Letter From the Chairman

What we do now, echoes in eternity

– Marcus Aurelius

2023 marked the beginning of a transformative chapter for Cloud Imperium and both of our games. 

With Alpha 3.18, our first release of 2023, the team delivered Persistent Entity Streaming (PES), the foundational tech that is necessary for Server Meshing (SM). As we mentioned in the last letter, PES is the hardest part of the work needed for SM and is the one that required the most engineering, so overcoming the challenges with this release last year was mission critical. The launch of Alpha 3.18 was far more challenging than we anticipated, and we discovered some issues with our backend database that only were visible at the scale we see on a live release as opposed to the Persistent Test Universe (PTU).  Outside of this, we uncovered a lot of little issues that come from a truly persistent universe; while it is amazing to come across a wreck from a player combat a week ago, it is not so fun to try and land at a hangar where the last three ships crashed and left debris laying around, blocking your landing pad. We slowly worked through these issues, and others, but it was a challenging time both for the development team and the community. These obstacles not only tested our skills and determination but also demonstrated our resilience as we overcame them.  

Beyond PES, 2023 welcomed the long-awaited implementation of Salvage, encompassing hull stripping, structural, component, and repair, accompanied by relevant missions. Traders reaped the benefits of an overhauled (no pun intended) and physicalized cargo system, while players across the board enjoyed many new missions spanning both PVE and PVP scenarios.

Our development journey reached a series of significant milestones last year, all of which took center stage at CitizenCon 2953. The magnitude of this event for everyone at CIG cannot be overstated, especially considering it marked our first in-person CitizenCon in over four years! We have been powered by all of your excitement since the very beginning of the journey, and we’ve missed the energy that comes from spending time together sharing our mutual excitement about what we’re building. 

The show was an incredible affirmation of all our hard work both on Star Citizen and Squadron 42 in 2023, and kicked off our best Q4 ever in terms of player logins and engagements. Thanks to all of you, and a huge wave in Q4, 2023 was our best year ever, with record highs in daily active players, monthly active players, unique logins, and hours played for the year. More than 1.1 million of you set foot into the Persistent Universe in 2023! 

The other major milestone in 2023 was welcoming the team at Turbulent fully into the CIG family. Our partners since the end of 2012, Turbulent have been responsible for large parts of our online infrastructure, and have greatly contributed to our growth and success. This acquisition allows us to streamline our efforts and formally gives us a significant presence in Montreal, Canada, which is a hot bed of video game talent. As part of this acquisition, we gained two key senior executives; Benoit Beausejour, the Chief Technical Officer of Turbulent, who now becomes the CTO of Cloud Imperium and the head of our Core Technology Group (CTG). You already will know Benoit from his presentations on our Server Meshing plans at the last two CitizenCons. The second key executive to join our ranks is Marc Beaudet, who was the CEO of Turbulent and becomes our Senior Vice President, Studio Operations, in charge of the operations and welfare of the thousand plus people working on Star Citizen and Squadron 42, spread between our five offices in Austin, Texas, Los Angeles, California, Manchester, England, Frankfurt, Germany, and now Montreal, Canada. 

As I look back on 2023, with a few months now to reflect and appreciate the hard work of the team around me, I can say that our experience at CitizenCon 2953, and the excitement from our community both at the show and in the game as they logged into Star Citizen in record numbers last year, left me feeling not only proud, but also deeply grateful and reinvigorated for the year ahead. 

And what a year it is shaping up to be!  

On Squadron 42 that is taking the game from Feature Complete to Content Complete, ensuring the game has the necessary polish and feels worthy of being the spiritual successor to Wing Commander. To this end the team is hard at work, heads down, driving towards the finish line. I am incredibly excited about how the game is shaping up and we will have more to share with you at this year’s CitizenCon, which will be held in Manchester, England. 

On the Star Citizen front, the teams are preparing to deliver Server Meshing and expanding the universe of Star Citizen to multiple Star Systems.  

One of the key milestones of human achievement in the lore of Star Citizen is “First Jump Day,” when legendary Human astrophysicist and pilot, Nick Croshaw, discovered and navigated the first Jump Point, on 10th April 2271, and became the first Human to visit a planetary system beyond Sol. 

Eventually that system was named Croshaw in his honor – his journey was described as “the Jump that changed the course of Humanity” – and led to the star-faring future we depict in Star Citizen and Squadron 42. 

You might wonder why I am telling you this story – well, a little ahead of the historic date of April 10th, we had our own First Jump Day celebration on Star Citizen’s Tech Preview Channel this weekend!  For this test of our progress on Server Meshing and the Replication layer technology, we opened our first functioning Jump Gates, and allowed players to test travelling between our 2 systems for the first time in our history!  Players were able to travel between Stanton and Pyro via wormholes, with each system streaming in and out seamlessly. For those of you interested, our ‘verse’s own Nick Croshaw honor goes to an Evocati member called “MrTrash,” who we believe was the first in the community to successfully jump!  During the test, it is worth highlighting that we also achieved 350 concurrent players in a single shard (e.g. a Replication Layer with two connected servers), setting a new record for concurrent players in a single instance in Star Citizen!  

