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Star Citizen Examined

There's a lengthy article on Kotaku UK called "Inside the Troubled Development of Star Citizen." This is the latest look at development of Cloud Imperium's space game, famed for its record-setting crowdfunding efforts. The article tracks down former developers from the project and discusses the pressing questions of what's taking so long and what are they doing with all that money. One of the answers that keeps coming up is feature creep, and for a bit of equal time, PCGamesN has several quotes from project lead Chris Roberts responding to the points raised. The intro lays out the issues:

Star Citizenís development has been high-profile enough, expensive enough and, yes, troubled enough to spawn a whole ecosystem of theories as to whatís going on at Cloud Imperium Games, from theorising about the projectís technical challenges to wild accusations about whatís happening to the money. Various community scandals have added yet more fuel to the fire, turning Star Citizen into a lightning rod for controversy. The questions I wanted answers to were: what exactly has been happening over the past five years? What are the reasons behind Star Citizenís various delays, and what specific development problems has it encountered? Have things been mismanaged? And, as many Star Citizen backers are now beginning to wonder, can it ever actually be finished?

Chasing this information has not been easy. Thereís a reason that many of the sources in articles like this are usually anonymous: people fear both legal and professional repercussions for speaking out. In the course of contacting over 100 different people while researching Star Citizenís development, I was told by multiple sources that they were worried about legal repercussions if they spoke to the press. Speaking out publicly about a previous employer carries professional peril, too; prospective future employers may see you as a risky hire. Nonetheless, over the course of the year we found that many of the people who had worked on Star Citizen were willing to talk about their experiences, which painted a picture of a development process riven by technical challenges, unrealistic expectations and internal strife.

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87 Replies. 5 pages. Viewing page 1.
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87. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 27, 2016, 18:56 descender
 
It's hard for me to take any of these posts seriously so that one is no different.

There is plenty to dislike about the way the project has been handled, and now people should know why you don't just give money over blindly to developers and why they need to go through proper methods of funding so they can be held legally accountable. The incessant whining from people refusing to learn that lesson is getting really fucking old though. Has CIG missed deadlines? Yes. Do you know why? Because they can. They have no one to answer to anymore because the people who bought $100mil worth of make-believe ships let them off that hook.

The original "backers" got fucked by a failed KS project. This isn't anything new... but CIG didn't "fuck up" in any way by taking all of this money people were willing to hand over essentially with no questions asked. Blame the people who bought these ships direct from CIG, they are the real reason this project hasn't been released yet.

There is no merit in the methods people have used to attempt to smear CIG. Bring me facts with sources about how CIG is being mismanaged, don't just throw as many accusations at the wall as possible as you can make up so that it becomes impossible to defend against them. dicksmarts ridiculous speculation and accusations and childish threats of lawsuits have no business being part of that discussion.

In the end all of this belly-aching will be just that. The game will either release or be cancelled, on its own schedule because that's their right. The worst case scenario for them is losing a court battle over the $3mil in KS money. No amount of whining is ever going to change that now, they are literally playing with house money.
 
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86. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 27, 2016, 18:25 Quboid
 
descender wrote on Sep 27, 2016, 17:57:
Wow, a reddit post with 6 whole upvotes! This exemplifies your anti-SC brigade in a nutshell.

Reality isn't a popularity contest, Reddit points mean nothing. Is there anything in that post you disagree with?
 
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85. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 27, 2016, 17:57 descender
 
Wow, a reddit post with 6 whole upvotes! This exemplifies your anti-SC brigade in a nutshell.  
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84. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 27, 2016, 14:29  dsmart 
 
I wasn't going to post, just observe. So I'm going to just leave this here because it's brilliant.

I said they haven't delivered $20M worth of product, on account of the fact that they haven't delivered anything. In fact the statements CIG has said thus far about the limited number of solar systems (less than 100 will be at release according to CR), drop-in drop-out co-op (no longer a feature), and private servers (literally the last thing they will ever do according to Jared) makes it difficult to see how the product we are getting at release is equivalent to what was originally promised, let alone this $125M masterpiece. I'm not a game developer so I can't be sure, but you would think that CIG would have made it perfectly clear exactly what people are getting for their money.

