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Chimaera

CitizenCon Post-Event Analysis: Success or Missed Opportunity?

33 posts in this topic

Star-Citizen-RSI-Polaris-LTI-Corvette-or

 

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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After submitting that feedback, we never heard from Turbulent again, and attempts to reach out to Turbulent were met with silence.

It sounds like Turbulent needs to go to the waste bin like 3/4 of all the other companies CIG has worked with in the past. Over all good write up, and I agree that playing the "SoonTM" game is getting a little old. I do however have to agree with CR, that releasing a product too earlier for players and critics is a bad idea, considering the amount of biased 3rd party game news companies watching CIG.

GeraldEvans likes this

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Yep. The worst critics can say is look, it's not ready. Hah, they didn't meet the deadline.

That is so much better to hear than, 'Omg, that is so bad as a finished product that it's being pulled from market.'

Arkham Knight anyone?

WarWulf, Donut and Fintz like this

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Still turbulent made the Star Map which was impressive. Am not sure CIG can take their share of work in-house.

Nope. That's a whole different toolset.

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Very well written article Chimaera. I agree with your speculative thoughts concerning why the CitizenCon presentation went the way that it did. I know some people are not thrilled about what the Orgs 2.0 has become, but I must say I do like some of the features that they're going to try and incorporate (i.e. friend locations, updated forums, etc.) however there are some features I'm not sure are going to get a lot of usage simply because there are already alternatives in place for those things or just not a lot of possible usages at least in my mind (Discord-esque chat and the mobile app come to mind). Even though I'm not a huge fan of Squadron 42 due to it being a single-player experience. I was a little disappointed by the lack of any Squadron 42 footage and I also felt that the UEE ship advertisement was a terrible decision on the part of CIG. I realize this is their own event but I felt they were forcing ships down our throats so-to-speak. Ultimately though, events can and sometimes will be big flops. CIG just has to learn from its' mistakes and move forward. 

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My quick take on this topic is (from row 3 front and center); spectrum, which really isnt orgs 2.0 but rather "comms for orgs 1.0" is only the first iteration of this new plateform. With that said, i was disappointed that there was no true orgs 2.0 functionally/toolsets mentioned.. which is really what all the big orgs truely need.

AstroJak

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I just thought we would have updates to the Admin side of organizational system. Some, in my opinion, really simple things that would have made me happy. Overall, I'd say this was a bit of a flop.

I understand what they were going for and i feel like they are trying to compete with already established forms of communication (I.E. Discord and TeamSpeak). I'd like to see less reinventing the wheel and more simple fixes to what they have.

Positives were, i think, the forums getting a new look and possibly being faster.

AHomelessWalrus likes this

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Good write-up Chimaera. I think you summed up the situation pretty nicely. I certainly agree with you on the cause of the excessive "fluff" throughout the presentation, it really felt like a lot of the stuff they were showing off besides the gameplay demo was hastily thrown together last minute to fill time for the unexpected absence of SQ42 content. While I understand their reasoning there, I feel like they may have gotten a better reception by simply cutting the presentation's total duration down instead. It felt almost like a chore to sit through the livestream after the demo had ended, and the only thing that kept me watching to the end was the thought in the back of my head that perhaps they would have one last surprise to show off, but unfortunately that hope did not come to fruition. Overall, the excessively long show, combined with the flop that was the Spectrum reveal, led to what was, in my opinion, the most lackluster CitCon we've seen to date. Very disappointing. 

Donut likes this

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Let's just say that... It was a huge failure and we basically got the second half of Gamescon.

 

SC news.png

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So many mixed emotions surrounding this presentation. My only thought is that they maybe should have skipped the gamescom event like they were intending on doing in the first place. Don't get me wrong, the content that was shown was amazing, but in many peoples opinions it was the same as gamescom. Which it is really not, but perception is reality, so if people didn't get out of it what CIG was hoping then it was just more of the same.

I find it amusing to a point that some folks are complaining about the CIG history lesson at the start of the event. Do we not understand that CitCon is supposed to be a celebration of the community and the progress that community has helped foster since the beginning? While it may be boring to hear, since most of us understand where this all comes from, I thought it was okay. Maybe next time they could do it without the power point. I can't stand power point presentations!

As far as the SQ42 "delay" and lack of content shown at the presentation, you can argue the point all day long, but it still stands that if Chris is not satisfied enough with the content...he's not going to show it. Which is exactly what he said in an interview with Gamers Nexus at the event after the presentation.

All in all I didn't think it was bad but it did lack the really big WOW factor that most of us were expecting since it fell to close to the heels of the gamescom event. 

