A new release of Spectrum, a major milestone for the Launcher and additional 3.0 launch support kept Turbulent very busy for the month. Here’s what we’ve been working on:
The release of Spectrum 3.7.1 consisted of bug fixes, quality of life improvements and unnoticeable changes to sustain long term development and maintenance. Let’s talk about latter first.
The team is improving the code base and release process so that launching new versions remains a frictionless process as much as possible. Spectrum also adopted a new versioning scheme to better communicate the scope of a release and then proceeded to update a lot of internal dependencies to avoid potential future breaking changes. There’s also discussions about bumping React to the latest version as well as migrating the code base to TypeScript. Those changes would allow us to trap more bugs before going into production and refactor parts of the project without affecting stability.
Also, the team set to improving how to handle change requests, better manage priorities coming from different sources (Jira, Issue Council, Forums, internal communications, etc.) and get better at tracking/communicating progress.
Last, here’s summary of the latest application changes:
* Addressed several pain points for Android device users where entering text would produce unpredictable results.
* Spectrum now suggests a list of mentions based on the authors of the last messages in a lobby when typing ‘@’.
* Embedded Twitch clips will no longer automatically play.
* Significant progress has been made on Custom Emojis and Custom Roles and with the hope to deliver those for 3.8.
Launcher testing started in October with the release of the RSI
Launcher 1.0.0-alpha.20 to Evocati for testing. This is the first exposure public users have had with the Delta Patcher.
Users have been very happy with the Delta Patcher, as some patches are as little as 100 megabytes! Pretty dramatic reduction in patch sizes compared to the previous technology used to deploy Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 and below.
With help from the great Evocati, the team has been able to gain exposure to a multitude of user setups, hardware configuration, Windows versions and personal user preferences that affect the function and operation of the launcher. Most of the following weeks have been spent iterating on issues found during this phase and fixing bugs that affect patching and gameplay. Most notably, issues related to Windows N and file permissions have taken a lot of time to figure out. As always, the Issue Council has been our greatest ally in getting the bugs vetted, verified and checked before being tackled.
- The application will now properly trap game crashes and application errors.
- The game library polling mechanism have been tuned to a real world case with many users listening for updates.
- The application will now properly repair permissions on the game library if a permission error is detected.
- During a “Verify Files” the launcher will also check for an update!
- The sound system has been expanded to provide a better sonic experience in the launcher. Volume slider!
- 5 new background music tracks have been added from the SC soundtrack!
Only one major item remains for 1.0.0 of the launcher — the specific handling of the initial download, which is a problem with the new object based Delta Patcher. A game build is comprised of many files (upwards of 300k-400k) many of which are smaller files. Currently, when patching from scratch, your launcher will fetch all those files. This process is not only highly inefficient but also slow and error prone. The team is currently working on solving this by allowing the distribution of a “Kick Start” pack that will contain all small files and the base assets to start the game minimally. This base pack can then be fetched first, with a multi-threaded range downloader, if you have no pack files on disk. Once the kick start pack is downloaded, a normal delta patch can be applied to bring you to the latest version.
The team plans on tracking on base pack file per minor release (semver) of the game, which will always keep it fresh and fast.
They’re excited to get this in your hands as they believe this significantly improves the onboarding and update experience of Star Citizen.
This month, the Turbulent team brought to life the 2017 Anniversary sale. The sale unveiled two concept ships: the Anvil Hawk a small, light fighter with an emphasis on weaponry, and the Aegis Hammerhead an impressive patrol ship with multiple turrets designed to combat fighters. These two concept ships were just the start, as each day passed they released a chance to nab some your favorite ships, including a limited allotment of the Idris and Javelin.
Along with this sale, the team created the Observer test, which was your chance to test your knowledge of all-star citizen ships. The test proved to be too easy for our most die-hard fans, however it was still great to see the community brag on spectrum with their gold badges.
The team is happy to reveal a new website with the Live release of 3.0. The design and development team have been working hard to tie up loose ends and are extremely excited to release the new designs and continue building on the new and improved platform.
In addition to the re-design they are taking the opportunity to add a new Production Roadmap. Its purpose is for you, the community to be able to better track the features that are important to you. This is will be vastly different than our text version of the production schedule.