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Subscriber Town Hall: July, 2017 Written Tuesday 1st of August 2017 at 11:00am by CanadianSyrup

As per usual, anything said during the show is subject to change by CIG and may not always be accurate at the time of posting. Also any mistakes you see that I may have missed, please let me know so I can correct them. Enjoy the show!

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

  • Today's Subscriber Town Hall featured two members of the VFX team: Staffan Ahlstrom, and Michal Piatek
  • One thing they impressed was the challenge of scaling VFX in the game. In previous projects they've worked on they only had to deal with a fixed camera angle and having to scale effects from close to very far is quite challenging.
  • Flying through clouds and affecting the look of them by creating swirls in your wake isn't something that's planned for right now as it takes a lot of work to make something like that happen. If they did decide to do it, it more than likely would be a bit of "Magic".
    • Sonic booms are planned, however they're working on implementing a tech that will allow not only for that to happen, but be used for other effects like shields and have them change dynamically based on the shape of the ship instead of the way they are now which is a static generic block shape of the ship.
  • There will be a difference between effects in space and in atmosphere. They have a whole set of atmospheric VFX coming online soon and they're also taking gravity into account down the road when it comes to VFX.
  • They showed off two gifs of the shouldered rail gun, but when asked about the Idris rail gun and if its been worked on they said it was a good question, with a smile.
  • Footprints, impacts, and other things left behind by players won't last very long in the current game, but they're working on a tech which will allow for a much longer duration that can be affected dynamically. So they do want to have ship imprints, and of the likes last awhile, but for now it's only a short time.


  • The Town Hall has Begun! On the show today are two members from the VFX team at the Foundry 42 U.K. Studio.

  • Staffan Ahlstrom and Michal Piatek are responsible for a variety of Visual effects in Star Citizen and currently have been busy with stuff for 3.0, Squadron 42.

  • Getting into questions: [What are your favourite challenges for creating VFX for this ground breaking game?] Michal: His previous experience with RTS games had a fixed camera and making effects for those games were fairly straight forward, but for Star Citizen you have to be able to scale the effects from close to far. There's quite a few times He's worked on an effect and it looks great from one perspective, but from another it looks awful.

  • [Will we be able to fly through clouds and create swirls?] That question is more for the graphic team, not so much VFX because the clouds and the likes are much broader tech that's handled by different people than VFX. You would have to use smoke and mirrors to make that effect, but it's very difficult to do and it would be great to do, but not anytime soon.

  • [From what do you draw your inspiration?] Staffan: It's not mainly other games, they look at big movies that have spent millions in their VFX budget. They also tend to look at movies with a sci-fi theme. Sci-fi books also are a source for Michal sometimes in how the authors describe the visuals without seeing them.

  • [Can you tell us a bit about the work that goes on in interior ship VFX?] They showed the inside of the Caterpillar that has had significant damage. The room is dark with red emergency lights, filled with smoke, fire and sparks. Michal talks about how effects aren't universal. Each ship manufacturer has a different feel when it gets damage so something like the Caterpillar won't be like a Misc for example.

  • [Any VFX work being done on water? Foam, etc] Caleb in Germany is the guy to ask about that.

  • [How big is the VFX team?] 6 total. Caleb in Germany handles planetary effects, also in Germany, Developer, Ollie handles cinematic effects. In U.K. there's Staffan who does weapons, Michal who does ships, and a new member that joined a few months ago. There's also Mike whose the VFX lead.

  • [In one of the latest ATV's there was a shot of a person walking and leaving footprints behind, will there be more things like that for us to leave our mark?] There are plans, but not necessarily anything concrete. If a big shipped landed they would like to have the imprint on the ground. Something small like someone crawling on the ground may be too much when you bring in performance impacts in and having everyone's marks being tracked.

  • They're showing a few effects.

  • [How long do you expect the effects like footprints to last?] With the current system there isn't a way to make a footprint last because of how the footprints are spawned, they're particles with decals. The new system they're designing allows for a much more dynamic approach for impacts, footprints, etc. So right now they don't last long, but in the future they'll last longer.

  • [What visual effect has been your favourite to make and see?] Michal: The Drez effect when you die in Star marine and little cubes form as you disappear. He took some inspiration from TRON to make it. His second was a high tech explosion.

  • https://cdn6.24live.co/images/2017/08/02/1501612195553794.png

    • That effect will be the basis for future ones like it.
  • [Will we see sonic boom effects when we pass through the sound barrier in atmosphere?] It's something they want to happen, but unfortunately it's quite complicated to look good so they're looking into it with some technology that allows it to be rendered, but also be very cheap performance wise. That tech will also allow for more effects in atmosphere as well and GPU particle effects as well, but it's still a ways off.

  • https://cdn6.24live.co/images/2017/08/02/1501612613991823.png

  • https://cdn6.24live.co/images/2017/08/02/1501612638805384.png

  • Hard to get a good shot while the railgun was charging and firing, but there's some screenshots of a small video they showed. The trail effect isn't final and they said that video was quite old actually.

  • [What kinds of effects can we expect on personal items like cracked helmets, burns, etc.] There will be cracked helmets, with something like bullet holes it can be very difficult because hitting say a pipe, the decal would look awful as it wouldn't be flush. They would be more akin to making really good burns.

  • [Is there a difference for how you make effects for outerspace and atmosphere?] There are some effects that have minor and major differences. Something like an explosion in space will be more spaced because there's no gravity, but in atmosphere there's gravity. They have a whole set of new VFX for atmosphere coming online soon.

    • They're also considering changing the engine effects in atmosphere as well. It's a lot of work so some of the effects that are different won't be drastic, but they'll be subtle.
    • They also are taking gravity into account as well in the future with effects so it won't be just atmosphere and space effects, but a scale within the atmosphere.
  • [Any plans for shield effects rework] Yes the current shields are not done by the VFX department, but the new shields will be designed to take into account ship shape rather than a generic blocks as they are now. So if a hornet loses both wings, the shield will adapt to that and you won't see a ghost image anymore.

  • [Have you done any work on the Idris rail gun?] That's a very good question...

  • [How do real physic aspects interact with the artistic way of your job? There's no sound in space, but there is in the game, what ways have you had to go for fun instead of realistic] The railgun is one example because a real railgun is quite boring, especially the trail because there's nothing.

    • The VFX team aren't the only ones who have to make these decisions as there are quite a few things in reality that are boring for a game and so finding a balance is important because having a very realistic game is boring, but too crazy is too much.
  • Michel apparently won a contest for doing real time effects and had to change from one object by blowing apart and then forming into another.

  • Housekeeping for the week. Bugsmashers tomorrow, ATV Thursday, no Happy Hour Friday. Also the it's the last day to pickup the Tumbril Cyclone. There also won't be another Townhall because they'll be at Gamescom.


Director of Transcripts

A polite Canadian who takes pride in making other peoples day brighter. He enjoys waffles with Maplesyrup, making delicious puns and striving for perfection in screaming at the T.V. during hockey games.