Welcome to the second State of the Game report! This report will cover the month of July!
Before we begin, a quick refresher, The Relay’s State of the Game report takes the largest and most meaningful updates we got from CIG over the past month, and puts them together in one place, with links and analysis. July is our first ‘on its own’ month. If you’re interested in what happened in the year up to this point, check out our first State of the Game report, Year to Date edition.
And now lets move on.
This was an interesting month. He Who Shall Not Be Named caused a ruckus. Ben Lesnick and Chris Roberts rebuffed said ruckus. Things started out awful quiet and slow at the beginning of the month, but the pace is picking up significantly heading into the biggest event in the last 6 months – GamesCom on August 7th.
The Star Marine updates offer tons of insight into the specific problems CIG is facing with the FPS module, and how they are coming along. They also serve as a bit of a “sorry, we will be more specific about what is wrong” update. So far we have seen quite a few issues go away with the big one being animations and syncing them across clients.
Dolvak: Personally I like technical updates like these the most. Sure art and design docs are cool but to me the real meat and potatoes of Star Citizen is the tech behind it and the specific solutions CIG has for problems they run into.
Erris: Really, I’m just happy they finally started doing these, and that they’ve kept one coming out every Friday. I was really disappointed when the reports originally didn’t materialize (after Chris Roberts said they would months ago), but now that they’re here, I’m a huge fan. I actually hope they do something like this for other modules, when the modules get close to release. It’s a bit more in-depth look at the work they’re doing, and the reasons it’s not getting to us, and I love the information it provides.
Nehkara: Netcode and animations. Persistent problems thus far but these are areas where it’s important to get things properly fixed so that the rest of the game can rely on the solid groundwork done early on. Animations are awaiting a new character rig from Foundry 42 Germany which is coming along soon and will fix some issues, especially with ragdoll on death. Netcode seems to be going well, with the kinks being methodically ironed out of the new networking backend/Generic Instance Manager. Overall, I enjoy the updates and I think they’re important to be doing. As Erris mentioned, I hope we see these continue with future modules. I’m also frustrated as I’m sure many of you are… Gold Horizon looks incredible and I desperately want to experience it first hand. Hopefully GamesCom will distract me! :D
Star Citizen Alpha 1.1.5 was exciting both in the PTU and in its live release. Just a few of the things it added are the Merlin and the Scythe as flyable ships, a raft of new optimizations to the GIM (General Instance Manager – optimizations have allowed the player capacity in Arena Commander to go from 8 to 16), a new pass at flight model numbers, which resulted in a longer time-to-kill, a new launcher (only appeared in testing on the PTU, but dramatically increased patch speeds), and the new Phoenix Dynamic Environment system, which allows CIG to rapidly iterate on patches (three PTU versions, a Live patch, and a hotfix patch in 10 days).
Erris: While I still haven’t had any time to actually get in to 1.1.5 to feel the difference in flight, or to try out the Merlin that comes as a loaner from my Carrack, I’m very excited by all the improvements they’ve made in this patch. I mean, just looking at the description up there, patch 1.1.5 was HUGE.
Nehkara: 1.1.5 is a big patch, for lots of reasons. The GIM will carry us through right to the PU and although I know there will likely be lots of tweaks to it, it’s cool to have that tech now so it can be thoroughly put through its paces. The longer TTK is huge. Longer TTK is essential for the PU to add more meaning to things like repair, search and rescue, pilot skill, and much more including your attachment to your ship. In addition, it’s really neat to see the effects of the Phoenix Dynamic Environment system, allowing CIG to iterate so much faster and provide rapid patches. It was so nice to have a patch again!
Dolvak: With 1.1.5 the new TTK and flight mechanics make their first appearance. I don’t have much to say but the Merlin is my new favorite ship to fly. The agility it has over even an M50 is pretty crazy and might actually need some tweeking. We also got our first taste of the new launcher and so far is has been fantastic.
Chris Roberts has returned to LA from Manchester and the Squadron 42 performance capture shoot which lasted 4 months. Upon his return, Chris sat down with Ben Lesnick to discuss recent community concerns about Star Citizen in an epic ~85 minute episode of 10 for the chairman (dubbed Ben for the Chairman). This was accompanied by a Letter from the Chairman which discussed Squadron 42, Star Marine, and Open Development.
