according Roberts also perhaps the greatest challenge in the whole process along: "Probably the network setup and the network code are the biggest challenge, because the CryEngine is not really designed for a multiplayer game.
      In addition, it is very difficult to find good network programmers in the games area. Meanwhile, we have a good team, but for a long time we had a few people who have worked on it. And then added that we make a game that has a level of detail and accuracy such as Crysis, but as a multiplayer game and a much larger scale. "
      The importance that the CIG attaches a stable and powerful network that can be good at surprising Engine conversion to Lumberyard (see box) can be read, which has the connection to the global server system Amazons integrated directly.
      Roberts & Co. It is not enough to use traditional technical ways and improve. During the optimization of the network codes rather part of normal daily life in the development and maintenance of multiplayer games, CIG is constantly looking for ways to further develop the technology.
      The physical grid in Grid technology, the multi-crew mechanics makes it all possible (whereby, for example, a player in a spaceship stands quietly on the spot, while the ship itself in space flying wild maneuvers), is a good example.
      Item 2.0 is another example of how Roberts explains in detail: "Among other things we are working on a kind of entities Planner and -Updater. Actually Item 2.0 is more an Entity 2.0. Entity is in game development is a collective term for any object in the game, it was a spaceship, a player or a weapon. In the new implementation, which is introduced with Item 2.0, these entities have their own components. You take just one entity and packst various components in, for example, a physics or graphics or radar component. "
      The entity spacecraft can thus for example, a physics component are attached, allowing gravity inside the ship. "So we have rewritten the engine based on the components, which you take individual functions're stuck on an entity and thus determine what this entity can. And that is updated quite different: Some components are updated every few minutes, others second.
      Thus, the outputting of information is much more efficient. In the old version, each entity has been updated in each frame, which is totally inefficient. And therefore, we have revised the basic systems, which now coincides more with modern engine development. For these changes, we focus on 3.0. Some improvements can be found being observed at 2.6, but the majority is planned for 3.0. "
      Lots of space, lots of content?
      In addition to improving performance, this system allows especially even more opportunities for developers to fill the gigantic worlds that are to open up in the Star Citizen universe. Even the Homestead demo of the CitizenCon impressed us with a huge planet, with almost unlimited amount of space. Each audience shot involuntarily the question through my head: How can this massive room, these many planned giant planets are filled with meaningful content?
      The creation of a complete planet to the designers, if all tools are completely finished, cost no more than a week's work. "The goal is to have templates for specific ecosystems, such as mountain ranges or deserts. From this range of templates, the artist can then a planetary environment "painting", for example, as Tatooine or Hoth.
      Based on this, we work alongside the major landing areas like Area 18 ArcCorp of modular sets of outposts, which can be composed differently from the artists depending on the environment, such as a settlement, there a few farms. Based on these sets the area is then automatically populated, unless the artist overrides the manual. "
      Part of the content and quests is generated from the respective ecosystem. The emissions system also includes procedural influences, for example, certain resources and, based on a specific freight line. "Then pirates may appear that in turn make escort for cargo required and so on. There will be a kind of complete set of rules between AI and players, making it permanently are ways to make money and to do some stuff. "
      In addition, there should be on all planets and some stations special missions that are offered depending on the player's reputation and availability of Quest. Such orders are made composite by designers blocks and should be clearly distinguishable from the things that make the player normally.
      "The idea is that you run around and all that are doing what you normally do, for example, be. And if things go well, certain issues are eventually available, something like Super missions. The do not you ever do or more but succession thereof. There are special missions, specific features, in addition to the normal activities with other players or the AI. "
