It’s a special episode of 10 for the Chairman. What could it be? Check it out inside.
Transcript by CanadianSyrup, Shiver Bathory, Stormy Winters, Sunjammer, WangPhat, Desmarius
[0:58] Q: What are your jobs and responsibilities in your role with CIG?
A: A lot of travelling around to the different offices to manage and make sure they are running smoothly. Erin is also in charge of the UK studio and runs Foundry there as well as some responsibilities in the Frankfurt office which falls under the Foundry 42 wing.
[2:18] Q: How much of the Shubin Mining Platform’s interior will we be able to explore in SQ42?
A: Lots! There’s lots of different rooms, areas, manufacturing plants and the like. There’s different landing platforms, different places to enter and lots of stuff to do inside.
[3:25] Q: Is Squadron 42’s feature-list final? Will there be any additions or removals?
A: It is finalized what’s going into Squadron 42. It is known exactly what’s going to be in the game, there will be no more rounds of cuts. We’ve had that known since last year. There is also shooting in a few weeks to catch any missing footage they need.
[4:41] Q: Could you explain the differences in your and Chris’ roles within the same company, while pointing out the benefits and challenges of working with your brother?
A: Chris provides a vision and direction and pushes the envelope on technology and design, whereas I offer counterpoints and make the practicalities of his vision a reality via scheduling, logistics, etc.
[6:59] Q: How much will we interact with NPC crew and wingmen?
A: A lot of effort has been put into making sure the AI have roles and really feel alive. NPCs will respond to the way you talk to them on the ship and the way you treat them when on a mission. The target is to make the player feel as attached to NPCs as they can
[8:34] Q: Does the landing zone pipeline benefit from improvements to the ship pipeline? Are landing zones still in development or do they need the procedural technology to be completed first? A: Some of the ways we do things to build ships faster also benefit the environment pipeline. The environment pipeline is designed to be very modular but not to look repetitive. Going forward we will be able to create large, complex and detailed areas for the PU: we’re already doing this for SQ42. The procedural stuff will come online later this year with the new streaming tech.
[10:54] Q: Do you ever find yourself being challenged with a ‘dream big’ mentality vs a ‘be realistic’ mentality?
A: Focused on getting the cores features and some of the smaller things around it. Yes, it’s a big task to work out next steps and focusing it down from there.
[12:53] Q: What will the Squadron 42 team do after the first episode is released?
A: We’ll go out for drinks and then go straight to work on Episode Two. There’s more ships and environments to create along with other elements, but we will be supporting the PU and creating ships for that as well.
[14:11] Q: Has your experience with the Lego series or other past games helped you with CIG at all?
A: Star Citizen is hard to compare anything to, but the work on the Lego series helped teach about scheduling and organisation. But keeping tight to the schedule has been the biggest lesson brought over from previous works.
[16:11] Q: Next major milestone you’re excited about?
A: Getting the Starfarer flyable into your hands. We’re already flying it and look forward to having players fly it in the near future
Persistence is very close. So shopping and buying stuff and will introduce Alpha UEC which allows us to test the currency that will be used in the PU.
Procedural tech integration is coming soon after persistence which will make a huge difference because it’s not just planets, but everything else is affected as well.
Erin Roberts (ER): Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of 10 for the Chairman. I’m filling in for Chris this week. He’s actually in the UK working on Squadron 42 and I’m gonna be in the USA for three weeks, I’m spending a week here in LA and then two weeks in Austin catching up with everybody. I’m working with actually Tony Zurovec and Todd Papy and people who do a bunch of the PU design stuff, discussions over here and so on and so forth. So I’m really looking forward to that. As always I’d like to thank subscribers for making this happen.
Anyways let’s get straight into this with some questions. So first question I got here is from…
[0:58] Josh asks: What do you do on a day to day basis to help keep things moving within CIG and what are your responsibilities as Global Head of Production?
Erin Roberts: So there’s a couple of things I do because there’s one is. Obviously as you say i’m Global Head of Production so that involves a lot more travel in terms of going around the different offices coordinating with the different production faults and making sure we have our plans for what we’re delivering and the different masters not only for Squadron 42 but also on the Persistent Universe there’s a lot of planning and we’re just making sure we have the right resources in the right places and the right, the ownership of which studios and so forth. So there’s a lot of that level of things.
