Alpha Dog-Fight: Star Citizen’s Second Reveal

By Adam Smith on April 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am.

I hadn’t watched the Star Citizen PAX East footage that Nathan posted last week until this morning. It reminds me of that one dream where I go on stage to deliver a profound speech, and only realise mid-way through that I’ve forgotten to wear any trousers and am on fire. In front of a whooping crowd of avid spacers, Star Citizen lurched from one technical problem to another until it was barely fit for service. This is why so many on-stage ‘reveals’ show pre-canned footage with over-enthusiastic hollering in place of server connectivity issues. Eager to make amends, RSI have stitched together some new footage showing the aspects that failed or were shunted off due to a lack of time. It’s all below.

Skip to just after the 23 minute mark to see the footage that the team have assembled since returning from PAX. The first part of the video is an edited version of the PAX on-stage reveal, which is worth watching if you missed the first, longer version.

I’ve been struggling to avoid thinking along the lines that Star Citizen is pitched in some sort of battle with Elite: Dangerous. After so many barren years, it seems impossible that two excellent space sims will appear so close to one another. Elite’s combat has already won me over so Star Citizen is – unfairly and irrationally – relegated to second place. In the interest of justice and reason, I watched the latter half of this video twice and I’m now less interested in first and second place, and more interested in buying a flightstick and spending the next few years in two separate spacey spaces.

Star Citizen is certainly of interest. I haven’t been following development all that closely and I can see that’s going to change now. I’m trapped in the gravitational pull of yet another star-obscuring behemoth. In case all of my sci-fi fantasies weren’t geeky enough, let it also be known that I find the management of weapon and energy systems by far the most thrilling part of space combat. This is the only genre I want voice controls for, simply so I can continue to shout ‘MAXIMUM POWER TO SHIELDS’ at my computer without the terrible awareness that my words are futile.

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83 Comments »

  1. MrThingy says:

    I don’t have headphones here. What is the WHOOOO-GO-AMERICAAAAA! audience factor rating on this video?

    • drinniol says:

      During the second part, thankfully none.

      I’ll be dusting off the X-52 for this, for sure.

      • bylXa_KoCMaTa says:

        but they use only gamepad…:)

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          …And mouse, and keyboard, and robo-kittens with electromagnetic paws on a reactive surface.

          The Logitech booths had Joysticks, the various presentations instead were quicker and simpler with something more easily set up, while the booths were stationary.

          Don’t stop the trolling though, it wouldn’t be an SC article without some.

          • bylXa_KoCMaTa says:

            we know , all who not repeat “awesome ,amazing ,Yeeeeah, nice” is a troll.But nothing change that they not use joystick and prefer gamepad.Only one place is see use joystick and it is cheap Logitech , but again none of the developers / designers use it..In air combat simulator Logitech does not exist , o yes i forgot this this is arcade.
            If they play only console flight arcade It is better to start from IL-2 and Digital Combat Simulator if wish to make space fight simulator , or if they wish true PC arcade all is already discovery-UI and game mechanics for mouse/keyboard.While some fans continue to sigh another project already on finish line and no bombastic speeches.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            You saw what you saw because you didn’t look. Plenty of videos with X52s and a lot of other stuff popping out of people’s desks.

            I don’t know what qualifies as troll but spouting simplistic sentences and hasty conclusions while being uninformed makes you a good fit.

            I’m not asking you to follow the project more closely, i’m asking you to not act like you are.

    • whilesleepinghesaid says:

      It was way off the chart for me and I found it difficult to watch with the sound. There’s a distinct cultural difference there. In fact it comes out in a lot of aspects of the game as well, in my opinion.

      • Havalynii says:

        As far as the game itself goes, that’s interesting since Chris Roberts is British.

        • Themadcow says:

          I wasn’t sure if he was or not. Born in the US, grew up in Manchester then moved to the US to work after his teenage years. Even if he’s American by passport I think it probably does make him more of a Brit by any other definition.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        I’m a fan, but i still can find negatives without obviously grasping at straws.

      • Reapy says:

        Looks like it is in a bar where they are probably handing out free drinks. Different type of atmosphere there from the show floor. Let’s make sure we keep generalizing an entire culturally diverse country though.

    • SuicideKing says:

      After the 23 min mark at least, there’s none, thank god.

    • Carlos Danger says:

      Man Euro-trash never does pass up a chance to take a swipe at their betters. You could set a clock by these folks.

  2. Fersken says:

    I was initially excited about Star Citizen, until I found out it’s a multiplayer game.

    • Urist says:

      then are you excited about squadron42?

