Roberts Space Industries

Transmission

General

ID:

17140

Comments:

25

Date:

July 3rd 2019

Star Citizen Monthly Report: June 2019

As the summer heats up in earnest, Europe’s weather-weary devs take air-conditioned refuge in the studios to tackle everything from new ships and locations to behind the scenes tweaks. Across the pond, it’s business as usual, with the well-accustomed LA and Texas teams working their way through AI additions and new release content in droves. Wherever you’re reading from, Alpha 3.6 is heating up and will be hitting the PTU in no time.

Star Citizen Monthly Report: June 2019

AI


June’s roundup starts as always with the AI Team, who enabled a multithreaded update of the Subsumption component. This will be included in the upcoming Alpha 3.6 release and will have a positive impact on overall game performance. They also updated the Tactical Point System to support asynchronous generation, which will improve the efficiency of large usable search radiuses and have less impact on frame update.

The Character Combat Team spent time refactoring human combat – new tactics have been added, NPCs understand open environments better, and a lot of bugs have been fixed. This update will hit the PU in Alpha 3.6. The first version of an ‘investigate’ behavior was also completed, which will enable NPCs to search for players if they manage to escape during combat.

Combat wise, behaviors were set up to make better use of the pilot skills and all initial ‘skill sheets’ were completed for the PU (and SQ42). Several flying maneuvers, such as the ‘fly by’ and ‘breakaway’ mentioned a couple of reports ago, were reworked to support strafing and the afterburner has been improved when flying over splines. They continued work on 3D pathfinding and are currently implementing a more efficient way to evaluate the environment and build flight paths using information from the distance field calculated by the physics code. This will also allow AI ships to better navigate highly complex environments, such as dense asteroid fields and intricate structures.

Finally for AI, the Social Team introduced several new functionalities to the vendor AI, such as enabling NPCs and players to interact with usables without the need to explicitly trigger interactions. For example, if a player wants to order a drink, they only need to move towards the bar as they would do in normal life. This behavior is constantly improving and will eventually support all types of vendor in ‘verse.


Animation


Last month, Animation continued to develop human-style enemies, including enabling them to use sidearms and the previsualization of two new enemy types. They worked closely with the Design Team to prototype melee combat and began working out the kinks in the takedown system. Closing out the technical needs for jumping was a priority too. They also began creating animations for ‘first selects’ (a unique animation for the first time a player holds/equips a weapon) and worked with Design on weapon inspection and pickups.

The team moved forward with ship-to-ship communications, including getting the g-force animations playing properly for AI pilots. Once the pipeline is completed, they’ll be able to start producing ship-to-ship comms calls in earnest.

Tying into the AI Team’s work above, Animation started on the motion capture data for the updated bartender and bar patron behavior and began work on a new mission giver coming later in the year.

They also continued on usables, with the aim to have all requested animations complete within the next few months.


Art (Environment)


In the UK, the Environment Team continued work on Orison’s whitebox, which is now at a stage both the designers and artists are happy with. Next up is the beginning of the greybox phase, where the floating city’s core forms and shapes are locked down and its functionality and flow are refined.

As players will see in the upcoming Alpha 3.6 release, the new space station exteriors were completed and deliver much greater variety to help make each location feel unique. Work has since started on the interiors too, with the same goal of improving variety.

Over in Germany, the various transit systems around the ‘verse were updated, specifically to make the waiting times between train rides shorter. The team also worked on updating signs and visual directions in several locations to make navigation easier, particularly for new visitors.

Progress on the ‘hi-tech’ hangars continues, with the team working through the various modules to get them ready for their release on microTech (and later Orison).

Both locations spent time squashing bugs and fixing issues for Alpha 3.6’s release to the Evocati.




Art (Ships)


Early in June, the LA-based team finished reworking the Origin 300 series (and its customization options) and spent the rest of the month wrapping up the Kruger P-52 Merlin and P-72 Archimedes. The Art Team is currently progressing the greybox stage of both the Banu Defender and Esperia Prowler.

The past month saw the UK-based team closing out the Vanguard Hoplite and Warden for Alpha 3.6, which involved adding Level of Detail (LOD), the final lighting pass, and finishing off the rear ramp and the Hoplite’s rear seating. Some of the finer exterior details were given a polish too, including the rear thrusters and flip-up lights.

