Star Citizen’s Fleet System Gets Video’d, Detail-ified

By Nathan Grayson on November 13th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

Fleet, remember that bringing down this ship is only our secondary objective. The primary goal is to look really, really cool in the process.

Did you know that you can command your own fleet in Star Citizen? I suppose that shouldn’t really surprise you, given that you can also do everything else ever in the history/future of space in Star Citizen. Unsurprisingly, Roberts is shooting for the stars with this aspect of the space sim to end all space sims (and/or trigger a flood of other space sims) as well, with phrases like “most sophisticated AI that I’ve attempted on any of my games” drawing widened eyeballs. As ever, though, footage of Roberts’ grand schemes in action makes a decently convincing case for cautious optimism. Do some kind of physics-defying space flip past the break to give it a watch.

Roberts’ aim, meanwhile, is to iterate upon ideas present in his previous games, but with More Betterness (TM).

“The Squadron 42 / Star Citizen pilot AI will be the most sophisticated AI that I’ve attempted on any of my games. My goal is to take the ideas that I pioneered with Wing Commander and later games; distinct personalities, dynamic learning, signature moves to next level with the power of modern CPUs.”

“The laser effects, explosions are all placeholders and there will be significant work done here, as well as some very cool shield effects I have cooking up in the background. My goal with the visual effects is to use a lot the techniques and looks used in film work, which are now possible with DX11 and modern day PCs.”

He also notes that all dogfighting in the video is AI-driven – not pre-scripted. And I’m inclined to believe him, given that the demo I saw at GDC Online already had rudimentary (though hardly mind-blowing) AI in place.

Star Citizen, then, is in kind of a weird spot. It’s still so wildly ambitious that it’s tough to not doubt it, but among crowd-funded games, it’s actually done a pretty solid job of giving us concrete reasons to be confident that it’ll ultimately deliver. In less than a week, Roberts and co will be jettisoned back into the mysterious reaches of more traditional game development. Here’s hoping they put the spoils of this exceedingly successful raid on our wallets to good use.

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62 Comments »

  1. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Everything else ever?

    I shall immediately set my sights on opening the galaxy’s first off-planet Hooters-brand eating experience.

    • c-Row says:

      That’s the breast idea I have heard in quite a while.

    • Adriaan says:

      I can imagine this would titillate many a player’s fancy.

    • Orija says:

      Such a venture is sure to net you jugs full of money.

    • Bhazor says:

      Y’know, I’m fine with women choosing to work in strip clubs, porn and even prostitution. But hooters just seems skeezy to me somehow. I can’t really describe it.

    • Stochastic says:

      Mammary puns are cleaving new ground in RPS pun history.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Areola you as excited as me about how great the crowdfunding is going for this game? $3.4M. Yikes.

      • Bhazor says:

        Looks like it’ll bump past the Eternity kickstarter. Which is honestly surprising to me. Honestly thought Chris Avellone et al would have more pull than the Wing Commander guy.

        To be fair though this has been a much better campaign than Eternity. Lots of ingame in engine stuff and promising new tech compared to Eternity’s “Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer and Tim Kain are making a party based real time RPG. Insert credit card details.

        • MrLebanon says:

          you are juggling around words but I see no puns

        • Lars Westergren says:

          > compared to Eternity’s “Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer and Tim Kain are making a party based real time RPG. Insert credit card details.

          That’s selling the campaign a bit short to say the least.
          :)

          They had around 25 updates during the campaign revealing details about concept art, companions, world, lore, game mechanics, engine, rendering, project management….

          But returning to Star Citizen – I haven’t followed it very closely, but are there going to be manouvers and exciting dogfights? I tried to get into EVE but was disappointed that fighting seemed (at least on lower levels) to just consist of nothing but selecting a target from a drop down menu then very occasionally pressing attack buttons once cooldowns allowed it.

          • Bhazor says:

            Don’t get me wrong
            “Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer and Tim Kain are making a party based real time RPG. Insert credit card details.”
            Was enough to make me put down $60.

            But there really hasn’t been much solid content produced and a few promises now seem to be conflicting. Opening with a “Planescape Torment spiritual sequel” it now seems to be much more focused on combat with Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate being the new name checks. There were plenty of updates but they were all very vague and badly organised with crucial stuff being mentioned in the live stream not mentioned elsewhere. It kinda made me think they were just spit balling, no solid ideas and still thrashing out what it actually is.
            I’ve been following closely and I still don’t know much about the combat engine and know nothing about the story. I have full confidence in the team making a great game but I could understand people less enamoured with Obsidian/Black Isle holding back.

            I was seriously disapointed in their Kickstarter and if they had more to show and more solid details then it would have hit $10,000,000 I predicted they’d make when the Kickstarter started.

          • kraken says:

            Yes, SC is a true space sim like Wing Commander or Freelancer.
            Not an hotkey-based mmo like Eve.

