Star Citizen is a game that has been in development for over ten years, and it’s still not finished. The latest update to the game, called “CitizenCon,” showed off some of the features coming to the game in its next major update.
The citizencon 2019 is a yearly event, hosted by Cloud Imperium Games. It was held on the 3rd of November and revealed some new information about Star Citizen.
For all intents and purposes, the digital CitizenCon event has come and gone, with a series of seven distinct video panels packed with lots of revelations, information, plans, and future features for Star Citizen. With this episode of Stick and Rudder, I’m going to attempt to break them down as much as possible, highlighting some of the parts that stuck out to me the most. Regular viewers of the game are, of course, welcome to agree with me. Alternatively, you may dispute with me. With a wagged finger, point out things I overlooked. In any case, I’m OK with it.
With a duration of just over two hours, this panel was the longest of the bunch. The bulk of this one was devoted to the future Pyro system, which seems to be progressing well. There were some spectacular flybys of space clouds, inside and exterior views of illegal space stations, and information about the planets and moons that would make up Pyro, all interspersed with detailed dives into how things were formed, written, and planned. The Pyro system’s creation was obviously significant in planetary generation technology as well, since developers now have the ability to add bigger rock formations and cliffs to planets.
The presentation then moved on to speak about colonial outposts, with a lot of emphasis on changing the way CIG builds and develops outposts so that they may be enhanced by player participation. Once again, a lot of careful views at exterior and interior design were presented, with various themes shown. It all appears to point to player housing features in the future, but when that will happen is difficult to predict. Everything seems to be still highly conceptual.
We received a good amount of Pyro mission gameplay towards the conclusion of the presentation, which showed off various ways to take on a mission as well as many aspects like outposts, personal inventories, and AI behaviors all working together.
Without spaceships, Star Citizen isn’t Star Citizen, and there were a slew of bright new toys on display today. The luxurious Origin 400i research ship, which will be coming in alpha 3.15; the Anvil Liberator, which is a ship that can carry ships; and the Banu Merchantman’s development were all featured here.
The Merchantman took up the bulk of this panel, which is understandable given how highly anticipated this ship is. Personally, I’m not sure I’d ever want to operate anything that big, but the alien-designed spacecraft have a certain allure. Overall, the toys displayed here don’t pique my attention, and I’m not sure who the Liberator is intended for, but then then, I like the more commonplace ships in my space games.
Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr But, really, this presentation makes a lot of claims about better performance and shorter timeframes. Everything sounds wonderful, but at this point, I’ll believe it when I see it.
More on the subject of tools! This panel is essentially a continuation of the previous one, emphasizing the advantages of the Gen 12 renderer while also providing additional technical details on how the developers are using the technology to depict planets. This is a great panel to see for people who are really interested in watching CIG experiment with their new tools, but I can’t help but feel like we’ve heard about the developers creating tools to make things quicker at least a couple of times before. There’s a lot here for the Star Citizen fan who’s more interested in that aspect of the sandbox’s development.
More on the subject of tools! This one, on the other hand, was a little more intriguing since it dealt with how the Persistent Universe’s developers are approaching persistence. It demonstrated how player streaming bubbles work, how the current architecture compares to the server meshing technology in development, and how new tech layers such as a cached entity graph (which will be key to universe persistence), a replicator layer (which copies entity locations to both individual clients and server nodes), and meshed game servers interact.
It all seems to be a Rube Goldberg-style approach to the issue of making Star Citizen a genuine MMO in terms of size and persistence, but the difficulties being addressed – such as moving spacecraft with intricate interiors – are difficult to overcome. Again, only time will tell. CIG deserves credit for describing some very complex processes in a straightforward manner.
The people who build planets together and mesh servers aren’t the only ones who are receiving new tools. CIGAudio and Claudius, two new tools that will help developers get spectacularly granular with how sounds work and what sounds play when, were discussed extensively during this panel, taking into account things like how a reloading gun will sound based on the number of shots left in a magazine, moving ambient sounds moving around players, and having a water-filled container make distinct sounds.
So, there you have it.
Tony Z, how I miss you. He’s the definition of a “ideas man” who seems to be capable of making his ideas a reality. Here we see a lot of discussion about current or upcoming gameplay systems, such as cargo, which will require more logistical forethought when moving items, how shops will sell different items (such as a manufacturer-specific dealer or an item-specific dealer), how missions and reputation will work together to help players start to really pick a side, and how dynamic events will be ticked off in the future.
And, of course, we get an update on Tony Z’s baby, the Quantum background simulation technology, with some of the system’s initial features being introduced at alpha 3.16 at the end of the year, with more to come over time.
Overall, I found this year’s CitizenCon to be interesting and informative, although it lacked some of the “wow factor” elements that I was looking for. None of the new ships immediately drew my attention; the tools being developed seem good, but their application will be the true test of their value; and some of the mission, cargo, and background simulation systems seem a bit too far away for me. But, hey, Pyro will be arriving shortly. That has the potential to be very hot.
It’s a huge, wide world out there, and the MMO industry is busily filling it up with science fiction MMORPGs! Join the MOP crew in Stick and Rudder for periodic forays into all of the latest space-trucking, dogfighting, and star-flighting MMOs.
Long-time MMORPG fans may recall that Star Citizen was initially Kickstarted in 2012 for almost $2 million, with a 2014 release date anticipated. It is still in an unfinished but playable alpha as of 2021, after raising approximately $350 million from players via years of ongoing crowdfunding and sales of in-game ships and other assets. It is now the most crowdfunded video game ever, and it has been met with unwavering support from fans and skepticism from detractors. Squadron 42, a co-developed single-player game, has also been frequently postponed.
The citizencon 2021 date is the latest information on when Star Citizen will be releasing.
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