Roadmap Disappointment

Backing Star Citizen has always been about two things for me. First is traveling and exploring the universe described by the robust lore.  Second is the diversity of player professions which take MMO immersion to a completely different level. In particular, bonafide exploration mechanics, managing large scale food production, commercial transportation, operating a floating hospital, info running, luxury touring and building outposts. These two things combined are the crux and motivation for why I’ve pledged and to the degree that I backed the game.

I’ve played far too many MMOs to be enamored by ground-based missions. I don’t enjoy FPS and I’m bored to tears by the small variety of interactions games with the traditional fetch, find, fight, follow mechanics. I’ve seen it all before. And while I might do them occasionally as part of downtime, it’s not something that excites me.

My unease about player professions hasn’t improved since their culling from the original 2017 Roadmap

Before the culling of professions from the first iteration of the 2017 Roadmap, my chief concern was how many star systems we’d have at release. Huge honking planets are appealing to some but I backed a SPACE SIM. Ya know, doing shit aboard my ships. I have very very little interest in running around flat-footed on a planet. Other than base building, farming and sightseeing in the major cities, planetside content simply holds no appeal. But hey, they pulled off the tech to expand the scope of planets, a fact that pleases some backers. It doesn’t however, add a lot of value to those of us who backed to be in space and happy with the original scope for planets.

1, 5, 10, 20 or 100 star systems at release, means very little if the vast majority of the player professions are missing in action. This has become my chief concern. The diversity and uniqueness of them lead me to believe they can’t be churned out with the assistance of tools beyond generating missions AFTER the mechanics are in place. We have over a dozen very specific professions not including combat and racing, of which the first iteration of two have seen the light of day – cargo hauling and mining. The update for 3.5 has removed salvage which will be placed into a later quarterly patch. Hopefully, one in 2019. Frankly, If we can’t start seeing the first implementation of professions at least 1 per quarter? OMG, how/when will the ships we’ve backed provide the intended gameplay and hence value?

I’m less concerned about star systems after experiencing how little there is to do in one without the player professions.

Let’s do the math, even if we start consistently getting one profession per quarter, that’s what, three years to release tier 0 for 12 of them. So far, we’ve yet to see that level of consistency. I’m not sure what they can do if they just don’t have the manpower to get them done at a more aggressive pace. I mean, we’re just stuck and we wait. Even more concerning is that CR’s description of the pillars CIG considers the foundation of a viable release candidate didn’t include having the player professions. Wait. What?? Having a fleet of ships that are little more than flying showpieces isn’t my idea of a game. We can have all the fancy tech in the world. We can have 100 star systems. If a majority of the committed professions, against which concept ships were sold are MIA, Houston, we have a serious serious problem. I will find it insulting and offensive for that scenario to carry the moniker of a Minimum Viable Product.

I enjoy sandbox but it can’t replace having a variety of content types and game play features available.

Players making their own content is fabulous. I’m glad so many are enjoying themselves. I have fun watching but it’s not the type of gaming I do, not what I pledged for, not why I backed and therefore isn’t the content I care about. As professions slip and slide on the roadmap, my angst of them being delivered increases. I’m anxious for the day when the available content moves beyond FPS, ship combat, racing, mining and cargo hauling. I can only do the latter two in small spurts as filler. It’s very disappointing that Alpha 3.5 won’t be delivering anything new on this front.

I have the professions I’m most excited to see arrive – food production, medical, commercial transportation and data courier for my slow and causal solo time but at this point, I’d be happy to see ANY OF THEM make an appearance. What about you? Are you concerned about the snail’s pace for delivering the player professions to make the ships we’ve pledged for functional? What professions are you most excited to see?


Sit back. Relax. Unwind.

Breathtaking views in Star Citizen Alpha 3.4. Stunningly beautiful and atmospheric gliding over Lorville in the industrial Drake Caterpillar. Not an expected combination but it works.

I get why we have no-fly zones but wish there was a different option. Floating above the city, even at this distance, is amazing. If I could just get a little closer. I’d be right there. StarCitizen visuals + Pedro Camacho music is sublime.

https://youtu.be/vqe7kZReUZM


Voice Attack Revisited

Several of the roleplayers who’ve recently started streaming Star Citizen use Voice Attack profiles. I’ve seen many comments asking if that’s part of the game or how they’ve accomplished it. Today I just want to hit the high points for those who aren’t familiar with how VA works with SC, which is how it would work with any game.

Voice Attack being used with Star Citizen has been around for quite a while but not so much by those who are streaming the game. I wrote a detailed step-by-step article and uploaded a sample video in July and September 2015, all of which you can find on Aly’s World.

