Take a look at Episode 06 of 10 for the designers below!
Hello everyone! Above is the latest video of 10 For the Designers featuring Kirk Tome and Randy Vasquez! Below is The Relay transcript if the video, Enjoy!
KT: My name is Kirk Tome I’m a senior technical designer at cloud imperium games
RV: Hi guys welcome to 10 for the designers. My names Randy Vasquez, I’m a tech designer
RV: So first of all we’d like to thank the subscribers for making this show possible and for us being able to share extra information with you guys on what we’ve been doing so. Questions? let’s see if we can get them answered
KT: This is exciting for us as this is our first stab at this particular show, but we hope to have a lot of fun with it and we’re going to enjoy this direction interaction with subscribers and the community.
0:45 Willie_Pete asks:
So the Spec sheet has almost no information for the Xi’an scout. Can you give us some of the basics such as weapons loadout, max speed, size of the components like shield(s), generator, etc/ it is billed as a scout/explorer. What jump point size can it go through, and how is that implemented in the ship? The pictures only show the cockpit and not any interior space. What are we looking at, if anything, for the interior space?
KT: Ok so quite a few questions about the ship and we do have some of the specs determined these are going into what we call the white box phase. It’s the very first phase of the ship implementation where we take the raw geometry of the ship and then to do things like determine where the thrusters go how that’s going to actually make the ship handle in space because of our new internal and physicalized ship components determining the size of those and where they can actually go on the ship as well.
So to answer some of the questions, the ship is going to have two size three lasers for sure. Looking into putting another set of size 2 lasers on the top of the ship to give it some extra armament it’s going to be one medium shield it’s a rather large ship when it is open and flying so we wanted to give it some additional protection from forward facing shots. It’s going to have two possible four small power plants and much like the Herald is going to have it’s going to have one small jump drive. Because it is smaller than I believe the Endeavour (possibly means Herald?) it is going to be able to utilise any sized jump point.
It won’t have any trouble using any of the jump points in the PU. Its top speed is going to be 270 metres a second this is opposed to the Hornets 200 metres a second so it’s going to be a very fast manoeuvrable ship there is no interior space plan. So much like the Hornet it’s going to be a fighter space craft. So there is no internal space that is planned for the ship itself. I hope that answers the questions.
3:33 Solis Obscuri asks:
Regarding modularity of the Caterpiller, some elements of the design (like the repair/salvage “chopshop” for example) seem to need external access to outer space, others (like a crew module) would ideally not have that exposure. Will there be limitations on what order the modules can be assembled in order to have the correct access to the airlock in the forward module, or will some of these modular units have their own external airlocks so they can be assembled without order restriction?
RV: Talking with a lot of the designers, we discussed that each module is going to be designed with the thought that it will need to be interfaced with all the other modules around it. And some of the modules will have their airlock, some of them are going to open up directly to the outside like we talked about, like the clam shells opening up a little bit, so that way thing can be set up like the ramp, you helped me out with how some of the modules linking how they would fit in with the other ones.
RV: We played around with the concept of the side opening; the whole side turning into a ramp; and so there’s going to be some restrictions, for instance the front module is going to be set up to where only the front module can be changed out for the front modules and then the other modules are basically the same module that can go in there. And then the players can basically make their choice on what modules are there.
KT: Sure but it seems like it’s going to be less of a Lego type of system and more of a these are the particular module types that can go into this bay of the ship itself.
RV: Yeah, that was one of the things we played with. We had some ideas of making a restriction where; we had some other ideas where the players must put in all personnel modules, let them! So we’re still up in the air about whether we’re going to let them just do whatever they want or set it to be pure restrictions. So it kind of matches the question but we’re still thinking about it and we have a lot of modules planned.
5:34 Beer4theBeerGod asks:
At what stage of development is thruster placement, thruster power, mass distribution, and other elements related to flight integrated? How far along the process does the ship go before it, or a facsimile of the ship, is “flown” for the first time?
Good question. How will the ships like the X’ian [sic] scout which is fewer but more powerful thrusters? Is there a “blank” ship that can have variable mass and various thrusters thrown all over it like KSP to take a dry-run of a ship before it’s design is finalized?
