Star Citizen Shows New Demos, Some Cool, Some Not

Star Citizen Shows New Demos, Some Cool, Some Not

Today Chris Roberts showed off three portions of his space game to be/end all space games, Star Citizen. Portions of the demo were definitely impressive, but the game’s still got a ways to go.

You can view the entire obscenely lengthy presentation — complete with a cosplay showcase and a raffle to win Chris Roberts’ jacket for some reason — below. However, the important parts (read: gameplay) come at 33:15, 48:50, and 1:34:00. Unfortunately, the audio isn’t working for some of it. Let us join hands and blame Twitch.

In the presentation, Roberts and co presented demos of Star Citizen‘s social, FPS, and multi-crew space combat modules. Each is being developed at a different Cloud Imperium Games studio, and it shows. Quality and relative completeness varies wildly between the three.

The social module came first, and it’s also releasing the soonest. If all goes according to plan, it will be out “in a couple weeks.” The first version will let you and your friends walk around a menacing, slightly grimy cityscape that possesses a pretty impressive sense of scale. However, it also seems fairly constrained and, frankly, bland. There’s a main plaza and corridors and interiors you’ve seen in a hundred other sci-fi games and… yep. Future versions will apparently include NPCs and the ability to interact with shops (weapons, clothes, a job center, etc), but it looks to be launching pretty barebones. Roberts also noted that, while there won’t be any PVP on planetside areas like the one in the social module, maybe you’ll be able to get mugged by NPCs or something like that. Maybe. At the moment, it sounds more like a twinkle of an idea than a fully fleshed out feature.

After that, Roberts gave a morsel of screen time to a demo of Star Marine, Star Citizen‘s FPS module. It was easily the roughest of the three, more a means of saying that the rumours of its death had been greatly exaggerated than announcing that it’d be live anytime soon. As people ran around and shot each other — in a decidedly non-scripted fashion, which is admirable given how often game conference demos feel like they’re being filmed in front of a live studio audience — bullets magically missed their mark, people keeled over for what appeared to be no reason, and it looked extremely tough to tell when players were getting shot. Roberts confessed that there’s still a lot of work to be done, but he noted that the animation system — which stays consistent between first and third person views, unlike some other shooters — is making good progress. Star Marine will hopefully be out shortly before Citizen Con, which takes place in early October.

Direct feed footage of Star Citizen’s multi-crew functionality, courtesy of PCGamesN.

Last up was a demo of multi-crew ship functionality, a portion of the upcoming Arena Commander 2.0 module. While the presentation itself was a mess (PLEASE JUST PICK ONE CAMERA AND STICK TO IT FOR MORE THAN FIVE SECONDS), this portion of the game showed legitimate promise. Everything felt enormous when players were running around outside their ships as tiny gnat men or boarding derelict crafts to take them over. The actual space in which everything happened was far larger than Arena Commander 1’s comparatively claustrophobic 8km. In a single quantum jump, the in-game crew covered a few million miles. Roberts said you could fly that space at regular speed too, if you really wanted.

The actual multi-crew functionality was impressive, but it didn’t quite blow me away. Once players got a larger ship up and running, one steered and the rest manned turrets. I was hoping to see people scampering around and putting out fires, monitoring the ship’s inner-workings, or slipping out into space and boarding slower enemy vessels. The battle we got instead was typical, semi-slow-paced Star Citizen fare, just with more people occupying each vessel. It looked pretty cool, but not stellar.

Star Citizen Shows New Demos, Some Cool, Some Not

What Roberts and co showed looked like it could be fun to play with some more polish, so that’s encouraging. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that, in the grand scheme of things, there still wasn’t a whole lot to, you know, do. The social module pretty much just let you walk around and, um, dance, shooting looked like it won’t hold a candle to genre kingpins for quite a while, and Arena Commander 2.0 struck me as an upgrade to a demo — not the meaty muscles and bones of a complete video game.

Will all these disparate elements come together to form the massive fucking video game balanced on four giant elephants standing on the back of an even giant-er turtle we were promised? Time will tell. Don’t get me wrong: it is heartening to see some of the fruits of CIG’s labour start to ripen. But for a game — one of the most ambitious ever, no less — that’s set to release in 2016, it looks awfully early.

We’re continuing to follow Star Citizen closely, and we hope to report everything we’ve found out soon.


  • So at this point, the Emperors got no clothes… well, there’s still time I guess.

    • The bigger question is does the Emperor have enough money to get a really nice set of clothes made, especially if they end up taking another two years to finish, or will he just end up with a half finished jacket and pants that don’t fit?

      • I’m not sure why it would be considered bad if they game was another two years in development, outside of some peoples ignorance as to how long a project of this size takes to complete. Games like WoW and GTA5 took around the 5 year mark and this game is more complex than those two from a design and technical standpoint.

