compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels Tomasius Space

Ex dubium scientia. From doubt [comes] knowledge.

Star Citizen

Port-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set between the words STAR and CITIZEN

Star Systems
In-system view of a O-Type Main Sequence Star

Space Trials
Shuttle Class space ship

Cutter Class space ship

ASW Frigate Class space ship

Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Heavy Ordinance Endurance Cutter Class space ship

Life in Overlap

Technical Requirements
Starboard-lit, metallic, Star Citizen Logo comprising a single cruciform star encapsulated by a wreath and set betewen the words STAR and CITIZEN

Due Diligence

What is an RPG?
It all began with pen and paper

Gaming Concepts
USB Iconography

Gaming Psychology
Neural network node showing connective reinforcement

Star Citizen: Pre-Backing Due Diligence


The Short answer is....
I couldn't recommend a major project more in terms of viability and worthiness of backing. This doesn't change the fact that backing any project is a dicey business with even traditionally "safe" projects sometimes foundering. However, not only is this project making objective progress, to a quantifiable standard of quality and with stable, ongoing fincancial support; this project offers something completely new: a bricolage of many games immersed in the perspective of first-person role play with a level of integration which is unprecedented in game development history. This is THE apex game which many of us in the pen and paper RPG world were predicting back in the early 1980s. Already, a big chunk of it is here and it is only a matter of time before the rest of this widely shared vision has been delivered. What follows is a deeper analysis of the project viability intended for those who may be considering backing this game for more than what they might normally spend on video games in one sitting.

compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels

The Somewhat Longer Answer begins something like this....
First and foremost, it is important to understand that this is not a financial investment. There are no financial dividends, no financial kickbacks and no financial "Return on Investment". In many respects, this is, instead, a form of expenditure; pledging for a purely practical but non-financial return with no financial asset value. So it is very much the case that backing a crowd-funded development project is different from investing in shares due to the fact that backers are looking for something practical and more specific than a meagre RoI; What backers are paying for is, in fact, threefold;

  1. The development of new technology or new technical integration which is currently unavailable from safer sources
  2. A voice in how key features and specifications are implemented
  3. Access to the product of this new technical integration or technology once completed

It cannot be reiterated enough that the key difference between a backer and a shareholder is purposive:

This is important because the all too popular assumption that backers and shareholders are the same underpins the misconception that the interests of backers and shareholders are the same. The interests of backers and shareholders are poles apart - one is looking for somewhere "safe" to save money while the other is looking for somethng practical on which to spend money. This important, if somewhat subtle, distinction is key to understanding what one, as a prospective backer, needs to examine when assessing the viability of a project.

When considering whether or not to back a project, there are a number of key issues to be explored. In short, a prospective backer will want to find answers to the following questions in the course of assessing a project.

  1. What are the major project objectives?
    1. Do the major project objectives lead to a product which is necessary or desireable?
    2. Do the major project objectives lead to a product which is currently not available?
    3. Are there major implicit objectives (without which some explicit objectives would not be possible)?
    4. Does project management account for the implicit objectives?
    5. Are project management and support sufficiently flexible to allow for unanticipated implicit objectives?
  2. Is steady and consistent progress being made on the project?
    1. Are project objectives being completed?
    2. What project objectives have been completed?
    3. What avenues of independent project auditing are available?
    4. Does independent examination of project output, to date, corroborate the reported progress?
  3. Does the design aspect of the project have a functioning quality system in place?
    1. How are feature design flaws identified with each new feature completed?
    2. How are backers able to contribute to the quality assurance process (other than funding)?
    3. What proportion of design flaws are remedied within each 12.5% fraction of your timeline estimate?
  4. Is support for the project sufficently robust to see it through to completion?
    1. Are backers having to share influence on project direction with shareholders?
    2. Is there sufficient financial history to identify consistent funding cycles?
    3. Is the running average, sampled across four complete funding cycles, constant?
    4. Is funding predominantly tied to community growth
    5. Is the bulk of the funding provided by a majority proportion of backers?

These are the the only questions with any real bearing on whether the project will deliver and, so, these are the questions we will explore in this article with reference to detailed analysis of primary source material and directly verifiable evidence.

