Star Citizen – Flight of Fancy

Star Citizen is the undisputed king of crowdfunded games, an enterprise of galactic proportions that has everything to go horribly wrong. Cloud Imperium Games’ ambitious project boasts an epic scale that makes other far-reaching games look like a tiny speck of dust in comparison. It’s an endless feature creep that still lacks a release date, despite being in development since 2011 and having raised nearly $300 million so far.

Chris Roberts has the creation of the Wing Commander series to his credit, giving him an authority that very few video game designers can brag about. He is clearly passionate about Star Citizen and has an unwavering vision and a grand scope that plays in his advantage, as much as it is encumbering the game’s progress with stories of endless micro-management. Star Citizen is the greatest game that may never see the light of day.

But we are getting closer to… well, something, and the proof of that is the Free Fly event where anyone could try the Star Citizen Alpha 3.5 and see for themselves how this space epic is shaping up. Spoilers: it’s buggy, the system requirements are sky high and clearly there is an irrational amount of work yet to be done, but I’ll be damned if Star Citizen doesn’t make you feel like a space cowboy in the greatest sci-fi universe ever designed for a video game.

If it will ever be finished – as much as any online game can be –, that is another subject entirely.

Star Citizen Preview Ship Exterior

In Space No One Can Hear You Blow Up

Star Citizen stands out from the crowd as soon as you click the shortcut; this is an absolute resource hog that will make Crysis and Doom 3 feel like the most optimized games ever at launch. After several minutes of loading to reach the main menu and several minutes more to deploy at the space station, you suddenly come to the realization that backing this game wasn’t enough – maybe the time has come to upgrade your computer. However, that isn’t enough to hide the fact that Star Citizen needs some serious optimization, or it will be roasted by a community that isn’t solely comprised of players with high spec computers.

The Free Fly Alpha 3.5 offers three different ventures into Star Citizen, and that goes without mentioning the stand-alone star-studded single-player adventure Squadron 42, which is slated to launch in 2020. You can go for the full Universe experience or taste some more immediate action-oriented tidbits via the Star Marine and the Arena Commander modules, with the former for first-person shooter gameplay and the latter for epic space dogfights or races.

Star Marine is the module to go if competitive shooters are your thing. It’s intense and visually impressive, with little touches like your heart rate playing an important part – let’s call it stamina –, but you’ve played many shooters before that feel similar. It’s a solid effort that for now offers a scant selection of game modes, Elimination (free-for-all where the player with the highest kill count wins) and Last Stand (battle for control points). Up to 24 players may enter the arena and you can customize your loadout with weapons, armor and utility items such as MedPens and grenades.

Star Citizen Preview Star Marine Last Stand

Arena Commander offers a similar approach to Star Marine but takes the fight to deep space. This is more uncommon, as there aren’t many games with the looks and sheer maneuverability of Star Citizen’s ships. You will not only be impressed by the amazing views, but the exhilarating dogfighting also comes out strongly commended, shooting other ships while carefully dodging asteroids. It takes a deep knowledge of each ship’s strengths and failings to make the best of every situation, but this obviously is a task that takes a fair length of time.

There is more to Arena Commander than dogfighting, as you take the seat of your ship and race other players through the gigantic rings of a space station, with a beautiful forest on the surface of the planet. Or you can relish on the delights of leisure flight, going to space stations and purely enjoying your time. But if you are of the truly competitive kind and prefer a Battle Royale mode of sorts, Star Citizen has got you covered. Squadron Battle is team deathmatch at its heart, while Vanduul Swarm and Pirate Swarm are both about holding off enemy onslaughts.

While Star Citizen has this everything-for-everyone approach right off the bat, this is a game that is more than the sum of its parts, at least in theory. The mere thought of a game that mixes elements from its modules with a persistent universe where you can be whoever you want, go where you feel like and act as you want is mouth-watering, thrilling and, quite honestly, hard to believe. Seeing is believing won’t cut it in this case; what Star Citizen has to offer right now may feel ambitious and grand, but promises were made about a magnificent scope that is light years away from its current state.

