Updated Tue, Nov 20, 2012 by ricoxg
Read the forums for any PC game these days and you’ll hear the consistent lamentation of the passing of PC gaming’s golden years. The 90s and early 2000s gave us new games with new ideas, techniques, and graphics each and every year. Each new release from a publisher blew the last title out of the water, and while there were always those quintessential and genre-defining titles that took decades to so much as find a worthy competitor, the statement still holds true as a generalization.
Then came the last ten years or so, where publishers found the magic formulas for profitability and introduced the concept of bad console ports. Stagnation set in as the market started its slow spiral of entropy. Will PC gaming ever truly die? Probably not, though it will obviously change a bit to be more compatible with new market demands. Then there will certainly be those one-offs, the throw-backs to the heyday of PC gaming, done with little budget and less fanfare. But, you have to wonder if this is that all we have to look forward to, those few lucky escapees from the Isle of Misfit Toys.
Fortunately, a dark hero has wandered out of the desert of his decade-long break from the world of games like a prophet returning to a lost and dejected people. At first the news of his return was scoffed at and spoken of as nothing more than rumors by the Sadducees of modern gaming. The news still spread though, catching fire as it touched the kindle of frustrated geeks searching for a new light in the darkness. Chris Roberts, creator of the Wing Commander series, has returned, and he brings a prophetic vision of games where risk-taking and innovation still have a place in the world gaming, and where PC gaming is no longer the afterthought of moderately successful console games.
Star Citizen, Roberts’ new space sim, hopes to revitalize PC gaming by bringing back innovation, and it all started by crowd sourcing the game. Star Citizen reached its $2 million goal in just two weeks, and has gone on to include several stretch goals for its Kickstarter and in-house fundraising efforts. So, it’s not just a platitude when it’s said that the project has a solid community behind it; it’s a demonstrable fact. Hopefully by the time you finish this article, you’ll have a better idea why their fans are so devoted. Perhaps you’ll even be on the way to becoming one yourself.
The new game will be multiplayer with an optional single-player component called Squadron 42, which takes the player through a military campaign to introduce the player to game mechanics and concepts in a more traditional way. Squadron 42 will offer a unique option--you can either play it offline, or online with friends. Players will also have the option of skipping military service and getting right into the game if that’s their preference.
Star Citizen will also be presented using an open-world architecture concept that allows the player to have that unique experience between small fighter craft and the larger capital ships. In the fighter, the player would be restricted to a small cockpit with little move to move around. Larger ships such as transports and carriers however, will have more room to walk around inside them. The result should be a much more immersive environment where each ship feels specifically unique.
Borrowing a page from the successful Guild Wars series of games, Roberts has said that the economic model of the game will be buy-to-play, meaning that the game must be purchased, but after that there will be no additional charges to play. This system has proven to work well for the Guild Wars franchise, but even they included an item shop in this last iteration of the game. Roberts hasn’t mentioned any desire to pursue a similar method of additional funding, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it in the future. It doesn’t break the game and as optional content that has zero real impact on the game, it doesn’t violate the buy-to-play stance.