This post is a transcript of Around the ‘Verse: Episode 2.19, 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!
Around the ‘Verse: Episode 2.19 – Key Takeaways
- 2.2 is almost ready, getting ready for a PTU release, just waiting on internal QA.
- The Package Split has happened. SQ42 packages will launch alongside 2.2.
- Star Citizen was featured on the BBC series ‘Click’ with footage shot in LA and UK.
News From Around The Verse
- Work continues on Caterpillar concepts, Gurmukh is working on additional ones.
- Lots of work on the Design Doc for the Cat, including shields.
- Concept Artist’s Jeremiah and Omah have been working on more character concepts.
Austin & Foundry 42 UK
- Jake Ross is in the UK visiting the office there, so no Austin report.
- Talking with Turbulent about the part they will play in Persistence
- Working on a schedule for persistence with Turbulent.
- Setting a pricing formula for shopping; each item has to have a cost associated with.
- Gathering all the information from meetings with Erin and Chris.
- Still lots of scheduling of things like the core engine, cinematics, etc…
- Worked on how to build art for procedural tech, and what the standards for it are.
- Discussions on asteroids and how they will be scalable.
- Lots of discussions around AI, how they converse, interact, react, etc…
- Doing more work at pre-fab systems and piping prototypes.
- Lots of work continues on planning out the rest of the year.
- Design went over mission systems.
- As Tony Z was there, they also did work on the PU.
- Reviewed effects that are being made and their progress
- looked through high-level PU plans and FPS plans.
ATV Interview with Adrian Banninga
- Art outsourcers are used for ship concepts, characters, animations, etc.
- Prowler is on hold till the Tevarin race gets fully concepted out.
- Once the Tevarin race have been created, they’ll have a style guide created; designs, architecture, clothing, etc. and from that, the ship gets designed.
- Adrian did the art for an indie game called Darkout, available on Steam.
- Adrian also sailed across the Atlantic when he was 19.
ATV Behind The Scenes: Dataforge
- CIG are working on ‘Dataforge’, a way to solve the XML metadata issue.
- Currently SC uses XMLs to store data, because CryEngine did. CIG are working on moving away from XML’s.
- XML’s centralise the data, and are very error prone.
- Dataforge basically stores all of our data for gamemodes, for conversation systems, to characters like clothing.
- “Variance” system.Right click and create a variant which for all intents and purposes, it copies the master and lets you change things here and there.
- Artists also have the ability to modify variants.
- Only one person can modify at a time.
- First phase was everything being stored as XMLS, once public it will be stored as a binary blob
- Once in game, instead of parsing an XML file every time you need to spawn a projectile, ship, etc. Once public it will already be stored in memory will be available to be grabbed.
- Binary blobs are currently stored on a dedicated server, in the future they could have a centralized server where all servers can pull info from.
- MVP is Ghost, who did a good ‘What Is Star Citizen’ video
Sandi Gardiner (SG): Hey everybody, welcome to Around the ‘Verse I’m Sandi Gardiner.
Ben Lesnick (BL): I’m Ben Lesnick.
SG: This week in the ATV Interview, Jared sits down with Senior Art Manager Adrian Banninga to discuss art sourcing on Star Citizen.
BL: And in this week’s ATV Behind the Scenes the bug smasher himself, Mark Abent returns to talk about Dataforge, the new tool we’re using to improve Star Citizen.
SG: But first, everyone wants to know what is happening with 2.2, Ben, tell us the deal with 2.2
BL: 2.2 is almost there. We’re getting ready for a PTU release, we have a number of candidates in process. As soon as internal QA signs off we’ll be able to put it online. We don’t have a release date to give out yet, but it is in the not too distant future. Keep checking the Comm Link for updates and we will have it out as soon as we can
SG: And with patch 2.2 comes our dedicated Squadron 42 packages amongst other things
BL: Yes the much valued packaged split has happened. The Squadron 42 package will launch alongside 2.2. So if you want to pick up just the base Star Citizen that’s available now and you can pick up the Squadron 42 addon for that. AS soon as 2.2 goes live we will make Squadron 42 based packages available as well.
