"It’s the same stories you get on all big projects and distributed projects. You tend to scale up on big projects because you’re trying to deliver a lot of stuff. But the bigger you get, the less efficient you’ll get and the more friction you’ll get in terms of trying to get things done."
- Chris Roberts says the lengthy development of Star Citizen, originally slated for release in 2014,
What's going on with the development of Star Citizen?
That's a question that designer Chris Roberts is having to answer more and more often as delays mount and the game's development coffers grow (Star Citizen's recently surpassed $87 million in funds raised from a combination of crowdfunding and sales of in-game items.)
Roberts recently announced that a much-desired FPS module for Star Citizen, "Star Marine," would be delayed indefinitely in order to overhaul its basic mechanics, networking code, and more.
As part of that announcement he wrote with remarkable candor about how the delay impacted the release timeline of Star Citzen as a whole (which is being developed concurrently as a series of modules that are being released piecemeal to supporters ahead of the game's official debut), showcasing what big-budget game development can look like when it's backed by crowdfunding.
Now, in a Kotaku feature which incorporates commentary from anonymous ex-employees of Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium, Roberts is once again waving away concerns about his project as the result of what happens when the general public finds itself in the publisher's seat.
"People aren’t aware of some of the risks of developing a game,” Roberts told Kotaku. “It might take longer than you estimated. There might be some aspect of the game that doesn’t turn out as fun as you thought. Features might get changed or canceled. Most of those things happen frequently in the game business. A lot of people just aren’t aware of it because, in the past, you’ve been shielded from the mechanics of how games get made. With crowdfunding, they’re getting an on-the-front-lines experience."
Elsewhere in the report Roberts is asked directly about specific examples of missteps made during Star Citizen's development provided by sources close to the project, including an ex-employee who claimed that the game's FPS module was delayed in part because the team had to scrap and re-do- the player skeleton system from scratch -- seven times.
"It’s not an arbitrary decision that was made because, oh yeah, that’d be cooler,” Roberts responded. “We really needed a way for first- and third-person [animations] to be unified. Plus, if you can make that work, it means less resources and assets used, which is another issue for us since we already have such a big game.”
For more of Roberts' comments and insight into what's going on behind the scenes at Cloud Imperium (including a great anecdote about a "Menu Helmet" gone awry), check out the full Kotaku article.