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Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Star Citizen - A Dream Coming True?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

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I remember when the Kickstarter for Star Citizen launched last year - lead by legendary game designer Chris Roberts (Wing Commander, Freelancer) it sets out to be the ultimate in immersive, sandbox space simulation. It covers all the classic space sim scenarios, from dogfighting to trading to exploration to pirating and even includes things like boarding actions and first person combat. From a conceptual standpoint it looks like the game I've always dreamt of playing.

The Aurora, the most basic ship.
You can play it as a single player game, in fact when you first start it up you'll play through Squadron 42 which is a military themed single player experience akin to what's in the video above. But once you're done with it your character is free to do whatever you want in the Star Citizen universe. She can become a trader, start mining or perhaps use those military skills for some bounty hunting. Now the entire game is open to you and the multiplayer aspect comes into play. Star Citizen is not an MMO in the traditional sense, but it does have quite a few things in common including a robust multiplayer. I don't think they've worked out entirely how things like PvP will work in detail, but you will be able to fly against other players and with other players. It seems to be similar to EVE Online in this regard, but with less focus on spreadsheet battles and more on immersion and twitch.

Now, I love EVE, I really do! But it does demand quite a commitment from you in terms of time and energy invested. Unfortunately a bit more than I feel I can afford at this time. Star Citizen looks to bridge this gap and I think it has the potential to rope in people like me, who would like to but don't have the time for EVE. Many of the systems seem familiar including the economy, although the economy in Star Citizen seem to be more of a hybrid between purely player driven and AI controlled. Here's a video talking a little bit about how it'll work:



What has me excited for Star Citizen, besides the more casual friendly gameplay, is the fact that you are a
The Constellation is currently the top of the line.
person flying a spaceship - not just a spaceship. And for that matter, you're not only flying spaceships, you get to walk around and talk to people in the bar, fight in boarding actions and fend of marauders at lawless planets. This is a pretty big thing as it improves a lot on the feeling of actually being someone in this universe. One of the greatest features of the space part of Star Wars Galaxies was having your own ship that was large enough to walk around in and call home. Bringing friends up to man the turrets and make repairs while you flew was really cool! It had its share of problems, but I'm thinking that if they could do that ten years ago I think Chris Roberts et al can do a lot better today! No load screens for one - you'll be able to go from walking around a carrier to jumping into a fighter and blasting some pirates to landing on a space station and walking to the local bar without any kind of load screens. Pretty cool.

325a, high quality... everything.
The other big thing is of course the twitch gameplay of Star Citizen. Make no mistake, this is you using your piloting skills when you fly and if you're interested it might be time to blow the dust off that old joystick that hasn't seen use since the late ninetiees. Some people like twitch and some don't but that's not really what's important. What I think twitch really brings to the game is (say it with me now) immersion. And since you won't be able to turn off the cockpit view you're really that person in that seat flying that ship. Which also means that you'll have to consider the cockpit view of a ship when you buy it. The small Aurora that you start out with and the Constellation both have cockpits with lots of windows allowing you to see very well, while the Freelance small freighter instead obscures quite a bit, but then again... it's not really meant to be a dogfighter.

Here's a look at a little bit of gameplay as Chris Roberts talk about the game and its use of Newtonian physics:


The Hornet, a dedicated dogfighter.
So they asked for $2 million and now they've just reached $20 million! Obviously there's a market for these kinds of games, and considering they estimate that the full game will need $23 million to finish with a year left to go I'd say the chances are pretty good. You can pledge for the game at different levels which will give you different ships when the game actually launches in about a year. I would love to get myself a Freelancer or a Cutlass, but those would be most fun with a friend or two who could man the turrets and take care of boarding/salvaging (which is done in first-person of course). Perhaps the humble Aurora is the best place to start... or an Avenger. Right now they are all parts of different pledge levels, but as the game is launched you will of course be able to buy them for in-world currency.

Of course, I would need to upgrade my computer first. This is something I've been wanting to do for aaaages. I think the number of PC games I really want to play are starting to approach critical mass which might motivate me to hold a little tighter in my money for a couple of months so I could splurge on some much needed hardware.

