Hey citizens! Around the ‘Verse is here! Check out The Relay’s transcript
– Entertaining Star Wars themed intro.
– Holiday livestream was this past week and despite some technical glitches had some very cool moments like the procedural planet tech demo.
– SC Alpha 2.1 is on the PTU.
– CIG is shut down now until the New Year for a well-deserved break.
– New item system in the process of being deployed little by little. Much more functional and efficient.
– Vanguard getting damage states, nearly flight ready.
– Reliant is being done by Elwin and is nearing completion as well.
– Manufacturers being created for clothing lines, complete with style guides.
– Developing and implementing analytics to give them more information about what’s going on in the game.
– Party system being worked and iterated on hard.
– Huge thank you to PTU testers!
– Work coming along on new high tech space stations.
– Work also coming along on automating some of the QA tests, which will help catch some bugs more reliably and faster.
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[In the style of a Star Wars intro]
Not too long ago in a galaxy close, very close …
Around the Verse
The Verse Awakens
Star Citizen Alpha 2.0 has gone live. In its wake, the BACKERS have begun doing unspeakable things to the Port Olisar vending machines and will not rest until every Comm-Array in Crusader is repaired over and over.
With the support of CLOUD IMPERIUM GAMES, General Sandi Gardiner leads a brave COMMUNITY SHOW. She is desperate to inform the backers about upcoming patches and other Star Citizen news, restoring peace and justice to the galaxy.
Sandi has sent her most awkward co-host on a secret mission to the Fan Cave, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Star Citizen 2.1 …
So, yeah, you can fly the Freelancer in 2.1.
01:29 – Intro
Ben Lesnick (BL): Welcome back to Around the Verse, I’m Ben Lesnick. This week on ATV Jarred sits down with Lighting Artist Emre Switzer to talk about light in Star Citizen. And we visit with the QA Team to learn exactly what Quality Assurance is and what they do. But first it’s Christmas Eve and I’m home alone!
[Ben does the Home Alone Face]
BL: I’m very sorry: it was in the script.
BL: It is a short week here at Cloud Imperium Games. Folks are headed back to spend the holidays with their families and we can’t be more thankful for the work they put in this year. You know it was a tough year but it was a good year also and we all had an incredible time putting together this game and we can’t wait to get back to it. But first a little break for everyone that we are excited to have.
BL: And hey check out our incredible new set. If you saw the Holiday Livestream you probably saw its exciting debut. This is what we are calling the Fan Cave: it’s the least formal of the sets we building here in the Los Angeles office and we’re pretty proud of it. The idea is we’re going to have it evolve and grow as the project continues, sharing things fans send us. As you guys have known from watching us for the last three or so years our backers are incredibly talented: they do everything from create 3D printed ships, to metal signs, to wooden coasters, and they share with us all the time so we thought it would be cool to build this friendly set that would share that with the world. If you have something cool Star Citizen related you’ve created, send it in and we’ll include it in our backdrop.
BL: But speaking of holiday livestreams, how about that Holiday Livestream? Aside from some technical glitches it was a pretty cool time. We heard from John Rhys-Davies and saw the latest in Squadron 42. And of course the secret we were all biting our tongue not to give away, the planetary demo. It’s new procedural generated technology that’s going to be used to create entire worlds like the Genesis Device from Star Trek 2. The guys in Germany actually have this working now and they are going to be including it in future builds of the game. It’s really incredible, it’s honestly more than I thought we would ever get to do when I started this project and it just so exciting. It’s just thrilling to see it.
BL: And then after the Holiday Livestream we had a little party here. We took the entire team to see Star Wars The Force Awakens. No spoilers but do check it out [two thumbs up]. Then we had a holiday party that capped off this exciting crazy year.
BL: The big news on Star Citizen is that Alpha 2.1 just hit the PTU just under the wire. We have made it available to the first 16,000 backers who are helping us iron out the bugs with this initial build. 2.1 adds the Freelancer as flyable, the Sabre as hangar ready and it updates the EVA to a new system that should look and feel a whole lot better for people who are getting out of their ships and flying around in space. We will likely not be able to go to 2.1 live before the end of the year as everyone is on holiday break right now but expect to see more iterations and updates as soon as the team gets back to work.
BL: Now let’s check in to our studios around the world to see what they are working on. It’s News from Around the Verse!
04:33 – News From Around the Verse
Los Angeles, CA
Eric Kieron Davis (EKD): Hey everybody and welcome back to Los Angeles, California for this week’s update, I’m Eric Kieron Davis.
