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  • Writer's pictureSpace Tomato

Star Citizen| The Key To A Successful 2022

This piece is the corresponding blog post to one of Space Tomato’s exclusive videos, published twice a month for supporters on Patreon and YouTube. Sign up here if you’d like access to these videos as well as other benefits!

There’s never been a more important year for Star Citizen. 2021 set the stage. We saw the beginning of phase 4 which I introduced to the community last year in a video, we saw the introduction of dynamic events, proper consequences for our actions were a thing, and other systemic changes fell into place. Now hopefully 2022 can improve on the trend, delivering some missing entries from before, and providing features like the Gen 12 Renderer and the cargo refactor. But there’s another major segment of the game that I think will be the true test of success this year. This is the key to success for Star Citizen in 2022.

We Have The Features, But…

MMOs naturally are meant to be played with others. Star Citizen has always allowed for this, but in recent years there has been a clear push for players to depend on each other to progress. Not entirely, as the game is still meant to be played solo amongst others, but certainly the game has angled itself a bit more towards groups lately. Everything from crime stat removal to staying alive in a firefight now can depend heavily on the presence of another player. This won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Looking at the road map and progress tracker you’ll see items like refinery ships, ship-to-ship refueling, and resource management. All of these will require teamwork to stay alive and continue making profits.

And as excited as we are for these additions, along with new planets, new systems, new ships, and even long-sought-after professions like salvage, they only make up half of the equation. Sometimes you’ll get a feature, or a location, or something, and it’ll feel too early.

Take our little trolley carts. Did you know they are no longer in hangars? I know I didn’t, because they weren’t very useful, even the tech was very important. Tractor beams were useful on their own when first implemented, but they weren’t an incredibly valuable tool until they started having used. Transporting loot out of bunkers after the looting feature was added comes to mind. And so does Xenothreat.

Xenothreat was the introduction of events in Star Citizen. Large scale missions that allow for anybody in a server to help progress towards a goal. While some of this was combat-focused, a large part of it was about salvaging materials and returning them to a base. In fact, that was the main objective. And for many, this, Nine Tails Lockdown, and Jumptown 2.0, the 3 new events of 2021, were the best gaming experience they’ve ever had. There was a lot of fun and frustration to be had, but it became very clear players have been enjoying the sandbox, but are now ready for some more narrative.

The Center of 2022

Now….it’s not like CIG hasn’t tried to build more meaning and variety into the game already. Way back when we first started setting our ugly little feet down on moons, CIG was all about the mission givers. These are unique individuals with extra polish, a lot of backstory, and some cool mission chains. While there are quite a few in-game, and they currently work to some extent, they are pretty broken. This is, like most things, a sign of network health.

And while CIG is still building on the mission givers system and introducing new dynamic events, they need to double down on the fundamentals. Missions.

I know it sounds a bit simple, but hear me out. I believe the mission system is the key to a successful 2022. Not because we need more things to do, but we need more reasons to do them. And while rewarding players for their actions with in-game items solves that problem short term, creating new engaging content is sure to pay dividends down the line. Taking advantage of missions can allow CIG to start focusing on the new player experience, reinvigorating gameplay that needs testing, and diversifying play for old players. And it takes advantage of a huge pile of features CIG has been delivering for years. Let me show you.

While all the features, systems, locations, and updates to the game live on their own, it is the missions the game provides that bring all of the gameplay together in an enjoyable way. Given these features are dished out piecemeal, it’s hard to see the way the whole picture melds together.

Take, for example, the radar and scanning upgrades from last year which are, despite my prediction, nothing to write home about, but they are certainly a useful upgrade to the game. Take that feature and combine it with loot, and then add the cargo refactor and salvage gameplay, you suddenly have incredibly deep scenarios with multiple options as to how you approach. This could be a chance to get some extra goods since you were smart enough to scan for additional loot and bring a tractor beam.

Spawn closets themselves? Almost unnoteworthy, but we’ve already seen that in the most simple combat scenario, with the combination of loot the game begins to work wonders for players playing alone and together.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who heard players calling recent events the best gameplay they’ve experienced so far.

Giving players a reason to congregate and run activities alongside each other in the most basic scenarios has proven to wake the community up quite a bit, even in the face of the ever-present drama.

And this doesn’t even get started on the new player experience. While new players are not ingrained in this web, they need to be able to experience these things in order to become more deeply invested in the game. One of the first things a newcomer should be seeing after waking up on a planet should be a mission to gather supplies. Learn how the shops and buy/sell features work, check out new armors, and fiddle with your inventory. Give players a delivery to make to the orbital station so they can discover how to reach their ship and make a cargo delivery. Have them drive a delivery box out to an outpost so they can learn about the new planets, the NPCs who roam them, and the outpost system.

