I just watched this week’s Inside Star Citizen, which is the last episode of the series for this quarter as the team goes to ground to finish up on Alpha patch 3.6.

This video has done more to get my psyched about a patch than any other in this game since they introduced object container streaming and boosted general performance.

Now, I’ve heard a few things here and there that the elements mentioned in this video aren’t all going to make it into the 3.6 release, and some of the stuff mentioned in the video doesn’t show up in the 3.6 column of the development road map. As the road map page states all items are targets, not signposts; some items might show up sooner, and some might show up later. But let’s address the video above as if it were canon, because there’s a few significant items of note.

Law and Order

Right now there’s no consequences for being a massive dick in the game. There’s also no risk either because everything is reset with every patch. It’s good in a way because it allows players to test the bounds of what’s possible, but it’s also sometimes frustrating when you’re trying to leave the station and some ass-hat is ramming your ship, earning you a notch on the crime-stat meter.

With the law and order system, crime-stat now has consequences. The AI will treat players differently, from casual warnings to outright bounty-hunting. The specifics are vague (i.e. I didn’t look into them), but now players will have to think twice about hijacking ships or being a jackass because they’re bored.

Black Market

Hand in glove with law and order is the black market system. There’s not a lot of items floating around for sale right now, but there are a lot of delivery missions out there, and free trading is always an option. It seems as though the black market system will allow players to forego delivery of packages, stow them somewhere, and sell them to less savory characters. This also makes drug smuggling a legit business and not just a mechanical transaction.

Communication Improvements

A lot is going on here, including

  • Custom text chat channels
  • VoIP/FoIP is turned on by default, which will help RPers and those making machinima, but I don’t want anyone to overhear me talking about what kind of an asshole they are for parking their ship in a loading zone.
  • When you enter a ship, you will be put into a chat channel with other people on that ship, which is an amazingly cool idea.
  • We’ll get an audio widget on the HUD to indicate who’s using VoIP at us.

Insurable Equipment

Right now if we spend in-game money on upgrades for our ship, they vanish if the ship is lost — that includes blowing up as well as losing a ship to bugs. Although ships have insurance turned on by default right now, this update will allow after-market items to be retrieved at a lower cost should our customized ships be lost.

Hover Mode

Continuing with the flight model tweaks, hover mode will allow ships to respond differently when they are down close to the planet’s surface. I see this being super important for ships like the Prospector, which has to be almost on the ground when mining surface deposits. For everyone else, expect a lot of insurance claims.

Ship Kiosk

The last few patches have added showrooms to various locations which allow players to purchase ships with in-game money, but the addition of ship kiosks should open up the number of ships available for purchase regardless of physical showroom space. The road map says that inventory will differ by location so we’ll still have to shop around, but it should also allow players to rent ships with in-game money before they buy (which is also on the road map for 3.6).

Space Station Designs

There are currently 4 major space stations (Olisar, Grim Hex, Covalex, and Kareah) and several other “truck stops” at critical refueling points between far-flung planets. All of these truck stops look the same, but soon it sounds like we’ll be getting brand new designs for these and future stations. In 3.7, we’ll be getting a refresh of the interiors of these stations.

Other Stuff

There’s a few other items mentioned like the release of the Archimedes snub fighter and a redesign of the Vanguard class fighters, as well as a new “junkyard” location where players can bring stolen ships to get dissected for profit.

Some of these things — like law and order and black market, equipment insurance, and communication updates — add new dimensions to the game. Right now players are subsisting on trading, light missions, unofficial PvP bounty hunting, and community organized events that only work when everyone agrees to follow the rules. Some of the additions mentioned here will bring in a new dynamic to those things, but will also add another layer of potential activity for players to engage in.

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