Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report summarized and made more bite sized… looking at what CI have been working on over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in September 2021 with Server Meshing, New Unannounced Ships, Pyro, Features for Alpha 3.15 and beyond… Let’s start with some ships!
In the UK, a yet-to-be-announced ship originally mentioned earlier in the year was completed, with the team’s final task of creating additional paints currently underway.
The Redeemer is approaching final-art complete, with the team finalizing the interactive buttons in the cockpit, remote turret bays, component room, and making the final polish of the lower deck.
Work also commenced on the MISC Hull A, which is close to being whitebox complete. Its larger sibling, the Hull C, is currently being brought up to ‘gold standard.’ August’s focus was on the exterior, with the team switching out materials to the newer shader and making sure it’s ready for the current paint system.
Two unannounced vehicles continued to progress through the pipeline. One recently completed its greybox review and is approaching final art, while the other is awaiting its greybox review though is close to having a finalized exterior.
Refueling work was also done on the MISC Starfarer. The refueling arm mentioned last month is now complete, with focus turning to the tractor beam assembly at the rear that forms part of the refining feature.
The Crusader A2 Hercules passed its final art review too.
In the US, the Crusader Ares moved through the final art phase, with the cockpit, enter/exit system, component housings, landing gear, and thrusters receiving polish.
The cockpit, habitation area, ladder passage, and cargo hold are all nearing greybox complete for the Drake Vulture.
An all-new vehicle is almost greybox-complete, while art for the variant mentioned last month was also finished.
The Vehicle Feature team ramped up the development of jump points, creating the gameplay and development tools required to deliver the feature and make it easier to work with for other teams.
They also supported the PU Feature team with refueling, continued to work on HUD improvements.
Vehicle Experience focused on finishing the development of the bombing feature, which entered the review stages, there appears to be some new UIs for bombing too. They also worked to balance upcoming ships for Alpha 3.15 and beyond.
The Vehicle Tech team put the finishing touches on the radar, scanning, and ping refactor for vehicles. They also prepared to incorporate the improvements to first-person gameplay. Some improvements were identified in the existing systems and functionality, which have been included in upcoming plans accordingly.
The VFX team has revisited the new vehicle SDF-based shields. A simplified setup was provided, with better scalability options allowing fewer effects to be used across the wide range of ship scales.
They also began working on ship-wake effects with the Vehicle Feature team, which will allow surface dust, snow, etc. to be displaced when ships are rapidly flying along the surface. This is a continuation of the work recently completed for thruster wind volumes.
VFX passes were also done for the Crusader A2 Hercules, one of the unannounced ships mentioned earlier in the report, and for the Crusader Ares’ S7 weapons.
The US Gameplay Feature team progressed with NikNax the asset manger mobiglas app. The app is now ‘feature complete’ and in the polishing phase of production, while the look and feel are currently being finalized.
They also continued to develop dynamic events.
They began working on Jumptown 2.0, the next dynamic event, where outposts become hyper-lucrative, tempting players to fight to control the area and gather as much profit as possible. More information on that coming very soon.
They also continued to work on TDDs (Trade & Development Division, Terminals and Areas) for the cargo refactor, the character archetype editor, and the new shopping and selling initiative, all of which should be at the review stage soon.
The Character & Weapons Features team focused on bug fixing and polishing for the new player inventory and actor status features.
The Team said “Some of the more amusing bugs included looting a dead player and finding their ship, and all its vehicle weapons, in their inventory, and lowering a gurney to put an injured player on it but at the end of the animation it starts bouncing around killing everyone.”
They are working on some animation tech that will help memory usage and with dense populations.
The Narrative team focused on Alpha 3.15, working with Design on contract text for new missions and expanding the organizations and gameplay scopes represented in the Reputation app. Medical gameplay and the new hospital and clinic locations were also worked on, with the team making passes on all related UI and branding. New dialogue was recorded to help populate the clinics and new Orison locations.
Beyond Alpha 3.15, the team worked on content for IAE 2951 and upcoming dynamic events. Additionally, they recorded mission audio for the various security forces in Stanton that will add further depth to future content.
