Welcome to a Star Citizen Roadmap to Release or Road to Beta, I wanted to go over some of the major and essential features that do not appear on the Roadmap, mechanics that the game is going to have or needs.
It’s not an exhaustive list, more features and evolution of current features are also a major part of Star Citizen’s Development. To what extent the tech will work and how gameplay will actually be for each of the mechanics is yet unknown.
Player Count & Progression
Hugely importantly is getting the game into the state of an MMO that means a few features need to come together.
Server Side Object Container Streamer & Full Persistence, this is the ability for servers to save info seamlessly and standby gameplay area on the fly as well as load and turn that area on. This leads to significant server efficiency gains but also is a prerequisite of Permanent Progression (or at least in the short term constant resets stopping) as well as the next stage of this which is Server Meshing, the ability for servers to dynamically and seamlessly hand data off to each other and allocate servers to an object container based on population of that area, whether that be a planet, ship or room. This set of features is core for the game to have large amount of players in an area, travel between those areas & for progress to matter, they are also being worked on currently.
Physicalized Components literally have each of a ships systems as an item with it’s own stats that exists in the ship and can be damaged and removed separately with this they are planning a Physical Damage System so that ships no longer have health pools, projectiles and damage will pierce the ship, damage the hull, armor, components whatever it hits and ships will be disabled if they lose their power generation or their thrusters, potentially you could shear a ship in 2. There are repair mechanics need for by hand with the multi-tool, by drone and by ship too.
Sub-Components are another feature that allows for the customization of ship items with components that change the stats of the item, also this may be part of the by hand repair system, getting a component working for a short period of time or changing a fuse.
Modularity of Ships and Customization of them is something that is core to the game, not only will you be able to change weapons and system, but also whole rooms and major functionality of certain systems. Changing a Torpedo bay into a troop transport bay for example or a Cargo bay into a Lab.
Aftermarket customization of ships with paints, flair items and more is also planned.
Ships still have some core functionality beyond this to get inCore, Life Support Systems that produce oxygen, that the room system then has spread around the ship, if you open a door to space or suffer a damage that opens up a bulkhead you may have an explosive decompression.
Supporting Capital Ships needs some optimization & tech Including ship to ship & ship to station docking, how will these ships exist when players are offline, do they despawn? Some of this needs to be worked out.
Tractor Beams will allow for the moving of small objects and cargo but also can be used to help ships get into space from planetside or to tow them to a spaceport. Other gameplay loops can make use of them too for utility like Mining and Salvage, helping move objects to those ships that want to nom them up.
Drone Gameplay, these are semi-automated and remote drones that have various uses based on their loadout from scouting to refueling.
Lots of Ships – CIG need to get the pipeline and major ships done for the Humans & Vanduul which are the ones that are mostly complete as well as the Banu, Xi’An, Tevarin and the as yet mostly unknown Kr’Thak.
Aliens – Animals & bipedal Races, something that has yet to make it in the PU, we have seen the Vanduul in Squadron teasers but they want the other races that I mentioned earlier in too. Though you could certainly have the game created to something akin to a Beta potentially without all of the Races in.
Wildlife will be a thing though, dangerous animals BUT we don’t know what mechanics will be associated with these, big game hunting, science or capture?
With all of this in CIG can actually in earnest Balance the Flight Model & Combat, something that is much needed, the game cannot be considered Beta until they have a solid model for Flight & Combat.
Star Citizen’s AI needs a huge amount of work, from getting it generall functional and challenging at different levels to having AI using ground vehicles, NPCs are supposed to have 24 hour schedules, where they eat, work, sleep. We are going to be able to hire NPC crew both individual crew and whole crews for a Capital Ship, these need tech to have them physicalized and simulated dynamically, so when you aren’t near an NPC their function onboard a ship is simulated to save on resources.
There are AI Modules that will allow for turrets to perform simple defense operations.
