In Space, No One Can Hear You Threaten Lawsuits

I like computer games, and I like defamation law, but when the two collide the result is never your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter goodness. Whether it's flailing developers or consumer movements apparently schooled in jurisprudence via a distracting hand gesture and a shovel, game culture makes bad legal culture.

This story is not a departure from that trend.

Star Citizen is an ambitious crowdfunded space sim under (lengthy) development. Like many highly anticipated games, it has fanatical devotees and critics. Recently it drew the unwanted attention of Derek Smart, a name familiar to old gamers like me.

Who is Derek Smart? He's the Orly Taitz of computer gaming. He's a game developer — technically — and a career lawsuit-threatening troll. His team of lawyers is like a fundamentalist preacher's God: they're frequently invoked to terrify, but their existence mostly taken on faith. He's a multi-millionaire, apparently, but then so are Carrot Top and that awful TV woman with the eight cute kids. It's been a long time in American culture since self-made wealth signified someone to be taken seriously.

Anyway, hearing of crowdfunder complaints about the awaited Star Citizen, Smart criticized it. He invoked his vast experience in having produced the Howard The Duck, the Edsel, the New Coke of space sims, a monstrosity called Battlecruiser 3000AD, which is distinguishable from a computer virus in that it was promoted more douchilly. When Star Citizens' developers failed to respond with the adulation to which he is entitled under natural law, Smart characteristically waded in with extravagant and self-promoting lawsuit threats. Smart styled himself a crusading consumer advocate, which would be an apt label if Ralph Nader had appeared before Congress and said "Mr. Chairman, these vehicles are unsafe at any speed. And now, I invite Congress to admire my balls. RELEASE THE LAWYERS."

Controversy and flamboyant figures mean clicks, and gaming-website The Escapist wanted some of that action. They published a hit piece portraying Cloud Imperium Games (developers of Star Citizen) as awful employers driving a doomed project, and sourced it to both unnamed and anonymous sources.

Chris Roberts, CEO of Cloud Imperium, responded by posting a five-page legal threat from his "Co-Founder, Vice-President, and General Counsel" Ortwin Freyermuth, a California lawyer. Mr. Feyermuth argues rather convincingly that Escapist has become the tool of some unnamed evil (Smart, one assumes) and has seriously wronged the company by (for instance) not grasping that more than one person can tell the same lie at once, and by taking a blacked-out ID card as proof that a "source" works for a company that does not, technically, use ID cards.

If he had stuck with the factual refutation, Mr. Freyermuth would have done well. But he had to go and (sort of) act like a lawyer. His letter is full of quasi-legal references, has a closing threat to file suit in both America and the United Kingdom, and includes a cc: to two lawyers. And so Mr. Freyermuth stepped in it.

Freyermuth is a founder, Vice-President, and in-house lawyer. He's a fact witness to what's going on at Cloud Imperium. When he writes a five-page semi-legal rant, he's just creating cross-examination fodder. Moreover, "look, I am referencing lawyers, and even cc'd them" doesn't convince anyone who knows how litigation works. If competent outside litigators are substantively involved, they write the threat letter, not the personally-involved fact-witness client. "Do what I want or I'll bring in our outside counsel" and "look at me cc'ing lawyers" is the "my brother will beat you up" of the business world. Freyermuth cc'd the head of the Litigation Department in the Los Angeles office of Cooley LLP, an 800-lawyer firm. Dropping his name signifies that (a) he's citing a big scary lawyer to seem serious even though the lawyer is not substantively involved, so he should not be taken seriously, or (b) the head of LA litigation for Cooley is involved, but has no client control whatsoever because his client is writing five-page rants, which means the client is not to be taken seriously, plus (c) if Cooley is actually involved it signifies that Cloud Imperium is going to spend a truly stupid amount of money to pursue a defamation case against a hit piece that doesn't actually impact its core function, right at the time that it's fighting rumors that it is in financial trouble. So: some messaging issues.

If you know what you're doing, you bring in the litigators before you start running your mouth. The litigator is there to tell you, in the most supportive and affirming way possible, to shut the fuck up. That way your CEO and key fact witness isn't writing long, angry emails about the facts of the situation, probably getting some of them wrong and probably saying things the legal significance of which he doesn't know. It's not easy to tell the CEO to shut up and stop writing things if you're his underling. Some people get to be CEO by having a Trumpian level of self-regard that makes Derek Smart look like Dobby the House Elf. If you're a sensible GC, you use your outside litigator as the bad cop to control your difficult executive. That way your executive doesn't do don't-take-me-seriously things like post angry messages referring to written statements as "slanderous."

Plus, while Freyermuth makes a fairly convincing case that the Escapist was gullible, that's not the relevant standard. The company, and Chris Roberts, are almost certainly public figures, or at least limited-purpose public figures in the gaming world. That means they'd have to prove actual malice to win a defamation case. Constitutional "actual malice" doesn't mean ill-will, as Freyermuth's letter seems to imply. It means knowledge that the statement is false, or reckless disregard for the truth — that is, publishing despite serious doubts about its truth. Cloud Imperium isn't going to satisfy that standard.

Finally, the threat to sue in the United Kingdom is an empty one unless the Escapist has assets there. It's much easier to get a defamation judgment in the UK, but fortunately under the SPEECH Act such judgments aren't enforceable in America unless the plaintiff's case satisfies the requirements of American law — which it won't.

Look, Cloud Imperium, here's some free advice: leave the next-I-call-my-lawyers routine for Derek Smart. Stick to factual refutations without legal bluster, or else shut up and get your scary lawyer to write the letter. The middle ground makes you look foolish.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. CheshireLion says

    No idea any of that was even going on. I stay away from most gaming news sites. Still learned something new out of this. Thanks for a good read.

  2. JanderPanell says

    Apropo to nothing …. I love the fact that "Ortwin Sam Freyermuth" is an anagram for "Freshmen Armoury Twit", amongst many MANY other things.

  3. Maximillian says

    If you know what you're doing, you bring in the litigators before you start running your mouth.

    Oh, Ken, you sweet summer child…

  4. Guy says

    Correction to article above. There were 7 sources.
    6 identified by name and verified using their face and name.
    1 identified by a card who's authenticity rsI refutes but also pay stubs
    Why you'd call it a hit piece is beyond me

  5. Am I Alice says

    I think you sum it up perfectly when you say "If he had stuck with the factual refutation, Mr. Freyermuth would have done well. But he had to go and (sort of) act like a lawyer."

    I wasn't following Star Citizen (I'm more interested in The Mandate) and payed only a little attention to Derik Smart for amusement value.

    The Escapist published a follow up explaining how they verified the identities of their sources. It sounds like they did due diligence and if they were fooled, they were fooled by a carefully planned nine person scam. No shame in being beaten by something like that. They should have ginen Cloud Imperium more time to respond but still:

    If Cloud Imperium Games' reply simply refuted the facts it would be a he said she said with no serious evidence either way. However the accusations spoke at length about Chris Roberts' personality and management style; and now we have direct evidence about Chris' personality and management style: His reply. The evidence is against him.

    Hopefully I'm wrong because there's a lot of invested fans, and some very invested fans, who don't deserve to be let down – not to mention the knock on effect it might have for other games.

