The Soapbox: Star Citizen is still worth the wait


Wow, it’s Star Citizen and Derek Smart in the same post! OK, now that I’ve stopped laughing (again), you can call me crazy because I remain optimistic about Cloud Imperium’s space sim opus. Yes, I’m still optimistic despite the verbal stylings of Battlecruiser’s creative lead and the dozens of MOP commenters who agreed with him about Star Citizen’s supposed fast-track to failure.

And frankly, optimism isn’t usually my thing. Why the happy face, then? I’m so glad you asked!



Look, Star Citizen’s launch is a long way off. I don’t care what Chris Roberts‘ latest letter from the chairman says or how many times the CIG devs point to the end of 2015 as the debut for the game’s persistent universe. Even if that happens (which it won’t), this is still alpha that we’re talking about, folks! And it’s not just alpha; it’s alpha of what is possibly the most ambitious virtual world ever attempted.

OK, maybe it’s the second most ambitious because regardless of your feelings about Second Life, it did some amazing stuff that got buried under an avalanche of virtual penises and sob stories about digital homewrecking made real.

Anyway, the prevailing sentiment among the Star-Citizen-is-doomed contingent seems to be either a) CIG bit off way more than it can chew or b) CIG promised that we’d have a feature-lite space shooter by now and dammit we’re really irritated at them for daring to dream bigger! Both sentiments are, at best, short-sighted and at worst emblematic of everything that’s wrong with the MMO genre and its consumers in 2015.

I mean, really, folks? You’re pissed off at a developer that shows ambition in a genre that’s completely lacked it since the early 2000s? You’re holding CIG’s feet to the fire because it hasn’t yet delivered on a rather spartan set of features in order to bring you a bigger and better set of features? If you’ll allow me to paraphrase the great Geddy Lee, less is not more. More is more. And in MMOs and virtual worlds, more is better. Fewer features means less MMO, so I just don’t get all of this silly dramedy over missed deadlines and “feature creep.”


A realistic timeframe

I kind of assume that you’re here because you like virtual worlds that offer something other than MMO “story” or incessant mob-gear-coin grinding, but I’ve been wrong before.

And guess what? Something other than MMO story and incessant mob-gear-coin grinding takes a lot of development time. It takes a lot of developers. And it takes a lot of money. Fortunately for Star Citizen and for us, CIG has all three of those things. Unless you listen to the naysayers, who can’t rationally claim that the company lacks developers and money but can certainly stomp their precious little feet and claim that this is all taking entirely too long, gorramit.

Or we could be real and realize that Star Citizen was announced in October of 2012. Even if we use that as ground zero and ignore the fact that the game didn’t morph into the virtual world beast that it is today for several additional months, that was under three years ago. Can you name a triple-A MMOlike with Star Citizen’s feature set (even its early, trimmed-down feature set), and its visual fidelity that shipped in under three years?

That’s a rhetorical question because no, you can’t name one since one doesn’t exist. The closest you might come is Star Wars: Galaxies, which isn’t very close since it didn’t ship with its well-loved space sim component. Still, it was a sci-fi sandbox with a lot of diverse gameplay options and great visuals (for 2003) that went from idea to launch in under three years. So, while it may have been possible for CIG to have already pumped out a feature-lite version of the game that Star Citizen aspires to be, I’d just as soon wait for the whole enchilada.


What’s the rush

And that’s really the sum total of my disconnect with the legion of people who either hate Star Citizen or hate to miss an opportunity to troll it. What’s the rush? Is it really going to kill you to wait a year or three to play what is potentially the mother of all virtual worlds? Surely the rest of this industry will step up and fill the void with plenty of shovelware products to help you wile away the hours between now and 2018 or whenever CIG officially presses the big red launch button.

And if the game somehow “fails” (in air quotes since it’s hard to define failure and hard for a game to “fail” when it’s already cleared $85 million and counting pre-launch), what exactly will you have lost? Nothing, particularly if you’re not a backer. Though the MMO genre will have lost what is currently its only shot at realizing its considerable upside.

Just a fanboy

I got slapped with the Star Citizen fanboy label three years ago, which frankly is about as insulting as being called rich and famous. While we’re talking about the former, though, I haven’t spent any money on Star Citizen since 2012, and even then I dropped a paltry $120 pledge, which pales in comparison to the thousands of dollars thrown CIG’s way by some of my crazier cohorts. But yep, you got me, I’m as excited as all hell for this game because even if it manages to deliver only a third of the features discussed so far, that will still add up to the most feature-rich game in the MMO genre, and it won’t even be close.

After a decade of retread after retread, and after years upon years of faction grinds and fourth pillars, what’s another 24 or 36 months of waiting for Star Citizen to ease its way out of alpha?

Well worth it, that’s what.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!
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