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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Star Citizen: the final nail

Derek Smart explains why he believes Chris Roberts's statement about a "minimum viable product" is an extinction level event:
WHY I BELIEVE THIS TO BE THE FINAL NAIL IN THE STAR CITIZEN COFFIN.

None of the arguments people are making are relevant. And White Knights, Shitizens, and Shillizens are doing what they always do: obfuscate, attack, confuse, distort.

These are what’s relevant; all the points from my latest blog.

1) The game he originally pitched simply cannot be built once he increased the scope. Period. All the features already cut out, are evidence of this.
2) The CryEngine which he chose to build the game with, is simply not capable of building it. And yes, even though they now have a custom version of it, that’s more about re-inventing the wheel, than it is about making sure the wheel is still round. The latter being the basis of using a core engine from which a custom engine is derived.
3) Following my first July 2015 blog in which I made the statements I said as:
Without disrespect to anyone, I’m just going to say it: it is my opinion that, this game, as has been pitched, will never get made. Ever. There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million. The original vision which I backed in 2012? Yes, that was totally doable. This new vision? Not a chance.
The technical scope of this game surpasses GTAV, not to mention the likes of Halo. Do you have any idea what those games cost to make and how long they took? Do you know how many games which cost $50 million to make took almost five years to release? And they were nowhere in scope as Star Citizen?
He wrote an entire missive and said this:
You all know that already; you’ve lived that. You’ve seen Star Citizen evolve and start to come together. You’ve watched our atoms form molecules, our modules form a real, playable game (that you can boot up and play today!). There are people out there who are going to tell you that this is all a BAD THING. That it’s ‘feature creep’ and we should make a smaller, less impressive game for the sake of having it out more quickly or in order to meet artificial deadlines. Now I’ll answer those claims in one word: Bullshit!
Star Citizen matters BECAUSE it is big, because it is a bold dream. It is something everyone else is scared to try. You didn’t back Star Citizen because you want what you’ve seen before. You’re here and reading this because we are willing to go big, to do the things that terrify publishers. You’ve trusted us with your money so we can build a game, not line our pockets. And we sure as hell didn’t run this campaign so we could put that money in the bank, guarantee ourselves a profit and turn out some flimsy replica of a game I’ve made before. You went all in supporting us and we’ve gone all in making the game. Is Star Citizen today a bigger goal than I imagined in 2012? Absolutely. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not: it’s the whole damn point.
As with all his previous statements and promises, you can flush this one down the toilet too. Chris evolved to be more of a salesman, than a game developer/designer. And a patently dishonest one.
How coincidental is it that – again – shortly after my latest blog dropped, and which I said this:
“And as I have stated before, Chris being a dreamer, I don’t believe that he set out to scam gamers. However, the only right thing that he can do now is to come clean, explain to the backers what he can and cannot do, what went wrong and how, provide the financials to the backers who are entitled to it, and stop taking money for a project he knows all too well that he simply cannot deliver as originally promised.”
He does this latest 104TC in which he reveals that the short-term goal is to deliver a MVP.
So, really what we’re doing with Star Citizen is we’re working on the game, adding features for an incredibly ambitious design – I don’t think there is any other game that is trying to do as much as we’re trying to do.  So, degree of difficulty 11, not 10.  And, we’ll have what we determine is a minimum viable product feature list for what you would call Star Citizen the commercial release which is basically when you say, “Okay, we’ve gotten to this point and we’ve still got plans to add a lot more cool stuff and more content and more functionality and more features…” – Which by the way includes some of the later stretch goals we have because not all of that is going to be for ‘absolutely right here’ on the commercial release.  But we’ll have something that we’ll think, ‘Okay yeah, not everyone can play it but it doesn’t matter – you can load it up, it plays really well, it’s really stable, there’s lots of content, there’s lots of fun things to do, different professions, lots of places to go, we’ve got a really good ecosystem.’  So, when we get to that point that’s when we would say, “Now it’s not alpha, it’s not beta, it’s Star Citizen 1.0.
We spent two hours discussing this at Brainstorm a few months ago, and considering the way in which Derek managed to impress even his most inveterate skeptics and haters with his expertise and technical observations during that session, I see absolutely no reason to doubt him now.

