Here’s A Reminder About How Huge Star Citizen Is

Here’s A Reminder About How Huge Star Citizen Is

People have been enamoured with space for the last couple of weeks, thanks to No Man’s Sky. But Gamescom also provided everyone with a neat reminder that there’s more than one space game in the works.

Like Star Citizen. And there’s a ton of features on the way.

The game is still officially in Alpha, which isn’t much of a surprise when you consider how gargantuan the project is. The single-player has been broken off into its own separate module, Squadron 42, scheduled for release at the end of this year. There’s the first-person module, Star Marine, which doesn’t have a release date as of yet. There’s the Arena Commander dogfighting module, which is available to backers right now. And then there’s the full release of the game’s persistent universe, which won’t happen for a couple of years, although you can play an alpha version of it right now.

It’s a bit much to keep up with.

But it’s not as if there isn’t a swath of new content to keep fans happy. And that much was evident during the Star Citizen presentation at Gamescom, where Chris Roberts and co unveiled some of the features set to be released in Alpha 3.0.

The latest alpha is scheduled for released in December — tentatively so — and is slated to include trading, moons, asteroid belts, new space stations, around 30 or 40 space stations, the ability to land on any planet, mercenaries, bounty hunting, piracy, cargo transports, moon rovers, and a truck load more.

It’s a lot easier to watch than it is to describe, so maybe go ahead and do that. The whole presentation is a couple of hours long, but the uncut gameplay footage is just over 50 minutes.

Piloting. Docking. Running around the space station. First-person battles. Driving a moon buggy. Decoupling the moon buggy. Multi-crew ships. Planetary landings.

It’s a hell of a lot all in the one demo, when you think about it.

For those who are just looking forward to the singleplayer experience, Cloud Imperium Games will be talking more about that at CitizenCon in October. It’s a nice reminder of just how deep down the space hole you can go if you really want, particularly if your appetite hasn’t been fully whet by recent experiences.


  • Looking at the header image, I initially thought it was going to be a shiny new Firefly game… 🙁

    • Without checking I’m pretty sure that’s a MISC Freelancer of some description, and that particular ship was designed to be aesthetically similar to a Firefly class ship, e.g. the Serenity.

    • I saw similarities of a Puddlejumper about to activate an Atlatean space-based stargate.

    • Fortunately that does still seem to be in the works. They’ve been a bit quiet, but they said in an interview earlier this year that they had to re-do a whole lot of work once they were given access to the original Firefly cast. Hopefully that’s a good thing.

  • Ok @alexwalker, I backed the Digital scout copy of the game, access to the alpha and beta etc etc.

    What can I actually do at this stage? The Arena commander and the persistent universe? Or just the Arena Commander mode at this stage?

    It was so much talk for so long that I’ve completely switched off so if there’s alphas to be played now I’d love to give it a go!

    • I’m on the train home atm, but the Persistent Universe and Arena Commander are playable. What’s the ship that you’ve got?

        • To be honest since you forgot about the game already. I wouldnt play right now, still needs alot of balancing. The amount of bugs are insane and the fps is terrible in the pu. I still play once in a while but thats cause i have a thing for broken games.

          • Yeah? Cheers for the heads up. I’ll keep pew pewing people on R6 Siege, and playing with mandollies/doing hobby stuff 😀

          • I would try it. If its not your cup of tea in its current state you uninstall and wait for beta. I personally love it and play it a couple times a week.

    • Right now you have an area of space that has a couple of stations that each have different activities to show off up coming features for the main game; about ten core ships (though most also have variants) and the ground work for the social system that is going to be used in the main game.

      There are roughly ____ areas;
      -Hangar, used for kitting out ships and looking at the massive amount of work that went into making them pretty.
      -Simulation, single and multiplayer instanced game modes that offer a couple of modes (from racing, to tdm/dm and wave based pve).
      -Social module, which is essentially just a preview of what the cities will hopefully be like. I think you can still purchase cosmetics and firearms in it; but I might be wrong as I haven’t played in a long time.
      -Mini persistent universe, which is a test bed for how the multiplayer aspect will work when the game is fully released. It shows off community mechanics like the bounty system, safe areas and infantry combat.

