A citizen of the stars

There is a game in development, the title is ‘Star Citizen‘, I am unlikely to play it at present as I am a console player and I do not have the PC needed for decent gaming. Yet, I have always had a good view on games and gaming. As the news on this game is getting hyped in a weird way, it is time for me to step in and let me give you, the people (the readers) a view that matters.

First of all, my initial exposure to the game Star Citizen was about 4-5 months ago. The game seemed decent in a graphical way. It showed to be buggy as hell (read glitched), but in itself that is not a fair assessment. You see, the game was still in development, it was not even an Alpha version. I kept that in mind as I was looking at what I call to be, a product that is not in a reviewable position. The first view you must take comes from Bluedrake42 (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0pqkf8WXPE).

You need to see this to the end, because there are a few views that matter. Like him I understand game development. He goes on about Cry engine versus Unreal engine. I stand in the middle, yet his view ‘they made massive progress‘ and ‘they are close to making a decent finished product‘. This is a view from October 4th 2015 (yes, World Animal Day). He then compares towards Elite Dangerous and No Mans Sky. His view: ‘it will be good in its own right‘, which is a fair assessment. He moves towards the issue of the expectations of the people. I personally think that he is trying to address the hyped expectations of an emotionally pushed audience, which is not the same. That is the part we cannot win, because it is an illusionary view that is not in league to the things that matter here.

So what to think of the views, the scandals and the illusion of the funded crowds.

For that we need to take a view on Forbes (at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jasonevangelho/2015/10/04/star-citizen-developer-threatens-lawsuit-against-the-escapist-demands-apology-and-retraction/). It refers to the escapists issues that seems to be an issue on several levels. When we step back, there is an issue on communication and project management. When we take a step back we can see that there is an issue. The question becomes, do we keep on building or do we finish a part and then move on? David Braben opted for solution 2 with Elite Dangerous, which does not invalidate option one. I am not having a go at Chris Roberts or at Cloud Imperium Games. Why should I? I play on consoles and I am happy that universe based games are growing. You see, with Star Citizen around, both No Mans Sky and Elite Dangerous will up their game to make that game an even better game and I the gamer will win, you the gamer will win too.

So what is this about the escapist?

The following quote matters: “Star Citizen is an ambitious space simulation title from industry veteran Chris Roberts. The game began as a passion project, drawing inspiration from Wing Commander and Freelancer. Star Citizen promised a triumphant return to the space-sim genre by combining a huge universe with multiple gameplay options, a massive variety of ships, and no subscription fees“, this sounds interesting and it seems a little like Elite Dangerous. That part matters when we consider the next two quotes on the article “It’s never been done because it can’t be done. – Several sources” and “The popular consensus among most of the people who reached out is that Chris Roberts is not intentionally a con man; “He doesn’t set out in the morning to screw anybody over. He’s just incredibly arrogant,” CS2 stated“.

Now to take a look at the previous two quotes. You see ‘it cannot be done‘ is the first part we can burn down. Not only is Elite dangerous doing what Star Citizen is achieving (when you include Elite Dangerous Horizons), the parts that were promised can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ccKp1n13jQ. Which shows things that Elite Dangerous cannot deliver at present. In addition, what the movie shows is pretty amazing. Star Citizen shows an overwhelming approach Elite could not do when it was initially made (48Kb is not enough resources). Elite Dangerous is trying to get close what the current video is delivering. I will not step away from Elite Dangerous, but what the movies show makes me want to have a decent gaming PC.

It is the second part that is now an immediate concern, which is “consensus among most of the people who reached out is that Chris Roberts is not intentionally a con man“, so is this about defamation? ‘Most of the people who reached out‘ is an issue now. You see, the game has been in development for 3 years. This is no longer a mere simple space game. The FPS part of the game is like an upgraded version of Mass Effect in first person view. Better stated it is a very much upgraded version of Half-Life in space. So yes the game is still in development, it is in an Alpha version and it shows elements of Elite Dangerous, elements of Half-Life and elements of Mass Effect.

