Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report looking at where the current development of Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe is, what’s just received work, what’s being worked on now as we move into August 2020.
I wanted to Highlight a few development pieces first:
Backend Services worked diligently throughout July to make improvements to existing technology that will increase the number of concurrent players and provide a higher quality experience in-game and when logging in. They also finished major refactors to the variable service and item caching system that will have the same benefits. These new services will be coming in future releases.
Creature development continued and is now requiring the input of other departments. Creatures require AI and other support, so the team is working to secure the engineering manpower needed for a dedicated Creature Team.
They also created design documents and high-level plans for a number of exciting, large-scale initiatives that will be hitting the PU in the near future and beyond. I think this might be larger AI fleet battles and the Idris Fights.
Production wrapped up on Pyro III and Pyro IV, and the whitebox assets for Pyro VI were further developed. Pyro V is currently on hold due to it requiring gas giant tech, which is in R&D alongside Crusader.
The Crusader Mercury has moved to the final art stage, which involves iterating on feedback, adding textures, and adding LODs. Alongside this, greybox work will continue to hookup animations, implement interactions, set up internal and external doors, and set up RTT/comms calls. Additionally, Design will optimize flight, cameras, and visuals.
There was further work to develop Orison and Pyro, creating documents outlining the general tone, potential storylines, and environmental storytelling to help sell the intended experience. They also began constructing a narrative timeline for the PU, where they can map out projected storylines on everything from a local level to events covering multiple systems.
Orison’s design is making great progress, with the team finalizing large parts of the layout. A pass was also completed for the location’s important core systems and markup. A handful of rest stops received new layouts and plans for additional content were made with the Mission Team.
They have been testing new derelicts and locations on microTech’s moons.
Props worked on supporting the upcoming cargo stations with an array of shopfront and dressing assets, including shop kiosks, stands, shelving, and counter sets. Additionally, a rework of the MMHC counter set to comply with the new bartender metrics was completed. Work also finished on the microTech Simpod, which is on display at the FactoryLine shop. New props for Grim HEX were kicked off and support was given to the cooperative locomotion system too.
Area 18 is getting a lighting update to have a day/night cycle for it’s artificial lights.
They are planning on updating cockpit and pilot lighting as well as optimizing it as much as possible.
“Last month was exciting for the Organics Team. We’ve been waiting for a long time for some of the last remaining features of the organics shader and the planet editor to be finished and, this month, a big update came in: the planet editor now features brushes!” – The Environment Art Team
A brush is essentially a collection of ingredients that can be painted onto the planet. In the past, Environment Art painted color, objects, and ground textures separately. With this update, the team can now assign all of these to one brush and paint them at the same time onto a surface. And helpfully, everything can be changed on the fly.
The organic shader also received huge improvements in terms of terrain asset integration; the team can now tell each object to pick up either the color of the bedrock or the terrain. This can be done for the whole asset or selectively for each material layered onto an object
The Origin 100i series is nearing completion too, with technical exterior work and the holographic cockpit button currently in progress. Work also continued on one soon-to-be-unveiled ship. Another that won’t be seen for a while is currently in the greybox stage.
Alpha 3.10’s new aerodynamic system was iterated on too. Following feedback surrounding wind and how it interacted with the new system, values were modified and handling tweaked to make flying more intuitive. They also balanced the forces and torque on each ship to improve roll speeds and amend stall speeds for certain ships. Turbulence was also worked on, but this won’t be implemented until a future patch.
Looking to the future, they worked on docking, reaching a point where they can dock a Merlin and a Constellation.
Vehicle Tech – looked into vehicle entrance and exit times, investigating how to speed up the process without speeding up the animations.
They also worked on SDF shields which, when complete, will correctly conform to the ship even when parts have been blown off.
Time was spent linking gameplay systems, like shields, with SDF collisions. These improvements not only optimize collision impacts with shields but allow the gameplay to match the visual SDF. Additionally, the team ensured the collisions work with part detachment, part repair, and attached sub-items, such as turrets.
They have been working on improving the radar and scanning experience for vehicles and on foot, including experimenting with how capital ships could interfere or hide among smaller ships.
They also added a method to utilize SDFs to generate an accurate cross-section surface area of an object. This allows them to plan how ambient signatures from nearby objects, like stations or asteroids, can interfere with the cross-section.
Weapons & Items
Work concluded on the Behring GP-33 grenade launcher, which required tweaks to its ammunition and rig. Weapon Art also finalized the Behring BR2 shotgun and began roughing out the Gemini A03 sniper rifle.
For ship weapons, the Behring S7 laser repeater was completed and work began on some new turrets. A pass was made on the Behring S12 torpedo to include a destroyed variant.
They worked on several helmets and armors that will be revealed in the coming months.
They implemented the first version of the Trading App for 3.10.
“We believe that players will be thrilled to now finally have the option to trade various currencies with their friends!” – The Gameplay Features Team
Engineering continued their ongoing work on the Gen12 renderer moving systems over to the new tech or otherwise preparing them for it.
There was general work on CPU and code optimization. Memory optimizations and asynchronous spawning updates were made too to improve on demand loadtimes and efficiency. Collision detection was improved.
User Interface (UI) – They implemented new UI and targeting changes. And have also seen new updated fonts. They continued converting legacy systems to Building Blocks, this month focusing on the lens and comms calls. They also progressed with elevator panels, preparing them for release in the near future.
There are several upcoming features for 3.11 and beyond they are working on.
The Lobby service was reworked for better support. They are working toward multi-user private lobbies and group private messaging.
VFX completed pre-production tasks for Alpha 3.11 and 3.12. Included were the refinery deck (including large containers with molten liquid being poured into them), the Origin 100i series, and the Behring GP-33 grenade launcher.
Fire propagation also made progress this month, with the code prototype allowing propagation between entities and voxels across multiple surface types.
“Although still firmly in the prototyping phase, we managed to roll a flaming barrel across an interior surface and watch it set fire to the interior!” – The VFX Team
The team in Frankfurt worked to convert old CPU particle effects to the latest GPU particle system. This will bring both visual and performance improvements to some of the older CPU effects.
AI (Combat) work has progressed on dodging & aiming with appropriate animations for NPCs. AI will also be able to change fire modes for their weapons as well as find and refill ammo at appropriate containers or via looting. These items will then be stored in their loadouts. More appropriate Looting for players is being worked on.
AI (Ships) saw various updates to their logic and monitoring as well as extending the way weight is defined and calculated for their ships & loadouts.
Bartenders have seen a load of work and they are being used to develop general functionalities that will be used by all vendors in the PU.
The first pass of a feature that connects the different bars to the shop services was also implemented. This will enable the vendor to validate the price of items in relation to the player’s available cash and complete a transaction once goods are delivered.
Progress was made on the patrol path functionality that allows instant path calculation for short distances. This significantly reduces delays when triggering specific cutscenes or animations for a much smoother experience.
They also fixed several problems that were causing NPCs to stand on top of usables. RIP standing on chairs.
Work on the ‘chowline’ usable began too, which manages NPCs queueing for food.
Animation worked on force reactions, such as knockbacks, knockdowns, twitches, and flinches. They completed pre-visual work on zero-g push/pull, further developed grenade and object throwing, and undertook tests for high-gravity moves. Work continued on some new weapons too.
Time was also dedicated to developing Lockdown safety plans for when mo-cap shoots can begin again and they worked from some of the mo-cap backlog.