I am calling my coverage of CitizenCon 2095 done and done at this point. All of the high-profile video makers have already made their videos, and in the time it took for me to get this far, they have also created “reaction” videos on top of their editorial videos, so I’m clearly in the wrong business.

There’s not a lot that came after the major panels, though. I didn’t cover Lorville 2.0 because while it’s exciting to see the city rebuilt, it’s not something that will really change gameplay in any way for those who won’t remember Lorville 1.0. The Outlaws segment was really just a slideshow of recent video clips of internal testing from Pyro. I have no desire to go there, but I will admit that the visuals there are jaw-dropping.

The last “segment” of the show was Jared Huckabee, lead content producer for CIG, interviewing Rich Tyrer, head of SQ42, and Chris Roberts, who is Chris Roberts. The general gist of the discussion was supposed to be about Squadron, but things often segued into what SQ42 meant for the Persistent Universe. Here’s just a quick recap off the top of my head (I didn’t even finish the video because it was so damn long).

  • Even though SQ42 is intended to be its own AAA game, CIG is using it as a “test kitchen” for features that need to be added or updated in the PU.
  • The “inner thought” menu and interaction is getting revamped.
    • Players can “quick ping” an area to light up interactable objects
    • Players can “long ping” an area to light up at a greater distance, which might alert NPCs and other players of their presence.
    • “F” key now has a default action (no more popup menu)
    • Holding “F” allows for a radial menu with additional actions, any of which can be remapped as the “default”
    • Pinging an unknown area will add the area to the player’s new mini-map (known areas or public areas will already be fully filled in)
  • Traversal is a big deal in SQ42, apparently, based on how often it was mentioned.
    • Players can now grab ledges if they jump and come up short
    • Players can jump onto and off of ladders
    • When hanging there, players can look around, up, and down, and can even jump in the direction they are looking. They can also carry things and shoot.
  • EVA is getting a re-do
    • EVA requires an EVA unit, not just a spacesuit, probably like a backpack (hopefully in addition to a backpack, and not instead of)
    • EVA packs have fuel
    • EVA is decoupled like the ship mode, but turning is much more instantaneous than it is in a ship
    • If no EVA pack is equipped, players can still grab a surface via “magnetized boots and gloves”
      • Movement is done using push and pull along a surface
      • Players can push off from a surface and drift without friction in a direction
      • Stopping is done automatically when a block is encountered (hands go out, feet set down, etc.)
      • Any surface in the game during EVA can be used in this manner without having to designate it in code (i.e. “it just works!”)
  • Armor and Clothing
    • Armor is going to become a “specialty item” in that people won’t be wearing it everywhere for every occasion, all the time
      • Heavy armor won’t fit in a small fighter cockpit, for example
      • Some cities and zones won’t allow access to players who are overly armored, forcing “street clothes”
    • Armor and clothing will get a “wardrobe” system which allows for quick donning/doffing of entire sets, and these can be hung up in lockers and closets
  • Hover Trolly – Yes, this is a Big Deal
    • Allows for larger containers to be moved without effort
    • Can traverse stairs and ramps
    • Will not get hung up unless the item being hovered physically intersects an obstacle
    • CR went over a whole restock scenario, from getting a large crate, to filling it up with goods, to putting it in a ship, flying it to a homestead or station, and unloading it. This will be super needed during org battles for resupply, and for getting items into ships for long journeys.
    • Not available with 3.18.x, but it’s anticipated for one of the “x” releases, as 3.18 features cargo refactor which makes adding a hover trolly a naturally and maybe necessary addition.
  • Flight experience
    • The HUD on ships is getting a complete overhaul
    • The HUD is currently used to display all info all at once, which isn’t always needed
    • HUD will have different configs based on modes and situations (SCM/QCM, space vs atmospheric flight, etc.)
    • They want to clean the HUD so we can see what we’re doing
    • We won’t see hundreds of target markers on the HUD, only the ones we’ve designated via radar or other means, keeping things clean and clear
    • MFDs (multi-function displays, or the screens on the dashboards) will get many new modes which will help take the load off the HUD
    • MFD config will save per-ship between sessions (set it and forget it)

There was also a segment on AI identification, which means how the AI will react to players. I read earlier that they were working on a way for players to disguise themselves, or make themselves more nondescript (i.e. no combat armor in a marketplace, dressing like a local, etc.), and how the AI might overlook them at a distance, scrutinize them closer up, and harass them if they’re right in front of one another.

Finally, there was some talk about re-doing the MOBIGlass, but I didn’t get any info on that. I AM excited about revamping the MOBI, though, especially after seeing previous proof of concept UI changes.

Evocati Leaks

Leaks are always suspect right out of the box because they’re usually community interpretations of official yet unannounced content that may or may not make it into the world (or which might be the devs fucking with us). Most of the time I don’t listen to these rumors with any kind of hope or desire, but this one made me sit up straight.

tl;dr (even though the video is short) is that someone in the Evocati (those in the community who submit a lot of bug reports and who are rewarded by being the first accepted into the public test universe) datamined PTU files and found configuration strings like these:

ArgoMCV_IG_001_TheMcvIs=The MCV is great if you're looking to start up a business, but I think it'd be a solid choice even if you were just looking to find a new hobby. Imagine having one of these in hangar and being able to take it out and tinker whenever you feel like it?

ArgoMCV_IG_001_ArgosMcvIs=Argo's MCV is built to be a mobile factory. Perfect for anyone who's trying to kick off their manufacturing empire.

