Blast Off! Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 Released

“Scramble interceptors, make it so, call all cars, send in the clowns, and 3 2 1 blast off!” is what I imagine Chris Roberts shouted before smashing a big red button to launch Alpha 2.0 of Star Citizen [official site] on Saturday. “Nyoooommkkrrrrkkk!” he might have added, dashing around, his arms swept back like a sleek space fighter. I know that’s what I’d do, though you’ll need to give me $100 million to see that. Oh, yes! Its pre-order-o-crowdfunding has now passed $100 million too. “KERBLAMMOBLAM!” A weekend of milestones!

Alpha 2.0 is Cloud Imperium Games starting to pull together strands of their whole ‘many games in one shared universe’ thing. It brings multi-crew ships so you and your pals can pootle around together, first-person shooty-shooting, new locations, new flyable ships, new missions scattered around its space, new flight modes, and more.

It’s pretty impressive that all these bits are coming together in one seamless game world, though of course this is still only an alpha. I’m seeing reports of poor performance and crashes with alpha 2.0 from some.

“Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 will evolve as development continues, based on our plans for expanding game features and mechanics… and of course the testing and feedback provided by players,” say developers Cloud Imperium Games. “This release should give you your first taste of Star Citizen’s future. We believe this is a very special release, and we can’t wait to see what you think!”

They’ve got a whole lot more to add. Here, look, if I just link you to this thing what Alec wrote about what Star Citizen is and why it’s controversial to some, I don’t have to get into all that myself.

Alpha 2.0’s launch announcement and brief patch notes are over here, and here’s a vid:

44 Comments

  1. Det. Bullock says:

    Rather than “Engage!” the first thing I thought was “Ludicrous speed!”

    • guygodbois00 says:

      “And what do we got on this thing? QuisineArts?”

      • Daemoroth says:

        “Why are you preparing? You’re always preparing. Just go!”

  2. jasta85 says:

    alpha 2.0 is basically the sandbox where they’ll be testing out features that will go into the persistent universe. It’s buggy, it crashes, and it will definitely get ton of changes in the future, but it’s also a nice little sneak peak into what the potential of the final game will be.

    I’m not all that interested in its current state but will probably have more fun once they introduce more advanced mechanics like mining and salvaging.

    • Cinek says:

      Isn’t it already a target platform on which they’ll keep on adding new features until it grows into a proper Persistent Universe? I never heard anything about this being a “sandbox where they’ll be testing out features“.

      • Praetor says:

        It’s sort both. There’s a Public Test Universe (PTU) where a select few thousand or so can test out raw builds and submit bug reports and feedback. When CIG are happy that a build is reasonably stable, they’ll push it to the Persistent Universe (PU) that anyone who has bought a game package (from $45US) can play.

        This allows the backers to play, stress test the servers, and submit feedback as the game continues to develop. It’s still pre-alpha, so there’s a still a lot of bugs, missing feautures (which will bring fresh bugs with them) and balancing to do.

        If you like your steak blue, it’s a lot of fun. If you prefer something a bit more cooked, you might want to hold off for a year or so. They’ve been working on it for three years thus far, but in modern game development, that’s still a very short period of time.

        • Cinek says:

          PTU is just a test server, like any other test server in other games. They put the updates there before pushing them onto the public build.

        • Premium User Badge

          Aerothorn says:

          Small correction: I definitely backed for less than $45 and still have beta access, fWIW (not sure the exact number as it wasn’t kickstarter and who knows where that number is now).

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            That’s perfectly possible, prices slightly increased compared to the early days.

  3. MrLoque says:

    Judging by the framerate I’d say it needs a Nasa computer.

    • Morlock says:

      Thinking machine supercomputers.

    • tomimt says:

      A lot of the frame rate issues in it seem to come from their server side. I tried the current release with the “solo” mode trick found in Reddit and got far more stable frame rates around 25-30 FPS where as connected it goes to to below 10 most of the time.

      • EhexT says:

        The offline mode hack is really good. It let’s you play the game and see that there’s an actual game underneath the horrendous thing running on their servers. Solo mode is actually fun if you managed to luck out and get one of the ships that have a functional EVA animation.

