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Star Citizen single-player delayed indefinitely

Cloud Imperium Games, makers of the sprawling, controversial, and long-delayed space simulator/FPS shooter/single-player space combat title known as Star Citizen, announced the game’s single-player campaign, Squadron 42, will be delayed indefinitely. The reason is simple: With so much left undone, there are huge chunks of the single-player campaign yet unfinished. CIG had originally promised Squadron 42 would ship in 2016, but it’s now clear there’s no way that could happen. The fact that the company has yet to announce a new shipping date isn’t particularly promising, either.

This slide is courtesy of Kotaku UK, which recently did a huge write-up on what happened to Star Marine, the FPS segment of Star Citizen, as well as an overview of Star Citizen as a whole. That story does much to explain what happened, and paints its delays and troubles as being born of both technical difficulties — CryEngine was never designed to deliver the kind of title Chris Roberts, the CEO of CIG and the creator of game franchises like Wing Commander, wanted to create. Overhauling the engine has, according to some CIG developers, been more work than actually writing a new engine from scratch would have been.

Keeping so many different teams of workers building separate components of the game on the same page led to other problems. Kotaku writes that the entire Star Marine assets had to be continually rewritten because the design targets were changing at CIG HQ. At one point, after months of work, CIG discovered that one of its contractors had created all of their content to the wrong scale — meaning none of it could be integrated into the game. Tearing up and redoing all that work was an agonizing process, and there’s apparently been a lot of work that needed to be redone at one point or another.


Rigbht now, Star Citizen’s plan is to bring one chapter of the campaign to a final polish, and then showcase that chapter as both an illustration that something is being done on the title and to demonstrate the art and style choices that have been shown in some screenshots and videos. Kotaku UK’s extensive reporting (which you really ought to read) notes that there is no sign of the fraud or rampant abuse of funds that some corners of the internet have insisted must exist. It also notes CIG has brought a great deal of development that used to be spun off to contractors in-house. The company has realigned itself to better execute its own vision. But that vision remains utterly unprecedented in terms of scope, and that alone could be enough to doom the project.

What people often don’t realize is that building a game as complex as Star Citizen requires an equally unprecedented level of backend management and system integration. You need a game engine that can tie all these various components together, a physics engine that can handle interactions between human beings, small starships, or giant capital ships. There was no way to jimmy the CryEngine into providing these capabilities without fundamentally rewriting it, because no other modern game has tried to do these things (Battlecruiser 3000 AD took a stab at it, but that game was stuck in its own development hell for years).

It’ll be surprising if we see Squadron 42 in 2017 at all, and Kotaku writes they still don’t expect Star Citizen to launch as a whole within the next year or two. When we’ll finally see the shipping title is anyone’s guess.

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