Star Citizen with a Development Update / Info-drop AND the Monthly Report… What has Cloud Imperium been working on what’s coming up soon? What might we see before the end of 2020?
The first stage of cargo decks were completed, work started on refinery decks.
New station interiors and layouts were implemented and further iterations are planned for the future. New elevator panels are coming soon too.
They’re also planning to create emergency lighting. These lighting states will eventually be integrated into gameplay systems, such as power, and provide the potential for more Rest Stop variations in general.
Lorville now has security tower spotlights during the night-time. This, alongside other short animations in the cargo decks, provides a test case for adding more animated elements to locations to help bring them to life.
Gas Clouds and enhanced Points of Interest such as stations in nebula and interesting areas saw progress too. We should be seeing some of this come online potentially by the end of the year.
Crusaders Landing Zone Orison continues to see progress setting up a basic lighting pass.The main critical path elements are now established, including shops, transit systems, and habs, with most moving from the whitebox to the greybox phase. Crusader and Orison are planned to have a split release for Q1 & Q2 2021.
There is a lot of work going on with the new system Pyro.
The moons in particular received a lot of attention, being brought out of the whitebox stage and readied for feedback and polish. Pyro VI & Pyro V progressed well too, with the global look and various biomes of the planets defined.
It looks to me like CI are trying to push for Pyro or at least part of it for the Q4 patch by the end of the year.
Alongside this, they continued updating the Stanton system with the new planet brushes, which can be seen first-hand in Alpha 3.11. This is a prerequisite for the latest improvements to the organic shader and its biome accumulation feature, which is intended for release in Alpha 3.12.
Also, they’ve improved the general quality of planets bringing all older planets up to spec for 3.11.
The Mercury Star Runner is approaching the final art phase. It’s expected to reach the release-prep stage in October, it’s going to be released in a 3.11.x build almost certainly during the month.
The Hercules Star Lifter saw lift and hangar doors complete their final art pass and the habs make it to the art-complete stage. I would expect this to be a 3.12 release along with the
Esperia Talon which is close to art-complete; the final art pass was made (minus the landing gear) before it moving onto the damage setup and LODs.
They completed a Damage pass on the 100 series, which are currently available in the 3.11 PTU.
The Aegis Gladius had component access added across the exterior, assumedly in preparation for physicialized components.
SDF shields saw work.
They are working on iridescent effects for some upcoming ships and armor… I would expect the Talon to be one of those ships.
Ship to station docking work has started in earnest.
Also, Hard Ship to Ship Docking has continued including fixing various issues with the Kruger snubs and RSI Constellation. Testers can now properly get in and out of the snub while it’s docked in the Constellation.
The first functioning version of station docking was also completed. Currently, testers request to dock, get assigned a docking port, and connect with it.
Ship HUDs are getting updated & themed for their manufacturer starting with the Gladius and there is an ongoing mining UI refresh.
An as-yet-unannounced ship was developed further, and a bug causing shader damage to not initialize on large ships until players are extremely close by is currently being looked at.
They have been improving the behaviour and visuals of vehicle destruction, focusing on making the destruction of extremely large ships a satisfyingly explosive experience. They also prepared for upcoming improvements to radar, ping, and scanning, with the aim being to enrich the experience of discovering and gathering detailed information of entities while traveling on foot and in ships
They began reworking the mission manager app giving it more functionality.
Progress continued on the new reputation system. Additional design work and functionality was added, with focus on individual player reputations.
They worked on the new locomotion push/pull trolley system. When implemented, players will be able to manipulate trolleys and other ‘pushable’ objects. Templates were put in place, which means they can now update existing assets incrementally to work with this new feature.
In regards to 3.11, the narrative team have said – “You’ve seen their posters around the landing zones and heard their campaign ads, but make sure you read up on their latest positions before the polls go live this month. And don’t forget to cast your vote!”
This is referring to the Imperator Elections that start October 10th and there is clearly some form of community interaction involved here… I am always up for an in game event!
The UIs for inventory both for players and vehicles is being further iterated on.
They made further progress with fire hazards, further developing the code prototype, and making networking and performance considerations.
