Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Star Citizen? Will it ever be? Fund-a-mentally finished?

yeah, I know, "Star Citizen has not even been released yet, it's not even in alpha," but this game that's been in crowd-funded production for four years looks like it's never going to be FUND-A-MENTALLY FINISHED to the point where the basic gaming world seems convincingly solid.

And I'm not talking about the gorgeous ship design. I'm not talking about all the effort that's gone into the art direction and planet-rendering star-rendering hyperspace-rendering surface-rendering facial-animation materials-technology tech. I'm not talking about the streaming space-to-ground system which is just superb. I'm not even talking about the player animation system, which just does its job. I'm not talking about Cry-Engine, nor the lovely shops where you can buy the black-n-gold Space Yeezy...

This ex-game developer of twelve years+ is talking about a basic gaming fund-a-mental -- DOORS.

Ref: the above petty video example which is just your basic 'correct animation running the wrong door size' issue. But doors are just basic gaming 1.01, surely? It gets worse, even in the heavily-anticipated Xmas 2016 release i.e. Star Citizen 3.0, when used by a non-coached private-sponsor videoing his own appraisal of all 36 ships, all doors are still a major issue. As you walk up to them, they click or glitch or just vanish; in the distance or in the foreground across the larger ships. You can get trapped in such doors. You can be thrown out into space if such a 'door' is an e-e or entry-elevator setup. Many a code-crash and space-ejection happens (in the S.C. 2.5 demos this reviewer has seen) as a direct result of this horrible and aging DOOR TECH.

As secondary proof of my claim, check out this even more recent video from a different All Ships Source where an Online Crew try to enter the larger ships and fly them as a team - door hilarity and general corridor tightness issues ensue. I'm convinced Star Citizen is gonna suffer from all these proximity in close quarters issues until it's all re-assessed and re-purposed for a true Sand Box Game, and not just some pseudo-single-player game outfitted with scripted NPCs. And don't start using the phrase, "Pre-alpha," at me. I know my stuff. I've actually made console games that had to work before release (Medievil, GhostMaster). No patches. Just worked, right out of the box, doors and all.

Doors are such a fund-a-mental gameplay issue in Star Citizen they need a massive re-overhaul; again, if not for the first time. Doors need intelligence, they need to know what you want from them, as you're progressing through the game world. Why are so many doors a USE issue, when they should be an approach-vector stimulated-timer 0-n seconds issue. Why does a door not just know it's you? Why does it not offer a LOCK option - like if you leave your ship in space for an EVA? Why do doors not know you're 'under fire' and might need to enter a ship at speed, or on the move the way they used to leap onto moving horses in Hollywood westerns? As you're always in your space suit in ships, are doors needed at all? These are the questions 'this reviewer' suspects might never have been asked.

And by 'doors' we also mean, "Getting into and out of the ship, under gravity," and we've all seen the Enter/Exit ship matrix-math-errors that were off-setting the animation's hands and feet from the ladder bars and retracting steps the artists had painstakingly made your player-character hold onto or align with. But this was 'fixed'... In the gaming industry, we call this a 'no one will ever notice' FUDGE. And it's not just the scripted under-gravity entry of ships - a major focus of the game seems to be EVA activity, whether you're jumping from ship to ship or spacewalking to fix some Comms Array. This ugly matrix-math global-to-local 'fudge' doesn't work as witnessed by the horrible crunching matrix reset when your character assumes the seated position or moves from his seated position.

HERE'S A CLUE: the camera matrix itself, in first or third person, already sets the basis for such doorsy local-global and global-local transition (or docking) issues. The camera must never glitch i.e. it should 'dictate' the transition G-L and/or L-G maths quandary this game repeatedly finds itself in... and by 'doors' were also talking about entrance and exit speed being retained. Copy camera matrix local, convert to Paste matrix global - it'll work every time. Take for example this comparative matrixial scenario where you're diving into Hyperspace mid-battle, running for your life, you'd expect your enter speed to be Ctrl-C'd then Ctrl-V'd as the exit speed from Hyperspace. This same tactic of 'doors on the fly' could allow you to perform surprise or sneak tactical attacks on known ship-enemies etc...
Fund-a-mentally, the actual laborious process of entering and exiting any ship (or wormhole) is just 'too old school' for today's kids who now have attention spans of nanoseconds and, "Might be running to their ship, escaping enemy fire, pirates, aliens, supernaturals..." to then have to go through the laborious process of climbing entry-exit stairs (or wormholes) at a snail's pace and positioning oneself carefully around or unravelling oneself from all the cockpit furniture, without the ship able to prep itself ready for your arrival under fire. You might even want your ship to be your 'gaming partner', ready and able to help you out in a tight scrape like a horse used to in th eold Westerns - when you whistle, it comes. And you can enter, at speed, under gravity or falling towards it. Currently, enter/exit (while one-person cinematic) is sandbox-wise just slow and cumbersome, and old.

"You'd be dead," in such a waiting world - your DOOR HAS KILLED YOU, again...

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