Wait, whats this? It's been one year already?
Why yes, yes it has. It's only number 50 instead of 52 because CIG takes off the last two weeks of the year - so I did the same because there was nothing to report. Still though, 50 weeks with a post every weekend. Dayum! Did you know that the average SUNSPOT takes me about 4 hours to put together? It's a lot more time intensive than I thought it would be back when I started doing it, that's for sure.
(Much thanks to F. John for making the spiffy anniversary logo.)
Lets see, what happened this last week... well, not much to be honest. We're supposed to have the Social Module by the end of the month, so CIG has roughly 8 days to make that happen. Considering what they showed at gamescom, part of me wonders if they've had it ready to go and are just trying to stuff in as much 'extra' stuff as they can before the deadline. The animation retargets were done last week, according to the latest post on the state of the FPS, so maybe they were just waiting for that? It's just speculation on my part.
It would have been nice to talk about the release for the anniversary issue, buuuut yeaaaaah...
About the only other bit of news was the lastest Jump Point being released.
Oh, and the entire CIG/RSI infrastructure switched over to the Google Compute Engine, after talking about doing that for a while. Good on them, though I wonder what this means for our Aussie counterparts.
So... yeah. That's all the big stuff.
MediaThe in-progress box art for those who got the collectors edition during the initial pledge:
An interior side shot of the new Vanguard Sentinel. Hard to tell what is different from the original from this...
And another limited interior shot of the Vanguard Harbinger:
... and there is f**k all else to post this week. Sheesh, it was more quiet than I thought. So I guess I will leave you with this gem:
10 For the Producers, August 17thNowadays it’s seems to be a common thing in gaming industry to set a release date for a game and than either release a half finished product or postpone the release date over and over again. What are you going to do to prevent anything similar and what can be the reason for that phenomenon.
Of course they try to avoid pushing things back, but some stuff is unavoidable with software development. On one hand it does help that they are rather open with development, so people can see why things are being delayed.
How many individuals typically touch a ship in some way before it is shipped?
About 30 to 40 people for a small single seater, not including marketing or QA.
Any tips for setting realistic time frames, especially when dealing with something the team hasn’t done before (sounds like a lot of the netcode work and server tech is pretty uncharted waters)? Would you consider it better to work in a certain amount of flexible time to the initial schedule for when things (seemingly inevitably) run over, or is it more like a plan runs off track and you start fresh from where you are now?
Any schedule or calendar is pretty much a living document, based upon previous experiences. For example if it took an artist 3 days to animate a gun before, then it's probably going to take about that long for most other weapons to be animated as well. Now if it is for something completely new, they will have to work with designers and engineers to come up with a rough idea of how long they think it will take and go from there.
Last year there was a lot of talk about the ‘Component Pipeline’,and how it was expected to ‘start pumping’ in the new year. Since then, all has gone quiet on this front. As such, can you give us an update on the component pipeline, and when we can start seeing something other than weapons and shields in the store?
They've made tons of progress and are churning out concepts at a huge rate, but there really isn't anything to advertise currently. If they do - that's Ben's realm.
It’s great that new releases of AC are always fixing bugs and introducing new stuff, but my question is when are we going to start seeing some of the stuff still broken from way back fixed? Examples would be collision issues with ships or items in our hangars, the greycat not moving in the Aeroview hangar, Wingman’s voice over is gone. I realize these are not game stopping or uber important compared to new supercool features, but I would think that existing problems would be worked at least at the same time as new ones.
They have a huge list of items in JIRA that track everything from blocker/critical to trivial. Hint: If it's something aesthetic, it probably won't be looked at until Star Citizen enters beta (my words, not theirs, but it's typically the way things are done).
How much of the work you split up between the different studios can really be done separate and how much of it requires multiple studios to work together on one single aspect of the game? How do you manage to sync the work done by the different studios that are probably also in different time zones?
