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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Condition Red

Derek Smart chronicles the growing industry awareness that not all is right in the Star Citizen universe:
For Star Citizen, the elephant in the room in terms of tech, is this notion that somehow a twitch-based game designed to be instanced, and which can’t even get more than 10 clients in a session without very bad things happening, is going to turn into an MMO. But back in Nov 2012 (when he was seeking funding for the project) when Chris Roberts wrote this missive about multiplayer and instancing, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that this guy – who hadn’t made a game in almost 15 years at the time –  really believed that what he was writing and dreaming about, was in fact possible. Hint: it’s not. Like over 90% (at last count) of everything he has said/promised about this project in order to get funding, it’s pure and utter horse shit. And back in July 2015, one of the devs actually added his own thoughts which then made it painfully clear that not only were they winging it – which is the basis for R&D btw – but that they also had absolutely no clue how they were going to actually do it.

As of this writing, not much has changed since then; neither in the underlying network architecture, nor the instancing part of it.

As an experienced software engineer, I tell you – flat out – that inter-instance communication described in this manner – and for the game pitched – is not only improbable, but it’s also the sort of thing that fairy dust is made of. And we’re not talking about the ability for a database in one server instance to talk to another database (e.g. user) in another instance. That’s pretty trivial (we’ve done just that in Line Of Defense btw) and rudimentary.  No, we’re talking about the ability for one game instance (A) with players, to communicate with another game instance (B) that also has players. As that is the only way that you’re ever going to get Tom on A to see/communicate with Harry on B. Before you even go that far, know this, in order for that to even work, you need to have a unified and persistent universe that acts as the “play” area for Tom and Harry.

Before you say Eve Online has done it; don’t – they haven’t. If you’re a programmer, go ahead and read up on the EO architecture (1, 2) – which btw has been drastically improved upon over the years. That EO bespoke architecture was built from the ground up as part of the engine and for a specific game. A game that’s not twitch-based or anywhere near the fidelity of the seamless architecture that Star Citizen is shooting for.

Simply put, without a seamless inter-instance communication backend, there is no Star Citizen MMO. Like ever. And while Chris was flat out of his depths and just making shit up, Alex on the other hand outlined how it could be done. Theoretically. See the difference between those two accounts of the same thing? While you’re at it, this is the list of games made with CryEngine. Count the number of standard MMO games which have actually been completed and released.

As I write this blog in the middle of May 2016, not only do they not have a persistent universe to speak of, but they still have serious issues with instances hosting more than 10 clients. Not only that, as an instanced game, the chances of you and your buddies to be in the same instance are next to impossible. This is not a game whereby you fire up a server browser, join a server, then tell you friends to come to that server before it fills up. Nor is it a game whereby you can spin up your own private server – which they also promised btw.

The sad part of all this? They were never supposed to be building an MMO to begin with. Somewhere along the line, despite saying it wasn’t an MMO, Chris decided they were going to build one after all. Just like that.
There is more being discussed at Guard Frequency, including what could be a very important date of 31 May 2016.

Labels:

87 Comments:

Anonymous VFM #6306 May 24, 2016 11:40 AM  

Oh. Crikey.

Something Smart does not get enough credit for is his empathy for Chris. This is basically the Hindenburg sinking the Titanic amidst the Great Chicago Fire, and yet Smart takes the time to explain exactly what Mrs. O'leary's cow was thinking when she kicked the lantern.

Blogger doug whiddon May 24, 2016 11:41 AM  

why couldnt they just build this game on an existing engine? (bear in mind i dont know much about Star Citizen)

Anonymous VFM #6306 May 24, 2016 11:43 AM  

They have. CryEngine.

Blogger YIH May 24, 2016 11:49 AM  

Must-see pic.
Obligatory Chuck Tingle reference.

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 12:02 PM  

Cryengine is not built for this kind of game. MW:O has already proven that.

Anonymous Broken Arrow May 24, 2016 12:03 PM  

Wasn't this instance issue in an MMO one of the big problems with SWTOR? They promised 40+ on 40+ battles but it was a laggy mess?

Blogger Ingot9455 May 24, 2016 12:16 PM  

World of Warcraft has done extensive research in this area. They use 'zoning' of quest areas to manage some things, and they play with ranges as you cross from one zoned area to another.
But when you want to play with a friend and join them in a group, they pull you into their instance or you pull them into yours.

Warframe, the third person shooter space ninja parkour gun ballet, exclusively uses instances with no more than 4 players.

Anonymous Alice De Goon May 24, 2016 12:23 PM  

About the only "game" that has any sort of experience with putting users in an instanced, shared world that changes based on player actions is Second Life, and that's a laggy mess. Don't get me wrong, it can be a nice walking SIM if you have a good enough video card and there are only a few people per area...

Blogger Nate May 24, 2016 12:35 PM  

couldn't they just do the fireteam thing that Destiny does? 5 man fireteams which would keep the whole team together in the same instance?

The deal breaker of course is the fact that they are having trouble with 10 people in an instance. 10 people is nothing in MMO land.

Anonymous FP May 24, 2016 12:59 PM  

WoW has had cross server play for 3-4 years now in various ways. Even with 40 man world boss raids. Those are just laggy because its 40+ people on screen.

But Blizzard has been working with this stuff for 12+ years now.

The sad thing is, if Roberts had just given us a new space sim to start, they might have had a chance at creating something great over the next decade.

Blogger Robert Coble May 24, 2016 1:04 PM  

I'm outside of the gamedev universe, and retired from the programming wars. Observing the hard "sell" of Star Citizen and the continually inflating promises (featuritus), I expected scope creep and schedule delays to eventually kill it. I was reminded of Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.s classic The Mythical Man-Month containing his essays on software engineering, particularly Chapter 5. The Second-System Effect. In essence, it is that all those brilliant alternatives that were thought about but not incorporated into an earlier (perhaps first SUCCESSFUL) system get carried over and attempted in the second (or perhaps a subsequent) system. Usually, that is a recipe for scope creep and (eventually) disaster for any large scale system.

As chess Grandmaster Savielly Tartokower said, “The mistakes are there, waiting to be made.

"Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them." (paraphrase of) George Santayana

The more things change, the more they remain the same in large software development projects.

Blogger Student in Blue May 24, 2016 1:05 PM  

WoW has had cross server play for 3-4 years now in various ways. Even with 40 man world boss raids. Those are just laggy because its 40+ people on screen.

That's because they make new instances and pull those players into it.

It's not the same as inter-instance communication.

Anonymous Eduardo May 24, 2016 1:07 PM  

U_____U just do a solid single player. U_U multiplayer is soooo 20th century man

Blogger Nate May 24, 2016 1:08 PM  

"The sad thing is, if Roberts had just given us a new space sim to start, they might have had a chance at creating something great over the next decade."

exactly.

I've long believed Destiny may well eventually be what Star Citizen aspired to be.

OpenID b1bae96e-6447-11e3-b6bb-000f20980440 May 24, 2016 1:08 PM  

Pretty sure Tom Clancey's The Division allows for group chat across instances. Or is that not the type of instancing that is being described here?

Will Best

Anonymous VFM #6306 May 24, 2016 1:09 PM  

That is the point. They built a twitch reflex game on CryEngine and now are promising to deliver an MMO.

This is akin to building a skyscraper and then promising to host the World Cup in its cubicles.

Anonymous Athor Pel May 24, 2016 1:29 PM  

Can't get more than ten people in an instance. That's sad.

I understand Eve is doing what it's doing because it really isn't a real time game. Players don't aim their own weapons, they tell the weapons to shoot at the pirate and then the weapons start shooting. It's algorithmic combat not hand eye coordination combat. But still, Eve is multiple orders of magnitude beyond other MMO's in terms of number of combatants per encounter. That's not just a few more or a tens more but hundreds more at normal game speed and thousands more in time dilation.

Even Planetside 2 holds the following record, "A grand total of 1,158 players joined in on the carnage. That's right: over a thousand people were in the same game, playing the same match, at the same time. - quote from: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/28798/20150126/planetside-2-breaks-record-for-number-of-players-in-a-single-game.htm#sthash.IX6kudoB.dpuf"

Planetside 2 is a first person shooter just like the ship to ship combat promised in Star Citizen.

WTF. We know what's possible and the trade offs needed to get there. Why can't Roberts and company get their shit in gear?

Blogger John S May 24, 2016 1:31 PM  

Sounds more like Stump Citizen (it's your turn to climb on in the "cockpit" suck... er, pilot!).

Elite: Dangerous with a thrustmaster hotas x is pretty fun, though.

Anonymous Athor Pel May 24, 2016 1:38 PM  

Inter-instance communicaiton sounds like a party in two rooms, men in one room and women in the other with only a single tiny window between the rooms. That's not a party anybody would want to go to.

Blogger Nate May 24, 2016 1:40 PM  

"We know what's possible and the trade offs needed to get there. Why can't Roberts and company get their shit in gear?"

No.

Because 2/3rds through the construction of the sky scraper they decided they were building a football stadium.

So they either have to tear it all down and start over... or build the world's shittiest football stadium.

Blogger bob k. mando May 24, 2016 1:53 PM  

so, i've been considering this whole question of, "Why Billings?"

and i think i've reached a conclusion ...

Billings lies east of big, beautiful Butt(e) Montana.

Billings lies west of Dick-in-son North Dakota.

coincidence? i don't think so.

Blogger Jack Aubrey May 24, 2016 1:53 PM  

@17 EVE-Online's high water mark is 65,303 players logged into the server at the same time (this was in 2013). IIRC the largest fleet battle had more than 4000 players participating. Even though Eve isn't twitch-based, you'd think Start Citizen could figure out how to get more than 10 players interacting.

Blogger John S May 24, 2016 1:53 PM  

Also "Cryengine"...

It will indeed be the engine behind much crying in this case.

Unintentional comedy is... sublime!

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 1:58 PM  

Cryengine can make great, visually stunning, single player games... It was not designed for MMO's.

Blogger Alexandros May 24, 2016 2:35 PM  

Derek is wrong on his assertions: Planetside 2 is twitch based, has decent FPS mechanics, and at its height supported 600 players a side (across three sides) on each of the game's continents.

The massive battles our outfit fought in had hundreds of players on screen at any given time, including our own regular contribution of about one hundred and twenty players.

While it's probably not feasible with an engine that isn't built from the ground up to support this sort of play (cryengine is not), it's been done before.

This is of course ignoring the commercial failure of Planetside 2, but one quick search of #Buzzwasright will point out where that game went wrong.

Blogger SirHamster May 24, 2016 3:18 PM  

Alexandros wrote:Derek is wrong on his assertions: Planetside 2 is twitch based, has decent FPS mechanics, and at its height supported 600 players a side (across three sides) on each of the game's continents.

Which specific assertions by Derek are you contradicting?

Anonymous LLC May 24, 2016 3:23 PM  

Star Wars Galaxies managed 100+ players in PvP combat in space, which was all twitched. Ground-based performance was far worse (due to the level of customization that SWG allowed, and the fact that all that data had to be managed), but space was relatively lagless even in major combat operations, all twitch-based. For that matter, lag in space was almost always due to NPCs, not players.

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 3:37 PM  

@27 ... and?

Blogger Alexandros May 24, 2016 3:47 PM  

@26
Which specific assertions by Derek are you contradicting?

The part where a twitch-based game can't be an mmo. We had that in both Planetside 1 and Planetside 2 with battles of hundreds of players spanning continents larger than what you see in traditional MMO's:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExotJEaqh_E&index=3&list=PLpih0xr3aLS-t7hIzDVgpn8PrENKttpk2

I'm not talking about the instancing; I have no idea what he refers to in that regard and I assume it's as hard a problem as Derek asserts. I'm curious as to what it entails, however.

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 3:57 PM  

You can have a twitch based MMO, but not built on single player FPS engines like Cryengine. Unreal does it better, but it's still not really built for it.

The industry has been polluted by pre-built engines which were designed for the WoW inspired plague of instanced, even-sided, small fights. To do a real "twitch" MMO you need to design an engine for it: Camelot Unchained

Blogger Bear Brubaker May 24, 2016 3:59 PM  

While I agree with his conclusions that Star Citizen is a Hindenburg of empty promises, you have to remember that he is coming at this from a place where he's mostly jealous that games like Star Citizen, EVE Online and No Man's Sky have fulfilled the promises of open world space combat gaming that Smart himself was never able to achieve.

