Star Citizen’s Character & Ship Customization Explored with Chris Roberts

By Published September 03, 2014 at 12:34 am

Half of GN’s team is presently in Whistler Blackcomb as a refresher off the tail-end of PAX Prime 2014 (full event coverage here), but that hasn’t stopped us from pumping out content – including this Star Citizen piece. We recently published an interview discussing the research and implementation of procedural generation within Star Citizen, the stretch goal set about “$10 million ago,” so to speak.

Today’s content specifically explains customization within Star Citizen. We spoke with CIG CEO & Chairman Chris Roberts about character, ship, organization, and space station customization in Star Citizen, including ship tuning and painting. As a quick throw-in, we asked Roberts about adjusting or changing FOV in Star Citizen.

As always, here’s a quick table detailing everything:

Time Question Summary of Answer
0:30 What are the main aspects of the game that will allow customization? Allowing customization of appearance, male/female, clothing. CIG views the ship as a "character," and is allowing customization to reflect this. Even just the Hornet has 50 items plugged into it, each of which can be mechanically tuned and customized.

On the color side, the team is working on custom ship painting and decals. Organizations will also allow customization insofar as the hierarchies, emblems, and things of that nature.
3:57 How will ship painting be handled? CIG would like to allow very detailed painting of various panels on the ship. They're currently in graphics R&D due to resource concerns with 100 different ships / people in one spot. As a fallback, they'll allow primary / secondary covers with decals and liveries. Roberts would like to go further than that, though. Trying to avoid flying phallic objects.
6:40 How will character customization be handled? The plans for face / body type and other character customization are still being developed. Height, weight, and size are a concern with animations, but the team would like to allow some level of control over each.
8:11 How about the UI? Sliders vs. preset? In the process of R&D. Sliders are of interest, but presets are also possible. Roberts doesn't want to allow players to create "freakish-looking people" (characters who do not resemble humans). Sliders + presets are a possibility.
9:10 How will clothing be customized? Clothing will be bought from planet stores. Certain types of clothing could be relegated to specific areas and planets -- could drive economy for a cool bomber jacket from a unique region.
10:10 Plans for space station customization? CIG will have two levels of space stations -- those that can't be taken over and those that can be. Asteroid bases and the like could allow expanding capacity, rooms, chairs, beds, etc. Prototyping will happen with the hangar system.
11:32 What will the ship tuning UI look like? Still determining. Might be something similar to an overclocking software suite. Ship tuning might be treated in a similar fashion to a mini-game. Players will be able to OC, but risk destruction of components.
14:43 FOV tweaking? CIG is playing around with FOV. They're making it somewhat dynamic to ships and movement (narrow FOV as speed increases). Roberts isn't sure that CIG will allow slider manipulation of FOV due to competitive concerns.

Items of Note

There’s a lot discussed in the above video. It’s most immediately noteworthy that the team is still determining how the UI will handle customization. We asked about presets versus sliders for character face, body type, and size modifications, but Roberts emphasized that the team still isn’t sure the best way to develop that just yet.

Roberts did emphasize the importance of clothing and equipment, noting that players would be able to attain specialty clothes from various sections of the universe. A pre-interview example included a certain type of leather only being available on one planet, perhaps being used in stylish bomber jackets; that’d make the item highly valuable to crafters or merchants and adds prestige to a character.

Ship tuning was also discussed. Although the UI isn’t determined just yet, Roberts did indicate an interest in developing a sort of “mini-game” for ship tuning, miming the display of what would be seen in EVGA’s Precision overclocking utility. We’ve already known this for a few years now, but it was re-stated that some components will host a predetermined maximum overclock (generate a number, assign it to the chip – maybe it can OC to 130% of stock). It was also re-stated that these chips can be damaged or destroyed in the same fashion as one might experience with CPU overclocking.

In terms of ship customization, the current hope is to allow full, individual panel paint (Roberts mentioned APB as a source of inspiration) on the ships. There are resource and server concerns with this when loading one hundred ships – also giant, floating phallic object concerns (as Roberts stated) – so the team has a few fallback options. One such fallback consideration was a racing game-esque liveries and decals system, treating customization and design more like preset tweaking.

Finally, on the side of stations, it sounds like players can anticipate full interior design gameplay – including the placement of kitchens and objects of a more residential nature.

Check the video for full details on all of this. We’ve indicated the current question at the bottom of the video in case you’d like to skip around.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Last modified on September 03, 2014 at 12:34 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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