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As is with any information on our transcripts and summaries, everything posted is subject to change by CIG and in some cases may not always be 100% accurate at the time. While we strive for accuracy, mistakes do happen so please let us know if you find something amiss that we didn’t catch. Enjoy the show!
Eric Kieron Davis (EKD): Hey everyone and welcome to an incredibly special edition of Reverse the Verse. I’m Eric Kieron Davis and I’m honored to be your host today. If you’re a first time viewer, Reverse the Verse is our weekly QA show where we get a chance to answer your questions for everything you’ve seen for the past week. With our Citizen Con event happening in Los Angeles on Sunday, we’re in a very unique position of having all of our studio heads under one roof. So we thought, hell let’s have a little fun, let’s take this opportunity and dig a little deeper in the behind the scenes of this event.
Before we get started, as always we really want to take a moment to thank subscribers because without you guys, honestly I mean we couldn’t do this extra special content which pulls back the curtain so to speak on everything Star Citizen.
So here we go. Let me introduce you to these wildly talented group of gentlemen. We have to my right CEO and Project Director Chris Roberts.
Chris Roberts (CR): Hey, hello everybody.
EKD: We have our Global Head of Production Erin Roberts.
Erin Roberts (ER): Hi.
EKD: Our Persistent Universe Director Tony Zurovec.
Tony Zurovec (TZ): Howdy.
EKD: Our Vice President of Publishing John Erskine.
John Erskine (JE): Hello
EKD: And our Development Director Brian Chambers
Brian Chambers (BC): Hello.
EKD: You guys have a lot of words in front of your names, did you know that?
EKD: Alright well I gotta be honest you guys, honestly ever since joining this team I’ve been absolutely mesmerized what we’re able to do globally and getting a chance to see this progress shoulder to shoulder with our community is just incredibly unique and awesome. The energy at these events, I know personally it reinvigorates me, I think the team as well will just really keep pushing harder. For example when I saw that massive planet just show up on screen, all the way down to that rumbling Dragonfly and those blades of grass I mean it’s just, I don’t know, I felt so much more immersed and it was more intriguing than any other game I’ve played.
Alright enough mushy stuff, let’s just get right into it.
So let’s start off by telling me what stood out to you this year. Brian you travelled the most parsecs to get here so tell me what was special this year.
BC: Yeah, absolutely. Kind of to jump on what you said as far as the energy goes, it’s crazy it’s fun. It absolutely, you get so into it and so involved. So I was actually up on the balcony when were going through the beginning the presentation and before we got to the demo because I know what people are going to see, literally I went down and physically sat on the floor, kind of right next to the chairs to be around everybody, and as I’m watching this I’m hearing the reactions from the people and they kept coming up and like touching and patting me going “Oh my God!” and the sand worm came up you know so.
CR: Sandworm came up twice.
JE: Bonus worm
EKD: Bonus worm!
BC: It was an awesome show. I mean the energy from the backers and being able to take the time with them and you know, kind of hear their stories and how involved they are with everything it’s a unique experience in game development.
EKD: What about you guys? Anything else stand out from this event compared to past events?
ER: I Mean I think for me, obviously the event I really enjoyed going there and meeting everybody, but what I actually really enjoy about these events in terms of for the team, it really drives everybody towards getting stuff done to show the community and that really consolidates, it gets people really focused and to bring the stuff together. So you know stuff like Gamescom, Citizen Con are actually really great moments for the team as well to get stuff together, to get the technology to prove it and get it out and to then show it to everybody and get that feedback is always fantastic.
BC: Well we rally behind this point because we know we’re going to be live on stage.
ER: Yeah. There’s nothing more for… well you know you’ve got a date you can’t miss.
BC: The date is there, it’s booked, everything is sorted, you’re going to be there regardless.
CR: Yeah I think, I mean for me it’s definitely the thing that I like and you see it at CitizenCon you see it when we do other events like Gamescom event is that you get to be in person and meet everybody you’re making the game for and you sort of feel how excited they are and what their hopes and dreams are and the things they respond to and there’s an energy that comes with that that’s electric and so everyone when we’re not at these events reads the forums, things on Reddit and you get a sense that it’s really nice to have the community along side you and giving you the feedback, but like when you’re in person it’s a whole another level and I think that’s one of the things that sets us apart is that we really try to focus on the community and actually interacting directly with you know not just online, but even in person and bringing people together and so like the video we showed at the start of the show, that’s the way we feel. I mean we feel like in some ways the community was, well not in some ways, it definitely was in the DNA of the game from the very beginning, even before we announced the game we put the website together, a whole bunch of people joined up, got their golden tickets before we even announced what the game was going to be.
So it runs through everything we do, being very community eccentric so it’s really nice when you’re there and seeing it first hand and you’re meeting people who are telling you their stories and you’re seeing also the connections people are making in the real world based on the love of what Star Citizen will be or the experiences they’ve had even playing it right now or earlier iterations of alpha builds and that’s fantastic and always humbling to experience that and so it’s a lot of work getting there, there’s a sort of adrenaline and power to it that sort of fills you up to carry on and make things bigger and better and carry on and keep going.
BC: Before the doors opened me and another guy walked the whole line and we didn’t realize it went around the corner and how far it did and met so many people and in the process there was a group of eight people that came from Brazil.
BC: I met two people that came direct from Israel and I was like wow this is nuts right? A lot of people coming together.
CR: Australia, various places in Europe.
BC: Absolutely, all over, yeah just pointing that out too.
CR: Germany, Norway, Sweden, England, France.
BC: And you’re seeing people from the community meeting for the first time in face to face. They’ve been talking with each other forever online. It’s a great feeling, it’s cool.
EKD: Yeah It was just a completely amazing experience.
Alright let’s dive in we’ve got a million questions to go.
[6:45] EKD: Chris, first one for you, in the slides specifically from 3.0 to 4.0 there was no mention of ships docking together – when will be be able to launch our snub craft from larger ships, when will we be able to transfer fuel or cargo between larger ships?
CR: So, not in 2.6 but we are aiming to get that functionality somewhere between 3.0 and 3.1 – refueling is definitely- especially when you move to 3.0 and we’re in a full Stantion system, people are going to travel, maybe they’ll run out of fuel, of course they are going to get refueled and we really want to get the docking of say, the Merlin into the Constellation done. So we’ve been working on docking with the bigger ship which is what we need for the Squadron 42 stuff when you come in land, say on the Idris. So it falls out of that so depending on where that ends up will depend on whether it’s 3.0 or 3.1.
So, Tony you are next…
[7:44] EKD: After watching the CitizenCon demo, will there be alternate options like diplomacy, bribery, etc to gain access to mission sites without having to murder locals right off the bat. They didn’t even fire a shot at Vincent when he started in the beginning.
TZ: Yeah, that’s really the point of the whole game is to, as much as possible, put a system in place and then players to craft their own unique solutions through the world as opposed to what you see in a lot more linear games to where there’s really only one solution. One way through a particular obstacle. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to negotiate with every character but some of them, certainly you would be able to. Sometimes brute force will work best but there will be many other options for you to solve a given problem. We are trying to inject as much in terms of the ability of players to craft the game to something that’s actually appealing to them and having that still work, as long as it’s still logical within the confines –
CR: I think the other thing I would say is that what we showed, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that we’re doing that we talked about, sort of reputation factions which would dictate whether an AI on the ground is friendly to you or not friendly to you or whether they would let you use their landing pad, you could request it and maybe I could use it or maybe they wouldn’t want you and they would shoot at you. With what we did the sand nomads had essentially camped around the distress beacons to waylay people from space coming to find out about the distress beacon. That’s part of a mission component. That would be one of the things that in the mission, “Recover the distress beacon”, the Javelin would be a template but then there are additional layers on top of that. One of those could be outlaws or pirates or, in this case sand nomads, are basically using it as a hunting trap to waylay people that get there but there may also be other aspects to it that would be potentially different that would layered on top of the scenario of a crashed spaceship emitting a distress beacon.
