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PU Townhall Panel 4: Game Ideas Forum – Transcript Written Sunday 1st of February 2015 at 02:06pm by Erris

Hello ‘Verse!  Here are my notes for the ‘Game Ideas Forum’ from the PU Townhall. They’re not 100% word for word, but they’re as close to it as I could get. I hope you enjoy...

Hello ‘Verse!  Here are my notes for the ‘Game Ideas Forum’ from the PU Townhall.

They’re not 100% word for word, but they’re as close to it as I could get.

I hope you enjoy!


Panel Members

  • Chris Roberts (CR)
  • Mark Skelton (MS)
  • Tony Zurovec (TZ)
  • someone else I don’t know (SEIDK) [Now identified as Jake Ross, but remaining as SEIDK, for my own terrible attempt at humour]
  • Moderator (stuff said by the moderator will be in italics, because he has a beard)


  • Cheers!
    • Right at the beginning, alcohol will be necessary for this panel.  Good start!
  • Welcome to the Game Ideas forum.
    • cay is a mix of can and may apparently.  Important things.
    • It’s not really a forum.  It’s an elevator pitch.  Fans have 90 seconds to make a case.  Because nobody has 90 minutes.
    • Pitches will be judged by the panel and by the audience.  When the panel likes what they hear, they’ll ask for more.  That being said, only a few minutes will be spent on each topic.
    • The Panel ‘cay’ be mean




  • Q1 – Concerning Death of a Spaceman: I was thinking, at time of character creation, you could also create your benefactor so you could take pictures with them, so that after you die they can post them on spaceships and such to show the connection you have with them.

Panel Response

        • MS – that’s sad.  Also that’s awesome.  It was less than 90 seconds.
        • CR – I like the idea  You want to have a sense of history, of all your characters.  It should be like a family.  Your great-great grandfather served in this war, and you know, his son served in this war and stuff like that.
        • TZ – Seems like another interesting way to customize the hanger; putting out display cases that have like great grandfather yadda yadda yadda, click on each one, get the highlights of their life, etc…
        • CR – good pitch.
  • Q2 – Hoping Chris comes around in regards to trading rare fish.  In lieu of that, if need be, could we have the level of fidelity that exists in most aspects of the game applied to the fish tank?  … it rambles a bit and I lose track.  Sorry.  I believe he’s asking if we can have various different types of fish tank – salt water, fresh water, etc…

Panel Response

        • Chris Roberts is laughing.  The panel…don’t seem to be saying much.

Fan Response

        • Boo’s
  • Q3 – No information so far about the way that players will interact with the NPC organizations.  I’d like to see, with Pirate packs, and more nefarious organizations, is as players gain influence with the organization, possibly having players take some control over the organization, potentially political, like for instance if I’m in a certain pirate pack, and I attack a member of another pirate pack, because I’m more influential in pirate pack A, they might start a mini war between the two packs.

Panel Response

        • Panel couldn’t quite hear.

Fan Question Repeat

        • As players gain more influence in their organizations, can they potentially influence the politics between various NPC organizations themselves?

Panel Response

        • CR – So you’re saying, because you’re a part of that pirate pack, and you attack another NPC Pirate pack, you would, umm, have the enemy, the other pirate group, attack the one you’re a part of because…
        • TZ – I think he’s saying that, because of his stature, that makes it more of an issue when you attack that other group, such that they’re more likely to respond.
        • CR – yeah, but…that’s kinda what we already have, cause that’s the reputation system, the design of it is you have a reputation that’s not just your own one, but kind of associations you have, therefore I’m part of pirate pack one, and I go attack another group, I’m doing it as me and also as a member of the pirate pack, so therefore there’ll be hostility from that other group against pirate pack 1
        • TZ – but but…he’s saying the extent of their retaliation would scale based on your standing within pirate pack 1, in other words if my group is a thousand strong, and I’m the low guy, it’s probably a non issue, but if I’m the leader, then that’s it, they’re going to war.
        • CR – seems reasonable to me
        • TZ – it’s purely a factor of how much you do it, it’s like [scattered applause from the audience] you know, when you’re talking about organizations with 100 or 500 or 1000 players, it’s kinda like the economic simulator.  You don’t want one player to ever be able to cause two gargantuan organizations to go to war.  I
        • CR – I would say your rank is kind of a multiplier on reputation adjustment when things happen, so, the higher rank you are, instead of adding two hostility points, it adds six hostility points.
  • Q4 – Idea about a, I remember reading or seeing in 10FTC, or Around the Verse, or something, about if you have multiple game packages, you’re going to have multiple characters, and you could choose, this one’s my main character, and maybe this one’s an NPC, or you may choose to play it, I always thought it’d be cool if you could do both, so if I had two game packages and I have Han Solo and Chewbacca, if I’m playing Han Solo, then Chewie can be my NPC crewman, or vice versa.

