Star Citizen Weekly Roundup: 19th – 24th May
It’s the first of our weekly news roundup of what’s been taking place in the constantly evolving development titles, Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
You can read my original article here which explains why we’re committing weekly articles to this record breaking, crowd funded effort. Star Citizen is a title in which the development process has been blown wide open to give ordinary gamers an insight into how a game is imagined and created.
I can’t go much further without saying a thank you to those on the RSI website who posted my previous article on the forums for wider distribution (the threads that I’m aware of are here, here and here). It’s gone wider elsewhere, including a thread on Reddit, and we really appreciate everyone who took the time to read the article. Thanks for the feedback and for the comments, it’s been great to hear what you think. Hopefully Games Fiends can continue to cover the Star Citizen universe and its community as they both grow and develop over time (and hopefully this will encourage others to jump on board too).
Main headlines this week:
- Star Citizen hits $44 million and unlocks the Stellar Cartography room for hangars
- The first semi-finalist from The Next Great Starship is chosen.
- The ship specifications page is updated again, this time to better reflect cargo hold capacities.
- Arena Commander Dog Fighting Module weekly update confirms no change to the rollout of the module next Thursday 29th May.
While it seems to be taking longer and longer to reach each 1 million milestone in crowd funding that results in a personal message from Chris Roberts, it’s still impressive that Star Citizen is generating at least $30,000 a day. Having achieved $44 million in funding, every backer up until this point has unlocked the Stellar Cartography hangar room. This stretch goal was previously voted on by the community and while no images accompanied this post, the closest we’ve previously seen to a map room was nearly a year ago when CIG posted their WIP video of the Galaxy Map.
The ship specifications page received an update this week which caused something of a stir on the forums. One driving factor behind the change was due to CIG finalising details on how cargo will work in-game (which was recently detailed in the subscriber exclusive Jump Point digital magazine and will be made available to the rest of the community in the next month or so).
This meant that many of the ship’s cargo capacity stats were altered, leaving some owners with a reduced volume of potential cargo to haul in their ships, or in the case of the 350R, none at all. More than a few threads were opened up on the forums regarding this, particularly from 300 series owners. One thread in particular prompted the following response from community manager Ben Lesnick which can be read here:
An example of the above would be (in modern day terms) how shipping a small van full of Saffron would be financially more beneficial compared to hauling a truck full of bananas. He also mentions that the specifications page itself doesn’t truly reflect many of the other traits that a ship could have. Final tweaks and alterations/adjustments to the ships in order to make them fully working and fly-able will also impact on the specification of that ship (the 300i will be fully working in the upcoming Arena Commander dog fighting module).
The weekly Arena Commander development report contained the good news that, at this moment of publication, nothing had seriously derailed CIG’s desire to ship the module out to everyone on the 29th May 2014. Initially this release will be single player only for most. With a free flight mode to allow people to get acclimatised to controlling their ships, and a Vanduul Swarm mode which pits you against wave after wave of Star Citizen’s signature enemy.
Multiplayer modes are included from day one, but access will be rolled out incrementally as CIG attempt to bring the game online in a controlled manner. The aim of this is to avoid players suffering constant connection timeout errors due to servers not supplying the initial early demand, something which has plagued a lot of major releases in recent years. The obvious hopes for both the developers and backers is that this rollout will be across days, rather than weeks.
The HUD is cited as one area where the developers are keen to make use of the community feedback in order to further improve the functionality and design. This is just as well given how much of a hot topic it is amongst the backers, and how vital the information feedback will be to players in the game itself.
As of this week, the code has been locked down and future work will now focus on QA as well as performance and stability improvements.
The Next Great Starship (Spoiler Free)
The first semi-finalist was chosen in CIG’s “design and build your own spaceship” competition. The contest has been very close to the wire, with a number of designs highly favoured to win, and would no doubt sell well if they were ever to make their way in-game.
