Alpha 3.1 Truck Stops

Space, the ultimate frontier, is why I backed Star Citizen. Traveling to distant star systems as captain of a themed luxury cruise ship, remote medical facility, food production facility, science and research vessel or purveyor of unique goods, is what I care about most. I will visit alien worlds to explore or acquire resources. However, being aboard my ship is my prime directive, which is why I’m much more excited about CIG’s plans for space stations and truck stops than planetside outposts.

We’ve seen the early development of space stations in what’s available in Alpha 2.x. We know that the design team has been hard at work devising modular set pieces to assist in populating the vast open spaces of the planned persistence universe. Space stations, planetside outposts, and truck stops are part of the toolbox being used to bring the Star Citizen universe to life.

Alpha 3.0 will be our first taste of the outposts. Truck stops aren’t scheduled to debut until Alpha 3.1. I’m looking forward to these much more so than the content planned for the planets other than the actual cities.

FROM CIG

Design has been outlining the types of stores that will start to make their way into the PU. In the discussions about the new Truck Stop, it became apparent that all stations have the need for a certain level of resources to sustain their existence and thought that it was a little weird to sell resources directly to the shops themselves, so a new shop type was created. The Admin Office will focus on buying and selling station imports and exports for the local stores on the stage. This shop would also control Local Storage Rentals and include a job board to complete and plan deliveries. This shop type will be in the majority of the locations that don’t have a full-fleshed out Trade and Development Division, which is focused more on commodity trading.

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The ability to refuel and repair already exists in the persistent universe gameplay albeit they’ve been using placeholder animation. With the A.I./NPCs coming on board with 3.0, the 3.1 version of Truck Stops should have actual NPCs replacing the placeholder animations carried out at places like Cry Astro. Even more exciting will be the actionable content and missions, that will come with having an Admin Office at a Truck Stop. As well as the trade and cargo opportunities offered using the Kiosks. I envision players being able to take missions to pick up and deliver cargo plus acquire items for import/export. We’re likely to encounter scenarios where Truck Stop A needs XYZ which can only be obtained by traveling to Truck Stop B or perhaps, you have to go planetside to Station D. Missions along this line seem obvious as options.

Equally intriguing are CIG’s statements that Truck Stops can provide local storage for rent. What type of services will that offer? Can I store a ship there? Cargo? Both? If I’m carrying more items than required for a particular delivery and don’t want to risk taking everything on board with me, can I put some in local storage and come back for it later? I might consider doing that in certain locations. My EVE days have taught me that traveling with all your eggs in one basket can be an unwise decision with gut wrenching outcomes.

Perhaps a group of friends wants to explore on Dragonflies. Is it possible for us to show up in a Caterpillar that has our bikes in the cargo bays, put the Cat in storage at a Truck Stop then jet off into the unknown on the bikes? I like the idea of being able to change out ships without heading all the way back to a Port Olisar type station. Either by bringing my side ride along and putting the larger in storage at a truck stop or having ship kiosks available there which would allow the same flexibility.  Right now, players often kill themselves for a quick ride back to exchange ships. The introduction of persistent damage states in Alpha Patch 3.0, makes that less attractive quick ride option.

I’m also looking forward to Truck Stops adding more life to the dark recesses of deep space. New areas where players can congregate, shop and explore. I visit all locations in MMOs. I hang out in storefronts and buildings that are little more than window dressing. I like poking around behind the curtain and chilling with the NPCs while I do management type tasks – checking email, gabbing in local chat, talking on voice comms or having my dinner. So while I think all the planetside tech is cool and the outposts look great, I’m more excited by seeing space populated with more locations such as the Truck Stops currently estimated to arrive in Alpha Patch 3.1.




Alpha 2.1 Available 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.

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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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How to Become a Star Citizen

 

Show Transcript

BEGIN TRANSMISSION

This is Alysianah from the Mystic Worlds gaming blog with another episode of Casual Citizen. A series about Cloud Imperium Games’ ambitious crowd funded games Star Citizen and Squadron 42.  The goal is to help casual follower or players understand the games and stay abreast of important events.