Darian Vorlick (DV): I’m Darian Vorlick and this is the last one of the year.
EKD: The last one of the year, sad, but it’s been a great year.
DV: It has.
EKD: So, let’s wrap this up. We’ve got a bunch of updates for you, you want to start?
DV: Sure. With 2.0 being in the hands of you guys now, we are steadily working on 2.1 and with that includes … Calix is once again doing his balance pass, looking at the feedback from you guys on what we need to tweak, what we need to change, refactoring items, health balance, all that fun stuff. That’s a large part of what Calix does on a regular basis so we are still working on that …
EKD: He also works a lot globally on all the teams, balance team and they sneak in all their wishlist items alongside the feedback you guys give us which is incredible.
DV: On top of that in the past we’ve mentioned Paul Reindell, one of our lead engineers has been working on a new item system for the game and that has now been integrated into our code so that is going to be forthcoming little by little as we push out new versions of the game. We can’t really say which version it’s going to be released in, all we can say is it’s been integrated into the base code so you’re going to start to see some changes as we make … it’s a lot more functional, a lot more efficient system on what we’re doing here.
EKD: This is a big one for us, this has been in development for quite a long time and it’s very exciting. I can tell Paul, he did it right before he went on vacation, he was excited to get it in to Mark Abent and a bunch of the team he was working with so it’s going to be exciting just to see those changes, it’s really make more, like you say, things efficient.
EKD: A couple of things on the art side, we’ve got Matt Intrieri, one of our senior tech artists, he’s setting up the damage states for the Vanguard.
DV: Pretty ship, pretty ship.
EKD: It’s a very pretty ship and it’s one of the final stages. There’s a couple things we do towards the end of a ship, one of them is damage states, getting it ready to explode. Hopefully it will never explode, right? That’s the goal when you buy a ship but in case it does you want it to look pretty cool. We’re also always working on several ships in the studio, another one is the Reliant, Elwin’s working on the Reliant, we want to get it into the hands of you guys as soon as we can. That one’s going to look pretty cool too.
DV: You guys saw a preview of it in the Livestream we did, so hopefully you’ll start seeing more of that ship.
EKD: I know Elwin is really excited about that one, he’s been really about the Reliant for a long time.
DV: It’s his baby.
EKD: Yes, it is. Alright, that’s it. That’s the final update for the year, for 2015. Happy holidays everybody. Again I’m Eric.
DV: I’m Darian.
EKD: See you next time.
6:59 Austin TX
Jake Ross (JR): Hi Jake Ross here, Associate Producer of the Persistent Universe, and I’m here with you this week to talk a little bit about post-2.0 release things we’re doing: such as clothing manufacturers, some analytics work we’re doing and some testing on the Party system.
JR: So clothing manufacturers. With Casaba Outlet clothing shop on the horizon we are doing some work on establishing these clothing manufacturers. You know we have these manufacturers for ships; we have them for components, for weapons but we don’t have any for clothing really. So we’re doing some logo work: the excellent Clint Schultz is helping us out doing some logo work for us, and he’s come up with some brand for these manufacturers. Forest Stephan and Mark Skelton are working on some style guides for the manufacturers: they’re all going to have their own unique look. So we’re going to have all sorts of different clothing lines here in pretty soon. And we had some concepts done for the various clothing influences, like the Terra – Fashion – Casual, and now we are breaking it down even more and actually creating manufacturers within those lines. So that’s pretty cool to see some brand new manufacturers come to fruition.
JR: We’re doing some support on the analytics front now that you guys are all out in the 2.0. We want to capture some more data and figure out what you guys are doing and we have some issues that are being reported and we just want to be as educated as we can, like “is it on our side, is it on your side”, we’re trying to help solve those issues more efficiently so we’re improving our analytics front a little bit. So that’s going on in the operations side.
JR: We’re also doing some heavy testing on the Party system, on Contacts, the Friends system. We want you guys to be able to join your friends out there in the ‘verse more easily. So the Party system design as it currently stands needs a little work so we’re having QA take it through its paces and provide some feedback and gather you guys’ suggestions from out there and then pass that off to the designer to help iterate on that a little bit. There’ll be some design work on that and some back end work on that and then it will go back to UI for some front end improvements hopefully here pretty soon. So, yeah, that’s the Party system.
JR: I think that’s it for this week, so yeah, we’ll see you guys later.
9:36 Foundry 42, UK
Tom Johnson (TJ): Hi everyone, welcome to the UK. This week I’ve got Luke Pressley with me, the lead designer of Star Citizen Live. Hi Luke.
