This post is a transcript of Around the ‘Verse: Episode 2.38 Part 4, 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!
What the ****
Oh my god, Oh!
Do you see this **** move he just pulled on the Freelancer?
Oh my god! Oh!
Uh, I’m going to save that video clip because Holy crap.
Brian Chambers (BC): Welcome to the fourth and final part of Around the ‘Verse’s 100th special episode. I’m Brian Chambers, Development Director of Foundry 42 Frankfurt.
Todd Papy (TP): I’m Todd Papy, Design Director on Star Citizen.
BC: You already had a chance to visit the other offices. They showed off LA, then we went to Manchester and then Austin and of course, save the best for last so we’re here in Frankfurt today.
TP: So Foundry 42 Frankfurt opened up a little bit over a year ago and we house some of the top CryEngine talent from around the world.
BC: A lot of good guys, including yourself.
TP: Oh thank you
BC: So Design Director, what do you do here? What specifically does a Design Director do here at Foundry 42?
TP: I deal with Chris, Tony, and Erin and make sure that their visit is being disseminated to the designers and it is being disseminated to the other disciplines and making sure that design is always working with other disciplines to make sure that vision is put forward.
BC: That’s important.
TP: So why don’t you tell the people a little bit about what a Dev Director does.
BC: Dev Director, right now I kind of wear a lot of hats, but overall I’m in charge of making sure the office is running the way it needs to. That covers not only production and working with the producers here and working with the other directors, but also building up the space and recruiting, headcount, looking at budgets and everything. Everything that enable the guys here to be able to do what they need to do.
TP: All the stuff that we don’t want to do.
BC: Yeah well some of the stuff you probably want to do.
TP: No, no.
BC: So we’re going to show you the Frankfurt office today, but before we do, we want to get to the global Star Citizen community news that’s going on. So Todd, what stuff do we have going on recently.
TP: We are focused on Star Citizen 2.5. That will be our next major release and then you’ve already seen some GrimHex and how that’s been coming along, and then we have some other exciting additions to development. Please stay tuned for announcements for when this goes live to the PTU.
BC: In other news, 2.4.1 Alpha is available just for about everyone, I think almost everyone by now. We’re also wrapping up free fly week. That means anyone that goes in and registers an account can get in and fly, check out some ships and that runs until next Monday.
TP: The latest issue of Jump Point is now available to our development subscribers. It focuses on the Drake Dragonfly, the space motorcycle, which has already moved into development.
BC: Everybody seems to like Big Benny’s, including myself. If you head over to the Robert Space Industries pledge store right now, look in there, you can preorder your own Big Benny’s t-shirt. I hope they send us stuff.
TP: They better. We are also pleased to announce that our next concept sale will be the Argo. Many of you have already seen that on the Morrow Tour and had expressed interest in being able to fly it. It will be available in 2.5 once the patch is ready, we’ll give access to it on the pledge store.
BC: Now we’ll cut to me in another room giving you a run through and tour of our Frankfurt Foundry 42 office.
Brian Chambers (BC): Hey everyone, so the office Frankfurt…first time we showed you, first video we had, really small temp space. That was the first time you ever kind of heard of us as a team and we showed it off.Now in our new space you’ve seen a little but now time to show you more, a lot of the desks are full and kind of show you around in a little more detail.
This is our entrance area, this is normally where our office manager sits, she’s away in HR, in an HR meeting. This is our main conference, we call the Bridge, you can see on the door. That’s where we have larger meetings, press comes and so on, that’s where we can show people some cool stuff. Let’s see the rest of the space.
In here, this is our kitchen/lounge area, this is where guys come to have coffee, get drinks. We also use it hang out and socialize, we have consoles over there where we’re always looking at new games and people can kind of hang out and relax and talk about work in a mellow setting. Hallway, bathroom, bathroom, boring, boring.
Over here this is out IT room in here, let me take you in and see if he’s here. This is Morris, hi Morris, say hi to everyone.
Morris: Hi, please to meet.
