This post is a transcript of Around the ‘Verse: Episode 2.17, material that is the intellectual property of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) and it’s subsidiaries. INN is a Star Citizen fan site 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!
Around the ‘Verse: Episode 2.17 – Summary
- PAX South has a Free Fly along with it, still in effect too. First opportunity to check out Crusader for free.
- Less than two weeks now till Star Citizen and Squadron 42 split, and will no longer be bundled for $45.
- New landing page for Subscriptions (Subscriptions pay for 10 for the Chairman, Bug Smashers, commlinks, etc…)
News From Around The Verse
- Redoing the stats of the 325A (Stats overhaul, not a rebuild on the ship.)
- Gathering a lot of feedback from forums, especially the shipyard section. Will expand those sections to cover every ship eventually.
- Work going into new thruster particle effects for boost and afterburner.
- Dave Haddock has done a fiction pass on Levski, to add character to the zone.
- BeHaviour team are putting things from the Fiction pass into action.
- Doing a lighting pass on the Nyx shops.
- David Peng, an animator, is working on animations captured for Astro Armada.
- The Ops team have created a new team called the Inclusion Mapper, to help keep things secret for SQ42.
Foundry 42 UK
- Chris is over in the UK right now, checking on progress and signing off on things. Lots of SQ42 review.
- Work has gone into player manned turrets on cap ships for a level.
- They had the Idris flying in a basic form. It still needs a lot of work, but still needs a lot of work to get it functioning properly.
- Audio issue from the last patch seems to be fixed
- upcoming patches should address griefing and player hostility.
Foundry 42 Frankfurt
- Three new hires this week – Junior AI programmer, weapons artist, and senior games programmer.
- AI and Design are working more on the roadmap for the year, sorting out dependencies.
- Work’s going on with prototyping the piping system, and on other careers.
- Finalizing FPS metrics, getting concepts going for special guns and munitions.
- Working on an improved rail system for all weapons, to help with attachments.
- Working more on optimizing the engine and addressing bugs.
- *Work continues on the physicalized EVA collision detection.
- R&D continues on procedural tech as well. Tech is working with Art to figure out LOD’s, art styles, etc… making good progress.
- Cinematics have done some previs for scenes for SQ42.
ATV Interview with Luke Pressley
- Luke is lead designer of SC Live
- Luke deals with AC, the Tutorial, the Crusader map, and where it all expands to in the future.
- The PU, Crusader, the Protoverse, etc… that’s Star Citizen.
- Crusader is the size of Jupiter.
- Part of Crusader was figuring out how big and good looking they could make things with the editor. Right now looking at scales in the billions of meters, because of the 64-bit conversion.
- Crusader is very much a test-bed. There will be changes to the layout of the whole area.
- They’ll be going around the planet rather than just the cone there is now, need to decide on scale; what distances are fun to fly, etc…
- They know that Yelah is too small an asteroid to be round, but Crusader’s a testbed, and they don’t have the asteroid tech in place yet.
- Asteroids will stream in as you get to them, and there are internal demos of the tech already, with the asteroids being destructible, but that tech won’t be included soon™ .
- Voxel-based destruction will be necessary for mining.
- Cargo is being looked at for inclusion into Crusader soon. As is Racing.
- Big Benny’s Vending Machine in hangar will happen soon™ .
ATV Ship Shape: LODS
- Patrick is a Technical Artist, who’s been working on LOD’s for ships.
- LOD is a level of detail; the model of an object changes the further away from the camera. Start out with a multi-million Poly model, and get it down to a few thousand when it’s far away.
- Essentially you create multiple copies of the same ship with less and less detail that swap out at certain distances
- There are currently 5 LOD’s per ship.
- Optimizing comes from making sure every part has LOD’s and is done properly because having something at 100% when it’s far away can add up and take away performance.
- What’s interesting about the ships is they are made up of hundreds if not thousands of tiny parts which load up simultaneously and finding the sweet spot so you don’t notice pop in.
- STLYoungblood is MVP, for his SC videos.
Full Transcript In progress
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Hey everybody, welcome back to Around the ‘Verse. I’m Sandi Gardiner
Ben Lesnick (BL): I’m Ben Lesnick
SG: This week in the ATV interview Jared sat down with Lead Designer for Star Citizen live, Luke Pressley to discuss the future of Crusader.
