Star Citizen’s Ship Combat is supposed to be highly detailed, sim like, have a load of depth but also be balanced and fun… it’s trying to balance a lot AND it’s certainly not anywhere close to that yet. There is a bundle of features that CI need to get in the game… fortunately they appear to be the current focus.
There is a lot happening with Star Citizen’s Development currently and CIG are working toward a more finalised version of it’s flight, combat and core ship mechanics. These changes will have huge implications for the game and will really be make or break for how enjoyable combat and multi crew is in ships.
Star Citizen is currently testing Master Modes In Alpha 3.20. This separates the flight of your ship into 2 distinct main modes;
Nav Mode where you can Quantum Travel, Do quick short Quantum Boosts and Travel at Cruising Speeds (Above SCM Speeds) HOWEVER you can’t use your shields and weapons.
SCM Mode (Space Combat Maneuver) You have access to all your systems, shields and weapons BUT can’t QT or go above your SCM speed (maybe you can for short bursts using your afterburner)
This is currently being tested with just the Gladius, eventually CI will have to implement it for all ships.
Resource Management System is a collection of features and systems core to space ships and structures in Star Citizen.
At it’s most basic level it’s the circuitry of a ship/structure and the movement of resources between them for it’s functions.
Under that umbrella of Resource Management there is a ton of features tho:
Damage Control – That circuity can be disrupted and damaged.
Power can be rerouted.
There are relays that require maintenance.
This allows for Engineering Gameplay to manage power systems and fix physical damage to components & relays or swap them out.
Also general maintenance and repair.
Physical Components – It’s not just circuity that can be damaged but each individual component too. There won’t be artificial health pools for ships NOR soft deaths.
Ship states will be determined by their components and hull damage.
Projectiles will need to hit on or near a component to damage it. Take out the power plants… that ship is dead in the water. We are going to have subsystem targeting too I believe.
Artificial Gravity Generators & Life Support… These components are both being worked on currently and will add a load more depth to the game. Life Support will produce oxygen and breathable atmosphere in rooms BUT will only produce a certain amount and ships with smaller LFSs won’t be able to sustain many people before you’ll start to run out.
Gravity Generators were shown off many years ago but this is only relevant to ships with interiors, gravity can be turned off an on and you can obviously destroy or disrupt either of these components.
Fire & Extinguishing – Fire can break out on your ships due to damage or misfire / malfunction and fire will propagate based on fuel and materials. This will also consume oxygen. And there are fire extinguishers, I believe some ships will have suppression systems and if the Fire runs out of fuel or you open the room to space the fire will go out.
True Multi-Crew – All of these systems together allow for true multicrew with ships needing stations managed for monitoring, power management, engineers to repair, pilots, gunners, various ship “modes”.
We do know there is going to be a Permissions System eventually too… literally being able to designate a player OR NPC to have access to certain rooms, doors, systems on your ship so for example you can have Bob the Engineer who can have access to his quarters and the doors leading to component access at the rear of the ship and the systems there BUT dave only has access to the left gun turret and his quarters but also the medical bay.
CI pushed the Trespasser System which would allow you to more easily deal with unwanted guests to after Alpha 3.20 but that system is basically a step towards Permissions as well.
Physical Damage will have ships taking appropriate hull damage based on projectile and damage types. Ships will have their shields, armour and hull physicalized and this will affect the projectiles that are trying to hit the precious components (and characters) inside.
CI have been working on having ships break apart based on damage too.
We know this will be used for the Next Iteration of Salvage as well Munching. Blowing large sections of ships and then making that into useable resources.
There is also going to be visible signs of wear, dirt and repair on hulls.
There are going to be shield projector components that I believe are on the exterior of ships that project the shield in that face OR help with that.
Part of this will be updates to shields too. There are various Ammo Types that CI have been working on like Plasma and Incendiary.
A big part of the changes that Star Citizen is making is further refining and tuning it’s Flight Model.
CI are currently working on Control Surfaces (flaps and aerodynamic bits on ships) & Atmospheric Flight Updates to improve the way ships move and are affected by being in space vs being in different planets atmospheres.
And this will be affected by mass of the ship and it’s cargo as well as each planet having a unique atmospheric profile.
CI are working on bringing all their ships up to “Gold Standard” but what does that mean?
Getting ready for Physical Components, making sure they have the correct sized cupboards and cabinets for all that. Getting the ship to the most up to date in game tech.
Ships needed for SQ42 do take priority for this BUT hang-on does this mean that with each patch or update ships are “out of date” sort of… if there have been improvements to something and a ship isn’t up to that standard it’ll also need updating at some point.
But this should all be kind of modular additional work rather than re-works every time.
There are various other Combat Updates coming too.
CI are working on a new Targeting System.
There are Scanning & Radar Updates.
Component Variance and tons of component choice will be a thing.
Balance – Arena Commander Updates will allow for much quicker balance and an arena to test it quickly. Obviously there are PU factors that also need to be balanced as part of a ships work too. The Game should see balance much more frequently with the AC updates BUT it’s going to be a while before every other system is in place to be able to balance SC appropriately.
Customization is a massive thing in Star Citizen and Modularity will be coming in the future basically allowing for whole rooms and their functions to be changed out.
Networking Updates – Star Citizen suffers from desync and generally unoptimized net code and servers… CI are working on this.
So all of this together is the core of Star Citizen’s Flight, Combat, multi-crew and general ship mechanics. This all paired with AC updates we could actually have a fantastic competitive and compelling easily accessible ship combat game there.
The choice of ship loadouts in the PU is what I am really looking forward to tho, having real reasons to choose particular weapons or components, no one single meta… It’s always a concern that there might just be an OP ship or loadout combination BUT due to the complexity and size of the SC universe you’ll want to match systems and weapons by role and length of time you are going to be out in the verse as well as costs of running a ship and ballistics.
NPC Crews & AI blades will also be a big part of helping automate some of your ship functions they will allow you to do quite a lot and although CI are working on them, they are likely quite far out.