      • Fersken says:

        I wasn’t, but then I didn’t know about Squadron 42 until now. Now I’m cautiously optimistic.

        • P.Funk says:

          Maybe you should actually do some reading before you start making decisions about whether something is or isn’t worth your time. Seems you knew next to nothing about it when you made most of your mind up the first time.

          • Arren says:

            I almost believe that the internet as a whole should have a TOS — and it should be your comment in its entirety, P.Funk.

          • Fersken says:

            I did check out the Roberts Space Industries web page, there is not much information on any of this unless you go to the forums (which I did just now).

            It’s just that this game resemble Privateer (which I enjoyed for a bit) more than Wing Commander or Tie Fighter. It’s the latter what I really want.

            I didn’t really make up my mind though, I just decided that I’ll wait until it’s finished (or close to it) and check out some (pre)reviews.

          • kaffis says:

            Squadron 42 got talked about a bit in yesterday’s Wingman’s Hangar, too. Chris and Erin (Chris’s *more* British brother) were in town and talking with Wingman about sussing out the script, which is currently at the “edit down for size” stage because Dave Haddock is awesome and ambitious.

            Chris was commenting that they’re targeting a roughly 400 page script, which would put it on par with Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom in length and shooting time.

            He’s also been reiterating lately that the internal motto of Squadron 42 is that it’s what a next gen Wing Commander would be if they had the IP. So I think (Chris thinks, at least) you won’t be disappointed, Fersken. Squadron 42 is very much the story-driven, branching military campaign that Wing Commander is so fondly remembered for being, while the Star Citizen Persistent Universe aims to appeal to the Privateer and Freespace folks who always wished that Freespace could handle more players and incorporate the persistence and social dynamics that Massively Multiplayers were just starting to push the boundaries on at the time of its release.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Are you concerned about certain MP implications like always online or just the gameplay in general? If it’s the latter, you might still be in luck. The universe is supposed to have far more NPC than humans, there’s instancing with a PvP slider ( useless in the outlaw zones ) and depending on what you set out to do in the ‘verse the other players might aswell be a backdrop.

          As far as the concept goes you can mitigate some things that you might perceive as “cons” while enjoying the “pros”.

          Oh, and there will be private servers with custom rules, modding, space batmobiles and… Oh my.

          • Fersken says:

            Hell is other people.

            I just prefer single player games. Same reason I didn’t bother with TOR when what I wanted is KOTOR3. My first and only MMO was the beta of Earth & Beyond.

            A space sim with Oculus Rift support does sound like fun though….

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            …And besides, the problem with ToR is not just the MMO part, it just didn’t have the same maturity as KOTOR ( the second for me especially ) either, nor the target audience. It could have been at least an interesting project, albeit not the same as an actual new entry off course.

            Still, i get your point, i’m personally not much interested in the MP either, the only thing i can do for now is speculate with the information given on the whole concept, but the fact that you can have NPCs man your multicrew ship if you so choose or fly your single seater as wingman ( or hire those with a ship ) is rather telling.

    • Cinek says:

      Yea, I’m not too keen to play multi either, but I’m still excited. Squadron 42 is single player (you buy it in one set with SC). Also you can play Star Citizen like a regular single player game if you’re not interested in organizations / squadrons etc. – at least, that’s what they promise: game that’s fun for everyone, not just clans like in every MMO game on a market.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        There’s also the fact that some EVE players might have spread some misinformation aswell. The plan here is for the player to be able to influence the universe and economy, but never to actually control it.

        Player agency is something they want to achieve but it’s not going to be that powerful or the main focus either, NPCs are always going to outnumber you.

    • Cardboard says:

      There’s also a full single player game, Squadron 42, and the ability to host your own private universe server.

    • Havalynii says:

      And are you excited about the private server option, which will let you play all alone or only with friends of your choosing?

      • Stellar Duck says:

        I’m not.

        I don’t feel particularly inclined to run a server to play a game on my own.

        As for the Squadron 42 part, I don’t know. It might be interesting, but it sounds like Wing Commander a lot, in structure and that’s not what I’m looking for.

        I basically want something like the X games or I-War 2 or Evochron Mercenary. A sand box. Not a roller coaster like Wing Commander.

  3. Cinek says:

    I love the cockpit UI they made. This whole animation of locking on a targets (with quarter-circles coming from camera onto the target) is annoying as hell even on the video, but overall? One of the best UIs I ever seen in a history of gaming.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I’ve figured out what was bothering me about the missile lock indicator: It comes out from behind you, so for a few frames it’s actually occupying a large portion of the screen.

