May 2

10 for the Developers: Episode 08

This post is a transcript of 10 for the Developers: Episode 08,  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 Developers: Episode 08 – Full Transcript

Intro

Forrest Stephan (FS): Hey how’s it going everybody? Thanks for joining myself, Forrest Stephan, CG Supervisor and Sean Tracy, Tech director, Content director, director of..

Sean Tracy (ST): Tech Content Director

FS: All things technical

ST: Yes

FS: So he’s gonna help us, help me answer some questions.

ST: Awesome

FS: We’ve got some great questions this week. I’d like to thank the subscribers for making this show possible because without you all, there’d be nothing for us to work on.

ST: No, no and we wouldn’t have this awesome platform to speak and explain all the stuff we’re doing behind the scenes to give them the best damn space sim ever.

FS: And to give progress on where we’re at because there’s so many things and so many moving parts happening at all times.

ST: Right.

FS: Alright I’m gonna go ahead and get started. Our first question is…

[1:14] Daz asks: Given that procedural planets are generated from a seed, if we go down to a planet and mine a location and it becomes depleted what happens after we leave? Is the planet permanently altered or would that location regenerate creating an area that we can constantly go back to and exploit?

ST: Well this is an awesome question. First things first, I just wanted to explain, I tend to end up answering a lot of questions related to the procedural planet stuff. The big brains that are really working on the procedural planet technology are all within Frankfurt. Guys like Marco Corbetta, Carsten Wensel, Sascha Hoba, Pascal Müller. They’re all working pretty much full time on the procedural planets.

We get a lot of oversight on them, we gotta blend them into the game where they’re working on the tech. Just consider that when I answer any questions regarding it, is that yeah I’m trying to represent as best as I can.

FT: Yeah. We just get to play with it, right?

ST: Pretty much.

FT: But they’re driving all the tech.

ST: That’s right. They’re driving everything that it goes through. To get to the actual question, it’s a really good question because, yes, the planets are generated from a seed but consider that our game is multiplayer. We can’t generate a different seed for every single player that goes down to the planet. Me and Forrest can’t be flying toward a planet. He sees a mountain. I don’t see a mountain. I end up flying through it…

FT: Right. Yeah.

ST: Or whatever. That’s going to already be kind of set in stone. So when we generate this planet originally, as a developer, yes we will have a seed. Once you seed as a player, you’re always going to see the same thing. Now when it comes down to actually permanently altering the surface of it… what’s likely to happen is that when we do mining, it’s going to be another object on top of the planet.

FT: Right.

ST: It’s not going to be the planet itself. No, you probably won’t alter the actual planet geometry itself, or any of the seeds related to it. You’ll alter a different object that’s placed on top of the planet. Just to give a really out there example, you’ve got a big block of ice, right? That big block of ice is sitting there on the planet. You fly down. You’re mining water out of the ice, let’s say. That ice disappears.

Now the question is, will that ice then regenerate? Well it’s a design question. It’s going to be up to the designers. There’s no technical reason why it can’t, but likely what’s gonna be happening is that we’ve got an area of ice, right?

FT: Right.

ST: So it’s gonna be a certain number of minerals within a certain, pretty large, area. You’re not gonna get the exact same ice block in the exact same position.

FT: I think that’s where the seed kicks in, right?

ST: Sure.

FT: You get the initial planet generated, but then the objects on the planet that you’re mining and stuff maybe they’ll have multiple seeds. So when it regenerates itself, if it regenerates itself, which I don’t see why not.

ST: Exactly.

FT: That would be… random.

ST: And that’s something that we want to control. It’s really important that we control the commodities within our world, so that the economy…

FT: Right. Which affects the economics of the whole thing.

ST: Exactly. That’s kind of a long answer to whether it regenerates or not. I would say no, it doesn’t actually regenerate, but it will be somewhere else. The seeds are all shared, so everybody will see the same thing.

FT: Exactly. Awesome.

[4:26] Tranton asks: Are there any new animations or physics effects that you have been working on and the challenges that you have encountered?

FS: There’s so much.

ST:  Right, there’s so much to do with animations and physics together…

FS: Where to begin.

ST: It’s a system that is completely interwoven. Evo Hertzig does a lot of work on this particular system, as well as a gentleman by the name of Chris Rahm. What we’ve been working on constantly is the zero G driven ragdoll kind of technology. This is pretty unique to our game and the driven ragdoll itself isn’t unique but the transition between animated character to driven ragdoll back and forth, back and forth and going within physics grids and things like this. There’s a lot of problems, and a lot of challenges that that brings. It might not be super obvious to the players, that we are working on things within there.
FS: Right.

ST:  From what they see, “Oh, yeah it all works.” There’s little things that we want to fix within that. So, the other sort of portion of this, that’s been very tricky actually to be working on, is the skeleton extension portion of this; has a little bit to do with the new item port system. What happens with the new item port system? You start as a base skeleton, then you add let’s say a head or helmet. That skeleton actually extends.

FS: Right.

