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November Monthly Report Summary Written Thursday 17th of December 2015 at 10:31pm by Nehkara

Citizens!  Check here for a summary of the November monthly report! Monthly Studio Report – November 2015 Summary by By Shiver and Sunjammer   CIG Los Angeles Engineering – Implementing the various effects EMP will have...

Citizens!  Check here for a summary of the November monthly report!

Monthly Studio Report – November 2015

Summary by By Shiver and Sunjammer

 

CIG Los Angeles

Engineering

– Implementing the various effects EMP will have on its targets.

– Working on reducing sever crashes.

– Integrating the new ItemSystem 2.0 into the development branch code branches; working with other coders on ItemSystem 2.0.

Design

– Responsible for finishing the Constellation tech setup and getting it out to backers in 2.0.

– Retro-fitted 300 series, M50, Avenger, and Gladius with the new component system.

– Designing the Salvage mechanic; progressing the Repair mechanic with the Crucible.

– Fine-tuning how EMP weapons will affect targets: screen corruption to HUD, distortion damage to pipes, etc.

Art

– Creating concepts for a variety of uniforms and armour in the universe.

– Designing a unique style for the UEE Marines from the Light Armor to Medium Armor and the look and feel of the Marine under suit.

– Creating the game assets for Mark Hamill’s Steve “Old Man” Colton’s space suit.

– Helped create style guides for the vehicle manufacturers.

– Completed the elegant concepts for the Archimedes.

– Grey-boxing the MISC Reliant: completed modelling the cockpit, cargo area, and exterior tail.

– Drake Caterpillar has re-entered the concept stages for further exploration to help catapult it into production.

Writing

– Combing through the old Galactic Guides to bring them more in line with the Starmap.

– Fleshing out the landing zone locations as well as the characters who inhabit them.

– Determining initial styles and manufacturers to make the clothing system feel robust, versatile, and expandable.

– Finished a complete review of all the SQ42 sequences from Chris’ selects sessions last month to confirm what’s been shot and edited.

– Playtesting the 2.0 PTU demo which has been really amazing to see come to life.
 

CIG Austin

Persistent Universe Team

– Working on performance optimization for the Crusader map for release in 2.0.

– Levski landing zone that BHVR has been working on is now is in its Final Art Polish phase and has been given a first pass on VFX and lighting.

– Casaba Outlet clothing shop received a polish pass and its lighting is now wrapped up.

– Helping develop concepts for the [REDACTED] environment for Squadron 42.

– Developing a gigantic Star Map poster to be included in physical and digital version of game packages.

– Retargeting male animations to the female skeleton in preparation for her release: she can now enter, exit, and interact with all of our ships; her locomotion set is running smoothly except for a few hiccups that need ironing out.

– Implementing Medical Unit and Nightclub animations for the NPC AI release.

– Tackled the character interaction animations for Avenger variants and are focused on the Vanguard, Freelancer, and Xi’an Scout.

– Created blueprint documents for the shops on Levski (including the bazaar area); added the items they will sell to the Shop Inventory Matrix; identified the props, characters, and gameplay functionality required; currently mapping out a plan of action for these assets and features.

– Trying to flesh out the “in-between” space amongst the major hubs of Hurston, MicroTech, Crusader, and ArcCorp.

– Design discussions on Shopping, Character Customization, Persistence, Remote Storage, Jump Point travel, Exploration, and Mission Types.

– Wrapped up work on the new Main Menu: added Crusader as an option.

– Fixing bugs in the Party System to make it as clean as possible for the next release.

– Continuing to work on Persistence: the first goal is to get Character Customization and Shopping persisting across gameplay sessions.

QA

– Conducted daily SC Alpha 2.0 playtests and promptly reported all issues to production; able to witness the game slowly evolving into a very fun experience.

– A big thank you to the dedicated backers for suffering through the issues to help us test the initial PTU deployment: testing on the PTU is not be for the faint of heart nor for the selfish of spirit, it is participatory QA and a PTU tester’s job is to help us identify and nail down problems that are keeping the release from the rest of the community.

– Produced a comprehensive report comparing each ship’s flight behaviour in SC Alpha 1.3 and 2.0 enabling Technical Designers to tune flight behaviour for SC Alpha 2.0.

– Testing the new IFCS modes and providing ship balance feedback.

– Continuing to work very closely with Engineering on Automated Testing: now able to fully automate various editor tests.

– Monitoring game servers and back end services; providing daily reports and metrics to producers and engineers that were integral to the effort to stabilize the servers during the deployment of SC Alpha 2.0 to the PTU.

