cloud imperium

Studio known primarily for Star Citizen.

How Star Citizen uses science to build out its galaxy

This week’s episode of Star Citizen Around the Verse sees Cloud Imperium’s Chris Roberts and Eric Kieron Davis bookending Foundry 42, Ship Shape, and solar system segments. From the Foundry 42 Frankfurt office, Development Director Brian Chambers checks in to discuss new hires, level design work, landing zones, atmosphere mapping, buddy AI, enemy reactions, planet surfacing, outpost lighting, environment art, and multiplayer persistent universe gameplay testing (yay!), while Ship Shape is aimed at you motorcycle lovers.

“Being able to see your footsteps in the snow or have your vehicle kick up dust while speeding across the desert are those little details that’ll make you believe that you’re really in those environments and be much more immersive, and you know me – I love immersive,” Roberts chimes in.

The best bit is easily the solar system segment, but I’m biased – I married an astrophysicist. The devs explain how they use the Solar System Ed (SolEd) to build out the parts of their galaxy in the service of the Star Map, making use of volunteer astronomers and other scientists to vet their ideas for scientific plausibility. Fun!

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Star Citizen Around the Verse: Female character meshes, engineering, and the LA studio

Hellion isn’t the only sci-fi sandbox finally getting female characters underway: Star Citizen is working on the female body meshing, just one of the tidbits in this week’s edition of community-oriented infodump program Around the Verse, this episode helmed by brothers Chris and Erin Roberts, aka “Roberts squared.”

“A female transfer mesh has been created and the male transfer mesh has been massively updated. Now these transfer meshes are used in conjunction with all of our skinning tools to automate basic skinning of all of our new characters. Tech Animators can now spend time affecting the weighting of a mesh, allowing for a higher quality and a more accurate deformation in less time.”

The check-in with the LA studio provides updates on the narrative work and dialogue for 3.0, ship cargo mechanics, solar system content, object container editing, the intelligent flight control system, costumes, and improved character rigging. And there’s a behind-the-scenes on the game’s networking and database code. Enjoy!

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Star Citizen Around the Verse: Manchester’s work on 3.0 and ship migration progress

This week’s Around the Verse has arrived for Star Citizen fans, helmed by both Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner. This episode has a crapton of footage worth a skim for the visuals alone; there’s a lengthy studio update from the folks in Manchester, discussing the accessibility of the early game, including the hint system, plus 3.0 mission development, AI pathing, lighting and reflection, weapons, animations, ships, ground vehicles, weapons, habitable units for outposts, cockpit graphics, and character customization.

Item 2.0 and the great ship migration of 2017 get the back half of the episode. The takeaway? Seats are really important. 3.0 is coming, citizens! Check it all out down below.

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Massively Overthinking: MMO monetization run amok

Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:

The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?

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Star Citizen’s Around the Verse on the new website and colossal ship migration

Big changes are coming to Star Citizen — well, to its website. This week’s episode of Around the Verse explains that the game’s website is being overhauled to make it more functional and responsive for both hardcore backers and newbies who stumble into it and can’t figure out what’s actually playable yet. Spectrum 0.3.5 – that’s Cloud Imperium’s built-from-scratch communication tool – is on the way as well.

Meanwhile, the studios are hard at work on all things 3.0, as the Austin studio check-in outlines, with additional work on mocap, persistent universe animations, the subsumption system, and the new mission manager. There’s also a look at the massive ongoing ship migration project as older ships are updated to the item 2.0 framework, what Producer Ashram Kain calls “one of the largest things that [he thinks] has ever been done in a game, particularly a multiplayer game.”

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Star Citizen checks in with Frankfurt studio, talks about designing the Eclipse

In this week’s rip-roaring episode of Around the Verse, the Star Citizen team checks in with the game’s Frankfurt studio. This studio has recently grown to 74 employees, which raises the question of who on this planet isn’t currently working on Star Citizen?

“We routinely visitors to the office and this month was no exception with people here from both our US and U.K. offices,” Development Director Brian Chambers said. “Most of the senior production staff from across all the offices came together in one place for their annual summit. Had some intensive meetings and discussed upcoming and ongoing plans and we found that a few days face to face without distraction can actually go a long way.”

Following an update of Chambers’ team’s progress, the episode moves on to look at the design of a stealthy bomber, the Eclipse. You can get the full effect of developer genius by watching the full episode below, or if you prefer you could always simply read the transcript via Relay.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 118: Crowfall breaks up the band

Just when you think the MMO industry is predictable, it jukes and jags all over the place, tossing out surprises left and right in an attempt to shake you off its tail (or to pull you in, we haven’t decided on that one yet). Marking one of the most unpredictable news weeks of 2017, Bree and Justin ride out westerns, space operas, and fantasies with aplomb.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Star Citizen’s latest concept ship sale has already raised almost half a million bucks

Currently on sale in Star Citizen right now is a new concept ship, the Aegis Eclipse, on sale now for $250 for VIP backers and soon to be on sale for everyone else too. CIG has not given out ship stats, so you’re buying it blind if you’re buying it early, or you can wait for the full reveal today. You’re also buying it with cash (not credit) if you’re buying it early — part of CIG’s ongoing attempts to curb melt-down credit hoarding and exploits. The ship has thus far raised $400,000.