He's a bitter, jealous old man who's ego is still latched up to an old DOS game that no one plays or cares about.

Star Citizen will happen and it will be great, even if they can't hit every one of their goals. EVE Online and No Man's Sky already do more than Battlecruiser 3000AD was ever able to accomplish and No Man's Sky did it with a 5-man-team working out of offices that were destroyed by floods.

Smart himself claimed for decades that he has a Ph.D. that he doesn't have. He's probably the last person I would turn to for an "insider" look at game development or the development of Star Citizen.

Blogger Alexandros May 24, 2016 4:01 PM  

Oh I see; I'm looking forward to Camelot Unchained—I hope they make it.

Anonymous krymneth May 24, 2016 4:16 PM  

@Bear, Derek is an interesting voice on this topic precisely because he's been down this road before, like very few others have. Insisting we shouldn't listen to him because of that is not the path to wisdom.

How much money do you have in the project? (Fair disclosure: I'm at $0. And I'm not particularly invested in its failure, either. I've got a backlog a mile long either way.)

Blogger Student in Blue May 24, 2016 4:23 PM  

The Hindenburg wasn't notable for "empty promises", but for crashing and failing spectacularly.

As for if it'll still "happen" and "be great"... if something gets released that is nothing like what was promised, how is that in any shape great if it can't fulfill its own goals? Can it even tick the checkbox of having happened, if the only thing it shares with what was promised is the name and a vague genre?

@Will Best
Pretty sure Tom Clancey's The Division allows for group chat across instances. Or is that not the type of instancing that is being described here?

Haven't had experience with The Division, so I can only describe WoW's system where you're effectively in an *instance* of a chatroom with people.

So Group A may be in a version of Duskwood, and Group B may be in a second version of Duskwood, but they're both in the same instance of the chatroom since that's a different system so to speak.

That singular instance of a chatroom is what I believe Derek is talking about when he mentions "in order for that to even work, you need to have a unified and persistent universe that acts as the “play” area for Tom and Harry."

Blogger Bear Brubaker May 24, 2016 4:25 PM  

I wouldn't put any money into Star Citizen until it is released. I'm not a backer. When they have a product I can buy, I'll buy it. I've only backed a couple of things on Kickstarter and while I got everything I every ordered, most stuff never seems to live up to the descriptions.

I try to stay away from that whole pre-backing thing now.

Smart has never been down this road, he has never developed a modern game or worked in a modern game studio. Roberts has a history of development and success that goes way beyond anything Mr. Smart has accomplished and he did it without spending two decades lying about having a Ph.D.

While I do agree that Star Citizen is a mountain of promises, it has at least a chance of being developed and looking to some bitter ex-DOS developer and expecting he has any insight into the development of Star Citizen is just foolish. He is like Jon Snow, he knows nothing.

Blogger Student in Blue May 24, 2016 4:29 PM  

Who cares about who he is, is what he's saying correct?

For even out of the mouth of babes can come wisdom.

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 4:43 PM  

@36 Well, SJW-esque folks always attempt to discredit the messenger, rather than address the message.

Blogger Snidely Whiplash May 24, 2016 4:44 PM  

@Bear
How's the Flav-R-Aid?

Smart knows how projects fail. We've all had failed projects of one kind or another. After a while you learn to detect the stench of death on a major project. I've never worked in game dev, but I have worked for decades in software development. Literally everything I've read by or about the Star Citizen project tells me it's going to fail. From the paranoia about negative opinions to doubling down on extravagant feature lists, it's clear to any software veteran it's failing.

Blogger Sun Xhu May 24, 2016 4:57 PM  

@38 but... .but... Derek Smart bad!!!!11!!one!!11!!Eleven!1!!

Blogger Jew613 May 24, 2016 5:03 PM  

The game has been in development for 4 years and cost 114 million dollars. I am not a programmer, but I would like to know how long and at what cost should it take to develop a MMO space sim?

Blogger SirHamster May 24, 2016 5:06 PM  

Alexandros wrote:The part where a twitch-based game can't be an mmo. We had that in both Planetside 1 and Planetside 2 with battles of hundreds of players spanning continents larger than what you see in traditional MMO's:


He didn't say that. He said that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent high fidelity world as promised by the SC devs can't be made.

You are inaccurately generalizing his specific claims.

Blogger SirHamster May 24, 2016 5:12 PM  

Bear Brubaker wrote:

Smart has never been down this road, he has never developed a modern game or worked in a modern game studio.


Smart is currently developing and selling a game called Line of Defense.

Would you like to retract your falsehood, or do you prefer to develop a No True Modern Game defense?

Anonymous BGKB May 24, 2016 5:21 PM  

To think some people spent over $20k on ships to get a head start on the game, and will never get to gank newbies with it.

Blogger Harsh May 24, 2016 5:58 PM  

Bear Brubaker wrote:Roberts has a history of development and success that goes way beyond anything Mr. Smart has accomplished and he did it without spending two decades lying about having a Ph.D.

So we're supposed to disregard the word of a man who actually understands the industry and instead listen to you, who are... well, nobody... that makes sense.

Anonymous thedereksmart May 24, 2016 5:58 PM  

Alexandros wrote:@26

Which specific assertions by Derek are you contradicting?

The part where a twitch-based game can't be an mmo.


Clearly you didn't read the article. Either that or you didn't understand it because I never made any such statement. In fact, quite on the contrary. You should probably read it again. Slowly this time.

Blogger Unknown May 24, 2016 6:05 PM  

Harsh wrote:
So we're supposed to disregard the word of a man who actually understands the industry and instead listen to you, who are... well, nobody... that makes sense.


personal attacks, defamation, and character assassinations are their form of rebuttal. yet, they're surprised that nobody takes them seriously, and the reason that articles like this keep popping up.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2015/12/14/with-100m-in-crowdfunding-star-citizen-may-not-be-a-scam-but-it-feels-like-a-cult/

It's all noise; and simply won't change the outcome of the project as stated.

