Star Citizen Dev Team 200-Strong, Dogfighting In April

By Nathan Grayson on March 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

If Chris Roberts slipped and hurt his knee, would that be called a Roberts Space Injury?

Is it already time for more Star Citizen news here on Rock Citizen Stargun? My my, what a total and completely unexpected shock. For real, though, Chris Roberts has lifted his company’s space-age, radiation-proof hood to reveal some rather interesting info, so let’s talk about Wing Commander’s $40 million little brother again, shall we? Today we have two orders of business: Star Citizen’s dev team size (PREDICTABLY QUITE LARGE) and the long-awaited dogfighting module’s release window. Hm, this article’s headline already tells you both those things. I guess you can leave now.

Or go below for a bit more detail. Your call.

In his first ever Monthly Report, Chris Roberts did a bit of dissection work on his own dev team’s structure:

“You may find it interesting to know that as of this moment there are 212 people working on Star Citizen between the internal and external studios and contractors! More people are working on this project than most AAA console titles, and it’s definitely the largest team to work on a Space Sim. These are jobs you have created!”

That is definitely a lot of people, though still fewer than one might expect of an MMO with galaxy-sized ambitions and a full-blown, cinematics-ridden single-player campaign. But with various teams scattered around the world focusing on different elements of the game, Roberts claims that he doesn’t need as many people. His process, he believes, is far more efficient than traditional triple-A development.

We will have an opportunity to see how Star Citizen and Squadron 42’s core elements are coming together soon, given that so-called “dogs” will begin “fighting” in April. Roberts plans to debut the module at a special “Citizens-only” event during PAX East and release it to backers online shortly after. Apparently it’s already in a state where developers can now “regularly” play in the office, though server issues could still delay it again.

So there you have it. The Chris Roberts Orbital Fortress in the sky keeps on turning. Fingers crossed that we get to leave the hangar soon and join him out on the deck for some sexy, sexy spaceship battling. Or at least, like, shuffleboard.

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52 Comments »

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  1. blobb says:

    And they’ll all be fired as soon as the game ships.

    • Lukasz says:

      Of course. Why would they keep them hired unless they are going to make a new game immediately star citizen is finished.

    • 2late2die says:

      Did you miss the part where SC is going to have a persistent universe that will be regularly updated with new content?

      I’m sure some outsourced studios will be “fired” when SC is out of beta and live, studios that are responsible for say ship ads, or websites improvements. Then again those studios are “expecting” that – they were brought in, on contract, to complete a part of the project, when that part is done they’ll part ways – completely par of the course.

      As for the core studios, well for one, there’s always some turnaround, there’s also a good chance that some folks in the core studios are also working on contract, but even if some folks will be let go when SC goes fully live, that’s still a good year, year and a half, possibly 2 years away, and many have already been working on the project for a year or so, if not longer. So, having employment in a studio like CIG for 2-3 years is nothing to scoff at, and a great opportunity and experience even if that’s all you get.

      • Moraven says:

        The game right now makes me think of Euro Train Sim and its $1000 to own everything.

    • Premium User Badge

      Cinek says:

      Welcome to the Video Game Industry.

  2. frightlever says:

    200 people at $100k per year would equate to $40 million covering development for two years, though it’s obviously not that neat and most of those people probably aren’t needed fulltime. Still, interesting to see how the money pans out if there are significant delays.

    • Fellhuhn says:

      … if those people work on the streets by hitting their forehead against stuff. Otherwise the cost might be a bit higher. ;)

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      PoulWrist says:

      I’d be very surprised if even half the people are paid that much money.

    • John Walker says:

      200 people at a much more realistic salary would see that money go a lot further.

      • Premium User Badge

        The Sombrero Kid says:

        & given over half of them are outsourced to work on a small part of the game for no doubt a much shorter period of time than the full development, the companies at which they work having other work for hire projects on the boil simultaneously.

      • Tekrunner says:

        100k$ might be a bit overestimated, but don’t forget that that’s meant to be the total cost per employee (including stuff like pensions and healthcare), not how much money the person actually gets.

        Also, wages aren’t the only expenses of the company. There’s also rent, utility bills, fixed investment (at least the computers they work on?) and taxes (they can’t have paid 0 tax at all on that 40 million, can they?).

