Cloud Imperium Games (CIG), headed up by Chris Roberts of Wing Commander fame, is publishing two space-based PC-only game titles in 2015 -- Squadron 42 and Star Citizen.

Squadron 42 is a single-player game (with optional co-op play in later missions) in the Wing Commander spirit. You'll be in the UEE Navy and work through a series of missions. The story will branch depending on how well you do as a pilot in the game, which means there are potentially multiple outcomes to the game. A couple times a year, CIG will publish new "mission packs" for Squadron 42.

Star Citizen is a online, massively multiplayer game. If you choose to play Squadron 42 first, you'll exit Squadron 42 with Citizenship (see below) and enough credits to get yourself a ship. You can start playing Star Citizen directly, however. Star Citizen is, at it's base, a twitch-based space combat game where gorgeous ships dogfight for supremacy like WW-II airplanes fought in the movie Tora Tora Tora. Beyond that, Star Citizen features a comprehensive economy where players can be manufacturers, shippers, bounty hunters, pirates, explorers, combat escort pilots, miners, refiners, and most anything else you can imagine inside a galactic economy. CIG will make constant content updates to the game -- probably at the rate of new content every 2-4 weeks.

If you want to know how I know all this stuff, click the obvious menu item above for the answer. You'll also learn there that I do not work for Cloud Imperium Games (CIG), the developer of Star Citizen and Squadron 42.

Thanks to my fellow Chatrollians for reminding me when items on this FAQ are no longer accurate due to updates from CIG.

This page was last updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 at 11:15 PDT (Time Zone Converter).

Follow me on
Follow on Twitter for updates
for updates

Get the amazing book
Ready Player One
we're all talking about

By popular request, believe it or not, from those who've benefitted from this FAQ and my blog, I've added a "Donate" button. If you find all this useful and have a few spare shekels, click the button.
Game development timelines  

CIG is using a unique "iterative release plan" for the game. Game components ("modules") will each go through their own alpha/beta testing. They'll appear with basic functionality and have that functionality modified and expanded based upon testing. The fully realized Star Citizen beta likely won't be until very late in 2014 or early 2015. According to several interviews and comments on WingMan's Hangar, here are upcoming module release dates:

  • New website: In stages, starting with the June 2013 reveal. The next very noticeable update will be a change from chatroll to a XMPP-based chat application - probably in September or so....
  • Hangar module: August 24, 2013, with subsequent versions about 9 weeks apart. The first version will be very basic, with upgrades going forward. Here is a preview.
  • Multiplayer Combat Alpha: December 2013 to test flight mechanics and combat balance. This will be "deathmatch" style combat and not combat in the full universe. It should contain most, but not all, ships available to pledgers and you will be only able to fly your ships in your account.
  • Social module: Some time in 2014 to hang around bars, talk to fellow citizens, testing interactions and mission board. Possible commerce alpha, too.
  • Full game release: Intended for to be released 2015. Squadron 42 should be released first, then Star Citizen.
CIG staff on Chat  
The Cloud Imperium Games staff drops into chat fairly regularly. I've listed the names and chat handles for the more regular visitors below. Fellow Star Citizen Grayson is keeping a list of the Q&A from these chats here as a Google doc. For those who are using script mods of Chatroll, John fellow Star Citizen John Tennyson is collecting their hashes in his script here. Times are in UTC so you may want a Time Zone Converter. (NOTE: CIG staff and moderators show up as yellow in the chat room.)  
Real Name
Chat Name
Title (responsibilities)
Martin Galway Martin_Galway Director of Audio (All the sounds & some music)  
Tom Oliphant Sumasshu Gameplay Programmer (The actual coding on ships & such)  
Kyle Rockman Rocktavious Tools Programmer (Tools to make coders more productive)  
Brendan Jackson PixelPunisher Graphics Programmer (Makes the art move in the game)  
Jason Spangler Stormwind Chief Technology Officer (Makes all the game servers work)  
Mark Skelton Mark Skelton 3D Artist (Specializing in characters and scenery)  
Bryan Brewer LiquidMesh3D Lead Animator (Responsbile for all animation in the game)  
Michael Morlan Viewmaster Media Project Manager (Tracks deliverables from all artist)  
Chris Smith chrismsmith 3D Artist (Turns ships and personal weapons into 3D works)  
Rob Irving Designopotamus Lead Designer (Makes "The Game" in CR's head real)  
Zane Bien Zane Bien Web Front End/UI dev (Coding new website, also in-game UI)  
Tom Sawyer Maz Network Programmer (Helps Jason with the server side)  
Eric Peterson WingMan President, Production & Development (Second in command)  
Chris Olivia MaximusOlivia Chief Visual Officer (In charge of the look & feel of the game)  
Adam Poole Adam Poole Art Associate Producer (Tracks deliverables from artists)  
Ben Lesnick Ben Lesnick Community Mgr/Designer (Forums, chat, design, and ideas)  
Pete Mackay holoKitten Community Manager (Manages the forums and chat)  
Rico Acosta Rico.CIG IT Director (In-house IT responsibilities)  
Nate Blaisdell devoinc Senior Designer  
Elijah McNeal EL1J4H Concept Artist  
Ron LaJoie Ron "The Producer" LaJoie Produces WingMan's Hanger and more  
Chelsea ? Chelsea LA-based customer support  
Alexis Rittle patterned Austin-based customer support  
Travis Day Travis Day Associate Producer - LA  
Alpha and Beta Access  

This section is under construction and shouldn't quite be considered the final word on this. I have questions in to CIG to confirm some stuff. When I get answers I will update here.

