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Star Citizen Arena Commander Delayed Again in Face of Bugs

Posted on May 29, 2014

Just a few hours after publishing a quick warning that the dog-fighting "Arena Commander" module would be available today, the team at Roberts Space Industries have delayed v0.8 alpha once again.


The delay comes in the face of two high-severity, game-breaking issues. In a statement, Chris Roberts justified the delay by pointing-out the lack of publisher pressure:

"It would be foolish to release an unstable build, even if pre-alpha for the sake of meeting an internal deadline. This is the power of the crowdfunding that made Star Citizen possible: a publisher would make us ship tomorrow regardless of the current build quality… but as you are all focused on quality rather than a financial return for shareholders we are able to take a few more days to deliver something that is stable."

The CEO & Chairman further acknowledged disappointment, saying:

"I know that’s not the news you wanted to hear tonight. No-one would like to see the community get their hands on Arena Commander more than I would. In order to keep our backers as informed as possible, I’m asking the production team to provide DAILY updates for the community until Arena Commander V0.8 ships. This will be the raw stuff: lists of bugs and other information to tell you the current health of the build. You will see the same information I do."

This is one of several delays in Star Citizen's timeline. During the initial Kickstarter, alpha was promised within a year of meeting the (initial) $2,000,000 funding objective. Our own interviews with Chris Roberts reported that the dog-fighting module could be expected by December, 2013, just shortly after the Hangar module's initial 4Q13 launch. The DFM was then pushed back to 2014, eventually to April 10th at the buggy unveil event. It was at this event that Chris Roberts informed us that the now-rebranded "Arena Commander" module would be available shortly after PAX, with an internal deadline of "before June." Eventually, the date was advertised as May 29 -- today -- and this was kept as an internal deadline of sorts. That date has now been pushed back indefinitely in the face of these primary issues:

"Blockers" - Bugs preventing launch:

  • Vanduul Swarm – Display drivers can crash when Vanduul spawn or blow up (blocks singleplayer).
  • Lag in feedback and update of essential game events resulting in increasingly divergent multiplayer sync.

Alongside the "blockers," Roberts also notified us of slightly lower-sev "Critical" issues:

  • Battle Royale (Crash) – While Flying (Shader)
  • Camera – After respawn character is stuck looking up
  • Vanduul Swarm (Crash) – Shortly after missile lock
  • All Maps – Occasionally, when first spawning into the maps lasers and ballistic fire is invisible but can be heard when firing – they eventually appear
  • Crash on exit after returning from DFM match
  • Character is unable to exit DFM Aurora bed if helmet is on
  • Gforce animations are not playing on the pilot in any of the ships
  • Character and parts of cockpit interior vanish while accelerating

To be fair, though, a few of these do just sound funny.

And so it's been a tough start for the ambitious title. As for whether or not this delay was a good idea, I'm really not sure. It'd leave a pretty poor impression for a lot of players if the game experienced game-breaking defects that prevented play; unfortunately, I think a lot of the alpha 'testers' would not necessarily understand that this is a true alpha. Taking that perspective gives a more defensible position for the CIG team, since they'd rather make a good, at least somewhat functional first impression. Still, setting two or three public deadlines and then failing to meet them brings CIG's ability to meet future deadlines into question.

Perhaps the best approach would be to borrow from Blizzard's playbook: "It'll be done when it's done."

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.