Star Citizen can’t be done on current consoles

Monday, 5th November 2012 02:16 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Star Citizen creator Chris Roberts has said the space sim will always be a PC exclusive, because even next-generation hardware can’t live up to elite rigs.

Roberts told ArsTechnica that current consoles couldn’t even handle his proof-of-concept mock ups as seen in Star Citizen’s pitch video.

“You can do most of it on a next generation console, but I can promise you a top-end PC now is already more powerful than what a next generation console is going to be,” he added.

Roberts said console memory limits are the most limiting issue, but even if next-generation hardare packs in an amount of RAM comparable to curent PCs, Roberts is targeting gaming systems beyond that promise.

“I’m looking at the high-end [hardware] today being the ‘Normal Gamer’ level in two years time,” he said.

“It’ll be kind of like Wing Commander used to be. If you had the extra memory, if you had the 386, it was a better experience, but you could still play it on a 286.”

The Freelancer designer is also a bit leery of ports, which are an almost inevitable result of multi-platform releases.

“I have a high-end gaming rig, but I’ve also got all the consoles, and if someone is making a game for a console first, and it’s being ported to the PC, I’m always buying it for the console,” he noted.

“I don’t want a buggy port of a console game on my PC that doesn’t really show my PC off.”

Finally, Roberts said that he thinks there is a PC gaming audience that wants to use the power of their systems – like the way he wants to watch The Dark Knight Rises at an IMAX cinema as opposed to an his iPhone.

Star Citizen is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter and a self-hosted campaign; with two weeks remaining, it has raised over $3.8 million. With traditional investment, development will be backed to the tune of $10 million.




  1. Omelette

    That was a nice article before going to bed. Thank you Brenna.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    If you can’t work within confined restrains, that just makes you a bad designer.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. unacomn

    @2 If you have the option of not working within those confined constraints, and actually do what you want instead of what the system allows, that doesn’t make you a bad designer.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. GwynbleiddiuM

    @3 +1

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Edo

    @3 +2 and the game has raised around 2.775105 $ so far (kickstarter and crowdfunding combined).

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Old MacDonald

    2: Depends on how far what the system allows is from what you want to do.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. roadkill

    “Star Citizen can’t be done on current consoles” No s**t! :)

    @2 You are Loki 2.0. Same way of thinking but with decent spelling and grammar this time.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. TheWulf

    Ehhh. The truth lies somewhere between #2 and #3, as it always does.

    The truth of the matter, as I see it, is that it isn’t about restrictions. It’s about doing what indie developers do every day: You make the game you want to make. If you do that, and the waters aren’t poisoned by what you think will sell, then you’re a good designer.

    If this is all about graphical fidelity and ship porn, then #2 is right, because you don’t need that at all. In fact, you’re better off without fidelity. Why? Because when fidelity is removed you then have to look at artistic direction and try to present something that looks good without merely relying on massive textures.

    You can see there are games out there which rely on fidelity and it’s annoying because if you have any comprehension of creative talent then, really, they kind of look like shit. It’s because they look disjointed and they have no artistic focus. And if you have no art direction and no fidelity, then you have Diablo III. (Sorry Blizzard.)

    So where does that leave us?

    The realisation that a computer can do more than graphical fidelity is a good and helpful place to start. That’s what #2 isn’t thinking about, I think, and this is a good place for a discussion to begin. We know that AI in console games is a joke, but this is due to limited processing power more than anything else. It’s not the fault of the people who develop for consoles, it’s to do with the inherently limited hardware.

    What you have to look at is that consoles, in some respects, are running on hardware which is at least seven years old. But other parts? Other parts are running on what’s essentially 10-15 years old. It’s a worrying state of affairs, because they believe that’s all you need. In regards to actual processing power, there are some tablets that can easily outpace the PS3, the 360, and the Wii-U.

    No, console fans, I’m not saying this to upset you. I’m saying it because it’s true. In some mobile devices you can have a processor which is almost on par with an i5. The processing power found in the PS3/360 doesn’t even come close to the old single core processors of yore.

