It’s the 100th episode of Around the ‘Verse! Check out The Relay’s transcript of the show!
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Welcome to episode 100 of Around the ‘Verse. We have some exciting videos for you today. We have a closer look at the Caterpillar and also a video of the female character from Forrest and a tour of Cloud Imperium’s LA office from our one and only Chairman.
Ben Lesnick (BL): But first the news. We pushed Star Citizen Alpha 2.4.1 to the PTU on Tuesday and we are currently looking at the results from that with the hopes that we will be able to patch it live shortly. This is an entirely bug fix related patch hoping to clear up some of the issues we discovered after 2.4 went live, but it’s looking good and we’ll have an update for you shortly.
SG: 2.5 has not been locked down yet, but as soon as it has been locked down we will be telling you what is in 2.5, although Ben, do you have any sneaks about what’s in 2.5?
BL: Well I think we can guarantee that there’ll be more things to explore in Crusader. There’s going to be one flyable shirt.
SG: One flyable shirt?
BL: One flyable shirt.
SG: Alright, I’d like to see that flyable shirt.
BL: At least one flyable ship and who knows, maybe more shirts in ArcCorp.
SG: Yes, speaking of shirts, we actually have real life shirts, new polo shirts that people have been asking for quite awhile now and here’s the sample that our very own Chairman is wearing, check it out.
Cool, we’ve decided to do a little bit of a deep dive just on on the LA studio for this week and for the upcoming weeks you will see a bit more of a deep dive into our other studios.
BL: Well let’s check in with our LA studio and find out what they’ve been working on.
Eric Kieron Davis (EKD): Hey everybody, it’s Eric Kieron Davis coming at you from the Los Angeles studio and I’m here with your update – we’re going to start off with the female rig. We talked a lot about the female character lately because we’re very excited to see her come online and for you guys to play with her but a big step to bringing her online and making her move is the rig. So our John Riggs and team have been working on SRC updates for her.
John Riggs (JR): So I’ve been working on the female rig – we’ve been trying to make it so that it’s exactly like the male rig. We’ve tried to align the two so the joining angles – everything – they are the same. So that the characters will work just the same in the engine. We had a complete faked muscle system to them so that they deform better. We’re also adding all this tech to the Vanduul system.
EKD: That muscle deformation stuff as well as just overall getting the female rig is just really exciting for us here. Moving in the Animation team – Steve Bender is back from his trip to Germany – he was in the UK for a little while as well. They were doing a lot of updates to our enter and exists. It’s a very- very exciting portion of the technology for our ships.
Steve Bender (SB): We’re noticing that their original intent was that it was supposed to get you in and out of the ship in the hangars and for trying out your ship and getting the initial experience of the ship – that’s nice – it looks great, it looks fine. But the second you’ve got to do it every single time you get into the ship and you get out of the ship – it takes too long – I call it grandpa goes to the grocery store because it’s that sort of amount of time. You get in and you sit down and- no- now I’ve got to get out- no I didn’t want to get out – and it takes forever.
And we knew that we were also going to need to cut this down considerably for the Persistent Universe and for Squadron 42 so that when you’re in a combat zone or when you want to get into a FPS combat zone or you want to leave a FPS combat zone back and forth through your ship that you’re able to do that with much more fluidity so we’ve created- we’ve went in and reshot all the enter/exit for all the ships – they are considerably faster now, by about- in some cases five-to-eight seconds faster and we also went in and we said “OK, well, from a design standpoint we don’t like dead buttons” so if I am pressing the W key to run forward and I think currently it’s the V key – I switch to walk or if I press- hold down the SHIFT key, I go to sprint and we want to make sure that those modifier buttons within the base locomotion set also come through in how you’re dealing with the ladders or when you’re dealing with getting into or out of your ships.
EKD: Seeing the new animations for our ships is interesting not only because of- it’s just fun to see new animations but the new technologies that they are bringing in with it is very interesting and how it’s going to impact our ships overall. And lastly, but not leastly, on the engineering team – Paul and his team are working actively on Item System 2.0 which we’ve talked about often. But this week we have a major milestone coming to a close. This doesn’t only bring Item System 2.0 online with what you’ve seen before but also offers some new aspects.
