Star Citizen 3.0 – Planetary Tech, Setbacks, and Ambition

Talking about Star Citizen these days is an interesting, if strange, prospect. Anyone who has followed the game for much time knows that Chris Roberts’ dream game is quite ambitious. Fans of the game praise that ambition and can chat at great length about the game’s various tech, mechanics, art, etc. Star Citizen’s detractors will, inevitably, say the game’s ambitions will, at best, amount to a half-baked game or, at worst, pure vaporware.

As with most things, the best stance to take is somewhere in between the avid fans and the ever present nay-sayers. Star Citizen’s development has been incredibly interesting. Not least because of its massively successful crowdfunding campaign, but also because it has given the average gamer a fairly detailed look at what making a game of this size and scope takes. We’ve seen the technical aspects of the game laid bare, and the wins and woes of game design successes and failures. We’ve seen some internal politics and some external drama.

So, where does that leave us now? Well, as I said, it leaves many of us somewhere right in the middle. Star Citizen is without a doubt a thrilling idea. I don’t think many gamers out there wouldn’t be excited at the concepts that the game is built around. However, to misquote an overused quote, many of us are still waiting for Cloud Imperium Games to “show us the money.”  At the same time though, it’s not easy to simply dismiss the game to the realms of development hell, because Star Citizen has seen some very real and very tangible progress.

Alpha 3.0

This brings us to the next large update coming at the end of June. The “Planetary Tech” coming in this update is yet another big step taken towards the game’s persistent universe. As exciting as this is, it’s becoming harder and harder, at least for me, to get too excited at these steps. At some point, Star Citizen is going to have to stop taking steps and finally make the leap. It doesn’t help that Chris Roberts continues to make statements such as this:

“With this we are delivering something that goes way beyond the initial promises and conception of Star Citizen; we will be simulating a first-person universe with almost no limits.”

This kind of hyperbole sends fans into orgasmic trances, and haters into guffaw laden sarcastic rants. For us optimistic yet reserved middle ground observers, it’s just tiresome. Even if Star Citizen delivered on every single promise upon launch, there, of course, will be limits and plenty of them. It’s incredibly odd, though not out of character, that Chris Roberts would say something like “we are delivering something that goes way beyond the initial promises,” before first fulfilling all those initial promises.

Listen, I, and many gamers out there, understand marketing speak. We get that Roberts needs to sell his game and keep selling his game, but perhaps it’s time to tone down the rhetoric a bit. The Molyneux approach to building hype is not a model any game developer should be following, especially when your game has faced such criticism, warranted or not, during its creation.

So, What’s Next?

Despite any criticisms you might feel justified in throwing at Roberts’ marketing technique, it’s undeniable that Alpha 3.0 is, in fact, a large update with a ton of exciting content. While the initial release of 3.0 is a bit pared down, compared to previous expectations, the cut content looks be coming in 3.1 and 3.2 later this year.

The full list of current and planned features goes beyond the scope of this post, but definitely check out the full details, right here.

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