    Therefore you can do things with the processing power of a computer that simply isn’t possible with a console. You can create a more living world. You can create more genuinely intelligent AI. You can toy around with giving the game some sort of simulated genetic underbelly which allows for all sorts of curious shenanigans. Creatures, as old as it is, would be hard for a console to run.

    What’s Creatures? It’s a game that does just that – it plays with simulated genetics. I’ll leave Googling ‘Creature Labs’ to you. Look it up on Youtube and see for yourself how impressive it is.

    Then you have games like Guild Wars and Champions Online which do exhibit advanced AI. One thing to keep in mind is that Guild Wars was released in ’05, only a year after World of Warcraft. Now, let me have a look at what those games do with AI.

    - People attack in packs. Packs are designed to compliment each other.
    - In a pack, you have healers. The healers remain at the back.
    - The melee characters are always on the front-lines and will try to stop you getting past them. In Guild Wars and CO you have something called ‘body blocking’ which prevents you from getting past a foe.
    - Ranged foes of the pack will try to snipe and use debuffs to draw you away and allow you to be singled out from your own group.
    - Considering the above, the AI can flank you by drawing you out with ranged attacks then having the melee coming up behind you and boxing you in with body-blocking.
    - If a foe sees that their team is losing, they may run off and acquire further help from allied forces. Creatures which are of the same type as them.
    - In these games, if forces aren’t allied, you might even see them fighting each other.

    Consider in a game like Gothic III you have a fully simulated ecology. You can watch packs of wolves chase down prey animals, take them down, and eat them. You can see them get irritable when a boar come into what’s defined as ‘their territory,’ which results in them chasing the boar off. These are the sorts of things that can happen with advanced AI.

    Now consider Ultima VII, which has a completely open world with no instancing, and every single citizen in that game has a fully acted out schedule which ties into gameplay. How? Well, how about a scene where you can discover someone is cheating on his wife? Or how about following the clerk of a bank home so that you can steal her keys? That sort of thing.

    Now, take everything I’ve just said above and compare and contrast with the AI seen in Oblivion and Skyrim. See?

    Skyrim is only beginning to have the illusion of Ultima VII. When was Ultima VII released? 1992! Take that date on board and think about what I’m saying, here. The problem is is that the mainstream these days needs a certain amount of graphical fidelity, you can’t release a game that looks as old as Ultima VII on a console. But then the processing power of the console is being wasted upon fidelity.

    With a computer, you don’t have that problem. You can do whatever you like. And if you want to create a game which has advanced systems and AI as part of what provides the core experience, then you can do that.

    If you decide to use a PC purely for graphical fidelity, then you’re a bad designer. In which case #2 is right.

    If you decide to use a PC to get around the inherent limitations of a console, to provide a gameplay experience (such as truly intelligent AI) that you can’t experience on a console? Then you’re a good designer. In which case #3 is right.

    It’s all about the purpose of harnessing the power of a PC. If you make a game for the PC, do it for more than enhanced graphical fidelity. You could have a game with the fidelity that consoles have, and then use the rest of the processing power for the systems that back up the game. So you can have a game that looks like Skyrim with the AI of Ultima VII.

    If you’re doing that, then no, that’s not bad design.

    See, if #2 was right in regards to every scenario, then we’d never have moved past Pong. If you can’t work past the inherent limitations of the kind of PCB in a Pong cabinet, then you’re a bad developer. But then… would we have ever had Creatures or Ultima VII?

    But then again… we so often see waste. Fidelity is a curse.

    Hopefully my point has been made.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ManuOtaku

    “Star Citizen creator Chris Roberts has said the space sim will always be a PC exclusive, because even next-generation hardware can’t live up to elite rigs”

    While i understand, that consoles will never catch up with PC, due their very nature, and because it that wasnt the case then consoles will cease to exist and become a boxed PC, why they want to make games just for the elite rigs out there, he can be interested in giving his game and vision to the masses instead of a selected view, imagine if all the games released on PC demanded the best rigs, i dont think that many PC gamers will be happy neither.

    #9 2 years ago

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