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April Monthly Report Summary Written Friday 6th of May 2016 at 07:07pm by CanadianSyrup

The start of something big is around the corner… check out the monthly report on what happened this month at CIG! The summary of the monthly report was done by CanadianSyrup, Erris, Shiver Bathory, Sunjammer...

The start of something big is around the corner… check out the monthly report on what happened this month at CIG!

The summary of the monthly report was done by CanadianSyrup, Erris, Shiver Bathory, Sunjammer and Stormy Winters. Enjoy!

April Monthly Report

LOS ANGELES

Engineering

  • Working on building our Shield Management mechanics, allowing player control of shields.
    • Working on Controller interfaces and HUD code for the shield emitters.
  • Working on fixing up the ‘Seat’ feature, fixing player interactions / enter / exit / idle animations, and attachments.
  • Working on the new internal tool, the port Editor.
    • Tool allows designers greater power over editing the game.
  • Working on the doors system, setting pipes to allow greater modularity.
    • Working on proxy triggers such as automatic doors, audio triggers, and animations.
  • Working on controller managers.
    • Designate seat-priority, component priority, and adds events to components.

Tech Design

  • Worked on upcoming ships to be released.
  • Worked on the refactor of the cooler and power plant systems, as well as shields and quantum drives.
  • Getting Reliant flight-ready.
  • Writing up design brief for the 85X
  • Working on white-box for Herald.
  • Working on further fleshing out intricacies of Quantum Travel.
  • Salvage system is being prepared for its first rollout.
  • Working out how terminal stations will function.
    • Workstations players will use to operate features such as salvage mechanic.

Narrative

  • Additional script work for SQ42
  • Taking fiction passes at locations.
  • Working on how to generate item descriptions.

Art

  • Three artists working on the Caterpillar interior.
  • Working on a Pilot Flight Suit; creating the asset and supporting the clothing shopping for the PU
  • High-poly model of Light Armour has been completed.
  • Player Jetpacks game-asset geometry being worked on.
  • Working on custom clothing for the PU.

Tech Content

  • Working on design docs & R&D for character customization tech.
    • System will allow players to customize in-game characters.
  • Working on LOD’s for Landing Gear, Escape Pods, Thrusters, Seats, Weapon Mounts & more.
  • Addressing audio issues and multiple bugs.
  • Worked on fixing character rigging & resolving clothing volume clipping on characters.

Quality Assurance

  • Focused on 2.4, specifically testing
    • Persistence
    • Shopping implementation
    • PU clothing
    • Starfarer flight-performance.

Production

  • Worked on overseeing final touches to the LA office
  • Worked on readying 2.4 for PTU.

CIG AUSTIN

Development

  • Primary focus of the ATX Dev team is working towards first release of Shopping and Persistence
  • Rob Reininger, the Design team with BHVR have been setting up shops to function on Port Olisar in addition to what exists in Area 18
  • Casaba Outlet and Cubby Blast are open for business
    • Aim to sell clothing, armour, and weapons in first release
    • Lot of work to make sure clothing/weapon items properly spawned in on the store shelves/racks, getting mannequin props set up so clothing/armour can be properly purchased/equipped from it, setting up all data so it properly appears in Purchase UI
  • Pete Mackay has been spending time balancing pricing in game and creating a new formula that will help determine pricing for everything from clothing to ships
  • Spent time nailing down short/long term design requirements for they’re calling ‘Try On/Inspect Mode’
    • This mode will switch on when selecting the appropriate ‘Use Verb’  within Shop UI and will allow you to view potential purchase on your character before buying it
    • Initial implementation in place and are scheduling out the rest of features for future releases
  • Focus turning to getting Dumper’s Depot online, so you can shop ship components and weapons in-game
  • Rob Reininger is drafting up a Game Design Document for ‘Purchasing via Terminal
    • This will be utilized in shops that have inventory too large to fit on all the shelves such as ship components/weapons and ships
  • Work on first deployment of the Persistence backend is now complete
    • Jason Ely, Tom Sawyer and Jeff Zhu worked this month to make their services persistent
  • Provided programmers and designers the ability to hook into this now so they can start fully persisting things like player health, ship damage, hostility level, item purchases, ammo count, etc.
  • Implemented new currency tentatively called Alpha UEC will be used primarily to test shopping and other services
    • Will help with balancing the pricing and overall economy and subject to wipe at any time in order to implement new fixes
    • Turning attention to scheduling out a roadmap for getting actual Persistent UEC in game
  • Working on Port Modification
    • Working with UI team in UK to implement a new app in mobiGlas that will allow you to customize hangars and eventually more
    • Ported hangars and flair objects over to using new Item System 2.0 so you can access specific ‘ports’ around your hangar and place things wherever you want
    • This will allow for customization of ship loadouts as well
    • Fleshing out a design for using this app in other locations as well like Crusader map
  • Ship team: Chris Smith is working on new/improved Hornet F7A for Squadron 42, currently in greybox phase
  • Josh Coons moving along on Drake Herald also in greybox
  • Both ships are coming along nicely
  • Ship animation team has had their hands in ships, including bug fixing for Starfarer, reviews on Hornet F7A, Herald, Caterpillar, Dragonfly and support for Idris
  • Also created some new animations for entering/exiting Freelancer ladder and put in place combat enter/exits for Aurora and Avenger
  • PU animation team wrapped up work on the Spaceship Showroom and Nightclub scene animations, now turning attention to helping out on Squadron 42
    • Will be creating background animations for performance capture scenes as well as implementing locomotion sets for various characters in the game
  • Lighting artist Emre Switzer has nearly finished final tweaks on Levski landing zone
    • Market area is properly lit and appropriately dingy

