Roberts Wars: Star Citizen’s New Damage Model

Like a robot butterfly losing its wings to a robot jackass child

Crowdfunding’s fattest offspring, Star Citizen [official site], has a new damage model as showcased by a video of spaceships being lasered, blasted and generally having bits knocked off them.

Chris Roberts’ first person space MMO combat and trading sim thing has generally sounded to me like Eve meets Elite: Dangerous meets childhood Star Wars daydreaming. This video, however, made me think of Robot Wars when one robot has been incapacitated and is being ripped to shreds by another robot. Or perhaps it’s closer to if house robot, Matilda, had a career as a robot mortician and was trying to bash her way to finding a cause of death by decimating the metal corpse in front of her.

Well, the first bit did. The second ship destruction was like watching that weird kid at school rip the wings off a butterfly.


  1. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    “Eve meets Elite: Dangerous meets childhood Star Wars daydreaming”

    It’s more on E:D side though, even if slightly more EVE-ish the idea is still to never let players run things up and down too much. I agree on the last part though, let’s just hope it’s more than just daydreaming.

    • Harlander says:

      I can dig that. EVE has it’s place, and its place is EVE. I’ve never looked on the SC forums, but ED’s had a pretty hefty contingent of “let’s make this more like EVE” proponents. Just let games have their own focus, guys, seriously.

      • puffinmcpuffs says:

        There are of course people who want EVE with cockpits but most people dont seem to want that, including the devs. They want the universe to develop an “epic” narrative instead of which orgs steels how much from whom ;)
        The universe has a strong stroy already set up with the Vanduul (baddies) threatening the empire of mankind at its borders and the fringe worls feeling unprotected by the UEE (United Empire of Earth) and there is a dwelling conflict with the planet “Terra” (not Earth) taking the lead in opposing the UEE.
        The neat thing about this is that ideas from the players already made it into the lore. There is the so called “Project Pitchfork” which in the beginning was just the idea of players to organize a big even at the end of beta with players trying to get into Vanduul controled space and driving them back. This has recently been made official canon for the game as a “call for action” from the fringe worlds as a sign that protection by the UEE is not required and the outcome will have effects on how the story develops.
        And I think this kind of “game master” driven universe with player input is just what people want. Sandboxes are nice, but it’s really hard to tell a coherent stroy with them.

      • Rindan says:

        People want E:D to have some sort of purpose. Everyone who touches that flight model squirts there pants, then gets bored if they don’t find mindless grinding fun. E:D has a beautiful flight model with fuck all to do in it. People would be happy for all sorts of game play tacked onto E:D. Eve is the obvious one, but I would take fucking anything at this point.

        What the fuck is the point of a beautiful asteroid field, the ability to kill all your engine systems and drift silently in it, if there is literally never a reason to do that? There is so much to E:Ds flight mechanics that you literally never have a reason to use. It sucks. E:D is a vapid shell of a game. The thought of giving the beautiful flight mechanics meaning by giving it Eve like economics and corporations makes me cream my pants.

        I want to love E:D, but wasting money on a throttle and joystick to play that vapid shell of a game is probably the biggest purchasing regret I had last year. The worst part of E:D is that it isn’t horrible. X:Rebirth was horrible. There was no potential. E:D isn’t like that. It has so much damned potential, and the developers seem utterly intent on not tapping into it. We don’t need to land on fucking planets. We need gameplay. PvP, PvE, corporations, convoys, freaking anything other than hauling and ganking random NPCs in ones and twos.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Give them time, E:D is 95% procedural and that’s why landing on planets is so high on the to-do list, because it’s a natural extension on how the engine works and it’s still something impressive that many people asked.

          It won’t solve your problem, but it will sell. It will especially sell with the Xbox edition. After the sale then they’ll probably end up thinking like you, that it’s still an empty shell, but the deal will be already done.

          It’s not all cynism on my part though, other stuff can slowly creep in after they enlarged their footprint a little more, but it’ll take a lot of time, of that i can agree with you.