You know what I am? A backer who pays attention. I pay attention when CIG says a product like Squadron 42 is being released in November 2014, then Fall 2015, and now 2016. I pay attention when CIG says the Dogfighting Module is being released in December 2014, then being delayed until spring so they can fix the netcode, then revealed in a disastrous event that still takes two months before backers can play, then takes another month because the netcode isn't fixed. I pay attention when Star Marine is scheduled for Spring 2014, then Spring 2015, then "weeks, not months" during Summer 2015, then nothing until January 2016 when the founder bitches about how annoyed he is at people asking where Star Marine is, then nothing until Gamescom 2016 when magically Star Marine is showing up in the next patch. I pay attention when all of this happens while CIG says features originally promised in Kickstarter and stretch goals are delayed past released, yet somehow all of the delays are justified because they said they're delivering more. I pay attention when they deny refunds on the grounds that a "substantive portion of the game" has already delivered while at the same time they say if Star Citizen were under development by any other company it wouldn't even be called an alpha. I pay attention to all of this because CIG said that I was their publisher and that they would treat me with the same level of respect and honest communication.

Calling CIG out for failing to meet their own expectations is not armchair development. It's not undermining the developers. It's keeping them accountable.
 
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Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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83. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 26, 2016, 21:44 Kxmode
 
jdreyer wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 21:11:
Kosumo wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 15:40:
His "professional reputation" was such that no publisher would fund him.

I doubt Squadron 42 will be good due to him having yet displayed any understanding of what gameplay is.

It's not graphics and motion capture.
Erin Roberts is running the SQ42 studio. He has successfully shipped many games including the highly popular Lego games. For this part of the project he should be able to keep things on track. Since SQ42 is the main reason I kickstarted I have high confidence it will be delivered.

I would point out that at the end of the day SQ42 is still going to be a Chris Roberts game even if his brother is leading the team actually working on it.
 
Avatar 18786
 
William Shakespeare's "Star Wars" Act I, Scene 1: Aboard the rebel ship. / Enter C-3PO and R2-D2. / C-3PO: "Now is the summer of our happiness / Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!" / R2-D2 ó Beep beep, Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, whee!
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82. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 26, 2016, 21:11 jdreyer
 
Kosumo wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 15:40:
His "professional reputation" was such that no publisher would fund him.

I doubt Squadron 42 will be good due to him having yet displayed any understanding of what gameplay is.

It's not graphics and motion capture.
Erin Roberts is running the SQ42 studio. He has successfully shipped many games including the highly popular Lego games. For this part of the project he should be able to keep things on track. Since SQ42 is the main reason I kickstarted I have high confidence it will be delivered.
 
Avatar 22024
 
The land in Minecraft is flat, Minecraft simulates the Earth, ergo the Earth is flat.
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81. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 26, 2016, 19:33 Kxmode
 
Kosumo wrote on Sep 26, 2016, 15:40:
His "professional reputation" was such that no publisher would fund him.

I doubt Squadron 42 will be good due to him having yet displayed any understanding of what gameplay is.

It's not graphics and motion capture.

"Professional reputation" refers to the games he launched under Origin that remain, to this day, some of PC gaming's more fondly remembered titles.
 
Avatar 18786
 
William Shakespeare's "Star Wars" Act I, Scene 1: Aboard the rebel ship. / Enter C-3PO and R2-D2. / C-3PO: "Now is the summer of our happiness / Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!" / R2-D2 ó Beep beep, Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, whee!
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80. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 26, 2016, 15:40 Kosumo
 
His "professional reputation" was such that no publisher would fund him.

I doubt Squadron 42 will be good due to him having yet displayed any understanding of what gameplay is.

It's not graphics and motion capture.
 
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79. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 26, 2016, 02:37 jdreyer
 
Kxmode wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 19:05:
CJ_Parker wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 06:36:
As far as "professional reputation", well, ahem... Wing Commander movie anyone? You are correct though that he will try to make Squadron 42 as decent as possible because of all the Hollywood cast he hired. They are going to polish the fuck out of it and it will probably be very well received.

I am obviously not referring to his movie career.

Did you see that the NMS folks released a major patch?
 
Avatar 22024
 
The land in Minecraft is flat, Minecraft simulates the Earth, ergo the Earth is flat.
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78. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 25, 2016, 19:05 Kxmode
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 06:36:
As far as "professional reputation", well, ahem... Wing Commander movie anyone? You are correct though that he will try to make Squadron 42 as decent as possible because of all the Hollywood cast he hired. They are going to polish the fuck out of it and it will probably be very well received.

I am obviously not referring to his movie career.
 
