Chris Roberts is back on 10 for the Chairman this week, check out The Relay’s transcript.
Transcript by CanadianSyrup, Shiver Bathory, Stormy Winters, Psylence, Desmarius, Azwethinkweiz
[2:12] Q: What are the plans to make future patches smaller and more efficient?
A: Work has started on a patching system that will only download exactly the files you need. Currently you download an entire archive in one go, this future system will only download files that have changed and are needed from a central online data depository.
[5:30] Q:Are NPCs going to be generated randomly based environment and parameters in an area?
A: They will be generated based off of the universe simulation which calculates using both player and NPC actions.
[9:27] Q: How important is positioning relative to an opponent’s in Star Citizen’s flight model, and is it affected by 6DOF?
A: Positioning is always important in Star Citizen which implements pilot skill and ship characteristics.
[10:47] Q: Can we expect to see ship-to-ship docking technology sooner than later?
A: Docking technology is not that difficult to implement from a technical standpoint. Resources have been allocated to higher priority items, but docking technology is on the list.
[12:50] Q: Can we have an authentic audio option for space? I.E. No sound in vacuum.
A: Short term no. Longer term maybe, there’s other distant goals with more priority.
[14:24] Q: Within restraints of technology, how will personally owned NPCs be used for fleets?
A: The hard figures and rules are still in development, but it will provide support without compromising game balance or performance.
[15:50] Q: What will in game farming achieve? Can I farm animals?
A: You can add bio-domes to the Endeavour to farm crops you may not normally be able to farm on planets. Either due to low gravity or being a specific distance from the system’s sun. Livestock may be added in the long term but it will likely only be vegetation based farming for the immediate future.
[17:19] Q: Are you seeking guidance from people in the field when it comes to designing planets and procedural tech?
A: They consult with people at UCLA when they have an idea in mind about a certain kind of planet and consult about where it would be most fitting to go , then they add in factors like in game lore and gameplay before deciding on a planet’s location. There will be a small amount of things like an ‘ice planet’ and a ‘jungle planet’ mixed with a combination of real life science.
[19:47] Q: Has CIG had a chance to look at Vulkan since its release? Will it be supported alongside DirectX 12?
A: It has been looked at, and both API’s are under review no final decision has been made.
[20:50] Q: What hobbies do you(CR) wish you could continue?
A: CR plays tennis. Used to play football/soccer, and do Napoleonic wargames.
Chris Roberts (CR): Hello, welcome to another episode of 10 for the Chairman. For those of you who haven’t watched this before this is where I take 10 questions from our subscribers. Our subscribers are the subset of our community that contribute money every month to enable us to do all of our enhanced community content.
This show, Around the ‘Verse, all the other ones we do like, Bug Smashers, Jump Point which is this 40-70 page behind the scenes magazine that we publish digitally, monthly that goes into the details on how we design the ships, game design, plus lore and we have fiction in it so it’s really quite a cool read. It has lots of sort of details of behind the scenes and that’s all made possible by the subscribers that are contributing the money that really keeps our community team and enhanced community stuff going which I think it makes a difference to Star Citizen and it’s one of the reasons why we’re able to update you guys and connect all the time and I think it makes for a really great development environment.
Thank you very much to subscribers for that and as part that deal I try to answer 10 questions from them every week when I’m able to shoot this show, which isn’t always the case because this year I mentioned on a couple previous shows that I’ll be back and forth between here and Europe quite a lot.
Obviously we have teams around the world and infact we have more people now in Europe now than we do in the US and we’ve got a lot going on, Squadron 42 obviously and then of course what we’re doing with SC Alpha Live which we just went to the 2.2 version and now everyone’s sort of coming down off that. There will be a few little cleanup and fixes on that, but everyone is focusing on 2.3 which is the next major patch that is also bringing some pretty cool new functionality … It never stops in the world of Star Citizen, anyways let’s get to the 10 questions.
First one comes from …
[2:12] Starripper asks: Are there any plans to stream line the patch sizes? I am on the road a lot and use my cellular data to update Star Citizen, the updates ear up a lot of gigs right now especially when there are multiple patches.