WHAT IS VOICE ATTACK

As an ability, Voice Attack, which from here out I’ll refer to as VA, is a method of using your voice to initiate keystrokes.  The name is a bit of a misnomer. The capabilities are not tied to attacking. You can use VA to carry out any set of keystrokes. For example, you can launch a game or establish your starting setup in an application. Outside of Star Citizen specific tasks, I use it to control Fraps allowing me to capture video and screenshots in any game using my voice.

Using VA requires three broad aspects:

  1. Purchase VA software – the application that will execute keystrokes and mouse interactions.
  2. Purchase or create a VA profile for a specific for Star Citizen.
  3. Start VA while SC is running. Like Fraps, you can set VA to start with Windows so it’s always ready.
  4. Fine tune the profile you purchased which runs off the game’s default keybinds. If you’ve changed any of those, you’ll have to change them back OR modify the VA profile.

PROFILES VS. VOICE PACKS

Most of the players you see using VA with Star Citizen have purchased a Voice Pack. A Voice Pack is a Profile that enhances the execution of commands by adding a significant amount of voice over and audio work. This is often done using professional voice actors or celebrities and may include additional narration that is not directly tied to executing commands, such as role-play conversations. HCS offers multiple Voice Packs for Star Citizen, as well as other games. However, purchasing a Voice Pack isn’t a required component. All you need is the Profile – series of commands you want to be executed using your voice.

Although it takes a bit of time doing it the first time, creating your own Star Citizen profile using the VA application is free and straightforward. The drawback, of course, is that we’re in alpha and keybinds change regularly. This can be avoided by saving your keybinds to an external file you can maintain and import back into the game after a patch. Then you’d just add new commands to your profile if you wanted them to be voice activated. If not, you’re golden. I always have a quick tutorial on preserving your keybinds across patches.

CREATING AND EDITING A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE IS EASY

The steps for creating and/or editing a Profile is very straightforward. The most time-consuming part is looking up that actual in-game keybinds if you don’t know them by heart.

At a high level the steps are:

  1. Pick the command you want voice controlled and note the keybinds needed.
  2. Create a command in VA that uses an easy word you’ll speak to activate the command and enter the keystrokes needed in SC to carry out the action.
  3. Test to be sure it works as expected.
  4. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s tedious more than it is complicated but is amazing to use once you’re done. Remember, you can refer to the tutorial on Aly’s World if you want to give creating your own a go. Otherwise, search for Star Citizen Voice Packs and choose one with the voice actor you’d enjoy hearing.

If you don’t want to dabble in keeping the profile updated as the game’s keybinds change, it’s important to read the fine print and purchase a pack that’s going to provide you with free updates, such as those sold at www.hcsvoicepacks.com.


Roleplay Versus Immersed

It was recently my pleasure to be a part of Answer the Call, a weekly Twitch show hosted by Twerk17. The topic was the importance of the female avatar. I won’t rehash the conversation here. A link is included in the show notes. What I would like to discuss are two topics that are offshoots from that conversation. My brand of roleplay and what I’ve dubbed the games fiddly bits.

Roleplay vs. Immersed

I do not consider myself a roleplayer. I’ve never belonged to a roleplaying group in an MMO. I don’t speak in a particular vernacular or voice. I don’t chat to match the game or my character. My playstyle is what I consider immersion based which is why the avatar matters to me.

When I’m playing the game, I’m not doing anything else but that. I don’t listen to other music. I don’t have the television on in the background. I’m not having side conversations in real life. I’m present, and in the moment with my character. I’m living out her life within the context of that game’s universe. When I’m questing, farming or crafting, I’m carrying out the tasks necessary for that character to survive in that world, and making the decisions I would if it were me.

The more an MMO creates a rounded gameplay loop and existence, the more immersed I become. I will always choose to engage in crafting and the economy to earn a living, as we must in real life. Doing so contributes greatly to my feeling of being a citizen of that world.

I’ve never had as much fun as a character in a world, as I did in EQ2, with its vast crafting and player housing system. Or Archeage with land ownership, player housing and running my farms. I adored how those two games, in particular, allowed me to take production mechanics and turn them into full-blown professions. EQ2 especially, where I went on to form my own clientele and had long waiting list for my character’s services.

I play MMOs to be part of fantastical worlds and have improbable adventures. I don’t have to be on the hero’s journey. In fact, I’m more enamored by how the everyday person survives than the fabled knight. As such, I consider my gaming style as immersed vs. roleplay. It’s a chief reason why anything that forces me out of the moment is odious and a mechanic I’m going to complain about. That doesn’t mean that I revel in tedium. I’m more than willing to suspend disbelief to improve the overall gameplay experience.

Fiddly Bits

I applaud and enjoy Star Citizen’s fidelity. However, as I’ve voiced before, I am concerned about the fiddly bits. And I’d like to take moment to clarify what I mean by that.

