Thoughts on CitizenCon

Note – this article is an opinion piece by BBPCGC member Joel McCoy. It does not reflect the views of the group as a whole.

Star Citizen demo shown at CitizenCon.

I watched the Star Citizen demo shown on Twitch at CitizenCon with interest. While I have not pledged any money to this project yet, I must say the pitch is enticing. That it is a point of contention in some media circles doesn’t hurt my interest either.

Let’s get one thing out of the way at the beginning: I do not fall in-line with certain people who have been trying to dismantle this project from the outside. The leader of this crusade, who shall remain nameless here, is not a reliable source because he sells a competing product. The demo I saw was technically sound. This SHOULD squash any rumors that this game some sort of pyramid scheme. They may or may not be having financial troubles, but I got the distinct impression that there is a game, and it is being worked on.

So, I tried to watch the presentation with a completely open mind.

Once the “blah blah” section of the presentation concluded, they showed a bit of in-game tooling around. I must say, the technology on display here is impressive. The idea that these folks are walking around on space stations and in-flight ships makes my mind run away at the role-playing possibilities. The Star Wars kid in me immediately jumped onto the Millennium Falcon. There was a moment where a passenger did a space-walk out of a ship, and the point of view switched to the other ship showing the little person floating by. It was truly impressive, and it wasn’t some smoke-and-mirrors instancing trick. Back on the station, the game switched to an FPS mode on the fly, and there was a brief fire fight. It was difficult to make anything out other than the aiming of the weapons because the shooting was done at a distance. But, that all these things are possible in one engine is pretty impressive.

Here’s the bad stuff. I’ll preface this next section with the statement that I know this is just alpha footage.

The game looked dull. Really dull.

The pacing of everything was… off? When the pilots were trundling along on the space station, it seemed like their legs were asleep. They were shambling along like zombies. Once they got to the ship, they had to wait on elevators, doors, and pilot chairs to turn around. Then they slowly take off, and they slowly slow down once they get where their going. I’m watching this and thinking “I’m not going to have time to play this after work.” The whole thing is very precise and “realistic”, but it’s also a bunch of stuff I’m going to get tired of watching 1 year into the game. Hell, I was tired of watching it after ten minutes.

No Man's Sky
No Man’s Sky

I couldn’t help but compare this game to another game I have been following. No Man’s Sky has a kinda-sorta similar pitch in that you fly around the galaxy shooting stuff and landing on stuff. Everything in NMS seems snappy, quick, and nimble. They have very smartly designed their game using an editorial process. When you get on the ship, you just get on the ship. The developers of that game must have decided that the climbing aboard aspect just wasn’t much fun. I have to agree with those folks.

There was a bit of time devoted to Squadron 42, which is the single player module of the game. It was a pretty generic cut-scene of a generic space opera with generic dialogue delivered by the not-so-generic actor Gary Oldman. Frankly, the whole thing wasn’t very inspiring because I have seen that scene played out so many times with different combinations of characters and words that I’m just numb to it at this point. From a political perspective, I probably wouldn’t have shown off the expensive Hollywood talent at this point in development, but the crowd seemed excited, so what do I know.

Overall, I had a very “meh” reaction to the whole thing. Hopefully the game plays in a such a way as to alleviate my concerns. I have not played it, after all. I wish them luck. The amount of work that needs doing does indeed appear to be monumental.

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