Greetings fellow Citizens! Check here for the 2nd episode of 10 for the Designers, including a transcript by /u/Nocturnal_Nick!
Usual Designer intro and Thanks
Calix Reneau and Matthew Sherman are here to answer your questions!
– On to the Questions! –
CR: The first half is easy, I have none. But thanks to our backers and world spanning team I have loads of reference and people that I ask about how repair works in the real world. I’m the one that’s doing the design for field repairs.
MS: What are some of the things that you’re using as a reference?
CR: In terms of actual gameplay loop, there is actually some good ground tread already, and we have some military folks to bring it back into reality. The loops that I’m looking at are more built around having small discrete actions, but having a wide variety of those. Any given problem will be dynamic and different to solve, and players will have a lot to react to. It won’t be a big deal actually accomplishing a repair, but the difficulty lies in looking for what needs repairing and how to do it. I’m takng cues from Car Mechanic Simulator 2014, which came out at the perfect time for inspiration, as well as trauma centre. So these are really simple interactions, but layered such that they’re interesting and complex. I’ve also been taking cues from Penumbra, the direct interaction with the world and with the objects that you’re plugging back into your war-torn vessel. So that’s how repair is going, we’ve actually got a pretty cool prototype of that going at the moment, and hopefully we can sneak that one out pretty soon.
MS: One of the biggest things that we have right now to help with these conditions is our level of support of input devices. If you want to play with a KB/M, or Joystick, Gamepad, and full remapping. If people have challenges with accessibility, they’ll be able to remap and program their controllers (whatever they may be) to work with Star Citizen.
CR: And also, one of the core elements of Star Citizen is having these specialisation roles, so anytime we’re making a new system it’s about how deep can you go, and how deep do you have to go. In general that answer is you can go really deep, but you don’t have to. Like, if you don’t want to fly a ship, you don’t have to, we have a full FPS game, and based on your playstyle and needs as a player, I think that philosophy of focussing on specialisation over a traditional progression system will mean people find a role that challenges them and enjoy at whatever level. If it’s a repair mechanic, or turrets, or shields, or comms etc. All these things.
CR: Yes. That’s the entire point of multicrew, taking the flight game and splitting it among multiple people encouraging teamwork. A consequence of that is that not everyone has access to all of a ship’s systems, and not everyone NEEDS access to all of a ship’s systems. That way a player has a lot more granularity/ability in an individual ship system. For example, with shields and radar, those controls will have a lot more ability to dig into exact what they’re doing when they don’t have to worry about weapons/targeting/not crashing.
MS: If your shields get shot up, or your weapons do, we’re going to have to give you some way of managing that within the ship, and yeah turning those systems off/turning off different engines, rerouting power etc, that’ll all be possible.
CR: This is something that CR has brought up in meetings since I started here. That idea of being able to strike out and make a name for yourself in-game and doing it well, yes absolutely. The mechanics are still being determined with how that’ll be expressed, but yes, the idea is there.
MS: The biggest difference we’ll have over something like SWG or a traditional MMO is that instead of having a weapon smith skill or an armor-making skill is it’ll really be more about how much stuff have you broken and tinkered with to get that skill. Very much like real-world computer overclocking, you’ll occasionally break something, but once you’ve really mastered how to make those parts to what you want, you can definitely make a name for yourself.
CR: The goal is to try to balance a certain amount of art and science to get that exact amount of overclock performance without burning out an item too quickly.
CR: The heart of the question is, does the environment affect flight. It doesn’t yet, but it’s absolutely intended to. Not to the extent atmospheric flight, but more things that’ll effect player behaviour. So if you’re flying through an ion storm you might have issues with your power-plant, or flying through a nebula that’s highly volitile, and using your thrusters too much it could blow up around you. So yes, we are looking at having it affect flight mechanics directly, the much more immediately attainable examples of this would be things that affect players flight and decisions based on that.
