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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The Drake Herald, Info Running & EWAR

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.

Sorry about the two-week hiatus. Between work, a business trip and being offered an exciting opportunity to narrate a small audiobook, I’ve been rather overloaded. I was at least spared the agony of watching the pot boil for 2.4 hitting the Live Server. Here’s hoping it’s not too far off.

This week’s episode will discuss another ship that’s near and dear to my heart, the Drake Herald.  It’s one of only three small career ships in my line-up. The fact that I can own platform ships, ships for medium sized groups AND engage in solo or duo activities, is a huge part of what excites me about Star Citizen.  I like the flexibility to control my playstyle and/or dependency on other players to fit my mood or what I feel like accomplishing at any given time. In looking at the Herald, we’ll touch on Drake as a company, the Magnus System where they’re headquartered and Electronic Warfare, as it relates to the Herald.

BEGIN TRANSMISSION

Most players would likely agree, that the Herald isn’t the prettiest or sleekest ship in the ‘verse.  Some consider it downright ugly. For me, it falls into the so quirky that it’s cute category.  I find it attractive in a crooked smile kinda way. And although I preferred the original asymmetrical design, I’m not bothered by the change in direction.  Those were concept images.  This is alpha.  Shit happens…Yadda.  Before delving into the Herald, let’s take our first look at its manufacturer, Drake Interplanetary.

For many citizens, the name Drake Interplanetary conjures up images of ships whose silhouettes don’t look aerodynamically balanced.  And the ne’er-do-wells and criminals flying them.  Pirates.  Drake hasn’t helped change this perception by naming its ships things like Cutlass and Buccaneer. And their the cheesy billboards featuring an overly endowed woman, dripping sex appeal all over the newest starfighter they’re showcasing, doesn’t help much either.  When you’re not seeing Drake’s in-your-face adverts, it’s yet another newsvid about investigations into their criminal ties.

Drake’s keystone design is the Drake Interplanetary AS-1 Cutlass. Incredibly inexpensive, Drake Cutlasses are used across the galaxy for thousands of different roles. From search and rescue ambulances to mining prospector conversions, to short hop food transports.  The modular nature of the Cutlass means it can be anything to anyone. Including those skirting the law.

Beyond its modularity, the Cutlass’ claim to fame is that it’s built from common parts.  This makes it an affordable ship to replace for those who are living a lifestyle that no longer offers the benefit of purchasable insurance. Drake Interplanetary incorporated soon after the success of the Cutlass. Lead designer Jan Dredge became CEO, with a seven-member board, consisting largely of aerospace engineers who had worked on the project.

Drake is not the surname of anyone involved in the project; it was selected as an acceptable “smooth-sounding” name, chosen specifically in the hopes that it would make their spacecraft more appealing. This was the first of a series of money-over-all decisions that would quickly come to define the company.

Another factor that swaying the UEE’s belief that Drake is in some fashion associated with criminal activity, was their decision to locate their corporate headquarters and key factories on Borea in the Magnus system.  At the time, Magnus was a desolate and lawless system, peppered with ghost towns and people living on the fringe of the space frontier. Locating on Borea, was yet another seed planted in the garden of their outlaw image.  Regardless of the UEE’s assumptions or those of more polite society, within five years Drake was the fifth largest spacecraft manufacturing concern.  

However, with the Galaxy in a relative level of peace, or as close to peace as it had ever been –  Vanduul raids at the time were disorganized and the UEE military was in the middle of several years stand down. Who was buying thousands upon thousands of Cutlasses? The answer, of course – pirate organizations.  The affordability of Drake ships created readily replaceable spacecraft that fit a pirate’s budget, and thanks to its larger-than-average cargo hold, they could also transport pirate booty.

It eventually became clear, though not publically acknowledged, that Drake had made a deal with the devil … but the money was too good to turn back. It’s rumored that in looking toward future, CEO Dredge is authoring a plan to streamline their spacecraft lineup and clean up the company’s image.  A daunting task for the modular, boxy Cutlass, Caterpillar, and Buccaneer! And then there are those ship names. Only time will tell.

Life in Magnus

Directly from CIG

“Magnus: On the Edge of the Unknown!” or so reads the local government’s standard travel brochure. In truth, the phrase better describes Magnus a century ago; recent decades have seen increasing settlement and overall civilization in a system that considers itself the unofficial capital of Human frontier culture.

End Quote

First discovered in 2499, Magnus was a small, entirely undistinguished system: three planets orbiting a type K main sequence star. Dimmer than Earth’s own sun, Magnus did not have the pull to generate a system of outer planets or an extensive network of jump point tie-ins. Surveys have located no protoplanets, gas pockets or asteroid fields in the system’s environs; the area surrounding Magnus is the deepest, most desolate space imaginable. A single world, Magnus II, was identified as ideal for terraforming.

For a time, Borea – Magnus II, was a barren desert world — the effects of terraforming had not yet completely transformed the planet, and a ten-year period of extreme solar flares hampered its transition to a temperate world.  This increased the decay of the UEE facilities and generally reduced overall interest in resettling Magnus. The result was an eerie, depopulated ghost world with declining structures full of refining and shipbuilding equipment considered too expensive to move elsewhere. During this period, the system’s population declined to less than 3,000, most of whom had no legal right to their encampments.  

