Star Citizen in August
Star Citizen is developed by hundreds of people making up dozens of teams across several countries. That can make it hard to see what progress is actually happening. These monthly reports are meant to help. Let’s start with August.
Throughout August, the AI Content team created yet another AI behavior, “The Worker". This is the 11th AI archetype we've seen in development this year, I believe. Each of these archetypes allows designers to apply traits to the various AI, creating an environment where NPCs are distinct in their looks, schedules, dialogue, and actions.
The team also modified various usables for the first reaction system, allowing NPCs to smoothly break out of actions at several points to naturally react to new enemies.
Pre-vis began on the new traveling vendor that we've seen in the last couple of the monthly reports. This vendor will be able to provide you with 1 handed item, perhaps like pistols, medpens, and consumables, or point you towards their nearby store, where larger items may be available. This should add a new traveling point of interest, and a different type of shop vendor that may buy or sell things for more or less than others.
A second pre-vis pass was completed on Pyro usables to develop an atmosphere and a surrounding that varies pretty wildly from what we already have. As we move through this report you'll notice the amount of work going into differentiating the new star system in Star Citizen.
The AI features team worked on combat scenarios, exposing new data for designers to use such as the FOV of NPCs, with the goal of allowing for more stealth gameplay, offering new methods of completing missions. New functionality was also added to the tactical point system, which will help AI create better routes through a combat scenario.
The AI tech team had continued to improve AI navigation on planetary surfaces. This includes the ability for NPCs to maneuver within the proximity of players, as well as the ability to fit in formation with a player.
The animation team worked on vendors for illegal foods, food, drink, and other items in preparation for Pyro. The team also progressed on the overall medical behavior and related usables as well as drunk locomotion.
Cowering and surrender behaviors that the AI team was previously working on progressed in August which no doubt will crossover a bit with the more panicky FPS AI we’ve seen in development.
A motion capture shoot was arranged to cover some interesting actions. Of note was the navigation, which I’m curious to see in terms of animations, hacking, which has been a common topic over the last few months, and hygiene, which will likely include a quick shower and a long poop. I wonder, who gets to make that animation?
Last month, character art finished a large batch of new assets for 3.15, such as the new heat suit that is coming up. The team also not only created at least 4 new backpacks for players to try out, but they also detached all existing backpacks for modular use on their own. In addition, every new set of armor that comes to the game from here on out will have a matching backpack in the same style. That is an incredible vow and is going to lead to SO MUCH variety. I really hope they do stick to it.
In Ship Art, there’s a lot going on, as usual. That yet-to-be-announced ship in The UK offices? That’s complete. The redeemer is approaching Final Art Complete. This small gunship is shaping up to be a nice prospect for any 3-5 player group looking at combat missions in space or on the ground. It’s a polarizing ship, but I find it impressive for what it is. Work has also commenced on the Hull A, the smallest of the Hull line of MISC industrial cargo haulers. The Hull C, the much bigger version, is being brought up to the art gold standard, basically meaning art won’t need to come back to the ship for new feature implementations. Don’t take this as confirmation that it’s close, but a lot is being done on some very important ships here. Two unannounced vehicles, not necessarily ships, are continuing along with one approaching Final Art and the other awaiting its Greybox review.
The MISC Starfarer, which will be introducing refueling gameplay, saw the refueling arm complete in August, with the focus moving to the tractor beams that will capture mineral and gas pods to pull them in for refining, also possibly set to be introduced on the Starfarer.
The Crusader A2 bomber has passed its final art review, and the Crusader Ares moved through the final art phase. These ships are looking cooler and cooler every time I see them. I originally wasn’t all that jazzed but, oh boy, I’m impressed with how they’ve turned out. The Drake Vulture, as of September 2nd the confirmed introduction to ship-based salvage gameplay, has many parts nearing grey box complete with more details and exact dimensions being used in anticipation of a 2022 release. And finally, an all-new vehicle previously unmentioned is almost greybox-complex, with art finishing up for the "tomato-pin variant" we’ve been hearing about. Again, not the actual variant name.
Some additional SFX and dialogue were scattered throughout Orison in a second audio pass on the new landing zone. New voiceovers and music were implemented as well.
Ambiances, spot effects, and voiceovers were added to the Grim HEX hospital to build atmosphere and - get this - “to inform players how painful treatments can be”.
