Roberts On Star Citizen, Becoming A Space Crime Lord

During GDC Online, I find Chris Roberts situated in a plain white room – with little adorning it other than a conference table and Roberts’ PC. Given the almost ridiculous grandiosity of his plans, the sparseness of the room makes for something of an odd contrast. But soon, all of that fades into the background. Roberts runs me through a surprisingly polished demo of Star Citizen in its current state, and it’s hard not to let my imagination get away from me. The foundation’s clearly in place, and the possibilities seem endless. But this is still a game. There have to be limits. Moreover, where’s the line between pie-in-the-stars ambition and reality? So naturally, I ask. I ask about EVERYTHING. In part one, we cover why the universe is broken up into instances, Squadron 42, why Roberts doesn’t think this will become some crazy political struggle ala EVE Online, and of course, Roberts’ aspirations to a life of space crime.

RPS: Your plans for the scale of this game are positively insane, but how does it all actually work? What happens if I, say, die in combat? What’s the penalty?

Roberts: Here’s the thing. I’m actually bummed by the current design philosophy, where there’s no penalty for doing not particularly well. A lot of games I play, console games, I don’t play very smart because I know that when I respawn, I’m a second away. I just go in guns blazing and bully my way through the story. I really like Demon’s Souls. I completed it and almost finished a second playthrough. I don’t usually put that kind of time into playing a game, but it was like 200-plus hours of being obsessed for two or three weeks straight. One of the things I liked about it was there were real consequences. The good thing about that was that when I achieved something, I really felt like I’d achieved something. It wasn’t easy. It was a combination of the most frustrating and the most rewarding game I’ve played in a long time.

In this, I don’t think we’re going to be quite as tough as Demon’s Souls, but there needs to be some penalty. You can’t just blast away and then respawn and go back. If you go out in space and your ship gets destroyed, you’ve lost your ship. We’re basically trying to do a lot of things like the real world. We’re trying to simulate an economy. You can buy ship insurance just like you could buy car insurance in the real world. You can buy cargo insurance. If you’re smart, you’ll pay a bit of money for insurance, because… With insurance, if you get blasted, you’ll lose your cargo, you’ll end up on the same planet again in a replacement ship. If you don’t have insurance you’re going to lose it all. You can take that risk, but it shouldn’t be the idea that you just go out there and get blasted and just instantly respawn with a ship. There needs to be a consequence.

For instance, if you’re someone operating on the outer edge of the galaxy, it’s just like if you’re living in a really bad neighborhood. Your insurance is gonna cost more than your insurance costs in the center of the galaxy, where it’s pretty safe. If you’re in the center of the galaxy and there’s a lot of military and law enforcement around, it’s safe. There’s not going to be a lot of PvP stuff, or people jumping newbies and stuff like that. Like out here [motions at, er, existence], I couldn’t just start taking stuff from people in the street. The police would stop me. But of course, when you’re landing on Earth and you’re selling goods, you pay tariffs and taxes. Someone’s got to pay for the infrastructure. Someone’s got to pay for the police force.

On the other hand, on the outer edges of the empire where there isn’t really law and order, you don’t have landing taxes or anything. But you also don’t have any protection from police or the military. So again, the concept is that it’s like the real world. You make your choices – where you want to be, how you want to play. If you want to be on the other side of the law, a player-killer, you can be. But there will be areas of space that you’ll want to exist in, because if you try to do that right nearby Earth where the strongest part of the empire is, you won’t last very long.

You can definitely attack people, it’s just that suddenly you’ll be on the most wanted list and every bounty hunter in the galaxy will be zeroing in on you. The times you can shoot people down inside those areas of law and order is when they’re on the most wanted list, so to speak. The idea would be that the systems that you build inside this universe kind of help regulate the world, just like in the real world. That’s one of the concepts. We don’t have it running yet, so who knows?

A lot of games, like even EVE Online, they do some things that happen in the real world, but they never do everything. I think if you’re going to do it, you should simulate it properly, because that’s the reason why the world works the way it does. You can have law and order, but you need taxes to pay for it. It needs to be done that way, rather than just be an arbitrary system. That’s one of the core ideas, because I think that if you simulate it to that level and you make it fun and interesting, then in some ways, I want the community [to create the rest].

I want some people to be the arch-criminal overlords that operate beyond the reach of the law in some asteroid field off in the rim. They have an underground network paying people to do hits. I want someone who’s a big merchant prince that’s trading a bunch of stuff and hiring other people to do runs. You should be able to have all those roles happening in your galaxy if you set it up right. Players gravitate to different things. Someone wants to be a bounty hunter. Someone wants to be an explorer. Someone wants to be a criminal overlord. You should be able to do all those things. It’s pretty cool, especially if you allow the players to hire out and do stuff with each other. It’s not just the game hiring you. You can get paid missions from the game, but players themselves should be able to essentially do Craigslist listings inside. “I need a couple of tough mercenaries to fly on my wing, because I have to deliver this cargo over here and it’s pretty hairy.” If you put all that together in an open-world setting, it’d be pretty awesome.