MS: I think one of the best ways to think of this is the end of Star Trek 2, when they’re fighting Kahn in a nebula, they’re still flying normally but having to make considerations for the environment around them, which changes the tactics and gameplay a lot.
CR: This is an interesting one that you can answer, because CR was the one that did the Vanguard, and Matt was the one who did the shields, so you’re in a good position to answer it!
MS: Yeah, in short, absolutely. For the exact mechanics of it that’s still being worked out, but on the idea of splash damage and direct damage shields, one of the coolest things to do with it would be putting the full force of the direct damage shield to the front of your ship, and the splash shield to the back, so if you’re doing a strafing run in on a capital ship, you’ve got the protection against their big guns on the front, and missiles from the guys chasing you on the back.
CR: The Vanguard is definitely built to be versatile, the redundancy it has allows you to make decisions and combinations that you couldn’t with other similarly sized ships, at the cost of component sizes. That will be able to play in any direction you want, either you have an extra component the same for added protection, or maybe another one that has different characteristics for more layers.
CR: I would love to hear you describe the target’s vector. It’s incredibly difficult in the 3D space we’re working with. That’s one of the things the Hornet Tracker is particularly well suited for. What’s described here is 2 different systems, there’s the targeting system and the comms system. The hornet tracker for example is very good at detecting and targeting other ships, then transmitting that information to your ship. So if you have this ship on your radar, and I do not, you can fix that.
MS: Like you’re saying that with comms, if a hornet tracker has the advantage with detecting and tracking targets, it might not be the best with communicating that, so if there was an allied herald for example, that’ll be a much better communications ship, so you would want the tracker to send the info to the herald, then the herald sends its out to the rest of the fleet. Teamwork!
MS: In short, yes, we definitely want to get this cleaned up to work much better, and at the very least/barebones, change “USE” to tell you what you’re doing. Like if you’re opening a cockpit, or opening a canopy, lets tell you that.
CR: That “USE” prompt is pretty deeply ingrained into cry-engine, it’ll take a lot of work to get that worked out and replace it with another system. I was following up on this recently and was really surprised to hear how difficult this particular use button is going to be. We have a few designs of what might replace it, though nothing is set in stone yet, we’re playing around with it. One of the obvious issues with the current system is that it doesn’t even localise. In the French version for example it still says “USE”! I don’t know what USE is in French, but I feel like we could do better. Everything is animated, so I’d expect to see the player doing animations that interact with objects in the world. That’s one of those things, we have this working in a vacuum, it’s yet to be seen how this will work when we put it all together. I’d definitely like to see that use-key changed.
MS: Right now we’re still getting the exact details of our salvaging system worked out, but in short, if you find a big prize you’ll be able to take advantage of that somehow. Be sending a call out to friends and having them bring a big ship into your instance, or maybe a couple of hours could pass by and you’d still be able to get your friend into that instance to start salvaging, or if it’s repairable, bring something into fix the derelict up and take it home!
CR: There are still a lot of questions at the moment about when servers will be told to spool up or close particular instances. It’ll be difficult to play this kind of thing before we work that out, so it’s definitely a priority.
CR: This is another one of those really timely questions, I was just talking with John Pritchett a few days ago about something similar, picking a flight leader and making them your IFCS’s relative point of reference. So when they move your IFCS will track that and move to accommodate. It will require a friendly IFCS handshake, so you won’t be able to use this to make dogfighting disappear. What it will do though is allow you to make complicated flying formations by moving only relative to your squadmate, rather than relative to the universe. I’m sure that’ll make reacting to the universe difficult, but we have a fairly broad spectrum of exactly how it’s handling that frame of reference, which is something we’re looking to try fairly soon to see how the game handles it.
MS: Formations are an interesting thing, especially with something as big as SC taking into true 3D space and managing all those positions at once.
CR: Even to the point of being able to communicate formation. We had a proposal for just having “here are my wingmen spots” so you know where to fly in order to fly with me, so you can work together a little more. It’s all some the immersive things that come about because of our simulated systems. I’m all for the “just try it” attitude!
Extro and Thanks