It’s Around the ‘Verse time at CIG! Check out The Relay’s transcript of the show.
Transcript by CanadianSyrup, Sunjammer, WangPhat, Psylence, Erris
Jared Huckaby (JH): This week. Martial Arts enter Star Citizen
We sit down with Global Head of Production Erin Roberts to discuss things all Foundry 42
And we explore the origins of our 3D printed Retaliator with Mr Combustible in the Wonderful World Of Star Citizen.
Also, what happened to my Art Sneak Peek!
All this and more in this week’s Around the ‘Verse
Ben Lesnick (BL): That was a hell of a flip
Sandi Gardiner (SG): That was a hell of a flip and it exploded.
BL: That as such things do
SG: Hello everyone it’s time for another episode of Around the ‘Verse for you weekly dose of Star Citizen’s updates from Cloud Imperium Games headquarters in Los Angeles. I’m Sandi Gardiner
BL: I’m Ben Lesnick
SG: And Ben what can we do in Star Citizen today?
BL: Well it’s not all backflips and explosions although there are a fair number of explosions. We’ve got Arena Commander which is our single seat dogfighting battle system. We’ve got Area 18 or ArcCorp which is our sample planetary Environment where you can walk around and look at different shops and interact with players. The real meat of the game right now is in Crusader which we also call our Mini Persistent Universe. That lets you fly over 30 of our different ships, some of them with multiple crewman at once. You can fly missions, you can land and engage in FPS combat, you can explore distant regions of space and see how Star Citizen is coming together
SG: That is quite a lot going on and what is the team currently working on today?
BL: Well the team has just locked down Star Citizen down Star Citizen Alpha 2.3 which introduces the flyable Xi’An Scout and the hangar ready Starfarer as well as some other systems, bug fixes, balance changes and we put that out to the PTU our Public Test Environment at the end of last week and we’re getting ready for the live release which should be hopefully very very soon and once that happens the team will move on to Star Citizen Alpha 2.4. Which will include some new surprises.
SG: 2.3 to the PTU kept us very very busy last Friday with the addition of the Xi’An Scout flyable, have you had a chance?
BL: I have not had a chance to fly the Xi’An Scout yet, but I did get to look around the Starfarer.
SG: mm, Starfarer is also hangar ready and it is a huge ship.
BL: It is a lot bigger than we ever intended. Back at the very very start of this thing when it was just a couple of us in a room coming up with ideas, the intent for the Starfarer that it was essentially going to be the diligent fuel transport from Wing Commander like a truck cab with a big tank on the back of it, but we sent to Foundry 42 and they made a much larger ship.
SG: Yes and check out this special video we made.
Corentin Billemont (CB): So this one, you can actually go prone in this one. You can go to the maintenance room just like this.
CB: So you’re forced to be crouched in this space.
JH: There we go, okay
CB: This is a tool maintenance corridor
John Crewe (JC): So you have all sorts of access to components down here. So where these big boxes are on the wall these will be replaced with the actual ship components when they come online, so this is where you will go to repair damaged components.
BL: This has been a popular question. So everyone who has purchased a Starfarer Gemini in the past will get a standard Starfarer to look around in there hangar as a loaner ship.
SG: And one thing that may have been missed in all the hype was a very cool behind the scenes look at Andy Serkis.
BL: Andy is going to playing a Vanduul leader in Squadron 42 our cinematic single player adventure. It’s really exciting for the team to be able to work with someone who’s name is essentially synonymous with motion capture, but here take a look at a sample.
SG: He and Patrice speaking in another language is pretty cool.
BL: Yes and as Chris mentions in that interview were going to be getting the work we did on the Vanduul language out to the public so everybody can learn to speak Vanduul.
SG: The Vanduul Light Fighter Blade also went on sale this weekend. The Blade is the Vanduul clans dedicated Light Fighter. The equivalent of the … Ben you’re trying to get me to say Wing Commander ships again. He sets me up everytime and I just read straight off the thing.
BL: Yes I was, guilty as charged, but the Blade is pretty cool. It is the Vanduul clans dedicated Light Fighter. One of the things we get over and over from people is, “how can we have more Vanduul ships to fly, how can we have more Vanduul ships to fly” and we wanted to come out with a ship that didn’t make it too easy to get them, but gave everyone the opportunity since they’ve always been number limited in the past. So if you’re looking for a Vanduul ship this is your opportunity.
SG: That was developed by Foundry 42 for Squadron 42.
BL: Yes! Infact all of the Vanduul ships from the smallest Blade to the largest Kingship were put together by Foundry 42 and they’re pretty cool.
SG: Our designers are currently answering your questions on the Blade. The first Q&A went up yesterday and an additional post will hit the Comm-link tomorrow.
BL: So if you have any last minute questions, post the mto the forums and we will consider them.
SG: Yay. Star Traders is heading into it’s final days of crowdfunding. If you’re interesting in a fun board game or supporting some Star Citizen veterans, take a look. A special thank you to David and Ryan for my doppelganger.
BL: It’s a cardboard Standup.
SG: Anytime I need a stand in I can put that there.
BL: Well you’re a better actress.