Quality Assurance

  • April almost entirely devoted to 2.4.0 testing
  • New features have been added that need to be documented and tested
  • Persistent Universe Specialist, Todd Raffray working closely with design team to document all new features that have been coming online for 2.4.0 and keeping the rest of the QA team updated on their expected behaviour
  • Jeff Daily working on expanding internal check lists to accommodate all new features as well as improving older check lists
  • Shopping alone added many new test cases to regular check lists, an example of a couple:
    • Does the shopping interface open and properly progress through each screen?
    • Is all the information on the shopping interface displaying correctly?
    • Are there typos?
  • Persistence changes existing features like hangar customization
    • In 2.4.0, players will now be able to choose what flair items they display and where
  • As a result, Robert Gaither has been working with Rob Reininger on setting up item ports throughout all hangars to allow you to decide on how you want to customize them
  • New ships! Reliant hangar ready status and Starfarer now been made Flight ready
    • Passes on both ships to ensure they’re performing as expected
  • Weapon projectiles will now properly transition across/inside local physics grids, you can now shoot from outside to inside of a ship(and vice versa)
  • Andrew Rexroth and Katarzyna Mierostawska continuing SQ42 testing along with their UK counterparts, been documenting all test cases necessary for when time some for the rest of the QA team to jump in
  • QA Information Specialist, Marissa Meissner recently promoted to QA Lead and has been training the latest new QA members, Jesse Mark, Don Allen, Scott McCrea, Bryce Benton and Brandon Crocker

Game Support

  • Wrapped up work on 2.3.1 at first part of the month, focused heavily on catching up on ticket work
  • Collaborated with Toast to establish the process for brand new Evocati Test Flight volunteer test program
    • This group(⅓ from top Issue Council and ⅔ from most active PTU testers) will act as a ‘pre-PTU’ group, playtesting builds to make sure they’re stable before it goes out to wider audience
    • 2.4.0 playtesting for this group early May
    • Those wanting to Evocati or PTU, it’s still possible. Just need to be an active member of the Issue Council and report/contribute on bugs
  • Opened up another Game Support Agent position in Austin

IT/Operations

  • Identified and tackled the latest choke point – memory
  • Having recently improved network and storage performance they realized they were spending a good amount of time on disk starving for memory
    • This was due to recent code change that came from engine team in order to improve build performance under certain conditions resulting in higher RAM consumption because performance gains are coming from caching more in to RAM
    • To account for this, increased RAM to those build machines by 4x
    • Will be increasing physical RAM across the entire build stack as a result and pursuing next performance gain they can find
  • IT has been busy in London setting up for a quick mocap shoot
  • Ground up project starting with empty rooms and setting up everything necessary
  • In addition to mocap equipment itself they deploy multiple support teams that need to be connected via an internal network as well as linked back into the home network in Manchester
  • Monitoring system, local storage, firewalls, backup systems, wifi, laptops must be built out to support any shoot, large or small
  • Must build the network out as an extension of their internal network so team members can get straight to work without having to worry about anything

LiveOp/DevOps

  • Ahmed has rewritten significant portions of deployment process
    • Advances in persistence bring significant changes to deployment process adding considerable complexity to the mix compared to previous publishes
    • Taken the opportunity to improves efficiencies where possible and improving error handling conditions
  • Two new engineers added to the team, Andy and Nate are joining as DevOps engineers
  • Andy is investigating new systems which he will use to enhance their big data reporting systems on the serve side
  • Nate is already working on a series of prototypes that they will use to more fully automate server side publishing system for the QA, PTU, and Live environments
  • Thanks to new test build system they’re seeing a much more stable build progress this month
    • Extended this to incorporate a test build step for risky code changes which helps to further stabilize the build pipeline and keeping builds moving more steadily to QA
  • Working with IT they’ve identified some more areas to improve overall build performance

