As per usual, anything said during the show is subject to change by CIG and may not always be accurate at the time of posting. Also any mistakes you see that I may have missed, please let me know so I can correct them. Enjoy the show!
New system for handling objects. Can choose their orientation when setting them down and can throw them simply by trying to put them down too far away.
Fatigue can cause your player to struggle or fail to perform certain actions such as vaulting. Mass of your suit and weapons now influence player stamina.
Suit punctures, oxygen recharging, and depressurization work has begun.
UI team has done significant work to kiosk shopping interface.
Working to unify the way players interact with in-game UI screens across the board.
Graphics team working on new render-to-texture tech. UI team looking to use this tech for UI on inside of helmet. This included testing how text will read including what occurs after post-processing is added.
Also in testing is how helmet UI text in the helmet responds to the incoming dynamic field of view system.
Audio team involved in all gameplay features. However, in particular work continues to be done on the audio propagation system which allows sound to properly move from room to room.
Additionally, two passes on the mix management system have been completed. The mix management system allows for realtime tweaking of audio mixes which are applied to areas or rooms.
Finally for audio, significant progress has been made on the WordUp dialogue tool which manages the huge amount of dialogue in Squadron 42 and Star Citizen.
Concept team finishing off Gemini ballistic shotgun and a new ship weapon manufacturer known as Preacher.
For the environment team, work has continued on the truck stop interiors, satellite interiors, microTech New Babbage, and habitation modules.
Ship team has been working on the Hull C and Reclaimer as well as working on the new light controller.
The VFX team has been working on the Buccaneer, Aquila, Prospector, engine trails, KLWE Gallant energy rifle, APR Scourge railgun, and KSAR Devastator plasma shotgun. This team has also rolled out the layered impact library, allowing for more flexibility in terms of weapon impacts on surfaces.
Animation team has worked on character animations for the railgun including shouldered weapon and prone. This team also worked on breathing and stamina as well as no-weapon jumps, and weapon reloads for the Devastator, Gallant, Arrowhead, railgun, and new pistol.
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Hello and welcome to Around the ‘Verse, our weekly look at the development of Star Citizen. I am Sandi Gardiner and joining me today is Forrest Stephan, welcome back to the show.
Forrest Stephan (FS): Hey, it’s great to be here Sandi. There’s so much happening at Star Citizen. It’s good to be here sharing it all with the community. I’ve heard there is something new going on with the referral program, is that true?
SG: Yes, it is true. For those that haven’t heard, the referral program rewards anyone who gets a friend to download Star Citizen with their unique referral code. Soon, we’ll be adding new levels to the reward ladder.
FS: And if you already have the points for the new levels, will you still get the new rewards?
SG: Yes you will, as they will be given retroactively, but what I’m excited about is the new referral competition that we’re going to launch at the same time as the updated referral program. I don’t want to spoil the official announcement but all I can say is ‘Pink Dragonfly’.
FS: Woah. That is pretty sweet. I love the Dragonfly and also love pink. Not a lot of ships can operate both planetside and in space.
SG: And, with the holiday this weekend we’re actually holding a sale that includes the Dragonfly and three other mini ships - the Merlin, Archimedes, and Argo.
FS: And we’re having a Free Fly this weekend, so if you’ve been thinking about playing Star Citizen you can try out the Super Hornet for free. Both offers star tomorrow and end on Tuesday.
SG: We also have an exciting bit of news to share. Tomorrow, the 3.0 production schedule will be released. There will be some great new features that Chris will go over in the newsletter.
We have a great piece coming up in today’s show - we’re taking a look at the Aegis Javelin in a brand new Ship Shape.
FS: That’s right, but first let’s go to the UK for their Studio Update.
Erin Roberts: Hi everyone, I’m Erin Roberts and welcome back once again for the UK studio’s update. I am actually visiting our LA studio today so these surroundings may be familiar for many of you. Anyway, back to our update and what we’ve been up to over in the UK.
As always, things are really busy there and we’re in the middle of a large number of sprints for both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen, so let’s start with the technical sprints from the programming department.
