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Life, the universe and everything: a $42,000 fleet in Star Citizen

Published: 12:20, 16 June 2020
Fox Anderson's total pledge amount in Star Citizen
Star Citizen: Fox Anderson's total pledge amount.

Star Citizen is largely funded by backers through "pledges" that get them real ships and items. While most backers are people who've spent $45 for a starter package, there are some who've spent more: Meet Fox Anderson

For its fans, the Star Citizen project shows what the crowd funding model can achieve. Many gamers are disenchanted with the risk averse big publishers, who they primarily see as killing off creativity, and with a business model designed only to satisfy their stockholders. For such people,  Cloud Imperium Games and Star Citizen mastermind Chris Roberts are emblematic of something the world of gaming is losing: a visionary will to do something different, whatever it takes.

While many Star Citizen backers have likely only pledged the minimum amount to be able to play the game, it's clear there a good number of people who've gone well beyond that minimum amount. It's not a surprise. Star Citizen largely appeals to an older demographic of gamer, people with the money to spend on whatever they please. and Star Citizen, for all its current flaws and "alpha" state, pleases them. They believe in Chris.

One such backer is Fox Anderson. He's spent over $42,000 backing Star Citizen. So, we asked him what was his reason for spending this sizable sum on a game.

Fox Anderson's total pledge amount in Star Citizen Star Citizen: Fox Anderson's total pledge amount.

AltChar: How did you end up spending $42,000 on SC?

Fox Anderson: My goal was $42,000 backed.

AC: If someone was shocked by what you've spent - what would you say?

FA: Star Citizen isn't being predatory. Star Citizen is very clear about the fact that yes, you can pay insane amounts of money for some of these rewards and everything but these rewards and everything that you're getting, the ships are not the point of you giving the money. The point is to fund the development of the game to an absurd level that is like yeah, we want high quality. We want a literally no compromises game.

AC: That must get you everything that can be bought in SC?

FA:  The only things that I don't have our smaller ships that already do the things that my bigger ships do. Right. So it's like if I already own a bigger ship that does what the smaller ship does - like I didn't bother with the Prospector because I already have the Orion. I have over 150 ships.

A spaceship pilot in Star Citizen Star Citizen: Suited up and ready to fly

AC: How did you come to play SC?

FA: The closer gameplay is to physical reality, the better for me. I don't really care for anything that's overly arcadey.

I was complaining about the unrealistic mechanics on Star Trek Online. And one of my friends said 'Well, if you if you want realistic flight, this one's under development, go check it out'. And so I checked out Star Citizen and it was, it wasn't really my style aesthetic, because all I saw was really the Super Hornet back in like the 2012 demo, But I was really impressed with the graphics and how it looked like the ships were flying and stuff like that, So, I had my eye on it and then it got to a certain point where I decided to become a backer. To give you an idea of how early in the game's development that was, my backer number is under 300.

AC: What convinced you?

FA: Well basically the whole no compromises thing. When I saw ships and everything that were capable of acting in space, how they should actually act. I was convinced before you could even fly anything, I backed right as the hangar module first came out. You could walk around your ships and that was it. They were art pieces.

A racing ship in Star Citizen Star Citizen: Origin M50

AC: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

FA: Well, I'm in a wheelchair! I was 27 when I got shot. March 3 2005. I was working for a security company. I was the post commander at a car dealership. Post commander basically means that I was the one in charge of making sure other people were trained, there on time, had their equipment and stuff like that. And I was there a bit before shift, and a guy comes up with a gun and demands the security radios. When I moved to open up the sliding glass door that was behind me, apparently he didn't like how I was moving. He pulled the trigger. The look on his face and everything gives me the indication that he might not have actually intended to fire, it might have been an accidental pull. But I'll give him props on his aim because the bullet came in through my front, through my liver, destroyed two inches in my vena cava and lodged inside my spinal cord. 

I had just passed my firearms qualification. The very next day, that day's paycheck would have finally given me enough money saved to get my vest and had that happened even two days later I wouldn't have been paralysed.

And so yeah, that was a work injury, took eight years to finally win my case. The insurance company was trying to deny the injury had ever happened or anything like that for that long and I'm like rolling in a wheelchair and I'm like, I'm quite obviously paralyzed here.

So they settled outside of court, and for is not insignificant sum of money and a guaranteed income for the rest of my life.

Deep space exploration in an Anvil Carrack Star Citizen: Piloting an Anvil Carrack exploration ship

AC: Many of the ships you have bought require crews. Do you have anyone to crew them with?

FA: I'm in an ingame organisation called Imperium. Because I'm a capital ship owner and stuff like that. I'm more geared to understand the kind of responsibility of handing out organisation ships to our organisation members for missions and stuff like that. In addition, we're over 5000 member core members. And so we've got plenty of players to be crewing ships with. In addition, because of my own little thing with giving out almost $8,000 worth of starter packages, I've almost got my own little following.

If you own a Javelin,  and you don't know that's a multi-crew ship, you haven't been paying attention. But you're going to need a lot of people to be able to properly crew that thing. Keep in mind that each of the main guns is another person needed, your navigation, your shields, those are all more and more people. Just to minimum crew a Javelin you're gonna need like at least 12 people I think. You're going to be better off with 28, and that's not even that's not even accounting for the idea that you might get boarded.

The reason I own so many capital ships, is because I intend to rent half of them out to fund them to fund the operational cost of the other half.

Exploration ship in the game Star Citizen Star Citizen: Anvil Carrack

AC: You've given away $8,000 worth of game packages?