So yes absolutely. We have a plan, in fact I sat down earlier this week which would be the previous week to you seeing this as we’re recording this on a Friday and you’re going to watch this on a Monday. But yeah I think we have a really cool plan that’s very configured to our new development paradigm.
Not saying new for us, but the new paradigm of what we’re doing which is constantly building, testing, deploying both internally and then externally to, you guys in the community at first level the Public Test Universe the PTU then of course to live and so we needed a solution that we can can be building rapidly and iterating rapidly and getting it to you as efficiently as possible. And our current one is not the best because it has these big monolithic PAK files and each PAK file is two gigs and there’s quite a few of them and if one file changes in it, you have to rebuild the whole PAK file and the way our build system works with all the data is we have to rebuild all the data into the PAK files right now, which essentially means we spend about three hours if we do a full build about an hour if we just do a code build.
But that’s a huge amount, so it’s problematic in terms of getting that done and then testing it instead of there’s an issue then you have to go back. So we want a solution that’s much more flexible and iterative and we also want one that means we’re not saturating everyone’s bandwidth. Cause it’s not just on you guys side but it’s also on our side. Every byte we push costs us money ‘cause it’s coming off the Amazon CDN that we’re using. So we have a plan that I think is much cooler, smarter one that is all built all around incremental builds of both data and code as soon as it’s assimilated into the code base and all the individual files are tagged and held in a huge object store and the patch will know what to pull down and what changed.
So even if you’ve changed a couple of files no longer will we be pulling down a whole new two gig object PAK or something like that. It will just be pulling down the specific files, it will also allow them to version back and forth between them. So there’s a really really cool plan it’s going to be done by combination of DevOps team in Austin and the folks in the Frankfurt office and Turbulent are all putting this together and building and it’s going to be super cool!
Not going to be deployed tomorrow. I just signed off on the whole design, we’ve laid a lot of the groundwork but a lot of it is going to take some time and testing but when it comes online it’s going to make a massive difference for our ability to turn around builds for you guys quickly and also to reduce the amount of data that we saturate both our CDN and you guys on your bandwidth limits. So i’m pretty excited by that it will just allow us to be more flexible and more nimble which is good. So next question
[5:30] Narcoman asks: Aside from shopkeepers, quest-givers, and other NPCs considered essential in other games, are NPCs in a given area going to be generated randomly based on the current environment and the parameters set in the area?
CR: So what’s going to happen is that we have a universe simulation that runs on a separate server. That’s much more of a big picture simulation. Think of it kind of like a Civilization game or something like that. Sort of a slower turn based game. That actually is simulating the universe, what all the NPCs are doing, on a macro basis. Who’s trading with what? What’s producing what? What goods are needed where? Where pirates are attacking? The sort of general outcomes of those results are all happening on the universe simulation and it’s own process. Then that is getting trickled down to the local game servers that all the players (i.e. you guys), are attaching to and playing in. The snapshot of what’s happening on the universe server is sort of carried across the game server.
What would happen is, for instance, if you were down on a planet it would say, “Okay, well this planet is a mining planet and, you know, so I’ll generate and the population is this size; therefore, we’ll probably populate the landing area with ‘X’ number of NPCs, 60% of them will be miners, and then we’ll have some, law enforcement, and you know we’ll have some service workers in the bars and stuff like that.” It will all be generated by the data that’s pulled down, or pushed down, from the universe server, so it will dynamically change.
If a place becomes… turns on hard luck times or whatever and there starts to be unemployment or people start moving off world to go somewhere else to seek jobs, and the population is lowered, then you’ll see less people in the landing area. Perhaps the mine shuts down so then you won’t really see miners anymore. Maybe the criminal element will increase because there’s nothing to be done in that area where you can be gainfully employed so people are turning to crime.
So what’s gonna happen is there’s going to be a loose, fuzzy, connection to what’s happening on the universe simulation with what you actually see when you’re moving around personally in the game. It will change with what happens in the universe. Of course what happens in the universe is influenced by what players also do in the game as well. So the AI meta actions are all handled on the server and then the player actions are simulated in those local game instances. Like for instance, you guys connect to Crusader right now, and results from that will be pushed back up to the universe server and then that will effect things like pirate count and some stuff like that.
