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10 for the Chairman – Episode 62 Written Monday 3rd of August 2015 at 03:06pm by Nehkara

Citizens!  Greetings and welcome to Episode 62 of 10 for the Chairman! 10 for the Chairman   Transcript by Erris, Nelerath, Dolvak, StormyWinters, and Myself  (2:22) Oberscht asks: How have you been dealing with getting back into...

Citizens!  Greetings and welcome to Episode 62 of 10 for the Chairman!

10 for the Chairman


Transcript by Erris, Nelerath, Dolvak, StormyWinters, and Myself

  1.  (2:22) Oberscht asks: How have you been dealing with getting back into game programming after a break that lasted a decade? Have there been a lot of hurdles going from the DirectX 8 era where games had rudimentary physics at best, straight into development of a high end multiplayer game from the DirectX 11/12 era? [Nehkara]

Well, it’s actually been fun.  I think some of you out there know that in the early days when we showed the prototype, and this was back in October of 2012, I was pretty much the programmer.  So, I’d coded most of the stuff that we’d shown.  I’d done a bunch of changes to CryEngine itself to enable us to do some of that stuff. I’d had some help from a few people like Paul Reindell who now works with us, who was at the time at Crytek and part of the support department they had there in terms of software engineers that supported the SDK, worked on that SDK and then worked with outside people like myself.  But, I did most of the coding.  Luckily, no one has really migrated in high end game coding to a new language so C++ was something – actually back in the early days, I think I was probably one of the early adopters of C++.  I wrote Wing Commander in C and then for Strike Commander – the engine we wrote for Strike Commander was the foundation of the 3D engine that ran most of the Origin games after that, so all of the stuff we did for the later Wing Commanders, a lot of Warren [Spector] stuff – things like Wings of Glory, Pacific Strike – and some of the stuff that Andy Hollis did was originally all based on the engine that we first built for Strike Commander.  So that was the first project I did in C++.  We built a pretty… you know, for the time if you look back on what we did, we had a whole bunch of firsts in the graphics world.  I know that a lot of credit goes to id [Software] for having ‘invented 3D’ but really there was quite a lot of 3D before id [Software] ever got around to doing proper 3D.  So, you know, Paul Neurath who recently has just had the Underworld Kickstarter, that was successfully funded, that he is working on – he had done some pretty awesome 3D stuff.  Sid Meier had done some with F19.  Of course with Strike Commander, we were first one to do proper real-time 3D Gouraud shading and real-time texture mapping and if you go back and look at Strike Commander you can actually see that we had virtual cockpits all the way back in 1991/1992 which is pretty cool.  But, that was the first project I used C++ – for whatever reason I always liked the brand new, shiny stuff… try out the new tech.  So, back then we worked with Borland, C – and C++ came out and me and Jason Templeman who was the lead programmer working with me, we dove in and learned C++ as we went along and I quite like it.  It works well for the way I think and organize things and people still use C++ all these years later.

So, when I first got back into doing Star Citizen it wasn’t really that different.  There’s newer functions – some of the later stuff like the STL stuff and the Boost stuff is all newer parts of the lexicon of C++ and various stuff you do.  There’s a little bit of that but the fundamentals are the same and so it was kind of like riding a bike and it was actually kind of fun because it’s one of the few areas that you can sort of control what you’re working on and you can make things happen.  So, it’s actually quite empowering and fulfilling when you say, “I’ve got an idea of something I want to see happen,” and you go and program it and you actually see it happen that way and simulate that way on the computer you’re working on… it’s great.

So, I had a lot of fun.  Obviously I have a physics background from a long time ago so that obviously helps.  And, to honest with you, tools you have now with modern engines are fantastic.. I mean, compared to what we had in the old days when we had to everything with a scratch writer or an editor – just starting out of the box with something as powerful as CryEngine was great.

It’s a lot of the same concepts, you can just do a lot more of it, a lot more powerful, and it’s fun.  So, I don’t really feel like the old guy who doesn’t know how to do this stuff, you know, but I definitely think my background helped me.  There’s definitely some stuff we’re doing in Star Citizen that is really pushing things and it’s cool so I’m having a lot of fun actually… I wish I could be doing more programming rather than some of the other stuff that I have to do but that’s not always the case on a big project, having to direct and communicate with so many people.