– Testing of the party system, chat system, and Area18; ensuring all FPS related features and issues are continually tested; compiling patch notes and known issues, verifying each reported fix and documenting best practices.

– Conducted workshops with the LA designers and engineers to ensure they know how to obtain and play the latest builds.

Game Support

– Chris Danks has started and is hard at work; excited to have a presence in both Europe and in North America and expanded the hours of coverage for players.

– Helped construct the mechanisms that allow players to test and contribute back to the game’s development.

– Set up a special PTU Issue Council and Discord chat server so that testers can chat and test together.

– Collecting information to push notifications and updates to the forums, Reddit, and Discord.

IT/Operations

– Preparing the new LA office: overseeing the network wiring installations; coordinating with contractors; ensuring the server room meets required standards for fire safety, physical security and access controls; etc.

– Handled most of the system tear down and packing, as well as setting up and testing every single developer workstation in the new location.

– Migrated back end infrastructure; provided network programming support remotely; changed all the firewalls and tunnels; installed network upgrades and restored secure communications between studios.

– Included several other upgrades for the team including greatly improved storage performance, wireless networking, and a revamped phone system.

Live Ops

– Spent considerable time improving publishing efficiency and reducing downtimes in the PTU.

– Achieved reduced deployment times, numerous back-to-back publishes, and dramatic improvements in client and server stability all based largely on help from PTU testers and new reporting stats.

– Significantly increased the number of servers supporting the PTU for load testing: the information provided will lead to a more predictable publishing cycle on the production servers.

 

Foundry 42 UK

Animation

– Working to get the locomotion sets, look poses, stop starts, reloads, weapon select and deselects in shape for the FPS portion of the game.

Graphics

– Lots of behind the scenes work to improve the underlying tech to make the 2.0 release possible.

– Crunching dozens of bugs including Crossfire/SLI issues, light and LOD ‘popping’, shadow ‘peter panning’ and shadow ‘acne’.

– Helped the rest of the studio diagnose and fix (mostly CPU related) performance issues caused by the scale of the map and the amount of content.

– Working with the game and core-tech teams on a few bigger improvements that will greatly increase the performance in later releases.

– Intending to produce a quick guide on exactly how to tweaking the user.cfg file settings for the best visuals or performance for a later release.

Engineering

– Beavering away on the 2.0 live release: trying to get stability sorted, followed by performance, and then general bug fixing.

– Resolved an issue where spawning in the big ships would immediately cause everybody to disconnect with a network error because CryEngine assumes everything is loaded at the start of a level and doesn’t expect entities to be spawned in dynamically.

– Working on new applications for MobiGlas: the mission viewer allows you to track and manage missions and their objectives; and a system to track all the information you’ve collected on your travels.

– Ongoing optimisation for UI, as it can get surprisingly expensive, especially when they’ve been initially prototyped and implemented in ActionScript.

– Continuing to work on the changes for the new component system, which will help make the update of the entities more efficient.

QA

– Working hard to get the next iteration of Star Citizen to the public: 2.0 to the PTU and eventually to Live.

– 2.0 going to the PTU has been the first proper opportunity to gauge the effectiveness of the Issue Council heading and it’s long term use.

– Working with the network engineers at F42 to track down the server crashes.

– Entering and reproducing all of the client crashes encountered.

– The way 2.0 has come together clearly informs all future testing of Star Citizen in a way Arena Commander never could; not only is 2.0.0 a taster of what’s to come for the Star Citizen community, it’s a taster for the QA team and the challenges ahead.

Art

– PC Gamer and GameStar magazine feature a collaborative effort and given insight into areas to figure out with the high fidelity characters.

– Concept work for the Freelancer interior, rocket launchers, and method of entry and exit.

– Additional concept work on the Shubin mining facility for SQ42 story line areas.

– Concept work to add personality to Crusader’s Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie space stations

– Worked on ‘low tech’ area props and how to align them with the new art pipeline.

Environment

– Polishing and optimising the Crusader environment for 2.0: optimising per asset LOD chain, vis areas setup, lighting, etc.

– Fixing plenty of visuals bugs to improve the user experience as much as possibly.

– Beginning to look into the next environments which will be put into production.

VFX

– Polishing and optimising all effects for 2.0.

– Discovered and fixed several issues by testing as VFX artists do: deliberately crashing ships, shooting each other, running around inside burning ships, Quantum Travelling in obscure locations, flying towards incoming fire, etc.

