Star Citizen with a highlight of the Squadron 42 & Star Citizen monthly reports for the end of Q3 2019, with a focus on features and updates that the teams are currently working on, there is a lot of juicy stuff here with work on new planets, some secret teasers, SOCS work, work on Persistence (which may lead to saved progress between major patches), new gameplay & improvements some of which is coming soon.
They have been prototyping several new missions that will task players with, among other things, recovering a hijacked ship, solving puzzles in a new location, capturing points, and helping the criminal community. The next expansion of the law system was worked on, which will involve paying fines, removing crime stats, and impounding ships.
They also continued developing three important yet currently secret features.
Tweaks and bug fixes were added to the combat assist Service Beacon missions. These new versions have more variation, some of which are considerably more difficult (and profitable) for higher skilled players. This is true of other mission they have been working on too.
They’re currently improving mission givers (with an eye towards implementing new ones) and creating new displays for the Hurston CBD main hall in Lorville.
They have been working on being able to consistently spawn vehicles in a more stable and predictable way.
Arena Commander & Star Marine have been getting some more dedicated updates, Dying Star has been made larger, pirate swarm now has 10 waves, new enemies and a hammerhead as a boss.
Ongoing integration of the team service will allow the development of new lobby features in Arena Commander and Star Marine. This service provides the concept of ‘squads’, allowing players to communicate with their teammates outside of the gameplay environment. This will also enable chat and voice services inside those game modes.
They continued to work on space encounters, with focus on layering the AI and pilot profiles to make the scenarios feel more realistic.
Melee combat improved and now features combos and melee weapons, while staggers and knockdowns based on force were added. For example, a pistol will have less effect than a shotgun, they were working out how to show the effects on a character’s body now. They have finalized takedowns (both unarmed and with knives)
They also completed animations for two new human enemy types & worked on new weapons for an existing enemy type.
There’s a new polish process for characters that they are starting to use.
They new hair pipeline has started to come together too.
They have been working on a way to dynamically populates a locker with an NPC’s outfit.
They also began developing new pipelines that will eventually lead the way to new characters and animals in the PU.
They are adding temperature to the actor status system. This will affect a character’s performance and health depending on how hot and cold they are and takes the environment, humidity, and windchill into account.
Full production also started on microTech working on the landscape and it’s variety of frozen flora, snow-covered forests, fields filled with ice boulders, frozen oceans, and mountain tops with extreme weather conditions. There has been significant improvements to the gas cloud setup and made raindrop shader improvements. This leads me to believe weather to at least some degree is potentially reasonably close.
New Babbage is moving out of greybox and into the final art phase. The layout is locked and the exteriors and interiors are close to the finished standard with the spaceport, interior domes, habs, and vast exterior cityscape all requiring a huge amount of assets in the new Hi-Tech art style.
They’re currently winding down testing for Planet Tech v4, which is scheduled for completion in October, which should see improvements to various visual aspects of planets & moons.
A new feature was added to color distant terrain based on surface-level trees and vegetation. This will ensure forests and fields don’t just appear when flying towards a planet.
Work also began on a currently unannounced location that will be revealed in the coming months. I am expecting this to be something for CitizenCon potentially for a New Star System like Pyro.
The Banu Defender is currently waiting for an all-new UI that will be added in the future.
They have finalized the RSI Mantis, though it should still need polishing. The gameplay the ship brings is unique. It has a deployed state for the interdiction device mounted to the rear of the ship and a “clear” canopy to give players a superior field of view.
They mentioned they are working on a very important upcoming ship. The greybox pass is nearing completion and some areas have already gone into the final art pass alongside material work. My assumption here is that it’s either the Anvil Carrack or a new Anvil Ship for CitizenCon.
Work also began on the first large quantum drive. This will continue into next month and include the development of a large jump drive, as the two go hand-in-hand. They are updating some of the existing hangar flair and hope to tackle more of the older assets over the next few releases.
SSOCS & Persistence
General work for integration for SOCS & Persistence was done, getting elements and systems ready to support it in full, a major overhaul of all missions for server-side OCS also began.
They are developing new services for progression persistence, inventory, and ledger. The goal is to provide a true progression layer independent of object state persistence, allowing players to keep their progress, ownership records, and currency across patches. Additionally, a reputation service is being worked with similar goals to persist affinity and antagonism between a player and game objects.
Some of those new services, the ‘shard ID broker’. This is a small service that tracks allocation of shard IDs to game servers and is a supporting system of the longer-term plan for a persistent state within the game. A new Solar System data service was added, which is used to track certain items and devices across the entire game universe. The first use is the new interdiction mechanic, though eventually many other features will use it.
We know that CIG are probably able to push for partial persistence in the not too distant future saving our aUEC & aUEC Purchases we make, my hope is that this is something that might be there with Alpha 3.8.
There is a good amount of AI Updates for FPS AI they have been improving the initial experience when players encounter NPCs, tuning first reactions to something viewable in the players’ peripheral vision and making the first pass on ‘low reaction’ behavior, which represents NPC reaction to something not particularly dangerous. For example, if they see or hear a cup being thrown. In these cases, the team wants to allow the player to draw the attention of an enemy to take them by surprise or drive them away from their location so they can sneak by, the sneaking system will have a small level of forgiveness so NPCs are not like hawks.
They made the first pass on accuracy and targeting controls for characters. This includes making the chest the preferred targeting location in FPS, with the following adjustments based on designer-defined accuracy values. Eventually, this will be connected & influenced by the skill system.
Ship AI worked to improve and balance ship behaviors, with a focus on the ‘DefendTarget’ logic. They also cleaned up the landing and takeoff code and slightly refactored how quantum travel (QT) logic works. This included simplifying the 3D pathfinding code by moving all additional steps into the behavior logic and TPS. Progress continued on new 3D pathfinding code, which involves moving a lot of the processing logic into jobs that execute small calculations while the ship flies around the universe. This allowed them to extend the movement system to support patchable plans that can resume the pathfinding calculation when needed.
Social AI looked at identifying and clarifying the possible scenarios required to implement a large number of social behaviors. They are starting to create infrastructure and behaviors and having them work together with useables this is all prerequisites of 24 hours schedules for NPCs
They prototyped the ‘item provider’ – a usable that provides an NPC with all the necessary elements to prepare a specific item. For example, a beer tap is an item provider that can provide beer, a fridge is an item provider that can provide food, bottles can provide water, etc.
This is more than just an example as they have been working on the Bartenders using these as well.
There was much fixing of bugs and making systems more robust and stable, also optimization work was done to general character navigation, including a way for navigation links to connect multiple meshes. This allows the modular creation of spaceships and stations to correctly define navigation volumes that can be connected to each other. It also opens up a lot of possibilities to NPCs, who can now systematically path through different sections of spaceships.
With Squadron 42 Scene work has seen a complex sequence featuring a navigation ship spline from a space station to a Bengal carrier completed.
They got nearly another 50 scenes to a good standard during Q3. they’re aiming to complete a further 50 for Q4. They also began working with Design to prototype what happens if players interrupt scenes or approach from unexpected directions.
They also created new characters and worked closely with Character Art on the alien species featured in SQ42.
The UI Team created designs and concepts for a new military helmet visor and MobiGlas which will eventually make its way into SQ42. They’re currently creating signage and posters to add a “retro-futuristic” feel to one of the new environments.
And that’s it for this month, I hope you like the more combined format of SQ42 and PU updates being together they do share tech so it makes sense to me.