Aly's Fiction Writing Template

Writing and I go back a long way. I used to write scripts for the neighborhood kids to act out when I was around eleven. I participated in the writing publications all throughout my school years and went to college for Mass Communications. But a funny thing happened to me along the way to my career called personal computers. I had a knack for them when they first landed on people’s desks at work. I found out that my love and penchant for the English language extended itself to programming languages. Before I knew it, I was in IT then Business Intelligence then Research and Development, and now Product Management in R&D. I never gave up on writing. I’ve done technical writing where I’m a thrice published author, instructional design because I enjoy teaching people and I’ve kept a blog of one sort or another for the past 20+ years.

KNOWING WHO YOU ARE AS A WRITER IS ESSENTIAL TO YOUR GROWTH.

My creative writing’s been a bit spotty. I have multiple novels in the works that linger for a year at a time before I take them up again. Mastering such a long form on your own can be daunting, even though I’ve taken several writing courses since my college days to help move things along. It often felt like my weaknesses were insurmountable in the amount of time I was willing to dedicate to the craft of writing fiction. My plots can be complicated and I can run out of the emotional steam half way through. I lose the motivation to start a story after outlining it which is what you’re taught to do.

Late 2016, I happened upon a video series by Brandon Sanderson that gave me insight into the type of writer I am. I learned that my style and issues aren’t unique to me or absurd. I’m a gardener/pantser style writer. Meaning, I write by the seat of my pants. Like a gardener, my story develops as I go, growing over time. Detailed outlining diminishes the joy of writing for me. It destroys the story and motivation which causes me to drop an idea dead in its tracks. So while I may not be alone or crazy in my style, it does necessitate I find what works for me, which might be contrary to what’s taught in school. 

DEFINED TEMPLATE AND PROCESS THAT WORK FOR ME.

Writing fan-fiction for Star Citizen has helped me tremendously. It provided me with a pre-existing universe to write about and through those efforts, I’ve been able to identify writing tools and processes that work for me. AND for the first time ever, I’ve been able to consistently write shorter fiction, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but couldn’t quite constrain my ideas to the necessary length. I’m by no means a master writer but I do feel that I’m on my way to improvements and I’d like to share what I’ve developed for myself with others who may be facing the same struggles.

Luckily for me, I’m never short on inspiration for ideas. I’ve never had writer’s block. I’ve never needed writing prompts. I have more story ideas than I can shake a stick at. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t use things to distinguish a specific point of inspiration for a story.

I’m a visual person which is how I ended up in Business Intelligence when it was discovered that I had a knack for visual data analysis. I can “see” correlations. I can look at data and recognize the visual outputs that would express it best. This is the same skill I use for formulating a story from inspiration. To me, they’re part and parcel of the same ability to puzzle things out.

I VISUALIZE A PERSON, PLACE OR THING…
IMAGINE A PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE…

Every story that I’ve written has started has either a person or place that popped into my head that felt interesting. A digital image I saw that made me wonder what that would be like if it was real. In the case of Star Citizen, I add to my musings the locations described in the ARK Starmap. What is it like to be there for the average person? What types of challenges would they face?

Distilling these to a fine point my primary sources of inspiration are:

  • Things I daydream about
  • Digital images from the internet
  • Digital images from Pinterest which I keep on a personalized board for future reference
  • Locations that interest me in Star Citizen lore

Corralling that idea into a bonafide story is the hardest and most important part. I believe in the saying that ideas are cheap. Anyone can dream up an idea. The proof of the pudding is assembling it into a cohesive tale.

TEMPLATE FACILITATES A PLOT-DRIVEN STORY

It’s easy to get lost in the woods of your idea, words, characters, events and required story structure. As a Meyers-Briggs INFJ, I can get too focused on the puzzle pieces and I lose sight of writing the story. Since we’re rule followers, I used to inadvertently launch down the detailed outline path as most courses, professors and books suggest, forgetting that for me, it would result in a dead-end.

However, there are certain elements required for writing a cohesive story. And if you want to end up where you want to go, you need to know where you’re headed in the first place. To accomplish this without developing an outline, I created a template to capture the minimum elements contained in any story, of any length. These attributes are represented in a template with (4) sections.

IT WORKS FOR ANY LENGTH STORY

Section One helps you solidify the idea. What is the story you’re trying to tell? This is the most important part of the template. You shouldn’t start writing a single word of your story until you can articulate this much!! Completing Section One will save you countless hours of having to edit your plot and the sequence of events because you hadn’t really formulated the story before you started writing it.

The exception noted in the template is the Theme. You may not truly know what it is until you’ve completed a majority of the story. Once you’ve identified the theme you may want to go back and edit your story to make it more apparent IF you feel you REALLY have something distinct you’re trying to impart about the human condition.

REDUCE EDITING TIME – CLARIFY YOUR LOGLINE AND MDQ FIRST

Always start with the logline. This is a one-sentence summary of the whole plot. That’s right, you should be able to reduce your whole idea to a maximum of two sentences. Movies do it all the time. It’s the elevator pitch. It’s the tagline you see on the billboards. Search loglines for your favorite movies to see examples.

Here’s the logline for Gladiator starring Russel Crowe: When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor’s corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge. This logline superbly sums up the whole movie. It also leads you directly to the Major Dramatic Question (MDQ), the next most important thing to clarify before you begin.

The MDQ in Gladiator is will he get his revenge? This is the question you must answer by the end of your story. Ideally, it’s at the very end, depicted in a direct showdown with the antagonist/blocker. Your story plot should have the protagonist taking steps toward achieving the MDQ during the course of the story in his/her favor but failing to do so, until the final encounter/showdown/attempt. This is the essence of establishing your plot and conflict. Joe wants X but Y is preventing him from accomplishing it. What lengths will Joe go to in order to achieve X?  How much opposition can Y exert? Who wins in the end – X or Y?

ESTABLISHING THE SETTING IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE STORY’S PLOT

Establishing the story’s setting for sci-fi and fantasy is called world building. This is where you specify the time period, dictums and societal norms of the environment your characters are in. We can’t recognize what’s extraordinary if we don’t know what’s common. You need to take the time to clarify these rules for yourself first to ensure consistency in your fiction. And yes, it’s important to do this upfront and play by the rules you set. Readers don’t like Deus Ex resolutions, where you have to solve your plot by the sudden appearance of an all-powerful item, person, etc. that falls from the sky and was never heard of in your story until that moment.

READERS DON’T LIKE DEUS EX RESOLUTIONS

If you knew up front that you were going to use a miraculous device/person as part of the resolution, hints of its existence should have appeared very early or at least midway through the story. Ideally, using an element of foreshadowing. This is satisfying for readers who connect the dots. Sometimes in movies, you’ll see them flashback to the foreshadowing moment to ensure the audience realizes it’s not a Deus Ex event.  All of these are things you consider in the Setting section of the template and you add to it as ideas develop while you’re writing.

