There’s a big, ugly controversy brewing right now that could only come out of the bickering, petty, lying, arrogant, me-centric video game industry. If you haven’t been keeping track, Star Citizen, the far-and-away most crowdfunded anything of all time, is up over 90 million US dollars in funding as of now. Holy bojangles that’s a fat load. So then why did The Escapist publish an article last Friday titled “Eject! Eject! Is Star Citizen Going to Crash and Burn?“? Well, because they started listening to the words of one Derek Smart, game industry veteran and legendary internet fight-picker. But now Chris Roberts, creator of Star Citizen, has released a statement of his own lambasting The Escapist and Smart to boot. So what is going on here between all these crazy rich people?

If you haven’t heard of Star Citizen before this, I’ll just say that it is likely the most ambitious gaming project every conceived. It’s creator, Chris Roberts, developed the Wing Commander series of games throughout the 90’s and early 2000’s, and when he showed up on Kickstarter promising a new game with every conceivable gaming feature the human mind could conjure, his fans dropped a wad of cash the size of a small planet onto the project. But it didn’t stop there. The stretch goals just kept getting stretchier, and the money just kept rolling in through a post-Kickstarter funding campaign they ran through the game’s official website.

So it became HUGE, right? And what happens when something become huge? Well, especially in today’s landscape of ever-increasing crowdfunding disasters, there are going to be skeptics and detractors. So who appeared as the head of these naysayers? Why, well-known developer, forum-flamer and getter of goats, Derek Smart.

Who’s Derek Smart Again?

Derek Smart is, by his own words, “the the oldest living #indiedev fossil”. And though that is highly arguable, he did become well-known in the mid-90’s for a couple reasons. For one, his debut title Battlecruiser 3000AD, a game which he had been conceptualizing since the 80’s, went through a nearly unbelievable amount of rights exchanges and delays before finally being released in 1996. There were other problems as well, including a buggy initial release, and a lawsuit between Smart and publisher Take-Two Interactive. A flurry of hype had surrounded the game for much of its development time, so when it was released early and broken, a monsoon of derision descended onto Mr. Smart.

In today’s world of bug-tastic Early Access releases and with development hell becoming a standard pitstop for many game dev teams, none of this would raise too many eyebrows. But Derek made sure his name became known, but not for rising above the controversy, that’s for sure. Throughout the development and far after the release of Battlecruiser, Smart’s persona became forever linked to the intense flame wars that centered around him and his development progress on Usenet. He would take on anyone and everyone that raised a word against him and his creation, and gained a reputation as someone that would always make sure to have the last word. He became the premier whipping boy of the gaming industry in the 90’s and strife never failed to follow him to whichever corner of the internet he was found, and he made sure it stayed that way.

But I’m going to extend some sympathy here to D Smart, because he had a few reasons to be angry. He started designing Battlecruiser when he had nary an inkling as to how to design a game. He learned coding by himself and toiled away in his free time to create the project of his dreams. Sound familiar? It was the protozoic struggle of the indie game developer, back in a time where there was no community to support such an endeavor. Smart was forced to work with publishers in order to keep afloat while working on the game, but continuously left them when they wanted to tone down the ambitiousness or originality of his vision. And when the final publisher demanded he release the game—unfinished, buggy, without documentation—in order to meet a Christmas deadline, he was left angry and defeated. And everyone hated him for the product that was released.

How would you react if your perceived life’s work was released without your blessing, to be chided and ridiculed by the world? Yeah, probably not as badly as Derek Smart did. But, ya know ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Escapist

So fastforwarding to the year 2015, Derek Smart released a string of blog posts criticizing Star Citizen for what he perceived as an impossible feat of game development, the online magazine The Escapist produced an article clumping together all of Smart’s railings for dissemination to a wider audience.  These included questions about the allocation of funds, delays in the game’s release, changes to the format and features, silent changes to the Terms of Service agreement, and a general doubt in the ability to produce the game at all. And beyond that, the article states that Smart went on the offense, sending a letter to Cloud Imperium Games (Roberts’ development company) demanding a release date, refunds for anyone that wants one, and a “complete forensic accounting” procedure. It also threatens a class-action lawsuit if they don’t comply. Cloud Imperium responded by saying there was no legal grounds for such a suit, and then call into question how Smart drops the name of his current project repeatedly in his blogs against Star Citizen.

