Star Citizen begins its long journey towards a full release next Thursday with the launch of the first slice of content to backers of its phenomenally successful Kickstarter campaign.
The small slice, which gives players a hangar they can freely navigate using an avatar, is the first of several releases planned over the coming months. A dogfighting module, where players can fight other AI ships in an enclosed arena, is planned before the year's out, while a planetside module is due for release next March.
The hangar is split into three tiers - one of which can be explored with a drivable buggy - and any ships backers have pledged for can be entered and examined.
Star Citizen's model, inspired by the slow release of Minecraft, is part of Kickstarter's most successful campaign, with over $15 million raised to date. The original plan was to have the crowdfunding backed up by investor's money, but it's proven so successful that Roberts has decided to make Star Citizen entirely community funded.
"I'm actually not taking money from investors now. The budget for what we're delivering is about $20 million, and we're almost there - we'll probably be there before the end of the year," he told Eurogamer.
"The nice thing about not taking the investor's money is, as much as they're nice investors, they want a return at some point. If this thing's a big success, they'll say, 'EA and Activision want this for about $100 million and that gives me a certain return on my investment' - but that may not be the best thing for the game. I like the idea that the game gets 100 per cent community funded because all they care about is getting a great game, and all I care about is making a great game."
Powered by CryEngine 3, Star Citizen remains focused on high-end PCs, though Roberts isn't discounting the possibility of console versions at some point in the future. "It would have to be the next generation of consoles," he said. "Right now we're just on one platform - but basically [next-gen consoles] are high-end PCs with custom operating systems."
Microsoft or Sony would have to provide little resistance to Star Citizens MMO-like model that pushes updates and new content constantly to players. "The tenets of the game are free content updates reacting to what the players are doing. If the platform holders wanted to do that, then great."