The latest episode of Around the ‘Verse is here! Check it out.
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Hey everybody welcome back to Around the Verse. I’m Sandi Gardiner.
Ben Lesnick (BL): I’m Ben Lesnick.
SG: This week in the ATV Interview Jared sits down with US Art Director Mark Skelton to discuss his work on Star Citizen.
BL: And the Star Citizen Flight Team sits down in a round table to talk about how they created the games flight model, where it came from, where it’s going and more.
SG: Yay! What about Ship Shape?
BL: It’s called Ship Shape. The segment’s called Ship Shape.[both laugh]
Thomas Hennessy (TH): [off camera] Keep it.
BL: Keep it!
TH: [off camera] Keep it!
SG: But first the 2016 Planning Summit continues here in LA. Tony Zurovec, Erin Roberts, and members from all the studios continue to plot the course for Star Citizen’s immediate future.
BL: It’s great walking by Chris’ office and seeing them all engaged in some deep conversation.
SG: Yes and Ben actually found some priceless photos. We should show them on ATV.
BL: I think we can’t show these photos but we did find a box of their old, glossy headshots they’d taken when they started Digital Anvil many, many years ago after Wing Commander and …
SG: Why can’t we show the photos?
BL: We can show some of photos.[NO WAY, MAN. I LIKE MY JOB.]
BL: There’s at least one we can’t show.
SG: That’s true. That is true. And part of the future is a change to how new players can pledge for Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
BL: Yes we’ve been talking about splitting up the Star Citizen and Squadron 42 packages for quite a while now and it is finally happening. We are announcing here officially that it will be the perfect day to split things up: Valentine’s Day, February 14th!
BL: When we kicked this off we essentially sold everybody two games for the price of one: Star Citizen and Squadron 42. And our early backers all have the advantage of the fact that they can get these two games for $45. And now new folks that come in much later will have to get them separately. So if you have not pledged for Star Citizen, first of all why are you watching Around the Verse, but please so before …
SG: Because they want to watch. Jeepers!
BL: Maybe it’s our sparkling repartee is so good.
SG: I know, yes. We’re just so amazingly awkward that it’s endearing.
BL: So pick up Star Citizen and Squadron 42 together before Valentine’s Day. Makes a great gift for Valentine’s Day too if you …
SG: We’re going to split up on Valentine’s Day?
BL: Yes we’re splitting up on Valentine’s Day.
SG: Alright. It’s very sad. Yesterday was the monthly Subscriber Edition of Reverse the Verse with special guest Sean Tracy.
BL: Which was fantastic because he knows everything, talks a lot and we can all just sit back. Sort of like when you have a hangover at a meeting and you’re just in the corner like this [screws up face]. We didn’t have to do anything. It was great!
SG: Now let’s check in with our studios around the world for News From Around the Verse.
Darian Vorlick (DV): Hey everyone, here we are back actually to sunny southern California again. The rain has kind of passed. Here we are this weeks update out of LA. I’m Darian Vorlick
Eric Kieron Davis (EKD): I’m Eric Kieron Davis.
DV: So why don’t we start?
EKD: So we got a few cool things to talk about on the concepting side. Gurmukh, one of our concepters Gurmukh he’s been working pretty hard the last few days on the additional Caterpillar concepts. So there was some items as design started flushing out they realized we’d like to see what that would look like more visually. So they asked Gurmukh to do what he does best and show us what it would like like with these new ideas. That’s what he’s going to be spending a little bit of time on to get that thing ready for production.
DV: If you’ve seen any of his concept art on our website you can see what kind of quality work this guys does. I mean this guy is an incredibly talented artist
EKD: And what it’s great for is it really allows not only the 3d Modellers to see, but the Designers to see it and that allows Chris to see it, everybody kind of gets to see what the designees are fleshing out to be at the beginning before we get everyone involved on digging in and getting the the ship ready to fly. Additionally on the concepting side, Jeremiah Lee, he’s back to working on a lot of character clothing. We have a lot of character clothing items, Forest and I just talked about that recently on 10 for the Developers. There’s a lot of clothes that were still fleshing out and a lot of ideas for what these clothes look like and there’s a lot of of manufactures who are still trying to show you what they look like. He’s again doing what he does best and fleshing those out.
DV: Any scarves?
EKD: No scarves on these characters just yet, maybe later.
DV: On the engineering side. Our Flight Engineer guy who came up with the IFCS system John Pritchett, He’s actually been working on the hud for EVA and outer space. Not only is he adding the element on what you should be seeing as you’re moving around outside of your vehicle during extravehicular activities.