FA: Yeah, my total giveaway outside of pledges and stuff like that is right around $8,000. 

AC: How have you done that?

FA: Usually when streamers and stuff like that on Twitch are doing Star Citizen and they do like mainly Star Citizen. I donate to the channel - people like  wtfosaurus ( https://www.twitch.tv/saurus )

AC: Are you a completionist by nature?

FA: Yes it is especially when it comes to video games, I have a hard time not 100 per centing a video game.

AC: How about naming ships in SC? Would you like to do that?

FA: It was one of the reasons why I went straight for the completionist package. When they put the functionality in, we're supposed to actually have a unique name for our ships. Or, if it's not a unique name at least be able to have like, the ship has its own name that pops up on for your transponder when other people are scanning you. So, like one of my Javelins I plan on naming the Kitsune [Japanese for fox].

Orgin Jumpworks shadows a UEE Navy destroyer Star Citizen: Shadowing an Aegis Javelin class UEE Navy destroyer

AC: What do you say to people who hold the opinion that Star Citizen will never get there? Never do all the things they're attempting?

FA: Basically that's what they said about nearly every single innovation ever made by humanity. Everything that we have today, somebody somewhere along the line said we'll never get there. I believe that CIG will not only wind up getting there. I think that once they get to the point of where they start refining it, that it is going to probably wind up redefining some of the industry for good. 

AC: What's the most fun you've had in Star Citizen so far?

FA: Probably some stuff that's covered under NDA right now! [He's a member of the Evocati SC Test Community].  I would say I would have to say probably the most fun that I had, honestly, was talking with the devs over at their office and everything. I'm getting to fly things before anybody else did. Getting some inside knowledge about what was going on. The most fun that I've had, was basically hanging out with, talking to, and being able to give direct feedback some of which has actually made it into the game, to them. 

In terms of what's available right now, I think the most fun is when  you manage to get enough ships together for larger scale combats. The exploration is cool. The running around and saving individuals that's kind of neat. But the most fun is when you're when you're coordinating stuff, working with other people and actually accomplishing something going and taking down an Idris, taking down a Javelin. [Capital ships] Especially once they when they started fighting back. I was like, "that was amazing". Seeing people get popped, like, from no damage at all to instantly vaporised because the Javelin fired its main gun and hit them.

Mining vessels in Star Citizen Star Citizen: MISC Prospector Light Mining ship in QT

AC: What would you say to someone who said you've just paid for the level of access you have to Star Citizen and its creators?

FA: Depending upon your particular viewpoint I can't necessarily say that you're wrong. Was it my motivation? No. Getting that level of access was not the motivation for giving them the money. The motivation for giving them the money is: I finally see a game that is basically willing to go the no compromises route and doesn't have a publishing studio over their back, pushing the this microtransactions monetization scheme. It's a pay to own game. And they want to make it absolutely amazing. So to be able to have, even if it's small, some influence on it, like "Hey, the community doesn't think this is a good idea. I don't think this is a good idea".

Star Citizen: Most of Fox's fleet of ships. Star Citizen: Most of Fox's fleet of ships.

This is one of the reasons why when I was there, Chris actually listened to me, like sat down with me for a while talking to me about, about the game, what I think should be done and whatnot. Did all my ideas and everything get listened to and whatnot and implemented into the game, right then and there? No, of course not. I'm one guy. You're talking about this is his pet project, not mine, but he was willing to listen.

So even though this wasn't the motivation, this was an emergent property of giving them that much money in that they listened to me.

One of my pet peeves, and this was an example that I gave Chris Roberts, personally, when he asked me if there was anything that I would actually change, and I were like, Well, right now, you've got four little tiny retro thrusters that are the shootout and a stream about the size of a pencil. And those are decelerating faster than your main engines get you up to top speed, on the Origin M50 for example. And so eventually they did wind up changing that.

A suit of space armour in Star Citizen Star Citizen: Preparing to fly from Port Olisar

AC: Anything you'd improve in SC?

FA: I think they need to make the some of the UI controls for, you know, mining rocks and stuff like that a little bit more intuitive.

I'm very much in favour of more realism in the flight rather than the rule of cool. I think they need to hire Morphologis [ YouTuber who does videos on ship architecture] because the, an architect reviews series, their ships and everything is vastly valuable information for them, because they really do need an architect for their stuff. Because especially their Origin ships, especially, there are gaps. Because there's a lot of wasted space and stuff like that that you would never waste if you were actually building a starship. Especially the Origin ships!

I mean, granted - having large open spaces in a ship that would absolutely be a status symbol of luxury of, "Hey, I can afford to upkeep this massive area and keep it oxygenated despite everything even though it's only servicing a couple of people."

I would love it if they upgraded to UE5. I do understand why they made the choices they did with CryEngine at the time.

AC: Is gaming your whole life?

FA: More broadly, it's one of my few major hobbies. Archery and martial arts are my physical hobbies. Gaming and RC aeroplanes and helicopters and tabletop role playing games are my major, non-physical hobbies.

An assault ship in the space simulator Star Citizen Star Citizen: Aegis Hammerhead

AC: If someone comes to you and says should I play Star Citizen - what would you say?

FA: I would say, at the very least, go check it out on one of the free flight weekends popping up every once in a while. If they're an individual that I already know is into space games or simulators or anything like that, then I would absolutely say yes, at least check it out. I know that not every game is for every person there; I don't think that there's a game out there that can exist with our current level of technology, that would be able to satisfy every single person that wants to play video games.

And you're certainly not going to ever wind up with a situation where you have a video game that can satisfy everybody on the planet because some people don't like video games!

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