For those who have already bought something, go look in your account (My RSI --> My Hangar) and you'll see in the detail section if you have alpha/beta access. In general, only packages came with alpha/beta access. If you only bought an individual ship, then you probably don't have alpha/beta access. If alpha/beta access is not listed, assume (for now) you don't have it.

For new purchases, here are the only packages with alpha/beta access:

  • Digital Bounty Hunter Package
  • Rear Admiral Package
  • Arbiter Package
  • Pathfinder Package
  • Digital Mercenary Package (the cheapest package that comes with alpha.beta access)
  • Digital Colonel Package
  • Digital Freelancer Package
  • Colonel Package
  • Freelancer Package
  • Vice Admiral Package
  • High Admiral Package
  • Grand Admiral Package

If you think you have alpha/beta access but can't find it in your hangar, don't freak out quite yet. Some people melted packages for ships, for example, and I don't have any confirmation on how this affects alpha/beta access. There is a specific issue with Digital Scout packages bought by original backers, as described in this CommLink article

Hull Insurance  

If your ship gets blown up, insurance will help cover the cost of replacement. This works like vehicle insurance in the real world. If you total your 2001 Ford Mustang, you're not going to get a 2014 Mustang. You'll get the equivalent of a 2001 Mustang back. We call it "hull insurance", but the hull and the base modules (guns, thrusters, etc) are covered. (Overclocked base modules are replaced with base modules that may or may not be overclockable). You will be able to insure your upgraded modules and cargo for a separate cost. Insurance costs are paid with in-game credits and should not be too cost-prohibitive. Insurance in the game does not pay you in credits. It gives you a ship instead.

Importantly, ship replacement will not be immediate. Larger, rarer vessels like the Idris may take quite some time for replacement if lost -- days or weeks in calendar time. You may be able to speed this up a little by traveling to the home planet of the manufacturer, assuming you have the money for the "bus" fare. The more often you lose your ship over a certain period of time, the longer it will take you to get a replacement since the insurance company will have to make sure you're not just being stupid (or fraudulent).

Insurance is also rated by sector. If you operate in dangerous sectors often, you should expect to pay more. Some insurance policies on gear and cargo won't cover any loss in certain sectors. Hull insurance works everywhere. So if you don't have the right policy and get fragged in pirate space, you'll lose everything but your hull..

The biggest insurance question concerns Lifetime Insurance (commonly abbreviated "LTI"). I'll summarize below, but if you want lots of details read this excellent CommLink article. If you want to determine whether your ship has LTI, the easiest thing to do is look in your account. If it says "Lifetime Insurance", you have it.

Otherwise, here are some questions to work through to figure out Lifetime Insurance.

QUESTION 1: Did you buy your first ship on or before November 26, 2012?
If 'YES", then every ship you own has Lifetime Insurance. You qualify as an "Original Backer" so every ship you purchase until November 26, 2013 will have Lifetime Insurance. Any ship you purchase can be gifted to anyone and they will also have Lifetime Insurance on that ship.

QUESTION 2: Did you buy your first ship after November 26, 2012 but on or before July 6, 2013?

If 'YES", then every ship you own has Lifetime Insurance. Additionally, you qualify as a "Veteran Backer" so every ship you purchase until November 26, 2013 will have Lifetime Insurance. Any ship you purchase can be gifted to anyone and they will also have Lifetime Insurance on that ship.

QUESTION 3: Did you buy your first ship after July 6, 2013?
If 'YES", then your ship does NOT have Lifetime Insurance. You are neither an Original nor a Veteran Backer. This means the only way you can get a ship with Lifetime Insurance is to acquire one from one of the two groups of people listed above.

Here are a few more common questions:

Q: If I sell a ship with Lifetime Insurance in the game, what happens to the insurance?
A: The Lifetime Insurance is associated with the hull. The Lifetime Insurance will go with the ship.

Q: If I steal a ship with Lifetime insurance in the game, what happens to the insurance?
A: Stolen ships are uninsurable, period. Therefore, the Lifetime Insurance does not go with the stolen ship.

Q: I didn't qualify under questions 1 or 2 above. If I am gifted a ship with Lifetime Insurance, does that mean any other ship I buy also has Lifetime Insurance?
A: No. Only Original or Lifetime Backers have access to Lifetime Insurance on new ships. I believe if you "melt" a ship with Lifetime Insurance to upgrade it to a higher-tier ship, then the new higher-tier ship should have Lifetime Insurance. If you keep the original ship and just buy a second ship, that second ship will NOT have Lifetime Insurance since you didn't qualify under questions 1 or 2 above. "Melting" ships to upgrade will only last until the ship is used in the game.

Q: Does flying in the alpha count as "using the ship in the game"? How about modifying it in the hangar app?
A: I do not know, but I believe the answer will be 'yes'. I don't believe modifying it in the hangar app will count as being 'used'.

