Star Citizen opens up with weekly production schedules

Star Citizen [official site] developers Cloud Imperium Games have always spokenly about their big dreams for the space sandbo but been a bit hazier on the specifics of what’s coming when. That’s changing. Four years after Star Citizen’s initial crowdfunding campaign ended, CIG have started issuing huge weekly updates on development, not just with target release dates but the whole internal schedule too. If you’ve backed it and are wondering what they’re up to, well gosh oh golly you can now see in so very much detail. We may still need to wait for huge tell-alls for off-message commentary but gosh-o this is remarkable insight for such a big game.

CIG plan to issue new production schedule reports weekly. They’ve broken down features into tasks, scheduled them, said how they’re coming on, estimated when they should be done, and even made little pictures with bars and things. You’ll see that they plan to release Alpha 2.6 on December 8th, though of course this may change.

Head honch Chris Roberts talks about the decision to open about this in his latest ‘Letter from the Chairman’:

“Whether or not to share this kind of information has been a long running debate among the team here at Cloud Imperium Games. Target dates are not release dates, and everything you see will shift at some point, sometimes slightly and sometimes wildly. The danger in doing this has always been that casual observers will not understand this, that there will be an outcry about delays every time we update the page.

“We’ve taken stock, thought through everything and decided that, while that is a risk, above all we trust the community that has given us so much support. The community that has let us focus our passions on this incredible project. You have allowed us to take this journey, you have tracked and followed so much of how game development works… and now we think it is right to further part the curtain and share with you our production process.”

Speaking of Alpha 2.6, here’s a peek at the new Star Marine stuff due to arrive with it:

From this site

46 Comments

  1. BobbyDylan says:

    I applaud them for opening up their communication, but now it’ll just drive more angst when those dates are inevitably missed.

    Also, I think Star Marine looks terrible. That gunplay looks so janky and unpleasant, and the TTK looks frustratingly high.

    • Titus Balls says:

      Yea looks buggy, but hopefully they can work on it. Kind of reminds me of Counter Strike, which might not be a bad thing.

    • Petethegoat says:

      Looks like a really shit version of Blacklight Retribution, which was pretty good against all odds. (at least when I played it, years and years ago)

    • Zenicetus says:

      One reason it looks janky is that it’s demo’d on a gamepad, not mouse and keyboard. The panning and aiming is horrible.

      • FCA says:

        Why do they demo in a PC only game the FPS with a gamepad? On a related, but slightly more serious note: why do they spend time and money on this Star Marine stuff, while the stuff they promised way back when like Squadron 42 is being delayed indefinitely?

        • Marr says:

          As Tom Francis has pointed out, sitting up at a keyboard and mouse is the daily working environment for game devs, and comes with RSI issues for many. Thus they like to retire to couch, TV and controller for gaming R&R.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Really? That’s the excuse for this jerky gamepad demo?

            Maybe at this point they’re only interested in promoting to the fans who have already bought into the game. Because from an outside perspective, that just sounds like a lame excuse for what they’re showing here.

            Are we supposed to prefer gamepads instead of HOTAS setups for flying the spaceships too, because that’s easier to do from a couch and a TV screen?

          • Unclepauly says:

            @ Zenicetus – PC only games are now being infected with consolitis. When will it end?

          • Janichsan says:

            …comes with RSI issues for many.

            The developers at RSI are suffering from RSI issues? Shocking.

    • Sir_Eric says:

      The Time to Kill is high because they are wearing heavy armor. Lighter armor is less resistant but gives you mobility advantages. They chose not to use lighter armor for the presentation.

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      The whole trailer makwa it seem like the weapons are annoyingly imprecise.

    • Neonin says:

      So the TTK isn’t the CoD/Planetside 2 annoyance of “Whoever see the opponent first wins”? SOLD!

      Honestly, I don’t mind it for PvE but the TTK in modern shooters is extremely annoying. Ahh Planetside 1, how I miss thee…

  2. ramirezfm says:

    So Star Citizen is a bad CoD clone now? o_O Do they plan to include all genres in the game? I can’t wait for Star Mahjong alpha.

  3. Goschti says:

    Well. They promised 3.0 for this year and it does not even have a schedule…. Nice of them to open a little part of the plan but lying is worse than missing dates in my opinion.

    And with the planned date shortly before the holidays it will push into 2017 if one hiccup occurs.
    Still not impressed with this.

    • Premium User Badge

      modzero says:

      I won’t even say it’s nice. Considering their history, is just feels like an excuse that enables them to dismiss release dates even more easily. Now it’s not even a promise! It’s an internal schedule! Nothing we say means anything, we’re free!

      • Goschti says:

        Well I pulled my money out after they changed their TOS to go back on the promise of showing financials if they miss the 2014 release date by 18 months.
        For me this reeked of desparation and I just keep watching the drama from the sidelines. Better than some daily soaps.

