Comm-Link:Monthly Report - June 2014
It’s hard to believe it’s July already! Here’s our monthly report on what all three Cloud Imperium Games studios and all of our outsource teams have been up to! From improving the website to making the Vanduul fight more fiercely, we’ve been hard at work building Star Citizen.
- 1 CLOUD IMPERIUM SANTA MONICA
- 2 CLOUD IMPERIUM AUSTIN
- 3 FOUNDRY 42
- 4 BHVR
- 5 CGBOT
- 6 FREELANCE CONTRACTORS
- 7 FPS TEAM
- 8 VOID ALPHA
- 9 TURBULENT
- 10 MOON COLLIDER
CLOUD IMPERIUM SANTA MONICA
Travis Day, Dogfight Producer
June has been an exciting month for all of us here in the Santa Monica offices of Cloud Imperium Games. We released Arena Commander earlier this month and have been feverishly working to patch and resolve as many of the launch issues as possible with weekly updates to both the game client and the launcher.
As I write this we are in the process of putting the finishing touches on our most recent update, patch 12.4. While initially the entire team was focused on bug fixing and patching for our next 12.X release we are slowly migrating the team back into Main so we can continue development on new larger features which we plan on releasing with Release 13 (known colloquially in the community as V0.9).
This month we were also fortunate enough to be hosted in Alienware’s booth at E3 2014 here in Los Angeles where we had Arena Commander available for folks to play. Mark Abent, Chad Zamzow, myself and a few others from the development team were on hand to spread the word about Star Citizen and show off the game to passerby. We encountered a broad range of people from the entirely uninitiated who’d never heard of Star Citizen to longtime backers who’d been playing Arena Commander at home. All in all we had a great showing and even nabbed a nomination for ‘Best of E3’ from The Escapist.
Of the utmost importance this month has been steadily increasing the number of people in multiplayer for Arena Commander working out all of the backend, game server, and matchmaking issues being exposed by the volume of traffic. We are making some great headway on this and we really appreciate everyone’s assistance and patience in helping us to test and create our universe backend that will one day serve as the backbone for all of Star Citizen’s connectivity.
As I mentioned previously, the team is beginning to work on some of the larger features for our V0.9 release as well as versions even further down the road. Some of the items being worked on include support for in-game custom key binding configuration, a bevy of larger improvements in the flight model, some additional ships, improvements to HUD, and many more features were not quite ready to ruin the surprise of just yet.
We are looking forward to your feedback on our continued releases for Arena Commander and multiplayer as stability improves and additional players are added to the testing pool. As always, thank you very much for your support and if you have any questions please feel free to post in our Ask a Dev threads.
Cloud Imperium Games Santa Monica
CLOUD IMPERIUM AUSTIN
Eric Peterson, Studio Director
It has been a very busy month at the Texas offices of Cloud Imperium, we have been knee deep in Arena Commander releases, with 4 versions of it coming out during the month of June, and that is only the tip of the iceberg as more are on the way. We have also been busy working on the persistent universe and backend server component for AC, which will serve the PU as well. In addition, we have been hard at work on several ships and getting them ready to be put in the hangar and into the pipeline to make them fly. So, without further ado here is an update from each department.
The Austin design team continues with persistent universe content as its primary focus. This month, we’ve been focused on refining tools for star system creation, evaluating and providing guidance on kits for constructing planet-side locations, and growing the mission creation tool for quick persistent universe content. The design team is also building our internal roadmap for the next year and beyond, with the economy remaining the centerpiece to that work.
We’re also still providing support for the dogfighting teams, with ship parts, modularity, and customization being one of our primary areas of support. And we haven’t forgotten the hangar. In the past month, we’ve gotten the new Freelancers into the hangars and started work on other upcoming ships, while still continuing to provide bug fixes for the hangar module.
