Gaming Features stub

PAX East 14: Exploring Star Citizen’s FPS Mechanics & Gameplay with Chris Roberts

Posted on April 14, 2014

At Star Citizen’s dogfighting module (DFM) unveil on Thursday night, Chairman & CEO of Cloud Imperium Games Chris Roberts showcased a pre-alpha build of the spaceflight combat mechanics and gameplay. The fan event exhibited a number of crashing and other show-inhibiting technical hurdles, but ultimately the game’s early build was well-received by the crowd and fans seemed to be understanding. The nature CIG’s transparent approach to game development brings with it some risk of visibility into a turbulent game-making process; the lead-up to a game's launch involves countless alpha builds of similar stability, it's just that we don't normally (as gamers) see the behind-the-scenes development.


We caught-up with Chris Roberts after the event for a brief run-n-gun interview to discuss his thoughts on the unveil. Since then, we spent Saturday morning with the Star Citizen visionary to answer community questions (from reddit) and talk FPS mechanics. Due to the sheer amount of content we walked away with -- as always is the case with Chris -- we'll be publishing two articles + two videos this week. The first is here; the next will be released on Saturday. This content will focus purely on FPS mechanics and gameplay within Star Citizen -- the article releasing on Saturday will be a pure Q&A format.

Let's get started. (A big thanks to /u/rolfski for FPS questions & thoughts).

Chris Roberts talks FPS Mechanics & Gameplay

(Unfortunately my mic was a bit quiet, but it was all for a good cause - we wanted to make sure Chris was fully-audible in the interview).

Just for Fun: Some Unedited Gameplay Footage of the Dogfighting Module

An Overview of FPS Design Elements in Star Citizen

The full video is about 15 minutes long, though I've edited in the questions (in text form) in the bottom left of the video. If you click through the video, keep eyes in the bottom left for the question we're presently discussing. That should help you locate answers you're most interested in. Alternatively, here's a convenient timeline:

TimeQuestionSummary of Answer
0:46How are you planning to deal with death, respawning, and lethality of weapons in FPS gameplay?Death won't be dealt with in traditional FPS fashion due to the realism element. Critical hits won't always kill -- there will be time to save downed infantry in a lot of cases by patching them up, at which point they'll need to go to a hospital for full recovery.
3:13How regularly do you see players engaging in firefights on foot?It depends on how you want to play. The game will be built so that you can avoid it most the time (like if you're a trader) or you can do it regularly (if you're a boarding pirate). Planet-side areas will feature FPS combat; some exploration and salvage missions are possible.
4:15Any plans for FPS simulation within Arena Commander?The team hasn't considered it yet. Arena Commander will be more focused on ship combat and "simulation" for training/learning.
5:22Have you thought about weapons classes yet?There are ballistic, energy weapons, pistols, shotguns, electric shotguns, grenade shotguns, rocket launchers. You'll be able to buy at weapons shops.
6:07Anything you can say about weapons & loadout customization? Ammo types?You'll be able to add laser sights, silencers, and other standard attachments. Lasers, plasma, ballistic (AP, caliber sizes), neutron, and other ammo types (crossbow bolts) will also be present.
7:21We talked previously about destroying systems within the ships while on foot...Bigger ships are spread out into engineering, helm, weapons, and so forth. Parts of the ship can be disabled or destroyed; there's a bit of a meta game between the captain and attackers as to which areas of the ship are shut down, vented, closed-off, and secured during the attack.
8:05I read that there are plans for magnetic boots...They're going to have magnetic boots, jetpacks, and other ways to interact with the environment when in zero-G.
8:20Any thoughts on armor for infantry?The heavier stuff is more sturdy and better for EVA, but won't be as light and you can't move as quickly -- they all have different pros/cons.
8:45Does planet-side gameplay work into FPS at all?There are definitely some planet-side areas for FPS gameplay. Star Citizen might feature PvE invasions planet-side.
9:25Will there be player-controlled regions on planets or asteroids?Not planets at the moment, but definitely asteroid bases, space stations, and things like that. Attacking and defending these bases will be a huge gameplay mechanic in the overarching struggle for power.
10:05What are the plans for infantry HUD?suits will have different HUDs. No suit means you'll be free-firing your weapon.
10:53What about sensors and radars for infantry?There are personal radars and sensors for infantry. Heat, reflective, EMF, and other types will all be featured for infantry -- just like the ships. A lot of shielding and probing methods will be available (counters).
11:41Sounds like a lot of back-and-forth between counters and 'counter-counters...'That's been a big focus in SC since the beginning and will continue to be one. They want to appeal to strategy and customization.
13:02Any population / player-count limiters right now?They're still testing. The team has tested with 11 people in DFM currently, but there's a lot of optimization that needs to happen.

If you follow Star Citizen closely, I'd strongly recommend watching the full video; the way Chris responds in interviews often results in several small bits of information being dropped within those answers, so a lot can be gleaned from even a more simplistic question.

Our next content will talk about "program creep" concerns (development bloat), the server back-end and infrastructure, Dx12 and Mantle support for Star Citizen, and gameplay questions from readers.

- Editorial / interview work: Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

- Video / film work: Paige "dino pillow" Spears.