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Ask A Dev section and selected ten questions to answer about the Star Citizen universe. All questions were slightly edited for context and clarity but you can click on the topic to go directly to the original post and join the conversation. Also, the Narrative team plans to do one installment of Loremakers: Community Questions every quarter with the next entry scheduled for Tuesday, May 3rd, so please join the discussion and drop any other questions you might have about the universe in our Ask A Dev forum.


How Could Harper Nguyen Have Discovered the Jump From Ellis to Taranis?

Question: I have a question regarding the article Discovered: Journals of Harper Nguyen portraying the discovery of an unknown jump point to Taranis. Taranis was discovered in 2478 by the Mythic Horizon, and based on the discovery dates of the other systems connected to it, Taranis could’ve only been discovered from Ellis. So how is it possible for Harper Nguyen to get credit for making the discovery of the jump from Ellis to Taranis jump point in 2795?

Answer: Thanks for bringing this to our attention. This dispatch was written prior to a reshuffling of some system discovery dates. Since the current discovery dates mean Taranis could only be discovered from Ellis, we've updated the article to reflect that Harper Nguyen first traversed the jump from Terra to Taranis instead.


What Would the Air at Orison Smell Like?

Question: For reference, here’s a description regarding the outer layers of Jupiter.

"Jupiter, that giant planet of swirling gas, smells different depending on which layer you're inhaling. The lighter layers of gas smell like ammonia (think cleaning products and urine), and a little deeper, it's ammonia as well as rotten egg."

Do you imagine that Orison would smell rather stinky or pleasant?

Answer: Orison smells like fresh baked waffles cones! Wait, that might be my custom Sweet Smell Helmet that I equip for a waste disposal mission. Anyways, we've not established a particular scent associated with Crusader's atmosphere at that elevation but there's some in-game and in-lore clues that point in a direction. 

The open-air design of Orison indicates there isn't a repugnant smell constantly floating around. If it was rotten egg terrible, then those platforms would be enclosed to make it bearable. Plus, Orison fancies itself a tourist destination, so if sickly smells were a factor, you would see signage saying that the stink is normal and recommending that one wear a helmet to avoid the stench. Meanwhile, Orison also probably doesn't have some magical pleasant smell either. The Hosanna tree, which Crusader specially cultivated to grow in Orison, is described as having "delicately scented pink flowers." If their scent can be picked up on the platforms, then I'd venture to guess there isn't a strong prevailing smell that's either pleasant or repugnant at that level of the gas giant.  

What I can say with some certainty is that Hurston has to be the worst smelling planet in Stanton. Why else would Bag Head have become such a popular helmet?

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What is the Process for Designing A Star System and Its Aesthetics?

Question: I was recently poking around the lore/galactapedia and looked up the Vega system. I saw the sections I'd expect, including information on the planetary system and star, but noticed that it said that Vega was 80% the size of Earth's sun Sol. The star currently called Vega actually has a radius of 2.3 to 2.8 times the size of Sol and is 2.1 times more massive. So that had me wondering:

  1. Is this the same Vega (fifth brightest star seen from Earth in the night sky) that we colloquially know?
  2. Do your design teams look up real information on real celestial bodies to provide a starting point for laying out features and objects such as stars within star systems?

Answer: Let's start with your first question. No, the star at the center of the Vega system is not the Vega star seen from Earth, which explains the difference in size. Same goes for any other system in-game that shares a name with a star in our sky. None are meant to represent the star we’re familiar with. 

Next, creating a system is an extremely collaborative endeavor between Narrative, Art, and Design. We'll focus on the Narrative side here but if you're interested in other aspects of the process check out this recent episode of Star Citizen Live with the Planet Content Team. On the Narrative side, we first brainstormed details for each system and then worked extensively with astronomers on the science behind each one. Sometimes we bent the science a bit to make something work for the game, and sometimes we changed our original idea to match the science. This process led to a massive spreadsheet that includes a tab dedicated to the stars in-game that tracks details like Stellar Classification, Solar Mass, Surface Temperature, and much, much more. That way when Art and Design begin to do their thing we can deliver details that guide them on everything from how the star should look and exactly where the habitable planets should be placed within the green band to a moon’s temperature range and Beaufort Wind Scale. 

