- NOTE TO READERS: This is a living document used by the Star Citizen team to develop the ships you will see in the finished game. We are sharing them with you in the hopes of giving you a better understanding of the design ideas behind ships you are pledging for.
- BIG DISCLAIMER: These are our current specifications on paper. Some of this is likely to change during the 3D design and game balancing process over the next 24 months. Despite this they should give a good indication of the relative features and abilities of the 5 initial ships that are available to early backers
Currently, there is little information on what ships will be available in the full game. The current information is based largely on [Pledge Ships], which are rewards for pledging a certain amount of money to fundraising for the game.
There will be all kinds of different ships from small starter ships to fighters, freighters up to capital ships. As stated by Chris Roberts: "Imagine the sort of ship advancement you encountered in Privateer or Freelancer".
|“||There will probably only be 10-12 flyable ships / hulls at the start, mainly due to the level of fidelity on each ship and all the upgrades / modifications. The goal would be for the content team to introduce new ship types once live - maybe one a month or close to that time frame. We would supplement that with some player designed ships (if they meet the quality level)||”|
Ships in the Star Citizen universe aren’t just pretty shapes, they are fully functioning vehicles with hundreds of of components, many of which move and articulate as you imagine they would on a real spaceship. Because of this when we design the ships of Star Citizen we have to do more than create something that looks cool, we have to actually think about how the parts of the ship fit together, how they move. If a missile pod or weapon folds into the fuselage we have to make sure there is room for it. We have to worry about the ergonomics of the cockpit, or living quarters inside a bigger ship, how a gantry or a ladder folds out to allow the pilot to climb in, how a door or canopy cantilevers out. In short we have to do industrial design and engineering as much as we do aesthetic design.
This attention to detail extends to things like the engines, the various ship systems; avionics, life support, the various modular upgrade and the weapons.
How Engines Work
All spacecraft performance is based on a linear series of engine components which can be upgraded in thousands of possible combinations. Pilots will treat their engine systems like their own cars, adding modified components to increase the performance, upgrading and tuning the engine (and risking flame-outs!)
- Intakes are the hydrogen ram scoops on the front of the spacecraft which fuel it by gathering space-borne hydrogen.. Upgrades alter the effectiveness and the profile of the vehicle; the more effectively a ship takes in fuel the more efficient its engines. The trade-off is that, unless countermeasures are installed, this also increases the radar signature. The appearance of the ship is altered as well: more primitive intakes look like physical fan blades, others glow different colors as heat capacity increases.
- Modifiers are a generalized slot for any kind of tech that affects the overall performance of the engine. The list includes engine coolers, exhaust systems, overdrives, afterburners, and other similar systems. Different ships can have different numbers of modifiers in a chain. The Aurora has a single modifier slot and so a pilot must decide between an afterburner and a cooler… the 300i has two, the pilot has more options.
- The engine is the core power plant of the ship. Engine output varies depending on manufacturer, model and type (types include Fission, Fusion, Anti-Matter, etc.) Each selection offers you a different base performance. Engine model examples: General Fusion 3000, Merlin Agena-L, Korolev Atlas III, Suncom Omega.
- Thrusters are the end of the chain, the physical output point of the engine. They modify the overall engine output: burn at different rates, impact the range, increase or decrease the radar profile of the ship (you might pay extra for “silencer” thrusters which don’t give off such a large drive plume,) etc. Here you will see a significant visual difference: different size nozzles, different colors of thrust, etc. THRUSTERS are defined by two values; its THRUST RATING (TR), which determines the amount thrust it can deliver. The bigger the number, the larger and more powerful the thruster. A 10 rated thruster would be used on a cruiser’s main engines, and a 1 rated thruster would be a maneuvering thruster on a Aurora. You can normally fit a thruster of the same or lower rating but you couldn’t attach a 5 rated thruster to a 3 rated thruster slot. Most ships have a combination of a few higher rated thruster slots for the Main Engine thrust and at least 4, but more usually 8 lower rated thruster slots for the Maneuvering and Retro thrusters. The maneuvering thrusters are used to change the ship’s orientation as well adjust its overall velocity vector. Retro thrusters arrest the ships velocity. Frequently a front mounted maneuvering thruster will also perform retro fire duties.
- The second important value for a thruster is its ARTICULATION TYPE; Fixed doesn’t move. The thrusters on the Apollo lunar lander would be classified as fixed. Then there are Jointed thrusters; these are rigid nozzles that can rotate on one or two axis. After this there are Flex thrusters; which can articulate on one or two axis, but aren’t rigid. Think of these like the nozzles on a Harrier or am F-35. Finally there are Vectored thrusters – which have vector flaps that help direct the stream of exhaust.