The player interaction sprint is proceeding at full speed. We now have subobjects highlighting so now rather than outlining a whole mesh, we can choose individual parts. This is especially useful in cockpits when you want to interact with individual buttons and switches.
[Showing interactions with buttons in the cockpit]
A new placement system has also come online so you can choose where and with what orientation you set down objects.
[Showing picking up a helmet and placing it down on a table. This includes an outline of where you are about to place an object and the ability to move and rotate this outline before placement.]
If the position you want to place an object is out of range, we now automatically go into a throw state.
[Showing throwing helmet when trying to place an object in the distance]
Finally, we have been spending time making sure the new interaction system works seamlessly with the multifunction displays.
The player status system has also been worked on. We’re adding different actor states such as jumping or vaulting and mantling so the player finds it harder or even impossible depending on how fatigued they are.
[Shows a character vaulting in different fatigue states. Successful in normal. Difficult in tired state. Failure during extreme exhaustion.]
We have added in the mass of the suit and weapons to influence the player’s stamina, as well as creating a breathing state component to bring together the player’s status with the procedural breathing animation and sound.
[Showing weapon sway and animation influences from fatigued state]
We are now starting work on new gameplay elements like suit punctures, oxygen recharging, and depressurization.
[Shows a suit puncture, with oxygen escaping, after character is shot in the hand]
We’ve also invested time in the conversation system tech, creating a tool to help simplify setting up complicated conversations when you’ve got multiple actors all part of the same scene.
Moving on to our UI team, the front end skeleton framework for kiosk shopping has started. This includes properly setting up all our UI components such as lists, grids, buttons, text fields, and other various assets. Once this is done, the engineers will bring it to life by hooking these components up to the game data and getting it presented diegetically in the game world.
[Showing WIP shopping interfaces]
We’re also working in conjunction with the player interaction system to unify the way the players will interact with in-game UI screens across the board in order to achieve consistency in our user experience. This means the same underlying system to interact with an MFD in a ship seat will be applied to all in-game terminals, wall-mounted displays, and kiosks, making interaction with in-game displays feel much less clunky and constrictive.
[Shows interactions with cockpit screens]
In anticipation of the graphics team work on the new render-to-texture tech, the UI team has done a round of testing using our current helmet interiors to see how well the UI could look rendered onto a glass surface on the interior. As opposed to our current solution, the RTT tech will eventually allow the UI to render properly in the rendering pipeline, making it much more integrated with the game world than it is currently.
[Showing impressive WIP helmet UI presentations]
What we’re mainly checking for at this point is how will text read at various sizes as well as any post-processing knock-ons that might potentially negatively affect the legibility of the UI such as motion blur or chromatic aberration.
[Addition UI possibilities]
Another thing we’re watching out for is what kind of impact the new incoming dynamic field of view system might have on the UI. The new dynamic field of view system will allow such things like the HUD and 3D helmet interior to remain roughly the same size on screen when setting a lower or higher field of view.
[Showing HUD text at various FOV settings]
The audio team has been involved in all gameplay features, like the Buccaneer, surface outposts, Squadron level development, and the actor status system. Work has continued on the audio propagation system to make audio respect walls, doors, and paths. Our current system just has audio triggers playing from their point of origin and either being occluded or unoccluded but always playing from their source position.
The new propagation system will mean that a sound playing inside a room will appear to anyone listening from outside the room to emit from the door, a window, or any other opening. This extends to other rooms so a sound playing four rooms away will navigate the doorway and the air in between in order to reach the listener.
[Demonstration of new audio feature door opening audio]
Also, the first and second pass of the mix management system has been completed. This is a virtual mixing console that can be applied to certain areas or rooms. It allows the creation of mix snapshots that can apply volume, filter or effect settings on any parts of the audio mix with faders in Dataforge that can be tweaked in realtime. Setting up and organizing these areas and mix snapshots will allow for easy adjustment of the audio mix.