So far The Escapist’s role is fairly innocent in this whole ordeal, having only recapped the squabble between the two veteran game devs. But that changed yesterday when they went into full attack mode themselves and released the follow-up article “Star Citizen Employees Speak Out on Project Woes“. In it, they claim to have been contacted by several former and current employees, who basically talk mad shit about not only the company and project as a whole, but also Roberts himself. Here are a few doozies from this anonymous crew of disgruntlers.

About Roberts:

He doesn’t set out in the morning to screw anybody over. He’s just incredibly arrogant.

The thing you have to remember about Chris Roberts is that, before this, he hadn’t made a game in 12 years. He has no concept of what can and can’t be done today with that amount of money, or for a game like this.

I couldn’t take it. It was by far the most toxic environment I have ever worked in. No one had clear direction about how to do their jobs well. No one was empowered to do their jobs well. Everything was second guessed, and the default reaction to everything was blame and yelling and emails with all capital letters and curse words.

About the vice president of Cloud Imperium and Roberts’ wife, Sandi Gardiner:

She would write emails with so much profanity. She would call people stupid, retard, faggot. Accuse men of not having balls. And she was incredibly hostile to other female employees.

Sandi is very jealous. She has to be the queen bee at the company. Whenever I was around her, I felt like I was in the presence of a cobra who, at that moment, might not have been inclined to strike but was completely willing to. You don’t get on her bad side.

Whew! Highly personal stuff. But the drama doesn’t end there. Right before The Escapist was ready to blow the doors of Roberts and his project this second time, an email was sent to Roberts by Escapist senior editor John Keefer warning him of the aforementioned article’s impending release, and giving him an opportunity to respond to the allegations for inclusion in the article. In the name of jernalizm! But although it was a fair gesture, they gave him a very small window of time to respond, and made it clear they were dying to get this thing out. But Roberts did manage to respond with 3 hours to spare on the deadline… … … but they didn’t include anything from his response anyway. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Supporters of Star Citizen were pissed and flipped out accordingly. In response, the article was amended heavily to include sections of Roberts’ response and the excuse that Roberts “did not include either the writer or the EiC (editor-in-chief)” in the response email which resulted in “the delayed additions”. I’m still not completely clear on what “did not include[…]” means in regards to the response email. The only thing that makes sense is that the writer and EiC were not included as recipients, but the way the email is printed directly from Roberts on his blog clearly shows John Keefer as the recipient. But that’s not official, so who knows. You can read Roberts’ full response along with a transcription of the original email asking for comment here.

Wrapping up

So where does that leave us? I’m sure if you’ve made it this far with me, you’re likely deep into the “who gives a shit, these people are all nuts” zone. But I’d like to lay one last layer of blame upon all involved before you make up your mind.

Firstly, I think very little was done by The Escapist to rigorously fact-check these anonymous employees calling out their employer. In his response, Roberts points out that he has over 200 employees, and every company has disgruntled former workers. He makes a big point of emphasizing “former workers”, and one thing the Escapist article doesn’t do is say which of these sources are current or former employees. They only quoted 4 of the supposed 9 detractors, so these 4 could very well be the ones that were fired and are still mad about it. For a publication that has openly embraced GamerGate culture as much as they have, these articles sure do go against the group’s purported principles. It was clearly a sensationalist grab at viewers->advertisement revenue.

