Updating an out of date spreadsheet leads a community member to the Most Valuable Post (MVP), this week The Relay interviews the man responsible.
When fastcart (yes, he does prefer his name to be all lowercase) received his MVP he didn’t see it as his own accomplishment, but instead as an award to the community. “My appreciation was for all the people that helped me. I saw it more as a community effort that was acknowledged, and I was glad that it was.” he told us in his The Relayterview. This even after countless hours put into updating the Star Citizen Package Comparison Chart. The community that he cares about, also causes him some concern, “I’ve noticed people have a lot of passion toward Star Citizen, but I also want to tell the community that we need to be more accepting of new people. . . We need new people, so be passionate, but temper it too.”
People may recognize the name because he’s an entertaining guy that has appeared on podcasts, and frequents many community channels. fastcart rolled on into the Discord channel for the interview, and we probably spent more time bantering than we did with the actual interrogation of facts. The wheeled speedster didn’t have a background with spreadsheets going into his MVP-worthy update, he only saw the need and followed through with his wits combined with a sense of style. What he created with his update is a boon to the community and even applauded by CIG employees in more than his award.
The Star Citizen Package Comparison Chart originally created by Zapranoth still lives within the updated spreadsheet as the “Pre-2014/09/12” tab, but most of what the chart has become is a direct result of fastcart’s ministrations. His original intent was to create something for himself, but soon after it became a drive to update it for community consumption. The original update took him around four days to complete, and further updates can take him up to four hours depending on the scale.
Not only has his spreadsheet given the ability for many to review the ships, packages, and ‘flair’ items available, but they also give insight into the total value and why people spend the money they do. “I found a few interesting things, like where the value of buying the ships individually could be a better deal than the packages. . . I realized that people were buying the packs to support the game, not because it was just a good value for all the ships or just for lifetime insurance.”
While his note on why people buy packages over the individual ships isn’t, in of itself, revolutionary, it does add further to the claim often made by community members that it’s about investing in the game instead of the ships; however, his chart isn’t about any ulterior motives but instead gives people the ability to view the information on ship prices in an easily digestible format. The chart allows people to accurately pick-and-choose what they’re looking for and determine how much it will cost them on their hobby. “If people want to invest in the game as the hobby, and they have the money . . . I’m just glad people are willing to [invest].”
fastcart’s desire for spreadsheet work extends beyond the updating of the Star Citizen Package Comparison Chart to also within the realm of the the game world. His eventual drive within the Persistent Universe will be as a Marketeer. His goal is to control the manufacture and sale of goods, and to that end his favorite ship is the Banu Merchantman. Originally an owner of the Hornet physical package, he was able to angle in closer to his true goals by turning it into the Constellation Taurus physical package.
He started with a spreadsheet that someone else made which was out of date, and turned it into something he could call his own. He did it not just for himself, but for the community as a whole. His efforts keeping the chart current resulted in an MVP and acknowledgement by CIG staff even in the form of song.
You can read the cleaned up full The Relay interview with fastcart below:
Q: How long have you been following Star Citizen?
A: Back in the 90’s, I had the opportunity to buy either Wing Commander or Star Wars. I went with Star Wars games and skipped the Wing Commander games. Tie fighter and X-wing, but let’s skip forward to Star Citizen’s kickstarter in 2012. I heard about it, but I didn’t have the history of Chris Roberts games, so I didn’t buy into it yet. Then a friend of mine in my Star Wars: The Old Republic Guild, in combination with the Star Citizen convention, convinced me to get in on Star Citizen. That was in October 2014.
Q: So what about the game drew you to it?
A: It was something at CitizenCon, but I don’t remember what. Basically it was a Space Simulator game, and the hype from my friend, really hooked me into the game. I don’t remember exactly what it was though, it was something in the footage that really pulled me in. I’ve always been interested in Space Simulators though, and I know that was a definite draw.
Q: Do you have a background working with spreadsheets or data collation?
A: Not in an employment capacity, but I did come from EVE online which is notoriously a spreadsheet simulator. But no, I don’t have any formal education in it or job experience. I just came across the spreadsheet which was outdated and I wanted to update it. I started editing it, and keeping it current, and you can see the results of it now.
Q: What are the specifications of the computer you’re running Star Citizen on?
A: I play on a PC that I built in early 2011.
CPU: i7-2600k core
GPU: EVGA GTX 970 FTW
RAM: 16 GB
HD: 250 GB SSD and a couple standard ones too.
I upgrade the graphics card every couple years. I’m actually looking at building a new computer next year.
Q: What drew you to revamping the spreadsheet?
A: First it was something that I wanted to do for myself, then I realized that I could make it available to other people. So I asked Zapranoth, the previous maintainer of the chart, if I could maintain it and it’s become what it is now. The “Pre-2014/09/12“ tab is his work. I applied my untrained eye to make it what I thought would be presentable, and just wanted to make it available to other people. The rest is history.
