Star Citizen, the upcoming MMO space sim developed by Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Freelancer), smashed crowdfunding records when it secured $124 million of investment this September. With the Alpha 3.0 version of the game promised very soon, some absolutely gorgeous new screenshots have recently emerged, giving backers a taste of what their money has bought them.
Star Citizen: The Story so Far
Chris Roberts originally pitched a space simulator with an emphasis on awe-inspiring scenery in 2012. His pitch combined a single player portion (titled "Squadron 42") that ties into an online multiplayer component more in line with an MMO. Due to a lack of publisher interest, he turned to crowdsourcing the funding through his website at RobertsSpaceIndustries.com.
The crowdfunding campaign was met with enthusiastic support from the off, with the project's site crashing under the load of excited fans eager to donate. To address the site's instability and make sure that the campaign didn't lose its crucial momentum, a Kickstarter was also set up.
On October 17, 2013, the project reached its full crowdfunding goal of $23 million, tearing through million-dollar milestones in mere days, and has since become the highest grossing crowdfunding project of all time. When the ships released on November 26th, 2013, Star Citizen broke a new record: Raising over one million dollars in less than a day.
So what exactly is all this money buying?
Star Citizen has the potential to be the vast, immersive space game everyone hoped No Man's Sky would be. Rolling multiple mechanics -- including space trading, combat simulation and FPS elements -- into a shared online world, Star Citizen refuses to be constrained by traditional notions of genre.
Its developers have long been teasing modular elements that form the game, including space combat sim Arena Commander, first-person shooter Star Marine and the single player story campaign Squadron 42 (featuring celebrity voice talent from the likes of Gary Oldman and Mark Hamill).
When can I play?
As of right now, $45 dollars will get you one of two ships and access to the game. You can also sign up for the upcoming Alpha 3.0 version. The update promises new flyable ships, procedurally-generated planets, and some professions for role-playing purposes.
Believe the hype?
The sandbox-loving sci-fi nerd in me is squealing so hard right now, but gamers are used to being promised the moon (or multiple moons, their veins of rich minerals, and the planets that they orbit) and being sold a lemon. Roberts has some serious design chops and these screenshots are so, so beautiful, it does a good job of just making me want to believe. But all the pretty renderings need to be backed up by evidence of solid gameplay. This weekend, the developers are hosting CitizenCon, where they've promised to showcase the single player FPS component.
Could Star Citizen win the gaming space race? Right now it feels too early to tell.
Are you excited for Star Citizen?