19 votes

The saga of "Star Citizen," a video game that raised $300 million—but may never be ready to play

24 comments

  1. [2]
    Loire Link
    The "saga" of Star Citizen in a nutshell. Having followed this game on and off since 2011 (mostly off, since 2014), I simply cannot understand how there are still people willing to shell out...

    the game promptly crashes. While his underlings scramble to get the demo running again, a practiced Roberts smoothly fills minutes of dead air by screening a commercial for the Kraken for [...] $1,650 it could be yours.

    The "saga" of Star Citizen in a nutshell.

    Having followed this game on and off since 2011 (mostly off, since 2014), I simply cannot understand how there are still people willing to shell out hundreds to thousands of dollars for the game. We are approaching a decade since development began, at what point does it start becoming unreasonable?

    9 votes
    1. alyaza Link Parent
      probably never for a lot of people, because of sunken cost. a lot of backers of the game have sunk so much into the game that to give up hope now would be to admit they were essentially conned,...

      We are approaching a decade since development began, at what point does it start becoming unreasonable?

      probably never for a lot of people, because of sunken cost. a lot of backers of the game have sunk so much into the game that to give up hope now would be to admit they were essentially conned, and it's especially difficult because they are actually getting something in the form of these occasional modules and whatnot--it just also happens that the pace of updates is so glacial that the devs have repeatedly had to basically burn all their work on certain aspects of the game and rebuild from scratch, such that the completed game will probably never happen.

      5 votes
  2. [3]
    Deimos Link
    The Star Citizen alpha is currently free to download and try out for the next week: https://cloudimperiumgames.com/blog/events/star-citizen-announces-alpha-3-5-free-fly-beginning-wednesday-may-1

    The Star Citizen alpha is currently free to download and try out for the next week: https://cloudimperiumgames.com/blog/events/star-citizen-announces-alpha-3-5-free-fly-beginning-wednesday-may-1

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      krg Link Parent
      Hmm..how? I don't see it here : https://robertsspaceindustries.com/download

      Hmm..how? I don't see it here : https://robertsspaceindustries.com/download

      3 votes
  3. [7]
    emnii Link
    Star Citizen is my favorite boondoggle that I have the bare minimum of stakes in. I got a copy of it when it was bundled in with AMD graphics cards. This was before they split it into two SKUs for...

    Star Citizen is my favorite boondoggle that I have the bare minimum of stakes in. I got a copy of it when it was bundled in with AMD graphics cards. This was before they split it into two SKUs for Star Citizen the online game and Squadron 42, the single player Wing Commander successor. I essentially get the same things as base level Kickstarter backers, and so far it's barely a game.

    At one point all I could do was walk around a big square room and look at my spaceship and climb into the cockpit but not fly it. Another time I fired it up and it let me walk around an empty space station under terrible performance. It's been a year or two since I checked in but I'm skeptical this will ever become a video game, much less the game that was sold to the original Kickstarter backers.

    4 votes
    1. [6]
      cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      Eh... some of the more recent stuff is still buggy as fuck but it's at least somewhat resembling a game now. See Robbaz's recent videos on it (see #2 especially. p.s. NSFW language): Star Citizen...

      but I'm skeptical this will ever become a video game

      Eh... some of the more recent stuff is still buggy as fuck but it's at least somewhat resembling a game now. See Robbaz's recent videos on it (see #2 especially. p.s. NSFW language):
      Star Citizen - FOIP Face Tracking #1 - Space Shopping
      Star Citizen - FOIP Face Tracking #2 - Space Delivery
      Star Citizen - FOIP Face Tracking #3 - Space Tourism

      3 votes
      1. [5]
        Loire Link Parent
        Eight years of development, and $300,000,000 and its just barely alpha ready. Man, I appreciate the audacity of the project but it's becoming ridiculous. How long until Beta? Five more years?...

        Eight years of development, and $300,000,000 and its just barely alpha ready.

        Man, I appreciate the audacity of the project but it's becoming ridiculous. How long until Beta? Five more years? Release? Does Squadron 42 have any development in it beyond the assets and engine from S.C.? What have they been doing?

        1. [3]
          cfabbro Link Parent
          Read the article? ;)

          What have they been doing?

          Read the article? ;)

          When asked what it was like to work at Cloud Imperium, one former senior game maker who left in 2018 messaged a link to the Spinal Tap movie scene with an amplifier volume knob turned to 11. Former employees say Roberts gets involved in the smallest details and pushes huge and complex investments in areas that are not worth the effort. At one point, one of the company’s senior graphics engineers was ordered by Roberts to spend months, through several iterations, getting the visual effects of the ship shields just right. In addition, workers have had to spend weeks on end making demos so that Cloud Imperium can keep selling spaceships—and raising more money.

          Before David Jennison quit as Cloud Imperium’s lead character artist in 2015, he wrote a letter to human resources—it leaked on the internet—trying to explain why he completed only five characters in 17 months. One problem, Jennison said, was that Roberts frequently reversed approvals for the characters he was working on. “All the decisions for the character pipeline and approach had been made by Roberts,” Jennison wrote. “It became clear that this was a companywide pattern—CR dictates all.”