        For me I made the right decision. If they ever get a working game with even half of the promised stuff I’ll buy it. But giving them money to produce concepts or promotional videos to fuel their sales is not what I signed up for. They said they have all the money the would ever need. I like spacegames so please prove me wrong Mr. Roberts

    • Sir_Eric says:

      They never promised 3.0. for this year.
      Back at CitCon Chris clearly said that he might get shot if he’d make any more promises.
      And obviously…this timeline is only for 2.6. Nothing else. No lies here, so please, stop claiming that.

      • Goschti says:

        So Polygon reporting that 3.0 should come 2016 after a private session with the 3.0 demo is wrong?
        Did I believe it? No. But as I said. I would love to be proven wrong but given the track record this game will come out in 2020 with 25% of all features and the art looking already dated.

        • Sir_Eric says:

          Well, if Polygon claimed that, then yes, they were wrong.

        • derbefrier says:

          Yes its wrong. CIG doesnt give release dates and never makes any promises on release dates. Any schdule shown is estimated based on info known at the time and is subject to change(as they tend to do) Just for future reference if you ever see anyone claiming cig gave a hard release date,they are full of it.

          Now when they last showed us a roadmap 3.0 was on there for december but these are not release dates and should not be taken as such. The best guess now is 2.6 im december amd 3.0 aonth or two after that.

      • sethendal says:

        Did anyone tell Chris Roberts that someone at Gamescom this year was dressed as him and said they’d get it out End of the Year for 3.0?

        He said “We’re going to get it out at the end of the year, hopefully not on December 19th…I get shot for making promises but that’s our goal.”

        He didn’t pinky swear or say the word “I Promise” but when the CEO says “We’re going to get it out at the end of the year” I’m curious what you think people should glean from that?

        This religious-like defense of CR is the issue. He made the dates, he announced them and then wants to not have accountability to them. That’s on CIG and CR.

        link to youtu.be

        • derbefrier says:

          there’s nothing religious about pointing these dates are not promises. you even admitted he said they were not himself. Roberts wants to give dates he’s like an excited kid wanting to show off his new toy. but even in your own post he shows he is aware that he cant give hard dates and using the “subject to change” caveat that follows this only strengthens that. “this is our goal” is not a promise its an estimate. there’s nothing religious about stating a fact. you can take that however you want. IF you choose to ignore this fact and get mad about a estimated release date that’s on you and has nothing to do with people defending him like a religion. that’s just you ignoring reality and making your own set of standards, independent of what you have been told, and holding someone else accountable for them.

          • sethendal says:

            He gives release dates and misses them constantly. It’s recorded history. There is no standard here other than that of evidence.

            I was simply proving that he had said a 2016 release by linking to a video of him saying it. Not sure the “own set of standards” that implies other than recorded fact.

            It’s religious because no matter what evidence you’re presented, your church denies that CR or CIG have any blame to burden.

  4. lglethal says:

    sigh… What is it with management these days? Or has it always been like this and I just never noticed it previously? Or is it that since we now let managers play with Excel, Project and Powerpoint they feel the need to micromanage people to a stand still? Producing those sheets, creating the graphs, writing the copy, checking the copy, getting approval of everyone involved, there’s 1000 manhours down the crap hole. There already, what 2 years late? This sort of stuff doesnt help get anything produced, it just gets in the way of the people actually doing the work, being actually able to do the work!

    If anyone here is in management and gets an urge to do something like this at your work place, open your desk draw, put your head in there, and proceed to slam the draw shut repeatedly until the idea goes away…

    • Boozebeard says:

      Strongly disagree. With projects of this size, with this many people and departments you absolutely need this kind of organisation. Especially with things as iterative and open ended as game development. I’ve only ever worked on small games, with small teams and even in those cases this kind of stuff would of been helpful.

    • aldo_14 says:

      There is dedicated software for doing this sort of time management; it’s a key element in modern agile development, takes a few hours per week in general, and typically necessary for sensible organization and delivery. If you look at what we work at, it’s a bunch of small (not time estimated, but abstract complexity estimated) scored stories, split up into 2-3 week sprints of development work. It’s become pretty standard practice, at least within the non-games industry (games, despite being massively more complex and technically challenging, on the face of it don’t seem to adopt anything near the deadline and quality rigor other software adheres to). The point is not that it’s micromanagement (generally speaking, you pick what you do), but rather it’s breaking down the work that needs done and setting the boundaries for development and testing.

      However, it also doesn’t look much like what Star Citizen have put up.

    • aerozol says:

      Don’t want to burst any bubbles, but if everybody in management who does this slams their head in a desk, say goodbye to AAA movies, games and anything else that has a lot of employees and a lot of parts that have to come together.
      Want to work on a creative project at a big company with a big budget? Welcome to WORLD OF TIMESHEETS.