Sounds like you don’t have physical education. We’re going to do some EVA today.
He’s coming up with a tactile system on how your hud should look, what you should be seeing. He’s also been doing cleanup on the the ships as well so we want to make them pop a little more, clean them up a little bit and really give them that extra sparkle.
EKD: He’s a busy busy man.
DV: Yes, he’s a very busy guy and a very intelligent and smart and talented engineer as well
EKD: Well that’s it from LA I’m Eric
DV: I’m Darian
EKD: See you next week.
Jake Ross (JR): Hey guys Jake Ross here, Associate Producer of Persistent Universe. I’m here with you this week to talk to you a little bit about what’s going on here in Austin. First right off the bat, we just finished up the improvements on our end for the party system. I know that’ll be a welcome news to a lot of you guys out there. The party system was in desperate need of improvements so we had Tom Sawyer on this and doing some backend server work to help make the party system run a little smoother, leaving enough room in a server for allocating enough space in a server for party members.
If there’s a server that’s full, allocating you to another server with your friends instead of splitting you up, that kind of stuff was in the works, always in the plan to do, but we didn’t get around to it for the first iteration, but now we have a little bit of that in.
We’re also working with the team at behavior to improve some of the UI elements in the party system, but the next build we’ll have a lot of improvements on the backend so we’re excited to throw all those out here pretty soon.
Next I have on the list is Hurston. I’ve talked a few week back about Hurston layout being kind of finalized and complete so now we’ve expanded that into the shops of Hurston. So now we’re laying out the shops and whiteboxing those. It’s a hero landing zone so it’s going to have a whole lot of new shops to uncover and stuff and buy things from.
So a couple examples is Clears, which is a clothing shop and being on a Hurston kind of mining, blue collar type world we’re going to have a lot of blue collar type fashion to buy from Clears as well as some white collar stuff. Huston is kind of seperated in between the blue collar workers and the high class white collar types, there will be a little bit of both and nice different flavours in that shop.
We also have the Huston Dynamic Showcase which for those who don’t know, Hurston is a manufacture of ship weapons. So it’s their speciality and they’ll have their own Hurston Dynamics shop there on the planet where you can buy specialty Hurston items, that’ll be pretty cool. We’ll probably have a focus in the near to midterm on churning out some more Hurston ship weapons so we can fill that shop when it comes online.
Last thing was Reclamation and Disposal, which is not so original name, but it’s for salvage. So for those who are interesting in salvaging, go out and salvage those all the parts, bring it it to Hurston and go to Reclamation and Disposal and get money for those parts. It’s the first kind of salvage type shop we’ve worked on so we’re kind of trying to get it just right.
So the Hurston layout is going along really well and the white box is in progress also. Pretty soon we’ll be handing off both the shops and the city itself to concepts so they can do concept paint overs and get that thing in production.
Last thing I’ll mention is the scout is well on its way to getting into your hands. Emerge has just finished the first lighting pass on the scout and it’s looking pretty beautimous. We’re happy with how it’s turning out. So yeah that’s all I got this week for you guys, thanks, see you around.
Tom Johnson (TJ): Hi everyone, Tom here again. We’ve now completed our mini summit of planning for Squadron 42 so now all the USA contingents have gone back to their respective studios. Yeah its been a huge help to have them over and really get together to plan this all out and now the teams are all going away and driven into their schedules to tighten things up and make sure the resources levels for what we need to do.
News on the live team, I’ve just spoken to the production team there. They’re working on an audio issue which they’re hoping to patch out to you guys if you can just get on top of that we’ll be getting a fix in as soon as possible for this audio distortion a few of you might be hearing at the moment and obviously we are also working towards the goals for 2.2.
So a bit of news from the animation team that you might be interested in. There’s obviously the works that’s going on for FPS and we’ve recently implemented some stuff on the AI side which you might have seen in to do with cover, but the team have a vast amount of shoot data capture last year so they’re busily working away at chopping through all that stuff, reviewing it, seeing what bits are required and what we can implement and what it is we want and don’t want.
We’re also looking at tools for ways in which we can actually automate a lot of the process because it’s very monotonous task to constantly to have to manage the data. So we are always looking for ways in which we can put things together and try and get a tool to do a lot of that heavy lifting for us. We’re always looking for improvements and ways we can speed things up to get you guys the results faster. So that’s about it for this week, that’s my bit for around the verse and I’ll see you guys in the verse!