This month the Art Department was hard at work on several ships. The Freelancer variants, Constellation, Mustang, M50, Aurora variants, 300 series, Hornet variants, P52 Merlin, Avenger, and Xi’an Scout all saw some love from our artists here this month. Our character artists were kept busy bringing the FPS characters up to speed, as well as beautifying the characters used in our commercials. Other things that were completed are the UEE Marine helmet, VFX for some of our Planet side locations, as well as concepts for some cool new cargo containers that match the new cargo system design. Our animators have been busy fixing up character interactions with our ships and polishing animation sets for Squadron 42 and FPS.
Engineering – choo choo!
ATX engineering worked on fixes for several Arena Commander Release 12 deployments. ATX engineering also monitored public universe for issues, and worked with QA on issues that occurred on test universe clusters.
Engineering did hookup of Freelancer variants and TNGS ships in the hangar for the weekend surprise, we also fixed many game server, hub server, matchmaking, and generally crushed tons of bugs. Many hangar and dogfighting bug fixes were implemented. Engineering also worked to improve validation of ship selection and load out on the game server. We began live universe stats web page implementation, and began evaluating Avatar customization tech source code.
Launcher improvements including selectable payloads, bug fixes, and testing of caching patch servers were made and deployed. Nightly builds and continuous builds of active streams were enabled, along with additional dev tools like p4 review and p4 web.
Multiple Sandbox Editor fixes and improvements were made (including fixes to reloading modified assets from disk), and engineering worked with QA and Art to jump-start the Unstable->Recent->Stable testing and promotion process. DevOps migrated public universe cluster from Rackspace to Google Compute, and made progress on large universe cluster scripted deployment.
The Audio Department has been working on more improvements to Arena Commander! Featuring revised weapon fire sound-effects that have more punch, along with new sound-effects for ordnance whizz-bys, missiles, explosions and the afterburner/boost. We’re also working towards our Gamescom release in 6 weeks! (you will have to ask Chris what that is :) ) .
The IT team worked on several different but important initiatives this month. Austin’s IT group worked on the company network infrastructure. Initial work in this area has become necessary in order to keep up with the increased network traffic to all connected development teams. Early results are showing 15x improvement in data transfer rates between studios. LA’s IT Manager has been busy setting up new staff and reconfiguring development machines to squeeze every bit of performance out of them. Our Manchester IT is burning the midnight oil working on the build out of a new floor for development as well as custom building the demo machines that will be used at our Gamescon event in Germany.
This next month promises to be just as exciting as the last, as we continue to add more Citizens to Arena Commander, add in new game types, and prepare for our upcoming event at Gamescom in Germany. Working for CIG is always an adventure, and we are happy that every one of you is along for the ride with us – See you all – in the verse !
Erin Roberts, Studio Director
Hi guys, what a month it’s been, we’re really excited that the Dog Fight Module is out there and also we’re working towards getting everyone into multiplayer and improving, bug fixing and balancing with all your help. We’ve also taken big steps forward in white boxing our first levels in Squadron 42, as well as started work on Multi-crewed Vehicles, and last but not least the Capital Ships are really starting to look great. Wandering round the “Javelin” Destroyer is a real treat… Next month we’ll be really solidifying the DFM with bug fixes, new features and game modes and of course a fully operational ranking boards so people can start to compare stats. Also let’s not forget Gamescom is around the corner, we plan to have some cool new stuff to unveil at the show. AS always thanks for the dedication and support from everyone, without your guys support and feedback we wouldn’t be making this game great game. You will be seeing updates coming fast and furious from the team now we have put our stake in the ground and given everyonethe first glimpse of Star Citizen with the DFM module.
Programming Director – Derek Senior
This month has been the month of the DFM. From the start of June, we’ve been working incredibly hard to make the launch of DFM as successful as possible, this work continues. A lot of the work has been fixing up bugs, issues and adding some more polish to the game, adding new default mappings for more controllers, getting the Battle Royale game mode available for the MP rollout. We’ve also been working on some other, exciting, game modes coming your way.
