Star Citizen’s latest concept ship isn’t a ship — it’s a freakin’ rover. Dubbed The Tumbril Cyclone, the vehicle’s multiple variants will run up to $70 for those who buy in.
“The Cyclone provides multiple interactive displays to give both the driver and co-pilot ultimate control of their vehicle and its systems. The Co-pilot’s seat not only gives the ability to survey the area, but also provides controls to additional systems provided by the various modules. […] The new X-TEC tires are the perfect solution for off-road vehicles. These articulated treads can change their configuration to handle soft and loose terrain or harder surfaces to provide equal traction, no matter the environment.”
Perhaps the bigger news is that sales of the ship this weekend have pushed crowdfunding for the sci-fi MMO to a grand total of $155,000,000. Going on $155.2M, in fact.
Reddit is chattering with details on which ships the Cyclone will fit into, if you’re worried about that. Is there a point to them in a game world where you can land on planetary surfaces in your spaceship? Maybe. Expect the full Q&A later this week.
We’ve been chatting about game economies this week here at Massively OP, so it’s a happy coincidence than this week’s episode of Around the Verse features Star Citizen’s shopping kiosks and commodities system in detail. Heck yeah, space shopping.
“The kiosk is going to be the user’s interface to purchase things or sell them within the game that are not physically within the shop in the case, purchasing or things in their inventory, things from their ship all selling with be done through the kiosk,” explain studio reps. There’s also a nifty discussion on the difficulties of scaling the economy to support the sale of “super tiny and inconsequentially priced [items] all the way up to […] massive battlecruisers.” As for recipes,
“Recipe in the context of Star Citizen is somewhat similar to a crafting recipe in other MMOs. It defines the types of commodities and resources that go into manufacturing a given item like a laser cannon or even a ship. The way that we use recipes and the way that you may find them in another game is that those recipes generally aren’t used directly by the players, instead they’re used by the design team to really sculpt the types of goods that are bought and sold in a location in the world and that’s to make that location feel correct. So if it’s a factory that it buys and sells the kinds of things that you would expect from that location.”
Wednesday, my husband and I were chatting about the big stories of the day, including the Star Citizen piece that racked up a bajillion comments, not counting all the deleted ones. I was explaining that some people have put thousands of dollars into this hope of a game, which skews how setbacks are perceived, when he remarked, “Oh, it’s their retirement.”
He didn’t mean people were investing their retirement savings into CIG, of course, although I’m sure somebody is doing just that. He meant they’re investing their retirement dreams in virtual spaceships. Those future players don’t really care that the game isn’t finished now and probably isn’t going to be feature complete for many more years. They’re thinking long-term: This is the game they want to “retire” to in a more vague and distant future, and it’ll be ready for them when they’re ready for it. Star Citizen is their cabin by the lake, their shack by the sea, their tent on Tatooine.
I’m most of a lifetime away from retirement, so I’ve never really thought about what I might want to play if I ever get to be a kid again only with money, outside of joking about wanting VR in the old folks’ home. But I have my weak spots: If someone promised me SWG 2 would be ready in a couple decades, I’d start planning my character now.
Have you got a “retirement MMO” picked out? What’s your ideal retirement MMORPG?
Another day, another Star Citizen drama.
German website Gamestar published an interview with Cloud Imperium Games this week, and between the paywall, Google translate, deliberate disinfo, and a quick game of confused telephone from other sites picking up the news, the actual stated information was lost and misconveyed.
The hubbub is over a server capacity-related quote from the interview that’s subsequently been accurately translated like so:
“There can only be a maximum of 24 players on each server currently (this will most likely also be the case in Alpha 3.0). […] The revision of the CryEngine in combination of a new server architecture in form of an intercommunicating server network (also known as Server-Meshes) instead of individually isolated servers should allow larger instances with thousands of players.”
Is it possible for one game to think of every little detail in a fictional universe? Star Citizen’s various teams are certainly trying to cover all of their bases to an insane degree. In this week’s Around the Verse show, details such as player tattoos, the placement of cargo in vessels, how one ship can take off with another ship in its belly, the feel of landing gear, and even the liquid physics in a cup of water are given close attention.
The main thrust of the episode, however, is what the team is doing with derelict ships and sites. These initially started as a demo and technical challenge, gradually expanding into a new type of environment for players to explore.
That’s no moon; it’s a… oh, wait. It’s really a moon? Oh, that kind of ruins the lede, doesn’t it? Can I at least make the joke anyway? Good. That’s no moon; it’s a procedural moon!
Yep, procedural moons (and planets!) steal the show on this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse. The Frankfurt team explains that each one of these locations is unique, with its own gravity, ecosystems, objects, weather, and atmosphere, and players can land seamlessly anywhere on the surface.
“What makes the game so challenging to build [is that] every asset must be crafted so it looks good not only to the distance but also from right in front of your eyes, and there aren’t many games that have those demands. I think it’s one of the things that makes Star Citizen so special,” Chris Roberts says.
