Squadron 42 Shifts Into Indefinite Pre-Beta Phase (December 29, 2020)

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
It's been more than fifteen months since we last reported on the progress of Star Citizen and Squadron 42, so as 2020 winds down I thought it'd be nice to check in and see how they're doing. It was just last week that Roberts Space Industries posted a new roadmap on the future of the games' development. We previously reported that the team was projecting the storyline campaign to enter beta late this year, but that will not come to pass. Chris Roberts has just announced that it's "too early to discuss release or finish dates on Squadron 42." The new roadmap shows elements like art and level design will continue as far as the projection goes into 2021. Chris has drawn parallels between Star Citizen and Cyberpunk 2077, which was in development for about 9 years before being released to a mixed reception, so there is clearly no rush to the finish line imminent. And with that being said, it'd been a record-setting year for Cloud Imperium revenue. At the project's seventh birthday, they were just shy of $237 million in total crowdfunding. That number has now jumped past $339 million, which represents a $100 million take in little over a year. Note that it took more than three years for them to collect their first $100 million. This is on top of 2019 record year unto itself, and the pace appears to have picked up 50+% in 2020. We'll find out soon enough what the next year will bring!







The new Roadmap is not meant to give people an early estimate on when Squadron 42 will be completed. We made a conscious decision to only show the Squadron 42 work concurrently with the Star Citizen work over the Roadmap’s four-quarter window. This is because it is too early to discuss release or finish dates on Squadron 42.

As I said earlier this year, Squadron 42 will be done when it is done, and will not be released just to make a date, but instead only when all the technology and content is finished, the game is polished, and it plays great. I am not willing to compromise the development of a game I believe in with all my heart and soul, and I feel it would be a huge disservice to all the team members that have poured so much love and hard work into Squadron 42 if we rushed it out or cut corners to put it in the hands of everyone who is clamoring for it.

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Original update published on December 29, 2020
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
To be honest I will see it when it's done, I guess. I will not follow the development any further, since I was expecting to play the first chapter of SQ42 5 years ago now, all the expansions like trading and farming on a planet, are not my interests in gaming. Once they are done and release the game, I'll have another look.
 

Whiplash

Commodore
To be honest I will see it when it's done, I guess. I will not follow the development any further, since I was expecting to play the first chapter of SQ42 5 years ago now, all the expansions like trading and farming on a planet, are not my interests in gaming. Once they are done and release the game, I'll have another look.
If combat is more your interest, the MMO part of the game has plenty of that too. You don't have to trade or mine or do cargo runs. Same as it was back in the Privateer days.
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
I am *still* looking forward to this project a lot but I must admit, part of the community around this game has become almost cult-like. I recently got flak once again when I raised a question regarding the The Reunion, Part 1, which was effectively yet another side-project, if this cinematic trailerish thing was taking away cinematic resources from SQ42 and its shit-load of planned cinematics. So, in short, if opening another front like a cinematic web-series (or whatever this is supposed to be) is really such a good idea.

Wrote it open and fact-based, yet backlash was gigantic 😒. Why has it become impossible to actually discuss something nowadays?
I mean, maybe the cinematic devs actually were blocked, maybe the did it in their free time, maybe it was a different team, there could be so many valid reasons for something like that.

I fear the project SQ42 is simply utterly incompatible with what project Star Citzen has become, from both a business- and design-perspective.
Do not get mewrong, what these guys are attempting is very impressive and, partially at the very least, ground-breaking. I can actually claim to understand all this stuff 😉 and the technical challenges involved, I am and have been a Software Engineer, Project Leader and Product Owner in my professional life.
But they have commited to two so very different things, and one is falling aside. Which is very very unfortunate, as I did fear something like that when the project balloned 5 years back.
 
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Whiplash

Commodore
I am *still* looking forward to this project a lot but I must admit, part of the community around this game has become almost cult-like. I recently got flak once again when I raised a question regarding the The Reunion, Part 1, which was effectively yet another side-project, if this cinematic trailerish thing was taking away cinematic resources from SQ42 and its shit-load of planned cinematics. So, in short, if opening another front like a cinematic web-series (or whatever this is supposed to be) is really such a good idea.

Wrote it open and fact-based, yet backlash was gigantic 😒. Why has it become impossible to actually discuss something nowadays?
I mean, maybe the cinematic devs actually were blocked, maybe the did it in their free time, maybe it was a different team, there could be so many valid reasons for something like that.

I fear the project SQ42 is simply utterly incompatible with what project Star Citzen has become, from both a business- and design-perspective.
Do not get mewrong, what these guys are attempting is very impressive and, partially at the very least, ground-breaking. I can actually claim to understand all this stuff 😉 and the technical challenges involved, I am and have been a Software Engineer, Project Leader and Product Owner in my professional life.
But they have commited to two so very different things, and one is falling aside. Which is very very unfortunate, as I did fear something like that when the project balloned 5 years back.
Not sure I understand the incompatibility angle, tbh. These are two different games, yes, but they share a common codebase, which means improvements made to the one carries over to the other.