FOUNDRY 42 UK

Environment Team

  • Added a few shopping locations to Port Olisar: adds personality and provides testbed for shopping mechanic; more locations to be added later
  • Nyx is in the final stages of polish and optimizations; it will be integrated into the terrain when the procedural tech is ready
  • Work on the SQ42 vertical slice level continues: final art pass and weekly playtests

F42 AD

  • Prospector took a lot of work to get it to where Chris was happy
  • Concept work on the new corvette, a small personal vehicle and another small ship
  • A lot of work on the Vanduul characters and the medical staff and UEE staff uniforms

VFX

  • Implementing Starfarer’s flight-ready effect: damage, interior states, thrusters, weapons
  • Created effects for two new ship weapons
  • Added effects to the new Crusader areas
  • Brought “high tech” effects into line with style guide
  • Cleaned up pipeline documentation to assist other disciplines judge a VFX artist’s progress on any given task

Graphics

  • Worked on the layered shader used for characters, weapons and props: can now define how each layer will wear/erode over time, improved performance, and can now be used on small props and very large weapons
  • Finalising “light linking system” which links light sources with light fittings so the brightness accurately reflects the intensity of the bulb and refactored for Object Container system
  • Working to integrate “tiled lighting” into the pipeline to replace the current “deferred lighting” solution
  • Implementing a new method of handling the ordering of transparent objects: involves better integration with post effects but requires some deep engine work
  • Finalising a new profiling system that breaks down performance costs per art team to help profile and optimize the game content

Engineering

  • Working on persistence: building on top of the underlying system implemented by the US studios
  • Implementing ways to acquire AUEC: players will be rewarded when they complete a mission; kill someone with a wanted level; find something interesting in a disused station
  • Implementing ways to spend AUEC: repair stations now charge for fuel and munitions, and you can now buy clothes and weapons on Crusader and ArcCorp
  • Working on a new “try on mode”:
    • Clothing: view a piece of clothing on your character before deciding to buy
    • Weapons: pick up a weapon and inspect it before parting with your credits
  • Changes to the hangar, ship loadout and flair combine several new pieces of tech from the Interaction Point system to the “Inner Thought” UI: place a ship and even change it’s loadout
  • Working on all the ongoing mechanics required for SQ42:
    • Good progress on the new landing system and landing on a moving carrier ship
    • Improving the conversation system with it working with Subsumption
    • Conversion work on weapons and implementing grenades
    • Ledge grabs, vaulting and mantling are progressing nicely

Quality Assurance

  • Worked tirelessly with the Dev team and the community to get 2.3.1 out to clear up some of the nasty frame rate issues and the server stability crashes
  • Began working on 2.4.0:
    • One of the biggest releases worked on since Crusader was created
    • First iteration of persistence made the game very unstable: versions completely failing to build and lots of frustrating tests
    • Changes to the Hostility system, the Missions system and the Cry Astro Stations
    • Shops, on both ArcCorp and Port Olisar, and Alpha UEC
    • A new flight ready ship
    • A new hangar ready ship
    • A completely overhauled Hangar system and the Port Modification App
  • Working very hard to find all the major issues so 2.4.0 can get pushed to the PTU

Audio

  • SQ42 work and the 2.4 release have been the main points of focus this month, but alongside that a big wedge of music production was undertaken
  • Sam Hall worked on the ship computer, optimizing an audio plug-in for Dataforge, adding triggers for airlock transitions
  • Ross Tregenza iterated on the music logic system and remains the point man for SQ42
  • Luke Hatton working on Aurora audio, tutorial hangar and Gladiator; added a ship health parameter in Wwise; added explosion variants
  • Darren Lambourne mastering in Munich, polishing the Starfarer, and working on the Argo
  • Matteo Cerquone added audio for Devastator Energy Shotgun; added sounds for interactive elements in SQ42; clean up old foley, and fixed bugs
  • Bob Rissolo and Phil Smallwood were preparing for dialogue/p-cap sessions and processing material for the design department; Phil also worked on social module tasks
  • Simon Price engaged in dialogue pipeline tools required for SQ42 and the PU
  • Graham Phillipson was fixing 2.4 audio bugs; refining automatic footstep generation code; added listeners to area shapes; code conversion; tech debt removal, improving maintainability; and fixed EVA audio bug
  • Stefan Rutherford has been re-organizing the Wwise project structure to underpin the mix pipeline; working on auto-footstep system; restructuring and redesigning guns; lead another gun recording session with ‘Audiobeast’ (aka Steve Whetman)
  • Jason Cobb provided technical backup on various aspects of the audio build pipeline; setting up mix states/snapshots as part of the wider mix foundational work
  • Pushed through a lot of music production work this month:
    • Another session with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra in Bratislava to upgrade a lot of the themes and incidental pieces for Star Citizen
    • Pedro Macedo Camacho, Ross Tregenza and Lee Banyard spent five days at Real World Studios with mix engineer Peter Fuchs and assistant engineer Patrick Phillips mixing source material into more finalized tracks
    • Darren Lambourne, Peter Fuchs and Christoph Stickel undertook the process of putting together a finalized CD master at CS Mastering, a mastering studio in Munich headed up by Christoph

