Real Life Trails and Star Citizen Update

The Trials of Real Life

At the start of 2019, I had three big goals in mind. Moving to a larger more diverse job market, leaving the Business Intelligence space and completing a novella. Deciding to move away from my family and friends was a hard decision. I’d been wrestling with the idea of moving for a couple of years at least. Establishing a 5-hour drive as the furthest I was willing to go, didn’t leave many cities I had an interest in moving to. And I didn’t really want to be five hours away. I was hoping for three or less. Career-wise,  I was completely burned out in the BI space. Every paycheck felt like blood money with a drip-drip loss of my soul. My third priority was establishing a consistent writing routine to help achieve my dream of completing a novella as a step toward returning to one of my unfinished novels.  Writing fiction is what I want to do in retirement at the latest, achieving it sooner would be awesome.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working on these goals. In March I received a job offer that would move me 3.5 hours away, and take me into the banking industry. The act of moving was crushing. I cried when my middle daughter told me that she was devastated by it. Ugh, that’s the last thing you want to hear from your children, even if they’re grown and starting families of their own. We’re extremely close and it felt like a gut punch to all of us.

It’s nearing the end of September and the goals I set out for 2019 are well underway. I’m still a Product Manager leading software development teams but being in a new vertical market as breathed new life into my day. It’s no less stressful. In fact, some days it’s considerably more worse given the stakes of the solutions I’m managing. However, I enjoy learning new skills and meeting new people. Add to that, I love where I live. I miss my house but adore my apartment – the views, the big open sky, the energy, and convenience. And I rented a place large enough for two sets of my kids to come at the same time and stay here comfortably for the weekend, which they have.

On the writing front, I started a small support group that meets on Monday evenings. I wish I was further along but being 30K words into my novella is nothing to sneeze at. I’ve settled into a routine and have found writing software that works for me. It doesn’t have snazzy features – something I don’t need. I’ve always enjoyed writing in the barebones world of Google Docs.

The issue that StoryShop solved for me, was the tedium of tracking the elements of world-building. I’ve used tables in MS Word, spreadsheets and a custom database, all of which became a distraction after a while. Struggling to find what I called an item, place or minor character 10K words ago often ended in annoyance or continuity issues. Keeping track of ideas for future elements was equally annoying. Oftentimes, struggling with this issue tainted a writing session with frustration. StoryShop isn’t perfect but I really enjoy the features and it’s helped me to keep going. I’m hoping to turn up the volume in the last quarter of the year in order to complete my first draft.

I miss my family. I ache over not being able to see them multiple times a week which was our norm. I hate that I’ve missed birthdays. Unfortunately, driving that distance during the week simply isn’t feasible. However, I do feel blessed that missing my house and family aside, I’m happy where I am, enjoy my new job and have done more writing for a single story than I have in many years. I think this is the first year in many, where I’ve made serious progress on all the goals I’d prioritized at the start. I guess it’s feeling the tick tick of the clock reminding me that I’m not getting any younger. *Smile*

What’s Up Star Citizen?

All of the above means I have very little time for gaming. Additionally, I sometimes have a love-hate affair with the development pace of Star Citizen. I believe in the dream and their continued intent to deliver on what they’ve promised. However, I think there will be compromises that feel painful to some backers in order for this extremely ambitious game to BETA and out as an officially released game. Plus there’s the war of focus between Squadron 42 and the MMO game. Having the number of released ships that are still missing meaningful mechanics does start to grate.

Yet out of the dust storm, they routinely release content that makes your jaw drop which breathes more patience into most of us. I put SC on dark mode when I feel overly annoyed. This is my last hoorah. There aren’t any choices with even half of these features, let alone the ones I’m most interested in consuming. Trolls like to wanker on about sunk cost fallacy but that’s not why we wait. We wait because you can’t point us to a legit alternative. If you could, I’d be playing that in the interim.