For as much information as Cloud Imperium Games has on the Star Citizen game site, figuring out what’s currently playable, flyable and how to join up, isn’t an easy task.  For casual followers of the game, it can easily become information overload.  In this episode we’re going to focus on unlocking the mystery of how to become a Star Citizen.

Let’s begin by reiterating that Star Citizen is FAR from a completed game!  Star Citizen is using an open development process that allows supporters to play test content as it becomes available.  Players who choose to participate in this process can provide CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK that contributes to improving the breadth of testing that’s possible and in some cases, refine how mechanics are implemented.  

That said, remember that we are not shareholders or part of the Cloud Imperium Games development staff.  Whether or not to utilize feedback being provided is ultimately up to them and their collective vision for the game as a whole.  The reasons behind some of their decisions may not initially be apparent to us, as we’re only seeing tiny slices of mechanics at a time.  That ends my personal disclaimer in hopes that if you do choose to fund Star Citizen and participate in play testing, you’ll behave as a positive influence in our growing community.

As of this recording, the only way to have permanent access to play-test Star Citizen content being released to backers, is by purchasing a GAME PACKAGE.  Game packages currently include a ship, alpha and beta PLAYTEST access to Star Citizen, first episodes released for Squadron 42, a ship hangar and other digital assets depending on the package.

 The variance in package prices reflect the ship or ships being included in the pledge you’re contributing toward development.  Remember that ships being purchased now can be acquired in-game without using real life cash once the game releases.  The primary reason to pledge/purchase now is to fund the development of the game.  If you’re not into play-testing alpha quality content or early access games, this scenario isn’t for you.  Stop now – beyond here be dragons. It’s better for you to wait for the beta or released game than becoming disgruntled, upset and foaming at the mouth over alpha quality content.

If however, you possess the willingness and patience then listen on, we’re glad to have you come aboard.

Conquering RobertsSpaceIndustries .com

Choosing the Fly Now option is the easiest and lowest costing method of obtaining a game package that is regularly available.

Fly Now presents you with two $45 USD options for backing Star Citizen.

First up is the Aurora MR which is actually one of three ships in the Aurora line.  The MR is the middle of the road choice between a combat focused ship and low price point ship with cargo capacity.

The other option is the Mustang Alpha. A fast ship often used for racing.  The Mustang can also stand up to combat.  But it wouldn’t be my first choice as a dedicated combat ship.

You may see people talking about the Star Citizen Starter package.  These are limited offer packages that are discounted to $30 USD and only offered during special events. If you really want to play-test NOW I wouldn’t wait around for one.  If you’re on the fence, then keep your eyes open for the next special event or sale where these will be offered.  Be forewarned – the Star Citizen Starter packages tend to sell out very quickly when restocked.

Fairly recently CIG has added a Squadron 42 pre-order package which is essentially the Aurora MR Fly Now package but is only available until Squadron 42 releases in 2016.  At some point in the not too distant future they will remove Squadron 42 as a standard part of game packages and sell it as a stand alone item. Therefore buying a game package NOW is the cheapest you will ever be able to buy both games and participate in the play test.

In summary, the easiest and cheapest way to become a Star Citizen and have permanent access to play test content and the first release of Squadron 42, is by purchasing one of the two Fly Now options which are the Aurora MR and Mustang Alpha.

Other Game Packages

Don’t blackout from sticker shock when you see the price tag on some of the other Game Packages.  These are for people who want to contribute that much to the game’s development in exchange for the contents of those packages.

I suggest that until you know more about what you want to do in Star Citizen, you stick to the ships in the $45 to $100 USD range.  If you want to contribute more at a later date, by way of acquiring a large ship, you can upgrade your existing ship using the Cross Chassis Upgrade system that I’ll discuss in a future episode.  

