Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Kerfuffle This Way Comes (part two)

No matter the answer or reason for the loan, two more things are guaranteed to eventually happen (I'm guessing in the next year):
1. Chris Roberts will make an urgent plea for more money from the public, saying that they are in critical financial distress. This distress will be, in fact, much greater than the public could ever fix, and whatever additional crowdfunding or in-game sales they book, it will only serve to help rearrange deck chairs on the you-know-what.
2. Within six months of #1 happening, it will be tearfully declared that the game is dead, Jim.

Why am I so negative? Well, let's have a look, and before I go on, let me make clear that I have nothing against Chris Roberts. He provided me with some of my fondest gaming moments (Super Wing Commander on the 3DO was absolutely riveting), and it would make me very happy if Star Citizen was completed.

I will not, however, be very happy.

Bad metaphor time, but it will serve its purpose.

A game design is a steam train. What fills the cars of the train is the game content.

What drives the steam train forward? Steam, with heat produced by a firebox full of burning coal.

That coal is cash.

How long is the Star Citizen train? Dozens of cars long. How much coal does a train this long require? An almost incomprehensibly massive amount.

Both of these things are true:
--They have an incredible amount of coal
--They do not have enough coal

But don't worry about the size of the train, you say, because people are throwing coal at the train as it drives by, so they will have enough coal to stoke the boiler.

The problem, though, is that thrown coal is not dependable.

Look, there was an almost guaranteed successful way to get this train to town. When the initial, staggering supply of coal was finally seen, it would have been entirely prudent to say "We're going to keep at least 25% of this coal in reserve, in case loading the train takes longer than we anticipated".

Ah, tiresome metaphors. Even I'm tired of it now. Off to bed with you.

No game developer, no designer, no producer on Earth has ever brought an original project of this size to completion. Yes, there have been a handful of games that cost more to develop (COD: MW2, GTA V, and Star Wars: The Old Republic), but those all had enormous, existing companies behind them.

If, incredibly, Star Citizen were ever finished, it would take at least another 3-5 years. Their burn rate must be $2M a month--at least--given the number of employees involved (and all the outside studios).

Even with the conservative 3 year estimate, that's another $72M dollars.

I'm sorry, but it just can't happen.

It's very easy to see how this game can't be completed. What's impossible, though, is to take the other side, and argue how it CAN be completed.

Prediction: this game gets developed until it has to ship (because there's no money left). It will be shipped and called complete.

Please let me be wrong.

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