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!
Meet The Ship Team - Foundry 42 UK
Concept team ensure that every idea Chris or Todd have comes to life
Vehicle Art team are responsible for creating all the artwork on the ships: interior, exterior, kits, textures, shaders, and lighting
System Design template the interface for the UI team to plug their work into
UI team are responsible for implementing the visual style and functionality into the ship MFDs and HUDs
Audio department adds all the sound effects, ambience and music to the ships and trailers
QA department test all the different aspects and sure all the different aspects work together as intended
Marketing department is responsible for concept sales, flight ready sales and ensuring CIG deliver what's expected when the ship's released
Tech Design team touches every aspect from initial design briefs through blocking out to set up, balance and release
VFX team starts as soon as a mesh is available and take account of all the features and manufacturer style
Meet The Ship Team - CIG Austin
Chris Smith has started working on the Anvil Lightning F8 and is excited to get this heavy hitting fighter in your hands
Josh Coons is just chillaxed to the max while working on ships, character models and props
Meet The Ship Team - CIG Los Angeles
Dave Haddock helps to ground the ship concepts in the reality of the Star Citizen universe
LA's 3D art team worked on the Caterpillar, and is working on the Hurricane, the Mustang redo, and the Cyclone
Matt Intrieri over the last four and a half years worked on just about all aspects of the ships, but mainly helped to design many of the design tools found in the RSI Toolbox these days
Kirk Tome's tech and design team in LA is responsible for ships and their related systems – how you fly and interact with them
Mark Abent makes all the ship function magic happen and passes the buck to his two assistants, Max and Patrick
Back to Jared
Ship creation is more of a marathon than a sprint according to Disco Lando
How Ship Ideas Are Born & Where They Come From
Chris Roberts draws inspiration from sci-fi film and literature as well as World War influences to create ship concept ideas
Ship concepts usually come with a related function or gameplay mechanic – combat, mining, salvage, etc
The ideas are bounced around amongst the team as to all the possibilities associated with the concepts
Logical design requirements and emotional attachment are balanced for the role of the ship in conception
Then the design team dictates which studio gets the ship to design preferably with the same designer that created the original concept
This is further divvied up with a manufacturing line and a designer and artist that are paired together
The concept is reviewed for redundancy and glut in certain manufacturing lines to promote balance, choice and variety within the gameplay
Hierarchy within the ship line is then determined
There’s a lot of back and forth when it comes to the ships. They have to be vetted and approved by a large team of people, with Chris at the top.
They try to make sure newer art members get the chance to work on ships as well, giving them the more ‘standard’ portions, while more outlandish ships still go to senior designers.
Occasionally they’ll switch the manufacturer planned for a ship, if another manufacturer meshes better.
Avenger rework: SQ42 work is done. Back to PU ship team to finish that work.
Eclipse: Final art phase, nearly same state as the Avenger rework.
Hammerhead: Kitbashing the remaining interior.
Mustang Alpha rework: Final modelling.
Idris: Final modelling.
600i: Final modelling.
Hurricane: Grey box surfacing.
Blade: Grey box modelling.
Constellation Phoenix: White box complete, moved on to grey box modelling.
F8 Lightning: White box.
Razor: Flight prep.
Terrapin: Flight prep.
Reclaimer: Flight prep.
Cyclone: Flight prep.
Ship Shape: MISC Razor
Dedicated racing ship. MISC manufacturer but definitely draws very strongly on their partnership with the Xi’an - does not resemble MISC design.
One of the inspirations was Nathan Dearsley’s McLaren MP4-X concept race car design.
The Razor has faster straight line speed than the M50, but the M50 is more maneuverable.
Razor changed significantly while it was being made - it had to be slimmed down from the original design to make the animations work.
Razor uses the character animations from the M50.
Cockpit canopy design is one of the things that sets the Razor apart, with the canopy enclosing around you after you get in.
Cockpit was originally very uncomfortable looking with a lot of bare metal surfaces. This was given a luxury pass and now looks more like a high end super car, with inspiration taken from Lamborghini.
Making the sleek shape of the Razor look good was very difficult and had to be iterated on repeatedly.
Turned out great - perhaps even better than the concept art.
Primary focus of the Razor is the Murray Cup race.
Chris Roberts (CR): Hello and welcome to another episode of Around the Verse - our weekly look at Star Citizen’s development. I’m Chris Roberts and today we have standing in for Sandi, Sean Tracy.
Sean Tracy (ST): Hi. Last week we introduced a new format for Around the Verse featuring one segment in each episode.
CR: Yeah and it allows us to bring you longer more in depth looks into what we’ve been up to at all our studios, and deeper dives into the development process.
ST: This week Community Content Manager Jared Huckaby kicks of the season of Ship Shape our new in depth look at everything involved in the ship production process.
CR: In this installment we’ll meet the various teams responsible for designing and developing all of our ships and learn about where new ship idea from with a glimpse into the earliest conceptual stages of the design process along with an update on the MISC Razor.
ST: Let’s check in with Jared now for January’s Ship Shape.
[1:04] Ship Shape - January 2018 Edition
Jared Huckaby (JH): Greeting Citizens and welcome to Ship Shape. I’m your host, Community Content Manager, Jared Huckaby.
During our Anniversary Specials we introduced our new format where we give a quick rundown on what’s in the ship pipeline, who’s working on what, provide interviews with developers, and bring you the most up-to-date news on your favourite Star Citizen ships working their way towards their release into the Persistent Universe.
Between the eight Anniversary Specials, and then the Holiday Special just last month, we’ve updated on the current status of eighteen ships in the Star Citizen ship pipeline in only the last eight weeks. That’s a lot of space ships.
