So Cloud Imperium Games crowdfunded a game called Star Citizen, an attempt to revive the slumbering genre of space sims that has more-or-less died out in the last decade or so.
I was never a huge fan of the genre, though I did enjoy me the occasional game of Wing Commander, but Star Citizen caught my eye because of its wildly successful crowdfunding campaign (to the tune of $91 million or so), and its incredibly ambitious scope.
I’m not sure I’d actually play the game of course: space sims for me have typically wound up being me floundering around, flying in circles (or spheres I guess, this is space after all) and cursing my innate lack of direction sense as I struggle to find something to shoot at.
But I thought that the project would serve as sort of the ultimate litmus test of crowdfunding. Could something so successful, so well funded, fail? History shows us that ambition is the enemy of software design, in a lot of ways. The notion of vaporware exists largely because of it; studios that get in over their head trying to make something revolutionary and ultimately produce nothing at all.
I’m not the only one who has been watching the game’s development with a somewhat skeptical eye, and it’s caught some flak over accusations that the money is going to run out before the game is completed, that the scope is too ambitious, and that the money is being misspent on things peripheral to the game itself, like Hollywood actors to do voice over work, and fancy trailers to hype interest.
The Escapist recently ran an article detailing a great number of such accusations, supposedly from employees and former employees of Cloud Imperium Games itself. CIG’s CEO Chris Roberts, predictably, responded with an angry letter and threats of legal action, because that was clearly the best possible way to defuse accusations that you’re an overly controlling monomaniac incapable of taking criticism.
I’m not here to comment on the ongoing fracas between these two groups.
No, I’m here to comment on what CIG did after all this hullabaloo.
They had a convention recently, CitizenCon (yes, an entire damned fan convention devoted to a game that hasn’t even come out yet, which should give you an idea of just how rabid space sim fans can be when you don’t feed them regularly), and they decided to release some new material there.
Specifically a fancy CGI trailer showcasing the voice talents of Gary Oldman and listing the roster of Hollywood actors they’ve got lined up for other roles in the game.
Seriously, my brain hurts.
Bear in mind that one of the major accusations against Chris Roberts personally is that he has never gotten over the failure of his Wing Commander film, that his motivations for pushing so hard to have “real” actors doing voice work for Star Citizen is to achieve some sort of personal redemption in that field, and that of course this obsession is causing the budget to bloat in areas where it could easily save money.
So obviously the best way to dispel those rumors is with a cinematic trailer featuring Gary-Freakin’-Oldman.
The mind boggles.