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Around the Verse: Manned Turret Makeover Written Friday 6th of October 2017 at 02:08pm by CanadianSyrup, Sunjammer and Desmarius

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!

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

Burndown

  • Ended last week week with 1 critical must fix issue for Evocati
  • Monday:

    • Started with two must fix issues

    • Resolved one by just disabling the fatal error

    • Todd is compiling feedback for the shopping, commodities and cargo gameplay loops

    • The "go/no go" decision was "no go" (Sean Tracy's fault apparently)

  • Tuesday:

    • Five must fix issues

    • Graphics guys fixed issue with the new build in the morning

    • QA reopened the 30007 disconnect issue again: Clive and Chad are on it

  • Wednesday:

    • Two must fix issues

    • Still tracking the root cause of the disconnects

    • Carlos, Spencer, Chad, Paul, and Zane working on insurance issues

    • The "go/no go" decision was "no go"

  • Thursday:

    • The "go/no go" decision was GO!

  • At the time of filming they are at zero must fix issues for traversal

  • Now moving on to improved shopping which has 17 must fix issues

Turrets

  • Hitting targets with turrets was quite unsatisfactory in the past and improvement of that was their goal
  • They imported the old system in for set designer freedom of control, to hook it into the new pipe system properly, and adapt it to a new aiming system
  • Aiming improved by increasing turret rotation dependent upon distance to target and faster response to player movement as well as decreasing of freelook area
  • Though they plan to eliminate the dash-pip, there are several that enable better aiming that also include the circle-pip and crosshair-pip.
  • They also included IK to allow the player to see their body and G-forces along with gimbal ship compensation to increase fun along with accuracy
  • Simultaneous turret seat movement and rotation was accomplished in animation and involved bones and timing in states
  • One problem encountered made the player dizzy from the snapping of rotations and animations
  • Another problem entailed the player starting out by facing the wrong direction once loaded into the turret solve by allowing rotations to be defined in DATAForge
  • This also allowed for the player entering at odd angles
  • The most challenging aspects dealt with converting what the player wanted to do as far as their aiming input
  • Another fun feature added is alternate fire mode allowing for all guns blazing or sequential fire for better targeting
  • Another issue was setting limits so that a player didn't shoot their own ship when an enemy target dove below them
  • Though they lost some things in the Item 2.0 conversion for turrets they are working to retrieve them and add even more to the UI for better enemy awareness
  • Some possible improvements include the sharing of target and radar information between multiple crewmembers
  • Much of the most important improvements were made simply through trial and error

Full Transcript

Intro With Chris Roberts (CEO, Director of Star Citizen and Squadron 42), Sandi Gardiner (VP of Marketing). Timestamped Link.

Sandi Gardiner (SG): Hello, and welcome to another episode of Around the Verse, our weekly look at Star Citizen’s ongoing development. I’m Sandi Gardiner...

Chris Roberts (CR): … and I’m Chris Roberts.

SG: On today’s show we examine some of the improvements made to the turrets system for Alpha 3.0

CR: Yep. We’re looking forward to that, but first as many of you know today the 3.0 patch made its way into the hands of the Evocati test group, so yes.

SG: Yay!

CR: So hundreds of dedicated testers are currently putting the build through its paces and helping us uncover any lingering bugs we’re not aware of and give us some good feedback for the next round of testing when we move from Evocati to PTU. So, in this week’s episode of Burndown we take a look at the build up to our first Evocati release of 3.0

Burndown With Chris Roberts (CEO, Director of Star Citizen and Squadron 42), Jake Ross (Producer), Eric Kieron Davis (Senior Producer), Erin Roberts (Studio Director). Timestamped Link.

Eric Kieron Davis (EKD): Welcome back to Burndown, our weekly show dedicated to reviewing progress on issues blocking the release of Star Citizen Alpha 3.0. We ended last week with one critical must fix issue. So let’s see how this week progressed.

I. The Plan

Monday: 2 Issues

Ricky Jutley (RJ): We had two issues still - one with Clive and one with Carlos. I believe the Carlos one is still being looked at as we talked about this morning.

Paul Reindell (PR): Well it’s … so Clive submitted a fix for the crash …

RJ: Yep

PR: … which turned out he just disabled the fatal error …

RJ: Yes, exactly.

Derek Senior (DS): Gotta love those fixes!

PR: … there still … there’s still an issue though. Clients can disconnect and he will fix that properly over the next couple of days but at least that unblocks Evocati.

