It’s Thursday which means Around the ‘Verse! Check out The Relay’s transcript
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Sandi Gardiner: Hey everybody, welcome back Around the ‘Verse, I’m Sandi Gardiner.
Erin Roberts: And I’m Erin Roberts.
SG: And I’m still in my thermals by the way.
ER: I’m obviously in a t-shirt because actually it’s quite warm in here. It’s only about 2 degree, that’s pretty good for this time of year.
SG: It’s absolutely freezing. Did you miss the cold snap weather report? You probably did.
ER: That comes in tomorrow, it only going to get down to -1 it should be fine, there’s colder places.
SG: This week in the AtV interview, Jared sits down with Associate Producer Mark Hong to discuss his recent transfer to the LA studio.
ER: And Paul Jones and Gary Sanchez are going to return and show us some of the Xian Scout and where we’re going with that in Ship Shape.
SG: But first, 2.1 continues its testing on the PTU.
ER: Yup, we’re going very happy with what we have out there. We’ve released a few more versions up on the PTU to you guys and it’s great all the feedback we’re getting. We feel like we’re getting a bunch of better stability on the server side as well as the client side, we’ve been putting fixes in for that. Also were working on performance issues and so some of the benchmarks were doing showing that we’re getting better performance as well so time were spending I think is really paying off and also just fixing up the smaller issues as well to give everybody a better gameplay experience, that should be with you guys really really soon.
SG: And the Monthly Report came out yesterday with another in depth look at the development of Star Citizen.
ER: Yup. You guys check it out and give it a read and as always we enjoy just putting together the information and letting you guys get a bit of an insight into what we’re doing and we always kind of enjoy reading your feedback as well.
SG: Now let’s check in with our studios from around the world for News from Around the ‘Verse.
Darian Vorlick: Hello everyone. Here we are in sunny Southern California, Los Angeles Cloud Imperium Games office with this week’s update. I’m Darian Vorlick.
Randy Vasquez: I’m Randy Vasquez.
DV: So for this week we’ve got three new items for you. First off a lot of the players have been talking about some of the Constellation performance issues: when a player will walk near a Connie some of the frame rates tend to drop and this is something that we are putting as a high, top, priority right now. In fact it was the main discussion of our Production meeting this morning. So it is something that we are addressing, so hopefully we’ll have a fix in for it soon.
DV: And the second one is regarding the Retaliator not being able to take of after being repaired. So this is another bit of feedback we’ve been getting back from our players. QA has been able to reproduce it as well. So that’s another high priority issue that’s being addressed, hopefully for 2.1.
DV: What you got Randy?
RV: One of the things the Designers is actually working on is they’re doing some component work so that way they can make components either more efficient as well as just work better with the new feature coming on line. So hopefully you guys can see all that stuff soon.
DV: Is that being done by … ah?
RV: That’s being done by Sherman, and I think Calix and Kerk actually working right now. So three of us working together.
DV: And the other reason why Randy is here with us today is he is now part of the Production team here in Los Angeles. Going to be overseeing some of the Engineering and Tech Design stuff. So we’ve got an awesome addition to the Production team out here in California. So hopefully you guys welcome him aboard.
DV: I think that’s all we’ve got for this week. Once again I’m Darian.
RV: See you guys.
Jake Ross: Hi guys. Jake Ross here, Associate Producer of the Persistent Universe and I’m here with you this week to talk a little bit about what we’ve got going on in Austin. So Shopping Prototype …
JR: My first update will actually be something that is going on up at Behaviour but that we’re managing out of Austin. So the Shopping Prototype we reviewed a couple of weeks before the break, the actual process of going into the Casaba Outlet, pulling up your MobiGlas and interacting with it, and purchasing an item, trying things on. The prototype turned out really, really well so we said “go ahead” and Behaviour were working on the actual functionality for that. So we had the first little bit to look at last week and it turned out really well and we’re really happy with the direction we’re going. There were some tweaks here and there throughout that process but now we are rolling smooth on that and we’ll have something even more substantial to see here at the end of this week. So I’m looking forward to that.