Luke Pressley (LP): Hi everyone, who I want to thank for playing the PTU and helping us get out the release of 2.0. We couldn’t have done it without you to be honest. I would also like to make a very personal thank you to all the streamers out there who had me up until 2am most mornings noting down bugs and then rushing into work next morning to fix them.
TJ: Lots of bugs!
LP: Lots of bugs! I don’t want to make personal callouts but if you ever saw Luke_cig lurking on your streams and possibly jumping into chat to apologise then that was me and you know who you are! Obviously we don’t usually, as game designers, get this chance to sit down and watch, from day-to-day, watch someone have a problem; next day fix it; next day watch them get past that.
TJ: You don’t get that normally do you?
LP: No, no you don’t! The traditional way of doing this is maybe you’d get a few players in a focus test behind a one-way mirror and then the game goes out and that’s when you get your feedback. And you only know if you’ve done it right or wrong at that moment.
TJ: This is something else isn’t it?
LP: This is something else! This is fantastic. So, yeah, I just want to end by thanking everyone and saying there’s another PTU any minute.
TJ: It’s coming.
LP: So I guess I’ll see you on the streams soon.
TJ: Thanks everyone and I’ll see you in the ‘verse!
11:23 Foundry 42, DE
Brian Chambers (BC): Hey everyone, Brian Chambers from Frankfurt. This week on Code and AI really a lot of energy went to getting 2.0 where it is and getting stable. And I think they’ve done a hell of a job getting it there. Design pretty much carry over from last week so nothing really new there. And on Cinematics again their continuing to push on cinematics: getting new characters in there, new scenes pulled together and so on.
BC: So this week I brought two guys in with me: I got Robert Stephens, Senior Environment Artist, and Chris Speak. Chris you’ve seen before, Senior QA. And I thought they could come in and talk about what they’ve been working on and pushing on. Robert?
Robert Stephens (RS): Well I’ve been working on space stations; working on a new high-tech mining facility. It’s still a little bit, kind of, secretive at the minute so I can’t go into too many details.
BC: What’ve you been doing on it?
RS: We’re literally looking to get the kind of look and feel for the high-tech facilities nailed down.
BC: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
RS: So far what we’ve got is more low-tech sci-fi stuff and we’re trying to diversify that, building some high-tech stuff in there as well. And, yeah, just …
BC: That’s cool. You and the other environment guys here you work primarily with the UK team? You’re really tight.
RS: That’s right. Yeah. The majority of the Environment team is over in the UK so there’s a bit of backwards and forwards, but it’s going really smoothly, it’s looking really good.
RS: It should be out soon.
BC: Cool. How about you Chris?
Chris Speak (CS): Well I’m primarily CryEngine QA so that’s my experience over the past three and half years or so. And what I’m …
BC: I know the Engine team was happy to get you in here, so don’t start beating yourself up.
CS: Yeah, yeah. It’s been a lot of work. So it’s been kind of interesting too. At the moment I’m working on automated testing which is generally getting everything running from scratch with just a very small amount of work to test everything from say, hit reactions of AI to particles from gunshots, ricochets, physics, fall damage …
BC: How does automated testing then benefit the engineers or benefit the team then, once it’s up and running.
CS: Well, yeah, they tend to get instantaneous feedback from any changes they check in on Perforce and any updates they make to the code in general. Every time they make a change, they submit it, they run through the automated testing and if anything breaks we know within a few changelists of what actually caused it.
BC: That way it will immediately flag, at least based off the variables you set?
CS: Yeah, exactly.
CS: Ordinarily what would happen is the changes would go into a build, the build then goes to QA, QA tests it and we either find the bug or we maybe don’t find it straight away, which can be kind of a problem too.
CS: So by automating things and having these … They can only be simple tests: running through an level automatically shooting the AI or jumping in a ship automatically, flying and landing, that kind of thing. But these things all being automated makes it so much to find these things which results in a more polished product. By the end anyway.
CS: It’s cool.
BC: Awesome. Alright that’s short and sweet like we always say. Thanks again to all the backers and we’ll see you next week.
14:48 – Gameplay Video
15:20 – Back in the Studio
BL: As always a big thank you to all of our studios. You guys are doing incredible work and your week off is well deserved. Next up Jarred sits down with Lighting Artist Emre Switzer to talk light!
15:43 – ATV Interview with Emre Switzer
Jared Huckaby: Thanks guys. On this week’s AtV interview i’m sitting down with Lighting Artist? Lighting Artist, Emre Switzer. Emre, how you doing?