SG: This weekend Star Citizen was featured on the BBC series: “Click.” With footage shot in the LA and UK offices. I received emails from cousins in Australia, friends in Ho Chi Minh. It was quite exciting
BL: I heard from people all over the place too. It was a very fair report, I thought it gave a good picture of Star Citizen and what we’re really doing here. And I got to fly the Hornet from Wing Commander that you see where he’s blowing up Kilrathi ships so I’m very proud of that
SG: And Hennessy was very happy that they spelled his name correctly. It was good, check out the version.[Video]
Marc Cieslak: A crowdfunded title that’s raised well, an enormous amount of money. They decided to do something quite unusual. They have their very own television studio here.
A small team here produce online videos almost daily. Filling in the audience on how the game development’s going.
Jared Huckaby: Crowdfunding can be a scary thing. Crowdfunding is still a relatively new frontier and we’re pretty much at the front of it
Tom Hennessy: Everything is geared towards the idea that we’re pulling back the curtain and we’re letting you get the inside look on everything.
SG: And the week before that we had our first official Bar Citizen in Montreal, which was very cool with our friends from Turbulent and Behavior.
BL: Yeah if you aren’t in Frankfurt, Austin, Manchester, or Los Angeles, Montreal is the place to be to meet Star Citizen Developers. It sounds like they had a good event. Jared and I actually got to go in via Skype and answer questions so thanks for having us and hope you all have a good time.
SG: Now let’s check in with our studios around the world in this weeks News From Around The Verse.
News From Around The Verse
Eric K. Davis (EKD): Hey everybody and welcome back to LA i’m Eric Kieron Davis with…
Adrian Banninga (AB): Adrian Banninga.
ED: And thank you for joining us this week.
AB: You’re welcome.
ED: We asked Adrian to come up for many reasons, some we’ll cover right now other will be covered in a longer Around the Verse piece you did this week right?
EKD: You got to get a long chat with those guys.
AB: I know, I know.
EKD: They snagged you in the office, in the studio and talked to you.
EKD: Awesome. so we got a few updates for you. A couple of things around the studio. One we’re working hard on the Caterpillar concepts. There were some additional concepts we need to do for the CAterpillar. We’ve talked about this in the past. Gurmukh has been working feverishly on this. They’re coming together really, really well.
On the design side we’re also working on the Design Doc. We talked about shields, I think last week, we’re still working on shields, Chad has been working heavily on that. We’ve also got some folks working on some of the character work. We’ve got some character concepts happening as well as some BPU’s and some other character work with our Concept Artist Jeremiah and Omah.
I was out I decided to break my hand last Friday so..
AB: Always a wise decision!
EKD: Yeah, I thought it was a good idea to break my hand. But now that i’m back in the office we’re digging some of that stuff up and getting to work on a couple of them, so that’s it from LA. Again I’m Eric.
AB: And I’m Adrian.
Austin & Foundry 42 UK
Tom Johnson: Howdy y’all welcome to the UK. For those of you who are a little bit confused right now, Jake’s actually visiting the office over here at the moment so we thought it would be fun to bring him along and say hello, how are you doing?
Jake Ross: Hey guys! Welcome from sunny England! I’m here visiting the UK all week and meeting up with a few of the Producers out here. It’s nice to meet everyone in person and, people you see and hang out with over Skype all the time but you never actually get to meet in person. So it’s a nice thing to get to see people face to face. Definitely a good thing. We’re talking a little bit about scheduling and stuff, with Tom and lots of interesting, intriguing Microsoft project work. I’m sure you are all very interested to hear about. Then talking with the Live Production Team, talk about each, as we plan for each release there’s lots of production practices that go into that. We’d have to be really in sync between the European time zones and the U.S. time zones. So there’s lots that go into that.
TJ: Yeah and those handovers!
JR: They take a while to put together, but they’re definitely important to know what blockers are still, still existing and that kind of thing.
