Welcome to some more Star Citizen looking at the Q2 2020 PU Patch Alpha 4.0 and some bits that are currently left off the Roadmap BUT could land between 3.7 and 4.0.
Alpha 4.0 is pretty light on features at the moment, this is because CIG are still planning out exactly what will be in it.
We should see a more accurate Roadmap for 4.0 with additional features when CIG have got Alpha 3.8 out the door, as with their new staggered development those teams schedule and start work on 4.0 features.
On The Roadmap for Alpha 4.0 currently is
Planet Crusader Updates, so that it’s no longer a place holder, this involves the implementation of Gas Giant Tech as well as POI and locations including the hero landing zone Orison. This is a floating city at high altitude where the air is breathable, a lattice of buildings, gardens, shipyards, shops and breathtaking views.
There are more AI Updates allowing Atmospheric Combat from AI Ships – they will be able to navigate and fight in atmosphere by taking into account concepts like lift, drag & the flight model. While also being able to correctly navigate terrain layout and objects on any given planets & moons.
They are adding to FPS Combat Behaviors – The AI will not only use a variety of weapons to create different combat situations but will have different ways to engage the player, whether in groups or solo. NPCs will have varying levels of combat training and skill sets for specific areas or situations.
They are improving the Player Status System implementing additional statuses, specifically intoxication and effects from drugs, and the associated functional and visual feedback.
There is the expectation of more useable items, meds and drugs at this time too.
The Zero-G Pull / Push feature is here, being able to use your hands to help you traverse the environment with or without EVA thrusters. The Artificial EVA Mag Boot Gravity feature hasn’t returned to the Roadmap yet but it’s very possible it will be here as well
Ship to Station Docking – Adding the ability to dock and spawn vehicles connected to space stations. This functionality is required for some of the larger ships to spawn at certain locations. This should allow the Hull-C when fully laden to dock with stations, along with the 890J and Reclaimer. I was expecting this feature earlier as the Hull-C is still pegged for 3.8… and it’s very possible that Ship to Ship and Ship to Station Docking have just been put in the wrong patch currently.
Oddly the Crusader Hercules is here, this is the might vehicle carrier or Starlifter that has 3 variants the C2, M2 & A2… We don’t know what variants we could have here or if it’s all of them. I said oddly that the Hercules is here BECAUSE the Mercury Starrunner as far as I was aware was going to be the first Crusader ship that CIG were getting out for that manufacturer. It could be a change in development and the Hercules is now first OR it could be that the Mercury is coming at the same time or even before and just yet to be shown on the Roadmap.
A Totally new feature the NPC Scheduler – The NPC Scheduler is meant to add and remove NPCs to the Game, dynamically spawning them into and out of based on NPC Archetype, determining the maximum number of NPCs in a Given area (based on a ratio of players in the area and server performance), and the probabilities of those NPC Archetypes.
NPCs will need to spawn in a ‘Spawn Locker’ for every Landing Zone, spawning in a hidden location that is impassable by a player such as an invisible barrier or more likely an air-shield or turnstile that cannot be used by players.
Shield Systems Replacement Tech is actually getting fully implemented at some point currently that appears to be 3.0 – This allows shields to use new Signed Distance Field tech which is dynamic, form-fitting visually with better effects, as well as improved performance for collision.
We have the much needed Server to Client Actor Rework this is helps better communicate actor states from the server down to clients, improving the positioning and movement of other players and NPCs on your client, with improved dead reckoning, helping to reduce perceived lag and instances of rubber-banding.
There are obviously a huge amount of other features needed for Star Citizen that are not on the Roadmap Currently, I wanted to talk about features that are likely to be falling into the PU between now and the end of 2020.
Physicalized Inventories were watered down for 3.7 to be personal commodity inventory but fully physical inventories should be evolving from that feature.
Physicalized Components & Sub Components have been worked on by CIG for a while now and it’s core to the game. Sub Components will allow for the purchase of modules that can be placed in ship systems like power plants and shield generators to affect their stats and operation and is also expected to be part of the repair mechanic. Pysicialized components is literally having all of your ships components physicalized on your ship and be individually accessible and destroyable. It’s very possible some type of by hand repair feature is also being worked on at the same time as these too.
More over to this the Physical Damage System should be seeing work currently and Making use of the physics engine to create a system that looks spectacular as well as behaves realistically when large objects such as ships are being damaged by weaponry or colliding with other ships, locations, or even planets. To make ship & vehicle combat look and feel a lot cooler.
Land Claim Gameplay was actually planned to be in game for the end of 2018 before reschedulings occured. I still think it’s reasonably high on the backlog to be completed once more SQ42 features are done.
We know that CIG are working on SSOCS /w Full Persistence that is currently roughly planned for the end of 2019 if possible BUT it’s not currently on the Roadmap and CIG have even said it might slip to 2020. Again this then allows for Static Server Meshing which CIG want to get in SC by the end of 2020.
CIG like to get a few Ships & Vehicles in each patch, I’d expect some more in 4.0 also Straight to Flyable Ships & Vehicles that don’t appear on the Roadmap like the Ballista & Arrow are likely going to be a thing from time to time… little surprises.
I think some of the ships we are likely to see are the Redeemer, Titan Suits & the Cydnus Mining Tick.
CIG have said they will be adding more Ships/vehicles beyond the 300 series in the Website Manufacturer Customization System.
There are likely going to be more Items, Weapons, Armors, Weapon Customization, clothing, commodities, even potentially more multitool attachments all being added from patch to patch too that aren’t currently being shown..
Subsumption stuff, we should have lots of evolution with the Economy and it being a lot more dynamic, Missions should start to get more variety, events and POI added to them and this should be more and more affected by what is happening in game & a players rep.
General AI features are expected at some point with AI Companions and Wingmen, having NPCs accompany you on missions.
It was also reported that Chris Roberts was coding some of the Physics Queue Refactor so we know that’s being worked on allowing More efficient physics processing and parallelization to scale to multiple threads & for hardware to be more efficient.
There are lots of engine improvements we should start to see when SQ42 gets closer to completion, things like Vulkan Support are coming and are major improvements to the game. There are various other SQ42 Features that will get absorbed into patches as they are ready for the PU.
And that’s it for Alpha 4.0 and some other features that are not currently on the Roadmap BUT kind of might be soon.