Friday, February 07, 2014

The Next Great Starship - Episode 1

Letter from the Chairman: $38 Million!

We’ve hit the incredible $38 million mark in our crowd funding campaign. It’s exciting seeing the Organizations feature flourish: backers are inviting more and more people into this world, and in the process they’re making even more possible for Star Citizen’s development. The $38 million unlock is the Cano System, home to a fully aquatic planet:
  • Cano System is home to a G-Type Main Sequence Star that’s almost identical to Earth’s. Of the four planets in the system, only one is inhabited: Carteyna. Located on the edge of habitable zone, Carteyna is a classic waterworld. Fortunately, its planetary axis constantly keeps the northern hemisphere away from the sun, which allowed for the water to freeze into the landmasses used as the initial landing zones in 2587. Multiple attempts have been made to try to convert the thick atmosphere into something breathable, but the process never seemed to stick. In fact, over the years, every time there’s a new technological development in geo-engineering, they test it out here on Carteyna only to yield the same result. Almost fifty years ago, scientists discovered microscopic organisms in the very early phases of life in the depths of the oceans. This caused a massive uproar throughout the UEE at the prospect that they had been attempting to terraform a developing world. Carteyna was immediately placed under the Fair Chance Act. Unfortunately, Humans had been living here for almost over three hundred years and the families that had been here for generations felt that they had earned rights as residents. After years of debate in the political and scientific community, the population was allowed to stay, but only under certain conditions: future terraforming attempts have been outlawed and the Human population has been consolidated to a single arcology to minimize their impact on their environment and the development of whatever species is growing in the deep.
Our final star system poll was the closest we’ve ever run, with only a few votes separating the Tevarin Ghost World and the Lost Human Colony. Since it sounds like Star Citizen’s backers are equally excited about both concepts, we’ve decided to break the rules and include both concepts!
  • Kabal System – The discovery of a new system is always an exciting time. Even the most jaded NavJumpers can’t help entertaining the possibilities for scientific understanding or new species or even a new home that could await them on the other side of a new jump point. The discovery of Kabal was certainly something new. By all outward appearances, the system seemed empty. It was only during when a UEE Surveying team began to assess Kabal III, did they find something disturbing; old uninhabited Tevarin cities. How could an entire Tevarin system escape detection all these years? Did the Tevarin that were assimilated into the UEE know about it? How was it kept a secret? The questions multiplied when a detachment of Marines, sent to secure the planet ended up discovering a cache of old Tevarin war machines. Among the rows and rows of weapons, they made an even more disturbing discovery; some of the technology was made in the last ten years…
  • Oretani System – Oretani was just one of many systems that were being discovered during the rapid Expansion era of the 25th century. The surveyors noticed nothing in the system’s six worlds of immediate importance. Only one planet seemed to be a viable candidate for terraforming. The terraforming Corp that won the bid sent a mid-level team (and their families) into the system to start processing when the only jump point into the system collapsed. Scientists scrambled to figure out a solution, but it was the first time an incident like this had occurred. As years stretched into decades, people studied the area around the former jump point, hoping for a sign that it had reopened, but after time they gave up. After all this time, Oretani is only ever debated among select number of historians. Most believe that without support, the initial terraformers probably died out, but no one really knows what to expect on the other side if that jump point ever reopens.
That’s it for the additional star system stretch goals. At $39 million, we’ll announce a new goal that will help chart the course for the future of Star Citizen in a different way… and it’s one I’m personally very excited about, so be sure to check back then and learn more!

As always, thank you for your continued support of Star Citizen. It’s hard to properly express how grateful we are to the community for letting us pursue this dream. I know that everyone is eager to see more of Star Citizen as quickly as possible—more ships, more systems, more gameplay—and I promise you that we’re just as eager to get that out there. Stay tuned: big things are happening in the ‘verse!

Wingman's Hangar Episode 55

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Organization System Launch

The Org HubThe first release of the web-based Organization system is now live. You can access the Organization Hub via the Community menu at the top of the page. From there, you can create your own organization or join an existing group. A special thank you to the hundreds of Citizens who volunteered to test the Organizations system over the past week; your feedback was invaluable in launching this update. The Star Citizen community has expanded beyond our wildest expectations over the last year; we’re excited to see how these new tools help with the process.

Registering an Organization

Org CreationClick on the CREATE button to start a new Organization. You will be prompted for registration information, including an Org name and a permanent ten-character Spectrum ID (“SID”). The SID will appear in your Organization’s web URL and elsewhere, so choose carefully. With the first release, every user may create or join one Organization. This will be expanded in future updates to the system. Note that you must have a Star Citizen game package on your account to take part in the Organization system.

Once you have created an Organization, you can begin recruiting members and customizing your Organization page with your own text and graphics. The sky is the limit: we saw a number of very creative Org pages set up during the test period. Select the “Admin” area for a wide range of options, from setting your group’s public visibility to deciding the roles and rank titles for group members. The system is extremely customizable and we’re confident that Star Citizen’s creative backers will be able to do amazing things on top of this shared framework.

