If I was making Wing Commander today, Star Citizen is what I would do.
Star Citizen was announced by Chris Roberts at GDC on the 10th of October, 2012 after he had spent an extended period working in the film industry. Players take on various roles and duties within a vast space-faring empire. Those roles could include becoming a freelance merchant, a pirate or signing up for military duty as part of Squadron 42 - the single-player story component of the project. Star Citizen is described as a first-person action game where player skill is the primary means of achieving outcomes.
The game is being developed by Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) and is using a heavily modified version of CryEngine 3 which is now integrated with Amazon's Lumberyard engine. CIG consists of four main studios located in Austin TX, Los Angeles CA, Manchester UK and Frankfurt, Germany.
Crowd Funding Initiative
Star Citizen / Squadron 42 was a successful Kickstarter campaign and now holds the Guinness World Record for being the highest ever crowd-funded project. It is currently being further funded directly from the Roberts Space Industries website via the sale of Ship/Game Packages. These pledge packages offer a selection of ships to pilot, ranging from small trading vessels and fighter craft up to large multi-crew freighters reminiscent of the Millenium Falcon from Star Wars. These ships are not exclusive and are being offered as an incentive for early backing and to support ongoing development costs. The minimum cost package offers the same access to the game as the more expensive ships.
The game is divided into two main components. Star Citizen is the online persistent game universe and Squadron 42 is the singleplayer (with optional co-op) component.
- Squadron 42 is more akin to the Wing Commander campaigns. The player joins the navy and is recruited by the titular Squadron 42. It will have a mission structure similar to many single-player games, with cinematic events and an engaging story as the main attraction. After serving time, the game opens up into the persistent universe, allowing the player to move on to other endeavours. Although the military path can be played exclusively in single-player mode, friends can join the game for online co-op gameplay via a drop-in feature. They can become additional wingmen and tag along for assistance in tough missions.
- Star Citizen's open world starts players off without any ties to the military, and promises a Freelancer/Privateer-like experience where they are free to choose their own path. Everything has to be earned via practical skill, and reputation will be very important in a large, unstable empire.
Any combination of controller input such as joystick, HOTAS, gamepad, mouse and keyboard are supported for character and ship control. The game will also support VR and TrackIR headsets.
The universe, and all the characters and events within it will be managed by a central "Galaxy" server. Player statistics will be tracked and preserved throughout the game. A virtual economy system will play an important part of the universe, and will reward a multitude of achievements such as the discovery of rare uncharted jump points in space.
- Hubs are highly secure and regulated sectors within the core systems of the empire. A hub in a less secure sector will have looser restrictions, but will also leave people exposed to the risk of piracy by other players and AI.
- Instancing will be a crucial part of the game's online component and will allow for a large amount of players to interact in a single area. Unlike conventional forms of instancing, the game will dynamically adjust layers of multiple instances in a specific location according to player density. This will allow players more freedom to interact with friends directly without having to connect to specific instances.
Regional servers will be connected through the galaxy server. Later on, tools will be available to provide private servers akin to Freelancer's multiplayer servers. These private servers will not be linked to the public persistent universe.
Players can purchase a variety of ships and ship modifications as they progress in the game to develop their chosen career and play style. Control of ships is primarily from the cockpit, with a restricted 3rd person camera view with no HUD for gameplay balance. The cockpits feature detailed, customizable instrument panels and holographic HUDs, intended to reflect different ship manufacturer styles.
The larger capital ships allow players to manage individual ship operations such as manning turrets or allocating power to subsystems for optimal combat efficiency. The subsystems of which are currently known include; Co-Pilot, Radar Operations, Torpedo/Missile Reloading Stations, Science Station, Electronic Warfare Operator, Engineering Station, and a Power & Shield Station.
The game features a physics simulation that handles the operation of ship thrusters based on the player's input called Intelligent Flight Control System, or IFCS. Players can switch between IFCS functions on-the-fly depending on whether they wish to fly in a linear atmospheric style or a free-floating drift style.
