Jump Point Now Available!
Attention development subscribers: the January 2017 issue of Jump Point is now available in your subscription area. This month’s Jump Point features the development of the Razor racer! That, plus a look at Koa e Ko’ia, a visit to the Hadur System, behind the scenes of Jump Point itself and the first chapter in 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.
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Around the Verse returns with a new format that focuses on specific aspects of the game rather than one particular studio. Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner host this week’s show, which features a look at the work that went into the new and improved pirate swarm in Alpha 2.6.
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On this episode of Bugsmashers, Mark Abent tackles an issue with the Caterpillar cargo doors not properly opening. Discover how the complicated doors were designed with interior and exterior animations, and how the Player’s visibility of them were part of the problem.
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<< COMM/SEC INTERRUPT //
// UNAUTH SIGNAL >>
< SIGNAL FOUND >
< START TRANSMISSION >
The signal is live, so prepare to be boarded. Jester is blowin’ the hatch and blastin’ anything that moves with some burning hot B0otyCall to the skull.
I gotta admit, 2947 has been off to a rough start. Really taking my rucksack through the wringer. Bit embarrassing really, but if I can’t shake out my unmentionables on my own transmission what’s even the point? Okay, here it goes — it turns out your wily friend Jester got himself a bounty on his head.
It’d be one thing if it was for one of my decent jobs. You know, one of the scores I’m always jaggin’ on about here. But the damn thing is, I was fingered for an overdue landing fee that I skipped on two years ago. Turns out I accidentally used an old alias in Asura that I had meant to burn. Now, I’m not new at this, so luckily I had all my alerts primed. As soon as the flag popped up the sec-channel, I immediately dropped the face, but by then it was too late. The doggerel had the scent.
This intrepid Bounty Hunter stayed on my tail for about three weeks. Everywhere I turned, boom there was that bastard’s Avenger looming large. Couldn’t even celebrate Traveler’s Day proper. I jumped four systems and still wasn’t able to dislodge the little clinger. Hell if I know why the bastard was so determined. It was a pretty big landing fee but still, the reward for the pinch was barely worth the fuel burn. I figure it must have been an eager upstart trying to earn some rep.
Finally lost the trail two days ago thanks to a quick sell of the falsie to a couple kids who were in the market for an ID. Normally I would never sell a tainted reg, but these little pissants had cost me a job a month or two back when they botched a simple lift. Figured I could take care of two birds with the same bullet.
Speaking of those kids, can you believe they had the gall to take on the NovaRider mantle? Where do they get off? We’re talking a bunch of mints who barely had the wits to put on a flight suit between them and they think they’re worthy to be called NovaRiders? I guess that’s what you get when a generation learns about being a pirate from playing a sim. Discredit to the name.
Though to be fair the name was already discredited as soon as it showed up in Arena Commander. Can you believe those Original Systems codewads stole the proud outlaw tradition for personal profit and gain? Which, now that I’m saying it out loud, does sound like a thing an outlaw would do, but still, the principle, you know?
I think it’s been at least twenty years now since the last time there was an actual legit NovaRider gang striking fear into the hearts of the mild mannered. Those Riders were the real deal and more. They’d sweep in screaming thrash music on all frequencies, so when the poor marks went to comm for help all they would hear is D-Struct singing her head off. You know some Senator at the time actually tried to get playing her music banned for a bit? Nothing makes for a sold-out concert tour like some button-down telling everyone that your sound is ‘too dangerous.’
And then there were the scummers who were plundering under the NovaRider banner before them. Real low of the low. Now, those Riders were known for only hitting cruisers. They would always have one of their own traveling aboard incognito with the rest of the passengers, and then halfway through the flight, their friends would show up knocking outside and they’d be kind enough to open the door. Best part was they always left everyone aboard naked. Figured it bought them a few extra minutes since the advos would usually stop to gawp a bit at all the tasty.
You know, doing all this reminiscing, I’m realizing now that some of you smooth cheeked sorts might think NovaRiders actually came from AC first, which if you ask me is a tragedy of Vega proportions. Guess it’s up to me to educate the masses. Gather around, kiddos, for your outlaw history lesson of the week.
The truth is that the NovaRiders were the first gang to ever fly the black. See, long ago, a ship cost so many creds that — actually I guess it would have been CTRs … or were they still on dollars back then? Doesn’t matter. Point is, they were so expensive that only corps and bougebags could afford ’em and so all the hitters would operate out of stations and ports. Ship would land looking to unload, some friendly folks in masks would be waiting with guns to greet them and that would be that. Until the NovaRiders changed everything.
See, the Riders were the first outlaws to ever hit a spaceship mid-flight. Blew everyone’s minds right out the top of their hats when it happened. Can you image the look on that first pilot’s face? There they are flying around thinking they’re safe when out of nowhere a ship full of nasties drops in and takes ’em for all they’re worth.
I’ll tell you one thing, bet it was a hell of a lot easier to earn back then. Not like now when every slowboat out there’s packing trip-repeats and enough missiles to crack a planet. Of course I say that, but on the bright side, at least I have other outlaws to distract the officials when I’m in trouble. The NovaRiders didn’t wind up lasting very long. After pulling a handful of jobs and freaking the hell out of the people in charge, in swoops the military eager to make everyone feel good about themselves again. Hard cut, no more NovaRiders. At least for a few years.
Wasn’t long before another group used the name. Sort of became a tradition. Every few years a new group would take it upon themselves to carry on. There’s been at least —
[ Proximity Alert ]
… No way in hell … What is with this guy!? Damn it.
[ Engines Starting ]
I swear if I find out those rotten NovaRider punks ratted me, next thing I sell ’em will be a bullet to the brain.
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Game Director Chris Roberts, Global Head of Production Erin Roberts, Design Director Todd Papy and Persistent Universe Director Tony Zurovec sat down together at our Los Angeles studio to answer questions from our subscribers about Star Citizen’s Persistent Universe.
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2017 is certainly in full swing. In Los Angeles, we’ve been hosting a number of folks from studios around the world in our traditional “beginning-of-the-year” summits where we plot out many of the project milestones for the year. It’s always terrific to see the people you spend so much time with over Skype and email in person, and the value of these face-to-face meetings can’t be overstated. We’ve got some exciting plans for 2017 certainly, and you’ll learn more about them in upcoming episodes of Around the Verse.
For the Community Team, we’re making preparations now for attending PAX South. While there is no formal presentation this year, Community Managers Tyler Witkin and Jared Huckaby are attending as fans, as well as many members of the CIG Austin team that will be in attendance to meet up with members of the Star Citizen community and enjoy all that these tremendously fun events have to offer, including a local Bar Citizen. You can find more info about the related Bar Citizen here.
With that, let’s take a look at what this week has in store.
Each Tuesday, the Lore Team releases another installment in one of their many continuing series. These lore posts have been a tradition since Star Citizen was first announced, and if you haven’t checked out some of the older series, like the Tales of Kid Crimson, you can find all the previous entries here.
This Tuesday also brings with us a special treat: another Subscriber’s Town Hall, this time focused on the Persistent Universe with special guests Chris Roberts, Erin Roberts, Tony Zurovec and Todd Papy. Due to the scheduling of our 2017 summits, this edition will be pre-taped with questions collected from our Subscriber’s Den last week, so don’t miss your next chance to hear many of the latest updates on our Persistent Universe development.
On Wednesdays, we alternate between the death and destruction of bugs everywhere with episodes of our edutainment series, Bugsmashers! and The Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where members of the CIG Lore Team explore the design, story and science of one of Star Citizen’s planetary systems. For this week, it’s Senior Gameplay Engineer Mark Abent doing what he does best in Bugsmashers.
Around the Verse, our flagship weekly program comes to us every Thursday, and after last week’s Special Edition look at the Vanduul and Xi’an languages, we return to form with our first full episode of 2017. If you’re looking for all the latest development news on Star Citizen, you don’t want to miss out on Around the Verse, every week on our YouTube channel.
Last Friday, we kicked off the Star Citizen Happy Hour. We were excited to carve out a small stitch of time every week to play the game we work so hard on, and share that experience not only with you, but with our community streamers as well. If you tuned in, you saw that we certainly needed the practice, as Senior Producer Alex Marschal and Design Director Todd Papy stopped by not only to answer questions and give insight into Star Marine’s future, but ridicule Jared for his l33t skillz. While every week won’t have special guests that can swing by in this regard, it’s safe to say you never know who will stop by. Special thanks to Myre of TEST Squadron for taking the time to be there with us. Join us again this Friday as Community Managers Jared Huckaby and Tyler Witkin play Star Citizen with the fans LIVE on Twitch with a special guest streamer from the community, and get your chance to win a free Star Citizen game package and ship! But you have to be watching to claim your prize. Tune in at 12pm PST, 8pm UTC at twitch.tv/starcitizen and don’t miss out!
With that, we’ll see you in the ‘Verse!
The Weekly Community Content Schedule
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17TH, 2017
Subscriber’s Town Hall: Persistent Universe (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/)
Weekly Lore Post (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18TH, 2017
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19TH, 2017
Around the Verse (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 20TH, 2017
Star Citizen Happy Hour @ 12pm PST / 8pm UTC (http://twitch.tv/starcitizen)
Community Spotlight: January 16th, 2017 – Talk Citizen
This week’s theme is “Talk Citizen.” Whether viewed on Twitch, hosted on YouTube, streamed via Internet Radio, downloaded on iTunes, etc. there are many, many Star Citizen podcasts out there for you to enjoy. Below are just a few of the ones that permeate the Star Citizen community. Don’t forget to check the Community Hub for more and upvote your favorites. You just might see them here in the near future.
Visit the Community Hub Podcasts
Guard Frequency is one of the oldest Star Citizen podcasts around, recently hitting their own milestone 150th episode.
Known as, “a place where you can just tune in and know that you’re going to get help from the community,” the guys at Priority One Productions have been stalwart companions on our collective journey to Star Citizen.
You can check out their website here.
Hosted by Nikki “Batgirl” D’Angelo, Star Citizen Addicts Anonymous encompasses a series of podcasts, including “Bensday” where she chats with Director of Community Engagement Ben Lesnick, “Ask Sandi” with VP of Marketing Sandi Gardiner, Lightspeed Lunatics with other members of the community and more.
You can join in on the continuing adventures of Nikki at http://www.starcitizenaa.com/)
Those Guys with Ships began in the summer of 2014 with three guys, some ships, and a whole lot of excitement for the best damn space sim ever!
With over 130 episodes, Gleep, Jimi, Ace and Mark bring a fun discussion of the project that is available on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher Radio and more.
You can learn more about their show and organization here: http://versecast.org/podcast
Not So Sober Saturday
Lastly, Star Citizen GrayHeadedGamer hosts Not So Sober Saturdays on… Saturdays.
It’s a fun and laidback discussion that often highlights the contributions of other community members to the Star Citizen experience, with the best collection of Star Citizen beanies you’re likely to find anywhere.
