This year’s CitizenCon celebrated the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the Star Citizen development process. It also marked the announcement of the further delay of the single-player portion of the game.
Chris Roberts’ team at Roberts Space Industries was expected to have the first episode of Star Citizen’s single-player module, called Squadron 42, available in the fall of last year. That release window has slipped again and again, with news of the latest delay coming from Roberts himself while live onstage in Los Angeles.
"We want to do it right," Roberts said to a theater packed with dedicated fans. "It’s really important to do it right. ... As much as we wanted to have Squadron 42 for this year, it is not going to be this year because, for all the polish we need to do, it still needs more time."
Roberts said that Squadron 42, which features the talents of Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill and other A-list actors, will have 340 speaking roles. The game’s 28 chapters are all at "gray-box or better" state Roberts said, but the first episode is still not where he would like it to be in order to show it publicly.
"We don’t want to show stuff too early," Roberts said, "I think that Squadron 42 will be a fantastic experience."
Roberts went on to thank the community supporting the game through early access purchases and time spent playing the various other modules, which are all currently in an alpha state. He also emphasized how the purchase of higher-end ships was meaningful to him and the team as a show of support.
Roberts revealed that the pre-sale of the most recent new ship, the RSI Polaris, resulted in their most successful day of crowdfunding yet. The virtual ship costs $750, and is not yet playable in-game.
The Star Citizen website claims that the game project has raised a total of more than $127 million dollars.
The keynote presentation concluded with an extended demonstration of the atmospheric and terrestrial environments of the spacefaring game. Roberts and his 363-person team have created a system that allows for true spherical terrain, unlimited view distances and authentic horizon lines. Planet-sized environments can be procedurally generated at scale, and artists are then able to add details by hand.
The demo showed a long, uninterrupted, in-engine zoom down from orbit and through a planet's atmosphere to ground level. The camera panned across a forested plain and over snowy peaks before focusing on a solitary player making a landing at a remote station to investigate a distress beacon. The player rolled a six-wheeled rover off their ship and went for a drive in first-person, kicking up dust and eventually encountering a huge sand worm.
"We want to provide Crysis-level quality down on the ground," Roberts said. "walking, driving around but on a global scale. ... Frostbite, CryEngine, they do beautiful stuff, but it’s limited to two-by-two kilometers or four-by-four kilometers or, if you’re lucky, 16-by-16 kilometers. But for us, we want to have that level of quality but on a planetary scale. And that is a big, big ask."
Roberts also said that in order to get more playable content into the alpha module updates, his team’s release schedule would slow down slightly from monthly to bi-monthly, or even quarterly.
"Please don’t hold me to dates," he cautioned.
More screenshots from the live demo can be found below.