Monthly Studio Report: April 2016
Yesterday, we pushed the first iteration of Star Citizen Alpha 2.4 to the Persistent Test Universe, and much of the month of April was spent in service of that endeavor. Alpha 2.4 promises to be one of our biggest patches yet: not only adding new front-facing content like ships and functional stores, but long-awaited “under-the-hood” changes that create the necessary foundation for all the content yet to come.
These monthly reports are one of my favorite things we do here at Cloud Imperium Games. Even with all the internet shows like the 10 For Series, Around the Verse and Reverse the Verse that share information on the development of our games every week, there’s still so much more that the hundreds of people worldwide supporting Star Citizen work on. We may not always be able to share every detail, but I’m confident in both the quantity and quality of that which we share each and every week; and in this case every month.
With that, let’s dive in and see what each studio has been working on in the month of April.
CIG Los Angeles
Made in the Shade
What a month April was! Looking at where we were in March, it is clear this is an epic undertaking and we are making steady progress on this grand adventure called Star Citizen. With another month come and gone, it is that time again where we review what has been accomplished in the CIG Los Angeles office, specifically.
While the Los Angeles office is largely focused on getting 2.4 on to the PTU, each team is focused on multiple facets of its development. So let us take a look at what each team has been up to for the month of April.
Engineering Lead Paul Reindell has been absolutely busy this month with the Los Angeles Engineering team. Last month we mentioned we had hired 2 new Gameplay Engineers, Patrick Mathieu and Chad McKinney. He has been helping bring the new Engineers up to speed, making sure they are well-versed in myriad processes involved at CIG. Furthermore, he has been doing support for 2.4 and several new features that are rolling out, including the Shopping UI, the new ItemSystem 2.0, and one of the biggest aspects, persistence. We are moving closer to having actual persistence in-game and the Engineering team has been making herculean efforts in making that function a reality.
Chad Zamzow has been working on building out the shield management mechanics, working with Tech Design Lead Kirk Tome on allowing player-control over the shield system. With the Shield Generator work being done, for the month of April he spent part of the time working on a Controller Interface for that feature and HUD code for the Shield Emitter.
Mark Abent has been working on the Seat feature, fixing up broken code and cleaning up the Entering Seats function including fixing player interactions, player enter/exit/idle and attachments. By the end of the month, Mark had progressed on to tackling the Phys Controller.
Ariel Xu has continually been working on creating our internal tool, the Port Editor. As mentioned in the past, this tool will allow the Designer greater power over editing the game, which is critical for expediting design and balancing efforts especially with the increasing numbers of assets entering the pipeline. Building game design tools is an incredibly exciting but daunting task. The ultimate goal is to provide designers with the tools they need to create new systems and features with as easy an interface as possible.
Under Paul’s guidance, our two newbie Engineers Chad McKinney & Patrick Mathieu have jumped headfirst into the game. Chad is already hard at work on the Doors system. He is currently working on a signal pipe set up to allow greater modularity within the Door system after he finished working on proxy triggers such as an automatic door opening, audio triggers, and animations. Patrick has been working on developing Controller Managers. These are systems that designate seat-priority, priorities for components, and adding events to components.
Lead Tech Designer Kirk Tome has been occupied with a lot of priorities over the month of April. One priority has been discussing and dissecting (alongside his partners across the globe) the new and upcoming ships to be released. He has also supported the Tech Design team’s endeavors regarding the refactor of Coolers and Power Plants along with charting out Shields and Quantum Travel Drives.
Matt Sherman has not only been working on getting the Reliant flight-ready, he is also writing up the design brief for the 85X and the white box setup for the much-lauded Herald. Matt has also been working hand-in-hand with Kirk to chart out the intricacies of Quantum Travel beyond the basic and introductory mechanisms currently available in the baby PU.
Over the past few weeks, we have been showcasing several new mechanics/gameplay features we have been fleshing out. Of these new features, the Salvage functionality is one that Calix Reneau has been looking into and he has made steady progress to prepare this system for its first rollout. Furthermore, Calix has also looked into how terminal stations will function. This refers to the workstations players will use to operate various features such as the Salvage mechanic, what functionalities will be available on the terminal’s screen and so forth.
Squadron 42, Squadron 42, Squadron 42…
We have been jamming full-tilt on pouring over the scripts to figure out what pieces we need to write the additional scripts needed to fill in the gaps, reflect revised level flow and general ambiance.
I would love to be able to go into more detail, but I am reenlisting my strict NO SPOILER policy. We will hopefully be able to go into a little more detail when we can come up for air.
In the meantime, we have been juggling needs for the Persistent Universe; everything from taking fiction passes at various locations and working out potential narrative possibilities to generating item descriptions (a task that will probably be pretty consistent for some time), helping with signage and other environmental storytelling and writing a lot of comm/message text.
Again, we will be able to go into a bit more detail once these things go public.
Until next time.
The Engineering team is not the only team that has expanded over the month of April. The CIG Los Angeles art family increased with the addition of Byungjin “Jin” Hyun. An incredibly talented artist, Jin has plunged in by working on the interior of the Drake Caterpillar. Grouping up with 3D Art Lead Elwin Bachiller and Daniel Kamentsky who are working on creating the interior habitation sections of the Caterpillar, it is a ship that is turning out to be utterly beautiful.
While the three of them are hard at work in bringing the Caterpillar to life, these assets would not be possible without an amazing team of Concept Artists who produce the aesthetic direction on what to create. Concept Artists Gurmukh Bhasin and Justin Wentz created the concept pieces for the Caterpillar’s exterior and command bridge, respectively.
CG Supervisor Forrest Stephan, after returning from a sojourn to our UK office, has been applying his substantial talents towards creating the Pristine Materials for the Pilot Flight Suit, specifically for the game asset surfacing and supporting the clothing shopping for the PU.
Omar Aweidah completed the high-poly modeling for the light armor while one of our newer artists, Cheyne Hessler, has created the game asset geometry for player jetpacks.
Finally, our own haute couture fashionista, Jeremiah Lee, has bent his skills towards designing costuming/clothing for the PU. After all, one must look good when jaunting through the 30th century.
Global Technical Content
As we have explained in the past, the Tech Content team is unique. While amorphous in form, its functions and directives are very clear under the leadership of Sean Tracy. Sean has been composing the design docs for how the Character Customization tech will function while Senior Technical Artist Mark McCall has tackled the task of R&D. This is to become the system that will allow players to customize their in-game characters. It makes you wonder whose character’s face will be immortalized in Star Citizen? Will yours go down in infamy as a vicious pirate who disrupts trade lanes in their never-ending quest for loot? Or will it be a benevolent face of a loved politician? Perhaps an epic beard will give you a dashing, roguish look that can charm the masses. These are the things we imagine as we think about where Star Citizen will take us all.