RPS: That’s tremendously ambitious. It’s one of the more ambitious things I’ve heard for, um, games. Ever.

Roberts: Well, nobody ever accused me of not being ambitious.

RPS: Richard, who saw Star Citizen for us before you revealed it, was concerned that Squadron 42 seemed fairly inessential. He was worried that all this ambition would necessitate that you leave a few things on the chopping block, and a single-player component seemed like a pretty easy target.

Roberts: Yeah, but the way we’re structured, that probably won’t happen. The Squadron 42 element of it is in the content development plan at an earlier stage than the full Citizen universe. It’s scaled the way it is because the functionality I need for that is a subset of the functionality I need for the bigger universe. The space combat, flying around, the multiplayer side, all that. That’s the core functionality that will also go into Star Citizen. What Star Citizen puts on top of it is the persistent universe. It’s a meta-level.

The way I would view it is, think of Squadron 42 like World of Tanks or something like that. You can jump into battles and we have a single-player narrative. That level of stuff where it’s not necessarily persistent. Then the Star Citizen side is the persistent layer on top of that, making everything that’s happening make sense in a holistic universe. It’s a bit easier in a space setting, something like a Freelancer/Privateer setup, than if you were trying to do a World of Warcraft or a Rift or something like that.

The stuff that happens in the big universe, the persistent universe, on that level you don’t need that side of it to be so high-fidelity in real time. The realtime stuff is just flying around in space and the combat. The persistent universe, what it’s doing is the matchmaking. The persistent universe keeps track of where you are in the galaxy, how much money you’ve got, what ship you’ve got, which isn’t necessarily a realtime thing. If we wanted to, the persistent universe could be completely handled by a sort of boring web interface, but obviously that’s not the style of thing I like to do.

So the persistent universe side, what it does it the matchmaking. It’s figuring, okay, you’re flying from planet A to planet B. Ben over here is flying from planet C to planet D. You two are going to intersect. He’s a pirate and you’re a merchant, so you’re in conflict. It creates an instance, which is dynamic and isn’t permanent, and puts you into it to resolve your conflict. It will allow other players to drop into it. You’ll have slots saved so that if you have friends and you’re under attack, you can send out to your friends and say, “Hey, I’m under attack! Anyone close by, come help me out!” They see that message pop up when they’re flying around and they can hit it.

RPS: So you’re going to put all of that stuff on top of Squadron 42, then?

Roberts: My point is that the Squadron 42 world, the battle instance itself and all that, that is all Squadron 42. That’s all the same stuff. What Squadron 42 doesn’t have is the persistent database side. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the single-player is safe. First of all, because the Wing Commander side is very important to me. But second of all, it’s a subset of the bigger thing.

If someone was going to say, “Chris, can you get this all done?”, the question isn’t so much about getting the Squadron 42 stuff done. It’s more about getting the full big vision of the world going. That’s the biggest challenge. So the only thing I’ll say in counter to that is that I’ve built that open world a couple of times. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to structure the persistent world and have the advantages that you get from building that kind of world in space. There’s a reason why EVE Online lets everyone be on the same server. They can’t do that in World of Warcraft. It’s the same reason I can do it in this one. As I was explaining, the persistent universe side of it is really just a matchmaking service and a stat-tracking service. It’s just dressed up in a way that makes it feel like it’s part of the world. We don’t ever worry about, “Okay, everyone in our universe can go to this specific point at the same time,” because it’s not set up to be that way. You could all say, “Let’s go to Earth” at a particular time, but when you’re on Earth, it’s not on a realtime basis. It’s just like being in a big chatroom that’s dressed up with some nice graphics.

RPS: What is the biggest group size that can be in a single spot? Is that decided by how many people can be in combat at once?

Roberts: Yeah. The biggest group that can be at one spot in space is decided by how many we can have in combat at once. It’s not fully determined. It’s going to be somewhere between 60 and 100-some people. Freelancer could manage about 128 people online, so I’m hoping we can do that. We have a high degree of fidelity, but then also the broadband is much better than it used to be. If you look at Battlefield on the PC, it can do I think 64 players at once in an instance. It’s going to be somewhere in there. We have the advantage over Battlefield, because they have to have the whole environment rendered. Most of this is in space, so you don’t have to worry about the background crumbling. What would happen is if, say, there’s 10,000 people in orbit around Earth, there would be 100 different instances of 100 people, basically, in orbit.

RPS: Say in your crime lord scenario from earlier, someone put out a hit on somebody. How would the person trying to carry out the hit navigate to the instance where the target is?

Roberts: Here’s the thing: We can have 10,000 people down on the same planet. It’s not that you would have 10,000 people sitting in the space bar, but the system knows that you’re on the planet. We do this dynamic matchmaking I’m talking about. If, for instance, you had a hit out on someone, and you took that job, the persistent universe server knows, “Okay, you’ve been hired to take Ben out over here.” It knows that and it’ll match you. Tagging Ben and you together. Unless you’re getting a job to take out 200 people all at the same time. We’re not going to let you do that.

