Star Citizen plans to share internal timelines, justifies ship sales as not P2W
Star Citizen's latest newsletter does three things: celebrates the fourth anniversary of the game's Kickstarter, explains why you still don't know when the game is going to launch, and announces that more transparent production timelines are on the table.
"We have taken a lot of flak over the last couple of years for the extending timeline of Star Citizen, but the simple fact is that game development, especially game development on the scale of Star Citizen, is complicated," Chris Roberts explains. While most studios develop their games in relative secrecy, allowing them to flex to meet unpredictability of design, Star Citizen hasn't had that "luxury." In fact, he says, "The only thing we currently don’t share is internal estimates on completion and dates."
That's because it's Kobayashi Maru, he explains -- a no-win scenario for Cloud Imperium. "Because of this we have been reticent to share our internal timelines, even with caveats, as it always seems to cause trouble; one section of the community gets annoyed because things are perceived as late while another gets annoyed wondering why we shared dates at all if they aren’t solid. Of course even when we don’t give dates we have yet another part of the community getting annoyed because they feel left in the dark and have no idea when the next build will drop."
Nevertheless, the studio has decided to take the risk of telling gamers more, providing much more detailed internal schedules.
"We’ve taken stock, thought through everything and decided that, while that is a risk, above all we trust the community that has given us so much support. The community that has let us focus our passions on this incredible project. You have allowed us to take this journey, you have tracked and followed so much of how game development works… and now we think it is right to further part the curtain and share with you our production process. So for Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 we’re going to share our internal schedule and its breakouts on a weekly basis. These are the very same schedules we update daily and are circulated internally on our intra-studio hand-offs with a few exceptions: the individual developer names assigned to the tasks will be omitted (for obvious reasons), we’ll remove the JIRA details and we’ll modify the technical wording to make it readable for a wider audience, but otherwise, when something changes, slips or is completed, you will know."
Roberts also addresses another hot topic within and without the Star Citizen community: ship sales. He's vowed that the ships aren't pay-to-win, that "the universe will always be open to anyone with a starter package," and that people who buy more are doing so "primarily to support the project."
"The backers that choose to purchase concept ships are helping us add top tier talent to the game, expand our development tools and facilities and give us the time and bandwidth to pursue the kind of pure creativity that continues to make this project so exciting. The additional ships are rewards for helping expand our dream, to make sure we continue to go above and beyond what we set out to create. Every ship you can buy now will be available in the finished game, for purchase with in game currency. But early supporters receive some convenient rewards (such as LTI) and the option of having a different starting experience with larger or role-specific ship designs. We feel this is the least we can do for the portion of the community that continues to support us well past what they need to contribute to play Star Citizen. We feel comfortable with this exchange as Star Citizen is not a stats based MMO with typical end game content. Just like real life there is no real end game in Star Citizen."
Random tidbit: Roberts notes that Cloud Imperium now counts four internal studios and 377 employees, all working on Star Citizen.
You can check out the whole anniversary livestream below.