SG: Why thank you.
BL: David and Ryan have been doing a great job with this Kickstarter. We’re crossing our fingers and hoping it makes it, we all will be watching. I got to sit down with David for an after hours interview this week.
SG: Check it out.
David Ladyman (DL): The standup is supposed to stand
BL: She might knock down a light if she does, but by the way thank you all very much for this gift, this has been very popular in the office.
DL: I want to see a series of pictures.
SG: Tickets for CitizenCon went on sale this Friday and they’re all gone. We’re not saying that so we can be a tease, but rather we will have a livestream so everyone can join in.
BL: If you missed out you will still get a chance to experience everything and we can’t wait to hang out with everyone in person, it’s always the best day of the year for us.
SG: It is, it’s always a fun event. We also put printed Starmaps up for sale and I think as of writing this they might be gone too, but hopefully not otherwise that becomes a big tease. Grab them while they’re hot.
BL: If you really need your Star Citizen merchandize fix, customized dog tags are still available. Finally we’d like to thank Tyler Witkin to the community team. Many of you may know him from his work as Senior QA Tester in Austin. He’s going to be our next Community Manager and you can expect to see him on the forums.
SG: And he’s coming here next week to hang out with us and go over stuff.
BL: Yup, we’ll have him on the show and we will warn him what he’s up against.
SG: So be nice. Now lets check in with our individual studios to find out what they’re up to in News From Around The Verse.
Darian Vorlick (DV): Hey everyone, welcome back to sunny Los Angeles, I’m Darian Vorlick, production coordinator of Cloud Imperium Games Los Angeles and we’ve got one of our new members with us today.
Justin Wentz (JW): Justin
DV: Justin Wentz, you’re part of the, which team?
JW: I’m part of the concept team.
DV: There we go. So for this week, with the tech design working on the Xi’An Scout, making it flight-ready, so you guys saw it in the hangar recently, so after that is making sure you guys can get it and fly in it. That’s an exciting step that we’re looking forward to. And with Justin, he’s got two exciting pieces that he’s working on as concept artist. What’d ya got?
JW: Well, I’m working on the big cargo ship, the Caterpillar at the moment, figuring out the crew quarters, working on a couple pieces for that, it’s a large room at the moment.
DV: So concepting the Caterpillar, how big is that thing going to be?
JW: I don’t remember the unit size. It’s really big.
DV: And the crew quarters is basically where people are going to be staying in, correct?
JW: Yep, y’know we got some bunk beds in there, a kitchen area, bathroom, meeting area.
DV: Nice, so, you can see it’s gradually expanding, we’re culminating a lot of the player-universe type stuff. So once again that’s all we got for Los Angeles, I’m Darian Vorlick.
JW: And I’m Justin.
DV: Thanks guys.
Jake Ross (JR): Hey guys, Jake Ross, producer of the Austin studio. And I’m here with you this week to talk with you a little bit about what we got going on here.
So, first off, I want to talk about Hangar Storage, along with Shopping, which is coming out here in the near future, we want to give you guys the ability to go in shops and purchase things and things like that so, but, with purchasing things, the next part of that is where do you put the things that you purchase.
So, we’re now kind of getting into the design phases of what we’re calling remote storage – which is basically where things that, spaces where you can kind of have to store your things remotely. It’s pretty self explanatory. So, part of that is also, in the hangar, so we want to create spaces in the hangar where you can guys can, once you buy things, you can have them delivered to the space in your hangar that you can then access. So we’re kind of in the initial design phases of that so that we can kind of close that shopping loop of buying, storing then eventually selling back and buying, selling, storing and that stuff.
So, yeah, we’ve got Rob Reiniger, the designer here in Austin looking at that, so looking forward to see that come online here in the near future. We’ve also got, speaking of the hangars, Port Modification, what’s that? you may ask.
It’s a system developed here by Jeff Zoo, gameplay programmer here in Austin, that allows you to basically, customize your hangar, we’re finally at the point now where we’ve completed revamped the way the hangars are set up. One of the first things that we released to you guys, so they are pretty old, pretty legacy, so we’ve revamped the way they are set up.
We are now working out what we’re calling Port Modification, where we’re, as a player, you can walk around with your mobiGlas and actually, y’know, if you find a port in your hangar, let’s say like a little pedastal, you can click that port in your mobiGlas and actually be able to switch out flair items, y’know, you could move storage around, you’ll be able to actually in-game choose which ships go in which bays, so you no longer have to do that stuff through the website, you’ll actually be able to do that in-game.
So we’re happy to finally that coming online, now we just need to pretty it up with UI and that’ll be in your hands pretty soon, so that’s pretty cool. Last thing I’ll mention is platform persistence conversations that are going on right now, so Jason Ely, the lead server engineer here in Austin has been having conversations with Turbulent to talk about persistence and some of the things that we do on the platform side – like Free Fly weekends and things like that – that we would like to take into consideration when we’re developing persistence backend.
So we wanna make sure we’re planning things in a way where we don’t have to put Free Fly weekends on a hiatus because we, because the backend work hasn’t caught up or anything like that. So we’re trying to plan that out intelligently so we’re not interrupting things that the community team want to do with you guys.
