Cloud Imperium Games has released a massive update for the Star Citizen Alpha, containing the new FPS module Star Marine, flight balance changes, and frankly, quite a bit more to go through.
Star Citizen showed up in 2012 as a Kickstarter campaign led by the famed developer Chris Roberts; a goal of $500,000, and grand ambitions were all it gave to its backers. The campaign ended up raking in $2,134,374 by the end of it.
Today, the campaign is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the most crowdfunded game in the world, with almost $140 million contributed by the backers since its development began.
Star Citizen’s development started off much smaller in scope than it is today; with plans for a single player campaign and space ship based multiplayer a la Freelancer (also by Chris Roberts.)
As Star Citizen’s support grew and the budget (therefore ambitions) increased, the plans became bigger. The singleplayer was split into its own game, called Squadron 42; the episodic campaign includes A-list actors like Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, and many others.
A mere two months ago, Cloud Imperium Games showcased life-sized, fully explorable planets; developed after the studio acquired new talent from Crytek since Crytek was going through financial woes.
Since Cloud Imperium Games were already using CryEngine, the experience of ex-Crytek developers proved to be highly useful in accelerating the progress to achieve these massive ambitions.
The Alpha 2.6
As the game is entirely funded by backers and has no publishers invested in it; Cloud Imperium Games had to be incredibly transparent about the development process.
The game is, therefore, split into separate development modules that are available to play for the backers. The plan is to combine these modules when the game is nearing its final release.
Modules Updates of 2.6
The 2.6 Alpha update adds a module that has gone through many iterations; dubbed Star Marine, the first person shooter is the biggest addition in the new alpha update. The module comes with two maps – OP Station Demien and Echo Eleven – with the focus on being a tactical shooter. The maps also feature zero gravity areas for players to navigate and fight using their suit’s thrusters to maneuver around.
Next is a new game mode for the Arena Commander module, the game’s ship based combat simulator. Aptly named Pirate Swarm, players have to to survive against waves of pirates, attacking with increasing difficulty.
Finally, the Persistent Universe is the largest module Star Citizen offers; meant to be a glimpse of what the final game will be like. Giving players 100 sextillion kilometers of area to explore, with its many bases, stations, and missions. The 2.6 Alpha features seventeen known missions and an unannounced number of hidden missions that players may find by exploring.
Alpha 2.6 also adds four new ships to the rooster; completely ready to fly in the Persistent Universe module. They are the – Aegis Vanguard Hoplite, Drake Herald, Drake Caterpillar, And the Origin 85X.
With that, the game now features forty-eight ships and variants. Along with new ships, there are also changes to the flight model for these ships.
It was getting quite difficult to engage in fights against faster ships; Alpha 2.6 fixes that by re-balancing the handling and speed of all ships. This includes revamping the flight mechanics, with the cruise mode replacing the afterburner mechanic, for example.
Lastly, there’s a brand new third-person camera system allowing players to make cinematic shots, brand new animations, a brand new user interface, and much more.
In the end, there are just too many changes to list; if you would like to read everything that is new, here’s the complete changelog.
This is one change that needs a special mention. As said earlier, Cloud Imperium Games decided upon CryEngine to build Star Citizen and its singleplayer component Squadron 42 – CryEngine 3.4, to be exact.
Over the course of development, the developers modified much of CryEngine to fit the ambitious needs of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
Meanwhile, earlier this year Amazon licensed CryEngine from Crytek and modified it to add support for many of its services like AWS and Twitch; known as Lumberyard; the engine is also based on CryEngine 3.4.
With Alpha 2.6, Cloud Imperium Games has switched over from Crytek’s license to Amazon’s license; Star Citizen is now officially using Lumberyard.
This slight change does not mean much in terms of development, as the switch has already been made, without affecting the development time. CryEngine 3.4 is what both Amazon and Cloud Imperium Games were using, so the switch was likely quite simple to make.
However, this does mean that Alpha 2.6 is now using Amazon’s AWS services to host the multiplayer modules. Perhaps this change is a good thing, considering Crytek is in trouble once again.
Star Citizen’s single player segment – Squadron 42 is aiming for a release sometime next year; the completed, persistent multiplayer universe is to arrive at a later date.
Although separately these segments cost $45 each, a $60 bundle is available that includes both versions.
Star Citizen – the multiplayer game – gives backers the chance to choose between two starter ships; these ships are flyable in all of the game’s modules and will be how players travel the stars at the game’s release.
Additionally, players may contribute to further development of the game by buying extra ship packages in the store; however, keep in mind that these ships are entirely optional.
On release, Cloud Imperium Games plans to disable the ability to purchase ships; instead, players will be able to earn all ships in-game after release.