Interstellar Breach

Interstellar Breach

The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.” ― Sun Tzu

The TL;DR recap on how I got involved in this farce and why I’m going to keep going until the very bitter end.

UPDATE: Since this blog went live, they are continuing to remove evidence from the web. Though we have them, two more links to Sandra Roberts, which a whole bunch of people have already seen, have now been deleted. The one where she was in a video and referred to as Mandy (one of the movies she worked on, which makes this really odd. update: the movie is back online again) and the YouTube video where she was talking about her MBA. Like everything else, we have all of them saved locally. So this of no consequence. Go ahead and tell me again how none of this isn’t fishy.

Media articles going live will be updated here: (1, 2, 3)

PROLOGUE

So it comes now that what started as a bid to lay bare the challenges and failed promises of the Star Citizen crowd-funded project, is headed for legal action.

In my first blog, Interstellar Citizens, which sparked many an article and numerous gaming-wide discussions, I wrote a lengthy piece as to why I was of the opinion that the project in question, having completely increased the scope of the project, could never be made. In fact, below is precisely the statement that I made:

Without disrespect to anyone, I’m just going to say it: it is my opinion that, this game, as has been pitched, will never get made. Ever.

There isn’t a single publisher or developer on this planet who could build this game as pitched, let alone for anything less than $150 million.

The original vision which I backed in 2012? Yes, that was totally doable. This new vision? Not a chance.

After that first blog, as a concerned backer, I continued to dig into what was going on, having heard from many sources offering their opinions, thoughts and first hand accounting of events surrounding the project. That in turn sparked my second blog article, Interstellar Discourse in which, among other things, I called for the immediate investigation of the project and the people running it.

Following that article, and without answering any of the questions being raised, RSI took the unprecedented step of canceling  my backer account, then tried to justify it by making statements with the purpose of casting me in a poor light; while making allegations that I had somehow violated their ToS; which wasn’t true.

Not to mention the fact that in violation of privacy, as well as their own privacy statement, they made this information public (first to PC Gamer), while singling me out. This after never before done such a thing for any other backer who was refunded. Let that sink in for a moment; I’ll wait.

This sparked dozens of media articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and forum discussions which questioned the implications of what they had done.

So I wrote a third blog, Interstellar Justice in which I vowed to continue fighting for answers. I guess they thought I was kidding or that I don’t have better things to do with my time, but to write up lengthy missives, while appearing to be making empty threats.

KEY POINTS OF DISCOURSE

The purpose of the higher stretch goals is to ensure that the game-as-described is finished in the two year time period. We intend to build the game that Chris Roberts described at GDC Online regardless, but without additional funding we are going to have to do it one piece at a time, starting with Squadron 42, rather than as a single larger production. With more funding we can include more ships, systems, unique locations, animations and cinematic sequences.

Following all my blogs, a lot has been going on, some of it played out in the public, along with the usual disinformation that tends to follow these things. So let me break down some of the facts, all of which are backed by publicly available resources.

1) According to statements made by the very same Chris Roberts, Star Citizen was in development one year before the initial Kickstarter campaign which went live Oct 18, 2012 and concluded Nov 19, 2012. Which, as of this writing, means that the project has been almost four years in development. The scope was described as this.

Quoted from this Oct 19, 2012 interview:

We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal

2) The original pitch was for a smaller scope game project in which they were asking for $500K (on Kickstarter) with a Nov 2014 delivery date. They raised $2.1m on Kickstarter by the time the campaign closed in Nov 2012.

Then they continued to raise funds via their own RSI website; to the tune of $86.5m as of this writing. All this time, the game scope continues to increase, every single (yes – we checked) milestone (1, 2, 3, 4) has thus far been missed etc. As recently as this past month following the Gamescon 2015 conference, he made statements like this:

Social Module/Planetside (end of Aug), Star Marine (end of Sept), AC 2.0/Multi-Crew (end of Oct)

Then in a recent interview with Kotaku, claimed:

Recent demos have shown off features like a social plaza, first-person firefights, and multi-crew ships, but they won’t be playable for at least a few months. The plan, ultimately, is to take all ofStar Citizen’s features and unify them into a single persistent universe, but that’s still a ways off. Roberts told me he wants to have that part up and running—to essentially have the “full” game available—in 2016. He added, however, that nothing’s set in stone.”

3) To date, almost every key point in the pledge , as well as various promises made to backers in 2012, have now been broken. In fact, as of this writing, they haven’t even delivered, in our estimation,  25% of what was promised in the original game pitched on Kickstarter.

If you read that description of what was promised, any gamer or game developer will see that this game is either i) never going to end up being what was promised or ii) in the event that they do manage to pull it off, the chances of it every being released before 2018, is highly unlikely.

Here is another example of the sort of thing they’ve done.

In the original (aka “vision 1.0”) game they pitched on Kickstarter, which 34,397 backers pledged $2,134,374 to help bring this project to life, they had an “estimated” release date of Nov 2014.

According to their  ToS v1.1 of 08/29/13 they said if they failed to deliver within 12 months of Nov 2014 (the original Kickstarter estimated delivery date), they would issue refunds. At the time, this non-delivery period would kick in during Nov 2015.

IV. Charges & Billing
RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a promise by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of the deposit shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the pledge items and/or the Game to you within 12 months after the estimated delivery date.

Since that time, having already i) missed the Nov 2014 delivery date and ii) embarked on the increased scope (aka “vision 2.0”), thus extending the delivery date for the project, they surreptitiously made another changed in ToS v1.2 of 02/01/15 (which remains the current one). The previous section was moved; and now reads:

VII. Fundraising & Pledges
RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website.  However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you within eighteen (18) months after the estimated delivery date.

And in the current ToS, here is a key section that ties into the above:

VII. Fundraising & Pledges
For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost. In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.

4) Chris Roberts has, as recently as this past July when my blogs started going online, continued to vehemently deny that the scope of the project had increased. This, in the face of dozens and dozens of media articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) and forum posts showing clearly that this was in fact the case.

To the extent that PC Gamer one of the largest print gaming magazines, in a 2014 article, referred to it as Scam Citizen.

Even when, months ago various media articles (1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6) were raising questions, it largely fell on deaf ears, as the denial + hype (1, 2, 3) machine rolled on.

And now, as he has done in the past, he has flip-flopped and recently started making different statements (1, 2 – @1:04:41), admitting to scope creep, while trying to justify it.

I’ll quote a backer from the RSI forum, as recently as Aug 13th:

“So, I suppose, so long as CIG attaches a little “things change” disclaimer along with everything they do, they’ll never have to be accountable for anything?

Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but back in 2013 and early 2014, the fear of feature creep was pretty real. CIG, and CR himself, went on record numerous times stating that feature creep will never get in the way of the games development. Yet, now, CR openly admits that the game has been delayed due to an expanded scope (i.e. more features).

In 2012 it was all, it’s not a pipe dream, the game will come out in 2014!
In 2013 it was all, game will be on time! CIG guarantees it!
In 2014 it was all, game might be a bit late, but it’s still relatively on time!
In 2015 it’s all like, game is pretty delayed, but we get a better game for free, so who cares!
So, that begs to question, what will people be saying in the years to come? Seems to me like some people will never hold CIG accountable to any manner of release date, but you know what, the world won’t stop to wait for SC. By the time it launches, we may very well have something far more impressive on our hands.”

5) As a result of various warning signs, questions and statements about feature creep have been met with derision and ridicule both by Chris Roberts and RSI employees, as well as by the die-hard fans (aka White Knights) who are always ready to shoot down any dissent (go take a look at the RSI forums for an example).

This despite the fact that the project, thus far, having missed its Nov 2014 ship date, is nowhere near completion, having to date delivered only two modules (Hangar, Arena Commander 1.0), neither of which constitutes the “game” as promised, but rather mechanics for the continued advertising and sale of new ships.

As recently as this past January, this is the delivery timeline given during a BAFTA presentation.

Here is a Forbes interview on YouTube, dated May 17th, 2013 in which he not only says he needed $20 million, but gives a detailed timeline and hard release dates for the public BETA.

And here is a very handy timeline and some key points below as well.

April 30, 2013: “the game on the low side was going to be about 14 million dollars to make and the high side, which is where we are at now, is going to be about 20 million

https://youtu.be/6vzlda0-XoY?t=490

May 17, 2013: “I mean it’s going to cost 20 million dollars plus by the time it’s all finished

https://youtu.be/hYFCfRK4e6Y?t=20m12s

May 17, 2013: “then we’ll go live after the beta which I would anticipate would be sometime in early 2015. But essentially from the end of 2014 you should be able to play the full game but it will just be beta because there will still be things to tweak and balance.

https://youtu.be/hYFCfRK4e6Y?t=24m30s

August 18, 2015: “When we first started, we raised $6 million with crowdfunding,” Roberts told me. “That was a lot, but it still wasn’t what we were gonna make the game for because we had private investors lined up. At that point, we were thinking of making a much more contained game.

http://kotaku.com/why-star-citizen-is-taking-so-long-1724835913

6) At key points during this crowd-funding effort, many statements made, have now been proven to be patently false or proven to be without merit. In our research notes, we have found and documented no less than one hundred and eighty-six instances of this sort of thing; going as far back as statements made in interviews like this from Oct 2012. And I quote:

Q: You have stated that you expect to have an Alpha up and going in about 12 months, with a beta roughly 10 months after that and then launch. For a game of this size and scope, do you think you can really be done in the next two years?
A: Really it is all about constant iteration from launch. The whole idea is to be constantly updating. It isn’t like the old days where you had to have everything and the kitchen sink in at launch because you weren’t going to come back to it for awhile. We’re already one year in – another two years puts us at 3 total which is ideal. Any more and things would begin to get stale.

It gets worse. This is a direct quote from the Sept 30th, 2014 Letter From The Chairman:

Long ago I stopped looking at this game the way I did when I worked for a publisher who gave me a fixed budget to make a retail game. I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012). If you combine our in-house staff and outsourced developers, we now number more than 280 people. Your support has created a significant number of jobs in the gaming industry. (And no matter what you might have heard, only a small number of our team is tasked with designing new ships!)

It’s not going to be obvious what the above excerpt means, so let me explain it in simple terms. He has no clue wtf he’s doing. You can’t use month-to-month financial metrics, to determine the scope of the product you’re building.

7) Through all this, having thus far failed to deliver any tangible product as promised, Chris Roberts has continued making claims designed to continue increasing the scope of the game, even as they continue to raise money, (see this detailed analysis) after claiming “Six million was what it would take us to build the game we were imagining with all the bells and whistles we wanted included.” See Kickstarter updates 47 and 48 for context.

Now, as of this writing, this has ballooned to over $86.5m.

And at every step of the way, as far back as April 2013 Chris Roberts claimed that the game was going to cost $14m-$20m to make. Both of these two stretch goals have since been reached. When asked in this Polygon interview on March 2015, “If the money stopped today would you be able to get all of the things out that you promised?“, the response was “Absolutely“.

And in an interview with PC Gamer in 2014 holiday edition where he was quoted as saying that they would have spent over $100m on the game, he clarified this comment by saying:

This is a misquote – What was said is that we’ll probably have invested at least $100M into the development of Star Citizen by the time it “launches” to the public. This is based on our intention to invest all the money we raise during initial development back into the game (which I’ve been quite public about) and the fact that we will most likely raise this much by the time the full vision of Star Citizen is polished enough to be called “public” (of course all you guys will be experiencing Squadron 42 and the PU before this as part of the benefit of being backers and being part of the development process). You guys are literally setting the budget and ambition of the game with your support which in itself is a pretty amazing thing and something I never would have believed possible two years ago.”

8) Despite the length of time for various types of game projects, a four year span for a game of this scope is not unreasonable. However, there are people out there throwing up all kinds of charts for various triple-A game (e.g. WoW, Halo, Mass Effect etc) expenses and development periods, in an attempt to compare to Star Citizen, thus justifying the costs and schedule.

For reference, back in June 2014, Kotaku wrote a detailed article about this. You should probably read it for context. And in July 2012, ahead of the Star Citizen Kickstarter, Polygon wrote a similar article about the state of AAA game development, costs etc. Well before this, Luke Ahearn, wrote a detailed article about budgeting and scheduling game development. It’s quite the read. And if you still have time, and really want to see even more eye-opening analysis, go read this one.

