July 6th, 2015

Star Citizen will “never get made” as it’s been pitched says Derek Smart

Star Citizen will “never get made” as it’s been pitched says Derek Smart

This week on PC Invasion we’ve talked about the Star Citizen crowdfunding situation in the news and podcast following the update from Chris Roberts announcing that the FPS module’s development had stalled. It’s been a hot topic.

Like some backers, we are concerned about the scope of the game and the amount of funds it’s raised with little to show considering how long ago crowdfunding started. Today developer Derek Smart, who you will know from the Battlecruiser series, posted a blog update looking at the current situation with Star Citizen, the funds it has raised ($85 million to date), and why he thinks it’s just gone to far.

He’s been bold enough to ask a few questions in the lengthy update which you can check out in full. While Derek has struggled with releasing feature complete games for many years (he explains why at great length in his post) there are points in his update that should not be dismissed.

Here’s a few choice snips:

“This game, as has been pitched, will never get made. Ever. There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet, who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150m.

“I have it on good authority that it’s not even on hold (FPS module), but that they’re probably not going to finish it because a) it won’t work within the current framework b) it wasn’t in the original design as spec’ed, since it has ballooned to what it is today. So naturally, it’s the first thing to go, or put on indefinite hold while they figure things out.

“Remember, the game, first and foremost, is a space combat game, not a first person combat game.

“It doesn’t matter than you have an “open” development process with feedback loop to backers. Plus, from what I know, it’s not that open anyway, because there’s only so much that you can tell the public, without inciting panic which is likely to turn off the money spigot. It’s no different from not coming clean with your investors, or publisher, because you don’t want to deal with the drama, or lose funding. Or you’re just being dishonest.”

“The problem that RSI is now faced with, is something that us vets all saw coming a mile away. This level of exposure, all the press, the promises, the hype, the glorious anti-establishment chanting and rhetoric etc – all of it, has a very bad downside.

“And it’s not like the rumblings haven’t been there. Every time there is new press about a funding milestone, or yet another ship concept cash grab, there is some derogatory rhetoric associated with it because most backers are fed up, and just want the game they were promised back in 2012.”

As a backer myself, I have to agree with some of the comments from our readers this week here on PC Invasion. I backed a space sim not a shooter so the fact that the FPS module has stalled can only be positive for the rest of the project.

Earlier this week I mentioned the continual funding of concept ships, and while I know backers are getting caught up in the hype, this really does have to stop. Once there’s an actual game to show as outlined in the pitch then by all means start adding new ships and charging for them. Until then RSI need to stop taking the money and show more progress.

I know Star Citizen will be released at some point, but as Derek states in his blog, it’s unlikely to deliver all the features that have been revealed since feature creep set in. It could take some time for all promised features to appear after an “official release”.

CIG need to prove themselves with a piece of content that is an actual game and hopefully they will do that with Squadron 42. Why the FPS module was pushed ahead of that is a bit of a mystery. StarLancer, which was developed by Warthog here in the UK, was a great game and many of the same team are involved with Squadron 42. Hopefully they will deliver a quality single player experience again.

All backers of Star Citizen want see the game get made, and also have CIG prove that a big budget game can be achieved through crowdfunding without a publisher. We’ll just have to wait patiently and see if that actually happens.

Update: There a also few worrying signs with the rumoured departure of Executive Producer Alex Mayberry.

Update 2: Alex Mayberry’s departure has been confirmed to PC Invasion.

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  • Paul Younger

    Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

    • Josh

      My god you people suck. A project of this scope takes time. Lots of time. Being a little crybaby because you haven’t gotten your toy to play with yet isn’t going to make it appear any faster. The simple fact of the matter is that CIG is NOT doing this the old fashioned way. This is a brand new company making something brand new in a brand new way. It won’t go smoothly, if you expect it to you are delusional. Keep in mind that in traditional game development you wouldn’t have even heard about this game yet… And probably not for a while still. Let’s keep things in perspective. I have been a backer from day one and I could care less if I get my FPS module today or tomorrow or next month. The final product is where it’s at and if you have been following the project at all you would easily be able to recognize the quality and scope they are putting into this. I personally don’t expect anything substantial before 2017…why? Because I’m realistic. Bottom line… Quit fear mongering and write an article about something that matters.

