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Squadron 42 September Monthly Report

Welcome to a Squadron 42 Monthly Report… we look at where Star Citizen’s Single Player Campaign progress lies and what’s being worked on now in September.

Still no hard dates on SQ42 Episode 1, We are still waiting on their new “Briefing Room” Series that will take a look at SQ42s development and features AS WELL AS the New Roadmaps that are being worked on for both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe, tho we have now see at least a mock up of those… basically conveying more accurate and detailed information on the feature in question, it’s sprints and teams allocated to it.

We don’t yet have an indication of when Squadron 42 Episode 1 will be released beyond rumor… But with the announcement of the Geforce 3000 series it’s likely we will all be playing it as intended graphically!

Though a significant portion of the AI Team’s work is relevant for both SQ42 and the PU, some ongoing tasks are exclusive to the single-player campaign at least at this stage. This includes continued iterations on Vanduul melee behavior & Vanduul Lance, which now automatically evaluates the suitability of specific special actions (dodging, jump attacks, melee attacks, etc.).

Regarding melee attacks, damage is now triggered by collision with the weapon’s blade to enable timing and assets to be tweaked and adjusted. The Vanduul lance has several states that can be utilized by the behavior, including extending it when preparing for melee attacks or keeping it collapsed when firing or aiming. These weapon state modifications are triggered by the behavior based on general context. Vanduul health was also further developed to reflect the different skeleton and activate the correct damage when it receives hits to different areas.

Character artists finished modeling and texturing the Vanduul armor and passed it to the tech artists for rigging.

They have also further developed the Vanduul language, which involved a deeper dive into the alien race’s culture.

For Social AI, the recently devised bridge crew behavior now uses operator seat functionalities expanding out their idle and fidget animations. 

SQ42-specific behaviors and functionalities were set up for vendor characters. Work also started on usables for the mess hall that will allow NPCs to collect and consume food systemically. When complete, NPCs will be able to collect cutlery and plates, serve themselves food, and then occupy seats to eat and drink.

The Social Design Team continued to work on scenes, usables, and NPC behaviors. They moved ten scenes to the ‘gold standard’ level, where everything plays out as expected in the final game. These scenes vary in complexity to give the team an accurate representation of how long it will take to complete their tasks for the rest of the game.

The Level Design Team continued to polish the ground-based levels while maintaining a strong focus on AI behaviors and multiple traversal routes.

The development of important dogfight locations continued. This involved working closely with the Flight AI and Art teams for support on use cases and space-scaping respectively.

The Character Team revisited a few key heads & faces cleaning up skin textures, refining hair and facial animations. 

They also began coordinating with Tech Animation on the Xi’an race, ironing out major anatomy and animation issues.

Cinematics continued to make things look more… well… cinematic in scenes where you are focused on a character, they can blur the background subtly as well as improving character lighting rigs so they look awesome.

Several scenes moved past the ‘implementation complete’ phase and into production. Once production is complete, scenes are fully playable and deemed almost shippable, though a final pass is required to tweak and finalize lighting, VFX, UI, and animation.

Attention was also given to sequences that play out if the player reaches a ‘game over’ condition due to behavior not befitting a UEE naval officer.

I assume that’s attacking co-pilots or friendly’s or going AWOL.

Interrupts were added to several chapters as part of ongoing scene work too.

Gameplay Story continued to work thorough the key introduction of a ship early in the game, and two days of mo-cap was completed in the Derby studio.

“It was a little more challenging to work in a COVID-safe environment, but it was great to get back into the studio after such a long hiatus.” – The Gameplay Story Team

This has enabled the team to complete some long-standing tasks that could not be addressed through hand-keying alone.

Narrative reviewed the game and completed scenes and Started to call out potential moments that could benefit from additional content, such as filling in potential lulls or calling out gameplay mechanics. After scripting, the hope is to record placeholder versions of the audio to block into the game and see how it plays. This approach will allow them to field-test new lines in situ and iterate on them long before official capture. 

A new concept for a medical device used in some of the larger ships was completed too.

VFX Tech Art continued to support gas clouds, which is predominantly now in the bug-fixing phase. They also continued to improve the texture sequence creation process, creating a faster, more streamlined workflow than the current one (which involves several different software packages). This is important to allow the artists to be more incremental with fluid sims (and exporting them as baked texture sequences), which will ultimately lead to higher-quality explosions, smokes, and fire effects.