BC: So, this is where he’s building all our PC’s for us, we’re lucky to have him cause the first six months I don’t think we had any IT people. We were building our own PCs but we do what it takes to pull it off. Here’s our server room. This room right here is primarily where the engineers are, they don’t like to be on camera so much and I don’t like to bother them just so they can get it done. Poke our head in for a second. Let’s leave them alone.
All right, this here coming down here is basically what opens up to the majority of the team. All mixed by disciplines, all clumped as much as we can. Over on this side, we have Tech Art, we have the FX, build engineer, Glen and Ray. Over here is Weapons Art so these are guys both ship and FPS weapons.
Over here is my office where we usually have meetings as well. This side is QA, more QA over here, the more we can test, the better. This whole row right here is AI so everybody focusing as much as they can and again both NPCs and for ships. Now majority over here, this whole section here most of this is Design. We have a good amount of level designers, a good amount of system designers, focusing all over the place. Stuff that’s touching Squadron 42, stuff that’s touching PU, lots of meetings, lots of documentation, lots of implementation.
Over here you can see yes, there’s equipment in here cause we’re shooting stuff today. This is one of our small meeting rooms, use that one quite often. Over to this side over here, this whole section here although it’s a little empty today is the Cinematics team so right now I think I have one, two, three, four of the members actually out at MoCap shoot at Ealing Studios right now with Chris and the other guys.
Hannes Appell who you’ve met before and Michael Nagasaka is our Lead Designer and Jason Cole, they’re all out there right now as well as producer we have Judith, they’re all out there helping out so. Over here is Todd Papy, as you guys know as our Design Director he has a lot of responsibility on his plate. Here is another one of our office rooms, right now… it doesn’t normally look like this, say hi guys. These are guys who are here from the UK right now, helping us out across environments and props, working close with the tech team to sort some stuff out, that you guys will see hopefully fairly soon.
So as you can see a lot of the desks are full. When we moved in here a year ago we literally were just filling this… kind of this small corner right here. So in order to enable us to grow let me show you what we are doing for that. It’s a bit of a walk, so sorry.
[long walk down hallway]
Alright, now we’re back at the main entrance where we started. It’s not really big, right, but in that space we fit 49 people. We now have 49 contracts signed, so we need to be able to expand. If you look over here, although it’s really, really messy and there’s just a piece of big dry wall there. That is the door that is going to lead to our new space. So we can’t go through there right now, but I can take you around and show you what it’s going to look like. It may be noisy. Not sure.
[passes through several doors]
Alright, so here we are in the midst of the construction of our new space. We’ll go through this as quick as we can. We’re going to have a small storage room here because we realized that we really didn’t have storage, so this will be storage for both IT and for kitchen stuff. I got office space here for HR. This will be another small meeting room. Is it okay to walk here?
[worker nods okay]
As you can see, it’s a big open space, right? This space here will seat 24 people, we’ll have 12 desks on this side. In the center of the space there’s going to be kind of a small middle meeting room with a very casual space for people to come and meet. Another 12 desks over there, and then in this section over here… this is a… we’re going to have a big screen there, projector. This is where we’re going to view the review material. The whole team will fit in there. We can have big team meetings, people can relax and hang out. We’ll move stuff from the other kitchen over to here and bring more tables into the kitchen and so on.
So, still bit of work. We’ve got a few more weeks and it should be done with all of the construction. Yeah, and we’ll move in. So our head counts gets us another 20 people and we have some flexibility with that so it should fill us up nicely. So, cool. That’s the office, thanks for watching.
TP: Hi everyone I’ll give you the studio update for Frankfurt. On the AI side we’re continuing to work on Subsumption. We’re pushing forward on communication as well: done some bug fixes and then also doing core work on the communication system.
And then from here we’ll throw it to Toby to show off some of the ship and FPS weapons.
Toby Lewin (TL): Hi I’m Toby, Lead Weapons Artist here at CIG and today I’m going to show you some of the stuff that me and the rest of the Weapon’s Art team have been working on in the last couple of weeks.
