Welcome to some more Star Citizen, Procedural Tech is how Star Citizen will create it’s massive gameplay area but what exactly does that mean?
Star Citizen’s Procedural Tech & Tools take many forms in different degrees.
Star Systems, Planets, Moons, Cities, Outposts, Asteroid fields, Space Stations, Missions, Encounters, Mineables, Points of Interest and even touches on Subsumption.
However a lot of Star Citizen will use procedural generation to help it’s creation the method they really use is procedural assistance where by Artists and Devs will handle and edit the finer details of generated gameplay areas, design hero areas and assets for cities and placement in more bespoke locations.
Procedural does not mean random OR different for every player. Planets, Moons and Locations will be the same and physicalized for everyone. It won’t be different the next time you visit the location UNLESS there has been something that has affected the area. For example when we have building & land claims a player might build an outpost and then move it elsewhere with a pioneer.
Star Systems can be built based on their needs, literally defining the Star, amount of planets, moons around them and any other POI, like an Asteroid field around Yela for example. Eventually the Aaron Halo a much larger Asteroid field will be added to the Stanton System. Star Systems are build to a 1:10 scale & Planetary Bodies 1:6.
These Planets/Moons will have their biomes defined, along with their gravity and atmosphere.
Cities & Structures can also be part of this process or can be placed later.
Although Cities will be physicalized they won’t have fully explorable internals on these cities and city planets.
They want reasons to visit areas so they build areas out for this purpose with shops, mission givers, housing, however most of the assets, building and city parts they build are modular or can be used for other purposes.
Areas on planets can also be defined for what mining node spawn for example.
The Procedural generation and blending of biomes correctly is being tweaked each patch, the way the water blends with terrain & LODs with popping of assets when travelling down to planet being addressed too.
Outposts & POI – Across planets and Moons you’ll find various POI a lot of these have actually been placed by hand but the actual structures can be generated and placed entirely procedurally.
You would have a collection of outposts, shanty towns, the underground facilities, interesting areas in biomes, roads, rivers all eventually procedurally generated.
That’s basically the creation of a System and it’s planetary bodies at least the gameplay area side of it. And for the most part it can be procedurally generated extremely quickly, with only the hero assets and more hands on edits taking time. With Lorville on Hurston for example they had to hand place & connect the tram system & track. Systems that don’t have large cities and could have almost entirely proc gened content.
Stations & Rest Stops – are added to these systems so players and NPCs have somewhere to refuel. Again these can be procedurally generated, they literally put the size, what rooms and how many hangars / landing pads and shops they want along with what brand and building set it’s using and then these are ready. The Rest Stops we have in the Stanton System atm allow for the travel and servicing across the vast gameplay area and have been placed. They serve as places to do missions and shop too. In future systems these will also be procedurally placed typically around Lagrange points around systems.
There will be more bespoke POI like The Abandoned Gunno Covalex Hub, but there will also be multiple stations like that fully operational, Security Posts and more.
New Systems When?
New Star Systems Require them to also have at least the first iteration of Jump Points so you can travel to them. There is no ETA currently I am expecting a new systems to start to be seen potentially in 2020. They mentioned looking at proximate systems to Stanton which would be Pyro, Magnus and Terra.
We only have one Star System in game at the moment Stanton & it isn’t completed yet, it requires:
ArcCorp a Huge City Planet and it’s primary landing zone area 18
MicroTech a cold World with Biodomes, Nordic Forests and Snow
Crusader – a Gas Giant which has a Placeholder in while they are working on it and it’s associated Cloud City LZ Orison.
Tech wise they also require Planets to Orbit the Star (currently they do not)
Various Points of Interest – Aaron Halo and other zones, or even unique POIs too
Delamar / Levski is planned at some point to move out of the Stanton System too as it’s supposed to be in the Nyx System.
I don’t know how many systems they are going to have in game in the next couple of years.
But some of them are significantly easier than others, most much easier than the varied Stanton System, a couple like Sol and Terra much harder imo with their very developed cities. Magnus would require them to make Borea Drakes main HQ a shipbuilding / city there but there are is only 2 other planets there one is a rocky moon like planet and the other a gas giant. Pyro also looks pretty simple 3 planets one of them lava based, one bombarded by solar flares and one mined to oblivion as well as some asteroid fields.
However the tech and assets for procedural generation of planets, content and cities is all getting better every patch.
Building Sets & Assets
All textures, assets, walls, work tops, seats & props are saved to an asset database.
Some of these sets are themed for high-tech, industrial, low tech etc….
The more assets they create the more variety they have for their procedural generation. These assets can have color, shader, branding and materials variation to make them appropriate for their needs or to make them more unique.
One of the things I really want to impart here is that they have the ability to procedurally generate 100 systems this week, however this will be based on their current pool of assets, biomes and missions. Once they have more built out and more variety they plan to be able to have quickly generated high quality systems, yes a lot of them will require a lot of bespoke work, some can be almost entirely procedurally generated though.
Missions / Encounters – In addition to other players Many other things will fill these systems content wise, missions, NPCs enemies, POI , events, Salvage sites. This content is themed and generated based on the location it’s near and may well be volatile and not persist for a long period of time, but will eventually take into account many other factors. I think it’s worth looking at subsumption in another video then breaking down the areas that in touches.