The Q2 patch was very very late and for me, the shining star of what was being delivered had to be pushed to a dot release. The granddaddy of luxury ships, the Origin 890 Jump was released a few weeks ago. The first flyable capital ship is a space yacht. It’s 4 levels of enormity. I’m cobbling together an interior map so I can stop wandering around in circles.

The ship is a full-featured luxury experience – Captain’s Quarters, 4 guest suites, 5 crew cabins, galley and rec room for the crew, dining, bar, conference room, saunas, swimming pool, lovely vistas, a and two-level atrium for guests to relax and mingle in. I’m not sure how I feel about owning such a large ship given my playstyle but I’m hoping to host community events for a change of pace. My first use of the ship is as the backdrop for a story I want to write in the SC universe after my novella. The plot is already worked out. It’s what I’ll do in between doing edits on the novella.

My biggest pet peeves about the 890 J are that someone decided that luxury is cold stoic colors and angles. It doesn’t at all match the vibe of the concept images. The whole ship should be styled more like the saunas which is a better representation of the original concept images. Hopefully, we’ll be able to change some aspects of the interior lighting and color themes. Second, it feels like they didn’t bother to check to see if you can actually see that magnificent views when seated in the designated areas around the windows because you can’t. It’s the same thing with the Origin 600 i. You have to stand to see outside which is very very silly. They need to adjust the thick waist high trims and ledges so they don’t block the views. Last is that they didn’t bother adding a large enough landing pad for it at Port Olisar. You can only spawn the 890 at Lorville and Area 18, which is very inconvenient. It also means it can only be fueled at those two locations.  I’ve seen lots of 890s crashing to the surface as they run out of fuel trying to make it down the gravity well to refuel. Then after wasting the long trips to refuel you get to dump 25% of it getting back out of atmo. Grrr. Please fix soon!!

Patch 3.7 is Coming

The Q3 content patch for Star Citizen will finally add something to do on the planets other than FPS and take screenshots. Caves and harvestable items are coming to a planet near us, along with handheld mining tools. I’m the odd type of solo exploration styled gamer who enjoys farming/harvesting in MMOs. I find it a relaxing activity to do at the end of a gaming session to unwind. I often use it as a passive activity to do when I simply want to be in the game world without doing a whole lot of thinking or interacting with others. The items will be rare gems that can be mined, harvestable produce, dropped salvage, etc.

I’m looking forward to having an activity I can do under my own steam and timeline, using any of my ships I want. I remain disappointed that I have 7 flyable ships and only 1 of them has the planned game mechanics – Sabre for combat. Sure we can go do missions to carry crates but that got old a long time ago. Now, if I can reliably relog aboard my ship, a feature that’s supposedly coming in 3.7 – whew, we’re starting to feel like a space MMO.

Related Content


Aly's World EMag - May 2019

As mentioned on Casual Citizen Episode 32, at the end of my content writing cycle, I will produce Casual Citizen or Nightbus, as well as combine all the content into an eBook. In addition to working more on my own fiction, I’m also teaching myself interior book design and self-publishing. This gives me the opportunity to use one of my guilty pleasures toward a future goal. I hope you enjoy.

You can easily find directions on YouTube if you want to actually import the associated format into your Kindle, iPad or Nook. Otherwise, go for the Print or EPUB format.

AVAILABLE FORMATS

As mentioned in the show, I’ll be compiling the content produced during a cycle into an eBook/eMagazine for those who might enjoy reading the articles as chapters with the ability to use bookmarks and whatnot.

eBook Formats

I hope you enjoy.


Area 18 Is Like Coming Home

Area 18, originally introduced in the Social Module, was the first lore location that supported multi-player interactions. Sure, you could mess around in Freeflight but that was just an empty space. Area 18 on the other hand, was a bonafide location with content – shops, a bit of exploration and RP opportunities. It was our first taste of seeing an area move from concept into a physical location.

I spent many hours in Area 18 doing a whole lot of nothing and I enjoyed it.  I watched the planes go by. I observed other players running around. I danced and chatted inside G Loc. I used the map hack to fly a Merlin around the skyline and visited the Million Mile High Club. Again, I’m not a roleplayer. I consider my style one of deep immersion. I’m me, living in that world, making choices that match my value system, having adventures and making friends along the way.