Organizations with pages listed as public will appear in the Organization Hub’s main page. The page includes a list of the newest organizations, the most active groups and comprehensive search and listing options for those seeking an openly-recruiting group. Group activity is measured by a combination of individual user activity and group size.

Live Chat 

The Organization launch also includes the launch of our new XMPP-based live chat system. Designed from the ground up to replace the existing Chatroll, the new Live Chat adds scalability and greatly improved customization. In addition to the shared general chat, users will now connect to rooms for their organizations and other roles (Subscribers, for instance, will have their own chat room.) Best of all, you can now connect to the Live Chat using any XMPP-supporting client. You can access the live chat on the go… and this cross-platform functionality will transition directly into the game itself.
XMPP-based Chat
The Live Chat is currently in beta, during which the Chatroll will continue be available. You can switch to the new chat via a link in Chatroll, or connect directly from the chat buttons located in the new Organizations area.

Organization Rules 

The existing forum rules apply to the new chat system and any public-facing Organizations page. Additionally, Organization pages cannot include inflammatory, offensive or copyrighted material. If you find an Organization page violating these rules, please use the ‘flag’ button at the bottom of the site to report it. Organizations are expected to moderate their own internal communications; if a member is causing problems, remove him from the group.

A Sample Organization
Please note that “claim jumping” of organization SIDs and names will not be tolerated. Do not attempt to ‘steal’ an existing Organization’s information. The archived Organizations forum of the RSI website will be used to settle any disputes about who started what group first.


This is only the beginning of the Organization system. Cloud Imperium remains dedicated to creating an environment for Star Citizen’s squadrons, clans and guilds to flourish, and we have extensive long-range plans for enhancing Organizations as we build towards their presence in the persistent universe. Multiple org membership, visual organization charts and fleet views are among the features we are working on adding now.

Our goal with the Organization system, like the Hangar and Dogfighting modules, is to allow the Star Citizen community to get a foot in the door and start experiencing (and expanding) the Star Citizen ‘verse as soon as possible. Remember: organizations isn’t just about letting you group together with friends and gamers, it’s about backers beginning to shape Star Citizen’s lore!

Letter from the Chairman: $37 Million

You’ve pushed Star Citizen to $37 million in crowd funding! And that amount is only one of the numbers I’m having trouble believing today. Let me share another one with you: 4,924. That’s the number of Organizations that have been created since the new system went online less than twelve hours ago. The breadth of the Star Citizen community continues to astonish: you’ve taken up our charge and are creating something truly unique.

At $37 million, you’ve unlocked a new star system at the center of a nebula:
  • Tanga System – At the heart of an unusual rectangular planetary nebula, lies Tanga System. The inner planets were engulfed as the star entered the red giant phase. The expanded habitable zone unfroze a small world on the former outer ring and for several hundred million years made it habitable. Life began to emerge and was just reaching a primitive state when the star collapsed into a white dwarf, throwing the planet back into a deep freeze, then blasting the atmosphere away with the resulting planetary nebula. That’s how the system was found: Only two worlds (speculation that there could have been three to four more) but both are dead planets with no atmosphere.
The last poll was a hard-fought contest, but it looks like the explorers continue to have an advantage: the winning selection is an “unexplored natural wonder.” As a result, we’re adding a new system (based on a recent, real-world discovery) for you to discover. We intend to stock it with some impressive surprises for the explorers who manage to locate it! Here’s the description:
  • UDS-2943-01-22 System – Breaking news: UEE astrophysicists based at the famed Klavs observatory station have utilized advanced telescopy and other remote sensing technologies to identified a truly unusual star system on the fringes of know space. The object, once thought to be a single massive star, is actually a trinary star consisting of two white dwarfs and an active pulsar orbiting one another. Because of the complex gravitic factors at work, it is now believed that a jump point leading to the system likely exists in or near explored human space. Beyond the bizarre stellar makeup, the composition of the system is all but unknown. Could planets exist in this carefully balanced web? What else might have been drawn there? One thing is certain: the first Citizen to travel to UDS-2943-01-22 will have one hell of a view!
Now it’s time to vote for the final system stretch goal, which will be unlocked at $39 million. If past polls are an indication, it should be a close race between the three options. We have some interesting ideas for developing each one, so you can rest assured that whatever you select it will add a cool new facet to the Star Citizen world!

Thank you for your continued support. Whether you’re part of a thousand-person Organization or planning to explore the galaxy on your own, 2014 is going to be the biggest year yet for Star Citizen.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

100k Reached! Next Stretch Goal: Traveling Vendors

We reached a large milestone today while crossing into the six figure range in our ongoing Kickstarter Campaign. With that milestone we reached a stretch goal that will bring Cooperative Structure Placement into the game. Decorators and city builders should enjoy this feature, which is documented in our most recent update.

It also means that all backers with Closed Beta Round 2 or earlier access will receive the opportunity to invite one of their friends into Closed Beta Round 3. The invited player will also gain access to one preview weekend of access at some point during during Closed Beta Round 2. This was our way of saying thanks to our backers for all their support.

