Some Thoughts on Star Citizen

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Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

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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#1 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

Very well written and I can personally pretty much agree everything on it.

To me it is a bit sad that there seems to be lots of people who thinks Star Citizen is just bunch of videos or hangar module at best. I quite much blame game media which I think has made pretty poor job explaining why the project is so complex, what is included at the moment and what can be expected in near future.

Last year was pretty hard time for backers because so much development work happened so much to "background features" and were not that visible directly in test releases. This year was completely different and as they say in video the amount of content will be growing even more faster from now on. Alpha 3.5 looks pretty huge already, but of course we need to wait and see if they are able to implement and integrate all those features.

Which are the biggest short and long term features you are looking forward to be included?

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#2 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

Short term I am just looking at wandering other systems. Maybe some PVE mission like they had on one of the CitizenCon demos where they showed a mission where you go pick up cargo and then it stops with a standoff. I'd like some of that sort of thing.

Long term I would really enjoy Electronic Warfare, stealth and interdiction mostly. Currently you can run a ship in Stealth mode which is drops power output to lower the EM signature.

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#3 Posted by MrGreenMan (160 posts) -

I used to be interested in what this game will be when it's finished, but at this point I really just do not care at all. The more I hear about this game the less I want it and will never likely play it. I hope people get the game they want, but the hype is so unrealistic that I feel that it's going to disappoint a lot of people.

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#4 Posted by conmulligan (1882 posts) -

I bought into Star Citizen because I wanted a modern Wing Commander but everything they've shown of Squadron 42, from the lousy acting to the painfully dull gameplay, looks straight up bad. At this point, I'm more interested in what they do with the persistent universe, but I still don't see how they end up coming close to matching people's expectations.

This is probably going to be unpopular but I also think Cloud Imperium's art direction is incredibly unimaginative. There just doesn't seem to be any coherent vision to it beyond "vaguely believable sci-fi future" and I think games like Elite Dangerous do that better.

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#5 Edited by Creigz (226 posts) -

@conmulligan: That opinion is actually pretty popular. I know a lot of people who abandoned the pipe dream of playing the game for that very reason. I'm just holding on to hope because it's promising what I really, really want. Growing up with an absent father I'm accustomed to being let down so I'll be fine if it is disappointing. (yes that was intended to be funny)

I'm personally fine with any art style as long as it's kept consistent throughout the product. When it feels like more than one style was used and it's not ironic or intentional for a purpose then I'm not as interested. I also do happen to like realism a lot so the "this is possible" sort of approach appeals to me. The reason I like the expanse so much is because it's not all lasers and warp speed, I feel that is a better approach to scifi for my tastes.

I love the Elite Dangerous UI, especially in the ship and how the fleet comms work, where they get distorted at range. I play it with my steam controller when I do play the game, which is not frequently anymore because it feels kinda dry like EVE is. It's the reason I don't get into most sandbox style games, what's my goal? Why am I here? Why should I keep playing? I need some sort of objective beyond "because you can". It's the same reason I don't play Ark or any of that style of game. I have no reason to continue building. The explanations I always get are "to make a bigger base to defend your stuff that you collect which you collected to make your base even bigger and you need to defend that" which is just a cop out cyclical answer. My reply to that is always "why" which just goes back in a circle, the big picture is the servers you're playing on will be shut down some day and the game will no longer be supported. What did you get from this experience? If I want to build a fortress I'll go build one in real life. I live in Canada, there's plenty of land.

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#6 Posted by spacegg (110 posts) -

@creigz said:

Short term I am just looking at wandering other systems. Maybe some PVE mission like they had on one of the CitizenCon demos where they showed a mission where you go pick up cargo and then it stops with a standoff. I'd like some of that sort of thing.

Long term I would really enjoy Electronic Warfare, stealth and interdiction mostly. Currently you can run a ship in Stealth mode which is drops power output to lower the EM signature.

I have not tried it myself but Downed Relay mission (CitizenCon mission) should be included in Alpha 3.4.1 unless they removed before pushing patch to live.

