Wing Commander Creator Returns With Ambitious Project
Having somewhat recovered from the initial announcement, we now have a big fat roundup of all the information from yesterday’s reveal from Wing Commander creator Chris Roberts. As we already know, the game from new development studio Cloud Imperium will be called Star Citizen, and will comprise of both a single player campaign and a persistent online component, but during his presentation at GDC Online Roberts went into much more detail about what we can expect to see from the Space Combat Sim. We have all of the details, including a few more screenshots, after the jump, but here is the trailer once again in all its shiny glory.
Something For Everyone
Star Citizen will be split into two parts, one being online and the other being (optionally) offline. Let’s cover the single player aspect first, called Squadron 42. A traditional, multi-pathed single player experience similar to Wing Commander, Squadron 42 will tell the story of an elite group of pilots akin to the Foreign French Legion. Each campaign will act as a Tour of Duty, after which players can return to the online portion having worked towards something called citizenship (more on that later.) Whilst players will be able to play the campaign offline, a co-op component where friends can jump in to act as wingmen will also be possible. Roberts promises that new campaigns will be delivered at a regular pace through micro content updates, evolving the story as it goes.
The multiplayer portion of Star Citizen will feature a persistent online experience where hundreds of players will be able to join up together to fight, trade, or pillage the stars, providing the player with the option of doing whatever and going wherever they please. Dynamic markets will allow players to be merchants should they wish, with core worlds such as Earth providing safe haven for players (at a monetary cost through taxes.) Those looking to avoid the grip of the governing body can go off into the stars to find new worlds, and even discover new jump points.
Players will even get a chance to get involved with the lore of the game. A rather exciting example of this was explained by Roberts; if a player finds a new jump point and successfully navigates it (a throwback to Roberts’ Wing Commander film) the jump point in question will be named after the player. Roberts also confirmed that, much like Freelancer, players will be able to set up their own private servers on which they will be able to forge their own galactic adventures, with modding options available.
While players will be mainly flying state of the art combat fighters in the story campaign, they will be able to own and pilot anything from small craft to giant capital ships in the online portion. Want something in-between as a smuggling vessel? Those are in there too (the words “millennium” and “falcon” were thrown in as an example of what you could do with it.) Players will also be able to affect the universe around them, with a content team adding new missions and star systems on a bi-weekly basis. Roberts compared this team to a GM from an old school D&D game, which would adapt the galaxy to the player’s actions.
The backstory of Star Citizen will be influenced by the fall of the Roman Empire, with Earth’s oppressive government finally getting its comeuppance after centuries of bending the various systems to its will (the timeline on the official website tells of atrocities through terraforming, civilian unrest, and mysterious enemies beyond known space.) As previously mentioned, in this universe players could work towards citizenship by doing the single player campaign or working with government factions whilst online. Roberts explained that the aim of this is to create a sort of class system in the game, forcibly causing conflict between players, although those that wished to ignore citizenship all together would be able to do so, living free but hard virtual lives in virtual space.
All About The PC
Roberts was very adamant to point out that this would be a PC exclusive, boldly stating that there had been a lack of true innovation on the platform for a number of years. With the technology finally at a point where he could push new boundaries, he felt it was the right time to return to the genre he helped to define. To do this, Roberts hopes to not only push modern PCs to their limits to provide “high quality cutting edge visuals,” but to also allow “PC gamers to stand up, be counted and get excited again about all the great experiences their computer can deliver.”
It should come as no surprise then that the game engine being used is a modified version of the CryEngine3.
With a strong focus on immersion (a word he used several times in the presentation) Roberts plan to use the raw power of modern PCs to deliever an experience like no other. Demonstrated on-stage, Roberts walked through the carrier in first person (later switching to third person just to show that he could) before climbing into a highly-detailed cockpit of a fighter and launching into space. While he was quick to remind everyone that this was still a prototype build, the amount of detail on the “silly things” such as pipes moving on turrets is staggering, even at this early stage. There was also mention of being players being able to wave from the windows of capital ships to passers-by.
Let’s just hope that mooning isn’t an available emote, otherwise “Space Mooning” is going to be a thing.
When questioned on how the online infostructure would be able to cope with hundreds of players, Roberts briefly explained that the system would essentially create temporary instances similar to Battlefield or World Of Tanks if the flight path of two ships were to cross, lasting until the encounter was resolved (peacefully or otherwise.) As far as combat goes, players will also be able to pull off “crazy manoeuvres” during dogfights by switching off manually controlling the various components of the ship (all of which can also take individual damage.)
So, to the financial side of things; how much will Star Citizen cost, and will the online component require a subscription? Thankfully it was confirmed that a Buy-To-Play model similar to Guild Wars 2 would be used for the game, although micotransactions will also be available. Roberts went on to confirm that development up until this point had been financed by private parties, but a crowd-funding initiative was now in place to provide those in the community a way to show their support at this early stage. Ranging from small donations to sums up to the thousands, various rewards are available for donators, including titles, citizenship cards, and various in-game vessels. You can get involved by heading over to the Roberts Space Industries website here.
So what about peripherals? There was no mention of joysticks or any other controls, but it was interesting to see that the action was being controlled from a gamepad. We can only hope that, considering the level of immersion Roberts hopes to achieve, that Cloud Imperium are at least looking into Oculus Rift support. Mmmmm, Rift. Finally, we know that donators will gain access to the alpha and beta versions of the game, but the finished product is some ways away; 2014 to be exact.
That’s the skinny of what we know for now. At the time of writing, the main website is currently down after being overwhelmed by visitors, but a backup is currently in place to take crowd-funding donations. We’ll be sure to update you when the website is back to full strength.
So, what say you? Is this what you expected from the reveal? Will this manage to appease both Wing Commander and Freelancer fans? Are the graphics the most delicious thing we’ve seen in some time? My personal answer to all of these is yes, but we here at Dealspwn want to know what YOU think about Star Citizen. Get involved in the comments below!