Star Citizen: Release Update 3.3, Performance & PR-Fails (Updated)
There are new infos about Object Container Streaming & the release of Update 3.3. We’ll also tell you what will be shown at CitizenCon 2018.
The big questions the Star Citizen fans are currently asking are about the update 3.3 and the CitizenCon 2018:
- What progress are performance technologies making for 3.3?
- Will Planet Hurston make it into the game as planned?
- When will the test-phase for Update 3.3 begin?
- Why is CIG’s public relations so bad?
- What will be presented at CitizenCon 2018?
Below we have prepared the answers for you. If you want to know what will be included in Update 3.3 in detail, we recommend our linked preview.
- 1 Star Citizen: Performance technologies make progress
- 2 Star Citizen: Object Container Streaming without positive impact on performance?
- 3 Release of Star Citizen Update 3.3: First test-phase starts this week
- 4 Regular PR Disasters: CIG, Communication & Expectations
- 5 CIG and the PR problem
- 6 Chris Roberts, a hysterical community & sensational press
- 7 CitizenCon 2018: What will CIG show?
- 8 CitizenCon 2018: The program
- 9 Continuing according to plan: Star Citizen grows steadily
- 10 Update 21.09.2018: Hurston, Moons & OCS postponed to update 3.3.5
- 11 Update December 2018: Hurston & Monde as well as Update 3.4 online
Star Citizen: Performance technologies make progress
It’s now less than four weeks before Star Citizen’s third content update – one of the most important of all – at least ends up on the public test server. Developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) had postponed Update 3.3 by around a month in order not to have to process the release shortly before the second major date of the quarter, CitizenCon 2018.
However, what sounds basically plausible is also due to the enormously important performance technology Object Container Streaming (OCS) as well as the associated subtasks. If we take a look at the current roadmap for Star Citizen, many aspects – among them the eagerly awaited first real planet, Hurston – are fully dependent on the implementation of OCS.
If OCS isn’t ready in time, the new content won’t work and new moons won’t come into play, nor will Planet Hurston. Why not? In order to compute the more than twice as large planetary and universal playing surface, a PC would need at least 32 GB RAM. Yes, you read it correctly: 32 gigabytes of RAM. OCS must therefore ensure that only the data relevant to the client (i.e. in its immediate vicinity) is loaded into RAM.
The new roadmap updates again don’t show any progress with the OCS itself, but the Subtask GameObjectExtensions Conversion has been completed. Also, the long stagnating Network Bind Culling (NBC, which is OCS on the network side, so to speak) is finally in the polishing phase. However, in a recent Reverse the Verse episode by CIG, it was explained that OCS might not have any significant impact on performance at all. One of the reasons: OCS is only implemented on the client side, this feature is not yet ready on the server side. Whether server OCS is already in progress is not yet clear.
Star Citizen: Object Container Streaming without positive impact on performance?
That OCS might not have any influence on the FPS might not be a good surprise for supporters. Many people have reckoned with OCS (in conjunction with Network Bind Culling) as a kind of Jesus technology that would enhance performance a lot. CIG hasn’t done much to catch the community here.
There have been occasional forum postings from developers pointing out that OCS isn’t the silver bullet in combating performance issues. But it was only recently that this was made quite clear in a Reverse the Verse.
We should at least get rid of the regular client hiccups (also known as short frame drops that cause stuttering) and that’s really nice. Especially the RAM activities of our PC should benefit a lot from this. However, some supporters might be badly surprised that the Alpha 3.3 with OCS and NBC still doesn’t run smoothly at 60 FPS.
Release of Star Citizen Update 3.3: First test-phase starts this week
If OCS will not be finished, no new planets and moons will come into play. The update would be relatively thin and the disappointment big ( check the update at the end of this article). But although there is still a lot of unfinished work on many features, the test-phase of the Evocati (the first group of testers for a Star Citizen update) should start this week. This means that the release of Update 3.3 is within reach. Only the scope of the update is still unclear.
It is interesting to note that there will be two versions of Alpha 3.3 on the test server: One with and one without OCS. This way, CIG wants to separate the bugs caused by OCS from those introduced by the content update. However, the latter will probably not be very large unless only testers with PCs with at least 32 GB RAM are allowed. We think this is quite unlikely, so Hurston and its moons may not be included in the initial test. Also, the new planet and its landing zone Lorville are not finished yet.
