Star Citizen Backer Gets $2500 Refund After Complaining to Attorney General

"There was nothing special about this situation," Cloud Imperium says.

264 Comments

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After having his request for a refund initially turned down, a Star Citizen backer has received more than $2,500 back from developer Cloud Imperium Games after he complained to California's Attorney General.

The road to securing that refund is documented in a post by the backer, who goes by the name Streetroller, on the Something Awful forums (which were subsequently shared on Imgur). In his initial request, he stated, "Because of various changes of policy by Cloud Imperium Games or Roberts Space Industries, the product remains unfulfilled and no longer constitutes the product(s) I originally purchased. To bring this to a resolution, I am requesting a full refund."

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Star Citizen remains unreleased almost four years after its crowdfunding campaign first began, though modular components of it have been offered to the public. Cloud Imperium initially turned Streetroller down, citing the 14-day window where it offers refunds following a pledge. It also cited its terms of service, which it said make it clear he was not entitled to a refund.

The two sides then exchanged another round of emails in which Streetroller insisted he is eligible for a refund and Cloud Imperium insisted it couldn't do anything. Streetroller then shared his plan to contact various groups, such as the Federal Trade Commission and Internet Crime Complaint Center, as well as California's Attorney General and PayPal.

"I thought you guys were a great company, misguided maybe, but least not brutal," he wrote. "I know my rights, and I won't let any company--even one I may have liked--to take $3000 from me."

This resulted in a $900 refund through Amazon Payments and a reply from a representative for the Attorney General's office. It noted that the complaint was forwarded to Cloud Imperium, which in turn responded to the Attorney General's office.

Cloud Imperium's reply said that Streetroller agreed to terms of service that explained his money would be non-refundable.

"Contrary to complainant's statements, terms to this effect have been in the ToS and/or Commercial Terms ever since Star Citizen's crowdfunding began," it stated. "None of the revisions to our ToS have affected complainant's position in this regard which is also in line with typical crowdfunding terms as they can be found for example on Kickstarter, the world's most preeminent crowdfunding site. In accordance with the above, complainant's pledge has been used for the game development, and therefore has been earned and is no longer returnable to the complainant at this point."

It also said that the release dates it provided "were estimates, as is customary in the context of crowdfunding." It then explained that the huge amount of money raised by the game expanded its scope and that Streetroller made "several additional pledges after this expansion became well known." It also pointed to the long development cycle of other large-scale games that can take four to five years.

"We understand that some individuals may not want to wait for the completion of the project and ask for refunds," it continues. "Even though these are very few exceptions, put simply, 'takebacks' are not compatible with the whole concept of crowdfunding since it is simply not fair to the fundraising backers who join our community every month."

Despite all of this, it then said that it would grant Streetroller his desired refund.

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"Nonetheless, having reviewed complainant's interactions with our customer service agents, we have determined that it is also in our interest to terminate his participation in our fundraising community," it stated. "We are therefore agreeing to close complainant's account permanently and we will issue a refund of his pledge promptly."

Streetroller reports that, about two weeks later, he received two additional refunds for "the additional balance of what [he] was unable to recover." One of these was for $1,650, while the other was for $10. Combined with the $900 he earlier reported he got back, that brings the total to $2,560. He claims to have gotten back $3,000 in all.

GameSpot contacted Cloud Imperium for comment regarding its decision to offer a refund and was told nothing has changed regarding its policies.

"Any refunds with respect to Star Citizen are made on a discretionary basis," a representative said. "There was nothing special about this situation. The fact that this particular party used a complaint form that is online and openly available, doesn’t make this any different."

The subject of Star Citizen refunds gained some attention in June due to a change to the company's terms of service. As reported by Kotaku, a clause that had previous said "unearned portion[s]" of pledges "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." This language was then adjusted to say these portions aren't refundable "until and unless RSI has ceased development and failed to deliver the relevant pledge items and/or the game to you."

Essentially, it made it more difficult to secure any kind of refund based on the long wait for anyone who backs the game after the change was made in June. (The original terms still apply to anyone who backed the game prior to this change.) Whether the shift in language will impact another situation like this from arising, though, remains to be seen.

Star Citizen's crowdfunding is now over a whopping $117 million from more than 1.4 million people. A major update for the playable alpha was released last month. Just prior, the studio said it expected the "pace of production [to] continue to pick up as it already has since late 2015."

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darshie76

Star Citizen has the same chances to be completed as designed, than the chances that Han Solo will repay Jabba. I often see CR face on Han's body, saying "I was about to repay you; I will give you the double...triple!" ;)

GTA was cool but 2d; someone said "let's make it 3d and let's allow players to get in and out the car" and it took them 3 games to refine the formula (each one was a blockbuster, each one did costa ton), an 2 more 120M+ AAA games to get to an almost perfect formula. What makes you think that SC team, which is struggling to do networking, animations and so on, could pull out a AAA game as state of the art, like they described it, at the first attempt and in less tahn 10 years? One thing is dreams and hopes, another is reality.

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Brazucass

I would do the same once added a FPS into a starship simulator game.

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IanNottinghamX

I see that this topic is a bit controversial. But heres how I break the situation down.