      Hence it’s distracting as fuck.

      Otherwise, looking forward to this game and Elite.

  4. Gap Gen says:

    HELMET HELMET HELMET

  5. HisDivineOrder says:

    The hilarious part about Star Citizen is that most of the people throwing money at this guy don’t remember or have even likely played his games. Especially the Wing Commander series.

    I did. There was a reason the physics systems and the overall “feel” of their fighter simulation reeked when compared to far superior games like Freespace 1/2 and X-wing vs Tie Fighter (and its predecessors). Wing Commander sucked.

    So to throw money at this guy after decades always seemed like an act of desperation by a horde of unrepresented people who crave a new space fighter game and don’t really care who brings it to them, regardless of whether that attitude makes much sense. It doesn’t make much sense, though.

    Star Citizen then doubly damned itself by taking in SO MUCH MORE MONEY than it originally asked for that it must now be the best game in the history of mankind. If it is anything less than that, I wonder if there won’t be wild hordes of angry Star Citizen backers roaming the countryside looking for someone, anyone at all, to blame and attack with pitchforks and stray rusty spoons.

    If you see a few old guys who look like they’ve never left their mother’s basements flanked by lots of young guys who look like they grew up playing Angry Birds as their first game on the back of a pickup truck with a starship-esque name scrawled along the side, beware.

    These be Star Citizen backers an’ they be lookin’ fer blud!

    • PostieDoc says:

      But I liked Wing Commander and don’t live in my mothers basement.
      Where does that put me in the grander scheme of things?

      • Havalynii says:

        I guess it puts you with me and a few thousand other people. I started a thread on the RSI forums that was just asking people to talk about their first PC gaming experience. Lots of 25-35 year olds who, like me, remember Roberts’ previous work with fondness and are willing to deal with launch bugs, delays, etc. for the promise of a crafted universe that can be enjoyed solo, with a few friends, or with a full MMO-style server system. I’m not worried. Since SC embraces mod support, there will be tons of great content and private server-friendly fixes, too.

        • Reapy says:

          I think the big thing for me in wing commander was the graphics. It just blew me away, I remember leaving the diner table multiple times to keep the ~15 3 1/4 floppy disks turned over for the hour or so it took to install. The game blew me the hell away at the time of its release, story, graphics, gameplay, just so awesome.

          In hindsight I can look back at the game I don’t like playing it at all now, it does did not hold up in terms of gameplay to some of the later space games that came around.

          In SC I can see a lot of the aspects that are missing from PC gaming, a push for big graphics, and an art of showmanship around the lore that has been missing for a long time. I read those wing commander manuals cover to cover back in the day, and in general miss the great manuals for games in the past.

          All that said I haven’t backed this at all since it is way too nebulous as to what the game will be like at this point.

          • Arglebargle says:

            The original WC had no credited writing by Roberts. Not sure about the later ones, but WC1 was a team effort, despite claims to the contrary.

      • Simbosan says:

        I absolutely devoured WC, everyone one. Brilliant

    • Caiman says:

      How can you expect us to take anything you say seriously after “Wing Commander sucked”? You say you played Wing Commander, but were you around when it was released and blew everyone away? Do you remember how much better it was than anything else at the time (before your Freespaces and X-Wings came along)? I’m guessing not.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I like the idea of a space sim that’s actually just a bunch of guys with shotguns in the back of battered pick-up trucks with USSS ENPTRIES scrawled on the side.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Oh my, aren’t you just the voice of truth and your personal taste the benchmark for the rest of the community?

      Besides, why now money has to be the deciding factor for the final quality when most of the times we have proof that it is not? isn’t this a little too convenient double standard? Why all the hate in the first place? What if i personally end up finding it more enjoyable than GTA who used 250 millions, as in over FIVE times what SC got? How does your reasoning make sense if compared to some expensive titles they’re almost working on a budget given the utterly higher scope and ambition?

      There will be a lot of complaining come release, but not because of the game, but because of the hype of some of the most excitable fans who passed all their wait imagining impossible things. I’m confident the game will be great and a step above most of the rest of the industry, it just might not please those who thought they could use their ship’s toilet towel as a makeshift pirate flag or any other stupid idea you might hear.

      SC and Elite WILL contend the BDSSE title, the actual issue that i still can’t understand is why people are still picking sides. It’s almost more clever to go back to Nvidia vs AMD ( ??? ) which is actually more useful as you’re not gonna have both cards in your PC. ( unless you tinker with hacked drivers and have an Nvidia dedicated to Physx off course )

    • SuicideKing says:

      While I absolutely love FreeSpace and have fond memories of X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, I do think you’re being too harsh.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      “The hilarious part about Star Citizen is that most of the people throwing money at this guy don’t remember or have even likely played his games. Especially the Wing Commander series.”

