For an Open World Universe Sim (yes that is now a real thing), Star Citizen has broken a lot of records. Today it’s funding has reached a record $141,095,135 in donations from project backers. To break down the numbers yet more, in December 2016, Star Citizen was raising an average of $75,000-$85,000 per day. Their website says all money goes toward development but there have been some controversial statements made by project detractors that the entire project is an elaborate scam.
These views appear to be in the vocal minority however as evidenced by the continued strong growth not only money raised through crowd funding but the size of the actual crowd itself. The project started in 2012 on their own website one week prior to launch of the crowdfunding campaign on Kick-starter. Since then the number of “citizens” has grown to an incredible 1.7 million. Nearly two million people signing up to join “the verse” is no small achievement despite what detractors might argue.
Star Citizen is rather empty at the moment but AI subsumption promises to change all that.
Star Citizen has long had an active and passionate community. The games creator is Chris Roberts, known for earlier titles such as Wing Commander and Freelancer. Those titles have earned him considerable benefit of the doubt with many sci-fi fans who long for a return to the golden era of PC gaming. Perhaps this is why Star Citizen has been able to withstanding continued criticism from detractors. Chris Roberts has said from the very start his goal is to create a community not a game.
CIG Chairman Chris Roberts at PAX Australia to discuss Star Citizen.
The project weathered a PR nightmare when disgruntled ex employees leaked details of the CIG (Cloud Imperium Games) corporate culture to the media. They claimed Chris Roberts had to sign off on every step of the project and demanded control over every design element, game asset, character, concept and more. These alleged former employees were unhappy with how this level of micromanagement and control was holding up and unnecessarily delaying the project. While there is no doubt Star Citizen will be a generation defining title when it is complete, the challenge will be getting to that point – and getting to that point in a timely manner. The longer the project delays, the more polarised and unhappy elements of that community Roberts is building will become.
Planetary landing and exploration in soon to be released Alpha 3.0 promises much if CIG can deliver the goods.
Alpha 2.6.1 and beyond
The recent release of Alpha 2.6 and the highly anticipated (albeit long delayed) first person shooter module dubbed ‘Star Marine’ was made available for download last month. Backers were able to get their hands on new locations such as Echo 11 and Station Demien and explore space with new ships coming through the development pipeline.
Community backers are quite engaged in ways rarely seen for similar crowd funded projects. CIG has noticed this and continually looks at ways to grow and support the community and find new ways for early backers to contribute beyond simply play testing the various iterative development stages.
Toward that end, the devs have added a neat new ‘Director mode’ to their camera controls and this feature has already begun to spawn a variety of quite interesting 4K projects on YouTube.
Where to from here and what does 2017 promise the patient “citizens” of the verse? Chris Roberts has released a media statement (via DualShockers) about plans moving forward for Star Citizen 2.6.1 and beyond.
There are many exciting things in store for Star Citizen this year. We’ll continue to modify and improve our game engine to better suit Star Citizen’s unique needs. Gameplay will get deeper as new systems come online to provide players the chance to do more than pew-pew. I also expect exciting advancements as we integrate our revolutionary tech, like subsumption and procedural planets, into the game. On the Community front, we’ll be releasing Spectrum, our new and improved community platform, and revamping our current shows and adding new ones in an effort to best communicate with all of you.
This week Star Citizen devs got back to work after some much deserved time off. Presently the Production Team is huddled with the different team leads updating and detailing out the tasks we have for this year. You’ll begin to see some of these details once we’ve had the opportunity to refine the Star Citizen and Squadron 42 schedules.
We were happy to see positive feedback from the Alpha 2.6 release and impressed by the number of stunning videos and images being created with the new camera controls. We have been digesting both our own and your thoughts on Alpha 2.6 now that it has been live for two weeks. We are planning releasing an incremental patch, 2.6.1 with some of the features that slipped out of 2.6, bug fixes for increased stability (although 2.6 was possibly our most stable patch to date) as well as continued balance and gameplay tweaks. Expect to hear more details on timing in the next couple of weeks.
2016 was a noteworthy year in Star Citizen’s development. 2017 with Squadron 42 and Alpha 3.0 is looking to be even better.
It’s already clear a lot of what was teased at last year’s much hyped Alpha 3.0 demo is starting to take shape and will likely drop all at once.
With AI Subsumption (allowing for the introduction of AI, crowds and AI driven behaviour) the verse will begin to feel less empty. Walking around Arc Corp or GrimHEX at the moment just doesn’t feel alive due to the complete lack of any NPCs.
Procedural planets promises full planetary landing and atmospheric flight with the tantalising idea that in the not to distant future (no pun intended) players may have the ability to ‘homestead’ or have some control establishing basic module buildings on player surfaces.
Organisations could potentially fly to a distant planet, land and start up their own offworld pirate base but not with the same level of fidelity as the dev constructed player landing zones. Your homestead won’t be no Mos Eisley but it could be a Lars homestead for you and your buddies to chill and catch that twin sunset drift over the horizon.
It’s the little details such as this which drive the funding goals of Star Citizen because they get gamers excited about experiencing not just a level or series of missions but the opportunity to experience an entire universe of possibility. The term “Living, breathing, open world” is massively overused by game developers when describing their game. I still remember when the EA devs on the Godfather game (PC) back in 2006 used those exact words to describe their title. I got hyped at the possibility of living in a 1940s New York battling gangsters and just doing my own thing – however my hopes were dashed when I realised all living breathing meant was it had NPCs that ran away when you shoot at them. What intrigues about Star Citizen is not flying around blasting other players or NPCs in space battles but landing on a remote planet and just watching the sunset. Intergalactic camping trips and just hanging out with friends exploring planets is just as valid a play style as bounty hunting or piracy. If Star Citizen can stay on course as it has throughout 2016 then 2017 looks to be a promising year for not only the Star Citizen backers but PC gamers everywhere.
You may be interested
South Africa cruises to victory over Sri LankaSimon Dunn - Jan 21, 2017
CENTURION, South Africa (AP) — South Africa continued its test-winning form against Sri Lanka with a 19-run victory on Friday…
Prince William retires from flyingLaura Girver - Jan 21, 2017
LONDON (AP) — Prince William will soon leave his job as an air ambulance helicopter pilot to spend more time…
Just what the doctor ordered? What to expect in first 100 daysJason Monyela - Jan 21, 2017
WASHINGTON (AP) — America is getting what it ordered on Election Day. If anyone was expecting an evolution from Donald…