Hanging around in Area 18 inspired me to write my first piece of Star Citizen fanfiction, Bryony’s Dilemma. That tiny glimpse of what could be provided such a visceral example of where that game was headed, it sparked a lot of creativity. I’ve missed Area 18. It’s where I really started bonding with the game beyond the mechanics and ships. For me, visiting the location, now part of an actual planet felt like coming home.

It was like taking a stroll through The Fifth Element. I was part of Ghost in the Shell, patrolling the streets at night. Departing the spaceport on an assignment in Blade Runner. They nailed it. Blew it out of the water. Burst it out of the park.

I considered Lorville impressive but the fact that I never visited it again after seeing the new content because I find the train rides annoying, had me a bit worried. I backed to be in space. Planetside content doesn’t enamor me outside of the hero zones. I became a bit concerned that if I felt so little interest in a place as impressive as Lorville, damn, I’d probably wouldn’t bother with the cities at all.

What I realize now, is that I didn’t connect with that particular environment. In the same way that like I don’t enjoy some cities or neighborhoods, in real life – they simply don’t interest me enough to make the effort to go back, some Star Citizen locations will be the same.

I know that I will be hanging around in Area 18. Distance and all. Shuttles and all, it will be my home base. I’ll simply refrain from doing content that sends you back and forth a lot to avoid my nit about using the shuttle during commercial transport activities. Experiencing ArcCorp, I’m extra excited to see the other star systems with very different aesthetics, wondering what I may enjoy even more. Goodbye Port Olisar.


Female Avatars Have Arrived

As the 2018 roadmap progressed, I became more vocal about the absence of female characters. Yes, I understand the technical challenges and their desire to do it right. Regardless, as a female backer, it did become a thorn. I’m not a roleplayer by any means. I am, however, strongly immersed when I play MMOs, so my characters matters. If you backed Star Citizen for all the planned content outside of ship combat and FPS, it’s still very slim pickings to play-test on a regular basis. Not even having a character to represent the gender you prefer playing, was simply another ding. Alpha 3.5 ends the missing gender debate.

It’s a marvel how CIG can deliver the first iteration of something in such a stunning fashion. Is the female avatar bug-free? Of course not. The alterations of her frame impacts all of the existing gear, her height vs. in-game assets and such. For example, my Concierge Monocle sits up in her forehead, I can’t see over packages when I’m carrying them and I can tell I’m shorter when standing at the ship terminals. Regardless, the quality of the female model can’t be denied. She looks feminine and yes, even sexy. But it’s done in a respectful way.

Combined with the DNA character customization, I was very pleased with the outcome of my character. For players such as myself, the character is as important an element in game-play as every other mechanic. Finally walking through the world as myself felt awesome and inspiring. I hope we get to a point, sooner than later, where you can save the character like we can our keybind profiles, to help persist them through wipes.


Rethinking the MISC Reliants

I miss having an active MMO to play. More than just enjoying a wide variety of content, I miss the idle times. Logging in to do brain-on-pause tasks or perch in a favorite location to watch other players, all the while soaking up the atmosphere. For a variety of reasons, one being it’s still in development, Star Citizen can’t consistently supply those moments yet. I considered booting up an old MMO, but the prospect didn’t excite me. Instead, I logged into the 3.4 alpha to find something to do.

Casually Soaking up the Atmosphere

Scrolling through my list of ships, the first criteria that came to mind was a great view. If I’m going to travel around in space to relax, the cockpit vista is an essential component. Choosing between the 600i and the Reliant, captaining the 91.5 meter 600i felt overkill for my purposes. At 14.5 meters, you can’t beat the view from the Reliant’s bubble canopy, the ship’s cockpit HUD ughness aside.