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.  

I invited Benoit, who oversaw this historic test as our new CTO, to share a few thoughts about this monumental milestone he helped bring to fruition: 

As the new Chief Technology Officer at Cloud Imperium, I’m thrilled to join the CIG family and lead our technology group. We’re dedicated to pushing
boundaries, and I’m honored to represent and care for this team of pioneers and trailblazers.
 

One of my first initiatives as CTO was establishing the Technology Preview channel. It’s a space where developers can fearlessly test large technology
changes with players way before they go live, fostering the spirit of open development with our community.
 

In 2024, our Server Meshing journey is hitting its stride after years of dedication. We’re closing in on the original vision we set out to achieve. 

This journey started long ago with the introduction of streaming capabilities to StarEngine like Client-side Object Container Streaming (OCS) followed
by Server-side Object Container Streaming (SOCS), and progressing to Persistent Entity Streaming (PES) to maintain the entire game world; every step
has been building toward our goal: To support MMO-level player populations in a high fidelity game environment of large magnitude. 
 

We are gearing up to release the replication layer in 3.23. This is a big deal—it’s the foundation we build the mesh on. As a player you should perceive
this specifically when dealing with server crashes (30k) as those will no longer cause immediate disconnection but “gracefully” recover allowing you to
continue to play. For developers, this milestone marks the true separation between the simulation and the replication, a humongous achievement for the
game and for StarEngine.  
 

But hey, we’re not hitting pause there. We’re charging full steam ahead towards launching our first multi-server mesh in 4.0. For this, multiple servers work together to simulate parts of the universe. As a player, this will enable you to visit Pyro through the Jump Gate, where the jump tunnels transition seamlessly between game servers. Game shards will also host more players so you should encounter more friends (or foes) along the way. 

This will mark a new beginning for our game architecture. In the coming weeks and months, get ready for more Technical Preview tests with various mesh configurations: multiple game servers per solar system and seamless transitions without gates. We’re talking about layouts where servers are dedicated to
entire planets and moons, others focused solely on Landing Zones or other key locations, with plenty of higher player count experiments.
 

I’m genuinely proud to be part of this team. While we face challenges ahead, I’m filled with relentless optimism knowing that amazing successes are waiting for us.

O7!” 

– Benoit Beausejour, CTO

As we set our sights on the year ahead, the team remains focused and committed to ushering the community into uncharted territories with the release of Pyro and Star Citizen Alpha 4.0. I cannot stress how much this is an inflection point, as it will allow many more people to play together, but also to seamlessly travel to different Star Systems.  

All of this points towards 2024 being our biggest and best year yet in the universe of Star Citizen. But Star Citizen Alpha 4.0 is not our final destination! And with that I have more exciting news to share. 

As we revealed at CitizenCon with Squadron 42 achieving the Feature Complete milestone, we are now able to bring features developed for Squadron 42 to the persistent universe at an accelerated rate.  

As part of this, towards the end of last year we decided to re-organize the Star Citizen and Squadron 42 teams to be more integrated, to facilitate bringing several years’ worth of feature work and polish to Star Citizen, and finally set our sail out for Star Citizen’s own finish line. 

While we recognize that there is no definitive finish line in an online MMO, and that we will always be adding new features and content for many, many years to come, Star Citizen 1.0 is what we consider the features and content set to represent “commercial” release. 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. 

Much like we planned out Squadron 42’s drive to Feature Complete and the upcoming Content Complete status, we spent significant time looking at what Star Citizen 1.0 means and what it would take to get there. 

To facilitate this, I am pleased to share that our very own Rich Tyrer will be taking on a new role as  Senior Game Director, overseeing both the development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 alongside me. With this change, you’ll start to see a more rapid expansion of features and content coming from Squadron 42 to Star Citizen, starting with Alpha 3.23, which is shaping up to be one of our biggest releases to date in terms of new features getting into player’s hands. When we announced at CitizenCon that we would start bringing across feature work that we had developed and refined in the push to feature complete for Squadron 42, we were not kidding! 

As Game Director on Squadron 42, Rich played a crucial role in helping steer Squadron 42 to its current Feature Complete status. Under his stewardship, Squadron 42 experienced a significant surge of progress, a momentum we fully anticipate will continue to carry us towards Content Complete, Beta, and release.

