Another episode of AtV is here! Check out The Relay’s Transcript.
SG: Hey everybody and welcome to Around the Verse. I’m Sandi Gardiner.
BL: And I’m Ben Lesnick.
SG: This week in the ATV Interview Jared sits down with Persistent Universe Director Tony Zurovec to talk the immediate future of Star Citizen.
BL: And then the Live Operations team walks us through the process of patching a build, which is something they’ve been doing quite often these days.
SG: But first, we’re getting closer and closer to having our new studio sets.
BL: What do you mean? It’s all done! It’s totally finished! No this is ATV studio under … what are we going to call this place, Studio 42 or something … under construction!
SG: Smell of sawdust.
BL: [laughs] It does smell like sawdust. Thomas Hennessy and friends have been building us our nice moving sets behind us. And in the very near future you’ll be seeing those in the show.
SG: And work on the rest of the studio continues. Talk about how the studio is coming together.
BL: It’s coming together very well.
SG: That was in italics!
BL: You’re reading your stage directions.
SG: Mmm hmm. Ben adds colour.
BL: The studio is coming together great. The developer part is done and the community part is done and then they’re building out the commissary and the living facilities in between them right now. But it’s a big step up from our last space.
SG: Of course Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 continues its testing on the PTU.
BL: We’re up to Citizen #110000. At this point we are adding people in blocks of when they joined. Hoping to expand that shortly and we are patching, gosh, it’s been almost daily for the last couple of days. We’re on patch G as of this recording. We may be onto H or I by the time you see this. Our bug smashers are making quick fixes to the errors and bugs that you guys discover and it’s making for a more and more stable experience on the road to getting this thing live.
SG: And earlier this week we finished our third anniversary sale and our biggest yet.
BL: It was big, big, big! We had hundreds of different ship SKUs available. We hope everybody got the ship of their dreams this time around. And of course we hit some pretty impressive crowdfunding numbers in there. $99 million: that’s just, it’s hard to even think about. Thank you guys for that. We hope you enjoyed seeing the old ships come back; we hope you enjoyed the new ones, the Archimedes and the Crucible.
SG: I got an Archimedes.
BL: Nice! It’s going to be cool.
SG: And with that, let’s check in in wit our studios around the world with News from Around the Verse! Woah![Ben and Sandi are attacked by paper missiles from behind the camera]
SG: Wait, what?
BL: Skinner box or something?[laughter]
ED: Hey everyone, welcome back to Los Angeles, California, the new office. I’m Eric Kieron Davis
DV: I’m Darian Vorlick
ED: We’ve got a bunch of updates for you this week. A lot of stuff that’s happening round the studios has been really focused on 2.0, as you’d imagine. Paul Reindell and Mark Abent and Alan, everyone’s getting in the mix to get this build fixed and ready for live.
DV: Yeah, stability’s a big concern.
ED: Yeah, it’s a big issue for us, and we’re very focused on giving the best experience we possibly can so, every night, every morning we come in, we send off issues to the UK, we get them back from the team over there in Germany and the UK, it’s been a really good, a team effort to get this build really solid, and something for you guys to enjoy.
DV: It’s pretty much been a 24 hour cycle.
ED: Yeah, it really has. We’re handing things off over email, we’re talking over Skype, it’s a morning sync we’re having, at 9 o’clock every morning with Chris Roberts and the team, it’s been really good.
DV: So, on the art side, something cool. Our concept artist, Gurmukh, he’s been working on the concept for the Caterpillar. So that’s a ship I think people have been looking forward to for a long time now. Don’t want to give too many details, but it’s looking pretty beefy, is the best way to explain it.
ED: He’s working really closely with Randy. They were showing off stuff a few weeks ago, and they’re starting to dig in on the art side, how that would look.
DV: And finally something that maybe you guys have playing around with 2.0 is the new EMP weapon. Right now one of our engineers and designers Chad, he’s been trying to implement new features into the EMP such as when the ship gets hit by it the lights’ll flicker off, your computer screen gets disabled, creating new effects for how the EMP will function. On top of that we’re trying to nail down how the v effects are supposed to look, how the audio is supposed to sound, we want to make sure it’s something really impressive, really visual and visceral that you guys can recognize that as an EMP weapon. On top of that, creating a warning signal, letting the pilot know that hey, i’m about to discharge an EMP weapon, letting them know that hey, this may interfere with systems, we’re trying to create this whole system of notifications based around how this weapon’s going to function, and that should turn out to be really cool.