Star Citizen Project Objectives

Star Citizen specifies both a single-player game and an MMO based on the same in-game universe where the player can choose to take missions or, otherwise, direct their own gameplay (sandboxing) much as in any decent RPG. The biggest difference is that this is set in an enormous worldspace, projected to span upwards of 5 billion square kilometers of high definition planetary and lunar surface area in set in 3.375x1026 cubic kilometers or 337.5 trillion trillion cubic kilomters - give or take a trillion trillion cubic kilometers! Within this enormous worldspace, gameplay is to integrate first person on-foot, first person zero-G, first person riding, first person driving, and first person flight (both in space and atmosphere). This integration has already been taken to the point of allowing a player to get up out of the pilot's seat, during flight, walk the decks of his or her ship and perform other on-board tasks while the ship is in motion. This very fundamental integration mechanic is at the heart of what I signed up for as I've been able to find this in no other game to-date (although Bethesda Softworks have been making noises about doing something like this for donkey's years and have even experimented on something which looks similar to nested physics grids in their Gamebryo-based Creation Engine). Moreover, once you get past some understandably vague synopses of the initial project vision, this comprehensively integrated and consistently scalable interactability, with the in-game worldspace, emerges as the core technical theme of the detailed proposal outlined in the original Kickstarter announcement in late 2012.

For an overview of the major project objectives of Star Citizen, we must turn to the Stretch Goals. Although initially assumed to be a quick, easy space game, it became clear that the backers wanted more and, so, the Stretch Goals were set as extensions of the original project proposal. Backers voted for these goals with their money; pumping us$50 million into the project over the course of the two year period from September 2012 to September 2014. This funding campaign spanned the initial two year timeline; initially proposed for the project. However, with the more demanding specification being opted for by the backers, the project now faced a much longer timeline - around 15 years according to my own estimates. What follows is a list of Stretch Goals with those that have been implemented, to date, checked.

