Star Citizen impresses with new technology

Today I go a little off-topic by talking about Star Citizen and how I think its showcasing some future flight sim technology that I hope to see in future iterations of the flight sims we fly now.

What is Star Citizen?

Some of you may have legitimately never heard of Star Citizen or glossed it over so here’s my really quick recap of what it is.

Created by Chris Roberts, someone whom many may know from the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s when he and team created Wing Commander and successive sequels. He pushed the full motion video and video game combination that was popular in the early 90s to new heights enlisting film crews and Hollywood actors like John Rhys-Davies, Malcolm McDowell and Mark Hamill.

Roberts moved into movie production (and produced the critically panned yet fun Wing Commander movie in 1999) and has since returned to the video game scene. In 2011 development and the largest crowd funding campaign in history began on Star Citizen. The scope of the “game” (if you can call it that) has expanded multiple times leading to criticism that the title is “vapourware” or will never be finished.

A MISC ‘Freelancer’ – A multipurpose ship designed to haul cargo and generally be useful.

Fans continue to pour money into it despite the naysayers and development continues on the massive open universe (with trade, persistent locations, factions and alliances, etc.) and new playable versions emerge on a semi-regular basis. A single player cinematic experience is also under development called Squadron 42. It’s at least two years behind original schedule but fans continue to wait.

Citizen Con

For the last few years, the development teams (there are several) have converged on Frankfurt Germany for Citizen Con – a convention devoted to Star Citizen and featuring multiple panel discussions and a keynote address by Chris Roberts and some of the key developers.

To say this is a gaming phenomenon that we haven’t seen before would be something of an understatement. It’s still riding just under the mainstream game-media hype train but for PC gamers and space sim aficionados, Star Citizen fans are suitably excited for the games incredible scope.

Keynote 2017

Chris Roberts gave the 2017 keynote just a couple of days ago now and I watched a good part of it. Though the games immense scope is overwhelming to me, I think the technology behind it is driving some elements of game/simulation design forward and I think those will start to impact on the way we play our sims in the future too.

I personally suggest jumping forward to the 10 minute mark on the keynote where Roberts talks and shows what the team has been busy building. In this case, a planet with procedurally generated cities that span the entire planet. Think Blade Runner meets Star War’s Coruscant.

What the Star Citizen developers are building is a universe of planets and civilizations that have an incredible scale and scope. This takes whole new game engines to handle this and its no small wonder that Robert’s project has essentially co-opted the remnants of the disbanded Crysis team to develop the engine (itself based on Crysis originally).

starcitizen-2017-keynote (2)
Flying over a planet wide city. It goes on forever.

Star Citizen lets you walk out of a bar, go into a trade shop, go past planetary customs and hop in your spaceship and then fly low over a planet wide city before pointing the nose skyward and flying into space. It’s all fantastical for fans of realistic rivet counting flight sims but I encourage everyone to think just one step further.

What if some of this technology eventually made its way into some future flight sim. Say in 10 or more years down the road where CPU/GPU/memory power enable the kind of physics fidelity (and lets be honest, Star Citizen is not too far behind what we have in flight sims and in some ways it takes things steps further) with realistic simulation worlds that have the scale and scope of something like the entire Pacific theatre or all of Europe from the East to West front.

An RSI Aurora points its nose skyward heading up for space.

The economic mode for flight sims may slow down this approach but I like to think optimistically and I think this is all something that may appear in a future iteration of IL-2 or DCS.

Massive scenarios, using hand built features in places and procedurally generated details in others, creating incredible landscapes and putting the kind of graphics and highly detailed flight and systems fidelity that we already have and more. These are all possibilities.

Star Citizen has immense crowd funding and that can fund the development of these technologies in the matter of a few years what other game developers may never be able to accomplish. I’m optimistic. It could happen.


If you want to find out more about Star Citizen, head over to their website for details. And I would probably be remiss if I didn’t mention the other title that competes in this area of the sim genre. Elite: Dangerous is in many ways an equally impressive title with a little more focus and a little less giant world building that Robert’s team is busy doing but it still has procedurally generated planets, moons, and a huge universe available to explore that Star Citizen does not yet have. Check that out too!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Thanks for the heads up on SC. I bought into the game pretty early on (and at the lowest level, I wasn’t very optimistic) but only follow it sporadically. I do with the team at 777 would pick up the crowd funding methodology to aircraft. Maybe this will be possible after the Po-2 and Li-2 are completed and the team behind it that work has time on their hands. I think a kick-starter for the Hurricane would probably raise the funds needed or would be a good test of the idea in any case. I just hope it happens, it could bring some new funding, and help prop up another developer for Il-2.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I think because Roberts is on his own with no publisher support he could do his own thing and try and get people to buy in. 1CGS has a publisher and its parent publishing company is actually in its very name. Because of that entirely different business arrangement I think its unlikely to see a kickstarter campaign in the same kind of vein as Roberts did with Star Citizen. I would guess that the failed DCS WWII kickstarter (which originally came from RRG studios which itself was a remnant of the original IL-2) might also sour any appetite for the powers that be to try again.

      Not saying its not a good idea or that it couldn’t happen but there are some reasons why they aren’t currently going that route.

      At the moment it does look like third party contributors to IL-2 (Po-2 and Li-2) and the future potential for added Collector Planes outside of the original scope seem like a good way for the series to expand. Maybe they will add the Hurricane at some point. I’d buy it in a heartbeat!


  2. Yes, I have high hopes for whoever the 3rd party group is doing the Po-2. Any additional aircraft are great since we have a limited number still.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. gflinch says:

    I am not a ‘cult member’ of the SC group, but I have tinkered with it on and off, but keep up with the weekly news. I am anxious to play the 3.0(alpha) release, but I’m not going to say its the best thing since sliced bread.

    They have developed some technologies that would really be exciting in a flight sim. Think of something like Xplane with no skybox and the earth is really a sphere with the physics that go along with it. The same could be uses in any fighter sim as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Curious how you’ve bought into it so far. One of the basic starter ships or did you spring for something more?

      I’ve looked at the Aurora or the Mustang starter ships and nearly pulled the trigger on backing things through one of those. Still hesitant until things progress a little further along.

      Completely agree on the technologies side of things. No skybox, Earth is a sphere, etc. It’d be a revolutionary step forward for high fidelity flight sims.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. gflinch says:

        I only bought the Aurora, I’m not a big spender. There are many that will leave a ship on a landing pad for others to take for a test drive, you can crew up a ship with others and if you want you can steal a ship, no one really cares much as there are no real consequences to anyone (yet). For something to casually play from time to time, even right now its pretty fun. There are only a couple of areas to travel to, currently, so it does get boring rather quick, so I don’t play all the time, I will come back after a few weeks break and play around, you can meet up with the right group and have some fun attacking/defending certain outposts. The so called emerging gameplay is there already, but its not for everyone, like I said I’m pretty much a casual sim gamer and this is my goto space (sim?).

        Liked by 1 person

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