As someone who enjoys being fully immersed in games, I have absolutely no problem letting go of the plausible to support a better gaming experience. It will always be quality over sheer quantity. Suspended disbelief over nonvalue add realism. With that in mind, I have a growing concern that SC contains fiddly bits that to me, don’t add any particular value to the gaming experience while increasing the complexity of mechanics. And every layer of complexity increases the possible points of failure aka bugs.

My biggie is the end-to-end animations — getting out of bed, in and out of the pilot’s seating, up and down the stairs or ladders, remain problematic. These are core actions we all execute frequently to play the game and yet, to my recollection, we haven’t had a single patch where these have worked flawlessly for all. Three seemingly simple tasks remain an issue.

It surprises me that delivery missions are still so hit-and-miss. Packages not there. Pickup or dropoff mechanic not being recognized. NPC’s telling you to take your shit because they have no idea why you’re there with a package. Complexity is fine when it works. Other times simple is wonderful too. Tessa while rudimentary delivered more reliable missions than any I’ve tried since.

NPCs who need to “recognize” your presence before their programmed routine will run. If they don’t, well you’re simply shit out of luck. The player has to real way to start the interaction on their own. I get not wanting the common metaphor of having question marks over NPC heads. No problem. But why not allow us to simply select them like we do the Admin NPCs? If you don’t have the reputation needed to interact, they can tell that and perhaps what to do to quality getting work from them.

I don’t mind waiting for trains but something about waking on fake elevators tilts me HARD. I don’t even care that they’re fake. I don’t play to be the armchair architect. I’m not combing the layout of the zone to see the if elevator path is plausible because I couldn’t care less. They’re merely a tool moving me from point A to point B. Having to stand around waiting for them really sets my teeth on edge.

I’ve retrieved and carted items in many many games. While seeing yourself lean over to pick up a box is cool, I wouldn’t have thought less of the game if items popped up into my hand like everywhere else. Likewise, I’ve never paid any attention to how my feet were placed on staggered terrain. You might “Ooo” and “Ahhh” the first couple of times but after that, it will bleed into the background of not being special at all.

Taken in isolation, none of these seem odious. It’s the accumulated effect that gives me pause. When you’ve hit a bug trying to get out of bed, your ship has killed you a couple of times trying to get it out of a hangar after sending your sorry ass back to the habicube so you can start from square fucking one, you take the time to travel to a mission objective or NPC only to have that fail too… Brutal. And then I consider that all the fancy wizardry, for me at least, doesn’t add anything to the experience even when it works, I ask myself why all the fiddly bits?

I’d be fine if I spawned in the game standing. If entering my ship was a simple walk or climbing up action like other MMOs. If clicking an item popped it into my hands without the E2E animation. If starting the dialog with the NPC required I clicked on them. I simply don’t need this much “make it real” in a game.

Let’s be honest, they’re not going to do this for everything or the game won’t release in my lifetime. Are we going to strip out of our garments one by one, and put on new ones a piece at a time? I’m doubting it. Given that they’re going to pick and choose when it’s fiddly real vs. let’s get on with it, I can’t buy into the “fiddly fidelity for immersion”.

Remember the helmet-on animation of old? That was cool the first few times and after that, a bit of a time waster trying to start AC.  It eventually went buhbye. They’ve discussed several times that they’re going provide a way for players to speed up the animations and break out of them. Basically, bypass as much of it as they can now allow. Look around you while playing and watching streams. The % of players running vs. walking is a fair indication of those who want to get on with playing the game – experiencing the content vs. reveling in the glory of fiddly.

I wish they’d decided to save the heavy interaction for where it counts, such as interacting with the ships and the planned professions. These are actions that can add a modicum of skill to the task. LIke mining, I 100% applaud even the tier one release of the features. I never planned on mining but was so impressed and had such fun, that I immediately pledged for the Prospector. If there was a ship in between that and the Orion, I’d own that tool. However, for all the rest, it feels like unnecessary faffing about that I can most definitely do without.


Star Citizen Nightbus Episode 8

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Welcome to the Star Citizen NightBus, a quirky mixture of fact, fiction and opinion. I’m your host, Alysianah from AlysianahsWorld.com.  It’s been a while since the last Causal Citizen or Nightbus. I hope to return with at least a monthly pre-recorded show and monthly in-game event via Twitch before long.

In this episode, I’m going to discuss my excitement for the new faces that have joined the Star Citizen streaming family since from the Anniversary event, the magic of Hurston, re-visiting Stanton lore for new listeners and a new piece of fanfic. Please sit back, relax and enjoy. The Nightbus is existing statis. Please secure all personal items. Departing the station in 3…2…1

You can watch the YouTube version here.