Labels:

60 Comments:

Blogger Nate April 20, 2016 11:13 AM  

This was never going to end any other way. Star Citizen is the Enron of the gaming world.

Anonymous Jack Amok April 20, 2016 11:20 AM  

Scoping things down to the MVP is what you have to do before the bulk of the development starts and most importantly, before you do your dog-and-pony shows.

Roberts didn't do that? Was there a key producer that kept him on track twenty years ago who isn't around any longer?

Anonymous fop April 20, 2016 11:21 AM  

Time to call in Chuck Tingle and Zoe Quinn.

Blogger VD April 20, 2016 11:22 AM  

Roberts didn't do that? Was there a key producer that kept him on track twenty years ago who isn't around any longer?

That's my suspicion too. He's an excellent designer, but possibly the worst producer in the industry. And it appears his brother is unable to keep him in line and on target.

Blogger S1AL April 20, 2016 11:25 AM  

"So, really what we’re doing with Star Citizen is we’re working on the game, adding features for an incredibly ambitious design – I don’t think there is any other game that is trying to do as much as we’re trying to do."

Look, we can bring the Star Citizen dream back. That I will tell you. Okay? And I get that from so many people, 'Is the Star Citizen dream dead? They are asking me the question, 'Is the Star Citizen dream dead?' And the Star Citizen dream is in trouble. That I can tell you. Okay? The dream is in trouble. But we're going to get it back and do some real design. What about that Jan with the beautiful platinum account? Stand up! Stand up! What an account!

Blogger Nate April 20, 2016 11:29 AM  

make star citizen great again?

Anonymous Broken Arrow April 20, 2016 11:32 AM  

Game development has to have a constant state of urgency to stay on target. There's a giant called "Running Out of Money" chasing every development team and if the members start looking at the shiny instead of producing a game as quickly as feasible they will be crushed. Every time.

Anonymous Eduardo April 20, 2016 11:36 AM  

Hey Vox XD, ever heard of Interstellar Marines? You should give a look at it see if it is interesting.
this game seems a lot like what they want to do... BIG, FULL OF CONTENT, FULL OF FEATURES, Well you know just like Texas.

Of course this other game is not as big as Star Citizen but the idea to create things that are really big and are not mainstream are all there.

Now seriously, These people sound like me, they are All dreams, big dreams; but when they try, problems arise; so just double down!!!!

XD

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 20, 2016 11:42 AM  

How is this crash similar to Curt Schilling's company going down in flames?

Anonymous Elipe April 20, 2016 11:47 AM  

I am entertained.

Never put even $0.01 into SC.

Some people have actually pulled a Berniebot and donated a huge chunk of their savings to it.

Such people... entertain me when they crash and burn hard. Double down harder, plzkthx.

Anonymous Holmwood April 20, 2016 11:50 AM  

"How is this crash similar to Curt Schilling's company going down in flames?"

Too much money too quickly coupled with a visionary in control rather than someone who could produce and execute.

Brad McQuaid's Vanguard, Saga of Heroes is another great example.

Blogger Christopher Yost April 20, 2016 11:58 AM  

So, what, SC will be released as most (if not all) of a base game and Derek is trying to get people up in arms that it won't contain all DLC's and other promised future content immediately.

Derek is too hopeful in an SC failure so overblows everything that he cherry-picks.

That and his past history makes unreliable, at best, as a sane source of material.

Anonymous Viidad April 20, 2016 12:02 PM  

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

Anonymous ZhukovG April 20, 2016 12:04 PM  

Star Citizen isn't a game it's a freaking religion.

Anonymous RedJack April 20, 2016 12:14 PM  

Honestly, I am disappointed but not surprised.

Anonymous Elipe April 20, 2016 12:15 PM  

@12 Wait, are we talking about Hangar Citizen: The Game?