The situation:

-Theres People with a generally Negative opinion on both Star Citizen and Crowd Funding in general

- By the nature of the beast of Crowd funding there will be a lot of people that feel that because they are paying that everything should go the way that they think things should go and have the right to rage.

- A lot is being talked about Money and budgets. Usually a realm left behind the scenes of games. But with the connection to crowd funding it seems to always come up as a talking point frequently.

My Opinion:

- Every game should have a chance to be made. Every creative vision worth a damn should have a chance to be created. Money shouldnt be the defining factor in everything. This is the ideals the creators of crowd funding had to start with. Noone has a right to silence other peoples creations.

- Star Citizen started with a very ambitious vision, but as the development budget tied to crowd funding became a monster so did the talk of the budget.

- I feel that the Backers of any crowdfunded game should always have their fair share of say in any project so long as its not to the point where it impedes the process of something getting made. The kicking screaming babies need to grow the **** up and stand aside and let real backers with constructive things to say have their say.

-

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darshie76

@IanNottinghamX: You did get some points straight, but there is much more than that; and the implications are mostly related to the amoutn of money that each backer did invest in the project.

Your opinions are your opinions; they can be similar to other; but you have the right to see it as you see fit. Although the last part is a bit off...you tell others to stand aside, and let "the grown up" talk? IF they invested money, they have a say in where their money go, and what are their expectations. Nobody is making a parallel with a guy that buy stocks of a company and get in the admins group to guide the company, with the KS backer; but they spent money (some thousands of dollars), and if they are disappointed at the long development time, at the lack of results, they won't and should not shut up and stand aside.

The self-entitlement feeling that some has, to be "right", is what cause most of the flames on forums and internet in general. Right or wrong depends from what laws say; beyond that, it is a matter of opinions, not absolute statement.

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IanNottinghamX

@darshie76: Youve misread and misunderstood everything Ive been trying to say even in cases where I made it plain. I never said backers should stand aside. I was talking about the whiners who never plucked a single penny from their pockets yet have the audacity to complain and bitch. Then theres the people who are malicious backers who will back something just to cause mischief for the creators later. All of those people deserve no say in anything imo

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darshie76

@IanNottinghamX:

Ok, you didn't mention complains from people that did not spent a penny; in that case the situation is different.

Not sure to understand what you refer to "malicious backers"...someone spend money just for the sake of being entitled to troll a project? I think this goes a bit too far in the realm of persecutions and mental games :)

I can't really divide people in categories, beyond the backers and non backers. If someone spend money, has the right to cry and whine as long as they like. If they are wrong, they will be labelled by the community and life goes on, but if they are right, or express an opinion that can't be proven right or disputed, then it is fair game. For example is legit for some backers to demand to see where the money are allocated; without the need to show the salary that each person make. While it is not legit to mark the project as failure yet, since it is still in development.

The ones that does not pay; can't say much since they are not involved, but they have the same info that we backers have; minus the game (except when they have free weekends where you can try what they have ready). They may build their opinion on a free weekend pass; in the same way that people try a MMO thanks to the free 3 day pass that many games offer to subscribers for their friends.

I respect every opinion, as long as there is logic and reasoning behind the statements; and I believe the majority of the backers have this mentality. Beside fanboys, the other backers are totally fine knowing that things may go wrong, that mistakes may happen and that failures may occur. Life goes on for the majority, with or without a computer game.

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darshie76

Gents, you should stop to be always so touchy, when someone decide to bail out on something that is realistically causing concern.

Some wants the game in a decent amount of time...they had plenty of time to do something. They went for the "all or nothing", although when people started to demand refunds, they came out with bits and pieces, to show that they are in fact "doing something". It is in the rights of a customer, to get a product or bail out, if he/she feels like it is time to get out.

You call him idiot, but probably he knows more than what you think about "game development process". Everyone wake up in the morning, thinking that they know, just because they did a flappy bird clone on a mobile platform, or because they play games night and day...this is ridiculous honestly. RSI policy is questionable at best; they do stuff unconventionally they say, but the fact is that there are games that were started after SC, and are releasing already (NMS in few weeks, Elite did launch last year, and is updating yearly). Sure, they do not have all that was promised in SC, but they are out; you can add at later time, piece by piece; exactly like SC is doing. With the difference that you show your backers, that you actually finish something, and then make it as great and shiny as your dream dictate.

CR has a long history of delays and unfulfilled promises, which is why he was put aside from the game industry world, exactly like Molineaux and Romero. Great people, amazing visionaries and designers, but really really bad at keeping up with deadlines and often create more hype than what their products actually deliver (Daikatana, Fable, Giants, Freelancer, Starlancer...just to mention some). So it is legit that some people start to get worried about the huge delay. This is not GTA5 or Half Life 3, that could take a decade, but you know that the outcome will be outstanding, so it is totally legit to stop the unfulfilled train of dreams, and get down on reality.

There is no shame in stepping back; especially for those of you that spent THOUSANDS to support this game development adventure..I get that many of you are scared to go back now, refusing to accept that if things go bad, it was a great waste of money. This is the same as going to gamble in a casino...you continue to put coins in that slot machine, hoping that sooner or later you hit the jackpot.