  6. says

    If memory serves the escapist was sourcing anonymous company reviews off of Glassdoor.

    The entire fiasco is peepled with bumbling idiots on all sides.

  7. Am I Alice says


    You said that the SPEECH act protects the Escapist from the UK's libel laws. I was doing a bit if independant reeding and it looks like the UK's Defamation Act 2013 also protects the Escapist since it requires Cloud Imperium to demonstrate that the UK is the most appropriate venue to hear the case.

    However I'm not a lawyer and have no legal knowledge. What's your take on this?

  8. B says


    Your memory serves you wrong. The Escapist claims their legal team vetted all their sources. Now I could believe that they perhaps messed up on one or two sources but all 9 seems unlikely. Perhaps you think they're lying, personally I think that'd be a pretty stupid thing to print outright lies. Most likely the employees anonymously posted to glassdoor then got in touch with the Escapist to verify their stories

  9. Toastrider says

    But it's entertaining though. And I admit, I do wonder how Star Citizen has managed to burn through eighty MILLION dollars in crowdsourcing without an full on release. I'm getting flashbacks to Duke Nukem Forever and Daikatana here.

    Meanwhile, Harebrained Schemes is on their fourth Kickstarter, with three successful ones under the belt. The latest is a turn based Battletech game, a throwback to the good ol' tabletop days.

  10. says

    A millionaire eh? I didn't realize 'the gaming industries longest running troll' was such a lucrative position.

    This all makes much sense if the players in this drama are just following a script somebody else wrote. The only interesting question is whether Chris Roberts is paying them, or Electronic Arts is.

    I guess I should add, I'm an SC backer.

  11. MarkTheSnark says

    I started reading this thinking, "Ken is going to represent Derek Smart", BUY POPCORN FUTURES!

    Remember, legend has it that if we say his name three times he will appear.

  12. says

    Slightly biased here, as I run a Star Citizen news site, but I've been wondering. (also correct me on legal things I'm wrong on, I'm from Canada, and only have a law undergrad, so I know next to nothing)

    I feel like CIG might actually just be trying to get discovery out of this? If The Escapist backs down and meets their demands, they get an independent investigation into some of the quite frankly disgusting claims made by the escapist (Can you, without any 'sources', claim that someone's a bigoted racist, and get away with it?)

    If The Escapist don't back down, and CIG takes this to court (either in the U.S. or the U.K.) can they not somehow get more information about where these 'sources' came from?

    And about how much of it, exactly, came from Mr. Derek Smart (who doxxed Chris Roberts' 7 year old daughter)?

    Anyway, I'll stop yammering now.


  13. QHStone says


    No idea any of that was even going on. I stay away from most gaming news sites. Still learned something new out of this. Thanks for a good read.

    Not mentioned above, but this situation also ties into the whole Gamergate fiasco. The Escapist author Lizzy Finnegan (@LizzyF) was an ardent Gamergate supporter until she reported that her family doxed and she was no longer going to talk about Gamergate. But her history with Gamergate lead to her (and others) being hired by the head of The Escapist when he decided to retool his site to appeal to the Gamergate crowd.

    Derek Smart attended August's Gamergate-focused SPJ "Airplay" event as a "neutral developer" panelist, though spoke supportingly of the movement. 10 days ago he threw an epic 2-day tantrum over a pair of tweets from Gamergate critic Randi Harper, including sending her legal threats. Smart was quick to tell his sob story to prolific gaters on Twitter and they were just as quick to support him against that mean mean Harper. In the end, Smart declared that the imaginary abuse had pushed him over to the Gamergate camp.

    Five days after that, The Escapist and Finnegan came out with their second article based on Smart's war on Star Citizen. This is the one full of anonymous sources with accusations of mismanagement, embezzlement, and illegal discrimination.

  14. falling faster says

    I think this is a little unfair to The Escapist. Unnamed and anonymous implies they were all anonymous, but only one out of 9 was anonymous and they confirmed that person was an employee and not some random person off the internet. So they had nine verified sources, including two current employees, this seems like a reasonable level of sourcing. They also had two additional anonymous sources that they didn't quote but were consistent with the others. Now obviously ex-employees and unhappy current employees are not objective and have their own agendas. The commonalities in the stories could reflect common office gossip and hearsay or active collusion between the sources (the latter seems unlikely but possible). They should of tried harder to get a response from Chris Robert- this was prbly the biggest journalistic error in the story.

    The central claim of the article that Space Citizen is being mismanaged and it is unlikely that a game anywhere close to what was promised will be produced given the present management and resources. This is eminently testable, either the game of the promoted scope comes out in a reasonable period time or it does not. I leave it to people that know more than me to decide what the promised scope and reasonable time frame might be.

  15. makomk says

    The Glassdoor allegation is kind of astounding, actually. I took a look at the evidence people were basing it on, and it's worthless. The only quotes that are both in a Glassdoor review and the interview were quoting something they allege a CIG executive said. As far as I or anyone else has been able to find, none of the things the sources said in their own words are on Glassdoor – they're not in the screenshots or archives taken as proof, they're not on the live site, they're just plain not there. The closest anyone's found is that a Glassdoor review described CIG as "the most toxic work environment ever" and a source is quoted as saying "it was by far the most toxic environment I have ever worked in", and that the article and Glassdoor reviews have some similar complaints about the working environment. That's it.

  16. masterblaster says


    I'm sceptical that posting a photo publicly accessible on really qualifies as doxxing.

  17. says


    I'm sceptical that posting a photo publicly accessible on really qualifies as doxxing.

    By releasing non-public info (that Sandi and Chris are in fact married) and by then posting the image of Sandi's daughter, he's actually revealing non-public information about the girl, namely who she is, who her parents are, and opening her to the world for harassment.

    It's not the picture that's doxxing, it's the information.

  18. Kyle says

    @Am I Alice I'm of a similar mind to you. So much of the article detailed what a horrible manager Chris Roberts was, quick to fly into a rage and make things personal. He responded to those allegations by flying into a rage, posting a 12 page rant, and personally attacking the reporter.

    Other parts of the article detailed how everyone is afraid to stand up to Chris Roberts when he has a bad idea. I think his bizarre counter attacking rant doesn't exactly disprove this either.

    Personally, I've avoided Star Citizen from the beginning. The rapidly expanding and nebulous promises in the Kickstarter made the whole thing sound like an impossible project trying to be all things to all people. Plus their bizarre crowdfunding model, where you pay hundreds of dollars for a ship, and then need to pay for "insurance" for said ship so you don't just lose it when it gets blown up. They also have a monthly newsletter you can pay for with exclusive development updates?

    Everything about that funding model sets off red flags to me. Especially coming from "The most successful crowdfunded game of all time".

    Maybe my read on the project is wrong. It's largely my gut talking. But the whole project just doesn't smell right.