Essentially what it does is, it matchmakes you with your friends. It knows who your friends list is, and it’s always trying to put you together. It also knows, if you’ve got missions against someone that’s a player, that it should try to put you together as well. It’s trying to dynamically match you up with people who are in opposition to you, too. It’s like a very sophisticated matchmaking service.

On the surface of it, as a player, it seems like you’re part of this massive universe and people you’re looking for just happen to show up. But there will never be a case like in EVE Online where you can have a thousand players show up for a massive stellar war. It’s not meant to be that way. It’s a different level of scope. It’s why it’s called Star Citizen, and not Earth and Empire or something. It’s about the individual point of view – not the overall political campaign or corporations or whatever.

RPS: OK, so say again that someone has a hit out on them, and that develops into a massive battle, and that fills up the instance. If someone else were also to want to join into that, what would happen? Would they just get a, “Sorry, you can’t join, this queue is full” message?

Roberts: The goal, hopefully, is not to be in that situation. The idea would be that we reserve slots for players to have their friends. I’m sure there will be some cases, because you can’t reserve five slots for every player in it, that there’ll be too many. What will probably happen is, if we can fit 100 people in one battle instance, we may allow 50 to 60 and then keep 40 slots open, thinking that will be plenty of slots for friends to join. There could be a case where all these people call their friends and 100 people could want to turn up, and then in that case that would be a problem.

But the goal is, in most cases… I don’t know if you realize when you fly, but the airlines all overbook their flights, because they know that 10 percent of people don’t show up. If they have 110 people on the plane, they’ll take 120 bookings for it, because most of the time they’ll be fine. That’s why you’ll occasionally show up and they’ll say, “Does anyone want to take a later flight?” You always have to do this trade-off of trying to have as many people in the battle instance so it’s cool, but also reserving enough slots so people can show up.

There will, I’m sure, be some instances that will break it where everyone who shows up has a lot of friends who can all come in. At that point, we’ll figure out a way to try and be as elegant about it as possible. That’s the one use case where I can see it breaking. We’re trying to do everything we can to make it, for most of the time, so that won’t happen. Most of the time, your experience should be, “You’re under attack, send out a distress call, you’ve got friends nearby, they show up.”

RPS: What kind of civilization do you hope players will ultimately create? EVE is known for all its corporations and its political dealings and things like that, but you’re obviously designing something very different.

Roberts: Well, if you think of World of Warcraft, it’s not really 2,000 people getting together to go off and figure out how to do something. It’s you and your group of buddies going on a dungeon run. I want it to be more on that level, where you’ve got three, four, five, six friends that you go and fly around in space with. You don’t have to, but you can work together to do trading runs and split the profits up. I view it as encouraging a group dynamic, but it’s a smaller group dynamic than EVE Online. I’m focusing more on half a dozen people or less. Not hundreds of thousands of people.

As far as the big meta-corporations, I could be wrong. There may be a situation where someone really works the system well and has hundreds of people working for them around the galaxy. But that will probably be more in a case of… they’re the ones issuing missions and putting them on boards. Their effects are felt through the galaxy, but there’s never a point where all their stuff happens in one moment. I think that would be cool, but I think that it’s not really set up for you to build up your corporation or group of followers to 2,000, 3,000 people. I could be wrong, but I think the missions and the action we’ll see will be on a smaller scale. They’ll be on a more personal scale.

RPS: You’ve been pretty adamant about planning for very consistent, frequent post-launch updates. But I got the impression that you meant that from the standpoint of everything – from new content to balancing and tweaks and stuff like that. How many people do you have working on this, and how many are you planning to have work on it in the long run?

Roberts: The group that put together the tech base and did all the research was less than 10 people. We’re going to ramp up to a much bigger group of people. I don’t want to have a ridiculous group of 300 or 400 people, but the core group will be about 40 or 50 developers, and then it will scale on the content side outside of that. Building content with this level of fidelity takes a lot of time. It’s much more complicated. You look at a fighter flying around, you see all the bits move. All the thrusters are articulating. When I’m moving my guns around, you can see all the wires. The missile bays. You can see my head there. The guns behind there are all tracking. There’s a huge amount of engineering that goes into it. It’s not just designing something that looks cool. You have to design something that works. You can fit inside the cockpit when you climb in. You have to figure out those ergonomics. The thrusters all have to balance where they’re put, because they’re actually generating force.

Obviously you don’t need wings in space, there is that, but the simulation of this and how it flies is 100 percent correct to how you would fly it around in space, the same way the lunar lander or whatever works. There’s a lot of work that goes into this. The way we’ve worked out a workflow is that you have the core team handling the programming and art integration and coordinating, but a lot of the assets are done in a scalable basis like you would for a film or something. At the height of it, we would probably have several hundred people working on all the assets, but you scale up and scale down as you need to.