Tony Zurovec told that background simulation is going to be started in 2019. It should bring lots of interesting new gameplay and make the game world feel even more living.

I'm very excited about a new flight model which should be included in Alpha 3.5.0. There are still so many 'game changer' features coming which makes it very interesting to give all test releases a try.

What comes to hype around Star Citizen to me it is justified because it is based on test versions people have been testing for years. Hype based on just videos is very different thing in my opinion.

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#7 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

I haven't gone digging around for too many missions at the moment, but I did hear there was some more voiced missions. I spent about 5 or 6 hours just exploring. I try to play very little so I don't burn myself out on the game. I usually get a good feel for things and then push some of the more basic experiences to the limit. When I was able to land and fly around planets I pushed myself on Daymar to fly through canyons as fast as my Mustang Omega could go, things like that. Ran out of fuel and slammed into the ground which was great fun.

I really am looking forward to the background simulation. That will be really helpful to making the experience feel more "real".

The new flight model will hopefully address the weirdness of atmosphere flight, which still just feels like space flight with a speed limit - flying fast causes turbulence.

I agree on the hype front, videos don't really do any justice for me. I don't actually like videos for gameplay and things like that. I've played games that look great but feel like garbage when you get into it. Elite Dangerous, my biggest issue with it is that the ships are cumbersome at times and don't respond like I'd want them to. It's not unrealistic but it's a bit boaty.

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#8 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

@creigz: There are other interesting features coming which should have a huge impact to missions; dynamic missions, mission chaining, etc. so hopefully even simple "fetch missions" could turn out to be interesting and versatile. Background simulation with the new missions features should make a huge change.

If you have not seen a video about the new flight model I recommend to watch it. It shows a bit how atmosphere flight will be with new flight model.

How do you like travelling times at the moment?

There seems to be some testers who thinks they are too long but I think they have missed the point that travelling doesn't have much gameplay added at the moment. To me current travelling times are totally fine and they could be even longer.

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#9 Edited by Creigz (226 posts) -

@spacegg: I like the current travel times honestly. I enjoy that aspect of realism that's applied to it. I don't want it to be much longer though for most things but for it to actually make a difference I'm enjoying it. I would hope that it would be very much like travel is in EVE or ED. You get into the system and need to fly from there but the system hops are just quick warps.

I haven't watch that new flight model video before. Looks pretty good actually. It's some welcome changes. Currently it work fine in space but it does need some tweaking to be a bit more what you'd expect.

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#10 Posted by soulcake (2506 posts) -

First off great post, second hope this thing comes out off alpha/beta eventually.

But yeah the weird story's off miss management over the years where weird stuff like them outsourcing the fps module to the sonic boom team and then just scrapping it after they put a year of work into it, seems real weird to a bystander. After the Disappointment that elite dangerous was, i hope this will fill a spacetruck shaped hole.

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#11 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

Yeah. I agree that all of the mismanagement claims and the reworks of items that were deep in progress was a bit strange as a bystander but I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt considering almost all of this is new tech and they need to work out kinks to make things work. I think after that release (I think it was 2.5 or 2.6) when I experienced the issue with server state objects causing major latency issues and reading into it a lot I became more open to the fact that this is definitely not a straight forward AAA title or something.

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#12 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

@creigz: Flight behaviour in space will change quite much with new flight model (FM). It seems quite many has not being practising dogfighting because they have been waiting for new FM. So hopefully Arena Commander will be very crowded once Alpha 2.5.0 is released. I like that there will be much more possibilities for micromanagement and tuning to fit your fighting style.

Without knowing what has actually happened I'm not going to jump "mismanagement bandwagon". During all these years game media making news based on nameless developers and reddit users I can't trust them at all anymore. "90 days tops" since 2013.

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#13 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

Blizzard trademarked "soon" so they needed to find another way, so they just push dates back.

I am hoping Arena Commander will get more popular. I have an astronomical amount of REC from my subscription. Like....approaching a million REC. I can't spend it fast enough.