You can watch the show Saturday nights at 9pm PST here: http://www.twitch.tv/grayheadedgamer
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January 2947 Subscriber Flair
This month’s subscriber flair is the next piece in the space plant series, the Altrucia Lacus aka Revenant Tree! The Space Plant Collection features exotic plants found throughout the galaxy, from strange and unusual specimen to alien specifies or commonly found greeneries. This Revenant Tree is the seventh item in our Space Plant series! Contrary to its ominous name, the Revenant is actually a subgenus of the Altrucia tree, an indigenous plant of Terra III known for its thick and colorful leaves. Geoengineers introduced fields of Altrucias to Hyperion in an effort to break up the dust storms. Although the project failed, the Altrucia trees adapted to the perpetual wind patterns, shedding its leaves and thickening the wood in the trunk. Botanists initially believed that the Altrucias had died, but on closer inspection, discovered that they were quite alive and thus, the name was born.
If you’re an active subscriber, the flair will be attributed to your account today. If you subscribe over the weekend, the plant will be attributed to your account on Monday January 16th. It will appear in your hangar once Star Citizen 2.6.1 launches live. More information about subscriptions can be found here!
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This week’s Around the Verse Special Edition features an extended interview with Britton Watkins (Star Trek: Into Darkness), our xenolinguistics specialist who’s creating languages for the various aliens of the Star Citizen universe. Watch this interesting and informative special edition episode to discover what goes into creating an alien language from scratch.
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Associate writer Adam Wieser explores the unique and dangerous Banshee System during this episode of Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hear about the pulsar spewing radiation at the system’s center, and how a landmark court case and scientific advancements eventually led the system to be inhabited.
Remember that you can always explore the Star Citizen Universe yourself in our web-based Ark Star Map.
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Brought to you by Pips. Experience 'Life Untapped'
January 10, 2935 SET
Despite its discovery over five centuries ago, the Nexus System has maintained a reputation for being untamed territory, a distinction that has persisted to this day. The two most notable events to occur in the system this century not only have criminal connotations but are also connected.
The first incident was Kellar’s Run in 2931. Dean Kellar’s multi-system tussle with UEE law enforcement famously ended in the Nexus System. What had started as a simple dogfight had spiraled across multiple systems and involved dozens of ships of criminals, police and even civilians. The government’s inability to contain the incident brought into focus just how little control the Empire had over the Nexus System. Within months, the UEE Senate approved a measure to bring law and order back to the system.
One of the UEE’s first orders of business was reclaiming Nexus III. Across the naturally habitable planet, outlaw factions had moved into facilities abandoned by the Hathor Group. When the UEE assault began, feuding outlaw crews put their differences aside to defend their planet. The Horizon Crew became the de facto ringleaders and led this patchwork defense force in a spirited fight. Eventually, they were overmatched by the UEE military. Outlaws that didn’t flee were either captured or killed resisting.
The criminal diaspora spread to the dark corners of the Nexus System or slipped into one of the neighboring unclaimed systems. The Horizon Crew attempted to set up operations elsewhere but were rebuffed by larger syndicates controlling those sectors of space. That left them with only one acceptable option: fight to reclaim their turf in Nexus. Three years after Kellar’s run, on January 10, 2935, Nexus’s second notable event of the 30th century occurred: the Horizon Crew perpetrated the infamous Walzer Massacre.
Operation (OP) Station Demien was built in the 25th century to be an operations hub, transfer point and temporary housing location for government workers trying to terraform the smog planet of Nexus II. After the experimental terraforming techniques failed, the UEE eventually sold the entire system to the Hathor Group, which then used the station as a security outpost. Beginning in 2672, when the Hathor Group abandoned the system, various squatters and outlaw packs rotated through the station for the next few centuries. After the UEE pushed into the system, OP Station Demien became one of the first ‘secure’ stations in the extended police action. The station housed supplies and military families waiting for an official residence on Lago (Nexus IV). Yet, the station’s remote location and soft security made it an ideal target for the Horizon Crew’s ruthless plan.
January 10, 2935, started like any other day for those aboard OP Station Demien. Security personnel conducted their routine patrols around the station, but (based on security accounts), everything was quiet. Haulers offloaded supplies and stayed to enjoy a hot meal outside of their ship. Station staff restocked vending machines and reshuffled cargo containers for pick up. Little did they know, a stealth dropship silently drew nearer.
Meanwhile, in the temporary housing habs, the family of Advocacy Agent Emily Walzer received good news. A permanent residence on Lago had been secured for them, and a military transport on a supply run would bring them in the following day. Francis Walzer and his three children had been waiting at OP Station Demien for days. Though they knew the system was still dangerous, sweetheart land deals on Lago offered to government officials and their families were too good to pass up. Now that their lot had been secured, the family could all be together for the first time since Agent Emily Walzer transferred to Lago the previous year.
Following the call with his wife, Francis Walzer sent his son, Arjun, to grab a few bottles of Pips while he read to twins Joyce and Joanne. Arjun rushed out of the hab, as if going faster also accelerated time. Though only fourteen, Arjun wanted to join the Advocacy like his mother. Friends and family described him as observant and endless inquisitive, so the fact that he was the first civilian aboard the station to notice that things weren’t quite right seems fitting. At some point in his journey to the Pips machine, he became aware that the hallways were eerily quiet and that select security doors had been closed and elevators deactivated. Not long after, Arjun spotted the now-famous bloody handprint.
Ten minutes earlier, the station’s security officers had stepped away from their posts for a shift change. It was during that vulnerable window that a small squad of well-armed outlaws took the security team by surprise. Security footage showed that the speed and precision of the attack was such that none of the security officers even had a chance to raise their weapon.
With the station’s security apparatus under their control, additional Horizon Crew ships landed. Assault teams spread across the station, systematically moving from room to room and killing anyone they encountered. Many victims were found executed, a single shot in the back of the head, never knowing what hit them.
Supposedly, the Horizon Crew’s plan was to secretly take over OP Station Demien, fortify and secure it and then use it at a new center for their operations in the Nexus System. Essential to the plan’s success was ensuring that word of their assault didn’t leave the station. It would afford them the time to entrench and notify others that the station was now under their control. It almost happened too, if it hadn’t been for Arjun Walzer and that bloody handprint.
Over 20 different retellings of the Walzer massacre have appeared on the spectrum since this fateful day. Each one uses the iconic image of the bloody handprint that reportedly begins Arjun’s comm to his mother. Incredibly, Arjun stayed on the comm with his mother for nearly 50 minutes. With her guidance, he documented the horrors the Horizon Crew inflicted on the station and evaded the assailants. Arjun’s brave efforts continued until an outlaw noticed an unknown signal coming from the station and decided to hunt it down. Although the final moments of that fateful comm are known only by those who have seen it, there is one word consistently used to describe it: devastating.
Sadly, Arjun’s tragic demise was far from unique, as no one on OP Station Demien during the assault would survive it. Yet, thanks to Arjun’s bravery, local law enforcement officials received word of the assault and launched their counterattack before the Horizon Crew could fully enact their security plan for the entire station. A local militia was first on the scene but had little warning of what awaited them. Within moments of exiting their ships, most militia members found themselves caught in a kill zone. The outlaws’ strategically advantageous position proved to be too much for inexperienced local law enforcement to overcome, making it apparent that the UEE Marines were needed.
The Marine assault to retake OP Station Demien lasted six hours. The battle-hardened Horizon Crew fought for every last inch of space and surface. With nowhere else to go, the Crew knew their plan would either work or be their ultimate demise. Thanks to the Marines, it proved to be the latter. After three years of perceived progress against outlaw elements in the Nexus System, the Walzer Massacre, as it came to be called, was a stark reminder that there was much work still to be done.
Despite its impact on the UEE at the time, the Walzer Massacre is now only the second most famous thing associated with OP Station Demien. Today, it’s better known as a location in the popular video game Star Marine and the recent vid Star Marine 2: BloodLock. This distinction isn’t without controversy, as some believe InterDimension Software intentionally chose to base their game level on the station to stir controversy and receive free publicity for the title.
Regardless of its portrayal in popular culture, OP Station Demien still stands as a symbol of the battle to tame the Nexus System, and the events of January 10th, 2935, will remain an important chapter in the history of the system.
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First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We returned to offices last week to resume the process of bringing Star Citizen and Squadron 42 to life, with stories of holiday cheer and more than a few personal adventures. With every New Year comes the inevitable resolutions, and this year the Community Team aims to continue improving the content we release to you each and every week.
What this means right off the bat is an evolution of the “Community Manager’s Log and Schedule” that went up at the beginning of the week into a front-page post, “This Week in Star Citizen.” As always, it’ll be a chance to give you some of the highlights to look out for in the week ahead, but we’ll also use it to highlight specific content you may have missed out on in the past, as well as bring a much deserved spotlight to the work our Citizens do to enhance the overall Star Citizen experience.
In addition to the change in our Monday posts, we’ll be pushing the continuing evolution in our video content as we move through 2017, including popular hits like Around the Verse, Bugsmashers and Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as well as debuting some new additions to those stalwarts. We’ll discuss one of those additions farther down below, but be certain you come back here in the coming weeks to find out more.
Each Tuesday, the Lore Team releases another installment in one of their many continuing series. These lore posts have been a tradition since Star Citizen was first announced, and if you haven’t checked out some of the older series, like Cassandra’s Tears, you can find all the previous entries here.
On Wednesdays, we alternate between the death and destruction of bugs everywhere with episodes of our edutainment series, Bugsmashers! and The Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where members of the CIG Lore Team explore the design, story and science of one of Star Citizen’s planetary systems. For this week, it’s Associate Writer Adam Wieser with a story of exploration and expansion with the Ark Starmap as his guide.
If you haven’t seen the Ark Starmap in action, you can check it out for yourself here.
Around the Verse, our flagship weekly program comes to us every Thursday, and this week we return from haitus with more behind-the-scenes goodness. If you’re looking for all the latest development news on Star Citizen, you don’t want to miss out on Around the Verse, every week on our YouTube channel.
That brings us to Friday. The end of the traditional work week, and if you’re anything like me, you like to kick back and relax a bit playing some video games, and that’s just what we’re gonna do, only we’re gonna Star Citizen with YOU. Join Community Managers Jared Huckaby and Tyler Witkin on Happy Hour Friday as they play Star Citizen with the fans LIVE on Twitch with a special guest streamer from the community, and get your chance to win a free Star Citizen game package and ship! But you have to be watching to claim your prize. Tune in at 10am PST, 6pm UTC at twitch.tv/starcitizen and don’t miss out!
With that, I hope we’ll see you on Friday!