Regular community updates.
Citizens with appropriate packages will get to play in the multiplayer dogfighting module.
Citizens with appropriate packages will receive access to the 30-mission Squadron 42 campaign upon release.
Star Citizen will feature an additional flyable ship, the Anvil Gladiator.
Increased community updates at the RSI website.
Squadron 42 will feature 35 missions.
Star Citizen will feature an additional flyable ship, the MISC Starfarer.
Cockpit decorations.
Ship boarding
Star Citizen will feature an additional flyable ship, the Aegis Dynamics Retaliator.
Odin System
Tyrol System
Kellog System
Goss System
Orion System
Ellis System
Cathcart System
Tal System
Geddon System
Chronos System
The RSI website will feature a monthly “Wingman’s Hangar” webcast from the development team.
Professional mod tools will be provided free to all players.
Squadron 42 will feature a richer storyline and 45 total missions.
Star Citizen will feature an additional flyable ship, the Drake Interplanetary Cutlass.
Star Citizen will feature an additional playable ship class, the cruiser.
All backers before October 29, 2012 will start Star Citizen with a Class I Repair Bot in their garage.
All backers before November 8, 2012 will start Star Citizen with 500 additional credits.
Idris class corvette "Frigate" [but seems to be evolving into more of a cruiser role]
Origin M50
Drake Interplanetary Caterpillar
Flight Chairs support
multiple monitors support,
Track-IR support [also full Tobii EyeTracker support has been added]
MFD (Multi Function Displays) support.
Star Citizen will feature Vanduul trading posts
Star Citizen will feature hidden smuggler asteroids.
Star Citizen will feature an additional alien race, the Kr’Thak.
Star Citizen will feature melee combat
Star Citizen will feature heavy weapons
Star Citizen will feature zero gravity simulation
Star Citizen will feature suit HUD options
Star Citizen will feature EVA combat
Star Citizen will feature Increased ship customization.
Tablet companion application to check on your inventory, commission or find missions and get the galactic news feed.
The RSI webcast will feature a monthly Town Hall Q&A with Chris Roberts
Squadron 42 will feature celebrity voice-acting including at least one favorite from Wing Commander and 50 total missions.
Star Citizen will feature an additional base type. Can you discover the alien derelict?
Professional motion capture for the Squadron 42 cutscenes.
Exclusive RECORD BREAKER ship skin and 1000 additional credits on launch for all backers who pledge before the $5.5 million stretch goal.
Star Citizen will launch with 100 star systems.
The Bengal carrier will be unlocked for persistent universe play.
Star Citizen and Squadron 42 will feature a full orchestral score.
The first Squadron 42 mission disk, Behind Enemy Lines, will be available for free to all backers who pledge before $6 million upon release.
All backers who pledge before June 28, 2013 will receive a Roberts Space Industries Class II space suit in their hangar.
Cloud Imperium Games will build their own mocap studio to improve the quality of Star Citizen and Squadron 42’s cutscenes.
Move Wingman out of the basement! Move CIG Austin to a larger facility that will support expanded development.
Build professional sound studios.
The Hangar Module will feature Oculus Rift support.
Star Citizen will feature an additional ship class, the frigate.
Command and Control Center
Hibernation Mode: for the explorers out there, we will add the ability to save and resume while you are out in space. When not in combat, power your ship down, hit the bunk, and exit the game safely until you can resume your journey.
......Professional-quality feature-length “Behind the Scenes of Star Citizen” documentary film.
Star Citizen will feature a fourth landout option on Earth! Where will it be? London? Berlin?
Star Citizen will feature an additional ship class, the escort carrier.
Every backer will get a free digital 42-page Upgrade Handbook manual with their game which goes through the process of customizing and overclocking ship systems!
Arena mode: The next generation of Wing Commander’s TrainSim [Arena Commander]
Every pledger who backs before $16 million will receive a laser pistol. Keep your ship safe from boarders with a pistol by your side.
Every pledger who backs before $17 million will receive a ship upgrade package containing an engine modifier.
Star Citizen will feature an additional flyable ship class, the battlecruiser.
Exclusive star system for pre-launch backers [to start on if they choose - others can visit but only pre-launch backers can start there.]
Know your foe with a Jane’s Fighting Ships style manual free in PDF form to all pledgers.
Manage Space Stations – Players will compete to own and operate a limited number of space stations across the galaxy.
RSI Museum will air monthly, with a new game featured each time!
First person combat on select lawless planets. Don’t just battle on space stations and platforms… take the fight to the ground!
Salvage Mechanic: Salvage isn’t an aside: it’s a career, with its own mechanic, story tie-ins and universe-shaping endgames. Search the galaxy for a host of valuable and interesting secrets using both the flight and FPS components. Discover the secrets of the ancient Hadesians, locate valuable components and cargo… or go down in history the first to make contact an entirely new alien race!
Facial Capture System.
Xi’an Scout Unlocked! The Khartu is the light attack craft of the Xi’An military.
Public Transportation System – Need to get from one place to another but don’t have a starship? We’re building a galactic transportation system. You can travel via transport from system to system in Star Citizen and even ship items (like a ship you need moved to another hangar.) With this stretch goal, we’ll expand this system: star liners, long range transports, charter ships and flyable shuttles!
Enhanced Alpha – We will use additional funding to build a wider alpha test than we had originally intended for the first phase of Star
Citizen’s launch. The initial plan was to first launch servers in North America and then expand to areas such as Europe and Australia to decrease latency in these areas, perfecting the game as we improve the experience around the world.
Enhanced Capital Ship Systems – In addition to the command and control systems we’ve already outlined, we’re going to expand capital ship functions! Lead a damage control team to fight fires and repair key systems during battle, control internal bulkheads to slow boarders and man a number of consoles, like navigation and engineering, that will make commanding a capital ship feel even more immersive.
Banu Merchantman Unlocked
New Starter Ship – The team at Consolidated Outland has decided to take Roberts Space Industries head on in 2944 by premiering the Mustang personal spacecraft.
Enhanced Mission Design for Squadron 42 – The team at Foundry 42 has big plans for Squadron 42, and we’re going to provide extra funding to make it a true spiritual successor to Wing Commander!
