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Star Citizen Delays – Where’s My 890 Jump?

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, we are moving towards the end of August and we still do not have the Alpha 3.6.x interim patch, I wanted to talk about delays, the Roadmap & Where is my 3.6.x and my 890 Jump.

Alpha 3.6.x is supposed to contain the Origin 890 Jump and the Ship Rentals Feature, though there could be other QoL Updates with it too.

Alpha 3.6 saw delays to it’s LIVE release and it had various issues that required a 3.6.1 patch that has since been deployed. 3.6.1 is far from bug & issue free though.

Bounty Hunter Missions not spawning the target is the most egregious bug for me.

That said the 3.6.1 build is actually incredibly stable at least for me with great frame rates and I think I have crashed once… maybe… That’s pretty good.

However Alpha 3.7 is supposed to be released to LIVE in 6 weeks. Now CIG obviously Historically delay patches if they aren’t ready or have blockers prefering to keep them on the PTU until in a “better” state.

That however means there is very little time to get that 3.6.x patch out, I mean it’s not even with the Evocati. It’s possible that the turn around from testing to live for a relatively minor patch could be extremely quick tho.

Another thing to consider here as well is how the game & dev branches work.

When CIG are preparing an update like 3.6 for example they break off all the features and content they want from the main dev branch which contains everything that’s being worked on for SC & SQ42 in whatever state it’s in BUT just the features that are required for a patch are broken off, worked on, they get the features into a state that then goes to evocati.

There are more interaction and fixes, it goes out to waves of backers for more testing and then out to live. Once a game branch is released to LIVE it might receive a minor patch or hotfixes BUT the idea is that all of the work done on these branches is then reabsorbed into the main dev branch before they then split the features off for the next patch cycle… in this case 3.7. This process typically takes a few weeks, though with CIGs tooling and experience with it they may of streamlined this a bit more.

One of the problems that we saw with 3.6 was that they decided to break more features off into an interim 3.6.x patch, rather than delaying them to 3.7.

The game branches do not preclude CIG working on later features & other ships BUT the whole process works better as far as i am aware when CIG are not working on minor and .x patches as they have more time to dedicate to the next major build rather than having to branch and re-absorb smaller patches & fixes constantly. 

The 890 Jump is currently sitting at 191 of 251 tasks completed. That’s 60 tasks yet to be complete. Conversely Ship Rentals have 1 of 2 tasks completed. When it comes to what these tasks are, they can be as small as a prop needing completion, a lighting pass of a room, it’s dependant on the individual ship or feature though. It’s one of more annoying things about the Roadmap, the tasks listed for feature could be massive or incredibly minor, there isn’t much of an indication.

Recently CIG confirmed that they are still planning on getting the 3.6.x patch out. I suspect that is planned for the end of the August. I think that some people would have preferred a more stable time frame for the patch even if that meant this being rolled into 3.7, for me it’s about communication, just tell us at the earliest possible stage about changes to the roadmap and where the near future features are from week to week, if that changes, no problem.

One of the issues CIG has is that the Roadmaps are a double edged sword. It shows off what CIG have planned for the next few months in forms of releases & progress, with the Squadron 42 roadmap being a full roadmap to completion that doesn’t require a release every 3 months, Star Citizen’s PU is only for the next few releases and as it’s a Live Alpha Product when things get moved or delayed it’s much more obvious and apparent.

I’d like to go over the Roadmap caveats that were updated a while ago, what CIG recognise as what the roadmaps should reflect, the development goals & the differences with Squadron 42s – in the words of CIG:

Feature Driven – While the Persistent Universe has shifted to a milestone driven schedule of quarterly installments and we are happy to showcase “work in progress” to our community, the focus for Squadron 42 is to deliver an experience that contains both the narrative and feature scope we envision in one final game. As such, Squadron 42 will only be released when we have achieved our final, polished, creative vision. If there is any slip in our quarterly goals, this will push out for the project’s end date.

Feature Complexity – As Squadron 42 is a single player experience, the complexity of some features can be simpler than on the Persistent Universe, where additional considerations need to be made to ensure a fun multiplayer experience; this means that a Squadron 42 feature may complete sooner or have less development tasks than its counterpart on the Persistent Universe roadmap.

Quality will always be our number one goal – When we initially set out on this journey we looked out at the gaming landscape and asked: can we do better? We continue to ask that question about everything we do. As a result, we will ALWAYS extend timelines or re-do features and content if we do not feel they are up to our standards. The freedom to fight for a new level of quality in game development is what crowdfunding has allowed us to do, and we will continue to fight to make sure Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are the best possible games they can be.

This roadmap focuses on big features, but is not fully exhaustive. – There are a lot of behind-the-scenes work and smaller tasks that will be happening as well as on-going improvements to existing features. This is also not intended to be a final list, there will potentially be additional features added down the line and features may shift in their projected release.

The roadmap data is pulled directly from the internal project management database.

In the spirit of transparency, the data found on this page is pulled directly from JIRA, our internal database that we are using to plan and manage the project. Feature progress and release plans will be updated here in an automated fashion, once per week.

Future work estimates are just that: estimates. – All estimates are based on our knowledge and experience but there are many aspects of game development that are impossible to predict because they literally cover uncharted territory. You will see the same estimates we use in our internal planning, but it is important to understand that in many cases (especially with groundbreaking engineering tasks) these estimates are often subject to change due to unforeseen complexity in implementing features.

Internal schedules, the ones you will now be privy to, tend to have aggressive dates.

This helps to help the team focus and scope their tasks, especially in the case of tech development. Every team needs target dates, so you may see dates adjust when we get more accurate information and understanding of what’s needed to be completed.

The polish phase is always hard to estimate, increasingly so in online and multiplayer situations – The complexity and the difficulty in testing at a large scale make it harder to reproduce and isolate bugs to fix them. We base our estimates, again, on our experience, but we also know that it’s possible for a single bug to cause a delay of days or weeks when a hundred others might be fixed instantly.

This roadmap doesn’t cover everything being worked on across Cloud Imperium Games – The roadmap is meant to highlight our aims for the remainder of the year on the Persistent Universe. Although technology is shared between the two games, this does not currently reflect the Squadron 42 roadmap.

There is something else to consider beyond this for the roadmap and it’s Staffing. CIG are still filling jobs they have over 550 (pushing towards 600) employees across their studios, not all of those are devs though. There were around 110 jobs listed on the Cloud Imperium Games Website, that’s now down to 80, these range from Concierge Customer Service to Day Porters to System Designers to AI Coders & much more.

Also they have previously said that the roadmap especially the mid to long term goals are dependant on them having appropriate staff positions filled. I assume that’s not all jobs being filled though just a proportion.

So where is your 890 Jump and 3.6.x, well it’s waiting for 60 tasks to be completed & is most likely imo, going to be in your hands at the end of August BUT future patches CIG will want to try and meet their date driven schedule as much as possible, so expect to see less interim patches planned like the mythical 3.6.x, with features that slip moving to the next major patch.

That said I think we might see CitizenCon’s having minor or interim patches. As I expect ship releases and in game events will happen around that time, that said these won’t be listed on the roadmap. Squadron 42’s momentum towards completion and getting the core mechanics & engine improvements in Star Citizen’s PU will also be extremely useful for a more focused development of the game in the future, that said Squadron 42 really needs to be a good game & to get a release date in the not too distant future, it’s going to be the first full product CIG put out and proves whether they have the vision and tools to make good games.