      I find its nice to be surprised when you drop in every three to four months to catch up on whats going on. That being said I try to stay away from the website as I have am pretty impulsive and at this point feel like I have already sunk too much into the game.

      • I think you can still purchase cosmetics and firearms in it;

        This is still correct, yes. There’s shops you can buy outfits and weapons at. There’s also a ship dealer showroom on Stanton III but I don’t think it’s functional.

      • Thanks mate. One day I’ll remember to download the alpha client and actually try it…. One day 😛

        • Last time I jumped on was to have a crack in the inferior version of my Vanguard, was a little disappointed in some of the bugs, but over all I think the work is very good and can see the potential within the engine improvements that CIG have made.

          If you had ever played with Cryengine you would know that the fact that SC can have locations that are as large as it has right without vast periods of “dead space” for pre-caching is insane.

  • I still feel like this game will end up being vaporware. Definitely hope it comes through though – one day.

      • do alphas really count? or do you mean that you can buy the software that is still being written?

        hmm, pretty technical thing to get narky about! good for you.

        • ” In the computer industry, vaporware (also spelled vapourware) is a product, typically computer hardware or software, that is announced to the general public but is never actually manufactured nor officially cancelled. Use of the word has broadened to include products such as automobiles.”

          No I’m just sick of people redefining vaporware to mean anything that they see as unfinished when it already has a specific meaning.

          • I think it’s fair in the case of star citizen, because it carries the very heavy implication that it will never be finished, not just that it isn’t finished right now.

            Given how Star Citizen is travelling and how long it has been travelling that way, it’s honestly a pretty reasonable claim to be made by pessimists and skeptics.

            Remember, calling Duke Nukem Forever ‘vaporware’ was pretty damn fair right up until Gearbox picked it up to finish it off.

          • Yeah, Star Citizen will be release as, in C Roberts’s own words, a “minimum viable product”. Not vaporware, but certainly less than has been promised over the years.

          • My inner pessimist is saying that even that much won’t be achieved and it just won’t release and will attempt to slide off the radar. I do hope it comes out though since I enjoy space sims a lot but I don’t want to jump on the train just yet. Tired of hype trains not reaching their destinations.

          • It’s a possibility, but just think of the blowback that Chris Roberts would face if development was cancelled. What I think is more likely (and what CIG has been setting up for a while now in its response to refund requests) is that CIG will just label whatever working build it has at the time as ‘the retail product’ and call it a day, perhaps promising post-launch support to stop people from going straight to the authorities.

      • na all he needs to do is never play the game ever a good chunk of the community wont want him and the rest ..well haters and trolls get on so i guess he could go live under a bridge ? lol

    • For what it’s worth, the number of hours I’ve played this game have well justified the cost of a base package for me.

      I’ve clocked up a *ton* of hours in Arena commander against other players or AI, and more recently jumping into the baby PU and running the simple missions there, fighting outlaw players, picking up stranded players etc. Just generally messing around in ships with other players.

      It may never get released (I hope it does) but I’ve had a great time so far 🙂

    • I don’t think it will be vaporware, but I definitely think that It’ll be a Peter Molyneux / No Man’s Sky / Aliens: Colonial Marines situation where the ultimate product is not reflective of the promises that were made. That’s cool, because those people who have bought into it and have rabidly defended the product for several years will kid themselves that the game is all it set out to be, and those that didn’t buy into it will scoff at those who did. There will be a small subset of people who will rage, but after a while that will die down and people will scratch their heads and wonder whatever became of the BDSSE.

      • That’s a little depressing.

        Without actually being invested in the game (I was tempted – I loved the Wing Commander series – but I work in project management and everything I’ve seen of their Kickstarter, then subsequent crowdfunding stretch-goal/feature-creep, sets off screaming alarms, and makes every fibre of my professional being twitch with horror), I really hope they pull off something magical and special that exceeds (reasonable) expectations.

