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!
Anvil Terrapin scheduled to release in Alpha 3.1
114 ships and their variants introduced thus far in the development of the game in numerous roles
First concept of 2018 is a multiprofessional “jack-of-all-trades” starter ship called the Aegis Vulcan covering refueling, repairing and rearming
The Aegis Vulcan gives just enough support to get those helped back on their way
It's a three person ship with four drones and two drone stations
Only two drones can be operated at a time, and a drone can only perform one function at a time
Extra drones serve as redundancies
The Vulcan has basic living accommodations as well as a small cargohold and an extended fuel tank
Drone mechanics will be similar to those on Cry-Astro stations
The Vulcan is industrially designed and styled with rear tailgate access and an elevator; basically a baby reclaimer in style
After 80 iterations, there are three liveries done for the ship
This ship allows one a taste of the support professions before investing and possibly wasting lots of time and energy in a full time profession
Terrapin is the first exploration specialisation ships: to go into the unknown and surviving!
It's relatively modest and unimposing: advantageous as when someone sees you they know your not there to pick a fight.
The current thruster system hasn't implemented heat yet: overheating will make thrusters a lot less reliable and introduce errors.
Maneuvering thrusters are for instantaneous thrust. Sustained thrust thrusters (like the Terrapin's VTOLs) are required for hovering in atmosphere.
Terrapin is the first major walkable Anvil interior and defines the look: hexagons and 30 degree angles everywhere!
Anvil has lots of analogue controls: sleeker than Drake but still bulky and militaristic.
The scanner array chair rotates and the control panel now doubles as a safety harness.
Terrapin will break into three main parts: nose, body and tail. Doors, thrusters and weapons also break off.
Art is looking real good, effect good but need a couple tweeks, damage system is being implemented.
Calix is very happy about implementing a light switch that correctly integrates with power, light groups and the Interaction system.
Sandi Gardiner(SG): Hello and welcome to another episode of Around the Verse, I’m Sandi Gardiner.
Chris Roberts(CR): And I’m Chris Roberts..
SG: This week Jared Huckaby brings us inside looks at two very different ships in February’s installment of Ship Shape.
CR: Yeah, that’s right. Ships are obviously a huge part of the Star Citizen experience and we’re very excited to use this segment to introduce our first new concept ship for 2018.
SG: Let’s check in with Jared now.
Jared Huckaby (JH): Greetings citizens and welcome to another episode of the brand new Ship Shape, where we take a quick look at what's in the ship pipeline, who's working on what, bring you interviews with the developers and sometimes, just sometimes, we get to reveal something brand new coming to Star Citizen that I think you're going to enjoy quite a bit. I'm your host, Content Manager Jared Huckaby. Behind me, you see that ship pipeline I just mentioned, the ever evolving continuously expanding network of phases and milestones that each ship or vehicle much reach before they can make their way into their way into your personal hangars or the spaceports of the Persistent Universe. Whether it's from Design to Concept, from White Box to Grey Box to Final Art and Flight Prep, this is the system we've built up over the course of our development to ensure you the best possible spaceship or vehicle for your Star Citizen experience.
On this month's show we're going to update on a variety of ships that are currently working their way through the pipeline, and then sit down with the team in our Los Angeles studio who are currently on the Anvil Terrapin scheduled for release in Alpha 3.1, but before we get to that we'd like to introduce something that's just beginning its journey through the ship pipeline, our first concept of 2018. Since our project began we've introduced 114 ships and vehicles and their variants that span a wide array of roles and intentions like combat, transport, exploration, industrial, support and competition. Now this variety is an essential component to creating that living, breathing universe that we all aspired to, and a variety of professions specific ships will be necessary to populate the space-ways. Ships like the MISC Starfarer bring with it the promise of refueling services to the far reaches of the verse, and with a vessel like the Anvil Crucible a career rescuing disabled ships and helping them in their repair will bring support when folks can't make the long trip home on their own.