So, those conversations are ongoing, on a weekly basis, and we’ll be supporting a lot of that stuff here in the backend in the near future as it comes online. That’s all I got for you with this week guys, thanks, see you, bye.
Tom Johnson (TJ): Hello, Tom here, I’m just on my own this week, it’s kind of busy at the moment, there’s lots going on, personally sort of recruiting for the new producer positions here and yeah, so there’s plenty of teams here at the moment still looking to hire.
There’s lots going on with the vertical slice review of Squadron 42 coming up tomorrow, we’re putting builds into QA and really sort of hammering out all the blockers we’ve got on that to get this build nice and stable and ready to review Chris.
Then there’s lots of work going on the ship front as always, the team are already busy, working on some of the big ships, like the Idris and Bengal, they are moving on to the Vanduul fleet, well further iterations on the Vanduul fleet which are put on hold to focus on these, there are some ships you’ll be getting you hands on in SC Live in the not too distant future too.
Since the Starfarer is looking really, really cool, hope you guys enjoy getting your hands on that when that goes out flight ready. And, yeah, on the game code and the FPS code side, there’s lots of features still being worked on, on the UI team, importantly.
So, there’s player health system, there’s the scanning and radar features, there’s vault and mantling there’s some prototypes of sniper rifles and guns – so lots of cool stuff, all kinds of stuff going on and I apologize if it’s a little bit repetitive from the previous week. But obviously these features take a little bit longer than just a week to complete so there might be a little repetition but I’ll update with any new work that’s started and anything that you might think would be cool.
Such as landing in the back of capital ships is being worked on at the moment, so yeah, we’re taking some more implementation passes on automatic and manual, now looking at how to get a ship in the back of an Idris, so that’s pretty fun.
Hope you enjoyed that, I’m kind of out of time now, so I’ll say see you guys in the ‘Verse. Bye for now.
Brian Chambers (BC): Hey everyone, Brian Chambers from the Frankfurt office, solo again this week, everyone’s been busy – which is a good thing – don’t want to pull someone away if I don’t have to.
For cinematics team, cinematics team has been busy on all fronts, blocking out cameras, blocking out characters, pushing on tech. The hard thing with cinematics is that if I mention anything which specifically they are doing, I potentially give something away, which I should not do. I know you probably want but it’s best to save it all until, once you actually get it in your hands.
As far as the weapons go, two weapons guys we have here, made some improvements on existing weapons, did some testing in-game with some new weapons that they’re playing with right now, did some updates to the pipeline – making things a little bit more efficient, pump out things a little bit quicker – finalized two concepts, they have been going on for a while, and started another concept – so good progress going there.
On the engine side, not a lot of detail, but just to run over the stuff they’ve been touching on, continued work on the cinematics tools which is great for Honnis and his guys, they put things together, a lot more efficient, the tool works actually pretty, fairly important, because it’s going to enable the guys to do things, y’know, tasks that would take a tremendous amount of time putting all these pieces together, we can automate some of those things and we can y’know, pull ships together and certain states with tons of animation and push-and-pull those in place, it’s good energy we spent on those tools so we can push out the cinematics at a higher quality.
Continued work on the procedural planet tech, that’s going fairly good, it’s making great progress, working a lot with the Art team and understanding how everything is going to go together to work best for the procedural stuff. Pushing on bug fixing as they always do. Some of the build cache system, patching system, and crashing handler improvements which are good for us to get all that data and be able to sort it and read as best possible so then we can get it out to people to fix as quickly as possible.
AI, improvements on characters moving along predefined paths, code for that was completed, submitted and then the documentation was also done for that. Sabotaged equipment in, completed, submitted and documented. General AI balancing, so we’re looking at the AI that’s in there, because it’s starting to grow and get more, more and more, so we’re getting to start balancing it a bit. So those behaviours make more sense in combination with the other ones. Some weapon accuracy for NPCs, we did a first pass of refinements for those, and also pushing on subsumption that you’ve heard Francesco and other guys talk about in the past.
Local Design, we had Andreas he’s working on the big landing zone, and reworking that and getting that more dialed in, Clemence working on a large base for the PU. ANd that’s coming together really cool, still early-on but it’s great to see the progress that’s going there.
On System design, we had Chris working on, with Francesco , the guys with AI behaviours, he’s prototyping stuff, implementing stuff, once the AI bits get done on the code, he can start playing with them, see how they work, y’know, back and forth together, that’s when Francesco and the rest of the AI guys can start tuning and playing with those to get it where they need to be.
Greg which is the newest guy for this system design team, working on Subsumption and interactors, brainstorming on radar and kind of what all that means around there. And he was doing some work on a Squadron 42 big fight – which I can’t tell you about. And Dan was away for a couple of days on vacation, so when he came back he was working on reputation, I guess I called it Reputation 2.0, pushing it more, and he was also working on Greg on the radar brainstorming – I think that is it for the team.
On effects, they are continuing to push on effects, I didn’t get a lot of visibility into that so far this week but sometimes with that no news is good news – just pushing and getting done with what we need.