Simply, part of Narrative's job is to provide a scientific foundation for these systems and then collaborate with Art and Design. While these details provide a good starting point for other teams, and are based on current scientific thinking, there still may be adjustments due to art or gameplay requirements. This is still a game, so at the end of the day, what looks and plays best might sometimes win out over hard science. 


What's the Most Dangerous UEE System?

Question: What UEE system is the most dangerous for an ordinary civilian or Citizen to live in? In terms of overall crime levels & risk of piracy.

Answer: Hmmm.... not a suspicious question at all. Sure this is all part of your research into the best places to raise a family in the UEE? Since player actions will also ultimately factor into exactly how dangerous a system will be, we haven't planted a flag and said with certainty that this one system has the most criminal activity. That said, as a simple hauler who prefers stunning vistas to combat operations, here's a few systems I'll be avoiding unless absolutely necessary. 

Let's start with Nexus, which is called the "Crossroads of Crime'' for a reason. Currently, it has four jump points and three of them lead into unclaimed systems that outlaws can easily escape into. Some of the most infamous criminal actions of the past few decades (Kellar's Run and the Walzer Massacre) occurred in Nexus. Criminality became so rampant that the UEE launched a major operation to reclaim Nexus III in 2934. An event that inspired the appropriately named Theaters of War map "Crossroads of Crime." Even though the UEE military now controls Nexus III, Lago (Nexus IV) remains so dangerous that most cities and outposts are heavily fortified. To get a feel for what that means for its residents, check out the short story Sid & Cyrus about an aging couple forced to venture into the untamed planetside in search of their daughter.     

Following Nexus, Charon might not seem like an obvious choice, but a brutal civil war has been raging on Charon III since 2944. That means its local governments are unstable and more concerned with their survival than safety in the system. In addition, Charon owns the unique distinction of being the only UEE system to revoke their representation in the UEE Senate in protest over horrors committed there during the Messer regime. This means the Advocacy and other UEE forces are probably less likely to come to your defense here than elsewhere in the Empire. 

Next, Magnus, Ferron, and Fora all have a long history of outlaw activity due to a variety of factors, including ineffectual local government and law enforcement forces. Kruger Intergalactic left Magnus for Castra in 2789 after a key shipment of parts was hijacked by outlaws, threatening their extremely lucrative and important contract with RSI. Meanwhile in Fora, a terraforming mishap on Hyperion (Fora III), the only potentially habitable planet, left this system on the edge of Banu space largely ignored by the rest of the empire. The Starmap even claims "Informal censuses of the area indicate that visitors are more likely to encounter a smuggler, outlaw or Banu settler than a UEE Citizen while in this five-planet system." Finally, Ferron was once a thriving system until manufacturers fled due to political pressure from the Messer regime and the system's easily accessible resources being mostly depleted. Things have gotten so bad that the police force in Tram, Asura (Ferron III) has gone on strike in the past in protest of the overwhelming dangers they face on the job.   

Lastly, for completion's sake, two of the UEE’s most dangerous systems are that way due to natural phenomena. Banshee system has at its center a pulsar spewing so much radiation that too much exposure is a death sentence, leading to the system's only habitable areas being underground. Finally, the recently discovered Tamsa system is still technically off-limits to people while the UEE surveys and studies the black hole found there.


What's to Keep People From Using Regen as a Method of FTL Communication?

Question: The current regen tech seems to lend itself to FTL Communication. How do you see it impacting more traditional data running? 

Answer: Since faster than light (FTL) communication doesn't exist in the Star Citizen universe, it's easy to see why dying and immediately regening elsewhere seems like a tempting data running option. That said, we've done our best to make it an ineffective one. When doing a mission, data would probably have to be stored on a physical device, which would either remain on the deceased's body or the server aboard their now abandoned ship. Needing a physical device or ship server to store and transfer the data should negate regen as a viable FTL option for missions.     

