Star Citizen's New Procedurally Generated Planets Really Put No Man's Sky To Shame

Written by Neil Soutter on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 12:43 PM
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For a few, brief, tantalising months, procedural planet generation was the 'in' thing. An infinite universe of possibilities. Something totally wondrous just around the corner. And then No Man’s Sky happened, bringing procedural generation crashing back to down to Earth with a thud. Looking to resurrect the idea from the ashes is Cloud Imperium Games with Star Citizen. They’ve just shown off the procedurally generated planets in a huge new video and the results are rather more impressive.

What I particularly like is how there’s nowhere to hide here for CIG. This is straight up 30 minutes of gameplay taken from a randomised planet. It’s the real deal and expectations are set. The best bit is it’s even got a damn Mako look-a-like in it.

"It's absolutely artist driven," project lead Chris Roberts said. "We're using the procedural techniques to author planets on a global scale very quickly, but to give it a real sense of character. There are quite a few other games using procedural tech to do planets, and those achievements are impressive and cool, but I want to be able to say: I want to build this planet that looks like Hoth. I want to build this planet that looks like Tatooine."

I like what I see here, particularly the variations in terrain which look as if they're very natural rather than purely algorythmic. Star Citizen’s planets are still obviously going to suffer a little for being totally procedural, but they’ll also be kitted out with missions and things to do. I do hope they manage to squeeze in multiple biomes on a single planet as well, as I felt having a single repeating environment was a real downfall for NMS.

Also here’s the recently revealed Star Citizen development roadmap so you can get a feel for when certain activities are going to be available on these planets.

Star Citizen Alpha 3.0

  • Trading
  • Cargo
  • Piracy and smuggling
  • Mercenary
  • Bounty hunter

Alpha 3.1

  • Mining
  • Refining
  • Quantum interdiction
  • Refueling
  • Escort

Alpha 3.2

  • Salvage
  • Repair
  • Mercenary covert ops

Alpha 3.3

  • Farming
  • Rescue

Alpha 4.0

  • Travel to multiple star systems
  • Exploration and discovery
  • Science and research

What do you make of Star Citizen’s procedurally generated planets? Can CIG find success where No Man’s Sky couldn’t?

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02:40 Oct-23-2016

downloading now. its free until the end of this month lads. And if it runs decent i fully plan to buy a mustang B.

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21:10 Oct-20-2016

Well, that giant penis really showed them.

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21:29 Oct-13-2016

Sweet baby Jeebus, I am in love. But how am I going to achieve such FPS. 0.0 So beautiful.

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06:58 Oct-13-2016

Greatest PC game ever? I believe in you Chris!

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22:12 Oct-12-2016

No Man's Sky should hide in a hole and throw away the hole.

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21:01 Oct-12-2016

Is this really 100% randomly generated? I just ask because I've never seen such precise generation without some sort of input/assistance EX: a bump map that the generator uses to first create a rough outline of the planet. If this really is 100% pure random then kudos to them it looks absolutely stunning! Even if it isn't, it's still a remarkable feat considering the amazing quality!

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22:12 Oct-12-2016

No it's not randomly generated. It's procedural generation. If you look in the third paragraph you'll see the quote, "It's absolutely artist driven," project lead Chris Roberts said. "We're using the procedural techniques to author planets on a global scale very quickly, but to give it a real sense of character." Basically he is saying that there is artist input to create the planet, but it uses procedural generation to actually create the planets on screen. There are many advantages to this. I recommend watching the full 2+ hour presentation from CitizenCon. It's long but worth the watch.

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18:03 Oct-12-2016

now if they include basebuilding on planets and the ability to do massive sieges on massive fortresses and smaller bases planetside like in planetside 2 i'm sold.

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22:13 Oct-12-2016

Not quite what Star Citizen is aimed towards, but if you really want to do that it will be entirely possible.

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08:46 Oct-13-2016

imo you should be able to make houses for npc's adn such to build up an monopoly, that is if you have permission, like in some ares in a town or build up a new city on a planet u found urself

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16:32 Oct-12-2016

Who is here to donate me one GTX 1080?

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19:10 Oct-12-2016

also, if you have another spare one i would gladly accept it too

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05:37 Oct-13-2016

And me too, one can always find a use for a GTX 1080 :D

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16:24 Oct-12-2016

I'll travel to space and explore planets in person sooner than I'll be able to play the full Star Citizen game

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22:14 Oct-12-2016

Ehhh... doubtful...

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15:18 Oct-13-2016

You didn't really think I was being actually serious, do you?

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08:44 Oct-18-2016

I get your point, it's sad this awesome game has become unattainable for most, I mean the RIG you need to truly enjoy this with 3 monitors and 60 fps minimum will be very expensive, Ohw and don't forget you'll need a $400.00 + star ship too!
This sim is for the 1%.
You don't just play star citizen, you invest in it.

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15:52 Oct-12-2016

They spend all this time and money for a trailer of a non-complete game when they should be finishing the game.

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16:00 Oct-12-2016

You got to build some kind of hype around a game, a trailer really helps with receiving some attention.

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22:15 Oct-12-2016

Not only that, but if you watched the whole CitizenCon presentation, you'd know that they put this trailer together in a matter of a few weeks using the tools they'd already created for building the game. So no extra money and little extra time for a bada** trailer.

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18:01 Oct-13-2016

Sorry, didn't. Thanks for the info, I don't really care about hype as much as most people, I'd just like to see a finished product sometime in the next two years.

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07:47 Oct-13-2016

They are showing us progress! If they wouldn't post anything for 6 months how would we know what they have accomplished?

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15:25 Oct-12-2016

Really awesome

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13:58 Oct-12-2016

Really looking forward to when this game releases! :D

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13:58 Oct-12-2016

I really hope they succeed with their giant amazing idea.

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13:34 Oct-12-2016

If I remember right, isn't this game running on CryEngine? Because if it is, this iteration is totally giving Frostbite 3 a run for its money

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13:57 Oct-12-2016

Yes it's running on the CryEngine 4.

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14:05 Oct-12-2016

As far as I know there is no such thing as a CryEngine 4. The latest iteration ist still 3.5 or something. It is a modified version of the CryEngine 3 they use.

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15:57 Oct-12-2016

It is running on CryEngine 4 technically, 4 was originally a heavily modified version of 3 but they stopped using numbers and now they are back to numbers. CryEngine V was announced in March of this year but I haven't heard much else about that besides DX12 and Vulkan support.

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20:30 Oct-12-2016

It is running on the CryEngine, but after CryTek didn't pay their employees for three months, half the company left and many if not most of them got hired by the Star Citizen team. This allowed the people who made the engine to modify it, and now the CryEngine that they are using is 50% modified from the original.(StarEngine)

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22:17 Oct-12-2016

Hear hear. This guy is right lol.

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13:29 Oct-12-2016

I think this game will need a game content of about mass effect, otherwise it will just be a good looking tech simulator..

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12:57 Oct-12-2016

No Mans Sky's biggest problem was the lack of content. Unlimited world with not much to do got boring really fast, this could end up having similar problem. Can become something great, or a total disappointment like NMS. We'll see in around...2020 when the game will release I would guess...maybe :)

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13:51 Oct-12-2016

I remember when we used to joke about SC having a release date somewhere in the 2020's, but the fact is that, at the moment, it's looking more likely than not.

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12:46 Oct-12-2016

Even Minecraft has better generated worlds than No Man's Sky.

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