Star Citizen Preview Character Customization

Lost in Stanton

Star Citizen recently saw the addition of female characters, with the visual quality being sky-high – human eyes are universally acknowledged as one of the most difficult features to faithfully reproduce in video games, but the result here is mind-blowing. I can’t say the same for hair, though, which still seems to be a work-in-progress and is particularly lacking on proper female styles. The DNA system is another new feature and raises the level of a character customization system that is trying something new. Instead of using the classic sliders to adjust every facial feature of your avatar, you choose up to three source heads to combine and slightly adjust their traits in a way that should never return a freaking abomination as an option. No offense, Fallout 4.

And now you ask: why should I bother spending two or three hours creating a stunning face for my space hero if it will be covered by a helmet? Well, because you can remove it in space stations, and your lovely face is visible in some helmets anyway, so your work won’t go to waste. The current iteration of Star Citizen’s character customization doesn’t offer any body customization options, but this is on the to-do list. Just don’t ask us when it will make it into the game, because… well, it’s Star Citizen.

My Free Fly adventure begins as soon as I get up from my bed in Port Olisar, a space station in the Stanton Star System. This place is just a tiny dot in a vast universe, as Cloud Imperium Games promised that 100 unique star systems would make it into the game, and there is a star map to prove it. However, Chris Roberts himself said that players should expect between five to ten star systems with the core mechanics in place, something that sounds more reasonable considering the scope of each one and the amount of time and resources that this endeavor demands from the team.

Star Citizen Preview Shiny Armor

Moving through the space station, I can try on and purchase new Undersuits using the UEC currency. I can’t get anything too fancy, but it’s always nice to change from your base costume. After that I ran to the ship retrieval terminal where I spawn my spacecraft – the Free Fly demo had five on offer, some more suited to combat, others for delivery or racing: Anvil Arrow, MISC Prospector, Drake Cutlass Black, Aegis Avenger Titan and Drake Dragonfly. As soon as your ship reaches the landing pad, make sure to hurry up as you may be occupying valuable space for other players’ ships.

Before heading off to the designed landing pad, it’s important to check your MobiGlas, Star Citizen’s version of Fallout’s Pip-Boy. This device includes vital information for all the needs of a regular space hero, bounty hunter or galaxy courier, whoever you want to be. You can use it to track all your details such as current balance, vitals, atmosphere, suit, vehicle and mission status. But there is much more to it, including managing your equipment, chat with other players, set travel routes or accept contracts. This last one is what makes any Star Citizen adventurer tick, ultimately defining where you need to travel and what type of missions you get to tackle. You can pick some simple delivery jobs, which can go awry at any moment, or you can opt for maintenance, bounty hunter or mercenary contracts.

I didn’t have much luck with my first contract, which consisted in picking up a package from an outpost on Cellin and delivering it to an aid shelter on the same planet. But it wasn’t a matter of space pirates, fuel usage miscalculation or poor piloting skills; no, it was a bug of interplanetary proportions that reared its ugly face in the shape of a non-existing package. How am I expected to deliver something that isn’t available in the precise place where I was told to pick it up?

As it turns out, this is a bug that was previously reported and still needs fixing. Star Citizen has bugs, who would have thought? But it gets worse, with planet surfaces or space stations that fail to render, ships that explode out of nowhere, landings that will give you severe headaches, random crashes… the galaxy is dark and full of bugs.

Star Citizen Preview ArcCorp Arrival

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Boarding Your Ship

Much has been said before about Star Citizen’s ships, not all of it praiseworthy. Before jumping into the controversial details I’ll take a quick ride through some of the details and highpoints of these ambitious spacecrafts.

