In mid-July, just one month ago, the crowdfunding campaign for Star Citizen hit $48 million, continuing to set records, and the developers at Cloud Imperium Games Corporation revealed stretch goals for the next two million dollar tiers. Both of those have been hit (plus another million since we're now past $51 million) thanks to a big presence creator Chris Roberts (Wing Commander) brought to Gamescom 2014 last week, the annual trade show in Cologne, Germany.
It happened so fast that the website doesn't even show the current crowdfunding goals for the last two million dollar tiers hit and Roberts has yet to publish another 'Letter from the Chairman' entry (he's two behind!) which updates the community on what the extra funds mean and what they plan to do next.
The big highlight out of all the recent Star Citizen news and media releases surrounds the Constellation, one of the multi-person starships that's currently on sale (with a limited number of the most expensive variant available). It got a sleek new trailer, a video detailing different variants (see the four options here), and a cool video highlighting co-op gameplay where multiple players occupy different stations on the ship. See below for a sample of what Star Citizen is aiming to deliver, the first of its kind.
Below are some screenshots of the different Constellation variants, one of the rovers some of them include. There's even a little starfighter that comes with the Constellation.
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And the biggest reveal and most exciting thing to come from Star Citizen's Gamescom presence and livestream was the reveal of multi-crew gameplay. There's no official high-res version yet, but the followling low-res clip was pulled from the stream. This is what it will look like when a larger ship with three-four players battles a swarm of fighters. Think Millenium Falcon vs. Tie Fighters in Star Wars: A New Hope with Luke Skywalker and Han Solo manning the turrets.
The four variants range from $150 to $350 in price and for those wondering why the game is still charging extreme prices for a single digital ship in a single game, when the crowdfunding is already more than 2.5x the original budget, here's a section of a post by post by Chris Roberts a few weeks ago when they hit one of the recent million dollar tiers.
We’ve had a lot of questions about why we still need to continue crowd funding. The answer is that that money is letting Star Citizen tackle longer term features and content sooner than we normally would. To sustain this level of development, we need to keep bringing in additional funds. Star Citizen is still much less than the other published backed AAA games that have similar levels of ambition (some would even say a little less :-) ) like GTA V, Watch Dogs or Destiny.
We know that Star Citizen is an incredibly ambitious project, after all its basically several high fidelity AAA games all rolled into one; a MMO Space Sim, a First Person Shooter, a rich Single Player story and a fully-fledged Trading and Economy game. I’m pretty sure this level of ambition is why the majority of you backed. If I had pitched Star Citizen to a typical publisher, told them I wanted all these features and wanted to make it just for a PC I would have been laughed out of the room. (Of course, you all showed publishers that a AAA space sim for the PC is no laughing matter!)
Our plan is to scale the team based on the crowd funding, with the goal to be able to double down on development wherever it’s possible to do so. If we need more artists to produce additional ships, we’d like to be able to hire them. Or if we need more engineers to get a head start on some longer term technical issue before it blocks other parts of development, we want that option! It’s the new players hearing about Star Citizen and Arena Commander for the first time and jumping in as well as sales like the M50 that enable us to continue to chase our shared dream of the BDSSEto the highest fidelity. So thank you for your support.
But that's not all. There were a few MORE trailers to come out during Gamescom as well, including the unveil of racing, and below that, videos comparing the in-game hangars from last year until this year.
The Murray cup trailer teases in-game racing, something that was hinted at in the descriptions for some of the available Star Citizen starships. As part of the game's EVE Online-esque community-driven lore, a player will conceivably be the winner for the year and win some in-game currency or sponsorship. Racing is coming in the next update, version 0.9.
Now for the other big tease: first-person gameplay. Star Citizen aims to be more than a space sim. We've already touched on the other things you can do with ships, and even the other ships you can have. You can share a ship with other players in additional to having small, personal fighters and transports. You can explore, pirate, join the military and so much more in the larger persistent universe of Star Citizen but you can also board larger ships, space stations and land on planets where you can walk around on foot, explore and engage in first-person shooter combat. Here's the first teaser of FPS play in Star Citizen:
The official Star Citizen website Roberts Space Industries added a project status section to show the backers, the community and media where they are in development in vague terms. The hangar and a pair of Arena Commander modes for example, are the only 'complete' sections at the moment mid-way through Q3 2014 so if the game is expected to launch in full sometime next year, we can only hope the dev studios involved are deep into 'production' on the FPS and planetside content because it looks like they're not even working on the persistent universe until that's mostly set. It's a massive, ambitious game doing things that have never been done, so it could be a while. Hence, the overwhelming financial support.
Part of the funding for Star Citizen comes from backers paying a monthly subscription fee to let Roberts and the teams deliver community-focused content and videos. One of those is the '10 for the chairman' weekly show where Chris Roberts answers questions from backers and gets real honest about his ideas and the plans for Star Citizen. While answering questions about the long-term plans for the game and how they can make it friendly for newcomers who want to try it out but don't want to make a hefty investment, one way they're considering is letting them be a player for hire which lets them use someone else's ship (they'll also allow players to rent out ships or lend them to other players) to do stuff and if they enjoy the game and want to migrate over to ship ownership, they can then buy one of the Star Citizen packages that comes with a ship and the core game (with the Squadron 42 single player/co-op campaign).
Roberts also teased capital ship combat and how different massive vessels can play in different ways. A carrier for instance, will keep its distance and launch fighters and bombers (all controlled by players) from long-range, whereas a battleship will want to get in close. The co-op Constellation video up top is just the first hint of what players will be able to do in even larger ships.
As for how many players can be in the same server instance in particular battle, Roberts is hoping for 50-100. There can be thousands in a star system, but players will be stacked in different instances. It's not truly one persistent universe like EVE Online because of the amount of data required to make that work. The game will have DLC for things like mission packs and while it won't have a monthly subscription fee to play, it will be chock full of microtransactions, including buying in-game currency with real-life money.
Update: The full Star Citizen Gamescom panel video has been officially released online
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.