Star Citizen—a video game first announced when Gangnam Style was top of the charts—is sometimes unfairly labelled as vapourware. It’s usually called that by people who have never actually played it; if they had, they’d know that there is the framework of a game out there, which can be played, but which is also nowhere near being what anyone could fairly describe as “finished”.
You need to know that because this story is about the unfinished game’s playerbase, many of whom paid for Star Citizen when Lebron James was still playing in Miami. Those players, who routinely log into the unfinished game’s various parts and fly/walk around for a bit, found that with the release of Alpha 3.18 last week, they couldn’t get into the game.
The update—which introduced a bunch of stuff, so much that they made a trailer for it—first released last week, and that trailer seemed exciting enough that a lot of people tried logging into the game to try it out. Too many people.
Developers Roberts Space Industries quickly found that the game couldn’t support that many people trying to login at once, and so the whole thing fell over. “Due to the high volume of traffic related to the launch of Star Citizen Alpha 3.18.0 the RSI Launcher can become non-responsive”, they said on March 11, adding that “The team is already working to mitigate this problem as quickly as possible.
Two days later, however, many players were still locked out. And those who could get in were finding the game full of crippling bugs, prompting RSI to tweet “We’re sorry for the super rough start – our team is all hands on deck working to get things running smoothly as quickly as possible”.
At time of posting the game still isn’t back to normal; Star Citizen’s own status page is showing that several elements of the game, including its persistent universe, are still suffering from a “partial outage”.
Fans are understandably pissed, citing stuff like the fact this game has been in development since FIFA 13 was on shelves, but I think that’s taking a glass-half-empty view. To them, a broken game must seem a disappointment. To everyone else, a broken game shows there’s a game to break!