Let’s step back for a moment to consider living on a planet whose entire population is 3000 inhabitants. It has to feel something like living in a post-apocalyptic world. Or being on a backwater border planet in FireFly, where Jayne is worshiped as a deity. I think I’ll pass but Drake said sure, sounds good!

Drake’s decision to locate the headquarters and primary factories on Borea eventually helped to revitalized the landscape. Vast tracts of empty warehouses and rusting construction yards have been modernized and returned to life from building Cutlasses and Caterpillars.  All’s well that ends well and good on Drake.  But personally, I’d have started job hunting when the news came around about where the offices were going.

The Drake Interplanetary Herald

Overview

The original concept sale for the Herald was November 2014.  The Herald is a small armored ship, designed to safely deliver information and you, from one place to the next.  Its speed will rival racers but it won’t have the same nimble handling. It has a powerful central engine to support advanced data encryption. It also sports data protection systems, redundant power subsystems, EMP shielding and high capacity broadcast arrays for data transmission.  In a nutshell, it’s spec’d to acquire rare data, encrypt/protect it, escape with said data and/or transmit it to your cohorts. As a fallback, it has a quick method to clear your drives of evidence, in case you get caught in the act or hijacked.

Ship Configuration

Classified has Info Runner.  Is 23 meters in length and weighs 18 thousand kilograms.  Supports 2 crew stations and 0 cargo units.  For hardpoints, it’s configured with 3 S1 gimbal mounts, an S3 shield, and one additional equipment mount.

A bit of Drake related fiction from RobertsSpaceIndustries.com…

Dispatch:  A New Threat to Data Security by Drake Interplanetary

SUBJECT: DRAKE HERALD DATA

STATUS: URGENT

Attention Team,

Attached to this dispatch are the final specifications and 3D holo-model of what you have worked all these long months to accomplish! Our Herald prototype will now enter the construction and testing phase, with a planned Q2 2945 rollout for the first sales units.

On the surface, the Herald represents a significant advance in interstellar data transfer… but as we Drake team members know, its long-term implications for data interception, stream interruption, and even outright piracy are enormous. I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished, and now I can’t wait to see this baby fly!

Becke Linns

Senior Spacecraft Designer

Drake Interplanetary

END QUOTE

 

In that final paragraph, we can see that Drake’s intention of cleaning up their act is only surface level.  A little spit-n-shine for the ole public image.  Clearly, they understand and acknowledge the potential ramifications of their designs!

Quick Chat about Electronic Warfare

In August of 2015, CIG published a design document discussing their plans for implementing Electronic Warfare, often abbreviated to EWAR.  EWAR mechanics played such a heavy role in EVE Online combat, I’ve been very interested in learning more about how it would play out in Star Citizen. Oftentimes in EVE, you can lose a fight before you’ve undocked from a station, simply by not having your ship adequately configured for an encounter.  Will EWAR in Star Citizen has the same far-reaching impacts? It will be quite some time before we can answer that question.

Let’s review the portion of the Star Citizen EWAR Design Document that speaks to capabilities we can expect to see incorporated into the Herald, as an interceptor of information.

Radar (Object-Detection) and Scanning

The Drake Herald is an information runner but includes a dedicated e-war suite, which includes the ability to scan.  Scanning is the tracking or gathering of information based off of the three main signature outputs: Infrared, Electromagnetic, and Cross-section.

Every ship has a suite of default systems that give it basic operational functionality. Our radar systems use IR, EM, or radio waves to determine the range, angle, and velocity of objects. Standard operating mode for radar systems is omnidirectional.  However, players with the right equipment can change the focus of their unit. Changing the focus increases the transmit power, but reduces the area in which targets can be located.

Scan and radar effectiveness are also impacted by the environment.  For example, solar radiation from the nearby star could wreak havoc on your results.  The goal is to introduce variance in performance between radar components and require choices from the player, as to what type of information they value above others, as well as reduce the time of a scan and/or the risk of being detected.

Players will be able to scan their surroundings either passively or actively.

  • Passive – The player is letting the information come to them versus actively searching for the information (in essence listening). This emits a much smaller signature.
  • Active – The player’s ship is actively looking for information about their ship. This emits a much higher signature.

In passive scanning, the range and detection type are based on the radar component that your ship has installed. Any potentially targetable object within your ship’s radar zone will show up as different contact states, discussed in the detailed design doc. This feature will emit a signature when turned on. It will be up to the player to choose if they want scans to run constantly or enabled during certain times. Multi-crew ships can assign this as a full-time task to a radar officer; allowing them to balance scanning systems with the ship’s signature output.

By switching to active scanning, you can acquire more specific information on a target such as their type of armor, shields, weapons, etc.  You can even attempt to reveal undetectable targets. This can be done with the focus set to either omni or fixed direction, with fixed direction requiring more skill to use but potentially producing a more detailed result. Active scanning will also increase a ship’s signature since it requires additional power.

