Star Citizen Arena Commander Launched!

The official Website for Star Citizen was updated with the following announcement:

Greetings Citizens!

We are very happy to finally share with you the first public build of Arena Commander!

The build we are releasing today is what we’re calling Version 0.8. You can download it by either updating your existing Hangar through the launcher or by accessing the Star Citizen Download page. V0.8 will give every qualified backer access to the Vanduul Swarm and Freeflight modes and includes the ability to fly the Aurora, 300i and Hornet. If you haven’t pledged for one of these ships, we’ll give you a loaner that is the closest in class to what you fly; we want everyone with Alpha access (or an Arena Commander pass) to get their first taste of spaceflight!

WARNING: the updated version of the Star Citizen launcher will replace the USER folder when it patches. If you have any saved screenshots or other content, please move them before downloading Arena Commander.

Arena Commander V0.8 also includes multiplayer functionality for the Battle Royale and Team modes. These modes will be available for a small number of players today. As we hunt down lag and synch issues and spin up servers, we will open these modes up to more and more players in the coming weeks.

Remember: V0.8 is just the beginning. It’s the start of a hard push for the development team as we head towards V0.9 and finally V1.0, at which point Arena Commander will be ‘feature complete’ with the modes, maps and options promised at PAX. By the time V1.0 drops, we aim for the entire community to have access to the multiplayer game modes!

As we move forward to Version 0.9, we will focus on adding the following improvements:

  • Improved client and multiplayer server stability
  • General performance optimizations and fixes for hardware specific issues discovered during community testing
  • Audio improvements with additional SFX, music, mix, and improvements to the dynamic music system
  • Improvements to the HUD to better differentiate the manufacturers, improve ITTS, and add mouse control functionality
  • Additional character animations to add immersion to the cockpit and resolve outstanding animation issues
  • Further flight model upgrades to better handle unique thruster power combinations and refine the control of each ship
  • Additional ship, weapon, item, and thruster tuning to improve the balance of Arena Commander based on community testing
  • New multiplayer game mode for public testing along with AI improvements and updates to Vanduul Swarm.
  • Hangar bug fixing along with enhanced visuals and animations.
  • Cockpit polish with improved damage effects and more dynamic lighting that responds to gameplay events and ship status.
  • Some additional weapons and items for use with Arena Commander.
  • Update player breathing sound effects and responses to incoming impulses and g-forces

Extras

I’m also excited to announce that we’ve created some special extras to go with Arena Commander. Click here to check out the Arena Commander manual, which teaches you how to play the game and gets you further into the Star Citizen ‘verse. There’s also a cool new trailer available below! And stay tuned: the manual and other content will be updated as the game evolves.

 

Testing Arena Commander

It’s been a longer wait than many of you would have liked, and the team and I share your impatience as we all wanted to have this in your hands a lot sooner. I can assure you though, it has not been from lack of effort or focus. A significant portion of our world-wide teams have been working around the clock to finish off the first set of features and get the build stabilized enough that we feel comfortable in releasing it to a wider testing pool.

I have heard the sentiment from portions of the community that indicate a desire to have the build in their hands sooner in order to help with testing efforts. The team and I appreciate the eagerness to help out, but I want to take a few minutes to explain why we have been following our present course.

Normally in game development you have staged testing. When you have a build that already has far more issues and instability than can be easily fixed, it’s inefficient to open it up for quality assurance testing as you consume a lot of extra management and team bandwidth sifting through the issues, many of which will already be known and be duplicates of previously reported issues, or issues the team just can’t get to because there are higher priority problems that have to be addressed first. Once the build becomes more stable and has most of the intended features in place, you then open it up to full QA to really hammer on it and find issues that aren’t immediately obvious or provide gameplay feedback now that the game isn’t crashing every five minutes.

Remember: you ARE our full QA department! Thus far, we’ve been testing Arena Commander with a team of seven dedicated QA testers (plus anyone else in the company with time to dogfight.) We’re releasing today because we feel the game is at a point where it’s stable enough to go out to a wider audience. That’s not because it’s done, but because it’s ready for testing on a bigger scale. There are still plenty of known issues we’re working and there are likely many you will discover that we haven’t seen yet. What you play today will crash, it will have slowdowns, installation issues and other problems.