  19. ChrisH says

    Uuugh. To be honest I've been a tad suspicious about RSI/CI's business model since way before I'd even heard of Derek Smart! They've managed to miss a lot of deadlines – and before anyone says anything, I'm aware that scope massively changed during the funding phase, but as it did then the deadlines should have been significantly pushed back too. CI was spun up very quickly, and Roberts needs to be a strong CEO to keep on top of it, not just an ideas man. Not sure that he is. And their funding model? I don't even want to go into that…

    The Escapist piece? Not sure that it was a hit piece, what do they gain from it if they're fabricating? Ditto sloppy journalism (although I have read better written pieces, true). There are ~1 million people who have put money into SC, and the most vocal supporters come across as not the most stable people on the planet. With that potential readership base, Escapist could lose whatever reputation that they may have.

    Robert's response to the article was interesting, shall I say. Ranting about Derek Smart (who wasn't mentioned) and making a number of attacks on the journo wasn't entirely professional.

    I'm glad that I didn't put any money into it. Never got in to Wing Commander or Roberts earlier games, but that's beside the point. The scope of the game, I'd say, requires 5-7 years of development or so (going by other major releases). This wouldn't worry me apart from one thing: CI is a new studio without any form of backing except "donations" from the public. Much as the whole publisher model may suck, it does mean that there is external pressure on the studio to deliver, plus consumers aren't at risk.

    If this goes tits-up there will be repercussions throughout the gaming industry, especially when it comes to crowdfunding. I really hope that no-one gets burned but I have a horrible feeling that I'll be thinking "told you so" when all these folks who are thousands of dollars deep don't get the game that they expected.

  20. ChrisH says

    @David – Sandi & Chris's relationship status is definitely relevant to the situation (if boss's wife is de-facto HR chief then the conflict of interest re: personnel issues could be huge), but any stuff re: children is not cool.

  21. Lol, Derek Smart says

    Not strictly on the topic of the legality of anyone's claims here, but The Escapist should track down Derek Smart's devs and ask when they last missed a paycheck they expected to receive. Because you could pretty easily plug the name of any of Smart's projects into that Star Citizen article and it would be accurate.

  22. TimH says

    @David re doxxing
    Marriages and births are recorded by the state, so are public records.

    So the doxxing was actually an issue of publicising publicly available data, rather than very private secrets.

  23. Dan Weber says

    Can you, without any 'sources', claim that someone's a bigoted racist, and get away with it?

    From reading what Ken has posted: yes, absolutely.

    Here, I'll do it: You, sir or madame, are a horrible racist.

    See? It's easy to do. It's also clearly opinion.

    People will post nasty opinions about you on the Internet. If you get bent out of shape each time someone does it, you're gonna have a bad time.

  24. Wide And Nerdy says

    "He's a multi-millionaire, apparently, but then so are Carrot Top and that awful TV woman with the eight cute kids."

    Ugh. So what do we take seriously Popehat? Snarky copy? At least they're rich and famous for having actually done things. We have a whole new breed of celebrity now who is famous solely for being attractive and having rich parents. Hilton and Kardashian actually make me thankful for Carrot Top.

  25. Dan says

    I dream of the day I will be noteworthy enough for someone to call me the "Orly Taitz" of something.

    Wait… Those are nightmares. Never mind.

  26. Andy says

    Also on the point of malice, I accept that it would be difficult to prove, but it sure looks like the Star Citizen guys believe it was malicious. This could be because it was, or it could be because they overestimate the intelligence of the escapist's staff.

  27. C. S. P. Schofield says

    Is it awful of me that I read "Derek Smart" as "Drek Smart" the first time through? And consider it fair, from context?

  28. says

    Wide And Nerdy,

    I'll grant you Hilton; she's phantasmagorically unattractive, has not talent for acting (or anything else), and comes across as having a negative IQ (though she seems to be smart enough to make herself a brand and make a living off it).

    The Kardashians are famous for having some of the most spectacular rear ends in captivity. Why they aren't porn stars instead of celebrities baffles me, I admit, but they have at least as much un-inherited right to their fame as, say, General Tom Thumb.

  29. Dave says

    The amount of silliness and misinformation around this astounding:

    – The ID card thing…Escapist says they used paystubs and linkedin to help verify. Only one person tried to verify with a HID card. This ID card argument is weak.
    – Glassdoor…Escapists says they didn't use that and they posts were made after the Escapist talked to the ex-employees. Again this is nothing.
    – Chris Robert's long response tries to drag Gamergate into this however Lizzy quit Gamergate many months ago after her parents and children were doxxed and threatened by trolls and/or anti-GamerGate. Lizzy was employed by the Escapist after leaving GamerGate. GaterGate doesn't control the Escapist or vice-versa.
    – Posting links to IMDB is not doxxing…there's no personal information there that can be used to harm someone. The claim is ridiculous.

    I'm still baffled why people think a lawsuit by CIG is the best course of action. Time is not on CIG's side. They need to get this product out and their only source of funding is practically a pyramid scheme of increasing promises. A civil suit will take many months and by the time it's done few will care. If they can refute Derek Smart's claims they why not just do it and stop the bleeding now?

  30. mythago says

    So the doxxing was actually an issue of publicising publicly available data

    The doxxing of a SEVEN YEAR OLD GIRL because of a disagreement with one of her parents, you mean?

  31. Trent says

    The Escapist piece? Not sure that it was a hit piece, what do they gain from it if they're fabricating?

    I'm going to assume you are just naive and not a fucking moron. They get clicks and clicks = money. The web publishing business is all about the eye balls and people clicking on links to drive advertising revenue, the more clicks the more advertising seen and the more money made. This is the reason anything you read on the internet should be taken with a very large truckload of salt because some web publishers will say almost anything to get clicks. Including outright lies, because as Ken said if they are deemed by the court to be persons of public interest you can say whatever you want as long as you don't meet the actual malice rule.

    There are a lot of what I would call "tabloid" gaming sites, particularly since the whole gamersgate BS reared up and made it profitable to pander to them.

  32. Mikee says

    Fairly smart business tactic. Pretend you're filing a lawsuit against another game developer to increase awareness of your own game. Rail against one of the most ambitious video game projects of all time to drum up support for your own game that looks like a bad clone of 20 year old video games. Cry and complain that said ambitious video game has been in development since 2012 and still hasn't been released, while the bad clone you're making has been in development since 2010 and still hasn't been released.

    Drek Smrt is just a has been, a tired old nobody with absolutely no creative juices left. His games have never amounted to much, especially his latest offerings, both of which are just knock offs of other more successful games, and based on Steam reviews, no one likes them. His $15 Xcom/SPAZ clone has 19 reviews, only 15% of which are positive. His $10 Mechwarrior/Destiny clone has been in Early Access development on Steam for more than a year (development started in 2010 according to the dev), already has $150 in DLC available for the game (again, which has been been officially released) and has 117 reviews, only 17% of which are positive.

    For whining and crying about Star Citizen's development model, he's doing the exact same thing with his own game (although SC has been far more successful at winning over hearts and minds, something Drek's games have never come close to accomplishing.)

    I hope he files his lawsuit and I hope CGI files a counter suit that will expose his company to the exact same scrutiny, just for the lulz.

  33. Toastrider says

    Derek Smart attended August's Gamergate-focused SPJ "Airplay" event as a "neutral developer" panelist, though spoke supportingly of the movement. 10 days ago he threw an epic 2-day tantrum over a pair of tweets from Gamergate critic Randi Harper, including sending her legal threats. Smart was quick to tell his sob story to prolific gaters on Twitter and they were just as quick to support him against that mean mean Harper. In the end, Smart declared that the imaginary abuse had pushed him over to the Gamergate camp.