TJ: I think these kinds of meets where face to face you do find you get a lot more out of it than you just being able to sit alongside each other and go over some stuff and that
JR: Yeah you think of things when you’re wandering through the office and you see somebody and you’re like “Oh yeah I need to talk to that guy”. You don’t get that visual reminder when you work remotely, so it’s nice to have that.
TJ: So what else is going? You’re obviously still going over things you were chucking in last
JR: Yeah right. So we got updates for persistence and shopping. So persistence we’re talking with Turbulent now, talking about their part that they are going to play in that. So Jason Elee our Lead Server Engineer is talking with those guys about creating a stateful communication between the platform and the back end server, so that’s what we’re..Talking through that and coming up with a schedule coming up with estimates for that work. And for shopping we’re settling on a pricing formula. So we’ll have our clothing in Casaba Outlet each item has to have a cost associated with it. So we’re creating a pricing formula and then determining what exactly we’re going to be putting in that store when it first releases. We have a few different clothing options plus variants for each of those for each of those options.
TJ: You started the item and then you..
JR: Yeah you know, we got Zoot Suit, all that
TJ: Skelton’s gold shirt
JR: Skelton’s is a must have, I don’t know if that’s going to be in the first release but it’s in the backlog!
TJ: Sounds good. Ok that just about wraps it up for us here in the UK, we’ll see you in the ‘verse
JR: See you guys.
Brian Chambers: Hey you guys Brian Chambers from the Frankfurt office. This week so far we’re basically gathering all the information that we have from the meetings with Erin and Chris and a few guys, last week. When they come out here and we have focused time with them it really does pretty much involve all disciplines to some extent. If I read through some of the meetings just to give you guys a little bit, some of the insider, some of the stuff we discussed, but I can’t tell you everything we discussed.
But we met with Cinematics going over their art schedule, the support now that’s going to go back and forth with the UK and Frankfurt looked at progress of certain blocked out scenes, we talked about sign off process and protocol and how we’re going to do that to get the sign off. Core engine, we looked at the general, the whole schedule for 2016. Chris sat down with other TD’s and really structured it out, put priority in what we should focus on and what take a little bit less priority and so on.
A lot into the procedural tech with the planets and how we’re driving that, how we need to build the art, what those standards are. Other stuff we can’t talk about and yes i’m reading through a list right now. Also some discussion on asteroids and some of stuff we have going on there and how those are scalable. That’s going to be interesting once we get that into player’s hands to beat that up.
AI, a lot of discussion on AI. The AI in the game is pretty thick and we’re really kind of pushing boundaries on AI interactions. How you can play with the AI, how you can converse with the AI, how they interact, positively and negatively. We have a lot of terminology we’re throwing around internally, but I don’t want to give it all away ‘cause i’m not quite sure what was put out there yet or not but let’s just say there was a lot of discussion that went over AI, characters, ships and really looking at the overall AI architecture and clarifying what, for PU and what those needs are and Squadron 42 and what those needs are, and what overlaps and what’s the best most, way to build up these systems that are mature that will be scalable.
Production I think we talked a little bit about over the last week, we went over the head count or growth of what we’re going to be, where we see ourselves moving forward in the next six months and in a year. Also looking at evaluating what disciplines we have and how we’re staffed and where we may need more and son on. Design went over a lot looking at mission systems. But based on Squadron 42 we also had Tony out here from Austin so did a lot of digging in on PU. Looking at the pre-fab systems, the piping prototype.
Had Todd Pappy in here a few weeks ago talking about that. So that was far enough along to be able to look at and get an understanding of what’s going on there. Also dug in through high level PU plans, FPS plans and so on. Reviewed effects that are currently going along and how that’s progressing and so on and so on and so on. So we’re getting a lot of traction here, it’s been cool as the teams building up we’re kind of finding out place a little bit more and getting some more structure, which is great ‘cause it adds clarity to the team and so on.
As always again thank you to all the backers, it’s been great here and good response about the team we have here in Frankfurt ‘cause we really dig what we’re doing and it’s good to see people liking what we do as well. So globally this an awesome team between the UK and AUstin and LA and everybody’s really kind of coming together, which is really cool. So thanks and see you next week.
