Star Citizen FPS, Social Features Coming “In Short Order”

Star Citizen [official site] is like the videogame eight-year-olds design on notebook paper when they’re supposed to be doing homework, only with actual development expertise and money behind it. That alone makes it fascinating. In his latest “Letter from the Chairman“, chief eight-year-old Chris Roberts says that they’ll soon be pulling those disparate notebook pages together, with “Arena Commander 1.1 (now with REC!), the FPS module and the so-called ‘social module,’ our first foray into the persistent universe” all due soon.

So far the Star Citizen you can play contains only a spot of dogfighting, but the eventual game is aiming to be multiple games in one, with separate parts made by different studios. The idea is that eventually you’ll be able to explore a universe, land on planets, take part in first-person combat, and live out the rest of your days in the Han Solo lifestyle reality has thus far denied you.

What I would really like to talk about today is what an exciting time this is in Star Citizen’s development. Building our universe is already the most creatively satisfying thing I’ve ever done. But the coming months are going to be something else. Without sharing internal target dates, I will tell you that we are entering into the tightest schedule we’ve ever had for public releases.

Meanwhile REC, mentioned above as coming in Arena Commander 1.1, is Star Citizen’s ‘Rental Equipment Credits’, which are a form of in-game currency earned by playing PvP that can then be spent to rent in-game ships for a week. This is important because those ships require real money to be bought permanently, and sometimes a lot of money. The proposed system has come under criticism by the player base however because it still splits users into haves and have-nots, since the amount of credits earned is tied to performance in multiplayer and the PvP currently has no matchmaking. It’s possible you’ll join a fight, be paired against someone who has spent a lot of money on a much better ship, be crushed by them, and struggle to earn enough to ever improve your chances.

In this latest update, Roberts doesn’t say much more about the system – he responded earlier via the forum – only re-stating a commitment to not making something rubbish:

Finally, I know that everyone is expecting me to talk more about Rental Equipment Credits. I took part in the heated discussion over the weekend and one of our priorities this week was clarifying some of the confusion about the system. I don’t have much to add right now, but I do want to stress: we asked for your feedback because we genuinely wanted it. A sincere thank you to everyone who provided that feedback. I’ll stress: we’re going to create a system that’s fun, not one that hurts players.

Matchmaking is planned for a later update, but it seems likely that REC will remain an imperfect system when it’s first included in the next Arena Commander update.

Roberts won’t share specific target dates for any of the above, but I’m itching to see this thing come together – for better or worse.

43 Comments

  1. jasta85 says:

    I’m a backer of star citizen but I’m perfectly content to just wait for the finished game to come out. I have some friends who have poured dozens of hours into arena commander but I feel like i’ll have burnt myself out before the game even releases if I play too much of it.

    Either way, I enjoy reading the updates, CIG is one of the most open developers in communicating the progress of their game to their players.

    • Vin_Howard says:

      Meh, I barely touched AC because I find playing a game at 10fps to not be enjoyable. Time to upgrade my cpu >_>

    • Cometer says:

      People turn everything into a drama.
      If they wanted to they could have kept the ships locked to your pledge as it has been up until now.
      In fact they promised backers that ships would only be available depending on your package. They are implementing this system now to allow everyone access to content.
      Anyway, some people seem to be so focused on the now, that they didn’t even took the time to understand what their goal is. The bigger picture.
      Its quite simple. They want to tie AC ship unlocks to your progress in the PU. The goal is to give players in the final game a greater incentive to progress in the PU instead of just focusing on playing AC. They want to avoid turning the AC part of the game into a distraction that ends up hurting the PU experience. And how can it hurt the experience?
      If you can unlock every ship in AC before earning it in the PU part of the fun of progressing your character in the PU is lost.
      Part of the fun of the game is doing missions and all that to get credits to get better “gear”. You work hard to get new toys and get that sense of achievement. That feeling my be lost if you can get ships in AC.
      They had to use a system like this because unlike some MMOs they don’t have different PVP and PVE gear. So what you unlock in AC is the same stuff you use in the PU.