Rob our Senior Artists working on ship weapons has been working on a set of unified Behring Laser Cannons. He’s completed it size two until size six and is currently working on finishing off the size one variant.
On the FPS side of things we’ve been working on another Behring gun, the P8SC. It’s a 10mm ballistic submachine gun and we’re currently in the final staging of polishing and addressing feedback from our Art Director, Paul Jones in the UK studio. Here it is in its current state with our dynamic wear and dirt layers fading in and out independently. Enjoy!
TP: Thanks Toby, the weapons are looking great!
From an engine standpoint we’ve continued to move forward on Procedural Planets: we’re bug fixing. We’ve worked on head stabilization which you will see and feel in 2.5. We’re continuing to work on optimisations as well as the local physics grid.
Here we’ll throw it to Chris Speak to show off some of the feature testing that we do here at Foundry 42
Chris Speak (CS): Hey I’m Chris. I’m Senior QA here in Frankfurt Foundry 42. We just wanted to provide a little update. We’ve been working on the Procedural Planets stuff. It’s coming along quite nicely: there’s still a bit of work needs to be done but it’s going quite well. And outside of that we’ve been mostly working on feature testing and automated testing. So we’ve been setting up test maps and I’m going to show you a few of those right now.
So first we have this level here which is which is essentially a ragdoll simulator inside of what I call “a vortex”. It’s just essentially a group of gravity boxes that are pushing in different directions. And this helps us test whether ragdoll is functioning correctly, whether they collide correctly with certain objects, and it measures glancing blows as well as … like full impacts as well. So if none of this works then we know there’s a problem.
Additionally we have one for multiple AI at the same time. So we can spawn, theoretically, an endless number of AI, all bouncing around throughout this vortex. Not only do they collide with the objects themselves but they can actually collide with each other. Sometimes you’ll see them get stuck and, yeah, it’s an interesting testbed for seeing whether multi-crew ships will have issues with multiple ragdolls at the same time.
And finally this one is another test for spawning AI and killing them in an endless chain. It essentially spawns one enemy and then kills him two seconds later. But if you hit the button multiple times you can spawn multiple guys at the same time. What this essentially does is stress test the engine to see whether we can have … however many characters we can fit on screen at once, it will test to see what the theoretical limit is, and how much of an impact it has on the frame rate.
TP: and now let’s talk about effects. Caleb will show us some insights into the pipeline as well as the tech.
Caleb Essex (CE): Hi there my name is Caleb Essex. I’m Senior Visual Effects Artists at Foundry 42 here in Frankfurt. Today I’m going to run you through our Visual Effects pipeline as well as go over some of the new tech we use to take our particles up to the next level.
So here we have an explosion asset. First of all we create the asset in 3DS Max. Once we are happy with that we render out various different passes. So here we have lighting information from five directions which is used to compile the diffuse texture as well as the normal map. We also render out a temperature map which is used for fire, and an optical flow map that is used for frame blending.
So here we are inside the engine. It’s just a simple texture lit by the engine. There’s not a whole lot of lighting information. So now we apply the normal map over top and you can see how it picks up the light in a much more realistic way.
Next we have the temperature map: this is layered on top of the smoke. It is coloured by a 32-bit gradient and this allows us to adjust the brightness and the colours in real time. And by applying different coloured gradients we can completely change the look of the overall effect from fire to plasma. And we can also colour the smoke to be whatever we need it that given time.
And lastly we have the optical frame blending. Previously in CryEngine they simply had standard frame blending which simply blended the next frame over top of the first but this can have issues, especially with the silhouettes, and frame rate issues. So the optical blend map records the information, the motion information, from one frame to the next and distorts the frame into the position of the next so you get a nice smooth transition from frame to frame. This particular texture only has 32 frames of information but I’m able to extend that by over 30 times while still maintaining the smooth motion.
And here it is all put together. One of the final effects.
TP: From systems design standpoint we’ve been working on docking and landing as well as Vanduul behaviours. From level design we’ve been working on “truck stop” as well as the cargo depots and security station, and working closely with Art on how we can make this a very modular and be able to fill out our solar system as quickly as we possibly can.
