In a move that illustrates commitment to fans and a genius understanding of viral marketing, the developers of Star Citizen decided to let players who backed the crowd-funded space sim game get an early look into the future by allowing them to view and board their purchased starships. The ambitious space sim in development at Cloud Imperium Games Corporation aims to not only usher in the return of mainstream space sims, but promises to do so with a triple-A, PC-only offering that'll blow people's minds.
And so far, gamers are in full support of the idea. The mastermind behind the game, Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts, took to crowd-funding on his own site to prove to investors that there's still interest in PC space sims and the demand led to a successful Kickstarter. Since then, it's been nothing but money rolling in and record-breaking financing.
From the outset, Roberts and co. explained that the game would cost approximately $20 million or more, and at each milestone of additional crowdfunding more and more reward tiers have been unlocked, fundamentally growing the game and the content it'll offer. At $10 million, half of the game's expected budget was covered by eager players with investors already lined up to cover the rest. That number allowed the devs to build their own motion-capture studio. But the support didn't stop there.
Star Citizen quickly earned the label of becoming the most successful crowd-funded project ever. Then it hit $14 million and got a new website. Then it hit $16 million as the team prepared to launch the hangar module this week which would allow backers to view and board their ship(s) to see what they look like from the inside. It's the start of something amazing and unprecedented, and all of it happening well over a year before the game's targeted release date of November 2014.
The Hangar Module as it stands is just the beginning. It's the bare bones of a feature that'll be fleshed out as much more content is added. Eventually, players will be able to showcase their collections of clothing, weapons, items, different variants of ships, etc. and do so with other players. Thanks to the $16 million stretch goal being hit the other week, later this year the Arena/Dogfighting Module will release, letting players actually try out space combat gameplay, pitting their own starships against other players in online PvP - again, a full year before the main game's release next November.
Arena Mode: The next generation of Wing Commander’s TrainSim allows pilots to test out their combat skills against friends or strangers in a simulation. Gain valuable combat experience without the downside of losing your ship in the game universe! Place bets on competitions across the galaxy.
The buzz surrounding the Hangar Module's release on Thursday resulted in a significant boost in crowd-funding and today, September 1, 2013, Star Citizen broke the $17 million barrier (less than a week after hitting $16 million), unlocking the following reward:
The $17 million mark unlocks a special ship upgrade pack for every pledger who has donated prior to this point. An engine modifier will be added to your account shortly and in the near future you should be able to see it in your hangar! You also unlocked an additional flyable ship class in the finished game: the massive battlecruiser!
One of the seven ships currently available to purchase is a larger crew-based vessel called the RSI Constellation and it features a gun turret and a little hangar that hosts a small snub fighter for defense. What that means is that multiplayer players can share it and walk around on it at the same time. With larger playable ships being added to the game - the Cruiser class at $4.5 million, a carrier at $5.5 million, Frigates at $13 million, escort carriers at $15 million, and now Battlecruisers unlocked at $17 million - we wonder just how many players can share and operate a vessel and how ownership will work (clan-based or shared?).
Either way, the more ships and features we hear about, the close and close Star Citizen becomes closer the the in-depth space sim we've always wanted.
See the stretch goals here.
Star Citizen will launch in full November 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.