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Star Citizen: Chris Roberts New Game a Space Sim SP/MMO

By on October 10th, 2012 1:03 pm

Star Citizen

Chris Roberts, the creator of space simulation games like the Wing Commander series and Freelancer has announced today at GDC that his new project is called Star Citizen, and it’s space combat game set in a persistent open universe.

I’ve watched the live presentation made by Chris at GDC (courtesy of Gamespot). He confirmed that Star Citizen, the game he’s been working on for the past year, is indeed a space combat sim adventure game, that holds true to the games he has developed in the past, particularly Wing Commander and Freelancer.

Star Citizen will offer both single-player and multiplayer gameplay. The single-player part, that you will be able to play offline, will be like any other traditional game with a central story and a campaign. Chris explained that the idea is that after finishing the single-player experience the player is invited to enroll in the multiplayer experience where you will be able to immerse yourself into a persistent open universe (a bit like in EVE Online or World of Warcraft), and invite your friends to play in what he called “combat instances”.

So, in Chris own words, the single-player part of the game will be a bit like Wing Commander and the multiplayer open-world experience like Freelancer. The idea often repeated, and emphasized by Chris in his presentation, is that with Star Citizen he hopes to develop a game much closer to his vision, with lots of attention to detail and great graphics, that allow you to immerse yourself more in the game. Today’s graphics power, networking abilities and immersion seem to be the central reasons behind Chris motivation to develop this new game, apart from other personal motivations of course.

The background story unfolds in our own Universe, meaning Earth takes the central role in the story. Earth is the central system of power. In the single-player experience you’ll be part of an elite group called “Squadron 42”, which is part of the military front line division, kind of the Top Gun of space pilots or the military “navy seals”.

Regarding the business model, Star Citizen will not require a subscription, but will not be free-to-play either. Roberts said that the game will be available for a one-time purchase.

This is a single-player / massively multiplayer game hybrid, Chris himself confirmed that when asked about it by the audience, however he was firm about saying that this is not a kind of game that you must grind yourself to achieve “level 80”. Chris was clear about this. The point seems to definitely not be about leveling up to a certain point but to allow people to experience things together in co-op or PvP kind of gameplay.

There’s much attention put in physics and to the simulation aspects of flying a spaceship. So, expect to see thrusters moving in the direction required in order to pitch or roll your ship. After being asked about it Chris also confirmed that it will even be possible to switch off some of these thrusters in order to make more complex maneuvers and “increase the dog fight’s challenge”.

In terms of new content, since after all this is a single-player massively multiplayer hybrid game, Chris explained that the idea is not to make “massive one-year content updates to the game” like it’s usually done in other games of this type but to do micro-updates more often, that will “unlock a new uncharted system perhaps” or “5 new missions”. On a curious note, people will be able to name their own uncharted and recently discovered star systems, and be able to sell that information to corporations. Yes, there seems to be a currency of some sort planned for the game.

One interesting gameplay aspect is that you’ll be able to fly both small and big spaceships. So, you may start by flying a fighter ship but later one see yourself inside the cockpit of “a Millenium Falcon type of ship where you can be piloting the ship, one of your friends may be firing a turret and another may be fighting alongside in a fighter ship. This is something I always wanted to do one day” said Chris.

Chris excitement presenting the game, going through a demo and answering people’s questions was palpable. You really get a great impression from this guy. You can really feel the passion in him to make this happen and you believe him when he says “I hope you will support this game because you are the ones that are going to play it. However I myself I’m very excited and hoping to play my own game”.

The development model for Space Citizen is not the traditional developer pitches publisher, publisher grants money to developer kind of model. Chris explained that it’s hard to convince big publishers to back this sort of game, so he’s advancing with a mix of private investment plus crowd funding. He says to have some private investors on-board already but to prove that the concept is solid (the past year was used only for prototyping) he needs to prove that players really want this ambitious game to be made.

So, Chris will be using crowd funding to finance the game, via his Roberts Space Industries website. Supporters have several options which range from $10 that allows you to be part of game’s creation process to $10.000 which gives you lots and lots of goodies.

Chris expects to reach Beta in a period of 8 months. In a year from now he hopes to have the single-player experience ready and two years from now the all package with the multiplayer done.

Well people, if you love space sim games, enjoy single-player and multiplayer experiences, and would love to take space combat to the next level, in terms of graphics and immersive experience, then here’s your chance to make it happen.

We’ll be following this title closely. In the meantime you can know all about Chris’ new space sim in the Space Citizen official website.

Star Citizen

Star Citizen

Star Citizen

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  1. Kyle Rees says:

    Oh my! This looks amazing. It is funny how popular Wing Commander and Freelancer were back in the day, then all of sudden nothing? Makes me believe that despite our enthusiasm those games weren’t quite commercial successes. Crowd Funding is certainly fueling a gaming renaissance, interesting time to be alive. =D

  2. Smight says:

    that ship that’s Tiger’s Claw!

    • Evil Azrael says:

      Yes, the whole start sequence looks like the original start sequence from Wing Commander 1. The running feet, climbing into the fighter, the start thru the starter tube.

  3. ray says:

    “It is funny how popular Wing Commander and Freelancer were back in the day”

    Yes, I was one who worked through the original series, but eventually stopped playing. Not enough independence- the games played like they were on rails. They were basically a shooter wrapped around a predictable story and that got boring for me . (Having said that, they graphically offered challenging visuals and a more complex story line for the time.)

  4. Cid says:

    Just got a nerdgasm watchin’ ; if this game is half what it looks like, I will have to surrender what’s left of my social life.

  5. Mike says:

    Freelancer gets mentioned a lot, but part of what I liked about Freelancer was what it tried (and failed IMO) to bring over from Privateer; a trading side of the game too.