BL: And Tech Artist Patrick Salerno shows us how we optimize the game with LODS. In this week’s Ship Shape
SG: But first! Pax South was last weekend and our Flee Fly, Flee fly.
BL: [Sings] Flee fly, Flee Fly, I don’t know where I’m going with this.
SG: But first Pax South was last weekend and our Free Fly promotion is still in effect.
BL: This is the very first opportunity we’ve given folks to check out Crusader essentially for free. Download the game, log in, check out what we’re making and I think you’ll be impressed, I’m impressed.
SG: And there are just two weeks for Star Citizen and Squadron 42 to be sold together in a bundle for $45
BL: Which ties up nicely with the Free Fly because that’s what we intended. We wanted to give people a chance to play before they buy, before we changed the prices.
SG: That was ben adding colour! And then you’re going to Ben this up! We also added a new landing page for potential subscribers detailing all the perks of our subscription program
BL: Subscription program is what allows us to do community outreach like this show, 10 for the Chairman, 10 for others, Bug Smashers and all the other Commlink content we put out, but you don’t have to take our word for it, listen to us.
SG: And after one year subscription time you get a special decal for your ship, your name somewhere in the game Star Citizen and a 10% coupon for digital merchandise.
Now let’s check in with our studios from around the world for this weeks News From Around The Verse
News From Around The Verse
Darian Vorlick (DV): Hey everyone welcome back to sunny southern California with Cloud Imperium Games Los Angeles weekly update. I’m Darian Vorlick and this week we have our QA Lead …
Vincent Sinatra (VS): Vincent Sinatra.
DV: So this is this week’s news. Starting with the Design team we’ve got Calix Reneau who’s been working diligently on refactoring and redoing the 325 ship something that’s been long overdue an overhaul.[Disco says: It’s a stats overhaul, not rebuilding the ship]
DV: But more importantly we wanted to share some QA updates, and it’s not something we get to share with you guys very often.
VS: So recently we’ve been gathering a lot of feedback from the forums, the shipyard section, got a lot of good feedback on the Connie, the Aurora, the 300s, the Gladiator and Gladius. Hoping to break it off into every ship eventually. And we’ve also be focusing a lot on the new thruster particle effects that are going to be for boost and afterburner, making sure those are working alright and hopefully get that in the game pretty soon.
DV: There you go guys. Giving you a view of what we’ve been working on this week and hopefully we’ll have some new updates for you next week. Thanks a lot.
Jake Ross (JR): Hey guys, Jake Ross, Associate Producer of the Persistent Universe, and I’m here with you this week to talk a little bit about what’s going on here in Austin.
First I wanted to give a shout out to fans that came by last week. Thanks again guys for everything you did for us: the barbeque was great, we had some good times, go some cool swag [holds up shirt] so, yeah, thanks for that. And you know it’s always really cool to see you guys come out here and it really helps us get some perspective on what we’re doing and what we’re trying to accomplish and get to see the fruits of that. So thanks again.
On to the update. So this week we had a fiction pass done on the Levski landing zone. Meaning that Senior Writer David Haddock went through the level and he called out specific things in the level as it currently stands that could help enhance the fiction a little bit: signs here and there, posters and “it would be cool if we had a statue of this famous person in the ‘verse over here”. All sorts of cool stuff that only Haddock can provide because he’s the fiction guy you know! It’s always nice to get the writing team to look at our stuff and make sure it fits as well as it can within the ‘verse. So now we have our art team at BeHaviour taking that on and making sure we adhere to all that stuff that he called out. So we’re excited to see that.
We’re also getting a lighting pass on the Nyx shops, the shops we’ll find on Levski. I mentioned that a little bit last week I think. But we’ve got that back from Art and now we’re doing a lighting pass on those guys. So pretty soon we’ll have our lighting pass done on that environment; that’s pretty exciting. It’s looking very beautiful.
We also have one of our animators, David Peng, moving on to what we’re calling the “show room scene” animations which is basically some mo-cap that we captured with Astro Armada in mind. All the animations you might find in NPCs doing in a space ship showroom. Try saying that five times fast! Space ship showroom. So it’s like people showing of the cars, so we have businessmen and women trying to sell people things, salespeople. We’ve got people pointing at video monitor, looking at commercials and things. We have people serving champagne. All sorts of stuff you wouldn’t think of in a scene like that. So we’ve got an animator moving onto that and working on that now, now that he’s finished up with the nightclub scene.
