Comm-Link:Monthly Report - May 2014
We know you’re excited to get into space tonight, but we wanted to make good on another promise and share the monthly studio reports from Cloud Imperium and our partners around the world. May has seen a lot of focus on dogfighting, but work also continues on other areas of the game (like Squadron 42 and the FPS module.) Here’s the full story!
- 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
I’m going to keep it short today! First, sorry for the delay on getting this monthly report out, the team was a smidge distracted with other issues… The big news from Santa Monica is that Arena Commander V0.8 is OUT! We launched AC today and… well, it’s unlikely you’re even reading the Monthly Report at this point and I am probably asleep. Go download your copy and get your first taste of space combat in Star Citizen. We sincerely hope you enjoy the fruits of our labor? and now a lot of very tired Star Citizen developers will be getting a good night’s sleep tonight so we are ready to come back and work on bug fixing tomorrow!
As you may have surmised, the Santa Monica team was laser focused on getting dogfighting V0.8 out the door in May. The efforts don’t stop here, though: we’re going to keep our current pace of development up to finish V0.9 and finally V1.0 with all the features promised at PAX and the complete multiplayer experience. Once that’s out, we’ll really get to rest.
The Santa Monica art team is growing, too! A new Junior Concept Artist, Gurmukh Bhasin, has joined David Hobbins in our art pit. The pair are currently working on an array of Constellation variants… and while they look incredible (almost as incredible as Hobbins himself) I can’t talk much about those just yet.
The community team is getting ready for several upcoming events, the first of which is The Next Great Starship finale on Saturday. Star Citizen fans from around the world are going to join the judges and Santa Monica team at the YouTube Space in Playa Del Rey where the final episode will be livestreamed and a winner selected. Having had no involvement in the show we’re really looking forward to meeting the teams that have put together such awesome ships in the engine. After that, it’s full steam ahead for the Community team towards the Gamescom event and other convention appearances later this summer!
Thank you all for your continued support and patience. I know that the last few days have been as much of a rollercoaster for you as it has for us. Hopefully now that the ride is over and you have your first taste of our vision for Arena Commander and what we are starting to build for space combat in Star Citizen you will be as inspired as we are about the direction we’re going together.
As always, if you have any questions about this post or anything else, please post your questions to our ‘Ask a Dev’ threads.
Cloud Imperium Games Santa Monica
CLOUD IMPERIUM AUSTIN
Eric Peterson, Studio Director
The Month of May here in Texas has brought us much rain, and many difficult challenges. As everyone is aware, most of the company is busy working on Arena Commander, and as we get closer to the release, we continue to run into new issues every day, even though our fix rate has been positive in a significant way, we are just not close enough to let it out into the wild just yet. That being said the Austin office has been very busy during this month, and I would like to share some of that with all of you.
In May we have been working on the planning and construction of our sound studios at the Austin and Manchester locations, as well as finishing up work on the Arena Commander release. As we’ve progressed toward the end of the month, the dogfighting work is more playtesting and adjusting as we go, and less generation/implementation of new content, to ensure the release is of the highest quality. Hopefully you will enjoy blasting your friends into oblivion with the sound turned up all the way to 11. Video this month has been about wrapping up and transferring media production to Santa Monica. We now have a multicopy, multilocation file server to store the video record of the game’s development. That record will be the primary source for the documentary of the making of Star Citizen. We also produced the last four episodes of “Wingman’s Hangar” – seventytwo in all. As we shoot the last show, we take a look back at the last twenty months of fun, hijinks, and “serious” reporting.
We have been firefighting for dogfighting release and pitching in with testing and feedback for the gameplay, from joystick controls, to missile and laser damage, the team has been hammering away in both single player and multiplayer to get it as stable and fun as possible for when it goes out.
In the meantime, we’re still pushing ahead on persistent universe work, including helping Tony Zurovec get up to speed on all facets of the project. Hangar support continues, with the additions of new ships as they come online, hangar flair items, and a brand new firing range that we think you’ll love! Economy work is moving ahead fullbore, as well, with local simulation playtests going on weekly, along with populating the universe with all of the goodies that players will get to discover. We’re breaking new ground on mission development, too, and putting finishing touches on some core systems. And we’ve updated the ship specs – not once, but twice – this month. Enjoy!
The IT department has been busy working on build and deployment system improvements this month. These initiatives are important for internal development because they speed up the rate of iteration between builds allowing for much faster bug fixes and overall product improvements. We’ve also been able to make good headway on our publishing process which allows us to deploy fixes and content out to players with less downtime. The IT team has also been developing the tools and procedures for monitoring external game services. Based on requests from development we will be adding a much higher level of system and service monitoring and reporting than typically offered so we can determine the best ways to improve and optimize our live services in addition to making sure things stay up and running.