KT: This is a great question, So Randy is also involved in implementing ships and so he has some experience in this as well, our flight system uses the mass and the actual physics bounds of the ships, along with its center of mass to determine what it’s flight characteristics are. Are thruster placement, the output of the thrusters, what angles of attack the thrusters can actually influence, and other variables like our turning speed for the actual spinning speed of the ship, are variable we all can play with but to the end result of all of this, we can take a cube and make it fly and we can place thrusters on it how we want and fortunately we don’t have to get to that step typically.
We do have the white box model that we can take as a reference. We physicalize it. We put actual geometry on it that determines its physical bounds and then we position the thrusters based on the concept and see how it actually flies. We can do things like take, actually nudge the actual thrust itselves so they can influence the mass of the ship better but all this stuff is possible without having any finalized geometry, so we can actually figure out what the ship will fly like before having something that’s anywhere close to final and so that helps us out alot what the ship’s flight characteristics going to be, *Looks over at Randy Vasquez* What’s your experience been like with that?
RV: So Caterpillar that we’re working on, you helped me out with where were looking at the thruster placement with all that and one of the issues we’ve with was the Asymmetry of it. So the Asymmetry of it, basically ,once we placed the initial thrusters, that thing was flying all over the place and it was so hard to control, and you were helping me trying to adjust some of the things.
KT: Right and something Randy discussed with me earlier was that the mass distribution does play an important part in the flight characteristic of a ship and so asymmetrical ships with mass that isn’t quite balanced makes it a challenge to have the ship fly straight in a way that you kind of need the ship to fly so that you can actually make it do what you want it to do in space.
RV: The ballasts controls and everything were trying to like start getting onboard and online, that would with the asymmetrical ships would help big time. Even the regular ships, once the ballast gameplay and everything gets in, so like if you’re using so much ammo the ammo goes away, the ballast can fill in for that and adjust to where it needs and wherever.
KT: Well eventually be able to do things like putting ballasts in places of the ship. here’s a secret, the vanduul ships are completely faked as far as their balance because of the wings are so large that they make the flight characteristics difficult to balance and we cheated a little bit on the wings and this is especially true in the case of the scythe because of it’s large right wing and rather miniscule left wing, we needed to kind of cheat the system so that the flight model thinks that both of them weigh the same, therefore it would fly in a straight line, otherwise it would be in the crazy thing that you could not control. But again rest assured we’re using real physics to fly the in space.
10:27 Dax asks:
Can the Command module reattach in the field (Space), or will we need to somehow get the main body towed back to port.
RV: So the command module is actually being designed as a kind of escape pod or quick get-away. This is going to have limited QT(?) capabilities it’s going to be able to dock and re-dock with the main ship. The reason why to undock or to re-dock is basically up to the crew and one of the ideas I had was basically like to hand a baton pass to the main hull of the ship we had discussed this earlier about you gave me an example with the eighteen wheeler do you want to explain..
KT: Well this is actually yours. Why don’t you explain because it’s a great analogy and really explains how this whole mechanic will work
RV: So take this eighteen wheeler ship or eighteen wheeler today and it has the main cabin that drives the engine then you have the actual back part of it. So just detaching that main cabin part and then having to hop in the eighteen wheeler part or the rear, another one can just hop right in so you can play hot potato with it. Now i’m controlling it and i’m taking this leg of the journey and i’m controlling this leg of the journey or even swapping cargo or whatever. It works for the different variants but the gameplay is still pending so we will see how that works because you mentioned the security stuff
KT: I think it’s something we need to think about as you can hot swap these command modules we want to put in some kind of security measures so that you can just pilot one away with only a little bit of effort so we’re actively discussing these types of things and hopefully we’ll have the systems online when the ship is available to fly.
12:23 Zodia Medicae asks:
Is it difficult to do hangar ready designs for concepts that are not fully fleshed out yet? I would constantly second guess myself with interface design on stuff like EWAR consoles.
KT: Yes and no! While it is difficult to design interfaces for components that haven’t been fleshed out yet, the happy answers for us is we don’t need to. What we do is determine the actual physical sizes of the screen that are going to serve as the bed for the actual interaction. Then the team that is responsible for doing this interaction such as eWar or other things such as ship power management in any of the stations that we have, they have to work actually designing the systems and the interface along with the UI team for how it’s going to work.
