Who here has spent hours in the past week just staring at No Man’s Sky steam page? Well, I did and I can tell you that it started with a “Mostly negative” rating and then slowly moved up to a 53% approval rating of “Mixed”.
Current No Man’s Sky has about 22,000 downvotes and 25,000 upvotes. However, 17 out of the top 20 most “helpful reviews”, as rated by visitors to the page, were extremely negative. While the three positive ones asked other players to be patient enough with a small studio and not expect everything that was shown in earlier trailers of the game.
Now, we have a new game that is nearing its launch: Star Citizen.
How will Star Citizen give fans of space exploration games what No Man’s Sky didn’t?
Well, we’ll start off with a general comment about Star Citizen. As of now, Star Citizen looks to be far more complex and detailed space exploration/survival game than No Man’s Sky.
Judging by Star Citizen trailer and alpha gameplay footage, it seems to be a space exploration/fighting game where you’ll always work as a part of a team.
Your co-op partners might me millions of miles away in another star system fighting pirates and enduring harsh and alien planet atmospheres while you might be sitting at a lonely outpost on one of Star Citizen’s procedurally generated planets.
Cloud Imperium Games founder Chris Roberts recently said that the developers are working hard every day in order to fix the tiniest of bugs in the game.
Some might be turned off by the amount of attention to detail that Roberts gives to Star Citizen but as a lot of other media outlets have pointed out; To Roberts paying meticulous attention to the smallest of details in rather a necessity than something optional.
It is precisely because of this reason that Star Citizen, even though a massive open world space game, is built from the core with the concept that small things matter.
A bit like Steve Jobs who put his engineers through hell to make his devices look aesthetically pleasing from the inside even though less than 0.1% of Apple users would ever open their Apple machines.
Cloud Imperium Games’ Roberts also showed off Star Citizen Update 3.0 at Gamescom. The Update is being described as an expansion to Star Citizen. By now it should be clear that Star Citizen is not just a massive open world space game, it is a massive MMO (looking at you Sean Murray) that combines the core elements of first-person shooting, piracy, dogfighting, trading and interstellar travel.
Star Citizen is looking to follow the footsteps of recently launches infinite universe games such as Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky by building a seamless universe which has millions upon millions of planets and vast amounts of dark space between those planets.
Roberts currently has his team of developers working overtime to squash all bugs that might have crept into the game before his team livestreams the update.
Roberts told reporters at Gamescom that Cloud Imperium Games, as far as Star Citizen was concerned, wanted to create textures that allowed the players to have an emotional connection with each Star Citizen location. Roberts also added that he wanted some sort of history, a sense of place for each and every planet that Star Citizen generated for its users.
In other words, Roberts wanted Star Citizen’s details to matter to the end user so that the game becomes something more important than just another space MMO.
Star Citizen demo, which was shown during Gamescom, began with showing several locations from the game. It showed a bed aboard a space station, a ship which was docked at a bay several floor levels below and an outpost which was ambushed by pirates on a distant planet under a star-sprinkled sky.
And it is because of such diversity in locations and gameplay mechanics that one Cloud Imperium member could just be sitting at some random place staring at the sky while the other might be fighting for his/her life at some other place against an opposing team.
One team member could play the game as a first-person shooter while the next member could experience a flight simulator.
If that wasn’t enough then Star Citizen also offer deep role-playing elements as there are countless towns within the game where players can just wander without having to worry about getting killed.
Indeed, the scenario described above is exactly what Roberts showed off in a Star Citizen demo at Gamescom.
Of course, in real time all team members are sitting in a single room but within Star Citizen, they may be light years away from each other, all the while playing cooperatively.
The Star Citizen demo then moved forward when the players decided to meet up at a randomly selected location. The demo showed a player, we’ll just call him A so that it is easier to follow, consulting his smart watch.
Player A then sifted through numerous side quests and storylines to find a suitable mission. And there it is: the mission requires Player A to deliver some cargo to a mercenary on the space station Levski. The transaction seems to be of questionable legality but nevertheless, Player A accepts the task and hurries to Port Alazar’s docking bay.
Player A finds a second player at the docking bay: we’ll call this second player as Player B. The demo shows Player B who has a ship waiting in the hangar than can carry both Player A and Player B to another star system.
Both players board the spaceship and leave the current space station. The ship is then shown to fly through the vacuum of space. Player B adjusts the ship’s course with the help of his star map.
Player B then activates the quantum drive and the spaceship travels at a speed faster than light towards planet Delmar.
