With Star Citizen, though, and with the all-PvP-all-the-time crowd in particular, I'm constantly left wondering whether these people have bothered to research the game they're backing.
Given Star Citizen's absurd visual fidelity and the fact that each individual player ship contains dozens if not hundreds of user-configurable options and data points, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the instance upper limit shrink a little bit after Cloud Imperium gets a few thousand testers into alpha cockpits.
Similar tech will be used to allow players to set their preference for PvE or PvP encounters. So if a player who'd rather PvE decides to accept the aforementioned mission to transport goods, he'll set his PvP slider to the lowest possible value and -- if I've understood Roberts correctly -- he'll then have a very low probability of encountering player-controlled resistance during his mission. It's also worth noting here that SC will have a lot of PvP-free safe space, though whether PvP will be disallowed entirely or strongly discouraged is unclear. In either case, PvE vs. PvP probability will depend upon the mission's location relative to safe space or lawless regions.
Conversely, a player who prefers PvP can set her slider to the highest possible value and would then expect that any mission interference would come in the form of players introduced into the scenario via CIG's matchmaker magic. It's all pretty murky at the moment, but the takeaway is that CIG is making a concerted effort to allow PvE players to avoid PvP altogether and still affect the persistent universe.
That's not to say he can't make a PvP game, and certainly some of CIG's staffers have worked on them. But why would Roberts change his M.O. now, as he's working on what he's referred to as his dream title?
Especially omnipresent and repetitive death of the kind that happens in typical combat-lobby multiplayer games. It's not much of a leap to posit that pervasive PvP and the constant deaths that result from it aren't high on the list of wants for the Wing Commander crowd that gifted Roberts and company nearly $40 million.
Much like the PvP slider, the Death of a Spaceman mechanics sound like a good -- even great -- idea to make player death more immersive, but it remains to be seen how effective they'll be once the usual for-the-lulz crowd gets its hands on the game and attempts to reduce it down to the usual meaningless fragfest. Fortunately, I suspect Roberts isn't one of these roflcopter players, judging by the immersion-heavy design history that I mentioned earlier, so expecting Star Citizen to deviate from that in favor of no-holds-barred PvP is without justification.
But when I point-blank asked Roberts last summer whether Star Citizen was the immersive, full-featured sandbox that PvE fans who've grown out of open PvP are looking for, his answer was an unequivocal yes. He followed that up with a quote that you're probably familiar with if you've read this column in the past.
"Star Citizen doesn't shy away from PvP," he said, "but we're not building a game around it either."