TZ: Right, and besides the characters themselves, given the whole sandbox style of gameplay, it’s always possible that you could do things – exploit the system – such that you can change their behaviour without directly interacting with them. For example, in the case of the sand guys you could remotely detonate something that draws their attention away from what you want to get to and you could basically sneak in.
So, we’re trying to put as much of that stuff in place, again, so that it increases the potential for the player to really craft their own unique solutions which we think, in the end, is going to not only give the game a lot longer legs in terms of how you’re willing to play it but it means that everyone’s going to have their own different experience, even when they’re playing fairly similar occupations.
CR: To be clear, that’s kind of what the longer term subsumption stuff is doing. It’s not there right now, right, so that’s why we would have maybe shown some more stuff if we had had all that done now, but we’re working on that. That’s actually Tony’s primary focus is working with that along with the AI team and mission team to really flesh out that part of sandbox systemic behaviour for AI in the universe.
TZ: But it’s a much more complicated undertaking on the technological side to make everything systematic as opposed to just crafting a linear solution. If we wanted to do that, we wouldn’t have needed to change many of the tools that we got when we licensed the original CryEngine.
BC: If we wanted to do that, we’d be done already probably.
TZ: That’s exactly it.
CR: Or at least close to being done.
TZ: So, we’re trying to put in systems that we’re going to be using for many years to come and that permeates really all of the big ticket technological items that we’re doing. We’re designing for a decade-long run, or whatever, here and not just to solve the short term problem and get it out the door, that’s not what we’re doing at all.
EKD: As long as I can still murder the locals. As long as that’s still an option. Don’t take that away from me.
[12:10] EKD: Alright, let’s kick it over to Erin. We know that there is a revamp on the Cutlass Black in progress – will that be applied in time for the Red and Blue rollout in Alpha 3.1?
BC: Woah, nice one.
EKD: You’ve heard it here first.
ER: I thought I’d keep it nice and short.
CR: Erin is the antidote to turning.
JE: Yin and yang.
EKD: You heard it here folks.
[12:25] EKD: John, a little bit about Spectrum. With the original Orgs 2.0, right, becoming Spectrum, what does this mean for the other Org 2.0 features like fleet view and management?
JE: Sure, so those are sort of different topics. Fleet view is one and management is another. We’ve, as we’ve looked at what … how to address those things over the last year and a half or two years. Part of the reason we arrived at what Spectrum is today is because we want to do a really good job with those things and we want them to have meaning. So, like managing your org isn’t all that relevant if you don’t have a good way to communicate or if there’s not like alerts or things to do. So what will happen is in Spectrum as we move through the different objectives that we have over the next … you know let’s say over the next nine to twelve months, we’ll be taking the management and the administrative functions that exist today on the website and bringing those into the Spectrum interface itself, so that you’ll be able to do everything you can do today plus a lot more. The technology framework that we’re using allows us to develop very rapidly especially with UIs and some other functionality. So, we’ll be able to achieve the objectives that we’ve shared before plus some other cool stuff that all these like notifications in real time chat and, and this sort of game presence allows. We’ll still be able to deliver those goals, and I think there’s a lot of cool new opportunities that come along that’ll be, that’ll be good as well.
Fleet view is a, is a little different. We’ve looked at … you know there are some tools that people have made today that we really like, the sort of maps of all the ships and different things. We’re, kind of working with the game designers to understand how best to address that, because we’ve gotten different feedback from different people. So, primary thing is that we understand orgs want to be able to control the privacy of how those things would show up, because there’s got to be some strategic advantage to either knowing or not knowing what your org has or maybe there’s some privacy that like I may have a ship personally that I don’t want to be part of the org and all of this. So, we’re sort of waiting on the game design on that side to come along. And then … but like I said we’ll be able to do something really cool with the UI functionality that we’ll have.
EKD: That’s great.
JE: So …There’s, there’s really neat stuff.
EKD: With Spectrum, it kind of continues to enhance the immersion, right? The, the idea of where this is going to blend in there, you know? Kind of going back to the original adage of building the universe keeping us all connected, because …
JE: Absolutely …
EKD: It feels like the same. Yeah.
JE: Yeah and absolutely. I mean and the, goal is also to sort of make it so that your experience with Star Citizen is, really sort of ambient all the time. You don’t necessarily have to be logged into the game itself necessarily, but if you want to connect with people through your mobile device, or through the browser or through whatever you could sort of do that whether you are logged into the game or not logged into the game.
EKD: That’s great.
TZ: Yeah, now and that actually adds a lot of other interesting you know potential like you know what we’ve talked about in the past. Everything from a friend of yours needs some money and you’re on a phone, so you obviously can’t play the game, but you can certainly receive a request from him, respond affirmatively, etc. He, your friend, can invite you into a party so that as soon as you’re home you’re, you … all you do is you join the game and you are automatically routed in with your friends who are ready and playing. Many, many other possibilities to just enhance the overall game-play experience by bringing people together and allowing them to communicate regardless of whether they’re at that particular moment in the game or not.
EKD: Yeah. You can be sitting in a boring meeting, bribing my friend with in-game currency. My boss will never know.
JE: That’s ultimately the goal.
CR: I hope you know you’ll be in a boring meeting.
EKD: I’m, I’m not speaking as me of course.
JE: Yeah, present company excluded. [Laughs]
EKD: None of my meetings are boring.
BC: Your boss, your boss will know.
EKD: Yeah. Okay. Wrong, wrong room.
[16:25] EKD: I’ll switch out Brian real quick, I wanted to talk a little bit about the tech here. How much of the tech we saw at Citizencon can we expect to see in 3.0 – specifically tech wise.
BC: Everything and more. Right, the tech were building as we keep saying is a strong foundation – Procedural Planets, the Atmospherics and everything else is going in, Subsumption as it grows and grows. So everything you saw so far we put out for Citizencon will absolutely be in 3.0 and more.
Each system is going to grow a little bit more, more fidelity, little more in size, little bit more in complexity maybe, little bit more optimized, right?
CR: Pretty optimized, though.
BC: No, absolutely.
CR: People look at the home we put up – we call it the Homestead demo – because originally it started as a homestead but it grew into something much more but we actually left the debug frame counter on it to show what it was doing and the actual planetary tech is insanely fast because Marko and Carson as they were writing it were building it with processing on the GPU and also multi-core processing so it’s blazingly fast and most of the new stuff is built with a completely different paradigm in mind than say, some of the legacy stuff and that’s what we’re spending all the time refactoring-
CR: -but yeah, that stuff is fast but we have to go and get is the game simulation and some of the more legacy stuff to be optimized. But yeah, it’s going to be cool- we’ve got- we’re always adding stuff to the game.
[18:05]] EKD: Really quick going back to you – one of the questions we got a lot was “What were the specs of the PC running the procedural planet?”
BC: We knew that question was coming – so went to Dennis and actually go ‘hey, you built the machine”, so.. Intel i7 six core, 64 gigs of RAM with an ASUS 1080 with 8 gigs.
EKD: There you go.
BC: So I’m not sure on the SSDs-
CR: I think it was- you know we have an Intel- we’re partnering with Intel, they have these new SSD so they sent us some of their SSDs.
BC: So one of them.
CR: I don’t think it’s actually the future one that we may be involved in that’s going to be super super fast but I think this one was a really fast good one.
BC: I fin-
TZ: A single card, not two cards-
BC: Yes, absolutely.
TZ: -as a player to ramp your performance up more-
BC: -I find it telling though that was the most asked question out of everything yeah. By the time we’d looked right?
BC: -because people go, if I think it through, they go “Wow, there’s a lot going on there, what kind of rig do I need to be able to pull that off?”, right? And it is, it’s not crazy components in there – they are definitely higher end, right?
TZ: But that is always a big part of the problem right, there are a number of people in the industry that can basically push things to the next level, but doing it such that you can actually get a playable framerate is a completely different set of problems.
BC: Absolutely, yep.
