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December Monthly Report Summary Written Friday 15th of January 2016 at 08:22am by Erris

Hello Citizens! It’s December! Another month, another monthly report, summarized below by Shiver and yours truly! December, 2015. The close of an excellent year for Star Citizen, and what a close it is. December’s Monthly...

Hello Citizens! It’s December!

Another month, another monthly report, summarized below by Shiver and yours truly!

December, 2015. The close of an excellent year for Star Citizen, and what a close it is. December’s Monthly Report brings us, well, it brings us a lot. You’ll see. Here we go!


 Los Angeles:

Engineering:

  • Worked on stability for 2.0
  • Working on ‘ItemSystem 2.0, allowing greater control of itemization on the back-end
  • Working on disabled states from EMP blasts / weapons
  • Completed ‘Loadout Editor’, a tool which will allow designers greater control of ship loadouts.
  • Work continues on fine-tuning EVA

Design:

  • Completed Xi’An Scout white-box, and MISC Reliant technical grey-box
  • Work continues on ship balance, taking player feedback into account
  • First pass on ‘Salvage’ mechanic has been completed
  • Lots of work continues on preparing characters and clothing for the Shopping release.

Takeaway:

A great month from LA, they seem mainly focused on creating stability and balance for 2.0, and on getting us more ships, and more character customization, as quickly as possible. The note that the Salvage mechanic has been completed is extremely interesting, and we can’t help but hope that further passes to it are iterated on quickly, and that it makes it into game as soon as possible.


 CIG Austin:

Persistent Universe Team:

  • Chris Smith and Josh Coons finished the Constellation rework, and have begun work on the Xi’An Scout, with the aim of completing it this month.
  • Work has continued on the Nyx-Levski landing zone art. The tech shown off in the Pupil to Planet demo introduces new challenges; art team now have to consider what landing zones look like from the ground and from space.
  • Planets will eventually rotate and have full day / night cycles.
  • There are now three categories of landing zones: Hero, Small Sandbox, and Space Station. Hurston and Crusader are ‘Hero’ landing zones, Sherman and Odyssa are Small zones, and mining outposts and research stations are Space Stations.
  • Austin are working on getting more landing zones done more quickly as well.
  • Animation continues to integrate data captured into the PU. Medical Team animations are nearly complete, Nightclub animations not far behind. Next they will be working on a system to allow users some control over animations, i.e. choosing your ‘idle’ animation at character creation.
  • More work went into the ‘Party’ system for 2.0, with more work still to come.
  • More work was completed on Persistence, with a renewed focus on the feature to come in 2016.

Live Operations:

QA: 

  • Focused on Alpha 2.0 and Alpha 2.1
  • During the shortened month, deployed 14 2.0 builds, and 4 2.1 builds.
  • Lots of work continues to test things like AI, server bottle-necks, server and client crashes, etc…
  • Working on increasing accuracy of patch and build notes.

Game Support:

  • PTU is not about early access, it’s about ironing out issues to create a stable enough build for the build to go public.
  • Players are graded for PTU access based on Issue Council Participation and PTU participation.

IT Operation:

  • December focused on software licence renewals, user account audits, and internal systems maintenance.
  • Also provided network and storage optimizations to improve build system performance, and deliver more builds per day.

Live Ops:

  • Created duplicate publishing environments to speed the rate at which builds could be created and pushed live.
  • By creating dual publishing environments, Live Ops was able to reduce the publish window completely by simply flipping load balancers from one environment to another.
  • Live Ops also created more internal metrics and reporting tools, to increase testing and reporting abilities.

Takeaway:

Austin has been hard at work giving more life to the game. The PU team continues to flesh out landing zones, and work on giving us more landing zones, while things like animations and performance improve constantly.


Foundry 42 UK:

VFX:

  • Focused on flight-ready passes for the Freelancer and Vanguard.
  • Continued to polish ambient environmental effects for Crusader.
  • Performed a post 2.0 release ‘data cleanup’, removing and re-organizing particle libraries to improve efficiency.