ED: It really is very exciting, if you guys play with it. Alright, that’s it. Got anything else?
ED: Alrighty, I’m Eric,
DV: I’m Darian,
ED: See you next week in LA!
JR: Hey guys, Jake Ross here, Associate Producer of the Persistent Universe, and I’m here with you this week to talk a little about jump points, the patches we’re pushing to the PTU, and character customization. We’re all back from Thanksgiving holiday so we’re all about 10 pounds heavier, and ready to get back to work. So this week we’ve kicked off discussions on jump point travel. So, we have our Stanton system that we’re fleshing out, and we’re starting to think about okay, with Levsky landing zone coming out, how are we going to get to Nyx, you know, so we’re toying around with some different ideas, but we’re starting to really dive down into how that’s going to work functionally in game. A lot of cool artwork for how that’s going to look, I know some of you guys saw that, I think it was at South by South West or Pax South last year, or earlier this year in Austin, so that was done by Chris Olivia and it looks gorgeous, so we’re just trying to figure out how to implement that, so that’s pretty interesting that we are now kicking that off. so.
We’re also pushing a whole lot of patches to the PTU recently, for 2.0. Our Operations team, our QA team, have worked long hours and dedicated a lot of their time, even over Thanksgiving Holiday, to push these patches out to you guys so we can get more and more stable as we look forward to live release 2.0. We’re seeing all the videos you guys are putting up and they’re really awesome so I know that a lot of thanks goes to the Operations team and the QA team for helping put those patches out for you guys.
Lastly, character customization. We’ve started discussions, doing a deep-dive into the technology behind the customization and first iteration for you guys. So, we’re starting to get clothing assets back from CGBot, so we’re messing around creating these NPC kind of, not NPC’s, Civilian loadouts in addition to the armour loadouts that we have already. So in the not too distant future you guys should be able to not just select from the three outlaws and three mediums, but also have civilian loadouts that you create using the clothing assets and the various heads that we have, that we’ve scanned for NPC’s, but will also be able to use for players.
Yeah, so, I think next after that will be to look at skin tone, hair, and the actual face itself. So. That’s what the near to mid-term roadmap for customization looks like, so look forward to that.
Yeah, I think that’s all I’ve got for you guys this week. Thanks, see you around.
TJ: Hello and welcome to Manchester UK, My name is Tom, Senior Producer, I’m going to give you guys a quick update about what’s going on here in the UK. Now over the last three months the team have been ramping up massively so, since September, just to give you an idea of things, we’ve hired over 20 new starters since early September, so the team is growing rapidly, and we’ve hired six new environment artists join us, four new QA testers, helping us make sure the build is good and stable for you guys before sending it out, and we also have four vehicle artists working on the spaceships that we’ve got going on, and we’ve got a lighting artists, a new tech artist, a tech designer, and also a game support representative and a Customer sales representative, just to make sure you guys are being well communicated with. So yeah, the team’s getting really full. They’re very busy, and everyone’s very much looking forward to the December livestream to show you guys all the cool stuff that’s going on at the moment. And yeah, a lot of the team are very much focused on 2.0.
We’re really seeing much more stability now; there’s far fewer crashes, on the server and client crashes too, and improvements into the performance, so we really do hope to get you the build live to the rest of the community in the not too distant future. So yeah, that’s the main focus of the team now, 2.0 and also putting their heads on 2.1, and we’re really enjoying seeing all those videos you’re putting up online of all the funny encounters you get in Crusader, so do please keep those coming.
That’s it from me, so I’ll say see you in the ‘Verse!
