Chris Roberts, who helped define the space sim genre in computer games during the 1990s with his Wing Commander and Privateer franchises, is back in the cockpit again with a new title he says will change the way people perceive games for the PC and will breathe new life into space combat games.
Roberts’ re-entry into gaming comes after he spent more than a decade as a director and producer in the Hollywood film industry. In 1990, he introduced Wing Commander to the world of PC gaming and the franchise went on to sell millions of units and spawned multiple sequels, a feature film and another highly successful game franchise, Privateer.
“In recent years, game designers have stopped innovating and pushing the boundaries of what you can do in this genre,” says Roberts. “I plan on bringing that kind of development mentality back into PC gaming and space sims in particular.
“There is a lot of noise out there regarding social and mobile games right now, and I think PC gamers are feeling a little left out of the mix. But the PC is still incredibly capable of presenting an experience that doesn’t take a back seat to any other platform out there, including consoles. With my game, I want PC gamers to stand up, be counted and get excited again about all the great experiences their computer can deliver.”
At GDC Online Roberts also announced a program to bring his devotees and other interested parties much closer to the development process. A crowd funding site has been posted to help raise the necessary funds for completing development of the project. “Our purpose today,” said Roberts, “is to allow our fans to join us in this process early. It will likely be another two years before the full product is ready for release, but early backers will be able to play a version of the game a year from now.
“We are taking this approach to fund-raising for several reasons,” said Roberts. “For one, this route takes the traditional game publisher out of the mix and enables us to take the millions of dollars normally used by publishers for a triple-A title and plow them right back into developing the game. Secondly, using our own crowd funding mechanism allows us to reach out to our international fans, who have been devoted followers of my games in the past. Thirdly, going direct gets us much closer to our fans and allows us to focus more on the community side, create more updates for our fans and directly interact with them as we are making the game.”
Star Citizen, still in early development stages but already 12 months into production, will not require a subscription, but will not be free-to-play either. Roberts says the game will be available for a one-time purchase. And while players will be able to play in the Star Citizen universe for free, there will also be virtual items available for purchase with in-game credits so players can customize their ships and other items.
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