Ship on the launch pad and flight ready, I began my journey by accepting a waste removal mission for the first time. The directions have you visit two different locations and clear three waste containers from each. From Port Olisar to Yela is a quick trip. The Reliant’s thin vertical profile in the third person screams sci-fi. Once in the atmosphere, skimming over the terrain provides stunning scenery. Performing that actual mission tasks was easy and secondary to my motives. I fulfilled a couple of these maintenance type missions then logged off.

During another session, I used Reliant’s small cargo bay to do speculative trading. In doing so, I finally cracked how VerseMate, the fan made commodities site, works. I don’t actually need the money. Consequently, the small payload wasn’t a concern. Using VerseMate, I planned an intentionally short-hop trade route. It was profitable but only just. My flight plan started at Port Olisar where I purchased Medical supplies. From there, a quick ride to Bensen on Yela where I’d sell them the Medical supplies and buy Fluorine. Lastly, fly back to Port Olisar to sell the Fluorine and start again. Due to a bit of server instability and other random bugs, I wanted a limited travel route that got me back to my home station often.

When the mood hit me again, the next adventure I conjured was doing delivery missions to the R&R rest stops. R&R stands for Rest and Relax, the owners of the rest stops located at the Crusader and Hurston Lagrange points. For the first time since the delivery kiosks appeared, I got them to work. Whoray! I’d abandoned them when they first arrived and would refuse to open. Nothing like traveling for ten minutes to have the kiosk reject interaction attempts. I specifically wanted to include the rest stops in at some point since one is featured in an upcoming piece of fiction for Nightbus.

Possibilities of a Reliant Trio

What I appreciated about flying the Reliant Kore was its simplicity. It’s a small ship so getting in and out is hassle free. It’s fast with a lovely view from the cockpit. It supports having a co-pilot seat for a friend. With the extra place, you can also participate in player generated transport beacon requests. I enjoyed the restrained but focused experience, perfect for some idle time.

My recent enjoyment of the Reliant Kore piques my interest in the Sen and Mako variants. The Reliant Sen will be equipped to do science – whatever that’s going to mean in Star Citizen, as well as exploration. The Reliant Mako will be a media ship equipped with components to make it a mobile broadcast vessel. Like real-life news vans, I think it would be fun to capture video and images of the game and what other players’ shenanigans.

While I’m most excited about the robust professions and the intricacies of carrying them out aboard the larger ships, my time and temperament won’t always make those an option. With the Reliant Kore, Sen and Mako, I foresee being able to find entertaining content in short bursts that can be done solo. My version of flying over Goldshire to people watch. Heading to a favorite zone to harvest resources. Dropping a fishing pole in a scenic location. I had planned to melt the Kore. Now I need to decide what to upgrade from or melt when the Sen and the Mako are available for purchase in March, which is when they’ll make their debut in the game.

For more details about the Misc Reliant series, you can take a look at a review I did when they were first announced. The ship has had its size increase since then and I believe the Sen and Mako are getting a bed to accommodate longer excursions. Causal Citizen Episode 18 – The Misc Reliant Series.


1 Profession, 2 Ships and Go!

The number of people trying to tell others what they should be enjoying about a game never ceases to amaze me. I find it quite flabbergasting that they’re willing to assume their brand of fun, something so subjective, can be articulated as the one truth.  Worse is that progression in a sandbox game is this, this, and that specifically – no more and no less. Can we get serious here about trying to quantify a single definition of what progression and fun means? Please stop. I’m floored by the proponents of such narrow perspectives and beliefs that don’t allow variation beyond their playstyle. Those for whom having more ships, grinding money, beating others in combat, having the best gear, etc., is perceived as the only possible point of it all. While players who deviate from this so-called “right way to play an MMO” are doing it wrong or are Roleplayers. What the…

There’s so little tolerance in the world, in general. It confounds me that people bring the same problems into a game. An environment designed as entertainment and escape. Instead, they form new battlefields over how to engage in a form of entertainment. I suppose my ‘live and let live’ nature simply can’t comprehend their closed and demanding point of view.

