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Star Citizen 2020 – Let’s Get Physicalized

Star Citizen 2020 looks like it’s going to implement some incredibly important mechanics and core tech to the Persistent Universe and today I wanted to talk about the Physical Tri-factor of Physicalized Components, Physical Damage and Physical Inventory and what this brings to the game.

I talked to various Devs at CitizenCon and the feeling was that this was all planned for implementation in 2020 at least in some form, they are all systems that they have been working on and are currently in production.

Physicalized Components – Currently we have ship customization in game BUT components are effectively artificial, you can add and change them BUT they are not interactable with on your ship, they can’t be detached. Also ships currently have health pools once the ship or a core section of the ship is destroyed then the ship is also destroyed and kills the crew with a kill box.

Physicalized Components means that the components in a ship like the shield generator is it’s own item that is hooked up to the ship and interacts with other systems on board BUT they are also items that are moveable and exist in their own right. Allowing you to replace smaller ones by hand and individually damage those components with greater effect on a ship. Ships won’t have artificial health pools, it will be the direct damage to the hull and components on board that will be important. Destroying a ships engines will leave a ship crippled, destroying a powerplant a ship will be disabled. Damage to these items will impede function and cause more misfires like now BUT also this allows for much more of a range of interaction with ships, environment and damage types.

It will also allow for a much greater range of items and components and the way they are handled in game, you’ll eventually see thruster sets changeable, armor plating.

This is also a prerequisite for Hand Repair mechanics & subcomponents.

Hand Repair’s first implementation should be with the multitool and appropriate attachment. Allowing you to repair wear and damage to a ship component or replace the entire component.

SubComponents – are another thing we need physicalized components for and something that CIG have been working on. This gives certain items be they mining lasers or shield generators an amount of sub item slots, this is based on the size, type and manufacturer of the component. These sub items can be used to affect an items stats further with bonuses and downsides. There is a class of consumable item that may fit in some of these slots too.

So the 2nd major thing I wanted to talk about is the Physical Damage System – This is incredibly important to physicalized components as well.

This has projectiles and weapon damage effect the shields, armor, hull, and components of a ship differently based on it’s type and actually where the ship is struck.

A ballistic round might partially penetrate a shield and then be stopped by ship armor or harmlessly pass through the hull of a ship as it doesn’t hit a component. You might hit multiple components.

Different damage types will damage shields or armor more or do additional status effects.

This should see emp and distortion weapons much more appropriately implemented.

They are also tying this in with a general physics rework – using 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. 

With Physicalized Damage and Components together: 

You’ll start to see armor and shields make a real difference in combat, your choice of components & weapons will be incredibly important as will be what systems you target, some battles with larger ships may be about attrition and disabling shields, power and thrusters over a long period of time.

It will allow the flight & combat mechanics to be balanced much more as intended, which I think is one of the most important things to get in and working at this stage. 

Deeper repair mechanics should make use of these systems and Hulls may well be treated as a component that can also be repaired as well.

Also these systems will affect FPS armor and equipment too, we will see different ammo types, environmental damage, armor to protect against different weapons and environments and damage can potentially disable and damage suit/armor systems as well. 

Physical Inventory & Storage – Star Citizen has a Personal Commodity Inventory which storage harvestables and hand mineables that players pick up. Your armor affects the amount you can carry and there are even armors with backpacks allowing you to carry a lot, this is a step towards a proper inventory system. The Personally Commodity system will likely be replaced or evolve into what you can hold in your backpack and pockets.

Currently however we carry everything in a magic bag of holding and can switch it at will, but in the future you will only have what you are physically carrying in your hands, are wearing, attached to your character or is in your pockets / backpack.

This Physical inventory won’t be massive either, it will be rather restrictive.

Armor & Clothing will have Attachment Points and Pockets allowing certain items to be placed there, we will have backpacks and item holders as well BUT you can’t store a rocket launcher in your pocket. 

With this system you won’t be able to haul around a dozen guns and all your environmental protection armour. This will instead be Stored on Ships & in Habs.

Your may have weapon and armor racks or lockers for storage, you’d need to change into the armor here or carry it around in your hands. One of the other things that CIG want to do is encourage players to wear clothing rather than constantly in their combat gear.

When Shopping you’ll have the choice of Carrying the item out of the store or having it sent it to ship or storage location.

This has connections to physicalized Habs, rentable Storage, the dynamic economy, it allows for Looting Players and NPCs.

Really we need full persistence in before we get physical inventories as this then tracks more appropriately where items are in the new iCache System.

These are some of the most important next steps for Star Citizen. Allowing for much deeper gameplay and a lot of the systems in the game that are placeholder or are awaiting these mechanics to get into a much better place, hopefully anyway. We need ship combat to be able to have these systems to be in a good place or at least remove the blocker preventing them being able to be balanced correctly.