Nocmad, Cincinnatus, WarWulf and 1 other like this

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---I FIND YOUR LACK OF FAITH DISTURBING---

I appreciate the feeling that everyone has about the "ORG 2.0" presentation. It's my personal belief that this will get better as it is implemented over several updates. So, far Chris has listened to the fans and updated or headed in a direction that everyone has liked so far. I think he will be able to pull it off even if ORG 2.0 in its initial version is wonky at first.

In all the MMOs that I have ever played the in-game organizational tools have always been lacking. That is the reason that the free market has provided us TS, Ventrilo, and Disqus among many other platforms. Every organization that I have been in over the years has made different decisions of which platform to use based on their own "preference".  

Even if Chris gets this perfect these and other various products will continue to exist and or adapt to become better than their in-game alternatives. If there is any doubt about this look at the various major organizations in EVE. Almost every one of them had a large out of game technology or software platform to assist in doing some kind of activity in game that the internal game mechanic did not allow... Mining Buddy etc.

We as an organization need to come to the hard realization that no gaming company ever gets this right, and create/acquire a social system or tool that helps us to organize in a way that makes us more productive and happy with the outcome. That is the best we can hope for because history is against any gaming company solving the social organization management and in game communication equation.

"I'm Altering The Deal. Pray I Don't Alter It Any Further."

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Donut's image is exactly what I expected to happen, and why I REALLY HOPE CIG has a PR plan in place to get ahead of the narrative before things spiral out of control.

radoorid likes this

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3 minutes ago, Chimaera said:

Donut's image is exactly what I expected to happen, and why I REALLY HOPE CIG has a PR plan in place to get ahead of the narrative before things spiral out of control.

Yeah that is why I am worried. 

AHomelessWalrus likes this

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Spectacular post and a very intelligent and level headed review. I'm in disagreement with nothing in your post Chimaera, and nearly nothing in the comments.

I would add that the increasingly content rich AtVs and especially Games Con may have cannibalized a bit from the pool of ready to release information that would have been ideal for this Citizen Con. It felt as though much of what was presented was rushed in comparison to the 3.0 Demo. Squadron 42 Demo was attempted but still not up to par with the quality Chris was hoping for. Perhaps the biggest error CIG made was simply a logistical one. Committing to two large Demo oriented events spaced only a month or so apart.

As for Turbulent, I feel some compassion for the tight spot they are in. They are not in the same business as the rest of CIG. They cannot simply reinvent the internet the way CIG has done with the Crysis Engine. While the Discord comparisons are appropriate, they are often dismissive of the advantages of having a major game integrate in this way. This could well start a trend of other major developers create their own "Discords" the way they have created their own Steam like launchers. Looking at Origin, Blizzard, Arc, Ubisoft and others. This means more competition and creativity in the market place. Can this be a bad thing for the external VoIP users? I look at China's WeChat app and how it developed into a conglomerate of Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and more and I see an opportunity for us as a community to mold this new Spectrum concept into something as revolutionary and groundbreaking as the rest of Chris' game.

That said, I might have put the Turbulent demonstration just prior to the birthday celebration as it would have been better to wind down with it, than to have opened.

I thought the filler interviews were very well done and yet another demonstration of consistent improvement by the community team. We who were watching Trophius' stream understood why there was a need for an hour long delay as there were still untamed hordes clawing at the facade of the building trying to get out of the heat and into the venue. Were I to have a complaint, it would be a matter of these logistical errors that seem to have been made. What caused such a delay, and would certain segments have done better at different times. Even so, hindsight is 20/20 and there is far more that I do not know than I can pretend to.

All in all, I'm as fervent a fan as ever.

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Dissapointed, its sub-par compared to AtV... most of those stuff shown, we already knew were coming. Only cheesey bit was the Sandworm of Arrakis, apart from that... lacklustre. Boring. /shuts of twitch.

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Excellent post, I think they lost a lot of momentum in the presentation with the roll out when Chris was saying that each new iteration 3.1, 3.2 etc would take circa 3 months to get to release which suggests the roll out for the PU will not be till late 2017/early 2018. However in relation to Sq42 no demo was not great but a bad demo could have been really damaging. Plus based on CIG progress to date it is not beyond possibility that as they get closer to finishing, and resource becomes available, so the roll out actually speeds up. In which case Sq42 in Q1-2 2017 may not be an impossibility.

