Character Progression

SaltyMike’s weekly show, Answer the Call, discussed a topic near and dear to me. What do you consider progression in an MMO? As a new generation of gamers joins the market, where jumping from game to game has become the norm, many have lost sight of the varying play styles that exist. In what I consider the Golden Age of MMOs, when Everquest I, Asherson’s Call, Ultima, and the alike reigned, there were frequent discussions about the different player motivations, aka play styles. We hadn’t entered the cookie-cutter theme park phenom burgeoned in by the juggernaut, World of Warcraft. 

I have a love/hate relationship with Blizzard as being the best and worst thing to have graced the genre.

World of Warcraft introduced many thoughtful standards that now define MMOs, while simultaneously bludgeoning individuality with a spike studded meat clever. On Richard Bartle’s taxonomy, I’m an Explorer with self-defined achievement conditions who is occasionally social.

I can thrive in sandbox games because I prefer to define my existence to whatever extent the game allows. I enjoy creating my own adventures while acheiving goals. My class, profession, knowledge of the game, its meta, analytical thinking, ability to identify opportunities that I can mostly achieve alone, is what excites me. Playing with others as a defined group is when I wear my semi socializer hat, which represents only 25% of my gaming time. All I need are the core mechanics, interesting lore, compelling environments, some freedom of choice, the ability to interact with other players to earn a living, and I’m good. I don’t need game generated checklists or a player-controlled economy to thrive.

Based on Marczewski’s user types, I’m a Free-Spirited Achiever, where autonomy and mastery motivate me.

I’ve been flitting solo through your MMOs since the very start. It’s often challenging, especially in the old days. And still, it’s a preference. I like defining progression on my terms. Sure, I’ll group up when the need arises, such as dungeons, but leveling is something I’ve enjoyed doing alone. 

Silent me, roaming through a fictional world, with an inner dialogue going of who I am, what I’m trying to achieve, and why. I have short and long term goals, with a method to my madness. I start the session with the musts. What should I do right now that will help me further my goals? Followed by, is there something outright fun that I’d like to do? And ending with farming, a task I find quite soothing, as it lets me wander the game harvesting in favorite zones while chatting with org mates. It’s an ideal session for me. Take care of business, have fun doing whatever, clear my head to decompress. Gaming session over.

Nothing about the way I will play Star Citizen is about grinding for ships. They’re a tool, like picking a class or player profession. They’re not the end goal or the objective. Fostering exciting player interactions that are efficient, fun, and profitable is the objective. Grinding to buy things? Nah, that’s what I do in the real world. There is no right, wrong, best, or worst. There’s no definitive only this is progression or only this fun. Others have their play style, and I have mine. What’s character progression to you?


Gone Mining

The thing I refused to do in EVE Online because it bored me to tears, is what I’m doing the most in Star Citizen. Mining, one of the few player professions currently in-game, is the one I find the most enjoyable. It’s not on my long term list, but it fits the bill for an activity I can perform without game directives. AKA I don’t need missions to have content.  If I’m not in the mood to mine I’ll occasionally do bounty missions for a bit of combat. Sometimes I play the market with commodities trading, what currently passes for cargo hauling. Otherwise, I’m peacefully drifting in space aboard my favorite ship, the Origin 890 Jump.

What I enjoy about mining is similar to the professions I backed with ships and am waiting to arrive. It’s content that’s undirected. I can go wherever I choose in pursuit of the activity. Or it’s an activity where other players are the primary source of the game-play. 

  • Mobile field medic on an RSI Apollo.
  • Running a floating hospital on the Hope. 
  • Farming aboard the Endeavor.
  • Exploration flying the Carrack.
  • Luxury RP tours on the 890.
  • A mobile service station on the Venture.
  • Roving specialty goods trader on the Merchantman.

No missions. No artificial grind. I don’t have the time or patience for traditional game generated checklists anymore. What I enjoy most about MMOs is logging into a well conceived world and making my own fun. This has been possible even in theme park games like WOW due to player professions. Like EVE Online and ArcheAge, there are enough sandbox elements to suit my brand of gaming – lots of solo entertainment for the quiet time I need and group content for on the weekends. The introduction of the Argo Mole allows mining to fit the bill for both types of activities.

Drifting Alone in Space

With my backpack and handing mining tool equipped, I climb aboard my Misc Prospector. I pick the planet, moon, or asteroid belt I’m in the mood to explore, set the route, and let the adventure begin. At least half the time it’s just me the game and my thoughts. Other times I have a favorite streamer, vidcast, or podcast playing beside me on a tablet. Fully relaxed, decompressing, peacefully drifting along. 