New mechanics and explosion effects were added to the new mother of all bombs, and tech sound design helped implement the SFX into the hacking system. Finally, prep for the upcoming CitizenCon 2051, or to sound more like a 90s ISP, CitizenConline continued with new tech and locations due to be shown off. If you want to see all the news leading up to and at Citizencon, follow my Youtube channels. There’s going to be a lot this year.
In August the physics progressed with physical quantum travel, allowing for the equivalent of a blind jump and a drop out before hitting an object. This is possible due to a new quantum grid that covers the entire star system. Performance and stability were also improved.
The transition to the Gen12 renderer continued towards completion in August with volumetric fog effects now running natively in Gen 12.
Time was also spent reworking the reprojection and filter chain of atmosphere and volumetric clouds. This allows for improved GPU performance.
Work was also done to deliver optimizations to the spatial culling system used for server meshing.
In August the new player inventory system and active status features saw bug fixing and polishing in anticipation of a 3.15 launch alongside the looting feature and downed state that will cooperate with these.
The US Gameplay team progressed to making the asset management app feature complete, and are now polishing. They also began work on an upcoming dynamic event that will create incredibly valuable trade routes tempting groups to take control of areas and work together to run trade convoys. My organization, The Garden Interstellar Initiative, will be running our own operations to keep haulers safe, and the cargo moving.
If you’d like to join us for the event next quarter, join by the link in the video description. The team also helped with refueling, HUD improvements, and some bombing-related UIs for alpha 3.15. The Vehicle Experienced Team also focused on finishing out the bombing feature and balancing upcoming ships for the next update.
GRAPHICS & VFX PROGRAMMING
In August the graphics team continued working on the render-to-texture system putting it through a mini overhaul to work with newer UI systems that use the 3D building blocks tool, as as the new personal inventory and medical systems. For Gen12, the shadow and real-time-probe systems were converted and will soon be activated by default.
The programming team began adding support for light refraction into the GPU particle system which just saw a big update. This will surpass the quality of the CPU particle system, marking the end of a long-standing goal of creating counterparts to the older mesh and sprite functionality.
The lighting team focused on upcoming alpha 3.15 locations and the new Pyro system. These locations included the Crusader Showroom, COusin Crow’s, Providence Surplus, space clinics, Grim HEX, and the Area 18 and Lorville hospitals.
The narrative worked on the next update throughout August, working on contract text for new missions, and expanding the reputation tracking app. Medical gameplay and the new clinic locations were also worked on, and a new dialogue was recorded.
Preliminary work also began on a new mission type, and further work went into defining what players will encounter when they explore the new Pyro system.
SYSTEMIC SERVICES & TOOLS
Work continued on the quantum economy and AI simulation over at the SST team. The team finished up work on the player and AI info service which will allow the system to pull data at a faster rate.
Work began on the NPC tracker, which will allow the tacking of NPCs between servers being used for server meshing. This service will allow any gameplay loops to track NPCs as they shift from virtual AI to subsumption AI and back throughout the system as they come into contact with players.
Finally, a new generic escrow service wrapped up allowing for more streamlined money transfers that can be integrated into gameplay loops. This sounds like a natural progression of the beacon system, hopefully setting up a service that allows for reliable and easy contract creation between players for small jobs.
The live tools team completed the base framework for the windowing layout used in Hex, the interface that contains the Quantum system. They also achieved key milestones in server meshing, delivering the first version of the new matchmaking system.
The vehicle tech team made some finishing touches to the radar, scanning, and ping update for vehicles, and prepared to incorporate the improvements into first-person gameplay as well.
VHX began working on a new ship-wake effect that will allow surface dust, snow, and other coverings to be displaced when a ship rapidly flies over it. This is a continuation of the thruster wind volumes added to the game in 3.14.
With such large features and a pretty expansive set of locations coming in the next patch, news this month was dominated by the upcoming additions. We also got some insight into how much Pyro will differ from Stanton, in terms of detailed experiences. In addition, it’s looking like a lot of preparation is underway for likely the biggest CItizencon yet, make sure you’re subscribed to Space Tomato Gaming on Youtube and Twitch for the never-ending star citizen news. And finally, it’s always good to hear about stability improvements and progress on key features like Gen12 and server meshing.
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I hope you learned something from this article and I hope you had fun reading it. I’ll catch you next time.