Director Chris Roberts has reaffirmed that multiplayer space game Star Citizen is “not a pipe dream, nor will it take 10 to 20 years to deliver;” in response to criticism of a feature shown in a developer diary four years ago seemingly not being in the alpha-build today.
YouTuber Camural brought his concerns about the project (made in a recent video) to the Star Citizen forums. Camural’s concerns are regarding the room system and air pressurization; citing a developer diary from 2016, discussing the feature in its “early days”.
In short, the developer diary shows rooms can be pressurized and oxygenated to prevent players needing to wear a spacesuit inside a ship. Should a room begin to vent air or otherwise drop in air pressure, the connected rooms will also adjust their air pressure at different rates depending on where they are in relation to that room.
Camural points out that four years later and in closed alpha, he can open the hanger into space without a spacesuit to no ill effect. There is no drop in oxygen or being blown into space due to the sudden shift in pressure.
He can even walk into space via a ramp, begin to take damage as there is no oxygen, and then walk back into the oxygenated ship. In his forum post, Camural also points out his ship has no air shields (providing a barrier of air around the ship).
On planets with dangerous atmosphere (such as being extremely hot), Camural found a similarly abrupt cut-off in conditions between the planet’s surface and re-entering his ship.
While standing on the planet gave him a count-down timer on how long he had to live, this vanished the second he returned to his ship- despite the open hangar door. The timer continues from where it left off when he walks onto the planet again.
Camural states the developers are “still faking it” in his video, and suggests no such air-pressure system has been implemented. He also criticizes how it breaks immersion, and indicative of how “like many, many, many other things in Star Citizen” advertised features have not been implemented years after their announcement.
The project’s history has been under scrutiny due to its large funding and long development time. Starting development in 2012, the project would eventually raise over $300 million USD by June 14th in crowdfunding. In 2014 the game had already entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest crowdfunded project of all time.
The game’s planned release date has been delayed time and again, until the game’s single-player campaign (Squadron 42) was delayed indefinitely. May have grown concerns about the game ever being released.
Players and backers concerns grew as Cloud Imperium Games sold ships and bundles worth thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, and made seemingly frivolous purchases on Star Trek-style sliding doors for their offices. One popular claim was that these doors could have cost up to $9,500 USD.
In 2015, The Escapist ran two articles (later deleted). These discussed designer Derek Smart’s allegations of the project being a “long-con,” his attempts to call for vetting of the developer’s financials, and allegations of four staff leaving after Smart’s allegations became public.
The second article focused on sources (former and current employees speaking anonymously), stating the project was over-ambitious, became “more about the campaign and less about the actual game.”
Roberts also allegedly had high ambitions (though not running a scam), ignored input from others. The work environment at CIG was also claimed to be abusive, that funds had been used for personal use and other business projects, seven-figure salaries, and CIG hemorrhaging money and employees.
Roberts denied the game was designed to launch in 2 years once the scope grew with funds raised, along with denying all other claims. In his (now removed) public statement on the matter, Roberts claimed The Escapists’ sources had been “a few bitter ex-employees,” and that Smart had a vendetta.
While not mentioned in the public statement, Forbes reported that ICG demanded The Escapist apologize to Roberts wife (who was accused of using some of the funds), the Human Resources manager (accused of using abusive language), publish an apology, and hire a third party to investigate how the article was published; along with “any bias of your staff and their involvement with other interested parties and any conspiring arrangements between them.”
The Escapist manager editor John Keefe later posted (now deleted) on The Escapist forums, stating the outlet stood by what they posted and would continue to develop the story, including additional sources who came forward. Even so, they said they would accept Roberts’ offer to visit the developers for interviews, and added Roberts’ comments to their articles.
Smart later shared a statement from DEFY Media (the parent company of The Escapist) stating “In response to your request for comment, I can share that CIG and The Escapist have mutually agreed to delete their comments about each other. We wish each other well and look forward to better relations in 2017.”
In 2018 Cloud Imperium Games released their financial information, revealing they had spent $193.3 million USD since 2012, with $48.8 million in 2017. $14.23 million had been kept in reserve, and generated $200 million USD in revenue.
Roberts responded to Camural’s post. “I wouldn’t normally do this but I know you’ve invested a lot of time into Star Citizen,” Roberts explains, “including on the testing and community content creation so I’m going to take your reply to as a sign of frustration and try to add a little more context to help you see a bigger picture.”
In summation, Roberts states (after dismissing Camural’s “sweeping statements,” “ad hominems,” and cynicism with “modern internet discourse”), explained CIG was “constantly reviewing and trying to improve our AGILE development process and how we estimate sprints.”
As such, features being pushed back was so other elements they required could be done first (such as Salvage needing iCache and physical damage systems). Earlier Roberts stated “Part of my motivation for answering is that I commonly see people assume things that aren’t true like the room system not being in the game because one aspect of the system doesn’t have the behavior that they think it should.”
Along with stating CIG had invested more time into quality of life, performance, and stability for the “tens of thousands” playing the alpha build, Roberts also explained the preview of the new roadmap format is also designed to be more transparent on development.
Roberts concluded; emphasizing the project was not a pipe dream.
“I sense from your reply to me that it’s the time taken and priorities that you’re frustrated with, as you feel like we’re focusing on the wrong things. I can see that point of view, but you’re looking at it from the outside without the full knowledge of exactly what it will take, and the order it needs to be done in to deliver the gameplay that will set Star Citizen above everything else. This is the game I’ve dreamed of my whole life. Now I am in a position to realize it, I am not willing to compromise it’s potential because it is taking longer than I originally envisioned. What I will commit to, and what is an internal priority is to improve the current gameplay and quality of life as we go, as Star Citizen is already fun in many ways, even if more buggy and not as stable as I would like, and just finishing off and polishing the basics will make it play as well or better than most other games.
I can promise you the gameplay I described is not a pipe dream, nor will it take 10 to 20 years to deliver. I described systems we either have working, or are working on; we’ve even shown early versions of some of this like fire on Inside Star Citizen. I can’t promise you exactly what quarter it will come together but once the new Road Map web work is done you’ll be able to see the teams progress to achieving what I describe in real time.”
In an update to the video description, Camural states “So he says the room system works but is disabled because life support systems are not ready yet. I just wonder who does the planing? Obviously things will go wrong and one cannot plan for everything in advance, some things will take longer.”
“However,” Camural continues “this is true for every single bit of tech/mechanics in Star Citizen, everything is delayed and delayed and delayed. One wonders if things are planned well, at least a few techs should be on time/about on time?”
Star Citizen is currently in closed alpha, and coming soon to Windows PC.
Image: Roberts Space Industries