Stick and Rudder: The best bits of Star Citizen's 24-hour livestream
byJef Reahard||June 30th 2013 at 10:00amJune 30th 2013 10:00 am
There are livestreams, and then there are livestreams, and Star Citizen's 24-hour marathon that concluded yesterday was a prime example of the latter. The event was crammed full of developer roundtables, celebrity cameos, and enough internet spaceship shenanigans to keep me watching for far longer than I originally intended.
Cloud Imperium revealed several new spacecraft, along with additional stretch goals that blew my mind, plenty of slickly produced videos, concept art, and more.
First things first, I have to confess to being exhausted after watching most of Cloud Imperium's antics, and I can only imagine how tired (and hung over) those responsible must be. I also have to say that at this point I'm more amped for Star Citizen than I've been for a video game in over 10 years. The last time I sat glued to my monitor like that, it was 2002 and I was devouring the Star Wars Galaxies beta forums as if my life depended on it.
Fanboyism aside, Cloud Imperium's livestream looked pretty successful from my vantage point. It occupied Twitch's top spot for a good portion of Friday afternoon, and Star Citizen picked up a few more crowdfunding dollars as a result. The overall fundraising tally, already the highest in history, eclipsed $11 million during the broadcast, and it's currently well over halfway to $12 million and the next stretch goal as of press time.
There's so much to talk about today that truthfully I doubt I'll be able to cover it all in a single column, so let's the hit some of my personal highlights.
The new website was really the first reveal, and while it certainly looks gorgeous, there were plenty of technical difficulties as SC fans hammered it early and often in a quest to migrate their old accounts and gobble up all the new info.
Cloud Imperium even added six additional web servers during the broadcast to help alleviate some of the load, and things have settled down since. Aside from the sleek new design -- and a new backend that is apparently less labor-intensive for the CI account management people -- there's the usual in-character bells and whistles including ship manufacturer logos and plenty of immersive descriptions of Roberts Space Industries and other Star Citizen companies. All of the old Comm-Link and Spectrum Dispatch entries made the jump, too, so if you're still needing to catch up on either gameplay or lore updates, they're all still here.
The first new gameplay reveal was the Avenger, a sleek little bounty hunter ship that looks quite different from the utilitarian military designs we've seen thus far. The Avenger will serve as the initial training vessel in SC's Squadron 42 single-player campaign, and it's the 14th pledge ship made available thus far.
You could almost hear the oohing and ahhing when the Idris Corvette was revealed during the livestream. It's the largest ship available for purchase to date, and it's a capital-class vessel capable of storing smaller fighters and supporting a player crew working in concert. The Idris was designed by Star Wars concept artist Ryan Church.
If I had to pick a favorite livestream reveal it would be the Starfarer Tanker. But Jef, that's pretty boring, bro; it's a tanker. Well, yes, yes it is indeed a tanker, and that's precisely what's so exciting about it. See, Cloud Imperium isn't just making a dogfighting sim, and thus there's a need for massive ships like the Starfarer to flesh out the game's spacefaring segments.
"It's one of the largest ships we've built for Star Citizen thus far," Cloud Imperium says, "and we think its inclusion gives you a good idea how much more complex the game is than something that focuses on fighters and bombers."
Star Citizen's hangar module will be our first chance to get some actual hands-on time with the game when it releases later this summer. Aside from a few screenshots and a quick behind-the-scenes vid earlier this year, we haven't heard too much about it. During the livestream, though, Cloud Imperium demystified it with this six-minute video hosted by technical artist Forrest Stephan.
Chris Roberts also talked about the hangar space at various points during the Friday portion of the livestream. He revealed that players will be able to personalize the space with various items obtainable via gameplay, and he also hinted at the existence of guild hangars.
Another of my favorite reveals was the Star Map demo. I spend way too much time goofing around with the galaxy map when I play the Mass Effect series, and I was hoping that Star Citizen would feature something similar. This early prototype, courtesy of technical designer Dan Tracy, doesn't represent final gameplay, but it does offer a glimpse of CI's intentions as far as in-game holotables and MobiGlass interfaces are concerned.
If you couldn't get enough of the Origin Jumpworks 300 series reveal last week, CI came through for you with a three-minute trailer showing off all of the line's variants in a sleek indoor setting. It doesn't feature any shiny human avatar goodness as does the previous trailer, but it's as close as you'll get to walking through a spaceship dealer's showroom until the full game comes out.
If that's not enough excitement for you, Chris Roberts also posted an extended director's cut of the original 300 series trailer as part of his game update letter.
Last but not least, I thoroughly enjoyed lead artist Mark Skelton's commentary on the nine-minute character art video. I've talked to several people outside of Star Citizen fandom who are watching the game with one eye and waiting to see whether it's going to be EVE Online with cockpits or something more substantial.
If you're in that boat, this clip makes for interesting viewing, if only to understand how much time and effort Cloud Imperium is putting into SC's human avatars. While the game's focus is certainly spaceflight, the game's avatars and their environments are anything but an EVE-style afterthought.
The stuff I listed above were just my favorite moments, too. I mean, the stream literally went on for a full day, and the CI team revealed something new about the game just about every hour on the hour. In spite of all the nifty reveals, though, the stream's best moments were when Roberts simply went off on tangents talking about all the delicious gameplay stuff that he has in mind. I was particularly keen to hear him discuss decompression and his desire to make being blown out of your ship a real possibility when it comes to space combat or boarding actions.
The stream's worst moments were, predictably, courtesy of the community. There was plenty of gawking at the female members of the Cloud Imperium staff by Twitch chat room users before the mods got things under control. Interestingly, the CI devs mentioned that their Google analytics data shows that 96 percent of Star Citizen's current fan community is male, so let's hope that changes prior to launch.
There were also some painfully awkward moments courtesy of CI's in-studio community guests, particularly one loudmouth who self-identified as a griefer and repeatedly interrupted Roberts as he tried to explain the game's PvP design, safe zones, and the like.
All in all, though, the good in this weekend's livestream far outweighed the bad, and if you've been on the fence as to whether or not Star Citizen is a game worth your time and money, you've now got a lot more information to help you make that decision.
Whether it's interviews with Chris Roberts and the Cloud Imperium team or tips and guides for pushing your ship's performance envelope, Stick and Rudder is your inside source for news and commentary on the world of Star Citizen. Join Jef Reahard every other week during the run-up to alpha, beta, and beyond.