Emre Switzer: Doing good.
JH: Now, Emre you came from the community? That’s a novelty i’ve never heard of that happening before! Tell us about, take us back to the beginning, tell us about how you became a fan of Star Citizen
ES: I found out about the project from CryDev, which is the CryEngine modding community site. I’ve been involved with that community for the past five years or so, and then there was a news post one day about Star Citizen; Chris Roberts’ new project, and so I checked it out, saw the first Kickstarter launch trailer and I loved it. You know space games are really cool, the vision and the ambition of the project was incredible. So i’ve been following it ever since then
JH: Gotcha. And when did you back?
ES: I backed sometime in 2014, I don’t remember the exact time, I think it was the beginning half of it.
JH: I didn’t back right away either, actually. I don’t remember exactly when it was, it was in 2013 sometime, but I was like I needed to be shown more. I’m a cautiously optimistic and naturally I … Can’t think of the word I’m looking for. What’s the word I’m looking for?
Thomas H: You’re optimistic or pessimistic? Skeptical?
JH: Skeptical! Sorry guys. I’m a skeptical guy so I needed to see some stuff, before I believe and eventually I definitely, well obviously, we both came around!
ES: Yeah. I mean it was definitely worth it I saw those ships in the hangar, I tore apart the levels, started looking at how stuff was done, I mean that’s what modders do right? So we went in and looked at how stuff was being done, it was really cool
JH: Now you didn’t go to school to become a Lighting Artist, and had you ever had another job anywhere being a Lighting Artist?
ES: Not being a Lighting Artist, I did some freelance work for a couple of years before then, in High School, but no not an actual job. It’s my first job actually!
JH: Your first job?
JH: Well congratulations! How’d you get that job? What was that process like?
ES: So yeah I was tearing apart the hangars and I thought one day “Hey let me try relighting this, let me try, but my spin on it” So I did that and posted it on Reddit and a lot of people liked it and they upvoted it, some guys gave me gold and then somebody here saw it and i got an email saying “Hey let’s come down, swing down here and do an interview”
JH: So what was it, why lighting? Why was that the aspect that you said “Hey I can make that better”?
ES: I’m not sure, i’m just really familiar with lighting inside CryEngine, just making stuff, cool scenes in CryEngine that’s what I did for a while, I just went in made forests, and rivers and all that sort of stuff in CryEngine. Posted it, it got a lot of feedback from people on those forums and yeah I thought I’d do it, I don’t know exactly why but I did it, and it worked out!
JH: And some of your work is already in the game. Area 18 tell us about lighting Area 18
ES: Oh it was a massive challenge, so many different areas of it, you have the large courtyard area in the front, you have these awe inspiring vistas, you got all these shops and blending those together properly is a pretty massive challenge, cause they all have all their own styles. So each shop has their own visual language to it right? So making sure that the lighting amplifies that? And builds off all the previous work done before on it, it’s a pretty massive challenge
JH: Alright so, you started on Area 18, then you moved into the Selfland Hangar, which we were all pretty pleased with, we used to show the images of your work on the Selfland in the Sneak Peek for a couple of weeks and then, it eventually went to release in 1.3 but some other issues impacted it and maybe, it didn’t quite the look the way we had all hoped. What can you tell us about that?
ES: Yeah, so there’s a pretty big difference between what we’re seeing in Profile and what we’re seeing in Release, we’re not exactly, entirely sure what’s causing that right now, we’ve identified a few things which may be causing the issue, specifically with the path for the time of day being loaded via Flow Graph, which is the visual scripting language we use. So we’re working on that right now, hopefully it’ll be in 2.0 but we’re not entirely sure. Something that we’re actually working on right now.
JH: Gotcha and after the Selfland you went into the Revel and York hangar, which would of course, some of that is in 1.3 but that work isn’t even finished yet right?
ES: Right no
JH: So not only is that work not finished but it’s also presumably affected by the same issue? I saw when I worked past your desk, you’re working on Crusader. So tell us a little bit about lighting for Crusader.
