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Star Citizen Creator Answers Fans Questions

For those waiting for the upcoming release of Star Citizen, an open-world, first-person shooter game in space that features a player-based economy, the anticipation of finding out just what this game has in store is like waiting for Christmas and your birthday all rolled into one.

Built on a modified CryEngine platform with built-in support for the Oculus Rift, Star Citizen is based in the 30th century where the United Empire of Earth (UEE), which is basically a futuristic Roman Empire, has branched across the Milky Way. Players must earn citizenship to the UEE through various activities and a player-based economy allows real players to barter items and build their fortunes through trade and plunder, a nice touch that hasn’t been seen since the early days of Runescape. Star Citizen will also feature a spin-off multiplayer-player co-op campaign game based in the same universe called Squadron 42.

To answer some of the most anticipated questions about Star Citizen (and Squadron 42), see the following paraphrased rendition of Chris Roberts’ 10 For the Chairman interview in which he answers questions directly from the fans. To see the original interview or transcript, head over to the Imperial News Network. Here’s our breakdown of what those answers mean for gameplay.

Q: Will Star Citizen have a realistic star system that displays the proper constellations depending on where you are?

A: Yes, eventually. Although it’s still in the works, there are plans to incorporate a sky sphere based on the Starmap module that can show players accurate star patterns and other heavenly bodies depending on where the player is in the game.

Q: Will Star Citizen require a large amount of bandwidth or a really high-speed Internet connection to play?

A: No, Star Citizen uses a rather unique technology called the Dead Reckoning System which basically only updates the server if something changes. If a player is flying a ship in a specific direction at a steady speed, for example, there’s no reason to keep updating the server about the ship’s position unless something changes. This technology reduces the strain on the end-user’s Internet connection.

Q: Will we be able to create custom characters either within the game or in an external program?

A: You’ll be able to create a custom character within the game by choosing pre-built variations like face type, hair type, eye color, etc. You won’t be able to create a truly custom character in an external program, though, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Q: Will we be able to play music mid-flight?

A: Yes, music will be playable, but it isn’t a high priority right now.

Q: Will Star Citizen have contextual actions depending on what you’re doing/what you’re looking at?

A: Yes, the “action message” will change depending on what you’re doing. If you look at a door, for example, it’ll say “Open Door” or “Close Door” depending on whether the door is currently open or closed instead of just “Use”. More elaborate contextual actions can be found throughout the game.

Driving to Success with Racing Games

Speeding around a racing track is something that really gets the adrenaline pumping and playing racing games online can give you that satisfaction without even having to move away from your computer. Many of these racing games let you customize and personalize your racing experience by allowing you to choose what car you would like to ride in and also earn and apply several upgrade to your vehicle. Indeed, many let you change gear and control the handbrake as well.

The likes of Rally for example gives you a challenging and ultimately rewarding experience on the rally track as you take control of your vehicle and attempt to manoeuvre a difficult course. Obstacles such as tree’s and other barriers are there for you to dodge and don’t think about trying to take a short cut because the end result will be a long time stuck in the mud.

If rally racing is not your thing then there are plenty of other racing games available. Freeway Fury takes a different approach to racing as you attempt to move in and out of freeway traffic while trying to pull off ridiculous stunts in the process. The better the stunt the more points and nitro you earn to make your vehicle go faster. One of the big advantages of this game is that you can actually onto the roof to earn more points while pulling off a manoeuvre.

These racing games online only require you to use your keyboard however fast fingers are a must as – especially in the case of Freeway Fury – you need to be quick to get out of the way of traffic. The good thing about online racing games is that you can find one that will suit you whether it is rally racing, street racing or just something for fun; online racing games cover all angles.

Want Lower Crime Rates? Play More Video Games

Yet another study on the mental effects of violent video games has revealed what game developers have been saying all along. Ever since video game consoles have become commonplace, and game titles became more violent, it seems that youth have become less likely to act on their impulses. Using information pulled directly from FBI statistics, there is a direct correlation between the increasing popularity of violent game titles and lower crime rates.

Some researchers have said that sexually explicit and violent video game titles prompt minors to attempt to recreate the images that they see, however, movies have always had questionable subject material. Some minors that commit violent acts will scapegoat the gaming industry. The same can be said for notorious music acts such as Marilyn Manson and Metallica. Even still, the proof really is in the pudding this time.