To stay safe from incoming hacking and electronic warfare attacks, pilots will need to outfit their ships and flight suits with appropriate countermeasures. Electronic defenses require less specialized equipment than their offensive counterparts, and while this does favor defenders to an extent, they can still be met with multiple attacks and overwhelmed.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Electronic Warfare.  Please read the full design document for more details.  Including the defensive mechanics, players will have at their disposal to minimize and/or negate, the offensive effectiveness of EWAR attacks.

I liked the idea of the Herald before we had the EWAR design document.  My primary decision for purchasing one was to have another two station ship. Although I’ll probably do a lot of the work solo, since I enjoy that too, I’m hoping to introduce friends to Star Citizen who don’t traditionally play MMOs but are interested in space. And it’s a non-combat focused activity I can do with younger kids in the family.

For now, it remains to be seen how heavy of a role EWAR will play in day-to-day combat.  Most encounters happen too quickly at the moment when we’re mostly flying small fighters.  In EVE, EWAR plays a large factor even in those types of encounters.  Or determines the outcome before the first shot was fired.  In that scenario, fitting EWAR modules is a foregone conclusion – a necessity of survival.  I could live without that level of EWAR in Star Citizen combat and have it more focused on being used in career pursuits.  But I’m okay dealing with however the chips fall on it.

SHOW NOTES

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the Herald and Drake Interplanetary.  Please check out the show notes on my blog for links to mentioned content such as the Herald ship page, Drake’s write up on RSI and the Magnus Galactic Guide.

If you found this episode useful and entertaining, please consider subscribing to my channel and giving the show a thumbs up.  It would be greatly appreciated and doing so helps the show’s visibility, making it easier for others to find their way here.

Be kind and fly safe.  This is Alysianah signing off until next time.

 

END TRANSMISSION

Tying it all together

Understanding that the Herald was designed to intercept data, a fancy way of saying steal, we can imagine that part of gameplay.  I imagine there will be an opportunity to hijack information from ship systems, structures with data storage capabilities and possibly mobi devices.
If we also consider that it has a dedicated EWAR suite, that introduces offensive combat mechanics.  Acting as a scout, the herald can gather information about primary targets and relay that data back to the fleet. It may be possible for it to disable certain subsystems, which inches us closer to aspects of how EWAR plays out in EVE.  Exciting times and sounds like very interesting gameplay mechanics for a small two station ship.


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.

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.

END TRANSMISSION


Origin 890 Jump - Luxury Touring Ship

 

Transcript of Casual Citizen Episode 27 which covered the Origin 890 Jump

You can view the video version here on my YouTube channel.

Hello Star Citizen ‘Verse, I’m back and welcome to another episode of Casual Citizen. An ongoing series about the upcoming first person MMO, Star Citizen, by Cloud Imperium Games. I’m your host Alysianah from ALYSIANAHSWORLD.COM.  It’s been almost 3 months since my last show. I needed to take time off for real life changes.  All good things and exciting things, but extremely time-consuming. But I’m back and excited to dive into what’s happening in the world of Star Citizen.

This week it’s a ship show, the topic I enjoy most next to lore. We’re taking a look at the Origin 890 Jump, most recent ship and final ship added to my fleet. Covering this ship has been on my list of things to do for a while so let’s get at it.

Please sit back, relax and enjoy.

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

Let’s begin our journey with a look at the 890 J’s manufacturer, Origin Jumpworks.

 

Directly from CIG…

If it is possible for a company to merge class and sophistication with the sheer risk of spaceflight and the cold-blooded nature of interstellar dogfighting, ORIGIN Jumpworks comes the closest. The company’s extensive array of high-end spacecraft is known for their sleek and sophisticated lines. Similarly, they have cultivated an exclusive customer base from the rich and the powerful. As ORIGIN’s perfectly-manicured salesmen eagerly point out, selecting an ORIGIN design doesn’t just mean buying a ship … it means choosing a lifestyle.

ORIGIN was incorporated during the so-called Glowing Age, the financial boom of the mid-28th century that followed the antimatter rush. For their first decade, the company produced high quality fusion engines used by the UEE military and mounted on the ostentatious Roberts Space Industries and Aegis Dynamics star yachts available to the public at the time. With the need for personal spacecraft growing exponentially, ORIGIN moved to compete with the companies they initially supplied.

Within ten years, the company was producing a top-five selling midscale composite transport and within fifty their well-paying customer base was neck and neck with RSI for gross profits in the manufactured spacecraft field. ORIGIN premiered their initial 200 and 300 lines of personal ships in 2899 and has held a strong second in that market ever since.

Founded on the banks of the Rhine in Cologne, Germany, ORIGIN had strong ties to Earth for the first two centuries of their existence, originally going so far as to insist that every component for their elite 600 line be manufactured in-Sol. In recent years, these ties have been severed completely. Declaring Terra the new cultural capital of the UEE, President Jennifer Friskers made the then-unpopular decision to relocate to Terra. In a largely unexpected executive order, she moved corporate headquarters and the primary design team to the settlement of New Austin in 2913.

End Quote

 

An abbreviated profile of the Terra system, home to Origin Jumpworks

Terra is the only system in the Empire that is named after the capital planet, rather than the star at its center, Terra Nova. Since its discovery, Terra has grown consistently in popularity and influence.

During the Messer era, Terra was one of the few systems that tried to maintain a progressive stance against the despotic reign. And it was this perseverance in the face of adversity, that elevated the system’s reputation and influence.  