As we go forward in 2018 we’ll take one ATV every few weeks to check back in with the ship teams and update on the continuing evolution - not only of these eighteen ships that are already in the pipeline - but new ships as they enter the development fray.
Because we’ve covered every ship in the pipeline so extensively in just the last several weeks our first show of 2018 will be an introduction to the people and processes in bringing the Star Citizen spaceships to life. To get things started let's meet some of the team members in our studios working throughout the world that we’ll get to check in with throughout 2018 and beyond.
[2:23] Ship Shape: Meet The Ship Team - Foundry 42 UK
Luke Davis (LD): I’m Luke Davis, the Ship Pipeline Producer, coming to you from Foundry 42 in Wilmslow. Today I’m going to introduce you to all the guys working on the ship pipeline in the studio.
Let’s start with the Concept team on my right here. We have Paul Jones our Art Director who basically … he is the guy who makes sure that every idea that Chris has - every idea that Todd has - actually comes to life.
Paul Jones (PJ): Basically I’m the Art Director with the Concept team. And we split into two and this one section we deal with the ships. So we get to work on all the new, cool stuff. We’re the sharp end of the stick. Basically … let our imaginations run free and deliver what Chris wants.
LD: We have Sarah who has recently started we’re looking forward to what she’s going to bring us. We have Mike over there who’s recently worked on the Anvil Hawk.
Michael Oberschneider : My position here is Senior Concept Artist and I’m working on concept designs for new ships. What I find enjoyable is that you first start a basic idea - you don’t know where it leads - but you start sketching, make your first thumbnails. You’re getting closer and closer to your main idea. You decide for some final sketches and it’s improving every time you’re working on it.
LD: And now let’s going and have a look at the Ship Art team. Follow me. And after it’s done with the Concept team it comes over here to our lovely ship team. On the ship team let me introduce you to a few of the guys here.
We have Phil our Ship Lead Artist who is essentially responsible for making sure that everything that Todd, Erin, and Chris want from the universe - want into the game - gets communicated and coordinated to the guys and making sure that actually goes into the game.
Phil Howlett (PH): As the Vehicle Art team we are responsible for creating all the artwork on the ships: interiors, exteriors, the modular kits. We’re also responsible for all the textures, the shaders, and the lighting. My role in all that is partly to still be in Production producing artwork and leading by example. But also to work with other departments and make sure that the schedules and estimates are correct and everyone knows what they are working on.
LD: We have our senior artists. Jay - at the end over there - who’s currently working on the 600i, has previously worked on the Bengal, and has been the guy who has fleshed out ship derelict pipeline.
Jay Malhotra (JH): So for me one of the biggest challenges when making ships for Star Citizen is the whole process and the process itself. And the fact that you take something that is initially just a concept, building the block out, figuring the design - the layout, and then from that point trying to take the manufacturing style and the direction that it needs to go into and then push it forward all the way to in-game. And so for me that’s the most exciting challenge about the whole process.
LD: We have Joe - in the corner over there - who has previously worked on the MISC Razor, the Dragonfly, and you may know him for being the guy responsible for working on the Star Kitten livery skin for the Dragonfly.
Joe Neville (JN): I find working on the ships quite enjoyable because you have such a diversity of work. Some days you’re building quite agile sports car-esque racing ships, and some days you’re building bombers and giant frigates.
LD: And that was our ship team. In addition to those guys we also have a few more guys on this floor. We have the system designers and we also have UI. Let’s go and have a look at them.
In here we have the System Design team here in UK, and one of the steps in the pipeline is to make sure that Carl Jones here - our systems designer - essentially comes up with the UI templates which is for the UI team - the team next to us - to make sure that they have everything they need to plug in their work. Let’s go and meet them.
In here we have our UI team here in the UK. These guys are essentially the step in the pipeline who are responsible for making sure that the visual style and functionality are implemented into our MFDs and HUDs on the ships.
In addition to these teams we also have a few more down stairs. Let’s go and meet them.
And here we are on the ground floor. Behind me here we have the Audio team. And on the ship pipeline these are the guys responsible for making sure that add any audio to any moving part, any ambiance needed, any music, in addition to any trailers that we provide.
Philip Peers-Smallwood (PPS): The most challenging thing about working on the ships is creating that sense of a character per different ship. But also trying to make sure it maintains within the aesthetic of the manufacturer. But you want to make sure it’s got its own identity, own feel, but it fits in with the family of ships - the manufacturers ships - that it comes from. That’s probably the most challenging thing.
LD And that was Phil from the Audio department. On my right here we have the QA department up next. One of the guys is very important integrated into the ship pipeline is Mark, our QA Ship Specialist. He’s very much involved throughout the entire development process of the ship pipeline. And we go to him to make sure we are aware of every single issue that really come out of QA.
Mark Gibson (MG): So QA’s at the very end of the actual pipeline. Once all the departments have had time to work on the ships and add their different sections - the art, the animations, audio, VFXs - it then comes to us to test all those different aspects that come together to make sure that once they’re combined they actually work the way it’s meant to.
LD: Up next let’s go and meet our Marketing department. Let’s go.
And down here we have our Marketing department one of which is Arianne Garin our Associate Marketing Producer. She’s responsible for making sure that all of the requirements that come down from Sandi and Chris are taken into account for any planning within the ship pipeline. So the Concept Ship Sales, the Flight Ready Ship Sales are very important to us and if we don’t take that into account from the very start we will get it wrong.
Arianne Garin (AG): We create marketing plan and we collaborate with all the other respective teams whether that’s the Web team, the Art team, Design, and our Community team to just ensure that we deliver what the community expects when we ship it to release.