Preliminary work began on a new mission type, with the team working closely with Design to begin prototyping dialogue to support the gameplay. The development of narrative content continued for Pyro, further defining what players can expect to encounter in the new system.
Character Art & Animation
Character Art completed a large batch of new assets for Alpha 3.15, including a heat-resistant heavy armor that will replace the Caldera Pembroke suit.
The team also finalized several new backpacks, including three based on the Clark Defense Systems brand and one on Doomsday. They also reworked existing backpacks previously attached to armor cores to make them individual, modular items. From Alpha 3.15 onwards, each new armor will come with a backpack in the same style.
Animation spent some time focusing on vendors for illegal goods, food, drink, and other items, which involved creating animation pre-vis videos showing how the assets should be used in Pyro. This work will be used to improve the existing bartenders & NPCs too.
They progressed with the overall medical behavior, including patrons, hospital healing functionality, and related useables. They’re also working on drunk locomotion for status changes (in both weapon and no weapon stances), with the first drop containing functional assets.
The cowering and surrender behaviors progressed, while additional seated idling animations were added to make characters feel more alive.
A (mo-cap) shoot was arranged to cover blockouts for the hygiene cubicle, hacking, navigation, arcade machines, unwell seating, additional vendor animations, and locomotion R&D.
Progress was made on vendor lines and chowline NPC animations.
The Physics team progressed with physical quantum travel. In their development stream, they now have a proper quantum grid (per solar system) and a quantum-obstacle component that registers an analytical representation of an obstacle. Some to-be-sorted issues aside, they can now make the equivalent of a blind quantum jump and drop out before hitting a moon along the travel path.
They also continued to improve performance with states of entities and physics code being a focus. They are also getting ready for Server Meshing.
The transition to the Gen12 renderer progressed throughout August. Shader activation was made thread-safe, volumetric fog volumes now run natively in Gen12, and various other tweaks have been made while also refactoring legacy code.
There has been lots of optimization work with them now optimizing the entity unloading stalls plaguing the PU.
Regarding atmosphere and volumetric clouds, time was spent reworking the reprojection and filter chain to ultimately allow raymarching at lower resolutions for improved GPU performance.
They are improving cloud tech, it’s a work in progress but should be rolled out shortly.
Graphics & VFX Programming
The VFX Programming team also continued with the fire hazard system. It now utilizes the new compressed physics render-mesh, which obtains accurate surface data without relying on lower-resolution and lower-accuracy physics proxy meshes. The way fire spreads through doorways was improved too.
The Lighting team primarily focused on upcoming content for Alpha 3.15 and future deliverables for Pyro.
Passes were completed on locations within Orison, including the Crusader Showroom, Cousin Crow’s Custom Craft, and Providence Surplus… (I assume these are all part of the 3.15 Orison Update) Lighting work was completed for the space clinics and hospital in Grim HEX, and progress continued on the medical areas in Area18 and Lorville.
Lighting also assisted Planet Content, making a pass on the atmospheric and color-grading settings for Pyro’s planets and moons, helping to make each feel unique and interesting.
Ambiances and spot effects were completed for the Grim HEX hospital and incidental voiceovers were recorded to inform players how painful treatments can be.
Mechanism and explosion effects were also added to the ‘Mother Of All Bombs’.
Tech Sound Design helped with the hacking system.
Systemic Services & Tools
Systemic Services & Tools continued their work on Quantum (the economy and AI simulation), making improvements to the tools that allow the designers to adjust these various systems.
August saw work wrap up on the player and AI info service to allow the Quantum simulation (or any other backend service) to pull more data at a faster rate as needed.
Work began in earnest on the NPC tracker, which will allow the tracking of NPCs between servers. The system will be used by any gameplay loop that wants or needs to track NPCs as they shift from instantiated to virtual AI and move around the ‘verse.
A new generic escrow service wrapped up, allowing for a more streamlined money transaction loop.
The Turbulent Game Services team achieved key milestones in the server meshing project, delivering the first version of the new matchmaking system. The service communicating with the new database now has all the required main features too, and several optimizations were made.
Boom that’s it for the Monthly Report this time.