As Star Citizen gets further into development, a new video from the official YouTube channel introduced a large amount of information regarding the games current state. One piece of information that stood out was the introduction of ASL (American Sign Language) being implemented into the game.
On February 7, Star Citizen pushed a new video live, it detailed specifics such as new thruster audio systems, flight systems, removing glitches, and more. The segment in which Steven Bender, Animation Director at Cloud Imperium Games, discusses the ASL emotes takes place at 13:33.
Bender discusses how the community behind the game consists of a lot of deaf or hard of hearing members, acknowledging that they don’t interact with the game in the same way that hearing users would do so. As such, the began working with some community members to build a series of emotes to use in-game.
These emotes were recorded using motion-capture technology and we get to see the characters in action performing certain signs. Bender details how when the character videos were sent to a hard of hearing developer on the team, they were excited and knew exactly what the characters were signing.
In the video, we see examples such as, “Bored”, “Bullshit”, “Have a seat”, “Hello”, “I’m sad”, “Sit down and stay put”, “Thank you”, and “Goodbye”.
Now, as someone who uses sign language, I noticed something missing from the example videos. Facial animations (Yes I know, they’re examples). Sign language is always better understood with matching facial expressions. The video does address this with one of the presenters of the video announcing that the team behind Star Citizen want to add facial animations to these emotes.
Honestly, I’m really excited to see this taking place as it will not only emotionally and physically include players who will appreciate ASL signs, but it can also work as teaching those who don’t sign, how to sign. Even if it is only simple signs.
Today Cloud Imperium Games released the alpha 3.2 version of Star Citizen to the backer community, bringing quite a few new goodies to the game as part of the regular quarterly updates that the team has been delivering starting this year.
One of the biggest updates coming with the new alpha version is mining gameplay, that will allow players to prospect and scan deposits, fracture the rock with their mining lasers (via minigame that requires them to manipulate the energy levels), extract the ore, and sell it.
The new group system will also be implemented alongside the ability of quantum travel as a party.
A new “destroy probe” mission type has been added, on top of quite a few new ships. Players will be able to fly the Anvil Hurricane, the Aopoa Blade, the Aegis Eclipse, and the Origin 600i. All ships now have functional scanners with ping capabilities.
New weapons and armor for FPS gameplay have also been introduced, and a ton of features have been updated, tweaked, and fixed. You can find the full patch notes here.
Yesterday, Project Director Chris Roberts himself also confirmed in an episode of Reverse the Verse Live (which you can watch at the bottom of the post, for a pretty candid discussion on the state of development), that the single-player campaign Squadron 42 won’t come in 2018. While this won’t surprise many, it’s good to have official confirmation.
Today Cloud Imperium Games released a new video of Star Citizen’s upcoming single-player campaign Squadron 42.
The video starts by giving an update on some of the ships and space stations that we’ll be able to explore in the game. This includes the Bengal class carrier that was the very first capital ship shown for the game before the Kickstarter campaign in 2012. It also happens to be one of the best-looking starships I have seen in a while, and absolutely massive.
Interestingly, the Bengal is so massive that developers had to implement a transportation system under the flight deck because just walking through it would have been a huge timesink. A glimpse at the updated skin shapers also shows just how much character faces have improved.
We then take a look at the rather intimidating Vanduul weapons and Xi’an shops, before the video completely switches gears and move on to focusing on artificial intelligence. More precisely, we learn how the AI will behave in combat, and how each pilot will have dynamic skills and traits that will basically give them a personality.
Star Citizen has passed an important milestone with the launch of alpha 3.0 in December, and the team is preparing to implement relevant changes with regular quarterly releases of incremental updates.
In order to get a better insight on the future of the massive crowdfunded game, DualShockers had a chat with Global Head of Development and Foundry 42 Studio Director Erin Roberts, who provided a lot of interesting information.
First of all, we heard about the release of alpha 3.0 itself. It was certainly a challenge since it represented a massive technological push with the goal of getting a lot of the game’s underlying tech in working conditions.
The team wanted to get the update out in time for Christmas not only to give backers something new to play but also to receive a large influx of data and feedback, which is very important at this stage.
On the other hand, the upcoming alpha 3.1 update (scheduled for March) was always meant to represent a polishing and tightening pass on what has been offered with 3.0. It will also include performance enhancements that will actually continue to be rolled out gradually through the whole year.
In the gallery above, you can check out three brand new images of the content coming in alpha 3.1.
Alpha 3.3 in September will be the biggest part of this process, with developers hoping to roll out the object container streaming technology, which should grant a “massive” performance increase. This is due to the fact that the game will only load what it needs to at any given time, instead of everything included in a system as it does now.
The game’s development is split into a development branch and a release branch. When the team is close to a release date, they move to the release branch. In 3.0’s case, they have been in the release branch for roughly ten to twelve weeks before the actual launch.
Normally all the changes made to the release branch to polish the game are copied over to the development branch, but there is still a huge amount of work being done in parallel on the development branch. All those features get moved on to the next release.
