Sandi Gardiner (SG): Welcome to another episode of Around the Verse. I’m Sandi Gardiner.
Chris Roberts (CR): And I’m Chris Roberts.
SG: Today we’ll dive into Scramble Race lighting, gussying up Rest Stops, audio, and more; but not before checking out the latest from the in-game activities of our community.
CR: Yes. So in a timely move and org called Overdrive - from our Russian community - summoned the spirit of Evocati last weekend.
SG: Using 57 Greycat buggies a crew of eight invoked the Star Citizen frontline playtesters by spelling out their name on an epic scale.
CR: Good timing on their part with Alpha 3.3 testing released to the Evocati test group this past weekend. Now they continue to test the new 3.3 features and content preparing it for a wider PTU release. They are also getting ready for OCS testing to make sure it is ready to go as soon as possible.
SG: Happy testing to you all. Now onto development updates. Here we are again at the scramble races as the devs get these missions ready for prime time a lot of fine tuning is underway.
CR: So right now the Mission Team has been working with the Lighting Team to dial everything in. Here’s Callum Hancock with more.
Callum Hancock (CH): So in the old set up with the asteroid arenas we didn’t used to have any kind of lighting at all. Problem was the minute the sun went behind Yela - was shaded in any way - the players would end up running into asteroids they had absolutely no chance of seeing.
You can see over here where the player comes around this asteroid. Even though the sun’s out - in the shade - they come round this corner and they’ve got no chance of seeing this other side of the asteroid. They’re going straight into it. Don’t even realise it there until the last minute.
So to try and solve this we ended up first trying to put in a cubemap to add in lighting. We thought it looked good at first but the lighting guys weren’t too happy with it. It was putting out too much light and ended up making the arena glow little bit too much.
To try and solve this and justify it we added in these bits of cabling here and the antennas. Tried to add in some practical lights to try and make it feel justified. It still was overpowering the scene a little bit too much.
So after that we had to go back to them and speak to them again. They came back to us with another solution which was having these low intensity, low attenuation bulbs dotted around the outside. And because the lights are set really, really low it’s not making it glow or anything.
It just adds just enough light to be able to see. It’s still night time. It’s still going to be a challenge to see most of it but the player never really feels like they’re being cheated. And they’re not going to run into anything they had no chance of ever seeing at all.
SG: So that’s pretty interesting. So what other areas of the game are there that we have challenges lighting up the dark?
CR: They were looking at both more automated ways were we can, real time, do physical, almost global illumination stuff. Building cubemaps on the fly and stuff. Because what you want to do is, you want to have at least a small amount of light or light bounce around so you can see things even when it’s pretty dark. I mean it’s a challenge you have. And then of course we’ll do specific things depending locations. But … it is a challenge. I mean we’re trying to light a whole universe. With … in the game so you don’t run into asteroids you can’t see.
SG: Very cool. It’s been a few weeks since we checked in on Rest Stops and here we see work that the Procedural Tech Team has done recently on various libraries.
CR: The procedural generation varying colour schemes goes a long way along with varying, obviously, the shapes.
SG: Sticking with the Rest Stops, here’s a look a recent testing the Procedural feature Team has done on the approach to stations like this from a pilot’s perspective.
CR: The Props Team continues to turn out more Lorville conversation pieces. Here we see hanging clothing, trash cans, and a lot of little details that really lend the city personality.
SG: Now let’s look to vehicle features. Ship teams have been busy getting onboard power plant systems up to spec. Junior Gameplay Programmer Jonathan Young can fill us in.
Jonathan Young (JY): So we’ve also been working on making the power system more consistent for a player to know what’s going to happen when the system doesn’t have enough power. We discovered that this meant the items turned off in order as dictated in an XML. Which meant if a dashboard is first in the XML then all your MFDs are going to turn off.