If there’s pirates preying on a cargo run between two planets, say they’re AI pirates, then the company that’s not getting the goods because the pirates keep attacking its shipments hires some bounty hunters (i.e. you the players), to go after the pirates in the area or take them out. You do and you go and kill the pirates that are there, the 20 pirates or whatever, then that gets pushed back up to the universe simulator and the universe simulator says, “Okay, let me kill the 20 pirates.” If that kills all the pirates on the universe simulator, when you go back and fly that area back on the local game server instance, no longer will pirates be a potential spawning encounter because there’s no pirates in that area anymore whereas before there were.
So that’s kinda how the connection happens between the game and the universe simulation and I think that it should be pretty cool and be pretty dynamic. So you will definitely feel impact from overall… macro movements and player influence. You should sort of feel places change with time depending on what’s happening in the universe, so it should be cool.
[9:27] Krel asks: Within the context of fantasy space flight (Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, etc) and given how you’re implementing the flight model in Star Citizen, how do you see the importance of positioning relative to an opponent playing out? Should there be an advantage to getting on your target’s ‘six’ and staying there, or is that pretty much negated by 6DOF flight?
I will say that in all circumstances even with 6DOF and the ability to do lateral, horizontal and vertical strafing as well as being able to change your orientation and maybe now your velocity vector, which is sort of the decoupled stuff. Always getting behind someone or in their blind side is always a bit of an advantage.
Now the difference in our system and flight model. If you’re a good pilot you’ll be able to be able to get out of that situation. You’ll have more options than you do in regular atmospheric air combat maneuvering.
But obviously you want to get behind someone because they can’t bring their guns, most guns are forward facing, also visibility is usually forward facing. So, outside of the bigger ships with turrets then getting behind people or swarming in a dogfight usually will give you an edge or an advantage even if they can recover from it quicker than they can in traditional current day atmospheric air combat.
[10:47] J. Stalker asks: We already have a flyable Constellation and a flyable P-52 Merlin. How far are we from a workable tech for docking and undocking? Is this something we can expect in the near future -or is this a functionality planned further down the line
I really want to actually get the p-52 and the constellation to work together cause they are meant to work together. It’s probably something we’ll start to work on with Craig Grounsoll who’s done the sort of landing systems. Still got some landing system stuff that he’s wrapping up for Squadron 42, and some enhancements for star citizen, and this will probably be the next task to get this working.
It’s not that difficult. Basically you just kind of want to get, it’s just like the landing system really. You get in a certain area and you say “ok, dock” and we just sort of bring you in and connect you, and the merlin would be attached to the constellation, and then hopefully you get out and should just be able to enter into the back of the Constellation.
So I do want to get it moving ‘cause it’s actually not that difficult, technically, to get working. It’s really just people have had a whole bunch of other things they are working on first. For instance, you know, we, ah haven’t shown it yet, but you know we have an Idris flying around and you can land inside it, and take off inside it, and walk around it, and it’s pretty cool.
So, that was sort of the higher priority, and we’ve still got some to do on the bigger ships in terms of building it out, like we have this object contain system which we detailed in our February monthly report that just came out, and you know that’s kind of how, well, all the future sort of big stuff like big space ships or space stations and, you know, even the landing areas will be taken care of.
It’s sort of like containers of geometry and objects and stuff that can be nested inside each other, and sort of stream in and out depending on the situation, and that’s how we’ll bring in the interiors of the bigger ships and stuff like that. So we’re doing that but obviously trying to have a dockable Merlin with a Constellation is, you know, on our list.
[12:50] Mediocrates asks: Will there be a realistic audio option e.g. No sound in a vacuum, so you just hear stuff hitting your ship as the muffled sound travels through the structure, and lasers/photons are soundless?
So short term absolutely no. Not because, we’ve sort of gone for the sort of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica route where we have sound because generally that’s kind of cool even though it’s maybe not quite as realistic.