Associate Technical Artist Patrick Salerno’s work on LOD’s have given new polish on various Components such as the Landing Gear, Escape Pods, Main Thrusters, Seats, and Weapon Mounts just to name a few items from his comprehensive list. Senior Technical Artist Matt Intrieri has also addressed an audio issue where Gladiator pilot seat enter and exit animations were causing the associated audio effect to trigger elsewhere instead of being centered on the geometry. In addition to the audio issue, Matt also resolved multiple bugs ranging from enter/exit animations to retrofitting Legacy Ships such as the Anvil Hornet.
On the rigging side of the Tech Content team, after completing the Undersuit Armor game asset rigging, Senior Rigger John Riggs is in progress of creating pipeline scripts for Maya. Associate Rigger Gaige Hallman resolved clothing volume clipping on characters along with several massive clothing fixes to prepare for the upcoming shopping experience.
LA-QA’s focus has been on the upcoming 2.4 release, testing new features and ensuring stability and performance across all builds. In particular, the team concentrated on:
- 2.4 Persistence Features
- New Shopping Implementation
- Persistent Universe Clothing
- Starfarer Flight Performance
The team also got an added treat of taking a first look at large scale solar systems with the hopes of implementing the procedural planets functionality in the coming months.
Speaking of amorphous, this is a descriptor often used to describe what it actually is that Producers do. Senior Producer Eric Kieron Davis not only manages the CIG LA Production team, he has also overseen most of the ongoing construction and beautification of our new office. Although we moved into the building back in November, we have begun flourishing the final touches in order to make this office feel like home. This includes overseeing the art pieces hung up on the meeting room walls, contracting individuals to create and mount images from Star Citizen on our commissary walls, and also our really awesome faux-airlock doors that lead from the lobby into the heart of the building. Office comfort makes a big difference during crunch times, and the immersive environment sustains energy and creativity more than many truly appreciate.
Associate Producers Mark Hong and Randy Vazquez have been tireless dervishes of energy in keeping the LA teams focused on getting 2.4 on to the PTU and then out to the official release. Randy is responsible for setting up regular internal, office-wide playtest sessions to keep everyone familiar and fluent with our game content while maintaining schedules of in-progress as well as future upcoming tasks for the Tech Design and Engineering teams, while Mark Hong supports the Tech Content and Art teams. These tasks are not just for 2.4 but also looking ahead at features coming down the pipeline. Production Assistant Darian Vorlick for the past month has been helping the Community team by temporarily taking over social network update responsibilities on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as supporting the Production staff where needed.
Like any previous month at CIG, there is not a single moment where the office is not humming with activity. With our focus largely on finishing 2.4, April was definitely not shy of new content either. We also introduced the updated MISC Prospector and in celebration of its launch, we included a Concept Sale along with quality elements to accompany it such as details on Mining, a “job application” for mining operations at Shubin Interstellar, and our regular weekly programs like “Around the Verse,” the “10 for the Chairman/Developers” series, and “Bugsmashers.”
The month of May is looking to be no less exciting and intense. Your support and enthusiasm along with Chris Roberts’ vision, inspires us to no end. We hope you enjoy what we have accomplished this month and we look forward to sharing new content in the near and distant future. Thank you for being a Star Citizen on this journey.
See you next month.
This month has been all about persistence and testing 2.4. All teams have been working hard to test and fix various items that are coming in to the live version of the game. 2.4 is shaping up to be a monumental update to the game which will bring online many systems which have been in development for some time, and set the stage for many more features to come online in upcoming publishes. Kudos to everyone in Austin for their hard work. Here are detailed reports from each team!
The primary focus of the ATX Development Team this month has been working towards the first release of Shopping and Persistence. Rob Reininger and our Design Team here in Austin with support from BHVR have been busy setting up the shops to function on Port Olisar in addition to what already exists in Area18. We’ve got Casaba Outlet and Cubby Blast open for business, and we’ll aim to sell clothing, armor, and weapons in our first release. It has required a lot of work from several different folks to make sure that the clothing and weapon items are properly spawned in on the store shelves and racks, getting the mannequin props set up so that clothing and armor can be properly purchased and equipped from it, and setting up all the data so that it properly appears in the Purchase UI. Pete Mackay has been spending his time balancing the pricing in the game and creating a new formula that will help determine pricing for everything from clothing to ships.
We’ve also spent some time nailing down the short and long-term design requirements for what we’re calling “Try On/Inspect Mode”. This mode will switch on when selecting the appropriate “Use Verb” within the Shop UI and it will allow you to view a potential purchase on your character before actually buying it. We’ve got an initial implementation in place and are scheduling out the rest of the features for future releases.
We’re turning our focus now to getting Dumper’s Depot online so that you can shop for ship components and weapons in-game as well. Rob Reininger is drafting up a Game Design Document for “Purchasing via Terminal”, which will be utilized in shops that have an inventory too large to fit on all of the shelves. Ship components/weapons and ships in general are a great example of where this feature would be used.
In other news, the work on the first deployment of the Persistence backend is now complete! Jason Ely, Tom Sawyer, and Jeff Zhu worked diligently this month to finally make our services persistent. We’ve provided our programmers and designers the ability to hook into this now so that we can start fully persisting things like player health, ship damage, hostility level, item purchases, ammo count, and much more. We’ve also implemented a new currency tentatively called Alpha UEC which will be used primarily to test shopping and other services. This new currency will help with balancing the pricing and overall economy and is subject to wipe at any time in order to implement new fixes. We’re turning our attention now to scheduling out a roadmap for getting actual Persistent UEC in the game.
Another major feature we’ve been working is Port Modification. We’ve been working with the UI Team in the UK to implement a new app in the mobiGlas that will allow you guys to customize your hangars and eventually much more. We’ve ported our hangars and flair objects over to using the new Item System 2.0 so that now you can access specific “ports” around your hangar and place things wherever you like! Eventually this will allow for customization of ship loadouts as well. We’ve gotten the ball rolling in fleshing out a design for using this app in other locations as well, like the Crusader map.
Our Ship Team here in Austin continues their work from last month. Chris Smith is working on the new-and-improved Hornet F7A model for Squadron 42, currently in greybox phase. Josh Coons is trucking along on the Drake Herald, also in greybox phase. These ships are coming along nicely and it is exciting to see ships both old and new get the extreme attention to detail that these guys provide with all the experience and resources that we’ve cultivated as we’ve grown.
The Animation Team in Austin has been supporting in various areas of the project, per usual. Our Ship Animation Team has had their hands in ships of all shapes and sizes, including bug fixing for the Starfarer, reviews on the Hornet F7A, Herald, Caterpillar, and Dragonfly, and support for the Idris. They’ve also created some new animations for entering/exiting the Freelancer ladder and put in place the combat enter/exits for the Aurora and Avenger. The PU Animation Team, meanwhile, has actually wrapped up their work on the Spaceship Showroom and Nightclub scene animations and are turning their attention to helping out on Squadron 42. They will be creating background animations for the performance capture scenes as well as implementing locomotion sets for various characters in the game.
Lastly, lighting artist Emre Switzer has nearly finished his final tweaks on the Levski landing zone. The market area is properly lit and appropriately dingy. Overall Levski is a fantastic environment and we can’t wait to get it y’all’s hands!