    These would be the tweets where Harper was accusing him of making advances on her via phone.

    I'm no fan of Derek Smart, but you're not improving your case here.

  34. Patches says

    Chris and Sandi's relationship most certainly is required to be public information the moment she was appointed to an executive level position or began functioning as a corporate officer. CIG operates via a very shadowy form of public investment. Crowd Funding. But as we have seen with other recent FTC decisions, the simple fact that you are crowd funding does not strip you of traditional legal obligations to those you contract with. Making the CEO's secret spouse an A, B or C level executive (complete with 6 figure salary) without disclosure is a huge no no. That relationship / potential COI must be public. This is such a major point that the weirdly paranoid enforced secrecy of their marriage within the CIG offices will become a huge issue if or when the FTC or other Fed agency step in to investigate. It can be argued as a clear sign of intent to defraud. Quite simply why would someone hide that?

    Agreed that publishing pictures of the child is way out of line. Although the simple fact that they have a child is not.

  35. Logan says

    Here is the real question: Are the HR manager and Sandi Gardner Public Figures? Looking at the actual demand/threat, the personal attacks regarding them are the only things CIG is threatening suit about, not the allegations related to Chris Roberts and the company at large.

    Or am I missing something?

  36. GeeBo says

    @Logan Nope, you're exactly right. Many people seem to miss this point about the request for apology and takedown – it doesn't address the financial claims or the lengthy development process or anything like that. And that's fine, it just means they're not interested in fighting those (as I guess their game will either prove or disprove those claims when/if it comes out). What they *are* interested in is those claims against Sandi/HR dept. And I'm not convinced they're public figures. It's possible Sandi is.. maybe.. but the HR manager? I doubt it.

    And frankly, it's the allegations leveled at Sandi and the HR dept that are the most damning. The other claims of mismanagement aren't suggesting anything illegal (except there's something about extortion? Paying for his home with crowdfund money? Which is baseless from easily found info on the web), however there are claims of racism, ageism, and accusations of discrimination based on quantity of pubic hair. Seriously. It's these allegations that CIG appear to be chasing, not the other fluff.

  37. barry says

    From Esq Freyermuth's letter_

    We are contacting you because a) you have violated the most basic rules and ethics in journalism..

    That just makes it look like they're more concerned with ethics in game journalism than any damage to reputation.

  38. Anton says

    OT, in the real world…

    I am pretty sure Putin is wiping out ISIS in 3 days in order to troll Obama. They will not be missed. ISIS correctly calculated that Obama would be indecisive, but forgot to take into account that Putin loves to embarrass our president. It is pretty much his favorite thing.

  39. Paradigm Spider says

    Didn't you know, Barry? It's always about ethics in games journalism.

    Not the Escapist has any.

  40. Chombo says

    Hey Ken, I was wondering if you were aware that the Escapist put a podcast on their site on the October 2nd, discussing the allegations without referencing the fact that they are rumours or that they came from their sources , also without mentioning CIG's response to any of the three articles they posts, and that when Freyermuth said they made slanderous comments, that he was likely referring to the podcast and not the article?

  41. FoSho says


    OT – Well it doesn't take much to troll the U.S. presidents. Most of them are hypocrit war criminals as-is, including Obama. Their game is 'up' as far as their laughable strategy of arming radicals, which they've done since the 80s. Its the equivalent of a Roman downfall, in which they too used 'foreign' mercenary armies. Same shit, different time period.

  42. Thanksno says

    How will The Escapist get around the "actual malice" standard if it refuses to disclose its sources? Good luck in trying to argue that you weren't reckless if you aren't allowed to rely on your informant as a source…

  43. JD says

    I think you're missing the purpose of the letter. If they wanted to scare some kind of retraction out of the Escapist they wouldn't have made such ridiculous demands and they wouldn't have giving such an arbitrarily short deadline ("since you gave us 24 hours that's what we'll give you") and they wouldn't have used such sophomoric insults (such as the "adult supervision" line). The GC as a factual witness I didn't pick up on, but it only supports my point. That letter was written for the community, the backers of Star Citizen. If they can work them up into a good enough frenzy they won't have to defend themselves from these accusations, the community will do that for them. It might help stem the tide for refund requests. It creates an us vs them environment. That, and it's an ego thing too.

  44. barry says

    Also from Esq Freyermuth's letter_

    You have since published an article explaining the "journalistic process" which you applied in this attempted character assassination.

    It wasn't even a real character assassination?

    It's like if Ronald Macdonald threw a cheeseburger at you and missed, and you write to Macdonald's threatening them over a violation of hamburger clown ethics, explaining the principles of clown ethics in detail. Then you become the other clown.
    As the old 80's Frankie Goes to Hollywood song said something like: "When two clowns go to war, the one with the bigger feet wins."

    @Paradigm Spider. It's nearly always about hamburger clown ethics.

  45. T. J. Brumfield says

    I'm a fan of your blog. And you no doubt already know from this post that Derek Smart is a more malicious version of Charles Carreon.

    I'm a little confused by your message. Are you saying that Ortwin Freyermuth should leave the lawyering to lawyers? Isn't he a lawyer himself? His letter made it clear that he was willing to pursue legal action, but was giving The Escapist an out first.

    And while defamation is apparently hard to prove (my understanding of it comes from a measly two years of journalism courses), if this isn't a case of defamation, then I don't know what is or why we have laws that can effectively never come into play.

    Derek Smart has been asking disgruntled ex-employees to contact him, so he can start trouble for CIG.

    Before any sources contact The Escapist, they run a previous hit piece authored by the same Lizzy Finnegan. She worked with Derek Smart on that piece. Their tweets suggest they are friends. The Escapist has established their bias and agenda.

    The Escapist said sources first contacted Lizzy directly on her phone, though her number was never published. A third party gave Lizzy's phone number to the sources. We know Derek sought out these sources and had previous contact with Lizzy. Presumably he gave them Lizzy's phone number.

    The Escapist flatly denies Derek spoke to anyone involved or that anything came from him. If the sources came from him, that establishes they outright lied in their coverage, and they took sources from someone they knew to be both biased and unreliable.

    Someone posts to a DerekSmart subreddit suggesting that Derek could post on GlassDoor with fake reviews, pretending to be CIG employees. He already has a history of creating fake sock-puppet accounts on other sites regularly. Oddly enough, shortly after someome makes that post on Reddit, there are suddenly a bunch of posts on GlassDoor that parrot Derek's comments. One even specifically calls Star Citizen a ponzi scheme, something I've only heard come from Derek. I can't imagine why someone would willingly work at CIG if they saw financial records and knew it to be a ponzi scheme. These posts happen in a short window, and then The Escapist piece has word-for-word quotes that align with the GlassDoor posts.

    Lizzy says she interviewed a few of these sources over phone and Skype. Even if she recorded those interviews and transcribed them perfectly, it is odd that so many people sought her out at once for this article when she didn't solicit CIG employees. It is odd that they all posted to GlassDoor at once. It is odd that a verbal statement over the phone or Skype would match a later posting to GlassDoor word-for-word. Even if the sources were actual employees, it would seem they colluded and worked as a singular group rather than 9 independent sources.

