Today marks the release of the all-new Roadmap
, designed to give you more insight and visibility into the development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 than ever before.
Therefore, instead of discussing the latest changes, we want to use this Roadmap Roundup to explain how the new Roadmap works and what you can expect going forward.
You’ll notice that the new Roadmap has two views: the Progress Tracker View and the Release View. Let’s break it down.
Progress Tracker View
The cornerstone of this new Roadmap is our new Progress Tracker view. With the Progress Tracker, we set out to accomplish two goals: 1) pull back the curtains for all teams, and 2) show you what each team (including each Squadron 42 team) is working on for this quarter and what their priorities are after completing the immediate deliverable at hand. This view is solely meant to share what the teams are working on at any given time, and it should not be used to determine when a deliverable will hit the live servers.
For the Progress Tracker view, we’ve committed upfront to giving you four quarters of visibility into each team’s development. The further out you project, the more fluid (subject to change) the work is and the less hardened the schedules. That’s why we don’t think it is useful to go beyond that four quarters threshold. Even at three to four quarters out, you should know that deliverables will be subject to movement, sometimes moving out a quarter or more. That’s because priorities can change, unknowns may surface that block development, or downstream dependencies may get delayed that force us to pause work or revisit our estimates. But it’s important to note that the new Progress Tracker will show you our best estimates of our teams’ deliverables and the duration of their sprints for four quarters out.
The updated Roadmap is much more sophisticated than the last, so let’s break it down. What you’ll find is that the Roadmap is now organized by teams in alphabetical order. When you click to expand a team, you’ll find a list of their deliverables. Each deliverable will indicate both its name, games it applies to (Star Citizen or Squadron 42, or both), as well as the disciplines working on that deliverable (e.g. Design, Engineering, Art, Tech Content). You will also find a description that sheds some additional light on what each deliverable is about, alongside an estimated duration.
Our First Update
With the introduction of the Progress Tracker, we will roll out the demonstrated teams in stages. As we’ve mentioned before, we have over 50 development teams at Cloud Imperium, ranging in size from 4 to 20 team members. For this first launch of our new Roadmap, we are showing 20 teams. These are all core feature and content teams that are upstream in development, meaning they set the major tentpole development deliverables for the rest of Star Citizen and Squadron 42. These include the Actor Feature Team, Live Mission Content Team, Landing Zone Content Team, US Persistent Universe Feature Team, Planet Content Team, Vehicle Content Team, Vehicle Feature Team, Weapon Feature Team, and more, as well as several dedicated Squadron 42 teams like Squadron 42 Art, Squadron 42 FPS Design, Squadron 42 Flight Design, and Squadron 42 Social Design. And with four quarters of work, we are showing you over 200 deliverables from these 20 teams. To put that into perspective, in our 3.12 Release Card in our previous Roadmap, we showed 26 deliverables. So with just 40% of our teams, we are already showing you more than 8 times what we used to show in a single release card.
What is still missing is our Core Tech Group, which is comprised of 9 teams working on iCache and Server Meshing, as well as AI, Network, Graphics, and Engine. We know many of you are eagerly awaiting the roadmap for these teams, and we plan to show those in January, when we will also update the Progress Tracker with more teams. As we mentioned in a previous update
, our initial publish will exclude our downstream teams, such as VFX
, Audio, UI, and others. These teams support the upstream teams, and therefore need to first see the schedules set by the core feature and content teams before they can determine their own work and priorities. Because of that, we opted to hold these teams back from the debut of our Progress Tracker, so they could continue work to solidify their schedules, with the intent of adding them to the Progress Tracker in Q1.
Update Schedule and More Features
With our new Roadmap, we plan to continue to provide updates on a regular basis. The old Roadmap was updated every week, and while we will visit our new Roadmap weekly, we’ll aim to update bi-weekly. However, that doesn’t mean that we will have many updates to provide at such a frequent cadence.
In the short term, we plan to add our Core Tech Group to the Progress Tracker in January, and the downstream teams shortly after that. After that’s done, we will continue to update the new Roadmap as work completes, new projects come online, and any changes occur to progress and priorities.
You’ll note that the first delivery of the Progress Tracker is actually v0.5. We still have many features & improvements in store for the Progress Tracker before we would call it complete. For instance, we plan to add the ability to search and favorite teams and deliverables, as well as link deliverables in the Progress Tracker to their estimated delivery in the revamped Release View. Not only will we continue to add new features, but we’ll also of course continue to optimize the user experience with improvements to the overall usability.
Similar to the previous Roadmap, the Release View is meant to give you an idea of when we expect to release those deliverables in the mid-term.
Our desire is to show you four quarters of releases, but one critical takeaway is that only the immediate quarter in front of us has a chance to have a release view that will be hardened, as the deliverables that appear on the card for the quarter in front of us will have passed Go/No Go gates or be close enough to completion that we can predict their delivery with a high degree of confidence. You could say at that point that we have a ~90% degree of confidence that this deliverable will make its indicated release quarter. Once you go past the quarter in front of us though, that predictability and confidence for delivery will begin to degrade.
In cases where we have yet to start on a project, it is especially difficult to predict delivery with a high degree of confidence, particularly for projects that have more unknowns. In those instances where we just don’t know yet, we won’t even place that deliverable onto a release card two to four quarters out, even though you will see it scheduled out in the Progress Tracker for work. But for some deliverables that we’ve gotten into a rhythm delivering, such as vehicles and landing zones, we will be better equipped to estimate timelines. These could appear in a release card even a few quarters out. For any of these deliverables further down the line, even then we will only place them onto a release card if we have at least a good level of confidence – around a ~70% confidence level – that we could make that window. If we can’t even clear this hurdle of confidence internally, then we won’t put it on a release card.
As of this first publish, we are showing you a Release View with just one release column, which is Q1 2021, or Alpha 3.13. But when we return in January, we plan on adding Q2, Q3 and Q4, all alongside debuting a new roadmap feature to further share which deliverables we hope to release in the year to come. In order to capture the fluidity of deliverables that are further in the future, we will be adopting a color coding system that indicates that the further out we get from the first quarter, the fuzzier the release card and the more the deliverables in there are subject to change. The quarter in front of us may be a solid color (although in this case, 3.13 would be grey until we’re closer to GO/No-Go), denoting that we’re in the midst of working on our deliverables and understand velocity enough to determine a very reliable delivery estimate. For the next 3 quarters after that, the release cards will be in light grey, to denote that these estimated delivery times are still fluid and could move around. At the highest level, you’ll know that if you are viewing a release card that is grey, it will be fluid. That’s because even if we have ~70% confidence it will make it, there’s a good ~30% chance it could move. If the release card is solid colored, it will be hardened, with just a ~10% chance or less of moving. Put another way, if it’s grey, don’t be surprised if it moves/changes. If it’s solid, expect it to stay put (with very rare exception).
We know that the new Roadmap and Progress Tracker, as well as our desire for you to shift your mindset in how you view our progress, will take some getting used to. But we feel that this new view will finally give all of our community the most transparent peek inside our development they’ve ever had, and we have plans to continue to build on this roadmap to make it more informative and instructive for all watchers.