Ships come in all shapes and sizes, often turning a simple task such as entering and getting to the pilot seat into an adventure. You must discover where the ship door is, if there is a ladder to activate, whatever possible means are there to get on board. It’s not an obvious task at first but you’ll soon get the hang of it as you become acquainted with each ship. Once inside, you have a few accommodations at your disposal, usually including a bed which is said to serve as a safe log off/log in feature, but this mechanic seems to be broken at the moment.

Larger ships have one-man turrets, vast cargo space, co-pilot seats and more. When you’re finally seated at the cockpit, your jaw may eventually drop as you look at several fully-functioning displays and feel flabbergasted at what you’re experiencing. It’s a mix of awe and concern, but far from the complex, unintelligible design that the first impression may let on. You only need to find the switches for the basic functions such as powering up the ship, turning the engine on and you should be clear for takeoff.

Star Citizen is a hot topic when it comes to its spacecraft and the asking prices for some of them, with many ships costing over $100 and a few select spacecraft retailing for more than $1,000. While this may sound bonkers and a huge leap of faith for some backers, I absolutely respect the amount of work and character that goes into each ship. It’s a colossal endeavor in some cases, and it feels acceptable if you have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket and absolute faith in the vision driving Star Citizen. It’s a trophy for backers to proudly display and it’s far from your traditional overpriced piece of armor, or perhaps your useless set of horse armor. It’s a matter of how much you’re willing to spend on Star Citizen and your confidence in the future of the project.

Star Citizen Preview Drake Cutlass Black Ship

Ship insurance is another controversial subject, as you must pay an in-game fee in order to avoid losing your ship for good – that surely won’t be fun if you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on it. While a few initial backers were rewarded with lifetime insurance, the most likely scenario is that you’ll have to pay a regular fee to get a replacement ship in case it is destroyed – and believe me, it will, either by mistake, space pirates, planetary storms, unfriendly players, fuel loss and other hazards. During the alpha there was no insurance fee, but when it comes into play it will surely make quite some noise, and probably not the good kind.

It’s impossible to go places in a single star system such as Stanton without resorting to Quantum Travel. This is how you navigate the vast space between each planet or outpost, and even a Quantum Jump may take several minutes, as you’ll realize when you decide to travel to ArcCorp, an impressive new planet mostly covered by man-made structures. Quantum Travel is a simple matter of finding your destination on your MobiGlas, setting up the route (and checking if you have enough fuel for the entire ride) and align your markers with the jump location. After spooling you should see your ship bending space and time as it travels to the destination. It’s a simple process that you’ll have to resort very often.

Star Citizen looks stunning and is brimming with details, a lot of them not entirely obvious at first glance. A simple task such as landing on ArcCorp becomes a challenge when you failed to realize that you need to access your MobiGlas and request landing permission to the ArcCorp Landing Services. You’ll then be assigned a landing pad which you may or may not have a hard time finding, carefully avoiding the deluge of invisible walls on this planet. After a tricky landing you are finally able to explore the area, travel to other regions using the tram and fulfill some of your contracts. ArcCorp surely is a wonderful sight from the skies, but it is also a clear indication of the unmeasured ambition that fuels Star Citizen – most of the buildings will surely be just for show, and it couldn’t be otherwise, as there are dozens of other star systems waiting to be created.

Star Citizen Preview ArcCorp Third Person

I have mixed feelings about Star Citizen. It clearly isn’t a hoax, vaporware or whatever wicked words have been uttered about it. On the other hand, despite a feeling of grandeur, it’s far from the game that it wants to be, even after all these years of development and all those millions in crowdfunding. In a perfect world, Star Citizen would turn out to be the ultimate space epic game, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. What this alpha showed us was that it is a jaw-dropping, feature-rich game that is equally frustrating and buggy.

I have no doubts that Star Citizen is trying to reach for the skies and will probably fall on its face when it launches. Because it will never be “officially released”, it will be stuck in a perpetual state of continuous development, a “game as a service” that will require huge amounts of money and a skilled development team to rise to the inevitable challenges. Star Citizen is No Man’s Sky turned up to eleven, boasting a much larger scope and a lot more controversy stemming from Chris Roberts’ unwavering vision – hopefully with the same happy ending as Hello Games’ once disappointing science-fiction epic.