BC: Hey guys, Brian Chambers here from Frankfurt, this week I’m flying solo, didn’t bring anyone else in. Team is busy so I’ll just let them focus on what they’re doing. Kind of interesting today thinking about our group’s been together, at least the core of us, for coming on a year now. It’s kinda cool for us to see where we were and where we are now, and what we’ve pulled together, this global team and this global endeavour. And it’s all to your guys’ help and support, the community, the backers, so thank you so much. In the short amount of time we’ve been together, we’ve just kind of run through some of the stuff that we’ve touched. You know, we’re doing a lot of work with the UK team on SQ42 and the whole global team, but focusing on you know, as much as we can, as much help as we can there. Within this building, a lot of core engine work. A lot of the things you guys know about, other things you don’t know about that’re going to be coming online and we’ll reveal it in a cool way once it does, we’ve done a lot on physics code and physics optimization and setups. Animation code, a good amount there, and setting stuff up for animation, even Audio code, we have an audio engineer here that we’ve worked together with for years. FPS design, contributed a lot of that with Todd Pappy as the Design Director here and helping to drive our team and even other areas. Global scheduling with our Production guys here, being able to help with the global schedules, help refine things, and give best estimates and reschedule and so on. A.I. I brought in Francesco here before, he’s driving as our lead A.I. programmer / Engineer, so we’re really driving AI out of Frankfurt. Cinematics with Hannes, we’re building up the team there, Hannes and his guys, Jason Cole, they’re driving the Cinematics, pushing things as hard as we can. Weapons, we have Toby, our lead weapon artist, so he’s pushing a lot on weapons. Environment, we have a couple of environment artists here, brought in some in the past, VFX, we have a VFX artist here, a senior guy, and hes been driving stuff along with the UK team. Character rigging, we’re contributing with Character Rigging, and then ultimately on top of that, also you know, game optimizations which are incredibly important, and bug fixes which are incredibly important.
It’s complex, looking at game development, it’s a big giant puzzle and you’ve got all these parts and pieces that need to fit together perfectly in order for it all to work, and as we make changes and put new stuff in, other stuff could break, so you know, looking at those bugs in a timely manner and being able to really dig deep and understand what they are and fix them and get new stuff, new content, new fixes out to you guys, is really important to us, so not really a weekly update, but I just wanted to run through that and again, say thank you to the community. The team’s still growing, we’ve signed two more contracts this last week I think, so now we’re up to 32, and we’re still looking to bring in a good amount more. So thanks again, and I’ll bring in somebody next week.
BL: Thank you to our studios from around the world, for everything you do!
SG: Now lets check in with the Live Operations team in Austin as they give us a look into patch creation and more in this week’s AtV Behind the Scenes!
BL: Da da da, behind the scenes, AtV, Now!
Joseph Holley: Hi everybody I’m Joseph Holley, i’m a Cloud Solutions Architect here in the Operations Department.
Miles Lee: Hi! I’m Miles Lee, i’m Operations Engineer in the Operations Department
Keegan Standifer: Keegan Standifer Operations Engineer.
JH: Here at Cloud Imperium Operations Department, covers all the servers the game is run on. The backers all connect to when they’re playing the modules we have released publically. We also run the build server which turns out to be an enormous amount of work. In the past some Reddit AMA’s and some participation on the forums where we got a lot of feedback from very technical backers so I know there are definitely people out there who interested in the stuff we do. We are very hands on with, you know, all the servers in the cloud, all of the servers that run the build system. Between those i’d say we manage a couple of hundred machines. That we work really closely with the IT department and the developers. The IT department obviously helps us with the internal resources all the build machines are internal resources we keep all of those in house none of that lives in the cloud,and the developers obviously are the ones writing all the code, and building, making all the assets that goes through the build system so we end up working a lot with them, whenever we send something through the build system and it doesn’t like it for some reason, somebody’s got a mistake or they need to go back and fix a bug. So we work closely with those guys.
ML: I’m responsible for the build servers mainly and I tend to do maintenance on those and work on performance increases for that. This mainly involves me babysitting builds at night to make sure they get to all our other studios in the other countries.
JH: The big challenge is we have on the build system side, are definitely distributing, although something comes out of that, to all of our studios and since this is a worldwide development effort we also have outside contractor’s studios.
ML: Yeah we push a lot of data all over the place
JH: Yeah. So that’s a big challenge. We also had a big initiative earlier this year, where we rebuilt the build server to make it more scalable. Previous build server had been around since the company started when it was thirty some odd people and now we’re pushing three hundred and it’s really to the point where the number of builds they wanted to put through the build server were just never going to work with the old build server so we spent several months, Miles and I working pretty heavily on redoing the build server.
ML: Yeah we went from, what? Eight to ten builds a day to fourty if we needed it?
JH: Yeah, good stuff.