ST: So we have a skeleton within the head that has a shared root. That actually extends as the  base skeleton. We then deal with that as a normal character. So, what’s tricky about that is that we’ve got to figure out a way, we’ve worked on it quite a bit last week before Evo went on holidays, to rebuild that physics skeleton without completely rebuilding it…

FS: Right.

ST: It’s one of the things that takes the longest time on the CPU. That is to then be synchronized to all the players.

FS: Right.

ST: So yeah, that’s kinda what we’re working on within there. We want that driven ragdoll to be affected. We want, as we add different skeleton extensions on, to extend the skeleton physically as well.

FS: Yeah. It’s just so much to think about. I mean…

ST: Absolutely.

FS:  You’re in one physics environment then when you enter a ship, you enter another physics environment, right? Then what happens if you’re ragdolling from one physics environment into the next physics environment. Then have you turning back into your regular animation.

ST: Exactly.

FS: There’s just so much to think about.

ST: The relative space of that moves so often. We have a World Space, the Local Grid Space, the Zone Space. So yeah, there’s a lot of transitioning between different, we call them partitioning grids.

FS: Right, it’s just so cool though. Alright, next question.

[6:56] Duke Dirty Work asks: The Orion mining ship has a larger laser for dissecting asteroids into smaller chunks. How do you implement a continuous beam weapon like that? Is it mostly animation while using an ultra high rate of fire and ultra low DPS? Or is it an actual beam?

ST: This is actually a really really good question. This comes up a lot in games where you’re gonna have a pulsed laser that’s really just a glorified machine gun or if you have a beam laser weapon and as everyone knows we don’t have a beam weapon within Star Citizen yet. We solved this problem on an earlier project that I had worked on, a little modding project called Mechwarrior: Living Legends. They weren’t continuous beams but they were there for quite some times so the problem you’ve got to solve is not necessarily having a long beam because we have different levels of ray casting we can do.

FS: But continuous segments where you know where to break the beam so you know where it stops when raycasting hits its location

ST: Exactly. That’s right because we’ve gotta show it somehow. We’ve gotta be able to one off the geometry so it looks good and second we’ve got to be able to change the length of that geometry. Now does it make sense to have one piece of geometry…

FS: That just draws until it hits a distance.

ST: That’s two kilometers long well think of the bounding box of something like this right? So that’s gonna cut out when you look away so that doesn’t work really well. So what we did on the Mech Warrior project is we had segments of lasers that would just be

[Draws lines with his hands that stack on top of each other]

FS: That just kept stacking on top throughout and then leaving and stopped

ST: Stacked on top, but then you’ve got other problems with that, that comes to do with draw calls so you’ve got one object, two draw calls, another object, two draw calls.

FS: What happens if they’re all one meter?

ST: Two objects, another draw call and if you’ve got 2000 meters of that.

FS: Kilometers or something, what happens.

ST: Exactly. So the best way to do something like this is not necessarily to have a continuous rate of fire, is to do that raycast, you do that ray check every couple seconds, every couple milliseconds, not every frame because there’s no reason to do it every frame, but to actually extend those verts you control the verts on the effect itself so it does the exact same length of that ray and then you grab those few verts and if you move it back, move it forward, move it back, move it forward.

FS: Just kind of already how our projectile system works currently. For those that don’t know, in the original trailer I made a bunch of particle effects and then I gave them damage and physics and all that stuff, but once we actually came out with Arena Commander and needed a more sophisticated solution to support networking and all this stuff right. We decided to switch from just a particle effect over to a cylinder, a capsule and then that capsule that would draw and shrink depending on its velocity and all these effects and then we would attach a particle effect on top of that including with an additional glow shader. So we rendered the capsules as type of glow which we have all these shader effects on it, then we can also attach a particle effect on top of that for additional effects and then the verts actually can move and stuff.

That’s gonna be a super fun gameplay trick, I’m really looking forward to that.

ST: It’s gonna be a neat effect yeah and actually what’s really cool is we already got all the actual weapon fire, weapon type, we’ve got that all in place, all the code in place and it’s really a matter of having the visuals that come alongside it. There’ll be cool things like when we have scrap or when you’re trying to pull out minerals and things like that from a ship.

FS: Right.

ST: When you’re trying to get… We’re calling it scrap or something like this?

FS: Yeah

ST:  But we’re gonna need a beam weapon for that.

FS: Yup.

ST: We’re gonna need some sort of beam for repair. We’re gonna need some sort of beam for mining, so we need this beams anyways and again the game code is pretty much done for that, we just need a nice effect so that’s kind of next up for some of the VFX guys.
FS: Yup, alright. So that’s gonna be… I’m looking forward to what the team comes up with that one because we’re getting close I think.

[10:57] Duke Dirty Work asks: Will planets have variant biomes and/or weather regions or will each planet be uniform? Do you think current procedural tech will be capable of generating flora and fauna at a fidelity close enough to the art you are producing?

ST: That’s a great question. There’s actually two questions within here. Right?

FS: Yeah. Yeah.

ST: So the first one that I want to deal with is, “Will planets have variant biomes?” Of course! We have to. Otherwise you’re gonna end up with planets that all looked rocky.