For me at least, Section Two of my template, plotting the story, is the easy part. However, that might be because I spend the most time defining the story in Section One. By the time I’ve completed Section One, I’ve already visualized all the major plot points. In Section Two, I’m simply jotting them down in chronological order.

Some writers find it easier to plot backward. If they know where they have to end up, it’s easier for them to plot logically what must have preceded it. I’ve done a bit of both in longer form fiction. I may immediately know the beginning and end but have to noodle on what comes in between. Here you want to do what works for you but I caution starting to write your story before completing Section Two. Especially if you’re not a fan of large scale plot editing after the fact.

The only other advice about my template for Section Two is that the Life Today and Inciting Incident are particularly important. If we don’t know what’s normal for the character’s life, we won’t recognize when something happened that tipped their world off center. We won’t recognize the event that established the MDQ which is their quest. It’s imperative that the reader recognizes it so they can cheer them on and become invested in the actions that follow.

The rest of the template is cake and self-explanatory. After the character’s world has been rattled what will they attempt to set it straight? What obstacles will you put in their path to establish conflict? Typically the Dire Straits moment should be the most dramatic and meaningful. This is the last stand attempt at achieving the MDQ, where all hope is lost if they fail.

WRITING STAR CITIZEN FAN-FIC HAS AN EXTRA SECTION

When writing fan-fiction it’s important to readers that you remain authentic to that world and its canon. Unless of course, if you’re intentionally shifting its lore like people do when they change the endings or the outcomes of relationships. In the case of Star Citizen, I use the actual ships, Galactic Guides, Lore Dispatches and the ARK Starmap to ground my stories. Everything else is fair game but I want the elements of the physical universe I depict to be accurate.

An invaluable resource for me in doing this is my own website that contains information from the official ARK Starmap, Galactic Guides, and Dispatches presented in a format that’s searchable and easier to scan all the known star system information on a single screen.

I use my:

  • Starmap Matrix to scan systems to see what catches my interest in relation to the story I’m telling.
  • Detailed Composition page to see all the known objects in the system (s) I decide to use.
  • Route Planner to see ALL possible routes between systems when travel is involved. Unlike the official ARK Starmap, I show every single option which often plays into adding points of conflict such as devising reasons why they have to take the longer or more dangerous route.

All of the above helps to create authenticity in the story for readers who are informed Star Citizen fans. And although I consider my content for ‘casuals’ I know that I have SC lore fans among my followers.

BEGIN PRACTICING THE ART OF STORYTELLING

If you want to take a stab at writing fiction but don’t have a formal training, I think my template is distilled to the essential elements necessary for a story. Although writing short form versus long form such as novels is a very different beast, you can still hone your craft and establish your style and voice by practicing with short fiction. You also have the added benefit of being able to finish more stories in the same period of time as a learning experience.

If you’re interested in writing sci-fi or fantasy, I think doing fan-fic has the benefit of only having to dabble in world-building while focusing on the craft of writing first. When you feel you have sufficient writing practice under your belt, you can stretch your wings toward developing your own worlds. You can access my template as a Google Doc. It’s my prefered format because it allows me to access my story ideas from any device at any time. It’s a convenient method of ensuring little things that pop into your head make it into the story template for safe keeping. I also maintain a Pinterest board of writing tips.


Star Citizen - My EVE 2.0

Earn 5,000 in-game currency when you create your Star Citizen account here and supply this referral code: STAR-QSVR-JFTR

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.


What is Squadron 42?

Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games

Since the late 80s, Chris Roberts has been taking the most advanced video game platforms available to him and using them to build simulators that allow gamers live out epic space battles that put Star Wars to shame.

As graphics get better, so does his work – Freelancer was a masterpiece in 2003 when it released on PC and since that time, Roberts has focused on cinematic work whilst those of us who didn’t get sucked into Eve Online, have spent fifteen years living in wait for him to return to gaming.

Squadron 42 forms part of Roberts’ glorious return to gaming, a story-driven RPG set in the Star Citizen universe, that is essentially Wing Commander and Freelancer on steroids but with modern day graphics and  AAA budgets. The icing on the cake is the stellar cast he’s assembled. One that is worthy of a blockbuster movie.

It feels like everything Roberts has learned in the past 30+ years from his work in film and gaming has lead to this project. Since the overwhelming success of the Kickstarter campaign, Chris has been attracting top talent to the groundbreaking ambitious project. Ultimately responsible for delivering two games, S42 and an open world MMO called Star Citizen, Chris formed Cloud Imperium Games. With offices in the US and Europe, this intrepid crew holds the dreams of many gamers in their hands.

S42’s Initial Scope

Squadron 42, called S42 by its fans and backers, is a single player campaign comprised of 28 chapters and over 60 missions to complete. It was originally a stretch goal for when the crowdfunding exceeded $29million but considering Star Citizen exceeded $180million in funding, it was a sure thing from the very beginning.

The scope of this story is insane, with over 340 speaking roles cast, over 1250 pages of dialogue written and 50 ships designed. It feels as though every effort is being made to polish the fine details of Squadron 42 and every video released so far has supported that.

The main draw for a game like Star Citizen, and Squadron 42 is the space battles and dogfights. Wing Commander and Freelancer both delivered this, but with modern capabilities, you can expect a much more advanced physics engine, which will put your flying skills to the test.

The aim of Squadron 42, is to complete the campaign and have your character achieve citizenship in the United Empire of Earth.

Citizenship and Choices

Star Citizen has a defined class system where people do not automatically receive citizenship into the Empire just for being born there. Players will find they have multiple options, they can opt out of citizenship altogether, perform civic duties, or join the military by playing Squadron 42, and by completing it, you are set apart from other civilians of the empire as an Elite fighter who served and earned their status.  

This is intended to encourage conflict and division amongst players so that there are different ways to play the game and different benefits for the choices players make.  Citizens of the Empire will receive faster police response when they are chased by pirates and other threats and can enjoy the general protection that Empire citizens deserve. There will be alternative ways to conscientiously object to fighting and still become an Empire Citizen, but as far as we currently know, not in Squadron 42.

We do know that the story will be set in 2945 – after the events of Vega II. The player joins the 42nd Squadron of the UEE Navy, a  team with a reputation for great success in turning ‘problem’ pilots into Elite units who favor unorthodox tactics and space combat.  

So far we’ve seen little of the story, beyond previews from 2015 where the player was serving on the UEES Stanton during a slightly unpolished video shows us a taste of the on-ship interactions.

Due to various postponements, the game has missed its 2016 release date,  there were rumors for 2017 and 2018 but no official date has been set, so we’re now hoping for a 2019 release.

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Newsletter June 2017

Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen Subscriber Newsletter

NEWS

Female Avatars are Coming

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been seeing more and more about CIG’s progress on character customizations, which has also yielded glimpses of the female avatar. As a woman that “plays” her character in games and writes fiction-like tales about my adventures, having a female avatar is paramount. Even with the limited customization, we’re likely to see initially, I’m delighted about the prospect of selecting and customizing a female avatar.

