Comm-Link:Monthly Report - July 2014
July was a big month for Star Citizen! The long battle with rubber-banding tested our resolve at times, but we finally achieved victory! We’re ecstatic with the results of all our work: Arena Commander’s multiplayer is playing like we originally intended.
We’re eager to move on to integrating other portions of the larger game… including those that have been in simultaneous development across our studios and outsource partners! August will see several big events, including Chris’ presentation at Gamescom and presentations at PAX East and Dragon*Con. Expect to see some cool parts of the Star Citizen universe in the coming weeks!
- 1 CLOUD IMPERIUM SANTA MONICA
- 2 CLOUD IMPERIUM AUSTIN
- 3 FOUNDRY 42
- 4 BHVR
- 5 CGBOT
- 6 FPS TEAM
- 7 TURBULENT
- 8 MOON COLLIDER
CLOUD IMPERIUM SANTA MONICA
Travis Day, Dogfight Producer
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that you already know a lot of what Cloud Imperium Games Santa Monica has been focusing on! Our engineers have been working the rubber banding problem since the release of 12.4, and we’re so happy that the fix is finally out. Eliminating rubber banding (and in the process so many other issues) involved taking several aspects of Arena Commander (including our very complex physics system) apart, examining all the pieces and then hoping they fit back together correctly. But the early word is they do, and 12.5 is the best multiplayer experience yet!
If you’re interested in some very specific details about this process, please check out the “patch update” posts released during each week of 12.5’s development. To make a long story short, though, every single member of the Santa Monica team went above and beyond to get this thing out, whether that meant playtesting in their spare time or working until the wee hours rewriting physics code.
Arena Commander isn’t the only thing expanding this month, though: the office itself is growing. We’re in the process of moving the Community team (and several others) into additional office space next door, which will give us room to grow the team here. One thing that’s allowing us to do is move the ship production pipeline to Santa Monica. Kami traveled to Austin last week to work on that transition, which will allow Chris more visibility on where a particular ship is at any time.
We’ve also been preparing for our Gamescom 2014 demo, which will happen in just over two weeks. Sandi and her team have done a great job of planning the event, where you’ll get a chance to meet some of the team behind Arena Commander. We’re eager to hang out with the backers who are making this all possible and swap some dogfighting war stories. Look for us in Cologne and feel free to say hi if you spot us around the show.
Looking forward, we’re hoping to expand the Arena Commander multiplayer base as soon as possible. Expect news on that shortly. In the meantime, please keep helping us test the game! Your Twitch streams, CS tickets, forum comments and other interactions with the team are what has let us get to this point, and I hope you can feel how your input has allowed us to improve the AC experience. Keep your fighters flying and your feedback coming in!
CLOUD IMPERIUM AUSTIN
Eric Peterson, Studio Director
The CIG Austin office has been hard at work on Star Citizen, from getting patch 12.5 out, to preparing for the upcoming Gamescom event. Here is an inside look at what our studio has been up to as we continue onwards toward delivering the BDSSE.
Mocap and Cinematics
We have been working on our pipeline for characters and rigging and have been investigating incorporating some interesting clothing technology from Redacted Studios in (somewhere on planet earth). We got our head scanning rig in and will soon be ready to expand our characters, we have also been investigating head customization methodologies for players. We’ve been supporting the Redacted Commercial, the Redacted II Commercial, and the bigger badder Redacted III Commercial.
Have spent the month doing a 4 week female animation set mocap session focusing on basic locomotion and FPS/weapon set moves. We have also been supporting the various commercials with motion capture, solving, and editing. In addition our very own Sandi Gardiner stopped in and put on the suit for some motion capture sessions, what a trooper!
We are refining the budget and schedule for the S42 mocap and performance capture shoots and beginning the pre-production process. Where will we capture? Look for an announcement sometime in the future about that.
Release 12.4 support and profiling. Assisted with debugging and improvement of ship movement and matchmaking for release 12.5. Performed CryEngine 3.6.3 integration and submitting it for testing. Physics bug fixes. Basic live server metrics. Implemented and testing automated large universe cluster deployment. Implemented caching patch servers and pre-warming, being deployed with IT. Tool improvements and fixes, including Trackview fixes for commercial work and auto-import of Crytek SDK Perforce server. PU planning, star system layout tool, and PU prototyping. Future improved ship and character movement planning and discussion.. Oh, and released 12.5 – finally.