Sounds....... fun. And worth $112 million dollars!

/s

OpenID gnossoss April 20, 2016 12:18 PM  

I'm pretty sure everyone who starts making a game is just as ambitious as Chris Roberts. Probably everyone on the game dev blog has just as much desire to shoot for the moon.

The difference is that pros are supposed to know the limitations -- those of their staff, time, money, and technology.

Being ambitious when making a game is easy; I was ambitious when I made games on my TI-89. But I ran into limits -- my programming skill and the technology I was working with. Ambition in game design is not a virtue. It's a vice unless you have a real plan to build what you imagine, and a real willingness to accept reasonable limits as long as you can still reach your goal.

Blogger Christopher Yost April 20, 2016 12:23 PM  

@16 -

You could have made a crack using the combat module instead of the hanger module.

You would have been more honest, at least, in your dishonesty. ;)

Anonymous Jack Amok April 20, 2016 12:39 PM  

A quad-A MMORPG is the most expensive type of game to make. You should never try to make one with a new team. You need a pretty well-oiled machine that knows what it's doing to ship one and keep it afloat long enough to give it a chance at success.

OpenID denektenorsk April 20, 2016 12:44 PM  

Roberts didn't do that? Was there a key producer that kept him on track twenty years ago who isn't around any longer?

That's my suspicion too. He's an excellent designer, but possibly the worst producer in the industry. And it appears his brother is unable to keep him in line and on target.


Publisher pressure and milestone payments? WC3 was I'd imagine a pretty costly project for the time with all of the FMV over multiple CDs and recognized actors.

OpenID basementhomebrewer April 20, 2016 12:46 PM  

Project Management 101.

1.) Realistically scope the project and viciously attack suggestions of scope creep during the initial phase of the project. (phase/version II, III or IV should become part of your regular vocabulary).


2.) MANAGE EXPECTATIONS!!!!!!

You manage to pull those two things off and the rest usually falls into place as long as you have a semi-competent team. Most of that additional scope people dreamed up can usually become reality after the launch of the original scoped project as long as the project was worthwhile.

Anonymous Anonymous April 20, 2016 12:55 PM  

If Derek had more to work with than "I have a source that tells me all my rambling is right" I might be more inclined to give his words so of my time.

But considering how often he's been wrong "the entire thing will collapse in 6 months!" I think it's wise to just follow the lead of the entire video games industry and forget Derek Smart exists.

Anonymous Steve April 20, 2016 12:58 PM  

Daikatana, Rise of the Robots, Duke Nukem Forever, DayZ...

Star Citizen is going to be the new king of ridiculously overhyped and ultimately crap games.

Blogger John M April 20, 2016 1:00 PM  

Holmwood wrote:"How is this crash similar to Curt Schilling's company going down in flames?"

Too much money too quickly coupled with a visionary in control rather than someone who could produce and execute.

Brad McQuaid's Vanguard, Saga of Heroes is another great example.


Kingdoms of Amalur was a cool game, it's not a great game and probably not a good one but it was a game that had a lot going for it and is certainly worth a play. Chris Roberts can only dream about Star Citizen achieving as much as Kingdoms of Amalur did.

Blogger John M April 20, 2016 1:01 PM  

Holmwood wrote:"How is this crash similar to Curt Schilling's company going down in flames?"

Too much money too quickly coupled with a visionary in control rather than someone who could produce and execute.

Brad McQuaid's Vanguard, Saga of Heroes is another great example.


Kingdoms of Amalur was a cool game, it's not a great game and probably not a good one but it was a game that had a lot going for it and is certainly worth a play. Chris Roberts can only dream about Star Citizen achieving as much as Kingdoms of Amalur did.

Blogger E April 20, 2016 1:01 PM  

I can understand why people think SC fans are passionate about their game, I myself have directly/indirectly contributed more than $10k/year, but I don't understand why Derek Smart has such a hangup. If he was simply writing his opinions ala Vox Day, I think he would gain more traction, but from piddling around on his website I see all these graphics trying to paint a picture of the underdog fighting against some ruthless empire...

