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Star Citizen April Dev Update – Alpha 3.18 Progress – New Ships, Points of Interest & Pyro

Welcome to some more Star Citizen with a Persistent Universe Monthly Report looking at what CI have been working on over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now for April and Q2 2022.

Art (Ships)

In the UK, Ship Art progressed with a number of vehicles, including the Hull A which also so a VFX pass, which will be released with Alpha 3.17.

The Scorpius’ cockpit was finalised, including lighting and LODs, while the Banu Merchantman progressed through the exterior R&D phase as it continues it’s GreyBox phase.

The first of three unannounced vehicles is now close to being final-art complete. The second is progressing through the greybox stage, while the third had its initial kick-off and is now in the early stages of whiteboxing.

The Drake Vulture down the pipeline, which involved creating further art to support mobile repair as part of repair and salvage gameplay. They also added additional functionality to the pilot’s overhead dashboard to support salvage modes.

Significant progress was made on various parts of the Drake Corsair too: The co-pilot dashboard was designed and built with an overhang for better visibility, while the co-pilot’s seat is nearly complete and now features a mechanism that moves it down into its final position. The ship’s foyer was finalized, work on the turret interiors began, and development kicked off on the crew quarters and engineering room. The team also progressed with the exterior greybox, with work moving from the now-completed nose back towards the tail.

Features (Vehicles) 

Last month, the Vehicle Features team worked on refueling, including integrating the docking systems and rebalancing vehicle fuel efficiency and scooping. They also rebalanced and retuned distortion so that it’s more about negatively affecting a ship rather than outright disabling it. 

Vehicle Features Team Said “We’re still actively working on this feature, which is planned for release in Alpha 3.17. However, we’re hoping you can give feedback on this and help us improve the balance!” 

They also progressed with a lot of upcoming ship releases, particularly the MISC Hull A and RSI Scorpius, which both use new animation and ship-state tech. On the Hull A, this new tech is used on the extending cargo arms and how they integrate with the cargo system. For the Scorpius, it allows the turret to move along its rail. 

AI flight behavior was further developed alongside the AI team, which will benefit both the PU and Squadron 42. When complete, AI behavior will be more dynamic and closer to how Human players would behave in combat.

Finally, the team began a deep investigation into net sync issues currently being experienced in the PU. They made some great improvements that are currently being tested in the Alpha 3.17 builds at the moment.

For engineering gameplay, an example scene was created featuring a village with a battery, power supply unit, and lamp post. The goal was to give an easy introduction to other teams to help them begin utilizing a systemic approach to resources.

Life support progressed well, with the life-support generator now able to remove the atmosphere from a room and convert CO2 into O2.

Progress was also made on salvage effects, with the team adding more refinement to the visuals, including hull scraping and repair effects. VFX also worked on the refueling effects, which were completed to a functional standard for the feature’s initial release (they will be improved upon at a later date).

Mission Features continued to provide game-code support and bug fixes for the new selling UI screens. They also fixed various issues with law and hostility alongside general bugs for the upcoming Alpha 3.17 release.

There are new missions being worked on with new NPCs and they are continuing to build out the shopping experience for players as the economy evolves.

The Vehicle Technical team completed their transition to the Arena Commander Feature team. As part of the move, they reviewed the backlog of Arena Commander bugs to determine their immediate priorities.

Radar and scanning is also nearing completion. Door and control panel implementation tool improvements are also underway, paving the ways for easier and more reliable interactions in vehicles and space stations.

The UI Team continued with two long-term projects that will benefit both the PU and SQ42: the visor refactor and the new radar and maps. The visor refactor involves updating the visor and lens so that they work in Building Blocks, which will make it perform better and be easier to work with. 

Locations (EU)

The Locations teams worked across a variety of different areas, all of which are in various stages of completion, from early pre-production to nearing completion.

Work continued towards ‘final’ on the colonialism outposts, with more variants and modules being completed. In conjunction with the new ‘Rastar’ tool gaining a wider feature set, the team began dedicated playtesting in the lead up to a wider distribution across the systems they’ll first be seen in.

The Locations Team Said – “Very early pre-production began on some interesting space-based locations, which won’t be seen for a while but are already getting Design and Art’s creative juices flowing.”

The next iteration of the underground facility progressed through whitebox, with layouts being tested to ensure good gameplay and flow. An update to caves is also in whitebox, with a focus on improving the readability and traverse-ability alongside a visual facelift.