“Firstly, I’d like to take this opportunity to say how great it is to be back working on Star Citizen. Some of you may already know me but I was the
Core Gameplay Pillar Director before I moved over to become the Game Director on SQ42 a few years back. With this new role I will be coming on
board to help push Star Citizen to the next stage of its development, ultimately culminating in leaving early access and releasing the 1.0 version
of the game. 
 

This begins with identifying what features and content are required to create a fully realised space MMO while laying the foundations for future
updates. To be 100% clear though, this doesn’t mean going back to the drawing board or totally changing the vision of what SC currently is. With
this aim, Chris and I have overseen the creation of a roadmap that takes us all the way up to 1.0 and outlines all the features and content we need,
and just as crucially, the ones that will come post full release.
 

With my role now overseeing both projects with Chris, and the fact that SQ42 has hit its Feature Complete milestone, it has provided an opportunity
to reshuffle the teams. This should see a large contingent of gameplay teams now coming back to focus on SC. We’ve also taken the opportunity to
move away from heavily specialised teams like Actor Feature and Vehicle Feature to more generic gameplay teams that should allow us to be a lot
more flexible and shoulder some of the heavier burdens those teams used to carry. 
 

While these teams will still be instrumental in shipping SQ42, they will now be focussed on bringing all the existing features over to SC, as well as
working on brand-new features like Base Building and Crafting to help round out the 1.0 experience. 
 

With every release going forward, the intention is to move ourselves closer to that end goal – so you should expect to see large updates each quarter
with many changes to systems that have not been touched in a long time like Economy, Insurance, etc., alongside a whole suite of quality-of-life
improvements to things like Inventory, Missions, mobiGlas, etc. coupled with totally brand-new features and content.
 

We have set very ambitious goals for ourselves internally both for the game and technology teams, but Chris and I truly believe they are achievable, and
hopefully you can start to see that progress starting with 3.23 and beyond.
 

Rich Tyrer, Senior Game Director

Working in tandem, Rich and I will continue to establish the strategic vision to bring to life the intended Star Citizen gameplay experience. As Rich said, over the past few months, our teams have been busily planning the upcoming major milestones for the Persistent Universe, culminating in what we refer to as “Star Citizen 1.0.” As that roadmap comes together and becomes validated, we look forward to sharing with you both its vision and executional plan later this year. 

As part of this development re-organization, we have made a few significant changes. From a personal standpoint I have moved to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles to be closer in time zone to our main development operations in Manchester, Frankfurt, and Montreal. I am spending significant time at our largest studio in Manchester with almost 600 staff, as I sit with Rich and the teams, working towards completion on Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. As part of this, we made the difficult decision to ask the Los Angeles development team, which had increasingly been providing support for the main development teams based in Manchester, to relocate to join other teams, primarily in Manchester, but also in Austin and Montreal. Los Angeles, while shrinking, will still be an important office for the company, but one focusing on a business support role with Marketing, Finance, Legal and HR. As part of this reorganization, we sadly waved goodbye to the Persistent Universe Live Director, Todd Papy as he had moved back to the US from the UK last year for family reasons, and 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. It is a sad moment, as Todd worked diligently for the last 9 years on Star Citizen, making many important contributions and providing excellent leadership of his teams. I wish him the best of luck and look forward to seeing what he does next.  

I will miss the sunny skies and beaches of Los Angeles, but Star Citizen and Squadron 42 take precedence. 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.  

In a marathon, they say the last mile is the hardest, but to quote the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, “What we do now echoes in eternity!”

I am looking forward to you getting your hands on Star Citizen Alpha 3.23 soon, where you will finally be able to experience many features we have been hard at work on for the past couple of years, which will then lead into Invictus Launch Week in May. As a lead up to Invictus, we have prepared a series of missions to earn your UEE Civilian Defense Force Stripes, and potentially earn an (incredibly powerful and unprecedented) in-game upgrade if you complete all of them, so you are ready to face XenoThreat in a more personal manner! 

The Power of Community 

The driving force behind our success is our extended team – each and every one of you. Together, we have built a community that not only plays a crucial role in our development, but also embodies our shared passion for the Star Citizen universe. It is you who has propelled us forward.  Without your passion, your willingness to test, to be undeterred by bugs and crashes, to be vocal with your thoughts, and stamina for the long and windy road, there would be no Star Citizen or CIG. 

You were there for the iconic helmet flip and the opening of the hangar doors for the first time in Alpha 0.8. Together, we explored the vast expanse of the Persistent Universe for the first time in Alpha 2.0, and you were onboard for the inaugural planetary landing in Alpha 3.0. And soon we will be leaving the Stanton System as we venture into the lawless wastelands of the Pyro system in Alpha 4.0 thanks to Server Meshing. And beyond this Star Citizen 1.0 twinkles on the horizon!  The future has never been so bright! 

And I couldn’t be happier taking this journey with all of you! 

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