[Shows examples of adjusting mix snapshots]
Finally, a lot of progress has been made on the WordUp dialogue tool to manage the huge amount of spoken lines in the PU and S42.
[Demonstrates WordUp interface and previews a couple audio files]
The concept team has been working on finishing off the Gemini ballistic shotgun and a new ship weapon manufacturer known as Preacher.
[Shows the Gemini and a pair of Preacher ship weapons]
In terms of the environments, structures work has been continued on the truck stop interiors, satellite interiors, microTech New Babbage, and dressing for the modular habitation modules.
[Concept images of space station and modular habitation interiors]
The environment team has been refining the surface outposts with technical, engineering, and habitation spaces coming together with their preliminary dressing passes. The exteriors are now mostly complete. We’re also looking into lighting variations for the procedural system to allow for more complex setups for the lighting states.
[Shows an image of the interior of a habitation space]
The greybox for the truck stop space station is continuing and now all of the building set pieces have been established and we’re now in the detail phase.
[Interior of the truck stop station is shown]
On the satellite sprint, the communication archetype is close to being white-box complete, which mean the modules and classifications that were specified by design have been visually explored.
Our ship team has been continuing work on the Hull C and Reclaimer as well as including the new light controller work.
[Shows exterior and interior work on the Hull C. Lighting controller demonstrated impressively. MISC Razor shown in an advanced state of development.]
We have a big update from the VFX team this week. On the ship VFX side, the Drake Buccaneer is now in 2.6.3 and is flight ready. Also, more work has gone into the RSI Constellation Aquila during its flight-ready pass. The MISC Prospector has had the first pass of damage R&D blockout.
[VFX demonstrations for the Buccaneer, Aquila, and Prospector.]
The new GPU-driven engine trails have also completed their initial implementation pass and work is continuing on this.
[Showing off new engine trails]
On the weapon VFX side, we have improved our style guide, bringing in a new system that helps us to define the visual style of a weapon based on manufacturer and energy type. The KLWE Gallant energy rifle rework has had its first pass along with the APR Scourge railgun and KSAR Devastator plasma shotgun.
[Demonstrations of the Gallant, Scourge, and Devastator.]
We have also rolled out our layered impact library. Previously, our impacts were per weapon and per surface type, but the new setup allows us to layer up individual elements which give us more flexibility and less maintenance.
[Showing off VFX from weapons hitting surfaces]
The animation team has been working hard on a lot of technical aspect groundwork and pre-viz this past month. Work includes improving the functionality of the shouldered weapon state to get the railgun ready and playable for 3.0 as well as polishing the functionality of the prone set, making it ready for code to work their magic on fixing any edge cases.
[Demonstration of animations for the Scourge railgun]
Breathing and stamina work has been continued to be polished to create a solid look and feel for player breathing across multiple states such as normal, tired, and hyperventilating.
[Shows work on the visual effects of fatigue]
The no-weapon jumps are getting a pass to bring the animations more in line with the mocap rather than the technical first pass implementation we gave them, and there has been a lot of continued iteration and improvement of weapon reloads across the Devastator shotgun, Gallant, Arrowhead, railgun, and the new pistol.
[Demonstrates animation improvements]
Meanwhile, the Darby studio has continued with facial animation for Squadron 42 cinematics and Star Citizen. They attended the facial shoot down in London for 3.0 and members of the team took a trip out toward the LA studio for some exciting facial animation R&D meetings. This should really help us speed up production of the huge dialogue needs from both Squadron and the PU.
[Shows a performance capture shoot]
Well anyway, thank you again. That’s it this month from Foundry 42 UK. I hope you all had a good glimpse into all of the areas we are focusing on in the studios here. As always, I really want to thank all of the backers for giving us the opportunity to make this amazing game and of course our subscribers who, through their continued support, allow us to get all of these updates out to the community.
Take care and I’ll see you in the ‘Verse.
SG: That brings us to our next segment. When designing a new spacecraft it's important to look at other ships from the same manufacturer.
FS: Yeah, there's a lot to be learned from the past development. Applying these lessons to the new designs for new spacecrafts can speed up the development process significantly, which is also … which is exactly what the ship artists on the Javelin … on the Aegis Javelin did, so take a look.