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derekscorp

I'm sick of idiots like this guy who have no patience or respect for the game development process. People like him are part of the problem.

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darshie76

@derekscorp: Part of what problem? Yours? Or are you concerned that maybe someone wants to call out of this farce called Star Citizen, and this will ruin the experience for you, that still hold so hard to the hype train?

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GameofTrolls

Since 2012 ???

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KennyKenKennn

@p1p3dream: Just by reading what you wrote, you understand ALOT about the industry entire. I want to know then why Valve is doing this kind of thing to Half Life 3 what with taking too long and all. By all accounts, with the route taken and it's cons associated, Half Life 3 isn't going to go anywhere. Yet, Valve is doing this kind of thing and funding basically their own projects like this. Is there something I'm missing or is this whole thing just an anomaly? Sorry in advance if this sounds all over the place but I'm really curious why this game is taking so long. It IS in development but, it's been about a decade now. What, at least in your opinion, the reason why it's taking so long.

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p1p3dream

@kennykenkennn: Good question.

Unfortunately, I don't believe it's a short, concise, and straight forward answer. To start to answer it you have to look at the background of Valve, where it started and what it has evolved into today, even the culture of Valve. I think the story of Valve would make a pretty amazing documentary someday.

I think one of the key answers to the half life question reside in the business model with Valve. It's always good to remember that the answer to everything in business, is money. Money is the engine that drives business. The bigger a company gets, the more money it's worth. As the saying goes- Mo' Money, Mo' Problems. The more money involved with something, the more complicated things tend to get around it.

The Valve that created Half Life in the late 90's is a much less complicated company than the current Valve. Late 90's Valve created the success Half Life, and later Half Life 2, which brought a string of money and value to the company. One of Valve's key focuses that made it such a great company was its focus on technology. Most of Valve's games grew out of technology concepts. Portal is a great example of a game that was created on the foundation of a core technology- the portal technology which allowed levels to be connected in such unique and crazy ways. Valve's games tended to be focused on technology concepts and demos. A lot of Valves games were Mods that other people created using Valves's open source technology (the Source engine) that Valve recognized the financial potential of and brought into the companies fold. The creation of STEAM was a huge turning point for Valve and their business model. Steam continued to evolve the mission statement of Valve. Steam also became a pretty huge source of income for valve, and the infrastructure that grew out to support Steam naturally continued to change the evolution of Valve from a Video game creation company to a company that acted more and more like a publisher. A lot of Valve's big games were created by other people, and then licensed/published by valve.

Underlying idea behind everything here is money. For a company the size of Valve currently, the motivation for creating something is ultimately money. They look at the amount of money it will take, they also look at the amount of time it will take, and of course projected profits. In my opinion this is a driving reason why we haven't seen Half Life 3. Development of AAA games are pretty close to the budgets of summer block buster movies. They take an army of effort. I believe that Valve just hasn't had the motivation to dedicate the amount of resources a game like HL3 would need, to be created. Valve has gotten very use to the steady drop of cash provided by Steam, and has evolved into a company much more interested in experimental ideas and technology, than a company focused on traditional AAA gaming. It's a company that has changed direction if you ask me. And I think the VIVE is a major example of the type of company Valve has evolved into. Valve is no longer a company that is driven by the focus on one project at a time, which is what you would typically need to create a game like Half Life 3 in todays gaming industry. Looking at Valve's employee handbook gives very strong support to this view. Valve encourages its employees to back jack of all trades, not necessarily specialists in one unique thing. Valve encourages its employees to go off and experiment and come up with new ideas, and there is a spirit of strong competition of "the best idea" wins. Valve is like a bee hive with lots of little groups of worker bees working on different things. Valve like's to differentiate itself from other companies by saying that they have a "flat hierarchy structure." That is, their philosophy is that everyone's opinions are weighed equally, that the traditional ideas of "project managers" and "supervisors" don't really exist. Employee's aren't reviewed by a boss, but they form 'pods' in which they review each other. In theory this creates an open environment that encourages innovation, and an environment of "A" players. The hiring process for a company tries to only hire the best most qualified, but sometimes less qualified people can slip through the cracks because they might of lied on resumes or they are very charismatic and can come off in an interview as more skillful then they are in reality. The idea behind Valves employee review process is that B or C players will be weeded out. The problem, of course, is that the ideas with the purest of intentions are subject to corruption once they are released into the domains of humans. I have heard from associates that not all is well in paradise. Over time human corruption has seeped into its infrastructure. While the ideas behind Valves flat philosophy are pure and have the best of intentions, once you have a company that grows to the size of Valve- it starts to break down a bit. What was meant to create a culture of healthy competition, support innovation, and positively encourage ideas, began to turn a bit toxic. I've heard from associates that there is an feeling of anxiety surrounding job security- that there is a hidden hierarchy of power. Someone might get negative reviews from fellow employees simply because they weren't liked, or were being discriminated against for whatever reason. This leads to a bit of a toxic culture, in which good ideas get lost, because they aren't popular, and popular ideas get boosted which may not be the most innovative. I don't want to get too lose on this part of Valve, but I simply want to give an impression of the internal structure of the Modern Valve company which has become a bit fractured.