        • The game has been in production over 2 years now, infact we’re heading into 2 1/2 nearly. April 7 2013 was its last update on its kickstarter. This game has an incredibly high budget at this point, meaning they have the budget to hire who they need, they have the budget to do what they need. There’s this sort of strange mentality that Star Citizen gets a free pass because its Chris Roberts and he’s promising a game that pushes PC’s past their limits etc etc blah blah *insert rhetoric*. By release time next year, it will be 3 1/2 years. Games like GTA V took 5 years that’s true but it doesn’t automatically give free pass to anyone to take that long either. What was seen today, was nice, but was subpar. They still have time to fix it true, and to enhance it, but as someone who has played Arena Commander (It was ok, but a little underwhelming but, that was an early build, things will get better obviously) and has an account in the game, who is eager to play it, they need to talk less about how amazing it’s going to be and start showing the goods.

          Words are good, but an actual product proving these words is far better. As it stands, the Emperor is standing there, dick swinging in the wind and right now, he unfortunately has no clothes.

          • I’m not giving the game a free pass, but people also need to correctly set their expectations for development time and mile stones based on historical precedence for a project of this scale.

            If you tell me that the next Call of Duty is going to take 5-6 years to make I’m going to laugh myself into an early grave. It’s an established franchise with an existing technology pipeline, basic underlying design and a workflow for development so locked in the people making it could probably do the job in their sleep.

            This on the other hand is a whole new IP with a massive scope from a brand new studio. If we start stretching past the end 2017 without a full proper 1.0 release (or at least with a very known and achievable time frame in the near future) then I’ll start to be vocally concerned.

            I’ve got a chunk of change sunk into the game as well. I’m not yet worried about the game based on what small amount I’ve learnt about the way games are made over the years.

          • It may be a new studio but it’s made up of very experienced people led by Chris Roberts, who has vast experience heading up major projects (Wing Commander 3 and 4 for instance, gigantic productions in their time as well as random other games and productions over the years). This isn’t some brand new company full of newbies making their very first game, this is a very experienced bunch of veterans.

            The IP may be new theoretically, but it’s a reskinned Wing Commander essentially. Earth – Vanduul : Earth – Kilrathi. I’d be surprised if we don’t see some sort of large release by mid to end next year, but if we don’t, you can bet it’ll be questioned widely and the sheen will start coming off it.

          • Having a team of veterans still doesn’t mean it’s realistic to expect that they can finish a game with the kind of scope they’re dealing with in 3 1/2 years when other AAA games take longer to deliver less.

          • It means you’re going to have more experienced programmers with a better background in this sort of thing as opposed to indie programmers with little to no experience. That actually does have a major effect on a games rate of progress in terms of its creation. Again, to repeat *ad nauseum* at that, 5 years is ridiculous especially when it will likely end up with more money being funnelled towards it.

            But then, I guess we’re lucky they’ve said it’ll be out in 2016…

        • It is considered bad because it looks like it is not even at the half way point, that would mean a 5 year development cycle, and they don’t have the money to go that long.

  • I like what they have done in Arena Commander enough to have hope for the rest of the game. I agree that it has a ways to go, and if it takes 2 more years money might start to be an issue, but AC feels good enough for me to want this to succeed.

  • imo – Star Marine has created far more development issues than the rest of the game.
    IF you keep to the original premise then Star citizen is coming along fine.
    But as soon as you add the FPS element and attempt to make it equal to any stand alone FPS of the day, the issues mount up.

    I’d have much preferred the FPS side to be a later add-on.
    Allow Squadron 42 to release with some functional FPS for the story, allow the PU to release and slowly add the Star Marine elements.

    Ingame – you could just start the PU in a relatively non-hostile period and as Star Marine is ready, turn the Lore to more personal stuff, politicvs etc. and let lose the FPS.

    Trading, exploration, mining etc etc can all go ahead without Star Marine.

    Secretly, I was always unimpressed by the team selected for the FPS….but I have faith CR can either beat them into shape, or let them go.

  • More excited about the impending expansion planned for release this year for Elite Dangerous. Planetary Landings. Can’t wait for that. But I’m still looking forward to when Star Citizen comes out though. The Quantum Drive looks more real time than Elite D’s Frame Shift. Nice.

  • I was quite excited to see the videos (not seen FPS one though yet). The multi-crewed one blew me away. I can’t wait to see the bigger ships and those with hangers.

    “I was hoping to see people scampering around and putting out fires, monitoring the ship’s inner-workings, or slipping out into space and boarding slower enemy vessels.” If you didn’t notice there was one player monitoring and controlling the shields at a console, which is supposed to be more expanded on the larger ships with more consoles with players controlling various aspects of ships.

    I thought the presentation was a good representation of some gameplay we might expect from the finished game. Finding a derelict ship, boarding it with other ships providing guard, getting it functional and then fighting off another group who’d come to investigate.

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