Blogger John Williams May 24, 2016 6:24 PM  

@Bear, Some of us have gone the extra mile and seen Derek Smart interviewed on this topic. He understands the issues and can explain them clearly. It's not a knock against Chris Robert's abilities to program, it's a cold hard fact of what's possible with the current technology. Chris is a programmer, not a project manager.

You sound emotionally invested in Star Citizen's success. How much are you into it for?

Blogger VD May 24, 2016 7:22 PM  


Smart has never been down this road, he has never developed a modern game or worked in a modern game studio. Roberts has a history of development and success that goes way beyond anything Mr. Smart has accomplished and he did it without spending two decades lying about having a Ph.D.


You have no idea what you're talking about. Derek Smart has more time in the industry than Christ Roberts does; unlike Roberts he never left it. He has done many games since Battlecruiser 3000 AD, which was his very first game.

You are a liar and you are completely ignorant about both the game industry and the technical issues being discussed. Smart is correct, as you will learn before too much longer.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 24, 2016 7:28 PM  

Chat traffic is way less time critical than game state data in a twitch shooter. The chat servers can take their own sweet time (e.g. a couple of seconds) getting across. Game state gets laggy if ping goes over 50ms.

Anonymous FP May 24, 2016 7:41 PM  

"To think some people spent over $20k on ships to get a head start on the game, and will never get to gank newbies with it."

I have a friend who occasionally ribs me for my growing list of rarely or unplayed steam games. Two months ago he admitted to spending $1k on Star Citizen. Blew my mind that he would do that. Then again he was one of several who said I was being too negative about the game at its announcement in 2012.

Anonymous Eduardo May 24, 2016 7:49 PM  

Just 50 ms??? Now that is high bandwidth previlege bro!!!

Alright I admit... Played multiplayer with 110 ms for years and got used to it.

Although, Jack, seems a bit odd here, but I remember some games having no big issues with 80 ms of lag, while other games were umplayable at lower delays. Can't you just program your way out of these problems?

Anonymous Anonymous May 24, 2016 9:07 PM  

@VD you must be kidding right? CRobers modern game developer O.O

muhahahahahahahahahah.. .. .. inhale..... MUUUHAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

that was funny -_-

Blogger Lew Rand May 24, 2016 10:17 PM  

Predictive movement algorithms, sloppy hit boxes. Remember WOW has no real twitch skills (abilities aren't aimed, they are targeted so the amount of real time info is low.)

Planetside always had interesting issues but actually was very good about its predictive hits. Then again I spent most of the backend of it driving a Vanu tank and running people over.

Hell back in the 80s one of the best games I ever played had zero graphics but actually lots of moving parts (Netrek). Torpedoes counted as individual 'ships' and in big battles a lot of torps were flying. And for absolute silliness, read up on the Hockey mod for it. A surprisingly fun game where wounding was best and if you were close to death you tried to become pac man.

Anyway sounds like we have problems of too much information being broadcast per player or a central server that might be doing too much. But all I have is what I can guess from the complaints.

Blogger Dire Badger May 24, 2016 10:52 PM  

You can keep waiting for Star Citizen, or you can keep enjoying games like Empyrion-Galactic Survival (http://empyriongame.com/) Starmade (http://www.starmade.org) Space Engineers (http://www.spaceengineersgame.com/) and Interstellar Rift (http://www.interstellarrift.com/) All of which have many of the features Chris Roberts is bragging about, and all of which are at least in early release.

To be fair, between Interstellar Rift and Empyrion I get a full healthy helping of both sandbox survival/base building and interstellar trading/shipbuilding, both of which also have a quite decent first-person shooter embedded. I play starmade when I want to build incredibly cool epic spacecraft (it has the most creative potential for ships of all of the games) and space engineers when I want to be depressed and miserable playing a game.

Anonymous Eduardo May 24, 2016 11:37 PM  

Depresed and miserable playing a game? You sure you weren't playing Minecraft all alone with a bag of cheetos Dire Badger?

No? Oh cool. My bad carry on.

Anonymous Jack Amok May 24, 2016 11:56 PM  

I remember some games having no big issues with 80 ms of lag, while other games were umplayable at lower delays. Can't you just program your way out of these problems?

Depends on the game play really. Client prediction like Lew Rand mentioned can help some, but... at some point you either hit the guy or you didn't, and from his POV, he either got hit or his didn't, and your two client CANT disagree.

In general, the more twitch and the more real physix (I think it's a programming guild requirement to spell it that way) the game has, the bigger the challenge with lag.

You can program your way out of some of it, design your way out of the rest. Or handwave it and hope no one calls you one it, but that last one usually doesn't work.

Anonymous Eduardo May 25, 2016 12:13 AM  

Oh yeah! I remeber playing Future Soldier that used a peer-to-peer system to create the matches and maintain it. What a mess in terms of lag. Was the number one complain from all players. It is impossible to hide laggy games.

So they are basically trying to create the best game ever and then do a MMO or something like that? I really don't know the project since it is not my style of gaming, but this seems a bit absurd. Even those more simple console games, I could see all the work arounds to make the game less laggy and those games are easy to program all-around. Mannn I am curious now XD.

So Jack are you a fan of Star Citizen? Or similar games? Can't remember if you said it already...

Anonymous Jack Amok May 25, 2016 12:53 AM  

So Jack are you a fan of Star Citizen? Or similar games? Can't remember if you said it already...

I was a huge fan of Wing Commander (Robert's big hit, back in the day), and would love a worthy successor. Star Citizen could have been that, maybe, but...

... do you know how much a great idea and some nifty graphics are worth in the game business? Usually "nothing", but sometimes, I guess they're worth $114 million. Star Citizen looks like it's trying to be three or four different things - any one of them, well done, would be great, but as much as I like to see it succeed, I think it's too defocused and will never converge (in the good sense).

Anonymous Eduardo May 25, 2016 1:04 AM  

Yeah, the problem can be just like Metal Gear Rysing "revengeance!!!!!" Where the director just didn't know how to put the pieces together and the project just stalled because each department was going in one direction.

