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Star Citizen July 2023 Monthly Report

Welcome to a Star Citizen Persistent Universe Monthly Report, looking at what the devs at CIG have been working on for this Alpha MMO over the last few weeks and what they are focused on now in July 2023, a lot of which looks to be planned for going out to players in the near future.

Ships & Vehicles – The Tumbril Storm Light Assault Tank is nearing the end of the LOD0 stage, with some areas approaching final content. Materials were also polished, internal damage was built, and most LODs were created. 

The Aopoa San’tok.yāi is awaiting its second greybox gate review pass.
“It failed the first time around due to a missing dashboard implementation plan – we have now created a dashboard and generated the bulk of the art for it. We simply need to make it past the gate and we will be officially in LOD0 stage.” 

The San’tok.yāi’s cockpit also received a polish pass before the team moved on to the rest of the ship. Ship Art then worked with Narrative on Xi’an language translations, which will appear in the ship’s UI and character Inner Thought system.

We do also know that CI are working on or have finished work on the New Fury LX.

Features – Mission Features worked on cargo and Pyro-based missions; they’re currently developing cargo-hauling and ship-piracy missions that leverage the new cargo grid and freight elevator features.

The Development of a new cargo and escort-focused Dynamic Event began. Blockade Runner will replace Nine Tails Lockdown, keeping its strengths and removing its weaknesses by using new features and proven designs.

Work was completed on the Ship Coverup mission suite. This entails scraping the hull off a criminal ship to make it unidentifiable to the approaching security forces. The team was also tasked with turning the New Player Experience into a modular mission that can be run in any location with the correct setup.

For combat missions, most quantum-travel-capable ships were added to the pool that missions can spawn from. However, some that don’t make narrative sense weren’t added. For example, criminals won’t use the Drake Cutlass Blue. As part of this work, the game’s ships were divided into difficulty bands derived from data, which was gathered from pitting every ship against each other 1000 times.

A technical design document was completed for the system that governs player reputations with orgs. This relates to things players can do outside of missions, such as killing org members or rival players.

Gameplay Features also made improvements to the Defend Kareah mission, including splitting trespasser tracking between the station’s interior and exterior to help players better understand where to search.

“They are also prototyping a means to take the turrets temporarily offline and do a momentary ping on intruders, which may or may not be used.” 

Work continued on the Data Heist, Retrieve Consignment, and Ship Escort missions alongside the ship-trespass feature.

Mission Features worked with Actor Features to get the ‘ledge grab’ feature enabled in the PU, seeing it through the QA and go/no-go processes. This feature allows players to grab onto ledges while in mid-air, significantly improving climbing and allowing players to reach ship entrances that were previously out of reach. They also made a pass on the Prison Escape mission alongside the USPU team to ensure the new feature could be used to its fullest.

Gameplay Features worked on the vehicle tractor beams, with relevant vehicles being set up to support the feature. For example, the upcoming Argo SRV was tested internally and towed its first ships.

The Resource Network also progressed well, with the team pleased with its current state. They then moved onto supporting Resource Network-relevant features, including engineering and life support.

The Arena Commander Feature team’s focus was on polishing and bug fixing for Alpha 3.20. Engineering also completed the new competitive-scoring and team-balance systems. There are a ton of improvements to AC.

Tank Royale, the mode’s Magda location failed its go/no-go due to underwhelming visuals and gameplay. In response, Design worked on two replacement locations to provide greater variety and more visual interest, Daymar and Mya (Leir’s second planet, where The Good Doctor map is set).

Design then reworked all existing race tracks to utilise the new racing system being developed for release in a future patch.

The team concluded work on three new experimental modes that feature the new flight system, “Master Modes” (assumedly the nav vs combat mode_ for Free Flight, Duel, and Endless Vanduul Swarm.

The Character & Weapon Features team began extending item wear to weaponry. This means that as a weapon is used, ages, or is kept in poor condition, it will become increasingly worn. For example, if a weapon is used while dirty, it will accumulate wear faster. As a weapon becomes worn, it will become less reliable and may overheat faster and start misfiring. This can cause minor or major jamming, requiring the user to spend time fixing the malfunction.

