Citizens! Welcome to The Relay’s coverage of the 59th episode of Around the ‘Verse!
– Long-haul trader Marcus Modi was found nearly a year after his disappearance.
– A woman’s ship is graffitid, and she sells it, only to find the graffiti is by Cognoto, and could be worth millions.
– Ellis system prepares for increased traffic to Noble before its double-eclipse.
– Social module is out! Austin and Behaviour did a great job putting it together.
– Area 18 is the first step outside the Hangar, the beachhead into the PU. Much more to come too.
– Tony Zurovec put out a ‘roadmap’ for the Persistent Universe article, check that out on RSI.
– Sneak preview of Nyx, in the Delamar system video plays
– Ben ‘it’s nice to see what’s coming NYXt’
– Vanguards variants kicked off, with the Harbinger and Sentinel variants.
– Original based of fighters like the Mosquito and the Messershmidt from WWII.
– for the Variants, looked into other roles those aircraft would have done. Night-fighter is EWAR Sentinel, fighter-bombers is the Harbinger.
– EWAR document came out with the Vanguard release. Shows how EWAR will work in SC. Ships put off heat, have signatures, and AC will take advantage of that to start becoming more strategic. First in a series of EWAR posts, a second post about hacking is in development now.
7:10 – Santa Monica – Elwin Bachelor Jr and Eric Kieron Davis
– Elwin is lead vehicle artist in LA. Darian is sick, so he’s not on.
– Elwin is wearing a hat. The hat is for shooting reference and scans and such for characters.
– Herald is in production, worked on by Paul Forgi and Daniel Kamensky.
– Reliant is being worked on by Elwin. Herald is in ‘Greybox’ stage. Gameplay checks are done to make sure it works, moving into art-focused work.
– Kirk Tomay has the Herald flyable in a ‘white-boxed’ stage. It’s not pretty, but it’s flyable.
– Reliant is being white-boxed now, might be ‘flyable’ in the next few weeks (flyable as a white-box, not in-game)
9:10 – Austin – Jake Ross
– Next for Social Module.
– We’ve had a chance to play Social now, with multiplayer Arc Corp, chat, emotes, and player loadouts. Next they’ll be focusing on persistence, which is the next large target.
– They’ll be working on fixing any bugs we encounter while testing.
– Tony is working on top-down layouts for Microtech and Crusader, the UK are working on Hurston, working on getting those to white-box soon. Will have the full-blown Stanton system soon. Multiple landing zones, points of interest in space, etc…
– Immediate term is persistence, shared hangar functionality, and bugs though.
11:10 – UK – David Gill and Stefan Beauchamp
– Talking about the UI unification, which is why Stefan from Behaviour is in the UK.
– Discussed over the past few weeks how all the AR systems can connect together, making sure all the systems work on the same general idea, that the entities around the player can be displayed in a tactical visor, in the Social module AR context, etc…
– Making sure not every studio has their own implementation of the UI.
– Also looking to unify the EA interface. With Star Marine coming online, there’ll be a more consistent interface that’ll be consistent across all the things that use the EA store.
– Also talking about mobiGlas. All studios and UI engineers need to be able to create apps for the mobiGlas, spending time making sure everyone’s capable of implementing new mobiGlas features.
13:10 – Frankfurt – Brian Chambers and Dan Trufin
– Team’s been busy working on weapons. Lead weapon artist – toby – joined them recently, digging through the style-guide, making sure all the different manufacturers have different looks and feel to them.
– AI front – lead AI programmer was in Austin working with the PU team, working on improving synchronization of animations over the network.
– Core engine team has been working on a physical EVA model. Refined way that players’ll be able to move through 0G. Also working on ‘grid refactoring’ which’ll allow huge objects – 8km asteroids – to have proper physics proxies.
– Started R&D work on procedural planet generation tech, which’ll go a long way in the game.
– Can’t say much about it, but trying to help provide assets and organized pre-fabs, and think of ways to generate organics and mountains, more will come later.
– Also working on atmo and life-support systems on ships and stations. How to have hull breaches, what happens with AI, how to equalize pressures, etc…
– Also prototyping hacking. Trying to make it more complex. It’ll have a large scope. Can hack from small doors to large ships to shields, etc…
– Cinematics team is very busy, should see the first of that at CitizenCon.
