Star Citizen Monthly Report: March 2019

It’s all go across our studios at the moment, as devs from the UK, US, and Germany put the hours into getting Alpha 3.5 into the Persistent Universe. Naturally, the latest patch features heavily this month, but look a little closer and there are plenty of tasks for Alpha 3.6 and beyond being worked on to wet your whistles.

Star Citizen Monthly Report: March 2019

Last week, we updated the public roadmap with content all the way up to Alpha 3.9, where we’ll be flying Vultures to Crusader and beyond. If you missed the latest update, take a look, as progress for these new features will start appearing in your monthly reports soon enough.

AI – Character


We start with Character AI, who spent the month making general improvements, firstly to combat behaviors to make it easier for the team to assign different tactics to different characters. This work happily fixed a few bugs with vision perception and cover selection too. Secondly, NPC locomotion saw the integration of the collision avoidance system into smooth locomotion, which now takes into consideration the edge of walkable navigation areas.

Naturally, bug fixing, stability fixes, and optimizations were also done for Alpha 3.5.

AI – Ships


Ship AI implemented new pilot skill levels to vary the agility of enemy ships and determine how they balance self-preservation and aggression. Improvements were also made to how non-player traffic behaves around landing zones.

AI – Social


The Social AI Team finished the first pass of ‘scooching’, which made its monthly report debut last month. If you missed it, scooching enables a character to fluidly move from one action to another within a group of useables.

Design supported the set up of the bartender/vendor character by providing necessary tech pieces where needed. Optimization started on usables, including the caching of usable entries and TPS query time-slicing.

Animation


March saw Animation readying mission-giver Tecia Pacheco for her Alpha 3.5 debut and finishing the animation sets for Recco Battaglia and the ship dealers. They also implemented new female emotes and brought the male versions up to the current quality standard, which included stopping a plague of different technical issues.

Focus was also on two big-ticket items: developing the final jump system and the female playable character. Finally, the team worked on the combat AI system, adding new weapon options for enemies to use against the player.

Art – Characters


Character Art were one of the many teams collaborating on Alpha 3.5’s facial customizer. This coincided with the adding of the female playable character into the game and creating new armors wearable by both sexes (which will continue into the foreseeable future). Tecia Pacheco’s hair was tidied up before launch and the few non-Alpha-3.5-related hours were spent refining the hair creation pipeline.

Art – Environment


Many Environment Art devs devoted the month to Alpha 3.5, making quality-of-life improvements, bug fixing, and polishing assets. Several locations, including Hurston and Lorville, were refined and tweaked to give an overall improved visual experience. The ongoing planet tech development rolls on too, with current efforts becoming the foundation of wider improvements coming later in the year. The team are also looking into ways to better scale natural features like canyons, with first tests looking promising.

The final touches were added to ArcCorp ahead of its big release, with huge strides made early in the month when Area18, Riker Spaceport, and the surrounding city received finalized textures, materials, and finishes. While the planet was ‘content complete’ a while ago, the last stages of development saw countless optimization tasks completed to make it good enough for players to explore. The final level of detail (LOD) tweaks were completed to enable the assets to perform well in-engine, along with other technical aspects like tweaking view distance ratios, altering vis-areas, and merging meshes. Art of distant buildings and advertising added the final touch to the city’s vistas.


Art – Tech


Tech Art worked on the user interface for Character Customizer v2, which will see the light of day in Alpha 3.6. While the current version gives users all the required functionality, the process can be thoroughly streamlined through a number of layout and functionality amends. These changes have been prototyped and are awaiting implementation by the Gameplay Team.

Tasks towards extending the character creation ‘DNA gene pool’ were also completed, which will eventually increase the number of heads the user can choose from and blend together. While still being significantly fewer than the planned final amount, the enhanced pool will give players much greater variety compared to the nine heads per male and female available in Alpha 3.5.

Alongside customization, they fixed a few weapon-related bugs for both dev builds and Alpha 3.5, such as wrongly-oriented attachments, broken or missing animations, and a tagging issue causing the player character to be assigned the wrong animations. They supported Weapon Art with rigging and engine setup for several upcoming releases and worked with Animation and AI Programming on the first implementation of the new usable system.

Audio


Alpha 3.5 features the new flight model, the development of which presented an unmissable opportunity to expand on the ship audio experience. Improvements include new sound effects for strain and vibration, afterburners, maneuvering thrusters, and atmospheric flight. They also include accurate point source sound emitters and general improvements to the overall design, implementation, and mix.

Naturally, attention was given to ArcCorp and Area18, with new environmental dialogue, music, and sound effects implemented to contribute to the overall sense of a thriving metropolis. These include PA announcements, diegetic music, spot ambiance effects, dynamic advert audio, and systemic planetary ambiances. The team’s work is again complemented by the brilliant ArcCorp music cue from composer Pedro Camacho.

Audio was also produced for the Kastak Arms Coda pistol, Gemini S71 assault rifle, Xi’an Kahix rocket launcher, and Banu Tachyon ship cannon.

Finally for Audio, notable developments were made to the Foley system, including better footstep material recognition, redesigned depressurized footsteps, and varying footstep effects dependant on character heaviness and footwear. The Foley sound effect sync was improved when running too, as were collision sounds when rag-dolling.

Backend Services


Throughout the past month, Backend Services supported Alpha 3.5, fixed various bugs, and adjusted backend-supported features. On the main development front, great progress was made on the GIM rewrite, with the new matchmaker successfully tested internally. The GIM’s internal match/group management system also came to life. These changes are significant because, rather than being code existing inside the legacy GIM application, they are now individual and highly fault-tolerant services that can be scaled as the project develops.

Another major change was the introduction of the variable service, which came with a surprisingly high volume and rate of data.

One of the team’s goals this month was to provide much needed insight and analytics on various types of data coming from the DGS. So, a new system was created to track the rate of individual DGSs along with information about specific variables, enabling the team to fine-tune how data is serialized and how often it’s pushed to the backend.

The first major part of the iCache has been completed and tested internally, too. The iCache is a highly distributed and fault-tolerant storage/query engine that greatly out-performs the current pCache. It provides an indexing and query system that can be utilized by other services for specific and complex item queries. This system is important going forward, particularly as the Persistent Universe sees greater volumes of players and server meshing comes online.

Community


The community celebrated St. Patrick’s Day (or Stella Fortuna!) with a screenshot contest calling for in-game party pics. Plenty of outstanding images of memorable moments were received, but there were only three pots of gold to hand out – the lucky winners taking home a Constellation Phoenix Emerald, Mustang Delta, and Ursa Rover Fortuna.

March saw the unveiling of the multi-crew explorer, the Corsair. Should any prospective pathfinders be unsure whether they want to sail the stars in Drake’s latest, the recently released Q&A should help. Jump Point, the monthly subscriber-only magazine, took an even deeper dive into the Corsair’s design process along with a behind-the-scenes look at the new character customizer, a Whitley’s Guide on MISC’s Reliant series, and more.

Shouts of ‘Triggerfish!’ could be heard across the ‘verse when we announced our first new merchandise offerings of 2019 on April 1st: The Scents of Star Citizen collection. Classic fragrances of the past meet the mysterious essence of the future in Quantum, an innovative cultivation that transcends space and time.

Content – Vehicles


While the Vehicle Content Team predominantly focused on the three MISC Reliant variants and continuing work on the 300 series, they found time to work with Animation on a better system for setting up character ship entry and exit animations. The also tackled a variety of vehicle bugs leading up to the release of Alpha 3.5.

