October 9th 2019
What you are about to read is the latest information on the continuing development of Squadron 42 (SCI des: SQ42).
Operatives around the world collected the intel needed to provide you with this progress report. Intelligence suggests we’ve uncovered intel on combat takedowns, an updated MobiGlas for Squadron 42, and fixes to the gas cloud VFX tech.
The information contained in this communication is extremely sensitive and it is of paramount importance that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Purge all records after reading.
UEE Naval High Command
They also improved reactions to things NPCs only briefly see, particularly if the detected entity is in their peripheral vision. They achieved this by implementing a more complex first reaction, so being detected is slightly more forgiving to allow the player to better control the situation.
Alongside behaviors, they made the first pass on accuracy and targeting controls for characters. This includes making the chest the preferred targeting location, with the following adjustments based on designer-defined accuracy values. Eventually, this will be connected to the skill system.
Ship AI worked improved and balanced ship behaviors, with a focus on the ‘DefendTarget’ logic. They also cleaned up the landing and takeoff code and slightly refactored how quantum travel (QT) logic works. This included simplifying the 3D pathfinding code by moving all additional steps into the behavior logic and TPS.
Parallel to this, progress continued on new 3D pathfinding code, which involves moving a lot of the processing logic into jobs that execute small calculations while the ship flies around the universe. This allowed them to extend the movement system to support patchable plans that can resume the pathfinding calculation when needed.
Social AI looked at identifying and clarifying the possible scenarios required to implement a large number of social behaviors. They’re currently investigating the details so they can predefine the structural setup of the usables needed to allow the designers to create the infrastructure alongside the behaviors. These scenarios help identify edge cases to tackle on the second pass for the usable slotting code implementation.
A prototype was developed for the ‘item provider’ – a usable that provides an NPC with all the necessary elements to prepare a specific item. This enables the team to create a data-driven process for the designers to quickly implement the required content.
Aside from fixing bugs and making systems more robust and stable, optimization work was done to general character navigation, including a way for navigation links to connect multiple meshes. This allows the modular creation of spaceships and stations to correctly define navigation volumes that can be connected to each other. It also opens up a lot of possibilities to NPCs, who can now systemically path through different sections of spaceships.
The on-going female player tests resulted in a couple of tech requests to the Feature Team – a quick way to switch between female and male characters in-editor, and a way to render sequences with both male and female characters. These additions will make it possible to review sequences without too much manual capture.
The request for a female-character-specific additive positional/rotational adjustment track mentioned last month made progress. This will enable quick adjustments of the (virtual) camera to properly frame the female character model, as it is slightly smaller than the male equivalent.
A complex sequence featuring a navigation ship spline from a space station to a Bengal carrier was completed too.
The Actor Feature Team stared adding temperature to the actor status system. This will affect a character’s performance and health depending on how hot and cold they are and takes the environment, humidity, and windchill into account. They also continued developing the personal inventory system using a new personal inner-thought menu. Melee combat improved and now features combos and melee weapons, while staggers and knockdowns based on force were added. For example, a pistol will have less effect than a shotgun.
Physics work included finalizing and submitting the signed distance field (SDF) system, which is used to accelerate collision checks and intersection tests of rays against complex geometry, such as ships. Several optimizations were also made to soft bodies. These included enabled attached vertices to not create n^2 LRA constraints, allowing the sub-step mode to only perform collision detection once instead of multiple times per sub-step, and increasing collision shape counts to account for more complicated geometry.
Significant attention went to visual testing, which is the process used to find bugs in the engine as quickly as possible. The automated version was reworked to run on any programmer’s machine before they submit code changes to check that they won’t detrimentally affect the engine. This is important because the sheer size of the engine and its feature set make it extremely difficult to manually test all potential knock-ons from a change.
The team in Frankfurt worked with Cinematics and Character Art to finalize character loadouts, rigged props for cinematic animations, and implemented a large number of comms calls..
In Frankfurt, the team are currently providing tool support and fixing current issues with the gas cloud entity. They recently fixed a noticeable seam between voxel grids, despite them lining up perfectly. They accomplished this by adding an extra layer of voxels around the volume to create an overlap. This not only allows them to blend between different voxel grids but also blend between grids with different resolutions
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