First, I would like to take a moment to thank the outstanding producers around the company who have worked with the Directors and Leads to bring this schedule to the point we feel comfortable sharing it publicly. Creating a proper production schedule is a Herculean task in and of itself and then knowing that it will be visible to over a million eager supporters around the world is a daunting prospect. The schedule you are now looking at is built from the estimates of hundreds of developers around the company, collected and integrated against our overall objectives for the game. To give you an idea of the work that goes into building and maintaining a schedule of the complexity needed for Star Citizen, I would like to share a video with you, it’s well worth your time to see just how much work and thought is needed to schedule manage something of the scope of Star Citizen.
The next Release is a major milestone for us, as it will be the first time the community will get to experience the Planetary Tech in a Live build.
Like the Star Citizen Alpha numbering change from 1.3 to 2.0 for the move to Large World, with its 64-bit precision and Local Grid physics tech, that allows us to deliver a game of our detail at a solar system scale, 3.0 represents a giant jump in gameplay potential from the code in the 2.x branch. For a start, it will contain about nine months of our main development branch beyond 2.6.x as well as almost two years of Planetary Tech development that the Frankfurt Engine team embarked on in the last half of 2015. The Planetary Tech opens up a whole new landscape (pun intended) for adventure. In the same way that Large World and Physics Grids created new possibilities in gameplay by allowing players to go from walking around a space station to boarding a ship, flying it hundreds of thousands of kilometers, exiting their pilot seat, walking to an airlock, opening it and EVAing over to a derelict station, all from the same point of view, the Planetary Tech takes it one massive leap further. When you see a Planet or Moon, you will be able to fly there, land and explore on foot, or from your ship or a ground vehicle you have brought with you. All seamlessly, all with the incredible first person detail that Star Citizen is known for. With this we are delivering something that goes way beyond the initial promises and conception of Star Citizen; we will be simulating a First person Universe with almost no limits. It’s a great illustration of how with the support of a Community as great as Star Citizen’s anything is possible.
With the debut of 3.0 at the end of June we’re starting with the three Moons around Crusader; Cellin, Yela and Daymar. In addition, we’re hoping to also get the Planet-like Asteroid Delamar and its landing zone Levski in as a “Stretch” goal. Then as we move through the year the universe will expand to include all the main landing zones for Stanton. We had originally hoped to deliver most of the Stanton Landing Zones with the first release of Planetary Tech, but that proved optimistic once the talented team at Behaviour, who had built ArcCorp, Levski, Grim HEX and had begun work on the remaining landing zones of Stanton, moved off Star Citizen and onto another Behaviour project in December. We had been steadily shifting our reliance away from external resources and we felt it would be unfair to block them from the opportunity to work on their own game. Unfortunately, replacing an Environment team of over 20 is no small task, which has set back the progress we had originally planned to make on the landing zones of Stanton. As of today, we have just abut replaced the team with internal hires and we are continuing to hire additional environment artists as fast as we can find ones that meet our quality bar. The Environment Team is now some 37 artists strong, so long term we feel we are better situated to deliver the vast amount of locations that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 needs.
Rather than make everyone wait for the landing zones to all be completed we decided the best course of action would be to get the Planetary Tech and the other improvements in everyone’s hands as soon as possible. Our goal for 3.0 is to again do what we found so valuable when building Arena Commander: involve the community as soon as possible. More than any other process, it is YOUR feedback that helps further Star Citizen’s development… which means that we need you on our moons with this next release. The worlds we’re creating are massive, and giant planets mean we need a lot of eyes (and mice, keyboards and flight sticks) making sure they’re up to par. How big do I mean? It takes about four and half hours to circumnavigate the Cellin in a Dragonfly at full afterburn or twelve and half days of walking! If every single person registered through RSI today stood on the same moon at the same distance, they wouldn’t even see each other. There’s a lot to explore and a LOT to test in this massive step forward for Star Citizen.
While the Planetary Tech is maybe the biggest headline, it is just one of the many new pieces of tech that will debut with 3.0. With the increased detail of the Weekly Studio reports, you’ve been seeing glimpses of fundamental systems that we have been building that will dramatically increase the ability to interact and be immersed in the universe of Star Citizen. Systems like Item 2.0 with its new Player Interaction Mode that allows for a much wider variety of actions and gameplay, such as managing a wider array of your ship’s functions to using and manipulating items like you can in real-life. Or the Entity Owner Manager that will allow us to persist proper state on Players, Ships and Items no matter where they are, even if not in memory or owned by a Player. If your ship is shot up, it will still be shot up when you log back in or return to spot you left it on a Moon. Or the completely new dynamic Physics Grid System that handles the needs of planets and the wide-open reaches of space. You can stand on a Moon as it rotates on its axis, watching the sun rise and fall! Or Cargo and Kiosks that will open the possibility of Professions by allowing Players to earn money as a Trader, Hauler or Pirate. Of course Haulers need protection and Pirates need hunting, which creates opportunities for Mercenaries and Bounty Hunters via the new MobiGlas Mission App. Or the debut of Subsumption’s Mission system which provides a scalable and flexible system that is tightly integrated with our new AI systems, allowing us to generate challenging encounters and scenarios on the fly as well as creating a structure for multipart and narrative missions longer term.
I could go on for a few more pages as there are so many new features and content that will be arriving in the next release but in the spirit of TL;DR go to here; to see a detailed list of the Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 Features.
Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha is just the first step though. We’ve decided to share our longer roadmap through the rest of the year, so you can have visibility on what parts of the Stanton System come online and when, along with the associated gameplay. Our plan is to have two more releases in the LIVE branch of Star Citizen this year after 3.0 that fill out the Stanton System beyond what we outlined last year.
It’s a pretty big deal to share the schedule of our longer term roadmap, but we felt that it would help with everyone’s visibility on when certain features and content can be expected and understanding when things take longer or priorities shift due to unforeseen problems. We would not be here without all of your support and in some ways the Community is an extension of the development team providing the funding and the feedback on the huge undertaking we are doing.
No one has ever attempted to build a game as ambitious as Star Citizen and I doubt any Publisher would have the patience or stamina that it requires to build something that breaks molds the way Star Citizen does. 3.0 with its Planetary Tech is a testimony to the power of Crowdfunding and an enthusiastic, empowered Community. Myself and the team and eternally thankful to be able to build Star Citizen the right way, being able to take the time to engineer things for the long term, a way that will allow the universe to flourish for years to come. Together we are making history.