JR: So that’s going on. Let’s see, so the last thing I’ll mention is Emre Switzer has finished up his pass on the Hangar expansion. That’s right, we’re expanding the Hangar to make room for the Starfarer because our current hangars don’t fit that thing: it’s massive. So we created a new section of the Hangar and with that came a new lighting pass. So Emre has finished his lighting pass on that expansion and we’ll look to see the Starfarer in the Hangar sometime soon.
JR: That’s all I got for you this week. I’ll see you guys around. Thanks.
Tom Johnson: Hi and welcome to the UK. This week as promised last week I’ve brought someone else along with me to keep you all entertained so this week I’ve got Link Presley, Lead Designer on Star Citizen so he’s going to tell you a little bit about what he’s been working on recently
Link Presley: So we’ve been doing a lot of planning since Christmas. One of the huge features were going to be implementing in the next coming months is cargo. Obviously it’s to give cargo ships like the Freelancer that we’ve been introducing, giving them a proper role because obviously the gameplay so far is very dogfight centric and we know that implementing cargo is going to open up a whole new side to the game.
TJ: Like what?
LP: Like roles that beyond like hauling cargo. You’re going to be scavenging it, there’s piracy involved now as you can attack players and escorts, you know if you’re going around it takes time to collect this stuff so you need someone to watch your back. Without new technology like we’re waiting on the object container system, we’re hitting the limit of what we can add to Crusader so we’ve been very clever at how we do this and we’re using up all the resources that are there. So for instance, pirates, you kill pirates they’ll drop cargo. Now you can go out there with the sole purpose of killing pirates and collect cargo or you can hang around the edges and watch other players do it and then sneak in and scavenge.
TJ: You wouldn’t do that though right?
LP: no that’s what I would do definitely. Or as the other option which is piracy. Once the players have got this onboard the ship, they fly off and you just fly after them and take them out, scavenge it yourself and drop it off at cry astro and claim your rewards.
TJ: Alright that’s about it for this week, I hope you enjoyed that. Thanks very much for joining us and we’ll see you in the verse!
Disco Lando: Thanks guys. This week on the AtV interview we’re sitting down with Associate Producer: Mark Hong. Mark how are you doing man?
Mark Hong: Pretty good, yourself?
DL: Dude i’m good man. Look at our new set I love it.
MH: Awesome. It’s pretty breathtaking. I like it.
DL: So Associate Producer now a lot of people have a lot of ideas about what a producer is, especially for video games, since it may be different from the music industry or the movie industry. In the broadest sense start us off what is a producer as far as video games
MH: That’s kind of a loaded question! It’s a really long answer
DL: I wanted to start you off with your own intro
MH: It means different things at different studios on different teams. It means a lot of things; Team management, Project Management, scheduling, making sure people are on track, making sure the team is happy, following what the directors want us to do but their people are not overworked and that they’re excited about what they’re working on. Managing communications is my big pet peeve, making sure that, you keep track of all the emails and Post-It notes and people walking up to you
DL: It’s a lot of paperwork!
MH: Skypes. There’s a lot of communications going on especially as we’re so distributed across the globe that being able to keep on top of that and juggle and prioritise the different things and follow up and not forget about anything is one of the key things that you need to be able to do.
DL: I know a lot of people tend to get worried about the distributed involved because we have studios all over the world. You’ve mentioned that part of your job is to make sure that, that communication betweens the studios keeps up
DL: Besides Skype and email is there anything in particular that we do to help with the distributed development
MH: It’s largely that sometimes we require some in person meetings things you can’t really do over Skype
DL: The summits?
MH: Yeah we’ll have summits, we’ll have people fly out and get everybody in a room together so you can be looking at the same diagram on a chart and drawing on it in real time and talking about it. A lot gets done and they also there’s some team building that occurs and that is lost through Skype and you know, it’s…
DL: And we also use tools like Confluence
MH: Yeah, yeah that as well, there’s a lot of miscellaneous tools out there that we use
DL: And they all work together with our, our Producers utilise all them to make sure that the communication’s flowing between our live studios
MH: Sure yeah
DL: Now when you started at Cloud Imperium Games, you actually started in our Austin studio and it wasn’t as an Associate Producer
MH: It was as a Production Coordinator.