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Star Citizen Adds American Sign Language Emotes

To be more inclusive Star Citizen adds American Sign Language emotes to the game. It is quite possibly the first game to ever have ASL in it as a prominent feature. The language is used primarily in North America though it is also widely used in West Africa and some South Asian countries. In a developer video, Star Citizen’s Animation Director Steve Bender said: “We have a lot of community members who are hard of hearing or maybe deaf and they don’t interact with the game in the same way that someone who hears voice would do so.” He then later adds, “I’m really happy for the community to have this opportunity to be able to roleplay and to express themselves in the way that they see fit.”

This is indeed a wonderful step forward for accessibility in video games, something the industry has always struggled with, particularly for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The exact number of American Sign Language users has never been calculated, so it isn’t clear exactly how many people will benefit from this feature. The most recent estimate puts ASL users at about 500,000 in the United States, but that was in 1972. That number would now be wildly different. However, as it will be available for all to use it will help hearing gamers learn to communicate in another language and perhaps open them up to opportunities to use it in the real world. Of course, this isn’t applicable in Europe where a number of different sign languages are in use.

If nothing else there are legions of deaf gamers out there who are suddenly taking a new look at Star Citizen and that’s nothing but good news for the studio behind it.

 

Source: Gamasutra

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Where Are they Now: Crowdfunded MMOs in 2019

There have been a lot of crowdfunded MMOs throughout the years and keeping track of them all can be somewhat daunting. That’s why from time to time we like to check in with those games and see how they’re doing. This is a look at 11 crowdfunded MMOs and where they are now.

 

Ashes of Creation

Ashes of Creation

Crowdfunded: May 2017

In 2018 Ashes of Creation became two different projects. There’s the main MMORPG, but they also now have a Battle Royale game which is currently the focus of beta testing. Last year they also announced that My.com would be publishing Ashes of Creation in Europe. This move was met with a lot of concern from fans. There was also a bit of controversy on the Ashes of Creation subreddit, where the CEO amongs other developers took control of the subreddit. This resulted in the concern that censorship would be a major problem for the group. Even after they got a new community manager the CEO continued to be a mod, which was, of course, an unpopular move.

 

Camelot Unchained

Camelot Unchained

Crowdfunded: April 2013

After 6 years you would be forgiven if you had forgotten Camelot Unchained.  For diehard fans, the developers give weekly updates on how development is going. They cover topics ranging from rubble animation to moss covered ground assets. It wasn’t until mid-2018 that the game finally hit the Beta 1 phase and while they are currently saying it will launch in 2019, previous delays make that seem unlikely.

 

Chronicles of Elyria

Crowdfunded: May 2016

File Chronicles of Elyria under “the campaign was HOW long ago?!” We can’t believe that we’re already approaching 3 years since we first started talking about Chronicles of Elyria and its idea of your character aging as you play. All in all, the game seems to have lost sight of where and what it is though. Their end of the year blog post was more community focused than anything else. They talked about various community events that they have going on and really didn’t talk about the game that much at all. Right now it just doesn’t look great for the game.

 

City of Titans

City of Titans

Crowdfunded: October 2013

Late in December 2018, City of Titans announced that it would be pushing Issue 0 launch into 2019. At that point with just a little over a week left in the year, that seemed pretty obvious though. Throughout 2018 they updated fans about the game, including the announcement that they would not use lockboxes in their business model. It seems that the indie development team had a bit of a rough year, which has resulted in them being behind but wanting to remind people that they are still around.

 

Crowfall

Crowdfunded: February 2015

Development on Crowfall is still trucking along. They launched patch 5.8 in mid-December. Earlier in the year they also reached the 50,000 backer milestone, but there isn’t a whole lot more to say about the game right now. The developers are still working hard and official campaign testing has begun.