Q: I heard Lifetime Insurance works everywhere, but regular hull insurance does not?
A; Sorry, you've been trolled. There is absolutely no difference between LTI hull insurance and hull insurance you pay by the month/quarter/year. None.

Q: I heard hull insurance doesn't work everywhere?
A: Hull insurance works everywhere. The July 2013 issue of Jump Point had some fiction in it suggesting loss of your ship in certain high-security military areas would void your hull insurance. This was fiction. Some early conversations about hull insurance implied it might not work everywhere. Rest assured, hull insurance works in UEE space, Vanduul pace, pirate space, and everywhere else. This is confirmed here. The only way to get your hull insurance voided is by insurance fraud.

You can probably think of a million ways to game an insurance system. The most obvious of these is to let your friend board and capture your ship. She/he gets your ship and you file an insurance claim. Well, your friend will be hunted like a dog by the UEE and civilian bounty hunters. If you do such things too often, you'll lose your insurance (even if you have LTI).

Chris Roberts and other CIG staffers have repeatedly said insurance fraud will be a huge focus of the CIG team and will be dealt with VERY harshly. So while you can think of ways to game the system, I suggest you don't risk your wealth or account doing it.

Factions and species  
(Human factions are peripherally described in the Time Capsule articles, summarized at the bottom here, and other fiction.)

Banu Protectorate: ('BAH-new' Current concepts) Each Banu world is independent with it's own government. The Banu's specialty is trade. Because anything can be bought for a price in Banu space, it is often a refuge for human criminal elements. CIG's take. They have five more senses than humans, which include some sense of knowing whether their trading counterparty is being honest. They are very long-lived, so it's difficult to tell how they are aging. (Note: The canned video said three, the live discussion after said five.)

Xi’An Empire: ('SHEE-ahn' No art.) Formerly hostile but friendlier now. Trade relations exist between the Xi'An and humans, but past warfare makes both sides a little tense. The Xi'An/Human relationship is often compared to NATO/Russia in the Cold War, but I think it's a little more like USA/China now. Friendly, trading, but armed to the teeth and wary of each other. CIG's take.

Vanduul: (like 'van-drool' without the 'r'. Current art concept.)This aggressive, warlike civilization are the "bad guys" in Star Citizen. Uninterested in conversation, interested in conflict. Think Klingons in the original Star Trek series crossed with the Kilrathi from the Wing Commander series. The Vanduul are nomadic and as happy fighting amongst themselves as they are fighting humans. CIG's take.

Kr’Thak: ('ker-thack' No art.) Little is known as they were only recently discovered. Intriguingly, the only access from human space to Kr.Thak space is through the Xi'An, which aren't thrilled about humans making friends. The Xi'An and Kr'Thak were involved in a multi-century conflict called the Spirit Wars. I expect more than a few explorers will make a beeline for Kr'Thak space when Star Citizen launches. You might find my Connie amongst them.

Tevarin: ('TEV-are-in' No art.) The first extra-terrestrial species we met. They attacked and, over the span of two wars, we wiped their civilization out and appropriated their planets. The species still exists, woven into UEE life -- but they don't forget they were wiped out. This species is something of a cross between Japanese samurai and American Indians, those much less functional in society than either is in modern times. CIG's take.
Death in Star Citizen  
Players do not suffer permanent death ("perma death"). A player's character is a different matter...

If your character dies in game, it will be fixed via the advanced medical technology of the 40th Century. It might end up with some cybernetic implants, but it will be fixed. This won't go on forever, though, and eventually the character's body will die. There are also some game mechanics (brainshots, pod destruction, jumpgate navigation accidents) where the body is always unrepairable.

In that situation, all your character's possessions will be transferred to the next of kin you created when you create your original character. Its existing Citizenship level will transfer, but at a slightly reduced level. No word yet on whether contracts will also pass to the next-of-kin.

Chris Roberts created a very long and detailed description of the Star Citizen death penalty mechanic called "Death of a Spaceman". It's required reading on this topic.
Universe size  
There will be over 115 systems in the Star Citizen universe at launch (15 were added between the first and second live stream events). If you are familiar with the Privateer and Freelancer universes, you know each system typically contains multiple planets, bases, and/or key features. Each system will also contain one or more "jump point" connections to one or more other systems. Some of these jump points will be mapped, some will be hidden for explorers to discover and name.

An early coding prototype of the star map was revealed during the June 28, 2013 stream event. This is not final artwork or final names. It is only a coding prototype. Conversations during this stream make it clear people should not assume the number of jumps between systems reflected in the prototype will be what is in the released game.

New systems will come online as players discover new jump hole access or as part of the regular Star Citizen content and storyline updates. New system introductions will be part of how the universe is balanced and playability it maintained regardless of the number of players.

In an interview on December 5, 2012, Chris Roberts responded to a question about universe size. He said the universe would be large, but would not be based upon real-world time and distance -- otherwise it would take hours to travel from a jump point to a planet in the system. That said, he said to jump from end to end of the known galaxy would take significant time -- probably 15 jumps with 30 minutes per system IF you didn't end up in combat, which he said would he highly unlikely. I take that to mean any traverse of the entire galaxy would take around a half a day in Earth time. Since this is a balancing issue, it is subject to change.
Smuggling and Pirating  
I find this recurring question very odd, but then I've played all Chris' space games and have read all the fictional content. I've also been around since day 3-4 of the RSI site going live back in September 2012.