  2. 0positivo says:

    What I found really interesting about this damage model switch, is that apparently it is waaaay less memory intensive than the previous one, predefined state they had

    Just goes to show how little I know about programming, sigh

    • TechnicalBen says:

      That’s the thing with dynamic systems. And with people use to the “old way” of doing things. Dynamic systems can scale really well, without much extra effort or memory, as they build up your system on the fly. Though they do use more processing power. But with GPUs and CPUs this can be fine if down well, or to the lower end of fidelity (which is fine here).

      Take the likes of Dwarf Fortress, that generates an entire “world” that would take up hundreds of GBs worth of artwork in a few mbs of random seed generation.

      I’d love to see this tech used more in other games.

  3. jasta85 says:

    This game will happen, it’s just going to take a long time. The estimate getting the first part of the singleplayer campaign by the end of the year. Full release most likely won’t happen till the end of 2016 at the earliest, most likely 2017. It’s a long road but so long as they eventually deliver it will be worth it.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      It makes sense, afterall the first stuff started appearing before they even built the company itself, there’s nothing shocking in 3 years or so of development, it’s just that we knew of it way ahead of the usual.

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Whats E:D like in “single player” mode? Any good? I actually own it but have been distracted by other things.

    • Humppakummitus says:

      Thanks to the extremely huge playing area compared to the player count, most of the time it’s exactly like multiplayer.

    • SigmaCAT says:

      I’m not sure it’s very interesting. At first I was scared to play in open mode, but as long as you get a few lightyears away from the starting zone meeting real players is very rare. I haven’t seen another player in months I think but I don’t play that much. Imho, open play is totally ok, and not that different from solo I guess

    • Artist says:

      E:D is very stale and becomes deadly boring after a short time. Unless you like the endless space-trucking grind to get the next, overly expensive ship.

      • Jools says:

        Yep. I’m solidly in the “Star Citizen will inevitably underdeliver” camp, but E:D has already seriously underdelivered. It’s just complete void of interesting content in spite of having a lot of really solid fundamentals.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          I’d argue that impossible not to underdeliver at this point, E:D too proved that as you say. But that’s a matter of expectations and other random psychological stuff, with some sprinkling of hype. But even more so, i think the problem is more that people didn’t really know precisely what to actually expect.

          Point being, it’s all relative, E:D still delivered a LOT to me and if SC will do the same, if not more, than i’m happy.

          • P.Funk says:

            Its not so simple in my opinion. Under delivering next to unrealistic expectations is different than under delivering to people who already have reasonably throttled expectations.

            Its kind of lazy in my opinion to just use the hype monster stance as your default reference point when making arbitrary comparisons. Of course SC will under deliver for those people. For me I want something good, if its not good then it under delivers. Thats not an unrealistic expectation, that a game is good, that its worthy of the grandeur it presents of itself.

            SWTOR was massively hyped, for instance. It under delivered beyond the hype though. It was a bland boring derivative game that played like it was designed by a focus group.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            That’s actually what i meant ( provided you actually pressed the right button and wanted to answer my post ), you just put it WAAAY better than me,

        • El_MUERkO says:

          Myself and my friends stopped playing E:D around Christmas, we’ll be back when the 1.2 Wings update gives us more to do as a group but truth be told I think we kickstarted/bought it not for what it is now but rather what it will be a year from now, the basics are there, it just needs fleshing out.

          • Solgarmr says:

            Yeah, think I’ll check out Elite again after a year or so, when it has some stuff to fill out that void. Beautiful though, and I love the feel of spacetrucking, I just get so damn bared so damn quickly.

          • Rindan says:

            I really hope you are right, but I don’t think E:D is going to be any better in a year. E:D kills me because, like you said, the fundamentals of space flight are freaking awesome. Sadly, all the noise out of Frontier sounds like we are basically screwed. They are talking about making it so that people can land on planets. Of all the utterly useless things to tack onto E:D, more places to fly a ship and do nothing is probably last on my wish list. They have not made any noise about making corporations, player owned structures, or anything else even remotely interesting. I don’t know WTF Frontier is doing, but it sure as hell isn’t listening to what everyone is begging for.

