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  1. Q&A: Banu Defender Greetings Citizens! Since the introduction of the Hull Series back in April 2015, every new concept ship reveal has had an accompanying Q&A post, where we spend a couple days collecting questions from you, pass those on to the relevant ship designer, and provide you the best answers we have available at that time. With the recent addition of Spectrum, we can now allow you to add your vote to the questions you most want to see answered. The questions included below are a combination of those that received the most votes, and those we felt we could confidently answer at this early stage in the Banu Defender’s life. Now that the ship is concept complete, it will enter our development pipeline where many of the answers you see below will be fleshed out, and those missing will be determined and implemented. While it will still be some time before we see the Banu Defender in game, we hope you’re as excited as we are as the Star Citizen pantheon of ships expands with the exotic addition of this alien spacecraft. As always, a special thanks to Jonny Jacevicius, John Crewe and Todd Papy for their help in answering your questions. Let’s get to it. -DL Will you address the issue with cockpit visibility? Short Answer: Yes. Longer Answer: As we discussed on the Subscriber’s Town Hall (helpfully included down below) we’ve been looking at several solutions for the visibility issue since before the sale was announced, as indicated in this month’s Jump Point. While we’re exploring several options, none of them should majorly impact the overall look or aesthetic of the ship, but we anticipate will greatly improve pilot and co-pilot visibility. Will the front prongs fold back during combat to offer a better view forward? The mechanisms on the prongs offer a lot of movement flexibility, so this is certainly one of the likely avenues for improvements to the visibility we’re exploring, possibly by angling them down/outwards more. How will the range and mobility of the Defender compare to other fighters? The Banu developed the Defender to provide protection and fly alongside the Merchantman, so its design includes a much improved range over other fighters of similar size due to its fuel intakes, dual fuel tanks, and large quantum drive, as noted in the brochure. We intend it to have an edge in mobility for a fighter of its size, due to a light hull construction and its use of Xi’An engine tech. As often happens in game design, all this mobility and range must come at a price, for this case in armor protection, so you’ll need to use that agility to your advantage. Are the four S3 gimbal mounts including the size reduction for the gimbal or not? (Four S3 or Four S2 weapons on gimbals?) The size indicated in the stat block is for the hardpoint as a whole, so it doesn’t include the size reduction. Therefore, these S3 hardpoints are fully utilized, fitted with gimbals capable of mounting S2 weapons. Can the Defender mount fixed S3 guns instead of using gimbals? Yes, the current plan for the Defender’s gun hardpoints is that you can choose to mount either a S3 fixed weapon or a S2 gimbaled weapon. We expect this sort of loadout to be favored by solo pilots or used in a crew arrangement where the co-pilot is completely focused on other tasks, like shield or power management, as a fixed weapon loadout for this ship would make life harder for a co-gunner who doesn’t have independent control of where they’re pointing. Does it come with a jump drive as standard? It does! While not every fighter-sized ship comes with a jump drive, since escorting Merchantmen on their journeys is part of the Defender’s job description, it’s natural for them to have one as standard equipment. Will it be possible to store a Defender inside a Merchantman’s cargo hold? We’re considering options for this but haven’t decided one way or another whether the Defender will be able to be carried internally in the Merchantman at this time. How does the Banu weaponry differ from other weapon types? The Defender introduces a brand-new weapon to our in-game armory, the tachyon cannon! It is an energy weapon that fires its projectiles at an extremely high velocity, making it both very long-ranged and accurate relative to its peers, while we are still working out what its other performance characteristics and balancing characteristics will be. As some of you may have noticed from our newsletter sneak peek several weeks ago, the tachyon gun deviates from other Banu engineering choices, and UEE historians suspect that the Banu assimilated this weapon technology from some other culture. In terms of combat capability, how does it compare to ships like the Anvil Super Hornet or Aegis Sabre? The Defender has an edge in maneuverability over human mainstays like the Super Hornet and Sabre, which themselves have edges in durability and armament, respectively. Defenders excel in distracting and confounding would-be attackers, giving their charges (like the Merchantman) the chance to slip away to safety. Their speed and mobility make them good for holding the point position, intercepting threats, and reacting quickly to flanking maneuvers. These traits make the Defender an excellent… well, defender. They present attackers with a dilemma; expend precious time and fuel trying to pin down an agile escort, or try to weather their fire while focusing on the Merchantmen? Since raiders often favor fast, heavily armed, but lightly armored ships, the choice can be a difficult one. The Defender’s robust shielding combined with its agility make it an enduring adversary when piloted well, but in a straight up brawl, the Sabre and Super Hornet might have the edge. Both of these fighters are designed with a heavy focus on attack, and particularly when the attackers are less concerned with another objective, they’ll present a hearty challenge to Defenders and their crews. Between the three, we’d bet on the skilled pilot that knows how to utilize their ship best more than just the ship. Can this ship be used effectively in combat by a solo pilot? Yes – the Defender is completely functional with a crew of one. There is no reason you must have a second crewman for a Defender any more than you would for the currently flyable Super Hornet, with the pilot tasked in managing all ship functions. The main edge granted by a second pilot in the Defender would be having someone to manage ship systems optimally during combat, whether handling the weapons and/or shields while the pilot focuses on maneuvering, or jumping into the back and conducting repairs or damage control on the fly to keep this long-ranged fighter in play over a long haul. The Banu prefer to fly their Defenders with two-person crews, but as a player, the choice is in your hands. Because the Defender relies more on its shields than it does on its armor, it can pay handsome dividends to have a crew member dedicated to getting the best performance out of them. Will it have cargo space? No – the Banu predilection for specialization leaves the cargo hauling to the Merchantman, which has more than enough space to go around. =) Once we’ve blocked out the Defender’s needs for internal space and equipment, it’s possible we might have some space on the ship for storing personal items, but that’s not the same as setting aside dedicated space for more serious haulage, like cargo pallets or crates. Since it is a nimble ship where does it compare to other ships like the Sabre, Buccaneer or Khartu-al? The Khartu-Al emphasizes mobility in general; it’s hard for most ships in its size category to compete with, especially the lightly-armed Scout variant. In terms of straight SCM or AFB speed, the Defender will edge out the Sabre. With the Buccaneer, the Defender should outperform slightly in terms of general maneuvering, but have to contend less favorably with the Buccaneer’s strong retro-thrusters and better strafing ability. Since we seem to get access to most components in the ship from the inside, does it have the benefit of easier maintenance over other fighter ships? Yes – internal access to components should provide an advantage when it comes to maintenance and repair, especially while on the move or in space. With other fighters, particularly single-seat fighters with no walk-able interior to speak of, or whose component access is strictly by way of external access panels, a crew member would have to exit the ship in order to perform most repairs on damaged components. In space, this means EVA, and it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to manage these things in pitched battle, or while speeding along towards a destination! For a Merchantman on the move, having to stop to make repairs isn’t ideal; an escort that can keep pace is worth its weight in… well, anything you’ve got in the cargo hold, potentially. Do the shields perform better because of their Tevarin origins? Another point discussed in the Town Hall this week! (See below if you haven’t already…) The Tevarin were masters of shield technology, especially for their time. Their Phalanx and air shields are far more capable and sophisticated than the shields fielded by the UPE during the Tevarin War. The Defender’s shield generators, while not Phalanx in design, are still of Tevarin origin, considered large for a ship of the Defender’s size, and are backed up by an impressive dual power plant system which feeds the necessary juice to keep those exotic shields going while powering the Xi’An propulsion system as well. How good is this ship’s range? How will its range compare to that of the Merchantman and other vessels in need of escort? For a fighter in its size class: very good indeed. While the Defender should never quite be able to match the long-range endurance of a Merchantman, as it’s size gives it ample room for a powerful, efficient jump drive and lots of fuel, a Merchantman that wants to keep its escorts around for the entire trip might need to stop more often for resupply and make fewer jumps at a time than it might be able to do on its own. Even so, if you want to make a long, multi-system journey, the Defender should have the the best range of same-size fighters, and be your best option for longer hauls. Does the Banu Defender come with an ejection system? It does! The Banu are highly skilled in their roles and therefore put a lot of value on the safety of their crew. Both cockpits will have ejection capability, with the compartmentalized ejection systems allowing each crewmember to eject independently. Features like the Xi’an engines, Tevarin shields, and tachyon guns are discussed as central features of the ship. Will these be hull-locked like the nose guns on the Vanguard? The engines, shield generator and all weaponry can all be swapped out as usual. The component interchangeability will be normal. How will the Banu Defender perform in atmospheric flight? It’s sleek enough to not suffer too much from drag, but the maneuverability might take a slight hit compared to what it can do in Zero-G. The ideal is that it is able to accompany the Merchantman from ground to space and space to ground without having any problems to remain an effective escort. Is this ship intended to be used with long range and high damage weapons? The Defender is quick and agile and able to maneuver its way into position where it’s out of harms way but still able to fire, so the tachyon cannons are a good fit. Of course, as always, should these weapons not suit your style of play you can swap them out for something you might find more in tune with your own preferences. Why does the ship only have 1x S1 shield listed, and only 1x S1 power plant? It has an S2 shield generator and 2x S1 power plants. As noted previously in the Monthly Reports, Around the Verse and most recently this week’s Town Hall, we are still in progress on a major revision to the presentation of ship stats on our website, due to the changes inherent in the continuing development of Item System 2.0. As such, they don’t translate too well to the current display. The information given in this answer tracks properly with what is shown in the Defender brochure here. Will there be size 3 and 2 versions of the tachyon cannons available in the EA store when the ship is flyable? We intend for the full range of sizings to be available in time, but dependent on resources only the S2 may be available from the start. Recommended Viewing Introducing the Banu Defender In the Banu Protectorate, tradesmen are known for hauling precious cargo across long distances in their Merchantman ships. While the Merchantman boasts a cavernous cargo area, it lacks the offensive capabilities to ward off large numbers of attackers. Meet the Banu Defender, a multi-crew fighter whose patchwork design features both Xi’an thrusters, Tevarin shields, and four Singe tachyon cannons. Though cargo space is limited, the Defender features modest accommodations for its crew and provides easy access to components. The Defender gets its name from the role it serves: the first line of defense against enemy attacks. That’s why the Defender makes the ideal companion to the Merchantman: one to do the heavy hauling and the other to perform the deadly dogfighting. Every Banu merchant knows an investment in defense is an investment in their livelihood. Now, you can