Man has always had a love affair with space. Even before modern Astronomy and the understanding of our own planet, let alone our solar system or galaxy; man has dreamt of venturing out into the stars. Video games have been obsessed with this idea since practically their conception. Gamers have wanted to go out and colonize space to fulfill that sci fi dream that plenty of people have had since they were children.
Chris Roberts has spent a large portion of his professional life dedicated to this idea, the commitment to bringing the colonization and exploration of space to the convenience of our home desktops. He released a game in 2003 called Freelancer, a game that basically revolves around traversing the galaxy, buy, selling and trading goods to make a profit. You would have to contend with opposing factions, and groups that were looking for profit off your hard work, like space pirates for instances.
"The game has already managed to get a lot of it’s contributors invested and I don’t mean just monetarily speaking. The forums are already full of people speculating on ship design, maneuverability and of course, what fighter may be the best."
After this game’s release, Mr. Roberts took a bit of a hiatus from game development, but in 2012 he came out of nowhere and decided to kick start a game idea he’d been thinking about. The premise did not vary too much from the original idea of Freelancer, yet with much more technology, new coding methods and a massive advancement in software and hardware Chris Roberts had almost a whole new medium to build the game he’s always dreamed about. This is how Star Citizen was born.
Star Citizen is being developed by Cloud Imperium Games, but if you’re to go to the Star Citizen home page, you’ll see the site plastered with RSI logos. The website isn’t actually called Star Citizen at all, but RobertsSpaceIndustries.com. Here is where some of the magic is currently being developed and one of the things that makes this game so interesting to follow. Cloud Imperium and the development team have spent a lot of time to make this website look like the face of a legitimate company whose speciality is, of course the design and manufacturing of high-tech interstellar space craft.
The website is full of automotive-like “commercials,” and things like customer testimonials as well as even in-depth threats of legal action made by RSI’s competition due to aggressive forms of advertising by the fictitious manufacturer . Cloud Imperium and Chris Roberts are trying very hard to create a deep and connected universe for the game they are working on.
"By this point, the game has been given over 35 million dollars. All of this has been given to the developers in support of this game, and is by far and away the most successfully funded, crowd sourced game that’s ever been developed."
In a lot of ways, people who are following the game or are active contributors to the site as well as the donors are already being exposed to this universe’s politics, products and of course the civilization more than a year before the game was even being scheduled for early access, let alone release. Contributors have the ability to look at ships and the specifications before they can even fly them, which brings us to our next point.
The game has already managed to get a lot of it’s contributors invested and I don’t mean just monetarily speaking. The forums are already full of people speculating on ship design, maneuverability and of course, what fighter may be the best. We’re already seeing the game’s population developing allegiances to ship manufacturers, weapons types and even other players who are planning on playing together with one another. Not only is this a great way to drum up support for your game title, it’s an even better way to keep players interested, especially since right now, the best case scenario we’re seeing from Cloud Imperium is that this game will be open for beta tested, at best in the end of 2014 and a release scheduled for sometime in 2015.
That’s a lot of time to wait and a lot of time for people to lose interest in the game, yet with a date that has anything playable so far in the future, the RSI website continues to show increased support for this title through public donation. By this point, the game has been given over 35 million dollars. All of this has been given to the developers in support of this game, and is by far and away the most successfully funded, crowd sourced game that’s ever been developed.
"In a market that some times seems like it is suffocating under it’s own reboots, sequels and “re-imaginings,” to many gamers it’s worth the risk in contributing money, or time to this project simply because it’s offering something new and different in a package that is almost too beautiful to be true."
When you take the time to look at what is being promised upon launch, there is no real wonder why people are so willing to just throw money at this project. The contributors are helping to make this game a success before it even launches, a game that is really by no means a safe “bet,” not for a publishing company anyway and may have been ignored otherwise, is getting substantial amounts of fanfare.
This game is going to be PC exclusive, so this knocks out the console players who may have at least been interested. While the PC gaming market has a lot of dedicated and die hard fans, it is one of the smaller gaming markets, despite the growth that it’s experienced in the last few years, it still lags behind the console market by a fairly large margin. There aren’t many publishers who are going to be willing to take such a big risk on a game, for the cost it would take to develop it, the target release date and sheer scope of the project makes Star Citizen one of the most risky titles that is being developed right now.
Even with all the gamers out there that want to play a game like this, the risks of totally screwing it up and bombing the project are very real, and most likely higher than any one publisher may ever want to really take. It’s because of this risk, this vision and the scope of the whole idea that makes Star Citizen perfect for crowd sourced support. It’s worth it to give the gamers something new and exciting to look forward to. In a market that some times seems like it is suffocating under it’s own reboots, sequels and “re-imaginings,” to many gamers it’s worth the risk in contributing money, or time to this project simply because it’s offering something new and different in a package that is almost too beautiful to be true.