Organization & Group Gameplay
Organization & Group Features are a major pillar to the core of Star Citizen, there is going to be Mission & Asset Sharing, a Permissions Systems allowing certain named players / npcs access to certain doors, areas of a ship & it’s systems. The ability to have groups & orgs, manage them effectively share rewards & ships, expect a system to allow for alliances and wars too. Part of the Party System will allow you to effectively match make or LFG and rate players on their performance.
There are going to be NPC Orgs known as Guilds that will allow some benefits, like an Bounty Hunters Guild allowing you have more info on Criminals in an area and potentially giving you access to more missions.
Gameplay Loops – A lot of the Gameplay Mechanics I am going to briefly mention will have mini-games and more going on with them as well, I am just going to touch on them in brief.
We know their is Science gameplay planned ships like the endeavor can have science labs that can crunch data and potentially even manufacture chemicals / compounds / commodities.
There is also Item Tweaking & Permanent Overclocking of weapons & systems that can be done.
Exploration crosses over into science as well but in terms of exploration features the game needs that ability to find things so via scanning and information sharing – POI, anomalies, salvage sites, mineables, base locations, pirate bases etc… You to be able to save and share/sell location information. The range of points of interest could be massive, with the potential for unmapped jump points, new planets, new animals, plants, ancient alien tech…
Salvage Gameplay will have players finding items and wrecks to effectively mine and make their scrap into little cubes of cargo BUT the mechanic also will allow for the removal of individual weapons and components by hand, blowing apart of ships with salvage charges & the stripping of hulls.
Farming is going to be a mechanic as well, they’ve talked about this both on the surface of planets / moons as well as on ships (specifically the bio-domes of the endeavor). We have even seen CIG testing harvestable entities. Expect the Mechanic being getting dirt, chemicals, plant food, seeds and finding areas and the correct conditions to grow certain plants.
Further to the Criminal System & Security they are Removing Armistice Zones which means that security of areas will be entirely enforced by turrets, ships, on ground security forces, laws, customs and associated mechanics, these need to prevent trolling, exploiting as well as create a barrier to outlaw and pirate behavior in certain areas. Some Systems will effectively be “safe” and UEE patrolled, others more like the wild west and some like Stanton in between. The way that outlaws are handled also needs a lot of work.
Ship & Vehicle Repair by hand, by drone and by ship is going to be a thing.
Refueling in space again by ship & drone as well as mechanics to mine fuel, there has been info on some fuel mining by hand potentially and QF being in solid form maybe, still waiting on more info on that.
E-Warfare as a mechanic is going to be a thing BUT we don’t know to what extent or how it’s going to be implemented, it could potentially be tied to deeper hacking mechanics, data interception and I suppose scanning down targets, tracking them.
Generally a more developed Multi-Crew & Coop Experience, larger ships need to be balanced so that crew play an important role at every station. This is going to require lots of iteration on turrets, stations, mfds, repair & ship damage gameplay.
A Robust Contract System is essential – Allowing for Players to create missions for Players & NPCs or request services, from moving cargo, to setting bounties, to requesting a specific area with mineral resources to be found BUT also tying into the economy we need ways to buy and sell goods to other players and NPCs in a variety of ways.
Healing & Death of a Spaceman, mortality will be a thing in Star Citizen, you have a certain amount of lives and you can soft die but eventually you will die and have to make a new character BUT your possessions will be passed on to them, though there may be ways of extending your life in some way as well.
In regard to getting injured there are various levels of injury T1 – 3 with T3 being light wounds, T2 being crippled limbs and T1 being life threatening injuries. There will be some form of ability to stabilize characters that have been injured until you can get them to somewhere that they can be treated, some ships, planets/cities will have medical facilities of differing qualities.
Insurance Mechanics will allow you to insure your ship and it’s equipment to different levels.
These also need to somehow prevent exploitation.
Player run businesses are going to be a thing from shops on a Banu Merchantman but also more specific mechanics for People Transport on a Genesis Starliner, so you’d have to set prices for tickets, a route and manage your reputation and happiness of passengers.