    The Escapist said they gave Chris Roberts and CIG an opportunity to respond to the allegations. But in reality, their letter didn't include the worst of the allegations. They admitted they sent the letter when they knew Chris was busy travelling, but still only gave him 24 hours to respond. But he had zero chance to respond to the biggest allegations that weren't in the letter at all. But the printed article lied and said he had an opportunity to respond. That is a willful lie. Again, if that isn't defamation, I don't know what is.

    The updated article on The Escapist says they have "concrete" proof of criminal activity. Yet they don't lay any of that evidence out. I can't imagine how that statement was made in good faith.

    CIG employees volunteered to be interviewed, but were not contacted by The Escapist.

    The Escapist issues you a medal/badge for reading the article, but there is a joke. It isn't delivered to you because they're saying the game will never be delivered.

    Then they follow it up with a podcast that included Lizzy, where the 4 Escapist employees discuss Star Citizen and openly state that the game will never ship. They state this as fact, and treat the allegations in their article as absolute fact. They never say allegedly. But they also make no case for their claims.

    The Escapist laid out in their response that their proof is merely the number of employees and how they were truly independent. If they all sought out Lizzy at the same time out of the blue, all posted to GlassDoor at the same time out of the blue, and all made the same claims, how were they acting truly independently?

    The posts on GlassDoor also included factual inaccuracies, such as one employee who said they worked 3+ years at CIG, which is impossible. If The Escapist was making any effort to be objective and honest, they would suspect these sources. The article said these sources had knowledge of company financial records. They knew the project would go broke and not ship. Did they ask the sources to prove they had knowledge of financials? No. Because The Escapist made zero effort to report factually.

    The big accusation was illegal workplace discrimination. Two seconds of fact-checking would show no HR compliants, that they have hired people over 40 and African Americans. Again, The Escapist didn't try to do any investigation or honest journalism. They reported something as fact without bothering to see if it might remotely be true.

    If that isn't willing defamation, I don't know what is.

  46. JD says

    His letter made it clear that he was willing to pursue legal action, but was giving The Escapist an out first.

    They did not give them an out. They gave demands that they knew 100% would not be capitulated to. That letter was all posturing.

  47. T. J. Brumfield says

    @Toastrider – They haven't burned through all their money. And it isn't fair to say they've released nothing.

    They released the Hangar module, the Arena Commander module (dogfighting game), a persistent universe beta, etc.

    The PU/social modules are closer to a large release. The FPS module we've seen tons and tons of gameplay video. It was near release 6 months ago, but they decided to rip out matchmaking and animation systems and replace them to make them better. That is very close to release.

    We've also seen demos of racing.

    They have a big convention next week where we're likely getting several big announcements. They have weekly newsletters, several video series, etc. The development has been the most transparent of any video game I've ever seen in history.

    They did full video filming and motion capture with a huge cast akin to a Hollywood movie for the cut-scenes for the single player game. That cast is being officially announced next week in the con. Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman are reportedly among the cast members.

  48. T. J. Brumfield says

    @ChrisH – That's actually another detail The Escapist got wrong. Sandi is in charge of marketing, not HR.

    @Dave – Please explain in what way crowd funding is a pyramid scheme. You get nothing for referring other people. You do not profit for people beneath you. There is no pyramid structure. I pledged $30 and I'm getting a game. The early released modules have already given me $30 worth of game play.

    You say the promises are increasing, but they stopped stretch goals ages ago. Do you actually follow Star Citizen?

  49. Czervik4pres says

    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that the libel standard for private individuals is that they have to prove it's not true. Proving a negative is a hard thing to do, especially if you're relying on tenuous associations (they met at a conference!). Good luck proving your HR director didn't do a good job reigning in the wife of the CEO and head of marketing for a "private" company . I've seen some really intemperate, unprofessional emails written by this supposed marketing specialist.

    This goes for the other two executives higher than her, her husband/ceo and their chief counsel. Everything I've seen written by these two guys recently has been atypically unprofessional for people in charge of a $90 million project.

    I've been following star citizen, off and on, since 2013 and none of this surprises me. The project was originally going to be a space sim with both multiplayer and (most importantly) single player story driven modes. There hasn't been a well done, story driven space sim in a very long time, so nerds nostalgic for wing commander and the x-wing series threw tons of money at them. The story driven campaign, which was later titled Squadron 42, was originally aimed for November 2014, but it has been delayed and almost nothing has been shown of it.

    Instead of focusing on developing a space sim, they added a first person shooter "module" and all these other features, and then started pumping out ship models to sell as future in-game items. All run by a guy who was most successful as talent (wing commander) and not as the studio owner, and who hasn't made a game since 2001(!). This is the guy who made Wing Commander the Movie, guys.

    I've never seen any official statements by heads of large companies as unprofessional as the recent Roberts' and Freyermuth's emails. Given how unhinged Robert's response seemed, the weird production decisions they've made over the last few years, and the reporting (kotaku had a less inflammatory, but similar story in September), I'm pretty certain that CIG is going to implode. Squadron 42 is nowhere near completion and time is running out. No angel investor is going to touch such an unprofessionally run project to bail them out after $90 million of customers' money has been pissed away.

  50. PapaMalo says

    Yes they couldn't get any money from The Escapist from a UK suit. The money is irrelevant, a head line reading ESCAPIST SLADERS CSI would be much more valuable.

  51. Sinij says

    This is like Assad fighting ISIS, if not for the collateral you'd be cheering for this to go on to the bitter, guaranteed self-destructing end.

  52. King Squirrel says

    Please explain in what way crowd funding is a pyramid scheme. You get nothing for referring other people.

    Might want to check their website on that.

    We want to encourage you to bring your friends to the Star Citizen universe and we’ve come up with a new recruiting system that will reward you for convincing them to join you in the fight… and give them a chance at a prize, too!

    Simply encourage your friends to pledge through a custom URL found on your My Account page and they’ll be marked on your account when they do. If they don’t use this link, they can also enter your username or email in and you will be credited with the recruit.

    The pilot who recruits the most wingmen in the next two weeks will win an Alienware Aurora Desktop that will be perfect for playing Star Citizen. Runners up can win prizes from a selection of NVIDIA GTX680 and GTX670 video cards, Logitech F710 Game Pads, Extreme 3D Pro Joysticks and even some in-game items like the Anvil Gladiator. Each one of your friends that you convince to join the fight will also get a small bonus of 250 in game galactic credits and be in the running to win some prizes themselves!

  53. Logan says

    You know that that was a promotion sponsored by Alienware that ended almost 3 years ago, right? They haven't done any incentives to recruit other people since.

  54. Yogard says

    also the US conspiracy law, if they can prove conspiracy which at this point is looking incredibly easy to prove then malice can easily be proven afterwards.

  55. King Squirrel says


    If that one is too old, you might want to check the rewards for the Star Citizen Organization contest last year at Pax. Or if you want current, check out some of the referral/recruitment contests for the various Organizations going on now.

    In a zero-G environment without up or down, would we still say "sunk cost fallacy"?