Design


Design’s focus throughout March was on Area18, which included adjusting the AI, usables, stores, and more. Tecia Pacheco was given a design pass, while a new team member was inaugurated with tasks to improve both the Emergency Communication Network (ECN) and NPC spoofing missions (where NPCs send out service beacons asking for help).

Regarding the in-game economy, a system built to create a robust and modular representation of item variance was polished and is now ready when needed. Inventories were also added to all new locations, including the new Alpha 3.5 weapons and items created by the Weapons Team.

DevOps


The culmination of this year’s first publishing cycle was especially busy for DevOps. The team publish internal builds every day of every month for internal testing, but demand increases drastically when additional publishes are needed for the Evocati and PTU. As the game grows, so does the complexity of deployments and the reporting requirements, with this month seeing a 69% increase in build activity. Most of this is due to the ‘feature streams’ that the team have worked on for the past few months, which isolate features from each other during development to avoid collision.

Engineering


The Engine Team supported Alpha 3.5 with extensive profiling, optimization, bug fixes, and improvements to help Sentry, the PU crash database, better analyze and catalog existing issues.

Rendering wise, they continued work on Temporal Sample Antialiasing (TSAA) with general quality improvements that translate to less flickering and a sharper picture. They also adjusted the TSAA bicubic filter based on frame time to prevent the accumulation of ringing artifacts at high framerates. For hair, they added an experimental option for custom tangents, removed the temporary scatter model, moved the hair mask to variation map alpha, improved edge masking, and added card support for the hair physically-based rendering (PBR) shader. For planetary ground fog (currently scheduled for Alpha 3.6), they refined the proxy mesh tessellation and moved pre-tessellation to jobs, did the first ray marching test and implementation, refined modeling of the fog gradient over terrain, and spent time rectifying floating point precision issues.

They also completed rendering support for CPU-accessible textures for RTT video comms calls and optimized shaders to avoided unnecessary resource creation (e.g in GPU skinning). The Initial ImGUI integration was completed and will be used to unify and improve the in-game profiling tools. System and module integration were added to avoid an unorganized collection of tools and a text/tag searchable configuration system for registered tools (similar to visual code) was implemented. To better improve load times, the team created a new load time profiler to track file access (times accessed, data transfer, etc.), amended the IO scheduler for SSDs and HDDs to give faster load times and response, and vastly improved file access in the shader system to speed up initialization at start-up.

In addition to the compile-time analysis tool developed last month, they finalized an add-in tool to generate optimal uber file sets and, as a result, reshuffled game uber files for even better compile times.

Work also began on a physics debugger that will allow the team to record issues, play them back, freeze time, etc. to help understand and speed up fixing complex physics issues.

Features – Gameplay


Throughout March, most of the team dedicated their time to working with the Character Team on the customizer, including the design flow, user interface, and the implementation of the female playable character. The rest focused on implementing comms video streaming improvements. All of the team’s work this month made it into the Alpha 3.5 build, so can be seen by anyone in the Persistent Universe.

Features – Vehicles


Improvements to gimbaled weapons were finished for Alpha 3.5 and the radar and scanning systems received a polish, including the implementation of focus angle and ping fire. Under-the-hood progress was also made with vehicle item port tech, specifically with the vehicle .xml migration to Data-Forge. March’s final stretch was spent fixing game crashes and bugs for the upcoming release.

Graphics


Alongside visual tweaks and fixing stability issues for Alpha 3.5, the team better aligned the sun and shadows with fog in large spaces (such as hangars) and fixed a persistent glitch with indoor lights. For vid-comms and general render-to-texture, the teams fixed a few issues that were interfering with brightness along with intermittent cases where lights on holograms were disappearing. They also switched most holographic scenes over to a forward-shaded render pipeline to improve efficiency.

Graphics also got in on the gas cloud feature by supporting Design, adding the ability to rotate tunnel pieces, and creating a more intelligent streaming system to enable them to lay out large sections of the game without running over the memory budget.

Level Design


The Level Design Team barreled on with Area18, fixing bugs and generally preparing it for its unveiling. This included a lot of playtesting and tweaking of the room-system, landing areas, transit system, and more.

Planning began for the upcoming procedural tool and next set of procedural space stations. Prototyping was done on cave layouts and potential gameplay was ideated in close cooperation with the Environment Art Team. There were also updates to Lorville, with the addition of small and medium hangars and a new transit line between Teasa Spaceport and the Central Business District (CBD).

Lighting


Like many others, Lighting almost entirely dedicated their month to finalizing Area18, which required collaboration with a lot of other teams. Particularly, they worked with Props and Environment Art in the final push to raise the visual standard and unify the look across the wider landing zone. Performance is always a concern, so special attention was paid to ensuring the maximum lighting quality was achieved within the defined frame budgets. After lessons were learned during the development of Lorville, the team were able to optimize the new location’s lighting far more efficiently.

Aside from Alpha 3.5, Lighting had a hand in the development of the character customizer by providing a clean, high-quality lighting rig for the UI. They also supported the reworking of the Echo 11 Star Marine map, providing additional polish, optimization, and clean-up.

Narrative


In March, Narrative worked with Design to identify the production nodes and manufacturing locations of all of Star Citizen’s corporations for the expanding economy system. This led to a review of the item inventories of Stanton’s shops to make sure stores were carrying items appropriate for their location. The team also worked on generating names for various vehicles, including the Ursa Rover Fortuna.

Narrative filled Area18 with a variety of posters, ads, and props to flesh out the lore of Stanton’s newest landing zone. They also worked with the Live Design Team to support mission content for Tecia Pacheco. Finally, Alpha 3.5 will also provide a first look at the new Banu language that is being developed, so keep an eye out for more info on that.

Player Relations


Player Relations were busy throughout March supporting the Evocati and players smash bugs in the PTU. Initially, they worked alongside the Evocati for several builds to test out the new flight model.  Once it was stable, they added Concierge and Subscribers to test out the other key features. Eventually, all backers were welcomed into the PTU before Alpha 3.5’s wider release.

“We say it every month, but we can’t thank our volunteers enough for the wonderful efforts they put into helping us build this game (especially you Avocados!).”

Props


At the start of March, the Props Team took Area18’s assets from the ‘modeling complete’ phase through to ‘final art’, which included the technical set up, LODs, prefab setup, and bug fixing. They reached ‘content complete’ status half-way through the month before heading into the final polish pass. The area’s food carts were pushed a little further with branding and dressing prop variation, while the lighting was separated out to give the Lighting Team more control. Updates were also made to older street furniture to bring it up to standard and the team helped with the branding and signage assets used throughout the level.

With persistent habs included in Alpha 3.5, a pass was completed to convert a whole host of props from static objects to interactive entities, while hand grip was set up to work with the player animations and additional physics set up.

The team also took a pass at the Spectrum Unlimited kiosk, creating additional dressing, props, and magazines. The month was rounded off with a final bug-fixing pass and, of course, turtles.

QA


QA’s testing focus was on feature integration for the Alpha 3.5 branch. They tested all the new content such as ArcCorp and its moons, Area18, the character customizer, female playable character, Origin 300i rework, and Reliant Variants. In addition, stability and performance testing ramped up in anticipation of the release and included daily performance captures to help narrow down and fix performance-related issues.

