Star Citizen's Dogfighting Module Now Available to Backers

Those who have made the necessary pledge can now check out the game's Arena Commander module.

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It took slightly longer to reach a state Cloud Imperium Games felt comfortable with, but the dogfighting module of Star Citizen is now available.

Currently in version 0.8, the dogfighting component--known as Arena Commander--is far from finished, and is only available for download for qualified backers. It includes the Vanduul Swarm and Freeflight modes, and three ships: the Aurora, 300i, and Hornet. Those whose pledge doesn't entitle them to access to one of these will be granted a "loaner" to whichever one is closest to the class they've pledged for.

Limited multiplayer support is present right out of the gate for a "small number of players." Today's announcement notes that the developers will work to deal with lag and synchronization issues as they come up, and will provide more players with access to multiplayer "in the coming weeks."

"Remember: V0.8 is just the beginning. It's the start of a hard push for the development team as we head towards V0.9 and finally V1.0, at which point Arena Commander will be 'feature complete' with the modes, maps and options promised at PAX," the announcement from creator Chris Roberts states. "By the time V1.0 drops, we aim for the entire community to have access to the multiplayer game modes!"

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An extensive manual detailing game modes, controls, the UI, and more has been released today alongside Arena Commander, as has a list of improvements planned for version 0.9. These include more mundane (but hugely important) things such as improved stability and bug fixes, in addition to new features like an extra multiplayer game mode and more weapons and items.

Today's message from Roberts acknowledges that some fans would like to see Cloud Imperium release content even earlier than it already is. However, with fans acting as quality assurance testers for the game, he explains that it wouldn't be logical to do so.

"Normally in game development you have staged testing," he says. "When you have a build that already has far more issues and instability than can be easily fixed, it's inefficient to open it up for quality assurance testing as you consume a lot of extra management and team bandwidth sifting through the issues, many of which will already be known and be duplicates of previously reported issues, or issues the team just can't get to because there are higher priority problems that have to be addressed first. Once the build becomes more stable and has most of the intended features in place, you then open it up to full QA to really hammer on it and find issues that aren't immediately obvious or provide gameplay feedback now that the game isn't crashing every five minutes."

It makes sense when explained in this way, but what makes now the right time to finally open up Arena Commander to the public? "We're releasing today because we feel the game is at a point where it's stable enough to go out to a wider audience," Roberts says. "That's not because it's done, but because it's ready for testing on a bigger scale. There are still plenty of known issues we're working and there are likely many you will discover that we haven't seen yet."

Star Citizen is being funded by fans, and has raised more money than any other project--of any kind--to turn to crowdfunding. It recently surpassed an incredible $44 million in funding, and is steadily approaching $45 million from more than 460,000 backers.

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