With these two and many others like them profession ships will form the backbone of much of Star Citizen's emergent gameplay in 2018 and beyond, but the Starfarer and Crucible are intermediate to advance profession ships, right? So, what do we do about those of us who we're just starting out our journeyman careers. Well, fret not my friends. Our first ship of 2018 will have you covered and in more ways than one. So which is it, refueling or repairing. Well the fine folks at Aegis Dynamics say, “Why not both?” Let's throw in some rearming to boot. Yes, without further ado let's sit down with some of the team working in our Manchester studio to bring Star Citizen's first multiprofession starter ship to life with the Aegis Vulcan.
Ship Shape: Aegis Vulcan
John Crewe (JC): So the Aegis Vulcan is a sort of starting ship for a bunch of professions that we already have in game, but we only sort of have the endgame ships for people to use, so if you are interested in refueling or repairing you've got the Starfarer and the Crucible. So those are pretty big ships to sort of jump in at if you want to go, “Oh today I want to some repairing of ships.” You're looking at these huge ships that have substantial crew requirements and time requirements to get. If you jump into those and find, “Well actually I don't like this”, then it's a huge time investment waste on that, so the Vulcan is sort of the jack-of-all-trades starter ship for those professions. It's ... does repairing, does refueling and it does rearming, which is something we don't have in any ship currently. It's a versatile support ship. It's there to support other ships. It's not great at combat. It's not great at transport. It's not great at racing. It's there for helping out with other ships. So if you're that sort of person that is interested in the not more active combat side but helping others, then this is a really great entry into that, because it does allow you to help out massively for ships that run out of fuel, ships that have minor damage, ships that run out of ammo and any of these ships could be stuck out in deep space. They can call for your help, and you can go out there and give them just enough to get them where they need to go to. It's sort of like the space AA or AAA for America. You call them up. They give you just enough to get to where you're going, and then you can do your full repairs, rearm, refuel there.
So the mechanic for doing the repairing, refueling, rearming is by its drones. So it has four drones that are sort of contained within the body of the ship and then it can launch them out. These drones can … they can do all three actions, but they can only do one at a time before they have to go back to the mothership to change function to take on new supplies. So, whilst you've got four and they can do everything; they can't do it all together. So you can't have four out fixing everything at a time. There are only two stations to control the drones. So again it's sort of keeps tabs on what it can do. It's a three person ship, so you've got one person flying and two support stations which would be either controlling the turrets or controlling the drones. So naturally if you're in a sort of hostile environment you may not want to have everybody controlling the drones and leaving yourself defenseless. So you have to sort of trade off your defensive capabilities with your support capabilities. So we see probably two drones at a time going out at any one time doing one or two of those three features and the extra two are just there for if you want to quickly change what you're doing. They're all stocked in the ship ready to go. You can send them out. Naturally the drones will either stay where you left them or continue on an AI behavior, or if you're out for an extended duration of time you're probably going to start losing these drones. They might get damaged. You might be careless flying them around anyway if you are trying to repair a ship you might actually bang it into it and destroy the drone. So, we felt that if you only had two, you could only use two at a time, and one gets destroyed that's quite a harsh penalty. You sort of lost 50 percent of your ability to do anything off the bat. We've got those extra two as sort of redundancies and allows you to just stay out that bit longer. There's crew quarters in there, so it's not a … I've got a mission to go do this item. I got to go there, come back, because I can't survive out in space. You've got your crew beds, your basic living quarters, basic accommodations. So we see people spending significant amounts of time out on these missions using up their drones, using up their supplies. There's a very small cargohold to keep supplies in there which feeds into the drones if it's … if you're carting ammo around you're not physically carrying ammo boxes around, they go into the drones. The drones do it. There's an extended fuel tank under the body of the ship which is where the fuel that you're piping to these ships come from and then the repair … the drones themselves do the repair much like we have in the PU at the moment with the little drones on the Cry-Astro stations where land and they come out and repair you. It's very similar style to that.