(I'm pretty sure this has been asked before, more than once.) They work on things as normal for their day, then perform 'handoffs' to the next studio, since they work on pretty much a 24 hour development cycle being in multiple time zones. Occasionally there is an issue that has to be addressed by someone else from another studio that is currently unavailable, but they try to keep that from happening as much as possible.
Within the design of the simulator (SC), will there be anything other than support for networked devices like tablets and the like? i.e. multiple monitors with touchscreens etc. I have a 4 monitor simpit and two of the monitors are touchscreens and would love the immersion of interfacing with cockpit controls.
It's an awesome idea and currently something that is being fiddled with, they are currently doing preliminary work on tablet apps. But it probably wont get full focus until closer to release, maybe after.
Since Star Citizen is first of its kind crowd funded project that is breaking new ground in computer game development, and Chris Roberts has asked you to not just build a game but a universe. Do some members of your team get over enthusiastic? How do you keep the artists, writers, and designers from implementing so much detail on ships, stations, planets, or characters that they risk derailing the production schedule? Have you avoided hiring less experienced people because you don’t have time to train them how to avoid issues like those described above?
They already have rooms full of creative people with great ideas, it's the timeframe for implementation that is the problem. It's usually the producers that have to nail down what can work in what timeframe. As for the hiring, they currently have a very interesting mix of industry veterans (experience) and young blood
(fresh perspectives), so it isn't something they plan on changing any time soon. Like any company, they will address whatever needs they have.
You guys have focused a lot on the ship pipeline in the past. I was wondering if non-artistic elements of the PU undergo such rigor? For instance, storylines and mission generation: is there a pipeline of writers -> gameplay designers -> programmers for such assets or is it more typically ad hoc?
Their explanation can pretty much be summed up as, 'The ship pipeline is not just art, it is also design and implementation... but yes, other aspects of the game go through a similar pipeline.'.
Now that one of the major producers left for Blizzard, that let us thinking that he didn’t have confident in the project. Can you please let us know if you will replace him with someone better that will have the passion for this project like we all have?
(I groaned when I read this.) If people were joining and leaving after 3 months, then there would be an obvious problem. But most people who join do so for a year or more, which is actually darn good for game development. Pretty much everyone who has applied and been hired has been extremely enthusiastic about working on something like Star Citizen, and they are constantly hiring.
ATV, August 20thSanta Monica
- Jumping right from gamescom into what they need to focus on for CitizenCon.
- Will also have a good idea in the coming weeks what components will be delivered before the end of the year.
- Currently fixing lots of bugs around the game in general.
- People are also working on the Herald, getting it ready.
- Calix is working on his balance pass, making sure all the feedback from player input is getting tweaked to perfection.
- Arrowhead sniper rifle has had multiple tweaks and changes. Adjusting recoil - it was bouncing too much when aiming down sights. Charging mechanic - there’s going to be an ‘overheat’ action. The closer you get to overheat, more damage it’ll do, but if you pass it, the weapon will fail. Scope - texture work, adding a variable zoom level will be selectable.
- Jason Hutchins is there with Todd Papy, working on the cover system. This week finished the hip-fire peek out. If you’re in cover and you peek around a corner, you can shoot from the hip.
- Working on gadget placement issues as well. New rig is coming along, but there have been some issues about gadgets getting stuck in hands, stairs, and more. Apparently the shield got attached to someone’s torso at one point.
- With the new rig for the skeleton, they've 're-parented' the weapon to the hand. Previously it was closer to the spine - when the hands/arms, etc was hit, the weapon was linked to the spine animatons wouldn't play and the weapons would remain frozen. Now it moves with the hand.
- This week, animation team is starting on specific ‘bespoke’ skeleton for a character in SQ42, who shall go unmentioned. This is custom skeletons for each hero character. Get them more proportionate to the people that played those characters.
- Starting kick-off on next planetside landing zone, which will be Microtec/Stanton.
- Creating a selection filter now, so that users can filter objects based on type, field of view, radius, and more.