– Paying close attention to all the PTU footage has been really useful in helping spot any issues and choose some key effects to improve, for example, the laser impact sparks.

– Made a start on effects for a couple of ships that are due to be flight-ready in the near future: interior and exterior damage, all ship items, etc.

– Looking at another couple of environments that will be due an VFX pass in the near future.

Characters

– Making some top notch characters and looking forward to revealing more as they progress.

Props

– Finalising ship component pipeline: still some polish to do but the tests are looking good.

Ships

– Freelancer is in the middle of a complete makeover to bring the ship up to current tech and standards and will be Flight Ready very soon.

– Starfarer is making great progress towards being Hangar Ready.

– Vanguard is in its final production cycles to being Flight Ready.

– Sabre is also approaching Hangar Ready while its cockpit has been taken to final so all other departments can work on it.

Design

– Made a ton of progress on fixing up some critical blocking issues that have hampered progress on SQ42.

– Moving ahead at pace on both the Live build and SQ42: still loads of fixup, balancing and additional design to implement in future releases but it’s starting to feels like a solid platform.

– Put the SQ42 game-world map into the new Large World system for the first time: locations are no longer in isolation but part of the Odin system which really helps with placement and pacing for the campaign as a whole.

– The AI is coming along well in our test map and will really start to look incredible when the final animation sets begin to come in.

– Working with the engineers with regards to optimization to allow more life, be it AI or player, in the Live build: created a test map with a bunch of characters placed in Port Olisar going about their daily business, repairing things, interacting with vendors or just talking and it made a huge difference to the feel of the place.

Audio

– Working on Alpha 2.0: including three outlaw placeholder voice sets, sounds for the Port Olisar ship selector UI, black box beacon for Crusader, datapad interaction, Charlie Station’s internal sounds and dialogue, repair drone, audio log, and the Warlock’s EMP.

– Audio work for spaceflight notifications: planetary boundary notifications, fly by sounds, green zone notifications, etc.

– Continued the Aegis UI cockpit revamp and prepared to move on to other manufactures.

– Worked on audio for a number of ships: Vanguard, Constellation, Freelancer, Origin 300 series, and Avenger.

– Prototyping the sound of the ship’s power-plant, which will become crucial to defining a ship’s signature.

– Planning to provide a richer ambient soundscape within ships by having piping, computers, engine drones and damage all react from appropriate positions within the ship.

– Worked on the ‘back end’ includes setup for FPS battlechatter hooks, code for the chatter system, code for the music logic system and setup for ambient states.

– Worked on the interactive music system and the first plans for FPS & EVA music states.

– Refactored CryEngine’s Area Manager (handles for area-based audio) and integrated it into the Zone System: improved its area priority management logic and area geometry logic so it can scale much better for large worlds and should be easier to extend with new geometry types.

 

Foundry 42 DE

Cinematics

– The team has been finalising environmental art for the UEE MacArthur Skydock. Work is now moving on to Gillian Anderson’s character making use of their first headscan of her.

Engine Department

– Work has continued and the team has a deployed a new server plugin to drastically reduce build times and code analysis runs. Linux targets can now be built using Clang.

– Started to implement an automated crash collector on the PU and PTU.

– A lot of work done with CryPhysics to help ease the stiffness in character limbs when in zero-G.

Audio Code

– The CryEngine’s AreaManager responsible for ambient sounds and reverb has been rewritten to be integrated with the Zone System, the new AreaManager should be able to scale much better for the large worlds.

Animation Code

– A lot of time has been spent polishing and refactoring the first and third person aiming animations and poses.

– As that work progressed, improvements to the method for eye stabilization and aiming was given attention. When using a scope or ironsights, your characters right eye is perfectly aligned with the weapon.

– This same system can be used in zero-g combat to allow 360 degree aiming but still able to focus on a stationary target.

– Added an improved version of procedural weapon sway and weapon inertia. The goal is to have a unified system so that animations in third person match with first.

Tech Art

– Work has been concentrated on transferring animations data; cleaned and uncleaned to their Maya DCC and Maya puppet.

– Tools are being created and designed to make animations work more efficient.

– Character pipeline is being worked on that should be suitable for other departments.

Build

– Feature testing being automated has issues that still need to be worked out but most of the work is done.

– Chris Speak, Senior QA, has put together a simple feature test map.

– Asset optimisation continues. The idea is to break larger PAK’s up into smaller ones that can be assigned to multiple programs for unpacking leading to their own paker.