As I’ve said before, my journey in MMOs is always a personal one that manifests itself as blog posts, stories, and pictorial vignettes. Seeing a representation that I picked and suits my tastes is an important element. Thus far, I’ve been using my EVE avatar as my character’s likeness. It will be great to finally create her first iteration in Star Citizen.

Route Planning – Know Your Limits

When I’m doing the logistics included in my short stories, I endeavor to make them factually accurate according to the current configuration of the ARK Starmap. I, of course, use my own tool, the Route Planner on Aly’s World because the ARK Starmap doesn’t actually return all possible paths. I could figure it out manually using one of the maps various other content creators have made but you might be surprised to know how many paths there are between two star systems.

Doing research for Journey to Stanton, it finally hit me that you can’t arrive at all UEE systems without traveling through unclaimed or dangerous ones. This may become problematic for players seeking a PVE focused experience. For example, getting my character from Tanga to Stanton required that she travel through at least one unclaimed territory. As such, it’s a potentially more dangerous star system.

In a scenario for another story, it finally dawned on me that large ships simply can’t reach all destinations. I suppose that’s like “Duh!” but the realization hadn’t set it yet, as someone who owns larger ships. To date, we don’t know the actual size criteria for small, medium and large ships to correspond with the jump point sizes, other than the Freelancer is supposedly the largest in the “small” category.

These size limitation will require lots of logistics planning for ship captains. Not only will it determine where you can’t take that ship but it impacts the number of star systems you must traverse when you can only utilize medium or large jump points. This, in turn, translates into more travel time and fuel costs. I would also think that traversing more star systems increases the probability of running into an aggressor.

I was researching a story involving the 890 Jump and was planning to have Helios as one of the ports of call. Only to realize that depending on how the 890 is classified in terms of jump point size, it might not be technically possible. Helios only supports up to medium sized ships. So while there are 893 possible routes to get from Sol to Helios. That’s an insane number, isn’t it?? You can’t get there with a large ship. You also can’t start in a UEE system and get to another UEE system only passing through UEE systems.

I’m intrigued by the impact jump point sizes will have on travel logistics. AND how the community will react to those limitations once the realizations hit. Are any of your plans likely to be impacted by ship size? What will you do if your ship can’t go through the gate required for your ultimate destination? I can think of a couple of things, neither of which will be quick or convenient.

COMMENTARY

Small Ship I’m Most Excited to Own

Without a doubt, the Drake Herald is the small career ship I’m most excited about flying. There isn’t even a close second anymore. This ship and my fascination with it, speaks loudly about how I often play MMOs.

Confession time, I solo MMOs and I profoundly enjoy doing so. I know. I know. This preference is anathema to more traditional players. I don’t ask or expect the game mechanics to be changed to accommodate me. I don’t kick people in teeth for inviting me to do group content. I’m not antisocial. What I am is on a journey that is best served alone – a good bit of the time.

I like doing my own thing, at my own pace, enjoying the story that evolves in my head. I often take the scenic route versus the fastest. I like to figure things out for myself versus looking them up on the internet. I want to enjoy the ride not hurry to max level. I need downtime after work and family responsibilities and then, I have the time and desire to do content with others. But I will always leave time to end a gaming session doing something alone.

All that said, I have a large fleet of multi-crew ships that excite me more than the Herald. I can’t wait to travel the ‘verse with family, friends, and org mates. I look forward to the group shenanigans we’ll invent. However, when it comes time to do my own thing, I plan on doing that in the Herald.

As a professional in the Business Intelligence field for many years, first as a practitioner and now as a senior product manager, I’m fascinated by the idea of being an Info Agent. I’ve always believed that information is power with the ability to make or break. I’m curious to see how the mechanic will be employed in Star Citizen. Although my natural alignment is chaotic good, I’m willing to at least stretch into chaotic neutral during my adventures.

I like that the Herald can be run solo and that’s the plan for the most part. However, it’s equally great that I can take a friend along if someone’s interested and I have the time. Equally compelling is that the ship can also serve a reconnaissance and/or electronic warfare role in group operations. It’s the best of all worlds in flexibility – solo, duo, and group opportunities. Here’s crossing fingers, eyes, and toes, that the mechanics are implemented well. This is likely the first career I’ll pursue in the released game. As a career, I think the output has the strong potential to inform other careers such as science, exploration and resource collection which benefits a wide variety of other ships. What’s your favorite small career ship? What career do you plan to take on first when Star Citizen releases?

Inspiration Behind Journey to Stanton

I consume a lot of science fiction and fantasy content. Books, audiobooks, movies, cable shows, and podcasts are staples in my entertainment collective. In recent years, I’ve become enamored with narrated drama podcasts because they’re serialized, designed to be consumed in small bites and can be enjoyed while performing other tasks.

My Star Citizen content takes on many faces, two of which are narrated fiction. CIG’s fiction that I record from their Discovered series and my own fan-fiction on Nightbus. On several occasions, I’ve considered dramatizing these in the style of old-time radio to produce what’s now being called audio drama, by amping up dialogue aspect, collaborating with others for voice-overs, and including meaningful sound effects. It would take considerably more work to produce the show. It’s time I barely have but the idea wouldn’t let me alone.

I knew that I wanted to write a story that continued Cami’s tale from Chop Shop and move the story closer to the star system we all know the most about – Stanton. I also wanted it to be a different listening experience than the first time. After much consideration, I decided to dip a toe into the audio drama realm by including different narrators. This would make the production more complicated so I tried to simplify that by keeping the audio for each person in a single block. Hence the strategy of writing the story from four distinct perspectives. The story/script is now with all of the character narrators. I’m excited to see how this all turns out. Depending on the response I might continue this particular story in an audio drama format, as a trial. You can read the short story, Journey to Stanton, in the Fan Fiction section on Aly’s World.


More Content Incoming

Earn 5,000 in-game currency when you create your Star Citizen account here and supply this referral code: STAR-QSVR-JFTR

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been reorganizing the content on AlysianahsWorld.com to meet near-term plans. I will be writing more about Star Citizen, what I’m doing within that community, writing more fiction and getting back to my blogging roots. I felt it was necessary to reorganize how my articles are grouped and categorized to support these changes.

For the hardcore followers of Star Citizen’s development, there’s no lack of available topics. For me, it was about finding the time to research and produce the type of shows that bear my personal signature, which takes a lot of time just for that, much less blog or author other articles. Now that things have settled down in my world, I have more time for my longest running hobby – gaming and writing about my gaming. I hope you’ll stay tuned for more.


