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New Ships & Gameplay – What Are Star Citizen Devs Working On Now?

Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report going over what CI have been working on for Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in July.

Art (Ships)

The Ship Art tem continued moving the two Crusader Ares variants, the Ion and Inferno, through the pipeline. They’re aiming to move into the final art stage in the coming weeks for delivery in Q4. Whitebox for the Drake Vulture began alongside a new variant of a popular ship to be announced later in the year.

The Taurus got a polish pass ahead of it’s 3.14 debut.

June saw the UK team complete the final art and lighting pass for an as-yet-unannounced ship. They then moved onto the LOD (level of detail) process and exterior damage setup.

With the Aegis Redeemer’s exterior completed for Invictus Launch Week, the team moved onto the interior, completing the greybox phase ready for review in early July.

Gold-standard work also continued on the Sabre and Retaliator; the exterior lighting pass was done for the Sabre, while the Retaliator received reworked light and door controls throughout.

Finally, they revisited the Crusader Hercules to get the A2 variant ready for release, which involved adding a kitchen area for the crew and two large bomb bays in the cargo hold.

Art (Environment)

The Montreal-based Art Team worked to finish the remaining hospital locations, with the space clinics, Grim HEX’s clinic, and Area18’s hospital now whitebox complete.

On the design side, the team began using derelict pieces of spaceships to create puzzles, which will be populated with loot to encourage exploration and create pockets of new gameplay around Stanton.

They looked into defining building-interior gameplay, creating a prototype layout and looking into adding proper missions to it. They’re also defining how this layout will fit into the procedural location creation tool currently in development by the Tools Team.

The Landing Zone and Modular teams took the colonialism outposts through the final art phase before moving onto the second content set, which introduces more variation and additional themes.

They’re also close to completing the gas clouds that will surround jump points, including a second look for greater variety. Orison is currently being closed out, with most focus on improving performance and fixing bugs.

The Lighting Teams also focused on finishing out Orison, and it’s looking pretty awesome.

Gameplay Features 

The Feature Team continued work on actor status, adding different ways statuses affect the player. For example, if a player character’s blood drug level (BDL) becomes too high, they’ll utilize a specific intoxicated locomotion set and experience various on-screen effects. This will also affect the player’s control while on foot and piloting a vehicle by adding degrees of randomness. These effects scale with the BDL, and there are several ways to increase it. For example, a player can visit a bar and over-indulge in alcohol or they can overuse injury medication in a short period of time.

Another recent addition is the downed state. Unless a player receives significant damage when hit by what is currently a killing shot, they will fall over similar to getting knocked out. In this state, they’re essentially unconscious and slowly dying, though teammates can resuscitate them if they arrive in time.

They continued work on the player asset manager which is now named NikNax. With the baseline functionality implemented in May, the team began adding further features to the app, such as sorting and filtering and have created a logo and brand for it. They’re preparing NikNax for a Q3 2021 release.

The team also further developed the Ninetails Lockdown, working with QA to test and balance the Dynamic Event before its release in Alpha 3.14.

The cargo refactor has been expanded to include resource container work, while the designs for persistent hangars and a selling refactor began, with larger discussions set to happen in July.

In the UK, the team focused on features for Alpha 3.15 and 3.16, including loot generation. The team is now ensuring all setups are in place so that the boxes with loot are distributed with randomized valuable items.

They also began developing atmospheric depth damage for gas giants like Crusader. Once complete, the pressure within gas giants will damage players’ ships if they attempt to reach the core.

Ship-to-ship refueling began its production phase, which is a significant collaboration between the Gameplay Feature, UI, and Vehicle teams.

VFX continued their process of fleshing out the destruction pipeline, focusing on a Theaters of War map containing a huge explosion sequence.

UIs were developed for medical gameplay, and they also further developed the core tech for the new Starmap and connected it to the radar system. UI are currently focusing on the backend code that connects AR markers, the Starmap, interior map, and radar system. In-game functionality will come next, followed by UI in the future.

Features Vehicles

Vehicle Features’ work was a mix of supporting Alpha 3.14 with the new power systems and rebalance of ship combat, and ramping up the development of jump points. They also supported VFX in developing the new thruster dust effects mentioned in May’s report. They also made improvements to the docking feature that didn’t manage to make it into Alpha 3.13, such as allowing players to refuel, repair, and restock vehicles docked at a station.

A key feature of Alpha 3.14 is the new HUD technology, which is a brand-new way of creating HUDs that allows for much more depth and complexity than was possible before. Recent work involved ironing out issues and filling gaps to ensure the HUD covers the many cases that exist across different ships.

When possible, the team moved to build out jump points. Though this feature hasn’t had significant development time recently, progress is increasing rapidly as focus switches and more devs begin working on it.

Art (Weapons)

The Weapons Team continued with the mining gadget, taking the asset through to LOD-zero complete and updating the rigging before passing it to Animation. Three Subscriber weapon paints were finished and readied for release alongside a new knife for a future PU release.

The animation passes for both the standalone Greycat tractor beam and standalone salvage tool began. Other focus in July was on two new Size 7 Behring ship weapons, one ballistic and one energy. Both are for an upcoming ship release and are currently in the greybox phase.

Art (Characters)

They have been working on 3 armor sets which will also be getting variants for various events over the coming months.

They completed a pass on characters for Orison’s initial release.

Animation created a rough space whale loop for AI to test with and to help Design determine what else they might need in terms of gameplay. 

The Tech Team supported Alpha 3.15 alongside the Actor Feature and Design teams, which involved setting up a system for players to equip and unequip backpacks. They’ll be adding new backpacks to the PU in support of the feature. They also worked on holographic props of all their assets for the physical inventory UI.

Concept artists spent time working on event-themed items, created additional concepts for the Pyro system, and explored possible gameplay interactions with the space whale creature.

Engine & Backend

Systemic Services & Tools geared up for the next iteration of the Economy and AI Simulation, which has improved fidelity and interaction with the game itself and is easier to manage via new integrated tools.

The Game Services Team continued to focus on the Server Meshing project alongside working on service improvements.

June also saw the completion of the new multi-user private lobbies in Spectrum. This is the first step in connecting Spectrum groups to in-game chat lobbies.

Major improvements were made to the physics code of the game.

Netcode has seen further optimization and work has continued on the transition to the Gen12 Renderer and Vulkan.

Both the Graphics and VFX Programming teams also made great progress on the Gen12 renderer and Vulkan backends, with the vast majority of post effects now running Gen12 by default.

Graphics have added the window shader as a way of having fake interiors of buildings being rendered at a low resource cost rather than empty or blank spaces.

There is also the PingCIG shader, a new version of the ping effect that will be used for the upcoming improvements to the radar and scanning feature; it creates waves that trigger various visual effects when they intersect solid geometry, such as an edge highlight.

Boom that’s it for the monthly report this time… we will have a breakdown of the AI updates and the Squadron 42 report in a video up on the channel soon!