Saturday, November 6, 2021

Cargo, Cargo, Oh Where Will it All Go?

 ~or “I Need a Bigger Storage Unit”

Whatta mess...

Physicalized Inventory... Making Virtual Stuff Real.

I love trading gameplay, but I didn't used to. One of the games Chris Roberts is best known for is Freelancer, a SciFi space based trading and combat game released in 2003. I never played Freelancer or any of the other titles CR produced or even worked on until Star Citizen.

I came to PC gaming through DOOM and Descent. The very definition of simplistic FPS gaming. Immediate gratification without complications like logistics and supply. Everything you needed simply lay all over the gameworld and once you knew where they spawned, you just ran over them and BOOM!, you had a BFG9000 with limitless ammo, BAM! you were Perfectly Healed, WHAM! you are teleported instantly hither and yon.

Logistics, mining, refining, manufacturing (crafting) and buying, selling and trading did not exist in those games and, TBH while I knew about Freelancer and such games and I was just not interested... at all. But I was wrong, it's not that I was not interested at all, it's just that the gameplay that existed back then for logistics... mining, refining, manufacturing and buying/selling/trading... was not at all interesting to me.

Even in EVE, I never got into manufacturing or trading. I tried it of course but found it deadly boring. I did get into PI (Planetary Interaction), the process of setting up automated mining, refining and manufacturing on planets, but that was because it was (1) enjoyable in that it was fiddly and rubbed some OCD part of my psyche but (2) mainly because it was, aside from hauling to market and selling, it was passive ISK, but that was all. It was logistics gameplay I could sorta deal with for the profit.

I played Elite Dangerous pretty much just for the joy of flying spaceships in a game where the flight mechanics are really damn good and the stations are realistic in size and more so in operation. EVE's stations and POSes are a joke in this regard. In ED I didn't like the fighting and mining gameplay, so I tried Rares Trading. And yes I did enjoy making credits but it was more just a reason to fly, still not a reason in itself.

Then I tried trading in Star Citizen. TBH I was thinking it would be a lot like trading in ED... until the first time I walked up to my ship and lowered the ramp and saw the stacked crates of actual virtual cargo... I nearly cried. It was fascinatingly beautiful to me.

A full cargo hold, so strangely satisfying...

Then I realized, it's not the game aspects I like about gaming so much, it's how close to reality gaming is now getting. I feel I have always been chasing that indefinable feeling of reality, of what we in SC call Immersion... the reality in the virtual.

I want exactly what Chris Roberts wants... what ALL of us who love what SC is now and what we hope and dream it will become. A true SciFi Space Based Virtual Reality, a Virtuality. Only Chris doesn't want to create an Oasis, or re-imagine the real world as Hogwarts or Arrakis or Reach or even The Shire... he wants to create a whole new 'verse where things are not all Quests & Magic or Fantasy Make-Believe... he is creating a 'verse grounded in science and well... reality. It's a very interesting form of escapism to leave one reality for another.

I also believe that the detractors, the naysayers, all those who hate Star Citizen, Chris Roberts, Cloud Imperium Games, and incidentally look down on those of us who love and support this game, they hate it because they don't have the same dream. They don't want a virtuality, they want just another “game” to play. They don't have the same passion we do for this project, well except when it come to hating on it, then they can get pretty passionate indeed.

As for me, I have that passion. I spent the last 2 weeks 30King (server crash) and Client Crashing and warping deep into planets, and exploding, or warping off into uncharted space and dying over and over and over. There have been multiple updates now to the Alpha 3.15 build on the PTU and finally, on Halloween night FFS, I was able to play a whole session and did not lose any ships, equipment or cargo and died only once, and that by my own hand... helmets, it turns out, are IMPORTANT in a vacuum.

An MSR full of Medical Supplies...  just wow.
Every time I died or 30K'ed or just glitched out I just smiled and logged right back in. Why? Because it's worth it to me. I understand and accept that I am taking part in the creation of a game that is fulfilling my dream of what a SciFi Space Based Virtuality can be. And I understand that this is the process that leads to the end product and I really like being a part of that. And a really fascinating and newly introduced mechanic in that process is...

