Editorial: Roberts vs Smart

Note: I don’t not know half the story and I’m not going to attempt to try to sound smart about it. What I want to talk about is understanding the effects of it all. I personally want to understand why this is happening and what either side will gain from it in the end. I don’t know the facts and frankly, it’s none of my business, but the thought of it gets me down. I normally write humor and the past couple weeks the news of Smart vs Roberts has got me thinking seriously. Trust me, that’s a bad thing. When I get serious stupid shit comes out of my mouth and it’s a lose/lose situation. Luckily for you, today is the day you lose.

$87,000,000

That’s a lot of money! That makes Star Citizen a triple-A title. It’s very cool to have an idea as an independent company to make a game for a measly $500K and get $87 million. That kind of support boosts your ego quickly. Possibly the intentions of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG)  and Roberts isn’t to make a triple-A games, but to make the best damn game they can. The money influx is just a byproduct of how amazing the community is and how much they support the game. It’s not their fault people give them money. Their “investors” want the best game they can get and if that eats years of development and them forking out more money, so be it. 

The problem with crowd funding and letting the people have the voice of your product is lack of common ground. Instead of having a cooperation with a board of directors funding Star Citizen, they have over 40,000 (Twitter numbers) investors with an equal voice. That sounds very chaotic to me. Of course the people investors really don’t have a very big pull in the ultimate decisions, but the lack of real investors removes the checks and balances set in place by games made by cooperate companies. In essence CIG is a independent developer with cooperate funds without the hefty contracts investors require to safeguard their cash. Those contacts get shit done or else, bye bye money flow. The only way Star Citizen would get this same effect is if the majority of 40k people said one day, “enough is enough!” 

Unfortunately, like a gambling addict or a World of Warcraft player, these people are invested to the point of no return. Any sign of the game floundering and they will throw more money in the slot to hit the jackpot some day. Unintentionally, CIG is praying on the hopes and dreams of middle to lower class people. Yes, I’m pretty damn sure they are not doing it on purpose to be evil bastards. Some people, like Derek Smart, can see the snowball that is Star Citizen, rolling down the hill picking up speed. That snowball is crushing it’s faithful followers as it rolls faster and faster out of control. All they can do is lay there in its wake as their wallets bleed out to death slomly. You have a couple choices as a minor investor of Star Citizen:

1. Take your losses and get out of the way before you get crushed.

2. Take a ball in the face and hope for the best in the future.

3. Add more snow and push it as it passes you.

4. Make an ass of yourself on the Internet because you can.

5. Help figure out a way to stop the snowball before it explodes into a vapor mist.

SMART

I think Derek Smart is a brilliant  guy. I also think he is wrong in this. It is not his place. He WAS an investor of a tiny tiny amount of $250 out of the Grand $2.1 million raised on Kickstarter in 2012. Coming from a guy that has several of his own games and owns a Tesla car, $250 is backup toilet paper.  He got his $250 back so what’s the big deal?

I really, really understand where he’s coming from. I do. He wants to do a good deed. He is extremely smart and can see the big picture how CIG is fucking up. We get it, they have their head up their asses and you want justice for 40k people. If Smart doesn’t stand up for what is right, then who will? He is really trying to do a good thing here, but his way of going about it is bad. People say he’s just trying to get publicity for his game; I’m sorry, but doing what Smart is doing will definitely make his game die a quicker death. His plan of attack is ill planned and will hurt everyone in it’s wake. It is just an emotionally charged mess.

RSI Twitter page sits at 40k followers (I understand they are not all investors, but all investors are not on Twitter. 40k is a good guess for investors right now)  and Derek Smart has 4k. That is a huge difference between a game that isn’t made and a developer that has made several games. The disparity between the 2 logicly points to Smart as the lesser developer. Personally, he can make excuses as to why he isn’t as popular and why his games will never be as successful as Star Citizen already is, but at the end of the day it just boils down to skills. He doesn’t have the skills required to be as successful as Chris Roberts and CIG, sorry.

For me, I’ll never be a great writer. I will never be a great blogger. I do not have the skills Syp or Tobold posses. I’m just not good enough and I’m ok with that. Shit, I’m 99% sure this will only be read by 10 people and I’m ok with that. I just don’t hold the skill set required to be a great blogger/writer no matter how much I practice. But, I do not go on other blogs to bring them down or try to get my name out there in a negative way. That is just wong and selfish. Is it really worth my popularity to bring others down? No because no matter how stupid I think another blogger is, I don’t act like a dickhead in the name of my ideas of justice.

