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."
Star Citizen's Chris Roberts and Tony Zurovec teamed up to field backer questions on a new round of Ten for the Chairman this week. This episode is at least in part about stuff, literally: The early questions focus on cargo and salvage and how it all works. Star Citizen is all about the realism and the ecosystem of living and trading in space; you'll be able to truly see the stuff you're buying and hauling, there will be a combination of automatic and manual cargo unloading, salvaging will be a completely legitimate playstyle, "player-generated mayhem" will be possible across certain parts of the persistent universe, and you will indeed be able to "move fluidly between professions."
Roberts also addresses the basic difficulty of just keeping your hunk of junk in the air. "There will definitely be a certain amount of maintenance keeping your ship running especially in the bigger ships," he says. "If you’ve watched any science fiction movie and you’ve seen Chewie banging the Millennium Falcon or the crew of the Nostromo having to keep their ship running and stuff like that."
It's definitely worth a listen, especially if you're my kind of geek -- i.e., the kind who isn't much into World of Evil Space Jerk Empire but thinks the idea of Tramp Freighters Online sounds damn fun.
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.
Sometimes even the most die-hard MMORPG player finds him or herself a little tired of constantly looking at the back of a head and a running butt. We yearn to slip the surly bonds of the world to explore the cosmos in our very own rocket ship to see what is out there. E.T., are you taking house calls? Can we hang for a little while? I brought Reese's Pieces!
Getting this experience isn't quite as easy as, say, finding an MMO that caters to the dragon-slaying crowd. It's well-known that sci-fi MMORPGs are in the minority, and only a fraction of those center around or contain some element of space flight and combat. However, over the years we've seen online games here and there allow us to live out our fantasies of being a space jockey, whether in the form of a trader, a fighter pilot, or an explorer.
Today, let's look at 10 MMOs, past and present, that helped us get our spaceship on!
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.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from H1Z1, Gloria Victis, Diablo 3, Path of Exile, RiftStar Raiders, Gigantic, Lineage M, League of Legends, Fish Island 2, Wild Buster Online, Heroes of Incredible Tales, World of Tanks, God Eater Online, Closers Online, and Star Citizen, all waiting for you 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!
Many months ago, an /r/mmorpg Redditor posted up a reverse sort of award list: a list of MMOs he had stopped anticipating.
I hung onto that link all this time because I thought it'd be perfect to bring back up now that award season is over. Star Citizen won our most anticipated award, and I know that it hasn't really taken longer than a good MMO should, but I think I've stopped seriously pining for it since doing so seemed kind of pointless. It's just such a long way away. And while it's still going to be a no-brainer to play it, I'm not "anticipating" it in anything like an active way anymore. It's coming, but I've lost my conscious hype. Maybe that's always the danger when we know too much too soon.
How about you? Are there incoming MMORPGs or other online games you were once all hot and bothered about but now are no longer anticipating?
Music and sound for Squadron 42 is the focus of this week's Star Citizen Across the Verse show. The team brought on Emmy Award-winning Composer Geoff Zanelli to handle the score, who is also the focus of the episode's featured interview. Zanelli has worked on a variety of projects, including several Pirates of the Caribbean films, HBO's The Pacific miniseries, and the Call of Duty Nintendo DS games.
You can watch the episode after the break (and the music interview begins at the five-minute mark).