Welcome to a Star Citizen Progress Update for the Persistent Universe what have the Devs been working on recently and what are CIG working on now?
The current focus is on features and testing for Alpha 3.8.2 and the next major 3.9 Patch. Though 4.0 Features are also being worked on. The Quarterly Plans are apparently locked now, which should mean that CIG have worked out what is deliverable for the 3.9 patch with great accuracy, also hopefully this week we will get that Roadmap for the rest of 2020 4.1 / 4.2.
3.8.2 should be live by the end of Feb and bring with it various Bug Fixes as well as the Anvil Carrack. It may also have a few other pieces of content potentially BUT let’s take a look at what CIG have been working on over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now.
Alpha 3.9 is the next major patch and that’s planned to be live for the end of Q1 2020 or the end of March.
They have been finalizing microTech’s moons and updating their geology assets for 3.9. The moons will be some of the harshest environments in Stanton and will offer high risk/reward opportunities for players daring enough to tackle them. This should be interesting gameplay.
They have also updated Geology to bring it up to Planet Tech v4 standard improving the visual quality and create more dynamic assets that better integrate with the various surfaces and biomes.
Wind now has specific strength values at different locations & specific maximum wind strengths per planet. Ocean rendering moved from a forward to a deferred pass to allow more consistent shading.
With the bulk of Planet Tech v4 complete, they are looking into improvements to the organic shader to enable it to take advantage of physical-based shading. This will allow the much wider reuse of assets as they will automatically adapt to the local biome (rock color, surface textures, snow/sand build-up, etc.). Better Looking planets, biomes and assets… Planet Tech v4 will continue to receive updates and improvements.
They’re currently adding effects to several new locations in the Stanton system.
There is a focus on New Babbage & it is almost complete, with only a few additions and final polish to come. They also continued to work on the modular space stations. The stations currently in-game are known as Tier 0 – a concept to prove the feasibility of the design, approach, and procedural generation. More structured and easily navigable layouts will be created along with procedural signage and other additions.
Work has been completed on improving the overall city lighting experience, especially during nighttime and when players are in transit as well as making tweaks to the color schemes. Lorville’s lighting has seen the city-wide glow added previously used on ArcCorp to help give the feeling of light pollution scattering into the atmosphere.
Levski’s exterior has seen updates also now making better use of prefab objects.
They are working on prisons and their associated features for 3.9.
There are various new prison props, they finalized the oxygen and ore machinery. A boxing ring was also completed that will allow for some much-needed entertainment while the inmates serve their time. The idea being that these may allow additional ways of earning merits. Which are required for your release (that or you escape).
Small stashes were also hidden around the prison, you should keep an eye out for extra supplies while you are there.
A new anti-personnel turret archetype was started, which we saw a sneak peek of last week.
It was a Klesher Automated Prison Branded ceiling mounted turret.
They’ll initially be used as deterrents in prisons, players can expect to see them cropping up around the rest of the ‘verse soon.
They are finalizing the Art for the Esperia Prowler which is now coming with 3.9.
They are working on the White Box for the Cutlass Blue, so that is in production and should be seen on the Roadmap soon, most likely 4.0/4.1.
The Anvil Carrack is also nearing completion and will be released by the end of February in the 3.8.2 patch. They are putting the final touches to the medical bay, cartography room, and cargo pods. They’re currently tweaking the lighting and making a final polish pass.
They’re adding functionality for multiple cargo manifests per ship that will allow for more variety when collecting cargo from NPCs. Work on volatile cargo progressed too; this cargo will need to be taken to a refining kiosk quickly and carefully to prevent it from detonating inside the ship.
They are finishing mining consumables. Once live, players will be able to activate a consumable to make mining jobs easier or correct mistakes made in the process.
They have been improving radar and ping detection, including simplifying entity detection, reworking the A/R marker display, and allowing low-signature entities.
They also implemented vehicle-to-vehicle loadout spawning, which will enable players to store and spawn vehicles within the cargo bays of other vehicles. This could mean we have it in 3.8.2 or more likely 3.9.
