Cloud Imperium Narrative Director Dave Haddock joins the Around the Verse crew for this week’s episode of the Star Citizen community video. The majority of the studios, the devs explain, are already moving on to the next quarterly release – that being the 3.2 alpha.
But the highlight of the episode is the first iteration of the character customization system that rolled out in 3.1. It’s a pretty complicated system under the hood that hooks together everything from facial structure, hair, eyeballs, and then colors and textures for all of those bits, all properly tagged and linked together to make it easy for artists to add new assets. Hats and hair pose problems too, as any MMO player who’s even been annoyed by clipping can attest. The whole episode is below!
Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:
“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”
I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
Back in 2015, Star Citizen passed a million registered users. At this point, the game has passed two million. Three years later, it’s doubled. It also means that the staff behind the game wants to celebrate by giving backers a shirt.
Not a real shirt, though; an in-game shirt! So you don’t have to just tell your co-workers that you were part of the two million backer mark, you can show it off to the people who are more likely to think you’re cool.
Preview art for both the two million backer shirt and the one million backer shirt are available now; the latter is blue while the former is red, so even if you didn’t notice the number on the back you can still tell the difference. There’s no ETA on when these shirts will be available as the game moves through its test phases, but until then you can enjoy a forum badge to ensure that everyone knows you were in on the ground floor. (Assuming the ground floor is two million.)
One of the challenges for indie and crowdfunded MMORPGs is surely the nature of their development: plugging along without much fanfare, with players seeing only one part of the equation. Saga of Lucimia has a piece out meant to show what that behind-the-scenes iteration looks like in the construction of an in-game asset as it travels from art concept to 3-D model to textured asset to something that’s added to the world by a different team entirely. But then what might be a mundane art blog takes a sharp turn to talk about other MMORPGs and their communities and expectations.
“There’s a major disconnect with some players when it comes to the misconceptions regarding iterations over the course of the game’s development,” argues Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson. “We see a lot of anger around the ‘net in regards to how things change over time with almost every MMORPG’s development, with many claiming the developers lied about how something was going to work, or how something was perceived as being a certain way, and then when it doesn’t work out quite the way players perceived, they claim that the developers deceived them, and that the launched product isn’t anything like what was initially discussed during the development process. The perfect example of this is Star Citizen/Squadron 42.”
On this week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse, I can’t decide whether Sandi Gardiner or Eric Kieron Davis has the cooler shirt, but it also doesn’t matter because internet spaceships! No really, this episode is all about spaceships thanks to the fact that the entire piece is one long Ship Shape segment, sales pitch, and tease for a new ship.
Well, almost the entire piece. If you stick around for the endcap, you’ll note that CIG has laid out a free-fly event all weekend, running through April 16th, meaning that everyone – even if you’re not a backer – can jump into the game and check out the 3.1 patch.
You can watch the whole episode down below, complete with a lot of handwaving (literally) from Disco Lando, plus the chart listing off all the ships (and which ones are actually usable right now) courtesy of Reddit.
The Star Citizen team is still riding high on the launch of alpha 3.1 last weekend. The latest episode of Around the Verse checks in with the UK team, which is working on, among other bits, interiors and exteriors of space stations and the tech to support them. Improved optimization, ship detail passes, and particle effects are also on the menu, and the audio team actually took a field day to play around recording banging metal up against other pieces of metal. Incidentally, I’ve just figured out what I want to be when I grow up, and it’s that job right there.
The larger half of the video revisits the mobiGlas system, which as Star Citizen watchers know is basically an elite smart watch with holograms that can tell the player everything about everything through a slick in-character UI.
Incidentally, CIG did push out 3.1.1 yesterday, but very quickly rolled it back to 3.1 because of a nasty “frequent crash-to-desktop” bug. The company stresses that the rollback is temporary but does affect insurance claim tweaks right now.
If you’re bored on the holiday weekend, and you happen to be a Star Citizen backer, you’re going to be taking to the skies, thanks to CIG pushing live the 3.1 alpha on the livest of the live test servers, playable by everybody. Everybody who’s a backer, anyway.
“New features in the 3.1 update include the much-anticipated character customizer, allowing players to add a distinctive look to their in-game avatars by personalizing their physical appearance, as well as the Service Beacon feature, providing players the ability to send out distress calls which other players can detect and respond to.”
CIG is also touting polish on a bunch of December updates (“planetary technology, IFCS (flight control), AI, the Personal Manager tool on each player’s mobiGlas, ship weapons, ship damage physics and overall performance optimization”) plus the addition of the five ships that were up for sale (again) earlier this month.
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse is only indirectly about Star Citizen. The episode instead centers on Squadron 42, which is either a separate game or the same game depending on which side of the lawsuit you fall on, but either way, updates for one are crossover updates for the other too. The S42 team says that lately it’s working on details for ships that are so big they basically have their own completely functional massive subway systems to help you get around them, something I can honestly say I’ve never seen in an MMO before, so that’ll be fun to see in the bigger game.
