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Squadron 42 Update AI, Ships & Stations

Welcome to a Squadron 42 Update looking at the progress on Ships, Races & Aspects of Squadron 42 Episode 1 as well as a focus on Subsumption Flight Combat AI Updates.

Human

  • Bengal Carrier currently getting a detail pass on it’s internal spaces and rooms, it has multiple hangars throughout the ship and it’s massive.
  • They have added elevators and sub-deck transit system which allows players to traverse the ship much more quickly than before.
  • It’s a Monorail! YES Half-Life!
  • Shubin’s Archon station also has an internal transit systems as it’s so large with a larger tubestation type setup.
  • It was mentioned that you may not have the right to access ALL of Archon station from the get go in SQ42.

Vanduul

  • Lots of the Vanduul ships are coming together now and there has been a lot of focus on some of their lighter fighters as well as looking at the larger ship to ship weapons the capital ships will use.
  • These ship-to-ship weapon turrets have an organic design and deploy to look like a flower.
  • The turrets have insect like or spider eyes on them. And this distinct look and feel is across all of the Vanduul Ships they have designed, it also makes them easily distinguishable as weapons and mounts for you to target.
  • There has been further work from VFX on how alien weapons will behave.

Xi’An

  • Xi’An ships as with the rest of the races have a distinct design. Elegant and extremely high-tech looking with Complex mechanisms. But even their terminals, doors and gravity are all different.
  • It looks like all of their consoles and items are almost built upon request, then pack away in the smallest possible space.

Other Stuff

  • There have been a load of UEE props being created, many of which have been hangar-centric.
  • They actually may have a procedural food system and menu for the mess hall, so food will look different even if it’s the same dish, this may also be an April Fools, BUT it’s Squadron 42 so who knows!?
  • There’s been a Recent focus on improving laser projectiles – including better visibility and readability for the cockpit experience. They are making lasers feel satisfying to fire and use.
  • The H-t-H Take down system has been improved and expanded allowing you to take down enemies in a variety of ways.
  • There have been huge improvements to the skin shaders for characters, adding a much more realistic look to their faces, facial hair and lighting seems to of also significantly improved.

Flight AI

Squadron 42 is a single-player story-driven affair, NPCs will naturally drive a lot of the action. And a large amount of that action will be centered around flying and fighting in ships. To that end, they have been developing AI to allow for variety, realism, and dynamic action, which started with converting everything over to the relatively new Subsumption system. Whereas in the old system, the AI would control the ship itself, in Subsumption the AI controls the actual pilot, giving NPCs the same access to ships as an actual player and opening things up to more organic and narrative-appropriate options.

Using this system, each pilot has a unique style and decision-making process when flying. For example, a salty veteran like Old Man flies with skill and doesn’t take many wild chances; Vanduul pilots tend to be very aggressive, with in-your-face attack protocol; and a pirate might take extra care to minimize damage to their target, keeping strippable resources intact.

The way any given pilot flies, and fights, are dictated by a Skill System that considers several factors: Skills (abilities the character can learn and refine like piloting, weapon proficiency, aim, etc.); Traits (personality characteristics like hot-headedness, cockiness, timidity, etc.); and situational factors (like moral or personal grudges.) This, coupled with specific behavioral differences between ship types and how they handle, allows for nuances in each character’s flight style and approach to combat, which change dynamically through the course of the game based on the way the story progresses.

  • Basically AI has access to all the same ship systems as players: stations, consoles, weapons, shields & countermeasures.
  • Current Dogfighting AI acquire a target, engage in combat, then 3 phases of combat (approach, engage & break) this will evolve into something more complex as they move forward.
  • Designers can assign behaviours to AI with commands: attack this target, defend this area, follow me, just like a wingman.
  • Subsumption allows for a lot of variables on AI and players to be manipulated easily.
  • AI will have skills that can be learned or improved over time, and traits which are permanent or added thru major events.
  • AI will also have morale which will influence behaviours and be affected by the player’s actions, circumstances and “sustenance”
  • There is a “nemesis system” allowing the game to spawn AI who have a history with you in place of the normal AI.
  • The AI team sees how the community improves their techniques and uses that data to further improve the AI AND all of this AI Subsumption will also be in Star Citizen!