The demo is currently rather simple. You launch, you lock missiles onto a target (hopefully not a friendly one!), and fire. Or you can use your guns to take it out. Fight enough waves and you'll get a tougher mob. Do this again and again forever or, as I was told almost every time I ran out of missiles, just eject and get a new ship!
The ship I used was pre-assembled and the controls were fairly basic. Normally you can customize your craft, but the demo emphasizes the shooting a lot more, so both the ship and its controls were relatively simple. If I had wanted to make things more complex, the option was certainly there, but for the most part, I was just flying around killing bad guys. It took awhile to get used to it, though, and it wasn't until a little before Roberts arrived that I realized my ship was kind of drifting, a point he took pride in.
It has a basic idea of what you're trying to do and the thrusters... um, thrust in that fashion. You can get a bit more control over that if you want, but the game helps you out. Roberts explained that he wants people like me, staring in awe from the sidelines, to be able to jump in and play without feeling truly terrified by all the minute details the game has (and it has a lot of attention to detail). At the same time, they want the rocket scientists out there to be able to enjoy themselves, too.
So far, it sounds like it's working. Roberts says that feedback from the recently released Arena Commander module has touched on movement issues quite a bit. There's been a good amount of resistance when people first realize that movement feels different, but after playing with it for awhile, he says, they adjust. And it's true, if I'm any indication, though I'm a novice to the genre so maybe that's why I feel flexible about the issue.
The rough spots are expected, Roberts said, especially when dealing with the public, but the basic idea is that a lot of players, when they're upset, are upset because they want to play the game. Yes, they gave money and they have expectations, but it's not like they're looking for an immediate return or want the game to ship half-completed, they're just anxious to get their hands on the product they paid for even if it's still being built.
One interesting thing to note is how Roberts asks his team to sort through feedback. If a team member reads feedback that personally resonates, said feedback should be prioritized. On the one hand, you could argue that this allows the team to focus only on their own goals. However, the devs I spoke to were passionate about not only the space sim genre but games in general. I spent a good chunk of time talking to Cloud Imperium staffers about MMOs and horror survival games, and I came away with the feeling that Star Citizen is being made by gamers for gamers.
I'm not currently a Star Citizen backer, so I don't really have a need to talk up the game, but after my demo and chat session, maybe that needs to change.
Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-12, bringing you all the best news from E3 2014. We're covering everything from WildStar and Landmark to Skyforge and H1Z1, so stay tuned!