Also just because I don't think it can be said too much, the PU looks fantastic :)

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Good writeup! Regarding Squadron 42, it really does seem like something was going to be included in the show but ended up getting removed and the rest of the presentation suffered pacing-wise because of that. But having spoken to Erin for just a little bit, we can hopefully expect a Squadron 42 demo mission or chapter Soontm as they're working on a vertical slice which doesn't need every system which will be featured.

From some chatter I overheard, 2.6 could potentially drop in the next few weeks pending QA's approval.

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To add to your point about the Turbulent thing being half-done, I do not think they had planned to show it until the last minute - the guy presenting was supposed to be at Bar Citizen Montreal, as per a conversation I heard at the Bar....

Nicely written article though - agree with it 100%

 

Edit: Doesn't change my stance though - I believe!

Ostia likes this

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24 minutes ago, Ricko13 said:

To add to your point about the Turbulent thing being half-done, I do not think they had planned to show it until the last minute - the guy presenting was supposed to be at Bar Citizen Montreal, as per a conversation I heard at the Bar....

Nicely written article though - agree with it 100%

 

Edit: Doesn't change my stance though - I believe!

That simply confirms my speculation. Thanks Ricko!

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@Chimaera Excellent article, thanks for that!

I've given my 2cts a few times elsewhere so I'll keep this one short.
No SQ42 left a little bitter taste in my mouth and I hope a timely release of 2.6 and 3.0 will take some of that away.
I hope CIG learns from their mistakes this CitizenCon and makes up for it in the months to come. If they can keep to their scedule of post 3.0 patches and perhaps have the previously planned sq42 demo out in the coming few weeks, I think we will quickly forget about this bump in the road.