TZ: And, you know, there seems to be, as you and Chris were both saying, it’s like there is a constant concentrated focus going for- especially on all the new tech – to basically utilize all the CPU cores-
BC: Absolutely. I have had that question a lot with Frankfurt and engine tech and so on, and I always say, yes we’re absolutely trying to future proof everything – trying to build things now to where we can look ahead and go “OK, where is it going tech-wise and hardware-wise” to make sure we are as solid as possible.
EKD: Yeah, totally.
[20:00] EKD: Tony, for you – What is the current status of instancing? How do you plan to keep playable areas expanding without feeling empty? Or risking crashing the server if everyone tries to gather in one spot?
TZ: Well, we’re actually very close if we wanted to, to do instancing now. We’re already effectively shunting players into instances every time they join an Arena Commander game, that’s what’s happening. We’ve already got persistence so we can already save player state and restore it to a particular configuration, you know, as you join a game. That’s already 75% of the way there.
But, Chris wanted to push the game to a further level versus what all of these other games that approach this problem have done and so what we’re pursuing at the moment is really more of a completely unified networking model whereupon there won’t really be a bunch of individual sharded instances of the game. There will just be one world and as you move around within that world you will be shuttled seamlessly, transparently from individual server to individual server and this comes with some technical problems and gameplay problems that we’re going to have to resolve and we haven’t figured out all of those things at the moment but we’re working on them right now. For example, you might have mission givers that effectively act as a bottleneck and there are too many players trying to talk with that guy at one time. How do you deal with things like that? There are many different things, but it would be an extended conversation to go too far into all of the details.
But, the big answer really is that we’re trying to discard that whole ‘players in little isolated instances’ and put everybody into the same universe effectively simultaneously.
EKD: That’s one of the things that stood out to me even back in the Gamescom demo. I had a lot of people even come up and talk about the seamless transition. ‘So, I was up in the sky and now I’m on the planet and I haven’t seen a single loading screen.’
CR: Definitely. But even on the instancing side you’ll still have that seamless transition.
EKD: It’s great. It’s great.
CR: So it’s really more just about the fact that there will be a limit to how many players we can simulate on one server. Right now it’s 24 in Arena Commander and it’s about 40 when you’re running around Arc Corp. Really, that’s actually 8 instances running on one server. So, if you just times it by 8 and figure it out we could have 200 players if we could scale the game linearly that way but right now we can’t because it’s not – parts of it are built for multithreading and distributing to all of the cores but some aren’t. That’s what we’re doing a lot of refactoring on, so an individual server instance could perhaps run 200 players which then is obviously a lot denser than what we have right now and you would still seamlessly go between locations. But, on top of that if you can mesh those servers together and each server is authoritative over a group of players and generally those players would be based on colocation and each server tells the other servers what it has done with the players it’s responsible for. You can sort of, on a peer-to-peer basis on the server side, you can have thousands of players being simulated all at once but each server is only doing the work for its little portion. That’s the new model, we’re not the only people that are working on this or trying to work on this. It is the new model of using the big – using the cloud to give you a lot more game experience and that’s where we’re going. At some point, you know, we may even – that may allow us to have 2,000 people in the same area or whatever but what if there was maybe 10,000? At that point we probably would still have to instance.
At the beginning here we’re trying to make it not feel instanced so you would be gated. So, if there’s already too many people in a location, ‘the landing pads are all full’. Just like, you want to get into that bar but it’s busy because it’s at capacity and the fire marshall would shut it down.
TZ: That’s kind of the gameplay limitations that I was referring to. Just like in the real world – everyone cannot be in the same space at the same time. The question becomes, how exactly do you represent that when you’re talking about different things. A landing zone is one thing, a guy you need to talk to on a planet is another thing. So there are a number of different solutions we’ve got in mind for how to deal with this stuff. Another thing to point out is that there are two major things going on with networking. One thing is the macro networking model which is going to allow all of the players to seamlessly exist with one another, the other one is just the low-level networking rewrite that’s going to give us a performance boost and it’s also going to give us just a much more efficient code base versus what we got when we inherited the engine. That’s going on and the low level rewrite is what we’re aiming to release with 3.0. The unified networking model is something that’s going to be post that, we don’t have a specific date in mind. We will aim to do a test of that system at some point next year to where we basically band a number of servers together creating a shard of sorts to where we’re testing the concepts that we’re talking about but on a much more localized scale and this should ramp the game up to… don’t know right now but hundreds of players in one of these meshes.
EKD: Half of the stuff you guys say, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I took one programming class and I realized I was not good at it. But, this stuff is absolutely I think one of the most impressive and most mesmerizing parts of our game and not just because it’s over my head.
[25:50] EKD: So speaking of that Chris one of the questions that came up a lot was specifically about the presentations. Chris will we be able to quantum from Atmo like they did in the presentation.
CR: No the intention will not to be able to allow you to do that. So we were only doing that for and essentially it was done by Sean and Simon in their tech demo, but we put that in so we could quickly travel to the other planet without wasting everyone’s time. So you’re definitely not going to be able to quantum jump while still in atmosphere
ER: Well it would be cool. We could basically have like, you know, if you want to make that dangerous maneuver sort of like Star Trek did. Basically just Quantum and you basically say, “I’ll just go straight into the atmosphere but I might take some damage and so forth”.
CR: Okay we’ll discuss it, but generally the idea is you have to get into space before you can engage quantum travel.
TZ: The truth comes out, Erin is always trying to add new features and Chris is always trying to pull it back.
EKD: The truth comes out.
JE: There you go.
[26:50] EKD: John, on the Spectrum side, will we have ability to add integrations like chat bots to help organisational channels.
JE: Yes. So we’re building Spectrum on a technology stack that allows for that. Principally we’re using React & Redux which actually an open source framework that was developed by some Facebook engineers. So it’s really amazing, everything that’s supported in this technology. So bots and that sort of technology are available. As we’ve looked at you know, the state of the art today with chatbots, there’s not a lot of compelling examples in the real world that we can point to, but we can imagine lots of stuff that you could do with a chatbot in Spectrum, especially as an organisation. Like you could potentially manage you know, org banking, or you could, you know there’s just a lot of stuff that we could envision. It’s not something that would be available obviously in the first release of the product, but it’s definitely something that we’re looking at.
We’re particularly interested in finding some examples in the real world that we think are compelling that we could draw from.
CR: So you’re asking for submissions from the community there.
JE: Yeah, I mean especially over the last few days I had a number of really engaging conversations at the event Sunday night with people who had lots of ideas about Spectrum. We had a couple of groups of people here in the office yesterday for tours who also had some really interesting ideas, specifically hearing from people who are managing large orgs. Several people I talked to managed or are involved with multi game orgs and guilds and some of whom are enormous. So yeah we definitely want to get that feedback. That’s definitely one of the reasons all throughout the development of Star Citizen, we want to release information early to get feedback so this is no exception of course. We’d love to hear that and I’d love to solicit feedback from people.
EKD: Yeah. I think one of my favourite comments after the Spectrum discussion was, “This is Spacebook”.
ER: Yeah, right.
EKD: Let’s call it Spacebook.
ER: It is definitely a very specific kind of social network for Star Citizen if you look at it that way.
EKD: Yeah, that’s right.
ER: Because we’re able to you know, leverage really cool technology that’s in the open source domain now, we’re not trying to see things and then invent our own fundamental technology to do it. We’re able to in many cases leverage the same frameworks that are driving popular platforms. So it’s exactly that.
EKD: Cool, that’s great.
[30:05] EKD: Erin. So picking up ammo in AC from destroyed ships seems a little video gamey. Assuming no tractor beam or cargo scoop or something that’s being existent, will this be limited to AC or can we expect to see this in the Persistent Universe.
ER: No. The Persistent Universe is going to be very different. Arena Commander is meant to be very much the sort of virtual environment you go into and also I mean I can’t say that’ll stay in Arena Commander for the whole time either. At the time that was a very good way of getting some gameplay in there very quickly for everybody, but in the Persistent Universe no. Everything in the Persistent Universe is going to be done in a sort of real way. So whether it’s refueling or rearming you have to go to a location, you have to rearm, you have to refuel, you have to some one fuel you, if you’re going to pick up stuff you have to grab it. You don’t just drive over it or fly over it, you have to stop, you’re going to have to tractor it in or you have to grab it so forth. We want to have that sort of much more real experience in the Persistent Universe.