The point here is that I don't believe that the current company organization structure of Valve is geared towards the creation of a AAA project such as Half Life 3. I think Valve would need to go through a major organizational restructure and culture shift to be successful at such a project. And I don't think that financially, it would make sense for Valve to go through this shift in resources to support the making of HL3. They are bringing in quite a lot of money supporting Steam, and acting as a publisher.

Which brings up the logical theory of that perhaps a Duke Nukem Forever scenario would allow HL3, in which another company created it. Using a DNF as a case study though, and seeing the disaster that resulted, I don't see how Valve would really consider this scenario as viable.

I have one other theory about Half Life 3, which is a long shot. BUT- it's also possible that Valve was waiting to finish VIVE and has been waiting for VR to mature. Because if Half Life 3 was to be created by Valve as a VR only application it could be the "killer VR app" that helps bring VR into the main stream. But this is just pure what if? speculation.

Micro background on me: I've worked in game development as an illustrator, and I've been involved with projects as a producer. I'm not a fantastic illustrator, so I can't claim any major releases, but I've seen the development process from many sides. As a producer I've also seen the business end of things. I've been involved with computer technology and gaming specifically for most of my practical life, say just under 30 years. A few of my childhood friends that I'm still in touch with hold key positions at Sony Santa Monica and Electronic Arts. This is just to say that while a lot of the things I say is speculation, it's speculation that comes from an educated background.

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darshie76

@kennykenkennn: It takes time to do something new; and this is admirable. But they are making a game with other people's money, not their money, which free them from the concept of "if I don't finish and sell it, I won't be paid". They have been paid in advance for 5 years of salary, so why hurry? HL3 is made with whatever money they have... once they finish the funds, they will wrap things up, polish and release.

in SC instead, if you get low in funds; make a sale on a ship that does not even exist yet, and once you get the money, hire artists and pay them to make what has been already paid. This would be legit if there was a game out there, so you pay to improve it...that would be totally fine. But as now; more and more money pour in this project, and what has been displayed is borderline disappointing. Except if you ask the fanboys of course. This is my dream, but after all these years, I was forced to open my eyes and understand that this is not a game anymore, but a feature creep derailed project. It will beat Daikatana and Fable probably.

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Reportmenewb

People are shitting over each other, and at least 3 fanboys have been PM'ing me for the past 2+ days about this vaporware game.

At the least, this guy is protecting his AND YOUR rights as a consumer. Yes this happens to be "against" the newest widdle "indie darling" (well does a game with a 120 mil budget exactly fit the "indie" label? I'm sure you'll tell me in emails.)

Regardless of what company it is, drastically changing the ToS (and having to agree to it in accessing things like the website, forums, your account) is shady. Shady enough they paid the refund (making sure to bitch about it in public) because they are afraid it won't hold up in court.

This is the effect of signing the 2.4 ToS:

1. They can deliver anything considered a Minimal Viable Product - aka your precious Alpha. You can fly in it, so its viable right? According to GIS, right. They could ship it as is, and since its viable, there is your Star Citizen. Enjoy!
2. In fact, they are under no obligation to deliver anything, ever.
3. You are not entitled to refunds
4. Can delete, ban, and not refund your account for any reason, including contacting customer service "too much"
5. Their customer service marks people with disparaging nicknames in dealing with them ("snowflake", "troubemaker") in order to track them and any comments of "dissenting opinion".
6. One of their main funding points about this game was that their ToS stated they are financially responsible for where money went, AND that they would do refunds. Both these clauses were removed.
7. There is no release date
8. They have set up several incorportated entities, as well as change the ToS agreement from their parent company CIG to their subsidiary RIS in order to move liabilities and claims from their parent company to the smaller, less financially endowed company. It opens a pathway for CIS to be shielded when the game is never released and lawsuits appear.
9. You agree to never sue them.

The reason this guy got paid is to remove any damages he had, nullifying his ability to take them to court.

Fyi Duke Nukem Forever ( the poster boy for vaporware) had "Alphas" and "Betas" from 1997 to 2011 and their community said the same shit - "LOL its in development you nerds dont understand" and "rofl you fgts of course they are spending it on the game I looked up their financial records".

No, you didnt.

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darshie76

@Reportmenewb: You did mention DNF; I could not find a better example, beside Daikatana.

That game changed 3 times engine, the assets were made over and over again; because not a single person knew how to finish something, and they were a bunch of ADHD affected people, that start something but do not finish it. Resulting in a game that was already old when released; a joke of a game, on top of that.

I seriously hope that this is not the case for SC; because with all the money poured in as "pledge" after the KS campaign; someone will cry really hard if this end up in a disappointment.

People did dead threats to the guy that made No Man Sky, for a few months delay...imagine what would happen if this game won't be on par with the expectations and the money poured in the pockets of CIG.

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brievolz84

@Reportmenewb:
Aww, poor baby! It's ok, one day your definition of consumer protection (US) may come but until then it only encompasses fraud which has to be proven in court.

What next do you want to cherry pick?

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Reavern

TLDR translation: Impatient lil' bitch demands his money back.