Our sights are now set on our $115k stretch goal: Traveling Vendors, which has been one of our most requested features. This goal allows players to mark themselves as a vendor at any time. They can do this from anywhere in the world, even when out adventuring. While this flag is enabled other players will be able to interact with them to browse and purchase goods which they have marked for sale, without any player interaction necessary.

It doesn’t end there though. Your goods will also appear in the auction system. Players can elect to purchase your goods automatically through this system, provided they are willing to pay the shipping fee. Or they can elect to travel to purchase the items from you in person, avoiding the auction fee.

If you wish to sell items while you are sleeping or AFK, you will be able to flag yourself as an AFK Vendor. This will cause an icon to appear over your head, denoting to other players that you are open for business. This is an easy way to attract the attention of others if you are in a crowded location, such as a city. It will also allow players to gain a tracking arrow to your location if they found one of your goods in the auction system, and would like to find you to avoid the auction fee.

Player Created Cities will be able to specify which players are allowed to create traveling vendors within their cities, and be able to collect an optional tax on any item sold in their city. For example, you could only allow your nation’s members to place these vendors to avoid crowding, or to disallow them entirely, if you so wish. You could also aim to create a bustling trade market, by allowing any allied player or any non-hostile player to set up shop in the city. NPC controlled cities will apply a flat fee for goods sold to avoid overcrowding in cities. But you will be able to set up vendors for free in PvE Housing Areas.

Needless to say we’re pretty excited about this feature. We hope that it will provide PvE only players with an opportunity to create their own vendors and shops, without forcing them to brave contested territories. We also envision the taxation options in Player Created Cities to create an interesting market dynamic, which allows towns to differentiate themselves from one another.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wingman's Hangar Episode 52

Next Stretch Goal: Points of Intrigue

The second stretch goal is behind us, and ensures that Adversarial Camps will become a reality. You can expect an article on this feature after the implementation is complete

The next stretch goal is an extension to the engagement system which we are referring to as Points of Intrigue. In the PvE world Points of Intrigue will pop up in random places infested by creatures or NPCs. Some will require a few players to clear out, others will require multiple groups. The more complicated the Point of Intrigue the better the rewards for capturing it. Rewards will include longer term buffs that will aid your player during your play session, as well as the usual assortment of engagement rewards. Once a Point of Intrigue has been captured, any player who visits that location will receive a receive a buff for a period of time. Some Points of Intrigue will also spawn special NPCs who are only available upon their completion. Once the timer expires, a new Point of Intrigue will appear somewhere else in the world, attracting players to the new challenge.

The PvP variety will work in a similar fashion with players needing to conquer the Point of Intrigue, but only 1 Nation can be considered the winner. The Nation then will be able to select if Allies of the Nation will receive any of the minor benefits. More Point of Intrigues will provide city and nation incentives, such as improving happiness in the Nation’s cities.

The goal of this system are similar to most engagements: To provide an ever-changing list of opportunities, which encourage players to work together under a common goal.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

$70k Stretch Goal: Adversarial Camps

We’re happy to announce that we’ve reached our first stretch goal. When we crossed $60k in pledges it ensured that the Rocharus Mount will make it into launch, and become our first tamed mount. Stadi Thompson spent the past few days getting this mount rigged and ready. We still need to write some of the mechanics for these and there is some animation work to be done, but you can find a screenshot the first pass implementation of this mount at the end of this update.

We now turn our sights to our $70k stretch goal: Adversarial Camps. Adversarial Camps are a new spawn system which is aimed to add even more randomization to our areas. Adversarial Camps work similar to our Den system, except with very different goals.

Dens were designed to scale spawn rates based on the number of players, to be able to randomly select the mob types in an area, and to provide a variety of different spawn rules to allow for scaling waves of content. They were also designed to shut down though if no players remain in the den’s trigger grid for a period of time, and also to prevent an area from running out of mobs when there are larger concentrations of players. The combination of these features makes them very scalable and in general we are happy with the system. But they also need to be laid out in a grid, which means that their locations are static, they just turn on and off based on need.

Adversarial Camps are similar to dens in many ways, but they are able to handle longer term spawn manipulation. That functionality is currently only available through engagements. When the world manager decides that it needs a new camp from a certain type and range of monsters it will randomly place one into the world. Once spawned this camp will grow in size and difficulty until it is stopped. The chosen location and the rate at which it expands is independent of players. If an Adversarial Camp is left unchecked it can grow to become very large, but will also generally provide greater rewards for the player who band together and clear it out. The longer they exist, the tougher they will become. Where Dens ensure that our world has a constant supply of mobs, Adversarial Camps mix up the counts to allow for more random infestations.

 The goal of this system is to add variety to our existing spawning systems, to allow us to create new content more quickly, increase the randomness of our spawn systems, and to add an additional layer of variety from one trip into an area to the next. They should make a fine addition to the game.