Chris Roberts Details Squadron 42, Takes On Doubters

By Nathan Grayson on November 8th, 2013 at 1:00 pm.

Star Citizen this, Star Citizen that. It’s in the news significantly more often than any real space program, and it’s probably better funded at this point too. Personally, I still can’t help but question Chris Roberts’ and co’s ability to pull it off, but I’m now much less doubtful that their aspirations are sincere. I recently lobbed all the skepticism I could at each of Roberts’ claims, and he backed them up with dates, times, and plans to prove he’s not just blasting hot air into the empty blackness of our bank accounts. Look for that mammoth back-and-forth very soon. First, though, Squadron 42. The single-player story-based spin-off kind of disappeared after Star Citizen’s initial announcement, but apparently it’s benefiting from Roberts’ lightspeed jump into the Implausible Wealth Nebula just as much as its big brother. According to Roberts, it’s now just as big as anything he could’ve done working with EA to make a new Wing Commander.

It would’ve been pretty easy to sweep Squadron 42 under the rug. At least, for a little while.

Star Citizen is the talk of the town (town name: space, population: all existence), and many wannabe pilots have become damn near obsessed with preparing their virtual armadas for impending intergalactic war. A meticulously interconnected online galaxy awaits. Single-player? Who goes to space for that?

If I was doing a Wing Commander at EA, Squadron 42 is gonna be that.

And honestly- for better or worse – Roberts would probably get a pass from many if he managed to deliver Star Citizen without too many compromises. That absurd vision in most of its sprawling splendor. But he also promised an entire single-player story-based Wing Commander successor set in Star Citizen’s universe, and apparently that’s coming together just as quickly behind the scenes.

“I haven’t talked about Squadron 42 because it’s a narrative story,” Roberts explained to RPS during GDC Next. “I kinda want to make that more of a discovery thing. But it’s going to be as big or as fancy as any Wing Commander would be.”

“The scope and scale and ambition of it now is gonna be up there with anything I could’ve done with Wing Commander [thanks to crowdfunding]. Like, if I was doing a Wing Commander at EA, Squadron 42 is gonna be that. At that level. We already have a bunch of stuff that I really like. We have our own motion capture studio. We have a whole face rig thing.”

My eyebrow leaped into the coldest, deepest reaches of my hairline at that notion. After all, single-player games aren’t cheap. Yes, Roberts and co have amassed more than $25 million between Kickstarter and their own site, but that may as well be brightly colored Monopoly money in the grand scheme of things – especially given that it’s holding up both a single-player story and a full-fledged MMO. Roberts, however, claimed that working sans publisher, console concerns, and marketing (subscribers, whose contributions aren’t listed on the total, take care of that) don’t whittle away at the cost so much as they run it through a wood chipper. I suppose, however, that only time will if crowdfunding alone is enough.

So then, what exactly is Squadron 42? How does it work? Roberts explained the story-driven starfighter’s structure:

“You’re in the military, right? So you go wherever they want you to. But you have an effect on how the campaign unfolds. That determines where your campaign ends up, which is very much the Wing Commander model – especially Wing Commander 1. It’s gonna be more interactive than Wing Commander 3 and 4, which were more linear because you have the film element.”

But what about wings and the commanding thereof? This isn’t a one-man show, after all. As in the Wing Commanders of yore, you’ll be able to pick both your battles and your co-pilots. Conversations, however, will apparently be far more advanced.

“We’re doing a bunch of stuff with the conversation system,” Roberts continued. “It’s one I’ve been thinking about for a while that I think is going to make that field better. It’s about managing relationships with your pilots. I don’t want it to feel like you’re on some conversation tree, just ticking off answers to make sure you didn’t miss anything. The way we’re setting it up is to be much more about managing your relationships with your co-pilots, and it’s kinda up to you.”

“The original Wing Commander was a little this way. It was like, who do you like? Who do you want to hang out with? You can have a person who’s an asshole, you can have a person who’s great, you can have a person who’s funny. Players will sort of form their relationships with different wingmen and that will affect what they do and how they play.”

“The on board the ship stuff is almost like a relationship manager, as opposed to a bunch of set cut-scenes.”

The colossal claims have been growing like avalanches, but Roberts said he plans to deliver on them sooner rather than later. Already, Star Citizen’s hangar module is letting sci-fi hotrod enthusiasts fulfill their dream of owning a space garage, and dogfighting is still in the pipeline for the end of the year. After that comes planet-level trading around March/April or so, then first-person shooter ship boarding toward the middle of 2014, and Squadron 42 closer to the end.

Such a rapid-fire schedule might sound like an impossibly tall order, but much of that is mitigated by the fact that different studios are working on each part. Roberts claimed that this approach allows for focus, speed, and a much more manageable workload. Squadron 42, meanwhile, is receiving an extra helping of special attention.

“I’m picking the studios that I think have the personnel that can do each task, and then we’re all hooked in to the same build,” said Roberts. “We all see everything. And then I’ve gone out of my way to pick the right people. The team in England is led by my brother. It’s the team that did Privateer and Starlancer and a bunch of people that worked with me on earlier things like Wing Commander. They’re taking the lead on Squadron 42. They basically did the last good Wing-Commander-style space game.”

