It’s Thursday which means Around the ‘Verse! Check out The Relay’s Transcript.
[This video made possible by the ICC Stellar surveyors and subscribers like you]
Sandi Gardiner: Welcome back to Around the ‘Verse I’m Sandi Gardiner
Ben Lesnick: I’m Ben Lesnick.
SG: This week in the AtV interview, jared sits down with Senior Network Engineer Clive Johnson to discuss his work at Foundry 42 UK
BL: And the Foundry 42 Audio team talks about the sounds, sound and more sounds of Crusader.
SG: That’s a lot of sounds. But first we’re back! Ben and I are back! It has been a month
BL: I haven’t seen you in a month!
SG: I know! It feels very different and my chair feels very high, maybe that’s because you’re so much taller than me, but we’re back! The big news this week is that we’ve gone to PTU with patch 2.1.1
BL: 2.2.1 includes a number of bug fixes and optimizations and it’s looking good! Hopefully we will be able to bring that to live shortly
SG: When Ben and I are going to have a little fly off, Are we?
BL: Okay, Sure!
SG: I’ve been getting good in the UK because there’s all the QA guys there and they’re actually really good at it
BL: I’ll fly off with you anytime
SG: Meanwhile on our live servers players continue to explore Star Citizen Alpha 2.1 and we’ve seen all kinds of hijacks.
BL: I guess some people have been bringing the noodle machine, carrying it place to place. It’s the amount of amazing emergent gameplay is just fantastic. We’re so excited here, it’s so great to have it stable so people can play for hours and hours at a time. It all goes towards our goal of creating this living sandbox world that people can exist in. It’s just the start of Star Citizen but it really shows you where we’re going
SG: This week and next week, team members from around the world have all been converging here in LA for a summit to go over what’s happening in development for 2016
BL: It’s fantastic. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone from Austin, UK, or Germany. Mark Skelton is here, Tony Zurovec is here, Pete Mackey. Everyone is here.
SG: We do love cats… For all those who have cats. And did you know that 3D artist magazine has a cover story of Star Citizen this month
BL: Thanks to our own Gurmukh. He’s showing off some of the techniques to make the Mustang Shine. If you are in the UK this should be readily available and then some specialty outlets in the US like Barnes and Noble will get this in. If it’s not available today, it in the next couple days it should be available in stands.
SG: Exciting stuff, Yes! Now let’s check in with Studios from Around the world for this weeks News From Around The ‘Verse
Eric Kieron Davis: Hey everybody and welcome back to Los Angeles, I’m Eric Kieron Davis
Darian Vorlick: I’m Darian Vorlick
EKD: And we’ve got some updates for you. One of the big ones this week has been our Senior Tech Artist Madden Triary has been working really really hard on the frame rate issue with the Constellation. We’ve seen some slowdowns with that ship lately and we think we know what it is. He’s working really hard on just overall evaluation as well as making some changes that we hope to get into a patch very soon so that’s a big one for us this week
DV: It’s something that we’ve been doing playtesting on, we’ve been seeing it ourselves, we are able to reproduce it in house and it’s being addressed. On the Engineering side we got our own Chad Zamzow he is working on making missiles, increasing the side of the hitbox so they are easier to shoot down. Now the difficulty in that when you increase the hitbox you have to add a geo to it so how do you only allow projectiles to collide with that hitbox and not ships so that’s the the biggest tech challenge we’re facing with that now and he’s found a solution for it. And finally we got a really cool ship update, particularly it’s two updates. We got Kirk working on the Espira prowler so it’s kind of an FYI, but the big one and this is one near and dear to our hearts as many of you know, Matt sherman is working on the tech design of 890 Jump.
DV: I can’t wait for that one.
EKD: Same, it’s a big ship for us. I know when I was first brought in on my interview they asked what the ship I was most excited about, That’s it.
DV: Same here, I want my party bus
EKD: We’re not also pushing for the production time it’s because we’re passionate about that ship so it’s very exciting to see Matt work on the design for that
DV: I think that’s all we got for this week
EKD: That’s it, thank you again for stopping by LA, I’m Eric
DV: I’m Berdian
EKD: See ya next week
Jake Ross: Hey guys, Jake Ross here Associate Producer of the Persistent Universe. Here with you this week to talk about a little bit about what we got going on here in Austin including Persistence. Persistence is well underway, being worked on by our back end team led by Jason Elee. We got Tom Sawyer and Jeffery Zoo also working on it. Those guys are trucking along real nicely and we’re starting the process of completely revamping a little portion of our tech called “Data store” here in Austin. So we realized that there’s some things about Data Store that won’t work well with the way we’re setting up Persistence so we’re totally going to revamp that tech as well.