All you need to know now is that you will get 100% purchase price CREDIT on any ship you buy.  You can in turn use the credit to upgrade to different ship in the future.  This means you have nothing to lose by starting small until you know more about the game and whether or not it’s really going to float your boat.

In case you couldn’t help surfing beyond the Fly Now options, let’s discuss things you might consider  even as a casual citizen.  Unfortunately is rather easy to become confusing about what you’re purchasing if you free roam  the “All Game Packages” section of RSI.  Let’s discuss what’s there at a high level but don’t you dare take a gander at “All Ships” yet!  You must learn to walk first little duck. You are not prepared for what lurks under “All Ships”.

The “All Game Packages” section contains all packages that are purchasable as pledges to fund Star Citizen.  However, not all the ships are ready for play testing. And this is what trips some people up when trying to pledge.

“Flight ready” ships are viewable in your hangar AND are available for play-testing.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re 100% in their final release state.  Remember THIS IS ALPHA.  Things can and will continue to change.  However, enough of the design and technical implementation have been defined and developed, that these ships are ready to be used on a regular basis. Say this with me…Flight ready ship means I can use it now.

A second category of ship are those that are only “hangar ready”.  “Hangar ready” ships are viewable in your hangar but ARE NOT ready for play-testing. The development pipeline classification allows you to see your new toy inside your hangar.  You can go inside the ship’s cockpit and/or interior to see a preview of the design intent.  Note that these ships often contain placeholder elements so don’t become concerned if an interior element doesn’t look as high fidelity as something else you’ve seen.  This isn’t a finished ship.

When you own a ship that is only “Hangar Ready” you will have a loaner ship available to fly but that loaner won’t be sitting in your hanger.  However, when you go to join any module that contains flight options the name of a ship you don’t actually own will be in the list for you.  That’s your loaner and you’ll have access to it until your ship is “Flight Ready”. In summary, Hangar Ready means you can see it in your hangar and walk around inside of it but it’s not flyable and even its visual aspects may contain placeholder elements.

Another classification of ship that is frequently discussed, so you should  be aware of is a  “Concept Ship”. For all intents and purposes, these ships are still at the “on paper” stage.  

The ship’s intent is known but it’s VERY early in the design process.  A good amount of players do pledge for concept ships because of their special roles, which are usually tied to specific professions. If you know for sure that you’re interested in something like mining for example, and want to start out with a mining ship, you could have purchased the Orion concept ship, which is the first dedicated mining ship introduced.  At concept means, there’s nothing to show you but pictures and possibly a design document discussing its planned implementation and in-game mechanics. Generally speaking, these ships are a long way from being made “Flight Ready”.

Players who’ve pledged by purchasing concept ships also receive a loaner ship to fly but nothing will be sitting in the hangar for that ship until it’s “hangar ready”.  So… Concept ships are for people who are really sure about their commitment to playing Star Citizen and have a strong grasp on what they plan to do.  These ships are furthest away from being delivered and there won’t be anything to see but pictures online.  You won’t have anything related to the ship in your hangar but you will have a loaner available in any module that has ship flight.

PLEASE make sure you know the at least the difference between Flight Ready, Hangar Ready and Concept Ship, if you’re going to move beyond the “Fly Now” page to make your first pledge.

If that brief explanation left your mind twisted and triggered a bout of terrets, stick to my advice of starting small. Get yourself a package that contains a flight ready ship until you understand what’s going on more completely.  

Here are the ships I recommend for casual followers just starting out.

From the Fly Now page you have the Aurora MR or Mustang Alpha for $45 USD.  Go for the Aurora MR is you want more variety in capabilities in the Persistent Universe, as it has cargo space.

If you’re a bit bolder step beyond Fly Now and have a look at ….