Of course there will smuggling and piracy. For details, read between the lines of the insurance segment above and this excellent Spectrum Dispatch on the RSI website. A full discussion of this subject delves into the PvP (player versus player) and PvE (player versus environment) question, which I'll tackle at some point (Short answer: Both, please).

For now, the entire CIG team has clearly stated they want to create a universe where griefing and ganking is balanced via the universe's engine. In the large number of hours I've spent watching the CIG team, they are consistent about this point and I believe they'll pull it off despite many skeptics.
Monthly subscription  
Towards the end of the pledge drive, RSI created the ability for people to become monthly subscribers to the game. This is not necessary and the game will NOT require a monthly subscription upon release. Monthly subscribers get some additional content, notably the Jump Point magazine, and some other content sooner than those who do not subscribe.

Fellow chat user Rod Serling created this graphic to help you know whether you have a recurring subscription.
I want to upgrade and/or change/merge/digitize/undigitize/gift stuff I bought  

We get a ton of questions about this in chat. If your question is about alpha/beta access after you melt something, scroll up and read that section (we have questions about alpha/beta access in to CIG support). If your question is about Long Term Insurance, scroll up and read that section.

Please give CIG support a break and do not email them constantly about this subject or make any more work for them than necessary. At the very least, read this first. If you absolutely have to bother them, you can email them here.

What does [insert ship here] look like or what are the specs?  
Every ship spec will change... not might change, but will change during the balancing that occurs as part of the alpha and beta testing.

If you want side-by-side technical comparisons for all the ships, there are two excellent Google Spreadsheets developed by fans. One available here and the other is here..

For general specifications, head to the "About the Game" link and scroll down quite a ways. Also, the excellent Ship Component Systems post. NOTE: Not all ships have brochures or commercials. Only those with the posted links here. It takes many weeks to create a ship, which is why not all ships have brochures or even finalized artwork yet.
Roberts Space Industries

The base or beginning ship for most people entering the Star Citizen universe. This vessel comes in four variants: The Essential (ES) is the low-cost base frame with which you can start customizing for specific mission types. The Marque (MR) is the space combat variant featuring red hull markings. The Clipper (CL) is an orange-striped merchant variant, heavy on shields and cargo space. The Deluxe (LX ) has rich brown undermarkings described as suitable for exploration or light mercantile use. Of note, equipment is interchangeable between the Constellation and the Aurora, which is why many Connie owners bought Auroras.
Aegis Dynamics

The Avenger is the first ship you'll fly in the Squadron 42 campaign. Aerodynamic in a way most other ships are not, it's unique style is more reminicent of atmospheric craft than space vessels. I consider it a cross between a fighter and a cargo ship, targeted to the Bounty Hunter. Variants of the Avenger like with the Aurora and 300 series are forthcoming.  
300 series
Origin Jumpworks

Fast, sleek, well-engineered. Priced to match. Complete series information. The BMW 3-series of spacecraft. Subscribers can also access the first edition of Jump Point for early design concepts. Wallpaper shots.
Anvil Aerospace

This is the UEE Navy's basic military fighter. Not much cargo space, but a meaningful threat in ship-to-ship combat. This ship appears in nearly everything since it was the first human vessel to make it in the engine. You can look at the very cool design progressions for this ship. Variants of this ship (like with the Aurora and 300 series) are forthcoming.  
Musashi Industrial & Starflight Concern
If you read the Kid Crimson fiction, this is his ship. This is a workhorse exploration and cargo ship that will end up seeing many roles in the Star Citizen universe. The second draft design iteration is here. Variants of this ship (like with the Aurora and 300 series) are forthcoming.  
Roberts Space Industries

Nicknamed 'Connie', this ship is perhaps the most flexible design of all the smaller craft. Check how to load cargo here. Crewed by 4, this will be variously used as a miner, fighter, hauler, and who knows what. It carries the P52 'Sun Viper' , so it's two ships in one. (Some folks, less accurately, call the Constellation the 'Stella'.) Variants of this ship (like with the Aurora and 300 series) are forthcoming.
Gladiator Bomber
Anvil Aerospace

This is the civilian version of the UEE Navy's primary carrier-based bomber. Configurable for both bombs and torpedoes, this ship is tuned for combat with big ships and installations and not much else. That said, the bomb racks can be removed for cargo and the rear turret can be replaced with a tractor beam for salvage operations. Some updated specs.  
Origin Jumpworks
This interceptor or racer is the Ferrari of the ships. Fastest ship in the galaxy once upgraded for speed (yes, faster than the 350r) The M50 sacrifices weapons and armor for speed. Some early concept art. Variants of this ship (like with the Aurora and 300 series) are forthcoming.  
Musashi Industrial & Starflight Concern

