In November last year, during PAX Australia, Cloud Imperium showed off about nine minutes of gameplay from the first-person shooter module of Star Citizen. That module (which is one of quite a few that will all, one day, add up to form the entire Star Citizen experience) was supposed to be available to backers from April this year. Have you been playing it? Nope, us neither. That’s because it’s been stalled thanks to some development hurdles.
In a very lengthy and rather technical blog post, Chris Roberts (aka “The Chairman”) has revealed that Cloud Imperium is delaying the FPS module, which is now known as Star Marine. “…We feel the current build doesn’t feel like it lives up to the standards we’ve want to achieve with Star Citizen,” Roberts wrote, “There are several issues that will need additional time in order to deliver the first iteration of the gameplay we want you to experience. The challenges facing the FPS launch are a mix of technical blockers and gameplay issues.”
The biggest issues include the module’s network code and matchmaking; both of which are being reworked and in some cases entirely rewritten “from scratch”. Then there are smaller problems like character animations that have to actually happen in the game world, and cannot be “faked” by just manipulating the FPS view of the player’s character. Basically: when your character jumps, then the entire model needs to jump in third-person as well. A number of these animations are apparently proving problematic, but a number of ex-Crytek programmers have been brought on board who know the Cry Engine backwards.
Roberts isn’t shelving Star Marine for good, but he’s definitely saying that Cloud Imperium currently has no ETA on when the module will “ship” for backers. Will this affect the rest of the game? Yes, probably, as Roberts writes: “I don’t want to say that there is no impact: integrating the FPS properly will help move every part of Star Citizen forward, as the tech will help form the blood and sinews of the whole game…but I can’t stress enough that two additional months spent on Star Marine are not the same thing as two months of a delay for Star Citizen.
So for now I guess we just continue to wait. Star Marine was supposed to be the next “release” for the entire Star Citizen experience, but now it looks likely that we’ll be getting the Squadron 42 single-player campaign before that. Maybe. Who knows? We guess this is just part and parcel for enormously ambitious games that have no end to their financial budgets.
How’s that feature creep working out?