Animations

  • Continued on with railgun animation sets
  • Fixing cover bugs
  • Worked on for 180 degree and 360 degree turn animations
  • Testing and feedback on tools
  • Further work to start/stop/step locomotion
  • New weapon look dev and feedback with the Art team
  • Recruited a new animator starting next month

Props

  • Big focus on ship components: wrapping up small coolers and starting work on power plants and quantum drives
  • Supporting persistence by supplying designers with assets for their new mission mechanics
  • Additional tech requests have been added into the layer blend material and can now be used for prop production
  • Supporting the shopping and clothing feature with a new “auto valet locker” system

Spaceships

  • Interior production of the Idris is coming to a close
  • Started look dev and prototyping of the crashed/damaged asset: should establish a grounded look and feel for damaged cap ships including the Javelin and Bengal
  • Procedures and techniques from the development of the Idris have moved production on the Javelin exterior forward and fed into the Bengal production; all ships now share a very specific SQ42 livery

Design

  • Back in Ealing shooting pickup scenes at Imaginarium: this has kept a lot of designers busy in terms of finalizing the play spaces and putting in stability fixes
  • Busy with the introduction of our first stage of persistence:
    • Crusader’s economy now includes new missions, bonuses, and scavengeables.
    • Cry-Astro now charge for their services
    • Respawning now has a cost attached
  • Starting the work on the solar system scale map (coming soon)
  • Continued to setup the various ships that are currently slated for release
  • The full component refactor is nearing completion
  • The new Balancing Team is getting a lot of focus

FOUNDRY 42 FRANKFURT

  • Chris has been in Frankfurt for some face to face time with different departments
  • Five new hires for various departments
  • A noticeable amount of people from the Engine Team are working on procedural tech

Weapons

  • Weapon Art Team finished texture work for two new weapons
  • Currently doing the level of detail work to get them ready for integration
  • The Apocalypse Arms Scourge Railgun had some polish work and being animated
  • New prototype weapon has been blocked out
  • A number of other weapons are currently in concept hopefully will be able to show images next month

Engine Code

  • A new faster rendering path is being implemented to support large amounts of objects (50.000) this allows the engine to show more items
  • The JobManager internal code was given a bug pass and should now run as expected
  • Streaming texture code was worked on. Object property groups have been accounted for as well as spatial properties
  • Vsync implementation was fixed (Fullscreen only for now see below for more)
  • During this investigation for Vsync windowed rendering was also looked at. For now Vsync only works in fullscreen but some experimental modes have been added
  • Use Windows Composite Manager to vysnc (r_vysnc 2) Comes with a performance hit
  • In house vsync (r_vysnc 3) Works but some tearing is possible as they are unable to control when windows draw data on screen
  • Disable Composite Manager (r_vsync 4). Only works on Windows 7
  • No longer possible to disable vsync on Windows 8 and above
  • No vysnc (r_vsync 0) and vsync on (r_vysnc 1) are still available

Build System

  • Bugfixing for 2.4
  • CopyBuild automation
  • VFX Artist tools
  • Feature testing for game-dev branch

Cinematics

  • Continued blocking out scenes
  • Working with Engineers on workflow and tools
  • Improving body and face animations
  • Some team members went to the U.K. office to go over scripts and sort out new scenes with the Writers and Level Designers

Quality Assurance

  • Lots of art testing!
  • Enhancing the Artist testing pipeline by testing Editor tools
  • Creating a new Art specific sanity checklist
  • More of these will be made for each specific department
  • Will start assisting with the revamp of the in-house tool used to assess test builds
  • Tested potential vsync fixes (see above)

AI

  • Focused work on developing Subsumption
  • Progress work implementing AI interactions
  • Lots of new tasks which are used by Designers to create behaviours were introduced
  • First pass on basic debugging functions
  • First pass on Action Areas which allow Designers to designate specific actions in certain areas
  • Some time was spent unifying movement speeds between players and NPCs
  • Spawn system was given some work to be more stable and allow Designers to populate the world as they need
  • Work on bug fixing and stability.