    • lglethal says:

      sigh… I wasn’t talking about standard project management. I’m well aware that management need time control, project and spreadsheets, etc. (I work in a 4000 strong company working on hundred million Euro projects, so I’m aware of this).

      What I was talking about was the unnecessary work needed to make this data publishable. Even internally publishable data prettied up like this, takes up huge amounts of time. Releasing this sort of data means you have to take the time to sanitise it, so trade secrets don’t get released, it has to run past every department to make sure that everyone agrees with the schedules being displayed, you have to create the pretty graphs, write the descriptions, get legal to check it all to make sure that nothing you’ve written can be taken as a firm promise, and all of other work that goes on behind to get things like this published. That takes a huge amount of hours on top of the standard project management tasks needed to run a huge project. Making this sort of data publishable on a weekly basis is just wasting everyone’s time…

    • Arglebargle says:

      The hallmark of Roberts’ productions are disorganization, sycophancy, and feature creep. Leading to overpromising and underdelivering.

      Not likely that these showpiece bits of ‘organization’ are much more than window dressing.

  5. Random Integer says:

    I haven’t checked the docs but I assume its just two tasks -‘Keep scam going until fake passports are ready’ and ‘Move to Rio on fake passports with scammed money’.

    • Sir_Eric says:

      Well, maybe you should. It’s not a scam, since they are obviously developing the game.
      A scam with more than 300 employees would be the worst and least efficient scam in history.

  6. Zenicetus says:

    I have never understood why they (both the company and the fan base) went so far into this Star Marine thing. I mean yeah… I get the ONE cool idea there, that you could board and take over another ship. And people apparently want the “walk around your ship” thing, okay.

    But FPS combat as a major element of the game? Anything in this area will be compared to other FPS games, and there are a ton of them out there, many of which will do this better. Hell, ME Andromeda will arrive before long. Do they really want to compete with that? I’ve never understood why they didn’t just focus only on the one thing where there is barely any deep competition, and that’s cockpit-level spaceship pew pew.

    • Stevostin says:

      I get you but at least the FPS they’re coocking starts to look solid, at least on value for money. Not sure it will be incredibly untertaining but it looks credible.

      OTOH you seem to think Mass Effect as a FPS. It’s an RPG. Fight are a mixed of TPV shooter (which is total crap no matter how you do it) and paused based RPG. It’s not bad but it’s nothing like a FPS.

      Now on the questing, story etc it would be surprising to see Star Citizen get more likeness than ME. But I am pretty sure that in ME office some people, at least the ones who cares about PC sales, are worried their game will look out dated because it’s not open world. Keep in mind that while the total sales for the whole ME trilogy is 14 millions, Bethesda had send 12 millions copy of Fallout IV for launch *retail*, and the game sold more download than retail one launch. Free roaming in an open world beats carefully crafted story in term of sales. That’s the way things are those days.

    • 2late2die says:

      Because it has always been about creating a universe to explore, not just fly around in spaceships. By george people, why is it so freaking hard to comprehend?!? Star Citizen is about creating a living, breathing universe where you can be a fighter pilot, or a trader, or a miner, or a pirate, or anything in between. A world that’s as real as they can make it given the tech, which means flying in ships, walking around on space stations, exploring proceduraly generated planets in a buggy and yes even walking around flying capital ships. (And not just for the sake of “walking”, but because capital ships allow for multiple people to perform different roles on those ships. Not to mention the ability to EVA from your ship to the enemy’s, board it, take over it and fly it to wherever – how many games can do that??)
      CIG are trying to push the envelope and create something truly unique and ground-breaking. Yes it’s taking a while, and it probably won’t be perfect, but we should all be rooting for them to succeed, not hating on them because “shooting is janky” (in an alpha product) or because they missed a loosely defined target date, which every darn gaming (or otherwise) project in the entire human history has done.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I’m not hating on SC. I have money ready to spend if Squadron 42 is ever released, and if it’s good (I have no interest in the MMO side of the project).

        I’m just disappointed in the feature creep that has put the thing I care about — climbing into a cockpit — further and further away because FPS nonsense is now part of the game, meeting people in bars is now part of the game, and all the rest. I have plenty of other good FPS games to play. Not so many flying a spaceship.

        All the talk about creating a living universe sounds great, but I think they lost the plot once the big money started rolling in.

  7. S Jay says:

    That’s exactly what happened when DayZ development stagnated and died for ever being an unpolished, buggy and unfinished truckload of great ambitions.

  8. JNB says:

    “Spokenly”?

  9. Arglebargle says:

    If you don’t turn off the money spigot, you’ll never get a real game out of Chris Roberts. He’ll always come up with something more that needs to go into the game. And delays it another six months.

    He’s a Miles Gloriosus, with a strong helping of hubris. Not nearly the genius he and his excessive fans think he is.

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