Welcome to some more Star Citizen today I wanted to discuss Star Citizen’s Patch Development Cycle, Feature Vs Date Driven Roadmaps & Releases. Why Star Citizen Devs Choose Certain Paths that can commonly cause Delays & what it means for the Games Star Citizen & Squadron 42.
Star Citizen’s release schedule is planned at releasing a Major Patch every 3 months.
At the end of March, June, September & December.
There are some changes they made to this, the September Patch last year was moved to Coincide with CitizenCon so it was October 10th where it landed, this year 2019 it’s a bit more confused of whether a patch will go out end of September OR get held back for CitizenCon which is later in the year on the 23rd of November. The December Patch typically is mid December and goes LIVE hopefully before the studios close for the Holidays.
And that seems to be the plans for Star Citizen going forward 4 major patches a Year HOWEVER those aims for dates are sometimes delayed, for example Alpha 3.6 is still in PTU and yet to go LIVE over 2 weeks past it’s planned deadline of the end of June.
Delays are something that most stalwart backers of Star Citizen are used to, also a few weeks delay is relatively a drop in the ocean, it’s not a big deal BUT it does beg the question, should they “catch their breath” with a Patch? Should they more aggressively cull features, pushing them to the next patch so that they make the end of quarter dates without delays.
Or should they even go back to feature based patches?
Realistically what happens with CIG and Star Citizen seems to be they have plans to release a patch every 3 months, but sometimes they just need a bit longer for testing or to finish off a feature for it and that is fine.
But they also push items back like with the 890 Jump and Ship Rentals to 3.6.x & push others to the next patch and take longer on a patch to get certain features done.
Again with the Roadmap, the Squadron 42 Episode 1 is really good, features don’t move off it, it lists roadmap to completion of the games feature complete beta. There might be delays in features and the Roadmap could realistically get pushed back a Q or 2 BUT it’s a reasonably thorough Roadmap to completion.
Star Citizen’s PU Roadmap is another story & that’s party because it’s gameplay and features that are going to be in our hands potentially in the next quarter BUT also because of the way things move from it & how often it changes.
Alpha 3.6 was originally hugely different from what it’s feature set is now & it’s true of every single patch that’s been listed on the Roadmap, features get added, split apart, moved to later patches, sometimes with features like Land Claim Gameplay, entirely removed from the current Roadmap.
The PU has a lot more features to complete that SQ42 and it’s development is going to span many more years. Features on the Roadmap get rescheduled after every major release to some extent WITH a larger replanning in January and as a patch moved closer to release often features get pushed back to another patch OR they reprioritize major features like Land Claims, Repair and more to later dates.
More recently this year and for at least another year to come the focus will be on Squadron 42 Episode 1 and common features that are transferable to the PU.
There will be some PU specific features, gameplay area and components too BUT the focus is their first finished product. Squadron does also represent an important core of the Game & will show whether CIG have the ability and vision to create the games that they said they would.
I am incredibly excited for CitizenCon 2019 this year for a number of reasons…
if the Roadmap is to be believed then it’s about the time they would want to start creating hype for a Squadron 42 Launch. That’s very much a me hyping myself though.
But I feel Star Citizen over the last 2 years has started to really start to put some flesh on the bones of it’s game & improved a lot of their processes.
Development is slow BUT extremely transparent, it’s this transparency that is the double edged sword…
CIG want to show that there game has made progress along with roadmap updates and weekly videos, they also want backers playing new things, this has led to a lot of reworking and iteration on features and ships that then get reworked again later for patches, it also is one of the causes of large sweeping changes to the roadmap and repriorizations.
Even CitizenCon (what they plan to show) affects the plans of what will be worked on feature wise in the proximate patches.
But the movement of features and delays causes disappointment after initially causing a lot of hype.
We also have Star Citizen at a state that requires them to get SSOCS & Full Persistence in game ASAP to make more progress on Gameplay area, get more players in the game, to have meaningful progression, and then after that Server Meshing which is one of the major blockers to the game being a true MMO in the future.
They are obviously working on those features BUT not having them completed in a timely fashion would have knock on effects to other features they want to get into the game.
So it’s very possible that some Star Citizen Patches in the future will be feature driven rather than date driven… at least until they have Server Meshing done BUT it’s quite possible that CIG will become more aggressive at pushing features back and reprioritizing when something isn’t ready & just release what is ready for date driven releases.
There is an argument to be made that Date Driven releases have caused an overall slowdown of development as they require a focus on certain features for the short term and reoptimization and balance each patch.
Conversely Feature Driven Patches make the development feel very slow and can leave players with nothing new for a long time.
Whatever the case is, over the last 2 years development has certainly sped up significantly, Roadmaps are much more accurate than previously, though still have big changes constantly & Star Citizen is getting more feature full. I am very much in the opinion that Star Citizen has a lot of potential to be an amazing game & I love participating in the Alpha Phase knowing it’s pitfalls and frustrations.
Delays with some Star Citizen Features on the Roadmap is guaranteed & for me if CIG are able to update us at the earliest possible stage that features are getting added or pushed back then that is good enough for me, as long as the information they give us is their accurate genuine plan at the time and realistic.
In fact I think it would be very useful to have a full list of Star Citizen Features mapping out rough plans for completion and where they roughly see priorities.
As a very quick side note, I find it a little odd that they have items planned that are not on the Roadmap that also fall within the next few patches, these features or ships are there to surprize and create hype… something I would actually rather just be told about when it comes to features HOWEVER mission endings and Easter Eggs I can understand, hidden crash sites that sort of thing, BUT with Features and Ships, not so much… Keep the secrets for Squadron 42’s Campaign… That’s just me though, I understand not everyone enjoys having all the info thrown at them… I mean I used to play EvE so maybe it’s the part of me that has no joy and enjoys spreadsheets..