Cloud Imperium Games have recently pushed out a new test patch for their upcoming space sim, Star Citizen. According to staff posts on the official forums this marks a slight change to how CIG have operated in the past and has had testers have to agree to an NDA before they can install and test for bugs prior to a larger roll out what CIG refer to as the PTU before being published to the community as a whole.

The NDA hasn’t stopped some information coming out however, via people who have obtained links to the files for download and have begun data mining the contents for tidbits and making comparisons between the files available to backers as part of the 2.3 patch.
This has led to some interesting discoveries in terms of ships expected to be in the patch as well as data in terms of equipment and statistics.

Firstly, an existing ship, the MISC Freelancer has reportedly seen some stat changes concerning its hit-points

Hitpoints:
Nose 2,000 -> 4,000
Body 2,000 -> 3,000
Tail 2,000 -> 6,500
Wings: Still 850
In terms of load-out the Freelancer is now equipped with a WillsOp P3 AutoCompensator targeting computer
We’re also seeing the first of avionics components instead of the AEGS_Test_Motherboard that has been the staple of most ships, we now have a BEHR_S01_CSR_RP to which the targeting auto-compensator is attached as well as some legacy components.

Source: www.robertsspaceindustries.com

Essentially, this means that the ship should be a little harder to take down in a fight than it has been in previous builds, something you would want from a freighter type craft. Additionally, it seems like it is seeing some form of targeting system which likely auto-compensation on weapons fire and finally that more advanced ship avionics are coming online in this patch.

New flight ready ships

Next up, what looks like confirmation on two ships being made ‘flight ready’ the Starfarer and another, surprising ship hinted at by CIGs VP of Marketing, Sandi Gardiner in Around the Verse and later confirmed as being in the patch by CIGs Community Director Ben Lesnick on Reverse the Verse; the Starfarer Gemini.
The Starfarer had been made ‘hangar ready’ in patch 2.3, that is to say it was available in players hangars for them to look at and walk around. The sheer size and scope of the ship meant that this was no simple task, since its a veritable maze of corridors, ladders, stairways and access tubes. Due to its size, the Starfarer actually represents a significant move towards the long term goals of Star Citizen, where multi-crew craft, where you can work, fight and interact with your friends and other players all while flying in a ship the size of a world map for other games in the games universe servers. According to the ship guide on the RSI website, the Starfarer is a fuel transport, capable of both refining fuel from sources in the game and also of fueling up other ships mid-flight. The Starfarer Gemini is said to be a military adaptation of the base Starfarer, with modifications to the hull to increase survivability at the cost of cargo and fuel space. It also includes different engines, weapons and sensors.
Again, from CIGs own forums.
The Gemini gets a very nice missile launcher in the fuel intake hardpoint that can launch 9 x S3 FSKI Arrester Proximity CS missiles
The Gemini gets the Wills Op P3X Multilock targeting system
Improved stock coolers (Aegis Boreal vs JSPN stock CryoStarEX)
The Gemini has armor! 25% damage reduction to ballistics but +20% damage from distortion sources (missiles, sucker punch)
The Gemini has it’s own Aegis Gemini engines on the mains rather than stock XFRG E655s on the regular Starfarer
The shield is the same on the Gemini and Starfarer which is a little puzzling, would have expected that to be uprated.
Both Starfarers have the same hull hit points. Nose health: 18,000. Body Health: 27,000. Spoiler: 5,000. Nacelles: 12,000. Legs: 6,000
Starfarer Top Speed: 140. Gemini: 150. Starfarer ABM: 200. Gemini ABM: 220. Starfarer CRU: 450. Gemini CRU: 460
Gemini IFCS has some other slight differences to the stock.

First glimpse of the Starfarer Gemini

A significant jump in features

 

Finally and perhaps most exciting is the fact that the patch notes for 2.4 have reportedly been leaked, naturally this needs to be treated with a grain of salt until CIG roll out the patch to the next, none NDA phase of testing or to their live alpha servers, but if it is accurate this patch represents the biggest change to the game to date.

To gain an understanding of the impact this patch will have, we’ll take a quick retrospective of the development of the game to date.

The first major public release was the hangar module, this was effectively a ships hangar which allowed players to look around some of the ships in game for the first time, but little else.
The next major release added Arena Commander, the ‘game within a game’ that gave players the ability to fly their ships in a small combat arena, both vs AI opponents and also other players.
Things seemed to pause for a while after this, until finally patch 2.0 was released. This represented the first look at the game that Star Citizen is planning to become, with players able to fly around a planetary body and its moons. Visit space stations, engage in FPS combat, hunt for the remains of derelict ships in asteroids and so on. As huge a step as this was, all the player data was stored on the client computers, meaning anything done in-game was reset each time you logged out.. Close but no cigar.
A few patches coming out in quick fire succession added more ships and features until we get to today and patch 2.4

2.4 represents a similar shift in the game as 2.0 did late last year. It’s the first step to moving the players data onto the game servers meaning that player actions become persistent for the first time. While this is just the starting point a lot has been added, reviewing the patch notes we can see straight away in-game ‘alphaUEC’ (The in-game currency for the duration of the alpha) has been added, meaning players can purchase clothing, weapons and other items in-game for the first time; as well as being rewarded for in-game actions such as bounty hunting or finding wrecks. Player actions will also start to have a lasting consequence, since unlawful actions, such as killing another player or shutting down comm arrays will carry a lasting impact over several play sessions. This will persist until you either hack a terminal in a space station to clear your records or go for anything from 1 to 15 hours without engaging in ‘criminal’ activity in the game depending on your wanted level. Finally ship and character states will also start to persist, with ship system and weapon load outs carrying across all game sessions as well as character load out and kit, spent ammo and fuel needing to be replaced for a cost. In addition hangar configurations, purchases and alphaUEC totals will also persist from game to game. Essentially the game has start to really set the larger parts needed into place for the full  MMO aspect of the game to come to fruition.

MISC Reliant in the Asteroid Hangar : source www.robertsspaceindustries.com

In addition to the addition of persistence, as mentioned earlier we have two new flyable ships, the Starfarer and the Starfarer Gemini. A new hangar ready ship; the MISC Reliant – one of CIGs ‘starter ships’. We are seeing the control systems becoming more unified between different game-play modes such as FSP and flight, meaning that it should be easier to shift from running around a space station to jumping into a pilot’s seat. The in-game ‘MobiGlas’ a personal organiser type device in the game is also seeing a feature bump with the addition of credit tracking systems, and an all new ‘Port Modification App’ a tool that allows players to modify ship load outs. The Port Modification app  also allowing for the first steps to hangar modification, allowing players to select what ships are on display and what in hangar flair is visible and where.

New in-game animations have also been added as can be seen from the video showing transitions between physics grids, which shows significant improvement over previous builds animations for this. Which continues the overall improvement work that CIG have been consistently doing in this area for sometime. Their are also new shops in the game, with Casaba outlet finally opening its doors in Area 18 on ArcCorp (the currently only accessible planet side area) and multiple new shops opening in a now slightly expanded Port Olisar (Currently the first spawn point for all players in the game’s universe servers.)

Assuming that even half of the above features are included I’m sure you will agree this stands to be a very exciting time to be a Star Citizen backer with more and more of the needed basic systems starting to come online to allow CIG to begin to realise their ultimate ambitions.