With the Star Citizen Kickstarter more than doubling its goal, Chris Roberts’ return to video game development is off to an impressive and exciting start. His goal of returning the space sim genre back to its ’90s glory is an ambitious one, matched only by what he and the the team at Cloud Imperium Games Corporation are attempting to do with game and its next-gen visuals.

Star Citizen isn’t expected to release until November 2014 but the very first gameplay footage is already available for viewing thanks to the positive reception of the plan for the title.

Their goal was to raise $2 million in total to showcase to investors that there is a fanbase waiting for a next-gen game along the lines of Freelancer. At the beginning, Roberts had crowd funding setup through their own site but due to popular demand, opened up a Kickstarter page with the goal of raising $500,000 their as well. With six days left, at the time of this writing, the Star Citizen Kickstarter sits at neatly $1.2 million and when added to their own site’s success, RSI has accumulated over $3.4 million from eager fans. It’s therefore rather safe to say that the dev team (and investors) are happy. See the update and the updated goal in the video up top.

Star Citizen Screenshot star fighter graphics

They’re so happy in fact, that they’re sharing in-game footage… two years before the game is even out. So you understand what we’re seeing and what Roberts is attempting to highlight, here’s his message accompanying the video:

This video isn’t as polished as I would normally put out so please be nice as we’re 24 months away from anything that would be called final, and even 12 months away from just a multiplayer alpha dogfighting build. The laser effects, explosions are all placeholders and there will be significant work done here, as well as some very cool shield effects I have cooking up in the background. My goal with the visual effects is to use a lot the techniques and looks used in film work, which are now possible with DX11 and modern day PCs.

But the point of the video isn’t to show the VFX or damage systems, which still have a ways to go but to demo some of the early AI work that’s been happening in the background.

The Squadron 42 / Star Citizen pilot AI will be the most sophisticated AI that I’ve attempted on any of my games. My goal is to take the ideas that I pioneered with Wing Commander and later games; distinct personalities, dynamic learning, signature moves to next level with the power of modern CPUs.

We’re a long way off from the final article, but as you can see from the video AI can already fly in formation, respond to commands and engage in combat. All the dogfighting you see in this video is AI driven!

On a technical side this footage was captured with FRAPS via a debug camera on a PC with an AMD Phenom 1090T processor, 8GB and an NVIDIA GTX470.

As things progress we’ll have much nicer implementation of third a person chase and orbit cameras to show of the action better. In an ordinary game’s development cycle, this would be something we would share internally or with the publisher… but we’re showing our backers instead, since you’re the ones making Star Citizen happen!

As we watch this, pleasant memories of Wing Commander and Freelancer swoop by. The visuals, inside the cockpit and outside in the third-person flying mode are impressive and we can’t wait to see how the sim shapes up with another two years of development.

For those who don’t know, Star Citizen is a highly detailed open universe with dynamic and procedural physics where players can choose to be whoever they wish (smuggler, pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, or soldier) and do whatever they want as they aim to earn their citizenship (should they want that). The game also includes an optional campaign however, dubbed Squadron 42, as one of the ways players can make their mark:

The project also includes Squadron 42, a single player campaign that takes place within the Star Citizen universe.  Able to be played off-line or with friends, you essentially sign up to fly for the UEE fleet, manning the front lines, protecting settlements from Vanduul warbands.  If you prove yourself, you might get asked to join the legendary 42nd Squadron.  Set up like the French Foreign Legion, they can always be found in the toughest war zones and always manage to come out on top. Once you complete your tour however, you re-enter the persistent Star Citizen universe with some money in your pocket and Citizenship to find your way.

But it’s not all about the starfighters (it can be if you want it to be) as players can play in first-person as they walk the hall of larger ships, jumping on gun turrets when attacked. Oh, and did we mention that players will be able to run their own modded servers?

Stay tuned for more Star Citizen information as it rolls out.

Star Citizen hits PC in November 2014.

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Source: Star Citizen Kickstarter, Roberts Space Industries