FS: Yeah.

ST: Planets that all looked frozen. Planets that all look…and we’ve got some of the best atmosphere technology that I’ve ever seen.

FS: Oh it’s incredible.

ST: It’s absolutely phenomenal.

FS: Yeah.

ST: We’ve got… I don’t know how much we’re talking about this yet, but we’ve solved all kinds of lighting challenges, let’s say. Thing like GI on the planets. There’s some good solutions already in place. I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t have variant biomes. Now if he’s talking about variant biomes within the planet itself. You’ve got a planet, up north is going to be the polar icecap…

FS: Yeah, yeah, and down…

ST: On the south is gonna be polar icecaps. In the middle, does it get warmer and stuff like this?

FS: Yup. Desert or something, who knows.

ST: Absolutely! There’s no reason we can’t do this. Weather regions is a bit of a different story. That’s a lot harder, because sure we can do all levels of code. We know where you are on the planet, we know what sector you’re in, what’s around you. But how do we communicate that over to the player?

FS: And how deep do you go with the design? Do you have it where, when you go to that location that it’s always raining?

ST: Exactly! Or is there a hurricane?

FS: Or do you do it where there’s actually some kind of weather happen? I think there’s a lot of…

ST: Right, right.

FS: Things to solve with the weather.

ST: To give you guys an idea, these are the things that we’re thinking about. The fidelity of our planets are gonna be such that you’ve not seen this before. There’s no question.

FS: Right. Oh absolutely. I’ve seen it, it’s awesome.

ST: Now whether you have moving weather and things like that on it? That’s a problem that we’re not yet ready to solve. They’re already taking a look at it, things like volumetric clouds and all this kind of stuff, to have moving weather patterns and things like that within the planet?

FS: Yeah.

ST: That will be something for another time, I think. I do think that that’s gonna be one of the pieces we wanna do.

FS: Yeah, eventually.

ST: I think it would be amazing. So the second piece of this question is, do I think that the current procedural tech will be capable of generating the flora and fauna…

FS: Right.

ST: At the fidelity that we are? Yeah. Absolutely, that’s the goal.

FS: Yeah. Because the art is still making the assets. So the fidelity will be there, right? It’s just a matter of this procedural tech deciding where to populate the plants and the animals. Right?

ST: Right.

FS: I don’t see any reason that we can’t have the same visual fidelity that we have for the rest of the game.

ST: That’s the drive, that’s the direction, right?

FS: Yeah.

ST: All of us have worked on. We’ve all worked on little levels that have been hand authored so much.

FS: Yup.

ST: Our goal with this whole system is to be able to make an entire world at that same level of fidelity. We want to have trees that look like Crysis. We want to have…

FS: Yup.

ST: We want to have animals and things like that within them. Absolutely we want them to be at that exact same fidelity.

FS: It’s just…

ST: And do I think it’s possible? Absolutely.

FS: I think so too.

ST: With most of the stuff that we’ve seen in the last little while? Absolutely.

FS: Just have to be smart about how you author your art. As long as you go for a very technical, practical approach and optimized approach. I think that’s really quite possible.

ST: No, and that’s it. To be honest too, the other thing with it is generating forests, trees, even animals and things like that. Getting them all placed on the planet is difficult yes, but there’s harder types of planets to do.

FS: Yeah.

ST: One of the more difficult, and you’ve worked on things around this, is like procedural city-type planet. What then do we do and how do we keep it at that fidelity for a planet that’s covered in an entire city?

FS; Yeah.

ST: That’s a lot trickier, I think anyway.

FS: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s just a matter of you just making everything as modular as possible and then who knows what you could do …

ST: Exactly.

FS: With the right game play code.

ST: I hope that answered the question. I know we’re being a bit obtuse, but it’s only because we want to be able to show you.

FS: Well, we haven’t gone into a lot of things… yeah, yeah.

ST: Yeah. Before we get too …

FS: They’re all happening. It’s all a moving product. Alright, now we’re going to get into a more difficult question, and a long one so stay with me.

[15:21] Oberscht asks: With localized physics grids being in the game, have you ever considered using them for more unorthodox means- for example, space ships or stations with varying directions of gravity? I’d be thinking of something like circular space stations, or space stations where the ground just ‘continues’ up a wall(Inception style),or space ships where on one deck the direction of gravity would point outwards, so the hull would act as the floor. How cool would it be to look up and see people ‘hanging’ from the ceiling doing their normal business? Speaking of circular gravity, are planets going to be basically enormous localized physics grids, or is there more to them? If so, can you explain a bit about how they’re going to work in that regard?

ST: Alright so these guys are always sneaking two questions in aren’t they? There’s like a main one, but oh by the way,

FS: 20 for the Developers.

ST: Procedural planet something right? No and it’s cool, I’m so..

FS: It’s such a cool question, you can see why it spawns more questions because..

ST: Yeah I’m super happy that everybody is so into the planets because that’s gonna be such a huge unique point to Star Citizen anyways.

