Digging into the Monthly Report - October 2014
(Citizen Star News) - Compiled by Citizen Ed & Crusty Collins - 2014-11-13 - While there are many updates and new comm-links on the official Star Citizen (RSI) website, there's only so much time to read all of them. As the monthly reports seem to have become longer, we thought we provide you with a curated summary and direct excerpts from the latest monthly report.
Here we dig into the report and highlight things you may have missed...
In LA the team has been working hard on improvements to missiles and signatures for AC V1.0, enabling strategies for masking signatures and stealth gameplay, as well as a new paint system allowing player customization for ships and vehicles.
Together with the UK team engineers have also been working on a new system called GOST (Game Object State), which will help to better manage vehicles and their various systems. "This [...] will give our vehicles awareness of what actions they are currently performing and what additional actions that state permits or precludes. [...] this means that the ship will now know when it is landed vs. flying, when airlock doors are open vs. closed, landing gear are deployed vs. retracted - all within a single system that is [...] accessible to non-engineers on the team."
Meanwhile, the design team started with gameplay features like electronic warfare, mid-flight repair, as well as better "defining the various components of your ship's computer and how they will impact your user interface and capabilities".
In the art department work has been done on the interior and exterior design of the Carrack. And John and Chris, the two guys who take care of the ship commercials, started with their next project. "In addition to being a cool way to showcase our beautiful assets, commercials are also very useful for testing and proving out different aspects of our game art, animation, audio, and mocap pipelines. These will be extremely important to the production of Squadron 42 and the Persistent Universe - so having the ability to put them through their paces ahead of time will be a huge time (and money) saver [...]."
In Texas R&D (research & development) on a "modular space station art set" is continuing, which will make it easier to design a variety of locations in deep space, "including medical facilities, vacation resorts, military outposts, fuel depots, mining colonies and much more".
The team also started work on the shop interfaces and the associated persistent database, which will become the technology behind buying and selling items in Star Citizen. Our character team (lead by David Jennison and Billy Lord) has been helping to support the FPS module by assisting in the creation of the characters that you saw at the PAX Australia demo and more.
"A lot of preparatory work for the Subsumption AI system that will guide NPCs along their daily routines was completed, [..]. Production on the AI is now fully underway at CIG Austin and in the UK at Moon Collider, and will soon expand to include Behaviour."
Upcoming tasks include "adding support for Quantum Travel, which you’ll need to cover the vast distances within a solar system" and getting hangars to run on the server, "which is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for our upcoming social module that will allow players to invite other players into their hangar".
The UK audio team shared the inner workings of game sound as part of this month's report, by new Audio Director, Lee Banyard:
"[...] authored content was added that [modifies] the weapon sounds when they [are] triggered in different rooms, thus these spaces are more clearly defined in-play. This is a basic approach at a system we want to build upon much, much further, looking to ground the player in the world as much as we can and give them that sense of differing materials, space, and variation. All affecting the audio to reinforce immersion [...]."
They also experimented with different UI sounds for the suit & helmet as compared to the ships' HUD/UI. With regards to the concept of 'simulated sound' - "which is the mechanism whereby sound in space is justified" - the team is open to suggestions and ideas: "Something we’re thinking about is whether a standalone suit would do as good a job of audio simulation as a ship would, when exposed to space directly. Perhaps considering it might have less processing power than the ship, it might be lacking somewhat? Or perhaps sound isn’t simulated when in the suit, at all, or it picks up a data stream from the player’s ship which attenuates/falls off over distance? [...] we’re curious as to what you might all think about this."
On the other end of the spectrum, the British graphics team has started work on the volumetric gas shader, which may take up to six months to get into shape. "The intention is to use this shader for both massive gas clouds to bring our space environments to life and also smaller VFX like smoke and explosions. Rendering large semi-transparent volumes with real-time lighting is a significant challenge and is rarely tackled in computer games [...]".
Although the team in Montreal has almost finished the room system, "which will [...] allow you to customize your hangar layout inside the game client, the [...] integration for this is only planned for next year".
Meanwhile, the mobiGlas is coming along nicely with "transition animations between apps, the use of depth for different interface components, colour language, etc." "We’re seeing some pretty good progress from a couple of [mobiGlass] applications such as mG.Home, mG.Scheduler & mG.EasyShop"
Readying Terra Prime and ArcCorp for us to be able to visit.
FKA [Redacted] studios responsible for the Star Citizen FPS development. Beyond being consumed by the FPS demo for PAX Australia, they've been working on the maps for actual release of the FPS Module, hopefully early next year.
Same city, different offices - here the "main challenges tackled were all around notifications. Not only notifications to you the end-user but also subsystem to subsystem notification; how the web platform and the game will be communicating together in real-time for data pieces like presence information, inventory changes, game status and such. [...] these communications will be crucial because they will directly affect the player experience when you join a game through the AC lobby or check out the status of your friends on the website."
Next up is the PTU, which is short for Public Test Universe: "and is a complete replicated environment of the production servers including website and game servers. With the PTU we will be able to invite players to participate in testing phases by allowing them to copy over their account to the PTU servers and then connect to this new environment [...]. This will be especially useful when we want to get some initial user feedback without deploying the entire patch to everyone."
Also mentioned is work on "two step authentication", for increased security on the web site and entering the game.
"[...] working on the new Home for RSI. This new home will try to be more friendly to newcomers and more impactful for big releases. Out of this came out the decision to have a 'Community Hub' that will serve as your 'one stop shop' for all up-to-date info on Star Citizen."
Wrapping up this month's report is the Scotland-based team of Moon Collider, whose main project this month was their AI Recorder - making AI movements, behavior & scripts traceable after an in-game situation. "We improved the interface to make it easier to use and added the ability to save multiple recordings. We’re still working on being able to easily export recordings and share them around, which will make this tool perfect for allowing us to help designers debug issues that they see on their levels, particularly when we’re located on the other side of the globe, in a different time zone and country!"
Also "Moon Collider was all hands on deck this month as we did significant work improving AI across all major areas: dogfighting AI, FPS combat AI, and persistent universe NPC activities."