Anyone who can afford to pledge $2500 to a crowd funded video game doesn't have the right to complain IMO. It's not like this is a kid who saved up his paper route money to buy a $40 game package. This douche apparently believed in Star Citizen enough to pledge far beyond the basic starter pledge of $40-60. Based on the denominations of the refunds, I suspect the $1650 was for an Idris Frigate plus a Constellation game package, or one of the multi-ship packages. It seems like this asshole went from trying to Pay2Win to demanding a full refund, all because he couldn't wait until the game was finished.

The really stupid thing is that the Squadron 42 singleplayer game is expected to be released in 6 months. So this idiot waited ~3 years and then bailed out right before the finish line.

While I don't think this whiny lil' bitch deserved a refund, I am glad that CIG permanently closed his account, which means that when the game is released, he won't be able recover his pledges. If he bought a game package that included both SQ42 and SC, he'll have to pay extra for both games. If he had LTI ships, they're gone; he can only buy ships with standard insurance. If he bought ships while they were cheaper, they'll be more expensive. If he bought any limited time or number ships, he can't buy them anymore. There are a lot of perks for buying into Star Citizen early, which will make the wait well worth it. :)

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Bond_Villain

@reavern: State of the world today, it's all about me, me ,me and now, now, now or I'll sue you, take u to court, cry my eyes out all over social media etc

Good riddance actually :)

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Psionacles

One of the main problems is this isn't a released game that has already been paid for. The funds are being used to build the game and they may of had $117mill pledged to them but that does not include the refunds they have had to make because it's a simple web counter.

If everyone starts asking for refunds now it puts the whole game in jeopardy as budgets will have been set for the next year or so based on there current funds and projected pledge amounts. There probably having to run a really tight ship to get the game done on this small amount of money.... And it is tiny for a game of it's scale. So change is more likely to protect themselves so the game can be done

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darshie76

@psionacles: Forgive me....small amount of money? Are you writing a comment to be sarcastic?

GTA5, which took 6 years top to bottom, did cost shy of 110M; and we are talking of something that was built on a complex system, because they can't just get GTA4 and reskin it.

SC is over 120M, from what I recall; Elite was completed with a 100th of that money; same goes for No man sky. Then of course, if you have to do the work 3 times, because after designing and making something, you realize that it has to be changed from scratch, then of course not even with 300M you can get to a AAA product.

As someone that is working in the industry since 2002, I can tell you for sure that with 100M you can get out at the door with something pretty good, and then build on that foundation with expansion packs. People don't mind spend 1000 bucks for a fictional ship, they would have no problems in paying every year 49 or 59 dollars for an expansion; that's a given.

What they do with the money, is their problem, people just want to see results,and not in 10 years.

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IanNottinghamX

@darshie76: Elite and No Mans sky are different situations. Star Citizen is a crowd funded game.
Elite and No mans sky had investors. I like the idea of Crowd funding better than games funded by investors because then the people can have more of their 2 cents on the actual development of a game as opposed to having no say until the game is on the market to be patched with minor changes.

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darshie76

@IanNottinghamX: I am aware of that; the scope is different, but they are space games, with development time and functionalities that took considerably a lot of effort and talent. Both teams are a fifth of the CIG team, but they are out there already.If it takes forever to make a super detailed spaceship, that's a fetish of the designer, not a requirement...you can develop a game with cubes and primitives, like almost any studio does; that's what Alpha meant, few years ago...a prototype with features implemented to see if they work. Nowadays Alpha means nothing.

Elite was crowdfunded too; up to open beta it was crowdfunded, exactly like Star Citizen. NMS was born as indie and they found a producer; so it may be slightly different, but the amount of money spent for that project is the equivalent of the main KS campaign for SC; so they are not that far. Elite did not receive 125M in fundings by investors; the whole game did cost less than 25M, investors came in when the game was already past beta point (and subscribers for the early access would pay 400 bucks for the alpha, and 130 for the beta, if you recall it; which is how they were able to get money without selling ships). There is plenty to do with all the money that SC continue to ammass; but they went for the road of paying hollywood stars to do CG animation, for a game that does not even exist yet... To each their own, but I would rather put the money to make the game great, and then make it pretty with extras. People don't buy Squadron 42 to see the CG, but to play the game :) If there is cool CG, then it is better, but not the selling point for sure.

People has no say in a crowdfunding process; as proven now by many of the games that started on KS and ended up on the store. They simply created a community to get more money...look at the early videos with wingman, and all the times they would say "sure, this will be in the game", when backers would ask the most weird stuff to add in the game. It became a feature creep creature that ran out of their hands. Then they figured out that not all that people wants can be done, and it takes talent to do stuff and put all great ideas in code. They listen to an extent; but backers has no power, since you can't ask for a refund (unless you go to court and make a hell of a noise), so this idea that backers help in the design process, is purely a sale pitch to empower people. Imagine if they would have to deal with different opinions every time...you would spend more time moderating than coding :)

Elite did the same: during the KS they were saying that backers will help to make the product; they made awesome desing discussion forums; then... screw you guys, we do as we please, and thanks for the money! :) That's how it works...you pitch in to make a product; but nobody has to listen to what a backer say, nor we backers have any legal right in the end. They may be interested in following what someone say, only if you are a subscriber and spend real cash to buy their ships...these are your cash cow people; you need to keep them happy and interested, because they do PR for you and bring money and friends.