Terra is often compared to Earth, as a seat of power and trendsetter. Many would like nothing more than to see Terra usurp Earth’s rung on the political ladder.

Also of note, Terra is one of only 9 stars systems that contain multiple asteroid belts. Its massive stone ruins on Terra III, New Austin’s Origin Jumpworks headquarters, and the sprawling Terra Prima bayside mega city are huge tourist attractions.  And Terra possesses Jump Point tunnels to Hadrian, Stanton, Tayac, Goss, Magnus, Pyro, and Taranis, making it rather well connected you might say.  On to the ship itself, the Origin 890 Jump.

 

Directly From CIG

UNLIMITED HORIZONS AWAIT…

The best sunset is the one you haven’t seen yet. The best noodles are worth traveling light years for. The secret to happiness is whispered inside every jump point. Once you know this about life amongst the stars, you’ll never settle for less than the best means to enjoy it. Fortunately, thanks to the 890 Jump, you’ll never have to …

With an elegant, sleek exterior that belies its spacious interior, the 890 Jump is a true engineering marvel; crafted to impress from every angle by combining a unique, innovative design with the finest materials and the most advanced technology. The result is a vessel that is in a class all of its own, a masterpiece worthy of the name ORIGIN.

This pre-order brochure will give you a glimpse of not only the most luxurious liner ever built, but of the universe it will allow you to explore.

Reserve your 890 Jump today and secure your exclusive chance to experience the galaxy in a remarkable new way.

Jennifer Friskers, President and CEO – ORIGIN Jumpworks

End Quote

 

The 890J first caught my attention when I was looking for a ship as a backdrop for a roleplaying scenario. A ship that, similar to why I pledged for the Starliner Genesis, could be used as a family and friends business in the persistent universe, as well as serve as a remote base of operations.  Travel, explore and see the universe in style, while providing revenue are the dream. And since I’m a firm believer that if you’re going to dream, it might as well be big, my heart landed on the 890J.

 

From CIG…

COME ABOARD

More room to entertain. More space for socializing. More areas for comfortable living. The 890 Jump is proof that sometimes more is definitely the right amount. This is the ideal vessel for both parties and privacy.  Take your pick of gathering spaces — enjoy magnificent views from the Captain’s Bridge or stretch out in the salon. Or take time out — retreat to your spacious stateroom or find a cozy nook to view the stars in quiet solitude.  Maybe you want to stretch your legs — with an accessible landing bay capable of housing a small ship or shuttle, you don’t have to keep the party aboard the 890 Jump.

End Quote

Unfortunately, the 890J isn’t regularly available for pledging. In fact, I had to wait almost a full year after deciding I wanted one, until an opportunity to pledge for it presented itself. By then I’d hit my self-appointed ceiling on ship pledges and had to make very tough choices. What was I willing to give up in my existing fleet in order to have the 890 J?

First into the melting pot were duplicate ships originally included in my fleet as loaners for friends. We’d just have to earn those in the game.  Next, I melted ships that had similar roles taking me down to a single combat ship, single small cargo ship, etc. Last I relinquished ships related to careers I wanted to test and write about but not a participant in long term. I’d have to beg, borrow or steal those to cover them. All in all, seven ships were melted in hopes of snagging the 890J.

 

From CIG…

CAPTAIN’S BRIDGE

One of the best parts of being the captain is that you’re always privy to the best views. Bask in the ever-changing cosmic vista with the wrap-around bridge rotunda, offering unparalleled visibility for a vantage point that’s simply unmatched.

Built for maximum comfort, the bridge offers three exquisitely crafted operator seats from Atlas, featuring ORIGIN’s award-winning suspension technology that cradles you for the smoothest flight of your life. Whether you’re at the helm or just enjoying the ride, the 890 Jump proves that the journey is just as important as the destination.

End Quote

 

The morning of the November 2016 Anniversary Sale, I was anxious and primed to refresh my browser, waiting for the sale to go live. I’d melted my ships in advance of the sale, not even knowing if the 890J would even be made available for pledging. My thinking was to ensure that if it was, I was in a position to instantly snap one up. It went on sale, I got one and all was right in my Star Citizen world.

 

From CIG…

TAKE A BREAK

A special place to retreat from the world, each VIP stateroom beckons with unparalleled comfort. The island berth features an oversize imperial gelcore mattress along with two berth end tables. Constructed from a specially selected stock of galung wood, known for its natural luster, harmony radiates from this comfortable haven. Sweet dreams and soothing surroundings await all who tarry here.  The 890 J comes with a personal away ship, the 85X Run-About.

Elegantly styled and meticulously constructed, the 85X is a versatile and comprehensive away-vessel that features precision control in and out of the atmosphere. Utilizing much of the same thruster technology as the 300 series, it has the power of a racer with the reliability of a touring ship. Whether descending down to the planet surface or taking in the sights of your system, this runabout continues Origin’s proud tradition of turning heads.

End Quote

As I mentioned earlier, I have plans to use the 890J as a luxury touring enterprise that I can run with family and friends who will be playing. Part of our amenities will be the opportunity to participate in RP events such as onboard Murder Mystery parties, something we’ve hosted on several occasions in real life.

