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Star Citizen unveils new tools for digital hoarders

Space simulations are all about making a buck, and Chris Roberts' upcoming Star Citizen will be no different. Hauling freight will be one way to earn a steady income in the game, but until last week fans didn't know what the gameplay systems that governed it would be like. On Friday, the Star Citizen team unveiled their cargo interaction systems for the first time, along with five new spaceships.

Freight in the Star Citizen universe can mean anything, really — from the smallest items like guns and coffee cups, to semi-trailer-sized shipping containers. The team has put a lot of attention into giving players the ability to manipulate objects at various scales.

For small items, like pistols and picture frames, players will make use of the "Grabby Hands" system. Just look at an item and press 'F' to pick something up. The game will respond with a realistic movement to reach out, grab the item and bring it close to the player's body. Hit 'F' again and your avatar will reach back out and gingerly release the item at shoulder height.

But for a game with potentially hundreds or even thousands of unique in-game items, developer Cloud Imperium Games couldn't animate the pick-up and release animations for each. So the game's own in-built intelligence creates the animation on the fly, for one or both of the player's hands.

"Make no mistake, this is more than just a system for picking up and putting down objects," the blog post reads. "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!"

The goal, the post said, was to give players more ways to express themselves in the game world, both through the items they keep and where they place them, but also in how they manipulate objects during multiplayer interactions. They even showed the ability to unholster your weapon to fire, or unholster your weapon to place it on the ground and show you were disarming.

The system is so precise, players can even flip a coin manually in midair.

The post goes on to show a player moving objects into their ship with an antigravity palette, and unloading their tchotchkes all around. From the looks of it, you'll be able to decorate your starships in the same way you are able to decorate your homes in The Elder Scrolls games like Oblivion and Skyrim.

On the other end of the spectrum, players will need to be able to manipulate massive containers filled with raw materials like steel or fuel. This will be accomplished through cargo drones or "loader suits."

Once the cargo is loaded onto a freighter, players will then be able to keep track of it and even move it within the hold.

"Using the [cargo] manifest," the post said, "you can activate and deactivate locking plates (to jettison cargo), set orders for arranging cargo and see the effect that all of your items are having on your center of mass (unlike previous games, your ships’ performance will be tied to the mass and volume of what you decide to load aboard her!)"

In addition to the systems explanation, Roberts Space Industries also put up for early concept sale five new starships from the MISC line, named Hull-A through Hull-E. All relying on the same style of crew cabin, each spindly craft is designed to hold massive cargo containers on the exterior of the ship. When not carrying a load, the ships can telescope down to a shorter length for increased maneuverability.

The ships, which will be available as in-game purchasable items one day when the game goes live, are on sale now and range in price from $60 to $550 for the largest one. Right now, none of the Hull series ships are playable in-game, nor are they available to tour in the hangar module.

Polygon spent some time touring some of Star Citizen's more exotic ships, all stashed inside a hidden asteroid. For more, check out the video below.

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