RJ: Todd should now be going through our gameplay loops for shopping, commodities, cargo and then he’ll be able to give feedback on that just like he did with the mobiGlas. We had a mobiGlas sync today with Zane and Mark White on production - Rob Johnson was involved while … while Bowen is out - and the main thing now is that we’re tiered up the feedback and we’re also putting those into what relevant sprints they need to jump into whether it’s PMA specific, or Starmap specific, etc. and then those guys will arrange that, look at the backlog and have those set up to say “This is the kind of sprints that we need” or “These are the last two kind of sprints that we need to close out that feature based on Todd’s feedback.” And we start having those gate reviews. So Mark should be responding to that email Todd - I had to leave the end of that meeting - and Chris is on that mail anyway because you looped him in originally.

CR: Yeah. So it’s a matter of identifying what … what things we can do in parallel and what things we’re going to have to do serially and give them priorities. So … I would expect Ricky - and maybe you need to work with Mark White - that this is kind of like what our Production should be helping with.

RJ: Well they need priorities set by the Creative Directors and then, yeah, essentially Production can jump in and say “Yep, this is the stuff that the team can look at” based on what they’ve got available. But I’m - Todd correct me if I’m wrong - but am I talking … you’re talking about Zane and Bowen specifically because they are leads and directors overseeing things ...

Todd Pappy (TP): No. UI team.

RJ: The whole UI team. Then if it’s the whole UI team then really that is a conversation that we need to have with Rob, Bone and Mark then.

CR: Isn’t it just … this is what we do. We sit down and we have the schedule of how people are … their tasks, and then we … if there’s conflict to get stuff done, we gotta say “This one over that one.” But I’m just saying it’s like … I would be expecting this is how the department would run which is like they come back and say “Okay, look we … I’m getting pulled in twenty different directions. I can’t do four things all at once so which one do you want me to do first?”

General preference would be to get the ship stuff all dialled in. Get the MFDs and all the HUD stuff and target reticles or whatever and get it done, dialled, out of the way so we can get our Item 2.0 ships working and then I would be polishing the mobiGlas stuff. And if there’s some stuff on the mobiGlas that can be happening while the focus of say Zane and Bone and whoever is on the Item 2.0 spaceship stuff, great but … I’d love to dial that in and then just start knocking off … ‘cause the mobiGlas apps seem … they’re a bit more discreet I guess. So ....

PR: Let’s make the list. Make sure we think of all the different things from the list. And then we get the approval. And then we can communicate that.

Matthew Webster (MW): We had a Go/No Go meeting last night to decide whether we were going to go to the Evocati. The decision was made to not to push to the Evocati with yesterday’s build. QA were testing some fixes that we had in. Things were … started out quite promising and then we stumbled across one of the bugs that we thought we’d fixed up. The fix didn’t … obviously hadn’t taken. And also we discovered another couple of things that for some reason had started happening on this new build. One of which being the … quite frequently players were seeing CPU spikes of about 100% which means it eats up all of your computer's resources just trying to do the next part of the game. So we need to take a look into that because it was causing issues with our QA machines. So that plus the one that had to get reopened ‘cause the fix didn’t take. We also discovered another few server issues hiding behind another bug that we actually had resolved.

UK Leads Meeting Oct. 2

I just got told by Justin, literally as we walked in here, that for some reason the performance is in the toilet on today’s build. Don’t know why …

Erin Roberts (ER): Is Bolte looking at it?

MW: I don’t think there’s a bug in yet so we’ll just have to see...    

PR: [something about captures]

Justin Binford (JB): Uh huh. We’re getting that right now.

PR: Okay.

MW: Yeah so as soon as they get the captures and the bug in I’ll pass that along.

PR: And then, I don’t know, like ... it’s this physics issue which we had a couple of times and they come and go and it looks like the bug gets created and then next day they ... it gets “closed” as cannot reproduce and I think that way it never gets fully traction on the actual engineer - physics guy - to look into because he gets it, “Well it’s closed. What should I do? It doesn’t happen any more.” And then next day it get’s reopened and probably someone give it to him and he looks at it ...

RJ: We talked about that one issue and Marissa replied to the chat. The developer actually resolved it himself and then QA said they had a process that they’ll check three times in a row, and that’s three days in a row on

RJ: … on consecutive builds. And so if they’re not getting it three days in a row I need a call from a developer or lead engineer to turn around and say “Well it’s fine.” So if that lead engineer say “Well I don’t need to look at it because it hasn’t happened for three days.” Then that’s fine but that lead engineer needs to let us know.

Go/No-Go Meeting Oct. 2

TP: This is the main … the main issue we are running into.