Billed as the "galaxy's primary fuel transporter", this ship will be modified into many different roles in the game. About the only thing it won't be is a fighter. If you need commerce done in large quantities, the Starfarer is probably your ship. FYI, the Starfarer will be able to refine fuel and act as a tanker for other ships. The tanks in the concept art can be swapped out for cargo boxes.  
Aegis Dynamics

The UEE Navy's heavy bomber. Too large to fly off anything but Bengal-class carriers or fixed planet/station installations, this distinctive tank of a spacecraft excels at dealing damage. For civilian use, internal firepower is removed for cargo and a few have even been fitted as long-distance people haulers. Some updated specs.  
Drake Interplanetary

The favorite ship of the pirate class. Sold to local system militias as a point defense and search and rescue ship it, like all Drake designs it is really designed for piracy. Ironically, the nickname for this feared craft is "Lassie". Some early art for this ship can be found here and here (this second image disappeared off the RSI site so I link to a fan site)  
Drake Interplanetary

Often described as the "evil twin" of the Freelancer, the Caterpillar is a different breed. It is 20% larger than the Freelancer, more heavily armored, and with a modular design that makes it quite flexible. A favorite choice of pirates, it can often be seen trailing formations of Lassies to carry out boarding missions and help transport pirated cargo. If you find one alone, however, it's probably easy pickings -- if you dare. The blades on the front are functional, the guns articulate out of the way, and the front docking collar makes boarding operations easier.  
Idris-class Corvette
Aegis Dynamics

There were 101 full military versions (Idris-M) sold during the initial pledge drive for $1,000. During the June 29, 2013 pledge drive, 150 of a lesser version (Idris-P) were made available for $1,250 and sold out in 9 minutes. An added 50 was offered shortly thereafter and sold out in 6 minutes. There was a hint there may be a 3rd model (base model) also sold for cash during the Cit-Con in October 2013. Fortunately, you can also acquire and outfit them with Galactic credits, though expect them to be expensive. Here are some shots and the specs, plus a screen cap of the cutaway .These ships will have the ability to hold 3 small ships (3 Hornets or smaller) in their launch bay (Scythes will not fit).. There is some disagreement whether the Idris is a capital ship -- and therefore not placeable in a hangar so it must reside in open space 24/7/365. This will be a favorite of the squadrons. To answer a common question, the Idris-P is upgradeable to the Idris-M, but expect the necessary guns and mounts to be very expensive and hard to find.  

Vanduul Scythe Fighter

Here is some concept art and work-in-progress for the Vanduul fighter, which can also be seen in most combat videos (though it's capabilities were crippled in early videos. The Vanduul fighter was confirmed by Chris Roberts during the telethon to have 12 thrusters, 7 missiles, fixed weaponry, and the asymmetric "blade" wing is reinforced for ramming. This is the only ship on this list (other than the two below) you cannot easily acquire with Galactic credits. If you did not buy it during the pledge drive, you will have to subdue and capture this one in the wild if you want to fly it. If you bought a Vanduul during the pledge drive, congrats - they are the only Vanduul with lifetime insurance ever. Captured ships, including the Vanduul fighters, are uninsurable.  
Destroyer (Cruiser)

Earned during the pledge drive, we have next to zero information about this class of vessel. We're also not 100% certain whether "destroyer" and "cruiser" are different vessel types or the terms were used interchangeably by CIG staffers. The $12M stretch goal has a typo regarding Destroyers. The $12M goal is not to make them flyable by human players (that was the earlier goal), it is to create the CNC feature.  
Escort Carrier A monetary milestone goal. All we know about this ship is it will be player flyable. Traditionally, escort carriers can hold a minimal number of fighters and generally play a support role.  
Bengal-class Carrier See below for details on this ship.  
"That Red Ship"

The Red Ship in the videos and other images is just a placeholder. Chris saw it on and liked it, so he bought it as filler during some of the designs. No current plans to produce it in game, though several people expressed interest in having it.


The Bengal class human-species carrier became unlocked for player control when funding reached the $5.5M goal. It is important to realize the Bengal carrier cannot be bought with cash or Galactic credit. It must be captured. Chris Roberts said during the telethon there would only be "2-3 carriers per species" in the game universe for the foreseeable future. This means there won't be a ton of carriers running around operated by other players. Because it is only acquirable via capture, these vessels will be impossible to insure.

It should also be noted there will be Vanduul carriers. The backstory of the Vanduul fighters that were purchaseable during the pledge drive suggested this, and it was confirmed.

Many of us believe what Chris meant was there will only be 1-2 carriers per species that will be capturable. We'll see how that develops and see if we are correct. From everything Chris has said about how the game balancing will work, if a couple of player factions get control of carriers and it starts wrecking the galaxy (persistent, unbreakable blockades around key jump points or systems, for example), the AI will tune up and start doing something about it.

Carriers are too big to be docked or garaged. If you own one, you'll have to provide for its defense 24 hours with friends or hired NPCs. Since you cannot "log out" of a Bengal, you cannot hibernate a Bengal. If you fly your captured Bengal into UEE-controlled space, expect the UEE to try and take it back.

Ship's crew and hiring NPCs  
Several of the ships above have multiple crewmembers. Anything Starfarer and smaller can absolutely be flown by one human. The Idris is currently an open question, but it is likely a single person can operate that. You will be able to hire NPCs to crew your ship. Your friends will be able to serve as crew in your ship. Inside the game, you can hire human players you don't know to crew on your ship.