Star Citizen is actually a fantastic testbed for SQ42. If dogfighting or FPS combat isn't functioning properly in SC, it won't be fun in SQ42 either, so you can tweak features using player feedback from SC to make SQ42 better.

I feel the new roadmap does a decent job of explaining what the various feature teams are busy with, and you can clearly see where a deliverable applies to both games.

As for the purpose of projects like The Reunion and its impact on SQ42.. Not sure. There may be seperate cinematic teams for one game vs the other. Perhaps it was intended as a marketing tool to create interest among people unfamiliar with the game. Such videos usually coincide with big events like free fly's or sales. I don't believe it's intended to become a regular series. Either way, I'm sure there was a purpose to it.
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
Great News.
And I am the only one thinking the new RSI Perseus is some sort of Pocket Gilgamesh?
Sure smaller and just 6 Crew instead of 250 Crew.

Both Ships
2 Ship to ship cannon
2 Flak on the Gilga - 2 x 2 Gatlings on the Perseus
Torpedos on both. Remember the Tarawa Raid with the TCS Intrepid exchange Torps with a Cruiser, both down
Or Destroyer Group 3 in the Battle of Earth.
Both ships share the same prob - not good Anti Fighter Defense. DD Group 3 lost 11 ships to Kilrathi fighters.
I think i share the same faith without Fightercover or Hammerhead
Gallery-3.jpg
RSI-Perseus-underside.jpg
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
but they share a common codebase, which means improvements made to the one carries over to the other
This is actually as much a benefit as it is a hazard. People always bring this argument up but believe the expert coder, that one requires utterly different approaches in a single player experience in contrast to a shared/synced one.
The common industry approach is actually to basically only write "one" game, with either the SP or MP part being less optimal from a technical perspective. Because, usually, one only needs to be good enough 😉.
RTS games are the classical examples, with their entire engines usually focused on multiplayer code. Running a "local" game against an AI player is not that difficult then and RTS games get away with it because of how that genre works.
For other, less predictable game genres, much more work is required. While it is certainly a lie to claim that you need write two "different" games for SP and MP in these genres, significant parts of your codebase will be different. Aka, you have double the work for each iteration/pass over these features and double the bugs too!
A classic example here is the good old Call of Duty, which actually employs three different codebases by now, namely SP, MP and Massive-MP (their Battle Royale). Before Warzone came along, it was mostly two code-bases (one entry did split the Zombie-one into a third codebase but Treyarchs BlackOps3 reconciled this again). Each such codebase comes with completey different notions of, for example, how to manage level geometry and graphics memory, and how to run and sync the "central loop" at the heart of each game, which includes things like physics, AI and other simulations.
There is still plenty of code that you can share between bases, like handling user-input, AI-decision making or scripting/level-related logic. However, the super-complex parts of the game's code will have to be tailored to the mode at hand 😕. SC and SQ42 are no exception here, because they require these optimizations to run acceptably at all, in contrast to e.g. a "Company of Heroes", which can just put a SP-Mode on top of itself.

So, in short, while you certainly have a lighter workload in many than if you would develop two separate games, you still have a much higher one than just developing one. SC and SQ42 benefit each other, yes, but they also harm each other. BUT, alas, that is not actually my point.

I was talking about the following:

If you look how SC works as a project, how it is financed, you must come to the conclusion that it is what they call a service game nowadays. You already hint that this yourself:
As for the purpose of projects like The Reunion and its impact on SQ42. (...) Perhaps it was intended as a marketing tool to create interest among people unfamiliar with the game. Such videos usually coincide with big events like free fly's or sales. I don't believe it's intended to become a regular series. Either way, I'm sure there was a purpose to it.
To finance their contined development, they need to continually generate revenue. This means features, content and events. ALL OF WHICH IS FINE and the way this works, nothing evil about it. To use a metaphor, SC is like an gasoline engine, to keep running, you need to put in fuel all the time. SQ42 on the other hand is an "old-style project", that means you invest, invest, invest, and you release it. When prepared correctly your chances of success can even be predicated quite well. Anyway, basically it is a big payday first and then hopefully some smaller ones over the course of the next months and even years. There is nothing problematic with that either.

Minor side note: (Younger) people talk a lot about a game "dying" today and nothing is more wrong, from both a business and a design perspective. Unless it is some form of MMO or mostly-online-game, these things continue to sell long after social media posts have stopped and Streams have ended. There is nothing wrong with releasing a complete product, not expanding it does not mean abandoning something.

Anyway, Cloud Imperium Game's problem is that they are attempting to do both a classic game and a live game at the same time, using the same teams (effectively, it is the same company). From a project management perspective, this requires incredible discipline. Why? Because to most internal decision makers, like product owners and leadership personal, the needs of the service game will always feel more "pressing". Psychological speaking, the service-one "screams louder" all the time and what you invest there has a much more immediate effect and tangible reaction.
CIG is very open about many of the things it does, which I really like and which got them into more PR trouble than they ever expected 😂. I do think that it pays off in the long-term, a fact easily proven by the amount of press and social buzz their stuff generates. But the one thing where they have been doing a really bad job is SQ42 progress communication 😒, always being very coy.