To fix that we’ve added per item priorities so the Designers can set which items are more important than others. For example you might want the shields to turn off before the thrusters so you can escape. And you want the dashboards to turn off quite late so that you can still manage all your systems and still see what the status of your ship is.
SG: So tell me how this system affects your overall flight experience.
CR: Well … it’s the power management and the management of the different items. And so you want to manage your power in a way that keeps your ship working at an optimal capability. And then you could turn off certain systems so you’d then have more power available for your shields or more power available for your engines. And it would go down the list and you as a player can go in there and tweak what you think the priorities should are. I mean you probably wouldn’t want to put …
SG: Pull your life support.
CR: … the life support down at the bottom. But the idea is to manage it because you don’t have to do it all; you don’t have to micromanage all this if you don’t want to. It will take … we already have priorities and … and a rule set for it. But if you do want to micromanage it then you can maximise your experience out in space or in combat. And so I think that’s … the model we’re going for is you should be able to get in and it should be fun and simple but if you really want to learn all the systems, and tweak things, and do stuff, then you can be a better pilot, or a better trader, or combat fighter, or whatever. So that’s … this is one of the aspects of that.
SG: I think I would let the ship do its thing. The Audio Team has been here fine tuning the sound effects for the Karna rifle from Kastak Arms as well as tweaking weight distribution to make footsteps sound more realistic.
CR: Distinct sounds are now being triggered when a player walks backwards or sideways. Footsteps now get noticeably quieter while the player is crouching; and each foot has their own separate audio identity for more dynamic sound in all of these cases.
SG: The Focused Audio feature is applied here with footsteps amplified when the player is looking down at their feet.
CR: Finally we go to Narrative Director Dave Haddock and Senior Motion Capture Specialist Joe Ponsford for a look at a recent mocap shoot that was just done in the UK.
Dave Haddock (DH): What we’re doing here is we’ve come out to grab some performance capture for some of the generic NPCs that the players will be coming across in some of our landing zones.
Joe Ponsford (JP): This is where we’re shooting motion capture audio and facial simultaneously in one complete system. So we’re using LTC Timecode to create the sync between the four separate systems. And then we have a private own application where we look to sync the facial with the motion capture and with the audio. So when we press trigger it passes the recording it also passes the take name as well.
What we do is we record video reference at the same time as we’re shooting. We try to take stuff we made by director select - these are based on the timecode - so we can ensure that as soon as director says “Okay, I want it from this time point” we track it from there and then we pass it on to the Animation Team. The Animation Team then do a complete polish and then this gets put straight into the game engine.
SG: That looked like fun. I miss mocap.
CR: Yeah. There was a little week shoot that was done at the very beginning of this month. Dave was over there with Will Weisbaum. We had some stuff that we needed to pick up for 3.3 and now what we’re calling 3.3.5. Some general stuff for some of the FSP AI as well as stuff for Lorville for this up and coming quarter that will start at CitizenCon.
SG: I like it. Yeah, speaking of the 3.3 part for CitizenCon there are less than 50 tickets left for CitizenCon 2948 and we would love to see you there on October 10th in Austin. So grab one while you still can.
And if you happen to be in France the weekend of October 12th and 13th, our French community is organising a fan-driven event in Orly called Pari’verse.
CR: And it looks like it’s going to be a great event, similar to community organised meetups like BritizenCon in the UK, and Con42 - which was just recently held this past weekend - in Germany. They have activities and tournaments planned and tickets are still available. So if you’re going to be in the area you should check it out. And I think there’s a rumour that Brian Chambers may go there ...
SG: Oo, Brian Chambers.
CR: … on his way back from CitizenCon! So it should be pretty cool.
SG: There you go. Very popular is Brian Chambers. And that’s it for us this week. Don’t forget to tune in to Reverse the Verse live tomorrow at noon Pacific on Twitch.
CR: Yeah and thanks to all the subscribers as well as each and every backer. Until next time, we will see you …
Both: … around the ‘verse.