Chris Roberts is a name from the heyday of Origin Systems, back when such a company still existed. Their tagline, “We Build Worlds,” was particularly accurate given the scope of their projects, from Richard Garriott’s Ultima series to the Wing Commander franchise, built by the aforementioned Chris Roberts.
Wing Commander was a space sim, a game about interstellar dogfights in space-borne ships. It was a cinematic epic in a time before such things were the norm and, in spite of that, each entry up until the last had a branching, dynamic campaign. Roberts left gaming to pursue an interest in other forms of media, only to return last month with the announcement that he’d be revealing something special through his new company, Cloud Imperium Games Corporation.
Star Citizen is the potential payoff. A space sim in the vein of the earlier Wing Commander titles, players will enlist with the UEE Navy and fight the good fight, but they’ll also (potentially) be engaging in commerce a la Wing Commander’s Privateer off-shoot. Done with the main campaign? Jump back into the game’s persistent world and play the economy while waiting for DLC content packs to come out.
That said, Roberts is adamant that this game be playable offline, as well as in co-op. He cites the reluctance of big name publishers to make space sims or PC-exclusive titles as the impetus behind building Star Citizen through an indie start-up. To that end, it’s going to be partially crowd-funded. In addition to the game’s initial $2 million goal, it has stretch goals up to $6 million, which include such things as storyline expansion and a persistent, online universe for the aforementioned Privateer-esque play. It’s not Kickstarter, but it’s the same in principle; donations are submitted through the Roberts Space Industries website. Should the game be funded, it appears Roberts is aiming for a release sometime in mid-2014.
Just make sure you get a decent joystick. Space sims should not be played without one.