The Daily Grind: What’s most important to you in a space sim?

I am still waiting for my dream space sim to dock at my port, and I’m not sure if it ever will. It’s a giant genre with the potential for incredible variety, and in watching, say, Star Citizen’s development, I’ve noticed how players want so many different features and experiences from it. Whether or not the studio will be able to sate half of those desires, I have no idea, but I can say that there’s a voracious hunger for a lot more than two or three elements.

What’s most important to you in a space sim? Do you yearn to go exploring the unknown? Do you want to engage in a space opera with an exciting cast of alien characters? Do you want to make your fortune from trading, killing pirates, or developing new technology? For me, the aesthetic is just as crucial as any of the rest of it; I’m not going to play a game if the ships and art style is too sterile for my tastes.

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Phaserlight
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Phaserlight

Dystopiq Zillion This question tickled my brain, because I heartily agree with Zillion, but I couldn’t really answer “why”… until now.

The reason is very simple, and I was temporarily unaware of it until PBS Idea Channel eloquently brought it to light:

Playing games where there is a complex pattern that requires skill and situational awareness:

Is a form of meditation

That’s all there is.  It’s a zen-like experience: jacking in and just ‘flowing’.  This is one of the many things I appreciate about Vendetta Online, but it is a salient point with me.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

JohnathanMartin1 Star Citizen IS Wing Commander in that regard.   You will find it very familiar.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Bluxy best of my knowledge nobody has ever done a space sim with like, liftoff, mission, all real time, and real-time re-entry up to landing.   that would be pretty incredible.   Hopefully with unreal 4 engine.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

2sense Yes i wouldn’t mind at all if they procedurally-generated hundreds of them with Genesis-wave styled flora and fauna.   Set the devs to sprinkling content then here and there and it’s an easter egg hunt.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

ZenJitzu Yes the crew dynamic in STO is actually good, why on earth can’t those NPCs be replaced with group members though, sigh, it was so close to being awesome.

melissamcdon
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melissamcdon

Ultimately it has to be exploration   To seek out new life, and new civilizations.  To go, girl.  To just boldly go.

PawnInTheGame
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PawnInTheGame

If Kerbal were an MMO with Star Citizen graphics and art design – that would be my ideal space sim

GoJammit
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GoJammit

cheesybites76 YEs it does. SC is not the only space ship mmo coming out or is out. They have to show a pic and it is the big news on the block. You might have made a good point if you actually answered the question. THAT is an interesting discussion, not just piling on the continuing nonsense that you describe.

DPandaren
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DPandaren

I just want to play with my friends.

DPandaren
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DPandaren

Zillion Dystopiq Meh, dogfighting in a space sim usually just ends up with the last two people flying circles around each other and boosting.

PhoenixDfire
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PhoenixDfire

I’m waiting until Star Citizen has either squadron 42 (The reason I backed it) or some of the persistent universe before I give that a try. However,  I must admit; I’m quite happy with Elite: Dangerous so far although I know it’s not perfect.

What it’s got right ;-

1. Space Combat – Once you get used to the pitch and yaw mechanic, it certainly gets the blood pumping when your in 1 3 vs 1 fight with AI ships and other players. Get involved in a war-zone if you want to see the combat at it’s best.
2. Co-op play – One of the highlights I’ve had is running in a wing, either flying escort or going pirate hunting. I’ve never heard so many star wars/top gun quotes. ;-)
3. The galaxy map – If you ever want to know what it’s like to be put in total perspective vortex, then just scroll out in the galaxy map and see how small you are in comparison.
4. Dynamic Markets and minor factions;- I like the fact that the market and factions react to player actions. People trade too much in on commodity, the market collapses for it. Run missions for one minor faction and get that faction to flip the system in their favour.
5. Exploration – OK. you have to grind up the Asp, the best explorer ship but there’ s a new ship in 1.3 (Diamondback Explorer) which is a lot cheaper. Get yourself a Advance discover scanner, Fuel scoop and big frame ship engines and see what’s out there. You have to get about 1000 ly from sol to start coming across the unexplored systems and then get you name tagged with them. Oh and watch out for the Back holes. Nice to look at but you don’t want to get too close!
6. Immersion – You feel like your in a space ship. the 3D cockpits and soundscapes are fantastic. Don’t believe me, try the it with the Oculus Rift!
What needs improvement ;-