      Home, Sweet Home
      Presented from the order to constantly have motivational content before and become long-term commitment to the game? Roberts enough that - surprise! - not. And that is why Star Citizen will sooner or later offer a complete sandbox, including housing. Goods initially maximum apartments planned in cities or in stations, the new technology around Item 2.0 and the entities system makes a lot more possible.
      . Chris Roberts: "There will be the opportunity for players to build their own homes or outposts" How is that possible, it leads immediately afterwards technically made "freight - ie crates or boxes, which are made for example in the cargo hold of a Freelancer - is stored in a persistent database.
      »The same technique is used when a player discards important items at a location on a planet. You can go away and come back later and the items will resurface because they are stored in the online database. For us there is no difference between a rifle, a box, a room or home - these are all items in the same item system ".
      Item 2.0 is to allow not only a more efficient flow of information on the technical side and higher interactivity on the gameplay side ie, the system thinks much larger: "One of the plans is to allow players with their ships to fly somewhere and build a home , For example, to portray a small power plant, and then perhaps to protect a radar jammer, so it is not detected.
      "Then, the power plant is connected to a turret, so it creates its own small base. When Tony [Zurovec, responsible for the persistent universe in Star Citizen] talked about farming it was, in principle, exactly that, somewhere to have an outpost and there to plant things and to harvest. "
      Of course there will be limitations, who does what where and how much must build. "Finally, not every player his own Megacity pull" quips Roberts. "But I can imagine organizations somewhere build a small base, perhaps near some resources that break them down or sell me. And then listen to another organization of and attacks them with space ships and land vehicles. "That sounds a bit like the EVE-online dynamic that always brings forth by dominated by players systems and stations major conflicts, involved in some thousands of players are. In this way sandbox contents to be inserted, which do not require emissions but just happen. "Once all the parts are developed and introduced for the players will be able to create their own content. That's one of the rules in the development of Star Citizen that the systems are flexible enough to allow such things.
      Of course, this is also one of the reasons why it takes longer, since such systems must be built in a certain way. But ultimately I think about the game and the game is better in the long run. Because we give players a sandbox and say: Hey, you always wanted in a science fiction universe to live? Here it is!"
      A big cauldron boils slowly
      With this we are at the core of this patience game that Star Citizen called: It is not the game that 2012 was touted in a Kickstarter campaign. Had it remained with the few million dollars from October 2012, then Star Citizen would probably already finished. However, we would then get only the things that would have been possible with the traditional technique.
      About 1.7 million supporters have the financial framework, now with $ 140 million but such reamed that Roberts "ballpark" Star Citizen simply no longer comes into question. Meanwhile, from a technical summit become, the less intended, after all nothing more than to lie absolutely the best space game ever. Even if Roberts does not explicitly say, you can tell him with every word, with every gesture. There's someone here with enormous passion. Someone who only the best is good enough.
      One may accuse Roberts megalomania, however, speak his previous technical success for him. For more and more playing on safety games industry that rarely even take a risk or something truly groundbreaking new venture, the project is certainly much needed breath of fresh air.
      Whether it really is as good in the end, as the Roberts would like, we will find out all probability even, perhaps even this year. However, as with a rise in the unknown regions of a high mountain, we a significant degree will it still have to be patient.
    • By Chimaera
      Hey all, I've written up my personal thoughts on CitizenCon. Being a writer, I tend to be a bit long-winded and article-focused, so I have written this as I would if I was writing an informative/opinion piece for a news site or blog. Feel free to read and express your thoughts, but please don't turn this thread into a flame-fest.
       
