Space Friends: Star Citizen’s Social Module Blasts Off

NORM!

Star Citizen [official site] released the first iteration of its chatty Social Module a few days ago in Patch 1.2, with several areas for small numbers of players to wander around and chat together, which makes me wonder: isn’t it time to rename the game Star Citizens?

The Social Module was supposed to launch after the sandbox space ’em up’s FPS aspect Star Marine but, with that still held up, developers Roberts Space Industries have pushed this social space out first. It’s a virtual chatroom, basically. In space!

Up to 25 players can now wander around the ArcCorp Area 18 Landing Zone together. Accessible through your hangar, it contains a few (currently non-functional) shops, a bar, and other spaces for players to chat in text and emote with… emotes. Future updates to the Social Module will open up more areas around ArcCorp, including a firing range.

It’s all very basic, but Roberts Space Industries say the Social Module will “serve as a testing ground for a multitude of fundamental technologies” – networking stuff, mainly – and as the foundation of the game’s Persistent Universe. This dev blog post has more details on all of those plans. They say, “The next major update will be Subsumption, which will showcase some of the hard work that’s been going into the development of systems that will allow us to construct environments filled with intelligent NPCs going about their business and that really feels alive.”

The full notes for Patch 1.2 are over here too.

As I write this, Star Citizen has raised $88,332,362 through crowdfunding. Good grief.

Anyway, here’s a peek at a new zone Roberts Space Industries are working on:

43 Comments

  1. macc says:

    RPS seems to have missed the excellent multicrew demo from the Gamescom event. Can’t wait for that.

    • Marblecake says:

      RPS seems to be missing a lot regarding SC. Though I think that’s due to a (healthy?) dose of scepticism and trying to withstand the hype…which a game that has crowdfunded over $80m undoubtedly has boatloads of.
      I would certainly like if the whole “it has made x amount of money already” would slowly fade from the articles and they’d start reporting on the exciting stuff…like the multicrew bit.
      But I think all this is futile until there is a finished game to be played.
      I just hope that RPS gives it a fair shot then.

      • Danarchist says:

        I have thrown a chunk of money at them and have not seen much change as I update and log in over 6 month intervals. So far there have been some huge promises by the developer and demos onstage, but nothing I can touch other than a fairly boring flight sim with some odd design choices. (I pass out when I turn too fast…cause realism!)

        I do not doubt that eventually there will be an awesome game here, but so far I have played two month old alpha’s that were further along. Having a huge scope is great, but if I die of old age before it releases it doesn’t do me much good. There’s a good question, will my grand-kids inherit my ship?

        • derbefrier says:

          if you think it hasn’t changed much you need to play more. It plays and feels drastically different than when AC was first released.

          • BobbyDylan says:

            IMHO, It feels worse. The ships are waaaay too nimble. The worst part of that multi crew demo was watching the hornet instantly pop around the place, as if it had no mass.

          • Cinek says:

            The whole combat balance is ridiculously pushed towards near-instant kills. Which is fine in a first random arcade game with respawns, but completely blows when you realize that in Star Citizen you can die or permanently loose your ship.

            No idea idea who came up with that stupid idea, but he really needs to have his head checked.

          • FlipMooMonkey says:

            @Cinek

            I wouldn’t worry too much about the TTK at the moment, they’ve said before that it’s supposed to be artificially boosted in AC due to it being an arena sim and that “in the real world” ships should take more punishment before finally going pop.

          • Cinek says:

            They also said that Arena Commander is being used for balancing (and… well… it is being used for that right now). So you either are interested in balancing or you want artificially short TTK that won’t be in the final game. These two cannot co-exist at the same time and they have a contradicting outcomes.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I think RPS is making the right call. I haven’t followed SC very closely, but I ran across that Gamescom clip on a YouTube sidebar and clicked it out of curiosity.

        If SC had released what they showed as a polished, playable part of the game, then I’d want to see it mentioned in neon headlines here. But it was basically a tech demo, and a rough-looking one at that (those character animations need a lot of work).

        There are already plenty of articles here on RPS about games on the horizon that we can’t play yet. I know it’s valuable to know what’s out there on the horizon, but personally, I put more value on RPS articles that mention games I can actually play in Early Access or final release.

        • macc says:

          Yeah those character animations are part of what is causing the delay. But I am only happy they take their time for it.

        • derbefrier says:

          I dont know if you were aware but the multicrew gamescom demo was done live with real people playing and it wasnt scripted. they were actually flying the ships and fighting with them. Its more than just a tech demo its proof that they are actually doing what they have been promising for the last couple years. A lot of people dont realize it but getting two different physics simulations working seamlessly together and actually working well enough to play it live ( space physics and inside the ship physics which is what will allow you do move around inside the ship when its moving etc..) is a pretty big deal. Well at least it seems to be I dont know another game that has done that.

          • Zenicetus says:

            I guess I’m just not seeing the difficulty there. Transitions from gravity to Zero-G in the same game have been done before, like that one interlude in Dead Space, and the sequence inside the alien ship in Crysis 2.