Last thing I’ll mention is on the Operations side. Don’t forget we do a lot of Operations reports on here but I want to give a shout out to those guys. They’ve just finished up a tool or are finishing up a tool called the Inclusion Mapper. So for every build that we put out to the public we always exclude some assets in the build that we don’t yet want you guys to be able to see. Stuff for Squadron 42 that we need to keep secret just for the story’s sake to make sure we don’t spoil the story and things like that. We have been doing it in a really roundabout way that’s been kind of tedious so we have this new GUI and tool called the Inclusion Mapper that makes it really easy for Production and Leads to go in and actually pick out the things that they don’t want in the latest build. So that’s a really cool new tool from the Operations guys and I want to give a shout out to them.
That’s all I’ve got for you this week guys. Thanks, I’ll see you around.
Foundry 42 UK
Tom Johnston (TJ): Hello, welcome to the UK. So what can I tell you guys that’s going on over here? Well importantly we’ve got the CEO over here and he’s in lots of meetings discussing with the team what needs to be done.
We’ve got some Squadron 42 level reviews, checking off the gates; reviewing the sign-off processes for the production pipeline we’ve set out; and putting the feedback out and reviewing what blockers we have for each level. With one of the levels we were coming up on a blocker with getting the turrets working, the player manned turrets within the capital ships: the functionality and setup is a lot different to actually sitting in the cockpit. So that was a really important step for us. There’s some other issues to get ironed out: getting the UI up to speed and the sensitivity of how it feels but potentially Design can now go ahead and shoot some pirates and plough ahead.
Other important capital ship news, we did actually have the Idris flying in a very basic form. The vehicle set up for each ship is very complicated and especially when there’s interior physics grids. So there’s still a long way to go and I think it might even have broke since we first got it flying because obviously a lot of “knock ons” and very complicated systems … well the systems are simple but as a whole to get that thing functioning with the really dynamic and intuitive physics systems that CR’s designed in the overall direction of the game clearly hyper, hyper real systems that we’ve got like the IFCS and capital ships similarly have a really in-depth design system to how they all operate which states of emergency and that kind of thing. So, yeah, that was a really good moment in development.
And the Live team, I believe now the audio corruption issue in the latest patch doesn’t seem like you guys are getting that any more so that’s really good news. And we are looking forward to the next few patches and hopefully addressing griefing and player hostility in the not too distant future.
That’s it for this week for the UK. Thank you for joining us and I’ll see you in the ‘verse.
Foundry 42 Frankfurt
Brian Chambers (BC): Hey everyone Brian Chambers from Frankfurt. This week the team grew by three people: we got a junior AI programmer who started, a weapons artist, and a senior games programmer. Always good to see the team growing and good to have those people on board.
For AI the guys covered a lot. Keep working on the roadmap. Did some behaviour tree tweaks which allow multiple people to work on it, ones for both ships and characters, so it will make things more efficient. Working on, obviously always addressing, bugs that come up that hit current players and stuff that we can squash to make a better experience for you guys.
Design: roadmap work. Again trying to sort out all the stuff that we’re going to be doing through the year: look at dependencies and the order and so on. They are working in conjunction with AI: Design does a lot in testing out improvements in the AI code that they recently checked in. Prototyping the piping system. We had one of the guys in here a couple of weeks ago I think talking about that. They’re continuing to push on that. They are also working on other careers.
Weapon Art: they worked in finalising the FPS metrics. So basically have those all broken down now on what makes sense. Got concepts working on a very specialised gun which I can’t go into right now and also concepts for specialised munitions as well. They don’t go in conjunction with that weapon but they are two separate but those are pretty cool. Also working on improved rail system for all weaponry and these improvements will actually help with the attachments and so on down the road. So it’s basically creating a stronger foundation for us to move onto.
Engine: always optimising, always addressing bug, always trying to make things more usable and more stable. So it’s always a flux of how much time’s invested in that versus not. Did some work on the physicalised EVA controls and collision detection. So some of our programmers were working on that obviously and they did some playthroughs that showed a room full of people in EVA and how things were colliding. So we’re making some great progress there.
