Schedule Shock: Patch 13.2 and Beyond

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(Citizen Star News) - by Citizen Ed - 2014-10-24 - Chris Roberts is famed for delivering a fantastic end product but not so strong on "on time and on budget".

So... how are we looking now?

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This "roadmap" above is from CitizenCon Oct 10th, 2014. In the heat of the intoxicating event, and seeing these long awaited milestones within reach... it's easier to miss the sobering fact that this represents a significant delay in deliveries. At first glance, I had assumed that they just hadn't extended the Road Map all the way through 2015, but Chris' comment in 10 for the Chair brought reality into sharp focus.

It's clear that someone has gone through looking at what needs to be done and dumped some cold hard reality on to the estimated schedules. There also also recent efforts to "retool" the production pipelines to make them more efficient. Perhaps if successful, these estimate delivery dates could be beaten for once, although that would be fairly unheard of at CIG.

(Side effect of this has been some loss of beloved personnel, we've already noticed that Chris Olivia has quietly left the company, and there seems to be more of this type of news coming. The Citizen Star is in contact with CIG and tracking this closely.)

Delays

In Episode 42 of 10 For the Chairman, Chris Roberts referred to delivering the first chapter of Squadron 42 in late 2015 to backers. This is the same deliverable that at last Pax East was end of this year to March.

At Gamescom, Arena Commander 1.0 was two months away. Now it's three, delivered "late 2014".

Arena Commander 3.0 isn't on that slide because the road map doesn't extend into 2016. We are looking at the first, likely primitive, PU alphas maybe at the end of 2015. 

It's worth noting that Squadron 42 is supposed to drop 4 additional chapters, one every 3 months. Meaning complete near the end of 2016. Not sure if it is still true, but Squadron 42 was supposed to be complete before the PU went beta.

A 2017 release is looking more and more likely.

New Ships and Variants

We'll be seeing new ships and variants drop fairly regularly. Gladius, Mustang, Avenger and variants of existing ships are all getting close. As the recent release of the 325A shows, they can be patched in a minor release.

Patch 13.2 (Arena Commander v0.9.2)

v0.9.2 (our internal R13.2) has some significant aiming / targeting / fine flight control changes that I hope people will appreciate - it definitely is a much better set up for fixed weapons but also doesn't go back to auto aim. I think this will also help with some of the complaints from Aurora and 300i pilots versus Hornet pilots. There is also a limited look / aim assist mode for gimbaled weapons for joystick users so they get some of the benefit of a gimabled weapon even though they don't have a good way of controlling their look / aim (you can also set up the joystick for flight and the mouse for look BTW) [source]

Current estimates for this say the end of this month or early November. Could be any day now.

Update: Patch 13, Arena Commander v0.9.2 was released 2014-10-31

Patch 14 (Arena Commander v1.0)

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We seem to have some expanded scope here.

Arena Commander v1.0 will mean that the in fiction game has shipped (or Alpha/Beta?) but it's still being considered a pre-alpha of Star Citizen, since it's far from feature complete of the game.

Chris had said two months from Gamescom was the estimated release date at the time, but now we seem to be hoping for before the end of 2014.

Should include more single crew fighters and perhaps single player style piloted Cutlass.

Arena Commander II: Revenge of the Vanduul

This release is a longer way off, we will likely see the FPS and Planetside modules out first.

  • Featuring Multi-Crew ships: Constellation, Freelancer and more
  • Single-Seat Ship variants
  • Co-operative AI Pilots
  • In-Game AI Pilots

We saw a demo of this at Gamescom, clearly some of the work is done. This will likely take several months from AC II release. Probably spread over a few major patches.

Arena Commander III: Heart of the Empire

This third installment of Arena Commander is not on the current roadmap, but in an episode of Reverse the Verse Ben Lesnick confirmed that is not scrubbed. 

  • More Environments: Spacestation, Mining Colony
  • FPS Boarding Mechanics
  • Capture the Idris mode
  • Double precision floating point coordinates for larger maps!

Once AC II ships, they'll have a better view of were this falls. Likely won't be seen until 2016.

