Crewed ships in Star Citizen

Continuing the discussion from Gunnery challenges:

I’ll make the new thread :smile:

I was thrilled to see someone doing crewed ships, but seriously disappointed at the presentation in that video.

The players spent a lot of time navigating a series of corridors and passageways, then waiting for the gunnery console to do its Transformer thing, then watching the boot sequence for the gunnery software. It was way over the top. It makes a great cut scene, but it’s devoid of gameplay value other than to ensure that players understand it takes non-trivial time to move between crew stations (which is a good thing). I’m really not interested in watching canned animations more than once or twice.

For my money, I just want to click on a crew station and let the game go through its thing of getting my character there. If it’s my first time on a ship, then maybe I have to figure it out once. After that, it’s autopilot. I do not want to click USE, then wait for an animation, then move my character, then click USE, then wait for an animation, etc.

Once the action started, I had no idea what was happening. Oh, I saw the scans, the shots and the explosions, but at no point did the demo attempt to present crewed ships as anything but a bunch of players stuck in the same ship - which is how detractors of crewed ships think of them . There was no communication between the crew members, no coordination, nothing.

Contrast that with my go-to game - ARMA 3. When we run a tank, we prefer to crew with three guys; driver, gunner and commander (really an anti-infantry gunner). The crew has to keep their heads on a swivel to locate and engage targets (and only enemy targets). The driver is responsible for picking a good location for the tank, preferably hull-down. The gunner is responsible for engaging vehicles and the commander engages infantry. The driver does not have target acquisition aids, just the gunner and commander. So he has to rely on communication from those two to know what’s going on. At the same time, the gunner and commander get tunnel vision once the shooting starts because they’re focused on their targets, while the driver is looking around for obvious dangers nearby, new asymmetric threats (e.g. aircraft), or understanding what’s going on in the larger picture, etc. All three are constantly pushing to optimize their own responsibilties. For example, gunners call “Stop!” to the driver when they see a target, but the driver knows that the vehicle is in a vulnerable position and engaging right then and there would likely be a disaster. The commander’s gun has a much wider field of fire than the turret, so we use him to peek over ridges and such (the main gun cannot depress enough).

And on and on it goes. What to do when the tank is damaged. Run versus fight decisions. That’s proper crew structuring, where no single player is empowered to do everything. It requires teamwork.

Of course, the same pattern is used for good multiplayer even outside of crewed vehicles - players don’t have all the information and they can’t do everything, so they have to coordinate and negotiate to achieve a common goal. Crewed vehicles just require tighter coordination.

In my experience, it’s a different level of gaming. Teams get to know each other. How they work. What their weaknesses and strengths are. Who they work well with and who they do not. Again, this happens in any good multiplayer game, but in my experience that dance becomes much more intricate when crewing a single vehicle.

Crew isn’t for everyone. Some folks prefer to run entirely solo, without any teamwork at all. Others prefer to lead combat teams - but only lead. Others prefer to follow in combat teams. Others still prefer support roles that allow them to move freely around the battlefield. There are many preferences among players. I enjoy most all of them, but find the close teamwork of a crewed vehicle to be the most challenging, memorable and overall fun.


If anyone is wondering what video is being discussed here without having to go to pcgamer:

Having played several games where you need to move a real character around inside your ship during combat scenarios and otherwise, i balk at the idea of clicking something to auto run my character to a relevant console, it’s like asking to defeat the purpose of all that development time. Multi crew in SC is intended to be more than for your convenience in combat scenerios, there are a wide variety of non-combat professions to spend time inside your ship performing, in addition to the grabby hands and general character inventory and equipment nonsense and the repair system stuff there’s going to be more than just walking between canned animations. There would be a huge disconnect if there was suddenly some way to autowalk between ship consoles in the middile of fights, and also the interface for that would be a downright waste of space and absolutely slaughter any sense of immersion outright, imagine wearing an oculus and clicking a button just to have a character automatically run to the specific spot in a ship, or colliding with friends in hallways while you both afk walked around the ship. It’s such a waste of potential, im glad i can say with a high degree of certainty it’s not what they’ll be doing.