Nathan Dearsley (ND): The Javelin was really a by product of we needed, another capital ship supplied to the UEE in the game. We already had the Idris. We knew it was going to be Aegis manufactured, so I kind of wanted to extend the style and aesthetic of the Idris into the Javelin not only for the interior stuff but also for the exteriors. So, from a production point of view the Javelin we had the wealth of experience that we'd learned from developing the Idris, and really kind of we could always kind of shall we say hit the ground running. So there's a lot of similarities in the aesthetic and the general kind of design between the Idris and the Javelin. It's really about taking that aesthetic and those spaces and recycling. You kind of hear me on about the 60/40 split. Recycling about 60 percent of the Idris and then putting a 40 percent spin on the Javelin for the interior. The exterior production-wise is really a case of take what works on the Idris' shaders and the textures and whatnot. The model is always going to be unique. There's kind of nothing you can do about that, but if I put the Idris next to the Javelin, like I say the key result that I'm after is that they both look like they're from the same fleet. They're both from the same manufacturer. And really the production cycle of the Idris is pretty much the production cycle of the Javelin. They both kinda go hand-in-hand.
When we started the Javelin it is the first thing you have to do is a floor-plan. We have to go through all of the stuff that we need, so you got the gravity drive, the reactors, the mess hall, barracks. So you have to kind of think about these things from the ground up when you are planning the interior layout of the ship. And what I'm really pleased about with the Javelin is we managed to get three concise decks kind of planned out. So if you look at a ship from the side, the lower decks, engineering, and it's kind of very hot and sweaty and a workman's kind of place, right. And then you hit the mid-decks which is habitation and that's again it's no mistake you kind of first-class on a boat and is up front. There is no engine noise and stuff. The middle of the Javelin would be theoretically would be the quietest area of the ship. So that's all kind of laid out correctly, and then you go to the top deck which is the technical area.
So you've probably heard me talk about like the archetypes before which is technical, engineering, habitation and medical. If you look at any kind of section of the Javelin from any angle you can see clear concise breakouts of those archetypes. They've all got their place like an architect's designed it properly, right. And that's what you get from the Javelin which I'm really pleased about, because then it means you get this clear concise cut between habitation, between engineering and between technical. Whereas some of the other ships they kind of fallen a bit where you'll go from a technical area into habitation and back into a technical area. That doesn't happen on the Javelin. It's extremely like per deck.
If one section of the ship gets damaged or goes down it's very much like a huge cruise liner. So if that hull gets hit, it will shut itself down. So we've got these huge bulkheads with massive doors. They kind of will just go, “Okay, you're out now. Shut it down”, and it's up for the engineer to start rerouting power. The Idris has this huge hangar that runs through the center of the ship. The Javelin doesn't. It has like a very kind of small almost like a utility hangar for a drop ship. It is cool though, the hangar. The best thing about the hangar is the floor. Dan ingeniously designed it. It pretty much becomes the door. Essentially you have to land on a platform, and then that platform lowers in. That platform when it is up is actually the doors quite cleverly. And when you're actually inside the hangar and you see everything kind of moving up from traffic control, it's pretty awesome.
So the main differences between the Idris and the Javelin is obviously we've got the hangar space difference. It doesn't really kind of carry as many craft. It's not got the same utility vehicle, but it has got an awful lot of weaponry. The whole ship is pretty much caked in turrets. And we've done this really cool thing on the back of the ship where the remote turrets that are actually on a track system. At the moment when you're flying towards the ship you kind of don't know if the turret's in operation or not unless it kind of goes down inside the hull or something like that, and not a lot of our remote turrets do that. Well, what we've done is that put the whole turret on a track system, so when they're not manned they rotate back and go to the back of the ship between the thrusters so they are in the most shielded area when they're not being used. But that way as a player when you approach one of these things you know if it's got its turrets up in defense or not.
