Star Citizen Interview – A Game As Infinite As The Universe Itself

Chatting with the makers of the most ambitious and hyped PC game in history.

Posted By | On 06th, Mar. 2017 Under Article, Interviews | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


Star Citizen is a highly ambitious space sim, a game that was announced back in 2012, a game that has steadily grown, expanded, and evolved in scope, much like the universe that it hopes to depict, a game that has set new standards for how crowdfunding in video games is handled… Star Citizen has already created history.

There’s so much about the game that begs questions, so much about it that we want to know- how do the creators even approach the creation of a game as mind bogglingly vast as this? So when we at GamingBolt got a chance to sit down and talk to Cloud Imperium Games’ Eric Kieron Davis, we had so many questions we could hardly contain ourselves.

I wanted to start by asking you to please introduce yourself for our readers, so they would know more about you, and what you are doing on the game.

Sure. My name is Eric Kieron Davis, I’m a senior producer here at the Los Angeles studios. I’m mostly focused on the US studios, with my team with Dave, who’s out in Austin, and with myself here. We’ve got roughly 67 people here in LA, a handful of folks in Austin, and my main role is supervising production for the US, working with our global partners, cause we have teams in other regions, and producing chunks of the game that are impacted by our studios, as we head down this journey that is Star Citizen.

So I actually did want to start right by jumping into this journey. It’s been a really long time, the game was announced in 2012, it’s had a record breaking crowd funding run, and I don’t think it would be exaggeration to say that it’s the most hyped PC game at the minute, which is saying something since Half Life 3’s specter always looms over everything else. You know, hopefully we’ll see Squadron 42 some time soon. I wanted to know, how has the production schedule changed and evolved through all of this? 

You know, when Chris [Roberts] set out to make the space sim that is Star Citizen, he had one vision in mind that he wanted to achieve. And as we’ve continued to get support from our community, our backers, we’ve realized that not only do they want a game that is larger, more immersive, but that’s the game that we want to make. So as we’ve grown, we’ve kind of reevaluated how we can maintain the expectations we set at the beginning, but also how we can establish the larger, more grand vision that is Star Citizen. And as you’d expect, the production schedules and expectations just evolve with that. Generally for the better- cause we’re still making, we’ve made quite a lot of progress, there’s quite a bit of game that’s out there and playable now, that’s given us an immense amount of feedback towards systems and features, where we need to focus, where we should focus less… working with the crowdfunding community is incredible. So it just naturally evolved, right? Like what are the features that make Star Citizen, Star Citizen? And once we get those established, how do we iterate and build on top of that? So I would say that over time, we’ve evolved for the better, and delivered on some things quicker than expected, and some things are taking a bit longer. But that’s generally the natural progression with software development.

"When Chris [Roberts] set out to make the space sim that is Star Citizen, he had one vision in mind that he wanted to achieve. And as we’ve continued to get support from our community, our backers, we’ve realized that not only do they want a game that is larger, more immersive, but that’s the game that we want to make."

Sure, absolutely. Especially when you have such a massive, all encompassing vision, things are bound to evolve over time, it can’t just stay static.

Absolutely.

So I wanted to know, in these five years, since Star Citizen was announced, there’s a whole lot that has happened- for instance, CryEngine- the game was originally announced for CryEngine 3, and at this point, I think you guys are on Amazon Lumberyard, and there has been all this movement. What I wanted to know was, these changes that have happened in the gaming industry in all this time, how have they influenced the development of the game?

That’s a good question. With the switch from CryEngine to Lumberyard – Chris made a great statement about this last year, and that’s exactly correct – LumberYard, and what we are working on, we were working on the same versions of CryEngine. And naturally, what makes sense for what Amazon is doing matches what we want to do for Star Citizen. So we want to head down that path- that larger path they are investing in, with larger networking, AWS, support for online gaming, and that matches with our timelines much better.

But has it caused an influence? I mean, we all influence each other. Game development, entertainment, is very influential. What’s the best way to entertain someone within our genres is interesting to all of us, so naturally we all watch each other, we all help each other, we generally try to help each other. There’s some healthy competition, but usually we just want to make a better game and experience, not just for our community, but also for ourselves. I mean, we enjoy playing these games as well. So we want to have the most fun and immersive experience as well.

I wanted to know, you mentioned this before where you’ve got studios all over the world working on Star Citizen, on different modules, different parts of the game, different experiences… how do you ensure there is a cohesion to the overall vision of Star Citizen? How do you ensure the parts sort of fit together neatly into a whole, with so many different people working on it? 

That’s a great question, and it’s a unique challenge. We’re investing a lot of time into this, because I think the cohesion of our studios will innately be felt into the game. We overcommunicate as much as possible, we handoff- we basically have someone awake working on this game 24/7. I’ve said this before, but it’s kind of follow the sun development. So once we go to sleep in LA and Austin, we make sure all the information needed for the UK and Frankfurt is there, we try to pass along emails, communicate via Skype, we’ve set up a lot of systems to allow for that. We’ve truly streamlined the process over the years. And as we’ve grown our studios, and grown into our comfort in terms of what we’re working on, the impact we can make- we make sure we can communicate, one of our top priorities is communication between all the studios, and the various levels. And every job has different goals, right? As a producer, my job is about communication, and that’s all of our goals- to try to communicate as often as we can, and as frequently and clearly as we can.

And there are several people that are driving this product, and are keeping an eye on it from the top, right? Specifically, Chris. He’s got the vision, he sees what we’re all working on, so if there’s anyone who’s keeping us all working on the same path, it’s Chris, and he’s doing a great job of that.

I wanted to discuss Squadron 42 for a bit, since that’s the most immediate component of the game for most at the moment. So I believe it is supposed to be a three episode part of a larger single player component of the game. What kind of flexibility would you say has the multi part development cycle given to you?