The multi-studio, staggered release setup serves a second purpose as well: to prove to fans and backers that any of this, er, exists at all. This goes double in the event of a Double-Fine-style emergency, because – while confident – Roberts isn’t fooling himself. Game development is an imprecise science to begin with, and a project of this scale is like trying to conduct a black hole. Something can and inevitably will go wrong.

“When there’s an article about us, there’s always one person who’s like, ‘IT’S A SCAM,’” he confessed. “[Gradually releasing each part of the game and then combining them into one] is a conscious plan. I mean, I’m building a really big game. If you ask people what they want, they’ll tell you they want the best game possible. But if you take a look at Blizzard or Valve or Irrational or Rockstar, those guys all make games people love. But then, people are still asking where Half-Life 3 is. These companies are like, ‘It’s done when it’s done.’ When some of the best in the business can’t run to some preordained schedule, [it says a lot about how this stuff ends up working out].”

“My hope and goal is that, because I share the process and fans see it happening, that when we have to make choices like that, we have different information than we did at the start of the process. People are like, ‘OK, I get it. I mean, it sucks and I wish I had it now, but this is better for the final game. Plus, I’ve already got stuff and I’m seeing what you’re doing and delivering. I’m getting new content.’”

He noted, then, that the current Star Citizen/Squadron 42 release schedule is very tentative, and already some pieces are getting jostled by (so far) minor patches of turbulence. The dogfighting module, for instance, will launch at the end of 2013 no matter what, but it might not include multiplayer until early next year. Reason being, RSI has the option of either running CryEngine’s stock multiplayer code or implementing Star Citizen’s full MMO-ready backend. At the moment, Roberts is leaning toward the latter, as it’ll allow stress testing pretty much from the get-go. So long, launch day server troubles – at least, in theory.

“That’s the decision that, if you go for the proper system, it’s much better for the game long-term,” he said. “But that means people aren’t playing multiplayer dogfights by Christmas. They’ll be able to play against AI or fly their ships around, but I think that may be the choice that I make. It’s better for the final game.”

“But it’s hard. You have to manage a lot of expectations. When we pushed back the Hornet [ship] commercial, we had a lot of upset reactions. People were like, ‘How could they? They lied to us.’ But then the commercial came out, it was fine, and many of the complaints went away. So it’s about managing from the complaints to the point where they get something good. Delivering something good is the all-important thing.”

Obvious wisdom, but deceptively easy to forget when thousands of backers are banging down your doors, certain that this time you finally, truly abandoned them. And with more backer money fueling his game than any other crowdfunded project in history, Roberts is bound to be suspected of that at every turn. Maybe justifiably so, maybe not. But whether we’re talking Squadron 42 or Star Citizen, this universe is Roberts’ new home, and he doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon.

“Obviously, I’m worried about consistency and quality,” he admitted. “But I’m not the guy who goes, ‘Oh yeah, that’s good enough!’ I say, ‘Guys, this is gonna have to be scrapped or redone completely.’ I want to play it. I’ve put all this effort in. My point is, I’m committing a decent amount of my life to get this thing done, and I don’t want to come out on the other end and realize I dropped the ball or it wasn’t good enough.”

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64 Comments »

  1. dahools says:

    I hope this is good. The more updates there are the more nervous I get for some reason. I should be getting calmer. .

    • Sharon says:

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  2. Dunbine says:

    So…. It’s not a scam?

    That is good, ’cause I gave him money.

  3. derbefrier says:

    I think the dog fighting alpha will have a big impact on peoples perception of the game, for better or worse. Its gonnbe the first version we actually get to do something other than sit in our cockpits making pew pew noises. I understand peoples doubts, I don’t share them though. This game is gonna be fantastic.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Yup, pretty much. On top of that, I’d assume most of the backers are in it for the dogfights, primarily.

    • Cinek says:

      I think t he perception will go way into “worse” direction. They won’t be able to see the details from the cinematic vids released (combat will be 1st person and it won’t be downsampled 4k anymore) and likely it will have bugs and tons of missing content.

      It will be a usual issue with alpha versions – 80% of people not understanding what does the “alpha” mean or having way too high expectations.

      • Apocalypse says:

        What you mean with downsampled?
        https://cdn-rsi.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/commercials/Star_Citizen_Hornet_Commercial_Launch.mp4

        BTW uploading 4k to yotube is imo a crime. Youtube is not a good place to watch HIGH quality video.

        • Cinek says:

          And how many ppl seen that? 1%? 2% of people who seen downsampled version of the trailer?

          • Apocalypse says:

            I could ask the same question with the opposite directions. Who many people have not bothered with the 4k download and instead watched the 1080p trailer on youtube, full of compression artefacts?
            Let me guess, about 90%? They will have a nice surprise when the game looks so much better on their system. Or not, depending what their system is … ;-)

      • derbefrier says:

        Sadly you are probably right but this is just something crowd funded games are gouing to have to learn to deal with hopefully the hangar module has prepared some of these people for just hoew buggy it can be so they can reel in their expectations to more realistic levels. Regardless its gonna be a fun ride for those of us who aren’t expecting the world in an alpha release.

