The space sim Star Citizen isn't a finished game so much as it is a collection of promises and dreams held together by impressive tech demos and gameplay videos. Nowhere was this more on display than at last week's CitizenCon 2947, where developer Chris Roberts premiered another impressive feature of the unreleased game—procedurally generated cities that span entire planets.
For the uninitiated, Star Citizen is a crowdfunded video game, it's raised more than $160 million, and the brain child of Roberts—the man responsible for both the Wing Commander video games and the Wing Commander movie. The pitch is that it promises a completely explorable and interactive universe the likes of which the public has never seen. Roberts has promised everything from Gary Oldman to player-led colonization of distant planets.
So it was again last Friday night when he announced Star Citizen would include planet-spanning cities. Roberts stood in front of a crowd of fans and toured them through two different planets created for the game. One he compared to Blade Runner and Coruscant—the capital city of the pre-Empire Republic in the Star Wars universe. The other was a dustier, Fallout-style affair. Both were procedurally generated.
That hour of footage is incredible and falls in line with every other promise Roberts and his company Cloud Imperium Games have made over the past few years. According to the team, players can be a pirate, a smuggler, a serial killer, a bounty hunter, or a boring colonist. There'll be a single player campaign starring Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman, a system to map your face onto that of your avatar's, and customizable AI interface for each player's personal ship.
To its credit, Star Citizen updates keep coming. As of right now, players can enjoy early (but empty) versions of the open world universe, a hanger for their ships, and rudimentary first person shooter arena modes. It's a far cry from the game that's promised, but it's hardly vaporeware. The game and its promises look incredible, and the footage the team revealed this weekend are no exception.
But I still recommend remaining skeptical. This all sounds extremely cool, but from what we know about big budget video game development, what Star Citizen promises to do doesn't sound reasonably achievable. As always, these videos make Star Citizen look like it's going to be one of the most impressive video games ever made, or one of the most spectacular disasters.
Time will tell if Roberts and CIG can deliver on the big promises of Star Citizen. At this point, the trailers, dreams, and drama are more entertaining than any potential game ever could be.