CR: Well that doesn’t sound like that very Evocati ready is it?

EKD: No …

TP: No.

EKD: … and let's not keep … if Clive is here still, what are we going from it at almost midnight.

TP: I don’t know. Last I heard from him was an hour ago. I don’t know if he’s still online or not.

Sean Tracy (ST): Yeah, he posted that comment about an hour ago on the Jira there.

EKD: I assume he bailed after that.

ST: So it sounds like he’s outputting them to the gameplay engineers ‘cause I bet you what this comes down to is actually a gameplay engineering problem. Which is that the stuff is spawning down near origin or offset from its origin and he’s kicking back that the stuff is too far away from the zone of its parent entity.

CR: But this is what I saw earlier which was Bolte called out the fact that there was a bunch of stuff getting … happening …

ST: [Inaudible]

CR: No it was like the ...

OffCameraFemaleVoice (OCFV): Yeah [inaudible] should have had his check in.

CR: Olisar is no longer a zone. This is … you replied to it like “isn’t there someone else that can do this?”

ST: What the … ?

CR: No, no. I think Dennis said something on the email chain. There’s a chain about it!

ST: Oh, about the performance overall?

CR: The performance chain.

ST: Yeah.

CR: Dennis just said something because it’s basically … Steve Humphries took a look at it and said this shouldn’t be happening.It’s like something’s stomped on the object container file because set of files are that. It’s on an email chain. It’s basically someone made it not a zone any more. Because it’s not a zone it’s killing performance.

EKD: I think Erin replied on that one too.

CR: Well Erin like “Yeah, who’s fixing this?”  

OCFV: [Inaudible]

GuyInWhiteTop (GIWT): So we’re going to look at that here and then we believe that maybe …

ST: Who’s going to look at it?

GIWT: … Texas could look at it more right now with their design over there. But I think this is going to have to … this is in the studio.

ST: Well I can just go and see what’s changed.

EKD: I think Sean … Sean ...

CR: Yeah, no I … look at the … look at the email thread because Steven Humphries said he looked at the file and the source file’s fine but something’s missing downstream. Like …

ST: Okay so it’s like … yeah.

CR: It’s like an export issue. It was a bad export.

GIWT: Paul was asking whether or not in Engineering, or yourself, could look at this [Inaudible] …

EKD: It’s the great Sean Tracy.

GIWT: But also when I was speaking to Dennis he’s like ...

ST: You go and call him and let me know when he gets here.  

GIWT: So yeah.

EKD: Okay cool. Alright.

ST: I’ll check.

EKD: Can we assign it to you Sean, so you can follow it up?

GIWT: [inaudible]

ST: Yes please assign this business to [inaudible]

CR: Blame that on Sean too.

ST: Yes! Absolutely.

EKD: Assign to Sean and say “Sean …”

CR: Totally Sean’s fault. He was messing around with …  

EKD: We didn’t go …  [turns to camera] We didn’t go to Evocati because of Sean Tracy. Alright.

CR: Sorry.

Everyone: Sorry. Sorry.  

CR: Tomorrow. His … his fault.

MW: So that’s left us in a position with four must fixes now for Evocati as of this morning. So the plan here in the UK is to basically just to fix up those bugs. We’ve got QA here really hammering in on those so we could get the proper logs, call stacks, server logs: everything that we can possibly think of. Better repro steps. Just as much as the dev needs. Information from QA: they’re there to provide it.

We get fixes in from our guys here. Pass the fixes over to the US QA guys to test. By the time that we’ve had our stuff go in the build has been recreated with those fixes. And we start the process again. We hold another Go/No Go meeting tonight and hope to have a better outcome.

Tuesday: 5 Issues

RJ: When QA got the build today there was a complete hang that the graphics guys looked into which was really cool. So they got that turned around and fixed over … just before lunch. So we had a new code build and we kicked that off - which is what QA are testing now.

Because we’ve got the new code build QA were able to regress the disconnection three … triple zero seven error that we’d been finding yesterday. They have reopened that unfortunately and so that is now signed over to Clive which is why we wanted him taken out of the Engineering Leads meeting so he can get onto that ASAP and start investigating that. That is the one I’m just highlighting over here. He’ll be probably working with Chad McKinney on that where need be.

But that’s one of the big issues that obviously the guys are getting when one of … you get the error first time then any client that tries to connect again ends up having that same error every time they try and connect to that server and that environment.

It does hinder us the fact that we’ve only got one type of QA staging environment and we’ve asked for multiple. Paul you’ve raised that email which is really good. So hopefully we’re able to get a solution where we’re having multiple staging environments for people to start testing that stuff.