  4. Matchstick says:

    I suspect early iterations of the Dog Fighting module will be disappointing to some people, but after a few patches I’ll be interested to see what the Aegis Avenger can really do :)

    • FrostySprite says:

      No doubt about it. You’ll get people who don’t understand that alpha means alpha, and the game is not finished and things aren’t finalized. But even worse than that are those who will undoubtedly complain that their $225 ship was destroyed by a player with a $60 ship. That’s my biggest worry. I hope he doesn’t cave in to that and makes sure each ship is different and has specific roles like modern aircraft or modern ships do. I don’t want to see a merchant ship go toe-to-toe with dedicated fighters just because it cost backers over $100 more.

      • Shadow says:

        I still fear many people are still getting confused about ships and their real money costs, despite Cloud Imperium’s best attempts to explain how things work.

        The intent of those (and most) pledges has always been “invest in the game, get a nice thing as a bonus”. The insurance policies and all that are just gravy: the ships won’t be unique nor more powerful than the versions simply bought in the game with in-game money after some reasonable amount of effort. There will be many people raging when they finally realize their 225-dollar merchantman or even 2000-dollar destroyer doesn’t really make them the special snowflake they thought they’d be.

        I share your hope Roberts doesn’t cave in the face of those ignorant tantrums, but he seems pretty cool-headed over all so I don’t think there’s much to worry about.

  5. DarkLiberator says:

    Interesting read. I’ve been following the game for awhile, and I pledged for a ship or two, and looking forward to the dogfighting module! Its a shame it might not be multiplayer at first, but its completely understandable since this is all early alpha stages. 2015 seems so far away.

  6. Low Life says:

    Chris Roberts seems incredibly grounded for someone with such ambitious ideas. I want to believe.

    • Damien Stark says:

      Right there with you.

      Every one of these articles and interviews, I start off ultra-skeptical. Not because he’s saying things I don’t like – on the contrary, he’s telling me everything I’d like to hear. All the plans and features sound so amazing I feel like I’m being scammed.

      But then the man himself speaks, and I’m reminded this isn’t some fly-by-night newbie, this is a man who actually shipped game after game. He actually understands modularity, milestones, budgeting, scope creep. He has a plan, he knows not everything will go according to plan, and he’s okay with that.

      I remain cautiously optimistic, but fairly impressed.

  7. Lambchops says:

    To be honest I was always more interested in a narrative thing anyway. Much as these massive, multiplayer space worlds could be fun, I probably don’t have time to commit to them and would far rather have the next Freespace, Starlancer or Wing Commander.

    So it’s nice that it’s being made, I never pledged to this on the basis I wanted to see if the end product was my sort of thing, and if Squadron 42 is what Roberts hopes it is then I’m sure it will be. The “It’s the team that did Privateer and Starlancer” certainly makes me feel a lot more confident as those games were great fun.

    • udat says:

      I’m exactly the same. I basically think of it that I backed Squadron 42, rather than Star Citizen. I don’t even read the incredible amount of email and articles they send out, but I do look in on articles like this.

      I’m glad to hear that the Privateer and Starlancer guys are involved. I liked all of those games.

      Even though I still have the CDs, I bought Wing Commander 3 from GOG recently and (literally) dusted off my joystick and played it. It’s a good game still, although there are some brutal difficulty spikes. I finally gave up at the mission where you defend the Behemoth. You have a medium fighter, 1 wingman, and you have to defend against about two dozen heavy fighters. Their rear turrets just chip chip chip away at you until you die. I have no idea how I managed to complete that mission the first time around.

      I also dicked around with my X-Wing Collectors Edition CD so it runs under Win7. Another incredibly good game, and also brutally hard in places. I’m somewhat stuck on a mission in Tour 2 where I have to defend a disabled X-Wing. My A-Wing against dozens of missile spamming assault gunboats!

      Good times.

    • cookieheadjenkins says:

      Same here. I mean I’m interested to see what the multiplayer universe has to offer but primarily I’m in it for the singleplayer. WC3 was the game that forced me to upgrade my first PC – 4MB RAM for £120. I still have the PC and the boxed copy of WC3 and I’m looking forward to seeing if the spiritual successor is as good as I remember the original being.

    • Cinek says:

      Totally agreed. I have no interest in beaing a flea between elephants in PU where guilds own anyone and everything (what’s most frustrating: facilities, mines, and cap ships being reseved to them). SQ42 though might be a brilliant thing if they won’t push it into the background (and sadly it looks like that’s exactly what they’re doing)

    • Maxheadroom says:

      I believe you’re free to run your own server thus turning the PU into a giant private sandbox for you (and your mates).

      No more elephants hogging all the capital ships

      Thats my understanding anyway

  8. Lemming says:

    Can we get a Mark Hamill cameo?

    • Apocalypse says:

      Yes please, I would love to have a Joker like Character as enemy in SQ42 and Mark Hamill would be the perfect man to voice this homicidal maniac … at the other side, he would be cool as Wingman too, I loved to have Todd Marschall as Wingman … while we are at it, can we have a place for Tom Wilson too? ;-)

      • johnkillzyou says:

        Hang on, Joker? The reason anybody would want him to cameo is because he was the protagonist of 3 and 4. Cant remember the name of his character though, Blake or something?