purchase both ships as part of the Banu Pack! This exclusive 2-ship pack is available for a limited time. The Defender and Merchantman can also be bought individually in two models: Standard and War Bond. This special sale ends on May 1, 2017. About the Sale The Defender is being offered for the first time as a limited concept sale. This means that the ship design meets our specifications, but it is not yet ready to display in your Hangar, fight in Arena Commander or fly in the Alpha. All revenue collected from Concept Sales goes directly to supporting the development of Star Citizen; to building a game with a scale and depth that’s never been accomplished in games before. Your contributions directly finance the hundreds of developers striving to create the Best Damn Space Sim ever and the team engaging with the Best Damn Community Ever. Concept Sale profits don’t go to shareholders or personal pockets; they go directly into developing a better game. Star Citizen wouldn’t exist without the continued support of our backers. The sale includes Lifetime Insurance on the ship hull and a pair of decorative items for your Hangar. A future patch will add a Defender poster and then once the in-game model is finished you will also be given an in-game Defender mini ship model! In the future, the ship price will increase and the offer will not include Lifetime Insurance or these extras. Disclaimer Remember: we are offering this pledge ship to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The funding generated by sales such as this is what allows us to include deeper, non-combat oriented features in the Star Citizen world. Concept ships will be available for in-game credits in the final universe, and they are not required to start the game. Additionally, please note that the Defender will be entering the ship pipeline now, it will ultimately be released after other concept ships have been completed. All decorative ‘flare’ items will also be available to acquire in the finished game world. The goal is to make additional ships available that give players a different experience rather than a particular advantage when the persistent universe launches. View the full article
  2. Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner share the Frankfurt studio update. Also, get some insight on the department responsible for assuring the quality of Star Citizen. And for info on becoming a subscriber, go to: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/subscriptions View the full article
  3. Senior Gameplay Engineer Mark Abent discovers a bug that causes players to float into oblivion when they spawn into a single player match. Find out how he smashes this bug in this week’s episode. View the full article
  4. Sponsored by WillsOp This is TRACKER, your best source for official Bounty Hunter Guild news. I’m you host, Garet Coliga, and it is my distinct pleasure to track down all the latest info, tips and tech reviews before they have a chance to slip away. Today’s show is sponsored by WillsOp Systems, makers of quality avionics, sensors and targeting systems for over four decades. Personally, I got one of their Mobius scanners hooked into my Dragonfly, and while I don’t pull down too many contracts these days, it’s fairly obvious that it would be a real boon hunting an asset surface-side. Plus, I’ve heard from plenty of others that WillsOp’s targeting systems are among the more consistently high-rated suites you can buy. If you check them and like what you see, you can use the code TRCK47 to get a special bonus offer on your order. Now before we get started, there’s a bit of Guild business to take care of. It seems that a fair amount of members may have started recently using a new Xi’an focus-drug called E’tâm. From what I hear, it can really be a huge help on long stakeouts or extended surveillance ops, but it’s looking like there may be some unexpected side effects for Humans. Turns out that a few weeks back there was a murder case in Lo where the suspect went into some sort of fugue state after a bad ‘flow’ ride and killed her crew. Guild Health Services is currently recommending that members avoid the herbal supplement until more testing can be done, just in case this isn’t an isolated incident. While you’re at it, it’s probably worth being more careful if you’re approaching a target who seems to be under the influence. With that out of the way, let’s move on to today’s HotSheet, shall we? Now, since today’s sponsor specializes in high tech, we figured it would be a good excuse to do a bit of a themed warrant list and highlight a few of the more choice tech-focused contracts available on the boards. Of course, before you pursue any of these jobs and confront a fugitive, remember to consult your local Guild or Law Enforcement office as bounties may have been cleared. And as always, all contracts must be executed by licensed Guild Members in good standing, so please make sure that if you’re planning to work, you get those dues in on time. First up on the HotSheet is a hacker who goes by the alias GibMercy and is wanted in connection to a series of heists out in Hadrian. Turns out Gib had managed to infiltrate a couple of the shopping kiosks in one of the busier sectors of the flotilla and reroute the loading protocols for several high-value orders. By the time the discrepancy was noticed, Gib and their cargo-laden Hull-C were long gone. The authorities were able to identify GibMercy’s handywork based off their coding fingerprint, but they haven’t been able to pin down a real ID to go with the handle. That’s why they passed it off to the Guild. All you’ll have to go on is the ship make and the manifest for the stolen cargo, so it will definitely be a puzzler, but on the plus side, the payout’s a large one. Next bounty that caught our eye is for one Shakara Toula. Last seen operating near Asura, she is what’s commonly known as a “gasper.” In other words, she hacks remote stations, seals all the doors and begins venting rooms until the poor folks aboard pay her demands. There’s been a bounty on her head for a little while now, but recently she knocked over an older station and the aging life support system wasn’t able to kick back online. Two people expired before a nearby ship was able to arrive and lend assistance to the rest of the station. That tragedy was enough to move Toula up a warrant-class. Note that she’s proven difficult to apprehend thus far, as her advanced computer skills have allowed her to slip away from the few Agents and bounty hunters who’ve managed to catch up with her. Bit of advice, anyone who attempts the job should make sure their electronic security measures are up to snuff. The final snag and bag on our list is one I’m sure many of you have heard of — Ivan Pannich. The illegal gun and ammo mods he manufactures have been linked to eleven Guild deaths over the years, including the unfortunate passing of my good friend Ariel Liang. After four months off the grid, two days ago a security scan picked up Pannich leaving Severus. With his weapon proficiency, he should be considered extremely dangerous. My advice would be to go in wearing heavier armor as an extra precaution. A few deployable shields would probably not be entirely amiss either. Now, since the Guild has a vested interest in seeing Pannich brought to justice, they are offering to fund bonuses on the contract to any hunters who assist in bringing him in before the trail goes cold again. TRACKER will definitely be providing any updates as they come in. Looking at the three jobs in the rundown today, you can see why it’s vitally important for a bounty hunter to stay up to date on the latest tech. Not only because it might give an advantage out on the job, but because you can be sure that as soon as a new piece of gear hits the market, there’s going to be some outlaw scum perverting it for ill-gotten gain. Don’t get me wrong, I know how tough it can be staying current. Sometimes, the last thing you want to do after keeping tabs on a bail-skip all day is study a tech manual. So, to help you out, famed Guild member Joss Han will be joining us after the break to explain how with a few core skills under your belt, you’ll be able to better analyze and adapt to malicious tech you may encounter on the job. Joss Han, you may remember, is the hunter who took down the notorious infoagent SyNide a few years back, so he knows his stuff. All right, TRACKER’s going to take a quick pause for a word from our sponsor, WillsOp Systems, but make sure to stay put to hear what Joss has to say when we come back. Right after these commercial messages. View the full article
  5. Greetings Citizens Last week was out of this world with the reveal of the Banu and their role in the universe. On top of learning more about the Banu, we revealed their newest spacecraft: the Banu Defender. In last week’s ATV, we shared the spec, design, and took a dive into the Banu lore with Lead Writer Dave Haddock and Senior Writer Will Weissbaum. Learn more about the Banu and their integral part of the Star Citizen universe here. We’ve also introduced new reward levels to our existing referral program and kicked off a limited time contest to get everyone pumped for Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 and Gamescom. We’ve heard a lot of excellent feedback over the weekend that we are working on further updates; stay tuned! So what’s going on this week? Today’s Citizens of the Stars has Jared Huckaby talking with Tirent, co-founder of the Star Citizen Competitive League, a massive Star Marine tournament that was broadcast live on Twitch.tv with over 55 teams that signed up! Then, I sit down with Mark Abent, Senior Gameplay Engineer and host of “Bugsmashers!” for this week’s Quantum Questions. Will Brian Chambers be knocked down from being Quantum Champion? Only one way to find out! Tuesday is a new Subscribers Town Hall featuring the Banu! Join Jared Huckaby, writers Dave Haddock and William Weissbaum, and ship designer Jonny Jacivious as they take questions from subscribers about the Banu and other alien races found within the Star Citizen universe. Also if you are a Subscriber, this is your last chance to get your question submitted or upvote the ones you want to be asked by visiting the Subscriber’s section on Spectrum here. On Wednesday, our bi-weekly show “Bugsmashers!” is back! Bug hunter extraordinaire Mark Abent tackles a bug in Single Player Arena Commander, where a player floats indefinitely out of his ship and into the verse if left idle at the start of the match. These episodes give detailed insight into the development process and is a must watch for those interested in the technical aspects of the Star Citizen. This Thursday on Around the Verse is the Foundry 42 Frankfurt Studio Update! Brian Chambers shows off all the cool tech the team is working on to bring Star Citizen to life. Also included is a feature about our QA teams from around the globe and the never-ending work they do to verify changes, and report new bugs to our development team. Every new concept sale brings with it our dedicated Questions and Answers post, and last week’s launch of the Banu Defender is no different. There’s a thread open in Spectrum now where you can not only submit your questions for consideration, but upvote on the ones you want us to answer most. Questions will be picked later this week, and a single, super-sized post will go up this Thursday. Rounding out the end of the week is Happy Hour: Museum. Resident historian Ben Lesnick dives deep into the lore and history of the games that pave the way to Star Citizen. That’s all from me, see you in the ‘Verse! Tyler Nolin AKA Admiral Sloth Community Manager The Weekly Community Content Schedule MONDAY, APRIL 24th, 2017 Citizens of the Stars (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) TUESDAY, APRIL 25th, 2017 Weekly Lore Post (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch) Subscribers Town Hall: Banu & Other Aliens – Noon PST (https://twitch.tv/starcitizen) WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26th, 2017 Bugsmashers! (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) THURSDAY, APRIL 27th, 2017 Around the Verse (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) Q&A Post: Banu Defender FRIDAY, APRIL 28th, 2017 Happy Hour RSI Meusum – Noon PST (https://twitch.tv/starcitizen) RSI Newsletter Community Spotlight: April 24th, 2017 – News Citizen It’s no secret that the Star Citizen community is the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be! Some people have dedicated their time to be able to spread the word and share all the new details regarding the development of Star Citizen. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to reach nearly as many other citizens without them. Below you will find a few of the communities dedicated to sharing the news and updates from within Star Citizen to fans around the world. Visit the Community Hub Star Citizen Subreddit With over 100,000 subscribers, the Star Citizen subreddit has always been a popular site for those looking to find out the latest in Star Citizen. Relay.sc Relay was developed as a means to transcribe and summarize all of our content, analyze the Star Citizen development process, and bring you up to the minute news. Imperial News Network Developed by Nehkara and Wolf Larsen, INN is a place where their team will create, curate, and aggregate the best Star Citizen content – whether it’s research, images, video, or anything else, so long as it’s related to the Star Citizen universe. View the full article