Besides that, a lot of meetings, but making great progress across the board, again, thanks to all the backers for all their support, all the words, we had some backers in this week, which was cool, a whole group of 10 guys came in and hung out with the team, which is fun – it’s always good to see the support, it’s great for the team, because we get pumped up seeing how excited everyone is. Thanks again, and see you next week.
SG: Next up Jared sat down with our Global Head of Production, Erin Roberts to chat all things Foundry 42 in this week’s ATV interview. Check it out.
JH: Thanks guys. On this week’s ATV Interview we’re sitting down with Foundry 42 Studio Director and Global Head of Production, Mr Erin Roberts. Erin, how you doing man?
Erin Roberts (ER): It’s good to see you again.
JH: So thanks for taking the time to be on the show here. You’re only in town for this week. And you’ve been very busy, you’ve been in meetings with Ricky and Tony. And discussing all manner of …
ER: Yeah, we have Todd in town as well. Just doing a bunch of design stuff on the Persistent Universe side of things.
JH: Very cool.
ER: So we’re working a lot on everything like that and, yeah, it’s been great being here and seeing the the new office take shape. It’s fantastic.
JH: It’s getting there. I think we’re not quite in “final art” yet. I think we’re past “grey box” but we’re getting there. We’ll be flight ready here real soon. So I wanted to talk to you about Foundry 42. Since you guys came on board we’ve gained hundreds of thousands of new Citizens, and we don’t always get to showcase the work that you guys do because our Community department is located here in LA. So I wanted to take time to really let people know what Foundry 42 is, what they contribute to Star Citizen and then maybe, at the end of this, take a peek forward. So why don’t you … let’s start at the very beginning, what were you doing before Foundry 42?
ER: Okay. So I was working for, before I joined the great team here, I was working for ten years on the Lego games. We were working on all the games such as Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones. That’s what I was doing. I came back to the UK from the US about ten years before and that’s when I started working with Traveller’s Tales and having a great time there doing stuff with them.
JH: I remember the very first time we met Ben gave me crap because I was in a room with you and Chris, and he was like “Hi, I’m Chris Roberts” and I was “Yeah, Chris Roberts is cool” and then I found out you made the Lego games and I made a bee-line to you to talk about the Lego games. I don’t expect you to remember that. Ben was like “Do you like the Lego games?” I was “I love the Lego games!” So it was like my Wing Commander … well not quite my Wing Commander for Ben but … nothing’s like his Wing Commander for Ben.
Now before that, even going back, you’ve worked with Chris on many games. The Privateer series specifically …
ER: Yep, I started working with … well way, way back originally he used to make games on the BBC Micro (the guys in the UK will know what we’re talking about there) before he went to the US and then he made a game called Times of Lore for the Commodore. I helped out a little bit on that, not much. The game I really did most of my, I guess, real work on was the original Wing Commander where I did a lot of scripting for the AI and a bunch of testing work back when Origin was a very small company and we were just getting things going.
Then after that the other Wing Commander, then worked on Privateer and finished that up later on. And then it was Strike Commander I believe after that I worked on. And then after Strike Commander I believe Electronic Arts bought Origin and I then transferred back to the UK for a while. I’ve been back and forth to the UK and US a few times and that’s where I’m based, I produced and directed Privateer 2: The Darkening. And then went back to America, when Chris started Digital Anvil I joined them to do that. And that’s when I worked on Starlancer and stuff like that, with actually a few of the guys who work with me now in the UK office on Star Citizen.
JH: Alright. So you were working on the Lego games and it’s time Chris decides, or you decide? Tell me how did it come about we want to create a UK studio?
ER: So it was, let me think about it now, it must have been 2013. It would have been August because it was just after GamesCon. And Chris had just come back from GamesCon where I think they first showed the hangar. So it was probably about … just about 12 months … just less than 12 months in I guess starting. So Chris came back through to the UK and came through to visit me. And basically we just started getting talking. And we were just talking about it all, showing the stuff, and thought nothing about it. Had a nice weekend doing stuff together and things like that.
And then I was actually driving to the airport and just as we pull into the airport Chris literally … I stop off, I drop him off, we’re at the layby and of course you’re not allowed to wait, and Chris just opens the door and just says to me “Oh you know why don’t you come and join us?” And I’m just saying “You can’t … you could have had this conversation two days earlier when we actually had lots of time!” And he just said “You know, just have a think about it and then we’ll talk when I get back to the States.” And so it was one of these funny moments where I was going “Okay … “ and then we got the conversation going and it all came from there.