LD: And we also have a few other teams on the third floor to meet. Let’s go.
And here we are on the third floor. Let me introduce you to the UK Tech Design team. These are the guys that are essentially responsible for being the gatekeepers of the ship pipeline. Nothing goes through the pipeline without these guys actually being aware of it. They are also the guys that are responsible for making sure that every disciplines work comes together into one playable product.
At the end here we have John Crewe, our Lead Tech Designer.
John Crewe (JC): The UK Tech Design team is eight people including myself and we’re responsible for implementing all the art that the UK Ship Art team does. The Tech Design team fit in on every aspect of process. We’re there at the start during the initial design briefs. Feeding back on the concepts. Working with the artists when they’re actually blocking it out. Giving direction and feedback to all the other disciplines as they come onboard. Putting it all together and then balancing it and getting it out the door.
The biggest challenge is just getting everything together. There’s … on every ship there’s so many people - even the smaller ships will have probably ten people working on them - and it’s getting all those pieces of the puzzle together and working with each other and not causing issues.
LD: And on my right we have Steve Turberfield, our Senior Technical Designer. He is responsible for the initial design all the way through to implementing the final set up of our ships.
Steve Turberfield (ST): We’re very hands on pretty much from start to finish. So we will essentially design the specs of the ship and decide whereabouts that fits in with the ‘verse. We do the initial whitebox plan before that goes to Art. And then once the art and animations are done we’re responsible for setting up the ship to get it working in game.
LD: Over here we have the VFX team. There seems to be a few of the guys missing today but one of the guys we do have is Michal, our VFX Artist on ship pipeline. He primarily works on things like thrusters, damage, and quantum travel.
Michal Piatek: After we have first pass of vehicle mesh when there is something to play with, a concept mesh for example, we are ready to gather some ideas on how VFX should be made. We also can read design documents to foresee which features will be implemented in a vehicle so we have a good idea of what should be done in a feature. Later on once the vehicle is almost ready that’s when VFXs are doing effects.
So first thing I always do is I’m checking which manufacturer is creating this vehicle. Each manufacturer has certain certain look and it’s not only about the … the vehicle shape itself, it’s also about VFX. So Drake engines will look totally different than, for example, Anvil or Origin. It’s all manufacturer specific. It depends whether it’s a ground or space vehicle. We take all those factors into consideration and only then we start doing VFXs.
LD: And that was everyone who works on the ship pipeline here in the UK. Let’s head over to our Austin office and meet the guys who work on the ship pipeline over there.
[12:37] Ship Shape: Meet The Ship Team - CIG Austin
Chris Smith (CS): Hi, my name is Chris Smith. I’m the Lead Ship Artist here in Austin, Texas. And so I work on the ships here since almost the beginning of the project. I’ve designed - or built - quite a few of them including the 300i, the Hornet, Hornet F7A, I worked with Josh on the Constellation remake. And so, yeah, I’ve been working on ships for a long time. The challenge … the most challenging one probably would be the Constellation so far: that was a big ship and I had a lot, lot of moving parts, a lot of different rooms, areas, exterior, interior. So that was probably the hardest one so far that I’ve worked on.
So recently I got started on a new ship finally which is exciting. It’s been a while since I’ve done a new ship. I started working on the Anvil Lightning F8 heavy fighter ship, which is pretty cool ship. The design is really awesome, and it's Anvil company which I like. This one's going to be a pretty heavy fighter. It's going to have four size two guns, two size three weapons, loads of missiles … it's going to be … it's going to pack a punch, this guy. So, I'm pretty excited to get my hands on this one and yeah, see it through, and have you guys have that ship in your hands in no time.
Josh Coons (JC): Oh it's my name. Hi. I'm Josh Coons. Work at CIG in Austin, Texas. I'm a 3D modeler. I've had a few challenges in my career. Three plus years here at CIG. One of which was winning the CIG chillest dudes award beating out Chris Smith by a landslide. That was a huge challenge. Thanks guys for voting me. I've worked on a bunch of ships and other various items. I've worked on character models and props and all kinds of stuff but mostly just ships.
[14:52] ATV Ship Shape: Meet The Ship Team – CIG Los Angeles
Mark Abent (MA): Welcome to Ship Shape. I'm here to show you guys the good old feature team for the vehicles. Yeah. Now unfortunately Mr. Dave Haddock decided that ... you know … he's going to be in a meeting ...
Dave Haddock (DH): I sort of have a somewhat loose role with the ship team. Usually are kind of consulted or brought in to sort of talk about like the manufacturers – like who could potentially be a good manufacturer for it. Usually the initial brief kind of comes through from design as sort of what they're looking for as far as what the new ship is supposed to be, and then we sort of help contextualize it within the universe. Rather than we being the ones who say like, “Oh it should be a blah ship”. We don't, we don't really do that. We just sort of help if it's needed ground it in the reality of the universe.
MA: … So we'll let him be there, and we'll show off all the cooler people. We got right here; we got Matt Sherman. Good old designer typing away to the community. Cause you know what? He does awesome things. Continuing on we got Mr. Elwin making cool art stuff. You know he touches the pixels, does some things and they go ...
Elwin Bachiller (EB): My team is composed of a total of three guys – me, Daniel Kaminski (which is also another 3D artist; he does essentially the same stuff I do) and then we've got Byungjin Hyun (another 3D artist; does all the same stuff). So all three of us work together to build as many ships as possible for the community and together we all work together to put together the Caterpillar. Currently the LA Ship Team's working on the Hurricane, we're working on a redo of the Mustang, and we just finished up the first go at the Cyclone buggy.