          A company spokesman retorts: “It does say ‘Chris Roberts’ on the box, so one would naturally expect him to be quite involved with decision-making.”

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Loire (edited ) Link Parent
            I read it, and I see what you are saying but I simply cannot understand how Robert's micromanaging has pushed the games back in development to at least a decade, if not more. Maybe I am being...

            I read it, and I see what you are saying but I simply cannot understand how Robert's micromanaging has pushed the games back in development to at least a decade, if not more.

            Maybe I am being naive, but the levels of autocratic management over every single facet of the development required to string this thing out for a decade is insane.

            2 votes
            1. cfabbro Link Parent
              I mean, if even the lead character designer admits they were only ever able to finish five character designs in 17 months of work because of incessant micromanagement, I would say that does...

              I mean, if even the lead character designer admits they were only ever able to finish five character designs in 17 months of work because of incessant micromanagement, I would say that does strongly hint that it's genuinely possible for a level of autocratic management to string development out for over a decade despite $300M being thrown at the project. That's probably well over $100k spent on wages alone just to get 5 character models done.

              3 votes
        2. KapteinB Link Parent
          Motion capture data from a bunch of famous actors, looks like:

          Does Squadron 42 have any development in it beyond the assets and engine from S.C.?

          Motion capture data from a bunch of famous actors, looks like:

          Cloud Imperium hired a large and presumably expensive cast, even by today’s gaming standards, including Gary Oldman, Mark Hamill, Gillian Anderson and several other prominent actors, and flew them to London. There Roberts personally directed them for Squadron 42 in a motion-capture studio built by actor Andy Serkis.

          3 votes
  4. [12]
    gimmemahlulz Link
    I bought into the game as one of the first kickstarter backers (I think my backer number is right around 1k). I usually download and checkout the game about once a year, and every time I've done...

    I bought into the game as one of the first kickstarter backers (I think my backer number is right around 1k). I usually download and checkout the game about once a year, and every time I've done it I've noticed quite a large jump in playability, content, polish, and the amount of fun I have. Is it anywhere close to done? Hell no. Do I think they'll eventually finish it? Yes, I am fairly confident they will, especially with the new and more detailed/concrete roadmaps.

    Ultimately though I really don't understand the feverish hate the internet has for SC, as most backers are like myself with a small game package and not mindless zealots spending thousands. If the game gets finished, great! Come try it and if you hate it that's fine, you don't have to play it. If it doesn't, oh well! We'll live through it just like I lived through accidentally dropping and breaking my phone at an amusement park.

    3 votes
    1. [11]
      Papaya Link Parent
      Companies should not be able to get paid before having done anything. Consumers should be angry in order for things to change. This new pre-order and early access era is absolutely outrageous and...

      Companies should not be able to get paid before having done anything. Consumers should be angry in order for things to change.
      This new pre-order and early access era is absolutely outrageous and should not exist. It's our job as consumers to give at least some push back against it.
      These companies feast on the dreams of players. They present the idea of a game and rely on people's naivety to make money. The devs themselves might not be malicious at heart, but this system is incredibly sly. You would never see that between two businesses.
      Take this game (and many others) as an example of why you shouldn't pre-order or buy anything in early access.

      1. [5]
        gimmemahlulz Link Parent
        Excuse my vulgarity, but I fucking hate when people blindly hammer on crowdfunding. Services like Kickstarter and Indigogo are ridiculously important to the video game industry today. Did you know...

        Excuse my vulgarity, but I fucking hate when people blindly hammer on crowdfunding.

        Services like Kickstarter and Indigogo are ridiculously important to the video game industry today. Did you know Hollow Knight was a kickstarter campaign? Factorio? FTL? All of these games are critically acclaimed and would not exist if crowdfunding (or as you put it "getting paid before having done anything") didn't exist. Crowdfunding allows developers who don't have the capital to start these projects, a chance to fund development fully through to release. Most of these people wouldn't ever be able to pitch their ideas to a publisher for support because they would be considered "too risky", and even if they where accepted would have probably been marred beyond recognition in search of squeezing more money out of players.

        Yeah a bunch of kickstarters fail (I've backed one like that myself), but I think it's 100% worth it for the ones that do succeed, as you would never find those kinds of ideas and content elsewhere. Realistically, simply doing research before backing will eliminate quite a large chunk of these bad campaigns. As for the remainder, not even 100% of normal businesses succeed, so why should we expect a 100% success rate with crowdfunding?

        5 votes
        1. [4]
          Papaya Link Parent
          There's a difference between crowdfunding a small platformer that you are almost certain can be made by a small group of devs, and blindly giving money to fund a game that is obviously way beyond...