Ships feature accurate locational damage modelling which allows for individual components to be damaged. For example, if a system is positioned on the rear-left of a ship and a projectile penetrates that point, that system will be damaged and affect the pilot's ability to fly / survive. Visual wear and tear effects will appear on the hull based on the location of damage, and also the longer the ships are used.
A future set of modding tools will allow players to submit their own mods and ship designs for potential inclusion in the game universe by the developers.
First-Person Combat & Interaction
Throughout the entire game players are able to interact with the game world in first person as their player avatar aboard ships, orbiting stations, and in planet-side cities. Ship boarding, zero-G combat, first-person shooter (FPS) combat, trade, and other social interaction can all occur separate to the actual piloting of ships.
Star Citizen features over 100 star systems to explore with each consisting of multiple planets and orbiting moons as well as asteroid belts and space stations. CIG in conjunction with web development company Turbulent have created an award-winning interactive star map for players to chart their journeys.
Development Progress & Roadmap to Release
Hangar Module (Released August 29, 2013)
Intended both as an early reward for backers as well as a preliminary testbed for the game's systems, the Hangar Module let players preview a small selection of ships they purchased in their own personal hangar. There were three aesthetic 'tiers' of hangar based on the size of ship purchased; Discount for the Aurora and 300i, Business for the Hornet and Freelancer ships, and Deluxe for the Constellation.
Alongside this feature, CIG opened up access to its in-game store called Voyager Direct which allows players to purchase equipment and decorations with credits earned in the game, or through credit packs purchased with real money.
Arena Commander (Released June 6, 2014)
Formerly known as the Dogfighting Module, Arena Commander is an in-fiction virtual simulator which allows players to fly starships without the risk of loss in the persistent universe. The initial launch included the RSI Aurora, the Origin 300i, and Anvil Hornet.
Arena Commander offers various gameplay modes such as Free Flight and Vanduul Swarm. Free Flight lets players fly their ships around maps with no combat, while Vanduul Swarm is a wave-based fight against enemy Vanduul pilots. More single and multiplayer modes have subsequently been added such as Murray Cup Racing, Pirate Swarm, and Battle Royale.
Social / Planetside Module (Released August 29, 2015)
This module allows players to experience the walkable outdoor environments such as trade shops, bars / clubs and city streets. Currently the module features ArcCorp Area 18 in the Stanton System. Eventually these locations will form part of the persistent universe.
Alpha v2.0 (Released October 29, 2015)
The culmination of all previous release modules. This is where the Star Citizen MMOG began to take shape. Players could jump between various locations seamlessly and perform basic missions.
Alpha v2.4 "Persistence" (Released June 10, 2016)
A significant step towards the Star Citizen MMOG vision when information that was previously stored client-side via XML files became synced with a server to achieve persistence in ship equipment/weapons, player character clothing, and FPS weapons.
Star Marine (Released December 23, 2016)
Much like Arena Commander, Star Marine functions as a simulator within the game to test equipment builds and play traditional competitive FPS matches without in-universe consequences. The module launched with a team-based conquest mode called Last Stand and a free-for-all deathmatch mode known as Elimination. Two maps were launched with this module.
Planetary Travel - Alpha v3.0 (TBA 2017)
The first culmination of the procedural generation technology for the game, this patch will open up several large moons for players to interact with including the ability to seamlessly descend to the surface from space along with a swathe of new gameplay features such as item interaction.
Squadron 42: Chapter 1 (TBA 2017)
The first chapter in the single player story campaign developed primarily by Foundry 42 Manchester, a subsidiary of Cloud Imperium Games.
Minimum System Requirements
- Windows 7 (64 bit) – Service Pack 1, Windows 8 (64 bit)
- DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM
- Quad core CPU
- 8GB Memory
Cloud Imperium Games entered into a hardware partnership with Saitek to build a suite of Star Citizen themed controllers. These include 2 different styles of HOTAS joysticks - a high-end joystick with integrated touch screen, and a more basic model with a segmented keyboard for various configurations. There are a variety of color options for these which are styled after the in-game starship manufacturing companies.