Chris Roberts says Star Citizen is finally pushing for the 1.0 ‘finish line’

Crowdfunded space sim Star Citizen achieved a new milestone recently—the first player to seamlessly jump between two star systems on different servers—and now the guy in charge, Cloud Imperium Games CEO Chris Roberts, is indicating that the 1.0 release might finally be in sight.

It’s been over a decade since Roberts first showed me a prototype for Star Citizen. The space game has now raised over $670 million and become two distinct projects: A singleplayer Wing Commander successor called Squadron 42, and the Star Citizen persistent universe MMO. 

Squadron 42, which stars famous actors including Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill, and Gary Oldman, was declared “feature complete” late last year, and now Roberts says those features are making their way into the persistent universe “at an accelerated rate.” Meanwhile, the recent tech milestone, which saw a player named “MrTrash” (of course that’s their name) become the first to travel between star systems by wormhole, represents a vital step toward the MMO’s 1.0 release, according to the CEO.

“After many hard years of work towards a goal many thought was impossible, we are on the cusp of delivering one of the final pieces of technology that will enable a connected, shared universe that thousands of people can experience together at the same time,” wrote Roberts in his latest dispatch to backers.

The technology, which they call “server meshing,” allows players to seamlessly travel between locations that are hosted on different servers (it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the gist). The recent test also set a new record for concurrent players on a Star Citizen server shard—350—according to Roberts. 

There’s more detail on server meshing in a Q&A, but the big takeaway here is that Roberts believes Star Citizen’s 1.0 release is close enough to start seriously talking about again. Now that Squadron 42 is feature complete, the dev team has been reorganized and is setting sail “for Star Citizen’s own finish line,” he said—though crossing that line of course won’t mean the end of development.

“Star Citizen 1.0 is what we consider the features and content set to represent ‘commercial’ release,” Roberts wrote. “This means that the game is welcoming to new players, stable, and polished with enough gameplay and content to engage players continuously. In other words, it is no longer Alpha or Early Access.”

Cloud Imperium technology chief Benoit Beausejour says the company is now “charging full steam ahead” toward launching server meshing in Star Citizen Alpha 4.0, which will “mark a new beginning” for the game architecture. Senior game director Rich Tyrer added that, as they pursue the 1.0 goal, players should expect “large updates each quarter with many changes to systems that have not been touched in a long time like Economy, Insurance, etc,” as well as “a whole suite of quality-of-life improvements” and “brand-new features and content.”

As part of this 1.0 push, Roberts says he’s moved from Los Angeles to Austin to put himself closer to the time zones of Manchester, Frankfurt, and Montreal, where Star Citizen development is focused. Cloud Imperium’s LA office has shrunk as a result, with developers based there asked to relocate to other offices, primarily Manchester. Roberts notes one departure from the company. Persistent universe live director Todd Papy, who had lived in the UK but moved back to the US, was let go: “…after much soul searching, I determined that we cannot afford to have this role remote from the main team in Manchester for a good portion of the year,” Roberts wrote.

“I will miss the sunny skies and beaches of Los Angeles, but Star Citizen and Squadron 42 take precedence,” concluded the CEO. “The journey is longer and more difficult than I anticipated 11 ½ years ago, but the final destination is so much more exciting and fulfilling. I would have never in my dreams expected to have the opportunity to build something on the scale and ambition of Star Citizen, and because of this feel incredibly blessed by all of your support, and I am determined to finish strong.”

Squadron 42, which was at one point meant to release in 2014, and then in 2016, does not have a release date, and neither does Star Citizen 1.0, although you can play the current alpha version by purchasing a starter pack. According to Roberts, more than 1.1 million players logged in last year. You can read his full post about the state and future of Star Citizen here