CR: I guess you need to … there seemed to be some confusion because Ahmed was like “Well you could just run different DGSs.” And I guess the issue … I know … it’s the services. So why don’t you guys get a call with Ahmed after this to resolve it.

RJ: So yeah. Action point Dennis is for Paul and those guys to figure out a solution on that side.   Just to make sure that we have multiple staging environment or a solution that DevOps proposes that the guys …

CR: Make sure that  you’ve got the UK QA leads and the US guys on to it.

Dennis Crow (DC): Can we also agree that we can take these current errors and add the “3.0 Live” label ‘cause …

Wednesday: 2 Issues

MW: We’re still tracking down the actual root cause for the disconnects that we’re getting currently which is happening often enough for the various clients that it just … it kills the server. The server doesn’t crash but it does mean that once a player gets into this state rejoining back into the … to that same server becomes incredibly difficult. So we can easily people dropping out of the server because of a disconnect and then not being able to reconnect. Which just … in the Evocati environment would end up with a lot of people being unable to join various servers.

II. The Bugs

Ashram Kain (AK): Working in progress. Work logs. If you have any questions on that please let me know. We’re trying to get a schedule together of what we’re going to be working on [something something something] that. So I’d like to steal time from these two gentlemen, so please understand if I pull them away that it is actually important. I know no one takes schedule too seriously but that said if you have something that you want to get done, or some task that sitting on you that you wanted to work on and you feel is important, please let us know. Don’t ignore something that you want to do or try and find some other time to do it. Let us know so we can have some time to schedule it in so we know that it’s a priority for you, what the business case is for why you want to do it. With that said, leads you got anything?

Chad McKinney (CMK): Um, yeah. Make sure you check the things I’ll need that has the Evocati fixed version ‘cause that is the big “Oh My God” thing right now. On us it’s just me and Spencer but if something comes in definitely … like actually if anything comes in with that let me know so that I know that I have visibility of all the ones that are on the team right now.

MW: So scratching beneath the surface there were other issues related around the insurance that we went into on Friday. Carlos, Spencer, Chad, Paul, and …

BlueShoulderExtremeRight (BSER): Sam.

MW: … Sam - thank you - and Zane have all been working on that today. Well Sam hasn’t because Sam’s been ill so Simon White picked it up. But they’ve been working on that today to get the entirety of the insurance and the insurance provider stuff on the game code and the UI all hooked in together. Si White put a check in through about a half hour ago? Maybe a little bit under.

BSER: Carlos is about to resolve it.

MW: Brilliant. Carlos, apparently, is about to resolve it. There was a little bit extra work that Zane needed to do on top of what Si submitted.

Spencer Johnson (SJ): So the first part of this problem is that we were allowing you to spawn ships that were already destroyed. So you go into the the ASOP terminal over here. You could find your ship. There’s a little Retrieve button here. Crucially we needed to turn that button off if the ship was already destroyed and in pieces ‘cause the design is you’re supposed to claim insurance on that ship and, after you’ve waited, then you can spawn it.

Carlos Pla Pueyo (CPP): Then we have second one which was the Insurance system wasn’t actually working as intended. In theory once a ship is destroyed you should be able to file a claim and then you can pay a little fee to get your ship back. And the ship you get is a new one. So it’s like full health. It’s not destroyed. And that’s how the system should work. But there was a problem in the way which wasn’t making this working as it should.

SJ: So this insurance bug is a little bit more dubious because you could claim insurance on a ship just fine. And go spawn this new ship gotten after claiming insurance. And on first inspection it will look fine if you go out on the landing pad and you’ve got, like, a Gladius or an M50. But for more complicated ships like the Cutlass you might notice that all the doors are missing and, even worse, all the seats are missing. So insurance isn’t fully entitling every piece of this ship to you. So some vehicles will spawn and be totally unflyable because they won’t have ships … or they won’t have seats or half of their necessary components to act to actually work.

CPP: Actually it wasn’t that bad because we had the game code side already prepared for doing this and we also had the UI prepared for doing this but we’re missing some important hooks in between which is what I tried to help fix. So in the end we just added the hooks, we fixed the UI so you shouldn’t be able to spawn a ship if it’s already, if it’s not available actually, if it’s destroyed or it’s not prepared to be spawned and after that, now you can claim insurance and everything works.

Wilmslow Studio, Live Release Sync Oct 3rd

MW: And the only other one that, this is one one that I put on the must fix list, but I… If Erin and Chris are fine with it we could go without it. It’s up to them. QA pointed out to me that the inner quantum travel points for some reason are all showing up as being obstructed even though they’re not.