HIGHLIGHTS PULLED FROM THE 890 JUMP Q&A

  • Classified as Luxury Touring, originally planned to be 123 meters in length with 5 crew stations. However, as we’ve seen other ships grow in size during the actual development process, I won’t be surprised if the 890 gets bigger along the way.
  • The ship’s hangar is large enough to fit two 85X size ships.
  • The empty space behind the cargo loader is the cargo hold, planned for 360 units of cargo space which is more cargo space than the Constellation variants but less than the stock Caterpillar. However, additional cargo capacity can be obtained by storing items on the loader itself
  • In general, the 890 should have more cargo space than the Constellation Taurus, but less than a similarly sized cargo ship.
  • The central elevator does actually reach to the top floor
  • Each guestroom is equipped with a private bathroom
  • The kitchen is for the whole ship, but there’s a separate dining area for passengers.
  • The cargo hold is not shielded as part of the stock loadout but that featured can be added by owners via an upgrade

If you’re looking for 890 Jump eye candy to tide you over, Taurus from the RSI Forums and Discord, has done amazing work. You’ve seen some it sprinkled throughout the show. I’ll include a link to his official forum thread in the show notes.

That wraps up our quick review of the Origin 890 Jump. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode.  If you have, please considering subscribing to my channel and giving this episode a thumbs up.  Also, consider using my referral code if you haven’t created an account on Robertsspaceindustries.com.  Doing so will give you 5K in game credits when the game goes live and grants me some in-game goodies.

 

HOW TO SUPPORT THE SHOW AND WEBSITE

* You can donate using Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Alysianah

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Show Links


Preparing for Alpha 3.0 - Flight Ready Cargo Ships

I have Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 on my mind. I’m so pumped to start seeing the non-combat professions integrated into the persistent universe. Casual Citizen episode 25 discusses the flight-ready cargo ships we’ll have at our disposal to test out the first implementation of cargo hauling. Check it out on YouTube or SoundCloud to be sure you’re ready to hit the ground running.

SHOW NOTES

Flight Ready Cargo Ships

Hull B Q&A Post with updated Cargo Sizes

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

BEGIN TRANSMISSION.

WHAT’S IN AND WHAT’S OUT

Originally, I was going to limit the conversation to the ships CIG has flagged as “cargo ship” on RobertsSpaceIndustries.com. However, two popular ships are missing if I did that – the Cutlass Black and Constellation Andromeda, which I’ve decided to  include. Whereas I haven’t included the Mustang Alpha because it requires the optional cargo carrier which has yet to materialize in game.

REAL CARGO SIZES PLEASE STAND UP

Unfortunately, there are conflicts between the cargo capacity for the ships listed in the actual ship stats versus updated sizes that were published as part of the MISC Hull B Q&A. This is rather unfortunate, since the average player isn’t likely to see the updated cargo size information.  With the exception of the Argo Cargo and the Starfarer Gemini, which weren’t on the updated list, I’m going to reference the sizes from the Hull B Q&A post, which I will link in the show notes.

For the Argo Cargo I pulled the value from the brochure. For the Gemini, I used the updated size for the refueling variant but applied the reduced capacity percentage witnessed on the their respective technical overview pages.  

Directly from RSI Cargo Chart

Cubic meters? Freight Units? Standard Cargo Units?! We’ve gone through several iterations for measuring cargo, to the point that our own design team has confused the two on occasion. Today, we’re setting the record straight with a ‘master’ list. Dan Tracy has measured every ship currently ‘in-engine’ and made estimates for others (such as the Merchantman) which are not. As of today, this is the definitive list of cargo capacity and these numbers will be applied to the stats page. Please pay special intent to the comparative sizes rather than simply the number; these are the best indicator of where these ships are intended to fall on the spectrum, regardless of the units of measurement we use.

The inability to get most accurate or updated cargo information more easily, is a bit unfortunate for this particular class of ship.  There’s updated information available it’s just not where people would be looking for it.

Now that understanding where and how I obtained the cargo sizes you’ll hear me reference, is out of the way, let’s begin. I’ll be discussing the ships in order of available cargo capacity – smallest to largest. To reiterate, these are FLIGHT READY cargo ships.

WHY CARGO HAULING?

Let’s begin by defining cargo hauling as I suspect there will be varying definitions.  Establishing mine is important for data I’ll share in a bit and what’s available on Alysianahsworld.com.  

I differentiate between trade and cargo hauling. For me, cargo hauling is picking up goods in one place and delivering them to another. You have no ownership of the items being transported. You don’t know or care what they cost to acquire. You’re not involved in selling them. You’re merely the bus driver.

Merchants and traders care about the cost to purchase goods versus the resale value. Traders and merchants earn revenue from selling of goods.  Cargo haulers are paid to transport goods.  I think cargo hauling will be a good active profession for players of a certain play style and an excellent passive profession for most everyone. I personally, only plan to do cargo hauling as a secondary, passive mode of generating income.  If I’m going that way and have the space available on my ship, by all means I’ll deliver those goods for ya.

MONEY MAKES MMOS GO ‘ROUND.