Q: About how long does it take to edit the sheet?
A: In 2015 I took it over, just this March is my first year anniversary, and it took me about 4 days to get it to where I wanted it. I spent the majority of those 4 days modifying it to be more presentable for other people. There was also the split into the two separate games, Squadron 42 and Star Citizen, which took me about 4 hours. With something small like a ship sale, or a new ship, it only takes me 10-20 minutes. If it’s something like the whole Hull-series, it takes me about 30 minutes. I take my time to make sure I do it right. Something like the anniversary sale takes me about two hours.
I also noticed that Google Docs can be a bit finicky with rows if you move them, sometimes the “Total Value” row is off. I usually have to check those whenever I move something, just to make sure the calculations are working right. I keep copies of the sheet as well, just to make sure that if something does change accidentally I can quickly and accurately change it to the correct values.
Q: While working on editing the spreadsheet, did it change your view on how the information should be presented?
A: Not majorly, but yes definitely some minor changes. Things such as colors or moving around rows. When I first took it over last year, I don’t believe CIG had said anything about the Reliant becoming a new starter ship. So I inserted the Reliant series closer to the other starter ships rather than towards the end as I would normally. Another example is to make room for the Avenger variants when CIG added to that lineup. They’re all pretty minor. It’s pretty much the same sheet as when I started.
There was also the “Unavailable Packages” tab, that’s changed a lot since I took over. There’s just such an influx of packages coming and going and I have to decide how to organize them. I like to order by hangar, but then I have to make a judgement call if I want to further sort by prices or dates.
Lastly there was the “Info & Updates” tab that I added pretty recently. I thought that people might like to see how the chart changes over time. I hope that tab will be useful to new and old players alike; for instance, I put the Referral Code Randomizer in there.
Q: Has the spreadsheet influenced your view on the sale of ships in Star Citizen?
A: I found a few interesting things, like where the value of buying the ships individually could be a better deal than the packages. In general, the packages are better, but not always. A good example is the Wing Commander and Completionist packs which, if you bought the ships separately, would be less than the price of the pack. I realized that people were buying the packs to support the game, not because it was just a good value for all the ships or just for lifetime insurance.
Similarly, for the starter packages, the value of the items inside them won’t add up to what CIG charges; but people are buying a full game for $45 USD or two full games for $60.
Q: What are your thoughts on people buying the package to support the game, instead of the value?
A: I’m glad that people are able to do that. If people want to invest in the game as the hobby, and they have the money, it makes me happy that they can. My father was into bowling as a hobby and he bought his own shoes, his own ball, stuff like that, so it’s not a new concept to spend on your hobbies – I’m just glad people are willing to.
Q: So what is your favorite ship?
A: Banu Merchantman. When I first bought into the game, I started with the Hornet physical package. I don’t really buy many games every year, but when I do I like to buy the Collector’s Edition. I’m not really a fighter, more of an industrialist, and that’s why I melted the Hornet package for the Constellation Taurus physical package. Then I saw the Merchantman, and it looked great, so I waited for it to go on sale and picked it up in addition to it.
Q: What is it that really draws you to the Merchantman over other ‘Industrialist’ ships?
A: When I get into the Persistent Universe, after the game launches, I want to become a Marketeer (a manufacturer and seller of goods). The Merchantman was concepted as something that would be good in that role, it really drew me to it.
Q: How did you feel when you were announced as the MVP?
A: I was shocked! I’m not going to say my jaw hit the floor or anything, but I’ll tell you how I discovered it. Around the Verse came out and I started watching it from the beginning. Then Discord lit up and Dolvak said “Fastcart you got MVP!” I thought he was trolling me. So I quickly skipped to that part of AtV, and I thought, “Oh my God!” I saw that I won! I was surprised. I was really appreciative, but not just for me. My appreciation was for all the people that helped me. I saw it more as a community effort that was acknowledged, and I was glad that it was.
Q: If you had one thing you wanted to say to the community, what would it be?
A: I’m really appreciative of the community. I’m thankful that they helped the chart become MVP. People tell me that I’m the “MVP” but I don’t really see myself as receiving the award. The real winner is the chart and the community that backed it. The community provided corrections, gave advice and support, and helped make it what it’s become.
I also want to add this. I’ve noticed people have a lot of passion toward Star Citizen, but I also want to tell the community that we need to be more accepting of new people. When people start out, we need to recognize that they’re not always trolls because they’re asking questions – they’re just new people and we need to be supportive of them. Those people are going to be the life of this game in the long term, and we need to reconcile that fact now. We need new people, so be passionate, but temper it too.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: I really just want to thank the community again. All the support that everyone has given me with the chart. Of course thank you The Relay for the interview, it’s appreciated.