JP – Jame Pugh
TP – Todd Papy
JP – Thanks guys, I’m here with design director Todd Papy. Todd, how you doing, man?
TP – Good to meet you.
JP – Great to meet you. Thanks for coming on. How’s it feel to be back in Santa Monica?
TP – Great, being able to see old family and friends and then being able to see what these guys are working on. Obviously being in Frankfurt which is 9 hours ahead it makes communication a little bit harder than what I’m used to.
JP – Yeah, I was at GameCom last month. The 9 hour difference became very apparent, very quickly.
TP – Yes. Jetlag is a killer.
JP – So, how’s it going over there. We’ve had some check ins with Brian over the last couple weeks, it’s been nice to get a little more in depth with what’s going on but yeah, how’s the studio over there?
TP – It feels good. A large number of us have worked together for a fair amount of time, some of us longer than others. I think I’m the youngun’ with only a year working with that team. We’re building the studio, I think we’re up to about 27 people now. You know, it’s coming together and out of there we’ve got engine, we’ve got FPS and then also we have cinematics. We’re slowly getting there, just making sure we’re hiring the right people for the game.
JP – Would you say your studio is more focused on what will become the persistent universe or with Squadron 42?
TP – As LA’s more focused on dogfighting and kinda building of ships, I know some of that is being done in the UK as well. We’re more focused on FPS, so hero navigation and then what are those heros doing. What kind of ship, what kind of weapons are they using, what kind of suits do they have, how does it work with EVA and zero-G. So, anything that’s player related, that’s what I’m focused on and also moment to moment gameplay. Tony’s got the big PU, economy and servers, AI and subsumption and all this wonderful stuff that he wants to do. S42 is really just UK.
JP – Yeah, it makes sense that you guys would be some FPS because a lot of that team has obvious FPS pedigree.
TP – *nods*
JP – Has it like taken that team, you’ve said you’ve been with for a year, but they’ve been together for awhile, has the transition been nice?
TP – You know with any team, one of the hardest things to come together and get right is the chemistry. So, since a lot of us have worked together before we knew each other and we knew strengths and weaknesses of each other. Like you said, we do have there at that studio, we do have some FPS pedigree. Obviously, we’ve got guys in the UK that have that experience and ?Bender? here, he’s got that experience from an animation standpoint, and same with Austin. So, it’s just trying to find who can I pull from the UK. For example, ?John Crew? and I we talk about weapons all the time and since he has that experience from Crysis and Crysis multiplayer and Homefront, then basically he’s been an invaluable resource and then ?Bender’s? experience with Crysis as well as Homefront and my guys from a level design perspective and also systems design. So, it’s wherever we can find the resource to help support us then that’s what we look for.
JP – How is coordinating all of our designers on a global scale? What is the hardest part about doing that?
TP – Hardest part is probably communication, obviously with the time differences, and then just making sure that if we’re working on a system… say for example, like Calix he started the grabby hands and kinda cargo system versus the UK who started was starting to do a looting system. In reality, those should be combined and worked together cause you’re putting something into a box, you’re taking something out of a box or you’re holding something. Now we got to figure out, ok, how do we do that in space. You know, we understand how we do that on the ground but then it will be pulling a designer from each discipline for each area and saying, ok, how are we going to pull this together and move this forward.
JP – So, what is it specifically about Star Citizen that interests you? What made you want to come onboard?
TP – For me, it’s the scale and scope of the project. I mean, there is that ambitious nature. Prior projects I’ve worked on are fairly ambitious and you know, the way that.. in talking to Chris and Erin and understanding their thought process on it. Saying, ok what’s cool, all right it’s going to take this long, let’s say 5 years to build that out…
JP – Yeah.
TP – At previous game companies it’s, no, you’ve got 2-3 years or 4 years or whatever. Then you’ve gotta take your idea of what’s cool and shrink it versus what they’ve talked about is, what’s step 1, what’s step 2, what’s step 3. Then let’s make sure we’re figuring that out and building toward those things. You know, what’s we get to step 1, we get it out to the community then you start to see what they glob onto and really enjoy. From there, that will adjust how we get to step 2 or it will adjust step 2 completely. Then from there, it’s just that back and forth process with the community and ideally make this a very interactive experience. It’s something that I’ve never done.
JP – Yeah, I was about to say it’s unlike how I imagine how you’ve gone your whole career is there’s this set, this is what it is, where here you release something and you see what the reaction is. You still have your vision of what it’s supposed to be but there’s room to move and see what people actually want. These are the people you’re actually trying to bring the game to.