Part of the concept is that we’re going to go live and it’s not all the content that we’ll want to have eventually. We’ll be bringing content online all the time. Not just once a year or anything like that. My theory is that’s going to make the universe feel more real. When we’re adding content we can be reacting to what’s happening. I gave you that scenario where someone could be playing the crime lord and hiring people to do nefarious stuff like hits on people. Running the game, we would see that, and we could start to… I mean, just little things. We’ll have news blasts about what’s happening in the galaxy. If you’re down at the bar, you can read about what’s happening. There will be reports of raids on a planet… “There seems to be something happening over here.” All that stuff, we want to feed back into it. When you’re in this universe, you feel like it’s alive and things other players are doing are becoming part of the fiction of the universe.

RPS: Right, you’re planning to turn player interactions into the lore of the universe. Another example you cited was, if someone discovers a new navigation route, it’s named after them. Do you have any other ideas for how you want to do that?

Roberts: The jump point’s probably the best example, because it’s a simple one to illustrate. Things like in today’s world, if you make a bunch of money, you can build a building and get your name on it. You go someplace and it’s the “whoever” building, that’s just someone who made a lot of money a long time ago and could buy a building and put their name on it. That’s a pretty simple illustration, but the later-stage stuff, when you’ve accumulated enough wealth, there is real estate you can buy in the game, on planets and such. That’s another example of the players becoming part of the lore.

We are actively going to update the galactic news briefs based on what’s happening with the players. We’re trying to find interesting events and use that as a source. We’ll have some NPC stuff to talk about, but part of the agenda is also to refer to things that are happening as the game’s operators see them. If there was a battle or a conflict or whatever, we’re trying to have that come across in the news items. You don’t have to do it all the time, but if you have this happen occasionally, it sells people. They see themselves there and think, “Wow, that’s cool. I’m notorious. I’m wanted in five systems!” That’s the kind of thing that should happen. If someone’s taking people out, they should be on the most-wanted list. It’ll be on the news briefs, the face is up on the Galacticolor vids and stuff. What you need to feel is like your actions have some impact on the world and other people can see that.

Check back tomorrow for part two, in which we discuss the story behind Star Citizen’s world, progression systems, flight sticks, crowdfunding, the modern state of PC gaming, and – most importantly – whether or not Roberts plans to ever actually visit space himself.


  1. Mr.Bats says:

    I’m half disappointed half amazed.

    Disappointed because I do not like this ‘But there will never be a case like in EVE Online where you can have a thousand players show up for a massive stellar war. It’s not meant to be that way. It’s a different level of scope.’ and this ‘ I’m focusing more on half a dozen people or less. Not hundreds of thousands of people.’

    Amazed because the game looks brilliant

    • phelix says:

      Of course, things change when it’s half a dozen battle cruisers .

    • S Jay says:

      Damn, I want to play EVE again.

    • kraken says:

      For me it’s largely compensated by the fact you will be piloting your ship instead of hotkeying your enemy to death.
      I’d rather have a 100-ish battle with actual skills than a 1000 mmo style fight.

      • derbefrier says:


        I want a combat space sim in a persistant universe with multiplayer support
        Not an MMO set in space with tab targeting and the fire and forget combat that I hear eve has. I think its a fair trade off.

        • S Jay says:

          I understand what you want to say, but the pedantic in me has to say: EVE is far from “fire and forget”. There is actual skill – but much less than actually piloting and aiming the gun yourself, so, yeah.

          • stimpack says:

            Hey, you could’ve stood your ground and started a flame war but instead chose to concede a bit in order to see both sides of the conversation. Good on you, pal! Also I agree with both points. The reason I broke up with EVE is that she only wanted me for my mining skills, and I have so much more to give.

          • derbefrier says:

            heh, i wasn’t speaking from personal experience with the game. I have never played it. Its just the feeling I get when I see people try to describe it and its a way i have heard it described before. perhaps I was simplifying to much in order to make a point but I guess we do what we can with the information we have. Thankfully theres always someone on the internet willing to correct us if we are too far off.

        • Mordsung says:

          The ironic thing is that by the time we’re that far in the future with that kind of technology, almost everything we do will be effectively pressing a hot key.

          We would not be using joysticks, we’d be allowing powerful computers to do all navigation for us.

          It really would be like playing EvE.

    • Beef says:

      Thousands of players can show up for an interstellar war, but the individual battles will be rather at the scale of sub-100 players instances.

      In EVE Online, there is a ‘grid’ mechanic, where an individual ‘grid’ instance is spawned wherever players or objects are within the solar system. EVE does allow around 1000s of players on the same grid, if your PC doesn’t melt (turn off brackets ffs!), but introduced a time dilation mechanic to make it all playable.
      The typical engagement in EVE Online is small gangs, solo ganking or big sovereignity warfare fleets. With the size of fleets being limited to 256, the typical warfare engagements are between roughly 500 ships. These battles can already take place at 20% time dilation, where your one action every 10 seconds is changed to roughly one action every minute.