As far as I'm concerned, it's going to be what it's going to be. It has been a nice creative outlet that got me interested in 3d modeling, blogging, crafts and such, and if it folded up I'd just keep playing other games with my wife. I like that Chris is a salesman (and designer), because a lot of my life has been inspired by people who might not have had the best plan, but roused me to try their way and then improve on it.

I haven't played SC since Christmas 2014, but been keeping up to it and contributing as I have. When they make a party system and I can play with my family I'll be more interested. I am disappointed that we haven't seen more of the game yet, but if they say they're working on it I still trust them. Why Derek Smart has his problem is beyond me, as it just seems like some SJW doing whatever they do, and as #12 says, I don't see how he's actually contributed to the providing me something I actually want to spend my money on.

Till then, I'm having a great time with my wife on Fractured Space!

Anonymous Eduardo April 20, 2016 1:17 PM  

DayZ... an overhyped crappy game.

Dude that time where my friend convinced to buy a walking simulator called DayZ. Oh all that money down the drain.

Well at least Fargo did the Wasteland II game, and it is pretty good so not all good stuff is lost. it is just that the new stuff ain't good, and what is good ain't new ;-)

Anonymous Silly but True April 20, 2016 1:53 PM  

@Schilling / Amalor,

Curt invested $50m of his own money in 38 Studios - a total loss for him. But, he claimed that the Kingdoms of Amalor intellectual property and completed work was worth $1b _billion_.

Right, I now know his intended plan for his ROI, if only a smart investor agreed with it's worth... And played ball.

Blogger James Brand April 20, 2016 1:53 PM  

Sorry but anybody who thinks Derek Smart is either credible or has even the slightest bit knowledgeable about anything to do with GameDev or running a business is the most idiotic,brainless fucktard in the history of the universe.The man is a fraud a failure and a Scam Artist that is considered akin to a lepper and a Cancer by the gaming industry.

Nobody with half a brain will hire Derek or take on any of his IP's just look at how Alganon has flatlined, and now he's pulling his Line of Defense off Steam before Valve kicks him off.So don't be surprised if your criticism is instantly dismissed followed by the internet equivelent of a boot to the nuts the moment you try using his already disproven arguments or talking points

Anonymous Nathan April 20, 2016 2:10 PM  

@28,

Where have his points been disproven? All I've seen are attempts to discredit the man, rather than rebuttals of his message.

Anonymous ZhukovG April 20, 2016 2:15 PM  

I don’t give a rat’s ass about Derek Smart or Chris Roberts. Just looking at what is publicly known about SC, and its development history, will allow any neutral observer to rationally conclude that this is the PC Game equivalent to Scientology.

Blogger Josh April 20, 2016 2:18 PM  

I myself have directly/indirectly contributed more than $10k/year

Why?

Anonymous Bob the Builder April 20, 2016 2:43 PM  

1- He claimed numerous times that the project would fail in 6 months (January 2016 being the projected date), the project is still on going.

2-Claimed that the Austin office was shutting down, it has not. He now claims it runs a skeleton staff, but no proof.

3-Claimed 2.0 in December would be smoke and mirrors or have none of the features it currently does. He was wrong.

4-Claimed space to ground transition was impossible for any game (especially Star Citizen) for another 10 years. They showed it, twice

He does have some points here and there but a majority of his arguments boil down to "I have a source that claims what I say is right" then either says he was misquoted or bans you when proven wrong

Blogger E April 20, 2016 3:03 PM  

Josh: "Why?"

Why not? It's been a net plus for me (LTI used to be a very hot item). My promotional activities alone have netted CIG most of it, as you can see by this date-appropriate image: http://imgur.com/0nszJ99

Anonymous RedJack April 20, 2016 3:18 PM  

I still find this a fascinating example of project management, and the pitfalls of not doing it right.