Also further R&D on the procedural tech. With that as you can imagine there’s a tremendous amount of variables and there’s a system that we need to put up in place on the artwork and how the artwork is generated and the different LODs and different style and types and how things are combined into different grids. So there’s a constant push on that with Tech working with the Art team to determine what makes the most sense. A lot of trial and error but we’re making great progress. We’re seeing some really cool stuff there.
Cinematics team done some previs on some scenes that you guys won’t see for a while but those are looking cool [grins]. Also working with Tech, as you can imagine on cinematics, there’s certain effects and certain functionality as far as things that are in the world there that, where they come from and how they were evolved, that there’s a certain look and feel to them so we’re working with Tech team on the shaders and how to pull all that together to get the specialised look that we’re looking for. And that’s with Hannes and Chris and the stakeholders for the cinematics. Also pushing on tool called Track View so we’re adding additional functionality to that as well again to make things more efficient and give more functionality.
So I’ve already gone longer than I needed to, or that I’m supposed to rather. Thanks again to all the backers and we’ll see you next week.
Back to studio
SG: As always, a big thank you to our studios from around the world.
BL: Next up Jared sat down with the Lead Designer for Star Citizen Live Luke Pressley tp, talk about stuff.
SG: To discuss the future of Crusader in this week’s ATV interview.
BL: Look at you reading lines like a professional.
SG: I know, I read all the lines and ben doesn’t read all the lines.
BL: I have to admit, I can’t read …
ATV Interview with Luke Pressley
Jared Huckaby: Thanks guys. On this week’s AtV interview we’re sitting down with Lead Designer of Star Citizen live: Mr. Luke Pressley. Luke how you doing man?
Luke Pressley: Nice to meet you.
JH: Alright. Now Lead Designer of Star Citizen live..
JH: It took quite a few takes to get that!
LP: Quite a mouthful yeah.
JH: Start off, tell us what Lead Designer of Star Citizen live means
LP: Ok. I can tell you what I own. I own Arena Commander, the tutorial, the Crusader map. So I own that and obviously where it expands to in the future.
JH: Alright. Now I didn’t realise you worked with the tutorial. My father is seventy years old, former military. He plays Star Citizen and the first day he started he called me about five minutes after he finished his tutorial and raved about Gilly! He goes “That’s just like how it is man. It’s just like how it is. I was like back in the service”. So you get props from my dad
LP: Thank you. That could have gone a different way. Recently i’ve been hearing lots of negative things about the tutorial.
JH: Like anything else it’s iterative. It’s almost the first version of it it’ll get better.
LP: I’ll tell you how tough it is. We’re building a tutorial for a game that is growing. Like trying to keep that thing, it could be a full time task.
JH: Absolutely. But we appreciate your efforts for it. So does my father specifically. Now you said you work on Arena Commander and Crusader and what not, and we know a lot of the focus lately is on Crusader.
JH: So let’s stick with Crusader. Tell us what went into creating Crusader. Obviously not the entire story. There’s a lot of names for it. We call it the Baby PU, we call it the what did you call it earlier?
LP: PU light
JH: PU light. Some people… On the game menu it’s called Universe. Some people just call it Crusader.
LP: I think Tony wanted to call it the Protoverse.
JH: The Protoverse? Yes he’s the one who flipped the Protoverse. Are we ever going to pick a name for it or are we just going to…
JH: It’s Star Citizen
LP: Yeah it is. It’s the start of the PU. I think we just call it that so we can, obviously it’s pre-alpha we can still get away with things, like I was telling you I think before. The scale. I’ve heard a lot of people ask what scale did we build this thing to. And the truth is we built it to whatever scale we needed at the time to prove certain things.
Crusader itself for instance is the size of Jupiter. We wanted to build something that big so we could see how good we could get these things looking. And technically how big we can get the editor to make objects. A lot of work had to go into that. Question is; where do we start? So we started with: What can we do? Because the editor is not set to be able to build
JH: No, no
LP: I worked on a previous game in the engine. A map of twelve kilometres by twelve kilometres was too big! So, I mean look at the scales we’ve got now we’re talking about a billion metres.
JH: Yeah we can do that because of the 64 bit conversion
JH: And a lot of changes were made…
LP: A lot of work! And we still need more. Builds, builds something to the scale of our solar system, even a tenth of our solar systems. We’re pushing up against the limits again. So there’s still plenty to do
JH: You mentioned scale. Crusader, for this, for the PU light is the size of Jupiter. That’s not necessarily the scale that it will be in the Persistent Universe of course. This is not the Persistent Universe this is the PU light, the Baby PU. It’s a test bed.
