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Star Citizen - Fishing for Space Whales


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  • 3 weeks later...
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Roberts Space Industries responded: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/4497650/15-09-03_rsi-response-to-demand-letter.pdf long story short: they eviscerate all his claims, demands, allegations, every single of his shitty games and his attempt at a "career" (their quotation marks, not mine)

Grab a bucket of popcorn and start reading! The bit about the address is especially hilarious

Edit: checked on NeoGAF and sure enough somebody has converted it to text:

August 26, 2015

Mr. Keith L. Cooper De La Pena & Holiday LLP

One Embarcadero Center, Ste. 2860

San Francisco, CA 94111

Re : Derek Smart - Your letter of August 21, 2015

Dear Mr. Cooper,

With respect to your above referenced letter, we are certainly aware of your client's rants on his internet blog and other internet message boards with his false and defamatory allegations. He has also released personal address information for some senior executives of the company, and our counsel are reviewing in this regard various legal actions for defamation and cyber stalking.

Your client backed the "Star Citizen" project in 2012 with a pledge of $250. He commenced his defamatory actions in early July 2015 by alleging on his blog -without any basis or backup, and with many links to his own game in development -that the "Star Citizen" project was a fraud and that it was never going to be delivered. He pointed to "buggy" performances of the modules released as well as other deficiencies.

We were surprised about his claims, because our records indicate that he actually never downloaded and installed the game. He also unsubscribed from our email list very soon after having backed the project. Nonetheless, and in response to his eagerly promoted postings, we contacted him via email to advise him that given his concerns we were gladly refunding him his pledge (see Exhibit 1). In his response, your client thanked us for the refund and advised us of the address to which the refund check should be sent (see Exhibit 2). The refund check was mailed promptly (Exhibit 3).

Our regular accounting audits revealed after 30 days that the check had not been cashed while it had not been returned as undeliverable either. We researched the address and had to find out that the address given by your client does not exist. We contacted your client again via email„ only to find out that he indeed had provided us with a false address. He claimed that "streets had been renamed" (see Exhibit 4) but there is certainly no record of that. We have to assume that your client deliberately tried to prevent the refund from reaching him so that he would be able to continue his unfounded claim of being "aggrieved." Be that as it may, we have put a stop payment on the first check, and a second check has been sent today, this time via tracked courier shipment.

Your client's defamatory claims are entirely without merit and include unfounded allegations that the funds raised for the project were used improperly, even fraudulently. In this vain, your client is now asking for a "forensic accounting" to be made available to him. Firstly, there is obviously no legal basis for your client's request and your letter cites no such authority. Secondly, the ample information provided regularly on our extensive website, including monthly progress reports from each studio, published headcounts and the like, would enable any person familiar with the cost of game development to assess the proper spending of the funds raised. Your client claims to be such an experienced person, so we are a bit perplexed about this demand coming in particular from him. However, your client's past career performance, including struggles with tax liens and a bankruptcy proceeding, begs the question what makes him think that he is even qualified to review and properly assess the information demanded by him. The complete absence of any functioning or successful game having ever been released by him in his 20+ year "career" of game development further raises the question why he would consider himself qualified to cast any judgment on "Star Citizen." Unlike his endeavors in the game development field, "Star Citizen" and the modules and work released to date have received enthusiastic responses in the game community and press, a success that continues unimpeded despite your client's desperate efforts to harm it for his own publicity gains.

In the internet age every successful venture will have to deal with trolls. Your client's online communications combine baseless allegations with personal insults while at the same time promoting himself and his nascent and not yet functional game - the facts speak for themselves. We are certainly more than ready and willing to respond to any legal action that your client wishes to instigate.

In sum, your client's allegations and demands are completely without basis and hereby rejected in their entirety.

Nothing in this letter is intended to be, or is, a waiver of any rights of the Company or its senior executives who have been subject to abuse by your client. All such rights are expressly reserved. Thank you.


Ortwin Freyermuth

Co-Founter, Vice-Chairman

& General Counsel

cc: William P. Donovan Jr., Esq., Cooley LLP

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Latest Derek blog. Check out the leaked resignation letter.


