November 11th 2020
What you are about to read is the latest information on the continuing development of Squadron 42 (SCI des: SQ42).
Thanks to the work of dedicated operatives, we’ve uncovered classified information on advanced Vanduul combat techniques, capital ship behaviors, Archon Station, and more. Read on for the full debrief.
Remember, the information within this communication is highly sensitive and must not fall into enemy hands.
UEE Naval High Command
The first pass of the ‘surrender’ behavior was completed. This allows NPCs that are under pressure and without ammunition to decide to surrender. During their regular combat behavior, NPCs will try to find lootable ammo boxes (and in the future request help from friendlies and loot available weapons). If no options are available, they’ll try to survive by staying out of dangerous environments.
The team began implementing support for character traits. This functionality exposes the ability of selected traits in the ‘Character Skills and Traits Editor.’ The designers can then assign traits to templates that are then assigned to characters. These can be used to either modify or enable specific behaviors in certain characters. For example, a ‘coward’ NPC won’t try to put pressure on the player.
Several bugs were fixed for visual perception, cover usage, and Vanduul dodge reactions, too.
The team continued to iterate on missile targeting, first of all ensuring turrets respond immediately to incoming hostile torpedoes when not in combat mode. They then adjusted targeting priorities to give a better balance when capital ships are fighting multiple targets. This will also improve how seat operators handle burst fire when controlling ship weapons.
Time was also spent improving how collision avoidance handles missiles, with the team figuring out how to filter out missiles in the code due to them not being part of collision avoidance. For the accuracy calculation, the team implemented different convergence speeds towards targets when the AI is hitting or missing the target. This simulates NPCs trying to hit a target faster when they are missing but relaxing slightly when they’re on target.
The capital ship combat behavior was also improved to allow longer-range combat. NPCs will now react to an enemy starting to charge a weapon, too.
Several bugs were fixed and improvements made to the break-away movement request, the patrol-around-position assignment, and the hostility of specific targets.
All of these usables are item providers, which NPCs can search to obtain specific objects. These objects are actually used by the AI, so consuming food and drink impacts the NPC’s status system. This also expands the use of grip tags in the ‘take,’ ‘prepare,’ and ‘place’ use-channel.
The team are currently working on several behaviors that will benefit both the PU and Squadron 42, including arcade-machine use and dancing. Playing arcade machines will be one of the available leisure activities, while dancing will likely be a special activity for the patrons of discos and other appropriate areas.
Tasks progressed for the ‘social and life’ animations, including the chowline, mess hall, bartender drinks, bathrooms, armory character, engineer, and exercises. They also added the AI surrender mechanic and continued with Vanduul melee combat.
Facial animation assets were created for the Feature teams, including effort sets, and female-player performances continued. On the motion-capture side, new shoots for the Actor Feature, Social AI, and Combat AI teams were planned. A few outstanding scenes were also completed and improvements were made to the MotionBuilder skeleton
The Chop-Shop contains a mix of hard surface and organic elements, so the team experimented with both scanned data and procedural systems to achieve the final result. They also worked alongside the Design teams to construct the location’s playable spaces, with the organic and hard surface kits being used with the completed whitebox layouts.
Archon Station is the largest location that players visit in the game, so the team who worked on Aciedo have now moved over to form a larger Archon strike-team. They began by closing off the hangar and are now starting to break down a kit of shared library assets for use throughout the station. This is driven by a new style guide that provides clear direction for the interior to keep it consistent with the previously completed exterior. Planetside, progress was made on the Chemline Solutions facility, which was placed among new ground terrain.
Steady progress was made on the Javelin and Idris interiors too, with lighting, material, and geometry polished. The finishing touches were also added to the Javelin’s engine room.
Elsewhere, excellent progress with made on the space outpost kit. This station asset is unique to the Odin System and will be used to populate space scenes with believable facilities and stations. They also implemented a hugely important story location.
The team began implementing FPS radar and scanning, accounting for weapon emissions and audio signifiers. Further time was dedicated to cooperative locomotion, with trolly push/pull polished and the smooth locomotion trajectory code refactored to better integrate into AI path-following. This will result in higher-quality visuals, particularly with character strafing. It will also provide better animation alignment when entering usables, which will also help with the in-development motion-matching tech.
The SQ42 Feature Team continued to improve camera depth-of-field when in conversation or when following an NPC. They also added TrackView support to better trigger the destruction of ships and added additional polish to the dynamic lighting rig.
The team also improved mission startup, revising which elements object-container-streaming loads first. The firing-range flowgraph setup was revisited, too.
The light-beam shader was also worked on, which underwent significant quality improvements and bug fixes. This feature helps the team simulate distant beams of light beyond the range that can be simulated by the volumetric fog system.
Work also continued on the Gen12 renderer and the automated testing system.
The Level Design Team moved several FPS sections to a near-complete state. This will highlight any additional mo-cap required to extend the narrative and support the multiple approaches supported across most of the environments.
The Space/Dogfight Team supported the various feature teams. For example, AI and Flight Gameplay are working on enhanced path-following and hazard awareness behaviors. They also continued to space-scape the Odin System alongside the Art teams.
As the various environments continue to develop, the Art teams asked for support on additional props or environmental set dressing. These include additional story indicators that reward players who dig a little deeper and explore the game’s locations.
As mentioned in last month’s report, Narrative continued to work with Audio and Combat AI to develop the Vanduul culture and behavior, while the team’s xenolinguist further developed the language.
The team also began overhauling combat animations to remove technical glitches in AI weapon holding, ships were rigged for the Animation Team, and support was given to Social AI.