 

Dual Universe

Crowdfunded: September 2016

Right at the end of 2018 Dual Universe moved into alpha testing. They also released a roadmap that gives them a launch date in the second half of 2020. They’re anticipating moving into alpha 2 sometime in the first half of 2019. That will be followed by alpha 3 which will contain PvP. Then in the first half of 2020, they’ll have a much larger beta before they launch, and funds have been secured that allowed them to hire more developers. So it’s all good new for Dual Universe fans!

 

Ever, Jane

Ever, Jane

Crowdfunded: October 2013

We’ll admit, things aren’t looking great for Ever, Jane. The development team doesn’t make updates on their official site much and the forums are looking a bit abandoned. The game went into closed beta in 2015, in 2016 it went into open beta, and that is where it has been ever since. In early 2018 they gave the website and forums an overhaul but it was a really quiet year for the game. The only real newsworthy story was the introduction of a personal butler.

 

Novus AEterno, aka Hades 9

Crowdfunded: December 2013

Unfortunately, Novus AEterno, which then became Hades 9, seems to have been abandoned. There haven’t been any updates on the game since the middle of 2018. This usually only means one of two things.
1. They got a new publisher and are going to wow us with a big surprise reveal in the future.
2. The developers have moved on.

Sadly, most of the time the second is the case. After they lost their funding for Novus AEterno the development team decided to make some changes and create Hades 9 instead. That game never really went anywhere though. So, even though we’ve been following Novus AEterno since it was one kid’s dream being presented at Gamescom we’re going to officially call this game dead.

 

Pathfinder Online

Crowdfunded: November 2012

Life has never been certain for Pathfinder Online. It has already crashed and burned once but then, much to everyone’s surprise, it came back. While the development of the game is still slowly trucking along its legs seem to be pretty unsteady under it. Those of us at MMOGames would certainly say that Pathfinder Online’s future is…uncertain at best.

 

Star Citizen

Crowdfunded: Constantly since October 2012

At this point, most of what people are talking about around Star Citizen is the money. So far it has raised more than $200 million from fans. With that being said, we did see a lot of development in 2018 on the game. The game is currently in alpha 3.4 and just like other games, they make regular updates. Throughout 2019 their road plan has them getting up to alpha 3.6

 

Temtem

Crowdfunded: May 2018

We wanted to end this article on a high note. Temtem launched its backer alpha at the end of November 2018. That may just be the best example of sticking to the timeline of any crowdfunded MMO. Things are looking very bright for Temtem right now, especially as Pokemon as a brand is enjoying more popularity than it has in a long time. That’s sure to spill over to the adorable Temtem.

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Star Citizen Developer Valued at Nearly Half A Billion Dollars

Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games is now worth nearly half a billion dollars. This news comes after they recently raised $46 million from a private investment which brings them up to $496 million in value for the company.

The new investment comes from a father and son team Clive and Keith Calder and the company has told Variety that the money will be used to create a marketing war chest for the 2020 release of Squadron 42. The deal has given the two Calders an approximately 10% share of the company. Two new people have also been added to the board. Dan Offner, who is the Calder’s nominee, and Eli Klein, who has served as an advisor to the company.

In an interview with Variety, Chris Roberts explained that the reason they went looking for an outside investor is that he wasn’t happy using crowdfunded money for marketing Squadron 42. That left the option of going public, selling the company, or working with an outside publisher. None of these options were really what Roberts wanted so he went looking somewhere else.

So who are the two who invested another $46 million in a game that has the industry so divided? Clive Calder is a billionaire known for co-founding the Zomba Music Group, a massive name in the music industry. Meanwhile, his son Keith Calder is an indie film director who is best known for All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Wackness.

This investment and the announcement of the value of the company is sure to stir up conversation about the studio all across the internet once again. Opinions on  Star Citizen and Cloud Imperium Games could not be more divided and people on both sides have very strong feelings on the matter. In fact, even opinion in the MMOGames office is split.

