Star Citizen Monthly Report: May 2024

PU Monthly Report

Welcome to May’s PU Monthly Report! With Alpha 3.23 live our team from around the globe spent the month polishing features, squashing bugs, and progressing with the wealth of new content coming in 3.23.2, 4.0, and beyond. Read on for all the details.

AI (Features)

Following the launch of Alpha 3.23, AI Features supported the upcoming point patch and future releases. Specifically, they worked towards consistent behaviors across different combat scenarios, ensuring that AI characters react in believable ways, no matter what situation they’re in. The team began by improving and unifying perception reactions, improving cover use in different scenarios, and making a holistic evaluation of all combat elements to ensure they work as intended.

This is particularly important with the recent improvements to the hostility system. For example, if an AI comes across two others fighting and they are friendly with both, doing nothing is not a valid response. As the first-pass implementation for Alpha 3.23, the AI will run and cower when this situation arises, though this isn’t ideal and will be improved upon for an upcoming release.

AI (Tech)

Last month, AI Tech supported Alpha 3.23 with bug fixing and optimizations. This included adding new metrics to better understand the size of Pathfinder requests on live builds, navigation-tile-generation requests, and the number of active NPCs and boids.

Improvements were made to the functionality of NPCs pushing trolleys and using elevators alongside updates to behaviors for elevator use. Smoother animations when NPCs move away from trolleys and improved functionality for NPCs parking trolleys were implemented too.

AI Tech also began work to allow NPCs to understand when cover is being destroyed or when parts of a usable are being destroyed. This will prevent NPCs from attempting to find or use unsuitable cover.

For Ship AI, the team continued making improvements and fixing bugs related to following splines and back-strafing.

Animation

In May, Gameplay Animation focused work on numerous creatures, including the unreleased Quasi Grazer (“space cow”).

Art (Characters)

In May, the Character Art team completed the high-poly phase for two specialist armors and continued updating the utility armor. A new heavy specialist armor began development too.

Character Art also supported requests for the Character Customizer, while the Hair team started work on new hairstyles for future releases. Progress was also made on new creatures.

Art (Ships)

For Alpha 3.23, Ship Art delivered the Aegis Retaliator’s cargo and bomber modules, ensuring they met gold-standard requirements. The Argo MPUV Tractor was also completed in early May.

Elsewhere, LOD0 was completed for the RSI Zeus Mk II, with the team delivering a significant amount of work to dramatically increase the detail in all areas of the ship. For example, lighting across the entire ship has been designed to bring out the volume and highlight details, while animation passes were done across all moving parts, with many receiving secondary motion to communicate a sense of weight. The next stage is a wear pass and completion of the ship’s damage states. Material passes were also done to help unify the look and feel of new RSI ships in the future.

Finally for Ship Art, three other ships entered the whitebox stage.

Community

The Community team began May supporting Alpha 3.23: Adventure Beckons, including the Mirai Pulse grav-lev bike. They published the Pulse Q&A Comm-Link answering the community’s top questions and a Patch Watch highlighting a selection of features and quality-of-life improvements. They also held the Choose Your Character contest, giving players the opportunity to showcase their creations in-game.

In the latest Roadmap Roundup, more details were shared about the upcoming Alpha 4.0 patch. The team then visited BE@Con event in mid-May in Liège, Belgium.

“The outpouring of enthusiasm was humbling as we connected with hundreds of players over two exhilarating days. Chris and Sandi Roberts were awe-struck by the warmth of our community and the profound sense of unity within the Star Citizen journey. We commend the exceptional efforts of the BE@Con staff, who tirelessly crafted this event for a year and a half, ensuring that it was a joyous celebration for all!” Community Team

The Community team supported the recent Invictus Launch Week with an FAQ, the Free Fly schedule, the Anvil Hornet Mk I Sunset FAQ, updates to the Aegis Sabre Firebird and Retaliator, and Q&A Comm-Links for the Aegis Sabre Firebird, the Argo MPUV Tractor and the RSI Ursa Medivac.

They also published an update about the Overdrive Initiative event and ran the I’m Doing My Part video contest, challenging players to create a 15-second video showing how they supported the Empire during Invictus Launch Week.

