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The Star Citizen Dynamic Universe Starts In Alpha 3.16

A Major part of Star Citizen is it’s planned Dynamic Universe System – Quantum and the Economy, Events, Missions and general gameplay that all brings. We have had a load of juicy information from Tony Zurovec and CI on these systems, their future and some of what we can expect real soon… we are going to be talking about JumpTown v2, Quantum Updates for later this year, selling items, physical cargo, reputation and future missions all content that is planned to be in our hands over the next several quarters. This is a summary of the Systemic Gameplay Panel from CitizenCon 2021.

There are some updates coming with Alpha 3.16 and the Quantum or Dynamic Universe Simulation. The initial release of this will have quantum being able to dictate 3 encounter frequencies, the prices of 3 commodities and everything related to combat assist service beacons. This will expand out in future releases a lot more BUT it needs to be tested here.

Probability Volumes dictate the likelihood of a particular encounter and what you encounter in a certain area. This over time will see the chance of pirate attack for example change based on what’s happening in game and different per area. Lots of players mining ore on a moon… pirates will start being more likely to appear on those travelled routes. In turn Security will start to try and deal with the pirates in that area (tho it will be a lagged response)… you may then see an encounter with you getting scanned by security OR happen upon a fight between pirates, miners and security.

Over time the risk for the pirates and profit to be made from attacking the miners may not be worth it and you’ll see them drop off in that area.

Combat Service Beacons will now take this data into account. When pirates start attacking, NPCs will start putting out beacons for players to take.

Players successfully completing these missions will also make the pirates perceived risk increase… so lots of players doing that will cause the pirates to retreat or at least see less pirates willing to attack miners here.

But each of these missions will be customized based on all of the information about what’s going on in that area.

Fuel and Repair Prices are becoming Dynamic.

HPMC is the raw material used for ship repairs.

Plasma Fuel is used for conventional travel.

Quantum Fuel is used for long range jumps.

Again based on the earlier examples, you have more conflict the price of HPMC will go up.

Have a hotspot of mining on a planet Plasma Fuel prices might rise as they search and scan planets/moons for what they are looking for.

Quantum Fuel might be largely unaffected UNLESS large scale haulers are involved and moving lots of the ore from one area to another long distance OR there is a lot of activity from many small ships.

You might see short term shortages and high prices for these goods if there is sudden activity UNTIL the economy rebalances by having more fuel and HPMC shipped in by players and NPCs.

They can also have Systemic Triggers that can start events and help stimulate the economy and friction. JumpTown v2 will be triggered like this. For example they can have it so once a certain amount of drugs are bought at a location the event triggers. 

It looks like a lot of this is on track for being part of Alpha 3.16… and although it’s limited in scope compared to it’s final goal, ITS STILL MASSIVE.

Let’s Move onto some other major gameplay systems:

They plan to have more in depth Selling in game by the end of the year.

Allowing you to sell Weapons, Gear, Armor and Eventually Ships and vehicles back to shops. This combined with loot generation means there is much more reason to ransack bodies and open lockers.

This also helps gives players a better ladder to climb, sell your old ship to buy your next one.

Each individual component or weapon mod will also be sellable, it sounds like you will be able to just sell a weapon with all mods on it too and it will work out how much you get.

Different shops will pay different prices for items… just like commodities… want the best possible price, go to a specialist for the items in question… it was suggest it was the difference between 80% to 40% of the original value of the item.

They want players to be invested in their starting / home location which you’ll choose in 3.15… in the future Persistent Hangars and Habs will allow players to move or have multiple homes. You now have a limited inventory and have to really pick what you bring with you and on your ship, you can use the NikNax App to find where your items and ships are.

The PMA has been replaced with a drag and drop inventory.

Part of Localized Inventory means that you can only customize ships that are at your location. 

More Robust Player Trading is something they want to add, as is the ability to share locational data, putting waypoints down… as well as a more indepth starmap experience in general.

Physical Cargo is being developed now and will be released in stages.

The first of these is having cargo be fully interactable and lootable, rather than just being represented in game… this allows for boarding and piracy and that cargo to be taken.

In the future ships are much more likely to be disabled rather than blow up (which would probably only happen if there is a critical failure of a system).

They talked about the Hull-C. The physical cargo that can be equipped on the ship was a performance concern… as there are so many potential entities also, you’ll need to tractor beam or move massive shipping containers onto and off the ship too with specialist facilities or the Argo SRV.

When you purchase cargo in the future the plan is to have that placed in a physical space that you then need to move onto your ship. You could pay NPCs to do it if they are available there OR do it yourself. But there is time and cost associated with loading/unloading cargo which they plan to help shape the economy. Only certain facilities are going to be able to move vast quantities of certain goods. Some will not be appropriate for large or small scale hauling.

They don’t want players to buy out all of the inventory of a mom and pop shop and then fly it nearby and make a profit (because they could buy it instantly and there were no loading times), they want it to be more in depth, dynamic and a bit more realistic with some time investment.

