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Is Star Citizen Alpha 3.18 Getting More Features Than We Thought?

Welcome to a Star Citizen Monthly Report, it’s May 2022 and we are going to be looking at what CI have been working on for the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in regard to Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe in the wake of 3.17s release and the run up to Fleet Week as well as the plod towards Q2’s release Alpha 3.18.

Features (Gameplay) 

The PU team began the month supporting the release of refuelling and mining gadgets, including a fix for in-atmosphere refuelling. For the mining gadgets, they added a red light to clearly show if the gadget detaches.

Significant progress was then made on ship salvage, with an improved HUD being created for the Drake Vulture’s salvage mode. They also added additional aiming functionality tailored to the unique setup of the ship’s arms. The Reclaimer’s salvage turrets were also properly setup and can now scrape hulls.

VFX continued their work on the salvage effects, shifting focus to the vehicle hull-stripping variant.

“This proved more challenging than the FPS variant, as depth perception is trickier to gauge from the ship cockpit and the player’s position relative to the salvage nozzle. Because of this, we’re currently experimenting with visual aids to give players a more user-friendly experience.” VFX Team

They also continued experimenting with better ways to fracture geometry to help create more realistic-looking damage.

Art (Ships)

The UK-based Ship team finalised paints for the RSI Scorpius, completing their work on the ship.

The Banu Merchantman’s exterior progressed through greybox, with the team acting on what was learned during the R&D phase.

Four unannounced vehicles were also further developed throughout the month: One is in the final-art phase, with work focusing on the complex, technical areas. Two are currently in the whitebox stage, while one was completed from an art perspective.  

In the US, the team focused on the Drake Corsair, creating space in the fuselage for the docking ring, turrets, landing gear, and elevator. They then moved onto exterior detailing towards the tail. For the interior, they created the crew quarter set that will populate all four rooms. The foyer was finished, while the co-pilot’s cockpit, engineering room, turret interior, and airlock are nearing completion.

Features (Vehicles) 

The Vehicle Features did some tech set up for the Hull A, making sure its cargo feature works as designed. They then implemented the turret on the Scorpius.

They also planned balance support for the refuelling feature beyond its initial release.

Work was also done on quality-of-life improvements and tuning across the game, including for racing ships in-atmosphere, loadout changes, and the health of industrial ships.

Features (Characters & Weapons) 

The Characters & Weapons Features team progressed through known inventory issues. This involved adjusting the underlying inventory logic and flow to work with the new persistence tech, which was a significant undertaking involving close collaboration with the backend teams.

Once complete, they moved back onto the fire extinguisher:

They Said – “It is an interesting challenge, as it has quite a different profile compared to other ‘weaponry.’ It has a bulky cylinder that holds the liquid or gas, which it can spray continuously. This gadget is going to be important in combating interior fires on spaceships to stop them draining the life-critical oxygen supply. We are working closely with the VFX team to connect the logic with the fire hazard system as well as bring the weapon to life visually.” 

Weapons Art worked on a technique for less clipping and some polish passes.

They also continued their work on Banu ship weapons, filling out the manufacturer with several new product lines.

Animation completed their first pass on many of the new FPS gadgets and iterated on the setup with the Art team.


Animation released their vendor work to the PU (with the coffee shop vendor) and are currently creating documents to ensure they can extend it efficiently when needed. They also began filling out leisure areas with AI, including characters using arcade machines, additional idles, and actions at tables (such as using the mobiGlas). Facial animations were done for outlaws, vendors, bartenders, and a new mission-giver too.

For weapons and gadgets, blockout animations were created for handheld gadgets and explosives, and work began on a new SMG.

Pre-vis work was also done for how a ‘weighed down’ player should feel and patrons drinking at bars and tables.

Art (Characters)

Character Art continued to work on frontier clothing for Pyro. They also polished a large batch of armor and clothing material variants for the Nine Tails gang.

A salvage-themed backpack is currently being worked on by Tech Art, while concept art is in progress for a collection of fashionable outfits for Stanton.

Locations (Montreal)

The Montreal Locations team are approaching the last development phases of both the Reclaimer derelict settlement and Reclaimer space-based POIs. For the derelict settlement, the Art team is currently polishing the carcass of the reclaimer and the habs, while the Design team is implementing the location’s missions.

The space-based POIs progressed through the greybox phase. Last month’s work included the design team implementing and tweaking missions. The Art team also began an art pass to narratively support the in-mission themes.

Finally, further progress was made on the ongoing Lorville cityscape revamp, which involved defining recipes for buildings and blocking out the city.

The Team Said – “Work is progressing well and we’re confident that the new scale of the city will support a lot of interesting future opportunities!” 

The Lighting & EU Locations teams have been focusing on Invictus Launch Week and finalising the environments there. A full lighting pass was completed on various locations and points-of-interest (POI), before the team moved on to polishing.

Elsewhere, work is almost complete on several small locations the Sandbox team is planning to release in an upcoming patch. The areas themselves are finished and are currently awaiting a distribution pass across Stanton.

Pre-production continues on new space-based POIs, with the team exploring one final theme before moving into the whitebox stage. New cave prototypes are progressing well, with improvements to materials and the general read across the board.

Elsewhere, the second round of content for the initial release of the new colonialism outposts is nearing final. The outposts will soon start to be distributed across the Pyro system in readiness for their debut.

Narrative continued support for ongoing work on future Dynamic Event missions and discussed how best to incorporate a new upcoming gameplay module into one particular mission’s flow. 


Work progressed on the new Starmap and radar UI. The devs implemented basic controls, enabling them to look around a solar system and view the planets, orbits, and vehicles within it. They also began adding an info panel that players can use to see details about selected objects. 

“Although rough around the edges, the groundwork is there for us to add functionality and start improving the visuals.” UI Team

The visor and lens conversion, which involves converting the existing player HUD elements to Building Blocks, is well underway. Many widgets, including weapon information and mission objectives, were ported to the new system. They also continued to update features in support of Persistent Streaming. 

The UI Tech team continued developing additional Building Blocks features, one of which will replace the canvas slicing technology used to develop 3D UIs. The new ‘cards’ system received major usability and performance improvements and is currently being tested in the vehicle HUD for the hull-scraping feature.

The team also worked on a new AR marker system and improved various widgets to help the UI designers work more efficiently.


In regard to engine updates there were various physics updates, removing unnecessary computations

The Gen12 renderer transition continued, with planet terrain patch rendering being enabled. 

In addition to some improvements, Shadow Generation was enabled

Gen12 versions of the planet terrain height map and shadow rendering systems were finalised and merged with the upstream. 

This Gen12 process for Atmosphere and cloud rendering will commence shortly.

Lots of work has been going into render-to-texture (RTT) support. 

Significant progress was also made on the new Entity Graph service.

Time was also spent investigating the AI desync issue. Although many improvements have been made, the depth of the issue across many areas of the game has made it difficult to narrow down the causes, with fixes exposing further problems. They are continuing to work on these issues now.

Boom, that’s it for your Star Citizen PU Monthly Report this time