Support was provided for various community events, including the System Seven ground racing league from ATMO Esports and the Ignition Expo from Anzia Racing.

The Community team continued detailing the weekly publishes with This Week in Star Citizen, and updated the Arena Commander Schedule.

Preparations for CitizenCon 2954 are also well underway and the team is dedicated to delivering an unforgettable experience – currently working through presentations, refining layout, and other fun surprises.

Core Gameplay

The Core Gameplay Pillar spent May closing out tasks and bug-fixing for Alpha 3.23 and 3.23.1. While part of the team focused on the final touches for the cargo feature, the majority continued working on gameplay features for Alpha 4.0 and beyond.

In May, the Core Gameplay Pillar completed a significant amount of work on the Multi-Tool refactor planned for Alpha 4.0. This will provide a more streamlined experience by putting the tool’s primary attachment action on the left mouse button and secondary action on the right. Planning for the remaining Multi-Tool refactor work, such as an updated UI and battery consumption, was also completed.

For biome accumulation, the team completed further SQ42-porting work and scoped out how the feature will integrate into the weather system.

Charge and Drain also continued through pre-production and will now utilize the Resource Network, support multiplayer, and the ability to charge and drain distortion damage from ship components.

Quantum travel is currently being reviewed to assess any aspects that need to be made Server Meshing compatible beyond issues observed during tech-preview tests.

Support for the Arena Commander’s Engineering mode was provided to allow items to be repaired once they reached zero health.

May also saw the Core Gameplay Pillar improving various profiling tools that assess the performance of characters, vehicles, and interactable entities. This will provide more and better-quality data.

Locomotion improvements for NPCs performing sharp turns were completed, which will allow characters and creatures to switch direction more smoothly.

Work required to adapt the Inventory System to Server Meshing was scoped out, as it will require a rework of its backend to scale appropriately.

The initial version of jump-drive-failure events was implemented in May. Now, when a ship’s jump drive is disabled or damaged, the player will be forced out of the tunnel, which correctly aligns with the exit point in the destination star system. Further improvements to the debug tools for jump-point gameplay were implemented too.

For engineering gameplay, the team implemented power pools, which allow the streamlined power management of grouped items like weapons and thrusters. The Resource Network was enabled by default in the main Star Citizen development branch, which ensures all teams can work with it and integrate their features or content with it.

For Transit, the team continued general release support for Alpha 3.23 and the upcoming cargo and personal hangar update. Scope, technical, and planning discussions concluded for the transit refactor, which is now in active development.

Estimates and scheduling were completed for the remaining Radar and Scanning tasks, including deliverable targets. Team members supporting the patch release concluded their work and moved to supporting radar and scanning.

Work was done on the Objects of Interest mechanic, which will allow designers to set up objects within the PU or SQ42 with various parameters and a special scan highlight. A special material was also applied when an object is occluded so that it shows one material when within line-of-sight and another when obstructed. The team also added a fading effect for highlighted objects based on distance

Additionally, work was done on including organization information in FPS scan data, while new SFX was added when attempting to ping while the ability is on cooldown. The team also completed checks between the PU and SQ42 streams, raising differences so the team can continue to port features from the SQ42 feature set.

Finally for Radar and Scanning, the team activated FPS radar and other experimental radar features across Arena Commander. These systems will be reassessed closer to the release of Alpha 4.0 for a potential preview via Arena Commander.

For Arena Commander, the team concluded work on the first version of custom lobbies, which went live in Alpha 3.23. Alongside general bug fixing, they also added Team Assignments, allowing players to arrange their teams in the lobby before entering the game. Support was also provided for the grav-lev-race leaderboards.

Initial work was completed on the first pass of a new EVA-only map for FPS game modes, with playtests scheduled for the coming weeks.

Additionally, the team began marking up all Arena Commander locations with the room system so they’re compatible with radar. The Good Doctor was completed, with the rest expected to be finished in the coming weeks.

The new frontend style was fully approved and began implementation, polish was complete on new animations, and the first example of a brand takeover was approved (using Drake). This will be used to guide the teams in creating more takeover designs for future events.

Two new strike teams were created to focus on two modes, one of which is FPS Horde.

