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Star Citizen Alpha 3.18 – This Cargo Update Will Start a Gameplay Revolution

Star Citizen… Alpha 3.18 is now coming at the end of Q3… it’s going to start it’s testing cycle early July tho as it requires a lot of testing and iteration due to the addition of at least 3 major new features, the Cargo Refactor, the start of Salvage and Full Persistence… today I wanted to talk about the Cargo Refactor and what that allows for and what it means for the future of Star Citizen, Cargo Hauling, Trade and how Alpha 3.18 is the start of a Cargo Revolution for the Game.

The actual feature listing for 3.18 for the Cargo System Refactor reads – This refactor of the ship cargo system will allow both found and purchased cargo to be picked up, moved around, and placed into the cargo grid of a ship.

This will make cargo much more physical and interactable.

Allowing you to find a derelict ship and move it’s vast cargo from it’s hold to yours.

Maybe you’ve disabled or destroyed a ship… this will allow for piracy to actually be much more of a thing as you can move cargo between ships.

Want to trade in narcotics… maybe you can do your shady deals with other players out in space where it’s “safer”.

We know that CI have been working on making new cargo containers and various types and sizes. Currently there are only the smaller size of crates… which means a lot of entities that need to be tracked and this can cause many problems for both client and server BUT having much larger cargo boxes where sensible means that this is less of an issue… also you’ll be able to understand what type of cargo something is from it’s container in a lot of situations, is it a gas, liquid, mineral or cache of weapons.

We know with Alpha 3.18 we are getting some Commodity Updates with improved

Kiosks, these will make buying and selling significantly easier.

Shop Inventories will be more readily tracked.

You’ll be able to see what a shop will and won’t buy.

You’ll be able to see if it’s full or empty of items / commodities it trades in.

We should see some tweaks to buying and selling beyond this too.

We should start to see some New Commodities at some point.

And you can expect that items will be able to be more readily stored in containers, grabbed out and sold easily in the future too. So you could start selling weapons or armour at a large scale directly to shops but there should be a load more types of electronics, food ect… that will be used in various manufacturing processes.

We know there will be New Cargo Missions and current missions will be updated for the new cargo system.

Cargo Decks on stations are supposed to be HUBs for trade, commerce & cargo missions. You can expect these to be places to get Hauling Missions.

And my assumption of cargo and hauling mission evolution is.

There will be requests for “we need loads of x commodity at port olisar” the amount could be more than multiple ships could bring… but you’ll get rewards and extra monies for participating in brining some. 

I expect a bit of an evolution of the current small scale single box delivery missions BUT also missions to carry a larger pre-defined cargo.

These cargo opportunities will most likely be based on your reputation with appropriate factions and mission givers.

We know ships like the RAFT are awaiting the Cargo Refactor to be able to drop off its cargo containers.

We know that Loading & Unloading will be a thing eventually. Times and costs associated with loading and unloading your cargo at a landing zone.

This will change the way cargo gameplay is valued and where haulers go.

Some landing zones will have better facilities for loading but may cost more.

Players will be able to potentially load and unload themselves as well.

Tho I would expect anything too in depth for 3.18 if they do include it in that update or whenever they first include it.

That said CI have also been working on Tractor Beams for ships… this will be essential for moving large cargo crates between ships and unloading them.

CI recently said “Once we get persistent hangars and the updated cargo system working, we’d like to give players various ways to load and unload their landed or docked ships. This could be via things like handheld tractor beams and vehicles like the Mule, SRV, and MPUV.”

Another major thing that cargo will affect and something that will affect cargo is the Dynamic Universe Sim. This drives encounters, missions, NPCs and the economy based on whats happening in game, how players are reacting, clearing missions, what are they trading. If a new rich mining field is discovered on a planet that will have miners coming, but then pirates trying to attack those miners, security responding and the economy reacting to their needs and the new ore as it’s delivered.

Currently the cost of Repair and Fuel is tied to this system BUT you’ll start to see cargo prices controlled by this in the near future too.

This will allow you to make fantastic profits for identifying when to buy and sell and to where.

Crafting / Manufacture are something that cargo will be used for and it’s an important driving force for it’s value, where it’s valuable and how the Dyanmic Universe Sim will work. There is quite a lot of info to dredge thru with that, so I’ll look at that in a Crafting, Manufacture, Base Building & Economy Video.

Something that will aid cargo gameplay is also part of the 3.18 patch… Full Persistence. This should make the fear of crashes and disconnecting less problematic as things like the replication layer and more network updates come online. It should make things more stable and faster. You could also leave cargo in an area potentially and collect it later.

Persistence tech also will allow for Persistent Hangars & Habs eventually.

Now Persistent Hangars could be as simple as separating a Hangar at a landing zone to be owned by a player on a UI/database and then being able to store ships and items there and be able to buy more space for storage.

Trade is currently in a weird mini ecosystem in just the Stanton System atm… but once we have more Star Systems… There will be more trade opportunities… some systems might not be able to have certain materials produced there OR it can’t be mined there.

Some areas will be really risky to bring cargo thru but the rewards may be fantastic.

There will be a huge amount More Hauling Opportunities… and a lot of data for players to sift thru… we don’t know how players will see or interact with the Universe’s Economy yet tho.

Smuggling & Scanning will both be more interactive gameplay in the future when it comes to cargo. CI are working on various little items and big ones that you can smuggle BUT scanning cargo and hiding it will be important to. But pirates may scan you to see if you are worth attacking too.

The Dangers of Pirates will be based on the dynamic universe sim and where you are / what you are doing. Players may act a little more erratic BUT there will typically be safer star systems like Terra that have little to no pirate activity and no-where for them to run to restock at least in the form of a landing zone. I am just excited by the danger and profits of that risk reward gameplay. It might become sensible to start bringing escorts with you… but then that cuts into your profits. 

Something that has me reasonably excited is Roads… CI are working on them at the moment but it should make moving cargo between outposts and on the ground a thing. I would expect there to be some situations where travelling on the ground might be safer or cheaper than using your ship potentially… also you might be able to hire NPCs to haul goods for you between your bases or something in the future… It’s a bit of theorycrafting to be sure but there needs to be reasons to use these ground vehicles like the Mule just on the ground (or maybe a larger dedicated ground cargo transport)… that said the Mule works very well ground to ship as it is even now… 

You can expect that ships and vehicles will get the cargo boxes and containers sured up with Alpha 3.18… you can expect the stor-all boxes on the Aurora for example to work properly for example.

I am looking forward to all of this gameplay and more coming together. Alpha 3.18 brings some of it and is a major milestone in Star Citizen Development BUT there is a lot more that needs to be done beyond that.