There have been a lot of updates to Star Citizen’s Environments, Gameplay Area & Roadmap Updates relating to them, I also wanted to look at new Gameplay Features that are coming soon, that were mentioned in the Roadmap and Monthly Reports.
Currently for Alpha 3.8 microTech Planet has 61/64 tasks completed.
New Babbage and it’s landing zone exteriors 66/86 complete.
(The interior sections of New Babbage are planned for 3.9)
Rest Stop Space Station: Interior Variants 249/285
The 3 Moons of microTech are all sitting at 60% Complete Plus by task.
Planet Tech v4 was enabled in the game-dev branch and is being QA tested. According to the Monthly Report QA regularly test each star system, with individual planets being tested daily to stay on top of any new issues that may crop up as a result of changes.
This would add to the implications that CIG have more systems that they are getting ready for prime time beyond the Stanton System that’s in the PU and the Odin System that’s a focus for at least some of Squadron 42. Showing New Star Systems is a major expectation of CitizenCon. More generally improvements to planet tech should see better looking planets, moons, biomes & effects… with less popping in of assets and noticeable LOD changes. It also provides much needed resource optimizations to the game for these giant gameplay area.
VFX worked heavily on planet effect improvements, specifically on the engineering side. This included particle scattering queries, height-based wind calculations, a new half-resolution option for particles, and the ability to spawn volumetric fog as part of near-effect LODs.
They continued to improve the workflow for gas clouds and the low-poly building generator tool.
More generally they have been working on effects for inside stations, ship and new environments on moons and planets.
They are working debugging and improving environments, they are verifying new changes to moons and planets using locally exported object containers and will perform a QA test request for each location once Design have completed their re-drop of all surface-side locations.
They are testing AI placement and making bug fixes across various landing zones as well as working on usable placements in existing and upcoming landing zones.
They have also been creating a ‘biome accumulation’ system, which is the basis for a variety of effects such as snow, frost, dirt, mud, and dust. The system itself will require a combined effort from the art, graphics, and code teams over the coming weeks and months.
They also continued to work on microTech and New Babbage. The frozen planet type provided challenges but also opened up many exciting opportunities and possibilities. We will see tannoy systems at New Babbage too broadcasting various info.
They also generated ideas for possible additional harvestables to be added in the future with a focus on microTech’s cold climate.
They continued with the ‘hi-tech’ props for New Babbage. This involved focusing on the landing zone’s infrastructure, consoles, information signs, counter sets, and wall dressing. Work on interactive props for the same environment began too.
They have been creating the interior screens for the here too, which involved defining a UI style that fits the microTech brand. They also kicked off animated adverts for microTech products.
microTech itself has also been a focus, with multiple biomes and assets finalized and distributed across the surface.
CIG said “Progress is going really well and we look forward to sharing microTech’s full visual range in the near future.”
Alpha 3.7 saw the 1st implementation of caves, which are the first natural design environments built using the procedural tool. The Devs consider them a great proof of concept and welcome addition to the tool itself. With more content being tied into procedural generation, the speed in which they create new content will increase going forward .
New Rest Stop interiors are also coming with Alpha 3.8. With so many new rooms and multiple versions of each, the challenge is to ensure visual consistency between each location, that lighting blends nicely between rooms, and that pathways are clear to the player. The lighting of New Babbage is also underway, with them currently making a pass on the main city and spaceport exteriors.
On more of the Technical Planet-side, they refactored and extended multi-cascade support for terrain height maps so dependent effects can better incorporate it for their own purposes (such as terrain shadows), and worked on cascade debug visualization to allow artists to efficiently tweak important height map properties. Regarding planet terrain shadows, they added a simple code interface and shared shader code for the application on the client side, provided support for temporal anti-aliasing, and completed the initial code and logic support for multi cascades. Work on planetary ground fog continued too. This involved the initial release of SOCS, adjusting code to cope with very large objects, making exception handler improvements, and adding API to asynchronously create a core dump without affecting the calling process and leading to a crash.
They further developed the new planetary terrain shadow system. This will eventually allow shadows over greater distances with large scale softness (penumbra) at less cost than the current system. Development of planet surface shading continued and is nearing completion, with improvements to the accuracy of surface normals at every scale and the addition of a separate layer of textures for cliffs.
There is Major Effort focused on Server-Side Object Container Streaming, which is a major engineering overhaul that will eventually result in the dramatic improvement of in-game performance.