The CIG Austin design team is hard at work on bringing the persistent universe to life. We’re starting small, getting all of the basic functionality in place and expanding as we go. We’ve put together a more detailed roadmap for the next twelve months of development, and we’re polishing off all of the design and tasking needs for that development. Of course, all of it centers around the economy and how it connects the universe.
Meanwhile, we’re hard at work supporting other areas of the universe: standardizing ship development, pushing ahead with balance for ships and parts, helping to get ships into the hangar, working out the technology and design of our clothing sets, and – as always – helping the test and balancing of the dogfighting module, as well as animation support for some ship setups. Been a busy month, but we love seeing where this is going, and we hope that you will enjoy it.
The CIG ATX ship team has been VERY busy preparing for Gamescom. Although I can’t disclose the actually ships you’ll see there, I can tell you they are awesome! Having said that we, on the ship team, are looking well past Gamescom. The month of August and September look to be very exciting with several ships in the pipeline. And we hope you enjoy the M50 – as Chris Smith just did an amazing job of getting that ready.
Well, on ships we worked on the m50, mustang, constellation and it’s variants, xian scout, Vanduul ship exploration as well as various components to allow some customization in the near future.
On the characters side of the equation – Redacted commercial characters are being completed, other module characters are in the works and lots of work on the Xian Character as well as Character customizations.
On the persistent universe, or planetside of things, we worked on the Gold horizon space station for Redacted as well as Hangar revamps. In addition, the gold shirt auction has been a big success, thank you all for your continued support.
This month CGBot has been focused on the stars – the Constellations, to be precise! They’re preparing the ship and the variants ready to go in hangars. Virtuos has been getting acquainted with our editor and preparing to start working on ships, while also continuing with props for the REDACTED demo, and Rmory is creating some awesome weapon concepts and game assets for the REDACTED as well.
On the contractor front, the focus has been mostly on getting concepts for the REDACTED demo – David Brochard and Rob McKinnon have been working on some cool armor art. In the meantime new contractor Hugues Giboire has been working up a 3D Xi’an character. Our other active contractors have been working on ships – Jim Martin has submitted some new concepts for the Caterpillar, Jan Urschel is working on the Xi’an Transport Derelict, Ryan Church continues to develop the Panther, and George Hull has delivered some awesome new revisions to the Collector concept!”
In addition Citizens, we also had a PU summit in Montreal with our partners at BHVR and are very happy with what is going on up there, not to mention the weather in July is WAY better than in Austin. So, as you can see, we have been working hard on making our dream game, and will continue to march forward on making the BDSSE. The team here appreciates all the support, and patience, as we know that sometimes things go a little bit off kilter on delivery, but love being able to share all of the secrets of game development, even when some things take a bit more time. So thank you all for your continued passion, and love for this game, it keeps us all full of pride and satisfaction knowing that we are all in this together.
Erin Roberts, Studio Director
Hi again, really busy month down at the farm. So much has been achieved throughout this month at Foundry 42, from helping get 12.5 out, to some great work by the team on our next big feature release (13) and Gamescom. Not forgetting S42 which we have made really great progress on.
Loads of focus has been on GamesCom and getting as much polish into our main branch as possible to show the game at its best. (We have been running two sets of the code for the past 6-8 weeks, Release 12 branch which is what we released 12.5 from on Wednesday night, which is predominantly about getting dog fighting stable and balanced, and main where the new features are being implemented which we make new branches from when we get near to release.) This allows us to get on with new feature implementation for the game, while not destabilizing our release builds with new code and data. So basically what you have seen in 12.5 is only the work that has happened in that branch, there is much, much more that has been going on all this time that you will see soon when we hit Gamescom and release version 13.
I look forward to meeting a bunch of you while in Germany in a few weeks and showing some really cool stuff at Gamescom so I can really thank you all for your support and patience, while we endeavour to make this incredible Universe together.
Blimey! Has it been a month already.
Leader Boards, Lobby systems, Key Bindings have all had design focus and are being worked on for release in 13 or soon after. Also we’ve got two new awesome game modes for DFM which we plan on showing at Gamescom and releasing with 13.
S42 has made a bunch of progress this month. We have broken down the campaign further with the writers and the tasks are all out there for the “Vertical Slice”. We have prototypes for landing and take-off being worked on right now. Also, lots of work is going into the FPS side of the game, with AI behaviour, combat, stealth, perception, pick-ups, objective systems, checkpoints and the conversations system, all being designed and implemented for the game. We have a number of missions early white boxed so we can play through from start to end to make sure the pacing is right.