  1. (7:28) Materix, definition of awesome asks: How is the NPC population expected to function within the PU? Will all the NPC’s (90% of PU population) exist within the universe constantly with their movements and actions tracked in a limited fashion? Will they be randomly generated as players enter instances/zones? How will this calculate into the economy and mission system? [Erris]

We actually have a full Universe simulation that runs… we actually don’t need it to run on any particular bank of servers. It just actually runs on one server, and it simulates about 20 million AI agents. It simulates the AI agents in a very sort of high-level manner. Ok, you’ve got a mission, you’re going to go from here to here, so it’s not simulating it on the fidelity level that you would do when you’re actually connected to the game and flying around and doing combat maneuvers or flying from point to point, it’s simulating it more in the – here’s the jobs, here’s the missions, here’s the market demand, here’s the things that are happening – ok, you’ve taken a mission to take these goods from planet A to planet B, so you’ve now taken that job off the market. Now you’re going to go from planet A to planet B, so that’s just a line trace, that trip’s going to take, say, whatever it would be, a day of game time, and then along the way there’s a chance that you could fight or run into some pirates, and if they do we resolve that combat. If you’re not there, kind of more like a dice roll, but if you are there, in the area, this all gets sort of created, spawned in where you are – you will see the result, the actual combat will end up getting spawned in, and you’ll see it play out, and the result of it will be fed back to the Universe server simulation. So the Universe simulation keeps track of all the NPC’s. It’s the one that’s dealing with the goods and the markets, the economy nodes, so on various planets there’ll be things that produce, things that consume, so there’s sort of a very high-level meta AI that’s running on the economy simulation. And from that high-level simulation we can track the sort of movement, the populations, the progress of AI, in a sort of much higher-level, abstracted way, and of course since that doesn’t need to be real time, like you flying around, we can time slice it, which is why we can simulate so many agents. So, we’re not having to do 20 million agents at 30fps at all, so you can update every single agent maybe every 5 minutes, or every 10 minutes, and that’s how you can manage so many of them. In the time scale the Universe happens, it doesn’t need to be the same sort of fidelity that we do on the game server, which is, that’s the one where, in Arena Commander now, if you connect and dogfight with someone, the game server is what’s sort of running you and the other clients running, and it’s worrying about simulating where the bullets are, and all the ins and outs of the high fidelity flight and the combat. So, essentially the NPC population is mostly simulated. I think that, on some level, we don’t necessarily simulate every individual person on a planet, so like a planet would say, okay, here’s your general population, and that general population where missions have to happen could spawn certain number of bounty-hunters, or a certain number of traders or haulers or cargo folks. And then they will take their missions and then that particular ship… we sort of simulate the ships, and the missions that are happening on an individual basis, and then when you’re on the planet, there’ll be a setup of here’s the population going up and down, is it things going well on the planet, then if so, more people are arriving there, population’s getting bigger, it’s expanding, if things aren’t doing so well, it’d be the [opposite] one.

But it’s a pretty decent, high-level simulation, and that information is then fed to the system servers and the game servers, and that will help determine, when you’re flying around, whether or not you will encounter NPC’s or not, and whether those NPC’s are fighting each other, in conflict, or what’s happening. So, one of the cool things is, we’ll have a living breathing world happening, irrelevant of how many actual players are playing. So, there could be only one person playing in the Star Citizen Universe – I mean I hope to god not – but if there was, there would still be a living, breathing Universe, people going about their daily lives, trading, being Pirates, being bounty hunters, being miners, all of that sort of stuff. So I think when that all comes online and comes together, I think it’ll be very cool. We currently have the Universe Simulation happening on a server, and we have an interface where there’s the communication of kind of what you would, this is the kind of thing you would see if you’re in this area, and that’s all in progress so…

Yeah, I think it will work quite well. Alright. Next question is from…

  1. (12:38) (TAC) BuzZz Killer asks: Now the the SQ42 shoot is “in the can”, how will our characters communicate during the campaign? Will we have a selection of voices we can choose from? Will we only speak through text? Or, will we just be the silent protagonist, as the original Saints Row and the early Grand Theft Auto games?  [Erris]