We basically have a big blank canvas that we just need to position and make useful within the ship, so that part of it is rather easy, we design the space so the player can take that station and then the magic of the design system once it comes online simply shows up on that screen and the player is able to interact with that. So kind of roundabout answer to your question but I hope that serves to describe how we do our ship interior design when we’re in the white box phase.
RV: The two ships that I’ve worked on so far were the Starliner which had a whole other host of interior designs and layouts so we when through all those iterations, which you guys have hopefully seen; and then the next I’ll hopefully be able to show them all the interior designs and layouts for the Caterpillar. All the interiors are crazy and I’m making sure they fit within the FPS metrics and I’m making sure that they are fitting for the hull of the ship, the exterior, making sure it just matches with the ship itself. It is a blank canvas. It sometimes gets a little overwhelming especially at starting: like what can I do with this?
KT: There’s going to be systems that we haven’t designed yet because of the particular type of x the character’s going to have but we know that we need to make a station for say doing cargo management. We know that we have a 16:9 space that we need to fill the screen with when the player is manning that station so we design that space. And when that particular gameplay is fleshed with its UI it will magically overlay onto that space that we’ve set aside for that particular mechanic.
RV: Some of the stuff we talked about with multi-crew and everything and then working with the designers in the UK and working with Zane and everything for all the different screens, the seats, the functions of those seats, what each one does: all that stuff is really coming on board so hopefully when you guys actually get to play with more of the multi-crew stuff then you’ll be able to see a lot more of the designs come alive and we’ll keep pushing the envelope of what we want from intention of what Star Citizen is.
KT: Good plug. When I say UI I really mean Zane!
15:56 Beer4TheBeerGod asks:
Both the Herald and the Caterpillar are advertised as being intended for nefarious (pirate) purposes. A common example is the Herald jamming signals while the Caterpillar (with Cutlass escort) does the dirty work. How do both of you envision piracy to work within Star Citizen, and how have you designed the Herald and Caterpillar in accordance with that understanding?
RV: The caterpillar in particular was always designed as a search and rescue right? and the other variants starting to be designed and concepted, that’s when it was taken to like, Oh we can do this and do this. It was always kind of designed to support and work in tandem with the other drake ships, so it kind of started with that. So basically, talking a lot of the other designers and seeing what there were because, *Looks at Kirk Tome* I think you and sherman were working on the Herald for a bit.
KT: As far as the internal components and flight values yup.
RV: So that gave me a better chance of looking at that, looking at the components they’re doing and look at the intent of that and kind of just build in stuff right to the caterpillar to kind of work with those guys so, I can’t really talk about too much gameplay yet because it’s still being designed and whenever I’m actually able to show them the internal spaces and talk about more of the caterpillar designs I’ll be able to get more information but there are built with the intention to support one another and an example I gave you earlier being,
I really see the Herald running close support and being really close the caterpillar and the caterpillar is the main person of the formation and then have the cutlasses sit around him and just being support and dropping in and taking out stuff. so that way they can do the quick dash and grabs and store it right on the caterpillar as well as kind of an area where there’s Ewar stuff.
KT: Right and piracy seems to be a very popular topic and truth is we’re still ironing out a lot of the details but rest assured, where were designing any systems for these ships, because of how pirates scentric the ship is, that’s always at the forefront of any of the designs we implement for this ship.
18:11 MtOjebogi asks:
There seems to be a disparity in ship weights compared to what it’s represented in the model and xml values…ie…A ship that is big on the exterior, but that is mostly hollow in the inside… but it weighs as much as it looks like on the outside. And ships that are smaller and touted to have armor …obviously solid or densely packed that weigh less than slightly bigger hollow ship. Is there going to be a standard metric to determining ship weights based on the volume the ship takes up and possible list of materials the ship would be made of?
KT: Great question and i’m going to be honest with you this is all currently a guess. So all of our ship masses at the moment are rough estimates based on typically the general bounds the ship takes up so its volume we don’t currently have solid metrics for the actual physical space therefore the mass would be represented in a ship there’s also material density that we haven’t quite figured out yet that is coming down the pipe but until then it’s currently all eye balled so hopefully in the future we’ll be able to get more concrete metrics for all of these masses and densities and what not to determine more realistic values of ships this will be especially important when balanced and especially cargo come online.