And the more I thought about it, I really enjoyed working on the Lego games and I didn’t think I would leave doing that but this was just such an opportunity to go and do something special, in a way that’s not been done before, it’s a challenge in terms of doing it this way and I just felt like I had … getting on a bit, you know, a bit long in the tooth now … and I felt like there’s one last big challenge in me and this is a challenge. And I love challenges and I do, kind of, enjoy the stress of making stuff work. I’ve built a few companies up and I do get the kick out of doing that. Because I built up my studio in Lego, and the Lego games up as well, from literally just seven of us and then we grew it to 200 odd. And I just enjoyed that, trying to get the team together, working on stuff like that. And so …
And it was just going to get to work with Chris again. I always enjoyed working with Chris because although he’s a very hard task master in terms of what he’s demanding, of what he wants to see, but that’s why he makes that level of game he does. Because he’s not just trying to hit a certain level, he’s going … he’s not even shooting for the moon, he’s going for the stars. Right? That’s Star Citizen. And so … and I like that because it pushes people to work harder and better. And if you just try and hit 50% of what he wants then you’ve got this incredible level of detail and imagination and the games you are making. And I quite enjoy that.
And we work well together because I’m very … obviously I’ve done a bunch of direction design myself and stuff, but I’m actually … quite … fold in quite easily into much more of the production and procedure side of stuff. Of making sure … when we have all these issues, my job is to make sure we have the right structures in place, build the stuff, go round and make sure we’re coordinating properly between the studios, make sure we’ve got the right teams and that kind of stuff. And that’s what I spent a lot of my time doing.
And then, every now and then, I get to sit down and do some design. Which I got to do today, and the last few days, which I really enjoy as well. But a lot of it, just at the moment … there’s quite a lot of travel: going round and making sure the organisation supports the needs of the game.
JH: Gotcha. Now I’m a person, I have three brothers. It would give me pause if I ever decided … if one of my brothers asked me to come and work for them. Because I’ve worked with my brothers before, so Chris has asked you start a UK studio …
JH: … did the brother thing come into it? How the brother thing work?
ER: So when we were younger we fought light cats and dogs, like really … you know you couldn’t … our parent’s could leave us in the house together it was that bad. But it was funny when … more probably from my side … but when we hit about … when I hit about 16, 17 then our relationship changed completely and we actually got on really well. So that side of stuff is really good. We still argue but it’s an adult argument and sometimes it gets a bit passionate and of course it always does and when I think something’s not right and so forth. And the great thing is we listen to each other and so forth. And at the end of the day Chris is the CEO so he makes the final decision but I’m quite happy to make … to have my opinion known as well. But that relationship … that works pretty well actually and that kind of stuff. Whereas when I was a bit younger and Chris, Chris was always two years older than me so he was always the elder brother so it was always a bit difficult.
JH: Gotcha, gotcha. Alright so you are creating a company, Foundry 42?
JH: Why not Cloud Imperium Games UK?
ER: Because we wanted to … so the reason why Chris bought us in … bought us in the first place? … asked us to come onboard in the first place, was to concentrate on Squadron 42. And so we wanted a name which was to do with “42” and so forth and things. And we like the idea of “Foundry” because you are building something. So we called it “Foundry 42”. It was the UK entity and stuff. And also there is already a Cloud Imperium Games UK as well …
ER: … which is a different part of the company and so forth. So we’re the development arm. And then the development arm, I don’t want to get into too much detail, it goes .. it’s owned by the publishing arm and so forth. It’s just all stuff …
JH: Get’s very convoluted on the levels of …
ER: So the development side was called Foundry 42. And Foundry 42 is not just the UK office now it’s also the German office as well. It’s part of the same company. So the whole European development arm is Foundry 42. And there’s now, I think about 220, 210 or 220 of us now in the two offices. It’s quite a big chunk.
JH: So you’ve agreed to start a company, you’ve got a name. What’s that process like? Where do you start? Obviously you have to find a place to work …
ER: Yeah so we had the discussion. I then made the really hard decision to hand in my notice and leave a bunch of guys I really enjoyed working with. And then I just started … the location I had set up the original company was in Wilmslow. We’d loved the location. I like … it was the reason I picked there in the first place. It’s got good transport hub: Manchester Airport is literally a five minute drive away, or you can walk in probably 15 or 20 minutes; there’s a mainline train station which goes through the company to London up to Manchester, which is literally a two minute walk from the office. And so we decided to stay in Wilmslow. So I went around and looked for buildings which were available, contacted a surveyor (in England a surveyor is someone that helps you get the property sorted) and then just took it from there. Built it out.
When I left there was a core group of about four guys who really wanted to join who have been working for me for years: Nick Elms is the Creative Director, Derek Senior who’s a Technical Director, Phil Mellor who’s the Lead Designer on Squadron 42. And so we all got together and we left Travellers at the same time. And then we were fortunate enough a few more guys from Travellers, once we’d left, contacted us and wanted to join us, and so forth. And so originally the core, maybe, 20 people were some guys from the Lego games. But then now the company is, like I said, I think in our office now, I think about 170 in the UK office and there’s probably, I mean, there’s now, it’s the vast, vast, majority of all people from a lot of different companies, from a lot of different countries, we’ve brought people back from Canada, from the US, they’ve come over from, y’know, all over Europe and so forth and things, we’ve got a really good development crew there.
JH: Now we announced Foundry 42 at CitizenCon that year, which was October, so between August and October, where was the company at, when we announced it?
ER: OK, so, so, well obviously from August, I basically handed in my notice and you take 4 weeks and so, I didn’t leave until, and so I didn’t hand in my notice until the beginning of September if I remember, so I was actually, I finally left working at Travellers in the beginning of October and then the company ran from my office at home for about 2-3 months.