Back to studio
SG: As always a big thank you to all of our studios from around the world.
BL: Next up Jared sat down with Senior Art Manager, Adrian Banninga, to talk about Star Citizen.
SG: Take it away guys.
ATV Interview with Adrian Banninga
Jared Huckaby (JH): Thanks guys on this week’s ATV Interview we’re sitting down with Senior Art Manager, Adrian Banninga. Adrian, how you doing man?
Adrian Banninga (AB): Hi, nice to meet you.
JH: Hi, good. I didn’t slaughter that did I?
JH: Alright, thanks.
AB: Acceptable.[both laugh]
JH: Now Adrian you are the Senior Art Manager?
JH: And you work out of the UK office?
JH: So start us off, just tell us real quickly what does the Senior Art Manager do?
AB: Basically the guy that helps the Art Director make sure the Art team is running smoothly, and that the tasks that are being set for them are being done, and also that Production doesn’t try and kill them.
JH: [laughing] Okay. We’ve had a few close calls over the years.
JH: It’s alright. What kind of things do we use art outsourcers for?
AB: It depends what our needs are basically. We use them for ship concepts, characters, animations, creating some ships we’ve done the past as well: just whatever are art needs are at the time.
JH: Okay. And for right now we’ve got art outsourcers working on the Esperia Prowler?
AB: Well the Prowler is not in the works right now, because that’s kind of on hold. We’ve decided to go back and we needed to pick up where the Tevarin race was first.
AB: Get that concepted properly. You know we’ve adapted the ship’s pipeline so that we’re doing things a little bit more structured than I think we were used to in the past. So getting the race all figured out, getting their style guides done, is one of the first things we need to do before concept a ship that they made. And from then on we just move forward with more ships from that race.
JH: Gottcha. Who’s working on the Tevarin now?
AB: We’ve got Mark Skelton directing Chris Olivia to work on the initial Tevarin race concepts. That’s happening right now.
AB: And then once we have a rough design down that will go Chris to obviously look at and pick the ones that he likes. And then once we have that we’ll take it further and refine the shapes more.
JH: Gottcha. And then when we’re happy with the Tevarin, that’s when we take the Prowler and assign it to an art outsourcer?
AB: Well that’s when we’ll basically … when the Tevarin race has been defined then our Art Team, our Concept Team, will go and define the style guide for them. Like what kind of clothing do they wear, what kind of designs do they have, what is the architectural structure that they have in their civilisation based off the lore the writers come up with? And then from that we’ll go and design the ship. Yeah.
JH: Cool. And you’re here visiting for the week, from the UK? What are you here in LA to do?
AB: Go over the outsourcing that we currently have going, see how we can improve the process that we have, keep up with the reviews that we need to do with the outsourcers that are doing stuff for us, and also assess any future needs of outsourcing we have. See early on what we might need done in a month or two’s time and then how we can accommodate that.
JH: Ah, yeah, game development is iterative. So you are always trying to evaluate and reevaluate your processes. There’s always a way to get things, to make things, better.
JH: So where did you come … How long have you been with Cloud Imperium Games?
AB: I started here seven and a half months ago.
JH: And where did you come to before that? Where did you come to us from before that?
AB: A varied background. Well before that I was working on my own game. It was an indie title called Darkout.
AB: Yeah. Basically it was a little game based off Terraria, set more in sci-fi universe, it had a light and dark mechanic to it. You could kill shadow creatures and hunt them with lights that kind of thing. So we tried to do a different spin off from that the guys did with Terraria. Sandbox games were very popular at the time I started it. It was a longer process than I thought but working with people over the internet and not getting paid and promise of royalties and so forth it makes it more difficult than having a fully funded game.
JH: How long did you work on that?
AB: About three years.
JH: Is that available now or … ?
AB: Yeah, it is available on Steam.
JH: Well cool. Darkout, available on Steam, if you guys are curious. We’ll see what people say.[both laugh]
AB: I’ve got good feedback on the visuals. I mean it’s a really good looking game. So, yeah.