Physicalized Loot... and Shoplifting

As part of the new Inventory system, CIG also kicked off the Loot Generation system that will spawn containers throughout the PU (crates/lockers/boxes) that will contain dynamically populated randomized loot. Stuff just lying around that you can steal... hey, just being honest... grand theft firearm, Crime Stat 1 anyone?

Anyhoo, I have been toiling away at the credit grind. Hauling Agricium around ArcCorp. I buy Agricium, and/or Titanium when the Agricium stocks run low, from Shubin SAL-2 on Lyria and sell at the Area18 TDD. It's decent income especially as it is a really short moon-n-back run. Plus I'll occasionally make a few Med Supply runs out to Jumptown on Yela. Yea, that Jumptown, the drug den that actually has “history” in Stanton.

On the ground at Jumptown with a hold full of Med Supplies

Look at us will you? The Game that is a Permanent Scam, this Game That Will Never Be, this Pre-Alpha Tech-Demo, already has Player Lore. And yup the genesis of that lore was a glitch, a software bug, but the interactions, the player experiences and stories that came out of that... are pure player lore.

Anyhoo, back to Looting. After I sell the Med Supplies, I check all the buildings for lootable crates and boxes. Hold “F” and sweep the area you are in. You don't have to be close, just close enough and the crates will “highlight”... as they do.

See it over there?  Hold “F” and sweep around to find lootable crates.

Go ahead, click on it... you know you want to...
Move close enough to get the “LOOT” pop-up... Now remember your Bad Guy Training, hunch over a little and glance around furtively while wringing your hands with evil sanitizer... you are about to steal stuff that just ain't yours. This is Shoplifting at best, and if the value of the purloined goods is over 1,000cr... man, that's outright grand theft.

The act of Looting opens your inventory. On the Right you see “External”, this is the Loot Crate. On the left I switch tabs to “Local” then I drag & drop everything in the crate over to my Local Inventory.
Loot All The Things from External to Local

I quickly check every building on the site and empty every crate and box into Local. Once I am back on my ship, I open the Inventory, select tabs for “Local” and “Vehicle” and move everything to Vehicle.

In for a penny as they say... I steal every thing from every box every time, even the low cost stuff because (1), most of that is free “food” and (2), Guns, weapons and ammo are useful and (3), I sell everything that can be sold because a credit is a credit is a credit, and they all add up.

Move all from Local to Vehicle... (one trip to Jumptown)
You can't sell the guns and accessories yet, but you can now sell the consumables listed above. I have so far only tested this at ArcCorp. There you sell your trade goods at the Trade & Development Division but the consumables have to be sold at the Trading Terminals in the lobby of the IO-North Tower in Area18.

Finally, stuff other than cargo that we can sell.
My only complaint is one born of the simple fact that you can't “create” a finished game, it has to go through stages from idea to finished product, it just fekkin' takes time. This is the first iteration, “T0”, of the Inventory system and so of course it is very rough, we need all kinds of details and actions added that we can perform with and to cargo and loot... but everything is rough when it's brand new, so meh.

I know they are working to add things like Right Click action menus for stacking, grouping and moving items. I expect we will be able to “pack” and “crate” goods and assets something along the lines of how we did in EVE. It just takes time and lots of effort and so far, IMHO, CIG is showing excellent results in the effort category. I am well pleased.

To Sum Up...

Physicalized Inventory is one more step deeper into a truly Immersive Virtuality. To make All The Things in the 'verse Real. Making all the objects that surround us and that we interact with into 3D models we can make, buy, use, store, enjoy, lose, etc., etc., etc. just like any real 3D object outside of your computer screen. The end effect is to make the game more and more Immersive and THAT is the Holy Grail Chris Roberts is seeking.

Are we there yet? Well, no. As you can see when we buy cargo, such as the crates of Agricium below, you do get them delivered to your ship (yes magically, for now), and when you sell them they are (again magically for now) offloaded when sold, but the crates themselves?

Well, yea they are still just placeholders at the moment, not actual crates with actual stuff inside... but it'sa Good Start and to get to The End you gotta Start somewhere.


Fly safe and...  can someone help me out of this?