And so, in all those discussions, those trying to make this argument are forgetting (how convenient) that those games they are trying to compare Star Citizen to, are:

  1. structured designs
  2. have publishers pulling the strings and calling the shots
  3. have experienced and seasoned producers and developers – who are familiar with the game, genre and tech used
  4. have specific goal-oriented budgets – controlled by said publishers
  5. those people were not making a game that requires putting the entire development team on a goal-post moving, technological scope-creep tread-mill with a seemingly insurmountable end-game for something they had never before attempted to develop
  6. not managed or produced by someone who has a history of making huge claims about over-ambitious games, then not delivering on same

So yes, that comparison argument is devoid of any merit. As a 30 year industry veteran, I have funded, developed, and shipped over a dozen games, and I have vast experience and qualifications in various game development disciplines. So it’s safe to say that I know what I’m talking about. You don’t have to listen to what I have to say – and I don’t care, because I’m going to say it anyway.

The facts are that:

  1. this game was never pitched as a triple-A game
  2. not everyone signed up for this grand “vision” back in 2012
  3. if Chris Roberts had asked for anything resembling a triple-A game budget back in 2012, he probably won’t have received funding because the scope of the game back then was not in line with that pitch.

Who dare makes such a claim, while asking for $500K to build a triple-A quality game? Go ahead, show me one single instance of this ever happening.

Aside from that, right from the start, either Chris Roberts and co lied about how much longer (two years from the Oct 2012 Kickstarter) it would take to build the game, or he created this lie on-the-fly once he figured out a way to keep raising money, while not delivering a finished product. And the FTC is very clear on this, even aside from crowd-funding. He raised money to build and ship a specific product, to be delivered to backers within a specific time frame.

Nobody cares about what the average development time for a game is. We only care about what was promised. Period. End of story.

Yes – in the world of software development, especially games, delays can and will happen; it is a given. However, this has gone beyond mere delays because now, it is the scope creep and the technological hurdles associated with it, that are causing the delays. A delay that, if he is to be believed, is most likely to see the game released well beyond 2016. Assuming that it ever gets completed; or as promised in the feature set.

Once funding crossed the $2.1m mark, as the narrative and pitch for the game changed, everything said was a blatant attempt to continue raising funds, for a “vision” that Chris Roberts now wanted to build and to compete (1, 2, 3) with triple-A games, while lining their collective pockets with backer money.

Here is a statement Chris Roberts made to Forbes magazine in 2013:

Erik Kain @ 19:38: To round things out, you have about 9.5 million dollars in crowdfunding, new offices, what’s the road map from here? Where do you go for the rest of 2013? Where will you be next year?

Chris: So one of things we’re doing that I think is different from every other crowdfunded game that I’ve seen out there – although I could be corrected – is that we’re approaching the development process in terms of what our backers get differently. We’re sort of approaching it, because Star Citizen is pretty big and pretty ambitious game – I mean it’s going to cost 20 million dollars plus by the time its all finished. What we’re doing is essentially taking components of functionality in the game and we’ll be splitting them out and letting the community – the backers – interact, use them, play with them before the final game is all brought together.”

Here is an interview statement made by Ortwin, Chris Roberts’ partner back in June 2014:

While the Star Citizen case is a first to take crowd funding to this new level, it does show the potential of this fundraising method when pursued properly. However, as many commentators have pointed out, if crowd funding is to mature as an alternative funding source for games of all budget sizes, it will ultimately need to include safeguards against insufficient planning or plain abuse. Several projects, even some with raises in the seven digits, have failed already to deliver on their promise. A “look over the fence” to the area of independent film financing again provides an insight as to the mechanisms developed in that field, some of which may be a template for future crowd funding of games projects.

Here is a statement that Chris Roberts made in 2014:

I have a lot of industry friends pat me on the back and say, “Wow, it must be so great to be operating in profit even before you ship!” Their look usually turns to incredulity when I explain that my intention is for all the money we bring in before launch to be spent on development. It is the community, from the existing backers who continue to support the game, to new members who join every day who are setting the level of ambition and budget for Star Citizen. Every effort is about enriching the game’s vision. Funding to date has allowed us to go so far beyond what I thought was possible in 2012. You’re still getting that game, no question, but it will be all the richer and so much more immersive because of the additional funding.

Long ago I stopped looking at this game the way I did when I worked for a publisher who gave me a fixed budget to make a retail game. I now look at our monthly fundraising and use that to set the amount of resources being used to develop this game. We keep a healthy cash reserve so that if funding stopped tomorrow we would still be able to deliver Star Citizen (not quite to the current level of ambition, but well above what was planned in Oct 2012). If you combine our in-house staff and outsourced developers, we now number more than 280 people. Your support has created a significant number of jobs in the gaming industry. (And no matter what you might have heard, only a small number of our team is tasked with designing new ships!)

9) Having admitted to facing various technology challenges (e.g. 1, 2), most occurring no doubt as a result of the increased scope, running afoul of scope creep itself which has then subjected the project to technological hurdles and limitations, failure to deliver (even with an almost one year delay) the originally pitched project as promised, Chris Roberts has now – this August – claimed that the project will be completed and delivered by the end of 2016. This despite the fact that, as of this moment, August 2015, when a backer ran an analysis of completed ship assets, based on what they’ve sold, are selling (even while in concept stage!!!!), they have yet to build etc, it appears as if a significant amount of work is still left to be done on just the assets alone.

Assuming that is to be believed (don’t be silly, thus far, they haven’t met a single milestone date), this now puts the project as being delayed by almost two years from the original promised date, for a total of five years in development. All things being equal of course.

The size of the various studios, which dictates the burn rate, the declining fund raising, even with the budget cuts (?) through recent consolidation efforts, means that the entire project is now at an increased risk of a catastrophic collapse, resulting in a total loss for backers.

And if that happens, the people who started this, would have lost nothing, having already benefited and enriched themselves these past years with backer money.

And if history is to repeat itself, as it pertains to similar historical events (e.g. the sudden collapse of Digital Anvil) for projects led by Chris Roberts once he was no longer tethered to publishers – the platform upon which he crowd-funded this project – this is a very possible scenario that is now playing out all over again.

We need your support!

The people who pledge for their spaceships will get to test-fly them long before the general public. 12 months in, we will allow the early backers to play the multiplayer space combat Alpha, and then 20-22 months in they will get to play the Star Citizen Beta, adventuring around the huge open galaxy, well before the general public. We are going to limit our alpha slots to 200,000 as we want to stress test the game with real users, but will not be ready for the full load until we have finished Beta.”

10) Through all this, there has been zero accountability for the crowd-funded project expenses.

Aside from spending what could amount to millions of dollars for attending and hosting various worldwide events (PAX, Gamescon, GDC, E3, CitizenCon etc) and similar expenses. For example, buying equipment for making propaganda style broadcast videos, spending money on travel to do motion capture shoots and similar, funding Sandra Roberts’ pet movie (shot by Bérénice Eveno) project (as sources have told investigators, some of this was done using RSI resources including equipment, staff and money) etc. None of which have anything to do with the “development” of Star Citizen.

So the claims of not spending money on “public relations”, and only spending said money on this Star Citizen “development”, are seemingly false.

Time, money and resources which would otherwise go toward the completion of the project in a cost effective and timely fashion, are instead, in addition to personal use, are spent on these events and activities which amount to glorified marketing and public relation bids to continue advertising and selling items to gamers for a game that does not yet exist, and which in all likelihood, never will or least not in the form they have pitched.

This being a game that we were told was already fully funded back in Nov 2012.

All this despite the outcry in the past about this type of expenditure, even as recently, backers on RSI website, continue to express this and similar concerns (1, 2, 3 4). Not to mention dissent in various forums, as well as people filling out reports on ripoffreport.com, filing FTC and BBB complaints etc.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, they now have an eighteen month marketing plan, and for which they are looking to hire (!) more people. Why yes, yes of course; why the hell not? I mean, after all, we do need marketing for a game backers already paid for, and which is yet to be delivered. Even though there was never to be money spent on such things, as they bear no relevance to the development of Star Citizen.

WHEN IGNORANCE IS NOT AN OPTION

Kickstarter Pitch Quote:

We are aiming for a AAA game experience. But depending on the funding levels reached, we may have to limit the experience for the initially released game version. Nonetheless, Chris Roberts and his teams have shown consistently that they are able to develop epic story-based games. Even with our very limited self-funding we have been able to do already a lot of work which is why we can show you not just concept art and a cinematic trailer, but an extensive demo of actual game play. So, we are confident that even with limited means we will be able to deliver an amazing experience.

If you really want to get the big picture, PC Invasion just put up an excellent project timeline for Star Citizen. It’s a wake-up call.

In my blogs, I had raised a lot of questions, which, even amid the attacks (this was to be expected) and media disinformation, sparked a lot of discussions. Specific to that was the issue of refunds.

Prior to my first blog appearing in July, refunds for this project were largely non-existent, according to many reports; especially if you were a Kickstarter backer from 2012. Soon after, as I raised this issue in the blogs, some people, after the noise (1, 2, 3, 4) started getting refunded quietly, even as reports continue to pour into the FTC once I showed how this could be done.

With several websites, as a result of all this noise that I’ve been making, now doing their own independent investigations, writing articles (1, 2), thus getting on-the-record responses, it is becoming more and more clearer that this entire project has been mismanaged, backers have been misled and lied to, and the creators of this project have been seemingly unjustly enriched by their actions.

And so, last week now comes media reports of refunds being issued more frequently. Though, once again, Chris Roberts is playing down the impact of this, as if after all the lies, misleading statements, scope creep, failure to deliver on promises etc, that somehow getting a refund is a privilege, and not a right. In short, these people have absolutely no idea what doing the right thing entails.

Aside from all this, there are also issues and questions related to the distribution of wealth which in turn calls into question the issue of nepotism (which, for the record, I have no problems with, if the family members are competent and are not disproportionately compensated) whereby Sandra Roberts (née Sandi Gardiner, who he is reported to have met while she was his intern at one of the studios he worked at; though we still don’t even if know yet if that is her real maiden name; as in this reality show from her filmography, she’s called Mandy)  wife (why this is such a closely guarded secret, still eludes most of us; but my legal investigators are still working on that one) of Chris Roberts, having been caught lying in various (1, 2 @18:45) public statements about her credentials (which appears to be the continuation of a pattern of wanton dishonesty that plagues this project) is somehow part of the machine that runs this project without any accountability to the very backers like myself who made it possible and who are seeking answers.

I should also point out that since my blogs went up, both her old and new LinkedIn profiles, containing this false information mentioned in my blog, the first which was even being discussed here on Reddit back in April 2014, have now disappeared. But yes – we have screen caps of both – and we will subpoena LinkedIn for them if needed.

Aside for all this, somewhere between Oct 2012 and now, in addition to being the VP of marketing she has now been credited as the “co-creator” of the Star Citizen project. This is someone who, by way of numerous (yes, we have them; nice of you to ask) statements in various interviews, has given many contradicting accounts of games she’s either played or is familiar with. Take that for what you will; but that’s what depositions are for.

Further, with Erin Roberts (Disclaimer: I’m a fan of his work), a widely respected, and capable developer, taking the executive producer reins, following Alex Mayberry’s departure (yet another key event that they kept quiet, until I made it public), we now have three family members, at the top of the corporate ladder, running an $86m+ crowd-funded project that is, by all accounts, off track, while money continues to be poured into it and going to these very same people who seemingly have no incentive to finish the project as long as money keeps flowing in through crowd-funding.

Is Star Citizen an MMO?

“No! Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.”

SECOND RULE OF FIGHT CLUB: GO AHEAD AND TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB

Why direct and no publisher?

Publishers are useful in the old physical distribution world, but the Internet is the great equalizer. Notch didn’t need a publisher to reach 20-million Minecraft fans. Riot games didn’t need a publisher to reach 30-million League of Legends players, and Wargaming.net didn’t need a publisher to reach 20-million World of Tanks gamers. If we were building a big “AAA” console game it would be crazy to try without a publisher. But we want to build a PC game and publishers increase costs because of their need to recoup their sizable overhead cost. We want to make sure all the money raised goes directly to the development of the game. So we’re throwing ourselves on the mercy of the PC gamers out there that share our vision and passion for the platform and the space combat genre to raise money outside of the “cartel” of traditional publishers. The game will cost less, be more creatively pure, and, most importantly, be built for the real “core” audience – not some corporate suit worried about including all the casual gamers.

And with that, I have decided to make good on previous statements calling for accountability.

Aside from the FTC guidelines on crowd-funding, as well as actions they have taken against companies that seek to defraud consumers, and because I have reasons to believe that this entire project now borders on consumer fraud, regardless of the risks to myself, my family etc or the amount of aggravation (attacking the messenger is an exercise in futility) that this is no doubt going to cause me, I am going to continue fighting this, while working with the Federal authorities, including the FBI, to get to the bottom of what is going on with this project and where backer money is going.

