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Star Citizen Alpha 3.12 Post Mortem

Cloud Imperium Released a Star Citizen Alpha 3.12 Post Mortem I want to summarize that rather lengthy piece here focusing on what CI implemented, what worked, what didn’t and what they are working on now.

The Vehicle team worked on how Capital ships function and perform and helped deal with the increased lethality of torpedoes with smarter and more effective AI countermeasure usage, which allowed us to have the XenoThreat event. 

They added the ability to choose the type of countermeasure and how many are fired in a burst, there are HUD elements to show how many of each type they have left along with the current burst size. Changes were also made to how countermeasure types work against all missile seeker types, but they changed how effective they are depending on the type and number of incoming missiles. Decoys replaced flares as a time-limited point distraction, and noise replaced chaff, becoming an area-of-effect signal blocker. There are minor variances in Missile tracking so a successful countermeasure would not divert all missiles equally.They also added a panic function that empties 25% of available countermeasures in an attempt to overpower a surge of incoming missiles. 

A much-requested quality-of-life feature was added. Vehicle Entry Identification, this allows players to quickly identify the points of entry into a ship.  

The Esperia Talon and Talon Shrike were added with Alpha 3.12, which also had the teams add Hard Surface Shaders and iridescent materials. 

The reputation system was partially released in Alpha 3.12. While it isn’t visible to players yet, they are able to experience it through mission givers and some of the mission chains. The bounty hunter chain is the most notable series currently. Not every mission has been converted to the new system though. 

The Systemic Services and Tools (SST) Team continued working on the Quantum simulation and integrating it into services alongside internal presentations of new technology that they’re excited to share with the community soon. They also created new tools to support the upcoming reputation system and the way reputation is distributed across the game universe. 

Design Team – AI can intercept Torps now, though accuracy is poor based on server issues.

They can target, hit and attack threats much better but needs further tweaking

Capital Ships are aware of their positioning and distance when engaging ships, using their weapons appropriately, though it needs further work.

The new elevator panels are interactive UIs that can be easily modified and skinned for future variants. There are a few bugs they want to fix.

Refinery Gameplay have each station have material specializations, workloads, and the ability to refine, collect, and sell refined materials. The balance needs further work!

The entire Mining UI saw a huge overhaul making it a load more useful with info on everything you might need more easily accessible. You’ll see more updated UIs for various vehicles in the future too.

Core Gameplay – Multi-Tools saw a lot of updates with their new gravity module, this can pickup and move boxes both in space and on the ground at quite a range AND helps push various gameplay loops with cargo, salvage, looing, piracy, problem solving, EVA Traversal (as the gravity module can be used to pull you around), damage control, blockage removal and more…

The Tool has a limit of mass it can carry and the beam will bend more the more massy a item is.

In the future we will be able to change our trajectory in EVA while using the grappling hook function. We will see missions make more use of the Gravity tool soon as well!

Weapon Zeroing was added, making long range FPS pew pew more viable however there were some edge case issues with it.

They are going to updating LMGs to the same level of that of the new one in 3.12, in fact they want to overhaul a lot of the FPS weapons.

Locations – They added Space Station Refinery Decks & associated Refinery Gameplay.

We will be seeing specific NPC loadouts for these areas soon.

They made various Stanton Planet Improvements with planets and moons looking visually better now and future planets will make use of the new tech used in the building process as well as making biomes more natural looking. Terrain looks more detailed with more depth and sand/dust helps blend/embed rocks and assets further too.

They want to do some more updates to moons to give them some additional diversity.

They are building more asset packs for terrain building.

They have further improved Stanton System Spacescaping with much Gas Cloud! POI make extensive use of these now. However performance of these areas is low… even tho the 3.12.1 improved it a little. In the future we will see them tying together spacescapes and gameplay which then leads to smaller, volumetric gas pockets. For future gameplay opportunities, they’re looking at encouraging risk/reward gameplay inside the gas pockets with elements like lightning, radiation, temperature ranges, and flight handling.

Technology – There was lots of focus on fixing bugs related to lighting, gas clouds, shadows and particles.

The proportion of time spent bug-fixing compared to new features was higher than they’d have liked. Despite the slowdown in feature work, they did manage to maintain good progress on the new Gen12 renderer, which will be our primary focus for early 2021, so it looks like I may get my wish of Vulkan integration later this year.

The Physics worked on the volumetric soft body prototypes, volumetric deformation and many optimizations like event queuing. They have been working on physicalized shockwaves, box-shaped physics grids and bullet drag were added too. SDF support was improved and research started on improvements to the setup of touch bending vegetation that will have plants bend and break.

The initial draft of the cloud renderer was implemented and work on volumetric cloud shadows made good progress. Work will commence on improvements to local cloud shaping. Note that there’s still quite a lot of work to be done before release.

They have improved distance-related culling, you can now see players over 1000 meters away instead of just a few hundred or so. 

There were loads of networking improvements including Backend Services & Concurrency for more servers spinning up and better redundancy. 

There is better Spawning for Locations with Parallel Spawn Queues, this in general speeds up things loading in the universe be it missions, ships or your hab after spawning.

In preparation for persistent streaming, the entity creation process was decoupled from entity spawning. This allows us to “seed” the initial state of the universe into the persistent database by creating all dynamic entities prior to simulation. DGS (Dedicated Game Servers) processes will then stream persistent entities (spawn/despawn) from that database during simulation. This is an important stepping stone for a fully persistent universe.

Significant progress has been made towards Server Meshing and getting the process of separating and communicating between client and servers.Network Tech

They have made tweaks to game Time & De-Syncs – The accumulated result of all these changes was a significant reduction in latency and desynchronization issues in many areas, even under harsh test conditions for network and server performance. This will continue to be improved as they move towards Server Meshing.And that’s it for the 3.12 post mortem and lessons learned and what they are moving towards now.