New Faces

I didn’t partake in this year’s Anniversary Sale. With the fleet I’ve amassed over the years, it’s going to take a specialized ship to pique my interest enough to swap in something new. Note, swap-in. I’ve hit my ceiling on ship purchases. I know, I’ve said that before but this time I mean it!

What I have engaged in as a result of the sale and freefly, is the amazing influx of new players and streamers. It’s easy to spot new and returning players by the questions they ask. I enjoying helping out where I can – sharing information or giving a ship tour. It’s great seeing game chat alive with new names.

I’ve watched more SC streams since 3.3.5 than I have in a very long time. I like bopping between my long-time favorites, brand new low viewer streamers, and the mega Twitch names checking in. I haven’t laughed so hard or screamed at the screen as if watching a spine-tingling movie, as I have the past couple of weeks.

Lirik and crew simply had me in stitches. GiantWaffle was definitely entertaining. And the night they played together — my stomach hurt from laughing. At one point I was doubled over on the bed, crying at the hilarity. Seeing streams with thousands of viewers that aren’t a CIG  hosted events is very exciting.

CIG’s Tyler Witkin, who goes by Zyloh,  made appearances in several streams. He was a mole on one, turning on his party after arriving at Kareah. Another night he was trying to give Lirik a look at the 600i. Unfortunately, Lirik’s fidget-jump-wiggle everywhere like he’s tiptoeing on hot coals playstyle, had him glitching into anything and everything an unlucky player could. At one point, I guess Zyloh was over it and not going back for his dead ass, so he used a dev command to drag him from where he’d resurrected at Lorville over to Port Olisar where the 600i had landed. Comedy gold, seeing the ragdoll float up then disappear out of the habicube then land on a pad at Port Olisar. All the while, Lirik is like wtf man… chat, wtf is happening??

Of all the new streamers I’ve seen taking up the Star Citizen torch, the group that surprised me most, but in hindsight shouldn’t have, are the roleplayers. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered that they’d come. I knew we’d eventually see killer machinima using the game. But RP streamers? I’ve never seen them bringing in numbers, even in World of Warcraft where there are strong RP servers. I’ve really enjoyed watching their shows. You can check out the New Faces post on Aly’s World for a more in-depth discussion and recommendations.

Hurston Is Magic

As most will realize, Star Citizen is still in its alpha phase of development. Many of us had hoped, things would be moving along a bit faster. There is no shortage of complaints about the plodding and sometimes painfully mundane pace at which features were being released in 2017. And for all the waiting and need for polish eschewed, as to why a feature isn’t being released for testing, there are still significant bugs on Live. Yep, there’s no shortage of complaints about CIG and Star Citizen, even among loyal backers, myself included.

I spent two days and several hours trying to get out of the new city, Lorville, after 3.3.5 went Live. It didn’t make me angry. After a while, it was so absurd that it became my own personal mini-game, escape from Lorville. I mean come on, players were trapped in the first city, unable to get out and explore. I laughed a lot on Twitter but there are some who didn’t find it as amusing.

Yes, development is taking longer than most would like. Bugs hang around for a long time, even ones that break gameplay for some. Personally, I refuse to do missions at this point. I’m not a fan of game generated checklists, to begin with, let alone subject my gaming time to ones that are broken. All of that melts away, in the face of what was delivered in Alpha patch 3.3.5.

Until now, I haven’t bothered with clothing or armor because they’re no female avatar. Hurston arriving as the first location with a breathable atmosphere made me want to walk around in clothes so I did. It bothered me that my avatar was a guy. It annoyed me that I lost text chat by removing the undersuit. Yet the magic of Hurston’s Lorville and beyond, can’t be denied.

  • Waking in a semi-interactive habicube.
  • Landing a hangar bristling with activity.
  • Departing during the day to see the cityscape.
  • Leaving at night is like seeing Paris lights.
  • Alone on a Dragonfly, surfing sand dunes in the dark.

Until the Lorville Business District, we’d only seen the low economy, grunge, and utilitarian environments in the game, beyond those who got to see the Mile High Club. With this expansion to the city, we’re seeing a different aesthetic and it’s a welcomed change. While gold and glitz isn’t my thing, in particular, it does serve to remind us that we will also have architectural, ambiance and design variety based on a zone’s economy and wealth. The breathtaking view when you exit the yellow line into the Hurston building is an amazing feat.

It’s coming together now. We can see it. Feel it. It’s just around the bend.

This is magic…  It’s extraordinary…  Why we keep the believing…  This is Star Citizen.

Revisiting Stanton Lore

When we consider the crowdfunded scope for the Star Citizen universe, there are 100+ star systems planned. The persistent universe we’re currently enjoying as part of alpha is the Stanton star system. It contains four Super Earths – Hurston, Crusader, ArcCorp, and Microtech, all of whom have tidally locked moons of their own. Stanton’s biome diversity is one of the reasons it was selected as the starting point for persistent universe development.

