This post is a transcript of 10 for the Developers: Episode 01, material that is the intellectual property of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) and it’s subsidiaries. INN is a Star Citizen fansite and is not officially affiliated with CIG, but we reprint their materials with permission as a service to the community. INN edits our transcripts for the purpose of making the various show participants easier to understand in writing. Enjoy!
(0:56) Q: Are you planning to write any fiction to mirror the development process, such as eventually adding jump points?
A: It was something we’d talked about initially but we wanted the freedom to try stuff out without having to come up with in-fiction reasons why things changed. It might be something we do down the line when we’ve solidified the core mechanics.
(3:04) Q: Will ships get “belly cameras” to facilitate landings?
A: There is a challenge with how CryEngine handles picture-in-picture so longer term it is absolutely something we can explore. We might add it as a different view but it probably won’t be a panel on your dashboard showing a live feed.
(4:01)Q: Is it harder to concept aliens than Humans?
A: At first it can be a challenge but for Dave Haddock a character is a character and their culture/race will change how they see things or how they react.
(6:03)Q: Can we store weapons in our hangars?
A: Yes, though not decided how to represent this to the player as too many weapons all being rendered at once would cripple performance but the goal is definitely for you to be able to see weapons in some form in your hangar.
(7:31)Q: Will we ever get a starter ship like the Dragonfly?
A: Long term we absolutely want to have more starter ships than the three we are offering. For a “space motorcycle” there are some design considerations so that might take a little bit longer.
(8:53)Q: Are there any mysteries in the fiction to be unravelled in game on release?
A: We’ve thrown out a few threads, once the game is out the writing team will see which of those threads is picked up on but essentially yes.
(11:00)Q: If a player does enough of something will any NPC’s mention them by name? Will they become known for their actions?
A: Seeding your actions into their responses could possibly happen but trying to do it by character name is most likely going to be prohibitive.
(13:28)Q: Can Organisations own ships?
A: Organisations will definitely be able to loan ships out and have members on their vessels. As for owning ships directly the answer is still to be decided it may default to the Organisation owner.
(14:46)Q: Can we use alien tech on UEE ships?
A: Yes and different races and their manufacturers will have their own speciality.
(17:11)Q: Has the idea of releasing a deadly virus into the universe been considered?
A: At the high-level an uncontrollable viral outbreak is an insanely cool idea but we have to consider with it is just how destructive that is. Some sort of a viral incident is definitely something we want to explore but having something that could contaminate and infect the entire universe is less likely. It is something you could see on a smaller scale like a ship-wide event or a planet that needs quarantined.
10 for the Developers: Episode 01 – Transcript
Matt Sherman (MS): Hi everyone Technical Designer here at the LA office.
Dave Haddock (DH): I’m Dave Haddock, i’m the Lead Writer.
MS: And we’re here with Ten for the Developers. Many of you are familiar with our, Ten for the.. program like Chris Robert’s Ten for the Chairman. This is a new spin on it where we’re going to have a, for today a Designer and a Writer together and we’re going to go over how we have to collaborate and what that leads to with the rest of the game.
DH: We’ve been getting our questions from the subscribers, who if you’re not familiar are, contribute a little bit of extra money every month to allow us to do this community based content and keep you guys more informed about what’s going on.
MS: Yeah, thank you to all our subscribers and let’s get into all these questions.
(0:56) Dazc asks: Hi Dave, are you planning to write any fiction to mirror the development process. Such as being locked to Crusader, flying around Stanton and then finally when we get to jump to other systems. It would be interesting to hear that the system has been in lockdown due to pirate/Vanduul/spacial disturbances or that maintenance repairs /software updates to the jump gates have finally been completed.
DH: That was something we’d talked about, I remember in the early days with Area 18, the idea that you could go in stores but you couldn’t buy anything. We were like “do we want to create some reasoning behind it so the credit card machine are down or the CCB’s offline or something.” And then we kind of stopped talking about it. I think part of it was, particularly with the PTU that’s coming out, that we’re working on, large world, it was supposed to be mostly a test bed so we wanted to be able to try stuff and get it in the game and figure out what would become the PU would work ultimately. I think basically if we started adding fiction to it then we would have to come up with fiction as to why things changed and it just felt like it would probably be easier to just free ourselves from that and be able to iterate rapidly as new systems come online we can start incorporating them and stuff like that.
MS: Even from the design side, as great as those things would be, not having that overhead constraint really lets us make sure that the design and the gameplay can come through. But once we get the whole thing up and running and we’ve got the real PU all built out do you think think that’s something we can probably explore then/later?