Well, we’re very, very focused right now on Episode 1, that’s the one we are driving for, that’s the one that lets us identify what that product is, what that game is. How it matches and blends well into Star Citizen’s universe. So that’s kind of our main focus right now, and will be the immediate, the one we deliver first. And once we’ve got all that ironed out, we’ll move on to the next stage of the game’s development.

star citizen

"Immersion in gameplay has always been at the forefront. Star Citizen, it’s obviously going to be more prevalent than it would be in Squadron 42, Squadron 42 will be more focused on the story arc of the game."

Alright. And each part is supposed to be really beefy, it’s supposed to have a lot of content. The first episode has about 20 chapters and 70 missions. So how much of gameplay time and gameplay content are we looking at here?

Uh… The specifics of Squadron 42, we have quite a bit going into that episode. And Chris just recently- I don’t know if you saw CitizenCon last year, but it follows exactly from what you said. We’ve got 20 hours of performance capture, we’ve got, the hours of gameplay are quite grand, because we want to give you the best experience we can. The story arc has over 1,200 pages. And we have a lot of distinct ships flying around with you, and while you are doing all the missions and the gameplay we are introducing you to. And we’ll have a fully systemic AI system, and there are about 28 chapters, with about 60+ missions. So it will be the game you want it to be, but we’ll also provide you with a kind of guidance to follow the storyline that Chris has led out with the story team.

And these three separate parts, these episodes, are they one continuous storyline, or are they all different perspectives, different parts of a larger story within the Star Citizen universe?

I can’t quite speak for the other two, but this first one is all within the one same storyline for sure. Beyond that, you know, it’s all in development, future stuff is always in development, and it’s being tweaked as we go along and get ready for release.

Yeah, like I said, it grows with time, the ambition and the vision. Now, you did mention this earlier, game development is sort of like a symbiotic process, everyone gets influenced by others, everyone influences others. So for Squadron 42, what would you say the closest analogues are in the gaming market, that you look at as the biggest influences? Other shooters, other games? I mean, I know Wing Commander is supposed to be the biggest one- 

(laughs) Sure, yeah. You know, it’s always been meant to be a spiritual successor to Wing Commander, we’ve got Chris at the helm, and he’s definitely following those traits to allow you to make the game that you always wanted Chris to make. But you know, there’s been more modern technology introduced to games- Wing Commander is an older game, but the feel of Wing Commander is what we’re going for with a mix of modern gameplay styles. So we’ve already talked about all the stuff in Star Citizen with the FPS, the 3D graphics, and pushing the boundaries in our graphical representation. So it’s got a lot of modern aspects, but it will have the heart and soul of what Chris has always pushed for in the Wing Commander games.

Okay. And I wanted to talk to you about those modern mechanics. There are a whole lot of complex, dynamic gameplay mechanics, such as, I think, there is supposed to be dynamic music reflecting your present state in the game’s world. Or there is supposed to be persistent NPC behavior, and how they lead to dynamic emergent events within the game. How have you ensured that all the moving parts stay together? How are you ensuring that with all of this, the game still doesn’t go off the rails of the vision that Chris wants to deliver with Squadron 42?

That’s a fair question. It’s like with any creative product or content, you set out to make something at the beginning, and by the end of the process, you’ve adapted it naturally based on what you’re influenced by, the team you brought in to make it, and also based on what will be enjoyable to your backers, your fan, your community, and so on- you know, whatever word you want to use. For us, Chris is our benchmark, Chris is the one at the top paying attention to everything, and he’s got a trusted team driving that vision that allows us to achieve the goals that he set out at the beginning. Naturally, as systems come online – and this is with all game development – it inspires other ideas, and creativity. Which is one of the fun parts of developing new systems, that we’re doing for Star Citizen. But how we’re maintaining that is, we’ve got our original idea for what Star Citizen is going to be, and Chris is still driving it, from the beginning, we’ve all been clear on what it is we’re trying to go for. The script was laid down a long time ago, gameplay mechanics were established a long time before that. And as we continue to get them online, it inspires us to try new things. But the idea of it will stay true to what Chris set out to do at the beginning.

How do you balance this approach for having emergent dynamic gameplay, and staying true  to Chris’s vision? How are you balancing these seemingly contradictory ideas at once? 

Well I don’t know if they are contradictory. I think, you know, he had some ideas for what the game is, but part of the game has always been to be emergent. Immersion in gameplay has always been at the forefront. Star Citizen, it’s obviously going to be more prevalent than it would be in Squadron 42, Squadron 42 will be more focused on the story arc of the game. We’ll see it more in Star Citizen, and we’ll allow it somewhat in Squadron, but we also want to make sure you’re following that same storyline. So it’s a balance of both. And we generally use our own instincts. But also, we love to involve our backers and community, and see if, they play with the systems we’ve created, and feel whether we’re going the way we’re expected to go. It’s one of the benefits of going crowdfunded, and having such a passionate community- they help keep an eye on things with us, and work alongside us, and it’s been a great partnership.

"We start with the designing idea of that ship, and we have our pipeline set up and established, it’s a very clean pipeline that we are all very proud of."

Yeah, you have this constant dialog with the community most developers don’t get until after the game is released, so that has to be helpful.

Absolutely!

So, I wanted to shift the discussion for a bit to the ships in Squadron 42. Could you discuss, give us a broad overview of the gameplay in the game with respect to the ships?

I can’t go into specifics about what kind of ships will be in the game or gameplay, obviously, but we have 40 distinct ships, and we’ll have everything from the fighters you see to dreadnoughts, and we’ll have more. That’s a big part of what the game is, since it was founded within the space sim genre. Spaceships are a very big part of the game. And you’ll see, you’ve already seen- we have 48 playable ships right now in Star Citizen. Those will obviously make an impact in all of our products. So it will be a big part of the game, flying and space combat is a massive part of any game that Chris sets out to make in the space ship genre, and definitely Squadron 42. I think you’ve already seen Star Citizen with a first person shooter, and quests and missions, and things like that, and those are all aspects that you will continue to see in all parts of our products.

