It Burns Brightly: Star Citizen ‘Sizzle’ Trailer

By Craig Pearson on September 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am.

Top left. I'd recognise those pixels anywhere.
I have a theory about Star Citizen. I just watched the new trailer, a so-called ‘Sizzle Reel’, and was obviously impressed. Nothing about this game has been a graphical let-down. Not. One. Thing. Here’s my theory: it needs so many graphics that Chris Roberts has had to go back and borrow polygons from his old games. Seems like utter drivel nonsense idiocy, yeah? Well I tried out Wing Commander: Privateer last night and it looked all blurry and low-res, and not at all as I remember it. What other explanation can there be?

Okay, maybe there’s a second theory. That the game’s crowd-funding has been so successful and that earning millions of dollars per month has allowed in the creation of a game that looks genuinely glorious. And that the Cryengine, an engine built to make everything look phenomenally pretty, is pushing all this to the limit.

*snort*

Whatever. Sheeple.

This is the first game that’s made me worry about my PC being able to play it. The investment I made a few years ago in a powerful machine should see me clear to playing it at medium, but to get the most out of it I’m going to need a bigger monitor. And a bigger graphics card. And a bigger hard-drive.

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    96 Comments »

    1. Shadowcat says:

      I fear that the main problem with your otherwise excellent theory is that the number of polygons rendered by “Wing Commander: Privateer” and the preceding Wing Commander games combined was zero.

      • Premium User Badge Craig Pearson says:

        Damn! Another one of my perfectly idiotic theories destroyed by facts.

        • stahlwerk says:

          Not really: there are no polygons in WC1, 2 and Privateer 1 because Roberts took all of the polygons for this one.

          • Shadowcat says:

            Admittedly, that wasn’t his first choice; but he was forced to take alternative action. This shocking transcript reveals all:

            Roberts: Let me see your graphics.
            Holland: You don’t need to see my graphics.
            Roberts: I don’t need to see your graphics.
            Holland: These aren’t the polygons you’re looking for.
            Roberts: These aren’t the polygons I’m looking for.
            Holland: You can go about your business.
            Roberts: I can go about my business.
            Holland: Try talking to Roberts over at Origin.
            Roberts: Thanks, I’ll do that.

        • Urthman says:

          It’s a plausible theory. Half-Life 2 clearly swiped a lot of the graphics I remember from Half-Life 1. It was nice of the Black Mesa people collect a bunch of spare graphics they had and put them back.

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        Hate to nitpick but 2D Squares are polygons.

    2. zappeo says:

      I just want to get sedated and to fall asleep until SC and the Oculus Rift will be a thing you can buy and play with. Please inform my boss I won’t make it to the office for about … what, 1 year?
      thanks.

      • Premium User Badge Voice of Majority says:

        This. Oculus Rift.

        • BTAxis says:

          I have to say that my enthusiasm for the Rift cooled a bit when I read it won’t be able to display normal 3D applications, only those that explicitly support the Rift. It seems like it’ll have only limited application, at least with the games I play.

          • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

            I think that Rift is aiming to set the barrier to entry as low as possible to get as many developers as possible to get on board. So hopefully it’ll be more useful in the future. And if the major engines support it (they’d be crazy not to), then a lot of games might naturally come with it.

            • BTAxis says:

              Possibly, but I was hoping for something driver-side that you can retroactively apply to existing 3D engines, much in the way that nVidia’s 3D Vision does. There are some older titles I’d like to see in 3D.

            • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

              Yes, I don’t know how easy that would be – I mean, *maybe* you could make a hack on a driver level, but I don’t know how you’d achieve that as I think a lot of that kind of thing is done in software at some low level.

            • Cleave says:

              I’d have thought the main problem with this would be the controls and HUD elements rather than the 3D graphics. drivers like 3d Vision and Tridef3D do a perfectly good job of converting games to 3D so I wouldn’t imagine the occulus FOV warping would be much of an advancement over that.

            • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

              OK, fair enough. There are applications that can remap controls – Powerglove is one, I think (it’s just a case of taking whatever the OS receives and turning it into another signal for game event handlers to pick up).