      • andrew nuttall

        The big AAA games take about 5 years to build and up to around 300 million,
        Also I would rather wait for the game to look and pay right then ti be released too early cause of stupid people screaming rip off, example off too early Elite Dangerous released 1.3 too early and everyone is complaining because if all the bugs, look at all the things Chris Roberts ad achieved in the past and leave him and his team alone.

        • Andrew Doughed

          Elite: Dangerous is gorgeous fun, a solid base, and the clear winner as BDSSE until Roberts can pull out of the ditch and release something fun.

          • Dre’ Reavis

            Elite: Dangerous has much lower hanging fruit than Star Citizen. I’m not saying SC is better. I’m definitely saying Star Citizens scope (not talking about galaxy size) appears to be larger. I played the original Elite on my Amiga 1200. It was fun, but it wasn’t Wing Commander.

            • The Real Spartacus

              But SC won’t happen. Not ever.

          • merciful

            Elite Dangerous is a piece of garbage and you´re advertising garbage with all your alts.

            • Paydogs

              I bought both Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous (200 usd in SC, 100 eur in ED). Even while ED is out, I played more SC than ED. ED became repetitive and boring after 10-20 hours.

          • beskar

            You’ve got to be kidding. E:D is a joke of a game. Extremely limited in scope. Old fashioned looking. Sure, it’s an update of an old game and, for people who loved the old game, that’s great. But it’s not ground breaking, revolutionary or any of the things SC is. Comparing the two is SO chalk and cheese it’s not even funny.

        • Zuri595

          The average AAA game takes $300 million? Most AAA games probably cost around $80 million to produce. The most expensive game to produce currently is GTA V, at $265 million, and a lot of that was spent on advertising, which Star Citizen used YouTube for.

          A sandbox MMO like Star Citizen isn’t going to need $300 million

          • Dre’ Reavis

            How much did Star Wars The Old Republic cost? How long was it’s development? With low profile assets and an existing lore. Anyone that invested in 2012 shouldn’t expect anything until 2016.

            • Paydogs

              The keyword is “most”. SW TOR was one of the most expensive game yet. Most AAA games cost around 60-90 million, and some of the games cost more than that. But this amount is only the development cost, the marketing budget is 2-3x more. In time, a more complex AAA games is around 4-6 years to develop. 2016-2017 is not an overwhelmingly huge time to make a game this size…

          • beskar

            And it particularly doesn’t need $300 million as the overheads for their set-up are far, far, far less than what they would be for many other games. This is why crowd funded games are scaring the pants off some on the industry.

          • The Real Spartacus

            You’re dreaming

        • Bill Nonymous

          Funny thing about the “Chris Roberts has achieved” bit.

          He was making basically the exact same game back in 2000 with Freelancer through Digital Anvil, published by Microsoft Game Studios.

          He started work on it in 1997 and then in announced it would be finished by Fall 2000 in 1999…but guess what! it got delayed until 2001!

          And then Microsoft Game Studios acquired Digital anvil, giving them access to millions in funding(amazingly like they have now), and they kept working on it until 2003. A whole 3 years late. AND THIS WAS WITH A PUBLISHER KEEPING THEM ACCOUNTABLE.

          Roberts even left after the MGS acquisition, leaving the team out to handle all the flak from being over the deadline while assuming the role of a “creative consultant”.

          I’m glad he did great with Wing Commander and Freelancer(Which is my personal favorite), but he has nobody to keep him accountable with his $85 million and unlimited free time. He lacks focus in development which when aimed at the right objects is great, but when you start trying to integrate a damn FPS into a space combat sim you’re not doing it right.

