Star “Too Many” Citizens

You’ve probably all heard by now about Star Citizen, the most crowdfunded project ever with a total net of 70 million $ thus far. Well, I am here today with my good friend Robert Willemstein to discuss and explain why that game will be an utter and complete failure. I will voice my arguments and then Robert will come to fill in the blanks and point fingers at people more accurately, seeing how he has expertise on Chris Robert’s (the directing producer of the game) past and infamy.

Star Citizen is/will be a First Person Space Simulator game that will be entirely open world despite the fact that it will also have a single player campaign, which will also be tied to the open world’s multiplayer experience in certain ways. The game will feature all kinds of things, ranging from dogfighting, fighting with big ships, first person shooter action on foot, trading and lots of other stuff.

To start off, let’s just say that the game has way too many promises and expectations tied to its title at the moment, something that can never be too good for something that its production is being entirely funded by the people who chose to support it. In the case that any one of the features or promises don’t come through when the final edition of the game is published, it will certainly have an impact on the reliability of the company since the community will go full ballistic on them.

The developing company announced early in 2013 that they will start releasing modules of the game for the backers of the project to test and check out before the actual game comes out as a whole. The alpha started with the players being able to see the hangar and other stuff like that and eventually came to the point where some simple deathmatch style modes came out allowing people to test their ships. The alpha already started with quite a few issues, ranging from controls problems to interface issues.

But let’s drop the chit-chat about the game’s features and let’s talk about facts and reasons why this is just another overhyped internet thing that will blow out as soon as release date starts approaching (or maybe even sooner, who knows).

The lead developer is Chris Roberts, the person behind the successful Wing Commander and a few other Space Simulator games in the past. A good example of not being able to “deliver” would be the 2003 failure of “Freelancer” the spiritual successor of the first Wing Commander title as Chris Roberts described back in the day. The developer had promised publicly that the game would have things like a dynamic economy, branching conversations and sub- quests, none of which appeared later in the published edition of the game.

If you look at one of the things that were promised for Star Citizen, you can easily see that things like the “you will be able to board enemy ships with your crew and sabotage key parts of it” are definitely setting the standards really high for the game. If a game aims to be as versatile as Star Citizen is hoping to be, then the company behind its development really needs to put a lot of effort into it since having a feature like “pirating” is like adding a totally new game into the already existing one that was already focused on a totally different thing. Not sure if 70 mil.$ can make that happen, it’s a lot of money but the feature requires tons of work as well.

There are things of course that people are still bugged about. Things like the fact that even though we know that there is no space in sound, Star Citizen has sounds in space despite the fact that it has continuously been promoted as a game that takes into account everything and is trying to be the best space simulator and open world game around. Also, some of the modules that were introduced have to be constantly hotfixed and patched which seems like it’s “burning” the developing company’s time since they have to focus on feedback and things alike before they can move on to introducing new things. This is another sign of course of why the game is going to take a pretty long while before it comes out.

Personally my main concern would be the fact that they are getting more money than they can handle or do things with. Despite the enormously huge piles of money they will have for the creation of the game, a studio is still a studio that has a certain amount of people who can work on certain amounts of things. Hiring more people and getting them involved is going to cost time as well so you have to basically meet the expectations of the crowd that funded you with the studio you have at your disposal.

The game is indeed taking long to be made anyway, but as I was saying, the more a game gets funded, the easier it is to lose track of what’s going on and not be able to reach all those extra goals that people expect you to reach. A good example of such a case would be Double Fine’s Broken Age project where Double Fine just went with the option of building the game they first had in mind and not the one that people were expecting from them for the 3 mil.$ they put into the funding. There was a lot of distrust after that and of course some bad publicity for the company seeing how they backed out on their backers and didn’t come through with the extra money.

-Constantine “Kelfecil” Christakis

On to Robert’s opinion now!

Now don’t get me wrong: the concept of Star Citizen is cool and all but there is just no way that Star Citizen is ever going to live up to the hype. Let me sum up the main gripes me (and other people) have with this game:

  • Endless delays will (and have been) be the order of the day
  • You will literally be nickle & dimed for everything in the game to keep Chris Roberts’ money train rolling
  • The devs seem confused as to what they really want to do
  • 2500 dollar internet spaceships. Really?
  • Management at Cloud Empirium Games seems to have a chronic problem with focus. Do they want to make a persistent MMO? An FPS? A Planetside game? Why not everything and throw in the kitchen sink in there as well

Right now the parts of the game that are functional (You can walk around in a hangar and look at your pretty ships! You can fly some of the ships in a dogfighting sim! You can play an FPS game that looks like a bad MOD you plucked off of ModDB!) certainly do look nice, but the point of it completely eludes me. How is this all going to tie together? NOBODY KNOWS! Is there a vision? Yes but it seems to change every other week.

Still, pretty graphics do not make a game great make and the existing modules have been plagued with delays and performance/ server issues. People are reporting that for example the Hangar module is basically an unworkable slideshow due to there being no occlusion implemented for it right now.

Not to mention that, in order to keep on funding the development of the game and the 3(!) studios that have been founded for this game (as well as having another separate studio create the FPS module of the game), after launch they will have to figure out a way to keep the money rolling in. Not only will you be able to buy in-game credits to buy ships and modules and so on (pay 2 win much?), they will also keep making new ships and giving them exorbitant prices:

Yes, for a mere 250 dollars you too can ‘own’ a fake internet spaceship that disappears whenever Cloud Imperium Games closes its doors, decides it no longer wants to support the game or whatever else. The Star Citizen store is littered with all kinds of ships that you can buy for prices ranging from 30 dollars up to 2500 bucks!

In conclusion, people have been throwing caution to the wind and funding Star Citizen in record breaking amounts but not seeing the signs on the wall. If you want to throw your money at an organization that does not even know the kind of product they want to deliver but will happily take your thousands of dollars, be my guest. But when this inevitably all goes to hell and Chris Roberts is treated like the new Peter Molyneux for a while, don’t be surprised.

-Robert Willemstein

Do you agree with us? Do you think Star Citizen is going to slowly accelerate to its own demise? Or do you think that the developers will manage to live up to the promises they’ve put up for their game?

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