Brian Chambers: Hey everyone, Brian Chambers from the Frankfurt office. This week a lot of the guys on the team were still planning, at least on the production end, getting through with cinematics, animation and design and so on. On the tech side, one of our guys are working on, or a few of our guys actually on patching improvements. Make things easier for players, less data pass through and all that which will be a welcome improvement for everybody.
Been doing some tools work for cinematics, pretty important tools that allow guys to get in there and do some stuff more efficiently so they can pull scenes together easier and they’ll be a bit more dynamic tools we’re getting online. Continued on procedural planet stuff getting into physics work right now which is pretty cool. Hopefully you guys see that in the coming…in the future. With me I’ve got Francesco, he’s been in here before, Francesco Roccucci, lead AI programmer. Thought I would brings him in and he can tell you what him and team have been working on.
Francesco Roccucci: Hi everybody, my team in general has been working on a lot of interesting stuff like mainly during the last week and basically this week, we’re focusing on perception factoring, we want to add an a lot more efficient way to create the perception of our characters, especially characters. So, we are refactoring the vision using the basics of the visual map so we have a better efficient way to cache information about vision and understand what’s around and what we are interested in.
Then we will be moving to audio perception where we’ll concentrate on how perception from the audio works in space and not in space. So when they is atmosphering areas and we have audio… sound moving around, so if our player is in no atmosphere, he will not receive audio but he’ll receive maybe a radio signal.
BC: Yeah, I actually read some of those documents on that, on how the sound is going to travel based on the environments and how that affects the AI. That’s going to be a trip once that comes together.
FR: It’s going to be very cool….
BC: You can already sense gameplay and using that to your advantage or disadvantage.
FR: Basically, all the behaviours will have to react to this, just connected to the perception factoring, we are also factoring some of the way we do behaviours. So, we are trying to add a better way to review our changes and work more people together on the behaviours.
FR: So, they’re not conflicting each other and being sure that all the changes we make are consistent with what we want to achieve at the end of the game.
BC: That’s cool.
FR: Yeah, then we’re moving to assignments that is a way for a designer to suggest to the AI what they would like to do in specific environments.
FR: For mission specific things. So if they want to defend some areas or something like this.
BC: Next week the team grows by one.
FR: Yeah, first of February we have a new junior member starting here. Very excited, so maybe we’ll introduce him to you guys.
BC: Yeah, we’ll bring him in here. He’ll definitely probably be shy but that’ll be cool.
FR: It’ll be fun.
BC: Awesome. All right, thanks again to all the backers for watching and you’ll hear from us next week.
Jared Huckaby: Thanks guys. I’m here with U.S. Art Director Mr. Mark Skelton. Mark how you doing? You can, you can shake this hand. How you doing?
Mark Skelton: Hey man how are you?
JH: I’m good. Welcome to L.A.
MS: Have you shown the fans your haircut?
MS: You haven’t?
MS: They didn’t know that you got your haircut? Show them your haircut
JH: No. I haven’t revealed it yet
JH: No, that’s not what this is about.
MS: You should show them. You should show them right now.
JH: Maybe at the end if you do a good interview. If you do a good job I will reward you
MS: That’s my reward?
JH: With a look at my cue head
MS: Alright. I’m going to preface it by saying you look like an escaped lunatic. With your..
JH: Before the haircut or after the haircut?
MS: After the haircut.
MS: Just so you need to, we need to get the hat off.
JH: U.S. Art Director.
MS: You’re probably wondering why I have this gun
JH: No. That’s like the one thing i’m not wondering about.
MS: I’m not either. It’s because i’m in L.A.
JH: Alright here let me see it real quick
MS: It’s because I come from..Ah see you took my fun toy away. Since i’m here in L.A. and I’m from Austin. I work in the Austin office. Now that i’m in L.A. I get to room with the world famous Steve Bender who is our Animation Director here at CIG. Who is absolutely the most entertaining person I think i’ve ever met besides yourself.
JH: He’s interesting, he’s interesting.
MS: Yeah, It’s hilarious officing with him because he will get on Skype calls and he’ll have these guns.
JH: No you have to do the..
MS: He’ll have these guns
JH: This is Steve Bender
JH: This is Steve Bender on a Skype call standing up “No you have to do it like this. You have to do it. That’s not what I told you to do. You have to do it like this”.
MS: Yeah or he’ll go “Here’s how to kill a man.” And he’ll look straight at me and i’m like “Oh no Bender please! Don’t kill me!”. But he’s great man, he’s animated.
