Aug 12

INN Transcript: Reverse the ‘Verse: Episode 2.03

This post is a transcript of Reverse the ‘Verse: Episode 2.03, 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. Enjoy!

 

INN Transcript: Reverse the ‘Verse: Episode 2.03 (Incomplete)

  • This week Tyler is the host, and with him is Lead Vehicle Artist, Chris Smith.
  • [How was working on the F7A after working on the original Hornet?] It was always going to be great, it’s one of the most iconic ships in the ‘Verse. It’s been in the game for a long time, and the first time Chris got to work on it (3 years ago now), he didn’t have time to do what he wanted to do, and now he got the chance.
    • The first time was modeling parts and retexturing, and he had to move onto the 300i.
  • Chris Smith has worked on lots of ships. When he first started he did the 300i, then the 300 series, then the Hornet and variants, did the Mustang, the M50, the Constellation (with Josh Coons), the Scout, etc…
    • The Constellation was the first ship that Chris worked with someone else on, because it was so big. Josh took the exterior, Chris did the interior.
  • [How was it different working on all the different ships; how has the pipeline changed?] From the first ship its changed quite a bit, It took a while too. The first couple years were a lot of pre-production and trying out things, and now they’re reworking ships because of how much they’ve changed and improved things. The pipeline is pretty solid now, it’s good and fast, and they’re able to re-use some of the textures and assets to build ships faster.
    • And that process goes further than just ships, it happens with all the types of content. It’s pushed through the whole development, characters, environment, it all gets better and more efficient as they go. For the ships they need that flow cause there are a lot that needs to be done.
  • [How much creative freedom did you have on the Hornet?] The concept phase is one of Chris’ favorite parts. He was able to take the old ship, which was basically a concept, and use it to create the new one. He had all the freedom he wanted, creatively, he’d start modeling then get feedback from Chris and other developers.
    • Since Chris has been around for a while, Chris trusts him, there’s a lot of back and forth.
  • Animations and such are a lot more fleshed out now. The animation for the F7A getting in and out is the same as the one for the Hornet, so that saves animators some time.
  • The new F7A seems to have rounder and sleeker shapes around it. Chris and CR had discussions when they started the redesign, and the idea was they’d take it and make it more sleek. For Chris, the original hornet is cool and iconic, but it has some issues with its form. The idea was to make it have the same difference when BMW makes a new version of their car. Old one was boxy, then the 2000’s were a bit sleeker, but you could still tell they were BMW’s. Same thing goes for the Hornet.
  • [What’s your favorite ship that you haven’t designed?] Tomcat has always been his favorite. F-18’s, F-22’s etc… Takes a lot of inspiration from the F-35 as well, because they’re a lot more modern. Lots of inspiration from the cockpit.
  • [What’s the biggest visual or design improvement between the two Hornet versions?] The top-down view, and even when viewed from the back, it just has a little more of an arrow shape, a little nicer silhouette. The air intakes used to jut out, the top-down silhouette, the cockpit’s a bit more narrow etc…
  • [Are they going to let you have a second crack at the 300 series?] Chris hopes so. The general plan is eventually yes.
  • [Which is your favorite of the Hornet series?] F7A is awesome. Likes the Ghost, needs to redo that one. They’ll be addressing the other older variants as well again.
  • [How many poly’s is the MK2 vs. the MK 1?] It’s less polys. It’s a lot more efficient. The old one there was some rework, but the pipeline hadn’t been worked out yet, so poly’s kept piling on. They’ve redistributed polys more efficiently in the new MK2 hornet.
    • Don’t model out the bolts, just use a flat plane, etc… and the new damage system helps obviously as well.
  • [Now that the Hornet’s done, what’s next?] Right now working on the Aquila. Not sure if he’s going through all the variants at once, but that’s on the list for now, and you’ll see what comes after that.
  • Short break, when they come back, Tony Z will be on.
  • When Tony grew up in the 80’s, 70’s, he liked PC games with large, completely open-ended worlds. Ultima, etc… so you had to, back then, it was a 1 man operation. If you wanted to make that you had to do everything yourself: AI, sound, world editor, usables, etc… You had to do it all yourself. What it got Tony used to doing was looking for points of leverage, areas where he could invest development time upfront (which had a cost, if you wanted to show progress you could brute force it, but it wouldn’t get you where you needed to be in the long term) so for Tony he’s always looking for those points, areas where he can take the development and instead of adding a second person and you can do things a bit faster, it tends to be linear, so to get the exponential curve in how quickly you can produce things, you put thought and effort into properly structuring tools and data structures.
    • The ultimate goal is to minimize the time it takes from concept to completion.
    • The more that you’re able to do that, the more interesting the game is going to become. Look at a Bartender for AI. A bartender doesn’t look smart if you enter the bar, and he just sits there and polishes the bar. He looks intelligent though if he does that, calls security on fights, gets a broom to sweep up a glass, etc… if he’s got the potential to respond to various situations, then he looks more interesting AND it’s not that that’s the game, but if you put the player into a universe with that level of detail it makes it more interesting and it gives the players more opportunities to craft their own solution through the maze of the game.