The Weekly Community Content Schedule
TUESDAY, JANUARY 10TH, 2017
Weekly Lore Post (https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/spectrum-dispatch)
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 11TH, 2017
Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/)
THURSDAY, JANUARY 12TH, 2017
Around the Verse (https://www.youtube.com/user/RobertsSpaceInd/)
FRIDAY, JANUARY 13TH, 2017
Happy Hour Friday @ 10am PST / 6pm UTC (http://twitch.tv/starcitizen)
Community Spotlight: January 9th, 2017 – Storytellers
Those of you that have been following the project for awhile might remember the old Community Spotlight program, where we highlight several of our Community Content Creators who bring their own unique additions to the Star Citizen experience. We enjoyed this opportunity to share these with you each and every week, and so one of our New Year’s Resolutions is to bring this fine tradition back included with every This Week in Star Citizen post.
This week’s theme is “Storytellers,” those fan-fiction creations that see to further flesh out the potential Star Citizen universe. From prose to webcomics to video-series, storytelling is at the very heart of the Star Citizen experience, and what we have for you this week is just a small sampling of many of the tremendous creations throughout the years, from the very old, to one that just began yesterday!
So take a look, and don’t forget to check the Community Hub for all the latest contributions and upvote your favorites. You just might see them here in the near future.
Visit the Community Hub
Under the leadership of Captain Kenny, an Outlaw Coalition seizes control of the planet ArcCorp. UEE Marine and Naval forces must unite in a desperate attempt to prevent innumerable casualties.
The Fleet Arrives is Part I of a three-part film series directed by Terallian, and backed by the immensely talented team, Little Armada.
You can check out his post on the Community Hub here, with additional links so you don’t miss out on future episodes.
“The Citizens” is a brand-new webcomic series dedicated to showing the humorous side of Star Citizen’s universe.
The Citizens is produced entirely by Star Citizen Rurquiza using screenshots captured with our new “Director Mode” recently added in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6, and we suspect, a decent amount of post-production after the fact.
You can follow the continuing adventures of “The Citizens” at http://www.thecitizenscomic.com/
Of course, we can’t forget the Star Citizen webcomic classics, like Hunter, the fan-fiction adventures created by Star Citizen Adrian Nitisor.
Hunter has been in publication since April of 2015, and you can find all issues available for download at http://hunter.thecomic.ninja/
There is also a special video trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEaItVUHxbo
TOG in Space
Finally for this week, we go way, way back into the Storytellers archive for TOG in Space, a work of Star Citizen Fan Fiction that ran on our forums from June 2013 to January 2015.
Created by Star Citizen cmopatrick, the adventures that began on a shipping platform in the Baker System and expanded into a 400+ page PDF document before all was said and done!
If you’re a fan of fan fiction, I’d encourage you to check out one of the most dedicated legacy contributions from our community content creators since this project began.
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Content created by YOU!
The sheer amount of community created content that we come across on a daily basis is absolutely mind-blowing! Our community is jam packed with thousands of determined, creative, and talented individuals who continually surprise us with epic content.
There is no chance that we can highlight ever single submission, but here are a notable few to whet your appetite! Find more on our Community Hub!
Screenshots by Berdu
Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 released right before the Holidays, and like many other talented community members, Berdu took that as an opportunity to capture some beautiful screenshots using the freshly introduced camera controls!
Needless to say: these are beautiful!
Tutorial by BoredGamerUK
If you don’t know who BoredGamerUK is, you have probably been living under a rock! Here is yet another example of one of his educational videos that provide a lot of insight and information on one of the new features recently released in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6!
You can check out his YouTube channel here!
Star Marine Trailer by Nihil
We put a lot of effort into making the release trailer for Star Marine in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6… Then Nihil decided to stop by and RAISE THE BAR!
This fan made trailer is evidence of the exemplary talent we have thriving throughout our community, and we could not be happier about it! Fantastic work Nihil!
3D Prints by RiceMaiden
This 1/64 Scale model of the Prowler was made from a combo of 1/8” Birch Plywood and 3D printed PLA. It features a skeleton support structure with wood paneling to make up the shape. 100% hand crafted from the holoviewer model on the RSI site!
As with all of RiceMaiden’s models, the files are free for everyone! 3D print the STL’s and laser cut your favorite 1/8” material with the PDFs. The links to the files can be found in RiceMaiden’s Fan Art/Media forum post!
We are always thrilled to see the creative and talented efforts of our backers, and we want to see more!
If you are interested in seeing more awesome content, or even submitting your own, swing by our Community Hub!
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This installment of Bugsmashers features some mobiGlas mischief. Resident Bugsmasher Mark Abent is on the case to ensure the mobiGlas scales properly and that the close button actually works. See what charges are needed to get the UI working on this episode.
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Greetings, traveler. During our many journeys, we have found that although the sights and sounds of our vast universe may be awe inspiring, it’s the diversity of the souls who inhabit it that truly make it special. It’s why the team here at OBSERVIST LIFESTYLE is determined to offer a firsthand look at the myriad of people and cultures that form the unique tapestry of our Empire and beyond.
While traveling for pleasure is one of life’s great joys, most travel done in the Empire is for commerce. Massive ships drift across the expanse hauling billions of cargo tonnage from city to city, planet to planet, system to system to where they are needed most. But what happens when the goods you need to deliver are the massive ships?
Most traditionally-sized vessels can be transported inside a hauler like any other large cargo or towed by a tugship, but for larger classes of ships like the MISC Endeavor or RSI Orion, the only way to get them from the manufacturer’s shipyards to the customer is to be piloted. Flying a ship from A to B sounds like it would be straightforward enough, barring all the usual hiccups that can mar any interstellar flight. The difference here however is that when someone spends the credits for a brand new ship, they expect it to arrive in like-new condition. That part, it turns out, isn’t so easy.
Enter the hardworking men and women of Seven-league Vehicle Delivery Service and the unconventional life they lead flying ships like they were never flown at all.
A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
“The first thing everyone does when they learn about how we transport the ships is to suggest an easier way.” I am sitting across from Tahota Ersdil in a small, cramped office in Odyssa filled with dusty ship manuals dating back the last fifty years, datapads stacked precariously high and the thick, lingering smell of cigar smoke. “Trust me. We’ve thought of it or tried it already. The iso system is what we do because not only does it work, but it’s cheap.”
Tahota, owner and founder of Seven-league Delivery, has been kind enough to walk me through the ‘iso’ pilot system that he created over 50 years ago and many ship delivery companies have adapted since. Iso, short for isolated, refers to the method of having a solitary pilot tasked with flying one of these behemoths for interstellar delivery. “See, the first idea most folks have to deliver one of these is to hire a crew and just fly it to wherever. That’s problematic for two reasons. The big one is that paying a crew costs credits.” In order to afford the expense of sending multiple crewmembers along on the delivery, either the sender or the owner would have to pay extra for the shipment, or as what ended up happening once delivery companies started competing on price, delivery crews would receive a smaller salary once it was split amongst themselves.
“The second major issue with a crew is that no matter how careful you are, having that many people aboard is gonna leave signs. Those people are gonna have to eat and sleep and take a crap somewhere. Do they do it onboard and spend the time doing a deep clean when you arrive? Do you send along an escort ship and have people transfer back and forth? Oh, and speaking of escorts, we haven’t even begun to talk about security protocols.”
It became clear quickly as Tahota listed the pitfalls of ship delivery that the balance of time and credits was a difficult equilibrium to strike. Of course, some manufacturers, ship sellers and insurance companies avoid the problem all together and just send the owner a shuttle ticket so they can travel and transport it themselves or in the case of some real bargain-rate insurers, the owner is left to figure out the logistics themselves. However, many customers have come to expect the convenience of having their newly acquired ship delivered to them. After decades of trial and error, there seem to be three main systems that delivery companies employ: iso, ‘trio’ and ‘legging.’
The trio system consists of a three-member team where one person is flying the delivery ship, one is flying an escort craft, and one is resting. To keep the delivery ship in pristine condition, the person piloting it wears a fully-enclosed suit at all times, and bio-functions are restricted to the escort ship. Flying a trio is considered to be the most moderate system. Tahato explains, “Trios are nice because you get the fresh pilots and the escort ship is there in case stuff goes wrong, but the profit margin on a trio is slim. That extra crew and escort fuel eat into the overhead pretty fast. I flew trio for a while when I started out, and if I wasn’t doing a run, I could barely afford a place to sleep and eat. Forget about saving up any credits. You had to keep making deliveries because if you stopped, you’d starve. It was tough.”
The next method, legging, refers to the delivery trip being broken into multiple segments or ‘legs’ flown by several pilots, each one covering the journey between two ports where the ship is then handed off to the next pilot. This has the benefit of each pilot only having to cover a short distance. Though the pilots typically receive less pay per delivery, they can make up the difference if there is a steady flow of ships being delivered back and forth. “Legging’s used a lot in the more populated systems,” says Tahato, “but with all those additional hands involved and that much landing and taking off, you see a lot more accidents happen; from small stuff like dings and scuffs, all the way to having some drunk Aurora pilot crash into you. Not to mention that usually the space around refuel stations are often prime hunting grounds since outlaws know that’s where ships are gonna be. Legging works for some people and insurance companies seem to prefer it, but the ship manufacturers tend to like iso because it’s the best at getting the ship where it’s going like new.”
The iso system, the one Seven-league specializes in, consists of a lone suited pilot flying the whole journey by themselves without making a single stop. It is the method that earns the pilot and the delivery company the most profit, but it is considered a grueling and difficult trip. Of course, I had to find out just how difficult for myself.
SOLO PLUS ONE
Tahato arranged for me to ride along on an iso trip with one of Seven-league’s longest flying runners, Daniel Dente. Arriving at the dock in the upper atmosphere of Crusader, I am greeted by the gleaming hull of a brand new Genesis Starliner fresh from the plant. Just under a hundred meters in width and length, Seven-league has been contracted to deliver the hulking cruiser to Cassel by a company specializing in sightseeing tours. The inside of the ship is richly appointed with amenities, none of which I will be permitted to enjoy during my journey aboard.
Daniel greets me inside the storage area where he is double checking the quantum fuel supplies. One of the keys to flying iso is to avoid stopping at any refill stations. Not only are they a safety concern as they attract outlaws but any docking increases the risk of accidents. Instead, Daniel and I will be refueling the starliner ourselves via EVA. “We’ve got exactly what we need and just a tiny bit of emergency fuel. Since we’re carrying it, adding more fuel requires even more fuel to transport. There’s a lot of formulas and stuff to help us figure it all out,” Daniel explains to me through his helmet.
Like me, Daniel is already fully suited up and will remain sealed in for the remainder of the trip. Before boarding, I had been fitted with a nutra-pack that will take care of my nutrition requirements, as well as an extremely potent cocktail of sleep-replacements and stims to ensure that I remain awake for the entirety of the delivery run. Daniel assures me the nausea will pass soon. “It’s the worst at the beginning and then at the end when you’re coming off it,” says Daniel, “but it means we can do the trip in a straight shot though without any breaks which is faster and safer. Of course, you can only stay on the meds for a few weeks before the real serious side effects kick in. Works out, though. I do a few weeks on and then a month or so off with the family before I head back out.”