            • Koshinator says:

              Just so you know.. Tridef3D already has a beta oculus supported driver out, with support for 12 games so far… So it is possible to retrofit older games – it just takes time and effort (usually because of adding head tracking support)

          • Awesomeclaw says:

            There are third party drivers available which allow support for most games, but they’re basically hacked on so support isn’t always great.

            • particlese says:

              The open-source VIREio Perception, for instance, which can be community-hacked into doing a passable job. It was okay-ish in Skyrim back when you had to build it yourself, but it’s probably been improved for “supported” games since then…

          • zappeo says:

            I thought about it too, then I remembered that with Star Citizen and Dayz on the Rift (and everything that will come later, maybe from *cough* valve) I won’t have time to play anything else. I hope it will take a while for them to come out, I still haven’t saved enough money for being able to stop working for good.

          • subshell001 says:

            TriDef has Rift support so you can use it with many games.

    3. Smion says:

      “Hey videogames,
      slow down a bit, some of us need money to buy food for ourselves, ‘kay? Lay back a bit and relax! Watch some TV, go out and have fun once in a while, do whatever you like, just wait until I’ve sold my second kidney and maybe then we can talk about buying more of you and upgrading my system.
      Sincerely,
      Smion”

    4. FrostySprite says:

      Not to mention that they reached $20 million in crowdfunding yesterday, on the anniversary of Wing Commander’s release. I wonder how high it will go. $26 million, maybe?

      I just hope they don’t add too many features, though they’ve been saying that it’s not a problem. I can’t but feel worried, though.

      • Premium User Badge Matchstick says:

        Well there are 3 more ship brochure releases to come (Hornet, Freelancer and Constellation) with limited edition variants, plus the 1st anniversary of the crowdsourcing starting on 10th October which is supposed to bring some special surprises and the end of the LTI period at the end of November so I suspect there’s a lot more money still to be collected from Star Citizen backers :)

        But the best news of all is you can now use the toilet on the Constellation in the hangar module ! :)

      • kael13 says:

        They are supposed to be feature-locking at 22 or 23 million. After that, subsequent monies will be used post-release or for polish, I suppose.

    5. Jekhar says:

      Hm, is it just me, or was this just a montage of previously released footage? I failed to spot anything new in there.

    6. InternetBatman says:

      This is the “first” game to make you question your PC hardware? How long have you been playing on one?

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        If 4MB of memory was good enough for me in 1995, it’s good enough for me now.

        • stahlwerk says:

          I have this old magazine from 1990 where they try to predict what CDs as a medium will enable games to do. Here’s their abridged line of reasoning:

          1. Kings Quest IV fits on two disks (~ 3 MB) and is a rather nice game with a [fake] day and night cycle.
          2. CDs will have about 600 MB (unbelievable!)
          Ergo: Kings Quest on CD will be a full simulation of a fairy tale kingdom with realistic graphics [I think the word was cinematic] and practically unlimited story.

          • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

            It’s sort of true that graphics have eaten up a lot of what improvements in complexity and depth you could have with more disk space and processing power (although granted, that relies on dev teams being able to produce it without horrible bugs and balance issues, and publishers being able to sell it). Scourge of War looks like Medieval: Total War (the first one), but it has tens of thousands of sprites on the battlefield at once. And I assume that 2D indie games have a lot of possibility to do some amazing things with complex simulations – stuff like Sim Earth did some amazing things with very limited graphics. I imagine that a whole town of 10,000 people with simple enough AI could be feasible in a real-time game.

            Or perhaps that article was mainly an exercise in finding out whether games journalists can do mathematical projections based on orders of magnitude and technical specifications. Although granted, people normally find out what’s possible by trying to do it and failing several times.

            • stahlwerk says:

              The latter, I guess. It was even titled “The Future”.

              I just thought it was funny how we all used to (and still do I guess) think that disk space and “amount of game” would increase proportionally, when in reality only content fidelity was increased (also Talkie versions and… FMV).

            • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

              Well, look at the Rome II debacle. Point being that publishers push graphics above AI because you can’t market subtle tactical decisionmaking as easily as shiny things you can take pictures of.