The AI feature testers in Frankfurt worked hard to stay on top of the various issues that cropped up with the addition of new mission givers and changes to collision avoidance. The embedded tester for the Transit Team was kept busy debugging various low repro issues that seemed to be tied to server performance and caused issues such as players falling through floors and Lorville’s trains not turning up. Memory corruption testing is currently ongoing to help track down crashes that occur randomly during normal gameplay. This testing is being done in the PTU using custom binaries provided by the Engine Team.

Ship Art


Lead Vehicle Artist Chris Smith completed the refactor of the Origin 300i and spent quite a bit of time getting the components modeled. He has now officially moved onto a new ship, which is currently in the whitebox phase.

3D Modeler Josh Coons continues his work on the Banu Defender and is working diligently to complete the greybox stage. Since everything on this ship is brand new and almost nothing is re-used from other ships, he is being assisted by Associate Vehicle Art Director Elwin Bachiller to ensure it’s completed in time.

System Design


The System Design Team finalized the current iteration of the no-fly zones around Area18 and ArcCorp, which required new features to be added to allow it to work at the scale required. Walla and Lyria both received their share of mining resources, with Walla getting unique Atacamite geode deposits. They also finalized their work on the unification of the vendor/bartender AI, which will allow the same behavior to serve drinks at a bar and give players items from a shelf and weapons from a rack.

Turbulent


Turbulent supported the Alpha 3.5 features promotion, which highlighted character customization, ArcCorp, and the new flight model. They also supported St. Patrick’s Day, which featured the new Ursa Rover Fortuna and a screenshot contest.

The CMS backend migration continued and was deployed to the PTU (the changes will appear in the live environment within the next few weeks).

Voice servers received an upgrade which will benefit from RTCP (data channel) improvements and enable active speaker detection in comms channels. The security of voice channels has also been improved. The Services Team continued working on video streams in comms channels in order to improve long-distance calls, too.

Turbulent’s upcoming Game Admin tool will support game designers as well as the Player Relations Team by providing key statistics as well as granular technical information on groups, lobbies, and voice channels. The design is now done and development has started on its first functionality, the general information display.

Finally from Montreal, the Game Services Team continued working on the new framework that will impact all upcoming development of Star Citizen services. Thanks to this core modification, services including group, lobby, and voice channel will be more standardized and upcoming development milestones will be reached quicker.

UI


Last month, UI finalized the in-fiction advertisements and branding for ArcCorp and Area18. They progressed with the area map, including the ability to visually distinguish between different floors of an interior. As release day drew closer, they worked on various optimizations and bug-fixing.

Vehicles


This month, the Global Vehicle Team put the finishing touches to the Alpha 3.5 ships and steadily progressed with those beyond the latest release:

The largest sub-team is focused on the Origin 890 Jump, which has just completed the greybox stage and is now heading into the final art phase. Work is progressing on the Carrack, which now has the whole of the engineering section in the rear done to greybox and the habitation deck is only missing the captain’s quarters to be greybox complete. The Vanguard series is heading to the final art stage, with the rear section and cockpit both receiving a pass. The exterior is up next. Greybox of the Banu Defender rolls on, while the Character Concept Team was called on to build a foundation for the Tevarin species that will be used to help design the Esperia Prowler.

Finally, pre-production began on the P52 Merlin update, P72 Archimedes, and the Esperia Prowler.

VFX


The VFX Team rolled out their recent GPU particle lighting changes, which includes a new optional specular shading model for particles. This multiplies the level of lighting the particle receives from the cube maps, causing it to sit within the environment more realistically. In the photo below, the left smoke effect uses the old lighting (without specular shading), while the right uses the new system.

The team is currently looking at some of the older effects in the game and are reworking them to take advantage of the updated systems, such as the EMP, which was added some time ago and has since degraded due to issues with the old particle system.

Regarding weapons, the team polished and optimized the new ballistic pistol and assault rifles and took the first pass at the Tachyon cannon; a brand-new weapon type that was in its R&D phase last month.

On the ship side, the reworked 300i had a full VFX pass. Finally, as is usual in the run-up to a release, the team began their twice-weekly playtests, from which a fairly large ‘snag list’ was created and fixed.

Weapons


The Weapon Art Team started work on the Apocalypse Arms Animus missile launcher, the Klaus & Werner Lumin SMG, and new upgrade levels for various ship weapons.

Conclusion

WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH

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   Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17036-Star-Citizen-Monthly-Report-March-2019

Gamescom 2949 Details

Gamescom 2949 is right around the corner, and we’re looking forward to meeting all the Star Citizen fans making the trip to Cologne. Members of the community team will be on hand at Bar Citizen events in the evenings, with Friday’s meetup including special guests Erin Roberts and Brian Chambers.

Plus, members of the community team will have loads of exclusive goodies to give away, so if you see them, don’t hesitate to say hello!

Meetups in Cologne during Gamescom Week


We’re taking every opportunity we can to meet with the community throughout the whole Gamescom week.

Join your fellow Star Citizens and members of the CIG development staff at the following locations:

Wednesday, August 21st
Join us at the Deutzer Brauhaus at 7:30pm CEST for drinks and a chance to chat with the team.

Get Details

Thursday, August 22nd
Meet us and fellow Citizens from around the world at the Brauhaus Ohne Namen at 7:00pm CEST.

Get Details

Friday, August 23rd
We’re back at the Brauhaus Ohne Namen at 7:00pm CEST for our final night of Gamescom revelry.

Get Details

Please join us at any or all of the events above and get to know the Star Citizen developers & community.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17039-Gamescom-2949-Details

April 2949 Subscriber Flair

April 2949 Subscriber Flair

Subscribers

Centurions will receive the RSI Venture Rust Society Leg Armor. RSI’s Venture is a lightweight armor set built for the unknown. This EVA-rated protection system features an undersuit built from a durable polymer weave that’s designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions and features component armor pieces to protect you against impacts and particulates. The Rust Society edition adds a red and tan color scheme so you look good while working hard.

Imperator Subscribers

Imperator-level subscribers get the RSI MacFlex Rust Society Leg Armor. Whether you’re planetside or in vacuum, RSI’s MacFlex industrial armor set has your back. Reinforced plating keeps you safe from environmental hazards while the array of pouches keep your tools accessible. The Rust Society edition celebrates blue-collar workers with an exclusive red and tan coloration that hides dirt and wear and tear well.

If you’re an active subscriber, these items will be added to your account on April 21st.

If you aren’t a subscriber but want to sport these fancy pants, make sure you subscribe no later than April 20th.

More information about subscriptions can be found here

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17040-April-2949-Subscriber-Flair

Squadron 42 Monthly Report: February 2019

Squadron 42 Monthly Report: February 2019

This is a cross-post of the report that was recently sent out via the monthly Squadron 42 newsletter. We’re publishing this a second time as a Comm-Link to make it easier for the community to reference back to, and plan on following this process for future Squadron 42 Monthly Reports.

Attention Recruits,

What you are about to read is the latest information on the continuing development of Squadron 42 (SCI des: SQ42).

Read on for classified details from every corner of the planet, collected over the course of the last month, concerning Squadron 42-related work. The information contained in this communication is extremely sensitive and it is of paramount importance that it does not fall into the wrong hands. Purge all records after reading.

UEE Naval High Command

AI (Ships)


February’s roundup starts with the AI Team, whom improved various aspects of dogfighting, which included the addition of evasive maneuvers to enemy ships. Now, when an AI pilot has an enemy on its tail, it will try to utilize ‘break-aways’ with increasingly-varied directions and angles, try to keep momentum, and chain attacks together. The team achieved this by adding new ‘SmoothTurning’ subsumption tasks to the behavior logic.