            If it’s a question of combining Zero-G (for the ship movement) with gravity (for the crew inside) at the same time… well, any game that combines ground troops running around with flying objects like drones and helicopters is basically using two different physics engines.

          • kael13 says:

            It’s because traditionally, if you were in a vehicle in game, you are strapped in and locked in place and thus part of the vehicle. Programmatically, game physics works by having every physics object be in the world and subject to those rules. What Star Citizen has done is divide it up into separate zones, so a station is its own zone and so are ships, all on the same map. I imagine it was one hell of a headache.

            I was a sceptical backer too until I actually went and met the rather awesome team at Gamescom and managed to grab a pair of tickets to their sold out venue showing this off. They really don’t come across like a normal corporation, especially for the amount of money they’ve been given. Tiny little booth at the show, too!

          • kaffis says:

            Zenicetus, other games that have helicopters and cars and people all running around aren’t using two physics engines — they’re using one physics engine with a variety of different object properties. That is, one object hovers or flies, or is treated as weightless, one rolls on the ground, and so on. It’s still all one physics system, and, more pertinently, it’s all one frame of reference for the physics engine. Everything is functioning based on its coordinates relative to the maps 0,0,0 point.

            The challenge that Star Citizen is taking head-on (and solving successfully!) is to use multiple frames of reference for computing physics, both simultaneously and nested within each other. The motivation to do that is that, unlike the vast majority of other games out there, players are free to walk around in/on objects that are, themselves, being freely piloted around the map. (not on scripted paths) You *can* simply convert all the physical calculations and player input to absolute coordinates, and then compute the physics, but when dealing with multiplayer environments where latency is an inherent issue, this gets glitchy and choppy, as you’re physical interactions with, say, the floor, will constantly be getting updated and corrected as the floor moves out from under you after you had calculated your position, leaving the game thinking you’re falling, or clipping through things, and so on. The approach Star Citizen is taking should also neatly sidestep irregularities caused by bad precision interactions, as well, which might lead to something resting “on the floor” appearing to hover above it or constantly vibrate a few inches off or through the floor.

            So, sure. You can be unimpressed with this because flying things and rolling things and running things have co-existed since Tribes. Or, you can realize that now you can roll inside a flying thing, while your buddy stands up and walks around in the bed of your thing rolling on the flying space station and jumps in place without getting smacked in the face by the tailgate.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      That demo was sublime for the contrast between the technical achievement of what happens in it and the utter rubbishness of how it was demoed.

      “Can you go back to Red 1… back to Red 1 please…”

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    now all it needs is HATS! FANTASTIC FANTASTIC HATS!

  3. rodan32 says:

    Sigh. Maybe we could call it Second Space Life or Star Citisims. Spore Citizen? StarBlops? This game needs to decide what it’s going to be and start being that. I think Privateer+ was the model they were going for, so why not deliver that? It’s like how I can now water my crops in Starbound. OK, that’s nice, but what about the core game? Sweet, I can chat with chums in a virtual bar. But I can’t fly through space killing pirates and making sweet profits.

    • Jediben says:

      I hope that they don’t actually think players are really going to use this? It’s literally pointless – the game is out in space, not sitting at a bar.

      • Cinek says:

        Game is both. You might not be interested in this part or the other, but it doesn’t mean that other people aren’t.

        • aleander says:

          Okay, which players are interested in sitting in the back of the plane for 8 hours while I fly them to Los Angeles or something?

    • Jenks says:

      I hate when designers are ambitious and try to create something bigger than we’re used to. Confine yourself to one genre we’re all familiar with, please!

      • Richard Nixon says:

        Nobody’s saying they have to stick to one genre, but the comparison to Spore is pretty apt – games that try to do too many things usually end up just being the ole “jack of all trades, master of none.” The worry is that the scope of the game is going to mean that the individual parts don’t work as well as other, more focused games.

        • Jenks says:

          Nobody’s saying to stick to one genre, but please, let’s not combine more than two predefined genres or we’ll definitely have another Spore on our hands.

          • Richard Nixon says:

            Well… no. Genre isn’t the issue here. Games like Natural Selection have done a great job of fusing two genres and coming up with a nice, playable, fun game. The problem is feature creep, and if you can’t see that that’s a massive issue in SC’s development, I don’t know what to tell you.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      I don’t understand what you’re complaining about. These are the hubs where you go when you’re not blowing up pirates. If you’re transporting cargo you’re going to one of these hubs, whether it’s up in orbit or on a planet.

      • dahools says:

        I can understand what he’s complaining about. I pumped $70 at this over 2 year ago with the mentality if its any good great if not, was worth a punt as the sales pitch sounded something I wanted to play and the ideas and plans for it sounded promising.
        I’m patient and happy to wait a couple more years if that’s what it takes to create it how they want it. But I do find it annoying how they are showing off mocapped dancing avatars as ready to go yet the core sort of game multi-crew multi ship interaction is still in development. I don’t mind the concepts and the money spinners to keep them going financially. what dissapoints is the small cheap show offs. . . who cares if my character can dance or do squats. I like the history the lore the design updates and interviews but just wish they would wait and either release something substantive or nothing at all until it is a bit more ready.

