Last night over 27,000 people were witness to the live viewing of the Star Citizen dogfighting module, officially called Arena Commander. The module, set to release sometime between late April and early May 2014 is the first phase in a series of public alpha tests that will systematically increase in complexity.
The live stream preview was just over an hour long and featured a good bit of live gameplay footage with Chris Roberts and other members of the Star Citizen development team playing the game live on stage while the audience in the Royale Night Club in Boston, MA and tens of thousands of fans watching live from all over the world.
The footage was awe-inspiring and the overall shock of the beauty of the game may have taken from the focus required to interpret some of what was actually being displayed. I’ve extracted a few images from the gameplay footage that I feel should be looked at further with a bit of examination conducted by myself.
The HUD within the space craft seems simple yet informative. It gives the pilot the information needed without any additional fluff.
The top left 3D model appears to be a visual representation of the current configuration of the space craft that also shows damage and other effects via color coding. Under neath that is what can be interpreted as a 3-dimensional representation of acceleration for each axis. Beneath the acceleration monitor is a readout of all weapon systems onboard that shows power and ammo remaining, if the system is damaged and if it has any waste heat is building up within the component (a problem for spacecraft in real life, not just for weapons).
At the center, just below the window is a globe that is the radar readout in the area near the ship.
Combat is a large part of the game. In this image, Chris Roberts is fumbling with an Xbox controller in an attempt to shoot an AI controlled Hornet.
The top right HUD item is a target readout that displays damage to the target, indicated by color coding and a velocity readout on the target.
The circle around the target indicates that a lock has been achieved. Time to achieve a lock on is a few seconds and we can safely assume that there will be factors that can change that such as equipment upgrades, radar signature sizes, and a few other factors that have yet to be revealed.
In a surprise move by Chris Roberts, blacking out is a thing in Star Citizen. If a pilot pulls too many G-Forces he will black out and lose control of his space craft temporarily. Blacking out happens in real life when a pilot pulls too many G-Forces and blood rushes from his head to other parts of his body, giving his brain less oxygen and causing it to go into a state of temporary unconsciousness. This can obviously be a very hairy situation when in a dogfight!
They said that Newtonian physics were going to be in the game and they are! A skilled pilot will be able to use them to give him a huge advantage over his enemies. Coasting backwards to engage a trailing bogey is just one of those tricks.
It is a bit hard to see, but in the bottom half of this image is the wreckage of Chris Robert’s Hornet that crashed into a floating man-made platform in space a little bit too hard. Crash damage is a thing, so watch where you are flying and I hope you have insurance!
In part of the final steps of getting ready for flight, a player’s pilot will put on a helmet and close the cockpit. The crowd later responded by chanting, “Helmet! Helmet! Helmet!” during the live stream last night.
The space craft design is bar none. Not only do they look great, but the components that look functional, are functional. The nozzles for attitude control and strafing were really cool to watch.
Locking onto a target allows the attacker to fire a missile and possibly get more accurate shots from the turrets onto said target.
Locking onto a target involves a few seconds of achieving the lock which is represented in the HUD by 3-dimensional “chunks” of the “lock ring” flying around the target circle in the HUD. In the image to the right you can see one of those chunks flying towards the target circle.
Players won’t be kept holed up in their space craft either. While it wasn’t shown in the preview and more than likely won’t be immediately available, functionality hinted at it being worked on already… That is the ability for pilots to get out of their space craft and do things like a space walk! In this image, the landing skids for the Hornet deployed so that Chris Roberts could land his ship on a landing platform in space. While he crashed and lost his ship, the effort did not go unnoticed!
The level and environment design was very immersive and really made me feel like players will be playing Star Citizen in a working futuristic universe. Everything seemed to have a purpose and a reason to be in the scenery.
The natural aspects of the environment were breathtaking. The dying star was something that was thrilling to look at between dodging laser shots of course! Here are a few more images of the environment and level design.