I choose which nodes to mine. When to hop out of the ship to hand mine gems. Stop to watch a sunrise or sunset. Wait out a snow or sand storm. Fly back out of the atmosphere to chase daylight for better visibility. Remain unphased by the encroaching darkness, continuing on my way undisturbed. 100% my choices and pacing. All taking place in a meticulously rendered sci-fi world. 

Yes, some days it feels like development is taking forever. We live with bugs, workarounds, and delays. I completely disconnect from it if I start feeling annoyed. I don’t want to ruin this journey before its really even begun. This is likely the only MMO of this scope we’ll see for a very long time. There isn’t anything close to what’s planned that I could play today. So we wait because a good session in SC is like magic. That feeling of wonder and awe of materializing in my first MMO with the kids. Those games are far and few, so I take the simple pleasures as they come in SC, and for now, it’s mostly drifting alone mining.

You can take a look at my earlier posts to see more about Star Citizen’s take on a mining mechanic.


That 890 Jump Life

I haven’t had and still don’t have much time for gaming. The amount of work and stress in my new role, at my new employer, is a bit staggering. On the bright side is that I enjoy the work, the people, and my role. There’s a lot of satisfaction gained from achieving the level of work that we’re producing. However, lots of process improvements need to take place to reduce the chaos, on top of every team being over-committed and understaffed. That classic corporate tale playing out yet again.

When I have had time to play, the Q3 3.7.x patch has breathed new life into the game with hand mining, in-game ship rentals, ship purchases, caves, the 890 Jump. For me, the Mack Daddy improvement is consistent ship logout and re-spawn. 

One of the things I’ve despised since the PU arrived was the Super Mario re-spawn at a static point mechanic. It’s anathema to being in a so-called persistent universe and forces players to restart their adventure each time they log into the game. This is the opposite of a persistent world and how MMOs work.

Logging out via the bed in your ship has been in Star Citizen for a while but never worked consistently. 3.7 corrected that issue. Once I verified it was working reliably, I wanted to use the mechanic to become acquainted with the first capital sized ship in the game, my Origin 890 Jump. I’m happy to report that I’m still faring the skies of Stanton aboard the same instance of my 890 since the 3.7.x patch.

Learning My Way Around

The 890 is a superyacht that sails in at a whopping 210 meters of pure luxury with 64 rooms at your disposal. You can hear a small overview of the 890 Jump when it was merely a concept, on my YouTube channel. Amenities include sumptuous captain’s quarters, (4) guest suites, bar, dining, executive conference, sauna, swimming pool, fully decked out kitchen, medbay, crew quarters with entertainment areas, cargo bay and a hangar. That’s a whole lot of ship. My only complaint is the overly sterile style and lighting. I wish the entire ship had the ambiance from the sauna and pool area. I’m looking forward to when we can customize the interiors a bit. My plan for the 890 is to do luxury RP style tours, run Murder Mysteries parties, and dinner theater. My goal, for now, is to simply enjoy the ship, become intimately familiar with the layout and how she flies.

Living Among the Stars

I backed Star Citizen to live among the stars with only passing sojourns to exotic planetside locations. I would have been happy with the initial plan of just having the capital cities and hero landing zone locations. I don’t want an apartment or permanent housing situation on a planet – zero interest. Outposts? I’ll be thrilled to build them for others using my Pioneer. For me, I’d only consider it if I can farm produce to supplement the food production I plan to do on the Endeavor.

Having consistent bed logout has been amazing. I’ve done a whole lot of nothing but enjoyed it nevertheless. I loaded my Dragonfly hover-bike and the Prospector mining ship on the 890. With those two on board, I’ve been roaming the skies and moons of Stanton. I hadn’t bothered with the ArcCorp moons. There was nothing of interest for me to do there until now. With the 890, I set her down where I choose and disembark with the Prospector to scan for hand-mined gems. I use the Dragonfly to drift above the planet or moon surface, looking for the new harvestable items.

What I’ve enjoyed the most, however, is merely parking my ship wherever I want when I need to log out. The next time I have a few moments to play, I have, without fail, been returned aboard my ship every time. The amount of time in between sessions doesn’t seem, or the logout doesn’t seem to matter. I’ve logged out parked next to Port Olisar, floating next to an R&R station, in the middle of space or engines off parked on a planet, and it’s been flawless. I even crashed twice and have been successfully recovered aboard the ship – back in the medbay, which seems so apropos. It’s a small but meaningful step forward that the persistent universe is finally starting to actually feel like a universe.


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 Arrives

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 Added

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.


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.


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.