    • Dr_Barnowl says:

      It’s certainly the first game that has made my GTX 980Ti limber up and run the “dustbuster” up to full revolutions…

    • Praetor says:

      There is a lot of optimisation yet to be done, but most of that can’t happen until all of the pieces are in place.

      The ship models are improving though- the constellation just lost 500K polys and looks a lot better for it, and the new idris frigate has the same poly count as the (admitedly over-wrought) freelancer, though that is being revised too.

  4. DarkLiberator says:

    Despite the crashing issues and serverside framerate issues (Sometimes I’ve seen as low as 10, or as high as 60, so thy need to obviously work on serverside kinks), been actually having fun with the alpha.

    My favorite moment was using my Gladius’s quantum drive to travel to Yela. I was admiring the asteroid field when this Constellation starts taking shots at me, so I moved through the field to avoid his shots. The Constellation stayed above the field and was using his turret gunners (he definitely had at least one extra gunner). So left the field and went at it and we had this pretty cool dogfight, but the Connie couldn’t out maneuver me and finally managed to defeat it. The explosion was glorious. I’m sold on the game.

    Playing with buddies is a pain though, you have to join the same instance through the menu, and I can’t wait till they implement a proper party system.

    • tripwired says:

      Hehe, that does sound cool, hopefully the game will provide a framework for interesting experiences like that

    • 0positivo says:

      I think it was me and my pal! I was in the top turret, and he engaged what looked like a pair of gladius near the rings (hard to tell from the turret’s cockpit). I managed to ice one of them, but completely lost sight of it, then suddently we died and had no idea why! That little fight was pretty sweet. If only my friend had figured out how to activate the missiles, or we had an extra gunner on the bottom, maybe that fight could have ended differently :p

  5. iainl says:

    That’s the first I’ve see on SC in a while. Since when did it go so heavy on the shooty man thing? I quite fancied trying it as a spaceship simulator once it’s finished, but not if it spends half its time being Destiny without Bungie’s impeccable understanding of satisfying shooting mechanics.

    • Praetor says:

      The idea has been a ‘first person universe’ for a long time, it’s one of the reasons they use a heavily modified version of the Cry Engine. They have expanded the FPS side of things, which I did have some reservations about as well, but ultimately could be a good thing- adding agency to players as people in the universe will help with immersion a lot.

      That being said, I really want the ship stuff done first.

    • Bone says:

      Where do you get the impression that it’s focused around the FPS features? Only one of the ~20 Points of interest in the playable solar system is an outpost with spawning weapons inside. Also the idea is that it’s not a seperation It’s you getting out of the ship to do things an astronaut could do, or doing things a soldier could do, but especially in the SC universe portion it seems like you can do nothing but dogfighting if you so desire.

      • iainl says:

        An awful lot of that trailer is people wandering around shooting stuff, rather than spaceships flying.

        Which I’ll happily admit is more indicative of where they’ve been making progress, rather than how the game will end up balancing things to do, but it’s a bit off-putting.

        • TheOx129 says:

          I wonder if part of the reason they’re showing off the FPS stuff – besides trying to emphasize the “seamless first-person experience” – is to show that they (apparently) finally squashed the bug related to aiming that was creating a bunch of headaches. From what I remember, they encountered some bug that was preventing guns from shooting straight (i.e., where you pointed and clicked was *not* where the bullets went), and they had difficulty fixing it for months, even with some of the original CryEngine programmers at CIG.

        • EhexT says:

          It’s absolutely representative. (Almost?) Every single mission in the game as it is now requires you to EVA. If you’re using a joystick? Too bad, you’ll have to switch to the mouse constantly. If you’re flying a small ship with bad EVA animations (there’s several), too bad – you’ll have to suicide to get back in your ship a lot.

          The early ship design really shows that the game was NOT conceived with EVA in mind at all and forcing that mechanic into every mission and into every ship breaks a lot of designs.

      • vahnn says:

        He said it’s focused on being a “first-person universe,” which is absolutely true. He didn’t say it’s primarily a first-person shooter, only that recently they’ve been making a lot of progress on the FPS mechanics. While not the focus, they are an important aspect of the game.

        But the game is almost excitedly going to be a first person affair.