ES: Oh that’s, it’s massive right, the entire level is, I don’t even know how many kilometres it’s massive, it’s mind blowing. Yeah so we divide the level up into all these different pre-fabs which are, each station has their own pre-fabs. So we go in and we light a specific level first, then we package into a pre-fab and then we ship it off to the actual level and so it’s a massive challenge cause you have to juggle all these balls right? You, have to worry about the time of day configuration for each pre-fab level and you also have to worry about the HDR configuration, because you’ll want to change the HDR which is the auto exposure and the brightness in the scene, and that’s going to be different on each of the stations. So your Alpha Station is going to be brighter than your Bravo or Charlie Station which are the other stations within the level. So balancing that and finding the right balance between Alpha, Bravo and Charlie is a massive challenge
JH: I would imagine, with my limited experience with CryEngine just before starting here, nobody would say I had any grasp of lighting at all, it was easily the worst part of anything I did, I was not very good with the lighting. So I understand the challenge that’s involved in there. Before we let you go we’re going to do another segment, where we take a look at a more in-depth look on the lanes, we won’t harp on that too much here. Tell us something interesting about Emre Switzer, that maybe our fans, this is the first time they get to see it, meet you, you know Will Leverett is a storm chaser and Vanessa builds these tiny little swords and whatever, what do you do? What’s your thing?
ES: I mod games, and that’s why I’m here and I’m super blessed to be here. Yeah.
JH: Is there a mod you’re particularly proud of? Is there a mod that folks can still get, for a game, that you’re like “Yeah that’s an example of my work”
ES: Not really to be completely honest. I worked on a bunch of projects and just helped people out. If you guys are interested in learning more about CryEngine, check out the CryEngine Community Forum, there’s a lot of great stuff and a lot of great people on there, that really push and demonstrate what the CryEngine’s really capable of. Pretty involved community
JH: Emre thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Right, back to you guys.
22:50 – Back in the studio
BL: Thanks Emre. Tune in next week for more Emre and more Nyx! You Nyx want to miss it. Nope! That was terrible but we’re still using it because we don’t have another one.
BL: Nyx up. Nyx. Nyx up! We sat down with the Austin QA team to talk about what they do for Star Citizen. Check it out.
23:05 – ATV Behind the Scenes: QA
Justin Binford (JB): Hey I’m Justin Binford, I’m the QA Manager here, at Star Citizen, for the U.S. team, and I pretty much, do more like a project management role, I chase up a lot of issues but I built the team here and so far we got a great group of guys. What I like to do when I look for team members is I want them to have like a passion to be in the industry and to have a knowledge of particular aspect or discipline and that helps because QA pretty much encompasses all of our disciplines and everything comes together at a single point and QA is right there in the mix, with a front row seat on all the action. It’s pretty exciting but I like for people to specialise in one discipline or the other so they can really delve deep into the subject which also helps because multiple people have transitioned from QA into development and so that’s definitely an opportunity there and I think specialising in a particular aspect helps with that. That’s what I do, I pretty much gauge priorities and direct operations here, concerning QA, but yeah that’s me, so let’s go round in a circle here. Who we got here?
Tyler Witkin (TW): Hello! I am Tyler Witkin, also on the QA Team in the Austin Texas Studio. Most of what I do revolves around the first person shooter module or the FPS aspects, that are going to be coming in 2.0. That’s it. I’ll keep it simple. How about you?
Jeffrey Pease (JP): My name is Jeffrey Pease, the community knows me as Bearded CIG, I have no idea why. Most of the stuff I tend to take care of revolves around providing a support role to the QA team. I’m here to sort of provide a mentoring presence to the other specialists on the team because prior to my being here I was one of the only one’s that had experience being a QA specialist so I helped set that system up. I also helped look and understand the back end of the game so if something breaks in regards to matchmaking, or the general instance manager or if the game servers aren’t working … I try and look into that stuff and and help get people the information they need to add to their bugs so the engineers have a better idea of what to fix.
Robert Gaither (RG): Hey I’m Robert! I am probably the newest guy here, of everybody here, I’ve been here a few months now and I guess the specialty I have gone into now would be among the new baby PU, kicking it, yeah 2.0 that’s my thing. I’m really happy I got to do that too, it’s what I am most excited about, I think it’s really fun doing that.
JP: It’s the beginning of the game.
RG: Yeah! It’s awesome so like I’m really happy that I got to like, just kind of, worm my way into that.
JB: Yeah, Robert got his feet wet with the GamesCom demo. You were really integral in helping LA with their playtests, and you’d be dialing in and just kind of listening in and just making sure everything they mention was bugged and then you sent out a full report.
RG: Yeah it just kind of showed up, and it was like, I’m still trying to learn all these different things, on how to get the builds and they’re like here “Listen to these guys and put these bugs in as they’re saying them.” And it’s just like shouting at me, like, lightning speed I’m like “I can’t keep track of any of them”.