  2. Stevostin says:

    I am probably saying something stupid but the “earn your ship” system has some appeal to me. Starting a space game with an obviously already super expensive ship “because” made the thing trivial. OTOH having to do some interesting footwork is pretty cool. I don’t mind the “Rockfeller gets it easier”, at least up to a point. But I thought this was a regular pay 2 play game, has it turned free to play ?

    • badirontree says:

      You must buy the game for 40$ to play…
      The only reason they added renting is to allow people to test more stuff
      If you just unlock items and ships, you would just Get the best of the best… and then everybody will be in a SUPER HORNET with the best items :/
      And this is only for the AC!!! (game in the game) not the actual game in the PU…
      People need to chill :P

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Ship’s are merely a funding scheme, at least for now.

      The idea is for such “sales” to stop when the game is released, but i guess we’ll see about that. Then again, even if this wasn’t the case, if you want a seriously big ship and some extra credits to actually make anything with it, the price is so absurd that we’re dealing with a minority.

    • Darkheart says:

      I see it the same way. The struggle in the beginning and the gradual improvement of your gear/skills is most appealing to me in most games. Buying stuff would take that away from me. If you are tight on time and are more into PVP I can see why you would buy a ship right away.

  3. Cinek says:

    But… it’s a scam, it’s a scam! How dare they release new features!

    lol

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Evolve has £40 DLC day 1, and gamers lose there frikken minds.

      Star Citizen has £thousands of DLC for a game not yet released, but that’s totally fine.

      • Cometer says:

        Crowd funding is not a pre order.
        You are not buying the game. They could do a funding campaign without any rewards if they wanted to.
        The difference is that while Evolve is selling day one DLC, when Star Citizen launches you will only need to buy the game and will have access to everything.
        You don’t need to take any risk if you don’t want to.
        The laws that govern the rights of a buyer/seller are different than the laws that govern the rights of an investor/provider.

        Do you really think people wasting hundreds of dollars to fund the project don’t know that they I’ll never get a return on investment?
        There are people that have no problem wasting $1000 in a project. Of course you could buy a bunch of stuff with $1000 but if someone wants to spend it funding a project they like that’s their business.

        If you think crowd funding is a way to pre order stuff than you have a distorted view of what crowd funding is.
        Most people know the risks and know that the project can fail and if it does we the backers will get nothing.

        In your case just wait for the finished game in 2016 or 2017. And then if they have expensive day one DLC I’ll be complaining as well.

  4. ScottTFrazer says:

    I’ll remain cautiously optimistic at best.

    I still don’t see how they are going to reconcile people buying US$500 ships with “being able to earn those ships in-game” without making the grind required to do so un-fun.

    Also: Will I be able to just toodle about the galaxy without getting ganked by assholes? I don’t play open Elite when I’m trading because I actually want to have some fun.

    • Danarchist says:

      From what I understand there will be hot sectors where you can be “ganked” but you will be able to easily avoid these. The largest “guild” running so far is strictly pve and focused on exploration, mining, and trading. Myself I like space trucking and do quite a bit of it in Elite. There is something almost meditative about it to be honest and having “Cmdr 4tehlulz” attack me every 30 seconds would pretty much ruin the game for me.
      Since I have gotten older, and too slow/busy to pvp well anymore, I think games should have two servers: “Dudebro’s” and “Crotechyolbastards”

      • Humanji says:

        They’ve also said that they plan to allow private servers, so it may be possible to set up a server for yourself or just for friends.

    • Sir Motorsheep the Marbled says:

      Well, it was said from the beginning that all ships were going to be available in game and that nobody had to pay any money on top of the starter package. I don’t think any reconciliation will be necessary – the people who paid hundreds for a virtual ship are hopefully well aware that they did so out of impatience or hype for the game or truly just to aid the development and get a little something in return.