I believe Derek Smart is a leader. Sadly, he is a toxic leader right now. All his brilliance and knowledge is being used to negatively impact other people. He might not see it that way, but it is what is happening. To be a great leader the leader identifies the needed change, creates a vision to guide the change through inspiration, and executes the change with the commitment of the members of the group. Unfortunately, that is not what Smart is doing. It breaks my heart to think a person with his knowledge and understanding of the game industry could easily help CIG, not hinder. It would just take a few seconds to ask himself, “how can I help?”

I know it’s hard to suck up one’s ego, but maybe, if Smart helped Roberts succeed and not try to make them both fail, there could be a game like we’ve never seen before. I understand Star Citizen is in direct competition with Smart’s games, but helping 40k people get the game they’ve dreamed about could reap benefits for Smart in the long run. No longer would he be the crazy-ass developer of subpar games, he would be the developer that selflessly helped get the game they always wanted.  That is a crusade destined for righteous justice. I’d buy a Derek Smart anything after that. He would embody what it means to be a leader and finally inspire people. He wants to crusade for what is righteous, then inspire us first.

CONCLUSION

I don’t assume to know what is really going on  with this Roberts vs Smart war, but I know it’s not helping anybody. It is proving to society gamers are crazy and petty. None of the press from this debacle is good. There is back and forth childish behavior from thousands of adults lead by these 2.  Smart says he doesn’t want the game to fail only Roberts to leave the project, but would Smart leave his command if an asshat asked him to? As much as he thinks he would step down from his position for the greater good of the game, he would be lying to himself. Just like Roberts, he is emotionally invested in his game; A game that has acquired almost a 100 million dollars from peon gamers they call investors.

I challenge Derek Smart to be more positive.  He needs drive around in his $100k Tesla and ask himself, “why? Why am I doing this? How can I help not hinder my beloved game industry? How can I become a leader and a role model? How can I put my ego aside and help?” 

If he’s already answered these questions then he’s doing it wrong and needs to reevaluate his initial answers. Through the years he has been seen as a strong, bold, brilliant, pig-headed, asshole. It is ok to have a strong unwavering will, but it is not ok to use that as an excuse why you’re an ass to other people.

On the other hand, I challenge Chris Roberts to ask himself a few questions of his own,  “How can I get this game done? What can I learn from Derek Smart? Why haven’t I delivered on any of my promises to my thousands of faithful investors/fans?”

Not only the investors of Star Citizen at risk in this squabble, other indie developers are looking up to them and counting on them to succeed. This is the biggest Kickstarter game success or failure to date. No matter which way the pieces fall, Star Citizen will impact the future of crowd funded games. 

Both of them need to suck it up so they don’t fuck it up.  Right now,  they are bringing down the whole indie gaming industry and the media is pulling their puppet strings just for greedy hits. It’s a full circle of greed on everyone’s part. In essence we are bullying each other just to get attention. If we ever want to be taken seriously as a hobby we need to band together and help each other succeed or fail in a dignifing way. Things like EA being the worst company in America needs to stop. We look like morons. I leave you with this…

image

You ever wonder why we look like idiots to the world? It’s not the guy in the Venom suit and it’s not because he’s fat. It’s because we don’t have each other’s back and we constantly make fun of each other for who we are.  Most gamers are middle to lower class. Subsequently, the largest amount of obese people are middle to lower class, percentage wise. This guy is mainly made fun of by his peers. That is messed up! We would rather bully each other instead of help.

These developers are doing the same thing. They are treating each other like crap as veterans of the industry, setting the example for our younger developer generation. I wouldn’t back either of them based on their lack of ability to lead and be professionals. There is a time and a place to stand your ground and be heard, but this bullshit between Roberts and Smart is not the right time. No matter who you think is right and who shot first , they are both wrong. Promises were made and words were said, it’s time to stop and help each other find a way.

Derek Smart is driving a car named after a selfless inventor that only wanted to help mankind move forward in peace.

Chris Roberts is building a game on the idea of discovery, exploration, and pure creativity.

Two beautiful things, two fucked up egos.

One thought on “Editorial: Roberts vs Smart

  1. Chris

    I’m at a loss for how the rank and file armchair community feels that they KNOW that the money is being misspent or mismanaged. The only way to really know this is to get a look at CIG’s actual financial transactions, and although I could be mistaken, I don’t think ANYONE outside of CIG and any contracted management entities that need to be involved by law have that information.

