Squadron 42, the single player story-driven portion of Star Citizen, got its beta delayed by about three months, or a season if you prefer. Previously scheduled for Q2 2020, it has now been moved to Q3 2020.
This is due to 'Staggered Development', a different approach to developing Star Citizen that the folks at Cloud Imperium Games have explained for the community.
What is staggered development?
Staggered Development is an approach that splits the various development teams between multiple delivery dates. This puts teams into a cadence whereby they are delivering larger features every couple of quarters instead of every quarter, but due to their staggered nature, you would still receive an update every quarter.
To oversimplify for clarity's sake, an example of this would be that half our dev team may be working on 3.7 features, tech, and content, while the other half would be working on 3.8. Once the team working on 3.7 delivers the patch, they would then transition to 3.9. Rinse and repeat.
Staggering the teams like this means 6-month cycles for development instead of 3, which means more time to ensure features are more complete with fewer bugs - all while still delivering quarterly patches.
Why staggered development?
This positive change allows us to continue delivering quarterly patches, but at a higher level of quality with fewer bugs. This does however mean we'll need to re-shuffle our schedules initially to better match this new cadence, but the result should provide a much more satisfying gameplay experience. It’s important to note that we are still in Alpha, so some bugs are of course expected. Still, we see bugs being reduced as staggered teams will have more time to develop/refine their features, tech, and content and put it through more thorough testing before it hits the live servers.
Does this mean no more quarterly releases?
No, this does not impact quarterly releases. We will still release 4 major Star Citizen patches a year. This change reduces the risk of delivering patches late because it gives us more time to prepare for PTU and Live Releases, and to make Star Citizen a polished, working, and fun game for everyone to enjoy.
What does this mean for the final feature list for Star Citizen?
We’re still making the Best Damn Space Sim Ever (BDSSE). That’s not changing. We are improving how we make the game, and because you’re along for that ride with us, we’re telling you about it!
How will this impact features on the Roadmap?
With a change to team timelines and sprint cycles, we’ll definitely have an initial re-calibration to adjust, both for Star Citizen and Squadron 42, but ultimately, we feel this will ensure more complete features with fewer critical bugs.
What does this mean for Squadron 42?
Ultimately, this is a really good thing for Squadron 42 development as well. Both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 share a codebase and as features come online for both games, they will be in a more stable/playable state, reducing potential blockers that can hinder and slow down development. You will of course notice that our target Beta date for Squadron 42 has moved back by 12 weeks in today’s Roadmap update, but this is a necessary step as a result of changing the overall development cadence, which we expect will create positive results in the overall delivery and experience of Squadron 42.
Squadron 42 features a star-studded cast, with actors like Gary Oldman, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill, John Rhys-Davies, Liam Cunningham, Ben Mendelsohn, Gillian Anderson, Andy Serkis and Rhona Mitra playing major characters in the storyline.