We actually have got Jason Elee and Jeff Zoo flying out to LA to meet up with Paul Reindell to talk a little bit about that and how we’re going to approach that so that will be coming online here in the near future. We’ve got a lot of people travelling, speaking of traveling to LA, Tony Zurovec and Mark Skelton are out in LA right now, meeting up with the guys right there and with Chris to talk about long term planning for the Persistent Universe this year. We have 2.1 that just came out and we’re aiming to get 2.2 out here pretty soon and then 2.3 beyond that so we’re trying to figure out what exactly were going to have in each of those releases and from the PU standpoint Tony and Mark are out there to make those decisions with Chris.
We’ve also got people coming to Austin, Benoit Beausoleil from Turbulent is coming out here later this week to talk a little bit about with John Hurston and the team here in the Austin on the operation side about some of the platform stuff that we’ve got going on. Specifically we’re talking about revamping the launcher, kind of almost from scratch, kind of revamping that thing and making it super robust. We’re talking about revamping the public crash channeller and making adjustments to that. Another topic we’re going to be talking about is Dockerized platform setup so there’s lots of discussions going on not just Persistent Universe, but also platform operations front, different things we’ve got going on to make improvements in that area as well throughout the year.
The month of January is a planning month that’s for sure. We’re trying to set the ball rolling in a good direction and all the areas of the project and we’ll hopefully carry that through the remainder of the year. That’s all I got for you this week, see you around
Tom Johnson Hello and Welcome to the UK, it’s Tom here again and I’m just going to give you a quick recap of what’s going over here.
This week we’ve got a lot of work going on in the currency side of things, we’ve got Forest Stephan over from the LA studio that you already know. He’s the CG supervisor and put a lot of the character pipeline and how the character should follow a certain way of working and he’s currently working with our team closely here to really sort of train those guys up and we’re iterating on the Mclaren character who’s played by Gillian Anderson so that’s really cool and coming along nicely. Then we have the Script Writers over from LA as well, we’ve got John Schimmel, Dave Haddock and Will Weisbaum.
These guys are really drilling into all the Squadron 42 levels and reviewing with the design team to make sure everything syncs up, matches up and looks and feels good. There’s also some shoot planning, I’m going for later in the year so we expect to do some pick ups and shoot a few extra bits at some point so that planning is ongoing at the moment.
On the tech side there’s a lot of work going on in the engine. The object container code being done at the moment by Stephen North, this is will be the foundations to enable us handle a lot of things in vast large world spaces that we’re dealing with and had a talk on how we’ll be handling capital ships and lots of interesting stuff.
There’s lots and lots of work to be done still there, but all the groundwork is being put in all systems are being laid out nicely. In other news, more interestingly enough you may want to check out the BBC, he did a piece on Chris Roberts while he was over here last week so see if you can take a look online and find out that article and recording while he was here. Yeah, lots going on and still lots to go! Nice speaking to you all, I’ll see you all in the ‘Verse!
Brian Chambers: Hey everyone, Brad Chambers from Frankfurt, thanks for watching this week. Studio/office overview, we got a few new hires in, we got a new system designer that started with us…
Todd Papy: Greg.
BC: You’ll probably hear from him in the future. I believe we also had another animator sign up, Senior Cinematic Animator in the process other. Good to see growth and people interested and getting some talent to help us push this the way it needs to be. On the engine side, guys are still progressing on procedural planet stuff and making improvements to that. Finishing up some last minute animation stuff on FPS so we can get that programmer moved on to a couple other things that I think you guys will be interested. AI is still pushing along covering ships. covering dudes, driving it the way they need to, a lot of parts and pieces there that are constantly moving.
BC: I was in the UK last week drilling down on schedules. A lot on cinematics, going through everything as far as localization and characters and so on. It’s good to hang out with those guys, this week brought in Todd Papy, our Design Director. He can jump on design and and talk you guys through what he’s been playing with, him and the guys for the last week or so.