Luke Pressley (LP): Around a planet or moon there are these, we have to place these 6 cardinal points, quantum travel points that allow you to travel all the way around. So if you came in on one side and needed to get around the back, you’d be able to bounce off just one or two markers and get yourself without having to fly around or you know, use lots and lots of little tiny points.

We added these, by hand at the moment and eventually they will be generated dynamically so if we change the size of a planet, the markers change with it. For now they’re placed by hand and what we did was we decided that for atmosphere would be say, zero point zero two five, the radius of the moon and that’s how thick the atmosphere would be, these things have pretty thing atmospheres, but it became clear when you take into account the burnup affect, the reentry effect, that looks really odd when it happens really close to the surface and some things are just harder to sell, like they have to look like you’d expect them to.

So what we did was we used the earth as an example and we decided that the atmosphere of these planets and moons would be 10% say of their radius and that meant that the burnup happens higher up, it looked right. The bug was that these cardinal points then became obstructed and obviously the quantum travel system has been in flux so we didn’t know if it was that was broken or what and now it’s kind of stabilized. We were able to go in and have a look and realize that we just hadn’t updated the cardinal points position to be outside of the atmosphere, the new atmosphere, thicker atmosphere. So you cannot quantum through the atmosphere, we don’t allow it.

So as you can see here we move the cardinal points out so that you kind of skin the atmosphere there, and still allow you to around the planet. So that’s how we fixed the inability to target these use in for quantum travel thing, but it only became apparent once the quantum travel system started disallowing you to travel through atmosphere.

III. The Decision

Wilmslow Studio Live Release Sync Oct 3rd

MW: First off today we had a deadlock on the server or deadlock in the client I should say which pretty much killed things and meant that the game lasted thirty seconds before it just crashed out. Bolte investigated this, we pulled in the various bits and pieces that he needed. I’m just going to paste the Jira for you reference there. So bug support fixing for that, the fix was backing out his IO schedule work that he put in yesterday so the next build, the one that’s running at the moment hopefully should actually be able to just play it. Also we resolved off, cause we were able to check the development builds. We were able to resolve off the bug that was sat ... the other performance issues we had. The server and client performance degrading as more people connected. It looks like from an investigation that melissa did in the Frankfurt side that the fix that crane put in yesterday for the fluctuating framerate may have actually solved this one as well. So QA here result office cannot repro this morning, tested  against the development build from this morning and it seemed fine so we need to verify it again on the build that is running currently.

Conference call: The build that [inaudible] because we fixed the build issues.

MW: So that’s the next part I’m coming onto. The build that's running at the moment, build number 637376 is going to fail and hopefully pick back up again. I would hope we can treat that as an Evocati release candidate, of course pending the testing on Steve’s check in on that one. If that all goes through alright, and seems to cause no further problems, framerates decent, Erin would like to push this one out to Evocati.

LA Studio Go/No-go Meeting Oct 5th @4PM.

Austin Dev: So like I said we’re just finishing up the final terms of the checklist, getting everything just [inaudible]  functional on that playlist, but kind of stuck with specific problems that the Evocati could focus it and then we’ll be good to go.

CR: Okay well we worked out in terms of what we’re telling the Evocati to do, what areas they’ve got to focus on what we want to get feedback on.

Austin Dev2: It’s simple for this one Chris. We just want them to fly around and go at joy, flying around the different moons and quantum travelling from different places that they’ve never been able to go before.

Austin Dev: Starmap

Austin Dev2: Starmap yup. Which they’ve never seen so this will be pretty cool to them. We’d rather them not focus on combat I don’t think at this point. They could but that’s not a goal of this test. I think we just have to roll it out and say, “Hey everyone jump in your favourite ship and let's go check out the system”.

CR: So if we say go, how long is the prep time, when do we think we’ll launch.

Austin Dev: After about two hours to finish up final stuff, get everything support, hand the client out, we’ve also got to finish our environment checks, the launcher is go to go so that we’ll be rolling out. So we need to coordinate with Benoit.

Then after that it’s going to be, I don’t know, can’t speak for [inaudible] side.

Jake Ross (JR): So after QA greenlight then you guys are gonna go to … [Inaudible]

Austin Dev 3: Yeah we’re already saying just essentially, I mean how long it takes once we get the greenlight, see approval. [inaudible]

JR: You should have about an hour from when the QA greenlight to when they actually flip the switch I think.