In considering the incessant debates of … Is Star Citizen is P2W cause X, Y, and Z, ‘cuz surely they’re the only things that can matter! The insistence that people who have multiple ships are ruining progression for themselves! Why play if you already own the ships you want? Clearly, there’s only one way to define enjoyment in a sandbox game. If you can’t hear it in my tone, feel free to insert me rolling my eyes and shoving a finger down my throat.

One the back of all this nonsense, I concocted an exercise that illustrates how differently someone such as myself, goes about playing MMOs. To coin an alternate definition of the word, I’m an immersionist. I don’t RP and I have limited enjoyment chasing generic ticks on a list handed out by the game. Having more isn’t the aim, goal or victory. It’s about having a subjective path to a valued journey.

For short periods of time, I live in that world. That is all and that is it. This style doesn’t work for completionists. It certainly doesn’t speak to the killers. Full blown explorer types probably wouldn’t be satisfied. Gregarious social butterflies might find it too demanding. It’s likely a weird combo of a semi-social adventurer. Thinking through all the noise made me wonder what would I do if the pledging had been artificially limited? Would I be as excited? Yes, I would.

One Year. One Profession. Two Ships. Go!

The rule of this musing assumes all professions are released. If for one year, you can only do one profession and only possess two ships, what would your choices be? And no matter how much money you earn, for that year, you can’t buy any additional ships. It’s literally, one year, one profession, two ships and go!

Of the professions I’m most excited about, I think medical will provide me with the most content and group composition diversity.

  • There will be standard fare missions for evenings when I want passive gameplay.
  • Players and NPCs will provide opportunities for small scale ad hoc interactions.
  • Participating in orchestrated and scheduled events will provide large scale content options.

Solo, small group, large group – all available in one profession with two ships.

There are three ships dedicated to the medical profession. The Cutlass Red, RSI Apollo, and Endeavor Hope. There are other ships that have a medbay, but for this exercise, I’m choosing to pick dedicated vessels. Given that the Apollo is a Connie sized ship and only has two crew stations, it will be viable as a solo operation. I imagine myself free-roaming densely populated areas. In particular, locations where FPS missions or PVP skirmishes occur. In those instances, players likely want to return to the action as soon as possible. Unless there’s a medical outpost nearby, a field medic in the area will be considerably faster than seeking attention planetside.

We’ve also been told that there will be missions generated to service NPCs. Accepting missions in the Apollo is precisely my plan for doing causal solo gameplay. This is my preferred M.O. during the workweek. Accept a mission, do the mission, and on to the next, while enjoying the atmosphere of being in that virtual world. For me, this is pleasant, relaxing, low key and avoids trying to coordinate with other players when I’m short on time and patience.

More People. More Risk

The Apollo will also be perfect for small group sessions – structured or ad hoc opportunities with my family, friends or gaming buddies. We can take on relatively safe content via missions in high-security areas or venture off on freelance journeys to where other players become our content pipeline. Outfitted to defend ourselves and with an escort in tow, we can venture into locations where players are participating in FPS or ship combat. Unless there are medical outposts nearby, our services will be more convenient.

With the expanded planetside content, I think FPS will be a staple for some players. Player run outposts, contesting harvestable resources, and bounty work, both the lawman and the target, will provide ample opportunities for an eager field medic.

I can see myself participating in structured combat encounters such as the scenarios Rexilla is popular for orchestrating. Instead of the combatants being sent elsewhere, the Apollo can be located in a no-kill zone where players from both sides can be healed and sent back into the breach.

Big Ship. Carefully Considered Choices.

Lastly, is the hulking Misc Endeavor Hope. A ship I’m only likely to use in high-security areas unless part of a coordinated event. When I’m captaining a ship of this size, I’m after experiencing the top tier interactions for that profession. I’m looking for the contemplative immersion of being aboard a ship of that size, likely crewed with up to a dozen people just to maintain that one ship. I’m not interested in combat or orchestrating external activity such as escorts. I simply want to have fun being a doctor.