The ship white-boxing on the Panther Class Escort carrier is continuing really well, and the Idris is getting closer to “Hangar” release. (caveat: it won’t fit in the hangar so there will be another cool way to get into it from the hangar).
Again, thanks for the fantastic support. It is a pleasure to be working on such an awesome project with you all.
This month we’ve been splitting our engineering time up into three parallel teams to make sure we deliver everything we want to show you guys in 12.5, Gamescom and give you all the best experience going forwards with S42.
We’ve been helping out on the 12.5 build. Apart from the rubber banding we’ve been trying to track down and fix a really nasty low repro bug which would cause the player’s head to shake constantly when they respawn after dying. Every time we thought we had a fix the player would start standing up in the cockpit instead. Every time we thought we’d fixed the standing up bug with head shake would return. And so on. We think we’ve now got a good handle and fix on both issues now for the latest patch.
We’re really excited by what we are going to show you at GamesCom. There’s been a lot of work on polishing up the HUD to make it more friendly, the radar to make it less cluttered, cameras, lots of audio improvements, new game modes and loads more.
And finally we’re supporting our designers here getting the Squadron 42 vertical slice up and running, including prototyping a new landing mechanic, and long term goals like creating a tool to make setting up the vehicles easier and less error prone, (which will allow us to get ships and vehicles into DFM much faster) a new vehicle state system, AI and, as always, lots of bug fixing!
The environment team has been hard at work this month on creating something special, we are producing a new location like nothing you’ve seen before in Star Citizen. We have taken the architecture, lighting and colour palette in a different direction, this will complement the existing environments – so we will have Dying Star (Red), Broken Moon (Blue), and the new map (Green). All these elements will also find their way into the PU, so it helps flesh out the Universe you will all be living in when the PU comes online.
We are really excited for you guys to see it, all will be revealed at GamesCon and Release 13.
The Ship and Vehicle Team here at Foundry 42 , has been hard at work this month continuing work on the Gladius, the Gladiator and the Retaliator, as well as our current cap ship productions like the Javelin and the Panther.
The Gladius is currently been setup for its shading, audio and animations, before it goes into the technical setup stage, where it can be made ready for the Hangar. We’re really close on this one.
The Gladiator is currently in its grey box stage, and the Retaliator is getting closer and closer to its final grey box stage.
The ongoing design work on the Javelin is working nicely alongside the art production for this ship, currently we are working on the Bridge and the Crew mess for this ship, so we can tie these rooms into the storyline for SQ42.
The massive Panther is coming along nicely as well, all the hallways are nearing completion, and we are currently focussing on the Crew Barracks and escape pods to be grey boxed.
Lots of work has also been going on with animation, where new pilot animations for the ship cockpits are going into our main branch for Gamescom, and a bunch of testing on Vanduul movement and also our character and facial systems.
This month has been all about getting the audio to follow clearer goals and design direction. We’ve further revised a selection of weapon sounds as a test bed for a new approach to weapon sounds. The weapons that we’ve done so far now include percussive/explosive elements and mechanical layers. The new approach to these sounds gives a more believable and satisfying result. We’re also excited to introduce the new ship fly-by sounds as of release 13. If a Vanduul ship tears past you, this moment will now have an exciting and carefully designed fly by sound. Plenty of other improvements have been happening across the board for the sound of Star Citizen so look forward to those over the coming months.
As well as the various improvements we’ve been making, team audio has been hard at work on gamescom related tasks which we are incredibly excited to show everyone!!
Mathieu Beaulieu, Producer
The month of July brings beautiful warm weather to Montreal and lots of planning!
This month Behaviour hosted a Persistent Universe Summit where Chris Roberts, Tony Zurovec and other folks from CIG sat down with [Redacted] and the Montreal team to better and more efficiently plan the approach to world building for the PU.
Summer wouldn’t be complete without bugs! Programming has been working on a lot of Release 12.5 bug fixes related to the Visor, Arena Commander UI, as well as with the Asteroid Hangar.
The concept phase for the Origin 890 Jump is complete!
Subscriber flair for July is ready to go, and August and September flair objects are underway.
Level design, art, audio and programming teams have also been hard at work reworking the original three hangars. They are now in the debugging/polish phase and the hangars are looking more and more slick.
A galactic tune-up is also underway! The design team has been injecting Science into the current star systems. They have also been hard at work planning the first internal release of planetside.