FS: Right

ST: So the first question really is about localized physics grids and using them in a more unorthodox way. We’ve done this internally a lot actually.

FS: Yup

ST: You can have a lot of fun with the physics grid. Doing a circular space station is very much possible so that way you can have a localized direction of gravity all throughout the localized physics grid which is quite cool. The other thing, again this is something Chris Reign had worked a lot on is that we’ve got a sparse voxel representation of the physics grid meaning we can shape it how we want. We give the system a model and it gets as close as possible to this particular piece of geometry. Now the higher poly the geometry is, the more expensive, the more difficult that check is to make, but absolutely we’ve done this kind of stuff internally.

FS: We’ve even messed with magnetic boots.

ST: Grav boots, yup.

FS: So, yeah.

ST: I think we actually took them out of the build for a little while because the animations looked so weird on them

FS: Yeah, yeah, but that’s the thing…

ST: We’ll be putting those right back in. So not only will you have the localized physics of say, just like he’s talking about like a circular space station or something like this, but you’ll also be able to magnetically connect yourself via your magboots or whatever.

FS: Which is probably super helpful…

ST: To pretty much..

FS: On the outside of the ship right? To get around, especially for the bigger ships.

ST: Sure, totally. It’s also kind of fun.

FS: Yeah it’s super fun.

ST: I mean it’s a neat thing to mess around with, just like he says somebody is going about their day to day business and they’re hanging upside down from you or something like this.

FS: Yeah, yeah.

ST: But yeah that technology lets us do all this kind of work. Speaking of circular gravities, are planets going to be based basically enormous localized physics grids or is there something more to them. There’s a lot more to the planets. One of the tricky parts again and I think I talked about this in another 10 for the Developers is that we can’t possibly store every single piece of physics collision on the server all the time, right?

FS: Right

ST: So this is something that we’ve gotta generate on the client side at runtime somehow. So there not big physics grids essentially. They have their own gravity, it’s completely implemented independently of a physics grid. Uses the same concept I suppose, but it’s not a physics grid entirely. It would be far too large and it’s not even close to a granular as what we even need.

FS: It’s different than when you enter a ship for example right where you setup your boxes and everything.

ST: Exactly, it’s very, very different. Again if you think about it right? You’ve got a very different shape, you’ve got a sphere and everything’s gotta be a local gravity.

FS: To the centre.

ST: To the center of the sphere whereas in a local physics grid it’s kind of defined. It’s either a box or you can eve do a circle.

FS: It’s a box, this is the gravity, this is the ground.

ST: And then everything is going in that direction, but yeah it’s a little more difficult to do on a planetary scale, but it’s not a big physics grid, it’s… not to be condescending at all it’s a lot more complicated unfortunately than that. I wish it was easy enough as making a big physics grid, but that wouldn’t really work for what we need.

FS: No, definitely not.

[19:25] ArmoredCitizen asks: What sort of navigation can we expect for planets? Maps? GPS? Beacons

FS: That’s asked by ArmoredCitizen.

ST: That’s a cool name.

FS: I’d imagine probably all of the above, right?

ST: Yeah, we’re going to need all of the above. Like, I consider maps and GPS to be kind of the same things. GPS is just a function within a map..

FS: Yeah.

ST: Right, so it’s just telling where you are within these maps. Beacons, absolutely. So, you guys get an idea, we are working on all the gameplay related to this. The first step of that gameplay, it’s something I showed in the procedural planet tech demo.

FS: Right.

ST: Is the approach. I mean, if landing is going to take you thirty, thirty-five minutes. We looked up how long an actual transition for earth landings..

FS: Yeah.

ST: How long atmosphere to ground really takes. It takes a long time. If we make it take that exact same amount of time.

FS: Oh!

ST: You’re going to land one time, and you’ll never do it again.

FS: You’re gonna be over it.

ST: You’re gonna need a half-hour of gameplay just to get to down to the planet’s surface.

FS: Yeah.

ST: So that won’t really work out. So one of the things we’re working on is the Quantum Travel Beacons.Where you end up close to the planet enough that you can land within a reasonable amount of time.

FS: Right.

ST: How many beacons we put on, whether that’s automatic…

ST: Whether you manually do this all yourself, since it’s all completely seamless, of course we want it to be manual. We also don’t want it to take so long to do that you’ll never want to do it.

FS: Right, then it becomes a hinderance to your gameplay.

ST: Exactly! So then once you get on the planet right. We need some level of…

FS: Where are you?

ST: A Global Map.

FS: Isn’t that the hardest thing? It’s huge.

ST: Totally, it’s huge.

FS: Even when you’re working on it.

ST: Yes.

FS: You get lost sometimes. Like “Where am I right now”?

ST: Yeah, and I put my own beacons in there sometimes.

FS: Just so you can navigate around.

ST: Right, so we’re gonna need all these.We’ve talked a lot about this. Really, what it’s going to come down to, is our first gameplay implementation of all of it.

FS: Yeah.

ST: Which is happening as we speak.

FS: Right.