 

Source: Variety

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MMO Money: Star Citizen Reaches $200 Million Milestone

This week we have a few last third quarter reports to take a look at. This time for NetEase, who is currently in the public’s eye for their work on Diablo Immortal and Tencent who have been having a terrible year as far as their gaming division goes. Star Citizen also reached an all new fundraising milestone, which was received about as well as you might expect. Finally, just a week after DayZ went into beta they reached a milestone of their own.

 

Star Citizen Reaches $200 Million Milestone

This was the week that Star Citizen reached $200 million fundraised for their game. As you might expect though it wasn’t all celebrations. In a letter to the fans, Chris Roberts said that there are supporters from 171 different countries stretching from one end of the globe to the other. He also talks about how far the company has come in the last 6 years, in particular growing from just a handful of staff to more than 500 employees in 3 countries. The letter also goes into some detail about the future, talking about a new alpha build that is coming up and plans for a Squadron 42 roadmap.

However, on Reddit, and indeed across the internet this proved to be the perfect time for those who have issues with Star Citizen to speak out. For all the money that Star Citizen has continued to bring in, there have been a lot of issues and concerns that the studio isn’t going to deliver on the promised game. As time goes on the voice of discontent grows louder causing even more of a rift between those who still have high hopes for the game and those who have given up all hope.

 

Source: Roberts Space Industries, Reddit

 

Tencent Gaming Revenue Continues to Decline

Tencent mobile financials - MMOGames.com - Your source for MMOs & MMORPGs

If you don’t already know, there is much more to Tencent than just making games. In fact, in China, they are a massive multi-armed internet company that has music services, social media companies, e-commerce, and even movies. Warcraft, Wonder Woman, and Venom are just a few titles they’ve done that you might have heard of. Unfortunately, while the company as a whole is doing amazingly, revenue is up 24% year on year, the gaming division is still taking a massive hit. Online gaming revenue is down 4% in Q3, much of that decline is from the PC sector. Mobile gaming, however, has seen a bit of a boost which did offset some of the damages. This seems to suggest that gamers are moving away from PC gaming into mobile.

During the quarterly report to investors, Tencent didn’t mention the freeze on game licenses in China. Instead, they focused on the fact that they released 10 games last quarter and they have 15 approved for monetization in the works. This should give them a bit of a boost as they do still have a bit to work with. The company may actually be able to weather this storm after all. But, so long as the news from the Chinese government continues to be grim Tencent’s gaming division will keep feeling the pain.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

DayZ Sells 4 Million Units

DayZ3

Just a week after transitioning into beta testing Bohemia Interactive have announced that DayZ has sold 4 million units. The game has been playable in Early Access since December 2013. By January 2015 it had reached the 3 million user mark. Meaning that it took nearly 4 years to get another million on top of that. In that time, of course, the industry has gone through quite a lot of changes. Most notably is the rise of the Battle Royale genre which has spawned some of the most popular games in the world. Meanwhile, the zombie survival genre, which DayZ helped usher in is barely a faint memory at this point. A number of games inspired by DayZ were released which then spawned other survival games like Ark: Survival Evolved and Conan Exiles. These days DayZ has acknowledged that they are a niche game for a niche audience and they aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. They’ve also announced that they fully intend to stick to their 2018 launch date, which means they have just over a month left to go. When the game does finally launch it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to see a small boost in purchases. But at this point, it seems likely that anyone who was going to buy the game has already done so and launching is merely a formality. Development will continue on the game well past launch as the studio continues to tweak the game to meet their goals.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

NetEase Quarterly Sees Growth

Diablo Immortal

Things are looking good for NetEase in the third quarter report with net revenue up, mobile gaming up, and success in their endeavors to bring Western games to China. Net Revenue is up for the company 35.1% year on year, bringing it up to 16.9 billion yuan, $2.5 billion USD. Of that online gaming accounted for $1.5 billion which is up 27.6% year on year. In Q3 the company released a number of quite successful mobile games. They also launched World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth in China which saw the number of subscribers and the revenue go up. They aren’t likely to feel any backlash from Diablo Immortals until Q4. Though the expected backlash financially isn’t expected to be nearly as bad as the outcry about the game would suggest. Minecraft in China got another 50 million players between the Q2 and Q3 reports. During the report, they talked about the global audience and how it has benefited them.