          • Mordsung says:

            @Kraken

            To be fair, in the far future we’d likely be controlling ships entirely via computer and hotkey command.

            So EvE’s combat system is probably very accurate to how we’ll actually fly ships eventually.

          • Guvornator says:

            I think it’s more that people wanting a great RPG have had their buttons pushed reasonably often recently what with Skyrim, Dragon Age etc. Whereas people wanting amazing, big budget Space action have to look back to the early 2000s. Speaking personally, the last truly great Space Sim I played was I:War 2 and that came out 2001.

            People who Kickstart this aren’t just paying for a nostalgic remix of a genre thats doing well. They’re kickstarting a revival of a long forgotten genre, which is FAR more motivation.

          • SanguineAngel says:

            @ Bhazor to be fair they were name checking all of those games from the beginning. I believe the idea is that it will be a balanced mix of all of them, taking the best of each, like the tactical party based combat which was definitely strongest in IWD, the strong story telling and rich role-playing of PS:T and the strong companions, malleable quest structure and accessability of BG (plus BG is the big name check title there)

          • InternetBatman says:

            Dragon Age is a fair point, but Skyrim is a completely different game/genre. That’s like saying Deus Ex is the same thing as COD: Black Ops because they both have guns and conspiracy theories.

            Personally, I think it has more to do with the amazing tech demo. PEs daily funding substantially increased for the rest of the kickstarter after they showed the first background. Star Citizen had that from the start. Also, Star Citizen did not initially launch against similar kickstarters. PE launched after Wasteland 2 and Shadowrun Returns. Star Citizen launched after Skyjacker failed, and Nexus 2 was on its way to failure.

            I don’t think PE would have ever hit 10 million though. A lot of people don’t like crowd-funding, and even if they had the level of daily funding that they had after the prerendered art was released, they would have ended up with 5-6m for the entire thing. Don’t look at Kicktraqs predictions, they are very, very inaccurate. The cone is better, but not by a ton.

            Also, Obsidian normally gets just as many negative comments as positive ones, and they didn’t even make one of the games they were listing as a major influence. Chris Roberts hasn’t produced any games recently, so all his previous work is seen through the rose-colored glasses of nostalgia. Personally I’d trust the people who made NWN2 more than someone involved with a Space Beowulf played by Jesus movie.

        • Mordsung says:

          I think that’s because the engine is very important in a game like Star Citizen.

          Eternity is focusing on writing and story and going with a low-performance, high fidelity 2D look so that they can focus more on the story than anything else.

          That’s Obsidian’s one major strength over every other RPG studio, their writers can write circles around the guys at Bioware, Square, (insert any company you please).

          Look at their history. KOTOR2′s story made KOTOR’s story look juvenile. Alpha Protocol had great writing but shoddy action. New Vegas was MILES ahead of Fallout 3, though buggier.

          That’s what you get with Obsidian. Top shelf writing, with a somewhat buggy delivery.

        • pauleyc says:

          Keep in mind that Project Eternity had nearly 74000 backers with 20$ pledges already giving people access to the game. Star Citizen has at the moment 45000 backers overall and the minimum game pledge is 30$. So, even if Roberts pulls in more money than Obsidian it’ll still be lower in terms of popularity (unless there’s a huge rush near the end).

          • InternetBatman says:

            $20 was the early access fee. The basic tier cost a little more than $22 on average. Star Citizen’s basic tier is $30, $30, $35, $37, $40 on kickstarter, and $30, $35, $35, $40 on their own site. Judging by Kickstarter, the average for the basic tier is already at 31.37, and will go up as the early tiers are exhausted. I dislike the way Obsidian did mix and match price structures, but Star Citizen’s price structure is just stupid.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Yeah and fantasy RPGs are so abundant and cliche that many of us don’t give a hoot. But a good actiony space sim is a rarer breed.

          • Bhazor says:

            There were plenty of Space sim kickstarters too. If anything the Kickstarter trend can be summed up as “First person dungeon crawlers and space sims”. True, many space sims failed but I’d say this was the first time a big name was attached to one.

    • Smashbox says:

      The gimmick? Slimy spaceboobs

  2. Valkyr says:

    Can someone please explain to me the tactical implications of the various formations shown?

    • Orija says:

      There are none actually, it’s more about having a custom entrance, like the Ginyu Force, for when you enter into battle while Rise of the Valkyries plays in the background.

    • Gap Gen says:

      All I got from the video was that it can replicate the fighter formations from Homeworld. I’m guessing a wall of fighters gives you a clearer line of fire but also more cross-section to be hit. Then again, this game isn’t exactly aiming for realism, so it could just be a bit of fun.

      • Lev Astov says:

        That’s exactly what I thought of. If I can’t have my flying claw I won’t be happy. Also, I really want a space fighter sim where I essentially control a whole Homeworld-style formation where they all fly almost perfectly as one. You wouldn’t control one specific fighter, but the whole thing and losing a single fighter would just mean losing firepower.