Narratively, it does get a little trickier when it comes to general knowledge about stuff like the location of an enemy encampment or extremely valuable mineral lode. As a player, you could regen with the knowledge still fresh and share it with others to your advantage. We address this in-lore with the concept of gap, which refers to the length of time between an imprint being made and when someone is regenerated. The longer the gap, the more memories and experiences will be lost, which is why frequent imprinting is strongly encouraged. Regen making people's short term memory a bit hazy reduces the reliability of this method of data running. In addition, the regen process degrades that person's imprint and makes it less viable going forward. While some might try to exploit the tech for communication, it'll come at the cost of degrading their imprint and bringing them a step closer to being wiped, which means that character will not be able to regen.


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What Can You Tell Us About the Terran Cities of New Austin and Quasi?

Question: What information is out there regarding the cities of New Austin or Quasi? Looking to know more about how these cities are designed and the atmosphere surrounding them, including living conditions, available work and cultures.

Answer: Happy to fill in some details on New Austin and Quasi. Let's start with the obvious. Like Prime, both cities are located on Terra III, an oxygen rich Super-Earth that was naturally habitable for Humans. Quasi is the planet's second largest city after Prime and located in the southern hemisphere in the shadow of the Nessay Mountains. Summers there are relatively cool and it gets more than 200 mm of snow per season. The city is a tourist destination in part due to the large and mysterious ancient ruins located nearby. Esperia founders the Ingstrom brothers grew up in Quasi and became fascinated with the ruins. 

Meanwhile, New Austin is a smaller and more industrial city, though there's been a concerted effort to integrate factories into the natural environment instead of destroying it. Compared to Prime and Quasi, New Austin has more of a "blue collar" vibe with the city center's most famous landmark being the Old Hall where members of the United Resource Workers would meet. Generally less expensive than Terra's other major cities, New Austin has become an increasingly popular spot for people and companies to move to. The Sataball Territorial League has their headquarters there, and most famously, Jennifer Friskers moved the headquarters of Origin Jumpworks from Earth to New Austin in 2913. A move that still stings some Earth-centric forces, who some suspect were behind the hack of Origin in 2944 that released details of their "Goldfinch" ship prototype. Despite being smaller and less of a tourist destination than Prime and Quasi, New Austin still boasts impressive infrastructure and enough prestige to have hosted CitizenCon in 2948.


What Happened to These Two Old Anvil Ships Mentioned in Lore?

Question: The Anvil Aerospace portfolio claims:

"The company has produced dozens of successful and iconic military spacecraft over the years, including the Hurricane, Osprey, Devastator, Hornet and Gladiator."

I have a few questions regarding the Osprey and the Devastator. Were these ships renamed, and if so what are their current names? What were the proposed classifications of these ships? Will players be able to buy/acquire these ships in-game, and if not why?

Answer: When world building we often include names of ships, items, people, places and other things that aren't an immediate focus for the lore or game. This flavor text enriches the world by creating a sense of history and mystery. Plus, having a few names like this sitting around helps when the Ship Team presents a new craft in need of one. In fact, that's exactly how the Hurricane got its name. While the Hornet and Gladiator were part of Anvil's original ship line-up, the Hurricane was not. When the Ship Team brought us the idea for an Anvil heavy fighter featuring six powerful ballistic guns, the Hurricane name fit perfectly. 

The Osprey has already shown up in lore as part of a fleet of security ships in an episode of Lost Squad, a spectrum show focused on the fateful days before the fall of Caliban to the Vanduul in 2884. The call out is intentionally lean on specifics but the ship is being used by a security force and engaging hostiles, so there's a strong chance it's a fighter. However, the Devastator has not been mentioned outside of the Anvil portfolio. With all that said, we'll avoid getting into anything more specific, so the Osprey and Devastator names could be used if the right Anvil ship design presents itself in the future.


Will Gangs Have Identifying Colors?

Question: Do the Nine Tails and the gangs of Pyro have a color scheme? If so, will the armor and gear they wear show that, and is that a lore or character team decision?