April has been almost entirely devoted to 2.4.0 testing. With Persistence coming online, a slew of new features have been added that need to be documented and tested. Our Persistent Universe Specialist, Todd Raffray, has been working closely with the design team to document all the new features that have been coming online for 2.4.0 and keeping the rest of the QA team updated on their expected behavior. Jeff Daily has been working on expanding our internal check-lists to accommodate all of the new features, as well as improving some of our older check-lists. Shopping alone adds many new test cases to our regular check-lists; here’s just a handful of tests that need to be performed for shopping alone:
- Does the shopping interface open and properly progress through each screen?
- Is all the information on the shopping interface displaying correctly?
- Are there typos?
- Are the correct clothing brand names and descriptions displayed?
- Are there localization identifiers being displayed?
- Is the transaction being processed by the server?
- Is the aUEC properly deducted from the player’s account?
- Is the purchased item granted to the player’s account?
- Does mobiGlas update the player’s aUEC after the purchase has been completed?
- Do the items appear correct on the character?
- Do they clip the character in any unexpected ways?
- Are there shader issues with the new clothing materials?
- Are they deforming properly during animations?
- Do the items appear correct on the shelves/clothes racks?
- Do the items display their Augmented Reality interface when viewing them on the clothes rack and is the information displayed correct?
- When using the “Try On” option, do the items get removed from the clothes rack while the character is wearing them, and are they returned once the character exits the “Try On” interface?
- Do your new clothes appear when other players are viewing your character?
- Does the character behave appropriately when activating the airlock while wearing civilian clothes?
Persistence doesn’t just add new functionality, such as in-game shopping, but also changes existing features like hangar customization. In 2.4.0, players will now be able to choose what flair items they display and where they display them. As a result, Robert Gaither has been working closely with our Persistent Universe Designer, Rob Reininger, on setting up item ports throughout all the hangars in order to allow you to decide how you want to customize them.
With any new major release comes new ships! 2.4.0 will see the Reliant reach Hangar-Ready status, and the Starfarer has now been made Flight-Ready so we’ve been doing our passes on both ships to ensure they’re performing as expected. As an added bonus, weapon projectiles will now properly transition across/inside local physics grids! That’s right, you can now shoot from outside to inside of a ship (or vice-versa) and hit players who just uhhh… happen to be in the way. So feel free to start practicing your boarding tactics and engage in some fps firefights in the Starfarer (and any other ship with a large enough interior) when 2.4.0 hits!
Andrew Rexroth and Katarzyna Mierostawska have been continuing Squadron 42 testing along with their UK counterparts, and have been documenting all the test cases necessary for when the time comes for the rest of the QA Team to jump into the fray in full force.
Our QA Information Specialist, Marissa Meissner, has recently been promoted to QA Lead, and has had her hands full training our latest new QA members: Jesse Mark (Jesse-CIG), Don Allen (Tunahead-CIG), Scott McCrea (Spectral-CIG), Bryce Benton (Underscore-CIG) and Brandon Crocker (Neverender-CIG). Please feel free to welcome them appropriately (weapons hot) if you run across them in game!
And finally, it has been 0 days since a member of QA has died to the airlock.
April was a super month for Game Support! We wrapped up work on 2.3.1 at the first part of the month, then focused heavily on catching up on our ticket work.
Most significantly, we collaborated with Toast to establish the process for our brand new Evocati Test Flight volunteer test program. This group, 1/3rd of which is from our top Issue Council contributors and 2/3rd from our most active PTU testers, will act as a “pre-PTU” group, playtesting builds to make sure they are stable before the build goes out to a wider audience.
We’ll be very excited to unleash this group on 2.4.0 playtesting early in May!
For those wanting to participate in Evocati or PTU, it’s still possible! The best way to do this is to be an active member of the Issue Council reporting and contributing on bugs. There’s a lot of competition for a few spots, but we will look to update our ranks later this summer, so get on those bugs!
We’ve also opened up another Game Support Agent position in Austin, Texas, as the needs of the Star Citizen service continue to grow and expand. Check it out at https://cloudimperiumgames.com/jobs/415-Game-Support-Agent!!
The cure for slow is to make it fast. The IT department spends much of its time identifying performance bottlenecks and often finds new and creative ways to alleviate them. This month was no different. With every fix, there’s usually something behind it.
In our never ending quest to continue to further reduce turnaround times on our builds we’ve identified and tackled the latest choke point – memory. At this point we monitor everything down to the smallest details. Having recently improving network and storage performance we realized that we’re spending a good deal of time on disk starving for memory. This was due to a recent code change that came from our engine team in order to improve build performance under certain conditions which actually resulted in higher RAM consumption than we were expecting because their performance gains are coming from caching more in to RAM. In order to account for this we’ve increased RAM to those build machines by 4x and performance jumped accordingly. Of course this means we’ll be increasing physical RAM across the entire build stack as a result and aggressively pursuing the next performance gain we can find.
IT has also been busy in London setting up for a quick mocap shoot. This was a ground up project starting with empty rooms and setting up everything necessary in short order. In addition to the mocap equipment itself we deploy multiple support teams which all need to be connected via an internal network as well as linked back in to the home network in Manchester. Monitoring systems, local storage, firewalls, backup systems, wifi, laptops all must be built out to support any shoot, large or small. We have found that the key to success goes beyond planning and organization. For any remote project to be successful we must build the network out as an extension of our internal network so team members can get straight to work without having to worry about anything.
With fewer publishes this month, we’ve taken the time to perform some necessary house cleaning. Ahmed has rewritten significant portions of the deployment process. The goals of this work are twofold. The advances in persistence bring significant changes to the deployment process adding considerable complexity to the mix as compared to previous publishes. We have also taken this opportunity to improve efficiencies where possible as well as improving error handling conditions which all go to making the work Ahmed and his team are doing behind the scenes that much better. While there will always be room for improvement, most people would never know it based on the outstanding work being done in this area. With each advancement in the publishing tool set we reduce the amount of manual work involved in publishing Star Citizen.
We’re all very happy to welcome two new engineers to our team this month. Both Andy and Nate are joining us as DevOps engineers and they have already hit the ground running. Andy is investigating new systems which he will use to enhance our big data reporting systems on the server side and Nate is already working on a series of prototypes that we will use to more fully automate our server side publishing systems for the QA, PTU, and Live environments. While these are fairly large projects these guys are already moving at our pace so we’re anxious to see what else they come up with in their first month.
Thanks to our new test build system we’re seeing much more stable build progress this month as expected. We’ve also extended this to incorporate a test build step for risky code changes which helps to further stabilize the build pipeline as well as keeping builds moving more steadily to QA. By working closely with IT we did identify some more areas where we could improve overall build performance. We’re getting to the point where a gain in speed doesn’t feel as big as it used to but when every hour counts we will continue to find every possible performance gain we can.
Foundry 42 UK
Chuffed and Knackered
The team at Foundry 42 UK works tirelessly on both Star Citizen and Squadron 42, are are excited for everyone to see what they’ve been cooking up.
