MMO-watchers will recall that just before the turn of the new year, Crytek filed to sue Cloud Imperium, the company behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen. Crytek alleged that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. As recompense for this supposed breach, Crytek demanded a significant sum, including direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.
CIG, for its part, has denied the accusations, calling it a “meritless” lawsuit; it’s pointed to the licensing agreement that limits liability and damages from contract breaches, as well as asserted that it’s not using Crytek’s engine (any more) and that name changes to and expansions of Star Citizen’s “online universe” do not constitute a new game.
Players who would like to roleplay the fantasy of being a high-tech emergency medical rescue service can get their chance with Star Citizen’s Apollo spaceship. The spotlight was on this rapid response ship this week, with fans even given the opportunity to earn a a chance to win an upgraded variant of the ship by playing a browser arcade game on the site.
“The legendary Apollo chassis from Roberts Space Industries is the gold standard in medivac and rapid emergency response,” RSI said, “having provided critical aid to the known universe for well over two centuries. When one thinks of first class medical rescue, one thinks of the RSI Apollo.”
The studio’s July recap report is out, with attention given last month to shoring up Alpha turret bugs, creating the new Anvil Hawk ship, decorating the Freelancer interior, working on hair and head technology, piecing together Squadron 42 outfits, developing animations for females, redesigning the 300i, laying out more story scenes, shaping moons with various biomes, stabilizing hte game editor, and (most importantly) transforming a bar scene into a “living breathing environment.”
This week’s edition of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse is taking a detour into a recap of Squadron 42. CIG says it’s been working on combat, animations, the NPC idle system, procedural tech for the actors, object examination and manipulation, weapons tech, destruction assets (I’m here for this), the Vanduul, and utter rubbish. No really, somebody’s gotta build scrap piles and space detritus! That’s going on somebody’s resume! Love it.
It’s another really short episode, but that’s likely because the team is trying to crank out the final version of the 3.2 alpha, which was reportedly supposed to launch in some sort of official capacity yesterday. (It did not.) The same VentureBeat article mentions that the current state of the game allows for 50 players per instance.
Star Citizen drama on the internet – who’d have seen that coming, right? If you run a search for Star Citizen drama just on the current version of Massively OP, you’ll find piles of threads that qualify, all the way back to the 2015 “long troll” mess.
But the current drama brewing on Reddit isn’t about the Crytek lawsuit, endless alpha delays, subber perks, feature creep, refunds, or ridiculous whaling. Nope. It’s about losing hope. Right now, a massive thread has racked up 1500 upvotes from the Star Citizen Reddit community, as players weigh in on a long concern post from a fellow backer with $4500 in the game.
Criticizing both CIG for turning a “neat little space sim with multiplayer coop missions” into an “MMO [he] didn’t ask for” and the community for letting CIG get away with it, Redditor firefly212 (as reposted by Sean_Murray_ [but not that Sean Murray]) writes that he has MS and his “body gets a little worse with each passing year,” so it’s doubly frustrating that the game is taking so long.
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse takes a quick detour into Squadron 42 development. CIG zips through weapon animations, ship AI progress, spacescaping, the Bengal carrier, NPC AI (this part is really nifty), and character art and costumes. As the studio points out, development on S42 usually carries over to Star Citizen itself – and that includes shipboard scanning and radar systems, the subject of the episode’s feature middle. You wanna know what you’re stealing, harvesting, or blowing up before you do it, right? Right. Finally, there’s a Ship Shape segment covering the development of the Aegis Eclipse and touching on the ship roadmap and new biweekly cadence.
Meanwhile, if you’re still reeling from last weekend’s news that the game now has a de facto $27,000
pledge tier concierge level , check out this official support doc, which breaks down all of the Chairman’s Club buy-ins publicly, from the folks who have PTU access for their package on up through the $1000 and $10,000 ranks.
The word “Origin” has a special meaning to Chris Roberts and the Star Citizen team, so it’s not surprising that there has been special attention given to the Origin 100 Series starter ship.
While a starter ship, the 100i doesn’t sound like a slouch: “With all the class and sophistication you already associate with Origin Jumpworks, elegantly presented in an attractive, compact frame, the 100 series has been designed specifically for solo pilots looking to turn heads without sacrificing functionality or reliability.”
The team answered specific questions about the ship this past week, including its specs and its comparison to other spacecraft that players might select early on in the game. The introduction of the Origin 100 means that the 300 series is due to get an upgrade in the future.