And how do you approach designing these ships? Especially since you are going with a Newtonian physics model in the game. So especially with the really big ones, and having all these smaller ships in the vicinity, and I’m assuming you’ll often have planets or moons or stars in the backdrop… how do you, sort of, design these ships, and balance gameplay around them?

Sure, yeah. That- the ships are a very exciting pipeline for Star Citizen. It was one of the earliest- we knew we were making spaceships, obviously (laughs). So that was one of the first things we developed and focused a lot of time on. And as time has gone on, we’ve grown a lot better at making them. We’ve gotten the right amount of staff and talent, which is an incredible talent here at Cloud Imperium, that is all focused on making ships not just match the design of that ship and how it fits into our universe, but also we some very invested, very smart, and very talented engineers on our staff, and Chris himself, all of whom understand what it takes to make you feel like you’re flying an actual spaceship. There are very few people in our world who actually know what it feels like to fly a spaceship-

– yeah, maybe a couple hundred!

 –  Yeah! So we’re working within the boundary of physics. Space physics tend to be easier than atmospheric physics. But we have a couple, we have several developers and engineers that are focusing on how to make this feel like a simulation- how would it feel if I got into my cockpit and flew off this planet, any planet, and enjoyed a space flight? So in the designing aspect, everyone’s involved from start to finish. We’ve figured out what ship and manufacturer makes the most sense, and what kind of ship should go with what manufacturer. You know, like you buy a Mercedes-Benz when you are looking for something, but not a Chevy, they’ll all have different aspects to what they are. We want to do the same with our manufacturers of the future. So we start with the designing idea of that ship, and we have our pipeline set up and established, it’s a very clean pipeline that we are all very proud of. And so it goes to the pipeline- art, tech design, engineering, gameplay implications, the features, systems, how they all interact. And we’ve got IFCS, which is our intelligent flight control system. That is essentially driving- you know, you tell your ship to do something, and then IFCS reacts, as it should in a simulation. We’re always working to refine it, tweak it, make it more realistic but also more fun. So we’re always working on balancing those things to make it feel like what we’d like it to feel like.

Yeah, like you said, you are trying to make this living universe where each manufacturer and each ship feels like a differentiated entity.

That’s right!

And I’m sure there’ll be players who will end up preferring a certain make, model, or manufacturer because it suits their play style or sensibilities better. It should be fun to see how the community engages with all of that.

Absolutely.

So of course you have space ships, exploration, factions, the first person shooting, you have a whole lot of things within this game, the project is massive. We keep returning to that over and over, it’s probably as massive as the universe you are trying to portray. So, how would you say- has it been difficult to make sure that no single one of these aspects overshadows the others?

I think, it’s not necessary about overshadowing or not. It’s more about what is right for that situation? What gameplay aspect is right for that situation? What our developers have worked really hard on, our head design, our PU director, Chris, helps- it’s about, we’ve got all these options for our game, but what would make the most sense in that moment? Right? We’ve talked about how we’d like to have you make the decision based on the systems we are providing you. That’s what the game is going to be. We are creating these systems for you to utilize, right? So in real life right now, if you wanted to go – this is a terrible example – if you wanted to go rob a bank because you want to make money, the system is there for you. You can go purchase the things you need, you can go do the stuff you do that, and then what happens next will follow from that. So it’s just what our society is like, and we’re doing something- we’re trying to make our game to have the systems so you can play it the way you would like to play it. If you want to shoot a gun constantly, that’s a game you can play. If you just want to fly your spaceship? It’s what you can play. So it’s more about, not necessarily which one is better or worse, it’s about providing the systems that we feel will be fun, and then we will set up situations where you can choose what you want to use.

I’m just waiting for the sensationalist headline, ‘New spaceship game is bank robbing simulator’ or something.

(laughs) yeah, it’s coming! It’s coming!

So Squadron 42 has a whole lot of really high caliber talent working on it. You have Gary Oldman, Mark Hamill, you have all these really well known personalities and celebrities working on the game. How is it working with them and how do you ensure that their larger than life personas don’t overwhelm the characters they are supposed to be playing within the scope of the game’s universe?

Sure. I think it’s just like working with any high caliber talent. You want their talents to be at the forefront. And Chris does a really great job encouraging them to be not only the characters we need them to be for our game, but characters that you’ll come to know and love and their abilities. Talented performers, you know these incredible performers out there, the reason you get them is not just because they are high caliber, it’s because they are talented they’re good at what they do. And a lot of time it’s exactly that- for you within this new world you’ve set up for them, which Chris is really great at doing, it’s more about immersing you within that cast, as those are the people you are working with in this game, and that’s who will help you achieve the goals you set out to achieve.

David Swofford (Communications Director at Cloud Imperium Games): I think if I can jump in here, the other thing about that is, Chris has done this before. He’s worked with Hamill and all before. So I think if you’re going to have someone in this position, you know, how do you not have these stars overwhelm the situation they’re supposed to be in? Chris has done it before, so he gets it, and I think he’s been in Hollywood for ten years too. So he’s got a great mix of, he knows what works, because he has done it before, and he was successful with the Wing Commander games the first time. And so I think that’s another thing to consider here- this guy has been there, done that. He knows how to balance that properly, and have the gameplay work well with the star power he’s got.

Eric Davis: That’s right, and he’s so passionate about making the kind of game that immerses all of these aspects of it, and makes it fun and enjoyable and entertaining. He’s been doing entertainment for a long time. And that’s what we want to do, we want to have something you want to be a part of, and will keep you entertained, and that’s one of the things he has been doing with that talent.

Yeah, it’s a blend of his professional experience, and his personal contacts and relationships all coming together there, I am assuming. 

Definitely.

star citizen

"The fun thing about working on a PC game is you’re always working on the latest tech, and you’re always looking to push the boundaries, which is something Chris has been doing since the beginning, since Wing Commander. He’s always asked, how do we push technology, and not just live within the boundaries of the current, but push it to the forefront? And I think there’s a lot to be said about how we are doing that in Star Citizen."

