Citizens! Check here for notes from today's live show from the Gamescom show floor - including Erin Roberts and Chris Roberts interview notes.
What can we expect from what we have in the Gamescom demo versus 3.0 release?
Gamescom demo is one moon - they deactivated Quantum drive. 3.0 is the whole Crusader system plus space stations. Some of the systems are disabled in the Gamescom demo. There’s a huge amount of work that has gone into bringing all of the systems together. Trying to get 3.0 to everyone as soon as possible.
What have been the biggest blockers in the development of 3.0?
There’s a few. Getting all of the systems into place. Re-writing the entire multiplayer infrastructure - allowing server transfers so we can get more players in. Object container streaming is a huge piece as well and not all of it will even be in 3.0, some will come in 3.1. Pick up & carry and trading. Also, getting all of the character customization and weapons in. Getting ship items working. Getting all of it to work together is a big thing.
How many players in a server are you targeting for 3.0 release?
I don’t want to go into numbers right now but as many as we can. Will exponentially increase afterwards.
Can we expect 24+ players?
You can expect what we have now and probably more.
You can now focus on parts of your ship you want to interact with by pressing the F key. Will there be more added to this system?
You can press F and see what you can interact with. This ties in with the AI interaction system as well. They have routines - if they’re a maintenance person they will maintain the ship and fix things. You can follow an AI and watch them go through their daily routine - work, eating, sleeping, etc. Working towards the living, breathing world. As a player you can do a lot of the same sort of stuff.
Proper oxygen system in leads to inherent gameplay - you remove oxygen from a room and anyone not wearing their helmet may die. Also, you can kill power and affect life support systems.
Bounty hunting – would taking out an NPC take out a shop completely?
If you take out a shopkeeper, another would take it over eventually. Once proper AI is working, player won’t be stopped from killing people. Some places you’ll have to check your guns, but most locations you can use your weapons, but there may be significant consequences. Want systems with freedom, but with consequences.
Missions involving other players – counter missions, how will those work in 3.0?
Because they know what missions they create, they know what other missions to create to push players against each other. They know company has hired player X to protect a cargo run, but then on the seedier side a mission comes along saying there’s a cargo run, take it out, creates the mass PvP and PvE gameplay.
Can use lore to do this – pirates that dislike each other, etc… even at that later, can have group 1 protecting cargo, group 2 trying to take the cargo, then group 1 (in 3.1) will be able to do an APB to offer money to bring other people in to help out, completely player driven. Can affect the economy based on the local situation. Supply and demand. If a base needs materials, there’ll be missions created to get those.
3.0 has procedural moons, birth of survival mechanics in SC – oxygen, stamina, etc… - what else is planned for survival? Food, water?
Not for 3.0, but players will, as they go forward, be as immersed as possible. You will need to eat food, if you don’t, your life will go down. If you go without food you won’t run as well, you’ll lose health. Same with water. If you don’t shower, NPC’s will react differently. 2-3 days of real life playing the game, not 2-3 days game cycle. No timelines directly yet, those’ll be tested, but there will be a timeline that makes sense. Won’t be so much of a chore that it won’t be fun, but there need to be reasons why you need food, why you have dinner, etc…
Right now, everyone’s spawning into Daymar, everything has finite fuel. How will that work when planetside?
Call a friend with a Starfarer, etc… there will be stop off areas to get repairs and fuel though, and on some of the moons.
Cap ships? Idris? Javelin?
Coming along very well. They’re all used in SQ42, so they’re a big focus. Hope to show it very soon. They’re basically built outside in. No spoilers, but they’re doing Vanduul ships now as well. You’ll get in your Idris, be able to fly with friends, man turrets, etc…
What’s the most impressive ship to use so far?
Bengal is huge. Nate Dearsley’s team showed off some Bengal shots, it’s a hugely impressive ship. It’s 1km long. There’s a station in SQ42 that’s 12km long, fully fleshed out. It’s a large part of the SQ gameplay.
Origin rework? 600?
Coming along really well. Reworking all the ships, lots will drop with 3.0. Ship team have a really good pipeline going. Gladius’ been updated, lots of work updating and improving things.
Lots of excitement for careers. No mining at launch, but what will be in 3.0?
Cargo running – buy & sell cargo, missions’ll be created about that. Buy it, steal other people’s sell it, etc… Also bounty hunting, find and retrieve missions, and mining will be the next thing they work on after 3.0
When 3.0 comes out – players are used to spawning in Olisar if they’re good or Grim Hex if they’re wanted. Can we choose spawn points in 3.0?
3.0 is the first implementation of persistence. Ships and items will persist, also where you stop. If you fly to a location and log out there, you will reappear at that location. Where you end up and where you want to be, if you don’t have a ship you need someone to take you places. Also ship damage will persist. If your ship blows up you’ll need to get a new one from insurance. Players need to start being precious about what they have. For respawning, you’ll respawn in the last location with a medical station that you were in. They’re working on making sure people can’t gameify that too. If you’re in a ship and you log out in the middle of deep space, the ship will probably hang around for a bit, but then you’ll log in exactly there when you log in again. Lots of work to do as systems start working, people will start to play the system, then they’ll find ways to fix that.