And to add to all that, I have instructed one of the CA attorneys (there are two firms handling this) to send the RSI officers, a demand letter that is very clear and leaves no room for interpretation. Their response – if any – will determine where we go from here, regardless of what the federal authorities decide do. You can read that letter here

As all previous calls for accountability have failed, we don’t expect RSI to co-operate (hence the need to contact the Federal authorities), with us. Which means that the next steps, depending on how they respond to the letter, would be for a class-action lawsuit (already in various stages of preparation), to move forward and be immediately filed. And through that, we’re going to subpoena and depose every single key person, while asking for specific documents during discovery which will hopefully shed a light on what is going on. They will ask for protective orders, try to delay and drag things out etc. We will fight it every step of the way and my guess is that with the Federal authorities involved, it may get resolved even before it gets to trial; and then we’ll have answers either way.

And if they do fight this, they’re going to do it with your money, simply because they don’t believe that you – the backers – are entitled to accountability. If they had nothing to hide, resolving this matter should be very straightforward.

Sadly, I feel that this is the only way that we are going to get the answers that we are entitled to, before this whole thing collapses and makes it more difficult to sift through; especially where spoliation of material evidence becomes an issue. Not to mention the fact that they have studios outside of North America, which will make things even more difficult to sift through.

As an example of a similar incident (one of several throughout our history), the State Of Rhode island, almost four years later, is still sifting through the sudden collapse of 38 Studios , which was a total loss of a $150m+ project, with a $75m loss for the State alone. Given the pitiful sale of some recovered assets, the needle on this loss recovery, hardly moved. And yes, there is still an open criminal investigation into that one.

And if they don’t co-operate, all of you who are backers, should ask yourselves why that is. Especially considering the fact that the demands are very reasonable, and I haven’t even said anything about taking legal action for defamation. Why? Because this whole thing is bigger than me and my $250 investment.

Nor am I paying $350 / hr attorneys because I’d rather throw it away on a pointless cause which, depending on how things go, could cost me well over $100K before it even gets to discovery.  I believe that what I am doing is the right thing to do, and so I am going to put my money where my mouth is because I believe that there is something very fishy going on here, and which they want to keep hidden from the public view, especially the backers.

This whole thing started out July 4th, 2015 weekend as an opinion piece about a project, seemingly out of control, and which I had backed in good faith for an industry peer and someone who a lot of us trusted. Not unlike the so many crowd-funded projects (not just videogames) which I have backed over the years whereby some have delivered, some failed, and some are yet to deliver. Chris Roberts and co, while throwing caution to the wind in wanton displays of what can only be described as sheer arrogance, decided that the best course of action was to ignore the questions being asked by backers like myself and others, while taking steps against us – the very backers – to silence dissent. Accountability be damned.

And he’s done this all before (12, 3, 4, 5, 6), in the wake of the total collapse of Digital Anvil, following Chris being reportedly removed from Digital Anvil, by Microsoft.

Here I quote from one of those media articles linked above:

“In the wake of the collapse of Digital Anvil, co-founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Chris Roberts has spoken about his decision to leave the company he founded just four years ago. As we suspected, the company’s troubles were down to “wanting to develop not only hugely ambitious games, but too many hugely ambitious games“, leaving the company’s finances stretched after four years without a single game being released – the sole title to emerge with the Digital Anvil name on it was actually mostly developed by a small British company.”

He subsequently quit the industry, and headed for Hollywood. Never to be seen, or head from again in the industry, for decades. And he didn’t fare well there either. After struggling through a string of mediocre to bad movies, in late 2012, returning to the industry, broke (according to my sources), he unveils a new project and came, hat in hand, asking gaming for money. Out of nostalgia, and sheer love for our beloved space combat genre, we foolishly gave him over $2.1m. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, using nothing but promises and a well oiled and very expensive PR (yet another broken promise about funding public relations, yet he can afford Swofford Media) hype machine, instead of building and delivering the game as promised, they continued increasing the scope, while asking for more and more money. Now we’re collectively $86m in. UPDATE: As of this writing, that number is now $87.7m.

Chris Roberts’ Hollywood Filmography

The Punisher
The Jacket
The Big White
Lord of War
Ask the Dust
Lucky Number Slevin
Who’s Your Caddy
Outlander
Black Water Transit
Unnamed film, reported to have gone bankrupt, and subject to on-going lawsuits
Wing Commander: The Movie (based on his earlier game). And while we’re on the subject, here is a quote from an interview that he gave, about what went wrong with this movie (which he left the games industry to go to Hollywood and eventually make).

So if anyone asks what went wrong with the Wing Commander film, there you go. You had a first-time director dealing with a compressed pre-production schedule, and a smaller than average budget for the effects-driven science fiction movie. Roberts said he wished someone had sat him down, forced him to pick four or five things that it was important to do well, and focus on those. Instead he tried to do too much, and didn’t have the budget nor time to do any of it particularly well.

And now with backer money, he’s paying himself a high salary, living the life of luxury in a house on Pacific Palisades reported to cost over $11K per month in rent, luxury vehicles, staff, funding his wife’s pet movie projects, flying all over the world etc. All with backer money that was crowd-funded for the development of Star Citizen.

If any of that rings a bell, it should, because one Erik Chavalier, after months of investigation and complaints, got nailed by the FTC earlier this year. And I quote:

So where did Chevalier go wrong? He told his backers that he would use the money he raised to manufacture the “Doom” board game. He also told them that he would provide specific rewards – like copies of the game and pewter figurines – if the campaign reached its goal. A year after the campaign raised nearly four times its goal, rather than providing rewards, Chevalier announced that he wouldn’t produce the game after all. According to the FTC, Chevalier spent most of the Kickstarter money on himself, not the project.

This was a small amount of money, and he came to a settlement with the FTC.

If anyone else was doing, or had done this, it would be headline news, all day, every day. But since Chris Roberts’ legacy goes right down to the roots of the industry, plus he’s not some low hanging fruit in the industry hierarchy, most are turning a blind eye – at the expense of gamers, and the gaming industry proper.

WHEN THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS, GO FOR BROKE

What will the gameplay be like?

Star Citizen will feature gameplay similar to the original Wing Commander and Privateer, with a more realistic physics system. This means that it is NOT a ‘click to kill’ interface like most modern MMOs; your success in combat is going to depend as much on your skill with a space fighter as it will with your ship upgrades and your pocket book.

I had promised that I would never let them get away with it because, aside from the long-term ramifications stemming from the total loss of this project, the fallout will have far greater consequences for the videogame industry as whole. Not to mention the impact that it will have on the upcoming generation of developers who will find it that much harder to fund their projects due to the lack of confidence by the gamers who continue to be burned by some developers running these crowd-funded projects. The steady decline in the success rate of crowd-funded projects, is already testament to this sea change.

As far as this project is concerned, from my observation and experience, it is my opinion that if they ever ship a completed Star Citizen game, that is true to the “vision” they have been selling, it will be a game that could have been made in four years for $20m. Instead, with all this resource waste due to bad project management, scope creep, wasteful and improper spending etc, they would have blown through $86m+ and with zero accounting for where the money went. But hey, they shipped something, right? But since I don’t believe that the game – as pitched – will ever see the light of day, backers are going lose, no matter how this ends.

Here is the crucial problem with this. The minute they deliver a “game” that fits the framework they have described, regardless of how buggy or incomplete it is, the legal hurdle of accountability becomes harder to get over. For example. You pay me $100 to build you a quality box. Then through delays you start getting irate, forcing me to deliver or face legal consequences. The end result is that I’m going to build you a flimsy box for $10. Now you have a box. I get to keep $90. You now have to decide whether or not it’s worth coming after me for building you a cheap flimsy box. How many times haven’t you ordered something online, received it, then had to return it because the quality or operation was not as expected? That’s what we’re facing here if we don’t push for accountability. Except in this regard, you won’t be able to return it; nor will you be able to get a refund. Unless there is fraud and/or criminal conduct uncovered, they will get away with it; walking away with millions of dollars either through unjust enrichment, or spent foolishly in order to keep up appearances.

So, as a first step toward obtaining accountability, you can see from the aforementioned demand letter, that I have been very reasonable, asking for only three simple things which I believe will put everyone’s mind at ease:

1) An accounting of how the money thus far crowd-funded has been spent.

This will not only show precisely how much actually went into the game development, but also how much money, if any, the officers of the company personally took from the proceeds, aside from payment for services. The key here is that any money taken from these funds for personal (e.g. Sandra Roberts’ movie pet project) gain and outside of reasonable payment for services for this project, would be illegal. For example, if any money was siphoned from this project into personal and/or off-shore bank accounts, or taken as payment for prior services, that would be illegal.

The FTC has specific guidelines for how crowd-funded money is to be spent, and since this funding all took place on-line, if there is any appearance of malfeasance or fraud, it would fall under wire fraud, putting it within the purview of the IRS and the FBI.

So I feel that to avoid any such accusations and allegations, and a benefit to the backers, allowing a forensic accounting of this project – not even by me – will set aside all these concerns.

Allowing this financial audit will also serve to show if in fact there is sufficient money to complete the project, if funding were to cease without notice.

If RSI have nothing to hide, this shouldn’t be an issue for a company that was built on crowd-funded money and which has said multiple times, that it would be open about the project. Well, being open also means accounting for the money raised as this is not a private venture-backed piggy bank.

Especially now that the funding spigot is slowing turning off, and has been since earlier this Summer. Which means that with so much work left to do, and so little having been delivered to date, a project that’s now slated for completion at the end of 2016, without the money to continue funding this project, it will suddenly collapse.

Which is why they keep doing these sales; especially during these elaborate and expensive media events. For example, ahead of the recent Gamescom 2015 show, they had raised $85.6K. A little over 48 hrs later after the sale (remember those $350 a pop ships mentioned earlier?), they were a little over $86.6K. Which means that during that period alone, they raised more money than they did the entire month of July.

And if you think that the burn rate for a project run through four studios around the world, and which, at it’s peak had 500+ employees and contractors, is anything less than an average of $3m per month, then you know nothing about this industry. Even now that Chris Roberts has gone on the record and stated having almost 300 people (he said employees, but nothing about contractors), that burn rate will remain high. Which means that with now less than $1m in monthly revenue, all indications are that the project is headed for financial trouble.

Finally, in Section VII of their own ToS, they indicated thus:

For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost. In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.

They haven’t delivered on the original Kickstarter which had an estimated delivery date of Nov 2014. As of August 2015, they still had not delivered. And now Chris Roberts is quoting end of 2016 for full delivery. The original items (listed in my demand letter) have neither been completed, nor delivered as of the aforementioned date. Which is why this clause – in their own TOS – should now trigger. But they have thus far failed to honor it; much like every other promise they have now broken.

2) A date certain for the delivery of the completed project as promised.

Though Chris Roberts has made statements (as recently as last week) alluding to the delivery of the complete Star Citizen project by end of 2016; it is as vague and unbelievable as previous promises made; none of which have thus far been fulfilled. So putting this on the record, yields yet another cause of action if they fail to deliver yet again.

There are currently a little over 967K registered accounts (creating a forum account adds to this count, it doesn’t mean you’re a backer), of which a little over 750K are actual backers (who have spent money on the game at some point or another). And most of these want to know what is going on with the project and with their money.

3) Issuing refunds.

Again, if they are confident that some backers have no problems waiting for the project which may or may not be delivered, then there should be no problem with setting up a website, or similar service through which those who want their money back, can request a refund.

Chris Roberts has made several statements that the project can be completed if funding stopped. That said, betting on the backers good faith should be easy enough to do. So they should offer no-questions-asked refunds to those who request it.

And before anyone asks what about the fact that some asking refunds have had access to the hangar and Arena Commander modules, so why refund them? The answer is simple: That’s not the “game” they backed.

Regardless of who wants to challenge the draconian ToS that RSI has on their website, at the very least, every single Kickstarter backer from 2012 who requests a refund, should get it. No questions asked. After all, just run a sale of $500 apiece virtual ships, and boom – the Star Citizen whales would have put their money where their mouth is, and funded dissenters “straight outta the cult” (see what I did there? it’s called hyperbole).

Kickstarter Pitch Quote

What you’ve seen was put together by a very small team over the past year. We felt that this vision needed to be shown rather than talked about so we invested our own money to build the technical and visual prototype that shows just how Star Citizen is going to push the limits of PC games.

Instead of taking this prototype to a publisher for a green light, we are cutting out the middleman and taking it to you.

