On this week’s Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner bookend two key segments. The first is a studio update with Foundry 42 checking in from Frankfurt; Brian Chambers describes the team’s efforts on procedural planets, spawning, moons, performance capture, the conversation system, NPC AI, and missions headed into Squadron 42.
The moons “are getting cooler every week, and they’re actually a really great test example where we’re sort of pushing our tech for the planets, which will also pay off on the more involved planets like Hurston or ArcCorp or Microtech and beyond,” Roberts says. “So it’s a great test bed, and it’s kinda fun for me, and we share it with you guys, but I sort of see the progress weekly in it, and it gets cooler and better. So this universe is going to be awesome.”
Still reeling over the last Star Citizen infodump? You’re getting a breather with this week’s Around the Verse as the bulk of it is centered on… lore. Specifically, the Banu, one of the alien groups in the game initially based on elements of Persian culture and the first to make contact with humans. There’s also a check-in with the Los Angeles team (recently expanded to 74 peeps); they’ve been working on ship temperature and cooling systems, the game’s control manager, shopping systems, character gear, and the Anvil Terrapin.
But the best bit is the studio’s new referral program contest, which aims to entice followers to bring in new players and backers in return for a chance to everything from a free trip to this year’s Gamescom in Germany to Star Kitten-themed in-game merch. Star Kitten, by the way, appears to be an in-lore knock-off of Hello Kitty, so expect to see her everywhere.
Cloud Imperium’s Sandi Gardiner and Forrest Stephan return this week for another episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse. The highlight of the show is meant to be the lengthy Javelin creation walkthrough, but I’m more impressed watching Erin Roberts rattle off the five million things the UK studio is working on, from ongoing work on the shopping interface and item placement system and conversation system to “new gameplay elements like suit punctures, oxygen recharging, and depressurization,” among a few dozen other features.
Gardiner and Stephan also allude to a free-fly weekend for the holiday, along with new rewards for referrals and a ship sale. “I don’t want to spoil the official announcement but all I can say is ‘Pink Dragonfly,'” Stephan says. The whole episode is tucked down below.
It’s always a good day when you get to open up a new box full of fun toys to build worlds to your heart’s content. The folks behind Star Citizen are clearly enjoying themselves as they utilize a batch of new tools to build high-tech surface outposts for planets.
In the latest Around the Verse, the team discusses these “small locations” that players can visit on various worlds. These outposts are being constructed using a modular system, and once the kinks are worked out, the team will be able to make an array of them across the galaxy.
Other discussion in this episode covers the continued testing of Patch 2.6.2, the new Drake Buccaneer ship, an expansion to the QA team in Austin, and some additional work being done on the website, forum, and launcher.
Catch all of the latest developments by watching the show yourself after the jump!
This week’s edition of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse heralds the release of the 2.6.2 update on the PTU — and yes, the Buccaneer is in it. That’s a handy coincidence since the episode also contains part two of the ship pipeline deep-dive, which features that very starship as the devs polish it to “flight ready stage.” Technical Designer Matt Sherman and crew explain how they move ships through surface geometry and textures and parallax mapping, then adjust the joints and animations, the aural effects, the weaponry, and even the “bespoke” custom UIs for the ships that the player will use to pilot them — everything that needs to be done long before the math folks consider things like “balance.” The best bit is the designer whose job it is to think about how the ships will blow up:
“I jump in about white-box stage, after concept’s done, the modelling gets laid out, design has put some features in, I’ll go in and I’ll look at what the design is, what’s been done so far, and start to think about destruction. Very early on we start to think about how the ship will break apart.”
Try saying “mega map” 10 times fast! This week’s Around the Verse does indeed cover the heck out of Star Citizen’s mega map. Lead Gameplay Programmer Rob Johnson says that the intent of the mega map is to eliminate — or at least reduce — the annoyance of loading screens.
“We load the Mega Map as we would a standard map. The Mega Map itself is empty, but once the Mega Map is loaded, we actually start to fill the Mega Map with content of various game modes, fire, and object containers. So, we would load the Mega Map, which is empty; load the front end, which is a set of object containers; [and] load the front-end game rules, which tells the game how to work in that game mode. The user would then pick a new game mode to play. At that point we throw away all the object containers. We throw away the game mode, [then] load in the Free Fly game mode and the Dying Star object containers, but we do that via streaming rather than a complete level load, so we are able to shave the vast majority of the load time down to a few seconds rather than long enough to warrant a load screen.”
ATV also catches up with the LA studio’s work on ship production, multifunction displays, the room system, and the “entity owner manager” — critical for the persistent experience. Listen up below.
Over the weekend, Cloud Imperium fielded questions from players on some of the more technical elements on display in Star Citizen’s last Around the Verse. Turns out that some major DirectX changes are on the horizon.
“Years ago we stated our intention to support DX12, but since the introduction of Vulkan which has the same feature set and performance advantages this seemed a much more logical rendering API to use as it doesn’t force our users to upgrade to Windows 10 and opens the door for a single graphics API that could be used on all Windows 7, 8, 10 & Linux,” explains Director of Graphics Engineering Ali Brown. “As a result our current intention is to only support Vulkan and eventually drop support for DX11 as this shouldn’t effect any of our backers. DX12 would only be considered if we found it gave us a specific and substantial advantage over Vulkan. The API’s really aren’t that different though, 95% of the work for these APIs is to change the paradigm of the rendering pipeline, which is the same for both APIs.”