TP: So, we’re running interdiction right now, basically pulling ships out of Quantum Drive and also not letting ships go into Quantum Drive if they’re out of it. So then you start seeing some of the gameplay advantages that you can create with that.
TP: Whether taking down pirates or pirates taking down you. Then we’re on the environment side or basic level design side and system design side, we’re thinking about how with ships we have piping. So the concept of something creates power, something uses power, something creates heat, something uses heat. How are we going to use those in environments and make sure that the environment sandbox feels just like the ship sandbox which will also feel like….
BC: Yeah. That way you get that consistency and familiarity between the two…
TP: Correct, we want to make sure the player doesn’t have to learn a new language. Those are the main things we’re focusing on right now.
BC: Cool, awesome. Again, short and sweet. Thanks for all the fans that come in every morning. I’ve been watching people stream on Twitch and it’s been fun to see people with the newest release that we have and the gameplay and the elements they’re coming up with, it’s cool and fun to watch. Again thanks to everybody and see you next week.
Jared Huckaby: Thanks guys. This week on the AtV interview we’re sitting down with Senior Network Programmer: Clive Johnson. Clive how are you doing man?
Clive Johnson: Good.
JH: Good. Now you’re here from the UK
CJ: That’s right yes.
JH: You work for Foundry 42?
JH: How long have you worked for Star Citizen?
CJ: Just over a year.
JH: So just over a year. you came on, shortly after CitizenCon last year?
CJ: Yeah probably about that yeah.
JH: Did you get to go the party at all?
JH: You’re Senior Network Programmer
JH: That sounds like a pretty important job. Anytime someone’s got a ‘Senior’ before their title, I can’t joke around ‘cause they got things to do. That’s what I’ve been told anyway. Senior Network Programmer. What, what does it do? What does a Senior Network Programmer do?
CJ: Well, we’re concerned with making the game client and the game server talk to each other over that internet thing.
JH: Ok. Now the game server is different from the backend servers.
JH: We’ve talked about the backend servers, I think most people are familiar with the what the backend servers do. What do the game servers do?
CJ: So the game servers are running the simulation that everyone is playing in. Everyone’s taking part in. So it’s making sure that all the actions that a particular player carries out are replicated out to all the other players
JH: So when I think, when I think my friends Constellation is here, it’s actually here and not fifty light years away
CJ: Exactly yeah
JH: I was trying to think of a smaller distance that, line of distance than light years, i’m like “Inches”.
JH: This little process was going on in my head here. Light years is what I came up with. What is smaller light years? What can we measure? Metres we just measure in metres it’s metres. Alright you’re watching the breakdown of Disco_Lando here. Alright so, client servers. Now we don’t run those in a room in the back of Foundry?
JH: Where do we run our client servers from?
CJ: So they’re all in the cloud on the Google Compute Engine.
JH: On Google Compute Engine?
JH: And that’s a network that existed before us, they’ve had their own infrastructure going. What are some of the advantages of us using Google Compute instead of building our own server structure?
CJ: Well if we have to build our own server farms obviously that’s a big outlay on hardware. We’ll have to build server centres all around the World to serve all our backers and that’s a massive cost.
CJ: Google have already spent all that money so and were prepared to rent out the hardware to us so bonus and they’ve also got a really optimised backen..backbone which gives a very fast connection between the servers so we can shuffle all that data about nice and quick.
JH: I imagine that some aspect of customer service we get from Google is, server support when trying to figure out how to make everything work we can..
CJ: Yes. Yeah I believe they’ve been very helpful
JH: We have a number at Google we can call. Besides the cost is there a technical advantage of using Google?
CJ: Because the hardware’s not our and we can pay for what we use, we can scale on demand. So we spin up more server instances as we need them, as player demand increases on them we can shut them down when player demand decrease and everyone goes to bed.
JH: Most games don’t run a live player environment during game development
JH: So it’s always hard to figure out what your needs are going to be from, from one day to the next or from one week to the next.