        • Werthead says:

          A large chunk of those people – those working on SQUADRON 42 – will be employed in the UK, where there are no extra healthcare costs (and likely no extra pension costs, that’s going out of fashion here). No idea what a realistic wage for a programmer is here in the UK, but it might be a bit less due to those things not having to be covered,

          • Volcanu says:

            ‘Defined Benefit’ or final salary schemes have gone the way of the dodo here, but Defined Contribution schemes (where the company have to pay a certain contribution per month into an employee’s pension fund) are the norm. So this too is an added cost.

            UK employers will also have to pay employers national insurance contributions on top of those wages, so there is that to think about.

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            Cinek says:

            “No idea what a realistic wage for a programmer is here in the UK,” – usually less than 100k$ a year.

        • meheleventyone says:

          It’s totally not an overestimate, if anything the cost is an underestimate. It’s high if you only consider salary but not if you consider all the costs of office space, computers and other ancillary costs.

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            Cinek says:

            Yes, it is. Contractors don’t earn anywhere near 100$k a year.

          • Shuck says:

            Yeah, the common rule of thumb is to double salaries to determine total costs (including office space), making this an underestimate if they were all employees. (But then, as said, many of the people working on this have limited roles, and game contract employees seem to be frequently woefully underpaid.)

          • meheleventyone says:

            Contractors cost more… you just hope you don’t need them for as long. The bulk of employees are going to be salaried though as there is a need for a continuity of knowledge and experience.

            $100,000 per seat per year is not a bad back of the envelope average for total cost per employee to include all the resources they will require in a year and salary. Big teams cost big money and it’s very easy to top $1 million per month for even a more modest sized studio.

          • Corb says:

            $100k is average cost for a computer programmer…a high end programmer. Most of the other programmers probably get closer to $70k, the art people well…not my field so couldn’t tell you. Even with benefits not every single employee is a $100k black hole especially since most of them are most likely not programmers. (go through your favorite games and watch the credits and compare the size of the programming team to the art team)

      • Moraven says:

        And it would be a lot cheaper if any of these companies decide to have their offices not in CA or tech Centers like Austin. Sure its nice to be able to drive to and meet someone for lunch from different devs, but the cost of living there is significantly higher. I wonder how much of their work is done outside the office face to face that requires them to live in LA and Austin.

  3. derbefrier says:

    Glad they started these monthly reports. A lot of this info was already available just spread out through the site and videos making spcific info hard to find. Looking forward to the DFM here’s hoping it enjoys the same amount of ohhhhhs and ahhhhhhhs elite is getting.

    • Maxheadroom says:

      It would be hilarious if the dog fighting module just turned out to be ‘floating platform’ hack that people managed to unlock in the hanger module 6 months ago

      :)

  4. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    These numbers are always the sum of all employees at the organisations working on the game, including trailer guys, marketing companies, third party developers etc. etc. and is never representative of actual developers working on the actual game. If press would stop reporting this BS like it means something it’d help stem the tide of inflating ridiculous numbers ever higher.

    • screecwe says:

      Then try looking on their site under “Monthly Report: February 2014″ and you’ll see the exact breakdown of how many of each job they have working per studio.

    • derbefrier says:

      Huh? You realize star citizen has like 3 studios all working on different parts of the game. From the persistant universe, the first person shooter part, squadron 42 etc.. Look through the actual. Post on the site. I think you will find in this case these numbers aren’t inflated at all.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      You mean like, what the article already states in its quote from CR?

      You may find it interesting to know that as of this moment there are 212 people working on Star Citizen between the internal and external studios and contractors!

      So between EVERYONE – there’s the count. You make it sound like they bumped the numbers up. I don’t know if you can read, but that’s pretty obvious that it counts literally everyone from internal studios and external contractors.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Sombrero Kid says:

      To be clear, I’m not saying they’re lying they’re pretty clear in their statement that it is 212 people loosely associated with the game in some way at this point in time and not 200 full time devs. What I’m saying is it’s BS because it has nothing to do with anything and fuels a pissing contest between publishers to see how many interns they can acquire to make tea and lay off after they got their headline.

      A large dev team is an indicator of a lack of quality and not something a well run studio should aspire to. For the record the way the Star Citizen Project has scaled up seems much more responsible than a lot of these games.

      • WhaleboneMcCoy says:

        Uhh, Earth to Meekus, they don’t have a publisher because they’ve sold 40 million dollars worth of copies already.

