Star Citizen creatorsare talking up a big . Is it mass capital ship battles? Ship-to-ship boarding actions? Wookie co-pilots? No, it is none of these things.
It is a new 'Grabby Hands' system for moving cargo around. Okay, to be fair, the development team realises this isn't the sexiest subject to discuss, but they have good reasons for doing so.
“The average pilot would be forgiven for having more interest in a dogfighting module than a cargo demo,” they admit, “but the reality is, cargo is deeply important to expanding Star Citizen’s gameplay. Whether you’re using it to customize your environment, to build a shipping empire or to run black market goods from Advocacy patrols, a comprehensive cargo system is going to enable Star Citizen to build a real world full of varied gameplay opportunities.”
Cloud Imperium doesn't want transporting goods to be an abstract activity, dealt with via dry spreadsheets and numbers. They want you to feel like you're actually getting down and dirty, giving your physical interactions with the objects in the game world real weight.
Hence, the amusingly named 'Grabby Hands' system. This allows the player to interact relatively realistically with items of various sizes; first you'll tap a button to 'stick' the item to your hand. Studying the item and pressing the button again will enter a “precision placement mode”, which will allow you to rotate and ultimately place the item carefully where you want it to go.
“Make no mistake,” says Cloud Imperium, “this is more than just a system for picking up and putting down objects. With this process in place, we don’t need to create a unique animation for every single object in the universe; the game adapts to interact with what you’re doing, the way you want!”
There's more information, and a batch of videos like the one above demonstrating the movement system, over on the Star Citizen. ambitious project is expected to release in full next year.