At least that is how Vox has been picturing the whole thing. Maybe there should be a head of staff overhauling. See if it gets things working again. I think I have wing commander here in my computer. I feel unconfortable with such games ñ_ñ, you know used to 2000's designs and all.

So is there a way to do some sort of a motion to ask Robert to re-think development paths or even release some functions or is he doubling-down at the current strategy despite criticism (I think Vox talked about it but you never know he might have changed his mind a little)

Blogger Ahazuerus May 25, 2016 2:18 AM  

"... they’d waste backer money with impugnity ..."

Wonderful new use of the term. But Star Citizen is a bust. I'm not a developer, I'm a project manager; this thing is dead.

Anonymous Anonymous May 25, 2016 2:40 AM  

Ah Vox the idiot spreading the hate, bile and idiotic rubbish from another idiot called Smart.

Nothing like a circle jerk eh fools?

Blogger Doc Rampage May 25, 2016 2:50 AM  

I wasn't convinced by Smart's argument at first, but I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations: with not-too-expensive specialized network hardware you could push through, say 100GB/sec (that GB, not G bits). If you want a frame rate of 60 frames per seconds, that means you have 1/60 of a second to transfer data and calculate the next state. Just for round numbers, lets say with the speed of calculation and possibly some overlap between calculation and data transmission, you have 1/100 of second for data transmission between frames. That lets you transfer around a GB of data for each frame update.

Hm. That seems like it's not a lot of data for a 3D scene graph in a multi-player game. But you don't have to copy the whole scene graph each time; you can do updates on an existing structure. But those updates take time, even ignoring transactional safety on multiple simultaneous updates to a shared structure. You wouldn't have time for a two-phase commit between the servers. In fact you would pretty much have to restrict yourself to streaming communications--no back and forth. And you need to find a way to partition the data so that only one server can update a given piece of the data.

You would probably need an engine that is deterministic so that each engine could anticipate what the others would do. I doubt Cry Engine would be built that way because it would be hard to do and there aren't a lot of benefits beyond the kind of synchronization I'm talking about.

So, yeah. It's a really hard problem. Unless they have a couple of world-class experts in high-speed distributed systems (and high-speed client/server doesn't count because that's a much different problem), it would be a pretty amazing thing for them to do.

Blogger Dire Badger May 25, 2016 3:01 AM  

@Eduardo-
"Depresed and miserable playing a game? You sure you weren't playing Minecraft all alone with a bag of cheetos Dire Badger?"

Us Writers and Artists sometimes have to get into a bad place. A hateful or punishing game like space engineers or the Long Dark occasionally helps you get to that place.

Blogger Alexandros May 25, 2016 4:13 AM  

@41
He didn't say that. He said that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent high fidelity world as promised by the SC devs can't be made.

I understood that; my point is that Planetside is/was all those things. I presume Mr Smart is correct about all the other issues he cites, but he is wrong on specifically the point that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent, high fidelity world cannot work; it has already been accomplished:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZE1Rtl5mQo&list=PLMuo8YUyCbymGPau7cQmRxgN0m-VogOyM&index=14

For all its faults, Planetside succeeded in at least that regard.

Blogger rho May 25, 2016 4:33 AM  

You have no idea what you're talking about. Derek Smart has more time in the industry than Christ Roberts does; unlike Roberts he never left it. He has done many games since Battlecruiser 3000 AD, which was his very first game.

You are a liar and you are completely ignorant about both the game industry and the technical issues being discussed. Smart is correct, as you will learn before too much longer.


Being completely ignorant of the game industry and SF/F politics is actually a bonus. (N.b. Vox Day.)

Even if Derek Smart is right, the only people who care don't have anything better to do than agonize about a Kickstarter game.

I'll still point out that VD bailed on supporting VD's actual hardware.

Calling him an actionable liar, well--that's just for Internet fun.

Blogger Ahazuerus May 25, 2016 8:53 AM  

Go look at the Star Citizen funding page. Look at the targets and the associated promised features for each target.

Each target is marked as successful when the financial goal is reached. There's no mention, nor any evidence anywhere else, that any of the promises have been delivered. Not even the first one that was promised at 2.5 million or so.

The goal was to get money. In that sense Star Citizen is a resounding 3000 percent success.

But nothing worth having is ever going to emerge from this farce, except a wry chuckle for the onlookers...

Anonymous Athor Pel May 25, 2016 9:14 AM  

"Blogger Dire Badger May 24, 2016 10:52 PM
You can keep waiting for Star Citizen, or you can keep enjoying games like
...
Starmade (http://www.starmade.org)
...
I play starmade when I want to build incredibly cool epic spacecraft (it has the most creative potential for ships of all of the games)
...
"


Starmade is pretty fun. I really liked the ship building. The experimentation you do in building and rebuilding your ship as you learn what works and what doesn't is a big part of the enjoyment I get from the game.

Do you want to pull minerals out of asterroids and planets much much faster than you can with your single short range space suit mining laser? We can do that. Just put mining lasers on your ship, in fact, put more than one mining laser on your ship. Build out your power systems so you can power all those mining lasers. Then go hoover up a whole asteroid in a matter of minutes.

Can you feel the power?

Well, you did until you ran into a pack of pirates and they turned your ship into swiss cheese. You need better shields, some weapons and some armor. We can build those and we can put them on our ship. Of course we need to increase our power generation to support the weapons and shields.

Anonymous dsmart May 25, 2016 12:17 PM  

@alexandros

I understood that; my point is that Planetside is/was all those things. I presume Mr Smart is correct about all the other issues he cites, but he is wrong on specifically the point that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent, high fidelity world cannot work; it has already been accomplished:

No, you are still engaging in circular arguments and obfuscating what I said.

Since my first blog from back in July 2015, I have stated - specifically - that the game cannot be built as promised

And I have gone to great lengths, including in my latest blog, to explain why that is.

This has nothing to do with a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent, high fidelity world cannot work that you are claiming I said. I didn't say any of that, nor did I insinuate it.

It has to do with the engine they chose, instead of building one from scratch to support what they wanted to do. And to think that I went to great lengths to point that out in several blogs; including the latest one in which I tackled a specific issue "inter-instance communications" which is required for the TYPE OF GAME THEY WANT TO BUILD AS AN MMO

If you are going to engage me in technical discussions, you should start by actually understanding what I've stated, repeating it to yourself - then go read a good book on the subject.

