SC: Developer deja vu

The 2013 Chris Roberts cult worship reminds me of 2006 Richard Garriott cult worship.

If you look at their Wikipedia pages, their careers look amazingly similar. RG has Ultima, CR has Wing Commander. RG has Tabula Rasa, CR has Wing Commander (the movie). RG has Shroud of the Avatar, CR has Star Citizen. RG has gone to space. CR is currently making RP vids as if he is in space.

I’m not saying Star Citizen is going to be Tabula Rasa (though gun to my head, yea, CR is going to end up closer to TR than to EVE-level design success), but I do find the (basically) blind faith in CR a little strange, if not outright creepily similar to RG back in the day.


About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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30 Responses to SC: Developer deja vu

  1. Mark says:

    That kickstarter got so crazy I just had to back away from it, the prices associated with ships and things was just way too much for me to throw down. I can’t blindly follow the dude that much.

    • carson63000 says:

      Yeah it had already gone nuts when I first heard about it and looked into it. I backed away slowly with my hands raised in a non-threatening manner – once the game actually launches, I’ll look at it as I would look at any new game, and THEN decide if I want to play or not.

  2. Jenks says:

    So Chris Roberts is just following in the footsteps of his old boss?

    I don’t agree, their career arcs are wildly different (imo). RG’s genre passed him by long ago. CR’s genre has stopped, frozen in time, waiting for his return. CR is indeed treated as a messiah, but I haven’t seen that love for RG in a very long time – probably not since Ultima IX.

    If I had to compare Richard Garriott’s standing in the industry with another figure right now, it would be Peter Molyneux. Both have very loyal fanbases, but are largely demonized by games media (blogs). Both recently left large shitty companies, NCSoft and Microsoft, to form their own ventures. They both have recent crowd funding successes, but neither close to 10% of what CR has gotten.

    • SynCaine says:

      SC is an MMO, right? So how CR’s genre ‘frozen in time’? Or are you saying SC isn’t an MMO, but rather a space shooter sim (or whatever the Wing Commander genre is called)?

      • Jenks says:

        I don’t consider ‘MMO’ a genre, but a feature. Garriott’s genre is RPGs, Roberts’ is space combat. I’m not entirely sure I’d classify SC as an MMO anyway – it’s persistent, but heavily instanced and I believe max headcount in an instance is around 100 players.

        I know sites like Massively help propagate the idea that ‘MMO’ is a genre, but it’s not. It’s the equivalent of saying single player is a genre. Eve, Second Life, SWTOR, and Planetside have about as much in common as Civilization, Doom, Icewind Dale, and Chrono Trigger.

        • SynCaine says:

          But isn’t SC selling itself on being WAY MORE than just a space combat sim? Is everyone that dropped $1000+ doing so because damn, an updated version of X-Wing is exactly what they want to pay crazy amounts of money for?

          I haven’t been following the game that much, but even I know that’s not the case. People expect this to be everything EVE plus action combat, not 2015 Wing Commander.

        • Jenks says:

          No one that is closely following SC should be under the impression that it will be competing with EVE in any way other than setting.

          Your sarcastic example is closer to the truth than what you believe is. People are absolutely paying for ‘X-Wing’ in a persistent space updated for 2015. They’re not paying $1000+ for ‘WoW in Space’ or ‘Eve with a joystick’ which seems to be where you’re coming from. There are some, but they’re the minority. Your perspective is likely skewed because you play/follow/blog about EVE. Sit on the SC forums for a day or two.

          You can start here, it’s the first one that popped up on search, but there are tons more.

        • SynCaine says:

          We’ll see come release I guess. My bet is a lot of people are going to approach SC as action-EVE or at the very least a more actiony Sci-Fi MMO; not just a semi-persistent update to Wing Commander.

          Pre-release forums paint a more distorted picture than post-release forums, and post-release forums often represent a skewed 10% minority.

        • Jenks says:

          I agree with you 100% there. The people on those forums right now are the people you’re talking about in this post – the ‘cult of Chris Roberts.’ The percentage of posters who have spent over a thousand dollars will never be higher.

        • Kobeathris says:

          A Thrustmaster HOTAS runs $400. The Oculus Rift looks like it will go for $300. Falcon 4.0 came out in 1998, and people still play it. Chris Roberts has been targeting that crowd pretty directly from the beginning with his disdain for simplified, console style controls. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people willing to drop $1000 on Wing Commander (or Starlancer) 2015.

        • kalex716 says:

          You are seriously mistaken if you consider the ideas of an MMO to be mere features.

          You do realize, about 75% of the job positions CR has to fill to finish his game DIDN’T EVEN EXIST the last time he shipped one.

          What he did back in the early 90’s is hardly relevant now outside of the engine level, which he isn’t even writing himself. Game development is a completely different business.

        • Jenks says:


          Nothing you said supports the idea that ‘MMO’ is a genre… I can tell the first sentence is aimed at me, but the next 3 appear to be addressing a completely different topic, I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

        • Xyloxan says:

          Jenks, you never said what your definition of “genre” is so it’s impossible to argue with you that MMOs represent a genre. I suspect that your definition is different from mine (and a few others) making the discussion pointless. I like a broad definition of genre as “a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content.”