VFX

  • Has been working on new tech for particles
  • It will make animations smoother and has reduced the amount of frames needed
  • Fleshing out effects for the high-tech tech style

Tech Art

  • Assisting Animation Programmers research work with itemport animations.
  • Support weapons team progress
  • Moving forward with DCC pipeline with scene manager helps the Artists to make a complete animation scene in Maya

Design

  • Level Designers focusing on the Hurston landing zone layout as well as Nyx
  • Groundwork being laid out for the next batch of locations
  • System Design has continued work on AI switching from Modular Behaviour Trees to fully use Subsumption behaviours
  • Continued work on Inner Thought implementation and integration in other systems such as interactable objects,loot, the conversation system etc
  • Power distribution and Reputation systems have continued work and received an overhaul
  • FPS suit is receiving a major rework due to defenses changes on foot

BHVR

Engineering

  • A good portion of resources was poured in AR and mobiGlas.
    • Networked transactions received work to make sure duplicate purchases in multi-crew ships at Cry-Astro doesn’t happen.

Design

  • Continued to set up shops on Area 18 and Port Olisar.
  • Enabled the Revel and York hangar to support the new Port modification system to enable moving around hangar flair and decorations.
  • Next month the studio will begin work on a new environment and level design.

Art

  • Spruced up Port Olisar in various areas such as dressing and larger landing pads
    • Also opened new areas for future releases
  • Worked on supporting the shopping mechanics for showcasing.
  • Levski received optimisations on many elements and will wrap up optimisations soon.

TURBULENT

Ship Stats

  • Completed design and started development on the new ship reference matrix

Multi-factor Authentication(MFA)

  • Adding a mobile authenticator app and will update the launcher to include MFA

Communication Platform

  • Prototype for the communication platform was received positively by CIG.
    • Working on chat module currently and then forum module after. Will be a few months away from beta.

Ship Happens

  • Featured Big Benny’s April fools reliant.
  • Free fly event happened accompanied with a tax day sale.
    • Prospector concept sale also went live near the end of the month.
  • The sale also featured the Shubin recruitment page where the best 5 submission will receive an RSI Orion Mining ship.

Sales

  • Track jacket bundle sale featured jacket, deck of cards, and a mousepad.
  • New Anvil Aerospace mousepads were on sale early on in the month.
    • Fabric manufacture patches were on sale at the end of the month.

COMMUNITY

April Fools

  • Three days before April fools day they had literally nothing planned until Disco took an idea that he thought was outlandish to Ben to talk him out of it, except Ben said, “Lets do it!”.
  • With the help of Jeremiah Lee, Gaige Hallman, and Elwin Bachiller they were able to finish up some side projects they had in their space time and Turblent coded some new tech for the menu that was used on the site which was also used for the Starfarer sale later on.

Broadcasts

  • The regular shows, 10 For series, Around the ‘Verse, featured some great content with the monthly subscriber RTV featuring Composer Pedro Camacho and Senior Sound Designer Ross Tregenza talking mostly about music in Star Citizen
  • Dad Lando was on Reverse the ‘Verse this month! We all saw where the lando stare originated from and it was glorious.

Website

  • Communication platform is coming along well and the features will affect everything in time.
    • Exciting change is the Ship Status Page so that there’s less “where’s my spaceship?”.

You guys

  • Captain Richard and Farasalt displayed an amazing April fools gag with Farasalt pretending to be Captain Richard and nailed his mannerisms.
  • Deejay Knight became an official Twitch Partner!
  • SGT_Gamble has become well known in the community for bringing entire servers together with interesting emergent gameplay ideas

Looking Ahead

  • With the collaboration of the four studios and partners in Canada and elsewhere, the next few months will see the foundation of 2.4 that provides, built on and expanded in ways we haven’t seen yet. Every new tech online, every character, ship, landing zone brought to life, helps them create future ones even better than the last. Without the backers and support, this project wouldn’t be where it is today.

CanadianSyrup

Director of Transcripts

A polite Canadian who takes pride in making other peoples day brighter. He enjoys waffles with Maplesyrup, making delicious puns and striving for perfection in screaming at the T.V. during hockey games.