Transparency and Star Citizen

Transparency and Star Citizen

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Transparency and Star Citizen

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  • Funding ladder which lays out how much they have collected, and what each tier “unlocks”
  • Monthly studio report which explains what got done and is pulled directly from their internal work-tracking systems. The report is broken down by sub-studio and details work both accomplished and what’s setting them back (Note: link was to the report current at the time of posting).
  • Production schedule report lists the next steps in development which will eventually become the subject of a future month’s studio report.
  • Letter from the Chairman which is Robert’s platform to talk about what got done and what’s still left to do.

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Sadly, almost 2000 words into this post, and with all of the material that RSI is putting out to show people that they’re not all just partying in Cabo with the money, people are still going to be angry and accuse them of shady dealing. These people don’t like RSI’s funding method. They don’t appreciate the fact that stupid amounts of money can’t dilate time and make things happen faster (remember, RSI tried to bring tons of people on board to move quickly early on, and it was a disaster). I suspect a lot of people are upset because the game is too ambitious, and these people think that RSI is just throwing more features onto the pile as they accomplish previous milestones. These people will readily point to Elite Dangerous as how to get a space sim game out the door on schedule and without rampant feature creep, although really this is a false equivalency considering what little Elite does in release and what SC does already in alpha. Maybe some people are even just pissed that this system seems to be working despite people’s best efforts to stay mad at it. They can’t back down now lest they lose face in their communities.

This is the nature of the Internet, circa 2017. Progress is being made on Star Citizen, full stop. Its there on their website in several forms, on YouTube each week, and is something everyone who pledges can get their hands on in the form of the alpha client. As someone who is in for a pound I’m in the group that would really love to have the game right now, of course, but as someone who is in for a pound I don’t want the game as is; I want the game as promised. That being said I’m also flexible; I know that Roberts and team(s) have a massive amount of knowledge on game design and development, and have been learning more as they go. If they say they can’t do something that was promised, I’m OK with that. I’d rather they focus on what they can accomplish or what they think they can accomplish rather than holding things up as they stumble through possible solutions just to tick boxes on someone’s contract. The good news is that they seem to be accomplishing a lot of what they did promise, even when they admit that it was a difficult problem to solve. Even better, once this project is done and their studios disband (as all game studios seem to do), this knowledge will disseminate into the larger development pool so that other teams won’t have to struggle with the problems that RSI is working on. A “good” Star Citizen is certainly not cheap, and it’s certainly not fast, and I’m OK with that especially now in light of their frequent updates being made available to everyone — not just those who have backed the project.

I’m sorry if you can’t understand where I’m coming from. I’m not using 2500 words to try and convince myself that I didn’t waste money. I check in on their progress every week and because of it, I feel the momentum of the project which can’t be felt by those who stopped paying attention once they had made up their mind that the project is a failure or a scam. If you’re on the fence, dig through the RSI website; unlike a lot of game company sites their front page is filled with updates, behind the scenes, and lore entries. There is literally a ton of information from behind the screen doors of the company being put out there for anyone who wants to look at it. I do urge you to look at it, especially with an open mind, if you are skeptical or otherwise have no horse in the race. I can’t predict the future, of course; this project may absolutely crash and burn, but that’s the same risk any company takes and none of them are bulletproof. Most, however, go down in flames without the kind of transparency that RSI has adopted, and if you want to understand where the company is going, do your own due dillgence and don’t rely on groupthink. Read the articles. Watch the videos..

    4 Comments

  1. I really want to see this game work, I do. But I was one of the *early* detractors when it became clear that a good chunk of the money raised was being used for PR (to raise more money…)

    I hope they pull it off. Would love to see how many millions they have burned on fundraising. I know, I know, the more they raise the better of a game they can make.

    If this doesn’t launch, it would be a giant black mark on crowdfunding as a whole and a complete disaster. Based on that alone I am really hoping it does. I am not holding my breath (in space).

    • I would have expected that they would have used money for PR. I heard they DID get other funding, but once the KS ended they’d have to do SOMETHING about PR, especially since they were “beholden” to KS backers.

      I suppose the point of this post is this: RSI is putting out reports on what got done throughout the entire company, and what they’re working on next. They have close to a series-a-day videos on YouTube that run from PR to technobabble. Backers can download the alpha and see for themselves where the game is. What else could RSI do to move the needle away from a position of absolute skepticism, short of releasing the game (which would be an automatic failure at this point in time)? Is there a condition which would allow people to admit that yeah, this is actually on a progressive trajectory?

      Personally, I think that their acutal work is the kind of thing that other studios go through, but which we don’t normally see. And because those projects are smaller and less ambitious, we don’t demand it. Perhapse because of the money and the time involved with SC, it seems people are stand-offish; ideally, the transparency would help alleviate that, but the question is — does it? In ANY way?

  2. If they were truly being anything close to open they’d have a release date. The only one they ever had was 2014 (LOL), which they let pass with no official announcement at all, just Chris Roberts whining afterwards that he can’t give release dates because people moan when he misses them.

    It’s doomed not because it’s technically impossible or underfunded but because CIG are incompetent.

    But what do you expect from a company where the bosses wife ends up as director of marketing, and her being married to the boss was a verboten subject for the first few years.

    If you have any sense let other people gamble their money on this succeeding, and buy if they ever complete it to a decent standard.

    • I don’t know about you but I’ve worked for corporations for over 20 years now and problems are almost NEVER, EVER a result of incompetence — and we’ve had our top people accidentally delete entire production databases. “Shit happens” is both a truth AND is something that everyone who has to deal with the fallout understands AND expects to some degree. If you simply throw out a person or a project or an idea because it doesn’t work out exactly as is written on paper, it’s ignorant of the fact that nothing in the world ever works out the way things are planned. Hell, I’m on a project NOW that was going great until it wasn’t; it’s not a matter of incompetence, but rather a plan of attack that naturally made assumptions and set targets at the beginning, but eventually found that expectations didn’t align with reality, in addition to the complex machinations of how companies work in accordance with regulations, internal dictates, and even money. Shit just happened. And my project isn’t anywhere CLOSE to being as complex as SC, I can guarantee!

      Now, waiting for a finished product is a good idea that I have no issues with. We’re in a state in 2017 where it’s become fashionable to collect money first and deliver later. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; caveat emptor and if you don’t feel comfortable doing that then waiting it out makes sense.

      I don’t care about their internal politics, really, and I think that’s a smokescreen excuse for whatever other beef you might have with the company. Like I said, they’re putting their progress out there to see, in writing, video, and in the alpha that people can test-drive. Progress is being made and I think they’re doing more than other companies do to show that to us. I can understand that without a solid release date it seems that production could continue “forever”. I don’t think that’s the plan, despite that ALSO being fashionable among many other games out there (Minecraft was “in beta” for years). I’d be willing to bet that the development schedule is a Sword of Damocles hanging over ALL Of their heads because of the scrutiny they’re under every day, but they ALSO know that slapping a release date on it to satisfy those who need the absolutes is just an invitation for another round of indignation.

What do you think?