      • Premium User Badge cpt_freakout says:

        Everyone in the know is aware that this bad mother of a 486 can run any and all “games of video”.

        • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

          I love that technically CPUs still have the x86 naming system, although we stopped standing around in the playground going “yeah, well my computer at home has a BILLION 86 processor” (I think we did actually have this kind of conversation, because I was super cool and everyone was into me romantically and unicorns are real and my parents are still alive).

      • Premium User Badge Craig Pearson says:

        Well, I meant my current PC.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Sorry, it was five(?) in the morning and I was mad at my schoolwork.

    7. SuicideKing says:

      This is like what i always imagined/wanted FreeSpace 3 too look like + Mass Effect + probably Wing Commander 2014 (i haven’t played WC).

      Only difference is that if this was FreeSpace 3 i’d be throwing my bank account at my screen by now.

      Why Volition, why… :’(

      • Optimaximal says:

        It still makes ZERO sense that THQ apparently got the property from Interplay when it purchased Volition, quietly sat on it (despite fan protests and FS2′s ongoing success) and then proceeded NOT to publicly sell it when their stuff was sold off.

        Did anyone actually get it in that final auction?

        You have to feel for THQ, but whenever you look into it, they died for a reason…

        • Asurmen says:

          Interplay have the Freespace license atm I think.

        • Werthead says:

          Yeah, Interplay still have it. THQ never bought it, despite people suggesting they did.

          However, I think Volition is in a Relic/HOMEWORLD situation where almost everyone who worked on those games has long since left, but unlike with the Blackbird situation they’re scattered all over different companies.

          Scary fact: FREESPACE 2 came out almost exactly fourteen years ago. I remember getting it on day of release and watching it hammer the frame rate on my Pentium II 233mhz every time anyone fired a beam weapon or went into a nebula. Fantastic game.

          * checks Wikipedia * It was 30 September 1999. Surely an excuse for RPS to a retrospective birthday feature thing for three days time?

          • SuicideKing says:

            Well, no…a lot, if not most people are still there at Volition, including FS2′s producer.

            I remember it too! Dad bought it, though. I was only 6…Same, Pentium II.

            Try the Source Code Project, add enough ships and it can still kill FPS (on Core 2-era processors).

            • Werthead says:

              Really? That’s impressive if a lot of people have stuck with them for so long.

              This would require Deep Silver acquring the licence from Interplay, then? I can imagine that being a whole load of fun.

            • Kentauroi says:

              Freespace 2 is still a game that I always have installed. It’s modding community is still going strong even today.

              If you want to see what it looks like nowadays then you might want to check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOWh142gBjA or just head on over to hard-light.net

              If you don’t mind some hefty visual spoilers for the Blue Planet mod, my personal favorite campaign, then here’s a video that includes some very pretty eye candy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20cv2xCjQCQ

        • SuicideKing says:

          It’s gone back to Interplay, check out my reply to Asurmen above.

          (and agreed, makes no sense everyone’s sat on it for 14 years, it’s like HL3 of the space-sim genre.)

          • Werthead says:

            In critical terms, yes. In sales terms? No. HALF-LIFE 2′s sold 12+ million copies, so it’s a bit odd Valve haven’t followed it up a decade later. On the other hand, FREESPACE 2 sold about 15 copies (on release, it’s sold and shifted a lot more since then, obviously) and apparently lost Interplay money, so it’s more understandable they didn’t vigorously pursue a third game at the time.

            I never really understood why FREESPACE 2 did so badly, when it was so comprehensively superior to FREESPACE 1 and its mission disk, which did sell really well. I think marketing was part of it: I knew FS2 was coming thanks to PC Gamer/Zone previews, but the first time I was aware of the release date when I saw it on the ‘today’s releases’ shelf in Game.

    8. SuicideKing says:

      WAIT. Why does the video’s title say “AMD Reveal”? Was this revealed at AMD’s GPU thingy? Will this use Mantle?