Okay, so I wanted to sort of get into the tech side of this a bit now. I know that Star Citizen was originally announced with support for AMD Mantle. I wanted to know if you have any update for DirectX 12 or Vulkan integration.

I was thinking about that, and- I don’t know if I can give you the kind of in depth technical knowledge that Chris Roberts can. But, one thing that we’ve always talked about is leveraging not only the current, but the upcoming technology at all times, and creating the foundational base that allows us to do that. Because there’s no way to always be ahead of the curve, because something may come out you couldn’t have foreseen. But we’re definitely always investing the time and looking into future technologies and making sure that Star Citizen is as much a game of the future as it is a game of today. And that’s one of the things Chris is passionate about, as well as us- you know, challenging and pushing the envelope, and understanding, this new tech is coming out, or we are hearing it’s coming out- what benefits would we get? What would we not get? How can we integrate that without impacting anything we are currently working on, how can we do it smoothly? You know, I couldn’t tell you exactly for Zen specifically, but I can tell you what we are always keeping a very close eye on the tech world, because that is what we are creating a game on.

Absolutely. And since you are at this unique intersection where you are players of video games and also creators of video games, and you are at the forefront of all the tech- how influential do you think all this new tech will be? For instance, how impactful will these new APIs like DirectX and Vulkan be, how much will they affect PC players, for instance, for people who are years behind the curve, which is a whole lot of them?

I mean, you know, it’s tough to say. I think all new technology is always going to be impactful! I know that’s a generic statement to make, but the tech world always pushes boundaries. I think the nomenclature is every 18 months, some new technology is introduced, that’s how fast things turn around.

Yeah, Moore’s Law, things double.

Yeah, exactly! So does it have implications? I think it will always have implications. The fun thing about working on a PC game is you’re always working on the latest tech, and you’re always looking to push the boundaries, which is something Chris has been doing since the beginning, since Wing Commander. He’s always asked, how do we push technology, and not just live within the boundaries of the current, but push it to the forefront? And I think there’s a lot to be said about how we are doing that in Star Citizen.

I wanted to know, Chris’s older games, like Wing Commander, they used to be on Mac. I am pretty sure all his older games came to Mac. Star Citizen on the other hand is Windows and Linux, but no Mac. Is there any reason you aren’t targeting Mac for now? And will that change? 

That’s a good question. And you know, we’re focused on Windows and Linux for now, because that’s what allows us to make the biggest impact the fastest. But we’re always, of course, looking at other options, at everything. What could we possibly put Star Citizen on? So of course we are keeping our eye on that, and what it would take to get it to that state. It’s not excruciatingly difficult, but it would take extra time. So our main focus right now is developing the game for Windows and Linux, and from there we’ll take a look at the next thing and see if it makes sense or not for us.

Okay! And we’ve actually touched upon all the components of the question I am about to ask you now before, but this could be sort of like an overview answer to this- we’ve talked about the development cycle, the tools changing over time, the vision changing over time, we’ve talked about technologies coming up, and your wanting to stay at the forefront of all of that. So what changes and improvements will you say were made to the modules based production and development for Star Citizen with upcoming technology like AMD’s Ryzen and Vega, with VR coming up… what sort of changes were made to the games vision to accommodate the technology?

You know, again, I don’t think it’s necessarily that we have changed the vision. I think it’s just more, what impact can we make based on the information that comes out? We have an incredibly talented graphics director and team, and the competence of our technical people here is one of the best I’ve ever worked with. The things they come up with and pay attention to is incredible, which makes our jobs more fun, because they are so savvy. The complexities are immense, but the nimbleness is very much there. So I don’t know if it’s necessarily changed the vision much if it’s just that, as technology has come online, we’ve evaluated what parts it makes sense to integrate. I can’t speak specifically as to the ones we’ve integrated lately, I’d have to check with more technical people than myself for that- but that’s why I trust them to evaluate it and bring them based on what makes sense for the game, and the community and our backers.

Absolutely. And this is another thing we touched upon before, with you saying you are focusing on Windows and Linux for now, since they let you achieve what you want to the best. And famously, Star Citizen has been a PC exclusive. And it makes sense, given the scope, graphical fidelity, ambition, you know, given what the game is, it makes sense that it can’t run on a PS4 or Xbox One. But with these new, improved PS4 Pro and Xbox One Scorpio, the latter of which has 6 TFLOPs, do you think there’s a possibility that Star Citizen eventually shows up on consoles after all?

 You know, I think what is interesting about all the technology, all the options out there is that they all offer something different,’ he said. ‘And so, based on the game you are making, the product you are making, it’s always about evaluating which one can support the vision, support the idea, the goals of the product you are making. And like you said, PC is definitely our main focus.

But we’re always looking forward, watching what the consoles are doing, and seeing if that makes sense in the future. Right now, we’re very focused on delivering this on PC. But could it be on the consoles? Why not? We’ll look to see what makes the most sense in the future, and how exactly we can do that. Will we make a guaranteed effort to do it right now? I couldn’t tell you. Until we’ve got what we want out of it on PC and Windows and we have delivered that, that’s when we’ll look at what makes sense and what the next steps should be for Star Citizen. Chris has always said that we want every one of our players to be in the same universe, we want them to enjoy the same universe- and you know, as consoles allow that, that could be a potential future. We’ll see what things hold as time goes on.

Sure, yeah, and I mean with the advent of cross platform play, and things like that, consoles are making strides towards that future, but I get you. Right now you want to focus on the PC version, and once you’re done with this, then you can consider expanding its reach, I get that.

Yeah, absolutely.

But as someone who is working on games, and as someone who plays games, what are your thoughts on the state of the console market as it stands right now?

 The grand statement on the console market.

(laughs) 

I don’t know if I could pontificate on the state of the console market, I myself own every console I can. I love every game I can get my hands on that I can get time for, for inspiration as well as relation and entertainment. I think we’ve made some awesome strides in the console market, and I look forward to the future. I think they are making some unique movements in upcoming releases. I look at the Nintendo Switch, and all these cool things it is trying to push boundaries on, and I think the future is bright and interesting for the console market. The more we go along, the more we’re coming together.

