Chris Roberts has to be one of the happiest men in gaming right now. Between the on-site crowdfunding and Kickstarter Star Citizen to date has raised $6.6m so what does that mean for the space sim genre and PC gaming as a whole? Quite a bit I think.
Firstly that amount of cash, donated freely is astounding, record-breaking and a little humbling. A lot of Kickstarters amount to “I’ve got an idea, give me money” and others are so outrageously ambitious that it feels like a waste of cash to donate when the project has no chance of being completed. If I’d been given a spec list of Star Citizen without any context it definitely would have seemed like one of those pie in the sky projects. Of course that’s not the case for one reason, Chris Roberts.
No, he didn’t invent the space sim, but her did pioneer it and bring it to the very peak of its popularity (discounting Eve Online as part of the genre of course). Without Wing Commander, Starlancer and Freelancer (although he left this project prior to completion) my childhood would have been considerably different. You see I love flying things in games and the addition of space is like a magnetic lure I simply can’t ignore. I trashed close to a dozen joysticks over hundreds of hours of exploration and dogfighting and it left me with skills I still use today. So when I saw the announcement video you can imagine my reaction. In fact you don’t have to imagine, I said it already
There’s been precious little out there to sate my appetite for sandbox space exploration; there was the brilliant but fiendishly difficult Evochron Mercenary but I’ve had to settle for space based 4x titles. But it’s not the same. Star Citizen gives me the option to relive those days and take to hard vacuum again with a well armed but nimble fighter or my heavily armoured battle barge. I want it, I want it now. In fact there has never been a game I’ve wanted this much (including SWTOR). Star Citizen will be a sandbox multiplayer title with Squadron 42 covering the single player element. But Chris Roberts has said it isn’t an MMO, but it is. With over 100 systems at launch Star Citizen will be able to support large populations without appearing crowded; and considering the buzz in the press (and the direct funding from fans) large numbers of people will want to play. It’s like the best elements of Planetside 2, where users will want to form groups and take on enemies, whether through scripted challenges against other factions or player generated distinctions. Consider this, a group of friends, banding together to form a squadron utilising small unit combat tactics and a clear objective. That was the dream I had years ago and Star Citizen will be my conduit.
But central to the Star Citizen development is the resurrection of PC games. No, PC gaming isn’t dead but with the mainstream now focused on consoles we PC gamers tend to be an afterthought. Chris Roberts states clearly that the PC is the best platform for high quality games. Where many publishers have tried to make their titles accessible to less powerful machines he’s thrown that out. In their manifesto they say Star Citizen will have 10x the detail of current AAA titles which means power. That is what I want and I feel other PC gamers do too. Building a powerhouse computer is cheaper and easier than ever but apart from titles designed primarily for consoles we struggle to find something that can really push our systems to the limit. Do you remember when “Can it run Crysis?” really meant something? I do and I lavished as much attention into my builds as my counterparts did with their cars.
$6.6m given over to Star Citizen means the interest is not only there, it’s at the levels that could kick off an entire wave of new PC only triple A titles as well as more space sims over the next few years. So has Chris Roberts changed the PC gaming market without even releasing a new game? Probably. Is November 2014 really far away? Hell yeah it is. All we can say for sure is that the big developers will take a look at this and wonder “how can I get in on this?” my guess is they’ll consider three things:
- Trying to use Kickstarter for their own projects (which many have already tried)
- Develop their own space sim
- Develop PC only IP’s
It’s up to PC fans to continue to support great projects with our own money until someone takes notice and realises that we’re the most passionate of gamers. We spend the most, we play the most and we care about quality games, even if they don’t have the backing of our favourite publisher. I am, and always will be a PC gamer first and foremost and I’ll do my bit.
Before I go, here’s a little taste of the space combat from the pre-alpha tests:
Find out more about Star Citizen here http://www.robertsspaceindustries.com/