    To me, people are equating time spent, scope, and the frightening amount of “loose money” to mean that it’s being used on cocaine and hookers. I think you are correct in not having oversight means that no one DOES know what’s going on with the money SPECIFICALLY, and there’s no real reason for CIG to release that info. To some, not releasing the info makes them look cagey, and cagey OF COURSE means that there’s guilt, right? Except sometimes not wanting to do something you don’t have to just to feed the trolls means not wanting to do something BECAUSE it feeds the trolls.

    Smart doesn’t understand how counterproductive his crusade is. If he does bring about a lawsuit, then that’s a bunch of focus that CIG now needs to put on responding to him…instead of making a product. And they ARE making a product. We had the hangar module, then Arena Commander, and we’ve seen the social module, the multi-crew ships, and their FPS implementation (and by WE I mean consumers on video, journalists have seen it live). With a lawsuit getting thrown in, that’s a surefire way to slow down further production. Smart may then get to say that “see? Things aren’t getting done!” while selfishly dodging the fact that had he not inserted himself into the workflow with his saber-rattling, then the company could keep on doing what they’re doing: making the damn game.

    People who pledged to this project during KS should have known what they were getting into. People who dropped hundreds of dollars buying virtual space ships ALSO should have known what they were getting into. Like they say, money doesn’t make you more important, it just gives you a bigger megaphone, and I suspect that big donors who buy into Smart’s attacks are attempting to wield that megaphone in proportion to their pledge. More money doesn’t make the project move any FASTER; in fact, probably the opposite. CIG can pay people for longer. Ideally that translates into “let’s take the time to do it right because we HAVE that time”, but it can also mean that they can throw in more features, which ends up taking longer than originally promised/planned for, which is why stretch goals suck. At the end of the day, though, anyone who thought throwing money at the project would get the thing in their hands faster is delusional and should probably have their bank account managed by someone else.

    I’m not a game developer (of course), so if a game developer says that these things take time, who am I to contradict or argue with them? A project the scope of Star Citizen isn’t something you can bang out at a game jam. It’s wildly ambitious, more ambitious than a lot of projects that have been proposed if my memory serves. YEARS is not an unreasonable expectation, although the community pundits won’t let that stop them from expecting that they’re owed something commiserate with the amount of money they’ve thrown in, according to the timetable their impatience demands. A lot of people who have worked retail say that EVERYONE should work retail so they understand the shit that retail employees have to deal with when working with the public. I agree. I also think that anyone who PLAYS games should try their hand at MAKING games, and if they find it to be as easy as they (loudly) claim, THEN we can listen to their crowing. I suspect we’d have a whole lot of silence instead.

    Which is why Smart should know better. Actually, scratch that: he knows all too well what it’s like to make a seemingly overly ambitious space simulator game. He also knows failure: big, hot, stinking, doesn’t-ever-wash-out-of-your-clothing level failure. People know him mostly because of his Whack A Mole ability to show up where he’s least wanted, and NOT because of the early games he tried to make…games which not-so-coincidentally were disasters in many ways, but which bear striking resemblances to what CIG is trying to pull off. It only takes a cursory examination of Smart’s resume to see how it’s entirely plausible that his crusade against CIG and Roberts — who pumped out THE genre-defining space simulator Wing Commander — is based entirely around sour grapes. CIG is taking on what he tried to take on, and HAVE a much better chance of pulling it off, and have been met with much better reception than his projects ever were. Of course, now that he’s known as the village nutjob, I don’t think any project he’s involved in will ever have a snowball’s chance in Hell of doing any better than Battlecruiser 3000AD ever did.

    Now, in closing, I’m not a super-fan of SC or of what CIG’s currently put into people’s actual hands. I think right now it’s kind of crap. What I WILL admit to is giving them time to either put up a product and say “here it is!”, or put up their hands and admit they can’t do it. In either case, I’m still an adult who willfully put my money down to support an idea that I’d like to see made real, but in doing so I understood that it’s a crap shoot. That’s the nature of investment. As they say in EVE Online and Elite: Dangerous, don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose. If anyone who invested in SC is concerned about the money they pledged, then they need to seriously think about their susceptibility to hype and the limits of their own willpower. But under no circumstances should ANYONE who believes themselves to be an intelligent creature buy into Smart’s personal vendetta against Roberts and CIG; it’s not about the consumer, it’s not about honesty, it’s about Smart and ONLY Smart, as always whenever he’s involved.

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