Star Citizen "Grabby Hands"



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.

Grabby Hands Demo Video

“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.

Coin Flip Demo Video

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.

Home Decor Demo Video

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.



This is the kind of stuff that really worries me about Star Citizen.

This article (from themselves) is written as if this is a new system or that other publishers can’t get a similar design to work. The reason they don’t launch with stuff like this is time and quality standards.

It seems very difficult to make something like this work glitch free. Think of all the “simple” animations and models in other games. Problems with clipping, jerking, etc.

This is the type of feature that gets cut by a PM because dedicating months to making it work right has a very low return on actual game experience. Does Star Citizen have that kind of discipline or are they just running wild with their millions of free dollars?


The more and more I research about Star Citizen, my concerns diminish. It seems that although the funding is less then typical for a title of this nature, the rest of the company and development is progressing in a very professional manner.

I am optimistic that we will see some of these difficult to get right features in the final game because they are not bound by the same “rules” as a VC funded project.


They are…[quote=“Vocino, post:2, topic:5832”]
just running wild with their millions of free dollars?


The problem then is no longer “can they do it?” and instead becomes “can they get that product to market before everyone stops giving a damn or someone does something similar and in a significantly more timely manner?”

I’m pulling for them; I want this game to kick ass, but they need to make sure they don’t dawdle and fantasize overmuch in the finite details with subsequent claims and promises to their community so much so that they miss their opportunity to launch the title while there’s still interest/buzz for it, nevermind an embittered fanbase.


I feel like they have set the standard elevated my personal expectations for development/pre-launch community management. They are hitting all points and with quality productions. They have a very nice YouTube channel that is full of regularly updated content spanning every discipline evolved in their project. I have seen a consistant string of in depth news letters and their forums seem to be active and well moderated. Ok, I’m starting to sound like a fanboy…


You can’t “set the standard” until you’ve proven the method creates a game at the end of it.



I feel like both Star Citizen and Crowfall are taking the “when it’s done” attitude which started 15-20 years ago and trying something new with it.

Star Citizen in particular is releasing these “modules” to the backers for testing. As soon as each portion of the game is ready they let the players have it and eventually each piece will come together to form the “game”.

In the case of Crowfall, they set a date of Dec 2016 for the “core module”. That includes everything which was funded during the Kickstarter campaign. They say they never intended for the full game to be released at once. Originally they had 12 character archetypes, player housing, and one campaign mode. Crowdfunding allowed for another archetype and 1-2 other campaign to be added to the “core module”, but the remaining campaigns (which were announced but not listed as part of the core) will be added after the game has launched.


I get that they’re doing everything right, in many cases better than other studios. Thanks to their funding model they have tons more freedom than they otherwise would have, I just don’t want to see it manifest insofar as they try to make every single detail perfect. Deadlines for release exist for a reason and I hope they make theirs; I don’t want the penultimate persistent universe space sim running on DX11 to launch the same week EA’s drops supporting DX13 and is simultaneously available for the PS5 and XboxNoSeriouslyWeHaveANumberingSystemIThink :wink:


The XBOX :dickbutt:

I’m with you, with all the content they have planed I have no idea how they’ll be able to make deadline. When and If they do, however, I bet a bunch of planed content that they have been putting so much PR into will be cut. Just like so many other games.


You’re exactly right @auth and in all kinds of software development, we have the concept of windows.

If you set out to develop something for 2016, you have a window of time where you can start (due to technology being available to you to do what you want) and finish (due to new technology coming about and causing you to have to rewrite in perpetuity).

Elon Musk talks about this in regards to high level future technology like the Hyperloop.


You are correct. I adjusted my statement. :wink:


My one and only concern with Star Citizen (okay, well two): How is the performance going to be upon release? Also, how many ships are going to be allowed on screen before FPS tanks? I don’t feel I’ve got a slouch of a computer either:


I run at 1080p on high or ultra with most games minus FPS (I like to be competitive so BF4 is actually set to low) with no issues.


From what I’ve seen its going to be pretty resource intensive. Even if you lower the texture quality and polygon count, there’s still all of that feedback data around damage, collisions, physics, etc


Chris Roberts fielded a similar question in the first episode of " Ten for the Chairman ". I believe it aired Feb 2014.

Question 1 - Ten

I’m curious to know about the hardware setup required to run SC in full HD on max details?

Answer 1 - Chris Roberts

So that’s a really good question, it’s hard to definitively say that now 'cause we’re stil early in the development process.
New hardware comes out every year, so generally we’ve been aiming at the very high end of hardware now is what we think the mid-level will be by the time the game is fully finished. So that would have been a GTX 680 or now a 780 on the Nvidia side, or on the AMD side, a 7970 or now the R9290X on the AMD side. And you should be able to easily run in the highest details in the game in 1080p. If you want to move to 4k, you’ll need the very high end cards that will be available, smoothly at 4k that is, next years or maybe current day high-level to mid-high level cards but two of them in SLI.

The engine scales really well so it can, it will take whatever you can give it in whatever resolution you give it, but you can also scale it down and it still looks pretty good. So if you don’t have quite that highest end hardware, it will still be a pretty good experience. I hope that answers your question.