1. Some of the Fast travel. Goto Hutton Orbital at Alpha Centari and you’ll see what I mean! I do think you should be able to select a star within a system and jump into orbit around that. The hyper dive locks onto the biggest stellar object, which can leave you travelling for quite in some systems. (Best to check the arrival times on the system map)
2. Missions for the Federal or Imperial Navies. – The missions seem to be a little odd and don’t seem to progress to well at the moment. This needs looking at.
3. General Missions:- They are a great way to start but the don’t seem to scale and have the variety, although it’s much improved from initial release and it’s something they’re constantly working on.
4. MIssing promised functionality – Passenger Missions, Salavage missions, HIring wingmen still to come.
5. Empty Universe:- Background galaxy needs a little bit more (well I was going to say atmosphere but that would be ironic) but a bit more background flavour about minor factions etc. Voiced Comms chatter  and background chatter between ships and stations would probably help.
6. Powerplay – The big upgrade for 1.3 and the closest thing to an end game so far. I think this needs a little more work. If you pledge to a faction too soon, it might restrict your access to the rest of populated space. The faction leaders themselves seem a little cardboard cut out at the moment.
7. In game Events – We’ve really only had two – The lugh event for control of the Lugh system was great and nobody’s worked out where the unknown probe has come from yet. There needs to be more of these.

What’s confirmed as coming;-

1. Planetary Landings and exploring planets (This is the big one that everyone wants to see).
2. FPS view. Walking around your ship, the stations and planets.
3. Alien Encounters – There are whole loads of the galaxy cordoned off at the moment. We know thargoids are out there but there have been hints that there’s something else there too.

I do think that some people get turned off because there’s no background storyline, or overarching plot. It is up to you what you do and the problem is that it’s too easy sometimes just to keep doing trade runs and not do something else instead. There is also a bit of a problem when reaching a certain of ship. for example, the jump between a type 7 and the next band of ships is more than 30 million credits (almost triple the price of the type 7). That bit I consider a grind and if you don’t have enough in the bank for insurance, imagine loosing  a 54 million credit ship and having to start with a sidewinder again!

ZenJitzu
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ZenJitzu

Accessibility: One of the things that I loved about Freelancer was how easy it was to do everything in game or on screen. WASD, mouse, done. I had a rich experience without needing to know much else. I backed Star Citizen when it seemed to be a deeper, richer version of that; instead, it has become a hard core sim with technically daunting and steep knowledge requirements; unfortunately it has edged out casuals like myself. I simply don’t have the time to keep up. Maybe they’ll have an impressive guide once it launches, though.
Discovery & Surprise: This is much harder in an MMO than a single player game, but a dynamic, open world does it for me. I’d like to come to the aid of a convoy under sudden, unscripted attack by pirates. I’d like to discover a jump point into an unknown system with shipwrecks in orbit (that I can board!), knowing that any assistance might be light years away…not the theme park rides on timers in Star Trek Online, for example. No surprises come from there except ‘holy #$% that thing has a lot of hit points!’.
Customization: The ability to make characters truly mine is crucial. One of the things that does keep me around for STO is the ability to customize my own captain and crew. I enjoy writing backgrounds of how different people from different walks of life ended up graduating from the Academy. From Firefly to Star Trek, it’s been a staple of sci-fi to have a diverse, interesting crew!

As a side note, I always felt that the engines for STO and SWTOR should have been swapped. STO would have been great as an interactive, talkie style about you and your crew. SWTOR would have benefited from the off-the-rails combat and annihilating thousands of enemies on a daily basis.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

quark1020 playerxx
There are more than a few Macross games where you do pilot a fighter that turns into a robot. Few of them came to the west, though, and most of the games were 2d sidescrooler shooters or turn based strategy games.

quark1020
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quark1020

playerxx Funny how the first thing that came to my head wasn’t Transformers, but Macross.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

KuroiEr 
I have told you what I mean. DS uses foul language and harassment instead of constructive criticism. You cannot be constructive if you do that. They’re mutually eclusive.

Bluxy
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Bluxy

F1Seb wrong game!!!…. infinity engine! http://en.spaceengine.org/  its already out just needs polish and an interface

oh and no mans sky

SC will be crap mate you watch this space

KuroiEr
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KuroiEr

Vikingr KuroiEr 
Nice straw man there. Care to argue against what I actually said?