Stanton was originally discovered by independent explorers. Although the details are fuzzy, most agree that the star system was discovered by a free agent trader. Word of mouth, spread the tale, of a system that contained four Super-Earths. Privateers moved in to capitalize on this extremely rare find. Planets of this size, all within a wide green zone is unusual in its own right.  Combined with the large variances in planet ecologies, even more so. When the existence of Stanton came to the attention of the UEE, they moved in quickly to claim eminent domain. The official reason was to protect and extend nearby jump lanes.

Unfortunately, the original settlers of Stanton hadn’t formalized their colonization by filing the necessary paperwork.  Largely made up of homesteaders, prospectors and survivalists, the local populace had no legal rights to Stanton and certainly weren’t in a position to dissuade military forces when they arrived.

The uniqueness of the system and the potential resources notwithstanding, the UEE was in the midst of huge economic struggles. A down economy from a hundred-year colonization drought, the UEE could only afford to do the bare minimum to claim its new prize. Naval engineers performed the small amount of terraforming required and underfunded military outposts were established. Lacking funds to do more, Stanton wasn’t developed further.

Eventually, the decision was made to sell the system piecemeal to the highest bidders. Large corporations were discreetly contacted and asked to bid on whole planets. It’s believed that the winners must have bid trillions to acquire rights. The winners did the obvious, naming the planets after their corporations – Hurston Dynamics, Crusader Industries, ArcCorp, and MicroTech

Stanton as of Alpha 3.3.x

As of Alpha 3.3.5, the persistent universe was expanded to include the first of Stanton’s planets, Hurston, its moons and capital city, Lorville. Unlike the locations we’ve seen thus far, Hurston contains multiple biomes. There are also bodies of water and underground bunkers. While Lorville is still incomplete, it’s a must-see location that introduces a working railway system and habicubes with interactive objects. More locations are being added over time.

The addition of Hurston brings the landing sights to:

  • 1 planet
  • 7 moons
  • 2 asteroid based locations
  • 1 starbase
  • 2 space stations

This doesn’t include CryAstro fueling and repair of the various Truckstops located around Crusader and Hurston.

It’s worth noting that Delamar’s presence in Stanton is temporary. Delamar belongs in the Nyx star system, a dangerous unclaimed star system. However, it was placed in Stanton for testing purposes when its tier 1 development completed. You can find a more in-depth overview of Nyx on my YouTube channel as well.

A Day in the Life

Welcome to what will become a reoccurring segment on Nightbus. A Day in the Life is a fictionalized retelling of an actual in-game event. Where I set off for the evening with completing a particular task in mind, and turn whatever the outcome might be into a piece of fiction. I’ll rotate these shorter stories in between the longer fiction I have planned and other standalone sections. Let me know in the comments if this kind of content piques your interest. I have mining and passenger transport planned.  You can read this episode’s ADITL here.

Thanks for tuning into Star Citizen Nightbus episode 8. I hope you enjoyed your time here and will visit again. Your comments and feedback are welcome. Be kind and fly safe! This is Alysianah signing out until next time. The Nightbus is re-entering statis. Please disembark. Hibernation sequence begins in 3…2…1


Hurston, Take Flight

Introspective INFJ that I am, I cherish activities and spaces that help me melt into myself. Shed the outer coil of everyday stresses and anxieties. Recharge my batteries and regain an inner balance. EVE Online used to be my go-to Sensory Deprivation Chamber. Dark colors and muted lights, I could roam its vast landscape doing missions or freelance salvaging in a serene setting. Sure, there was potential death and mayhem lurking around every bend but that was a side dish, not the main course.

Captaining my spaceships in Star Citizen takes things to a whole new level. The combination of fidelity and a physicalized universe is immersion on steroids. The visuals, sound effects and utterly sublime soundtrack by Pedro Camacho is a soothing balm.

I don’t have to be happy about or agree with every step they take. The beauty, ambition, and achievements to date, can’t be denied.


New Faces

Free Fly Success

I didn’t partake in this year’s Anniversary Sale. With the fleet I’ve amassed over the years, it’s going to take a specialized ship to pique my interest enough to swap in something new. Note, swap-in. I’ve hit my ceiling on ship purchases. I know, I’ve said that before but this time I mean it! What I have engaged in as a result of the sale and freefly, is the amazing influx of new players and streamers. It’s easy to spot new and returning players by the questions they ask. I enjoying helping out where I can – sharing information or giving a tour of a ship. It’s great seeing game chat alive with new names.