KS: I mostly work on the patching system that we have. So previously we had a patcher that could only deliver the game at about three megabytes a second which for a lot of people they have internet they can, you know, consume faster than that, and even if they had faster internet than that sometimes they get the full three megabytes and so with the patcher rewrite; patcher two point oh, I worked on the backend for the patcher and with the improvements that we made we went from around three megabytes per second people could consume to, I can max out the pipe here which is about a hundred megabytes per second that we can pull. So people are able to get their downloads a lot faster, it’s a lot more reliable, it’s easier for us to troubleshoot in house and overall it’s a lot happier experience for the player just in general. Besides that I also work on building out the analytics pipeline, both for our patcher as well as the game, so we are able to use analytics to kind of track how fast players are consuming patches from us so that we can see maybe there’s some issues based on region, maybe people with certain operating systems are having trouble with the patchers, and as for the game, the system that I am building out is so that developers can put in all sorts of hooks into the game. So when someone like explodes in their ship or kills another player they can send an event through the pipeline that i’ve built out so that, that all gets tracked and they can have graphs and you can correlate things like which weapons do the most damage, what weapons are players using the most, for ships players are using the most, how many kills people are getting in Vanduul Swarm, what ships are the fastest in race times? This way we can do things like that as well as how effective how controller is and then we can pass these analytics on to our producers, our designers, Chris Roberts and they can all take a look at them and use those analytics to make a decision to push the game in one direction or the other so that it is a better experience for the players
JH: Alright. Go back a little bit to the beginning of your analytics conversation. I think that is a really common misconception with some of our backers is they really only think of the analytics piece in terms of “We’re going to collect a bunch of data that we’re going to use to balance the game” There’s actually so much more that we do with the analytics piece, including tracking the number of people who downloaded the game, tracking the number of people who launch the patcher looking for behaviours that we, might indicate a problem, like you launched the patcher but didn’t download anything even though there was a patch available it will send back to us that that happened so we can use that to zero in on problems. There’s a lot of data we can get from that.
KS: Earlier this year, and even going back into last year, when we were having problems with multiplayer. One of the analytics we fall back on was that we would look at, the number of players who had started the game, versus the number of players who were actually joining a multiplayer match. Using those server ratios you can easily see where, if that percentage of players is actually able to get in a match compared to the players that are able to join a game, or rather load the game up, starts to decrease then we can see that there’s some major issues that need to be addressed.
JH: So I guess a normal work day for Cloud Solutions guys. I am one of the two people on the team, there’s a lot of r and d trying to figure what patterns work best in the cloud, proving out those patterns and then asking that to the developers, so if you’re really comfortable with building a game from the standpoint of; we own a bunch of physical hardware and a data centre and all of that hardware is paid for, that leads you down a very different approach in terms of, the pattern, the programming model, the design that you want to go through when you’re making, the matchmaking service and GIM and the dedicated game servers. Whereas when you’re trying to build something that is always going to run in the cloud in the very first iteration that’s going to lead you down a very different path of very service orientated architecture, using micro services trying to make things very resilient to failures, because we don’t control the hardware, our cloud provider gives us a virtual machine and every cloud provider, they all tell you there is no guarantee that these will always be available. Sometimes a machine, a virtual machine is going to go away, sometimes entire regions of virtual machines is going to just disappear and you need to build your application, and in our case the application is Star Citizen, in a way that can survive those kinds of things. Anybody who’s really interested in that sort of stuff i’d highly recommend the Netflix tech blog. They talk really extensively about the strategies that they’ve used to build very resilient, cloud native, micro service architectures and that’s been a big influence on us. That’s mostly what the cloud solutions team works on in an average day.
ML: An average day for the build system usually involves coming in the morning after babysitting the builds and debugging any problems they may have had with the builds when they get them and going through any issues that will affect the extra assets in the build or if we need to pull something out of the build
JH: Or there’s some bad code that got checked in? Or an asset caused the build to fail?
ML: That’s followed up with moving on to implementing anything that can further increase performance. We’re currently trying to paralyse our assets stream more so that we can increase the speed at which we PAK files in our PAK structure and distribute them faster.