JH: Cool. Cool. Now, I won’t keep you too much longer but we were talking earlier, you mentioned that you sailed across the Atlantic Ocean when you were younger?
JH: We were trading stories and I was like “I went to space camp when I was ten!” And he was like “Yeah I sailed across the Atlantic.” So you sailed across the Atlantic from Cape Town to the Caribbean you said?
JH: How long did that take?
AB: It took about three months.
JH: Why? Not why did it take three months but why did you do it?
AB: Well my parents got this crazy idea into their heads when I was about sixteen that they wanted to build a boat and go sailing across the world. And I was all on board for that. I mean who wants to go to school when you can go sailing? So we ended up building our own boat in our yard and when I was nineteen we were finished and we went sailing. And it took us three months to get from Cape Town to the Caribbean. We actually started off with a nice Cape Town storm so that was an adventure on its own. And about the rest: I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was an awesome adventure to go through.
JH: There’s something to be said for somebody who’s built their own boat being involved in our ship pipeline.
AB: That’s true. I hadn’t thought about it that way.
JH: [laughing] I was just putting that together, it’s like that’s cool you might have some insights that others might not. So that’s very cool. Adrian I won’t take … thanks for taking the time to sit with us. I won’t keep you any longer man.
AB: You’re welcome.
JH: Thanks a lot. Alright guys. Back to you everybody.
Back to studio
BL: Thanks guys. Did you hear that Adrian once sailed across the Atlantic from Cape Town to the Caribbean?
SG: No, why would I know that?
BL: I don’t know. I don’t know why it’s in the script.[both laugh and look at the script]
JH: [off camera] Because it took three months!
SG: It took three months! Apparently.[off camera golf clap]
BL: Put this whole thing in. I want to see this whole segment, including this part, in the episode. So people understand what we have to deal with.
SG: See I just read. I just read what my line says. That’s all I do.
BL: People think “Oh they’re getting trolled and they’re fighting with people on the internet and there’s problems with Star Citizen”. No! Jared’s script is the problem with Star Citizen.
SG: I know.[Jared peers round the side of the camera] [laughter from Tom Hennessy off camera]
SG: Coming up next Mark Abent returns to Around the Verse with a look at Dataforge. The new tool we are using to make Star Citizen even better in this week’s ATV Behind the Scenes.
BL: And here I thought Dataforge was what Dr Soong used to make his androids.
ATV Behind The Scenes: Dataforge
JH: Thanks guys on this week’s ATV Behind the Scenes we’re sitting down with Gameplay Programmer Mr. Mark Abent. He is going to take us through a brief tour of a new tool that we’re using here at Cloud Imperium Games called Dataforge. So Mark how you doing man? Welcome back to Around The Verse.
MA: Good to be on… Well I don’t think I don’t think i’ve been on Around The Verse in a long time!
JH: Not since you went rogue and started your own show! It’s good to have you back. Now, Dataforge let’s just start at the beginning. What is Dataforge?
MA: Well one thing I noticed…Do I look at you or do I look at…
JH: You got to look at me
MA: Ok. sorry about that. I just wasn’t sure where I should be looking. ‘Cause I noticed the cameras are all here and I’m looking this way!
JH: That’s alright we’ll use this. We’ll just wait on you
MA: Oh. Oh what was the question again?
MA: You see what he has to do with all the..
JH: So start us off at the beginning. We’re just leaving all this in by the way. What is Dataforge?
MA: Alright. So Dataforge is essentially our answer to solving all of our saved data or metadata through XML through actually it’s just XML at the moment! Trying to get rid of having all these XML’s that get parsed every which way throughout the engine and just have one central location where all of our data gets set modified and stored.
JH: Ok. Now CryEngine uses XML by default, which is why we’ve been using XML.
JH: Why is it important to us to move away from that and centralise the data?
MA: So XML is very error prone. I could modify one thing and now that whole thing is broken. This has happened quite a bit with our ship XML’s where you add an extra comment ‘cause I don’t like this but CryEngine’s way of parsing comments, you can’t have a comment within a comment. If you do that XML just breaks.