Some changes are coming to Port Olisar. We gone through and fitted some shopping locations within the struts which helps gives the facility some more personality and is a great testbed for the shopping mechanic. We are starting with a small number of locations initially, but in the future we will be rolling out more locations as more buyable items come online. These updates will be coming in for the next release so we’re looking forward to getting it out to you guys.
Nyx is in the final stages of polish and optimization, we’re drilling down to hit our budgets in each area to make sure we deliver a smooth experience. Once the procedural tech is ready for prime time we will be integrating the location into the terrain ready for release.
The hard work is also continuing on the Sq42 campaign, the vertical slice level is continuing with its final art production phase and part of the weekly company playtests.
That’s all for this month folks, happy shopping in 2.4 and enjoy the vitamin D sunbath…
There are months where it’s hard to keep up, the rate of flow and change sometimes is amazing! I have to admit, the Prospector, we really did wrestle that ship and it took a lot of work on both Gavin’s and my front to get it where Chris was happy – all being said, the results came out pretty good and it might not be too long before it gets made!
Concept work is also continuing on the new corvette, a small personal vehicle and a new small ship. We’ve also tackled some Behring ship weapons (Size 5,4,3) and a boatload of components, not forgetting the Klaus and Werner weapon family guide with a hope to updating and unifying the weapons. There’s has also been a good amount of fettling of the Vertical slice level and prop designs – we all know the standard we want to achieve, there are just no shortcuts and it takes time.
For characters, a lot of work has been going on with the Vanduul, with Chris being in the studio on a more regular basis it making it a lot easier to fine tune the creature design. Also work started on medical staff costumes and also UEE staff.
This month the VFX team have been busy working on the Starfarer. Specifically, implementing its flight-ready effects – including damage, interior states, thrusters and weapons. The interior effects in particular have been time-consuming because of the sheer quantity of room and corridors. As always, we have worked closely with the ship team to ensure our effects sync up beautifully with the lighting.
We have also created effects for two new ship weapons, added effects to the new Crusader areas, and revisited our “high tech” effects category to bring it in line with the VFX style guide.
Away from the “fun” stuff (i.e.: blowing up massive spaceships!) we have also spent time cleaning up our pipeline documentation. Primarily this is for the other disciplines’ benefit so they can more clearly see how far along the VFX artists are on any given task – essential when a small team is involved in so many tasks at any one time.
As well as fixing some stability issues the graphics team have been working on a variety of new features for the artists this month, the first of which is improvements to the layered shader we use for characters, weapons and props. This shader allows us to define the appearance of an object as the combination of more ‘layers’ such as cloth, steel, plastic etc. The new changes allow us to define how each of these layers will wear/erode over time, improve the overall performance of the shader, and allow it to be used on both small props and very large weapons.
We’ve also been finalizing our work on the ‘light linking system’ which allows light sources and glowing light-fittings to be linked together so that the brightness of the light fittings accurately reflects the realistic intensity of the bulb. This is crucial in getting the full benefit of the new HDR flare & bloom tech which we’re hoping to enable for the next release. The latest changes have refactored this to allow it work with the upcoming Object Container system.
After seeing a great presentation from GDC 2016 on improving the performance of tiled-lighting, we’ve been working on integrating this technique into our pipeline so that we can transition to tiled-lighting as opposed to the current deferred-lighting solution (should potentially be faster).
Work has officially started on implementing a new method of handling the ordering of the large number of transparent objects that Star Citizen requires (e.g. cockpit glass, visor, UI and particles etc). This will also involve integration transparent objects better with the post effects such as motion blur, depth of field and anti-aliasing, however this process requires deep engine work so will take quite a while to complete, but should fix issues such the cockpit glass and ship UI rendering in the wrong order when viewed from outside the cockpit.
Finally we have been finalizing a new profiling system that breaks down performance costs per art team to help us profile and optimize the huge amount of content in our game.
The big feature development we’ve been helping out working on this month is the persistence, or basically the game remembering stuff between sessions. This is a very big deal as it’s the groundwork that so much of the game will be built upon. The underlying system has been implemented over in the US studios, but we’ve been then building on top of that so you can start seeing and enjoying the results of their hard work.
One of the big things that we now persist is the new AUEC (our alpha credits) so in Crusader we’ve started looking at ways in which we can reward the player with these credits depending on what you accomplish. David’s been working with the designers on implementing some of this gameplay. Now when you complete a mission you will get rewarded. Spotted somebody with a wanted level? Take them out and you’ll get a bounty. Find something interesting on a disused space station? Could make you some money.
Of course we’re implementing ways of spending this newly gotten cash. So we’ve updated the repair stations so that they’re no longer free and you have to pay an amount to fix up your ship. Fuel and ammo also now come with a cost. And of course shopping is being implemented! We’ve now got working shops in both Crusader and ArcCorp where you can go and buy clothes and weapons. On the clothing side Jamie has been working on a new try on mode where you can select a the piece of clothing you’re interested in and your able to view it on your character before deciding to buy, or with weapons being able to pick them up and inspect them before putting down some credits.
Another big aspect of the persistence is how we now store your hangar and the loadout of your ships. Rather than selecting which ships are in your hangar, or which flair items you can see from the website, we can now do it all in-game. This actually brings together several new pieces of tech from the Interaction Point system to the ‘inner thought’ UI which the UI guys here have been working on. Both Simon and Bone have been getting this UI working so you can see these interaction points, go up to one of them, select how you want to interact with it, and depending on what select in this case it’ll bring up a menu of what items can go on that spot. It’s a very flexible system so if it’ll allow you to place what ships you want in your hangar to changing the loadout of the ship itself.
Otherwise as usual we’ve been working in the background on all the ongoing mechanics required for S42. Nothing too much to update on but Craig is making good progress on the new landing system and getting landing working on a moving carrier ship, Rob has been improving the conversation system with it working with subsumption, Romulo has been doing some underlying conversion work on the weapons and implementing grenades, Gordon is progressing nicely with ledge grabs as well and vaulting and mantling.
It’s been a very busy month in QA here at Foundry 42. We worked tirelessly with the Dev team and you the community to get 2.3.1 out with the hopes of clearing up some of the nasty frame rate issues and the server stability crashes and while work on that is still ongoing, 2.3.1 brought about some much needed improvements.
With that out the door we began working on the big one, 2.4.0 is probably one of the biggest releases we have worked on since Crusader was created. But boy is it an exciting patch. Persistence. Everything persists now, and testing it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, QA’s main hurdle has been stability. In its first iteration, persistence made the game very unstable, with versions completely failing to build and a lot of time spent on frustrating tests. But we got through the hard times and have been ploughing on, testing the changes to the Hostility system, the Missions system and the Cry Astro Stations. We’re really eager to push this to you guys and gather up your feedback.
But persistence isn’t the only exciting thing we have been working on. Stocked shops (In Both ArcCorp and Port Olisar) & Alpha UEC, A new flight ready ship, a new hangar ready ship and a completely overhauled Hangar system (The Port Modification App). A few fun bugs have showed up in this testing time, such as ships bouncing around the hangar, Eldritch horror style floating eyeballs and so much more.