Origin 890 JUMP – The rumors are true: Origin Jumpworks has a larger ship in the works! The Origin 890 JUMP is an interstellar super-yacht with exquisite styling and an array of high quality upgrade options.
RSI Orion – Roberts Space Industries’ goal has always been to make the stars available to individual Citizens. Now, with the RSI Orion mining platform, RSI is letting individuals take over a process formerly controlled by megacorporations.
Aegis Surveyor – The Surveyor, from noted military contractor Aegis, is an industrial-quality salvage ship. Equipped with a reinforced cargo bay, a long-range jump drive and launch pods for unmanned drones, the Surveyor is an ideal ship for taking advantage of deep space wrecks. Tractor beams, floodlights, scanner options and docking ports round out the tool chest on this capable, utilitarian spacecraft. [Now, the Reclaimer]
Anvil Carrack – The Anvil Carrack has been the vanguard of every UEE exploration effort in recent years.
MISC Hull C (Discreet) – Scaling from small “box trucks” to massive supertankers, the MISC range of cargo hulls (A-D) are the standard goods transporter in human space.
Drake Herald – Knowledge is power, and one of the most valuable commodities is pure information: the 1s and 0s behind everything from UEC ledgers to Citizenship ratings.
Tamsa System – Located near the fringe of Banu space, Tamsa System features a massive central star that has collapsed into a black hole.
Tanga System – At the heart of an unusual rectangular planetary nebula (see reference), lies Tanga System.
Cano System is home to a G-Type Main Sequence Star that’s almost identical to Earth’s.
UDS-2943-01-22 System – Breaking news: UEE astrophysicists based at the famed Klavs observatory station have utilized advanced telescopy and other remote sensing technologies to identify a truly unusual star system on the fringes of known space.
Kabal System – The discovery of a new system is always an exciting time.
Oretani System – Oretani was just one of many systems that were being discovered during the rapid Expansion era of the 25th century.
Procedural Generation R&D Team – This stretch goal will allocate funding for Cloud Imperium to develop procedural generation technology for future iterations of Star Citizen. Advanced procedural generation will be necessary for creating entire planets worth of exploration and development content. Updated Observist Guide – Additional funding from the $42 million level will go to expanding the website area of the Galactapedia: expect to see holographic ships, items and navigation interface in 3D! Imagine admiring your ships or planning your loadouts right here at the RSI website.
Explorer-class mobiGlas Rig – Every player who backs before we hit $42 million will start the game with their own, visually distinctive mobiGlas “ExoGlas” rig which can be used to access the Observist at any time.
Gladius – The Squadron 42 team will develop an additional fighter for the game, the Aegis Dynamics Gladius-class light fighter.
Towel – And of course, everyone who backs before we hit $42 million will also receive a towel for their hangar. Don’t explore the galaxy without it!
Omni Role Combat Armor (ORC) mk9 Manufacturer: CDS (Clark Defense Systems)
Stellar Cartography – Walk among the distant horizons you’ve charted in Star Citizen’s dedicated “map room” featuring a 3D holographic representation of the known universe.
Hadesian Artifact – The mystery of what happened in Hades has been one of the great archeological puzzles ever since the system was discovered in the early 26th Century.
Updated Scanning Software – Chimera Communications unveiled the latest version of their SBit scanning software, also announcing a one-time free upgrade for their current and long-standing customers.
Engine Tuning Kit – Wilkes & Federman MaxTune Kit has become one of the best-selling starter kits for the discerning home enthusiast.
  ? Retaliator Commercial – It was a close race but The Retaliator pulled ahead. The Avenger was a close second. The symbol of the United Empire of Earth’s power is the next ship to receive a slick commercial. Aegis Dynamics is in dire need of good publicity since the end of the of the Messer era. We currently have the Cutlass and the Constellation commercials in production and now the Retaliator will be added to that list.​
Xi’An Space Plant – Similar to a bonsai tree, the Centennial Bloom is a very famous Xi’An plant indigenous to Eealus III that blossoms for one night every one hundred years.
Alien Languages – Do you speak Banu? We will work with real-world linguists to create distinctive and realistic alien languages for Star Citizen’s three biggest alien races, the Vanduul, the Xi’An and the Banu. No universal translators, no garbled animal noises: Star Citizen’s aliens will be speaking their own authentic languages!
Web-based Known Universe Map – The platform web team priority will be shifted to making the Known Universe Map available.
The BB-12 is a brand new Manned Maneuvering Unit from Azure Sky Aero. Whether you are engaging in precision mining operations or delicate salvage retrieval, the BB-12 is capable of EVA operation for six uninterrupted hours.
INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR’S GUILD – Have you been wronged by your superiors? Has the member of your organization entrusted with watching the funds, been watching them go into their own pocket? Think you don’t have any recourse? You’re wrong.
More Detailed AI Activities – we’ll add ten distinct types of AI character roles on planetside environments! At $54 million, this includes Bartender, Doctor, Entertainer, Nurse, Sanitation Worker, Security Guard, Shopper, Tourist, Vagrant and Vandal.
Ballistic Gatling – Preacher Armament Inquisition XXII: Preacher’s Inquisition XXII is the weapon to turn to when you want complete target saturation.
J-Span Cryo-Star: Award-winning designers at J-Span have produced one of the most advanced cooling systems yet.
MISC Endeavor-class Research Platform
10,000 UEC – In honor of the goal, we’re giving 10,000 UEC to every backer that you can use for upgrades and flair in the Voyager Direct Store.
Anvil Aerospace Crucible – A so-called “flying toolbox,” the Crucible is the ship you want on your side when you suffer an asteroid collision or survive a pirate attack!
Aegis Vanguard-class Twin-Engine Deep Space Fighter – Strike hard from a distance!
Espera Prowler – Named after the UPE military designation, the Prowler is a modernized version of the infamous Tevarin boarding craft from the First Tevarin War.
Genesis-class Starliner – This ship utilizes award-winning manufacturing techniques and the highest quality parts to create one thing; a next-generation passenger ship at a price that won’t break your budget.
MISC Reliant – With the success of the Freelancer “Built for Life” campaign, MISC has moved to join RSI and Consolidated in the single-seat introductory starship arena.
Pets – We have repair bots, we have fish… but we haven’t implemented a traditional pet system in Star Citizen yet.
Enhanced Ship Modularity – So you have the ship of your dreams, but really wish that it could be customized to suit your needs a bit more than the off-the-shelf models?