  6. Welcome to Citizens of the Stars, our new weekly program exclusively about you, the Star Citizen Community. Whether through bug reports on the issue council, feedback on the forums, or the creation of content inspired by the game, Star Citizen is only possible because of the community. Citizens of the Stars not only highlights these contributions, but also puts a dev in the hotseat for a round of Quantum Questions, which addresses some fun facts about the dev and game. This week’s Citizen Spotlight explores the backer-created Star Citizen Competitive League with Tirent, and the Bugsmasher himself Mark Abent takes the hotseat to compete in this week’s Quantum Questions. Remember, many of the questions used are taken from our Star Citizen Subscribers in this thread here. Don’t forget to add yours for inclusion in future episodes, vote for the ones you want to see answered, and remember to keep them short and concise if you want your best chance of having them answered in under two minutes. The links for this week’s content are below: CITIZEN SPOTLIGHT Tirent and the Star Citizen Competitive League TOP 5: Frustmaster and Covalex Fights The New Merlin – a Star Citizen short movie by Zero-Sense oni-ni-kanabo and their gallery of 700+ 4k In-Game Screenshots Astoria Wide News Magazine by Luckystarstrike MVP: Combined Arms Part II by Terallian and Little Armada View the full article
  7. Jump Point Now Available! Attention development subscribers: the April 2017 issue of Jump Point is now available in your subscription area. This month’s Jump Point features the development of Banu Defender! That, plus a look at Basilisk, a visit to the Hadrian System, behind the scenes of Star Citizen’s sound design and the fourth chapter of an all-new Star Citizen serial from lead writer Dave Haddock! Grab your copy today. Interested in becoming a development subscriber? You can learn more here. View the full article
  8. A Guide to Visiting the Banu Protectorate Welcome, Citizen, to the official “A Guide to Visiting the Banu Protectorate”, 65th edition. There are new, fun, and informative additions to the Guide, such as tips on negotiation and personal safety. Enjoy your time in the Protectorate and thank you for making us your choice in planning your voyage. Sincerely, The UEE Diplomatic Corps Why visit the Banu? The Banu are not only the first alien species that Humanity had contact with, but they have been a consistently peaceful and respectful neighbor who have fostered a close relationship with the UEE and her citizens through economic trade and cultural exchange. On top of all that, they are a rich and vibrant people well worth a closer look. Known best for their industrious nature, Banu pride themselves on their artisanal craftsmanship and astute business acumen. Rather than the traditional family units or corporations typically found among Humans, the Banu instead have a societal structure that combines both into one single unit – the Souli. Often translated as ‘guild,’ the Souli is the foundation for life in the Protectorate, where Banu work and live together. Each Souli specializes in a specific industry and can vary widely; from a ship manufacturing Souli, to a trade Souli, even a Souli that raises Banu young. There is a Souli for everything. This regimented division of labor translates directly into the skilled expertise present on Banu worlds, markets and trade-vessels making for a memorable visit. Where to go? Travelling throughout the Banu Protectorate offers a variety of exotic sights and sounds. From the flotillas of Yulin to the hallowed halls of Trise, you can find adventure and mystery around every corner. So where do you even start? We’ve assembled a handy guide of some of the systems to make planning your journey even easier. Bacchus II​ – Skip between the thousands of archipelagos and islands across this vast ocean world to experience what many consider the quintessential Banu world. Geddon I​ – Fancy a little danger? Visit the arcologies among the beautiful desolation of this geologically active volcanic world to see how mining soulis are harvesting planetary resources for trade goods. Gliese IV – Ever wonder what an uninhabited planet looks like? Traverse the unkempt wilds of Gliese IV, perfectly habitable to Humans and Banu, but completely unoccupied. Kins II – For you history buffs, no trip to the Banu Protectorate would be complete without seeing the ancient structure on Kins II. Completely defying any existing Banu engineering styles, these sites have long baffled xenoarchaeologists about who (or what) built them. What to do when I get there? Of course, the Banu don’t spend all their time working and trading. With a strong belief that you should always live in the moment and focus on the present, they take their relaxation almost as seriously as they take their work. There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to diversions and there’s sure to be something to match almost any taste. Maybe you would like to try your hand at one of the bustling gambling halls where goods are exuberantly exchanged in games of chance. If you’re passionate about sports, the Banu have taken a strong liking to the Human game of Sataball with many arenas to be found throughout the Protectorate — just be warned that it’s common for Banu to cheer for both sides in a match! For many who visit the Banu, the biggest draw will be the markets which many consider to offer some of the best shopping anywhere in the universe. Not only can you peruse the elite craftsmanship of the various Souli, but because the Banu trade with many other species, you can often find exotic goods from almost every corner of known space and some items from even farther than that. Wandering down the crowded stalls of a Banu Flotilla can be a treat for the senses, but to get the full experience you will definitely want to have the fun of purchasing an item of your very own. For those looking for just a small keepsake of their travels, a popular item to purchase is a tholo, a small three-sided token representative of Cassa, the Banu patron of luck. - These trinkets are sold as decision-making devices, so ask a question, then roll the tholo to get a ‘yes,’ ‘no’ or (what roughly translates to)‘run’ as an answer. And after all that exploring and shopping, make sure to stop by one of the dining Souli to experience some of the Banu’s hospitality firsthand and partake in one of their large communal meals. While Banu typically eat with their hands, some places that cater to Humans will have silverware available. In the Marketplace When visiting any Banu population center, from the smallest enclaves to the thriving cities, you will notice one thing: they are always built around a central marketplace. Human anthropologists theorize that early Banu societies must have grown around crossroads, placing themselves along the confluences of travellers allowed them to maximize their exposure to goods moving around their planet. The more popular crossroads attracted more and more Banu until permanent settlements began to take shape around them. Interestingly enough, these are just theories and not even Banu ones. The most comprehensive historians of the Banu culture are actually Humans and that only goes back as far as our first interactions with them. The Banu belief that one should always live in the present has created a cultural mentality that disregards facts of the past. To that end, while technical knowledge will be preserved (until they come across a better design), all other facts (historical figures, key events, even their own homeworld) have been lost to the ages. So, while Humans place great value on deeds and noteworthy actions, to the Banu it is the accumulation of material goods that truly represents a life well spent. No where is this clearer than in their markets. From stalls packed to the brim with odds and ends to the immaculate showrooms aboard a Merchantman, there are a few things to keep in mind when trading with the Banu: Negotiating is a must. It is considered very strange to accept an initial offer. Even though an item or a ship can look the same on the outside, it’s worth taking a closer look as Banu manufacturing can vary widely from Souli to Souli. It may be worth shopping around till you find the one that matches your price and quality standards. As trade between our two species grows, many Banu are making products specifically to cater to Human tastes. For example, there are now numerous ship Souli who are constructing Human flight ready versions of ships like the Merchantman and Defender. It is traditional for Banu to offer hospitality while negotiating and you will often see traders gathered around a slomaddon, a large ornate brewing vessel, each of them having contributed an ingredient to the drink, sloma. If you are offered a cup, be polite and take a sip, but make sure to drink responsibility — sloma can sometimes be quite potent. Most Banu will consider a deal final once the transaction is complete. Make sure you inspect everything closely and double check the terms of your agreement before leaving. A good tip for finding a reputable dealer is watching where other Banu shop. If a Souli doesn’t have very many customers there might be a reason for it. If you see something you like, go ahead and buy it! Banu traders are often transient and may not be there next time you return. Safety and Security Here are a few tips and pointers to keep in mind during your visit: Many Humans find that bringing earplugs or other hearing protection can be helpful since the Banu’s hearing isn’t as sensitive and noise levels can get quite high. While many Banu will deal with you honestly, they have what can be described as a lax view of crime and expect visitors to look after themselves, so keep your wits about you at all times. Some travelers find hiring local Banu mercenaries or Defender escorts to be a sound investment. If you are the victim of a crime, you will be expected to hire a security Souli to investigate the matter for you. In cases of theft, many are willing to take a percentage of the recovered goods as their fee. One of the biggest dangers that Humans can encounter in the Banu Protectorate is slavery. We strongly advise people avoid the “Servant Markets” of Kins II for this reason. However, please note that if you are captured by Banu slavers you will most likely be offered the opportunity to purchase your own freedom. There are few companies that offer travelers slavery insurance in case of emergency. Please note that while many visitors have read the popular book A Human Perspective, we would like to remind people that this is a work of fiction and should not be counted on as an accurate source of information on the Banu. A Guide to Visiting the Banu Protectorate “A Guide to Visiting the Banu Protectorate” is prepared by the United Empire of Earth Diplomatic Corps for the use of UEE members, both public and private. Logos & photos used with permission. All Rights Reserved. [/article] Download UEE Guide Discover the Defender Learn more about the Banu’s unique culture and their premiere fighter in this brochure. Read the brochure or Download Introducing the Banu Defender In the Banu Protectorate, tradesmen are known for hauling precious cargo across long distances in their Merchantman ships. While the Merchantman boasts a cavernous cargo area, it lacks the offensive capabilities to ward off large numbers of attackers. Meet the Banu Defender, a multi-crew fighter whose patchwork design features both Xi’an thrusters, Tevarin shields, and four Singe tachyon cannons. Though cargo space is limited, the Defender features modest accommodations for its crew and provides easy access to components. The Defender gets its name from the role it serves: the first line of defense against enemy attacks. That’s why the Defender makes the ideal companion to the Merchantman: one to do the heavy hauling and the other to perform the deadly dogfighting. Every Banu merchant knows an investment in defense is an investment in their livelihood. Now, you can purchase both ships as part of the Banu Pack! This exclusive 2-ship pack is available for a limited time. The Defender and Merchantman can also be bought individually in two models: Standard and War Bond. This special sale ends on May 1, 2017. About the Sale The Defender is being offered for the first time as a limited concept sale. This means that the ship design meets our specifications, but it is not yet ready to display in your Hangar, fight in Arena Commander or fly in the Alpha. All revenue collected from Concept Sales goes directly to supporting the development of Star Citizen; to building a game with a scale and depth that’s never been accomplished in games before. Your contributions directly finance the hundreds of developers striving to create the Best Damn Space Sim ever and the team engaging with the Best Damn Community Ever. Concept Sale profits don’t go to shareholders or personal pockets; they go directly into developing a better game. Star Citizen wouldn’t exist without the continued support of our backers. The sale includes Lifetime Insurance on the ship hull and a pair of decorative items for your Hangar. A future patch will add a Defender poster and then once the in-game model is finished you will also be given an in-game Defender mini ship model! In the future, the ship price will increase and the offer will not include Lifetime Insurance or these extras. Disclaimer Remember: we are offering this pledge ship to help fund Star Citizen’s development. The funding generated by sales such as this is what allows us to include deeper, non-combat oriented features in the Star Citizen world. Concept ships will be available for in-game credits in the final universe, and they are not required to start the game. Additionally, please note that the Defender will be entering the ship pipeline now, it will ultimately be released after other concept ships have been completed. All decorative ‘flare’ items will also be available to acquire in the finished game world. The goal is to make additional ships available that give players a different experience rather than a particular advantage when the persistent universe launches. View the full article