        • korval

          Witcher 3 took 3 years with a new engine to develop. And they did it for $65 million. $35 million to develop and $30 to advertise. We’re almost four years into SC development and we don’t even have half a game. The numbers don’t lie. Alex Mayberry’s “personal reasons” probably goes something like this:

          Alex: Chris, I really love this project and all, but I need to be honest with you. The game you proposed and want to make is going to take 10-15 years. We simply don’t have the time or funds to do this.
          Chris: So what do you propose?
          Alex: We need to scale back the game to what was promised from the Kickstarter campaign. We need to scale back the number of systems at launch to 6-10 and no more. People will still get the FPS module and their ships, and we’ll bring new systems online, but we have got to complete this project soon. We’re going to be hitting four years in a couple months. We need to be realistic.
          Alex: It’s not doable with the funds and time. We need to scale down.
          Chris: DFHDFKSDHFKSDHF MY WAY!!!! MY WAY!!!!
          Alex: I hate to do this but you leave me no choice.
          Chris: What are you saying?
          Alex: Effective immediately I resign my position.

          • DeeJay1

            You are aware that the average game programmer wage in Poland is way lower than in the US? Wages are a lot of the costs of creating something (sans marketing). Also Witcher 3 engine wasn’t entirely developed from scratch, RED Engine 3 is an (r)evolution from RED E 2 and 1, but CD Project has had a lot of experience in house which helps a lot when building something new…

          • HT

            SC has been in full development for two and a half years at most. It started official development in 2013 when they began hiring people and establishing their studio when the game was funded.

        • The Real Spartacus

          So CIG needs another $220 million. Not going to happen. This isn’t going to end pretty

        • Oshi

          I’ve also seen how easily it is prone to breaking. Watching people jump without timers, take no damage, cancelling cool-down timers, multiplying their damage, this is what happens when you rush things.

      • Paul Younger

        This is really about budgets and funding, not whether they can actually make their vision.

      • Andrew Doughed

        God, you sound so defensive. I hope your hands don’t get too cramped typing the same tired lines for the next few years.

      • Robert Severson

        Nailed it. Good post Josh.

      • Amir Hamzah

        this game will never get finished. 4 years and its still nowhere near completion. lol.

    • John Petroschek

      Coming from Derek smart, it means less than nothing…

    • Walltar

      You ask, why FPS was pushed ahead of SQ-42. Well there is simple answer for that, FPS combat will be part of SQ-42 so they need to get those mechanics working in order to use them in SQ-42.

      But apart of combat… most of those mechanics are about movement. From the start of the campaign, it was apparent that we will be able walk around our ships (as shown in first SC video before start of the campaign) and that needs FPS mechanics.

      And FPS combat was there basically from the start too… it was unveiled as 3,5M reward in original campaign.

      • Paul Younger

        Again, Sqaudron 42 really doesn’t require FPS elements in my opinion. Not having FPS in StarLancer never ruined the enjoyment one bit.

        • Brokinarrow

          You have to walk around when not in your ship, so yeah, it’s kind of required….

        • Walltar

          Star Citizen is not Starlancer, nor it is Freelancer, Privateer, Wing Commander or any other old Chris’ game. Walking around in first person was part of it since its inception. They even chose FPS engine. And Chris described it as FPS with focus on vehicular combat in one of interviews back then.

          I really can’t argue about personal taste, but FPS will be part of persistent universe. So it needs, and as it was confirmed, it will be part of SQ-42. Some missions will require you to dock and go deal with those pesky Vanduul. Sometimes those buggers might board your ship. And even when you are not fighting, there will be whole “walk around, talk to people and stuff” part of the game.

          But I know that many people pledged only because Space Sim part, and I can see that they are not happy with focus on FPS… I was not one of them, I liked the premise of being able to see the ships from inside.

          • Darrell Kiely

            Cryengine is a FPS engine first and foremost. It has perfectly good walking and shooting right off the bat. But CIG don’t want anything to be normal so they can’t even get FPS working in their FPS engine.
            I am a backer and very much looking forward to the game when it comes out some day. But I’m becoming less and less optimistic as time goes on.

            • Walltar

              Over a month ago, there was leak of developer build of the game. And FPS found there was working. And it was, at least for me, good enough for alpha release.

              Mostly they can’t get new multiplayer backend to work, that is not really part of the FPS, all modules are going to use it. And if you played AC multiplayer, you must agree that their current one is disastrous.