JB: Yeah it was a monumental effort. So from there you were definitely able to continue that and now you’re pretty much sending the updates for the Crusader 2.0. We also work really closely with the U.K QA team, so you have a counterpart; Stephen Brennan, and he’ll be sending out his 2.0 updates and you’ll add to that and keep it going kind of a follow the sun type situation.
RG: It’s a good situation.
JB: Normally we would get in the beginning of the day and read any updates that the U.K QA have they have been by the time we get to end for the day they’ll have finished about two thirds of their day they get in about 3AM our time. So about that time they have been kind of hammering on the boat for a while so we’ll get a lot of information from them, what we can test, what we can’t test and then we’ll just continue the effort, but, yeah so there’s a lot of testing going on. Robert you also have been working with the editor a lot so you do a lot of editor tasks.
RG: I wish I was doing more! That’s like my interest. I really want to get in there, I’ve been trying to get in and make buggy maps, that’s what I want to do. I want to make buggy flips and ramps! I’m going to try to sneak it in if nobody notices. I’m going to check in a level, that has a tiny little buggy ramp.
JP: The old version of the hangars had a buggy obstacle course in them,
RG: Yeah I know! I don’t know why you got rid of that it was awesome!
TW: A landing hoop you could jump through,
RG: Yeah! We need to make more of that stuff!
JB: Crates and barrels and like..
RG: Maybe people wouldn’t run each other down so much if they had a constructive thing to do with the buggies!
JB: Well luckily in the next build the buggies should be confined to the Construction Yard.
RG: You can still be violent but you keep it to your violent friends, I guarantee you that people will get that buggy out of that little area.
JP: Put like a little go-kart track in for the buggies, a demolition derby.
JB: So most of us specialise in different parts of the game. For example, Tyler will do a lot of the FPS testing. Pease, he’s actually done a lot of specific things like when we came out with the lobby system, he was really on top of testing that. Jeffrey Pease has basically helped to build the specialist department as a whole. Another thing Jeffrey’s done, which has been amazing, is he’s been very helpful in recording all our documentation. There’s a lot..
JP: Our entire QA wiki!
RG: Pretty much, write the entire wiki.
JP: And some of the customer support wiki too.
JB: So we have a super solid concept of what a specialist is and what their goals are and what their responsibilities will be. It’s definitely concrete and you know what to do, so when we get new hires they can go on there and we have so much documentation, we have a new hire walkthough and it just gets people hitting the ground running.
JP: Right! It’s also really awesome to have a boss that gives you credit for the stuff you do! Working here’s awesome.
JB: Yeah and Robert’s been specialising in 2.0 Crusader, of course and also testing the editor. That’s one thing we do here is we test all the tools and pipelines that the developers use. That’s why we need to specialize, like for instance if your into level design or art, then you’re testing all the tools that artists and designers are using. That can definitely get you where you need to be if you have aspirations to go into development.
RG: Previous jobs they just always just like, “Stay out of the editor, get out of that, that’s not your job. You don’t need to do that, that’s our job, you don’t know what you’re talking about”.
JB: But it’s super helpful because we help the development just keep moving forward if they happen to be blocked with some sort of editor bug because we’re changing the engines so drastically that it’s had some issues down in the editor.
RG: There’s constant new stuff going on in the editor. New tools they put in constantly.
TW: Cool thing about I guess being in QA, the thing I like about it the most is that every day is different we never know what to expect when we come in. Some days we have a little bit of normality, where we can come in, get a new build and work on a checklist and just knock that out different elements of the game, test new functionality of the game coming online. But then there’s other days when we have developers who are coming, “Hey I’ve got something coming online it’s coming in hot I really need this checked out and like X, Y, Z in all these different ways and all these different scenarios and those are fun, I think that’s probably some of my favourite work to do just because it gives us opportunities to get our hands dirty. An example of that, when they were getting ready for the motion capture shoot in Imaginarium, that’s another cool thing about working that I like especially like one of the things you look for when hiring you look for, things that people can do that maybe normal QA wouldn’t do, and you utilise people’s strengths, I really appreciate that by the way. So a lot of us were familiar with 3D modelling and with 3DS MAX and so we had the opportunity to go through all the ships and get all these different ship measurements and help out the animation team and preparing for the motion capture shoot and so we get a lot of oddball requests like that. Other than that it’s just going through builds checking new features, making sure that everything is up to standard that we want it to be.