JH: The backers are probably familiar with all the game art assets they all come in these huge PAK files, that’s been pretty standard in games for quite a while. We’re trying to develop some new PAK structures that will work in tandem with the delivery method the key ends built in the new launcher that will help us deliver only the changed parts of the PAKs since those are zipped files that can get a little gnarly at times so we’re working heavily on that and part of that also goes back to the build system and trying to build each one of those PAKs at the same time that you’re build all the other paks. The original build system that we had six months ago for example it just had to build each PAK in order in alphabetical order so that process would typically take several hours. Our new process that Miles is working towards will kick off an individual little asset job for every single PAK so they all happen at the same time and should cut down the total time it takes to compile all the assets and put them in the PAKs by a lot.
KS: Yeah, one thing when we talk about getting people patches more efficient, like doing incremental patching and things like that, is it’s not just building the applications that deliver them, like when we put in the new patching system with incremental patching protocols that could look at differences in these files and try and patch the ones that have changed. It’s not just providing that solution but also working on the backend structure of how our PAKs are actually created. Currently we are working on taking these PAK files and structuring them in such a way that it works better with our delivery system.
JH: Mmm hmm yeah, our delivery system should be able to detect just the parts of the PAKs that have changed. That’s something that a lot of backers know that we’ve been working towards for a while. We’re aware that both our previous patching solution and our current patching solution have the potential to maybe send you more data than has changed between builds just as a function of the fact that these files are just those big compressed messes so it’s really hard to disentangle and just change the files that need to be changed inside of them. That’s all complicated also by the fact that there are some security on those PAK files to make them so that it’s harder to tamper with and that’s something that helps avoid players attempting to hack the game or exploit it some how.
ML: That will also help us distribute to other studios a lot faster as well if we don’t have to send the entire build.
JH: Yeah. So those are big things that we’re working towards today. What’s today look like for you?
KS: Usually my duties are spread between doing things like the analytics side, the patcher side, as well as various projects throughout both the Operations department and assisting IT on some of their efforts. Some days it could be that some new analytics are requested for, let’s say that there’s a new issue that people are experiencing in the Patcher and we want to get more visibility on it, then my day will be spent working on getting those analytics into the Patcher and then getting that Patcher out to the public. And along with delivering the patches for the Patcher, my duties also include delivering the game patches to the public which can be a day-long task, depending on the sort of release we are doing: whether that’s public or a test universe release.
And as for just various random projects that come up, Miles mentioned right now I’m working with IT on restructuring the PAK files that we have and making them work better for the Patcher.
JH: Yeah so patch day for us is a very busy time. Obviously the company in general is really busy on patch days. Since we do have offices all over the world usually the patch gets generated after all of the folks here in the US are done. It’s generated overnight. People in Germany and the UK come in and immediately start banging on that build to see if it looks good. Generally speaking we’ve got the build up on the PTU earlier so we’ve also tracked down some issues from the players banging on it. So they’ll be looking to make sure those issues have been addressed and the bugs fixed. If all of that looks good they have all day to work on it and whenever we get here in Austin, a couple of hours before LA, we start doing QA passes on it too. If everything looks good we usually try to have a “thumbs up, thumbs down” meeting around eleven o’clock our time, which will be 9 am in LA and towards the end of the day in Germany and the UK. All of the Producers will sign off if that looks good then Keegan will typically start uploading all of the data to our CDN. Miles and one of the other folks on our team, Ahmed, typically spend a good portion of the morning uploading to the servers and getting all the data on there.
JH: And at that point things are staged and we put it on hidden services. This is a pretty normal thing lots of games companies do, so we put it on a hidden patch server and we put it on a hidden game servers. And by “hidden” I just mean they are restricted so only people from our office can see them and get to them. And then we give that information to QA and they try and login and download the patch and play the game the way a customer would. And if that all looks good and we get everything signed off and rubber stamped, then at that point we start doing the stuff that you guys see: there’s community posting that a new patch is coming out; we turn on the patching for the public so you’ll see new patches in the Launcher and once you get those downloaded we’ll turn on the servers with the new patch so that once you’ve downloaded the patch you can connect to those servers and play.
JH: Obviously there’s always the chance, because we are as diligent as we can be but our QA is still just a couple dozen people, so there’s always the possibility that something has slipped through. So it’s always a tense few hours immediately after the game has been pushed live where we’re watching it very closely to see if anything has slipped through or something crazy is happening that customers are seeing that we weren’t able to replicate. Trying to address that as quickly as possible that can sometime turn into a really long night for us. There’s been nights where we’ve stayed to 2, 3, 4, 5 am after getting in at 9 am that morning in order to get a build out to you guys.
