If you lost your mind over Star Citizen’s procedural cities reveals at CitizenCon a few weeks ago, you definitely need to tune in to this week’s Around the Verse, where city tech is the star of the episode (if a bit backloaded).
“We are just working on human cities at the moment,” CIG’s Wai-Hung Wan explains. “I would love to see how we tackle alien cities. Is that going to be completely random? Are we going to have some or a greater degree of refinement by hand? I don’t know yet. I would hope even on an alien civilisation they have some degree of control and they would make logical, intelligent choices about where they would place specific buildings – even recreational facilities – so each time you visit that location it will look exactly the same as you left it.”
Studio Director Eric Kieron Davis says the team has checked in over 700 updates since last week (with 197 total issues, not bugs, remaining to address 3.0). “We are making steady progress to get [the 3.0 alpha] into your hands as quickly as possible,” he says.
Did you know about all the MMOs I hate? I sure as heck didn’t! I mean, I knew there were a few games I hated (Scarlet Blade, Alganon) and some that I have pretty poor feelings toward for various reasons (Star Citizen, EVE Online, League of Legends, H1Z1: Kash of the Kow), but those are also games I discuss only in particular circumstances.
Yet thankfully, I have been informed over the near-decade of writing about MMOs that there are a number of games I thought I liked but that I do, in fact, hate. This was a surprise to me, but I think that for purposes of comprehension, it’s best for me to list for reference all the games that I apparently utterly despise. It’s all very confusing to me, but I’m confident that by sharing and making the occasional off-color joke, I’ll be able to decipher it all.
So, Star Citizen alpha 3.0. Around the Verse. Does anyone read these, or do you just skip to the comments with your popcorn? Let’s find out! In this episode, CIG’s Eric Kieron Davis, dressed inexplicably like a Star Trek character, says the team checked in 756 updates to the 3.0 alpha over the past week, as it’s focused specifically on mobiGlas, missions, traversal, shopping, and stability. No, the patch still isn’t on the PTU. They’re working on it. But seriously, what’s with the Spock shirt.
The meat of the episode is on quantum travel, and no, there won’t be a physics exam at the end (although I could actually arrange that if you want). Alpha 3.0 will overhaul that system with distance in mind; instead of just clicking your destination and be greeted with the “same experience regardless of where you were going,” alpha 3.0 players will find that long trips feel quite different from short ones.
Didn’t get enough of late October’s CitizenCon 2947? Then settle back with a cup of pumpkin space latte and drink in a retrospective straight from the crew over at Star Citizen in this week’s Around the Verse.
In addition to the recap, RSI gave an update on its 3.0 production schedule. The team said that its current focus on Alpha 3.0 fixes is on missions, ships, vehicles, traversal, MobiGlas, performance, and stability. The good news is that the number of remaining issues are “going down” as work progresses, leaving about 15 line items to address.
“This week, we pushed out four builds to the Evocati testers along with fifteen internal builds to the team,” RSI said. “Our primary focus this week was to fix the critical bugs that were affecting stability for the Evocati which prevented them from discovering any other game issues. The team completed Item 2.0 setup on the Mustang and 300 series of ships, came even closer to closing out the cargo system and continued to polish our two primary Mission Givers; Ruto and Miles Eckhart.”
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree discuss the up-and-down week that was Star Wars: The Old Republic, fret over CCP’s studio closures, marvel at Star Citizen’s CitizenCon, and talk about the flurry of MMO releases as of late.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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While it surely won’t comfort anyone angrily counting down the days until alpha 3.0’s eventual release to all backers, Star Citizen’s CitizenCon 2017 delivered an enticing look at what players can expect in the more distant future of the game’s development: specifically, the persistent universe mechanics brought down to the city scale. Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts likened the cityscapes to Star Wars’ Coruscant or Blade Runner’s dystopian sci-fi urban settings as the demo video zipped across the planet’s smoggy surface. The downside? There’s no ETA for when these ideas and demos will be realized as truly playable.
The Star Citizen subreddit has exploded over the last couple of days as attendees and home-viewers pile in to share clips and interviews, bicker over the business model, and trade notes on the 3.0 demo. Roberts did tell attendees the game will be switching over to “date-driven content release schedule“; he also clarified his old “5-10 star systems at release” misquote and spoke to the game’s post-launch monetization, telling Eli Paley that the studio’s goal is to charge only for game packages, though it will reassess if that doesn’t properly support the game post-launch. “Our goal is that you buy a game package, or you can buy some credits, or you can earn money in the game – that’s our monetization strategy,” he says. “That’s what I’m planning. We have other things, like subscriptions, for people supporting community content.”
I remember years ago when then-Massively-columnist Rubi Bayer let loose with a blistering rant on the state of faux beta MMOs. She helmed Betawatch back then, see, and she was fed up with (mostly imported) MMOs claiming to be in beta when in fact they’d soft-launched. A lot of readers didn’t understand her fury at the time, but boy have things changed, right? Now, every game’s in on that very old trick, only they call it early access now, while some are still pushing the boundaries, charging $1000 for pre-alpha.
MOP reader Pepperzine proposed a topic for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s right on point. “I was thinking it would be interesting if we could discuss when people consider a game to be in alpha/beta versus a final launch as a topic,” he wrote to us.