Anonymous BGKB April 20, 2016 3:23 PM  

Wait, are we talking about Hangar Citizen: The Game? Sounds....... fun. And worth $112 million dollars!

More like Hanger Decorator. I just couldn't see myself playing a game that I knew people had spent $20,000+ real world dollars more than me on ways to gank me.

Star Citizen is going to be the new king of ridiculously overhyped and ultimately crap games.

Maybe they will come out with a Depression Quest ad on or DLC that people can buy while they are exploring their hanger.

I myself have directly/indirectly contributed more than $10k/year

Did you get more enjoyment out of it than getting a $20 BJ from a home depot wetback. That would be 1.369 per day.

Blogger E April 20, 2016 3:54 PM  

BGKB: "Did you get more enjoyment out of it than getting a $20 BJ from a home depot wetback. That would be 1.369 per day."

Well, I usually go for building supplies when I'm going to Home Depot. I'll just have to infer from your experience and say, yes, it's been more satisfying (and probably with less risk of contracting disease).

Blogger Ron April 20, 2016 4:09 PM  

@Bob

Forgive me for asking, but are you the same Bob who is famous for creating character templates on NWN2db.com?

Blogger Zen Trader April 20, 2016 4:19 PM  

Another game that comes to mind is Duke Nukem Forever. I can't believe nobody has mentioned that, actually, as it is a great parallel. The creator of the Duke Nukem series had some huge successes, and then decided that with his new resources he'd create the ultimate shooter. This led to mission creep - every innovation or new tech had to be grafted onto the existing architecture.

It ended up taking 15 years to release. The title was announced in '97 and it came out in June of 2011.

That happened because the creator kept expanding the vision and chasing perfection, just like what is happening with Star Citizen.

Expanding the universe is what sequels are for!

Anonymous Ulmer Miller April 20, 2016 4:23 PM  

I remember watching a 10 for the Chairman (or something similar) where Chris Roberts said he chose to go with CryEngine over the Unreal Engine because he felt the visuals in CryEngine were more realistic or something to that effect. I think he literally looked at the art styles for a CryTek and an Epic in-house developed game like Gears of War, compared it to Crysis 3, and said "Yup, those Crysis 3 blokes have more realistically proportioned character models!" and the rest is history. That was probably the extent of his thought into it.

Blogger Gabriel Calderon April 20, 2016 5:09 PM  

So Star Citizen is impossible as it is now? Um..... Elite: Dangerous......

Anonymous Bob the Builder April 20, 2016 5:31 PM  

Unfortunately no, he sounds much more interesting than me

Anonymous Spartacus xxxxx April 20, 2016 5:38 PM  

E wrote:Josh: "Why?"

Why not? It's been a net plus for me (LTI used to be a very hot item). My promotional activities alone have netted CIG most of it, as you can see by this date-appropriate image: http://imgur.com/0nszJ99


Pardon me if I'm mis-interpreting. This looks like the profile of an early investor in a Ponzi or MLM scheme. The early investors make out, that's why a pyramid scheme (Federal Reserve, SSI) has legs.

Is SC more like the Enron of games or more like Social Security?

Blogger Silly But True April 20, 2016 5:44 PM  

Also worth noting that there's a problem when you label your own chance of delivering the MVP - the damn _minimum viable_ product - as an 11 on a 1 to 10 difficulty scale.

They've not yet delivered even a 4.

Blogger E April 20, 2016 6:22 PM  

It's just a simple buy it cheap, sell it high. There wasn't any "investing" outside of that. How I did it was bought in early (about a year after the earliest backers) and invested a few grand into small ship packages. After a long-announced cutoff/price increase on the packages, you could sell them for double/triple what you paid. I got everything I could ever want and still cleared 8k. When it first started you could buy the complete basic package for $20, then $30, $40, $45 and now $60. They've stated since forever that 60 would be the final price, and now it's here.

It used to be that a $20 Aurora would go for $170 on the grey-market. I cleared out my inventory before even that. Nowadays the resale market is so saturated that you can buy the game for less than what you can pay for it from CIG directly.