I’ve watched more SC streams since 3.3.5 than I have in a very long time. I enjoy bopping between my long-time favorites, brand new low view streamers, and the mega Twitch names checking in. I haven’t laughed so hard or screamed at the screen as if watching a spine-tingling movie, as I have the past couple of weeks. Lirik and crew simply had me in stitches. GiantWaffle was definitely entertaining. And the night they played together — my stomach hurt from laughing. At one point I was doubled over on the bed, crying at the hilarity. Seeing streams with 25K viewers that aren’t CIG events — very exciting.

Zyloh made appearances. He was a mole on one stream. Rode with them to Kareah and then turned on his team. Another night he was trying to give Lirik a look at the 600i. Unfortunately, Lirik’s ADD fidget all over the place like he’s tiptoeing on hot coals manner, had him glitching into anything and everything an unlucky player could. At one point, I guess Zyloh was over it and not going back for his dead ass, so he used a dev command to drag him from where he’d resurrected at Lorville over to Port Olisar where the 600i had landed. Comedy gold!

New Faces

If combat is your thing – PVP and FPS, Rexzilla is a good watch. Like all MMOs I’ve played, while I don’t consider myself a PVP player, I will engage if attacked and enjoy watching others do their thing. Whew, they had some hot fights happen at Kareah and over at Jumptown. Very cool stuff to check out if you want to see what kind of impromptu combat can happen even in these early days.

Visiting new streamers is equally entertaining. Seeing their enthusiasm is infectious. Watching their jaws drop approaching Lorville. Their heads explode the first time the EVA. Always grateful to be given help or offered to try a ship they don’t own. Sure, we go in hard on trolls but this is definitely one of the most helpful gaming communities I’ve been a part of. I enjoyed the time I spent with BruceCooper and Harry0. For the first time in a long time, I actually joined a streamer live. We were talking about vehicle types and Bruce hadn’t seen a Dragonfly, so I joined live to spawn one for him. Coasting on a hoverbike on a high fidelity alien planet – that right there can only happen in Star Citizen.

The RP is Real

If you’re interested in watching roleplay in the Star Citizen universe, strong contenders have entered the atmosphere. They’re all new to actually playing but are learning quickly with the help of the community. I’m happily surprised by the enthusiasm and number of RP streamers that have landed. Among my favorites so far are Timmac, PMSProxy, and Koil.

If you’re a long time backer, you know this game isn’t the easiest thing to pick up on your own. Hop in a few new channels to share your knowledge and love for the game. To all the new players and streamers, welcome aboard. Welcome to the community. See ya in the verse.


Alpha 3.3.5 - Hurston is Magic

As most will realize, Star Citizen is still in its alpha phase of development. Many of us had hoped, things would be moving along a bit faster. There is no shortage of complaints about the plodding and sometimes painfully mundane pace at which content was being released in 2017. And for all the waiting and need for polish eschewed, as to why a feature isn’t being released for testing, there are still significant bugs on Live. Yep, there’s no shortage of complaints about CIG and Star Citizen, even among loyal backers, myself included.

I spent two days and several hours trying to get out of the new city, Lorville, after 3.3.5 went Live. It didn’t make me angry. It was so absurd that it became a comical challenge to Escape Lorville. I mean come on, players were trapped in the first city, unable to get out and explore. I laughed a lot on Twitter but there are some who didn’t find it as amusing.

Yes, development is taking longer than most would like. Bugs hang around for a long time, even ones that break gameplay for some. Personally, I refuse to do missions at this point. I’m not a fan of game generated checklists, to begin with, let alone subject my gaming time to ones that are broken. All of that melts away, in the face of what was delivered in Alpha patch 3.3.5.

  • Waking up in a habicube that looks considerably more realistic as a place someone lives in.  
  • The rudimentary interactions available inside the rooms give us a glimpse of where things are headed.
  • Riding the train from one part of Lorville to the next.
  • Seeing the imperfect but improved NPCs co-populating the city.
  • Having a drink at a bar and taking it with you as you continue on your journey.

 

 

Until now, I haven’t given a damn about clothing since there’s still no female model. Seeing other players walking – not running, walking around in civilian clothing changed my mind. Now I strut around in my Concerige outfits and made my way to Tammany & Sons to buy a few more things to wear. No, I’m not happy that we lose chat if not wearing a helmet since that’s an unnecessary negative side effect of wearing civilian clothing. One that I hope, they will change in short order. It’s fun seeing other players starting to roleplay now that we have our first planet with an atmosphere.

As the first city on the first planet implemented in Star Citizen, only a relatively small part of Lorville is accessible. Regardless, there’s no shortage of spectacular views.