Yeah internally it's a mess, they seem to have 2/100 landing zones 2/3rds completed in 2.5 years of development, with lots of dodging around "how long did this take to make" and "how do you expect to make all the others on time" in their communication with backers.

They're onto their third re-do for ships which were previously finished and included in official trailers. Another ship they've spent three years working on, including outsourcing it maybe four times, according to this mental timeline from the subreddit:

- November 2012

CIG add the Cutlass to the initial ships roster. It's priced the same as the Hornet and Freelancer with a nice concept art and the description of a pirate-favoured fighter with slightly less armament and improved cargo capacity.

The package also included less credits to compensate for "bonus" tractor beam and docking collar.

- August 2013

First render of the Cutlass revealed. Some people think it looks too large. The concept artist actually thinks it's a cargo ship.

Cutlass statue added to the hangar. I won't comment on that.

- September 2013

Pirate ships comm-link with a few Cutlass renders and the infamous forgotten hull jig (speaking of forgotten, so is the Caterpillar)

- November 2013

Jump point article on the Cutlass, later published as the WIP: Cutlass. "Dogfighter with unparalleled manoeuvrability" quote from CR.

- December 2013

Cutlass finally hangar ready, much later than the wave 2 Avenger.

Most animations don't work yet and some textures are a little junky but we are finally seeing progress.

Things should go faster now, right?

... right?

- October 2014

Cutlass variants released in a rush with questionable quality and obvious modelling errors, stuck behind the big 890 Jump detailed reveal.

Cutlass commercial shows a highly agile ship that can dance with a Scythe and shake it off.

Also release of the underwhelming Cutlass brochure.

This thread is created.

The bonus items in the pirate package are not bonus at all and are part of every Cutlass. Be glad you got the backers rewards with your package that costed as must as a Hornet/Freelancer.

Ben answers our questions in a very satisfactory and non-dismissive manner. We are all reassured than nothing is wrong with the ship and nobody would ever ask for a Deluxe Cutlass.


The super cool ship that has nothing wrong with it (paraphrasing Ben) is sent to Foundry42 for white-boxing.

Ben tell us it will be a priority task.

- December 2014

Cutlass Black is flight ready in AC 1.0. Most of the thrusters don't work and it fly like a drunk whale. Speed is limited to 160.

Cutlass owners dreams are mostly crushed.

- February 2015

Sandi publishes two potato cam pictures of Cutlass paint-overs.

They are later shown in AtV as sneak peek. We never get any kind of explanation.

- May 2015

Leak of the dev build. No trace of the reworked Cutlass.

Out of nowhere, we learn in RtV that the Cutlass has been outsourced.

- June 2015

We learn from a dev in RSI Chat that the rework is visual only.

EIGHT MONTHS since the Cutlass was sent to F42.

- July 2015

Somebody managed to ask in RtV if the Cutlass role has changed,

Answer is that it was always meant to be a bulkier combat ship for raiding.

Also "Cutlass won’t go into a hardcore military engagement – they’d be shredded."

- August 2015

Gamescom presentation.

A slide mention the "NEW Cutlass" and focus on modularity.

Multicrew demo is awesome and full of cool ships doing cool things. Cutlass on the other hand shows the old Blue model with duct-taped chairs used as a throw-away unwieldy dropship that's discarded immediately in favour of the Retaliator and later instantly blown up by the Constellation foe when she arrives.

Meanwhile they put an LTI barebone version of the Retaliator on sale for the same price as the Cutlass Blue.

The same is true for like half a dozen others.


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I'm really looking forward to seeing how Star Citizen turns out and the reactions of everyone who is vigorously declaring it the best thing ever since it was announced. And this Smart vs Roberts kerfuffle makes it even more entertaining. Great stuff.

Do we even have a Star Citizen thread? It seems to have pretty much passed me by.

Let's just call this thread the official SC thread, no?

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Both of those employees are gone from the internal employee register, so it seems legit.

