This week I sat down for a chat with RTMoose, or as many of you might know him from the Star Citizen subreddit, /u/Stupid_Question_Bot.
Erris: Welcome to an Relay The Relayterview! My name is Erris. Joining me today we’ve got SQB, or Stupid Question Bot, from the reddit forums.
SQB: Well, hello.
E: So, first off, can I call you Squeeb? Or SQB? Or…?
S: Well actually most people refer to me as my forum name. My game name is RTMoose. RT, or Moose, either one of those usually.
E: Okay, I will refer to you as Moose then! So because I mainly know you from the reddit forums, I’ve seen you around there a lot, what’s your favorite stupid question?
Moose: *sigh* …oh sorry, you broke the bot, I had to reboot there for a second. There are no favorite stupid questions.
E: *laughs* That’s good. Also unfortunate, because I like stupid questions. So how long have you been following Star Citizen?
M: Oh, well I found out about Star Citizen from one of my really good friends. He came in all wide-eyed telling me about it, and I guess it was right at the beginning of the Kickstarter?
M: I think he’s a golden ticket holder, so he was actually signed up for the pre-launch. And I was like, “Yeah I’m pledging for that.” And then it slipped out of my mind for some reason or another, and then he came back to me and reminded me about the last day. I think my pledge date is the 29th of October of 2012? But like right at the beginning.
E: So how long have you been, uh…I’m not gonna say trolling, but…intimidating the subreddit for Star Citizen?
M: Well, I’ve been there from the beginning I guess too. But you know, I mostly lurked for a long time because I was on the RSI forums mostly, but I got banned from there. Then I started becoming a little more active on reddit. And, I don’t know, my personality I guess is, I have very short patience for people who sort of expect other people to do things for them. When you have the magic of Google at your fingertips, and all you need to do is at the top of the Chrome browser you just type whatever question you have right there, you’ll find someone else has asked it, you know? I just feel like reddit is a discussion forum. It should be there to talk about things you know, not ask people things that have been asked a thousand times before.
E: Definitely. You had a question, I think it was today, I really thought it was a good discussion you brought up. If CIG are afraid of their players? I think it was?
M: *chuckles* Yeah, no, sometimes I’ll just ask a question to see what kind of answers people are gonna give. It’s not that I’m like trying to troll, it’s that I’m trying to get a gauge of just what casual responses are gonna be to certain ideas, right? Sometimes its like part of something that I’m gonna bring up in another thread that’s actually important. I just feel like, a lot of times, a lot of game companies, especially when CIG goes from “Yeah we’re gonna get 2 million dollars and build this sort of skeleton of a game” and they get a whole bunch of money, and have like 80 million dollars and 5 studios or whatever it is right now and all this stuff going on. You know they’re like, “Oh my god, we have a million people watching everything we do! Oh god what do we do?” That’s gotta be terrifying, you know? And that’s sort of the point, these guys, they’re not experienced in this, they don’t know what the hell they’re doing, they’re not EA who’s got like a multimillion dollar PR department that tells them exactly what they can and can’t say. They’ve got a bunch of devs running around saying, “Oh yeah we’re gonna do this!” and everyone’s like, “WHAT THE DEVS SAID!”, you know?
E: But like even bigger companies like EA, no one’s really done this kind of interaction this early into a game. Except maybe Minecraft.
M: Exactly, like Minecraft, DayZ. But look at DayZ, the guy’s gotten so many people to pay for that game and it’s still not really…
M: I know exactly what it was with this game, it’s just simply the fact of the matter that Chris Roberts, you know, all the people who played his games are of an age now where they might have a little extra money, and they remember that shit, and they’re looking at console games and they’re like “you fuckin’ asshole you ruined it”. And he comes in and he like, “I wanna build this. Remember this game? Remember doing this? Well, I’m gonna do this!” and you’re like, “Fuck yeah!”
E: Exactly! I’m right with you there. I’m doing this because I’m just as excited about this game. So, what do you wanna do in Star Citizen, like when the PU launches? What are your plans?
M: The first thing I’m doing is I’m going out F8 Lighting hunting. Because I know they’re gonna be out there and I know we can get them, so we’re gonna go out and get ourselves some.
E: That’s pretty good, actually one of the guys on The Relay, CmdrCruisinTom, has the same plan. He’s trying to arrange Lighting-hunting parties.
M: Oh and then there’s a couple people I’m gonna try to find, I think. Just have a couple conversations.
E: I won’t ask why. So, who’s your favorite person from the subreddit that you can think of right now that tends to go unnoticed? That isn’t as big a name as SQB or Nehkara.
M: I think probably MrHerpDerp. He always has insightful things to say. We started off, as with most of the people who I get along with really well now, especially online, we started off butting heads. But he’s definitely got a good head on his shoulders, he’s a decent guy for sure.
E: And that’s something that I think is really important, is that even if you disagree with some people on the reddit, lots of them do have good ideas, and it’s easier to get along with those people because they want the same thing that we want, right? They want the best game possible.