      Bigger fleet engagements do happen, with the CFC fielding 3-4 fleets on some occasions. However, most fleets will be engaging in separate locations, with separate objectives; out of strategic, but also logistical reasons. Any big strategical operation will have several smaller-scale gangs doing logistics, picking off stragglers, doing bombing run, scouting out enemies, etc.
      In other words, EVE teaches us that the large-scale warfare can be organically split up in multiple smaller-scale engagement. Exactly the kind of engagement scale promised by Star Citizen.
      IF, and it’s a big if, the entire logistics is fleshed out enough.

      You won’t have satisfying large-scale warfare if all that matters is showing up with enough people and mashing some magical ‘join instance’ button. Add fuel and ammo depletion, carriers, supply ships, etc. Force these logistics ships to have to jump in and out of the combat instance, but make them ‘interceptable’ in the space between the multiple instances. Give the player factions multiple small and large-scale strategic objectives to pursue (e.g., not just ‘win’ the planet with one battle, but take out the station, sat defence network control center, carriers, whatever.) Bam, now you got large-scale warfare without having to support 100 people trying to occupy the same space.

    • Stevostin says:

      Co op with one and only one player is good (even coop pvp aka 2V2). Add one extra player and it’s a) way less likely to happen b) less pleasant because you as a player do less of a difference & you can’t develop the same level of awareness to what others are doing so it means group tactic get more generale, less subtle and poorer. 4 is worse, 5 is worse than 4, and a 1000 players is, gameplay wise, shitty. Now I can get the excitement of being in a huge battle… but in space ? Not that much. You’re a dot that has vector, and some stats. Not hugely impressive.

      I am disappointed Chris said more personnal and waste time of the less interesting, less likely to happen “2 friends and more”. IMO He should focus on the “no friends at all” (60% of wild pvp in wow) then one friend (30% more) and not really care about the 10% extra that are always fun because unusual – but where nothing terribly interesting ever happen gameplay wise except the good old “and all of sudden some one was terribly outnumbered and lost”. Fun to tell, but there is no real part of those stories about subtle skill, tactic or even involving decisive features of the game engine.

      I can’t wait for the gaming industry to realise team of 3 and more are the less important side of multiplayer gamewise. Chris here is obviously way smarter about this than most and I read that next CoD or MoH (I don’t know which is wich) is putting emphasis in the MP to have one and only one buddy and that the tester here said “it surprinsingly working” which every Rocket Arena player knows since 15 years know and patiently wait for the other to figure.

      • Jenks says:

        If I had any idea what you are talking about, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like it.

  2. Papa_Dragon says:

    For those who missed actual gameplay – Tech Demo: link to

  3. InternetBatman says:

    I can’t wait to find the pooflinger canal, a small but important trade route first discovered by Jebediah Pooflinger. It’ll be reachable by the Yourmommashouse gate or the xxXSapirofthXxx wormhole.

    • derbefrier says:

      Just be carefull around the wtfpwnbbqimafirinmuhlazors warp gate I hear bad things can happen. Let’s hope there.are some naming conventions he enforces so things dont get too silly.

    • Papa_Dragon says:

      There is a big thread on RSI forums with kind of an ages survey. The average age is ~30.
      I expect less xXx and -+=8=+- in nicknames, at least from the beginning,

      • InternetBatman says:

        Sadly trolls go straight from xXxSerpharothxXX to ObamaisNWOmechahitler or whatever semipolitical nonsense you want.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Ha! You made me choke on my own spit. So true. I wonder if it’s always been like that, and the internet just gives it a proper home and a name.

  4. Taiphoz says:

    I was a massive fan of Freelancer, and Jumpgate Evolution so this almost looks like a step in the right direction.

    But I have to say that I am very disappointing and my heart sank a little the second they started to talk about instancing, all these dynamic instances can fuck right off I am personally sick of them, showing up and ruining just about every game that uses them, look at the mess of games like swtor, it’s balls instancing did nothing but keep people appart.

    And even tho he claims others or friends will be able to pop in, there will be a limit to that and some one eventually will get that message “Sorry instance is full”.

    For a very short period of time I thought this might be the game were all waiting for, but it just looks like its not, its not going to give us that massive EvE sized open world to play in. :(

    • kombatunit says:

      That is pretty much what I thought reading this. I was hoping for something much bigger.

    • Rictor says:

      Oh dear me. You seem to be setting some harsh and arbitrary conditions for why you will not deign to grace this game with your money. I have my own thoughts – namely that the game seems far too ambitious to succeed without waaay more development money – but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because it’s not like everyone is rushing out to make space sims, eh?