On the other hand, Derek Smart has at least one very good reason to call bullshit on the Star Citizen project, and that’s the fact that they changed their terms of service. Originally the company stated that if the product wasn’t released within one year past their release deadline (a deadline of their own making, mind you), backers would be allowed to request and receive a full refund. But when it became clear that their deadline was ridiculously inaccurate, they just changed the ToS. Not only did it get changed to 18 months past the deadline, but the deadline was pushed back from November 2014 to the end of 2016. Now, it’s not uncommon for a company to change their ToS, but when you’re changing a fundamental promise to your crowdfunding backers, a promise that was meant to engender trust in them, you’re basically saying “it don’t matter what we said, we’re gonna do whatever we damn well please!” These guys should go into politics, they’re naturals.

And lastly, let’s beat down on Mr. Smart, for old time’s sake. This is a man who went through a very hard stretch of his life at the hands of people telling him a) his dream was too ambitious and couldn’t be done b) he didn’t have the skills c) the delays were ridiculous d) he was a fraud. But he proved them wrong, eventually. So then why is the guy turning around and doing the same injustice to someone else just to get a few eyeballs on his blog? Hyp. O. Crite. The man has a hunch and he’s running with it because it’s getting him talked about. And though it’s possible he may be right in the end, I don’t think anyone can say for sure at this point. Let’s just hope he’s wrong for the sake of wishing good on the world rather than misfortune in the face of uncertainty.

I know you guys have opinions about this, so let me know in the comments. I tried to stay as neutral as I could, which was fairly easy considering I seriously have no idea who’s right or wrong on this one.

  • Markus Neibecker

    Hey Brian, nice blogpost. One thing so: as they changed the TOS and in facht the release date they should have offer refunds to the kickstarter backers. But the scope extension and the extension of the crowdfunding campaign was decided by the community. There are two polls about that.

  • Chris Waites

    A well balanced appraisal of the current situation I’m a backer of Star Citizen and a veteran gamer.

    I’m happy with most things CIG have done but sometimes they have dropped the ball.

    I cannot help but feel that the Escapist have done a fair bit of damage to there credibility but they made some as revenue I suppose.

    As far as Mr Smart gose he is a unpleasant attention seeking imbecile who has yet to create anything of note with a positive outcome.

  • Brian Hamby

    Interesting. Do you have any links to these polls?

  • Brian Hamby

    Thanks! This is more or less what I took away from the situation too.

  • DamienKnight

    Ad block activated … Derek Smart has already
    -abandoned his own game
    -changed his TOS
    -blocks any people that don’t agree with him
    -has yet prove his Phd (albeit unaccredited via a degree mill) while demanding proof of Sandi’s,
    -he only wants Star Citizen to succeed if he’s in charge (which ain’t happening!)
    -uses Glassdoor as a source of discontent
    -lacks proof of many claims and cites legal reason for not releasing more info (even though legal would have told him to shut up about most things he’s put out there)

    so yeah there’s that and the list really goes on, but that’s off the top of my head.

  • Chris Waites

    I will have a look but yes there were polls back in the day and the community said yes

  • Baron Von Boom

    Nice write up on this ongoing saga:)

    While im not personally financially invested in SC its been hard to avoid the saga.

    While no doubt some of the rumblings of discontent are true, (its a big company after all) the way D Smart has gone about things has all but undermined any credibility he has on the matter. He is vitriolic, hypocritical & if you take a glance at his own projects at tad deluded.

    To top it off he isnt the first person to have mentioned the problems with this level of crowdfunding, numerous articles highlighted why dropping £900 on a virtual space hulk may not be a good thing long before he decided to crown himself king of the crusade.

    As previously stated im not invested in SC but when faced with someone as bitter as D Smart its hard not to jump on the SC defence bandwagon. There is nothing “right” in wishing peoples dreams to fall apart & be torn asunder, yet that is what he wants.

    D Smart Sept 25th:

    “Suddenly I was infused with glorious purpose. They never saw it coming. And they completely underestimated my industry reach.”

    He actually revels in pulling down SC & that for me indicates his biggest motivator.

