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October 19th, 2012, 21:11
The way I understand it, the Squadron 42 campaign is inside the "sandbox" universe. The whole thing can be played offline, co-op or online on servers. It's exactly how Freelancer worked.

As for the co-op, Chris explained how friends would join you and they act more like wingmen (or your ship crewmembers if it is big enough) in place of AI controlled equivalent. This is his quote on the subject:
Chris Roberts:
“There will be two options for your friends to help you out -

1) Warping (or in WC terms auto-piloting) in from close by to your battle instance. If your friend is on the other side of the galaxy he wont be able to get to you. You’ll need to be in-system, or maybe a jump away (and this will delay you – you essentially have to get to the system of your friend and the then warp to join)

2) Drop into your friends ship (if its big enough for this) to man a turret, or on the bigger player ships maybe pilot a small fighter tender. This is drop in drop out style co-op, that leaves your friend’s ship docked where it was when he answered your call to arms.”
You might find the Unofficial Star Citizen FAQs interesting. It's a compilation of questions/quotes from various places. You can also contact them through Kickstarter easily (contact me link). Chris is also sometimes in the comment section answering questions and on the official forums along with a few other devs.

Although, they do have a lot of ambitious ideas (some stolem from Jump to Lightspeed). Hopefully the secrets investors have a lot of money to waste on this Otherwise we will only get a the offline Squadron 42 campaign in 2014 and the rest later (according to the FAQs).

Also, official "lore" entry. It's a story.
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