Joining BioWare’s free-to-play reboot of Command & Conquer and Piranha Games’ reboot of MechWarrior as throwbacks to ’90s PC gaming is a spiritual successor of the biggest video game franchises of the era: Star Citizen. Star Citizen is the ambitious spiritual successor to Wing Commander and is being created independently by a team lead by Chris Roberts, the man responsible for Privateer, Wing Commander, Starlancer and in part, Freelancer.
It was unveiled weeks ago and is being financed mostly through private investors, although to gauge the true scope of the project through player interested, Roberts and co. have taken to crowdsourcing, first on their own site, and more recently, through Kickstarter. With 14 days to go, Star Citizen currently sits nearly double its target goal of $500,000 and Roberts isn’t being shy about sharing his plans for the game.
After all, it was the modern era game development where community interactivity is often crucial that helped bring Roberts back into the gold. Star Citizen is based in the year 2942 and is primarily a space simulation game. This however, is not your typical single-player fighter-only game of the ’90s. Players can buy multiple ships, customize them, capture and control mid-sized capital ships with the help of other players, lead boarding parties with first-person shooter gameplay, loot, trade, explore, name trade routes, etc.
Star Citizen – watch the gameplay footage here – aims to offer all of the key single-player, multiplayer feature that PC gamers have been clamoring for from other triple-A titles in recent years, including private services, mod support, etc.
Star Citizen will take the best of all possible worlds, ranging from a permanent, persistent world similar to those found in MMOs to an offline, single player campaign like those found in the Wing Commander series. The game will include the option for private servers, like Freelancer, and will offer plenty of opportunities for players who are interested in modding the content. Unlike many games, none of these aspects is an afterthought: they all combine to form the core of the Star Citizen experience.
From the Star Citizen Kickstarter page:
- A rich universe focused on epic space adventure, trading and dogfighting in first person.
- Single Player — Offline or Online(Drop in / Drop out co-op play)
- Persistent Universe (hosted by US)
- Mod-able multiplayer (hosted by YOU)
- No Subscriptions
- No Pay to Win
From the outset, Roberts and co. have explained how important graphics are to creating a stronger sense of immersion for players in the world of Star Citizen. They describe the game’s graphics as being able to compete with the best triple-A titles it’ll launch against. Considering the earliest players will be able to jump into the cockpit is in November 2014 – two years from now – what can we expect from the visuals of the future, especially compared to current gen consoles and gaming PCs? Approximately “ten times the details of current AAA games.”
“You can’t do that much with 512MB [of RAM on a console], so that constrains a lot of your game design. If I’m building a PC game, I’m going ‘Yeah, you need 4GB on your machine.’ Of course you’re not going to get all 4GB because Windows is a hungry beast, but you’re getting a lot more than 512MB so it kinds of open up what you can do, what you can fit in memory at the same time, and it changes your level of ambition.”
“I’m looking at the high-end [hardware] today being the ‘Normal Gamer’ level in two years time. It’ll be kind of like Wing Commander used to be. If you had the extra memory, if you had the 386, it was a better experience, but you could still play it on a 286.”
“What I was showing you can’t do on a current generation console. You can do most of it on a next generation console, but I can promise you a top-end PC now is already more powerful than what a next generation console is going to be.”
Check out Roberts’ estimated PC system requirements for Star Citizen on page 2.
If you’re as excited about Star Citizen and the return of space sims as we are, then head to the Kickstarter page. Since passing its target goal, stretch goals have been added. The first of which (for $750,000) has already been hit and will add a “Class I Repair Bot” for all players. The next goal is for $1 million and reward players with RSI Idris Class Corvette and 500 bonus credits if hit. The Kickstarter is currently sitting at nearly $915,000 with 14 days left at the time of this writing. Keep in mind, this funding is in addition to the nearly $2.8 million crowdsourced on the official website.
For a more detailed list of features, Roberts hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit a few weeks back where he delved into topics ranging from community involvement (i.e.) modding to player options (i.e. owning in-game real estate). Below are some of the important highlights:
On clubs, space stations and played-owned real-estate:
Yes – you will be able to board, both in the single player Squadron 42 and also in the MP SC.
A private club is your own piece of real estate inside the SC Universe that you can set how enters – think of it like your own exclusive club that you can invite your friends to in order to hang out, plot or chat. If you’re not on the list you don’t get past the door!
There will definitely be some abandoned places – a station, a derelict wreck an abandoned mine that you could find and explore.
On the inclusion first-person shooter gameplay and where it factors in:
Most definitely. On board spaceships and other large space objects with interiors (like a space station or asteroid base)
On boarding parties:
Yes there will be boarding parties in both Squadron 42 SP game and Star Citizen’s persistent universe. You’ll be able to capture bigger ships, or perhaps an asteroid base or space station.
On voice actors coming back from Wing Commander:
If we hit some of our later stretch goals I fully intend to try and get a lot of the WC actors to do voice work for Star Citizen!
On capital ships, internal and external ship systems:
- Yes – not sure about the “Death Star” but certainly huge capital ships like the Carrier in the prototype demo
- SC is designed to have a level of detail on individual ships like not other space game done to date – each fighter has something like 100-300 parts, most of which that have individual damaged versions and can break off. Its also not just visual, losing or damaging parts affects how you fly, what systems work and so on.
- Yes. You will be able to increase or drop power to your shields depending on where you need to place your ships power output (i.e. in case you want to juice your ability maneuver or need to replenish our guns)
To clarify, every piece on a fighter serves a purpose. There are massive cannons with parts that recoil when they fire and players will notice thrusters located in spots on the front and back of ships. That means if one of thrusters were damaged, that would affect the maneuverability of that craft – and hence, the controls for the player piloting it.
Players will be able to customize components on their ships, even the decals and designs on the outside. As part of the Star Citizen modding process, player-created craft from private servers and such can even find their way into the officially supporter persistent online world through voting systems and the like.
On player-controlled capital ships:
The larger ships are designed so multiple people can crew them – one player as the pilot, one on the scanners, one on the fire control, and so on. In addition a large focus of the design is to allow players to “find” their profession – solider, merchant, pirate, explorer… So there are definitely parts of the game focused of discovery and exploration. I’ve already talked about how we’re going to let the players discover new jump points and star systems rather than us reveal them. There will be a lot more stuff like this. Being an explorer will be a fun and noble part of SC.
On in-game currency:
There is only one in game currency. You can buy some in game currency with real money, but we’re probably going to limit the amount you can buy per month.
On crafting and trading:
You’ll be able to trade all sorts of goods (as you could in Privateer, Freelancer and more recently Eve). You can also hire others to protect you or even do the runs for you
There will be some crafting in the game, but I’m not sure you will be able to craft a complete ship – maybe a special component or something
There [are] going to be lots of ways to upgrade your ship – look for some info from RSI in the near future.
Star Citizen will release for the PC in November 2014.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.