JP: I get here early and what I try to do when I first get here is get a general idea of how stable the builds are so that when people get here I can be like, “Use this build, don’t use this build, this build pretend it doesn’t exist”. It’s just more efficient for the team in general to know which builds they should be spending their time downloading, because it takes like depending on how fast our network is going, it takes like ten to thirty minutes to download one of our builds, cause our game is massive and only going to get bigger. I guess depending on how compression technology advances….
RG: Usually a couple of different streams too.
JP: Yeah, yeah like sometimes you have to get two or three different builds, which is time consuming, it helps to have an idea of what works. And then once I have an idea of what works. I try to keep on top of regression as much as possible, because, regression testing is one of my … I’m such an advocate for regression testing, it forces you to spread out what you’re testing in the game because in the event that you finished regressing all of your stuff it’s really easy to be like, “Alright, well what’s the part of the game I haven’t tested for in while, that I can do regression on really easily.” I’ll search for all the tutorial bugs that are resolved and you then you just start regressing all the tutorial bugs but in the process of regressing all the tutorial bugs you find a bunch of other stuff that’s broken. Then as you do that you write tutorial bugs which then in the future forces you to go back and regress more tutorial stuff so it just branches out and forces you to test more of the game without even realizing it. It ends up being a really organic way of learning about how the game works and stuff like that, it’s also really important for me to regress the stability things that make the game break all the time.
RG: You’re the one that focuses on all of that.
JP: It’s my goal to try and get the game as stable as I possibly can. Less crashes please.
TW: Just in case anybody doesn’t know. Why don’t you say what regression is.
JP: Regression is where QA will go through all of the bugs that a developer has marked as resolved and go and retest them because either sometimes the bug will not be fixed, or it will be fixed but something else that is around that system will have broken in the process of it being fixed. Which is usually the case.
RG: It’s constant.
JP: Yeah. Usually if someone marks something as fixed, usually it’s fixed. Sometimes it’s not. Most of the time it is but also most of the time something else broke in the process.
RG: Usually if it’s a big bug you can expect when it gets fixed there’ll be a couple little bugs will pop up.
TW: You got five bugs, you fix one of them, so now you’ve have nine bugs.
JP: Like if I ever regress something and I don’t find something else that’s broken I feel like I missed something. I’d be like “alright this is fixed, there’s nothing else that went wrong: what am I missing?”
TW: Yeah. It’s really common that they’ll fix a bug because they think they know what’s wrong with it but it was actually something entirely different causing it. So it’s still present, so we reopen those issues.
JB: Yeah. It’s like the analogy I like to use is it is like peeling the layers of an onion.
JB: And you just keep peeling it. And one of those layers you pull of and a bunch of spiders could come out.
TW: That’s how it was yesterday when we were trying to get some screenshots for Marketing. And we were like “alright we’re in this one issue where we cannot get into this building because of whatever” and so we were figuring out all these different troubleshooting steps just get past that door that wouldn’t open. And then we finally get inside and we’re like “alright we’re inside, alright let’s pull out our weapons so we can get the screenshot” and we’re like “wait a minute I don’t have any weapons on my character”. Yeah so sometimes it’s like the layer of an onion. That’s the perfect analogy.
JP: Ogres have lairs. Onions have layers. Cakes have layers.
TW: Ogres have lairs?
JP: It’s a Shrek reference.
JB: Sometimes we could have an insane blocker and Production is like “okay if we fix this blocker then we’re good” and we’re like “no, because it blocks this entire part of the game and there could …“
TW: All the bugs are connected.
JB: “… there’s no telling what we’ll find when we get in there”.
JP: Like the build that we’re currently on, we spent two weeks getting rid of most of the client crashes and we’re like “alright we can log into Build now” and the servers crash all the time. All the time!
JB: Yeah, that’s one thing we’re doing with 2.0. We’re super on top of getting Production a list of “must fix” issues that we feel should be fixed before we go to the test environment. We’re definitely on top of that and have a pretty solid list right now.
JB: So Development pretty much knows what to work on to get us out there. But we’re trying as hard as heck to get it out to the PTU as soon as possible.
JB: Let’s talk a little bit about when things get crazy. Like when we start ramping up to a different release or a demo …
JP: Hours of overtime! Hours of overtime!
JB: Let’s talk about that a little bit. I guess I can start off with saying that we’ll start having daily syncs for whatever release we’re doing with Production and the stakeholders. And so we’ll be doing that every day. And we’ll be giving them updates on “must fix” issues. There will be a lot of frantic regression testing, because everybody start to really focus and get these things knocked out quickly and then we have to jump in and start regress test like madmen.