Both players can look forward to a job well done when they arrive at their destination.
During the demo, Roberts also told reporters that the ship was actually moving in the space shown. The demo also showed each player’s respective screens. Roberts further added that the demo didn’t just show in-game warps disguised by animations. “We’re not cheating here,” he said.
After some time, the demo showed the two players arriving at Delmar. Both players landed in Levski docking bay.
Player B stayed beside the ship while Player A was shown to head towards the saloon. Player A is then shown to have found the mercenary, who is presented as having trouble trying to grip a glass in his hand.
Player A is then shown to have learned the location of the “lost” cargo that he is supposed to pick up for the mercenary. Player A then pauses for a while in order to study his surroundings and observes several people having a conversation about a fallen hero afterwards,.
Roberts, at this point, adds that Star Citizen will give players a history and a sense of an actual place rather than a computer generated world devoid of any meaningful interaction.
The demo then showed a ship entering Player A’s view through the window that was present behind the statue. It was revealed that Player B grew restless waiting for Player A and decided to go for a joyride.
Then the demo shifted towards two new players; we’ll call these two players Players Cs.Player Cs were on a barren planet with rocky valleys. Then both started to fire assault rifles into a pirate hideout.
Alought Player Cs couldn’t see their enemies but a crosshair on the screen indicated that they were hitting something.
The desolate planet shown was one of the thousands which Cloud Imperium has created for Star Citizen.
And this is where comparisons must be made between Star Citizen and No Man’s Sky.
No Man’s Sky uses its clever super-top-secret code to procedurally generate new planets as a player travels through the vast spaces in its universe.
Star Citizen, on the other hand, uses procedural generation to create only the skeleton of particular planet’s before designers take over and fill in the smaller details.
Without a doubt, Star Citizen cannot compete with No Man’s Sky in terms of sheer number of planets. But who is to say that Star Citizen is even aiming for that goal?
Currently, Cloud Imperium has stated that the studio is aiming for around 100 solar systems which will contain, on average, five planets. Each planet will have its own moon.
Unlike No Man’s Sky, Roberts and his developer team are working hard to make each planet worth exploring and returning to in some future time.
Credit is given where due: No Man’s Sky is a dazzling technical achievement. Sean Murray’s team were able to procedurally generate about 18 quintillion planets.
But that gargantuan size of No Man’s Sky universe became the major point of controversy. Players complained about the lack of memorable places to visit as the main reason why No Man’s Sky couldn’t get better ratings from various critics.
Roberts says that Star Citizen will be much more than a really big MMO. The game will have side quests along with distinct landmarks, new characters and much more on each planet’s surface. He also said that Cloud Imperium was aiming for “Crysis-like visual fidelity” on each planet.
He then continued, “No Man’s Sky does a really cool thing with its planet-building tech, and it uses it well,But the coolest thing it does, to me, is that seamless transition between the planet and space. We’re aiming for that seamlessness, too. Once you exit the atmosphere, we want you already thinking about where you’ll head next.”
Player Cs continued their battle with the pirates for a few minutes but afterward as Player Cs were preparing to enter the pirates hideout, they looked up to the night sky and saw Player A and Player B entering the planet’s atmosphere.
Then the demo showed Player A emerging from the rear of the ship on a hoverboard that Player A had found at Levski.
Player B then told his team members, “We got in a dogfight with pirates on the way down.”
Roberts then compared the Star Citizen scene to one specific scene he saw in Star Wars. The demo then continued and Player A had manned a turret while Player B fired from his own mounted cannons.
Player A and Player B made quick work of the pirates that were left and then proceeded to join their co-op partners in their fight against the pirates.
The Star Citizen demo then showed Player A and Player Cs entering the complex, securing the cargo and then loading it on Player B’s spaceship.
The team members were then shown to have received payments through wrist-mounted computers.
If you didn’t notice by now, then know that two of the four players had traveled millions of in-game miles to get to the pirate hideout while the other two fought with their assault rifles and killed several pirates.
All of the action was actually part of a cooperative quest.
Roberts also told reporters that Star Citizen had been designed in such a way that exploring on its own could prove to be an enjoyable experience for players.
However, he further added that Cloud Imperium was looking to create something different, something that would allow players to have more to connect to in the game. “ That’s what we’re looking for.” he said.
Even though Star Citizen is being crowdsourced and is constantly undergoing updates, the final product seems to be on track to deliver what No Man’s Sky couldn;t.