MA: … We've got Mr. Daniel. He's known for saying, “Mark and I'm ... [whispers] Got to say your line. Got to say ...
Daniel Kamentsky (DK): … fired …
MA: … Yeah. Awww. [whispers] Daniel! Continuing on cause he doesn't want to do it and wanted to be cool. We've got the good old tech guys. We've got Mr. Patrick and we've got Mr. Matt …
Matt Intrieri (MI): I started here about four and a half years ago when there was just three ships – the Aurora, the Avenger and the Hornet, and I started off … we were working on the Connie. I helped with tools. I helped build what we called the RSI Toolbox. They involved the materials, the geometry, the special effects, the lights, everything that you could think of that is part of a ship I probably have written a tool to facilitate that process in the pipeline.
MA: … Continuing on we have the ghost right here. Well actually he's right over on that side – Mr. Kirk …
Kirk Tome (KT): The tech and design team in LA is responsible for ships and ship related systems. This includes things like interfacing with the ships as a player in the game, by sitting in the cockpit, how ships look and function, what kind of things you can do with a ship such as adding weapons on them, ship-to-ship combat, ship-to-ship interfacing such as docking, and other ship related systems as a … in respect to how you can actually fly the ships in the game.
MA: … We even got Mr. Calix over there too, so let them figure out some awesome stuff and we'll go implement it. Continuing on we got Mr. Hosmer – tech design as well. We got myself, Mr. Bugsmasher …
… And my responsibilities is basically look at the ship features and production line. Basically if a ship needs to fly, ship needs combat, ship needs to get destroyed, ship needs to do anything – I'm your guy...
… We have two more engineers. We got Max, and we got Patrick. They're here to assist on any of the vehicle feature sets that we have to do. Basically when I get work, I give it to them and they go off and do everything, and I get to go play games. [Shushes] Pretty fun. Well, hope you guys enjoyed, and not really one much for intros/outros as you saw in Bugsmashers, so see you in the verse.
[18:50] Back to Jared
JH: The journey through the ship pipeline is a marathon not a sprint, and depending on their size ships can take weeks or even months to bring to their full realization. As we check in throughout the year we'll follow a number of ships through the various stages of ship development, but in today's first episode of 2018 we're starting where all ships start – with an idea. Let's find out how ship ideas are born and where they come from in a little segment I like to call How Ship Ideas Are Born & Where They Come From.
[19:23] ATV Ship Shape: How Ship Ideas Are Born And Where They Come From
Chris Roberts (CR): It's a long process. It involves approximately 49 years of obsessively watching science fiction films and TV shows and reading a lot of science fiction novels, plus being a bit of a World War I and World War II enthusiast, and taking all of that and then coming up with various ideas for ships that have sort of been inspired by things that you've seen, things that you've read, things you know in the real world that fill in the various roles that we have in the game.
KT: So typically we get an idea of what ships that we need to implement in the game – usually from Chris.
DH: It can be anything from you know we have a function that we need or gameplay mechanic that we need in the universe, and we need ... and you know we need a ship that will do that salvage or mining or racing or courier or whatever.
Paul Jones (PJ): We have that discussion. It's normally pretty lively. Oh, let's do this. Let's do that. Let's you know. Let's have one of these. Let's have something with you know the size of a planet, or you know the size of a coffee cup. Whatever. I mean that's ridiculous, but you know it kind of that's the sort of spectrum that these things sort of cover.
CR: It's two-fold. One side is the design requirements, so like for instance we go okay well we need a ship that you can fight with or we need a ship you can mine with or we need a ship that you can carry cargo in and then … So that's sort of the logical game side of it and then there's the emotional side which is like if I'm thinking about what a ship ... if I think about a … say a cargo ship or a fast cargo ship well you know perhaps I'm thinking about Serenity or I'm thinking about the Millennium Falcon. Right, and so you have an emotional attachment to those, because you've seen them say on a film or TV show and it kinds of reminds you of that, and so we balance the combination of the practical needs that we want to fill in from the game requirements with the sense of an emotional attachment, so it's not just
a purely kind of cold pragmatic science. It involves evoking ships or aircraft from the past, from the present day or from fiction whether they're spaceships or real aircraft. I mean, so a fair amount of our combat ships are really evocative of say aircraft that would be from World War II or later, and/or potentially stuff you've seen on science fiction films or TV shows, and that's the overall kind of I guess idea boiling pot that they come from, and then we sit down and we talk about what the role we want to fill. Okay do we want … we need a single seat ship here. We need a medium ship, or a large or capital class ship and then what the role the ship's going to do, and then that's where we start to throw out these ideas.
PJ: Once that's been decided then it will go to the design team, so John Crewe, so basically him and his guys. They'll work up an initial brief.
John Crewe (JC): Generally we try and keep the ships. We know where they're going to get made at the end of the day based on the size of the ship. So, large ships tend to get made in the UK, smaller ships in LA. So, it's always better to have the designer that did the original concept in the same studio as the ship that's making it, so they can help guide it. So, that initially sort of dictates which studio gets given to, and then myself of Kirk will then further narrow it down to a designer who has perhaps show interest in doing that style of ship.
KT: So we've divvied up the work between the LA and UK studios as far as ship implementation is concerned regarding the tech design teams. Typically what we've done is we've divided them amongst the manufacturing lines. That works great. The design … the art style for the ships can fall within the different studio's team structure as well so the tech designer and artist can work hand-in-hand being right next to each other.