Austin Dev 3: We have to test the launcher

Austin Dev: The launcher we want to make extra certain everything there is working before we tell Evocati to download it.

ER: The most important need is to make sure we have tech support for performance and other stuff like that just to get it out to them.

CR: So we definitely would want to make sure we have coverage tonight. Obviously people that stay tonight should come in super late or people going home to get a nap and however you want to manage it will, and then make sure we have a handover to the UK team on sort of the customer service and support and the QA side so they can just carry on, it’s a full handover. What we really should want to make sure is we could probably like as Erin saying, there’s certain things we want to focus on like some of the performance testing or stress testing whatever so we should start to build that because it will be quite useful because it’s been hard for us to get 24 people playing all the time. So really stressing all the aspects, people different moons, all around seeing how it holds up and also just doing telemetry on the servers and clients.

JR: So for the remaining timeframe how much longer do you think?

Austin Dev: Two hours.

JR: Two hours.

Austin Dev: [inaudible] Manpower.

JR: Okay and then we’ll deal with Benoit on the launch testing, how long that’s going to take for I guess, we need to comfortably say around 9 O’clock.

CR: Okay.

JR: Inaudible

CR: Okay so officially I guess it’s a go, Erin I guess you concur?

ER: Yeah absolutely, [inaudible]

CR: GO! Go GO GO GO.

ER: Evocati **** Yeah!

EKD: So we’re all very excited that we’ve officially pushed SC Alpha 3.0 out to our first round of non Cloud Imperium testers that we call the Evocati. This group adds more than 800 testers to our internal QA. This not only helps us target specific areas to help identify further crucial fixes, but also provides the number of players we need to test our publishing process including our new delta patcher and as we’ve stated, the first testers will help us evaluate traversal, but we still polishing and improving all kinds of other elements in this release including cargo and mission gameplay, the mirrade of newly implemented UI elements, ship movement, lighting improvements and so on.

So while we’re really glad to this first version out, we are by no means done working. So we’ll be releasing new patches to this Evocati group until we feel thorough improvements have been completed and we’re ready to put it on our PTU, or Public Test Universe, which is where we’ll invite even more to test this until we’re ready to release publicly 3.0.

So at the time of filming this we’re at zero must fix issues on this initial release to Evocati, and this allows us to move on to another aspect of the 3.0 release which is an improved shopping experience including, but not limited to: buying and selling, try on mode, UI flow, and so on. So we’ve added 17 issues to the must fix list for those improvements, but remember this doesn’t include anything that the Evocati are now going to help us find as well. So check back here next week on Burndown.

Back to Studio With Chris Roberts (CEO, Director of Star Citizen and Squadron 42), Sandi Gardiner (VP of Marketing). Timestamped Link.

CR: There you go. So, you can checkout the production report on our website for more information on what issues we’ve dealt with during this week.zz

SG: Now, it’s time to take aim on this week’s feature.

CR: Ooo, bad pun.

[Both Chuckle]

SG: The updated turret system. Turrets are an essential part of ship security while providing opportunities for exciting multi-crew gameplay.

CR: Yes, and because of that enhancing the turret experience for 3.0 has been a priority for us. There’s been a lot of feedback we’ve had over the time on forums, and from hooking them into the pipe system to improving the targeting and the general user experience the devs have done a ton of work to make turrets more responsive and work with all the ship systems that are coming online with Item 2.0

SG: Let’s take a look at this week’s feature to see what they’ve done.

Turrets With Kirk Tome (Lead Technical Designer). Timestamped Link.

Kirk Tome (KT): So we’ve noticed in the past that using turrets was a very unsatisfactory experience, mainly because it was so hard to hit things in them. So, what we wanted to do in 3.0 is to improve that experience.

Max Hung (MH): We had the old system where it used old items and had it’s own directing system. Now we had to import … move that to the new system to allow us to give more freedom for the set designers to control. One of the features we had to do was make sure that it hooked up to our new pipe system properly, so it would be powered, it would generate heat, and it would overheat and have all of that kind of gameplay. We also needed to adapt to a new aiming system to tell which way the turret was turning. We had to make new systems in order to make it more … give more player feedback like when you’re shooting a turret or when you’re turning it or when you’re aiming it’ll ... it should … it’ll feel a lot better when you’re actually using … sitting in the turret and using it.

KT: The first thing we want to do is improve how you aim at targets. Some of the things we improved were to decrease or narrow the range at which you can freelook and have the turret start turning its body to respond to your movements at a much more rapid pace. We also have a linear ramp up, so as you get closer to that edge of turning the turret starts spinning at a much more rapid pace, so you can keep yourself on the target.