You can help make sure we get this right by reporting your bugs on the forums. We’ve added two new bug reporting forums, one for the single player modes and one for multiplayer (visible only to users with access to those modes.) I’m including the list of known bugs at the bottom of this post so you know what we’re already tracking internally. These are the issues we know about but don’t consider big enough to block the release. We’re working to fix them right now, and then we need to know what you’re running into! Don’t just report crashes and animation errors, though; let us know in the general Arena Commander area what you think of the flight model, how you’d improve balance and so on. You’re helping to build this game!

Please post everything to the forums; the Customer Support team isn’t able to assist with Arena Commander bugs with you at this time (remember, this is pre-alpha!) We’re working on expanding this process, too: the team at Turbulent is building an external bug tracking system; in future builds, you’ll be able to submit bugs that will go right to the team instead of via the forums!

 

The Future of Open Development

Your part in testing Arena Commander is the heart of what I think makes the approach to how we are building Star Citizen so strong for the long term health and fun of the game. We are deliberately sharing the game at a much earlier stage than any traditional AAA game and also much earlier than a lot of other crowd funded games. We want to get aspects of the game, even if they only represent one facet, into the hands of the people who made this game possible in the first place. These builds are early enough that the feedback from people who love this genre so much they’ve been willing to put their money up way in advance of getting the finished product can be actioned on, allowing us to build a better, more stable game in the long run.

So I encourage you all to have patience and if there is something that you like or don’t like, voice your opinion on the forums. I can’t promise we will act on every comment but like all things with Star Citizen we actively listen to the community’s feedback, both positive and negative, and then act on the issues that resonate with us. You just don’t get this opportunity in the traditional publisher model when a Beta release is really a pre-release marketing ploy!

We are deliberately making our development process much more open and transparent. This is why we started the monthly reports from the numerous studios working on the game. There are now more than 250 people working on all aspects of the game of which Arena Commander is only one facet. The level of ambition with Star Citizen is unprecedented in the independent world and has only been made possible by your commitment and excitement. Not everything will go smoothly or on time, as a project of this size and complexity will always present unforeseen issues, which is why we have been endeavoring to share information with you that anyone in the traditional publishing model would not. The dates that we shared are a good example of this.

As soon as we had an internal target that we were hopeful of making, we shared it with you, with the caveat “if everything goes according to plan.” In ordinary development, such dates would never be shared with the public. Publishers take these dates from their teams and build in large lead times. And even then, unforeseen issues can still arise that cause further delays. But we view you, the community, as part of the team. We know how keen you are to get your hands on Arena Commander and so we’ve decided to share our current projections with you.

My question to you is: should we continue to do this? I’m given pause not by internal cricisim from frustrated backers who really just want to get into space (which we completely understand!) but by sensationalistic headlines that imply we’re not working hard or that the game is some sort of scam. I can assure you that the whole team is committed to making the best game possible, so it is disheartening when our attempts at transparency are used against us to paint a negative picture of this amazing project.

Since we’re a community driven game, I’m going to leave it up to you whether you want the same level of visibility with regards to dates (knowing that they are estimates and are subject to change) or would rather just be given hard, long-term dates like a publisher. If you choose the former, we’ll just have to put the word “TENTATIVE” in caps for the benefit of everyone that doesn’t follow the project as closely as all you. You can vote to decide in the poll below!

 

Take Off!

I hope you all enjoy Arena Commander V0.8. I’m very proud of what the team has achieved with all of their hard work. Despite being pre-alpha and a build that’s earlier than anything I’ve ever shared with the public before, I think it looks spectacular and that it’s a great foundation to build on. There will be many updates over the coming months adding features and content — We’re going to be adding in all the ships you pledged for… and plenty you haven’t seen yet. There will be new game modes, environments and equipment. We’re going to work on performance, stability and improve the technology: the loading screens you see today won’t be present in the finished game!

For now, though, enjoy your first taste of space combat in Star Citizen’s developing world; I look forward to hearing your feedback.

Together we will follow our collective dream: to build the BDSSE!

— Chris Roberts