Props:

  • Finished the props work on the Casaba outlet. The store is now complete, waiting only on clothing.
  • Working on finishing defining the sub-component list.
  • Working on organizing to create better efficiency when creating props, to be able to create more props more quickly and fill out environments better.

Ships:

  • Finished up the Freelancer for 2.1 release.
  • Completing final art for Sabre and Vanguard
  • Starfarer interior and exterior are well under-way, looking to release later this year.

Concepts:

  • The Javelin has had a ‘nip and tuck’ to bring it more in line with Aegis’ rustic aesthetic.
  • Work continues on concept art for props, and defining design language for outsourcing.
  • Additional pods worked into the ARGO RUV, needed for SQ42, concept art for the Xi’An Scout has completed, and work continues on Shubin’s interior.

Characters:

  • Two-man team is getting grips on the work needed, and the new Character pipeline.

In-Game Animation:

  • Continuing to push FPS AI and player mechanics. Cover animation is ongoing.
  • Improvements also being made to unarmed locomotion.

Design:

  • Working on a more simplified HUD design, while still incorporating ‘all the bells and whistles’
  • Working on a functional EVA HUD.
  • Working on syncing with the ship-release schedule, to make sure gameplay elements needed are present when ships, such as cargo haulers, launch.
  • Tech Design team has grown, meaning more work on ships done in less time.
  • Looking into making balance passes more forward-looking than reactive.
  • Transitioning levels into the large-world system.

Graphics:

  • Lighting shaders have improved, and are now better looking, and faster, than the standard CryEngine shaders.
  • Unseen rooms get ‘culled’ more accurately now, increasing performance.
  • LOD system has been overhauled to improve performance
  • Improved tools for generating LOD’s on large levels.
  • Focusing now on planning for 2016 and SQ42 features such as HDR Bloom, lens flares, eye adaptation.
  • Will revamp some shaders, such as glass shaders for helmets.
  • Will get back into work on volumetric clouds as well.

Environments:

  • Working on bug fixes and performance improvements for Crusader.

Engineering:

  • Alpha 2.0!
  • Lots of work on the physicalized EVA system, turning it into a proper physics simulation, like for ships.

QA:

  • Worked on getting 2.1 patches live before Christmas eve.

Audio:

  • Lots of support for Freelancer and Vanguard audio
  • Testing of 2.0, EVA, FPS systems, and music system, planning out battle-chatter, etc…
  • Work on UI Audio, and dialogue, and planning for orchestral sessions to happen early this year.
  • Also work progressed on the dynamic music system.

Takeaway:

Lots of F42 UK’s December work seemed focused on giving us two things: the Freelancer, and the Vanguard. So it was excellent work. It also sounds like they’re doing a lot of preparation in order to increase productivity in the new year, which is also a great thing.


Foundry 42 Frankfurt – Shiver:

Engine:

  • In December the Frankfurt office showed off the Procedural Tech it had been working on in the form of the Pupil to Planet video.
  • Marco, Carsten and Pascal worked on the tech and environment art for it with Hannes adding final touches and camera work. Support wasn’t just from the Frankfurt office but came from all over including Sean Tracey and Chris Bolte to name but two.
  • The character featured in the Pupil to Planet video is named Joachim Steiger.
  • The planetoid featured in the video has a 1000km diameter.
  • Work for the base tech started in September.
  • The procedural tech is assisted by the 64 bit positioning, inverted depth buffers, camera relative rendering and the Zone System.
  • Work will continue on the procedural tech improving planet generation and visuals, eventually finding its way into the PTU for testing.

Engine:

  • As well as assisting work with the procedural tech, the team supported different aspects of the PTU releases.
  • Work is also continuing on the public crash handler. It will soon be able to gather any relevant data related to a client crash which will assist  in future releases.
  • The internal crash handler and callstack collector service of the bug reporter has been totally overhauled to help catch runtime errors.