Both sides of the pond came together to work on the Origin 890 Jump, which continues towards the ‘art complete’ stage. Last month, it had its last lighting pass, final art was submitted for the ‘battle bridge’, and the cargo bay elevator door, airlock, and hangar landing pad were added. A few small tasks remain on the ship’s exterior that, when complete, will head to the Tech Art Team for the damage pass.




Art (Weapons)


The Weapon Art Team finished modeling and texturing the Hedeby Gunworks Salvo frag pistol and Behring GP33 ‘MOD’ grenade launcher. They also cleaned up optical attachments and polished a few other weapons, including the Klaus & Werner Lumin V SMG.




Audio


June saw Audio make their final plans and preparations for Alpha 3.6. With the new content largely complete, the focus is now on bug fixing, optimization, and playtesting to make sure everything is ship-shape.

They also created new audio for some older weapons and user interfaces, which can be seen (and heard) in the upcoming release.

“You may want to give the Apocalypse Arms Scourge railgun a try… trust me.” -Audio Team.


Backend Services


Last month, the Server Engineering Team spent most of their time supporting Alpha 3.5.1, including loadout customization persistence. This was previously done using the legacy method but has recently been moved to take advantage of the benefits of the variable service. The matchmaker system has also been moved to be compatible with the newer group system.

Work started on the new router mesh, which will help scale and distribute backend service data load over multiple machines and reduce the backpressure experienced in the current system.


Characters


Character Art worked on several concepts to flesh out the Persistent Universe, including new NPC professions. The bounty hunter concepts were approved and moved into the modeling stage and the Tumbril biker jackets were finished, as were some upcoming subscriber items. The team is currently working on new tech for suits and animated helmets.


Community


After Alpha 3.5.1 was released, the Origin Celebration kicked off, giving backers the opportunity to try any of Origin’s flyable lineup for free. The star of the event was the newly reworked Origin 300 series – the first ship with customizable paint, interior, and components. To celebrate, the Community Team held a screenshot contest that combined the sophisticated lines of these luxury ships with the beauty of the densely populated city planet, ArcCorp. Several thousand great entries made it hard to select a winner and again raised the bar for future Star Citizen screenshot events. Head over to Spectrum to check out the winners and keep an eye out for the next one.

June also saw the premiere of the latest YouTube series, Pillar Talk, where each quarter, developers from the various studios around the world discuss the features hitting the upcoming patch. In the first episode, Chris Roberts is joined by Tony Zurovec, John Crewe, and Eric Kieron Davis for an in-depth discussion on the features of Alpha 3.6.

With the first wave of tickets for CitizenCon 2949 in Manchester already sold out, the team wants to share some details about community booths. Following the success of org booths at last year’s event, they plan to replicate this opportunity in Manchester, though this time they’ll be rebranded ‘community booths’ to emphasize that you don’t have to be an organization to participate. Head over to the CitizenCon website for more info and don’t hesitate to send in your application!


Design


Last month saw Design working hard to wrap up work for the ever-present Alpha 3.6, including a few remaining issues with the new black market ‘fences’ (receiver of illegal goods) currently being investigated by QA. When sorted, stolen goods will only be accepted at off-the-radar locations and normal shops will refuse to accept goods taken from other players and NPCs.

The ongoing work to service beacons continued, with the most recent iteration of Escort/Assist now visible in the Evocati build of Alpha 3.6. Rather than use the same system, real-world players will deploy ‘Escort’ beacons for support, while NPCs will exclusively use ‘Combat Assist’.

In-game ship pricing was also a priority in June and saw the team working hard to expand the existing methodology for scoring and pricing ships and components, itself an expansion of the work completed for last month’s release of the ship customizer. The team is currently wrapping up a pass on in-game ship pricing that should hit the PTU build of Alpha 3.6 soon.

Finally, the bartender (or ‘vendor’ behavior) is making great progress, with the ‘scooching’ tech mentioned in February and March’s reports reaching its final stages.


DevOps


This month, DevOps dramatically improved the asset creation process by breaking large jobs into much smaller groups to enable the art teams to review their changes quicker than before. They also had to make significant changes to the way they handle storage due to the massive increase in data and simultaneous build jobs.

The publishing operations arm of the team continues to publish build versions daily for internal use in addition to the PTU. Part of their support role is to monitor servers and collect operational data to support the dev teams and the integrity of the publishing process is paramount, so a lot of work goes into automation with human oversight. Modifications to the publishing systems are constant in order to support such a rapidly evolving game.


