This post is a transcript of 10 for the Chairman: Episode 85, material that is the intellectual property of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) and it’s subsidiaries. INN is a Star Citizen fansite and is not officially affiliated with CIG, but we reprint their materials with permission as a service to the community. INN edits our transcripts for the purpose of making the various show participants easier to understand in writing. Enjoy!
10 for the Chairman: Episode 85 – Full Transcript
Chris Roberts (CR): Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of 10 for the Chairman. There’s been a bit of a break because I’ve been over in Europe mostly doing Squadron 42 stuff, but also stuff to do with our engine and procedural planet stuff over in Germany and now I’m back in LA for a couple of weeks enjoying the nice weather here in Santa Monica and being home for a few weeks before heading back in a very short order back to Europe.
So anyways, good to be here in front of the camera, it’s been a while so hopefully you guys have missed me a bit, we’ll see and I’m here gonna answer 10 what we call 10 for the Chairman where we take 10 questions from the subscribers out there. The subscribers are a subset of our community that contribute money every month to allow us to do additional sort of content, community driven content, so the video shows, this show, Around the ‘Verse, Bug Smashers, all that kind of stuff.
As well as we do this monthly magazine called Jump Point that is usually somewhere between 50 and 70 pages that has behind the scenes sort of break down of say how we maybe designed or built a ship, game systems that we’re working on, lore updates so focuses on different companies or systems inside the universe of Star Citizen and it’s a really great read and then there’s other elements that we reward subscribers for helping support us doing the enhanced community content that we do for all you guys which I think it’s great, it’s one of the special things that makes Star CItizen unique.
The fact that we put all this effort and are able to share a lot of what we’re doing on a weekly basis with you guys. My opinion it’s more than I’ve see anyone else really do at this level so thank you for supporting and that’s why I take the 10 questions and that kind of stuff. By the way here’s a nice little coffee cappuccino cups that we have here and we had… I was going to show you some really great coasters, speaking off coffee and hot drinks, which is from Anarez industries, aka Anarez, aka me, so I don’t know if he wants his name read out on the show, but he sent these awesome coasters, so awesome actually that Erin, my Brother who just left this morning, earlier this week said “Yeah oh I like these, I’ll take these” and I thought he was joking, but then when I went looking for them for the show, they’re missing. So all I have left is this little nice, kind of rocketship. I would say it’s kind of like a tea cozy, but not really a tea cozy. Anyway thank you Anarez, they’re really cool and infact so cool my brother stole them from me.
Now lets see, we’ve got some other stuff here which is kind of some of our new patches, kind of cool, they were threatening to sow this on my black shirt here, but there you go. So anyway I was going to have more cool stuff to show you, but like I said Erin stole it. So let’s get to the questions and get going from there.
[3:42] Deathstroke asks: We have recently been told that Drake ships do not have ejection seats. Can you settle a big debate: how does this square with the perma-death concepts envisioned in ‘Death of a Spaceman’?
On the Drake side, one of the ideas is Drake ships are … we envision them a little like the Russian military hardware where it’s like very rugged, it’s functional, but doesn’t have a lot of extra bells and whistles, say like the US military equipment would do. And so one of the things that generally you wouldn’t necessarily get on a Drake ship would be all the extra stuff like the ejection seat, especially in something like the Cutlass but even more recently the Buccaneer. And that enables them to have … to deliver value elsewhere like in … better value for your money in terms of the weapons you get for the price and all the rest of the stuff.