Longer term I could see the sound department getting to the end of all the features we want them to implement and do sort of a realistic sound simulation option which I won’t be against, I would just prefer to finish up a bunch of other stuff like, the music system. We’ve now got our 2.0 Music System and this sort of positional Voice Over IP that we want to do. So when you’re in a group on a ship I can talk and you’ll hear me and if I’m in front of you you’ll hear my voice coming from the front, if I’m behind you’ll hear me coming from behind, my voice will be filtered if I’m speaking through a helmet, etc, etc, all those things. So all of that’s sort of ahead of the queue than doing stuff of the realistic space sound option, but I wouldn’t rule it out longer term because we have a pretty talented audio department and they’ve been doing some pretty awesome stuff both on the sound creation, but also on the simulation, programming side.
Okay next question comes from.
[14:24] Nimryl asks: What is your intent in regards to personally owned NPC’ed fleets? Is it your intent to add as many controllable NPCs as possible per person if the technology allows?
We definitely are going to allow you to hire some NPCs to help you crew a bigger ship or perhaps fly as an escort for you when you’re running a mission or perhaps fly a transport for you, but we’re probably going to cap that to a certain number. We haven’t decided yet, because we haven’t really gotten into that.
We still got obviously a lot of performance things to figure out. Like how many NPCs we can have running in the same area or instance as well as how many players can run in the same area or instance. So, we wouldn’t want to have an infinite amount for people doing in there. There’s a certain level you don’t want to have that cause it can become incredibly unbalanced. So, I don’t have a great answer for that right now, but I would say it not going to be as many as theoretically you could allow. There will be some level of cap on it, but it will be what would make sense for you to have some help in the cases you need and, perhaps different things would have different amounts.
So, if you have an Idris then you and some friends need to fly but you also need a bit of a crew and that could maybe have a few more NPCs in that situation than you would if you were hiring individual NPCs to fly escorts. So, you couldn’t have 10 NPCs flying 10 Hornets for instance. But we haven’t come up with the actual numbers because obviously it needs balancing for both game play reasons and performance reasons.
[15:50] Captain Awesome asks: So the Endeavor has bio-domes. What will be the point of farming? And will there be bacon farming?
CR: Well the point of farming will be the biodomes will allow you to grow agriculture, crops and you’ll be able to sell those probably for a premium. So the idea would be bio-domes on the Endeavour are growing things you couldn’t necessarily grow on a planet. Then you can maybe sell for a premium, whatever it will be. I’m sure lots of people will go “Space weed!”. But there’ll be plenty of other things too.
So it’s a sort of farming mechanic so you would have that in space. You would maintain it like perhaps you would have to take the, your ship would have to be a certain distance from the local system star or you may have to fend for it make sure it’s grown in perhaps the lower gravity setup, makes you able to grow a better strain of whatever it would be: wheat, etc. So there you go.
I don’t know about bacon farming. Bacon farming I’m guessing is: ok we’re going to have pigs or cows or something like that. I would think at some point we may do livestock but I would definitely say in the first iteration or two we probably won’t do it just ‘cause of the issues of: ok now i’ve got a bio-dome full of 20 cows or something. But longer term we may but short term it will probably be much more vegetation or plant based, that you would have to farm. Farm, so a little Farmville so to speak.
[17:19] Coryphaeus asks: I would like to know more about the procedural tech. You’ve talked about consulting linguists for alien languages, are you talking to exobiologists, exoplanetologists, and exo-climatologists for direction and help in designing the ecosystems and climates of alien planets?
CR: That’s a good question. I, we have done a certain amount of working with a local school here in L.A. actually. So UCLA we’ve been dealing with some astrophysicists and their ilk, in terms of laying out our star systems and what kind of planets would be what distance from the stars. That dictates the type of planet. To a certain extent what we do is we say “Well we want this kind of planet”. Then we talk to the folks that really know and say “So what situation could we potentially get this planet in?”. And they’ll say “Well then maybe it needs to be this distance, this many Au from the star and …”.
And that’s so how we on a macro side have been doing the star system map and some of that will filter into the procedural tech. But it’s still early days on the, kind of figuring out the ecosystems of the planets and the weather patterns and all the rest of the stuff. I would guess that we would tend to go a little bit more towards a designed approach where it’s like taking a look at Hoth. It’s an ice planet and it’s cool, but is the whole planet covered in snow or is it..I mean it certainly looks like when you watch the movie. Would that be realistic? Would there ever be life on a planet like that? Maybe, maybe not I don’t know.