Mark Abent (MA): Here in the LA team we’ve been working on the new Item system – we’re calling it Item System 2.0 – we’re trying to get rid of the old one because the old one was big, bulky, clumsy and prone to a lot of errors – the new one is a lot more organized, a lot more componentized. If you don’t want to grab what you need and put it into the item. You can have like a seat and it can have the functionality – a radar and a weapon if you want it to – it’d be silly, but you could do it. So as you can see in the fun video, we have interactions – so we put this on the seat, saying “Here’s an interaction here. Here’s another interaction here.” so you can see one guy going up the ladder and you can see another guy going into the canopy or maybe on the dashboard we have another interaction where I hit the button on the dashboard and it closes all the gateways, turns on your power, turns on your engines and makes you just go fly off and be free. So we’re componentizing a lot of our new item stuff so it’s a lot easier on designers – a lot more flexible and just a whole lot more awesome.
EKD: I personally can’t wait to get into the ship, push a button and have more control over it – it’s just control that’s going to be exciting with Item System 2.0. But this is just a minor taster that you’re going to see as we hit our major milestones down the road. So that’s it – that’s all of LA for the week – it was great to talk to you guys and see you next time.
Forrest Stephan (FS): So one of the most common questions we get asked is “Where’s the female character?” So I have some good news that I want to share with everybody: we basically have been spending the last couple months diligently working on the female character.
So we started by getting all of our concepts together and start building the body that we want: just the size, the height. And we wanted something generic but realistic.
Once we were happy with all of her proportions and we have all the photo reference that we needed James Ku, one of our senior character artists working on the character bodies at the moment, took these concepts then resculpted a brand new female from scratch in ZBrush.
And once we were happy with all the proportions, and the look and the feel of the female character we basically retopologized all of the … the whole high poly sculpt. We started baking down all of our textures from the high poly sculpt onto the game topology. Once we were happy with all the bakes we took that and got it into the engine and then we started applying our human skin shaders too it and making sure the translucency looks good, making sure that the skin, the softness and transmittance map, and we’re kind of happy with the way the skin is actually looking like skin.
At that point we bring it into MARI and we spent a good deal of time doing texture projection. So we retake some of that early concept reference and some hi-res shots of the female body, you know you’ve got the elbows, you got the hands, right? And we basically start repainting on the 3D object to get those high, dense, quality areas repainted back on. And so we start blending in our normal map with our initial bake normal map, with our high sample photos, then we start retouching the diffuse map as well and start getting the the more subtle touches like the blemishes and the colour variation throughout the skin.
Then we take all that in MARI and we put it back into the engine and that’s kind of where we’re at with the character at the moment.
Now it sounds like it’s just “Let’s just put it in there and go!“ But there’s still a ton of work that we have to do before we can do that because there’s hundreds, if not thousands, of animations that still need to be applied, and tons of testing, and fitting the clothing. And so there’s a ton of work to still get done but we’re making really good progress so we have something to look forward to in the next couple months.
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Let’s follow along with Chris as he goes to check our dev area in the L.A. studio offices.
Chris Roberts (CR): So this side of the development is basically where all the programmers and designers are, hence Astroengineering. And here there’s women … a restroom … another unisex restroom. Okay Vanduuls are welcome in this particular area.
So on this side of the office space back here is where all our designers and engineers are. So you can see a few of them you may know. Kirk here is busily doing tech design things. This is the office of John Schimmel, he’s our logistics executive, but John’s actually … he is flying I think one day or two. I’m flying actually on … this weekend too to England cause we’ve got to finish our last bit of performance capture and pickups.
So let’s go this way. Ah, Calix and then here is a rather crowded area, but this is the writer’s room. There you are, see. Notice the animals in there. Research and development at the Anvil Aerospace. But say hi to the backers for the 100th episode of Around the Verse.
Various Writers: [wave] Hello. Happy one hundred. Hello. [smiles and chuckles]
CR: Alright. Thanks guys. Alright, we’ll see if anyone sees anything special on the screens. I’ll be looking through the forum threads.
Alright, now we come here. So on this side we mostly, have designs. You know Matt and Terry. You have Matt Sherman there and I think Randy sits here too although he was in the office here.
So, and here is kind of the engineering row. So, you guys will all know Mark Abent over there. You may, may or may not know Steve Humphreys who is just moved over from our UK office to here. He’s sort of come for the sunshine, and we got Chad and we’ve got Ariel over here. So, and Chad you’re working on items, and item control is in systems right now. So a lot of code on the screen right now. Not very interesting, but it’ll do interesting things in the game.