AI pilots will also attempt to create diversions using evasive maneuvers.

Automatic incoming/outgoing ship traffic over planetary landing areas was implemented this month, too. The team are currently generalizing ship behaviors to enable the designers to easily set up traffic on cities, capital ships, and other required areas.

AI (Character)


The AI Team also made improvements to the existing character collision avoidance system. The changes began with adjustments to the smooth locomotion path, with data coming from the collision avoidance calculation to make sure the character has enough free space to move.

Time was spent combining the different features required for dynamic cinematic scenes and dynamic patrolling, with focus on the transitions into and from trackview scenes and generalizing guard behaviors to correctly use ‘walk & talk’ functionality.

For social behaviors, the team refactored vendor behavior to be generic and reusable in multiple contexts, first implementing a way for supporting motion-capture animations to be used as transitions between usables (which they’re temporarily referring to as ‘schooching’). This allows the designers to set up additional animations for specific usables/characters so that an actor’s performance can be maintained alongside the regular systemic behavior. For example, several levels have vendors with animations driven by specific actor performances. These need to be played without creating unique behaviors, so the special transition positions are highlighted within the level to allow the designers to verify the setup of the environment matches the existing animations.

The options that vendors can use were also generalized so that the designers no longer have to write them into their behaviors. Instead, the correct options are automatically selected based on the environment and (eventually) from the shop services.

Art (Characters)


This month, Character Art revisited the hair development pipeline. With the help of the Graphics Team, they developed new tools and shader tech to improve realism while maintaining quality and performance. They’re currently modeling characters and new hairstyles to test their new pipeline with.

Progress also continues on the Vanduul character model. The head and body mesh are complete, with texturing currently underway.

Art (Environment)


The internal lighting for scripted events on the Javelin is now completed. Art are currently focusing their efforts on the ship’s exterior, as the player will see certain events play out from both inside and outside of the ship.

Two key campaign areas are now grey-box complete, soft gate reviews have been carried out, and the go-ahead has been given to start planning out the shaders and textures.

As mentioned last month, Archon Station’s exterior is ‘watertight’. And now, all surfaces are complete, with collision meshes added for good measure. The layout does a fantastic job of selling the station’s scale when both far away and up close. The main transit system is also integrated, with all stops and secondary systems being finished throughout March.

A focus-team has moved back onto the Krugeri to help refine several areas with key cinematics. Alongside this, new areas are being added throughout the ship, including medical bays and an armory.

Art (Ships)


The Retaliator is one of several ships currently receiving tweaks to suit SQ42’s needs. The ship plays an important role in certain missions, so requires some subtle amends to suit. The updated ship will eventually make its way to the Persistent Universe, too.

Audio


The Audio Code Team and sound designers finished their collaborative work on the new camera-shake and ship-vibration systems. Now, when an engine kicks in, the ship shakes and hums. This also extends to the player, with events like a ship powering up causing minor camera shake.

The sound designers added new sound samples to a range of ships as part of the rollout of the New Flight Model. By adding ‘one-shot’ samples to each of the various thrusters, they’ve brought out more complexity to the sounds heard during flight. Additionally, they created the sound profiles and samples for the Gemini S71 assault rifle and Kastak Arms CODA pistol, which will both appear in SQ42 and the Persistent Universe (PU).

Currently, everyone from Audio is working towards an updated tool that better allows the sound designers to implement new assets in-engine whilst simultaneously testing how they sound.

Cinematics


The Cinematics Team made substantial progress on major scenes encountered late-on in the campaign and prototyped an important [REDACTED] that will take place at [REDECATED]. This included recording a total of 56 motion capture (mocap) lines and a handful of new wildlines.

Another significant sequence that garnered attention involves the Bengal carrier. A scene in the pilot ready-room required the mocap cast to use a circular table of 1.5m diameter and four chairs that could swivel, had no wheels, but could be pushed around. Although seemingly trivial, specific information like this is carefully shared between all teams involved to ensure the prop dimensions fit into the intended location, animations have enough space to run unimpeded, and the distance between conversing characters is maintained. Compared to the size of SQ42’s ships and planets, relatively small things like table and chairs can be very important for cinematics!

Engineering


February saw the Engine Team optimize the instance system used in compute skinning. This was achieved through a refactor of it on the CPU and shader for better maintainability, created a budget-based output-buffer system for skinning results (so they only have to skin once per frame), made more tangent reconstruction optimizations, and worked on wrap-deformation using the color stream.

Basic HDR display support was also added to the editor, as was a new hue-preserving display mapping curve suitable for HDR display output. The team provided material layer support for planet tech v4 and continued to improve character hair, which included initial support for edge masking and pixel depth offset. Game physics is progressing with Projectile Manager improvements, as are optimizations to wrapped grids and state updates. Support was added for ocean Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) wave generation to physics buoyancy calculations, as well as exposed optimized terrain meshes. A major system initialization clean-up was completed as part of an initiative to share core engine functionality with PU services, the lockless job manager was worked on (a complete overhaul for faster response in high-load scenarios), and a new load time profiler was created.

The team are currently wrapping up the ‘ImGUI’ integration and are introducing a temporary allocator for more efficiency when containers are used on stack. They made the switch to the Clang 6 compiler to build Linux targets (including compilation cleanup of the entire code base) and plan to switch to the latest stable release (Clang 8.x) in the near future.

Finally, a ‘create compile time’ analysis tool (utilizing new Visual C++ front and backend profiler flags) was completed to gather, condense, and visualize reasons for slow compile and link times. As a result, various improvements have already been submitted and further action items defined.

Features (Vehicles)


Most of the vehicle work completing in February will eventually appear in both SQ42 and PU:
Gimbal Assist and its related HUD improvements were finalized and polished to allow for better balancing of this new weapon control scheme. Turrets were also improved, with the team adding a HUD and keybinds for input sensitivity, implementing adjustable speeds for gimbal target-movement based on proximity to center aim, and fixing bugs the caused snapping and erratic movement.

A lot of time went towards scanning improvements, which included adjusting the area for navpoint scanning, adding the ability to utilize the navpoint hierarchy, and adding a Boolean to opt into the scanning data. This endeavor also covered adjustments to make scanning more involving by setting up AI turrets to generate signatures and be scannable and adding specific icons for scanned/unscanned targets. Ping and blob were implemented to display on the radar too, including focus angle and ping fire. They also continued to make item port tech optimizations, developed tech for utilizing geometry component tags in the paint system, and fixed a handful of crash bugs.

Exclusively for SQ42, the team continued to work with the designers to implement various Subsumption callbacks for mission-specific requirements.

Graphics


A large part of the Graphics Team’s time throughout February was spent closing down the final features for the volumetric rendering of gas clouds. This included unifying the lighting between volumetric effects and opaque objects, which required adding support for deep Fourier shade maps into the general lighting pipeline. Several other changes were made to allow gas clouds to be built from smaller modular pieces, which helps overcome the large storage requirements of volumetric data.

Another focus was adding multi-threaded rendering support to the editor, which will improve the performance for artists and designers working in complex scenes. In some cases, this can almost double the framerate and get much closer to the performance of the optimized ‘shipping’ build of the game. The editor code was written before the engine was multi-threaded and, as a result, there are many bugs that have to be painstakingly found and fixed. However, it is now nearing completion.