But you very much define the planets like, using my Star Wars reference here: Hoth is the ice planet, Tatooine is like a desert planet and so you got, you go to the Dagobah system and it’s all like this swampy jungle thing. Very much in Star Wars they focus the planets to feel like it’s a type, it’s a jungle, or it’s an ice planet, or it’s a desert planet.
So we’ll probably do a little bit of that, maybe not quite as much of that. But we’ll definitely do some of that, ‘cause I think it really helps in terms of identifying the planets and stuff. So there’ll be a combination of a little bit of science and what we think fiction or lore wise, kind of gameplay wise would help. So there you go. A little bit of it, but not a massive amount.
[19:47] Kyran asks: Now that Vulkan is officially released, has the Frankfurt team had the chance to dive in to see about supporting this API alongside DirectX 12?
CR: We have looked at Vulkan, we’re pretty excited by it. So we are considering our options between Vulkan and DirectX 12 we haven’t made a full decision. But Vulkan has some advantages, the biggest one being, as long as it works properly that it can work on a PC but also work on Linux and work on other platforms, where as DirectX 12 is specifically just for Windows. They are both very similar architectures, essentially Vulkan’s not that different from what Mantle was originally set up to be. So we’re considering it. You never know whether we will do DirectX 12 or Vulkan first.
Steve posted for that one!
[20:50] Augustus Kron asks: What hobbies (outside of Star Citizen) are you struggling to keep up with over the past couple of years?
Yeah there isn’t much life outside of Star Citizen, unfortunately, it’s tough. I would say the few things I get to do, I like playing tennis. That’s a sport I played when I was young and I still do it, and it’s good for exercise. I don’t actually play football, or soccer to everyone in America, anymore. I used to. That was, unfortunately, about 30-40 pounds ago and there may be a correlation between not playing football and getting older. I still watch it a lot. I’m from Manchester, and I’ve always supported Manchester United. I watch Premiership games over here in America, and when I’m in the UK, I watch them there or actually go to some live games.
That, play some games, or try to play some games when I got a little bit of spare time. That’s really hard. See some movies, obviously a big movie fan. That’s pretty much it. I don’t really have much time to do many other things than that. Maybe once Star Citizen is done, then I’ll take a lot of time off and get back into some of my hobbies. For instance, I think I’ve shown off my little miniature Napoleonic figures from when I used to war game.
I haven’t… Ever since I started doing Wing Commander onwards, I haven’t had a chance to do things, like gaming, the same way I used to do a long time ago. It all takes time. I actually used to think when I went to school, “I can’t wait till I’m not going to school, and have all this time to do these other things.” I look back on it and realize that, when I was actually going to school, I had lots of time for hobbies and now I don’t have that much time, but c’est la vie.
So there you go. That’s the end of my answers for 10 For the Chairman. Thank you, guys, for listening. Hopefully, some of the answers were informative and useful for you guys. Thank you to all the subscribers that enable us to put together content like this and all the other stuff that we do here for Star Citizen at Roberts Space Industries.
And thank you to all the backers, ‘cause without all you guys contributing and supporting the project, we wouldn’t be where we are now. It’s pretty monumental, but it’s enabling us to building something that I don’t think anyone would have ever conceived you could build, and certainly no publisher would have ever dreamed of doing. We aren’t there yet, but we’re getting there. I think you can sort of see the progress. There’s more and more features and gameplay coming online on Star Citizen Alpha, you know, 2.x live.
As we go and this year, there’ll be a lot of stuff that comes online that I think will really sort of add to the experience. But even right now, sort of in 2.1, now 2.2, there’s just –there’s a lot of cool immersion gameplay that’s happening. There will be more of that happening and I think we’re building something that, long term’s, gonna be…. Well it’s the game I wanna play, and I think it’s the game, hopefully, a lot of you guys wanna play. So, anyway, ‘til next time. Talk to you later.