MH: For the Engineering Team in particular
DL: One of the things i’ve found here is that your title is really where you start, it’s not where you end with your responsibilities. We’re really great here about if you can do a thing you get tapped to do that thing. It doesn’t matter what your title was. “Is this something Mark can do?” “Then yeah give that to Mark” Kind of thing
MH: Definitely. Yeah the main difference is I was with the Engineering Team over there which was awesome it’s a great team, all of Austin is awesome. I miss the team but it’s exciting to be here, on different parts of the game.
So i’m working with the Art Team mainly but now I’m working on a handful of other things, cause that’s…I’m mainly working with the Ship Art Team. So it’s a new pipeline which there’s a few aspects of it that we’re working on improving but it’s kind of exciting to be learning a different part of the game from you know, the production side.
DL: You were brought here originally to help out with the ship art, but you’ve been tapped again where your position, your position is where you start you’ve been tapped to help with the characters and some of the tech designs?
MH: Yeah there’s a few other things i’m supporting on right now. Sean Tracey moved out here from Austin as well and he actually just got over here yesterday officially, and he’s going to be heading up the Tech Content team which is, we just did a little bit of a reorganisation and that’s kind of a new team so i’m helping to support that. That includes like Tech Art.
I’m also working with Forrest on some of the character art, clothing art, production for that and some outsourcing and i’m also working with our UK team on that, since they’re heading up the Global Character Production Pipeline. I’m also working with the Design Team here for the ships so with(Haydon) Kerk and his team.
DL: So you got your hand in a lot of pots!
MH: Yeah! Yep. It’s pretty busy it’s fun it’s exciting. Every day is a little bit different and there’s never a dull moment!
DL: Absolutely, I can atest to that and that’s part of what game development is. It’s constant, it’s, you don’t just do the same thing you did day one throughout the entire thing you’re constantly evaluating and reevaluating and taking the things that you learn and reorganising things to be more efficient so that’s a lot of what we’re going through now with the revitalisation of the ship pipeline and stuff.
Now before Star Citizen you had quite a history through a couple of different video game companies. you worked for NCSoft
MH: Yeah I was at NCSoft immediately before or prior to, coming here and then a few other companies before that. WB Games, Global Moto and Chicago were my first game job. Where else was I at?
DL: You worked for Nintendo?
MH: Nintendo,yeah I was at Nintendo for a little while and I moved around a little too I was following the work trying to get on the path I am now.
So it started in Chicago coming out of games school and I had different jobs in QA and Production. Then I moved out to Seattle for a bit and then I was in Austin and now I’m here
DL: It’s pretty typical in the game industry to move around
MH: Yeah, yes especially when you’re green trying to work your way in and get your foot in the door. Sometimes you just walk right into something and other times you got to work for it and go where you need to go to make that happen. That’s kind of what I had to do. I’m glad to be here it’s awesome!
DL: We’re glad to have you here. We were excited when you first came over. You were like “I got to find a place to live” And we were like “We’ll help you find a place to live!”
MH: Yeah I remember we were on Third Street Promenade and you were like “Yeah we’ll help you, we’ll go look at the place for you”
DL: He did it without us. He did it without us. Found a place to live on his own
MH: Yeah I’ve..Like I said i’ve moved around a bit so, it was a short time line but I was ready to call you guys in and find out anything I can do to help.
DL: Well before we let you go, just a couple quick questions. We’re building Star Citizen here what’s your favourite ship in Star Citizen?
MH: It changes a lot. Especially now that i’m working with the ships i’m looking at the different ones. Previously I would have said the Hornet, I liked the looks of… I’m basing it on looks mainly! I liked the Hornet the Ghost in particular the black one it’s kind of stealthy. But now that i’m working on the Scout with the team, I really like, the more I see that I really like the looks of that. It’s pretty unique and something about it appeals to me. Even though I haven’t played it or anything, the Scout but I really like the looks of something to go with the Scout!