“Back in the day, this was easy to determine. Selective testers were extended invites into beta who were experienced testers who had the computer hardware to handle the software. The primary purpose of being in the testing phase was exactly that, to test and bug report. When the game was made available to the public at a price, a game was considered launched. Now, players are granted access to pre-launch titles by ‘donating’ or purchasing access. For the most part, the primary purpose of participating in the pre-launch experience for these players is not testing or bug reporting but rather to experience and play the game. The division of purchasing a game and donating to test has become so blurred that it is no longer a valid way of determining if a title is at a state to where it is launch ready. These titles can stay in this pre-launch phase for as long as they deem necessary, easily deflecting criticisms by reiterating it is still in development. So when do you consider a game to be launched? Is it when the producers declare it is? Is it when there is no longer the possibility of wipes? Is it when cash shop monetization is implemented? Is it as soon as the company begins selling access?”
Where’s the line in 2017? Let’s dig in.
As part of its CitizenCon 2017 reveals this morning – or this afternoon, if you’re local to Frankfurt, where the event is taking place – Cloud Imperium announced a partnership with Intel. Why do you care? The deal means an in-game Star Citizen ship will be provided along with your real-world purchase of an Intel Optane 900P Series SSD.
“The Intel Optane SSD 900P Series delivers incredibly low latency and best-in-class random read and write performance at low queue depths – up to four times faster than competitive NAND-based SSDs – opening incredible new possibilities. With the new SSDs, users will unlock more potential from their platform. The Intel Optane SSD 900P Series is ideal for the most demanding storage workloads, including 3D rendering, complex simulations, fast game load times and more. Up to 22 times more endurance than other drives also gives the heaviest users peace of mind.”
In this week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse, the team says it’s gotten its must-fix bug list down from 20 to 16 blocks, improving load times, repairing disconnection issues, and tweaking inventory use. The feature segment of the episode is the second part of last week’s legacy armor, how the team is updating (really, re-doing them) for the latest tech, and even how the team is working the older-looking armor into the lore.
Meanwhile, CitizenCon 2017 officially opened its doors just an hour ago in Frankfurt, Germany, where attendees are being treated to science panels, booze, dev demos, booze, playable demos of alpha 3.0, more booze, and of course, presentations by Chris Roberts himself. Watch the opening ceremonies below!
Star Citizen’s annual CitizenCon event is almost here, kicking off in the Capitol Theater in Frankfurt, Germany, on Friday, with plenty of player panels, science discussions, science-fiction discussions, developer demonstrations, and of course, the requisite presentation by Chris Roberts himself.
And yes, attendees will be treated to playable demos of alpha 3.0., along with what will presumably turn into copious amounts of booze at the pub. Pubs. Plural.
The whole shebang will be streamed live on Twitch for those who can’t be there in person beginning at 3 p.m. local time Friday with an opening address from Chris Roberts. Frankfurt is six hours ahead of the US east coast and nine ahead of the west coast, so bear that in mind if you’ll be trying to watch from the US.
MMO blogger Serrenity, whom many of you will recognize from his clever comments here on MOP too, has a compelling blog post on his personal site today diving deep into the lockbox debate. But far from merely offering another exhortation to stop buying lockboxes, he’s doing some complicated napkin math (and by napkin math, I mean python scripting) to try to understand why publishers are so fixated on selling them.
Since studios are generally not in the business of handing out detailed sales figures and drop rates, Serrenity is forced to calculate potential revenue based on publicly gathered data, which he admits upfront result in rough estimates. “This information is purely extrapolated and used for demonstrative purposes,” he warns.
Using Guild Wars 2’s wiki data on drop rates for the bank access token, he finds that the revenue from selling lockboxes vs. selling that item directly increases 14-fold – almost 1500% higher. And that’s just a minor, relatively undesirable item with a relatively high drop rate; admittedly, nobody’s going to go ham buying lockboxes just for that (we hope, anyway). Plugging rarer, desirable drops that would cost much more upfront (like weapon skins) into his formula sees the estimated revenue soar as high as 12500%. That is not a typo.
Let’s just get this out of the way upfront: There are 25 serious issues still on the docket before Star Citizen’s alpha 3.0 moves from Evocati testers to the next stage of testing, with fixes chiefly centering on doors, broken interactions, and multiplayer crashes. That’s a bigger number than last week, you’ll notice, because while some issues were fixed, new ones cropped up. Welcome to game dev.
The rest of this week’s edition of Around the Verse is fun, as it’s all about armor sets – specifically, how the team has gone about retooling and updating one-piece legacy armor to use new tech and split into separate pieces.
Meanwhile, there was a rash of claims on the (dodgy) Star Citizen refunds subreddit last week insinuating that CIG had stopped issuing refunds now that alpha 3.0 is in Evocati testing. You’ll be shocked to find out those claims have been rebuffed. We spoke to a representative from CIG who stated that the studio’s position on refunds has not changed at all. “If a request comes through within the statutory period, we take care of them, no questions asked,” he told us. “Everything else is considered on a case by case basis.”
With all of the many spaceships designed (and sold) for Star Citizen so far, it might be a little confusing which might be the best for any particular person or playstyle when one strolls up to the lot and stares at all of the options.
To assist with this selection process, the devs are releasing a 10-part article series revolving around a “new ship matrix” that clearly outlines the purposes and capabilities of each of the vessels available in the game for the upcoming Alpha 3.0. The first of this series separates ships into different careers and then further separates them by roles.
These roles include combat, transport, exploration, industrial, support, and competition (racing). The team went on to explain a few examples from this wide selection, such as going exploring as a pathfinder, hauling human cargo as a passenger transport, or offering tourists a lift as a luxury tour.