But also I directly run the UK office and so there’s a lot of stuff I do on that side and also when i’m travelling i’m very fortunate to have some very good support staff in the office which keep things moving while i’m away. So there’s basically two levels there’s one that’s a much more global level and there’s also just the, much of a micro level on the office level in the UK. So that’s basically the two different responsibilities that I juggle a lot. As well as the Frankfurt office is actually part of Foundry 42 and although that’s managed by Brian, who does an awesome job over there as well, I have some responsibilities for that side as well.
[2:18] Amontillado asks: We’ve heard that stations like the Shubin Mining Platform in SQ42 are going to be as much as 6 km long. In the baby PU today we have large stations like Port Olisar but can only access much smaller portions on it. How much of Shubin’s interior can we expect to be able to explore in the SQ42?
Lots! Obviously Port Olisar is just a place for you to spawn, get your ships, and move out. In Squadron 42, and also as you’ll see much more space stations and environments come into the Persistent Universe, there will be very huge areas you can run round. And so it won’t be just one or two rooms: it’s actually a huge installation and you can … there’s lots of different rooms, areas, manufacturing plants and so forth within this huge installation. So yes it’s not just like a large external, you know, looks externally large but there’s isn’t much you can do inside. There’s different landing platforms, different places to enter and a lot of stuff to do inside. So yes it’s a huge first person environment inside the stuff in Squadron 42 and also you’ll see that within the Persistent Universe.
[3:25] Daz asks: When Squadron 42 is released do you expect to get all features you hope for into the final release? Or so you see the possibility of either cutting certain nice to have features in for launch or adding not yet available technologies to episode 1 in a later patch?
So, we’ve already been working on that sort of round of what we want put into Squadron 42. So, we’ve known for a while exactly what we’re putting in and we’re working towards that, so there’s no more rounds of cuts or other things we’ll be taking out.
It’s just really just working through exactly what we know we want in the game for the first episode of Squadron 42 and so the plan is we will go with what we have, we will work towards getting that in and have it to you guys obviously as soon as possible. Yeah at the moment, we’ve already had those discussions actually last year in terms of what kind of stuff we were going to take out and what we weren’t and so forth.
So at the moment, we’ve got a very tight plan of exactly what content is going in there and what levels will be like and so forth and also we know exactly what we’re doing with shooting in a few weeks which is just a sort of catchup of stuff we didn’t get in the last one right so in week two we’re doing, just to get the last material and then that’s basically what’s going to go into the game, at the moment, what we have is what we plan to put into the game.
[4:41] Doc asks: Could you explain the difference of your role in the company to that of Chris? Where do you see the challenges and benefits to work with a close family member on the same project?
Chris and I worked together for a lot of years so I’m… obviously I was working with him for 10 years, while Chris was making films and stuff. Obviously in the early days I worked on Wing Commander with him, Strike Commander, Privateer 2, and then of course at Digital Anvil we did Star Lancer and stuff like that as well. So, we’ve got a pretty good working relationship. Obviously we have disagreements about stuff, but at the end of the day I feel we both listen to each other and at the end of the day Chris is the CEO. So if we have a discussion and he wants to go in a certain direction and I can’t convince him, that’s the direction we go, but our relationship in that side of things is really good.
In terms of what we divulge of Chris is very much out there pushing the direction of the project. He’s basically pushing for the stars, he’s really trying to make the best game he can out there. He’s thinking about ways of doing that, what technologies to bring and how we can make that sort of stuff happen.
My job is really just to make sure as all this stuff is getting moved forward and all the ideas are out there. We’re working out which one of these is the priorities, Making sure we’re prioritizing the right staff in the right areas to go work on different things and then work out basically what the next features, the next milestone we’ll have, whether it’s realistic, making sure we get the schedules together so we really can give a good idea to Chris. If he wants a bunch of features in the game and we’ve basically working on it and say, “Well, actually in this timeline you can get like eighty percent of the features you can’t get them all”. So I spend a lot of time doing that as well as making sure that globally we have the right people to get the job done, where do we need to hire people? What studio should be concentrating on what? Where does it make sense for things to happen? Which areas with different people in charge and so forth.
So I’m very much doing… I love design. I’ve directed projects before. I get a kick out of it and when I get to get into design conversations, I really enjoy that. I’ve had a few these last couple of days, but I love my time now. It’s just being spent on just production, just making sure that the juggernaut is Cloud Imperium Games and what we are trying to build and some of the dream we are trying to build for ourselves and for everybody is coming along as fast as it can.