Since 1991, crimes committed by children under the age of 18 has decreased. At the same time, highly addicted drugs like crack cocaine became less popular. One could theorize that the war on drugs has been a success, but this wouldn’t explain why other drugs such as meth have become popular in more affluent communities. One thing is clear – children do not want to commit crimes simply because they play a violent video game, listen to rock or watch a scary movie. Lawmakers and scientists have long been blaming the gaming industry for particular offensive acts, but it seem like the juvenile offenders are actually getting their cues from somewhere else.

Game Genres

When it comes to the genres of games for console, handheld and computer platforms, there will always be dispute over which games are categorized where since this, much like music or film, is not an exact science. Understanding these genres, however, can help gamers find more of the titles they enjoy playing.

Action – Some consider the action game genre to be one of the most basic of all genres. It is the style of game that relies on quick thinking, fast reflexes and a strong survival instinct on the part of the player. From early titles like Pac Man right on up to the latest Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, action games have been able to gather huge fan bases. They may or may not have a deep story, but they always focus on the player’s decisions to keep their character alive. Fighting games, hack and slash, maze, platform and even pinball games all fall into this category in their own way. When the focus is on motion and responding to either the computer or another human opponent, the genre is action.

Shooter – In the past, shooter games would have been lumped in with action games, but due to the depth and diversity of these titles in today’s gaming market they are now considered their own genre. These types of games involve the player shooting at human controlled or computer opponents, usually as they work their way through levels or in an attempt to control a certain pre designated battle field. In this genre, the FPS (First Person Shooter) that began with Wolfenstein 3D on the computer, rules the roost. This is the type of game where a player looks through the eyes of their character while the go about shooting enemies such as in Call of Duty or Halo. There are also far less popular third person shooters where the camera follows the characters. Shoot ‘em up games differ in that they normally have waves of multiple opponents coming after a vehicle such as the ship in Space Invaders. Tactical shooters are heavily realistic play in any of the shooting sub genres that focus more on the simulation aspects of the shooting situation. Finally, there are light gun games such as Duck Hunt or Revolution X that use a specific type of gun which lets players point and shoot opponents on the screen. These days many shooters are immensely popular as massive multiplayer online games.

Adventure – Another hugely popular segment of the gaming world comes in the form of adventure games which typically send a hero character on a quest. They differ from role playing games in that the character is normally created specially for the game and the player has no real control over them. These games make use of a lot of interactive fiction and typically have very well developed worlds and specific plots which the character must work their way through, similar to if they were in a movie. There are all sorts of subgenres of adventure games ranging from visual novels to survival horror games such as Silent Hill or Siren. These games tend to have very strong cult fan bases online and cover all types of different adventure stories, often making use of many hidden Easter eggs for players to discover within the game along the way.

Construction/Management – These types of games are of the simulation variety and they usually involve managing mass groups of workers or populations as a whole. They may involve the building and maintaining of a city, airport, zoo, prison or other similar situation where the player must handle large quantities of resources and man power. Business, stock trading and political games all fall into this genre, as well. With the rise of mobile smart phones and social networking sites like Facebook, games of this type have become wildly popular and titles like Farmville and Cafe World have garnered huge numbers of players who compete as well as work cooperatively to obtain in game rewards. This is one of the fastest growing genres for computer and handheld games.

Life Simulation -  This is another emerging genre that has some deep roots in simulation titles. The Sims is one of the hottest in this group, but there are a huge number of other similar games where players will take control of a character, usually one they have created, and manage all of its needs while making life decisions for it along the way. This ability to manage the artificial life forms has become central to the games and now there are also digital pet raising games on nearly all gaming platforms. These games can be handheld such as a Tamagotchi or they can also be played online where the life forms are allowed to interact with one another or even be traded.

Role Playing – Role playing games (RPGs) are another very large genre of games that have become increasingly complex over the years. These make heavy use of fictional story lines and generally allow the player to create a custom character that has stats, abilities and traits which will affect what it can do in the RPG world. This genre encompasses many genres in common entertainment from horror to science fiction to fantasy and more. The key component of most RPGs is a huge fictional world created just for the game itself. Players will manage the resources of their characters, make decisions for them and often these games are played in a massively multiplayer online setting where they are referred to as MMORPGS.

Strategy – This genre includes and is primarily composed of games based on war fare. There are real time strategy (RTS) games as well as turn based strategy games. These games trace their roots back to board games like chess where out maneuvering and eventually defeating one’s opponent was the primary aim. There are varying levels of strategy games which may incorporate resource management, but many are simply tactical war games where players control armies or other combative units while struggling to dominate a game board.