2sense
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2sense

I want to explore (not only space in a spacecraft) afoot on other planets like a full on sandbox mmorpg. With other planets being so big that you could stay on it and have full enjoyment without ever leaving it if that is what you choose. Let exploration be true exploration. Planet exploration shouldnt resort to discovering it with a space ship and docking on it. Some space mmos have shoddy planet exploration like Star Trek online. No,  give me the whole thing already!

Vikingr
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Vikingr

KuroiEr 
So what you’re saying is that even if you litter your “criticism” with toxic words and sewer talk, then people should listen anyway? LOL
You know, I’ve been a politician (on a local level) and I can tell you that I didn’t hear a word from such people. I didn’t hear them when they shouted to me/us in a torchlight procession. I just stood there and looked at the fools who didn’t understand how to communicate to us, and bringing their young children with them (in strollers, even).

So DS & Co. isn’t shouting to be listened to, only to get attention.

Vikingr
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Vikingr

GoJammit 
I haven’t tried that mod personally, but I think why many people react so negatively about the statement from Patrick Bach is because it feels so wrong not having space battles in a Star Wars game. And, I also think many people now react because it sounds so narrow-minded – and narrow-genred (is that a word?).
Anyway, I hope gamers in general want broader scopes, more fidelity, better immersion, and better stories in their games. IMO Star Citizen will set an example for others to follow. But Tridus is right about one thing: it won’t be cheap for them to do what CIG is doing now.

F1Seb
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F1Seb

Oh yeah, Infinity: The Quest For Earth…..I remember hearing about this back in late 2005.  Well it’s been officially one decade and now we have….drum roll…..Infinity Battlescape.  Which was supposed to be using Kickstarter back in 2013? Move on to 2014? now it’s midway through 2015 and still nothing?  Yeah…..even SC has a good chance of coming before this project ever is ready for an alpha.

Pesko
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Pesko

I thought you were going to make a point about the lack of gender diversity in online space games, and offer suggestions on how to bridge that.
And then I read beyond you first three words. Nvm…..

Pesko
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Pesko

These are the voyages?

Pesko
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Pesko

Lol, when I read the top of the article, my first thought was: “The complete absence of Derek Smart.”

Pesko
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Pesko

What do you mean by “control”?
I only want control in the sense that it is player enforced. Big space sign put up by a pirate org: “You are entering restricted space. Keep out. Trespassers will be attacked.” Then it is up to that pirate org to enforce it themselves.
I don’t think there should be a game system that keeps people out of certain areas of space.

Pesko
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Pesko

I would add the ability to establish bases, factories, and colonies in the areas of those procedurally generated areas.

cheesybites76
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cheesybites76

That’s funny, considering that the article specifically does mention SC, and in fact does it in bold print. Oh, it tries to make it look like an offhand mention, but anyone with any sense knows that it isn’t, not with the unending coverage SC gets on this site.
Oh but a three-line comment is “adding to the problem”, right? Not the innumerable articles and countless fanboi- and hater- driven posts across mutliple forums? No, those wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

GoJammit
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GoJammit

You only add to the problem with comments like this. This article isn’t about Star Citizen. I want to say I’m surprised at how many people tried to make it that way.

playerxx
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playerxx

I don’t want to fight with small ships. I want my ship to transform in a robot and fight other ships. Like transformers and stuff.

Bluxy
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Bluxy

seamless  space to ground re-entries with a highly detailed land-forms and oceans a whole planet rendered from space to ground …. every planet in the solar system able to go from ground to space and back again…. i’m hoping elite has a good mechanic for planetary landing…. the only games to do this so far is ascent the space game and infinity space engine….

CromulentWord
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CromulentWord

This may be unpopular, but what’s most important to me in a space sim is … realism.

I’ve always enjoyed the kind of hard science fiction you get in books but almost never in other media. I like fantasy worlds too, but Star Wars-style pure fantasy in space just doesn’t much for me. So if it’s a sci fi game, the more plausible the setting is, the better.

One day I’d like to see a space sim based on hard science fiction space operas without FTL, like Alastair Reynold’s “House of Suns”. Trips between star systems would take thousands of years, with planetary civilisations rising and falling throughout the journey. Posthuman and machine civilisations would replace the aliens you see in most space operas. There would be no sound in a vacuum. Combat would take place over vast distances, and at speeds too great for the human brain to register, and would likely involve commanding fleets of AI drones rather than human piloted ships. Only problem is, for this to be playable, you’d have to allow the player to accelerate and decelerate perceived time, so it would only work as a single player game…

But as for space sims that are actually being made, Star Citizen’s multi-crewed capital ship combat is what I’m most looking forward to.