Expanded Cargo Systems are essential cargo commodity timers for moving cargo on an off ships are planned but various sized & types of cargo crates are needed as lots of small ones are resource intensive to the game, so we need a range. Most Cargo needs to be able to be moved by hand as well so it can be looted and managed. Also they want to have boxes that can store useable items as cargo not just commodities.
They are refining RTT tech, that currently allows for things like comms calls BUT this is also potentially going to be used for an in Game News Mechanic, the Reliant Mako is a news van and it’s suspected that RTT can be used to stream LIVE to a screen in game.
Data Running, Data as Cargo, Data Interception are all mechanics we know are going to be a thing as well as a more in depth Hacking & Breaching system to allow for the bypassing of doors, as well as other ways to get into ships like blowing up doors and turrets with demo-charges potentially.
Ground Gameplay – Base Building is going to be in the form of building of outposts & defenses to allow for a base of operations but also to exploit the mineral wealth of an area. The Pioneer is the only ship we currently know of that is for this mechanic allowing the building of a range of outpost types using raw materials then depositing the fully built outpost on a planet or moon. This will also be able to move outposts and there will be ways to defend your bases with vehicles and potentially structures.
Land Claims are associated with this gameplay, players will be able to survey land to find out if it has any assets there as well as in UEE zones the ability to claim an area as yours and have the laws & NPC Security Forces help protect it.
Planetary Tech will evolve with additional biomes, rivers, roads, caves, water stuff & even dynamic weather. This will start to include Alien Cities as well in the future.
Planets & Moons Orbiting is going to be a thing, this requires travel and location data to have a bit more thought to them.
Jump Points are transition points allowing you to move from one star system to another there may be some additional mechanics there for traversing or mapping them, in regard to How Many Star Systems Star Citizen will have it’s up to 100 – 120 Planned, but that will be over a long period of time, at least a handful of star systems would be needed to consider Star Citizen a Beta but the more the better.
There is also General Level Building with more POI, Stations, Nebula, Gas Giants, environmental hazards & Black Holes
They will be further Expanding Criminal systems with Prisons & Outlaw Areas
Physical Inventories are already listed on the Roadmap, meaning that players will have to store their items in ship lockers, habs, hangars, storage areas and you cannot carry everything on your character. This includes weapons and armor & we need to be able to loot items directly from bodies as well.
With that in mind Player Housing will be a thing Persistent Physicalized Habs & Hangars that will be rentable or purchasable.
To help navigate the world characters will be able to Swim, use Mag Boots (which are actually the EVA thrusters firing to simulate gravity), we are expecting better mapping and ways for players to find their way around the universe too.
Tying it Together
A major part of tying all that the Gameplay Loops, Area & Economy together is Dynamic Economy & Mission Simulation as well as Missions for all the gameplay loops – from Search & Rescue to Farming Missions. There is a simulation of what is going on in the economy and what NPCs and populations are doing. Probability volumes will then be used for players when they are moving through areas to work out what encounters they will have or if a bounty hunter finds them, pirates interdict them.
The Dynamic mission system provides appropriately generated missions for the area and events and then has modular elements so that even very similar mission might have vastly different parts & outcomes.
A must for me is having introduction missions for each of the mechanics and jobs in game so that players can find out how everything works, what’s fun and what is possible. I would hope a general tutorial in game would be a thing as well!
Finally Engine Star Citizen is very much lacking in Engine Polish and Optimization a lot of this could potentially transfer over the SC PU once SQ42 is LIVE, lots of visual improvements and scalability BUT Vulkan Integration is probably the most important thing here allowing for a hardware neutral approach to optimization. Star Citizen should scale to a huge amount of CPU Threads and be extremely scalable for future hardware too, no plans for Raytracing support yet BUT VR Support is still planned for the future at some point and Star Citizen will most likely make use of any appropriate tech that it can subsume.
And that’s what I believe is a reasonably accurate list of Star Citizen future features and elements needed to bring it into a BETA stage, as I said it’s not exhaustive and there is a lot of iteration and evolution that is needed for current and these features as well.