Star Citizen, we have had the first major Roadmap Update of 2020 and I wanted to look at what’s happened with the 3.9 Update that we are planned to have LIVE Q1 2020 or by the end of March as there has been some major features moved to 4.0 or displaced from the Roadmap. We will look at what’s been moved off 3.9 and then what’s new with the patch and what features are now planned for it.
Ship & FPS Weapons have all moved out to 4.0 as have New Death Animations, AI FPS Weapon Types which was basically loadout for NPCs and AI Cover Usage v1. That’s all in 4.0 now, and that seems ok.
However, some features have been temporarily removed from the Roadmap as they won’t be in 3.9 and they don’t know where they will land yet OR it’s in 4.1 or 4.2 and they aren’t displaying that yet.
So items removed and not yet rescheduled for 3.9 are the New Kiosks, Grenade Launcher, NPC Improvements for Civilian & Social AI, the Cutlass Blue & Door System Improvements.
Also more disappointingly Multi-Crew Gameplay improvements have also moved off the Roadmap BUT it is believe a focus for 2020 and the old multicrew features did not reflect the current goals and scope of what they wanted to do. That’s more of a case of they are working on it BUT it’s not ready yet.
What has unfortunately been removed from 3.9 and the current roadmap is the Dynamic Economy & Mission Gameplay including Commodity Transfer Timers (that would of had cargo loading and unloading times and costs), Accounting App (which would track all your financial data and was expected to be needed for wallet to wallet transactions), Economy Display Terminals with realtime info & the Dynamic Mission System: Economy Generated Missions & QT Events. This is a big blow to me as this was probably my most wanted feature for the game.
There has however been additions to 3.9s Roadmap as well so what’s in Alpha 3.9 now?
Expanded Law System & Prison Gameplay
When you have an appropriate crime rating and you die or surrender within range of security forces or bounty hunters you will then spawn at a prison.
In order to allow players to be arrested without losing their life, you can surrender by coming to a halt and powering down their ships when ordered to by security. Security will halt their attack and arrest criminal players aboard the ship, impounding the ship if owned by a criminal.
The Prison Players will spawn at will be Klesher Automated Prison on Aberdeen (a moon of Hurston) The Prison is Owned and operated by Klescher Rehabilitation Facilities, a private corrections provider, this fully automated corrections site includes housing, security, and work release opportunities to allow prisoners to be productive while paying their debt to society.
There is Prison Uniforms & Clothing such as Orange Flight Suits.
There are Prison focused Missions, some that have been discussed are breaking someone out of a prison, breaking out yourself BUT could also include taking supplies to a prison or hunting down escapees.
The Prison Gameplay loop is reasonably in depth, Prisoners have a debt of Merits they must pay off to be released from Prison, this is based on their criminal record. Prisoners earn Merits over time from being logged on in a prison AND players at least at somepoint will be able to trade and give merits to other players.
You can also earn Merits from mining below the Klesher Facility, you’ll have access to a mining tool and flight suit though Aberdeen does not have a breathable atmosphere so you will need to keep you oxygen juiced up, there will be areas to do that in the mines.
The facility is unmanned but you can use merits to buy/rent things like better equipment and oxy-pens to keep you mining longer and deeper in the mines to potentially make more merits even faster. CIG recently showed off some shanks/shivs as well which I expect will turn up here. Die in Prison and you die in real life.. No actually you spawn back in prison.
You can also escape Prison potentially via these mines BUT you have limited oxygen and the mines are built to deplete your oxygen as well.
The Prison will have automated defenses too so bare that in mind.
They are expanding out Bounty Hunter Gameplay as well, to help hunt criminals and bring them to justice, their is new Bounty Hunter Armors & Gear
Bounty Mission Improvements allowing hunted NPCs to use quantum travel to evade the player. Additions to expand gameplay to allow players to hunt other players with bounties on their heads. I believe you’ll be able to scan players at some point as well and engage them if they are commiting a crime for a reward, this might be part of that.
The Internals & Traversable zones of New Babbage – Enclosed to protect the inhabitants against the freezing elements, New Babbage is a major social and economic trading hub on microTech. Although it features microTech’s flagship store, the landing zone is also a haven for smaller tech companies. We’re see a Space Port – Transit System – New Babbage Main Area with Shops with new clothing and armor suitable for the zone, there is an interactive hologram & a new Mission Giver Eddie Parr, expect new missions potentially similar to the multipart Mission from the CitizenCon Demo. microTech as well should be hooked up to the procedural mission system properly.