    Again, great article:)

  • Materix

    Well balanced indeed. It will do little to retract any of the attention DS has on the project though. Regardless of who you are, he’s what matters in his own world. The only things that could stop him at this point is legal action that works in CIG’s favor preventing DS from further commenting, a reverse situation where he wins and thus has no combatants left, jail time of some sort involving no access to the internet or outsiders capable of parroting him, or a sudden death scenario involving something like an embolism in the brain.

    I’m rooting for the stroke.

  • gamerofthrones

    Why someone willing to protect consumers should be called hypocrite? One thing is to debate online with other people, willing to have the last word on it, or treat them as you are treated (and that could include bad treatment).
    Another is to fight for a legit cause about consumers, about the trust issues that can affect, not really Chris Roberts, which is going to enrich of this venture, regarless the end results, catastrophic or not, but all the indies that could see in the crowdfunding a posibility and won’t be, because nobody reacted when was the time to react.
    And approaches taken by Roberts, his shady tactics, bait-and-switch, and shielding himself behind a cult of followers, which actually, are the absolute minority of his backers, but obviously louder, are not things that are good to the game industry, ot make it less bickering, petty, lying, arrogant and me-centric, and through this way, earning points with consumers, earning respect.
    If someone thinks that the crowdfunding should ‘send a message to the publishers’ that is not the way to send it. Consumers are just exchanging something not entirely bad (I have no quarrel with the game industry and I am very satisfied with the titles that have been coming in the last decade), by something incredibly worst.
    In no way, this approach ever will make the crowdfunding more realiable. It’s with more consumers respect and accountability that it will. Not the contrary. Not enternal “funding” campaigns, with shows produced in exchange of millions of dollars, that give all reasons to developers to keep away and away as more as possible, from releasing what they promised.

  • gamerofthrones

    The reason why the answer from Roberts did not come to the article was because it felt in the Spam box of the editor. He explained that later.
    Besides, why Roberts complained from that? His answers never should be publicized. Because they were terrible and only made his situation worst and the statements of those who were accusing him, making more sense. He just reacted in the way that people accused him to react internally. Always pretending to a victim of his own actions, accusing everyone else, but him, of his own mistakes.

  • Skyrant

    I never got any email or was asked for a poll. I am a day one backer. No one ever told me the TOS changed. In fact, i read it here for the first time.

  • Skyrant

    As a day one backer i am shocked at how unprofessional Chris Roberts response is. It might actually have been a good thing that the rant by Chris Roberts was not included.

    If you read his official response which is full of ad hominem attack on the journalist, calling her a feminist, insinuating a hidden agenda, invoking GamerGate and mentioning Derek Smart more than 20 times although the Escapist article has nothing to do with Derek Smart.

  • Materix

    Hi Manzes. Where to begin with this mess of contradictions and lies…

    Chris’s supporters are not the “absolute minority of backers”. That’s ludicrous, and a joke at best. There have been around 1300 refunds to date, and aside from you and a few hundred dissenters following DS and his hypocritical narcissistic rantings, that’s really it for supporters from current and previous backers supporting his claims. The forums alone however has well over 10,000 active participants to date (with more than 30,000 “regulars” who check in once every 1-2 weeks or for other site news) in support of Chris’s vision, not including those particular to reddit nor those involved in the other social feeds such as chat and video content that would readily back him up in these circumstances. Meaning YOU and DS’s following are the absolute minority.

    And all of that pales in comparison to the bulk silent majority that purchased game content and haven’t said a word. When we consider whether or not they’re currently in support of CIG, it’s really conjecture … however based on the premise that they made said contribution we can only assume they started interested, leaning them inexorably in favor of CIG unless proven otherwise. Making our number close to a million vs your paltry headcount. Gufaw.