Paul Jones (PJ): So there's a … there's a small crew on this ship. Three people, pilot and then two support staff basically, and they'll you know they can basically either control the guns or the drones basically so. I guess. I don't know if you'll have to fight it out over who does what or if they can you know both you know I guess you know you've got two drones on either side of the ship, so I guess possibly one guy could do two on one side and two on another, and send them off to do their thing.
So the ship is … the way it works is entry is from the rear of the ship. So you know you've got a big tailgate that sort of opens up, and that gives you access to the cargo area, and I think it's 12 SCUs that it can hold, and then there's this small elevator that takes you up. It's almost like a mezzanine, and then it takes you to the living quarters. Some basic habitation at the rear of the craft, so a couple of baths, the obligatory toilet and shower, food station, little table. You know it's very much … it's in the … it has same sort of style as it's basically the industrial Aegis essentially, and so that feeds through the whole of the ship. So there is a lot of … you've taken a lot of what the Art Team have done when they've been making the Reclaimer and we've pulled that in and used that with and used it as sort of a not a template but just helped to define the style of the interior.
There's three liveries basically that we've done for the ship. One's more military based. That's one we sort of focused on initially just to get the ship through the pipeline, and then after that it was then we had a little time to then sort of focus on the alternatives. You know sometimes the ship sort of fight you back and you have to sometimes you just have to … you know you're like up to 80 iterations before you hit on the shape, before you go to 3D. That does sound a lot and sometimes that's just the way it is. So on this one it was a pretty strong start and like I said it is stylistically the baby Reclaimer, and just by its very nature of what it does, the functionality that needs to be in the ship, it … well it … I won't say it designs itself, but you know it's close to it. There's a logical root that you want to take, and so, but even still even though it's relatively small ship there's still a lot of interest in the spaces, but yeah, I like it. I think it's got a good feel, so I'm looking forward to when this one gets built.
JC: This gives you that taste of those careers, and see whether you actually enjoy doing it whether you feel it's got an ingame money making opportunity enough that you want to do it full term … for full time as a profession. It's not for everyone, but lots of people just love that support gameplay and this is really a ship for that.
Back To Jared
JH: Refueling, repairing, and rearming - and with a collection of skins to do so in style - the Aegis Vulcan is our first concept addition to Star Citizen for 2018 and will be available to all backers for an extended pledge period that begins on February 22nd and runs through the remainder of March. So, every backer will have a chance to attain what could be Star Citizen's most versatile starter ship yet and well, I mean, I can tell you I'm gonna be picking up mine to be certain
Now, if only Vulcan owners could have a special salute to greet others with - *thumbs up* - this will work.
Now farther along than the Vulcan we have a number of ships working their way through the pipeline on their journey to release into the Star Citizen universe.
To get us started this month - the Constellation Phoenix - which has now entered grey box phase at the high poly modeling stage is currently having its exterior and interior fleshed out, the geo refined, tweaks made to the lighting, and the incorporation of all of the most important features like fish tanks, wall screens, a bar area, and of course the hot tub.
The Anvil Hurricane is close to wrapping up grey box on the art side and will soon be passed over to the tech design team for their work on the tech setup.
Also in grey box is the Aegis Hammerhead where progress continues on the interior with a focus on the nose and the main corridor layout utilizing Idris parts. Now, it's not all just idris hand-me-downs for this ship, there are new modular pieces bespoke to the Hammerhead that are being built as part of this process such as the specialized lifts and the signature turrets specific to this design that must be included.
In rework news, the Consolidated Outland Mustang update is also in grey box with the art team while the tech design team is preparing for another white box review.
Moving ahead to final art, we find the Avenger rework where a new EMP room for the Warlock has been through several revisions and is close to completion, as is the new landing gear that had to get scaled up because, well, the ship hull got scaled up as well so you know how that goes.
