Say what you will about Chris Roberts, the guy knows how to make an entrance. After spending a decade away from the game business producing movies, the man behind legendary PC space sims like Wing Commander, Privateer, and Freelancer jumped back into the scene with a breathtaking video demo for Star Citizen, a new space sim effort in the same vein as the earlier games for which he’s famous. The initial interest in the game was so high that it overwhelmed Robert’s servers and brought down the site’s proprietary crowdfunding solution for a few days. Since then, the site has come back and the effort has raised over $2.6 million in pledges from fans eager for the spiritual successor to Wing Commander, including over $850,000 more from a Kickstarter set up later.
Why come back to game development now? It’s all about the technology, and Roberts tells Ars that the tech has “moved on enough where I felt like I could do a whole different level of fidelity in terms of simulation of the world and the visuals I could deliver on that. I was always very frustrated by that in the past. Now I’m sort of looking at stuff that I could do in real time that, when I was making the Wing Commander movie, we needed millions of dollars of SGI machines and days to render. That’s very exciting to me, because that’s sort of my fantasy, playing something that has the visual fidelity of a movie to it.”