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Star Citizen Senior Dev on VR Support “Don’t Hold Your Breath”

PostDate:06/02/2017

Star Citizen‘s Senior Graphics Programmer Ben Parry has dropped a disappointing bombshell regarding the status of the crowdfunded title’s long awaited VR support, indicating that players may be waiting some time for it to emerge.

Star Citizen was the first title I ever wrote about on Road to VR, way back in the mists of 2012. The reason? The title was one of the first big titles to not only promise VR support, but to make it a specific feature of its crowdfunding campaign, a $12M stretch goal to be exact.

Star Citizen of course passed that $12M goal with ease, such was the desire for the sort of no holds barred, detailed PC-centric space combat simulation amongst the gaming community. The current funding total for Star Citizen now stands at a staggering $142,569,464 from over 1.7 million donors – surely the most successful crowdfunding campaign of all time.

Of course, the problems with setting specific goals for a project, especially if that project happens to be the development of a game is that, even with the best of intentions, those goals can prove tricky to meet with delivery dates becoming ever more fluid as time passes. Star Citizen is a case in point. Its original scope in 2012 was that of a relatively simple cockpit-based space combat sim, but this has since morphed into something of a monster, with the likes of first person exploration joining mountains of feature creep added as more and more money poured into the project.

We reported towards the beginning of last year that CIP’s founder Chris Roberts’ had affirmed that VR support was still being worked on and that he “would be expecting it to get up to speed with the most recent VR stuff sometime early next year,” meaning Q1 2016.

So what is up with that VR support then? Well, Cloud Imperium Games‘ (makers of Star Citizen) Senior Graphics Programmer Ben Parry, responding to a question on just that subject a few days ago and stirred up a small hornets nest in doing so. Asked “With the new Amazon Lumberyard Engine and its easier to use integration functions, will we be seeing more talk of possibly moving back toward VR support for this game?”, Parry responded “Sorry to say, do not hold your breath for this. Ignoring the render tech for VR itself (which given the work we’ve done, would definitely be a read-and-rewrite job, not a merge-this-file job), making a game properly VR compliant takes a lot of work at the design and testing level regardless of the engine used. We’d probably need to get the framerate up a bit higher too, come to think of it.”

The statement caused a few eyebrows to rise, with some forum posters taking the comments to mean VR support may have been cancelled altogether. Parry however was quick to clarify saying “Sorry for any misunderstanding, my point was that some of the key obstacles to VR support aren’t about whether the engine has the technical capability for it. That kind of thinking leads to, well, this guy explains it better than I do. I’d prefer we don’t accidentally and permanently ruin anyone’s ability to enjoy VR.”

So virtual reality support is still on the cards, but we may be waiting some time for it. Another poster asked if VR support would make it into Star Citizen after the game took its finished form, to which Parry responded “I wouldn’t say finished. It’s a balance. It certainly adds an extra % time tax to every feature that involves drawing things or player interaction, for specialised testing and the inevitable bug fixing.” He took to Reddit to further clarify his original statement, re-affirming that VR support was not off the table.

It’s understandable VR implementation takes a very distant back seat to the actual completion of a game of course, that much is obvious. What’s more, it’s clear Parry has taken onboard the by now dominant view that VR support isn’t something you duct tape to the back of a project, it needs care and attention. This at least is an attitude that should be applauded.

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