In terms of “Death of a Spaceman” I mean the thing to remember about “Death of a Spaceman” is that even though say your … you get blown up … like if your ship … if you’re in the ship and it gets blown up that doesn’t mean that you’re dead instantly because the way we look at the game is it is lives that you have. So you … essentially if you eject, potentially you’ll get in an escape pod, you can get out there and you … potentially you can save your life. But any one of your characters before you move on to your next … you have to move … you put your old character away and move on to your new one which, whether it would be a designated next-of-kin or a whole new character you decide you want to move to, in that particular case you’ll have quite a few opportunities … you’ll have more than one case where you “die” so to speak in space and then you’ll wake up in the med bay and they’ve patched you up and then you’ll only be able to do that so many times before obviously your body will give out. And that’s kind of the idea of “Death of a Spaceman”. It’s like taking a bit of the “life” mechanic from the gold old days of early game design and that’s the number of times you can be brought back by modern medical technology and then after that you have to … your old character is passed away and you move onto a new character.
So obviously it is a little bit more risky in a Drake ship than say a ship that has something like an ejection seat. Although you are able to get out of … whether it’s the Cutlass or whether it’s even a Buccaneer, you should be able to get out just like you can get out and EVA out of certain ships like the Hornet and stuff. It’s just a matter of you may not be able to get out quite a quickly so you’ll just have to be aware of that but I think the people that fly Drake ships are so good they don’t need to to always have to eject. Back in World War I they didn’t give some of the airmen parachutes because they should be so good they didn’t need to actually parachute out. I think that would probably be how we would think … a Drake pilot would think of themselves as.
So there you are. I hope that kind of answered the question. But we do definitely want to have this sense of different design criteria between our different ships. And so some ones are got more frills and more features but then they cost more. Some have less and so in some ways could be considered better value for money, easier to replace or easier to fix and that would definitely be Drake.
Next question comes from Gloien Hill.
[7:12] Gloien Hill asks: We are a Belgian/French organization and are really big fans of your work. Several members would like to visit this year’s Gamescon in Germany and we know there will be a stand of Star Citizen. The question is, could we expect some kind of event or is nothing planned during Gamescon?
So in this Gamescom we’re not doing the huge event that we did the last few Gamescoms. We had the venue where we could put about 2000 people joining. So for this year there was some like issue in lining up the venue we wanted to use and obviously if you remember last year it was pretty hot and we were quite worried about the fact that it was getting too hot and whether we… lucky we didn’t really have any issues, but we were kind of worried about people’s health and safety because it was so packed and it was so hot, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be doing things during Gamescom this year. So we’re definitely gonna have several pop up events so if you guys remember the last few years we’ve done this big garden event which we’ve done in the parkiates big garden out front by the river and I’m sure we’ll doing something like that again.
As well as one or two other events. I know the community team have been sort of talking about having these pop up events and we’re also going to have a much more involved stand on the show floor than last year. So we’re going to have a kind of fun themed space and we’ll have people on hand that will be showing and talking various parts of the the game. We’ll probably be showing and teasing some new stuff that’s going to be coming up. We’re definitely going to be showing some cool stuff at Gamescom to press and we’ll probably have some element of that shown on the show floor as well as allowing people to get hands on and play the current stable build.
So definitely will be worth coming to Gamescom, we’re going to be having some cool stuff there. I’ll be there, a lot of the other folks will be there too and so we’d love to see you, come visit us. It’s always a big thing for us and we will definitely be showing some stuff that you will be hopefully pretty excited by, so there you go.
[9:30] AragornBH asks: Let’s say a player locked their ship and left on an EVA or activity which would put them out of sight of their property. Would any kind of notification on their Mobi-glass alert them that a pirate was attempting to disable a door lock and loot their ship.
Yes, definitely. One of the design objectives that people are working on now that we sort of got persistence in is the whole idea of control locking safety on your ship, cause right now you can just fly up to someone else’s ship and open up it’s back door and go inside. Which obviously doesn’t make a vast amount of sense especially when we have persistent ships and there’s real value to them. So, one of the next stages of stuff will be to put the kind of security systems in place, this partly comes with this item 2.0 stuff that we’re talking about where you can control various items. An item will be a door, an airlock and you can sort of lock things down or shut it or open up to a friend if he was to arrive.
