Greetings fellow Citizens! Check here for The Relay’s coverage of Around the ‘Verse episode 43 including images, GIFs, and transcript!
– Sandi and Ben
– The Hull series is over. A Hull lot of people picked up the new ships. And CIG are done with Hull puns, what the Hull.
– The Monthly Update for April went out last week, and it broke the website. Longest update to the CIG website ever, and they discovered there’s a character limit to the CMS. If they ever have more to say, they’ll have to split it into 2 monthly reports
– 81 million. Truly incredible.
– Bugsmashers made its debut yesterday. Only bad news about that is Ben can’t shout BUGSMASHERS anymore.
– And now to the Spectrum!
Santa Monica: Darian Vorlick and Travis Day
– Been working on the Repair mechanic. From large to small, physical to data driven (getting in and actually fixing things vs. doing an assessment of damage), but they’re trying to have something that allows you to do things electronically (IT repairs) as well as more mechanical (get inside the ship, open things up, replace them, etc…)
– Calix is focused on that and he’s been working on that actively.
– This will eventually tie in the Repair Bot stretch goal. Tying in things that can be done automatically by lesser beings like repair bots vs. things that have to be done by hand.
– In the theme of electronics, Matt Sherman is looking at the EWAR segment. The idea of being able to hack into an opponents system and sending a signal to shut down their thrusters, or make their computer glitch out, not necessarily to take control of their ship, but using EWAR to Jam or Spoof their radar…to screw with them.
– For those who like to tinker with EWAR, both the repair and the EWAR system are good for people who want to get into the technical aspect of the game.
– Very important to the design team – it’s not something you can passively do. You need to actively do it, and you need to outfit your ship to do it. You can’t hop in a Hornet Gunboat and go hack people left and right, and there’s no button that just says hack. No ‘hack’ button or progress bar. You’ll have to get good at it.
– The Reliant – 2 person starter that the community voted on. The ship makes heavy use of Xi’An tech, so the idea that MISC is heavily influenced by Xi’An, they have a deal with them. We’ll see more in the Reliant than in the other ships. Very cool, they’re wrapping up final designs and renders to check out.
Illfonic: David Langeliers and Chuck Brungardt
– Network optimization. Lots of the work going on is to get things running as smooth as possible over the network. Lots of stuff with FPS network wise. One of the issues with network bandwidth in playtests were ‘rigid body entities’. There are a lot of destructibles, a lot of props in the environment that can be knocked over, kicked over, etc… starting to cause a problem. Network guy at Illfonic has been working with the guys at Wyrmbyte, and they’ve been helping with iPredictor stuff, which is used heavily in dogfighting. They’re applying it to rigid bodies for FPS. Does prediction so it can throttle bandwidth. So, if you kick something, it predicts where it’s going to be. It doesn’t have to be as spot-on as a player, but it needs to land in the correct position for all clients, and it needs to move in the correct position across all clients as well, cause it’s a major thing for gameplay
– That’s a lot that’s been going on this week and last to tighten up performance. They’re about to hit playtesting pretty hard to see how all the changes work.
– In general, means smoother gameplay. More players in the match at once, and just a smoother gameplay experience.
Austin: Jake Ross, Billy Lord, and David Jennison
– Working on FPS characters.
– General polish to make them more awesome, but the artists have been using techniques on the ships to get the most out of CryEngine, and they’ve been moving those techniques over to the characters as well.
– They’ve been working on every character, but focused on medium marine, light marine, light outlaw, working with Forrest out in LA on that.
– They’ve been doing material and texture polish, but they’re bringing up the quality for everything in general.
UK: Danny Reynolds
– Tutorial’s been out on the PTU now for a few weeks. They’ve been checking reddit and forums for feedback. They’ve changed some main issues such as:
– Strafing too quickly while in the hangar, so they’ve reduced the speed, to be able to navigate the hangar more easily.
– Hard to determine which ship to get into, there are now objective markers above the ship, indicating which to get into.