            I hope I’m wrong. E:D has so much damned potential that it hurts to see it get wasted, but I think that is exactly what Frontier is going to do.

    • Cinek says:

      The more you play it the more you realize that this game got 3 things: Decent graphics, plenty of procedural generation creating enormous worlds full of void and and enormous grind. It’s basically a benchmark combined with grind simulator. Multiplayer at least offers some semi-interesting combat though IMHO it’s still much less exciting and fun than current Arena Commander test from Star Citizen.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Sadly, I agree. It’s a damn shame frontier can’t design a mission to save their life.

        • kael13 says:

          You’d think they would design some storyline missions at least. They could even be mostly text-based, just something to liven the universe up a bit. Something like FreeLancer or the EV Nova missions.

          Ahh, I remember getting pass-out drunk and arriving late to a wedding 5 systems away, with the Irish-descendent mercenaries of that game. Good times.

          • DePingus says:

            If you read GalNet news it seems like there’s stuff going on in the galaxy…but it’s all so incredibly boring. Why is everything just a tiny text blurb. It’s 3300, can I get a portrait of Senator Patreus along with news of his latest crusade? Hire an artist or two and give the factions some character and humanity. I might actually give a crap about the galaxy.

            I feel like there should be missions and economic opportunities based on the news. And it’s not clear to me if there is. For instance, right now there’s an anti-slavery movement going on and the GalNet says:

            “In support of Aisling’s anti-slavery rhetoric, Stop Slavery Stupid has announced it will once again be accepting Imperial slaves for emancipation and rehabilitation at centres aboard Mackenzie Relay in Cemiess, Thiele Orbital in Ngun and Naubakht City in Eta Horologii.”

            Does this mean an enterprising captain can go into Imperial space, intercept some slave transports, steal their cargo and smuggle them to those stations for profit?

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Nah, for now it’s far too crude to allow any such nuances, and even before that a better quest system as you said should be made. There’s far too much stuff to flesh out before the admittedly nice idea of keeping up with what the galaxy is doing will make any sense.

            That slave business might cause some little contraptions in that system’s economics, but it’s really small stuff, the most you can hope for now is for some conflict zones to spawn, but then you’re going to demolish immensely huge ships for 3k profit each, which is a laugh considering that with bounty hunting even a simple pirate Cobra can be 8k, and i killed 90k Anacondas.

            Kill an Anaconda in a conflict zone? 3k. HAH!

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      If you haven’t played it you absolutely should, then again the guys above also have a point, i guess.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Random tip: never buy the Hauler, it’s far too early to destroy your brain and soul with hauling, reach the Cobra by doing nothing other than blowing people up and maybe some smuggling of their “lost” property on the side.

        The Cobra should be reached with a lot of extra credits on tops, that way it can be outfitted with some proper jump drive and cargo slots. Time to read about “rare goods” and good routes. Know that you already have all you need to fight and kill multimillion ships, ( even the Viper was enough, if not better ).

        Now try to do a mix of things, but know that you will only do only soft exploring until you have an ASP with all the lightweight stuff and the best jump range on it. Don’t ever try mining before you understood if you like this game or not, or that might ruin it aswell.

        Now you more or less have the means to understand what you want to do and keep producing credits, alongside you’ll have picked a lot of extra inputs that will help you carve your own route. Enjoy!