      Instancing – do you realize that allowing every player in the game to be in the same place at the same time results absolute unplayable clusterfuck? Well, potentially. Imagine 10,000 players fighting a battle. That is going to melt servers, melt PCs and generally result in no one having much fun at all. The mere fact that you can do it is not a real benefit, when the end result is a giant swirl of chaos. There’s a good reason why most MMOs (can’t speak for all of them) implement limits of the # of simultaneous players, either through instancing or having multiple servers/shard. This is as silly as saying that any online FPS that limits players per map (32, 64, 128 etc) isn’t worth playing. Which is…er, all of them.

      Real money – again, this is a concept that can be done well or poorly. Whether we like it or not, free-to-play is here to stay. Real-money shops are here to stay. So with that given, I would much rather that developers put in functionality that’s going to limit the in-game impact of such mechanics. There are a myriad of ways to make the experience fun for everyone. Sure, there’s always the possibility that some asshole can buy a ship for $100, go kills someone and subsequently get destroyed, but when such actions have real-world consequences…well, let’s just say that he would need to be a very rich asshole.

  5. S Jay says:

    One important question: how will they maintain the servers and new content creation? Subscription? Cosmetic items with real world money? Advertising?

    • derbefrier says:

      Think guild wars 2 type of business model. There will be an upfront cost for the game that is then supported by microtransactions. He claims everything available in the shop will be obtainable in game.

      • Papa_Dragon says:

        He also said on reedit’s AMA session that they will probably limit the amount of hard money you can spend in shop in 1 month, to prevent disbalance.

      • HothMonster says:

        I’m under the impression that the cash store will just sell in-game currency. So it is really just a question of whether you would rather invest time or money, not that you are forced to pay cash for certain things.

  6. StranaMente says:

    For the multiplayer part he looks like he’s pulling a Molyneux. He sounds unrealistically ambitious and is promising everything. I’m not too fond of that.
    For the single player part, it seems he’s not very interested and it really seems that Squadron 42 is the last of his thoughts. It will have skirmishes and it won’t be in a persistent world. So it looks like nothing will matter.
    I hope that something more interesting for me come out of this, but I really can’t see it happening as he have really different priorities.

    • Smashbox says:

      He really is promising the universe. I am skeptical, certainly, but also very excited about the possibilities here. Please, get it right guys!

    • studenteternal says:

      Yea, my bullshit sensors are tingling I would not mind being wrong, but this looks way more ambitious then is reasonable, and I know Roberts was a big part of the wing commander games, but none of those had a fraction of this scope, I think he is promising more then can be reasonably delivered at all. Let alone by someone who hasn’t lead a major project in a decade…

    • crinkles esq. says:

      He spent two paragraphs talking about the difference between Squadron 42 and Star Citizen, and I still haven’t quite got it sorted. Was he saying that Squadron 42 is basically just for fun single-player battles, that there are no real penalties like in Star Citizen? Because long ago I played a Star Trek TNG-based text MOO set up like that. There was a role-playing component that was Serious Business (and because this was trekkies, it was Extra Serious Business), but then there was the Holodeck which each faction had linked up for combat. So basically everyone fought constant battles in the Holodeck, but no one ever fought in the role-playing area because they didn’t want to risk losing an actual ship, or have their character get killed. If this is how Star Citizen plans to be, I could see the userbase being fractured between the two.

      While I like the idea of flying around in a ship by myself or with mates, taking the universe by storm, what he’s describing of the metagame seems pretty dull. It reminds me more of the old BBS game Trade Wars. I’m really fascinated by the complicated dynamics of Eve Online, but the steep timesink curve and having to be part of a corp to get anywhere never appealed to me. So I was hoping this would be more like EO, but more like you’re Han Solo cruising around picking up space freight and space babes. I want to fly to a space station and the station is alive with a rich tapestry of strange beings. But I’m getting the impression that this is more like WoW on a PvP server — you kick around in a clan doing missions together, but mostly in isolation.

  7. Coriolis says:

    My problem with this is.. there was another game that in many ways is very similar to what he describes, named Pirates of the burning sea. And while it’s still running, it’s only got a very small following at this point. I wish him luck, since it’s a worthwhile undertaking, but getting these things right is alot harder then it seems.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Exactly. PotBS was absolutely terrible. Here’s hoping Roberts can execute better.

      • Axess Denyd says:

        I really liked the core gameplay. Ship to ship combat was FANTASTIC and highly strategic, though the sword fighting was indeed terrible.

        I’d pay decent money for a single player version of the ship to ship.

        • pupsikaso says:

          There’s one called East India Trading Company or something like that?

    • Photon Embargo says:

      You guys tend to forget he made what are considered some of the granddaddy space sims/games. To launch a crowdsourcing project with so much already developed – I think he probably has a good idea where he is at (well, I really hope this feeling is not misplaced).

      • andir says:

        He created a single player game and you expect him to be able to create a (for lack of a better term) PvP game that those single player memories is going to contend with?