Bluxy
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Bluxy

deekay_zero Tridus dont forget star raiders on atari! that was well before Xw VS Tie

Bluxy
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Bluxy

ascent, space engine infinity, eve, x3 TC, elite, … combined into one….  all those games will be better than the mediocre try hard SC will be… forever

Red Alert
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Red Alert

Zillion Red Alert Totally agree. See my above post for reference.

Estranged
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Estranged

Flying that feels natural.  

Heck, I never get past that aspect and uninstall.

cheesybites76
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cheesybites76

What’s important to me is being able to crank up the game and actually play it and enjoy myself on my own, instead of non-stop coverage of a bunch of people arguing about a game that is still years away from release.

Kheran
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Kheran

What I want in a space sim is being able to :
_Take off and land on any planet/asteroid I can see or scan with probes/eyes.
_See that every star is an explorable solar system, à la Elite Dangerous ( with content ).
_Visit my friend’s ships and go on explo/mission together.
_Plot a course in unknown space and actually discovering things ( anomalies, wormholes, lost colonies/artifacts, resources, etc )
_Make me dream.

But my most important thing is to meet decent and friendly people, not jerks. Seeing the general chat forum on the RSI website makes me fear the worse….

JohnathanMartin1
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JohnathanMartin1

Dogfights (real dog fights the likes of which the wing commander series has always done well). Combat is a chief reason why Eve has never hit the right spot with me for example. It should be like an actual dogfight like a ww2 flight sim, not spreadsheets and NEVER point-and-click.
Next is exploration, as in awesome things to see and interact with in both space and on stations or planets.

GoJammit
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GoJammit

Red Alert  Zillion Dystopiq Why is he short sighted?

rottenrotny
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rottenrotny

Seamless spaceship sim to planet fps/3rd person gameplay.

KuroiEr
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KuroiEr

Vikingr KuroiEr 
By that definition EA is the most harassed company on the internet. 
  Criticism is not harassment even if it’s not constructive. This is especially true if the target of criticism is a corporation.

Cotytto
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Cotytto

I want a space sim that handles just as easily out of the gate as Freelancer did. That game spoiled me for space sims. Every other space sim I’ve played has had (to me at least) ridiculous control setups that are counter intuitive. I just want to fly a freaking space ship here! It’s (probably) the future, so I’m just going to assume a nav comp can handle the irritating minutia of docking a freaking ship to a station/docking ring. You mean you’re really going to trust your space station’s hull integrity to some pilot who’s only claim to his pilot status is he was given a ship? 

Oh and decent voice acting please. I recall some space sims with the most atrocious voice work I’ve ever heard.

Cujo H
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Cujo H

I’m sick of being just a space ship.

So for me to buy in now a days, i have to be able to get out of the ship.

Stone Crow
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Stone Crow

Most important thing for any space sim is that they actually release it.

GoJammit
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GoJammit

Vikingr What disgusts me about Dice in that statement is that they pretend this hasn’t been done before. In their own games no less. In any case, the Star Wars mod to BF2142 was great. If they’re too lame to pull that off they should just say so.

GoJammit
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GoJammit

Tridus Vikingr I, for one, always found it restricting only being limited to one thing in a genre. Probably why I enjoy BF more than CoD. More to do. I don’t need the ADHD generation to limit my gaming. One of my favorite moments in Halo Reach was when I got to pilot that fighter.

Zillion
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Zillion

Red Alert These are all awesome goals, but the universe’s (never said galaxy) wastness itself has simply a different scale, that don’t get account for in any game, even with “warp-speed” mechanics…

Red Alert
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Red Alert

Zillion Red Alert  Dystopiq Right now there are expeditions planned for leaving our orbit and capture an asteroid and eventually get to Mars until 2035. Don’t know what will happen but i hope it all goes as planned. It’s not like leaving our solar system or getting to the edge of the galaxy, but it’s a start. A start the should happen decades ago imo. But that’s a huge topic and not one suited for here. And i’m sorry if came rough on you, i apologize. It’s just that i’m a bit sensitive with these matters i’m afraid. Nothing to do with you.

Zillion
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Zillion

Red Alert  Zillion Dystopiq What then?!

Red Alert
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Red Alert

Zillion Red Alert  Dystopiq I didn’t say that.

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