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Desc:Scottish hacker/astronomer explains the bizarre economics behind EVE Online and Star Citizen.
Category:Video Games, Business
Tags:eve online, Star Citizen, early access, Scott Manley, scrip
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Comment count is 33
asian hick - 2015-03-14

I'm so tempted to buy into Star Citizen because I love these type of games. But I'm also reasonably sure that its going to be an over-funded, overambitious clusterfuck.

EvilHomer - 2015-03-14

Yeah, I haven't found a decent outer space 4X game since X3: Terran Reunion. I can't stand MMOs, but it's getting to the point where, if a good singleplayer one doesn't come out soon, I might crack and go for one of these, against my better judgement.

Can anyone suggest a good, current alternative?

Hooker - 2015-03-14

Wait, is Star Citizen a 4X game? I thought it was a flight simulator.

Hooker - 2015-03-14

God damnit, Homer. This is your most cruel and shameless lie yet.

EvilHomer - 2015-03-14

I thought the plan was to have Star Citizen be an Elite-like? As of now, I think the game is in (what might well be permanent) alpha, and the only X available is eXterminate, in the form of a space combat demo. But the lies on Kickstarter say that it's going to be the bestest and most Xiest game since Spore, yes?

Architeuthis Tux - 2015-03-14

It is my understanding that Star Citizen will contain within it a better version of every computer game that has ever been made, seamlessly blended together, allowing you not only to go anywhere and do anything, but to have a prosthetic gland attached to your head that gives you more ideas for things to do as long as you keep paying the subscription fees.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-14

Well Chris has headed some good projects, notably freelancer. It was also hugely ambitious and went wayy over bidget and time and got severely curtailed but it still ended up being one of the best games in that genre.
Star citizen does look like a total mess so far though. The very early decision to use cryengine was mind-bogglingly stupid. Cryengine is a very limited engine designed specifically for making crysis and farcry games and theyre fighting it every step of the way.
Also they are developing the game backwards. So far they have been churning out tonnes of 3d models and art assets (since 2011!!) while all of the games core mechanics and server side stuff hasnt even been started. When they actually make the *actual working game* part of it they are going to have to revisit all their previous work, and re-do a lot of and will end up throwing a lot of it out.
I'm a game dev btw.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-14

I though of a nice analogy
Deciding to use cryengine to make your space game is like deciding to make your space game as DOOM wad.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-14

I get the impression this project didnt have a good tech lead who was overseeing it all, and planning it out from its inception.

Elite dangerous' development is the total opposite story. It started at the same time for a fraction of the budget (a couple of mil) and its already at 1.0 and is a very enjoyable game and impressive technical accomplishment. I'd recommend it for people looking for a space trading game.

I'm also looking forward to 'limit theory' whose sole developer is a freaking genius.

StanleyPain - 2015-03-14

I've heard that supposedly X-rebirth is now actually a decent game after the year or so of patches and updates that have been deployed to turn it from a broken, half-functioning mess into a real game.

Architeuthis Tux - 2015-03-14

Former game dev here (many projects, much rubble, no released games), but with lots of friends still in in the industry.

I haven't closely followed Star Citizen because it honestly looks like a painful mess for everyone involved. Having been on teams like that -- cranking out assets for an engine with no specs and infinite ambition -- I know what a horrifying life vampire it can be. A lot of talented folks are losing years of their life because there's no realistic management.

The one real plus side is that they should, in theory, at least be getting paid.

Having been on the Elite bandwagon since... Uh. 1985... I was actually pretty skeptical of E:D. Frontier: First Encounters was a hot mess that never had the same power as the original game, but the newest incarnation is doing it for me pretty damn good! I was as pissed as anyone by the online only nature, but having played it a bunch, I see why they did it that way.

Even in solo mode, using the universe data from the online version means that the universe feels populated by the sort of people who play Elite. It means you aren't the lone pioneer discovering systems. It means you get to blow up people with stupid-ass names, even if it isn't a real player piloting the ship.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-14

Hey Architeuthis Tux maybe we can play elite online sometime? my username is McFlarb

Potrod - 2015-03-14

I'm not a game developer. Can you explain why using CryEngine is mindbogglingly stupid for a space game? Supposedly it will also feature planet/FPS portions.

glasseye - 2015-03-14

Shrug, I've dropped lots of cash on Star Citizen, and I'm happy about that. I'm excited about a new Chris Roberts game, and I like supporting crowd funded games that take the open development model seriously. I feel that Star Citizen is doing a pretty good job in this regard, and hey, I'm having fun with the game as it is today.

glasseye - 2015-03-14

And this video is pretty out of date... SC just passed million in funding, and "Arena Commander" has been out for months now, including multiplayer and coop modes. Ships are steadily being made flight worthy, the FPS module is launching in a few weeks, and multicrew ships will be launching in a few months. The first set of missions for the single player campaign is slotted for the end of the year, we'll see if they hit that.