Panel Response

        • CR – yeah yeah, the conception of the design would be that you can specify your characters, and the ones that you want to you could have as NPC’s or…
      • [Fan Follow-up} But you’re not limited or?  Like, Han Solo’s not always an NPC or…
        • CR – No no no, the conception of the design was that, like, say I’ve got five characters, right?  and I’ve got, han solo or chewbacca, or luke skywalker, or whomever, I can play any one of those.  I can have any one of my friends play the other ones, or I can have them operate as NPC’s.
      • [Audience shoutout] How many total?  [Audience laughs and applause]
        • CR – well, hah, I’m not going to tell you how many total, we we haven’t ascertained how many actual players we can get in an instance yet, so…well yeah, we want to get as many people as possible, no, we just have a lot of, that’s a process we’re going through right now, is optimization on the game, on the game server side, so we can get as many people, as many ships, in an interface as possible.  but ah, you know, it’s a pretty big ongoing optimization job.
        • CR – good pitch!  it’s what we’re doing.
  • Q5 – if we as players discover a new solar system, through a jump point for example, and we find a planet that’s maybe in an inhabitable zone…could we as players establish our own settlements or colonies?  and have other players or NPC’s come and build that out over time as the years progress?

Panel Response

        • CR – well yeah, we’ve, we’ve talked about this.  this is actually a longer-term thing on the game.  it won’t be in the beginning, but part of the long-term plan is to have, you know, more procedural exploration, so we have more systems that we generate  landing zones that you could go and land on, and at some point, one way to really add game content is you start a colony, and then there’s all sorts of missions that bring in the basic materials for the colony and build it up, and you sort of make that a player and NPC thing, so
        • TZ – we’d probably start small and basically have content
        • CR – we’re not promising we’re doing it, so
        • TZ – I”m just saying, we’d start small in regards to before you actually get to the point where you can actually establish your own colony, build something up from scratch, you would probably have the ability to, you know, seize control of something that exists within the game, that we’ve constructed, and basically operate it, manipulate it to basically maximise production or whatever.  and then once we’ve got all of that functionality refined, then we would move on, logically, to allowing you to actually build these things out of scratch, which would require, you know, more interface work, more backend logic, you know, this whole game, it’s just
        • CR – well are we talking about, cause i’m not talking about making it a uhh, you know, like a sim city where I place this building here and
        • TZ – no no I’m just talking about nodes.
        • CR – right right.  I would say, longer term, that’s basically an end-game style gameplay where we’re deliberately going to have parts of the game that players will work together to take over, to defend, to build up, so we’ve already mentioned space stations and asteroid bases, these are examples of places players would take over, or they could defend, umm, you know, and, building out a colony in the future would be a place that you would build up.  An earlier version of that would be building up an economic node, os you take over the small little weapons factory and you can build it up into one that produces you know, five times a smuch stuff.  but you need to make sure you have demand, you need to make sure you’ve got equipment, you need to make sure the employees,
        • TZ – yeah, and there’s a whole slew of information we’d need to give you behind the scenes, and levers we’d need to give you to operate, to make it not only an enjoyable experience, but one to where, you know, better players do better than other ones because they’re more adept, they’ve practiced more, they’re paying more attention to what’s going on around the system.
        • CR – so yes, I think yes, there you go.
  • Q6 – Regarding shared NPC’s on multiple accounts, there’s been terms thrown around on the forums called ‘agent smithing’, where people will be able to come and assist you when your NPC’s are not quite up to snuff, and explaining the mechanic of when a fellow friend or org mate can agent smith one of your NPC’s to give you better control.  In certain parts and aspects of fighting, and if you do decide to do that, make sure you make the cool graphic animation going blaarggag as he forms in.

