Welcome to some more Star Citizen, today I wanted to talk about the State of Star Citizen’s PU by the end of 2018, what can we expect, what am I looking forward to & will it be worth sitting down and playing for players that are more mainstream & are not already fans.
Star Citizen is unique in the way it handles it’s development with quarterly releases coming out updating major systems in the game from a marketing point of view these Alpha Patches as major polished milestones, but in actuality it’s features and gameplay loops for testing, it’s been a double edged sword for the projects development.
And at the moment a lot of features, mechanics and core tech are in flux, the flight model which is core to the game is being updated, there is no real progression on the Server Meshing tech as it’s waiting on other dependencies to be developed and implemented.
For people that love the project and testing the bleeding edge, seeing cool stuff and helping the development this is actually pretty awesome BUT for those that want a game to sit down and play for 100s of hours that is more fleshed out and developed it’s not so appropriate.
Looking at the roadmap and the current progress it looks like 3.4 may be the patch that Star Citizen starts getting a bit more mainstream traction by potentially nailing down some of those more important parts to a more playable state.
The Flight Model is a core part of Star Citizen & probably one of the if not the most important part of the game, it is about Spaceships and pew pew after all.
And there have been ups and downs with the flight model over the development of the game. Other than a couple of notable patches the flight model has been poorly implemented OR has had issues with other features causing a load of bugs.
They’ve now formed a team that’s dedicated job is to design and implement a flight model. This should mean less problems with bugs & issues, like the physics breaking. They have talked about the intention of making it a bit simpler BUT also ships will have turning circles, they will feel responsive but thought will have to go into how you maneuver, strafing left and right around a target at high speed will be less of a thing for most ships unless they are built for that purpose like the Xi’an Scout.
What this should mean for the game is that they have a nailed down flight model, which may require balancing BUT it means that skills should be pretty transferable.
So learning how ships fly and getting good as a pilot will mean a lot more as they won’t be throwing this out. OR AT LEAST shouldn’t. There is always a chance that the core of the flight model will need a lot more work or is trash BUT with some much work going into that now I would be terribly disappointed if it wasn’t stable & fun.
Dialing in Object Container Streaming is important, Client Side OCS is coming in 3.3.5 mid Q4. With 3.4 this should have seen even more improvement. OCS is core tech giving much better framerates & efficiency you’ll need less Ram both Graphics Card and System wise. We are missing Server Side OCS in 3.3.5, so that might make it into 3.4 as well BUT whatever, we should have better frame rates across the board & the improvement should be significant.
Each patch will have Additional Missions & more variation of missions that we already have. 3.4 has ArcCorp & Hurston as well as the associated moons which has a huge gameplay area, but also new mission givers.
And we should see improvements to multiplayer aspects for multi-crew, potentially mission sharing as well so they have been working on ways to share missions and rewards, don’t know if that’s planned for 3.4, more of a they are getting it in as soon as possible.
With multi-crew in mind a lot of the Party and Groups Systems improvements as well as VOIP & FOIP should be ironed out. The ability to communicate easily in game is awesome & getting that dialed in a bit more will really be great.
The General Tweaks to Procedural Tech so Cities, Biomes, Space Stations, Missions, Encounters, Planets, Moons, Outposts and the larger gameplay area all benefits from advances to Procedural Tech, something which improves significantly with each quarterly update. There is going to be a much more expanded Gameplay Area – Hurston and it’s moons in 3.3.5 BUT with 3.4 Lorville’s Business District, ArcCorp, Moons & More Biomes.
Female Characters have been a long needed addition to the Verse, 3.4 brings greater customization to characters and the ability to create female avatars!
By 3.3.5 we should have rentable ships in the PU, with 3.4 I am hoping this gets more attention and we could see ship purchasing too, to be honest as long as there is ways to obtain ships in game then I have much more of a reason to play as I have progression.
The more things to buy, rent, advance to the better & 3.4 will have even more items from now to then as well.
As well as the systems in place to use them better,
The Item System 2.0 Functionality that they have been adding for a while is now taking shape with power allocation being meaningful, MFDs and Systems getting more functionality for Multi-Crew, Turrets are seeing a lot of work to get them to get them in a good place.
Again that Multi-Crew gameplay is essential, having turrets actually be effective, having reasons to have crew members allocating power, tweaking the shields
There will be constant changes to balance, especially with the Flight Model, FPS AI, AI Behaviors – A lot of work has been focused on AI for both FPS and Flight Combat.
This is essential for missions and general gameplay loops, exploration and things to do in game. 3.4 adds stealth gameplay, more tactics and reactions that the AI will make and further refines what the AI can do. Having a good amount of enemies to fight in space and on the ground is really core to having fun, it’s not just going to be mission based either, you might find a derelict or outpost infested with pirates.
They are also adding a Projectile Manager to Implement physics systems that will improve projectile functionality in-game, this should go quite nicely with a weapons rebalance and the new flight model.
There are a huge amount of other improvements, QT plotting, Scramble Races, a load of ships & vehicles in fact by the end of the year I think there around 20 vehicles (plus their variants) on the ship matrix left to to made flyable, some of these are for the most part ready but are too large for the PU or are coming out with Squadron 42 Ep1.
What is going to be missing?
We are still going to have server resets, there are still going to be bugs, crashes and issues.
There is a huge amount missing when it comes to gameplay loops, ships, gameplay area.
So it’s still not a sit down a play, fully fleshed out, even early access game BUT it will be significantly closer to that standard.
It’s a shame that 3.4 doesn’t have any additional gameplay in the form of salvaging, repair, medical… though it is possible something might be brought forward again.
Solid Flight Model, Weapon Reworks and High Frames mean that Arena Commander should be in a much better state to actually play competitively.
Basically 3.4 refines, bug fixes and improves what we are getting in 3.3 & 3.3.5 but also adds a load more reasons to play & should give us a lot more reasons to want to play, progress and get better at learning to fly, fight and play.
A lot is riding on the flight model being in a good state OR at least a foundation that they will build on and not overhaul again. As well as FPS AI adding more variety to missions.
3.4 certainly adds a lot more reasons to play Star Citizen and is what I am looking forward to most this year.