Star Citizen, Squadron 42 & Theatres of War News, Guides, Videos & Gameplay by BoredGamer

Squadron 42 Development Update For June 2023

Welcome to a Squadron 42 Development Update for June 2023… Star Citizen’s Single Player Campaign continues to make progress but we still don’t have any release dates. 

Oddly Squadron 42 is not currently on sale on the RSI Website… It was recently removed with CI saying this was due to an incoming price increase. It has yet to return but should do shortly, there might be some form of announcement with this potentially… we will have to wait and see.

There is still quite a lot of juicy information here from the recent Monthly Report for what CI have been working on over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in June 2023 as the game plods closer to completion.

The AI Content Team have progressed with medical-behavior. The full medical flow can now be demonstrated. Additional animation variations for interacting with cupboards, beds, trays, and sinks (both with and without data pads) were created too. Once signed off, the behavior will be implemented in the Stanton (Idris) and Krugeri’s (Bengal) infirmaries.

They continued work on the ‘fight club’ caged arena, implementing the entry bouncer and rush animations for crowd spectators. The crowd’s intensity varies pre, mid, and post-fight. As part of this, speed-quality fight animations were developed, with data coming from a recent mocap shoot.

They worked on speed-processed locomotion animations for NPCs experiencing severe pain. Part of this involved implementing animations for characters standing and locomoting while exhibiting sickness. They then processed and implemented polished drinking animations and created speed-drunk locomotion animations for inebriated NPC movements. Drunk locomotion animations were also created for NPCs holding cups.

They also implemented mobiGlas and datapad overlay locomotion animations to allow characters to seamlessly interact with digital interfaces

AI Features continued to work on the buddy AI. Now, buddies ‘cheat’ when finding supplies, looting ammunition that doesn’t match their current weapon. They will also fully restock when they do so, replenishing their grenades and MedPen.

They finished the first pass of a boss fight that challenges players to counter or block before they can attack, while progress was made on the targeting and melee attacks for a key enemy behavior. 

They also implemented the core components of systemic and boss-fight sniper functionality, enabling the designers to finish it off and provide feedback.

AI Tech progressed with their final major Squadron 42 features as well as addressing feedback on older initiatives. They continued to improve the collision-avoidance system to give better results when ground vehicles pass each other or NPCs. They also added support for driving along a predefined route, similar to how NPCs can move along a path. For this case, the designers can specify certain properties for the route, like the maximum permitted speed, which direction it should be driven, and if it should loop.

Work then began on a dynamic pathfinding regeneration feature to improve how NPCs find and follow alternative routes. For example, if a hazard (tree falling, vehicle stopping, fire hazard, etc.) impacts a navigation mesh triangle, the navigation volume will notify all related paths and check if new requests are submitted. Then check if a new path is needed.

They also began investigating and implementing a solution for NPCs entering and exiting ships from EVA using the external doors of an airlock system. For this, they set up ship and seat access as a usable to allow NPCs to find their closest entry position, fly to it, and trigger the right interaction. They also had to account for a ship’s rotational velocity and allow NPCs to adjust their orientation as they approach. 

The Vehicle team progressed with their ongoing rework of combat AI. Last month, they hooked up various events for the AI to react to across the game. This is the final step before integrating the new combat AI into all encounters across SQ42.

The AI Vehicle Team Said “After that, it’s playtesting over and over again in situ in the levels of the game so we can judge and adjust difficulty, pacing, and so on to fine tune the experience.” 

They improved the logic for how AI ships join splines to make it smoother and more natural looking.

Ground avoidance during atmospheric flight was also worked on. The aim is to have AI try their best to not collide with the ground when in combat while behaving as naturally as possible.

The Animation team worked on various skill-level-based takedowns, movement in zero-g, and swimming.

For AI, they continued creating assets for background actions to give life to various locations; this will continue as levels are playtested. A second enemy class animation style was developed alongside a knife fight and a melee enemy class. The team also continued to create assets for the various behavior lines and wildlines for both combat and non-combat AI.

The Mo-cap team spent the majority of the month shooting performances and delivering data for gameplay and cinematics.

Gameplay Features updated the character customizer. This included adding a new ‘sculpting mode’ that allows players to select and drag an anchor point on the face to change the size and shape of a particular facial zone, such as the nose, ear, and chin.

Further detailing work was done on the firing range, mostly around joining and leaving. Feedback was also actioned on the UI to integrate it better into the environment.