I can tell that Daniel isn’t quite sure what to do with me. After fifteen years of flying with Seven-league, he’s grown accustomed to piloting alone. As we leave Crusader behind, he sings to himself until he bashfully stops when he remembers I’m there. “My kids always point out when I’m singing or talking to myself. Drives them nuts,” he tells me. I ask Daniel what he does to keep himself occupied. “The company doesn’t allow us to put up vids or make comm calls while flying. Safety and all that. For the most part it’s music and sometimes audiofeeds. People are always amazed at how well read I am and I tell them they should try being awake for a week. But really, I’m focusing on flying for the most part,” explains Daniel. “These bigger ships usually have a few people monitoring everything, but I have to keep an eye on it all myself. It’s not too bad since we turn off all non-essential systems, but it’s still enough to keep you busy.” The ship’s life support isn’t even active and the only lights on are the ones in the cockpit. Breathing and illumination will be taken care of, once again, by our suits. Later on in the flight, when we had to go check a coupler on the engine, walking through the dark hull of the ship was a tremendously eerie feeling. Even with Daniel as company I still felt very alone.
The views out the window offer no relief as the route Daniel has charted ensures that we sweep very wide of any points of interest. Since we’re flying without a protection escort, it’s important to minimize contact with other ships as much as possible. While most ships you encounter offer no danger, it’s still safer to not take the risk. The most dangerous part of our journey is when we approach a jump point.
As we near the Stanton-Terra jump, Daniel goes into high alert, doing careful scans for any signatures before approaching. We wait for an ArcCorp freighter to pass before making the approach ourselves. I find myself tempted to comm the other pilot just for the social contact. “I get that,” says Daniel as I tell him of my urge. “I was always a bit of an introvert, so the alone time doesn’t get to me as much but even I can go a bit stir crazy. Especially when nothing goes wrong. It’s funny that in some ways the smoothest trips are the hardest mentally. Sometimes, I make recordings to my family or I can tune into the open channel and listen to other people. That helps a bit.” I ask about bringing guests along on the runs and learn that the insurance cost of having the extra people aboard is too high to make it worthwhile.
The first time we had to refuel was the real test to see if I had what it takes to become an iso pilot myself. Leaving the relative safety of the ship to head out into space knowing that we were completely off the radar if anything should happen turned out to be more than I could handle. Seeing my heart rate spike past its already elevated levels from the cocktail ended my spacewalk before it began. Daniel insisted I stay aboard, so I watched him refuel the ship himself.
I’d like to say that the rest of the trip got better. That by the end I finally got out and did a refuel myself or that maybe Daniel gave me a turn at the wheel, but the truth is after that first panic attack, it only got worse. I had gotten inside my own head. Daniel told me that he had seen it happen before, “Not everyone can do this job. Just a fact. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.” Despite all that, I am proud to say that I stuck it out all the way to Goss. I may not have the fortitude to be an iso pilot, but at least I saw the trip through to the end.
For the rest of my life, I think I will always remember the relief I felt when we touched down on Cassel and I finally got to take off my helmet. The sense of freedom was overwhelming. To think that hundreds of men and women make their living this way, crossing through the emptiness of space so that people can get a brand new pristine ship is just another example of the sort of thing that happens every day in this ’verse without most of us being aware of it. In the end, it was a successful run, no thanks to me. I apologized for not being more help as we said goodbye and Daniel shrugged, simply saying, “I’m used to doing it by myself.”
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In a special edition of Loremaker’s Guide, Jared Huckaby sits down with the Lore Team to talk about the process when creating the various star systems that comprise the Star Citizen universe.
Remember that you can always explore the Star Citizen Universe yourself in our web-based Ark Star Map.
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Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 is now available for all backers! Alpha 2.6 includes the first iteration of Star Marine, our dedicated FPS module, as well as significant updates to the rest of the Star Citizen experience. Star Marine offers two game modes that will give you a taste of first person combat in the ’verse while a new Pirate Swarm game mode has been added to Arena Commander and a grand total of eight new ships are available in the PU. The patch also includes a major spaceflight balance pass, a brand new menu system, as well as dozens of bug fixes, quality of life improvements and other changes. The Alpha 2.6 patch is now available for download via the Star Citizen launcher.
You can read the complete Patch Notes here.
Join the Fight…
Star Marine is here! Star Citizen’s first-person combat simulator lets backers engage in pitched FPS battles complete with multiple game modes, leaderboards and an all-new user interface. The initial launch of Star Marine includes two maps, OP Station Demien and Echo Eleven, as well as two game modes. Elimination is a free-for-all everyone-for-themselves fight where players duke it out for the highest kill score. Last Stand offers a chance for players to team up and battle for dominance over several Control Points in a fight where proper teamwork will determine victory.
Star Marine features numerous updates to Star Citizen’s FPS systems including grenades, vaulting, and combat emotes. The Player Health System has been updated so that you can now bleed out, when injured your health pool decreases over time until it reaches a fatal limit or the player heals. Competitive leaderboards have also been
included, as well as a major UI update to the lobby. Star Marine is
accessible to all backers with Star Citizen packages.
Star Marine’s initial release features two maps: OP Station Demien and Echo Eleven.
Star Marine has two available game modes for 2.6. Elimination, an every-man-for themselves mode where you duke it out for the highest kill-score. Last Stand, where Outlaws and Marines battle for control of four key computer access points to earn points.
Grenades are also available in Star Marine from the ammo crates.
Epic Space Battles…
Star Marine isn’t the only major update in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6. The Arena Commander ‘dogfighting module’ has been updated and expanded with a special focus on improvements to overall flight balance. Three multi-crew ships have also been added to Arena Commander’s private matches: the Retaliator, the Caterpillar and the Constellation Andromeda.Thanks to an incredible testing effort by our internal Quality Assurance teams and the Evocati backer group, we’ve come up with some flight balance changes that we think improve the overall experience. We’re eager to hear what you think, so please test out your favorite ship and then sound off on the forums.
A new game mode, Pirate Swarm, has also been added to Arena Commander, allowing players to fend off increasingly difficult waves of the notorious Nova Rider outlaw pack. To celebrate this new mode, we are offering two new ‘bounty missions’ with this patch: defeating the updated Vanduul Swarm and the new Pirate Swarm modes will earn you an account badge. Receiving the Vanduul Swarm badge will once again give players access to purchase a Glaive from a limited stock of 1,500 ships, while the Pirate Swarm badge will give access to
purchase a unique pirate-skinned Caterpillar that will be available in the
store for a two week limited-run.
Battle increasingly difficult waves of outlaws in the Pirate Swarm game mode for both Drone Sim and Spectrum matchups.
Enemies in specific game modes (Vanduul Swarm, Pirate Swarm, Squadron Battle, Battle Royale) now drop pickup items including Afterburner fuel, missiles, ammo or repairs.
We have also made the following ships available in Arena Commander, though they are restricted to Private Matches and Single Player games: Constellation Andromeda, Retaliator, and the Caterpillar.
New Ships, New Mechanics
Fantastic Ships and How to Fly Them
In 2.6, we’ve taken a long look at the internal QA testing as well as feedback from the community about their gameplay experience and taken a new approach to the flight model in general. This update will introduce this new approach along with a myriad of other updates and revisions to help balance the various ships and components.
8 new ships and variants are hangar and flight ready in 2.6.
Massive overhaul of ship flight mechanics.
Complete rebalance of SCM speeds and ship handling for all ships.
Afterburner and Boost functionality has been completely revised. The goal is that Afterburner becomes the method to engage/disengage combat as well as gives the choice between outright speed or better handling.
We’ve also reinvented our Fuel System. All ships have had a pass on their thruster fuel consumption values, intake regeneration rates and fuel tank capacities.
Complete rebalance of all shields, all missiles and missile racks
and countermeasure ammo for all ships.
Out of the Cocoon…
The Drake Caterpillar is flyable in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 joining the MISC Starfarer and the Aegis Starfarer Gemini in Star Citizen’s fleet of large multi-crew ships. Intended to form the lead ship in raiding groups, the Caterpillar is a flagship any outlaw or ‘legitimate businessperson’ can be proud of. Future patches will add additional functionality, including the detachment feature for the Command Module and new upgrades for the Caterpillar’s segments and mounts.
You can learn more about the Drake Caterpillar here.
Hark, the Herald’s Engines Sing…
The Drake Herald is flight ready in Alpha 2.6. The Herald joins an elite group of fast ships which includes the M50, 350R and Mustang Gamma. QA reports that navigating the Murray Cup map in Arena Commander using the Herald is a true challenge … are you pilot enough? Additional functionality relating to the Herald, including systems related to data and hacking, will be introduced in future Persistent Universe patches.
You can learn more about the Herald here.
The Origin 85X is a snub and a half! This luxury touring spacecraft was originally created to launch from the Origin 890 JUMP and is now flight ready for all backers.
New Ship Variants Flight Ready
The Spice of Life…
In addition to the Caterpillar, Herald and 85X, Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 adds a total of five ship variants to the lineup! These include the Vanguard Hoplite landing craft and the four variants created for Star Citizen’s 4th anniversary: the Hornet Wildfire, Sabre Comet, Gladius Valiant and Avenger Titan Renegade.
Equipment that Won’t MISS…
The Items 2.0 rollout continues with Star Citizen 2.6, with a special focus this month on missiles! The patch adds ten missile types, fifteen new missile racks and three guns to finish out the Behring MXA series.
You can check out the variety of new missile racks here.
You can find many of the new missiles and guns below.
Size 4 IR Missile
Size 1 EM Missile
Size 1 FAF IR Missile
Size 3 M5A Laser Cannon
Size 2 M4A Laser Cannon
Size 1 M3A Laser Cannon
Size 5 M7A Laser Cannon
Size 4 M6A Laser Cannon
Size 3 EM Missile
Size 3 CS Missile
Size 2 TL CS Missile
Size 2 FAF IR Missile
Size 1 DF Missile
Size 3 IR Missile
Size 2 TL IR Missile
Size 5 EM Missile
Size 5 IR Missile
Size 4 EM Missile
Size 4 CS Missile
Size 2 TL EM Missile
Size 9 CS Missile
Size 9 EM Missile
Size 9 IR Missile
Size 5 CS Missile
Size 2 FAF CS Missile
Size 1 TL EM Missile
What Else is New?
There are plenty of other additions and new features that Alpha 2.6 brings along with it, from numerous under the hood adjustments to more noticeable quality of life improvements.
Ol ‘38 Bar added to Grim HEX landing zone.
Crusader has several new locations to visit and a new ICC Probe mission.
The Yela Asteroid belt has received some updates, with a much denser field and more varied salvage locations.
