My Thoughts on Star Citizen

5 min

Few days ago I heard about a game called Star Citizen and this is my expression only on the game itself outside of the reputation of the company or the developers, the issues with refunding and so on. The game was available for free for 10 days from May 22nd, so I gave it a try.

The Good

Star Citizen is a multiplayer space simulator. The word “simulator” might sound very boring, but I can assure you that it is not just a space simulator. I think the word “space” in this context means literally the universe. It is just massive. I had to travel like 2,199,763 km just to get from point A to B. Not only the scale, but the content is also good enough. Although the game is still in the alpha stage though the development has started in 2011, I don’t think the fanbase likes to talk about that, the amount of content is quite surprising. One can literally do almost anything they can think of in space. If you want, you can

  • deliver packages
  • explore the universe and planets with your ship or with your crew
  • get into a massive dogfight (like 20 vs 20) with your friends
  • work as a private investigator to solve mysteries
  • customize your ship, weapons, and armor
  • and more!

The amount of freedom is overwhelming and together with the beautiful scenary and the heavily detailed ships, it just creates a master piece. Below are some in-game screenshots.

In-game screenshot

The city that the user is seeing in the image can be visited and there are many other places like these in the universe. The user can request to land in the hangar and actually park the ship near the city. There on, the user can take a metro to other places and explore the city.

In-game screenshot

In the picture above, the user can actually land or explore the plant which they are flying over.

The mind blowing feature about this game is that there is no loading screen. Remember how I just mentioned that one can visit the plant and explore it? There is no loading screen in that single process. The player can just dive into the atmoshpere of the planet and fly in it. Remember how I mentioned that one can park the ship in the hangar and explore the city? There is absolutely no loading screen in the whole experience which really makes the player think like they are in the game. I personally felt extremely immersed during the whole process and the experience was just amazing.

Although I am not a game developer, this kind of black magic really surprised me and made me curious on how it works. I couldn’t really understand the explanation but how I understood it is that the game basically loads while the scene is still active and only if a user can see it. Normally, a game would have to wait and generate the objects (mounting the texture and metadata on to RAM from storage) that are needed in the scene. This is the reason why games tend to have loading screens before a new scene so that everything can be ready and good to go. Star Citizen, however, loads the objects while the user is on and moving into a new area (or scene). Also, when no users are nearby, the objects are in a “frozen” state. So it is more similar to streaming than loading (as one could guess from the keyword Object Container Streaming). This part really gets confusing (atleast for me) as it divides into client side and server side so if you are interested, please check out the official documentation.

The greatest benefit from this technology is the User Experience. As I mentioned before, I feel like I am a pilot with a star ship that is cruising around the universe that really exists somewhere (kinda like Avatar?). However, to achieve this experience, internet speed is crucial and as this technology is quite new on this kind of scale, so there are some bugs and issues.

The Worst

I think I talked enough about the bright side of the game, so now I want to talk about the other side. The only issue that I had is simple but HUGE.

Bugs

Let’s say I played 5 missions. Those missions could be delivering a package for someone, investigating a case, or simply throwing away space trash. Out of those 5 missions, I would atleast have 3 or 4 missions (regardless of type) in which the game will just stop working or just stop me from continuing the mission. The game would sometimes lose connection although I have a fairly moderate ping and spec. Also, an object inside the game might just decide not to work for some unknown reason. There are many reasons why something might not work and the number of times that happens it just too damn high.

_/

Once or twice in the entire gameplay would not really matter that much, but almost once a mission? This kind of mistakes really make me take back what I have said above and it is one of the reasons I stopped playing.

So…

To summarize, although it has been in development for almost over a decade, if this game actually fixes all the bugs, somehow reduce the lag due to latency, and just keep up with the details, Star Citizen might just be the greatest (in both scale and quality) game in history on the assumption that the CEO does not run away with all the funds.