They want cargo to players to actively want to take cargo they find from a derelict or prey and both enjoy cargo hauling, looting as well as profit from it.

Pirates will not want to blow up ships as they want the tasty loots.

They want there to be a interesting transition of Ship to FPS gameplay. 

This also has repelling of boarding parties, fighting or negotiating with the parties.

They want a separation of distribution of goods and hauling, super tankers bring massive quantities to a space station, lots of smaller haulers take some of that or the refined goods to more specialist facilities and then those goods may be taken buy cargo ships big and small to the shops that will sell them, minimum orders for certain facilities may be a thing and smaller retailers might not have a huge amount of stock BUT there will be hauling opportunities big and small that make sense. Also they want trade routes to form from these systems, that pirates and players will exploit.

Reputation is incredibly important as a mechanic as Star Citizen doesn’t have an XP or Levelling system, this is going to be one of the main ways you progress, get more difficult/interesting missions, and gain access to new areas and equipment… 

Adding new missions into the rep system takes time and they want to make all of this more systemic and dynamic… eventually being able to build lots of variants of missions (with a moddable template) without having to build out a massive amount of time consuming content individually. 

The system needs to work out how much you should be paid for the mission, your rep, what you are likely to encounter, how dangerous is the area, different ways of completing the objective and many other factors to make sure you have appropriate difficulty and reward.

If you have a good rep with an org and a good success rate you might get offered extremely hard but lucrative missions.

One of the tasks they have for next year is to refactor the entire mission interface into the new building block tech, they want to build a new UI to show a lot more information to the player regarding rep… reputation is a set of big tasks and will be a while before fully complete but we should see more in game next year with rep progression and perks as well as hostile vs friendly factions. Build a rep with pirates you can get into GrimHex no problem, work with security… they are all going to shoot you. This is going to be very important in Pyro as there are multiple factions at war that you can help or fight.

In the Ninetails Mission as a lawful player you help scan down the ninetails fleet and then assault it… trying to make them retreat. As a Ninetails member you are hunting the scanning ships and then defend the Ninetails fleet, protect them long enough they complete their mystery objective, win and then leave… asumidly it’s to extract some data. Originally this was supposed to be a mainly PvE event BUT they introduced PvP as this means they actually would need to spawn fewer NPC ships and they could start to have factional warfare and players choosing sides BUT it was a duct tape / bodged short term solution until they have the better rep systems.

3.15 is going to see improvements to the NineTails Missions… they are adding shop modifiers so you can trade and make profit delivering medical supplies as part of these missions more easily and they are going to reward the Ninetails players even more… as it was very risky and not worth the low chance of survival / completion… hopefully getting players to get involved on that side more. There are lots more improvements coming beyond that in the future including performance improvements.

JumpTown V2 is being worked on. They want it to be relatively simple. It will be a dynamic event that spawns boxes at different outposts / ground locations that are very valuable, over a short period of time. This will entice players to try to lockdown the area, hold it and extract the goods. Longer term this sort of event will be available at many more areas.

The location, goods and amount of them that spawn in the intervals can vary.

In the future these events and many more, will be triggered by player actions RATHER than just based on a switch or timer like they are now. Also some of these events could be hours or days in length and NPCs may be part of these missions too, defending them or actively participating. The goal is to always have some cool events happening whenever you log on.

In the short term spawn lockers allowing for the Spawning NPCs when needed at locations and then Pyro will really see a great test bed for all this content.

The XenoThreat Event started work in March 2020 and took just under a year to get it out in its first iteration. It was used as a test bed for blended missions, large scale fleet battles, how the game plays with current mechanics. They revised a 2nd version of the event after having some issues with the first, with things like friendly fire being extremely unforgiving, performance issues and pace. It sounds like we will actually see the XenoThreat even again in the future with some PvP available and even more improvements.

Infiltrator, Defend and Assault Missions have started to be implemented in 3.15.

NPCs can spawn at locations, you can work with friendly AI to repel attacks, there are bosses to deal with. This is all made possible with Spawn Closets (basically rooms and barriers where NPCs can spawn).

Rescue Transport is another mission set they are working on… getting an NPC from a stranded or dangerous situation to a safe location.

In the future this will also evolve into saving NPCs that require medical attention and transport to a hospital. 

They have a working prototype for these rescue and escort missions and there will be ratings and better payouts for doing well in these missions… but you can also choose to kidnap them.

They can merge parts of these missions together to have you rescue a prisoner from an UGB while being chased.
Boom that’s it for the Summary of Systemic Gameplay… I had to watch the panel twice… so that was over 3 hours of Tony… There is a lot to look forward to for Alpha 3.16 and beyond… these features really push Star Citizen towards being much more of an MMO as we more readily affect each others gameplay… tho obviously server meshing and more players is massively important too