  56. Logan says

    @King Squirrel

    I mean, the contest was for the most ACTIVE organization, not the one that recruited the best (actually, mass recruiting led to lower activity on average, hurting the largest orgs) with the reward being the opportunity to meet Chris Roberts (actually costing the people who go money, since expenses weren't paid), and the recruitment contests for orgs are their e-peen contests (I have the biggest dic….. err… organization!), and have nothing to do with CIG.

    The sunk cost fallacy is a real thing though and is evident in the way that some people are arguing. It should keep it's name in space even though it would no longer make any sense, just like "tabling" a bill or budget "reconciliation" in Congress.

  57. Cromwell Descendant says

    Wow, now we've got trolls who think giving out promotional rewards for customer referrals meets the criteria for a pyramid scheme. Derrrrrrrrrrr bring back the braindead libertarians who demand to be protected from ebil liberal schemes like voting. This new stupid is too much to bear. My goodness. Maybe there should be a requirement to read at least 10 random legal filings that have been linked from this blog, with some kind of neutral fact-based test at the end, before allowing comments.

  58. King Squirrel says


    Arguably, the most active organization would be the one that recruited the best, not the most. Will a political party reward an operative who recruits the most members or the most active voters/activists? Or perhaps – as implied by those contest rules – a combination of both?
    As for the Organizations, what would you say the reward is in game for a large guild/clan/organization in a space sim with a working economy (hyped for SC) such as, say, Eve Online? If CIG can't manage to monetize – as you say – e-peen contests even half as well as Eve or WOW, then I would *really* start worrying about the fate of this game.

    That said, I was only posting to point out the falsehood of "You get nothing for referring other people. You do not profit for [sic] people beneath you". Whether it is actually a pyramid scheme depends on what product is delivered in the end. I honestly hope they can deliver on the ever expanding promises. As it stands, I'm maintaining some hope for a repeat of Destiny – another hype machine with promises of glory that eventually delivered an okay game.
    I hope for that, but worry the end will be a joke – like Duke Nukem Forever. The optimist in me says that it could not possibly be the turd that was Battlecruise3000AD.

  59. MisterFister says

    @T. J. Brumfield,

    "I'm a little confused by your message. Are you saying that Ortwin Freyermuth should leave the lawyering to lawyers? Isn't he a lawyer himself? His letter made it clear that he was willing to pursue legal action, but was giving The Escapist an out first."

    Almost correct. Freyermuth is indeed lawyer trained, but in this instance he's not lawyer situated. Note that the OP describes him as a "fact witness," which is a legal term to describe the fact that Freyermuth is someone who could be called to testify under oath in a litigation. When a person has knowledge and first-person information that is pertinent to determining something that's legally relevant to a case, then that person is barred by law, barred by ethics, and barred by practical restraints, from being both a witness and a legal representative. Put another way: an advocate cannot testify, and a testifier cannot advocate (at the same time.) In that admittedly obscure respect, a testifier (a "fact witness") who is trained as a lawyer is indistinguishable from a testifier that is trained as a plumber, or a neurosurgeon, or a munitions disposal technician, or an astronaut.

    Now normally, when a lawyer / advocate says something in a legal communication (such as a bumptious and ham-fisted threat letter) the contents of such a communication is considered "privileged." This is simply a fancy way of saying that you generally can't sue the lawyer, personally, or that lawyer's law firm, or in most cases even that lawyer's client, for what was said IN the communication. When you think about it, that makes logical sense; to conduct advocacy and to engage in acts of lawyering, the lawyer has to BE removed from the scenario as a player and act instead as a strategist. Absent exotic circumstances such as malpractice, foisting falsities upon a court, or other sanctionable activities (we hear "vexatious litigant" and "malicious prosecution" often, but those are accusations with a generally poor chance of winning, as Ken has written about) the contents of lawyerly communications are immune to collateral liability. To be sure, such content can be attacked legally with respect to the merits of the underlying case at issue, but they can't be the independent cause of their own side-issues separate from that underlying case. Even then, it's not like you can cross-examine the client about the contents of such a threat letter, since the client didn't personally compose the threat. Any communications between client and attorney that helped the attorney compose that threat letter are, themselves, privileged and immune from examination in court. You get the idea.

    Here's the rub — you can't ENJOY "litigation privilege" like that if you're not QUALIFIED to be the advocate. And since this individual is a fact witness, he's not QUALIFIED to be the advocate, which means that the content of his communication can not only be attacked on the merits of the underlying case, but CAN spawn their own independent inquiries. Worse, Freyermuth CAN be cross-examined under oath as to WHAT he said, WHY he said it, what the source of his information was, and a jury can be asked to consider what his testimony offers as a glimpse into how his company behaves. He can't refuse to answer until he faces jail time or other criminal penalties, which won't happen. Any refusal to answer CAN be used against him, and can ALSO be used against his employer, and any answer he DOES give can be used against him. Since the letter he wrote was not confidential between attorney and client, there is no privilege that attached to the letter, and worse than that, the opposing side can make a colorable argument that any discussion between Freyermuth and his attorney about the letter or of the letter's contents COULD have reduced attorney-client privilege (since publicly announcing something that's privileged can be argued to be at least a partial waiver of that privilege.)

    Put another way, Freyermuth is lawyering for himself with similar risk as a trauma surgeon performing gunshot wound surgery on oneself; there's an overlap of roles that never works out well for the person doing it. Sure, it's conceivable that it won't be a complete disaster, and sure, there are scenarios like being stranded in the middle of nowhere during a post-apocalypse scenario where the person has no choice but to perform their own surgery or face certain death, like in that Russell Crowe movie, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

    But no.

  60. Pushing Boundaries says

    @ Czervik4pres
    "I've been following star citizen, off and on, since 2013 and none of this surprises me."
    More off than on i guess.
    Estimated delivery: Nov 2014. This was IF Chris roberts had worked with how things looked like in the "Star Citizen – Announcement – GDC 2012 Panel".

    Watch at that presentation and tell me you dont see any difference today, would the graphics and fidelity in that presentation have felt like "push the boundaries" or up to todays standard. PBR in Cryengine was to big update to not implement and why should they not, and it is better to redo everything before a game is published.
    Take advantage of the power of what you have in an desktop computer compared to the outdated consoles.
    You should point an angry finger at Ubisoft to with there delay to 2016. They had an estimated delivery of there The Division to late 2014 when they even had a working gameplay back in 2013.

  61. Michael says

    The thing you're missing here is the public angle. Unlike how these things normally play out, the public is DIRECTLY involved – and we're all witnesses to what's going on, since CIG are making their statements public.

    Regardless of what's "legally smart" – the outcome of this will have a monumental effect on the public perception of Star Citizen.

    As in, if it turns out that Derek Smart and these "journalists" are in the wrong, and their sources stink – then it's going to be a gigantic win-win for CIG, no matter how much money they're spending on the legal proceedings.

    Obviously, though, if it turns out to be true – and that these allegations have merit, it's going to be public suicide – and the worst thing possible for CIG and Star Citizen.

    Conclusively, either Chris Roberts and Ortwin are utter morons – or they're absolutely right to do this in public.

