We are now firmly entrenched in the second decade of Star citizen‘s crowdfunding-driven development. And while backers can currently play a minimally functional alpha (still missing many promised features), there’s still no sign of even a fully playable beta in sight.
Don’t worry – that situation hasn’t stopped developer Roberts Space Industries (RSI) from finding new and interesting ways to break the game.
Star citizen‘s current issues revolve around this week’s rollout of the Alpha 3.18 “Lasting Legacies” update, which RSI is touting as “the biggest Star Citizen update yet.”
In addition to graphics and physics updates, new ship rescue gameplay, and a handful of new combat missions, the update also introduces the game’s long-promised “Persistent Entity Streaming” technology, which allows objects to stay where you put them even after you leave them . a server shard.
Unfortunately Star citizen servers were not ready for the huge interest in the update from many of the 4.4 million backers who have funded the game so far. Just a few hours after the update rolled out last Friday, RSI reported that “due to the high volume of traffic related to the launch of Star citizen Alpha 3.18.0, RSI Launcher may become unresponsive.”
After some initial work to “remediate the issue,” RSI reported on Sunday that the game was still in a “slow/non-responsive state” and warned that “players will experience periods of extreme difficulty getting into (persistent universe).” On Monday, the RSI team upgraded the issue from a “minor outage” to a “major outage” before reporting “increasing error rates” later that day.
This led to the game being shut down for a few hours of “live service maintenance” on Tuesday “while the team carry out a number of changes to the PES infrastructure to help mitigate the issues over the weekend.” As of Thursday, the RSI says the “new infrastructure is trending in the right direction” despite “periodic waves of volatility.”
“There were quite a few changes made to the way the game handles certain things and this is part of the growing pains as all our players come to see the new things added in the 3.18 patch,” RSI wrote in a Knowledge Base – update. “At the moment it appears that this is due to extreme server load, so it may take some time for things to be resolved.”
“We apologize for the super rough start,” RSI tweeted Sunday. “Our team is all hands on deck working to get things running smoothly as quickly as possible. We’ll keep you updated!”
We are still waiting
Of course, these kinds of server load issues are far from uncommon in the gaming world. And the server-melting interest in this latest update can be seen as a positive sign that many of the game’s patient backers are still interested in the game.
Still, it’s striking to see such growing pains after more than a full decade of active development on the ambitious space sim. We also have to wonder how much of Star citizen‘s $555 million in crowdfunding so far – including tens of millions of dollars in the last six months – is going towards buying and maintaining the newly overloaded servers.
These server issues echo our 2012 report on the game’s funding, which noted that “initial interest in (Star citizen) was so high that it overwhelmed Roberts’ servers and brought the site’s proprietary crowdfunding solution down for a few days.”
Issues aside, this latest update actually brings us significantly closer to an actual release date for Star citizen? Well, after rolling out a new development roadmap back in 2020 (no, that’s not a typo), RSI scaled back the specificity of its feature release date targets last year. At the time, RSI said these timeline specifications were a “distraction” that caused some players to treat “projections as promises.”
“Star citizen is not a sprint; it’s not even a marathon,” RSI founder Chris Roberts said back in 2015, dismissing accusations that “feature creep” was slowing the game’s path to a final release. “There’s no final finish line that you want . a traditional retail game. Star citizen is a way of life as long as society is engaged by it.”
List image of RSI