DH: I feel like it probably will just because Chris likes packaging stuff in the fiction because it gives you a context that let’s you know the parameters of what you’re playing with. So I think it is definitely possible down the line. It seems like once we’ve solidified the foundation more, and the core mechanics, it will probably be more likely.
MS: Cool, cool.
(3:04) RamsonCole asks: I was wondering about the addition of belly cameras to the ships to facilitate landings. It’s awfully hard to land manually when you can’t see what’s below you. I know I could change my view, but that takes away from the immersion aspect for me.
MS: Definitely a great idea. One of the current challenges with that is just how CryEngine handles picture-in-picture so it may not be the most immediate thing but I can definitely see us almost adding a different view where it is than that belly camera landing view, because a lot of people do like the manual control, the manual feel and everything as opposed to the automated assist. So longer term it is absolutely something we can explore but probably won’t be something where you see a panel on your dashboard change to show …
DH: Like a live feed or something like that?
MS: Yeah. Most likely won’t take that shape but it’s absolutely something to look into.
DH: Yeah, particularly because I crash a lot.
(4:01) Superflytwo asks: How hard is it to concept and write about alien races as opposed to Humanity?
DH: That is a good question. It’s different, obviously once you get into the nuts and bolts of other civilisations and stuff like that, it’s always a little tricky. For me it was always the idea that these are still characters and though they maybe Xi’an or Banu or something like that and they come from a different society with different values and stuff like that they’re still in a sense characters in a narrative, they still have wants, they have needs, they have things they don’t like that and that stuff like that. Some of that might be coloured by the civilisation that they’re coming from but it’s still just looking at them as characters who are trying to complete a story. It’s always been how I look at it.
MS: Yeah and even also on just some of the gameplay side of that something to keep in mind is as, some of our races could possibly get pretty interesting although right now a lot of them have that humanoid form and lot of that is like, if you imagine an arachnid race the kind of crazy culture that would have to associate with it. A lot of extra moving parts
DH: I remember that’s been a popular topic in the ask a dev and stuff like that. You know like having six foot tall, six legged things. Is that, there was some worry about doing it internally, I don’t know what the deal is, is it feasible to do that? Is it much harder cause it’s a completely unique set of animation or design or?
MS: I need to check with Bender and Riggs on the animation side, but I would definitely say part of it because how an insectoid thing would walk, would move, would act would be much more based on that thing being an insect and not so much being a human, so to have a drastically non-humanoid race it does pose a few extra challenges there.
(6:03) Jmojo asks: Just saw the awesome videos and development about cargo. Some made me really, really happy. But, one question I have is: If we find we find a rare item on the scale as fully functioning parts to ships, weapons for a ship(bulldogs, missiles and a torpedo), hand guns, rifles and other items in that family tree. Will we be able to store them in the hangar(s) we own? Like have a corner of our hangar for weapon caches and tank full of rare ore or gas tucked away for a rainy day.
MS: Yeah absolutely. If you have salvaged or recovered an item off of a ship it would go right into your cargo hold and so the next time you land back in your hanger you can just unload that have that in storage and available for use. The ability to scavenge and recover those parts won’t always be a sure thing but it’s definitely something that if, you get a stockpile of “Ok, here’s some spare guns” throw them away a little bit more if you don’t want to keep paying repairs on their reconditioned stuff
DH: And so all the stuff would be physicalised in your hangar so it would be just like I hit a terminal up
MS: Hangar physicalisation I think is still being sorted because that could lead to something where if you’ve got a thousand guns, you got a thousand objects that the game has to update and keep rendering but some representation, even if it has to be created up, we should definitely be able to get some way where you can see the spoils of war.
(7:31) RufusUltra asks: Is there any chance to get a fourth starter ship like the Drake Dragonfly?
DH: I hope so. I love that idea. That was always one of my favourites. It’s not up to me but I think it would be amazing.
MS: Yeah, I mean it definitely has gotten a lot of community sentiment because the idea of the “space motorcycle” is really cool. Long term we absolutely want to have more starter ships in the game that just the current three that we are offering. But a lot of it is getting our other ships built out first, that we’ve already sold you. But I think we have been talking some of the concessions and design setup: “Okay, it’s the space motorcycle but do we have an open air pilot, exposed to the vacuum of space? Do we let him go into Quantum?”
DH: Yeah, it’s a very tricky thing because if it’s really small how big are these components because you’re heavily involved in the components process. A Quantum Drive is not a small thing.
MS: Yeah. It’s like “How small can it actually be? How exposed can it be?” But things like that, with starter ships in general, we’re definitely going to keep exploring stuff down the road but it may take a little bit longer before something like the Dragonfly could happen.