Avatar 18786
 
William Shakespeare's "Star Wars" Act I, Scene 1: Aboard the rebel ship. / Enter C-3PO and R2-D2. / C-3PO: "Now is the summer of our happiness / Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!" / R2-D2 ó Beep beep, Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, whee!
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77. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 25, 2016, 18:41 jdreyer
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Sep 25, 2016, 06:36:
Kxmode wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 22:57:
I have to believe Chris not to recently woke up one day and it hit him "I'm never going to ship this game as I pitched", but he keeps soldiering on because his professional reputation in on the line.

You're giving him way too much credit. He is a pathological lkiar who only cared about that money counter keeping a strong northern heading when he made all those lofty promises. He was high on his own bullshit or still is, although the drug naturally doesn't kick in as much anymore as the early days. $2 million/month is probably boring to him at this point.

As far as "professional reputation", well, ahem... Wing Commander movie anyone? You are correct though that he will try to make Squadron 42 as decent as possible because of all the Hollywood cast he hired. They are going to polish the fuck out of it and it will probably be very well received.
Then when he cancels the full scale PU later, it will only look like half a failure instead of a total wash and the Hollywood peeps won't even care because their name will always be associated with the successful Squadron 42 and not the failed Star Citizen.

Also because Erin Roberts is running the SQ42 show and knows what he is doing.
 
Avatar 22024
 
The land in Minecraft is flat, Minecraft simulates the Earth, ergo the Earth is flat.
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76. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 25, 2016, 06:36 CJ_Parker
 
Kxmode wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 22:57:
I have to believe Chris not to recently woke up one day and it hit him "I'm never going to ship this game as I pitched", but he keeps soldiering on because his professional reputation in on the line.

You're giving him way too much credit. He is a pathological liar who only cared about that money counter keeping a strong northern heading when he made all those lofty promises. He was high on his own bullshit or still is, although the drug naturally doesn't kick in as much anymore as the early days. $2 million/month is probably boring to him at this point.

As far as "professional reputation", well, ahem... Wing Commander movie anyone? You are correct though that he will try to make Squadron 42 as decent as possible because of all the Hollywood cast he hired. They are going to polish the fuck out of it and it will probably be very well received.
Then when he cancels the full scale PU later, it will only look like half a failure instead of a total wash and the Hollywood peeps won't even care because their name will always be associated with the successful Squadron 42 and not the failed Star Citizen.
 
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75. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 22:57 Kxmode
 
I have to believe Chris not to recently woke up one day and it hit him "I'm never going to ship this game as I pitched", but he keeps soldiering on because his professional reputation in on the line.  
Avatar 18786
 
William Shakespeare's "Star Wars" Act I, Scene 1: Aboard the rebel ship. / Enter C-3PO and R2-D2. / C-3PO: "Now is the summer of our happiness / Made winter by this sudden, fierce attack!" / R2-D2 ó Beep beep, Beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, whee!
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74. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 20:23 Peeeling
 
Jesus. The waste of it all.  
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73. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 19:05 Mr. Tact
 
jdreyer wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 12:39:
It's just bizarre that they keep pulling in $2M/month.
Just shows how much hunger there is out there for another good space MMO. ED was pretty good, I put hundreds of hours into it. If this was anywhere near what has been promised I'd probably spend thousands of hours on it. Unfortunately, I have absolutely zero expectation it will actually happen.
 
Truth is brutal. Prepare for pain.
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72. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 12:39 jdreyer
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 09:16:
Personally, I am expecting this. They are not going to be able to deliver the full MMO with the promised level of fidelity so this will most likely end up with the delivery of Squadron 42 and then some massively stripped down (from the promised complete vision) version of the current multiplayer "PU" with a low 24/32 players per instance limit and a few star systems all crammed into a single instance/level because they can never make it all work as a true MMO with all systems implemented.

Yeah, exactly. Said almost the same thing a year ago.

It's just bizarre that they keep pulling in $2M/month.
 
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The land in Minecraft is flat, Minecraft simulates the Earth, ergo the Earth is flat.
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71. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 09:16 CJ_Parker
 
Slashman wrote on Sep 24, 2016, 08:52:
My one question right now is this:

How are they going to continue to fund this if Chris is determined that everything be done exactly the way he wants it or it gets a do-over?

325 employees right? Even if you average their salary at a VERY modest 4k a month, that's still 1.3 mil a month not counting office space, building upkeep, utilities, travel expenses, MARKETING and several other things I'm likely forgetting.

If this does need to take another 3-4 years to complete, how do they keep the lights on and pay people? They have 2 games to deleiver and each one depends on the other to move forward.