Level Design


Each of the four design teams progressed towards the goal of completing a handover flow for the first third of the game. This involved an in-depth dive into the details of planetary bodies in the Odin system, with the aim to get accurate Quantum Travel distances and create glorious backdrops for the various space battles.

Great progress was made on the social AI and usables technology that allows NPCs to systematically demonstrate different behaviors within the Idris corvette.

The Design Team integrated the Air Traffic Controller feature (which coordinates all take-offs and landings) into the game-flow to help promote the ‘busy’ feel you’d expect when visiting a huge military capital ship. Refinements of both FPS and ground combat in-line with the current roadmap continued, too.

Narrative


Both Dave and Will spent most of the month visiting the UK office. That time was spent not only reviewing the latest progress on several chapters, but on capturing a few additional pickup performances needed for the completion of the game. This included recording tests for the female player character to ensure the pipeline is working correctly before the team proceeds with recording all of her performances.

The wider Narrative Team made progress on generating the specific text needed for on-screen mission objectives. Previously, this had been placeholder text as designers worked on levels, but moving forward, the hope is to begin using the proper in-lore objectives.

Programming


Alongside making more improvements to Vault & Mantle’, work began on Player Jump v2. They’re currently re-evaluating how the animations are set up in the code to help simplify and reduce the number of assets.

The team revisited stealth takedown mechanics and re-evaluated the previous work done on knife takedowns. They continued work on the free-look view limits (where the player’s range of view is restricted depending on their helmet/armor) and separated out the range when weapon aiming from free-look.

SQ42 Features began improving the in-game workflow for iterating on cinematic scenes and evaluated potentially suitable existing tech for suitability. For example, being able to jump to a specific conversation, skip to the end of a scene, replay scenes, etc. They also added additional ways of triggering conversations based on the distance or the direction the player is approaching an NPC from.

QA


While most AI testing took place in the Persistent Universe and Arena Commander (AC), the same systems will also appear in various aspects within SQ42. In most cases, testing in the PU and Arena Commander is sufficient, but QA now regularly undertakes flow testing for those features most relevant to the SQ42 campaign. Any issues encountered are cross-checked with the findings of other testers and JIRA tasks are created accordingly. Usually, the issues tend to be related to setup rather than code, as most code problems are discovered during preliminary testing in the PU/AC.

The testing of various cutscenes from the SQ42 campaign is on-going by a dedicated tester and will support the Cinematics Team with any issues that prevent them from creating Track View sequences.

System Design


The System Design Team predominantly focused on AI throughout February:
For Ship AI, they made general improvements throughout, including the way AI ships attempt to avoid the player’s fire. For social AI, they’re working on Duncan Chakma, the Idris’ master at arms. This character has some of the more complex behaviors and solving him should speed up the development of all other characters that encompass complex player choices (such as movement from station to station, interacting with items, and giving/taking back weapons). On the FPS AI side, they focused on restructuring behaviors so that they become more modular, with the goal to make it easier to implement specific chunks of logic and influence the AI’s skillset.

The team also spent time on set filming new animation sets for NPCs that should create a lot more depth and bring them to life.

User Interface (UI)


During February, UI began working on the branding and theming for the Aciedo, Shubin, and OMC environmental UI displays, as well as the GRIN manufacturer.

VFX


The VFX Team updated the existing particle lighting system to a more modern iteration. The previous version was based on tessellation, which increased the rendering cost and had limitations on shadow resolution. The new system is a global change that will remove the need for tessellation and improve shadow receiving for a crisper, smoother appearance.

They’re also continuing work on the cinematics for SQ42. This includes a lot of soft/rigid body destruction simulations that will be required for scenes where objects are destroyed (peeling back metal panels, fracturing and breaking of glass, concrete, etc.).

The UK-based team put most of their focus on vehicle damage and destruction, which is always an enjoyable task for the artists. Specifically, they blocked out several destruction sequences after an extended R&D period with Art and Design to help determine exactly where and when certain story-driven destruction sequences should occur.

They also continued to iterate on the lightning effects after receiving several new features from the graphics and game code engineers. For example, a new seed option allows the artist to remove all behavioral randomization from the effect, which makes it much easier to fine tune. This is also beneficial for cinematic sequences to ensure lightning looks the same each time it strikes.

Weapons


The Weapon Art Team completed the Gemini S71, Kastak Arms Coda, Banu Singe tachyon cannons, Gallenson Tactical ballistic cannon reworks, and five variants of the Aegis Vanguard nose guns.

Covert Intel


Ride ‘em in, cut ‘em out

Conclusion

WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH

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   Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17031-Squadron-42-Monthly-Report-February-2019

New Merchandise!

New Merchandise!

We Asked, You Answered…

In an effort to revamp our selection of physical merchandise, we recently put a call out on Spectrum to see what kind of items you wanted to see in the store. After tirelessly collating your responses, it has become very clear what you’ve been clamoring for, and we are super excited to announce our first new merchandise offerings of 2019.

The Scent of Star Citizen

We asked what you wanted, and the resounding answer returned: themed unisex fragrances. Thus, we present to you the inaugural offering in the Scents of Star Citizen collection.

Quantum by Christiano Roberto

The classic fragrances of the past meet the mysterious essences of the future. An innovative cultivation of scents that transcend space and time. Always relevant.

And look for these other intoxicating aromas from all around the ‘verse, coming soon to the pledge store!

Bishop No. 42
Rich rose and hints of tobacco interface with peated scotch and herbal highlights to create a fragrance reminiscent of victory. For if there is one thing the Vanduul have taught us, it’s that without the smell of victory there can be no survival.

Oppression by Hurston

You work hard every day for the betterment of your community. Shouldn’t you smell like it? With top notes of smog and spice, complemented by the compelling bouquet of a job well done, Oppression epitomizes the hard-worn smell of success.

Kayfa Kiss by Inmersión

Capture the “exotic essence” of the Xi’an with the heady aroma of centennial bloom mingling with sharp counter-notes of rotting meat and intrigue.

Scents of the Stars Collection

Pre-order the entire collection now in an ultra-deluxe limited-edition collector’s gift set and be the first one in your org to smell like the stars.

This purchase includes attendance to the launch of the new fragrance line on Christiano Roberto’s super-luxe, limited-edition, gold-trimmed 890 Jump, where he’ll personally hand you a signed bottle.

(Warbond only)

A Perfumed Partnership

Inspired by the odorous innovations dreamed up for these fragrances, our devs have initiated an exciting collaboration with FACEWARE, working on revolutionary “Smell Over IP” or SOIP. Imagine the total immersion as you introduce your olfactory system to the curiously sterile, vaguely chemical scent of Port Olisar, the sweaty smoggy bouquet of Lorville, or that disconcerting mystery smell emanating from GrimHEX. Keep an eye on our public roadmap for this aromatic new feature, coming soon!


Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17015-New-Merchandise

Fortune & Luck to You & Yours

Illuminate the Day

Cheers!

Luck is in the air all around the ‘verse and, as you gather your closest cohorts for copious merriment, we tip our caps to you and your accomplishments.

Here’s to you and new discoveries. Here’s to fate ever smiling upon you. And here’s to the opportunity to commemorate the occasion with friends, frivolity, and frothy beverages.

Get in the spirit with limited edition commemorative green and gold vehicles, and show us how you celebrate in a revelrous contest.

Feelin’ Lucky?

Don’t say the party’s over

Raise a glass to another year of revelry, success, and prosperity… just don’t forget to invite us! Throughout the weekend, we want you to share your most outrageous in-game party pics. And the inevitable FOMO of your fellow citizens (assuming they aren’t at your function) is the tip of the iceberg.