Right now we are working very hard to find and bug up all the major issues so this can get pushed to the PTU and you guys can get to see all the fantastic changes that have gone in.
See you in the ‘verse!
April for audio was, as ever, busy! The S42 work and the 2.4 release have been our main points of focus this month, but alongside that a big wedge of music production was undertaken. But we’ll start with the individual updates.
Sam Hall has been hard at it with ship computer work, looking to reengineer and refactor this so we can have it behave more intelligently in-game. This has involved syncing up with those in systems design as well as moving it across to the subsumption system. As well as this he’s been working on resolving 2.4 bugs, optimizing an audio plug-in for Dataforge, and adding triggers for airlock transitions (e.g. for when the player enters space without the prerequisite protective helmet).
As well as his work on the music production (see below), Ross Tregenza has been iterating on the music logic system and is still holding up the fort in being the overall point man for Squadron 42.
Luke Hatton handily bullet-pointed his general tasks! So bullet-point away, Luke:
- Tweaks to maneuvering audio for the Aurora and fixed missing audio on the primary thruster for the Aurora LN
- Mix tweaks to the tutorial hangar, more ambiance details now audible
- Fixed broken enter and exit sounds on the Gladiator
- Now using general health parameter in Wwise for ships, so we can alter any sound based on the amount of damage a ship has taken easily
- Added distant explosion sound variants
Darren Lambourne, apart from his mastering mission in Munich, has been polishing up the Starfarer and working on audio for the Argo MPUV cargo vehicle.
Matteo Cerquone has also bullet-pointed things:
- Added audio for Devastator Energy Shotgun dry fire
- Added sounds for interactive elements such as alarm systems, elevators and doors for S42
- Old Foley clean up
- Bug fixing
Bob Rissolo and Phil Smallwood have both been deep on the dialogue side, preparing for future dialogue/p-cap sessions and implementing/processing material for current usage by the design department. Phil’s also been working on social module tasks, esp. re. shopping and general locations.
Simon Price is still very much engaged in dialogue pipeline tools that will be required for S42 as well as the live release.
Graham Phillipson – he’s also been on 2.4 bugs etc. but otherwise:
- Refinements of automatic footstep generation code
- Added listener-based RTPCs to area shapes
- LUA -> c++ code conversion
- Tech debt removal, improving maintainability
- Fixed bug with EVA audio not updating properly
Stefan Rutherford has been re-organizing some large aspects of the Wwise project structure to underpin the mix pipeline, which is a joint design/engineering effort by Lee Banyard (me), Jason Cobb, Stefan Rutherford and Graham Philipson currently – this will feed into S42’s linear-styling which require a more ‘filmic’ mix workflow, as well as the more systematic mix workflow that the persistent universe requires. Otherwise he’s been working on new content for our auto-footstep system, restructuring and redesigning the guns. He also headed up another gun recording session that took place in early April at Copehill Down with the company ‘Audiobeast’ (aka Steve Whetman). Hopefully some photos will be along for the ride with this monthly report, if not I’ll post some to the ‘Ask A Dev’ audio forum, hopefully we’ll wrangle some video too.
Jason Cobb has, as ever, been providing technical back-up in various aspects of the audio build pipeline, and is setting up mix states/snapshots across the game as part of the wider mix foundational work.
As mentioned previously, we pushed through a lot of music production work this month. We had another session at the start of the month in Bratislava with the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, to upgrade a lot of the themes and incidental pieces for Star Citizen. Partly this is material for the special edition soundtrack CD, but this material will also make its way into the game as well to improve upon what’s already present.
Then, with that material in the bag, Pedro Macedo Camacho, Ross Tregenza and I went down to Real World Studios, and met up with our mix engineer Peter Fuchs and assistant engineer Patrick Phillips. As well as being a talented and experienced recording engineer for our orchestral sessions, Peter has an extensive CV of mixing orchestral scores for film and games – you can check out his CV on IMDB if interested: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0297273/
We spent five solid days in the studio shaping and sculpting the rather lovely source material into more finalized tracks. If you’re interested in the facility, you can find pictures of it at http://realworldstudios.com/recording-studios/the-big-room/ – we were in what’s aptly named ‘The Big Room’ (hint – it’s big). While there’s an expansive mixing console there, much of the work of mixing by Peter was done ‘in the box’ – that is, within Pro Tools itself rather than routing everything through the SSL console. When working with many pre-recorded tracks this is often a quicker process due to the amount of setting up it would take between one piece of music and the next to assign everything to the desk, and his workflow is better suited to working this way. But mixing desks look impressive, of course! 😉
Once we were done with the mixing process, that material was taken on a step further at CS Mastering – which is a mastering studio in Munich headed up by Christoph Stickel. (If curious, you can see some images at http://www.csmastering.de/) Darren Lambourne was in attendance with Christoph and Peter Fuchs, and the process of putting together a finalized CD master was undertaken here. This involves working with the stereo tracks only, rather than Pro Tools sessions; but refining them yet further so they form a more cohesive ‘whole’, with a mixture of very high end analogue and digital audio processing equipment to hand.
All of this was a workflow that we’d wanted to get locked down for some time and I have to thank everyone for making it possible, we went from performance to a final master in really good time and I hope everyone will enjoy the results, whether in-game or on the soundtrack CD itself. It’s wonderful to hear Pedro’s work polished to this level of sonic shine, I think we all learned a lot from the experience and it will help refine the process for music production across Star Citizen as well as Squadron 42.
And I think that’s all for this month from CIG Audio. As always, thanks for listening!
- Continued on with railgun animation sets
- Fixing cover bugs
- Turn animations worked on for 180 degrees and 360 degrees
- Testing and feedback on tools
- Further work to start / stop / step locomotion
- New FPS weapon look dev and feedback with the art team
- Recruitment – new animator starting next month
The ship components continue to be a big focus this month for the props team, we are wrapping up the full set of small coolers and we have started work on power plants and quantum drives.
We have been supporting the new persistence feature by supplying the designers with a hand full of assets to support their new mission mechanics, this initial bunch was a quick pass to get something in to prove out the gameplay and will hopefully just be the start that we can add to in the future.
Another bit of exciting news is that we have now had our additional tech requests added in to the layer blend material and can now use it across the board for prop production. We were waiting on a few tweaks and adjustments to the way the shader worked and that has now been delivered. This is a big step forward for us as it allows us to almost half the number of draw calls on each prop so should really help to make our pops nice and cheap in terms of performance and we plan to use it in anger over the next few months.
Finally we have been supporting the shopping and clothing feature with a new auto valet locker system so allow for quick and easy changing of clothes and a bit of work has been done looking on our workflow for creating hanging and folded variants of all the clothing you can purchase.
Next month, more ship components and back to squadron 42 props.
Interior production of the Idris is coming to a close, this has enabled the team to start look dev and prototyping of the crashed / damaged asset and start to establish a real key beat within the story arc of Squadron 42. From this research the team should then be able to establish a grounded look and feel for damaged cap ships including the Javelin and Bengal.