Then comes with that is other levels of boarding mechanics like how you would break into a ship if you wanted to get into it and someone has locked it up. You know, whether it’s hacking the lock or blowing open a door, so all that is sort of in the early stages of getting fleshed out and then will get implemented and, of course, part of that would also involve notification to your Mobiglass if you were say EVAing up somewhere else within… obviously within a reasonable amount of range it would tell you, ‘hey look, someone’s trying to break into your ship’. You would have an opportunity to come back and check it out. So, there you go. What you asked is there.
[11:11] Geforce asks: The monthly studio reports have been a fantastic resource for company wide developments across the spectrum of Star Citizen as a project. Other than persistence and the recent focus on Squadron 42 development; what is the biggest development challenge preventing rudimentary versions of the exploration, cargo, mining and economy mechanics to be implemented into the PU/PTU builds and would it be possible to see targeted or focused updates on these specific mechanics in the future?
So these are all things that we are focusing on. So 2.4 has just come out so that has persistence which is a pretty big thing because that just means that the items that you buy, or potentially find, will stay around; and then longer term health and damage, and wear and tear to your items and all the rest of stuff, will also persist; and you can buy and sell things like clothes now. And we’re just going to be opening up and expanding more and more of that.
And then the other big thing that we are doing is we’re working quite hard on having … what we .. Stanton system, that we’re going to put in an a system … massive scale, I think the system itself is going to be, in our scaled down version, about a billion kilometres across which is pretty insanely big. And we will be … in the … not immediate future but definitely this year we will have the Stanton system there with procedural planets and that’s one of our focuses.
So right now what we are doing is we are focusing on the procedural planet tech and work. And also the fundamental things that we have to do to the underlying engine tech to allow us simulate a system that is that big. So we’re already simulating a pretty massive play area, but the full star system is much, much, much, much, much bigger than you get even now in Crusader. And is going to have .. it has vast amounts of objects or entities if you want to call them.
So you probably would have noticed that performance from 2.3 to 2.4 has degraded a little bit. And that has been an ongoing trend because we’ve been adding more things in: more AI; more things, so like if you go to Port Olisar you can buy items in the shops and you also have various pick up … wreck … like things you can pick up at wrecks around Yella and all that. And so essentially the core of CryEngine was never built to simulate this many items and objects, and we’ve had a long term refactor that we’ve been working on, the Item 2.0 that keeps on getting mentioned is one of the core ones … part of it, but we’re basically refactoring the way the whole entity system updates; we’re refactoring the fundamental …
So we’ve done a lot of top level changes on top of the CryNetwork but it’s just not going to be good enough handle systems this big and this much data going back and forth. So we’ve long had a full rewrite of everything in CryNetwork on the table and we’ve been working on it and now with what happened, and what you could see on 2.4 and the framerates and everything it’s just clear we’re at the limit of what the current engine will handle without these new systems that we’ve been working on for quite a while coming online.
So the Engineering team on the overall project, across all the studios, have a good portion of it being what we call “ring fenced”. And so rather than spending a lot of time iterating, fixing issues or bugs on 2.4 or 2.4.1 or 2.5, we’ve been working towards getting everything in place for when we bring out the bigger system and procedural planets. Which internally in our release schedule that will be 2.7 but I’m not giving you an exact date on that because as you can see with 2.4 some of the bigger things take longer some of the more simple content updates.
But we’re working it … pulling all of it together and when that’s in place, with some of the systems and some of the messaging and organisation stuff we’ve got in the works, which is also pretty cool that longer term we’ll be rolling out later this year that will also make the game much better in terms of coordinating with your friends and groups and organisations; we will have the foundation in place to really accelerate on things like the cargo and the mining and going about and hiring other people to escort you or defend you or take someone out.
