Derek Smart Has Been Battling Star Citizen

And it’s kind of awesome

I’m highly skeptical of Star Citizen’s chances of being a thing…and yet I’m squarely in the middle of its target demographic. I loved the Wing Commander games growing up. I love the space sim genre in general. I’ve had a lot of fun with Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky in the modern era.

Yet from the beginning, Star Citizen seemed like too much game for any team to ever fully complete.

And then just this week, I learned that game development legend Derek Smart feels the same way.

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I haven’t followed Star Citizen closely in a couple of years, now. I had some friends back the game in the original Kickstarter funding rounds, and so every now and then I’d cajole them into booting up the latest client and showing it to me.

I’ve always maintained that I’d buy the game if it ever came out as a retail product. I was and still am most interested in Squadron 42, the single-player aspect of the game that promises to be a big budget Wing Commander-style adventure.

Have you heard of Derek Smart?

He’s an indie game developer, perhaps best known for Battlecruiser 3000 and Universal Combat, both impossibly huge games made by impossibly small teams. While his games haven’t always clicked with me, and I don’t always agree with his personal views, I have nothing but tremendous respect for his grand ambition and for what he’s been able to in his development career.

Over the last two years, Derek has systematically laid out all the issues with Star Citizen over at his blog. And it’s so awesome. He nails everything that’s troubling with the scope of the game. He tears into their crazy financial model that has people spending thousands of dollars on ships that don’t exist for a game that isn’t finished. He’s acting as the perfect check against the unbridled hype that surrounds the game.

I get that it’s fun to dream about things. Dreams and ambitions are at the heart of all creative projects. And that’s how it should be!

But I can’t think about the idea of a Big Space Sim without calling to mind Derek Smart. And if you read his blog, he’s a bigger fan of this genre that I could ever hope to be. He probably wants nothing more than for Star Citizen to live up to the dreams of its fans…but he’s also uniquely positioned to know how incredibly impossible that is.

If Derek Smart thinks your big space sim has a huge scope problem…you should probably pay attention. He’s been in the trenches on this stuff for years.

Look at what happened with No Man’s Sky. The hype surrounding it was nuts. The dreams that people conjured up about that game were Star Citizen-like in their scope…something that Hello Games never really promised, and that their small talented team could not ever actually deliver, even with the backing of Sony.

A year later, No Man’s Sky is much more of a game. It has a dedicated fan-base, but the hype-fueled masses have moved on to other things. Star Citizen represents the last big hype machine in space sims.

And I’m not entirely sure why.

Elite: Dangerous, X: Rebirth, No Man’s Sky, and Universal Combat are all better than Star Citizen by default right now because they actually came out. They all have smaller budgets than Star Citizen by several factors…but they all also had proper scoping and design to actually work on the technology they were designed for.

Derek Smart is right on with his criticisms, and as much as we all want Star Citizen to come out and be awesome, right now it’s still looking pretty iffy. They’ve built some incredible stuff over the last several years, and I can totally see why people are excited…I just hope that stuff actually coalesces into a game I can buy some day.

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I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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