Although they've had unusually large turnover of people from key positions for a while so it's hard to know if the reasons are correct or it was just due to their constant Death March Crunch - I mean this was just June and July alone:

Alex Mayberry (Executive Producer)
Travis Day (Executive Producer)
Chelsea Day
Riham Toulan, Senior Technical Artist (left Foundry 42 Frankfurt in July 2015)
Andrew Matthews (Global Lead Character Artist, left Foundry 42 in June 2015 and went back to Rocksteady)
Erasmus Brosdau (Art Director of Cinematics, left Foundry 42 Frankfurt in July 2015 and went back to what seems Crytek)
Bjorn Seinstra (Lead Vehicle Artist / Environment Artist, left Foundry 42 in June 2015)
Lance Powell (Supervising Art Director)
Jenny Varner
Andrew Jones (Character Pipeline Producer)
Simon Davies (Senior Programmer)
Mike Northeast (Lead Systems Designer)
Seth Nash - (Senior Character Artist)
Rest of UK Character Team left as well, source isn't sure about the names involved.

Since then they also cut off connections with two external studios - the one developing the shooter, which they said they were cutting off because the work was finished (despite this coming two weeks after it was declared delayed indefinitely) and an art outsourcing studio who were making ships - both of which would fit the downsizing allegations.

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Smart is just desperate for attention.

I've got a feeling it won't turn out. Another Godus-like fiasco only on a much grander scale.

They've already released some (alpha) modules, so it will definitely turn out in some form or another even if they end up not releasing anything beyond that. But yea, I'm also expecting a Godus-like fiasco on a much grander scale. The postmortems are going to extremely interesting.

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It's a bit shit for the industry though - a proper setback for crowdfunding. Not to mention the people who are likely to lose their jobs.

Although if it results in some proper regulation and enforced transparency over how funds are spent then there might be some long term good to come out of this.

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I'm not sure it will be that much of a setback for crowdfunding - Star Citizen is such an outlier for this sort of thing - it's on a scale so far removed from even the biggest gaming crodwfunding projects, it's difficult to think of it as part of the same sort of thing.

The warning signs were there right from the start: those being the words "Chris Roberts", (who was the go-to reference 20 years ago for someone not being able to ship a game on time or budget) and "massively scoped space sim".

I don't think the (partial) failure of a huge project that many had doubts about throughout will affect the bread and butter of crowdfunded games, unless the fallout is an onerous level of regulation making small projects impractical.

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I certainly hope so. The reaction of the lunatics who spent $10,000 on virtual spaceships is going to be more entertaining than Star Citizen the game can ever be.

I wonder if they're insane enough to drop that kind of cash are the bonkers enough to want bloody revenge if the shit hits the fan.

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It's crazy that there's any kind of in-game purchase that costs that much. Surely the advantage you'd expect over other people for that amount of money would destroy any balance.

And core gameplay has still got to be enjoyable for the free/low cost end of the scale, otherwise no-one would be playing- I really don't see how any experience within the same game could be that much better to warrant paying $1000. I suppose there are always people with money to burn though.

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I don't understand why people are buying $1000 ships, or how the game has raised $90m (or whatever) in funding. I could understand it if Miyamoto or similar was behind the game, but it's Chris Roberts - it's not like he's got this reputation as the greatest videogame designer of all time, or even one of the most popular. He's that guy who did the Wing Commander games. They were pretty popular, but they weren't THAT popular. Ditto Starlancer and Freelancer - they were meant to be pretty solid games, but they weren't even close to doing Call of Duty numbers. The only other things Roberts has done were Stryker's Run on the BBC Micro, and that dreadful Wing Commander film.

Where have all these Star Citizen fans come from, and why are they chucking so much money at the game? If Wing Commander had $90m worth of fans out there, then the franchise would still be going, surely?

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It's a bit like the Star Wars thread, they've done a really good job encouraging scifi escapism (and general space game nostalgia) through marketing and creating an echo chamber where it's super acceptable to buy $150 BB-8s or $400 Starliners as a sign of your fanboy commitment.

Average spend is $100 so far, some of the whales have spent $25,000 (one guy named Accelerwraith while unemployed for 7 months, which yikes).

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I think people aren't chucking money at "a new WIng Commander" or "a new game by Chris Roberts" but at the idea of the ultimate videogame, one that is so vast and detailed and incredible that you won't ever need any other videogame again because you'll be playing Star Citizen forever and it will really feel like you're living out your most amazing scifi fantasies - in spaaaaaaace. Of course there's no fucking way that the actual game, even if they ever manage to finish it, will live up to that idea.

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