Well, they are making $2.x million per month with occasional dips but also occasional bumps (this month will be very profitable for them with CitizenCon when all the mouthbreathers will open their wallets over some fancy flashy trailers and next month sales will skyrocket, too, with the annual anniversary sale).

In addition to the crowdfunding, they are also getting huge tax cuts and AFAIK direct funding from the EU because of some European cultural sponsorship programs and all that blahblah. Remember they have offices in the UK and Germany.

And finally they are certainly getting return on investment from whatever they are doing with the parked money. I mean CR is retarded but he is probably not retarded enough to put the money in the bank at a 0% interest rate. I'm sure he has put it somewhere (offshore?) where he gets at least a 4% return on investment or something along those lines... maybe a lot more depending on the risk he is willing to take(?)
The hard part is getting rich but once you are rich, unless you fuck up majorly, it is fairly easy to stay rich and let the money multiply itself.

They are also nearing completion on the first episode of Squadron 42 and if that takes off as CR is hoping then that will bring in a lot of fresh meat and cash. If it doesn't he can always cut things loose and close shop... he has openly talked about a minimum viable product already so an exit strategy must have crossed his mind more than once.

Personally, I am expecting this. They are not going to be able to deliver the full MMO with the promised level of fidelity so this will most likely end up with the delivery of Squadron 42 and then some massively stripped down (from the promised complete vision) version of the current multiplayer "PU" with a low 24/32 players per instance limit and a few star systems all crammed into a single instance/level because they can never make it all work as a true MMO with all systems implemented.
 
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70. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 08:52 Slashman
 
My one question right now is this:

How are they going to continue to fund this if Chris is determined that everything be done exactly the way he wants it or it gets a do-over?

325 employees right? Even if you average their salary at a VERY modest 4k a month, that's still 1.3 mil a month not counting office space, building upkeep, utilities, travel expenses, MARKETING and several other things I'm likely forgetting.

If this does need to take another 3-4 years to complete, how do they keep the lights on and pay people? They have 2 games to deleiver and each one depends on the other to move forward.
 
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69. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 07:53 Bub
 
RE: CR's back peddeling and vamping at fiasco of the PAX East 2014 crashed demo.

Sounds quite a lot like the Orange Faced Flipper, "It's gonna be great."
 
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... I miss BBS..
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68. Re: Star Citizen Examined Sep 24, 2016, 01:43 Primalchrome
 
descender wrote on Sep 23, 2016, 19:44:
To call ME myopic in a thread about people giving money to a publisher with zero accountability... that's rich.
If by 'rich' you mean 'accurate', we can find ourselves in agreement. I'll sum up what makes you either sadly myopic, unable to figure it out or too busy bitching to think.
- "Anyone who donates any money to any Kickstarter or publicly funded project is that same fool." - Laughable. I've put money into a number of kickstarters....after researching it. One didn't pan out....and my money was refunded. It was a calculated risk for a return. If you're putting money into a kickstarter because of an emotional tug and you *expect* a return...yeah...maybe you're a fool. If you've weighed the risks and think it's worth it....not really a fool. (and I do feel like a fool for letting hope get away with me and putting money into the SCL preorder) So....myopic....or if we're going to be generous "not well thought out". There's a reason why kickstarters are still generating startup cash....because most of the aboveboard ventures (rather than half baked pipe dreams) are generating successful transactions for the people backing them.
- "I still don't understand why they don't just refund all the KS money and call that project dead. Can someone explain why they wouldn't do that?" There are any number of EXCELLENT reasons not to pull a move like that. Investor and market confidence. The perception of culpability. A rush of other people wanting refunds that weren't KS backers. The lack of liquidity to fund a massive refund. Liability. Client relations. Third guessers once the game launches. Massive keyboard warrior drama and the resulting bad PR. I mean, really? You don't have to even scratch the surface to see why a *business* wouldn't find that to be a good idea. From the viewpoint of a butthurt user blathering in a forum, yeah, it has merit....from a rational business' viewpoint it is suicide.

All that yammering aside....I agree with you regarding SC. A lot of people with rose colored glasses spent asinine amounts of money on a longshot. I dont' think it was designed as a malicious long con.......it's just incompetence, piss poor design, and lack of self control by CRob. This is shaking out just about how quite a few critical people thought it would. It had about the same chance of success as kickstarting whatever Peter Molyneux's latest drug induced haze conjured.
 
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