    Say what you will about Roberts and his team, but they don't strike me as complete morons. Human and flawed? Obviously so.

    As such, I'd be pretty worried if I was affiliated with Escapist and cared about my reputation.

  62. ChrisH says

    @TJ – re: Sandi G & HR. I did say "de-facto"… If she's in marketing but actually making HR decisions, as per the accusation, then that smells bad. I don't know how companies are run in the US, but I agree with previous posters where this is all a bit murky.

    – – – – – –

    RE: Pyramid scheme. I'm 50/50 on this, if it turns out to be the case then IMO it's through mismanagement as opposed to deliberate from the outset. CI's only source of income, AFAIK, is from backers. If their costs overrun then they'll need new backers to fulfil their goals, and if these dry up then they are screwed. Any potential rescuer would demand a full audit before any cash gets handed over, plus I imagine that they would require pretty tight oversight on the project going forward. Hmm, I wonder where I've hear of that before? Hint: Chris Roberts has form.

    AAA games take, what, 5+ years to develop? Plus CI have already "sold", ahem, best part of a million copies of the game to their backers. Even if the game falls out of the door with a production release I wonder what their forecasts are as, obviously, they'll need to run servers for a persistent universe, updates, etc?

    I want the game to succeed if only because of potential repercussions across the whole gaming industry. I've been gaming for 30+ years and I don't want these guys to bugger it up! However, seeing how the lunatic arm of the Star Citizenry have been playing up I wouldn't necessarily object to a nice warm bath of schadenfreude.

    PS Derek Smart is a bell-end, I think that we can all agree on that, but ad homming him doesn't make the issues with CI go away.

  63. ZK says

    I'm a bit baffled about the portion of this argument that's about if Star Citizen is scope-creepy-vaporware or not. The "release date" is less than a year away, and then we'll know one way or another, right?

    I mean, I have my own predictions about if *any* large-scope software product is likely to make schedule, but it's not worth fighting about when it'll be plain to see soon enough.

  64. Toastrider says

    Welp, the Escapist is declining to retract or apologize, per updates on their website.

    To quote the Joker, 'And here… we… go!'

  65. ChrisH says

    @ZK – CI have been hugely, erm, aggressive with their goalposts. So much so that they've missed most of them by a large margin. This implies crappy management at the very least!

    I ain't a lawyer but do work at a multinational corp and am also involved in software development (I'm allowed to put letters after my name because I've been taught about that and everything!). There have been warning signs over CI since the beginning: the massive increase in features from the stretch goals that upped the complexity by orders of magnitude, the creation of a company from zero*, and the frankly almost-looks-like-a-scam "donation" model of funding.

    * I spent a few years doing infrastructure for a unit that expanded from 150 – 300+ in about 2 years. Even with proper management that was pretty, erm, interesting. Roberts is a game/movie producer, not, I'd imagine, someone who is used to keeping a handle on the corporate "big picture".

  66. AH says

    @ZK: actually, if you look the the ETA from the KS, CIG is almost a year late on the final release.

    Some say it's not fair to hold them to what they said then.

  67. Bartleby says

    "I am pretty sure Putin is wiping out ISIS in 3 days in order to troll Obama. They will not be missed. "

    I'm no military expert, but wouldn't this require bombing ISIS targets? From what I understand, Putin's been focusing his airstrikes on the Free Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army is the more moderate rebel group. Bombing them strengthens Assad, in theory, and in a roundabout way makes ISIS weaker by making it's main enemy stronger, I suppose, but from what I understand ISIS and FSA aren't exactly BFFs, and despite the whole "enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing, they're working at cross purposes more often than not.

    Also, can we please start calling them ISIL? I know you rabid anti-intellectuals out there hate it because "people who call it ISIL are just trying to sound smart" or whatever, but one of my favorite bakeries had to change its name because people are too damn stupid to realize that companies with "Isis" in their name for years before we pulled out of Iraq has nothing to do with the terrorist group, and it's not the only company to have to do that. At this rate, students learning about ancient Egypt are going to be learning about "Jessica, wife of Osiris" because some parents whined about her old name.

  68. DrDwarf says

    @patches you might hide it (keep it quiet) because you recognised that a large percent of your target market were girlfriendless males potentially masterbating over the marketing videos your wife appears in regularly.

    Not a sensible thing to do but people who have not had to work (very long) for a living and find themselves in positions of power often make poor decisions.

  69. Edward Dunai says

    One thing I'll note is that evidently under California law it is required to issue a retraction demand prior to litigation for any defamation case, regardless of whether or not you eventually file one. It's a matter of placing the demand into the public record from what I understand (not a lawyer) and the courts there have ruled that failure to issue such a demand precludes you from collecting all but 'special' damages in the case.

    My reading as a layperson is that what CIG is explicitly demanding to be taken down and threatening defamation over aren't claims about the state of the game or whether or not it will be completed, but very narrowly and specifically about claims that Sandi is illegally engaging in discriminatory hiring practices, claims that they can very easily demonstrate are not only categorically false, but are claims that the Escapist never even attempted to verify with CIG in the first place (read their initial letter to CIG). The latter can be used to show actual malice aforethought on the part of the 'journalist'.

    As an example of what I'm thinking, I send X a letter requesting a response to issues A, B, and C. I then publish a piece containing issues A, B, C, and spectacular claim D. I then interleave X's responses to A-C after publication, despite receiving them before press time. I thus maliciously leave the impression that X is unable to respond to D, thus D must be true and indefensible.

    Note, Derek Smart was boasting about the article *before it was published*, throwing great doubt into the Escapists claims that he was uninvolved.

  70. Durandal says

    While your legal assessment of Cloud Imperium's position is sound, it doesn't take a Yale Law Review editor to figure that out.

    Your assessment of Star Citizen, though…jesus.

    Star Citizen is a money-trap piece of vaporware and I would love for them to sue The Escapist so we could all see the related financial documents which would most likely prove that Roberts is running out of cash for this gigantic Kickstarter boondoggle.

    Donny, you are out of your element.

  71. Edward Dunai says


    Vaporware? Compared to anything ever released by Smart this is a total game!

    Arena Commander – released and very functional and enjoyable, by itself one of the best space combat sims I've played.

    Hangar Module – gorgeous

    Social Module – initial release is out and very playable, not much to do beyond hang around and gawk at absolutely stunning graphics, but unlike any Derek Smart production it actually *works*.

    FPS is delayed while they deal with blockers, but they are being very open in communication about what is going on with FPS and they are getting very close to releasing that module.

    Multi-crew was fully demoed live and in engine at Gamescom, should be coming out around the same time as FPS.

    Large World is coming out, effectively a mini persistent universe, the first integration of all the various modules into a coherent whole.

    Comparable games, Elite:Dangerous started development in 2005, was finally released last year, they had to remove an entire system that was the core of their Kickstarter (offline single player play) and charged very high prices for alpha access. The game itself is fun to play, but much more repetitive than even Arena Commander at this alpha stage.

  72. AH says

    @Edward Dunai:

    Arena Commander: You must not have played many space combat sims. AC is atrocious and in it's present state you'd be better of dusting off any of a number of games from the 90's. Lesser graphics, but most of them had far better and less shallow gameplay.

