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Star Citizen’s Quantum Universe Simulation

Welcome to some more Star Citizen with a look at the Quantum Universe Simulation that will handle the dynamic economy, mission generation, NPCs and more, it’s core to Star Citizen becoming a proper MMO and we had an AMA from CI devs on the System. This is not to be confused with Quantum Travel OR Quantum Drive. They decided on Quantum for the name of the simulation because of the similarities between it and Quantum mechanics.

Quantum is the behind-the-scenes system that will allow Star Citizen devs to create and manage a realistic and dynamic universe through in-world actions by NPCs. Quantum has access to all backend services and actively manipulates game data in real-time to adjust to the needs of the star system in question.

Quantum works through observing the actions of hundreds of thousands of lightweight NPCs called Quanta. Each Quanta has its own desires, skills, jobs, and inventory, but without the overhead of things like pathfinding, animations, or even geometry. Quanta represents the rich background world of Star Citizen that the player is a part of, and Quantum will use these Quanta to create contextually appropriate NPCs or events for the player to interact with.

The system allows us to add resources and locations of interest that will spur Quanta to move about the star system, complete tasks, and affect those actions by adjusting variables (ex. resource refinery time, wages at factories). Quanta will be making the same choices as players make, choosing between jobs like mining, security, or even piracy. .Like players, Quanta will also generate mission content, such as an NPC stranded after a pirate attack who will call for your help with a service beacon.

The real magic with Quantum is that it’s not just an NPC simulator–player actions will feed back into the system to influence what kinds of jobs, trades, and actions all the Quanta choose to take. Player choices and activity are all fed back to Quantum to influence the behavior of the world real-time and make the world a living, reactive place.

With ambitions as big as Star Citizen, Quantum is the tool that will keep the development team ahead of the game and focused on balancing the universe so that it’s always full of engaging content and still internally consistent. We’re thrilled to finally be taking this step that we’ve been planning for a long time.

Quanta focuses on the chain-reactions in the economy and making logical scenarios & events manifest in the game.

Star Citizen is too vast a game for developers to keep up with all the things that players will be doing, which is why we’re building Quantum to do it for us.

Quantum will focus on whichever economies are impacting the player experience, and expand as the game expands. There is none of the Dynamic Quantum Simulation stuff in though 3.9, it will start to appear in a future patch.

NPC & Mission Generation

Will Quantum be used to generate planetary missions?

Quantum will be creating missions based on the aggregate actions of quanta. The dynamic mission system will be creating missions based on what quanta are doing and what kinds of services they need.

Will Quantum manage Fauna other than Humanoid beings and their behaviours?

The first version of Quantum is going to focus on NPCs and resource distribution to balance the multiplayer gameplay for players. When fauna becomes a more important part of Star Citizen, we will take that into account as well.

Basically, anything that is important to the economy in Star Citizen will be important to Quantum. We want to be simulating the same things that are important to players.

Will Quantum be used to generate content such as derelict ships?

Absolutely. Contextually appropriate content like this is exactly what Quantum aims to achieve. Get away from hand-placed content and make the game dynamically spawn content where it’s most appropriate at that moment.

Will quantum be used to populate prisons?

This is exactly the kind of thing that Quantum was made to handle. The population of prisons should be the result of the amount of crime, security, and arrests in the system.

Quantum is a full, real simulation that records events exactly like this. Having static numbers of prisoners that never change is what we’re getting around by employing a simulation that can contextualize things like “how many prisoners should be in this prison?”

Can the system create new companies or NPC organizations dynamically?

We could, but for the first iteration we’re going to use organizations as a constant. Economy balance is the primary focus of this first iteration of Quantum.

How Will the Quanta physicalize NPC’s?

Quanta don’t represent the actual NPCs that you’ll interact with–most of the time. Only when a player triggers the probabilistic chance to encounter an NPC given the density of Quanta in an area will an NPC be spawned for the player to see and interact with. Up until that point, the Quanta only add to the aggregate behavior informing Probability Volumes.

Things that actually bring Quanta into existence are things like spawning Service Beacons, attacking players, answering calls from players, etc. (AND NPC SPAWN LOCKERS / SCHEDULER)

Will Quanta have set Roles/Jobs?

Their goal is not to dictate a role for Quanta, but rather behavior patterns. If piracy isn’t profitable, then even the most amoral Quanta might pick up a straight-laced manufacturing job.