Finally, in the fight prep phase we have four ships that are currently nearing the finish line for their intended release in the upcoming Alpha 3.1: the MISC Razor, the Aegis Reclaimer, the Tumbril Cyclone, and of course the Anvil Terrapin.
For the ship animation team, each vehicle presents its own variety of unique challenges. For instance, the Aegis Reclaimer has a very sophisticated landing and VTOL system requiring unique rigging and technical setup - some of which you may have seen on this week's Calling All Devs in a sneak peak offered by our own Matthew Intrieri.
The audio team has been supporting the SFX requirements for ships like the Misc Razer and the Tumbril Cyclone for those including thrusters, mechanical elements, ambience and the UI.
The Anvil Terrapin is the very first ship of the year to go through the VFX treatment - working on effects like thrusters, damage, and a death mask that's using some new debris assets that have never actually been seen before.
All of these teams from around the world are working to bring these four ships across the finish line in time for our intended quarter 1 release of Alpha 3.1 but before we let you go, we're gonna check in with some of the team currently working in our Los Angeles studio on the little turtle that could, the Anvil Terrapin.
Ship Shape: Anvil Terrapin
Calix Reneau (CRu): The Anvil Terrapin is your first step into the exploration specialisation of ships. Of going out into the unknown and surviving it. The Terrapin is built to be very, very durable over most other things. It’s not really for combat. It’s not for cargo. It’s for finding things. For exploring, seeing what’s out there and living to tell about it.
As the … As that first leg into exploration, the Terrapin is a relatively modest ship. It’s not too imposing. Which I actually consider one of its strengths: it gets to go into uncharted territory and if it comes across someone else who’s also exploring or come aliens or natives it is not this imposing warship. It’s there to see what’s there to find. It’s got a scanner array and it’s got heavy armour but aside from that it’s … it doesn’t really have any offensive focus. So if someone sees you they know that you’re not here to pick a fight.
In the current iteration of the flight system everything is kind of the same in that the thrusters that you have ... they have different uses and so will allow this thruster to contribute a certain amount thrust and not that thruster because they’re specified for different uses. But the reason they are specified for different uses is still being implemented.
And part of that is the heat factor which we don’t currently take into account with our thrusters. We have it in a lot of our other systems but we’re still getting everything built out. And when thrusters overheat they’ll start to have error. And they’ll start to have … give you less thrust than you expected. Or in … give some of that thrust in directions that weren’t intended. And so that’s going to make your thruster systems a lot less reliable once they start to overheat.
Your maneuvering thrusters are designed for instantaneous thrust: high output, immediate action, and then hopefully - because you’re in space - not needing to follow it up. Maybe follow it up with a different action on some different set of thrusters that’ll allow you to counteract that motion or augment it into some other, more advanced, maneuver. That’s fine in space because you get to carry that momentum. When you’re in atmosphere - when you’re under the influence of gravity - you have a constant force to negate in order to stay up in the air. And maneuvering thrusters aren’t meant to be able to take that kind of load. Not indefinitely. For a couple of seconds is fine but in order to really just hover in the air you want to have VTOLs. You want to have sustained thrusters … or sustained thrust thrusters.
So the Terrapin will be able to point its mains down and be able to stay up indefinitely and avoid overheating as long as you don’t do anything too crazy.
Daniel Kamentsky (DK): So my job on the Terrapin was building out the interior which was pretty difficult considering that a lot of the concept art we had for it had to be changed to match the new Anvil style guide. So I got to really hone in on what Anvil interiors look like. It’s the first major walkable Anvil interior that we have.
The original didn’t really have a distinct look. A lot of our manufacturers … if you look at Origin they’ve got a lot of big, bubbly shapes that are reminiscent of soviet aircraft. The Anvil has lot of exterior shapes that are very recognisable - everyone knows that Anvil dome and the big angular shapes - so when we wanted to go to the interior we were looking a lot at the angles and we came up with this idea this hexagon pattern. Like that. And then have the floor plane which is lifted up inside of that. So a lot of the stuff that makes Anvil interiors unique and exteriors is like 30 degree angles everywhere, hexagons everywhere. It’s made to look like Star Wars meets Aliens.
