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Chris Roberts on Star Citizen’s Universe Simulation

Chris Roberts has answered a couple of Star Citizen questions in some detail as part of his Ask the Chairman post where he said he would reply to the most upvoted question which was: “How is the Dynamic Economy shaping up? and is server meshing an essential requirement before Quantas show up?” from Rain Walker – This is Chris’ Reply.

“Tony and his team have been spending a lot of time this year fleshing out the internal infrastructure of the Dynamic Economy / Universe Simulation (Quantum):

  • Increasing data flow from the Dedicated Game Servers (DGS) to Quantum. These servers are what you as a client connect to, handle a player’s moment to moment simulation, and are what will be meshed together eventually. They push up to the overall universe simulation the state of all the players they are responsible for, but at a slower tick rate than they simulate (as Quantum doesn’t need to be 30 frames per second as it’s a much bigger picture simulation)
  • Linking to various game services; these are specific services for things like shops, commodities, resources, encounters (probability volumes, AI spawns), and service beacons that any DGS can query to get the global state of the universe. Services are how Quantum communicates the state of the universe (what you are calling the dynamic economy) to the various game servers. It’s done this was to not overload Quantum, each service caches and updates the global state of the aspect (say prices of items in shops) it is in charge of from Quantum (which is simulating this in a singular universe view) and then can share that on demand to the various DGS that query it. Doing this allows us to scale the DGS count and not worrying about overloading the singleton that is the Universe Simulation.
  • Reading state from backend databases like the persistent database (soon to be iCache) to track player state and assets
  • Improving Quanta (the representation of a group of AI in the Universe Simulation) ability for their traits and proficiencies to drive their actions and occupation.
  • Improving the Star Map and Player analytics so you can have a full view of the player’s activities (travel, combat, purchases etc.)

Last year’s demo at CitizenCon demonstrated the high level simulation approach we are planning to take but a lot of the “plumbing” necessary for a player to feel the effect of a dynamic universe shared by all players (not just solitary 50 player instances) wasn’t in, so the work that has happened since then was a necessary step to link it back to gameplay so people can see the cause and effect that a dynamic universe will bring.

Over the next couple of quarters the team is going to work on further fleshing out Quanta behaviors and variety (tourists, entertainers, blue-collar workers, white collar office workers, etc.) and continue linking the overall simulation to the services to allow it to start to drive things in the game you are playing, including the upcoming dynamic mission system. Fuel and repair costs are likely to be the first instance of pricing driven by the backend simulation (versus a formula in the service which it is now). From there we will slowly start pushing more of the Quantum simulation like encounters (Probability Volumes), commodity and retail goods pricing and stock, resource persistence (no endless random chance to mine Hadinite in the same point) to the services, allowing them to drive gameplay in the various DGS.

Tony’s goal is to have elements of the Dynamic Universe start to come online next year, likely towards the back half of the year, where player’s actions can impact both the Dynamic Economy and other players.

As far as Server Meshing being a prerequisite for Quantum, that isn’t the case. The server mesh is the optimization that will allow the universe to be dynamically broken up into individual islands, each of which is controlled by a DGS, allowing us to scale the concurrent player count inside a single unified reality beyond what an individual server could handle. How likely you are to run into pirates at a given location, what missions are being offered where and for how much, the distribution and quantity of valuable ores, and which shops are short on what goods and what they’re willing to pay to procure more is what Quantum, not the DGS simulates. Quantum is responsible for the big picture of the universe. Quantum is not dependent on the server mesh as it’s a level above the server mesh, but Quantum is what allows the server mesh to reflect dynamic state of the Universe. That doesn’t mean that Quantum is a prerequisite for Server Meshing though, it’s just the universe won’t be as dynamic without Quantum driving it. In the same way the iCache is not a prerequisite for Quantum, but when online it will allow more fidelity of object state and tracking in the Quantum simulation.”

Chris also looked at another “question” asking for support of language localisation:

“As an aside the runner up @GongYu ‘s post on the Chinese and Russian fan driven localization efforts was super impressive. I forwarded it on to our internal translation team; we just hired a localization manager in the UK to start focusing on our localization for Squadron 42 and Star Citizen; we’ve built our display systems with localization in mind but changing the font to chinese or cyrillic without us explicitly helping is impressive initiative. We are definitely very interested in working on foreign translations with the community, especially on Star Citizen which is a huge on going project. it fits in the spirit of Star Citizen as we couldn’t be making this game without all of you, and the lack of movement on the translation side was more to do with lack of dedicated personnel, which we have recently rectified. So expect to see us more engaged on this front as we go forward.”

I hope this helped and thanks to everyone’s questions.”

So their current goal appears to have the start of Quantum / Universe Simulation initially in 2H 2021.

Though not 100% required for each other Server Meshing, iCache and Quantum are mutual techs which help support one another and they are working on all of them.

If you want to learn more about the Quantum Universe Simulation then there are a couple of sources that are worth checking out.

Tony Z’s Presentation on said subject at CitizenCon 2019

And Jake-cigs AMA om Quantum from April 2020

I have a video – that looks at all that information

I hope that Chirs is able to answer questions like this more regularly. Something I omitted from that response was Chris also said “props to @mollybot-CIG for organizing AMAs for the community, it’s something we’re trying to do more of to make developer community interaction more focused” and I like the community interaction and info given in these.