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IanNottinghamX

@darshie76: You misunderstand what i mean. Im saying that when you back a game you can have a voice in terms of feedback a lot more than a game made out of the blue where you dont know who invested what. You cant compare No man Sky and elite on any fronts. Noman sky and Elite werent made with the same scope as Star Citizen was. Games are hard things to put together. Putting together anything is tough ie Movies, Music videos etc. But with games theres a lot that goes into it from the logistic ends of things. You cant just point out to one game and say "hey do that!" Theres all sorts of reasons why what works for one game cant work for another especially when your talking about different game mechanics and stuff involved and Hundreds of thousands of man hours by a large amount of people.

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darshie76

@IanNottinghamX: Well, you may have a voice but is not like you increase the chance of having them hearing your voice. Matters not if they allow you to post on a forum, when they still do what they like. Which is why it is the same in the end, between a crowdfunded game and a standard one.

Well, of course they have different scope, but this does not change things...so a car that has 100 gadgets on it, is automatically better than another one, just based on the premises and the features? This is what I answer when people tell me that SC is bigger, better, more complex. AS now there is no game; it is a tech demo; so can't compare apples to apples with the other space games that are already released.

I am working in the field since 1999; I am well aware of how each product is a different beast; but you can tell when someone is doing things in a messy way, and when they are on track. It is not for fun that people take degree in just the management part of software development cycle... their job is to do things right, to get the product out with the best quality level.

Then of course, if you are making a indie game in your basement, you can do as you wish, but inexperienced people are the ones that make most of the mistakes upfront, which is what CIG did. Then they decided to spend the money for some people that have experience, and this is why we moved forward with the mini-PU. Although you can't undo 2 years and a half lost, so in facts, it is like if SC development stared 3 years ago, not 5.

Don't be fooled by quantity of hours or people employed....you would be surprised if you would look at how big corporations (Apple, Google and so on) do things, and how many people they have. It is not about how many people you throw at something, but about the quality of the work that they do, and the ability of their lead/management to drive them to the most productive way.

Duke nukem had 15 years of development time? Did it come out good? :) Exactly.

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IanNottinghamX

@darshie76: Your missing the point im making entirely. Im not speaking in general Im talking specifically about game production and development. My point in mentioning the numbers in terms of people and money are spot on. If you are making a game in your basement or if your hiring hundreds of people(both of which require money btw) it all comes down to the what of whats being done. The fact is the type of production Star Citizen is doing is AAA and expensive. The money they asked for is actually less than what they are going to need to complete that game. Yet people point out the same dollar amount from the kickstarter without understanding what that dollar value represents. It represents the production costs,man hours,equipment etc of a tech company with the intent of putting out a AAA product. We dont get to see the common costs of AAA companies. Though we do hear numbers some of those numbers that are listed in games media are actually wrong and its more expensive than people think(Which is why I say the AAA game production idea is unsustainable). Anyone that had a minor understanding of business could understand that.

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darshie76

@IanNottinghamX: Well, from what you say, I don't see how your point apply to game development and design, since you are talking more like a community manager/salesperson than a EPM or a technical manager.

As someone that look at the beef, and not at how good something look on the meny, or how great is the spiel that a salesman deliver, I simply pointed out that SC has more hype than actual deliverables at the moment. Just talking about personal experiences, there have been project that were supposed to last 2 weeks, and ended up being 2 months; products that were incomplete, shipped as full version, sneaking in updates to add the missing features, hoping that nobody will realize it; projects where there were breaking bugs that were left intentionally because it would take too long to fix them and risk to break something else. These are just few of the issues that you may deal with, when you work in software or hardware, and most of the mistakes usually happens because one or more elements of a team are problematic, or the one that lead the team does poor communication job, or has no idea how to direct others.

Not saying that SC and CIG are like that; but looking at the patterns, interviews, news and so on, there is a general feeling that not too many people are talking to each other, or something hasn't been communicated correctly. One example above all: you don't do final models of a game when you do not have even the prototype of the game; you do not make all the animations, and re-do them all, but make the basic animations and tweak them while the game development cycle advance. LAst but not least; you don't waste resources and time for CG that is an accessory element, unless you are making a CG movie.

These are mistakes that could happen for many different reasons; I don't question their ability as individuals, since some people are told what to do, and others are telling what to do; and either side may be not so great at communicating...but as software company; they are piling up things that then bite their back at one point, and this has been outlined by many people, both that work in the industry, and journalists.

Regarding money: you never know how much you need; the greatest cost is people: the more you hire, the faster you finish but the more you pay. In the beginning they were few in CIG, then they had to expand, and now I lost the count (hundreds of people?); that's where most of the money go. Then you have equipment, rental of the offices, insurance for the workers, legal team and bills/utilities. Thsi apply either if you are in your mom basement or in the Rockfeller tower. The problem when you have continuous flow of money, is that you are not forced to finish and wrap up; you continue to iterate, change things, because you don't care...next month there is another check that get in the bank, so who cares if people did efforts for the model damage...let's change it and waste time, because it looks cooler! This happened in the past, both to Mr CR and to many other developers/designer, so it is a known issue, and that's why a producer give you a limit in time and money that you can allocate and spend...so you have to finish a product, because they want to get back of the investment.

