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Persistent Entity Streaming May Disappoint In Star Citizen Alpha 3.18

Welcome to some more Star Citizen with a Deep Dive in Persistent Entity Streamign for Alpha 3.18… what is it tangibly going to do in game. CI answered a load of questions in a Dev Response Q&A on SCL… let’s jump in:

2:45 What is Persistent Entity Streaming?

Alpha 3.18 is the foundational tech for PES.

PES takes all the server data, state and object information and stores it on a database.

Allowing for everything to be updated, recalled & persist between sessions and restarts. 

For 3.18 it’s the foundation for a huge amount of new content and Server Meshing to come.

Their gamecode teams are in the process of integrating and building on this new tech currently.

In 3.18 items and states of the server will persist… so over time a lot can change.

Changes to ships, their states, locations and cargo are also saved between sessions.

Some things may still get cleaned up after a restart.

At this stage every shard is effectively it’s own isolated instance BUT it’s data persists overtime.

When you log in you will effectively be jumping to a parallel world.

They will address the match making, shard affinity and server meshing in the future.

5:30 Difference between Shards and Servers

Currently there is’t really any difference as they will be running 1 server per shard.

Eventually a shard will incorporate multiple servers and star systems, after server meshing is implemented.

10:05 How do we get back on the same “server” when we log back in?

In 3.18 they are not making changes to matchmaking SO you won’t be able to choose what server you are on UNLESS you have friends already on it. If you crash out you should return to the same server you were on previously potentially (as long as you join within a few mins).

Once they have Server Meshing we should see players matchmak-ed onto more appropriate servers.

12:35 does PES store items across all servers/shards?

You can take any items on you ship or in your inventory between servers.

If you leave an item on the ground, it persists there on THAT SPECIFIC server.

So you are basically leaving it for someone else to find.

Shard affinity in the future (with SM) will make it highly likely you will get back on the server you were on / server meshing may allow everyone to be in the same mega server.

15:50 How long will something stay on the server/shard?

Items that you pick up and place even a coffee cup have the potential to stay in that location permanently for someone else to then interact with. BUT it’s only on the specific server you dropped it on. If you leave a ship out… that will also persist in that shard and you would have to reclaim it if you didn’t get back in that server.

18:20 Is there replication in 3.18?

3.18 doesn’t replicate items, each item is unique and locked to the shard it’s on. You can pick it up or store it to then have it move with your character between shards.

The Replication Layer is different with Server Meshing, as servers will copy and share data for simulation purposes and allows for the moving between servers seamlessly but in the same shard.

They are working out how player bases will work, they do want to show this on multiple shards at once BUT are still in discussion.

21:30 if the server crashes do I lose my ship?

After you spawn your ship its in that server. You fly it around and you crash / a 30k happens.

Your ship is in shard X… the Server will relaunch with that data, where it left off.

You might be able to get back in there BUT you might be put on another shard.

They are working on a dedicated recovery system that will auto-stow your ship when a server crashes. 

And in the future with matchmaking you would automatically get put on the shard you were previously on, be it due to crash or just relogging IF POSSIBLE.

There may be a waiting time but you’d be able to choose to go to a new shard or wait for yours.

Once Server Meshing is complete if there is a 30k you wouldn’t notice as they seamlessly move you over to a new server with the data replicated.

28:30 Why don’t you want to do matchmaking right now?

Not enough staff and resources to work on matchmaking currently and doing it in stages makes more sense for a live product… they don’t want to do too much at the same time as it’s more complicated for more risk when trying to get in out with 3.18. If they waited… they’d just keep waiting on everything.

32:30 Cargo Refactor and Other Features

The Cargo Refactor is needed for Salvage… it’s still planned to be in Alpha 3.18 at least currently.

It also part of the PES Feature.

35:20 What will happen with PES if i combat log?

3.18 PES will probably not solve it at this time… 

They will be solving combat logging in the future with a logout timer.

If I log out randomly while in my ship will I be back there when I log back in?

3.18 will also likely keep the current log in / logout method, so you’ll be back in station/LZ… they will be looking at having you log back in in the same place and state in the future and they have all the tools they need to be able to do that now.

41:25 Will Serialized variable persist?

Everything that had serial variables like wear on armour will now also persist.

45:00 What are the plans for culling?

The old system, life time management, would remove items after a certain amount of time that it was unused. Density Management is the new system, it looks at areas and the amount of items in that area. Once the relative cost is too high… then items will start to get removed. Basically trying to keep performance to a certain level. Old items and low priority items will get removed… like coffee cups… most of this cleanup will happen when an area streams out. There will be more aggressive policies for areas that never stream out… where players might be trying to collect piles of trash. They don’t want to break the player’s immersion and experience.

Testing in the PTU will see some tweaks to the system.

53:20 Will PES allow ship states (MFDs,  Gimbal) to persist

Gimbal Modes should persist… MFDs and other things they haven’t confirmed. If it’s based on serialized variables then yes… and if it doesn’t yet then in the future yes.

55:30 What Else?

PES is a huge milestone and they now are able to work towards Server Meshing and making the game cloud native. It allows them to decouple the simulation from game state, implement server node and start scaling the system. It all needs a lot of testing tho.

Under the hood and the foundational changes that PES has brought will eventually allow for a huge amount of really cool stuff in Star Citizen, tho a large amount of that won’t be apparent for 3.18. PES is now part of the development branch and being used by all the devs to build the rest of the game!