I recently sat down for a chat with Commander Cruisin’ Tom for an interview.
While at PAX East, CCT got The Relay a fantastic interview with Kedhrin Gonzalez and Travis Day, which you can check out here.
I also spoke to him about his time at PAX East, the mood of the crowd and how he saw Star Citizen being experienced by others at the event, as well as his impressions of the upcoming FPS module – Star Marine.
Erris: Hello ‘Verse! My name is Erris. Today I’m going to be talking to Jake or, as you know him, Commander Cruisin’ Tom.
CCT: Hello everybody!
Erris: Jake is one of the newer members of team The Relay and he was down checking out PAX East and getting us, quite frankly, some excellent reporting while he was down there. So Jake, why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?
CCT: Well, I’m Jake. I live over here on the East coast. I’m a slightly newer backer of Star Citizen, but I have been following it for quite some time – probably since around the Kickstarter. I love all things space… like my dream is to someday actually go to space. So, in the meantime Star Citizen has provided a means to live that dream so it’s all very exciting to me. I just, at this point, know way too much about Star Citizen. It has become quite a passion of mine.
Erris: Awesome, well, we’re really glad to have you aboard. And I have to say personally, I’m really glad to have another East Coaster on the team, ‘cause I”m sick of dealing with all these West Coast guys. Come on. Get a real schedule. Anyway, so. While you were down at PAX East over the weekend, you got us an Interview, that should be going live, probably before this interview airs. I’ve listened to the interview in whole, and it is excellent. So, why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about that interview?
CCT: Well, it kind of all happened really fast, like, over the last two weeks or so. I was going to PAX, and I was originally just going to talk about FPS and kind of take notes at the presentation on Saturday, but I thought you know what? I bet a bunch of them from Illfonic and CIG are going to be there, i’ll just shoot them an e-mail, see if they wouldn’t mind talking for a few minutes and, probably within like 20 minutes of sending that e-mail, the guys at Illfonic were like yeah, absolutely, just let us know, swing by the booth on Friday and let us know when we can set it up, and that kind of kept spiraling to include Travis from CIG as well, so when I got there, they were both just hanging out at the booth, so I asked them when would be a good time, and they were like, right now. We headed over to the hotel that is attached to the PAX convention center, and we sat down and talked for…an hour. And it blew my mind. I had no expectation that that would even be a possibility and they were both very gracious and awesome and friendly, and they answered all of our questions extremely thoroughly, and yeah, it’s probably up by the time this interview goes up and, it’s incredible, so check it out.
Erris: Yeah, it really is. So, you spoke with Kedhrin Gonzalez and Travis Day right?
Erris: Yeah, it’s an incredible interview, so thanks very much for getting it, and a huge thanks to both Travis Day and Kedhrin Gonzalez, and all of CIG and Illfonic for giving us their time. Now, on to important matters. I understand that while you were at PAX, you had the chance to try out the FPS. In one sentence, what are your thoughts?
CCT: Different in the best way possible.
Erris: That’s a good sentence. So, what exactly were you able to try out?
CCT: So, the mode that they had at PAX was the I think they’re calling it the astro arena? It was originally called the battle sphere, which was originally called the battle arena, which was originally called something else
Erris: Which was originally called ‘Stolen from Ender’s Game’
CCT: Yeah, it’s, it’s Ender’s game. It’s the 0g battle arena. Even Chris said it in the PAX Presentation, he mentioned Ender’s game like five times. But, essentially, the mode that they had was 4v4, but it supports up to 16v16, which also blew my mind because we don’t see a lot of FPS multiplayer modes that are that big in terms of scale. And this is just one distinct mode. It’s 0g battle arena, it’s all 0g, you only get a stun pistol that has a grapple beam attachment. You don’t have any thrusters or anything, it’s all just floating around, using the grapple beam to pull yourself to walls, to the various metal polygon obstacles that are in the middle of the Arena, and the objective is to either A – immobilize the entire enemy team, or B – get one person from your gate to the enemy gate, which is always down. Now, the cool part about it is, the stun pistol, if you hit someone in the leg, they don’t die, or, they’re not completely immobilized. we’re already seeing the limb damage system in place. So, if you shoot him in the foot, they just can’t use their feet, if you shoot them in the hand, they can’t use their hand, and that’s the interesting part is that you can actually take someone’s arms out and they can’t use their pistols anymore, and that allows for very dynamic gameplay. On top of that, a push-pull system is all in place. There’re a few animation bugs that were present, but that`s actually what Chris talked about, that they’re spending the next two weeks tweaking and refining it so that it`s more polished and much smoother. But other than that, as for the actual mechanic of push-pull, when you go up to a surface in 0g, you hit spacebar, and that kind of attaches you to that object. So, when you move with WASD, you’re actually crawling along the surface of that object, and then to push off of that object, you aim in a direction, and you push spacebar again, and then you push yourself off of that object and float into 0g, and then you can use the grapple beam almost in the same way except you just pull it and it pulls you towards that object. It`s really very interesting, and it feels really tense and it feels like you have to make every single shot count. That`s probably the most important thing. We even talked about it in the interview a little bit, it feels very deliberate, like every single action that you make matters, and it gives this anxiety and tenseness to it that`s really awesome. It`s extremely exciting.
Erris: I honestly cannot wait to try it out. I’m super excited for it, and I kind of hate you for being able to try it before me but, you mention that there are some little bugs with animations, other than that, how does it look, what`s the world look like, what does it feel like?