As for combat scenarios themselves, even on the local physics grid the character is “loose” and more subject to the various effects of ship combat than when he is seated at a station. This means if your gravity generator gets knocked out, there’s an explosion, a depressurization or the pilot takes a high g turn, you will be jostled, end up floating around inside or if you didnt have a helmet on, sent scrambling for oxygen. Also if a peice of shrapnel hits your leg, you will be limping as a result of the FPS’ mechanics. The developer’s intention isnt that you play a tank/spaceship, it’s that you play a person inside one. Also keep in mind that the multi crew ships shown in-game are on the low end of the multi crew scale, imagine actually implementing some kind of auto run system and interface for it in the bigger ships with a two dozen combined gun turrets, fighter bays, and command stations. Also ships can be boarded and captured, the last thing you want is to be on auto pilot when you run into an enemy. And i guess if it comes to it, you can fire out and gaps or hatches in your ship’s hull with an assault rifle. Gotta love those last ditch efforts.

Im not sure it makes sense to contrast a personal gameplay experience with a planned demo video. Your right that they didnt communicate in the demo as much as i would have liked, it’s funny because when they showed off their FPS gameplay 6 months ago they communicated too much. People made fun of them for it because it sounded cheesy and obviously wasnt well developed comm-speak that occurs after many hours are clocked in one of these style of games. From what i can say of what i’ve played of the alpha versions of SC including the basic multi crew stuff currently implemented in free flight, there will be a significant level of coordination between gunners, pilots, and engineers and support fighters mandated by a variety of factors. If it will match or surpass your experiences in tanks in arma, i cant really say with the current version. I get the feeling this demo was aimed at people who have already played and are familiar with both the UI and the gameplay mechanics of the escort fighters that were present.

Strawman. My objection is that I don’t derive any entertainment from driving my character around a ship and clicking on stuff to get to my destination. I don’t have any decisions to make. I don’t have any problems to solve. I have no challenges to overcome. Similarly, I didn’t find it entertaining in EVE Online to keep clicking and waiting when navigating multiple star systems. That experience was just rubbish. Let me fly the darned ship. Let me apply myself to travel. If you can’t do that, then just let me select a destination and I can go get a cup of coffee while I wait to get there. What I was seeing in that video was not gameplay but click and wait, which is a waste of my time.

You’re pulling my leg, right?

@JB The Idris frigate that flies over at the end of the demo is designed exactly for that kind of crew interaction. Missile loaders, systems management, etc etc which can then become a FPS shooter level if someone manages to board the ship :smiley: …and there are ships over 4x larger than the Idris (and up to 10x for the super dreadnought class)

This demo didn’t really give a good sense of how players would interact as a team, but it does show that their system works seamlessly between “zones” (ie. player to ship to other ship to building etc), and that will make things very easy for coordinated teams.

Oh. So this is where they put their money in.

I’m talking about models and CGI Movie Interfaces and Voices.

I have to agree that more player interaction will happen due to the situations just requiring it.
This trailer wasn’t made to show that tough. It looks more like a tech demo of having multiple player characters in close proximity and doing different tasks on a single ship. It could have been a video of showing how awesome working together could be, but they aren’t ready for that yet probably.

Hey, it’s exactly what I expected.

@JB: I think by now most of us know that, at the moment at least, RSI has only brought Cinema grade 3D Models, Animations and Computer Interfaces to acceptable Alpha levels yet. I guess they actually do work on gameplay and backend software, it just didn’t show up yet.
And no. You won’t be able to teleport to another station, you need to see the interior of your … 1200$ Spaceship … every time.

That is the essential point I was trying to make. What they did show was a lot of stuff that I consider fluff. That they show the fluff and skip what I consider to be the important gameplay inspired me to make my post. They aren’t helping the cause of crewed ships with videos like that.

Something else that I didn’t ask for. The game needs to retain movement through interior passages because first person character movement is integral to their gameplay.