Newsletter May 2017 - Piece by Piece

Alysianah’s World of Star Citizen Subscriber Newsletter

ALY’S WORLD UPDATES

Prod Schedule: Piece by Piece

I’m starting a new series of articles that will run exclusively in Star Citizen Nightbus. The articles will be a deep dive into the Star Citizen Production Schedule. As Alpha participants, the schedule is what’s driving the content we are going to experience in the coming months. It’s the angel delivering the ships and features we’re all excited about. The hammer raining down blows of disappointment when things shift out. The war drum echoing shouts of despair when aspects aren’t explicitly included.

Because of the power it wields over what we get to experience and when, I think it warrants a detailed review, versus a high-level glossy treatment in a quickie video. In the series we’ll discuss the work being developed by month and feature type, delving into what that means for game mechanics and new content, and pay special attention to the timelines that are bundled into release candidates.

My aim is to present the Production Schedule material in an educational and entertaining format. The first of this series will appear in The Star Citizen Nightbus Episode 5.

Producing Episodes More Frequently

I’ve been blogging about the games I play for 15+ years. I enjoy writing guides and tutorials to help players get the most out of their gaming experience. Many of us are busy adults with demanding lives. We don’t have time to fumble around in the dark during the time we’ve allocated for entertainment and relaxation.

For Star Citizen, I’ve expanded what I normally do by creating Alysianahsworld.com and producing two YouTube shows. I’d like to do more – more shows, fiction, and lore. However, like everyone else, there are only 24 hours in my day, part of which belong to career and family. Math being what it is, I can’t do more unless some things start taking less time.

Surprisingly and quite unfortunately, it takes more time to produce the shows than writing and recording them. Editing audio, gathering relevant images and footage takes twice as much time as writing and recording. However, they’re necessary elements for my vision.

To help cut back on one aspect, videos and images, I’m starting to build and catalog as much as I can in advance. Particularly, trying to find game footage that’s generic in nature but pleasant to look at. Methods of focusing on minutia in an interesting way that can be shot for longer durations since the content available to us at the moment is limited. So far it’s proving painless to gather the footage as I’m able to do it whenever I have moments to spare versus trying to setup specific scenarios. I need to review a tutorial on using the new camera options too so I can use those techniques to add visual variety. Hopefully, viewers find this approach acceptable in exchange for being able to have episodes released more frequently.

Upcoming Shows

  • Nightbus EP5 – Production Schedule Piece by Piece series & The Exterminator: Part One
  • Nightbus EP6 – The Exterminator: The Conclusion
  • Causal Citizen EP29 – Cold Case Files and Review of Flight-Ready Bounty Hunter Ships

COMMENTARY

Tone Deaf

Oh CIG, if there’s a loose thread you unravel it. A wobbly floorboard you trip and fall. Sometimes it’s too evident that passing years and what should be lessons learned, still haven’t steadied your feet. The cringe is real. I’m here for the game so little else matters to me but it sure would be nice for the non-development gaffes to end. CR’s wonderfully expressed and inspiring emails can’t cure all ills.

CIG marketing efforts at times come off as being tone deaf to the fact that they have an extremely vocal, emotional and fickle backer community. And while we should concede all quality of life issues and bugs in the game at this point in the development lifecycle, marketing shouldn’t still be in alpha mode.

The latest gaffe is the 2017 Referral Program Contest. Backers have been waiting for and hearing that an exciting restructuring has been in the works. I think most expected new ranks in the existing program, options for different rewards for the existing ranks and/or something fun that a majority of backers could work toward. Unfortunately, that’s not what was unveiled.

I think if the lower ranked rewards announced had been added into the existing program many would have been happy. Or at least not as WTF outraged about them being included in a timed event. I think if the top rewards for the contest had been announced separately – on its own as part of an annual contest for the referral program it would have gone down smoother. And if the coupe de gras misstep of then promoting the codes of a handful of people hadn’t occurred, fewer pitchforks would have been raised. Unfortunately, when you combine all of the above into one colossal misstep, it seems as though you don’t know this community at all. And when that’s followed closely by a price change twice on the BMM within days of each other because the first increase communicated was wrong, one has to ask WTF are you doing?

It seems as though CIG has learned the type of information the community at large wants to hear about and see in the weekly shows. Bravo! Anyone who’s still complaining about the shows needs to f— off. Every episode can’t be Christmas. Now it’s time for the people involved in marketing and communications AT ALL LEVELS rise to the same level. There’s a bubble up there that needs bursting. They need to consider what they’re doing from this side of the aisle BEFORE they do it.

They have Evocati for testing. Perhaps they need to preview marketing type stuff under NDA with a handful of backers as well. Most any of them could have told them that the Referral Contest wasn’t going to go down well after being touted as a restructuring of the referral program itself, which it was not.

I love CIG – the passion, commitment and hard work that’s easy to see. However, that doesn’t blind me to areas that need improvement — and quickly.

THE ‘VERSE

Excerpt from The Exterminator

On a dilapidated space station, a by-the-book bounty hunter’s personal ethos is challenged when he arrives to conduct a routine vagrant arrest.

“John James, plain name, simple life,” John introduced himself. Followed by “Or you can call me JJ. I’ve no preference.” He reached across the bar toward Maggie and gave her hand a friendly shake.

Maggie immediately warmed to his disarming smile. Was it a trick of the light or did his eyes sparkle? “On drugs more like,” she thought to herself. Shit! She might have to find someone else. But he’d come so highly recommended. She stepped from behind the bar to join him on the other side.

Maggie was deep into her fifties with spiky gray hair she kept long on the top and cut close on the sides and at the back. The lines on her face and circles under her eyes aged her beyond her years. But the fact that she’d been a beauty in her youth was evident.

Maggie and John were standing at the bar of Maggie’s Red Dragon pub, a popular hangout on Grim Hex. The public space was a large rectangular room divided into distinct quadrants. The decor was a cheap gaudy attempt at the Asian Revival decor that had been popular two or more decades ago. Circular black and white rice paper chandeliers with missing panels hung from the ceiling. Scarred wooden dragons acted as vertical beams, the blood red paint chipped and faded. The once gold and purple lotus patterned carpet was now threadbare.

To be continued…

Star Citizen fan-fiction set on Grim Hex, debuting in Star Citizen Nightbus Episode 5.


Galactic Census Results

Galactic Census by  Chmn_NarwhalKnight on Reddit

Curious about what your fellow citizens plan to do in the persistent universe? Check out the Galactic Census.  I recall participating a few months back and now the results are available for viewing.

Exploration, Trader, Transporter, Merc and Other, round out the top 5 professions in the survey. Curiously, most everyone wants to do some level of exploration, even those who haven’t thus far pledged for a ship capable of doing exploration. Perhaps they’re reflecting their desire to see new sights and travel the less traversed paths of the persistent universe. I suppose that shouldn’t be too surprising given the expansive and intricate world that Cloud Imperium Games is developing.

It appears that I’m not alone in planning to pursue multiple career paths.  I still don’t even know what I’ll start with when the game goes live. It’s likely to be one of my smaller ships to get the lay of the land since I’m cautious about playing too much in alpha and beta. I try every patch when it first releases and then I stop playing. I like to save as much as possible for the live game and ensure that I don’t burn out early.