  9. Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner are all about the Banu. Also, the Los Angeles studio shares their update. Learn how you can earn a trip to GamesCom here: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/account/referral-contest And for info on becoming a subscriber, go to: https://robertsspaceindustries.com/pledge/subscriptions View the full article
  10. Writer Adam Wieser shares the importance of the Croshaw jump point and how it got its name. Learn why traveling to the Croshaw System was once considered dangerous in this week’s episode. Remember that you can always explore the Star Citizen Universe yourself in our web-based Ark Star Map. View the full article
  11. Nemesis 2947.04.05_19:47SET To: scire_facias From: Nergal Subject: Eagle Eye I’m in need of some covert comm surveillance of an Elysium-based anti-Tevarin hate group. Heard from a few members of the Orion Network that you’re the best at this. I’ve got plenty of credits to bring to the table in exchange for your services. Now, if your reputation is half of what I’ve heard it is, you’ll find this out anyway, so I’ll save you the hassle. I’m an Advocacy analyst stationed in Jalan. My job is to sift through the spectrum to look for potential people of interest, which led me to discover some anti-Tevarin messages directed at Senator Suj Kossi from a group calling themselves Nemesis. The group organizes anti-Tevarin protests across the planet, and have drawn bigger and bigger crowds whenever Senator Kossi holds an event on Elysium. Their hateful rhetoric can also be found bubbling up all over spectrum. I’ve been keeping tabs on them for a few months, but so far, they’ve operated within the rule of law. However, their leader, who calls himself Matthys, recently vanished with a handful of his most ardent supporters. I ran it up to my superiors, but they wouldn’t commit to anything without more concrete evidence. These guys have been too smart for that. That’s why I decided to reach out to you. I can understand your apprehension about working with me, but we both know that doing what’s right isn’t always lawful. I attached all the active casefiles I have on Matthys and Nemesis so you can see who you’re dealing with. - Nergal < attachment: Nemesis.txt > ________________________________ 2947.04.07_01:14SET To: Nergal From: scire_facias Re: Eagle Eye nergal, intriguing … but i’m like 95% sure this is some bold ass entrapment scheme. only one way to know for sure unfortunately for you, i’m not into money. attached is a list of people. send me all their casefiles each & every last one of them. none of this ‘i cant access that file for this reason or that.’ you need to prove that youre willing to play ball before i join the team. fyi, i already got a few files on that list … so dont think you can sweep out the info on them without me noticing. think of it as a test. - scire_facias < attachment: shoppinglist.txt > ________________________________ 2947.04.09_06:30SET To: scire_facias From: Nergal Re: Eagle Eye Fine. Took me a bit to gather all the info, but it’s all there. You damn well better not screw me on this. I’m putting my career on the line here. Don’t think there won’t be any retribution if you ruin it. You raised the stakes, so I’m raising them back to you. I want current location and any known associates for Matthys. After sending you this, I better not hear that you couldn’t find anything. Contact me immediately if you uncover anything I can use to shut Matthys and his thugs down. Otherwise, I expect weekly reports on what you find. If one of them sneezes over comms, I want to know. - Nergal < attachment: casefile.txt > ________________________________ 2947.04.18_14:29SET To: Nergal From: scire_facias Re: Eagle Eye got something your gut was right, but matthys isn’t the mastermind you thought. the attached stream should clue you into why nemesis went dark. couldn’t trace who was on the other end of the exchange. signal had high-grade encryption and was spun through a ton of proxies. all that work was almost enough to impress me. shifting sifting through the noise to see whos on the other end might be possible. just not part of our original deal. im open to pursuing it, if you’re willing to part with more info. even cut you a deal. - scire_facias // OPENING ATTACHED STREAM // … // ENCRYPTIONFORGE // … run:slice / COMM MESSAGE ID: $Hw549-Ik71, prtcpnts: Jasper Matthys; Unknown / MATTHYS: Sir, we found one. UNKNOWN: Excellent. Where? MATTHYS: Sitting on the saddle point of a remote mountain pass. Looks like the shrine’s location would perfectly align with the summer solstice just as you predicted. Creeps me out thinking about all the evil rituals they probably performed here. I’ll send you the exact nav points as instructed. UNKNOWN: Make sure to follow the encryption instructions exactly as I gave them to you. MATTHYS: I know, I know. UNKNOWN: That very well may be but it’s worth reiterating, it’s essential that no one else finds out about this. MATTHYS: Don’t know why, plenty of people would thank you for what you’re doing. UNKNOWN: I’m not much for adulation. All I want is to keep the Rijoran blight from re-infecting Tevarin minds. Which brings me to my next question, had the shrine been disturbed before your arrival? MATTHYS: No way. UNKNOWN: You sound confident. MATTHYS: The entrance was blocked by rocks that hadn’t been moved in ages. Couldn’t even see it at first. On top of that, the shrine was cut into one of those strange rock formations that’s all over these mountains. Hell, we would’ve driven right by this one if we weren’t being methodical with our scans. UNKNOWN: Was there anything inside? MATTHYS: We’re still pulling everything out of there. The place was packed to the ceiling. Looked more like a storage facility than a shrine when I first stepped inside. I’d guess some Tevs used it to hide anything they didn’t want destroyed during the Purge. No idea what half this shit is but it’s gotta be worth a small fortune. UNKNOWN: I was very clear when I hired you that nothing was to be removed. MATTHYS: Selling this haul could bankroll my crew for years. UNKNOWN: Selling it might generously fund your little group, but it could also help spread that foolish ideology across this Empire, inspire Tevarin communities to stand up against the Empire. Is that what you want, Matthys? MATTHYS: No, sir, but— UNKNOWN: You will return the artifacts to the shrine and use a core to melt every single vile piece into slag. Nothing, and I mean nothing, must survive. I don’t care how much it’s worth. Do you understand, Matthys? MATTHYS: I do, but my crew might— UNKNOWN: Your crew needs to be reminded about what’s at stake here. If they really want to end the threat of a resurgent and rebellious Tevarin population, then this is what must be done. If not, then they might not be as loyal to the cause as you think. MATTHYS: Guess that makes sense. UNKNOWN: Now that we know these shrines really exist we must move fast to eliminate the rest of them before anyone discovers what we’re doing. MATTHYS: It’ll be a great victory for Humanity if we do. UNKNOWN: Turning the entire site to ash is more important than you could ever imagine. It’s the only way we can ensure the Rijora remains lost to history. // END STREAM // View the full article
  12. Greetings Citizens It’s been a busy week. Last week saw the release of ATV with our always stellar UK Studio Update and the addition of what was almost certainly our largest, most in-depth Ship Shape segment of all time: the Aegis Javelin. ATV has grown and evolved by leaps and bounds over the last year, and a large part of that is due to the continued support of our Subscribers, and the tremendous work of team members across the world dedicating their time and efforts to pulling back the curtain and showing you more of what we’ve been working on than ever before. So to you and to them, I just wanted to add one more, “Thank You” to the pile. You’re the best. Yeah, you. Okay, maybe not YOU, but definitely you. Also last week we published our March Monthly Studio Report and our biggest schedule update, ever, including a behind-the-scenes video detailing just some of the considerations made when putting together a production schedule at any level. Doing this was something Chris was extremely passionate about, and I don’t have to tell you how contagious that passion for making Star Citizen can be. It’s one of the many reasons we enjoy working on a project like this. If you haven’t checked out Chris’ Letter from the Chairman and the 3.0/2017 Production Schedule Report, I’d highly recommend you do so. I also got to visit a replica of the Hotel Room from the end of 2001: a Space Odyssey this weekend and I’m still excited about it so I’m including a line about it and picture here and nobody can stop me. I’m even gonna bold it. This week brings us continuing episodes of Citizens of the Stars and Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an ATV on Thursday from the LA Studio, and the return of Happy Hour Gamedev on Friday. What’s on this week’s Gamedev? Well, if things go how I think they’re gonna go, it won’t be like anything you’ll ever see from any other game studio, so check that out. Of course, thinking about it, that’s every episode of Happy Hour Gamedev so far, isn’t it? Subscribers can look for a thread about the next Subscriber’s Town Hall to go up in the Den sometime this week, and a thread for the next 10 for the Chairman Special Edition to go up in the weeks after that. And in case you missed it, the price for our next concept ship, the Banu Defender was announced over the weekend in the Ship Prices announcement thread. It’s $185 dollars, and the ship and the Banu race will be revealed to the world on Friday. With that, I’ll see you in the ‘Verse. Jared “Disco Lando” Huckaby Community Manager The Weekly Community Content Schedule MONDAY, APRIL 17th, 2017 Citizens of the Stars (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) TUESDAY, APRIL 18th, 2017 Weekly Lore Post (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch) WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19th, 2017 Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) THURSDAY, APRIL 20th, 2017 Around the Verse (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/) Vault Update FRIDAY, APRIL 21st, 2017 Happy Hour Gamedev – Noon PST (https://twitch.tv/starcitizen) RSI Newsletter Banu Defender Concept Sale Community Spotlight: April 17th, 2017 – Stream Citizen There are many ways to spread the word that Space Sims are back, be that in webforums or chatrooms, news articles or reviews, but perhaps one of my favorite ways to share our mutual love of Star Citizen is through streaming. There are many folks out there that showcase Star Citizen to others through their streams on a variety of platforms, including Twitch, YouTube, and Beam, and you can get a real sense for how the game is progressing by watching the reactions of players live. This week, we shine the spotlight on these industrious individuals who share their love of Star Citizen through streaming. Visit the Community Hub Talung A self-proclaimed “gamer from the days of the Sinclair Spectrum and somehow still remaining a complete noob at most games,” Talung can often be found streaming Star Citizen and was recently partnered with Twitch. You can find his stream channel at twitch.tv/talung. Grakees A fan and backer since May 2013, Grakees streams Star Citizen throughout the week. You can join in the fun at twitch.tv/grakees and experience the HUGS. He’s big on hugs. Watch out. Sgt. Gamble You may remember Sgt. Gamble from our CitizenCon 2016 Pre-Show gamestreams. His streams often have an infectious energy that his viewers enjoy. You can check out his channel at twitch.tv/sgt_gamble. RedLir RedLir streams nearly every day of the week, often highlighting his adventures in Star Citizen. As a member of TEST Squadron… well, what more do I really need to say, right? You can catch his streams at twitch.tv/redlir. View the full article
