The next big thing in the Star Citizen pipeline are cities the size of planets.
Chris Roberts and his Cloud Imperium team demonstrated them on Friday night during the CitizenCon 2947 livestream broadcast from Frankfurt, Germany.
What we see in the footage is the transformed ArcCorp planet and Area 18 hub Star Citizen players have seen in the social module before. But it's drastically different. The cityscape stretches as far as the eye can see, above and below, with towers spewing flame, and orange canyons steaming and glowing. People mill around, giving the city a sense of life and activity, and advertising boards and projections blink and beam. It is, as Chris Roberts honestly remarked, "very Blade Runner esque".
More importantly, he added: "There isn't really a skybox - everything is real."
He means is everything you see, you can get to - it's not painted on. The pilot in charge demonstrates this by flying out of Area 18 to another skyscraper cluster on the horizon, 25km away - Area 17. He then angles his spaceship - the reworked Aurora - up towards a space station orbiting the planet and flies there. After he lands he walks to the edge of the landing pad and looks back down upon the ArcCorp planet. Roberts remarked, "This is pretty much Coruscant," referencing the iconic city-planet of Star Wars.
From the space station, the pilot warps 23 million miles - eight minutes of uninterrupted warping - to Lorville, a lawless and ravaged planet. This is much more Fallout, much more post-apocalyptic, all dry and desolate, but it gives a good sense of the variety Cloud Imperium is aiming at.
The footage is narrated by Chris Roberts and also by the project's tech director, who explains how the team is filling planets with structures and meaningful things to do.
There's no date attached to the planet-sized cities - they are simply "beyond" 3.0, which of course is the next big build of Star Citizen currently being slowly and carefully rolled out. Roberts didn't offer any concrete dates or promises for the public rollout of 3.0. Fingers crossed for 2017.
After 3.0, Cloud Imperium is changing tack and moving to a date-driven, quarterly release schedule for major game builds. It means if content isn't finished it will be held for the next release rather than force a delay for the current release, as has been the case with 3.0.
Said Roberts: "Obviously it's been quite a while since we delivered the last major patch [2.6]. It's been ... 10 months or so and that's just too long to have a content drought for you guys ... everyone gets a bit bored and that's not very good."
A roadmap for the quarterly releases will be published this week. A roadmap for Squadron 42, the standalone, storied, single-player game, will be shared after the Holiday Livestream later in December.