We have been busy tracking down local tasks for the Arena Commander release, from server side, to game play, to IK issues with animation, our job has been to make sure the folks are alerted and up to date on priority tasks and getting things completed in a timely manner. The production team continued its valiant efforts to plan and execute the ship and character pipelines. We also continued to support the dog fighting module through ATX based development and QA. We continue to support the other studios in our collective efforts to release the Vanduul Swarm, Free flight, and Multiplayer dog fighting modules and maps. Our long term plan is to increase efficiency via strategic initiatives such as working with our vendor partners to dynamically improve our art pipeline.
Engineering has been busy working towards the Dogfighting v1 release, including gameplay logic, special effects implementation, engine fixes and improvements, rendering fixes, and bug and crash fixes. In addition to core universe service work and process management, ATX engineering is assisting with implementation of matchmaking and instance management services used for dogfighting and to be expanded later for the persistent universe. Tool improvements and bug fixes, build and patching system fixes and improvements, and development tool and process improvements such as migrating to Perforce Streams were also done this month.
The last month has been very busy for CIG QA. Progress has been made on overall QA process. Our new QA additions from Foundry 42 began this month and were able to hit the ground running. Geoffery Coffin, William Clark and Andrew Nicholson reported for duty and immediately contributed with improving documentation and procedure and helping to ensure we have global testing coverage. We also had a new addition to the QA team here in Austin. A big Star Citizen welcome to Keegan Standifer! This month many companywide play tests were conducted that were instrumental in bringing us closer towards the release of Arena Commander. It saddens us to sometimes be the bearer of bad news when we must bring to light some of the issues that may delay a release. However, we hope to have enough of the kinks ironed out to ensure Arena Commander is an incredibly enjoyable experience. After release we will still need your help! Much more testing will be needed and we look forward to everyone’s feedback to help ensure Arena Commander and eventually Star Citizen is the Best Damn Space Sim Ever!
There is a lot of things to be proud of this month, and we are getting oh so close to sharing some important work with you guys. This game and community share the same passion, and it is the most exciting thing we have ever worked on, and that is all thanks to you! Thank you all for your continued support.
Erin Roberts, Studio Director
Design – Nick Elms
As you can imagine, it’s been a hectic month here in the UK for the designers. The survival mode “Vanduul Swarm” has taken a lot of design focus. We have been playing the game all day, every day, providing a “server crashing” amount of feedback for the Artists and Engineers. We have been tweaking all kinds of statistics to balance the enemy waves and the coop AI pilots performance.
It’s been really good to see the single player survival mode coming together with some polish being thrown in, obviously there is a lot more to do, but we feel we have a solid base to work from. Multiplayer feels like it is coming together, we just have a few technical hurdles to get over before we can stick a smiley face on our feedback emails.
Aside from the Dogfighting module, we have been making steady progress with the Squadron 42 level designs and where available the level “whiteboxing” has been under review. The UEE capital ships are still full steam ahead, with “greybox” versions of almost all of them, but the “Bengal” (which is still in whitebox), and crew seat actions have started to get mockup HUD animations to explain their functionality better.
That’s about all I can report this month.
Programming – Derek Senior
Another month and lots of engineering work to get DFM to the quality level demanded from Chris. There’s been a big push on the HUD side, working with our colleagues from the US, with big items like the radar, targeting, shield damage feedback, ITTS, and lots more small tweaks and refinements. From the audio side we’ve been adding to the interactive music, with lots of new SFX from shield hits to cockpit feedback. Bitching Betty is giving more and better information to keep you informed of what is going on and the state of your systems. The controllers have had a lot of attention, the interaction between your controller and the ship’s dynamics has been an ongoing relationship (through good times and bad!), with plenty of tweaks and feedback. Other areas of work include the camera system allowing you to focus on different areas of the screen, be it a ship you are targeting or some particular part of your dashboard with dynamic FoV and DoF, player ejection and how that affects your scoring, and ongoing gameplay improvements. Aside from all of that there’s been a general push on cpu performance, gpu performance, multiplayer, stability, and a huge amount of bug fixing.
