One of the critiques of ambitious PC space sim Star Citizen is that it’s been a long time coming. The game’s original Kickstarter campaign started in 2012 and, though some portions of the game are playable right now for backers, the full, finished product isn’t. Now, in an interview with the BBC, creator Chris Roberts says he wishes he’d explained the game’s development schedule better.
He explains that he could have done a better job informing backers that, as more money came in (Star Citizen has raised more than $108 million to date), the scope of the project expanded in turn. As a result, the game’s release got pushed out further into the future.
“One of the oxymorons of crowdfunding is you’re asking for money to make this game, but you don’t know how much money you’re going to get,” he said. “Unless you just want to pocket the rest of the money, which isn’t my thing at all; I want to make the best game possible.”
Game delays and cancellations are par for the course in the gaming industry, but Star Citizen is unique in that it is a crowdfunded project that prides itself on being open and transparent with its backers. Under the traditional development model, the general public isn’t aware that cancellations and delays are taking place, he said.
“Games get cancelled all the time. Games get pushed back,” Roberts said. “By the time you hear about a game, it’s probably been in development for three years and already had a whole bunch of delays. There’s a whole bunch of stuff that I know from when I was at EA, working with Microsoft–loads of games got cancelled, loads of games got pushed back. Things always took much longer than anyone thought. But the general public isn’t aware.”
If Roberts was to launch another crowdfunding campaign, he says he’d try to better explain the fluid nature of game development and be more upfront that release schedules aren’t always set in stone.
“I think on the crowdfunding side, we can all do a better job,” he said. “If I was crowdfunding again I think I would be more–I would spell this out more. Which would be, ‘If we’re getting more money and the scope changes, the timeline is going to change.'”
Also in the interview, Roberts touched on the fact that more than 1 million people have signed up to track Star Citizen’s progress. There is a downside to having so many followers, he said.
“Now you have a million game designers, a million arm chair developers, a million CEOs [telling us what to do],” Roberts explained.
But at the same time, Roberts said most of the Star Citizen community is “incredibly supportive and positive,” contributing their own good ideas to the development team. This passion amongst the community is exciting and encouraging, he said.
For more on Star Citizen, you can check out GameSpot’s previous coverage.