  • A different Aurora ship.  The Aurora series actually has three variants.  Aurora CL has reduced defensive capabilities but more cargo capacity.  The Aurora LN is a dedicated combat ship. The MR from the Fly Now page is the middle ground between the CL and LN.
  • The ORIGIN JUMPWORKS 300 series offers the 300i touted for scouting and bounty hunting.  The 315P with exploration capabilities and the 325A focused more on combat capabilities.  The 300 series packages go from 65 USD to 80 USD.
  • The Avenger is also an excellent starting ship.  It’s equipped for combat and contains holding cells if you want to do Bounty Hunting.  However, if you have a strong inkling that you may want to try hauling cargo, note that this variant has no cargo space available.  However, there will be modules available at a future date that allow you to customize this ship’s focus.  For now, if you want cargo space purchase the Titan variant, which swaps the holding cells for a cargo bay.

Good Lord. I don’t know about you but that wore me the hell out. Just outlining all of this as talking points was a brain teaser, so I can imagine how complicated this can all feel if you’re completely new to Star Citizen.

I’m going to call it quits here.  Be sure to check out the show notes for the RSI links I’ve mentioned as well as videos from other Star Citizen content creators that are relevant to today’s episode.  If you do sign up to become a Star Citizen and feel this content was useful please consider using my referral code found in the show notes.  I’ll earn some in-game goodies and you’ll be given 5K UEC to spend in Voyager Direct store.

In the next show we’ll discuss what there is to play-test in the current Live version of Star Citizen and what’s all this “multi-crew ship” stuff people are drooling over. We also go where there be dragons to review the ship  upgrade system.

END TRANSMISSION


Proactive Shield Management

Oftentimes, the time-to-kill in ship combat can feel fast in Star Citizen. I’m not worried. I’ve experienced faster and slower.  Plus we know that combat mechanics are still evolving, with adjustments coming down the pike. However, there’s something that we should all be doing now, that I rarely see pilots doing when watching their videos. It’s relatively easy and can mean the difference in surviving an encounter. I’m talking about shield management.

In the video below  you can see me adjusting shields as necessary.  Keep an eye on the left side of my cockpit. The shield management window will appear very quickly when adjustments are being made. If I’m flying head on into a cluster of enemy ships, I increase the strength of the front shield.  If I’m being sniped in the back while taking on foes in the front, I increase my rear shield and so on.

To learn about proactive and reactive shield management check out my article on REDACTED.


What is Star Citizen?

Crowdfunded Phenomenon

Star Citizen is many things, some of which are different to different people. The game itself is the brainchild of veteran game developer Chris Roberts, who is most widely known for his Wing Commander game series and the movie. Under the banner of Cloud Imperium Games, he’s now developing his dream space sim and first person universe, Star Citizen. The development costs are being covered using a crowdfunding model and to date, Star Citizen has raised a record breaking 115 million dollars and counting. What is so compelling about the planned content for Star Citizen that people are willing to crowdfund it to such an unprecedented amount?

Show Transcript

Star Citizen – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

Let’s begin with a quote from the official game site for star Citizen, RobertsSpaceIndustries.com…

From the mind of Chris Roberts, acclaimed creator of Wing Commander and Freelancer, comes STAR CITIZEN. 100% crowd funded, Star Citizen aims to create a living, breathing science fiction universe with unparalleled immersion… and you’re invited to follow every step of development!

More than a space combat sim, more than a first person shooter and more than an MMO: Star Citizen is the First Person Universe that will allow for unlimited game-play.

Based on that blurb you come away with an understanding that Star Citizen has a massively multiplayer persistent universe that contains space combat, first person shooter combat and open-ended game play mechanics, where the player decides what role to assume and how they will interact with others and world around them. The latter is often referred to as sandbox. However, in addition to the “make your own fun” of a sandbox game, there will also be a robust questing system, trade professions and a dynamic and responsive in-game economy. That alone is a whole lot of game! But there’s more.

Because that’s not enough to wrap your mind around, Star Citizen is also incorporating never before seen game mechanics such as multi-crew ships, a completely seamless universe from deep space down to planet side landing zones, high definition streaming tech of procedurally generated planets and space combat using Newtonian physics.  If I had to put Star Citizen into the narrow context of other games you may know it’s like combining bits of EVE Online + Destiny + basic MMO tropes. Okay, hold on to all that, cuz that’s Star Citizen and only one of the games being developed.

