Star Citizen – Interview with Erin Roberts
Just after PAX East 2014 was over, I’ve been able to sit down and talk with Star Citizen‘s very own Erin Roberts. We discussed a variety of different topics in regards to Star Citizen, the upcoming space trading and combat simulator who’s been constantly breaking crowdfunding records for the past year or so. Enjoy!
- Q: To start, could you introduce yourself for me and the readers?
A: My name is Erin Roberts, and I’m the Studio Manager of Foundry 42, which is the studio that has the primary responsibility of Squadron 42, which is the wing-commander style, story-driven game in the Star Citizen universe.
- Q: For those who may not be familiar with Star Citizen, can you tell me about the main focus?
A: The overall game of Star Citizen is based in a huge persistent universe, where you can play any roll you want—whether you want to play as a trader or a pirate. Players will be able to explore this huge universe, discover different things, build up their reputations, and meet other people. So, the idea is that there is this huge universe that you will be a part of. Then, there’s Squadron 42, which is the military campaign that starts before the persistent universe.
- Q: Could you explain a bit more about the difference between Star Citizen and its campaign mode, Squadron 42?
A: In Squadron 42 you start in a military boot camp, and in the beginning there’s a huge attack from an alien race. So, as a player, you need to fight off this attack. This attack pushes players into the war between the UEE and the Vanduul, which is the alien race. You’re a part of a large fleet, and you go through this large plot storyline which takes you all the way through the game. Without giving away too many details, the idea is having us go for a more epic feel with a large story, and we’re pushing the fidelity of what we’re doing to the levels. So, we want this to be incredibly immersive for the players.
- Q: Now, players do have the option to skip the campaign mode entirely, and enter this online universe. Can you explain any sort of perks players may receive from participating in Squadron 42, as opposed to skipping through it?
A: Depending on what you do and how you play through the campaign will create certain perks for players in the persistent universe. So, depending on how you treat people in the campaign, whether or not you make friends with different people will affect the outcome in the persistent universe. For example, seeing where you rank by the end of the campaign can determine what money you can muster out to take with you to the persistent universe, and special items as well.
- Q: Knowing that both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 both take place in the UEE, what sort of characteristics does this empire hold? What can we expect to see?
A: A good analogy as to what the UEE is like, would be if you took a look at Ancient Rome, and how it was run. The UEE has these political central powers on Earth, which is similar to that of Rome. Then, they’ve got Terra, which is this new power that’s similar to how Constantinople was with the Eastern Empire. So the idea there is showing this rivalry between the UEE and this new power, Terra. Then there are the borderlands, which are these outland districts which have more bandits, and a more wild west sort of feel.
- Q: Now, going off of the citizenship focus in the game (where you have to earn it through your actions), are there any sort of in-game rewards or benefits can receive from completing these actions?
A: You can gain citizenship from completing the military campaign, or you can bypass the campaign altogether. As a citizen, you get certain rights above other people in the system, and you’re treated slightly differently. Some people, on the other hand, choose not to be citizens, and may want to be a pirate (or other titles). So, as a citizen, there are certain rules you’re expected to abide by within the game. Citizens have access to particular locations, acquire certain rights, and are able to participate in different events (such as voting, etc).
- Q: Now, a primary focus within the game is player interaction, where a player’s behavior is influenced by a ‘dynamic economy system’. Could you just elaborate a bit more on that?
A: So, there’s a number of ways the player behavior works. One of the things we’re trying to do in the stake of the game, is how you talk and communicate to people, and the way this affects how they react towards you. For instance, on a personal level, if you walk up to someone in a bar, and then decide to wander off mid-conversation, that person will get the impression that the conversation was not important to you—essentially reflecting on how they view you, and the AI will remember this. On a more dynamic level, if you travel to a mine, there’s a good chance you’ll find miners there, and whether or not you take part in the missions produced from this mine, can affect supply and demand. So, essentially, the player’s actions will be directly affecting the supply and demand, and the prices. So, we’re trying to bring focus on the fact that it’s not necessarily what players say, but it’s also what you do (including body language), which can affect that outcome of the situation.
- Q: You recently presented a dogfighting module at PAX East. For those who may not have viewed it, can you explain what it entails?
A: The dogfighting module allows players to fight against eachother, in a couple of different maps. Additionally, there are a number of different game modes, as well. Players will be able to fight against eachother one-on-one, or fight against one another on teams. But for the players who don’t want to fight cooperatively or against eachother online, there’s a game mode where players can fight just solely against AI, as well. So, we’ve tried to cover everything so that it may interest a vast variety of players.
- Q: Now, could you discuss the Oculus Rift support, and how exactly that will be incorporated into the game?
A: Well, movement is something that is always hard to capture, but when you’re looking around it works really well. It’s just when players move is when it becomes difficult. So, the Oculus Rift actually works really well in Star Citizen, because you sit in the cockpit for long periods of the game, and as you look around, you’re looking at where you want to shoot and travel to, and so forth. Overall, it works very well in that area of the game.
- Q: In your opinion, why should people be excited about Star Citizen?
A: What we’re trying to build, is a game that we’ve always wanted to build, but before the technology wasn’t there. Now, especially since we’re building it on the PC and specifically for the PC, we can go to a much higher level of detail, and get a much higher level of immersion. So, a big thing for us is to set out and create the best space game we’ve ever done. Basically because of the community, and the fact that the community is supporting us in that, keeps us motivated. The community just wants us to make this game the best ever, and it’s great to have that kind of support.
We don’t have any sort of fake goals, such as getting the game out just for meeting the deadline. So all of our conversations and meetings are completely based around how we can make this game the best we can. The fact that we have this wonderful support from the community who are so involved in this, it means we have a bunch of great feedback which makes the game even better. For me, it’s an opportunity for me to go back to my roots, in terms of creating this dream of a great game we’ve always wanted to create, and because of the support we can actually go and do that.
- Thank you for your time!