DL: Viewers stay tuned coming up next you’re going to see Gary Sanchez and Paul Jones take you on a look through the style guide of the Xi’an Scout so keep watching. Mark thanks for coming on
MH: Thanks for having me it was awesome
DL: Thanks for taking some time to talk to us
MH: Thank you
DL: Back to you guys.
ER: Thanks guys, I hope you enjoyed them checking that out.
SG: Next up Paul Jones and Gary Sanchez are back to take us through the Style Guides of the Xi’an Scout in Ship Shape.
Paul Jones: So when we’re developing these ships, obviously this is the first iteration of the Scout [gestures to old concept image], it’s already been sold and in the past we may have just ran with this design, just built it, but obviously now we’ve been doing this for two years and we’re more familiar with the process and the kind of things we can change and improve upon. You know, the things Chris is happy with.
PJ: So we’ve taken this original design and this is being built by the guys in Texas, in Austin, but in this studio we’ve also been working on Xi’an transport ship so we’ve already had to start taking … starting our journey, working out the style guide for that ship, so it made sense before the guys in Texas start building this we gave it a proper second pass of concept and solve a lot of the problems that we know will exist. And also we’d advanced the style so luckily, or unluckily for Gary, this was his first task and because of Gary’s background in automotive design and what he has in his portfolio it seemed like this was going to be a really good fit for his style.
PJ: And so today we’ll talk though the ship and the thought process of Gary because a lot of this work has come from Gary’s head. Generally what will happen is I’ll set an initial style guide. Generally the way I work is we set a “cone of vision” and as long as the concept artist bounces around in that then they get their creative freedom, I get what I want, we hopefully deliver something that Chris is super happy with and you fans as well. And then we move on from there.
PJ: So this ship: we definitely wanted to keep the verticality but the areas that we were keen to improve upon were the high tech feelings of the ship. So advancing its form language a little more; working more with its materials … I mean, take it away Gary, what was the first area really that …
Gary Sanchez: The first thing was to also to really give a spirit of the culture of Xi’an through their shape language. And so we have go back to the silhouette that was designed on the original concept looking a little bit like insect and some [something] inspiration. So it is inspired by the nature but also by some surface, interfacing of new cars and to work a lot on the surface that catch the light in a good way.
PJ: Yeah because one of the founding things was always it was based off a lotus, kind of like a lotus flower wasn’t it.
PJ: That was part of the history given to us from the writers. Obviously this [gestures to new concept image] has still got that petal feel and that’s an important thing that we want to keep and also feature in some of the language.
GS: And also we introduced a little bit some polygonal designs that is more used in the design field for advanced technology that Xi’an will have. Also inspired by supersonic flight developed by famous supplier while making new wings so we try to introduce this kind of component with some hole in wings to make a remember of this kind of new supersonic ship to show an advanced technology. We work also a lot on the cultural and history of Xi’an through some hallmarks and some signature of their culture. And also some fractal texture pattern to show that we are going into a “next gen” game and futuristic.
PJ: Yeah, so there are hints of 3D printing, getting those impossible forms, because the writers have always been very keen on having the Xi’an high tech. So it’s just about how do we differentiate them from say the UEE or the Banu. So this has been a really good exercise for us to really push what we deliver for concepts, especially for the artists when they get to build this stuff, that hopefully we’ve answered more of the questions than we may have done previously. By the time the artist gets to build this they will have pretty much a design bible but also it will list all the materials, the graphics, the decals, the construction, the theory, the colour of the engines, the colour of the lights. You name it!
PJ: In the past a lot of this work has been done to a certain extent but I’ve really been happy with what we’ve been delivering for this next round of concepts. So you can see that we’ve also been investigating [gestures to image’s left edge] … So with the Xi’an tech we’ve got essentially a triangle shape that signifies a “maglev technology” and so we’ve been building on top of that for this as a race. We’ve also been looking at very visual language …
GS: That combine tribal feeling and electronic feeling. So we tried to make a new language sign to define a little bit the culture of Xi’an.