You as the customer get the ultimate vote in whether we make this game. Your dollars are your votes and the better we do the more resources we’ll have to bring you a great game.

We have investors that have agreed to contribute the balance we need to complete this game as long as we can validate that there is a demand for a high end PC space game. By meeting or surpassing our target on Kickstarter you tell the world that you want a PC based Space Sim and allow us to make this game.

HOW TO OBTAIN RELIEF

Though we have heard from a lot of people who have been trying to get refunds with no success, while some have been quietly getting refunds since my blogs went up, we have now setup a new email address ([email protected]) to contact us with your story.

 

So, if you feel that you have been misled when you backed the Star Citizen project after Oct, 2012, and you want a chance to get your money back, the FTC has setup a special department that deals with crowd-funding complaints. You can fill out this form. Then select “Internet services, online shopping, or computers” then “Online shopping”. You can read more about that over here.

Cloud Imperium, LLC
9255 Sunset Blvd STE 803
West Hollywood, CA 90069
http://robertsspaceindustries.com
[email protected]

Note that even if you are not a backer of this project, make no mistake, you have every right to call into question anything you suspect is tantamount to consumer fraud of any kind. That’s why there are numerous resources online for specifically that purpose. And you don’t have to be a backer or whistle-blower to do it. The FTC goes after companies all the time. Here is an entire public listing of their efforts and remedies.

Direct from the FTC:

The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. Stipulated orders have the force of law when approved and signed by the District Court judge.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.

Also, the Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) is a California statute that seeks to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices. It identifies various unlawful practices in the sale or lease of goods or services to a consumer, including:

  1. Misrepresenting the source, certification, origin, or quality of goods and services;
  2. Advertising goods or services with intent not to sell them as advertised;
  3. Representing that a transaction has or involves rights, remedies or obligations that it does not have or involve, or that are prohibited by law;
  4. Representing that the consumer will receive a rebate, discount or other economic benefit, if the earning of the benefit is contingent on an event occurring after the transaction; or
  5. Inserting an unconscionable provision in the contract.

EPILOGUE

In closing, those making noise about me being a jealous (that always cracks me up) competitor, here is something you can quote:

I have been involved in gaming for almost thirty years. My first game was released back in 1996 amid great controversy and derision that, after almost killing my game dev career before it even got started, sparked many an Internet flame war and urban legends.

Despite those shaky beginnings, I worked hard, got good at it, and to date, I have funded, developed and released over a dozen games across various IP. I started out as an indie, and did everything in my power to remain as such; even back when I had publishers for my earlier projects.

I have survived every single industry change, watched publishers and developers alike, come and go; but I am still here because I love this industry, love what I do and make no excuses or comprises for my involvement in it. My games have survived the years because I have a specific niche that I cater to. I have gamers who buy my games because they are fans, I tend not to lie to them, mislead them, or otherwise seek to exploit them in any way, shape or form.

So those of you trying to make this about me, while comparing (UPDATE: Fine, here you go) my still in development Line Of Defense game, which, aside from graphics fidelity, is far more advanced (scope, technology, features) than Star Citizen (which isn’t even as advanced as Universal Combat in scope or technology for that matter), are being foolish, misinformed, and petty. It’s a distraction that simply won’t work.

Further, the only common elements that both games have, is that they both have a space combat and fps components. Nothing else. You might as well compare football to basketball, just because there is a ball in play, and there are people running around in shorts.

I need not remind anyone that my game was in development as far back as 2010, and I backed Star Citizen in 2012, not knowing that this is where we would be today.

Aside from that, as I mentioned in my Interstellar Citizens blog, the success of these new and upcoming space games (Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, Into The Stars, Everspace et al), I thought would further strength the genre (which has seen a dearth of mainstream games in past years), and in turn, the market for my own games in the genre. Which is why I backed all of them, write about them on social media, blogs, forums etc. So why on Earth would I not want this game to succeed?!?!

Do I need to mention that my game is also free to play; and that upon completion, the barrier of entry is $0, which means that people can make up their own minds without me having to get into spats with a competitor? Not that there is anything remotely wrong with competitors getting into spats. Assuming you haven’t been in a coma through all the Microsoft v Sony, Apple v Samsung, Google v Everybody, spats, you probably already knew that. Heck, they even take out million dollar ads to throw shade on competing products. And it’s perfectly legal.

Not to mention the fact that, as an avid, hard-core gamer, I own every single PC space combat game ever made; and have a gaming library (here are some old pics from 2008 of some of them in a game room) of over 30K titles, with my legacy boxed ones currently stored in an expensive climate-controlled storage facility. And they are still there because, given the volume and the logistics involved, I haven’t gotten around to having them shipped to one of the two museums (one of which, The MADE, I helped fund on Kickstarter as 1-of-the-9) I was planning on donating them to.

So no, this discourse has nothing to do with my game or about being a competitor.

It has everything to do with a game I backed and which, prior to my first blog, I have always cheered on because I believed that they could pull it off. Precisely what I said in my first blog. It is with that same enthusiasm that I backed Elite Dangerous and the recent Everspace space combat games, and so many others.

Aside from this noise coming from me, how are my protests, questions about accountability, scope creep etc, that much different from so many that have gone on in the media, forums etc, since 2013, and which are still going on? Remember, I only started this during weekend of July 4th, 2015.

Had Chris Roberts and co not maintained a pattern of dishonesty, then when called out, foolishly singled me out, then went for broke and tried to silence me with the actions that they took, and which gave me a clear indication that they had something to hide, we would never have come this far.

Finally, in this legal action that I have now initiated, note that I haven’t asked for anything that benefits me in any, way, shape or form. This is not, and never was, about me nor my game.

That is all.


ALL STAR CITIZEN BLOGS

484 thoughts on “Interstellar Breach

  1. lost me the moment you misquoted fight club. one does not simply misquote fight club.
  2. to put it simple WHY WOULD YOU TRUST A COMPANY WITH YOUR $$ ON A GAME THAT ISNT EVEN MADE YET?

    all of you people who “donated” are fools they can do whatever they want with the money since its a donation if they want to cut and run which will happen it will happen and all of you fools will be left with nothing.

    WAKE UP people you gave money to a game that wasnt even in the alpha stage what do you expect ? seriously ?

    of course they are going to take the money and leave spend it for personal use if you thought a company would be honorable lol?

    you all are fools
    anyone who puts a dime into a kickstarter is a total fool , you get no guarantee you may as well throw your money away in the street

  3. Has anyone noticed the dev tracker posts? I read them occasionally, and it seems at least half of them are these ridiculous, pie-in-the-sky wishlists. They’re talking about self-destruct mechanics, smuggling, pvp, electronic warfare, ship repairs – if you’ve ever heard of it, it’s being discussed.

    Of course, none of those mechanics are in the game. It’s basically a giant game of “Who Would Win” (you know, “who would win in a fight, Iron Man or Spider-Man”) except it’s “wouldn’t it be cool if”. These guys barely have the foundations of a playable game, and their followers are off and running discussing mechanics that are so far away you’d need a jumpgate to reach them.

    I also enjoy reading the criticism defense machine in action. No matter how legitimate the complaint, it follows the same pattern that every single game ever produced follows:

    1) Criticism during Alpha: “It’s in alpha, what do you expect? This will get fixed, be patient.”
    2) Criticism during Beta: “It’s in beta – do you understand what that means? Let them fix these things for release, then complain.”
    3) Criticism after release: “The game just came out – grow up and be patient, you kids with your instant gratification expect everything perfect right out of the gate…”
    4) Criticism a year after release: “The developers have made lots of fixes, stop complaining that they didn’t get to yours fast enough and just shut up and enjoy what’s there.”

    This goes on forever. The lesson is clear: vote with your dollars, and don’t try to give constructive criticism. The insane community members are not interested in improving the game, they’re interested in maintaining the illusion that it’s already perfect.

    I also have had a great time watching the “10 for the Chairman” videos. I’ll give credit to Chris for one thing, he doesn’t cherry-pick the questions to make sure only the easiest to answer make it into his video. He also doesn’t come across as a snake-oil salesman or as dishonest when he gives his answers – the videos seem off-the-cuff and totally unrehearsed – which I like. Unfortunately the result is a very clear window into how incomplete everything is – not just the game, but even the basic design (the thing that’s supposed to be finished before you start writing code.)

    Lots of his answers are variations of “I don’t know”, “we’re not sure”, “that would be cool if we could do that”, etc. The only clear answer he gave was about how the procedural generation seeding worked. If someone who didn’t know better was watching those videos, they might be forgiven for thinking that it’s still 2012 and the design committee is still ironing out the foundation.

    It’s sad that after $90 million dollars and years of effort, we have an unentertaining dogfighting module and a really shitty virtual chatroom. Graphics are A+ though, and so is the immersion (sound, music, overall feel). The first flight tutorial has done things I’ve never personally seen before – you start out on your feet FPS style, the NPC pilot tutor walks you to your ship, you get in the cockpit, he gets in his – you can watch through your canopy as he takes off, then you take off yourself. When you finally exit the hangar, the sense of scale is breathtaking – and then it hits you that the whole thing was seamless – no loading screens, with all these things happening in the same virtual space.

    I’ve never seen anything like it before, and it would be fantastic if not for the fact that it barely functions as a single-player game, much less a massive multiplayer universe. Once that initial shock and awe fades, you’re left to ponder just how empty the experience really is. It’s not much more than a tech demo – something you’d see at E3 to try to sell a customized engine to would-be developers. I played AC precisely twice, and totally lost my desire to do it again. Contrast this with X-Wing, Tie Fighter, Wing Commander, etc. which were (old) games that had be completely glued to my seat, for just “one more mission” until it was 1:00 AM. Not getting that vibe here at all.

    I still think this will wind up, at best, as completely separate modules with a hub, all of them shallow examples of their respective genres. You’ll choose to play a half-baked FPS, or a half-baked flight sim, or a half-baked social sim, with loading screens between each.

    At worst, it will dissolve entirely.

    1. Gary:

      This is precisely why most of us as very disappointed. They have all the mechanics to make the original game. The small bits you highlighted are part of that immersion, and yes, it’s totally awesome. Sadly, those things are few and far between; not to mention overshadowed by the on-going drama and non-delivery.

      I don’t believe that this game will ever be completed. As I’ve stated before, and again in my “Star Citizen – The Long Con” blog which goes live later today, it will either suffer a catastrophic collapse, or they will release a bunch of shoddy and buggy modules.

    2. This is always the way it is with software. This is always the way it is with hardware. This is even the way how it is with cars you buy.

      What you initialy wanted to say?

      I think Gary has a point but it is not a real big thing atm. RSI delivers, even they are late. If they NOT deiliver we may start ask questions.

  4. I think if some random clown can spend 20k on a pre-alpha game, is that enough to warn anyone to stay the fuck out of this? Those wheals are not helping the project, they are ruining it. It was them provided the means to allow dev to become arrogant. SC evolved to become this pathetic ego club was because they shifted focus from the rest of community toward these whales. SC is now a game made for the rebid internet clowns whom thinks they are the shit. That is if this game was made eventually, because right now SC does not exist yet, we have a cult build around hallucination, a bunch zealots pretending they are playing this greatest game ever which is not there.
  5. Whilst I have no say in all of this I will say that from our conversation on Reddit that you have come over as informed and to me polite.
    So thanks for that 🙂
    1. Vestinious:

      People who know me and interact with me, know that I am always polite to those who extend the same. I simply do not respond well to bullying or harassment.

      So your experience with me is what usually happens when people, even in disagreement, engage me in respectful discussion. It’s not hard, but some people simply don’t know that there is a line.

  6. So a bunch of White Knight loons are passing around an FTC letter which Star Citizen’s #1 backer (accelerwraith, the target of this controversial article, and nutcase mentioned here) received when he sent in a FOIA request to find out if RSI/CIG was under FTC investigation.

    Naturally, a bunch of clueless tools are spreading it and trying to pass it off as either a) aha! no, there is no investigation b) Derek Smart is lying

    Which isn’t at all surprising considering who the Usual Suspects are in this latest farce.

    This is the same guy who, last we checked, was over $20K (!) in the hole (which is enough to depress anyone. see what I did there?), was featured by RSI in the past, called out for his ludicrous and abusive SC advocacy, then subsequently banned from RSI forums for good measure.

    In fact, he’s one of the primary whales who continues to lash out at anyone, including other backers, who even put a sentence together that has any sort of dissent against Star Citizen. Go to any media or game forum where Star Citizen is the subject, and you’ll find him (accelerwraith) there. Guaranteed.

    So yeah, that guy.