    • kaffis says:

      I’m not sure there really is one. But formation flying is pretty, and lets you see that the AI is actually rather organic in following your lead — the main, player controlled ship will pick a course and not correct it for several seconds (you can tell because the maneuvering thrusters aren’t firing), but the AI is actually following the course observationally/predictively, rather than simply automatically knowing and mimicing your input. You can tell this because even though the lead ship’s maneuvering thrusters aren’t changing, the other ships *are* making frequent minute adjustments to their flight path.

  3. Dubbill says:

    “Rodger”? “Ay ay”? I hope the flight model is better than the writing.

  4. herschel says:

    I´m having a blast from the past right now, doing a runthrough of the original Wing Commander.

    Wow, we have come a long way from that to this.

  5. Skystrider says:

    Also, give the “Commander Roberts Briefing” a watch over here:
    http://www.robertsspaceindustries.com/final-push-mission-briefing-video/

    Gourmet cheese. Just like he used to make ‘em. :-D

  6. 12kill4 says:

    Back in my day, we called a ‘fleet’ a ‘squadron’. But then we also did a lot of rather silly things, so it just shows you can’t tell.

  7. JToTheDog says:

    How come more people haven’t commented on this yet? This is pc gaming history happening!

  8. derbefrier says:

    I went for the wingnut pledge and still might upgrade to the next tier. There’s no doubt in my mind that this game is going to be absolutely fantastic and we need to hit the 4 million mark damnit. I want those mod tools damnit plus the other bonuses.

    • Useful Dave says:

      That longer campaign is fookin’ tempting, so much DO WANT in there.

    • CrazedIvan says:

      I don’t think we can command multiple ships in multi-player with the exception of “Drones.” for the bigger class ships.

      I don’t expect to be able to fly around in my Hornet with 3-4 other AI controlled ships at my command in the persistent universe. I may be wrong.

    • lurkalisk says:

      I’m just waiting to have enough money to throw at the Freelancer ship package. Not just because of the ship, but because this is the kind of thing that really deserves 80 space bucks. Or 125 freedom dollars.

  9. Arglebargle says:

    I predict these stories and comments will end up being of the embarrassing-in-retrospect type.

    Roberts was a guy who, even as he made the games you so nostalgicly admire, was aiming at Hollywood. After a lackluster and unprofitable tenure in the film biz, he has suddenly re-discovered his love of games. Is it possible — sure. Or is it that he has seen a chance to ride on early rep and continue to live in the lifestyle he’s become accustomed to by exploiting a new avenue of revenue?

    He’s given way more credit for games than he deserves, imo, including games he was only peripherally involved in. Auterur theory. I am sorry that space games fans are so starved for attention that they blindly leap on any passing bandwagon.

    My prediction is that this Hollywood huckstering will end up having a serious crash landing.

    • RakeShark says:

      As much as we’d wish that Lawrence Holland, or the Freespace folk at Volition, or the Crimson Skies folk, or the Independence War folk would suddenly rise up from the grave, nobody’s come up to the plate with this much power and proof of promise.

      Certainly we have Braben coming out with a new Elite, but nothing to show for it other than his name and a vague promise. Roberts came out with his name, a promise, a working non-static prototype, and the company of other space sim veterans that have worked under him at both Origin, Digital Anvil, and Hollywood.

      It’s certainly healthy to hedge bets and consider the risk, but all things considered, this is a pretty safe bet compared to peers like Obsidian’s Project Eternity and Double Fine Adventure.

      My prediction is that I’ll be in space, shooting lasers and exploding ships.

      • Arglebargle says:

        I think the game will end up having less and less to it, as time goes on. You can already see that in the move from initial announcement to today. I’d disagree about the safety of that bet.

        Though given Roberts’ predilictions, I do think the pew pew part is probably the most sure fire element. Other aspects of the game are likely to suffer.

      • SuicideKing says:

        The FreeSpace folk at Volition…how i wish…*curses Interplay*…

  10. Rugged Malone says:

    Didn’t he mean “which is now possible with DirectX 11.1?” (/ducks)

  11. GeneralVonDoom says:

    Well star citizen isnt the only sim in development if the guy didn’t realize so its not like this is going to jump start the genre.

    http://www.scrumbleship.com/ This is one of the sims which is aiming to be the most realistic space sim out there and allows you to build your own ships from scratch to your design not some developers design and imagination.

  12. SystemiK says:

    I am absolutely blown away by this game and have already given them money, yet I have to say that this trailer did absolutely nothing for me. That said, I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about an upcoming title.

  13. SuicideKing says:

    Why are the lasers so slow? FreeSpace 2 had much, much better dog fights than this (AI wasn’t bad either).

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