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Star Citizen Monthly Report – Preparing For Alpha 3.16

Welcome to the Star Citizen Persistent Universe Monthly Report… We checkout what CI have been working on for the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in terms of Tech, Features and Progress.

Ships & Vehicles

The Ship team cleaned up bugs and continued to polish various areas of the Crusader Ares, including several new paints.

The Drake Vulture reached the final art phase, with last month’s focus on habitation and the cargo hold.

One of the regularly mentioned unannounced vehicles continued to progress through the pipeline, this time getting a finalized UI layout and lighting pass. Part of the team then began the damage pass, while others transitioned to release prep. You can see what that might be in my IAE 2951 Spoilers Video.

Another new ship received its final tints and had bugs fixed throughout.

In the UK, three ships moved through the final stages of the pipeline, while the Banu Merchantman progressed through whitebox. The upcoming MISC Hulls continued development, with the hull A preparing for whitebox review and the hull C approaching greybox review.

The VFX Team completed full passes on several new ships, including the Crusader Ares variants and their weapons. Work continued on the S10 bombs that are now looking significantly better than the ‘functional pass’ shown on Inside Star Citizen.

Vehicle Tech worked on various features for the upcoming patch, including new vehicle release support, landing gear, radar and scanning, repair, and door control panel interactions.

“The control panels are of particular note, as we are aiming to soon expand such interactions to allow the player to control their environment in new and exciting ways, whether they be within a vehicle or station.” – Vehicle Tech

The team then moved on to incorporating feedback on the radar and scanning improvements submitted last quarter. Squadron-42-related needs were also uncovered that, when implemented, will benefit the PU too.

The Vehicle team focused on a significant rework of grav-lev handling. A breakthrough in implementation meant that they could make significant improvements to the handling, making it more dynamic and flexible. They also fixed some bugs and issues with the existing implementation.

The development of jump points continued, with the team currently cleaning up loose ends regarding gameplay logic. For example, when multiple people use a jump point at once. Some of the low-level tech behind jump points has dependencies on server meshing, so the team continued to work with the relevant teams too.

Improvements were looked into for the transit system. The system is quite complex and was built before server meshing and streaming, so there are upgrades to make to ensure it copes with the new tech landscape of the game. The team also looked to improve some of the tools used by the designers to more easily create dynamic and complex transit networks.

The Weapon Feature team began the month working on the Firestorm Kinetics Size 3 bombs for the Crusader Hercules and artwork for the upcoming ship tractor beam asset. They concluded the month on the mining gadget, proximity mine, and the laser trip mine.

Moving onto Gameplay & Features

The Features team improved the new player inventory and actor status features based on feedback from the PTU, with the most notable addition being the ability to filter items in the inventory. This feature has already gone through several UI iterations since being introduced early in the month.

There’s been work on the new item kiosk that will add the ability to sell items back to shops (it was converted to Building Blocks in the process).

They finalized technical design documents, began work on the major cargo refactor, and worked on the upcoming IAE event too.

A fix was added to stop players from losing items stowed in their ships if they hit a 30k. Now, when players hit a 30k, they will be able to respawn that ship with all stowed inventory items at any ASOP terminal in the game.

“Gone are the days of loading your ship up with a ton of items to move to another city only to lose them due to the server crashing. We’ve already seen an extremely positive reaction from the public on both Spectrum as well as Reddit about how well this is working, so hopefully you all appreciate this as much as we do!” – Features Team

The UI team progressed with UI for the upcoming refueling feature and mining gadgets. They spent time converting the ASOP terminals to use Building Blocks for a future release and worked with the Vehicle team to add updated door controls to the latest ships.

Systemic Services & Tools wrapped up their ongoing work on the economy, tools, and AI simulation. They’re now focusing on optimization for the remainder of the year. The new gameplay feature mentioned last month continued development too.

Work progressed on intelligent NPC spawning and tracking, with the latter half of the spawning system progressing well. The tracking system continues towards its first major internal milestone.

Locations & Environments

The Montreal-based Locations team put the final touches to Area18’s hospital, which is due for release in Alpha 3.16. This involved completing polish tasks, building LODs for the entire location, and fixing any remaining bugs.

Alongside this, other hospitals progressed well, including the Maria Pure of Heart hospital in Lorville and the rest stop clinics, with the latter approaching the final stages of development. The rest stop clinics required a few additional modules to allow the team to create unique layouts across each of the 12 locations. They also iterated on the whitebox for Levski’s hospital.

Another key feature currently under development is Derelict Ships V1. Last month, the Design team scattered parts of the Drake Caterpillar around planetside locations and added puzzles inside them. Currently, there are two types of modules: Vanilla and Puzzle. Vanilla modules are simple spaceship parts where players might find basic resources or items. Puzzle modules contain a puzzle with a lootable container as a reward. The team has now completed these modules and are assembling them at various crash sites around Stanton.

The Lighting Team have been finalizing lighting for IAE, which involved taking the existing lighting and repurposing it for the new mood of the convention hall. Some areas only required small tweaks, while others received much more dramatic changes that the team hopes will provide a new and interesting experience for the community.

The start of a new quarter also saw the team tackle the backlog of legacy tasks and polish covering locations across the whole PU.

A look-dev pass began on Pyro’s abandoned space stations

“These locations provide us with tons of opportunity for mood and drama, like dark, cold corridors contrasted with hot markets filled with condensation.” – Lighting Team

They began developing a suite of new frontier-style outfits for the population of Pyro.

Audio worked closely with composer Pedro Camacho on the score for Pyro to establish the tone and sonic palette.

Narrative also continued to work on content for Pyro, including working alongside Design on missions and developing the factions and locations that will be found throughout the system.

Planetary ground storm effects were rebalanced, which was necessary due to the recently introduced VFX lighting model. The team also held several VFX-focused playtests where they found and fixed lots of minor visual bugs.

Graphics & Engine wise, I’ll really compact this down… because mostly it equates to general updates and improvements to the code, engine and renderer:

They’ve been making Improvements to water volumes .

Work also started on changes to the material system to allow shaders to become more modular. This is a stepping stone towards building a new suite of shaders that provide more power and flexibility for the artists.

Other completed tasks include new light animation features, technical design work for using damage maps for salvage, gamma correction fixes, and general support for the fire feature.

Gen12 work picked up after CitizenCon, with more systems being converted. They are also looking to complete a large refactor of the texture samplers to make them compatible with Gen12/Vulkan. There are generally improved loading times and massive instancing is now supported

For atmosphere and cloud rendering, all recent improvements were merged into the Alpha 3.15 stream and they have continued to iterate on them further.

Boom, that’s it for Star Citizen’s Monthly report this time. We will be checking out the AI, NPC and Squadron 42 Updates in another video in the next few days.