From here we’ll throw it over to the MVP.
MVP w/Tyler Witkin
Tyler Witkin (TW): Hey there, Tyler Witkin, Community Manager in the Austin, Texas studio here to bring you this week’s MVP.
A huge congratulations to Simoniac for creating the interactive hauling Starmap. There have been a lot of Starmap alternatives out there, but this one goes above and beyond. So congrats again to you, you’re this week’s MVP. Back to you guys.
Behind the Scenes: Grimhex
Clement Melendez (CM): Hi, I’m Clement, I’m a senior level designer here at Foundry 42 Frankfurt and I was the designer behind the new location that’s upcoming in the next big patch – which is GrimHex. So I’m going to just present that to you now. Alright, so GrimHex is a location in the asteroid belt around Crusader’s moon – Yela – it was an old mining hub for all the mining operations in the area and it was called Green Imperial Hex in the past. This was a place for miners to store personal ships there and then leave there and take shuttles to the different mining facilities in the area. So it had, basically, accommodations, like shops and bedrooms and that sort of thing. But when the mining operations dried up a few years back – the miners left and the place was abandoned and squatters came in and then gangs took over and that’s pretty much it how it became what it is now.
One of the main things we’re struggling with on the level design side when it comes to creating those new locations is how to merge the sizes of ships and the sizes of humans because as you can see in the picture, humans are very small compared to the medium landing pad here so when we have to fit like forty of those landing pads then the spaces tend to get super big and we have trouble matching the exterior and the interior – so with this location we actually decided to not try to make too many landing pads so we could provide the bare minimum and we’ll have hangars at the back of the asteroid where you can request landing permission and park your ship there and it being safe from other players as well.
So we think that is a good balance between the two and that lets us keep the interior spaces connected to the exterior without too much trouble. So what you’ll see here is only a small part of what will eventually be built for this location because we needed a place for criminals to respawn at pretty fast – we don’t want you to have to wait to- and still be punished for doing illegal actions and that sort of thing. So we want to put it out there as soon as possible but we know that we still have a lot of work to do on the art and the tech to get everything ready that we have in mind for this location. So it’ll keep evolving over the next few- two or three patches and we’ll get to see new stuff and figure out why this location is actually interesting instead of just being a normal spaceport with a couple shops.
So the whole base is built around a central hub with a main major elevators going to the landing pads at the top and every other area branching off of it and as I said before, we’re going for incremental release so that means that we’ll start with a couple shops only and add extra content and unlock areas as we go so there’s going to be a bar – there’s going to be a kiosk for you to enter races and bet on illegal races with a view over a tunnel where ships are going to start and end their races by going through the asteroid and that sort of thing and also what we want to do with the green zone in this location is for the first release we can have one on the interior, anything beyond an airlock will be weapons restricted – the idea from future is that we have lots of ways of trying to police it a bit more so that we allow you to carry weapons but it’s at your own risks when you’re going to pull them out and we don’t want it to turn into a constant deathmatch. We want it to be safe enough to risk coming to this location but there’s always an element of risk.
So I don’t want to spoil everything – I will let you explore the location for yourself. I just wanted to show a few pictures of how it was when I finished the white box and what it is now so that you can just understand how much work has gone into it from all of the disciplines and all of the studios involved in this project – and that’s not like the work of one designer to make a new location for this game.
BC: This wraps up our fourth and final part of episode 100 of Around the ‘Verse. Hope it’s given you a better idea of all the teams – the immense amount of work that goes into making this game from all around the world.
TP: You can say that again. This is an incredibly dedicated team and we’re looking forward to how the game comes together and sharing that with the backers. We hope that the show actually brings excitement to you guys as well as showcases what we’re working on right now.
BC: And now, as we usually do, a little Fast Forward – so check it out.
TP: Be sure to tune in for Reverse the ‘Verse at 11am Pacific Time tomorrow on Twitch.
BC: And finally, a huge thank you to all the subscribers around the world for making the game what it is – making this show possible and we will see you Around the ‘Verse.