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Is Star Citizen an Overly Ambitious Project that Will Self-Implode?
Star Citizen. It’s a title that has ‘unbelievable’ written all over it. It has the potential to be the greatest videogame ever created. It’s one of the few things in the world that make this GIF pop up in your head.
Christ Roberts’ ever-growing project has accumulated a kind of cult following alongside its nearly $85 million funding, but there’s a rather worrying sign that has been stuck to this space simulator from the beginning of its conception – a sign that gradually comes to the foreground as Roberts expands the project further into unbelievable and admittedly uncharted territories.
This sign reads ‘caution’ – a warning to Roberts himself, and more importantly to the many backers and followers of the game. No doubt, great things don’t come without hard work, resilience, and dedication, but Star Citizen has evolved almost religiously into a product that could either turnout to be a marvel, or an absolute doom-and-gloom for Cloud Imperium Games.
The reason for this is that Star Citizen seems to be imploding in on itself by having no specific target whatsoever. As more funding pours through their controversial grey market through the acquisition of virtual ships for thousands of dollars, Roberts periodically adds more content to the game.
In his New Year’s letter to backers earlier in 2015, Roberts wrote about how some of the fears of SC turning into a ‘feature creep’ are entirely false, and how the game’s increasing footprint itself is a sign of just what it stands for.
Roberts and his team are capable, certainly without doubt, but such a massive project that is predominantly growing through the funding of extremely expensive ships that aren’t even real is going to fall short of the hype no matter what. To avoid this, Roberts has been adding an insane amount of content to Star Citizen, and while it’s an admirable gesture of gratitude and passion, it is one that has led to the title becoming more than what it was supposed to be.
The development of the title started in 2011, and it was supposed to be a fantastic space simulator that uses the powerful CryEngine 3 from Crytek. What it has now turned into is a mass of fragmented gameplay features set in a ridiculously large world.
Within this one game are several modules that are vastly different from one another. You have the Arena Commander module, the singleplayer campaign in the form of Squadron 42, Star Marine with its first-person shooter gameplay, and finally the Persistent Universe to oversee development of additional content after the game’s release.
With many delays and further pushbacks, Star Citizen is now expected to be released in 2017. With the overwhelming amount of bugs in the game’s alpha phase and exponentially progressing technology, it’s very likely that by the time Star Citizen gets released, it may as well be an obsolete videogame, no matter how ambitious it is.
Roberts has stated several times that there is no urgency, as CIG has no pressure of a publisher. What it does have though is ambition that can reach (or perhaps already reached) critical mass, and could implode on itself to become a blackhole.
Now, we’re also seeing the creation of alien languages from grounds up, individually created by linguists. The game is a first-person shooter, yet it’s also a space combat simulator. Heck, it can also be a space pilot simulator, if you’re okay with simply transporting cargo and passengers.
We all want Star Citizen to be an immense success, especially those who truly care for PC gaming, but the game’s ambition and the dangerously religious cult-following make it a worrisome project. Roberts is absolutely confident he can deliver, but aren’t all developers?
Of course, the best we can do is to wait and see. At the moment, Star Citizen does look too good to be true, but someone somewhere probably said the same thing when the first probe was sent to Mars. All great things that are to be accomplished look too good to be true before being accomplished. Hopefully, Star Citizen falls into that category.