              Fps only stuff that is being done, seems to be polish at this point. Which is wrong in my opinion at alpha stage, but many people in community felt that AC was not good enough, so CIG is trying to release something more finished. Again, bad decision, in my opinion.

          • korval

            Stop drinking the damned Kool Aid Walltar. FPS wasn’t part of Star Citizen’s inception either! It was tacked on at the 20 million stretch goal. That isn’t even close to the inception stage.

        • andrew nuttall

          Star lancet was along time ago and basic do you not belive games should do more now the tek is out there, I’m not an FPS person but I welcome a chance to have a go at something new, also the zero g in the fps needs to be right as everything that move off the ground use zero g in this game so it’s very important to get it right first time.

          • Paul Younger

            Games should do more but that is part of the problem with this. If it needs FPS then excellent they have the perfect engine. Problem is they need to push that engine harder so it’s having to work like a jack of all trades.

        • Dre’ Reavis

          So what? It’s not in Freespace 2 either. The idea is to grow the genre. Not rest on standard tropes that are covered by the likes of Elite Dangerous or No Man Sky.

      • beskar

        Correct. All of the stuff people think is “major feature creep” was actually introduced sub 10 million; some of it sub 5 million.

      • korval

        None of Chris’ previous games had an FPS component even though FPS was out. Ultima Underworld came out in 1992 and Wing Commander 2 came out in 1991. Both games were produced by Origin Systems so you know Chris knew about FPS as on option. He couldn’t said “we need to get this new FPS into Wing Commander 2” but he didn’t. He focused on a pure space sim… something he’s not doing on Star Citizen.

        • Markus Neibecker

          But the project was announced with fps and the 3.5 Million goal was boarding, so what is your argument now? You want something else, but that is not the problem of CIG. It is completely your own problem!

          • korval

            I’ve taken action to reclaim my backer funds. If the game ever comes out, which I highly doubt, I *may* look into it, but as of today I’m done with Star Citizen.

    • planckera

      Guys we need to contact the FTC (they just nabbed another crowd funded gaming scam) and consider options like class action and injunctions so that CIG can’t sell any more concept art of ships like the Genisis Starliner that was already paid for back a year ago (at the 62 million mark) at outrageous prices of $400 USD per virtual instance, when neither the game, the persistent universe, nor the actual virtual ships have even been made! The longer we allow this to go on the more suckers will be victimized. That is the nature of Ponzi pyramid schemes and scams/cons. The double dipping and triple dipping is getting out of line. By RSI/CIG own admission at $65 mil the entire game was paid for in full. They still wanted 1 million USD to make the Genisis Starliner and they got it in full. Now they are a year later coming out wanting $400 USD per pop for the Genisis Starliner when they still haven’t even completely the ship yet and the game itself has massive issues with the FPS module put indefinitely on hold. And what point is it okay to continue to ask more funds for nonexistential virtual ships just to use that to be able to ask for even more funds of nonexistential concept art ships (are they selling futures and derivatives now? Should we get the SEC involved?) all for a game that has yet to even exists and has been postponed time and again? This is computer fraud as far as I’m concerned and I’m not sure why Chris Roberts hasn’t been indicted under the CFAA and prosecuted accordingly. They lied to the original backers about exclusive LTI, no subscriptions (now they admit that subscription fees are going towards funding the dev of the actual game), “limited ships” (opps, “we made a mistake”), and so many other things…

