If you've been holding out for alpha 3.0 of Star Citizen, you'll need to wait a little while longer.
After originally aiming for a release at the end of August, the launch of alpha 3.0 has been bumped back to early September. A demo of 3.0 was shown off at Gamescom last year, showing many of the systems that will tie Star Citizen together, including moon landings and exploration, a new patcher, new backend functionality, the debut of three new moons, a new item system and more.
There's always been a forthcoming notice on the Star Citizen production schedule, warning that estimates are estimates and can be subject to change at any time. The developers have also put out a number of videos hinting at just how difficult an undertaking Star Citizen has become from its initial vision.
In a separate post that was reported by Eurogamer, Star Citizen director of player relations Will Leverett said the alpha release "introduced variables and challenges that we could never have anticipated" and that the technology was "an order of magnitude larger and more complex than all of our previous versions combined".
Today, 3.0 is about delivering an entirely explorable solar system with the backend services to make it dynamic. It’s about giving us the city and planet building tools to create for you the rest of the universe in an intelligent, scalable, efficient, and compelling manner. It’s about the first step in giving you the tools to create player outposts and communities. It’s about the streaming tech to allow you to take off from one moon, fly across the system, and land on an entirely different moon, the driving a freaking sweet buggy out of the back of your ship to race around the entire planet... all without a loading screen. It’s about giving you the ability to buy what’s on the web inside kiosks. It’s about usable turret gameplay, and Items 2.0 so you can customise your own ship with new components. It’s about picking objects and cargo so you can haul commodities across space as a trader and merchant. It’s about gutting a singleplayer engine to support thousands of players.
The response to the announcement has been mixed. Some backers welcomed the decision, saying they understood the reasoning and would prefer that Cloud Imperium delayed the release until the performance was stable enough for wider consumption. "As an investor in CIG I'm interested in their success as a company," one thread on the Star Citizen subreddit reads, "and I would rather spend time and energy helping CIG figure about how be more [sic] transparent with the reasons and details behind the delays rather than pressuring them for delivery." Others noted that the release of 3.0 would also come with the updated patcher, which should make it easier for CIG to roll out smaller updates in the future, thereby reducing the time between updates for backers.
Others pointed to the fortnight-long delay as further evidence of the game hampered by feature creep, and that the focus on 3.0 has detracted from work on core mechanics. Users across social media and forums also criticised the company for the discrepancies between the features that were first announced with 3.0, although backend tools and features have been added to 3.0 since its initial announcement.
Part of Star Citizen's challenge has always been managing expectations, partially because so much of its development is exposed to fans and backers in a way that other games aren't. The massive personal investment some gamers have made over the years only ramps those expectations up, which always creates tensions whenever a delay is announced. Nonetheless, we're expecting to hear more about Star Citizen 3.0 at Gamescom later this month, and hopefully the Squadron 42 singleplayer campaign, which is still scheduled for release some time this year.