[6:59] Jaricho Wren asks: For SQ42, just how much interaction will we have, if any, with our wingmen or crew before battle scenes, or on the deck? Do you think we will have reason to develop a feeling of camaraderie with our SQ42 shipmates or will they, more or less, be script props?
ER: Well so one of the major things with Squadron 42, which is one big push we’re doing is getting that feeling of making sure that you do have that camaraderie with the people on the ship the people you live with and so forth.
So we’re actually investing a lot of time in making sure that when you walk around, it isn’t just a question of feeling like some guy just say something to you. We’re really working hard on proper interaction. Not just verbal but facial the way people look at you, the way they respond to you, the way you talk to them will reflect the way they talk to back to you. Also just having a system where the people have actual jobs on a ship and jobs are wherever they are.
So if they’re a mechanic you can find them working on the ships at certain time, and then they’ll walk to the mess hall, and they’ll have food, and if you walk up to them they’ll look up and they’ll even look at you, and you can ask them a question and they’ll respond or they may be busy. It’s all these things. I know we actually invested a lot of time and a lot of the tech in the AI side and you probably heard the word subsumption used. Which is basically our system for making our characters come alive. And the way you talk to them and treat them is also the way they’ll respond to you. Whether it’s socially on the ship or whether it’s out there in flight and so forth. So when you’re out there there will be a lot of back and forth and you are, the idea is we really want you to build relationships with your wingmen and the crew around you in the game.
[8:34] Lock Ostrie asks: How is the landing zone pipeline different from the ship pipeline? Are the benefits of the improved ship pipeline process making their way into the landing zone pipeline? Is there even a pipeline for landing zones or are you waiting for procedural planet technology to finish before resuming major work on landing locations on planets?
I think what you are asking here is … when you say “the landing zone pipeline” that’s our environment pipeline and yes, a lot of the ways we are building ships in terms of the way we do stuff, in terms of … we come up with, say on the ship pipeline once we have nailed down what RSI looks like or so forth, then we have a lot of stuff we can use then … that we can reuse that makes us be able to create the ships faster. And it really helps with the larger cap ships in the game because we’ve always got these huge spaces to create.
On the landing zones, so absolutely. The way Ian Leyland, who’s our … is the Art Director in charge of Environments, he works out the UK office … the whole way the pipeline is put together is in a very modular fashion but in a way that doesn’t look repetitive. And so we are building these environments so they can be reused all over the place. So although right now you’re seeing one or two things in terms of the PU, as we go forward we’re going to be able to drop very complex and large, detailed areas in the game. Internal areas, inside space stations, on planets, and just everywhere you go and so forth. And that’s the sort of stuff we’ll be dropping into the game this year and a lot of that … more stuff will be coming out.
And we’re already doing that on the Squadron 42 levels. Right now we have huge FPS levels in Squadron 42 using the basic, smallest kind of stuff. But yes that’s what’s going to happen.
Now the procedural stuff as you mention will be coming online very soon which will tie in with the new streaming tech that we’re using. And that will allow us, not only to have these environments, but also then place them within procedurally created, either planets or asteroids, and so forth. So we have … create these huge environments and then we’ll have specific areas which are created and molded to suit a purpose. So it’s really cool. But then there will also be a lot of procedural stuff around it. But that stuff will be coming on this year so the answer is “Yes, what we’re doing on ship stuff is going to work for environments and you’re going to see that hopefully very soon”.
[10:54] Belzoth asks: Do you ever find yourself being challenged with a ‘dream big’ mentality vs a ‘be realistic’ mentality? How does that play out for you in your role?
All the time. So, we have obviously a huge list of what we want Star Citizen to be and what we try and do is really work on the different stages of getting us to the stars as it were. So, we spend a lot of time and if you guys saw the size of our design of what we have and all the different levels we have which are just well beyond stuff we even do this year and so forth, and a lot of stretch goals.
We’ve got massive places we’re going to take it and right now we’re really focusing on the fundamentals of getting, especially the Persistent Universe, getting the Stanton system in place, getting the core sort of features such as persistence so you basically can earn money, you can trade, you can do mining and so forth. Those are the first things we’re focusing on, also some of the smaller things around that, like what’s it mean if you do a cargo run, how do you have abilities apparent to intercept cargo, how does that work.