So that’s all working at pace and then in the short term we’re working it, adding some content in terms of new locations. So in the next big drop we have … we were going to have a separate area which when you’re an outlaw, someone on the wrong side of the law, you have your own place where you spawn and you … So it’s almost like we’re going to have two factions in the 2.5 release which is the outlaw base and then Port Olisar will be the two main spawning places. And we’re going to start to build that up and there’s some extra stuff that gets added there and we’re going to have some other gameplay that rolls out that’s on the smaller side but then the huge system expansion starts with 2.7 … won’t have all the locations because there’s a lot of stuff to be there but everything will be in placeholder set up in 2.7 and then we start working it like fleshing and finishing out Stanton system.
So that’s our goal. Our goal is to get the Stanton system fleshed out to the fidelity that we want in Star Citizen for playing the game the way we imagined it at the amount of like insane detail you can go from … basically it’s that “Pupil to Planet” detail where you can get right down there and you can walking around on this huge planet and the detail on the ground is like something you’ve never … I promise you it’s something you have not seen on a proper fully procedural planet that’s fully three … like a proper sphere. Like you’ll see the planet, you’ll keep going, it’s all completely seamless you get down, you get right down, you get down, you see the little rocks on the … on the ground. And I haven’t seen anyone else been able to do that. So we are going to do that. That’s going to be very cool, I think you guys will like it. So that coming on down the road. Again can’t really give exact dates because some of these things take longer than we would all like but this year is the plan so stay tuned and, you know, that’s another reason to come to GamesCom because we may have some stuff to show.
[17:48] Fireball asks: The E3 expo has just wrapped up. Did you see anything that made you say ‘wow’? What do you think of how big space games are now?
Well, it’s kind of cool cause there’s loads of space games now. I never knew everyone wanted to do space games as much as they seem to do now, so it’s kind of fun because when I started this, when we did the crowdfunding campaign for Star Citizen everyone said no one wants space games. Now you’re seeing it all the way up to the biggest mainstreams titles like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and generally the new Mass Effect stuff looked cool, I always liked Mass Effect. The other thing I saw which isn’t sci-fi but Battlefield One looked very cool to me because I like World War I so I’m kind of partial to World War I and things like the Red Baron and so, it was kind of cool to see that.
I’m sure I’ll play it cause I’m a bit of a Battlefield fan but I think you guys will be seeing some stuff from us on the FPS stuff, not too distant future and I think you’ll like it cause there’s some stuff we haven’t shown or shared where we’d made some really nice breakthroughs in how our FPS sort of movement mechanics work and it’s playing really nice and smooth internally. Figure out a way to get you guys that to just be able to play that and have fun with it, so you never know that long rumoured dead thing may appear again. We’ll see.
[19:22] Liowin asks: I feel it’s some time ago since we last heard about Nyx. Back then it sounded like it was very close to being finished. Is Nyx still in the works, and if so when will we see it?
Ah ha, well that’s a good question. So you are definitely going to see Nyx. We are going to put it in, in short term the Stanton system. So you will see the landing environments like Nyx, all debuting with the procedural planets sort of iteration of Stanton so that’s kind of what we’ve been working on which is one of the reasons why you haven’t seen much updates. The landing area and environment is done, but now it’s all about integrating it into the big huge star system and the whole, how it gets integrated into the planetary tech and how that streams as you arrive to it so it’s all seamless, there’s no loading screens.
So we’re all actually quite hard at work doing that so I think that’s what you will be seeing, you’ll basically see Nyx with 2.7 and then we’ll carry on to expand beyond that. We won’t have ArcCorp in with 2.7, but not too far past that, then you’ll actually have ArcCorp where you’ll go land on the planet in the system and not have to go to a separate load screen. So the whole goal to get to, you just enter the PU or the mini pu and you fly around between landing locations whether they’re on planets, whether they’re space stations and you do your missions, you trade, you make some money, upgrade your ship and that’s the core game loop of course that we’ve talked about with Star Citizen. So we’re working towards all that coming together by the end of this year.
[21:15] The Tick asks: Will AI opponents display some aspect of self preservation or can we expect them all to fight to the death?