- Quantum Drive effects - needs things like the blur effect seen on the demo, to give a sense of speed.
- Asteroids – for the number of asteroids, they were causing a performance problem, tech hasn’t/hadn't been finished yet to create the amount of asteroids they want. Used a new system to combine many meshes together to increase performance, got the cost of sorting and rendering the asteroid field down from 20 milliseconds to 1 millisecond, which is needed to make the game playable.
- Worked on the multicrew damage system. The ships (Retaliator, Constellation) needed more work for the damage system. They have modular pieces, need to make sure the damage system will work regardless of the module plugged in.
Reverse the Verse
- They’ve got the shape for the Crucible, and are working on the pods for the Endeavour.
- We will get to see the inside and out of all the variants for the Vanguard.
- Alexis has been doing a lot this week with Sandi. New merch, something coming for Concierge folks, more stuff for Subscribers, lots of ‘cool’ stuff coming.
- Disco spent the week testing the upcoming community hub, which should be coming soon.
- Social module: Austin is working on getting it to the PTU. It’s close, but no specific date to share yet.
- Q: Deep dive on Sensor and radar mechanics? A: Eventually yes. It’ll be in the near future.
- Social is the fist step into the PU. Allows to step around Arc Corp with players, see locations, shops, fidelity. It won't have anything to do with orgs or ships in hangars. For the next 18 months after that, they’ve got a schedule to get it from Social to ‘the future’.
- Social’s being launched very ‘young’, it’ll grow up a lot over time.
- Tony Zurovec’s writing a piece about the Social module that’ll come out with it.
- Vanguard will be variants, not modules. Mostly exterior changes. Modules don’t replace variants, there will always be both from now on.
- Upgrades during the Vanguard variants sale? If you have an existing one, you can upgrade it to either of the other two.
- Vanguard variants are: Standard = Warden. Vanguard Sentinel, Vanguard Harbinger.
- Q: Status on orgs 2.0? A: TBD. Hear more probably at CitizenCon.
- Q: Current thoughts on head/helmet bob? A: It’s intentional in FPS stuff right now, not sure what the long-term plan is.
- Q: Plans for a tow-truck ship? A: The Crucible is the tow-truck ship. We’ll be seeing that at some point.
- Q: Can we see another career deep dive? A: Yes. probably repair or science, associated with the ships when they’re done.
- Social module PTU will be available to ~2000 people at first, then expanded from there. There won’t be a required ‘pass’ for this. This is the first iteration of the Star Citizen Universe. Everyone should get it just by backing.
- ‘It’s like your hangar got big.’ No shared hangars at first, but that will change in the future.
- Q: Khartu Scout? A: It’s alive. It’s on the schedule. If you haven’t seen the schedule, there’s now a ship status page in the official announcements page on the forums.
- Pipeline is being re-jiggered. Getting more resources off SQ42 to deliver some pledge ships sooner. Ships status questions won’t be answered till the pipeline is updated.
- The stress test for Social will be very specific, not chosen by Citizen number. Chosen by geographic location and distance from servers.
- Probably won’t see AntiAliasing done anytime soon. That’s optimization, usually happens towards the end of development.
- Q: Endeavor concept sold before Cit Con? A: Unknown. Any concept will be sold once it goes through the design process. Not based on a particular event or anything. When they do one for an event, they do one that requires no additional design. There will be a ship revealed at CitizenCon, but it won’t be the Endeavor.
- No revisions to the 300 series yet, but they’re on the table.
- Q: NPC population in the social module? A: Very small population at this point. More on that later. Right now, more important to get people in than NPC’s.
- Q: Able to use NPC’s in AC 2.0 as gunners? A: Probably not first release, but down the line yes. Real technical challenge is getting as many players in at one time, that’s what lots of the initial tests on things will be.
- Q: Ability to add friends to lobbies, uninvite, reinvite in social? A: Nothing right now. They’ll try to get an answer for us though.