Small ships I plan to utilize first:

  • Herald for EWAR and as an Info Runner, my go-to activity when I want to play solo
  • Cutlass Red for small scale search and rescue with a partner
  • Terrapin for solo exploration and/or search and rescue in dangerous areas
  • Sabre for any combat oriented missions

Have you decided which career path you’re going to focus on first? If you plan to participate aboard multi-crew ships what roles are you most interested in doing? Like the survey, I’m less interested in flying the ship as well. I like to be free to document the adventure by taking screenshots, video and the occasional note. That’s hard to do if you’re in control of the vehicle or a primary combat role which is why I prefer not to be either in MMOs. For me, chronicling my journey is as important has having experienced it.


Interesting Facts Cards

Interesting Facts posts by TBHR on Reddit

I ran across a thread recently on the Star Citizen Reddit forum providing bits of lore, something that intrigues me. TBHR is taking lore facts and dispensing them in visually attractive bite-size chunks here on Imgur. If you’re into the lore, these are very good. I even learned a few things. Unfortunately, he/she doesn’t have a way to sort or search through them since they’re images. Hosting them in a friendlier environment with tags for each tip would be nice and make them more useful as reference material.

I’ve reached out to the author/curator of these to see if they’d grant permission for me to record them for inclusion in my SC Nightbus show. Hopefully, they will. I think it would make a fun addition.


Life in Alpha 2.4

Earn 5,000 in-game currency when you create your Star Citizen account here and supply this referral code: STAR-QSVR-JFTR

Star Citizen Alpha 2.4 is live. This episode takes a look at the content available for testing.

 

Show Transcript

Welcome to another episode of Casual Citizen. An on-going series about the upcoming first person MMO Star Citizen by Cloud Imperium Games.  I’m your host Alysianah from the Mystic Worlds Gaming Blog.

It’s been awhile since Casual Citizen covered “playing the game” – talked about what’s going on with the game itself and not its assets. The release of patch 2.4 to the Live server brings new gameplay to chat about, so let’s!

Please sit back, relax and enjoy.

BEGIN TRANSMISSION

 

Setting up shop

Anyone who has followed my gaming blog over the years knows that I enjoy meaningful player housing.  Housing where having that personal space brings gameplay mechanics that impact the persistent elements of the game.  Things like being able to craft or sell items out my house.  

The closest equivalent to player housing we have thus far in Star Citizen is our ship hangars. Here we can see our ships, configure our ships and display hangar decorations and furniture we own. It’s your personal instance in space. For testing purposes, we can enter into our hangar via the game’s menu and only one exists at any given time.  When the game releases, these hangars will be located on a specific planet in a particular star system that you’ll have to travel to. It will be your ship’s garage and a place to store local inventory similar to how stations behave in EVE Online.

The fact that the game was placing my inventory automatically made the hangars feel like a generic waiting room. Like walking into a stranger’s office or home.  Patch 2.4’s new Item Port System changes that. We don’t have 100% control over where things go – certain size items can only go in slots of a similar size. But nothing is placed in my hangar that I don’t explicitly place myself. It feels more like it’s mine now. Hence the very first thing I did when 2.4 was pushed to the Live server was decorated my hangar.

I started with the Aeroview because I like the art style better. It’s has a homier feel to me. I like the observatory office’s layout. But after spending more time decorating it, I realized it was too dark for my tastes and had to return to the Revel & York.  And while I don’t enjoy it’s modern somewhat austere corporate style, I prefer brightly lit rooms and so far, Revel & York is the only hangar with bright lighting.

I got a kick out of placing my ships by hand.  Walking around placing my furniture and decorations where I wanted them. I can’t wait for more hangar variety such as reflecting the aesthetics of the planet where the hangar is located.

Configuring My Combat Ships

I had a strong dislike for the holo table. Coming from the easy to use Ship Fitting tool in EVE Online, it seemed blasphemous to deal with that thing. I’m sorry. I know that was someone’s baby and they like it…  But no, just no. Without persistence retaining my efforts made using the hellatable, I couldn’t be bothered.  The new item port system removes that barrier so I went whole-hog on trying new weapons on my primary ships.

For combat, my go to ship is the Sabre, a single seater fighter from Aegis Dynamics. There’s no interior other than the cockpit. I don’t have to worry about stowaways boarding her in the persistent universe and she’s so sexy. Such a sleek sexy looking ship.

Her original weapon configuration was two CF-117 BADGERS, which are size 2 laser weapons and two CF-227 PANTHERS which are size 3 laser weapons.  I opted to change over to using four size 3 PANTHERS for more damage and a single target pip.

Before settling on the four Panthers, I had tried replacing the two Badgers with two TARANTULA GT-870 MK3s, which are size 3 ballistic weapons. But I didn’t like the slower rate of fire on a fast ship like the Sabre. I do realize that for optimum configuration, I shouldn’t have all laser or all ballistic but at this stage of the game, it’s fine.  Instead of letting the Tarantulas go to waste, I put them on the slower moving, designed to hit heavier, Freelancer. Like the Sabre, I outfitted my Hornet Ghost with Panthers.

Interacting directly with the ship to test different weapons combinations was much more intuitive. It’s also a great way of learning what components make up your ship – the names and sizes of your ship’s components, for when reconfiguring more of our its systems is brought online.

Adjusting Voice Attack for Game’s New Control Scheme

I can not fly without Voice Attack – period. I fly with a HOTAS and there simply aren’t enough buttons to achieve even the basics.  If you’re interested in more details about the ins and outs of Voice Attack, you can find articles I’ve written on the subject in the show notes.

2.4 included a complete overhaul of the game’s control scheme. This meant that everyone’s voice attack profiles had to be reconfigured. Changes like this, which are to be expected in an alpha, are why I keep mine very bare bones. It wasn’t much of a hassle to fix mine and I decided to integrate using my own voice as A.I. responses, as early testing for creating voice pack I have considered undertaking. It won’t be a command-oriented voice pack.  It will be about lore, gameplay, and roleplay. More on that in a future show.  For now, I tested recording a few things and integrating them into my profile. I think it turned out well for a first attempt.  Here’s a small sample. A completed version will have star system information and lore.

Earning aUEC to buy my first flight suit

Hangar, ships and voice attack profile all set, it was time to hit the 2.4 persistent universe. I had one and only one goal in mind – obtain The Yeezy space suit! To know more about the origin of how the Odyssey Flight Suit was nicknamed The Yeezy, check out the show notes for a link to an article on my blog. It’s a bit started by Dan Gheesling that’s caught on among his Star Citizen followers.

Purchasing The Yeezy meant accumulating 7.3 thousand aUEC in game.  You start off with 2.5 thousand.  If you don’t have to replace or repair your ship, successfully completing 2 or 3 missions should earn enough credits. The fastest route, with the smallest risk of encountering PVP, is doing missions from the ICC Probe.  These missions occur in far-flung parts of the Yela asteroid field, which tends to be quieter than other parts of Crusader.