Manufacturing has been persona non grata in Star Citizen pretty much from day one. CR’s desire is to focus on action, and to have the manufacturing be the purview of the background AI, to have it distributed by the Quant(a)(um) system, and to be erratic in such a way that no one location had everything a player could want. This would basically make the economy a shell-game that forced players to travel to where they know they could get a specific item, to hope they had good luck in finding rare items on missions, or to allow owners of the Banu Merchantman mobile market ship to collect items and fly them to places where players gather. In fact, since every single item in the game right now has a corporate label, there has been no real breathing room for players to manufacture anything, since anything players could make would either be a knock-off or would violate a trademark, copyright, or patent. You know, in the in-game lore.

Players can mine currently. Right now, ores are sent to the refinery to be “laundered”, after which they are simply sold to the NPC market for cash. In Alpha, I don’t mind this; it’s used more as a way to practice mining than it is a serious desire for making bank that’ll get wiped out during a future patch. What does bother me is that without a player use for ores, the only reason to mine would be to sell them for cash, and cash is basically only used to buy bigger ships and equipment whose sole purposes is to make more cash, or to have them blow up so we have to spend more cash to replace them. Consequently, this is the game loop in Elite Dangerous, and is the number one reason why I don’t play that anymore.

Interestingly enough, previous talks have taken place regarding player homesteads, and the “needs” and “systems” that will support such things. We saw concept art of not just housing, but storage and processing objects. During this presentation as well, we learned that resource management systems would “make player owned homesteads possible”. I don’t really believe we need to simulate turning lights on and off in a room, so I can only imagine that as players, we will be able to build our own ore refineries at a minimum.

We had a discussion the other day in the org chat about mining and homesteading. Right now, miners can extract from small rocks on the ground with a Pyro Multitool or ROC ground vehicle, and larger ground rocks or asteroids with the Prospector or Mole. In the future, there will be the Orion, a supermassive mining vehicle which…really isn’t needed in the current state of mining on the PU, which therefor hints that there will be even bigger things to mine. Why not underground deposits, then? It’s been alluded to that claiming land might sometimes hinge on nearby resources, leading to orgs duking it out and having to set up defenses against claim-jumpers. Maybe that could mean that much, much larger mineral deposits could exist underground, and that players could build automated mining buildings on top of them, a la Star Wars Galaxies.

That lead to a whole lot of pie in the sky speculation and wish mongering in my own mind. Why couldn’t Star Citizen have player manufacturing? And why not cop one of the greatest features of SWG to do it? In SWG, resources had a concentration that we had to scan for; SC has scanning. After finding a concentration, we had to put down a harvester; Maybe SC will let us build harvesters of various sizes, like how rock size dictates the mining head and mining vehicle needed. Harvested resources had a quality level; SC could totally do that. The higher the QL the better the manufactured item would be. In addition, crafters could “experiment” with their blueprints: if successful, the items would have a higher quality or an addition buff stat, but if unsuccessful the quality could be degraded. SC could totally make a system like that. And, of course, crafters and orgs can stamp their names on their goods, so buyers know who to give their repeat business to.

One way around the corporate dominance, then, could be to register as a sub-contractor. Players could “work” for a corporation, which would limit what they could make (Behering doesn’t make medical guns, for example, just the anti-medical guns). Another option would be to limit the things that players could make. The resource management presentation mentioned that ship components might have sub-components that buff performance, so maybe we can make those sub-components. I’d be sad if that’s all we could do, but it at least it would be a foot in the door.

Thing is, I don’t see how a player-crafted market would undermine an AI-crafted market in any way. As a single crafter, I could make a quantum engine for myself, and one for you. To make it worthwhile, though, player-made items would have to be better than store bought ones, but at such a small-scale single crafter would not topple a corporation with a two-a-week output, and us being the only two people in the game with these high-test engines isn’t going to unbalance the game in any way. Of course, if an org has an assembly line churning out larger quantities of these, well they would probably keep most of them for themselves, but they could also add these items to the Quant(a)(um) pipeline and distribute them through the ‘verse. In fact, this is completely in line with the economic design:

  1. Crafted items are unique and should be better than AI made ones in some way
  2. Crafted items could never overwhelm the market because of ores, extraction time, refining time, manufacturing, and distribution time
  3. Crafted items add variety to the market
  4. Smaller batches + (AI distribution + BMM distribution + Homestead markets) = not all locations have the same (quality) items, driving players to seek out certain crafters or orgs, and making the BMM hyper-desirable: a toy-store that drives through your neighborhood like an ice cream truck.

I would love to believe that the Argo MCV is a “manufacturing and construction vehicle”, because that would open floodgates that I had no hope of seeing implemented in Star Citizen. I know that CR’s vision is firmly trained on spaceships, flying, and the combat therein, but he and others have repeatedly stated that they want Star Citizen to “simulate life in the ‘verse”. To me, in order to do that, we must have more to do than just fly ships, blow up ships, shoot other players, and earn and spend money.

I am hoping that someone — internally, externally, or ideally, both — has been putting a consistent bug in his ear that a game with the massive-scale that Star Citizen is looking to bring cannot survive if it can rely on the one-trick of flying around just to make cash. Flying is fun. Combat is fun. Free trading might be fun. Mining is fun in a calming way. But there’s little to no ground-based gameplay right now except for combat, and if SC is going to attract a wide audience, it must offer something to the legions of people who want to play support. Homesteads are in, we know that, and I suspect that will be a massive pull, but crafters are also a massive crowd that the game could really benefit from. Adding non-combat, non-PvP, non-flying activities will not hurt the game, but will enhance it. While I will wait and see what the MCV really is (if it’s anything at all in the end), I will hold on to this brief glimmer of hope that Star Citizen is moving in a much better direction now than it had been before.


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