      And to be able to unethically equivocate by taking both positions of “sale”/”sales” of ships and “donation or pledge” at the same time, they are essentially again double dipping into the “sales” concept in order to promise things they haven’t delivered (and likely won’t ever deliver) and using that directly to induce monetary income (with) what they will later call a pledge and donation so they can get out of having to deliver anything by using such trickery and loopholes. By taking this position, they could be attempting to get away with fraudulent conveyance. Can they get away with calling everything a “sale” when it benefits them and when they want to advertise features to induce more money, but then when push comes to shove and they can’t deliver what they sold they want to call it a ‘donation’ so they can get away with not living up to what they promised? If ship sales are donations then why do they get taxed and why subjected to VAT? If they are not pledges and/or donations but indeed sales, then customers should have recourse if the virtual ships and the underlying game in which the ships derive their entire value from aren’t produced in a satisfactory and reasonably timely fashioned as advertised at the time of sale. In addition, RSI sold many of the higher priced exclusive ships under false pretenses and misrepresentations of there being a permanently “limited amount” in terms of fixed and finite units, and presented and offered such virtual ships to prospective buyers with the artificially enforced scarcity thereby giving the virtual ships most of their perceived value. After the fact, after the sales, RSI/CIG should be bound by the terms of their own agreement. By later offering another round of sales they directly devalue the value proposition of original owners (since now there are more of the same ships in the system) while at the same time directly profiting from that act (had they abided by their own agreement they would not have been able to sell and profit from the second or third rounds of cash infusions for what they said they wouldn’t do) that to mention this all happened post-sales but before they could actually deliver any said virtual ships to anyone. The real world physical analogy of this would be if you purchased a pack of ten USB sticks from Amazon and after submitting payment, the packager decides to take five of the usb sticks prior to shipping it out and to keep that for himself. That is bona fide theft and that is what RSI/CIG is guilty of having committed. The entire value of these exorbitantly priced virtual ships are derived from the artificial scarcity that RSI/CIG themselves set at the time of offering and presentation of sales; they cannot then after the fact, post-sales decide to offer more without devaluing and effectively stealing from the previous owners especially since they have yet to even deliver any of the expensive virtual ships that they sold and yet to deliver a working playable game that the expensive virtual ships’ values are directly derived from.


      • Brokinarrow

        Long winded Troll is long winded…

      • Zuri595

        I think you’re trying to hard. Go for YouTube comments, you’ll piss off tons of people.

        And just in case you’re being serious then you’ll want to check out the early access titles on Steam. Almost all of them are actual scams

      • andrew nuttall

        If your worried don’t buy any thing

      • Dre’ Reavis

        Don’t spend money. Or, even better…play other games while you wait for the retail product.

      • merciful

        Hey jcrg99, thanks, that alt wasn´t on our list yet. I see it has just been created.

    • Brokinarrow

      Sorry, this authors opinion ceases to matter the second he takes anything Derek Smart says seriously. Dude is a professional Troll.

      • korval

        Let me tell you something about Derek Smart. I did music for him A LONG TIME ago which he never paid. Since then we came to agreeable terms on it. Probably more than anyone else I have reason the hate DS but when he’s rights, he’s right. Everything Derek is saying is true. He should know. He’s spent most of his career producing one of the longest, buggiest, piece of shit games of all time. So if Derek Smart says “This game, as has been pitched, will never get made. Ever.” You better sit up and take note. He has the experience to back up those words.

        • Markus Neibecker

          No, he hasn’t. He neither had the tech nor the people at hand to realise his projects. He is a bad developer and a bad coder, he is lacking skill at everything you need to make a good game. On the one side you have lierally 300 professionals with centuries of experience with developing successful games, on the other hand you have a jelious incompetent and bad developer. Figure it out yourself.

        • Brokinarrow

          Bwwaaahahahaha, thanks for the laugh!

    • Asgard

      I dont get it. Who cares about a game which doesnt even exist? These guys are just raising free money. Period.

    • https://twitter.com/Qayos Qayos

      From the guy that brought us Line of Defense, yeah there’s some quality understanding. If anyone knows about unfulfilled promises and poorly made games, well I guess Derek does. As for my money, well I suppose I could buy all the DLC for LoD, but I think I’d rather buy a Hornet instead. At least I can play with that in the Arena Commander 🙂

      • andrew nuttall

        Nice answer

    • Dre’ Reavis

      So…Derek Smart has an opinion on a Chris Roberts project. OK. Thanks for posting his opinion. Guess we’ll see if his predictions are correct.

      • Paul Younger

        We will see eventually and I think everyone, including Smart himself, hopes that CIG can pull it off. It is not going to be easy at all as we are currently seeing which is why there is some concern.

        • Dre’ Reavis

          Wait. He hopes they can pull it off, yet in the same sentence says it can’t be done? PU…will be done. Squadron 42…will be done. FPS portion is important to both of those…so the FPS will be done. So, what’s the concern? All of a sudden he’s become a savant of PC game development?