        • Jenks says:

          I gave examples.

        • Krel says:

          I tend to agree with Jenks.

          genre: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, post-apocalyptic, my little pony.

          type or style: FPS, RTS, TBS, MMO.

  3. There is a bit of the “what have you done lately?” on both of their track records.

  4. Mekhios says:

    SynCaine are you going to pledge for Star Citizen? You can get a cheap package a $40 for the Aurora. Might be worth trying and you can at least be an active commentator and write about the game as it unfolds (not sarcasm – serious question).

    Oh and for those still unsure what Star Citizen is the official definition is:
    “A space trading combat simulator that features single player (Squadron 42), multiplayer (private servers), a large persistent massively multiplayer universe (official server). It is the spiritual successor to the original Freelancer”.

    • SynCaine says:

      Cheap pack for $40…. :)

      Naw, going to pass. Sci-Fi is not a huge draw for me, and I really dislike cockpit combat overall.

      • Thomas says:

        You do realize the game does not cost $1k, right. You just built a straw man.

        also, you scoff at $40? You realize that gets you a ship, alpha and beta access and the game? Someone confirm that, I’m % 80 sure.

  5. sick of early access says:

    $40 gets me access to Alpha and Beta – woohoo, thanks for letting me pay to test your game.

    • Krel says:

      I’ll let you in on a little secret – this isn’t Obamacare, it’s not mandatory. If you want to buy it now for $40 you can… if you want to buy it later for $60 you can do that too… and if you hate space sims, or Chris Roberts, or fun, you don’t have to buy it at all. :)

      • Xyloxan says:

        To me, this whole idea of paying for Alpha and Beta has been invented by game producers, investors, and marketing people to get some cash back even if the game ends up being a complete dud. It’s not a gracious gesture by developers to let you taste the awesomeness of the game before the less privileged masses can get their hands on it. And it’s not (just) to do alpha/beta testing to polish the game (beta testing used to be free).

        But, hey, millions of people buy lottery tickets even though it’s the surest way to throw money away. It’s also a very clever marketing idea. You pay relatively a little (for a lottery ticket) and every week you see those smiling winners getting their checks for millions of $$. If you don’t do the math, it looks very alluring (your chance of ever winning millions is less than a chance of being struck by lighting.) Even if you know the odds some people just like the thrill of it, and I respect that.

        • Krel says:

          One big difference between the typical pay-for-alpha/beta and this is that there’s no middleman – no EA or its ilk in between the developers and the customers. The money that’s being collected isn’t paying for marketing, it’s paying for development (at least in theory, I acknowledge the slim possibility that CR may end up in Tahiti with a $40M bank account and 400,000 angry nerds raging for his blood… :) )

  6. Isey says:

    Historically, “‘rockstar” CEO’s fail. Gaming rockstar CEO’s have yet to have any recognizable success after their one-off win. (MJ, “Brad”, Garriott….) ok perhaps a big oversimplification but what other rockstar gaming bosses are there? (That have left and gone on…)

    • SynCaine says:

      Sid Meier is the only major name that comes to mind. Maybe John Carmack, but then his last game was Rage.

    • kalex716 says:

      The reason why this is the case, is because game development at the AAA level often involves teams ranging from 50 to 200 developers, or sometimes more when its all said and done.

      We often credit the director of the studio for the sole success of the project, while it is almost impossible to actually divulge what the directors actual role in the execution of our favorite games are unless you were involved with the team directly.

      Sometimes directors wear more of the marketing hat only. Sometimes, they are just functional CEO type business directors who handle and work with money and finance people. Sometimes, they come from a technical background, and concern themselves more with the nuts and bolts and architecture of the game. Other times, they might be a design oriented director, or an art one. Some are Production oriented, and handle scheduling and prioritization and pipeline.

      My point is, each one of those things is a FULL TIME job. No director can function as any more than one of those things very successfully without becoming a choke point in the process. The community doesn’t see this, as they will often position themselves from a PR standpoint as the general of all things… But its almost always not the case.

      Games as a sum of all its parts, are so much bigger than the above so the things we like about our favorite game, are often a testament to so many other leads, and middle managers involved that repeat success is almost impossible. Even the best projects undoubtedly churn some key players at the end.

      Head Directors get all the credit of a success, but I would say theirs usually about 5 or 6 Leads, Managers, and Team directors total that you can usually trace a great game back to.

      • Xyloxan says:

        All good points but you didn’t mention a major role of a project director. That is, selecting/hiring people (directly reporting to him) that should share and implement his vision for the project/game and in turn hire the best people for the task at hand. I would argue that this might be the most important skill of a project director. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that is mostly determined by our genes with learning and experience having a secondary importance.

        • kalex716 says:

          That’s certainly a fair perspective to bring up. Good leadership qualities do pay some dividends from the top down. So does a good hiring manager, and perks/benefits/relocation incentives to bring in top talent.

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