Their schedules have slipped a bit a few times, but what they've been putting out has been very good, IMO.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-15

Like I said the whole engine is designed for making crysis and farcry games, or games like them, ie. a game in which you are a humanoid running around some kind of terrain a few kilometres across. If you wanna do something else (like fly spaceships in space) you will run into problems. One example I can think of is that occlusion culling is a big priority in cryengine. Oculssion culling is deciding not to bother trying to render something because it is being blocked by something else. In a space game, where you should have vast areas 1000's of kilometres across with relatively tiny spaceships floating about in them and little else doing those occlusion calculations is a massive waste because stuff is very rarely going to occlude other stuff. Another big issue that springs to mind is that of scale, a space game engine should be dealing with vast vast almost empty, an fps engine like cryengine is dealing with small detailed areas like rooms, the upshot of this is the world in star citizen is limited to 8 kilometres across, not exactly great for a space game! The thing is, if the game is primarily about flying ships in space (like wing commander, privateer, freespace) they should have chosen or built their engine in orde rto be able to to that well, its trivial to implement some fps mechanics later. Also cloud imperiums "solution" to this 8k play space limit is to hack cryengine to allow 64 bit double precision floats to be used for all the world coordinates. This hasnt been done yet, or tested and will certainly cause a lot of issue with lots if hardware, especially gpus and even if/ when it does work it will make all calculations orders of magnitude more processor intensive. If they have to guy cryengine and make such radical changes why are they even using it? Contrast this to the kerbal space program team, they used unity and they were smart, they designed their game so that you can have a play space as big as a solar system and also have great level of detail in the ships while using while still using normal floats. It seems like cloud imperium never thought any technical issues through or planned anything technical.

Mr. Purple Cat Esq. - 2015-03-15

typo: gut not guy

Architeuthis Tux - 2015-03-15

Mr. Purple Cat: sure thing! I sent you a friend invite in Elite -- Bushmill-Jameson III.

Potrod - 2015-03-16

Fair enough, thanks for explaining.

blue vein steel - 2015-03-14

So the Star Citizen instal will apparently be 100+ gigabytes, on mythical day that it's actually released (i.e. Chris Roberts has bought enough Ferraris)

Oscar Wildcat - 2015-03-14

five star fraud, that. You might call it "The MySpace Age".

Old_Zircon - 2015-03-14

Imagine the amount of experimental data about emergent economic and political systems the companies that run these MMOs have gathered.

The Mothership - 2015-03-14

For real, this is interesting stuff and it will take awhile for the scholars to make good use of it.

SolRo - 2015-03-14

because people are paying that.

EvilHomer - 2015-03-14

They aren't paying that. Watch the video, Scott explains.

StanleyPain - 2015-03-14

My least favorite thing about any kind of remotely MMO-esque game is the shitty player economy where people just come up with weird arbitrary values for things and people are dumb enough to just go with it.

I remember back when I used to play PSU (which is totally shut down now) people were charging such ludicrous sums of money for some of the most amazing bullshit that Sega had to actually invent a new form of currency container (the gold bar) because the prices were actually going over what the game could comprehend and keep track of properly.

SolRo - 2015-03-14

They're not all shitty, just the ones that have no or poorly thought out ways for the economy to naturally destroy the money that is endlessly generated.

Things with a high rental cost, like houses, for example.

Otherwise it's just endless inflation.

Monkey Napoleon - 2015-03-15

It's a tough thing to implement properly. Gold sinks don't work really well. If they're balanced toward the richer players, people who don't multi-client bot grind 20 hours a day (justifiably) feel like they're missing content.

I've never seen a non fucked up MMO economy a decent interval out from launch that wasn't inextricably tied to RL money in one direction only.

SolRo - 2015-03-15

DAoC was pretty good.

the housing was the main sink and it worked for getting both rich and regular players involved because you could rent a small house or if you're a power player you could go for the mansion and add on all types of rented NPCs and storage containers.

Plus it had equipment decay and variable crafting, so equipment eventually had to be replaced.

glasseye - 2015-03-15

The infinite diamond seals exploit totally ruined the economy on my DAoC server. The hibs locked down access to DF, and were totally unstoppable once they had effectively infinite money.

One guy had an entire account filled with mules, each of which had their entire inventories filled with maxed out stacks of diamond seals.

Chancho - 2015-03-14


Nominal - 2015-03-15

The EVE economy converts in game currency to real currency by taking what a single player can make in a month with vanilla PVE grinding, let's call that X, and say that X space bucks are worth the of the one month subscription fee (or of a one month subscription you can actually sell for game currency).

So when they say the largest ships in that game cost 00, they really mean it took 267 player months of grinding to purchase it.

My most glorious EVE moment was ambushing crap on a shipping corridor and stumbling across a group of haulers; unarmed cargo ships. I blow them up and discover they were carrying loads worth roughly 2 player months of grinding. In my mind, I just undid 2 entire months of some poopsocker's grinding and his imagined tears brought me joy.

SolRo - 2015-03-15

The EVE currency is set to whatever the market will pay AFAIK, like all other game time token currencies.

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