However, even with the previous updates 3.1 and 3.2, most of the tasks on the public roadmap were completed only shortly before the full release. The fact that many features apparently still have a lot of work ahead does not necessarily mean that they have to be postponed further. For example, once the preliminary work for a feature has been completed, the actual implementation may only require relatively little work. All facts and circumstantial evidence taken together, however, a postponement of large parts of the upcoming 3.3 update might be possible.
Regular PR Disasters: CIG, Communication & Expectations
Of course, we hope that CIG will once again be able to stick to its plan. Nevertheless, CIG may have to accept another PR disaster due to the expectations of the supporters regarding OCS and NBC. CIG communicates a lot with the community, but the developers do little too late to slow down unrestrained expectations.
This was also the case when at CitizenCon 2016 Squadron 42 should be shown and the hopes of the fans had been extreme: On stage it was announced that the so-called Vertical Slice would not be shown. At least: One year later the demo was really convincing and the anticipation of the game increased considerably. Squadron 42 is currently being developed entirely beneath the radar of the Star Citizen community – and we think that’s a good thing. Because on the one hand we would like to be surprised by a hopefully fantastic game. On the other hand nobody needs further PR-fails or negative press.
CIG constantly achieves this through a suboptimal communication strategy.
CIG and the PR problem
Star Citizen partly does not enjoy a good reputation outside of the supporters’ circles. Of course the obsessive lie campaigns of a failed ex-developer and his gang of followers are playing their part, but also the media itself. Star Citizen is a behemoth of information: Those who don’t inform themselves on a daily basis are left behind. And how many journalists have the time and motivation to deal with a topic in such depth?
That’s why many articles about Star Citizen are full of gaps in terms of knowledge and context. The resulting, often negative image creates a highly mixed reputation for Star Citizen among all those who have only marginally engaged with the ambitious Space Sim. But poorly informed authors are only part of the problem: CIG itself is the much bigger problem because they do little about it.
CIG has promised its supporters to always be the first to be informed, but they don’t have a good strategy for forming the public opinion. Especially with such an open development, in which a lot more details get under the critical eye of the public, it is a mistake to bury your head in the sand in front of the media. Occasional title stories and interviews are not enough. PR disasters such as the Legatus package could have been largely prevented if CIG had given all news pages its own presentation and a detailed explanation beforehand.
Chris Roberts, a hysterical community & sensational press
However, CIG has a good record of communication failures with its backers. The fact that the livestream to CitizenCon 2018 was supposed to be partly behind a paywall would not have been a problem, if the explanation in the community forum (!) Spectrum had been included in the announcement. Instead, Roberts obviously believed that it was sufficient to tell the supporters that the livestream had to be paid by them.
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Not a word about the keynotes being streamed freely. Not a word about the fact that the contents of the two convention stages will appear a few days later free of charge on YouTube. And also not a word that the CitizenCon 2018 would be bigger and better produced and therefore Blizzard’s livestream model was to be copied. All this came only after things already had gone wrong and only via the closed community forum. Does CIG not want positive PR or do they simply not care?
Of course, the over-reaction of the Shitstorm-proven community is also complete nonsense. Pathetically “The Pledge” was quoted and CIG was accused of breaking their promises. “We don’t want a CitizenCon at all” was suddenly heard from all those who had celebrated the same event enthusiastically last year. Torches, pitchforks and Refund calls went through reddit, Spectrum and – surprise! – through the comment columns of all those news pages that immediately jumped immediately on a new chapter from the never-ending, alleged greed for money story of CIG. Note: This is all about a profane livestream and not about pay-to-win weapons in the shop. The human tendency to overreact has not only been a well-known phenomenon since the introduction of the Internet.
But at CIG, no one really saw that coming?
CitizenCon 2018: What will CIG show?
Of course, we wish Star Citizen a complete success, because there is no other game with comparable ambition that explores the limits of what is possible and does not always provide only a marginally improved copy of its predecessor. Nevertheless a little more care would be appropriate in terms of communication and PR. Interestingly, the regular PR failures do not have any serious consequences for CIG – at least not that we could tell by the crowdfunding graph.