We’ve also been getting going on some more behind the scenes work for future DFM, SQ42 and the PU. From working on tools to help designers and artists to set up the hundreds of components we have on each ship, to individual manufacturer HUD colourisation, HUD usability updates, UI for multi-crewed ships, audio improvements, GPU and CPU improvements and bug fixes as well as controller customisation, conversation system prototyping, and lots, lots, more.
Design Director – Nick Elms
Another month whizzes by.
We are still spitting design here in a number of areas, mainly :- Dog Fight Module support, Squadron 42 mission designs and Capital Ship design with Seat Actions.
Dog fighting is out there now! We have a long, and ever growing list of fixes, optimizations, polish, new features, etc. that we are planning to put in over the coming releases. The designers are, as ever, monitoring forum feedback, which is super useful for us and a lot of the issues that you have flagged up will be getting addressed over the coming weeks/months.
We have run through the “Vertical slice” mission this month, lots of outstanding issues to solve, but the walkthrough was awesome. I wish I could post a video, but with it being a S42 mission it would be too much of a spoiler. Suffice to say that when people leave a 2 hour meeting smiling you know something went well.
We’ve had another round of feedback on the “Idris” Frigate interior, just tidying up some minor points before the full PBR texture pass. We needed to add a few more escape pods to cater for the increased crew capacity, and make a bit more sense of the docking systems. You should now be able to drop your Constellation, Retaliator, etc. neatly on the top of the Idris and disembark through the docking collar with some dignity. We are really looking forward to seeing this “Hangar” ready soon.
The “Javelin Destroyer” and “Escort Carrier” are still in “Grey box” phase, but are coming together really well. We are benefiting from lots of lessons learnt from the Idris re-working. Aside from the above, we have been making good progress on ship systems. Mike Northeast even started a new forum thread to specifically discuss the “seat actions” with everyone, which seems to be going well so far. Thanks for all the feedback and ideas.
Overall a very good month in Star Citizen development from here in the UK, thanks again for the fantastic support.
Art Director – Paul Jones
Wow – what a month! Things are progressing along well in all areas, DFM, Sq42, outsourcing – it’s all go, we’ve taken on a concept artist intern and also had 3 students in this last week making a Star Citizen side scroller as their work experience project – it’s a holistic place here in Manchester, give back where we can :)
Space ships, Space ships, Spaceships! All continuing along well, the ones in full production are advancing well and we are learning on the job – it’s a tough mix of product design, mechanical design and performance optimization but the team is doing well, I’m looking forward to when we show more of the Gladius and Gladiator to the community. We also have a heavy fighter in concept phase with Gavin Rothery and its shaping up to be pretty mean looking!
What about Cap ships? Modular Tier interiors are laid out and now we need to push more through the concept pipeline to have the key rooms designed to meet Sq42 cinematic requirements, this is also the case for Shubin now that we have a good idea of mission requirements.
DFM continues alongside, Capture the Core and Conquest mode assets are being readied for release to the public. Lots of animation work going on for new ship types that we are working on getting Hangar ready, and into DFM.
Mathieu Beaulieu, Producer
Time flies, but so do our spaceships! A lot was done in June: we were able to get some sunny days in Canada :), we’ll end the month with 104 F, we showed no mercy in a couple of dogfighting matches internally, the best pilots are on the rise, and we also worked hard on some new game features.
This month, we’ve started revamping the Discount, Deluxe and Business Hangars, we want them as detailed as the Asteroid Hangar. We also need to review them so we can add speciality rooms. We still have a good month of work on them to bring them to the required quality.
At the same time, we are back on the mobiGlas, its development has been slowed down so we could help on the Dogfighting module, but we are now able to move forward. First steps will be ship and room customisation.
Also, the next flair object is almost ready, I think this one will make you Dance with joy. It should be released early July.
