Star Citizen, a game that has been in development for over a decade and has raised over $400 million in funding, is nowhere near being done. Not even close. And as work continues on the game, recent changes to the way the studio communicates their progress with fans have not exactly been helping matters.
In 2020 we reported on a shift Cloud Imperium Games were making with regards to the kind of information they shared with backers and fans. It was the institution of a new “roadmap” system, a way the team could outline what they were working on for the game, and roughly when players might expect to be able to try them out (the game, while nowhere near being finished, does exist in a roughly playable state that is constantly being updated).
That change came about after fans had grown unhappy with the previous system. Now, after “six quarters” of the new system, it’s being thrown out as well, with CIG deciding that because video game development exists in a highly fluid state, maybe fans need to know less about what they’re working on, in case what they’re working on ends up terrible/broken/doesn’t fit the rest of the game. So from here on only the things that the team are immediately working on, and which are the next things to be added into the game in a working state, will be disclosed to fans.
It’s a smart move when examined in a vacuum. Development is hell, and most times it’s for the best that fans aren’t given full access to the hellscape’s expansive vistas. Just because some developers want something in a game doesn’t always mean they can get it there, or that it should be, and players should never have been expecting spit-balled ideas to become definite features. But even the smartest moves can be undone if they’re messaged in an extremely dumb way.
In a lengthy blog post explaining the removal of the existing roadmap system, there’s a passage that has long-patient fans justifiably upset (emphasis mine):
In hindsight, after living with this new Public Roadmap for the past 6 quarters, we’ve come to realize that this was a mistake. It put too much attention on features that had a high probability of shifting around. It has become abundantly clear to us that despite our best efforts to communicate the fluidity of development, and how features marked as Tentative should sincerely not be relied upon, the general focus of many of our most passionate players has continued to lead them to interpret anything on the Release View as a promise. We want to acknowledge that not all of you saw it that way; many took our new focus and our words to heart and understood exactly what we tried to convey. But there still remains a very loud contingent of Roadmap watchers who see projections as promises. And their continued noise every time we shift deliverables has become a distraction both internally at CIG and within our community, as well as to prospective Star Citizen fans watching from the sidelines at our Open Development communications.
Holy shit. I know working with a video game community at the best of times can be a trying experience, and working with the same one for a decade must be especially frustrating, but you can’t say that part out loud! That’s the stuff you say to each other on a Friday afternoon after you clock off and need to vent with colleagues over a beer/tea, not in a post that’s going to be read by millions of people!
Fans, many of whom paid for this game a decade ago, and who have only been kept engaged by the team’s constant promises of what’s to come, are understandably a little upset by this! Here’s the game’s subreddit, for example:
And here are the top threads in the game’s official forums:
They’re right to be pissed off! I was excited for this game for maybe the first couple of years, and fell off not long after when I realised it was a complete dumpster fire. For those who have stuck around for ten years, through all of this, to be called a “distraction”? That sucks. Even more so when the post blames them for scaring off prospective future backers instead of, you know, the fact this game and its project management is a complete dumpster fire.