No, they will definitely. So, one of the goals, we actually… I was in Germany for a week before I just came back this week and I had… so you may have seen some pictures from Bar Citizen in Frankfurt and Tony was actually over there as well as myself and actually quite a few people we brought over from the UK. We had a big AI mission sort of technical session so we’re in the implementation stages of this sort of grand design, Tony’s mentioned subsumption before but subsumption also works all the way up in the sort of meta group AI. So like organization of teams, organization of groups, above that would be missions, above that campaigns and it all ties into both stuff that we would do for Squadron 42 but also stuff in the dynamic universe of Star Citizen.
So, we were all together kind of on the final lock down… final part of the design and sort of get everybody off and running to finish off the aspects to go beyond that. So, we’re basically unifying all the AI and the mission stuff into one system that has different levels and scopes and sort of knows how to talk amongst itself very well. That will allow us to do things like the self preservation, have much more seemingly intelligent AI, because it isn’t just about the tactical application of the situation like, ‘ok, I’m in a dogfight, I need to win’ or ‘I’m in a firefight on the ground and I need to find cover’.
It’s about yes, you have all that but then you have the bigger goals like, what’s my objective in this area, what’s my goal today, what’s my long term as a person, what’s my long term goal as an organization and so, that’s all what we’ve been working on. Definitely part of that will be to have, you know, self preservation and various things like morale and all the rest of the stuff you would get.
[23:30] NtrepiD asks: A lot of progress has been made (and knowledge gained) with CryEngine during SC’s development – is this something you guys will eventually pass on to other developers through whitepapers, articles, etc?
I would say yeah, I mean I think we’ve got a lot that we’ve been working on. On some aspects, some of our art pipeline is being shared. I know Nathan Disley did a lot with, you know we’ve got a whole pipeline that involves custom normals and bump mapping that allows us to build the spaceships to the level of fidelity and detail you see without absolutely crushing the amount of faces we need.
Yes we definitely will be sharing this, I can sort of see talks happening. I know Alister Brown who’s our head of graphics did a talk at GDC the other year and we’ll probably be doing that down the road and I’m pretty sure once we’ve got the procedural planet and all that stuff going we might do some presentation on that, but yup, longer term we’ll be quite keen to share sort of our learning and knowledge.
It’s how everyone in the game business evolves and advances and I’m quite keen to sort of support other efforts for developers to share information and work on open source libraries because ultimately it’s… and I don’t think it’s just about the tech, I think it’s about how you apply the tech and the gameplay you do and the art you craft and so tech is one of little aspect and of course every game has different requirements. So even with the same base tech like Unreal or CryEngine or something, the demands of the individual games are very different like the demand of our game is very different from than say sort of straight ahead, sort of single player shooter or something like that or like a Crysis game. A Crysis game has a very different demands than say a Star Citizen game.
So yes definitely would want to be doing that.
[25:30] Fonkin asks: I’ve been playing in the PTU and it’s really exciting to see things come together. I’m wondering if the Hangar Module and the Universe Module will be combined to be more immersive. In other words, will I walk out of my Revel & York hangar and find myself in a space port, such as Olisar, where I can then requisition a ship to fly?
Yes, that is a 100% our goal. So, for me I talked a little earlier in the show, but for me the goal is to get the game to the point which I’m very confident we can do this year, where we’re not going to a Hangar Module or we’re not going to ArcCorp as a separate module, it’s all just one we go between these different locations all in the universe. So, you know, the setup may be slightly different then it is right now in the Hangar Module that you have.
There’s already change with 2.4 with the integration of persistence because we don’t have the same dynamic hangars we used to. So, that’s all going to change but yeah, our goal is to be able to have a hangar on a landing location and you can go down and visit it and then call up your ship to be on the landing pad or perhaps the door of your hangar opens up and you fly out into the universe. That is definitely on our plans and our goals.
[26:58] Vacation asks: The Vanduul harvesters look quite menacing and I was wondering, what is their planned role in the ‘Verse since planetary landings has entered the picture?
