December 31st 2014
2014 has been a huge year for Star Citizen.
We launched Arena Commander v0.8 in June and since then we’ve shown the ambition of the First Person Universe we are building with a prototype of multi crew ship combat, the scale and detail of the planet side environments and demonstrated the visceral action of the First Person Combat that players will experience in Star Citizen.
We’ve delivered 23 updates to Star Citizen / Arena Commander, four of them being major feature updates (v0.8. v0.9, v0.9.2) with the last one being the largest, Arena Commander v1.0, with fifteen new ships for backers to fly (all the Aurora and Hornet variants, Mustang family, Base Avenger and Cutlass Black) as well as significant gameplay additions like the signature system and social features like the first version of the lobby system allowing you to join up with your friends.
Star Citizen’s backers downloaded 13.7 PETABYTES of data from Star Citizen’s CDN during 2014 up from just ONE Petabyte in 2013. The community logged over two million sessions and one million hours playing Arena Commander which has been split approximately 80% single player and 20% multiplayer
Cloud Imperium’s staff – which is solely dedicated to making Star Citizen – has grown from 70 employees last Christmas to 180 today, spread around four internal locations; Santa Monica, Austin, Manchester, UK and a nascent office in Germany that we will be sharing details about in the coming year.
We have an additional 120 developers working on the game spread between our partners at Behaviour, Illfonic, Turbulent, outsource companies and individual contractors.
The number of Star Citizens doubled in 2014, which helped the project to raise $33M in additional funding, bringing the total raised since October 10th 2012 to just over $68.5M.
All of this allows us to build Star Citizen to a level of ambition that no publisher would dare to reach for on a PC… let alone a Space Sim!
When looking back at how far Star Citizen and its community has come in just two short years I am always amazed. What is the secret of the project’s support?
People that just read headlines wonder why; why have we raised so much money, why do people still contribute money to Star Citizen, why are people so excited?
Like many things Star Citizen isn’t easy to understand with a cursory glance. Star Citizen doesn’t easily fit in a familiar box like most games you’ll buy from a major publisher.
It’s something I’ve been reflecting on, especially as I have a couple of talks coming up with BAFTA in Los Angeles and at DICE in Las Vegas. What makes Star Citizen defy so many conventions? What continues to propel Star Citizen every month despite the game still being in development?
Numbers are always easy to focus and make nice headlines but they don’t tell the real story of why Star Citizen has gotten to where it is.
Star Citizen would be nothing without its real trump card –
The most engaged community in gaming!
It’s easy to say Star Citizen is a community focused game but it’s so much more than that. Very early in the project I made a decision to go beyond the traditional alpha model and share functionality of the game as we built it, updating and involving the community every step of the way. It is one thing to share updates but it’s a whole other level of engagement to share incremental builds with subsets of functionality of the final game to get hands on feedback.
We actively solicit and listen to feedback on the numerous patches (which we deliver on average twice a month). We have multiple video shows each week discussing the game, giving behind the scenes glimpses and highlighting community contributions. We give more detailed monthly updates to our backers on the game’s progress than I ever gave any publisher I was making a game for!
Anyone that first installed the Hangar module back in August 2013, then played Arena Commander v0.8 in June and has now has Arena Commander v1.0 on their drive can attest to the progress that has been made, how feedback from the community affects the updates and how things slowly but steadily get better and more polished.
Are we done? No! We have a long way to go! No one at CIG is resting on their laurels but it it’s this PARTNERSHIP with all of YOU, the community that is enabling a game of this ambition to be made. You are a community that contributes something much more valuable than funding for development. You contribute your time, your feedback, your ideas and your passion.
And THIS is the secret of Star Citizen.
It’s a project that is being built not just by 300 developers, but a project that is being built by hundreds of thousands of gamers that love PC games, that love space games and want to see a game made RIGHT, one that has such depth and ambition that they can see themselves happily adventuring for years to come.
This is a model I and the rest of the team at CIG have happily embraced. I have never had so much fun building a game and if you asked any Star Citizen developer they will probably agree with me. We love the process of creating this game lock step with all of you out there. We are continually amazed by the creativity and enthusiasm of the community. How within hours of a patch going up we can watch streams of people playing. The team is constantly passing around fan videos where we see something surprising; whether it’s a bit of skill, an exploit we didn’t see or just a piece that sums up Star Citizen better than we could. The original “Imagine” trailer by Kieran (years1hundred on YouTube) was a great example, but there’s other amazing stuff out there; DeVall’s “Hype Citizen” trailer, Corporation Incorporated / Fiendish Feather’s videos of Scavenging on a wrecked Constellation, a Search and Rescue mission or just showcasing the Mustang Variants is just a small sampling of what our community is capable of.
So when I read a press article that questions whether we can deliver all the promised features to keep everyone happy, or I see someone that can’t fathom how Star Citizen can have such support and without doing any research jump to cynical conclusions I just smile.
Because with the community we have and the passionate and talented team of developers I can’t imagine us “flopping” as a few bloggers have predicted. Not because we’re better than everyone else, but because building a game this way, in total lock step with your community, means it’s pretty hard to fail in the long run. Will we build everybody’s dream game? Of course not, that would be impossible! But with this level of engagement and iteration I think we’ll build something special that people can happily lose themselves in even if it doesn’t have every feature they dreamed of.
And it won’t stop there.
The number one priority for team in building the Persistent Universe is how players themselves can affect the universe. We’re building a game that will be just as community driven once the game is “finished”. It’s why we’ve built organization support into the web site, why we’re expanding it this coming year with private forums and blogs and starting to layer in the organization support in the game itself.
Star Citizen isn’t a sprint, it isn’t even a marathon. There is no final finish line the way you would have with a traditional retail game. Star Citizen is a way of life for as long as the community is engaged by it.
My 100% focus, and the rest of the team is to make sure all of you are continually engaged. Not just by the “finished” game (if you can ever call anything in Star Citizen finished) but by the development process, the early builds of the game, by the discussion and feedback loop.
And this is what I tell my friends in the industry that have no idea how we’ve managed to do what we do. You have to throw away the old approaches to how you develop, how you share and how you engage your community.
Or in Silas Koerner’s words, “Dare to challenge the expectation of what has come before. To embrace the unique. To put everything on the line. Only when you risk everything can we discover something truly special”
EVERYONE, both the development team and all of you are dedicated to making Star Citizen something special. If we don’t get a feature perfect the first time we will continue to refine and improve.
And that is what will make Star Citizen different than most other publisher backed games. We have the willpower and patience. Our stakeholders just have one goal in mind…
Make the Best Damn Space Sim Ever!
So here’s a big THANK YOU for everyone’s support, patience and enthusiasm in 2014 and here’s to looking forward to continuing to make history together in 2015.
This coming year will be an even bigger year than 2014 – the FPS module will go live to backers, we will be giving our first drops of the Persistent universe, starting with the Planetside social module, the multi-crew Arena Commander and the first Episode of Squadron 42.
2015 is where the game will be shaped. And it will be shaped with your input. So get in the game and let us know what works and what doesn’t for you!
It’s going to be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun and I couldn’t imagine doing it with a better group of people than group of developers working on the game and the amazing Star Citizen community.
== Chris Roberts