Squadron 42 – Single Player Role Playing Game

In parallel, Cloud Imperium games is also building Squadron 42 using the same funding and resource pool. At its core, Squadron 42 is a triple A RPG campaign that takes place in the same universe and lore as Star Citizen. It’s a hero’s journey look at the world where the storyline is all about YOU – your decisions and actions, and this version of YOU, has an impact on your character in the Star Citizen persistent universe. Think single player campaign of Halo with top casting talent such as Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman and Gillian Anderson, using next-gen animation technology. Squadron 42 is being designed as episodic journey, where the first set of episodes is scheduled to release in 2016.

Two Games – Three Ways to Buy

These two games combined – Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are what Could Imperium Games is working to develop and deliver, using their record-breaking crowd funding campaign that began in 2012. So when someone speaks of Star Citizen, oftentimes they are lumping both games into that conversation. However, for accuracy’s sake Star Citizen is just the MMO and you can purchase a game package for just those features here. Squadron 42 is the RPG and is also available for purchase separately here. Or you can purchase a combination package that include Star Citizen and Squadron 42 at a discounted price with the Aurora MR or the Mustang Alpha.

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How to Join the Star Citizen Alpha

This Game is in Development!

Let’s begin by reiterating that Star Citizen is FAR from a completed game!  Star Citizen is using an open development process that allows supporters to play test content as it becomes available.  Players who choose to participate in this process can provide CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK that contributes to improving the breadth of testing that’s possible and in some cases, refine how mechanics are implemented.  

We Are Not Stockholders. We Are Not Shareholders.

We have contributed funds to the development of Star Citizen.  However, we are not shareholders or part of the Cloud Imperium Games development staff.  Whether or not to utilize feedback being provided is ultimately up to them and their collective vision for the game as a whole.  The reasons behind some of their decisions may not initially be apparent to us, as we’re only seeing tiny slices of mechanics at a time.  

As of this article’s publication date, the only way to have permanent access to play-test Star Citizen content is by purchasing a GAME PACKAGE.  Game packages currently include a ship, alpha and beta PLAYTEST access to Star Citizen, a ship hangar and other digital assets depending on the package.

The variance in package prices reflect the ship or ships being included in the pledge you’re contributing toward development.  Remember that ships being purchased now can be acquired in-game without using real life cash once the game releases.  The primary reason to pledge/purchase now is to fund the development of the game.  If you’re not into play-testing alpha quality content or early access games, this scenario isn’t for you.  Stop now – beyond here be dragons. It’s better for you to wait for the beta or released game than becoming disgruntled, upset and foaming at the mouth over alpha quality content.

Conquering RobertsSpaceIndustries .com

Choosing the Fly Now option is the easiest and lowest costing method of obtaining a game package that is regularly available. Fly Now presents you with two $45 USD options for backing Star Citizen. This option is available here.

  1. The Aurora MR which is actually one of three ships in the Aurora line.  The MR is the middle of the road choice between a combat focused ship and low price point ship with cargo capacity.
  2. The other option is the Mustang Alpha. A fast ship often used for racing.  The Mustang can also stand up to combat.  But it wouldn’t be my first choice as a dedicated combat ship.

Other Game Packages

Don’t blackout from sticker shock when you see the price tag on some of the other Game Packages.  These are for people who want to contribute that much to the game’s development in exchange for the contents of those packages. Here’s a link to the packages page on the RSI website.

 I suggest that until you know more about what you want to do in Star Citizen, you stick to the ships in the $45 to $100 USD range.  If you want to contribute more at a later date, by way of acquiring a large ship, you can upgrade your existing ship using the Cross Chassis Upgrade system located here.  

All you need to know now is that you will get 100% purchase price CREDIT on any ship you buy.  You can in turn use the credit to upgrade to different ship in the future.  This means you have nothing to lose by starting small until you know more about the game and whether or not it’s really going to float your boat.