The persistent universe side of Star Citizen will contain many of the common trapping of any MMO. Specifically, you’ll need a way to earn in-game currency to support yourself. In this case, support fueling, arming, repairing and possibly upgrading your ship.  You may want to do the same for your character, such as obtain better armor and weapons. You’ll have insurance premiums to pay. You’ll have hangar fees to pay. Money. Money. Money. For most players, your existence in the Star Citizen universe will require you to earn a living in game.

For those who don’t want to focus on combat as a means of earning currency. Or who aren’t particularly interested in having PVE missions dictate their actions, cargo hauling is a viable incoming generating profession. You can obtain work via contracts that will be available on the Trade and Development Division job boards. You can accept cargo transport specific missions. You can shuttle cargo for other players.  All of this while seeing the world. Cargo hauling is also one of the player professions that can more easily be done solo, if that’s your preference.

CARGO SHIPS AVAILABLE IN ALPHA 3.0

Alpha 3.0 is going to give us our first taste of cargo hauling. I suspect we’ll see cargo missions from NPCs. I anticipate being able to pick up work at the Trade and Development Division locations, such as Job Well in ArcCorp Area 18.  The physical implementation in game is likely to contain placeholder activity for loading and unloading cargo. Similar to the placeholder implementation for ship repairs in we’re using for Cry-Astro. In other words, there’ll be some handwavium going on.

Bringing cargo hauling online will also innately bring with it opportunities for other player professions and play styles such as piracy and mercs. You need to keep these these things in mind if you’re going to pursue moving merchandise. Space and be a dangerous and unforgiving place. Common sense and situational awareness will be important. I’m crossing my fingers that ship security comes online with  cargo otherwise, lots of unnecessary tomfoolery will take place on landing pads that will be 100% outside of a pilot’s ability to control.

If you want to take part in the early alpha testing of cargo hauling, let’s take a look at ships that are flight ready and have cargo space available.

ARGO CARGO

From CIG…

The ARGO Astronautics MPUV-1C (commonly ‘Argo Cargo’) is a dedicated merchant transfer ship, a ubiquitous intergalactic stevedore. Vast numbers of Argo Cargos are responsible for loading and unloading goods onto massive long-haul transports and miners that cannot otherwise land on planets or drydocks, such as the Hull D and the Orion. Some captains choose to own and operate their own Argo, while others pay privately owned ships operating as port services a rental fee for performing the unloading process.

I don’t see the Argo Cargo as a ship that makes sense for cargo hauling in Alpha 3.0. Lacking a quantum drive and only possessing 6 SCUs of space, it’s the least ideal option for participating in cargo hauling in 3.0.  We don’t have any flyable ships that are too large to land in order to deliver cargo themselves.  Unless you have no other option and simply want to try the mechanics, to me this one is a non-starter.

Avenger Titan

From CIG…

Lacking the Prisoner Cells of the Stalker or the EMP Generator of the Warlock, the Titan’s hold is free to carry cargo. Couple that available space with the Avenger’s tried and true combat abilities and you’ve got a light cargo hauler that’s more than capable of handling itself in a fight. *This is the standard Avenger chassis with the Titan Cargo Module pre-installed.*

Titan is the standard Stalker chassis with the prison cells swapped for cargo space. I like this as an option for people who want to do a small amount of cargo hauling and combat. The Avenger holds its own nicely in combat and was for a time, my preferred combat ship. I think it’s speed and maneuverability also make it less of a target piracy. Because it has non-cargo variants, it’s appearance in the skies also doesn’t scream, “I’m carrying cargo here!”. I am however very surprised at the Titan’s 12 SCUs of cargo space. There’s probably an update to that number not readily available. I can’t see how swapping out 3 prisoner cells nets so little space. However, all elements combined, I think it’s a reasonable choice for play-testing cargo hauling during alpha or as an interim short-lived first solution in the live game.

Aurora CL

From CIG…

Customized for mercantile and trading excursions, the Aurora Clipper is the perfect vessel for aspiring entrepreneurs and seasoned traders alike. Swapping a smaller power plant and armor capabilities for an expanded cargo capacity, the Clipper ups the ante for personal merchant craft.

We’ll probably see many Auroras taking part in cargo hauling. We know from CIG that this is one of the more popular ship packages, hence more people have Auroras than any other ship. The CL variant in particular is very good in terms of ship cost versus cargo capacity, coming in at 23 SCUs. Auroras are also very durable for a starter ship making them good for cargo transport using an avoid combat at all costs strategy. You simply have to survive until you reach your drop off location.

Reliant Kore

From CIG…

With the Reliant Kore, MISC adds to its already impressive lineup of ships, a smaller introductory-class spacecraft. Utilizing advanced Xi’An designs, the Reliant features broad, sleek wings, omni-directional thrusters and a fully-articulated two-seat cockpit that supports horizontal and vertical flight modes. All of this combines with a larger carrying capacity than many ships in its class to make the Kore a natural choice for short-range hauling, or with the simple addition of a few optional components, this can-do ship can do anything you dream of.

