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Star Citizen October Monthly Report – A LOAD OF NEW SHIPS?!

Welcome to a Star Citizen PU Monthly Report, looking at what CI have been working on over the last few weeks and what direction the development of the game is going now in October 2022.

The Vehicle Team took the Drake Corsair through final art and are currently putting the finishing touches on the wear and tint systems. They created new geometry for the exterior of the docking collar and took it through final art with animations and lighting. Most of the team then moved on to LODs and the damage mesh.

They Said “We are experimenting with a new setup system to trigger lights on the exterior of the ship for specific states, such as landing, and when using the lift to allow for a more dynamic lighting experience.”

Additional support was also given to get the Drake Vulture ready for release.

In the UK, Ship Art continued work on the Argo SRV, which is progressing through greybox, with only habitation remaining.

The final art pass on an unannounced ship was completed in preparation for review this month.

They Said “We’re very pleased with how this ship turned out. It was a great opportunity for us to push the workflow and visuals forward. For example, exterior lighting states, better-looking glass and glows on exterior lights, new damage trims, and new artwork for countermeasures.” 

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 polish tasks.

The Hull-C polish pass was concluded, with all major bugs and improvements completed.

The resource-management pass on the Aegis Hammerhead continued, with a new gravity generator room being added. The team also began implementing the new component bays.

Work was also completed on an upcoming variant. 

Vehicle Features focused on supporting the release of Persistent Entity Streaming. This included work on the transit system, which received a significant refactor to cope with how things now stream.

They also spent time improving other older systems, including Tiles, the underlying tech system that connects objects to power and other resources. They also reworked the aiming and gunnery system, which received upgrades for future releases to simplify and improve things. For example, making weapons significantly more accurate and reliable in vehicles.

For new systems, the team worked on the EUPU team’s resource network, converting vehicle systems to utilize the new implementation and updating all item behaviors.

They also progressed with features driven by the needs of Squadron 42. Most notably, the ship MFD system, which has been fully planned out and designed and is currently being implemented in-game.

Gameplay Features continued to support the release of Salvage T0. Additionally, they made several quality-of-life plans for mining and loot generation that will be worked on after the release of Alpha 3.18. Both features will receive a general balance pass, while the team is looking to improve multi-crew mining. For example, by adding benefits to using an Argo MOLE over several MISC Prospectors.

Work continued on the resource network, which involved Gameplay Features working alongside Vehicles to unify the way temperatures are controlled throughout ships, including the coolers that some ships carry.

The EU-based PU team began supporting their US counterparts on the cargo refactor as it approaches release.

VFX Programming continued work on the damage map feature for salvage. This included supporting the vehicle artists to get the most out of the damage shader, adding support for vehicle debris, and fixing bugs.

UI continued their ongoing work on the Starmap, adding new tech to allow them to create interactive holo-volumes using the UI system. This provides them extra flexibility without having to rely on the content teams if they want to add a 3D holo-volume to the game. As well as being used on the standard ship radars, this will make it possible to have large real-time holo-spheres on capital ships in the future.

In preparation for Alpha 3.18, they also closed out the remaining persistence-related UI code that uses loadouts.

VFX continued prototyping of the quantum travel VFX rework, with a focus on refractive elements to emphasize the forming of the hull-hugging ‘bubble’ while a ship’s drive spools up.

Salvage effects also continued, with visual balancing to allow the best possible read to help players understand what’s happening throughout the hull-stripping gameplay loop.

A new vehicle had its VFX pass completed, and two other vehicles entered VFX production after the completion of their pre-production phase.

Finally, various bugs and tweaks were made to the new derelict locations, as well as some miscellaneous fixes for other areas of the game.

Work continued on the underlying system for FPS Devices. This involved adding features, such as timer and proximity triggers, and support for behaviors, such as explosions and actor-status effects when devices are triggered. This will, for example, allow the team to replace the out-of-date flashbang logic.

The Feature team also began prototyping the flow for restraining NPCs and other players, which will be used when an enemy is incapacitated or surrenders. The player can apply wrist and ankle restraints to ensure the enemy is not able to recover and resume hostilities. 

“Of course, another player or NPC may come along and remove the restraint, but it is a small risk for those who want to avoid using lethal action.” Features Team

The Mission Feature team have been working on go/no-gos for Alpha 3.18’s Security Post Kareah rework, infiltrate missions on Orison platforms, and the prison updates.