MH: Well right now you remember your crosshairs and then you have your circle-pip to show where you’re looking. Right now we have that chasing around you, so it’s where you’re looking is always to the center of the screen, and then we have this extra little dash-pip that we’re trying to get rid of, but it’s part of the crosshair-pip and what you can see that as you turn the ship … as you turn the turret it moves to show where the cannons are firing, and so this is useful when you’re chasing enemies to know why aren’t I dealing damage. Well, it’s because the turrets are … is compensating to not shoot and just blow up your own ship, but when the two reticles meet they phase out so you don’t ... it doesn’t block your view.

KT: Some other improvements we’ve included are some fun ones like we included IK, so you can actually see yourself as the turret moves and you’re actually controlling it, and also some body motion using the G-force technology we have for the cockpit, so that you can respond to getting hit, and you’ll see that your body move as the ship tumbles about. There’s some gimbaling technology in which it compensates for the ship actually moving as opposed to where you try to aim, so the turret will keep its targeting as focused as possible regardless of the ship orientation, so that should make it much better to hit targets with.

MH: In order to get this work we had to find a way to animate the turret seat and rotate it at the same time. So, this whole system of the seat coming up and down, that’s all done in animation, and that involves bones and timing things in states, so that we can know that ... first we want the seat to come down, then we want the seat to come up, and then we want it to rotate.

One of the things that we had to work through was that if you … if you rotate it on a joints while the animation was playing it would fight each other. So, sometimes the seat would snap back and forth. Sometimes the rotations would snap, and it was just … you would get dizzy going in and out of the turret. One thing we had to do was to have the seats come down and then have all the joints … all the code do the rotations on one specific joint, so that the animations would play on its child nodes, and then it would be able to play the animation and not fight with the joints while it was coming up and down, and so it would let you rotate and do all this.

So before we started on the work we had the ability to get in, we can get out, and here we are at the top, and that’s it. Now this is really inconvenient when you’re playing, cause say the enemies are in front of the ship. Now you’re just completely facing the wrong way. So while we still get some nice … we get to do the long turnaround in order to shoot at different targets. So what I did instead was we had a new feature in DATAForge where you can define rotations - pre enter, post enter, exit enter, and so this allows you to define … oh say I want the seat to turn 90 degrees in order for us to get in, and then when we get out we want to turn the right way, and then when we get out we do the reverse 90, 180, and 90. Well that’s porting, and with our new angles when we get in the ship we can see it twist back and forth. This is the part where the designers come in and decide which angles to actually turn the turret in, but now we’re looking … we’re facing the right way, we can turn this ship turret on, and then here we are facing forward ready to shoot at any enemies that we’re fighting.

KT: We sort of had the pre enter, post enter, pre exit, post exit orientation tech in there, so that when you enter turrets from odd angles, and so we had a little bit of tech in which the turret while it’s not being used is oriented forward, but when you enter it, it turned sideways for you, allowing you to enter it, be in the proper orientation, and then finally rest forward so that you’ll be able to shoot targets in front of you.

The most challenging aspects were probably getting the feel of converting what the player wanted to do as far as their input to where they wanted to aim. That was the most touchy-feely part of this where it was all about okay, we know the raw values that the player’s putting into the system via their mouse. What does that mean as far as trying to be intuitive as to where they want to aim? That required a lot of iteration. We also figured out that there was some improvements in the UI and how the pips could be … could indicate where you were targeting,and so we learned some things along the way, and made improvements to the system that way.

Another fun feature we added is an alternate fire mode, so you can click a button on the dashboard of the turret and instead of the guns firing simultaneously you now can fire … have alternate fire which spreads out your fire rate, but gives you a better ability to hit targets, because you’ll have a better spread.

MH: So, right now the old way was that turrets would … all their guns would shoot at the same time, cause turrets only had one fire mode. So, you can see that right now both cannons are shooting at the same time. Here, have a little backdrop. So what we did was we allowed this change fire mode to allow you to choose between staggering and synchronized firing. So, now it’s back and forth, and now it’s easier to track an enemy as they fly along. Well, two guns between pulsing and fire … staggering is kind of cool. Now imagine if you’re on the Hurricane with four guns, and they’re all evenly spaced out, and so you get this steady stream of bullets flying at your enemies.

So, if you notice something - while we’re shooting our ship sometimes the enemy would fly under the ship. Here we see the turrets move by themselves. The guns aim at an angle to avoid shooting your own ship. Now this is because before we had this we … the turrets … guns can shoot anywhere they wanted including through your own ship. Like if you’re chasing through an enemy and they swoop down below the ship, you would end up shooting into your ship. Sometimes you would blow it up. Sometimes you would miss, but we wanted to avoid that situation, so we had a few different solutions to fix that.

