Making Sense of Star Citizen

It started as a successful kickstarter.

And it has grown into a monstrosity that is bleeding into other games. Twice this week while playing other games, someone made a comment about Star Citizen. And how they were getting ready for it. For a game slated to launch in November of 2014.

Granted, you can get in and play around a bit with it now. The standalone hanger module is available to anyone buying a package of $30+ (think the ambulation in EVE) which allows you to walk around your hanger and visit the spaceship you bought with your pledge. And supposedly the dogfight (limited PvP?) module is not terribly far off (though I still haven’t found a date on it yet).

You may have guessed by my tone that I am skeptical. I am. I passed on the KS because of what I would call “yellow flags” – too little information combined with what seemed to be a very ambitious plan. The feelings continued as I wondered around the Roberts Space Industries website last night. Everything is polished (too polished) and everything is beautiful (too beautiful). And everything I wanted to look at directed me back to Store > Products. In the back of my head was a line from the original Matrix movie: “The digital pimp, hard at work.”

On the one hand, that makes sense. For a game that has raised over $23,000,000 from crowdsourcing, the expectations are a little different. Polish and glitz need to be the norm. And for a project this ambitious, $23m is not enough – so there is a clear need to keep pushing. Sell more. Make the dream a reality. One thing for sure – Chris Roberts is obviously obsessed with making this a reality. And so far, he is making steps towards pulling it off.

I just wish I had a little more information. There are some great YouTube videos of the hanger module, giving you looks at the ships that have been “done” already (though done is a relative term here). I recommend Disco Lando’s series, which is current with the most recent patch and doesn’t feauture the usual stilted dialogue overlay.

So, I will be watching closely and with interest. And I will admit I am tempted – the ship models look great, and there is the siren call of a neat game concept there (not to mention how well done the digital sales brochures are – check out the PDF you can download). And lets face it, Mouse’s rejoinder to the “digital pimp” line is compelling as well: “Pay no attention…to deny our impulses is to deny what makes us human.” Still…for the time being, I will just watch with my wallet closed, it will be with a wary eye.

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11 thoughts on “Making Sense of Star Citizen

  1. Roberts is the guy behind Wing Commander, and the ship designs show it. I know a couple people that are very enthusiastic about it right now. Then, as you said, it became a big topic of conversation in TeamSpeak on Wednesday while I was playing TSW with a completely group of people. Like you, I am in wait-n-see mode.

  2. I am waiting as well. As you said, it looks… too good. I want to know where the catch is? Every game has a catch somewhere, something that doesn’t appeal to everyone, or you just ignore yourself while you play. Where’s the catch? Or will it be spreading such a wide net that it misses the niche appeal… hmmm….

    What are your thoughts on Shroud of the Avatar? Now there’s a game I ponied up for instantly, possibly because I’m a huge Ultima fan (though never played Ultima Online), but I think it’s more than that. The graphics are currently circa 2006 quality, but the fact they show them proudly means something, like no matter what stage the game is in, they’re ecstatic to show it. That’s some great transparency. If everything looks perfect… it seems… off. Nothing is perfect.

  3. I pledged high enough for Star Citizen that I have the hanger module, and I carry my Star Citizen ID card with me in my wallet. I’m sold on the game and eagerly awaiting it, if only because I can still have faith in promises alone (some call that naivete, I suppose).

    You should really check out the “TV commercials” produced for the ships on YouTube. They’re stellar, and remind me heavily of high-budget car commercials.

    In the mean time, I’m also following the development of Limit Theory, another starship sandbox game with less ambitious goals.

  4. Believe me Ben, I have spent the last 24 hours in a veritable orgy of evidence (Minority Report anyone?) on the game. I’ve watched every video and read every forum post I could get my hands on. And it still hasn’t been enough to convince me to get in. I think for two reasons –

    1) I haven’t seen anything other than ideas. No interface, no ui, no concept of what a screen would look like. Nada. Except…for Squadron 42 footage. Which is great, but not what I would be buying into the game for.

    2) If someone handed me the hanger for EVE online…or even SWTOR for that matter…and said, look here is this game, and here is what it will do, give us money, I probably would. And if I’m honest with myself, when I got to the rest of the game, I would be disappointed. Tl;dr – the hanger is the easy part. You want my money, show me the game itself. Give me less brochure videos (which are incredible tbh, and a lot of fun) and give me just a two minute video of what it might look like to find a job, take a job, lift off, and fly/jump in space. Two minutes.

    That’s not to say I think this is vaporware. Or that I want it to fail. I love everything I’ve seen so far, and its really hard not to pull out my wallet and buy a 315, because that thing is slick (outside of being the only ship so far that has a crew area *with no bed*). I just am one of those people that’s going to wait awhile longer.

    Speaking of which – what ship did you have or have you bought so far?

    1. I pledged high enough to get the Aurora. I have intentionally not purchased any of the other ships, because what you’re actually paying for is not the ship itself (which you DO get), but the permanent unlimited insurance on said ship.

      You can get all of the ships in-game, so I’ve never seen the need to actually pay real dollars for infinite insurance on any but the “basic” ship. The only ship that you will never be able to get with game time is the capital ship, but that’s so expensive that I can’t justify the expenditure.

  5. Lukewarm

    Too little information? There are tons of ingame footage. Chris Roberts playing the game in front of journalists and big audiences. Many videos directly made from the game. Live dev content from the live streams. The playable Hangar Module. The Dogfighting Module, that will ship in December. The website with the weekly Dev Show full of new information about the game. The subscriber magazine. And Dev QA-Forums, where the developers are talking with the supporters every single day.

    What else do you people need to get an idea about what the game will be? A full game release? This is crowdfunding project! You trust a project that is in development and you support the vision. That’s the point of crowdfunding. The 280,000 people, who have supported the project, aren’t stupid sheep. They know that they are supporting a team of industry veterans, who have brought us the Wing Commander Universe and games like Starlancer, Strike Commander and Freelancer. Chris Roberts and his team (yes, those people have worked with him in the 90s on all these legendary games) are developing the next iteration of a legendary franchise. These guys have always delivered what they have promised – which exception of Freelancer, that was ruined by Microsoft. The fans know that. That’s why they have no doubt that Chris Roberts and his team will deliver once again. By the way, if you watch Star Trek, Star Wars or Avatar, you some of the work these people have done in the past.

    The problem is not that there aren’t enough information and footage. The problem is that you are too lazy to find that stuff. Or you have unrealistic expectations. This is not the 26th iteration of Call of Duty, that was announced and presented three months prior its release. This is a crowdfunding project. Pre-Alpha, yes, but the devs invite you to follow them on every step of the development. You just have to join them. If you fail to see, how amazing that is for the industry, you really deserve your mainstream MMOs.

    1. There are two sets of ingame footage – what was played recently from Squadron 42, which is demonstrating the single player military combat from that standalone module, and the hanger module, which I linked to videos of in the blogpost (you read the post, right?). Neither of them show Star Citizen the non-mainstream MMO that you are touting.

      Now, in contrast, here is a link to a one man indy MMO project less than a year in development, with no cash backing that I can actually get into and *play* to see what the finished product might be like – http://projectgorgon.com/ So, I am not asking too much of a pre-alpha or of Roberts. The legendary developer. Who has never developed an online project or an MMO. Because that transition has never wrecked a legendary set of game designers (*cough*Bioware*cough*). And making a single player game to show off your future multiplayer release has never gone south before (*cough*38Studios*cough*).

      Find me the two minute clip I described in the comment above yours. That’s not too much to ask.

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