    • Cometer says:

      Scott, if they want to exploit the system they can.
      But there are some discussions regarding free to play business models at Gamasutra and other sites and basically it seems like the Star Citizen devs are already balancing the system to limit P2W.
      And one of the biggest proofs of that is exactly how expensive ships are.
      It’s a cost vs benefit formula. If it takes too much time to progress and at the same time ships are too expensive to get with real money, the game looses their player base and they end up with an unprofitable game.
      Ships are already expensive to get with real money. So only a very small % will do it.
      The balance needs to be done in such away that you don’t feel like you need to grind to evolve. So how do they profit if there is no incentive to waste real money to evolve?
      Similar to Guild Wars 2 and other MMOs, they make it cheap to get minor boosts..
      Imagine that you want to improve your crafting ability a bit quicker because you’re pretty close to being able to craft that weapon you want. You can waste half an hour more to get it or drop $3 and get a XP boost. The price to get the boost must be low enough that you end up considering doing it.
      That’s why CIG is stating that their plan is to allow people to get in game money with real money but only up to a certain daily amount. It’s Same principle. If you only need 1000 more in game credits to upgrade your weapon. You have two options. Waste $3 to get the required UEC or do a couple more missions to get it.
      Another sign that CIG seems to be avoiding the P2W model. They have announced already that everything can be achieved in game. There won’t be any exclusive ships or weapons for people using real money.

      Again, of course if they want, they can implement an unfair system. Then again, they have a lot less incentive than other developers to do it. Why? Because they are already profitable. They have no publisher or partners to share any revenue when the game is released. And why would they want to have a partner if they don’t have to? When the game is released as long as they keep the player base happy by not exploiting the price vs benefit balance they will continue to generate profit.

  5. Janichsan says:

    So far the Star Citizen you can play contains only a spot of dogfighting, but the eventual game is aiming to be multiple games in one, with separate parts made by different studios.
    That will either be Star Citizen’s biggest boon, or it’s worst curse…

    • Janichsan says:

      Dammit – why I can’t I edit this anymore?? The last sentence was not supposed to be part of the quote…

    • Grendael says:

      Way to say nothing at all.

      Tomorrow it will rain. .. or it won’t.

      most companies outsource. This is nothing new. They are just very open about the development so we see more than usual.

      • Janichsan says:

        “Either it manages to appeal to a wide audience or it will be a disjointed mess.” Elaborate enough for you?

        And most companies that outsource don’t try to slap these parts into a single monolithic game, but for distinct parts, e.g. single player and multi-player.

  6. mtomto says:

    I am subscribed to their youtube channel; there’s A LOT of videos – a lot of really poor videos. I would much rather see ONE video quarterly about something relevant about the game instead of 100 videos a day about nothing.

    The entire setup seems a bit too greedy – promises and marketing. Money, money, money……

    • Marblecake says:

      I don’t even want to start a discussion, but I have to comment on that.
      Yes, they are making a lot of money. But they do almost no marketing. All those videos (and there are a lot because the community asked for a lot) can seem utterly overwhelming if you don’t know what’s going on. However, most contain little updates about what’s going on. If you just want a larger info dump, try the monthly progress reports. At the end of each month, each department working on the game writes up what they’ve been doing. If you don’t care about minutiae, just have a gander at the main website.

      But if you just find the whole concept abhorring, I ain’t gonna stop you. I don’t want to sell you on it, either. Just wanted to set the record straight regarding the videos and the perceived marketing.

      • EhexT says:

        Because spending god knows how much money on mo-cap and actors specifically for marketing trailers is in no way spending money on advertising.

        • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

          EhexT used Ember!

          Marblecake was burned!

        • derbefrier says:

          That’s incorrect. The mocap is being used throughtthe game, specially in squadron 42. The did not pay formocap spcifically for marketing. They areusing mocap to make the game and used some of those assets in a video.

          • derbefrier says:

            Goddamn no edit button. I just wanted to add the CIG has specifcally said everything you see being used for marketing are in game assets that will be used in game. Nothing you see in the videos are made specifically for marketing only. All of the videos and community stuff you see are funded by the subscribers and not the money used for development.

        • screecwe says:

          The vast majority of MOCAP that they do is done by current employees. And the in-fiction commercials they do are used as ways of polishing the assets to release quality.

    • Mr Coot says:

      I’m waiting. I hope not for the Derek Smart offering of our time. Mr Smart bore his own financial risk… $70 million translates to an unthinkable number of pints and lapdances.

  7. Marblecake says:

    I actually just started getting back into Arena Commander (which, it should be stressed, is not a game but a framework for testing), and goddammit is it fun. The flight physics and systems are amazing and I haven’t even scratched the surface. So…uh…I bought a Thrustmaster Warthog and now have to joysticks. Which is a pure, immersive joy when flying.
    Now these sticks sit there on my desk, staring at me…but I have so much work to do!
    Oh, but those stares….