  • Watching the everyday activities of those living in outer space.
  • Seeing the underbelly of how Hurston Dynamics runs the planet like a slumlord, doling out slave wages and workers living in filth and pollution. You know this type of scenario would and will exist if humans become an interstellar species.
  • Walking into an active hangar – NPCs and services around you.
  • Departing during the day to see the cityscape.
  • While leaving at night is like seeing Paris lights.
  • Alone, surfing sand dunes in the dark.

It’s coming together now. We can see it. Feel it. It’s just around the bend.

One trip in particular really gave them feels. I’m standing there in my semi-steampunk looking gear on an alien planet. Tallgrass is swaying while the wind blows around. It’s fading from dusk into darkness and I’m staring up at the night sky. I mean come on, I haven’t and can’t have this experience in any other MMO. None. You simply can’t name one with this scope and breadth.

This is magic…  It’s extraordinary…  Why we keep the believing…  This is Star Citizen.


Gaming and Nostalgia

You can’t put a price on recapturing your childhood. The opportunity to relive fond memories or achieve the ones that slipped by is priceless. Our favorite television shows, movies, books, and games from childhood are powerful motivators. We’re more easily tempted to spend disposable income on a second chance with these than trusting the new and unknown. It’s even more compelling when it’s tied to a fond memory. Nostalgia is a powerful drug.

In recent years, we’ve seen re-mastered games and revived IPs top the charts. Even against big, new and shiny, supported by generous marketing budgets, these older and often less sophisticated gaming titles are winning the day. Games like the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Wipeout: Omega Collection and perennially remastered Final Fantasy games are making developers and publishers alike, take a more serious look at reviving successful titles of old. If there are profits, they will build it. In the face of Crash Bandicoot surpassing expectations by a wide margin, Eric Hirshberg, Activision CEO said, “You can be confident there will be more activity like this in the future…”

For the adults of today, the gaming console and PC revolution came at a time when they were young, and in most cases, lacked the funds to invest in the hobby as much as they would have liked. Unless your parents were technology geeks, which mine certainly were not, you were lucky to get a gaming console or personal computer in the first place. And the games for them came at a slow pace – birthdays, holidays and saving up your allowance.

To have a game, you had to buy the game. There were no rental shops. I sound like my grandparents, “I walked to school backward in the snow with no shoes!” The library of games at your disposal was a collection of what you and your besties shared with each other. What you owned, was yours for life if you couldn’t trade it a friend. There was no Game Stop taking in games you’d finished as credit toward purchasing a new one. For most of us, this meant that we didn’t get to play all that we would have if the opportunity to buy more were within our control.

For older adults who’ve squarely settled into the “I’m a gamer” moniker, they will spend big when they have the disposable income to support it. They’re the parents where there are multiple consoles and personal computers outfitted for gaming in our homes. They have enough games to start a rental service of their own. That’s if they’d even consider parting with them and in many cases, they won’t. Their games are stacked on shelves, labeled in boxes, soaking up hard drives and cluttering online digital libraries.

Entertainment is a big business where companies are looking to maximize profits. Funds are allocated to projects that are most likely to succeed in reaching the desired return on investment targets. The trend of capitalizing on nostalgia isn’t new, and it’s a two-way street. Adults with disposable income will throw it at things they’ve enjoyed in the past. Investors are more willing to spend on products that have a proven track record. The aforementioned doesn’t only happen in gaming. We see similar trends in other areas of entertainment such as movies. Like game development, these projects cost millions of dollars from inception to release. Taking a chance on a new unproven IP is a financial risk. If this weren’t the case, we wouldn’t see as many rehashes as we do. Honestly, how many remakes of King Kong does the world need? Planet of the Apes, The 10 Commandments, re-booting Batman again, our favorite comic book heroes starring in the small and the big screen are all predicated on this same trend, as are the proliferation of serialized books and movies. If we liked it once, we’ll take a chance on savoring it again. The money you may not have been allowed to spend back then, you’ll throw at your favorite something now.

Even with new chapters of life added, Legenda of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is appealing to older gamers and their nostalgic love of the franchise. The release of the most recent Zelda title was so successful, that it outsold its primary target console, the Switch, by selling 2.76 million copies as of March 31, 2017. More of the game sold than the console? Yes, enthusiasts are buying multiple copies in households with a single console or buying a copy for the Nintendo Switch and the Wii U. For Nintendo, Breath of the Wild in the U.S. is their fastest-selling release title of all time and fastest-selling game in the history of the Zelda series. That’s the power of nostalgia, something no marketing budget can touch.

The ability for remastered and revived games to beat the competition isn’t confined to new games and IPs. Newer titles with a successful first release and good reviews can falter in a market where reliving our childhood is claiming our spending dollars. Dishonored 2, Watch Dogs 2 and Titanfall 2 all struggled in 2016,  not hitting any of the major “Top Games of 2016” lists in an environment where Final Fantasy, Zelda, etc. were claiming market share.