"Star Citizen is such an attractive option for gamers because of it’s flexibility, not just because the game’s graphics, physics and world design is the software equivalent of Mila Kunis dressed up for a lovely red carpet affair."
Yet, the entire package does appear to be true. Star Citizen is such an attractive option for gamers because of it’s flexibility, not just because the game’s graphics, physics and world design is the software equivalent of Mila Kunis dressed up for a lovely red carpet affair. Star Citizen will have three game modes, real game modes; not like different variations of similar game types, like Domination, Death Match, or Capture the flag. No, nothing like that at all. Star Citizen has a single player mode, basically this is the story mode for the game, think of it as a very long introduction, much more in-depth than a tutorial, but ultimately only scratches the surface of the game. This mode is simply called Squadron 42, presumably because you’re a pilot who will be flying in this squad.
What this game is, at it’s core though is a multiplayer game. This experience is very flexible. For starters, Star Citizen is an MMO, but it doesn’t have to be an MMO, if you following me? The game allows you to connect to the same, large-scale persistent world, or the “official” RSI-game servers where everyone can play. This will essentially be the same world for everyone who decides to play here, regardless of where you are in the world. The incredibly attractive option that many PC gamers are excited for will be the ability run their own game server, either on their own desktop, or presumably in a rented server space that will be hosted and in a server farm that is up and running 24 hours a day.
This server space well let you manage your universe and be able to modify certain values, essentially run the game how you and your friends see fit. For a PC gamer, this is pretty much one of the most attractive options for any game, which has been seen through the history of PC gaming. Developers have and continue to garner flack from the public when the option to run and manage their own dedicated servers for themselves and their friends are removed and understandably so.
"Star Citizen will be offering nail biting space combat, coupled with space exploration and even the ability to move around on planets, and cities you land in."
The PC market, more than any facet of the gaming market is used to doing things their own way, from the OS’s they run, to the hardware they decide to put into the rigs. Why should playing online with your friends be any different? Chris Roberts and the rest of the team at Cloud Imperium understand this and that’s why they are building this game specifically to please the high expectations for sci fi and PC gaming fans around the world.
Star Citizen is one of the most in-depth and technologically impressive titles that is in development right now. There are a few other games that seem to be trying to create a similar experience, but not in the scope that Cloud Imperium is. Games like Starbound, which is currently in development by Chucklefish and available for early access has players exploring the galaxy in either single, or multiplayer modes in a beautifully crafted 2D environment. Another game, No Man’s Sky is very similar to the idea of Star Citizen, but with more emphasis on the individual planets and life that seems to exist on them, this game however does not offer a multiplayer option, not in a classic sense anyway.
Star Citizen will be offering nail biting space combat, coupled with space exploration and even the ability to move around on planets, and cities you land in. You will be able to trade, fight and steal what you need to survive, or make your life more comfortable and arguably the most important thing about all of this is you will be able to do it with friends, or complete strangers for that matter. Players will be able to fly deep into the solar system to explore an asteroid field and call in their buddy who has a mining ship to come in and gather resources, or explore derelict space vessels.
"Star Citizen’s success is a wet dream for people looking to crowd fund their game. The capital as well as the talent is there to make sure that this game is going to be completed and hopefully become a runaway success."
RSI won’t be stopping there though, they’ve already promised extended support of the game, so even when it’s finished it’s not going to be finished, not immediately anyway. Players can expect more ships, weapons and configurations as the game furthers its development cycle. In fact, with more people seemingly giving Cloud Imperium money on a weekly basis, there is more content being scheduled for development. The more support that is garnered for the game the better the game will become. While this funding system can be a double-edged sword for many developers, it looks like things have worked out perfectly for Cloud Imperium and Star Citizen.
Most gamers are into science fiction and the future of space exploration and even if you’re not, Star Citizen may be the game above all others to pay attention to in the coming 2014-15 development season and for more than one reason. Cloud Imperium and Chris Roberts are doing their damnedest to push the envelop of gaming, in both scope, design and sheer content. They’ve already made a great bid for it too, with the ability for players to visit their ships and look around to see what they’ll be piloting in the cold void of space, soon hopefully.
It is also a project to keep tabs on because they have become wildly successful in the crowd sourced arena of development. Star Citizen’s success is a wet dream for people looking to crowd fund their game. The capital as well as the talent is there to make sure that this game is going to be completed and hopefully become a runaway success. Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games certainly have set a lofty goal for Star Citizen, but with the money and the dedication needed for a project of this magnitude already available to them, this game is on schedule to change the entire way the world’s favorite entertainment medium will be played forever.