- Working on a ship schedule. Nothing signed off on yet, but they’re hoping to start before the end of the year, the Xi’An scout, Reliant, some others. Could all change, but they’re hoping. Vanguard will not be hangar ready next week.
- Q: Will the Connie get modules? A: Possibly. Don’t want to pre-confirm anything. They had a good idea on the Tali modules, nothing else specific for the Connie until they have specifics.
- Q: News on the Blitz racing mode? A: No news.
- Q: FPS before or after AC 2.0? A: That’s a schedule question. No answer. FPS was slated to be out months ago! So yes, that’s still the hope too, it’s a matter of redoing animations right now. Waiting for a report from Jason Hutchins to find out how that’s going. 2.0 has the tech it needs from FPS.
- CIG does know that the Glaive’s left missile only fires backwards.
- There are some artists working on the Herald right now, design review this afternoon for that. Actively making progress on it.
- Questions about the Frankfurt studio, they don’t compel anyone to be on the shows, they just invite people. Frankfurt would rather work than be on camera right now.
- Q: Passive auto-aim on gimbals? A: Probably no. Won’t be an embedded function. Looking into the ability for an additional targeting computer, but it’s all still subject to tuning and implementation.
- There are people penciled in to start on the Reliant before the end of the year, should get made relatively soon.
- No progress on the Drake Dragonfly yet. The Dragonfly is on the short-list, but it needs more design work on it first, to make sure it works functionally with everything else first.
- The Crucible, Endeavor, and the Prowler are the last ships in this wave to be done. The Prowler and more we haven’t heard of will be kicked off after Crucible and Endeavor.
- CIG are working on having specific studios focus on specific ship manufacturers.
- Q: Freelancer? A: Handed off to the UK. Was handed off not too long ago, but Lisa’s not sure if they’re working on it right now or not. It’s definitely one of the next ships to be worked on though.
- Q: Constellation? A: The Connie was in the demo, it’s still being worked on. Has not stopped being worked on since Gamescom.
- Q: Caterpillar? A: According to the schedule, which hasn’t been signed off on, it's supposed to have some LA people work on that after the New Year.
- Q: Carrack? A: No updates.
- The Scythe and Glaive should have really crazy handling but they only have fixed weapons. That’s why their handling is sharper.
- You will see more 'natural' planetary environments as development progresses.
- Q: Alien races status? A: Making good progress. There’s been a concept artist working on fleshing out the Vanduul and making variants of them. Some updated Vanduul art showed up in the ComicCon presentation by Chris.
- There will be nightclubs for sure. There are legal questions bout how you do gambling in games. It adds gameplay, but also adds complications. At least one nightclub has already been built.
- Avenger is a great example of prioritizing design instead of money. No variants till the people making them are happy with them. The Avenger is one of the most popular ships. Disco just did a recent audit of how many of each ship (owned) are out there, Avenger is in the top 10.
- Vanguard Sentinel is the EWAR variant.
- The Connie needs to be flight ready, and the snub dock has to be working before they can look into things you can replace the snub dock with – like a 3rd turret.
- Q: HUD redone for all ships to be inside the ship, not floating? A: Depends on the manufacturer. Some will have holograpahics, some won’t.
- Hangar holotable revamp is being worked on. It’s not immediate, but it’s in the plans. They know it has issues.
- New CCU system is being tested, but it’s not coming 'til it’s ready.
This Week in SUN...Things have gone back to being quiet, relatively speaking. Plenty of people are working hard on various subjects, and many others are still just biding their time and waiting from more game to play from CIG.
Insofar as actual news items, there was only one for last week:
Barnard Star had submitted a proposal. It has since been reviewed by the College and their reponse can be found here. Check it out if you haven't already.
There was a little more news, and it 'technically' should go into next week's report since it happened today. But I'm doing the post today, so neener neener!
Congrats Illuvian on your Star of Prevalence. Welcome to the club.
Keep cool and game on,