– Added reminder hints for lots of the hints that people could skip. Any of the actions that need to be completed to finish the tutorial will repeat every 15 seconds till the action is finished.
– They changed the ‘Barrel Roll’ line to be an ‘Axle Roll’, because people hate fun. And it’s more precise. But people hate fun.
– Give them feedback, they use it to improve things.
Fan AC Video. Some…messed up stuff going on.
– Talking to Dave and Christine at Behaviour again, because they’re awesome, and I owe them shots.
– Talking about new subscriber flair series.
– The series has an Italian name. They checked just before doing the show, but they’re mispronouncing Puglisi anyway. *sigh*
– The collection is an explorer’s collection. It’s a company, Puglisi, will send to every subscriber an ‘oddity’ from space that they can collect and put in their hangar. Comes in a cool case with an inscription about the object
– This month it’s a piece of Ellis, a destroyed moon.
– From Alexis, it’s a fancy space-rock.
– There will be more of this series in the future. Every other month there’s a Takuetsu model, and for a while every other month will be a Puglisi model.
– Behaviour also worked on something called ‘Hyper Vanguard Force – Hyper Vanguard Force started at lunch. Dave usually goes and does pixel art in a cafe, and he decided to take his passions (pixel art and SC) and turn them into something. He turned a Hornet into a shoot’em’up game, got some traction, Ben saw it, and people thought he should do a game with that, so they did. Because that’s Star Citizen.
– Christine likes projects on the side, and Dave mentioned he was going to do it, so they worked on it together. Gave them some creative outlet. And it actually looks pretty good!
– If you’re a subscriber, the flair will be in your hangar soon. Tomorrow in the comm-link, we’ll be able to play Hyper Vanguard Force.
JP – Thanks guys, I’m here with designer Pete Mackay, Pete, how are you?
PM – Pretty good, how are you?
JP – Pretty good, thanks for coming on. It’s good to see you out here in Santa Monica.
PM – Yeah, it’s been a bit.
JP – When was the last time you were here?
PM – I left this time last year, so it’s been about a year I guess.
JP – Cool, so what’re you here for?
PM – I’m doing a bunch of stuff with thruster balance. Doing stuff with thruster upgrades and how they swap between ships, it’s pretty cool stuff.
JP – So was it like a little summit or did you come here by yourself?
PM – Yeah, I traveled from Austin by myself, but John Pritchett is out here. So it’s primarily me, John, and Matt Sherman, and Dan and Calix getting involved where they need to, making sure things match up with what they need to get done.
JP – So what goes into making that pipeline? DO you want to get everything normalized so you can pass it off or?
PM – So, right now, my part of it is I build excel tools that allow us to do calculations on a really granular level on the individual parameters that make up a thruster, but then building a thruster, all of those individual parameters, and then putting it on a ship, and being able to model, in excel, how that ship will perform. So, we can tweak a very granular value on how much thrust should this put out, and then we can look and say oh, well, now this ship takes, will accelerate this much faster, or will slide this much longer because the speed has changed or whatever, it just gives us a really big set of data that we can use to understand ship performance, with the driving goal of that being determining upgrade paths. What ships should have parts that are compatible with each other, what types of upgrades should be available, so yeah, it’s a tool that lets us visualize all that stuff.
JP – When you get a new ship, how do you look at it. Do you just look at the information you already have based upon this other ship, or do you take it as a brand new thing each time?
PM – It’s a combination of both those things. There’s, when I set up an excel I set up a sheet for each ship, and i go through and I model each of the hardpoints that ship has. Then, with each of those hardpoints, it generates a list of data, how much power is this hardpoint consuming, how much heat is it potentially generating. Basically the resource management part of it. Based on that, we generate a range of performance data. Not movement data, but performance on other aspects of the ship. Then we take all of that and aggregate it into another sheet so we can see all of the ships at the same time and see, if we make a change here, we can watch and see all of the ships as they change in relation to each other. Pretty detailed.