So you could have simple things as that or double quote or wrong thing here and now you’re ship is vanished and it’s like “Oh no what did I just do?” And especially becomes error prone, when you have: guy over here working on something, guy over here working on something, they both commit and merge and it just becomes a mess.
JH: Gotcha. And of course the game we’re making a is a bit bigger than what the scope of CryEngine was originally designed for. So I think we’re moving into an area now where XML just isn’t robust enough
MA: Yeah it was fine in the beginning when you had one person like Calix working on it. But now we have studios, we have a dozen studios all working on the same thing. It just becomes a nightmare!
JH: Four internal studios and outsourcers guys. We didn’t expand to a dozen studios last night and not tell anybody. There’ll be a threat, there’ll be a threat! Now i’ve forgotten what I was to go with now, oh well. CryEngine was, it’s an inhouse tool created by Ashley?
MA: It was created by Ashley Cunning, Canning. Also I think it was David Gill. Ash is the main guy working on it but David also helps support some of the features here and there, from what i’m told!
JH: And Ash started on this almost a year ago? A year and a half ago?
MA: I came on the project about two years ago. Right around the time when UK office just started up. He wasn’t originally planned to work on this, he was, I think it was going to be a Gameplay Programmer, and then about a couple months after he got in, we needed a solution like this and Dataforge was the answer, we didn’t know what it was going to be, but we needed someone to work on it and Ash was like “I’ll do it!”.
JH: Why don’t you take us through. Show us an XML and then show us what Dataforge can do for us
MA: Sure. So let me pull over a simple XML. Move to and so. Here we have a twenty millimetre round of ammo that I think, I’m not sure what gun. I think the gatlings use this. And it’s actually split in two. We have the Design view and then we also have the group called the interface, which is the graphics view.
We had problems where Designers and Artists wanted to modify things that would stomp over each other’s work so we ended up splitting it with this interface system where this is the design stuff and this is all the visual stuff. Lights, lasers, graphics.
JH: So even something as simple as a bullet had two different XML’s?
MA: It had two different things.
MA: The other reason why they had two was we used to use something called a Script Monkey. It was something I wrote where in Excel you basically had the names of the projectiles and then some properties and it would auto generate the XML.
Now when people go in there and just start modifying things without using that script, when someone re-runs that script all those settings would be lost. And the Artists didn’t know about that thing at the time and it was never set up. So Artists would go in, add some particles, change the like colour and then the designer would rerun the script, it would flush all of the changes and be like “What happened to my changes?” Oh no..
JH: Artists man…
MA: So we wanted to keep the design being able to use that batch scripting so they can go on an XML and change all the design damage and stuff like that so they wouldn’t have to go through every single XML, but we also still want the Artists to change the XML’s because that’s the way they want to do it so we came up with this two way split system and unfortunately we now have double the XML’s or there’s a design version, the graphics version and it still gets broken because people interchange things ones in here. We actually stopped using Script Monkey because it just became horrible to maintain. One Excel vs XML, everyone would skip the excel and straight to the XML, till this day there’s still some fun conflicts.
JH: Alright, now show us what Dataforge can do for us then.
MA: So with projectiles, actually moved them over to Dataforge and we’re not long using XML, this is the old old old system. Instead we’re using Dataforge. Dataforge is a nifty, it basically stores all of our data for gamemodes, for conversation systems, to characters like clothing. We’re going to move into here. Specifically for our projectiles, we have this what we call a template.
So we create this template and it has all the properties we want of this particular bullet, so we set it up to be. Here’s a bullet, we set it up so that it has damage, it has lifetime, it has some sounds and effects and then we’re going to have a bunch of bullets that are going to shoot at same properties, but we don’t need to copy all the information over and over again. So Ash came up with this system called the ‘Variance’ system. You can literally right click and create a variant which for all intents and purposes, it copies the master and lets you change things here and there. You could create this template, create a variant like these guys and change damage.