These project obectives outline a game which backers have been funding to the tune of around 33 million US dollars per annum, on average - which is to say, in no uncertain terms, that the game concept is highly desired. There is very little to wonder about, when it comes to this, because no other game in history has delivered all of the types of features outlined. Even when it comes to the bare-bones basic mechanics of Star Citizen which revolve around the actual implementation of physics grid nesting within the game, Star Citizen stands alone.

The above video was shot back in 2016 during PU 2.5 before many of the current features had been implemented. The focus of the video is a tour taken of the Constellation Andromeda as she hurtled through space - something which can't be done in any other game. Even in Entropia Universe, where you will need to pay well in excess of us$10000 to obtain an Aniara Class Mothership for the purpose of this exercise, none of the ships are able to drift with the engines off but, instead, simply slow to a halt. So, inspite of much talk, I see even the most basic core physical concept, at the heart of the original kickstater proposal, as something quite novel and, in fact, this was what I originally backed for. This is to say that not only is the Star Citizen a highly desired concept, in practice, but it is also novel with no other market alternatives either now or, in any remotely credible way, on the horizon. This is, ultimately, what qualifies a project for crowd-funding.

This project has a plethora of implicit objectives, based on the major supplemental objectives outlined by the Stretch Goals. Where there is a mining ship, mining gameplay is required along with all the prerequisite mechanics. Where there is a cargo ship, cargo running gameplay is required with all the prerequisite mechanics. Where there is a star system with a prolific anti-ship mine problem (Hadrian) specified by the Lore team (as one of the 100 star systems not already named by the Stretch Goals), a ship capable of mine-sweeping and laying mines is required in addition to the corresponding gameplay and all of the prerequisite mechanics. Interestingly, the Nautilus was just recently released as a pledge; for this purpose. This goes to show that Star Citizen's project management does account for the implicit objectives and isn't simply pumping out a product full of holes. With some of the reprioritization that has taken place in order to allow dependencies to be produced before the dependent assets, it is also evident that the style of project management is flexible enough to allow for implicit objectives which have been unanticipated.

Star Citizen Progress

At first glance, at the list of major supplemental objectives taken, above, from the Stretch Goals, we can see the number checked as already implemented. In all cases, this state of implementation can be verified, either on the Roberts Space Industries site or in-game. Of the 124 major supplemental objectives, itemised on this list, there are a total of 53 which have been implemented. Allowing for the 100 systems, inclusive of the ones which were announced before, plus the additional systems announced later (for a total of 106 systems) the total should be closer to 198 - probably around 225 if we allow for some grouped items I neglected to split up. Either way, the progress is evident and quantifiable with a substantial range of mechanics currently functioning - see my gameplay videos.There are thousands of backer videos of Star Citizen gameplay and these provide some of the best evidence of progress to date by showing what can already be done-ingame, by the player.