Following what turned out to be an intriguing Ten for the Chairman earlier this week, Cloud Imperium has released a Star Citizen Around the Verse episode that — our tipster summed it up perfectly — represents a “decent barometer of where we currently are in Star Citizen.” Design Director Todd Papy and Persistent Universe Lead Level Designer Andreas Johansson provide a behind-the-scenes look at the sci-fi MMO’s level design, arguing that using traditional level design would have meant their four level designers would need “650 years” to build out the game.
“We do build our locations with a tile set, which is small pieces of walls and corners and doors that we put together into rooms, but this is still not fast enough,” Johansson says. “We have to find a quicker way to do this. So, the way we can approach this is to looking into grouping these smaller tile sets into bigger entities, rooms. We have kitchens. We have toilets. We have locker rooms. We have lobbies.”
A modular approach using seeds and flowcharts proved necessary, allowing a level designer to theoretically pushed out dozens of space stations every day, although of course the designers have to playtest each to make sure they’re logical and consistent — in other words, to make sure “we don’t walk into a room and it’s a door into space and everyone has a very bad day.”
In honor of PAX East this weekend, Star Citizen has unlocked its Sabre fighter for anyone to try. You’ll just need to use the “PAXEAST2017” code on any account to get the free trial, which will last through Tuesday, March 14th.
As you’re downloading that, you might want to check out the latest episode of Around the Verse. The team broke down Star Citizen’s rather impressive economic chain in an elaborate flow chart (who doesn’t appreciate a good flow chart?) and took a close look at the arsenal of weapons that will be used in Star Marine.
We’ve tucked the economy flow chart and Around the Verse for you after the break!
Persistent universe fans, heads up: On this week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse, Chris Roberts is joined by Persistent Universe Game Director Tony Zurovec, who explains that his team is hard at work on mission scenario conversion and solar system services — like commodities and shopping.
“The first one of these out the door will be the shopping service, and it’s going to control inventory, prices, and demand levels for all the shops within a system. It’s also going to hook up to the mission service so that low inventory levels will automatically result in the creation of mission to reverse the trend. The mission service is also really interesting because along with a lot of work that’s occurred, it’s also going to allow us to start instantiating a lot of dynamic content for the game. This is all dramatically different than what we’ve had in the game today, which has always been much more static in nature.”
There’s also a studio check-in with the Frankfurt team; a lengthy segment on the Anvil Hurricane, the concept ship that rolled out to buyers last week; and a behind-the-scenes feature on character customization. Check it below!
Star Citizen’s weekly Around the Verse treks to the Los Angeles studio for a check-in, but the real meat is the behind-the-scenes look at Spectrum, the communication platform the studio is building from the ground up, intended to be a chat and forum system that works within and without the game.
Meanwhile, the community is abuzz over the newly introduced concept ship sale featuring the Anvil Hurricane, which has its very own brochure. What are we buying again? Oh right, a pixel spaceship, carry on… or don’t, in the case of the salty Redditors who are annoyed that RSI was able to get out the ship sale but not the promised internal schedule before the weekend.
Valentine’s Day may be over, but the chalky candy hearts and five-foot teddy bears remain. You know what’s one other thing that’s still around? Star Citizen’s Valentine’s Day promotion, which will let you fly a multi-crew ship with your friends for free through the weekend.
There’s also a new interview out with RSI’s Erin Roberts, who addresses the big 3.0 release among other topics: “We’re working hard on 3.0 right now and you’ve hopefully seen some great stuff we’re putting into it on the tour. We’re still at the start of the year and there is a lot of scheduling work going on so I’m obviously not giving dates today and of course we want to give the juicy information to the community first, but we’re looking at putting out perhaps two or three big releases this year which significantly push the amount of locations, gameplay mechanics, and content that the players will be able to experience and give feedback on.”
Finally, Star Citizen fans have a new Around the Verse episode to digest and discuss. See the Prospector and Super Hornet in action, and listen to the devs talk about the difficulties of creating multi-regional servers after the break.
This week’s Star Citizen Around the Verse episode heralds the game’s 2.6.1 update, which has gone live for the hand-picked special test crew of the Evocati. Following a brief check-in with the Austin studio, the video’s highlight is an in-depth feature on the ship pipeline, so start at 06m20s if you’re dying to learn about how the game’s zillions of ships are rolled out.
Speaking of dying! This ATV includes a tease for “dead body tech,” which is too amusing not to note. CG Supervisor Forrest Stephan explains: “A big part of the build up for 3.0, corpses are part of the set dressing. You know in the wrecks, the abandoned ships and we wanted a way to use our loadouts, our current characters instead of placing these temporary props so we developed a system to use a physics based approach to having designers place these dead bodies everywhere.”
Festive. The whole episode, including bodies fallin’ from the sky set to very solemn music, is below!