JH: We’ve had some weeks where we’ve got lots and lots and lots of players no specific numbers or anything here, and then the next week that drops off as Daredevil comes out on Netflix they’re watching that instead of playing. So it fluctuates a lot and using something like Google Compute allows us that flexibility
JH: That’s very cool. Now Senior Network Programmer. What’s your day to day like? Like forget special projects or whatever. You came into work, you’ve checked your emails and you’ve looked at your JIRA tickets and seen what needs to be done. What’s your day like as the Senior Network Programmer?
CJ: Well we’re kind of the first port of call if anything goes wrong with the builds. So if any, any bugs get reported by the backers that look like they’re related to the client, or the server, or the network in-between them then we’ll have to investigate, try and setup some tests maybe add some extra debugging so when the next patch goes out we’ve got some more information to work with.
CJ: But beyond that we’re trying to extend the networking layer to make it more efficient because what we started with, wasn’t really designed for an MMO type game at the time. The scale again on what we’re trying to do with Star Citizen. So piecemeal we’re adding bits on to that chucking old bits away replacing parts and just making it go faster and easier to scale
JH: I know a lot of folks have taken to calling our modifications to the engine: Star Engine. That’s not an official name by the way. That’s something the fans have started applying. I think it’s neat ‘cause we’re, as development continues we get farther and farther away from what CryEngine originally was. So I like that a lot. Again not an official name. Get the lawyers involved! Network Programmer. Senior Network Programmer. How much do you hate lag?
CJ: A lot! It just makes everything really, really hard.
JH: Alright so before we wrap up, you’re here in LA, we got quite a few visitors today, this week rather, for the next two weeks we got Mark Skelton in there, Tony Zurovec’s here. Anybody else from the UK coming?
CJ: No, not this week no.
JH: They just sent you?
JH: Ok. So can you talk a little bit about what you’re working on here this week?
CJ: Yes. There’s an Engineering roadmap being put together for what we’re hoping to achieve in 2016. So i’m here to help with the network part of that. Make sure we got everything on the list that we want and it’s a reasonable amount of work that we can actually achieve this year
JH: Okay last but not least. We talked a little bit about where you came from before. you’ve had quite a storied history in video games
JH: We talked a little bit about some of your favourite games. Is there one thing in particular besides Star Citizen that you’re really proud of that you worked on?
CJ: I worked on FIFA for a while so probably that. Probably ‘cause it’s, back home it’s a game that everybody recognises. Some of the other games people have never heard of
JH: I never played it but I had a neighbour that would play it online religiously. He seemed very, he seemed to enjoy the online play of that very much.
CJ: I wasn’t an online programmer back then
CJ: No I was a physics programmer back then
JH: Well then nevermind, I was going to be his hero here. Thanks for coming by
CJ: You’re welcome
JH: Back to you guys.
Lee Banyard (LB): For 2.0 we had lots of linear, more linear elements for the game than than we would normally I suppose, for Crusader generally and particularly Port Olisar … I think it’s the first one you start in isn’t it? So how did you approach that from a … because you were the Senior Sound Designer on that which … How did you approach it?
Ross Tregenza (RT): Yeah. It was an iterative process because we are working alongside the designers. They’re building and restructuring as they go, so watching that and just figuring out how we are going to fill that space and what we can do is … core moments in that space to give it its definition, so like we’ve got the big hologram area in the center.
RT: So this the main room in the Port Olisar station and this is the huge hologram that’s the central element. It’s quite an impressive looking thing and I started off with a general “hologramy” buzzing tone to it but I wanted something a bit more characterful for it. I got the idea from the file Ex Machina: the robot in it had a brilliant sort of buzzy, birdy sound when she moved that I thought was quite interesting. And so it inspired me to build up these little additional elements here that sound like this [plays sounds]. Lovely just sort of lasery, birdy fly-bys. So all this really is, it’s a few different layers of [plays sound] buzzing tone, just like that which is just very straightforward on its own but adding in some Doppler effects, some effects called “The Enigma” which is a phaser effect I’ve always liked
LB: It sounds like “Who knows what it does? It’s an enigma!”
RT: Who knows what it does? It’s a phaser!
LB: It’s not true. It’s kind of obvious.
RT: And a filter called Volcano. And add all that together [plays sound] we get this lovely, delicate, birdy, futuristic sound that just gives it a lot of extra character.