In the long run, planets are being constructed, tech for the avatar customisation is being developed and we are getting some interesting output for the economy system.
See you near Broken Moon.
Austin Goddard, Producer
June has flown by as we continue to prepare ships for shipment!
As you may recall from last month’s update, CGBot has been laboring over every last detail of the four variants of the Constellation ship which include [Redacted], [Redacted] and [Redacted]. To optimize performance, each of these variants has several versions with varying level of detail.
Progress is the keyword when talking about the Idris. This ship’s massive greybox has been completed and we are continuing to work with the design team to flesh out the model that will end up in your hangar. We think that the final version of this ship will fulfill the hype that it has rightfully received.
Along with working on these ships, we having been ironing out the final models and textures for the Male and Female explorer. We hope that the level of detail we put into these characters coupled with the amazing work being done by our colleagues creates an immersive experience that transcends your monitor and puts you in the pilot seat.
Sean Murphy, Outsource Manager
CGBot has been heavily focused on getting the Constellation and new variants delivered to us, while they’ve wrapped up greybox work on the Idris and are starting on the final texture pass to get it ready. They’ve also been finishing up on a couple of Explorer characters we’ll be seeing shortly.
In the meantime Virtuos is starting work on a couple of variants of the Cutlass and continuing to create prop assets for the FPS level. We’ve started testing a new vendor, Red Hot CG, on some concept work for ship components. And Rmory is creating a cool new weapon for FPS while we also test their ability to create in-game FPS weapons for us.
On the contractor front, there’s been a lot of focusing of efforts; several of our contract concept artists have been working on a variety of Vanduul ships. George Hull has delivered a gorgeous illustration of the Collector ship and Jim Martin is refining concepts for the Caterpillar in preparation for modeling. Rob McKinnon and David Brochard are polishing some character concepts for FPS characters, Dennis Chan has given us some gorgeous illustrations for Jump Point, and Clint Schultz and David Scott continue to create Corporation logos for us.
Finally Stefano Tsai has finished his work on the M50 and is going to be starting on a brand new ship very soon.
Greetings from the FPS team at [REDACTED]! We hope you are all enjoying flying your ships in Arena Commander. It’s been really exciting to finally see you guys and gals playing the game, and hopefully enjoying the results of all the hard work that has gone into making it happen from each studio. We’ve definitely been having a blast watching your live streams… and playing along with you!
June was a very productive month for the FPS team. The artists continued to work on the space station environment. Adding props, applying materials and setting up lights to set the mood. Visual effects are also being added. This includes things like steam flowing out of vents, water dripping from pipes, dust being pulled around by pressure shifts and other details that really make the station come alive and keep it from feeling static. In addition to the environmental effects, we have also been working on first pass effects for tracer rounds, muzzle flashes, explosions and a bunch of other flashy-shiny-noisy bits. A first pass concept of the FPS HUD was also created, and we are now working on hooking it up in the game.
The animation team has been working through the mocap data, which will continue for quite some time… There’s a ton of it! They also worked with our engineers on a new way to rig weapons that helped to eliminate some pesky bugs we were running in to. With the cover system, zero-G, and the variety of weapons available, they definitely have their work cut out for them.
The design team has been tweaking the properties for a few of the weapons, mostly making sure that they feel good and are well balanced. Of course this is a continuous process that will be iterated upon all the way up to, and after, the game is released. Our design team also came up with some pretty neat concepts for possible gameplay modes.
The programming team has been implementing new features like crazy! Improvements to the cover system, zero G movement, a prone stance, energy recharge stations, HUD implementation, ammo variety system… and I could keep going. A LOT of new systems have gone into the game… and with those new systems, lots of new bugs! Just kidding, these guys do solid work and I am fairly certain that their code is completely bug free. cough cough
But in all seriousness, the FPS module is finally getting to a point where most of the core features have been implemented, at least in prototype form, and that is really exciting for us! Until next month Citizens! This is [REDACTED], over and out!