      CitizenCon Post-Event Analysis: Success or Missed Opportunity?
      By: Aaron McGill
       

      Fresh off of an impressive Gamescom presentation, and beginning to benefit from largely positive press after the debacle that was “No Man’s Sky”, Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) went into its fourth anniversary CitizenCon with a number of questions that needed answered:
       
      What do you do when you have built up extreme hype and expectations around your game? What do you do when even gaming media, which had been highly critical of you for years, begin to admit that maaaaybe they’ve been mistaken? What do you do when you’ve had a marketing coup that leads to the single best day in Star Citizen’s crowdfunding history?  
      The obvious answer is that you try to deliver a massively impressive show during your namesake convention. Such an impressive show that you give your community and the world the confidence that your game is worth the hype and expectations.
       
      The question now is, did CIG deliver that knockout blow, or did they possibly miss an opportunity to silence a majority of their critics?
       
      The general consensus among most backers on a multitude of forums and social media seems to be “both”.  So let’s take some time to break down the criticisms and positive reactions to some of the key parts of the presentation and see if they are valid, or if there are reasonable explanations for CIG’s actions.
       
      If we look at the presentation, there are three areas that many backers have criticized CIG for: major criticism of the length of pre-presentation time spent on “history of the game”, development updates, and community “fluff”; mixed feelings about the Spectrum community reveal; and extreme criticism of the lack of a Squadron 42 reveal and the delay announcement. However, there was a general positive reception to the “direction of the game” discussion, and a massive level of excitement for the 3.0 v2 reveal. Let’s take a look at these one at a time.
       
      Over an hour of pre-presentation “fluff”.  
       
      This has been the second-most negative complaint that has been voiced against the entire presentation. While it can be understood that backers and CitizenCon goers would want to see the “meat and potatoes” as soon as possible, there are a few factors to consider.
       
      1. While the community is large, and many backers have been around for at least 1-2 years, there have been over 500,000 new accounts created since the last CitizenCon. That’s over half a million people who may not know the full details, or may be a bit fuzzy on what the “official story” of Star Citizen development looks like. This would definitely make a “flashback/history” part of the presentation worth it, especially given recent gaming news articles.
       
      2. Speaking of recent articles, a multi-part “several month long” investigation article into CIG was released by Kotaku UK just before CitizenCon. With Kotaku being one of the most viewed gaming “news” outlets, and given the negative press that has stalked Star Citizen in the past, it would make sense that CIG would want to set aside part of the convention to “set the record straight via facts”. Glaring errors in the article, such as incorrect length of time of development, to the number of offices and staff were key parts that the Kotaku - and other - gaming articles got wrong. Setting this record straight not only would help CIG address the errors, but also serve as official responses in the public record for the future.
       
      3. Acknowledging the community is an absolute necessity. CIG has very little in the way of marketing or advertising outside of the actions of the fans. From Twitch streamers to digital radio, Star Citizen has grown largely on the back of the fans’ word of mouth, and very little from things like short advertisements for Comcast or partnerships with AMD and Intel. To not acknowledge this and devote some time to giving facetime to the community and some of the streamers would be tantamount to blatantly ignoring their biggest fans and advocates who have helped them grow to the level of unbeatable in crowdfunding.
       
      4. Finally, CIG has done segments of this nature before. While they haven’t been quite as LONG as before, or featured as many members of the community, they still have a precedent for having this as a standard part of the program.
       
      When we take these factors together it appears that while the pre-show was inundated with “fluff”, all of it has a fairly legitimate purpose. What most people appear to question is the length of time, which was definitely much longer than previous ones. There is a probable explanation for this, but it will be discussed later in this article. Now, let’s take a look at the community side of things and the “Spectrum” reveal.
       
      Is this Discord or what?
      As CIG surprised everyone with the reveal of Orgs 2.x, now known as “Spectrum”, one of the most common observations from viewers and attendees was something to the effect of, “Isn’t this Discord?” Turbulent outlined the revamps of the Orgs system and the way that the community would be able to interact and communicate with each other through RSI, but the reactions were mixed. Much of the material shown looked very much like a mishmash of Discord, Twitter, and Facebook, with a huge emphasis on the front end of the new tool. There was very little said about any improvements to organization management aspects of the tool, and none of the criticisms of the current Orgs system were addressed in any way. *(See Special Note)
      To be fair, this is the first iteration of what is supposed to be an evolving system. It’s designed to make good on the “mobile ap” stretch goal, integrate voice and text into the RSI site and systems.  Future iterations are supposed to allow a user a large amount of capability for managing their in-game even when they aren’t logged in, much in the way Assassin’s Creed IV allowed people to manage their pirate fleets even when not playing the game. However, none of this actually addresses the flaws with the current systems.
      That being said, this entire segment of the presentation seemed a bit half-done. The presenters seemed underprepared and the information provided would’ve had a better place in an ATV or RTV video. It hurt the overall flow of the presentation, and for an audience online and in-house of over 30,000 people, it dampened the enthusiasm quite a bit for the upcoming segments of the presentation. Even the “plan for the game” segment generated muted enthusiasm from viewers and audience members alike.
       