However, there is no gameplay value in walking the corridors by hand, then clicking on the doors by hand, then watching the animations play out. No gameplay value. It is simply tedium, a grind. It only acquires gameplay value when something happens along the way that involves decision-making. Such as being boarded by a hostile. So autopiloting my character from one station to another is an obvious feature to include.

I say to my character “Go to turret 6” and off it goes. I can watch or not, as I prefer. It is effectively just another animation. It’s not implemented as such, but at a practical level, it has all the attributes of an animation. Except that it can be interrupted.

If I’m at base and we’re just loading up into our gunnery stations, I don’t worry about anyone boarding the ship and I go get a cup of coffee while my character walks through the ship.

If we’re in the middle of a fight and I’m rushing back and forth between engineering and gunnery whenever I’m needed, I might very well want to watch my character’s progress and even look around as I go to make sure that no hostiles are running loose on the ship. If I see anything untoward, I take control of my character wherever it is in its trip. I might even just change my mind and go to different destination, and the autopilot stuff would handle that. It’s just character pathing.


this will sound strange, but whether or not you derive entertainment from it doesnt matter in this case. They’ve set a bar for immersion that includes manually walking around inside your ship just as you would need to manually walk around in any video game where you have legs and need to choose which fixed destination to move to, and in this case the distances are pretty short. I think it’s unreasonable to be significantly annoyed by this considering the sub-coffee making level distances you will be walking and the numerous potential interface problems with having your character choosing a route around a spaceship to a selected destination. There will at least a minute degree of problem solving in minimizing your running time and also not accidentily running through any holes in your hull that have formed.

the bengal shown in the kickstarter trailer has around those many stations. There are far bigger ships than the bengal that we’ve seen thanks to a leak that happened earlier this year, we dont know if they will be crewable or what, but we know they have basic interior loadouts and are twice the length of the bengal.

Thats the promise of star citizen, we’re waiting to see how that promise will pan out at current.

Well I dont agree (or: I couldnt disagree more) the video blowed me off, found it awesome. They manage to render large scaled scenes (e.g. within the space station, the sizes of the station are awaesome), same for the scene within the asteroids. And thats within a multiplayer setting. Nice. You cannot compare that to ARMA. The scene size a game engine has to handle here are two completely different things.

Honestly, from a gameplay perspective with regards to the “cut-scenes”. I’d prefer to call them scripted player animation scenes, because from what CIG recently said, with regards to player animations, its not a fake cut scene that only you can see (is only rendered within the player cam), but is also visible to others, as they try to use only the same scene objects for all cameras. That said, I find it important that they do this, because what I hate about other Multiplayer games are those cutted movements where another player is in one frame outside his car for example, and the next time within.
Sure you can work around that by another animation, but I prefer, as the guys from CIG obvisously try, that “everyone sees the same”.

Besides that for me its an essential part of the game. Even if you’ve seen the system startup several time, or the interior of your ship, the essential part for me is: It takes time to go from one station to another (would do so in reallive too). It would totally destroy my immersiveness if I could skip from one ship station to another. So yeah, I want to really think within a combat when too leave my current station and walk to another, knowing it takes several seconds. I want other crew members see walk around while they do the same. And, when walking through the ship in a combat, I want to see outside actions through windows, see the ship taking damage here and there while walking. For me thats all essential part of the game.

Also, I havent that much seen that much scripted animations in the game. They often switch from one player perspective to another. Only that you see “use” in the scene doesnt mean there’s been an animation (you know this when you play arena commander). While leaving the ship, go through space, going into the next ship, the only “scripted” thing I saw was the door open. The rest was completely seamless. Same for all players getting into the ship. Only thing was the known cockpit boarding from arena commander and having the others seating in the back of the ship.