In this week’s episode of Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner cap off another round of developer updates on the crowdfunded MMO. The Austin team checks in with news on the pricing structure for the gameworld, mission rewards, hub NPCs, mission givers, and the carry system. The Turbulent team also outlines progress on the Spectrum communication software, and there’s a behind-the-scenes segment on visual effects — they’re going to some wild extremes to make sure that engine trails look right in atmo.
Most importantly? “Along with the bartender we are also getting the useable for the bar stool up and running. Once this is done a player will be able to go and sit at a bar stool and order a drink,” Producer Jake Ross says.
Meanwhile, CIG has a flash sale running this weekend for subscribers, once again offering the Caterpillar for purchase until Monday, as well as a new Q&A on the Nox, which was the last ship up for sale. Check out the whole episode down below.
The Star Citizen subreddit is aflame this weekend after bloggers on multiple sites and social media platforms, seemingly spurred on by a certain self-proclaimed Internet Warlord, have held up recently disclosed Cloud Imperium loan documents as “proof” that the company is close to failure and in danger of losing game assets allegedly put up as collateral.
Redditors have sought to counter that narrative, arguing that it’s part of a multi-year FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) campaign by Star Citizen detractors. They point out that securing a line of credit is not even remotely uncommon (and is in fact wise) for a large corporation with strongholds in multiple countries, given current interest rates. Others suggest that the “bank” is actually a wealth management company known for investment and that no bank of this caliber would loan a large sum of money if it had little expectation of remuneration, collateral or not.
We reached out to CIG’s PR firm for clarity; turns out the company lawyer just responded on the official forums with the official statement:
This week’s episode of Star Citizen Around the Verse sees Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts and Eric Kieron Davis bookending Foundry 42, Ship Shape, and solar system segments. From the Foundry 42 Frankfurt office, Development Director Brian Chambers checks in to discuss new hires, level design work, landing zones, atmosphere mapping, buddy AI, enemy reactions, planet surfacing, outpost lighting, environment art, and multiplayer persistent universe gameplay testing (yay!), while Ship Shape is aimed at you motorcycle lovers.
“Being able to see your footsteps in the snow or have your vehicle kick up dust while speeding across the desert are those little details that’ll make you believe that you’re really in those environments and be much more immersive, and you know me – I love immersive,” Roberts chimes in.
The best bit is easily the solar system segment, but I’m biased – I married an astrophysicist. The devs explain how they use the Solar System Ed (SolEd) to build out the parts of their galaxy in the service of the Star Map, making use of volunteer astronomers and other scientists to vet their ideas for scientific plausibility. Fun!
Hellion isn’t the only sci-fi sandbox finally getting female characters underway: Star Citizen is working on the female body meshing, just one of the tidbits in this week’s edition of community-oriented infodump program Around the Verse, this episode helmed by brothers Chris and Erin Roberts, aka “Roberts squared.”
“A female transfer mesh has been created and the male transfer mesh has been massively updated. Now these transfer meshes are used in conjunction with all of our skinning tools to automate basic skinning of all of our new characters. Tech Animators can now spend time affecting the weighting of a mesh, allowing for a higher quality and a more accurate deformation in less time.”
The check-in with the LA studio provides updates on the narrative work and dialogue for 3.0, ship cargo mechanics, solar system content, object container editing, the intelligent flight control system, costumes, and improved character rigging. And there’s a behind-the-scenes on the game’s networking and database code. Enjoy!
This week’s Around the Verse has arrived for Star Citizen fans, helmed by both Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner. This episode has a crapton of footage worth a skim for the visuals alone; there’s a lengthy studio update from the folks in Manchester, discussing the accessibility of the early game, including the hint system, plus 3.0 mission development, AI pathing, lighting and reflection, weapons, animations, ships, ground vehicles, weapons, habitable units for outposts, cockpit graphics, and character customization.
Item 2.0 and the great ship migration of 2017 get the back half of the episode. The takeaway? Seats are really important. 3.0 is coming, citizens! Check it all out down below.
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
Big changes are coming to Star Citizen — well, to its website. This week’s episode of Around the Verse explains that the game’s website is being overhauled to make it more functional and responsive for both hardcore backers and newbies who stumble into it and can’t figure out what’s actually playable yet. Spectrum 0.3.5 – that’s Cloud Imperium’s built-from-scratch communication tool – is on the way as well.
Meanwhile, the studios are hard at work on all things 3.0, as the Austin studio check-in outlines, with additional work on mocap, persistent universe animations, the subsumption system, and the new mission manager. There’s also a look at the massive ongoing ship migration project as older ships are updated to the item 2.0 framework, what Producer Ashram Kain calls “one of the largest things that [he thinks] has ever been done in a game, particularly a multiplayer game.”