Fergus couldn’t believe the moves the Cutlass pilot was putting on his partner’s Hornet. Between his service in the UEE and his current gig with Galactic Security & Escort, Fergus had tangled with hundreds of ‘Lassies but this one didn’t move like anything he’d ever seen. He had a unique view of the action, floating in space amid the wreckage of his 300i. “I’m going to miss that boat,” Fergus was thinking just as the pirate pirouetted around the z‑axis faster than he’d ever seen a ‘Lassie move. His partner tried to pivot his Hornet away, but it was no use and the Hornet went up in flames. Fergus glanced across at the Starfarer they were supposed to be protecting. They’d delayed the Cutlass, but not long enough. There was no way the Starfarer was going to make it to the jump point before the Cutlass caught it. The Starfarer captain must have done the same math since cargo modules started streaming out of its bay. The Cutlass pilot tractored what he could fit and fled before any UEE or GSE ships could arrive. Fergus checked his suit’s readouts to make sure his rescue beacon was on and settled in to wait for the rescue boat.
We don’t know for certain what CIG has in store for equipment customization. We know players will be able to mix and match different modules on the various ships’ hardpoints. We have hints, but no confirmation yet, that players will be able to customize the performance of the individual modules. Shift a setting here, tweak a subroutine there and a savvy pilot could meaningfully alter a ship’s performance – allowing it to make unexpected maneuvers during dogfights or even optimize other ship functions.
This post assumes this sort of tweaking will be something CIG allows in Star Citizen.
Most Star Citizen fans reading this blog are familiar with tweaks a savvy user can perform on a computer. Overclocking, fiddling with BIOS settings, fooling with memory settings, optimizing network protocols – the list is pretty endless. Users can develop this expertise through trial and error and/or by reading guides posted on the web.
However, there are lots of not-so-expert folks more than willing to pay experts to do this tweaking for them. I expect the same thing will be true in the Star Citizen universe when it comes to tweaking ship components.
If I’m right and CIG enables component tweaking, it creates an economic opportunity for players who enjoy tweaking ship systems. A pilot could swing by “Kaylee’s Shiny Tweak Shop” and buy services from an expert Tweaker. The pilot would leave his/her ship in the care of the Tweaker, who would perform setting changes according to the wishes of the pilot.
Some Tweakers would specialize in tweaking for combat – maneuverability, weapons, and shields. Another Tweaker could optimize electronics for explorers looking to find new jump holes. A Tweaker with a fondness for miners could buff equipment used in detecting and retrieving certain types of ores. Name a ship function and a Tweaker could develop saleable services to help pilots perform that function.
The tricky part of this economic pursuit, at least from the CIG side, is how to handle the contract between the parties. No pilot wants to pay for a tweak that doesn’t work. Performance gains are also highly subject to pilot perception, so determining payment based upon a “test run” won’t work. Sadly, a pilot could deny seeing a performance change just to skip out on a Tweaker’s bill. Because of this, contracts between Tweaker and pilot can’t really be left to payments based upon pilot perception.
If there is to be a Tweaker economy, CIG has to create the ability for pilots and Tweakers to see numeric baseline and post-tweak performance data for a ship and its systems. Tweakers could examine a prospective customer’s baseline data and create a contract based upon what delta the Tweaker thought he/she could create. The pilot would review the offered delta and bargain accordingly for a fair price. If the claimed delta was delivered by the Tweaker, the contract would be completed by deducting the agreed amount from the pilot’s account. If the claimed delta wasn’t delivered, either the contract would be renegotiated for a smaller payment or the Tweaker could reverse the tweaks, cancel the contract, and hand the ship back unchanged to the pilot.
I strongly believe Star Citizen must create economic opportunities for people who don’t always (or ever) want to pilot a ship. More bodies in the game make it less likely players will get bored. It also means more people adding their contributions to the collective, creating a stronger game universe. That’s good for all players and good business for CIG.