A simple change to help prevent combat logging was also tested.

Testing progressed well on the lessening of CrimeStat 1 and 2 severity. Improvements were also made to help differentiate between a trespass zone and an area controlled by unlawful hostiles. Significant progress was made on time trials too, including improvements to allow the designers to create an infinite number of checkpoints of any shape with the area tools.

A New investigation mission also progressed.

They Said “We feel we are ready to let Narrative go wild with creating mysteries aboard a variety of ships and surrounding environments.” 

Work with UI on the redesign of the Contract Manager began in earnest, with specific features and problems being worked through each week. Plans for the team’s work up to Q2 2023 were proposed, including many new and long-anticipated mission types.

The EU-based Locations team focused on Pyro last month, progressing with the art and design of Ruin Station.  

They also developed several other areas, including Security Post Kareah, an upcoming event space, and older landing zones; adding new animations to bring them further to life.

The Planet Tech team are in the process of delivering Rastar V1, the internal tool used to build modules and populate planetary environments with outposts, derelicts, and cities. Planet Tech also improved the river tech for Alpha 3.18, with several bug fixes and a new spline system to better match complex topology curvatures. 

Lighting continued work on Pyro’s Ruin Station.

They also completed the necessary lighting passes on the updated Security Post Kareah, working alongside the core development teams to push it to final.

Lighting also fulfilled requests for footage that will be used in an upcoming event.  

The Interactables team spent time closing out some of their consumables work for Ruin Station and worked on various marketing assets that will be in players’ hands soon.

Narrative – After putting the finishing touches on their work for IAE 2952, the Narrative team progressed with many of the initiatives started last month, including mission work for the Alpha 3.18 patch and beyond. 

The Narrative team also assisted with planning future improvements to the Contract Manager mobiGlas app itself to make it a more robust and player-friendly experience. They also began discussing upcoming work to continue improving the new player experience and help players better understand the nuances of playing Star Citizen when they first enter the ‘verse.

Tech Animation progressed with their face-scanning initiative, which aims to add more heads to the game’s gene pool. The initial scan session saw an extra 20 female heads scanned, which are currently being processed by the Art teams. Tech Animation will then rig and implement the assets into the engine.

Alongside this, the team explored and refined their methods for implementing geometry caches into the engine and Maya’s deformation technology.

“We have some exciting developments with some of our elements in-game that will take them to the next level of visual fidelity.” Tech Animation

Tech Animation also assisted in the creation and implementation of new enemy types that are being worked on by other feature teams.

There was a question: With the Tobii Eye Tracker 5, is there a way to have other players see my Character move his Head & Eyes?

CI Responded – Headtracking is not networked correctly yet but the actor team has recently finished that work in their dev stream. It will be a while until this hits the PU though.

The Facial Animation team dedicated most of the month to multiple PU character sets, including lines for rescue-transport gameplay. They also provided mo-cap and on-set facial services for the Marketing team. They’re currently working on cleanup and facial animations for various Q4 events.

The Character Art and Tech Art teams prepared various new armors, worked on the Subscriber program, and progressed with Stanton’s ‘Earth-fashion’ outfits.

On the concept art side, further development was done on frontier outfits, undersuits and helmets, medical armor, and creatures.

In regard to Engine & Graphics – There were some physics refactors. More progress was made on the Gen12 transition. Cube map back drops, light beams, geom caches, silhouette rendering, water volumes, water reflections, and water caustics were ported. Various editor tools now run with Gen12 as well.

Gen12 now also supports texture anisotropy overrides as well as a global MIP bias. Material resource binding was refactored, and alpha blending support was added to the hologram shader. The port of volumetric cloud rendering was completed.

On the core engine, optimizations which will allow for faster engine startup.

The remainder of their time was spent supporting Alpha 3.18 and the live PU.

The Graphics team completed work on edge-highlight rendering code in support of the FPS scanning of occluded objects including a new render-to-texture layer used exclusively for augmented reality rendering, which will be used for all AR/in-world UI rendering going forward. The shader used for AR rendering was also upgraded to support tesselation/smoothing and with other features.

The team also began looking into improving and unifying all resource streaming systems, with the goal of simplifying the code while allowing more intelligent use of the available memory. 

They also made fixes to the Gen12 rendering of planets ready for Alpha 3.18.

Boom that’s it for today’s PU Monthly Report Summary.