JP– The last thing I was working with you on was the Hull, I remember sitting late working with you waiting for the post to go live.
PM – Yeah, Dan grabs me as, I was out the door when I got the call for that, was walking to the parking lot and he’s like hey, can you give us a hand with this?
JP – Ben was sitting there saying, Pete Mackay’s just sitting in Austin, messing with thrusters.
PM – yeah. By the time I left, I was the last person in the office.
JP – So, besides the Hull, what kinds of ships are you working on now?
PM – Actually we started on the Starfarer. Started to model that. We went through and figured out where the thrusters are going to go. Now we know how many thrusters and where they’re going to be, I can start working out how much thrust they’ve got to have to give us the performance statistics that we’re looking for.
JP – Starfarer has been getting some love lately, so maybe it’s fortuitous that you’re working on it right now.
PM – Yeah, yeah, well, I just got the notification of it last night, so we just started working on it this morning. But I guess we have a sale coming up pretty quick.
JP – … yeah.
PM – Should I not say that?
JP – Hopefully we can leave this part in.
PM – We’ll just cut that out.
JP – Alright, well, Pete, thanks for sitting with us, it’s great to have you out here in Santa Monica. I’m sure people are loving the thruster work you’re doing. I mean, it’s not the first thing people see, but it’s the first thing they feel.
PM – Definitely. more than any other item that can go on a ship, the thrusters are…you can feel it immediately.
JP – Alright, thanks again, back to you guys.
– Pete is not just a designer and weatherman. He’s also CIG’s resident DJ. He spins.
– Ben sat down with some designers about controller balance.
Ben – Welcome to a Star Citizen round-table here with our design team in Santa Monica. We’re talking about everyone’s favourite topic, controller balance, cause it’s been an ongoing debate since probably before the project existed. We try to reassure people that it’s an ongoing process, we’re trying to get towards our concept of you being able to play the game with whatever the hell you want. Today I’m joined by the people actually making that happen, so lets go around the table and introduce yourselves.
DT – I’m Dan Tracy, lead technical designer here
CR – I’m Calix Renault, technical designer
MS – I’m Matt Sherman, technical designer.
CR – All technical designers *gasp*
Ben – How excited were you guys to hear that we were gonna talk about controller balance?
CR – Well, I continue to strongly believe that we should have controllers in the game.
DT – That’s a good notion.
CR – That’s basically where I’m coming from.
MS – Games need input.
Ben – The metrics bear you out.
DT – I also just realized what Matt is wearing, it’s perfect (he’s wearing a shirt with old NES controllers on it)
MS – Yeah, I actually thought we were filming this tomorrow, so I blanked on wearing this today. Happy coincidence.
Ben – Star Citizen! A happy coincidence!
CR – We’ve actually been talking pretty recently about doing a full controls refactor. We keep putting in these different systems, and every time we do, we have to figure out how are you actually going to interact with any of these things, and there’s actually a number of mechanics that don’t have input at all. The most glaring of which is being seen in the tutorial is that you cannot throttle your acceleration. When you’re leaving the Hangar, unless you’re in decoupled mode, it’s very very easy to go flying up and crashing. We have the ability to throttle acceleration, but you don’t have a button for it. That’s one of the things that, control disparity aside, we need to completely revisit all of our controls, because there’s a lot of things that, as things come online, we have to factor that into how the game is designed.