For me the most essential part of multicrew ships was shown detailed in the video: They managed the technical hurdle to be able to seamless allow for multiple players to leave one ship with its own interior local coordinate system, physics, move through space obviously with another coordinate system other than the ship interiors, rendering players and local and far away objects at once, and then entering the next ship with its own coordinates again, walking around within it and so on. All synchronized between players from a movement and render perspective. Same for combat, where you see the camera cuts between players. Actions seem to be well synchronized for its current development stage (which is tough for different coordinate systems in an engine and on such space game scales).
I think its essential that they make walking around an important part, you need this when adding further components like getting out to asteroids for mining, pirating other ships, exporation, or seamless switch to FPS Module.

Communication between players for example shouldnt be the no.1 part for their implementation right now. It can easily be integration, and is not the crucial part during development. They seem to focus on the tough things first, which they need for their vision on multicrew ships, and I think thats good, also that they focus on this in the video.

Seeing this video I think they are on a good way. And I thank them that they try to include immersion by adding very nice effects like the stuff like animations, system stuff in your GUI, etc etc. And making everything besides simple flying and shoot and essential part of the game, like walking around in the ship, leaving the ship, etc.

I meant that you were pulling my leg over the idea that the two things you mentioned would be problems. I look forward to seeing ships with many crew stations. I’m not sure I’d want to see a ship that needs 100 players to deploy effectively. My vision never extended beyond about 10 guys.

Well, if you want to get into a debate over visuals in ARMA 3 vs Star Citizen, I’ll take ARMA 3 any day. Well, for day missions. Night missions in ARMA 3 are just “green world” (night vision). Bland.

Yes, I get that. In contrast, it’s of almost no consequence to me. That’s why I can dislike manually moving through the ship, watching the same animations repeatedly and so forth. The only thing that I enjoy is the gameplay, and games have been fairly static in that regard for the last decade.

I just watched a YouTube review of Star Citizen gameplay and the guy played a clip where a crowd witnessed the player character putting on its helmet. Folks were screaming with delight. That’s something I simply don’t understand.


Multi-crew ships are a thing that sadly never quite got popular.

I think that people are missing a huge aspect of walking corridors - Boarding ships during combat. Luckily, there is a free stand alone mod out there that can give you a good taste of it called Angels Fall First: Planetstorm. It was part of the UDK showcase program and it offers multi crew ships and boarding mechanics. It’s certainly worth checking out, especially if you’re able to get enough people together to ditch the quite lacking ai. There is also a ut3 mod with the same name, that contains a lot more content, but it isn’t standalone so everyone would have to have a copy of ut3 :I

It’s a tad sad that I had to mention it, since they have yet to release the full game on steam -_-

The video is a bit dull, mainly because it really labours the walking through the ship part, showing several people getting into their chairs. Obviously any one player wouldn’t see all that.

There’s a lack of shown communication, sure, but no reason to think players wouldn’t be talking to each other and working together. That’s the whole point, right?

Also, as well as boarding and being boarded, there’s the possibility of having to go and fix something or rescue and injured crewmate. So the crew decides who’s the best person to go (because teamwork), and the trip could mean dealing with broken (or possibly more interesting - malfunctioning) gravity, depressurisation, electrical hazards, etc.

There’s a lot of scope for fun gameplay there if handled well.

Because a big part of the appeal that Star Citizen is trying to create is the idea that one does not play SC, but lives in it. It’s basically supposed to be Immersion: The Game, and meticulous attention to detail and replication of real life are what that crowd wants. That is the experience they desire.

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Well, if you want to get into a debate over visuals in ARMA 3 vs Star Citizen, I’ll take ARMA 3 any day. Well, for day missions. Night missions in ARMA 3 are just “green world” (night vision). Bland.

No, I was refering to the distances both engines have to handle for rendering (besides network synchronization and so forth), handling lets say a thousand square kilometers is simple not the same as what a space engine has to handle.

Yes, I get that. In contrast, it’s of almost no consequence to me.
That’s why I can dislike manually moving through the ship, watching the
same animations repeatedly and so forth. The only thing that I enjoy is
the gameplay, and games have been fairly static in that regard for the
last decade.

If you dont count everything besides sitting in a cockpit while being in a spaceship not to gameplay, and its of no consequence to you, then it looks SC wont be your game and you might have spent all your pledge-bucks wrong.
Luckily even more it seems to become my game (and something different to all the space games out there with all the possibilities they can add due all the ship movement (like CaptainRogers adds, rescue missions, fix anything and so on).

