Chris Roberts might not hold to game development convention, but he is one to hold actual conventions. At this weekend’s CitizenCon 2014 - yes, it exists - he showed CryEngine footage of a Star Citizen player landing on a new planet, exiting their ship and pottering about, as they will do in the finished space sim.
The player in the demo requests landing on a nearby planet, and is taken via a brief cutscene - to be replaced with a “seamless” experience at a later date - down into an industrial metropolis.
Once the player emerges from beneath the belly of their ship, they have the option of first- and third-person views. Airborne traffic sweeps between the brown spires overhead, and two heavily-armoured NPCs wander over to inspect the ship.
After that, Roberts’ man walks from the landing pad into a glass-plated building, which turns out to be an inspection point run by ArcCorp - the ruling company on this planet. From there, we enter a living hub world, where we’re introduced to the insides of the “one shop we actually have working”.
Planets will be where Star Citizen players repair their ships, pick up objectives and trade. Some will have large explorable areas, replete with “dark alleys” for black market dealing or ‘grey’ mission opportunities; others won’t extend very far outside their landing area. Some will be thriving; others will be blighted by crime and graffiti.
As Roberts talks, there’s a strong sense that he’s looking back at the systems-driven design of his old pals at Origin. He namechecks Tony Zurovec, Ultima VII’s AI programmer, now in charge of Star Citizen’s persistent universe.
That universe will bring together all of Star Citizen’s disparate modules - the already-released hangar and Arena Commander modes, as well as the Squadron 42 story segment, FPS mechanics, and the planetside module seen here.
It’s all intended to merge in 2016. Can you see it yet, if you squint really hard?