    (Anyway: if I volunteer to pay for a starter package, would RPS be willing to actually play what’s there and comment on that? Even if you find the flying utter horseballs and think they should stop making the game immediately because you think it’s terrible, I would just like an assessment on your part of what’s there (racing, dogfighting against bots, PVP dogfighting, co-op dogfighting) instead of just comments on official releases. )

  8. SanguineAngel says:

    It’s worth noting that the Rental Equipment Credits is for use exclusively in Arena Commnader – which as a game within the game. It’s a bit meta! But not reflective of a significant impact on the end-game

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Ahh, can I not edit my own posts anymore?

      Also, worth noting again is that the game has never been about purchasing ships with real money. Flying them during this alpha is a reward for backing at various tiers. In the full game all ships will be available to all players

  9. Sir Motorsheep the Marbled says:

    “This is important because those ships require real money to be bought permanently, and sometimes a lot of money.”

    Ummm. No.

    Being able to fly other ships in Alpha is a backer reward. Not only will all ships will be available through in-game cash in the finished game, but they will also stop selling ships for real money on release.

    • Sir Motorsheep the Marbled says:

      It would seem that I am mistaken on the “no ships for real money on release part”. People with more money than time are to be given the opportunity to still buy their stuff with real money. They want to use the revenue from that to pay for the servers and possibly development of further expansions of the game.

      It still stands that ships will be available for in-game money in the finished game, and that nobody intends to make that a year-long grind either.

      • FlipMooMonkey says:

        Strictly speaking you are right as they’re going to stop selling ships outright as they are now but will allow purchase of ingame credits with “realworld” money.

        While that might seem like splitting hairs they are planning to limit the amount of credits each person can purchase each week to keep the economy in balance, so you’re not going to see a new player bring out their wallet for a Javelin Destroyer straight out of the gate as it were.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      If that’s the case, they need to take another look at their messaging. As someone who has been casually following the game’s development from afar, I got the distinct impression that most of the backer rewards were ships exclusive to kickstarter backers. Adding an option to somehow “rent” said ships just makes matters even more confusing.

      • Cometer says:

        Yes communication isn’t always good but not because of them in my opinion.
        The issue comes from click bait articles in many gaming sites. Simply put controversy sells and since SC is a high profile project due to the funds it has raised , it becomes an easy target.
        If you focus on the source (SC site) you get a much clearer picture.
        When there is something that isn’t clear they are pretty quick to respond. The REC system is a good example. They already posted a Dev video to explain REC in greater detail as well as addressed some of the questions in the forums .
        They are also considering making a community poll. But they will probably only do it after the initial REC release because obviously how can you get a fair opinion without even trying the actual system in game.

  10. Slouch says:

    You could buy an MP or two with the amount of money some people have spent on ships.

    Here’s hoping my money was not wasted *raises alpha backer digital pint glass full of alpha backer digital lager*

  11. SomeDuder says:

    Im not following Star Citizen and am not invested in it, either emotionally or financially, but the amount of money that’s involved here is just… weird.

    And it’s all to make a videogame which, presumably, people are going to still be playing 10 years in the future. Perhaps this framework is easy to maintain and update with new tech, but you can easily see how most software gets deprecated within a few years, especially games. Nothing is future-proof in technology. And especially videogames, where the consumers have so much alternatives to spend their time on, thus having shorter and shorter lifespans in terms of support/multiplayer participation.

    I hope that the amount of money being thrown around results in an amazing game, but only time will tell.

  12. Crainey says:

    I really don’t understand the obsession around this game. The concept is fantastic, but the scope of this project has been blown massively out of proportion chasing every last penny they can squeeze out of the sheep. Don’t get me wrong, if they deliver on this it’ll be fantastic, but I’m getting increasingly sceptical it ever will be.

    If this project fails it could be catastrophic for crowd funding game development.

  13. Retro says:

    He makes it sound like that’s a good thing..

    • Retro says:

      Err.. reply fail.. let me retry

      <cite I will tell you that we are entering into the tightest schedule we’ve ever had for public releases.
      He makes it sound like that’s a good thing..