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#14 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

@creigz: It is actually pretty crazy that crowdfunded projects needs to give release date years beforehand. It pretty much impossible and it doesn't scale at all as we have seen with Star Citizen. In the other hand for example CDPR has an excellent situation with Cyberpunk 2077 because all they can say is "it is coming". They can try diffent ideas, screw up with features and start from the beginning, etc. and no one can say anything about mismanagement or slow development.

The new FM will be one of the most waited change this year and hopefully it will show in Arena Commander as well. It will be the final version of FM so it is going to be very important that backers are testing it a lot, file bug reports and give feedback.

Have you read much lore yet? Which systems sounds interesting to you?

One thing I like that lore has a major emphasis in Star Citizen. Systems, planets, etc. are not some procedurally generated objects but every one of them has a story and has hand crafted point of interests.

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#16 Posted by Deathstriker (1042 posts) -

I haven't been following it, have they said if it's a 2019 game and any mention if it will eventually be on current (or next gen) consoles? Most my friends play on Xbox, so I'd rather play this there.

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#17 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

@deathstriker: They have released roadmaps here: Star Citizen and Squadron 42

CitizenCon 2948 presentation: Road to Release

So far only PC (Windows and Linux) version has been announced but I think it wouldn't be huge surprise if Squadron 42 would be available for consoles at some point later.

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#18 Posted by reap3r160 (122 posts) -

I have heard this from a lot of my friends who tell me I "just don't understand", so I'm going to keep this short.

In my opinion the Star Citizen debacle is unacceptable. I'm a software developer, I know how development cycles work. The fact is, you don't expand the scope of your project before you have your initial features done and released.

Star Citizen is a victim of feature creep, if new tech comes out that you want to include but don't have time? Oh well, you get what you initially set out to do done and release it then update down the line. I think the main reason for this is that they don't answer to any corporation. They don't HAVE to hit a target date and can change what they "promised" on the fly. This is where Early Access and kickstarter differ(and the former comes out superior in my opinion). Early Access, you put some amount of money into a game and that's it. Star Citizen is CONTINUOUSLY taking money, for no real reason other than that they just want every piece of game tech in their game regardless of how long or how much money it takes.

I could go on and on about the mismanagement and their unconventional development "cycle", but I've heard every argument from my peers and people will spend their money how they want and I can't fault them for that.

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#19 Edited by Creigz (226 posts) -

@reap3r160: Your argument is a well stated and valid point that I entirely agree with. I do my best to defend the game but that's primarily because I do want it to happen and I would hope that some supportive comments would help in the event someone working on it reads them and feels a shred of encouragement instead of just feeling like they're being flamed. A lot of people just fly off the handle unreasonably saying "this isn't going to happen or ever come out and they're a bunch of worthless crooks" or "all the devs are stupid to be investing their time in this blah blah blah". I see that sort of commenting a lot and I feel that's unfair to the people working on the project". I work in IT, it's a thankless job, and I've had employees at client sites who do nothing but shit talk us because they set expectations that are unrealistic or irrelevant (not to say that's specifically the case here) and when I hear those sorts of comments it makes me want to not do anything for them, rightfully so.

To add to this I think Early Access as an umbrella term (this includes crowd funded projects) is a bullshit thing to try and sell people. I do not buy early access titles anymore. I've been burned too many times by total shit products that just perpetually stay in EA as a means to produce shoddy work and get paid for it. Early Access is a huge scam in my opinion. The only one I've bought into and felt I got what I paid for is Star Citizen because I just wanted to float around in a space ship and shoot at other space ships, which I have done for enough time to validate my money put in. I equate my cost to entertainment value in respect to other games on average and the price of a movie ticket. A 20 dollar game with 4-8 hours of entertainment isn't a bad value to me anymore considering a movie is ~2 hours at the same cost.

Additionally this game suffers scope creep on such a huge scale it's basically a meme now. It surpasses what I feel is reasonable but I appreciate the desire to create those features and really do hope it happens, but I do lose hope occasionally until a major content patch.