    Any word on if that’ll be part of the multiplayer, some trading? Freelancer was going in that direction but I think got pushed out the door just a little bit before being fully baked. Without that, well, asides from the persistent MMO aspect there’d be nothing there that others haven’t tried many times before.

    On further reflection.. even the MMO aspect has been done. Jumpgate, Black Prophecy, DarkSpace come to mind. A bunch of others, but those, if I remember, were all from a cockpit perspective. Freelancer, too, still has player-run servers that are fairly persistent.

    Dont get me wrong, though. If that guy makes a game, I’ll buy it, but still.

  6. JohnR says:

    Wing Commander and Freelancer were games I somehow missed back in the day. Can’t play everything I guess. Still in all it’s nice to see someone working on a space MMO, as the space genre is badly in need of a good one. Star Trek Online was great at first but quickly grew tiresome, and the less said about Eve Online the better. ;o) Thanks for bringing this project to our attention.

  7. Ashbery76 says:

    Freelancer holds up very well.You should give it a go.

  8. Jake says:

    awesomeness…. “now they say mobile and tablets are the future…” haha, so true.

    • JohnR says:

      Jake – Gawd! I hope not! Those mobile and tablet screens are so tiny. I love my big flat screen PC monitor at home with the surround sound system. IMHO it’s the only way to play a computer game, short of VR that is. ;o)

      Ashbery – I did the Star Wolves series not so long ago and for the most part liked it very much, so I may just take your recommendation to try Freelancer.

      • Jake says:

        I agree John. I have an ipad and sure it’s fun to play while I am laying in bed or on the can, but I don’t consider gaming as a hobby of mine because of mobile games.

        Just like ubiquitous electric cars, the cure for cancer, and American decline, when everyone starts saying something is right around corner, rest assured it isn’t.

  9. Stupid Space Lizard says:

    Is that really the best name they could come up with?

    It’s like if Steve Barcia came back to make a MOO4 and just called it Outer Space Dudes or something.

  10. Jamiri says:

    Yeah, I agree. I mean it´s meant to be another milestone in the space genre – and they just call it “Star Citizen”. A bit boring…

    The rest looks good though….

  11. Hypnotron says:

    The graphics are great. I think this will be a great star fighter simulation, but I’m skeptical about the cap ship operations. Most of the focus seems to be on graphics and fidelity of fighter combat, but in 2012 I expect more in regards to cap ship operations / carrier operations and station / planet side operations.

    Little or no mention of those things in his GDC 2012 presentation.

    Also I think he’s being optimistic about the time frame. In 1 year I suspect they can have a very basic space fighter combat sim, but the persistence and multiplayer aspects i think are going to take longer than just 2 years.

    But I wish him and his company well as far as achieving their funding.

  12. tocumi says:

    There doesn’t appear to be a way to create an account after you checkout so how is one suppose to donate money? There is only a sign in. Also the site says they are open to 2 way communication with their fans and yet there are no forums or e-mail address. I have no desire to signup for twitter or facebook to communicate with them. It does not appear the site is very well structured for accepting payments or communicating with fans.

    Did they forget something when creating this website? I am interested in funding this project but I would like to know if the controls are going to be easy to grasp such as freelancer or complicated like the x series. If it is simple controls like freelancer than I will support it.

  13. Serge says:

    The problem with twitch based MMO is latency. With multitude of ships and projectiles positioned in 3 dimensions and physics emulation, velocity vectors and accelerations it could be a pure hell to synch. Latency would make it into uncontrollable mess, with objects and ships jumping around all the space chaotically which is no fan for player. Autotargeting would help… May be incorporate latency into gameplay as comm delays/radar jamming and show not objects but cones of possible trajectories, but that would be too hardcore for common player probably…

  14. Ridon says:

    sounds a bit like an mmo xwing vs tiefighter with some bigger ships… we’ll see… it doesn’t sound like hundreds of players against each other like in eve online but maybe lots of smaller encounters : “and invite your friends to play in what he called “combat instances”” maybe like guild wars I ?!

  15. Cid says:

    @ tocumi : after you pay, the website proposes you to create an account. Don’t worry, it’s all safe and sound, I had a confirmation e-mail and my account is now active.

    BTW I bet it’ll reach it’s funding goal tomorrow.

  16. Brian says:

    The graphics style is very reminiscent of Starlancer, a title that came out a year or so before Freelancer and prequel to. It’s interesting it’s never mentioned. A forgotten title no doubt. For me Freespace 1 & 2 will be the seminal title to end all space sims. A Freespace 3 kick starter would break all records IMHO.

  17. Jack Tramiel says:

    Man I sure hope this game supports Amiga. The Amiga has not been getting any respect lately whatsoever. lol. Cool game btw.

  18. AstralWanderer says:

    Hmm – I’m seeing a discontinuity in space-time here…

    This project’s emphasis (inevitably) will be on multi-player with all that entails (server admin and support to counter online cheating, spamming, griefing and real-money purchases) and yet will have no subscription fee and no charge for expansions/updates. How then, does this project expect to keep running?

    If it was exclusively single-player then a once-off fee could work – but something else has to provide for long-term multiplayer support, whether that be in-game purchases, commission charged on item/position swaps or a flat-out subscription (which arguably would have the least detrimental in-game effect).

    Perhaps Chris Roberts should be questioned more on this point – how an MMO is financed can have a major effect on gameplay.

    • Kyle Rees says:

      Guild Wars 2 is having great success with their model with the one off purchase then free to play. It satisfies many different types of gamers, those who want more can use the in game store, and those casual players can always come back whenever they have time and not worry about wasting money on subscription fees when they can’t or don’t have time to play like the hardcore gamers.

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