TP – Right, and so this to me, again is the new school way of thinking and adjustment. So, I’m learning, I’m learning, ok we got to get this out. More than likely it’s earlier than what I’m comfortable in showing…
JP – Oh yes.
TP – You know, because again in what I’ve been taught in my career of, no, that is perfect when it goes out the door versus it’s pretty good. *laughs* It’s not perfect and then from there, we start seeing again what they enjoy and what they latch onto. Then we adjust.
JP – Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s the cool thing about this project that I’ve never seen before. Yeah. All right, thanks again for coming on.
TP – Yes.
JP – Once again, it’s Todd Papy. Back to you guys.
Jake Ross – Hey guys, Jake Ross here, associate producer of the Persistent Universe, i’m here with you today to talk a bit about Social Module. By this point in time, it’s out, it’s live, it’s in your hands. You guys have had a little time to run around with it, bang on it, find some bugs that we didn’t know existed, get into things maybe you shouldn’t, but that’s what the purpose of getting it to you guys was.
Emre Switzer – The entire process starts with all the artists going in, and making all the ideas into a tangible 2D image, then it goes to 3D artists, they make everything 3D, then it goes to the level designers, they put everything together, and then it comes to me, and I have to justice to everything that’s been done before, to make sure everything looks as pretty as possible.
Patrick Thomas – We’ve been putting every detail humanly possible into this, for the fans and for the backers. We have had an incredible time and experience creating a Universe, creating a city, basically, that you can run through. From the most miniscule things, paper on the ground that you can run through, to ships flying through the sky, we went through a lot of work to make sure that every little detail on those ships was there, from the exhaust, to make sure that it looks like it was a live city. Not including that, also the shops that you get to walk through.
Tony Zurovec – The work that Wormbyte did in regards to the NPC optimizations that allowed us to dramatically increase the number of players that can fit into a map
Jake Ross – We have some core back-end technology, multiplayer instances in Arc Corp, we capped it at 25 players per instance, but we’re looking to increase that over the coming months as we get a little more stability.
Tony Zurovec – There was all of the artwork that Behaviour put in a lot of long hours on to generate the kind of visuals we were after
Jake Ross – Brought in Emre Switzer and Lee Amarakoon to do lighting passes, and those guys knocked it out of the park. The lighting is beautiful, takes it to the next level, and the VFX are awesome as well.
Tony Zurovec – There was all the backend code that was done by coders here at ATX to enable all the player routing to Arc Corp to function as expected. So it was very much a group effort on the part of a large number of people. It’s difficult to pick any individual thing and say that one was bigger than the rest.
Evan Manning – Probably the biggest challenge was making sure that everyone’d be able to run social module. We have a lot of really really high end graphics and a lot of stuff in the level, so we had to make sure that everyone who got their hands on it could experience the full demo and everything we want them to see. In a few years, everyone’s going to have a lot better video cards, which is going to allow a lot more flawless running of the software.
Rob Reininger – It’s obviously a very big level, a lot of big shops, very open areas, so getting it to function at a higher frame-rate, trying to make things as cheap as they can, still trying to preserve the ships flying around, doing a lot of trickery with that. Didn’t have AI ships running around, getting things that appear random when they’re a little more scripted, definitely a challenge.
Patrick Thomas – When we put new stuff in then we’d also have to make room or adjust the system props or assets that were in the level, and ensure that nothing was out of place, nothing looked weird, there were no problems or errors or bugs, or visual issues, which came up surprisingly every day. We’d have to go back and make fixes, make adjustments, by the time it was done we’d go through and look for the most minute issues to fix, and there was always something. And there always will be. But it was a blast, an experience, and I’m just so grateful to be a part of it.
Jake Ross – Luckily we had a lot of time to polish and get everything really smooth, so we had a lot of multiplayer playtests within the office to get that working as good as possible.
Patrick Thomas – Daily we went through and worked with Behaviour, and made sure that every detail was taken care of, and every T was crossed and I was dotted, so there were no problems in this city, and also that it ran smoothly, and that it was optimized as best as possible.
Alex Peruyera – We wanted to iterate on this very quickly and get through all the bugs, just moving a lot of data. The game is large, trying to upload it and spin up the machines, the data, to get everybody, all different parts of studios for playtests, was just a large task.
