Cloud Imperium Game is finally implementing the rescue ship Drake Cutlass Red in the alpha of its space simulator Star Citizen, and with it they’re enabling the first iteration of medical gameplay.
To learn more about what the Cutlass Red brings to the table and what being a space doctor will entail, Twinfinite quizzed Star Citizen’s vehicle pipeline director John Crewe.
Below you can read what he shared about Star Citizen’s version of a rescue helicopter that is actually born from a ship that has a much more sinister reputation.
Giuseppe: Can you provide an overview of the medical gameplay that will be available with the Cutlass Red at launch?
John Crewe: There are two major additions to medical gameplay that will come alongside the launch of the Cutlass Red.
The first benefit is that the medical beds in the ship will heal all injuries – this will work similarly to med-pens.
Players should simply place themselves in the bed, and their injuries will heal over time. The advantage over med-pens (of course) is that the beds are not finite – beds are an unlimited source of healing.
The second benefit is that players can set their respawn location to the Cutlass Red – simply head onto the ship and choose the bed as your respawn location, and should the player perish, they’ll respawn there.
Giuseppe: Like most features in Star Citizen, I’m guessing that this is only going to be the first pass of the feature. Where do you see it going as it progresses toward its full implementation?
John Crewe: You got it – this is our first introduction of medical gameplay and we do have plans to expand on it in the future. For example, while the Cutlass Red features the ability to respawn in beds, it does have some caveats in the implementation.
Two key restrictions are range and the fact that there are only two beds to respawn into.
This allows us to expand the feature and give more power to other ships in the future, like when the Apollo and Endeavour come online, they will both have more beds as well as an increased range in which the respawn ability can be activated within.
We also plan to “tier” beds in the future – the Cutlass Red comes with the lowest end medical beds – these beds will only support the full healing of minor injuries – where more severe injuries might require stabilization until the player is moved to a better facility.
Similarly, the respawn mechanic will evolve as well. In the future, your respawn location will only be valid if it is capable of recovering from the injuries you sustained before death.
For example, as more features and medical ships come online, the Cutlass Red is unlikely to be able to respawn a player who had a terminal velocity collision with a planet, whereas a player that died from hypothermia would have a much more likely recoverable situation.
Giuseppe: When do you think we may see the first planet/station-based medical facilities, and how will they interact with medical ships?
John Crewe: This isn’t really a question for myself – I’m responsible for the ship itself. That said, our shared code does give location and other teams the ability to start creating similar features throughout Star Citizen, but I don’t want to speak for a different team’s plans!
As always, I’d recommend to your readers interested in this to tune in to our weekly shows, where we constantly share updates on the game and our plans for development.
Giuseppe: Are there any specific medical missions in development or planning?
John Crewe: Like above, this isn’t really for me to answer as it’s for the Live Design team. However there will be specific medical missions planned for the future, we touched on some of them in this article.
Giuseppe: Speaking of emergent gameplay, will this kind of feature eventually get to interact with Quantum? For instance, having NPCs dynamically getting hurt in space and requesting medevac and healing.
John Crewe: This isn’t really work that comes from my team. However, the team behind Quantum has access to all our mechanics and features.
Their usage of these mechanics is something we talk about all the time, but we aren’t quite ready to go into detail about it.
Giuseppe: Does the implementation of medical gameplay mean that other ships with the proper equipment will also have it implemented when they release? Of course, I’m thinking about the Carrack.
John Crewe: Yes, we are enabling the medical respawn and healing features for all ships that contain med-bays. So you’ll actually see this in the 890 Jump and other ships with med bays…yes, like the Carrack!
Giuseppe: Will the ability to respawn in the Cutlass’ bed have any limitation due to balancing, or will players be able to respawn there infinitely?
John Crewe: This is the very first implementation of the feature and as such there’s a lot more to come to tie into systems that aren’t in the game currently.
For example, we know that the Cutlass is our sort of “ambulance” of the Verse, not a full-fledged hospital. So as more of the gameplay is built out, we’ll build more balance into the feature.
At launch, there are two major restrictions to the medical gameplay in the Cutlass – range and scope. Basically, you can’t use the Cutlass Red as a “fast travel” system, if the ship and the player are too far away from each other, respawn won’t work.
Further, there are only two beds in the Cutlass Red – so only two players at a time will be able to respawn.
As we progress further into development, one of the things we want to implement is “tiering” of the beds. Since the Red is more of an ambulance, it won’t be able to heal major injuries – you’d instead stabilize the patient and transport them to a hospital.
Additionally and on the respawn side, we’d like to take into account how a player met their demise. If a player had a terminal velocity collision, they might not be respawnable in the Cutlass, whereas a player who died from hypothermia might be available for respawning.
Giuseppe: Due to its utility as a respawn point, I can see the Cutlass Red and other medical vehicles becoming primary targets during engagements, which is pretty much the opposite of what happens or at least should happen in real life, where medical facilities and vehicles are protected as noncombatants. Have you thought about this, and any possible countermeasure, maybe in relation to the law system?
John Crewe: Absolutely, this is something we’re talking about with the law team. I can’t talk about specific plans as of yet (especially since it’s not my team!) but you can expect the two mechanics to interplay.
Also, there are some players who want to play as “bad guys” and there are few ways to signal your bad intentions more effective than targeting medical facilities!
Beyond that, the Cutlass Red is still a Drake-made Cutlass – it has the armaments and shields that you’d expect from a battle-ready “all-rounder” ship.
If you want to learn more about Star Citizen you can read about the recent release of alpha 3.8, which brought plenty of new features and content into the game. You can also take a look at a recent trailer for the game’s single-player component, Squadron 42, which was released on Christmas.
If you’d rather see something a bit more whimsical, you can watch how exploring the top of ArcCorp’s skyscrapers turned into an adventure for yours truly.
For the sake of full disclosure, the author of this article has been a Star Citizen backer since the original Kickstarter campaign several years ago.