        The world could do with more magic.

        • Not sure it’s exactly what you are looking for but have you seen ED with voice attack? Enables voice control and while it’s not true AI it speaks back to you and (apparently) has ambient voice lines for that AI feel.

          I haven’t used it myself but a lot of peeps swear by it. Here’s a link to a YouTube vid showcasing the “Holly from Red Dwarf” (Norman Lovett) voice pack…

          • Oh yeah, that’s pretty much what I linked – I think its a great idea and should’ve just been cooked in to the game to begin with because the AI uses macros to launch things. Say I told the AI to navigate me somewhere, if I was in the middle of doing something myself like organizing my turrets in to groups it would ruin the flow of the macros.

            VoiceAttack is the best we’ve got currently and it is brilliant – but the next step is to just include that in the game itself so that it doesn’t have to rely on macros.

  • Here’s something else to remember, originally crowd funded in 2011, with a focused development on the single player experience, intended to be released in 2012-2013, CSI taked on so many stretch goals and induced feature creep that the game as promised in the original pitch is maybe just maybe going to get launched late this year (don’t count on it). Nearly 5 years of development, with $119 million dollars pledge to date.

    I pledged at the $80 level and bought some add on ships in the early period, then after 2 years of no progress I sold on my pack and ships and recouped my money. Maybe one day it will be ready, and maybe I will check it out then, but too many promises and not enough delivery has dogged this game an developer for the last 5 years and probably the next 5 to come as well.

    • Crowd funding started in October 2012 and while the original release date was 2015, I don’t think its unfair for a game that was always going to need tech that we just don’t have to take longer to develop. While the game was originally intended to have single player elements; in a lot of the early community announcements Chris said he wanted to model it after freelancer in that multiplayer would still be optional. Heck the original post didn’t even include a campaign; it was essentially just do what ever you wanted until we hit one of the early stretch goals (which then also involved celebrity VA’s).

      HL2 took eight years and even then the graphic fidelity wasn’t ahead at the time; it was nice, but it didn’t blow other premium games out of the water. People like to heap praise on it and forget that it didn’t look particularly better than games that released before it that year, it was amazing what it did under the hood and that is why it took so long to develop; which is ultimately no different to SC.

      Ultimately all I got from this is that you wish SC was a smaller game with a smaller budget.

      “Filthy indie devs need to keep to small projects and never dream of making something to challenge our publisher overlords” -Benjamasm 2016

      • “HL2 took eight years”. I’m not sure Valve are the go-to example for timely delivery of a product 😛

        • Maybe not, but even as someone that didn’t particularly enjoy the game; I can remember what games were like before it and I understand the reason why it took so long to develop. It is just the closest thing to SC I can think of; no other game rends such expansive areas that will hopefully be super detailed for up to even 20 players (so far).

          Its just tech that isn’t available in current games and it does erk me a bit when I see people bash the development time; Rome wasn’t built in a day. Sure maybe compared SC to Rome might be a little ridiculous, but the tech that is developed here might then be useful to tomorrows games and that is something that everyone should support.

          • Rome wasn’t built in a day

            True, but if Chris was building it we would still be waiting today.
            (Though I hear the colosseum module will be out at the end of the year)

            Heheh I jest, only heard of, but never seen SC, I just gleaned the issue from comments and saw my chance.

            I regret nothing.

      • Yep, I hate indies…..

        Sorry dev started in 2011, then he started asking for private donations on the website 2012, and the Kickstarter was in October 2012 ending November 2012.

        The 2 million dollar goal was to make: a 30mission single player story mode, and a multiplayer mode, you might want to either look back at your Kickstarter or look at the funding page on the rsi website, single player missions with an over arching story was the original pitch. While you are there check out the estimated delivery date of the packages (November 2014), and he said that the 2 million was so he could get a publisher to fund the other 20mil expected for dev.