“Additionally, we have taken a more global view of our online games business. As a result, our international expansion, took another leap forward this quarter, contributing more than 10 percent of total online game net revenues for the first time in our company’s history. We are also very excited about our collaboration with Blizzard to bring one of their biggest games to mobile players, increasing our visibility and expanding our foothold in the global online games market.”

 

Source: Quarterly Report

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Star Citizen Announces a Week of Free Flying

You’d think the anniversary of being in alpha isn’t something to crow about, but then you’re not Star Citizen. Despite how you feel about the space sandbox’s dev cycle and monetization practices, however, you might be interested in learning about a Star Citizen free play event, which marks the game’s anniversary and the release of its latest planet while also opening up a significant number of vehicles to everyone.

star citizen free play event

From November 23 to December 1, everyone can hop into Star Citizen’s persistent universe module and putter about whether they’re a backer or not. Over the course of the week, every ship and vehicle that can be commandeered in-game will be on offer, with a different array of vehicles being made available every 24 hours.

The announcement also teases that those who make their way to the new planet Hurston and its city of Lorville could find “some surprises in store.” There’s also hints about some form of interactive activities being shared on the game’s website.

Speaking of the game’s website, be sure to head over there to learn what ships will be available when.

Our Thoughts

Assuming your PC can handle even looking at Star Citizen, now seems about as good a time as any to experience first-hand whether this in-development sandbox is worth all the hubbub or hate. After all, you really can’t rib it without experiencing it.

Source: official site

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Star Citizen Launches Alpha 3.3 and New Squadron 42 Trailer

This year’s CitizenCon had plenty of new shiny things to reveal for Star Citizen devotees. Among them were the features of Star Citizen alpha 3.3 and a star-studded new cinematic trailer for the single-player Squadron 42.

star citizen alpha 3.3

Alpha 3.3 is due to launch to backers today, bringing several features like the addition of enemy AI during FPS sections in the Stanton system and improvements to object streaming, which is said to bring a 100% improvement to the game’s framerate.

The new alpha build has also included a facial recognition feature that uses your webcam to map your face and animate your in-game avatar in real time, letting your avatar mimic your mouth as you speak and broadcast whatever odd facial expressions you wish to convey.

With the launch of 3.3 also comes a number of new ships that can be bought and flown in the latest test build. These range in price from the $30 Mustang Vindicator fighter to the $725 Aegis Hammerhead heavy attack vessel. For those wondering when you’ll be able to get these ships without cracking into your retirement fund, the devs have said that progress on an in-game economy is being made.

Finally, the latest Squadron 42 trailer has debuted with a suitably vague yet cinematic look at the single-player campaign’s story beats. The trailer also features a number of top-tier acting talent such as Mark Hammill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson and Henry Cavill. That trailer can be seen below.

Our Thoughts

All things considered, we really could do without the face mapping avatar tech, especially if dropping development of that feature would mean that time is spent releasing the full game. Really, though, that’s more assumption than anything and we’re glad to see that Star Citizen is making some strides forward regardless.

Sources: VG247, YouTube

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Star Citizen Backpedals on CitizenCon Livestream Paywall Decision

Star Citizen‘s decision to lock the CitizenCon 2018 livestream behind a digital pass has been met with the fire and fury that only an internet mob seems capable of producing, and so Chris Roberts and CIG have decided to reel back their decision to lock the event’s keynote and closing presentation behind a digital ticket.

citizencon 2018 livestream

Chris Roberts made a rare personal appearance on the game’s official forums, both announcing the reversed decision and explaining why it was made in the first place. According to him, the choice to require a digital pass wasn’t marketing’s idea; it was his.

