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A lot of gamers have been awaiting the release of the FPS module for Star Citizen, currently dubbed Star Marine, but it's been delayed. The FPS module would be a test of what the on-foot combat would be like in the game when players attempt to board ships or investigate planets and vessels. Head honcho Chris Roberts explains exactly why the module has been delayed.
Over on the Roberts Space Industries website there's a very long and detailed post about the FPS module delay. The short gist of it is that the delay consists of multiple facets of technical hurdles for the developers to overcome. One aspect of it is the gameplay – not necessarily the gameplay but the presentation of the gameplay and the refinement of the animations. They're making sure that everything looks good in first-person as it does in third-person, and they're implementing more motion captured animations to make the whole experience as dynamic and engrossing as possible.
The one thing that has actually slowed progress on releasing Star Marine for Star Citizen fans is more on the technical side. In fact, Cloud Impremium Games and Roberts Space Industries have encountered the exact same kind of hurdle that Bohemia Interactive ran into with DayZ: network matchmaking and optimization.
Instead of relying on the old legacy code they realized that to hit optimal performance they would have to completely write all new code and all new features for the network infrastructure on the backend. They want fast matchmaking so everyone finds a game every single time. They want fast-loading, they want fast response timing and little to no lag. To handle this gargantuan task for Star Citizen they've developed a new Generic Instance Manager, shortened to a GIM.
The GIM's job is to quickly generate the information necessary to connect players across the Star Citizen universe and ensure that instanced areas are properly populated and keeping the persistent universe running smooth at all times. Yes, the GIM isn't just something being made for the Star Marine module, it's to help bring together every element of Star Citizen's upcoming persistent universe mode. So the Star Marine's completion will play a bigger role than just offering players an FPS arena to dabble around in while other modules come down the pipeline.
As for whether or not the FPS module will slow down progress on other important features of Star Citizen, Roberts assuages fears while also staying honest about the design progress and approach that the teams are taking to bring the whole thing to life, saying...
By the numbers, only 15% of the team has been working on Star Marine; it’s just been the major focus because it was the next public release. This means that development of other areas, such as Squadron 42, multicrew and the persistent universe, have continued while issues with FPS have stalled development there (though even in that case, development continues in other areas: while network engineers battle back end code, weapons artists and level designers continue to work towards future FPS milestones).
The multi-crew aspect is one of the things I'm most excited about in Star Citizen, as RSI and CIG recently unveiled a new personnel transport cruiser. This opens up the possibility of players taking on the role of being a space transporter, taxiing citizens across the stars from one destination to the next.
As for the Star Marine FPS module, there's no concrete ETA on when it's going to be released but it's at least good to know that there are big changes in the work to help make the persistent universe mode one step closer to becoming a reality for Star Citizen. You can learn more about the fascinating design methodology and process behind one of the biggest crowd-funding projects ever made by visiting the official Roberts Space Industries website.