Players don’t see themselves this way, either. They change and adapt based on what they are capable of doing and what they want to do. We’re not aiming to make action-defined AI, we’re aiming to create behavior patterns and then see what they do.

Do NPC and economic nodes have different strategies and behaviors?

Quanta have different profiles that define their behaviors and opportunities. The economic nodes strategies are directly influenced by its environment and the resources available.

To be clear, though, NPCs that you see in the game are not governed by Quantum. By the time an NPC is instantiated it’s behavior is governed by its local AI.

Until they actually trigger the chance of interacting with a player, they are just a virtual entity running similar logic decisions to a player.

Each quanta has a risk profile that is used to modulate the perceived value of an job. Mission length is also considered through the fact that the value of a job is an amount per period of time, for example the UEC/hour.

Quantas will have access to different ships and the ships characteristics will have a direct impact on the job values for the Quanta. For instance ship speed, cargo space, ship protections, are all elements that have direct influence. Of course, a Quanta risk profile will have a great influence on the Quanta’s type of ship.

Will this open the door for NPC crews?

NPC crews are under the purview of AI behavior, and is too heavyweight for the kinds of things that Quantum aims to handle. Quantum will only be accounting for the end result of these NPC actions. It won’t account for details that the player will see when NPCs are on their ship, but it will account for things like “How good of a pilot is this NPC?” and use that to determine the results of simulation interactions.


How will the resources in asteroid fields and planets be managed by Quantum?

Both Chris Roberts and Tony Zurovec want resources that will eventually deplete from the universe so the PU is always moving. Quantum will know about where resources are and track the concentration of these goods in the universe.

We have plans to be able to adjust these resources through Quantum based on the activity of Star Citizen, but our ultimate plan is to not directly affect things in “god mode” like this. Quantum should be influencing the behaviors of Quanta and economic activity, not spontaneously generating resources from the god seat. We’re not at this point yet, but that’s part of our ultimate goal.

Will the Economic Displays around Landing Zones present live info from Quantum?

We’re actually spending a lot of effort visualizing the massive amount of data that Quantum generates. Its no small task, Martin has been working on visualizing this data in many ways to identify oddities and trends in the way that the economy moves.

This information would be entirely possible to show up on in-game screens in TDDs, but we have no plans to do that, yet. Right now we’re focused on interactivity with players.

Will items prices be systemic?

Ywa! The whole idea behind Quantum is to simulate a full-scale economy to make it as credible and balanced as possible. When the Quanta interacts with the various shops, factories, refineries, they systematically negotiate prices. We use price discovery algorithms, similar the the ones used for real-world economy, to help discover these prices.

They will use the system to work out and balance rewards for missions and targets for how much players can be earning in UEC each hour.

Will factory nodes on planets be physical locations in the PU?

For now, factories, refineries, and manufacturing nodes are all virtual entities that exist to spur traffic in the economic simulation and eventually generate service beacons. In the long-term, we hope to link as many things that happen in Quantum as possible to the actual, player-facing game.

Will quantum also simulate the economy of Banu, Xian & Vanduul?

They are focusing on UEE economy to start.

Our primary focus is on things that players can currently interact with. Once alien economies take a more active role in the economics of Star Citizen, we will look into incorporating the effects that they have on the economy.

Will Quanta pirates have to find a place to sell their stolen cargo?

Quantum aims to be an accurate simulation where we simulate what the actual interactions would be if they were players in the game.

Pirates have to make a living, too! Stolen goods will have to be offloaded and sold to some of the shadier merchants willing to look the other way. These shady merchants take the risk of being apprehended by the law for trading in stolen goods, so these goods will end up being cheaper.

Will Quantum be able to see all meshed servers simultaneously?

Backend services like the Shopping Service and the Probability Volume Service already take into account activity across all servers. Quantum will interface with those services and the entirety of economic activity from players through analytic events.

Is there any tech needed before implementing Quanta like ICache or Server meshing? 

There are always compromises that we can make to get a majority of the benefit before all of the necessary tech is in place, and we plan to do that as much as possible so players can begin to feel the benefit of the dynamic simulation. Server meshing and ICache will definitely help this process, but our tech requirements are more on being able to read and write to other existing services already, like the Shopping Service, the Probability Volume service, and a new Dynamic Mission Service.