We had a big info dump with the Squadron 42 with it’s Roadmap BUT there was also a Newsletter and update on what they had been working on over the last few weeks, some insights into the project and I want to summarize some of the more important parts as well as talk about Titan ExoSuits.
They have been working on the new (IFCS) Flight Model, tweaking AI ship behavior to better utilize these new flight controls for a better dogfighting experience.
They noticed that the new IFCS currently causes too much unwanted ‘jousting’ behavior, so are currently looking into ways to modify it.
The New Flight model is planned to premier in Star Citizen’s PU in 3.5 March 2019 and will obviously like many things be unified across SQ42 and the PU.
AI – Ship AI’s focus was on optimizing the Tactical Point System.
They make use of more CPU threads, more efficiently and made sure everything is thread safe or working correctly with multi-threading.
Optimized the Character Movement System.
They prepared they way for Subsumption Updates to be moved to multithreading batch updates too. This is incredibly important for AI, Subsumption, Economy… pretty much everything.
In FPS Combat, the ‘Defend Area’ NPC behaviors were added.
Behaviors and tasks of NPCs are affected by what they are currently doing and what then takes priority. Behaviors that cannot be completed or are inappropriate will be ignored for the next most appropriate one.
They’re adding new behaviors to improve combat and patrol of NPCs.
There is now functionality to support stealth gameplay, with new audio and visual stimuli being added to allow players to draw the attention of guards, prepare traps, and open up otherwise blocked paths.
Bartender and service NPCs have been getting work to expand their functionalities. They made some new resource economic glasses and cups for the bar areas.
They have a tool that allows them to preview different characters using different usables, testing to make sure everything is working correctly.
Dialogue wildlines for the ship/FPS & social NPCs were reworked to unify them within the same overall structure.
Animation & Cinematics – Animation kicked-off production passes on a handful of Squadron 42 scenes. They’re also working to finalize the Armorer character for SQ42 – itself a large and intricate task.
Audio worked closely with the SQ42 composer Geoff Zanelli to establish themes for the game’s different races and important characters.
They polished the Vanduul armor and concepted the Navy Gunner’s outfit.
After completing the CitizenCon SQ42 teaser trailer, Cinematics took time to verify that each scene was functioning correctly from start to finish. This mainly involved the Shubin Station art pocket, but also other things like the battleground around Vega II. Once complete, they worked on a pivotal scene for the game featuring a key character not revealed yet. This involved using a new method of character hair and skin creation (tweaked for more realism), and small modification to costumes.
They have completed first passes for much of the game’s narrative.
Along with navspline improvements, new functionality was added to allow the team to edit multiple cinematic sequences at once.
Some SQ42 scenes feature characters on capital ship bridges reacting to things they see through windows, which requires the team to split sequences between interior and exterior. The new multi-sequence workflow allows multiple sequences to be open and active at once and syncs the timelines.
Developments on the female character continue. Because of her different sized skeleton, the team implemented animation-driven inverse kinematics to allow her to reach a ship’s controls without the need for new animation sets. The Female Character will have a 1 to 1 parity with the male character in it’s animations, movement and armor.
They have been polishing updated low-level assets for the animations to ensure she can run around and fire weapons.
Work continued on the character ‘DNA gene pool’. In order for the next-gen facial customizer to work most effectively, a limited pool of heads with specific and unique shapes is required. Relevant factors are gender, ethnic origin, age, physical constitution, and distinct facial features such as hooked vs. pointy nose, thin vs. full lips, and so forth.
The new customizer will initially use as many heads as possible from the selection scanned, providing they fulfill requirements.
The DNA Customizer is pegged for the PU in 3.5 March 2019 in it’s T0 implementation AND will continue to grow in diversity and function in the future. You will be able to use your SQ42 Character in SC and they have suggested that this will also be possible the other way around too.
They created a system to allow variable limits on how far players can move their heads when looking around so wearing heavy or different armor types can restrict how far you can look around.
Pickup and Carry was finished off including for EVA allowing for the movement of various objects in game by the character.