    What’s even more curious is that they don’t even know how an FOIA request works. The agency responds to specific queries, and have specific exceptions to what they can, cannot respond to. Particularly an active investigation. It says so right there in Exception #7

    Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that:

    7(A). Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings
    7(B). Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication
    7(C). Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy
    7(D). Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source
    7(E). Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions
    7(F). Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual

    What are exclusions?

    Congress has provided special protection in the FOIA for three narrow categories of law enforcement and national security records. The provisions protecting those records are known as “exclusions.” The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The second exclusion is limited to criminal law enforcement agencies and protects the existence of informant records when the informant’s status has not been officially confirmed. The third exclusion is limited to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified. Records falling within an exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. So, when an office or agency responds to your request, its response will encompass those records that are subject to the FOIA.

    Aside from that, I don’t even know where they get the idea (I know I never said it; and again clarified that. And reporting a matter to the Feds doesn’t automatically start an investigation, nor will they even divulge that information even if there was) from that RSI/CIG were under any active “investigation”. By their (these White Knights) submission, you might as well pick any company that’s been reported to the FTC, then send a FOIA request to the FTC asking for details. Good luck with that.

    Simply put, it doesn’t happen like that.

    I have done several FOIA requests over the years, and I know precisely how they work. In fact, one such request came back with no records found, until we re-submitted it with additional relevant details. And then they rejected it because it was a request on a person (they have strict rules for this).

    The gist here is that they’re obviously worried, as they should be. Regardless of what happens to RSI/CIG via a lawsuit, Fed action or whatever, the project is completely FUBAR and there is absolutely no way around it.

    UPDATE:

    So after this nutcase, Accelerwraith (btw, this is him again on engadget) read this comment, as bullies tend to do, he decided to play the victim by posting this gem to his Reddit sycophants.

    So, this is the level of class you can expect from Amun_Kohnsu and Derek Smart.
    Note that I’m putting this right out there. If I’d wanted to hide it, I would’ve used a burner account. Especially after CitizenGate… :p
    Now, let’s talk about the type of men who would take such publicly available information, treat it as a serendipitous secret (it’s adorable how they’re both playing pretend together, about I deleted the thread that still very much exists here:) and try to shame me with it. Especially since Smart’s wife is a psychotherapist who trains other psychiatric professionals.

    Note that he did in fact delete the thread, but then un-deleted it, as he later admitted to – right there on Reddit. And Amun is another vocal Star Citizen backer who has been raising questions on his website and other places as well.

    Anyway, I responded in an attempt to hold him accountable for his words and actions, in the only way that I know to deal with bullies.

    And he’s still in denial. The wording in the response is key. So let me quote it for context:

    Our search of the FTC’s records did not identify any record that would respond to your request. If you believe that you have additional information that may help locate responsive records, please submit a new FOIA request with further details

    1. Hmm… I used to care about this stuff but I’ve gotten a bit numb to it all after nearly 3 months of back and forth. I think CIG did the right thing in largely avoiding engagement, its the professional thing to do. Anyway, despite initial alarm I’ve since tuned out and now focus on what I can see rather than what I can’t. Derek you’d probably be better off withdrawing and just doing what you set out to do rather than keep engaging ‘trolls’, ‘white knights’ or ‘fan boys’. It just adds a whole lot of noise to whatever it is your aiming to achieve here(there’s been so much noise I’ve forgotten!). In the meantime CIG keep quietly chipping away on their project and it looks like either Star Marine or the alpha release of the PU is coming around citizencon so its getting harder to argue they’re in trouble. Once certain boxes are ticked I do expect them to start scaling back the development team though. 300+ skilled people is a lot of mouths to feed and its not sustainable long term. Whilst they’re downsizing they should also should consider merging Austin and Santa Monica together. You break down a communication barrier and avoid costly overheads such as renting a large office space and all the amenities that go with it.
  7. posted in another blog last month

    ===
    So they have released the first pass of the social/planetside module in the recent 1.2 update which, amid cries of foul, went live to all backers, not just those selected for participation in the PTU (Public Test Universe).

    Here is the release announcement by Tony Zurovec (He’s in charge of the Persistent Universe. Yes, he’s a fantastic developer who joined CIG a little over a year ago).

    Yes, I have played it since it was in the PTU.

    It looks outstanding! But as I’ve stated before, I don’t believe that anyone is going to be arguing about the visual fidelity of this game. So I’m not going to waste my time on that. As I’ve always said, they have a team of stellar content creators and developers who are stretching CryEngine3 to its full potential.

    From the standpoint of a game developer and engineer, an avid gamer and ex-backer (FYI. I am no longer an official backer. My office received a check directly from Ortwin via FEDEX yesterday. More on this in another blog due out next week; and in which I will post an image of the check, showing the 08/24 check date etc) of this project, I am very disappointed in this release.

    Why? I hear you ask.

    Simple. They are doing precisely what I predicted that they would do, now that all this noise that we’re all making has thrown this project, and its creators into the “wtf is going on!? spotlight, garnered the attention of the Feds via the many reports etc.

    Let me quote what I said in my latest Interstellar Breach blog on the matter; and the one that contained the legal demand letter they were sent last week.

    As far as this project is concerned, from my observation and experience, it is my opinion that if they ever ship a completed Star Citizen game, that is true to the “vision” they have been selling, it will be a game that could have been made in four years for $20m.

    Instead, with all this resource waste due to bad project management, scope creep, wasteful and improper spending etc, they would have blown through $86m+ and with zero accounting for where the money went. But hey, they shipped something, right? But since I don’t believe that the game – as pitched – will ever see the light of day, backers are going lose, no matter how this ends.

    Here is the crucial problem with this. The minute they deliver a “game” that fits the framework they have described, regardless of how buggy or incomplete it is, the legal hurdle of accountability becomes harder to get over.

    For example. You pay me $100 to build you a quality box. Then through delays you start getting irate, forcing me to deliver or face legal consequences. The end result is that I’m going to build you a flimsy box for $10. Now you have a box. I get to keep $90.

    You now have to decide whether or not it’s worth coming after me for building you a cheap flimsy box.

    How many times haven’t you ordered something online, received it, then had to return it because the quality or operation was not as expected? That’s what we’re facing here if we don’t push for accountability. Except in this regard, you won’t be able to return it; nor will you be able to get a refund.

    Unless there is fraud and/or criminal conduct uncovered, they will get away with it; walking away with millions of dollars either through unjust enrichment, or spent foolishly in order to keep up appearances.

    Having seen what they released a few days ago as the social/planetside module, there is no doubt in my mind that precisely what I said above, is what they’re doing now.

    This module was in no way, shape or form ready for release. Yet they released it in order to – for the first time – make a deadline in order to “silence” critics like me in an effort to show that stuff is coming.

    I am just shocked that $88m+, 500+ people and four years later, backers to date, only have three largely buggy and incomplete modules, with network code that is still incredibly sub-par.

    And no, they didn’t meet this end of Aug deadline as many seem to think, and which White Knights are rejoicing over. This module is vastly incomplete, contains glaring bugs etc and there is no way on this God’s Earth that anyone can tell me that they didn’t know about these bugs ahead of the release, seeing how obvious they are.

    Worse still, they have to build 800 of these things. At first, it was 100. It’s now Aug 2015 and the 1st one – right out of the gate – is this beautiful, incomplete mess.

    And CR says the game will be complete by end of 2016.

    Take a look at the epic looking Nyx Landing Zone video

    . Yet another example of how spectacular this game looks.

    Now look again. See that chugging? Those are some of the performance issues that they’re going to be facing. And this is just one client in this “level”. Imagine what’s going to happen with 4, let alone 24 (or whatever client count they’re shooting for these days) clients in here at that visual fidelity level.

    Oh, and as I understand it, this is just a flyby landing zone. So yeah, all this work for what amounts to a glorified landing cut-scene in the social/planetside module. Most are going to skip it once the novelty wears off.

    And let’s not even get into the performance issues.

    Anyway, here’s the thing. We already saw this ArCorp level at GC2015 a month ago. And we know now that it was staged because the experience (from my play through and from other reviews) we saw then, is totally different from what they have now released.

    Let me explain staged:

    “In dev speak, the term “staged” means to have been designed and executed specifically for a different purpose other than that which would be experienced by a user.

    In this regard, even by the directions that CR was giving which in and of itself is part of the “staging” process, it was easy to see that the team of players only flowed the way they did because there was a director (in this case, Chris) in charge.

    Also, we saw the same client/user “sprinting” (actually is “positional rubberbanding”) in the 1.2 PTU just now released, that we saw a month ago in that demo. And of course, we didn’t see people falling through the world, clipping into geometry etc. Pretty much, most of what is in this user review of the 1.2 PTU wasn’t evident (at least not clearly) in that presentation.

    Finally, if you looked at the recent dev update, you will see references to merging code from the Gamescon build. That means they had a special build for that event and which was not part of the current dev pipeline.

    So no, that presentation was not indicative of the actual experience that a gamer would have. And that’s now evident in the 1.2 PTU which contains those same assets, levels etc. That’s why I say it is “staged”.”

    Aside from that, back in a Forbes interview (the same one in which he said the game would cost $20m to finish) from May 2013, CR claimed that this social/planetside module would be finished and playable in 2014, with the full game being ready for delivery by the end of 2014.

    It’s now end of Aug 2015.

    Which means that it is now over a year and a half late. You can actually chart this yourself, even if you ignore the interviews themselves. In fact, here is an RSI forum thread from Feb 2014 asking about the release of this module which was scheduled for March 2014.

    Like AC 1.0 which was released in a similar fashion, and almost a year later is still buggy for the most part, this social/planetside module is also incomplete and buggy. Which, from what I’ve seen, means that there is a very good chance that it could take several months for it to get into any decent working and complete state.

    So once they release what I believe is also going to be a half-baked Star Marine and SQ42 (Episode 1) and whatever the heck they think (my guess is that they’re going to peddle it as AC 2.0 / Multi-Ship) is the PU, that box mentioned above will be their delivery vehicle for the “vision 2.0” game.

    Hangar, Arena Commander, Social/Planetside, Star Marine, SQ 42, Persistent Universe (derived from AC 2.0 w/ multi-ship)

    At that point, regardless of the quality, they would have “delivered” on Chris’ vision 2.0, thus reducing their liability. You know why? Because there is a big difference between these two:

    i) non-delivery for something you’ve taken money for

    This one keeps them open to a lawsuit. More disastrous is that it subjects them to the invasive prying eyes of the Feds (especially the FTC and the FBI) for so many reasons that when the attorneys ran me through the list a couple of weeks ago in a strategy meeting, I was astonished. In fact, while I was focusing on the FTC, I had no idea that any part of this would even fall under the purview of the FBI.

    ii) delivery of something – anything – that has no guarantee of performance

    This one can get them out of a lawsuit, and possibly the invasive prying eyes of the Feds.

    However, as we have seen with lawsuits against game companies such as Sony, Sega et al, companies can still be sued if they are perceived to have intentionally shipped a shoddy product, false advertising a product etc. So depending on who would decide to pursue this, the risks are still there. Especially given the numerous statements that CR has made over the years about this project’s schedule, scope, funding etc, which are collectively going to make it a slam dunk to get this one in front of a judge if they end up shipping a rushed and shoddy product.

    The end result is that, if they “deliver”, backers are going to end up with a shoddy mess that took five (assuming they survive 2016, which at this rate, I have no reason to believe that they will) and $88m+ to develop.

    There are those White Knights already crying foul saying that they were forced (well doh!) to release this in order to silence critics (fuck Derek Smart!), that they met (uhm, no they didn’t) a milestone release etc.

    This is all just the usual noise.

    And they’re not saying:

    “Hey hang on! Why is this, after almost two year delay, STILL IN THIS CONDITION!!?”

    While I continue to applaud the stellar development teams who are doing everything that they can to create Chris’s over-ambitious vision 2.0 pipe-dream funded by other people’s money and with zero accountability, I am still holding him 100% accountable for the disaster that is now unfolding in full public view due to the direction that he has taken this project.

    While I have nothing against ambition, the fact remains that if you make promises to backers, then break them, you should be open about it and hold yourself accountable rather than making excuses.

    And part of that “openness” means showing backers i) how their money has and is being spent ii) why they should continue giving money and putting faith in the project

    I still believe that this project is FUBAR. And it saddens me to say it. I simply do not see how, from what we’ve seen thus far and what I know, they could ever hope to deliver on promises made for this “vision 2.0” game; let alone meet the expectations of those who funded an $88m+ epic dream of a game.

    At this point, I don’t even need to sue them because for all intent and purposes, I should just sit back and wait.