They worked on sub-targeting improvements to allow players to specifically target weapons and turrets after fully scanning vehicles.
There is ongoing work to the SDF shields, this will improve hit detection and effects, including extending shield gameplay to non-vehicle entities, like turrets, buildings, stations.
Higher-level design work began around event-driven missions and content… assumidily this is part of the dynamic mission system & economy with this in mind Tony Zurovec and co also started on the deliverables for the new Quantum editor recently seen at CitizenCon which helps support the those systems.
Physicalized component – Resource distribution is another significant feature currently under development. This will create a unified way to handle resources (power, heat, shields, CPU, etc.) inside a ship, station, or planetary settlement. The ultimate aim is to make the engineer role critical to large ships and to allow attackers to take out (or even sabotage) components.
They have begun working on food systems for the actor status system, this will have players eating and drinking.
AI & NPCs
One of the most important things for Star Citizen Combat AI, they have had improvements to the FPS cover generation and NPC cover-useage.
AI understand what is adequate protection and where to stand, crouch to make use of it while in combat.
Shotgun wielding AI behaviors were implemented & AI will find more tactically advantageous positions when shooting and are also able to change their speeds, move and fire, turn and fire without recalculating their pathing.
Ship AI finalized the new 3D navigation system. This uses a 3D pathfinding and collision avoidance system, with the goal to make AI pilots fully aware of their physical environments.
Each environment offers a different challenge though In open space, pilots need to take into account asteroids, comm arrays, and space stations. When flying close to planetary surfaces, pilots need to be aware of the local terrain elevation and physical structures that don’t belong to the procedurally generated surface, such as rocks, buildings, refineries, and towers. The AI works out the most sensible path based on the terrain, ships, obstacles and situation.
They also promoted a new AI system – Tactical Target Selection. Mission requirements (for the PU and SQ42) are getting more sophisticated and the current selection system, based on filters, is not able to fulfill all requested scenarios.
The Social AI are currently focusing on a bar location where players and NPCs can purchase bottled and draft drinks and ask the bartender to mix a cocktail. Players will be able to drink at a table, booth, or the bar itself.
They are building characters and clothing to deform at runtime appropriately without artifacts. They also have some of the tools in place to help build complex rigs for alien races & animals in the PU.
They have worked on NPC death reaction animations regarding actors and ragdoll body dragging. This was in addition to a big code clean up, to make everything a bit more efficient.
Work on new experimental hair features began, including a hair color model with base melanin and bleach/dye layers.
FPS Weapons & Gear
They have started on two new weapons – the Lightning Bolt sniper rifle and pistol.
The Character Team are currently texturing two outfits for microTech and wrapping up the tech implementation for two more, with a focus on cold-weather theming and variation. I believe this to be the Novikov “Expo” & Warm Weather Armor. They are also finalizing the Caldera suit seen at CitizenCon.
There are new shops coming in Alpha 3.9 with new props and assets for New Babbage. They started converting the existing shop UI system to the new building blocks tech, which will be a multi-quarter initiative throughout 2020… we should be seeing much better UIs, HUDS and more tactile interaction with buttons, panels, elevators and screens as well as improvements to the mobiGlas.
Backend & Engine
Work for Full & Long Term Persistence is continuing. They finished the advanced querying system for iCache (or item cache) and defined the optimal way of working with the game server and star hash services, there are wallet changes. Changes were also made to the hub server, which will optimize the service-to-client traffic.
They implemented concurrent/immediate queuing for physics & optimized physics for high level loads.
They have been optimizing the job manager, which is required for entity-component scheduler improvements, and modifying it to run all component updates in batches. The responsiveness of the batch worker was also improved.
There are physics threading and performance improvements, this sees 30 CPU worker threads now supported. Currently, they overlap with the job system’s worker threads. Job workers are optimized for latency. Long term, they plan to move the in-thread physics workload to the job system directly, which will require further changes to negate the potential for frequent stalls.
Engineering also supported the Gen12 renderer and Vulkan work.
Fog improvements & optimizations were also made.