Until/unless CryEngine implements true 64 bit precision, SC is literally exactly the same as Arma 3 except with faster, better disguised, loading screens (thanks to less stuff in each level).

Oh absolutely, handling a thousand square km is not the same as what Space Engine or INE has to do, but it is mathematically identical to what the vast majority of space games do.

They have 64 bit precision implemented in starengine or whatever they’re calling SC’s version of cryengine, it’s not disguised loading screens. CIG ended up poaching a ton of the crytek developers when crytek was downsizing to help them expand the engine for this and other purposes.

I don’t believe anyone missed that. In fact, it was brought up.

I’m not arguing that walking corridors should be dropped. I’m arguing that I should get an autopilot so that I don’t have to do it when I don’t want to - which I expect to be “most of the time”.

Yes, that’s the whole point, which is why they should have included it in a video about crew gameplay. How do they implement communications? Do I use Teamspeak for the guys on my ship? Is there in-game chat? Is there a channel for my ship? For the gunners? For the fleet? For left handed libertarians? Do I rely on text chat? Are there buttons for audible calls on targets? How do we share information? Can I operate multiple turrets if somebody else disconnects? Are we getting intel from sensor crew members who have the big picture while we focus on shooting stuff up close?

Player coordination is the essence of crewed ships - not walking around the ship to get into a gunnery chair…

…except that players want the experience of being the character, so that’s apparently the aspect of crewed ships that they’re selling. I find selling a game on immersion to be as unfortunate as selling a game on graphics. It’s still not gameplay.

Yes, I understand that they want that. I don’t understand why they want that - as in the “cannot identify with” version of not understanding. Like not understanding why someone would buy a game based on the graphics. It’s not my cup of tea. It’s alien thinking.

What is the “approaching simulation bounds” thing all about? Is that literally just a simulation within the game for training purposes? I assumed it was a hard restriction related to 32 bit floats. Perhaps just a temporary one.

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its the map area limit for the various arena commander modes. Lore wise, arena commander is a simulator inside the star citizen world and will stick around as such when the final game is released, as a way to dogfight and test things conveniently without risking your assets

I dont think they plan to lift the boundary it in the current modes (but they did widen it significantly a few updates ago) because you cant very well have people/battles floating off into infinity in a battle royale or squadron battle game mode where you need people spawning in proximity. The idea seems to be that in AC 2.0 the multi crew game mode will take place in a larger play area, whether it will be big enough to benefit from the 64 bit precision idk, they might do solar system scale or they might just save that for the PU.

there are some dedicated small scout craft with advanced sensors, there’s also a target pinning system ingame but it’s not integrated in any teamwork sense yet, there will be people on consoles in ships playing the sensors and coordination game with the sensors console i bet. In the current mode you can use unmanned turrets but thats just for the small 2 seater fighter craft, i think they may replace anyone who disconnects with an NPC gunner temporarily.

The plan is in-game text chat and voice chat but as usual ts3/mumble will be better so people will just use that

(dumping what info i know about relevant to those questions)

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Yes it is. The game centers around the meticulous simulation of the experience of being an astronaut in a Standard Scifi Setting, just as Orbiter centers around the meticulous simulation of flying historical, modern, and near-future spacecraft around our solar system.

It was both an in-fiction “training sim” thing and a hard limit on the engine’s existing 32 bit capabilities. Any further and the pilot and cockpit started to wobble as can be seen in a few vids where people manage to escape the boundary.
The Gamescom demo was using the new 64 bit system which, according to them, can be up to around 8 billion km for each system.

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I’m going by an understanding of gameplay which happens to match the Wikipedia definition of the term.

Animations, cut scenes, music, graphics, VR gear, joysticks and many other things contribute to the overall entertainment value that a computer program can bring, but they are not gameplay. At no time did I intend to suggest that having animations of the character putting on its helmet wasn’t a form of entertainment.