Whitebox work also continued for the rundown space station variants, which are planned for Pyro’s initial release. The wider team supported hardening and bug fixing for Alpha 3.17 too. 

In Montreal, the Sandbox team iterated on the Reclaimer-based derelict settlement. On the art side, they tweaked the silhouette of the crash site and continued progressing toward the final phase. They also continued onboarding the missions system and now have three fully functional missions in this settlement. They’ll be able to iterate further when planetary navmesh becomes available to wider development. 

The derelict 600i and Crusader Mercury derelicts mentioned in last month’s report are progressing smoothly. Last month, the team completed the initial versions of the crashed ships and currently looking into the pipeline to make them salvageable.

Part of the team began creating space-based missions inside a Reclaimer, with the basic flow and mission logic implemented and working properly. This is part of the team’s onboarding to the mission system, with the objective to start by reusing existing modules. Once they’re more comfortable with the systems, they’ll create variations of the existing missions.

Sandbox Team Said “We noticed that the Grim HEX hospital could get quite busy, especially during the Jump Town event. To fix this issue, we significantly expanded its size. There used to be only 3 medical rooms available; with this update, we’ll have over 60. This way, all players will be able to respawn and get back into the action as quickly as possible.” 

Finally, the team officially started the Lorville cityscape update. The concepting phase is done and the layout was blocked out. When complete, the scale of Lorville will be dramatically increased and allow more space for building interiors.

Tools (Montreal)

The Tools team completed the integration of Mighty Bridge into the editor and the inclusion of Houdini to Mighty Bridge. This makes Houdini-based tools accessible to everyone inside the company both on the PU and Squadron 42.

On the technical art side, two major areas of development progressed. The first is the Procedural Location tool, which will speed up the production of certain locations. The team are currently designing the tool’s template system to allow the designers and artists to procedurally generate various locations, such as derelict outposts and settlements, caves, and underground facilities.

The second area is biome integration, which involves a collection of tools to help the Art teams better integrate locations into a planet’s specific biome. The first case study uses the derelict Reclaimer settlement. Tools are taking the Art team’s handcrafted proof-of-concept and automating some of the processes to make creating more easier. For example, one tool automatically places vines and dirt around the crashed spaceship, which is usually a time-consuming task.


Props spent March finalizing the requested assets for an upcoming event. They also worked on several unannounced items for the community that are coming along well.

Significant work was also done for Pyro, specifically on the vendor shop signs, trash, and some special extras.

Features (Characters & Weapons) 

Character Art focused on the frontier outfits for Pyro alongside various Nine Tails assets for an event later in the year. Subscriber items and a salvage-themed backpack progressed too.

The team also welcomed new character artists in Montreal, with onboarding and training completed throughout March.

Corpse-spawning logic was improved to ensure quitting out early doesn’t break the flow and to make the flow less likely to timeout or fail to spawn the corpse entity itself.

The Features team also revisited grenade throwing, as it was reported to be highly unreliable. Grenades should now be significantly less likely to explode in the hands or at the feet of the player throwing them. They should now no longer ‘rubber band’ back into the hand after being thrown and always visibly explode on the local client too.

The Technical Animation team have been iterating on their rework of the internal DNA system. This update will allow them to expand the gene pool used to create believable heads in-game and ultimately offer more variety to players.

“It has been a lengthy initiative but it is finally coming to a close with a heavy round of testing and bug fixing to make it ready for integration into the game.” Technical Animation Team

Alongside this, they revisited several head assets requiring updates and, in some cases, a complete overhaul. The ongoing head-scanning initiative is currently supplying the team with new archetypes that are being extracted and turned into full, game-ready facial rigs.

Tech Animation also maintained the existing animation pipeline alongside spearheading initiatives to supersede older technology to expedite in-house workflows.

Turbulent (Web Platform)

The Web team in Montreal began adding new web features for upcoming events, ensuring all components are reusable and of the highest possible quality.

The Turbulent Architecture and E-Commerce team added several tools, including a new flow to make redeeming promotion codes easier.  

The Turbulent and internal Community teams progressed with the rework of the Community Hub. The Home and Discover pages are ready for launch, while progress was made on the post-creation and follow tools.

The Gen12 Renderer and Vulkan Integration are ever closer as various updates to those continue.

Boom that’s it for your Star Citizen Monthly report today, we will be looking at the Squadron 42 report in a separate video along with engine & AI updates