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Robert Space Industries sent out word today that they are taking the next great step in bridging an expensive concept with a very grounded reality. The $16.7 million independent game project, funded entirely by the community has finally made the leap to providing backers with a playable version of the hangar module from Star Citizen.

Many people still feel as if Kickstarter is a scam... a snake oil pitch for the age of the internet. However, there has been enough small examples of success from the Kickstarter bubble to prove that crowd-funding has legs to stand on, and with high-end titles like Project CARS releasing playable builds to the community and subsequently spawning amazing community-made trailers in the process, helps reinforce that crowd-funding is a very viable alternative to the standard publishing method.

Anyway, the new playable module for Star Citizen allows those who backed the game to actually get a small slice of gameplay out of the massive indie project from Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games' upcoming space simulator.

So what is the hangar module and how is it playable? Well, players will be able to take a playable pilot through a fully interactive hangar that houses spaceships. You can climb up ladders to see just how big the hangar is, or walk around and scope out your ship, assuming you put in enough backer cash to earn a special ship reward.

Cloud Imperium CEO, Chris Roberts stated that...
"In creating a project of this size and scope in a traditional sense, you wouldn't get a chance to play the game until it reaches late alpha or beta stage," ... "By creating modules in this fashion, our backers get a chance to jump in and enjoy the world much earlier. Soon we'll be adding a Dogfighting module, a Planetside module and more. Eventually we'll weave them together to make the world that will be Star Citizen."

I love the idea of slowly rolling out playable parts of the game, as opposed to having people just wait for one big alpha/beta test. Within the structure of Star Citizen (which really seems to be living up to its name) small sections of the game are actually viable to be implemented as playable modules as the team finishes them up. This is great for backers, because unlike some other crowd-funded titles, everything that was promised during the pitch campaign and that you helped pay for in the development phase will be something you can experience first-hand.

This isn't just a press release pitch, either. You can check out some footage of the Star Citizen hangar module in action thanks to tons of live-streamers hopping in on the action once the module went live.

With a goal set at $20 million in the crowd-funding arena, Star Citizen hopes to be the biggest independent space simulator undertaking in history and they're definitely well on their way. For more information you can visit the official Robert Space Industries website.