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From a recent Chris Roberts message (10 for the chairman)
"They’re splitting SQ42 into a trilogy, Episode 1 (this year) has ~ 70 Wing Commander style missions, some flying, some FPS, etc etc. These might be a fluid story spanning 3 missions, there are 21 chapters or so that has a segmented mission structure. It should be ~ 20 hours of gameplay with an awesome cast. Episode 2 is “Behind Enemy Lines”, which will be free for those that backed before 20mil. There may be more “rogue, han solo style” epsiodes as we go down the track."
Update with CIG Clarifications:
CIG Ben Lesnick | wcloaf said:
"The hope from the start has been that Squadron 42 would kick off a whole series of games, much like the 'main series' Wing Commanders back in the day... while the Star Citizen persistent universe would kick off at an unspecified point in the future and continue to evolve in its own way. Once we've built the technology and evolved the world and balanced everything, there's unlimited stories to tell. I know we talked about additional Squadron 42s early on, because we joked about calling them Squadron 43 and Squadron 44 back in the early days
All you're seeing now is that we're trying to figure out the best way to express that. Squadron 43 and Squadron 44 are good joke names, but they don't really make sense... it's more reasonable to brand 'Squadron 42' as a series rather than something like 'Squadron 42 2.' The only real 'change' here is that Behind Enemy Lines isn't a Secret Missions-style mission disk anymore... it's going to be the next part in the saga. And at least some of our backers get a great bonus, an additional AAA single player game because they backed early.
As for estimated hours to complete the game, I can only say... I really hate trying to quantify those kinds of estimates. It's a game with no one way to play it that we haven't finished yet. Is that 20 hours to play straight through? 50 hours to play every branching mission? To bring it back to Wing Commander: knowing the game today, I can finish the Vega campaign in about two hours. But in 1990, when Wing Commander was new, that took me at least a month of hard-fought battles. So if somebody asks me how long it takes to play Wing Commander, what do I say? There's a reason they don't put those kinds of estimates on box copy.
I will say - Squadron 42 is not any smaller than it was the day we set out to make it. Content isn't being cut or subdivided or parceled out for extra revenue or anything like that. If we mentioned 20 hours in one interview and 50 in another it's because someone was having two different thoughts about the same amount of content... it's in no way indicating that we've removed anything from the initial pitch, because we absolutely haven't."
"To clarify - there's no content being hidden away for a different release, we're just looking to the future. What's being referred to as 'episode 1' is really 'game 1,' with all the missions and features promised in the crowdfunding campaign. We've expanded the original mission disk (which early backers already have) into a comparable second campaign, and then have plans for a third. Squadron 42 is Wing Commander I, Behind Enemy Lines is Wing Commander II and the as-of-yet-untitled third campaign is Wing Commander 3."
Summary from a forum poster:
"This has just gotten silly. So many mixed up confused opinions about something that is so easy to grasp.
Here we go. This is whats happening: CIG is creating a trilogy of stand alone games. They are:
----Begins its release at the end of this year.
----Will be released in stages so we can begin playing it earlier.
----A stand alone campaign setting the stage for Star Citizen.
----Everyone who pledged a game package will get it.
----It includes everything originally planned for, plus more.
Behind Enemy Lines
----Release date not announced
----Used to be envisioned as an expansion pack for SQ42 but with CIG's financial success it got re-envisioned as a complete game.
----Free to those who backed before 6 Million. For sale as a complete stand alone game to anyone else.
----Will probably be released as a whole complete game instead of in stages.
----It continues the story-line of Squadron 42, but is a separate game unto itself.
----It does not require Squadron 42 to install.
Title to be determined
----Release date not announced.
----Will be released as a complete stand alone game.
----Is not an expansion pack or add on to Squadron 42. It only continues the story-line into its third part.
----Is available for purchase as a complete game to anyone.
----Does not require Squadron 42 or Behind Enemy Lines to install.
I hope this helps
CIG's old plan = Squadron 42 + some expansion packs.
CIG's new plan = Three stand alone games: Squadron 42 (all of it), Behind Enemy Lines, and Third unnamed title."