Vehicle Simulation/Racing – Games involving cars, planes, trains, boats, motorcycles or other vehicles fall under this genre. Some of these games are highly realistic simulations of the real vehicles in the game with fine tuned physics, while others take a more arcade style approach. There are even games in which the player will pursue vehicular combat such as in a demolition derby in order to win.

Music/Party Games – These are fairly recent in their popularity and this genre consists of games like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution. These games are geared towards the players being able to either sing along or play the music in popular songs, but there are party games that are of a simple variety which do not focus on music and are primarily geared towards being easily accessible to a range of players who may not be average game enthusiasts. These generally fast paced and easy to play.

Puzzle Games – Games where players navigate through mazes or stack blocks, such as in Tetris, fall into this genre. These are generally abstract in nature and do not involve story lines.

Trivia, Board & Card Games – These types of games are simply translations of a popular card game such as poker or Magic: The Gathering to a video game format. Their purpose is simply to allow the players to take the game with them on a hand held system without needing others to play or to connect them over the web with other players who might not be nearby at the time.

Sports - Sports games are generally of the simulation variety that attempts to recreate the experience of playing on or managing a pro sports team. This genre has an enormous fan base and covers nearly every type of pro sport on the planet. 

Educational - Games in this genre are generally designed for children and marketed to parents. The core purpose of these games is education rather than entertainment, but many titles strive to do both. There is a lot of talk about this becoming a premiere way to educate students in the modern world who might do better at absorbing educational concepts by acting them out rather than simply observing them.

Exercise Games – These games have come into prominence with the arcade version of Dance Dance Revolution and also the arrival of the Nintendo Wii. There are games developed specifically to provide exercise for children or adults, but there are also games where the physical motion is simply a by product of the controller’s type and style.

Art/Experimental Games – This is a genre of games that are not as much designed for entertainment purposes alone, but to create a specific reaction from the player. This might be to the aesthetics of the game or through the story in the game. This is a nascent form of underground indie gaming that is looking to evolve the common form of video games much the same way that underground music or film attempts to advance their respective genres of entertainment.

Video Game Development

Long before a video game can be played on any console, hand held device or computer, it must go through a long and intensive process of creation that involves anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people. Each of the professionals involved in the development process of a game have a very specific set of skills that they bring to the creation task. So people involved in the process will work for just a single type of gaming platform such as the Nintendo Wii or in the field of PC games, but others pull duty on all sorts of different projects. There are certain people who will only work within certain genres such as sports games or first person shooters, as well. A variety of different aspects of games must be handled and these include art, software programming, script writing, sound recording and sometimes, language translation if the game was developed in one country before being ported to another nation.

The game business itself operates in a very specific type of way, for the most part. One might think of it as very similar to the way that the film or music industries work. As with other areas of the entertainment industry, in games there are publishers (like movie studios or record labels) and they work with development studios to create the games. Everything is very business oriented and contracts are drawn up to govern the way that the developers will be paid by the publishers for their work. The developers build the game and the publishers sell it to the masses. In a 3rd party development team arrangement, the studio making the game itself works closely with the game’s publishers to set milestones for the game’s progress. Both the studio and the publisher will have a say in how the game will be as a final product, but the publisher retains the ultimate control over the project, able to dispense with the development team if they do not get the job done fast enough according to the terms of the contract. Third party developers are paid royalties against the game’s future sales upfront and they use this money to pay their own employees. Many of these types of studios will seek to eventually be bought by the publisher to become an in house development team which is typically given more freedom throughout the development process.

Today there are also independent game studios and these are studios that develop games on their own without the financing of a large game publisher. For these teams, the work can often mean that their final product does not see the widespread distribution over consoles or the PC that it would if they were working with less control over their finished product. However, this appears to be changing as the web and mobile smart phones allow for a wholly new system of distribution that allows the independent developer to deliver their product straight into the hands of consumers. Games are able to take more of an art house approach using this method and create wholly unique styles of play and work with themes that would be considered too risky for the average game studio to attempt.

It should be noted that those who develop games have a very tough career that is filled with imagination, but also just as much sweat work. There are crunch times when they must work very hard to meet the milestones set for them by the publishers and try to get their game out on time. This can be extremely difficult to do and usually means there will be long hours to put in. The long hours and huge amounts of labor are not for everyone, but for those who have the passion no other segment of the entertainment industry will suffice.

