This post is a transcript of 10 for the Chairman: Episode 77, material that is the intellectual property of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) and it’s subsidiaries. INN is a Star Citizen fansite and is not officially affiliated with CIG, but we reprint their materials with permission as a service to the community. INN edits our transcripts for the purpose of making the various show participants easier to understand in writing. Enjoy!
10 for the Chairman: Episode 77 – Full Transcript
Chris Roberts (CR): Hello everyone, welcome to another episode of 10 for the Chairman. For those of you who have not seen 10 for the Chairman, this is where I take 10 questions from subscribers. Subscribers are the subset of our community that contribute money every month to allow us to do all this additional community content.
Things like the Jump Point magazine that we do every month which is somewhere between 40 and 70 pages and has behind the scenes like articles on how we built ships or designs that we’re doing or lore in the universe; as well as some fiction and course things like Around the ‘Verse, Bug Smashers, other things like Ship Shape and all the various video stuff and of course this program so thank you very much to the subscribers to allowing us to do all the community content which I think really makes a big difference in Star Citizen because we get to update you guys all the time and so therefore I kind of have fun and an opportunity to answer questions from you guys in general.
So brief update from me, I’ve just came back to LA from being over in the UK and I think you guys had seen me and there was a BBC, “Click” show that had come and visited us in LA and also in the UK and when I was over in the UK that was where they were interviewing me. Now I’m back in sort of very sunny LA which is quite nice, but only here for two weeks and then I’m going to go back and that’s pretty much my schedule this year as were cranking out both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen itself.
It’s being in all the studios so I spend two weeks in the US, two weeks in the UK, and a week in germany and it’s actually quite, it’s a lot of fun sitting around and working with the various times, driving through everything which we’re trying to get done. So the only thing I have to do so forgive me if I look slightly tired cause right now is the witching hour for jet lag for me and of course we’re recording this before the Monday when you’ll see this, so I’m still on the backend of the jet lag, but there you go, but I’m quite happy to be back in nice sunny LA before I go back to rainy Manchester. Anyway, alright let’s get started.
The first question is from SP3CTREnyc. I think it’s kind of meant to be Spectrenyc with a backwards E …
[2:28] SP3CTREnyc asks: What type of work is being done to increase the server population capacity? Should we expect to see 24 or 32 player instances in the near future?
CR: The answer to that is absolutely and I think if you’ve been watching some of the chatter on the recent PTU and releases and what’s going to be in 2.2 it is going to be 24 players. So we’ve been working hard on optimising the areas so we can scale I think I mentioned before, the biggest issue we have is just the overhead that the ships have because they’re very complicated they have multiple items that have all this functionality, they need to talk to each other over the network, they’re attached to ships. So a ship isn’t just one entity, in the case of a Hornet it can be fifty or sixty in the case of a bigger ship it’s a lot more than fifty or sixty
So they’re very heavy processing wise in the server in terms of just simulation and network traffic. So in general that’s more of the limiting factor which we’ve been working on. So we’re refactoring a lot of things to make it much more smart about when it has to update, and all the other things. And that ties into the work we’ve done in the past on this other system. We’ve been doing a whatever you want to call it; a network LOD and an update LOD that scopes depending on whether you can see things, how far away they are, whether they’re acting, whether it’s another player, whether it’s relevant to you.
So hopefully all that stuff, helps increase the load that we can do and we’re doing things, we’re pushing more and more into multiple cores and multi-threading to be able to do more physics processing at the same time as we’re doing more entity updates in the simulation. Part of the result of that is moving to more players in Crusader and we’ll continue and we’re expecting to continue to push that over time to get more and more.
We’re actually working on some backend server mesh tech that will allow us to mesh a lot more players, in essentially what would be kind of sort of the same instance. But that’s a little further along but I think it’s exciting so I think we’ll be able to deliver probably more players than we were originally thinking in concurrent areas. I think actually there’s a question later about that. We’ll talk about it then!
[5:06] Sage_Ailig asks: I am curious as to how tri-monitor support will be handled. Most games don’t support the full resolution of all three monitors. The picture is just stretched to the sides on the outer monitors. I would like to know if Star Citizen will render the picture for all three monitors without stretching to the sides, or will the game just stretch out like many others do?
