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Star Citizen – SO MANY New Ships, New Missions & Locations All Now In Development

Welcome to some more Star Citizen… It’s February and we have a Star Citizen Persistent Universe Monthly report looking at what CI have been working on over the last few weeks on 3.18 and what they are focused on now as we move toward Alpha 3.19 and beyond… let’s jump in!

There appears to be lots of incoming new ships, vehicles and variants…

The UK Ship Art team continued work on a new ‘small ship’, with certain elements reaching LOD(Level Of Detail)0-complete, this is basically scaled detail shown on a ship based on it’s distance from the viewer. They also began exploring ideas for a variant.

The Argo SRV progressed through final art. Final polish is currently underway on the exterior before the LOD and damage passes begin. The interior continued through final art and received a LOD pass.

The Crusader Spirit passed its whitebox review, and the A1 variant moved into the greybox phase.

The Ship Team Said “The exterior is shaping up nicely with the key forms all established and all major elements, like landing gear and VTOLs, resolved. The interior is coming along and we’re very pleased with the space so far, though there are a few visual changes we’d like to make to the doorways to emphasize Crusader’s visual language.” 

A previously unannounced ground vehicle passed its greybox sanity review before the artwork progressed to LOD0. The exterior is almost finalized, only requiring some additional detail, while the interior is progressing well.

The US team have been working on loads more secret ships and vehicles too… they completed art whitebox for an unnamed in-production vehicle, which then passed to the Systems Design team.

Greybox began on another ship. Half the team focused on the main fuselage geometry, while the other prototyped a new way to enter and exit the ship.

An all-new vehicle entered greybox too, and a new set of alien paints was created for a future release.

Ship Tech Art and Animation progressed with the Hull C. They worked on the animation and state setup for the ship’s expanded cargo mode.

Tech animation and damage support was provided for several ships in the pipleline, and all ships were reviewed alongside QA to ensure that relevant component attachments can take damage.

They also enabled shader damage scraping on various ship attachments and fixed several hull-scraping issues on ship bodies.

The EU Gameplay Features team continued work on the tractor beam, this time focusing on ‘escaping’ mechanics, such as how shields affect the required strength of a tractor beam to secure a ship. A prototype was built to test whether average shield strength or per-shield-face should  determine the required strength. 

They also began work on detaching and attaching items with the tractor beam, which is an expansion of the attaching-to-cargo-grid feature.

A clearer direction for ship engineering gameplay was also defined. This involved determining the gameplay beats and planning the possible malfunctions and dangers players will face while maintaining their ships.

A mining balance update progressed well, with small changes that have bigger impacts being added to the system. For Salvage, Gameplay Features helped Missions prepare to use the mechanic in new content.

In the US, Gameplay Features continued with the overall design for loading and unloading physicalized cargo, and designs for missions that leverage the new cargo systems kicked off. These missions will also utilize the boarding actions now available with soft death alongside the retrieval of containers or other objects of interest.

Investigation and preliminary design work started on changes to ship insurance and how it works in conjunction with ship destruction. These changes are necessary to make towing and repairing either at stations or in space a better choice.

Tasks were started for a change to commodities, including the locations they can be bought and sold from. For example, changes to mining locations will impact the location and prices for mined and refined ores at commodity brokers.

The UI Team helped with the Squadron 42 Starmap, which will eventually make its way into PU. The current focus is on adding navigation aids, such as grids and coordinates, improving the sizing of planets and markers, and adding visual polish.

The majority of the Mission Feature team’s last few weeks was spent addressing bugs and balancing for Alpha 3.18. Progress was also made on the design and prototyping of various new missions, including salvage.

Mission Features Said – “The order we are tackling these missions is based on when we receive the necessary support, so the first missions produced will be the more simplistic salvage ones. These include a lawful contract in which players must pay for the location of salvage, an unlawful timed mission in which players must strip a ship quickly or deal with inbound hostiles, a lawless mission in which multiple players pay for the location of the same large salvage opportunity, and one in which players must restore a ship using nearby wrecks for materials.” 