"I look forward to the future. I think they are making some unique movements in upcoming releases. I look at the Nintendo Switch, and all these cool things it is trying to push boundaries on, and I think the future is bright and interesting for the console market."

So would you say there will eventually be room for dedicated gaming hardware like consoles are? Or will we move towards services, or PCs, or multi purpose devices in the future?

I mean, we’re already kind at the of multi purpose devices at this point. You never know, I mean, that’s definitely not my market, not the world I am in, but watching the news just like you do, I think there are options for both. Depending on what the makers want to focus on, and what kinds of games you want to put on each platform. Each platform has its own unique capabilities for every type of game, and I think they all offer unique experiences, and I think that will continue as the tech industry continues to evolve naturally.

Okay. And now I want to talk about Star Citizen again. Back in 2013, Chris told us that he wants the game to achieve the kinds of visuals that were in James Cameron’s Avatar. DO you think that vision has been achieved, or would you say you are still working towards it?

I think I always want to say there’s more to do, but I think we’ve achieved a lot of it. I think this engine has allowed us to show us what we can push, based on what’s currently out and can be played, and also what we are working on background technically. There’s steps we need to make to continue to push the technology, react a certain way and give you a certain visuals in nature. But I think the engines we are on now, as well as the pipelines we have put in place, are allowing us to achieve it, a lot of those benchmarks. It’s been really fun to see as the community has gotten a control of our camera system, just the imagery they can create with what you’re already able to play… some people have put many, many hours with what’s already available now, and it’s very inspiring internally. Because we are attempting to push boundary of all of our visuals as far as we possibly can. And I think we have achieved it in other aspects, and in other aspects there is still work left. I think you can never be done, because with tech, there’s always something cooler on the horizon. But I think we’re hitting a lot of what we wanted to do. You know, as the producer, I’m watching the schedules, of where we are headed, and there are all these things coming out in the future that I think will be even cooler.

Okay, so the game has achieved its aim to be photorealistic, or as photorealistic as it wanted to be. But how far out are we from when games in general can achieve these kinds of visuals, at least on PC?

You know, that’s a good question. I’ve been on many panels where we have talked about the future of technology and gaming, and I think we’re- I don’t want to say we’re there. I think we can always make it better, but just comparably over the last 10-20 years, the visuals have, across movies, TV, and gaming, gotten into a very realistic state. I think we’ll – I say this now ignorantly, because who knows what visuals will be like in 100 years from now? – but I think the visual fidelity we are able to achieve across media is inspiring, and it’s wild to look back to not long ago and see how different things were visually at the time. So imagine what’s going to come up next, right?

Right, comes back to Moore’s Law again!

Right (laughs)

When do you think Squadron 42 Episode 1 will come out? 

We have an idea, obviously, a firm idea of what we are trying to achieve, and what we would like to do, but- we won’t be sharing any specific information or dates. But we do have a good grasp on what the goal is we want to achieve, and achieving it, for Episode 1 as well as for our Star Citizen 3.0. I can’t say more than that, but we have a very firm idea of where we are going.

Okay, how about- could you share the date for when you will be able to share the date?

(laughs) You’re funny!

David: Just to reiterate, we are not talking dates, but I think Eric said we do have an idea of what we are doing, and hopefully soon, we’ll have more information on that!

Star Citizen is really, really hyped- and last year we saw with No Man’s Sky, which is at least superficially a similar game, there was a whole lot of hype, but that turned out to be a dual edged sword. Star Citizen is far more hyped- it’s promising far more than No Man’s Sy ever did, it’s a bigger game, more hyped. How do you cope with so much hype, so many expectations from the community, who are involved with every step in the process?

I think for us specifically, we do have quite a bit of pressure to make sure we can achieve not just what we said we will achieve, but also what we want to achieve internally. But we’ve also seen quite a few successes, quite a bit of success, based on what we set out to do four years ago. And also what we’ve recently adjusted to achieving, because some things have come in much sooner than expected, some of our technology comes online- the fun part of software development is, you have an understanding of what you want to do, you get professionals, they do an incredibly good job, somethings you get quicker than you expected, while some things are more drawn out. So we’re doing what we can to live up to the hype, and we have a long way to go. But we have accomplished quite a bit. So I think our goal is just to keep pushing forward, keep trucking on, and keep working on delivering not just what we have promised to deliver, but also what we will all have fun playing personally as well.

Star Citizen Star Marine

"I think our goal is just to keep pushing forward, keep trucking on, and keep working on delivering not just what we have promised to deliver, but also what we will all have fun playing personally as well."

And how about the VR version of the game? We haven’t actually touched on that yet.

Sure. VR- you know, we’ve always talked about VR for the game. And one of the fun and exciting things about software development is that everything has an order in which you should work on it, and you should plan for them as accordingly. And so, there’s an order for how we’re making this game, and what we’re working on. And we’re definitely aware of VR, definitely VR is a part of our original goal for the game. And honestly, earlier we talked about visuals and graphics. Part of VR is this immersive game, and that’s what Chris has been making since day one. So our immersion is there, and the VR technology is absolutely on our radar to work on in the future. It just depends on when we get there and in what order we will do it.

For one of my last questions, what are your plans for Star Citizen beyond 2017 and 2018? Because you said this is going to be a living, persistent universe, that changes over time. So where do you see Star Citizen in, say, 5 years from now? 10 years from now? How long do you think Star Citizen will continue to evolve?

Can forever be an answer?

Forever can definitely be an answer!

So, I was also saying this about VR, our order of operations and what we want to achieve. Obviously we know what we want to deliver, and we know what we want to do on top of it already. We’re not short on an understanding in what it is and what we want to add to it and how we want to keep pushing the envelope. So, five years out? We want to still have this product, we want to be adding to it, we have a backlog of things we are working on, and we will continue to shoot through it as time goes on. And as technology comes online, systems and engineering take time, it’s one of the more challenging parts of software development, which is very exciting, but the goal is to keep doing this, for as long as we possibly can. Once we have a product, we want to keep adding to it, keep building it, and make this world and universe something to be expanded upon, for us to live out our lives in this universe.