Our new front end user interface is now implemented, with updated graphics and new features.
All new loadout customization section for Arena Commander that allows players to edit their ship components for Arena Commander matches through the game interface without the use of Port Modification. This changes will also be retained between play sessions.
Updated Leaderboards for Star Marine and Arena Commander on the website now rank players in each game utilizing actual UEE ranks.
Third-Person Camera System
The third-person cameras for Vehicle and On-Foot have been much improved in 2.6. Players can now select lens size and offset the camera to create cinematic and dynamic framing.
Health System Updates
Bleeding has been added to the game, in both the Persistent Universe and Star Marine. This debuff stacks (additively) with itself and will decrease your total health pool each second it ticks down until healed.
Thank You, Citizens!
Patches like Alpha 2.6 can only happen thanks to the thousands of Evocati and PTU testers who put early builds through their paces. And that says nothing of the countless other community members whose passion for Star Citizen inspires the team every day. This project would not be possible without the support of backers around the world. Thank you for everything.
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MISC Razor Q&A
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Let’s get right to it.
Previous Star Citizen racing ships have been designed with a dual role in mind or as adaptations of existing ships (the Mustang Gamma and 350R). The Razor was intended to be a racer from the skids up. Like the M50 interceptor, the Razor’s natural abilities will make it effective for speed-related missions off the racetrack … but unlike the M50, that was a completely secondary concern.
Special thanks to John Crewe and Jonathan Jacevicius for taking the time to answer these questions for us.
Questions & Answers
Ships inside of other ships. What ships do you think the Razor can be successfully launched and maintained from?
Questions like these are difficult to answer definitively until both the larger and the smaller ships are fully built and implemented, but it’d be safe to say any ship that can take an M50 will be able to take a Razor comfortably.
How do you envision the Razor being used outside of racing?
The Razor has a small set of offensive weaponry so whilst it can be used for combat at a push, it is not designed for it and in protracted engagements will fall prey to dedicated combat ships. Its speed and endurance (for a racer) would allow it to work in an interceptor role like the M50.
Why would we choose this ship over an M50 or 350R? Why would we choose those ships over the Razor?
Designed to be an endurance racer rather than a drag or F1 style racer the Razor will be able to last longer in races before the pilot has to start considering their fuel levels, whilst the pure performance isn’t as good as the M50/350R in a straightline or maneuverability it will still be able to keep up.
Can the razor be equipped with a Jump Drive?
It is currently planned to be capable of having a Jump Drive like other ships who have Quantum Drives.
How does the Razor’s fuel collection system compare to that of the Mustang Omega? How do you imagine this difference manifesting itself in the PU?
The fuel collection system is much more efficient than the Omega, resulting in the ability to regenerate more fuel per second than other racing ships. Unlike other ships the Razor essentially has its intakes spread across the surface of the ship so does not require the ship to be moving in the direction the intakes are facing to regenerate fuel effectively.
Are there any variants planned?
There are no variants planned at the moment although during concept we trialed a few alternative paint jobs that may be available in the future.
The Razor has a small powerpack compared to the M50 with the same size engines, will this mean the Razor will have more efficient engines compared to the M50? And will there be any other differences between the two in terms of thrust to weight ratio and acceleration?
The Xian influenced thrusters on the Razor provide a more efficient thrust output for the power plant size than the relatively “traditional” thrusters on the M50, combined with the lightweight hull this allows a similar level of performance.
How do you imagine the durability to be? It seems like after so much weight-shaving, it might be more easily damaged compared to other ships in it’s class.
The Razor is very much the structurally weakest of the dedicated racing ships, aside from perhaps the Archimedes and will be very susceptible to damage causing serious performance degradation, especially the fuel regeneration ability. This is an important trade-off for it’s other advantages.
Does the wind tunnel testing profile mean that airfoils will work and we can expect lift, weight, thrust and drag to be simulated in the flight characteristics of each ship when in atmospheric conditions? If so, will there be a new flight model or IFCS mode switch to handle the transition from Space to Atmosphere and different variations in gravity?
IFCS automatically adjusts the flight handling when transitioning between Space and Atmosphere, there is no need to manually transition between modes as it all done for you.
We currently simulate drag and gravity in atmosphere and this is calculated on a per ship basis, so ships like the Razor will handle better in atmosphere than others due to their shape but in the Razors case will potentially be more susceptible to wind/turbulence do to its low mass.
About the Sale
The Razor 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. The sale includes Lifetime Insurance on the ship hull and a pair of decorative items for your Hangar. A future patch will add a Razor poster and then once the in-game model is finished you will also be given an in-game Razor mini ship model! In the future, the ship price will increase and the offer will not include Life Time Insurance or these extras.
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 all decorative ‘flare’ items will also be available to acquire in the finished game world. Also, while the Razor will be entering the ship pipeline now, it will ultimately be released after other concept ships have been completed. The goal is to make additional ships available that give players a different experience rather than a particular advantage when the persistent universe launches.
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Mark Abent, our resident Bugsmasher, investigates why blackout animations aren’t triggering on the character after experiencing excesses G-forces in their ship. As an added bonus, he squashes a separate bug with no name that is triggering a ton of crashes. See what solutions he comes up with on this episode of Bugsmashers.
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The Unexpected Guest
Looking into the vastness of space it’s easy to feel small and insignificant, yet our ingenuity, inventiveness and imagination have made that extensive expanse of nothingness manageable. Today, we frequently travel great distances without giving it so much as a second thought. That is until, every once and awhile, something happens that’s so unbelievable it makes you realize we’re all connected by space and time in ways we’ll never fully understand. This is Untold Tales.
Today, we visit the planet of Tram in the Ferron System, which has struggled to find its footing since mining companies left en masse during the mid-29th century. As the good paying jobs fled, so did the system’s population. For the last century, Ferron has had only a few permanent residents, but that makes this untold story of an unexpected guest arriving at Octavia Watt’s door that much more incredible.
It was a late December day in 2945 when the 127-year-old Octavia Watt decided to spend the afternoon getting her house ready for Traveler’s Day. Each year, her three children and their families celebrated the holiday at her modest house on the outskirts of Tram. Gang fights over water and poor public services had driven most of the other residents away, yet Octavia stayed despite repeated attempts by her children to get her to move someplace less dangerous.
OCTAVIA WATT: I wasn’t havin’ none of it. There’s not much there ’cept my memories, but that’s part of why I liked it. It also reminded me of the homestead in Charon where I grew up. There’s a special kind of peace that comes with simple livin’.
Octavia’s children had resigned themselves to their mother spending the rest of her days in a house she loved, situated within an increasingly hostile landscape. That is until an unexpected guest arrived and changed everything.
OCTAVIA WATT: I’d wandered down to Merle’s to borrow an extra set of towels, ’cause there never seems to be enough when the kids are home. I was about halfway back to my place when the sky just lit up.
Octavia looked up as a sonic boom erupted around her. Then a piercing scream cut across the sky, slicing through the thick layer of clouds and pollution permanently plastered above. A moment later, a second boom and a flash knocked her down. When she regained her footing, Octavia saw with horror that her house was in ruins. Amidst the dust and debris sat an improbable and unexpected guest.
OCTAVIA WATT: I just … I mean, I had no idea what in the world had happened. When I got closer all I saw was this burnt up metal tube covered in UEE and Marine logos right where my good recliner used to be.
The sudden and surprising impact roused Octavia’s remaining neighbors from their homes. One by one they gathered near the impact crater. They were baffled by what was before them until neighbor Merle Ramic, who had done a brief stint in the UEE Navy, arrived on the scene. He immediately identified the metal object as an individual rapid-entry assault pod used by the Marines for space-to-surface operations, more commonly known as a “Nail.”
Worried someone was trapped inside, Merle carefully made his way into the wreckage and opened the emergency hatch. After easing the body to the ground, Merle removed the Marine’s helmet, hoping there was still a chance to save the poor soul. Only to discover that it was too late … way too late. The Marine had been dead for a while.
Local officials were on the scene in record time. The area was cordoned off and witness statements taken, but no one could answer the only question that mattered: how could Octavia’s house have been destroyed by a dead Marine?
Though many outside of the Marines have heard of the Nail, few have seen it in action. UPARQ scientists are believed to have reverse engineered the tech from the feared Vanduul boarding “Spikes” used in ship-to-ship combat, modifying the design to make it viable for a Human occupant. The current Nail can safely deploy a Marine from a ship in space to a planet surface in ninety seconds. The device is a technological marvel, if correctly deployed, and a metal coffin if not.
The UEE has never publicly commented on the incident, or even given Octavia an explanation about why her house was destroyed. They did pay her a generous resettlement fee and she now lives with her daughter in Cestulus. However, Octavia still finds herself wishing she called Tram home.
OCTAVIA WATT: Oh boy, do I miss the peace and quiet. There’s just too many people around here for my tastes, but what other options do I got? At least I can still take care of myself, so I’m not too much trouble for Elena.
Octavia still wonders exactly how a Marine Nail found its way into her house. When Untold Tales returns we talk to the person who might hold the answer — her former neighbor, Merle Ramic.
MERLE RAMIC: I did my tour in the Navy, but was around enough Marines to know that uniform he was wearing was old, like real old. Based on some research I’ve done, I’d say about 200 years or so.
After the break, Merle shares with us exactly what he saw that day. And we ask the question, what is the UEE hiding? Was this Nail deployed during a covert action in the Ferron System, or stranger yet, could it have somehow possibly come from an entirely different system centuries ago?
Those questions and more when Untold Tales returns.
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Jump Point Now Available!
Attention development subscribers: the December 2016 issue of Jump Point is now available in your subscription area. This month’s Jump Point features the development of the Prowler boarding ship! That, plus a look at Esperia, a visit to the Kabal System, behind the scenes of the Tevarin character design and the next chapter in a new kind of Star Citizen short story! Grab your copy today.
Interested in becoming a development subscriber? You can learn more here.
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Monthly Studio Report: November 2016
November 2016 was one for the record books! We celebrated our fourth anniversary with a special ‘air show’-themed livestream featuring the return of everyone’s favorite Galactic Gear (now Galactic Tour!) host. We launched the long-awaited Prowler boarding ship and made great progress all around… which you can track in more detail than ever thanks to the weekly production reports we now share with the community.
Work continued on Star Citizen Alpha 2.6, 3.0 and Squadron 42 this month, with a focus on getting Star Marine ready for launch. We’ve been having an incredible time watching it come together, and we’re excited to let the Star Citizen community exerience the pitched FPS battles our Quality Assurance teams have been putting through their paces. Now let’s take a look back at the month that was November, 2016.
CIG Los Angeles
Cloud Imperium Los Angeles
With the push for 2.6, the team made huge progress on the vehicle system and flight control, while laying the groundwork for further development of the item system. Improved first-person radar mechanics should allow for new gameplay, and the first version of our atmospheric volume system was rolled out. Work continued on systems that support and control interactions, and tools for designers to flesh out the gigantic universe of Star Citizen.
