Cloud Imperium Games has announced that it is to drop DirectX 12 support from its long-in-development crowd-funded spacefaring title Star Citizen, in favour of the cross-platform Vulkan application programming interface (API) - and has teased at potential support for Linux to boot.

Revealed back in 2012 by Chris Roberts as a spiritual successor to his Wing Commander franchise, Star Citizen quickly set about breaking every possible crowdfunding record. By July 2013 Roberts' company had raised $14 million, and just one year later had hit $35 million. In August 2014, only a few months before the company had promised to release the finished version of the game, the company announced it had raised $51 million and would be using the money to considerably widen the scope of the title - hence the original launch date whizzing past and, today, only a small subset of game features being made available in alpha and beta status builds. Since then, and despite additional delays, the money has continued to pour in: the company's latest stats show a whopping $145 million in income, largely from fans paying for 'exclusive' virtual ships.

Anyone hoping for a rapid release, however, is likely to be disappointed by the news that developer Cloud Imperium Games is making yet another engine shift, this time moving its target from Microsoft's DirectX 12 API to the Khronos Group's cross-platform Vulkan. 'Years ago we stated our intention to support DX12, but since the introduction of Vulkan which has the same feature set and performance advantages this seemed a much more logical rendering API to use as it doesn't force our users to upgrade to Windows 10 and opens the door for a single graphics API that could be used on all Windows 7, 8, 10 & Linux,' explained director of graphics programming Alistair Brown in a forum post explaining the shift, hinting too at an eventual end to the game's Windows exclusivity.

'As a result our current intention is to only support Vulkan and eventually drop support for DX11 as this shouldn't effect any of our backers. DX12 would only be considered if we found it gave us a specific and substantial advantage over Vulkan. The API's really aren't that different though, 95% of the work for these APIs is to change the paradigm of the rendering pipeline, which is the same for both APIs.'

While Brown has assured backers that the work required to shift away from DirectX 12 and the current DirectX 11 builds to a version running on Vulkan is relatively minimal, neither he nor his company have commented on how long the shift will add to the already overrun development schedule.

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