Star Citizen – Open Sandbox

Every so often I look around to see what is happening in the gaming world. This week STAR CITIZEN’S CHARACTER CUSTOMIZER is the subject of an article on Massively (3/23/2018) that caught my interest. They featured this video. While it is an interesting video of what is happening in the design room, we never get to see the character creator. 🙁

But, skipping through the video made me curious. I wanted to see what the game will look like… this video is the impressive one, IMO. The size of the world is amazing. But at time mark 19:00 you are finding the planet was just a small part of this virtual world that is truly a virtual universe.

It is pretty impressive. The size of the cities is surprising. What gets really amazing is the trip up to the space station (time marked link opens a browser). Then the jump to the next system and a trip down to the surface of another planet. For now, the universe in Star Citizen is limited. This is alpha.

By the 32:00 time mark they are down on the ground showing of the detail of the planet.

Another article How Crowdsource Prodigy Star Citizen is Changing Game Development tells how the ideas in game development are changing. Between Second Life™ and Sansar™, we can see some significant differences. But, the marketing ideas for SL & Sansar are obscure. While the developers of Star Citizen™ (SC) are going with these wild advertisements.

You can stumble across these ads in various places. They appear to be based in YouTube and linked to from many places like I have here. Wow, the make-you-want-one advertising is apparently selling. I want one…

The marketing team even appears to have touched the fans of the cult series and movie Firefly-Serenity by making a ship somewhat like the Firefly class Serenity. Now if they just had a River Tam character that could totally kick ass…THAT would be WAY fun. And Morena Baccarin and Gina Torres…

With these ads, the project is the crowdfunding success of 2017, which I think is an impressive distinction.

A significant difference in development is the shift from a virtual world to a virtual universe. A significant difference for SL residents is SC is more a game than platform.

Entering the game now is entering the Alpha v3.0 iteration of the game. (Alpha 3.0 is a January 2018 release, I think – recent for sure. With 3.1 being talked about.) One buys a ‘starter’ ship (US$45) and downloads the game. But, as an alpha it is very much like Sansar in that there is lots to look at, way LOTS, and very little to do. How much there is to do varies with the person reviewing the game. For SL residents it is likely to feel very deserted.

Like SL the SC developers are aware of VR but, that is not their focus. I suspect in both cases they are developing with VR somewhat in mind. But, I doubt they will bring either SL or SC to VR. I think they will wait for hardware and VR to come to them. We are part way there now. Maybe in three, five, eight years we will be there.

The sixth generation Intel processors and the first generation of NVIDIA cards, 1000 series, with VR in mind run SL much better than past generations of hardware. Mine sees 30 FPS to 150 FPS. The 9th gen Intel and soon (July?) the 2nd gen NVIDIA (beyond 1000 series) will be out this year. How much better are they going to handle SL and SC? We don’t know. We can see newer NVIDIA cards bumping up performance by increasingly large amounts. Now around 30% more per generation. If it was just a matter of video speed and a 30% rate of increase, we are 9 years from being able to main 90+ FPS in SL on the low end. So, someday.

But, SL is changing and so will SC. The coming Land Impact (LI) and Avatar Complexity (ACI) calculations will change and that will change Second Life. Significantly. We are already seeing how both are shaping SL now. Designers are being moved to better design and modeling practices because with these tools people can objectively see good and poor design. The coming change will further that and also reflects the Lab’s changing emphasis on what part of the designs needs to improve now based on recent changes to SL.

It is interesting SC dev’s are putting 40 players in an instance. In SL we have a similar limit. Sansar’s is only a tiny bit more.

SC’s goal is to get everyone in the same instance. Wow… now that is a goal. EVE Online gets large numbers together in battles. You’ve seen those, if not, YouTube it. FPS changes to Second per Frame…

SC is ahead of SL in this area as the content is being professionally made, meaning highly optimized. A big performance advantage over our novice creators.

SL’s advantage… or disadvantage… depending on your viewpoint is SL has genitals. We have no idea what Star Citizen’s TTP is going to be…

My final words… I won’t be spending US$45 anytime soon. I am tempted. For now, I think I’ll buy an SL helicopter.

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