LP: Everyone needs to think of it like that because there are going to be changes coming sometime soon. We’re going to alter the layout of the whole thing
LP: So what you see in Crusader now will change. We’re going to be around the planet rather than kind of cone that we currently have now. And we’re trying to stick to a scale now but we need an agreement on what that scale is. We’re doing some testing now, seeing what is a fun distance to fly and you know
JH: Alright. Now along with Crusader there’s other celestial bodies in there like Yelah and what not. I know you were saying something earlier, we’ve heard it before where the scale of Yelah shouldn’t be round.
LP: It’s way too small to be round. But that is because…
JH: It’s a testbed
LP: It’s got the asteroids around it. We don’t have the asteroid technology yte that allows us to stream them. So what you see in there is 6000 asteroids always loaded, always on. We’ve found we can up that now so it will be getting bigger
JH: And then new asteroid tech will have LOD’s and stuff
LP: Yeah they won’t be there they will stream in as you get across to them So we should be able to do any size we want. So it’s just a tech thing
JH: I’ve seen some demos internally of the asteroids being destructible are we still pursuing that?
LP: The voxel based stuff?
LP: Yeah we are still pursuing but that’s that’s not going to be coming for a while
JH: It’s not tomorrow guys, but it’s definitely something we’re looking into. It’s an important aspect of game development. You have to try things before you just write them off. So it’s something we’re investigating. We don’t want to promise anything at this point.
LP: Voxel tech is definitely definitely needed to be able to mine and obviously, it gives the added bonus that you get to blow them up as well.
JH: That’s the fun part.
LP: Which is what I’m looking forward to more than mining. Sorry about that.
JH: Alright. So besides the scale changes and some reconfiguring to go full around the planet. What are some other features that, maybe we have in mind towards the future. I know we used Arena Commander as the test bed for so long to get us here.
Arena Commander has a couple modes. Vanduul Swarm, is kind of it’s in Crusader and a bit when you go to different Comm Links and you get attacked by AI and stuff. What about something like racing? How can something like racing be integrated into Crusader.
LP: Something that I had been thinking about recently that we’re going to try and get in..at some point
JH: It’s on the list
LP: It’s on the list. We have a universe so there are so many things on the list it’s choosing which to pick first. We’re looking at cargo, we’re looking at all these mechanics that aren’t just dog fighting. So racing would be up there for me.
Because we’ve got the asteroids thing around Yelah or we’ve got all these really cool asteroid fields that are out in space. Just having you race around that thing would be fantastic. I know people are already doing it, just giving them some way to actually measure that
JH: Measure it, legitimise it.
LP: Exactly. And creating a mission it’s quite a straightforward process. So I think we’ll be able to definitely get something in there. At the moment though what I was saying was where there’s an increase in size in Yelah, that increases the size of the asteroid fields and I don’t think anyone has got the stomach to do an entire lap of that thing. It takes ten minutes currently to fly all the way around Yelah even in cruise mode.
JH: Somebody will try it. There will be a Youtube video of it. People spend hours trying to get the Big Benny’s vending machine back into their cabins in which they spawned. Hours and with multiple people helping them to get it out over lifts and steps and stuff. If they’re willing to do that they’ll race through the asteroids when the time comes.
LP: I have to say that’s one of my proudest inclusions. I saw people pushing the boxes around and I thought that’s too easy. So I put the giant Big Benny’s in it.
I’ve been watching Twitch, all the guys playing the PTU which is fantastic. Just making up ways to, to make it harder for them basically. They were finding it too easy.
JH: There’s no telling what somebody’s going to gravitate, or going to grab on and Big Benny’s has captured the imagination of the citizenry.
We’ve got videos of people who have taken the theme song that plays from the files and converted it into ringtones for their phones and stuff like that. I wanted to float an idea by you while we were on that stuff. Big Benny’s vending machine as a Hangar Flair item for our hangars.
LP: Definitely. Yeah. You got the lights in there, you got the music on there. You’d make it a physics matter I’d hope
JH: So you can bump it around
LP: Yeah, you can still push it and maybe drive your buggy up and push it along. Deliver it around your hangar
JH: You heard it here first. This is Luke Pressley in charge of the Star Citizen live. We’re going ot make it happen and if it doesn’t we’ll post his email address on the internet.