3.0 is a huge implementation
Huge undertaking. When people see what’s in there, systems, mobiGlas, everything, Gamescom are just wandering in 1 planet, there’ll be loads of things to do.
How is netcode coming along? Can we expect a framerate improvement?
They’ve torn out everything they had before. It wasn’t built to do anything to scale, so the network team have been rebuilding the core tech. Lots of that’s in. There’s still more to do, but lots of the work isn’t just that they have to rewrite things, it’s also about making sure that what happens is the gameplay programmers have to take that work, and make sure gameplay is calling the proper routines. Network team rewrites everything, then engine team and game programming team move over to it. They’ve been doing this for months. Should notice a lot better latency. At launch there’ll be bugs, but things will be much faster. Everything they’ve done is the basis for the server transition stuff. When a server can control anything from a room to a system and they can transfer people from server to server, then everyone can be in one game universe. If 500 guys want to be in one room, that whole room will be one server, and when they leave, they’ll be passed on to other servers. They want everyone to play in the same universe, without instances.
Not too long ago there was an AtV describing how to reduce data between client and game, sending everything in bursts network-wise. Will games run cleaner as they run longer?
That’s due more to a slow memory leak, the longer the server’s up memory gets corrupted and causes problems. In that case they’re trying to hunt down those leaks. What they’re talking about with the burst transmissions; if you’re the client, you only care about what’s around you, not if there’s a ship on the other side of the solar system. The ship has to care about everything, it has to keep all the physics and everything. Client may be running at 40 fps, but the server’s only running at 10, so everything’s fine on your side, but it takes too long to get info from the server cause it’s struggling. For 3.0 they’ve been working on getting server times back to where they need to. Servers run at 30 fps now, which will lead to a huge increase for everyone else. Getting packet size down helps latency and lots of other things, and having the server able to cope with the load helps hugely too.
Saw Eckhart last year. Approaching him and getting a mission. How multiple people trying to use a quest giver be handled?
There’ll be a queuing system in place. If there’s a lot of people going to the same guy in one go, whoever takes the seat next to him, they’ll work on that. They don’t know what the load will be like; right now there’s just one or two mission givers, so it’ll be busy, but when they have more they’ll see how busy they get, and work on that there. They want to work out something where, say Eckhart is there, you can click on a seat next to him, and wait for the person to leave and then switch over to that seat. That’s how it works now, might be changed later.
You’ll be able to share missions yes. In 3.0 you can link to your friends when you’re quantum driving so they all jump at the same time, and more work on getting friends into games together easier. Work is ongoing now, but it will be in 3.0, being able to get in with friends more easily.
Currently you land your ship at a landing, and your ship is cleared away till you need it again. There’s air traffic control that’ll tell you where to land. If you want to go buy commodities, you put them in the ship, and they’ll be there for you when you need to leave. Hangars will be instanced, not in 3.0, but you will eventually be able to go to instances of your own hangar.
When you die in space, you spawn at the last medical facility. Temporary? Can you get your ship ordered there?
Yes, you can get a ship ordered there, but if you’re flying in an Aurora you can get one quickly. If you’re flying in an Idris, they don’t make them every 5 seconds, but there will be a time before you get a new one. Lots of players might need more than one ship to fly various ones as they’re being rebuilt.
Costs and challenges of operating a Cap ship?
Fuel will be big. Idris is a ship that you need to fly with friends / guild. It requires so many positions. One person could pilot it, but they couldn’t do weapons, turrets, if power systems go down you need an engi to fix things, etc… if you turn off the power, the power’s down. If the power doesn’t go through a conduit, if fuses get blown, you might need to reroute power to get shields back, or to go a fuse box and put a new one in to get the shields back online, etc… when people first get on their Idris, they’ll probably want to do training drills to get good and ready. People will go around repairing stuff, there’s weapons, shields, engines, system hacking, so you need people who can defend against that…
Vehicles – electronic access REC. Will there be a way in 3.0 to rent a ship?
You’ll be able to buy it using Alpha UEC. If you have a ship to fly, great, but you’ll be earning money in 3.0, so you can buy items for your ships and ships themselves. Might not make 3.0, might be 3.1, but yes. System’s still being explored, there’ll be more on it in AtV in the future, when they cover 3.1.
Players interacting w each other – What’s the intention for people who own large ships but only want to play singleplayer?
AI you can hire, though they won’t be as good as a human player. Not planned for 3.1 yet, but they’re working n that.
What’s the most impressive thing that’s been fixed in the leadup to 3.0?
One thing they can’t talk about, might find out in a few days. But getting items 2.0 functionality is one of the biggest wins in terms of interactivity. Could go for ages on all the tech under the scenes, lots of work from multiplayer to render, some of the render to texture stuff is crazy, lots of new tech they’ll love to show off… at some point!
And that’s it.
Question SQ42 – how far along is it?
