Star Citizen diary, part 3: How hard is it to sneak onto other people's ships?

I've been away from Star Citizen for a while—you can find my earlier diaries here, part 1 and part 2—just long enough to forget how everything works. Luckily, a few things don't work anyway, regardless of my memory. As I spawn on the space station orbiting Crusader and try to use a computer terminal to summon my ship, I'm told my ship can't be acquired at the moment and I should try again later.

I know this little bug happens occasionally (Star Citizen is still in alpha, after all), and usually waiting a few seconds and then using the terminal again solves the problem. But having no ship at my immediate disposal gives me an idea. Maybe I could use the few seconds of inconvenience to springboard into roleplaying as a space hobo. With no ship of my own, perhaps I can hitch a ride one someone else's, only without them knowing. I can stealthily slip aboard, hide somewhere on the ship, sneak a ride to wherever they're going, and then slip off undetected. Or, failing that, I can simply wait until we've left the space station, space-murder the pilot, and take their ship as my own. Either sounds good to me!

So, I spend the evening trying to sneak onto other players' ships and boy it did not go well at all.

What are the rules, here? Can you just get into someone's ship without their permission? I did a little research on the subject, which is to say I skimmed a single Reddit comment from 2015, and apparently you can open hatches on other players' ships provided they have already opened a hatch themselves. So, if someone spawns a ship on a landing pad, you can't just climb on: they have to have at least have opened a door first. That means I can either wait for someone to board and then board myself before they take off, or I can hover above the pads and try to board ships after they're in flight.

As you can see above, the second option is a bit tricky. One time, I get close enough to open a hatch of a hovering ship (after slamming into it at full speed) but it speeds away before I can get in. Another time, I open the rear hatch but careen into the ship's bay so violently my head protrudes through the hull, and I die a few moments later.

And yet another time, I spot a hovering ship and try to enter it via a ladder. I get a bit of a surprise.

I think I covered my crime of trespassing pretty well. I'm so nonchalant as I totally freak out and try to space-run away from the ship's owner (I don't know what he was doing out there in the first place). I especially like how I flee right into him, my stupid jiggly arm getting briefly caught around his neck.

Speaking of caught, another time I manage to open a ship's rear hatch just after it's taken off, and make my way almost to the cockpit as I search for a bunk or a bay or someplace good to hide. Unfortunately, the pilot had second thoughts about his trip, or maybe got some kind of notification that every single hatch and door on his ship was opening and closing and got curious as to why. Again, I flee.

A few times, my bumbling attempts at stowing away seem to be the least of a pilot's problems. After stealthily shadowing one player, I wait for him to climb into the cockpit so I can slither on board. But he doesn't seem to be having much luck boarding himself.

I'm not sure I want to be flown around by a pilot with that level of jitters. The ability to pass through solid objects is a bit troubling as well.

And there's the occasional problem with someone's ship, y'know, completely exploding in my face as I try to sneak inside. I'm not criticizing anyone's piloting abilities, OK? I'm a space hobo. I don't even have a ship, and if I did, I would probably wind up crashing it myself.

Eventually—and we're talking hours later, because sometimes there simply are not ships around to try to sneak onto—I pull off a win. I spot a massive ship on one of the pads. It's one of the biggest ships in the game, the Cyclone Class Proximo Horizon Mark VI (I just made that name up), and while the pilot is boarding and making his way to the cockpit, I manage to slip into the belly turret of his sprawling vessel.

He takes off, and we leave the station behind. The following is not a gif, so don't stare at it expecting it to, like, move.

The pilot jumps away from Crusader with me sitting in the turret, feeling suddenly a bit strange about all of this. I'm sitting in someone else's ship. I'm alone with another player in the cold depths of space. It feels kind of icky and quiet, an uncomfortable sort of silence that can only be broken by announcing my presence or by shooting him in the head and taking his gigantic ship for myself. I don't do either for a bit: I'm curious to see where he's going.

He jumps to relay station, one where players can receive a mission, then he turns around and jumps back to Crusader. Then, again, he turns around and jumps to the other station again. He does this a few times. The awkwardness slowly turns to boredom so I decide to try some space-murder. As we're drifting around the other station, I climb out of the turret. Unfortunately, I can't seem to exit the turrent into the ship's interior, only out into space. As I'm floating around trying to find another hatch to enter, the pilot jumps away again. I've been ditched.

Well, this is the risk of being a space hobo. Sometimes you wind up stranded thousands of light years from home. If anyone happens to see me drifting out there, could I hitch a ride?

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.