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Squadron 42 April 2020 Updates

Welcome to some more Star Citizen well, Squadron 42, the Single Player Campaign.

We are looking at the Monthly Report and the Progress made over the last few weeks.

Squadron 42s Roadmap is currently being reworked at least in the way it’s conveyed to the community as it was not representative of the non-linear development of the game. Lots of tasks wouldn’t be marked as completed until near the games feature complete Beta and therefore it wasn’t particularly useful from a backer point of view. 

The last we heard was that Squadron 42 Episode 1 is planned to have it’s Feature Complete Beta for Internal Testing for Q3 2020 HOWEVER it’s long been suspected that this would see a delay of a quarter or 2 (as is tradition) AND this was before the current Global Situation and CI working from Home. CIG have said they remain confident that there won’t be much in terms of disruption to the project as they have the infrastructure to support working from home and remote development already in place. We are awaiting further info on that from CI currently.

They have been finalizing parts of the Vanduul, including several individual characters and the themes of the Occuri (the Vanduul operate in isolated clans, known as Occuri, each with unique cultures, laws, and visual norms).

The Weapons Team made their initial pass, setting up New Vanduul Weaponry in the pipeline and expanding the set to incorporate various size options. Once complete they will move onto MASSIVE S7-9 Behring Lasers.

Hair saw work and CIG have said it’s “one of the most difficult assets to get right”

They are working on some new tech and the pipeline for hair to make lots of good looking styles in the future.

They made progress on Uniforms for the Bridge Officers and Battle Dress Uniform, once this is done they are moving to deck crew and engineering.

They’re are currently looking closely at the setup of characters seated at the bridge of the Idris and will work with Social AI in the coming weeks to further bring them to life.

Level Design are still working with FPS AI to integrate prioritized behaviors and the patrolling tech updates, which will allow NPCs to engage in realistic upper-body conversations as they walk. The Dogfight Team are currently layering in updated flight AI features, such as formation flying, as they’re delivered by the AI Team. The teams synch daily and continue to polish levels with new technology as it becomes available.

Designers implemented a new way to trigger story scenes and conversations, which is more flexible and significantly reduces scripting and setup work. It allows the designers to combine various parameters, such as distance and time nearby, if the player is in the field-of-view of a character. This will make scene triggering feel much more lifelike. 

Cinematics began implementing the ‘interrupt’ tech into appropriate scenes. 

Characters can be talking or doing an action and that be interrupted by a player walking away OR bumping into them OR another NPCs interrupting.

They are looking at a scene and how it plays out before deciding on the time windows available in the performance that a player can interrupt or abandon. This determines whether the existing motion capture (mo-cap) is suitable or if additional animation work is needed. As most scenes are mo-cap based, the team must carefully assign breakout points to allow NPCs to react to the player abandoning them. Once the cinematics and level designers have added their interrupt markup, the animators break up the animation fragments, being careful not to lose interesting elements of the performance. It’s a fine balance, as too many interrupts create excessive work, but not enough could leave an NPC referencing player absence in an unrealistic way.

The Narrative Team continued reviewing levels and sharing feedback, including identifying background conversations that were missing satisfying conclusions or featured suspiciously quiet participants. To solve this, they wrote and recorded placeholder lines that will be captured at a later date. The team also worked with xenolinguist Britton Watkins to continue developing the Vanduul language, including how physiological features could potentially be incorporated

The VFX Team completed their work on the Aciedo Station interior and Vanduul Specific VFX. They’re also close to phasing out the old CPU particle system. This involves adding the last few remaining core features from the CPU into the GPU system, such as support for the material shaders for effects like refraction, shader triggers, audio entry function calls, and light casting. This means prettier more efficient particles in game.

AI had a load of other work we covered in the PU report (Linked Below)

Briefly tho they are working on getting cover for FPS NPCs in a good state.

Also Social NPCs are being worked on for their patrol routes and ways they interact with the environments.

Ship AI have had much needed improvements to Avoidance & Pathfinding as well as combat maneuvers and behaviors. They are working on Capital Ship AI too.

And their QA guys have been testing Combat and ship AI for the various scenes in the game.

Engine wise again we covered it in the PU report. There was progress on getting SC Scaleable on many more CPU cores and Vulkan Integration Continues.

And that’s it for a Squadron 42 update, please consider watching the PU update video as well as it gives a lot more information and most of the progress is relevant to both games.