RG: And constant new builds to. Like every other hour I’m downloading another build.
TW: Constantly kicking them off, getting that next fix, that next change.
RG: And guaranteed at least one of them is going to be completely miraculously broken when it comes out.
RG: A whole level just gone for some reason and you have to wait another hour.
JB: When everybody starts to make changes to the same build, and the start to do a lot of fixes, then a lot more stuff can break.
JB: And so we have to be on top of that too.
RG: And the devs seem to test their own stuff less when they have ten things on their list to put in. They’ll just throw them in and won’t even look. They’ll let QA look at it and it’s like “no but now we can’t test anything because this broke”.
JB: Yeah. They have plenty on their plates.
TW: For releases and for when we’re demoing something at the conventions, it’s a lot of QA standing over developer’s shoulder, or a developer standing over the QA guys shoulder, and he’s like “alright, it’s in there: check it out, I just checked something in can we kick off a new build”, get that build as quickly as possible and check it and it’s like “aw, we need to change a few more things”. So it’s just a constant real time cycle. It gets really face paced.
JB: And we start working later hours …
TW: It’s exciting though. It’s exciting!
JB: … working on the weekend.
TW: Because that’s when all the puzzle pieces are coming together for either a big demo or for a big release.
RG: It’s like we spend a lot of time in QA where everyone is working on their stuff for a long period and we’ll not have anything fresh. So we’re looking at the same stuff as yesterday with a couple different changes. And then the flood hits where they all hit “check in” and everything happens at once. So we have two days to fix it.
JB: One thing, like you say, it’s a lot of fun. We try to have fun so every time we do have to do overtime it’s always optional but everybody is so gung-ho. We’re all fans of the game, so we really want it.
TW: I’m a kind of a fanboy!
JP: I’ve been a backer for so long my Aurora has LTI!
JB: We have developed a pretty healthy ownership of the game and we definitely want the best for it.
RG: That was my whole, interview, cover letter: “I love this game! Please let me work on it!”
JB: “Who do you want me to kill?”
TW: The best part about your interview, in your cover letter it said, what was it? “Who do you want me to kill?” Or “who do I have to kill to do this?” Your follow up, you know the professional thing to do, you know you wait a week or two and then you follow up with the person who interviewed you, and your follow up was “have you have you thought of a person yet?”
SG: I was serious though. No, no, serious!
TW: I was sold.
JB: A lot of running around with your hair on fire. A lot of following up with people, with other people who have their hair on fire.
JP: QA leads running around the building screaming obscenities and Tyler’s recording phone.
RG: We’re always going crazy with these issues and then somebody walks in and is like “hey can we get some screenshots for Marketing” and we’re like “No! Get out! Get out! We’re busy!”
JB: But we end up doing it anyway! And it all works out. There is a lot of frantic prioritising, mainly “you do this, no you do this and you do that”. Making sure everything is firing on all four cylinders. But at the same time I feel really confident that when that does happen we are actually firing on all four cylinders and we’re getting a lot done. Helping out the game a lot.
JB: But one good thing about the craziness that happens before release is just, it may be stressful but it completely slingshots the development forward. After the smoke clears and the dust settles we’re like “holy crap what do we have here? A completely different game!”
SG: It’s so satisfying to see that.
JB: And that happens every time. Super satisfying and fulfilling.
JB: So cool. Yeah. I’m glad we could do this. We were trying to fit this in and we kept postponing it because we were just testing like crazy on 2.0 Crusader but I think we probably, maybe, need to go back to work? Maybe?
SG: No. You guys go. I’ll stay here.
JB: I’m really glad we could do this.
JB: I had a lot of fun.
JB: But thanks a lot guys.
TW: Thank you. Quick sing a song …
SG: Don’t. Don’t.
41:26 – Gameplay Video
42:46 – MVP
BL: And now your MVP. This week’s award goes to El Dragon for his incredible Star Citizen pixel art. Check them out, they are very cool tiny ships. Here they are!
[Pixel art ships fly across the screen]
BL: And now, your Star Citizen Art Sneak Peek!
43:05 – Art Sneak Peek
[Nyx Landing Zone]
43:27 – Outro
BL: We’ll be talking more about that Sneak Peek not tomorrow because there’s no RTV this week, we will be back, live on January 8th and until then you’re just going to have to figure out what that was yourself.
BL: From everyone at Cloud Imperium Games, we’d like to say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and it’s been a pleasure creating this game for you, we can’t wait to do more. A special thank you to subscribers for making this show possible and we will see you next time on Around the Verse.