Some of the things I had to create for the Anvil interior were component boxes. I had to design out the dashboard - which is really fun because Anvil has a lot of analogue controls - it’s still a little bit more sleek than Drake but it was … it feels very bulky and militaristic. I’m really proud of that joystick that I made: it’s actually designed off of a Warthog joystick.
Inside the Terrapin you’ve got the scanner array, the chair … the chair that rotates - the support chair - I did a lot of the initial work on it but it really came together when Elwin got his hands on it and took it that extra couple of steps. It’s a really cool chair. We had to completely redesign the control panel that comes down ’cause originally it was just in front of you and it would fold up but we couldn’t get it to look right. So we ended up having it come down over you and act also as almost a seatbelt.
Patrick Salerno (PS): When I first get my hands on the Terrapin it’s just come hot off the artist’s plate. So what I do is I look at the damage plan for it and I try and figure out where it needs to break apart. And how I need to set it up and make sure it works.
So for the Terrapin in particular when I was looking at the damage plan I realised that it has a pretty unified shape. So I had to look for a lot of dangly bits to break off. Luckily it has the four thrusters, it has some panels, control consoles. The door can break apart. The nose tears apart from the body which rips apart from the tail. In each of those chunks there’s the vis areas so I need to make sure that when the nose and the tail rip apart the pieces stay - things disappear. Yeah and all the damage has all it’s LODs. Making sure that every piece that breaks off also decreases in quality as it goes away from the camera. So making sure that the Terrapin, for example, has mounted weapons and those weapons fly off with the correct parts.
Just going through all the checks and balances of the ship. Can I walk in and press the button to turn the ship on? Okay great. Can I walk in have a seat in the seat? Does the character’s hands look okay? Do I have to send it back to Animation? I’m just taking a look at the Terrapin and just the … from the player’s standpoint/perspective of I plop in game. I walk up to the ship. Press the button. Door opens. Go into the ship. Look at the passenger seat. Hop in the back under the radar dome there’s a player seat. In the front of the ship there’s a seat. So you’re just going around makings sure all the functionality’s there that Design has put in. Making sure all the parts that Design has put in are loading in.
Just general feature checks and everything. And the Terrapin is looking so far so good. The art’s looking really nice on the damage sides: got lots of nice details under the surface. And the effects are looking good too: still needs a few tweaks here and there. The overall damage system isn’t done yet: we’ve been implementing, I don’t want to say necessarily a new tech - it’s the Item 2.0 thing that everyone’s been hearing about for a while - but basically we’re converting a lot of items to Item 2.0. What that means is basically they existed as one form and now exist as another form. But a weapon’s a weapon, a thruster’s a thruster.
But when it comes from the TechArt standpoint when I’m doing the damage setup for the Terrapin it’s got, say, five or six parts. It’s got the body - which is the whole ship - and it’s got attachments that load in separately like the thrusters and the radar dome and the door. All those need to be “stitched” separately into a UV2 sheet. So I talk with Art and I talk with Design and I find out what parts are going to be this way and what parts are going to be pulled in that way. And then I go in and make sure that everything is working together. But so far Art’s done a bunch of changes I requested recently and the model’s looking much better from a damage standpoint. Functionality standpoint: still work in progress but otherwise the Terrapin is looking really good.