He’s got this like space in front of him so he’s constantly like, he’s very animated it’s great it’s a lot of fun hanging out with him. But anyway
JH: Justin you’re going to be tempted to cut all of this. Don’t.
Thomas Hennessy: I would say it made a much better for stage show than anybody on the camera because you just got up and moved out of your frames!
JH: So now we’ve talked about Steve Bender
JH: U.S. Art Director.
MS: That’s me. Wait that’s not him that’s me
JH: That’s you. What’s the U.S. Art Director?
MS: Basically what it is, is i’m going to be helping the L.A. Art Team a little bit. Take a little bit of responsibility off of Forest. Just because the poor dude is just buried. Oh my God he’s got so much work on his plate, and he’s fantastic at what he does he’s just very very buried. So kind of come out to start helping with that, managing the team a little bit just, you know walk around
JH: you’re splitting your time between L.A. and Austin
MS: I am. So it’s probably going to be initially probably half and half but we’ll see where it goes. It just depends on, kind of where my focus needs to be but currently, gosh i’ve got my hands into everything right now.
JH: Before you were the Persistent Universe Art director
MS: Specifically. Which I still cover that. I mean I guess that’s still my main job is Persistent Universe but it’s kind of expanded a little bit since, again it’s like L.A. needs a little more art management that’s all. Because It’s just burying poor Forest man
JH: Now since the last time we had you for interview we’ve gained something like four hundred or five hundred thousand citizens.
MS: Pounds? Oh, oh citizens, I thought you were talking about my weight.
JH: So for those of you have never seen you before, have no idea who you are. When did you join Star Citizen?
MS: Oh geeze man i’ve been here like almost since the beginning.
JH: I was going to say it’s pretty early
MS: Maybe six months after, maybe six months after the, the Kickstarter thing.
JH: Ok and your first position was?
MS: My first position was Lead Character Artist actually.
JH: And the first thing you did was the 300 commercial?
MS: Yeah the, specifically the RSI suit that was in that commercial. The red suit.
JH: That was a cool suit!
MS: Yeah I liked it
JH: Is it coming back? Is it going to be in stores at some point?
MS: I hope so. I think they re. They’ve redone portions of it to make it more compliant to the way that we do it now. So I wasn’t good enough! That hurts me right in the feels
JH: Hopefully there was a clip of that. Of the commercial there while we were talking. Ok so what do you work, you started as Character Artist and went to Persistent Universe Director and now you’re U.S. Art Director
MS: Yeah, well I so at that point in time Chris Olivia was with us and he was the overall Creative Director. So basically I stepped up to help him because he was getting overwhelmed and kind of buried. So I stepped up to help him to kind of do Art Direct kind of everything but then obviously we grew and the project grew and we found a need to break down more individual things.
So I started gravitating towards environments because the previous company I had worked with I had done quite a few environments with them. So I brought a lot of ideas about how modularity should work. Because obviously with two hundred plus whatever locations we have. We need to think smarter not harder. Work smart not harder.
So I brought that to the table started thinking about it and started pulling people in, that had knowledge about that to help me kind of flesh out the direction of the Persistent Universe environments should go.
It kind of gravitated towards that while I was doing the ships and the character work which again got a little bit overwhelming and then Squadron 42 came online and..Which was great because they brought an entire team with them and had an Art Director and some really quality guys. So we were able to split up some of the art tasks that way which saved my sanity!
JH: Ok. Now environments. We’ve already started showing people ArcCorp, coming up next is Nyx and then..So what can you tell us about Nyx right now?
MS: So Nyx we’re just kind of doing the final touches on finishing up the art side of it. Obviously there’s a lot more than just the art side of it. There’s quite a few Designer tasks and programming tasks. There’s a lot of optimisation involved right now at this point. You get right towards the end and you start looking at your numbers and trying to figure how to bring it back to reality ‘cause right now it’s..
JH: You make it look as good as it can and then you have to start figuring out…
MS: Yeah that’s what you do, yeah
JH: It’s like carving a statue out of marble. You have to start with the biggest baddest thing you can and start widdling down
MS: Or ice cream. You start with a big thing of ice cream and then..nah nah, whatever. What you said sounds a lot better than what I said. So yes marble it’s a good one! Yeah.
JH: After Nyx?
MS: After Nyx what we’re working on right now, actually I just came from a meeting about this. We have blocked out Hurston Dynamics. We are working on that location which is going to be really cool. I really like the..What really makes an environment interesting and cool is the history like the backstory of it.
That’s like when you go to like England or look at like Mayan temples or anything like that, that has a bunch of history to it. Like the Lord of the Rings, it has a deep sense of historical value it always makes the visuals a lot more interesting. Because you’ve got something to grab on to and expand on.