The "referral" system didn't come out until about half a year ago, I've been doing my thing since a long time before then. It doesn't award you anything outside of in-game items, but I thought it was a nice touch because now I can see how broadly I've promoted CIG.

Blogger Ron April 20, 2016 6:48 PM  

@Bob

Ah, yes he is quite ingenius.

Blogger Gerald Groy April 20, 2016 8:01 PM  

E sounds completely insane. I'm genuinely sorry and I hope things work out for you.

Anonymous Bob the Builder April 20, 2016 8:14 PM  

You don't agree with what he does with his time and money, thus he is insane?

Blogger Were-Puppy April 20, 2016 9:06 PM  

@10 Elipe

Some people have actually pulled a Berniebot and donated a huge chunk of their savings to it.

Such people... entertain me when they crash and burn hard. Double down harder, plzkthx.
---

Back home we call those Bernouts

Blogger Were-Puppy April 20, 2016 9:09 PM  

@17 gnossoss

I'm pretty sure everyone who starts making a game is just as ambitious as Chris Roberts. Probably everyone on the game dev blog has just as much desire to shoot for the moon.
---

From what I learned, the problem is he is more of a designer. And he is in an incompatible role of being a producer. Or maybe he is doing both. But it isn't working.

You need the ambition, but you also need the reality check. Someone has to know where to draw the line, and say "This is what we are making".

When all those other great ideas keep bubbling up, they should be kept aside for an expansion or a new game.

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 20, 2016 9:33 PM  

I think the early bigger investors actually got more than their money's worth. They bought access to a multimillion game operation. The production of a functional $24.99 game was nearly irrelevant.

You don't spend 10 grand a year to preorder a really cool game. No, those guys bought, and received, something else.

OpenID gnossoss April 20, 2016 9:49 PM  

@49

My point is that he's selling ambition as a virtue, as though being ambitious was unique, something he had to offer. But I'm pretty sure anyone who ever made a game was extremely ambitious.

What most of us lacked was a professional-level understanding of what was possible given our limitations, and the ability to create a plan to get from our resources to an ambitious but functional finished product. That's actually something an expert could reasonably offer.

I'm sure producers are heavily involved in scoping your project, but obviously the design needs to reflect what's possible as well, and it seems like it doesn't here. I can write a big long list of features I want and start coding something too, but if you don't have a decent plan and scope at the beginning you're going to end up spending time and money on a lot of code that will get scrapped later.

Anonymous VFM #6306 April 20, 2016 10:13 PM  

Every company should be so lucky as to have a free critic like Derek Smart, especially if he is wrong

Blogger Kentucky Packrat April 20, 2016 11:25 PM  

I think the early bigger investors actually got more than their money's worth. They bought access to a multimillion game operation. The production of a functional $24.99 game was nearly irrelevant.

You don't spend 10 grand a year to preorder a really cool game. No, those guys bought, and received, something else.


That's the fundamental problem. These people aren't investors. They aren't buying stock or ownership. At most, they are buying "rights" to in-game "properties". Yes, E may have managed to flip his ships for a profit, but he's at the same level as the fellow who sold his tulips early, or who suckered the next guy in line with Mississippi Company stocks. There is just no real value in any of the "assets" people are spending real money to buy in the game world.

Blogger E April 21, 2016 12:56 AM  

Gerald Groy wrote:E sounds completely insane. I'm genuinely sorry and I hope things work out for you.

You're sorry that I made a lot of money and was inspired to teach myself a lot of skills like webhosting, 3d printing, blogging etc?

VFM #6306 wrote:I think the early bigger investors actually got more than their money's worth. They bought access to a multimillion game operation. The production of a functional $24.99 game was nearly irrelevant.

You don't spend 10 grand a year to preorder a really cool game. No, those guys bought, and received, something else.