JH: I’m kidding you about that last part. It’s going to happen though i’ll make it happen. Luke I think that about wraps this up. Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us. You’re all the way on the other side of the world for work so I appreciate taking a few moments for us. Again thanks for your time. Back to you guys.
Back to Studio
BL: Thanks guys, people love their vending machines.
SG: Thanks guys, people love their big benny’s vending machines
BL: Thank you, thank you for saying the whole thing
SG: Coming up next. Tech Artist Patrick Salerno takes us through the process of optimizing performance through LOD’s in this week’s ATV shipshape.
ATV Ship Shape: LODS
Jared Huckaby (JH): Thanks guys. On this week’s ATV Ship Shape we’re sitting down with Associate Technical Artist Mr. Patrick Salerno. Patrick, how are you doing man?
Patrick Salerno (PS): Hey, how are ya?
JH: Now Patrick has been working for several weeks if not months on LODS for our ships and i’ll come by his desk every once in awhile and be like “What are you working on?” And he’s like “More LODS man.” We realized we wanted to show what LODS were, how important they are to the game because they’re pretty important to the overall performance of making Star CItizen work.
JH: Start us off with the most basic, what is an LOD?
PS: Okay well to start, an LOD for those who don’t know, are a Level of Detail or Level of Display model. Basically what that means is kinda in the simplest terms it can be a little more complicated, but basically the model changes as you get farther away from the camera. So you start out with a multi million Poly model and then by the time it’s a few pixels big it should be maybe a few thousand polys with maybe a couple materials versus 20 something materials because the ship’s get fairly complicated.
When you’re looking at a ship up close it’s full detail, it might be a million polys, somewhere around there you got all these moving parts, but as you get farther away you obviously want to play with other people. So their huge moving ships with lots of parts come in and we have a very complicated sort of algorithm that works, but simple rules that I can follow and help develop and help teach the other Artists properly.
Basically a couple steps, I generate LODs, the Level of Detail models, and then I go through and look for meshes that I may need to combine as I go down to save performance, less meshes equals less memory. Same thing we have what are called Material ID’s. Every texture whether it’s paint or rivets or details or an engine glow or any sort of material that’s on your ship can also be condensed down. If you’re like really far away you’re not going to see that little rivet under the wing so what do you do? You say okay, poof, you are now the same gray that the base ship is right? So you try and make logical deductions where to go through, it’s kinda like a puzzle.
JH: So it’s kinda like you’re making six different versions of the ship, each with a progressively less detail and we are swapping them out on the fly as you get farther and closer and if we do our job right, you won’t notice the change.
PS: That’s exactly it
JH: So why don’t you take us through the technical aspects, the creation of a LOD.
PS: Okay, to start before we even start anything we have to ask yourself ,”What is the requirement?” So we usually start in the CryEngine, I like to take a look at the model first obviously, you don’t want to redo every single thing, some parts are lovingly hand caressed and you don’t want to butcher other people’s work. So I come in and take a look at the model and I got a few tools at my disposable that I use to determine whether the model needs work or not.
Basically the first test is to take the ship, like the cutlass for now and then we just back out. We do it kind of slow because right now what we’re doing is we’re looking for material changes that don’t match or chunks like that, chunks of the ship that just disappear right? That’s the stuff I’m taking a look for, that and just the model may be looking really gross. I’ll show you what I mean by really gross too because if algorithm changes it affects how the LODS are sometimes I have to go back and forth and fix them.
Up here on the stop menu set, I have a set of tools at my disposal to force to sort of force the model to show me different LODS. So we have levels one through five. Alright these are the varying distances for the most part. So we go one and we can see we start to lose a very minute bit of detail right about there. Then we go two, we start to lose more detail, three, four, five, until the whole thing just looks really bad and the thing is though, you’re only going to see that from really really far away.
So if we come all the way out here … And we can see we have these little boxes that show, they’re not boxes on your screen obviously, they look kinda like green chunks, but basically those show that an object doesn’t have an LOD at all. That means I have to go in and say “Oh man, why doesn’t have such and such part do?” Because if you do not have an LOD, it’s always 100% right? You’re rendering like a million poly spec from a mile away, it’s not necessary.