- As an example the Hornet has one 4 rated Vectored Main Engine thruster, four 2 rated flex maneuvering jets (with the front two also performing retro duties) on the top and four 2 rated jointed thrusters on the bottom.
A ship’s Upgrade Capacity defines its ability for a ship to add additional modules or systems to the base hull. Some upgrades–for instance, an enlarged cargo hold–will require more than one upgrade slot.
The number and combination of potential upgrade modules is nearly limitless, but some examples include:
Enhanced Cargo Hold
- Alters your ship’s overall cargo capacity. These come in different flavors: one might give you more room, another might include an electromagnetic barrier that hides contraband from police scans.
- Increases your ship’s capacity for taking damage (available in different materials: plasteel, durasteel, isometa etc.)
- Increase your ship’s targeting range, friend or foe identification speed, depth of field, etc. with any number of internal computer hardware updates.
- Larger ships are capable of tractoring in spaceborne junk and asteroids. With a refinery lab aboard your ship you can reduce them to their core components, increasing immediate resale value.
- Increase the amount of energy your ship can shift from engines to guns at any given time.
- If you’re going to travel from system-to-system, you’ll need a jump drive! Jump drives range from a journeyman model for ordinary pilots to complex explorer models that increase your chances when charting a new star system. Another option is a stealth model which reduces your “jump flash” and makes it easier for you to travel undetected.
- Available in a thousand makes and models, each of which can be chained or tuned to a specific pilot’s preferences! Standard shield generators provide X protection at Y recharge for Z energy usage per second. Other models might reflect particular types of guns (ie, a 20% chance of deflecting an energy blast, but weak against physical shot and the like) and still others might impact a ship’s stealth. A strong forward “ramming shield” offers an option to players who want an alternative method of dogfighting…
Note that all of these upgrades also have tradeoffs. The ability to shift more energy to guns also decreases it from engines and shields, an increased cargo hold means that maneuverability or speed is impacted, etc.
Every ship has hardpoints on which a variety of different weapons can be mounted. Each hardpoint has a classification. A lower classification can always be mounted on a higher classification hardpoint, but not the other way around.
Class 1: Fixed Gun
This is your standard forward facing laser, neutron cannon, particle gun, etc.
Class 2: Articulated Gun
Think the guns in Freelancer or the smart weapons found in later Wing Commanders. Class 2 hardpoints are rarer and more expensive, but they allow guns to rotate on an arc rather than fire point blank.
Class 3: Pylon
This is where you mount missiles, ECM units, radar pods, drop tanks, additional ammunition, special scanners, etc.
Class 4: Turret
Uses the same fixed guns as class 1, but mounted in a separate area of the ship which may be crewed by another person. Turret slots can also mount pylon-type weapons (i.e. a tractor beam or a chaff dispenser.)
Weapons in the Star Citizen / Squadron are split into two major categories; Guns and Self Propelled (Missiles, Countermeasures)
- Terra-based weapons consortium. Outsources to a lot of designers and subsidiaries to be a one-stop shop for all your defensive needs. Think of it as a conglomerate of Springfield Arms and General Dynamics. They make guns, missiles, tanks, dropships, sentry drones, etc. mostly for the UEE but there are civilian models. Usually favor quantity of production over quality.
- Popular models: P4AR – Standard issue rifle for the UEE military about as basic and recognizable as the modern M16. Also comes in the P4SC, a more compact and collapsible carbine version.
Klaus & Werner
- Some government contracts but mostly personal defense company. Almost exclusively handguns, rifles, and shotguns (both energy and hard-ammo).
- Popular models: Model II Arclight – handheld laser made famous as Kyle Fenris’ sidearm on the hit Vid-Show The Frontier.
Associated Sciences & Development (ASD)
- High-end weapons company. Usually their stuff is very expensive and exclusive. Mostly energy weapons but also some ‘specialty’ classes. Distortion cannons, rail guns, shredders, etc.
- Popular models: Gained notoriety with the unveiling of the EE6 Electron Cannon. The blast would polarize the electrical charges on an atomic level, causing all sorts of destruction as well as some ugly, gruesome deaths. Consequently they have a somewhat tarnished reputation with the public.
Talon Weapon Systems
- Croshaw-based munitions manufacturer, focusing mostly on missiles, bombs, and torpedoes. If it exists, there’s a Talon that can blow it up.
- Small start-up company founded by an eccentric engineering whiz-kid named Barlowe Elias. Burst onto the scene by creating ‘specialty weapons.’ His weapons are generally favored by criminals and pirates because of their unusual applications, such as the Beacon Bomb designed to simulate a distress beacon with customizable distress calls.