          There's a difference between crowdfunding a small platformer that you are almost certain can be made by a small group of devs, and blindly giving money to fund a game that is obviously way beyond what is possible for an indie team.
          Can't you use your judgement and realize that you are being lied to ?
          It was the same with No Man's Sky. Just by looking at the trailer you could tell that there was no way the game would be what it claimed, and yet people still believed.
          So crowdfunding for independent devs who are talented and need money to make a game that is not technically ground breaking but still creative : YES.
          Giving money to projects that you know deep down are unrealistic and continuing to defend these practices : NO.
          Imo, there should be a budget cap on crowdfunding. If you know your project will cost millions of dollars and has chances to fail, don't take people's money.

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            So going by your rules Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Project CARS, Wasteland 2, BattleTech, Elite Dangerous, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Dreamfall...

            So going by your rules Pillars of Eternity, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Project CARS, Wasteland 2, BattleTech, Elite Dangerous, Divinity: Original Sin 2, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Dreamfall Chapters, etc... shouldn't have been crowdfunded since those all cost >$1M and all projects, especially in the game development industry, have a chance of failure.

            Incidentally, I backed all of those projects and thoroughly enjoyed playing them all, and I am also glad they did use crowdfunding because they likely wouldn't have gotten made otherwise.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              Papaya Link Parent
              Why are you deliberately fixating on such a specific detail in my response ? You are not responding to my ideas or the foundations of my arguments. There's a difference between a game that's 1-10M...

              Why are you deliberately fixating on such a specific detail in my response ? You are not responding to my ideas or the foundations of my arguments.
              There's a difference between a game that's 1-10M and triple A games that are around 100M.
              Let's not try to justify that Star Citizen's fiasco was "something that happens" or even remotely acceptable. The only people defending it are the ones who threw away their money and try to minimize their mistake.

              1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                The "foundation of your argument" is that you think there should be arbitrary terms/limitations for when and how crowdfunding is used, and I patently disagree with that. Furthermore, you have no...

                The "foundation of your argument" is that you think there should be arbitrary terms/limitations for when and how crowdfunding is used, and I patently disagree with that. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing if Star Citizen will be released or not, and like this article you are just assuming it won't be and basing all your arguments against crowdfunding on that, while completely ignoring all the examples I listed of large scale crowdfunding campaigns working out great. Not only that but nobody is forcing anyone to back something, so as long as a project is not fraudulent, I don't see what your issue is.

                The only people defending it are the ones who threw away their money and try to minimize their mistake.

                Specious and incorrect. I have absolutely zero stake in Star Citizen and am not a backer or associated with the project in any way. Although if it or Squadron 42 ever does get released I will definitely be buying them and playing the shit out of them because Wing Commander and Freelancer are some of my all time favorite games.

                2 votes
      2. [5]
        Octofox Link Parent
        Crowd funded projects are not products. You are not a consumer, you are an investor. Many investments never end up with a usable product. Many of them do. Its your job as an investor to evaluate...

        Crowd funded projects are not products. You are not a consumer, you are an investor. Many investments never end up with a usable product. Many of them do. Its your job as an investor to evaluate the chance of success before you invest in the project.

        3 votes
        1. [4]
          Papaya Link Parent
          Investor means you get your money back and then some, you know that right ? You can call it a donation instead. The problem is not people giving money to developers, the problem is that it becomes...

          Investor means you get your money back and then some, you know that right ?
          You can call it a donation instead.
          The problem is not people giving money to developers, the problem is that it becomes the norm for developers to release their game and ask money before it's finished.
          Early access could have been great. But now, it seems like game makers have an excuse to publish a buggy, unplayable game and get rewarded for it. I find that appalling.

          1. [3]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. [2]
              Papaya Link Parent
              But still, there is the possibility of getting your money back or some of it. How in the world is crowdfunding an investment when all you can get is the final product ? In the worst cases the game...

              But still, there is the possibility of getting your money back or some of it. How in the world is crowdfunding an investment when all you can get is the final product ? In the worst cases the game doesn't come out and you paid for nothing, in the best case, it comes out and all you did was buying a game.

              1 vote
              1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                Sure, but usually at a reasonably good discount and with additional perks though. I have saved a decent amount of money over the years by backing crowdfunding projects that I almost certainly...

                in the best case, it comes out and all you did was buying a game.

                Sure, but usually at a reasonably good discount and with additional perks though. I have saved a decent amount of money over the years by backing crowdfunding projects that I almost certainly would have bought at full price anyways. And of ~30 backed projects, only 1 has failed outright, 1 sucked and 1 died shortly after release (but I still got my money's worth)... so I am still way out ahead. You just have to do your research before you back a project to get similar results; Try to go with trustworthy/reputable industry names, try not to let the hype cloud your judgement, and be honest with yourself about whether you would have actually bought and used/played the product on release.

                2 votes
          2. Octofox Link Parent
            If I buy an investment house, there is nothing stopping house prices from dropping and my losing money. Virtually no investment is risk free. The higher the risk the more you have to gain usually....

            If I buy an investment house, there is nothing stopping house prices from dropping and my losing money. Virtually no investment is risk free. The higher the risk the more you have to gain usually.

            There is honestly no reason to buy early access if you don't want to. I haven't done it in many years and do not feel pressured to. If you don't want to buy it before its ready then don't buy it until its ready.

            4 votes