SC is AAA and expensive? Maybe; but you can do what they did, in Unity3d or Unreal engine, with few people and in about a year, and nobody would notice the difference really, if you look just at the gameplay available today. Most of their work, time and efforts was spent on ships, because that's the only thing that allow them to put food on the table. This is their choice, I am not part of their team so I could care less if they want to make the credits first and then the game, or if they think that people will buy forever new ships that are free in game "to support the development of the game". in fact, many backers are only supporting bad habits and giving permission to CIG to continue for as long as they want, instead of forcing them to deliver a product as promised, that can be fixed and expanded little by little, as time goes by.

The average person does not get to see how it works behind the curtain, but others do, and these are the one that speaks about the problems with this project. This is something that is a given at this point, which is why we are all waiting for CIG to release something, that justify all these money invested and all this time, and will prove that you can develop a product like this, without follow conventional procedures and delivering a top notch product.

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kanekan-slaugh

@fat_albertc: not saying everything about it is stupid, I'm just annoyed that any a-hole could just decide to back something and then take back everything a bit later. Even with the terms of backing.

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IanNottinghamX

@kanekan-slaugh: This is part of the problem theres idiots who are maliciously backing just to stur shit up.

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p1p3dream

Hmm. I've been pretty neutral on this topic, as it has little impact on my life either way, other than to provide periodical amusement from the many stories that have arisen surrounding the project.

I *did* ultimately pledge some dough, mostly because I got a new rig and wanted to check out some of the flight modules and see how they looked / ran. So now I have a little skin in the game.

At this point, the whole crowdfunding concept has been around long enough that we've seen a lot of projects run their full course. As exciting and innovative as the concept of kickstarting was initially, the shiny-ness is dulling, and "the numbers are in" as they say. The reality of developer led projects is not the utopia we imagined. One interesting thing thats come out of this kickstarter revolution, is that we're seeing the hard truth about the role publishers play in game development. Typically, they have been cast as the villain in the story, stealing candy from the kids, and managing sweat shops where developers are indentured slaves, their creativity stolen, and their work cruelly paced, forced to schedules... Okay, maybe I'm being extreme, but you get the idea.

The thing is, a good publisher is kind of like a good lawyer, they may not be popular, but ultimately they serve a purpose and enforce accountability. Stability and oversight. I've supported a lot of kickstarters that I was initially really enthusiastic about, but I have to say that I've been generally disappointed and pretty underwhelmed with the end results. Many of the games that were sequels to games that publishers discontinued, just didn't really live up to the quality and production values of the previous products, especially if the projects were AAA type releases. And then of course there are just as many projects that just crash and burn, or vanish altogether.

Without a publisher setting a schedule with milestones that need to be reached, developers are left to their own devices which probably feels amazing and wonderful because finally they can code and work at their own pace without someone looking over their shoulder all the time and breathing down their necks about things that the developer doesn't think is important. So then you get situations where quality and production becomes really uneven and time can just disappear because programmers might get caught up on something that seems critical and all consuming to them, but in the grand scheme of the project wasted time on something that shouldn't have been focused so deeply on. It's hard for us to be critical of our own work. It's hard to know when to stop. Most programmers never get to a point where they say they are "finished!" with a game, because there is ALWAYS more than can be done, more that could be added, more polish to do. Publishers help insure that games don't just languish in dev limbo, but see the world.

TL;DR:

I am starting to wonder about RSI's ability to actually deliver a game. It looks like they have a serious case of feature creep, and scope that just seems to keep increasing, as money keeps pouring in. Hopefully they have hired some decent project managers that know how to actually ship a game, because otherwise this Star Citizen will very likely end up being one of the biggest and most expensive blunders in the history of video games.

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Thanatos2k

@p1p3dream: Yep. Publishers were the boss, so to speak. And no one likes their boss, but a boss is necessary to keep you accountable for the work you're supposed to be doing.

Now that these crowdfunded devs are their own boss, all accountability has gone out the window. Missed another deadline? Who cares! Bloated feature creep? I'm just making a better game!

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p1p3dream

@Thanatos2k: Yep, that is definitely a valid way to put it. A good publisher brings accountability, stability, and experience in handling all of the challenges that need to be faced to make sure that amazing game is accessible and visible to all the people who want to be playing it.

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Psionacles

@p1p3dream: publishers are also responsible for games failing to deliver by controlling what the dev does. A businessman controlling a game dev is never good as they havnt got a clue they just see something from somewhere else or "have a good idea" and force them to do that

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p1p3dream

@psionacles:Of course! There are cases where the final product delivered is sub par and/or fails to deliver the promised experience and the onus is more on the shoulders of the publisher then the developer. One of the typical scenarios is when a publisher requires an unrealistic deadline for the finished project, which forces the developer to cut many corners. The reasons for this are rarely simple, and the responsibility of blame for the deadline is not always easily pinned on one specific element. Business development can be complicated. It might be a situation where funding is coming from multiple sources, where timing is important to achieve funds, or there might be tax law reasons that are complicating things.