The next semi-finalist will be chosen next week, after which two teams will travel to CIG’s LA office in order to find out which design will be implemented and sold in Star Citizen.
10 For The Chairman
This is Chris Roberts’ weekly show in which he answers ten questions from subscribers; monthly backers whose contributions help fund CIG’s weekly video updates and Jump Point magazine.
Covered this week:
- Differing levels of gravity could be achieved, but recording the many animation sets required could be problematic.
- Environmental EMI (electromagnetic interference) can impact on the ship’s radar systems or other electronics. The opening level of Squadron 42, the single player game which will be released episodically, will feature a segment very early in on the game in which you suffer a communications blackout during flight. Fixing equipment that has broken down was also confirmed as a gameplay feature
- A feature that is planned, albeit probably some years away, is the ability to design, manufacture and sell your own ship in-game. However CIG would need to curate all entries in order to make sure the ships worked properly, fitted in with the persistent universe and weren’t shaped like massive penises.
- Ship to ship/station docking and how it would work was also expanded upon. Chris confirmed that ship flight computers will take care of docking, although it will be possible to do it yourself, but with some degree of difficulty, especially dependant on where the docking collar on your ship actually is.
- Another subscriber potentially gave some poor employee at CIG a lot more work when they asked about the ship user manuals being made available for the Arena Commander release. This isn’t something that was planned on but will be investigated as a possibility. General functions and controls across the ships will be largely the same and consistent depending on what each ship is capable of doing.
- Having a dedicated “friends list” in both the forums and in-game was confirmed as being off the books. Chris elaborated that the Organisations were the best way to maintain that close link with the people you wanted to play with. This response sparked off a number of threads on the forums where the lack of friends list and other possible alternatives were theorised and debated upon. It’s not necessarily a popular decision and one that might be reversed in time as the persistent universe becomes more fully developed.
- CIG are planning on having in fiction news show that you’d see and watch both in-game and from the RSI website as a post-release feature. Chris also confirmed discussions taking place around a way for people could watch and capture in-game events so players can help provide content for news shows. These will also feature future lore generated events (famine on outer planets etc). There are also tentative plans to provide channels for people to stream their content to, but this hasn’t been confirmed for definite.
- Resources such as asteroid field ore are planned to be “close to finite”. There will be some elements of regeneration, but the plan is that the discovery of new systems should be able to provide the balance in which resources deplete realistically, but not to the point where the economy collapses. However if CIG’s economy model does get stuck in a corner and it begins to impact on gameplay, then they are able to regenerate previously mined resources at a push.
Three new senior QA testers joined Foundry 42 in Manchester, UK this week. Which shows that development of the single player Squadron 42 campaign is really starting to ramp up and they’re already planning for ensuring that the first episode is as bug free as possible, a luxury they haven’t had to worry about quite so much with the hangar module and the upcoming Arena Commander release. A 3D artist has also been hired.
CIG Austin also gave an inside look inside their testing process for Arena Commander and interviews with those who are currently putting the code through its paces. This section showed the game running in 5760×1080 resolution and testers using both a HOTAS setup and an Xbox joypad.
Some additional gameplay features were revealed during the forum feedback session, such as the possibility of massively huge planets being made possible thanks to the future implementation of double precision.
In a nice nod to those who suffer from colour blindness, CIG have recognised that part of the HUD customisation process should take this into account when allowing for different configurations.
CIG Developer bevans_cig, who is currently working on the Arena Commander Dog Fighting Module, ends the HOTAS concern threads in the forums by stating that he “only flies with a HOTAS” in the ask a developer forum. He has yet to confirm whether he kicks arse though.
That’s it for this week from us here at Games Fiends. If you’ve read through this lengthy article then well done on you. Did we hit the mark with the info (too much/too little) and what else would you like to see us cover? Let us know and join us back here next week where we’ll no doubt cover the Arena Commander release in detail (with hopefully a gameplay video in tow).