Wander around a hanger in Star Citizen next week

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Chris Roberts’ incredibly ambitious Star Citizen is about to make the shift from hopes and dreams to something more tangible: the first playable module is almost ready for backer consumption. It’s only a tiny slice of the game, allowing the successful crowd-funding campaign’s backers to saunter around a hanger with their spacefaring avatar.

It might not seem terribly exciting, but it’s merely the first in a series of planned modules releasing over a few months. A far more scintilating dogfighting module should be ready before the end of the year, while backers will be able to faff around on a planet by March.

Speaking with Eurogamer, Roberts confirmed that the first playable module will launch next week, on Thursday. The module contains a hanger, split up into three parts. Because walking is a tad plebian, a buggy will help players get around. For the backers that have pledged for a ship, that ship will show up in the hanger, and can even be jumped into – though it won’t be flying anywhere.

Roberts explained that the crowd-funding campaign was so successful that he doesn’t even need to turn to investors, as was the original plan. “The budget for what we’re delivering is about $20 million, and we’re almost there – we’ll probably be there before the end of the year”

Cutting out middlemen is, Robets says, better for the game. “The nice thing about not taking the investor’s money is, as much as they’re nice investors, they want a return at some point. If this thing’s a big success, they’ll say, ‘EA and Activision want this for about $100 million and that gives me a certain return on my investment’ – but that may not be the best thing for the game.”

There’s plenty for space sim lovers to be excited about right now, with Star Citizen being joined by Elite and X: Rebirth. I bid Earth a fond farewell.