Cloud Imperium Games has released the delayed Arena Commander dogfighting module for PC space game Star Citizen.
Arena Commander V0.8 gives every qualified backer access to the Vanduul Swarm and Freeflight modes, and the Aurora, 300i and Hornet ships. You need Alpha access or an Arena Commander pass to play.
There's also multiplayer functionality for the Battle Royale and Team modes, but they're only available to a small number of players right now as CIG battle lag and synch issues. The modes will be opened up to more players over the coming weeks.
"Remember: V0.8 is just the beginning," chief developer Chris Roberts wrote on the Roberts Space Industries website.
"It's the start of a hard push for the development team as we head towards V0.9 and finally V1.0, at which point Arena Commander will be 'feature complete' with the modes, maps and options promised at PAX. By the time V1.0 drops, we aim for the entire community to have access to the multiplayer game modes."
To coincide with the launch, CIG released a special Arena Commander manual in pdf form. This teaches you how to play and goes into the Star Citizen universe in a fashion anyone who obsessed over Roberts' Wing Commander games will appreciate.
Meanwhile, Roberts discussed the development of Star Citizen, highlighting how it had tried to make its development process as open and transparent as possible with the release of monthly reports from the various studios at work on the game. There are more than 250 people working on Star Citizen, Roberts said.
"The level of ambition with Star Citizen is unprecedented in the independent world and has only been made possible by your commitment and excitement. Not everything will go smoothly or on time, as a project of this size and complexity will always present unforeseen issues, which is why we have been endeavouring to share information with you that anyone in the traditional publishing model would not."
Roberts then addressed the concern from some quarters about the speed of development of the game in relation to the amount of money it has raised through crowdfunding. It holds the world record for the most ever raised through a crowdfunded project with over $44m and rising.
Roberts wondered whether CIG should continue to share internal date targets.
"I'm given pause not by internal criticism from frustrated backers who really just want to get into space (which we completely understand!) but by sensationalistic headlines that imply we're not working hard or that the game is some sort of scam," Roberts said.
"I can assure you that the whole team is committed to making the best game possible, so it is disheartening when our attempts at transparency are used against us to paint a negative picture of this amazing project."
Roberts launched a poll to find the answer.
"Since we're a community driven game, I'm going to leave it up to you whether you want the same level of visibility with regards to dates (knowing that they are estimates and are subject to change) or would rather just be given hard, long-term dates like a publisher."