KS: And if anything does go wrong we always have the ability to rollback patches. So anything like, if the game crashes on start up or there’s something huge that needs to be corrected immediately, there’s always the option we have to flip the switch backwards and go back to an old patch and bring up the old servers again.
ML: It’s another advantage of the new build system is we can keep a huge backlog of builds for us to fallback on if we need to.
JH: So that’s what the Operations team does here in Austin. We do have a couple of other members spread out across the world. Hopefully you guys will get to hear from them as well. I guess, thank you very much for all your backing and giving us the opportunity to make Star Citizen.
KS: Thank you.
ML: Thanks guys. [waves]
SG: Thanks guys. Next up Jared sat down with Persistent Universe Directory Tony Zurovec for a special two part ATV Interview.
Jared Huckaby – JH: Thanks guys. In this week’s ATV Interview we’re sitting down the director of the Persistent Universe Mr Tony Zurovec. Tony, how are you doing?
Tony Zurovec – TZ: Pretty good
JH: Now we’ve gained a lot of new followers, a lot of new citizens since the last time you were on camera here, so why don’t you start by introducing yourself to the community and tell them a little bit about what you do.
TZ: My name is Tony Zurovec, I’m the director the Persistent Universe. That entails a number of responsibilities. We do everything from guiding to development at the high level of what I’d call the peaceful AI. It’s the AI that’s going to drive all the characters in the various landing zones as you’re going to see throughout all these different environments, the non-combat oriented AI.It’s also involves the creation all of these various areas that you’re going to be visiting within the Persistent Universe. We’ve already put out there Area 18 which is the first of those, there’s a whole slew of other ones that are coming down the pike that you’ll be seeing soon. We’ll get into a little bit of detail on some of those later in this conversation. It involves a whole lot of work with regards to everything from shopping interfaces to how you’re actually going to transition from server to server, the whole backend infrastructure for the networking and a variety of other things.
JH: Sounds like most of what Star Citizen is as opposed to Squadron 42
TZ: Yeah Squadron 42 engine roles a very specific experience. If you play through it there will be some variability but by and large different players will have very similar experience as they tredge through the game. Whereas the Persistent Universe is intended to be a completely open ended environment where you completely dictate your own path, are you going to be a mercenary or are you going to a pirate, or are you going to be a protector of the weak and vulnerable, are you going to be basically a miner? The sky is completely wide open in terms of what you do but how effective you are at it, whether you recruit other players to your cause to assist and all these types of things.
JH: We just launched the Social Module, for a long time we talked about the Social Module going to be inviting people to your hangars. When the Social Module actually arrived it turned out to be so much more than that. Can you tell us a little bit about why that change was made?
TZ: Yeah that was actually one of the later changes that I made and there were a couple reasons for it. One was at the time for technical reasons the code base had been split into a game dev and a 1.2.0 version and it was different to get back all the pieces of the puzzle that we needed to basically do the shared hangars at that point in time. As of right now it would actually be much more straightforward, we’re back, were re-integrated and that’s no longer an issue, but that kind of goes back to the primary reason why I found Area 18 way more interesting as an initial release of the Social Module, was that the mechanism by which you access it is the same for all the players.
So when I go to my hangar, I’m in my own little environment. I then go to Area 18 and I’m shunted in a common area with all these players. That’s dramatically different from me landing into my singleplayer hangar and I invite you over and now it’s just the two of us and unless I specifically invite someone else and maybe they accept my invitation and maybe they don’t, then maybe we got a third guy and I do the same thing and maybe we got a fourth guy. That’s much slower based, you don’t tend meet people you don’t already know and so it struck me that it would be much more interesting to a much larger swath of the community to basically put them in close proximity via passive means.
All they needed to do was go to Area 18 and they were going to automatically be combined with other players. This will actually touch upon some of the enhancements that we’ve got to the very next milestone, the so called 2.0 milestone which will introduce the Million Mile High Club. We got some specific enhancements planned for that release that will make going Area 18 that much more interesting versus what it has been in the past.
JH: Since you brought it up, the Million Mile High Club. We’re going to talk with Mark Skelton a little bit later about it, but can you give us a top overview about what the Million Mile High club is supposed to achieve?