Sure, yeah. And like you said, it just becomes something that’s iterated upon every time you have a new idea, or new tech, or new something that you want to do with it.

Yeah.

Well, is there something you want to say to our readers?

No, I mean- I always just want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who’s ever been involved, or is paying attention to what we’re working on with Star Citizen, and with Chris and his team. It’s always inspiring to have such a passionate community to work alongside. And what we are doing with our team – I call them our team, our community – is a very unique experience for all of us making this product. You know, we all go homes to our family every night, and try to get some sleep so we can keep working on this thing. So we just want to say thank you to everyone who’s ever been involved, and ever worked alongside over the years.

And thank you for your time! 

Of course, it was my pleasure!


Awesome Stuff that you might be interested in

  • Psionicinversion

    best game ever 😀 and with my new super power house ryzen build (when the stupid motherboards come in) it will be amazeung

    • Stan

      It isn’t a game it is a tiny buggy tech demo. This chaps experience is typical

      http://www.dereksmart.com/forum/index.php?topic=66.0

    • Joe_Blober

      Stan is a well know troll minion of Master Troll (the proven incimpetent ke linked) . here is a link that provide all insight and decipher those handfull trolls strategy:

      https://sctrollsdump.wordpress.com/about-trolls/

    • Psionicinversion

      Still jealous I see. I’m reading anything by smart he’s just jealous and keeps saying star citizen is impossible yet he’s spent 7 years trying to make a simple fps. He clearly doesn’t even possess the skills to write a modern game engine as he’s switching to UE4. If he can’t even write a modern engine he’s got no idea where to start to even create a game like star citizen

    • I was paid 104000 bucks last year by doing an online job moreover I was able to do it by w­orking in my own time f­o­r several hours each day. I tried work opportunity I came across on-line and so I am delighted that I was succeed to earn such good money. It’s really newbie-friendly and therefore I’m so delighted that I discovered out about it. Look out for exactly what I do… http://www.doshort.com/58r1

  • vuvutizuta

    nice

  • spoofghost

    That was a nice article! 😀 loved it quite a read.
    Thanks for the article!

    Oh and for those looking to joining starcitizen,
    You can use this code: STAR-ZZMS-GGMK to get an extra 5000 credits or just go!

  • Joe_Blober

    Very nice and deep article… of course you failed trying to get dates… but you have to try right? 🙂
    As stated, Star Citizen 3.0 is the next step we are all loocking for to get a grasp on it.

    • Stan

      You ware a dishonest lying shill for SC.

    • Joe_Blober

      Sure. here is a link about the guy from which you take yours orders:

      “The Dirty Dozen Circle Jerk Mantra”
      https://sctrollsdump.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/the-dirty-dozen-circle-jerk-mantra/

      100% lies and obfuscation since 2 years…. Talk about a leader… Leader of emptyness that nobody can remember as a game developer but only as Master Troll of the PC gamers communnity at large 🙂

      SC backers at least do build something together with a guy, CR, and others team talent who are proven seniors developers.

  • Milk

    Garbage interview. sounds like interviewer and interviewee had a fun time jerking each other off. There’s answers where nothing from the question is addressed but the interviewer doesn’t even bring it up. To quote Talking Heads

    “You’re talking a lot but you’re not saying anything”

  • Stan

    Another fluff piece that doesn’t go into any of the detail of how terrible the game is in its current form and how much money and time they need to get it into anything like an actual game (never mind the vision and detail) dodged here.

    Read some of the stories here for a far more honest and revewling perspective on this “game”

    https://www.reddit.com/r/starcitizen_refunds/

    • Joe_Blober

      … And without, Stan give his daily link about refunds. here is another one about The “Refund before too late” parody:

      https://sctrollsdump.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/the-refund-before-too-late-parody/

      Major patch SC 3.0 (+3.1) is coming and SQ42 is reasonnably expected mid-2018. Which is amazing for a team of 12 and 6M$ at end of kickstarer in Nov. 2012.

      This is coming nicely and the 10 trolls of Master Troll are raging before release of SC 3.0 and SQ42 as they can hardly shoot scam or vaporware (but still do from time to time) with so much contents in backers hands 🙂

    • Dementropy

      Why must you spam these articles with links to your insane blog?

      Is it because you got banned from Encyclopedia Dramatica for doing the same thing?

      https://encyclopediadramatica.se/Special:Contributions/Manze

      Think about that.

      Even Encyclopedia Dramatica thought you were too spammy and that your information was too inaccurate.

      Your credibility is worthless.

    • Leperray

      This blog does not look that insane looking at this terrible person DS…

    • Joe_Blober

      And you pretend I am spamming link :)… The correct URL is:
      https://encyclopediadramati

      But thanks to help spreading the reality about few trolls with and agenda against Chris roberts, with a direct link to the one I name Master Troll because he is too satisfy to see is real name even in a dump…

      Saying Encyclopedia Dramatica care about accuracy means your are a troll right? 🙂

      I informed Readers, not tried to convince you. Your attempt to discredit me is entertaining Dementropy 🙂 We have many months to spend together until release of SC 3.0 and SQ42…. Swallow it and smile 🙂

    • Bjørn Sandåker

      “[…] SQ42 is reasonnably expected mid-2018.”

      I don’t want to speculate about dates (or years) but it sounds to me, from all the information available to us, that it will be sooner than that. But we have to wait for the announcement EKD hinted about in this interview.

    • Joe_Blober

      I tend to agree with you Bjorn but I tried to give an estimate based on finance and current game state.

