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Squadron 42 June Update

Welcome to a Squadron 42 and AI Update, looking at the monthly report from June 2021 and new Squadron 42 info we have as well as general AI updates that also affect Star Citizen. 

While we still don’t have any release dates for the Single Player Campaign yet, we can see work going into 2022 currently tho… Let’s take a look at a summary of that latest Report tho: 

The AI Feature Team further developed combat, including the ability for enemy fighters to finish off their targets  with execution animations. This involved adapting the existing stealth takedown system for use by AI and making it more data-driven so that it supports different types of takedowns. 

For spaceships, AI Features adapted the fighter combat behaviour to better utilize missiles. This involves selecting the right type and number of missiles to fire so that NPCs don’t exhaust all of their high-damage missiles on smaller targets. In group combat, this ensures that missiles are spread over a range of targets and are rationed for use throughout the fight. This leads to interesting behaviours where fighters will ‘soften up’ targets with a barrage of missiles before engaging in dogfighting, firing occasional missiles at opportune moments. They also worked on the pilot security behaviour to fix issues that occur when a target has surrendered or been arrested. 

As part of the larger security behaviour, work continued on the weapons training behaviour, where NPCs can improve their combat abilities by using a firing range. Firstly, a weapon has to be retrieved from the armorer that is itself a task to complete. For the firing range, the team had to adapt the existing targeting and firing systems to support non-agent targets. This technology will be used in the future to support the targeting of ‘destructibles’ in combat. For example, the AI might need to take out a computer bank to complete a mission objective. The groundwork for targeting specific parts of the body (eg. headshots) and ‘non-human-bodied agents’ (e.g., animals) was completed too. 

They also further developed untrained weapons combat behaviours and prepared for an upcoming mo-cap session for untrained cover behaviours, responding to dead bodies, hostile reactions in usables, cowering, and surrendering.   

AI behaviours received work this included polishing the tourist and tour guides & wild lines. The shopkeeper gained more usables that players would expect to see in food and drink shops. 

As well as ways to serve players differently if they choose to eat in or take away. 

The security guard was fully designed and prototyped. This behaviour offers great gameplay opportunities in an emergent or systemic way as it fulfils scenarios of NPCs acting as law enforcers, information providers, gatekeepers, and greeters. 

There is work on background life for the medical room when players respawn, including the systemic janitor and NPCs using the bathroom cubicle and sleeping in the bunk beds.  

Specifically, for SQ42 and Aciedo station, they have been identifying tactile interaction opportunities and working on useable. These usables, working with scripted AI Paths, will help to create mini-scenarios where the AI appears to look for hostages to dry-freeze. 

AI Tech completed important nav mesh & Subsumption Work. 

Work on NPCs EVA transitioning from zero-g into a usable (and vice versa) was completed. They began developing zero-g collision avoidance for NPCs, which allows them to avoid other characters (AI or player) and small objects while floating.  

Another feature worked on was planetary navigation. The aim is to generate nav mesh on planets that can be used by NPCs and animals around outposts. This will use physics information, so each time planetary tiles are physicalized, navigation meshes will be generated too. This is incredibly important to having NPCs moving around defending outposts, landing zones, bases and more as well as just having animals in game! 

The Animation team spent May working on Vanduul combat, hurt locomotion, firing range behaviours, SQ42-specific level usables, movement between nav meshes, and medical gameplay, including healing and moving players to beds. 

They also tested a rig for the Xi’an alien race, for both body and face, and supported several story scenes. 

The Character Art Team progressed with R&D for the Screaming Galsons. The next step is tightening up and defining rules for other armour types and starting on the bespoke Screaming Galson characters. 

The team wrapped up the polish pass for Trejo’s head and passed it to Tech Animation to update the rig. Her hair is currently in skinning, while her under suit and helmet are in modelling. They also worked on some characters for Aciedo and uniforms for chapter 4G. 

The Environment Art Team progressed with the space-scaping and approach to Aciedo. The station interior received lighting tweaks to portray the desired mood. 

Progress was made on creating interesting and believable terrain that incorporates canyons. Development of Archon station’s internal tram system, sewers, social hub, back alleys, and worker’s areas continued, while initial work began for exterior FPS spaces in chapter 13. 

Chapter 15 progressed, with Art working alongside Design to build out the environments for key moments throughout the level. Progress was made on the Bengal’s med bay and armoury, both of which are close to completion. 

The Cinematics Team created a tool to reference and play each landing gear compression spring in the vehicle setup independently. This enables the team to extract or retract a ship’s hind landing skids before the fronts. 

Cinematics also worked on specific chapter scenes and sequences, including a key Vanduul encounter and one involving the player hiding among fog and ship parts. Progress was made on the Bengal, including animating the bridge seats and attached screens. 

The Gameplay Features Team took the basics of the PU’s reputation system and created a single-player version for use in SQ42. The live version is a service separate from the game, writing out the reputation values to a database, whereas the single-player version runs as a part of the game itself, storing reputations in memory that can then be stored to the save game system. 

The Gameplay Story team focused on the second walk-and-talk for chapter 5. This involved restructuring animations and getting them to work with AI; and creating interrupt, idle, encouragement, and re-join animations.  

They also set up a holographic character, created accurate holstering animations, and updated several scenes to include the new medical gun. 

The Narrative Team focused on an expanded environmental storytelling pass for the Shubin Interstellar Archon Station, which included additional posters and advertising to help set the desired mood. 

They also had several reviews of one chapter, discussing how a player’s personal playstyle could impact the narrative and then making sure that the content would react appropriately. 

Boom that’s it for Squadron 42 and AI updates from the Monthly Report Today!