Quite the opposite: Recent concept sales like the Mercury Star Runner have again flushed a lot of fresh money into the developer’s pockets. And should Chris Roberts again show impressive new things at CitizenCon 2018 (ArcCorp, anyone?) – at least then everything will be forgiven and forgotten. Somehow this is a kind of ritual for the project.
What exactly is CitizenCon 2018 all about? The convention starts on October 10th at 1 pm (CDT, Austin, Texas) with the opening keynote. It will last two hours, which gives hope for an extensive presentation. Perhaps we will see the gas giant Crusader with the new Cloud-Tech, perhaps even the floating landing zone Orison? Or will there “only” be Hurston and content from Update 3.3? Maybe we’ll get new information on Squadron 42, maybe a trailer?
CitizenCon 2018: The program
At 3 pm, the first of two stages will continue with a one-hour panel on the topic “Crafting Space”. At 3.30 pm the second stage comes in, on which a trophy and a weapon are developed live. On the main stage, the art style of the Lorville landing zone will be discussed from 4 pm onwards. Meanwhile Tony Zurovec will be discussing design aspects on stage 2 – definitely a highlight of CitizenCon.
At 5 pm NPCs and player characters will be featured on stage 1, while on the second stage Alien Ecosystems will be presented first, followed by information about modular elements in the game. From 6 pm the new flight model will be discussed on the main stage. Meanwhile stage 2 shows a panel about VFX effects and deals with weapon sounds afterwards. From 7 pm on, CIG will present the technology behind new gameplay features on stage 1. At the same time the side stage will feature talks on Voice Over Sound Mixing and the background story of Update 3.3.
During the last 30 minutes of the convention (8 pm) Chris Roberts talks about the Road to Release. In regard to the fact that there is still no complete star system in the game, we are curious what Roberts has to say about the future of Star Citizen.
Continuing according to plan: Star Citizen grows steadily
Even though this article reflects our criticism of CIG’s communication with backers and the press, we hope that it will be very clear to everyone: We are fully aware that Chris Roberts and his team are devoting most of their day to working on Star Citizen. The coordination of five studios and more than 500 employees can sometimes lead to PR mistakes.
Nevertheless, Star Citizen could be much better perceived by the public if the appropriate communication would be thought through, precise and timely. Damage control afterwards is no helpful PR concept.
In terms of content and technology, CIG will achieve its goals sooner or later. Based on our previous experience with the project, we continue to expect this. Even if we have to face a major postponement for Update 3.3, it will only be a few additional weeks of waiting. The current update rhythm is a successful concept, but essential technologies like OCS can of course mess up the schedule.
We have to remember: This is highly complex software development. We are very excited to finally get OCS, NBC, planets and moons and see what impact this will have on performance. It’s pretty much clear to everyone – developers and players alike – that the performance has to improve in any case.
Like all backers, we are looking forward to our first flight over Hurston at a constant 30 FPS, preferably a bit higher. We are confident that CIG will be able to pull this off at some point. However, this may not be in October 2018 with update 3.3.
Update 21.09.2018: Hurston, Moons & OCS postponed to update 3.3.5
The current episode of Around the Verse has confirmed our assumptions: Planet Hurston, its moons and the performance technology Object Container Streaming have been moved to a date between the Update 3.3 and Update 3.4. These contents will be added in a patch (3.3.5) as soon as they are finished. Depending on how long this will take, it will certainly affect Update 3.4, which is planned for December and is supposed to bring the city planet ArcCorp and its moons. It is unlikely that Update 3.4 will be released in its planned form after the postponements of Update 3.3.
After all: This time CIG didn’t wait until the last moment, but communicated the bad news in time. Hopefully it won’t take too long for the patch to follow. Meanwhile OCS can be thoroughly checked for bugs on the test servers, a delay of the Evocati test is at least not known to us.
Update December 2018: Hurston & Monde as well as Update 3.4 online
With update 3.3.5, Planet Hurston finally came into play and got the supporters excited. Update 3.4 was released on time at the end of the year and provides access to the business district in Loreville as well as improving performance further.
Our roadmap article gives you a comprehensive overview of what is planned for Star Citizen.