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      Was initially a manageable project with classic space dogfights, and a single-player campaign (Squadron 42) planned, the steady stream of money will soon generate a rapidly growing extent. Chris Roberts: "When we took more and more money, we said: Hey, we now have the ability to do it the way we really want to do it. The challenge was to get everything together to create a reasonable workflow. "That should be more difficult than thought. Cloud Imperium Games must establish from scratch a complete studio structure. Next to the studio in Austin come 2013 Locations Santa Monica and Manchester (United Kingdom) to do so. In addition, Roberts relies on contract studios as Behaviour Interactive ( WET , 2009), IllFonic (see box) and Moon Collider (Kythera-KI).
      The multi-pronged development of single-player campaign, multiplayer universe and the live operation of the playable modules (hangar and Arena Commander) requires far more specialists than are present. We are looking for highly experienced software developers who are familiar with the CryEngine and write tools for designers. But which are then few and far between, which causes delays in operation. Often the required tools are simply not available in time. Only with the decline of Crytek UK relaxes the situation on the personnel front: After Crytek in April 2014 can no longer pay salaries, engages Cloud Imperium Games there from a number CryEngine specialists. End of 2014 CIG already employs around 180 staff. However, pushing once other structural problems in the foreground.
      IllFonic worked since 2013 with the development of Star Marine, the first-person shooter module for Star Citizen. As their work with levels that were built directly in CIG, should be merged, a catastrophe occurs: IllFonics assets have the wrong scale and do not fit into the CIG-Level!
      "Although it looked as if it were almost ready, but did not work the last 20 percent at the end, and we had to unravel it all over again and start from the beginning," explained Roberts. The throws back the entire development. CIG draws conclusions and begins to unite most of the elements of the development under their own roof. This includes the shooter module and the AI that at Moon Collider was in work to date and is now further developed in the new Frankfurt studio.
      Additionally begun better to delegate powers and responsibilities. Foundry 42, the CIG Centre in Manchester, is developed in the Squadron 42, serves as a role model. Chris Roberts' brother Erin and some of his colleagues had previously worked for years at the lego game and knew how efficient studio structure works. Their knowledge is gradually applied to all studios of Cloud Imperium Games.
      At the same time the shortage of skilled labor decreases slowly: "We've got some really great people, for example, the Frankfurt studio is obviously very good for us have been. There we had a lot of people who were familiar with the engine and have contributed much to the planet technology and other things, "explained Roberts. "We now have a really strong team, which is at least as good as any team in the games industry."
      Extensive Engine Changes
      Having a good team is one thing, the appropriate technical basis the other. Roberts was and is scolded by media and critics repeatedly for his choice of CryEngine: She was not meant for multiplayer player of this magnitude, so the frequently voiced criticism.
      Basically, that's not wrong. The originally planned Star Citizen version had a much smaller scale and significantly fewer features. However, with the financial encouragement by the fans grew the possibilities many times over - and thus the demands on the engine. This makes extensive revisions to the CryEngine necessary.
      One of the biggest restructuring on the CryEngine is the conversion to 64-bit double-precision, culminating with the release of Update 2.0 end, 2015. Until then, the CryEngine runs with 32-bit precision, which only a few square kilometers allows big maps.
      "Most engines work with 32-bit," explains Roberts 2015 compared to the British magazine PC Games Network. "This works well for a first-person shooter or an Overlap shooter where you have only a few square kilometers of areas. But we are in space, we are thousands, millions kilometers. "
      This precise travel within such gigantic maps is possible, the engine must be adjusted to 64-bit. In addition to this construction site and the network code is newly reissued (the work it continues to this day). Around 50 percent of the engine had been previously adapted to individual needs, gave the Frankfurt studio boss Brian Chambers in an interview at the Gamescom 2016 Protocol.
      Although this work required a lot of time and effort, but results are already visible today. Already in the persistent world of current Star Citizen-Alpha (around the planet Crusader), players can explore an impressive 400 quadrillion cubic kilometers Space (official figure). Of course, the majority of "only" empty space, but the technology behind it seems to work fine - apart from some serious server lags.
      With the complete Stanton-star systems in the Alpha 3.0 the card size should even grow. But all these basic work costs much more time than originally planned. And that is reflected especially in the public perception down - no player like delays.
      Gaming expectations
      Despite a largely open development, which is accompanied by a detailed monthly reports from the studios and weekly video formats, not tearing the partial unobjective from criticism. Non-compliance with deadlines and the development time can be found again and again in the crossfire.
      In the original Kickstarter campaign it was then: "After twelve months (which would have been starting from campaign statements the end of 2013) we will allow the early supporters to play the multiplayer Space-Combat-Alpha and other 20 to 22 months (ie the end of 2015) they are the Star Citizen Beta play [...] "And do not forget. Squadron 42 should also be delivered already the end of 2014 to the supporters. The Arena Commander, so the multiplayer Space Combat module appears, in June 2014, six months after the original target date. Already at this point it is clear that the originally mentioned dates can be reached in no way realistic, because the millions of dollars raining for some time in a weekly cycle on CIGS accounts and allow much more features than originally planned. Roberts is considering shortly after the release of the Arena commander to refrain from further Stretch Goals and provides the public with reaching the 46-million-dollar mark for grabs.
      Some 35,000 supporters from voting, 55 percent are for more Stretch Goals, 26 percent opposed and 20 percent other it does not matter. The desire of supporters there are correspondingly more so, in some cases very complex objectives as detailed AI activities and improved modularity for spaceships. Only when the 65-million-dollar mark end of 2014 draws Roberts a definitive line under the Stretch Goals. Had Roberts against the supporters might have to make clear that will significantly extend the waiting time for a finished Star Citizen through more content? "If I go back and would not change a thing, then, that I would say much more clearly: The more Stretch Goals and features are in it, the more complicated it is, the longer it will take," Roberts shows insightful.
      "Looking back, I would have time to much more energetic point out," The boss can develop it but even not go fast enough. "I'm a bit like our Supported and a little impatient," he says. "I wish we had a few things much further.
      "It might like to go a little faster, but we have a great team, and when I look around, I see people who often work longer because they are with heart and soul into it. So if it takes longer, it is not because that is not working hard, but in the development process of a project with this scope and complexity. "
      Dates called Roberts Although no longer as free from the liver away like a year ago. But now and then he is still (much more carefully formulated) data in views that do not work in the end and the impatience of some supporters fueling yet - as the review of the 2016 shows.
      Price of Progress
      The many small and large restructuring of 2014 and 2015 have an effect. The end of 2015 published CIG the first big update for Alpha. With version 2.0 Crusader comes into play, a huge map with various stations, the first missions and basic shooter mechanics that work even in the new EVA mode (Extra-Vehicular Activity, Activities in zero gravity). The Multi Crew feature shown only in August is also attended and players can at service stations carry out repairs and replenish ammunition.
      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 Fintz
      An Impressive Article,considering the other ones out there, regarding the Star Citizen Development and an in depth look of the troubles they faced. Beware it is a long read.
      Source: http://www.kotaku.co.uk/2016/09/23/inside-the-troubled-development-of-star-citizen?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Facebook&utm_source=Kotaku_Facebook&utm_medium=Socialflow
    • By VoA
      An interesting article on Scale (size of the sandbox)..... as it relates to Star Citizen.  See link below or spoiler...
      Space To Ground: Matters of Scale in Level Design
       
    • By VoA
      Massively Overthinking: The Star Citizen money machine   <<-- See link or Spoiler below...