[0:18] In the Studio
Eric Kieron Davis (ED): Hello and welcome to another episode of Around the Verse sponsored by Consolidated Outland.
Chris Roberts (CR): “The dream redefined for the modern era.”
ED: Yeah. I'm Eric Kieron Davis …
CR: … and I'm Chris Roberts …
ED: … and in this episode we'll pick up where we left off last week with our behind the scenes look at the CitizenCon mission playthrough, but as usual let's check in on our player community first.
CR: Yes, so registration is now open for the next Crux Cup, an annual backer-run ingame racing event going into its fourth year.
ED: Yeah. There are three different racing classes, multiple ways to qualify, and some pretty cool prizes.
CR: Yeah, for all the info head to the Crux Cup website. We've included a link in the episode description. The finals are scheduled for November 17th and 18th.
ED: Yes. We also just announced the winners of our dual Halloween contest. Here we see the winning Star Citizen themed jack-o-lantern, and here is the winning entry in our FOIP contest.
CR: Very scared, really cool, very artistic … all the above …
ED: ...Yeah …
CR: So as usual we had a ton of great submissions. Congratulations to the winners. Impressive work.
ED: Yeah, some really cool looking stuff.
[video sample plays]
CR: 3.3 continues to see many fixes through each PTU patch, and with stability improving QA is focusing on shoring up general gameplay and quality of life improvements.
ED: Meanwhile, the Development Teams are looking past 3.3 and are beginning to focus on planning for Alpha 3.4 and beyond.
CR: Look for more updates here on AtV in the coming weeks.
ED: Last week we dug into the mission design by looking at the development of the first half of the mission playthrough seen at CitizenCon.
CR: Yeah, Luke Pressley and Gareth Bourn are back joined this week by Eddie Hilditch and Ben Anders to shed light on the mission's conclusion in the underground facility.
[2:04] CitizenCon Mission Playthrough Part II
Luke Pressley (LP): So the underground facility came from really us having to figure out another unique location for Hurston that made sense with the lore that these guys are pounding the planet from outer space and such. They're not pounding the area around Lorville, but anywhere else is fair game. We came up with the underground bunker, because it allowed us to have ... like it could be for mining, 'cause they also mined their planet to get the materials to create these weapons. So it gave us like one kind of set we build, but we then just dress in different ways but still make sense with Hurston’s function.
Eddie Hilditch (EH): The underground facility was set up in almost exactly the same way as something like the Rest Stops’ interiors have been set up.
Gareth Bourn (GB): We really wanted it to plug into the Layout Tool that’s been used to create the Rest Stops that we’ve seen in previous AtVs.
EH: You start with a library of rooms, and then those rooms get configured in different ways, so you can get a variety of different layouts from the same set of rooms.
GB: Once I had that layout it was all about talking to the AI combat code guys and being like, “What are the actions the AI can take?” Of course I can lay out this path that doesn’t matter if I put like a massive wall in it and expect the AI to bust through it if they can’t do that. So I really had to take into consideration the skills and also the weapons the AI had, ‘cause of course you have different ranges and all of this stuff, and the idea for that was that we’d have an end room and that really dictated the layout and how all of the cover would work and how the player and the AI navigated in that space.
Benjamin Anders (BA): As we’ve seen in the PTU we have combat AI in Kareah right now. So Kareah and the underground facilities were our first test cases. Before that we only had test levels created by us which were just like white box levels. Our greatest challenge here was ensure that the AI played to a realistic standard. This is our Tier 0 grunt behavior. So this is your soldier that you would meet in any army. So that means that the patrol alerts the other AI which are downstairs to basically call for reinforcements and space out and spread the fight across the underground facilities so you won’t get overwhelmed, and it’s still fun.
GB: ‘Cause that was the key thing for that location was that it was going to be something you could actually go and do, so it was imperative that it was a great play space.