Nehkara: It was really great to hear from Chris again. Hearing and reading him discussing Star Citizen really put me at ease, as it often does. The community was frankly in a bit of a rough state prior to this, largely due to a lack of releases and the jimmy rustling of He Who Shall Not Be Named. In my mind, and subjectively from what I’ve seen in the community, Ben for the Chairman did a world of good for the community as a whole.
Erris: Ben for the Chairman took us a combined effort of something like 10 man hours to transcribe. It was a herculean effort, and also some of the most fun I’ve had with The Relay so far. Just hearing from Chris again was that awesome. The content of it was great too, really informative, answered a lot of the questions and concerns that had come up in the community with Chris away. Excellent show all around.
Dolvak: After the long absence of Chris it’s good to see him back in full force. It was great to have all this new info at one time but I prefer it more spread out. When we get a big info dump like this it’s easy to miss small things we would normally pick up on.
Game Commander essentially shows Chris Roberts going about his work. The pilot episode featured CR fixing a bug with the itemport system that he created. It was causing items attached to ports inside ships to only have physics geometry on the global physics grid and not the local physics grid inside the ship. This manifested, for example, with the player glitching out of the ship when trying to sit down in the pilot’s chair on a Retaliator.
Nehkara: Once again it was great to see Chris. This is a great new show, I definitely enjoyed it and I’m excited that the local physics grids are now working as it means that yet another hurdle to Arena Commander 2.0 has fallen! We heard on RtV 57 that they’re already working on the next episode – I’m eager to see it!
Dolvak: I love the intro to Game Commander. CIG knows where their fan base came from and it’s cool to see a throwback. It was great to see some of the behind the scenes work on the local physics grids and more of an in depth explanation of how they work.
Erris: Time for the bad part of this segment, where I admit to silly things. I have not actually had time to watch Game Commander yet. I’ve heard what it entails and I’m really glad it exists, but… time! I need more of it!
Seriously though, anything to get Chris more visible, especially now, is going to be great. I don’t expect this to be a regular segment by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure every episode they can get up will be interesting and worthwhile.
Wwise integration is complete! At long last the conversion from FMOD has reached its conclusion. This update discussed how the update was done, the hurdles the audio team faced, and also gave a bunch of fantastic examples of audio samples from the game including the Quantum Drive.
Nehkara: This is another significant one. A big piece of the Star Citizen puzzle. The audio team has been working long and hard at this conversion. Wwise is a much more flexible and powerful audio engine than FMOD so it is definitely a worthy task. Hopefully they get the bugs worked out of the system soon and free up the audio team to continue creating tons more sounds for the upcoming modules!
Erris: This to me is sort of a sleeper hit. At first, it’s not something you’d think is that important. But then you start hearing some of the audio they’re able to get going with Wwise and… yeah. I’m excited.
Dolvak: I was slightly underwhelmed by everything until they demoed the Q drive audio. I am now super hyped for what Wwise is going to bring and I plan on investing some money on some really good speakers before the game comes out.
1.1.6 includes changes/tuning for game modes, including special attention to Vanduul Swarm. More significantly it will see the new launcher come to the live version of Star Citizen. This launcher is based on torrent technology and is much faster and better built. It is a significant part of the evolution that the launcher will go through over the next several months.
Nehkara: A present for backers! Much faster launcher. I’m also really excited for the changes to Vanduul Swarm as it is my most-played game mode. It is also nice to see how fast CIG is now able to iterate on patches with the new Phoenix Dynamic Environment system.
Dolvak: As I already said the new launcher is fantastic. I am pretty excited about the AI changes coming to Vanduul Swarm. Here is hoping they will start working together instead of the current dumb AI we have now.
Erris: Again, I haven’t played the 1.1.6 PTU. I haven’t even played 1.1.5, computer’s just not good enough to play AC right now, but the promise of a better launcher and more frequent patches? That’s a combination that’s too good to pass up. I’m really excited that CIG are starting to optimize some of the game’s necessities, such as the launcher.
And that’s it for this month’s State of the Game report! Tune in again next month, on the first Tuesday of the month, for another State of the Game.