Panel Response (and audience laughter)

        • MS – I love that, that sounds great

Cry-engine already has that as a shader, don’t they?

        • CR – That’s, that’s the plan.  The plan is that your friends could take over, I mean, that’s what we’ve mentioned,
        • MS – but like, in just take it over from an NPC or
        • CR – Yeah yeah, you can only take over the, the design was that if you have five game packages, you can make every one, there’s five characters basically, and everyone of those characters, the others could be an NPC on your ship or your friends could come in and control and, basically, you go online and say hey, I’m going to fly my constellation, can you come and take over, you’re han solo in the turret, ‘cause my NPC han solo sucks.

He shoots early, is what I hear

        • CR – so the only thing I would say is, I don’t know about the, you know, the matrix effect when…but the rest of it is all part of the plan.
  • Q7 – Pitch on player sales as it relates to crafting professions, which I imagine are mining, refining, aftermarket tuning and salvaging.  Contemporary MMO’s use the auction house, which players go to and they look for their item, and they look to just buy the lowest priced item, and so crafting becomes a matter of making stacks, so maybe star citizen could have scales of imperfection on the items that players sell, so if you’re salvaging an item and the plasma torch slips out of your hand, it could ruin the integrity of the weapon, or overclocked CPU might not be power efficient, it might run too hot.  Umm, so then when players go into the auction house, they look at exactly what kind of imperfection they’re getting in the items, and they can bid maybe more accurately.  maybe i’ll buy a bad cannon and try and repair it, or just try and pay more for that pristine CPU, or the great ore, or, umm, yeah.

Okay, before the panel starts, did you guys hear that okay?  So here’s the funny part.  Earlier, there was a part of the panel where I was going to say there are some things that we have been asked a lot, by fans and orgs and backers, that we’re just not ready to talk about, cause it’s just not something we’re doing in the next 12 months kind of thing, and crafting is one of those things, because there’s a lot of edge cases that we need to figure out, and there’s also a lot of base technology that we need to do before we do it.  So basically his question was, for player crafting, are there ways we can deal with situations like a player makes an item that is not as good as it could be, or makes an item that is perhaps superior, and we would how we would perhaps deal with that in our crafting system?  So here’s the fun part is that, I was going to say there are things that we’re just not ready to talk about, and that’s totally one of them, but that was a great idea and I’m’ glad we recorded it, because

        • CR – i’m just trying to, what’s the point, because we already have the overclocking stuff where players can overclock
        • TZ he’s just wondering, when you actually modify them,
        • CR – which overclocking is
        • TZ – no no I understand that, but and then you basically sell them at an auction house, if players could actually see the custom modifications which to me seems like something you would certainly be able to do.
        • CR – yeah totally
      • [fan again] and not only that, but in salvage, say the plasma torch slips, or you cut the wrong way
        • CR – one of the, outside of whether you’re salvaging or crafting, or, one of the big gameplay ideas is that you will go around the universe and basically, so the idea is you can’t just go to some global Amazon site or buy any item you want, so like, typically the best stuff will be distributed around the galaxy, and some of it will be hard to get, so you know, you may potentially have this one planet that’s out in a very dangerous area of space near Vanduul space or something, and it has this crazy mad hermit that makes absolutely the best ballistic repeater, and it does 20% more damage than any of the other ballistic repeaters, and it produces less heat, and whatever, and so the concept would be that players would trek to go there to buy the item, or another player could make a business of going back and getting a bunch of items and picking them up in his Freelancer or something and flying them back to sell them at a premium to the players in Terra or something, so that’s all part of the idea, of the game design, to kind of encourage players to travel around the Universe and sort of come across things and experience things as you would not be able to, with an infinite amount of money, just order everything online.  Though you could, potentially, with a lot of money offer to pay other players to go get you stuff, and I can definitely see there will be that, so that’s kind of the kind of gameplay that we’re focusing on, so naturally, from there onwards, you know, that’s sort of the additional stuff of overclocking weapons or crafting it or finding an alien piece of tech and taking it to another location where a scientist can make it into a special type of weapon umm, that’s kind of what I think people are thinking on the crafting side, that’s kinda what we’re thinking about, and, all that will happen down the road, in the game.