M: I can get along with anybody as long as I feel that they’re saying, “Okay I get where you’re coming from, I understand your position, however…”. People who either don’t even read what I’ve written, because if they had read what I’d written, they wouldn’t be asking these questions or asking me, right? It’s like, if all you’re gonna say to me is, ask me some question about what I’ve written here, and obviously, this is my point, if you don’t understand what I’m saying, just tell me that and I’ll try to explain it to you again.
E: So I’ve noticed, especially in the last few weeks actually, you’ve been softening your stupid question bot-ness on reddit, and people seem to be softening their stance toward you as well. I’m not seeing quite as many SQB downvotes. To what do you attribute this change of your cold, metal heart?
M: *laughs* Well, one begets the other, clearly. The power of the words you use, it’s pretty unbelievable. I could write something one way that comes across snide and sarcastic, and I could write it another way which just is what I need to say to get my point across. And one will get 20 upvotes and one will get downvoted to oblivion, just because people don’t wanna see that. And I get that. The problem is that, the kind of way that I am comes across really well in person. People always find me really find me funny and amusing, and even though I’m a bit of a dick in person, it works, you know? But one reddit, when you’re just typing you can’t really communicate that, so it’s kinda tough to alternate between what you need to be like when you’re typing and what you need to be like when you’re actually dealing with people face to face, you know?
E: Definitely. So ships! What ships do you have in your hangar? And what’s upcoming that you’re excited about, if anything?
M: Well I want the Herald to be flight-ready so I can cross-chassis it to all the other ships I’m trying to finish my fleet out with. I’ve got a Super Hornet, a 325a, a Constellation Andromeda, and I’ve got a Herald and an M50. The Herald I’m gonna swap up to a Gladiator for the LTI.
E: Are you gonna pick up some Reliants when they come out for the LTI on those?
M: Probably, yeah.
E: I think that’s gonna be a good sale. So yeah, Star Citizen’s development so far. What are your thoughts on its progress, and on where it’s gotten and where it’s going?
M: It’s like we’re watching a teenager learn how to drive for the first little while, and now it seems to be going a lot smoother, but you know for the first little while there was a lot of hiccups and starting and stopping, and a lot of “Oh we did this whole thing wrong and now we need to start from the beginning again.” And this is what happens when they start one project, and six months into it they’re doing an entirely different project they weren’t doing.
E: Yeah, because on the Kickstarter, it just started as basically just a single player with the intention to expand it later if they could. And then they made more money that most people can count.
M: I think they’re incredibly lucky, and the talent they’ve gotten for sure. The fact that Crytek is losing all their guys in Frankfurt, that is just the light shining down on these guys, saying “you lucky dogs”. And they’re gonna totally help them round out all the things they’re having problems with hopefully, and I’m confident. They seem to have guys that seem to pushing it along quite well, and I’m confident.
E: I am too, I’m just glad to hear someone else that’s confident in what they can do.
M: Honestly the way I look at it is, the only thing that would keep them from getting it done properly is some publisher saying, “You have to release it now. Who cares if it sucks? We gotta release it now.” I think we can be fairly confident Chris Roberts is not gonna say, “Okay, too bad, it sucks, we gotta release this now.”
E: Look at what he’s done with the FPS. I’ve talked to people who have played it at PAX, and they said, “Yeah, I’d play it”. So you can tell me if you don’t wanna answer this one, but I’ve noticed sometimes you refer to being banned on the RSI forums.
M: Yeah, I was pretty indecent to people for a while on the forums. And I earned myself a few very well-earned strikes, which earned me a reputation with the mods. So I tried to clean up my act, but apparently my dry sense of humor was a little bit too much for them. I was actually permanently banned for saying something like, “unicorn sperm in the phalanges being OP, and it needs to be nerfed”.
E: That’s actually unfortunate, because I find that funny.
M: Well I find it hilarious too, but that’s not really the point.
E: So, balance debates. I notice you weighed in a lot into the game balance debates. So what do you think about the whole joystick vs. mouse and keyboard vs. gamepad, right now as it is?
M: Well I think the joystick setup works as advertised. If the ESP wasn’t so screwed up right now, there would be fairly good balance between gimbals and fixed weapons. As far as the damage goes, the damage buffed fixed weapons, but I mean as it stands right now, especially six Omnis still being the best setup by far, there isn’t any sort of real balance. But I mean again, it’s in Alpha, they’re trying their best to get that stuff done. I don’t expect anything real to be done about it until Beta to be honest.
E: Do you think that CIG will end up getting the balance right on their own?
M: That depends on what the community’s willing to live with.
E: Do you think the community’s willing to live with mouse and keyboard being OP, or any of them being OP, really?
M: I don’t think so, no. I hope not, at least. The arguments that you hear are based on flawed logic on both sides of the fence, for sure. The simple fact is, everybody should want to have everybody else having the best experience possible. It’s not about one being the best, it’s about all of them being able to do the same thing, and behave as closely as possible in the same way, and not have a different game being played based on the controls you’re using.