Art – Paul Jones
DFM work has been mainly bug fixing along some future work for the Conquest gametype along with some extra VFX work to help sell damage to the player and shields. Sq42 work has been progressing well with large strides made in building the modular interiors for the three capship classes – Javelin, Panther and Bengal? we can already see the potential in these monsters and the ideas are really starting to flow in making this a unique experience. Alongside this work is also underway on the large Shubin Mining platform, making sure it’s on tier and whiteboxed ready for design to start protoyping missions. Outside of the building contract concept artists have been making great strides in look dev, Gavin Rothery has finished of the Gladius concept and moved onto a Heavy fighter, Jon McCoy working on key areas for missions and Ryan Church is continuing defining the massive Panther class interiors. We have also started work on a rescue utility vehicle (concept complete) and also refining of the Gladiator bomber and additional rooms of the Javelin – it’s all going on this month!
Mathieu Beaulieu, Producer
A s programmers are applying the last fixes for the dog fighting module, artists and designers have brought the latest environment to the next level. Today, the Asteroid Hangar is Beta and should be ready for release quite soon. While working on it, we have also made progress on the room system and you should soon be able to add speciality rooms to your hangar.
Our UI designers have been busy getting their hands dirty with all kinds of things: dog fighting module bits and pieces, matchmaking UI finishing touches, hangar flair objects, logo design, motion graphics, economy tool UX design, and, of course, our baby: the mobiGlas. A solid lookandfeel is coming together and several mobiGlas apps have had an initial UI/UX pass, as we continue to strive to bring you the BDSSOSE…
On top of all that, the design team is preparing the field by identifying gameplay mechanics for every type of Planetside location, from bars to garages to clothing outlets. Architectural styles for the first 20 landing zones have been woven into Star Citizen fiction to create believable locales rich with history.
In economy design, we’ve started identifying which factories, vendors and natural resources are located in which system. Some of this data has been entered in the economy tool, which will allow us to simulate different economic scenarios.
Tara Decker, Producer
Is there anything to talk about in May besides Dogfighting? There is but it’s probably not as interesting. ;)
The ships we’ve contributed to dogfighting (300i, Aurora, Hornet..) have been in the hands of the DFM crew while they work to make dogfighting amazing. After the updates and tweaks to damage & LOD needed, our focus has been a little in the backshadows of the massive DFM goal. Not a problem for us.
We’ve been creating ships in the background of this game for awhile now.
The next ship on our dossier for April/May has been the anticipated Freelancer. The updated FL and it’s variants were completed in May. Hope you all like.
Currently on deck: the Constellation. We’re due to complete 2 versions in early June and finish up the other variants by end of June. Chris has high expectations for this ship and so do we. We’ll deliver no Constellation before its time (said in Orson Welles voice, with latitude ;).
And, the massive, impressive Idris marches on. The greybox will be complete within the next week or so. Once it’s vetted by design and art, the final steps to completion commence, and an early fall delivery is scheduled. This ship has taken a bit of time, but all involved expect it to be worth the sweat.
Though April was our big push, in May we continued to work with the Turbulent team in Montreal to create beautiful, accurate renders of the ships for purchase.
CGBot doesn’t only work on ships…we do characters, too. ?) Male Explorer suit will be completed in June? along with the final helmet. The interior of the helmet is next on deck for additional modeling and texturing. Because no detail is left undetailed in this game. Realistic. Topnotch.
Sean Murphy, Outsource Manager
On the Art side of things our contractors are continuing to produce exciting concept art – this month we added George Hull (The Matrix, Elysium, Transformers) to the list of artists working for us? George has been working on preliminary designs for the Collector starship (which began life as the Surveyor). We’ve moved several of our artists onto supporting Squadron 42 ship needs – Emmanuel Shiu, Eddie del Rio, and John Dickenson are all now working on Vanduul ships. Jan Urschel has continued to refine Xi’an ships and Jim Martin has been working on concepts for the Cutlass variants. Stefano Tsai is close to finishing the M50 and has created some amazing renders for Jump Point (you’ll want these for your desktop wallpapers!) and David Brochard has designed some really cool Outlaw armor sets for the REDACTED FPS group. We’ve also added Kurt Kaufman (Jurassic Park, Star Wars Episodes I and II, War of the Worlds) to our roster? Kurt’s doing concept exploration of Banu environments. The internal art team continues to work on new ships for the persistent universe, as well as tweaking the ships in Arena Commander to where they are just right.
Wow, has it really been a month already? I guess it has, time sure flies when you’re making games!
This last month has been a busy one for everyone involved with Star Citizen, including the FPS Team at [Redacted]. Everybody has been coming together in one massive effort to launch Arena Commander… and it looks like that day has finally arrived!