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Thanks, I will bear all that in mind. Anything that reduces boringness in a game is a good thing

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      If you are a fan of space games E:D is worth playing purely for the mechanics of the game, flying a ship is so much more involved than prior space games and is really a joy to behold. Also it looks great.
      However as they have said above, it’s probably going to be fairly shortlived at this point until they add more stuff, which hopefully happens this year at some point, although updates do seem to be slipping little by little.
      I enjoyed it for 2 or 3 weeks on and off and then realised it was just a case of rinse/repeat and increasing my bank balance.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        I’ve got full flight controls and have to say it was fun using them for something other than aircraft. I think that will be the most important part for me, the actual flying.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Wow thanks for all the replies. I may well jump in then. I’ve got a DK2 so will try it in that, especially as I desperately need a new monitor. I liked the older X games but never built much of an empire before getting bored. Wish I’d stuck at it but never say never again. Maybe Elite will rekindle some space love. Cheers for the gaming tips too, penguin :)

      • Grim_22 says:

        It’s worth it for the experience in DK2 alone. I can’t go back to playing it on a monktor after i tried it on my Oculus, there really is nothing like it. Especially with a good HOTAS, like the x52 pro.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Cool, I have a Warthog HOTAS and some Saitek rudder pedals. What little I have used them in the tutorial missions seemed pretty fun.

  5. derbefrier says:

    Been playing the latest patch in the test server flying the Gladius( the ship in the video) and the new damage model is pretty cool. Its cool to see dents and dings and exposed pieces of ship after hitting an asteroid. Also on the test server is the new free flight multiplayer mode. The one time I was able to connect I landed my gladius space jumped over to the next landing pad and tried to steal someones auroa but the game crashed as I was getting in the drivers seat :(. There’s also some great changes to thew flight model in the upcomming 1.1 patch which may be pushed to live servers sometime this week. Then the FPS module is due out oiin a couple weeks and the social module about a month after that. Things are gonna start comming together fairly quickly. Gonna be an exciting couple months in Star Citizen land.

  6. Chiron says:

    Thats glorious, more games need really detailed damage models, both for machines and humans if possible

  7. Didden says:

    Darn it! I knew I shouldn’t have parked it there; this is never going to buff out.

    • Didden says:

      You we’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

      Seriously, I can keep this going for some time folks…

  8. WMain00 says:

    Great. I look forward to playing this when the game is finally released in December 2023 AD.

    • Cinek says:

      It’s 2016. Though IMHO more realistic date would be 2017. Partially due to things like this – they have to re-make damage model for every ship that was already completed.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Yeah, by the time it’s released our descendants will think the space ships rather quaint.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    Matilda, Sgt. Bash, Sir Killalot and one more, I think? Best childhood ever.

  10. Mycenaeus says:

    Is there a point where your whole ship just explodes? Or does that only happen in the movies?

    • Harlander says:

      That’d be stuff like fuel explosions, reactor containment failure, ammo detonation etc.

  11. Madvillain says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if part of the reason for their lack of hurry is that these features look like they’re gonna need some serious graphical power, probably the kind unavailable to most PC gamers right now.

    • Cinek says:

      Works for me. And my PC is 3 years old now. So… no, it won’t work on average PC in Russia, but if you are a PC gamer with a proper rig – this will work flawlessly on your machine. This modelling actually consumes less resources than their old damage model. It’s a win-win situation.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Nah, it’s just a game that needs 3-4 years that we know since almost day one.

    • EhexT says:

      It really needs to be noted in giant bold letters that this is nothing new. The Mandate has the same damage modelling running on their prototype – in Unity in your Browser. You can check it out right now. It’s a fairly simple process that doesn’t require a lot of hardware.

  12. xfstef says:

    In other news, Roberts Industries announce that paint jobs and skins will cost real money :D.

  13. khomotso says:

    I think the phrase ‘damage model’ actually understates what’s impressive here. It’s not just how things can come apart, but rather that they seem to be responding to the physics of the projectiles: pieces will float away in directions that correspond to the ballistics that drove them there, ships start to spin in ways that correspond to the ordinance sunk into their fuselage, some projectiles will penetrate and come out the other side, while others will be brought to a halt in the guts of the ship.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I think the real questions is: How does this damage affect the handling of the ship, a) in atmosphere b) in space?

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        That’s the actually good part, ships have everything model, so even the thruster’s physical positioning and orientation is important, or the malfunction of some of them off course.