ST: This is something that we’re working on internally. I don’t know when you’re going to see it. We’re basically solving all these problems right now. As simple as, you’re in zero G in your ship and you transition into gravity.

FS: Right.

ST: Where the planet has local gravity.

FS: Right.

ST: You’ve got physics and everything. So how does the ship flight change?

FS: Right.

ST: How does it feel? Is it fun? That’s really what matters. Once we get there, then you will be getting your maps, GPS, beacons.

FS: Yeah.

ST: Things like this. I expect that you’ll have that…

FS: Your map changes too. You go from space, where there is no ground.

ST: Yeah and it’s all 3D. A 3D map..

FS: …Now you do have a horizon…

ST:: ..Versus a 2D representation of where I am. Yeah exactly…

[21:58] Drugh asks: Which upcoming feature gives you the biggest headache so far? Which will probably be the hardest nut to crack, except the new item system.

ST: Are you serious?

FS: Except the new item system

ST:  He put that in there, the guy new, the guy new, he’s like they’re gonna answer item port system.

FS: Of course it’s the new item system

ST: So I wonder is the guy’s name Drew or Drug? Or Droogah?

FS: Druh, Drew, Druff

ST Druff.

FS: I don’t know, I can barely read.

ST: Awful. Okay so which feature beyond Item Port because the Item Port one is really tricky and yeah I’m trying to answer with the Item port.

FS: Well I’m just gonna go ahead and do it. It’s the Item Port system and we can go into other things, but I’m gonna talk about it anyways because it is the biggest headache so far because we’re working on it all the time and you’re working on it constantly.

ST: Mhm.

FS: So the biggest thing that we’re dealing with right is all the characters for example are going through a major transitional phase. They’re going from what, CryTek uses CDF’s which is a type of XML where you tie all your items together, into a sophisticated item port system.

ST: Yup.

FS: And you’ve currently been working with Engineers on building this tool and so now we’re going to be able to build characters as items with this new item port system which is super helpful, but at the same time it’s difficult because you’re trying to support everything that’s previously existed because you don’t want to break everything for design.

ST: Exactly.

FS: Cinematics, but yet you want to push forward and use the new tech so like it’s difficult to support both, but you do have to make the transition.

ST: Yeah, it’s one of those infamous problems where you’ve done everything right when you have exactly what you started with.

FS: Right.

ST: Which seems to make no sense. So visually right and Forrest hits the nail on the head with this one. Again the CDF setup was great for Crytek, it’s really hard to maintain hundreds of characters with that sort of system. The other thing that didn’t work for us on a coding… programming side is every independent piece of the character, actually needs some component code to go with it.

FS: And it needs persistence, right?

ST: And it needs persistence, exactly. So because of the new item layout we can actually have different code running, different functions running on different pieces of the character itself rather than you being one character as a whole, you’re actually a collection of a lot of different gameplay components that are being updated differently than other things. We kind of didn’t really answer is question except the new item system.

FS: Yeah and..

ST: Beyond the new item system, what else hurts us? Like the character one is a hard one.

I would honestly say just the full scale because we’re’ doing the full scale solar systems now and that’s something that I really think is gonna end up out to the community sooner rather than later, is the full size solar system itself. I think that’s gonna be the hardest nut to crack. We’ve already got all the support in it, but it’s all the extraneous stuff that we haven’t thought of yet or haven’t even seen. So we’ve got QA starting to run it through these full scale tests and then not only will we have full scale, but likely at some… I don’t know if it’s gonna be at the same time, I’d like to see this happen all to together, is we put one of the “procedural” planets within there.

FS: Right.

ST: Now I call it “Procedural”, it’s gonna be the designer controlled planet. So we put one of the planets into the full solar system scale and then we see all the problem that, that brings.

FS: Yup

ST:  Right and then we’ve got to start fixing these..

FS: We’re combining these fulls systems or full solar systems with procedural planets,

ST: Exactly.

FS: With the player customization and the backend.

ST: Yup.

FS: The persistence so your character is your character going forward and all these things come together which are all 100% necessary for  this project.

ST: But how awesome will that be because that is the last piece.

FS: But how great is it gonna be because that’s really.. We’ve done so much of the development for art and the content and figuring this stuff out.

ST: Sure we’re always doing a smaller scale version right, smaller scale and this is finally everything.

FS: And this is what brings it together right? It takes all these things we’ve been working on these past couple years and finally puts these final pieces together.

ST: Exactly. So it’s Large world, item port, planets working.

FS: It’s super exciting, but like anything we know it won’t be easy, it will be a headache and it will be difficult, but we will achieve it and it will be conquered and it will be awesome, but you know there will be problems.

ST: But yeah you guys will see this sooner rather than later.

FS: Oh for sure yeah.

ST: Because we’re doing the testing now.

FS: We’re doing the testing now,  Awesome. Any chance.. How did they know about that new item system, I wanna ask, I’m gonna ask you first.

ST: I bet you Chris talks about it all the time.

FS: You think this is one of our internal employees asking this question just to mess with us?

ST: Oh you think so?

FS: Maybe? I would think so.