BA: We started out with a white box level, and me and level designers started placing covers in there, so we had lots of trial-and-error on how you would get into cover, how you would get out of cover, and also ensure that they all react to the events accordingly, and we just played the game over and over again to ensure when you approach this underground facility actually had proper pockets of resistance where you could fight the AI.
BA: This iterative process kept happening over a couple of weeks and then we involved our Art team to actually make sure that the grey boxes we placed represent something in the game.
EH: Actually those cubes have to remain in largely exactly the same place all the way through to final so it becomes a challenge from an art point of view to integrate that kind of level of exact metrics nicely into the environment. You end up doing some architectural tweaks. You build nice sets of props that look organic and natural - and hopefully - not too obviously like cover. So, yeah, that was one of the bigger challenges we had; and I guess the third one is just generally the theming of the space.
GB: The thing to consider with using the Layout systems is that all of the rooms can connect in different places. And of course if the entrance is here and you come out there there always needs to be somewhere you can go as a player. You come through. You can see the AI. You know what they’re doing. And there’s somewhere for you to move. And you can clearly plan a path and how to beat them. But then of course the entrance could be up here as well.
So what we really needed to do was maintain that story and that route throughout the whole structure no matter where you came in. And in order to do that we needed it to be readable and you needed to know where you were going. So that’s why we ended up with these big yellow stripes along the ground that led you down to this final room.
LP: The one you saw in the demo is actually just one that we built in a particular way and it now leaves the AI department to figure out how it is that we connect these things together in a way that does allow the AI to move from room to room no matter where those rooms get stuck together.
EH: And the challenge became how to put a twist on existing assets to make them feel a bit more newer or a bit more technical; a little bit more … as if this is an operational facility whereas Levski is a little more abandoned, a little more ramshackled, a little more rusty.
So we have a lot of stuff we do. A lot of it comes down to lighting … but just colour palettes and … the newest of things - like the material read of things - helps a lot with that kind of stuff. I think there’s a lot of scope to go forwards in the future building out the set of library stuff so we can do a lot more complex underground spaces. When we come to do bigger facilities I’d love to start seeing more: more rooms added, more layouts added. And, yeah, with the tech that we have we should be able to do that quite easily.
Back in the Studio
EKD: So will we see that mission in the PU?
CR: Definitely. I said that in the opening keynote we did at CitizenCon. And I think the other idea is that we’re going to have multiple underground facility missions and the layout of the places are not necessarily going to be always the same. They’ll be put together in different ways as part of the procedural generation as the first stage of what we’ll do for underground facilities and caves which are also on our roadmap.
And longer term we’re going to definitely be expanding that so just the beginning - there’s still quite a lot to … work to be done on the AI itself. We just have AI right now on Kareah: we want to get it into derelicts that you could get in space; you get on the ground. We probably want to have AI in outposts or around and near outposts; on planets or moons; and also in facilities like this.
So I think it’s going to add a lot. It’s going to be fun be able to engage AI in the game with your friends. Not always want to have people forced into PVP: you want it there for people to have that to do and it can be fun but also you want to have also fun PVE encounters. And so that’s one of our big priorities. You’ll start to see, outside of the technical stuff we talked about - server meshing and …
EKD: Persistence and ...
CR: … you know, persistence right - the AI is our real big thing. We need it. We need to get it dialled in and polished really well for Squadron and we need it for the PU. So … so that’s … that’s a large focus of ours.
EKD: Cool. Awesome. Well I think you answered literally every question I was going to ask.
CR: I try.
EKD: So I think that just about does it for us. You can catch another new episode of Reverse the Verse live tomorrow on Twitch.
CR: Yeah and remember we’re still releasing the CitizenCon panels to our YouTube channel so go check out the ones that you missed.
EKD: A huge thank you to our Subscribers for sponsoring the shows and another huge thank you to our Backers for doing what you do.
CR: Thank you very much.
EKD: Yeah. Until next time, we’ll …
Both: … see you, around the ‘verse.