MA: But that’s still tedious to designers and they love XML so we extended it even more.
In the spirit of Script Monkey, you can define variants and you can define certain properties and these properties can be imported into each of the templates. So my master template, as you can see I can define my size, my lifetime, my speed and these are all variables that are defined in that excel sheet. So I can literally create new ones or remove them. But the beauty of this too is an Artist doesn’t necessarily use this particular excel sheet to change the effects. They could go into the required variant and they can start modifying and adding particles in that specific for that variant. It’s kind of the best of both world.
MA: It will get tricky, Well actually the one good thing too is if a designer decides this is gone, it will be removed and now the Artist will notice it’s gone so he doesn’t have to add the effect anymore because it doesn’t exist
MA: We also locked the file so one person can modify this at a time.
JH: It should be noted. We’ve got a list here of all these different things like physical damage and speed and what not. These are not final values. This was setup for the demonstration, don’t get too excited.
MA: I’ve literally ran a script to auto generate these properties. When I converted over the system, none of these are the actual values, they’re going to get passed off the designers to fill in the real values.
JH: Somebody will still screenshot it and post it like they’re real things.
JH: So besides bullets, besides ammo rather, we’ve got all kinds of things. We got the conversation system, I see game levels in there.
MA: We have properties for game levels, certain things. If we have to add a certain flag to disable something like I don’t know, you can’t shoot in racer, we had a pool entity here and then we update all of our fun little scripts.
JH: Now Dataforge isn’t just a fancy tool for creating XMLs, it’s actually we’re storing the data differently that XMLs now right?
MA: Yes. So on the very first phase everything got stored out as just XMLs. That’s just the save information. This is only on the designer’s, or I should say on the developer’s side. When it finally gets out into the public it gets stored into a binary blob.
MA: So what that means is when we’re actually in the game and everyone’s playing we don’t have to parse an XML every time we spawn a projectile, every time we spawn a ship. Instead we have that information somewhere already in memory and we just grab it. It’s so quick.
JH: Because I mean, we’re talking milliseconds here but when you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people playing a game and whatnot, milliseconds matter.
MA: Oh they matter tremendously. I mean we have dozens of people. Dozens, good word, I can use that now! Right? Dozens?
MA: Yeah dozens! [laughs]
JH: Yes, if all things go right. If all things go right.
MA: Yeah, if we have dozens of people and they have a gatling gun and it shoots like nine hundred rounds a minute. You know you’re going to be parsing a bunch of XMLs, which we don’t want. Well if we have the binary blob all those projectiles go to that one source of information, pull it and then they’re good to go.
JH: Okay. And so we store those blobs up on a server.
MA: Right now they are all stored on our dedicated servers. But some time in the future we could have a centralised server where all the other servers could pull that information. And with Dataforge we actually have the ability to ‘hot load’. So we could change our binary blob to some other binary blob and it would reflect all the changes. We have that now and I’ll show an example later. But some time in the future, yeah, we’ll probably have a central server where all the other servers could pull it from. We could, you know, balance things on the fly. [laughs]
JH: Is binary blob the official term?
MA: It is used everywhere internally so I think that’s what we’re calling it. [laughs]
JH: Now changes made here will parse out into the game right?
JH: So can we see an example of that?
JH: Maybe can we alter a projectile or something?
JH: Oh look, you have a gun already here.
MA: I have a gun already here.
JH: It’s like this was planned.
MA: Oh gee, I wonder. I wonder if I hit this button [presses a key]. Oh look at that! It shoots![both laugh]
JH: Set it going a couple of times. Alright.
MA: [presses the key repeatedly] I have a little, quick gun here that shoots a couple of projectiles when I tap the button. And this particular projectile I’m using, the 20mm ammo, and the speed is kind of insane. And what I could do here is add a little decimal point [adds a decimal point]; save the Excel sheet; I can drag Dataforge; tell it to refresh; and now it shoots a little bit slower. [presses the key repeatedly] Pew!
MA: It kind of dips down but that’s only because I’m in a gravity box. Just to illustrate it, so, yeah.