  13. Welcome to Citizens of the Stars, our new weekly program exclusively about you, the Star Citizen Community. Whether through bug reports on the issue council, feedback on the forums, or the creation of content inspired by the game, Star Citizen is only possible because of the community. Citizens of the Stars not only highlights these contributions, but also puts a dev in the hotseat for a round of Quantum Questions, which addresses some fun facts about the dev and game. This week’s Citizen Spotlight shines on the Moon Shiners and all the stellar Star Citizen content they create. Will Junior Technical Designer Robert Gaither take the Quantum Questions top spot? Remember, many of the questions used are taken from our Star Citizen Subscribers in this thread here. Don’t forget to add yours for inclusion in future episodes, vote for the ones you want to see answered, and remember to keep them short and concise if you want your best chance of having them answered in under two minutes. The links for this week’s content are below: CITIZEN SPOTLIGHT The Moon Shiners TOP 5: Hauling a Merlin in a Starfarer to Yela for a Sunday Ride A Star Citizen Movie Series Quantum Paradox Episode 1 “Tessa” a Star Citizen Music Video Orgtool MVP: Wing Commander Theme Rescore by Utho Riley BRITIZENCON: Official Web Page. View the full article
  14. Letter from the Chairman: The Road Ahead Greetings Citizens, After many months of estimating and planning I am excited to share with you the Star Citizen Schedule and Roadmap for the rest of this year. First, I would like to take a moment to thank the outstanding producers around the company who have worked with the Directors and Leads to bring this schedule to the point we feel comfortable sharing it publicly. Creating a proper production schedule is a Herculean task in and of itself and then knowing that it will be visible to over a million eager supporters around the world is a daunting prospect. The schedule you are now looking at is built from the estimates of hundreds of developers around the company, collected and integrated against our overall objectives for the game. To give you an idea of the work that goes into building and maintaining a schedule of the complexity needed for Star Citizen, I would like to share a video with you, it’s well worth your time to see just how much work and thought is needed to schedule manage something of the scope of Star Citizen. The next Release is a major milestone for us, as it will be the first time the community will get to experience the Planetary Tech in a Live build. Like the Star Citizen Alpha numbering change from 1.3 to 2.0 for the move to Large World, with its 64-bit precision and Local Grid physics tech, that allows us to deliver a game of our detail at a solar system scale, 3.0 represents a giant jump in gameplay potential from the code in the 2.x branch. For a start, it will contain about nine months of our main development branch beyond 2.6.x as well as almost two years of Planetary Tech development that the Frankfurt Engine team embarked on in the last half of 2015. The Planetary Tech opens up a whole new landscape (pun intended) for adventure. In the same way that Large World and Physics Grids created new possibilities in gameplay by allowing players to go from walking around a space station to boarding a ship, flying it hundreds of thousands of kilometers, exiting their pilot seat, walking to an airlock, opening it and EVAing over to a derelict station, all from the same point of view, the Planetary Tech takes it one massive leap further. When you see a Planet or Moon, you will be able to fly there, land and explore on foot, or from your ship or a ground vehicle you have brought with you. All seamlessly, all with the incredible first person detail that Star Citizen is known for. With this we are delivering something that goes way beyond the initial promises and conception of Star Citizen; we will be simulating a First person Universe with almost no limits. It’s a great illustration of how with the support of a Community as great as Star Citizen’s anything is possible. With the debut of 3.0 at the end of June we’re starting with the three Moons around Crusader; Cellin, Yela and Daymar. In addition, we’re hoping to also get the Planet-like Asteroid Delamar and its landing zone Levski in as a “Stretch” goal. Then as we move through the year the universe will expand to include all the main landing zones for Stanton. We had originally hoped to deliver most of the Stanton Landing Zones with the first release of Planetary Tech, but that proved optimistic once the talented team at Behaviour, who had built ArcCorp, Levski, Grim HEX and had begun work on the remaining landing zones of Stanton, moved off Star Citizen and onto another Behaviour project in December. We had been steadily shifting our reliance away from external resources and we felt it would be unfair to block them from the opportunity to work on their own game. Unfortunately, replacing an Environment team of over 20 is no small task, which has set back the progress we had originally planned to make on the landing zones of Stanton. As of today, we have just abut replaced the team with internal hires and we are continuing to hire additional environment artists as fast as we can find ones that meet our quality bar. The Environment Team is now some 37 artists strong, so long term we feel we are better situated to deliver the vast amount of locations that Star Citizen and Squadron 42 needs. Rather than make everyone wait for the landing zones to all be completed we decided the best course of action would be to get the Planetary Tech and the other improvements in everyone’s hands as soon as possible. Our goal for 3.0 is to again do what we found so valuable when building Arena Commander: involve the community as soon as possible. More than any other process, it is YOUR feedback that helps further Star Citizen’s development… which means that we need you on our moons with this next release. The worlds we’re creating are massive, and giant planets mean we need a lot of eyes (and mice, keyboards and flight sticks) making sure they’re up to par. How big do I mean? It takes about four and half hours to circumnavigate the Cellin in a Dragonfly at full afterburn or twelve and half days of walking! If every single person registered through RSI today stood on the same moon at the same distance, they wouldn’t even see each other. There’s a lot to explore and a LOT to test in this massive step forward for Star Citizen. While the Planetary Tech is maybe the biggest headline, it is just one of the many new pieces of tech that will debut with 3.0. With the increased detail of the Weekly Studio reports, you’ve been seeing glimpses of fundamental systems that we have been building that will dramatically increase the ability to interact and be immersed in the universe of Star Citizen. Systems like Item 2.0 with its new Player Interaction Mode that allows for a much wider variety of actions and gameplay, such as managing a wider array of your ship’s functions to using and manipulating items like you can in real-life. Or the Entity Owner Manager that will allow us to persist proper state on Players, Ships and Items no matter where they are, even if not in memory or owned by a Player. If your ship is shot up, it will still be shot up when you log back in or return to spot you left it on a Moon. Or the completely new dynamic Physics Grid System that handles the needs of planets and the wide-open reaches of space. You can stand on a Moon as it rotates on its axis, watching the sun rise and fall! Or Cargo and Kiosks that will open the possibility of Professions by allowing Players to earn money as a Trader, Hauler or Pirate. Of course Haulers need protection and Pirates need hunting, which creates opportunities for Mercenaries and Bounty Hunters via the new MobiGlas Mission App. Or the debut of Subsumption’s Mission system which provides a scalable and flexible system that is tightly integrated with our new AI systems, allowing us to generate challenging encounters and scenarios on the fly as well as creating a structure for multipart and narrative missions longer term. I could go on for a few more pages as there are so many new features and content that will be arriving in the next release but in the spirit of TL;DR go to here; to see a detailed list of the Star Citizen Alpha 3.0 Features. Star Citizen 3.0 Alpha is just the first step though. We’ve decided to share our longer roadmap through the rest of the year, so you can have visibility on what parts of the Stanton System come online and when, along with the associated gameplay. Our plan is to have two more releases in the LIVE branch of Star Citizen this year after 3.0 that fill out the Stanton System beyond what we outlined last year. It’s a pretty big deal to share the schedule of our longer term roadmap, but we felt that it would help with everyone’s visibility on when certain features and content can be expected and understanding when things take longer or priorities shift due to unforeseen problems. We would not be here without all of your support and in some ways the Community is an extension of the development team providing the funding and the feedback on the huge undertaking we are doing. No one has ever attempted to build a game as ambitious as Star Citizen and I doubt any Publisher would have the patience or stamina that it requires to build something that breaks molds the way Star Citizen does. 3.0 with its Planetary Tech is a testimony to the power of Crowdfunding and an enthusiastic, empowered Community. Myself and the team and eternally thankful to be able to build Star Citizen the right way, being able to take the time to engineer things for the long term, a way that will allow the universe to flourish for years to come. Together we are making history. See you in the ‘Verse! — Chris Roberts View the full article
  15. Monthly Studio Report: March 2017 Greetings Citizens! Welcome to the monthly report where we collect updates from our studios around the world into a single comprehensive place to summarize the various progresses (and setbacks) they’ve experienced. Last month we debuted our new style of Monthly Report, utilizing the weekly Studio Reports found in Around the Verse to create an overview of progress made in the last four weeks. In addition to our continuing progress with Squadron 42 and the PU 3.0 undertaking, we released both 2.6.2 and 2.6.3 to the entire community, and have now focused those attentions to the upcoming Star Citizen Alpha 3.0. With that, let’s review some of what each studio did this month. CIG Los Angeles CLOUD IMPERIUM: LOS ANGELES SHIP ART AND DESIGN The ship team spent a lot of the month working on the Drake Buccaneer. Art created a custom dual weapon mount and generated all the LODs, while the tech content team implemented UV2s and Damage. Tech design made their flight balance passes to get it ready for flight with sound and then passed it along to VFX. The ship team has also made a lot of progress on the newly revamped RSI Aurora. The whitebox phase in now complete, which includes a proxy layout of the space, establishing the animation positions, placing the screens, and making sure the characters could hold the controls. The final geometry of the cockpit has begun in an effort to improve the inside of the ship. Now that tech design has implemented all the art updates into the ship’s new archetype, the RSI Aurora is heading into greybox. TECH DESIGN The tech design group completed the design for the Multi Function Display (MFD) screens, which controls power, heat, coolers, shields, weapons, countermeasures and missiles, in preparation for Item 2.0 functionality. These designer prototypes are meant to help understand what’s needed and see how everything will interact with each other. UI As soon as these designs have been approved, the UI team will create an interface to take advantage of the functionality that engineering is implementing in the back end. Once this system is in place, a ship that is staffed by a knowledgeable crew will be able to operate their ship beyond the default system settings and min-max the various ship systems to suit not only a player’s style, but potentially save a player during a potentially devastating attack. QA This month QA aided LA Development by checking a variety of fixes for 2.6.2 issues. They also provided support to Austin QA with PTU & LIVE sanity checks, smoke tests, sweeps and deployments, and helped new hires get up to speed with the game. As for feature work, the team swept ship destruction VFX, Item System 2.0, implementation of recent loadout changes, and tested multiple iterations of new targeting and ESP code. For a quick reminder on Quality Assurance terms, a Sanity Check basically ensures that the game loads. This is now automated, but can take about an hour or two to investigate any errors that arise. A Smoke Test checks the basic functionality. This process takes 6-8 people about a day if there aren’t any major issues. A Full Sweep means checking everything possible, a process which requires a much larger team and can take over a week. Full Sweeps are the most arduous, rigorous, and intense, but also incredibly important. ENGINEERING The engineering team started a new shop entity that uses DataCore components to allow shops to be easily streamed in with object containers, with the aim to be finished in the next sprint. The plan is to make shops more dynamic and