FPS Module

Expecting to see a reveal and demo of the work done so far (and likely more details of the scope of the module) at the CIG Event at PAX Australia, Nov 1st 2014. This is the first release deliverable listed for 2015 in the roadmap, so hopefully Q1.

Planetside(Social) Module

Several recent comments in different contexts have placed this module into next year. It had been slated earlier, but various work has pushed it back. Second deliverable of the 2015 roadmap. Something around South by Southwest (SXSW) in March? In a recent Around the Verse, Ben and Sandi mentioned SXSW as being a really big deal for Star Citizen. It is still unclear what this module entails, but clearly the Terra and ArcCom Landing zones will be featured. Avatar customization may be seen here? Citizen Con 2014 showed a number of features that we can hope for, MobiGlas and attire, hats. Layered clothing. 

With this release, we should be begin moving from having accounts to having actual characters in the Verse.

Squadron 42

The single player (with optional co-op) game, with mo-capped and performance captured NPCs, is estimated to ship (to backers) it's first 10 Mission pack in late 2015. Spiritual successor to the Wing Commander series, looking to outdo it about every way. Various estimates had been near the beginning of next year and around March. There are planned to be four 10 mission packs or chapters, shipping every 3 months after the initial 10 are released.

After the game ships, the plan is to continue with additional follow up mission packs, that are intended to be played by your PU characters. Either re-enlisting for the duration, or as military contractors or mercenaries.

Persistent Universe

The PU demo was a centerpiece of the Citizen Con 2014 presentation. Tony Zurovec has been hard at work leading a team largely out of Austin to work on tools, Game Design Documents, technical specs, and a five system prototype. We aren't expecting an alpha of the Persistent Universe until at least 3rd Quarter of 2015. Expecting it to be fairly primitive at that point, as AC 3.0 likely won't be finished yet.

Chris Robert's has defined when the modules get put together into the PU and the PU is reasonably feature complete, then Star Citizen will be in Alpha. Anything before that is defined as "pre-alpha".

It's important to note that Chris has said that they would try to avoid a wipe after they got a "stable beta", but instead just roll out into a release with all that history and character progress. So at that point, Star Citizen PU gameplay truly begins.

Release

Final Ship for Star Citizen PU can be reasonably estimated anywhere between Q1 of 2016 and sometime 2017. Really up in the air at this point, as there is a lot of ground to cover and much of the work is still in planning stages.

Beyond

We know that Star Citizen is meant to have at least a ten year lifespan. Development will continue, adding new features and content.

For example the Procedural Generation team is expected to push the planetary exploration side of things in the No Man's Sky direction and allow more free-form landings and planetary exploration.

Also we know that the astro-politics of the UEE is intended to continue to evolve and progress. The UEE and surrounding areas will change and grow. Balance of power and relationships with alien races will change. This will all be curated by the "live team" and writing staff as well as player influenced by player interactions.

New PVE missions and content will be added to the Persistent Universe on an ongoing basis.

New follow up mission packs will be produced for Squadron 42, and alternate singleplayer/coop games focused on other aspects of life than the UEE Navy may very well be introduced. They've certainly been discussed.

The scope of this game is breathtaking. The challenge is monumental. Compared to other AAA games the current schedule isn't unreasonable. It's disappointing that we will likely have to wait a bit longer, and it will take some time to adjust, but the end result should be amazing. It's also clear that there is an effort to be realistic with these estimates and steps are being taken to speed up delivery, while not sacrificing the overall quality.

Time will tell. Rest assured Citizen Star News will be tracking, and expect updated versions of this article as things change.

NOTE: All date estimates from CIG are subject to change. Citizen Star News has no additional knowledge on dates outside of public comments. CIG was contacted for comment but has so far not opted to do so. The work CIG is doing is groundbreaking, pushing into new territory and the agile methodology they use does not lend itself to hard dates.

See Also

Citizen Con 2014 - Livestream Video

Reddit Discussion

Corrections

2014-10-25 - Updated PAX Aus date and linked to event information.