So what’s the deal? It ultimately comes down to money, according to Roberts.

“I felt if we were bothering to put these panels on with all our top developers we should record all of it for the community to see. And if we were recording all of it then couldn’t we also stream it all for the community members that were interested? And since we constantly get criticized for our home-brew approach to videography and streaming, let’s bring in a specialist company that can handle multiple simultaneous stages, cameras and streams.”

This line of thinking, combined with the additional costs of holding this new larger CitizenCon, meant that a way to be “fiscally responsible” had to be devised, and since subscriber revenue already covers the cost of community content and events, the digital pass idea was born.

That said, the outcry has been heard, and the opening keynote and closing will be available for all Star Citizen accounts. “What we didn’t anticipate is how dearly some of you value watching the main CitizenCon presentation live,” Roberts admitted.

Our Thoughts

…um….duh, guys.

Source: official forums

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Star Citizen Backer Loses in Small Claims Court to RSI

A backer of Star Citizen who sought to see their $4500 refunded after losing faith in the project has officially lost their case. The RSI small claims lawsuit was tossed out by the presiding judge, moving the matter to arbitration in spite of the fact that the backer in question offered their fiscal support before the company changed their terms of service.

rsi small claims lawsuit

Redditor firefly212 reported in from LAX airport in Los Angeles, California with the result of their June filing, which saw RSI/CIG successfully argue that the arbitration clause should be applied to their transaction. The judge hearing the case would not listen to arguments about whether the ToS change was conscionable, nor would they rule about RSI’s argument that the game was playable and therefore earned its funding.

According to firefly212, RSI will not be refunding the portion of their money not covered in arbitration.

“I would like to thank all of you who have given helpful advice or offered words of encouragement,” wrote firefly212. “Though I lost today, I don’t want to come off as salty… I asked the court to answer some questions, and I got some answers.”

Our Thoughts

While we’re certainly glad that this backer got some answers out of the matter – even though they didn’t get back their money – we still have to worry about what sort of legal precedent this might set for those who lose faith in Star Citizen and wish to back out. Of course, this is the risk one assumes when it comes to backing a Kickstarter project…but one does have to wonder where risk assumption ends and consumer protection begins.

Source: Reddit via Massively Overpowered

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Glassdoor Review of Cloud Imperium Confirmed as a Fake

Those following the development of Star Citizen have likely already heard a bit about a Cloud Imperium Glassdoor review presumably posted by former senior physics programmer John Pritchett taking management to task for the sandbox MMO’s scope. Well, the real Mr. Pritchett has stood up and said the review is a fake.

star citizen glassdoor review

According to the review, which is still live at the time of this writing, Pritchett suggested to management that the team is stretching itself too thin:

“The scope of the project needs to be massively reigned in, and realistic expectations of what will actually be delivered in the next decade or two need to be communicated honestly and clearly to the community supporting the business. There’s no point wasting huge amounts of money, time and resources (+ community goodwill) hiring top-end specialists and starting projects when you don’t even know what you want the finished product to look like or if it’s even technically feasible.”

Mr. Pritchett repudiated the review in question, stating that he had already flagged it with the site but also wanted to personally address the matter. Pritchett seemed to particularly take difference with the segment of the review that said his systems – and by extension, himself – had been made obsolete.

“Any game in alpha is always evolving, and any system as critical as the flight model is therefore also evolving,” wrote Pritchett. “Had I remained with CIG, it would have continued to evolve, and it will certainly evolve without me. Very little from the review reflects my personal experience.”

Our Thoughts

…wow, pretty depressing that someone would go all this way to try to sling mud at Star Citizen. Some folks just REALLY don’t wanna see a game get developed. Even if Star Citizen’s cook time is an exceedingly long one, that doesn’t really excuse one from putting on a fake identity and trying to screw over the studio. Just yell into the void of Reddit instead. At least there you’ll get some thumbs up and feel better about yourself.

Sources: Facebook and Glassdoor via Massively Overpowered

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