(8:53) Eschatos asks: “We’ve heard before that the dev team collaborates with the writing team to make sure the lore is reasonably in sync with the game mechanics, with some creative license in the fiction. Are you actively seeding clues in the lore that will lead to bigger mysteries or hint at secrets hidden for players to discover later? Is there room for the possibility that things hidden in the universe for explorers or other players to find might not be found for years, or not at all?
MS: For perceiving things in the lore, so this wouldn’t be so much a hidden mystery type thing to discover just how the first jump drive came about. That started in the fiction of; RSI had this malfunctioning Quantum Drive and from there they were able to use it to tap into jump technology and start travelling through these Jump Points. I remember a couple of months ago we were sitting down and we actually were going over it’s like “Ok are these two separate things or are they all in one?” and that was definitely a cool thing, of going through where it was taking the fiction that we have and making sure that the gameplay surrounding it all gels together
DH: Yeah and fuel and everything, how to, Quantum Drive vs Jump Drive use and fuels and stuff like that, which ultimately lead to the fuel docks and what different fuels you use and stuff like that. The second part of the question; are you actively seeking clues that will lead to a bigger mysteries? Yeah, I mean that’s always been sort of the thing. Theoretically ideally we are going to have a lot of narrative threads out there that we could pick up on or maybe no one sees and just nothing comes of it. Obviously once we start testing this out and see how it, exactly how hidden this stuff is, it’s nice to think people might not discover Jump Points for a while or then they, you know find them within twenty minutes!
(11:00) jlymdal asks: My question about the Narrative/Story in the PU is about playable characters inclusion in the universe. If a player manages enough of a specific task, such as exploration, trade, mining or any other job, will there be NPC’s that will mention the player character by name either as a reference or as part of a mission? Will players eventually be recognized by inhabitants of a system for their acts?
DH: That is a tough one! It’s been interesting because that’s one of the things that was really fascinating about Fallout 4 was I didn’t realise they had done the whole “name recording” thing and I had ended up picking a name the robot knew so it actually referred to me by name and it totally blew my mind. That being said it’s a really, really complicated technical thing to accomplish because invariably it feels like you have to do so many voice recordings and so many variables and stuff that people will always feel left out because you’re not going to get everyone’s name, it’s just not a feasible reality.
MS: But now more to a player’s actions I can definite see us getting something where, at least based on your reputation, you could have something where you’re the “Hero of the UEE” and when you are walking around people might, at least, act a little bit better towards you.
DH: Yeah, I guess it becomes a little bit more strategic. Or how we frame it. The classic example is you are the one who killed the Dread Pirate Roberts, you might be walking down the street someone might go “oh, that’s … they killed … that’s the one … that’s the guy/girl that killed Dread Pirate Roberts” because then you only have two options that you need to record or whatever. But then it feels like the universe is dynamically reacting to the stuff that you’ve done. So, yeah I think so. It’s definitely going to be seeded into the Reputation system and that’s one of the things that’s been a heavily discussed thing of late, of trying to figure out exactly how deep the Reputation system goes and how it works and stuff like that.
MS: So seeding your actions into their responses that can possibly happen but doing it by character name is going to, most likely, be a bit prohibitive.
(13:28) kris891 asks: Hey guys, will it be possible for organizations to actually have ships owned by the organization? This would be really good for organizations that are focused on the corporation style or syndicate style of playing. This way the organizations can be role played as a real business and the members will always have a feeling of contributing even if other members are offline.
MS: We’re definitely looking at some more expanded features and just gameplay for how organisations will interact with each other. I know for a long time we’ve been building that, at least some way that you can share ships within your organisation. The exact details on how that will structure out is still being sorted and whether or not you’ll have an organisation coffer or the organisation saying “Hey we need to buy an Idris everyone just chip into this pool” and that goes through, then be a little bit in the air because at a certain point someone needs to own something so it may just default to ownership of the organisation leader but the ability to share out and allow others to use your ships in a big group is definitely a big thing we want to deliver
DH: Digital keyring, you just dropped keys in a bowl!
(14:46) Grand-Admiral-Kern asks: Will alien tech sometimes be better than UEE tech?(Example: Banu- more efficient jump engines, jump scanners, BIG BAD WEAPONS to hang on the sides of our Hulls ;) Will alien tech be useable on UEE ships at the same level of effectiveness the equipment has on its native vessels?