One of the challenges for indie and crowdfunded MMORPGs is surely the nature of their development: plugging along without much fanfare, with players seeing only one part of the equation. Saga of Lucimia has a piece out meant to show what that behind-the-scenes iteration looks like in the construction of an in-game asset as it travels from art concept to 3-D model to textured asset to something that’s added to the world by a different team entirely. But then what might be a mundane art blog takes a sharp turn to talk about other MMORPGs and their communities and expectations.
“There’s a major disconnect with some players when it comes to the misconceptions regarding iterations over the course of the game’s development,” argues Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson. “We see a lot of anger around the ‘net in regards to how things change over time with almost every MMORPG’s development, with many claiming the developers lied about how something was going to work, or how something was perceived as being a certain way, and then when it doesn’t work out quite the way players perceived, they claim that the developers deceived them, and that the launched product isn’t anything like what was initially discussed during the development process. The perfect example of this is Star Citizen/Squadron 42.”
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse is only indirectly about Star Citizen. The episode instead centers on Squadron 42, which is either a separate game or the same game depending on which side of the lawsuit you fall on, but either way, updates for one are crossover updates for the other too. The S42 team says that lately it’s working on details for ships that are so big they basically have their own completely functional massive subway systems to help you get around them, something I can honestly say I’ve never seen in an MMO before, so that’ll be fun to see in the bigger game.
‘Course, if it takes that long to travel between areas on the ship subway, your character’s going to need a loaded mobiGlas device with some minigames to pass the time. Gems, anyone?
The larger section of the episode focuses on flight AI. “This is a single-player affair,” CIG’s Sean Tracy says of S42 specifically, “so a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to both gameplay and story falls on those NPCs and their AI.”
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse episode is actually more about Squadron 42 than Star Citizen. To illustrate how the game is coming along, CIG digs into the Idris frigate, using it as an example environment where the NPCs are simulating reality with AI schedules rather than just standing around staring blankly into space waiting for you to return.
“The goal of the Idris was always to create a ship for people and we want you to walk around the ship and see these people going about their lives, doing whatever their role is and generally just doing whereas that they wanted or have to do. So in doing that we have every character on the ship has their own name, their own rank, their own role on the ship and that spreads among all the different disciplines.”
Meanwhile, if you had your eyes, heart, and wallet set on the Aegis Vulcan support ship that went up for sale to VIPs last week, rejoice as it’s now available to the plebes too with a brand-new splash page breaking down all its key bits. It’s $185, with packs running up to $950.
The Star Citizen crew is back to work on Squadron 42 in 2018, as chronicled in the latest episode of Around the Verse. The Frankfurt studio, now up to 79 people, says it’s hard at work on fog and lighting, AI, graphics, weapons, engine performance, and ambient occlusion. The feature bit is all about the cinematics whipped up for the big stream reveal just before Christmas – you’ll recall it as the scene where Mark Hamill is kind of a jerk to your noob self.
Meanwhile, CIG has also just released its monthly studio report. And as teased earlier this week, the Star Citizen 3.0.1 alpha has landed on the PTU for testing, although you’ll note that now you’ll need a subscription to guarantee your earliest access to it, else you’ll wait for your invite. Bonus, now the game has monocles.
On this week’s Around the Verse, the Star Citizen devs are dipping into Squadron 42 specifically to explain the design behind the Coil, a massive electrical space storm left in the chunky, spooky, gaseous ruins of a system that went supernova.
Meanwhile, CIG sent around a press blast touting what is apparently the first phase of its brand-new website, intended to help newbies find their space legs and to “introduce cohesiveness” between Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
And finally, this week CIG released a stunning alpha 3.0 feature trailer showing an orbital ship battle… and what happens afterward. We’ve tucked that below too.
The bombshell of December 2017 was the news that Crytek was suing Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries, the companies behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen, alleging that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. In its initial filing, Crytek demanded a huge pile of direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.
At the time, CIG told Massively OP that it was aware of the complaint but that the lawsuit was “meritless” as CIG hadn’t used CryEngine since it switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. And now we see its promised “vigorous defense” action, as CIG has issued a volley of its own in the form of a motion to dismiss the entire suit.
With a relatively flat year in terms of Kickstarter’s video games fundraising, 2017 ended up handing the crown of crowdfunding back to Star Citizen. The sci-fi project raised $34.91 million over the year, versus $17.25 million for all of the 2017 Kickstarter video game projects combined.
Star Citizen’s 2017 haul was only slightly down from both 2016 ($36.11M) and 2015 ($35.9M). With game creation so lucrative, you have to wonder what incentive there is to launch it, eh? Polygon notes that the numbers here come from Roberts Space Industries and does not include any adjustments based on returns.
So far, the new year is off to a good start, with the testing of Star Citizen’s Alpha 3.0 currently running and an increased focus on the upcoming Squadron 42 single-player experience.