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CitizenCon 2018 – Props, VFX & Audio

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, today I wanted to summarize 4 panels from CitizenCon You Call That a Knife, The Art of Digital Illusion, the Devils in the Dialogue and The Sound of weapons, they are all pretty short and cover quick prop/item making, VFX and Audio.

CitizenCon 2948 – Panel: You Call That a Knife?

The Panel showed a variety of concept items they made for CitizenCon, the audience there voted on which items would be added to the game by rasing hands and making noise.

The A variant for the Trophy was chosen

And Part 2 Blade & Part B (tho C was the one they used) as the Handle for a Knife

These were then made by devs during the course of CitizenCon

The CitizenCon Logo rotated on the trophy and they are going to give both assets a bit more of a polish. The Knife had a glowing edge to it’s blade and was pretty cool.

These items are included for CitizenCon Ticket Holders, Imperator Subs and anyone that bought the CitizenCon Digital Goodies Pack!

 

CitizenCon 2948 – Panel: The Art of Digital Illusion

The Panel focusing on VFX.

In March 2017 they started using their new GPU Particle System.

This allowed them to remove a lot of the restriction and possible bottlenecking from the CPU and put it into a lighter-weight more efficient system.

When it comes to System Resource uses they look at 2 types of Cost:

Firstly Rendering – This is literally the amount being rendered on your screen, how many particles, how complex is the lighting. This is typically the same cost / performance on GPU or CPU tho.

Secondly & more importantly to them is the Update Cost – How & where should particles move to. The CPU is great for Gameplay code BUT the GPU is useful for doing the same code over and over again effiecntly. The Particle System itself is like one huge block of code executed much faster via GPU.

GPU Particles give them they ability have many more particles in shot and updated at once.

Engine trails are much high quality

Explosions get a lot more elements, sparks, lights, shockwaves.

They use curl noise to help drive & vary the particles

The use vector fields for more static, repetitive motion like to simulate heat rising or wind/air blowing.

They use Sign distance fields for attracting, repelling particles from a surface, to produce an artificial gravity affect or slide.

The Reclaimers Gravity Generator’s effect uses the sign distance field, the particles are attracted to and around the sphere.

They add and layer on VFX onto areas, items and components based on damage state, lighting and what the component should be doing. These VFX like fire or spark should make sense for each of the items, fire would only be produced by something that would have a flammable component.

They Particles collide with objects and bounce or otherwise interact with them.

They can do some awesome stuff with lighting too, lightning & electrical arcing.

 

CitizenCon 2948 – Panel: Devil’s in the Dialogue

There are various issues to tackle with sound and dialogue in game, just hearing the appropriate sound undisturbed is hard. Play agency means unpredictable volume of sounds in an area, NPCs can generate sounds unexpectedly, ships can be flying around and people can be pretty random.

Using a low dynamic range allows them to have smaller differences between loud and quiet voice volumes, it’s the more cautious approach. They basically boost the volume of this too.

High Dynamic Range allows for a better range of loud and quiet BUT it makes some dialogue incredibly hard to hear.

They avoid clipping and distortion unless it’s an effect for something like long range comms calls.

They want dialogue to cut through other sounds and be heard where appropriate, the limited or low dynamic range can make the NPCs seem unresponsive to changing environmental sounds.

 

There are some solutions:

They can use ducking which dynamically lowers background sound and prefers dialogue.

The lombard effect is another solution, this has speakers talking more loudly over background sound, they raise the audio of dialogue based on the sounds in the area, this could make the dialogue too loud.

What they have decided on is partly limiting the dynamic range, they keep the loud parts loud and raise the quiet parts IF NEEDED when compared to the background sound so they are audible. This takes the best of all solutions for them.

This will be added to a “future” release of Star Citizen.

 

CitizenCon 2948 – Panel: The Sound of Weapons

Weapon sounds are a huge part of the gameplay, they add to the detail, immersion and player feedback. Fidelity and Immersion is the driving philosophy for the audio, they want weapons to sound realistic, fun & consistent. Beyond that they want all of the components of a weapon to come together and for the audio to add to the tactile experience of that weapon.

They take real recordings and manipulate them to create the sounds in game.

These often include real weapons but also combine other interesting and unusual sounds all blended together to add to the personality and brand of a weapon.

They break sounds down into layers that are then combined in game.

The Body layer – is the first layer you hear in a weapon shot, it’s a punchy hit followed by a bassy thump, this recreates the physical sensation of firing a weapon.

The Character Layer – communicates the personality of a weapon and this is usually the main element of the weapon fire sound. This is typically played after the body layer.

The Mechanical layer – is intended to communicate the mechanism of the weapon, a short, subtle element that is typically metallic sounding. This is to help the weapon feel more rewarding and realistic.

The Environment Layer – This describes the acoustic location where the weapon is fired & adds additions/effects to it based on that.

These layers are combined into their sound system, to be used dynamically.

This approach is versatile, dynamic, helps emulate real acoustic behaviors and gives players useable information from audio in gameplay terms.

The system blends different sounds for different distances, gives appropriate feedback based on your location, environment and perspective.

In the future the system will also have

Improvements to the triggering of environment layers

Support Weapon Sounds for depressurized areas

Melee Combat

And also additional support for surround sound systems.