DT – I think just taking a step back at it, you have to look at it from the top level which is, again, all of the controls in the game, control over your IFCS, control over whether you have ComStab on, targeting, missiles, all of that needs to play into how all of our controls are set up on mouse and keyboard, on the HOTAS, or even trying to do that on a gamepad. It’s difficult to balance all of those all the time. Like Calix is saying, adding more features is going to add more and more button presses to make things happen, so we’re also trying to do with the reflectors is streamlining a lot of this so you have the most used buttons on demand at the most used locations. So anything that really really makes sense, and this is something I’ve been pushing for as well, is moving to more of a unified set up, where you have similar designs across flight as well as FPS, so as soon as you transfer out of the ship, your movement controls feel very samey, so i want to go forward, I want to go back, and it makes sense across the board. So, you have to imagine like, it’s weird when you think about it. A controller for a gamepad, when you’re using your typical FPS, you’re running with the left stick and aiming with the right stick. In flight, you’re using that for pitch instead of for throttle, like, sure a lot of games translate that over to, with racing, is using triggers as throttle, but we’re using the triggers as the meaty button, you’re using for more so for direct firing control, so a lot of this stuff needs a lot of audience feedback as well, and we appreciate the very… verbose audience we have with controller inputs. But everyone’s going to have their own unique control setup, so we’ve even seen on our analytics, the one guy who actually uses the wheel
CR – The wheel with the pedals. He’s one of the better flyers that we have. He’s up there ruining our curves. I like that guy.
MS – Cause no-one expected that. Wait, a 325 and a steering wheel is one of the best combos?
DT – Sold
CR – Have at it, you know?
Ben – So, lets talk about those metrics. How do we measure how successful a particular control system is right now?
MS – Well, right now we’re actually still getting a lot of this built up. We’ve got some great analytics software, we’re using something called Tableau (?) that we can just punch in raw data for as we build hooks for it into the server so, first we have to know what we want to track. Hit chances, destruction, who’s using what weapons, who’s using what ships, and then building in those hooks so we can track this, watch this, check against different game modes so we can see, what’s the best setup in Vanduul Swarm vs. Squadron Battle vs. Battle Royal vs. Capture the Core, and so the long-term is, we’re still just getting everything built out, getting all these hooks in, and it’s slowly starting to come together to give us a better picture. I think there’s a big perception that there’s a wild swing for top performance for the controllers, but the variance isn’t quite so bad as I think some people perceive it to be.
Ben – What are we looking at right now? We look at the leaderboards right? What are people using right now?
MS – The most successful scheme right now is either a keyboard and mouse, or a combination of joystick and mouse. They’re a little more than 50% of the top base collectively overall, but it’s not…they’re not like, 70%+, there’s still a good 40% of HOTAS-centric users performing well. It’s definitely harder, it’s something we need to look at between either how we handle gimbaled weapons or how we handle fixed weapons. It’s definitely in a better place than I think some people are worried it’s at, and…just with time, more development, more iteration, it can only get better.
Ben – Well, thank you guys for getting together and talking about me with this. I have a feeling we’ll get together and do this many more times. Appreciate it, and…back to you guys!
– Balancing is a very difficult task, but we have the best guys in the world working on it.
– Hey guys, and welcome back to Ship Shape! *graphic still pending*
– Josh Coons and Chris Smith have been working on the Connie. They’ve been working on updating it with three things in mind.
– More detailed, more functional to fit in the SC world. Bulkhead to separate the cockpit from the living area has been added. A weapon rack has been added to the living area, and a missile reload system has been added to the cargo area.
– Another big thing is making the ship, especially the exterior, is making it more in line with the RSI manufacturer feel. Making it more in-line, more functional, hard angles, making it cooler.
– Third thing is making the ship compatible with the modular system. They’ve been developing it to make sure it’s easier to create variants, and for backers to customize ships after they’re out.
– For example, it makes it easier for CIG to change things such as the nose and tail of the ship.
– That’s it for Ship Shape this week. Look forward to getting behind the flight stick of the Connie when Multicrew goes live.
– Let them know on the forums what ships you want to see featured on Ship Shape.
– Starfarer will be back on sale starting Tomorrow (Friday)
– They’ll be making the Starfarer Gemini, militarized variant, available. Learn about that tomorrow.
– What could it be! It’s Starfarer interiors. Because of course it is.
– And the exterior. Looks very pretty. Big guns. Sexy ship.
– Sandi’s going to be away for a couple weeks. Going to London to shoot SQ42.
– She might check in with some updates from London.
– And thats it.