Hangar Ready vs. Flight Ready vs. Concept Ship

In case you couldn’t help surfing beyond the Fly Now options, let’s discuss things you might consider  even as a casual citizen.  Unfortunately is rather easy to become confusing about what you’re purchasing if you free roam  the “All Game Packages” section of RSI.  Let’s discuss what’s there at a high level but don’t you dare take a gander at “All Ships” yet!  You must learn to walk first little duck. You are not prepared for what lurks under “All Ships”.

The “All Game Packages” section contains all packages that are purchasable as pledges to fund Star Citizen.  However, not all the ships are ready for play testing. And this is what trips some people up when trying to pledge.

Flight Ready

Ships are view-able in your hangar AND are available for play-testing.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re 100% in their final release state.  Remember THIS IS ALPHA.  Things can and will continue to change.  However, enough of the design and technical implementation have been defined and developed, that these ships are ready to be used on a regular basis. Say this with me…Flight ready ship means I can use it now.

Hangar Ready

A second category of ship are those that are only “hangar ready”.  “Hangar ready” ships are can be placed in your hangar but ARE NOT ready for play-testing. The development pipeline classification allows you to see your new toy inside your hangar.  You can go inside the ship’s cockpit and/or interior to see a preview of the design intent.  Note that these ships often contain placeholder elements so don’t become concerned if an interior element doesn’t look as high fidelity as something else you’ve seen.  This isn’t a finished ship.

When you own a ship that is only “Hangar Ready” you will have a loaner ship available to fly but that loaner won’t be sitting in your hanger.  However, when you go to join any module that contains flight options the name of a ship you don’t actually own will be in the list for you.  That’s your loaner and you’ll have access to it until your ship is “Flight Ready”. In summary, Hangar Ready means you can see it in your hangar and walk around inside of it but it’s not flyable and even its visual aspects may contain placeholder elements.

Concept Ship

Another classification of ship that is frequently discussed, so you should  be aware of is a  “Concept Ship”. For all intents and purposes, these ships are still at the “on paper” stage.  The ship’s intent is known but it’s VERY early in the design process.  A good amount of players do pledge for concept ships because of their special roles, which are usually tied to specific professions. If you know for sure that you’re interested in something like mining for example, and want to start out with a mining ship, you could have purchased the Orion concept ship, which is the first dedicated mining ship introduced.  At concept means, there’s nothing to show you but pictures and possibly a design document discussing its planned implementation and in-game mechanics. Generally speaking, these ships are a long way from being made “Flight Ready”.

PLEASE make sure you know the at least the difference between Flight Ready, Hangar Ready and Concept Ship, if you’re going to move beyond the “Fly Now” page to make your first pledge.

Beyond the Fly Now Starter Package Ships

Here are the ships I recommend for casual followers just starting out. From the Fly Now page you have the Aurora MR or Mustang Alpha for $45 USD.  Go for the Aurora MR is you want more variety in capabilities in the Persistent Universe, as it has cargo space. If you’re a bit bolder step beyond Fly Now and have a look at ….

  • Different ship from the Aurora series that better suits your intentions
  • MISC Reliant series are classified as starter ships that have specialized capabilities for player professions. They also support two crew stations which is rare for that  price point. For more information on the Reliant check out the article I wrote here. Note as of this article they are concept ships and not always available for purchase.
  • Aegis Avenger is also an excellent starting ship.  It’s equipped for combat and contains holding cells if you want to do Bounty Hunting.  However, if you have a strong inkling that you may want to try hauling cargo, note that this variant has no cargo space available.  However, there will be modules available at a future date that allow you to customize this ship’s focus.  For now, if you want cargo space purchase the Titan variant, which swaps the holding cells for a cargo bay.


What's All This Voice Attack Stuff?

WHAT’S ALL THIS VOICE ATTACK STUFF?

