I suppose we should’ve seen this coming. Between the launch of multiple satellite studios and a big, fat hint that this exact thing would happen from Chris Roberts himself, it was pretty much telegraphed via the medium of outer space hyper-com laser beam (“Communication so effective it kills, serving the public since 2873″). Star Citizen‘s dogfighting module has been delayed by multiple months in the name of getting a full server backend up-and-running, as opposed to coasting along on CryEngine 3’s primitive default option, which presumably consists of a series of immaculately rendered turtles that you hurl through each others’ windows.
Roberts was frank in his post outlining the situation, as opposed to Chris, who he normally is.
“As time has progressed I’ve become more nervous taking the down and dirty route with the initial dogfighting build, especially as our numbers grow. With so many people in the Alpha we need a whole other level of backend support, which would require serious work on CryEngine’s existing multiplayer structure – a lobby system, spinning up servers to handle each session – all things that we are building the new Star Citizen backend to handle. Unfortunately the server backend technology will not be ready for prime time for a couple more months. But this is really what I would like to run the dogfighting on, as it will link into your hangar, friend’s lists, chat and so on.”
The dev team also considered temporarily going the single-player route, but ultimately decided that’d take up too much precious development time with the creation of throwaway AI and things like that. Even Squadron 42 will, to some extent, make use of the communications web Roberts and co are stitching together in their intergalactic knitting circle.
The other big goal is to deliver an alpha that’s more polished than most, as dogfighting is a huge part of Star Citizen. All eyes will be on this module, and the team is well aware. Thus, Roberts reasoned in his post, everything needs to be on point: HUDs, effects, damage states – all of it. Every duck must be in its proper row, lest they waddle right out an airlock.
If it’s any consolation, the hangar will still be getting some “fun” new functionality by the end of the week. I doubt it’s anything huge, but at least you’re not coming away completely empty-handed. And hey, in the meantime, I dug up this super early prototype dogfighting module that you can totally try out right now. Er, well, maybe there’s not so much fighting, but it’s… well, you’ll see.