That’s right, the most provocative party purveyors have the chance to win fabulous prizes. So what are you waiting for? Drape yourself in green and gold regalia, get your groove on, and show the rest of the ‘verse what they’re missing this weekend. Who knows? Fortune could smile upon you.

For more details and full contest rules go here.

Tempt Fate!

Dare to explore in this mean green machine

Make your fellow pathfinders green with envy by racing headlong into the unknown in the commemorative limited-edition green and gold Ursa Rover Fortuna from Roberts Space Industries. The most trusted name in all-terrain planetside exploration now embodies the essence of good fortune and success.

For more details visit the complete Ursa Rover Fortuna Ship Page

Disclaimer

We offer pledge ships to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The funding received from events such as this allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen world. These ships will be obtainable through play in the final universe and are not required to start the game.

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/16947-Fortune-Luck-To-You-Yours

Star Citizen Monthly Report: February 2019

February saw Cloud Imperium devs around the world working hard to deliver the incredible content for the soon-to-be-released Alpha 3.5 patch. Progress was made everywhere, from locations like ArcCorp to the gameplay developments afforded by the New Flight Model. Read on for the full lowdown from February’s global workload.

Star Citizen Monthly Report: February 2019

AI – Character


February’s roundup starts with the AI Team, who made improvements to the existing character collision avoidance system. The changes began with adjustments to the smooth locomotion path, with the data now coming from the collision avoidance calculation to make sure the character has enough free space.

Time was spent generalizing the options a vendor can use so that designers no longer have to write them into the behaviors. Instead, the correct options are automatically selected based on the environment and (eventually) from the shop services.

They’re also restricting combat behavior to allow better scalability when adding new tactics and are investigating some of the bugs found in the Alpha 3.4 release.

AI – Ships


Throughout February, the AI Team improved various aspects of dogfighting gameplay, including evasive maneuvers. Now, when an AI pilot has an enemy on its tail, it will try to utilize different break-aways with increasing and varied angles. It will also try to keep momentum and chain together attack maneuvers. To achieve this, the team exposed new ‘SmoothTurning’ subsumption tasks to the behavior logic.

When detecting enemy fire, AI pilots will utilize evasive maneuvers to create a diversion.

They also implemented automatic incoming/outgoing ship traffic over planetary landing areas. They are currently generalizing ship behaviors to enable the designers to easily set up traffic on multiple cities, capital ships, and so on.

Animation


Last month, Animation provided the remaining animation sets for previous characters already found in the Persistent Universe (PU), including Hurston, Battaglia, and Pacheco. They also finished off a new batch of animations for the ship dealer. Work continues on animations for future yet-to-be-announced characters too, which includes getting approval for the initial poses and animations before going forward with the final clean-up.

American Sign Language (ASL) emotes are being added to the game and are currently being improved with the addition of facial animations.

Finally, Animation is currently syncing with Cinematics for a few interesting segments that backers will get to enjoy soon…

Art – Tech


Tech Art invested significant effort into optimizing rig assets so that they work better with the facial runtime rig logic and the ‘look at’ and ‘mocap’ re-direction components. Since eye contact is one of the fundamental means of human communication, any error or tiny deviation can cause the ‘uncanny valley’ effect and immediately break immersion.

“If the eyes of an actor converge just slightly too much, they appear cross-eyed. However, if they don’t converge enough, they appear to look through you, as if distracted. If the eyelids occlude the character’s iris just a little too much, which, depending on the distance, could amount to just 2-3 pixels vertically, they look sleepy or bored. Conversely, if they expose too much of the cornea, they appear more alert, surprised, or outright creepy.”

So, the alignment of the virtual skeleton’s eye joints with respect to the eyeball and eyelid geometry is of utmost importance. Likewise, the ‘look-at’ system needs to control all relevant rig parameters and corrective blendshapes (not just the rotation of the eyeballs themselves) to create truly-believable runtime re-directions of the mocap animations.

Alongside facial work, the team completed several weapons-related tasks, such as fixing offsets during reload animations and locomotion issues for the pistol set. They also completed R&D related to playing animations in sync with character usables within cinematic scenes and helped Design to unify the character tags in Mannequin.

Art – Environment


Predictably, the Environment Team is racing towards the completion of ArcCorp and Area 18 – they’re currently working with and implementing the custom advertising provided by the UI department. The planet itself is in the final art stage and now includes skyscrapers rising above the no-fly zone to provide the player with landing opportunities and interesting buildings to fly around.

Concurrently, the ‘Hi-Tech’ common elements are steadily progressing, with the transit, habitation, and security areas all moving to the art pass stage. Players will see these common elements (alongside garages and hangars) when they’re added to microTech’s landing zone, New Babbage.

The new transit connection between Lorville’s Teasa spaceport and the Central Business District (CBD) is almost ready for travellers. This route will allow players to move directly between the two locations and bypass L19, cutting travel time for high-end shoppers.

Work on organics is ongoing, as are improvements to planet tech, with the artists hard at work creating a library of exotic-looking flora to fill the biomes of New Babbage with. Players can see it for themselves towards the end of the year.

The community can also look forward to upcoming information on the early work the team has done on procedural caves.

Audio


Both the Audio Code Team and the sound designers finished their work on the new camera-shake and ship-vibration systems. Now, when an engine kicks in, the ship shakes and hums. This also extends to the player, with events like a ship powering up causing minor camera shake.

The sound designers also added new sound samples to a range of ships as part of the rollout of the New Flight Model. By adding ‘one-shot’ samples to each of the various thrusters, they brought out more complexity in the sounds heard during flight.

The Audio Team spent the majority of the month creating the sounds of Area 18. Due to the melting pot of ideas and themes present in the new area, the sound designers tested new methods to bring out the unique atmosphere. Additionally, they created the sound profiles and samples for the Gemini S71 assault rifle and Kastak Arms CODA pistol, both of which will appear in the PU and SQ42.

Currently, the Audio Code Team is working towards an updated tool that better allows the sound designers to implement created assets in-engine whilst simultaneously testing how they sound.

Backend Services


Backend Services continued to lay the foundation for the new diffusion network to help scalability for the backend structure of the game. Emphasis is on ensuring the Dedicated Game Servers (DGS) correctly connect to the new diffusion services, particularly the variable, leaderboard, and account services.

February marked the near-end of work on the new Item Cache Service (a massive portion of the backend has now turned micro-service) and began the end-point between DGS and this service, too. As work is completed on the new diffusion services, testing will ensure a smooth transition to the new network.

Support was also added for subsumption services to read directly into the DataCore P4k system for increased efficiency and unification.

With the approaching publish of Alpha 3.5, Backend Services began work on logistics, syncing closely with DevOps to ensure that new services are up and running correctly while maintaining legacy services where necessary.

Community


The team celebrated Valentine’s Day with community-made cards and limited-time ship offers, including Anvil’s F7C-M Heartseeker – a special version of the Super Hornet shooting straight for the heart. During the Be my Valentine greeting card contest, most Citizens got creative with their favorite image editing software, though some went old-school with scissors and crayons to create fantastic crafts to share their love across the galaxy.

Also this month, Argo Astronautics released their latest addition to the ‘verse, the SRV. The ‘Standard Recovery Vehicle’ is built for tugging ships, ground vehicles, and massive cargo containers through the stars using its integrated tractor tech. If you’re looking for more information about this rough and rugged ship, head to the Q&A that answers questions voted-on by the community. As a bonus, Shipmaster General John Crewe stopped by Reverse the Verse LIVE for some in-depth tug-talk.