I have mixed feelings about the Reliant Kore for cargo transport in its current implementation. Purely from an investment perspective, comparing the cost of the ship versus its cargo hauling space, it does well. It’s a $65 USD ship with 30 SCUs. However, we’ve yet to see the speed boost it’s supposed to have when in its vertical flight mode. It lacks versatility of being viable as a combat ship without swapping to the Tana configuration which isn’t doable yet. And it’s more suited to short-hop jobs because there’s no bed aboard the Reliants.  Beds are a feature that will allow you to safely log out of the game in space, save that location and return to it the next time you log in versus spawning at the nearest space station.  For Alpha game play, I’ve kept my Kore to test out cargo hauling. However, it will not be a permanent ship in my fleet. And I have access to a Cutlass Black, by way of having purchased a Cutlass Red.

Cutlass Black

From CIG…

Drake Interplanetary claims that the Cutlass Black is a low-cost, easy-to-maintain solution for local in-system militia units. The larger-than-average cargo hold, RIO seat and dedicated tractor mount are, the company literature insists, for facilitating search and rescue operations.

For passive cargo hauling, I think the Cutlass Black is a real contender for bang for your buck. It’s a versatile ship that supports multi-crew activities and has 33 SCUs for cargo hauling. Whether that 33 SCUs is filled up by your own legit cargo or what you’ve pilfered from others, that’s up to you. Surprisingly the Cutlass comes with a size 4 shield, the second largest among the flight ready ships. This makes it another ship that’s viable for solo cargo hauling with the intention of outrunning and out surviving anyone who gives chase. However, like the Reliant Kore there are no beds on-board so I wouldn’t pick the Cutlass Black if you have long term cargo hauling aspirations.  That said, I expect to see many players using it to haul cargo in Alpha 3.0. And when you see one, you won’t know if it’s carrying cargo or coming to get yours, making it a nice is it cat or mouse deterrent.

Freelancer Mercantile

From CIG…

Freelancers are used as long haul merchant ships by major corporations, but they are just as frequently repurposed as dedicated exploration vessels by independent captains who want to operate on the fringes of the galaxy.

Here’s where I think we cross the line into ships that are better served as multi-crew even if cargo hauling. We’re getting to slower moving ships that are less maneuverable, leaving you open to being swarmed if you can’t get away. And knowing that the other features these ships were designed to take advantage of aren’t in the game yet, many will bet you’re carrying cargo. So if you are, be prepared to defend yourself.

The Freelancer variant that is flyable is designed for moving cargo. It has a nice bump in capacity from the Kore, coming in at 52 SCUs. It’s also a very defensible ship with a good pilot and someone in the turret. It has sleeping berths making it a good fit for longer duration shipping if that’s something you’re going to pursue in the live game. If you’re considering the Freelancer as a long term cargo option, you might want to take a look at the Freelancer MAX which has twice the cargo capacity.

Constellation Andromeda

From CIG…

The Constellation Andromeda, a multi-person freighter, is the most popular ship in RSI’s current production array. Constellations are beloved by smugglers and merchants alike because they are modular, high powered… and just downright iconic-looking.  134 cargo units. Taurus – transport variant has 243

The Constellation Andromeda makes the list because it has 134 SCUs of cargo space and is flyable. Strictly speaking this is the more militarized variant. The Taurus is the transport variant but isn’t flight ready. I doubt I’d attempt doing cargo hauling solo in a Connie. You will be a target and a ship of this size is better served having its turrets manned and bodies available to repel boarding attempts if it comes down to that. Even having escorts might be advisable once you start moving cargo in a ship of this size.

Unlike how the PU combat happens now, there will be more incentive to go after larger ships that may be carrying cargo, especially, if some of the cargo survives when the ship is destroyed.  Now it’s a matter of who can I kill before they kill me, if I want to engage at all.  For many players, there’s little to no incentive of picking a fight with the larger ships. All you get in return is a repair and rearming bill. Come 3.0, that same fight now nets you a chance at profits.  Different ball game that requires a a higher level of situational awareness.

Starfarer

From CIG…

The Starfarer differs from traditional bulk freighters in one key way: it is a dedicated fuel platform. The Starfarer is designed not only to load, store and protect fuel stasis units, it is designed to take in spaceborne hydrogen and then refine it for use without landing. The Starfarer can be used to ferry traditional bulk cargo pods (see diagram) but in such cases the fuel refining equipment would be useless. This equipment is modular and can be swapped out for another mission package for dry operations!

The United Empire of Earth military uses an adapted ‘rough and tumble’ variant of the Starfarer for their front line operations. The G2M Gemini, more commonly the Starfarer Gemini or ‘Star G,’ trades some cargo capacity and maneuverability in exchange for reinforced armor, increased shielding, more powerful engines and stronger versions of the three manned turrets. The Gemini also includes an optional missile pod, which can be swapped for the fuel intake unit on the ship’s nose (see below for details.) Missile pods can be mounted to either Starfarer variant.

Now we’ve hit the largest ships in the alpha play-test by a considerable amount. Similarly, they have the largest cargo payloads. The Starfarer refueling variant, which is considered the transport variant haxe 4,044 SCUs.  With the Gemini coming in at an estimated 3033 SCUs. Remember that the number I’m using for the gemini is based on the updated transport variant’s SCUs that were provided in the Hull B Q&A.