I took three missions in succession.  The first one was rather a poor showing combat-wise. I encountered lag when the NPC pirates spawned and created more lag by needing to capture video footage. Once things hit 15 FPS or less my motion sickness kicks in pretty hard but I was determined to finish.

My Sabre and I were able to successfully route the pirates. I even helped out another player in between my second and third mission. EVAing out of your ship in the asteroid field is pretty damn spectacular. The lighting.  Feeling the immenseness of space as you glide away from the safety of your cockpit. Interacting with objects in space to complete the missions such as retrieving voice recorders from wrecked ships, does not get old!

I didn’t spend time exploring Yela for the new wrecks with abandoned cargo that have been introduced.  But I lucked up on one.  I noticed a wreck a short distance away from where I was completing a mission. When I arrived at the location, it was a crate of premium cigars.  I quickly looted them and vacated the area.

Now that repairing your ship costs credits, I’ve noticed more players flying around with partially damaged ships. It’s actually funny to see how quickly the 2.4 changes have infiltrated the mindset of the average alpha player.  I waited until after I’d purchased The Yeezy to assess whether or not I wanted to repair and restock missiles. In the end, I did. It cost less than 1 thousand aUEC so I figured why not? I’m not interested in FPS weapons. I’m unlikely to bother with buying civilian clothes until the female avatar is in the game.

The Yeezy out of the way, next I want to complete the Comm Array mission that culminates in you being asked to defend Port Olisar. And I want to try out the pirate mechanic just once and using the hacking system and Kareah to erase my criminal record.  That’s going to be an adventure and a half!

I’m extremely pleased with the features introduced in 2.4. I’d like to spend more time in the persistent universe now.  If I can eek out the time.  I’m excited about what’s to come in the immediate future as it’s only up up up from here!

SHOW NOTES

The Show notes will contain links the articles I’ve written about using Voice Attack.  A more detailed retelling of getting The Yeezy Suit that was written from my blog and a sample of the Voice Pack I’m working on for Star Citizen.

Voice Attack Articles

What’s all This Voice Attack Stuff?
http://www.redacted.tv/whats-all-this-voice-attack-stuff/

How to Add Voice Attack Profiles
http://notadiary.typepad.com/mysticworlds/2015/07/star-citizen-how-to-add-voice-attack-profiles.html

And So It Begins.  The Road to Obtaining The Yeezy
http://notadiary.typepad.com/mysticworlds/2016/06/star-citizen-24-and-so-it-begins.html
If you’ve enjoyed this episode please consider subscribing to my channel and giving this episode a thumbs up.  All the kind words and support are much appreciated.  Be sure to also check me out on www.Reacted.TV, where I’ll be bringing you newsworthy articles on Star Citizen.

As ever, be kind and fly safe.  This is Alysianah signing off until next time.

END TRANSMISSION


Alpha 2.1 Content

Show Transcript

Welcome to episode 3 of Casual Citizen, an on-going series about the upcoming 1st person MMO, Star Citizen by Cloud Imperium Games.  I’m your host Alysianah from the Mystic Worlds Gaming Blog.

BEGIN TRANSMISSION

This week’s episode will take us into the realm of actual game content, as we discuss what’s available for play-testing Alpha 2.0. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

What version of the game are you play testing?

One of the first things to understand about play-testing Star Citizen is that there are two different environments. We have the Private Test Universe, commonly called PTU.  This is where new content and changes are released to a subset of the backers for testing.  Testing on the PTU allows development to ensure they don’t introduce game-breaking defects to the other environment for play-test called the Live server.

As a backer, you are not guaranteed access to the PTU. The subset of players invited to PTU changes based on how wide an audience they feel they need to participate. The duration of the PTU also varies, depending on the number of issues found and how long it takes to fix them.  When and if you’re invited to play-test on PTU, you’ll receive an email from CIG explaining how to participate.

The Live Server is the version of Star Citizen that is available to all backers who own a game package.  Live content has already gone through play-test on the PTU, and was deemed appropriate for wider consumption.  In general, when people are discussing game mechanics and what there is to do in Star Citizen, they’re discussing the Live version.  If not, they’ll preface that it’s PTU. Likewise, if you encounter an issue or have a question, make sure you’re clear in distinguishing PTU from Live.

One of the ways in which development teams keep track of the content included in a particular release, is by using version numbers.  Star Citizen is no different.  The content on the PTU has a version number as does the Live Server.  In general, the PTU is further ahead than Live because it’s where content is released first.  For example, the PTU is currently at 2.1.d while the Live Server is sitting at 2.0.  This means that not only did a 2.1 version of the game get published to PTU but it’s been updated  four times – a, b, c, d. Additionally, no version of the changes sitting on PTU were deemed stable enough to be published to the Live Server and we know this because it’s sitting at 2.0.

All that said, it’s important to know the distinction between PTU and Live when you’re asking for help.  People generally need to know the version number too. This is especially true when discussing issues on the forums, Reddit or reporting bugs on the Issues Council. Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way let’s discuss the content that’s currently available on the Live Server.

The Hangar Module

The hangar module was the first part of the game released to players for play-testing. Historically speaking, it’s also the first place a ship shows up in the game. Ships are made Hangar Ready before they become flight ready, something we discussed in the episode 2.

When you purchase ships beyond the one from your initial game package, you must add them to the hanger yourself. This is done using the My RSI option on RobertsSpaceIndustries.com. After clicking My RSI, click the My Hangar link. From there you’ll see the different hangars you have access to and all of the items you’ve purchased, that can be displayed in a hangar, such as your ships.

Click the Configure button to change to a different themed hangar or drag and drop available ships on the left, to where you want them in your hanger on the right. Depending on the ship size, multiple ships may be able to fit in the same bay.  The number of bays in your hanger will shrink and grow to fit the number of ships you have placed into your hangar configuration. When you’re done changing things around, click save.  These changes will be reflected in the actual game the next time you enter your hangar.

In addition to previewing ships before they’re Flight Ready, the hangar allows you to customize Flight Ready ships. Each hangar contains a Holo table.  This is a 3D interface that can be used to customize your ship by changing weapon load-outs, shields, etc. and applying different paint jobs where applicable. Be aware that configurations made using the Holo table do not persist past your current gaming session.  The next time you log into the game, you’ll have to set your ship’s load-out again. This is not the long term intention.  The ability to permanently save changes you’ve made will be implemented sometime after persistence is added to Star Citizen.

In the not too distant future – I hope, the features needed to invite other players into your hangar will be incorporated. This will be a great way to group up with friends in multi-crew ships and discuss the layout and various roles you’ll each play before doing so in combat.  It can also serve as and way to socialize in a private space and allow friends to see ships that are only hangar ready that they might not own. I’m really crossing my fingers that this feature is available alongside the much larger ships being made hangar-ready. Players are speculating that the Starfarer will be the next large ship made hangar ready. I’d be very happy if inviting people into your hangar is unveiled at the same time.