The um, one of the things that you mention is that if you’re arc welder slips or whatever, there’s a bunch of things that we’re doing in our gameplay design that is very skill based, like, the way you do the mining and the way you do the wormhole jumping is all very skill based, and I don’t want to say twitch based, but you know, you need to move the stuff, and that’s definitely part of the things that we’re considering as we’re doing these kinds of designs, and that’s good stuff.

TZ – and yeah, that’s actually a goal across the entire range of, you know occupations is basically to eliminate as much as possible the concept of, you know press a button, wait five minutes, and something happens.  That’s not fun, it’s boring, it opens up the game to all sorts of farming exploits and

But people like that though.  But there’s games for them.

        • MS – not this games, but there’s games for them.
        • TZ – we don’t like farmers…
  • Q8 – Shadows of Mordor has this Nemesis system which gives NPC targets additional responses or attributes based on whether they have been defeated or fled or beat the player in the past, kind of like an organic, player driven, character development system

Panel Response

I’m just stopping you now because, we’re talking about that already.  

        • CR – and just to be clear, that was actually when we first, Shadows of Mordor does it very well, but if you go back and look at when we were talking about sort of, in death of a spaceman, it actually talks about that, it talks about specific named NPC’s that have their own personality
        • [fan again] Yes, I would like
        • CR – so basically the nemesis system that you see in Mordor is kind of what we’ve been talking about and planning on doing.  They did a very nice job of executing it, umm, but we, that is sort of the goal that we want for our sort of big boss NPC’s that we want in the game.
      • [Fan again} I would like to add to that though, go beyond the nemesis system and umm, so say I think SC is a place where you can expand it to where, if you’re chasing a bounty target, they could also negotiate with you or plead with you and perhaps if you accept their plea, they will open a different quest chain or something like that, and also if you can apply it to not just targets but also like, employer NPCs, other NPCS,
        • CR – well, I think that Tony can answer this a bit better, cause his background was actually writing the AI for Ultima 7 a long time ago, and he’s got a huge amount of AI experience, but, our goal is, like in Shadows of Mordor, they’re all Orcs, so they basically all want to kill you and there’s not a lot of discussion that goes in there.  It’s basically I killed you and you killed me and aaar aaar.  but but, we’re sort of talking about having the idea of Meta AI, so beyond, so, typical AI in most games, is, okay I’m a grunt, and I know how to tactically deal with this situation, I’ll start shooting at him, I’ll duck behind cover, well, we’re sort of, we’ve sort of talked a bit about what we’re doing with the AI, it’s not just what they’re doing at this instance, it’s not even what they’re doing that day, they’ll have full life cycles, but it’s what their goal is, like, I’m’ a pirate lord, and I want to take over this area of space or something, and so, we’re having, that concept is on more than just someone you would be in opposition with, it could also be a guy that wants to be, an NPC that wants to be a merchant prince, and he’s hiring people and, I think what you’re asking for is pretty much what we have and
        • TZ it’s very similar to the conversation we had a while back, and old email exchanges and, in regards to doing everything we’ve kind of described to date has been more NPC logic at a microscopic level, and so it sounds like what you’re saying and certainly what Chris has told me in the past is that he wants, it’s another Macroscopic component on top of that where you can have NPC concepts of things like ambition and greed, and those would effectively allow these NPC’s to evolve over time, and not only that but they would actually understand how to pull levers other than just the simplistic well i’m going to shoot you or i’m going to help you umm, they would actually understand the value of blockading you know, ore from getting to one system, because they know that that will cause the assets that they have you know, under their control, to skyrocket in value, so really, it’s a more advanced, higher level, you know, NPC AI that will inevitably get bolted onto the low-level stuff that’s you know, that we’re developing now.
  • Q9 – All-out, NPC wars.  have you thought about that?