RT: So as you said before we have these announcements emanating from the central point of this room and then and there’s other ones in the … I’ve lost my place now … in the lobby area over here. And because they are talking about things you can do and things to do with the game’s fiction it adds a huge amount to it. They are on a loop of I think about twenty or so different announcements that are relevant to the player’s experience.
RT: So as you walk through these different spaces we have that kind of Star Treky space station rumble to it, underpinning everything but as you move through the different places there’s a different quality to it. And like for example if we go upstairs … woah, not that way … the upstairs has, it’s more gentle and like I said there’s a “sleepy day at the beach” kind of quality to it where it’s slowly fading in and out. I can actually bring that up and you can see what’s going on.
LB: And those little speaker icons we’re seeing, that’s essentially where we put the sounds.
RT: Yeah, so for example … let’s see we’ve got … here’s a little air conditioning vent: there’s just got an extra burst of audio there. It’s really a nice combination of nice, big, open ambient spaces audio and then you get these little spots of sound. They go a long way to adding the detail and because you pass by them quite quickly it really brings it all to life.
RT: So here we are this one here’s just on the control panel. It just does a little beep every few minutes.
RT: So we’ll look at … let’s see … so this is the … if I bring up the effects there … so you can see I just made this ambient, general, airy loop for the upstairs area but then just to give it some interest I recorded myself moving the EQ of it up and down which gives it that strange sound you get at the seaside of the air sort of catching the waves.
LB: Yeah just give it a bit …
RT: But that’s very subtle in the game. You’d have to stop and have a listen to it. But I was really happy with it. It gave it the kind of sleepy tone that I was looking for that upstairs area.
LB: I mean it’s … you can easily spend quite a lot of time in any given area depending on how you play the game so we tend to have to think, no just in terms of moment-to-moment, but in terms of “well if a player hangs around what are they going to experience to show that the whole environment is evolving in some way”.
RT: Yes and again this is a place where the fact that we have the community and people playing the game and feeding back to us is incredibly valuable because you can spend a long time on an area people just aren’t interested in and conversely you could do a very quick, basic pass on an area that tends to be a big social hub.
LB: Yeah, yeah very true.
RT: Makes you want to go back and add some more interesting little easter eggs and things.
LB: Yeah. Can be a slight irony I suppose in sometimes you have to spend quite a lot of time putting detail into areas where there’s not much going on because it is possible for the player to evaluate what it’s like just by going up to things “that should be making a sound in my mind and why isn’t it?”. But in a very busy area you can actually create an impression of that relatively simply.
RT: Yeah. I mean that’s why I came back and added the extra detail to this hologram just because I’ve watched so many videos and there’s a lot of people just using this as a central space for figuring out where they are going to go and what they are going to do.
RT: There’s a nice little extra tone in this room. In the actual gameplay the … I guess it’s a gravity generator but I’m not actually sure … this great big strut outside is moving very slowly and in a very grand way so while you obviously can’t hear it outside I thought it would be nice to feel that it is somehow moving through the central core of the station. So it gives a nice sort of groaning, distant, metal, stressed sound as you watch it move.
RT: Yeah, it’s really, there’s a lot of toing and froing. I think the first third to the first half of the development process for a space like this it’s particularly important to make sure you are talking to the designers and the artists. Everyone has ideas, they are all creative people, so they have things that they would love to hear so usually it’s very rewarding getting them involved at that point. And just because these levels are so intricate and there’s often hidden vents or rooms you have to access in a certain way that you can’t just rely on living in your little box and not talking to people. You need to get out there and actually ask them about it. So working with the designers on this and the other, the pirate station they immediately gave me their ideas on this being very clean, this has almost has a shopping mall feel to it, that cleanliness and the pirate station should be hostile should be very staccato in its feel. And it’s great, I could look at the space, I could wander round it myself but it’s not until you talk to the designers and artists that you start to get a feel of what it is you should be selling so that process is invaluable. And they don’t mind the noodle machine! They had to deal with it a lot …
LB: Yeah, I don’t know how many of those we actually had in this particular area. Obviously you saw one a bit earlier but … yeah …
RT: There’s about six in this station.
LB: Yeah, you would know how many there were!
