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Roberts Space Industries and Cloud Imperium Games have been crowdfunding Star Citizen for years now. They've been toiling away on what's classified as an indie game with an AAA budget. Well, they've just raised an insane amount through their crowdfunding efforts.
According to Gamespot they've reached more than $141 million in crowdfunding to bring the Lumberyard-powered space simulator to life.
The game continues to rack up a lot of financial support from PC gamers who have become disgruntled with today's video game development market. A lot of titles are made for the lowest common hardware denominator (which is typically the Xbox One), and that means that the scope and technical ceilings for those games are lowered so as not to surpass the resource budgets afforded to the team by the limitations of the hardware. In result, we get a lot of games that just aren't very impressive technically, visually or mechanically.
Chris Roberts decided to give PC gamers exactly what they wanted: a high-end space simulator with CG-quality graphics running in real-time with a single-player story and an MMO-sized multiplayer component. The result has been Star Citizen.
The game has been in development since 2012, slowly making headway and progress toward a unified persistent online universe. The PTU, which is what it's called, has been released in small modules, giving crowdfunding backers an opportunity to venture through limited sections of the greater space that the team at Cloud Imperium Games have crafted.
In accordance with bridging together the different gameplay modules, including a first-person component called Star Marine, a combat flight sim called Arena Commander, and a racing mode set on a futuristic planet. They've had to switch over to a slightly more modular online infrastructure, which was provided by Amazon's AWS cloud server technology through the Lumberyard game engine. Things went smoothly for the most part given that Lumberyard's core is the CryEngine and Star Citizen was already built on the CryEngine, so they were able to move over and release version 2.6 of Star Citizen running on the Lumberyard with nary any major hiccups.
However, the single-player campaign of the game, Squadron 42, has been pushed back a great deal, and the planetary quests are still going through refinement. According to Chris Roberts they'll be following up the 2.6 alpha release with a 2.6.1 incremental patch to include a few extra things that he says "slipped through" the release of 2.6.
The journey this far hasn't been an easy one, though. Having an open-development structure has put Star Citizen in the cross hairs of perpetual criticisms regarding the finances, the length of time the game has been in development, and the constant delays for certain features.
In the world of AAA development, once you get to peer inside the bubble and see how things work, you'll find that rarely are things as glossy or as straightforward as you might have imagined. There's a lot of ups and downs and technical iterations that take place, along with a lot of setbacks that happen; sometimes even the smallest hiccups can echo through the project, creating anywhere between a week's worth of delays up to a month, sometimes even up to year.
Nevertheless, CIG and RSI are moving slowly toward the beta phase of Star Citizen, and they have some big things planned for the upcoming updates for the game, including farming, more planets to visit, more star systems to explore and more ships to fly.