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Star Citizen Insider | Alpha 3.6.2 Wave 2, UI Updates & Game Stability

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, Alpha 3.6.2 is out to wider PTU, Inside Star Citizen looked at materials, UIs, FPS Weapon Customization, even more info on the Nautilus and mine laying and we also take a look at Server Stability with plans for LIVE builds of the Game, there is a lot to talk about.

Alpha 3.6.2d PTU is now out to wave 2, meaning that more backers beyond evocati, subs and concierge are invited to participate, though this is based on how active you have been on the issue council & your playtime. The next phase will be an Open PTU before the patch goes out to LIVE.

3.6.2 contains the 890 Jump which is it’s focus and a couple of general fixes currently, ship rentals still seem to be AFK from the 3.6 branch.

Inside Star Citizen Summary

Recently a materials review looked at over 400 materials that will be used across the game from clothing to weapons. They also took the opportunity to begin streamlining their tech for materials into a more systematic system, so they can more easily create new and blend materials. This will eventually see current and future assets look much better.

They have been working & experimenting on some different styles of livery for the Vanguard Harbinger and Sentinel, though they have yet to finalize them.

I suspect that the Vanguards will get added to the Website Manufacturer Customization around Alpha 3.7 as well, that’s just a personal expectation.

They have been working on the mobiGlas, customizations and color settings, in the short term they are looking at being able to assign different colors to different chat channels but there are more improvements coming.

FPS Weapon features have been implementing more weapon customization options for scopes as well as Barrel, Underbarrel and Magazine, we saw a suppressor for a LH-86 Ballistic Pistol. There were also compensators and Flash Hiders listed.

They are adding to the dynamic audio system that works out what sound for falling from different heights and with different loadouts. We should start to see some much better landings, when jumping, falling… if you survive.

UI – Foundation Set – They have been working on Updating HUDs, UIs, MFDs, Cockpits all with their new building blocks and updated UI Tech.

The previous system used flash and scaleform and was difficult to use, but now they can very quickly build functional easy to use UIs of anytype and with LOTS of functionality.

This new system is much quicker to deploy changes.

They can layout these UIs however they want for screens, consoles, inner thought, radial menus. Pretty much any discipline or team can now easily prototype UIs or test additions using this now.

Nautilus More Info – The ship adds to the more defensive type of longer game combat.

Both single players and orgs will want to use mines to protect assets, space stations or even as area of denile.

Maintaining minefields is part of this

There were 3 main design routes the Nautilus could of gone down, we can see the results of the one that was chosen. Heavily armoured, angular.

The Ship has 4 mine launchers that open up for deployment, changing the silhouette of the ship from all angles.

Scanning is going to be used to help detect mines BUT they are going to be relatively hard to detect.

So scanning focused ships are going to be good at detecting these mines, the nautilus is going to be able to do some mine sweeping with it’s 2 Nemo Drones.

EMP and Distortion weapons can temporarily disable mines as well.

Other ships will be able to assist in minesweeping, deployment and maintenance.

Stability Response

Last week’s ISC had some information that worried some players that being that regarding server and patch stability quoted from the QA team:

“it will generally be in a state where you can enjoy it for a couple of hours and that’s what we want for the the live environment”

User UKIS started a thread (Server Stability: Is Only A Couple of Hours For The Live Environment) – From what I understand, the goal is to have the server stability for only a couple of hours. With that said, I can speculate why this would be the case. Could it be you reached a technological bottleneck and limitation in the current networking ability to project server stability over a period of time greater than a couple of hours? Star Citizen is very much an alpha product and it is understandable. 

With that being said however, would it be possible to then spin down these bottlenecked servers for the live environment so that we can enjoy the alpha product more consistently until such time where technological stability could be implemented? 

Bearded CIG Replied

Hello! I’m a DevOps Engineer and also the one that came up with how we measure stability.

We define stability to be related to issues that cause sudden interruptions to the play experience. So server crashes, client crashes, and disconnections. What we do is measure how likely players are to run into one of these stability issues and use that as a gauge to decide on if we need to do more stability work, or if programmers and engineers can shift focus to working on other areas prior to releasing the build. For the current 3.6.1 build, the game servers have had an average uptime of about 12.5 hours before they encounter a server crash. Granted, that is an average so there will be some that happen sooner or later than that.

The reason why we tend to shoot for there to be a few hours worth of stability is because players need the game server to be stable enough to get through various kinds of gameplay loops in order for us to see if there are problems with things like server performance. However, we don’t spend time fixing absolutely every server crash because some systems where rare crashes may occur are due to be worked on in the future. In cases like that, we’d be spending a lot of useful programmer time fixing a rare issue that would go away in the future anyways.

I’m going to assume that with regards to bottlenecking game servers, we’re referring to performance issues. Server stability and server performance are two different areas. They’re definitely related, in that we initially focus on fixing stability issues because that allows the game server to run long enough for us to be able to identify performance issues. They also run into the same problems when trying to fix issues. Addressing performance and stability issues is an iterative process because often times, there will be a few issues that contribute to a majority of the problem and until those issues are addressed, there isn’t always a good way to know what the next issue is going to be. 

The area that’s been a big focus for us for server performance has been what’s referred to as Server Side Object Container Streaming. Given that I’m a DevOps engineer rather than a programmer, that isn’t an area that I’d be an authority on so here’s a Star Citizen video instead! 

With regards to if bottlenecked game servers can be turned off, we do something similar. What we end up doing is restarting game servers that are suffering but that’s only a temporary solution and the problem will eventually come back.

In a server environment where the game servers are being hosted in a cloud infrastructure and the game servers are created and destroyed based on fluctuating player population, how long do they need to run? Like any game, we’ll typically have a 24 hour peak and valley for our population because people need to work or sleep. Given that we’re using the AWS cloud to host those game servers, we don’t keep them up all the time. So in situations where the game servers can run more than 24 hours without crashing, there starts to be diminishing returns with regards to how effective stability fixes are at improving player experience. 

Rather than focusing on average uptime, once the game gets to a state that we consider it stable, we focus on areas of high importance by identifying which issues relative to how quickly they can occur and how many players it affects. This is important because using averages causes gameplay that is played most frequently to be the most stable and in turn, there may end up being other areas of gameplay which are played less that end up being unstable.

Also I wanted to note that Server Stability & Performance can cause issues with AI, NPCs, the mobiGlas and more. CIG track performance data from servers and use that data to help make improvements.

Swag & Merchandise

They are clearing out a load of the physical legacy merch and building some new lines.

Monday the 2nd of Sept will see some of the merch discontinued. I’ll link to a thread about what exactly is getting retired below. There is some new Aegis Merch that has just been released with the Nautilus unveiling as well.