TZ: Yeah the Million Mile High Club is basically a private meeting, community area that was purchased by a number of players in the past and so now we’re delivering upon the promise to those players. What it is is the owners of those areas have the ability to invite other individual players or entire clans to these areas. It resembles kind of a combination between a sports bar and an entertainment lounge. We decked them out with.. It kind of blends visually, technology with traditional wood finishes, so it’s got kind of a high end technological look to it. There filled with aquariums, monitors, you have your own private bartender, you have your own private doorman. it’s really a way to allow players to setup their own personal meeting area to discuss whatever they want and eventually once the main game is online, this is a great area for people in a given guild or clan to head to and find other players that they know that they’ve interacted with before that haven’t already gone out into space and gone to a different planet or different system, etc.
These guys are literally waiting for other members of that clan to arrive and basically join up and head off, as opposed to do all this communication from a typical chat based interface and hope you’re on the same server and all that stuff. There’s actually going to be a lot more to it than that in terms of that, that you’ll eventually be able to deck out the Million Mile High Club with trophies you win from various competitions, with the souvenirs that you purchased from different landing zones that you visit, with pictures that you’ll be able to eventually purchase on the walls, you’ll be able to customize the artwork and things of that type.
JH: That’s exactly what I was going to ask whether or not at some point down the line we’ll be able to customize our Million Mile High Club so that mine doesn’t look like yours, doesn’t look like Bens or what not.
TZ: Yeah and that’s actually something that the same interface by which you’ll be customizing that, will be extended over into your hangar and will end up hitting on the second iteration of the shopping. We’ll start to get into the ability to buy things and actually route them to places other than on your person, so that you can buy a small trophy that you find from a small vendor in the bazaar area on Nyx and route it back to your Million Mile High Club, or to your ship, or to your hangar; somewhere other than on your physical person.
JH: So Million Mile High Club cool and I understand that it’s coming in 2.0. What else does 2.0 bring as far as the Social Module planetside aspect?
TZ: The 2.0 release will be the first one to where you can actually formally establish a party. This is important for a number of reasons. Once you’re actually out and undertaking missions and it’s got very obvious benefits, but it’s got more subtle advantages in terms of when you are in your hangar and you transition to Area 18. now we will not longer just select just a random server according to how many players and shunt you to that; now we’ll give precedence towards trying to push you into the same instance where your other party members are and this is something that we’re going to be utilizing throughout the game in terms of, there’s going to be a hierarchy in terms of what my capabilities are versus other players on that server in terms of whether I’m in a party with somebody on a particular server or whether I’ve got them maybe not a party member but there a friend or someone I actually know.
These are all things that will be taken into account when you go into an area where we may have two or four or ten or twenty different servers representing instances of that area, but what what would be most interesting to you is to be pushed into a version of that area where there are actually people you know and you’ve got a history with. It also adds some backend infrastructure in this 2.0 version that we’re exploiting to allow us to create the Million Mile High Club, that’s going to make it much easier for us to link other landing zones and stuff into the game into the future. It’s all been very abstracted now at a high level to where the difficulty for example of adding Nyx and having players and having the servers spawn up versions of Nyx and allowing players to shunt into that automatically according to whether there a party member with someone or something else. It’s now getting to the point where it’s fairly straightforward to do.
JH: Yeah would that extend to things like, friends list or enemies list or folks you don’t specifically want to play with?
TZ: Yeah but less so, It’s more for at least the current thing for that is you certainly will be able to exclude people from being able to talk to you and that sort. We’re not yet thinking that we’d want you to prevent you from going to a particular server because this player is actually on there. One other really interesting thing about version 2.0 it’s going add the ability what we call “GIM Routing” and basically GIM, the Generic Instance Manager is the service that sits in the background and it keeps track of all of the different instances that are instantiated across the entire universe. It also keeps track of which players are allocated to which instance and it controls when a player wants to move from one instance to another, exactly which one he’s routed to.
So one of the enhancements that we’re going to be making available in version 2.0 is going to be the ability so that when you use an elevator it will show you your destination, but it will also show you the different instances within which you have other party members or friends so that you can select which one you want to go into. So when you go into your hangar now, you’ll be able to just select I want to go into Area 18, throw me whether you want to, do the best fit, but you can also see you have three party members on this instance and you have six friends on this instance and you have fourteen friends on this instance, which one do you actually prefer to go to; the one with only six friends might be more interesting because you’re trying to get that one guy to come over to your party but he’s not responding etc or whatever the case may be.