ST: Probably… except the new people.

FS: Here’s another internal question, potentially, no I’m just joking..

[26:47] Solaias asks: Any chance you could give an update on the female model(s)? What has caused them to be held up for so long after the male model was released? What are the current issues that stop the model(s) from being available in the ‘Verse?

ST: So, I can blame all kinds of departments… I mean Steve will be super happy… so Steve Bender right now is in Frankfurt, you know my partner in crime there. We all have an office that is also shared so I’m going to blame Steve on this one. Would I say animations is behind, no and that’s not really the problem actually, we’ve had…

FS: There’s a lot of hurdles.

ST: A couple different things on the mesh that I’ll let Forrest answer on the animation technology side. What we really want is a completely finished male. That doesn’t mean mesh, that doesn’t mean necessarily like outfits and things like that, what it means is everything to do with animation. So, we’ve got most of it, right. We’ve got a lot of first person stuff, holding weapons, we’ve got cover, we finally now got mantling and vaulting. So basically once mantling,vaulting, cover, locomotion, ships, what else am I missing, I’m missing something and AI sort of interactions anyways.

Once those are all done for now, then we can basically just plunk a female into it. There’s a technical implementation side of this where we actually have to plug a whole bunch of stuff within ManneQuin, if any of the asset names are different between the male and the female, and sometimes we’ve done this, that’s going to cause some problems within ManneQuin. We actually want to use the exact same logic that a male does to the female cause we don’t want to be fixing two different bugs first of all…

FS: Here’s the thing right, exactly we don’t want to make the same mistake twice and we don’t want to make the same mistake in parallel with each other…

ST: That’s it.

FS: The one thing we are doing is we’re figuring out every single thing that goes right and goes wrong and figuring out our complete process and then taking the female character and having a much smoother transition and making sure that everything works properly with everything we’ve learned from the male character.

ST: Exactly. Then that way a female implementation is easy, it doesn’t take us nearly as much time because a lot of it is, ‘oh, how did we do the male. Ok, let’s do it the same’. So, that’s what’s going to solve all our problems for that. The other thing that this gives us a huge benefit for is the Vanduul, it’s going to be the exact same process. So, once that male is completely locked down for the Squadron 42 aspect of it, vaulting, mantling and all the animation… then females, you know, it’s not done but we got all the assets, it’s just a matter of plugging it in.

FS: Yeah, we’re still doing some polish to the actual female herself, the body, you know we want to make sure that that’s correct…

ST: Should we talk about her 4K nether region texture…

FS: Never outsource…

ST: So, that was interesting…

FS: Never outsource characters.

ST: Yeah, if you outsource characters, just be prepared to get stuff back you might not be expecting.

FS: You never know what you’re going to get.

ST: They don’t want me to talk about it but a 4K nether region I think you can figure out what that means. 4K texture for that… just don’t get it.

FS: Then there’s obviously the rigs and everything you’ve got to solve but the female model is coming along and I’m personally very excited to have it. We’ve already had some clothing made for it, we want to get that and I think that’s going to fall under the customization too. We had to figure out how the players are going to be able to customize themselves with all their items and stuff, and the male had a series of clothes already so we were able to tackle that challenge and figure it out and now we can move onto the female. So, super excited that is coming very soon.

ST: Right, and just to give you a full, sort of, look on this…the females we’ve already got them locomoting around, we’ve got a bunch within Squadron 42 that are specific to Squadron 42 so they all work. It’s just a matter of you not having seen them within the persistent universe yet because when we give them to you, we want to have customization as you said, we want to have all the same outfits as the male. We basically don’t want to take anything away from the female, right.

FS: Then there’s the whole, we have all our heads, right. So we’ve been solving, you have your body then you have these head scans, how do the head scans fit on the body, match it with the topology, the skin tone…

ST: You’ve got to match up the skin tone.

FS: Which is a whole…which is a challenge. So, there’s just a lot of things we got to do one step at a time to make sure we don’t make the same mistake twice. It’s as efficient as possible.

ST: Yeah, when they come online they’ll be fully featured so we won’t just kind of build them out slowly, they’ll just be…

FS: Yeah, exactly.    

[31:25] BaconoofWar asks: Will there be ‘Barber shops’ in game or places to alter our character’s appearance for aesthetic purposes or in an expanded capacity a not so legal purpose?

FS: That sounds shady…

ST: Yeah, not so legal purpose so is that like a?

FS: Change your appearance so you can get away with a crime

ST: Yeah, right or is that like? I don’t know..

FS: I think there will be… We’ve been working a lot on hair recently, that’s been a big topic because no matter how great your head scans look, you still need hair.

ST: And that’s our biggest problem right? The current hair that we had worked on and even some of the tech we’re fighting with a bit is that’s what’s bringing, not down, lowering the quality, bringing down the heads a little bit. You take a look at the head, you take a look at the face texture and we’ve got the crazy winkles, we’ve got pore mapping, we’ve got all this crazy stuff and then you’ve got a current gen looking hair

FS: Hair which has some alpha test on it.