Have things been overpromised? It is hard to tell; when I consider the progress that I have seen over 4 months, that part is massive. An open sandbox of the universe which could be seen as a true open space MMO is pretty amazing. In opposition the allegations against the team and more important Chris Roberts is pretty far out there. Especially when we consider the growth, the evolution and what seems to be working at this very moment is just too overwhelming. So why is there a growing anti-Star citizen here?

It is a crowd funded game. The fact it drew in well over 80 million is a little big, but the game is growing towards the levels we are not used to see. At this point, the alpha looked better and more stable than Assassins Creed Unity did after it was released. So why the anti-CIG mode? There are all kinds of allegations out there, yet actual evidence is still to be shown. CIG has been very communicative (as far as the pages show me) and in addition, Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts have been on a mission to create something unique and so far the intense growth makes me wonder where the anti-movement is from. The fact that this independent product is coming from crowdfunding, whilst several triple A developers have not been that successful either, apart from the usual examples I have used makes it all more questionable. In this case I would like to mention Drive Club, a Sony game that was supposed to blow us away in 2014, which is likely to end up becoming the free PlayStation Plus game no one wants to download.

In my view, No Mans Sky will be the amazing product we hope it is and the designers will unveil it when they are ready and this is stated to be in June 2016. I will await that moment. Star Citizen is the game that will be released at some point and is already showing to be an amazing experience. Elite Dangerous remains my choice and it delivered the upgraded game on a massive scale that the CBM-64 version could never deliver and in all that the game experience transferred in an amazing way. The movies show Star Citizen to be on par with other space game Sims and I feel that it is decently certain that whomever crowdfunded this will end up with a copy of the game that they will love (from the game-play movies I saw), which makes it a game that might become a legend in its own right.

In all this, where does the escapist magazine remain? Well, there remains the view that the article shows (if no proper evidence is shown) that they could be in a defamation mess. In this, additionally I must state that there is enough evidence out there that that the game will become a reality, which does not mean that serious questions should not be asked. Yet, is that bad?

You see, through crowdfunding they needed 2 million and it seems that they ended up with ninety million, so the scope of the game has grown almost exponentially, this is not a bad thing. It does however come with a new dimension in problems. You see a 90 million game would be massively different in scope than a 2 million game. This implies that you the reader should keep a massive amount of skepticism in view of the allegations, especially when no one is willing to put a name with those claims.

As a game reporter, I have issues. I am not a fan of crowd funding, yet Elite Dangerous was done through that and is the success the players are loving. There are a few other successes, but for the most it is not a stable choice to make. Now Star Citizen is likely to be next success. With that we get another game where we get to become gamers who become citizens of a star system far far away, something many of the big developers were never able to do.

So I am ending with one more side, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gawRjeZisYY shows a pre Beta game with responses from gamers. A 1st person part that is amazing (remember: pre Beta). Just one ship, flying around, walking around, which indicates that, even though delayed, the people who are on the Star Citizen train are about to get an experience that gaming has never delivered before, is that not what gaming is about? I will remain an Elite Dangerous fan, yet I can clearly see that this game will end up with a fan base that is massive, I have no doubt about that. Consider all the titles I mentioned in this article, how many of them allow to EVA to a derelict spaceship? None of them!

Realise that and consider where any of the valid anti-Star Citizen arguments remain.

Consider the elements:

  1. A crowd funder has no rights to decide the company’s course.
  2. A crowd funder is entitled to a finished product.
  3. Crowd funders are entitled to updated communications from the makers.

And if there is one valid part of opposition in all this, than it is the part on management. Yes, as far as I can see, errors were indeed made, errors in the scope that are made all over the world on a daily basis. When you suddenly learn that you got an additional 88 million to grow your game, you will make a few more errors. Yet these people are not that ‘vocal’ when it is not ‘See Eye Gee’ that is making the errors, but another three lettered company that has had its share of bungles and screw ups all over its corporation (costing millions in the process), It is called ‘Eye Bee Emm’.

Cloud Imperium Games has done element three, it is working on element two and so far we see can see element one is not in play. So please do not give in to hypes (positive or negative) and  consider the sources of any scandals implied and keep whatever thoughts you have and await the playable demo that is either Beta or a final version. I can only wish Cloud Imperium Games the best of luck and I look forward to take a real testing look at the finished product.

 

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