If you own more than one ship, you will be able to hire NPCs to fly and crew them. While you'll have to be logged in for this, you can even have an NPC crew flying one of your ships in a completely different sector of space.

The number of crew and the total number of people a ship can carry is a different number. All but the smallest ships can have more people wandering around than crew, especially if you've modified your ship with the proper cargo-area modifications to operate as a passenger carrier (think "Space Bus").

Good NPCs will cost more than bad NPCs. We assume if you hire a human crewmember, you will have some protection against them going all Stephen Maryk on you (if you don't know that reference, call your high school American Lit teacher and ask for a refund).
Instances, high ping, lag, and ex-US servers  
First, if you're asking this question you really need to read this article first. I'm not going to try and repeat everything Chris said there and if you understood what he said, you won't need to read this. I'm presenting this in the hopes of making sure we all talk about this subject with the same terminology.

Every player around the globe wanders around in Star Citizen on the Star Citizen Galaxy Server. The Galaxy Server will have all the data on the galaxy (obviously), including the systems and the economy. It is also the central repository of all your in-game character's data -- ship(s), credits, reputation, etc.

Star Citizen will not run on "shards". When you encounter other players in a potential combat situation, this will happen in an "instance" that lasts only as long as the combat situation lasts. When the combat situation ends, the results are posted to the Galaxy Server. This means every player contact with other players or NPCs affects the entire galaxy. From a network architecture perspective, these instances will occur on servers scattered across the globe. But once the instance is over, all data are copied back to the central Galaxy Server.

Planets and systems do not have their own instances. This is a common misconception. Planets and systems are hosted on the Galaxy Server. Only encounters (combat) have instances. You don't own a manufacturing plant in an instance. That plant exists on the Galaxy Server. (Incidentally, Chris Robers confirmed all this in Wingman's Hangar Episode #29.)

Individual (real world) countries or continents do not have their own instances. Residents there will also be on the Galaxy Server. There will be instance servers located at key geographic centers in order to reduce ping and lag. Again, once the instance is over, the results are posted back to the Galaxy Server.

With potentially a few million players on the Galaxy Server, there is no currently existing hardware and network architecture that could service the multitude of potential combat scenarios for a detailed world like Star Citizen. So when the fur starts flying, which is when server horsepower is necessary to prevent lag, CIG drops that furball out into an instance.

Instance servers will be scattered across the US and the globe in proportion to the number of players in the geography. How this is handled in the final will be a matter of some art by the CIG team, but essentially what it means is that no fight will be larger than around 50-80 ships. Your friends/squadron mates flying with you at the time will end up in the same instance you are in. Instances will also feature matching by your ping, which will be a nice balancing feature. There is a limit as to how many friends/hired NPCs you can bring into an instance.

Instance servers have been confirmed for Europe, North America, Australia/Oceania. Asia is also a possibility.

There are aspects of how all this works is unknown at the moment.If two forces of 200 ships each end up in the same fight, that fight will be split out into 3-4 instances and, in a method to be determined later, the outcome will be merged back onto the Galaxy Server. For example,. let's say two 100-player factions -- each with a Bengal carrier -- gets into a furball in the same system. The game splits that up into 4 instances of 50 pilots each. Which of those four instances gets the Bengals? Do all four get the Bengals? So what happens if in one of the four instances the Bengal on the opposing team is captured but not in the other three? Or in two instances Faction A captures Faction B's Bengal and in two instances Faction B captures Faction A's opposing Bengal.

See, lots of questions that we'll have to wait for answers. The important thing to understand at this point is we all live on the same Galaxy Server - there are no shards. Combat will happen in instances, with instance servers distributed across the globe to reduce ping-based lag.
"Service Guarantees Citizenship" is a memorable line from the Starship Troopers movie series. It also describes a core tenet of the Star Citizen universe. The name should make that obvious. Citizenship can be earned in the game. Most people will do this by entering the universe via the Squadron 42 stand-alone game. Service in the military will earn you Galactic credits, perhaps a ship, and citizenship at a level that varies depending on choices you make during the Squadron 42 game.

Citizenship has Galaxy-wide implications. If you send out a distress call when attacked, NPC elements will respond faster if you have a high citizenship level. Players with low or negative citizenship levels may have trouble entering and being serviced in heavily-policed areas. Players with high citizenship levels may get the cold shoulder or immediately attacked in outlaw/pirate areas.

Your citizenship level will change depending on the choices you make in game. Take jobs at the request of the government and your citizenship level will rise. Consistently and successfully respond to distress calls and your citizenship level will rise. Traffic in narcotics, slavery or perform piracy and your citizenship level will drop.

Those who pledged during the campaign earned citizenship cards of varying levels. There is some controversy whether this citizenship level transfers over to the game. At one point during the telethon Chris said that pledges would not buy a specific level of citizenship. Some took that to mean the citizenship cards paid for during the pledge drive have no meaning in the game. My understanding of the context of that answer was that while the card level you obtained during the pledge drive does transfer over, your actions modify your citizenship level from there. Chris also hinted several hours later in the telethon that citizenship levels (or citizenship 'papers') might be purchaseable on the black market for Galactic credits. There are many people who take it to mean the levels on the citizenship card are meaningless and that everyone starts at zero in the game.