Engineering


June saw the Engine Team revise disocclusion handling, continue work on ground fog, and enhance the short-sequence sample pattern to reduce flickering for temporal sample anti-aliasing (TSAA). They also continued progress on the render thread global state cleanup, which is a prerequisite for the ongoing low-level renderer and render pass refactor.

They also completed the initial test runs of server-side object container streaming (OCS).

They continued work on the physics refactor too, with the current task being to convert queues. They also started initial work for the instancing of physics geometry to save system memory, provided support for 3D flight navigation, as made general optimizations. And as usual so close to a patch release, they fixed bugs and offered general ‘live’ support.


Features (Gameplay)


The Gameplay Features Team spent part of June working on VoIP & FoIP. This included adding the ability to ‘hail’ other ships by making video calls using the target HUD and a hotkey. Other options include using the comms and target multifunction displays (MFD) and the comms app in mobiGlas. Group chat preference improvements were also implemented along with the automatic creation of ship channels.

Away from comms, the team added the function to allow players to sell stolen goods at kiosks. A lot of work also went into the next iteration of the character customizer, which is coming post-Alpha 3.6.


Features (Vehicles)


June saw the US team split their time between further developing vehicle radar detection and scanning (including surface and detail scanning) and under-the-hood core tech improvements to the item port system. Time was also dedicated to fixing a variety of bugs and issues, from mining performance problems to crashes.

In the UK and Germany, focus was on finishing the misfire system and making sure it communicates properly with players. Hover Mode received a lot of attention too, with various changes and improvements currently being worked on. Exploratory work began on a brand-new design for ship MFDs too.


Graphics


Last month, the Graphics Team addressed a backlog of bugs and miscellaneous issues for Alpha 3.6, ranging from video-comms and render-to-texture bugs to issues with light animations and shadows. Progress continued on Planet Shading V4 and live-environment probes and is planned to ramp up in July.


Level Design


June saw Level Design move the criminal database and hacking screens to the ‘building block’ system. The team’s first attempt creating complex interactive screens, it has since been developed further with the assistance of the UI Team to make the process smoother, faster, and easier going forward. Related to the new screens are two new underground facilities on Hurston and ArcCorp, which can be used by players to hack into the criminal database and remove their crimestat.

The introduction of Transit System 2.0 meant that all elevators, trains, and shuttles across the PU had to be set up again. Aside from improvements behind the scenes, this change enabled the team to add several quality-of-life features for players such as multiple carriages on a single track, looping lines, multiple destinations, and limbo states for elevators.

Pre-production began on New Babbage, with the high-level layout, whitebox, and placement and tiering of shops and offices currently in progress. Collaboration with the Environment Art Team on Orison continues too, with the landing zone currently in the whitebox stage.

New Rest Stop locations that use procedurally generated exteriors were added and Delamar was rotated on its orbit to adjust its proximity to GrimHex. Fixes were also made to a bug that caused bounty hunter missions to not progress and prototyping was done for future missions.



Lighting


The Lighting Team was split between supporting the Alpha 3.6 release and creating new content. For Alpha 3.6, they updated legacy locations with fresh lighting, optimization, and polish, with the underground facilities, Port Olisar, and Levski all getting attention.

New content included lighting the utilitarian space station exteriors and planetary junk site locations. At the same time, they began prototyping lighting for dark and ambient caves along with the bright and functional hi-tech hangars.



Narrative


Narrative worked heavily with the design teams in Austin and Wilmslow to add finishing touches to the law system by helping to establish the various crimes and jurisdictions of Stanton. They also made progress with the AI Team to refine how NPCs could be grouped together into archetypes of behaviors for future releases. Work continued on the Banu and Xi’an languages, with this month’s focus on expanding vocabulary. They also assisted in the Origin Celebration and customizer launch, made progress on a few new commercials that were pitched last month for upcoming ships, and assisted in the CitizenCon 2949 website launch.


Player Relations


Player Relations continued supporting the players and Evocati testing the upcoming releases. They completed analysis that showed volunteers have contributed over 11.2 years of playtime to the Evocati Test Flight phases. Their efforts and dedication are instrumental in getting additional builds out, which the team discussed on Inside Star Citizen last week. As a reminder, Evocati invitations are based on playtime and contribution to the Issue Council, so start reporting if you’re interested in joining the fold. Player Relations also added new articles to the growing Knowledge Base, which will be helpful for players of all levels running into issues


Props


At the start of June, The Props Team shifted into full release mode to focus on the remaining polish tasks and fix a few bugs that crept in from the metric changes to the dressing and cargo props. Optimizations were made to the decal textures and usage too. 