I've got, what, 12 ships? Not even the big ones (the Idris Frigate, Javelin Destroyer, etc) although I may spring for a Corvette when it comes out. I can't speak for the people who got the 10-20K packages, but I've seen people spend more trying to trick out a POS car and I'm not going to comment on them either. It has been a pretty sweet ride, though, and I feel like if it rises or falls it will be an unforgettable experience.

OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 April 21, 2016 7:18 AM  

There's that word "functionality".
It's right up there on MY list with "intersectionality" as a red flag for-
WEASEL: Disconnect.
CaptDMO

OpenID denektenorsk April 21, 2016 9:56 AM  

I would love to play Star Citizen... I would hate to work on it. I've coordinated with remote offices (some international English is a second language offices) on a few game developments and despite what the betters say, it ALWAYS adds problems.

In my experience most large game companies/teams breakdown into mini-fiefdoms. This is inevitably a result of weak or passive leadership. They know how to make a game, they do not know how to manage people and let problems linger for far too long.

Mix in a physical barrier and it almost always breaks down into our team/office is better than their team/office (obviously my team/office WAS better). Add an especially weak leader and the transparent manouvering for favours/influence comes out and is barely disguised at times. After all, it's not like the weak leader will do anything about it.

I can imagine they are losing a lot of time herding cats and at least some time to political maneuvering depending on how tight a ship they are able to run across multiple offices/time zones.

Now mix in a completely unrealistic amount of scope (we really are talking about unicorns here) and the project has been doomed from day 1.

OpenID denektenorsk April 21, 2016 10:21 AM  

So Star Citizen is impossible as it is now? Um..... Elite: Dangerous......

Elite Dangerous very nearly went the way of SC. It was only after Zoo Tycoon shipped and the Eye of Sauron switched to the next project (ED) that they realized how f#$ked they were.

At one point during development it was supposed to be an always connected experience. No matter where players were in the world they would be in the same virtual world. There is this thing called latency... but whatever. The server/backend expertise on the team was non-existant and basically amounted to a mentality of running it on a laptop in the corner somewhere. The web dev guys who knew better were loosing their minds but the personalities on the team were having none of it. I had been involved in provisioning AWS backends for an asynchronous game at another company just before this and shook my head at their naivity. They didn't know what they didn't know and they were not going to learn anything either. I wasted my breath on two occassions and then focused on shipping the game I was on.

To their credit, David Walsh is a business man and knows how to keep the ship afloat. He is a good counterbalance to David Braben who is more the ideas man. The staff on the ground in Cambridge tend to dis DW behind his back but they couldn't manage their way out of a wet paperbag let along a several hundred person PRIVATE developer (they are now public and on the London stock exchange) so grumble away.

They fired the lead programmer (IMO they didn't cut deep enough but one man can only do so much) in Dec 2013. Fast forward to Feb 2014 and they are charging more money for open beta access. The reason? The team pissed away the budget and had a visual slice of combat, and features in various states of being integrated with no shippable game. The project was about to go bankrupt.

They managed to secure more whales who bought into the beta, ruthlessly cut scope and shipped the game. They have since built on it in an incremental fashion to what you see today.

To the player it looks like a success. To the staff in the company it was left to reinvent everything for far too long and was quite close to becoming a major embarassment for the company. Frontier has a lot of fiefdoms within and they strongly aligned along the tech team who at the time was on Elite vs the rest of the company. The rest of the company did far too much tech wank (because COBRA engine on every platform yo') but were in general far better at reuse and shipping games on insanely tight deadlines. E.g. Zoo Tycoon (an Xbone launch title) was made in 7 months. Ironically, part of the reason it did ship on time was it didn't reuse networking from Elite which made the proverbial ball of spaghetti look well organized and thought out.

Blogger Ahazuerus April 22, 2016 10:00 AM  

"There is just no real value in any of the "assets" people are spending real money to buy in the game world."

There's no such thing as real value; there's only subjective opinions. It's worth what someone will pay for it.

Blogger Trid April 22, 2016 12:51 PM  

I paid 60.00 and all I got was a shiny green plastic card.

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