‘Course, if it takes that long to travel between areas on the ship subway, your character’s going to need a loaded mobiGlas device with some minigames to pass the time. Gems, anyone?
The larger section of the episode focuses on flight AI. “This is a single-player affair,” CIG’s Sean Tracy says of S42 specifically, “so a lot of the heavy-lifting when it comes to both gameplay and story falls on those NPCs and their AI.”
Star Citizen hit another milestone this week: It’s reached 2,000,000 citizens. Accounts, specifically.
The game has been in production since before its Kickstarter launched almost six years ago. According to the official funding stats, the game has raised over $181,000,000 in crowdfunds from donors and pre-order ship sales. It broke a million citizens back in 2015.
What might be behind the recent surge that’s making numerologists rejoice? It might be the new ship sale announced on Friday, which brings back a bunch of older concept ships – for the last time, they swear – at an inflated price, with the promise that they’re actually coming in the next update.
Or it could be the studio’s ruminations on a pivot to releasing a minimum viable – and playable – product; last week, CIG posted a backer-only poll inquiring about the critical features the studio ought to work on first.
Source: Official site
. We’ve amended the title to make it clear that these are registered accounts, not necessarily backers.
Do you have too much money? Awesome. Star Citizen has some ideas for where you can spend it – say, on some new ships? Some old ships? Some reskinned ships? Some ships you missed the first time ’round? Some ships you want to upgrade to? Some ships you could’ve gotten cheaper if you’d done it ages ago?
“To commemorate the incoming 3.1 patch, we are offering a War Bond option to give you all one final chance to pledge for this selection of flyable ships at their original concept prices,” says CIG. The roster includes versions of the Anvil Terrapin, Tumbril Cyclone, MISC Razor, Aegis Reclaimer, Aopoa Nox Kue, RSI Constellation Aquila, MISC Prospector, and Drake Dragonfly.
Meanwhile, Chris Roberts dropped by the live Reverse the Verse yesterday to discuss the state of the game, compare it to Sea of Thieves (he says SC has more content but is less polished, which sounds about right), and ponder a minimum viable product for the masses who evidently prefer playing video games to testing them (crazy, huh?). To that end, CIG has posted what it’s calling the Alpha 3.2 Feature Survey for backers to essentially allow them to vote on which features the team focuses on for the next-next update.
Sea of Thieves’ character customization got you down? Star Citizen won’t be making that mistake. This week’s Around the Verse details the game’s roadmap for the character customizer arriving with the 3.1 alpha – and yes, tweaking your dudes and dudettes is going to be a game in itself.
“The character customizer being introduced in Alpha 3.1 is being polished by several teams working to fine-tune this highly anticipated feature,” says CIG’s Eric Kieron Davis. “The gameplay feature team is tweaking the options for eye and skin color as well as the way they’re presented within the customizer. We want to make sure the interface is intuitive and responsive as possible and the UI team continues to make adjustments to the customizer to ensure that. The character customizer is one of the most exciting new features coming online with Alpha 3.1, as it will allow citizens to begin their journey, creating an avatar that can fully represent them within the Star Citizen universe.”
I was snooping around the Star Citizen Spectrum forums last week when I bumped into a topic that made me back up my snooping truck for a second look. The author attempts to define “sandbox” as a “newer classification” than themeparks, which will make vets grin for sure, but then it goes on to argue that by definition, there’s not really any such thing as griefing in a sandbox as all activities are on the table.
2014 me already argued – successfully, I’d like to think – that PvP isn’t a crucial element of MMOs, let alone sandboxes, so I won’t do that again. But what I did want to home in on is how we ought to be defining griefing. I’ve always thought of griefing as having nothing to do with what is technically legal or socially acceptable in the game but about literally causing grief. Not trying to win, or trying to take something for yourself, which seem like perfectly reasonable activities in any game, but specifically making causing grief in other players your primary goal of your activities, whether or not you’re playing by the game’s particular rules to do so. For example: camping newbie spawn points even when the game doesn’t reward you for doing so. Consequently, it’s just as possible in a game that forbids PvP as one that enables it.
Do you agree with the OP? Is it possible to grief in an open PvP sandbox?
I hope you like starships because in this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, you’re getting two whole segments on just that. Ship Shape #1 focuses on the Aegis Reclaimer, while Ship Shape #2 is all about the Tumbril Cyclone. OK, so the Cyclone is a vehicle, but close enough. Both will indeed launch with alpha 3.1.
It may seem unlikely, but the team is doing a St Patrick’s Day event too, complete with prizes – including the Constellation Phoenix.
“The Community team will be holding a screenshot contest over the weekend. We want to see how you and your friends are ringing in St Patrick’s Day in Star Citizen. So starting tomorrow, get in the game and celebrate however you see fit. Then share you party images and we’ll choose our three favourites. Just remember to wear some green clothes!”