    You go on to talk about crowd-funding and how it can’t be trusted and needs accountability etc … well why don’t you put down your biased outlook for a minute, you shining hero of a person you, and look at the bigger picture. It’s not just kickstarter and crowdfunding(of which you’ve not touched on any other projects, most of which paling in comparison to SC’s contributions to its fans), that same perview exists in Early Access as well. Admittedly a variation, but essentially the same thing. Early Access has had many a group of game companies effectively using their supporters for profit and leaving unfinished games to die(their money bags in tow) with little to no recompenses to customers. Your own “distinguished” leader has early access of his own with a game that has hardly changed since its inception, with a number of missed release dates (the earliest of them being missed by 3 years now), poor management of resources, terrible customer service, and one that provides no engaging play aside from exploring levels that resemble the technology of animation 12 years prior. Where is the accountability for those poor souls that bought in with high hopes?

    If you’re so interested in meting out justice for the sake of gamers everywhere, why is your focus solely on a project that you used to back and were expunged from ages ago? Not only is SC a poor example because of the content they put out and the interactions they have with the public, but they have a fan base that makes their support legendary. If pretty much anyone in the gaming world with some fair knowledge of public development events can come up with examples of foul play (or at least alluding to such behavior) far worse than SC’s (that represent a much larger threat to new ventures in this field of game development), WHY focus so hard on this? It’s because you’re freaking biased, which (let’s be honest) makes you largely full of crap.

    So much bias and hypocrisy from the lot of you, I’m surprised my eyes haven’t begun to bleed…

  • Hms Scapa Flow

    The difference between Derek Smart and Roberts is that Derek’s fall is already a reality. Not a speculation but based on fact of his lastest “game” called “Line of Defense” is this a MMO full of bugs and errors and failures and ugly graphics but listen this only with a average of one person playing by day this is a joke …Line of Defense which is a major failure, somehow the pinacle of a bunch of poorly developed game.

  • Venus Star

    Ah, real click bait article being looked at like it is not.


    The author has a clear side on this, the Escapist didn’t. Glad to see being proven right that the only things these “fans” AKA THOSE MAKING MONEY OFF THE GREY MARKET believe are good articles and not.

    They don’t want to know the truth because the truth hurts their wallets.

  • Materix

    So they claim, which is what the author of the article said. That doesn’t make it fact … which brings me to my next point.

    Where are the facts in what you appear to be using to outright claim all of these things happened to the extent they did? You need facts to make your point. And while we’re on the subject, where is this perfect little world you and DS seem to revel in so much? Last I heard, even though we don’t have substantiated evidence to support either claim yet, the gaming world is and always has been full of this type of behavior. Hell, coming from someone with Chris’s experience, he’s lived and breathed that world for decades. So it makes sense such behavior would be expected in some form. Though the guy is quite jovial and passionate about his work which speaks volumes for the REASONING behind his apparent investment in the project and how he comes across to others.
    Laughably, DS claims he has too … even though he works largely by himself (with what sounds like quite the number of people from other countries, for reasons that sound pretty bad if true …) unless you include Agannon or w/e it’s called … where he completely upended and destroyed the company and caused a lot of grief for some specific people in said company. Good experience, DS! Thumbs up!

    The Escapist went into full attack mode because of DS. Why you would think otherwise is beyond me. His talking with Liz, the controversy wrapped around Bandit, the admitted rush to print (what would it have changed if it was today and not 2 days ago? lawl). Hell, if anything it sounds almost like the timing thing was perpetrated to effect the sale of their next ship. There was no need to rush it. It’s all bolunky. And their main intent with the post, as has been with much of the media today, was and will continue to be for the CLICKS. Clicks mean money. Note how this author hasn’t received too many of those with his balanced view of the situation. The media has reported on pretty much everything negative that’s come out of SC, and they get thousands of people actively participating on the site for it. It’s business, simple as that. I’m not saying for all intensive purposes that’s the goal here, there are a lot of writers out there who like their job and report their findings on the basis of opinion. However this hardly hints at such a situation, especially with the banter between Liz and DS and all the drama and hypocrisy therein. You’d have to be mad to come to any other conclusion unless given solid proof. See there? Those fact things again.