The sale is further teased in this week’s Around the Verse episode, in which the team checks in with the LA studio for a recap of its work on the new item system, plus there’s a behind-the-scenes update from multiple members of the team spread out over the world working on lighting and fog.

In sadder news, Rogue-Jaсk, a prominent Russian Star Citizen and dedicated translator of Star Citizen news, has passed away. Friends and gamers are currently posting in an effort to see him memorialized in the game come launch.

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Ashes of Creation’s very good, totally tubular, quite excellent day

For Ashes of Creation, May 16th will go down as one of its best days. For starters, the title was featured on Kickstarter’s front page as the project of the day. This honor probably helped to push the game past not one but two significant milestones.

The same day, the sandbox MMO hit $2 million in crowdfunding, a feat that has only been done by two other MMORPGs (Star Citizen and Camelot Unchained). And to put a cap on it, a second stretch goal, 11,000 backers, was also achieved. Not too shabby for a Tuesday!

Thanks to these met stretch goals, social organizations will be included in Ashes of Creation’s feature set and all backers will receive the exclusive Tidesnapper underwater mount. There’s a little over two weeks left in the campaign, which is plenty of time to hit another stretch goal or two. Next up is a playable Underrealm beast race (unlocked at $2.5M), exclusive dye colors (12,000 backers), and unique mount barding (13,500 backers).

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Star Citizen reverses course on CCU concept ship swap system

Cloud Imperium has reversed course on its plans to renovate Star Citizen’s Cross Chassis Upgrade (CCU) system in time for the sale of the Eclipse concept ship.

CIG’s Tyler Zyloh explains that the CCU system was originally designed to allow package purchasers to “melt down” the theoretical ships they’d bought in order to buy different ones without sacrificing other package components or causing customer service overhead. Last week, the studio introduced plans to raise the base price of CCUs to $5 in order to encourage players to spend the more than a million unspent CCUs floating around in the system, aid the design team’s metrics on ship desirability, and reduce future stockpiling and what Zyloh calls “exploits that do not benefit all backers.”

But CIG is now rethinking that plan:

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Star Citizen Around the Verse deep-dives its player interaction system

On Star Citizen’s Around the Verse episode this week, Erin Roberts checks in from the UK studios in Wilmslow, where the team is working on 3.0 as well as Squadron 42. Of note, there’s been progress on the player interaction system, air traffic control, player useables, conversation tech, fog, visual effects, and multiple ships, plus hundreds of animations, including facial animations for shooting guns, which is an absurd level of detail, I think you’ll agree.

The behind-the-scenes segment loops back to the player interaction system, mechanics critical to not just the player’s ability to function in the world but to immersion.

“The Player Interaction System touches everything. It’s a unified interaction across first person experience of shooting, of shopping, of looting,” Calix Reneau explains. “Being able to point at things with reckless abandon actually opens up a lot of opportunity for interactions of ‘I want to find out more about that,’ and we can give back contextual clues of the things that you can do.”

Check out the whole episode below.

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The Daily Grind: What do you want out of a space sim MMO?

Watching the whole development and phenomenon of Star Citizen from a slightly detached perspective, I’ve often wondered (as I’m sure you have) what this game will actually end up being in the end. Certainly, many grand and impressive-sounding statements have been put out there, but we’ve all been hurt by unfulfilled promises before.

What’s really got me thinking is how everyone interested in this project seems to project their own desires into it. Ain’t none of us want the same things for a space sim MMO, unless you’re one of those mad players who wave your hands around and say “EVERYTHING!” like you’re a kid at a toy store who can’t focus on a few important purchases.

So assuming that you’re interested in space sims, what do you want out of MMORPGs in this field? Is it narrative? Trading? Planetary exploration? Combat? FPS boarding action? Weird aliens? Your own starbase? Janitorial simulation? Hardcore survival mechanics? Softcore space visuals?

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Mark Hamill caps off Star Citizen’s latest Around the Verse

This week’s episode of Around the Verse sees Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner bookending the Austin studio update and tech check-in. The Austin branch is focused on major features for 3.0, Producer Jake Ross says, from commodity trading and the mission-giver experience to landing zones (yes with smuggling) and ship damage modeling. Work on Spectrum — that’s the huge in-game/out-of-game communication tool being custom-built for the game — continues as well.

The behind-the-scenes segment will be music to the ears of those of you who want to hear all about how the game and its builds are hosted.

The episode concludes with what is probably its best bit, a May the 4th tease that amounts to “a little glimpse of Mark Hamill in the cockpit of Squadron 42.” We’ve tucked it down below.

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