Sim Pod

The Sim Pod is used to access simulation modules such as Arena Commander and Star Marine when it’s available for play-testing.  From a lore perspective, these are games within the Star Citizen universe that citizens play.  For us, they’re modules designed to test very specific game mechanics.  Arena commander supports testing flight and ship combat mechanics.  Star Marine will be for play-testing FPS.  The Sim Pod is one of the ways you can access these modules.  Another way is through the game menu recently added.  The new menu simplifies moving between play-test modules.  To access the Game Menu press the Escape key and choose main menu.

Character Load-out

You can change the armor your character is wearing by accessing the character load-out platform in your hanger or by pressing F6. Doing either will let you choose from pre-configured outfits such as light armor or heavy armor.  In the future, we’ll be able to mix and match armor sets as well as other items of clothing that will be purchasable in game. The first such in game store will the Casaba located in ArcCorp Area 18. More on Area 18 in a bit.

Customizing Your Hangar

Similar to player housing in other MMOs, the hangar can store decorative items you purchase from the RSI website, earn through the referral program or are awarded as a subscriber. Aquariums, liquor cabinets, cots, workbenches, posters, trophies, etc. are some of the things currently available.  For now, the game places these items in a static location inside your hangar.  Once the game adds grabby hands, the mechanic that will allow players to grab and place items, we’ll be able to move items to where we want them inside the hangar.

In summary, the hangar is used to view ships and configure their load-outs. Change your character’s armor set and view items you purchased or were rewarded as decorations in your hangar. You can interact with the Sim Pod to enter Arena Commander. In the near future, we’ll be able to invite friends into our hangar and arrange its contents ourselves.

Arena Commander

Arena Commander, called AC, is a module that will remain as module, even after other aspects of the game are molded into a seamless experience.  From an in-game fiction perspective, AC is what pilots use to simulate and test flight mechanics, space combat and racing.  It provides players with an opportunity to experiment and compete, without fear of losing their ship or having their character permanently injured.

The AC menu can be accessed via the game menu by pressing Escape | Electronics Access | Arena Commander or by interacting with the Sim Pod inside your hangar.  Once accessed, the main AC menu has three options. Option 1 is Spectrum Match, which allows you to compete with and against other players in public or private matches. There are different modes, each with different objectives and maps options. Option 2 is Drone Sim, which allows you to access the subset of the Spectrum Match modes that make sense for solo play. Option 3 is Basic Flight Training, the in-game tutorial.

I won’t discuss details of the various AC modes but here are some general thoughts. People play AC Public Matches to compete on the Leaderboards and to earn REC points. REC is used to rent ships and weapons.  A try before buy sort of thing.  To rent items using REC visit RobertsSpaceIndustries.com | Store | Electronic Access.

Drone Sim is very good for learning how flight and combat mechanics work.  There are many videos on YouTube on all aspects of Star Citizen, and this area is no exception.  You can practice what you’re seeing in the video in a safe environment by using Drone Sim Free Flight Mode.  Perfecting takeoff and landing is something good to try in Free Flight Mode.  Press CTRL + F to leave the pilot’s seat which would allow you to then exit your ship.

If you want a “safe” place to practice combat fighting NPCs, Drone Sim Vanduul Swarm mode is the ticket.  Vanduul Swarm presents waves of NPCs for you to defeat. You can gage your improvement by how long it takes you to complete waves and how many waves you can complete before your three lives are depleted.

I enjoy using the Drone Sim racing maps to practice fine tuning my control of a ship. Each ship feels and flies differently.  As a new HOTAS user, I need and want the practice in preparation for navigating Jump Points in the Persistent Universe. Something we’ve been told is dangerous, can lead to damaging your ship on the low end of consequences or death at its worst.

This may seem silly to some but I also use the racing maps to see my ship in daylight. The racing maps are very detailed – like flying through a futuristic city. I imagine this is what it may feel like when I’m departing or arriving with passengers on my Genesis Starliner. Similar to Free Flight, you can exit your ship and goof around in the racing maps.

Lastly, while the Basic Flight Training is a good effort as an alpha tutorial, it does contain bugs and walls of text I find disruptive.  I often found it less frustrating using YouTube and Free Flight.  That said, the tutorial is an excellent method of learning the game’s lingo and default key mappings.

The Social Module – ArcCorp Area 18

Before I talk about the role of ArcCorp Area 18, I want to provide some context. Like our universe, Star Citizen will be made up of many star systems.  Within a star system such as ours which is called Soul, there is of course a star, our sun, and planets that orbit it, like earth.  Those planets may have satellite celestial bodies of their own, like our earth has the moon. Stanton is a star system within the fictional universe of Star Citizen. ArcCorp is one of the 4 planets within that system. Area 18 is a landing zone on the planet ArcCorp.

From a play test perspective, Area 18 is for testing social features of the game. It’s our first look at the types of content we will find planetside. There are pure social locations such as bars. Medical facilities where players would be resurrected if they died in the vicinity or wanted to purchase medical supplies. In the near future, we’ll be able to customize your character’s clothing by shopping in various clothing and weapon stores. Some cities will have dealerships with ships on display that you can purchase.  There are job boards where we can receive missions, accept fulfillment orders or take requests to ship cargo, etc.  Planetside landing zones is where players will connect with each other and the NPCs carrying out the everyday activities that keep the society humming.

For now, there’s not a lot to DO in Area 18 but it’s still a must see!  I’ve yet to visit the area and find it empty. It’s definitely a fun place to explore and get a taste of what’s to come.  You access Area 18 by entering the elevator in your ship hangar.  The location of the elevator varies depending on the hangar but it’s usually not too far from where your character appears when you spawn in. Once inside the elevator use the keypad to select Area 18.

There are some helpful functions to know for the social module

  • F10 brings up chat
  • F11 opens augmented reality – like name plates in other MMOs but way cooler
  • F12 is your contacts list
  • There are slash emotes such as salute, hello and dance1 thru dance 6 will let you get your groove on at the G Loc bar.

Dun-dun-dun…The Persistent Universe – Crusader

Earlier I mentioned that ArcCorp is one of 4 planets in the Stanton system. Crusader is another. Similar to how ArcCorp Area 18 is being used to play-test planetside content, Crusader is being used to test persistent universe mechanics.

The persistent universe is where Star Citizen becomes a seamless first person MMO gaming experience.  It’s where you can move from a station or planet-side location to deep space. Once in space, you can explore, do missions, work on careers and trade professions, engage in combat, etc., all without a single loading screen.

Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 contains the first tiny slice of the persistent universe – the area around Crusader and some of its celestial objects. The map itself is small compared to the intended size of the system, and the Star Citizen universe in general.  However, it’s large compared to the other play test areas available to us.  It would take several hours for you to fly from one end of the crusader map boundary to the other.