CCT: It’s gorgeous. It’s, it was kind of like seeing Broken Moon for the first time. The arena in Ender’s Game, where it’s a transparent arena that’s in orbit of a planet so you actually see the rest of the space station, you see the planet below you, you see all of space on the outside, there’s a lot of detail in that map. Even in just the waiting lobbies, when you spawn, you’re in this lobby of sorts behind the gate, and there’s just these little chairs and benches and advertisements for all these fake fictional companies, and there’s just a lot of love and attention to detail that got put into every part of this. Even the polygonal metal things that are scattered throughout the arena have all the bolts and screws on them and everything like that, so it’s just…that high fidelity that they always talk about, it’s ever-present in the FPS.
Erris: That is fantastic to hear. So, we know that it’s supposed to come out in a few weeks, I think Chris was saying two to three weeks, for the FPS module. Based on how it looked and felt at PAX, how much more polished do you think it’ll be when it releases to public?
CCT: I mean, it’ll probably be about the same, I think they’re just working on those few bugs, and then, I forgot to mention before, they were running into…when the game finishes, the client would crash, and it’s the exact same glitch that you run into when you’re running Drone Sim, it’s that exact same bug, so it’s either fixed or it’s about to be fixed. So, in terms of the polish, it’s really just those few glitches and some of the animations that have to be tweaked a little bit, and it’ll be as pristine as all of the demos that you see are. It’s really fantastic, like, I don’t know how much more polish they can make it is basically what I”m saying.
Erris: Awesome. So, I understand that you got to meet the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Chris Roberts briefly. How did that go?
CCT: Yeah, it was, it was very briefly, but he was just hanging out in the convention center and people were just walking up and saying hi and taking pictures, and I just walked up and introduced myself and said, kind of mentioned what we do, and that all of you guys say hi and that Years1Hundred says hi, because I figured that would be a good name to mention, and we talked about his work and kind of that’s really the message that CIG wants to get across, you can do anything, you can be anyone, it was really cool. He’s really nice, and so accommodating. The man is the busiest man on the planet, and he still takes time at a huge event where he could be talking to more press, he could be on the phone with any number of studios fixing things, but he takes time just to say hello and take pictures with everybody and see all the cool old Wing Commander stuff that people bring, and, he’s just an awesome person, and it was an honour to meet him.
Erris: That’s awesome, you’re really lucky to have met him. So, more to PAX in general. What was the general mood of the people at the PAX East events, and do you think they were excited by what they saw from Star Citizen? And actually, was it just the FPS that they were showing or was there some AC stuff as well that people could try out?
CCT: So actually, for the first two days of PAX, all people could try was Arena Commander, cause basically, the FPS, they wanted backers to be able to try it first, so they saved it for the event on Saturday night, and also they had a few extra bugs they wanted to squash. But yeah, they had Arena Commander, and then towards the end of the day Sunday they put up Arena Commander again too, and people really liked it. Of the people who were able to figure out the controls without looking at the keybindings, which, they’re very complex, so I understand their troubles, but it was cool. I feel like a lot of people were really skeptical about Star Citizen, and they were even surprised that it still existed and that it’s here in playable form in front of them, and there were lots of smiles on peoples faces when they finished playing it, as we saw just from the results of new citizens, almost 10,000 people signed up on RSI after that, and that’s amazing. Just showing off the game, no extra advertising or anything, they used the game and just, here, play it, and sign up, and nearly 10,000 people did, and that’s awesome.
What was really awesome was that, for all of the demos, AC, FPS, Travis, Kedhrin and David from Illfonic, were just hovering around, showing people the controls, like, here’s how you do this and this, and it was really cool just seeing them showing people the game. But yeah, it was a lot of people very lost as to just the vast complexity of star citizen. And I remember when I felt that way, when I first loaded up the game, so it’s kind of cool to see.
Erris: It always takes a bit, but especially once they start adding a tutorial mode into AC, we’ll see people that have trouble with it drop, it’ll be great. So, in terms of other people who played the FPS Astro Arena, I know you were saying that you watched quite a number of matches. How was just the Arena itself received, do you think?
CCT: A lot of people kind of said how I felt is, I heard a lot of people saying this IS different. People are used to the twitchy, arcade-y shooters like COD or things like that, and this is very like, slow is not the word. Deliberate is probably a better word. You have to make a lot of decisions, it’s a lot more strategic, and people seem to really like it. There was a HUGE line, for just the FPS most of the day Sunday. Probably at least 50 people in line at all times, just to play the FPS, and it wasn’t just backers too. There were a lot of backers, but, people would walk by and look, and see that it’s Star Citizen that people are playing, and, whoa, Star Citizen, FPS, cool! and they’d just hop in line and it was…it was really cool to see a lot of people were interested in it, and it’s exciting to see that FPS is going to drive a lot more people into the game
Erris: Yeah, and I think that’s kind of the main thing to take away from it is that, the FPS is going to be just as good and just as ground-breaking for FPS’ as Arena Commander was for Space games, and I cannot wait to try it and I’m still so jealous that you got to before I did.
CCT: It’s coming soon!
Erris: I know, three weeks, I can’t wait. Anyway, I just want to say, again, thank you so much for all the reporting work you did while you were down there, it is phenomenal, again, everyone out there, if you haven’t checked it out, go back, check out the interview, it’s phenomenal, done by Commander Cruisin’ Tom, interviewing Travis Day and Kedhrin Gonzalez, uhh, Jake! Thank you so much!
CCT: Absolutely, it was my pleasure.
Erris: See you later, ‘Verse.