Panel Response

        • CR –  I thought it was all-out NPC Dwarfs…something…
        • TZ – I was going to say I like all-out NPC wars, but I like NPC Dwarves even more.
        • Everyone talking at once
        • TZ – Absolutely.  That’s all going to be part of a product of the whole economic simulator and what it’s running under the hood and [fan interrupts]
        • CR – yeah, I think, I think Tony was saying that, that that’s what the economic simulator does, not that it’s based on economics, it’s just that the meta AI that Tony and I are talking about, that meta AI comes from the Economic simulation,  [Fan interrupts again]
        • CR – I think you can join the wars.  If there’s an organization fighting another organization, if they’re open to [Fan interrupts again]
        • CR – Yeah, we’re planning that there will be missions that you can take, mercenary missions that you can take that will be supplementing UEE actions so for instance,  maybe there’s a push against the Vanduul in one star system and missions will be out there, we need 10 pilots to join the fleet to take out this station, so that’s already kind of part of the plans and we also do have plans for various factions or organizations to be in conflict with each other, and based on the way the economy situation works, maybe, maybe lets not call it an economy simulation, it’;s a Universe simulation, would be the best way to talk about it, it’s sort of a meta Universe simulation, and it simulates, 20 million or whatever AI agents, and that’s the one that’s deciding what these organizations are up to, and that sort of umm, trickles down to what you see on the game side.
        • TZ – one other important point to add to that is this whole Universe simulation is not, you know, we’re not setting this up and then just letting it run according to its own devices, we’re actually investing quite a bit of effort on the backside, such that we will actually be able to visually inspect, see what’s going on, monitor what’s happening in every system at a kind of a god-like level, and part of the reason why we want to do that is to see when things are reaching levels that, such that we want to step in as designers and institute some kind of change.  for example, you may have a system and it’s completely quiet and there’s very little in the way of conflict, and we notice that it’s been that way for the last, you know, twelve hours, it’s reached a nice state of equilibrium, so we can go into the simulation and we can throw in a big Vanduul swarm that invades that area.  That’s going to end up having all sorts of ripple effects not only to that system but to neighbouring systems and that would wind up playing out, affecting everything from commodity prices to the availability of ships to what missions are

Tony…your time’s up.

  • Q10 – I would like to see alien Fauna play a pretty significant role, whether it be capturing it for research on a remote planet or seeing it impact the local populace, think like Pitch Black where at night everyone has to run inside cause the local fauna is swarming the planet to kill everybody, or capturing it for someone’s zoo collection.  Like, for a pirate lord, he’s trying to capture all the animals, and also umm, strip clubs and casinos please. [fans applaud]