No, you will definitely not be a silent protagonist. So, we shot the whole SQ42 with someone playing the player, and we recorded their voice, and we recorded what their face is doing. We have plans, because you can choose who you’re going to be, you can choose whether you’re a male or a female, you can actually choose what you look like, so we have a whole bunch of base heads or faces that you can sort of choose and blend between, so you can sort of customize your look to how you want to look, whether you’re male or female. And then we are going to do additional voice work beyond the default player character that we recorded. We’ll do a female PC, and I’m also toying with the idea of having some localized, even localized accents, so imagine if you were playing the game, and you’ve got an English IP address, and we use the English voice pack for the player instead of the American voice pack, if you’re in America. Don’t know about that, but that’s one of the ideas, and I think it’d be pretty cool to sort of personalize that. And of course if we did that you’d be able to choose if you want to have an English accent when you’re in America, or an Australian accent, or whatever it would be. But you’ll definitely hear yourself speak, and think. And if you cut out to a third person, you’d be able to see your mouth, your face. We captured the players face in the same sort of fidelity that we’ve been doing all the other actors, so it’s going to be pretty awesome. So there you go.

  1. (14:14) The Snowed One asks: What have you liked and not liked so far in regards to community generated content? What would you will like to see (or see more of) the the general community creating for Star Citizen? [Erris]

Well, to be honest with you I don’t think I’ve seen anything I haven’t liked. I’m pretty impressed by the amount of stuff that everyone does, so, just the level of like fiction that people write, things like doing their own comic strips, the sort of machinima stuff that’s been pretty awesome, and there’s some really great stuff that various people out there have been doing. You know, doing videos showing off the game, showing off features, that’s all super cool. It’s really cool seeing people build their own 3D printed ships of our ships, it’s very cool people building their own sort of spaceship models and components and guns… the next great starship was something that we tried to highlight a while ago, and I’d like to try to get back to, but I’m just constantly floored by the sort of investment the community has in sort of building the world up, and that’s always the things I like best, is all the sort of in-fiction stuff, so, we get great recruitment posters for the UEE navy and all that stuff is super super cool. I will say that, long-term goal is to actually have more, try and get some tools in there for some of the community generated content, cause right now it’s really the people that kind of know CryEngine and they know how to strip the assets out of our builds and they use it, and there was a group of modders already built their own version of Pirate Swarm, which was pretty cool. But what I’d like to do is have proper tools so, a longer term thing would be to provide some tools to allow people to do some of that inside the game in a more formal setting. Obviously, that’s… certain things we need to get out first, but that’s actually something that I’m pretty keen on because I think, at the end of the day, there’s a lot of creativity out there, and it’s hard for us to keep up with how much everyone out there wants to consume stuff, so it’d be fun and helpful to have some of you guys out there being able to also generate some stuff that people could enjoy and play. So that will be a sort of longer-term focus for us. So, I guess, check back for more updates on that in the future.

  1.  (16:41) Holo-san Voidrax asks: How will the multi-crew system handle ship inertia? Will the local physics grid add forces to the procedural animation depending on the character’s position in the ship, acceleration vectors, centrifugal force, etc?  [Nelerath]

That is something that we are definitely going to simulate long term, the very first iteration of the mutli-crew ship setup probably won’t have that the way I want it at the moment. So I have a plan that when like Star Trek style if you get hit you know everyone can stagger like this. Or you know you have to in the bigger ship take a big turn. You know people would like move and have some force that way. And so there is some of the stuff that we’ve been doing which is directly related to what we’re doing for the zero-G stuff and the grab and pull stuff that will allow the systems to do that. Where we can cycle through like if a ship gets a hit on the side and it’s a big hit we can cycle through all the players or characters inside the ship and anything that’s loose and apply an impulse to all of them the same way the impulse would be hitting the ship that you’re inside. And then they should procedurally all react to that. I mean there’s already some stuff that’s in the CryEngine that we’re working with, like procedural hit reactions. It’s kind of like that side but I would love it to be you have that Star Trek stagger and someone reaches out and braces themselves on the bulkhead. So we’re definitely going to be putting that in. First draft of the multi-crew probably won’t, cause that’s sort of that extra level of sort of animation and simulation detail. But that’s definitely going to be going in not hopefully too far after just the base multi-crew because I think that’ll sort of give a real sense of like the speed and inertia, what’s happening on the ship. So if you it normally and you’re not doing crazy evasive maneuvers it’s all fine but the moment you have to like do a crazy evasive maneuver then you know people get thrown around a little bit just the same way you see in a classic sub movie. So that’ll be super cool.

