CitizenCon 2015, the fan event dedicated to Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen, today opened with an emotional speech from VP of Marketing Sandi Gardiner. The team then moved on to an upbeat “How Did We Get Here?” video, showing the ramping progression of the Cloud Imperium Games teams and events. The studio is now a global icon within the games industry, employing 270 staff across its Austin, Santa Monica, London, Montreal, and Frankfurt offices.
CIG CEO Chris Roberts went on to disclose, deploying between-the-lines commentary on recent events, that the CIG team has only increased in development staff, including an increase from 260 to 270 staff in the past two months alone.
Introductory content aside, today's presentation swiftly moved to a focus on content reveals.
Our definitive coverage of the latest CitizenCon event, hosted by Cloud Imperium Games at the Manchester Airport, dives into the A-list cast for Squadron 42, multi-crew ship demonstrations, and underlying technology.
Our Recent Star Citizen Content
Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 & Multicrew
Star Citizen's 2.0 alpha release was fully detailed in the presentation. Among other additions, the following items are of immediate note:
- Functional buggies
- Functional respawn
- Increased players per instance
- Space flight
- EVA (zero-gravity transit)
- Social integration
- 38 playable missions
- Large World Technology: A playable area of one million km squared and 200k km high. For comparison, the biggest disclosed play area (found by CIG) is in Elder Scrolls II, which has 161,000 km squared of playable space. Controls will be in-place to ensure players don't “spend three hours at 0.2 speed of light” to get from one place to another.
- Multicrew Tech: Local grids in ship interiors enable dynamic gameplay based on a real physics and gravitational system.
- Zone-streaming system: Seamless gameplay over huge areas with no loading screens.
- Precision maneuvering: IFCS changes integrate precision mode to control maximum velocity for controlled landings or take-offs.
The first demonstration – a live play session – shows players in “FPS mode” navigating a large station, where functional multiplayer interaction allows multi-crew command of various ships. Ships discussed include the Hornet, Constellation, and Retaliator.
Players scan the region and find pirates nearby, commencing in multi-crew combat alongside a Hornet. Gunners are seen manning a turret as the pilot independently maneuvers the ship.
One of the players EVAs from his Hornet – a single-seat fighter – into an orbiting comms satellite with the goal of re-enabling it. The player pilots his floating character through the various tubes and pipes in the satellite, using in-suit propulsion to carefully travel through the corrdiors. The scene should feel familiar to Star Trek fans, who've undoubtedly seen Geordi crawl through various ventilation and access shafts within the Enterprise.
Squadron 42 Cast & Cinematic Singleplayer Experience
The biggest news of CitizenCon is its focus on Squadron 42, a critical aspect of the game that has remained relatively quiet.
Squadron 42 is the singleplayer accompaniment to Star Citizen, an open and persistent universe for single-, select-, or multi-player exploration and space simulation. The singleplayer game promises a grand campaign that aims to rival Hollywood production, an industry with which CIG's own Chris Roberts has extensive experience.
You'll find a few of the noteworthy actors below:
- Gary Oldman, known for his depiction of Commissioner Gordon in the Batman movies.
- Gillian Anderson, known for the X-Files. Plays Oldman's (“Admiral Bishop”) daughter in SQ42.
- Mark Hamill, known for his role as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies.
- Mark Strong, known for roles in Kingsman, Sherlock Holmes, & Imitation Game.
- John Rhys-Davies, played Sallah in Indiana Jones, played Gimli in Lord of the Rings.
- Liam Cunningham, playing Captain White.
These are just a few of the known cast members. See the rest below:
In our pre-show discussion with the Squadron 42 team, we learned that the game's voice actors were actively involved in the physicality of motion capture. Traditionally, games will hire voice actors to perform their lines in a studio, then use stand-in actors (with professional motion capture training) for the motion capture process. CIG decided to bring Oldman, Anderson, Hamil, Rhys-Davies, and the other actors to the Imaginarium motion capture studio, where the actors were able to – sans the numerous cameras worn by each – perform more traditionally in an in-person environment.
Our video coverage of the event includes some b-roll from the Imaginarium studios shoot, where Oldman, Anderson, Hamill, and other actors are seen in-character for the capture process. That coverage will go live within the first hour of this content's publication.
Gary Oldman provided some commentary on the production process, including his thoughts of dealing with Director Chris Roberts:
“It's like performing a scene in a movie, only instead of a film camera capturing it, it's the computer capturing it, and then you can put that person – that character – the director can go in and do a 360-degree shot, he can do a top-shot, a low-shot, he can push in for close-up. […] All those other many cameras and gizmos capture the physicality [of the performance].
“You are sort of handheld. You're led through it – Chris will lead you through it, because he really has immersed himself and created the world. […] What sets [Star Citizen & Squadron 42] apart from the other interactive games – and Chris articulates this better than me – what he wants is a relationship of the crew, of this world, [wherein] you could possibly get emotionally attached to certain people who may continue on in the game with you [or] may die in the battle. [It's] the same way you connect with a character in a movie, so it's really putting you, emotionally, inside the game.
“It was very nice to reconnect again with Mark Strong, who is a wonderful actor – he truly is a superb actor. Today I was working with Gillian Anderson, she was very charming.”
“The whole [Squadron 42] team – you've got those guys and girls at the computers, who are just completely and utterly immersed in and focused on this world. I've been treated very well, so it's been a really lovely experience. The crew and the people – everyone involved – it's been a really good experience.”
Admiral Bishop's Senate Speech, Performed by Gary Oldman
In the facial scanning technical video released to us and shown in the live CitizenCon demo, Content Technical Director Sean Tracy uses a scene in the UEE (United Empire of Earth) Senate to showcase the behind-the-scenes process. Oldman is seen performing an impassioned speech, delivered by Admiral Bishop, on the act of war with the Vanduul. That speech, in its unedited entirety, can be found below:
Additional coverage will be posted as we continue to dig through all of the materials and assets released to us for further analysis. We hope to explore, in greater depth, the process of capturing and building facial expressions within the Squadron 42 universe. Full gallery below for more images.
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- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.