I have been doing this hands-on for almost three decades, and I don't just write up stuff just because I have too much time on my hands.

If they were building a Planetside2 type game, that's different. They're not.

If they were building an Eve type game, that's different. They're not.

They've spec'ed out a monstrosity that is technically impossible because the person who came up with "dream", decided not to listen to the engineers whose job it was to make it possible.

They can't build it. They know it. I know it. They know that most of us tier one engineers, know it.

So all they're doing is prolonging the inevitable collapse, as they continue to make promises they can't keep, while selling assets for a game that cannot exist.

In fact, in the last 24hrs, some experienced Star Citizen game streamers, setup a 5v5 session. Now go watch it. Then go read my blog again.

And it was barely five months ago when Chris was slagging off Call Of Duty.

Listen, you don't have to like me, I don't care. I'm not running a popularity contest. As I stated in my blogs, and this GF podcast, my sole concern is the amount of money and goodwill that has now been taken out of the space combat genre, not to mention the damage this collapse (it's not a matter of if, but when) will cause to both this genre that I've spent THREE DECADES curating, but also crowd-funding in general.

That's my beef.

And if they didn't think I had valid concerns, they would have just ignored me, instead of taking on the one person in the industry who never saw a fight he didn't like. Leroy Jenkins has nothing on me.

So when you do stupid things like this:

http://www.dereksmart.org/forums/topic/gen/#post-3347

The end result should be expected.

Blogger SirHamster May 25, 2016 12:36 PM  

Alexandros wrote:He didn't say that. He said that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent high fidelity world as promised by the SC devs can't be made.

I understood that; my point is that Planetside is/was all those things


Which part of "as promised by the SC devs" do you find difficult to understand?

Is Planetside 2 a space sim shooter with the ability to travel between multiple planets to explore an open world?

Is Planetside 2 Star Citizen in disguise?


Alexandros wrote:I presume Mr Smart is correct about all the other issues he cites, but he is wrong on specifically the point that a multiplayer twitch shooter with a persistent, high fidelity world cannot work; it has already been accomplished:

Which part of "he didn't say that" do you not understand? Let's try a different exercise - quote the exact sentence by Smart that contains the assertion you're attempting to refute.

I'll note also that you originally claimed he was wrong on multiple assertions. Right now, you're only claiming one.

Blogger Bear Brubaker May 25, 2016 12:42 PM  

Nothing I said is inaccurate in the least. Youth is certainly wasted on the young. When you have been involved in game development and the online game community as long as I have, you understand that Derek Smart is on the wrong end of history. He's just a troll, and not even a very good troll at that.

Do your research on who this guy is and what he has been doing for decades and you will see that I'm right.

Vox you seem like a really bright guy, you wouldn't be the first person Smart has fooled though. Go do your research into that guy and you will see that I'm right.

Blogger Ahazuerus May 25, 2016 12:46 PM  

"wrong end of history"

Bullshit tell.

Blogger Student in Blue May 25, 2016 3:56 PM  

@Bear Brubaker

So... you have no actual answer for whether what he says is incorrect or not, and just base everything on "HE'S A BAD MAN"?

Yeah, go fuck off.

Blogger Alexandros May 25, 2016 4:28 PM  

@66
Listen, you don't have to like me, I don't care. I'm not running a popularity contest.

But I do like you; I know that a lot of your detractors have put you on edge and after a while anyone who comments in a way which seems against you looks the same. I apologize because it appears that my ignorant comment motivated you to become annoyed at this thread. None the less, please humor me further because, as you have noted, I don't follow Star Citzen's development.

I'm an outsider looking in; I'm commenting precisely because I am not a domain expert. I recognize your expertise in the field and your grasp of these concepts, but I'm only here to defend the concept of high fidelity twitch shooters being able to exist as an mmo with vast worlds to be explored, which I now recognize isn't what you were arguing. Planetside 2, though flawed and a failure, was special to my group and I thought there was ignorance of what it achieved in your article, though I now realize it was my own ignorance of Star Citizen instead.

I apologize for misinterpreting your article and causing you to spend time to correct me, but I do appreciate the time you took to do so!

Anonymous dsmart May 25, 2016 5:53 PM  

@alexandros

I apologize for misinterpreting your article and causing you to spend time to correct me, but I do appreciate the time you took to do so!

No worries. It happens. And we move on.

I get very irate when people chose to either attack me or obfuscate the facts at hand because it suits their purpose. It's the Internet, I'm used to it. But if I don't address it - especially in a venue where my peers are likely to see it - that's on me. And my choice to address it here, is because there are those (as seen already here) who would rather partake in meaningful discourse, rather than ad hominem attacks.

And because I know that if my fight with CIG ever sees a court room, they will (as they've done in the past through legal letters we've exchanged), try to use Internet urban legends to attack me, that's precisely why I wrote the detailed Gaming Urban Legend blog to give them - in my own words - a single point of material to quote and say that I lied, it goes to character blah, blah, blah. People read this crap somewhere, and choose to repeat it as fact because they can, and because it fits their agenda of attacking others without merit.

And yes, I have two PH.Ds - both in fields that speak directly to my body of work. And the two individuals who decided to inject that bullshit into unrelated legal suits we were engaged in, found out the hard way that when you accuse someone of something, you have to be ready to prove it - or you're in hardcore defamation and bankruptcy territory. I have spent quite a bit of time over the years teaching people hard lessons about how real life and Internet lols are two separate things. There's trolling (which, as an old school Internet denizen, I'm quite good at. Then there's flat out character assassination and defamatory conduct which some people (aka bullies) resort to when they can't engage in meaningful and respectful discourse. And it all goes back to their inferiority complex.

2/2

Anonymous Eduardo May 25, 2016 6:12 PM  

D. Smart

How hard would it be to reverse some of those decisions Dr. Smart???

Is there a way to negotiate with the backers, give them some real talk and maybe "re-design" the game? Or is the situation beyond salvation?