ST: Exactly.

FS: With maybe some directional mapset. There’s a lot of elements still missing right? You can get that nice rim lighting.

ST: Right, right.

FS: I’m sure we’ve all seen the Paragon demo where they have all the hair strands and stuff.

ST: Well they’ve got this awesome spine stuff which looks just amazing, I love the look of that and we’re always checking that stuff out.

FS: You always want all this tech, but you still have to commit to where you’re at and work with the tools you have.

ST: Right

FS: To get it done and further down the roadmap you can always try to stay on top of what everybody else is doing and keep to the same technical standards that the rest of the games have.

ST: Yeah, right, and same visual standards really right? I mean we’ve gotta be one of the best games out there and we don’t want to give you any old technologies kind’ve the thing and we don’t want to make the faces we spent so long on look worse.

FS: Yeah.

ST: So the actual question is: Are there gonna be barbershops? That’s a design question, I have no idea about barbershops. What I do know is that you’ll be modifying your face in a medical facility of some sort.

FS: Yeah like reconstructive surgery.

ST: So whether you’re doing your hair at the same time, that’s a great question, probably?

FS: I would say so.

ST: I would guess.

FS: I would imagine anything that has to do with the head in general.

ST: With your face so facial hair or whatever else so I guess you have to get plastic surgery to shave.

FS: Maybe

ST: Fair enough. I mean yeah, we are in LA

FS: We’ll see what… [Laughs]

ST: Pretty normal. There’s a lot of problems to solve with the hair like Forrest was saying. Even down to just having different head sizes. I mean all the heads are a different size so how do you stop yourself from making every single haircut for every single head.

FS: So if I have one haircut made for one head, but obviously when you’re customizing your character you’re gonna want to have access to all the different hairs.

ST: Pull all the different hairs.

FS: But what if you chose NPC shaped head 9 as opposed to NPC shape 55.

ST: Exactly.

FS: Or even if you controlled it through a modifier or something or blend shape whatever we’re gonna end up doing. How do you make sure that the hair stays attached to the head when the head changes size?

ST: That’s the thing and those are problems that we’re solving and they give you an idea of that particular one. How we want to do this is that we have an actual scalp map, we hold all the morph targets for every single head within the scalp map, or we keep offsets of every single joint that we need to offset when we’re customizing the face so we only make one model that contains all the morph targets for every single head and then the hair cards on top of that, those are going to have to move around.

FS: And we’ve kind’ve started to play around with it. We realized very early, eyelashes for example right?

ST: Oh that’s a good one

FS: You make eyelashes and then you’re like “Wait a minute, everyone has a slightly different size socket in the head”, so how do you make… You can’t just make.. We have 120 different heads, you can just make one set of eyelashes to fit all the eye shapes right so all of a sudden you have to figure out, that’s where our technical animators come in.

ST: Yeah the technical art team, we’ve got a really awesome technical art team and one of the things that our team is the best at and I say this and I’m super proud of the guys for being able to always do this is these massive script updates that will affect all the assets together. So one of the hardest things about this game is the sheer scope of it right? Like “How many heads we’ve got?” “We’ve got over 100 heads. “How many character bodies do we got?”, we’ve got hundreds of these. You can’t go in “manually open up my tweak one, close it, save, manually open up my, close it, save”. It would take you all year, but we’ve got like Mark Mccall, John Rigs, Gauge, Matt Intrieri writing these scripts that are a batch process to it.

So to give you an example, Mark Mccall made the eyelashes right? So one thing we don’t get delivered eyelashes with the face is, it’s a problem because they look pretty funny with eyelashes, especially females right? So what he’s done is he actually has a script that builds the eyelash geometry. Not only does it build the eyelash geometry, but it checks the head that’s it’s working on, builds the geometry, skins it on, exports the process; puts it into a CDF and it’s done.

FS: Because that’s how you manage it right because you want to have your artists spend your time on eyelashes because if you could have them spend time on one eyelash, they’re gonna look really good. If they have to spend their time on 120 eyelashes, you’re gonna have a very low quality set of eyelashes.

ST: Right and you’re gonna have an artist that wants to kill themselves by the end of it.

FS: And we have this visual bar, yeah totally. So you want to have artists concentrate on single elements and then you have your technical artist populate those single elements in a very smart approach to save the labour time so we can concentrate on the visual fidelity and not the art labour.

ST: The actual labour of it, Sure. This is where bugs come from. So to give you guys an idea, asset bugs, this is usually what happens. So you’ll do a batch process like this, you have to spot check a whole bunch of them, maybe have QA check every single one of them, but you’ll spot check a couple and then there’ll be one that didn’t one correctly or one that somebody’s PC lagged out for a half a second or whatever, I mean this is where the asset bugs come from. It’s not like somebody was sitting there, they looked at it, it’s whatever the face is exploded and they’re like “Yeah that’s good” and they go an export it. It’s usually something that somebody hasn’t actually physically touched.

FS: Yeah, yeah totally.

ST: Cool.

FS: Alright, cool, we’ve got one more question..