Production on the Javelin exterior has moved forward, sharing procedures and techniques found during the development of the Idris, this has also fed into the Bengal production, all ships now sharing a very specific Squadron 42 Livery.
We had a very busy April in the UK Design department.
Firstly, we are back in Ealing shooting pickup scenes at Imaginarium, this has kept a lot of designers busy in terms of finalizing the play spaces and putting in stability fixes. It’s always really rewarding for the guys who are working hard on the Squadron 42 levels to see the level of polish that the actor’s performances give to the player experience.
The Live Release team have been very busy this month with the introduction of our first stage of persistence. Crusaders expanding economy now includes new missions and bonuses, as well as new scavengeables. Cry-Astro now charge for their services and players will now find that respawning has a cost attached. As well as the numerous additions to the play space, we have been starting the work on the solar system scale map which will be coming soon. All in all a very interesting and productive month for the Live Release team that you will soon get to experience and feedback to us on.
The Technical team have continued to setup the various ships that are currently slated for release, and the full component refactor that will make such a difference to functionality and versatility of these craft is nearing completion. It’s nice to finally see an upgradability system that works beginning to roll out into the live builds soon.
Obviously the component system will have a huge impact on the new Balancing Team and that is getting a lot of focus right now so that when it hits we can be in the best possible shape to release something that works.
Overall it’s been another good month for Squadron 42 development and continued building for the persistent universe.
Foundry 42 DE
April was a solid productive month for us in Frankfurt in regards to both progress and planning. We had Chris out to the studio for a few days for face to face meetings with various departments. Since the last update we have 5 new people working in the office across multiple areas, with each discipline starting to round out a bit more. We’ve all been busy, as we say every month, but every day the team is constantly pushing things forward. The tech update for this month will read shorter than normal, because a good amount of the engine team are working on the procedural tech, and we’d prefer to keep some of the details internal for now and give you the full breakdown when the time comes for you guys to experience it for yourselves. This month we’ve also had a few groups come through the office and hang out with the team, as I always say, the support from you guys is much appreciated and helps push us on a daily basis.
The weapon art team finished texturing two new ship weapons and are currently working on the various LOD’s (level of details) and getting them integrated into the game. The Apocalypse Arms Scourge Railgun has been given some additional polish and is in its final stages of art production and is being animated in parallel. We’ve also blocked out a prototype for one new FPS weapon and have a bunch more in the concept stage. We’ll hopefully have some images to share of the new work next month.
The core engine team focused on various areas of code to improve. First we continued our support to increase the number of render-able objects. To support massive counts of 50.000 and more (think asteroids or planet vegetation/rocks) we implemented a very fast instancing rendering path. This allows us to make the whole scenery more populated and interesting by showing more objects than we previously could. While implementing this rendering path, we also took some time to clean up parts of the rendering pipeline, unifying a few areas where we could.
Another focused area was the JobManager, which we improved the month before to be more flexible; people can new work on different batches, specify which batches have priorities and so on. As most of this was written as lock-less code for performance reasons, we missed some bugs. And since this was low level multithreading code, we now had the fun of finding out why certain operations succeed over 1 million times to suddenly fail. Good news is that we are confident that we ironed out those issues (we managed to run 12 instances of the editor in parallel without any threading issues, which should trigger all kinds of unusual thread timings).
The third area we looked into was to further improve the streaming code. Streaming can be very computation intensive as the code must touch all objects around the player, not just the fully visible objects. Since our game uses a very large view distance, this resulted in a very large number of objects needing an update. We could massively reduce this number by implementing a broad phase object distance culling. In the ZoneSystem, we already group objects together by spatial properties, now we combine the maximum view distance of all objects in such groups. If the whole group is further away than this combined distance, we can immediately ignore the whole group.
Lastly we spent a little time on our vsync implementation, as we noticed that we couldn’t get a stable 60 fps even if we had over 70 fps when vsync was disabled. It turned out that this was a thread synchronization issue which is now fixed. During this investigation, we also had to investigate the details about how windowed rendering works in Windows 7 and later. In short, it is complex 🙂 For our vsync fixes, this unfortunately means that we can only ensure correct vsync in fullscreen mode. Because of this we added some experimental vsync modes.
- Use the Windows Composite Manager to vsync (r_Vsync 2). This mode has a certain performance cost.
- Implement our own vsyncing (r_Vsync 3). Works, but can result in some tearing as we can’t control when windows draw the data on the screen.
- Disable the Composite Manager (r_Vsync 4). Works only on windows 7 (It is no longer possible to disable vsync on newer windows versions).
Of course mode 0 (no vsync) and mode 1 (regular vsync) are still in the game and should be the ones used. But it could be worth to try out the other modes for the brave ones.
Short and simple update from our Senior Build Engineer.
- Trybuild bug fixing and balancing for game-dev and 2.4.
- CopyBuild automation.
- Tools for VFX artists.
- Feature testing for game-dev (WIP).
This month the cinematic team continued to push forward on all fronts, blocking out of scenes, working with engineers on workflow and tools, as well as improving the overall look of body and facial animations. A good amount of time was also spent on preparing for a PCap (Performance Capture) shoot starting in early May. A few members of the team went to the UK office for a few days to go over scripts and sort out blocking of new scenes with the writers and Level Designers.
Art testing was the major theme in April for CIG-DE QA. Chris Speak and Melissa Estrada have been busy enhancing the Artist testing pipeline to ensure Editor tools are in top working order with the addition of new checklists and an Art specific sanity checklist that caters to an Artist’s specific needs. QA has seen the benefits of these discipline specific sanity tests and will be working toward creating additional checklists on a per discipline basis. QA will also be assisting with the revamp of our in-house tool used to grab builds, to make it easier for developers to obtain information on whether a build is usable for development or not. Chris has also been collaborating with Carsten Wenzel on time demo creation and Francesco Di Mizio with FeatureTests, so that we can start client-side automation tests for both current and future features and in-game systems. Melissa was buried deep in code with Ivo Herzeg to get to the bottom of a crash issue that prevented QA and development from entering the tutorial for testing and debugging. The crash occurred as the player loaded into the level, and it turned out that the cause was related to the character’s limbs essentially exploding to astronomical values! She also spent time testing potential Vertical Sync fixes from Christopher Bolte that should bring significant improvements to overall game-play in future releases. It’s been a very busy month for CIG-DE QA, but we are already starting to prep full force for May and whatever challenges it may bring.
AI: Artificial Intelligence
This month the AI team has been mostly focusing on making progress on the development of Subsumption.
First of all we have been making progresses on the implementation of the Interactors for AI. Currently each Interactor can be setup by the design team to contain the required information an NPC needs to interact with it: position of the alignment to start the interaction, the animation the NPC needs to play, and the action he needs to perform. The NPC will then search for objects in the world that serve specific purpose and he can interact with them and perform actions on them.