On the flip side, wanting to capitalize on past glory isn’t always a path strewn with sunshine and rainbows. As I’ve said, making games cost hundreds of millions of dollars per title in development. If the studio isn’t making money in the interim, potentially big contenders will be lost by the waste side, nostalgic or not. Two games in development with legions of nostalgic fans who were eagerly awaiting a new release were Fable and EverQuest, the latter being the one of the longest-running Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) in history. Both of these had their revivals abandoned in 2016. Much to the chagrin of many, I’m sure.

As an adult with discretionary funds at my disposal, I have plenty of the things I wanted as a child but couldn’t have for whatever reason. And I have none of the things I didn’t like but had plenty of because my parents said so. Oh, the joys and privilege of being an adult. It’s a good time to be a gamer. It’s a fabulous time to have money to spend on this particular hobby.

Are there games from your youth that you’re still hoping to see revived? Which are your favorites among the ones that have been given a new lease on life?


Star Citizen - My EVE 2.0

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It’s been several years since I’ve had an MMO to call home. I’ve played all the AAA MMOs that have come to the NA market. Unfortunately, out of the seemingly endless sea of them, the only ones that felt like home for any period of time since my WOW days were Guild Wars 2, EVE Online, Runes of Magic, Warhammer Online and ArcheAge. With EVE being the only sci-fi title among them.

I’m not a traditional RPer but I love lore…

There’s a particular blend of gameplay needed for me to find long-term satisfaction in a game. A compelling mission system that provides progression to max level or whatever is considered end game. A sense of exploration, where I can wander freely while traveling, harvesting or completing quests. A robust crafting and/or trade system on which to hang my character’s hat in her adulthood. Regular injections of new content, abilities, professions and economic opportunities. And although I’m not a classic RPer, I enjoy good lore – deep backstory and context that gives meaning to what we’re all supposedly doing in that universe. My Holy Grail MMO needs to have all of the above or at least, a majority.

I wanted the original pitch of EVE’s Incarna expansion – avatars walking in space stations and player run shops…

EVE online had many of these qualities but the lore played out mostly as off-line content to me because of the shallow mission system. You could explore except in their version of deep space, there’s not much to see. Most of all, you aren’t a person, you’re a ship. There’s nothing meaningful to do with your character as an avatar. I always hoped more character features would come. I wanted the original vision they said would be Incarna – walking in space stations and player run shops. Alas, it wasn’t to be. And so, for me, EVE could never be home for more than a few months at a time even though I’ve played it across many years. It served more as my personal sensory deprivation chamber. A place to play when I really wanted to be alone in a universe of others.

My interest in Star Citizen began as a desire to have EVE 2.0. EVE Online + the missing pieces for my MMO preferences. However, in the years since I first pledged it has evolved to more than my initial small hopeful wish. It’s grown to be the game I’m expecting will be my next MMO home, whose years played will only be rivaled by the years I spent in World of Warcraft.

I’m in it for deep space, but now, I have a better understanding of the scale and scope of what’s to come…

I’m in it for the deep space gameplay. Predominantly the career ships and the economy topped off with exploration. Until today, I viewed the planetside content as a “nice to have”. Nothing I’m particularly interested in other than for exploration and harvesting resources related to my career ships. I’m not at all interested in doing missions planetside. There are only a handful of quest types in MMOs reskinned for a different environment. After playing MMOs for 30+ years, good lord, I’ve done them all. So if it’s not directly related to a player career or for exploration, I DON’T CARE.

The most recent Star Citizen Around the Verse featured CIG’s procedural planet tech. Of course, it’s impressive. As are the tools they continue to develop to assist in the massive undertaking of populating 100+ star systems with high visual fidelity and content. I watched all of it saying, “sure, that’s cool”, “whew, that will certainly help move things along” and reactions of that nature. Not to take anything away from the achievements but as I’ve said, that’s not why I came to the party. I came to explore deep space – be aboard my ship doing captain type things IN SPACE.

Even so, my jaw dropped during the final demonstration of the technology, as the SCOPE of the universe they’re building hit home. Yes, I knew it was on a grand scale. Yet reading the sizes of the ships and planets as text on a web page hadn’t adequately prepared me for the in-game reality.

As an explorer and a player who loves wandering off the beaten trial, it was mindboggling to see. Compounded by the realization that we were seeing wasn’t even a planet-sized object. Holy f–k! Delays be damned. The alpha patch with that content will be here within the next couple of months. I was already dubbing Alpha 3.0 as the patch that starts the type of content I care about enjoying, an explorer playstyle. Now that I see it with clearer eyes, the magnitude of what’s coming is breathtaking. It’s going to be buggy and laggy at points ‘cuz alpha but it will be nothing short of amazing.