Cinematics:

  • The team is completing the full breakdown of every scene in SQ42’s script.
  • Transitions from cinematic moments to characters needs to be as smooth as possible. So planning work on how to best handle this and NPC conversation interruptions as it has a massive amount of source material.
  • Cinematics is also starting preliminary work on a scene with Admiral Bishop viewing battle damage on a planet and a first scene with Captain Maclaren
  • Cinematic environment work has finished geometry for the Retribution Skydock.
  • Work has started on Corvo ruins scene with R&D doing work on terrain backgrounds for mountains and craters.

Design

  • System designers are currently working on designs for cargo and looting systems.
  • The clarification this work will provide a guide of where the systems need to be taken and how they will be implemented in game.
  • This will also help in Crusader so players can loot items, move them around and sell them where applicable.
  • The overall goal of this is to implement a first draft of the entire system so in the future work will not have to be done from scratch every time.
  • System and level designers are working together with programmers to create a mission generation system that is modular and offer flexible variation in gameplay
  • It’s very early days on that system but hopes are to get into Crusader ASAP
  • The system aims to generate missions based on live events and goings on in the baby PU
  • Level designers are continuing work on the Power Management System prototype that was started last month

Tech Art

  • The team has on going work with other studios artists on the bigger DCC pipeline.
  • December saw the completion of the puppet from an animation perspective.
  • Current work is on finalising in game internal rig setups.
  • Support work for various department R&D’s and bug fixing is part of the daily routine.

QA

  • On-going bug hunting
  • Franceso Di Mizio assisted development on automated testing tools. This consisted of creating an automated test level with a timed demo. The goal is to see if this will lead to further automated testing long term.

Weapons

  • The Weapon Art Team has finished work on the Apocalypse Arms Revenant Ballistic Gatling. This is the first weapon to use the new Multi-Layer Shader.
  • This work has been done in conjunction with graphics programmers in the UK who have learned a lot and also identified issues to improve the shader in the future.

Environment Art

  • The team has been working on Shubin Mining Station. It is heavily featured in the SQ42 campaign and will be different among other stations as it’s very high tech.
  • The structure is massive. Artists have found it challenging but rewarding.
  • you will be able to fly around the entire station as well as land and explore it on foot.

Takeaway:

Frankfurt have been an exceptional addition to the CIG team this past year. The procedural teach is in it’s infancy and already creating entire planets and seamless landing transitions. Work on this will add more depth to the system including atmospheric effects.

A lot of work is going into crash reports and automating testing. This will help long term with gathering data, identifying issues and then making future releases more stable.

Early footsteps into the looting, inventory and persistence are being made. With a stable framework for cargo/looting being implemented so future iterations are not starting from the ground up. Game mechanic implementation will be fairly regular with changes and iterations being able to be done at a swifter pace.

Power Management is still being worked on and looks to be soon tested on large systems this would add an incredible dynamic to the way components function.

The first weapon using Multi-Layered Shader tech has been rolled out. The teams involved have not only produced the first component that will show more detailed and dynamic damage but also have given feedback on how to improve the system, this will add even more detail to the already highly detailed models.

Work on Shubin seems to be at a polish level with Environment Art adding a personality and theme to the station to help the player be truly immersed in the game world.


BHVR:

Design:

  • Continued setting up shops and items for Casaba and other current stores.
  • Added new flair objects to the game.
  • Cooked 3.5 pounds of Canadian Bacon.

Art:

  • Worked on optimizing geometry in Levski
  • More flairs completed, and planning for flairs in 2016 done.
  • Background and static props finished for Casaba, moving on to props for industrial / mining planets.

Engineering:

  • Worked on fixing up the HoloTable for 2.1
  • Working on a full AR shopping experience for future releases.

Turbulent:

  • Launched the pledge buy-back feature, accessible via My Hangar.
  • Completed work on a new Org Invite email template.
  • In the design phase of a new subscription campaign for the site.
  • Ran multiple ship sales, including the Reliant variants.

 

And that’s all for the monthly report, and all for 2015! Here’s to a great 2016.

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See you all in the ‘Verse!

Erris

Founder

Erris is Canadian. He does some random things for Relay, no-one really knows what, but still they're stuck with him. He’s also written one Young Adult novel that he can’t stand, which can be found here.

You can find him on Twitter too, if you want.