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Relay Replay: July 9 Written Sunday 9th of July 2017 at 12:00am by Erris

This week on the Replay...

Shiver and Erris do THE NEWS!

Studio Update - Wilmslow/Derby

Programming

  • Worked on the cockpit experience sprint with a goal of making sitting in the cockpit much more dynamic.

  • Integrating black out/red out effects into the actor status system which also features breathing and stamina.

  • Cockpit experience sprint also improved G-force animations and player hit reactions.

  • Work on close combat is coming along nicely, including work in knife based takedowns and unarmed takedowns.

  • Near to completing the conversion of old player and actor code to the new actor 2.0 or actor status system. This makes creating new player features much easier and improves the reliability of the code.

  • Testing the Delta Patcher with developers after it passed QAs approval. Early feedback is positive.

Graphics

  • Focus has been on the new render to texture system.

  • Hologram system will be used for mission briefings, comm calls, mobiGlas and other situations.

  • Render to texture will be used for all new UI.

  • Aiming to use render to texture for live video comm calls between players.

  • Exposure control system upgraded to better handle the contrasts between the darkness of space and bright objects such as moons, planets, etc.

  • New features added to the GPU particle system for 3.0 such as lighting, turbulence and anti-aliasing.

Concept

  • One focus has been on ship weapons - Amon & Reese laser cannons as well as Klaus & Werner laser repeaters.

  • In terms of personal weapons, they’ve created a heavy machine gun from Gemini with an iconic cooling system.

  • UK has added a 6th member to their Concept Team - this new addition is looking into Stanton locations and supporting needs on SQ42 locations.

Environment Art

  • Environment Art creating exciting prototypes for procedural cities - this will allow creating massive cities and landing zones.

  • Work continuing to flesh out tools to decorate space - one specific element of this is a new space dust shader allowing large volumes of space dust to be added to Stanton for 3.0.

  • Yela’s asteroid belt has been improved, in part via the new space dust shader.

  • All major outpost archetypes are finished - this includes branding for various companies and organizations.  Some unique varieties also includes such as emergency shelters, abandoned outposts and more.

  • Outpost clusters and exterior elements finalized.  This includes, among other things; relay stations.

  • Ongoing work to integrate outposts with planet surfaces - sand/dust/frost finalised along with decals adding extra dirt buildup.

  • Pre-polish and optimisation work on exterior of truck stop. Work focusing on the interiors.

  • Admin offices added to truck stop and other locations around Stanton for the purposes of mission completion.

  • Two new shops added to Grim Hex - independent ship parts trader and an old electronics store.

UI

  • Work continuing on new mobiGlas UI and associated apps for 3.0.

  • mobiGlas and kiosk UIs now using render to texture.

  • Multidisciplinary sprint ongoing for the Starmap app to implement remaining needed functionality for 3.0 and improve visuals.

  • Basic functionality of mission manager app completed.

  • Ongoing implementation of multifunction displays in cockpits.

Audio

  • Audio completed for railgun.

  • Steady progress on derelict ship audio + interior ship audio for Javelin.

  • Improved actor status system so breathing works better alongside dialogue.

  • Improved environmental and ambient audio for 3.0 locations.

Animation

  • Continued development of takedown/kill mechanics.

  • Jump mechanic has received some love to allow it to cope with varied environments and gravity states.

  • mobiGlas moved from look pose to aim pose for better functionality and improved animations surrounding mobiGlas use.

Derby

  • Continued work on 3.0 mission givers.

  • Seeing quick turnaround of mocap data into the game in a matter of days.

Ship Team

  • Derelicts prepared for ground and space include Starfarer, Caterpillar, Constellation and Freelancer.

  • Geometry has been finalised for the folding section of the Hull C. Work on finishing the mechanical rig and ensuring no collisions. Front interior got a lighting pass while rear interior has been blocked out.

  • Work on Eclipse well underway - focus on the cockpit currently.  Additional work has been done on landing gear and wings.

  • Work on Reclaimer is nearly complete - only 3 room left to go through final art.

  • Reclaimer cockpit screens will fold around the player to accommodate the tight space.

  • Final art on tractor beam seats for Reclaimer completed.

Behind the Scenes: Procedural Moons

  • The same planet tech that they have used all along will be going into the 3.0 release with each planet having its own gravity, ecosystems, objects, weather and atmospheres

  • You can progress seamlessly from space to planet and back smoothly without any cut scenes or interruptions

  • To allow landing anywhere seamlessly procedural generation and scattering is used

  • To make it look good several levels from different artists are layered and faded into the final result

  • Scaling down from a solar system perspective to a planet surface is another challenge

  • From a fixed pool the geometry and the textures are procedurally generated and combined at run time blending many layers.

  • Source data use for generation is very small and thereby the generation and blending are also very efficient

  • Most of the R&D in the last couple of months went towards object scattering to prevent an empty look to the planets

  • An algorithm was made to achieve a natural look using automation in the placement of objects

  • The logic of the algorithm also allows for the defining of related particle effects and of audio as well

  • These were used as packages that were designated to areas and further defined by more added parameters that would allow the tweaking of scaling, random rotation, alignment to terrain, etc.

  • The Art Team built all the assets that form the rocks and shrubs are are remixed and varied by using Substance Designer allowing for smart design later and more variation in the future

  • Lighting dictated by the time of day also has been accounted for in this system

  • The assets in the library are reusable allowing more to be put into memory and also makes covering large areas faster

  • Star Citizen has no backgrounds or barriers like other games that prevent a player from fully interacting with the environment

  • The procedural generation is deterministic with terrain generation performed by the CPU and the visual textures with the client's GPU with results cached in the fixed geometry pool mesh and distributed through the available mesh in cores and so is very efficient and doesn't require information transit to replicate the environments

  • An example of the hurdle of scale as a challenge can be seen with the typical FPS game which covers only the four kilometer play area whereas Star Citizens is covering all areas without boundaries

  • The end results create delightful surprises not expected for even the artists producing a definite wow effect when it all comes together


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.