The Freelancer, freighter and explorer. Beautiful!
Finally, let's have a look at the ships available right now. Instead of keeping everything to themselves until launch the developers have chosen to give backers access to their hangar where all the ships they've bought (that are currently modelled and available) can be checked out, both outside and inside! It's all pre-alpha so there are all kinds of little bugs, but it really shows the work that goes into creating these things. The player can walk around the hangar and play around with their ships basically. My favourite so far is probably thre Freelancer with its Firefly kind of look, but the upcoming Cutlass "pirate" ship seems really cool as well. Even the Aurora looks great inside and the little sleeping compartment is great!

In the first video is the large (and expensive) Constellation with room for multiple crew members, the small Aurora and the 325a - the Rolls Royce of one-man ships:




In this video we get to take a look at the Freelancer. Another large ship mainly built for trading and exploration (yes, that's also a thing... you can explore new hyperspace lanes etc):




Star Citizen is still a year away but it's pushing all my buttons and they keep saying just the right things! It really is like seeing that perfect space game I dreamt of as a kid taking shape on the screen. I haven't pledged yet, but I can't see myself holding out much longer. Just need to plan how to handle my computer upgrading, which would also allow me to play games like Hawken and Planetside 2. Squee!!

Any thoughts on Star Citizen? Would love to hear it in the comments...

5 kommentarer :

  1. Damn. I have such fond memories of my time playing Wing Commander and shooting down Kilrathi in my days of DOS-playing. Though personally I think Privateer (especially the sequel) was better than the original game line in terms of plot and characters. The Darkening even had Clive Owen among others!

    What I like about Star Citizen is the possibility do something a bit more tangible beside flying the ship and managing trade or resources. Strangely I liked this part quite a bit in Mass Effect. Strolling around the Normandy and getting to know your crew. In fact most of the character development was done aboard Normandy.

    I'm not expecting as strong roleplaying experience with Star Citizen as with Mass Effect, but coming from Chris Robert a decent plot is to be expected, say the least. If they just could infuse the game with the same sense of wonder and air mystery that permuted my all time favorite starfaring computer game, Homeworld, then the game would truly be a dream come true.

    One thing is certain though, it's good time to return to PC gaming after nearly a decade of console gaming and following the Cult of Mac ;)

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  2. Agree wholeheartedly about the Normandy in Mass Effect. Knights of the Old Republic did it first of course, with the Ebon Hawk but it's basically the same thing. I did miss not being able to customize it though. In Star Citizen (just as in SWG) you'll be able to put stuff in your ship for utility and pleasure. The larger ships also have cargo ramps that open (Serenity style) and you can use forklifts etc to load things. Neat!

    It won't be an rpg like Mass Effect in the sense of branching storylines etc (although perhaps the single player bit will), but I can easily see the players creating emergant stories as they play - which is what have always attracted me to EVE. Having it in a more accessible format and with you being an actual person and not just a ship all combines into a very attractive package.

    Apparently discovering new jump points and mapping out the wormholes(?) will be an entire business in and of itself. Combined with no FTL communications in the game (or in universe perhaps) should mean that exploration is a viable career option. Only the pilot who discovered the jump point and the people he has shared it with can access it which I thought was pretty cool.

    There will also be new systems added to the game on a monthly basis so there should always be something new to be on the lookout for.

    I think these new semi-MMO games that are starting to appear are really interesting. The Division and Destiny are two that come to mind, and it seems like the next Fable game might be something similar (with the evil players controlling AI minions!) and Star Citizen seem to be in the forefront. With the dogfight module being released in a pre-alpha state before the end of the year I really need to get my computer into shape!

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  3. Backing and supporting for a year since 2012. Have 'Gifted',so far, to 12 people around the world to introduce them to and get them in as an 'original backer' deadline Nov 26th, 2013...each got their own ship, game code to Alpha Squadron 42 release ( Nov 2013 ) and Beta release ( 2014 Dec ), Lifetime Insurance on their original ship and a host of other perks. Don't wait any longer on this and " See you in the 'Verse' ...tell them Blues sent ya. " ;-)

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  4. @Blues - Whoa! A High Admiral! I think you are the hightest ranking officer to visit this part of the 'verse, sir. ;)

    Ah, so the 26th November is the deadline to be a Veteran. Yeah, really need to jump on that! Might have to shift some priorities around to get the funds in time. Hehe!

    I'll keep an eye out and a com-link open for you when the hangar doors finally open...

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  5. This is surely taking a lot longer than expected. I'm still confident it will be a great product.... but ohh the wait. PU has been entertaining now and then.

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