The UI team continues to advance with various mobiGlas mock-ups, as well as a redesign of the current pause screen, flair object UI, and the occasional bug squishing. They have also been reading all your posts in the Star Citizen UI/UX thread (even though they can’t answer every post (yet)). Keep the great ideas coming!
Austin Goddard, Producer
July has come and gone but not without progress on all fronts from the CGBot team.
We are continuing to chip away at all the tasks needed to bring you the Constellation fleet. One of our main focuses when it comes to Constellation is getting one of the ships dogfight ready. The task hasn’t been simple but thanks to our friends at CIG ATX, we are well on our way to wrapping things up in the coming days.
Along with Constellation we are also working on Idris. Detailing out each room individually is a long process but we believe it will be well worth the effort when you get to explore every inch of this ship. Development will continue to take place on Idris through August.
As was mentioned in the last update we finished up two characters at the beginning of this month. We look forward to future character work and the name alone of our next character has CGBot excited. It is our hope that with these characters and ships you will enjoy navigating the galaxy.
Greetings Star Citizens! July was a really solid month for the FPS Team here at [REDACTED]. Between the epic nerf gun fights that have been randomly breaking out in the office, we’ve been knocking out features and content like there’s no tomorrow and the FPS module is really starting to come together.
The engineers and designers have been implementing all the weapons and gadgets. We’ve got all the things you would normally expect like pistols, rifles, grenades, etc… but there are also some other unique goodies going in as well. Energy based weaponry, countermeasures like EMPs and some others that I don’t want to spoil for you right now! Oh and we now have flashlights… Get hype! You can now see in the dark!
More work went in to getting the pistol ready for EVA and it’s very close to being done. The new model is currently being rigged and the VFX guys have been tuning and tweaking the effects.
There was a lot of work done on the Visor HUD for FPS. A large part of the work has been integrating with the HUD system that is currently being used for ships. We’ve also been working on a mission objective system that hooks in to the Visor HUD.
The animators have been chugging along getting all of the new items and weapons rigged up and ready to go, along with character animations to accompany them. Lots of new motion capture has been going on in Austin this past month as well, some of it being for the FPS module. We’ve got animations for hit reactions coming in, death sequences and some really cool Zero G stuff which you should be hearing more about in the future.
On the audio side, sound effects are being created and polished for all of the weapons and items. Most of them are a nice mix of mechanical along with a sci-fi energy feel. We know that good sounds make for fun weapons, so we are really trying to push them to sound crisp and powerful.
The Art Team has been creating assets for the space station environment. Some new shaders and tools just came down the pipe, which has allowed them to push the visuals even further and acheive some really nice looking materials that weren’t possible before. Yes, that’s right. The game is going to look even better than it does currently!
Lastly, we’ve been helping out with some of the networking and matchmaking issues on Arena Commander. One of our engineers is a matchmaking superstar of sorts. I like to call him the Millionaire Matchmaker… hi [REDACTED], thanks for all the hard work!
That about wraps it up for this month fellow Star Citizens. See you in a month! [REDACTED] out!
P.S. – I really need to get a Nerf gun. My current policy of passive resistance is failing in the ever escalating arms race.?
Benoit Beauséjour, Founder
No time to enjoy sunny Montreal summer for the platform team!
New ship pages & viewer
The new ship pages have been taking most of our cycles as we have established the data framework and views we need to present proper ship specifications to allow players to browse the ship catalog. This include a custom management console to handle managing specifications data for each ship variant and chassis as well as API endpoints to drive the Holo Viewer and Tech Overview for all current ships.
There was a huge data management task as we coordinated the capture of over 300 NEW ship screenshots for all available ships from different view angles as well as the acquisition and export of the ship technical data. A few sample are included in this report.
This major refactoring has been in the works for some time but has really come together in the last few weeks as we integrated the new WebGL Holo Viewer into the data model. The new viewer allows you to browse hardpoints, propulsion and POI directly on the ship and see the contents of the ship loadout in 3d space. In addition, we built a full 3D POI Editor that allows us to add POI markers to specific areas of each ship and/or correct the data that we imported. It’s very convenient for showing POIs on concept ships that have not reached the CryEngine yet. Work is left to fully integrate this process into the ship pipeline ; but we are hopeful that this will be properly integrated soon!