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#20 Posted by reap3r160 (122 posts) -

@creigz: I 100% see your point on Early Access. Honestly, I've only bought a handful of early access games(PUBG and Dead Cells being the big two) and any I do buy are usually vetted either by the bomb/beast crew or close friends. As shown on the steam stream last week, there is SO much garbage on steam that buying something with confidence is a hard ask.

I agree, it's not necessarily fair to the developers, after all we don't 100% know who is calling all these shots. Same for something like Andromeda, devs work hard regardless of the outcome and sometimes it just doesn't come together.

Can I say with absolute certainty I won't buy Star Citizen when it comes out? No. But it's just gone on for so long and there's been so much nonsense surrounding it that it's hard to separate. But, I absolutely hope it is at least good because everyone who has put money into the project deserve an amazing game.

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#21 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

@reap3r160: Yeah and I think that's completely fair at this time, you can't be certain you wouldn't buy it but it's had a lot of information come out that leaves a sour taste in the mouth of onlookers and contributors alike.

Dead Cells is a good early access purchase, that one feels honest and has a lot of replayability. I was gifted it this steam sale and I am quite impressed with it. I think that there are exceptions to the "Early Access is a Scam" rule but I have had a lisa simpson chalkboard meme and a change my mind guy meme on my home computer that I post all the time when someone prompts me to buy an Early Access game.

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#22 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

"Feature creep" is used in a negative way but personally I think things works perfectly for Star Citizen. They are steadily integrating features they have promised or talked about in past while pushing the project forward with good pace. Many features requires lots of new tech to be able to be implementated and that's what they have been working on. As can be seen in the Roadmap there are more and more gameplay features included in releases. As a software developer I don't have much negative to say how CIG is working on project.

If they wouldn't release test versions as frequently as they are doing then things would be more complicated and probably unacceptable.

I'm a huge fan of Early Access. Most of the games I'm playing these days are fully or partially crowdfunded; Elite: Dangerous, Star Citizen, ATOM RPG, Pillars of Eternity and many more. Early Access/crowdfunding is pretty much the only way to get those kind of games.
It is essential that one doesn't support a crowdfunded project unless he is ready to lose all the money.

I don't recommend anyone to support Star Citizen financially but recommend to give it a try when it can be done freely. It is way better way to get idea about the project and following game media because there are way too much false information floating around. Unfortunately it seems to be pretty common that game media people doesn't follow the project closely so the articles has more emphasis on drama and clickbait topics.

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#23 Edited by avensis (6 posts) -

Hi. Thanks for the topic.

Good, otherwise Star Citizen is for me anything. You have to be crazy to want to achieve such an ambitious project.

And in addition it can only touch a niche. The simulations do not excite the crowds ...

And at the rate where the project advances the main game will not come out until 2030.

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#24 Edited by spacegg (110 posts) -

@avensis said:

Hi. Thanks for the topic.

Good, otherwise Star Citizen is for me anything. You have to be crazy to want to achieve such an ambitious project.

And in addition it can only touch a niche. The simulations do not excite the crowds ...

And at the rate where the project advances the main game will not come out until 2030.

Unfortunately it is very true that simulation games has relatively small player base and big publishers doesn't care about them at all. This is yet another great reasons why we need Early Access/crowdfunded projects. It is not just simulation games but isometric CRPGs any many other genres as well. Thanks to Early Access projects we have got many great simulation and CRPGs games recently and more to come.
Because of Microsoft's acquisitions I don't have high hopes for more complex isometric CRPGs from Obsidian or inXile anymore. I would be very surprised if they don't simplify upcoming CRPGs to make them more mainstream.

Why do you think SQ42 and Star Citizen are advancing slowly? Would it actually matter if the game has only 10% features done if it still has more gameplay than most games in general?

I guess resetting the progress on new Alpha releases is the biggest thing at the moment which keeps backers not to play the game at the moment.

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#25 Posted by Creigz (226 posts) -

My thing is I don't want to burn a ton of time into a game for it to not be counted for my progress or for what I've done to change. I don't want to play it and be tired of it when new content comes along. Usually I play for a few hours before and after major patches to experience what's new and compare the changes to give myself an idea of how it's progressing.

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