Anonymous dsmart May 25, 2016 7:46 PM  

@Eduardo

How hard would it be to reverse some of those decisions Dr. Smart???

Is there a way to negotiate with the backers, give them some real talk and maybe "re-design" the game? Or is the situation beyond salvation?


It's irreversible. Back in July 2015, in my first "Interstellar Citizens" blog, I had stated that to build the game they pitched would take over $150 million; and that there was simply no publisher or developer who would spend that kind of money on such a niche project.

We're at five years, $114 million raised. No game.

So, right now, there is no going back. If this were an internal project, it would have been canceled by now and the publisher taking a write down on the loss.

They are building two games now. Star Citizen (aka Persistent Universe) and Squadron 42; both of which have turned into a major undertaking, each in its own right.

So the only way forward is to roll back the plans and go back to the original promise of building an instanced session based game as Star Citizen, then ofc SQ42 which, since it doesn't have multiplayer, is feasible - depending on scale of the world that the story takes place in.

But it is highly unlikely that they will come forward and tell backers the truth because that would mean no more money. Why would backers keep buying JPEG of ships for a game the devs state cannot be made.

They are going to keep going, until the whole thing finally collapses. Any other way would be to admit defeat. And that would mean that backers paid $100 for a box, but barely got a $10 box - without a lid.

There is absolutely no version of this where it ends well. Neither game will be delivered as promised. And I'm already hearing that SQ42 has already been put on internal hold while all the devs go focus on fixing the issues in the PU, seeing as 2.4 has been an unmitigated disaster.

Anonymous dsmart May 25, 2016 7:48 PM  

@alexandros

I'm an outsider looking in; I'm commenting precisely because I am not a domain expert. I recognize your expertise in the field and your grasp of these concepts

Right. Then maybe you should have considered that right off the bat so that we can discuss the merits of the opinions I've stated, rather than engaging in disinformation.

but I'm only here to defend the concept of high fidelity twitch shooters being able to exist as an mmo with vast worlds to be explored, which I now recognize isn't what you were arguing.

Precisely.

Planetside 2, though flawed and a failure, was special to my group and I thought there was ignorance of what it achieved in your article, though I now realize it was my own ignorance of Star Citizen instead.

Indeed. Planetside 2 set the bar for those kinds of games.

Though I would argue that M.A.G did that years earlier - on the console; though not to the scope of PS2

And certainly my All Aspect Warfare game from 2009, did the same thing; but again, not to that "massive" PS2 scope, as it was non-instances session based, limited to 64 players.

And when I started to design Line Of Defense, right after AAW shipped, I knew that for that game, the game engines I had already built from scratch, simply couldn't pull it off. I started on a new engine. And nine months later, I made the decision to trash because we were just re-inventing the wheel. So we built a new game engine using various middleware and Havok suite as the baseline. And due to the technical requirements, we opted for a specific art style, eschewing the "fidelity" bullshit that CIG keeps touting in favor of game that actually worked as designed and scoped.

CIG chose CryEngine.

And so, five years, $114 million raised - and over 500+ people having worked on it, they still have a tech demo, no vertical slice and an instanced backend that will never - ever - become an MMO because there is no feasible way for them to build an MMO using inter-instanced communications with CryEngine - or any engine on this God's Earth. Even if they tried to build one since 2012, they would still be building it. They opted to go for graphics form over functionality; while pissing away $114 million of backer money that could very well have gone to the numerous space combat games (e.g. Infinity Battlescape barely got the $300K they were asking for and didn't even make it to the first stretch goal). Not to mention the fact that the original pitched game scope was a lot smaller, totally doable, as a session based instanced or non-instanced multiplayer game.

So yes, given my experience, I know that high-fidelity twitch based multiplayer games can in fact be made. Because I'm made them. And I have consistently built massive and technologically advanced and complex games. And the rumored 10 people who buy them, are the reason that I stayed in the industry and kept making them. Otherwise I would have quit long ago and moved on with my life.

But that's not the discussion we're having here.

The discussion that we're having here is that Star Citizen, as has been pitched cannot be made. And certainly not with CryEngine as the base line for a custom engine. And the fact that they keep stumbling, ripping stuff out, refactoring (64-Bit positioning - three years in. I mean, seriously), trying to shoe-horn gameplay in a engine not designed for it, are just some of the Red flags.

1/2

Anonymous Eduardo May 25, 2016 9:30 PM  

D. Smart

This is pretty bad, they are in too big to fail mode, and even certain fans that were giving you heat seem to be in the same gear. That will not end well if the project is in such a dire strait

Derek, can't you knock sense into them? Maybe try to get Roberts to change the development a little so a minimun viable product could be achieved? Or have the relations between you and CIG completely melted down?
Well maybe you divorced yourself emotionally from the whole thing, sorry I don't fully know all the circunstances...

Star Citizen is not exactly my type of game, but it does seem ambitious and impressive, hard to see a project like that burning down in flames, while the Pilot is still trying steer the thing without wings or a propeller.

Anonymous Eduardo May 25, 2016 9:46 PM  

Hahahah that is funny Badger. But why being miserable? What results you get?

Blogger VD May 26, 2016 7:07 AM  

Nothing I said is inaccurate in the least. Youth is certainly wasted on the young. When you have been involved in game development and the online game community as long as I have, you understand that Derek Smart is on the wrong end of history. He's just a troll, and not even a very good troll at that.

You're not only wrong, you are a liar.

Do your research on who this guy is and what he has been doing for decades and you will see that I'm right.

I know exactly who he is, I know more about what he's been doing than you do, and that is why I know you are not only wrong, but a liar. I've been in the game industry since 1992.

Anonymous r May 26, 2016 8:43 AM  

Any Eve comparisons are simply ludicrous. That game is a real engineering marvel, but it runs at one server tick per second, or even slower (in a controlled fashion) under load. It's not an action game. And it's not even instanced in the usual sense anyway!

Anonymous dsmart May 26, 2016 8:58 AM  

This is pretty bad, they are in too big to fail mode, and even certain fans that were giving you heat seem to be in the same gear. That will not end well if the project is in such a dire strait

In a way, yes, they are in that mode. However, they aren't too big to fail. If hard core fans going through sunk cost fallacy didn't keep giving them money, they would have failed by now. Just remember that the original ship date was Nov 2014.