So Hurston is really interesting it’s like this… I always see it as this 1920’s like, dustbowl type, “Railroad Tycoon” kind of crazy cooter.
JH: When we’re done here i’m going to ask Tony for footage and if he says “Yes”. You’ll be looking at footage while we’re talking here. And if he doesn’t say yes who knows what you’re going to see.
MS: Tap dancing cats.
JH: Tap dancing cats! Cat Juggling. So going back to Hurston. You said modularity, Hurston’s going to advantage of some of that modularity.
MS: Yes it is. We are going to be using, reusing previous pieces that we made and repurpose them for. Now repurposing a lot of what that entails is swapping out materials, swapping out lighting, rearranging the layout obviously, using a different colour palette completely. Usually if you can add some component pieces just to kind of break it up a little bit, then you got a whole new set.
You got something you can use for a whole new planetside location with like a quarter of the time and effort that it took to get those pieces in the first place. So the re-use of the pieces are time and money saving in the long run, quite a bit.
JH: Now we’re going to have several tile sets.
MS: Yeah, oh yeah, yeah
JH: I don’t know if tilesets is the right word
MS: Yeah sets that’s pretty much, but modularity sets
JH: Ok Modular sets. So like ArcCorp and Hurston would share a set. But Nyx would not?
JH Nyx would be a second set.
MS: Nyx was always considered our kind of space station set. So going forward we’re going to use that set quite a bit on space stations or other like asteroid stations and stuff like that. It lends itself perfectly to that.
The reason why is ‘cause in that set there’s a lot of pieces that reinforce almost like mining outfits where you’ve got hydraulics that hold the ceiling up and big walls that are made for cave-ins or preventing cave-ins stuff like that. That kind of stuff is great for like underground asteroid cool stuff. Like we use some of the pieces actually out of the asteroid hangar so some of that stuff was re-used
JH: Isn’t the asteroid hangar located on Nyx?
MS: Yes. We originally had started with the asteroid hangar. We had done that and then used the pieces to kind of, we didn’t use all of the pieces but a lot of the pieces we expanded on to start the Nyx site.
JH: So before we let you go anything you want tell Star Citizen community anything else you want us to know about? Hopefully we got some images of Nyx, hopefully we got a video of Hurston if we didn’t I apologise for whatever we put in its place.
MS: Do I want to say anything..I didn’t do it. Whatever it is I didn’t do it. Ok? Whatever comes up on the internet which i’m sure there’s a lot, you guys are going to research me,swear to God it wasn’t me, it was a dude who looked me, it wasn’t me. That’s all I have to say
JH: Used to be me. I used to be the guy that looked like you.
MS: That’s right
JH: Not anymore though
MS: We used to get, we used to get mixed up a lot.
JH: Do it,do the reveal it
MS: Oh was the interview that good?
JH: See? We don’t look like each other
MS: Ta-Da! Escaped lunatic. No you know who you look like? Do you know who Tank Abbot is?
MS: That’s who
JH: I had a mohawk. When I shaved I actually had a mohawk for a while. I looked a whole lot more like Tank Abbot
MS: That’s who you look like. Maybe I look like an escaped lunatic now?
JH: Yeah. Alright guys thanks for joining us Mark Skelton.
MS: Thank you. I appreciate your time.
JH: Back to
MS: Also known as Disco Lando
JH: Back to you guys.
BL: Well now you know it’s really open development because we are sharing all the Skeltons in our closest
SG: Oh boy! We should show the picture of Mark Skelton doing Jujitsu. Have you seen that one?
BL: That’s on the Cloud Imperium’s Facebook page I guess our HR person thought that would help convince people to come work here. So please check out the Cloud Imperium Games official Facebook page. There’s Mark Skelton doing Jujitsu
SG: Coming up next Pete Mackay, John Pritchett and Calix Reneau sit down to discuss Star Citizen’s flight model in this week’s ship shape.
JH: Thanks guys. On this week’s ATV Ship Shape we’re sitting down with the Star Citizen Flight Team to play a game of Hats vs. No Hats.
Calix Reneau (CR): I think we’re winning.
JH: No, ah, we want to sit down with the Star Citizen Flight Team and give an update on the flight model, where it’s been, where it is and, hopefully, a little bit about where it’s going. So with us today is Physics Programmer Mr. John Pritchett; Designer Pete Mackay; and Designer Calix Reneau.