This is why I stressed "... a good developer..." in my previous posts. I do think that you're over simplifying the process a bit though. The concept of the "evil business man" deviously controlling a game developer, and forcing them to create something against their will (as I explained in the above post) is a bit over the top, and a bit of a false stereo-type. It's important to remember that at the end of the day, a businessman's goal is to *make money.* They may not be interested in playing video games, or have a clue of how to make them, but I can tell you they are interested in doing everything they can to maximize their profit. And that can be done through market research, and statistical analyses to see what people buy and what people don't. You would think that a company founded by a "Suit" would be behind some

One example of this approach is Ryan Brant. He was a bloke who was born with a buncha cash. He didn't make video games, but that didn't stop him from buying companies that did make games. You would think a guy like this, who 'didn't have a clue' would be behind some pretty shitty games. But Ryan liked money, and followed his nose, founding his company in 1993, at the age of 21... He kept on buying companies he fancied, and in 1998 bought the developer BMG Interactive. He didn't like the name though, so he changed it to something else. He kept buying up companies, all the while, just being a suit. You'd think he would probably be behind some of the dumbest more boring games, since he was really just a suit interested in money.

You might be surprised to find out that this "suit" Ryan Brant, which might not be a name a lot of people even recognize, is behind some fairly popular games. In case you're wondering, the company he founded in 1993 was Take Two, and BMG changed it's name to RockStar Games. Along with Rockstar, Take Two also owns 2k Games. Take Two is responsible for BioShock. Borderlands. Civilization. Grand Theft Auto. Mafia. Max Payne. MLB 2k. NBA 2k. Red Dead. Xcom.

The reality is, the AAA gaming industry wouldn't exist without these businessmen/suits.

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karenwen

@p1p3dream: That's a very sobering outlook. I couldn't put it into words better myself. DNF comes to mind, and on the flip side, the upcoming "The Last Guardian". Oh yeah, and Max Payne 3. Though, those weren't crowdfunded, a dev can have all the time in the world.

Max Payne 3, imo, was a pretty good game, but with titles like DNF being a letdown, TLG will be tested to see if the time on development was put to good use. Being critical of your own work can sometimes be taken too far with impossibly high standards and this results in constant time suckers like analysis paralysis, procrastination and perpetual insatiability. The feeling that whatever you do won't be good enough. Time passes by, and before you know it, your stuff is dated and you have to play catch up.

Then there are those whose standards where quality is concerned is just too damn low. They somehow get their hands on a respected property or advertise the revival of a tried and true gameplay system, and play on sentimentality of gamers, making thousands to millions before development has started. Now their intentions might actually be good, but at some point or another, complacency kicks in. I haven't given any bucks towards the development of SC, but I'm hoping for its sake, and those who have invested that it lives up to the hype.

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p1p3dream

@karenwen: Duke Nukem Forever is definitely a case study for what can happen when a developer isn't partnered with a publisher to help control and reign in the project. There are definitely many examples of non-crowd funded "AAA" games that have crashed and burned or just languished in "developer hell" as they call it, it's usually when there is no publisher involved- but even sometimes publishers can't get a developer to take care of business. And that's when we see Studios closed and companies restructured.

It is a sobering outlook, i agree. It just shows you the challenge that Kickstarted projects face. When even major projects can fail due to internal structure problems, that are backed by deep investor pockets- it calls into question the ultimate viability of the crowd funding model for game development. Game development is not for the faint of heart, the transparency of kickstarter projects have been giving us windows into tight rope walk nature of game development. You also have to consider the fact that the kickstarter platform is an all or nothing model- so it is both tempting and dangerous as developers may make there funding goal overly conservative in the hopes it will be more likely to be reached. Of course, the obvious flip of that is that if you then reach the goal- you're much more vulnerable to financial problems, as well as run the risk of an inferior product.

Star Citizen is such an bizarre and incredible anomaly, there really isn't anything to compare it to. I'm truly fascinated what the end result will be, as I just really have a hard time reading the future of this project. There is a lot going for it. If Chris Roberts knows what he is doing from a business angle just as well as the development angle then we might get to witness something very special that will probably not be replicated again. Of course, if Chris Roberts is like my Mom and burns through money like a fat man through cheese cake using his fingers- there might be just a big mess at the end.

For the record, I hope they come through and deliver a masterpiece, something that isn't worried about avoiding risks for the sole reason of wider market appeal, a game that is born from a time when video games were created by gamer's and there were no set templates of do's and do not's, and despite the fact graphic fidelity was limited you could just feel the vastness of a world created from another mind conspiring with your own wild imagination resulting in an adventure that was just so much.... fun. Because it wasn't scripted so tightly that the player's imagination became chained to the perfectly rendered rear end of some impossibly perfect being, each moment and beat accounted for and spread sheeted. I have such fond memories of games like X-Wing and Tie-Fighter. I rarely knew what was going on in the plot, but damn, if I couldn't wait to come home from school and fire up the slow ass 386 or whichever and go shoot down some fucking space polygons.

TL: DR

Games are expensive and hard to make. Kickstarted games usually suck. Star Citizen is crazy, wierd, and neat. It could be super cool, or it could be super whack.

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Mr357Magnum

"Take $3000 from me." That emotive language. As if he was held at gunpoint. Then again, better to seem like the victim than to accept personal responsibility.