No, I think right now you can set, say if you have three monitor set up, three 1080p screens, you can get 5760 across by 1080p across the three screens and you are essentially just going to have a greater field of view.
We haven’t focused on that stretched screen stuff for support so we’ve got some things that we need to work out. For instance, when you are wearing a helmet, how much of that is getting occluded by a helmet versus not being occluded by a helmet because one of the things I wanted to do on the design side was to give you a sense of wearing heavy armour or a helmet: you get extra protection, you move slower, drains your stamina more but also you don’t necessarily get as much visibility. I want a situation as you are playing the game that you will wear outfits appropriately for the situation like you do in the real world.
For instance if you didn’t have the restriction of visibility and bulkiness of an EVA suit when you are flying around, say in your Constellation, why wouldn’t you always be in the EVA suit? In a game? Because then “well what happens if we get attacked and there is depressurisation? Well then I’ll live!” But what we want you to do is say you go out and EVA and come back to your ship then you take your EVA suit and put it in the locker and take the helmet off because now you get a much wider field of view and you’re not wearing a bulky EVA suit so can sit down in the pilot’s seat and control things and do stuff like that.
We’re very much thinking about that tactile experience to create your behavior that’s appropriate. Then of course if you are getting attacked and there’s a hull breach then you better rush and get your EVA suit on quickly before there’s full decompression because if you’re not wearing a suit and it decompresses then obviously that’s not good for you.
So in regards to that, on the multi-monitor setup, in terms or having the helmets we’re just trying to think how much would it encroach. But actually, again that would be a good illustration of why you would encourage people to maybe take their helmet off. Because if you took the helmet off you would get that full three monitor surround and you get it, obviously, in the chase view and all that and in the chase views but if you had a heavy helmet on maybe, part of those monitors are obscured by that. Maybe not as much as they are now but that would be idea.
So that is the goal. We may so some additional support in the multi-monitor view for you to have specific fields of view set up for that. I don’t know if any of you remember the AMD demo we did, quite a few years ago, when they were announcing the last round of new chip technology, that was when we were first signing our partnership with them, and we actually showed the game in 5760 by 1080 and we changed around the view ratio in such a way to actually handle that format properly and not have it have that ‘fisheye’ stretched effect. And it was quite cool and we may do a bit more of that but that’s a little further down on in terms of our priority list because there’s a lot of other things that we’re doing graphically and tweaking for before then.
[8:34] HyperToxic asks: Are there any short term plans on integrating our hangar and planet side module with the mini-PU (Universe/Crusader) module?
Absolutely so that is the goal! So the goal is that Crusader which we’re calling the mini PU and that really is the little baby PU and it’s going to be growing up in front of your very eyes and we’ll be adding to it. So we’re just going to be folding in everything to that. Which will be the hangar, which will be the landing areas.
So as soon as we have the planetary transition; the procedural planet stuff that we’ve shown, in a state that we’re sharing with everyone out there, which isn’t going to be that far away, it’ll be sooner than you guys think then you won’t have any of this loading in separately to ArcCorp. So you’ll just go to the planet, and then you’ll fly down, and get landing permission, and land in the landing area, get out and move around, interact with people, buy things, and get missions, and get back in your ship and fly back.
So that is the goal and that is what we’re trying to do. So the process is like you’ve already seen, well you haven’t necessarily but in the PTU people have seen that we’ve rescaled Crusader and this is true on 2.2 but essentially that’s going to start changing and that will be Stanton system over the next few releases that we’re doing. So we’ll build out ot be Stanton and then we’ll be going between the different areas and planets on Stanton, the space stations, and then ultimately when all that’s working and we’ve got various missions and a lot of the echo system working and we open up and have jump points and then we’ll move into some other systems.
So that’s the process, you’re going to see the Star Citizen Persistent Universe grow in front of your eyes and I think the actual level of fidelity and detail which you can see as you move around even in a very compressed area like Crusader without that many things to do. So just means even though we don’t have hundreds or billions of star systems there’s still lots to do and lots of detail and lots of texture and that’s kind of our focus is to make this feel like an incredibly, cool and alive and emergent world, that you can play a trader in some ways people can make a whole living, a whole life staying inside one star system.