EKD: That’s great. Has it really enhanced that gameplay having those pieces in Arena Commander from what we’ve seen from as far as our tests have gone?
CR: We’re still in the process.
EKD: There you go.
CR: It would be hard to comment. I mean the idea was the balance things which is like you fire your missiles and maybe you’re doing well, you get some more missiles and add your reload. If you could land on a platform and then be on it for a few seconds and reload. People were sort of worried about, “Well what happens if people are spawn camping the platforms” So we’ll do pickups and see how that goes.
So really it’s actually going to be, you know we have our own opinions, but we haven’t opened this stuff up yet, we’ve just done the flight model changes to the Evocati or the Avocados as everyone calls them.
ER: It has become yeah.
CR: And they will also to play that and give us feedback and then it’ll go to a wider PTU and then obviously out to everyone. So that’s where we are in the process of right now. So we’re in the process of performing playtests everyday on Star Marine, on Arena Commander and just trying to really sort of make those fun, quick get into, well balanced, multiplayer pvp situations. So you know people who sort of want to train themselves, dogfighting, train themselves doing run and gun combat, they’ll be able to do it quickly without having to travel large distances or risk having their ship being blown out underneath them and stuff like that.
[32:29] EKD: Chris, this is a good question for you. In Alpha 3.0 how will the procedural planet tech be applied to our four planets in the Stanton System like ArcCorp, Hurston, Crusader and MicroTep …Tech? Will these be the planets as they’ve been designed to be, or will be … they be the stand in planets like we saw on the v2 Demo until a new patch?
CR: Well not, so no we’re definitely building the Stanton planets to have their, their lore is, and want their, so that MicroTech is sort of … you know whatever you want to call it, ice-snow planet, you know think Hoth from Empire Strikes Back. And, Hurston is a sort of over polluted mined out planet. So those potentially are some of the stuff you saw in the Homestead Demo would have some elements of more of the density stuff, but there’ll be a lot more kind of like petrified trees and this whole place will be polluted, probably polluted ocean. You know in terms of ArcCorp that’s some stuff that we are working on, but we do feel like we’ll be able to sort of cover large amounts of the planet’s surface with buildings. There’s a massive object rendering tech that we have that’s very efficient, that’s all very GPU bound and that’s actually what does all the, all the rocks and all the trees that you saw in the massive scale that you saw. That’s actually sort of all pushed onto the GPU …
CR: … and done very fast, which is the same way that we would do sort of the buildings on ArcCorp. Crusader is slightly different, ’cause it’s a gas giant. So, it’s a gas giant and you’d be sort of up in the clouds and then they’re floating platforms. So that in some ways it’s almost like a space station, ’cause it’s sort of a platform that you land on. But that’s, that’s what we’re focusing on. Of course wasn’t mentioned, but we’re putting Levski in there, which is sort of more of a mining kind of rocky kind of planet, so it’ll be looking a lot better than what you saw in the Gamescom Demo, because that was the planet v, v1 that didn’t have all the eco, ecosystems that we have and all the extra tools, which are getting better every day, so what you will see when 3.0 goes live will be you know at least as good as what you saw at CitizenCon, but most likely more better, because the other thing is we’re going to … more time to work on them a bit more polish. Where you know what we put together we showed at CitizenCon and the homestead planet, that was put together in a relatively short period of time and also the tools were still being iterated on, which meant the …
BC: Yeah, man.
ER: Yeah, I mean tools and assets. That’s a fair assessment.
CR: … Yeah well I always meant that like if they built an ecosystem or they do height maps and everything and then the tools change like a week, two later they got to redo it all …
CR: … So that was happening a lot where things would change in the tool set that would like invalidate a lot of the work that was done so we’re redoing a lot. So, so as that tool set matures, which it is doing and the artists get more familiar with it and use more of it and we do use the ability improvements, you know I think it’s going to be spectacular. I mean the … if you look where our spaceships were when we first launched in 2012, they got better in 2013 and ’14 and ’15 and ’16, now you look at what the, the vehicle team is turning out and it’s amazing. The same you can say on the characters. So, so yeah, I’m, I’m just excited by the game-play possibilities that the techs, ’cause this … you know I, we catch a lot of flack for like, “Oh well you know you’re taking the time and the schedule’s increased.”, but the kind of game-play that opens up, because we can flesh out these worlds. They’re not just a very isolated landing area and you’re sort of on a kind of maybe you’re on a loading screen, but you’re still streaming in and you’re on reels, rails going down there, which was the original design to whole player is or open planets with very different ecosystems. I mean you could have all sorts of game-play that you normally, traditionally would not have in a traditional space sim game. You could have people stranded on a planet playing basically a version of a survival game.
CR: You could have people playing domination to control their own parts of a planet that there’s minerals that they’re fighting over. So the, the possibilities of game-play or adventuring or exploring are … I mean it, it’s like watching every Sci-Fi movie you’ve loved, and you can create all those scenarios now and, and that’s just awesome.
TZ: Yeah. Well that, that’s actually a … it’s a…good point, because I think that given the level of detail we’re going to be able to inject into these things and the fact that the occupations will be able to take advantage of this in so many different ways. I mean from a design perspective you know, the difference between being able to land on realistic planets and control it to that level of fidelity in addition to all of the stuff that we can put in space and transitions between them. I mean it’s, it’s just, it’s completely mind blowing. And I think that there’s going to be a lot of players that are going to have all the content that they want in just a small part of one solar system, much less the rest of that solar system or all of the other systems that we are eventually going to put in.
CR: Yeah, I mean I think the story and the adventures people will be able to experience in the… game, you know when it’s a little further along it’s going to be like nothing else. So I’m …
CR: … I’m super … I’m like … I’m as excited or energized now are more so than I ever have been, because I can see all these pieces there.
CR: We’ve got them all there and they’re close enough, you know we’ve still got to create a bunch of extra content, and we’ve got to make sure everything sort of connects properly together, but we’re very far along on it, and so I’m not looking any piece of technology to create this dream game that I don’t feel we’re going to have or make work. So what we’re really focused on now is connecting everything, making sure that it scales, it will run efficiently and we have the tools for our artists and designers to work with, so …you know … next year I’m feeling like we’re going to be you know it’s the you know it’s not this “sky’s possibility” it’s [Waves hands expansively above head]…
TZ: Well, it’s …
CR: … you know whatever … the infinite universe of possibility.
TZ: Well this, this is actually having ripple effects all through the occupations and how we were going to implement them and it’s opening up just, you know, dramatically different possibilities that we would not have had if we didn’t have this technology available to us. All the thing … all of the sudden things like you know discovery and mining and farming will take on you know [Waves hands expansively above head] you know … just many, many new doors will open that I think players are just going to get, get a complete kick out of.
[39:02] EKD: What kind of challenges have been presented now that we start seeing this stuff and it unlocks a lot. What kind of challenges are we having from holding back on going back on going bigger or going more. What sort of challenges are we seeing because it’s gotta be exciting, specifically I’m looking at Brian being in Frankfurt not that we’re not all seeing this, but in Frankfurt where you’re doing all this tech and these guys are making these planets.
BC: I think, I mean we have to focus ourselves. I mean we look at it, you know our first and foremost focus is delivering what the fans or the backers have asked for, right? People find us and they said: “Hey, be really cool if and this and this”. So that’s really first and foremost our focus, but yes with that tech it has opened up so much and we have lists and lists and lists and lists of stuff.
TZ: Just on the scanning which recently came up and so now you’ve got effectively a real world sitting right there in front of you and so it kind of plays to what the game has always been aspiring to be which is we don’t want to you know, have these simplistic mechanics, you press this button, you do this sort of dexterity challenge and then everything is revealed to you. Just like in the real world there are companies that have been hunting for oil for the last century on just one planet Earth and they’re still finding vast new formations, deposits, etc to pull this stuff out of the game. It should be like that in the game as well such that here’s a planet and it’s in a fairly populated safe zone and all of a sudden some prospector goes out and he discovers an incredibly valuable ore deposit right there and then the economy is going to respond to that immediately and what’s that going to do is it’s going to have all sorts of changes in the economic system, in what type of combat is occurring there, what types of mission are being offered to the player etc. Until eventually the system gets back into a state of equilibrium.