        • vahnn says:

          *almost exclusively

          Damn auto-correct and the combination of my lack of patience to properly proofread anything I write and RPS’s lack of a comment editing feature!

  6. Marblecake says:

    I haven’t touched the alpha since 0.9 and I’m absolutely loving the new flight model. It just feels right.
    I’ve only loaded AC so far, though. Will do some PU shenanigans once my SC buddy is finished dling the client.

  7. Sgt_Moose says:

    I am waiting for the “full release” whatever that means. I tried Arena commander when it first came out and it made me not want to play anymore until the game is polished.

  8. grodit says:

    so release in 201x?

    maybe i’ll just play Elite instead :-)

    • Marblecake says:

      Dude, it’s been in development for 3 years. Getting snarky about it not being done will be justified in another three, before that there is really no reason to do so.

  9. 2lab says:

    “I know that’s what I’d do, though you’ll need to give me $100 million to see that.”

    I don’t have $100 million but I can bake a fine cake.

  10. AlienMind says:

    I fully expected this. I mean, look at Strike Commander, that game too needed a [doesnotexistyet] CPU on launch. People never change.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      I hope it’s just bad optimization (it’s still in Alpha stage of course), I really wouldn’t like not being able to play the single player part.

      • Malarious says:

        The Arena Commander module (which is more indicative of how the game will run in singleplayer) runs at a perfect 60fps for me at 2560×1440. The Persistent Universe right now runs between 20-30fps.

        I don’t have a beastly computer, though it was nice when I bought it. I expect a mid-range gaming PC by the time Squadron 42 (the singleplayer campaign) releases will be able to handle it no sweat.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Strike Commander: A million man hours of work wasted. Par for the Roberts course. Except he had folks overseeing his profligate ways then.

  11. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    I find myself unreasonably pleased by this article. I can’t even start the game with my current PC, but opportunistically proclaiming “KERBLAMMOBLAM!” should keep me happy for quite a while.

  12. bill says:

    This trailer does make it look much more like an FPS than a space sim, but I guess that’s just the emphasis of this particular trailer.

    I’m kinda disappointed that they seem to have gone with generic mil-sim FPS guns and guys. The actual shooting doesn’t look very SC-FI at all.

    Weirdly, that was what appealed to me about Interstellar Marines many years ago (that and land sharks!), but in the intervening years we’ve had so many near-future military FPS that it looks rather dull these days.

    Angels Fall First FTW…

  13. racccoon says:

    I’m glad I got a my refund this year of too much amount. Its seems so far behind & still as bug ridden as hell itself. I do not think it will honour the 100 million dollar gift given with all its glorified theatrics on stages throughout its time and no real worthiness of game play. This vid below shows what it is now.
    After starting the theater of stages way back in “2011”!! it kind of sucks to be within this hold in its glorified expectations, the team are good at creating illusions for players to keep holding on & on..Silly really when all they originally wanted was around 250k or something who knows it was too long ago i got in at 700-800k & left just a few months ago, I just got tired of boring theater acting.. link to youtu.be
    You might want help this needy game by adding to the bowl of funds.

    • Praetor says:

      I honestly don’t know what you expected. Most AAA titles three years in would be sitting unannounced behind closed doors. They certainly wouldn’t be fit for public consumption.

      And the game is presented the way it is because that $100m is being spent on the game- there is no marketing team to present things in the best possible light. Compare that to CoD 2, which spent $200m of its $250m budget on marketing.

    • pennywyz says:

      I watched a guy streaming SC last night playing with 3 friends and it looks pretty amazing and even fun despite extremely limited content. Of course you would have to see the game for what it is and not what it should be in your mind.

      Apparently some people can’t comprehend what a normal development process and timeline is like, despite it being explained to them THOUSANDS OF TIMES… Either that or they are extremely desperate for attention.

  14. Arglebargle says:

    Emperor Roberts has no clothes.

    If they can keep him in the PR and marketing arena, and out of the hair of the real developers, Star Citizen might have a chance. But history says it will never deliver what’s been promised. And certainly not on anything like a promised schedule. That one’s already long gone.

  15. Mr_Blastman says:

    They removed Track IR support in this. I swear they just want to piss off all joystick users, rub their faces (and money) in dirt and turn this into a mouse-based descent arcade shooter.