CR: And then we would sort of go from there and we'd decide okay well for this kind of ship for our portfolio of manufacturers what kind of … who do you think would do it? Which of the manufacturers are known for fast, or which manufacturer is known for cargo ships? Which manufacturer do we feel like we haven't overloaded on? I mean right now if you look at our ship lineup Aegis is over-indexing as far as our ship manufacturers, but we look at it and go okay yeah you know this … no yeah we'd like the Constellation's a great ship, but you know perhaps we want that sort of slightly more I wouldn't necessarily say style over substance, but there is a little bit of it that you get with Origin which is sort of that sense of a BMW or an Apple in terms of how it does it's elegant design. Well, let's have one of … a ship like that, that will be in the same area of the Constellation, because you know the Constellation is a really great ship. It works really well for a small group of friends to play together. In some ways I think it's kind of perfect, cause three/four friends playing together there's a pretty cool number and it can take a few more than that, and if you don't have that many it works pretty well with two or one even, so I think it's a great ship. We don't have enough ships in that, in that area so we say that's … and this is where the kind of three … the 600i came from. We talked about having an Origin competitor for quite awhile, but we felt like yes it was a good time to have that in the game, because yes we have lots of single-seater ships that do a variety of things although mostly combat, because that's some of the … that's one of the earliest game mechanics that we had working in the game, but we generally go through and we try to say okay well we need ships for these different areas and different classifications and different sizes so you can progress.
KT: So once we get the initial concept and the role from Chris, we decide where in the hierarchy of all the ships that particular ship lies, and then we figure out things like okay well it needs to be really combat capable or its role isn’t specifically suited to that, so maybe it’s a little bit lumbering, but has a lot of armour and a lot of health, or it’s, we can forego all that and say its main role is to travel from point A to point B really fast, foregoing safety because that’s that particular ship’s role. Once you make those decisions, you can start figuring out okay, what are the stats for this ship? And in that regard figure out what are the items that we need to be able to fulfill those particular features and functions that a ship that we design to fill a particular role would have.
JC: So we might have a ship that can carry X and has Y guns and so we’ll flip that around to create a sort of polar opposite one of it, or create artificial weaknesses or strengths to differentiate them. We have a lot of ships that are averagely good across the board, so we want to push ships that are significantly better in some aspects, but you don’t want those ships that are going to be clear favourites to go to, they need to have significant downside to them, so the people that just want the easy life, they can just pick nice easy ships that can just do it, and those that want to have a bit more engaging gameplay from it can pick those outlier ships that give that challenge.
DH: Well then it starts a bunch of questions. Alright, so we have blank type of ship that we need, how big does it need to be, is it a small ship, is it a singleplayer ship, is it multicrew, is it a capital ship, whatever, so a lot of discussions going around and around trying to hone in on exactly sort of what type of ship it is. And usually it sort of will come down to the higher ups in design and ultimately Chris getting presented with hey, here’s the type of ship that we want to make, what do you think, and then usually more feedback and notes and iterate iterate iterate and then finally they sort of hone in on okay, so here’s the ship as a design concept that we want to do, and then it gets passed on to art who begin concepting it and so they’re doing form language and shapes and usually narrative team will come in, usually about that time, because they’ll, if it hasn’t already been decided, then the question of who’s manufacturing the ship will come in because that will inform the art team as far as the design language that they use and stuff like that.
CR: The background, fiction we created for the United Empire of Earth and the setup of the Universe that we have of Star Citizen is essentially, not essentially it’s definitely riffing off and inspired by actual historical precedent. In the case of Star Citizen it’s the peak years of the Roman Empire and its decline, with the UEE standing in for the Roman Empire, and the Vanduul standing in for the Visigoths, and the Vanduul, the Xian standing in for the Ottoman Empire and the far east aspects, and the Banu for kind of North Africa, middle-east, Barbary coast, and in some ways I feel like you connect better, it feels more real to you, if you can sense a portion of it that connects to something that you know, whether like I said it’s that you’ve seen in fiction over the years, reading books or watching movies or TV, or you know in real-life, like you know a B17 fortress bomber or something like that. And so that’s the overall sort of big picture of how we kind of come up with the idea, and then once we’ve sort of honed it in, various folks throw in their sort of ideas into the hat, so depending on Kirk, or John Crewe or Todd or Tony or Ben Lesnick did a lot of this especially in the early days, saying how about this ship or how about this ship or how about this ship, and there’d be a whole list of it, and ultimately I would sort of look at it and go, okay, yeah this one feels pretty good to me, or let's do this one, or I go how about this one but I want it to be like this, or how about we do something or sometimes it would be my idea that would get thrown into the hat, but we would sort of shape it that way, and then once we’d decided on that, then we’d go out to start to concept it.
Paul Jones (PJ): Figuring out who works on what ship, I guess it depends on whether it’s internal or external. Their experience depends on what we throw at them basically, it depends on the risk factor. So there’s lots of things that factor into all these things, so it’s, you know, if it’s something that’s an established manufacturer and we’re totally clear on what it is and it’s not wild and wacky, it’s a safer bet basically, so we may give that to a mid-level, may even give it to a junior because it’s relatively manageable. Not only do I want to get good results and get the project and Chris what he wants, I want to make sure that the artist is comfortable. They start to grow in their skills, and then yeah, they could go alright, yeah, I’ve done that, I can now move onto something bigger, badder, wilder. With the more senior guys, generally they're more sort of fire and forget.