A sizable number of the install base are in fact coming around, having seen what is going on. Heck, if nothing else, the 2.4 "persistence" update clearly proves what I've been saying all along; in that their primary focus is on implementing features which make money. e.g. instead of implementing core game features, they implemented shops and in-game currency; which will turn into RL currency at some point in the short term.

And the 2.4j test update that went live last night, also clearly shows that they're not building an MMO and that, at some point - if they survive that long - they are going to stick with the instanced session based gameplay style. e.g. they're now charging in-game currency for re-spawning ships! Not to mention that the nature of the current "missions", ensures that the game has to remain local instanced. Which means, definitely no MMO of any kind.

Derek, can't you knock sense into them? Maybe try to get Roberts to change the development a little so a minimun viable product could be achieved? Or have the relations between you and CIG completely melted down? Well maybe you divorced yourself emotionally from the whole thing, sorry I don't fully know all the circunstances...

I tried. I contacted them (Roberts specifically at one point) directly when I was a backer. They ignored me. Because, you know, "Fuck Derek Smart!".

They have several tier one devs over there. Though none of them have ever built a game of this scope, let alone the dream Roberts wants to build, I know - for a fact - that several of them have told him and their bosses that they can't build this game as pitched. So it's not like they don't know. At the end of the day, it's a pay check. It's a small industry. We all talk among ourselves. So what's really going on with the project on the dev side, is only a secret to the public (and the backers).

It is a sad situation which could have been avoided, but ego and arrogance are a very bad combination. And I've been down that road before, back when I started out. Regardless of how this ends, at least nobody can say they weren't warned. I have no problems taking the knocks and hits because I know with unfaltering certainty, that I'm 100% right. So I will stand firm until the very end (either they collapse or they ship something of a game)

Star Citizen is not exactly my type of game, but it does seem ambitious and impressive, hard to see a project like that burning down in flames, while the Pilot is still trying steer the thing without wings or a propeller.

The original scope of the game - which most of us backed - was totally doable. I mean, look at Elite Dangerous. Despite the fact that it's a much more complex game, a sandbox etc, they built it; it's instanced, it works. And with the upcoming Engineers update, my guess is that fps is coming at some point. And they didn't burn through $114 million of backer money to get this far.

Anonymous Eduardo May 26, 2016 2:05 PM  

D. Smart

Funny that the backers are not worried about a 18 month delay... That is what I call love for a dream. But doing that with other people's money is just a no-no for me. Roberts is probably thinking that after the project is done the quality will be so good it will just reverse all losses so far. That would be a huge bet... And I wouldn't want to lose such bet.

I think it is clear that Roberts called in some of the best programmers in CIG and just told them about the problems in player numbers, and ordered them to fix it. I don't know if it is legal to do that or even if it is Physically feasible, but there is most likely no other way around it. They are going to try to add maybe 2 and 2 players at a time until the game goes MMO. Every extra two players will be seen as one more step up the mountain, so the hype goes up and more money comes in...

I guess you already wrote the blog entry titled "I Told You So!" ;-)

Anonymous dsmart May 26, 2016 6:36 PM  

@Eduardo

A LOT of backers are very concerned about an 18 month delay. However, those who voice it, either on Reddit or on RSI forums, are quickly attacked and shut down.

Think I'm kidding? Try this latest ones.

we have been lied to

PTU testers

As to the technical side, they've had top notch people come and go. It's an on-going theme.

FYI a new space combat MMO was unveiled this week. Here is their technical dev blog on how they are approaching the "single" shard universe.



Anonymous Eduardo May 26, 2016 11:22 PM  

D. Smart

Interesting, and here I was thinking the backers would just blitzkrieg CGI and ask for explanations for the delay by this point.

Reading the forum posts it seems everybody is a bit defensive about the project, anything bad about it is totally justified for monetary reasons, yet the whole system to decide who tests what seems like a mess. Everything is shadowy and done in the dark corners even the people that test can't say how it works precisely. Man that sounds like one of those overhyped projects that last 5 years to be done and deliver 50% of what was promised, previewed or advertised. Duke Nukem should have taken Forever...

Love the insights into the PTU: Laggy, choppy. 18 months of delay and you have laggy choppy as a result... Maybe it is just the devs testing stuff just like DayZ aka Hiking Sim, trying to find programming sweet spots to diminish lag, or get same results with less draw calls and equations or logical steps. Still with 18 months the PTU should have better results, they should have some good knowledge about usual problems by now and should have already decided the best setup.

Laggy, choopy is my six year old notebook running anything that was released today XD!

Another impressive thing is the roster of actors and actresses that will be included... Maybe... In the game squadron 42. Just how much money is going into buying the image rights of these people!!!

I can see that, soon, the legal processes will overwhelm the project... Hope Roberts has a blockbuster in the chamber.

Anonymous Eduardo May 26, 2016 11:48 PM  

D. Smart

This new MMO is pretty interesting, I had no idea that having too many players was that much terrible for an MMO, when the description started talking about dungeons, continents, upper limits for players, it become crystal clear to me why certain MMO went 10 FPS due to lag after the server had too many players especially outside the dungeons.

It is pretty interesting the idea behind the algorithm, I use to think that they were similar to LOD algorithms, and that players outside your view would never come into play for the incomig information, but Apparently this is pretty far away from the truth. I sort realized that playing DayZ, because if you pointed to cities where players usually go to, I would have a substantial lag peak although they were across the map from me.

I wonder why games like MAG and Joint Operations from Novalogic were able to put so many players in one map, especially Novalogic's where there were no clear place to create instances. Could they have already done something similar to this MMO?

Anonymous dsmart May 27, 2016 5:46 PM  

@Eduardo

The issue is that for all the money raised, and the amount of time spent, the game should be farther along by now. Instead, they've blown through a lot of money, still don't even have a vertical slice, and the tech demo is awful.

And backers have no recourse, short of legal action.

As to multiplayer tech, is has to be designed based on the game. Right from the start. Trying to shoehorn a certain type of game into a restrictive networking layer/architecture, is a recipe for disaster. Happens all the time.

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