[37:36] Fallun asks: Just curious about how procedural generation will work on planets with large bodies of waters(oceans?) and how will that effect performance? Is is hard to render so much water or easier on the side of the player? Also: Space whales?!

FS: Excellent question.

ST: Space whales, I love it.

FS: I don’t know about space whales, but I do know working with oceans in the patch, it’s shader driven?

ST: Yup.

FS: So I think that it is achievable without killing performance.

ST: Absolutely and again, Carsten Wenzel is one of the… He’s unsung, he’s very quiet unless he’s very angry, but he’s written white papers for the engine, he’s been there from the get go and he’s actually working within this. He’s actually training one of our junior programmers to do this particular implementation. So him and a gentleman by the name of Tiago who went ID software I believe and worked on Doom, worked on our oceans originally within the CryEngine. I think I can go out on a limb and say the oceans within the CryEngine were one of the best features within the engine.

FS: They’re amazing, it’s incredible.

ST: We had scattering through the waves, all this crazy stuff that eventually…

FS: When you go underwater, the volumetrics, it’s just gorgeous.

ST: Exactly. So I think you can expect at least that level of fidelity, but what’s tricky again about water is how, first of all the highlight changes at a distance. So when you’re approaching a planet, the planet has got to react very differently, specularity wise to the surface first of all.

FS: Well the furnell is just..

ST: Exactly. Then when you get up close, you want to see waves, but you don’t want to see it tiling everywhere, so we’ve got this real big scale problem that we’re going to have to deal with, dynamic tessellation on this stuff, being able to have displaced waves and things like this and then additionally if we want to go underwater, which a ship to design should be able to do, right? Lets hope the design says ships are submarines also. To me, if a ship can go into outer space, it can go underwater right? I think it should be able to go underwater, but whatever, we’ll see how that goes with the design in terms of that design thing. I think that’s should happen.

ST: If you go underwater, space whales indeed.

FS: I’m going to have a task when I get back to my desk to make sure the jet pack supports underwater as well.

ST: Oh! That’s a good point, right. What a Pandora’s box right, cause you get under, you open the back of the Cutlass and what happens, right. Shouldn’t the water flow in, right, but with the local physics grid like pushing water out, I don’t know. There’s all sorts of crazy…

Tom Hennessy: A submarine though is built to withstand the extreme weight and pressure that the water puts on it and I don’t think a ship needs to withstand the same amount of pressure in outer space.

ST: Yeah, I’m not sure, wouldn’t you think a missile hitting the side of your has a lot of pressure?

TH: I feel like a missile hitting the side of your ship is close enough.

ST: Right, I don’t know, anyways.

TH: I don’t know, I’m just saying. When J.J Abrams did it to the enterprise, I think it was kind of dumb.

ST: What? Put it underwater?

TH: Yeah.

ST: Oh I think it was fine, it’s got shields, shields!

FS: Are you talking about Voyager home?

TH: No the one where.

FS: Isn’t Voyager home, it’s underwater?

TH: No.

FS: No?

TH: No.

ST: Oh that shot, that shot when he’s coming out of the water.

TH: The new Star Trek with that J.J Abrams did where the Enterprise is hiding underwater

ST: And then it comes out of it.

TH: Yeah it was cool, but it didn’t make any sense.

ST: [Laughs] But it didn’t make any sense, fair enough.

TH: Anyways, sorry.

FS: Can ships go underwater if the Enterprise can do it.

ST: Who knows

FS: No [Laughs]

ST: Yeah right and again this will be a design debate and as you see there’s a couple different mindsets. I’m sure all the players are gonna go “Ya, Absolutely they need to go underwater” because that will be more fun.

FS: Then other people will be like “No! Finish the game!”.

ST: Nah we can do a hunt for Red October things

FS: I’m more interesting in the space whales personally.

ST: And the Space Whales.

FS: [Whale noises]

ST: We talked a little bit earlier in a question about Fauna anyways so space whales, megafauna, I think we’re gonna have to support something like this. Whether it’s whales or big big things on the ground, walking around.. Yeah sure, space whales, let’s do it. You heard it here.

[Tom claps in the background]

ST: So that pretty much pushes Chris into a corner right?

FS: Do you want to hear my space whale joke?

ST: Oh yeah, I do.

FS: So a space whale walks into a bar and he sits down next to another space whale and the space whale goes [Whale noises] [Whale noise intensifies] and then the space whale looks over and goes… You are wasted…

ST: [Laughs] You’re wasted! Awesome.

Outro

FS: All right, thank you for coming for another episode of 10 for the Developer’s, Sean Tracy, Forrest Stephan. We’d like to thank the subscribers over, over and over again because we love you and again without you we would not be here so thank you so much for everything and your contributions and we’re going to get back to work and keep making this game for you.

ST: Yeah, we’ll get the females done right now, let’s go do it.

FS: And the space whales. Thank you so much.

ST: Alright, thanks guys.

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1 comment

  1. Grizz-WarMace

    [Whale noise intensifies]
    I laughed so hard reading this, thanks for the transcript.

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