So the changes I in particular requested for the damage system … since I first get the ship and when get it nothing breaks off. It’s just like shoot the ship and nothing happens. So the artist doesn’t necessarily see what it’s going to like like at the end until I’ve done my initial pass. So I went in. I shot up the Terrapin and I blew off each part. And I’m like “Okay, well when the thruster leg detaches from the body what kind of metal and wire and stuff are sticking out of the hole? Does it look too flush?“ That was my first thing: it looked like an empty cavity and I’m like “Hey could you just add some more stuff here?” Because if a modeller adds, say, wires or pipes or tubes my initial particle pass is going to be like “Oh, what cool damage stuff did the guy add? Did he add wires?” Add some sparks there. “Did he add some tubes?” Well maybe there’s some gas venting out of there. So the artist helps me define what the initial prep is going to look like. And my initial prep helps the final guys do the polish. So once I had the ship breaking apart to its three main pieces I could say “Well, the body doesn’t detach from the nose well enough - it looks a little too flush - could you add a little more randomness to break up the silhouette against the light?” Stuff like that.
And then after a few days of revision I got it back and I’m just keeping on going. It’s just back and forth with revisions. So usually when I’m not working on one part of the Terrapin - because I’ve either finished it or requested changes - I’m working on another part. I can always jump around. It’s not like I’m just doing art or just doing design: I do a lot of checks. I check the shields on the Terrapin make sure that works. UV2s on the Terrapin. General functionality like controls, seats, animations, destruction, lighting: you name it. If it’s part of the ship I have to check and make sure it works before I can sign off.
CRu: Of course there’s no promises with this. We’re still exploring this. We’re still building it out. And we won’t really know if it works this way or delivers the behaviours that we’re hoping for until we actually see it in game. It just gets really exciting when you see something line up the way that like “Hmm, you know I bet we could do something with that!” So we’ll see how that goes.
Among other interesting things about this ship is I got to setup ... it sounds dumb but it makes me really happy that I got to set up a lightswitch in the Terrapin that’s correctly integrating with our power system - and correctly integrates with our light groups - to set it from the “on” to the “auxiliary” behaviour. And it uses the new Interaction system.
And it’s … it’s a simple thing but it makes me so happy to have something so simple in game and reacting the way you’d expect it to. When the ship loses power those lights go off and that light switch doesn’t help. When the ship is in emergency mode you can turn the lights off but the emergency lights aren’t a part of that system so they keep going. Everything behaves the way that you’d expect it to. And it these early examples of systemic wins that really … are really nice reminders of why we’re building things the way we are. So that ultimately it’s a simple as make it the way you expect it to be made and it behaves the way you expect it to behave.
It’s just really nice when that happens: when you get to the point where a system begins to be … begins to exhibit those systemic behaviours.
Back To Jared
JH: With that, this month’s Ship Shape comes to a close but don’t worry we’ll be right back here next month with updates on the Aegis Reclaimer and the Tumbril Cyclone. Of course, keep an eye out for the launch of the Aegis Vulcan concept for all backers next week on February 22 and of course the subsequent Q&A post after that. For Ship Shape, I’m Content Manager Jared Huckaby, we’ll see you next time everybody.
SG: Thanks Jared.
CR: Yes, thank you Jared. Like to say his name a lot. Both of these ships will be nice entry points into very different career types in Star Citizen. The Terrapin is a great ship for aspiring explorers and the Vulcan is going to be a particularly great for players that want to get into supporting other ships in combat and exploration. Remember the concept sale starts next week so be sure to check it out.
SG: Jared will be back next month with another Ship Shape and tune in tomorrow at 8 a.m PST for another episode of Reverse the Verse live.
CR: Will Jared be on that one too?
SG: He will be.
CR: He will be. So this week’s guest is Lead Systems designer Dan Trufin. He’ll answer question about AI and naturally gameplay systems. So you won’t want to miss that.
SG: And you can get even more Q&A with Jared and developers from all of our studios on Calling all Devs airing every Monday.
CR: Jared’s on that one too.
SG: He is.
CR: You can check out this week’s episode now as well as the most recent Bugsmashers from yesterday which I don’t think has Jared on.
SG: No, he’s not. Thanks as always to our subscribers for sponsoring these and all of our shows.
CR: And of course thank you to all our backers for continuing to make development of all our games possible. We couldn’t do any of this without you.
SG: That’s right and that’s all for today, until next week we will see you…
SG/CR: Around the Verse.