reactive to the economy by retrieving their inventory from the back end. The engineering team added a new attribute to vehicle XMLs that allows designers to specify the interior grid type of the vehicle (small, medium, or large). This optimization will reduce memory storage as all ships previously defaulted to medium size. As discussed previously, a new Light Group entity was developed, equipped with a state machine to serve as the ultimate light switch. Now that implementation of the core state-switching functionality is complete, the next step is to start using the Light Group in our vehicles and environments and replace all instances of the old layer-switching method of light management. This new light group entity reduces the number of lights used, which has dramatic impacts on performance. For example, hundreds of entities were reduced down to 90 or less with no visual impact on the Drake Caterpillar. A framework is being developed in IFCS (Intelligent Flight Control System) for the autopilot to handle situations like take-off and landing sequences. This also applies to AI control, so they’ll be providing the AI developers with a set of tools for controlling the ships, like a “move-to”, “change speed to”, etc. This will improve the stability and predictability of ship motion under optimal conditions. The Room System and Atmosphere Containers were updated with several new features, better debugging tools, and several bug fixes. The room system has only been implemented in a few locations, but these changes will allow the implementation of rooms and atmospheres throughout the various locations and ships in the game. At the moment, the entering and exiting of airlocks are scripted events. They don’t factor in atmosphere of any kind. This new system will be able to replace this setup with an actual room and atmosphere that allows for a dynamic experience. In addition to the room system changes, a new feature allows the designers and artists to set wear and dirt parameters for loadouts. This functionality comes in two levels: overall and individual values for specific items. Wear and Dirt values are used by the render node to set shader parameters that make items look old, dusty, scuffed up, and burnt out. This task also used Loadout Editor side work, where the team added UI support to edit wear and dirt. Recently, the team started on the Entity Owner Manager. This system will be responsible for managing ownership and lifetimes of all the entities in the game and is a core feature required to take gameplay from a multiplayer game to a persistent online experience. It will work in conjunction with the back end persistence systems to indicate dynamic changes to the world that need to be tracked and persisted across sessions. The Entity Owner Manager will also work with various game and engine systems, including Debris, Salvage, Criminality, Streaming, Missions, Cargo, Shops, and more to help create the persistent experience across clients and servers. The team has been working on scanning subcomponents, which required some slight refactoring of the object databank. After the changes, the databank can support the storage of “child” entries, which will be the subcomponents on ships/players/etc. In doing this, the thread safety of accessing data within the databank was also improved. This allows calculations to be moved onto other threads, which will help improve performance. This focuses on two big elements: the ping component and angle of focus. The ping component is the method in which a player or pilot will send out a wave to see if there are any objects of note within their scan range. This could be a ship, an asteroid, or even traces that mark whether a player entered or exited quantum travel. Since other players can detect these traces, we think that this could have some pretty heavy game implications. For example, if you were an outlaw, it would allow you to track potential prey. Angle of focus allows players to adjust the angle with which they’re scanning. A smaller angle will also provide more range, but only contacts within the angle can be detected. The underlying radar query logic is being refactored to use zone queries rather than a huge iteration of registered radar objects. This will make the scanning system much more efficient. TECH CONTENT Since the tech content team supports and implements every pipeline within Star Citizen and Squadron 42, one of their main focuses have been performance improvements. For instance, the team changed the mesh vertex and position formats, which massively improves streaming of these meshes as well as reducing build size.They’re also improving the Python integration within our editor, which allows for faster development of Python tools which are used by every department across the company. The tools can script any sandbox process they want. For example, it can place asteroids and generate modular outposts, which saves a tremendous amount of development time on otherwise tedious and time consuming tasks. The tech content team completed a character animation tool that tracks and reports the number of various wild lines each character will have in the universe. With over 1200 pages of script for S42, which include all story lines as well as wild lines, a tool was needed to continuously generate reports on how many were completed and what was left to solve. Once the various lines are all in, the system will be able to pull lines based on player action and situation, but also randomize the potential wildline responses so the NPCs aren’t repeating the same line every time. All helmets have been converted to a dot skin format. The conversion was important to allow a unified LOD ratio across the character skins. This means no more helmet-less people running around the ’verse. To ensure this is easier in the future, Tech Content also created a tool that rigs skins and exports automatically which will drastically reduce dev time from an entire day to just a few minutes. Heads were also successfully converted to use the human skin shader developed by the graphics team. Since there are 44 different areas of blended wrinkles and blended diffuse, the texture cost was quite high, at about 100 MB per head. With this change, roughly 90% of the original texture memory cost was saved without discernable visual impact. With the implementation of the female character progressing rapidly, thousands of animations have been transferred from male to female to complete her motion set and provide a data for animation to iterate on. To help the cinematics team focus on content needed for Squadron 42, a tool was written to allow for visibility of scenes before they even hit the engine. This allows for fast exporting of animations and preview renders which are then automatically uploaded to Shotgun. This makes it easier and faster to review the many hours of cinematics for Squadron 42. NARRATIVE The narrative team has been developing some additional 3.0 missions. They’ve also begun documenting posters and props to populate the world of Star Citizen. The team also created an equivalent Time Capsule approach for the Xi’an history from birth to present day as a means of expanding Xi’an history and society documentation. Breakdowns of ethno-groups in the Star Citizen universe has been in progress to take full advantage of the character customization technology 3Lateral showcased at GDC a few weeks ago. CHARACTER ART The character team is working on the ingame mesh of the Heavy Outlaw. Next, it will go onto rigging and implementation. The light, medium, and heavy female marine armor and the undersuit has been sent to rigging and implementation. Once the male base suits were done, an adjusted wrap technique was used to save development time. We’ve also made progress on the Female Explorer suit, which has now moved through the high poly phase, so she’ll be exploring the universe in no time. On the Squadron 42 front, both the EVA deck crew and the Marine BDU have gone through the high poly phase and are onto the in-game mesh and texturing phase. We’ve continued developing the Vanduul and the medium and heavy versions of the OMC outlaw faction. Lastly, the mechanized Titan Suit is in R&D along with other alien concept sculpts. CIG Austin CLOUD IMPERIUM: AUSTIN DESIGN The ATX Design team focused on getting 2.6.2 out the door, which has mainly consisted of adding new subscriber flair items and fixing some minor bugs. Additional shop-related elements have been updated as the shopping system continues to grow. The team is also in the process of revising the Stanton System Map. Also, Landing Zone AI and Usables are undergoing additional development. New subscriber flair will be rolled out in the coming months. One of the new items is called the ‘viVid Display,’ which can display game locations holographically. Players can use the ‘viVid Display’ to find out more about locations, including their intended visuals. Other flair items include a series of ship schematics, which will showcase the level of detail that goes into ship design. These light board displays can be hung from any poster style port in your hangar. The Shopping System will be revamped in our next release. As the Item 2.0 system advances, the Item Port structure has been changed as well so it can fall in line with the end goal. These fluctuations have re-addressed things like how Shop Mannequins and Item Bundles are set up. The team’s goal is to create a base mannequin object that the shopping system can apply loadouts to. The items on a given mannequin would be purchasable by themselves, or as a bundle for a discounted price. In the past, every outfit was only purchasable as an entire set of items. On top of that, a bespoke mannequin setup had to be generated for each unique outfit display. Fortunately, advancing tech will soon allow the Loadout Editor to quickly create various item combinations within a given shop. That loadout, comprised of items in the shop, will then be assigned to the shop’s inventory as a “Bundle.” The Shopping System will then spawn these bundles directly onto an empty shop mannequin with no additional effort by the designers. A process that took hours will soon take minutes, allowing different item combinations to be quickly generated for display on the mannequins. While this might seem like a minor change, this will actually unlock a multitude of options for the design team to create realistic shops. ANIMATION The PU Animation Team just finished a small Mocap shoot using the in-house OptiTrack system. This was a pickup shoot to help fill in all the gaps from the Performance Capture shoots done at Imaginarium studios and captured transition animations for both male and female characters. These animations included sitting down at tables with trays, going through the chow line, eating, drinking, rummaging, or sitting in cockpits and turrets. A Usable is an object that a player or NPC can interact with like a chair, wall, table, or any other set piece, but also include props such as cups, plates, bottles, crates, and anything else that can physically picked up by a person. Obviously, animation can only get these game assets so far. The biggest challenge right now is making all the usables function in game. It is up to code, tech and designers to make them work, which is why Austin Animation is working closely with our Frankfurt and UK studios. The team also amended metrics for door control panels, bathroom toilet facilities, and chow lines in the Idris mess hall. Tech is being put in place that will allow an NPC to navigate to a usable set piece and perform a variety of actions (like grabbing a usable prop off the set piece, setting other usable props onto it, walking away with the prop, going to and interacting with another usable set piece, setting usable props on top of usable props, then getting up and navigating to a third usable set piece to dispose of the usable prop with all the usable props on it). Once this one test case is fully functional, we will be able to use these universal animations with different usables throughout the game. SHIP ANIMATION The Ship Animation team has finished the major animation tasks for the Drake Cutlass Black. Characters can now enter and exit the pilot and copilot seats properly. For the copilot, the team used a new cockpit template called the “Stick.” This template positions the player in a pose like that of a helicopter pilot which was required to fit the new geometry of the Cutlass cockpit. DEV OPS DevOps added additional logging to better track issues and allows the team to dump the status of the users download session at the moment they experience the issue. The DevOps team then works directly with the Community Relations team to debug the issue or issues the user is experiencing. A great example of this is the latest version of the Patcher. As some of the Windows 10 users may have already noticed, the 2.4.9 version of the Patcher brought back music that had been missing. The exact cause of the issue was that the Windows 10 sound settings were set to 192kHz which caused the Patcher to crash if you had the music turned on. You can now enjoy all of Pedro Camacho’s music again! QA The QA Department has been heavily focused on 2.6.2 testing. With the addition of Multiplayer Megamap and Serialized Variables, multiple cross-studio playtests between