Our tech design team continues to plug away supporting the engineers in their endeavor to get Item2.0 up and out the door. We also started putting some new ships through the pipeline. We can’t say which yet, but in the meantime, we’re very excited to finally release Drake’s Caterpillar and Herald. Last but not least we’ve been all hands on deck getting SC alpha 2.6.0 ready for public consumption as well as working with the various teams to put on a fun live stream.
The Art Teams have been dividing their efforts between Star Marine, Squadron 42 and the Persistent Universe. The Ship Team put the finishing touches on the Caterpillar and also moved onto the Drake Buccaneer making progress on the whitebox and now greybox of that ship. The Character Art Team worked on planetary fauna to add to the vast landscapes of our many planets as well as updating and working on humanoids by improving textures on the Outlaw and Marine BDUs, and have also created several new clothing items that you’ll soon see in the shops in the Persistent Universe. Both teams still have much more to do, so keep your eyes peeled for new additions!
The team was intensely focused on cleaning up the animation streaming system and unified the character head assets. Character Items were revisited and improved, setting the stage for the inventory system yet to come, and new scripts and pipeline tools will allow for artists and designers to bring even more to the ‘verse in coming builds. For the first time, asset and profiling fixes lead to zero asset build errors in the game.
In the wake of last month’s motion capture shoot, the team worked with the editor to review the footage to put together selected footage for Chris to review. In anticipation of the November Live Stream, everyone pulled together to help script some of the events and segments while continuing to tackle any lingering 2.6 needs, the vast catalogue of items that are being created and chipping away at 3.0.
Will and Adam faced each other in the Electronic Access Invitational, causing much division and tension in the writer pit. Although the competition was resolved, hopefully they will start speaking soon.
LAQA’s primary focus was on supporting local developers, and providing QA support and participating in the November Live Stream event. This involved a number of Star Marine and Arena Commander playtests. The team also took looks at the latest Afterburner and flight balance changes, as well as new missile systems that John Pritchett was working on. The team also enjoyed taking early looks at the new slate of ships for SC alpha 2.6.0: the Caterpillar, the Herald and even an extra-early look at the 85X.
LAQA also welcomed to the team a new tester: Andrew Hernando. Andrew joins us from Turtle Rock Studios, and he jumped in the deep end very quickly to get up to speed on the full scope of Star Citizen.
Cloud Imperium Austin
November has been a big month for Star Citizen. We have ramped up major testing on Alpha 2.6 and started adding Evocati playtesters as well. We provided a lot of technical support for the Anniversary Livestream and a ton of Player Relations and Platform support for the Anniversary sale which was a huge success! We’re looking towards the release of 2.6 now and the end of the calendar year, so here are some detailed updates from each team.
The Austin Design Team has been looking ahead to 3.0.0. for the majority of November. Lead Tech Designer Rob Reininger took a trip out to LA to touch base with several of the Execs and Directors on various topics. He discussed the Shop Entity setup with Chris Roberts and Paul Reindell, presented the latest iteration on the Shopping Kiosk designs to Chris, and reviewed upcoming design requests for the Character Team with Josh Herman. He got some great feedback and has been doing another iteration on the Shopping Kiosk, working with the UI Team to get some good mockups.
We’re experimenting with “Shop Archetypes” for the better part of a month now. These archetypes are basically establishing fundamental parameters that every shop within a certain “type” will follow. Parameters include specific metrics that need to be followed, types of NPCs, prop requests, animation requests, and any gameplay considerations that need to be taken into account. The first batch of Shop Archetypes we’ve been addressing are “Bar,” “Clothing Shop,” “Security” and “Personal Weapons Shop.” There are several questions surrounding these various archetypes, so we’ve been having regular syncs with Tony Z and Todd Papy to answer these questions.
Designer Pete Mackay has been focused on the economy as it relates to 3.0. He’s been tweaking his Price Fixer tool, which takes varying gameplay aspects into account to generate value for items and components. These values will help to inform final in-game pricing for items and ships. Pete has also been defining various aspects of the “Commodities” list, distribution of said commodities, and how this informs the establishment of trade routes within the Stanton System.
Ship artists Chris Smith and Josh Coons are chugging away on their respective ships. Chris Smith is putting the final touches on the Hornet refactor and Josh is in the middle of Greybox pass for the Drake Cutlass refactor. Chris and Josh also took some time this month to create variants on the Hornet and Herald, the Wildfire and racing variants respectively. Emre Switzer has been hard at work at lighting the Star Marine maps, OP Station Demien Station and Echo Eleven.
The PU Animation Team has been supporting Squadron 42 by implementing animations for the various Usables that have been set up in the Idris by Design. Bryan Brewer and David Peng worked on the Idris Deck Crew sequence, splitting up the various roles within the Deck Crew to be operated completely as AI. This is a very complex sequence that required a lot of back-and-forth with Design and it is looking really awesome. David and Vanessa have since been incorporating what we’re calling “lego piece transition” animations into the existing animation sets. These lego pieces were captured at Imaginarium Studios and, once stitched in to various animations, will allow AI characters to interact with Usables at more angles than they could previously. Right now we’re specifically working on stitching these into the Mess Hall and Sitting Console animation sets.
The Ship Animation Team wrapped up work on the Drake Caterpillar and Origin 85X this month in preparation for the 2.6 release. Jay Brushwood has since moved on to improving the GForces animations in the various cockpit types, taking into account improvements in other tech like Eye Stabilization to get them feeling really nice. Daniel Craig finished implementing all of the updated enter/exit combat speed animations this month as well.
The Backend Team spent the month delving into various areas of the project. Tom Sawyer has been fixing up bugs to help smooth out our lobby/matchmaking services. He is also supporting the UI Team in implementing the new Frontend Refactor of the Lobby, Matchmaking, and Leaderboard screens. Tom also created a new Leaderboard Service that grabs info from the website leaderboards and posts them in the new in-game Leaderboards.
Lastly, Ian Guthrie at Wyrmbyte helped implement some new admin commands that will help our LiveOps and Customer Support teams better navigate servers and identify problems. Ian is always a huge help and we’re grateful for all he has done on this project.
The first half of the month testing focused on Star Marine and Arena Commander to ensure they were ready for the November Live Stream. The second half of the month, the focus has been testing 2.6.0 and supporting multiple deployments to Evocati. We worked closely with Turbulent in a series of destructive tests of the new Spectrum website. Michael Blackard, Elijah Montenegro and Dash Wilkinson were tasked to assist the Animation department with special projects. This month we also welcomed Justin ‘Jub’ Bauer to the team.
If Player Relations is unfamiliar to you, it’s because it’s just been created! CIG Player Relations encompasses three areas: Game Support, E-Commerce Support (formerly Customer Service) and Community Support, with Will Leverett as Director of Player Relations overseeing the global department out of Austin, Texas, and Ray Roocroft managing the UK team.
We’ve worked hard to combine our US and UK support teams into a single organization that can mobilize to expedite support for the backers, and there was no better example than the work that the team did each and every day of the November Anniversary Live Stream and Sale. Special kudos go to Kraiklyn and CDanks for doubling up on live stream support.
We spent the later part of the month preparing 2.6.0 to go to the Evocati, and a very special thanks goes to Proxus, Mac, and George for their efforts in managing the test environments. They’ve spent countless nights and weekends working on Star Marine with our volunteer testers, and we’re excited that we’re getting close to pushing the build out to a wider audience.
Network Services Manager Paul Vaden and IT Director Mike Jones spent time in LA with IT Manager Dennis Daniel in order to prepare for the November Live Stream event. For this live stream event, the IT team coordinated to build and deploy 12 gaming class systems that were used in the head to head matchups between Team Anvil and Team Aegis. Additionally, the IT team built a new live streaming solution capable of switching and mixing all players into the live stream plus cameras. Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding project, but the real credit goes to the video production team for pulling off a great show.
2.6 was a huge focus this month as we prepare all our servers and publishing systems for Star Marine. While we completed several publishes to the Evocati, we deployed countless publishes internally for the QA teams across all studios to test on. With any major release there is a good amount of configuration and tuning that goes on behind the scenes. We really enjoy the early testing phases for this work. Special call out to Ahmed and his team, Andy, Nathan, and Jeffrey who have been putting in so much work on the publishing pipeline in order to streamline our internal publishes for flawless rapid deployment. This will be critical in the coming weeks as we roll out 2.6 to wider and wider groups.
Foundry 42 UK
Foundry 42 UK
The big focus this month had to be the Prowler. It was a complex ship and we had a lot to deliver but the team did a great job. We didn’t get to rest on our laurels, though, as we had work to do on the 85X, MISC racing ship and Caterpillar promo. Work has begun on the Vanduul Stinger and the ship team has kicked off a major lighting pass on the Idris to make sure that our characters look amazing in the ship’s interior environment. Finally, several more rooms have been checked off the Javelin, leaving only a few left until the interior is complete.
We have three FPS weapons in concept. Plus, we have done a ton of previous work for more Klaus and Werner energy weapons. We have also done additional work with the Knightbridge Arms ship weapon family and fleshing out modular barrels.
In addition, we’ve been pushing heavily to close out 2.6, particularly the Star Marine maps OP Station Demien and Echo Eleven. As you can see, we’ve also continued to push along the visual development of our ‘surface outpost’ set as well as our planetary surface assets for the vertical slice level.
The team Behaviour focused on adding life to the three epic planets they’re working on. Each planet has now evolved from whiteboxed to textured and modelled environments. Although it may seem a lot of work is done, but more intensive work will be needed on the texture and composition to hit the look and feel we’re hoping to bring to the fans.
For Hurston, we focused on two areas, the interior streets and vista shots of the planet. For the interior streets, we wanted to create an oppressive feel for the general populace, so we added obstructed skylines, narrow alleys covered with machinery, ever present security checkpoints, and expressionless statues looking down towards the streets.
For MicroTech, we reduced the size and scale of our plan and focused on one dome only in an effort to make the planet a more feasible endeavor, while maximizing the visuals.
For Crusader, we worked especially hard in utilizing the building silhouettes and gaps between buildings to present breathtaking vista shots on the skylines. We also spent time on the background buildings of the map to complement the planetary vista, which offers a nice balance between the natural environment and human technology.
This month, the VFX team finished a full pass on two of the new ships going into 2.6 including the 85X and the Caterpillar. For Star Marine, we completed a final optimization pass for the Demien and Echo Eleven maps including destructible props and surface type impacts, implemented a new VFX pass on the energy shotgun (changing the rounds from electricity to plasma) and did an initial pass on dead player fadeout VFX.
We did a huge clean-up of ship and fps weapons, implementing a new projectile shader created by the Graphics team and improved missile effects to tie in better with the new missile assets. In a bit of administrative work, we also cleaned up our library of generic particles. It’s always nice to do a little spring-cleaning to makes sure the team can find elements quickly.