      I only scan-read the rest of your comment – mostly because of how you chose to start it – but I’m curious. Do you have some stats or evidence to back up this claim?

      I loved the hell out of WC, my earliest was 2. I am broke as broke can be but if I’d had money, I’d probably have thrown it at this.
      I’d have thrown some at E:D too, but still…

    • derbefrier says:

      Big publishers love people like you.

    • Cinek says:

      is that most of the people throwing money at this guy don’t remember or have even likely played his games. Especially the Wing Commander series.” – Proof or GTFO.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I think most of the responses are missing what the OP said here:

      There was a reason the physics systems and the overall “feel” of their fighter simulation reeked when compared to far superior games like Freespace 1/2 and X-wing vs Tie Fighter (and its predecessors). Wing Commander sucked.

      Yes, Wing Commander made a big splash in the market, and I remember having fun with it, but it sure wasn’t for the physics and feel of the combat simulation. That was pretty lame, with endless circle “dogfights” with AI so dumb that the only way they could make it challenging was by throwing multiple waves at you.

      The innovations were in other areas, like the first (AFAIK) branching storyline in a game like this, where you could actually lose a mission and still progress to the ending. I think this might have been the first game where the music dynamically followed the action, and wasn’t just an unvarying background element.

      For many of us who had been playing other flight sims at the time, with better AI and “feel of flight”, the combat in Wing Commander was a grind you had to get through to experience the sum total of the game, which was much better than the combat itself. Later games like I-War and Tie Fighter made the combat more varied and fun, while suffering (compared to WC) in the story and immersion areas.

    • green frog says:

      The amount of hate this game and its fans attract on RPS is way overblown. This post in particular is just bizarre.

  6. SuicideKing says:

    You know, I’d really like a FreeSpace 2 Total Conversion for SC or Elite. And I hope someone makes the FS2 intro cutscene using SC.

  7. derbefrier says:

    My body is ready.

  8. randomkeyhits says:

    Shouting ALL POWER TO THE SHIELDS,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    Why do we not have this now? Ok, starting a game on the PS4 by speaking into the mic is just gimmicky but having the ability to speak/panicky scream all sorts of commands would actually be quite awesome in a whole bunch of games.

    Seems the tech is there, it just needs a nice game to call home.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      FTL played entirely with your voice. I’d pay for that.

      “Flush the airlocks!”
      “Repair team to weapons control!”
      “Oh god oh god OH GOD EVERYTHING’S BURNING WHAT DO WE DO”

      • kaffis says:

        YES.

        This is actually an area where PC is lagging behind consoles, IMO. You can voice-activate your minimap searches on Need For Speed: Rivals on the X-Box One, shout commands to your squad in Ryse, etc.

        I’ve always kind of assumed that on PC, it’s a confluence of several factors, like: no guarantee (as XB1, Wii/WiiU, and modern handhelds can provide) of peripheral presence for a microphone; mediocre Windows audio input setup (that lots of people still get wrong trying to setup basic apps like Skype) with respect to standardization and intuitivity in the sound panel; issues with legacy rigs that don’t sport enough cores to dedicate one to signals processing and analysis to actually do the speech recognition, etc.

        But enough of serious talk. Let’s get back to the part where I need FTL to justify my paniced cries of despair as some sort of gameplay input.

    • Themadcow says:

      I think it’s a bit much to say ‘the tech is there’ because if there’s anything that the XBONE has taught us, it’s that voice recognition is still a little shaky – and the last thing you want in a close dogfight is the computer misunderstanding a command like that.

    • Xorkrik says:

      You can actually do that today. With windows speech recognition and WSR Macros. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=13045

      You can essentially set up a voice command that triggers a key/key combination. Was a few years since I experimented with it but it worked well enough from what I remember.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Yelling commands might be fun for immersion, but if you’re looking for efficiency in combat it’s better to have a bunch of dedicated buttons and switches under your fingers. Buy a good HOTAS system instead. It’s faster to tap a button than speak a multi-word command, when a split-second reaction can save your life in combat.

      That said, it might be fun to map voice recognition to comms, like AI wingman commands. “Break right!” “Cover me!”, etc. I play games like this with a HOTAS system, and by the time I map all the essential combat controls, I’ve usually run out of room for comms commands. They’re hard to remember on the keyboard because every game does it differently.