PJ: It’s not fully developed this is more something that we can work with the writers on and Chris and just sort of say “hey, here’s some ideas”. So in this case yes we haven’t finalised the language it’s taking the step towards a direction at least then people can go “Yeah that’s cool”, “No I hate it”. And then we can move on from there.
PJ: We’ve also been looking at, again a sort of similar like holographic style for the UI for the cabin, for the cockpit sorry. That’s again tying in with this more organic feel. Whether we, turns out we don’t really have the tech in place to do this but it’s something to strive towards we can’t always do what we want but at least we sort of create inspiration and then it’s always a case of shoot for the moon and if you can get it close then great! We generally do try and make our stuff as, as easy as possible to implement basically. So here is, this is basically. What is this? What have we called it? It’s a style sheet essentially. A materials sheet?
GS: Yes! It’s research also on material to try to find something using the last prototype, in design industry to show their advanced technology of Xi’an. So playing with some carbon, with some fractal pattern, with some material coming from Xi’an system or planets. To make a real story telling through the material and get an immersive concept for the game
PJ: And again you can see here some of the essentially the triangular motif and just as experimenting how we can maybe implement that as either button technology or … We’ve moved on from that and essentially most of the Xi’an cockpit is holographic but we’ve taken some of this and given it, turned into more a Makers Mark isn’t it? Like a Hallmark if you will. I mean we haven’t fully figured out how that translates across different ships and different manufacturers which ships it will be on and how it changes, but again it’s just that delving a little deeper into the theory of the ships and giving the artist more inspiration. So what do we have here?
GS: It’s a, I remember of the Hallmark spirit. So we work also on some little component and through this component we tried to create a new gameplay with some sliding propulsor that will be integrated in the ship so we reflect also about integrating new gameplay through the design in this kind of ball.
PJ: I mean and in this case it’s often cause obviously Gary’s super creative these ideas are coming out of his head, he’s got ideas about all sorts of things and these things not always get implemented but it’s something we can chat to Designers about. Find is there any way we can use this, you know and at the very least gives a little more direction for the artists to get in on sort of how to build the thrusters, the maneuvering thrusters and again just defining shape language.
PJ: So this is; some of you will know this is the interior of the Scout. This is first round concept. We’ve stuck pretty close we wanted to keep that open feel basically sort of the minimalist interior essentially so you’ve got a high amount of visibility but then Gary’s sort of advanced it.
GS: We tried to differentiate the design between civilisation through the shape language to make something more pronounced in terms of culture and different technology. So we used some different shapes and material to make a difference between the civilisation technology and manufacture to go a little bit further on the spirit of Xi’an
PJ: So you can see here, we’ve, we’ve basically implemented the Hallmark system we started to factor in some of the script, we’ve got elements here of sort of the 3D printed materials and really working with the PBR, with the Physically Based Shaders, so you’re getting really good glossy surfaces right next to matte surfaces and really just having like a good experiment that you should when you get into this thing it should feel like, I mean there are obviously, there were hints of Lamborghini in this but we’re pushing for that high end feeling when you get into this cockpit it should feel high tech, it should feel foreign, and right now you can see from the control system that it is, that it is different from traditional ships.
GS: Yes. Different UI and trying different things about that. There is also a work that is behind all of that to get the more immersion as possible with making some split line and screw and all these little details that are most specific to Xi’an. So there is all this kind of work we are doing behind.
PJ: So any shades are super helpful because if we can have one of these for every ship then it’s a lot easier for us to figure out are our ships looking too similar to each other, what makes this manufacture unique. This is something Dan had started doing for the Idris and this is some of his work, this is some of this work here as well that he did for the transport ship, and so it’s about taking elements from this and then working them into the Scout, but again it’s all about building on the brand. This all helps to define the brand, to define the manufacture, it just makes it for the Artist, it makes it clearer for people like me. We got a lot of ships, we’ve got a lot of panel lines going on and anything we can do to help differentiate makes our lives a lot easier.