JH: We’re all in a gravity box at some point.
JH: Right, I want to throw you and audible here. Slowing down is fine. Can we change the projectile to something completely different like a ship maybe?
MA: Yeah! I think I know what ship we could change that too.
MA: So let’s go back to Dataforge. And let’s change our geometry. So I’m going to get rid of this material because that changes our colours. Our projectiles they all share from this solenoid so what I can do is change this guy out. Change it to say an M50. Save that guy out. And now [presses key repeatedly] I’m shooting M50s![both laugh]
JH: Justin add some sound effects! Let’s see what sound an M50 makes when it shoots.[sound effects play on pew, I mean, cue]
JH: Alright let’s change that back before I get in trouble.
MA: I think we can keep it.
JH: Well Mark, thanks so much for giving us a brief tour of Dataforge. This is an incredibly important tool. A year and a half in the making now. It’s going to store all of our data for ships and weapons and our game levels. And it’s exciting to be able to shave off those milliseconds from having to parse stuff and to store everything on dedicated servers. So thank you so much man.
MA: No problem. Thank you guys.
JH: Back to you. Seriously fix the, fix the ship!
Back to studio
SG: I want a gun that shoots M50’s.
BL: You changed that back?
Thomas Hennessy (TH:) Yes … No… [Laughs]
SG: Our very own Gurmukh Bhasin recently finished teaching a 3D concept class and created a single seater fighter ship as a class project.
BL: I like that there’s a world there’s such a thing as spaceship class by the way, but Gurmukh is really proud the work his students did. It’s all heavily inspired by his work in Star Citizen of course so we offered to share some of the designs on the show, these are not ships for Star Citizen, but who can turn down a cool space ship no matter where it’s from.
SG: Check them out.
Gurmukh Bhasin (GB): Hey everyone this is Gurmukh Bhasin Here, so the purpose of the class was to get people comfortable with exploring concepts in 3D. One of the unique things here that I do here on Star Citizen is design ships in full 3D concept and I wanted to share my technique with people who are interested and get people excited about exploration and trying things out in 3D. So the purpose of this course was to do a single seater fighter ship similar to the Gladius. I wanted it to be for Aegis since that’s one of our beautiful manufactures in the game and I wanted the single seat fighter because it’s a little bit easier to do.
The course was 10 weeks long and most of these students, actually all the students had never done 3D concept before. So this was their first time, even for some of them first time using 3D and the first time creating something of their own in 3D, but overall the purpose of this was to get comfortable with designing a Star Citizen esc ship in 3D from scratch and I think everyone who turned in a final project did a really great job.
SG: And now it is time for this week’s MVP.
Ben the Envelope please!
BL: [Makes sounds]
SG: MVP award goes to… Ghost! Yay!
BL: Ah! A ghost!
SG: For his video, “What is Star Citizen”, the full explanation.
BL: It’s pretty much impossible to boil Star Citizen down to 18 minutes or so I would have thought, but Ghost does a pretty good job. Here’s a clip
Ghost: Chris Roberts started a company called Cloud Imperium Games and he announced that they were working on the space sim called Star Citizen. They started a kickstarter for it with the goal to raise 4 million dollars. By the end of 2012 they reached all stretch goals and raised 6.2 million dollars in crowdfunding alone which broke all crowdfunding record for a game at the time.
SG: Congratulations Ghost, you are this week’s MVP.
BL: Ahh, Raise the roof.
SG: And Now here’s your art Sneak peek.
[Misc Reliant Greybox of Pilot Chair]
BL: Be sure to turn in to Reverse the ‘Verse tomorrow at 11 am Pacific on Twitch. We’ll be answering your questions about Star Citizen. We’ll be talking about that Art Sneak Peek and we’ll be telling you what we had for lunch.
SG: Or what we didn’t have for lunch.
BL: yes, check it out … Tomorrow …
SG [Laughs]. And of course thank you to all of our subscribers for making this show possible. We will see you next week on Around the ‘Verse.
BL: Around the ‘Verse.
SG: It’s a low carb diet.