This article takes a look a the flight model in Star Citizen and provides detailed information about how it works as well as what is planned.
Official Sources for the Flight Model
We decided to list the official sources about the flight model first for players to jump right to those documents. Here at SCFocus we aim to provide Star Citizen fans with easy access to the "good stuff".
The Principles of Flight - From CitizenCon 2948 (2018) - New!
Flight Model & Input Controls - From the official RSI website June 16th 2014
IFCS & Flight Physics Star Citizen Alpha 3.2 (PDF) - Google Docs June 26th 2018
Spectrum post IFCS Q&A - June 26th 2018
Important Caveats -> This information is subject to change as the flight model continues to evolve with the game.
Star Citizen's flight model aims to simulate the physics of spaceflight and space ships.
- Correct application of thrust at the places where thrusters are attached to the ship
- Inertia, mass changes and counter thrust are very necessary
- Ship damage affects flight
- Designed to offer a great PVP experience
- Simulates the physics that would involve controlling and moving a ship in space with no short cuts
- Star Citizen will be controller agnostic
- Intelligent Flight Control Systems (IFCS)
Current Status Of The Flight Model
As of Alpha 3.2 the Flight Model's status appears to be very close to final. For Dog-fighting there is still work left on ESP and network. For Flight (Racing) the flight model is arguably as good as it has ever been.
Our estimate is that the flight model has now been implemented as per the original 2014 design brief and what is now left is polish. The technology has changed since the early acclaimed Arena Commander flight model (Alpha 2.6.3) and with focus on the Public Persistent Universe we expect the flight model to continue to be refined until completion.
Status: In Polish (Especially combat ESP and Turrets)
New Flight Model
Currently work on the new flight model is scheduled to make the Alpha 3.5 update (scheduled for live end of March 2019). However, given the tasks currently show 113/141 tasks completed it is possible it might start to appear for testing before.
Definitely worth while keeping an eye on this task on the Official Star Citizen Roadmap.
The Future Of The Flight Model
Ships in Star Citizen will have momentum and thursters provide thrust realistically based on thruster power, damage state, size and position. The video from CitizenCon 2018 highlights some of the planned work on the Flight Model that is coming in future updates.
Atmospheric flight will be different to space flight and aerodynamics of ships will significantly change how ships handle. For example, the Gladius will handle very differently from the Aurora in atmosphere.
"This level of realism was necessary in order to deliver a flight control system that could be fully integrated with and influenced by the environment, damage states, changing mass distribution, power allocation, thruster placement, etc. IFCS is an emergent system, and therefore may be imperfect at times. But this mimics reality.
And finally, great effort has been made to limit spacecraft control to only the command pathways provided by IFCS. No player, AI or even IFCS itself will ever modify the position, velocity, rotation or rotational velocity of a ship directly, with the exception of initialization and network correction. This guarantees that all spacecraft control is consistent and the game will never have an unfair advantage over a player."
Source -> Flight Model & Input Controls