  1.  (18:40) Scout asks: Hi Chris, Multi-crew is most appealing part of star citizen game play for me. A somewhat obscure game called Artemis has done a great job of this by granting each member of the ships crew an interesting and involving role and at the same time making them very reliant on the input from their shipmates. How does Star Citizen plan to implement multi-crew in a compelling way? [Dolvak]

Well I think that the answer is pretty much the same way. We are looking at various different stations and seats around the multi-crew ships. We will show off some of it in a limited fashion at Gamescom. But you are going to have your helm, your sort of radar scanning, your engineering section, obviously people in things like turrets to protect and we are going to have specific gameplay that’s there so when you are working with your other shipmates manning the ship whether it’s tracking things or protecting the ship or fixing things or balancing shields at the whole shield station we sort of have for the multi-crew. So essentially if you and your friends are working together, we will allow you to do a lot more to control the things with a lot more fidelity. If you are flying a ship by yourself then doing things like adjusting your power or adjusting your shields while aiming while flying while adjusting the throttle – it’s a lot of stuff to do at once so if that gets distributed between different crew members on a multi-crew ship you will be able to do those things more effectively. So we are definitely building it that way. There will be short term chat but long term we’re looking for VoIP between the different players, so you can be talking to your friends.  In the short term I’m pretty sure everyone will be using TeamSpeak and stuff like that. But yeah if you have seen those starship simulators, there are a few of them out there, we will have similar gameplay although it will be real time and at much higher fidelity and it will be pretty cool.

  1. (20:51) Col. Shaggy asks: Will Squadron 42 have any difficulty settings for people like me who quite frankly suck at dogfighting, but still want to check out the story.  [StormyWinters]

I’m pretty sure that we’re going to have some level of difficulty setting. The usual easy, hard, insane kinda stuff. To be honest with you, I haven’t really figured out the variations of the mode but they usually normally revolve around, quite how accurate or how tough the AI are. So, we’ll have an easier mode although I don’t want to make it too easy because I sorta feel like modern games have gotten away from what made games in the old days sorta work, cause if nothing’s a challenge to achieve then there’s no satisfaction from finishing it. So, that’s one of the things I sorta appreciated with Demon’s Souls when I played it quite a few years ago. I was like, ‘Oh, I remember this’ because I had been playing all these games that were sort of the typical first person or the cover shooters and you die, you respawn within 2 seconds of where you died. There was no penalty for messing up or not doing stuff right and Demon’s Souls there definitely was a penalty, very frustrating at times, but it kept me playing. When I finished a level and killed the boss, I was very proud of myself and that’s one of the few games I played to completion and then again, that’s saying a lot for me. I definitely put a lot of time into it so I’m not necessarily saying it will be as hard as Demon’s Souls but I definitely want it to be like the Wing Commanders where you have to complete your mission before you went on, you couldn’t sort of go save every two steps which you can in some of the modern games. I kinda feel like you don’t want it to be a fully nanny state where you’re always going to take care of people so you need to run this balance between not being too frustrating but also be challenging enough that you’re happy and satisfied when you do it. So, we’ll probably have a mode to make things easier but you’ll still have to finish things to move on, progress to the next level. So, there you go.