They looked into a minor rework of the inventory screen. “The current inventory screen is great for managing loadout and inventory storage, but we have been looking at options for speeding up looting while in combat.” 

As part of this, the team experimented with a new UI that remains in first-person view, allowing players to assess combat-related items and then quickly loot or exchange MedPens, ammunition, grenades, and weapons.

The Animation team worked on facial animations for a new character set. They also progressed with their ongoing work on ‘boids,’ which relate to animals flying in flocks or swarms.

The Character Art team continued working on the Dusters and Headhunters gangs, creating new outfits for the former and polishing existing items for the latter. 

Tech Animation integrated their long-awaiting changes to the DNA system. This enables new head assets and provides a pipeline that will open new ways to author and customise new game content.

AI Tech finalized their work on dynamic pathfinding regeneration. This feature allows dynamic paths and NPCs to move around objects and blockages. 

They continued developing a feature to allow NPCs to enter and exit a ship’s airlock from EVA.  AI Tech also supported existing features and the upcoming release builds including allowing NPCs to use moving platforms.

Locations – The EU Locations team progressed with closing out rooms for Rundown Station. 

“The station has had some great TLC and we hope players will enjoy exploring these new areas!” 

They completed tasks for an upcoming event before beginning various new projects.  

The Sandbox team closed out Pyro’s outposts and moved on to planetary distribution work. Development of the underground facilities continued too, with the team exploring new areas and further expanding these already considerable locations. 

The Organics team continued cloud development for planets and worked on new and interesting flora that players will find in Pyro.

The VFX team increased support for several locations across Pyro, including Ruin Station’s interior and exterior and various derelict settlements and outposts. 

They also supported several new platforms on Orison, including falling and rustling leaves, water fountains, and more. Several ships progressed throughout June too.

Branding worked closely with EU Locations 2 on navigational signage for New Babbage and began building various artwork assets for an upcoming event.

They also progressed with artwork for Pyro, including the final touch-ups on navigational signage for Ruin Station.

The Branding Team began work on the underground facilities too, which involved creating different mockups for the commercial lobbies.

The Lighting team continued to work on outposts for the Pyro system, helping to sell the ‘wilderness’ feel. They also worked on several other initiatives for Pyro alongside the Locations team.

The Narrative team have been further developing and populating Pyro. As a lawless system, it presents a lot of interesting opportunities for the team to explore how existing game systems may change and take on new nuance. The team worked on further outlining mission content and providers, refining the unique food options that will be available at some of the remote space stations, and detailing signage and graffiti that will be placed around various locations.

Narrative also continued their final push toward the release of Alpha 3.20. This included naming and writing descriptions for numerous assets, reviewing new text for gameplay features, and further refining new mission content. Additionally, they made deeper dives into an alien species’ lore as xeno-linguistic development continued. This involved listening to new audio samples and debating which style of speech fit best with the culture and lore. 

Engine, Networking & Graphics – The Core Engine team made a load of improvements, better physics code.

The Entity System Tech team transferred to the Core Engine team.“While their focus will still be on everything related to Server Meshing, bringing the team over brings the knowledge and ownership of the entity system together, which should allow more efficient communication.”

Entity System Tech also integrated their recent improvements into the main development branch. They now working on a heap of optimizations.

Online Services team completed a major refactor of the inventory system. These changes won’t be visible to players but will touch on every inventory type in the game, with the goal being to address some long-standing bugs and improve PES performance and stability.

The Planet Tech team wrapping up their latest tools and working on the new water system. 

Gen12 and Vulkan also received various bug fixes that impacted rendering and streaming performance. I am hoping to see Vulkan Support in Alpha 3.20.

Alongside the UI Tech and SQ42 teams, Graphics improved the performance and visual quality of the area map. The interior and FPS mini-maps now use the Render Layers feature.

The VFX team enabled DataForge to support particle library groups in preparation for the upcoming changes to weapon-effect setups. Lightning was also improved. For example, lightning cascades can be timed with a new controller and ship shields now trigger when struck by lightning.