Following the development of Star Citizen is probably a bit like travelling through space itself. The destination is visible, but with no context in the great void, it’s hard to tell how fast we’re going or when we’ll get there.
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Still, here’s tangible progress: in their next patch, Cloud Imperium are hoping to include a Multiplayer Mega Map that will combine dogfighting and FPS modules under a new streaming system that points the way towards a persistent universe – the initial promise that made the idea of Star Citizen so compelling.
The 2.6.2 update, which has a hopeful release date of March 23 on Star Citizen’s public schedule, will bring fixes to Arena Commander and Star Marine – but the main event is that fancily-titled Mega Map.
“The mega-map is basically us retro-fitting all the Arena Commander and Star Marine content to take full advantage of our new object container streaming system,” said Chris Roberts in a January video. “Once in, it will significantly reduce the loading times for players getting into the game and that’s a big queue for us since we want to let you play a match of Arena Commander or jump to a match of Star Marine with a minimum amount of loading.”
Better still, the same video offered hints as to the long-term application of that streaming system. Senior producer Eric Kieron Davis said it would “open up a universe of options in the PU and beyond.”
Star Citizen’s persistent universe will join together all of its modes so that friends can carry out missions, do battle in ships or in FPS combat, explore asteroid fields and the like – all without loading screens. Cloud Imperium’s approach has been to build key modules separately from each other, and it’s been a long wait to see the game’s many elements sewn together.
As the developers say themselves: “It’s here in the PU that you begin to see the real promise of Star Citizen.”