And then if we go this way we are past it is our intrepid LA QA team. Looking very intrepid. There you go, and they do sort of the kind of testing for the group here as we’re sort of trying new stuff out or seeing if the item stuff works or whatever and then they work closely with the team in Austin as well as the team in the UK and I think now we have three testers in Germany too, right. So we have a test group in every one of our studios which is very useful for quick iteration and feedback.
Alright let’s come this way. Here’s Eric who is our senior producer here in LA’s office. He is the Flight Operations Executive of Anvil Aerospace. Hey Eric. Say hi.
Eric: Hi everybody.
CR: And then if you come here. [waves camera over] Although don’t focus too much on it. Don’t focus too much on it. [camera pans across posted schedule board] Just quickly there you are. That’s the schedule. Now off. See we actually do those things like scheduling. Thanks Eric.
And then here we have Paul Reindell’s office who is our Chief Systems Engineer. Hey Paul. So he’s here busy working along with his stormtrooper friend [chuckles], but … and he’s got a fish. Got finding Dori there too.
Come on. Right. This way. This is our smaller conference room that’s for the dev area, so that we themed this as an Anvil Aerospace showroom. Again we took one of our concept images and blew it up and put it on the wall. We actually … the only things we’re really missing here are the conference room tables that we don’t have in yet, but they’re theoretically going to be in, in a week or so which I’ll miss since I’ll be in England, but this is actually where Tony Zurovec sits when he is in LA and my office is right next to it. So we’ve used this mostly as Tony’s office at the moment instead of as a conference room, but ultimately the idea is a conference room, a smaller one, for the dev group here working.
So if we walk over here on this side, this is my office, so as we can see it’s got the RSI Chairman wall graphics stuff again. All these things are put in … you kind of have to put these on glass walls otherwise people walk through them. Until we had them people were going, were walking into the glass and normally you just put bars or something, but we thought it’d be more fun to use stuff from the game. So anyway this is my office where I work from. So you guys have seen a few 10 For the Chairman shot from over here, and then if you turn around … although everyone is over here, this is the Sean’s office and Forrest’s office, so the Mechanical Engineering Department, and then Forrest sits there and Sean sits here [points], but Forrest in the UK right now. He’s joined the character team there and Sean’s giving direction over here.
And then if you come around this way. So on the side of the office back here is where Josh Herman and Steve Bender sit. So Josh Herman is also in the UK working with the character team there. He’s our new art director for characters. A really great guy, and then Steve Bender is our director of animation. He’s been working with the cinematic animation team and the FPS animation team in Germany. So he should be back in about a month.
And then over here is our sort of art side of the building. On this side we have what we would call tech art. This is Patrick. I think you guys have seen before, and he looks like he’s setting up damage on hornets.
Patrick: Yes, that is correct. We are just outlining how it should break apart and what it’s going to look like before anyone gets started.
CR: Cool. Alright, come, and this is Matt Intrieri who I think you saw just over there, and Mark McCall who is a senior tech animator. This is Eric who is one of our newest additions, and they are all setting up characters. Don’t look too quickly at this. Come on this way.
And on this side we have sort of a ship, ship guys, ship team. [points] So you’ll notice Elwin there and Daniel you probably know. There’s Jim there and there’s Gauge in the background talking to Shane and Shane’s one of our character artists sits here. And here’s James Ku who’s working with us to make our faces and characters amazing and he’s incredibly talented, but not necessarily wants to be on the camera all the time, but he’s doing an amazing job on the faces.
And as you come around here we have our concepts. So you got Justin background Gurmukh and Jeremiah who are all amazing concept guys and Omar here who was a concept guy, but really is now become character supremo who’s working on the medium marine outfit I believe and cleaning up our old material stuff. So we are in the process. The whole new characters have been pretty awesome. I think we were talking a little bit about them, but we’re aiming to be world class on everything. Faces,characters, match any other game out there, and so we got the team to do it.
And then if we just pop over here just quickly hardly anyone is playing it right now, but we have little Foosball machine if you want to loose a little … burn off, blow off a bit of steam. Get competitive. Usually a table tennis or a Foosball machine in offices, but there was one in the German office so we decided not to. [offscreen crash] You okay? [chuckles] That’ll get cut I think.
Elwin Bachiller (EB): My name is Elwin Bachiller Junior and I’m the Lead Vehicle Artist in LA. I'm currently working on the tractor beam operator, but I’ve worked on the habitation room, the engine room, the jump drive room and I’ve also done some work on the cargo module, specifically the arms the way they open up and lower the elevator.