  8. In truth, I can’t honestly make heads or tails of the true validity of your concerns Mr. Smart. You are obviously a clear expert in the field of video game development – I am not. My field of work is in running an Aerospace/Advanced High-Technology/Defense company and a lot of the things we do I can tell you I’ve heard “it’s impossible” yet we do it. A lot of people say that about a lot of thing throughout history – at one time people thought you’d fall off the Earth. Naturally of course, what I said and what Cloud Imperium Games does are two completely different things.

    Some parts of me say this is a publicity stunt but at the same time you make very valid points such as a lack of transparency between Cloud Imperium Games and the backers. While I won’t go so far as to say we are their bosses even though the Crowd Funding model shares a lot of similarities to stocks and bonds, I understand that what we committed to are viable products like ships, helping with the direction of the game, and other miscellaneous items.

    I know in someways you may not be the “best face” for an effort to find out what’s going on at CIG given you are developing a game that may be conceived as a competitor but at the same time someone has to do it and you have stepped up which I respect. A long time ago I purchased your game “Universal Combat” but I never got a chance to play it (didn’t have a PC quite up to spec) and now I am not sure where the disc is. In any case, I will get to what I wanted to address.

    I did some rather unscientific calculations of how much just infrastructure alone would cost to run Star Citizen in the “cloud” as they opted for Google Cloud Compute to run the backend servers and Amazon Web Services for the CDN patching (please note I excluded load balancing from my calculations as I do not know how many routes they intend to use to enter into GCE’s TCO calculator). Using EVE Online’s model of one server per a system, a choice I opted to use as I believe the said the starting game would only have 32 systems and the fact that when you don’t have access to the bare metal server you take a performance hit from a hypervisor I came up with the following:

    One server for one system would cost $5,065.22/mo
    Thirty-Two servers for thirty-two systems would cost $27,921.52/mo

    However, they are now promising something a long the lines of fifty-systems on launch? So let’s take a look:

    Fifty systems equal to fifty servers amounts to $41,192.92/mo.
    That may not sound like a lot but let’s stretch that amount out to a year: $493,315.04.

    That’s just for fifty high memory Google Cloud Compute instances with multi-threading capabilities at a reasonable level. What about Arena Commander? What about Star Marine? While I doubt they would need the raw power of the PU servers it still costs money.

    I would say that the “finished” game would easily have a TCO on GCE of at least $1 million per a year if not more.

    What about the rest of their capital? Capital for their facilities, continued development, support, etc. it’s not that hard to see that they could burn through that money pretty quickly.

    I dismissed you at first Mr. Smart until I started doing a little digging of my own and the more I saw the more I didn’t like. CIG owns none of the infrastructure the finished game is supposed to run on – opting for a cloud provider. If I ran my family of companies like that I could burn through multi-digit millions and right into the ground. There comes a point where it is better to own your own hardware if you don’t have a model to pay for the deficit caused by using a cloud provider and Cloud Imperium Games doesn’t have any such model.

    Cloud Imperium Games has raided about $3 million/mo for the last six months with two steep drops to sub $1 million – a number I expect would become common place after the “finished product” is released because than people won’t be buying $300 pledge packages. However, in total they have accumulated a bit under $90 million since their funding began way back on KickStarter.

    To put simply, the numbers don’t add up. Not unless they have obtained loans or investors or accrued an extreme amount of debt given the facilities they either lease or own and the costs associated with that as well as payroll and so much more like events.

    So let’s say for now they aren’t paying half a million a year in IT costs which is a woeful underestimate of they would likely need given the fact it’s a virtualized solution. Their payroll, given the last known average they pay employees of a little over $52,400 per a person and an employment range of about 400 that means they have to still spend $7,545,600 per a year to pay their staff.

    What I would like to know is where is all the money coming from? How are they staying afloat? I haven’t even begun to speculate on other expenditures: just IT and payroll. There’s a lot more to a business’ total expenses than that and in any conceivable manner there is no way they can be in the black.

    1. Thorne:

      It’s actually a lot worse than your analysis.

      The fact is that people don’t seem to get the fact that so many MMOs by very large companies, have failed. Though this game was billed as “not” an MMO (he’s since changed his tune), the fact is that the architectural design, requires it to be handled and maintained as such.

      I had already made a post where I said that once the game is released (if ever), that there wouldn’t be a source of revenue to maintain it in the long term. Which makes this a cash grab from the word go. Which is why when the social module was released in the manner that it was, I made this comment to highlight the route I think they’re going in.

      This is not just a matter of whether or not the game will be around in the long term. Instead, it is all about what they are able to deliver, in what form, and when.

      1. Mr. Smart,

        I had a feeling that my brief analysis which was rather unscientific given that I do not know much about how they have their infrastructure fully setup let a lone the internal workings of the company itself, was in fact a sugar coated version of the situation.

        The more and more I examine Cloud Imperium Games, the more I start to realize that they seem to be hiding something. Recently, I tried to get in contact with them directly via phone but every number published aside from the one associated with PayPal transactions was either falsified or wasn’t correct to begin with. In order for me to reach Cloud Imperium Games’ Santa Monica studio I had to have a member of my team use our rather significant pull to even obtain what may be a possibility accurate phone number as all we kept getting were mailboxes. I have direct lines to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus Group, NASA, the ESA, and far more – a crowd funded game development company shouldn’t be harder to contact.

        Maybe I don’t understand how game companies operate in terms of telephone communications but that’s actually what started it all in terms of doubts for me regarding the authenticity of Cloud Imperium Games and Star Citizen.

        Having read comment 1800, I believe you are correct. When I first stumbled across your blog Mr. Smart, as I stated previously, I wasn’t sure what to make of it but each day it becomes more apparent that Cloud Imperium Games is reacting to your statements. Releasing an unfinished social module roughly around the time span you echoed your concerns about them could ordinarily seem coincidental but this new found “previews” that they are showing off where there were none before seems to echo a pattern of trying to prove that these individual “modules” that are supposed to make up the “PU” actually do exist. In that manner it also seems like they are trying to convince themselves as well.

        I’ve always seen Star Citizen billed as this “MMO” similar to EVE Online but I was not an early backer. The only reason I backed Star Citizen was a result of Elite: Dangerous, another game I was skeptical about, releasing. However, the two are clearly taking very different approaches and one isn’t trying to completely hide their company information. While yes, there are reasons to make confidential certain pieces of company information (we do it), I can’t think of a valid reason for a game development company like Cloud Imperium Games to do so.

        I believe that in all likelihood, with the pressure beginning to be put on CIG, we’ll see the release of buggy and non-functional work. While this would ordinarily be acceptable for an “Alpha” one would have to ask at this point: “what were they doing the last four years?” However, because it’s been put out, they have met their obligation and it would be similar to the $100 box versus $10 box analogy.

        The most interesting thing to me which I would like to see is their financials. I have a feeling that Cloud Imperium Games is a “sinking ship” in that department as it has no viable revenue stream once it releases Star Citizen which, as you said, makes it a cash grab from the moment it started. No matter how many ways I make calculations, the numbers just don’t add up. If, over the course of four years, they have raised $80 million (I believe this number is actually $90 million) that means they raised $20 million per a year. So, given that they likely don’t have any real cash reserves, this means they are working on $20 million every year at the moment. Something is really “off” about that; not with the way Cloud Imperium Games appears to be spending. I fear that they are in the red as it is and this is why they don’t want to release their financial reports.

        Perhaps this is maybe because I am used to it due to our International Oversight Advisory Board, but accountability of Cloud Imperium Games needs to be addressed. As a crowd funded project, the financial health of the company itself and how it plans to achieve its objectives should be laid out clearly for anyone to view. In addition, those plans should indicate a timeline and contingencies for “X,” “Y,” and “Z” where those letters represent possible scenarios that can easily be foreseen.

        1. RE: I have direct lines to Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Airbus Group, NASA, the ESA, and far more – a crowd funded game development company shouldn’t be harder to contact.

          Cloud Imperium Games isn’t like any other crowdfunded company in history. They have the unique distinction of being the high crowdfunded project in history regardless of product category. Their crowdfunded income is 9x that of the Pebble Watch who held the top spot for a year. In many ways CIG’s crowdfunded funds is greater than some AAA publisher funds. So as the heavyweight champion in the crowdfunding space CIG has a financial obligation not only to their Backers but also to the entire crowdfunding / early access ethos. If CIG and/or Star Citizen collapses the damage is going to be felt by every developer who relies on crowdfunding and early access to make their games. Games like Shadowrun, Prison Architect and others – to name a few – would likely not exist in a post-CIG/Star Citizen collapse. CIG needs to become responsible with the money they have, transparent with the money they’ve spent, and accountable for ethical issues they caused. The only way this will happen is by making their financial information public.

    2. Not sure if the EVE comparison is the best way to approach this. I’d say since it is CryEngine based maybe one would have to look at what kind of specs a dedicated CryEngine server demands. Then you’d have to estimate what Star Citizens average amount of concurent users will be plus a bit extra for normal rush-hour peaks (like all the other MMOs they’ll never account for launch-peaks aso and servers will simply be down at launch). Given that maybe you can make a rough estimate on what they will need.

      Since CryEngine is a shooter-engine at its heart with its netcode probably aimed at 16-32 players in one instance I’d guess that they will have to massively rework the code (which will make predictions based on past CryEngine titles off base) or they’ll go the Destiny-route with having a huge world but at any given moment only a few players actually inhabit the same area.

      Their game is also very latency-sensible because of the different kinds of FPS gameplay (Footsoldiers / various Spacecraft). So they’ll need much faster connections to their datacenters than EVE I’d assume. They can’t go peer2peer because that would open up their persistent universe and player economy to all sorts of hacking shenanigans, I’d think?

  9. Why do I keep getting an impression that the whole internet is supporting SC? Its being glorified as innovative anti-establishment Jesus the savor that worth every penny. The logic usually goes like ED is an empty game boast have 4billion star system, its only an alpha in fancy coat, its concept is no match for SC, while No man sky is a space mine craft shit that not even wroth mention. SC need money to do what no one can imagine, the concept ships shows great promise of how awesome once this game is out, SC is a brilliant game that need extra time and money to work on, SC makes greater promise than the other two, therefor SC is a much better game than Elite or No man sky. It doesn matter if SC deliver or not, because once it deliver it will crash the competition and proud “citizen” will become the superior breed of the gaming world. No one dear to mess with “citizen”. Because they deserve worship from all other sector of gaming.
  10. I keep seing people referring to Star Citizen as a game that is impossible to make in its “Vision 2.0” form. I still fail to grasp what the (alleged) technical limitations are that people on this blog feel are insurmountable. Can somebody clarify this with a few bulletpoints what necessary technical achievement is considered impossible?
    1. Andre:

      It’s no allegation. It’s a technical fact.

      You should probably read my Interstellar Citizens blog, first. Then Interstellar Discourse.

      The long and short of it is that you should probably go and read their own technical blogs as well. Four years later, they’re still in custom engine development mode, with no “game” in sight.

      As I just happen to be the only person in gaming who has developed a game of that scale before, albeit at a lower visual fidelity, I know precisely what they’re trying to achieve and why I don’t believe that it will be possible.

      They’re not just building a space combat game, that’s the easy part. Everything they’ve claimed they are going to be able to do, ends up being an unwieldy and impossible mess, right from the design phase itself. And it’s not just about performance either.

      1. I’ve re-read those blogs but they do not contain the kind of information that I am looking for. I accept that you are uniquely qualified to judge the chances of success for a game like Star Citizen to be made. What I am lookin for is an explanation what exactly you think is impossible to do when it comes to Star Citizen. You mention multiple times that you have already developed games that are similar in scope and features to Star Citizen albeit at lower graphical fidelity. But I guess that merely increasing the visual quality will not render the project impossible. You must have other reasons to think it can not be done but I have found few concrete explanations of yours what exactly that is.

        What I’ve gathere is (correct me if wrong):

        You believe that what they set out to achieve is impossible to do without developing their own engine specifically tailored to the task. in the same vein you seem sceptical if CryEngine was a good choice (being a shooter-engine now being used to create a massive universe. I’ve heard the CIG devs already admit that the size of their levels goes way beyond what CryEngine was ever meant for so that is basically a proven obstacle).

        You feel that the budget is not enough given the scope of their project and the burn-rate of their studios estimating that they will need at least USD 150 million.

        You think that no current or near-future pc would be able to run the game if they fully delivered on their vision 2.0 promises.