        I’m sorry, but that group of people (disclaimer: myself included) do not want to log into the open world game portion he has planned and get ganked by some 12 year old trying to prove how great of a pirate he is. Just like PotBS, it will devolve into a PvP fest and nobody will want to play it because they don’t want to lose their time and in game money on some bug or roving pirate gang looking to PK for fun.

        So what are us PvE players supposed to do? Hang out in a limited space and scrounge bits of bread so we don’t have to deal with that PvP mentality? Limit ourselves to the (what surely will be limited) private server? No thanks.

        • Ovno says:

          I think the correct and only answer to what should the PvE players do is….

          GROW SOME BALLS!!!

          • Sidewinder says:

            Other way, actually. You lose the balls (if you have them), then the brain, then everything else until all that’s left is asshole. That’s where the PVP player comes from- or at least the type we’re all worried about.

        • derbefrier says:

          Dont forget there will be the ability to have private servers. At the very least you could enforce a PvE only rule and at best you could just turn PvP off. We’ll see what happens though. But hopefully with this everyone can get the experience they are looking for.

          • andir says:

            > Limit ourselves to the (what surely will be limited) private server? No thanks.

  8. Lobosolitario says:

    Oh dear, realistic crime enforcement again. Someone needs to go back and look at Ultima Online…

    You can’t have realistic crime enforcement when the penalties (loss of in-game credits, ships, even permadeath) don’t mean anything to a certain subset of players, because they’re playing a totally different game to everyone else, IE griefing. There are people who are quite happy to grind their way up to a battleship only to lose it and start over from scratch, just to be able to ruin someone else’s day.

    • Taiphoz says:

      dont forget the item mall, so there will be greifers with good jobs, who get stressed all day come home, buy some ubber in game gear then go out and trounce the first few people they see, only to be killed by the ai and then repeat..

      if this game comes with ANY sort of in game real money buying of goods then I’m out, will not touch it with a ten million foot long pole.

    • Papa_Dragon says:

      Freelancer Alpha 1 dash 1, I’m scanning your cargo for contraband.

      • JB says:

        That line would strike fear into my heart on many cardamine-smuggling occasions.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Loss of insurance would be a huge penalty for griefers, and would at least slow the rate such things happened at as everyone got better ships and griefers stayed the same.

      • derbefrier says:

        That would be cool. Like car insurance if you get in a lot of wrecks(or in this case a lot of space fights constantly getting your ship blown up or damaged) your premium could go up making insurance more expensive cutting down on the “for the lulz” type of Griefing and only going for something that would actually pay off.

      • Lobosolitario says:

        What’s to stop them creating a new account once their insurance premium gets too high? Or buying in-game credits from a third-party? As mentioned below, I don’t think there’s any possible in-game penalty important enough to bother certain players.

    • Jenks says:

      I loved UO and I wasn’t a griefer.

      It just sounds like you enjoy risk averse games, which is great because there are so many out there for you. Pretty much all of them, actually.

      • Lobosolitario says:

        I don’t think you understood my comment. It wasn’t about whether the game was risky or not – personally I enjoy both kinds of games depending on what mood I’m in. What I was talking about was the idea that you can use things like bounty systems and in-game law enforcement to control how players attack each other.

        If you were in UO, you know full well that the systems put in place early on to deal with PKing didn’t really work, and indeed often had the opposite effect. This due to the fact that someone playing to grief others doesn’t really give a hoot about the content of the game – gold, xp, in-game objects, their player character… these are just tools to an end, with no emotional value and easily replaceable. How can you stop someone from attacking others in “safe” areas if none of the penalties they can suffer matter to them? Even in the worst of cases, they can open a new account, roll a new character, and do it all over again – at most (and extremely unlikely) having to pay the financial penalty of a new sub, which is peanuts to some people.

        TL;DR – this isn’t about whether griefing is good or bad, it’s about not repeating the same mistakes in game system design that other people already made. Trying for a game which allows for free PvP everywhere and still caters for non-PvPers is a lofty goal, and power to their elbow. A bounty system won’t make it work though.

    • Arglebargle says:

      This. Those greifer assholes are not playing the same game as everyone else, so the punishments and restrictions don’t have the same weight for them as other players. I wonder what the space equivalent of a naked guy with a dagger will end up being?

  9. wodin says:

    Good seems like this universe thing is just some kind of matchmaking system dressed up..

    The hit thing strikes me as odd in away as aslong as both players are on at the same time which could be an issue you will always either find your target or be found depending on who you are.

    When you read alot of threads on the forums you realise the game they think their getting isn’t actually the game they will get. Chris hasn’t been making out it was anything other than what it will be but alot of people seemed to miss what he was putting forward and are thinking huge MMO space sim like EVE but with sim like combat..which it isn’t.

    The single player side of it is what I’m interested in and I’ve been worried it’s a side issue for awhile..and have mentioned it several times. Still I backed it…but not silly money like alot of people have done..

  10. pupsikaso says:

    Um… reading the first paragraph gives me the strongest deja vu ever. Haven’t we read this somewhere before already? Those EXACT same words?

