There is no TL:DR for this episode; we apologize profusely.
Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of 10 for the Chairman. This is my second episode, this one’s going to be shorter than the mega-epic we did, but hopefully there’ll be some interesting answers for you guys in this one. I want to say thank you very much to the subscribers who make 10 for the Chairman possible. In case you haven’t watched this before, this is where I take 10 questions from the subscribers and answer them to the best of my ability, about the game and what we’re planning to do. Subscribers are the subset of the community that contribute money every month to allow us to do extra community content, this show, Around the ‘Verse, Bugsmashers, all these extra little videos we do, plus the Jump Point magazine which is usually about 50 – 60 pages, along with behind the scenes information, details about how we build ships, details, game mechanics. Subscribers very much keep us and our ability to keep investing into greater community interaction, so thank you very very much for all that, so thank you subscribers. And speaking of backers and subscribers, when I was gone, obviously there were quite a few people that came by and visited the LA office, but a group came by including with Nighthawk here, who left these two rather nice presents which I was just unwrapping when we started this, about aircraft, which I quite like. The world’s greatest aircraft. I guess there are some debates about who necessarily should be in here and who shouldn’t, but there are some good ones like the Spitfire, which is obviously a pretty good one, P51 Mustang would also be in here at some point as we get here… Focke-Wulf 190, Lockheed P98 Lightning, which was actually the inspiration for the Vanguard, so, very cool, so thank you for that, and then the skies of WWI, thank you for these books.
I’ve not made any secret of the fact that I’m a big military historian, so when I grew up I was making model tanks and model planes and all that sort of stuff, and I have a rather large collection of miniatures, Napoleonic miniatures, I used to wargame, so lots of my love of military and all that was obviously one of the inspirations of Wing Commander, and we’re definitely carrying that into Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
So anyway, enough of a pre-ramble, like I said, thank you very much to Nighthawk, but let me get to the questions. So the very first question…
Fazil Kauul asks: What is the in-game banking structure going to be like, not much has really been mentioned about it (or I’ve missed it), do we get in game statements, how do you ‘wire’ credits to other citizens…
Well, it’s the future, you don’t need in-game statements, you’ll have your electronic balance as part of your characters mobiGlas app, so it’ll be one of the… we’ll probably brand it under some form of future bank in the Star Citizen Universe, but you’d be able to look up, see what your balance in Credits is, so that’d be your equivalent of in-game statements. Wiring credits to other citizens, we are going to allow some level of transfer of money between players, but it’ll probably be limited like it would be in the real world here. You can’t just willy-nilly wire lots of money to people without having documentation for that, and there are things like wire fees and all the rest. We haven’t fully figured out the mechanics of players trading cash between each other, because there are some ways the system can be abused if people abuse the people are trading, or giving each other cash, and also the transfer of cash itself, in the game system, is going to be based on the reality of the system. It’s not like you instantly transfer an asset or money to someone, and then they instantly have it on the other side of the galaxy. For instance if I was going to trade one of my ships, and it’s an in-game ship, I’d actually have to get my ship to the person I was giving it to, or he would have to come pick it up. And we’re hoping there’ll be gameplay revolving around that, where people will be transporting other people’s ships, or they’ll take a job to transfer someone to deliver it to the person that’s buying it, so on some level I think cash and money transactions will be slightly the same, we haven’t figured out all the mechanics of that, but we’re going to try to take some leads from what happens in the real world, and also use that to sort of help create some gameplay. Early days, and I’m sure Tony Zurovec has some ideas on that. One of his side-jobs, side passions, is he likes investing and day trading and all that, and it’s one of the reasons he’s actually really good at building the Persistent Universe and the economy there.
Moonraker asks: I’m wondering how the imminent release of Windows 10 will affect the community with regards to playing AC or SM? Will we be able to install Win 10 and just roll on as we have? Or should we be waiting for some updates?
It’s early days yet. We’re testing some Windows 10 stuff with our IT departments. I think we’ve got a couple of issues that are making us not want to roll it out to all our Dev level. I think we have some that will be sitting on people’s laptops and desktops, but we’ll definitely be working to make sure we’re compatible, on Windows 10, from the beginning. I’m not aware of any major problems, but don’t hold me to that, but obviously it’s something we will make sure won’t be an issue.
Admiral Schemen asks: I wondered how the implementation of Virtual Reality is coming forth now that CryEngine has native support for Oculus Rift. Any progress or plans on this topic?