BC: The moment we got the first planet completed and we were putting together the Pupil to Planet video. We were behind Hannes Appell’s machine and he said, “Hey come over here, I’ve got this together” and he’s working with Macro and a few of the guys and we saw this little dot on his screen and he started flying towards it and we stood there, 10 minutes went by, that was a little bit bigger and we were like, really what are we waiting on?
JE: Some demo dude.
BC: Right! And he was going in and speeding the ship up and we got a little bit closer and closer and closer, and you didn’t truly understand scale right? Seeing this tiny we flew in and flew in and it occupied the full screen and then we went in and then you’re there on the surface and at that point just realising that entire surface area can be navigated somehow and we’re going to have hundreds of those and you just go Oh my god…
TZ: And things go…
BC: And just the possibilities that you have, the real estate you have to work with to applied gameplay to push for mining, which then pushes potentially for more careers and so on and so on. So it definitely has more challenges, but I look at it as it gives us more opportunity to expand this game in ways that are unique to Star Citizen.
[42:14] EKD: Well, as you’d expect we’ve got a lot of questions about procedural planets and the planet stuff. So, Chris, what kind of dark magic allows the game to track an object that is on a rotating planet and keep it all in proper relation to everything else in a massive solar system at a millimeter precision.
CR: Well, we’ve obviously talked about the fact that we shifted to 64-bit mathematical precision. So, I do notice that people get confused between 64-bit binaries and 64-bit vector math. So, it’s not really 32 or 64-bit binary stuff. That’s not the issue here. We’ve moved the vector math from 32 bits to 64 bits and that’s important because it’s floating point and with floating point, even though a 32-bit floating point number can describe a very large number – billions in size or much bigger than that – the problem is that when you move to the big numbers your precision at the low end becomes not very good at all. All of a sudden your precision becomes in the meters, or in the kilometers if you get really big numbers. as opposed to the millimeters which is what we need because no matter what we’re in first person. You can see your hands, I mean there’s not much distance between my hand and here [his eye]. All of this detail up close you expect to see, yet all of this detail has to exist in a star system that is millions, billions of kilometers across. So, you just need a bigger range in your floating point to be able to ascribe very high precision but also the large numbers and that’s why we had to move to 64-bit.
That’s one of the things that enables the scale say, that we showed in the demo we showed at CitizenCon where you can see this planet and you fly past that space station – and you know we could have been way further out. The only reason why we had what was called trackview which is the in-engine, in-game – that was all realtime rendered, you can see on the video you can see the frame counter going. Trackview is where we put a camera on a spline path and fly it in and we basically did it there instead of you flying in a Constellation is because to cover that distance that we were covering in a short period of time for a demo, we don’t want everyone sitting there going [tapping his leg and whistling impatiently].
[Everyone talks at once]
CR: So, we could have been further out and the planet could have been just a dot or you don’t even see it and then you fly in and go past it, but that’s what you’re doing. So, you have to have this massive scale but then get down on the ground and you’re driving around and walking around and it has the resolution, the texel density of the detail of the models whether it’s a plant or anything that hold up to what you’ve seen in the most recent first person game on the highest end PC or the next-gen consoles or whatever. So, you need the 64 bit to do that. So we’ve talked about that, that’s one of the things that enabled 2.0 – the large world.
Then, the second thing that we have on the planets which is also sort of an extension of what we did for the multicrew is that we have the physical worlds that we simulate. So, we have more than one that we’re doing which are called the physics grids and so we have the big global grid that is basically the star system’s physical space and then if you’re flying around in a spaceship there’s the local grid for the interior of it that’s in essence its own physical world simulating inside the bigger physical world. Well, a planet is really just a big version of that and we have a special version of a physical grid that is projected around a planet’s sphere and so, when you transition in – where we determine the transition is actually at the atmospheric level so that’s how we detect when to do the atmospheric effects and everything else like that. there’s a certain distance above the surface of the planet that the atmosphere emits and when you enter that you basically transition into the grid of the planet and the grid of the planet is relative to the planet so if we spin – it’s in what we call “the planet zone” – so, if we start rotating the planet and you’re inside that grid you just move with it because as far as you’re concerned you are relative to the world, you don’t care about where you are relative to the star system. So, it’s essentially just a very big version of what we use for spaceships but sort of projected across onto a sphere and, in some ways, it’s kind of a very coarse rough simulation of what happens in gravity because at some point you enter say, the Earth’s atmosphere and via its gravitational pull you come into the frame of reference of the Earth and essentially when you’re in the local grid of the planet you’re in the frame of reference of the planet. We don’t have to be rocket scientists to sort of figure out all of the kind of trajectories that you do if NASA’s figuring out going from Earth and going to Mars or whatever it would be.
But, that does allow us so if you’re flying around in your ship and you come to whatever planet and it’s rotating on its axis, you come in and once you enter its grid you will now be in its frame of reference. That’s how we can do it and that’s the important thing to you know… so, the sunsets and the sunrises are not us moving the sun it’s the planet itself moving.
TZ: Well, I would add one more thing which is, this is just one of the classic examples on this project of building the proper foundation and how it has so many benefits down the road. Back when the company was much smaller there were a number of engineers devoted to this conversion for a significant period of time. In other words, it was a real investment when there was nothing to show for it and all of a sudden that functionality was done and now you could start to build upon that. If didn’t have the 64-bit space we wouldn’t have interplanetary travel. We could have basically done a little area where you can run around but there would be no way to get from that area to another without doing the instancing. Now that we have the 64 bit, now we have the option to basically have this seamless transition from planet to space station. Now we have the option of the procedural planets. We could not have those if we were limited to 32 bit space.
CR: If we have 32 bit we couldn’t even have, even on the planet itself, the range we do.
BC: Yeah. Absolutely. You’d be clamped.
CR: That’s typically why most games whether it’s Battlefield or whatever, they have a certain limit to their map size because when you get to the edge of their map size you start to have precision errors. If anyone remembers back in the old days of Arena Commander when we had maps of a certain size when you got to the edge of the map size you would probably see some hand shaking because it was having precision errors. But for us, when we say, “Yeah, no… that is not a skybox. That is actual, that is real mountain you can go to – you can but you can only really do that when you’re doing the 64-bit –
TZ: Doing things in this way, it inevitably makes the initial parts of the game much more difficult, much more time consuming. You tend to see less up front and then as you get these pieces in place you start to get this exponential –
CR: It’s the systemics of it. It’s like while you’re down on the planet and you look in the sniper sight and you can see the space station you flew past. And that IS the space station. That’s not something we faked in. That is literally the space station in the system map –
TZ: But that changes all sorts of things. All of a sudden you can see, “Hey, there’s a raging battle going on there,” and I know just because I looked up at the sky so I run over to my ship and I get up and I go to assist those guys etcetera, etcetera. And so all of these things start to play off one another when you basically do them to this level of fidelity.
EKD: I can’t believe even less than a year ago, right, we were transitioning from outside of ships to inside of ships was giving me a heart attack and here we are talking about planets. It’s really exciting stuff.
[50:13] EKD: Erin. Lets shift focus a little bit here.
EKD: Star Marine, a little more in the near. Will we have AI combat modes similar to the Vanduul Swarm?
ER: We certainly will, but it won’t be part of the first iteration. The first iteration is basically the balancing, we’re working all towards player versus player. So we’re refining the animation sets, the combat moves, the way in sort of first person strafe, third person. You can basically use cover and all this kind of stuff and so forth. Throw grenades, the works. There’s that kind of level so that’s what we’re refining to get players into the game and then that’s what what will come out with 2.6 and then shortly after that when the AI comes online. The AI basically will be in the game properly. The first of that you’ll see it in 3.0. You’ll probably see it in Squadron as well, but basically that when the first sort of version that people will play will be 3.0 so that will be the time when we’ll probably have a mode where you can go in with your buddies and fight AI and have that level of going in and trying to take stuff out and we can create scenarios.