With the interest in Voice Packs seemingly on the rise, while Cloud Imperium Games is continuing to refine Star Citizen’s control schemes, I thought it would be a good time to discuss Voice Attack in general and why some players have elected to use it.

If you’re like me, a HOTAS user, I simply don’t have enough buttons on my device to support even the minimum set of commands I want at the ready. My current setup also doesn’t support having the keyboard within a reach that’s effective to be used during combat. So I was elated to come across the idea of using a program to carry out a few basic commands.  This article will help you differentiate between VoiceAttack, Profiles and Voice Packs, and where to find additional information if interested.

WHAT IS VOICE ATTACK

As an ability, voice attack is a method of using your voice to initiate keystrokes.  The name is a bit of a misnomer. The capabilities are not tied to attacking / damage. It’s any set of keystrokes. You can launch a game. Establish your starting setup in an application. I use it to start and stop Fraps recordings so I can stay in the thick of combat and capture video using my voice.

VoiceAttack (VA) the program,  is a popular software application used to execute by voice, commands that would normally be a series of keystrokes and/or mouse interactions. Therefore, if you’re interested in playing around with using voice initiated commands, your first step is to acquire the software.  You can purchase VA from here. The object that VA uses to know what to DO when you SAY certain words or phrases is a Profile.

WHAT IS A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE

The Profile is a separate file with a .VAP extension.  The profile itself contains a series of commands you want executed, mapped to what you’ll say, when you want those commands to be carried out. Oftentimes, people want the successful execution of command followed to be up by an auditory confirmation.  This is achieved by using your computer’s operating system to turn text into speech. This allows your PC to say, “Done.” when a task is completed.  

Using the Text-to-Speech engine is achieved by using the Say command in a profile, followed by the word or phrase to be spoken. Your operating system’s Text-to-Speech engine interprets the text into an auditory response using its default voice. If you don’t like your computer’s default voice, you can purchase additional ones from companies such as Ivona. However, auditory responses are not required for a Profile to work. And you shouldn’t invest in one until you’ve determined you like using voice attack commands in the first place.

Simply having a profile of commands that match the keybinds in the target game, is all you need, after installing voice attack software. You can download Profiles for free! There are members of the community who have shared their profiles.  Of course, mileage will vary on how well they work or suit your tastes.  Search the official RSI Forums, Star Citizen section on Reddit and the internet in general.

WHAT IS A VOICE PACK

A Voice Pack is a Profile that enhances the execution of commands by adding a significant amount of voice over / audio work. This is often done using professional voice actors or celebrities and may include additional narration that is not directly tied to executing commands, such as role-play conversations. HCS offers multiple Voice Packs for Star Citizen, as well as other games.  Many players enjoy having this more elaborate version of a Profile.  It’s fun and can be more immersive. However, it’s not a required component. You don’t have to own or purchase a Voice Pack in order to use voice attack commands.

CREATING AND EDITING A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE IS EASY

To be perfectly honest, Star Citizen has more keyboard commands and uses modifier keys more than any other game I’ve played. I can barely fly in Star Citizen without using VoiceAttack.  My HOTAS doesn’t have nearly enough buttons to accommodate the bare minimum of what’s needed. Trying to reach over to a keyboard in the middle of combat isn’t something I want to juggle.  Therefore, it’s essential for me to keep my profile updated with changes CIG makes to control schemes, as they’ve done in patch 2.4.  This type of large scale change is another reason why I’ve opted for a small profile during alpha.

The steps for creating and/or editing a Profile is very straight forward. You must have Voice Attack and you must know your current keybind settings in the game, in order to tie them to a voice command.  With those two in hand, you can create a basic profile from scratch or edit one you download for free or may have purchased. I wrote an article last year detailing the steps and they  haven’t changed since that time.

I hope this helps clarify voice attack as an ability vs. VoiceAttack the software vs. Voice Packs. I use VA religiously and own a Voice Pack from HCS. During the SC Alpha however, I’m sticking to a small one I created myself that’s easy to manage and only contains the dozen or so commands I can’t live without during combat.

