One of the bigger problems with MMO games of all genres has always been customization. What looks like a million customization options in the beginning ends up turning into one or two cookie cutter builds as the game progresses and it becomes clear that one build is vastly superior to the rest of the possible combinations due to game mechanics. Once this happens we realize that we’re stuck with hundreds or thousands of players playing the same character, wearing the same armor and carrying the same weapon as every other character of that type.
The problem has been getting worse over the years, which is completely backwards considering the leaps we’ve made in technology. That’s why I ruined a perfectly good pair of shorts when I read about the way Star Citizen will be handling ship customization.
This Is My Spaceship.
The folks over at Roberts Space Industries dropped a huge chunk of information on us a few days ago, wherein they discuss just how customizable the game and its ships will be. Let me tell you: there’s going to be some serious customization going on. Theory crafters are going to have a field day with this.
Ships are the heart of Star Citizen and your personal ship will be the heart of your Star Citizen experience. It will be your home, your mode of transportation, your line of defense against pirates, Vanduul raiders and the dangers of vacuum itself… and what’s more, it will be an expression of your personal style and gameplay preferences…when you build a ship, we want you to feel like that ship is yours; that it’s not just a carbon copy of every other Aurora or Freelancer that you encounter. You will have a sense of pride when you pilot your craft, knowing that while there may be many like it this one is your own, unique in the universe.
So there’s that. Uniquity. Difference. The knowledge that: This is my spaceship. There are many like it, but this one is mine! That, in and of itself, is sexy. We’re all going to be able to customize our ships in such a way that nobody else will likely be piloting a craft which is the same as ours. This begins the process of immersion; if we see ten Hornet fighters, we’re going to see ten different Hornet fighters, not one Hornet fighter, ten times.
With this alone, I was already pretty excited. Knowing that I would be able to customize my ship and make it look and feel like mine is a pretty major thing – and then I continued reading.
It seems that we’re going to be able to customize just about every imaginable facet of our ships. We will be able to change out the hull structure, armor, shield emitters in various patterns from a single bubble to individual quadrants, engines, thrusters, batteries, CPUs, avionics systems, weaponry, and more. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re allowed to select the color of the toilet paper we’re going to have in the second floor men’s head on the Bengal carrier.
So we’ll have the ability to upgrade all these things (I’ll provide a list later in the article), but what happens when everyone goes out and buys the upgrade? Then we’re right back where we started from, with all of the ships being the same, right?
That’s not to say every laser cannon is the same or every neutron gun is equivalent. There are going to be different grades of equipment. As in real life, some companies will provide very basic versions cheaply, while others will provide expertly designed and constructed versions that are harder to come by. You make the choice between the affordable, readily available SpaceMart laser that may break down more, generate more heat and be less efficient… or the hand-constructed German-engineered version from a master weapons builder that will set you back a stack of credits in return for an especially reliable, efficient gun. (And you don’t even want to know how the laser cannons built by Joker could end up working!)
So this is clearly telling us that we have a large number of purchasing options available for each of the ship’s systems we can upgrade. That’s great because each person can make those purchasing decisions based on their individual needs and budget. If you want to to be a merchant, you’re probably going to focus on defensive systems and the ability to get out of Dodge when the scat hits the spinner but if you want to be a pirate, you’re probably going to focus on heavy armor and heavier armament…a hard hitting intercpetor which can stop your prey before they can escape.
Now we’re talking!
Of course, RSI knows that not many players are super-hardcore and many don’t want to spend tons of time, resources and energy on figuring out what combinations of weapons, shields, armor and engines are going to work for them, so they’re also making the game perfectly playable for the layperson who just wants to hop in a ship, fly around and make some money trading crates of space mangoes.
We should also note that it is our intention to make all of this optional. The great challenge of game design is building something that is easy to pick up but difficult to master. You never NEED to drill down this deep to enjoy Star Citizen. If you’re itching to get out there and fight or explore or trade, grab a factory model, add the few parts that you absolutely need, and head for the stars…As with everything else in Star Citizen, choice is the watchword: you play how you want, and we just supply the tools.
What tools are they talking about? Head over to the next page to read more!