From time to time I like to check out how things are going with Star Citizen and see how some of the development for that title may affect things over here for people who may want to stay a little closer to the ground with combat flight simulators like IL-2 and DCS. On October 10, Cloud Imperium Games & Roberts Space Industries hosted their yearly Citizen Con showing off some of the latest work on the series. Let’s have a look.
Industry influencing technology
Star Citizen is an ambitious project that has grown to become even more ambitious as time has gone on. Although scope creep is a definite concern for this series, fans of the series seem undaunted and continue to pledge support as backers. Yes, if you didn’t know that already, Star Citizen is entirely funded through crowd sourcing and is in-fact the fourth largest crowd funded campaign ever currently sitting just under $200-million.
The funding has enabled Chris Roberts, the founder and mind behind Star Citizen, to create multiple game studios and has absorbed a number of developers for the Crysis-engine engine and other industry experts (the project has since moved on to the Cry-engine based Amazon Lumberyard).
The project is juggling a lot of different balls at once:
- Space combat simulator with complex physics and both space and planetary flight
- First person shooter with gravity and zero-G combat
- Massively multiplayer persistent universe with multiple star systems, planets, planet sized cities, transit systems and with trade and commerce systems built-in
I said ambitious and I don’t think I was overstating it.
Star Citizen is pushing PC gaming technology and its pushing it hard. Networking, graphics engines, physics, and AI are all being brought to bear. Most recently, the series is bringing voice over IP into the series along with something that I haven’t seen in a game before – face over IP. They are able to map facial expressions and translate them to your character (using a web camera or a dedicated piece of hardware).
It’s far from a polished product but you can play it today and enjoy some of the pieces of this world that have already been created.
A common denominator – combined arms
There was something about the Star Citizen gameplay demo at this year’s Citizen Con that struck me as familiar and that was the use of some combined arms. A player was walking around a planet looking for a mission objective when his landed ship is destroyed by a rival faction.
Watch the segment starting at the 1:00 hour mark to see some planetary gameplay including some flying with the new drop ship and some combined infantry and vehicle gameplay.
There are obvious possibilities of some layered combined arms stretching from ground to air to space in Star Citizen. This is not the only title trying to do this…
DCS already has been doing combined arms for years with DCS: Combined Arms and the so had the IL-2 series which had tentatively added a couple of playable tanks that enabled some limited combined arms. Of course ambitions for both series are bigger and Eagle Dynamics has said that they do intend to expand the scope of DCS: Combined Arms at some point. Meanwhile, 1CGS is busy working to expand IL-2’s combined arms abilities with Tank Crew.
There’s the Persistent Universe that Star Citizen is championing where you can go anywhere, do anything, and fly whatever ship you or your organization can afford. Then there’s the single player experience which is called Squadron 42. This experience draws from elements of Chris Robert’s own Wing Commander (which he created for PC and then went on to direct the movie version), Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and just about any other military based space opera you can think of.
This year the team delivered a subdued and near ominous trailer release previewing some of the epic space battles still to come paired with some of the best looking motion capture technology I’ve seen in a game anywhere. Connected with that motion capture is a raft of celebrity names including Mark Hamill, Gillian Anderson, and Liam Cunningham (HBO fans will know his excellent work as Davos Seaworth on Game of Thrones).
This kind of cinematic experience where you play the cinematic and your experience inside the cockpit and back out of it is a fully realized idea is an area that flight sims don’t really do. Still, its certainly fun to have a look at what this title is pushing for.