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Ballistic versus Laser Weapons

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BALLISTIC AND LASER WEAPONS

Star Citizen Alpha 2.4’s Item Port System simplifies customizing your ship’s configuration, making it very intuitive to experiment with varying ship loadouts. As mentioned in a previous article, one of the first things I did was change the weapons on my Sabre. That said, how did I decide on the type of weapons I wanted to use? To begin, you need to understand the difference between ballistic and laser weapons.

BALLISTIC WEAPONS

Ballistic weapons fire physical ammunition at a target. As this is a physical object with mass, it’s slowed down by the targeted ship’s shield but is able to penetrate it to do damage to the ship’s hull. The amount of damage that passes through the shield to hit the hull is based on the class of shield being penetrated. For example, an inexpensive civilian class shield may have a 40/60 split. This means 40% of the incoming damage is absorbed by the shield. The other 60% of the damage hits the hull.

Additionally, as a mechanized device, ballistic weapons do not utilize your ship’s energy to fire and generate a minimal amount of heat. If enough energy exists for the weapon itself to be brought online, that’s all that’s required. This allows you to sustain other ship components that require energy better. And ballistic don’t contribute greatly to your ship’s overall heat signature. Here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages for ballistic weapons.

Advantages

  • Hitting the target always delivers some damage to the targeted ship
  • Doesn’t consume energy
  • Emits minimal heat signature
  • Supports longer targeting distance

Disadvantages

  • Requires ammunition – which is a finite amount in the chamber
  • Ammunition costs credits and must be continually replenished
  • Slower rate of fire and velocity, causing increased difficulty in hitting highly agile targets

LASER WEAPONS

Let’s get the part where Star Citizen’s laser weapons are more akin to plasma weapons out of the way up front. I agree with the portion of the player base that prefers calling them energy weapons. A true laser beam travels at the speed of light and is therefore invisible to the naked eye. This is an energy based weapon and as such, it utilizes energy from your ship’s available pool to function. They also generate heat. How much heat tends to be directly proportional to the quality of the laser weapon, speed and damage output.

Unlike ballistic weapons, 100% of a laser weapon’s damage is absorbed by a ship’s shield. This means that before you can start damaging the targeted ship, you must do enough damage to deplete its shield first. Yes, there’s a reason why you can see where your shields are depleted and adjust, as well as see the same information for the targeted ship. Good news is that once the shield is depleted, direct laser weapon damage tends to be higher damage than a ballistic weapon of the same calibre. This is part of the design balancing act between ballistic and laser weapons. Here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages for laser weapons.

Advantages

  • Doesn’t require ammunition
  • Faster weapon speed compared to same calibre ballistic weapon
  • Hits harder against exposed target (depleted shield) than same class ballistic weapon

Disadvantages

  • Must deplete the shield before you can damage targeted ship
  • Consumes ship energy from your ship’s available pool
  • Easier to overheat and can’t overheat be used until they cool down
  • Generating heat increases your ship’s overall heat signature

IN SUMMARY

Now that we’ve discussed the basic differences, you can make a more informed decision about which type or combination you want to configure on your ships. Overall time to kill is relatively fast at this stage of the Star Citizen alpha, such that you can go all ballistic or all laser and be fine – for now.

However, as larger ships are introduced and the component system enables upgrading shields, you’ll want to balance your weapons selection against things like:

  • Most likely or planned targets – agility, likely shield strength, etc.
  • Your ship’s role in an engagement – hit fast and fluid vs. less mobile brawler
  • Your ship’s component configuration – ability to regenerate energy, effectiveness of cooling components
  • Your playstyle – how you prefer to size up and dismantle targets

In everyday situations, it may be wise to have a mixture of ballistic and energy weapons. However, if you’re a scout or doing infiltration work, using weapons that increase your overall heat signature is probably counterproductive. These are the types of circumstances we’ll have to consider as larger ships are made flight ready and the game’s mechanics mature.