Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report Summary, looking at what Devs at CIG have been working on over the last 4 weeks and what they are focused on currently for Star Citizen & the Persistent Universe a lot of which we should see in the next few months with the next major releases Alpha 3.6.x and 3.7.
NPCs & Character
AI first reactions saw more work these are combat behaviors that are triggered by AI characters sensing the presence of an enemy & is a precursor to real combat that includes specific animations, communications, and can lead the AI to investigate the source of suspicious noises or events.
They progressed with ‘Fire discipline’ which influences the firing behavior of gunners and pilots, the idea being that surrounding events and actions alter the behavior between the extremes of ‘trigger happy’ and ammo thrifty. Target selection, saw two new elements – ‘self-preservation’, which prioritizes attacking the most dangerous enemy combatant and ‘defend ally’, which monitors friendly ships and AI and attacks players causing the most damage. AI security behavior has also been refined for security and interdiction missions to cover everything that could happen during a mission of which there are many apparently.
Work continued on Bartender animations and behaviors, a new mission giver, emotes captured at last year’s CitizenCon, facial animation was also done for shopkeepers and bar patrons.
With the Bartender in mind several new usables (mostly mix stations) were created, improvements were made to the glass and drink materials too. And social AI has had general improvements to how NPCs look when moving between usables. New vendors and NPCs are being iterated on too, with Head rigging pipeline updates. Pipeline improvements will also see improved character deformation
New career concepts progressed. New armor was concepted and developed, while progress was made on making all existing clothing compatible with the female character model. The material library was further expanded too, which will help to improve the overall texture quality throughout the game.
Work continued on the v2 of the Character Customizer. When complete, it’ll bring a whole new look and feel to the feature. They also worked on improvements to FoIP & VoIP (adding multi-channel comms support).
Locations & Environments
Rest Stop interiors are seeing work to have various additions and then them be married with the updated Space Station Exteriors. As with all procedural location workflows, time is spent setting up the rules of layout generation and various room libraries. Players can expect the new interiors to feel larger, more open, and more varied when they launch in Alpha 3.7.
Work also continued on the Crusader Major Landing Zone Orison, which is currently in the greybox. They finished the layout and are currently making sure the components and architecture complement each other and communicate the desired art style.
They have also began working exterior buildings for New Babbage as well as Planet microTech in general with effort going into creating new terrains and materials to better represent snowy landscapes and frozen planes. They also developed a modular set to increase the speed that they can build flagship landing zones in the future.
They have a resource service that tracks the state of natural resources found on planets and moons this saw some updates.
Planet Tech Tools v4 was worked on too, it can now can now spawn unique particles on the terrain using various parameters. It can also lock particles to the terrain and have them move around on the surface as needed. For example, when particles are affected by gravity or wind, they now flow around the contours of the terrain in a natural way. The team also added a particle LOD system to allow them to draw ‘cheaper’ versions of the effect much further away and swap them out for a higher-quality version up close.
They also resumed their work on Planet Shading v4, with focus on adding a new artist tool that simultaneously paints a desired location along with every other location on the planet with matching environmental conditions. This provides a great compromise between hand-crafted and fully-procedural content creation. Work also started on the tint palette system, which will eventually allow the game code to assign shared palettes to any object in the game and recolor the materials and assign matching decals and logos. This will vastly cut down the work required to create material variants of ships, weapons, armor, props, and environments and give the designers much greater flexibility in the array of colors and branding available across the game.
The Origin 890 Jump is well on its way to the PU with a 3.6.x patch in the near future, they are finishing off the remaining tweak and polish tasks. Once the art elements are done, it’ll go for its pre-flight setup.
The remaining two Vanguard Variants are now nearing completion. Look out for the Harbinger and Sentinel in Alpha 3.7.
Progress on the Banu Defender continues, they are getting close to solidifying the Banu ship identity with dramatic lighting and a unique construction style. The exterior was the focus last month and saw them tackle the cockpit, body, wings, and landing gear. We should see a much more solid Pipeline for the Banu and it’s ships due to the delays that the Defender has seen.
Significant focus was also placed on creating a unique standard for the Tevarin, which led them to reevaluate the interior of the Prowler. Progress on the exterior, however, continued into greybox, with time last month going into designing the unique landing gear and bulkheads. They solved some of the technical challenges presented by the unique features on the wings as they’re also the main thrusters and landing gear. They also polished landing gear systems across the board, with particular focus on tuning ‘settle height’. They also improved the player’s cockpit experience by working on HOTAS strafe animations.
Additional cargo assets were created for the Mission Team to aid with storytelling.
Crash and build stability issues were rectified and bugs affecting turrets, scanning, mining, and various vehicles were fixed. There is also an ongoing physics system refactor and began adding additional functionality to vehicle scanning.
More Economy Related
They have been doing work to ship balancing and pricing, specifically developing the capability to systemically set prices. In doing so, they analyzed the stats from current ships and identified balance issues arising from early development artifacts. They’re now targeting these issues and bring all vehicles in-line with the expected guidelines.
They also began implementing the new rental kiosks, which will allow players to rent vehicles from certain shops in Alpha 3.6.x. This also saw balance passes to make sure they have appropriate prices and rental lengths.
The selling of items from the upcoming ‘harvestables’ feature was discussed
Work was seen on UI concepts, signage, and posters for the interiors of upcoming locations.
The Weapons Art completed a final pass on the Hedeby Gunworks Salvo frag pistol and Behring GP33 ‘MOD’ grenade launcher FPS Weapons. The OMC frag grenade was completed and they began work on the new attachments for Alpha 3.7. Development also kicked off for the greybox for the Kroneg FL-33 laser cannon.
Engine & Backend
The Engine Team worked on support for tri-mesh splitting to optimize collisions and intersection tests, they continued work on geometry instancing, and optimized the application of networked states as part of the wider physics update. They also added raycaster support for collisions on overlapping zones. Recent optimizations include making vehicles ‘go to sleep’ when landed, not updating ship physical entity if parts move slightly, not looping through all rigid entities during the ‘apply state from network’ part of the physics step, and introducing the first elements of box pruning.
Work continued on removing the global render state along with graphic and fidelity planning BUT they also continued support for SOCS (with entity stability improvements), remove/respawn single aggregates to memory, and general game code. SSOCS has seen successful testing internally.
For Rendering, they improved anti-flicker heuristic for TSAA. They researched atmosphere artifacts at the horizon and made several major improvements. Some issues remain and will be fixed by a slightly different approach to atmosphere rendering. This new approach will unify the atmosphere, ground fog, and eventually clouds. For the procedural planet tool, they implemented a layout generation recorder for designers that allows the visualization of collision issues in the layout of space stations and other locations.
Adjustments were made to the transaction service, persistent data manager, and rental services. The first phase of the diffusion router mesh was completed and allows DevOps to manage how network traffic and server-to-service communication travels through the back end. They also finished the new matchmaker APIused by the platform teams for Spectrum.
The Xi’an language continued to be refined, with a whole swath of food terms added to the lexicon. Foundational work for on Banu language made excellent progress too, as more details of the race’s everyday lives were fleshed out.
Alpha 3.7 should also see the return of music previously removed due to a rework of implementation along with new audio to support specific points of interest.
Information of how players in Alpha 3.6’s found and used the new black-market locations and how much ‘fences’ take, as well as common player behavior (particularly regarding the new law system) was all looked at to improve gameplay in the future.