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Squadron 42 – New Trailer & Project Updates

Welcome to some more Star Citizen Squadron 42 News & Updates, there was a new trailer released and a detailed Squadron 42 Report which gave us a lot of insight.

The New SQ42 trailer came out at CitizenCon 2018, the 3 min trailer showed off a fleet of capital ships, cinematic scenes (which a lot are scenes being played out while you are playing that you can interact) with an amazing cast of mocapped actors, gillian anderson (who i released looks odd because she is younger in the trailer) Mark Hamill, Craig Fairbrass, Rhona Mitra, Liam Cunningham, Gary Oldman, John Rhys-Davies, Mark Strong & Ben Mendelsohn.
Alien Environments & Vistas, interesting planets and structures, The Vanduul both their ships and their infantry with spear weapons, what I assume is Vega II in flames.
There were some odd scenes with holograms, a wreck in zero gravity, an attack wing of UEE Ships fighting a Vanduul fleet as well as something that gave me vibes of the Death Star Trench Run.
For me I think the quality of the faces is amazing, the improvements made to Admiral bishop since 2015 is fantastic.

The other major thing SQ42 related to come out of CitizenCon was confirmation that the Roadmap will add SQ42 Episode 1 to it in December, giving us plans & tasks for until its full completion.

The SQ42 Newsletter basically gave us a monthly report focused on SQ42 Episode 1, which I’ll summarize now by looking at each of the main workgroups of the project & what they have been working on:

Cinematics worked on various new tech and tools, setup the idris’ & Bengal’s bridge for scenes, moving the captain’s chair into the most optimum position.
They added some newly edited PCAP, The completed sequences essentially show a conversation or first-person cinematic and all of its branches in a linear fashion.
The animators then use these to iterate on pose-matching, while the level designers use them as the blueprint for how the scene will play out once it’s scripted via AI logic.
Certain Scenes that are happening or will happen will sometimes be on a players UI or they may be otherwise encoraged to go to a location.

Engineering – The Actor Team made a lot of small improvements to how first-person gameplay feels, such as speeding up weapon swapping, tweaking ADS aiming when moving, and adjusting weapon sway. They also fixed issues with the jump mechanic & made a more detailed pass using the new time-warping tech to clean up the assets.
The new Walk and Talk prototype is making progress, with two characters now walking together while having a believable and dynamic conversations.

Facial Animations tested the Vanduul facial rig. They also ran the first set of reviews for the new Facial Animation Quality Benchmark, with the goal of establishing a gold-standard for facial performance in a triple-A game.

Tech Animation & Mocap have been improving their pipeline and techniques.Female animation received baseline processing, with retargeting of the core reference databases and basic animation done to make the refinement pass as easy as possible.
They also worked on multiple fixes for the usable system and supported the Combat AI Team with new weapon setups for left-handed combat.
They’ve also been developing the facial rigging pipeline and skinning toolsets, with the Vanduul as the central focus of development.

The Gameplay Story Team implemented more scenes than ever before. The aim for Q3 began with around 10, but they managed to get 23 working in-game to a high standard. They also gave more thought to the lighting and positioning of scenes within levels.

The Graphics Team worked on ongoing space-crafting improvements. This included adding shadows onto and from gas clouds (with a 75% memory saving), the addition of turbulence and interference when near dense regions of cloud, and a new GPU spline based lightning system. They also improved reflections from water and added tessellation to the organic shader, which is mainly used for rocks and terrain.

Level Design has a heavy focus on scene implementation and usables. Making all the locations of the game feel realistic and believable (particularly the way the AI interact and move around on their various schedules) is always a top priority.  

All chapters of the game have a single design owner and several support designers who can work on them simultaneously. The numerous feature teams all have S42 technical priorities on their backlogs and have a steady stream of technology and workflow improvements coming in on a weekly basis.

The Props Team focused on getting their templates updated to work with the new usable systems, with the aim to make it easier to scale functionality out across the game.

Work has progressed on junk and scrap piles, with the whitebox assets getting a material pass. The original simpods have been brought up to scratch, staying true to the original concept but being reworked using the custom normal workflow. They were also converted to work with the most current shaders. They have been going through the cinematic scenes and have started work on the props with performance capture associated with them.

The Ship Art Team paused for a couple weeks on Persistent Universe work to take care of some pilot-fitting issues on a prominent S42 campaign ship. This is mostly likely the F8 Military Lightning or the Military Valkyrie. They raised the pilot position up and refined the interior geo a bit more. Now that it’s done, they’re back in full swing on the 300i grey-box for the PU. The Weapon Art Team finished production on the Kastak Arms Sawtooth knife.

VFX focused heavily on a variety of feature improvements, including significantly upgraded lightning effects. This doesn’t just refer to how it looks, but how it can be dynamically controlled and how it interacts with the player. They have worked on several in-game cutscenes, Some have been challenging as they flesh out unique environments and situations that haven’t been seen before in a video game.

There was also a screenshot of the DNA Character Creator they are developing (in the weekly SC newsletter), this will allow you to blend faces and parts together to form your characters avatar.

And that’s it for my Squadron 42 Update, it’s likely we will get a load more Squadron 42 Goodies in December with it being added to the Roadmap but also some new videos, livestreams or something vertical slicey?