In most cases, I’ll float around an armistice zone, acting as a spawn point for players who’ve died and tend to any residual damage.  Players who are arriving at the starbase to conduct business or summon ships can also stop in to have old wounds healed. Much like we repair our ships before heading off to the next adventure, the Hope can do the same for the player character. Here again, if the current travel on planets holds true, my hospital will be considerably more convenient than going planetside just to see a doctor.

If the organization I’m part of is having a large scale skirmish, I would also participate by having the ship close enough to give us the advantage of returning our people back to the fight faster. Of course, this would be the highest risk scenario and I’d expect to have escorts and protectors. If we go boom, we go boom.

Other professions can provide similar diversity in content – game generated versus finding freelance work. A spread of group size – solo, small and large. Opportunities where I can choose to take calculated risks. However, of them, I think medical will be in higher demand.

So with one profession and two ships, I can experience all the facets of gameplay I expect in any MMO, especially ones that lean toward being a sandbox. I don’t care what other players are doing, how many ships they have or how much money they can make in comparison. I focus inwardly on defining strategies that let me be successful in doing whatever content I enjoy most.

It’s Not About the Benjamins

The reason I have so many ships is the result of setting up these options for the professions I’m most interested in experiencing. Whether it’s medical, transportation, data running or exploration, I’ve simply pre-established the scenarios that suit my personal objectives for playing Star Citizen.

Any modern MMO worth its salt should cater to a wide range of player types – social, completionists, adventurers and killers. When, where and how they take risks should never be forced. The content should be compelling enough across all spectrums and the risk versus reward artfully designed, that it entices players to cross their normal boundaries on occasion.

For me, content options are king in MMOs and combat-only scenarios will never be an inducement. This is why I harp on professions. Without them, there’s no content I’m interested in consuming much of. I’m fine with combat being a means to an end, which is all it is for me in games that have levels. But if that’s all you’ve got, you don’t have a game with staying power for my playstyle.

For more details on what we know about the planned medical profession, you can check out a full discussion here.


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 outside of my chosen professions.

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 satisfied 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 15 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 saw salvage removed and put into the Q4 2019 release. That gives us another year where only one new player profession was delivered. I think it’s fair to be concerned at this pace, especially if this is the type of content you backed to play. Simply doing the math, this pace doesn’t project a  good outlook for backers waiting to experience these professions for the first time aboard their ships much less, moving from alpha to beta to release. Yes, yes, MMOs are never finished but they do have release dates.

I enjoy watching players making their own content via FPS but I don’t play FPS games and have zero interest in doing that in Star Citizen. The pace and the fact that CR’s discussion about minimum viable product pillars didn’t mention the professions at all, for me at least, is cause for some concern. I wouldn’t say it’s a red flag. We know where they’ve shifted the resources to and why. However, it doesn’t leave me feeling warm and fuzzy about progress.


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

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. Survive. Thrive.

The more an MMO creates a well-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 most of us are required to do 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, as I did in EQ2, with its vast crafting and player housing systems. Or Archeage with land ownership, player housing, farms, and livestock. I adored how those two games, in particular, allowed me to take production mechanics and turn them into full-blown professions. In EQ2 especially, where I went on to form a long list of customers for my interior decorating services which included making custom furniture pieces.

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.

Star Citizen has a fine line to navigate between its simulation asperations and producing fun and engaging experiences. I’m not going to accept “this is realistic” as an excuse when an activity doesn’t add value to my game time in a meaningful way. When a feature or expected task becomes a bothersome cockblock it immediately breaks your immersion. For example, my pet peeve, elevators. I don’t care if they’re not realistic – not logical based on the physical layout of the location. What I care about is standing there wondering why a fake elevator that can only be one floor away is so long. The fact that it’s not “real” is meaningless to me. I’m not scrutinizing a blueprint of the location while I’m playing. It’s that I encounter a fair share of elevators in a gaming session and the annoyance adds up over time and takes me out of the moment.

We have many potentially astounding features coming our way. I’d just like CIG to have a care for when real becomes a distraction or bothersome.