So there was basically 5 of us working out of the office when we got going and there were people, remember, go way back and you might remember this, there was one or two shots we might have done in this very small area if you way, way back to the old art stuff, and that was in the old office and so the first guy to join us there was David Gill who we know as Bones who was our lead UI programmer and he was there as well with the office as we were getting the codebase and working the stuff from home and then we we working there while the office was getting built out, and of course as soon as we get into the office, we did, we got in so fast that literally that the builders were still working around us, so we just got little room sorted and we pulled over in there and we just put all the desks in there, by then we had another 3-4 people joining us and there was this little thriving group of us in this one room, and then when we finally got on the floor there was about 14 of us and then we just built from there really.
JH: This is one of those things that gets often forgotten, that whole first year, it’s, we’re building the game, but we’re also building the company, we’re still building the company.
ER: I mean, yeah we’re still building the company, I mean, and it’s not just about, it’s not just getting people, it’s getting the right people and..
JH: [nods and grunts agreeingly]
ER: …finding them and then once you get them in, you need to get them trained up, they’ve got to spend time learning the codebase and that sort of stuff. And so we grew from 14 to like 170 in the space of, what? Just a little bit over 2 years?
ER: And we are very selective about making sure we get the right people because if you get the wrong people in, it can really set you back in a lot of ways because you think stuff’s been covered, it’s not, it hasn’t been, you have to fix stuff up and so forth and things. It was like we were building the company. We started on one floor of the building we’re in, which is in Wilmslow and we then got the second floor last year and now we’ve just got another floor, which we just moved into a few months ago. So we’re on three floors now and then we basically decided to obviously go into the team structure. Pretty much the whole audio group, except from some support in Austin is all based in the UK and so then we had to, so we when moved floor, we had to then rebuild out and get proper audio suites and audio rooms in there, and so some of the backers who’ve done visits around our office will have seen it all and the layout and so forth and things. But it’s almost ever changing, just getting things sorted and then you grow and you need to make room for people, then we go through phases where everyone is just crammed in and it’s like some sort of sweatshop, and then we can get another floor and we can just like sort of like spread out.
JH: So, when did you move into that building, you said you were in…
ER: It was in December 2013.
JH: Alright, so December 2013 we’re talking, 14 months since the original pledge campaign started. We’ve got an Austin office, we’ve just built out an LA office, we’re just getting the UK office going, and you guys are just about to take over Squadron 42 development?
ER: Well yeah, the original idea was that we’d go and run with Squadron 42, yeah.
JH: So, what condition was Squadron 42 in when you took it over?
ER: Well, I mean, it was obviously, it was very basic, sort of barebones stuff, and things, like the whole project, I mean you can’t when you’re dealing, even having the leg-up of having the CryTek, obviously the technology needs, and has needed, and this is what everyone knows, we’ve spent a huge amount of resource and time last year on basically making sure it can run the way it needs to do to run the game and so forth, so we have like, just in terms of like 64-bit changes we had to make, all that kind of stuff is a huge amount of work we have to go through and so, you’re building the codebase out, you’re making all these sorts of changes to make the game work and Squadron 42 is the same, because obviously it’s a shared codebase so we’re working on it, so we basically started working on the assets, we came out with what the story plan was with Chris and Dave Haddock and then Will came on as well, working on the stuff and things, to get the story fleshed out and then we have a large design, started having designers and getting all the levels broken out, so we have a kind of, all sorts of different level sets to play through and so forth.
JH: Well Erin, that seems like a good place to pause for a bit, we’re going to stop here and come back next week with the rest of this talk. Back to you guys, Ben and Sandi.
ER: See you guys.
Erin Roberts (ER): Mission control can you read me, mission control can you read me. This is Commander Roberts, reaching command Squadron 42, come in.
Chris Roberts (CR): This is mission control, receiving you Commander.
ER: The eagle has landed, the eagle has landed. Strike lethal team is online
CR: Acknowledged Commander. Transmit identification data now.
ER: Transmitting now.
CR: Confirmed Commander, personnel validated. Strike team assembled. Mission is a go, I repeat, mission is a go, executive order Squadron 42. Good hunting Commander.
ER: Thanks control, good to be back.
JH: Welcome everybody to another episode of the Wonderful World of Star Citizen. I’m your host, Community Manager Jared Huckaby. Joining us today is our first time, two time featurette, here on the Wonderful World, Mr. Chris Wolfe, otherwise known as Combustible Props or Mr. Combustible. How ya doing man?
Mr. Combustible: G’day guys. Pretty good actually.
JH: So what should I call you? Should I call you Chris? Mr. Combustible? Combustible Props?
MC: Wolfy works. Whatever you feel comfortable with.
JH: Alright. Thanks Tim. Tim is the guy who… He’s done a lot of 3D printing. You may have seen him before. He did his full Star Marine outfit. He’s also responsible for that wonderful 3D printed Retaliator model that hangs in the back of our fan cave set. That was you, right Chris?
JH: I’m not misremembering anything?
MC: No. Myself and Firespikez worked on that.
