Eight years and a few hundreds of millions of dollars in crowdfunding into development, and Star Citizen's star-studded Squadron 42 campaign is still nowhere on our scanners. After plans for more regular updates seemed to fizzle out, Cloud Imperium today filed the paperwork to acquire planning permission to post an entirely new development roadmap for the revised roadmap they announced earlier this year.
The singleplayer portion of the multi-pronged Star Citizen package, Squadron 42 was pitched as a Wing Commander styled campaign with a heavyweight cast including Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman. Cloud Imperium initially envisioned it coming out in 2016 - but here we are, four years of release date pushbacks later, with no sign of a launch anytime soon.
Earlier this year, Cloud Imperium posted an update assuring backers that the team was looking at better ways to keep them update. The then-current roadmap wasn't working out, so the devs would be sharing more accurate progress updates drawn from their own production tools, alongside a series of "regular video check-ins" that'd be more slapdash and easier to pump out than their usual heavily-produced update vids.
Of course, that was in March - and as we approach August, it seems the Star Citizen forums are awash with threads asking where their updates are. This prompted a new statement from CIG, explaining that while the revised roadmap is still very much in the works, tracking its release will itself require a whole new roadmap (thanks, Kotaku).
"In the immediate future, we plan to deliver the following communications:
- Give an explanation of the goals of our new Roadmap and what to expect from it
- Show a rough mockup of the proposed new Roadmap
- Share a work in progress version of the Roadmap for at least one of our core teams
- And then finally transition to this new Roadmap"
The post also explains what happened to those "video check-ins", which appear to have suffered from a bloat endemic to so many parts of Star Citizen. Pitched as a semi-regular, lower-budget, easier to produce alternative to their usual update vids, the first run of "The Briefing Room" was reportedly somewhat underwhelming. Pushing up the quality meant creating new art assets, which then meant asking the team to capture new B-roll footage after normal, and then the production was pushed back further by key team-members falling ill and taking time off.
That first Briefing Room is likely still coming in a few weeks - though not as "scrappy" as once planned - along with a collection of other updates. Stage one of that four-step plan should also come into effect "pretty soon". But it's hard not to see the production issues around dev updates and a quickfire video as reflective of the problems with Squadron 42 (and Star Citizen) as a whole.
Last August, Eurogamer reported that Squadron 42's release date had been pushed back to Q3 2020. The way things stand, I wouldn't hold my breath on that holding out.