Answer: Yes, you will be seeing these visual distinctions between gangs in Pyro. The look of each gang is definitely taken into consideration during their development and is something we hope to keep improving for the current outlaws in-game. A gang's colors or other distinct visual traits are part of the kick-off process with the Character team. We also consider what type of armor they would wear and how it could distinguish between different ranks within the gang. Then there's the question of if the gang has a symbol, identifying tattoos or even, like the insane Pyro gang the Fire Rats, if members have severe burns or scars from initiation rights. A lot of these visual details are worked out together with the Character team. We provide them the palette and then let them work their magic on the specifics.

Yet, it doesn't stop there on the Narrative side. When creating these gangs we also consider factors like their area of influence, organization structure, approximate wealth, allies, rivals, and more. Answering such questions often leads us to ways to best visually present them. For example, a wealthy gang with a strict hierarchy and penchant for combat might have good gear and clear visual distinctions between ranks. Meanwhile, a shipjacking gang more focused on survival than riches might not have a cohesive look and instead mix and match whatever armor and equipment they find after a successful mission. There might even be a gang or two who avoid identifying colors and marks so they can remain mysterious and harder to track down. Simply, our goal is a diversity of looks for gangs and it's a very collaborative process between Narrative and Characters. 

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Will There Ever Be a New Tevarin Ship Manufacturer?

Question: Is there any possibility of a new Tevarin ship manufacturer? One that takes cues from what designs they have available to create their own new series of non-combat related ships?

Answer: This is an interesting two-part question that could potentially play out several ways. Let's start with the idea of there being a new Tevarin ship manufacturer. Currently there aren't any plans for one, but if ever needed, there are two obvious candidates. So let's do a little hypothetical worldbuilding for how we'd justify one if the Ship Team was inspired to create such a ship.

The first option would be a bold new aerospace start-up based on Jalan, Elysium system, formerly the Tevarin's homeworld of Kaleeth. Could see the company lean into the Tevarin cultural resurgence and want to make an initial splash with a non-combat ship. Their ships probably wouldn't be replicas but instead blend Tevarin design and aesthetic with some Human flourishes. 

Another option would be the emergence of a new ship manufacturer in the Branaugh system, which is currently home to the largest concentration of Tevarin people. These ships would have originally been built for practical purposes and primarily used by the Tevarin within the system, thus a focus on producing non-combat craft. Compared to major UEE manufacturers, they would probably be a bit low tech and maybe use more modular designs, like a modern Tevarin take on the Drake aesthetic. Justifying why and how these ships have made their way into the wider UEE would definitely take a little more Narrative shoe leather but could be done. Like the company above, these ships wouldn't be straight replicas but modern ships designed for Tevarins that also incorporate elements from their past in interesting new ways. 

Finally, if there's ever a desire to create an old school Tevarin hauler or other non-combat ship, there's always Esperia and their access to the Tevarin ships abandoned in the Kabal system. Wouldn't be surprised if some of the ships found there were geared toward the more practical and non-combat needs of the species.


Entertainment Options in 2952

Question: Would people in 2952 still have access to entertainment from the 20th century?

Answer: Yes, cultural touchstones from our era and even earlier are still around in 2952. Works of art that speak to the Human condition transcend time and cultural differences. Not to say that Romeo and Juliet is as well known in 2952 as it is today, but I'd bet there's an ancient literature course at Rhetor University where it's still studied and even performed. In addition, the influence of Human culture from preceding eras is readily apparent in the names of ships. Companies wouldn't call a ship Hercules, Vulcan, Valkyrie, Kraken, and so forth if people in the people in 2952 didn't understand the reference. 

It is safe to suppose a lot of art and entertainment that we're familiar with would still be around in 2952, but not be as universally known and available as it is today. Don’t expect 2001: A Space Odyssey to be regularly broadcast on spectrum, but there would probably be a copy of it (film nerd aside: ideally a 70mm print that archivists have figured out how to preserve perfectly) at the Ark that scholars could check out when researching how Humans first represented space travel. And of course, on a meta-level, don’t be surprised if the people of the 30th century tend to gravitate towards 20th century media in the public domain.

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