They are also Refactoring Restricted areas to make them easier to setup and use. This will include landing splines, allowing ATC to open up paths for players to enter the restricted area and fly to a landing pad with guidance. These areas will become more natural and won’t require obtrusive materials to show their presence.
They are adding the 3 New Moons around microTech – Calliope, Euterpe & Clio
One of the moons is largely Ocean, another largely Frozen Ocean and these will be a good test of the Planetary v4 tech at large scale for these Biomes.
These moons will have outposts and gameplay linked up to them for 3.9.
Talking of Planetary Tech they have :
Large-Scale Shadow Improvements to allow multiple large-scale shadow maps as opposed to the single large-scale map they currently use. Includes support for large-scale shadows to be dynamic for use on capital ships but should make giant shadows from geometry look good too!
They are improving Weather Systems with character animations that reflect the weather a player is in, covering their face when there is a snowstorm blowing into your eyes for example and slowing a players movement.
These Weather Systems should have more of an in game affect as well with the Player Status System v1 – which adds temperature, thirst and hunger to it’s tracked stats.
These values will have knock-on effects for player stamina and ability. AI behaviors will use this system to make intelligent decisions based on their own condition or the condition of others.
You’ll be able to equip appropriate gear to your environment, eat and drink.
They are improving the interaction system that lets the player select dialogue options, interact with props in the environment, and generally interact with the game. Some of the tasks included in this work will include providing player feedback for when items can’t be used, adjusting UI elements to scale/place correctly with geometry, and bind commonly used actions to hotkeys.
Now a couple of Features targeted at Improving Combat and the Flight Model.
A New Targeting Methodology with Fundamental changes to how targets are tracked on and off your screen with UI updates to improve the visibility of locked, tracked and the return of pinned targets. We know that CIG are putting in a lot of effort to get HUD, MFDs and UIs in game in a more final state.
There is also High Speed Combat Changes which will have Ship systems will suffer consequences of traveling at high speed, restricting some of the options that players will have at maximum velocity creating a vulnerability that will push players into engagement at lower speeds. I wouldn’t expect to get damaged at high speed for no reason BUT maybe your shields will be less effective OR you’ll generate loads more heat OR maybe you won’t be able to Spool/Calibrate your Quantum Drive at High Speed.
The Esperia Tevarin Prowler – This is a stealth versatile drop ship with special air shields allowing the ship to be pressurized while also allowing quick access in and out for the Marines on board, it has a focus on EVA deployment and is the first Tevarin Ship we will have in game. The ship was supposed to be in 3.8s branch BUT should still make it’s March Deadline technically as part of 3.9.
The m50 is getting a reworked base model this will include improvements to landing gear compression and updating the cockpit UI metrics to improve pilot experience.
I would expect that there may be a straight to flyable ships or vehicles here as well.
There is some pretty big Ship AI Improvements
3D Navigation – Collision Avoidance – the system to correctly handle collision avoidance between moving entities. The idea is to provide a system that can allow AI entities to reciprocally avoid each other while at the same time avoid collisions with the environment. The system considers the projection in time of the position of the agents, their size and their target velocity and provides a steering command that is as close as possible to the original intention of each agent.
There is also 3D Pathfinding – Planet Side – to allow AI controlled Ships to navigate in atmosphere using information from physics and the planetary tech. The path search will use data from the elevation map of the planet and the physical information about the additional object present in the map (buildings, rocks and so on) to return an obstacle free path. This will be built on top of the current new approach for the 3D Pathfinding that will allow an entity to not only find a path in space, but building over time to optimize calculation and scale using all the engine functionalities as streaming.
Further to all this there has been a lot of datamined info with new missions, variants to current ones, new commodities, new narcotics and smuggling goods.
So the 3.9 Roadmap Update is a bit of a mixed bag for me… the loss of the Economy & Dynamic Mission Features off the Mid Term Roadmap is a massive shame. We know that CIG are focusing on Sq42 Episode 1 so hopefully that will pay dividends in the future once they have completed many of it’s tasks and brought those features into the PU.
They also seem to be trying to improve PvP & Ship Combat Generally in 3.9 BUT I don’t really know if what they have planned is going to be good or not until it’s in my hands or I’ve seen some examples.