AI

– Lots of progress for FPS AI this month.

– Focus has been on the first FPS combat scenario, developing behaviours of the first enemy.

– Enemies can make use of cover and are on the way to being situationally aware.

– Work has started on helping NPC characters not walk into each other and objects. There will be more research needed, to decide what is appropriate in certain situations.

– Continued work on NPC as ship crew. Work on specific crew members for specific seats, which will help lead into NPC crewing a player controlled ship.

– Ongoing work with Moon Collider on spaceships formation, systemic take-off/landing, behavior improvement as well as optimisation and improvements.

Design

– In depth work on the Power Distribution System for ships and stations. This includes work on the technical side to systems in game to deliver power.

– Life support systems have also been looked at. Goals include environmental hazards, like depressurisation, toxic gas/atmosphere etc and how these will affect your character and gameplay.

– FPS inventory management has been given a concentrated effort. How will your inventory work, how will you loot etc have all been looked into and design work initiated.

– Todd has been writing up FPS and ship weapons working in conjunction with Toby the Lead Weapon Artist to keep designs in universe and to manufacturers guidelines.

– Prototyping modular environments to enable the procedurally generated system to build satellites and stations.

– Level design has been prototyping a basic version of the Power Distribution System and components. Objects like consoles, lights etc are being prototyped now to expose any flaws or bugs before work continues.

– Design and Level departments have been busy conducting job interviews and are hiring more people.

VFX

– The team worked with Coding on the EMP effect for the Avenger.

Weapons

– Work has begun on a new size four ballistic gatling weapon from Apocalypse Arms.

– First weapon to use multi layered shaders and will be the gold standard for weapons going forward.

 

Moon Collider

– Added a general purpose ship formations system that allows designers to define a variety of patterns, simply tell ships to join one and the AI does the rest: one ship is designated as leader, the formations system calculates the ideal position for each following ship as an offset from the leader and each ship attempts to maintain position but can break formation to avoid collisions.

– Added the ability to trigger events when a ship reaches a certain point on a spline: it provides designers better control over scripted sequences but it can also be really useful in other places such as dogfighting.

– Made improvements to the Inspector debugging tool, with a view to streamlining the iterative development workflow for AI behaviours: provided better tracking of the user was doing previously when they return after making a change; and made it easier to find the parts of behaviour trees that are currently executing by zooming into the active part.
 

BHVR

Design

– Wrapped up the integration of the Million Mile High Club for release: polished the experience and fixed a few bugs.

– Finished the whitebox for Nyx, it’s shops and their location.

– Integrated a subscriber flair items to be released later this year and into next year; planning the next big collection of subscriber flair items.

– Ironed out the design for shopping and shopping interface in general with working with ATX and UK.

– Started overhauling the Revel & York hangar to welcome the Starfarer.

Art

– Spent quite a good amount of time polishing and debugging Million Mile High Club map.

– Made big advancements on the architectural assets and static props for a new clothing store map.

– Final art pass on Levski; optimising the map to ensure a solid performance when NPC and players are walking around.

Engineering

– Implementing final features and bug fixes for mobiGlas, the Elevator Terminal, Port Olisar’s Ship Spawning Terminal, and the Party System.

– Worked the UI Team to integrate additional features to the user interface for the Constellation and the Retaliator.

– Started to implement features planned for later releases: making the Holotable more user friendly (specific colour for items, always displaying the item’s name) and making it accessible from the multiplayer Crusader.

– Starting back on the shopping experience: supporting the design team with new game objects and functionality to setup a physical shop at any location; putting together a new version of the user interface; preparing to plug persistence into the system.
 

Turbulent

– Worked behind the scenes to provide the back-end support for the Anniversary Livestream and sale setting up ships and related cross-chassis upgrades in the store.

– Expanded our server capacity and continuously monitored the website traffic and activity during the month; adjusted capacity upward or downward as needed.

– Working on the Pledge Buy Back feature to enable backers to “un-melt” a pledge.

– Refreshing the look-and-feel of the Org invitations to give more prominence to the organization.

– Planning/designing the next components for Orgs 2.0: determining which module will deliver the most “bang for the buck” and laying out a roadmap for future modules.

– Refreshing the look-and-feel of the Subscribers section of the website: reorganizing the information to make it easier to discover exclusive benefits Subscribers earn.

– Looking into what we can do for future versions of the Starmap to add even more depth and interactivity.

Nehkara

Founder

Writer and inhabitant of the Star Citizen subreddit.