the ATX and UK studios were performed in order to check for any unexpected behaviors, such as increased desynchronization and lag between clients, massive performance changes (good or bad), and crashes. Since the new Drake Buccaneer came online sooner than expected, we were able to perform frequent testing to ensure the ship was operating as expected for its inclusion in 2.6.2. In the development stream testing, Squadron 42 testing continues, as well as a range of tests with ground vehicles on planetary surfaces in a multiplayer environment. Various development tools are also being tested, such as the Procedural Planet Editor (PlanED), and the Subsumption Editor. PLAYER RELATIONS The Player Relations team was very busy in both the US and UK this month helping with 2.6.2 and 2.6.3. We spent a lot of time with Evocati and QA working on getting the final bugs worked out, then managing our public PTU playtests. In the coming weeks, we will be increasing and updating our PTU test numbers, so we’ve spent a lot of time working on how to roll that out, too. Lastly, we also had a great summit in LA with other department leads and stakeholders to work out our plans for the rest of year, and we got to spend a little time working with our Turbulent friends as well. Foundry 42 UK FOUNDRY 42: UK PROGRAMMING The player interaction sprint is proceeding at full speed. Rather than outlining a whole mesh, they have created a system where sub-objects can be highlighted allowing players to choose individual parts. This is especially useful in cockpits, where players can interact with individual buttons and switches to access things like ship functions and resource distribution. The team has also been ensuring the new interaction system works seamlessly with the multifunction displays (MFD). The new placement system has also come online, so players can choose where and with what orientation objects can be set down. If the placement position is out of range, players now automatically go into a throw state. Different actor states have been added to the Player Status System, so the player finds it harder, or even impossible, to do things like jump, vault and mantle depending on how fatigued they are. Mass has been added to the suit and weapons as another way to influence the player’s stamina. We’ve also added a breathing state component to bring together the player’s status with the procedural breathing animation and sound. The team is now starting work on new gameplay elements like suit punctures, oxygen recharging and depressurisation.The team invested time in the conversation system tech by creating a tool to help simplify complicated conversations when there are multiple actors in the same scene. UI The UI team began the front-end skeleton framework for Kiosk shopping. This includes properly setting up all UI components such as lists, grids, buttons, TextFields, and other various assets. Once this is done, the engineers will hook these components up to the game data and get it presented diegetically in the game world. The team is also supporting the player interaction system to unify the way the players will interact with in-game UI screens across the game. This means the same underlying system used to interact with a MFD in a ship seat will be applied to all in-game terminals, wall-mounted displays, and kiosks. This will make interaction with in-game displays feel much less clunky and constrictive. In anticipation of the Graphics Team’s work on the new render-to-texture (RTT) tech, the UI team has done a round of testing using current helmet interiors to see how well the UI looks rendered onto an interior glass surface.The new RTT tech will eventually allow the UI to render properly in the rendering pipeline, making it feel much more integrated with the game-world than it is currently. They have also checked how well the text will read at various sizes and how any post-processing effects, such as motion blur or chromatic aberration, might potentially negatively impact the legibility of the text and symbols. The UI team is also looking at potential impacts the new incoming dynamic field of view system might have on the UI. This new system will allow such things like the HUD and 3D helmet interior to remain roughly the same size on screen when setting a lower or higher field of view. AUDIO The Audio team has been involved in all gameplay features like the Buccaneer, surface outposts, Squadron level development, and the actor status system. Work has continued on the Audio Propagation system to make audio respect walls, doors and paths. In the current system, audio triggers play from their point of origin and either being occluded or un-occluded, but always play from their source position. The new propagation system will allow a sound playing inside a room to be heard by anyone listening from outside the room, either through the door, window, or any other opening. This extends to other rooms, so a sound playing 4 rooms away will navigate the doorways and the air in between in order to reach the listener. Also, the first and second pass of the mix management system have been completed. This is a virtual mixing console that can be applied to certain areas or rooms and allows the creation of mix snapshots that can apply volume, filter or effect settings on any parts of the audio mix with faders in DataForge that can be tweaked in real-time. Setting up and organising these areas, and mix snapshots, will allow for easy adjustment of the audio mix. Finally, a lot of progress has been made on the WordUp dialogue tool to manage the huge amount of spoken lines in the PU and S42. For fun, here’s a piece of original Star Citizen music called Atomos for you to enjoy. CONCEPT ART The Concept team has been finishing the Gemini ballistic shotgun and establishing the look of a new ship weapon manufacturer, Preacher Armaments. Preacher prides themselves on making high-quality, reliable and effective weapons that are favored by bounty hunters, police, and militia. In 2940, the conglomerate Eon Group bought out Preacher from founder Kino Walton and immediately ramped up manufacturing. Preacher Armaments is aggressively making its way into stores across the universe. Concept work for the Banu Defender is complete, as well as on two additional ships that will be revealed in the future. Work continues on the truckstop interiors, satellite interiors, New Babbage on microTech and dressing for the modular habitation modules. Here is a glimpse of a WIP Truckstop interior. Truckstops will serve as waypoints for haulers and other travelers making their way through the system giving them a chance to restock, refuel, and stretch their legs. ENVIRONMENT ART The environment team has been refining the surface outposts with technical, engineering, and habitation spaces coming together with their preliminary dressing passes. The exteriors are now mostly complete. The team is also looking into lighting variations for the procedural system to add more complex setups for the lighting states. The greybox for the truckstop space station is continuing and now that all the building set pieces have been established, the detail phase has begun. On the Satellite sprint, we’re close to being Whitebox complete on the communication archetype, which means the modules and classifications that were specified by design have been visually explored. SHIP ART AND DESIGN Our ship team has been continuing work on the Hull-C and Reclaimer, which includes the new light controller work that allows for easier set up of different lighting entities and switches them between property states (e.g., on, off, emergency) depending on various circumstances such as a player interaction or sufficient pull from a connected power pipe. The Javelin continues to be polished for both Squadron 42 and Star Citizen. The team is also completing the capital ships of the Vanduul Fleet. VFX As you’re aware, the VFX was completed on the Drake Buccaneer and the ship was released in 2.6.2. Meanwhile, the RSI Constellation Aquila is going through its flight-ready pass. The MISC Prospector finished a thrusters first pass and damage R&D blockout. The new GPU-driven thruster trails have completed its initial implementation phase. On the Weapon VFX side, the style guide has been improved by bringing in a new system that defines the visual style of a weapon based on manufacturer and energy type. The Apocalypse Arms Scourge railgun, Kastak Arms Devastator plasma shotgun rework, and Klaus & Werner Gallant energy rifle rework finished their first pass. The layered impact library has been rolled out. Previously, impacts were per weapon and per surface type, but the new setup allows us to layer up individual elements which gives more flexibility and less maintenance. ANIMATION The animation team has been exploring a lot of technical previs this past month. Part of that work includes improving the functionality of the shouldered weapon state to get the railgun ready and playable for 3.0. The team also polished the prone set so it will be ready for code to work their magic on fixing any edge cases and continued to work on Breathing & Stamina to create a solid look and feel for a player breathing across multiple states, such as normal, tired and hyperventilating. The weapons-free jumps are getting a pass to bring the animations more in line with the mocap rather than the technical first pass implementation. The Devastator shotgun, Gallant, Arrowhead, and Railgun weapon reloads have been improved. Meanwhile, the Derby Studio continued with Facial animation for SQ42 and Star Citizen cinematics. They attended a facial shoot down in London for 3.0 and members of the team visited the LA studio for some facial animation R&D meetings. Foundry 42 DE FOUNDRY 42: DE WEAPONS This past month, we completed all the rockets and rocket pods ranging from size 1 to 3 as well as the first art pass for the Knightbridge Arms Ballistic Cannons. The various sizes can now be used to test out the new modularity system and various upgraded levels and combinations. The FPS weapon artists finished a second art pass on the Klaus & Werner Arclight II, Gallant, and Arrowhead which now include new venting mechanisms that add more visual interest to the reloads. The first art pass on the Kastak Arms Ravager-212 and a second art pass on the Kastak Arms Devastator with an additional layer of detail was also completed. LIGHTING The lighting team began determining a way to integrate lighting on modular surface outposts, so it feels coherent across potentially countless outpost layout permutations. The challenge with this task is that every room could have a different arrangement of props and objects, which dictates where lights would logically be placed, as well as the theme or mood of that room. For example, crew sleeping quarters should have a different mood than a hydroponics lab. To do this, the lighting team tested for possible issues (such as light leaking through walls or certain lighting variations looking incorrect when placed next to others) by integrating simple lighting variations into the procedural system. The team also focused on creating a visual target for our main room types (habitation, hydroponics, mining, and storage) to see how far we can push the lighting to match our concepts and goals for the interior look of our surface outposts. When these are finished, we can then determine how to break the lighting down into modular components that can be fed back into the procedural system. TECH ART The tech art team worked on multiple skinning tasks, including clothing for both the PU and SQ42 (to widen the range of character customization) and a skinning pass on the final Vanduul mesh (so the animators can work on their animations).The team created a tool that allows the team to quickly update the exact grip placements for individual weapons. Artists can now use a reference mesh, create an offset, hit export, and immediately see their changes live in engine. This will allow them to iterate much quicker than before. In addition, they developed a tool for the animators to redirect their walking animations to turn animations. This fairly simple tool that will ultimately reduce the time the animators need to spend on certain specific animations. DESIGN The Level Design team worked on the modularity of Space Stations and Surface Outposts. As an initial proof of concept, the team has decided to move forward with five versions of the outposts. Ultimately with this system, we’ll be able to create a large number of outposts with different layouts and purposes, but first, the systems, props, and placement of planets need to work as intended. The Truck Stop is our first test of modularity in Space Stations. Soon, customizable hubs will be able to create variations using add-ons and procedural prop placement which can add flavor to various rooms. The modularity of Space Stations also extends to how the rooms connect to one another through the use of pre-made flowcharts. Design is collaborating with engineers to get it functioning in-game as intended. The system design team has been continuing their work on the usables system, as well as working with the cinematics team in helping to establish the final look and feel for the conversation system. ENGINE TEAM The engine team finished the physics grid refactoring, which