So before we had defined limits we could shoot your … shoot through your own ship. You can see … you can see right behind the cannon. Right behind the ship you can see our bullets are going through the ship. The first solution was to have bullets go through your ship so you wouldn’t shoot yourself, and that worked ‘cause we’re not blowing up our own ship, but this doesn’t make any gameplay sense or like any sense in reality, because why would the bullets go through a ship, and so another idea … another thing we did was we would allow you to define these custom rotation limits. So we’ll say we have these dead zones and angle limits, and so you could define a standard angle limit which would let you keep the turret in a specific range or you can where it’s either for here like this 90 degrees downward, 90 degrees up or you can define custom limits, and you could just rotate off of a specific joint.

So right now we’re rotating … we want to base our turret on yaw - that’s our left and right motion, so we want to based on our left and right angle we want to have a specific limit so when we are turned forward our angles are … we can look 90 degrees down, 90 degrees up, and then let’s have another one so that when we are 45 degrees to our left or to our right we can only turn 15 degrees down and 90 degrees up, and then we just keep this going. Define a few more … 180. So let’s say you can’t aim down at … 30 degrees up, 90 degrees up, and then 270 where you can only aim down 90, -30. Export this binary. So now I have a reason not to shoot a ship, and we don’t have to worry about any stray bullets hitting us.

KT: When we converted the turrets over to Item 2.0 there were some things that we lost. The UI being one of them, so we are in the midst of converting all of the old UI into the turret experience so that things like the reticles and the lag-pips are back, and we’re going to be introducing a few more bits of information on the UI, so that you’ll get a better … you’ll have a better sense of where enemies are around you.

We’re thinking about what we can do in the future to improve well, the communication to other crewmates about what you’re targeting and more information about the targets themselves. Things like the status of the targets, what other crewmembers in other stations and especially in other turrets what they’re targeting, and have them be pinned and displayed on your UI, so you could see exactly what targets everyone is aiming at. Also, the ability for the other stations to show you what maybe an important target. You could have the pilot show every … every turret - hey look over in this direction, and start firing at that frigate over there. These and improvements in the radar and communicating exactly where targets are from relative of your position will allow everyone on the ship to communicate exactly where they should be aiming and where they should be focusing their attention.

The most important improvements we made were all done through trial and error. We tried something and then play with it a little, find … found out what did work and what didn’t. Took the aspects that did, and figured out ways in which we could improve the aspects that didn’t, because turrets deal with basically like angles right, so it’s the angle of the turret and the guns to where you want to fire. So, because the player is trying to get the angle of the guns to the target, namely the ships that are your enemy, trying to figure out exactly how the player input translated to being able to make that the source of the shot and the destination of the shot accurate was the most challenging and really the goal of improving the turrets. So, all of these things put together should mean that you’ll have a lot more fun using turrets in 3.0

Outro With Chris Roberts (CEO, Director of Star Citizen and Squadron 42), Sandi Gardiner (VP of Marketing). Timestamped Link.

CR: There you go. So we’ve been wanting as I’ve mentioned earlier to make improvements to the turrets system for a while and it’s good to see some of those changes coming into 3.0  You know there’s a lot of little details like adding the alternate fire mode which is something we can do because of the player interaction mode we have now, and giving designers the option to orient the turret in different directions when it deploys. It just some of the new and improved features that will make using a turret a more satisfying experience for players and enhance the multi-crew gameplay aspect that you can do in Star Citizen.

SG: Very cool, and that’s all for today’s episode. We wanted to remind everyone that September’s Monthly Report will be available tomorrow. Check it out to get a wide range of details about all the progress we made this past month.

CR: Yep, and I think it’s probably going to be a little more interesting than they have been in the past, because we’re not doing the studio updates while we’re doing burndowns, so you’ll get a little more information in some of the various aspects of studios that you don’t see covered in what we’re doing on the burndown side, so definitely check that out, and finally I’d like to say thank you to all of our subscribers for your support. It’s because of you guys that we can produce the wide variety of shows that keep the community up to date with what we’re doing, and that’s really important.

SG: And of course thanks to all our backers. Your dedication to Star Citizen is what makes this truly ambitious game possible.

CR: Yes. It definitely does, and thank you very much. So, until next week we’ll see you …

CR & SG: … around the ‘verse [Dual Hand Wave]

CanadianSyrup

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