We also wanted to be able to properly report the state of each ship online. Is this ship in the hangar? Can I fly it? Is this ship currently in concept? This new framework will allow us to modify the game module pages to include the state of each ship in relation with each module.
This set of tools and data models is our first piece of the Galactapedia as all of the ship data is entirely separated from the store and will also be used to drive pieces of that module when we are closer to bring it online. We expect to take on the same work for Planets and Systems in the near future.
To properly present the new ship pages, we have also refactored the entire store to properly reflect the vision of the manufacturer and of the ships. Hopefully this new mode to browse will feel more in-fiction and properly reflect the depth of the Star Citizen universe.
You should see the results of this work online very soon! We’re excited!
Organizations Drop Two
Concept work on the features for Organizations Drop Two have continued. We plan to introduce a tool specifically for players with the “Operations” role to allow them to manage Jobs & Divisions within their Organizations. This tool mainly brings the feature of structure to your group and will be a very good way to organize it into sub units. This feature coupled with the features of “Jobs”, which will act like a tag system, will make filtering and managing members easier. We have some very cool visualization ideas on this front and we hope to be able to show you some of them soon!
We also made some headway on conceptualizing some recruiting tools for Organizations to help leaders in finding members. We hope to include these in the drop.
All in all a great month!
Matthew Jack, Founder
July was an important month for Moon Collider, as we significantly increased the size of our team, which will allow us to better meet the AI needs for Star Citizen in the future and support the other teams as they work on more AI-heavy features. We’ve been really pleased with your response to the Vanduul Swarm gameplay so far, and our new team members will really help us to continue delivering the top notch AI that you are all expecting to see when you play Star Citizen.
We’ve been a team of three-and-a-half for a while and we’ve now made the jump to six, with a core of four full-time developers and two supporting part-time. So who are the new faces?
Adam and Diana have both left the warm shores of Perth, Australia, and decided to brave the Edinburgh climate in order to be part of the Kythera team. Both of them have worked previously at Crytek as a programmer and project manager, respectively. Adam will be working full time with us programming and lending his animation expertise to help make our Kythera AI system blend seamlessly with CryEngine’s animated characters, while Diana will provide support part time taking over administrative duties so the rest of the team can spend more time getting awesome new features into the game and out to all of you to play.
Jurie is a veteran developer, having worked previously at Rockstar Games. He has been the extra “half” in recent months, doing contract work for us on our debugging toolset. Any system is only as good as it’s tools; that’s especially true for AI and with Jurie’s help we’re really pushing what’s possible (more on that below!) He will continue to work part-time from France, improving Kythera’s debugging and visualization features so that it’s easier for us and all of the Star Citizen teams to understand what’s going on in the virtual heads of AI. This will help us continue to be confident that the AI is robust, and more importantly, fun to play with and against!
Enough with the roll call, though. What have we been doing this month?
We’ve been continuing our work to get the dogfighting AI running on the server, and that’s shaping up nicely. There is still more work to do to make it more robust, but we’re happy with what we’ve achieved so far.
On the FPS side we’ve been making more improvements to the AI, with a particular focus on their perception abilities, such as incorporating line-of-sight information to determine whether they can see the player and gathering basic information about all of the characters that are nearby. Their combat abilities are still very basic at the moment, but with the groundwork we’re adding we can start developing more sophisticated behaviours.
We made some significant improvements to our toolset this month, with the main feature being an ability to record detailed data about what AI is doing while running the game, and then replay it later with visual debugging information inside the game world. This is an extremely useful feature for designers to be able to go back and examine exactly what the AI did in different situations during a playthrough, so that they can find opportunities to refine their behavior to make them more fun to play against. It’s also very handy for tracking down bugs!
A big feature that we’re starting to devote serious time to is the persistent universe, and designing how the AI needs to work, particularly planetside. There are a lot of big challenges here and we’re all very ambitious with what we’re hoping to achieve, so we’ll be spending a reasonable amount of time on design work in this area so that we get it right.
Finally, the whole team took some time off from Star Citizen earlier in the month to attend the Game/AI Conference in Vienna. This was a great opportunity to talk with other AI developers and learn about the AI technology being developed for other games. We’re passionate about keeping Kythera at the cutting edge of game AI and this conference is one of the most important annual gatherings for game AI developers, so it was really great that we could all attend. It was also an opportunity for our newly expanded team to all be in the same place at the same time, which allowed us to take this excellent team photo at the Prater amusement park in Vienna. And yes, yes we think that clown is pretty scary too.
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