While the guys on the art team have still been modeling environments and props, creating materials and generally making things things look pretty for FPS, the engineering team has been working hard with the other studios to whip Arena Commander into shipping shape. Have you ever seen that movie Starship Troopers? You know that scene where the group of kids are squashing all of the bugs on the sidewalk? It’s kind of like that :D
The animation team has been taking all of the mocap data that was captured at the start of the month and merging it with the different poses and stances that are needed for weapons and combat.
From the design side, cover placement is being added to the levels and lots of documentation has been created concerning energy recharge stations and gear placement on the player. Maybe that doesn’t sound too exciting, but it will be once it has been implemented… honest!
But like Travis said in the Santa Monica report… why are you still reading this?! Go download AC and let us know what you think!
Mark Day, Studio Director
Made up of three areas, Landing Zone, City Center, and The Blocks all connected via a monorail system the planetside of Terra Prime is really coming to life. In addition to polish on The Landing Zone/Centermass and finalizing design for Sherman our main focus this month has been the creation of Prime’s seedy underbelly, The Blocks! For those of you who shall we say, “Hope to pursue a more adventurous lifestyle outside the troublesome rules of polite society,” will feel right at home. Existing in the perpetual shadow of the wealth and power of Prime’s city sprawl high above what the Blocks lacks in maintenance and physical beauty in makes up for in excitement and opportunity.
voidALPHA remains a tight team of: 2 Environment Artists
1 Concept Artist
1 Project Manager
Benoit Beauséjour, Founder
This month the Platform team in Montreal kept on track with the development of the Arena Commander public leaderboards. The UI is now integrated and work is continuing on receiving data from the game servers to populate and store your scores for public display. The Citizen Dossier part of the stats is also receiving more updates as we work to get nice stats graphs animated. The team also tackled many requests from the engineering team to handle the different pieces of logic needed for the Arena Commander rollout.
This month we also moved over to the XMPPbased chat. With more traffic to handle and power users on the system we feel we still have work to do and will tackle updates as soon as time permits. Expect performance improvements and bug fixes in the web client as well as a few new UI features integrated. (Kudos to citizen Koros for his awesome work on the RSI Chat Toolkit).
One task we tackled this month was also the creation of a first version of the “Star Citizen Project Status” overview. A matrix showing the state of the different game modules and a first draft of the individual module pages will show up soon. The client download area was also reworked to become the “Star Citizen” download. Since the client will soon contain the Arena Commander module, some rework was needed to deal with he different module requirements.
Matthew Jack, Founder
This month the Moon Collider team has been focused on polishing gameplay for the singleplayer Vanduul Swarm mode. The Arena Commander v0.8 release will our first big gameplay release for Kythera, so we’ve done all we can to make a good first impression. While the fundamentals of space combat under Kythera were all mature – such as targeting, dogfighting behaviours, manoeuvres and dynamic avoidance – there were various changes needed for the upcoming release.
The first was the switch from the Hornets – used as opponents for the PAX demo – to the Scythes that the design required. We adjusted for their handling characteristics and incorporated the latest tuning of the IFCS system to get them flying well, and then moved on to the implications for combat. The Scythes use fixed weapons rather than turrets, so require very accurate flight and orientation in order to hit their targets.
Next was working with designers at Foundry 42 to develop their characteristics and the Vanduul Swarm gameplay. Mike, our lead engineer, visited Manchester for a few days to make this most effective.
Vanduul Swarm is a more arcadelike mode, intended to let everyone have fun while getting used to the flight model and controls of the ships. Hence, earlier waves of Scythes are by design quite easy to dispatch, while later waves and bossships should be much more challenging. We iterated very closely with the designers to give them all the parameters they needed to achieve this.
We also worked to give them a distinctive flight style and constrained their manoeuvrability where necessary, to ensure players could get “on their tail” for satisfying dogfighting. When these fundamentals were looking solid, the designers proposed a fairly bold change: to add “friendly Hornets”. These are not intended to be wingmen to be ordered around, but rather independent companion fighters. These friendly AI get involved in their own dogfights, tailing Scythes and being tailed, so there’s much more going on around the player. We thinkthey bring the whole scene to life.
As release has approached, we’ve been standing by with final support while the last bugs are ironed out in the build, and playing regularly to ensure gameplay balance is maintained. We’re also doing some longerterm planning on AI for modules to come.
We’re very excited to have Kythera going out to so many backers and providing gameplay in Vanduul Swarm. There’s much more to come, but we hope you all have fun with this first taster.
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