PJ: What do we got next? As we’re developing this ship, the guys Josh and Chris, they’ve already done a good job sort of fleshing out so maybe Alvin had done the first pass on this? We already have the animation or the basics of the animation of it landing. Originally I believe the idea was that the seat would come out along this front piece which basically didn’t really work. If you were landing here like a custom built landing platform for this ship then probably you would have some platform here, chances are you wouldn’t have something custom built so we really still needed to get the pilot to the ground somehow.
PJ: We’re changing it, so this is just an example of some of the theory that we’re going through in terms of the cockpit. You’re going to be entering from the side now, again the glass is going to rotate and then peel back and again it’s got that sort of floral feel, it’s got like a bud opening so it’s kind of working with that lotus flower feeling.
PJ: Also we were really struggling with how to get a high tech way of getting into the cockpit where we I think, how many examples, how many variations.
GS: We have done a lot, maybe 20? We are searching to make more than the shape language, and the surfacing, and the texture to have cinematics that looks, or fit, are fitting with the technology of each civilization so to respect also the way the manufacture of the ship, how to access to the ship, how to lend, so all this kind of …
PJ: So we’ve ended up on using the maglev system or sort of technology basically behind that theory because what we’ve wanted for the steps is to be fully integrated so you really wouldn’t know they’re there and basically what will happen is a little panel will reveal, the steps will all essentially float out and expand and create dual purpose footplates and hand holds, essentially that’s the theory. This is a rough guide and it will change probably by the time this gets released, but this is should still be the same sort of theory and this gives us nice animation opportunities when you know you can imagine when the steps comes out there’s a slight bob, when the pilots climbing up there’s a slight reaction and when he foot comes off they settle again. I still need to speak to Steven about this, but I guess we’ll figure that out. This is all the kind of theory that goes behind.
GS: And this is a mock to show that there is also the work that is presented is pure artwork, but there is also all the work that he’s done behind us as real manufacture object so that we solve problems that we are trying to solve through a design process. Establishing the society, to make some iteration as fast as possible, to adjust the surfacing, the split line, the volume, the texture and solving also the functional problems so there is a lot of work that is done behind just as a final image that we see.
PJ: This is a pretty complex ship, it’s small and compact, there’s not a lot of areas where we can hide any of our mistakes essentially so the whole ship’s going to have to be pretty tight. This is just us sort of working with the modellers when they get to whitebox or sort of early greybox. We’re looking at their work to check in. It’s not like we’re like it must be built like this, it’s just my job as a director and Gary’s job as a concept artist is to try and achieve the vision. It’s not always possible, sometimes there’s only 90 or 80 percent, but we’re always working with this guys in sort of giving extra information on sort of the …
GS: The volumes, the textures.
PJ: The volume, the cross section of these areas, the way things rotate. It’s this constant backwards and forwards and that’s what we’ve been doing on this ship. So this has been worked on by Josh and Chris in the states. We’re really looking forward to this one, we’re going to have a lot of new materials. It should look pretty alien, I think this one will be really, really cool. I can’t wait to see it in a hangar and you guys should probably, fingers crossed you’ll see it sometime this year.
GS: I really appreciate the work on this ship because of its very special shape and I think a lot of players are waiting for this kind of also alien ship that looks also interesting, but they are different and we are looking forward to see what will be the final result done by the US studio.
ER: Thanks Gary and Paul for taking the time and show everybody that
SG: And now it’s time for this week’s MVP, Erin the envelope please. Of course we don’t have time to make an envelope, here we have, this weeks winner is Gray Headed Gamer for his continuing contributes to the Star Citizen community. I think you need your dialogue for that.
ER: I do, thank you. GHG’s video streams for the community which we watch and really appreciate here as well. Great job from Gray Headed Gamer, you’re this week’s MVP.
SG: And finally, here’s your art sneak peek.
ER: Tune into Reverse the ‘Verse tomorrow to check out more about that sneak peek and also have the Community Team answer some of your questions.
SG: And of course, thank you always to all of our subscribers for making this show possible, we will see you next week in LA on Around the Verse.
ER: Around the ‘Verse.