Some Thoughts on Star Citizen

Star Citizen - something I've been eagerly waiting for. A concept I've been eagerly awaiting since the first time I played EVE Online. Boy I wish I could fly a space ship manually. I wish I could EVA. All of these things Star Citizen aims to do and then some, like boarding ships, FPS combat, exploration and flying down to planets, landing and doing stuff. The possibilities of that could be endless.

This originally started as a reply to a forum post on here until I realized it was becoming blog post length.

I've remained totally optimistic about this game from day 1. I lost a bit of faith over a year and a half ago because we hadn't seen any big changes or much information for a significant amount of time however after the last few major updates I'm back on the bandwagon full force. I've been hoping and praying for a game like this to come along. No Man's Sky wasn't it, neither was Elite Dangerous. Both games have their strong points (I know I'll receive hate for that regarding NMS) but this is shaping up to be more what I want. I want a real space life MMO sim. Give me a ship and some opportunities to just exist and I'll take them. Space piracy? Sure. Trading and shipping? Why not? Mercenary work? Sounds thrilling. Maybe I just want to explore sometimes too.

The thing about this games dev cycle is a lot of people who are mad about it are also the type to see an E3 announcement for a game to come out within the next 15 months and thin that's the dev cycle, they don't realize that this is very well under way by that time. We have been fed information from conceptualization through to present day. Yeah they've raised a ton of money, but they've also had to develop the tech to make this work. I'll take one Persistent Universe Alpha problem to bolster this point I want to make. The engine they were using during the 2.0 release had a persistent state of objects. So if I open a door on Security Post Kareah and my friend is running around Port Olisar - for those who don't follow the game, these two places aren't even in direct line of sight - opening doors the game is synchronizing both our physical positions including standing, crouched or prone and the state of said doors, on top of our equipment choices and physical states (health for example). This meant that when you'd try and walk through a door you just opened it wouldn't sync correctly and you'd get bounced back and forth. There was a point where I legitimately could not leave the station in a full server shard, I would need to exit and reconnect hoping to get an emptier or fresher shard. Once I did get into that it would work just fine until it filled back up. So they've been developing a lot of invisible things to make this world function.

Fast forward to today, the current release has a lot of great features (and shortcomings but I won't dig into those yet) most of which didn't exist until very recently. They've expanded the current PU to have some extra planets and now quantum jumping is starting to make sense for how it will be implemented. To fly across the system I both need the required fuel and need a straight line path. After said path is in place and the quantum drive is engaged I must wait, and it's not instant. Took me something like 10-15 minutes to cross most of the Stanton systems diameter. In that time I got out of the pilot seat of the massive ship I was flying in and wandered around, accidentally let down the boarding elevator while standing on it; which fortunately didn't kill me, then went back to the cockpit and waited for another couple minutes while playing with the computer systems which mostly work now. The recent progress we've seen implemented and made playable shows a huge leap from last year and a very clear cut indication that they're rounding the bend of some of the major hurdles they were trying to get over.

In its current state if we had single player and what exists right now with some more NPC's and some interactive stuff I would feel this is a very good game. It's not what was promised on paper and there's a lot more to be desired but to look at what has been done and actually just sit down and appreciate it first hand it's quite an impressive experience. Flying from Port Olisar to any planet and entering the atmosphere and the flight model changing to something more of how you'd need to fly a plane, to seeing the planet take form as you approach the surface, detail coming in piece by piece, then landing and walking around. Get back in the ship and try and get to a station on the planet takes actual time to fly there. You can just fly through canyons and insane speeds for fun if you like, drive vehicles around, then drive them right back into your ship and take off again, go to another planet or just do some in space EVA missions. Sure the missions are bland, they are placeholders for actual story driven mission chains. One of the more interesting experiences was I landed on an industrial planet. Hovered over the city in a non-landing one getting constant warnings until I figured out what was going on. Landed on my docking platform and started trekking around the city. Then I noticed a tram system, so let's go to it. I walk onto the platform and check the map to see where I want to go. I'm going to go to the residential area to see that. The train platform doors have a timer on them telling you when the train will arrive so I sit on a bench next to another person who is doing exactly the same thing. NPC's are also doing this and wandering around. The train arrives and I wait for a few minutes to get to my destination, I exit into a populated area and explore apartments and shops, I can see outside the apartment complexes window a spaceport with ships sitting on it, I realize later it's a ship dealer but still. It looks alive and feels it too.

Yeah this game got a lot of money poured into it, but money can't buy everything in this case, it just buys developers time and supplementary stuff. They hired a team to invent full languages, they have a lore team, the full community support teams, the rackspace for the hosting of both the site and game as well as data for internal use, internal support staff, etc. The list of overhead costs goes on. Yeah they did some frivolous stuff too but that's chalked into the "Employee morale" and attempts to make an attractive workplace. The money seems insane but it is probably a little more valid than we assume. Now I'm not justifying the funding they've received entirely but I'm trying to look at it from a different point of view other than the impatient consumer.

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