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.”
Recently, Ravalation carried on an annual blogger tradition called Developer Appreciation Week. During this week, gamers would put aside their usual vitriol and criticism for devs to pen posts about the appreciated side of studios. It was certainly nice to see a bloom of positivity and praise, that’s for sure.
“If there’s something I’ve learned from my fellow participants during this year’s DAW it’s that 1) game developers work extremely hard purely because they love their games, 2) bugs frequently appear in complicated coding, and 3) devs are usually aware that bugs exist when content goes live and feel terrible about it,” she wrote.
Join us after the break for more MMO blog essays, including a tour of Star Citizen’s luxury ship, more thoughts on Secret World Legends, and the enduring love of a World of Warcraft fan.
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.
Do you want to date my space avatar? She’s a star and she’s hotter than a supernova by far. Or maybe you’re a loony tooner? What’s the socially acceptable way to reference your character in an MMORPG without coming across like some weirdo from another gaming era? Bree and Justin will devote their lives to figuring out this question.
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:
As Star Citizen players are still grappling with the recently revealed development schedule, Chris Roberts has swooped in to provide some context and explanation for the roadmap. He said that the early summer jump to the alpha 3.0 build of the game will greatly expand on what Star Citizen can do and offer. The June update will contain a trio of moons to explore and the possibility of a large asteroid as well.
“When you see a planet or moon, you will be able to fly there, land and explore on foot, or from your ship or a ground vehicle you have brought with you. All seamlessly, all with the incredible first person detail that Star Citizen is known for,” Roberts said. “With this we are delivering something that goes way beyond the initial promises and conception of Star Citizen; we will be simulating a first-person universe with almost no limits.”
If Roberts’ letter isn’t enough to sate your need for information, there’s also the new monthly studio report to absorb. We’ve got it for you below, so watch now and thank us later!
You can stop fidgeting about what might or might not arrive in Star Citizen this year: Cloud Imperium has released its promised development roadmap for the rest of 2017. The studio stresses that quality will trump everything, that estimates are merely estimates, and that the schedule isn’t all-encompassing, but the words “3.0” and “persistent universe” and “planetary tech” have been enough to send Reddit into a tizzy of excitement.
It’s also sent the community into a tizzy of concern, as it appears the original plans for 3.0 have been trimmed down to get it out the door this summer, with many of its features pushed off to later patches later in the year. According to the newsletter, this is partly the result of Behaviour Interactive ending its subcontract for Cloud Imperium (you MMO folks will know it as the studio behind Eternal Crusade).
Check out the whole shebang below.
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!
We’ve been covering Starfighter Inc. for the last few weeks in Make My MMO, but apparently a lot of you folks who say you want to hear about up-and-coming MMOs aren’t following that column (*HARD STARE*), so let’s shine a brighter spotlight!
The 20-man Impeller Studios team is marketing the game as “Counter-Strike meets World of Warships in Space.” It’s been in development for three years already, has a ridiculously high bar for scientific accuracy, uses Unreal Engine 4, and will indeed support VR.
“Starfighter Inc. puts you in the cockpit of the future in a hard science-fiction based multiplayer space combat simulator for Windows PC, featuring hardcore shooter gameplay in the spirit of X-Wing vs. TIE-Fighter, but with unprecedented depth and sophistication. Starfighter Inc. combines the lethality and permadeath of Counter-Strike with the technical depth and customization of World of Warships. The key difference is that players operate a variety of nuclear-powered single and multi-crew fighters, reconnaissance ships, strike craft, and support ships, with weapons ranging from lasers, railguns, and missiles, to electronic and cyber warfare capabilities.”
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.”