CR: Whoever the concept artist, we have quite a lot of them in house now, originally we were working with quite a few people out of house who were great like Ryan Church, or Jim Martin, we still have a few like Gavin Rothery does a lot of our stuff, and he’s brilliant, but he’s UK based, he’s a sort of film conceptual designer as well as doing a lot of our stuff. Usually there’s a kind of swatch of sketches that are laid out and various different shape explorations, a lot of times very basic, and we use that to hone in on the shape that we want, and sometimes it’s a bit of a struggle because you’re kind of balancing this, something that feels familiar that people go, yeah yeah I totally get that, and then also sometimes you go well, we don’t want to always go for the obvious call for this, and we want to have something that feels different, and so you try to sort of balance the two of them, and the other thing is you also need to keep your identity of the manufacturer there, so they need, you don’t want every ship to kind of be homogenous and look like it could come from any manufacturer and say that’s an Origin ship, or look at a RSI ship and say that’s an RSI ship.
PJ: Sometimes it’s, it falls to a manufacturer naturally, depending on what role it’s trying to fill.
JC: Sometimes when we come up with the design brief it screams out that it’s a certain manufacturer, like if you want a cheap and cheerful rugged thing, that’s usually Drake. Or if someone’s got an idea of how they want it to look before they really know what it’s going to do, that can again influence it in, military ships tend to be Anvil or Aegis.
As the concepts come through usually we’ll have one manufacturer they want it to be, but quite often that changes once the initial round of concepts come back and we go, actually that sort of looks better.
PJ: And it really just sort of comes down to that, and occasionally you’ll have a curveball where you’ll start off as one manufacturer and then we’ll switch over because it just makes more sense we did that for the, what did we do that for, I think it was the Terrapin. I think originally it was an Aegis, and then it just made more sense to go Anvil because of the sort of plating and just that sort of carapace that we had. It just felt more armoured and kind of worked more with a sort of, the sharp lines basically that we have going on for that manufacturer.
CR: Where Anvil has a fairly angular, a lot of its canopies are fairly angular, a lot of its intakes are sort of fairly angular, and it usually has a round dome, whether it’s a turret or a radar or something like that, in it. So you can look at an Anvil ship and say oh, that’s an Anvil ship, whereas you could look at an Origin ship and go, that’s sort of very elegant and sleek lines, clean, really nice high-grade materials, and you definitely can see the difference between those two manufacturers, so we have to bake that into the conceptual stage, and I would say that the, a lot of times the difficulty is coming to a shape that you feel good with that people are going to emotionally respond to; you’re going to emotionally respond to, to go yeah yeah, I’d like, cause essentially in all this, if you, on picking the ships out, yes like I said there’s a certain amount of, design wants this thing, but almost all the time in terms of ship decisions, when I’m involved, and it’s about would I think that’s cool. Do I want to fly that ship.
I think that’s kind of why, on the game side, my games in general have connected is because I view it as me, what I want to do, and what I play, and my tastes, I think align a lot with everyone that’s backed this game and also general gamers out there. So that’s how I view it is like, yeah, would I be proud to own that? Would I think that’s cool? And of course I recognize that not everyone wants a mining ship, or not everyone wants a combat ship, but that’s, there has to be that sort of emotional kind of ‘wow’ factor that comes in, the cool factor that comes into a ship, and if you can’t get that in in the very early stages, that’s when you’re sort of having issues with the ship, so I, in the early stages that’s kind of what I, that’s the big thing, when i’m looking at it as it’s developing and usually Paul Jones is giving me progress updates on the ships, I’m seeing the sketches, how it’s developing, and when we’re doing that that’s where I’m spending my time going okay, this is moving in the right direction, this is cool, or can we get back, or I feel like I don’t know, whatever the engine nacelles look a bit goofy right now.
PJ: And sometimes we’ll go in a direction that we, or it’ll be pushed in a direction that we think, this is what we’re after, and it will go to Chris, and we’re like no, no no no no, it's not this, it’s this, and it’s just, theoretically, hopefully most of the time it's just a course correction. Sometimes we’ve had to complete 180’s where we’ve just got it wrong. But those are quite rare, and literally just about communication isn’t it, it’s about trying to get it in front to Chris and him having the time, basically, cause everybody knows what Chris is like. He’s got his finger on the pulse on everything, so it’s just about squeezing in and saying, just, look at this look at this please, we’ve got to, we’re about to start work on this so let’s, can we have a sign-off?
JC: There’s little changes that come on as, once you see it go from a 2D bit of art on-screen to something in-game, you always find those little bits that, oh, I didn’t notice that from there, or from the 2D thing, that looked like it was a 45 degree angle and it should be something extra, so we’re always going over things.
PJ: And then that’s it, I mean, Todd’s happy with it, Tony Z’s happy with it, Chris is happy with it.
CR: Getting to realize my child and adulthood fantasies live in a game, because the level of detail that we build these, they just feel very real and visceral, and so, one of the funnest things with Star Citizen is there’s so many things, I really like this, and I’d like to be flying that kind of, like watching a movie, I’d like to fly that ship, or I want to be so cool to be in the cockpit of that, and I sort of feel like the primal appeal of Star Citizen is very much that, it’s living that fantasy or that dream that you had as a kid reading novels or watching, as a teen, and even as an adult, and in a very real way, cause it’s so, we do everything. You’ve got beds, you’ve got toilets, you’ve got dining tables, it’s… it feels real, even though it’s virtual, so getting to sort of create that out of thin air and put it into the game and have people fly and enjoy the ships is awesome.
[39:09] Back to Jared and Ship Updates
JH: Throughout the year we'll continue to explore each stage of the ship pipeline in more detail, but now let's go ahead and get to the part I know many of you citizens have been waiting for - the ship updates.
In Aegis ship news, the Avenger rework - which we highlighted last month - has had its work completed by the Squadron 42 ship team and has now moved back over to the Persistent Universe ship team to complete all the specific needs for use in the Star Citizen Persistent Universe. On the pipeline it falls in the final modeling and surface tweak stage and work on all of the variants has already begun.
