I remember when I saw an indie game showcased its ability for planetary landings almost a decade ago. That was Evochron: Mercenary. It was trading on being Freelancer, but grander: a greater vision than what was possible back in the day.
Watching Star Citizen's latest livestream reminded me of that moment, where you start to believe for a second that things beyond the current scope of possibility might actually be possible.
The Pupil to Planet video, which you can view below, is responsible for that. It starts from the iris of an in-game character and continues to zoom out, showcasing the scale and depth of the game's procedural generation without a single hitch.
The seamless transition throughout the procedurally generated worlds kicks off at the beginning of the video, but from 3m:18s in you can also see a seamless transition from space to landing on a planet, from the standard perspective you'd have if you were flying a craft.
It's a double-whammy: the first video shows the theoretical possibilities, the "hey this is what our engine can do" moment.
And then the second, which is a live demo running on an internal build of Star Citizen, showcases how possible it actually is.
There's a lot of questions that remain unanswered and people are starting to wake up to the fact that procedural generation can result in lifeless, uninteresting worlds. Cloud Imperium Games certainly has their work cut out for them — and this applies to Elite: Dangerous a lot as well — in making these planets feel as interesting to explore as they are to discover.
But for now, there's something a touch breathtaking about all this. I wonder how powerful the PC they had on stage was — and how powerful again it'd have to be to replicate that performance and fidelity in VR.