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MASSIVE Features Are On The Horizon For Star Citizen…

The Latest Star Citizen Monthly Report is out for the Persistent Universe and it’s full of some of the juiciest Development information on the game and what CI have been working on over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in September 2022. From Ship Updates, to New Missions and Locations, to Pyro and work towards Alpha 4.0… let’s jump in to the highlights and what you need to know.

Ships & Vehicle Updates – Work continued work on the Argo SRV, which is progressing through greybox with only habitation left to complete in that phase.

Work on the MISC Hull-C continued, with progress being made on the outstanding issues on the ship.

The Drake Corsair continued moving through final art. They have now completed the left and right nacelles, upper and lower port wings, spine, cockpit, co-pilot cockpit exteriors, spine-mounted turret, chin/cheek mounted turret, landing gear, and landing-gear housing. They’re currently polishing the exterior, with the cargo hold and loading ramp now complete.

They also supported the Drake Vulture as it approaches release.

The final art pass of an unannounced ship continued, the bulk of the Level of detail work nearing completion.

An unannounced ground vehicle passed its final review gate, with some small alterations to the dashboard being made to improve the visibility of the speedometer alongside small polish tasks.

The resource-management pass on the Aegis Hammerhead continued, with a new gravity generator room. They also began implementing it’s new component bays.

They then started looking into the setup of the Crusader Ares and other similar-sized ships. A solution was also found for smaller items that connect to a ship’s power, like coffee machines and small lamps. This will also be utilized in the upcoming colonial outposts.

Work on life support was finalised and is now awaiting downstream support. In the meantime, work began on the gravity generator.

Salvage is now in the QA-test-request phase, which involves fixing bugs and other issues.

With the damage map tech for salvage is approaching the end of feature development and is running into the bug-fixing phase. With all the required tech coming together, the team began testing the persistence of damage maps for the first time, highlighting additional improvements to be made. Damage map persistence will soon be ready for enabling, allowing wider testing.

The Vehicle Features Team have been working on new multi-function displays (MFDs) and integrated ship UI system. They said – “Progress is moving forward finally on this feature that’s been on the cards for a long time.” They are also working to integrate the Resource / Relay System and improving how various items interact with these resources.

Significant research also went into improving combat AI for fighters, with the team researching things they can do and making plans for how to implement them.

The UI team continued to push forwards with features on the new Star Map, implementing three-dimensional text and shader effects for space clouds.

UI enhancements were also made to radar and scanning to help players look for targets and perform scans. 

With VFX, Concept Art continued to iterate on quantum travel effects.

The team added effects to several new modular locations, including some crashed and derelict spaceships. They also began working on two new vehicles.

And work continued on salvage effects, specifically the hull-stripping laser used by some vehicles.

The Mission Feature team worked on a variety of new missions and features. They also took part in the launch of Siege of Orison and planned improvements based on feedback.

They Said “As the roadmap states, we are working on packing more content into Kareah and the prison, and are creating mission modules that can be placed on Orison’s platforms that can occupy anything from single buildings all the way up to entire platforms.”

They also brought various teams together to discuss solving combat logging and are currently making a workable pitch.

Mission Features are currently investigating how to lessen the impact of CrimeStats obtained through bugs. In pursuit of this, they worked on a change that will make CS1 and 2 not cause security (or allow players) to attack, meaning players will be able to request landing and reach the kiosks to pay off crimes. Providing it doesn’t cause any negative knock-ons, this is planned for release soon.

Mission Features also prototyped a time-trial race. The first iteration will likely not have leaderboards but will allow for accurate time measurement, with leaderboards, new tracks, and vehicle types following in a subsequent release. Alongside this, they investigated allowing players to rent and spawn the necessary vehicles at the race location for ease of entry.

On top of this, the game design documentation and foundation work for Bounty Hunting v2 is nearing completion, which includes bounty drop-offs and the use of virtual NPCs. A new investigation mission type entered the prototyping stage and is one of the most complex the team have ever tackled.

Narrative worked on new content for upcoming patches, including the expansions coming to Security Post Kareah and the Klescher Rehabilitation Facility. They discussed adjustments to existing dynamic missions. New Missions were prototyped, environmental missions saw work.

The EU Sandbox Locations Team spent part of the month working on outlaw themes for the colonialism outposts, which will be darker and more dangerous places to explore. Elsewhere, they began whiteboxing various new modules for outposts, including landing areas, smaller habitations, refineries, and ore extractors. Whitebox work continued on upcoming space sandbox locations that will provide more interesting opportunities for ship-based exploration and gameplay.