    • Psyke says:

      Oh, good. I thought I went crazy some time ago and didn’t notice.

    • LTK says:

      I’m pretty sure that’s because the highlights of this interview were already posted on RPS in advance. They’re down there somewhere, I just can’t be bothered to find them.

  11. iZen says:

    I read all this a week or so ago, how can it be an “interview” of yours?

  12. EvilHungarian says:

    brb, doubling my pledge on Kickstarter.

  13. Arglebargle says:

    Roberts does talk well. I can sorta see how he’s managed to get everyone revving hard.

    Still, talked to more of my Origin contacts, and it still seems pretty iffy. — Could occasionally create the good game, but that was usually when he didn’t pick the team he was working with. Egomanic, prefered to be surrounded by yes men. Always wanted out of the gaming ghetto to make ‘real movies’.

    Maybe he’s gotten better and wiser over the years. Pledgors should probably hope so.

    • RakeShark says:

      If there was an ego to deflate, I’m sure the movie era would have done it.

      And most of the ex-Origin people I know, met, and shook hands with have very nice things to say about Roberts, even when he’s not around. I challenge my ex-Origin people against yours, good sir.

      • Arglebargle says:

        You’d probably lose, but it’s the internet, so no telling…

        Most people in the business won’t get caught publicly complaining about their co-workers’ and bosses’ problems, because, well, they’d like to continue working in the business. Real opinions come out only in very off the record conversations.

        Maybe Roberts has come around to love games again, and is going to plop out a tremendous game. But the general ‘prodigal Messiah-has-returned’ attitude seems to be fed more by hope and nostalgia. And it is always hard for the real thing to trump that nostalgic afterglow. Even if you are actually good.

    • Papa_Dragon says:

      Biff Tannen (ok, Tom Wilson) says the man is a genius: link to
      Your argument is invalid.

      • Arglebargle says:

        That ‘genius’ made Wing Commander the movie. Go watch it again…. I dare ya!

        • Papa_Dragon says:

          I saw it, descent movie with it’s flaws. Good at the time.
          Also, he is not happy about it, mate: link to

          He also was a producer for “Lord of War” and “Lucky Number Slevin”.

  14. Shralla says:

    “why Roberts doesn’t think this will become some crazy political struggle ala EVE Online”

    Then I just don’t care, sorry Roberts. I’ll wait for Infinity: Quest for Earth.

  15. Captchist says:

    What’s the budget on this game again?

  16. Metalhead9806 says:

    I have faith that the single player “Safe” stuff will be doable with the amount of money Roberts is asking for. However I think a full on persistent universe with everyone playing on one server is impossible.

    Sure CCP Does it with EVE because that’s a MMORPG! You have to pay monthly for that game. I think Star Citizen should be scaled back a bit. Let people host their own servers, have each server cap at 50-100 and thats it. Let a lot of the economic stuff be handled by the AI.

    Basically do what other games like X3 and Evochron Mercenary do. I would hate to see this guy risk it all to do a MMOish game and have it fail.

    • Captchist says:

      Agree, seems like a serious case of feature creep going on here.

      I think this game sounds awesome. And I think there are a reasons people haven’t this game before now and it’s not for lack of 12 million bucks and some good ideas.

  17. Shepard says:

    I am glad Star Citizen is built with a thought to have military conflicts between few dozen people instead of like in eve all you see is freaking little icons on the screen.. Whats the point in those big scale battles? I’d rather fly my fighter myself and see 20 other people I can put into my targeting reticle than hundreds of other ships like in Eve and sit and click mouse button on my weapons…

    Plus SC is a different type of a game, its a Space Simulator, EVE is an excel spreadsheet simulator and not space simulator at all. You dont fly your ship. Your human skills mean nothing. The only thing that means is how many years you’ve trained your skills offline and if your ship has tier 2 or tier 3 equipment. Glad that Chris is making this game. Finally a great Space Sim.

  18. MrUnimport says:

    I just want to know what kind of story Squadron 42 has. It’ll be very difficult to care about a space sim if all it is is DESTROY THE ENEMY TEAM, GOOD LUCK PILOT over and over again, like his World of Tanks comment seems to suggest.

  19. Dionysus84 says:

    You could all say, “Let’s go to Earth” at a particular time, but when you’re on Earth, it’s not on a realtime basis. It’s just like being in a big chatroom that’s dressed up with some nice graphics.

    OK, I think I want my pledge money back. Chris, you cannot possibly simulate the sorts of things you are suggesting — having a player who is notorious as the crimelord of X sector — when the world is a matchmaking lobby dressed up with graphics. He’s the crimelord of that sector if I happen to get matched to him, at which point I can warp my buddies into the dungeon instance? Advertisements before this interview suggested the game was an MMO space sim, and that’s why you have over $2m in funds. Lucky you.

  20. Stackler says:

    I think “Molyneuxerism” should be classified as an illness by the WHO.

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