        • Apocalypse says:

          Bluehair. Christopher Blair. Depending on the part of the series. (WC1 and WC2 it was a nameless character that was called internally Blue Hair, and out of that he became Christopher Blair for the later games)

          And I still would prefer Mark Hamill with a Joker like performance. It simply is so much better than what he has done in Wing Commander.

    • Geebs says:

      He’s already in it as one of the planets :(

  9. wodin says:

    I couldn’t imagine greater pressure in the gaming industry as this fella must be going through. Really do hope he pulls off the classic ground breaker thats promised..don’t dare think of the fallout if it doesn’t.

  10. harbinger says:

    I think “IT’S A SCAM” has a lot less to do with the idea of the game itself and a lot more with how they handled their crowd funding campaign and the prospective “payment model” the game is supposed to have.

    There are an awful lot of people spending up to $1250: http://i.imgur.com/Ux83PUT.png on a virtual ship in a game that doesn’t exist yet and they won’t know if it’ll be good or the intricate details of its Pay2Win-ness (how long will it take to grind for such a ship for instance, how easy is it to get or operate it?)

    These kind of payment models are dodgy and considered “grey” morally in your usual Pay2Win games, yet here is a game that built its entire Crowdfunding campaign and reputation on just that and takes it to an absolute extreme otherwise mostly used in Chinese Pay2Win browser games.

    Chris Roberts has also been praising Wargamings World of Tanks model before even the recent changes where they called their new model “Free2Win”, in a GamesIndustry article from a few months ago for instance he said:
    “Wargaming’s business model also appeals to Roberts. “In World of Tanks if you put the time in you can buy pretty much everything,” Roberts pointed out. “If you want to shortcut, because you don’t have 40 hours a week to spend gaming but you’ve got five or six hours on a weekend, then you can buy some credits with some money. My understanding is they’re the highest-monetizing of all the free-to-play games on a per-person basis. I’m hoping that combination of things will work well for us. Probably because that style of game is like Privateer or Freelancer, which inherently is all centered around the economy – buying, selling, trading. It’s a very natural game to work with that kind of mechanic.”

    For instance in their first ever released piece of the game with the “Hangar Module” which could be considered Pre-Pre-Alpha or something. It’s very purpose mainly to whet people’s appetite for the game and show off the already overly expensive “backer ships” to everyone, they immediately decided to include a monetization model with a store selling decorations going for $5-10, weapons for $4-16 and even a buggy allowing to drive around the hangar for $20.

    There was a big thread going on at the time with an awful lot of people complaining about said features: https://forums.robertsspaceindustries.com/discussion/45371/voyager-direct-store-pricing-main-discussion-thread

    After which they issued a short sort-of apology declaring to people how that isn’t what they meant with it at all and how it is the exact opposite of how everyone was perceiving it while talking down to them:
    ”Unfortunately there seems to be some misunderstanding in our intentions with the prototype in-game store, as the forums erupted with a significant amount of “discussion” last night!
    […]
    The intention of creating Voyager Direct right now was the very opposite of what a lot of people are upset about. It is not supposed to be a cash shop! It’s meant to be the very opposite!
    […]
    I was disappointed to see so many people feeling that we were trying to gouge people or do a money grab.
    […]
    In addition there’s been quite a few complaints about having to “pay to test”. Which absolutely was not the intention!”

    To me, all of this seems awfully symbolic and prophetic for the rest of the game development and the end product.

    My perception is that they seem to care a lot more about how they can manage to monetize people at every step and get them to fork over their last bit of cash that they could possibly expend (even before the game is out, at that) by overpromising, even at the expense of the quality of the final game.

    It’s not even that it might necessarily end up being as bad as a lot of people imagine it might be, but that an awful lot of them are putting all that money into the campaign even before knowing any of the finalized details of the payment model and game systems.
    With other Free2Play games (say Star Wars: The Old Republic or World of Tanks) you already know the extent of all of that and what your money will get you, and people putting down money on virtual goods likely also know if the game is fun or not.

    For instance I remember similar conversations about the motives behind the Daiblo III Auction House system before the game came out and most everyone, including Blizzard in retrospect could recognize that it was a bad idea for the inherent game quality, borne of greed and not much more.

    • airmikee99 says:

      “There are an awful lot of people spending up to $1250: http://i.imgur.com/Ux83PUT.png on a virtual ship in a game that doesn’t exist yet and they won’t know if it’ll be good or the intricate details of its Pay2Win-ness (how long will it take to grind for such a ship for instance, how easy is it to get it?)”

      Caveat emptor.

      Unless one of those people had a gun being held to their head, it is their own fault for spending that much money on an unfinished game, the developer shouldn’t be blamed for it.

      I’m going to play Star Citizen, and Squadron 42, and I’m not going to spend a single damn penny on either until they’re done.