CR: Yeah like outlaws defending a space station or ship that you’ve got to take over or vice versa defending against outlaws.
ER: But I mean the really interesting thing and yes that’s a scenario you can set up in Star Marine, but the really interesting thing is actually the 3.0 stuff where you can be in your spaceships with your buddies and you come across an abandoned space station somewhere and in the actual Persistent Universe you have to go in and take the men out.
EKD: You’re doing the same.
CR: Yeah, you’re right.
ER: That where for me is the really exciting stuff in terms of making that sort of stuff.
CR: Yeah we’ll probably do more of that, yeah exactly in 3.0 and if you did something in Star Marine it would be a horde mode where you’re just wave after wave, space zombie.
BC: When AI subsumption matures right? It gets more and more and more, then the designers just start going crazy and so that’s when it opens it up for us to create more play scenarios.
ER: I mean there’s loads of stuff in terms of… and I know this was specifically about Star Marine, but just with the AI stuff we’re really looking forward to it because there’s so many things we can do in terms of, you know have bases which are like actually you know, protected by AI and so forth and we can bring in lots of different things where you can deal with griefing in some ways which at the moment we just have green zones and stuff like that.
TZ: That’s another interesting point because Chris has said before well there was kind of no point to bringing out Star Marine way back when after we wound up releasing that same level of functionality, players to go up against each other within the actual Persistence Universe. Now however things are starting to change. We’re very close to basically having the AI out and so all of a sudden you see, “Oh well Star Marine will actually be a quite effective test bed for some of these AI concepts”. So If you’d release Star Marine six months ago, we were still too far away on the AI to really realise any sort of significant benefit, but now these two things are coming together and that’s not really a coincidence. All of a sudden for the same reason we used Arena Commander to test and tweak the responsiveness of the ships and basically get that polish so that when we were actually able to release players in the Persistent Universe, we had things working at a pretty good level. The same is going to be true with Star Marine and AI and all that type of stuff.
[53:52] EKD: So we’ve talked a lot over the time of the months of SataBall. So the question is, is it happening?
CR: Well we will do Sataball. It will not be for 2.6. So Star Marine, the first iteration will be as we talked about at CitizenCon. Two, you know a small map, essentially pvp and a large pvp map. Sataball would be in one of the later iterations. It wouldn’t be in 3.0, but the ones later or we didn’t really call it out, but it is on our roadmap for the Star Marine, one of the game modes. It’s also something that we want to put into the universe itself. So for instance we talked about racing, so racing is a mode in Arena Commander, but some of the most fun racing will be like the in fiction in the universe racing. So you know people can already see…
JE: Pink slips.
CR: You can already see Grim Hex that there’s part of a race course that’s already laid out there and later iteration we’re going to that open up where players would compete and maybe bet against each other with UEC.
ER: We want to have like you’ll basically get a message going on that says the championships are on, make your way to Grim Hex or check out the race course and everyone will meet there and they’ll have races.
BC: And that’s going to suck because John was just saying pink slips, like alright, put your ownership on the line.
CR: Race you for your ship.
[Everyone comments and laugh]
CR: We’ll definitely have it where everyone looks at their Dragonfly zipping along and you go okay that’s podracing and so we’re going to have all that sort of stuff and Sata Ball while it’s not racing is another in fiction sport. So we’ll have it Arena Commander, but potentially we could have SataBall competitions of teams that are happening in the Persistent Universe.
ER: Well huge areas. You go land, park your ship, you go in and start walking inside the the big space station and you enter the arena and you go play against people and have other people watch and that kind of stuff, that’s what’s going to be really cool. It’s like going to Sunday night football.
EKD: And now I know what that guy was doing on Spectrum was doing when we was transferring money from that money because he lost some podrace bets didn’t he. Some Sataball.
[56:00] EKD: Talking about the sandstorm a little bit about V2, the demo. Mr. Vincent Sinatra ran for his life. I want to ask a question about you know was that long term going to cause damage to their health, is that the expectation Tony?
TZ: Yeah I think the environment in many situations should be at least as big an opponent to you accomplishing your objectives as other players or AI, NPCs would be. It’ll be much more than just sandstorms that can impede visibility or could potentially actually cause you to lose health. We’ll have on these planets volcanic vents. Some ships, some armours.
ER: Some sandworms.
TZ: Will be more capability of enduring high level of electrical storms.
CR: Yeah we’re definitely going to have dynamic weather and whether that can impede or affect you or hurt you. So like we showed in the demo we did, you arrive in your Constellation going to the beacon and then there’s bad air basically over that desert and it was unsafe to fly so you had to find a landing pad that was safe. So that’s going to be much more systemic, that’s our goal. So that was for that particular case it was we set up some of the events that would happen, but they were sort of on triggers when you were near that event, but we are actually, I mentioned this on a Gamers Nexus interview, we are looking at doing full cloud weather simulation based on here’s a planet, here’s the hot, here’s the cold areas and we want to have that entry in sort of planet that has I don’t know, if you think Prometheus when they come in the entry to the planet. Prometheus have all these things and also have encourage for players to use different suits, environmental suits or vehicles. You can’t always fly somewhere and get out. Maybe you have to land, take your rover to go somewhere.
TZ: That’s exactly it. Some of the ore that you’ll attempt to mine will give us so much Electromagnetic interference where you effectively have to touch down on your ship and all of a sudden you have a real reason why you want to have that rover to make that last 10 Kilometer trip, but of course that opens up many more gameplay possibilities now that you’re traipsing around…
CR: If you’re caught in the wrong area when the bad weather front hits and you’re not prepared you know, like a sandstorm, but plenty of other things.
TZ: Acid rain, heat, electrical storms, impaired visibility, there’s a whole slew of things that we want to put into the system.
EKD: Yeah. The real burning question was what was the name of the sandworm. What did we name the sandworm.
BC: Don’t tell him.
EKD: You’re not saying it? Alright.
[58:49] EKD: It was mentioned that subsumption is going to allow for 24 hour scripting. Alright this has been kind of on the hot topic with crews and big ships. How does that apply to the AI crew? Tony?
TZ: Your crew, NPC crews will basically be, they will follow normally 24 hour schedules and stuff. Now in Squadron 42, it’s a little bit different to where you go out on a mission and its possible, we were actually discussing this the other day me and Phil were to we may want to make it as such that the, on given missions you’re able to have key characters effectively remain awake so you can communicate with them regardless how long you’re out doing that because the clock is always turning and yet your character may be out there for 16, for 20, for 24 hour effective periods. So if you need frequent callbacks from the captain of a given ships etc, then he may be will in just you to basically put his schedule aside and stick it out with you. Meanwhile the rest of the crew and this is really on a design basis, they’ll determine when it’s appropriate to rigidly stick to the rules and when we want to apply a little bit more flexibility to the system, but the ultimate objective will be that the characters within the game will follow a schedule that you would expect to see in the real world. The captain is sometimes on the bridge, sometimes he’s in the mess hall, sometimes he’s sleeping. The gunners sometimes at their station, sometimes they’re in the rec room, etc, etc. This will have again just like we’re talking about with a lot of these things, this will have a lot of follow on effects in terms of how you about accomplishing missions and stuff.
ER: Right and also going through that we have states. So if we go to a state of emergency, then all those crew know to go to their positions and what their positions are and so forth.
TZ: It almost becomes the concept of food or fuel or anything else which is allowing your crew downtime is something you’re going to have to take into account. If you expect to head on out into space and you have a large NPC crew and you want to sit out there for hours and hours and hours then you’re not going to want to leave yourself that entire in a dangerous situation or else you’ll have to worry about crew ships or whatever else.
BC: Could you deplete the energy of your crew? Like accidentally.
TZ: We’d wind up modeling things, there’s a lot of different ways.
CR: it would be like mini sims for the crew. They’re going to need to be paid, they’re going to need to be fed.