I think running cargo in either of these ships, assuming you can get one to spawn, will be very exciting for those involved. Massive shenanigans in coming of people trying to seize or destroy them for the cargo. I think most when carrying cargo will be properly manned and have escorts.  This has the potential to broaden the combat fields seen in the PU to multiple locations – anywhere one of these is in transit. Versus what we see now which is mostly in and around Kareah or Grim Hex.

As long term cargo hauling vessels, I think there are better options unless transporting fuel or other liquid goods the Starfarer will be configurable for in the future. As a pure hauler, I’d be looking into the Hull series.  But in the meantime, these will have the largest payload for many months. The first Hull series ship, the Hull C, isn’t due until Alpha 3.1 which I think is likely spring 2017.

ACCORDING TO THE LORE

Knowing where to look for cargo hauling work will be simple in Alpha 3.0. You’re picking it up in Stanton and delivering it to somewhere else in Stanton. You won’t have to do much research on your own to know where to go.  You won’t need to really evaluate if the cost of fuel and crew is worth the trip. It won’t be that easy as more star systems come online and more players engage in the alpha.  Things will be more competitive and some level of logistics planning and consideration will be required to remain profitable.

Helping with logistics planning is the primary goal of Alysianahsworld. It’s aim is to provide you with the information necessary to help you make more knowledgeable decisions when it comes to investing time, effort and money into player professions.  It helps you identify where to look for work, tells you about that area and lets you refine the list of where to work based on other personal preferences such as:

  • How dangerous is that star system on average?
  • Are the other opportunities I can take advantage of while there that makes picking this location better for me than another?
  • Can I string together a multi-hop route to maximize my net profit?

It’s likely that most star systems will have some availability of cargo hauling opportunities via NPC specific missions and the Trade Development Division. However, showing up and hoping that the available jobs fit the capabilities of your ship might not be the most cost effective option.  

The ARK Starmap and the Galactic Guides, both subject to change, reflect the world that’s being built and both contain information about player professions.  Alysianahsworld.com ties these two assets together by mapping the lore from the guides to the physical univers of the ARK Starmap, into what I call Dossiers.  Where each Dossier is tying together the locations and lore related to a specific profession.

For example, if you have a small cargo hauling ship and are just starting out, what are some of the best places for you to find steady work? Perhaps you’re on the other end of the scale. You’d rather do less frequent longer duration jobs. Where are you going to start looking for that kind of work?  Looking through the Starmap and Galactic Guides you can find the answers for both of those scenarios if you want to spend hours upon hours pouring through it all.  But you don’t have to.

Checking out my Cargo and Trade Dossier page will list all Star Systems where explicit lore information has been provided about job opportunities. This information will be updated regularly and continue to grow as I slowly make my way through all of the available CIG content, AND am able to include information from the actual systems themselves when they are introduced.

On the Trade and Cargo Dossier you can view locations that contain:

  • Explicit lore related to cargo hauling contracts
  • Mentions of job opportunities for specific types of cargo hauling – short hop vs. long duration
  • Review potential volume of work for cargo hauling
  • Review import and export activity in those same systems which can represent opportunistic trading such as picking up a rare item you can sell elsewhere for a profit.
  • Review Black Market and Piracy in those areas if you’re inclined to participate in those activities
  • Learn about the star systems where these opportunities exist and filter them based on your preferences of population, economy and danger thresholds or government alignments.

Simple. Straight forward. And a means to make more informed routing options when planning cargo runs. Check it out. I hope you find it useful.

That’s it for this episode of Casual Citizen. You can find links to all the ships discussed in the show notes. Also checkout Alysianahsworld.com to see the growing compendium of information to assist players with logistics planning.  If you’ve enjoyed this episode please consider subscribing to my channel and giving the show a thumbs up.

This is Alysianah signing out until next time. Be kind and fly safe.

END TRANSMISSION


How to Export Your Custom Keybindings

To say that Star Citizen has a lot of keybindings is in understatement. On top of which, the default settings might not feel intuitive for your personal tastes. Good news is that we can customize the settings to our liking for the keyboard, mouse, gamepad and joystick.

To Access Keybindings:

  • Press [Esc] to access the Main Menu
  • Choose Options
  • On the Options Menu choose Keybindings
  • Click [Advanced  Controls Customizations]

If you do customize the settings, it’s essential for your mental health that you make use of the export feature to save a copy of your configuration to an external file. You should also copy the XML file that is created, to a location outside of the Star Citizen game folders.  This will allow you to copy it back into the appropriate location after a new patch, which suggests deleting the USER folder, which would in turn delete your custom keybindings.

The other reason I recommend exporting/saving your custom keybindings, is that it allows you to experiment with variations. Using sensible naming conventions, you can try different settings until you find the one that works best for you, without having to muck with the keybindings back and forth.

I use very specific keybindings for character movement. I personally find that the QWERTY keys suit me better than WASD + modifiers to strafe and/or turn. As the behavior of features have changed, I’ve had to re-prioritize which actions are buttons on my HOTAS. Having different versions of keybindings I can test and retrieve at will, has been extremely useful.

With the continued refinement of the default keybindings, I’ve reverted to only changing the keybindings that are must haves for me. Things I can’t function without being set to my liking. Being able to import these back in after a patch is a huge time saver and a feature that all players should be aware exists. Here’s a link to the image in the video you can keep as a reminder of the steps.


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.