The Landing Zone team progressed with Pyro’s Ruin Station, focusing on art for the external industrial areas and damage locations. Inside, cold route areas were injected with extra side routes and activities. Exterior access hatches were developed to give extra access options, while exploratory work was performed to craft ideas for the shanty town habitations.

Time was also dedicated to the revamped underground facilities, with the team whiteboxing the remaining layouts with a focus on how the player navigates the surface structure down to the top of the physical elevator. Work was also done on the entrance lobby and elevator entrance room, with the final pieces getting close to being set up and working in whitebox. They also planned the targets for final art.

A push was also made on interactable props featuring modular machines, interactable cupboards and lockers, switches, and fuses. They Said – “These will provide great gameplay opportunities to designers for implementing exploration and traversal puzzles.” 

Different initiatives were explored for adding to landing zones and feature work, tasks for this year’s IAE were started, and the buggy racetrack received extensive playtesting and bug fixing. A new fuel barge for Orison is now art complete (barring LODs) and will be used in the future for a variety of mission types.

Preproduction began for the new law and bounty offices, which will be found around the system and will be where bounties can be taken and new bounty missions can be found.

The team also whiteboxed improvements to Kareah in support of the Mission Feature team’s gameplay initiatives. Spawn closets were added to all landing zones and improved signage was prototyped for Area18 to help new players too.

The Montreal Locations Team worked on the Daymar derelict settlement, which is nearing completion. The crash sites released in January were upgraded with AI, loot, and other features, while the derelict Reclaimer settlement was updated too. The Art team continued creating a wider library of habitations that will be used in upcoming derelict settlements. This will allow the team to create more diverse settlements with different gameplay opportunities.

The ongoing rework of Lorville’s cityscape is progressing well and is now in the greybox phase. The team are currently adding high-frequency details and landing pads, and connecting the various neighbourhoods together.

They also kicked off Building Interiors, with the first steps being a prototype and the de-risking of a number of technical items.

Lighting spent time on the new cave systems, which allowed them to differentiate from the typical artificial lighting usually seen around the ‘verse. They also worked on Pyro, contributing to some of the new location’s impressive visuals.

The In-Game Branding team completed tasks for IAE and are currently working on a new signage pass for various landing zones as part of the new player experience effort. The goal for this pass is to make it easier for new players to find their way around the PU’s various landing zones.

The Tools team is also nearing completion of the first version of the procedural locations creation tool. This will allow them to create and edit simple layouts of space stations in minutes and will dramatically decrease the time it takes to make stations out of existing modules.

They’re also in the final push of the first version of the tool that will help create derelict settlements. 

The goal of this iteration is to be able to create 80% of a derelict settlement procedurally. This heavy lifting will allow the artists more time to polish and finish the location. Reaching this goal will mean that a derelict settlement will take weeks rather than months to create.

The Mighty Bridge Tool saw an improved object spawner (allowing the spawning of multiple layers of objects on geometries and planet surfaces) as well as a Cable Generator for complex cable spawning THIS MEANS faster better looking locations.

Character Features revisited ladder traversal, adding support for entering and exiting a ladder at midpoints so that a single ladder can service multiple floors. They are  allowing you to look around while traversing and they are now doing early exploration into allowing item usage, such as weapons, while on ladders.

Character Art & Animation currently exploring gameplay armors, frontier high fashion and creatures. They are prepping armour variants for SPK & this year’s IAE. There are updates to face animations too.

I’ve compiled the Engine & Graphics Updates from like 3 pages into 2 paragraphs of highlights. 

The physics team reduced memory consumption, stalls & loading times significantly while also making dynamic physical entities easier to process in parallel.

Gen12 continued with numerous render node types ported over to the new APIs. The RTT Gen12 pipeline was enabled by default and MIP map generation, gas cloud processing, and forward and tiled-forward rendering were transitioned.

The Gen12 port of atmospheric rendering was completed, and the port of volumetric cloud rendering is currently being wrapped up. Work will then commence to further improve the rendering of volumetric clouds.

The Graphics team began the initial tasks targeting CPU offloading of planet tech code. The goal is to provide equivalent functionalities of ground-level scattered objects with compute shaders instead of relying on the slower CPU path. The benefits are significant, with the team able to spend the saved computational budget on other purposes, such as gameplay and tech.

In some Other Highlights – Tech Animation made a win on every level with their new approach to maya assets… basically speeding everything they do up.

Both the Player Support and Player Experience teams combined and grew about 30%, with an emphasis on delivering better, quicker service for the playerbase. 

There are jobs available at CI’s various studios around the world for those interested!

There has been various work on improving Arena Commander hoping to give funner gameplay and a more refworking experience, map improvements are in the works too, players may be able to hide in gas clouds.

A huge amount of work went into PES and services to support that BUT we have covered that in quite some detail in a dedicated video.