Nov 29

INNSide the November Town Hall with Tony Zurovec

For this month’s Subscriber’s Town Hall CIG gave the community over an hour of access to Star Citizen’s Director of Persistent Universe, and resident Hawkings-level genius, Tony Zurovec. During this time, we were able to ask Tony a bunch of questions with the help of Community Manager Tyler Witkin.

In this post, I will share some thoughts on the most interesting things Tony talked about. For a more detailed summary please see Canadian Syrup’s post over on /r/StarCitizen. Or, if you’d prefer to watch it yourself, here’s the YouTube video:

First of all, Who is Tony Zurovec?

For some members of the Star Citizen community, this may seem like a ridiculous question. However, as our population grows, it stands to reason that it will be helpful to provide some additional background on the key players and their history. If you already know who Tony is, skip this section.

Educated at the University of Texas at Austin, where he got his degree in Electrical Engineering, Tony Zurovec was one of Chris Robert’s earliest collaborators, long before before Star Citizen. He was a producer and director at Origin Systems, in the early 90’s, and stayed on with them after being acquired by Electronic Arts to lead the design and development of some original creations of his own. These included Crusader: No Remorse which was a highly innovative and award winning title for PC in the 90’s.

Later, Tony went on to Co-Found Digital Anvil with Chris Roberts and his brother Erin. After selling Digital Anvil to Microsoft Tony built a couple of companies on his own, creating games, and enterprise document management software. Eventually, his latest company Superluminal somehow successfully pivoted from being a game developer to a multi-million dollar private hedge-fund manager trading in complex derivatives with consistent and extraordinary profits.

Long story short, Tony Zurovec’s resume is what you’d come up with if you sat down and tried to list the attributes of the perfect person to design and build the following modules for Star System:

  • Economy
  • NPC AI
  • Mission system

The fact that Tony Zurovec and Chris Roberts already have an established working friendship and history of success together is just the icing on the cake.

No NPC Crew in 3.0 but Great Depth Awaits

First, the bad news. Tony confirmed today that there would be no NPC crew for hire by players in the Star Citizen 3.0 release. To be honest, we’re not surprised at all. First of all, I don’t believe anyone ever said it would be possible to hire NPC crew to fulfill positions on multi-crew ships in v3.0. When you consider the fact that we haven’t yet interacted with NPCs in any meaningful way as of v2.5, I am encouraged to learn NPC crew won’t be ready for v3.0 because it means they are giving such critical interactions the full attention they deserve.

On the other hand, Tony talked a lot about NPCs today, and I’m encouraged and excited to hear the depth they are considering. For example, Tony’s team is discussing the right ways to handle queuing for busy mission providers. He also talked about how to deal with situations where a player character ‘over-stays’ their welcome with NPCs.

He also shared interesting details about the depth of potential interactions with NPC’s outside of missions. These include basic greetings, NPC to NPC conversations, and reactions to player character behavior. For instance, if you were creating a ruckus in a planetside location with lots of NPCs they might move away from you, or whisper under their breath and look at you.

Quality will Drive the Playable Scope of Cities

Tony also shared more details on the playable sectors of cities we can visit on planets in the Star Citizen Universe. At the core of his philosophy is the idea that the player’s experience will be much better served with smaller, high-fidelity sections of cities to visit than larger, repetitive, low-fidelity areas.

Are we ever going to aim to do a gargantuan 20 square mile city? The answer to that is no, and the reason is that is a totally different type of game. -Tony Zurovec

For what it’s worth, I totally agree with this philosophy. There are only so many bars, clothing shops, or weapons stores and it doesn’t make sense just to keep repeating them over and over again. On that subject, Tony also talked about the notion of spreading out rarer items for purchase. In this way, there will be a sort of ‘game within the game’ to travel around the ‘Verse to find and procure the weapons and accessories you might want for your character.

Also, some cities will be big enough to have multiple zones to explore. I think it’s important to think about the scope of Star Citizen when considering the implications of limited zones within cities. If this were, say, Grand Theft Auto, where one city was basically 50% of the playable area in a city, I could understand how someone might be upset to learn that only 10% of the city was high enough fidelity to explore.

With Star Citizen, this is simply not the case. As we know there will be multiple cities on multiple planets and each city may have multiple zones to explore. Add that to non-city areas on planets and all the space stations and other things we can visit in space, and it adds up to a LOT of content.

So that’s what we found most interesting. What parts attracted your attention? Leave us a comment and don’t forget to sign up for the chance to Win a Drake Dragonfly in our drawing on Monday!

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