For FPS Horde, the game mode and initial setup were completed alongside the deliverable scope discussion and task breakdown. The primary goal of this mode is to provide developers with a fast, easy, and reliable way to iterate on the development of spawn closets, creature and Human AI, and FPS radar. The team will assess the game mode closer to Alpha 4.0 on the feasibility of introducing it as a publicly playable Experimental Mode.

Additionally, the team worked on several quality-of-life initiatives for developers, including new vehicle-control-manager debugging. They also added dummy players to Arena Commander, which allow the developers to test scenarios with actors that mimic players. For example, this was first used to reproduce issues with team balancing and the scoreboard UI when a high number of players connected. Previously, this would’ve required either multiple developers or multiple clients.

Finally, the team resolved a major issue with team balancing and spawning for Alpha 3.23.2, and assisted in the resolution of a critical issue with analytics, including the creation of a new gameplay analytics dashboard.

Further progress was made on the mission-system refactor, including the implementation of the contract generator, the querying of active and completed missions from the mission service, and a rework of the mission-sharing flow. The team also updated mission entities to support streaming and refactored the mission system to use both the mission-broker and contract-template systems. The data structures required to refactor missions were provided to the Mission Design and Content teams too.

Further support was given to Mission Design for the updated delivery-contracts system that interacts with the upcoming freight elevators too.

Gameplay Features continued with the closeout of freight elevators, storage-access kiosks, instanced and personal hangars, and commodity-trading updates. The UI flow is currently being updated to provide a more streamlined experience when managing the warehouse inventory and moving items via the freight elevator. Items like weapons, armor, and furniture can now be brought up too.

Stacks of items can now be split in the storage-access and freight-elevator-kiosk UI, and filters for item categories were implemented.

Economy

Last month, the ‘effort vs reward’ algorithm was documented, which enabled the Economy team to determine the technicalities of implementing the mission-system refactor. Once live, mission rewards will be based on time and difficulty to complete. Part of this involved establishing sensible time estimates for hauling missions and finalizing the reward balance for the kopion and marok missions.

They also supported Invictus Launch Week and the existing cargo missions.

A design for the refactor of the shop system is underway that will provide more flexibility for trading commodities and item shopping. Progress was also made on an algorithm to determine the base prices of commodities.

Interactables

Last month, liquid-carrying cargo containers were worked on, with all sizes moving from whitebox to final.

A destructible generator was also made for search-and-destroy missions. The devs are currently working up to final with separate pieces that will detach upon destruction.

Lighting

Lighting spent time finalizing work on instanced hangars. Once complete, they kicked off new content for Alpha 4.0. They also began the look-dev stage on a new cave archetype.

Locations

May saw the Landing Zone team fixing bugs for instanced hangars before moving on to mandates for Alpha 4.0, including crafting the remaining stations for Pyro.

The Organics team continued iterating on new biomes.

Mission Design

Throughout May, Mission Design continued working on cargo missions, specifically polishing the ‘abandon’ flow. This is used when a player decides they no longer want to play the mission. For example, if they have already picked up a load, the contract will give them an allotted time to deliver it to a closer location and take less of a reputation hit. If the player doesn’t deliver the cargo in the allotted time, it will be marked as stolen.

Planning was also done for the mission-system refactor, which is required for Server Meshing. This will also bring the processes and pipelines used by the team up to date to ensure everything is aligned with the current standards.

Future content plans are underway, with some actively being built. Mission Design also aligned with Tech Design on their deliverables to see if more of their upcoming gameplay can be utilized.

Pyro-based repair missions are being actively designed. These involve replacing components, containing radiation, and power management via Charge and Drain.

Narrative

May kicked off with a flurry of activity for the Narrative team. As part of the scoping of responsibilities for Star Citizen 1.0, they looked into taking a larger role in the oversight and maintenance of the social AI in the universe. This includes reviewing and adjusting existing civilian behaviors so the personalities of the various locations and landing zones come through. The team is also prototyping new behavior types that will appear throughout some upcoming locations as well as previously established ones.

This led to initiatives to develop vertical slices of social spaces to test out a variety of larger-scale mechanics, such as day/night schedules, updates to the vendor/bartender behavior, and some mission providers in a contained space to make sure they’re providing the desired content before expanding.

