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RTX, Server Ticks & Gas Clouds

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, today looking at some of the Star Citizen Dev Responses and information from Spectrum, the Star Citizen Forums on Gas Cloud Tech, RTX Support and Server Tick Rates.

There was a spectrum thread by TBSTR titled Different tick rates in different places with server meshing? So as i understand, if server meshing all goes to plan, then you’ll be able to segregate servers based on areas in game, like a planet or a building.

It posed 3 questions that were answered by CIGs Clive Johnson

1) Are server “ticks” linked to the clients inputs? (Like Valves games for instance)

No, the servers run the simulation as fast as they can up to a maximum of 30 frames per second. The packet rate sent by a server is determined by its frame rate, and how many entities are updating and have new data to send to the clients. Neither the frame rate of a client or the rate at which it sends packets to its server have any influence on this.

2) Will the AI be improved with a higher tick rate?

2) AI logic is run entirely on the servers and the higher a server’s frame rate the faster the AI “think,” leading to quicker reaction times. Their ability to plan ahead isn’t really affected by frame rate though so faster frames won’t make them smarter. Some recent bugs with the AI have been due to desync issues, where what you see on the client no longer reflects what they are doing on the server. Good old fashioned bug fixing and continuing to flesh out the AI systems are where the improvements will come from.

3) Is it possible to have a higher tick rate server in places with a concentrated amount of FPS combat on a planets surface, or in a bunker for instance?

3) Yes it would be possible but this is not something we’re currently considering. Running a server at a higher frame rate means it can’t update as many players and other entities. Since servers cost money to run we want them to simulate as many entities and players as possible. The final version of server meshing should allow us to balance the load between multiple servers so that we can maintain a consistent frame rate on all of them. Concentrated FPS combat in a bunker between a fairly large number of players may warrant that bunker being given its own server. The same number of players spread out over the surface of a moon may mean that the entire moon can be simulated at the same frame rate by just one server.

 

Nvidia’s Raytracing and RTX tech has been talked about by CIG, mainly them saying they’d use it if it’s sensible for them to do so BUT it doesn’t look like it’s worth it for them at this stage and more recently In Regard to RTX there was a thread by Bluedirk asking

Do you, as I, believe that RTX tech will save you devs so much work farther along and look absolutely spanking?

Ben Parry Answered: Not in the slightest. I expect, if we use it, it’ll be a massive headache and time-sink but might give us some subtle improvements in looks or performance if we get it right.

 

Do you plan to try it or make some research anyway?
I’d love to, it looks like fun, but at the moment we have other high priority tasks on the roadmap

There was a reply I assumed it would be less work due to the whole “…add a light and Viola! No need for environmental lighting!” thing.

Ben Said It’s more likely to be a case of

“We’ve got a test-bed scene for a ray-based environment lighting technique, it works for one type of light so far, here’s a list of things you can no longer safely have in a room without it breaking, with rough probabilities of how likely we are to work out a solution”  

The added headache is that whatever we offered would have to be an “as well” feature rather than an “instead”, developing a feature for a single manufacturer’s top-end cards means also maintaining feature parity for everyone else’s hardware.

Personally I’d like to use it to make the shadows crispier.

He went onto say – By “as well” I meant we’d have to maintain support for two modes:

1) A mode that uses raytracing (though probably not exclusively) in some way to get its results

2) A mode that doesn’t use raytracing, but can achieve a similar look without changing the art assets or lighting setup.

As an example, when we ported over the voxel fog, we intended for it to be an “as well” feature because it’s expensive to run, but eventually ran with it as an “instead” feature because it interprets the fog parameters totally differently, and drastically changes what does/doesn’t work in terms of light placement.

 

Another Question Posed to Ben in the same thread – To your knowledge, is there anything promising on the horizon (even the distant horizon) when it comes to providing high quality perspective correct reflections in games, in scenes with large numbers of reflective surfaces and moving objects, and without the limitations of screen space reflections, aside from ray tracing?

He replied Indeed not, that’s one of the “improvements in looks” that I’d expect to get out of it. The “headache” part is writing all the management code that will be needed, eg. to calculate lighting/shadowing on objects that aren’t on screen.

Ben was also asked to respond to an article that stated that Star Citizen’s development had already passed the point of adding whole new graphical technologies.

Ben in reply said I think the author might have jumped the gun a little, especially in saying that the “writing is on the wall” for nVidia just because one dev on a project already deep in development thinks it’ll be hard work to retrofit brand new tech that doesn’t yet have a broad install-base  

Raytracing is probably great, and I’d love to work on something with it, it’s just unfortunate that we’ve got a lot of rather mundane tasks (and hopefully some less-mundane ones) that we need to complete for the game to work as intended.

 

Also in Regard to Gas Cloud tech being moved off or obscured on the schedule for the PU

Ben said – I’m currently working on gascloud tech, though to be clear this is just the underlying tech side of it – we’re using it for Sq42 (obviously), it doesn’t cover any particular usage of it in the PU (though we do intend to use it), and it’s not intended to be used for weather or planetary clouds (so anything to do with them isn’t affected by its schedule).

Fog and weather are definitely not something we’re trying to handle via the gas cloud system, Crusader may layer it in if it’s useful, though that would mean adding extra features that it doesn’t otherwise need.

Currently on the Squadron 42 Roadmap for Completion Q4 2019 is Gas Cloud VFX Improvements
Implementing a series of improvements to the gas cloud VFX, expanding on the existing data-driven system to allow effects to visually reflect the conditions of the gas cloud. This will also build out the tool-set to allow artists and designers to dynamically control these effects.

It remains to be seen what of gas cloud tech or improvements to it will make it into the PU this year.