Most of the S42 designers have been working out of our Frankfurt office throughout November in an effort to work as efficiently as possible with the system designers that are helping with the Subsumption implementation. Obviously, the tech is still being developed, but the process is really paying off and we are starting to get behavior types into the game. The Vertical Slice level is still enabling us to prove out gameplay mechanics that will allow designers to polish up the graybox missions and the intense focus on small details is making a big difference across the board.
The guys working on 2.6 are fixing bugs and last second polish actions that will hopefully make it into your hands very soon.
This month the Audio department, like the rest of the team, was pretty heavily focused on Star Marine and other 2.6 needs. For 2.6 we finished up audio for the Caterpillar and 85X which included everything from thrusters and moving parts to extensive work on the internal ambience around the ship. For Star Marine, we created and implemented ambient and environment sounds for the levels, weapon sounds, player sounds and ambient music. Extensive work was also done to include announcers for the teams.
We also continued working on Squadron 42 which included (without getting into specifics): developing our outsourced editorial pipeline to handle the massive amount of dialogue that’s been recorded, optimizing the AI battle chatter code, working on the ambient and cinematic music.
For the PU and Arena Commander, we did an overhaul on the Announcer and Ship Computer Systems, including the implementation of a Ship Computer Verbosity setting into the options menu, and fixed some issues where sound was dropping out during Quantum travel and during some weapon fire.
Since last month, the UI team has been continuing work on the implementation of the new front-end menus and Electronic Access lobbies. The entire front-end flow is now mostly in a functional state, and the artists have been working on furthering the visual polish and animations for each screen. We’ve also been working on both the Star Marine and Arena Commander loadout interfaces – for ship customization, we’ve got 3D holo-objects rendering in the UI with smooth rotation and zooming. The work we are doing here will also eventually serve as the base system for the revamped in-world holotable interface.
Since the live stream, we’ve also made additional headway with regard to the Star Marine game HUD – which includes better AR callouts for friendly players, offscreen icon boundaries, as well as improved rendering of the 2D UI. We have also designed 3D icons for in-game pickup items in Arena Commander. We have also started working on insignia designs for Star Marine and Arena Commander leaderboard rankings.
Again working hard on all the features and polish for 2.6 and on the FPS for the Star Marine games. In Arena Commander we’ve now implemented the missile and ammo pickups. We also continued work on the new camera system including the new spectator cam mode.
The team is also working hard on the Arena Commander mega map. Most of the work required for the dynamic gamerules has been completed, and now it’s at the testing stage to find what still isn’t working and fix it up. The lobby refactor means we can now connect and disconnect to a server without having to completely load and unload a whole map, which we hope will make a big and positive difference for you while creating and joining Arena Commander matches.
On the networking side we’re making great progress with the message queue rewrite, serialised components, the lobby refactor and entity bind culling.
The depth of field effect is getting a complete overhaul to vastly improve its speed (up to 10x faster in some cases). We’re fine tuning the shadow system to achieve greater shadow resolution and many more shadows through the introduction of static shadow maps for the environments, with the focus being on achieving cinematic quality lighting on SQ42 in-game rather than just in hand crafted cut-scenes. We’ve also started on a major upgrade of the bounced light system (global illumination) with the first step being the GPU acceleration of reflection/cube-map captures to remove the previous offline/CPU system.
We have been mostly supporting the upcoming Star Marine release. There has also been continued work on AI combat animation assets so that the design and programming teams can get core functionality implemented and ready for the next round of animation iteration.
All existing base weapons have been through a second animation pass. Reloads are improved, as well as hand positioning and various other tweaks. There has been some further work done on previz for the next round of weapons that are due to come down the pipeline. Legacy weapons have been spruced up for the initial Star Marine release with improved hand positioning and firing animations.
The prone animation set is being looked at with a view to implementing some big improvements. Core poses will be updated and transitions to and from different stances are prepped and ready to be worked on.
We have a new animator based in the Frankfurt studio that is mainly going to be working with the design and code team on getting AI functionality looking and feeling good. There has been progress made on player combat signals as well as AI reactions to danger / sounds.
To help with 2.6.0 feature testing and preparation for the live stream, we split our team into three groups, with Liam leading the Squadron 42 testing, Mike leading Arena Commander and Crusader testing and Nathan leading Star Marine testing, with the help of our FPS specialist Mark Tobin. The testing required a lot of cross studio communication and team building as we worked on filling servers to ensure we had a steady platform to push to the Evocati shortly after the live stream. For the live stream itself our efforts came together, testing the new flight balances put in by the tech team and the new ships, we had several dry runs of what we showed to ensure it all went off without a hitch.
Foundry 42 DE
Foundry 42 DE
For the SQ42 campaign we’re continuing work on video comms and several conversational scenes, cleaning and editing the required animations as well as setting up and lighting them. We also experimented with a camera/character based lighting rig, as we’ll have the challenge that some conversations can happen in very dark alcoves/corridors or other non-controlled situations where we might want more filmic light shining on the scene.
We also completed the 10 separate “Galactic Tour” segments for the Anniversary Live Stream. Those featured already established lore character Jax McCleary visiting the 2946 Intergalactic Aerospace Expo. Jax used a modified Tier 2 character head and, as time was critical, only had some basic animation cleanup done for body and face. For the Expo, we built the ex-Navy airbase and hangars that got converted into show floor halls. Different ship manufacturers got a 3D version of their logo, including Drake, Aegis, Anvil and RSI.
During the past month, the Frankfurt VFX work has been focused on polishing effects for the 2.6 release. These included full environmental VFX passes on several of the levels as well as some effects created specifically for the FPS aspect of the game, like several new variations of blood impacts for when the player is shot, screen effects for player damage that are triggered via flowgraph and a new MK4 frag grenade explosion.
DEQA’s main focus for November was Star Marine, Squadron 42, as well as testing new engine-side features. Chris Speak and Glenn Kneale spent a majority of the month working on Star Marine ad-hoc testing and regression, with Glenn also tackling Squadron 42 testing and AI sync meetings. We also participated in multiple playtests not only once but sometimes three or four times per day, ranging from dev playtests to cross studio playtests with our offices in UK, ATX, and LA. Chris also worked on creating various test levels for the dev team to use for their own feature testing. Melissa Estrada has been working closely with Chris Bolte to test his newly developed integrated page heap for our Game Dev builds that will allow us to capture more robust crash core dumps for our engineers. These core dumps will provide much more information for an engineer to use when resolving low reproduction crashes, which is a win-win for bug smashing and for improving overall gameplay. Chris Bolte made this process much simpler, so that anyone in QA will be able to provide these core dumps when requested for a specific crash. Melissa also spent time learning and testing Sascha Hoba’s planet editor together with Pascal Muller, in order to formulate a new checklist that will specifically check the planet editor’s core functionality to ensure that it continues to be in working order for our environment artists.
This month the DE Environment team grew by a few people, so the senior staff spent time getting them acquainted to our internal processes. The existing team is primarily focused on procedural planets tasks: defining and creating bespoke ecosystems like canyons and mining pits, improving the blending of the terrain materials to get more detail, and iterating on the tools to make the workflow more efficient. They also worked on various megastructures for a SQ42 level, including modelling, UV mapping and making prefabs out of the components for the designers to place.
Like many other departments, Tech Art spent the month supporting 2.6 as well as S42. The team worked with Designers and updated a large amount of animation for FPS, especially improving select, deselect, and reloads. They updated and re-exported numerous weapons and gadgets to accommodate the new left hand grip pose, which is now functioning using runtime IK. We also completed our new weapon pre-visualization pipeline which enables our modelling department to test their WIP weapons directly in a game, this allows them to quickly review and identify any potential issue a weapon may have.
The engine team has almost too much to post, which is a good thing, so let’s start with the high-level stuff. We made some general improvements on Physics, Shader system, Texture Array Streaming, Animation Ragdoll and Terrain/Ecosystems. One of the tools allowed artists to punch holes into planet terrain for smoother embedding of large mass structures which will come in handy for landing areas. We also switched to a multi-threaded memory allocator which will not only increase efficiency, but unify the use across the engine, game, tools and editor.
We improved the reprojection based occlusion systems by cleaning up the previously existing code and converting it to pure SSE2 SIMD (allows us later to select the best SIMD variant supported on the user’s CPU). While doing so, we also fixed some aliasing problems inside the occlusion code which results in a more stable frame during movement. Then we spent some time doing a massive clean-up of our Zone transition code. Over the time this part had become very complex, but we managed to get the complexity down again which made our zone transitions more stable. Before the update, the client code had to find out if an object had changed zones, which was very fragile. Now the code is explicit, so that all objects change zones as an automatic operation. In addition, this is also synced with physics which should fix (or at least improve a lot) the cases of players being teleported to space when entering/leaving ships.
We also improved our low level memory redirection functionality; we managed to get rid of some layers making the code more understandable. Building on this clean-up, we changed our core system allocators, so far we had used a custom allocator for small allocations and the OS allocator for larger ones. Problem was that this design is several years old. In practice, this means that the OS allocator can now perform small allocations as well as our allocator, but instead of going OS allocator only, we went with JeMalloc. This is the system allocator used by FreeBSD and backed by Facebook. JeMalloc follows a more modern design so that it scales very well with multiple threads, something which is important for us and will be more important as we parallelize more and more code.
We also continued working on our Area system. Areas are a special mark-up used by the game designers to give rooms or areas some specific context. The engine can report when entities enter or leave such an area. We have now extended this system to track the overlapping status of all entities within all areas. To implement this in a way that it works with our massive scale (in number of entities and areas), we moved the old system directly into the zone system, which allows us to reuse spatial information for a much more efficient algorithm.
Over the last month, the FPS weapon artists polished weapons and gadgets for upcoming releases, built prototypes for a whole range of new Kastak Arms guns, and spent some time making modular irons sights for the P8 weapon family. We completed the first pass art for the new re-worked ATT-4 laser rifle, and started the same process for the Arrowhead sniper rifle. The ship weapon team has been blocking out a new range of ship weapons based on the updated Knightbridge Arms manufacturer style which will include a more modular design.
The Level Design team in Frankfurt is hard at work on the locations required for 3.0, this involves building out space station archetypes and satellite variants as well as a few surface outposts. We are also looking into supporting the art team on the larger planetary landing zones, as well as progressing on a modular approach for our locations. Satellites and surface outposts are shaping up nicely and have been passed onto the art team.
This month system design was busy setting up usable records for Squadron 42, which will lay the groundwork for cinematic scenes and player interactions, adding background conversations between AI and in general making AI feel a lot more alive and natural in their environment. At the same time, we worked on finalizing the Mercenary and Bounty Hunter careers for 3.0 and breaking these careers into their component systems. We also made progress on the AI skills and stats system which should allow each AI to have an individual personality, individual needs and wants. Generally based on these skills and stats, an AI will change the priority of their Subsumption behaviors. For example, if an AI is ordered to fix your ship, he might not do that if he needs to go to the toilet or if he is too tired. It will also encourage the players to crew their ships with AI who have a variety of skills for every situation, and set up teams based on how all of these guys complement each other for the task at hand.