DH: We’ve always sort of established a lot of the big alien races/civilizations are roughly around the same technological level just because it felt like if somebody had a, was far advanced than Humanity maybe they would just, if the Xi’an were just a super power basically compared to Humanity they would just wipe Humanity out, and just not be much of a war. That idea that everybody can hurt everybody was important. That being said each one will have things that we specialise in that they are better at. We’ve already sort of seen it with some of the Xi’an ships that they tend to do be vertical, they have fewer main thrusters, more maneuvering thrusters type of stuff, trying to give them different feels and flavours and stuff like that
MS: Even down to the nitty gritty of that like parts of the components, there can definitely be some things for you, Banu make and model, things like the scanner could have some different parameters that a UEE make and model scanner wouldn’t have favoured. It would always be a give and take, you’re going to equip either Banu or Xi’an tech for this purpose and wouldn’t so much be just a general always better type of thing
DH: Do you think as far as, can I take an RSI ship and put in a Banu scanner?
MS: I would definitely say so, that’s also why we did some of the component size standardisation so that we’ve got the housing and the box for, this is a volume of a small class power plant or a small class radar but what each individual race and manufacturer delivers for that could look very different while the functionality and that interfacing into the ship is still very much the same.
DH: Or it’s converted to do its thing
MS: Yeah. Adapter plates!
(17:11) Fallunlite asks: Has the idea of terminal illness or genuine disease been discussed? For example: Players happen to discover a shipwreck and they find some food stuffs/strange biological container and possibly try to eat the food or sell the container. They get sick, possibly only as carriers and then you know you have an in-verse pandemic. I’m curious if this simple add-in by developers would cause the entire verse to go nuts, both ‘government’ and player-forced euthanasia, extreme traffic control/blockades….that sort of thing. The point is that player psychology would be studied for decades by IRL teachers/students doing term papers…etc about how in-game players react to a pandemic, was there blood/did they handle it well, how different was it to a real scenario? So devs don’t even need to set up the government, let the players do the work and I bet dollars to donuts the publicity would go through the roof. I will leave you with this link of something similar that happened in World of Warcraft years ago albeit not intended.
MS: So this is actually an interesting story for both of us because, the link Fallunlite mentions at the end, at the time I was actually a customer support rep on World of Warcraft and you were mentioning that you were actually in-game when this was happening.
DH: I was playing. I logged in when this was happening.
MS: So just for a little bit of context the incident in question is what was described. So a virus got unleashed into a massive populous.
DH: It was a bug. There was a DOT.
MS: Yes, there was a debuff effect that was causing this virus and it wasn’t intended that it was going to wipe out the world but it did.
DH: Yeah the timer wouldn’t end. And it was contagious.
MS: Yeah, very contagious. So the high-level idea of this, where you do have this uncontrollable viral outbreak is an insanely cool high-level thing, but something to consider with it is just how destructive that is. In this example it even as it says here players-forced euthanasia or government-forced euthanasia. That was how that situation had to be contained. Entire player, well not player cities, but like main hubs …
MS … in the game had to be just wiped out, every living thing had to die! So to do that for the PU, having some sort of a viral incident: definitely want to explore that. Having it be something that could contaminate and infect the entire universe is a little less likely.
DH: And that’s a huge content shift.
MS: Because that would effectively be like “cool, let’s just eradicate Terra and everyone who lives on there”. And it’s not really the friendliest option.
DH: And also that becomes the story. You can’t do “I’m going to pick up three tonnes of iron ore and move it to Stanton because, oh my god, there’s a pandemic making people bleed on me”. It feels like everything else grinds to a halt. That was a thing like I mentioned: I logged in randomly while that event was going on and I spawned in Ogrimmar and there were just corpses everywhere, and I had no idea what was going on so I just took off because I saw bleeding people and just started running. So it’s a great narrative hook, no doubt, but it would be dangerous.
MS: The dangers of it are definitely there. Although even on a smaller scale like having a ship-wide event, that’s probably something you could see. So you’re doing some research on your Endeavour or other science type ship, and something goes wrong there, that could definitely be more of a case where it’s that same kind of fear and same kind of panic but in a much more controllable scale where billions of entities won’t have to die just to get things back to normal.
DH: There could even be a planet that needs to be quarantined because they have a thing but then again it feels like it’s a very guarded type thing where it’s like “oh well they need more resources to maintain this quarantine” then maybe you can have the narrative hook of “oh the quarantine starts to fail”. But again that feels more kind of a scripted thing rather than just creating a virus bug and just letting it go and run rampant.
MS: So it’s definitely something that we want to explore but it is making sure that we can explore it without being too punishing to everyone else who may not find viral outbreaks the most valuable use of their gaming hours.
DH: Alright, well that’s it.
MS: That has been this week’s 10 for the Developers. I really hope you guys enjoyed the new format. Sorry for any noise you may have heard in the background, we’re still getting settled here into the new Los Angeles office so there is a little bit of ongoing construction, but I hope all the answers were loud and clear and thank you again for contributing.
DH: Thank you.