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Relay Replay: March 12, 2017 Written Monday 13th of March 2017 at 09:39am by Erris

This week on the Replay, same thing as last week on the Replay... Star Citizen News!

Only this time, there's 100% more Erris! Erris is back!

But that doesn't matter, lets get into the nitty gritty!

Around the Verse: Weapons: The Game's Arsenal

Misc Information

  • CIG was at GDC 2017 and had a busy three days on the show floor partnering up with Amazon.

  • CIG also attended PAX East unofficially with Tyler Witkin and several developers hanging out at the convention.

Austin Studio Update

  • Big focus this month on first pass and implementation of trade in game

  • Design Team designing next round of shops that’ll be available in 2.6.2 patch

    • Need initial list of commodities, location at which to buy/sell them, variable economy to provide player options/places to sell commodities

  • Goal is to have functioning/fluctuating economy that mirrors the real world

  • Economy will include goods going from mined/gathered states ->refineries->manufacturers-> buyable/tradeable goods

    • Prices on these items can be impacted by players actions which can affect supply/demand

  • Early stages begin with basic commodity structure representing major groups: ore, gas, food, etc

    • Once system is proven out with small subset, commodities will evolve and expand into more specific things like gold, hydrogen, etc

  • Next is places to purchase and next major release they’re adding a new station type called the truck stop being worked on by Frankfurt Design Team

  • New shop type called the Admin Office which will focus on buying/selling station import/exports for local stores and will also control local storage rentals and have a job board of complete/planned deliveries

    • This will be in majority of locations without fully fleshed out TDD

  • Prices of commodities will vary by supply/demand based on dynamic economy but first iteration commodity prices will stay within range of base prices and likely be set by hand

  • They need to test buying/selling around universe before upgrading to variable rate

  • Art side: Lighting Team doing both initial lighting/polish passes for some locations in Squadron 42

    • Team is also going back to Retaliator/Constellation and doing general optimizations/polish work including fixing strobe lighting bug in Retaliator cockpit and improving performance inside these ships

  • Ship Art Team: grey box phase of Drake Cutlass Black

    • Concentrating on adding primary/secondary detail within geometry and material work

    • Interior has gotten attention in the form of added detail and kitbashed pieces from Caterpillar and completed first lighting pass

  • Ship Animation Team: Wrapped up grey box on MISC Prospector with U.K. team

    • Finalizing Drake Buccaneer animations

  • PU Animation Team: Create animations for NPC characters to interact with environment including replacing rough retargeted animations on the female with properly shot animations of female performance

    • Headway in debugging issues with animation skeletons and animation pipeline in general

    • With Code and Design, researching better ways to implement hundreds of animations developed over the years, for example creating an entire eating experience for characters specifically NPCs

  • Server Engineering Team: supporting live and upcoming 2.6.2 patches and introduced/continue to enhance multi-region support for matchmaking

    • Tweaks to: party system, contact, friends which include improvements to invitations, online/offline state notifications

  • New diffusion architecture refactor for backend services

    • Diffusion allows easily created stateless microservices using a combo of C++ and proprietary Use scripting language which creates highly scalable, high performing stateless services

    • This supports higher number of concurrent players with improved stability and less downtime

    • All backend services updated to run on diffusion core allowing refactoring/rewrite of services without impacting current service operations

  • Finished new diffusion API gateway allowing Spectrum and other external services to integrate seamlessly with the diffusion network

  • Player relations: spent working with Design Teams and stakeholders on better ways to collect and distribute specific feedback which is used for Evocati and PTU waves during testing

  • Player Relations Team is growing in Austin! There are open positions and if interested check out cloudimperiumgames/jobs

Spectrum Update

  • Spectrum Team is glad for the feedback.

  • Short term: Bring the forum functionality at least in line with old forums.

  • Mid term: Give Spectrum true, native, mobile support on iOS, Android, maybe Windows.

  • Long Term: Voice with multiple channels (Officer, Squad, etc).

Behind the Scenes: The Making of Weapons

  • When first creating a weapon they start with a writeup discussing the key points, the manufacturer and its type and present it to a kickoff meeting. The Behring P8-AR assault rifle became their new gold standard for weapons

  • Concepts are compared to office replicas for ergonomic fit and then proceed to blockout for animation and rigging. All departments are represented in kickoff meeting for collaboration

  • Previsualizations, a final render mash and optimization of LOD are used to create the Maya rig and its controls for the Animators. The main focus for animation is reloading with first-person and third-person being synced

  • A weapon character definition file contains the skeleton and its physics, a skin file, static geometry and attachment helpers. After creating a character parameter file and connecting the animation database to its skeleton, Animators can start exporting their animation

  • Once Tech/Art sends the rig, Animators then check to see if the dimensions are correct, it sits in the hand properly, shoulders good, etc. Once it's good then they'll implement it into Mannequin, the part of the engine that reads the animation from fragments etc.

  • Animation will go and then fill in the animations needed such as reloads in various stances. After Art and Animation have done their first pass it gets reviewed and verified that it works in-game.

  • Artists then go in and setup custom normals which are the finer details of the guns and also apply optimisation to the model. Once that's completed they will use a program called UV which is used to setup decals and pom decals such as wear and tear, stickers, etc.

  • VFX Then gets their hands on the gun and look at the what characteristics make up the gun, energy, ballistic, etc and then apply attributes like muzzle flash, projectiles, impacts, tracers.

  • Audio then gets their turn and begin creating sounds for the weapon that are a combination of multiple layers of sound that make up a large percentage of how a weapon feels when it fires. Audio also takes into account third and first person sound as well.

  • Once it's all put together it gets reviewed and feedback from all departments to make sure everyone is happy with their part and it goes to QA for testing.

Happy Hour: March 3rd, 2017 - Pre-Christory: An Origin Story

  • Today's Happy Hour featured a round table talk with Steve Bender, Sean Tracy, Jake Ross, and Ben Lesnick

  • They talked a bit about what they do in a day with Sean making sure everyone is in sync on tasks relevant to them and that people aren't working on the exact same thing to prevent duplicates and of course bugfixing. Jake manages the Austin Studio for production and setting tasks for people. Steve does what Steve does: animates.

  • The first iteration of character creation will be simple with different heads and bodies to choose from, later iterations will have the ability to change certain facial features within a given parameter.

  • Helmet ship HUDs are not being removed but the multi HUD display screens will be the primary way of figuring out what's going on with your ship, but there will still be some stuff for your helmet.

  • For the Animation Team they're working on getting the railgun ready and feeling good. Oxygen and how it affects a player when low and useables, for AI and players and ensuring that they're rigged correctly to allow to properly pick up a variety of objects. This is important to AI as well because they'll be able to loot objects for themselves and from players even.

  • There will be counters for hand to hand combat so that if someone tries to stab you, they'll have a way to counter it. How in depth the system will be is unknown, but it won't be as detailed as For Honor for example.

  • Atmospheric flight will be different depending on the gravity of a planet.

  • No updates on CitizenCon or Gamescom but Ben said they'll have something soon.



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.