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Star Citizen Monthly Report – Carrack Updates & Vulkan

Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report looking at what CIG have been working on for the last few weeks and what some of their development focus is now relating to Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe. Star Citizen is currently undergoing it’s January Scheduling & Prioritization Meetings that should give us a more meaty and accurate Roadmap reflecting this years focus for the game and features BUT work has already begun on 3.9 as well as some of the features for 2020:

Environment & Gameplay Area

Planetary Tech v4 (which was the combined effort of many months work) is now out as is microTech. They are currently working on the interior of New Babbage with Space Port & Major shopping district as well as traversal between them which are nearing completion and will be ready for 3.9.

There is also various locations & missions to the planets Surface that needs to be added.

Planetary weather effects continue to be authored, with a particular focus on ground storms across all planets and moons.

There are improvements for massive shadows & work continued on planetary clouds, ocean rendering, frozen oceans, and wind bending for static brushes.

Improvements were made to the new palette/paint/tint system before it was handed to the art teams. This system will likely premier with environments in an upcoming Alpha release and later expand to other assets..

They have released some of the updated Space Station interiors, which is the first step in bringing the interiors in line with the new larger exteriors. There’s still a way to go before they’re considered finished, including adding more spaces to make them feel even more alive.

Work continued on the upcoming Prisons, this time mainly focusing on the interactive props, such as oxygen and equipment dispensers and prisoner status consoles. Progress was also made on the hi-tech prop set which will be featured at New Babbage.

They have been working on generic rest stop kiosk templates. This will make it easier and quicker to generate assets for future locations

They are also finishing up the new refactor of the restricted area system (which we’ll see in new features in 3.9 like the spline landing guidance).

Work has begun on the Pyro System as well as Jump gate effects being iterated on, including the tunnel effects.

They are working on Theatres of War (the new objective based Star Marine Mode) and improvements to the map shown at CitizenCon. It’s expected that it should be in some players hands by the end of Q1 2020 at least in somestate. 

Engine & Backend

They have been testing long-term persistence initiative for the inventory and ledger. 

Long Term Persistence in all it’s forms is one of the major things I am excited about.

They are continuing to integrate the Quantum Economy Simulation with their backend services, such as shopping and probability volumes. 

They converted all existing missions to work with the current and future iterations of Server-side Object Container Streaming (SOCS). This signals a major change, as players are now guided to specific locations before they’re fully loaded. More generally they are updating missions that are in the game now as well as adding new ones.

They continue to work on Vulkan Integration,  the new graphics pipeline and Gen12 render interface. They also continued the parallel refactor of existing render code in support of the new graphics pipeline and APIs. They have been working on game physics and soft bodies to get them looking good and performing well. 

Ships, Items & Interaction

CIG recently Released the Argo Mole, Multi Mining Ship and are about to Release the Cutlass Red to LIVE in 3.8.1. The Anvil Carrack had and continues to receive significant focus from the team; the exterior received a detail pass and some slight trimming to the rear to improve visual balance. The interior continues towards final art, with several areas not seen at CitizenCon nearing completion. The Carrack is expected Flyable by the end of Feb.

Vehicle Features have improved radar and ping detection for better scanning gameplay. They’re currently working on ItemPort despawn optimization, which will help improve general performance. Support was also provided for SOCS and long-range radar scanning.

They have started work on the Gemini C54 submachine pewpew.

2 Tevarin weapons were taken through the pipeline and will be ready for the release of the upcoming Esperia Prowler (planned for in March so this could actually be part of 3.9)

UI continued to have its building block system refined we will see better menus, interactions and panels in game. This can be seen on the new elevator panel, which has different versions for microTech, the Carrack, and low-tech locations despite using the same base canvas.

There has also been lots of work on the actor status display, which involved an updated element, which shows the player’s temperature, external temperature, and more. This is planned for release shortly.

Props further developed the quantum and jump drives.

There are various new interactive items and props they have been working on like access cards, servers and server modules, security gates, tarps, and flags.

They also continued work on lockers and crates used throughout the CitizenCon 2019 demo that contained the different clothing and armor needed for the player to traverse the hostile environment.

Time was spent on the Anvil Carrack and penguin plushies that should be making an appearance at an upcoming landing zone (assumedly New Babbage)

AI

Ship AI been working on NPC planetside traversal, this is vastly different from space flight for the AI.

Their first iteration involved generating a flight path suitable for the terrain height and local geometry.

This is then used to correct the path to ensure ships always have a specified minimal clearance to the terrain below while steering according to the inclination of the terrain. For example, a ship will favor a flight path through a valley rather than over a ridge. Hand-placed and procedurally generated objects (rocks, buildings, etc.) are not part of the terrain elevation information and are obtained by a different query. In the next iteration, they will integrate this information so spaceships can adapt their flight paths accordingly.

The same considerations apply to in-atmosphere dogfighting. The prototype of this was shown during the recent CitizenCon playthrough, with three security ships engaging the fugitive Carrack. 

The have completed work on AI Collision Avoidance – This system runs in the background during AI flight and provides steering correction if a collision is likely to happen with any objects or other ships.

There has been improvements to path following for Social AI to help them navigate and interact with the world appropriately. The Bartender has seen more work and is able to make a variety of drinks and serve them to patrons in a smoother way.

They have have been improving the combat experience against NPCs adding new behavior tactics for shotgun-wielding NPCs, giving them the tactical choice to get much closer to the target than before to make proper use of the weapon. They also began improving vision perception, NPC vision cones & AI Hearing. The main aim of these changes is to provide a better stealth experience for players. Also there are updates the system that generates cover locations and usage to enable AI to choose to only partially cover themselves.

AI Systems have also seen a lot of optimization making them lighter on resources, more robust and more resistant to desync.
And that’s it for this month, we can look forward to some updates on the Roadmap and especially 3.9 & 4.0 in the near future helping reflect current plans