TZ: That’s exactly it, and so if you…
CR: They’re going to need to get pets occasionally.
BC: Every hour I’m going to throw a grenade in the same spot just to wake him up.
JE: Gotta have bathroom breaks.
TZ: If you push them beyond their limits, they will basically take it, but they will start to become less happy, they will start to demand more money. Eventually their effectiveness at their job will start to deteriorate and so you can do this, but there will be effects to it all, and so the idea is that as with fuel, you don’t have infinite fuel, you don’t have the ability to absorb infinite damage, all these things need to be replenished. There’s a cool down period of all these sorts and your crew will be similar.
I’ve said before we don’t want to become Sim Citizen, we don’t want to make it this tedious micromanagement sim so it will be nothing like that, but we’ll have the concepts, they’ll be very easily understood and accessible. You’ll have the ability to control this to the level that you want while at the same time simultaneously adding a whole lot of different possibilities in terms of the gameplay that you haven’t seen elsewhere.
EKD: Okay, everybody has to answer this question.
[1:02:30] EKD: What is the one role that you will not have your AI crew do for you? What is the one role you want to do on your ship? For me, I’m never going to pilot. Just so you know. I’m not a good enough pilot. I’ll always be on guns. I’m always “turret guy”.
EKD: Erin, what about you?
ER: Fine, you put me on the spot.
ER: What’s the one role of the ship. I think I’d probably like to be the engineer. I think that’s, the … that’s the one sort of … that’s the cool one. I think that’s going to be really cool …
ER: … you know especially on those larger ships where you get to actually go and reroute power, work out what’s not working, call in problems, send people to fix stuff and all that kind of stuff. I mean that would be a kind of cool position.
BC: I’m going to give the soft, the safe answer but the truth answer is I want to do it all. And it’s one of the things honestly that I dig about …
TZ: Awww, you’re stealing my answer.
EKD: I thought … I …
BC: Sorry, but no, no that, on this, absolutely …
CR: Well, I think Eric’s question was more like which role would you not let the, the AI do …
BC: Well, but no …
CR: … and save for yourself.
JE: And he said any of them? … none of them.
EKD: And I was going to say for you, barber.
EKD: That’s him … that’s going to do
JE: Whoa, he went there. [Chuckles]
BC: But honestly, I, I’m the type of gamer if you give me a bunch of different options, I want to try this out for now or maybe I try … I play this one for a month. Maybe I play this one for a few days, right. I really dig switching it up, because it always keeps it fresh.
EKD: Totally, yeah.
BC: So the trick for me will be find the one I’m best at …
BC: … then maybe I stick with it.
EKD: Yeah, yeah. Tony?
TZ: Yeah, no. I’m, actually very similar you know as I’ve said in my past. It’s like I tend to have …
BC: Well, he could barber as well.
TZ: I tend to have a you know the, type of mindset that likes to jump between different things. And so to me I … you know at times I feel like being the pilot, at other times I’ll feel like being the gunner …
BC: Yeah, sure.
TZ: … at other times I’ll want to be the engineer, and so as I’m doing any one of those roles I’m going to have my NPC crew fill in the gaps that I need to make you know to allow the ship to continue to operate. So for, me it’s the breadth of possibilities that you as a player can do in the game that really makes this entire experience.
ER: Sorry. Actually I, just revisited what I feel my favorite position would be. I’d be the guy at the bar.
EKD & JE: [Laugh]
JE: Well, there you go.
EKD: Bar citizen.
JE: You’re that guy.
ER: I’ll do, I’ll be that guy.
ER: I’ll just sit in the bar …
BC: What? Serving or drinking?
ER: … while all the AI are running around doing everything.
TZ: The ships under fire, losing power …
ER: I’ll serve them drinks from the …
TZ: … plummeting into the atmosphere and Erin is still serving drinks.
JE: Bring me two at once. We got to get this going. There you go. [Chuckles]
EKD: Are you supposed to do, aren’t you supposed to do in game something you wouldn’t do in real life?
All: [Chuckles all around]
JE: For me it’s navigation. As we on the platform team worked on the Star Map last year we spent a lot time looking at route finding and, and that’s for the navigation part, and so to me that’s pretty fascinating. So I’m, I’m kind of a map guy. So …
EKD: Yeah. Chris Roberts?
CR: No, I think I’d … you know … piloting so … flying. Even though people think I crash into things.
EKD: [Chuckles] Well you, would …
CR: That’s, probably why I wouldn’t let the AI do it. I would pilot.
EKD: Would you pilot for me?
CR: Would I pilot for you? I’d consider it. You can be on my crew. You can be my wingman.
EKD: I don’t know. You could be expensive. [Guffaws]
TZ: But that’s, that’s …
EKD: Did we get that on record?
TZ: That’s a, that’s an interesting answer, because in some occupations the pilot will clearly be the star of the show. In other occupations it’ll be more you know some …
CR: That’s true, but we didn’t …
TZ: … sort of mid-range roles.
CR: … we didn’t discuss our occupations, did we?.
TZ: Right, right, but if you’re always the pilot and you’re doing some of the occupation.
CR: I’m likely not to be picking an occupation that requires me … the piloting, the flying around, the exploring is what I like.
TZ: Like on, on mining you know all, all the fun stuff is really on the other roles and stuff.
EKD: Guys, this has been some excellent questions, but before we wrap up we want to kick things over to the Director of Community Engagement, Ben Lesnik, for a quick Community Update.
[1:06:02] Community Update with Ben Lesnick
Ben Lesnick: Thanks guys, obviously the big community news this week was Citizen Con and I’d like to take a moment to offer my personal thanks to everyone who came out and made the event so spectacular. It was really incredible experience for me seeing backers from around the world, showing up here in Los Angeles, we attended a couple of Bar Citizens over the weekend and of course the big event. I just left wishing I had more time with all these incredible people, it is fantastic seeing the Star Citizen community come together not over amazing space ships or procedural planets or anything of that sort but just because it’s a lot of good people who enjoy each other’s company and I couldn’t be prouder of what you guys have done.
It wasn’t just citizens here in Los Angeles though we had ten different Bar Citizen viewing parties around the world, there were ten official Bar Citizen viewing parties I’m sure there were more we haven’t heard about yet but places ranging from Seattle, Washington to St. Louis, Missouri to Paris, France…all hosted get togethers to livestream Citizen Con together and it sounds like it was a great time everywhere.
One group of folks who we could not have done without this weekend were the team of Citizen Con volunteers, Cameron Wilkie our Events person put together a group of citizens from all over the place who came together to set up the vent, to keep it running, top break it down, to run the two Bar Citizens, they all just went above and beyond in supporting us and I can’t thank them enough but it is within my power to make them MVP this week so congratulations Star Citizen volunteers, you’re this week’s MVP. Been awhile since I’ve said that.
Meanwhile in spaceship news, the Polaris Corvette is now available. The Polaris is a fast, escort ship inspired by the PT boats and escort destroyers of World War II. It was originally announced by Chris way back in 2014 when Foundry took our previous Corvette the Idris and turned it into a Frigate so we’ve been looking ever since then for a chance to do this smaller Corvette that everyone has been kind of excited about and I couldn’t have been happier with the results. It is available in the pledge store through Monday, October 17 along with a number of ship packs that are military inspired to go along with the theme. If you’re wanted a discount on the entire line of Aegis ships or just a couple fighters or bombers, you have that option through Monday. I would also encourage you to check out the Polaris brochure, the team in the UK put this together and it is my favourite brochure we’ve done yet. It’s got deck plans, technical specs, even a diagram of how the pool table works. It turned out really well even if you’re not interested in a Polaris it’s a look into the Star Citizen universe and it’s really, really enjoyable.
For even more Polaris news you can check out the Subscriber’s Vault this week which will show you early shape language of the ship and subscribers can also look forward to the next issue of Jump Point which is next Friday which will walk you right through the ship’s entire development and if you’re on the fence about the Polaris we also have a pair of Q+A’s where we answered backers questions.