JH: I’m not that interesting, I don’t have that many friends… So 2.0 sounds great, looking ahead what’s next?
TZ: The next big one on our side after the Million Mile High Club, 2.0 and all that is really going to be the shopping milestone. That’s the one that is for the first time going to give you the ability to start customizing your character. You’ll do that via casaba outlet which is one of the stores that’s in Area 18 right now but is enclosed off. You will have the ability to go into that store, there will be a variety of different types of clothing you know scattered about that shop: Shirts, pants, jackets, hats, shoes and things of that sort. You’ll be able to utilize a currency, there’s still some debate over exactly what type of currency and all that. You’ll be able to purchase these things to customize your character how you see fit. This will also be the first test of the true persistence system.
There is persistence of the sort within the game right now, but whether it’s on the platform, the login side, or whether it’s in terms of how you customize your ship there are for a variety different reasons these are not the long term solutions for the overall game. What we’ve been focused on for awhile now is basically building out the backend functionality and services and database abstractional errors and that stuff to allow us to handle persistence in a proper way for a large massively multiplayer game like this. So this will be the first small test of that system is those pieces of clothing will actually.. all of those clothing transactions will be executed via the server, the changes to your inventory will not be stored locally, they will not be stored in a web database on Turbulent side, they’ll actually be getting stored in the persistent universe database.
One other thing that’s going to allow you customize your character to a bit farther degree will be right now with the initial release of the social module, we just put in a shortcut key so you that you can F6 to change the armour on your character. It was really a very last minute thing that we added because we didn’t want everyone to look the same and now we’ve sort of built that out to where you’ll be able to go to a particular useable in your hangar and you’ll be able to utilize it and at that point you can see your character and you can either select standard civilian clothing which is what you what you would choose if you wanted to go up and basically access Casaba and change your T-Shirt and pants and stuff like that.
You can also select any of the six suits of armour that we’re giving you access to right now, obviously that will be restricted accordingly to which ones you own for the final game. We want to also allow the ability for you to modify your skin tone, your face, and your hair. It’s not yet clear how many of those will actually make their way into that 2.1 shopping milestone, but if whatever doesn’t hit there will show up shortly thereafter, but that’s the short term is to allow you to modify those aspects of your personal appearance and also the clothing which you’re actually wearing.
SG: Be sure to tune in next week for the second part of Tony’s interview!
BL: It’s always so cool to hear from Tony, cause basically everything he says is gold.
SG: I just love how it’s two parts cause…
BL: Of course it’s two parts, it’s Tony!
SG: This weekend is the 25th anniversary of the Wing Commander Secret Missions add-on
BL: Yes, the first expansion disk for the original Wing Commander came out 25 years ago tomorrow, we’re celebrating on Saturday, we’re going to have another livestream similar to how we did for the original Wing Commander a couple of months back, and Jared, myself, and some others will be here playing through the game. We’ve got some special guests, we’ll have some ships to give away, and all sorts of trivia, so please check it out.
SG: And now it’s time for this week’s MvP
SG: Ben the envelope please
BL: Here is our lovely MvP Envelope
SG: I will not sniff it this time. This week’s MvP is Jack Frack, and his video showing the first cargo transport in Star Citizen.
BL: This video is especially cool because it kind of shows A, it’s emergent gameplay which we’re always amazed to see in this early stages of PTU, but B it shows you how we’re building the essentials into the game right now, so that when it is actually time to introduce cargo systems, oh, the pallets already exist, and they can be put in a ship, and they can be moved from place to place. Check it out, it’s pretty cool.
SG: Very cool. And finally, here’s your Art Sneak Peak
48:52 – Art Sneak Peek[MISC Freelancer Rework (Work-in-Progress)]
BL: Be sure to tune into Reverse the ‘Verse tomorrow at 11am Pacific on Twitch, we’ll be talking about that sneak peek and everything else Star Citizen related.
SG: And it’s our first new studio, no it’s not, it’s our first…
BL: It will be, it’ll be our first one from the new studio, so, get ready to see some bare walls and wooden crates.
SG: And of course thank you to all our subscribers for making this show possible. We will see you next week on Around the ‘Verse
BL: Around the ‘Verse.