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Chris Roberts Reveals Deeper MultiCrew Plans

Welcome to some more Star Citizen, Chris Roberts Creator of Star Citizen and Head Honcho of Cloud Imperium has been keeping a low profile the last few months, in fact such a low profile that many backers of the project have wondered where he is as we have not seen him in quite a few months, has he escaped to an island, got the doom flu, been coding the physics system there was a lot of speculation some plausible some not so much. 

HOWEVER Chris Roberts has just been sighted on the Spectrum Forums!

There was a thread Atmospheric Room System – 4 years later from Camural asking where were are with the Room System which tracks atmospheric composition in and between areas and how they move when doors & bulkheads are opened.

Chris Roberts Replied!

“The Room System has been in the game for quite a while and fully works including equalization of gases / atmosphere between room volumes (including dissipation into the global room aka open space / vacuum)

When you suffocate for lack of oxygen that is because you are in a “room” with not enough oxygen.

The Room System is basically how the game describes volumes of gas, their pressure, density and temperature so a planet has a room (it’s atmosphere) a ship has rooms (various compartments between bulkheads), even “The Coil” in Squadron 42 has it’s volume described by a “room”.

We use it for the Player Status System (breathing oxygen), for atmospheric flight (the room system contains all the information in terms of density and composition of the atmosphere in terms of gasses that flight model uses to calculate drag and lift), weather (some of the current weather ground FX are partly influenced by the room’s temperature, density and even composition of gasses in the atmosphere), contrails (in atmosphere and in space gas clouds) and atmospheric entry effects on ships.

So the Room System is very important for a lot of systems and has been in Star Citizen for years.

What @MGibson-cig was saying and may have been lost in translation as you don’t know our internal terms is that rooms can have two states; mutable and immutable. Mutable means that the room has a finite amount of density / pressure / gasses which can pass to another room if it is connected to it and there is a difference in pressure. So if you open an door to space from your Aurora if the internal room is set to mutable the atmosphere inside will escape outside. Immutable means the room has what is considered an infinite amount of gas and it’s pressure won’t change. Planet Atmospheres are immutable rooms, as is the vacuum of space. When we first set up rooms on the vehicles we didn’t have the life support component (and it’s related vents) implemented yet so we had no way to supply more oxygen to a room that had lost it, so the designers set the ship rooms to immutable (infinite supply of oxygen basically) as a temporary measure because otherwise if you opened your door in space you would lose your internal breathable atmosphere and suffocate if you didn’t have a space suit on. All ships have rooms, and in fact why people occasionally suffocate on a ship in some places is because the room volume hasn’t been set up correctly and there is some part of the ship without a room, and without a room there is no atmosphere and the game treats everything outside a room as vacuum.

We have the initial implementation of life support components and their connected vents working internally but rolling it out for the ships will take a while as we need to literally “plumb” the ships with a set of extra components, not just the life support component but all it’s vents. We have a few other systemic ship features like more interactive cockpits (DCS style) we’ve been working on, as well as the dynamic fire system (which also uses and affects the room / atmosphere) and an update to the “pipe” system that shares resources like power, heat, fuel, atmosphere between components that will be more flexible and scalable so it’s really a matter of scheduling when we do passes on our huge number of ships to set them up for the new systems that are waiting and the ones to be ready soon; As everyone always has more work than time it is going to be more efficient to update multiple things once we crack open a ship to update it, hence some of the functionality we have waiting in the wings hasn’t been rolled out just yet.

There is a lot of very cool systemic gameplay that we’ve been working to finish off in the background for ships that once all together will create a spaceship simulation like no other. Let me give you an example that factors in our new physical damage (that we are working on as I type; this is one of things that I’m pretty involved in), fire, room, pipe and player status systems.

A ballistic round passes through the ship’s shield, which scrubs off some of its kinetic energy but not enough as the round’s velocity was high as was its mass as it was an armor piercing round. It manages to penetrate the armor and strikes an internal component, say a power relay node (something else we are working on as part of the pipe system refactor). The power node takes damage giving it a chance to “misfire” while in use. A few minutes later the node does misfire, blowing its fuse and resulting in it catching fire. The crew of the ship doesn’t realize a fire has broken out in one of the side corridors, as they are busily concentrating on fighting the ships attacking them. The fire starts to spread along flammable surfaces, and as the fire starts to engulf other components they also catch fire. The engineer on the bridge of the ship sees his console flash red giving him a warning that several components have failed and looking at his ships schematic he sees a fire has broken out below decks. The engineer decides to seal the bulkhead doors on the corridor to contain the fire but the doors have no power as the power node is out! He comms one of his crew mates to leave his turret and grab an extinguisher and put out the blaze which is slowly creeping towards the power plant room. Fire reaching a ship’s power plant or it’s ammo stores are two sure fire ways for your ship to go boom. With the physical damage system ships will no longer just explode when their hit points reach zero, they’ll explode because something inside them went critical and exploded (due to damage or heat), which then damages everything else. Outside of that damage will affect the ability of the ship to function or it’s structural integrity so they also could become a lifeless hulk as much as they could go up in a flash of light. When the crew member gets to the corridor where the fire has broken out and it has already consumed a huge amount of oxygen in that “room” (the corridor) and has released noxious gasses, so the crew member can’t breathe and quickly retreats to put on a fire resistant suit and helmet. The engineer in desperation manages to reroute power away from the destroyed node through a secondary node restoring power to enough of the bulkhead doors to allow him to contain the fire. Noticing that there is an external airlock in the sealed off area he opens the airlock, venting the oxygen in the sealed off corridors and rooms to the vacuum of space, depriving the fire of the ability to burn, putting most of it out. By this time the crew member is suitably dressed and can extinguish the fire that made it past the bulkhead door before it can grow again. The engineer then reseals the airlock and allows the life support system to replenish the air in the vented part of the ship. Once done the engineer opens up the bulkhead door allowing the crewmember in with a replacement fuse for the power node, restoring power to that section of the ship, then returns to his turret. It’s been a close call but the ship is still alive and in the fight!

What I describe will be possible once we have finished and deployed the systems we’re working on. I know it can be frustrating to wait for all of this functionality to be online but I promise you everyone is working as hard and as smartly as possible to get there; we are just going for a higher level of systemic gameplay (versus scripted) than most if not all games, and to architect all of this so it works in multiplayer at scale is no small feat.

I am very invested in making Star Citizen’s gameplay as systemic as possible as I think this will open up so many possibilities of emergent and immersive gameplay. The downside of this approach is that it takes longer to see results as opposed to scripting actions as you have to build the fundamental systems first and have them interact with each other before the full extent of the gameplay becomes apparent. But for the long term, and for people’s ability to lose themselves in the universe of Star Citizen for many years to come it is the approach that will have the best results.”

It’s genuinely great to see that Chris is active again! Hopefully we should actually see him in the near future. Though not essential to see Chris regularly about the project… it would be nice… it’s a bit of reassurance and information from the big man himself… he should be locked up in his Castle… that said I think everyone has been a bit locked up over the last few months… so maybe it’s as simple as that.