As part of 1.0 development, further work was done on the location stories for the major landing zones, with team members working with Design to tailor the story to the gameplay. These missions will provide exciting opportunities for players to embark on adventures that embellish local storylines.

The team also continued to support upcoming patches by providing narrative content for some of the upcoming mission modules, providing additional in-fiction names and descriptions to items, and working with the Core Gameplay teams on future mechanics.

On the website, the Narrative team posted a Whitley’s Guide to the Hercules and a new batch of Galactapedia entries.

Online Technology

In May, the Online Services team focused on wrapping up the social-services backend refactor, which will improve the performance and scalability of social features, including Chat, Friends, and Groups. It will also allow the service to handle more concurrent users and requests and help the team to add new features more easily in the future.

The team also spent a significant amount of time helping to stabilize Alpha 3.23 by triaging issues and bug fixing, including 12 critical and 24 major bugs.

Additionally, they began working on potential Alpha 4.0 release features, such as the mission-system refactor, the marker-system refactor, and the player-trade feature in support of Server Meshing.

R&D

The R&D team’s support for Alpha 3.23 continued throughout May. For volumetric cloud rendering, stochastic Catmull-Rom texture filtering was implemented for the new half-res render mode upsampler. The number of ray marching steps now also scales with scene depth to improve performance in scenes with near-distance occluders (buildings, cockpit, terrain, etc.).

Moreover, progress continued on the temporal render mode. All confidence metrics and transmittance filtering received further tweaks and improvements. A first draft of the code was submitted for internal use.

Tech Design

Tech Design supported multiple areas of development for upcoming release patches, including resolving bugs related to creatures, interactables, cargo hangars and item banks, weapons, and performance issues.

Additionally, the team were involved in a variety of initiatives for gameplay-related systems, internal tools, and workflows. For example, they added the ability for mission designers to change AI-pilot skill levels depending on the mission, affecting their accuracy. They also outlined design requirements for the transit-system refactor and code syncing for the Design team.

Tech Design spent time setting up test levels, harvestables, and the spawning system for upcoming creatures, and began work on interaction improvements for kiosk screens. Work continued on a new location distribution tool, with May’s work involving designing the initial ruleset for location placements and improvements to workflow and aligning with other teams on the next steps.

Progress was also made on internal scripting tools, with the team syncing with coders on slow workflows to help the designers improve the user experience.

UI

The Montreal-based UI team worked on a variety of mandates in May, including tasks for cargo, ensuring all visual elements were polished and any bugs were thoroughly fixed. They also collaborated closely with the Core Gameplay pillar on the Resource Network and jump points.

Meanwhile, the UK team continued updating the heads-up displays (HUD) across multiple ships to improve their functionality and aesthetics.

VFX

Like other teams, the VFX team put the finishing touches on their work for the Alpha 3.23 patch, fixing last-minute bugs and polishing effects where safe to do so.

VFX also completed effects passes on several new vehicles, including for thrusters and damage. Work also began on jump point effects. These have existed as prototypes for a while, but the team focused on getting the effects fully functional, working closely with the VFX programmers and the Feature team.

Web Platform

The Web Platform teams concentrated on preparing for the anticipated traffic surges during Invictus Launch Week. To support Alpha 3.23 and ILW, they established a special support process to ensure prompt incident response. The System Services team also planned and tested the platform’s automated scaling schedule to handle the expected traffic waves effectively.

“This Invictus marked the first major traffic event since we transitioned our infrastructure to Kubernetes, and it was a great success. It provided an excellent opportunity to enhance our platform’s observability and alerting systems. Despite hitting record traffic levels during the event, we experienced no performance issues.” Web Platform Team

May saw the Launcher team focusing on version 2.0.1. This is currently in development and will be released in the coming weeks. The team have been working hard to address issues with authentication, error handling, and other bugs that were reported in Launcher 2.0.0. These improvements will result in a more stable and reliable experience for users.

Some of the key elements of the next version are improved error handling and a more intuitive UI with better performance. Issues involving expired sessions and 3001 and 2000 errors were fixed too. Workarounds and troubleshooting guides were also added to the RSI Knowledge Base.

 

Parašykite komentarą

Ar esate pasirengę pradėti Star Citizen kelionę?