    CIG’s initial response by, well .. not responding .. was indicative of someone not stirring a proverbial pot. However, when that failed (and it did, no one can claim DS isn’t insanely relentless … stalking frothing at mouth calibre) CR and crew decided to confront the issue. It’s gotten to the point where their sales and interest in the game have become affected, and so too the morale of their customers. Not necessary? Pfffft. Gufaw. It was incredibly necessary. Was it perfect? No, it was rather combative. I imagine their usual neutral and direct responses would have sufficed. However as MANY have said over the course of these last few days, I don’t blame CR one bit. Poor guy doesn’t deserve this. I really hope DS gets smashed in court somewhere down the line and CR can rest easy knowing the monster got what he deserved.

    He wasn’t playing a victim card. HE IS THE FREAKING VICTIM. Him, his company, his fans and backers .. we’re all victims of this *****ss who won’t just shut *** **** **. It’s an amazing wonder to think how his wife tolerates all of this, especially given her educational position and experience. Egad.
    Mind, again, it wasn’t just about him. CR vehemently stuck up for his crew too, and continually pointed in their direction with credit and due. That doesn’t sound like someone trying to woo the crowd into feeling sorry for him. It sounds like the dominant wolf trying to protect his pack from some ravening demented creature with rabies.

    Again, as I said in response to one of your other silly replies, there are far worse projects to target. DS and his cronies are always going all crazy and acting like “OH DEAR, lads! Look at this STRANGE behavior, isn’t it odd from a company?”, while most of us sane people go “Uhhhh .. not really … that’s pretty standard. What are you even talking about?

    Go away Manzes.

  • Materix

    Beer4TheBeerGod, is that you? Why you still here? Thought you quit SC and stuff. Go away. 🙂

  • Phil Richardson

    I think it was included in the chairman’s letter for the 19mil stretch goal, if I remember correctly 88% voted to continue with crowd funding and expand the scope of the game.

  • Maddin Robert

    Please take no notice of gamerofthrones.

    He feels hard done by and will look and comment on anything SC related negative wise.

    He got a refund – refuses to move on with his life instead of spending every waking moment looking for places to spread vitriol and hate.

    He sent quite a few harassing emails to CIG and it’s staff – nice behaviour.

    He goes under many pseudonyms – mainly due to comment section bans due to massive trolling:

  • Maddin Robert

    Take no notice of gamerofthrones.

    He feels hard done by and will look and comment on anything SC related negative wise.

    He got a refund – refuses to move on with his life instead of spending every waking moment looking for places to spread vitriol and hate.

    He sent quite a few harassing emails to CIG and it’s staff – nice behaviour.

    He goes under many pseudonyms – mainly due to comment section bans due to massive trolling:

  • Phil Richardson

    Bottom line is that those whom wish this to fail are pushing hard, at this point in time the game is still heavily in production. Chris has been open with the production problems, he has explained the delays which was more than enough of an explanation to satisfy the community.

    What Derek and his friends have done to Chris is unprofessional, unwarranted to say nothing of the blatant lie mill they are concocting, all of this is being orchestrated to happen at this point in development before the start of the Test PU and the release of SQ42. I feel that once these are released the point will have been proven in CIG favour, point being Chris does know what he’s doing.

    Derek wrote a blog which effectively took all of his development failing and tried to imprint them onto Star Citizen, he even went so far as to tell Star Citizen backers to demand refunds, I don’t know exactly how talented Derek is, but he is no Chris Roberts, that’s for sure. However he feels entitled enough to tell the world how poorly he feels SC is being managed and that since he couldn’t do it, no way will Chris be able too.

    Derek, look to yourself.

    Derek Smart got what he deserved when his account was cancelled, this hate campaign that he is now conducting not only against Chris and Sandi but is also directed against the backers shows us what he is really made of……

    I think we’ll all find that Chris has already more or less done it, he has talented engineers who helped to design CryEngine 3 working to fix the remaining problems. As a backer I have no doubts what so ever.