E: Definitely. I was hoping this would be a little more butting heads, but no I agree with you so far. It’s scary. On the subject of balance, they just recently announced the switch to the sizing for mounts. So fixed mounts have no penalty, gimbal has a penalty, and then turrets have another. What do you think of that whole system?
M: I think that’s a good way to balance gimballed vs. fixed weapon setups on a ship-to-ship basis. When you’re balancing two of the same ship against each other, and you’re using gimbals or fixed weapons, that’s a good way to balance the two. Where you’re saying that gimbals are gonna hit more often, so they’re doing less damage, whereas the fixed weapons are harder to hit with but they’re doing more. But as far as any sort of attempt to use that to balance controllers, it’s completely the wrong way to go as far as I’m concerned. Because it only says that, “Okay, joystick players can only use fixed weapons and mouse users can only use gimbals.” What if I, as a mouse player, want to use fixed weapons? Or as a joystick player, use gimbals? It still doesn’t do anything for that, so it’s not a fix, right?
E: So let’s say you had all the power. How would you try to fix that, do you think?
M: Well thankfully I’m not the one with all the power, right? I would try to find something that the extremists on both sides would agree too. If I was the person in charge, I would say “Okay, we’re doing something about this”. Which, we haven’t heard anything about from anybody. We hear Ben Lesnick making these flippant comments on Around the Verse, demonstrating that he clearly doesn’t even really understand what the issue is, you know what I mean? I would definitely try to find a solution that everybody could agree on, but my philosophy as far as that goes is, if you’ve got a bunch of different controllers and they’re all really good at something, but they’re all sort of able to do what the others can do to a certain extent? What you’ve gotta do is reduce the ability of each controller so it can’t perform at any one level better than anything else, you know what I mean? It’s like a Venn diagram. You don’t wanna remove the ability of a mouse to aim, but if it’s doing it ten times better than any other controller could possibly come to doing it with, even with a bunch of programmed assists, the simple solution to solve that is to bring down it’s ability a little bit. And how do you do that without impeding the way it works? Well I think the lag pips are a great way to do that.
E: Part of my problem is I just bought a joystick to try and learn to fly with joysticks. I suck with the joystick. I haven’t even touched keyboard and mouse for ages. So I suck at flying right now. So I’m actually the completely wrong person to be in this discussion right now. Personally I’m more looking forward to the FPS part.
M: Well I played Counter Strike and Battlefield competitively for years, so yeah I’m definitely looking to the FPS too.
E: One thing I’ve heard a lot is that, they have to make it completely controller-agnostic, which means that lots of people are saying, “Well I better be able to play FPS with a joystick just as well as someone with a mouse and keyboard.”
M: Illfonic have already said that that’s not gonna happen, and I completely agree with that, because from time immemorial it’s always been played with a mouse. But that’s not even the point. The point is that FPS is about coordinate based aiming. It’s about moving a cursor onto a point on the screen, and the best way to do that is with a coordinate based aiming system, which is a mouse. You take the mouse, you move it, and there’s a relative motion on the screen of your hand. It’s a 1:1 thing, that’s an FPS game. That’s why mice are good at it. Joysticks are not good at that shit, why would you use it for that?
E: I don’t know! I just have to ask!
M: Yeah, that’s one of the real straw man arguments that makes me mad. When people say, “How you gonna use your HOTAS for FPS there, buddy?” and I’m just like, I’m not I’ve got a mouse…
E: Breathe! *laughs* So when it comes to things like game balance, what do you think of CIG’s response to players so far? We have a ton of feedback from players. What do you think of their response so far for game balance, game development, ships, anything?
M: I feel, I’ve been frustrated a lot of the time, when I feel like they’re ignoring some of the things that could make the general, overall experience better for everybody. But at the same time I also understand, because they’ve got other bigger, more important things to do. They’ve got a list and they’re all numbered by priority, and you can only do half of them, well, lower priority things you just don’t do. That’s the stuff you’ve gotta be able to understand and take a deep breath about, or else sitting around waiting three years for this game to get produced is gonna make you insane. And you’re not even gonna want to play it when it comes out, because you’ll have so many bad memories, right?
E: I kinda feel that way with the REC debate that was going on, until Ben Lesnick chimed in, that some of the ships just weren’t available to rent at the beginning, right? And that’s been cleared up now. I feel that people jump on them too fast. They change something, they add REC, and then it’s immediately, people attacking them for being “pay to win” or being this or that. And we don’t give them much time to breathe, I guess.
M: Yeah, that’s what they’re gonna get. They’ve got so much hype, and so many people who feel invested in this. It’s not a real investment, you’re not an investor, but people feel invested. I feel very invested in this game, it’s something that’s revived my zest for games. I totally was just like, “bleh, everything sucks now”. You know what I mean?
E: Awesome! So on behalf of The Relay, I just wanna thank you for taking the time to do this interview, it was great! So thank you!
M: Hey, you’re welcome man, it was great! It was a lot of fun!