Guns are an exception to the “more is better” rule that applies to all other upgrades. Looking back at the original Wing Commander games, there’s a clear jump: you had the original games where there were between three and eight gun types and players had a clear feel for each one and the later games where there were ten to twenty and they all felt like different colors of the same thing. Anyone can tell you which their favorite gun loadout in Wing Commander I or II was (and it will be different for each person) whereas few can tell you which guns the ships in Wing Commander III forward even had.
Like those earlier games, we want to design a few iconic gun types and then build on that canon (pun intended!) over time. Variation can be added with modifiers (gun silencer, gun cooler, over clocker) and different companies or subordinate models of the same weapon (perhaps the ASD Mass Driver is distinctly inferior to the Behring model.) But developing a new gun–say, introducing the first Particle Cannon–should ultimately be treated as a major event in the game world.
Gun Types (at Launch)
- Behring Mk. V Laser Cannon
- Clarkson Industries C44 Electron Gun
- A&R Fix-mount Plasma Particle Blaster
- Intergalactic Research Concepts Phased-Array Tachyon Cannon (“X-1”)
Ballistic (hard-ammo) Weapons
- Klaus & Werner Mass Driver Cannon
- ASD PN-21 Scattergun
- Behring “Ripper” GaussGun
- MaxOx 35mm Dredge Gun (fires AP Sabot rounds)
Note that all self propelled weapons are mounted on pylon-based launchers which can be attached to a class 3 or class 4 hardpoint. The same general class of self propelled weapons will be produced by any number of companies and we will encourage player loyalty to “their” brand. Maybe a more expensive ‘name brand’ missile has a little bit more of a kick, versus cheap store brands and even cheaper ‘discount’ missiles that have a higher rate of failure.
Missile are defined by three important components;
- This can be Dumb (no target acquisition – this is the behavior of a rocket), Heat Seeking, Image Recognition, Friend or Foe.
- This is normally some form of a thermal jet propellant system; either a solid or liquid propellant. Some larger missiles can however use more exotic forms of propulsion, closer to what a spaceship will use.
- This can be PBX High Explosive (HE), Nuclear (Fission and Fusion), EMP and Anti-Matter.
Examples of missiles in the Star Citizen / Squadron 42 world are;
- Behring Arrow (Dumb/HE) (aka: Lemmings, Matchsticks)
- Talon Devastator (Heat Seeking/Variable payload)
- Behring Judge (Friend or Foe/HE or AP)
- Talon IR4 Stalker (Image Recognition/HE or Anti-Matter)
- Behring Mk2 (Friend or Foe/MIRV)
- Joker XXV Vampire (aka “Leech”)
- Talon Fusion Torpedo (Dumb/Nuclear)
- ASD Chaff Auto-Dispenser Countermeasures
- Joker XB-44 “TomatoCan” (IR or HS/HE Frag)
- ASD BV-8 Blackout (Dumb or IR/EMP)
- Talon SV32 Bulkhead Buster
Spacecraft design and construction have become big-business. Like the car industry of the 20th-22nd Century, many companies have tried their hand at building and selling the latest and greatest ships. Here is a list of the major companies still producing today:
- ROBERTS SPACE INDUSTRIES (RSI)
- The original creators of the engine that kickstarted humanity’s expansion into space, Roberts Space Industries build a wide range of spaceships that serve all needs starting at basic interstellar travel to deep exploration on the outer edges of the galaxy. The tagline is “Roberts Space Industries: Delivering the Stars since 2075”
- ORIGIN JUMPWORKS GmbH
- MUSASHI INDUSTRIAL & STARFLIGHT CONCERN (MISC)
- Mass produces very efficient, modular ships, mostly armored freighters of different sizes that make them the preferred brand for traders and larger corporations.
- DRAKE INTERPLANETARY
- Ostensibly a legitimate company, it’s an open secret that they manufacture cheap, well-armed craft favored by pirates, to the point that they’re named in that vein: “Drake Cutlass”, “Buccaneer”, “Privateer”, and “Marauder” etc.
- ANVIL AEROSPACE
- Produces dogfighters, but with less of the pirate stigma. These ships are more expensive, less spit-and-glue.
- RSI Aurora
- Origin 300i
- Anvil Aerospace Hornet
- MISC Freelancer
- RSI Constellation
- Aegis Dynamics Idris
- Aegis Dynamics Retaliator
- Star Citizen Ships Development Document (Note: Page is temporarily inaccessible on the RSI website)