      • harbinger says:

        “I’m going to play Star Citizen, and Squadron 42, and I’m not going to spend a single damn penny on either until they’re done.”
        And that would seem to be the correct way to handle it and I agree. I was very excited about it at first too, but as soon as I saw their prospective payment model they had in mind I had my doubts and decided to wait for a finalized product.
        If it ends up being a great enjoyable game, great I might put down my money for it after I see it and everything surrounding it (especially their payment model and the degree of Pay2Win and grind required when finalized) and don’t have to buy a pig in a poke.
        Yet they got almost $27 million and there are people out there that put several hundred to thousands of dollars into this game (I heard of people with fleets of ships worth $30.000 or beyond) and there is already a shady grey market forming around the game at this very early point with people trying to profit off of it: http://themittani.com/features/star-citizens-grey-market

        There are also marauding bands of total fanatics roaming their forums and some parts of the Internet (likely the people who have already sunk that kind of crazy amount of money into it) hand-waving every possible concern others might have towards the game, telling everyone how everything will be fine.
        This for instance being a prime example for such mentality, defending the in-game store at this early stage: https://forums.robertsspaceindustries.com/discussion/47237/caution-mr-roberts-don-t-kowtow-to-forum-grumbling and proclaiming that everyone should be thankful for the $5 of in-game “credits” they were offered instead of complaining over the possible influences of such real money stores on the game overall.

      • klmx says:

        “Unless one of those people had a gun being held to their head, it is their own fault for spending that much money on an unfinished game, the developer shouldn’t be blamed for it.”

        It’s not that people are paying money for ships is the problem, it’s how they’re gonna balance the grindery aspect of it so that people that pay such amounts for a ship are not going to feel cheated, yet so that it’s not going to be pay2win. I don’t think that’s possible, which is why I haven’t backed it either*.

        That said, I’m very excited for the game itself. Seems like something anyone could enjoy, and it’s not like you have to pay money to enjoy it.

        *Yet, that is. I want a Hornet !

        • harbinger says:

          Yes definitely.
          I see this only possibly turning out in two ways, none of which would be very beneficial for the game or its backers:

          1) It turns out to not be a “very big deal” and people could get things like ships, weapons and other equipment in game without much problem, at which point most people that put down more than $100 for their special ships will likely not be able to rationalize the amount they spent and most of the ship-monetization options would be near to worthless and nobody would use them (which is kind of antithetical to the whole point of monetization and making money that way in the first place).
          There was already recent discontent over apparently more upcoming “Sales” of what they dubbed as “limited” ships: http://i.imgur.com/YovKGf8.png
          Upon which they apparently also changed the forum rules.

          2) The much more likely option that it is a horribly long and boring grind of the easiest way to make credits for those people who “have 40 hours a week to spend gaming” as Roberts put it, over multiple months to a year to offset the cost of spending ~$1250 in time, in which case the monetization-scheme will still work and the people who bought their ships for thousands of dollars will grin triumphantly as they enjoy the benefits of paying for virtual advantages to wash over the plebes and this legitimizes all the Pay2Win accusations against the game.

          I’m using a thing called common sense to call the second option based on what makes sense and what has been said so far, including what would work best for them in their set goal and intent to fleece people for the most money possible and generally having had the (dis)pleasure of being exposed to a lot of games (and MMOs) with similar monetization models and how they work.

          It immediately reminds me of this very important video on Pay2Win Chinese browser games from a developer standpoint, which caused nothing but disgust though: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1016417/-100-000-Whales-An

          • Shadow says:

            Right now there’s no real way to tell whether it’ll be case 1 or 2.

            People keep confusing pledges with mere ship-buying, and Cloud Imperium has stated, probably more than once but I don’t track the forums, that that’s not the intent. Right now everything’s ludicrously expensive because every dollar is pledge money: you’re primarily supporting the game’s development. Whatever you get as a bonus is just that, a bonus. There’s a fine line many people still don’t seem to notice, but it’s there.

            I knew that full well when I shelled out 150 dollars for the Colonel package, the most I’ve spent on any game ever. The Hornet and perks here and there are nice, but I was mainly contributing to the revival of a largely forgotten genre and the resurgence of the PC as a kick-ass, dominating platform.

            Regardless of what Chris Roberts might’ve said about World of Tanks, I believe it’s quite cynical to think he’ll ruin his potential life’s achievement by turning it into an immense grindfest purely for the sake of the people who misinterpreted the oft-clarified pledge system. Frankly, if there’s people out there who paid over $30k purely because they think that’ll entitle them to owning half the main server’s galaxy, they pretty much deserve what’s coming for them.

          • Famousbwd says:

            That post you linked was a troll, Ben Lesnick responded on that thread and said the Idris P and Scythe will not be in the sale. You seem to only be focusing on the negatives there is never going to be a perfect process for funding and releasing a game that will make everyone happy. As for the “grind” to get ships i assume you mean dogfighting, pirating, trading, mining ect…. the gameplay. People need to have self control on how much they spend. I have a one man ship and a four man ship to play with friends. I could afford alot more but i want to earn more ships through gameplay.

      • wz says:

        “Caveat emptor.”