      On Finance side, CIG did have and still have more or less a year and half of cash (without counting on Credit line or new private Investors that could join the party) and will keep this momentum as long as they gather around 2M$ per month on average during 12 months.
      Which is still the case despite having no special event and some being more vocal about no SQ42 vertical slice demo about no SQ42 vertical slice demo.(not talking about ours couple of little trolls friends)

      Also CIG need SC 3.0 for SQ42. We will get 3.0 (and may be even part of 3.1 with mining) in 2017. Give them 6 months for testing 3.0 with SQ42 assets to polish a near to perfect SQ42 chapter 1 release (no way to release half finished chapter with so much eyes looking at them) and that give a date around mid-2018 for SQ42 Chapter 1.
      Star Citizen (MMO) will keep growing with several patch till 4.0 until Beta, probably around end of 2018.

      But as you said, we will see. I am totally confident, not because I have a cult but because i make an educated answer 🙂

      Note: now we can wait for the revelation of our little friends with links to the worldswide expert, aka Master Troll, explaining to seniors successul developers how to make AAA game + link with pictures of CR’s golf resorts in Bahamas + new prophecy of doom ot this scam not released before 2030… 🙂

    • Dragon75

      Regarding CIGs finances, I only have one question.
      How do you know what their current financial status is?

      I have seen plenty of people make statements like yours and claiming to know or understand CIGs finances, but unless you have some kind of direct insight into their finances that the rest of us don’t, I don’t see how you can know what they do and do not have left of money.

    • Joe_Blober

      Very good question and remark about many people shooting many different balance sheets.
      To make it short, all including mine, are speculation. I do not have direct insight on CIG finance.

      I can’t talk about others, but mine come from taking growth of team since Nov. 2012 till now, average cost per employees, estimated tax reduction in UK (the biggest studio) and total pledge + current rate of monthly pledge… plus experience in international project involving large budget control (timing and costs) and estimation involved with many international teams. Not a direct experience in gaming industry, but project related to the acitivities in computing perimeter with project like SAP/Oracle roll out.

      So I do not pretend it is 100% accurate but reasonnably close to accurate, say at 15% in terms of CIG costs/expenses. And I took reasonnable marging not counting wage of 40K per people for instance. Even if I am wrong by 20%, which is a lot when you have a fix budget but not in case of CIG with monthly growing funds, 20% of a year and half is equal to a bit more of a quarter.. definitely not bankrupcy and by very far 🙂

    • Dragon75

      While your explanation and numbers are good(and unlike many others you have taken the growth of the company into consideration rather than base it on them having current number of employees from the start), I remain highly skeptical.

      Your numbers seems to be based on the assumption that the crowd funding is their only income.
      We don’t know that for certain, they could have some kind of sponsor we don’t know about(I know AMD got into it in some way, not sure how that worked though), or other kind of income we don’t know about.

      Roberts has also made multiple statements about how they keep a healthy cash reserve which would allow them to complete development even if funding stopped today, albeit at a reduced level/scale.

    • Joe_Blober

      I agree with you. I did not took into account anything beside pledges. because the date I give is already a speculation so I tried not to add extra question marks on top of it.

      When I was talking about investors, I would rather see not traditional publisher like Ubisoft or EA, because of their history with CR and corporate strong trend to focus mainly on quick profit versus content or quality, but more Valve or Amazon, giving an hand to help fund (trhough share holder this time not pledges of course) for one extra year.

      Those companies have plenty of cash and assuming they did have positive financial and technical audit insight, they won’t risk much with a few % of Cloud Emperium,

      Especially after +160M$ would have been spend to create a more than robust technology, research and lore backbone for SQ42 and SC.
      For Amazon, SQ42+SC can potentially be the name they need to become visible to all, mainly developers, as a major player in the gaming industry.

      Not even talking about the potential with new console (Scorpio and PS5) that could bring millions of new players in 2019 with SQ42. Assuming CR and Microsoft/Sony did find a win-win agreement in terms of profit sharing and Cloud Emperium autonomy.

      So my estimation of mid-2018 was not only based on Finance requirement, but an educated estimation based on current state of pipelines needed for SQ42 in priority, Arrival of patch SC 3.0 sometimes in 2017 and SQ42 release following by a semester after 3.0/3.1.

    • Dragon75

      The problem with your estimation is that its based on far too many assumptions, speculation and what if’s.
      It also fails to take into consideration a number of things that can or will bring in more funds, such as SQ42 sales.
      That is the main reason I remain highly skeptical of your estimates as I said.

      As for needing another name to become visible, sure cooperation with Amazon and using their servers for hosting the game will be beneficial
      However they don’t need the amazon brand(or anyone else for that matter) to become visible, because they already have achieved this on their own through media, word of mouth and various events they have attended/hosted.

    • Bjørn Sandåker

      VP of Marketing, Sandi Gardiner, has said they will start advertizing more this year (I think it was in a Batgirl show). So far it has been only word of mouth and media coverage, as you say.

    • Joe_Blober

      I agree. I see my estimation has being probably less than optimistic but it is on purposes.

      As I speculated today, we backers are on the safe side both for SQ42 and SC. Adding more (SQ42 sales for instance, hence more people, hence more jumping as well in SC Alpha/Beta with more ships sales)) will give even more room to CR to manage the next coming 3 or 4 years.

      I probably express myself the wrong way. When I talked about becoming visible, it was Amazon gaming activities becoming more visible to the world, with a title like SQ42 and SC running on their servers and game engine Lumberyard (even if we know Lumberyard is a fork equivalent to the basic one of CIG + AWS Amazon network).
      This is a win-win situation for Amazon and CIG.

      In short, future is bright and in good hands 🙂

    • Bjørn Sandåker

      About future revenue, I think extra sales of Squadron 42 will be more than enough to finish the PU. They only have to sell 2.5 million copies to make the same as the crowdfunding total today. To make $40M for expenses the next year, they only have to sell 666,667 copies of Squadron 42. I think it’s possible to sell 20 million copies of Squadron 42 within a year after launch. That’s $1.2 billion in revenue …

      Add to that what they can get from the ongoing crowdfunding, subscriptions, ads (real life ads from AMD and Coca Cola in the PU, for instance), and other things.