Cargo itself is going to take up space and mass and they will change the flight characteristics when you’re laden with a bunch of cargo especially on ships that can take massive amounts of cargo such as the Constellation. Huge cargo bay when it’s full of really massive boxes of stuff the flight characteristics will change. How will they change? That’s what we are determining now. That will come some day soon and when we figure that out I think we’ll have a little bit more realistic values for all the masses of the ships.
RV: One of the things you mentioned was the Constellation and one of the things is whenever we get cargo up and running and that adds extra weight and mass. The center of mass changes on the ships, the thrusters will have to be smart enough to adjust and then again going back to asymmetrical ships like Caterpillar we had talked about all the cargo would be in the front of the ship and all the fuel and everything else is in the back of the ship so when it’s empty the center of mass is actually closer to engineering but then when all the cargo is there the center of mass changes by a good ten meters so it’s going to be extra work to get that on board.
KT: True once all the stuff is working it will help us to better design interchangeable thrusters so maybe you do need thrusters that have slightly slower attack but are able to move more mass efficiently especially across those long stretches of space that will encompass the PU gameplay for moving tons of cargo.
RV: Cargo’s going to be very encompassing for all the stuff we have like mining salvaging and repairing and all that.
21:48 Multiple Citizens asked:
Can the Caterpillar stretch or contract with more or less modules?
RV: So as of right now the design is to not stretch; it’s not going to be like one of the Hull series. It basically it’s going to be the modules will fit within it. So right now it’s six modules: the front module and five other ones. The players can basically swap whatever they want, based on whatever they need, based on whatever they want the ship to do.
KT: Yes so going back to that Lego analogy, that system just causes too much havoc. It might let you make a single module ship or a thousand module ship. It’s not something that we really want plan around.
RV: Or balance! I hate to put a thousand thrusters …
KT: Starting with a determined number of modules is going to result in the best working ship that we can deliver.
RV: Hopefully once we release more information on the Caterpillar we can let you guys know all the different module variants you can play with.
23:05 Skiffy Asks:
With many citizens owning multiple ships, I’m curious if it would be possible to staff ‘spare’ ships entirely by NPCs? For example, if I’d like my pilot my Carrack to go exploring, but send my research back to have NPCs on the Endeavor start crunching, plus send coordinates I discovered back to my Reclaimer who could start basic salvage operations. Or to a lesser extent, could I simply send coordinates to my ships’ NPCs who could get them staged for my arrival?
Wiborg1978 ask a similar question:
I have a similar question to that: If I run as a Player a Carrack with a NPC-Crew (all stations manned) can I hire additional NC”s to escort my Carrack with a starfarer and / or Vanguard? Or is the ship size for escorts limited so only little ships like the Herald, Hornet and so on can be used for escorts? Is it possible as a Solo-Player to play a Carrack with a NPC-Crew and put one NPC at my Endeavor, so I can transfer the founded stuff from the Carrack to my Endeavor or is it impossible for a solo player?
KT: there are all great questions and the happy answer is YES. We plan for the NPCs to completely man a ship that you own or multiple ships. They’ll work just like the contract system for a human player that is going to be flying your ship but they’ll simply be NPCs and so.
RV: How does that work with like, If I’m in one ship though and then the NPC Captain. Because of how the seats are broken down with everything.
KT: Well sure. When we get the NPCs to work, you’ll actually give them contracts and so you’re telling them what to do with the ship. So if the command is I’m transferring my cargo to this ship that is owned by me and I want you to take it to our hanger or base or wherever and sell it, that is something is planned to happen and so you don’t need to babysit all of the standard activities that a ship that you own can handle so long as your NPCs that can handle all the stations on that ship. So I think they will be a lot of fun because
RV: It’ll be risky though
KT: Sure, but you know with that, it lets you give responsibilities for the stuff that you need to get done but may not want to sit down on the ship itself, awaiting its function to go do, so if it’s a lesser task and I have a ship that can do that, why not let me do that?
RV:I’d love to have a fleet of ships but at the same time do I want to bring a whole fleet out? If I get attacked, I can only do so much, it’s a risk and reward.