        As I understand it, Consumer law tends to look at the bargaining position of the buyer and seller. Caveat Emptor only applies if they are equal. In cases where the seller has expertise, like trusting a claim on a safety harness or trusting a mechanic’s advice to get something replaced immediately. This takes into account the elderly, as well.

        That is for buying an existing thing, Saving time grinding out a ship when that time is unknown and the abilities of the ship don’t have a defined context? In this case it is buying a part in something that has not even been defined yet, let alone something that exists. So precise details are important, and the legal standing appears tricky.
        Star Citizen is probably making stuff up as they go along :P. They might get away with it if it was restricted to really low priced items, but $1250?

    • Thrippy says:

      I wasn’t aware they were accepting cash for the Voyager Direct store – outside of the pledge buyin. What a mess.

      As a point of comparison, I was a beta tester for Bigpoint’s Battlestar Galactica Online. They “tested” the in-game store by giving us a wheel barrow full of game credits. We were cautioned that all (funny money) prices were subject to change. That was perfectly fine because it never occurred to anyone involved that real money could or should exchange hands during a beta test. That would be unethical, if not illegal. Once you accept money you’re locking yourself in as to options, policies, even balance issues for functional items. This is not a trival issue. There was a big stink in Star Trek Online when they reskinned a premium whatsit. Customers got to keep the old and new skins. Otherwise… there’s a problem isn’t there?

      I really don’t know why they thought it was acceptable to figure everything out – including prices on functional-in-the-future items AFTER the cash for credits Voyager Direct was open for business. They gave everyone 5000 credits to smooth everything over? Is that right? I think as apologies go, that should be a one shot deal. Otherwise… these are no longer mistakes, but, as you say, a sign of intent i.e. a money grab.

      They really need to bring some one in who was considerable practical, and legal, experience in freemium/premium games. In other words, lawyer up. Especially considering the amount of millions already received.

  11. InternetBatman says:

    There’s been a lot of criticisms of dialog trees recently, but I’ve yet to see a worthy replacement. The wiki-model frequently repeats the same flaws of the dialogue tree, it just presents it in a different way. The Mass Effect model is a dialogue tree with even less options and less control over your player. Alpha Protocol mitigated tree problems by having an exceptional amount of content and reactivity, and usually removed the options for backtracking.

    The only evolution I’ve seen is something like Pterodactyl studios, where you pick a stance to what you’re saying, but I haven’t played it and seen how it works out.

  12. Weed says:

    Are both of these games Free To Play?

    I certainly hope not.

    FTP is just not worth the time.

    • SendoTarget says:

      Around 60 dollars to get both when it’s finished. It’s a buy2play-model, not free to pay or pay-to-play like WoW etc.

  13. johnnyboy101 says:

    I am primarily interested in the single player part of this game ( squadron 42). Is there any point to me paying more than 30 for the beta access if I want to try it early? Over double that just to get to the smuggler class…

  14. CedaVelja says:

    Why is no one mentioning freelancer in this whole thing?
    That game was damn good and the last title that he made, this whole love letter to the good old joystick 50 buttons to fly your ship doesn’t appeal to me at all, and to most people i would think….

    • Arglebargle says:

      Freelancer was pulled from Roberts control when Microsoft booted him from the company. It was redone by different folk. Doesn’t stop his fans from crediting it to him.

      • sgstorm says:

        @Arglebargle – I see you post all the time on ‘Rock, Paper, Shotgun’ trashing Roberts. I know for a fact everything you write is pure BS. For starters, MS never booted Roberts off Freelancer, they in fact begged him to stay and the project turned out to not reach its full potential as Roberts wasn’t steering that ship anymore!! I do not know where you get your sources from but they are all way off-base. Please share your Origin sources as I know a whole bunch of the ex-Origin staff (at the highest levels) and they all hold Chris in high regard. I’m tired of reading your comments for the past year here, where you continue to re-iterate the same untruths. Can you explain what you are trying to achieve? – as your personal axe that you seem to want to grind all the time makes zero sense.

    • Werthead says:

      Possibly controversial opinion: FREELANCER wasn’t very good. It was too arcadey (300-metre-wide planets, point and click shooting), too simplistic and the story campaign was utterly awful, with some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen in a professionally-released game product. The only reason I could make it to the end was John-Rhys Davis doing his entertaining shouty acting spiel. The ending in the Dyson Sphere was interesting, but a bit lame as you couldn’t go back there in free-play mode.

      The free-play, open-universe trading stuff was just poorly done compared to the likes of the X series (even the ropey early ones) and EVE. Hell, I’d much prefer to fire up an old copy of FRONTIER in comparison.

      STARLANCER, on the other hand, was very good. A shame they never got to make the two sequels, especially since FREELANCER made it clear that the good guys lost in the end, which would have been interesting to see play out in the games.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Starlancer was developed by Warthog, though Roberts gets credit for that as well by his fans. Digital Anvil were just the producers.

        • Apocalypse says:

          A Roberts getting credit for Starlancer is 100% right. It was just Erin Roberts, not Chris Roberts baby, even when Chris Roberts was involved in the project, iirc he was one of the producers there as well.