is used to store each individual physical object in the world and to allow for fast neighbour queries. The old legacy CryPhysics grid system worked by projecting the entire world onto a fixed 2d array of cells of uniform dimension. For memory reasons, the old system was configured to huge cell sizes to allow for our massive worlds, which lead to severe performance problems when dealing with lots of small objects as well as lots of entities returned due to the fact the grid would ‘wrap-around’ every few thousand kilometres. To address these issues, the new grid system was designed to have a sparse and fixed hierarchy of nested 3D grid cells of various sizes where objects will get inserted into different levels of the fixed hierarchy depending on their size. That way, the engine can efficiently handle objects the size of a planet (several thousand kilometres in radius) all the way down to small pebbles just a few centimeters across. Initial performance tests in Stanton have proven the new grid to be vastly more efficient (10x less entities returned for small queries, and queries in general faster in the magnitude of 1.2x – 2x) while using slightly more memory than the legacy system. The team has also been developing the core foundation of our AI movement. While motion capture animation is perfect for cut-scenes and all types of linear animations where things are fixed and predictable, mocap-data can’t be used directly for animations that need to be truly interactive. To use mocap-data in interactive situations, longer motion-clips must be broken into shorter clips and generated into multiple variations of the same motion-style. As an example, a simple walk-cycle needs the ability to walk at different speeds, walk in circles, walk on slopes, and walk in different directions. A typical AI-character in Squadron might have about 1000 of these motion-clips. It’s impossible to create unique animations-clips for every given situation. That’s why we developed a blending technique called Parametric Blending. Parametric Blending enables all these clips to be controllable at runtime. It takes the concept of “simple” animation-blending and moves it to the next level. The goal is to make the outcome of a transition or an interpolation predictable for an undefined number of assets. Each motion-clip contains a combination of physical and stylistic properties (what we call the “natural” motion-parameters, because they are inherently part of the motion itself). To control a character in a game, these “natural” motion-parameters need to be passed to the animation-system, and let it generate the motion we need. Once there are enough animation-clips, they’re placed into a blend-space. The most important aspect of a blend-space is that each animation-clip represents a point in a coordinate-system and all points are connected by an index list. In a blend-space, blending is treated as a geometrical problem. The relationship between animation-clips is extremely important for the blending to work. The placement of the assets into the blend-space is fully automatic due to how the animators set up their locators before export. In a single blend-space, there can be more than 100 unique animation-clips and they can be controlled like a single animation. In a 2D blendspace, the travel-speed is on the X and the turn-speed is on the Y. This means we can generate all motions between a slow-walk and fast-walk while maintaining the correct turn-speeds. Blend-spaces are not only limited to simple motion-cycles, they’ll be used for most AI motions in our vast universe, enabling our AI-characters to move fluidly and realistically in the world. The engine team also did improvements to the objects blending with terrain. The underlying terrain and objects shapes are now taken into account to blend procedurally distributed objects more naturally with the planetary generated environment. QA The QA team has been testing the Loadout Editor. The Loadout Editor is heavily used by our devs across all four locations, so it made sense to increase the depth of testing on a daily basis. The first version of the Solar System Editor (also known by its shortened name: SolEd) is being tested as well. The Engineers went over SolEd’s functionality and gathered initial feedback from the team. QA documented the feedback and will work closely with the engineers on the best ways to address and test specific feedback in the near future. They also supported the Engine team with testing of a few things such as the updated Planet Physics grid and the Refactoring of Texture Streamer logic. AI The AI team this month completed some work on Mission related functionalities for both the PU and Squadron 42 designers. They also improved the setup for complex conversation scenarios, where multiple characters need to interact with one another. The first step to achieve that was to allow the subsumption logic to run on top of players. That allows logic on predefined story scenes to be executed and also ensures the AI system can fully communicate with players and interact with them. The subsumption tool also had some improvements on the conversation setup. The team also kicked off work on “Conversation Sub Activities.” The sub-activities describe the logic for multiple characters in one view, to make it easier for designers to synchronize interactions between the characters and the environment. Essentially, those conversations will still result in unique sub activities that run on the different characters so that each individual entity can still handle further events/situations on their own. The first pass on refactoring of the perception for the spaceships was also completed. There is currently a general perception component on characters that can handle several types of senses. A normal Human will have his own vision and hearing senses, but once sitting down inside a spaceship, they will also be able to interface with the spaceship radar and group the information about the different senses into its perception component. This will allow for progress towards more “character-controlled” behaviors on spaceships, since strict dependencies between the game code and specific behaviors running on the vehicles themselves will be removed. CINEMATICS The cinematics team is making steady progress across multiple chapters, from implementing new scenes to polishing existing ones. The team also assisted in defining the look of the conversation system and participated in the various sprints push this system along. The goal is to allow for a cinematic feel while still maintaining flexibility and immersion. VFX The VFX team in Frankfurt has continued working on planetary effects. The systems for implementation have been progressing nicely thanks to the close collaboration between the VFX artists and Engineers. They started implementing some of the new effects on the planets, including various atmosphere and weather effects, as well as more specific effects for various types of assets that will be distributed with the object scattering system. ENVIRONMENT ART The Frankfurt environment team has been primarily focused on finalizing the Crusader’s moons. The procedural assets distribution system has seen a lot of progress and is still improving. All the separate pieces that make-up our procedural planets and moons are truly starting to fall into place. The team is now moving on to get the Levski landing zone integrated onto Delamar and will be the first big landing zone on a procedural entity. This means a new procedural planet/asteroid and the exteriors architecture of Levski will be created. The challenge is to merge the procedural terrain and the landing zone in a way in which they feel like they belong together. Turbulent TURBULENT This month, Turbulent launched spectrum 0.3.2, which includes major performance updates to help render messages and threads in the client. Hopefully, this will allow users to switch faster between lobbies and channels, as well as take less CPU and render time than in the 0.3.1 version. 0.3.2 also brings two new features. First users can now re-order communities in the top left of the sidebar by dragging and dropping the community to the new location.Second, the other feature is the channel thread list, so now threads that contain media information and videos have thumbnail images allowing users to preview the content. There has also been mobile optimization and keyboard fixes that will hopefully be ready for 0.3.3. This should fix bugs Android users have been encountering when typing into the chat. The new patch also adds nested threads to the forums Users can now create a new thread and change a discussion type from a classic chronological timeline into a nested discussion. This gives us two benefits. First, we can now sort by up votes and get a nested reply tree behind it. Second, users can gain more control into choosing discussion types. The post creator will have the option of choosing if it’s a nested thread or not. Turbulent will also archive the old forums on Friday, April 14. We’ve expanded our category list to bring all those discussions from the old forum to Spectrum. This will not be an import, but a recreation inside the new system. This month, the team also worked on the new delta patcher. Turbulent is responsible for building the actual application that hosts the patching libraries, so we’ve worked hard over this month to get this new application setup. It requires a whole new application stack called Electron which lets the team patch the game data with this new launcher internally. Another major project started this month is a redesign of some of the elements of the RSI site. This is a massive overhaul of the website to address how it caters to new users. We can’t talk much about it now, but there will be updates as the design progresses. There has also been progress on updating the Ship Stats page. The ship stats are supposed to reflect the intent design of a ship and not necessarily the exact stats that are currently in game, but at the same time, there are things that are missing. The team is changing how the back end manages this by re-designing some of the tech view, specifications view, and holoviewer. Community Community Some of our devs attended Austin’s biggest media festival, South by Southwest, and participated in a special panel last month. Before that, Community Manager Jared Huckaby and Lead Community Manager Tyler Witkin attended PAX East where they got some hands on time with our incredible backers. CIG team members haven’t been back to meet our East Coast backers since 2014, so it was good to visit again. In addition to meeting many content creators at the PAX event itself, they were also able to attend a Boston Bar Citizen with fans from all over. The importance of these events cannot be understated, as they’re not only a great chance for you to meet the team, but it really energizes the team to directly interface with all of you. And speaking of Bar Citizens, the team was also honored to attend meet-ups in Brisbane, Australia; Austin, Texas; and Santa Monica, California. There are Bar Citizens happening every week. Learn more about them here. Subscribers this month saw the Space Station flair series begin in addition to receiving their very own Big Benny’s machine as part of the annual Subscription update. The March Jump Point was also released with a focus on the Anvil Hurricane. The issue also includes plenty of lore, part of an original Star Citizen serial, and more! On Citizens of the Stars, the team checked in with some of the best screenshot artists, original video makers, and news reporters in the community while also spotlighting plenty of other backer projects. Don’t forget, if you’re a subscriber you can contribute questions to Quantum Questions and vote for which ones are asked to the weekly development guests. Check out the thread in the Subscriber’s Den on Spectrum. During this month’s Happy Hours, the team showed how our designers prototype new systems by building a basketball game mockup live, and our very own Ben Lesnick took a dive into Chris Roberts’ Privateer to talk about how this classic game has influenced Star Citizen. Star Citizen joined the worldwide celebration of Space Week with many developers, including Sean Tracy and Erin Roberts, appearing on the Twitch front page to talk about the worlds being built in Star Citizen.The team at Turbulent also held a live Town Hall to answer questions about Spectrum and their other platform work. Spectrum continues to update with more functionality on the horizon. As of today, old forums are being closed and archived. Posts will still be available to read, but Spectrum will be the new home for any future discussions. Last week, the team held a special ‘Drake-over’ sale to celebrate the Buccaneer being flight-ready. With the Dragonfly and Cutlass finishing up, the current Drake lineup is almost done. Also on the ship front, a lot of work has been put into our next reveal, the Banu Defender. Stay tuned to learn more about both the Defender and the Banu race! Additionally, an update to the Referral Program is in progress. Expect to hear more about this soon, including details on a special contest. Conclusion WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH… View the full article
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