I've asked members of the dev team whether everyone starts at zero or whether people start at their pledge card level and then go up and down from there. The initial answer (from Wingman) was he thought people start at their pledge level but that this was a really good question to ask Chris and the rest of the team because it required some thought.

Regardless of the above paragraph, we know that citizenship levels will affect game play and some early specifics on how that will work.
Multiple characters  
This was answered definitively in April 2013 in the post describing how character naming would work. Multiple characters are allowed per account.

People want multiple characters so they can have one character who is good and one character who is evil (for example) sharing the same goodies. The "sharing the same goodies" part is the key here, otherwise they could just create an alt account and have one account "good" and one account "evil."

Personal opinion here: I have no problem with multiple characters as long as they DO NOT share goodies. Allowing good and evil characters to share the same goodies breaks fiction in the game (see 'Citizenship' above). Make them separate characters with separate garages, bank accounts and, importantly, ban them from trading with each other. Under those conditions, people can have all the separate characters they want in the same account.

We do not yet know whether "goodies" will be shared between accounts or not. And yes, since every item in the game has a unique serial number it is relatively easy to prevent sharing from occurring.
Boarding will be allowed in the game. This requires hand-to-hand FPS-style combat within a ship that you attach airlock-to-airlock after they are completely disabled. Not currently clear is how you board/capture a ship (i.e. the Vanduul fighters) with no airlock.

The best explanation of boarding can be found in this post on the RSI web site.

Tractor beams will be used in boarding. They cannot stop a powered vehicle. Trying to tractor a moving vehicle will do damage to the tractor beam and the tractoring vessel. Tractor beams will only work on non-powered or disabled objects.
The economy, earning Galactic credits, & the Galactic credit conversion rate  
If you want to hear what I have to say about the game economy, check out my blog. There is also this initial post on the Star Citizen economy.

There are lots of misconceptions here, so I wanted to deal with a few...

We do not know how many Galactic credits you can purchase per US$1. Chris has used, a number of times, the $1:1,000 example. When you read or listen to his context, this is purely an example and nothing more. Claiming the rate "will be" $1:1,000 or that exchange gives us the "order of magnitude" of the conversion is just plain false.

On April 24, 2013 CIG released the Aurora brochure. Some folks thought the associated web page implied a 2,000 credits per $1 exchange rate. In chatroll the same day, I confirmed with Lead Designer Rob Irving this was not the case and it was too early to be thinking about a real currency/Galactic Credit exchange rate.

On the June 2013 Live Stream, Chris Roberts said there was nothing set in stone but 1,000 credits would be enough to get you fueled, docking fees, initial cargo, and a stake to get you going. It would not be enough to buy any ship or any meaningful weapons or other ship upgrade.

You will not need a ship to make money in the Star Citizen universe. It will be easier, especially at first while the economy is maturing, but not required. You will be able to make money "working" in other businesses, setting up your own service shop, crewing on other people's spacecraft, manufacturing, and (especially) military service.

The Star Citizen economy will be able to function on its own without human intervention, run completely by NPC characters. Once human players get involved, however, the economy will start to alter based upon the actions of human players.

In a chat appearance in February 2013, Lead Designer Rob Irving disclosed that each system will have it's own economy. This has huge implications for both game design and game play. Also to be designed is whether there will be one currency, one currency per race, regional currencies, and one currency per system. These comments are a bit of a Big Deal given the vast majority of players in a 2013 survey done by CIG plan their characters to be tied closely to the game economy.

There are not faster-than-light communications in the game. This means exchanges will cover no more than one system. Pigeon drones will carry contract requests from system to system, which may well cause some problems.

Manufacturing is allowed in the game. Humans will not be allowed to manufacture ships, but most everything else is fair game. There are no skill trees in Star Citizen, so manufacturing will be much different than in other games -- particularly other MMOs. My blog post here has some insights into this. In a PC Gamer interview in April 2013, Chris Roberts provided some of the best early details on the game economy.

Revenue model (Star Citizen is not pay-to-win)  

If you pledged the proper minimum amount ($35 during the initial drive, higher afterwards), you get Star Citizen free permanently. You also get the separate-but-related single-player game Squadron 42 for free. (If you pledged during the original pledge drive, you get the first "add-on mission pack" for Squadron 42 also for free.

That's a bunch of free, so it is worth discussing what CIG's revenue model looks like so they can keep that Galaxy Server and all the Instance Servers running. CIG will have ongoing revenue from the following sources:

  1. Anyone who did not pledge will need to purchase Squadron 42. That will probably be around $60.
  2. Payment for any additional Squadron 42 mission packs. Major mission packs will come out 2-3 times a year, with smaller new releases between the big ones.
  3. Anyone who did not pledge will need to pay to get into the Star Citizen galaxy.
  4. People can buy Galactic Credits (in-game credits) with cash. It has been repeatedly stated the amount of Galactic Credits that can be purchased with cash in a given month is limited. Also, there are no non-cosmetic items purchasable with cash that you cannot earn in the game with hard work. Chris Roberts is clear, however, that he feels people who don't have 40 hours a week to game should be able to use cash instead.
  5. There will be cosmetic items that have zero effect on gameplay that will be purchaseable only with cash.