Meanwhile, the Eclipse has stealthily worked its way through the grey box and saddled up right next to the Avenger in the final art phase. Now, who will make it to the Persistent Universe first? Stay tuned to future episodes to find out!
The Hammerhead introduced in concept during last year's anniversary show is in full production and has arrived at the ‘kitbashing of remaining interior’ stage. Now, kitbashing areas from the similarly themed Idris will certainly speed things up but there are still a number of unique areas that need to be created from scratch and team members are already readying to start their work on the exterior damage set up.
Joining the Avenger and the Idris in the final modelling and surface tweak stage, we've got the Mustang Alpha and the Origin 600i powering their way through the pipeline. Now, of all the stages of the pipeline this one can be one of the most time-consuming but it's still thrilling to see all of the progress the team has made in refining the overall production of these ships and that's what's allowing them to move from concept to reality faster than ever before.
A little farther back on the pipeline we find the Anvil Hurricane in grey box surfacing and the Vanduul Blade in the grey box modeling stage.
The Constellation Phoenix which has now completed white box phase has moved into grey box to join the Blade in the modeling stage.
Still in white box we have the F8 Lightning, one of the most mysterious vehicles in Star Citizen's lexicon of spaceships, it has entered the white box final approval phase and you know what? I feel like we're gonna need a big segment on this ship in the coming months - don't worry, I'm on it.
Finally, moving back to the future - the Razor, the Terrapin, the Reclaimer, and the Cyclone have all jumped to the head of the pack into the flight prep phase. That means that they’re ship art complete and now the tech art team needs to hook up all of the damaged states, the tech design team needs to make it flyable, and then FX and audio can begin to do their work. The Razor - come to think about it, in all those eighteen ships that we covered in the last seven weeks, we haven’t checked in on the team working on the Razor have we? Let's go ahead and do that now.
[41:48] ATV Ship Shape: MISC Razor
PJ: The MISC Razor was - it's a dedicated race ship basically by MISC company. Part of the lore is that MISC has done a deal with Xi’an and they're sort of using their technology, so this ship is very much a hybrid of the two styles. It's not overtly MISC - you know, because we're used to seeing the sort of large round curvaceous shapes on the MISC ships. This is more like as if we'd pushed it in more of a Xi’an style basically. Myself and concept artists, we've worked on the ship for quite a while and obviously got it to its final form that people saw in the concept sale and then it goes over to art production team and so, you know, through the weeks and the months that go by - generally just walking past or sort of looking and just having a nose around to just sort of see what the guys are working on and as far as I know Joe has been working on it.
JN: So the inspiration for the art and design behind the Razor is primarily Formula One racing cars but also there’s elements of sports cars and hyper cars in there too. I was also looking at Nathan Dearsley's MP4-X which is his McLaren racing car which is quite cool to look at when I was doing that.
Corentin Billemont(CB): The MISC Razor is basically similar to the Origin M50 so it's mostly a racing ship but it still has some basic weapons to defend itself. If the M50 is basically a very good rally car, the Razor is like a Formula One or something like that so it would be maybe a bit faster in straight lines but the M50 is a bit more maneuverable.
JN: The Razor changed quite a bit whilst I was making it and that's primarily because the
animation metrics were incorrect. It was a bit too wide when we first made it so we had to make a little bit slimmer so the person entering the ship could actually put his feet and hands on the hull in the correct places. Before, he was walking through the hull of the ship so when he opened the cockpit canopy he just clipped through the ship and that would look a little bit strange. The ship is a lot more sleek now, a lot more streamlined. I think it has improved as a result. It’s a lot more elegant now as a result of the changes.
CB: The Razor is basically using mostly the same human animations as the M50, so you get out from the side and you get in the same way in the cockpit whether it's in gravity or in EVA. In terms of animation this is a bit different as well because the cockpit is opening like in three different pieces, so this is really interesting like there's no other ship having a cockpit opening this way but this is pretty straightforward, this is not like a very complicated ship but this still has new features that other ships don't have right now.
JN: Also the the initial concept for the canopy had the canopy opening up and down like an airplane canopy which is little bit of a simple animation. I was quite keen to try and bring some more interesting animations into the ship so what we have now is that the canopy itself is made of four pieces which all slide away into the hull, so it will retract so when you actually get inside the ship it closes around you and kind of encompasses you in the ship and so it's a lot more interesting visually. Maybe not so much for the player, but at least the players looking at the ship from a distance, they can see that the ship almost transforms when you get inside it. Just a bit more exciting, has more energy behind it. So that was quite cool.
CB: In tech design basically well it has been, as usual working with all the different departments to make the ship fly and being sure that everything works properly and then talk with other designers to see in terms of parameters how it should fit in its hole but still not be too good on one way or too bad on the other way. Outside of that, it's basically the same as other ships I wasn't really on the design part of it but I've been helping to direct it in the right direction to be sure that it is as it was intended in the first place.
PJ: We only have a limited amount of time to get to our final product and there's always sort of areas that are a bit loosey-goosey not fully defined but the idea is that we'll give the art team a direction so they sort of know where they need to head and as far as I'm concerned, it leaves the art team with enough creative freedom still to sort of embellish it to really work up areas. The cockpits, how the cockpit opens, we may have created a few problem areas along the way that will need refining and figuring out.