Well, there is some enhanced CryEngine support, and one of the key people who was working on that at Crytek is now part of our team in Frankfurt. We’re just sort of waiting to integrate 3.7, and then we’ll integrate 3.8, which are the two most recent releases on the CryEngine side. It’s always very complicated with us because we’ve modified the engine so much, it’s not as simple as just getting it and putting it in in a day, it takes a long time to integrate them properly, but those integrations are holding off for us to finish the Star Marine work, and the stuff that we’re doing for GamesCom. We’re planning on doing the integration after GamesCom, and then it would be in one of the patches that would be in the Development branch, that would then go to release branch. I think you can look forward to using, or seeing some of the results of the 3.7 integration into our code base, probably towards the end of August or beginning of September, I would guess. But yes, we’ll definitely take all of the updates they have for virtual reality in CryEngine and put it in. We still want to do some specific custom stuff on our side, and that’s really a matter of engineering time on our side, and that’s a matter of stuff settling. There’s some pretty cool new stuff like the Valve headset as well, so that was on our longer-term roadmap, but right now we’re focused on getting the large world and the zone system and Arena Commander 2.0 working, which is multi-crew, and then after that’s where we get back on to focusing on some other stuff, and Virtual Reality will be one of them.
Nostromo1977 asks: Has CIG ever considered adding a ‘hunting’ profession to Star Citizen, which would allow players to travel to wilderness landing zones and hunt dangerous alien beasts?
Well, that is very cool, it sounds very much like Evolve (which was also built in CryEngine by the way), so we’ve… longer term, we are planning on doing some exploration style stuff, where we generate sort of patches of procedural planet that you can go and explore, so that’s some of the R&D that we’re doing, we’re actually doing some of that longer-term in Frankfurt, so that’s the stuff they’ll be working on after we’ve got the large world server stuff/multicrew stuff going. And that would be one of the things you’d do, cause we’d create these areas where you can go explore, where you can find some minerals, maybe some alien artifacts, maybe there would be some alien beasts that would attack you and you could defend yourself, or you could go find them as specimens, or you could go hunt them as is suggested here. That is something that, on the longer term, will be some of a fun gameplay. Our goal is to build the world out, and add these features as games are existing, there should be, as I’ve said many times, I want to have a very rich, varied amount of gameplay. It’s not just about dogfighting in space or not just about hauling cargo, which is what you’d normally see in space games, so we’re really trying to embrace a whole bunch of different play areas and styles so, long term, this is definitely something that’d be a fun one, and probably not too difficult to do, because if you play FarCry 4, that’s a element in there, and if you’ve played FarCry 3, FarCry4, they’re all essentially on the Junior engine, which came in from CryEngine, so a lot of the stuff that we have would, as long as we got the time to build it, that’d be doable. Of course, we’ve got a lot of other things to do first, not happening tomorrow, but long-term yes.
Muad’dib asks: My question is about [worms, no it’s not] the history and life of your ship. Will your ship be able to be uniquely named and carry a history with it that would be attached to the ships particular hull number or serial number that would be reset or ‘lost’ upon complete hull or ship destruction?
We’re definitely going to let you name your ships in the persistent world, we’re definitely going to have your ships age and wear and tear and you’ll fix them up, and much like your character that you would have, we want you to have a reason to hold on to your character, to have a reason to hold on to your ship, instead of it just blow up and get a new one. So one of the, that would be an idea that you’d name it, that that ship would be associated with the kills that it had and stuff like that, and I think it would be cool, and there may be, longer term, some small ways to incentivize players to keep their ships, rather than trade them in, so those are all things that I would be pretty keen on doing, stage two. The whole thing with the PU is you want to hold on, you want to continue living, you want to hold on to your ship. Kinda want people to play the game in a measured manner. In AC right now, you respawn when you die, so you go around, you fire your missiles, and then aaah, might as well respawn, get my ballistic ammo back, get my missiles back, well in the Persistent Universe you don’t want to do that, because it’s going to be a pain in the butt to wake up in the hospital room on some planet and go collect your new insurance-covered ship, but it’s missing all the customizations you’ve done, but we’ve got a ship in the works, the Anvil Crucible, which is a repair ship, and that’s all about getting out there and repairing the ships that’ve been damaged in space, so we definitely want to have gameplay around keeping your ship fixed up, patched, living, and having a history associated with it is one of the really good ways of doing it.
Lee, Adama asks: What will the spoken interaction with NPC’s in Squadron 42 be like? Will it be more like a traditional game from the past, where one would pick an answer A-D in a pop up window?