Weapons, Props & Animation
Work began a new set that includes scopes, barrel, and under-barrel attachments. The Behring FS-9 LMG began its first art pass, while the Gemini A03 sniper rifle entered the final art phase too.
Work continued on an armor set due for completion in Q4 2020 that the team refer to as “especially challenging to implement” due to changing geometry in the variants. Other tasks involved NPC clothing assets, mission-giver heads, and concepts for a utilitarian mining-focused armor.
The Character Team Said – “We are particularly excited to finally be adding more gameplay armours to the PU, as Design will now be delivering ‘armor design documents’ to us at regular intervals. Among others, we have started concepting a series of bounty hunting and tracking-focused armours. You can expect to see these in 2021.”
They worked on comms calls for pilots.
FPS AI worked on accurate ammunition handling. NPCs will need to reload and resupply if they have no ammo just like a player does. If they are out of ammo and can’t sensibly resupply, they may switch to a melee weapon if they have one available, OR surrender. Animations for surrendering and transition between types of cover have seen work too. General Detection and perception of other characters also saw improvements.
Characters standing on chairs and useables has plagued the game for ages and they are trying to fix those bugs. The AI Team have said:
“The visual bug was always caused by NPCs being attached to usables that would stream out and then stream back in when a player approached the area. In one case, the internal event sent to the player state-machine to request the re-attachment would be lost and never processed. In the second case, the character would stream in after the usable and several other characters. Those characters would then execute their regular behaviours and could ‘steal’ the usable from the non-streamed character, causing the usable to fail to attach once they were eventually streamed back in. We want to share this with our community to give you an insight into the necessity of catching these specific situations and making the systems that AI rely on as strong as possible.”
The long-term plan is to make extensive use of services to populate the environment and simulate areas when players are not around. This means a lot of these issues will become irrelevant due to the systems being used in different ways.
The Ship AI team has been focused on weapons, missile management, and capital ship combat behaviour.
AI gunners are more aware of the damage composition of their available weapon groups. If there is a choice, they may use energy weapons to lower a ship’s shields, switching or using additional weapons when appropriate. This behaviour and its efficiency is dictated by the gunner’s ‘fire discipline’ skill. [SEE VIDEO]
They tweaked ai ships spawning so they don’t all use missiles (in a group) at once, adding a sensible cooldown to the use of their missiles and a ship recently hit by a missile won’t be targeted for another missile strike immediately. Though this is based on the “AI Skill”.
NPCs can intercept missiles now; they will target and fire at hostile missiles with small/medium turrets trying to target torpedoes… Turrets also prioritize with small turrets typically attacking smaller targets and heavy turrets the larger ones.
They are further iterating on these targeting and firing behaviours.
Backend & Engine
The Backend peeps have been focused on deploying, testing, and tuning the meshed Loadout Service and Meshed Variable Service. They moved the flow of all variable and loadout data away from trafficking through the diffusion routers to a more optimal and direct path.
The New Gen12 renderer is important for a number of reasons including performance, scalability and comes with the much wanted Vulkan. Recently tasks included converting the game’s post-effects manager, which handles all ‘miscellaneous’ effects such as blurred vision and blackouts. The Gen12 core infrastructure was further developed to be compatible with the configurable graphics pipelines and the constant shader buffers were further polished.
Time was spent on the render-to-texture system, with the hook-up to the texture-streaming system now complete. This means they can now run-time-generate as many textures as they like and automatically load-balance the memory with the rest of the textures in-game.
They combated some excessive brightness issues. Render Work on the atmosphere, clouds, and unified raymarcher continued in earnest.
The team sped up and unified the optical depth pre-computations in the absorption layers of atmospheres. Among other things, this allows them to add an ozone layer to Earth-like planets, which will emphasize blue skies and enable correct shading during twilight. Pretty twilights.
And that’s it for the Monthly report this time, we will be looking at Squadron 42’s Report in some detail shortly too.
I am really excited to see what new ship they are working on… is it the RSI Odin Gunboat, Xi’an Cargo Ship or Mobile Refinery Ship… or something else?
What have CI got planned for us for the 10th of October and the IAE at the end of November? Could we see Pyro in some form by the end of the Year? What about the Hercules Star Lifter? The icache wasn’t really mentioned here, is that concerning?