We added a thing where if something doesn’t have more than one LOD, the whole object doesn’t appear so that’s kind of part of the pass I’m going through now is we updated some of our rules and I’m making sure that every flyable ship and ship coming out is in line our sort of stuff.
Just to kind of move onto the next phase, we took a look, everything doesn’t really look too bad, but there’s a couple areas that I think could use some work. One part is the body, basically these ships are built in many different pieces so when you see a ship just sitting there, it’s combined from just a bajillion little different parts that snap like the new cells and the thrusters and the engines and the guns are just little invisible boxes you’ll soon see in Max that call in another file from a helper. So when you’re working on something and you’re like “Oh man the ship looks good, but the weapons all looking pop, pop, pop,” Right? How do you fix that? Well you go into another file an do that. So right now we’re going to toy up the Cutlass.
Basically how this is laid out, looks kinda like a mess if I unhide all. I’ll show you, you come in and here you go. Normally what we do is we just don’t click through everything, it’s time consuming. I would actually select the body and then I would say, ‘well, that’s what I need to work on right now’. So I would isolate that and here we are. So, we have our body and over in my hierarchy, had to flip to that a lot, I can go down to body here and I can see it’s hierarchy.
To me what that means is basically you have the main piece of geo which is this, this is the body, that’s it’s name and you have LOD, LOD, LOD with the same name. It’s how the computer knows to recognize it as the body. So, I’m like, ‘ok cool’. Say we didn’t actually want these, right, I could actually, like these were all bad for some reason. This is just an experiment
So, we delete those and now our body has no LODs; if I bring it into the game and I re-export it. It won’t change at all.
PS: So now, the trick is I need to say, ‘you know what, this is currently if I look at my specs over here’, it’s way too many tris. You know, a bajillion tris here. Let’s just click out of our object and here’s the automated part, this is the part you make a sandwich for. You go to our LOD generator too, which we have that uses a program called Simply Gone in the background, and we need five LODs.
Now I get to choose from a list here, this is where I have to start eyeballing parts. I say to myself, does this have let’s say a million polys, if so I need to do very low to make sure it’s percentage is like… I want to chop away 70% of the polygons of last time each time I do down, just to go from one million to fifteen hundred polys.
So, let click low, so we’ll do very low and I’ll just do one for now just to show you how it works cause this can be time consuming depending on what you do. Very low means I’m going to try and hack this thing to bits. So there you go, our LODs have been generated so now what we want to do is take a look. Anyway, we come in and ok I have an LOD for the body, this is great, how do I go down there now.
Now comes the next step, we generate an LOD, do we have any meshes to combine, no it’s one big chunk. Ok, skip step two. Step three, optimize material IDs. What does that mean you say, well we come to our body and we come over to the object, each polygon on this surface has something called a material ID. What that means is a texture or picture can be assigned to that particular face. That’s how we can create complex details where we have paneling in some areas, flat colours in another, or different overlay textures, etc.
As we come in here we have in this material editor is we have a list of materials and we say to ourselves, how do I smush these down, right. That’s where you just eyeball it back and forth between the editor and Max, you’re looking at your LOD here, you’re on LOD 1 so I would go to LOD 1. I would force it and I would say ok, not much going on we lost a couple… maybe it looks good. Maybe it’s already the right shape but I can save performance by crunching down a couple of unnecessary materials that you won’t see. Little things like that on each and every ship gives everyone those frames that they want.
JH: It’s all about the frames.
PS: It’s all about the frames, man. Sixty frames, 4K, you know we got to get there. These are the steps it takes to go through and do it. After that, I back and forth between the export button which basically takes it from Max, converges it into a format that then goes into the editor. Then we just go back and forth from there until we are happy with what we have, you know. No one would be happy seeing a ship like that, it’s like ugh.
At the end of the day, you shouldn’t really even see it disappearing and I mean it’s cool. I have a bunch of tools here, I can colour code it, I can analyze all the different aspects of what makes a ship. This is actually a really good call here.
JH: Seizure mode.
PS: Yeah, total rave party mode, right. Basically what this means is I can come in and look at tall this cool stuff and figure out, let me get rid of some of this text for you. Spelling is hard. Here we go. Basically these colour coded areas mean different things. This is how many materials each a part has for example. Everyone’s done kinda a paint by numbers thing, that’s exactly what this is.