What is interesting about the tractor beam is that it gives you a clear view of the entire side of the ship, the right side specifically. So it is sitting on the ship, opposite of the command module and in combination with the command module you get a pretty clear view of all sides of your ship. In addition giving you a really clear view of the opening of the command module, so as you’re grabbing resources or cargo from space, you can clearly see how you’re dragging them into the ship directly.
Daniel Kamentsky (DK): With the creation of the Drake Interplanetary material set, I really got the chance to define the way the manufacturer looks. So it’s going to be used not only on the Caterpillar, but across the board for Drake ships. Just a real honour as a 3D Artist, really getting to define the way a manufacturer looks. It’s heavily based off of the work that Justin once did.
Justin Wentz (JW): I’ve been working on a bit of everything. I started with interiors, working my way through all the different rooms, living quarters, cargo bay, stuff like that. I’ve since moved on to some of the exterior elements like the exterior look of the command module, some of the outer paneling and gun turret as well. That will be towards the front of the ship and on the bottom of the ship towards the back. I’m also finishing up the redesign of the command module
EB: Once it’s completed, which is still several months away, parts that I’m most excited for players to see is one, the engine room because it looks really cool and two, the Cargo Module because we’re intending for players to be able to put a handful of Dragonflies inside each Cargo Module and I can’t wait to see a fully stocked Caterpillar just open up its sides and everybody buzzes out at once. I think it’s going to be really awesome to see that.
Tyler Witkin (TW): Hey there, Tyler Witkin, your Community Manager in the Austin, Texas studio here to bring you this week’s MVP. A huge congratulations to Moneyshot for creating the metal Star Citizen themed emblems. A lot of awesome content is always coming from our community but this one raises the bar – the amount of creativity and effort that went into making these is pretty epic so congrats again to you – you’re this week’s MVP. Back to you guys.
BL: Well that was the first part anyway, of Around the Verse Episode 100 – we want to thank everybody for tuning in – making this show possible, it’s just been a tremendous honour to make this show happen. I know you’ve all seen it evolve from some very humble beginnings – it’s been quite a ride. I am just stumbling over my words right now. But I’d like to thank everybody that was involved – the citizens who made it possible, our fantastic folks behind the camera – Justin and Tom, Jared who has- he juggles a lot of things to make AtV happen of course Sandi who is- you could not ask for a better co host.
SG: And Ben, you can’t have one host without the other host.
BL: Yes, thanks to me for…
SG: Yes. Yeah.
BL: It’s been great and now it’s time to make some exciting changes.
SG: We are. We’re going to evolve Star Citizen – there was a subscriber poll that went up so you can check it out here if you haven’t already voted for that. We may open that up to everybody just to see what your favourite shows were – but we’re in the process of evolving and improving the quality of the content and getting more aligned with showing more in what we’re doing, in each of the studios.
BL: There is some amazing stuff coming up.
SG: There is some amazing stuff and as you know all of this is sponsored by our subscribers – so thank you very much to all of our subscribers for making this happen and we’re looking at ways to be more efficient so we can get some video people in the other studios as well as our subscriber number grows we’re able to do extra stuff.
BL: So much work gets done in the UK, in Germany and folks don’t get to see that so we’re trying to figure out how to get that to you.
SG: It does. There is almost two hundred people and that’s quite mind-blowing, all the stuff they are working on. So we’re hoping to be able to share more and more of that and we are going to start the new programming later in the month of July so we look forward to it. And we hope you guys look forward to it too.
BL: Until then we’re going to be continuing our hundredth episode celebration we’ve got some more exciting segments coming up over the next couple weeks so keep watching and of course it wouldn’t be an AtV without a fast forward so here’s something I think you’ll enjoy.
BL: Be sure to tune in to Reverse the ‘Verse tomorrow at 11am Pacific on Twitch – we’ll be answering your questions about that fast forward and other aspects of Star Citizen and if you liked the show be sure to subscribe and click the like button. It sounds silly but it really helps us a lot.
SG: As always, to all of our subscribers for making this show possible from it’s very beginnings to growing and sending us stuff for our fancave which looks pretty impressive we would like to duplicate this in our other studios – Austin and Manchester and Frankfurt so you can see what’s going on there – there’s a lot going on there. Thank you very much, subscribers.
Both: We will see you next week.
BL: -on around the ‘Verse. -on around the ‘Verse.
SG: -on around the ‘Verse.
BL: -on around the ‘Verse.