        While publisher overlords aren’t great they do serve one purpose, and that is to keep developers on track to actually deliver products. Feature creep is one of the most dangerous things in software development, and is one of the major reasons games end up in development limbo/hell. one game can’t be everything to everyone, and star citizen quickly became about Rsi promising things they had no idea how to develop or deliver.

        Good work on them getting people to fork out nearly 120 million dollars (400k in single day during gamescom), but they have to date over promised and under delivered. Maybe a smaller budget would have ended up with a game with tighter focus, and actually working on tech that exists.

        I hope they can eventually deliver everything they promised, and people you don’t need to defend them, they are sitting pretty with a pile of cash that is larger than most people homes, they don’t need you to defend them, because they are quite able to defend and litigate for themselves.

        • You have a few things wrong. The Kickstarter came first, then came the website where they kept crowdfunding going. The initial idea was so that he didn’t have to take private investment money as he already had some investors lined up. Literally the company as it is today didn’t exist until months after, so yes they have had delays along the way but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. He had to build the entire game company from scratch which isn’t easy.

        • You’re welcome to your own views on the software development process, naturally, but from personal experience I don’t see any issues with CIG’s progress to date. Unexpected hurdles are common in software development (and especially game development) and are hard to budget time for.

          In Star Citizen’s case, CIG expected Crytek to introduce 64-bit coordinate precision into CryEngine but it was decided this wasn’t the right path for the engine to take, so CIG had to overhaul the engine to support it themselves. If you’re not familiar with game engines like UE or CryEngine, changing the coordinate system’s precision is a huge undertaking.

          Proof of concept development isn’t usually relevant to overall product development time either. In most companies, they internally consider development started when the project is authorised, after proof of concept and just before resource allocation. By all accounts, Star Citizen’s resource allocation began in early 2013 after the completion of the Kickstarter. CIG can include the POC time if they want, but if you’re going to compare with development time in other companies you should exclude it for better equivalence.

          AAA titles take time to develop, particularly so for new titles (ie. not sequels). The typical development time is 5 years, as seen in titles like Witcher 1, GTA5 and Fallout 4. Others are much longer, including this year’s Doom (9 years), LA Noire (7 years), Mad Max (6-8 years depending on reports), etc. In most cases, tech-heavy games run into the higher end of the spectrum.

          Right now, Star Citizen is coming up on 4 years, if comparing against these other titles. You don’t have to follow its development or hope daily that it’ll come out tomorrow, and you don’t have to back it either if you don’t want to, but it’s much too early to be concerned about development time at this stage. They could take another 2-3 years and it’d still be quite reasonable for a AAA title.

          (Edited to fix UE4 references to CryEngine because brain fart, and RSI to CIG because they’re easy to mix up)

        • Star Citizen didn’t have feature creep; Star Citizen had a one-time feature explosion at the very beginning of development when they realized they’d be getting on the order of 50x their hoped for investment.

          It would have been insane at that point not to have reevaluated the proposed design. 99%+ of development has occurred after that point that you’re dwelling on. That’s not feature creep.

      • Pretty sure the original release date was November 2014, and one version of the TOS stated that consumers had to allow 18 months after that (May 2016) before CIG would be liable to refund unused pledges and provide financial accountability.

    • I sometimes read people say development started in 2011… the kickstarter finished end of November 2012 and they only got the first proper dev team together in 2013.
      Maybe they worked on the very early concept video from 2011 but I’m sure that was only a handful of people working on it.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m a backer (Avenger package in early 2014, not spending a cent more)), and frustrated at the slow progress but the proper “start of development” didn’t start until Q1 2013.

      Chris Roberts has said Squadron 42 will be out at the end of the year… I do hope so, but there’s tons of games to play until it comes out. I’d rather they delay it to make it right – not like the content-lacking No Man’s Sky.

      • The people who state dev started 2011 was Rsi and Chris himself, he and a select group started doing dev and modelling in 2011, so as to produce a POC that they could shop to publishers, when they made no headway they went the crowd funding route.