      • Premium User Badge Matchstick says:

        The video was part of a presentation Chris Roberts made at the AMD show, but whether it’ll use Mantle or not depends on whether the underlying Crytek engine is ported over to it.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah, i guess, but i’m not sure how Mantle’s going to be integrated. As in, with BF4, i don’t know whether Mantle’s a part of Frostbite 3 itself (most logical) or what…because EA said it’ll be usable only after a post-launch update.

          Another thing is, Mantle seems more useful to devs who’re developing cross-platform, and from what i know SC is PC exclusive.

          So i’m not sure how much they stand to gain from enabling the feature for less than 33% (according to steam’s numbers) of their user base….still a big number, but is it worth the likely engine modifications? Sort of a PhysX like situation for PC exclusives.

      • Apocalypse says:

        iirc trueAudio and TressFX will be supported. Mantle seems to be out of question if crytek does not implement it into their engine. Even if they do, one of the developers (not Chris) stated that they will not increase the draw calls and the way their models work to a ludicrous level because this would not be compatible to nvidia and they would need to do everything twice.

        This leaves Mantle support still quite possible, but should mainly be important for better performance for amd cards and not leave nividia out. Depends on crytek engine support.

    9. Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

      My worry is that if this game contains all of the graphics, that leaves Roberts somewhat short for the graphics of future games. Perhaps his next game could be of a blind pilot, navigating by intuition and the subtle sound waves in the tenuous interplanetary medium.

      • stahlwerk says:

        SpaceMole!

      • BooleanBob says:

        You nutty graphi-co warriors and your doom mongering. New deposits of pixels are being discovered all the time! We aren’t anywhere near Peak Poly yet.

        • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

          True, but it’s still the case that unless deposits of pixels are laid down from games made millions of CPU cycles ago, we have a finite source of raster deposits, unless we can efficiently tap the vast stream of graphics available from the Sun microsystems.

          • Photon Embargo says:

            Whatever happens, the pixel speculators will ruin everything.

          • BooleanBob says:

            Sun micro? Please. Typical lunacy, real raspberry pi in the sky stuff . The size of the towers they need for that kind of thing? Not in my back yard!

    10. aldo_14 says:

      I still can’t help but be bothered by the concept of having the bridge – the never centre of the big spaceship in space – as an exposed area with huge windows.

      Unless it’s just a fancy bar. Yeah, that works.

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        Humans in space is an awful idea in general. Space is really not designed for people to be in.

        But yeah, I imagine that in reality a powerful AI is making all the combat decisions and the bridge is just a place where the humans can hang out and go “pew pew pew!” on fake controls, like how you can get plastic steering wheels for kids to play with in the back of the car.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Isn’t that basically how the Polity works?

          • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

            Never read those books, but sure, or the Culture, take your pick. And granted, space isn’t that friendly to computers either (hello, cosmic rays), but they’re a darn sight more robust than fleshy things that don’t like vacuums, acceleration or temperature variations.

            • SanguineAngel says:

              Curse our useless fleshy nutrient bags!

              But in all seriousness, I am perfectly willing to have awesome looking bridges with massive vacuum taunting windows for no other reason than they look cool.

              Besides, I buy it anyway – humans are not always the most rational decision makers and I can very easily see us making ships like just because they look good.

            • gunny1993 says:

              Thank god for imagination, if ships were 100% practical they’d look like the Vogon ships from hitchhikers guide.

            • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

              I refuse to go into space until there is a decent alehouse up there. And not one of those corporate monstrosities, I mean a proper one hundreds of years old that sells ales that nobody living knows how to make.

            • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

              I do not recognise the nation of Imagi as a sovereign state, and will veto any motion to the contrary at the UN.

            • hjd_uk says:

              Culture Ships are basically Sentient AI FTL superweapons that have a bunch of Human ‘pets’ running around inside for company / entertainment … Like a living Leisure Cruiser with world-destroying weapons bolted onto it.

      • BTAxis says:

        You could always fudge it by assuming that the ship’s defenses are 100% being taken care of by energy shields, and any attack that gets past those is instant death anyway.

      • hjd_uk says:

        Or the ‘windows’ are in fact high-resolution 3D displays showing sensor information behind hugely reinforced hulls and shielding?