Engine – They’ve continued work on GPU skinning, added vertex velocity support (motion blur), completed several optimizations to skip zero weights (improved throughput), and made the first pass on memory layout and LOD support.
They have improved physics for planet terrain computation by 30-50% reducing the number of cell queries on planets, and improved proxy mesh generation of terrain ground volumes.
Terrain rendering improvements were added (glow forward pass) as well as fixes for water volume and ocean rendering. The existing hair shader was improved, and a new depth of field algorithm was created to improve quality, performance, and fix halos around silhouettes.
They also worked on culling refinements for increased performance and low-level optimizations to reduce load on the render thread.
Graphics worked on several shader effects including the resurrection of the caustics water effect, which is needed in several locations throughout SQ42.
They have a new hard surface shader that should improve performance, allow new surface shading features, and enable more dynamic wear & dirt effects.
General Performance was also a focus, with most attention on the low-level texture and mesh streaming systems to help squeeze as much content in with as little performance impact as possible.
Environments and Ships – Art began using their new hard surface shader and new blending features for wear and tear. This enables a more realistic appearance of localized damage without a jarring transition between worn and pristine areas. They’re paying particular attention to make sure wear looks natural and unforced. One of the high-level goals for SQ42 is for every asset and its features to sit in a scene naturally, feel unforced, and for the lighting to have a slightly softer, more realistic feel (except for some areas where the intensity is cranked up to 11).
They worked on a Javelin used in the early campaign, improving lighting.
The vast Shubin mining station gained more detail to the supporting structures around it. Development of the facility’s Bridge (as first seen in the CitizenCon 2948 trailer) continued, which comes in at around three times the size of a Bengal’s.
They’ve updated crew behaviors on the Idris for being off duty, rnr, eating in the mess hall.
They are using R2T tech to help bring cockpits and communications to life.
Props have been working on sub items as well as maintenance machinery as well as Props seen throughout the campaign (including monitors, screens, wiring looms, hatch covers, ropes, destructible lights, and pressurized items) all received attention, this time to determine how they break or deform when damaged. Several key events take place where these assets need to react correctly to gravity, decompression, damage, pulse, etc.
They worked on Vehicle Scanning Improvements, allowing for various sub-system targeting (some of which we can see in 3.4) and more functionality for scanning nav points and destination info.
They worked on lightning effects, thrusters & Gas Cloud for finer detail & Control at less resource cost.
They gained new effects and functionality including damage, overheat, and misfire options.
They are doing some R&D for the Xi’An FPS Missile Launcher too.
They carried on with the Multi-Tool for SQ42s needs and made progress with the Kastak Arms Ravager-212 as well as the level two and three upgrades for the Hurston Dynamics Laser Repeaters. They also made minor adjustments to the iron sights on a handful of weapons to improve the sight picture and to make them more user-friendly when no optics are attached.
Other – They’ve been trying to make improvements to the UI and amount of information it provides to players during missions and objectives, this is going to be entirely unified with the PU.
Another major feature worked on is the area map. Pre-visualizations of how the map could be were built procedurally using existing underlying systems, such as the room system. This informs not only the overall layout but also how it becomes more defined as the player traverses the environment for the first time.
As part of comms, a ‘Tannoy’ system can now pump audio to multiple parts of an environment. For example, an announcement to a single ship’s hangar or a more global ship-wide announcement.
At the bottom of the Newsletter was again the Picture of the Titan Exo-Suit.
Which appear on the SQ42 Roadmap for Q4 2019. These should take a little more time to get into the PU but I am expect to see them go on Concept Sale at some point.
Originally built for industrial purposes, it has expanded to military and combat operations as well.
So I expect we will see a range of items for them allowing for Combat and Utility Purposes.
The Concept is pictured with some form of Lighting gun and is about 10 feet high.
The weapon that it’s holding looks maybe size 1 – 2 2-handed weapon. I can certainly imagine them having the ability to use various weapons of up to a s2 ship equivalent.