    • belgand says:

      Get a copy of Artemis and corral some friends together to play it and you can have the fun of yelling at an actual person to do it. Sadly, though, the game doesn’t always give every station much to do, the combat is weak, and there’s basically nothing to do in the game other than fly around and get into fights that all tend to play out exactly the same way. But it’s still fun for an afternoon with friends.

      • kaffis says:

        Or play Space Alert, instead. Oh, wait. Are we allowed to talk about board games on this site outside of Cardboard Children posts?

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    I dont want to come off sounding like a troll but I really do think the goalposts are moving faster than actual development.

    I wouldnt be surprised if in 2 years time the whole project has been scrapped and restarted twice in a new engine while the latest stretch goal is promising a full Star Trek Holodeck experiance

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Enough of this stuff is planned for post release content, and as we’re getting near the DFM stuff will start moving faster, i’m pretty sure of that.

      They’re doing a lot of things at the very same time, which means slow start.

    • Arglebargle says:

      It certainly happened with Strike Commander, two years and loads of work that was scrapped. Freelancer was three or four years late. The more grandiose the plans, the more potential asteroids you can run into. Certainly, the grandiose Arena Commander reveal ran into more than a few. I expect that to be par for the course.

      • kaffis says:

        Both of those projects were scrapped and restarted to redesign the engine based on advances in graphics made during development.

        Eliminating that possible need is why Star Citizen, like so many modern games is using a third party engine. Let Crytek rebuild their engine from scratch (while using the same or slightly modified/expanded APIs) and Star Citizen benefit.

        That’s basically what’s happening *right now* with the PBR update. Crytek rebuilt a huge portion of their rendering pipeline from scratch, and Star Citizen is only having to do minor revisions to lighting calls and setups and textures to benefit.

  10. araczynski says:

    i backed this, but in all honesty, it doesnt’ impress me all that much, so far. doesn’t help that apparently chris can’t fly worth a shit with that gamepad, and apparently the rest of the snippets seem to make everyone look like this is their first flight ‘sim’ as well. i’m not really interested in some stupid multiplayer epenis rat race, so a lot of this game will get lost on me, but am very interested in the single player portion as well as apparently being able to run your own server (hopefully that’s not a lost in translation thing for ‘host your own mp arena fight).

    somehow i like what elite brings to the table much more.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I’m not sure if it’s the gamepad or really just him, to be brutally honest. Anyway, you should watch from 23 mins onwards.

      This rat race is nothing more than the easiest way to provide an early “mini game” for backers to play, much like ED did, and really this is supposed to be some sort of competitive mode once the real game launches, being nothing more than a combat simulator in your hangar.

      The rest of the actual universe is still all about doing whatever the fuck you want really, but you’ll agree that something playable on such scale won’t come that soon.

  11. FrostByghte says:

    I am anxious to see if they can pull off their grand scope with this game. I do nominate this video as having the word ‘actually’ used more than any other video I have watched in the last year.

  12. Wytefang says:

    The first demo was woeful and vastly underwhelming. I’m starting to get the feeling that this game, despite the cash base behind it, may just in fact suck in the end. Elite: Dangerous is looking far better and with less funding. Weird world we live in but there it is…

    • Stardreamer says:

      Don’t be fooled by this.

      Elite Dangerous, as a collection of concepts and tech demos, has probably been in background development for many of the last 17 years, perhaps the last ten. The alpha came together SO quickly and was so feature complete since the Kickstarter that I believe it’s leading many people to believe that Star Citizen is somehow in danger of sucking because their work is seemingly so far behind. I’d say it isn’t; it’s just that Frontier are benefiting from some really solid planning and casual, behind-the-scenes development.

      That would certainly account for many of the comments Braben has made about Elite IV being in development over the years.

      • CaidKean says:

        There’s also the difference in terms of (recent) experience in game development.

        Chris Roberts hasn’t produced a game since 2001.

        David Braben on the other hand has since 2001 produced five games and two expansion packs.

        Personally my money is on Elite: Dangerous being the better game if only for the fact that David Braben has more experience making open-ended space-simulations.

      • dreamscape says:

        Elite: Dangerous Alpha isn’t feature complete by a long shot.
        We’ve only see a tiny percentage of the game as this FAQ explains.

        http://elite-dangerous.wikia.com/wiki/Elite:_Dangerous_FAQ

  13. Jenks says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1E3l8pewzY

    Look at all those stupid Americans cheering at Star Citizen hangar footage!!

    Oh wait, that’s Gamescom. Whoopsie.

  14. v21v21v21 says:

    It actually looks as if it actually needs actually a lot more work, actually. Actually.

    Well, there goes my election…

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