Chris Roberts: Star Citizen’s Expanding Scope Is ‘The Whole Damn Point’

Chris Roberts: Star Citizen’s Expanding Scope Is ‘The Whole Damn Point’

Star Citizen — the crowdfunded space game that’s pulled in $US85 million and counting — has been making progress in small steps, not giant leaps. Fans are starting to get worried. Recently, creator Chris Roberts tried to assuage their fears.

Star Citizen has inspired a degree of scepticism since day one, given that it’s one of the most ambitious games ever proposed. However, a recent delay to its first-person shooter module — which would have let backers try out FPS functionality long before the game’s full release — busted the dam on a new wave of worry. Some fans voiced anxiety over how it seemed like new pie-in-the-stars features were taking precedence over actually releasing something.

Addressing those topics in a post on Star Citizen‘s website, Roberts wrote that, yes, Star Citizen‘s scope has expanded significantly since its first crowdfunding drive back in 2012. But he set out to make one of the most ambitious games ever, and what’s the point of that if you’re not going as big and grandiose as you possibly can? He wrote:

“Star Citizen matters BECAUSE it is big, because it is a bold dream. It is something everyone else is scared to try. You didn’t back Star Citizen because you want what you’ve seen before. You’re here and reading this because we are willing to go big, to do the things that terrify publishers. You’ve trusted us with your money so we can build a game, not line our pockets. And we sure as hell didn’t run this campaign so we could put that money in the bank, guarantee ourselves a profit and turn out some flimsy replica of a game I’ve made before. You went all in supporting us and we’ve gone all in making the game. Is Star Citizen today a bigger goal than I imagined in 2012? Absolutely. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not: it’s the whole damn point.”

He added, however, that the team isn’t doing stretch goals anymore, and that they have got a road map of modules to release and improve upon ahead of knitting everything together with the long-awaited persistent universe.

“Star Marine, which will be available shortly, is the module for backers to experience and give their feedback on the First Person Shooting component of the game. Not long after that we will be releasing the next level of Arena Commander, allowing players with bigger ships to fly them with friends, on maps that are closer in size to the huge ones you’ll have in the final game. Then we’re rolling out aspects of the Persistent Universe: first there will be just planet side environments to explore, but not long after you’ll be able to transition to space and fly to another destination, and then after that to another system. We have taken this route to allow people to experience and give feedback to make the game better as we build it.”

In a recent interview with Gamers Nexus, Roberts said he’s hoping to have the previously delayed Star Marine module ready in a few weeks, hopefully in time for the Gamescom conference in Cologne.

Admittedly, Star Marine has slipped before, and Arena Commander slipped quite a bit before it. These things are not set in stone, but in some ways, that’s game development for you. However, with Star Citizen, the stakes are clearly higher than usual, given that fans have contributed nearly a hundred million dollars, yet they still only have a few small pieces of the game of their dreams. On top of that, fans are not entirely sure how or when it’s all gonna come together.

Is Roberts’ ambition admirable? Certainly. Given the opportunity to build the biggest, best game he can imagine, he’s going for it on a gigantic scale. But I also can’t fault fans for staying sceptical, for wanting to see, play, and know more. I mean, we’re talking about a game so huge that it almost seems impossible. It’s a double-edged sword. We’re all hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

Kotaku plans to continue closely following the game’s development and status, and we’ll report what we find.


  • *shrug* I threw some money at them a year or so ago, and am happy waiting to see what comes out of it. I think people just need to temper their expectations and be patient. Most games take several years to develop, and this is no different, if not moreso because of the sheer scope. I’d rather wait and have them make the space sim of my dreams.

    • Exactly.
      I’m not too concerned about the way things are at the moment, but if they start cutting significant content to get things out I’ll get annoyed precisely because I want CIG to push for the limit.

      …I was going to say shoot for the stars but I don’t hate myself that much.

      • Pushing to the limit is cool, if it ends up being possible. Not so cool if feature creep ends up killing the project entirely.
        I think it would be better if they concentrated on one or two core modules, and got those out the door, then focused on the massive scope and bring the rest.
        Which it kind of sounds like they are doing, but really, how many people wanted the FPS part compared to how many people want to fly spaceships.

        • “how many people wanted the FPS part compared to how many people want to fly spaceships.”

          um you can already fly space ships and there is news about a new larger map for us to fly around in coming out sometime after gamescon.

    • Lol NO! People need to have their fears and insecurities fanned with horror stories about how everything associated with the story is either good or bad! This is Kickstarter, right? So – bad. Duh!

      It really is terrible, paying money to fund a project and not acknowledging the (clearly stated) potential for “risk” as a result of my personal decisions.

  • Granted, the concerns will always be there. But what a lot of people fail to realise is just how short a period of time the game has actually been in real development for.

    Compared to many other large AAA games, it’s still only early/mid way through development. Difference here being that the entire process has been public. Usually people are used to seeing the hype train in the last year or two of development. With SC, we’re on board for the entire time.

    I think ultimately people just need to relax a bit, and wait for the game to be made right.

    • Except look at the scope and development costs for the games in your graph, (e.g. Star Wars ToR was over 200 million and closer to 500 million by most estimates), the dev costs for those games far outstrips the 85 million that SC has, and SC’s scope is far, far greater than those.
      The scope they are attempting is admirable, but the money can only go so far, and as anyone who has worked in film or gaming knows, your real budget is time. The longer the shoot/development the more money burns, and once you get close to running out, if the scope is too large, the entire enterprise collapses.

      • Valid points.
        But SWTOR, I’d argue, has a lot more ‘content’. As in, stuff which had to be crafted by people. It’s mostly planetary, and the game world is absolutely huge and of very high production quality. It also has an obscene amount of full voice-overs.

        SC has cities and landing areas, but most of the scale is in space. And it’s going to come down to gameplay mechanics.

        I’d also argue there’s a fair bit more beaurocracy at a studio like EA.

        But I’m interested to see how it all goes anyway. I’m still far from worried at this point in time. Roberts was pushed to release early with Freelancer [he ended up leaving his own company before it dropped], and it disappointed many in the features which had to be cut.

  • Finish one segment fully, then I will be up there with expanding scope being awesome.
    But seriously, finish *something*.

      • I’ve ‘played’ Arena Commander, it is nowhere near what anyone would call ‘finished’

        • how so? and what the hell do you mean by “played” there is plenty of ships a few game modes, multiplayer single player, what more do you want. sure its being expanded in the future to include multi person ships but in its current state its basically a game in its own right.

    • I’m not sure where this idea came from that they’re obligated to release a portion of the product. I mean sure, they always stated the game would be broken up into modules, but why does that mean they should release a section of the overall, unfinished product? It doesn’t make any sense. That’d be like getting shitty at Bethesda/id for not releasing Doom 4’s multiplayer 6 months before the campaign was finished. It hasn’t even been in development for 3 years. Just relax and be patient.

      • I’m patient re release dates, but the amount of funds in the warchest is nowhere near enough for another 2 years development, and with the current scope, it looks like a hell of a lot more than two years work.

  • Plenty of other games to play while waiting for this.
    I can wait, as long as it lives up to Chris’s quality standards, and if they keep releasing new modules now and then.

  • Not really sure why the FPS part seems to be a priority. I don’t fly around in Elite: Dangerous thinking “damn, I wish this was more like CoD”

    • Because fps is also the foundation for movement animations and backend coding for more players etc etc etc
      I can eject out of my ship and snipe someone with my over buffed laser pew pew pistol. *unlike cod*

  • They should have committed to releasing a completed SC with the original scope in the original timeframe of 2 years when they hit the $6 million kickstarter target, as was promised.

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