Space sims are coming back in a big way and we couldn’t be more excited. The industry is embracing the retro renaissance with classic genre titles from the ’90s making their return to the spotlight. Double Fine has their point-and-click adventure Broken Age in development, mech sims returned with the free-to-play MechWarrior Online, old school shooters like Rise of the Triad are making a big return, and Chris Roberts – the man behind space sim franchises like Wing Commander – is aiming to bring gamers back the stars with Star Citizen.
Star Citizen opened up its crowdsourcing avenue late last year, after Roberts and his team had already spent a year developing it and had already found investors. The goal was to bring fans into the fold to prove just how much demand there is for a done-right triple-A space sim and now, the fans are taking over.
Star Citizen is a spiritual successor to games including Wing Commander, Starlancer and Freelancer with the key difference that this time around, there are no publishers involved and Roberts aims to build it the way he always envisioned Freelancer could be. Larger ships can house multiple players who can walk around and man turrets or take up a seat on the bridge or in the cockpit. Ships can land on stations and players can walk around. The game can be played on private servers with mods or the main servers.
The game takes place a thousand years into the future where the Earth empire is losing its grasp. There are aliens, wars, trade routes, etc. and it all exists within a highly detailed and realized universe. Players aim to earn their citizenship – if they desire it – and can do so by completing the Squadron 42 story campaign. It’s not necessary however, and players don’t even need to buy Squadron 42 if they don’t want it, but it’s there for fans.
Star Citizen began looking for crowd funding through its official site but thanks to fan demand it also launched a Kickstarter. It quickly and easily met its goals, bringing in $2.1 million from Kickstarter in addition to more than $4 million on its own site alone. But it didn’t end there. Players could purchase additional ships, larger pledge options, etc. and since its strong start, Cloud Imperium Games Corporation has raked in several million more dollars in support, hitting a major milestone a few days ago. Specifically, it hit this stretch goal:
- If we can make it to $9 million in total pledges before the new site launches, we’ll go ahead and put a cool Roberts Space Industries Class II space suit in your closet, colored to match the new site! What’s more, every current pledger will get Lifetime Insurance! This will be your last opportunity to get LTI before the game launches.
Thanks to the media attention and buzz generated by the $9 million milestone, Star Citizen has raked in another $145 thousand and is on its way to hitting $10 million before the end of May.
- Our big goal before the website is $10 million. That’s a crazy amount of money, but we have a plan for it: $10 million would allow Cloud Imperium to build our own mocap studio rather than hiring out time from someone else. Renting mocap equipment and studio time is expensive: upwards of $35,000 a day, with four hours work for each 30-second segment. Having our own studio would cost more right now but will allow us to produce a lot more content for Star Citizen in the long run! We’ll provide more details very soon, but here’s one thought right now: it would even allow us to mocap a few lucky fans into the finished game!
According to a message from the man in charge, Chris Roberts, Star Citizen will cost $20 million to make and their goal is to minimize their need for outside investors and get the game funded by gamers.
Since unveiling the Aurora space craft – the basic ship most players will start with – many players purchased and upgraded over the weekend, helping the crowdfunding cross the $9 million mark listed above. Interested players and sci-fi fans can read the brochure (.PDF) which details the one-person ship’s construction, specs, etc., along with plenty of pretty images. To keep the ball rolling, Cloud Imperium Games Corporation has setup a sale for the Aurora ship this week that continues until Saturday, May 4th (click here to check out the pledge packages).
For fans of space sims, be sure to also check out what some of the EVE Online devs created with the help of the Oculus Rift VR hardware.
Update: while writing this article Star Citizen earned another $5000.
Star Citizen hits PC in November 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.