We made great progress on AI this past month. At the beginning of the month we completed the first pass on Mission Functions and Mission Callbacks. A mission in Subsumption will first start with an Init function and will end with Uninit to allow designers to both prepare and clean-up their logic. Let’s assume we create a new test mission where we want to spawn Captain White in the Bridge, the Init function will look like this.
Functions for a Mission can either be called by the AI code (like the Init above), or can be dynamically created by designers, and they can be imagined as mission local functions. As you can see in the picture the Captain White character is now stored into the “CaptainWhite” variable, that is the NPC type, which carries information about what the game code can communicate to the Mission System in regards to the element that it stores. An NPC variable can, for example, call back the mission system when the NPC health changes, when the NPC dies, when he gets healed and so on. If we want to react to situations in which the health of Captain White is changed, then we can add a mission callback, as in the following picture.
The more callbacks that are exposed from the game code, the more events a designer can react to and create his own logic. Also the Subsumption Mission system (as Subsumption in general) allows game programmers to define any type in the game code, allowing the system to be easily extended without any need to modify the core code. Callbacks can also be specified as global, for example, we can have specific logic when any NPC dies during a mission. Those are what we call “Global Callbacks”.
For Subsumption, we also made new improvements to the Combat behaviors. Combat is a very different element for the NPC behaviors, since it requires a lot of coordination between the characters and specific analysis. We created a new Combat activity (based on the work we have done in the previous months), so that the designers can utilize it for any case in which a hostile is detected by an NPC character. The first combat reaction is something that happens when an NPC thinks he saw something dangerous: his behavior will change based on how sure he is that the thing he saw is an actual danger for himself. For example, an NPC that see the player at a far distance, won’t react immediately to the threat, he will try to look in the direction of the player and understand if what he sees can be a threat, and if so he can communicate to the other member of his group and then start to attack the enemy. This is the state that allows the player to decide his approach, he is almost detected, but he can still try to hide, approach from a different angle or, for example, try to take down the enemy before he informs his friends.
For combat and non-combat environments we have introduced an “Emotion component” to allow the ability to control facial animations based on the emotion of the NPC. We also worked on improving the animation flows to allow proper blending between states and make sure the characters feel more fluid during the gameplay. We also did some work on ground turrets to make sure that they can easily be controlled by the AI and execute proper behaviors. In addition to all the above, we made progress on improving stability and fixing existing bugs.
For those of you who are new to Star Citizen, Spectrum is an integrated communication platform that includes forum, chat, private messaging, and notifications. Future versions will include additional features like voice chat and in-game overlay.
We were excited to release Spectrum (alpha v.0.1) to members of the Evocati test group. Having the “Avocados” test the communication platform and give feedback to us has been invaluable. We are planning to expand the testing group to include more and more backers, finally culminating in a full release on the site for all backers in the new year.
This past November has been an incredibly busy month when it comes to ships and ship sales. At the end of the month the Anniversary sale was kicked off with the Galactic Tour series, which featured a new manufacturer each day, offering up their ships for sale. During the sale we saw not only older ships making a comeback, but new ships as well, including four new variants, the 85X and the sleek Tevarin dropship, the Prowler! The Anniversary sale was capped off by the return of all manufacturers and ships to the sales floor for a two-day Grand Finale.
That’s it for November, 2016! Watch this space for additional updates, and please continue to check our production reports for the status of Alpha 2.6 and Star Marine. We’re also ending our broadcast year with a holiday livestream later today; tune in to help us bid adieu to 2016!
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Introducing the Caterpillar
First introduced in 2871, Drake Interplanetary’s Caterpillar has long proven to be a reliable, cost-effective multi-role vessel, capable of being outfitted for everything from mercantile operations to combat support. Long hailed as a hard-fought alternative to the ubiquitous Hull series, the Caterpillar is a freighter that doesn’t skimp on weaponry or customization.
The 2946 Caterpillar takes modular to a new extreme, featuring both a fully customizable set of cargo segments and the line’s signature off-center detachable command module. It’s this versatility that endeared it to smaller hauling outfits Whether you are looking for a defensible transport or a spacecraft that can be upgraded piece-by-piece instead of replaced, the Caterpillar is your best choice.
A Controversial Choice?
Ever since the infamous Kesslering Heist of 2903, the Caterpillar has attracted another, more dangerous reputation: getaway vehicle. Although Drake Interplanetary representatives have consistently decried the association of the ships with criminal elements, the latest TSAS Crime Stats suggests a different story. In one of their many surveys, culled from statistics pulled from around the UEE, the Caterpillar is near the top of “ships used in the commission of a crime,” taking part in everything from illegal salvage to smuggling to assaults. It has the dubious distinction as the highest ranked cargo ship on the list, beating out Freelancer, Hull or Starfarer transports.
The Caterpillar’s size allows it to easily transport goods stolen in space and its modularity allows it to carry unusual weapons and ultralight support ships, making it an ideal ‘raid leader,’ but it’s most remarkable quality is how unremarkable it is. Thanks to their affordable price range, Caterpillars are an ideal ship for everyone from independent haulers to part of a fleet, meaning that Caterpillars can be found at every Human port in the galaxy. The fact that they’re so common makes it easy for criminals to hide in plain sight.
Flyable in 2.6
With the latest PU update, the Drake Caterpillar will join the MISC Starfarer and Aegis’ Starfarer Gemini in Star Citizen’s fleet of large multi-crew ships. Intended to form the lead ship in raiding groups, the Caterpillar is a flagship any outlaw or legitimate businessperson can be proud of.
The Caterpillar will remain on sale for one week following the release of Star Citizen Alpha 2.6. Future patches will add additional functionality, including the detachment feature for the Command Module. New upgrades for the Caterpillar’s segments and other mounts will be available in future patches.
Visit the Caterpillar
Definition of Reliable!
Learn more about the Caterpillar with this booklet.
Read the brochure or Download
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Don’t let the utilitarian lines or the vertical silhouette fool you. The Herald is one half pure speed and one half cutting edge high tech computer system, which makes it Drake’s inaugural information runner.
While the Herald looks more like an angry beetle than a sleek racing ship, it’s very, very fast. In fact, Drake has designed a spacecraft that’s almost more engine than ship. Pilots report that running a Herald at full speed is a little like strapping yourself to a thruster. Unlike traditional racers, the Herald values speed over maneuverability because it’s designed to intercept, protect and transport sensitive information as effectively as possible.
While producing a high-tech courier ship might seem unusual for Drake, rest assured the Herald has a place alongside the Caterpillar, Cutlass, Buccaneer and Dragonfly. Although intended for use strictly as a fast data runner ship, the extensive computer systems aboard the Herald are often adapted for darker purposes.
About the Herald
The Drake Herald joins an elite group of fast ships which includes the M50, 350R and Mustang Gamma. QA reports that navigating the Murray Cup map in Arena Commander using the Herald is a true challenge … are you pilot enough?
The Drake Herald will be introduced as flight ready in Star Citizen’s next patch, Alpha 2.6. The Herald will be on sale for one week following the release of patch 2.6 allowing potential couriers to pick up this fast starship. Additional functionality relating to the Herald, including systems related to data and hacking, will be introduced in future Persistent Universe patches.
A booklet from FTL Courier Services, one of the companies proudly using the Herald in the ‘verse, is available below for your enjoyment. Whether you’re interested in picking up a Herald or not, we hope you’ll enjoy this deeper look at the Star Citizen world.
Visit the Herald
Securing Your Communication!
Learn more about the Herald with this FTL brochure.
Read the brochure or Download
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‘Tis The Season!
Happy Holidays, Star Citizens! We’re grateful for the incredible support you’ve given us throughout 2016 and we encourage you to tune in to our annual Holiday Livestream on Friday December 16th at 11:00am PST to help us end the year with a little celebration. We will be playing Star Citizen Alpha 2.6, talking with Chris Roberts and other members of the development team, sharing a new ship design and more.
We are kicking off the final Star Citizen sale of the year with Alpha 2.6 flight ready ships, a brand new concept racer, some limited edition packs, a new t-shirt and a few other choice items! You can even share the love with discount starter packs available in limited numbers every day. Finally, on Boxing Day (December 26) a wide variety of spacecraft (mirroring the final day of the Anniversary Sale) will be available for purchase so backers can end the year with the fleet they want the most!
Welcome new Citizens!
Give the gift of the ‘verse this holiday season! Every day, we’re making a limited number of discount starter packages available to introduce new pilots to our world. A new allotment of Aurora and Mustang starter packages will be available in this space every day through December 26th starting at 11:00 AM PST. And remember: you will never need to buy anything else to enjoy playing Star Citizen.
New Ships in the Verse
The MISC Razor
The MISC Razor is Star Citizen’s final concept ship of 2016. The Razor joins the M50, Mustang Gamma, Mustang Omega and 350R in competing for the Murray Cup. We’ve built the Razor to introduce more diversity into the race mode, which will expand in future patches into the persistent universe. You can check out the information page at the link below, which includes a full-color brochure about this fast new spaceship. The Razor concept will be available through December 26.
View the Razor Post
New Kids on the Block
Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 will introduce a fleet of new spacecraft: the four variants created for this year’s anniversary event, the Vanguard Hoplite, the Drake Herald, the Drake Caterpillar and the luxurious Origin 85X. These ships will be on sale starting today and running through the week following 2.6’s release. You can learn more about the Herald and Caterpillar with special in-universe brochures and other content available through the links below.
Want to build up your fleet? We’ve made a selection of new discount packs available, plus some fan favorites back by popular demand! Whether you want to pick up the original Star Citizen lineup or your own dedicated racing team, there’s something for everyone.
The Drake expansion
Drake Interplanetary’s Caterpillar has long proven to be a reliable, cost-effective multi-role vessel, capable of being outfitted for everything from mercantile operations to combat support. The Caterpillar will premiere in Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 where it will be one of the largest flight-ready ships currently available.
View the Caterpillar Post
The Drake Herald is a dedicated ‘information runner,’ which means that it’s a system of high tech computers attached to massive thrusters. Designed to safely move sensitive data across the vast distances of space, the Herald also has the ability to broadcast and collect information on the spectrum. Herald owners are strongly reminded to only intercept data that belongs to them.
View the Herald Post
Polaris Shirt & Merch Sale
You asked for it, so we made it real! The RSI Polaris t-shirt, originally created as lore for the Polaris corvette brochure, is now available for pre-order! Other 2016 merchandise is available at a special discount; this is your last chance to pick up these designs. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Please note that merchandise will not arrive in time for the Christmas holiday.
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