A mining mission was also prototyped in which players purchase the location of a valuable prospect. There are currently three variants: lawful, which takes place in a monitored zone and has friendly defenses to protect against hostiles; unlawful, where players seize legally owned mining claims; and lawless, which takes place in unmonitored zones and can be accepted by multiple players.

They are also developing larger missions set on the Orison platforms. These task players with either preventing the Nine Tails gang from stealing Crusader Industries prototype parts or stealing them for another criminal organization.

A few other missions progressed through the design and work on Bounty Hunting v2 and the Mission Manager update continued.

Designs for defending player ships from intruders and ship-based hostility were worked on. These features are intended to replace the simplistic hostility currently in-game where ships remember the hostility of their last pilot or turn hostile the moment a hostile player steps aboard.

Narrative continued developing stories for the first batch of ‘Investigation’ missions and discussed upcoming content plans.

The Environment and Design teams provided updates on new locations that will start appearing in the game to support Bounty Hunting. Narrative worked closely with them to ensure these areas align with existing lore and gameplay expectations.

The Character & Weapons Features teams continued to support the upcoming patch release with critical bug fixes, specifically issues relating to the cargo system, tractor beam, and inventory. They fixed several client and server crashes too.

They worked on the player skills feature. This tracks certain player activities and actions with minimal hooks into the gameplay feature logic and with an emphasis on performance. From the data and events gathered, players can improve certain aspects of their performance. For example, a player with a higher level of fitness may have more stamina or consume stamina at a slower rate.

They have also been working on improving animations for a range of basic interactions.

The AC Features team focused on polishing the new Arena Commander frontend and racing tracks, including placing the New Horizon Speedway tracks above a new planet, Green III of the Ellis System. Some adjustments were also made to the racetracks themselves to suit the new earth-like atmosphere. The team also experimented with new loadout selection previews on the frontend alongside polishing its style and flow.

Work continued on the Classic Race refactor, with the first version of the new Race Manager and checkpoint setups being tested and feedback addressed. 

The refactors of both the Rounds and Spawning modules continued across Arena Commander and Star Marine, brining code upto current standards while also providing more modularity for new features and tackles problems raht prevented the expansion of old systems, such as separating unintended connections to PU characters, validating loadouts, and adding the ability to change the ship selection while in-game.

The Locations team continues work on Pyro’s Ruin Station.

The EU Locations 1 Team Said “This is a behemoth task that the team have been diligently working on and it’s looking better day on day.” 

EU Locations 2 progressed with the local law office and created new content alongside Mission Features.

The Sandbox teams further developed the colonial outposts and continued exploration and development of the underground facilities. 

They said – “Production is starting to ramp up and the team are feeling good about the work being done.” 

VFX began pre-production on some new locations, including a huge underground facility and rock caves.

The In-Game Branding team progressed with their work on the Lorville skyline. They then transitioned to Invictus Launch Week, including a refresh of the DefenseCon branding, which will become the main focus for the upcoming weeks. Progress continued on the brand catalog too. 

Lighting began the year making progress in several key areas, including tidying and bug-fixing Area18 to restore its intended appearance.  

Work on Pyro continued, with the team lighting the interiors and exteriors of the colonial outposts and Ruin Station.

They also supported the ongoing rework of Lorville’s skyline, touching up and improving several areas around the city.

Some Other Bits & Pieces…

Online Services planned their year ahead, discussing Server Meshing with the Networking team. The goal was to achieve technical design consensus and division of responsibilities between the teams in order to deliver the feature. The following week, Online Services further defined the tasks needed to achieve Server Meshing tier 0.

The Community Team continued to work on the “Events Feature” which is a new section coming to the Community Hub next week. 

The Physics team largely worked on 3.18 bug fixing, optimizations and updates.

Various optimizations were implemented into the Gen12 Renderer(partly based on telemetry gathered during Alpha 3.18 PTU).  Additionally, renderer initialization was refactored to prepare for Vulkan.
Boom that’s it for your monthly report this time…