    Hanger module: visually, it's an aliased mess. Reconfiguring ships only works intermittently.

    Social module: I suppose it kind of works sometimes. It's mildly amusing for about an hour, when you can get in. Unfortunately it's had extensive problems with not being able to get in, and crashes.

    FPS and Multi-crew: you need to put "allegedly." "Soon" has become a running joke with this project.

    Large world: Again, allegedly, but who knows when.

    ED: Last year was when they said they would be releasing. It's also when CIG said they would be releasing SC. While the way the offline mode was handled was poor at best, it's disingenuous to call it a core feature. It's certainly no more core than "no controller having an advantage over another," something even CIG can't deny any more. If it's repetitive, that's your fault. There is more to do then in AC, but you do have you look for it.

  73. Edward Dunai says

    AH –

    Arena Commander – I disagree, I said *space* combat simulators, there are plenty of wonderful FLIGHT simulators with space-based graphics around. Even E:D feels more like a flight sim than a space sim to me. I've found AC to be very playable with fewer glitches and bugs that I expect in an alpha release.

    Hangar Module – considering that it's not fully optimized, lower end machines might well be an 'aliased mess', on my box it's absolutely gorgeous, especially the newer ships.

    Social Module is far more stable than BC3000AD was at release, and it's in its first public alpha iteration. I submit that for an initial alpha release, it's excellent.

    FPS/Multi-Crew, yes, Soon(tm) is a running joke, but at a comparable time point in development, Elite: Dangerous didn't even have a playable alpha. I find the level of communication of blockers and fixes to FPS to be quite reassuring.

    For E:D, offline mode was one of the major features promised in the kickstarter.

  74. Durandal says

    None of the things you listed are an actual game, Edward. They're PARTS of a game but they haven't been tied into a functioning package. I didn't pay for an "Arena module", or a "Social module", I paid for a fucking game that was promised out in Q4 2014 and whose release date has stretched to nigh on infinity by now.

  75. AH says

    @Edward Dunai:

    My machine is not a low end machine.

    If you have to use a derek smart game as a comparison to make it seem good, you're really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    A comparable time for ED? You mean a year past the scheduled release date? As in right now? You seem to want to gloss over the fact that ED set a reasonable date for the game they wanted to make. They had to omit one feature, but they actually made the deadline. If you want to include the time to create an engine, then SC was started in 2004 with the creation of Cryengine.

    No, it wasn't a "major" feature, it was a minor one. A major feature is one that the game really doesn't work without. You know, like reasonable controls.

  76. Adraeus says


    You wrote that "DS [Derek Smart] sure knew a lot about this before it was even published" and linked to this screenshot.

    I looked up this tweet, as well as the tweet posted by @TheEscapistMag.

    Here's a comparison.

    The timestamps clearly show that DS posted his tweet around 4 hours AFTER @TheEscapistMag tweeted about their SECOND ARTICLE.

  77. Pushing Boundaries says

    " I paid for a fucking game that was promised out in Q4 2014 and whose release date has stretched to nigh on infinity by now."

    NO. It was never promised a release date, an estimated delivery was mentioned but then backers asked for more and from reddit:
    "With kickstarter I am taking a calculated risk in order to support a project that wouldn't otherwise exist. With preorders I'm just paying money in advance so I can preload the 50gb game on steam"
    "Backing a project is more than just giving someone money.
    It’s supporting their dream to create something that they want to see exist in the world."

    If Star citizen will release, be happy, otherwise shit happens. It has been a fun ride this far.

    And to link to DS blog is just bad taste, he does not speak for my spare money.

  78. ChrisH says

    @Pushing Boundaries

    If Star citizen will release, be happy, otherwise shit happens. It has been a fun ride this far.

    I wonder what the idiots who are tens of thousands of dollars down would think of this?

  79. Richard Gadsden says

    Alice, that was the intention of the Defamation Act 2013, but, as far as I know, that clause hasn't ever been tested in court, so who knows how it will actually be interpreted?

    Also, the restrictions on libelling corporations (that the publication has caused, or is likely to cause substantial financial loss) mean that they would have to either demonstrate that, or take action in the name of an individual, not Cloud Imperium Games, which would be a much harder case to make on the facts.

  80. Mario says

    You are giving Mr. Smart too much credit. If you read the Chris Roberts letter carefully, at the second page, fourth paragraph, second line, you shall see that they acknowledge the existence of those ex employees. So its not all fabrication of one man.

    I know that Escapist didn't made a very good job, and maybe they should made a better investigatorial job before release that artical, but that doesn't mean they are wrong. There is something fishy in all this.

    CIG and Chris Roberts wants we all thinks that's all about Derek Smart, but i think there is much more in this. Like i said. You are giving too much credit for one troll.

  81. AH says

    @Bob If you've not downloaded the software or gone to the site since they changed the ToS, you have every right to ask for a refund under the old ToS.

  82. Kumquatxop says

    @Bob I will gladly personally buy your Kickstarter pledge package off of you. Seriously, not a joke — let me know and I will Paypal you dollars in exchange.

    Anyway, folks: Star Citizen has been in development for 3 years. Most AAA games take well over 5. The initial estimates of release date were kinda due to the fact that nowhere in anybody's wildest dreams did they think they would raise this much money — they thought they would not be developing a AAA game.


  83. vigilante says

    I'v been following Star Citizen since the beginning and I'm honestly not pleased with what I've been seeing from CIG. I've been in the process of dumping all the assets I've purchased over the last few years as i really don't feel comfortable with the amount of money I put into this game after seeing what CIG is capable of. Many people claim that Arena Commander is a complete game but it is not.

    Currently Arena commander was supposed to be the alpha test bed backers were allowed access too for backing at various levels. Right now it is in a seriously bad state and has been basically in the same state of disrepair and neglect since its first release over a year and a half ago. For one thing the game play is flat out terrible and does not really reflect the promises that were made during the early stretch goals of controller agnosticism and several other qualifiers that were harped on heavily during the initial stages. Not liking the game play may be my opinion but apparently the community does not like it much either since less than 100 unique players are playing at any given hour with the daily total being somewhere below 1000. Given there are 1 million backers and less than .001 percent are even bothering to log in and check it you really cant make any arguments against the fact that something just isn't fun about whats been released so far.

    Additionally the problems with game play are stemming from extremely poor game play design decisions that honestly only armatures would make. Additionally CIG has shown an extreme lack of planing and failure to stick to their own design paradigm they established at the start of the project. Remember when Agile development was a marketing point they used in presentations? They have basically abandoned their original design paradigm in favor of some sort of made up of the cuff hybrid where they treat the project like a waterfall paradigm but without detailed design documentation while additionally trying to develop these huge modules in parallel by contracting out to sub contractors.

    After developing software for 10 years I've never seen a project organized like that succeed. You might be able to complete a project like that but it will never be quality work nor will it ever work well even after tons more money and time is dumped into it than originally planned. Right now CIG has this massive list of features they are trying to develop all in parallel with no idea how those features will work together or even if they can work together without introducing major flaws into the game design and gameplay.

    At any rate the above are my reasons why i pulled the plug and decided to get out from under the behemoth before it collapses on me.