JH: And Firespikez, who’s another Star Citizen fan favorite. He’s responsible for all that crab stuff, right?
MC: Yeah, with butter.
JH: Yeah. Alright. So crab stuff aside, we wanted to take a behind the scenes look at the making of the 3D printed Retaliator because everyone tends to think, “Oh yeah, I could 3D print one, just give me the file, and I’ll print it up.” Then they’ll have their own 3D printed Retaliator. There’s a lot of stuff that goes into making one of these things, and we wanted to take the time to detail some of that. I understand we have a video prepped, right?
MC: Absolutely. So if we…
JH: I don’t have anybody else here. Let’s roll the clip!
MC: Okie-doke! This is the video that I created for the 3D printed Retaliator. It’s just documental with steps. So what you’re seeing here is the entire model and the cube is the printer bed size. That’s what I use to size everything for slicing.
This section you’ll see is the, one of the sections, and you can see it’s hollow and it’s not filled in. The printer would have a heart attack printing this. What I’m doing here is building all the walls. Blocking it in, making certain that it’s all one solid piece.
JH: Gotcha. This looks like what? Google Sketch-Up?
MC: Yeah. I’m not a very good modeler. This is about my skill level.
JH: Gotcha. So Firespikez takes the model, he cuts it into piece for you?
MC: No he extracts it from the game and does a lot of …
MC: … processing works, separating out various parts like landing gear. You can see one of the mistakes when you don’t clean the model up properly.
MC: He takes the game model, extracts it, and separates all the bits, then shoots it through to me. I’ll scale it and slice it up, ready for the printer. Then on each individual part, I’ll box in and stitch in the walls.
JH: Gotcha. I noticed we left the torpedo bay clear here.
MC: Absolutely. We tried to keep everything functional. All of the bomb bays, all the torpedos, all that should be there.
JH: How did you decide on a scale?
MC: The scale itself links back to how much detail you want. The more detail you want, the larger it has to be. Here you can see the printer itself with the internal grid structure. I think I scaled it to about 70 centimeters long. That allowed all the landing gear, flaps, and bomb bay doors to exist – to be viable.
JH: Gotcha and this is made of? What is this made of?
MC: So this is ABS. I use ABS a lot because I can use acetone to weld it together. It’s pretty toxic if you’re breathing it in, but it’s not too bad. So this is the model together. This is after all the bits have been fused together with acetone. The model itself, the 3D print, is quite rough so there’s multiple passes with sandpaper and oscillating tools just to clean up the surface. You can see all the detail there.
JH: Gotcha. Do you remember how long you spent on just this sanding?
MC: This aspect would’ve been at least four days, just solid sanding. As you can see it was quite comfy in front of a fire, but that’s a lot of work. This is the spot putty. This is what you need to do to fill all the gaps. Once I get a bigger printer, I’ll have less gaps to fill because I can print larger parts. Every single join, I had to fill, but not just fill, I had to sand it. So there’s multiple passes with the filler and the sanding.
JH: Gotcha. What printer are you using for this?
MC: I’m using an UP Plus 2. I’m actually using two. It’s a really reliable printer, the only drawback is that it has a small print bed. So everything you print on it has to be cut up and has to be sized correctly. Hopefully I’ll get one with a bigger print bed soon.I don’t know if you can see all the little holes and things that I’m hitting.
MC: This is..
JH: I’m sorry. What made you decide to build the Retaliator in the first place?
MC: Ah, well. I wanted to do a second ship. It just so happened that you asked me to… The information about doing one for CIG, and I leapt at that. Thank you very much for that.
JH: Yeah. Most people probably don’t know this, there’s no reason they should, but I foot the bill for this one. So you donated your labor, I donated my money.
MC: Full respect for that.
JH: We actually started this project before I started working here.
MC: Really? Wow.
JH: If I remember correctly. Yeah, when did we start this?
MC: Close to August I think.
JH: Was it August? I thought it was earlier than that.
MC: Yeah. I think…
JH: Oh well never mind.
MC: Yeah. So this is the landing gear and bomb bays. Torpedos. This is a primer filler, so it gives a very thick primer coatings. Once again, this is step one of about 4 steps. Primer filler, sand, primer filler, sand. You can see all the pink areas where all the spot filler gets covered over. And the bomb bays.
JH: How do you get in the bomb bays without it pooling up?
MC: Difficulty. You gotta be tricky with the spray paint. These are the 3D printers. What I’m printing here are the turrets and the bases. I had to redo these because they were too large, they didn’t fit into the sockets on the ship itself.
MC: It’s a slow process. I think this would’ve taken a couple of hours to print.
JH: Yes I remember when we first pulled it out, one of the turrets fell out and it fell on the floor. We had to do this whole, “Everybody watch where you’re stepping!” “Everybody raise your right foot!”
MC: Oh no.
JH: “Everybody raise your left foot!” To make sure we found it without stepping on it…
JH: .. and destroying it.
MC: It’s a hard jigsaw puzzle to do in reverse. So getting every fit virtually and then doing the same physically in the model format. It’s quite good. These are the fins, they’re held on by pins so they hold the right angle.
