Star Citizen's "social module," a hub in which players can hang out and interact during between-mission downtimes, is now live. Cloud Imperium Games said in an update posted today that the release of the module "represents our first step into Star Citizen's persistent universe," and that players will soon begin to see the game's "formerly disparate modules" start to come together.
Tony Zurovec, Star Citizen's persistent universe director, said the social module will serve three primary purposes. It will further open the game to the community and give players a greater sense of what its cities will look like; it provide a test bed for future technologies; and it will "serve as the basic foundation upon which new pieces of the Persistent Universe will be periodically unveiled."
All of this is intended to accommodate a more frequent release schedule, which Zurovec said is meant to "routinely put new functionality into your hands to enjoy." That sounds good, but the downside is that some of those updates will prioritize testing and feedback over improving the core gameplay experience.
"For example, when the AI finally makes an appearance you’ll see a fair sampling of character behaviors, but the focus will be upon stress testing the underlying Subsumption, animation, and networking systems, and less about trying to give a particularly accurate sense of what a final city will truly feel like," Zurovec wrote. "In essence, then, you will often see some basic functionality appear before we really attempt to go 'wide' with the implementation. The appearance of new features will be fairly abrupt, but the full exploitation of those systems will arrive more gradually."
The next major update will be Persistence, "an absolutely crucial part of the underlying massively multiplayer technology," followed by Shopping, and then Subsumption, which Zuroved said will hopefully include the release of a brand new environment called Nyx. "More details will be provided on these updates as they get closer, but that’s the basic roadmap for the near future," he wrote. "In between the major releases it’s quite possible that you’ll see smaller revisions since delivering content becomes far easier as more and more of the underlying foundation comes online."