Personal opinion here: I expect CIG will come up with many (other ways to boost their revenues as their business model develops. Those who worry the cash flow model is not sustainable should take some comfort from the fact mod servers are an integral part of the Star Citizen development process. In interviews, Chris has explicitly stated one reason he strongly supports mod servers is players will still have a home even if the "official" servers go dark. He uses as an example the fact that nine years after the publication of Freelancer, there is still an active player base on mod servers despite the fact Microsoft switched off the official servers years ago.

In another note, Chris has talked about World of Tanks quite often. He noted on the June 2013 live stream he sees WoT as pay-to-win despite's claims to the contrary. As someone with an embarrassingly large number of hours spent in WoT, I 100% agree. It's impossible to play WoT at higher tiers without either a premium account or a premium tank to earn credits. I wrote a blog article with more details on this.

If you still think Star Citizen is pay-to-win, well then accept this as a small, humorous token...

Who Will I Be Fighting? (PVP or PVE and the "slider")  
The short and 100% accurate answer to this question is, "Both humans and AI opponents."

Because most other games get PVP (Player Versus Player, or humans versus humans) wrong, many gamers interested in Star Citizen are worried about PVP. Since gamers who excel in PVP are often, but not always, snotty and condescending, the flame wars on the forums about this are many and obnoxious. This makes people who prefer PVE (Player Versus Environment, or humans versus computer AI) even more certain they don't want to have to deal with PVP. All players will end up fighting humans in the Star Citizen universe , however. CIG has made this design choice

Star Citizen will feature a PVP vs PVE "slider". This slider will be adjustable only at the start of each gaming session (i.e. you can't change it just before/after you hit a jump point). If you set it all the way to PVE, you will have a lower (but not zero) chance of seeing a human opponent in any given combat instance. If you set it to PVP, you will have a higher (but not 100%) chance of seeing a human opponent in any given combat instance. Some areas of space, purely by the ratio of human/NPC characters in that space, will be more likely to end up at one end of the PVP/PVE spectrum than the other.

Rewards in the game are likely to be higher for those who have set their slider to PVP. This "buff" will be minor and is likely to be most pronounced during certain CIG-generated "missions" in the Star Citizen universe.

If you don't want to ever fight a human, use a private server. If you want to have the lowest chance of fighting a human on the public server, set your slider to PVE and stay in areas of the universe with very little human presence.

What most people miss (or ignore because it doesn't fit their preconceived biases) about PVP/PVE in the Star Citizen universe is the game fiction is highly geared towards preventing abuse. The Advocacy, Bounty Hunter Guild, and Citizenship system are all created to penalize humans who prey on other humans. If a human pirate takes out a human shipper in UEE-controlled space, as but one example, that pirate will have a price put on his/her head for Bounty Hunters, be pursued by Advocates as a law-breaker, and have his/her Citizenship level reduced making it more difficult to even visit well-policed space. If that shipper sends out a distress call, human players who respond and drive off the pirate get Citizenship bonuses. If the shipper has a high Citizenship rating, local militia, Advocacy, and/or UEE craft will respond more quickly to that distress call.

How all this works, except for the first line in this entry, will be the subject of much balancing as the game is developed.
Golden Tickets  
For about a month prior to the October 10, 2012 (10-10-12) launch of the Star Citizen pledge drive, the RSI site was live. It wasn't really publicized anywhere as they were trying to stay under the radar. All we knew was Chris Roberts was up to something and that made those of us who are fans very excited.

If you registered on the RSI web site in the month prior to 10-10-12, you received a "Golden Ticket". The Golden Ticket provides the bearer with a special skin or insignia on his/her spaceship and first-in-line for the alpha & beta (assuming CIG doesn't dump all 200,000+ of the initial pledgers into alpha and beta at the precise same moment.)
The Star Citizen and Squadron 42 backstory  
I was going to spend some time compiling the backstory those of us who've been watching the project since its public beginning have enjoyed. Honestly, the prospect was a bit daunting so I have put it off.

Luckily for all of us, fellow RSI fan neuromancer has done the work for us. His fabulous GoogleDocs PDF is available here

Another great source for background into the game fiction are the Writer's Guide entries. Here is a link to entry 13, which has links to the prior 12 entries.
The Lamp  

During the last 24 hours of the initial pledge drive, the CIG team held a 24-hour "telethon" using live video feeds broadcast across the interwebs.

It was a joyous convergence of geek gaming for those of us who stuck around all 24 hours.

For those who did, the lamp Chris Roberts is holding became an icon. If you weren't there, you won't get it, so this FAQ won't try and explain it.

What this FAQ will say is Chris and multiple other people on the initial CIG team have confirmed The Lamp will have some cameo role in the Star Citizen universe. This is as it should be for those of us who love The Lamp.

Fellow Star Citizen fan UKDude recorded, ripped, and uploaded the entire initial telethon to YouTube.

the Lamp and Chris Roberts
(If you took this photo, please let me know so I can give you proper credit.)