      The plan!
      After a rousing reaction to the “Militia Mobilization Initiative” sale trailer, and the varying to negative reactions to SQ42 segment that will be discussed later, Chris Roberts began discussing the future of the Star Citizen development cycle. There was a generally positive, thought muted, reaction from viewers and audience members alike when the reveal plan for the future iterations of 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, and 4.0 were unveiled. While specific sections related to Mining, the Banu Merchantman, and a few others seemed quite positive, the previous two segments had really dampened a lot of the enthusiasm at this CitizenCon.
      A lack of a schedule of release for the different iterations, as well as a non-release date for 2.6 also added to the dampening of enthusiasm. However, the audience and many viewers kept positive attitudes and listened eagerly to Chris Roberts explain the different phases and what they would bring to backers before finally getting to the big reveal of the night, 3.0 v2.
       
      HOLY PROCEDURAL PLANET, BATMAN!
      The beginning of the presentation seemed very scripted and staged, but given that it was meant to showcase planet-sized procedural generation of detailed environments, that was to be expected. People cheered and laughed as the camera passed a man on a mountain top who shouted, “Happy CitizenCon!” Gasps of awe and cheers were audible as the detailed procedural lighting and environments, ones to rival most pre-crafted AAA games began to come into view. The dynamic weather system awed this author the most, as detailed clouds, storms, and weather systems were shown from first a space-eye view, and then carried through as the camera and Constellation navigated the air. The reveal of the rover, and the subsequent sequences showcasing the size, space, and detail of the procedural environment were breathtaking. Sequences of combat, and the reveal of the massive alien at the end were amazing.
       
      The feat that CIG has made with procedural generation and planets is astounding and CIG should be celebrated for it. They only began experimenting with procedural generation in the last two years, and they have come up with planetary-scale procedural generation including plants, trees, terrain variations, weather patterns, lighting patterns, and more in levels of detail that are unparalleled so far. People have no idea what it takes to make something like that work and work well, and because of recent “procedurally generated” games that have been real flops, a lot of people don’t put much thought into the achievement and the effort that it takes to get something like what CIG revealed for 3.0 v2. It also doesn’t help that this seemed like just a furthering of the same content that was shown at Gamescom, so the attitude of “seen it” abounded throughout much of the community. This reveal, while it was unbelievably awesome and deserved a much better response, was given a very lukewarm reception because CIG fumbled in a very, very big way with Squadron 42, and they will need to figure out what they need to do to fix the mess they put themselves into.
       
      The great disappointment.
       
      The elephant in the room has been left until last for a reason. The Squadron 42 segment and delay cast a huge wet blanket upon the entire event. CIG had spent the last months building up the hype for Squadron 42. It was implied and stated by multiple CIG staff, including Chris Roberts, that Gamescom was for the Persistent Universe, and CitizenCon would be for Squadron 42. The reality was, not only would there no Squadron 42 reveals, there would also be confirmation that delays for Squadron 42 were no longer rumors. While a delay has been rumored about for several months, the fact that CIG chose their signature event to announce the delay, after having built up hype specifically for Squadron 42 in the weeks and months prior to CitizenCon, was a one-two punch that many backers are still reeling from. Not since the days of the Arena Commander delay has there been such a level of distress from backers.
       