Subsumption uses the following hierarchy for creating behaviors:
- Activities > Subactivities > Tasks
This month we also introduced a lot of new tasks (the basic building blocks designers will use to create behaviors ) and we made a pass on the basic functionalities for debugging on screen useful information regarding the system. We also made the basic pass on the Action Areas, those are the elements in the world that allow designers to mark areas with specific information: a multicrew space ship, for example, might have an engine room, a hangar, a control room, and so on. Action Areas allow the NPCs to reason about the environment to fulfill their tasks.
We also spent some time unifying the movement speeds between NPCs and Players, so we now have full control of 5 different pseudospeeds on the AI side: Walk Slow, Walk Fast, Run Slow, Run Fast, and Sprint.
We’ve also been refactoring the spawning system to allow designers to have a more reliable and stable system to populate the world. The new AI Spawning Manager is going to be the system used by both scripted logic and the mission system to populate the universe. Currently the main goal of the new system is to simplify the spawning mechanics and make it more robust, for example we introduced a proper special validation to analyse the space that will be occupied by the ship we want to spawn.
Last but not least we dedicated some time to bug fixing and stability improvements as we regularly do, it’s worth mentioning we have fixed several crashes and we have removed the main cause of the 5 seconds stall that was happening on some i5 core machines.
Over the past few months the Frankfurt VFX team has been working on some new tech for our particles. What this allows us to do is record the optical flow of motion between the frames in our animated textures and then distort or morph one frame into the next instead of doing a simple cross fade between frames. Not only does this drastically smooth out the animation of the textures, but it also has the added benefit of allowing us to reduce the amount of frames in the animation, thereby increasing the resolution of each individual frame without increasing the overall texture resolution.
We have also been working on fleshing out the effects for the high-tech tech style. Image example can be seen in our DE header image.
We are helping animation programmers for R and D on itemport animation which will help us to easily pick and swap any prop, weapon, or its attachments. We’ve been supporting and making progressing with numerous weapons from the weapons team. We’ve also been moving forward our DCC pipeline with scene manager, which helps artists to easily assemble a complete animation scene in Maya.
The Level Designers have been focusing on iterating through the layout of the Hurston landing zone as well as that of the lawless base mentioned last month. Hurston is seeing some revisions to its layout to improve its scale, as we are still figuring out best practices for combining the scale of ships and hangars, of grandiose vistas and buildings, with the scale of functional (and fairly realistic) playable spaces. Getting to the best of both worlds is an ongoing challenge that we’re iterating our way through, which means that designing those first few locations of different types and sizes naturally takes a lot longer while we learn what level design rules best apply to PU locations. The lawless base is soon getting into ‘concepting’ phase, during which the assortment of un-textured volumes that it’s made of so far will be painted over by concept artists, to give guidance to the art team on how to build and beautify it.
We are also doing the groundwork for the next batch of locations that have to be built when both of those are out of our hands: figuring out what makes those new locations special, and how to allow the levels, technology and game mechanics to join hands in an effort to move the game forward as fast and efficiently as possible. That involves aligning with different departments to dig into critical designs such as spawning, parking, shopping/trading, etc. to see what features are coming up in the short term and how best to showcase them through the locations we build (instead of just adding extra places to visit.)
Finally, we’re still going through the recruitment process to fill up our ranks with more level designers, to help us work through those tasks and develop the foundation of our level design philosophy for the PU.
On the System Design side we’ve continued to work on our AI as we are switching them from Modular Behavior Trees to fully use Subsumption for in combat and out of combat behaviors. Eventually we’ll end up with all our AI being built in a single unified tool.
We are also continuing the Inner Thought implementation and its integration in other systems like the Useables, Interactors and Looting. This system will help us get a unified interface for interacting with objects that have more than one simple use case, making dialogue choices and even giving your wingmen commands in the heat of battle.
Work also continues on the Power Distribution and Reputation systems as these have received an overhaul and will soon be entering production. Another system that was in need, and is receiving a major rework is the FPS Suit because of the changes to FPS defenses and this one will still be ongoing for the next month.
More on the production side of design we’ve been busy setting the goals for the May-July period, breaking down systems and setting priorities for all of them in regards to each career. This has enabled us to have a better overview of what is actually critical in getting those careers up and running on the live servers as soon as possible.
On Our Best Behaviour
At BHVR, we create much of the art for Star Citizen and make sure the quality of every graphic element reaches a level of quality never seen before.
This month was a long sprint to get 2.4 features out of the door and into the hands of QA testers, PTU users and eventually yours, our dear players.
A good proportion of this was related to shopping features: lots of work on AR and mobiGlas, but especially doing proper networked transactions and shop actions replication.
Lots of goodies that we’re all excited to see you try.
We reworked Cry-Astro services, to make sure the new service request flow works well with multicrew ships. This was a big pay off, now any member of your crew can use their mobiGlas to request individual services while preventing different people paying for the same service (maybe in shadier service area, but NOT at Cry-Astro, the Empire’s repair, restock and refuel one stop solution!). Also you will only pay for services as they are executed, so if you’re being shot or have to leave in a hurry, you don’t need be afraid of not getting your money’s worth.
This month, the Bhvr design team was very busy with shopping and next release features. We continued setting up shops, both on Area 18 and Port Olisar. It’s funny how it is more work and complicated than it just looks on the outside. The guys did a great job making this work cleanly and efficiently.
We also did some work on the Revel and York Hangar to support the new abilities of the Port modification system. We also updated all the flair items and hangar decorations to support that new system. Looking forward to see what the players think.
Next month should see the construction of a new environment and plenty of level design for the team. We are also eager to continue iterating on the shopping system and expanding the features around it.
On the Art side, we had a lot of fun making additions to Port Olisar, which you will be able to experience very soon. Mostly work related to shops, additional dressing and adding a larger landing pad.
We have also opened new areas to make them ready for later releases.
Moreover, we supported the shopping mechanics with custom props, to better showcase the items sold in the stores.
On Levski, we continued our optimizations on all fronts, meshes, textures, materials and lighting, but we are close to finish the optimizations.
Finally, we worked on new props and finish next month`s flair object.
Cloudy with a Chance of Platform
Greetings from cloudy Montreal! Here’s what we’ve been up to in the last month.
Design is complete for the new ship reference matrix, and we have already started development. This new matrix will allow users to more easily view all of Star Citizen’s expanding catalog of ships and give the ability to compare multiple stats. We also have designs for a mobile version, which are being reviewed internally.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Our development of multi-factor authentication continues, and we are adding a mobile authenticator app. As part of a three-pronged attack, we will also be updating the game launcher to include MFA.
We have presented a rough prototype of our new communication platform to CIG, and reviews were positive. We are working on the chat module for the time being, and then we will start developing the forum module. We’re still a few months away from a beta launch, but we’re confident you will love it.
April was a very exciting month for ships. It kicked off with a Star Citizen April Fools’ joke, in the form of the Big Benny inspired Reliant and your reaction to this goofy delivery vehicle was overwhelming to say the least! Later in the month, there was a Free Fly for anyone who wanted to try out Star Citizen. This was also accompanied by a Tax Day Sale putting the Super Hornet, Gladiator and the Retaliator Bomber up for sale for a week. Finally, to cap off the month, there was a concept sale of the Prospector a specialized mining vessel. This sale featured a Shubin recruitment page, where citizens were encouraged to apply to the company. The best 5 submissions will be rewarded with an Orion!