    • To borrow from the world of finance, it’s like Amazon. For years Amazon were investing in their infrastructure; refining the online model etc… they could have stopped investing a long time ago, but they were convinced that if they kept investing, they could keep pushing. Now after 20 years, they’re getting to the point where they’re flipping into the mode where the hard work’s been done, and now you look at how they’re performing relative to Walmart or Target, and they’re destroying. Timeframes are different, but the point is if you spend time and effort up front, you get enormous dividends on the back end.
  • [What feature are you looking forward to most?] It’s not an individual feature, it’s more the breadth of features. The ability for the player to choose their own path through the world. when you have so many choices there need to be consequences and repercussions. In terms of combat, you can be a pirate, you’re now doing things that are illegal, therefore they need to have an apparatus (security, reputation, etc…), the system allows you to be a pirate but it will push back. If you’re a miner, you have the choice of what you want to mine. If you stick to the safe zones you won’t make as much. If you want to make a fortune you have to take some chances. Will you form an alliance? Stick as a group? Hire some mercenaries? There are lots of different levers and it’s up to the player to rearrange things into the type of game experience they want.
  • [When it comes to working with an NPC crew, will trust or deception be things you have to worry about?] It really depends on the type of NPC you’re talking about. Crew members in general will be a more straightforward implementation. They’re an extension of the ship. External NPC’s, ones that offer missions etc… some of them will not be ‘up and up’. Might be offered a great deal where there’s a supposedly lucrative asteroid, and you show up and it’s a pirate trap. There will be a lot of that type of stuff, just like in the real world, just because something looks one way doesn’t mean it is. But they won’t be arbitrary about it either, they’re going to put time and thought into the mechanisms so the players can make intelligent choices. It’s not going to be a roll of the dice.
  • [Outside of landing zones, how will NPC’s impact the game?] NPC’s will play a huge roll in getting the game where it needs to be. If you think about a world where it’s just players, you can have lots of interaction and combat etc… but at any given time when you’re being doing something, they couldn’t guarantee that there’s something to do. You accept a mission to go into deep space, designers have set it up so you’re getting paid a high price, they want to make sure you face danger appropriate to the payout. If they had to rely on players to always be a counter party in that, they couldn’t do that. You could sometimes run into nothing and it would feel very arbitrary. Sometimes you take on a mission for no money and you get tons of challenges for a pittance, other times it’s the opposite. For CIG to properly balance everything they need to rely on NPC’s to fill in the blanks as necessary.
  • [Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?] A lot of that comes just from when Tony grew up, classic 70’s and 80’s games. They were pure, they didn’t have computing horsepower to do sophisticated things, but many games he’s referenced, Ultimas, Crusader, Loose Cannon, etc… there’re so many games from back then where you could see the potential, but the tech couldn’t do them. And you don’t want to just integrate those ideas into your game, but playing so many of those, Tony looks at things from a mechanical point of view. And those games really were all about mechanics. Now he looks at games, the visuals come second, it’s the underlying skeleton, the balance, the parts and counterparts that are setup properly, those drive the process forward. Thinks that once you’ve gotten yourself used to thinking about problems in that fashion, it just comes naturally.
  • [Do you think we’ll see different NPC’s during different times? Week vs weekend.] To an extent. With the 24 hour schedule, you’ll see more people during the day and less people at night and maybe some different types of NPC’s that only are seen during that time. As far as shopkeepers, that’s something much farther down the line, it’s been talked about, but not as important as other elements. They do want to have irregular or less scheduled events that happen based off prerequisites instead of a timed schedule. An example being miners on Hurston being overworked, underpaid and start stealing minerals and offload them at a certain time of day, they would rather have it be something that happened every couple weeks, or better yet, you talk to a certain NPC who will let you know when it happens several days out.
  • [Can I hire NPC to crew a ship that I personally won’t be on board?] It’s been discussed in the past, could you own a shop etc… as of right now Tony wants, if they’re going to have this type of detailed world, he’s not interested in trying to turn the game into something completely different. If you think about that concept, what it really means is the only way those type of things work is if you have lots of other bits of information and leverage on the player to make it a game, and it defocuses CIG from where they want the real impact of the game to be.
    • It’s unlikely you’ll be sending out unattended ships, cause you’re just rolling the dice. It succeeds or fails, and becomes something completely different. The game is already extremely ambitious, but as ambitious as it is, they’re trying to keep the design as focused as possible so they can get other features out to the community. Second pass will be more refining, balancing, etc… much farther down the road they can come back and look at what to explore next. And whether it’d be that or owning stores, etc, they’d bring up the next tier of features and decide which would be of most interest.
  • And that’s it for Tony Z. Community updates: Next week is Gamescom. Starting Wednesday they’ll be streaming live from the show floor. Friday there’s the party, it’ll be broadcast live on twitch. Next week there’ll also be a free-fly. Mustang Gamma, Saber, & Freelancer.
  • No AtV or RtV next week due to Gamescom, but to follow all the Gamescom content, follow along on CIG’s social media. They have revamped the Friday newsletter, it’s worth checking out.
  • Also thanks to all the Subscribers for making everything possible.

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