KT: Right and that’s the decision you make and so I think that’s where the fun comes because you figure out what works best for you and what you want the NPC’s to handle, and with experience as time goes on I think people will figure out what works optimally for them.
RV: So let’s get like 10 hornets then and just have my one ship and I have 10 hornet escorts and a guy comes in and he’s not going to mess with me.
KT: Alright well I might wait for you outside your hanger and as soon as you seen your ship out and take everything you got, So that will be fun.
26:32 Deadweight Asks:
A question about the design process itself in regards to heavily modular ships like the Caterpillar, Endeavor, and the Hull Series. How do you go about sketching out the game mechanics that revolve around the module’s themselves? do you all sit around in a conference room throwing around ideas to see what might and what might not work? Are there any balance consideration with ships that can effectively change their entire make-up from heavy combat to mostly harmless… or repair and medical to pure hauling? Or do you just let mass and power limitations govern what players can and can’t do?
RV: We do actually design each module for a purpose we do sometimes sit around in a conference room and we also do have a lot of design considerations that we put into it. And sometimes we have the power of limitations govern what the design is based on whether its OP, whether it’s functional. But the main thing is each ship is completely different. In the case of the Caterpillar we put a lot into what it was intended to do.
The original intent was search and rescue then we started looking at some of the other ones like the variants which the possibility of variants were the merchant marine and small scale salvage then we started looking at what does a search and rescue need. So search and rescue you need a medical bay. Boom you got a medical bay check. You need a place to house the crew as well as your medical crew so bam there’s an extra personnel one there and then you need cargo just in case, you also need launch bays so that way you can get people launched out to go save people and stuff. So kind of like this like the dive rescuers
KT: Sure. I think what we’re describing though is the whole top down approach. First the ship functions itself is determined and then once we determined the particular type of function then we design the module so that it will serve that function and what those needs are for that particular module. So we keep diving down deeper to try to figure out, because for us as designers we’re determining what the player interactions with the ships are and therefore to accomplish those particular tasks that the ship is suited for what works best as far as the components in this case the modules on that ship
RV: Also feasibility. Because I made a couple of modules or designed and specced some and people were like “hmmm I don’t know if that would work” or “we need to tone that down”. Just to make sure it wasnt crazy over powered.
KT: Tell them about some of the examples that have been designed out so far.
RV: We have the medical bay, we have the cargo bay we have some of the personnel bays and we have multiple variants even of the different modules themselves so like we have two different cargo modules.
KT: What are the differences?
RV: One of the cargo modules has a cat walk so you would lose about 15-20 SCU for the catwalk but because it’s a catwalk you can walk through the entire cargo and get to the entire ship. Cause if you fill an entire bay with cargo then you can’t walk through it. So if you wanted to get to the other side of the ship basically you have to either exit the ship to go back in through a different dock or something like that. The player can set up the ship how ever they want and based on what modules they choose for their ship they have to deal with the consequences of ok this is what this has for strengths and this is what this module does.
KT: That’s good. There are positives and negatives to each type and players will determine what’s best for them
RV: Or the ones you’re playing with. Everyone’s talking about pirates so we’re talking about more attack more aggressive type of modules to add to it and also the ones that you won’t let go but the cargo still has hardpoints on it. So each side of the bay has tractor beam hardpoints like size ones so if you wanted to you could swap those tractor beams out for like two size ones so you could pew pew
KT: I wouldn’t I would stick with tractor beams
RV: You never know people want to put guns on the bays and cargo bays. Let them do it have fun. good luck. You guys can come up with other ways to use this stuff; awesome because emergent gameplay is something, we really just want to let them have the toy and see what they do with it.
RV: I Think that’s our 10 questions.
KT: Yeah I think that’s it. Well this was a blast, thank you everybody, especially subscribers for allowing us to have this moment of interaction. It’s not instantaneous, but were attempting some sort of back and forth with the community. This really allows us to get feedback from everyone and come up with what we feel is in the communities best interest and what you guys want to see and this helps a lot, so this has been fun!.
RV: Keep hitting up the forums, lets us know what you think. Allso give us questions, more questions, even if it’s not 10 for the whatever department, writers or whatever. We love to read the forums and get feedback from you and everything. See you guys out there!