In the February issue of Jump Point (our subscriber-exclusive magazine), Ben Lesnick took a detailed dive into the ARGO SRV’s design process and went on a worker’s tour of Hurston. The Narrative Team also introduced us to the Human holiday Stella Fortuna and shed light on the history of the revered Rust Society.

A major update to the Star Citizen roadmap gave a look at what’s coming to the Persistent Universe in 2019 and what can be expected in upcoming releases.

Released in January, but worthy of another mention, is the official Star Citizen Fankit, which was put together to help all of you share your enthusiasm and engagement. Star Citizen lives by the support it receives from the community, so take a look at this treasure trove of assets and get creating!

The team is also excited to announce that our physical merchandise will soon be receiving a well-deserved face-lift. Having received a lot of feedback over the years, it’s clear that Citizens are passionate about merch and to make the store experience the best it can be, your input was needed. Thanks to everyone who contributed feedback to our thread on Spectrum!

Content – Characters


The Character Team revisited the hair development pipeline in February. With the help of the Graphics Team, they developed new tools and shader tech to improve the realism of hair while maintaining quality and performance. More work went into mission-giver Pacheco, including textures and rigging, with her hairstyle being used to trial the new hair pipeline. Work continues on the assets required for DNA implementation and the female player character, while refinement of the Xi’an concept is making great progress.

Design


Throughout February, Design focused on implementing Area 18’s shops, NPCs, and usables. Last month marked the end of implementation, with March being used for polish to ensure a believable and immersive experience upon release. The team also gained a new member to help with mission implementation and improvement, who is currently setting their sights on the Emergency Communication Network (ECN) mission set.

Regarding the economy, the US Design Team worked with their UK counterparts on the objective criteria and value of objects in-game, laying down the track for acquiring item properties and their values. A system was built to help create an abstract representation, which is both robust and modular enough to allow easy adjustment in the future when the details are finalized.

DevOps


DevOps had a busy month working on the build system and pipeline that supports feature stream development. After several long nights, they rolled out the upgrades and have been happy with the results so far – internal systems are running smoothly without errors and each evolution improves efficiency and storage consumption.

They’re now attempting to further compress existing data which, when multiplied by hundreds of thousands of individual files, will make a real impact to the dev’s daily development efforts.

Engineering


February saw the Engine Team spend time on general Alpha 3.5 support, such as profiling, optimization, and bug fixing. They also improved the instance system used in compute skinning and refactored it on the CPU and shader for better maintainability, created a budget-based output-buffer system for skinning results (so they only have to skin once per frame), made more tangent reconstruction optimizations, and worked on wrap-deformation using the color stream.

Basic HDR display support was added to the editor, as was a new hue-preserving display mapping curve suitable for HDR display output. The team provided material layer support for planet tech v4 and continued to improve character hair, which included initial hair mask, support for edge masking, and pixel depth offset. Game physics is progressing with Projectile Manager 2.0, as well as optimizations to wrapped grids and state updates. Support was added for ocean Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) wave generation to physics buoyancy calculations, as well as exposed optimized terrain meshes.

A major system initialization clean-up was completed as part of an initiative to share core engine functionality with PU services, work began on the lockless job manager (a complete overhaul for faster response in high-load scenarios), and a new load time profiler was created. The team are currently wrapping up the ‘ImGUI’ integration and introducing a temporary allocator for more efficiency when containers are used on stack.

They made the switch to the Clang 6 compiler to build Linux targets (including compilation cleanup of the entire code base) and plan to switch to the latest stable release (Clang 8.x) in the near future.

Finally, they finished a ‘create compile time’ analysis tool (utilizing new Visual C++ front and backend profiler flags) to gather, condense, and visualize reasons for slow compile and link times. As a result, various improvements have already been submitted and further action-items defined.

Features – Gameplay


A large portion of Gameplay Feature’s month was dedicated to implementing the new DNA feature into the character customizer. In addition, the team was responsible for creating and setting up the user interface (UI) and accommodating the female playable character, both of which are scheduled for Alpha 3.5.

Another major focus was on video streaming for comms calls, which consisted of a refactor of the comms component to utilize the voice service call mechanism. Research was made into the VP9 streaming format and video streaming improvements were completed that will be rolled out in the upcoming release.

Lastly, support was given to the US-based Vehicle Features Team, with updates to the turret sensitivity HUD, gimbal assist UI, and the shopping service entity registration.

Features – Vehicles


Gimbal Assist and its related HUD improvements were finalized and polished, allowing for better balancing of this new weapon control scheme. Turrets were also improved, as the team added a HUD and keybinds for input sensitivity, implemented adjustable speeds for gimbal target movement based on proximity to center aim, and fixed bugs with snapping and erratic movement.

A lot of work went into scanning improvements, which included adjusting the area for navpoint scanning, enabling use of the navpoint hierarchy, and adding a Boolean to opt into the scanning data. This endeavor also covered adjustments to make scanning more involving by setting up AI turrets to generate signatures and be scannable and adding specific icons for scanned/unscanned targets. Ping and blob were implemented to display on the radar too, including focus angle and ping fire.

To round out the month, they continuing to make item port tech optimizations, developed tech for utilizing geometry component tags in the paint system, and fixed a handful of crash bugs.

Graphics


Last month, the Graphics Team’s work on the PU was spread between several smaller tasks. There were many shader requests from the artists, such as adding new features to the hard surface shader and ISO support for decals in the forward rendering pipeline.

The team also continued with the CPU optimizations from last month. This included a 3x performance saving on the cost of building per-instance data buffers for the GPU and better support for the depth pre-pass to help occlude hidden parts of the frame with less CPU overheads.

To help the artists optimize their content, the team worked on an improved render-debugging tool that reports how many draw instructions (draw-call) a particular object requires along with a breakdown of why each instruction was needed. Once complete, this will allow the artists to dig into their material and mesh setups to save valuable CPU time.

Level Design


The Level Design Team soldiered on with ArcCorp’s Area 18, bringing the designer whitebox up to greybox. They began planning the modular space stations that will be built this year too, including looking at the libraries, rooms, and content that goes into them. The procedural tool is also now at a stage where they can slowly start ramping up the modular station production.

Live Design


The Live Team refactored existing missions to make them scalable to make more content available in the planetary system (other than Crusader). Significant progress was made on a new drug-stealing mission for Twitch Pacheco, as well as a BlackJack Security counter-mission that tasks less morally-corrupt players with destroying the stash.

Another focus was on implementing a variety of encounters with security forces and bounty hunters when the player holds a high crime stat.

As well as practical work, time was taken to define the next tier of many aspects of the law system, such as punishment, paying fines, bounty hunting, and so on.

Lighting


Last month, the Lighting Team focused on developing the look of Area 18. Lighting Area 18 is a mixture of clean-up work from the previous versions to match new standards and lighting the new exterior layout to a series of targets set by the Art Director. The team is working closely with the Environment Art and VFX teams to ensure that new advertising assets and visual effects ‘pop’ from the environment and provide interesting and varied visuals.

Narrative


Working closely with the Environment Art and Mission Design teams, February saw the Narrative Team further fleshing out of lore relating to ArcCorp and its moons. From new mission giver contract text to the catchy slogans gracing Area 18’s numerous billboards, a lot of additional lore was created to bring these locations to life.