      It didn’t need to be this way, and it most likely wasn’t meant to be this way. Everything leading up to CitizenCon was aiming toward a Squadron 42 reveal of some sort. Even the commercial for the Militia Mobilization Initiative fit into the theme of Squadron 42. Whether the reveal would be coupled with a delay was not an unexpected outcome, but to have nothing more than a couple of slides in the middle of a largely lackluster presentation was a slap in the face for many backers. It didn’t feel right, and it didn’t seem right whatsoever to have had so much of a build-up to such a crashing disappointment.
       
      The following is speculation, but educated speculation. What is most likely the case is that CIG planned everything as the hype led backers to believe. Squadron 42 was going to be showcased at CitizenCon, and it was going to be the follow-up explosive reveal to capitalize upon the positive-leaning press and the massive hype that Gamescom brought to CIG. Unfortunately, something went wrong with Squadron 42 to the point where it was most likely determined that CIG needed to revert to a “Plan B” scenario. Everything, from the over-long fluff content, to the out-of-place Turbulent presentation, to the odd pacing of the different segments, to the jarring and disjointed way the delay announcement was handled all point to this being a last-second change to a well-crafted event. Unfortunately, that’s not the part about this entire affair that is the most disheartening for backers.
       
      What has disheartened backers the most is that CIG, despite the community’s past showing of how understanding and forgiving that it could be, didn’t communicate with the backers. In a time where the gaming world is still reeling from the massive disappointment that was “No Man’s Sky”, and with Hello Games complete silence on the matter of the speedy rise and fall of its over-hyped game, gamers are leery when developers over-hype and then don’t deliver. CIG would have had a much better reception to the entire event had they communicated early on about the challenges and problems that Squadron 42 was facing. Choosing to use CitizenCon as the place to announce a delay to the very part of the game that was supposed to be the event’s showcase was a massive misstep on the part of CIG and their PR department. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that CIG’s PR has been less than adequate, and it sadly won’t be the last, but that doesn’t help backers who are feeling put out by the way that everything was handled for this event. Even with this disappointment though, there is hope for the future.
       
      The future is...SoonTM.
       
      While there are many valid and understandable reasons for the ups and downs experienced by CIG regarding this CitizenCon, it’s pretty clear that this was a missed opportunity in many ways. It was a missed opportunity for CIG to maximize their hype levels for the game, while also showcasing their oft-touted transparency by revealing before CitizenCon that the main event would not feature Squadron 42 as its centerpiece. This was an avoidable PR mess, yes, but we backers still have been shown more than we could’ve dreamed would be possible all those years ago. Disappointment is understandable, but not the levels of vitriol that are being seen on some sites. Chris Roberts has stated we will see more on Squadron 42, 2.6, and 3.0 before the end of the year, and CIG will very likely deliver on that soon.
       
      That being said, the community needs to understand one fundamental fact: Chris Roberts has a vision for this huge and ambitious game that leads to a game done right. This is his legacy, and he will do everything in his power to see it successful. The achievements in technology and gameplay showcased at Gamescom and Citizencon that CIG have reached are leaps and bounds above what we were expecting when we first backed this project. These achievements are all thanks to we backers’ belief and continued support in the project. As we pass the fourth anniversary of the beginning of this incredible journey, don’t get stuck on a PR mishap and disappointing convention; instead, celebrate that we’re one year closer to living our dreams of space exploration and adventure that this game will deliver!



       
      Special Note: This author was a part of a feedback group for Turbulent following the release of Orgs 1.0 and 1.5. The organization I am a part of, as well as several other large organizations were asked to provide feedback, criticisms, and suggestions to Turbulent on what we would like, want, and needed. An overwhelming amount of the feedback expressed an urgent need for management tools to allow for easier managing of large numbers of members, and additions of ranks or roles, modifications of permissions beyond the limited values shown, as well as a list of things that were less urgent. After submitting that feedback, we never heard from Turbulent again, and attempts to reach out to Turbulent were met with silence.
       
      Sorry about the weird spacing folks, copy-paste did weird things...
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