        But then part of me realises this is what keeps the people with the financial hooks in SC going. I think there is a certain group withing the community that don’t realise how hooked in they are to the dream. This is fine as its their money but I think it’s this group that the haters and disbelievers fire their shots at with the troll cannon to get a response.

        I think RPS should leave it alone unless something substantial comes out. The SC site is there if you want an update on every world, ship, gun and design choice.

    • derbefrier says:

      you must be out of the loop. Star Citizen knows exactly what it wants to be, which is an immersive MMO space sim. all of the “parts” you see are all nessisary to achieve that. You cant have boarding actions without a first person shooter game, you cant have an MMO without social hubs and cities. You cant have a space sim without shpace, and of course space ships. Instead of looking at all of these “modules” as separate games think of them as pieces of the whole.

      • Boezie says:

        Well, I spent some money on them based on their promise to:
        – Allow privateer+ style gameplay
        – Run it as a private server
        – Have modding support (I even ordered the modding manual when it was kickstarted)

        I don’t care one bit about the whole MMO side, much less spent time in a virtual bar. Even the whole walking around your ship is added complexity which is (in my opinion) just an extra feature you should add AFTER final release. (ofcourse you should plan for it, but it’s just extra weight added to something already ambitious)

        I can now already foresee them throwing out the features I signed up for. (“Because it doesn’t reflect the current state of the game” / yadayada ) making me a very sad panda.

    • Zenicetus says:

      There was a mention of shops (currently closed), so that’s where you might sell your pirated booty and buy gear upgrades. And it’s a space game cliche to have a bar, where you can get intel about jobs and local news from the bartender and patrons.

      I’d like to see all that in a space game, but the idea of interacting in a MMO space bar with other players just makes me want to run screaming out of the room.

      I’ve done my time in MMO’s, with all the unavoidable contact with idiots that comes along with it. I’m only interested in solitary spacefaring now. That’s why I’ve been so disappointed in the direction Elite:D has been going lately, but at least SC was never billed as that kind of game, so I can’t really fault it. All I can do is stand back and gape at what they’re building, and wonder if they’ll manage to ever fit all these puzzle pieces together.

      • macc says:

        Pirate gear will most likely be sold in the back alleys (also present in the Social Module), or it’s a pirate planet/base. And cliche or not, a bar needs to be there. :)

    • Eggman says:

      This was a kickstarter stretch goal.

  4. bit.bat says:

    I just hope its fun to play.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    At the rate this game is progressing, I am looking forward to enjoying the unbelievable detail and fine handcrafted features of this game to be found in its complete release only playable on a backwards compatible Windows 15 emulator installed on my second hand cerebral cyberware implant.

  6. morbiusnl says:

    hey look, walking in stations, see ccp, it is possible! ;)

    • Buggery says:

      Yep, still no actual game (beyond some very, very basic tech demos) but look: a chatroom. Suck it game-with-fully-fledged-gameplay-and-features-that-didn’t-cost-88-fricking-million-dollars-to-develop.

  7. tomimt says:

    So now they’ve made the prettiest looking chat room in the galaxy.

    Everytime I see an article about SC, I can’t help but to hope that they actually do manage to create the game they’re trying to create. It’s a daunting task to make a game in single genre, but SC has so much going for it, that I wonder if Roberts sleeps at all at night or is he laying awake in his bed, thinking how the hell is he going to pull this off and what the reactions will be if he doesn’t.

    • Buggery says:

      Chris Roberts lies in a mattress buoyed up with literal sacks of cash earned from drawing pictures of space ships and fish tanks.

  8. fish99 says:

    When are they adding the Game Module?

  9. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    That alt text got me looking for a certain extremely talkative, neckless Star Trek alien for a second or two there…

  10. Arglebargle says:

    Any Chris Roberts pronouncement is mostly about making Chris Roberts look good.

    He’s a self-aggrandizing blowhard who is not nearly that good a project manager. Hasn’t released a game in 15-20 years, abd ran Digital Anvil into the ground. Only rediscovered his ‘grand love of gaming’ again once his Hollywood career foundered. But he can sure put out some vainglorious verbiage.

    While it’s possible that the crew he’s hired might manage to make a good game (eventually — very eventually), Roberts is a net drag on everything. Except sales. He’s really good at that.

    • Cinek says:

      Well then, I guess it’s good that Roberts is not a Project Manager for Star Citizen.

      • Arglebargle says:

        It’s always a good idea for Roberts (Garriott too) to not be in charge. Go read the recent Kotaku article about why SC is taking so long. ‘Menu Helmet’ is a classic Roberts boondoggle. The guy is still pulling the same screw-ups as he did in games of yore.

        As one old Origin veteran put it to me, ‘Chris Roberts always believes whatever he’s saying, no matter what its connection to reality may be.’