This lack of communication has nothing to do with spoilers or not being able to show of progress. I think they are really struggling internally to find a good balance between service and non-service game, as the needs of the former outweigh the one of the later. Personally speaking, I would certainly struggle with that. In fact, I believe I would fail pretty hard to manage this stuff at all, as it is oh-so impossible to decline the fact the the SC-stuff is working on so many levels, including the financial one.
Considering the impressive work they have been showing us until 2020 (which was a weaker year overall), I do think the majority of resources and people are investing their time in the SC-stuff. There is simply little reason to work on SQ42.

TLDR; It is a good time to be a Star Citizen fan. If you backed for the WC-style single player campaign, like me, you are out of luck.
 
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ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Not sure I understand the incompatibility angle, tbh. These are two different games, yes, but they share a common codebase, which means improvements made to the one carries over to the other. Star Citizen is actually a fantastic testbed for SQ42. If dogfighting or FPS combat isn't functioning properly in SC, it won't be fun in SQ42 either, so you can tweak features using player feedback from SC to make SQ42 better. I feel the new roadmap does a decent job of explaining what the various feature teams are busy with, and you can clearly see where a deliverable applies to both games.

I think it's pretty straightforward: on one side, you have an open ended universe that's trying to add anything and everything that people can imagine. On the other side, you have a tight focused storyline campaign that is built around space dogfighting. Nobody's questioning whether they're busy or not, but that's the problem. It doesn't take ten years to make an excellent space sim... unless you keep subjecting yourself to unlimited scope creep. If you have to perfect your FPS combat, head-tracking and persistent universe server logistics to get your "code base" up to the point where you can start working on the single player game, then you'll needlessly quadruple the development time needed for what you set out to do in the first place. Unless that's no longer really your goal, hence completion of Squadron 42 being incompatible with ongoing development of Star Citizen.

And some people like yourself may prefer Star Citizen as the ultimate deliverable and are therefore just fine with S42 taking 10 or 15 years if needed. But you have to understand that that's not at all what was originally presented, and not what many people would want anyway, so there are thousands of people understandably frustrated that the spiritual successor to Wing Commander they were told to expect in 2014-2016 now has no release date at all.
 

Whiplash

Commodore
Fair points all round. I'm not really in a position to argue one way or the other. Time will tell whether this project will deliver or whether the naysayers get to say "Told you so". I prefer to stay on the optimitic side. I can wait for Squadron until CR is happy with it. In the meantime, SC is plenty fun enough to keep me engaged.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Time will tell whether this project will deliver or whether the naysayers get to say "Told you so".

Yeah, don't get me wrong. Nobody at the CIC is rooting for CR to fail. Most of us are a significant four digit dollar amount invested, so we very much want him to succeed. Obviously a lot has changed changed since we flew down to Texas in 2012 to watch CR unveil the thing, but at that time the "Wing Commander style campaign" was said to be about 18 months away. Standing here in the year 2021, it would be nice to think we are closer now than we were during the first Obama administration. :)

rsi_announcement9.jpg
 

Deathsnake

Rear Admiral
Yea. But now after the new Letter, the Roadmap and Chris about Cyberpunk Release Disaster - not until Mid/End 2022. The Sq42 Chapter Team takes until Jan 2022 for the Chapter 27. And not sure if they hit + Beta + Release...
End 2022 is now my guess.
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
(...) Unless that's no longer really your goal, hence completion of Squadron 42 being incompatible with ongoing development of Star Citizen.
A good summary of my own lengthy post up there. See it for additional details about the why.
End 2022 is now my guess.
I have made two educated guesses over the past few years and both were wrong. This is when I started looking to these roadmaps and the project's internals and what I found was described in detail by others and myself here.

The thing is that Cloud Imperium Games will eventually face the issue of getting out-of-date. Even the game's visuals look way less impressive nowadays than half a decade ago and that is an actual danger. Similar issues regarding their tech. There IS a shelf-life period of video games and one might indeed just "take too long".

Yeah, don't get me wrong. Nobody at the CIC is rooting for CR to fail. Most of us are a significant four digit dollar amount invested, so we very much want him to succeed.
While I only have a 40$ pledge, I still agree to this statement of course. I do want the BSSE, best space sim ever, as the community was calling it.

Problem is, I do not even remember what exactly I backed and that is part of the problem 😒. It has been too long now and their progress becomes less and less impressive. SC in particular seems to be growing wider and wider, instead of growing deeper (game depth vs breadth), especially considering the number of vessels. I mean, they are investing in generating gigantic planets with caves and stuff... they are so deep in their details that the broad strokes feel utterly unrealized.


The big two space games of my youth were Wing Commander and Escape Velocity. It speaks volumes that I can get more excited aout this than SC nowadays. A few years back, I watched all the CitizenCon shows live because they were showing impressive, dream-y things. This wow-factor has been lost and the competition is readying themselves, like Elite and Starfield. This project will have to get a move on at some point and I fear SQ42 will be left behind.
 
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