In October, AI Content devoted attention to evaluating the functionalities highlighted in the ‘I Held the Line’ video presented at CitizenCon. Specifically, the team focused on refining Stanton’s hangar, med-bay, and the newly introduced gym area.
In the hangar, emphasis was placed on enhancing the visual quality of the deck and utility crew animations. This involved fine-tuning their interactions while performing tasks like repairing and inspecting the Gladius. Additionally, AI Content implemented responsive behaviors for NPCs on the hangar sidelines, dynamically reacting to the player’s actions in the cockpit, thereby significantly enhancing the in-game environment’s immersive quality.
The med-bay received attention to ensure smooth and seamless transitions in animations. A new animation featuring a seated, sleeping patient was added to the med-bed, with the doctor periodically scanning vital signs as part of the medical behavior system.
While not directly tied to ‘I Held the Line,’ a segment of the team worked on a new gym area, introducing usable items such as treadmills and dumbbells. NPCs engage in running exercises on the treadmills and weight training with dumbbells, followed by a recovery period in a seat before resuming their activities.
In the previous month, AI Features concentrated on enhancing gameplay functionality for a crucial combat encounter. The enemy now adapts to the player’s attack patterns, with increased damage rates and decreased weapon cooldown to intensify the challenge during the fight. A collision-avoidance system was implemented, enabling the enemy to navigate around obstacles strategically used by the player.
Balance adjustments were made to fight tactic TPS queries, enhancing the distinctiveness of different tactics such as pusher, strafer, and defender.
The team continued reviewing cover usage, resulting in numerous fixes for how NPCs find and move to cover, step out to fire, and exit, especially in defend areas.
AI Features is actively developing a comprehensive test level for combat, allowing simultaneous testing of various features. This level will facilitate testing combat consistency across the PU and SQ42, providing a robust environment for evaluating improvements and bug fixes related to AI combat and its functionalities, including ammo usage, mounted weapons, attack and defend areas, medics, accuracy, and stealth gameplay.
The animation team persisted in streamlining combat animations, focusing on skill-level-one takedowns and interactable animations in the environment. Efforts included developing first-select animations for weapons and their malfunctions, capturing animations as needed to complement scenes and locations, and refining facial animations for story performances and ambient dialogue.
Throughout October, the Audio team implemented and refined sounds for ‘I Held the Line.’ Utilizing a newly created multi-band compressor, weapon sound effects across all guns in Squadron were improved. The team also designed additional cinematic assets and provided Foley for key animations in the trailer.
Tech Sound Design dedicated time to ensuring tech-demonstration videos featured appropriate sounds with desired synchronization and timings. Significant improvements were made to the team’s vehicle systems.
Audio Code introduced new tech to enhance SQ42’s sounds and addressed any bugs that emerged. The Dialogue team contributed to content polish for CitizenCon by fixing bugs and incorporating the latest dialogue recordings. They also integrated the breathing system for a more immersive experience.
Development of the Walla system continued, aiming to create a lively experience as players explore the world, including a series of internal test recordings in October.
In October, the Engine team primarily focused on preparations for CitizenCon. All teams were actively engaged in delivering features and supporting other teams related to the showcased content. Despite the stress, the focused effort was rewarding as everything came together.
The Core Engine team concentrated on bug fixes for the live release, addressing long-standing memory leaks on the live server. The Physics team delivered improvements to the Maelstrom destruction system and cloth and hair tech.
The Entity System Tech team supported the Online team to deliver the Server Meshing demo while concurrently working on editor entity streaming.
Last month, Gameplay Features refined the new character customizer, working on aspects like skin texture, tone, freckles, blemishes, eyes, and makeup.
On the new Starmap, the team focused on ensuring markers and labels worked correctly on planets. This involved enabling the magnetic cursor to snap to icons, implementing the search box, and making various smaller improvements.
Work began on a new SQ42-specific frontend, designed to feel like an extension of the game world. It will dynamically reflect players’ progress in the campaign and showcase collected items.
The team introduced a sim-pod UI screen, allowing players to select simulations, seamlessly transition into them, and view performance screens upon completion.
October for Gameplay Story involved reviewing new content from the ‘I Held the Line’ video. This included expanding scenes with the hangar deck crew, refining idles and welding animations on the Gladius, updating ladder-climb animations, and adding idles to the deck-crew character in the cockpit.
In the med-bay, bugs related to handheld props were fixed, and additional interactions were incorporated into medical consoles.
New motion capture was used to extend the first scene in chapter one, creating a long idle for an early group scene, and adding player-injured lines to the med-bay scenes.
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Graphics & VFX Programming
For the Graphics, Planet Tech, and VFX Programming teams, October involved refining features demonstrated at CitizenCon, including water simulation, global illumination, Maelstrom, fire, and rifle scopes.
The Vulkan sub-team continued addressing remaining performance and stability issues.
In October, the Social Narrative team supported the preparation for ‘I Held the Line,’ including landing and take-off scenarios in the Idris’ hangar.
The focus on landing included tactile deck-crew interactions with the player’s ship and fellow wingman. Work on NPCs repairing the landed Gladius, inspecting the cockpit, and refueling involved new welding animations, enhancing the overall hangar experience.
Beyond ‘I Held the Line,’ the team continued working on Idris interstitials and Fortune’s Cross location, revising medical-room scenes to address issues related to the player’s injuries during narrative scenes.
The Narrative team dedicated time to finalizing content captured in the previous month, integrating initial animations and audio passes into the game for a holistic experience. Ongoing collaboration with Design teams ensured thorough reviews of implemented levels.
Narrative work extended to completing text requirements for the game, covering message exchanges, mission objectives, Galactapedia entries, and environmental content to enhance the story and ambiance of various locations.
October saw dedicated efforts in cloud-shaping improvements, enhancing the team’s ability to create more varied cloud content. Improvements provided greater flexibility in blending shape noise at height, enhancing the consistency of short vs. long-distance reads and reducing noticeable tiling from orbit.
The first iteration of ground fog was introduced, following terrain up to a specified height and fully integrating into the atmosphere. Support for casting volumetric shadows from clouds into the atmosphere was added, accompanied by optimizations for volumetric cloud shadows. These improvements addressed long-standing cloud rendering issues, enhancing cloud shadow quality at low sun angles.
Work on ground fog resulted in optimizations and a fix for subsample-sized holes in planet terrain height maps. The team also outlined plans for the new temporal cloud render mode in November.
The VFX team in October continued collaborating with the Cinematics team on cutscenes, polishing effects for various locations showcased at CitizenCon.
Improvements were made to existing weapon and gadget effects, while dynamic fire effects were refined for Squadron 42 and a future Star Citizen patch release.