And then there is the reputation system, brand new as of the last year or so this system acts as the best monitor of player progression. Allowing for in-game benefits based on your in-game performance. It also allows for players to access new missions and activities based on what they’ve done regarding the concerned party, the local security force, a random drug dealer, and others. It’s an incredibly ambitious system even at its most basic level, but it may be the biggest foundational block in the whole mission system pyramid.

None of this is new, unique, or groundbreaking. In fact, I’m sure most of you are like…yeah Keenan. As I said CIG has already begun this process. I just believe if there was any time to do it, it would be this year.

When you look at all of these features, improvements, and systems that have been implemented into the game over the last several patches, it starts to become clear there needs to be something that brings it all together. And while I do think this is a possibility in 2022, I’m not sure it’s a guarantee. Let’s take a look at some of the developments that could help CIG expand on missions this year.

What We Know

The upcoming navigation mesh is something I really wish we knew more about. The current developmental status of the feature is pretty much unknown to the public. It has been mentioned here and there, and we’ve seen it in action with NPCs moving around on planet surfaces at CitizenCon, but the only other sign of its completion is the fact that tracked work on the website finished in September of 2021. I’m sure you can imagine how this might improve the mission outlook on planets with AI able to navigate around surfaces to different locations. Any mention of this in 2022 should definitely get your attention.

Reputation has already changed the way we experience the mission system, with new missions opening up to us based on our relationships. This can be expanded quite a bit with new factions coming in. With passenger transport missions, Pyro, and the possible improved performance of mission givers in the lineup, this could be another push for the overall mission system.

Quantum, is the underlying economy and population engine that runs the game. Through the use of quanta, it simulates all of the NPCs that outnumber players 9:1 and sets them on course for a job or task of some sort. This is the system that will create the derelict ship you need to explore, the pirate base you have to clear, or the cargo hauler in need of your help. Quantum generates the opportunities for these missions. And while it made some steps forward in 2021, it did not reach the intended goal for the year.

Hopeful 2022 proves to be better, and introduces more dynamic missions and encounters to the game.

The Pyro system is the headline addition of the year. It may not be the most important, but it’s certainly the most flashy. As one could imagine, an entirely new system holds many opportunities for new mission content. In fact, the mission set up for the new system is scheduled to finish current tasks fairly soon as of the release of this blog. But we know that doesn’t really mean too much, right?

Now the MobiGlass is a weird one to bring up here I know. But the fact that we’ve seen a new asset manager, a new Starmap is on the way, the new reputation app was added recently, and other apps are on the roadmap, I’m not giving up hope. Maybe we could see something with the Mobiglass that helps with this experience. That could be improved mission beacons, better objective tracking, or more. I think the Mobiglass could lend us a helping hand this year.

And then there are the new professions. Salvage, refueling, refining, hacking, personnel transport, there are a number of professions scheduled to be added this year. CIG can only go so long by adding new gameplay loops without supporting gameplay. I believe this year we may see a more diverse cast of missions specifically because of this stacking up of content being developed. There are plenty of signs of these features being developed in the background, but what will be really telling, is how they are applied to the mission system in 2022.

This brings up the elephant in the room, why have we not seen mining missions? Is it simply due to the state of the game and the servers not being able to host much more content, as seems to be the case with mission givers, or something more?

I personally couldn’t tell you, but I do think there are multiple factors that have led to mining missions not being able to be developed. All we can hope for is that those roadblocks have been surpassed and new mission types can be implemented.

And to tell you the truth, I don’t know what to say here. I’m optimistic, especially considering the lineup of game-changers we have scheduled for this year. But last year showed me that even a positive year has a lot of unforeseen bummers. The major systems I, and the folks at CIG, were expecting to see towards the end of 2021 did not produce. At the time of writing in January 2022, we have no real insight on the rest of the year, as the scheduling period has not ended. And the focus is mainly on Squadron 42 and the assets that can be used for it, which may include parts of the mission system, but will it be enough?

I’m hopeful CIG can meet the need for more driven content to break up the sandbox for new players and diversify the experience by bringing in new mission types as well. With reputation now a major part of the game and many different playstyles becoming popular, it’s time.

I hope you enjoyed this blog. While it was written for video, I wanted to give those who prefer reading an easy out. This will be happening with the majority of my video scripts, along with additional text posts throughout the month by me and other guest writers. Maybe by the end of the year, you’ll be reading about how server meshing has transformed Star Citizen, forever.

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