If you’re cargo running and you get dropped out of quantum drive, how can you call for help in the middle of nowhere and so forth. So all these things are the sort of things we answer as we go along, stuff we have designs for but they’re things we’re focusing on now to drop in there so players can really get into this system which the Stanton system is going to be a bigger play environment with more going on then pretty much any game there already. Then we’re going to be dropping in the other systems along with that as well. Yes, it’s always a big task to work out, this is what we want to do and focus it down to what are the next steps. That’s actually what I’ve been spending a lot of time this week in meetings, just working out what are our next steps for the latter half of this year on the Persistent Universe.
[12:53] Rufus Ultra asks: Thanks for you and your team’s work over there in the UK. The Starfarer looks amazing.
Thanks for that. Nate Disley and his team in the UK will be really up to hear that because they’re really proud of it and I’m looking forward to you guys flying that. We’re actually flying it ourselves right now, but you guys should be flying with it very soon, the question is anyway…
What will SQ42 do after the release of the first episode? Heading to the Caribbean and enjoy some cocktails for a month, jump right away on episode two or helping build the PU?
Well I’m sure once Squadron 42 comes out I’m not sure we’ll go to the caribbean, but I’m sure I’ll take the guys for a few drinks that’s for sure, but we will be straight away actually rolling onto episode 2 because we have a bunch more new ships we have to create, new environments we have to put in; we already have the story worked on for what we’re going to do for that so on and so forth so it will be a straight roll onto episode two to get that going.
We also will be supporting the Persistent Universe. A lot of the work we do in Squadron 42 in terms of making stuff work we actually then put into the Persistent Universe as well so they work hand in hand well. Basically that team will roll straight on Squadron 42 stuff as well as creating a bunch more of the PU ships and getting them out to you guys as fast as possible and on the environment side we’ll be doing the same as well.
[14:11] Hyper-X asks: How does the production of SC/SQ42 compare to your previous work on the Wing Commander series, or even the LEGO series? Have those previous experiences affected how you operate in the CIG environment in any way?
ER: Very much so I think probably the one, the biggest effect on me, was probably working on the Lego games. When I was working on them, I worked on the games for close to ten years. We had very tight production deadlines we had to get through.
So we were basically delivering games every four to six months. Which means we had to be very tight in what we’re doing. And the Lego games, that’s quite easy to do because basically you have one set of core tech, you take your franchise whether it’s Star Wars or something else, and you basically then you skin it and you put in one or two new features and then you get it out and you create the game. So it’s pretty well. But what it did teach to do it to be very tight on getting everything in, schedule, JIRA up and so forth.
On Star Citizen, there’s nothing to compare to Star Citizen even games i’ve worked on in the past like Strike Commander, which you know we worked on for a few years and so forth. It was still just a flight simulator there’s a lot of tech going on. But Star Citizen’s not only building the tech up which we have to do, as well as the gameplay to support what we’re doing, which is a massive deal in terms of, getting it from working. We actually spent a lot of time last year getting us to 2.0.
But it’s also just the scope of it all, and we’re trying to build two games: Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. And we’re trying to build a company. And we’re trying to do all these things in one big go. So the basically, it’s very hard to compare anything but I have. But i’ll say with Star Citizen is by far the hardest thing i’ve ever done. It’s also, I am actually really enjoying it obviously. But in terms of what you were saying, the experiences were, that I think we are, we are getting very tight on the, although we have so much to do, we are getting very tight on getting the scheduling down, what we need to do to get these things happening. So that’s the biggest lesson I had from before.
[16:11] Jack Knyfe asks: What is the next major milestone that you’re excited about?
There’s a few, so in the near future, he says… In the near future we have one is you guys flying the Starfarer. I think people are going to love it because it’s truly a capital sized ship and people go on there and have FPS on it, you can have lots of stuff, have lots of fun and so on and so forth and things with that so that will be a really cool one.
Of course persistence is very close where you basically will have some shops you’ll be go in a buy clothes and armor and weapons and stuff and things like that. Then we’re going to release Alpha UEC which is basically UEC that you can play within the Persistent Universe which isn’t proper UEC, it’s not the UEC you have now, it’s going to be something we use so we can get it out there and test out the universe and stuff like that.
Then of course right after that is you’re going to have procedural stuff which is gonna make a massive difference because it’s not just the planet stuff that you have seen some demos for, procedural can be used all over the place and It’ll make a massive difference in gameplay.
So I know you asked for what’s the next milestone and I’ve given you three what milestones which are pretty close and that’s the stuff I’m really excited about right now.
That’s it from me. Thank you very much, as always for your support and thanks once again to all the subscribers for letting us do this and supporting us, thank you and goodbye from Erin here in LA, not in the UK today.