The first one went up on Wednesday and hit some of the most repeated points, how long is it really, what kind of ships fit in the small internal bay… and the second one will go up tomorrow. If you have a burning question that has not been addressed yet, please post it to the thread on the forums and we will consider it for the next Q+A.
Citizen Con may be over but CitCon is just about to start on Saturday, October 22 a group of several hundred backers are getting together in Frankfurt, Germany to celebrate Star Citizen. It’s an entirely backer run event but it sounds very, very exciting and we encourage anyone in the area to check it out. I know that Brian Chambers and a number of the developers from Foundry 42 Frankfurt will be on hand to chat with backers and answer questions. You can learn more at barcitizen.sc/events.
Finally, one last thank you to the community for all their incredible support, we have a Free Fly that is going on for backer accounts only which gives you access to every single ship currently in the game. So, if you have ever wanted to race at high speeds in an M50 or explore an enormous Starfarer, you have that choice for the next couple days…please enjoy and again thank you, you’re truly an incredible community and it’s an honour to be part of it. Back to you guys.
[1:10:47] Closing Comments
EKD: I think we’ve got some really… you know one of the things for me is it’s not just fascinating looking forward but also kind of looking back like we did here. So is there anything last you guys wanted wrap up with or any last item we may have missed you wanted to cover before we say goodbye to all the wonderful people out there for this episode.
CR: Let’s start with Erin on that side.
EKD: Erin, you’re the furthest from me, the spot you wanted.
ER: There is so much we could talk about is the issue in terms of kind of where we’re going and kind of just you know all the technology we’re building and like Tony went through before as well… you build the base and now we can actually do so much work with it and then the content side and so forth. The fact that just in a very short period of time with quite a small part of the team is what the Homestead Demo was doing.
I mean, you know, the vast majority of the team were working on Squadron or 3.0 stuff and things so it’s that kind of stuff that which for me is kind of like the exciting stuff versus where you refine the tools and get that stuff going and work on that kind of stuff, it makes a big difference. You know like I said the whole experience at Citizen Con was fantastic, I enjoyed as always meeting the guys, having a few drinks with everybody and so forth. It’s like amazing how many people you meet and kind of become friends, you know, in that short of period of time.
BC: To me what I love to do…one of the many things I love about what I’m doing here, I mean, Frankfurt is the newest kind of team within this whole mix right…I’m the newest guy here sitting on the couch. Just in these last 18-20 months we’ve been aboard, the amount of progression we’ve made collectively, right? Yeah Frankfurt’s contributed and absolutely because we want to, we love what we do as far as each discipline, we love the genre and how leading edge it is. We kind of embrace that and go, ‘cool’ it’s grabbed us and see what we can do. So for me, it’s really just seeing that progression.
Like when I go on the show floor when we have events and I watch people’s reactions, it’s because when I seen it in the studio for the first time, I have that same reaction going, ‘Awe!’ and that’s absolutely no joke, right. It’s you see it and you get excited, you go wow, it’s all these pieces come together, it’s worked… you’ve worked out the kinks, you know. So, it’s really cool to see their reactions cause you know exactly what their feeling, right?
TZ: I would just say that I think after, you know, a lot of work we’re finally getting it to the part of the project I think is the most fun and that is you’ve done all the hard work and the systems are now in place, there’s still a few large holes that we’re working on as quickly as we can but as you know, all these pieces start to come together and I think anybody that’s been following the project from the beginning has certainly seen the increased, you know, not just the higher frequency of releases but how significant the changes that are being, you know, thrown out to the community actually are.
We’re no longer, if you think about back in 2013 you have the hangar module, 2014 you got Arena Commander, that was basically it for the year. 2015 predominantly social module was the notable thing and now you look back over the last twelve months and you’re getting large, large, large pieces of functionality put out there. I think this is only going to continue to accelerate and I think a really nice part from our perspective I think is that as more of these pieces come into place, it’s going to make thes timeline much more predictable.
Anytime you do vast quantities of R+D, you know, you basically lay out everything that needs to be done, you try and formulate realistic schedules and then you push as hard as you can but there are always unforeseen obstacles…problems that pop up that need to be resolved, etc. You know, we basically made tons of progress certainly over the last several weeks as we were focusing on the Squadron 42 demo but even going back over the last 12-18 months you can just feel it, it’s tangible how much progress that the game is now making and so I just look forward to finally being able to show off some of these big things we’ve been working on for a very long period of time and putting them out there and seeing how the players respond to it.
JE: I agree, especially on the publishing side we feel this pace that’s increasing as we have more builds and we have more different development streams that are progressing in parallel and then converging. So there’s more to test and more to publish and there’s more servers to run and there’s more, you know, content that’s coming and so that has a lot of challenges but it’s exciting too from my own personal perspective it’s now the case that things are happening so rapidly that I can’t, just as one person, I can’t keep up with every single thing that’s going on. There’s was a time when I could kind of have my finger on the pulse of everything, you know but now there’s way too much and I imagine everybody feels kind of the same way I’m sure, You know, we all sort of marvel at how Chris keeps up with everything because he’s sort of got his finger on the pulse of everything we’re all doing and plus a bunch of other stuff. It’s exciting to see all these investments that are paying dividends now and to think about you know how where we’re going to be a year from now or two years from now or five years from now. So, it’s an exciting time to see some payoff from the hard work we’ve done and to think about what the future hard work is going pay as well, so I think that’s pretty cool.
TZ: Just to add to that, I think that 3.0 is basically going to be when it really starts to feel, you know, like a complete solid comprehensive game experience and if you look at the release schedule, you know, the tentative release schedule we put out at Citizen Con, every point release after 3.0 has significant major new content in it and that’s only possible and the only reason we’re putting that out there is because we actually feel pretty comfortable given the solid foundation we’ve spent years building.
CR: Well…a couple things, you know it’s fantastic like looking at kind of the progress we’ve made and what the technology is going to enable us to do and I sort of look at these toys and the sandbox that we’re building and it’s something I never would have dreamed four years ago when we launched this. When I pitched a game that was pretty big vision but it’s not as big as it’s going to be enabled now but I never thought we would have the support so we wouldn’t have the time or the resources to do it.
So, we’re sitting here in this awesome stage that we’ve can shoot our community stuff in and we have our studio here in LA, we have studio in, you know, the UK, Manchester, Frankfurt and Austin. We’ve got partners in Montreal, Turbulent and Behaviour, that are doing various stuff for us and others contractors on locations. All that is enabled by the community and I kind of think that you know, Citizen Con is a time where you sort of… it’s about the community, for them reflecting on not just that we’re going to be able to do this great stuff and there’s this dream of the future but there’s also how far we’ve come.
They’ve enabled this to build this company that’s making this incredibly ambitious game, several incredibly ambitious games, but there’s also real content, real stuff happening. I mean just having the streamers here for a few days, streaming like we had at Gamescom, you know, they were at the event playing in the game in SC Alpha right now doing really cool, crazy stuff in a much more limited version of what the ultimate sort of sandbox Star Citizen is.
Just the organizations…40,000 organizations, you know the fact that people have made these connections and friendships, I mean it’s not everyone just hoping and dreaming about something in the future, real things have happened and been built because of the community doing that and from just that…you know, from that base we’re going to go even further and build something that I think is going to, I mean hopefully, I don’t want to sound arrogant but I think it’ll be something that’ll be a milestone for the industry because I think it’s a different way to go about things. I think we’re definitely developing in a different fashion, being more open and it’s you know…so what I think about Citizen Con is thank you everyone out there that has supported us, enabled us to get to this point and it’s really always great to meet and connect directly and that’s kind of what we’re about. We’re doing it as much for you guys as it is for us, I think we all have a mutual shared vision and dream but we also have to remember that we’ve done a lot of stuff so it’s just going to get better. So anyway, that’s my reflection on it.
EKD: I think that’s a really great way to end so thank you guys very much for watching, thank you for joining us and best travels to your location, wherever you’re headed and we’ll see you guys around the Verse.
CR: See you around the Verse guys.
JE: Bye, thanks.
EKD: Let’s do it!
CR: Do it!
EKD: Do it.