Well the Vanduul harvesters in the fiction and sort of Squadron 42 in episode 2 they make more of an appearence, but they essentially the Vanduul go from world to world, they don’t necessarily build as much as take. So the harvesters are harvesting resources from the worlds they’re sort of conquering or destroying and that’s sort of turned into the you know, utilized by the Vanduul warmachine to make their fleet bigger and make their fleet stronger. So we definitely will probably have them appearing and obviously Vanduul appearing in the bigger Star Citizen when we get to the worlds that Vanduul are kind of… or the systems that the Vanduul are present in or are threatening.
So planetary landing and procedural planets are a big part of the game and they actually will also be apart of Squadron 42. We’re planning and utilizing the technology, not just in Star Citizen, but in Squadron 42 for some of the locations you’ll visit just because the idea of sort of seamless flying around from you know, you can see off in the distance a little dot and then you fly up to it and it turns into a moon and you fly down onto it and go right down to a gas refining facility and then fight pirates there or whatever you’ll be doing.
It’s amazing to just have sense of scale of scope and it’s all there and there’s no tricks where there’s a loading screen or there’s suddenly clouds in your way and then we’ve streamed in a level, it’s all there in one coherent world, all in the same 64-bit vector space and you know, the planets or the planetoids cause you know obviously we also use for moons or whatever, they you know, [Creates a ball with his hand and moves his hand around it] I can see it here, I can land here and gravity works all around it and you can literally walk all the around the planet or fly all the way around it.
So we build ground vehicles or we just announced this Dragonfly sale which is also sort of a space bike, but a ground bike and it’s good for zipping around there and it’s going to be super cool. So we’re going to be using that for everything, including Squadron 42 and in the PU I would say that the big difference between what I was thinking that we were going to do a few years ago and what we can do now is there’s going to be so much more gameplay and content in individual systems because we can literally have every moon and every planet be something you can: fly, land on, walk around, move around, mine things on, search for things, rescue people on, get jumped by pirates on. So there’s not just for potential for missions spawning in space, there’s potentially for all sorts of missions to spawn on down planets just like they’ll be missions that could spawn on space stations or missions spawning on space wrecks hanging out in asteroid fields. So the amount of gameplay that’s opened up in the same area you’ll have, it’s exponentially more gameplay and it’s really, really, really cool.
And the Vanduul harvesters just could be apart of that.
All right, that is the last of the 10 questions in 10 for the Chairman. Hopefully some of the answers have been informative to you and you know, really quite excited. I’ve been doing a lot of travelling, cause I spend a lot of time between all the studios now and obviously a lot of time in Europe because we have two thirds of our developers are actually in Europe now. Between the UK and the Wilmslow office and the Frankfurt quite a bit as well as being back here and then also in Austin occasionally. It’s cool to see everyone work on all the stuff, there’s lot of stuff that everyone’s working on and it’s slowly coming together, wish it was coming together a bit faster but it’s great and we wouldn’t be able to do it without all your guys support. So thank you very much for backing us, it’s amazing to be here almost four years on, building something that I don’t think anyone could ever have dreamed could happen or be built at this scale. I don’t think there’s any publisher out there that would fund anything this crazy or this ambitious and you guys have so thank you very much.
Thank you to everyone who has subscribed cause you allow us to do this extra amount of community content and we appreciate that and I would say that in a longer term basis we’re sort of looking always to see how we can improve the community content. So, we’re you know, everything else, you always got to make things different and better and reinvent yourself as you go along. So, we’ll also be trying to do things on that level to maybe change it up and add some more information and behind the scenes stuff there and anyway, I’m just generally excited by… well, everything we’re working on and looking forward to sharing stuff with you at Gamescon and then later on CitizenCon and then seeing what you guys do inside the world that’s already causing all the 2.4 videos that have been out there, so thanks a lot very much and I’ll talk to you next week, bye.