JN: The cockpit of the Razor is supposed to feel a little bit comfortable. It has been designed to feel more luxurious and than it used to be. Originally it was a lot of bare metal surfaces, a lot of quite hard angles. It didn't look comfortable to be in whereas I was quite keen to - when I was given the brief of this luxury element, to breathe more more luxury back into it. So when I was looking at Lamborghini interiors, even though it's a powerful supercar it still has a very distinct feel to it but it also looks like it's comfortable inside. Maybe when you get into it it's a little bit low, but I think when you're sitting in there and you feel encompassed by it feels generally quite comfortable.
So, I wanted to kind of have a nod to that within the Razor so the actual seat itself is quite ergonomic, it encompasses you quite nicely. The joystick and the throttle have armrests by them. The surfaces within the cockpit itself have quite soft edges to them, so it doesn't feel like if you touch the surfaces of the ship it wouldn't feel uncomfortable to touch, you should have quite a nice soft plush feel to it and should feel quite matte and just nice to be in. I think if you haven't got that, it doesn’t really feel luxurious; it feels more like a military machine and I was quite keen to avoid that.
PJ: You know, when you look at the ship it's very much a sort of ship of two parts. You've got your main sort of monocoque body, very sort of F1 styling, again the large curvature basically that we're used to seeing but rather than being convex most of them are sort of concave, especially on the front, and then you have this dark material almost looks a bit like carbon fibre that's really on the main front splitter and on the rear wing as well and that's basically a composite material that was developed. Basically the way it works is that it enables the racer to collect extra hydrogen while in flight so it gives the ship an extra boost of speed. So. basically the ship should theoretically go faster than the others - I mean that's the hope right?
JN: I think the MISC Razor is an interesting one because it doesn't adhere to the general design ethos behind the MISC lineup. I think it's pretty much the antithesis of what MISC has made so far. It was an interesting challenge. It was one of the more complicated things that I’ve built to date purely because the hull was so curvy and sleek and trying to maintain the flow of those curves across the entire ship is very hard to balance. With some of the more boxy ships, they're a lot more forgiving with how you model them you know you can have things kind of crashing into various elements and you can hide stuff away quite easily but with this, because it is such a formed shape, it becomes very difficult to make the flows look smooth all the way around. One the problems we face generally is smoothing issues so when the light catches a sleek surface, for example, if the smoothing and the topology isn't all correct you can end up with this quite nasty triangulation which is quite hard to avoid so we had to build this thing using a sub-divisional workflow and then you kind of go back and retopologize it - like strip it out, clean it up numerous times and kind of make the hull in iterations. It was a lot of back and forth - you make a bit, see if it works, make a bit more, hope it works and it doesn't work so you have to go back and remodel it again and then go over it again and again and say ten different versions down the line then you finally end up with this really nice formed curved shape. Up until that point it becomes, you know, I think until the end it's quite easy to be a little bit disillusioned by it and look at it and think it's not it's not working and then suddenly with the last ten percent of the production schedule it comes together and it looks okay and you’re quite proud of it at the end but I think at first I was quite daunted by the prospect of making this ship and I just hope that the fans are happy with it and it delivers their vision of a racing ship too.
CB: It's looking great. It's looking in some ways even better than the concept art. This is a ship that turned out really well. This is interesting because it has been a long time that we didn't do such a small ship as well. It's a really slick ship - in terms of MISC as well this is kind of a new ship where previous MISC ships were a bit more industrial whereas this one is really a racing ship so it's very sleek and the cockpit is different from the usual MISC ship. It's a bit more modern as well so it's really interesting for the manufacturer.
PJ: So the principal focus of the Razor is basically the Murray Cup race. I think there are two other ships that are specific for racing, so this is our third to the series. I think Joe has done an excellent job on his on the model of it and I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like actually in-game.
JH: With that, this episode of Ship Shape comes to a close. We'll be right back here through the rest of the new year with more ships, more ship updates, more pipeline features, and more of anything that makes the ships in Star Citizen everything they can be. For Ship Shape, I'm Community Content Manager Jared Huckaby - back to you Chris and Sean.
ST: The Razor’s sure to become a fan favourite of all our Murray Cup racers out there.
CR: Yeah, no it’s cool, very cool, ship …
ST: It’s awesome.
CR: … it’s very much like an F1 McLaren car. And we have quite a few other ships coming online for 2018 as well as new concepts making their way through the pipeline. So it’s going to be an exciting year for Ship Shape.
ST: Definitely. And Jared will be back in the coming months with additional installments. And remember to tune in tomorrow at noon PST for another episode of Reverse the Verse. This week’s guest is composer Geoff Zanelli.
CR: Yeah, and that’s going to be fun: Geoff’s a great guy. I first worked with him back on …
CR: … the movie Outlander which has this really fun B sci-fi movie. And Geoff has scored countless films - most recently the Pirates of the Caribbean film - television shows, and games. And he’s been doing some really great work on Squadron 42. You got a taste of his music in the Vertical Slice which we showed in the Holiday Livestream and I’m sure he’ll have a lot to say about scoring Squadron so far.
ST: And speaking of Squadron 42, next week Around the Verse will feature our monthly update on its development. So remember to tune back in on January 25th and check out the Squadron 42 page on our website where you can still enlist to receive monthly updates.
CR: Yes please do that. That’s all for us today and don’t forget to check out the season premier of Bugsmashers - if you missed it - as well as the first episode of Calling All Devs that premiered earlier this week. You can find new episodes each and every Monday at noon PST.
ST: Yeah and thanks as always to our Subscribers for sponsoring all of our shows. And to all our Backers for making the development of Star Citizen and Squadron 42 possible.
CR: Yeah, thank you very much guys. So until next week we’ll see you …
Both: Around the ‘verse! And we’re Ron Burgundy?