How It Works Today and What’s in Store for the Future
Following the vision for life and death mechanics detailed in Death of a Spaceman, and the announcement of the new RSI Apollo medical ship, this design post will bring details and clarification about what future medical gameplay will entail. While some elements have evolved from the manifesto written a few years ago, it is still very much the basis for how players will experience injury and death in the persistent universe, so is still a relevant read.
Taking care of injured players is one of the several non-combat oriented careers in Star Citizen and is an important element in building a believable universe. It’s crucial for us to make it a fun and impactful part of the game.
How Health Works in Alpha 3.2
In Alpha 3.2, we’re using a damage system that consists of ‘critical’ and ‘standard’ limbs. Each limb has its own health pool alongside the player’s global health. When a limb takes damage, both tick down and, if the global pool hits zero, the player dies.
When a limb takes damage, it crosses through several states: Normal (blank) → Hurt (yellow) → Damaged (red) → Ruined (black)
Once a limb enters one of these states, it may implement a negative effect on the player. For example, if the head is damaged, the player’s vision is blurred. If a leg is ruined, movement speed is reduced.
The head and the torso are both ‘critical’ limbs – if the health of either of these reaches zero, the player dies immediately. If other limbs are ruined but the global health pool is above zero, the player remains alive. If these limbs are shot further while ruined, they suffer no additional damage, but the global health pool continues to tick down.
Bleeding out can occur when shot, but it is commonly applied when a limb has been ruined. Bleeding out is a damage-over-time effect that continues to tick down the player’s global health pool and only stops when the player heals or dies.
Currently, the only way to stop bleeding and heal is to use med-pens, which remove all negative effects and restore global and limb health to 100%. As it is, it’s a pretty basic system that doesn’t allow you to heal anyone but yourself, which is a big issue in terms of cooperative gameplay.
Getting Healed in the Future
In the future, planet-side medical locations and medical ships will bring different tiers of healing to the universe:
Tier 1 – Recover from near-death experiences and fatal injuries.
Tier 2 – Recover from serious injuries, such as multiple limb bleed-outs or ruined limbs.
Tier 3 – Recover from minor injuries, such as limbs being damaged.
While some injuries won’t fully heal until the player has received the correct level of treatment, the more basic medical facilities will still be able to keep non-fatally injured players alive and stop bleeding. However, it’s not recommended for any injured person to stay in a ‘semi-injured’ state for too long, as there will be consequences, such as reduced stamina. Staying in a damaged state for a long time will also make you weaker against further damage, so it should always be a priority to heal yourself as soon as possible to prevent future mishaps.
While recovering health by yourself (respawning or recovering from basic injuries in a medical outpost) will cost less, it may not be the best way to heal yourself depending on the scenario. Calling someone for help via the beacon service will still cost a fee (varying on the severity and/or the distance of the medical ship), but it may be the only way to fully recover from that injury.
New Mission Types
Future releases will include new missions centered around this more in-depth medical gameplay. Helping others is something that every player will be able to do to various degrees and with different rewards, but Medical ships naturally have an advantage for these missions.
Here is a small selection of possible mission types:
Deliver medical supplies, organs, samples, and more. Naturally, this can be done with any ship with cargo capabilities, but a medical ship has the facilities to keep organic and medical cargo maintained for longer.
Find injured people and heal them, or identify bodies and parts to help put together clues and uncover a wider story.
Go to a space station or heavily damaged ship to rescue people in an emergency situation. Survivors may have a variety of injuries, so while any ship with a seat can potentially fulfill the role, keeping patients alive for the return journey is where medical ships have an edge.
As is already the case in Alpha 3.2, the beacon system will also be used to notify you of any emergencies, be it from another player or automated through other means (NPC, mission, etc).
Arriving at the emergency location is not the only thing necessary to save lives, as you will also have to scan around you and sometimes even investigate a scene, as the injured person may have moved since the notification was sent.
In the near future, new respawn points will be introduced. Unlike the current system, dying or falling permanently unconscious in space or on a planet won’t mean that you’ll just respawn at your last visited location. Instead, you’ll respawn at a nearby medical station or on a medical ship.
Being near a major location like Hurston will give you the option to respawn in their dedicated facility, but dying on a remote moon would only give you the option of smaller medical outposts. Having a medical ship in the vicinity allows you to respawn there providing a bed is available, but this is only for a limited amount of time before returning you elsewhere.
As mentioned in Death of a Spaceman, the goal is still to show how many deaths and respawns your character has experienced, and for that to have a somewhat persistent effect over time.
Differences Between Medical Ships
While the newly announced RSI Apollo is the reason for this new design post, it is not the first medical ship we’ve announced so far.
The two other ships we’ve made for this career are not forgotten – in fact, all three provide distinct roles: The Apollo is a medium-sized clinic for uncharted regions, the Endeavor can be a complete hospital, and the Cutlass Red is a well-equipped ambulance and the entrance to the medical career. The player can graduate from one to another like other careers, or focus on perfecting using one. Like other roles, a ship might be more useful for specific missions, while another might play a wider role in the PU.
It’s your choice to make.