RT: There we go: that’s a noodle machine. And just on cue …[noodle machine plays sounds]
RT: So that’s the … I took the little theme tune that I wrote and just added … we’ve got an amazing program called “Speaker Phone” that you can use it to apply the effects of just about any space you can conceive of. It has settings that can make it sound like it is coming out the boot of a particular car or the cockpit of a certain helicopter. It’s a phenomenal piece of software and I think most people in the industry …
LB: Yeah. It’s become really handy and I suppose it is a post-production and a game thing. It’s all about areas.
RT: This is the … [plays noodle machine theme] …
LB: So that’s the idea, it’s supposed to be influenced by that isn’t it?
RT: Yeah. I thought it was going to loop there. We don’t need that.
LB: We don’t.
RT: If you want to hear it for ten hours someone’s put that together on YouTube.
LB: Did they really?
RT: Yeah there’s a ten hour loop of it on YouTube
LB: Of course.
RT: So thank you whoever that was.
RT: Yeah and then other than that there’s just these little points of interest here. We have another speaker here emanating from the desk. And there’s little bit of gentle muzak playing around because it’s kind of a lobby area.
RT: That’s pretty much the core of it. It’s just a nice bed of very soothing, rumbling, low-level ambients overlaid with the constant tannoy, and the tannoy are very friendly, it’s quite pleasant, not too jarring.
RT: There’s never a situation where you can sit down, start it and then finish it without there being gaps just because like every other department we’re iterating and we’re finding that things work and other things don’t. And like Lee said the space itself changed, area’s opened up, other areas just change as they tried it out and people find that the space isn’t working.
LB: Yeah, there’s a lot of revising that we just have to do really. I imagine it wouldn’t surprise if it changed again even though it’s still out there already.
RT: So yeah, that’s how we design the audio for the space stations and how we define the difference in their tone and their spaces. Hope you guys found that interesting. Thanks a lot.
BL: I hear the sound guys really do great work.
SG: You hear. Oh my gosh [laughs]. It’s always really nice when we receive fan gifts from everybody all around the world and there are some remaining ones here that we haven’t actually eaten yet.
BL: Yes Gibber from Australia just sent a whole box of bizarre Australian treats some of which we’ve saved here for posterity. Thank you very much. It means a lot to the whole team when this sort of thing arrives. It’s also cool seeing food from around the world. And we really appreciate that.
SG: And we can smell the vegemite from all the way down the hallway which Toast has sequestered.
BL: Somehow Toast love vegemite because there’s something wrong with him.
SG: He puts vegemite on all things, on things you probably shouldn’t. And recently we also received a give from from long time fan Kinshadow who we know is a tabletop gaming enthusiast.
BL: Yes this is pretty cool he sent us a copy of Cards Against Humanity, everybody’s favourite card game for terrible people with his own take on it “Vanduul Against Humanity” with Star Citizen themed cards and so on. We’re looking forward to trying that out. Thank you very much Kinshadow.
SG: And now it’s time for this week’s MVP.
SG: Back in LA, envelope please.
BL: Sadly Alexis is out sick today so there’s no MVP envelope.
SG: I was going to say we have this amazing envelope here in LA cause in UK we didn’t have one, clearly we don’t have one.
BL: We’re saving you money by not making envelopes every week.
SG: This week’s MVP is actually two people, Star Citizen’s: Third and Argon, congratulations.
BL: Congratulations guys, they created a plug in for the ROCCAT Powergrid app which allows folks to remotely control aspects of their computer. The Star Citizen plugin allows you to use your phone as a touchscreen with Star Citizen, pretty cool.
STLYoungblood: I’m going to go over here to the shield screen. Now here you have dorsal, ventral, port, forward, aft, starboard or balanced. Not to mention you can just click anywhere on the grid. Now to see how this actually interacts, go ahead and move the shields to the right.
AI voice: Shields to port.
STLYoungblood: You’ll notice that it actually shifted over to port. Now we can go back into shields here and say starboard.
AI voice: Shields to starboard.
STLYoungblood: You can see it moves the little indicator to the right.
SG: Say all that ten times backwards.
BL: No, never.
SG: Now here’s your art sneak peek.
BL: Be sure to tune into Reverse the Verse tomorrow at 11 am on Twitch, we’ll be discussing that art sneak peek and what we had for lunch this week.
SG: I’ve been eating all the awesome treats, that’s what I’ve been doing. Of course, thank you to all our subscribers for making this show possible as always, we will see you next week….
BL/SG: On Around the Verse.