So, everywhere you see a number is how many materials that specific part of the model has. By LOD 5, you basically want this whole thing to have one, maybe two, three. Which is basically major colour changes, is this dark grey, light grey, is there a dash of yellow that I can see from a mile away. You know, it’s stuff like that that you really want to keep and coming in and saying, I need cockpit glass shiny, so on and so forth. So, let me see, there’s one more that’s useful here, then let’s get rid of the text by doing negative three, reverse the polarity.
So basically what this is. As as I was saying before, all the models, the whole ship is considered multiple components, each of those components load in separately right? So you kind of want to optimize them so they pop out at the same time right? That’s another thing I look for, I make sure that one part like this one here, probably has less LOD’s than the body. So you see he’s smaller or has less pixels, less polygons, etc etc. So the turret kind of goes first, goes twice, then the body, then in the cells, light blue, light blue. Now you see it starts to flash saying I don’t have an LOD pass at this point right? Which ingame kind of means it might disappear, that’s something I have to look out for.
So we come out, zoom out until we hit the last one which is that purple one. So that’s how I gauge how far away this ship specifically would be noticeable and then I would just go like this … Boom. Then I would see does anything disappear? Does it look like the silhouette of the ship?
Let me turn off the … something, trying to turn things off, trying to push buttons. Okay try to turn away the floor, there we go, now it’s got rid of everything, that’s funny. Click those back on, alright there. So that’s a good way to see it. So from here I just fly around the ship and I make sure that it has the shape of a Cutlass from a mile away and it’s flying away because I have physics on, come back … There it is!
JH: Good job, good job.
PS: Thank you, thank you. So that’s pretty much it right? Go through the levels, go through the phases, check to see if anything is wrong, check to see where I can optimize materials, combine meshes, etc, etc. Do that on every ship and at the end of the day, someone somewhere will see an increase of performance and thank you without knowing my name
JH: Well now you know the name of the person you can thank for your increase in frame rates.
PS: Well there’s many ones, many people working hard to keep your frames up
JH: When we came to me he said he’s the only person who’s responsible for frame rate increase, he wanted his attention.
PS: No he’s been bothering me for weeks, for weeks this guy is like, “Come on man what do you got?” I’m like, “Dude, I’m optimizing.”
JH: It’s not sexy, it’s not sexy, but it’s important.
PS: It is, it is. You know, you know, you’re sitting here making LOD’s and you know, it’s just gonna run a little better at the end of the day and that’s important because you got all these cool things spaceships, planets, space stations and I like frames you know? How am I supposed to get those headshots without 30 frames, 60 frames per second.
JH: Alright man, thank you so much Patrick. That’s LOD’s Legions of Doom.
PS: Levels of display
JH: Back to you guys
PS: Alright guys, have a good one.
SG: Thanks guys. That’s just one way we are working to improve the overall performance of Star Citizen. Wait, you’re on your phone.
BL: I have to find out what the person is for this next one … I’ll be just a second.
SG: And now it’s time for this week’s BenVP.
BL: So occasionally there’s a post on the forums that I especially like but I can’t honestly say is the most valuable post. So this week’s BenVP goes to The Illusive Man for his Wing Commander 3 style box art for Star Citizen. Check it out.
SG: So how about this week’s real MVP?
SG: Ben the envelope please.
BL: It’s no BenVP.
SG: Oh boy, this week’s MVP is… drumroll please: STLYoungblood, for his wealth of Star Citizen videos. STL has a variety of Star Citizen videos, you going to tell us about them.
BL: Yes, well his variety of Star Citizen videos that’s pretty much it. Check out his videos, he has everything from Q and A’s, to ship tests, to all sorts of cool stuff. Well worth anyone looking at.
STLYoungblood: Tyrol which is a place that may not be around for very long and the reason I say that is because this system is around a late stage red giant which estimates are saying could go supernova really at any point in the next thousand years or so.
SG: Now here’s your art Sneak Peak.
SG: Now here’s your art Sneak Peak.
BL: Be sure to tune in to Reverse the Verse tomorrow at 11 am Pacific on Twitch to learn more about that Sneak Peek and other aspects of Star Citizen development, we’ll be there.
SG: Of course, thank you to all of our subscribers for making this show possible. We will see you next week on…
SG/BL: Around the Verse.