- Star Citizen is a space MMO, crowdfunded project that has accumulated over $600 million and has been in development for over a decade now with no release date in sight.
- Although the Alpha has some interesting points, the game’s development hell has attracted a ton of controversies over the years.
- Several possible reasons can be attributed to this delay, which includes a lack of initial staff, Engine troubles, the ever-growing scope of the project, and the insane end product the developers promise.
- Over the years, Star Citizen has accumulated insanely high expectations, and the more time it takes, the higher fans’ demands and expectations will go.
The fantasy to go out and explore the vast expanses of space; I’m sure you’ve dreamed of it some time too. And what better way to do it but rely on video games to fulfill our imaginations? A major part of Starfield‘s appeal was this point. But before there was Starfield, there was Star Citizen to raise our hopes for an authentic and appealing space exploration adventure.
However, while Starfield became a reality, there is still no sign of Star Citizen. The game is available in its alpha state with limited features, but we have no release date for the full version yet, and apparently, the development is in quite a troubled state. From what little it has displayed, the game shows considerable potential and I just can’t wait to experience it in its entirety. It has been in production for over a decade, and I hope it’s here sooner.
Star Citizen Is An Otherwise Impressive Space Adventure
When Star Citizen was first announced back in 2012, it felt like an undertaking of a massive scale, and over the years it has only grown bigger. After Starfield’s release, a comparison is drawn between the two, but there is a fundamental difference. While Starfield is more of an RPG, Star Citizen is a space simulator where you’re living the space life and the game focuses more on the simulation aspect.
Since the game is still in the alpha stage, we can’t say for sure how the final product will turn out to be, but from what we know so far, the game has multiple gameplay modes. Overall a space MMO, these modes each have a unique gameplay element. The Hangar module is the core of the spaceship simulation. Here, you can purchase, customize, decorate, and interact with your spaceship.
For gameplay purposes, you have the Arena Commander and Star Marine modes. Arena Commander is where you can engage in heated spaceship battles, while Star Marine gives the combat a more personal touch, with ground combat as your character. And to sum it all up, the Persistent Universe mode is present which is all of these modes in a proper gameplay rotation where you’re thrown into the open world.
The game is pretty massive as it is, but we’ve been promised an insanely gigantic world in the final release. We can expect the expansion and refinement of these game modes, and a ton of more content in the base game. Star Citizen is shaping up to be one of the most creative and diverse space adventures, but the critical question remains, When is the game going to release?
The Highly Ambitious Project Is Riddled With Controversies
For a game that’s been in development hell for over a decade, it was bound to attract some controversies, and Star Citizen has a ton of them. The most important is related to the game’s funding. Star Citizen was a crowdfunding project first initiated in 2012. Considering the fascinating nature of the idea, people backed it up like crazy and it grew to gigantic proportions.
So far, Star Citizen’s crowdfunding has raised more than $600 million, yet the game still has no release date, which is a critical problem. People have started to question the authenticity of the project, will it ever be released? Since fans spent a lot of money on it, they wish to know if it will ever bear fruit. After a delay this big, people have even started speculating the possibility of a scam, I sure hope that’s not the case.
Still, a development time of over a decade surely raises some concerns. It’s not like there’s a lack of funds, the game has $600 million to utilize, yet why is it taking so long? It also leads to the speculations of whether the funds are being utilized appropriately for the project. Problems like these are quite sensitive as they can lead to legal issues. And on top of that, the alpha also has micro-transactions and pay-to-win mechanics. Quite odd for a game that’s not even released and has a lot of funds to demand even more.
Similarly, since Star Citizen aims to provide an authentic space life and incorporates spaceship selling and dealership, it also attracted a nasty crowd and grey market tactics emerged. Though the middle-man scenario has now been eliminated, it was still a valid concern of the players. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the highly ambitious project was the center of a lot more controversies over the years. At this point, I just hope it safely and genuinely reaches completion.
Why Hasn’t Star Citizen Released Yet?
So what exactly is the problem that’s stopping Star Citizen from releasing? There are multiple factors to consider here. Firstly, when the project started back in 2012, Cloud Imperium Games was a tiny studio with only a handful of employees. Take a look at this chart from CIG. It took the studio a considerable time to gather a sizable number, and thus, assumably it also took some time before appreciable progress on the project started.
The second was the unavailability of a suitable engine. CIG had to rely on the CryEngine to begin, and this also ties into the third problem; the expanded scope of things. Star Citizen was nothing like what it is today. Take a look at this initial pitch to get an idea. Over time, the expectations and demands of backers grew, and CIG reciprocated those demands since they were getting appropriate funding. This led to Star Citizen becoming a monstrous project.
CryEngine was no longer suitable to accommodate it, and thus they had to rebuild the entire engine with 64-bit positioning, according to Sean Tracy. Completely revamping an engine is easier said than done. CIG had to rely on taking in ex-Crytek employees to better work with an engine they were completely unfamiliar with and make it compatible with the game. And on top of that, the developers had problems like the Crytek lawsuit to worry about, too.
This links to the next problem; features becoming obsolete due to long development time. As I mentioned the game slowly grew too big for CryEngine to handle, but even with established assets, aging became a strong factor. Since the Alpha was opened to the public and is still ongoing, features and mechanics from let’s say 6-7 years ago would not be up to the modern mark, and thus have to continuously improve on top of completing the final product.
Last but probably the most important is the stuff that CIG plans to do seems like an impossibility in itself. It’s something that hasn’t been done before, so there is nothing that can aid its completion. A server mesh that simultaneously superimposes players and spaceships from all around the world seems like an impossibility, yet CIG claims to do so. I think no engine would be capable of supporting that, let alone CryEngine. On top of that, the engine had to be switched to Lumberyard mid-development, another obstacle.
With Passing Time, Expectations For Star Citizen Are Only Going To Soar
This is a very critical factor that Cloud Imperium Games need to consider. Star Citizen has continued to build up hype ever since its announcement back in 2012. And with a project of this scale, promises of even more greatness, and a development cost possibly exceeding $600 million, people are forced to believe it is a project of some insane qualities, and there lies the problem.
Take a look at Starfield for example. Although there wasn’t that much time frame, people had created unrealistic expectations for the game, in part due to Bethesda’s continuous marketing and hype. Because of these impossible images, when the final product was not according to their vision, people were considerably disappointed with it. No matter what you do, you can’t satisfy everyone, and unrealistic expectations can kill a game.
Star Citizen promises a world of an incredibly vast scale and seamless space-to-planet travel, unlike Starfield. How will that be accomplished? Will it use procedural generation for its insanely massive world? Starfield did that and people found it to be quite repetitive. And Star Citizen has been in development for over a decade, I’m sure even the slightest of mistakes would be criticized for such a huge creation time.
That is why it’s imperative for Star Citizen to at least consider issuing a release date. People are growing anxious after spending this much on it, and simultaneously the expectations for the game are also rising to unrealistic levels. The more time it takes, the more difficult it will become to please the audience. And we know after a development hell of this long, the game is either an unrivaled masterpiece or a complete and utter mess. And I sincerely hope Star Citizen is the former.
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