The many gameplay videos, currently available to the public, courtesy of the backers, can be used to corroborate the more detailed progress outlined in the patch notes; which have been coming out with each update of the live test environment since its inception. These patch notes and a very brief rundown of the major features which come to mind are as follows:

PU 2.0 integrated first-person RPG mechanics with space flight, EVA and zero-gravity PvP.
PU 2.1 brought about improvements to make these features more accessible.
PU 2.2 introduced a much more diverse range of ships along with physicalised EVA
PU 2.3 introduced missions
PU 2.4 introduced persistence
PU 2.5 introduced Grim Hex.
PU 2.6 introduced procedural tech (denser Yela asteroid belt) and flight mode unification.

PU 3.0 introduced Levski, Crusader's moons and seamless transition from space to ground.
PU 3.1 introduced character customization
PU 3.2 introduced mining and some basic group/team mechanics such as quantum linking.
PU 3.3 introduced in-game ship purchasing (with aUEC earned in-game) and VOIP.
PU 3.3.5 introduced Planet Hurston and its moons with a new habitat (Lorville).
PU 3.4 introduced Lorville Central Business District and head-tracking sensitivity controls.
PU 3.5 introduced Planet ArcCorp and its moons wih a new habitat (Area 18).
PU 3.6 introduced unified headtracking (TrackIR + FOIP) and Hover Mode.
PU 3.7 introduced Proximity Assist, Interdiction, Caves, First Person Mining & Harvestables.
PU 3.8 introduced Orbital stations, station habs, Lagrange point mining, Melee Combat, & SOCS.
PU 3.9 introduced New Babbage Landing Zone (interiors), MicroTech moons, & food.
PU 3.10 introduced visor wiping, SDF re-entry effects, Trading App, body dragging, Thruster update.
PU 3.11 introduced Force Reactions, Cargo Decks, Character Customiser upgrade, & Building Blocks UI.
PU 3.12 introduced Refinery Decks, Lagrange Clouds, Handheld Tractor Beam & Tobii EyeTracking support.

The library of patch notes, linked above, documents the steady and consistent nature of Star Citizen's development marked by progress which is tangible both in the test environment and in the gameplay videos produced by backers. In short, not only is the project making quantifiable progress but this progress can be indpendently audited by the public simply by comparing backer videos with the patch notes. This is made even easier by the publication of a project roadmap which is regularly updated to reflect the number of tasks required for a feature and how many of those tasks have been completed with, in the broad view, the features completed and the features scheduled for production with an order of production and an approximate, if optimistic timeline which, again, can be corroborated with player videos. Contrary to what some people may have been claiming, Star Citizen has been making steady progress which is quite tangible and eminently verifiable.

Star Citizen Quality System: The Issue Council

Quality control of Star Citizen isn't limited to in-house testers. With each new build, the updated test environment is released to backers via a number of phases:

  1. An initial Evocati phase in which a select group of backers, who are known for their solid feedback, put the roughest builds through their paces
  2. A PTU in which successively broader groups of backers, beginning with Evocati, Concierge and Subscribers in the first wave, are given access to the build
  3. LIVE PU or LPU which is available to everyone with a game package on account

Throughout all phases of testing, backers are encouraged to report bugs and any questionable program behaviour on the Issue Council; which is a dedicated web-based bug-reporting tool designed to facilitate finding existing bug reports (so as not to duplicate bug reports) as well as foster healthy discussion of whether an issue is or is not a bug. It isn't perfect. The search, like most search engines, has a tendency to turn up the wrong things if the user doesn't know how to use lexical bottlenecks to squeeze the engine for the right results. But it does a better job of communicating issues to the developers than the typcial approach of setting up a feedback forum and then deciding it's too hard after the same bug has been reported for the 6872nd time. As with development progress, the proof is in the pudding for bugfixing progress.

