Star Citizen - persistence and spawning - the existential debate
|tell the truth, man...|
Star Citizen, the (supposed) sandbox companion to the Squadron 42 story version of CIG's near-$200,000,000.00 crowd-funded space-flight planet-exloring privateer-empire endeavour, has a persistence element attached to it involving logouts and insurance and re-spawning and...
What does it really mean, this Persistence?
WARNING: this might seem picky (in the extreme) but it's not, it's a really valid argument about the difference between story-games and sandbox-games.
Let's go back to basics. In the Squadron 42 military-story variant, CIG can play it like a conventional narrative-driven product where re-spawning makes sense to 'keep the action flowing' after you die or your ship is destroyed. But they've never admitted to what spawning really means in a Persistence-Verse context. In fact, they've never even admitted that Star Citizen has anything to do with the Military Campaign in Squadron. It's like Star Citizen is completely stripped of the 'corporate-military' and is now a totally freelance or wild-west gaming pit.
But there are real (existential) problems from the get-go.
When you play Star Citizen, you're 'not alive in' and have 'not been born into' the 'Verse.
When you play Squadron 42, the narrative assumption is that you 'are a person of the military universe' within which the game is set. But when you play Star Cigtizen, you're a GAME PLAYER who's induging in a sandbox game. You're a 'generated entity' spawned by some all-encompassing Galactic Hyperspace Technology, a corporate drone runtime-generated by the 'verse-system to relate to some statistical databases or profit and loss. To someone else's running of the 'Verse... who is this name-shall-not-be-spoken Wizard of Oz character running your show?
Seriously, while this debate might seem usless to most players because YOU'RE A DIGITAL CHARACTER IN A VIRTUAL WORLD, think about it. I mean, "Really think about what playing in a virtual sandbox means..."
When you 'die in-game', you're re-spawned. It makes common sense to respawn in a story game, for the reasons mentioned above involving game-flow and narrative.
But in a sandbox game, what was I before this death-re-spawn? Was I 'originally' a re-spawn? Am I not me in my persistent universe? When did I start to be me, as my character? What does 'character' even mean when I can flip my identity via the interface whenever I want? How is the overt/covert dichotomy addressed with such flippant abuse of the term 'identity' in this 'Verse? And then there's the clothing, equipment, weapons, ammo spawning issue... I can swap out any of these parameters on the fly. But where are they coming from? When I swap out a ship at least I'm forced to go to a physical place to digital-generate such a craft (let's not talk about where the craft are stored, because they're not, they're built while you wait by some amazing atomic/cellular generation technology that's never addressed)...
At least the 'spawning of ships' is done 'on the quiet' while you're 'looking the other way'.
It's time to start being honest with the player, ffs. If one's assets are beamed-down from Hyperspace (or some sandbox game-generated else-where) why can't that technology be embedded into the Star Citizen gameplay? I'll tell you why, "Because that's not what Star Citizen i.e. the galactic sandbox, is supposed to be." So why are they embedding such contradictory obfuscation into their galactic sandbox? Check out Sitarow's youtube channel for 'creative ways to lay in a multi-player sandbox' for example, but it's not the multiplayer sandbox it could be. Not by converting from a story-game like Squadron, it's not.
COMMERCIALISE HYPERSPACE NOW is the only valid solution, within the remit of this asset-gaming model. When you change your hair, you're charged. And logged. When you change your ID at all, you're charged and logged. When you change any asset at all, you're charged; logged. Might seem stupid, but you're already charged for flying the ship via the fuel/wear-and-tear it incurs.
The other way is to look at what Sandbox Gaming actually means and allow the Player to be a Totally Real participant of the Verse. Invest in a total structural rewrite that'll promote REAL.SAND.BOX.GAME.PLAY where the parameters set up in this version of The Verse are able to be capitalised upon. Go back to interactive basics and make DOOR-based gaming just work. Make pickups just work. Make ladders work. Make interaction with 'the real world' of the sandpit work.
Have the SHIP be your gaming buddy, your side-kick, with a character that you can set up, who can help you traverse the economic bullpit of the 'Verse. Someone to share the dream with. Someone to educate you in the ways of the gamer-Verse. Then you'll be insta-embedded in the galactic sandpit, as the S42 player is insta-embedded in the story-Verse, ya know...