          Seems like I do remember correct: http://www.mobygames.com/game/starlancer

          • Arglebargle says:

            This is a problem of parsing importance. A name on a box doesn’t always reflect the level of input. As an example, movies are filled with producer credits, but precious few of them had any useful input on day to day creation of the movie. Quite often, whatever input they’ve had is counter productive. Erin has exec, concept, and producer credit. Chris has an executive producer credit, but nothing else. Yet this continually gets credited as one of his games by his fans.

            I can do the quoty thing as well:
            “Warthog was founded in April 1997, the core of the development team composed of ex-Electronic Arts personnel responsible for, amongst other titles, the hit Privateer 2: The Darkening. With this as the basis, Warthog began to develop something of a speciality in space-flight sims, with follow-up titles Starlancer (which sold over 330,000 units, mainly on PC) and Star Trek: Invasion (achieving over 230,000 units on PlayStation)….”

          • Apocalypse says:

            In one of the interviews for Star Citizen Chris Roberts even mentioned that while he was involved in Starlancer, he was busy with a different project mostly. He still talked a lot on the phone with Erin about the game and gave input, but the whole thing was mainly Erin Roberts baby.

            The other project should have been freelancer btw, at least if we look at the long development cycle for freelancer, but he did not mention the name in the interview.

      • CedaVelja says:

        You are either extremely biased or we didn’t play the same game.

        • Apocalypse says:

          More likely different taste. I have to agree that Freelancers basic flight and combat mechanics were ridiculous bad.

          The mouse controls worked from a game play perspective, but they changed the feeling of the game drastically, more important was the problem in multiplayer with the weapon balance. Without modding the game pvp was rather dull once you figured out that you could kill anything in a single pass with cannonball launchers and a few shots of your guns. That the game offered basically jousting thanks the engine kill mechanics and mouse controls just worsen the problem into a nearly unfixable state.

    • UpsilonCrux says:

      Hmmm. Seems there’s $27,000,000 going against your opinion.
      Roberts’ description of Star Citizen;

      “The traditional publishers don’t believe in PC or Space Sims. Venture Capitalists only want to back mobile or social gaming start ups.
      We say they’re wrong. We say that there is a large audience of PC gamers that want *sophisticated* games built for their platform. And inside this audience, a significant group of people that have always loved space games, and if given a quality one again will be happy to play it.
      Let’s put high-end PC gaming and Space Sims back on the map!
      Star Citizen brings the visceral action of piloting interstellar craft through combat and exploration to a new generation of gamers at a level of fidelity never before seen.”

  15. DanMan says:

    As we developers say, noone’s going to remember what time you delivered, only how good it was.

  16. Seafort says:

    I backed the kickstarter but won’t be putting any more money into the game till I see something actually working.

    The selling of in game ships I’m not sure what to think of it. In one way it is Pay2Win where many people will have masses of ships at their disposal when the game is released whereas myself and many other like me will just have one ship at our disposal. The rest of the ships I want will be earned in game.

    I think they’ll come a point where the developer has to close the store down till launch or it’s just going to be one big disaster if the game isn’t as good as the hype around it. Many people have spent thousands of dollars on ships and for the game to suck at the end of it all is just going to be a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

    The other thing is the system specs supposedly required to play the game. I don’t have the PC to play the game atm if it launched today but it’s 2 years away and I hope I will have upgraded by then.

    Min specs are Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8, DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM, Quad core CPU and 8GB Memory.

    Star Citizen has broken through the publisher barrier and funded the game entirely with crowd funding. I just hope they can pull it off.

    • Inertiaman says:

      Yes I’m sure even if the near-mythical beast that is the video game class action suit* rears it’s grim heads that RSI will be shitting themselves about people in court claiming that their internet space ship got blown up by another internet spaceship.

      *Have there been any other than EASports?

  17. Mogglewump says:

    Personally, I’m not that bothered about the MMO but I’ll happily play the single player or multi on a private server on a LAN with a few of my friends.

  18. nimbulan says:

    I hope you touch on the microtransactions and limited-edition items in the full Star Citizen interview. That’s the one thing that’s been pointed out to me by several different people as a bad sign as to where this game is going. I’m not too worried myself and am eagerly awaiting the dogfighting module, but I do have some concern about game balance when people are allowed to buy expensive ships with real money.

  19. Muctla722 says:

    This is fantastic. Google is paying 80$ per hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. Yesterday I bought a top of the range Lancia after having made $9458 this month . Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out http://ow.ly/qBwvs

  20. racccoon says:

    THANK GOD for CHRIS ROBERTS & others who BELIEVE in the PC.

    Its a shame that companies like ROCKSTAR DIS BELIEVE in the PC and our dedication to be alive.
    Go suck a rock ROCKSTAR!

    PRAISE be the.. CHRIS ROBERTS. Good on you.

    • Arglebargle says:

      He doesn’t need any help or encouragement in being an egotistical maniac….

    • wz says:

      Chris Roberts was quoted on here on Massively/Joystiq as saying: “The good news is that [the PS4] is essentially a PC, so that means PC owners will get much better ports of console games. I’m not a PC elitist by any means,” Roberts explains. “If I could be on the PS4, and they were open, and I could do the updating and all the sort of stuff we’re trying to do on Star Citizen, then I would definitely consider putting it on PS4 because it’s essentially a PC with a friendlier operating system.”