      If things should get tight they can start selling real estate on planets – flats, lots, houses, castles on mountain tops, farms, hangars, mining deeds, furniture to houses/flats, etc … But I’m convinced they won’t have to do that before the crowdfunding ends.

      So I’m not concerned about the future or if they can finish the PU.

      About when the first chapter in Squadron 42 will be released, I said I don’t want to speculate (because I don’t have enough data) but all available information points to a release this year.

    • Joe_Blober

      Bjorn I would love to be as optimistic as you are but selling by ten’s millions copies can only be achieve through console sales not PC only.
      Mass Effect trilogy sold a total of around 10 millions copies in 2012, two third being on Xbox. Since 2012 they probably sold another few millions at discounted price.

      We do not know how the PC gaming community is going to receive SQ42. Selling 2 millions copies the first year would be clearly a very good sign. The beauty of SQ42 is that people can easily jump on SC universe (still in Alpha/Beta at time of SQ42 release)… that will bring more cash between SC sale and ship sales.

      Knowing what CR has delivered in the past, with a lot of respect to gamers and search for quality, like you, I do not worry at all about future of CIG 🙂

    • Dragon75

      Your statement about sales numbers are factually incorrect.

      CS:GO has sold 25 million copies on PC.
      https://www.pcgamesn.com/counter-strike-global-offensive/csgo-bestselling-pc-game-minecraft

      And this list here shows games that sold 1 million or more copies, where 7 of them sold 10 million or more copies on PC alone, Minecraft alone is listed as having 25 million copies sold just like CS:GO
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_PC_games

      So its most certainly possible for games to sell in the 10 million range or more on PC alone.

    • Joe_Blober

      Thanks for the link. This is interesting.

      We will see. I hope SQ42 and SC sold by ten’s millions copies as it would be beneficial to us. Nobody know, we will see. Achieving 2 extra more Million sale on top of +500.000 backers would be already great.

      Anything above is just ice cream for backers as it will secure the release of many more contents and allow CIG to hire even more artists.
      So in short what we see is that PC alone could bring millions and console at least the same or even more. Talk about a bright future 🙂

    • Dragon75

      And I would like to thank you for being mature and reasonable enough to accept when you have been proven incorrect and able to discuss things in a constructive manner, that’s rare to see.

      As for SQ42 sales, the more they can sell the better of course, but at the current point I time I consider it highly unlikely that even SQ42 will come to console.
      The reason I think its so unlikely is because of Roberts previous statements regarding console ports and other factors.

      First of all they have no current plans for a console port.

      Second, its dependent on MS and Sony being willing to accept Roberts terms in regards to updates, and I frankly don’t see that happening anytime soon

      Third, if there is to be a console port then someone need to foot the bill, and the PC players would not want to pay for that, and they would need to make a deal with MS and/or Sony to have it on their consoles.

    • Joe_Blober

      … IRL I am a reasonnable guy as long as I have a counter part of the same caliber 🙂

      I agree with you. Consoles paths, while being potentially a very juicy move, is and will not be a straight road.

      The first restriction is raw power. New consoles generation will solve this issue, at least for solo like SQ42. Probably around 2019.
      Next come what you describe, which fall in pure business deal between entities with opposite expectation, Which is far to be simple with behemot like Sony or Microsoft.

    • Bjørn Sandåker

      As Dragon75 say, there are no plans for Star Citizen the MMO, or Squadron 42, on consoles. As you say, the next generation of consoles will probably be powerful enough to run Star Citizen.

      But there are more stumbling stones than just the hardware requirements. As Dragon75 says, Sony and/or Microsoft must pay Chris Roberts to make a port, to make it happen (faster). Also, Dragon75 mention the updates.

      The update policy of these companies to their console market has to be changed so that CIG can issue updates whenever they want, and not be bound by a next Tuesday update round (or similar), and not be charged for the update either. As Star Citizen /the PU) is a Buy to Play game, and is already paid for when it launches to the public, CIG plans to issue most updates for free. They won’t guarantee all updates will forever be free, but if they’ll charge for any updates it’ll be rare (and big). Sony and Microsoft cannot charge CIG for updates that are free to consumers. Today, these console companies charge for all updates – regardless if they cost the end user anything or not – and this have to change.

      Another thing is that CIG want all players to be in the same universe. That’s difficult with consoles, since they have their own servers. So this must be solved too.

      There are other things also, like the size of fees for example. The bottom line is that there are many things blocking a console release of the PU, not just hardware. Squadron 42 would probably be easier to fit in the console market, but there are still some issues to be solved before that may happen.

    • Bjørn Sandåker

      Well, as there are about 1.2 B people playing PC games, which is much more than the console market, I don’t think the numbers are too optimistic. Also, PC gaming is growing annualy about 8-9%.

      IMO Mass Effect and Squadron 42 can’t be compared directly, so hence one cannot predict SQ42 sales based on sales from Mass Effect.

    • Joe_Blober

      I picked ME because it is a space game type. But nothing is comparable to SQ42 + SC as it has not been done by anyone.

      My estimation is voluntary less optimistic just to see if CIG concept based on SQ42 + SC is viable. The good news is that answer is a big Yes.
      The even better good news is that, as you and Dragon75 explained, the potential is even much greater. How big it will be greater? we will see in a couple of years. Everything is fine in the meantime.

  • Stan

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kP2ek_L8Yk

    This would have been more interesting to base this article around

    • Leperray

      For Readers passing by, Stan goal is to spit and hurt SC Community at large. A few weeks ago, he was shooting scam and vaporware 🙂
      Give us more vaporware with such NetCode please 🙂

      The video about NetCode is not a surprise. CIG did communicated about NetCode being a major goal for improvment since they released alpha of PU . So as usual CIG will take the time to iron out all issues during Alpha.

      Star Marine as well as Arena Commander are perfectly playable for an Alpha to be used to help test modules released by CIG.

      For those interested by a more global view on what CIG is working on, here is the latest ATV. This is a tiny part of what they have done:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGzDI2wUqf0&feature=youtu.be


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