So there you are, that’s the plans on that.
[10:55] Shaidon Daimos asks: About the 12 month subscriber perk – “Your name in the game!” Will we be able to submit our real life name if we want to? Or are you just going to take our Star Citizen names?
No, you can submit whatever name you want. The only reason why a lot of the times we have a handle is because it’s ok to do a handle because you guys have basically said, yup that’s your game name. So, that’s fine and some people like their privacy but it’s up to you so if you want your real name we’ll put your real name in, if you want your handle we put your handle in.
[11:26] Wolf_Frakken asks: Will flight decks and Wing Commander style carriers be the only form of carriers we’ll see in Star Citizen? Or will we see the drop bay approach you used in Starlancer? Or another idea?
CR: Well I think in general, I mean obviously Wing Commander style is sort of influenced by the classic WWII and modern day style and the Bengal, obviously saw back in the 2012 video we did and will be in Squadron 42 is very much along those lines and in some ways the Idris is like a small, I know we call it a frigate, but really it’s kind of a small escort carrier or something like that, or a scout carrier. It has a very similar flight deck where it’s sort of encased but can open up and you can fly in and out of it.
We will have some other ships that will be more like sort of helipad style. So if you think about say some modern day ships, they have a helipad or a hangar for a helicopter and stuff like that. There’ll definitely be some sort of drop down where bays open up and you drop down on some ships and ships can land and be inside it and of course you have some sort of parasite style ships which the Constellation is a good example, where there’s a Merlin that’s docked in the back that you can get in and fly around. So we’ll have various different styles, I think for instance the Vanduul carrier has a different sort of launching and sort of loading mechanism for the ships it’s not quite the same for the human ones which makes sense because they’re alien. So there’ll be variety and we’ll increase that as time goes on, so there you go!
Alright, next question comes from …
[13:09] Coryphaeus asks: Howdy, got a question about the procedural tech; how far is it going to go with the planets? We know about rocks and grass, but what about life forms and plant life? Basically I’m asking about the blending of artist created content and procedural content, what’s the mix like?
Our plan is to have all levels of planet from sort of the basic sort of rocky, barren planet which we sort of showed a little bit of when we showed the tech at the end of last year, and by the way that’s moved on pretty significantly from where it was when we showed you last year, so that’s looking a lot, lot better. But, ultimately, to take it to the level where you get a Crysis level, which includes things like obviously the grass, which you mention the rocks, the vegetation, trees, plants, water, oceans, streams, wildlife, alien wildlife, birds in the sky, all that sort of stuff. Ultimately, our goal will be to create ecosystems and some certain level of weather and stuff like that on these planets.
So that’s sort of our roadmap and what our goal is to use the procedural tools to sort of generate massive play areas cause an artist can’t do that by hand, but it’s very much sort of Artist overseen and Designer overseen. So we don’t just have a formula and it just creates stuff and that’s all it is. It’s using those tools to create these areas, and then the Designers and Artists are influencing it by looking at areas and tweaking it, essentially doing a little guide, hints to the procedural system of what they want to see in this area. They want this to be sort of a plain, or is this mountainous, or is this going to be a desert, or all these kinds of things.
We’ll also try to have some ecosystems with some of the wildlife, and allow us to place down a lot of emergent gameplay that isn’t necessarily around like landing areas, cause landing areas are very cool, and we build those and we’ll build a lot of those out of pre-fab sets so we can build some fairly quickly, and some of it will be pretty bespoke because yeah, Earth is going to be Earth, and Terra is going to be Terra. But it’s a big universe and we’ve got a lot of stuff to populate.
