CIG have given us a rather juicy Monthly Report for Star Citizen’s Development, it looks at what they have been working on over the last few weeks, what they are focused on now for Alpha 3.18 and beyond. This is a Summary and Highlights of that very important report:
Ship Development – The UK Ship Art team continued the greybox pass on the Argo SRV the tow or tractor beam ship, finishing the exterior work before moving on to the interior. This is a good indicator that Ship Sized Tractor Beams are well on their way.
Development of an unannounced ship continued, moving from greybox to final art. They completed a greybox on the cockpit, dashboard, habitation, and cargo hold. The team also progressed the exterior hull to final art. I wonder what it could be? Certainly not a tiny ship.
The final art pass on an unannounced ground vehicle was complete.
The artists then moved on to a pass of the MISC Hull C.
The whitebox pass began on an unannounced variant of an existing ship, with modifications to the exterior nearing completion.
A resource-management pass on the Aegis Hammerhead also began. This includes adding relays and modifications to the existing component bays to make them all functional, with some tweaks to their placement for balance. This is good to see CI preparing for physicalized components, power relays, engineering and damage control.
US Art transitioned to their final pass on the Drake Corsair while supporting System Design on the greybox, taking the main, retro, and MAV thrusters to the final stage. The port wings were also detailed and are almost ready to hand off. On the exterior, the nose was further detailed and modifications were made to the decal texture to standardize the official Drake font. The team also took the interior cargo hold through to final art, with an initial lighting pass being completed throughout the interior.
The Features team continued to develop life-support and engineering gameplay. This included work on the MISC Hull A, as it’s the first ship with interactable relay points that control resource distribution. The power plant and fuel tanks now power the system using the new tech, and UI work was extended to allow players to control the temperature per room.
Hull scraping is progressing well, with the team focusing on creating the commodity boxes and repair ammunition at the dedicated filler station in the Reclaimer and Vulture.
The UI team continued development of the new Starmap, improving labeling and concepting how to display space clouds in a way that looks great and performs well.
Bugs were also fixed for the Siege of Orison update, and adjustments were made to the loadout systems in support of persistent streaming.
VFX Concept kickstarted pre-production on the quantum travel experience and a general quantum-travel visual overhaul.
Features (Characters & Weapons) – With the new actor movement synchronisation enabled for the PTU, the team focuses on fixing issues, specifically with extrapolation (when a local machine tries to predict what another player will be doing). Extrapolation is necessary when network latency prevents data from arriving regularly. Incorrect prediction results in the player appearing to teleport, or rubber band, when up-to-date data arrives from the server. The team will continue to refine the algorithm over the coming releases and are specifically looking at improving the handling of look-input synchronisation for the next patch.
In July, the team also started laying the groundwork for FPS devices. There are already some examples of these in the game, such as grenades and mining gadgets. But, as the list of devices expands, the team wants to take a more systemic approach to ensure the setup and flow are consistent across the board.
Earlier in the year, the team reported work on ‘Code Driven IK.’ This system has now been combined with the dynamic hand placement feature mentioned last month. Together, this ensures that animators have control over when to use hand placement or not, as well as tweaking some of its settings directly in individual assets. This has allowed the Maya-side interface of this new IK-system to mature further, with several quality-of-life improvements.
Features (Arena Commander)
The Arena Commander Feature team fixed issues in both Arena Commander (AC) and Star Marine (SM), including some with map- and game-mode selection, scoreboards, level geometry, respawning, and AI spawning.
“Our community has been very helpful in identifying such issues as they appear, which we greatly appreciate!” – Arena Commander Feature Team
Additionally, ongoing improvements were made to how quickly and easily players get into sessions. Investigation into getting PU-based locations as environments in AC and SM also continued.
Some changes to scanning/ping/radar design were implemented for both vehicles and FPS gameplay to allow players to find and identify contacts with greater ease.
Finally, bugs were fixed to give the community as stable an experience as possible.
Graphics, VFX Programming & Planet Tech
Various Tweaks were made to the engine in preparation for PES.
They finished porting Gas Clouds to Gen12 and fixed several issues, including a GPU crash related to this feature. Work began on Vulkan scaleform functionality and particle mesh rendering in Gen12. Progress was also made on porting refraction and light beams to Gen12. Various improvements were made to shadows, lighting and textures.
Hair color and specular improvements were finished for the hair shader.
For jump points, the team focused on branching tunnels, which included fixing situations where the connecting segments self-intersect.
The Planet Tech team made improvements to the world and biome builder & river placement tool. Collision detection was added to RaStar (POI, Outpost & Base Building Tool) to prevent modules from being placed when they overlap with geometry too.
The Physics team made several optimizations to the code.
On the core engine, entity lifetime code was adjusted for the new needs of server meshing with the goal of it being easier to use as well as creating a more refined feeling of persistence. A time-sliced entity density manager was implemented as a part of the reworked entity lifetime for server meshing. The background job manager was changed to better cope with very long-running preempted background jobs to reduce runtime stalls. For example, stalls during shader compilation.
They spent time supporting Alpha 3.18 and bug fixing 3.17.x; especially analyzing the impact of 100-player PLUS servers.
Lighting’s made minor polish for Orison and fixed minor bugs across other locations.
They then moved on to supporting the new sand cave location archetype. Compared to rocky caves, sand caves feature more natural dappled light filtering in from the surface above to create a very different mood and atmosphere.
They also completed a lighting pass on the upcoming Origin 600i and Crusader Mercury derelict crash sites, integrating the nearby settlements into the landscape and stripping out the lighting from the ships.
They worked on a full lighting pass of the upcoming racing circuit being added to the Orison convention hall. That’s an interesting one are we getting race at the IAE this year in November?
Narrative helped development of new mission types, one of which presents a unique fusion of narrative and design. So, the team began figuring out how much content would be necessary to incorporate it into the game and whether it will be scalable to provide enough variety to keep it interesting.
The team met with the Environment and Design teams to talk over Pyro’s shops and overall economy to help differentiate the player experience from Stanton. To help support this, the team continued to work through the mo-cap data for the frontier vendors captured at the end of June to get it into the pipeline.
Boom that’s your Persistent Universe Monthly Report Update for this month. We will be covering AI, NPCs & Squadron 42 Updates in a Video over the weekend so don’t miss that, and there are loads of constant Star Citizen Updates on my channel so check them out top, please checkout my Alpha 3.18 New Features Video to find out more on that release, linked below. But what do you think? Are you excited for the working going into a larger than expect Alpha 3.18 patch? When do you think we will see the much needed new starmap in our hands? Do you thnk the Hull-c will be ready for Alpha 3.18? What was your highlight of this Report? Whatever your thoughts I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.