Panel Response

        • SEIDK – Are those things related, or…
      • [too many people talking, can’t make it out]
        • CR – well, if we’re talking about collecting stuff, that’s kind of another part of the design is that, when I talked about going to different parts of the Universe like, we’re specifically trying to have like, the seven wonders of the universe, like there are places you go where it’s an amazing view, or you know, from this place you take a flower, from this other place you take a weird animal, or you take a little statue of terra tower like you’d get a statue of the eiffel tower if you went to Paris.  That is part of what we kind of want to do on the collection basis.  Did i hear it wrong, or…
        • SEIDK – I was just going to say, I want to ride a dewback, that’s what I want to do.
        • TZ – well, I thought that you were saying yeah, flora fauna in regards to terrain, in other words, you will actually be able to venture out from the cities which is, more of a longer-term goal
      • [Fan again] it was like…would way way off maybe, but yeah, like, venturing outside the cities maybe, not even populated planets
        • CR – we’ll see, but I actually think that we may have a some more, sort of, naturalistic landing locations that you could go, than you would think, cause that’s actually something that’s quite easy for us to generate in Cryengine, and to a certain extent procedurally, cause actually building out a city with all the shops and everything is quite a lot of work, even when it’s pre-fabbed up, so we have talked about having some sort of simpler areas where you land where for instance, a mission could be there’s a scientific research station up on a mountain or something, so we basically have the landing pad and the area where you would sort of take your rover and load supplies that you’ve been contracted to take to the station and you’d drive up the path and deliver it.  and maybe there’re some wild animals along the way that attack you or whatever, and you go back to your ship and take off.  So we are, kind of, that’s kind of an example of the first person universe encounters that we’re talking about doing to open it up, so it’s not all just you land in a city and it’s concrete, or you’re in space.
        • CR – so, collecting wild animals?  yeah, maybe.  well you’ll definitely, like, flowers fish, all those things, whether it’s a mountain lion and you’re taking that back in a cage, that’s…another level of code.
        • TZ – he wants to go out in the wild and capture some sort of wild animals, bring it back and, you know
        • MS – it’s like the COnstellation commercial, remember where they landed and, we definitely want to have experiences like that, to encounter other things and, you know, conceivably cage it up and bring it back, I would like to see that.

And I think for good reason we’re just not going to touch the whole strip club thing

          • CR and TZ are talking to themselves here, can’t really hear them…
          • CR – no my point is you can harvest trophies, by killing an animal or by picking a flower, it’s all the same, you get an item and you put it back in your hangar
  • Q11 – You’ve got microwave cannons, red lasers, blue lasers, I want a design that’s old, centuries old, and reliable.  I want a 1911 pistol.

I do too

        • Panel didn’t hear the question, a bit of repeating the question…

So, i’m the resident gun-nerd, by the way, thanks.  I’m pretty sure that’ I’m driving Chris crazy…because I see these concept pieces and I’m like…how does that even work?  Like, they’ll put an LCD panel where the action is, or where the ejection port ought to be, and there’s no way this is going to happen, so, anyway, yeah, I want a 1911 as well, cause at this point, the 1911 is 104 years old, right?  And I don’t see a reason why it won’t still be working.  

        • CR – but you can have that today…it’s not necessarily a

But it’s such a good design, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be working 300 years, 400 years from now, right?  Anyway, I’m going to make sure we put one of those in the game, just for you.  Cause why not?  

  • Q12 – Hi, Creepola, first time caller, long time listener, what I’d like to have is, if someone kills someone, like actually they’ve used up their lives and a bounty goes and captures them and brings them to justice, have them have to pay the next of kin of the people they killed out of their own pocket.

Are you a viking by any chance?

      • [audience] real money!

Panel Response

      • CR – I’m still trying to understand…
    • [fan again] so, someone kills someone, like a Pirate kills a trader, and takes their last life.  And their next of kin carries on.  Once that pirate is captured by a bounty hunter and brought to justice, they would have to pay reparations to the next of kin out of their own UEC.
      • CR – eenh, ah…yeah, I don’t…I mean…I guess.  The only thing I”ll say is, if you get captured, we’re talking about having a mechanic where you either have to bribe your way out, or you have to escape from a space prison, that’ll be sort of a mini FPS level, so…I guess we kinda already have the payment part of it, the only thing is it’s not really paying it to the next of kin.  It’s going to the state right now.  And pretty much, if you’re going to model it on the real world, it always goes to the state.  that’s basically what happens.


And that’s it everyone!  Hope you enjoyed!



Erris is Canadian. He does some random things for Relay, no-one really knows what, but still they're stuck with him. He’s also written one Young Adult novel that he can’t stand, which can be found here.

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