There were also a couple of merchandise sales this month: they included a track jacket bundled with the Star Citizen deck of cards for a reduced price; there were also some new Anvil Aerospace mouse pads that were on sale earlier this month. And finally, to round out April, a new set of fabric patches representing some of the manufacturers on the Star Citizen universe were released for sale.
Oh my gosh. We’re at the end. Ben and Ali are out of town this week so I get to write whatever I want and nobody can stop me. Well, Chris still has to read this and approve it. He can definitely stop me…
Anyway, it’s been a hell of a month. Lots of ups and downs and twists and turns, but no matter what happens each month, it always seems to go by too fast. That’s what happens when you work with this community: you make the time fly. April 2015 was when I started “officially” as your Community Manager, and the last year has been one for the books. I hope you’ve enjoyed the changes and improvements to our community output over the last year. It’s truly been a team effort, with any given endeavor being an absurd idea from Ben we make reality, or an equally absurd idea from me that Ben is wise enough to let me get away with, and either of those being impossible to pull off without the support of Alexis, Thomas, Justin, Toast, and especially Sandi.
With that, let’s look at our output this month.
WE GOT YOU!
WE SO GOT YOU GOOD!
It’s time for full disclosure: On March 29th we had nothing. Nada. Zilch. We were ready to call in the towel on April Fools this year. Just too busy, and we never want to do something that doesn’t move the needle for us, y’know? Then at about 3pm in the afternoon I had what I knew was a terrible idea that had come too late for us to do anything with, so I walked into Ben’s office intending for him to talk me out of it.
“Hey Ben, you know how everyone is always asking for those profession deep dives?”
“Talk to Tony Zurovec.”
“No, no… I had a terrible idea that I want you to talk me out of. Let’s do a fake profession post about food delivery. We can use the Big Bennys assets that Jeremiah and Elwin and Gaige have been putting together in their spare time for that other thing and use them here.”
This… THIS is where he was supposed to give me that look I get sometimes. The look that says: “Every decision involved in the process of hiring you was a mistake.”
It’s the same look I get from Chris when I show him that Jar Jar Tongue Sucker from 1999 I have on my desk.
But he didn’t give me that look. He said the words that often mean I won’t be sleeping for the next three days, “Let’s do it!”
And with that, we rallied Jeremiah Lee, Gaige Hallman, and Elwin Bachillier to finish up the “fun side projects” they’d been fooling around with in their spare time while Ben wrote up the copy and our friends at Turbulent coded new tech for the website that would allow us to simulate opening and reading a menu (that same tech we’d re-purpose later this same month for the Starfarer sale.)
And after late nights with Gaige animating our Delivery Dancer, speedy work by Elwin to skin the Reliant, and Jeremiah cranking out variant Bennys emotes, we had the ingredients needed to “move the needle.”
And that’s how you make a terrible idea a reality in only 3 days.
Usually I like to go through and discuss the videos we put out in sequential order, highlighting and discussing the various peaks of content. Not this time. We’re skipping straight to dessert! Did you watch RtV last Friday?! Lando’s dad, or more commonly known as Dad Lando made his starring debut, capturing our hearts with his passion and perspective on the Star Citizen universe. Seriously, this guy rocks. His ability to embarass Lando definitely boosts his likeability.
Around the Verse and the 10 For series continued its regular schedule this month while Lando’s “Wonderful World of Star Citizen” introduced us to the always entertaining Captain Richard and his history on live streaming, and the creative talent of Mr. Combustible and his detailed workflow when 3D printing Star Citizen ships.
Reverse the Verse achieved a new apogee this month after Composer Pedro Camacho and Senior Sound Designer Ross Tregenza joined us for some exclusive new music reveals and an abundance of detailed information. We are extremely fortunate to have these talented gentlemen on our team.
If you checked out the Turbulent section of our Monthly Report, you can already see some of the work-in-progress at overhauling and improving our web experience. That “communication platform” they’re developing is so exciting I can hardly contain myself, and will impact every aspect of your interaction with our website.
In addition to that, one of the many things being worked on is an update to the old Ship Status page. A dedicated landing page instead of a series of forum posts, this will eventually allow Citizens to quickly glance at the continuing development of our ships as they move through the pipeline, and play your own “at-home” version of, “Where’s My Spaceship?”
Those two, combined with the new Ship Reference Matrix, and our continuing efforts to improve on all aspects of our presentation make this a fun time to be working with our partners at Turbulent. I’m continually grateful for their dedication and support when we come up with crazy ideas at the last possible moments. They’re always game to try something new, and push the boundaries of what a game website can be. Benoit, Benjamin, Scott, Ken… even Felix. =oP
This is a new section added to celebrate all things related to our community and their accomplishments!
It has been an awesome month for our Star Citizen streamers! Starting the month off, Farasalt and Captain_Richard stepped up their game for one of the funniest April Fools gags I’v seen. It was seemingly just another Friday night on Captain_Richard’s channel.. Everyone sat awaiting for the intro music to stop and the man himself to appear. When the curtains arose, Farasalt appeared, decked out in thick makeup and a Captain_Richard’s shirt. What ensued was over an hour of hilarity as Farasalt NAILED a Captain_Richard impression. All the mannerisms were on point! Definitely check this out. Well done gentlemen.
Deejay Knight is now officially a Twitch Partner! This was a well-deserved promotion that came to no one’s surprise. Deejay continues to rouse his audiences with his upbeat performances and is an absolute pleasure to watch. Huge congratulations!
Capturing our attention with his sweet dance moves and positive vibes, SGT_Gamble has become a household name in the Star Citizen community. Gamble has been rallying entire servers together to participate in exciting and emergent game-play that we just can’t get enough of. Awesome stuff sir!
Lastly, April was one of the toughest months to date when it came to choosing MVP’s. The amount of content flowing in from our community is absolutely astounding! Check out these well deserved winners!
That was some month we had. Every month we move closer and closer to realizing the vision and scope of both Star Citizen and Squadron 42. In our four studios around the world and our partner studios in Canada and elsewhere, people work tirelessly to fulfill the promise of this unprecedented project. Whether they’re artists, programmers, designers, engineers, writers, directors, producers, and more, they’re all gamers who want to share this experience with everyone reading these each and every month.
In the months ahead, you’ll see us continue to build on the foundation of persistence Alpha 2.4 provides. As the teams in each studio continue to expand, you’ll see our pace of production continue to pick up as it already has since late 2015. The knowledge and experience we gain with each new ship built, each new character brought to life, each new landing zone realized, and each new game system coming online will inform the next one after that, meaning that not only will the quantity of our output increase, so will the quality continue to improve.
Whether it’s website you visit, the broadcasts that inform you, the game you play, or the platform that supports it, we’re continuing to iterate on every aspect of Star Citizen and Squadron 42’s continuing development, a truly unique experience for everyone involved because you’re here for the ride with us.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We’ll see you in the ‘Verse.