JH: Hey. So let’s do a quick recap from the very beginning here for folks who haven’t been following the project and whatnot. The flight model: what’s IFCS?
John Pritchett (JP): Okay, well you know our goal from the beginning was to try to create a system to help manage flight control for the ships and not just to do the typical things like pitch, roll and yaw but also to have a system that was dynamic enough to deal with when thrusters are damaged or blown off and things like that. So IFCS is a dynamic system that that sort of learns how to fly the ship from moment to moment and corrects in order to give the best flight performance that it can based on your equipment.
JH: Okay, we’re going to use this acronym a few times during this conversation so what does IFCS stand for?
JP: Intelligent Flight Control System.
JH: Okay, and in the beginning that was paired with something called ComStab?
JH: Yep. Now I know we’re sort of moving away from ComStab but when we started what was ComStab?
JP: Okay, well ComStab was just one part of many systems under IFCS. And the goal of ComStab originally was “command level stability” and the idea was that at a high level you were controlling the ship and you want to have controlled turns and controlled maneuvers. And so with ComStab on it would make calculations to guarantee that those maneuvers were achieved in as well a controlled way as possible.
CR: It’s functionally similar to GSafe: you are sending IFCS into a mode it looks for certain values of what your ship is attempting to do and sort of shoves it over a little bit to make it fit what it’s allowed to do.
JH: There was a lot of anti-slide back in the day right?
JP: Right, well the most obvious example of that was it was originally meant to be a controlled turn so it’s a nose forward turn, you’re always flying tangential to your turn radius. As opposed to now if you rotate faster than you can fly you’ll just kind of spin around, you’ll slide or whatever. But that was fairly unpopular early on so it turned into an anti-slide system so that you wouldn’t slide too much.
JH: It would slow you down to make the turns and stuff.
JP: Yes. Yes. So if you are turning at a certain rate then there’s a certain velocity that you can maintain in order to avoid sliding out.
CR: At the flight speeds that we were having it didn’t feel good but basically you can see that same system in cruise mode right now. It’s not exactly the same but it’s pretty similar to how we were doing it before. Your rotation rates are going to scale back as you start going faster and faster. So you’re not going to be able to pitch or yaw or rotate away from your flight vector if you can’t actually go there.
JH: Now the last time we talked about this, you mentioned that first flight model was basically what we could get done at that time. In order to get things started. Because we needed to get Arena Commander going. We needed to start testing the game and all these other systems were waiting. So we did the best version, or rather you did the version of that flight model you could at that time. But we always knew we wanted to go back, make some changes and that eventually lead to Flight Model 2.0 or IFCS 2.0.
JH: What’s IFCS 2.0. I’m going to make Pete talk because he hasn’t talked yet!
Pete Mackay (PM): Well really it was to finish it off. And I think we started on that, when was that, about a year ago probably we had our first conversation? John and I did, about what we wanted to do with that. And at the time it wasn’t just IFCS 2.0 but a whole umbrella of thruster upgrades and all of that stuff.
PM: So we sat down and talked about what we wanted and one of the major features that came out of that, well there were two major features that came out for IFCS. That was the addition of different flight modes, which have now become precision, SCM, and cruise mode. And then the concept of what SCM mode is: which is the dynamic maximum velocity system that sets your maximum velocity based on your capability. Whether that’s how heavy, in terms of mass, your ship is or how powerful your thrusters are. So your maximum velocity could change instead of being as static value that we set in an XML somewhere.
So those were the two major pieces that came out what we wanted to do but then over time, as we were working towards implementing that, there’s been a whole host of improvements to how IFCS works that are, I don’t know that there’s a lot that’s really player facing, but there’s been a lot of work that’s been done under the hood.
JH: I know a lot of work has been done to evaluate thruster placement on some of our ships and, you said mass, we changed the way boost works a little bit: added afterburner.
PM: Yes. So that was actually just a natural extension of SCM, because boost always increased your acceleration and since SCM was dependant upon your acceleration so if you increase your boost or increase your acceleration through the use of boost then your maximum velocity would naturally increase. So that was a nice “freebie”.
JH: Now this system’s been in since Alpha 2.0. We’re now at 2.1 live so we’ve had some time with it. What are some of the things you’ve heard fans say.
CR: Well one of the other things that we’ve put in here is the third order motion. Putting in “jerk” and starting to tune those things. For the initial pass we were really aiming to recreate the performance we had. But in order to do so in a timely manner, while we were still trying to learn what the system meant and all of its consequences, we allowed a small amount of “goal time slide”. That means a lot of our ships are performing sometimes as much as a second slower than they used to and people are noticing.