    • Chris Hunter

      Stfu and be cynical in your own corner.

      • korval

        Do you like your Kool-Aid in cherry or grape flavor?

    • GenAce2010

      I’ll listen to Derek Smart once he actually completes a game; with a decent UI, a uniform and intuitive control scheme. Pot calling the kettle black. Man wishes he was C.R with all the genre defining titles under his belt (Wing Commander, Star Lancer, Freelancer, etc).

    • David Compart

      I love how all the people who don’t play the game come rushing to defend CIG. Almost all the Star Citizen modders are astonished on the lack progress on multiple fronts. For example, one modders was able to push out assets in a week than what CIG hasn’t done in months.

      • beskar

        And modders never have high opinions of themselves at all, right? Yet, funnily enough, never seem to want to answer why they aren’t the ones actually working in the industry, given how awesome they are in their own minds.

        • David Compart

          Actually they usually get picked up by the Dev teams themselves. It seriously would take CIG 30 minutes to fix AC so people actually have something fun to do instead of having nothing to do but complain. There are multiple modders that have actually done weapon balancing, they’re now asking that CIG just impliments their codes……….

    • SilverX2

      My biggest gripe with all the hate lately is the game isn’t slated for release till NEXT YEAR. there is still a year before people should be panicking.

      • Paul Younger

        Realistically though, I would be surprised if it makes even a 2016 release.

    • Game of Trolls

      Nobody whats to talk about the white elephant in the room…

    • korval

      “20 million stretch goal. First person combat on select lawless planets. Don’t just battle on space stations and platforms… take the fight to the ground!”

      A million dollars was committed to the FPS module. Either CIG didn’t cover “issue costs” or Illfonic lied to them telling them how much it would cost.

      Chris [to Illfonic]: Okay, I really want to add a FPS module to my game. For now we just want to concentrate on select lawless planets, space stations and platforms. Can you do this for a million?
      Illfonic: *whispering under their breath* is this guy nuts?
      Chris: What was that?
      Illfonic: A million. Oh sure. Yeah, we can do that.
      Chris: Great! Let me see your resume of published work.
      Illfonic: We don’t actually have a resume of published work.
      Chris: So… how can I know if it will cost a million.
      Illfonic: Oh we’re good for it. Plus we’re making a sweet demo for the nextgen AMD Radeon card.
      Chris: That works for me

      They sign the paperwork…

      • Markus Neibecker

        You sir made up some hilarious shit. Which part are you playing in your dreams?

    • Gdom

      Lol people quoting Derek Smart *facepalm*

    • verax4

      Looks like Derek Smart inspired someone to finally file a FTC complaint against Star Citizen


      • Markus Neibecker

        It’s a letter! Not an official FTC complaint. And with his co-founder, a lawyer, CR should have this covered.
        Sorry to disturb your wet dreams.

    • Bass

      Derek Smart is mentally ill and a failed DEV. The fact that he is so wrong so often is probably a decent indicator of SC’s future success.

      As far as “feature creep” CIG has always said that the stretch goals were things that they planned on adding anyway. The extra funding just means larger dev teams/we get it sooner.

      The people going into histrionics over a AAA game that has only been in dev for 3 years (and ramping up for much of that) not being complete should probably not pledge and save themselves the stress.

    • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/252707338414312/ Derik Wilson

      Who would listen to Derek Smart? He has been an utter failure since he started the whole Battlecruizer abortion. Derek has no idea how to develop games, so how would he have any idea how this game should be developed or when it should be released? I have an idea, let’s do what Derek would do and release it now! Yeah that would go over well with the players. Derek Smart, shut the hell up!

    • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/252707338414312/ Derik Wilson

      My previous comment seems to have been deleted, so I will post it again: Who would listen to Derek Smart? He has been an utter failure since he started the whole Battlecruizer abortion. Derek has no idea how to develop games, so how would he have any idea how this game should be developed or when it should be released? I have an idea, let’s do what Derek would do and release it now! Yeah that would go over well with the players. Derek Smart, shut the hell up!