The Crusader we’re play-testing in over the coming months will deviate from the content it will have in the released version of the game. CIG will be injecting space stations, landing zones and other elements in order to test mechanics and features, as they’re developed.  For example, the planetoid and space station shown in the Pupil to Planet demo, is part of the Nyx star system.  However, to test the technology, they’ll be dropped temporarily into Crusader and likely removed once navigating Jump Points have been added so that we can’t actually get to Nyx.  It’s important to keep in mind that content may come and go in Crusader for testing purposes and that its composition at any given time, may not match what’s described in the Stanton Galactic Guide or shown in the ARK Starmap.

How to Access Crusader

You can access Crusader from Persistent Universe option on the game menu.  It’s also accessible on the keypad in the elevator that’s inside your hanger.  If you’re not already in your hanger, pressing the escape key to bring up the Game Menu is the easiest method.

What’s Currently Available in Crusader?

There are a handful of activities you can participate in now, in the persistent universe for Crusader.  First off, when you spawn into Crusader you’re in the Port Olisar space station. You’ll want to exit your room and make your way downstairs to the Ship Deck.  Interact with one of the consoles in the Ship Deck to summon a ship. Remember that the list of ships includes only those that are Flight Ready and loaners for ships you own, that aren’t Flight Ready. Pay attention to the message on the console telling you where your ship will be delivered and make your way there. You’ll need to interact with the closest airlock to get outside. Once to open the airlock and then to close it on the station side, pressurize and open the door on the external side.

Ship security features have not been implemented yet.  Once you open your ship, anyone can enter from thereafter. Stowaways and ship theft are a thing right now.  Similarly, if you leave your ship on the landing pad for a long period of time – I think after 10 minutes, it will auto unlock for anyone to take.

Features to control PVP have not been completed.  The only location that is safe from non-consensual PVP is Port Olisar, which is an armistice zone. Once you leave those friendly waters, you can be attacked anywhere. Situational awareness is key, as is patience.  Most of the trolling and griefing has died down now that the newness has worn off but it’s fairly easy to stumble across trolls on in any MMO.

Keep in mind that PVP and piracy are a part of Star Citizen.  They are valid play styles.  However, the mechanics to control the where and when, as well as impose consequences, haven’t been implemented but they will be. For now, be patient, take things as they come.  Nothing that happens in Crusader is permanent.  NOTHING. If your ship is stolen or destroyed, make your way back to the Ship deck and summon it again. It’s that simple.

Once you’re in a ship, you’re free to play-test the following elements:

Missions – The basics of the mission delivery system are in place.  Visiting the various Comm Arrays will start a mission event, which has a series of objectives to complete. You can track missions using your Mobi Glass which is accessed by pressing F9. Be prepared for combat. NPC pirates will arrive a few seconds after you enter the general vicinity. You’ll also need to exit your ship and EVA into the Comm Array. CTFL +F lets you exit the pilot’s seat.

You can explore the Covalex Shipping Hub, an abandoned space station that’s lost its gravity generator among other things. Collecting data files will tell the story of what happened there and complete a mission.  The ending varies depending on which files you collected. Be on your guard. You may get shot in the face if you startle someone or run across a trigger happy player.

Cry Astro is where you can refuel, restock ammo and repair your ship.  Right now everything is free, so make use of these services.  Eventually, this will cost in-game money.  The drones that come out to service your ship are placeholders until NPCs are introduced into the game.

Be sure to visit Tessa at the ICC Scan Probe. She’s cheeky and really shows off the quality of voice over talent we can expect in-game. Her missions aren’t about tipping through the tulips. In most cases, be ready for combat wherever it is she sends you.

Yela is nearby asteroid belt.  I believe the asteroids there are placeholder since it should be the Aaron Halo ring which isn’t as close to Crusader.  Again – liberties are being taken to support testing.  This is probably where we’ll first test the mining mechanics.  For now, it’s just a cool place to fly around.  You’ll occasionally run into NPC pirates and PVP players.  Some of the asteroids are large enough to land your ship on.  It’s a cool thing to do so be sure to check it out.

Last but not least is the Koreah space station. This is for all intents and purposes a FPS location. Players can find automatic weapons here. Don’t go there unless you WANT TO PVP. You can’t sightsee there and whine if you get your head blown off. You will likely encounter PVP on the way in, as players try to clear a safe landing for themselves to enter – which is to be expected.  Might not be the best idea to show up alone if you can avoid it. Troll-ish behavior is rather rampant around the location. Players will destroy ships on the landing pads and then leave. Clearly, not looking for a fight, just an easy target. If you land a ship someone else doesn’t have and wants to try, expect it to be stolen. If you land safely and someone else is already there, people often destroy your ship so you can’t leave, in hopes of initiating a FPS exchange. Net-net is no Korea unless you want to engage in PVP. PERIOD.

Those are the highlights of the content currently available in Crusader, which is the Persistent Universe alpha.  Two things you’ll need to know to reach any of these locations efficiently.

Flight Modes – there are three flight modes when flying in the persistent universe.  

  • PRE is Precision mode and is for small slow movements like takeoff and landing.
  • SCM is faster movements such as those needed in combat. CRU is cruise mode, the fastest your ship can fly and being in your control.  It’s for covering large distances but allows very limited changes in direction. Use PRE to land or maneuver in tight spaces.  Use SCM for combat. USE CRU to close the gap on someone, run or move thru an area quickly. Toggle through the flight modes using the V key.
  • Quantum Drive – QD is like the warp travel we’ve seen in movies like Star Trek.  In Star Citizen, it’s used to travel large distances within the same Star System, such as the Crusader area in Stanton.  The QD lets you leap from one location to the next.  You can warp to specific locations by pressing the B key to see available locations.  Point the nose of your ship toward the location until you see it highlighted. Press the middle mouse button to engage your Quantum Drive and warp to that location. Incidentally, you can warp to the middle of nowhere using the same steps. Press B, pick a location in space and click the middle mouse button. This is an excellent tactic for escaping an encounter. Technically, you shouldn’t be able to warp away if your shields are down but the game isn’t currently enforcing that rule.

Oh my, that was a lot of content to cover this week but I wanted to complete the preliminaries so we could dive into more details and fun stuff, as casual citizens.  This week’s show notes are simple.  Check out Citizen Academy, Tactical Advance, Bored Gamer and TheNoobifier1337 on YouTube.  The types of videos I suggest reviewing are landing and takeoff, HUD basics, basic combat and flight mechanics, especially the new Flight Modes and introductions to the PU – Persistent Universe. I also recommend viewing videos that discuss whatever ship you plan on flying first.  These usually discuss the ins-and-outs of that particular ship.

That was much longer than what I plan as a typical show.  I hope you find it useful, albeit you may have to listen to it a couple of times.  This is Alysianah signing off until next time.

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