      So it turned out that Roberts love for the PC only because consoles had restrictions(updates have to jump through hoops).

      Regrettably, our friend racccoon did not see any articles casting any cynicism towards Roberts’love for the PC essentially being a moot point because of the issues MMOs have with console companies. Or was there such an article on RPS?

      Nathan said: “My eyebrow leaped into the coldest, deepest reaches of my hairline at that notion. After all, single-player games aren’t cheap. Yes, Roberts and co have amassed more than $25 million between Kickstarter and their own site, but that may as well be brightly colored Monopoly money in the grand scheme of things”

      It ultimately comes down to the manhours possible with the lower overheads in advertisement etc. as a result of not going with EA.

      Perhaps Roberts can give us an estimate of the manhours he can secure now vs if he had a ‘MMO-plus-single-player budget’ from EA in his next interview.

      It’s this silvered tongue that riles spacesim fans who aren’t just the kickstarter renaissance hipsters, and are aware of how hard the existing spacesim devs have it.

      This isn’t an area of gamedev where a a small thing might mean the difference between having a gold plated ivory backscratcher and a un-goldplated one.
      It means stress issues(Evochron dev), having to live on KFC after running out of money trying to secure funding while living on savings (Infinity dev Keith as written on the forums), or Kerberos seemingly having to half develop and release SOTS 2 early because they couldn’t find a publisher for Northstar after they said it needed 6 months work IIRC (more speculative here).

      Funnily enough these three gamedevs are all procedural so the scale of their games will be beyond anything Star Citizen can hope for.

      Kudos to Nathan for calling Star Citizen out on it and hopefully other sites do as well, and perhaps Star Citizen will be more mindful of the existing little people in the spacesim area they might otherwise crush.

  21. Arglebargle says:

    Roberts is a failed Hollywood hack producer whose newfound love of games came at the same time his movie career foundered. His business sense cannot be denied, he hit the crowdfunding arena with perfect timing, and with the full Hollywood marketing and PR panoply. It certainly worked to bring in the dough. It would be great for the gaming field if this works out. Talking to folks who worked with him at Origin (and weren’t part of his sycophantic clique), I am less hopeful. Though as one said, ‘Maybe he’s matured in the last 15 years.’

    The rosy fingers of nostalgia are certainly bringing in the big bucks though.

    • HothMonster says:

      You know he made games long before he went off to hang out with Freddie Prince Jr. right?

    • FL-MiniMe says:

      Hey, I can make references with no backing too. Arglebargle’s boss said he had walked in on him ‘flogging the dolphin’ numerous times throughout the workday, to the point he had to be let go. Other co-workers said he liked to look at their family pictures, but would some times not return them when asked, only the ones with kids in the frame. I recently spoke to a few of Arglebargle’s relatives, who claimed he had a penchant for leather chaps and various head-wear to accent the look. Mind you, they’d never seen him on a motorcycle.

      Tossing useless crap out is such fun!

  22. FL-MiniMe says:

    Here’s what crowd funding rewards boil down to: You get something decent for your contribution which helps the developer actually make the game. If you don’t feel like contributing before the product ships, that is just fine, but don’t feel put upon when others have a “head start” on you when they are the ones that actually funded the game’s development. Everyone needs to spend $30 to buy a basic game package once it’s finished. Cheaper than most games currently ($50 avg at release). After that you don’t *need* to spend a cent more. You may WANT to, but you don’t NEED to. It’s not anyone else’s problem that some people have no ability to progress towards a goal gradually.
    They’ve already stated private servers and modding will be fully supported. Freelancer is still around today because of just that. Though admittedly it was the community who came up with all the tools to mod FL. Games that provide tools for modders are active much longer than those that don’t. The other side of that is that modding does not tend to bring in much supporting cash for the developer. But that is offset by the fact that bandwidth and servers on mod servers are handled by that mod’s admin / host, and so those costs are not the dev’s problem. If FL is any indication, there will be plenty of mods for this once it’s out. Modding is also the one of the biggest reasons for playing anything on the PC, so who cares if it eventually lands on a console thanks to Mantle support. The title will likely outlive consoles anyhow, seeing as this is supposed to be the last PS to come out, and MS obviously is heading away from the XBox now too.

    Whatever the case, we who have contributed however much cash, are bringing this game to the rest of the waiting public. If some twat decides to park his Idris at every worthwhile chokepoint, hit up a modded server and forget about the tard, or do that social thing I’ve heard about and bring a force to lay waste to him all the way back to his home world until he logs out crying. There will be many ways to play, and with Squadron 42, you won’t even have to encounter anyone like that, yet you *will* be able to invite buddies along to play through that as well.
    In the event that the entire game nose-dives, you only need to look on youtube to see that we’ll still have some incredibly awesome ships to play with in our own private CryEngine mods. Just the amount of awesome in the Freelancer I backed for is worth the price of admission, along with all the nifty stories they’ve come out with on the website.

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