The last time I checked, roughly 75% of bugs are fixed from one build to the next and the focus on bugfixing tends to be on only the bugs which have emerged from the current build. Part of the reason for this is because many bugs are a product of mechanics which are absent because they are yet to be implemented. It would be a waste of time and backer funding to address such bugs before the unerlying mechanics were implemented. Sometimes, I suspect, certain bugs just get buried under the sheer volume of duplicate bugs, non-constructive reports and reports which fail to communicate the necessary detail. Based on my familiarity with the PU 3.5 LIVE Alpha test environment, my samples will be taken from the first 100 assessable bugs reported for PU 3.2, PU 3.3, and PU 3.4. By assessable bugs, I refer to bugs which I know, definitively, have been either fixed or not fixed by the time PU 3.5 was released to the LIVE Alpha test environment. Bugs which I've not encountered and regressed will not be counted for practical reasons (of accuracy) and bugs which are flagged, correctly, as invalid will likewise not be counted.

In review, the samples taken show that PU 3.2 had 77% of it's bugs fixed, PU 3.3 had 80% of its bugs fixed and PU 3.4 71% of its bugs fixed by the time PU 3.5 went to the LIVE Alpha test environment. That's a remedial average of 76% which is pretty amazing for an alpha test environment. It's better than what I've seen when participating in some Betas and I've seen full production releases with less remedial progress than this. This is to say that, although there are some bugs, most get fixed with every build.

The State of Financial Support for Star Citizen's Development

The Star Citizen project is quite transparent regarding its finances and there is ample information avilable to make a solid assessment concerning the financial stablity of the project. Financial reporting of the Star Citizen project can be found here:

The fact which jumps straight off the page is that onging funding covers ongoing expenditure with no visible depth to the funding pool. This indicates that the project operates on the basis of ongoing funding and is no longer drawing from the pool of funds raised by the original backers. In practical terms, this means that the continuation of the project's development depends heavily on the continued influx of funds. So the most important question raised by this observation is whether this funding stream is stable or likely to dry up without warning. The first step in answering the question is to take a closer look at how this funding is being raised.

Bearing in mind the fact that these funds are being provided by backers, the next really obvious feature of these figures speaks to the stability of funding via the relatively high number of small contributions (as opposed to a lower number of larger contributions). The fact that larger numbers are involved indicates a steadiness or normality of behaviour which can be expected to continue unless altered by something drastic. This is in contrast to the very unstable situation in which a project is subject to the whims and, often, the misconceptions of a very limited number of shareholders who will cut off funding at the first sign of originality. In a crowd-funded project, where management is engaged in listening to their backers, this capriciousness quickly fades into impotence because there are sufficient numbers of backers who are backing for a sufficent variety of reasons to stay the course. In such cases, even the broadest details are quite revealing.

Contrary to the rather popular disinformation that the Star Citizen project is carried on the backs of "whales", the actual mean spend, per account, is quite low; currently on the order of us$98.41. However, as anyone can sign up wihout getting an account, this is not necessarily the average spend per backer. To determine the proportion of backers, we can use Pareto Distribution (from Vilfredo Pareto's Cours d'Économie Politique: Nouvelle édition par G.-H. Bousquet et G. Busino, 1924, Librairie Droz, Geneva) which, coupled with the statistical significance of a backer population easily exceeding a million, is a sufficient sample to be taken as globally representative. Thusly informed, an analysis based on Pareto Distribution yields a total 72% of accounts as representative of backers and, as of the time of writing, indicates a backer population just tipping the scales at 1.7 million. That population is larger than can be found in most cities.

Dividing the backer population into the total funding to date, we get a mean pledge of us$136.84. This makes a lot more sense, as a measure of average backer expenditure, given that most of the ships one sees being flown, in-game, are in the us$80-us$200 price range and very few players can be seen flying the basic package ships such as the Mustang or the Aurora - and, in my experience, those who do are often more invested players looking to test these ships.

So, on average, funding is coming from the lower end of the pledge spectrum via backers who are very sensible in their spending. By comparison, concierge backers (those who've backed Star Citizen to the tune of more than us$1000) are estimated to number roughly 1% of the total backer population and are responsible for only 20% of total funding. What this tells us, in no uncertain terms, is that the vast bulk of funding comes from game packages and that only a minor proportion, by comparison, comes from the big spenders. Star Citizen is, thus, very much the crowd-funded project revolving around Joe Average much more so than the big spenders. This lends itself to a considerable degree of stability because it is driven by statistically significant human behaviour and not subject to the unpredictable extremes of outlier behaviour. Moreover, there is more certainty, here, than just the strength of this inference.