Roberts explained that it’s very important to get a release out, and then immediately go back to work on the development branch. This is what happened with 3.0 going into the development of 3.1, which will include both fixes and relevant core changes.
The new approach with regular quarterly releases started this year is “much more regimented.” The team knows that every three months they will release a major update to the community (even if minor patches can still come in-between the large ones). As a result, players get more content, and feedback also flows back to the developers more consistently.
Feedback is very important, because “there is nothing better for the morale of the team to get stuff out to the community and see them playing it, and get feedback, positive as well as negative.” The backer community is the largest pool of testers for Cloud Imperium Games. Internal testing and even the relatively limited Evocati group of users often aren’t enough for many issues to be visible.
Having the full community playing 3.0 allowed the development team to identify the issues that will be fixed for 3.1. One of the largest problems with the current build is that there are events in the game that can cripple a server, causing poor performance for everyone connected to it. Without releasing the update to all backers, these issues would have remained invisible.
This is why releasing regular updates from now on is very important, even more so because a lot of work is going to be done on the network side.
At the moment there is a team working exclusively on performance issues and on the crippling scenarios described above. Interestingly, a lot of the problems are related server CPU usage. While a lot of the game’s systems use multithreading (more than one CPU core at the same time), there are still some in which multithreading isn’t completely implemented. This is currently being worked on and is going to make a big difference when it’s done.
Ultimately, the cleanup pass that will be included in Alpha 3.1 should make the gameplay experience a lot more enjoyable for many.
Alpha 3.1 isn’t just going to be about fixes and performance: it will include a large update to the graphics of the moons, which will considerably improve the way they look and feel. There will also be new ships and vehicles, while in-game stores will have more items to purchase.
We’ll also get the first pass of the ability to customize our characters, alongside large improvements to the user interface. Interdiction will be tweaked, and the balance of the economy will be improved.
Another interesting feature that is going to be added is the ability for players to make distress calls: if you get interdicted in the middle of nowhere, you’ll be able to send out a distress call that will provide your location to other players interested in (hopefully) rescuing you.
This is the core of a set of features coming in alpha 3.2 scheduled for June, allowing players to create missions that other pilots can take on, including search and rescue, cargo hauling, and bounty hunting. The system will include a rating feature similar to eBay, enabling players to rate their contacts according to their reliability.
Alpha 3.2 should also include a lot of new non-combat features like mining, trading, and refueling (including in-flight refueling). This process will extend into 3.3 (which should come in September) with the ability to actually mine fuel and salvaging.
More additions to the economy will include the handling of stolen cargo, that players will be able to resell at certain locations at a reduced price, with the danger of being caught by the authorities and the consequences related to that. Basically, between 3.2 and 3.3, the development team plans to implement the means to take on many different careers in the game.
The biggest content push will happen with the advent of object container streaming, focusing on the addition of the whole Stanton system including all of its planets. This should materialize between the third and fourth quarters of the year.
When the Stanton system will be in the game by the end of 2018, players will also be able to purchase land on planets in order to mine or build their own bases. On the other hand, features related to corporations are planned for next year.
Of course, it’s worth mentioning that all dates are subject to the fortunes of development, and there is always a possibility that some will need to be moved. Any possible change will be reflected in the dynamic roadmap publicly displayed on the game’s official site.
We learn that currently, Cloud Imperium Games has five offices, including the recent opening of a new Foundry 42 location in Derby, U.K., staffed by only fifteen developers. The largest office is the main Foundry 42 location in Manchester, with a headcount of 234. The studios in the U.S. are more compact with Cloud Imperium Games in Los Angeles and Cloud Imperium Games Texas in Austin counting respectively 75 and 71 staffers. Last, but not least, the Foundry 42 office in Frankfurt, Germany, gives work to a staff of eighty.
The total headcount of the internal staff working on the game is now a massive 475.
Roberts mentioned that such a large staff is required by the fact that Squadron 42 on its own has a scope similar to a huge AAA game, then there is the effort on building new technology, and the Star Citizen persistent universe is a huge content undertaking as well.
The new Derby office was opened to focus mostly on facial animation due to the local presence of a group of specialized developers that Cloud Imperium wanted to involve in the project.
Originally, the studio in Manchester was supposed to have no more than fifty people, but they started up small and built up from there. The local staff has grown considerably compared to other countries because the local government offers sizable tax relief for game developers. The northwest of England is also a very good place for hiring talented developers, with a very reasonable cost of living. This means that the company is getting a lot of value for the money compared to working in locations that feature higher costs.
Hiring was done gradually by looking at what needed to be done year by year. The studio started on one floor, then took over the second, then the third, and they’ll be taking over the final floor of the building in the next few weeks.
According to Roberts, since the team has the staff size and the ability, 2018 will be a really good year in terms of getting a lot of gameplay and content in the hands of the community.