JH: What? Are they telling us on the forums?
CR: They are!
CR: And now it’s a matter of going in and revisiting the accelerations available to our ships so that we can return to having a lot of maneuverability. One of the things that I think has been successful is that you don’t see people doing any of the button mash strafe. It’s not a thing any more. A couple of other things got caught up in removing that and people are not able to do the fast and crazy “knife fights” that they used to and I think that those are actually a healthy staple of our smallest ships.
CR: We want that in addition to some of the stuff we’re seeing now: the larger turn fights, the chasing using cruise and SCM and switching between these modes. Basically people have been responding to this and want the maneuverability and they also want the host of options: so your ability to chase, jumping into quantum, disappearing and then being able to track that person. That’s something that’s exciting and doing combat in cruise isn’t particularly supported at the moment but the people that have pulled it off: it’s been very interesting. It’s actually, even the ones that have pulled it off, have been fairly unsuccessful, usually friends shooting at each other but there’s potential here to expand upon the flight and combat behaviours that we’ve been seeing.
CR: And that’s generally what people are asking for: to see the maneuverability returned, to see … in addition to all these things we’re updating how we are tracking our ships so we have better and deeper numbers and are able to better get the actual performance data of our ships so I can say that this ship is sliding too much or too little or has too much boost or all those things. We’re able to track that better or we’re able to compare ships to each other better.
JH: Are you suggesting that the ships in the game are not finished?
CR: I’m afraid that I am suggesting that.
JH: Ah well, it’s part of being in an alpha.
CR: Yeah, I regret to inform you.[Jared chair sinks on cue]
CR: I didn’t realise it would deflate you so.
JH: Finding out the game wasn’t finished just dropped me on my Saturn. Let me just fix, what that did to my framing.
CR: Another one actually that I was talking with John about recently is third order motion is the amount of time, or the acceleration of acceleration. And we track it as a singular element of the flight performance which means we have symmetrical ramp up and ramp down for our third order motion, for our ‘jerk’. And that is beginning to prove problematic in some areas of how the ships feel particularly when you are making frequent or small changes to what you are doing. You’ll do a thing and then you’ll see it continue and overshoot before it reacts and so we’re looking at addressing the ramp up and ramp down separately.
JH: Now we do, right now, we do IFCS for all but at some point in our development as we continue on, we’re going to allow individual component changes to IFCS.
JH: Different modules that can actually, the precision mode, the SCM mode…I know it’s really early, can we talk a little bit about that.
PM: Yeah, it’s basically taking a large block out, a lot of people have seen our XML, it’s really taking a block out of the ship XML and putting it into an item XML and letting that item be swapped out. It will track things like the performance on a given axis or we can do pretty much anything is tuned into the ship XML but on an item basis. We can offer that as a package, like different manufacturers will offer different feature sets for the ships. We’re talking about even extending it beyond the flight mechanics into some other area of the game, which I can’t really talk about just yet.
PM: The idea is making all of it modular and so you could potentially have 3-4 different ones per ship. We’re not there yet but it’s a possibility it could happen, then that door is just open that over time we get more and more added.
JH: It’s exciting to think that when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and you come across a Vanguard or something. You know how the base model Vanguard may handle but after this person has changed their Comstab, changed their IFCS and what not. They’ve affected the mass of their ship, they’re using specific thrusters that are aftermarket, this ship may not handle anything like what you’d expect.
CR: When the ship rolls off the lot it’ll fly a certain way but once you spend a lot of time with it, it may fly that way anymore. It might fly the way you fly it.
JH: That is one of the I am most excited about in Star Citizen, these ships we are putting up, these are the floor models versions and then there’s a whole aftermarket for tuning them up and tricking them out and changing…I’m not going to say every characteristic but quite a robust number of them.
PM: Yeah, pretty much. I mean the support will be there that will let us behind the scenes change almost anything. I mean we can do that now but the difference is now that we can do it in an itemized way and do it so that a certain manufacturer might make certain types of IFCS modules so you’ll tend to see those kinds of setting and features across their range no matter what ship it’s for. It really helps with being able to theme it too.
JH: There are main Vanguards but this one is mine.
JH: So, besides the itemization of the IFCS and various flight control systems, anything else you can tell us about where we’re going with the systems. What are the next milestones you want to hit?
JP: Really a big change that should be coming here pretty quick is going to be introducing the lack of precision in thrusters, the idea that you’re not always going to get perfect control, even if it’s a perfect ship, you just fly it off the showroom floor. Some manufacturers will have more precise thrusters and some will have less.