    I really think Liz has jumped the gun so to speak, it would be hard to track down nine informants let alone have nine of them suddenly begging to tell you their stories. The fact that they have not produced any evidence to substantiate there claims ( such as Skype conversations or emails ), these could be edited to hid the identities, I know a bit too James Bond-ish, but the fact is they have free licence to say anything they want without proofing any of it.

    If your going to tell a story this damaging, you really should have sources that’ll go on the record.

    With regards to CIG, we need to back off and let them get on with it, Chris has put his reputation on the line, he deserves the time he needs to complete SQ42 and Star Citizen. I think it is fair to say, failing is not an option for Chris and the mismanagement of funds claim I do not believe. How often have we heard Sandi or Ben comment on how they don’t want to wast backers money.

    They flew to the UK (Edit: Germany) in second class to save money, really Ben in a second class seat ( sry Ben ).

    If there was that kind of a problem with production, I’m sure they would have explained it to the community. They pay taxes, company taxes, wages that are all accountable to the different government tax department in each country. They have a counter on the RSI website that clocks the income from backers, so what exactly can they hide??

    However @CIG, as a backer is it not easy to see so many people we have come to know….leave.

    OK, thanks rant over, have fun everyone.

  • iArk

    Given the serious allegations being made towards the project and his wife (some of them being illegal) and how frequently he’s and CIG have been harassed by Derek Smart not sure how that could be used to credit that he has a short fused.

  • iArk

    His statements responding to the original questions were fine. Your bias is showing manzes.

  • Skyrant

    The reply was an unprofessional rant about the journalist and Derek Smart not addressing the real allegations brought forward. It’s a PR and legal nightmare.

    Then his internal want to be lawyer publishes another letter that is shockingly amateurish and full of legal pitfalls. Any real lawyer would have told you to shut the fuck up and file a cease and desist. Not threatening the Escapist with a lawsuit and asking for an apology. That is just hilarious.

    He copied a lawyer at a 800 headcount famous law office in New York on that letter. If he would have really consulted them they would have told him to not do this and that lawyer would ahve written a letter in private to Escapist asking them to cease and desist. Obviously this was a bluff.

    The Escapist contacted their lawyers and they have not only called the bluff, they raised it by saying we are digging deeper and will publish more.

    Now CIG stands there with their trousers down and a stupid look on their face. Are they really going to try to sue? I sincerely doubt it because proofing libel with malice is almost impossible in this case and the Escapist would have backed down if they had any doubt about their vetting and sources.

    This is looking really bad for CIG at this point.

  • Skyrant

    So shit got real and the Escapist not only called the bluff but raised!

    Update: The Escapist, notwithstanding Cloud Imperium Games’ notice and posting, stands by its coverage of Star Citizen and intends to continue to investigate the developing story. Since publishing our original stories, we have been contacted by, and are currently interviewing, additional sources corroborating a variety of the reported allegations. Additionally, if Mr. Roberts’ offer for The Escapist to “meet the developers making the game and see how we’re building one of the most ambitious PC games first hand” remains open, we take the opportunity to accept such invitation so as to hopefully provide the public with sufficient information and opportunity to vet such sources’ allegations and claims for themselves. We have also communicated the foregoing directly to Cloud Imperium Games.

    This is going to be really interesting.

  • iArk

    Actually they did address pretty much every claim directly. Even quoted which parts. Whether or not it was unprofessional is opinion because I’ve seen lawyers argue both ways on this.

    The other letter was written by a lawyer actually. And those kinds of letters threatening lawsuits are hardly uncommon.

    Bluff is a opinion, considering how easily dismissed some of the more severe allegations such as racism and ageism.

  • Skyrant

    Regarding that other letter written by Mr. Freyermuth:

    If he had stuck with the factual refutation, Mr. Ortwin Freyermuth would have done well. But he had to go and (sort of) act like a lawyer. His letter is full of quasi-legal references, has a closing threat to file suit in both America and the United Kingdom, and includes a cc: to two lawyers. And so Mr. Freyermuth stepped in it.