        Center of mass is took into consideration and different parts of the ship have differing weights, so yes, if you strip some pieces here and there the center of mass will shift, let alone that you might have lost a couple thrusters, etc.

        Off course, the real problem starts when atmosphere is taken into account, then you also need to simulate aerodynamic drag. I’m pretty sure this is what they’ll want to achieve in a future, but for now such a thing is off limits. You can land on planets, yes, but for now that’s a scripted cutscene only on predefined landing zones.

      • Nafu says:

        Good question. Here’s mine: when you’re walking around inside the ship (if this is possible in Arena Commander yet), can you see the projectiles tearing through it, and can they hit you?

  14. puffinmcpuffs says:

    Hey lovely people from RPS: you could have noticed that it’s currently possible to try out Star Citizen for free.
    All you need to do is go here: link to
    And enter the code: PAXEASTFREEFLY2K15

    • puffinmcpuffs says:

      I also wanted to say mention, not notice. But no edit button, so this has to do.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        That will let you try Arena Commander, but you have to buy a ship / pledge in order to use it and to explore it in the hangar. The cheapest ship is more than $50. All that link lets you do is download the client, so for anyone who doesn;t fancy forking out $54, don’t bother.

        Thanks anyway.

        • airmikee says:

          Did you even click the link?

          “With this pass you will be able to download and install the game, walk around the Hangar Module and sit in an Anvil Hornet F7C trainer ship that you can then take into flight in Arena Commander.”

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Yes, I clicked the link, registered etc. It took me to a download page, which told me I needed to get a pledge ship. It listed the modules I had, one by one, with a big red X next to the bit about having a ship, saying I needed to buy a ship. This was what tipped me off that… I needed to buy a ship.

            Generally, the “you need to buy a ship” part was pretty overt.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Hmm OK, just checked here link to and yeah, the site will tell you that you need to buy a ship, but once the 20GB download completes you will have a ship waiting for you. At first I was getting “Invalid code” as well, so perhaps the site is getting hit hard.

  15. Lord Byte says:

    Ooh nice visual trickery that has little bearing on the game :) If you look carefully, no damage can be done to the thrusters or the cockpit.

    The core of the ship stays surprisingly intact (and the demonstration wisely stays away from trying to tear that apart). Probably because it CAN’T be torn to shreds no matter how much you fire at it. So just flight surfaces then. Not so critical in space :)

    It looks nice, but don’t expect too much of it, visual trickery, nothing else.

    • P.Funk says:

      Well not necessarily. In space if you have no RCS thrusters on the extreme points of the vessel then it can’t maneuver the same as if you shoot off the ailerons or elevators of an airplane. If there are thrusters on any of the bits being shot off then I assume this has some effect, not to mention on any weapons in those bits.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Not true, you can even damage the single thrusters and much more.

      I don’t know the thrusters placement for the Gladius, but other ships have them on the wings and that is something that is very glad to fly off from what i can see here.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Also, the center of mass can shift aswell, that’s also confirmed.

    • Docs says:

      Even with the current damage model you can be shot to pieces just leaving you as a floating cockpit, so it should definitely be possible. All your ships systems have a place in the ship and connections for heat, data and power which can all be damaged as well as manoeuvring thrusters and your centre of mass changing.

  16. Harlander says:

    squirts there pants

    cream my pants


    That aside, the idea of giving more justification to stuff you do in Elite isn’t a bad one. I guess my main problem is when people say EVE, I think “monstrously tedious spreadsheet-with-a-3D-GUI that’s also somehow a troll-infested Objectivist nightmarescape”

    • Harlander says:


      That was meant to be a reply to Rindan at the very top of the thread. (I’m only ranting my hatred of EVE in context)

  17. Boson_H says:

    Well now, you are basically talking as if this demo of the damage system has any bearing to how you would be implementing it in gameplay. Do you not realise that we won’t be firing at static ships from fixed gun positions? This is simply to show off what the damage looks like, not how you actually DO the damage, which would be in a dynamic fighting environment. In other words, some pretty naive observation here.