History of Computer and Video Games

Despite what many think about how new video and computer games are, they actually have a history that stretches back to the very end of the 1940′s. Thanks to massive funding from the United States military, vast main frame computers were instructed to perform research and do other experimental tasks and scientists eventually got around to trying to see if they could make games on these big machines. Of course, these were far too expensive for any home use, but they did prove to be essential for the creating of the world’s first games. In the 50′s and 60′s universities would begin to get their own computers and these would allow students the chance to learn about programming and even create their own games. These were simple and very closely tied to the military concept, with games such as Space Wars focusing on the idea of shooting down missiles. These first very simple games would be developed further until the end of the 1960′s when big changes would happen.

As manufacturing of technology needed for video game and computer machines became much easier and cheaper to do, the very first stand up, coin operated video game machines would be provided. These arcade games were not easy for players to learn at first, but they did eventually take hold and soon there would be a rush of games that are now considered true classics. Such games as Asteroids and Space Invaders came out in the 1970′s and so did the Atari home gaming system. Atari, however, was not the first console system – that was the Magnavox Odyssey that proved the commercial viability of games for the home. As technology got better and less expensive to make, consumers began to be able to afford computers for their homes, as well. Radio Shack brought out the Tandy home computer and the Apple system became available. These are just two of the earliest home computers, but they got the foot in the door for the computer game industry, entertaining kids with simple games that were educational.

From here on out, things would heat up rapidly. The 1980′s would blast the arcade industry into the stratosphere and many would spring up all over the world, eating the quarters of adults and children alike. That however, only whet the appetites of the game playing public and spurred the growth of both the computer and video game console industries. The 80′s saw Atari become a mainstay in many homes and it also saw the birth of many new 8 bit gaming systems such as Sega’s and Nintendo’s entrants to the world of video game manufacturing. These cartridge based games would hold out for the decade and really change the way people thought of gaming. Then would come new computers that offered colors and more power than ever before for the home environment.

After the 80′s came to a close, games began to come out on CD Rom which allowed for much higher storage capacity. This CD format also came out for the computer. More data meant better sound and graphics so games really became complex in a fast way. This ended up choking the arcade industry which hit a severe decline and has never managed to recover. Arcade games would not be able to compete with the home gaming industry and so they faded quietly into the distance. The gaming industry, though, along with the computer gaming industry, quickly became the number one sector of entertainment world wide. Today, thanks to the internet and so many mobile devices along with the wide spread popularity of consoles and home computers – gaming is the largest sector of entertainment globally.

Video Game Classification

In the world of video and computer games there is a field of study known as game theory. The object of game theory is to attempt to understand games as their own unique form of entertainment, similar to the way that critics and audiences seek to understand film or music. This is a new and still developing field that has its roots in board and card games, so many of the ideas being put forth today will be fine tuned over the years until there comes to be a general global agreement on how to view video games. The classification of games in a system similar to taxonomy in science helps us understand more than ‘what they are about’ by defining what kind of gaming experience they provide.

Cooperative vs Non-Cooperative – This is a very obvious and easy to understand classification for games because they are simply either a game where players work together or one in which they do not. Even cooperative games can have elements of competition within them such as players being able to form and dissolve alliances within the span of play. Games that involve both of these forms of play are sometimes called hybrid games. The ever more popular online games involving multiple players are especially prone to being classified in this way.

Simulation – In these types of games there is an attempt to reproduce reality in varying levels of detail. Simulation games whether for consoles or computers are attempts at letting the player or players experience a virtually simulated reality. Instead of relying on drama or creating an entirely fictional set of rules, these games will often pull in real world economics, physics or other aspects that exist outside the game itself to offer players a point of reference that they can use when strategizing to win.

Non Zero Sum vs Zero Sum – This is a classification for games that goes back to the very earliest forms of games. The idea here is that if players are able to increase the resources available to them while playing the game, such as by growing things in the game world or taking things from other players or characters, then the game is a non zero sum game. If the players all have the same exact resources within the game, such as in chess, then the game is a zero sum game because there is zero benefit to any of the players no matter what strategy they use to try to win. Many games based on board or card games of old are zero sum type games.

Drama – Games such as adventure games or similar types of titles incorporate a level of play that extends beyond the basics of strategizing to win in a mathematical type way. In drama or narrative focused games, players still often strategize, but the focus is on the story rather than on the act of trying to gain odds over the other players or a computer opponent. These types of games have become increasingly more popular as technology has expanded to allow for further development in sound and graphics to create more film like stories. Role playing games are a prime example of a game that emphasizes story and narrative.

Of course, as strong as these classifications are today, there are many games which fall under multiple classifications as the medium tends to involve a range of separate types of play in any give game with the complexity today’s technology allows for.