Have to wait a little longer. It’s going really well, not showing it at Gamescom because Chris wants it at a certain level of polish. Lots of things they show in AtV, and some from 3.0, is specifically being used for SQ42. Some things like the Planet tech has also gone into SQ42 too. There are cases where you go down on moons or planets. Lots of high quality performance and motion capture data, making sure that when characters are moving they look great and fluid going from AI pathing to merging scenes with characters. Trying to make you feel like you’re part of the story and not just hanging with AI. It will be worth the wait.
Is there one specific feature that you’re really proud of right now, something you thought you wouldn’t achieve?
Planetary tech. This will be the first time the community can go and land, in the case of 3.0, moons or an asteroid planetoid. Fully realized, can circumnavigate the whole thing if you wanted to. The amount of additional playable area that comes into the game now is huge, the game will open up a lot because of that planetary tech. It’s really exciting, there’ s a lot of gameplay that will come out of it, and it’s one of the reasons things are taking longer than they’d like. Once they’ve opened up the potential of the planets though, they need to make sure there’s stuff to do. They’re not just creating the planets, but also systems, eco systems, flora, fauna, things to make it alive, things to do, things to procedurally create outposts or towns or villages beyond just the landing zones. The original version of SC was aiming to be more like Freelancer; couldn’t explore the landing zones. You’d go from in orbit to transition to a few locations in a town. Now they have whole worlds opened up. Amount of potential for exploration long-term, and for players to do things, create their own base or settlement, lots of gameplay potential. Just seeing the beginnings of it in 3.0.
SQ42 – Will there be any new things on Friday, teaser or anything?
Not at Gamescom.
What’s the big part that’s missing from finishing SQ42? What’s holding it back?
Trying very much to get the quality of the animation and the AI movement to be equivalent to what you see in prerendered cinematics. They spent time shooting with actors, 100 days of performance capture. Most big movies won’t shoot for more than 100 days. For the amount that CIG have, there’s a vast amount of performance data and animation and story, really want to make sure it comes across so when you’re playing and moving around and talking to Old Man or the various other characters that you’re playing the game alongside, because you’re basically in a movie as opposed to Wing Commander 3 and 4, you were the stuntman flying the ship, then you’d see what Mark Hamill does, in this case it’s you, you just happen to be the lead star in the movie. Getting that to the fluidity they want, cause it’s a huge story, it taking longer than anticipated.
So missions and stuff are further done?
They’re still working on final assets, but all the missions and chapters are blocked out. Each chapter would be several missions in say Wing Commander. They’re somewhere between white and grey boxes. They’re taking certain levels to finished. One section of the story they were talking about last year they’re still doing. They’ll be showing something at some point, but not this gamescom, and Chris would hate to make promises cause last year he said they wanted to, but it didn’t get to the point they were happy with and everyone was upset, and Chris felt back because they still showed some fantastic stuff, which in Chris’ mind was great stuff, but the hype of that was affected by them not showing SQ42. Animations and AI, going for a level of AI you don’t normally have, so when you’re on a ship you’re serving on, the Stanton which is an Idris, all the crew have a schedule. They get up in the morning, go eat breakfast, go to their job, eat after dinner, etc… and sleep, there’s a whole schedule and cycle. Almost a level of sims simulation for AI. They’ll also use that for the PU. Dialing that in while getting subsumption working; in 3.0 all missions run off subsumption, and in SQ everything uses subsumption now too, whereas before it used an older cryengine system. Getting everything dialed in to look as good or better than everything else.
How is SC designed to be experienced? One monitor? Two? Gamepad? KBM? Joystick?
Kind of hard to say. They build the game to support everything, from joystick to gamepad to KBM. All have pros and cons. For running around on foot FPS, KBM is probably best, for flying Joystick probably is. Mouse flight might be too easy or give an edge, but when they show stuff off, and Chris doesn’t want to spoil Friday, but it’s better to have a joystick. For Chris, he hasn’t set it up yet, but a nice wide monitor, 4k across, switch between HOTAS and MKB.
Last question – Is there someone who’s stopping you, saying Chris, you have all these ideas, but we have to finish the game, we go to this point, then we just do it.
In the case of Star Citizen, the concept of finishing a game is probably pretty loose. The time they stop adding stuff is probably when it dies as an online game. They’ll always add features and content to keep it alive. The moment they stop adding functionality, that’s when the game’s dead. EVE 10 years later, WoW, etc…
Question is more when 1.0…
Why version 1.0? At this moment if you back SC, you can download 2.6.3, 3.0 very soon, you’ll be able to go from moons. In 3.1 when Hurston and Stanton are in, you’re getting the game as it happens. It’s not like we’re not giving it to you till a certain point, traditionally a publisher’ll work on a game, they’ll tell you about it, but you won’t get to play it till right before it comes out. You’re not playing what EA’s developing two or three years before they’re building it. With SC, the idea of a finish line in a SC sense doesn’t make sense. They have a fairly set set of general features, but as new things come online like the planetary tech, they need to do new things to make things interesting, so they add new things to make it good, and ultimately Chris wants to make the most interesting experience he can. He wants to get it to the point where he feels like he’s adding additional stuff vs. getting the basic functionality in.
And that’s all for Chris.
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