Additionally, expanded wildline sets for security pilots, bounty hunters, and combat assist pilots were scripted and recorded. The AI and Mission teams will use these sets to begin prototyping and testing out new gameplay for inclusion in future builds.

Also, the Narrative Team made progress on generating the specific text needed for on-screen mission objectives. Currently, this is placeholder text from the designers who worked on levels, but moving forward, the hope is to begin using the proper in-lore objectives.

Player Relations


The Player Relations Team was busy preparing for Alpha 3.5 (including getting ready to test the New Flight Model) as well as boxing off the work created over the holiday period.

“As always, we’d like to point all players to our growing Knowledge Base, which now has 120+ articles and saw almost 450,000 visitors this month! We will continue to grow this by adding more ‘How To’ articles, patch notes, and live service notifications there as well as on Spectrum.”

Props


February saw headway into Area 18’s props: the core street furniture is now in and the team has moved onto the dressing pass, adding in new assets to give life to the streets, alleyways, and landing zone.

As the month closed out, the team jumped into release mode to get a head start squashing bugs and generally tightening up the upcoming release.

QA


Things ramped up on the publishing side in February as the team prepared Alpha 3.5 for the Evocati and PTU. Testing continues on the New Flight Model and other systems as they come online, such as the new weapons, ships, and locations. QA leadership continues to train the newer testers and improve the overall testing process.

The AI Feature Team kept the Frankfurt-based QA testers busy with new features, such as the improved avoidance system and new break-away maneuvers. Testing mainly consists of making sure they’re working as intended, as well as noting visible improvements to what was already in place (in the case of the avoidance system). Combat AI received perception updates which were tested by QA to address issues where the FPS AI would not recognize the player being present in their vicinity.

On the backend, changes to the subsumption visualizer are being tested to ensure no new issues have been introduced in preparation for their full integration into the editor. Testing for ArcCorp and Area 18 is currently underway too.

The Universe Team discovered that mining entities were not appearing in the client due to discrepancies in how they were spawned in the server. This was tracked down and fixed, though testing will continue to make sure it’s working as intended.

Ships


The Vehicle Content Team wrapped up the MISC Reliant Mako, Tana, and Sen variants for Alpha 3.5. They’re now in testing with QA who are addressing bugs before the vehicles go live. The designers and tech artists have been busy with the Origin 300i, which will reach QA for testing in the near future.

Back in the UK, the team continued production on the 890 Jump, bringing more rooms into the final art stage from greybox (including the hangar area). The Carrack is heading towards a greybox-complete state and select areas are being polished for review.

Development continues on the Banu Defender which is utilizing a new style of production that caters to its organic art style. ZBrush is being used to sculpt the interior before transferring the high-density model to 3ds Max, where it is then rebuilt (low-poly) for the game engine. A large portion of the exterior greybox is complete and looking fantastic.

Last but by no means least, the interior updates to the Vanguard wrapped up with essentially the entire area from the cockpit seat backwards being completely redone. This is more than was initially anticipated, but the team feels that it’s worth it. Now that the interior rework has been finalized and the framework for the variants agreed upon, the Ship Team can start on the exterior changes to accommodate them and continue with the variant-specific items.

System Design


The System Design Team is working on improving and upgrading the no-fly zones used across ArcCorp. Since the existing system now needs to support an entire planet, it has proven quite a challenge.

For social AI, the team’s working on unifying vendor behaviors and making sure they’re built in a modular fashion. For example, the team can easily graft new actions onto the base behavior of a shop keeper to allow them to pick up objects, give them to the player, and interact with things on the counter without having to build new ones from scratch.

As with social AI, the team focused on restructuring FPS AI behaviors to make them more modular, with the goal to make it easier to implement specific chunks of logic. For mining, they added new mineable rocks on ArcCorp’s moons. Wala in particular will have a new type of rock that fits better with the crystalline formations available on the moon.

Finally for System Design, AI traffic over Area 18 is currently being developed. The team’s starting small, with a few ships landing and taking off around the spaceport, but they’re also investigating ways to expand it while being mindful of performance.

Turbulent


RSI Platform: On February 14th, Turbulent supported the announcement of a new flyable variant of the Super Hornet, the F7C-M Heartseeker. They also made major updates to the CMS backend which required all hands on deck.

Services: This month’s game service work was focused around developing support for transporting video streams over the comms channels. This will allow the streaming of a user’s face/in-game texture to another player outside of the bind culling bubble, enabling in-game video calls over wider distances. This method also enables the transmission of in-game video streams to web clients.

Turbulent spent considerable time standardizing services to enable them to run within a new local development environment. This will allow the entire Star Citizen universe’s services to run locally on dev systems to develop and iterate with the entire stack.

The Turbulent Services Team also began work on an administration interface for game designers and game operators to display real-time information about the state of the universe. This application can display information about groups, lobbies, and voice channels along with details of online players, quantum routes, and probability volumes.

UI


As in January, UI supported the Environment Team with in-fiction advertising and branding for Area 18, including animation and hologram textures. They also made headway on the 3D area map using the concepts shown last month as visual targets. Finally, they began working out how to bring the rental functionality from the Arena Commander frontend to in-game consoles in Area 18.

VFX


The VFX Team updated the existing particle lighting system to a more modern system. The previous version was based on tessellation, which increased the rendering cost and had limitations on shadow resolution. The new one is a global change that will remove the need for tessellation and improve shadow receiving for crisper, smoother shadows. ArcCorp’s Lyria and Wala will be the first moons to use this new particle lighting system when it’s ready for deployment. It will help the particles integrate into the moons more realistically and address issues when the particles have long shadows going through them, such as during sunrise and sunset.

They also continued to iterate on thruster damage effects and began rolling it out to all ships.

Several new weapon effects were worked on, including a new ballistic hand cannon and ballistic assault rifle. They also carried out extensive visual exploration for the new Tachyon energy weapon class.

Finally, significant time was invested in improving the VFX editor’s UI layout and functionality. Although not as glamorous as planet dressing and effects, improving the quality-of-life for artists is important and helps them to work faster too.

Weapons


The Weapon Art Team completed the Gemini S71, Kastak Arms Coda, Banu Singe Tachyon cannons, Gallenson Tactical ballistic cannon reworks, and five variants of the Aegis Vanguard nose guns.

Conclusion

WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH

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   Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/16999-Star-Citizen-Monthly-Report-February-2019

March 2949 Subscriber Flair

March 2949 Subscriber Flair

Subscribers

Centurions will receive the RSI Venture Rust Society Arm Armor. RSI’s Venture is a lightweight armor set built for the unknown. This EVA-rated protection system features an undersuit built from a durable polymer weave that’s designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions and features component armor pieces to protect you against impacts and particulates. The Rust Society edition adds a red and tan color scheme so you look good while working hard.

Imperator Subscribers

Imperator-level subscribers get the RSI MacFlex Rust Society Arm Armor. Whether you’re planetside or in vacuum, RSI’s MacFlex industrial armor set has your back. Reinforced plating keeps you safe from environmental hazards while the array of pouches keep your tools accessible. The Rust Society edition celebrates blue-collar workers with an exclusive red and tan coloration that hides dirt and wear and tear well.

If you’re an active subscriber, these items will be added to your account on March 18th.

If you aren’t a subscriber but want to sport these gauntlets, make sure you subscribe no later than March 17th.

More information about subscriptions can be found here

Source: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/transmission/17004-March-2949-Subscriber-Flair