    11. Chris says:

      Please remember that at least 50% of hyped games are rather disappointing.

      • Premium User Badge Cinek says:

        True. And hype for SC is just beyond reason. So are expectations of some people (i.e. constant race for stretch goals and totally unknown time-frame when they’ll be realized).

      • bstard says:

        I have the feeling this SC will eventually become a great game, but it might have a problem or two at release. Such a big project will have a lot of bugs and game mechanic issues. But then again, with a budget this big it’ll get loats of babysitting.

      • Premium User Badge Gap Gen says:

        57.2% since 2012, owing to a rise in Kickstarter Entitlement Syndrome. But yeah, rounded down, 50% is near enough.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Obligatory snarky comment. IF you look at his history, you should expect problems with timing and delivery. We already know that parts of Star Citizen’s development work is being farmed out, which could lead to various interesting types of trouble as well. The hype on this one is going full bore, and Roberts’ skills at self promotion are fully feeding that frenzy. The game has become the mirror of the heart’s desire for a legion of ignored space game fans, and even if competently done it would have trouble living up to that.

      • derbefrier says:

        I can live with those odds. Besides even if some of the features dont quite make or are not what we picture in our minds. Its still gonna be a fun game

        • gunny1993 says:

          NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          It’s still going to be a fun game
          Oh? And how do you know? I mean, I’m hoping it will, I backed the thing after all. But I certainly don’t know whether it’ll be anywhere near as good (i.e.: fun) as I’m hoping it will be.

    12. GamesInquirer says:

      There’s not much new footage but whatever, I love this revival of the genre, with not only mainstays like Egosoft’s X series ( X Rebirth got a new video about trading and mining, both are more interesting than they sound and give a good look at space vistas: http://tinyurl.com/rebirthtrademine ) but also with new titles like this, the next Elite, Enemy Starfighter, Rogue System and many more.

    13. bar10dr says:

      I cannot wait for this game.
      Already got a new puter, its a beast of a machine!

      Dogfighting module at the end of the year, see you all in the verse!

    14. Photon Embargo says:

      Loving the tone of the commentary in this thread. Has bought a big smile to my face!

      As for humans in space. Human’s flying in long tubes across the limits of the general atmosphere (weather system) is pretty crazy when you really think about it today, let alone to the humans dreaming of flying back in the ancient world or during the renaissance. What the hell would they be thinking of what we so casually do today? I think we humans will successfully expand our influence into space because it’s what we do, adapt to niches and make them work for us because we’re crazy dreamers, egotistical, aggressive and really, beyond eating, sleeping and procreating, have little else to do but make the abstract reality.

      That said, if anyone has read the Charles Stross novel Saturn’s Children, he does a convincing job of painting space as a crappy place for humans, but much more friendly to small machines…

      Anyhow, this is probably one of my first comments here. Really looking forward to what SC and the Rift may possibly make happen – please don’t disappoint too much! (crosses fingers).

    15. honuk says:

      RPS readers hate all free to play games, unless those free to play games also require a substantial crowdfunding advancement

    16. Artfunkel says:

      It’s weird that they have humans piloting combat space ships in the future. Wouldn’t computers do a better job?

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        Shush now.

      • Smion says:

        Would they look as cool doing it? The answer of course is no unless they’d be wearing aviators. But computers can’t wear aviators since they don’t have ears or noses. Therefore, the answer is still no!
        Jesus Christ…

      • Grygus says:

        Computers mostly fly airplanes now, but we still have pilots. We can make computer-driven cars right now that wouldn’t be perfect but would be better than people, but nobody trusts them so we have to sneak them in slowly and only replace drivers incrementally, not because of technological limitations, but because of psychological ones. It may well be that pilots will exist to fly spaceships for similar reasons.

    17. airmikee99 says:

      It’s a gorgeous game, and I’m definitely going to pick it up. Is it going to be a similar game to Starpoint Gemini, and the X and Evochron series?

    18. Saarlaender39 says:

      The focus on that “thingy” at 0:15 – 0:17, the way, the hand grabs for it…now, I won’t take it in my mouth, but you’re all old enough to take a look for yourself.