It all started with a scene in space pulling away to reveal a huge ship and a few smaller ships with slow detailed fly bys of the camera in what we were told are CryEngine3 renderings. Then the internals of a ship with the smaller ships landing and people moving about in the hull of what we were to presume was the larger ship. Then the cut away to an alien looking craft, no three of them racing towards the huge ship. People running, action, saluting, getting into and taking off the first seen smaller ships with a striking view of inside of the cockpit as the ship closes and starts off the catapult. Then a battle in space, lasers and guns and explosions! All the while, avatars work controls and near collisions with space rocks and more lasers in the dog fight. The action ends with an explosion of the enemy ship and the logo of Squadron 42.
That was all I needed to see to get interested. Then the biggest reveal yet, an unassuming man introduces himself and climbs down from the ship having just landed: Chris Roberts–and he is back looking to make the game he always wanted to make now that the technology was in place to do so. A PC only game! A bit into the original backing campaign, a skin showed up that echoed mine and many viewers’ sentiments: “Shut up and take my money!”
Aiming to take enough to make the campaign which Chris Roberts said would be a complete mission set like his previous Wing Commander work, it quickly became apparent that the backers and community would push this game well past the funding goal of just a single player campaign with a persistent universe to follow and into the realm of MMORPG and AAA game production. At time of writing, this crowdfunding effort has raised just under 100 million USD. What? For a space combat simulator?!
The arguments for PC vs console aside for their own set of posts, I must apologize for sounding like a bit of a fanboy…because I am a total fanboy. And in my mind, for good reason. About high time one of my favorite genres of games is back with all of the slick, high-res, textured and lighting progress in graphics rendering since the early 2000’s. True I found Elite Dangerous after finding Star Citizen and really like Elite Dangerous, but I am really, really excited for Star Citizen. And logging into my hangar to look at ships I have made purchase of, it is really easy to see why.
From the details and design, no the whole aesthetic of the ships is awe inspiring. And I must say ships: so far there are more than 25 base hulls with their own purposes and designs. Almost every base hull has some options for the role of the ship, be it more guns for a fighter, better sensors for an explorer, a medical bay for a mobile hospital ship, and well if it has a purpose and may be fun to play, it will probably be in the game in some form. But back to the ships. Total War: Rome II did a thing with rendering called Physical Based Rendering to make things look better. Well, Star Citizen is applying an enhanced version of this for all of their ships. And it does look both sharp in detail down to the smallest fitting seen, to the large panels of the hull, to the leather materials used on cockpit seating, to even the wood panels of a select few of my ships. In a sense, Star Citizen is aiming and so far looks to be delivering a visual fidelity unlike any other game has seen to date.
The game itself touts that it using Newtonian physics to model ship movements. I can happily report that along with some perceived microgravity in some of the near planet demo levels that you can just zoom about in 6 degrees of freedom and then drift off into space. With hands of throttle and stick plus an Oculus Rift, friends have reported that this, as well as games like Elite Dangerous, do have a high amount of immersion not previously found. Redout, grey-out, blackout happening before G-LOC if you try to pull too many g’s. And the list of things to come: FPS, persistent universe, economy and more ships. Did I mention that every ship in the game now can be bought for with credits in the game? I mean, there is already racing that can be done in the Alpha builds of ‘Arena Commander’ now. It wasn’t planned, but something the community came up with that the developers said, yes this only makes sense if we are looking to build a universe.
Another thing to look forward to, frequent updates in both written posts and videos from the producers. Not only do they show work being done, work that is complete, but give access to their development process, flavor information about the universe, history of this universe and sneak peaks of things they know will be of interest to the community. Interaction with the community? Star Citizen has that and displays developer posts on their main page as well as key figures answering questions from the community forums every week. And every convention shows off what they have while hinting or saying what will come. Plus they even invented their own convention: Citizen Con. These events are not only for in-person consumption but also streamed over Twitch.tv.
As far as I am concerned, this is crowdfunding done right. Sure, with any successful program there will be a group of naysayers, but such is the price of being the biggest target in crowdfunding ever. I do not intend on getting into the whole ‘scandal’ debate here, nor ever for any game or project, but I do ask that both sides are given equal scrutiny rather than the jump-on-the-burn-wagon mob mentality some places of the internet has been conditioned to see as acceptable.
But enough about the unpleasantries. What I am looking forward to the most in Star Citizen? The immersive universe in high fidelity taking part in the single player missions and then the sandbox universe with friends. Doing what we do best. Having the time of our lives doing what we want to do at that moment. Want to go explore now. Nope, we got intercepted so man the guns and take up a fighting formation! Now to do some trading, oh look that guy is trying to move cargo in deep space without an escort. Let’s teach him that it was a bad idea and take his stuff. Ah, got hired out to run a protection detail for a big ship. Break out a mix of big escort ships and smaller fighters. Eww, a gun fight has broken out at this spaceport, screw it we are joining in too! The possibilities of the ever changing player driven content with the occasional scripted events seem endless.
As the game finishes up and more modules come online, then the beta and the final release, I am sure I will post more and more content for Star Citizen. At the moment, most of the D&D crew and other close friends from my other days of gaming already backed and will join in the fun, so I could see this being a game I spend a lot of time playing. Hell, if this whole little blog site takes off, I could see this becoming a regular adventure story line in and of itself. But only the future me will know how awesome it is right now.
While most of you out there may be thinking ‘I hope this game lives up to the hype’, I dare reply ‘to me, it already has…long live PC gaming and long live the space sim!’ See you in the ‘verse!