JH: Yes, and I’m here to tell you that there is a specific left fin and a specific right fin. If you try to put the left fin into right fin spot they will break and you will have to ask for Mr. Combustible to make you new ones.
MC: Hopefully I color matched perfectly.
JH: Yeah, no, they came across great.
MC: Awesome. This is the matte black, this is the base coat. I did a few color tests and this turned out to be the most stealth looking matte black paint I could find. Once again, this is the first of about two passes, just to try and get all the nooks and crannies.
MC: It looks very… Sorry?
JH: Yeah, it looks shinier than it ends up.
MC: Yeah, it…
JH: I guess when it dries it becomes matte.
MC: It definitely comes out very shiny. As you can see here, the dried colour is quite good. What I’m doing here is masking off the areas ready for the red trim. Once I’ve added the tape and just cover the entire thing in newspaper and spray the amazing looking red without hitting the rest of the ship. That would be bad.
JH: Uncle turns anger into fundraiser.
MC: It’s always cool seeing old news stories.
JH: Heavy duty blue super wipes. What are heavy duty blue super wipes?
MC: Chucks maybe? I’m not sure. Chucks brand.
JH: I don’t think we have those here.
MC: This is where the paint, sorry the tape, is coming off leaving the nice sorta red trim.This is after all the weathering and silver paint on the landing gear.
JH: How do you do the weathering?
MC: The weathering sort of breaks up the flat colour, like the flat black, and it adds a bit of shade to the raised areas. The technique I used was dry brushing. You get a bit of dry… You get a bit of paint on the brush and brush it over the edges. That sort of stays only on the raised texture. There will be a couple of close-ups where you’ll be able to see it a bit better.
The one thing that really stumped me is how you paint canopies, like you can’t paint clear. I decided to settle on a dull gradient that you see astronauts having, the gold visors and things like that.
JH: Yeah. It came out great.
MC: I would love to see someone make a drone out of one of these. That would be amazing.
JH: How about… they can’t make it out of mine. Mine’s on the wall, nobody is touching it. Alright man, well that was cool. Thank you so much.
MC: No worries.
JH: Honestly, it didn’t look that hard. I’m pretty sure I could make one of those if you tried.
MC: I reckon you could. Just get a 3D printer in your set.
JH: Yeah that’s all I need. Just a 3D printer and that’s all. You just pop in the thing, you open the file, and you hit print.
JH: Yeah right. Well thanks for taking the time to speak with us Chris. You have your next Star Citizen plan lined up? What’re you making next?
MC: I am holding out for the new armour that I may have seen recently. That’s both parts super scary and super exciting.
JH: Yep. Almost. It’s so close. Jeremiah and Omar are doing some fantastic work, you’re not gonna be disappointed.
MC: I can’t wait.
JH: Alright Chris. Thanks for taking your time to be on the show. Back to you guys, Ben and Sandi.
BL: And that’s how we got our Retaliator
SG: I know because I saw the same video, just saying.
BL: Alright then.
SG: That was our acting performance for the week.
Now is time for this week’s MVP. Envelope please.
BL: There you go.
SG: Oh look it has nice pretty stars.
And the winner is Fastcart! Congratulations Fastcart for being this week’s MVP with a wonderful spreadsheet detailing all the various Star Citizen packages over the years including everything they get you and comparisons to standalone items.
BL: Maybe a comprehension spreadsheet for folks interested in visceral space combat action, but it helps us quite a bit. When we showed it to our VP of Publishing John Erskine who was just astounded by it. So this is a spreadsheet that has impressed the king of spreadsheets.
SG: So congratulations Fastcart are you this week’s MVP.
Moving right along we have the Art Sneak Peek, what is it?
BL: The Art Sneak Peek is no more! It has been replaced with a new segment which we’re calling ATV Fast Forward.
SG: Ah ha! We now have a new segment to replace the Art Sneak Peek. Check out our ATV Fast Forward where we show you not just art, but a glimpse of all the new systems being worked on for Star Citizen, take a look.
Adding Foley to characters has always been a huge time consuming task due to the high number of markups we had to do for each single animation.
We had to come up with a more automated solution and we so we built a system that drives audio directly from the player movements ingame.
By doing so we recorded a brand new set of sounds.[Intense shuffling] [Playing with grenade pins] [Grinding switches] [Beatboxing with belts]
The new foley system also allows more dynamics to the character movement as well as achieving a better sync. Here are some examples.[Intense sound effects]
BL: Tune into Reverse the ‘Verse tomorrow at 11:00am Pacific on twitch. We’ll be talking all about that Fast Forward and all sorts of Star Citizen related issues. If you love the show or other video content be sure to hit Like or Subscribe. I know that’s sounds silly, but it does help with our metrics, it helps get the word out there and it helps promote Star Citizen so we’d really appreciate it.
SG: Ben and I are also on social and we post little tidbits everyday, sometimes on weekends too so if you’d like to follow us, here’s the link below.
BL: You guys can tell us what you really think.
SG: And thank you as always to all of our subscribers for making this show possible. We will see you next week on Around the ‘Verse.