So, we also need areas where you can land, and for instance, maybe you are going around as a miner looking for minerals, or all these things that once we have a procedural world, we can open up where you go down and look for natural resources. Those can be generated procedurally, and then players can go down and mine. We can also create all sorts of missions down on planets, like for instance a supply mission; there’s like scientific outposts that we just sort of have this couple different sort of temporary science outposts or installations and the mission is to take supplies to them, but you can’t land your ship nearby where the outpost is, so you have to land it at the closest available area and then load up the supplies into your buggy or whatever vehicle you have, and drive it up to them and deliver it to get payment.
Maybe there’s a downed ship that you have to rescue off a planet, and we can have farmers or settlers. So there’s a lot of kind of fun sort of almost mission based immersion stuff that we can have so it’s not just about spawning stuff out in space, there could be stuff that spawns down on planet’s surfaces that cause destinations for you to do stuff. So that’s very much like what Tony, and I, and Todd Pappy have been talking about in terms of like the mission, sort of the bigger mission immersion setup that we’re going to do in the procedural universe. It will be very cool and it will be done to the fidelity that we sort of achieve to, and you’ll see, which is very tactile, very there, seeing it actually happen.
I think that’s the strength of Star Citizen is that instead of it being very big picture, very pulled back, it’s there looking at you. Like you’re in your ship and you can see the seat and the controls, and you get up, and you can go get in a bed or get in a shower, or go to the toilet, or sit down at the dining table, and everything’s there. You can touch and use it so it feels real. We want that level of interaction with fidelity throughout the whole game. So we won’t be able to do four hundred billion star systems like that, but we’ll certainly be able to do quite a few using procedural tools. I think it will feel really rich, and really dense, and really cool. You have the tools in such a way that the players actions are generating interest and action for other players or other NPCs. I think it will be a really, really, pretty cool experience. So yeah, I’m very excited. I just wish these things were happening quicker!
[17:50] Killarious Maximillion asks: You stated that all parts of the universe will be instanced with max amount of players being inside of an instance and many instances of that same space can be generated at the same time. How will that work so people and their friends always get into the same instance to work as a team?
Right so I touched a little bit of the top of this Ten for the Chairman talking about the fact we are working on getting more and more people into an individual instance or really what it’s more about is getting more people into an individual game server.
So right now if you play in Crusader on 2.2 they’ll be twenty-four players that could be in that now that’s one game server instance. We actually have that, there’s eight of those I believe, yep, the thirty-two core server we’re running on and we have eight game server instances on that one thirty core server each using four cores. Now the real goal would be not to have eight on that, it would be rather to have one game server on that one thirty-two core machine. So then if we have eight people now and you add eight times twenty four, you’re getting a much larger number of people around me almost at two hundred people at that point and that would be on one server. That’s without us doing more and more optimizations, so that’s what we’re moving towards.
Then on the client side, even though the server could maybe deal with more entities because it doesn’t have to render, it doesn’t have to move all the memory around from it. It just has deal with the background simulation and updating stuff. The clients may not be able to but then the clients would make sure what’s around you, what you can see is what it’s drawing and updating and being told from by the server. Then on top of that we’re planning to have seamless server transitions and basically mesh the servers together. So instead of ‘I’m in Stanton System and I’m on one server or I’m on a second server or a third server in Stanton System’.
That’s not the way Stanton’s going to work. It’s going to be very dynamic and we’ll actually have, say you start with one server and people fly around it can be anywhere in Stanton just like what you can do right now in Crusader, but then as you go beyond the cap say, just for simplicity’s sake, say we can run fifty people on a server right?
So thirty people, forty people they’re all running around Stanton doing their stuff no problem, AI’s are doing their stuff. But now a whole new bunch of people come in and we move from thirty people to sixty people. Well ok that’s more than we can fit on one server so at that point we will always have one probably server ticking over ready and you keep one as a buffer. So we’ll say “Ok we’ve got more than we can fit on one server”. So we migrate players to whichever server is appropriate and we just arbitrarily go “Ok well there’s a clump of players over here so this server will take care of them. There’s a clump over here and this server will take care of them”. Both these servers have full global view of the whole star system, these servers also talk to each other as well as the clients.