      • ceriphim says:

        Dude just call it a day, that’s two strikes in a row.

      • macc says:

        Dude, you’re really making a fool of yourself posting all this misinformation.

      • screecwe says:

        Some people just like bitching and moaning for the sake of bitching and moaning.

        You, are one of those people.

  5. kael13 says:

    Watched the latest ’10 for the Chairman’ yesterday, in which CR takes questions from members of the community.
    He and the lead writer showed off the document they’ve created, cataloging the next 900 years in architectural development, in order to give their planets/cities more of a real feeling instead of ‘just having been designed from the ground up by one guy’.

    Crazy stuff, but I for one am looking forward to my Late 29th Century organic egg souffle* skylines of the Raymond Blanc-Revival Movement.

    *may or may not contain real egg.

  6. HisDivineOrder says:

    I sense a disturbance in the Force. It’s as though expectations have grown wildly out of control and then will be cruelly unmet. I fear something horrible is about to happen.

    • cunningmunki says:

      I like that the RPS comment section has no voting buttons. But sometimes I really wish it did.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lars Westergren says:

      Yes, I get very apprehensive when I hear about IT projects with teams this large. I hope they are better at project management than most people, or a lot of money is going to get wasted.

      • kael13 says:

        Having multiple teams, located across continents, will always be a pain in the butt to project manage. That is definitely the biggest pitfall I can see with this game.

      • Shuck says:

        It’s not a particularly large team by AAA standards. Some of my co-workers have worked on (rather forgettable) games with excess of 500 developers, and GTA V supposedly had something like a thousand people involved in it. You just end up with a hell of a lot of managers with larger team sizes to make sure everyone is on the same page, whether they’re in the same building or on different continents.

      • Arglebargle says:

        I have a strong antipathy to Roberts, who’s pretty universally disliked by everyone I know who worked for him. He carries that egotistical position that all he has to do is show up for the game to be great. And while he is a better project manager than, say, Richard Garriott, his contributions to the games he’s helmed is really overblown. Roberts has, in the past, oversold and overhyped game features that never materialized as planned.

        Hope that the team he’s put together is really good, because SC will rise or fall on their efforts. Pretty sure they’ll all be overworked and underappreciated.

        Strike Commander – “The Strike Commander project took more than four years and over a million man hours on background development. Very little of that production time turned out to be actually usable in the final product, as at least one and possibly several complete project “reboots” were required to refine the graphical engine to a playable state.”

    • derbefrier says:

      oh yeah definitely just spend a few minutes on the forums and you’ll see that coming. Cant really be helped people let thier imaginations run wild and forget in the end this is still just a video game.

  7. SillyWizard says:

    It’s kind of incomprehensible to me that these people have acquired $40m+ pre-release.

    Is there going to be anybody left interested in picking up the game after it comes out…?

    • Baines says:

      They aren’t just selling copies of the game. They are selling subscriptions, in-game currency, and in-game content.

  8. nitehawk says:

    Articles like this make me feel like this thing is going to be the next 38 Studios incident.

    Please don’t suck, please don’t suck.

    • nitehawk says:

      Granted, there is a huge difference between crowd funded and government subsidies…

  9. nimbulan says:

    I can’t wait to try this out. Hopefully the engine is a bit better optimized before then though. Having framerate problems in the starter hangar with a GTX 760 was a bit worrying.

    • CrazedIvan says:

      I can’t wait either. Its a bit of a shame there is a bit of a frame rate problem with just that hanger, I have the same issue as well even on low settings, but people have to remember this is pre-alpha stuff they are giving us.

      Ill take what I can get.

  10. hideinlight says:

    Game is gonna fail hard.
    Most of the people who threw money at it won’t even able to play it.

  11. Geen says:

    I’m grabbing my popcorn for this eventual glorious trainwreck.

  12. krisk7 says:

    The single most important reason the game got delayed is that Chris Roberts got much more money than he initially inticipated. Instead of releasing someting on the level of Elite Dangerous, which he could have done by now, he decided to do an epic game with much more fidelity vs. original plans.

    Uninformed naysayers or trolls already see doom, but this is a standard train of their thought.
    I have no doubt we are going to see an epic game. Everything is going well and even if SC gets delays by several month … well after a while nobody remembers if a game was delayed, but everybody remebers if a rushed game was full of bugs.