Mark Day, Studio Director
Terra Prime is looking better & better thanks to some additional help courtesy of the fine folks at CiG Austin. We meet on a regular basis to review the production art in progress, specifically Centermass & the monorail station. We are given a steady flow of diverse feedback, ranging from technical advice to art direction. All that has gotten us that much closer to completing the final look of the monorail station & it is looking mighty gorgeous!
Centermass is a shop that needs to look extremely futuristic, sleek & classy. We changed directions in some significant but subtle ways to achieve this look as we weren’t quite there at first. We are now closer than ever at attaining that goal!
Sherman has received tons of concept art attention, getting final designs for the interior & exterior for the Edge of Oblivion bar as well as the Military Police building. The Blocks also got some much needed assistance for concept designs such as the ticket kiosks, turnstiles, graffiti & the monorail car.
Overall, the improvements made are significant & the work being produced is representative of that progress, so we can’t wait to unveil it!
We remain a tight focused group of:
2 – Environment Artist
1 – Concept Artist
1 – Designer/Technical Designer
Benoit Beauséjour, Founder
The platform team is currently hard at work on the design and UX of Orgs Drop 2. Many of the features we want to bring forward in the second drop of Orgs require a lot of back and forth between design and implementation teams and so all of our concept resources are locked in to make this happen. We can’t wait to get coding on this one!
The first version of the ship catalog took most of the programming time this month and is our main focus for a release soon™. You have seen parts of this new catalog look with the Freelancer sales product page and of course with the 3D Ship Viewer we integrated into the Xi’An Scout concept. We were thrilled with your reactions to this prototype. We’re hoping to have many more ships in the viewer and more functionality to view the different types of POI on the ships so you can really “see” the ships while browsing their specs. There are still many challenges left , especially with the bigger ships (which might require special shaders so they look good and are actually properly browsable). We are thinking also that this first foray into 3D visualization might pave the way for more components like this, especially when thinking about the Galactapedia for planets , systems and more game objects.
Our work on the leaderboards system is expected to pick up soon now that AC multiplayer is ramping up. The data exchange process between game servers and the platform servers is now identified and set up. We are having many talks and discussions with the game design and implementation teams on how points and rankings are calculated so that we can display the right information for you to see on the boards and your profiles. We can’t wait to see how this will work out once it starts!
Matthew Jack, Founder
This month got off to an exciting start for the Kythera team, as the Arena Commander v0.8 release was our middleware’s gameplay debut. We’ve written about that and the work leading up to it in the recent post AI Design in Vanduul Swarm. (Thanks for your comments there, I’ve been poring over them!)
The release happened while the whole team was visiting Foundry 42 in Manchester for the Squadron 42 Summit. It was great to meet up with them and the US teams, all of whom we normally only talk to over Skype, and have a chance to exchange ideas and progress the design for Squadron 42 together. In particular it was clear to us that people would soon need some simple FPS combat AI in place to start prototyping and so we’re moving our focus towards that.
Between the Summit meetings, we were able to take a break and watch the first backers streaming Arena Commander on Twitch! Overall the release went pretty smoothly for us. In 12.2 we made some changes to reduce the number of collisions between Scythe and the player, but on the whole we have tried to keep our changes small, rather than disrupt what’s there, allowing us to focus on developing new features and new aspects of Star Citizen. We’re following your comments and plan to make other incremental improvements to Vanduul Swarm with the best bang-for-buck, while making sure that AI in the rest of the project is able to move forwards.
On that note, we’ve resumed work on getting dogfighting AI running on the server which, as well as being essential for the Persistent Universe, could open up some interesting possibilities for new Arena Commander game modes.
And we’ve also been working with the FPS team to get human AIs moving around and shooting at each other in the Hangar. It’s just simple behavior, but it’s great to get the basics in place so that designers can begin prototyping whole new parts of Star Citizen.
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