These huge things have gone way past just being a very pretty asset in space. They're completely functional, and they're also kind of extremely kind of fun to run around and have a shoot out. So, my background is FPS multiplayer maps. I run around ships looking at kind of game-play, and how you can make interesting gun play and all that kind of stuff, and making sure the level's balanced. On the ship production side of things we've got to keep quite a few people happy, so obviously there's the backers who … you know … that without them none of this would happen, so we have to take their feedback on board. We done the Big Guns trailer back in November; I think it was. It was yeah, for CitizenCon or around about that time.
The ship has gone through a couple of design changes on the exterior since it first went out simply because in the U.K. we have a habit of making things bigger, which has a domino effect to everything is just certainly the case on this. There is a specific shot in that video that I done. Sorry, Toby done that actually, and it showed the bridge and of course there's a crossbar across the bridge, and it kind of was blocking the captain's view. If you … he'd have to get to a certain point on the bridge to kind of see. So we saw that, we saw the feedback on the forums, and we've gone back and remedied that, and we've taken that as an opportunity then to actually kind of genuinely just make the ship's bridge feel a lot more tangible, a lot better. And we've also got the cut-scenes going in now for that stuff for Squadron. So, with Hamis and myself we're looking at it and how we can flood as much natural light into these areas so there is some very kind of cool windows that are turning up. And the Javelin is actually far more so than the Idris'. It has far more exterior views throughout the whole ship.
I've actually put quite a significant amount of man-hours into it. Not myself, but we … focus has shifted onto it, cause we're at the point now where I pretty much want to support design for the Squadron 42 side of things. And for us to be able to do that, the ship needs to be at a certain kind of point, okay. Cause the Javelin plays an integral role for a part of Squadron which I can't talk about, but yeah, it's pretty cool. We have to work with the writers on a daily basis. It's never as black and white as the writers will you know kind of write something. We make it. It's very much a kind of 50/50 thing. There's a lot of backwards and forwards. So, we may end up kind of blocking out a new area and then that may kind of feed back into the script somehow and into the writers doing something far more creative than what I would have originally kind of thought about. But it also works the other way and so the writers will come up with ideas that feed our inspiration.
This is where it really gets kind of complicated. So from an art production kind of things we hand the ship off to tech design. Tech design are then going to go do their pass with obviously the balancing of the weapons, the balancing of the thrusters, the maneuverable thrusters, but then also with this as I mentioned it plays an integral role in Squadron, so the design team on Squadron are also kind of expecting a certain version of it and which we need to produce as well off the back of the PU version that's put together. It's just this kind of thing about kind of making the game or making an IP or anything along that lies in this industry it's just a very human thing. It takes a lot of people from a lot of different disciplines to kind of get on and work together, and that's just a real kind of small part of that. It's challenging, but it's massively rewarding as well.
FS: It's great that the ship artists we able to take what they learned from the Idris and apply it to the Javelin.
SG: Very cool, and while still giving the Javelin its own identity. That’s all for this episode of ATV. Join us tomorrow at noon Pacific for Star Citizen Happy Hour. Jared Huckaby and special guests: Eric Kieron, Vincent Sinatra, and Community Broadcaster, Deejay Knight will live play Star Citizen and answer all of your questions with a focus on TrackIR and 4k extra wide screens.
FS: And you can catch all of that on Twitch, but before we sign off I want to thank all of the backers out there for supporting Star Citizen’s development. Your contributions allow us to build the Best Damn Space Sim Ever.
SG: That’s right and we’re also very grateful to all of our subscribers who make this show possible every week, and just a reminder tomorrow subscribers will get two cool pieces of flair as part of their rewards.
FS: Also the team is working on the hardcopy of Jump Point Vol. 3 which includes every issue released in the third year of Jump Point.
SG: Very cool and if you’re interested in learning more about our subscriber program, check out the link in the description for more info.
FS: Anyone who is an active subscriber before April 17th will also receive an additional piece of flair: A Big Benny’s vending machine. So join before Monday to get that special reward.
SG: Thanks for watching and we will see you…
FS/SG: Around the Verse.