We hear that when Roberts joined the team, his brother Chris and him started realizing that the scope of the game that was originally envisioned definitely had to grow. The support the project was receiving from the community was amazing, so they couldn’t create a game that only cost a few million dollars when backers were providing a much higher budget.
The philosophy behind this decision is simple: all the money that comes from the community is money that gets spent on the game. The team realized early-on that they couldn’t create a small game with the technology designed to support a small scope, and then increase it radically a few years later. That’s why they decided to go with a larger scope pretty much from the get-go, and they spent the last few years creating the technology that could support that.
If the team opted to go with the opposite approach by starting small and then trying to retrofit features like procedural planets or fully explorable capital ships into the game, it would have been a huge waste of money, time, and it would have also caused a lot of issues.
Ultimately, they decided to invest time and effort to “do it right” from the beginning.
According to Roberts, Star Citizen is going to have more gameplay in one system than ten average-sized games, and the title will include many full-fledged systems.
Moving on to the single-player campaign Squadron 42, we learn that it’ll be set in an open world map, which is pretty much like a system within the persistent universe. While the player is part of the military, so there will be orders to be followed, there will also still be times in which we will be able to fly off on our own and explore to our hearts’ content.
While the story will be mostly linear, players will be able to make a wide variety of choices in terms of where to go and which locations to visit in the system.
Interestingly, we also hear that Arena Commander will be integrated into the world with an actual arcade-like simulator that will allow players to practice. This feature will probably be familiar to Wing Commander veterans, that might remember the arcade cockpit in the bar of the Tiger’s Claw.
Performance capture for the first episode of Squadron 42 has already been completed. While there might be a few small pickup shoots still to do, the whole story is done. All these scenes are currently being implemented into the game.
Asked whether the team has any ideas on what could be done with the Star Citizen IP possibly beyond the game itself, Roberts mentioned that there have certainly been conversations on that, but at the moment they’re completely focused on finishing the game and getting it in the hands of the backers, so they’re not going to branch out into other ventures.
Conversations about possible spinoffs and similar initiatives might happen once Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are released, but for now, the focus is entirely on achieving that, with the best possible quality.
Roberts concluded by mentioning that what the Star Citizen team is trying to accomplish is an amazing journey that wouldn’t be possible without the support and patience of the community that backed the game. This is something that wouldn’t have been possible under a traditional publisher’s umbrella.
The exciting thing for him is to see this gameplay experience building up over the years. Without the support of the players, there would have been no way for this game to be made.
Today, Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games released a brand new trailer.
The video walks us through the many features included in the recently-released alpha 3.0 version, that is currently available to backers. This includes many goodies that are completely new to this update and quite a few that were available before.
There’s a lot to show, as the trailer is a full eight minutes in length. Funnily, the first part follows the adventures… of a box. You’ll see what I mean.
All in all, there is plenty of combat, both on foot and among ships, and the gorgeous visuals the game has gotten us used to.
Chris Roberts’ Cloud Imperium Games sent a newsletter to backers giving some information on the upcoming plans for future updates of the alpha of Star Citizen.
Update 3.1 is scheduled for late March, as the developer moves to quarterly update releases. According to the announcement, there are “a lot of content and enhancements” planned through the year.
Backers finally received alpha 3.0 just before Christmas, and according to Cloud Imperium, this allows them to “deliver new features and refinements into the game more consistently through improvements to core tech.”
A new website will also be launched later this months, bringing new web features and a sleeker interface.
The crowdfunding total for the game also keeps growing, and back on December 23rd, it was just north of 174 million dollars. Looks like quite a few pilots bought themselves some shiny new starships in the meanwhile, as the tally is now over 176 million. More precisely, the game is comfortably sitting on $176,157,353.
Today Cloud Imperium Games released a new video of its upcoming space simulator Star Citizen.
This time around, the focus of the video is on two upcoming ships by Origin, the luxurious 600i an 890 Jump, for those who like spacefaring with your galactic equivalent of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini (or maybe a luxury yacht).
On top of the video, that you can enjoy at the bottom of the post, the ongoing anniversary sale is really propelling those crowdfunding numbers upwards. The game is currently sitting on $167,747,118, provided by 1,921,715 registered users. This means that backers dropped another half a million dollars on the game in the past twenty-four hours after the full million earned across Saturday evening and Sunday.
For the sake of full disclosure, that the author of this article backed Star Citizen back when it hit Kickstarter a few years ago. Now that we have bowed to our full disclosure duties, you can enjoy the video below.
This means that the Star Citizen raised over a million dollars in a day, thanks to the anniversary sales, offering many ships at a discounted price. It’s pretty much your space Black Friday.
As usual, it’s worth mentioning that these ship purchases are entirely optional, and backers are buying ships for the sake of supporting the game’s development. All of them will be available in the game, and players will be able to earn them via normal gameplay.
On top of the crowdfunding update, we get a new video focusing on ground vehicles and alien ones, providing updates on the massive Banu Merchantman and Tumbril Cyclone humvee.