So, we’re trying something very different on SQ42 in terms of conversation. We’ve gone with the idea, you’re in this whole first person world, first person Universe, and so the conversations you get into are from your point of view in first person. They’re not limited like if you play something like Mass Effect or Dragon Age, where you click someone and you go into this conversation mode where, there’s your character, and the character you’re talking to, and it’s traditional third person, and it cuts back and forth between what people are saying, and you select ABCDEF, and you have this wheel of conversation options. So one of the big concepts, or tenets, of SQ42, and we’re going to bring it across to Star Citizen on the Persistent Universe side, is that the conversation should be fluid, like it is in real life, also the actions that you do, your body language, whether you keep eye contact, it’s as important as what you say, so if you’re, when you look up at someone, and they catch you and they go oh, hey, hi, and then maybe you can approach them and a conversation would start. And if they’re talking to you and you turn away halfway through the conversation, they’ll be like hey, what’re you doing? And if you don’t turn back they’ll sort of stop or wander off. You turn back, and ‘oh, as I was saying’, and there’ll be various options for you to influence it. So we have the moments where what we call your ‘inner thoughts’, there’ll be a point where someone says ‘what do you think of my flying’, and your inner thought, and we’re going to be using a technique that’s very much like Sherlock, the BBC series, if you’ve seen it, sort of your thoughts sort of float out in the aether, the 3D space, and you’ll hear it as you highlight ones, it’d be like, ‘enh, nah, his flying really sucks’ or ‘Yeah, he’s a pretty good flyer’, and those are all sort of inner thought, and when you pick the one you like, ‘oh no, you really kick ass flying, I really enjoy flying on your wing, you’re the best wingman I’ve ever had. And you’ll be able to sort of guide yourself through the conversation, so, between having the branches you can do, and it could be two, three four branches, the system will support all that, or you can even have contextual interactions like look around and, someone’s boring you in a conversation and there’s a glass of water, well, this is not something we have in SQ42, but an example of it would be, I can see that, I can, want to take a drink, that’ll be one action, that’d be the use action, or there’d be ‘take a drink’ or ‘throw water in person’s face’ and you could do that, and that would be potentially contextual if someone was insulting you in a conversation. So we’re going to allow you to interact with things around you, items that could have context and meaning to a conversation, and also thoughts that you would have. And you can walk in and out, and you can move in and out, and it’s all very fluid and in first person. It’s all very different from a locked-off, ABCDEF kind of branching conversation you’ve seen before in RPGs and Adventure games, and I think it’s going to be very cool. It’s very fluid, it’s about eye contact and paying attention. If you’re doing stupid things like bouncing around and nodding your head, the other character’s going to say hey, what’re you doing, and pay attention, and just give up on you after a while, and they’ll become more annoyed with you, and their approachability and friendliness to you will be decrease. It’s really going to be about managing relationships, and who you decide to interact with, in SQ42, and make the friendships with, will affect things down the road and how they react to you. So I’m hoping that that sort of fluid, immersive conversation system will sort of pull you into the world, and also sort of if you spend time interacting with people, talking to people, getting to hear their backstories, getting to know what their hopes and dreams are, then later on if something happens, as it always does in singleplayer stories, maybe the person you’d been talking to, investing time in, gets killed, then it will be pretty emotionally impactful for you. So that’s it, it’s definitely something we’ve been thinking about for a long time, sort of the next stage for me of the stuff I want to do, so hopefully you guys will really enjoy it.
AragornBH asks: Will the number of players allowed into an instance change depending on location? For example, would it be possible to interact with more players on a station or planet side since there are no ship assets to render?
It sort of all depends. I would say we haven’t quite, this is something we’re actively working on. It’s very possible that the number of players in any one area would potentially be dependent on the kind of location they’re in, and also the networking. To give an example, on FPS, we’re pretty sure we’ll be able to have say 32 players in some of the aspects of it, and that’s because it’s just a player and a character, vs. the ships are much harder, because a ship is, first of all you have a player inside each ship, and a ship is very complicated, has lots of moving parts, and all those moving parts require some level of networking simulation, so more complicated items like spaceships take up more network bandwidth. So if it’s just people running around on foot, in an infantry environment, the odds are that we should be able to have more of them than we would, once we’re in space and people are dogfighting. And that’s not to say that we’re not trying to push it to get as much as we possibly can, we’re playing around with, I think I’ve mentioned this before but, the possibility of having servers in the same dataserver all working together on the same area or instance, and essentially sharing the workload of simulating that area, and sharing the workload of telling the clients they are responsible for where they are in the world. And doing that, we’ll potentially be able to have more players in one area than one server could simulate, this is still very early, but that’s one of the approaches we’re looking at. But it’s definitely probably the case that there’s going to be more players in certain areas than others. I know that when we do the social module, Tony’s aiming for a lot more players than we have right now out in space, and actually more than they have in the top end of what they think they’re going to do in FPS. So we will see.