The server essentially responsible for say simulating the entities that its authoritative of. But it will also tell the other server if the other server needs to know what the entity that this server did with. So basically that’s what edge case is. So it’s like ‘ok i’m updating these people but there’s one guy over here that’s coming towards you and you’ve got a guy over here’. So this server’s saying “Oh this is where this guy is”. So this server knows and has a copy of him in his memory space and vice versa so you can just basically resolve overlaps between server control areas. So that’s kind of the aim. The idea is as more and more people come in you spin up more and more servers and they all mesh together so you can ultimately have hundreds if not thousands of people essentially all in the same instance.
Then your real limitation is more about the client and what the client can render and see on its side. That’s kind of the plan which is a more dynamic and actually a more advanced than I think ultimately better solution than what we talked before which was much more instance on top of each other and you can only ever see thirty other people or fifty other people or whatever it would be. I think that it’s going to be good, so that’s what we’re working towards. There will probably be some cases where there will just be too many people. I can see in a landing area where there’s maybe a thousand people hanging around the landing area. We just won’t be able to have a thousand people. A hundred people will get together or five hundred say “Let’s go to the courtyard”. Well on a client you just can’t render five hundred people. It just won’t happen. So what we’ll probably do besides having aggressive LOD’s at some point, you just cull out people beyond a certain area. But they’ll all be tagged and known there as you move around as client people will come in and out of your visibility basically. Your sphere of visibility. I think it will seem pretty seamless.
On top of that getting down to your friends which is one of the key parts of this question. We will know who are your acquaintances, who you’ve tagged as your person of interest, who you play, who is on your friends list, stuff like that. So if you’re making decisions of who you can see, at some point if there’s too many people in the client will think “I just can’t render this many people I have to choose some entities or people to not see”. It would not be the people you as a player have tagged as your friends or that you’re interested in. So they would get preference in terms of the algorithm that determines who you see or who is culled out and who isn’t culled out. I think it’s going to be pretty cool.
So you should be able to hang out and work with your friends. I think the only issues we’re going to get, which will happen ‘cause we have some pretty massive organization, there is no way we can possibly have one of those massive thousand people in a space battle setups. But I do think we will probably able to get like quite a few hundred people doing that which will be pretty cool. But I’m sure you guys will figure out ways to break it but you know that’s what it is. I think it will be a pretty cool experience.
I am actually pretty excited by the tech that we’re working for this, it’s not going to happen overnight, it’s going to take a lot of time because we’re building something that’s really, we’re right on the cutting edge of this kind of stuff, there’s a few other projects that are doing similar stuff, using the cloud architecture to dynamically scale and process much more on bigger denser worlds that you could do on a single server or single client which is what we’re doing, but I think it’s the future and I think it’s going to be pretty cool.
[24:49] KuruptU4Fun 1 asks: In the new Jump Point there is mention of an update that will bring the ability to lower your wanted level by hacking a console. There will also be a need to defend it while that hack completes. What portions of FPS will need to be finalized and implemented for that update?
Well nothing really: that’s all in 2.2.
So what we’re doing, I think I’ve mentioned this quite a few times, is on the FPS side we have a whole bunch of features and weapons that we’re just methodically going through and enabling. A lot of it is content related: so getting the animations polished before we feel like they are ready for everyone to see or use, and the same on the assets. And some of it is making some of the mechanics work or move a little better. So we’ve got things vaulting, like going vaulting over obstacles and stuff, that isn’t going to be in 2.2 but it will be in 2.3 for instance.
And so what we’ve been doing is knocking off the cover mechanic; things like prone or crouching; and various things in 2.2. We have physicalized EVA which is actually really cool, you get a real sense of inertia; you have to be a bit wary in tight areas because we’re actually properly simulating so it is like flying around a spaceship in a tight area: you don’t really want to bang up against things because it will give you a bit of an impulse. But when you get it down I think it cooler and more exhilarating and we’ll be adding more and more things that will make that cooler.
So that’s just our plan: we’re continually adding more and more functionality to FPS. Our goal is the FPS is going to be very comparative to to other FPS’s out there that have a whole bunch of cool detail and accuracy. So we’re not really aiming to be a simplified ‘run and gun’ shooter we’re actually aiming to be much more tactical and considered, and have that reflect in a lot of the FPS mechanics. So there will be a lot of options and things you can do, and stances, and actions, and ultimately it will have the ability to do parkour with sliding and vaulting over stuff and ledge grabbing and all of the rest of the stuff.