Tyler Witkin (?) – This release had a lot of overlap with working on the Gamescom demo, continued Star Marine esting, advancements with the GIM. Jeoffrey Peas has been monitoring that, making sure everything runs smoothly, and coming up with a module as big as social module, there’s a lot of features and stuff. We’d get new features every day and have to make sure that they were tested.
Cort Soest (?) – We were doing some local focus testing in house, and we’d get 25 – 30 players inside of ArcCorp running around, and the impromptu dance parties, and we’d all get shoved in a bar hanging around, and it was basically almost as if we’d seen the environment for the first time, even though we knew the place like the back of our hands anyways, it was very nice. I enjoyed it very much.
Lee Amarakoon – We went through several iterations on the screens, mainly the billboards, one billboard took me 15 hours to animate, just making the world come to life. In the medical bay there’s an easter egg of one of the employees xrays, if you go into the medical bay
Jake Ross – this first release we wanted players to be able to chat in the game, someplace outside of our forums, so they could actually go loadup the game, talk, communicate, have fun. It kind of brings the community together, which is nice for us.
Vanessa Landeros (?) – Trying to add all of the cool emotes as they were coming in, when we were working on this we were still getting fresh mo-cap, and getting it all in in time for the release was sort of challenging, but of course we did it, and it’s still going on. We’re going to keep adding emotes. The work isn’t done, but I’d say that the timeline rush is pretty over.
Jason Elt – I’m really proud of how the backend servers has evolved over the past couple months. However, that’s not really something that the players really see.
Tom Sawyer – We now have the ability through the GIM to carve out the Universe.
Patrick Thomas – I’m excited for them to see this level. As large as it is, as encompassing as it is, it brings you in, and you walk around and you really get to see an amazing environment that has far more than I’ve got to see in the past, in games. And there is so much detail in here that it will blow you away.
Mark Skelton – That’s the only thing about the PU stuff. Us showing you guys, you guys get to open your presents early, and that’s cheating. We’ll show it to you cause we like it, so I hope you guys like it.
Tony Zurovec – The milestone list, I think, going forward, it’s been a long stretch of time where we’ve had to set up a lot of the basic foundation for the game, establish a lot of the underlying technologies that are going to make a lot of this stuff possible over the long term, and there’s no way to really cheat the development of some of these systems. they require a tremendous amount of front development time, at which point you slowly start to crest the top of the hill and reach the point where you can start to generate outside results in very short periods of time. The most exciting thing is therefore what we’re going to be able to start showing off over the course of the next 3-4-5-6 milestones coming out, because that’s where I think people will finally start to see where all the bits and pieces come together and make Star Citizen, you know, this comprehensive whole of the entire game, a lot more than the sum of any individual parts.
(??) – Thanks for backing us. As a backer myself, I love working here.
Jake Ross – So yeah, that’s the team here in Austin, I hope you guys enjoyed it, and we hope that you’ll enjoy what we’ve got coming up in the near future.
– Talking about the Whiteboxing step in ship creation, showcasing the Reliant.
– Whiteboxing is the first phase of modelling. Most other models that are shown tend to be graybox.
– Whitebox is the first time there’s a 3D anything representing the ship. Very rough, mostly for prototyping and spacing, to make sure the design is good before going to more detail.
– Whiteboxed images of the Reliant.
– First challenge was spacing out the inside. It’s a small ship, had to be wide enough for characters to walk through it.
– At first it wasn’t, that had to be fixed.
– Second challenge was to make sure there’d be cargo as well. Enough space not only for character to walk through and interact with things, but also for cargo carrying in a way that makes sense.
– Also a top-down image. The red blocks are where components might be on the ship.
– Working right now in the whitebox is testing animations. making sure things move correctly and make sense with the interior / exterior dimensions.
– Spinning pilot seats are shown off as well.
– August Monthly Report will be available tomorrow, as well as the Star Marine update.
– Sandi and Ben are now heading to Dragon Con
– Panel on Saturday (not recorded or streamed, but The Relay will be getting audio)
– Star Citizen Q&A Saturday, 5:30 in the Hilton, with some swag.
– This week’s MVP
– Elton Gradash
– Thread with icons people can use.
– Female character art.
– Tune into RTV tomorrow. Ben won’t be here, or James Pugh. Just Disco Lando.