Squirrel asks: What designates a short range ship from a long range ship? Is it the presence of quantum/jump drives? A certain number of jumps without refueling?
I would say that yeah, things like where you’ve got a jump drive or a quantum drive would affect, most ships definitely have a quantum drive. Only a very few wouldn’t have a quantum drive. An example of an absolute short range ship would be something like the Merlin, where that’s a snub-nosed fighter that’s carried with something like a Constellation, that can quantum drive and jump drive. And then you’ve got the next level of a ship that would maybe have Quantum drive, but maybe doesn’t have a jump drive. Or maybe doesn’t have a jump drive installed, so they can travel around the star system pretty quickly but if they want to go to another star system they would have to travel, or be put in the hold of a bigger ship, or get a jump drive installed, and then the bigger, most starfaring ships which, at a certain level most of our biggest ships have jump drives. They can jump between systems, and you have different levels of that, cause you’ve got ships that could jump to another system, but they couldn’t head off into open space and jump system after system, they just don’t have fuel or life-support reserves, whereas some ships like the Carrack was made for deep-space exploration, so they’ve got extra fuel tanks and extra range, and the capacity to do multiple jumps without having to restock or replenish. So, I think those are the various tiers of stuff. We haven’t really made specific classifications on that, maybe we should do, but that’s kind of how they stack up and how they go.
BeerfortheBeerGod, who asks quite a few questions, and likes to write… … … interesting summaries of my 10 for the Chairman: Aside from aesthetics, what is the benefit to the player of merging first and third person animations?
I’m just debating whether I should do this in BeerfortheBeergod’s voice or not, but I’ll just be straight-laced, and he can interpret my answer however he chooses. I think I tried to explain the benefit, which is mostly to do with the fact that you’re going to be playing and interacting with other players in multiplayer and they will be interacting with the world around you and the ship that you’ll fly, and so therefore the interactions and actions you do with the environment is going to be visible from my view in first person with an other player playing a multiplayer, and I”ll see him doing the stuff in third person, and I think I’ve pointed this out before but, typically when you play COD and you see all those wonderful first-person animations, where they open the hatch, and do all this stuff from first person, that’s all specifically choreographed from first person. There is no third-person for that, and actually where the hand is and where the camera is is not really where the hand or the arms or the head or the eyes are of the actual character, and so it’s fine when it’s only from your point of view, but the moment that some other player’s doing that from his point of view, and you’re watching him do that, what will end up happening is his third person animation will have his head and arm and everything in a different position than it is to him in first person view which, normally if there isn’t combat or something involved maybe it’s okay, but if you have a lot of heavy interaction with environments and stuff, then it’s going to be a problem and you can have things like, hey the arm in first person’s up here, but in reality it’s actually down here, so you’ve got collision issues where the collision proxies are in first and third person don’t line up. They completely cheat in first person in most games. Most first person games, it’s all faked, and that little center crosshair where you move is where they shoot, and if you actually went out to third person and looked at where your character is shooting, and where your bullets are going, you’d actually notice your bullets are not firing in a straight line from where your gun is pointing. They’re probably at an angle, cause they’re all being gravitated towards that center crosshair that you have in first person. And of course, again, we can’t do that in our situation, cause I”m a player, looking at another player, and you expect where his gun’s pointing to be where he’s going to fire. It’s because we have a heavy amount of interactions between the environment outside of combat, and normally most first-person shooters, they really reduce the fidelity of the animation of other players vs. AI, and we really didn’t want to do that. So that’s the advantage is basically, where your hand is, where you’re looking, it’s consistent between first and third person. You don’t have to cheat, you don’t have to do special fix-ups because you’re in first-person vs. third person, and vice-versa. So, long-term, if you get the base stuff to work, it makes your life a hell of a lot easier, which, for us, is pretty important because we have a massive massive massive game, and so we have massive amounts of animations, so if we have to do both first person and third person animation for all the motion sets, it’s… insane. We’re already thousands and thousands of animation assets, and we don’t really want to double up on them. And again, in a normal FPS, you don’t really have that same issue, because you’re not doing something that has a variety of number of ships you can enter, the number of things you can interact, and you’re not really thinking about how you’re going to be building this thing over 10 years, and have you doing all these different things, and we do, so trying to simplify it to not have two parallel systems is something that, I think, long-term, definitely important. Short term, makes it hard, because most people who’ve worked on first person stuff, and tried to unify first and third person, will say it was a bitch, and they normally give up and cheat. So, maybe I’m just really stubborn, which is probably true, it also means I make decent games because I don’t give up until I get it right. But I think long-term it’s the right call. So I hope that answered the question. [Erris’ note – For those of you that don’t understand what Chris is talking about, click here for a GIF that shows the first-third person difference in Crysis.]