We can also see quite a deep history in these numbers because this has been logged by interested backers over at:

The first thing we can see, from the historical numbers is that the the average funding accumulated over any four year period doesn't vary by much and is quite constant as this four year window shifts, day by day, from the first window position to the last window position in the timeline. Moreover, there is no decay on the rate of funding coming in - as would be expected if the market begins to saturate. Instead, what we are seeing is a very stable stream of backing which is the result of an expanding set of released features accommodating successively larger and larger market shares with each new feature released to backers. The fact that the process of incremental apha release of features is not only tied to the size of the market share for the project but, also, is an integral part of the project's delivery dictates that, so long as project features continue to be delivered in new areas of interest, the market share will continue to expand and the project will continue to receive a stable stream of funding. Although such processes are finite (there are only so many features which can interest people and only so many people in the global market) there is no reason to think that people interested in this project, and the funding they pledge, will suddenly just disppear without warning.

Interestingly we may notice a sudden, minor surge in finances around November when the Annual Anniversary sale takes place; an event which allows backers to pledge for any of a majority of ships and other items, not normally available throughout the rest of the year. The remaining bulk of annual funding is, by comparison, slow and steady. If there is one thing we can learn from this it's that most of the large pledges are most likely made during the Anniversary sale every November and, interestingly, the steepest gain is roughly 10% of the total annual gain; being suplemented by concept sales which would account for the other 10% avaialable at the Concierge level of expenditure. So, fair warning; claims that Star Citizen depends on ship sales, are clearly and factually incorrect. If ship concepts fail to appeal to backers, this only impacts finances by around 10% and quarterly variations are much higher than 10% - so, if anything, losses due to unpopular concepts can be difficult to separate from the noise. This brings us back the significant stability of the funding stream for Star Citizen; stability which owes its existence to a solid overall concept that steadily sells game packages via the incremental release of features as Star Citizen continues to develop and become more accessible and attractive to a wider variety of potential backers over time.


Based on the available facts, as at the time of writing —facts which can be independently verified by anyone willing to invest the elbow grease— the Star Citizen project:

  1. Encompasses a broad variety of gameplay and playstyles with a focus on immersion and enjoyment for different players with different gameplay expectations
    • is highly saught after given the level of community support
    • offers the first ever implementation of walkaround ships which don't grind to a halt just because the pilot leaves the helm unattended — and, additionally, being specified to offer an unprecedented level of gameplay diversity in an high fidelity rendering of a highly detailed universe.
    • significant handling of implicit objectives, in their turn, as the project develops without leaving great gaping holes in the project's design.
  2. is being developed with steady and consistent progress
    • 53 of the supplemental objectives have been implemented, to date, with siginificant milestones achieved, in development
    • a live alpha test environment open to all who have pledged for a game package which can be used to verify and test the implementation of each new feature and milestone as it is delivered.
    • progress reporting which is corroborated by patch notes, features available in the alpha test environment and corroborated by the many player videos released to document the development of this game.
  3. features a dedicated bug-reporting system called the Issue Council
    • leverages the transparency of an alpha test environment, open to all backers, to accelerate and streamline the identification of program flaws
    • empowers backers to meaningfully report bugs and see a proportion of those bugs fixed in fairly short order.
    • delivers remedies for roughly 75% of reported issues from one live alpha release to another
  4. is supported by a continous stream of stable funding with no sign of tapering off, to date
    • gives backers the major voice on project direction with significant backer-initiated corrections such as the reversal of the decision to make the garage space in the Valkyrie magically exclude cargo
    • offers ample financial history to show patterns that are predictable over time
    • shows a near-constant running average of funding over time
    • shows community growth which parallels funding
    • shows a community vs. funding relationship indicative of fairly basic game packages as the basis for the bulk of the funding received

In short, the Star Citizen project offers a saught-after product that is currently unavailable from other developers and, moreover, this project is making objective progress to this end, has a quantifiable quality assurance process in place, and stable financial support from large numbers of new backers (between 600-700 per day since the launch of the project) many of whom pledge when key features are implemented. It seems, I'm not the only one who understands that the proof is in the pudding!

compass atop a bowl of roasted coffee beans set inside gold laurels
Wednesday, ISO: 2024-July-24, 03:39 hours, UTC.