A new collectible was created that players will be able to find, pick up, and stow during gameplay. These items will then populate the player’s quarters as part of the collectibles system.

The frontend also received a new difficulty option. This exposes various modifiers to the AI, health, and weapon attributes to allow the Design team to balance the game depending on the player’s desired experience.

A new feature to allow the designers to create and save damage maps was created too, which enables them to apply pre-damaged areas to ships.

Following on from the recent Starmap work, they are now developing the area map. This will render a holographic view of a player’s current environment, either from within the Starmap or as part of the visor, with markers for players, characters, mission objectives, and more.

Vehicle Features continued work on the ‘control surface’ flight model. The team implemented special handling for ships in gas-filled zero-g locations, such as gas clouds. While ships still favor thrusters in this situation, they will experience drag and lift that slightly impacts how they feel.

Vehicle Features also iterated on UI and VFX for communicating the Quantum system’s state. They also began utilizing in-world VFX for this purpose, which allowed them to pair back the UI. The feedback on this has been positive so far.

A new feature for spawning waves of AI ships inside carriers was kicked off (similar to an FPS spawn closet). Now, AI will spawn on landing pads within carriers, take off, and join the fight. This feature can be used to support large battles by naturally spawning ships.

The Intelligent Flight Control System (IFCS) received updates. They worked on a bespoke relative throttle that allows players to assign a target velocity when the throttle is untouched. Various quality-of-life improvements were made to support this, including a trap for setting target speed to zero, a non-linear rate of change for improved precision at lower speeds, and an improved UI for displaying the throttle.

Work on the Vehicle UI continued, with the team creating a physical hangar terminal for modifying a ship’s loadout before missions. This enables players to view an inventory of available weapons and items, compare them against each other, and equip them to the ship in the hangar.

Multi-function displays (MFDs) also received various updates, including a UI pass to make them larger, simpler, and easier to read. The new MFD system also allows players to cast some screens to their visors, with the team changing the layout and aspect ratio of the screens when this occurs. This makes better use of screen space and allows certain elements to be more prominent. 

Gameplay Story team worked on various scenes involving the Stanton’s quartermaster. These updates were requested by Design, with the goal of getting the scenes to integrate properly with the AI behavior.

New motion-capture data was used to update some significant scenes in the med bay, ensuring characters interact correctly with the latest swiveling-chair setup. 

They Said “It was great to see these scenes updated to use exactly the same setup as the AI, which should make the scenes very robust and future-proof.” 

They began setting up 8 new scenes, bringing their total to 290. They also polished, pose pasted, and updated props in several scenes to ensure they were fully up to date.

They then continued to set up operator seats, working to establish proper metrics and solid foundations for these complicated assets. Automated testing of the entities achieved a 100% pass rate, so they can move on to reviewing, improving, and approving the required animations.

Level Design focused on their two main locations, the Stanton and Krugeri capital ships. Alongside general scene maintenance and bug fixing, they looked into scene ‘handshakes’ that transition NPCs into their required behaviors. This involves ensuring characters are prepped to transition, are pose matched, have holstered held items, and more.

They also updated the Stanton’s quartermaster scenes to reflect the revised AI vendor flow without negatively affecting performance.

The team then continued to work on the AI schedules for the Stanton, which has an 80-person crew playing out various behaviors around the ship.

The Level Design Team Said “With this roll out, we have to keep tabs on NPCs gate-crashing scene content. For example, if the player is in a somber scene with a colleague discussing the horrors of war, we don’t want an NPC barging in with a “Hello Lieutenant” and jumping onto a console.” 

VFX revisited gas-cloud tunnels, working closely with Design and Art to create new hazards that can occur inside the tunnel networks.

Progress was also made on weapon effects, while support for the Art and Design teams continued across a variety of locations.

Narrative held a performance-capture shoot focusing on additional combat and social wildlines. The goal was to capture a wide variety of voices to populate the universe while also maximizing the effectiveness of the content so that it remains within a reasonable scope.  

Narrative also synced with Design on their recent gameplay progress to review adjustments and ensure that dialogue continues to function as intended. In some instances, the team made suggestions on how the revised gameplay scenarios could better align with the emotional tone of the moment. For example, if a puzzle scenario occurs during a particularly stressful sequence of the game, Narrative and Design will discuss ways to maintain the emotional underpinning during the puzzle.

Meanwhile, progress continued on the text items needed across the entirety of the game, including collectibles, Galactapedia entries, and mobiGlas UI elements.