Charmin asks: How do you handle the sometimes harsh criticism and take care that the team doesn’t lose motivation?
Well, it’s hard sometimes. But at the end of the day I would say that the fact that we’re building a game that we’ve all wanted to build, that we’ve all dreamed about building for a long time, and we can see it coming together is a big motivation. Yeah, it’s totally frustrating to see everyone out there second-guessing decisions you make, or wondering why you’re late, or ‘god damn, they should, are they incompetent, they’re not professional, they should get this thing out’ and it’s hard, because development is a very complicated thing. This is a very big project, there’s a lot of people we have on it. As long as I’ve ever made games, it’s very hard to predict stuff very accurately, especially in the early days, cause there’s always so much R&D. There’s a lot of things you try an experiment, maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work, and anyone can tell you that manages big projects, even not software projects, just say a construction project, the bigger the thing you have with the more items or elements that have to be done, that just means there’s more chance of some of those things getting messed up, or not coming out the way you expect, and you having to redo them. So anytime you’ve got big huge projects, there is always a level of difficulty and unpredictability. And then it’s sort of frustrating to sit there and have people wonder why you’re taking so long and stuff, but at the end of the day, we’re going to build the game in a way no-one else has ever managed to build it, and that isn’t the majority of people anyway, and to be honest with you, I”m perfectly fine with it because, yeah I’d be frustrated if I was waiting, I want to play this game too. I mean, I’m kind of frustrated. I give people internally shit when things are late or they say, oh it was going to be here and it comes in late, and I”m like… I give them the same sort of abuse that sometimes we get back from the community, but I think that’s sort of the price you pay, and the fact that we’re building something that we really care about, and the rest of the team really cares about, I think is the most important team. And you just need to develop a certain level of either pigheadedness or a thick skin, because you have to realize when you get a large group of people, you’re never going to please everybody all the time. You can please most of the people most of the time, but you’re never going to please all the people all the time, so what I tell everyone here on the project, and i do this myself, is I say listen, it’s really important to go with what you believe in. Listen to what people are saying, take it in, and if someone says something that resonates with you, that you agree with, then that’s worth considering and putting into action and doing something about. So I think one of the problems with development in more of the sort of button down public company publisher world, is that there’s a lot of second-guessing where people don’t necessarily trust their instincts. Not necessarily the key people on a development team, but there’s always a lot of other levels, on marketing, on publishing, where they’re asking do we have the right feature set, is this what the kids want today, and but I saw this other game doing this, maybe we should have this other feature, and that’s the sort of noise that hurts a game. Being true to yourself is really really important, and I emphasize that with the team, and if you manage to do that, and you take in the input from the rest of the community whether it’s good or bad, and just say hey, it’s input, it’s really great to get input, and don’t let it affect you personally, and use it for the benefit that you can get from it, then I think it’s fine, which is one of the reasons why I”m perfectly fine with everyone arguing on forums about controller balance or whether they feel like the flight model’s right, because people are passionate enough to really care about it, and are putting their views out there strongly, and it challenges myself and the team to make sure that what we believe in, we’re doing. It doesn’t mean we’re going to agree with whomever’s the loudest, it just means that I”m find with the debate as long as people are fairly civil about it. It’s not fun to be namecalling or putting people down, but you should strongly put forward your argument, and why you think it’s right, and I’m telling you that, even though some people feel like they don’t have any input or have any effect, everybody here definitely pays attention to what everyone says in the community, and we do listen, and we take on things that we think about and we try to adjust and fix, I mean, it’s an ongoing process, and that’s, there you are. That’s how we don’t lose motivation, cause we’re building the game we want to build, and we know there’s a lot of people behind us, supporting us in having us make that game, even if they don’t vocalize it in a supportive manner, we know that their heart’s in the right place. Having said that, I would say thank you guys, and that’s the end of this episode of this episode of 10 for the Chairman. As always thank you to subscribers, thank you to backers, doing this is a dream come true, and I will see you next week. Bye.