        • Yeah, this. Development doesn’t begin at the kickstarter, and if it does there is trouble afoot.

          • Even then five years isn’t anything outside of the ordinary for a “premium” game, I don’t see why people celebrate other games that took longer to develop and then try and throw SC under the bus.

      • I’d venture to say that if by some miracle S42 Chapter 1 came out at the end of the year, it would die, sales-wise. It has been largely pre-sold and the end of the year will include Infinite Warfare, which will probably satisfy the FPS crowd who might otherwise have been interested in a space game featuring FPS (amongst other things). CIG will need a heck of a marketing budget to make any headway in 2016.

        • But the question is; do they need initial sales? They have after all already made $120M and could probably afford to wait until a later content update to find other avenues for profit.

          • Of course, this is the magic question, because CIG’s financials are not disclosed. The general consensus is that CIG would burn about US$3,000,000 per month keeping its studios going. Being generous and saying that the $3 million started in about 2014, you’ve got around 32 months totaling $96 million to date. As a completely uninformed guess, I’d say that if CIG stopped raising money they’d have to close shop inside 12 months. There are rumours that CIG has other sources of finance (i.e. actual investors) but it is clear from the ship sales that it relies on backers for the majority of funding. I think the only ace in the hole would be approaching a console game publisher, since consoles are an untapped market for CIG as yet. Judging from how the engine struggles on a high-end PC though, a publisher would want convincing that the end product would actually run on the console.

  • Currently you’d have access to the hanger, Artcorp, Arena Commander & the baby PU. The next content patch (2.5) is in the public testing phase at the moment and is expected to drop sometime over the next fortnight, it’ll add an alternative spawning location plus some more ships and stuff.

    If you haven’t played it yet, I’d recommend waiting till 3.0 drops in a few months as that’s what they were showing at gamescom. It will have the entire stanton system as opposed to a few space stations, as well as new features and more ships.

  • I’m sure that bastard @Cymelion enjoyed hearing me salivate over this on skype.

    Damn you Cy. Damn you. lol

  • I dropped $1250 on Star Citizen. I always wanted it to be a no compromises space game and I don’t care if it takes 8-10 years to come out. The last Real Wing Commander game was released in 1996. Chris knows what he’s doing. We’ve reverse engineered Privateer 1 and a lot of what we see in Star Citizen is a continuation of that vision. He’s basically taking Wing Commander and Privateer and made them have an MMO capable baby. The modular design approach they’ve taken is definitely the correct approach. I worked on an open source game with similar goals to Star Citizen starting in 2000. We got planetary terrain, a universe, trading, space combat and online multiplayer all working (we never did get the FPS part started.). We did have issues with making the game but that was due to a lack of decent developer tools and manpower. Chris has the right vision and the right design process. It’s just a matter of getting it done and Chris is working on that every day.

    • Wow man, I was about to slap myself when I melted down my Retaliator for a Reclaimer, but holy crap over $1200? What are your living expenses like where its chill to put that much into a game.

      Worth noting that I also have the base pass pack for the Aurora and a V.Harbinger; both of which have LTI. -______- I need help.

    • …except the days he goes to the Italian Riviera… or Hawaii… or the days he spends flying from the US to the UK to Germany and back again. Not saying he doesn’t deserve a holiday from time to time, but the way he runs the operation is by many accounts extremely micro-managed. Many people think that CIG is a group of very talented individuals, but management is what is letting the team down. Chris has a dream but he is not a great manager and is not a great businessman.

      • So sayeth Derek Smart, the only dev ever known thats proud to have only like 10% of his games have favourable reviews on steam.

        • If he’s such a great manager why has he constantly made promises about deadlines in the past that weren’t met, and then stopped making promises about deadlines at all (except for the recent ‘end of the year’ for Alpha 3.0 ‘the magical build’ TM)? Why was Star Marine canned, then Chris became annoyed when people complain about it, then told us ‘it’s already in the game’ and now it’s apparently coming back? Chris runs the show like it’s some dream factory instead of a business operation.