JP: Really any motion right now you can really see, kind of perfection in the way it’s achieving that motion. So we’re going to introduce some turbulence and things like that so there’s a range of precision.
CR: We have a small amount of that in it already where I’ve actually been surprised, I’ll make a test level to check something out and I’ll have a ship there. I look over at it and just see it hovering…
JP: Sure, that’s being influenced by landing turbulence.
CR: Having that element of slight imprecision, that slight error in thrusters makes things behave much more realistically and much more interestingly.
JP: More alive.
CR: Yeah and being able to expand on that instability as you take damage, as you induce stress possibly from pulling hard G-turns….
CR: Heat and dealing with some sort of external forces. Those things are going to change the way that it flies and give you that turbulence which is great because you can feel it, you can see it and it’s just a win across the board.
JH: Or even damaged thrusters.
JH: Like when we’re in a Constellation and Calix is flying and you can’t move and wondering why. Were there for 5 minutes before we realized we don’t have thrusters on our ship anymore. It’s like, ‘oh, that’s why’. Now before we go, one of the more popular topics is atmospheric flight, now we’ve said this is something that will eventually make it into Star Citizen. Something that will probably come…we don’t want to say when but it’s a long term goal, kinda like the procedurally generated planets was and what not.
JH: As we ramped up, I know we’re starting to lay some of the foundation for that, so when it comes time, we don’t have to start from scratch what can you tell us about atmospheric flight now? Remember it’s not coming tomorrow or anytime soon guys. Just is there something you can tell us about atmospheric flight? I know that in Arena Commander the racing mode that is not atmospheric flight.
CR: No. There is no atmosphere in New Horizons.
JH: Yeah that’s a video game within a video game. We strive for perfection, maybe Electronic Access does not
CR: The thing about atmospheric flight and really everything about IFCS is that it’s completely agnostic to the condition of the ship. So if you take the ship and you say I want to make a right turn I want to roll, I want to yaw, I want to strafe. It’s going to attempt to do those things and then deal with the forces it encounters.
CR: So if we add forces, inflicting forces upon the ship by way of atmospheric resistance doing any sort of drag or lift calculations to apply forces to this ship it’s going to work just right out of the box. The question that we’re dealing with now is what is the best way to apply those forces to these ships?
JH: What is the best way?
JP: I really don’t want to get into a lot of aerodynamics with our ships I kind of like to just
PM: I mean a Constellation’s not very aerodynamic.
JP: No I mean in the game I don’t to get into aerodynamics for our ships I don’t want to have to aerodynamics I want to really treat it more as you’re flying a spaceship into atmosphere so you got some more turbulence going on, but you’re still flying it with your thrusters you’re not dealing with control surfaces for turns and things like that. If that’s the case then it should work pretty well as designed. It will be interesting having atmospheric drag because then your thrusters are always pushing to give you the constant velocity whereas in space once you get there the thrusters turn off. What we talked about the turbulence from precision from the thrusters you’ll see a lot of turbulence just from flying through atmosphere and things like that
JH: Alright thank you guys. This was a nice little refresher on the flight model. We’ve done one of these before we’ll put the link right down here if you want to see where this conversation started a couple months ago. John, Pete, Calix thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us. Back to you guys.
SG: Ben, the envelope please.
BL: We’re back to envelopes.
SG: Yay, we have an envelope with some nice tape on the back.
BL: Fundings going great.
SG: The winner is….Froogle.
BL: Froogle did a fantastic learn to fly video about some of the troubles that people have when they are first starting out in Star Citizen. Troubles that will hopefully be alleviated by updates to the tutorial in the future but for now we got you guys. Thank you very much Froogle. We just like saying Froogle.
SG: At first I thought it said Frogle but..
BL: No, that’s a different guy.
Froogle: Assign to the yaw, you can see the yaw in this is much more responsive than in Elite Dangerous and there are G-effects in this as well so if you go too fast and pull too hard a maneuver you can blackout your pilot which is realistic. The Newtonian physics really comes in when you have something…..
SG: And now here is your Art Sneak Peek.
BL: Well, I don’t know what that was but we can find out and tomorrow on Reverse the Verse at 11 am Pacific on Twitch, we’ll tell you and we’ll answer all your other Star Citizen questions so tune in.
SG: Did you have a RockStar today?
BL: No, we gotta get more RockStar in the office.
SG: Of course, thank you as always to our subscribers for making this show possible. We will see you next week on Around the Verse.
BL: Around the Verse.