The future of Star Citizen

Star Citizen 4

When Roberts was working on Freelancer in 2003, he had an ambitious idea for a dynamic online universe shaped by the players, but which never came to fruition. Star Citizen, he says, is a natural evolution of that. “My biggest complaint about online games is that they don’t feel like the players have much impact on the world. It feels like a theme park. So one of the big tenets of Star Citizen is player impact.

“Your actions will have some effect on the world. If we put new star systems into the game, we won’t tell players about them, and the first person who navigates there will be able to name the system. That’s an example of players becoming part of the lore, but we won’t have a million systems to discover, so not everyone will get a chance to do that.”

He adds that the player-driven economy will alter the appearance of certain locations and the missions they offer. “If there’s a settlement and it’s doing well, it’ll grow. You can come back six months later and it’ll be turning into a city, which will then generate missions to deliver the materials to help build it. But if the economy suffers, there’ll be crime and unemployment, and things will begin to look run down.”

One of Star Citizen’s most fascinating ideas is that your character will die, permanently. “We want players to have a lifespan. Your character in Star Citizen, to think of it in arcade terms, will only have so many lives. If you get in a dogfight and your ship blows up, your body will be recovered and taken to a hospital on the nearest friendly planet. But there’s only so many times this can happen.

Star Citizen 5

“You might get a mechanical hand to replace a damaged one. Every ‘death’ will age you, and once those ‘lives’ are used up, your character will pass away, and your possessions will go to a new character.”

The idea is that you’ll be building a legacy as you play, and a family line that can be traced back. “I want it to feel like time is passing, rather than you being this immortal character and nothing ever changing. Ships and items have wear and tear, so if you’re getting into fights, your ship will begin to look scratched and beaten up. You can get it repaired, but it’ll never be pristine again.”

Unlike Elite, which is built around its player’s ships, Star Citizen is essentially a first-person game. It just so happens that a lot of time has been spent on the vehicle simulation. This has allowed Cloud Imperium to do a lot more than it would if the player was forever tethered to their spacecraft. “We can be walking around on the surfaces of planets, interacting with NPCs and other players. These are places where you can pick up missions, explore, talk to people, and buy and sell cargo.

Andy Kelly

If it’s set in space, Andy will probably write about it. He loves sci-fi, adventure games, taking screenshots, Twin Peaks, weird sims, Alien: Isolation, and anything with a good story.