    Freyermuth is a founder, Vice-President, and in-house lawyer. He’s a fact witness to what’s going on at Cloud Imperium. When he writes a five-page semi-legal rant, he’s just creating cross-examination fodder. Moreover, “look, I am referencing lawyers, and even cc’d them” doesn’t convince anyone who knows how litigation works. If competent outside litigators are substantively involved, they write the threat letter, not the personally-involved fact-witness client. “Do what I want or I’ll bring in our outside counsel” and “look at me cc’ing lawyers” is the “my brother will beat you up” of the business world. Freyermuth cc’d the head of the Litigation Department in the Los Angeles office of Cooley LLP, an 800-lawyer firm. Dropping his name signifies that (a) he’s citing a big scary lawyer to seem serious even though the lawyer is not substantively involved, so he should not be taken seriously, or (b) the head of LA litigation for Cooley is involved, but has no client control whatsoever because his client is writing five-page rants, which means the client is not to be taken seriously, plus (c) if Cooley is actually involved it signifies that Cloud Imperium is going to spend a truly stupid amount of money to pursue a defamation case against a hit piece that doesn’t actually impact its core function, right at the time that it’s fighting rumors that it is in financial trouble. So: some messaging issues.

    If you know what you’re doing, you bring in the litigators before you start running your mouth. The litigator is there to tell you, in the most supportive and affirming way possible, to shut the fuck up. That way your CEO and key fact witness isn’t writing long, angry emails about the facts of the situation, probably getting some of them wrong and probably saying things the legal significance of which he doesn’t know. It’s not easy to tell the CEO to shut up and stop writing things if you’re his underling. Some people get to be CEO by having a Trumpian level of self-regard that makes Derek Smart look like Dobby the House Elf. If you’re a sensible GC, you use your outside litigator as the bad cop to control your difficult executive. That way your executive doesn’t do don’t-take-me-seriously things like post angry messages referring to written statements as “slanderous.”

    ~ *[Ken White]( was an Assistant United States Attorney and is now Partner of Brown White & Osborn LLP*

  • iArk

    Yeah I read that too, and I’ve seen other lawyers disagree with the assessment. It’s almost like contrary to popular belief not all lawyers act or think the same.

  • Skyrant

    You got a source of a lawyer as high as Assistant US Attorney that says anything different or challenges my source? No need to answer, we both know that it was a bluff. See how easy it is to detect those?

    In any case, we will see if CIG is going to sue or if they shut up and hope this goes away. My advice would be to let this go but i fear that CR’s ego will not allow that even if the smartest lawyers tell him to shut the faff up.

  • Skyrant

    Has this person been mean to you or why are you so paranoid? No need to answer.

  • iArk

    A position does not make a lawyer all knowing. It may or may not be a bluff, I work in HP’s basement, I’m no lawyer so I really have no idea.

  • Brian Hamby

    I literally have no idea what you’re talking about at any point in this response.

  • Brian Hamby

    Yeah I should have written more about his response. It did get pretty nuts.

  • Phil Richardson

    Yep for sure unfortunately if it goes ahead, it’ll most likely be done behind closed doors, we wont know the verdict till it’s over.

    And if it does I hope Derek Smart doesn’t get off scott-free, he has caused a lot of trouble biased purely of his own paranoia, spiteful hatred and his compulsive lying disorder.

    I was thinking, all these backers requesting refunds, I wonder if they’ll all come crawling back come Star Citizen release day, I’ll bet a good 90% will.

  • Skyrant

    Aparently the CIG “lawyer” got schooled by Derek Smarts lawyers when they sent him a reply to his cease & desist. Just like with the Escapist .

  • AlwaysReason

    I think Star Citizen will largely fail. I think Derek Smart is a giant jackass. The guy is just revolting.

  • r h


  • r h

    me either if he explains it to you send me a msg so i can understand it too