So that’s all on the roadmap. We’ve captured animations for all of it. We’re slowly churning through the thousands of animations and hooking it up and making sure the animation blending works and all the various things you have to worry about to make it work well. But I’m pretty confident that when it’s all said and done it will be actually pretty damn cool.
[27:29] NARCoMAN asks: Since Corvettes fill a role between capital and sub-capital ships, should we expect the upcoming ship or other Corvettes to be more versatile or more economical?
So, you definitely should expect it to be more economical. I don’t know if it’s more versatile cause to be honest with you the Idris, for the money it packs a punch. It’s a mini carrier plus it can go toe to toe with other capital ships, like has massive living quarters and everything like that. We’re sorta planning that the proper Corvette we do will be about 100 meters or so and it’ll be more focused on… let’s put it this way, it’s not going to be a massive carrier. Obviously you’ll be able to dock a ship and do all the rest of the stuff and certainly can hold it’s own fighting some fighters and bigger ships and quite a few of them would cause of problem for a bigger ship like a frigate or a destroyer and all that stuff.
It should also be easier to control and command cause the Idris is just huge, I mean I think you’ve seen some of the stuff we’ve shown for it and it’s just massive. It’s probably not going to be a viable ship for one person to or even one person and a few of his friends to sort of command. The Idris is going to require quite a few players to man it in unison, which I think will be really satisfying once all that happens and definitely some NPCs helping you out. So, the Corvette I think will be just more manageable.
[29:07] Syntax asks: What is the end vision for planetary ship entry? I would love to see a requirement for a crew to analyze various aspects such as atmospheric pressure, composition, etc, that facilitates an active participation from the crew to determine the best mode of entry.
Well, we haven’t actually fleshed this out. We do have plans for sort of atmospheric entry and atmospheric flight, we all kind of want to do… if you seen Prometheus, the sort of Prometheus entry down onto the planet or if you go back to Aliens they had a very cool… well, the effects aren’t as nice as in Prometheus but going through the storm and you know the clouds and the turbulence. So, we definitely want that depending on the kind of planet, potentially a planet you could go down and find minerals and strip and gather resources that you could sell for a lot of money. It should perhaps be quite dangerous to get down there and maybe you have to figure out how to get down there without getting caught up in huge storms or the rest of the stuff.
So, we want to make that part of the future, we’ve been discussing it and obviously John Pritchett our flight guru so we’ve already been going back and forth on some of that. Of course, we have quite a few other things to do but we are planning sort of clouds on planets and weather systems and all the rest of the stuff so we’ll definitely ultimately have that and I think it will be a pretty cool experience. It won’t be any time in the near future but it’s definitely something we are planning and I don’t know if you necessarily go to a fullfull-lengthentific analysis but there will be certain kinds of planets that will be more dangerous to enter and will require some skill to enter but I think there will be rewards if you get down there. Maybe some of you won’t be able to scan from a distance without getting through the cloud layer or something like that. So, there you go.
All right, so that’s the end of this 10 for the Chairman, thank you for sitting here and listening to me. Thank you everybody out there that has backed Star Citizen, I’m constantly amazed that we’ve got this amazing community and this year is going to be great. Really quite excited because we finally got the team in sort of at a critical mass point where we have enough people where we can be fully cranking on all the aspects at the same time and really delivering a lot of content which is quite different than last year where we sort of weren’t able to consistently deliver content. So, this year we’re going to be making really consistent updates and progress on the big Persistent Universe and obviously we’re doing the same on Squadron 42.
It’s all because of you guys, you guys are supporting us and enabling us to build a game no publisher would ever build in their right mind and I think we’re building a game that the PC crowd around the world and space sim fans around the world can look at and go, ‘wow, this is incredible’.’ We’re super proud so thank you and thank you to subscribers for kicking in the extra money to sort of fund our ability to do this additional content for everyone to keep people informed and I will talk to you next week, thanks. Bye.