        What I’m asking is if you could get more technical in explaining why you think so. For example if you could explain what it is that CryEngine is lacking and why these shortcomings could not be added on by CIG’s engineers. Or what would be so demanding on the hardware that you feel even if they could implement it no current home-user pc would ever be able to run it. Or what specific obstacles you encountered in your own quest to build similar games that you deem impossible to achieve with current technology and why exactly it can’t be done.

        I agree that a lot of people are brushing your opinions aside with ad hominem attacks. I also respect that you are very much qualified to pass judgement on what is attainable in developing a game like Star Citizen. But you seem to ask the reader to simply trust your assessment a lot of times and I feel that your argument would carry considerably more weight if you could explain the concrete technical issues that you see and deem insurmountable.

        It would also supply media with very specific questions to ask CIG and demand equally specific answers on how they intend to solve these problems. If they have no answers or if they come up with answers that will not hold up to the scrutiny of experts in the development community I’d say it will become undeniable that Star Citizen is headed in the wrong direction. And while I know that you do not care about how people perceive you or whether or not they believe you it is your stated goal to help those that will listen to “wake up”. I feel you will make large strides towards that goal if you present your case in terms of why the game is impossible to make even by a developer with only the best intentions in a more detailed and specific manner. Just like when On Live made their tours presenting their streaming-service as the future method of delivery for games and internet-experts were able to demonstrate that given current-day-technology even under the best of circumstances the lag caused by internet-routing etc would inevitably lead to a diminished experience for any game that required very fast user-response – let alone the quality of service for those who lived on the fringe or internet-country.

  11. First thing’s first, this comment is in no way trying to say that Derek Smart’s concerns are invalid or wrong, though I don’t agree with him.

    That said, I think many of the game journalism sites that tried to “shed light” on the supposed problems of the project, or however Mr. Smart puts it in several of his posts, before he made his first blog should also come under greater scrutiny before we take their word as unbiased or even legitimate. As far as I know, there is no game journalism site that does not receive money or free products from major publishers like EA or Activision to write reviews for their products. I see this as a form of corruption in game journalism because if you’re receiving money or free items from a company that would make you more inclined to favor their agenda, much like lobbying in government.

    A successful Star Citizen would pose a threat to the standard publisher model and as such Big Publisher would be motivated to lobby their journalism contacts in order to generate negative press for the project, to cause as much trouble as they can and even possibly incite an investigation that could at best disrupt the development of the game.

    Now I highly doubt Indie Developer Derek Smart is in Big Publisher’s pocket. However, Mr. Smart strikes me as a cautious and highly opinionated man with a lot of passion for Space Games in particular. The kind of general harassment articles lobbied by Big Publisher can sow a seed of doubt in even the most staunch defenders of Star Citizen.

    Admittedly, with Mr. Smart withholding his supposed “evidence” pending whatever legal action he has said he may take, I can’t say he is wrong but I can say that the ones who have the most to gain from the Star Citizen project failing is Big Publisher. A successful Star Citizen could have lasting repercussion on the standard publisher business model and allow even more developers to strike out on their own without the constraints and sacrifices a publisher brings

    I’m not asking for Derek Smart to stop questioning CIG. But while you ask for financial transparency for CIG, I suggest you also ask to see more financial transparency for the game journalism sites that cover Star Citizen. See who really is paying for an “unbiased” opinion. Because as far as I know, real journalism is dead.

    1. heh, this has nothing to do with journalistic ethics or integrity. The fact is that while the media have been reporting on Star Citizen, they had no choice but to take it all at face value. It’s when things start to look odd, that the pile-on starts. Which is precisely why, even before my first blog appeared, some media sites were already raising the alarm bells.

      For me, I have already made my motivation clear. And to alleviate any doubt, just scroll to the very end of the blog and read my statement about that.

    2. I disagree completely. The publishers would be totally and very interested that Star Citizen succeeded (meaning a profitable and successful venture raising the popularity of the genre), so they could also explore such genre with their own specialized games or hybrids, with similar features.
      They also would be very very interested that the public accepted (as a few backers of SC does) no obligation to deliver anything in any time, and at the same time, accepted offers of U$ 250, 500, 2500 dollars for in-game items that do not exist yet.
      So, why the hell they would be afraid of a “Star Citizen” success? Its not like they don’t have the money to invest, to follow new trends were returns are provided, my friend.
      But the thing is… this is ridiculous. Because Star Citizen is NOT a success. The only thing that they did was to get a few whales that will give them (and only for them) infinite money, regardless commitment or results. Just so they dreams be fed. It’s an unique event that will die with the same velocity that this project raised funds. The rest of people, the huge majority of the backers, just gave a few dollars, never gave any additional dime, and in general, does not even follow the project, but do not make mistake, are losing patience too (more than even those who spend more money). Their “success” is to sell overpriced ships for an average of 2000k-5000k people (depending of the price of the ship) seasonally. It’s maybe 1 to 3% of people feeding the monster and nobody else. This is not a “success”. Or it is clearly gives the expectation of a disaster, because in no way, all those people waiting won’t be affected by a long wait, overhype and more years of emails received in their inbox that talks more about new ship sales than delivery of actual progress that they can touch and try. Or, to be real, the end game, which is what the majority want, the majority that simply don’t care on playing alpha/beta or whatever, which a few people, louder, plus Roberts and co. think that its the ultimate solution that makes everyone happy (playing unfinished, bugged alpha/betas for a long long long time).
      If they did not sell these expensive ships seasonally (that no other project can afford to repeat and expect to be ok with their public), they would not have maybe 80% of the funds that they have today. And all that they got from a few. So, it’s something that publishers would love that “worked”, but they know that it won’t. Its just occasional. Its just until reality checks and not a success, but a total disaster be revealed. Even Roberts and co. know that. And that’s why they will build all the kinds of excuses to deliver just tiny bits for longer, to do not give to people actuals, but just hopes for the future, while he milk them more.
      You got that totally backwards. The only ones that could have the real interest to pay press to speak good things about Star Citizen would be actually, the Star Citizen developers itself.
      And if you acknowledge such corruption level of such press as existent and part of the system, you can be sure, or raise suspects, that some backer’s money was already used to pay to some members of press to give only a positive light about SC in their articles.
      Maybe that is just another reason why they flee and consider a “forensic accountability” something demoniac.
  12. Star Citizen has all the makings of a long con confidence scheme. Edward H. Smith lists the “six definite steps or stages of growth in every finely balanced and well-conceived confidence game.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_trick Derek Smart is going to release an article with much more details on this topic but in the meantime I thought I would provide commentary on each “definite step” as I see them.

    1. Foundation Work – The preparations, which are made before the scheme is put in motion, including the elaboration of the plan, the employment of assistants, and so forth.

    Has CIG done this? Yes. Spending a year creating a very expensive tech demo.

    2. Approach – The manner of getting in touch with the victim — often most elaborately and carefully prepared.

    Has CIG done this? Yes! Announcing Star Citizen’s existence to the world at GDC 2012 and then premiering the tech demo and Kickstarter campaign that absolutely wowed the gaming world.

    3. Build-up – Rousing and sustaining the interest of the victim, introducing the scheme to him, and filling him with so much anticipation and cupidity that his judgment is warped and his caution thrown away.

    Has CIG done this? Definitely. A constant stream of marketing videos, convention events and concept and ship sales designed to keep bringing in the money. A store designed to keep selling merchandise for a game that doesn’t exist.

    4. Pay-off or Convincer – An actual or apparent paying of money by the conspirators to convince the victim and settle doubts by a cash demonstration. In the old banco game, the initial small bets which the victim was allowed to win were the pay-off. In stock swindles, the fake dividends sent to stockholders to encourage larger investments are the pay-off.

    Has CIG done this? Yes. Specifically the case can be made that the “Pay-Off” are the modules that today still do not properly work but they exist to “convince” and “encourage larger investments”. As we saw from the Star Citizen’s funding stats during and following Gamescom the majority of infusion money came from existing Backers willing to make “larger investments”.

    5. The Hurrah – This is like the denouement in a play, and no con scheme is complete without it. It is a sudden crisis or unexpected development by which the mark is pushed over the last doubt or obstacle and forced to act. Once the hurrah is sprung, either the scammer has total control, or the con fails.

    Has CIG done this? Yes. The delays. The complete overhaul of the TOS when the project reached its December 2014 target date of when CIG would be liable for issuing refunds. The arbitrary six months added to the new TOS. Chris stating Backer demands more than anything else caused scope issues. Changing the forum rules so that dissent is virtually eliminated from the Backer pathos is part of a move to “give the scammer total control”. Etc. etc. etc.

    6. The In-and-In – This is the point in a con game where the conspirator puts some of his money into the deal with that of the victim; first, to remove the last doubt that may tarry in the gull’s mind, and, second, to put the con man in control of the situation after the deal is completed, thus forestalling a squeal. Often, the whole game is built up around this feature, and just as often, it does not figure at all.

    Has CIG done this? Not yet. But all indications point to CIG delivering an extremely sub-par product at launch in 2016 since Chris appears to by fully committed to next year. So instead of a “$90 game” Backer’s believe they’re get instead they will get a “$15 game”. However once CIG delivers “something” it will be much harder for Backers to “squeal” to lawmakers to request justice for being scammed. As you can see steps 1 – 5 of Edward H. Smith’s list have been achieved in sequence. Step 6 is currently in the works. If authorities step in there’s a chance they can stave off what is likely to become the biggest crowdfunding con game in history.

    1. kxmode:

      Yeah, whether they intended this or not, this is exactly how it looks. This is pretty much what I’ve said before that most people don’t set out to do the wrong thing; stuff just happens.

      While I still don’t believe they set out to commit consumer fraud, or even to do anything illegal, the fact remains that they’ve broken various Consumer Protection laws in various States as it relates to how they’ve have handled this whole project. And it’s going to cause them serious issues down the road, aside from issues related to their inability to deliver a finished product that resembles what they’ve been promising.

      1. Agreed. I don’t think they intended to set out to do this because intentions are almost always noble, unfortunately greed invariably corrupts. There are many forms of greed. I think in Chris’ case his Sin became “scope creep”. The little money devil sitting on his shoulder likely whispered a bunch of sweet nothings like, “Do that Chris. It’ll be awesome! Look how much money you have! If you need more… just create another concept ship sale.” o _ o
        1. kxmode:

          Indeed. And that’s the reason he has been blaming the very backers for this; saying that they kept egging on for me. Seriously.

          And I was just going through some of our research material, and how soon we forget that stuff like this actually happened (1, 2, 3) before.

          And then there were those poor saps on Reddit, just two years ago, thinking that if they didn’t deliver, they could get their money back from Kickstarter. heh

          1. Derek, check out this post I put on r/StarCitizen

            https://as.reddit.com/r/starcitizen/comments/3l3f7g/chris_roberts_has_been_working_on_star_citizen/

            This part – “I just want to help you put things into perspective so that when you talk about how long others have work on their games” – is specifically a nod to you without actually mentioning your name. Those White Knighters who precisely who I’m talking about.

            Anyhow I spent about an hour putting together that post but it’s so true. Chris has been working on Star Citizen since 1998.

            1. kxmode:

              Oh wow. That’s absolutely amazing. Yet, when, in my Interstellar Citizens blog, I talked about my decades long journey to build my massive all-encompassing game, White Knights were quick to tell me that I was jealous because I had failed to do make what Chris was [allegedly] making.
              #facepalm

              ps: I corrected the link for you.

              1. So what if you have made a massive all encompassing game? Its not well polished and graphics are from the early 2000 era and it is far from any realistic physic simulations. So of course you have finished yours, yours is hardly any where near as complex. You can say it is if you wish but then you clearly are in fantasy land.

                So who cares if you have made a game of similar “massive all encompassing game”… this surely proves that it can be done. And you most definitely did not have 80 million + $ budget, and most definitely didn’t have studios around the globe working on it. You talk like it cannot be done like its an absolute situation, but it is not absolute fact that it cannot be done.. speaking like is just narcissistic on your part. It can be done, it won’t and has not been easy. But it’s far from impossible. And the funds are still going up, they might hit 100 million $ by end of 2015, plenty money income to keep going on their goals, and they have not added any more stretch goals so its entirely do-able this project.

                1. Dave: This bullshit argument again? Since you are one of those who choose to ignore what an “art style” actually means, here, let me help you with that.

                  Even with the SC graphics fidelity, many people still can’t even run it with decent framerates. And there isn’t even a “game” yet.

                  As to LOD not being “anywhere as complex”, seriously, you have no clue what you’re talking about, do you?

                  Regardless, I stand by what I’ve said. The game as has been pitched in “vision 2.0”, cannot be made. There is simply no getting around that. Having money to do it is patently meaningless. Any producer or project manager with half a brain, already knows that.

