Star Citizen – Travel Time Complications
The goal of this article is to discuss the long travel times in Star Citizen but also the complications these travel times can create for the players and the game itself. Traveling in Star Citizen is going to be a very important part of our everyday life in the verse and apparently it will require a serious amount of time from the players. The main reason for these travel times, is the Quantum Travel speed that is set right now at 20% of the speed of light. A speed that creates a realistic feeling of traveling around and gives to the players a much better understanding of the whole process but also time to appreciate the scale and beauty of the Star Citizen universe.
Recently, in the Keynote Address of the latest Citizencon event, we got an excellent example of what traveling in Star Citizen is going to be. An uninterrupted trip from ArcCorp to Hurston will take around 8 minutes, according to Chris Roberts and we have also heard several times in the past, that it could take up to 40 minutes to travel from one side of a system to another. These travel times are not really that bad for one only system but they will still affect players when deciding to travel, some more that others and if they remain the same, then they will almost certainly create serious complications for the game later, in a bigger, expanded Persistent Universe.
Let’s take a trader for example that simply wants to go from point A to point B, ArcCorp to Hurston and sell his goods for profit. It will get him around 8 minutes to reach Hurston but that is not the end of the journey, the clock continues ticking. To that time we will also have to add the other actions that will be necessary to complete his journey. First of all the 8 minute travel will take him to the planet of Hurston, after that he will still need to reach his specific destination whether that is a landing zone on the surface or a space station orbiting the planet. Land, get out of his ship, visit the vendor/kiosk, sell his goods, buy new if they are available at that specific location, get back to his ship and start the journey back to ArcCorp to achieve the maximum profit.
If this route, ArcCorp – Hurston is the main trading route for that specific trader then it could take him up to 30-40 mins to complete a full circle and make some profit. To make significant progress it would probably take him several hours every time. The problem becomes even greater if we start calculating trading routes between systems. A nice example, others before me have also used, is the ArcCorp – Terra trading route. Just reaching Terra could take around 40 minutes and if we count the additional actions we have mentioned before it could take 2-3 hours to complete a full circle just once. Buy goods at ArcCorp, travel to the jump point, jump to Terra, reach your destination, sell goods, buy new goods and go back to ArcCorp. I don’t even dare to think how much time it would take, with that specific speed, to perform multiple jumps and visit more than two systems in the same trip.
This speed will not only affect traders of course but everyone else that want to reach a specific location in a logical time-frame. Only explorers and pirates will not really be affected because they will be looking for Points of Interest or victims or both blindly. But even them will have to return to their “homebase” eventually to restock, refuel.
To make things worse, Chris Roberts has mentioned that they don’t plan to allow us to perform uninterrupted trips. In every trip we will have to deal with interdictions from NPC or getting pulled out of our Quantum Travel every time there is a Point of Interest nearby. Something like that will increase our travel time by a lot and further affect negatively players that simply want to reach an area as fast as possible. We still have no idea how many interdictions we will have to deal with in every trip, but i guess the longer the trip the more the interdictions will be. So even with one interdiction like that in our previous 8 minute trip example we are already looking at an hour or more to complete the ArcCorp-Hurston-ArcCorp route.
Personally i don’t mind when players are trying and succeeding to pull you out off Quantum Travel, combat oriented players – pirates need to have their gameplay and fun in the verse as well. But pulling you out every time there is a Point of Interest nearby or throwing NPC pirates at you is the wrong approach. There are two reasons for these interdictions, in my opinion, first of all the fact that the developers know exactly how boring it is going to be sitting in your cockpit/ship, doing nothing for several minutes, so they try to create “fun” gameplay like this, by forcing players to interact with the universe around them. The second has to do with the combat-centric notion, apparently CIG still have, that in order to have fun in Star Citizen you have to fight someone or something. I personally prefer to be given info of what is around me but let me choose if i want to stop and further investigate. I want to be in control of my journey.
The Quantum Travel speed as it is right now seems to be ok for one only system, for the fraction of Stanton that we have in Star Citizen 3.0 but it can create some serious problems if we also calculate the additional actions and the interdictions CIG want to throw in the mix. When we will start getting new systems in the game, these travel times will make going from one system to another a real pain and will only result in frustration for most players. In my opinion an increased Quantum Travel speed is necessary to provide a really fun gameplay not only in the future but also now with the upcoming 3.0 update. Other solutions could help as well, like the introduction of a secondary travel speed that will make traveling between systems faster and easier and of course the removal of forced interdictions by NPC or whenever a Point of Interest is nearby.