  1. (23:01) Moose asks: Will there be floating debris fields of scrap metal for salvagers – akin to asteroid fields, will salvage opportunities only be spun up after particular battles, or both? Will there be a salvage deep dive document in the future?   [Dolvak]

So there will definitely be debris fields you can salvage and there will just be some that will be seeded out there similar to asteroid fields – maybe a space battle from long ago and maybe there is some cool derelict stuff you can find and salvage and there will definitely be the opportunity to have space battles happen, if you come across it or you are there on the edges that you can recover a whole bunch of the salvage scrap and items then. So those are all sort of specific and focused gameplay that we want to do for the salvaging. We think it will be pretty cool for the Reclaimer. Will there be a salvage deep dive document in the future? Well I don’t know, we will have to ask Tony that. So the salvage is sort of Tony’s plate.  If you’ve read his stuff or heard him talk, he doesn’t know how to do anything but a deep dive. So there very well could be a document on salvage in the future. We generally want to have a design overview of the main roles and game features that you can do in the game. I would say yep in the future, can’t promise it will be in the next month or two but that’s definitely something we would want to do. I would think probably – we would probably have that kind of document when we first debut the Reclaimer for people to use in big world.

  1. (24:45) AragornBH asks: Hello Chris, CIG has said in the past that ships will require maintenance due to deterioration. Does that mean that the ships in my hangar will degrade due to time even if they are not being flown, or does this only happen if they are actively being used? Also, does this phenomenon apply to handheld weapons, clothes, space helmets, shipping containers, decorative hangar objects, etc? [Nelerath]    

So, yes ships will require maintenance.  We’re going to try and have them the same way they are in the real world. That you have to maintain them, you have to sort of keep them in good working order. But that will be mostly due to operational. So if you keep them in your hangar where other than the fact that you may keep something in your hangar for a couple of years and now it’s an outdated model. We’re not really going to have it deteriorate there. But if you take it out on missions, it’s flying, stuff is getting inside combat, then it will have some level of sort of deterioration. We’ve got a whole sort of blend layer setup for wear and tear. So over time you’ll start to see more wear and tear and then you can bring it into a repair shop or so on and pay them some credits and they will sort of buff it back out to new. Maybe not 100% new but you know fairly close to it. And that will also apply to using hand weapons. Hand weapons, clothes, you as a character, everything will sort of age with use.

  1. (26:00) Voodoo asks: Now that CryEngine 3.8.1 is out and finally supports Linux and OpenGL, will we be lucky enough to see a Linux client in the not too distant future?  [Erris]

Yes, CryEngine 3.8.2 is out actually, as of the other day. We would very much want to make Linux work. I think there’s some issues in the openGL side of things, cause we’ve done some work and customization on the graphics drivers and the shaders, so that would probably need some support. We already compile the game in Linux, because all our servers run Linux, so we compile CryEngine to Linux, but yeah, I would like to have a Linux client, and it really depends on the timeline of getting openGL implementation they have on CryEngine and making sure it supports the extra additions we’ve done inside Star Citizen. So, that’s really down on our graphics and engine department, and they’re pretty busy right now, working on some stuff that I think a lot of people would be excited to see. And, one of them is obviously DX12, so I don’t think that I can think I can say this is going to happen in the next month or two, but it’s definitely something we would want to do. OpenGL is something we’re interested in, as well as DX 12 and stuff like that, so I would say, in the not too distant, but not too close, future. How about that.


Alright, that is the end of the 10 questions. Thank you for listening. As always, thank you to subscribers for enabling us to be able to do this, and thank you to everyone who’s backed the game out there for backing and believing and enabling us to build a game of such unbridled ambition, and I’m looking forward to seeing those of you that are going to come visit us in GamesCom, at the event we’re doing the Friday, I’m looking forward to meeting you guys, I’m sure I’ll be meeting and seeing people I’ve been seeing at all the GamesCom events, which is great, it’s like, good old friends. And also, for the people that can’t make it, we’re going to Livestream it, so that’ll be fun, so be sure to tune in for that. I think we’ve managed to get faster internet at the actual venue this time. Generally, our livestream problems haven’t necessarily been because we don’t know how to livestream, it’s mostly because we go to these venues and they tell us the internet is a certain speed, and we get in there, and it turns out the internet is a 10th of the speed, and a lot of the livestream hardware just basically blows up when it doesn’t have enough throughput. So, we’ve I think paid extra money to upgrade it again. We’ve been promised it’s good. We’ll test it out before we’re there, hopefully it’ll hold up, unlike some of the other venues we’ve been at, and we’ll be able to stream the event.

And hopefully you guys will like it. So, probably won’t have one of these for the following week, cause I’ll be over in Europe doing Gamescom stuff, but I’ll pick it up as soon as I’m back. See you guys later!



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