                2. Star Citizen CAN be made. But its a venture that can’t be sustained, since, “to be made” as has been pitched now, it needs maybe more 10 or 15 years of R&D and hopes that all the R will end on D.
                  Whatever that comes earlier from this 10/15 years optimistically thinking that all the R will end on D, it won’t be accepted by the general public, the mass of backers, but just a minority of such group, because how they promoted and hyped the game.
                  So there are technology barriers that they COULD exceed giving them free money and free time, BUT, the market barriers are basically impossible, considering the circumstances – things and hype announced very earlier and kept with an absurd level of cash grabbing meanwhile, never saw before in the game industry, which is not positive, but extremely negative for the final result in terms of perception of the public.

                  If Star Citizen was made behind the doors, with some whales sustaining, just as they have been sustaining it now and been responsible probably by 80% of the funding that they have and probably will end (whatever they call the end) with 99% of the funding coming from the hands of a very few group between all the backers, quietly, without promoting itself as the ultimate of the ultimate of the games, the master of the PC and the game industry that will “send a message to the publishers”, blablabla, etc. etc., in other words, not making all these challenges, not bringing so many people, public/press attention so earlier, and ONLY those “heroes” kept sustaining it for all these years, without people knowing about it (that’s what real heroes are for, they are heroes that do something great, but without the need to be famous), THEN, Star Citizen as has been pitched today, could come out and would be a massive/absolute success, because would got everyone as a surprise, that would make their perception of the game totally separated of any development issues or years of cash grabbing issues, as well as they wouldn’t have expectation of what is yet to be done and what had to be cut out of the project.

                  ALL the things that CR is doing are great for cash grabbing. For someone that wants to make money from a venture, more as he can, while he can, and then leave with some excuse with a good part of that money (taken out through means like a high salary and high comissions for CEO and other members of the family).

                  But for the sake of making the game “succeed”, its totally a business suicide.

              2. Ben helped clarify a lot of things. There’s a very interesting bit of gaming history between Origin and EA you should check out. But the main point is Chris left Origin years before Origin started working on Privateer Online. He explains the look of Star Citizen is pure coincidence to Private Online because the concept artists fundamentally came up with their own ideas of what the ships should look like. So that makes sense.
          2. I don’t get it – how can any sane person spend even 10 cent on Roberts? That’s the man who – together with his pal Ortwin and some german “businessman” – burned over 500 million euros for movies, getting the money even without any contracts for the actors, camera team’s or set designers… And why? He gets the money because he said it can be done and it can be done only by him and his company., He pulls over a dozen movies out of a hat, more than he could ever handle. If I could judge, he would join his friend from the vip mediafond and spend also some time in prison but surely he would not be out there, making a game, or better any game with money from the gamers. Just saying…
  13. For me, things started to go sour with SC on the 31 August, 2013 with the announcement, “Letter from the Chairman: Hangar Store Launched”, and you can see by quite a few of the comments that other people were feeling the same.
    As seems to be the norm these days, a vocal minority take it upon themselves to then let everyone else know what is the proper response to this game and any other discourse is pure hate speech. Ah George Orwell, if only you could see society now.
    I had a similar experience in another unique player funded experience, Project Cars. The big difference being, that you were actually ‘investing’ in this game. However, the vocal minority spoiled it and like SC, haven’t bothered to check back in on the game (That game was released though).
    Anyhoo Derek, as Donald Chipp (Australian Democratic party Leader) said on 19 September 1980, “where here to keep the bastards honest”.
    1. Indeed. The thing is that, even the most avid supporters know something’s wrong here. But ego prevents them from voicing it.

      And yeah, I remember the furor surrounding Project Cars as well.

  14. OK, I am going to top-post to make my position crystal clear, seeing as people are just making stuff up as they go along.

    1) The points I raised in my latest Interstellar Breach blog, are based on publicly sourced material.

    2) They responded to our demand letter, and it was received last week; and well within the 30 day limit allowed by law. Though I have a new blog, ‘Star Citizen – The Long Con’, awaiting legal clearance, you can read my initial response.

    3) We are also preparing a response to their letter, and that will be the last (we think) of it before further legal action progresses.

    4) In the meantime, in addition to our legal efforts, like others, we have not only notified the Feds (FBI, FTC), but also at least (currently) the attorney general of two States (FL, CA).

    I had already hinted in the past that most State officials have been taking a long hard look at crowd-funding scams and just a few days ago, news broke that Washington State had prosecuted their first case. And most gaming media (Gamespot, Polygon etc) already reported on this. We will be sending the same form letter to the AG in that State as well as in every single State that has people who have backed Star Citizen.

    5) Until a lawsuit (class action or otherwise) is filed, there is currently no lawsuit. That’s a fact. It has nothing to do with whether or not there will be one. I can tell you flat out, that there will be, regardless of who (us, Feds, State) initiates it.

    6) The recent lock down of the RSI forums has nothing to do with me, my legal team or any legal proceedings. And that inference is false.

    Fact is that the forum moderators (btw, most are unpaid volunteers) have always been very diligent in moderating those forums. I have even mentioned this in various comment and blog postings.

    As the many lies and deceit about this project start coming to light, mostly as a result of various media and blog (such as mine) reports, the dissent (usually quashed by the rabid White Knight anti-social denizens who are exhibiting traits of cult-like behavior) in the forums has increased significantly. All of it exposed to the world.

    So now, they’ve locked down key forums to backers only.

    This is pretty normal behavior that is prevalent in most other game forums. So there really isn’t anything new here. And though the timing is a bit interesting (I did Tweet about it when I was notified about it), I think it was a good decision. Heck, even Steam allows us devs to lock down various forums to public, game owners etc.

    If you are not a backer of the game, you have no reason to complain. If you are a backer of the game, and you complain about something like this, you should probably take a good look at your actions, as well as that of your fellow backers. There’s your answer.

    So trying to tie their forum lock down to a non-existent legal action, is pure bullshit. In fact, in the event of any legal action, attorneys can gain access to every single thing they want, locked down or not, printed, digital, whatever. Locking down a forum doesn’t prevent or alleviate that. At all.

    Finally, it also has nothing to do with them being liable for defamatory action. Like all forums, the RSI forum is protected by Section 230 of the CDA. Note that this law is US only. So other countries (especially EU) can still hold RSI liable for material posted on their forums.

    And aside from the moral obligations of, you know, curbing shit-posting and keeping anti-social clowns at bay, if you want to foster a community that is not toxic and doesn’t welcome anti-social behavior, most sites have moderators who, even though they are protected by CDA 230, tend to do some moderation. It’s a lot of work. And that’s why some media outlets completely disabled comments on their sites; while others seemingly have no idea where to draw the line between anti-social behavior and free speech (which is a misnomer if you are on a private site). And you tend to find most of the anti-social people on sites (like this one) that either don’t have the manpower to deal with it, or are lax (depending on who the target of the week is) in their moderation of same.

    The Star Citizen forum is toxic, not because of the forum moderators not doing their job, but because of the precedent set by the whales and backers who are abusive to others who are not part of the collective. And you dare start a thread or write a comment that even remotely looks like dissent against the project or the company, and you’ll see the results. We have dozens (!) of saved forum threads and posts, showing this level of toxicity on those forums.

    When you consider the fact that the project has over 700K backers to date, as these things go, it stands to reason that you will find a bunch of anti-social misfits among them. They tend to be the loudest and most abusive. This is gaming. It comes with the territory.

    So, regardless of their real reasons (e.g. hiding the toxicity from non-backers, keeping the dissent to backers only etc), I still think it was the right move for them to make.

    That said…

    The Star Citizen project has all the makings of a long con (1, 2). As things stand, and all that has transpired since 2012, there is no other reasonable or plausible explanation.

    And the media at large, unwittingly helped them pull it off. This despite the fact that since 2013, several in the media and in gaming, had been raising the alarm bells incessantly.

    This is the basis of my upcoming blog, “Star Citizen : The Long Con”, which I have been holding off on publishing because new information came to light that I want to incorporate into it.

    As I have said before, if you are still a backer of this project who expected a game either back on Nov 2014 (or one year from that date), and you aren’t already screaming for a refund, you will only have yourself to blame for losing your money. If you don’t get your refund, report it to your State attorney general, and the FTC. I already provided information on how to do the latter in two (1, 2) of my blogs

    A lot of people have been asking for a refund, and most are getting it. We get Tweets (e.g. this recent one), emails etc when it happens. So it is happening.

    If you don’t read or listen to anything that I’ve said in my blogs about this project, just read item #3 from my Interstellar Breach blog which pertains to the specific items we asked for in the demand letter, and draw your own conclusions. To save you the trouble, I will just excerpt the whole thing.

    ========
    3) To date, almost every key point in the pledge , as well as various promises made to backers in 2012, have now been broken. In fact, as of this writing, they haven’t even delivered, in our estimation, 25% of what was promised in the original game pitched on Kickstarter.

    If you read that description of what was promised, any gamer or game developer will see that this game is either i) never going to end up being what was promised or ii) in the event that they do manage to pull it off, the chances of it every being released before 2018, is highly unlikely.

    Here is another example of the sort of thing they’ve done.

    In the original (aka “vision 1.0”) game they pitched on Kickstarter, which 34,397 backers pledged $2,134,374 to help bring this project to life, they had an “estimated” release date of Nov 2014.

    According to their ToS v1.1 of 08/29/13 they said if they failed to deliver within 12 months of Nov 2014 (the original Kickstarter estimated delivery date), they would issue refunds. At the time, this non-delivery period would kick in during Nov 2015.

    IV. Charges & Billing
    RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a promise by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of the deposit shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the pledge items and/or the Game to you within 12 months after the estimated delivery date.

    Since that time, having already i) missed the Nov 2014 delivery date and ii) embarked on the increased scope (aka “vision 2.0”), thus extending the delivery date for the project, they surreptitiously made another changed in ToS v1.2 of 02/01/15 (which remains the current one). The previous section was moved; and now reads:

    VII. Fundraising & Pledges
    RSI agrees to use its good faith business efforts to deliver to you the pledge items and the Game on or before the estimated delivery date communicated to you on the Website. However, you acknowledge and agree that delivery as of such date is not a firm promise and may be extended by RSI since unforeseen events may extend the development and/or production time. Accordingly, you agree that any unearned portion of your Pledge shall not be refundable until and unless RSI has failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the Game to you within eighteen (18) months after the estimated delivery date.

    And in the current ToS, here is a key section that ties into the above:

    VII. Fundraising & Pledges
    For the avoidance of doubt, in consideration of RSI’s good faith efforts to develop, produce, and deliver the Game with the funds raised, you agree that any Pledge amounts applied against the Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost shall be non-refundable regardless of whether or not RSI is able to complete and deliver the Game and/or the pledge items. In the unlikely event that RSI is not able to deliver the Game and/or the pledge items, RSI agrees to post an audited cost accounting on the Website to fully explain the use of the amounts paid for Pledge Item Cost and the Game Cost. In consideration of the promises by RSI hereunder, you agree that you shall irrevocably waive any claim for refund of any Pledge that has been used for the Game Cost and Pledge Item Cost in accordance with the above.

    ========

    This project is destined to fail in one of two ways:

    i) they deliver a largely broken mess (not unlike the three modules released thus far) in the form of a collection of modules as I indicated here

    ii) the project suffers a sudden catastrophic collapse either as a result of running out of money (no, they don’t have a healthy financial reserve to finish this game if on-going funding stopped. Trust me, that’s pure bullshit) or State and/or Fed action as per crowd-funding failed promises.

    Since my first blog, Interstellar Citizens blog in early July, I have stated that this project, as currently pitched, cannot be made. I still strongly stand by those comments. And I am going to say this right now:

    “In the event that I am somehow proven wrong, and they do deliver on what’s promised, I will immediately retire from the industry, sooner rather than later.”

    Seriously, take a look at what they promised back on Oct 2012 as per “vision 1.0“, what they promised as per “vision 2.0“; and what they’ve delivered as of Sept 2015 and tell me again how exactly they’re going to deliver all of that in 2016, let alone ever.

    As to all the attacks that have been sent my way by the usual suspects since this started back in July, all I have to say is, go ahead. Attacking the messenger – especially someone who is outspoken and fearless – just increases the signal to noise ratio. In short, all you’re doing is making this easier to propagate. Unless you’re of the opinion that the majority of people are idiots who can’t think for themselves, you stand no chance of convincing them that they shouldn’t listen to me because you said so. Fools.

    I know I’m right. I know that I will be proven to be right. I’ve been around for decades and know enough to stand firmly on this.

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