          • I think Roberts’ problem is he has the skills and talent to be a great designer and manager, but his methods are more effective with smaller teams and development practices from 10 years ago. He was out of the industry for a long time and his methods need some adapting to modern workflows. Side note, I absolutely loathe micromanagement, but it is effective in small teams when done correctly.

            I do agree with vaegrand though, Derek Smart is the last person anyone should be listening to when it comes to game development, his own games and development methods have been wildly unsuccessful. I also have low tolerance for people who admit they deliberately try to piss people off as entertainment.

          • Yeah I understand what you say about Derek Smart. He may come across as abrasive, but I think that is beside the point. You don’t have to be a developer to spot flaws in the operation. I agree with you that Chris Roberts is big on design. There’s no way he could have inspired the current funding without having a powerful vision and the skill to translate that into a product description. Unfortunately it seems that in fact the product is just beautiful bits of design stapled together in the clumsiest way possible.

          • Look the fact that for some reason Chris feels the need to be every where is a little ridiculous, but over all I am not upset with the product we are being given; nor the fact that some of the delays were caused by unforeseeable circumstances.

            Derek on the other hand is literally cancer;
            Just a quick search shows why his opinion should always have been taken with a grain of salt. The guy can’t make a “good” game to save his life and yet gets treated like some kind of solid source when it comes to critiquing SC.

          • Yeah look out of Star Citizen and any of Derek Smart’s games, I’d probably play Star Citizen 🙂 That being said, I’m pretty skeptical about it ever being a good game.

          • @Zambayoshi thats because the industries main publishers make every one sceptical of big budget titles and the numerous kickstarter indie scams have conditioned us to be negative towards most promising indie titles.

            SC is both of those things so its natural that people should aggressively resist its marketing campaign and have disdain for the relatively slow development time.

            I remember when underdog stories were popular.

  • Its only been in development for 4 years and Diablo 3 was in development for 7 years not to mention GTAV 10 years they started on that before they finished 4. You have to remeber in 2011 it was pitched then in 2012 the initial crowdfunding began in that time after the studio was being put together and hiring of staff took place. I think people forget these things and that CIG is a new studio built from the ground up to develop Star Citizen.

  • i still remember that day, small mention on a website news article that the guy behind wing commander was going to do another space combat game. i signed up for details from the news letter, etc. i guess i would describe myself as curious and hopeful.

    when crowdfunding promises were released warning bells starting ringing and i held of backing it.

    skip forward to today and some of the questions raised about the project, its size and scope makes me extremely wary.

    that said I want this game to live up to what its promising and that im wrong, but those warning bells are still ringing for me

    • Especially when Chris said a year or more ago that if funding stopped they could still finish the game, and then a several months later said that if funding stopped they could still finish the game but it wouldn’t be as ‘feature complete’ as promised, and then several months after that he talked about releasing a ‘minimum viable product’…

      All the while they are spruiking JPGs of ships that they have admitted won’t be in the game ‘at launch’.

        • You aren’t denying that Chris said those things? I think concern that the game may not end up releasing in the form that was actually promised is pretty valid, based on stuff like that. For all that CIG touted transparency from the very beginning they sure do like to change the goal posts. It suggests that even top management is flying the operation by the seat of its pants and has no idea where this project is going to end up.

          • I won’t deny something that I can’t remember, will look it up later when not on my lunch break.

            A lot of games can experience feature creep and normally ones without Publishers do have issues with sticking to dead lines. I am not gonna say that I think the current development time is 100% acceptable, but to be honest I also don’t know what its like to manager 100+ people; especially when you are trying to make a product that is actually kinda insane for current gen tech.

            I just think you have to take the good with the bad and I feel like a lot of the references you make are straight from the mouth of possibly one of the most inept developers the world has ever seen.

  • Maybe if they followed Elite Dangerous, where they release a base Space Shoot’em Up and add key features along the way they would not have all the Vapourware criticism? A game of this magnitude should take a minimum of 5 years to develop so I am still happy to wait.

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