Work continued on the bar experience, with the templates defined last month used to create final art for the cocktail station and a more generic bar dressing set, and improvements were made to the glass and drink materials.

 Another big focus was the creation of assets for the Origin 890 Jump to add luxury to its many, many rooms. Finally, the team completed the prototyping on a few interactive assets that will roll into production during the next quarter. 


QA


The transition from the old to the new transit system is complete and the final QA Test Request was successful. UK QA mainly focused on testing the system with multiplayer scenarios, while Germany’s team focused on single player. All QA locations assisted with the backlog of integration QA test requests, which entails testing shelf changes coming from a feature stream to be integrated into one of the main branches, such as ‘Game-Dev’ or ‘SC-Alpha’. They also continue to perform weekly performance passes on the SC-Alpha release branch as well as page heap testing to stay on top of memory corruption issues.

Testing of the new strafing mechanic from the Ship AI Team is also underway. This new feature makes enemy NPC ships more interesting (and challenging) to fight against. Location testing also began for the new PU rest stops.


System Design


Starting with FPS combat, System Design continued their work on the first reactions to audio and visual stimuli mentioned last month before moving onto reactions to grenades and bullets.

 On the ship AI side, they implemented target selections to allow AI to switch focus between multiple enemies based on different parameters, such as damage done and proximity. They’re currently working out the last few kinks in the unified vendor behavior before it’s considered complete.


Tech Animation


Technical Animation worked closely with many other teams on ship comms calls, animation workflows, and processes. They also continued to work through the backlog of outstanding wildline and dogfighting comms animations and are currently implementing the ones already processed. The Maya tools source control refactoring is complete too, which will allow the animators to work unhindered whether there is a source control connection or not.


Tech Art


Last month, Tech Art (together with Core Engine and Tech Animation) took strides towards establishing the new updated in-house facial rigging pipeline. In order to flesh out the DNA gene pool and populate the Star Citizen universe with millions of unique looking characters, a large number of face rigs for both female and male characters need to be created. An in-house facial rigging solution will give devs the required flexibility and full control over production scheduling and rig asset quality (and therefore animation and deformation quality). The first test case and benchmark for this new system was the face rig for the female playable character. The challenge now lies in ensuring that the animation quality matches (or surpasses) that of the male playable character. Initial results look very promising and the team is excited to take the next steps.


Turbulent (Services)


Last month, focus was on the ongoing voice service rework, with the voice session manager reaching one of its two important milestones – the regrouping of the existing code relative to voice session management in a dedicated manager. This allows the team to move to the second milestone, which involves augmenting the manager to include a second session.  

The team also delivered two projects with more direct visibility. Turbulent also developed the application programming interface (API) that will ultimately enable players to communicate more easily when they are on the same ship via an automatic call request. 


Turbulent (Web platform)


Throughout June, Turbulent supported the Origin Celebration and the launch of the 300i’s customizer. Behind the curtain, the team continue to work on additional backend features to further streamline the customizer and ensure its stability and longevity for years to come.

Turbulent also created a new CitizenCon microsite to support this year’s event in Manchester, England. The first wave of tickets went on sale on June 27th and sold out within a few minutes.

The team has also worked on a series of promotions to support the launch of Alpha 3.6. Stay tuned to see them in the near future.



User Interface (UI)


In June, the UI Team worked on screens for the Gemini S71 rifle and Greycat Industrial Multi-Tool alongside getting the ship purchase kiosk ready to use for Alpha 3.6.

The UI Tech Team added flexible layouts and scrolling lists to the new UI system, supported the Vehicle Team with the new Gladius HUD, and worked with the Mission Team on their new hackable terminals.


VFX


 VFX spent most of the month continuing their feature work on Planetary Effects V4. Further improvements were made to color tinting, allowing greater accuracy when players quickly traverse differently colored terrains. They also prototyped a method of allowing particles to orient to terrain, which allows effects to convincingly follow the curves and contours of the environment. Finally, with Alpha 3.6 drawing ever closer, the team continued with their ‘decoupled particles’ rollout on existing locations spent time fixing bugs and polishing effects. 

Conclusion

WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH



End Transmission

Part of

Monthly Reports

More in this series

Comments
025.0

Feedback

Loading Additional Feedback