Przez Game Armada
Best Laid Plans
Hey there, folks. It’s me, Old Jegger, calling out across the void. Glad this installment of Far From Home has found you. Here’s to hoping I can provide you some companionship on your journey. Heck, maybe even a smile or two. Those looking for wisdom might be disappointed. Sure, my life has been a crazy trip with more twists and turns than the Defford raceway, and a lot of it I only weathered by white-knuckling life’s flight stick and not letting go. Still haven’t figured out if that makes me ‘wise’ or not. But you know, with everything I’ve been through, it definitely makes me lucky to have survived.
Shana and I are currently in the outer edges of the Charon system, waiting for an old friend. We’re gonna keep them company on a run and reminisce a bit. It sure is a sight out here. Most folks just consider Charon IV a regular ol’ ice giant, but she’s got a special place in my heart. Starlight reflects off her in a way that’s always stayed with me. Glad I made it back here to see her again.
Normally, this is where I answer some questions commed to me, but I was reading through a few and got a bit overwhelmed. If I’m being honest, many of y’all are asking for advice that I can’t provide. Either ‘cause the subject is outta my league or something I don’t feel right weighing in on, and I’m too old to start pretending otherwise.
Guess this is the long way of explaining why I picked the question I did for this show. Among the various inquiries about how to mentally prepare yourself for life on the drift, or pointers on how to avoid grief from unruly types, there seemed to be one simple question at the heart of those being sent my way… why?
As in, why in the hell did I decide to live my life like this. Drifting all alone amidst the vast expanse without anyone but myself, minimal supplies, and Shana. It sure as hell isn’t the life I planned, but I learned a long time ago that you don’t plan for your future, you prepare for it. That might sound the same but trust me, there’s a difference. Planning is aspirational. It’s what you want to happen. But preparing is practical. It’s what’s left of your plans when life knocks you off course, which has happened to me more than I’d like to admit.
This might surprise some of you, but I once lived in Charon. Built a little homestead on Charon III with the plan of putting down some roots. I’d been wandering ever since I left Vann and was ready to return to solid ground and enjoy a nice quiet life.
I found a spot in the Dellin desert that was desolate but beautiful. It was by a small oasis, which sounds more impressive than it actually was. Let’s just say the water was way too salty to drink and not even deep enough to drown if you passed out drunk in it. A few other folks lived nearby. Close enough to create a sense of community but not get in each other’s way. I hadn’t really experienced anything like it before, and I… well, I began to understand the appeal.
I fixed things for my neighbors and developed a reputation that had folks from other parts seeking me out. I even entertained the thought of opening my own repair shop. After growing up in one and watching all the stress slowly drain the life out of my ma, I had always told myself I wouldn’t live that way, but for the first time the idea didn’t seem like such a bad one. Funny how I left home all those years ago searching for something different and somehow ended up in a place that felt familiar. A strange feeling to be sure. That itch to escape had faded and I had begun planning a future for myself that I would never have believed possible.
Then a terrible drought hit Dellin. I knew they occurred from time to time, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Didn’t take long before the oasis evaporated, leaving nothing but a salt flat in its wake. Some folks picked up and left right then and there. They were the smart ones. Leave it to Old Jegger to learn his lessons the hard way.
Water became particularly hard to come by. A hauler hired to bring in regular shipments was ambushed by some desperate folks and the pilot killed. After that no one was willing to make the delivery, at least not at a cost we could afford. Lacking any other options, I began making water runs myself. First I went to Acheron but the second someone got wind I was from Dellin the price doubled. Bastards knew the terrible situation we were in but didn’t give a damn if it meant they could squeeze a few extra creds outta it.
Soon I was making runs out of system to load up on food and water. The experience provided quite the crash course on how to run your ship sigs low enough to not attract attention. Folks desperate for supplies are willing to do just about anything. It wasn’t long before I was spending more time in my ship than at the homestead. Soon, I was justifying extending my hauling runs even further out just so I wouldn’t have to return to Dellin quite so soon. And when I was home, I was missing the drift something fierce. Wasn’t long before I had to admit to myself that the old itch had come back worse than ever.
I chewed on the decision over my next few runs. Returning to my wandering ways wasn’t so easy. People depended on me, and I wasn’t so sure what they would do if I left. Finally, I made up an excuse for Langston, one of the remaining residents, to join me on a run. Didn’t take long for him to figure out that I was showing him the ropes. When we got back I broke the news to everyone else. They didn’t give me no grief and thanked me for all I’d done. They even threw me a little going away shindig. That only made me like ‘em more.
I hadn’t been back until this trip. I kept telling myself that it’d be too dangerous, what with the terrible war between Dellin and Acheron still raging. Deep down I was also worried that going back might stir up thoughts about settling down. The trip definitely triggered some strong emotions but none of ‘em had me questioning my decision.
My old homestead’s still there, barely, but all my old neighbors were long gone. Not too surprising. The water’s still all dried up and the ground as salty as a Snaggle Stick. It was good to be back, but I’m glad it’s not my home no more.
Guess that was the long way of saying that the reason why I live the way I do is because it’s complicated. It’s partly because I’m just a restless soul who prefers his own company, and partly because life pushed me that way. This life isn’t for everyone but it’s definitely the right one for me.
[ Beeping ]
Damn, has it been that long already? Sitting here, recollecting the past and enjoying a slow drift by Charon IV has sure been fun, but it’s time to move on. There’s still so much out there for me to see.
This is Old Jegger, signing off.
Przez Game Armada
Every week, designers, engineers and other developers from our five offices around the world answer backer questions submitted on SPECTRUM and voted on by YOU.
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Przez Game Armada
Squadron 42 Monthly Report: September 2018
This is a cross-post of the report that was recently sent out via the monthly Squadron 42 newsletter. We’re publishing this a second time as a Comm-Link to make it easier for the community to reference back to, and plan on following this process for future Squadron 42 Monthly Reports.
As the development of Squadron 42 thunders on, the brain trust at UEE Naval High Command has retooled their dispatches.
We aim to bring you the most significant and comprehensive project updates available. However, particularly sensitive details will remain under wraps to avoid unnecessary leaks to the civilian community.
Read on for a look into the work done on Squadron 42 during September and keep a weather eye open on this channel for future briefings.
CitizenCon 2948 saw the first look at the latest Squadron 42 trailer. If you missed it, or want to check it out again, you’ll find the full 4K version on the official Star Citizen YouTube channel.
The Cinematics Team split their time this month between creating content and advancing tech and tools. They had several meetings about where to fit PCAP to reworked props and where to change geometry to fit the specific shot performances; in particular, where to place the Idris and Bengal’s captain’s chairs.
They modified and completed several Trackview master sequences featuring newly-edited PCAP, including camera and lighting. The completed sequences essentially show a conversation or first-person cinematic and all of its branches in a linear fashion. The animators then use these to iterate on pose-matching, while the level designers use them as the blueprint for how the scene will play out once it’s scripted via AI logic.
On the tech side, they worked with tool engineers to improve the navspline for puppeteering ships. The spline now features better ghost vehicle rendering too, allowing its control points to be manipulated as editor objects. General work on the usability of the spline is continuing with numerous improvements. The team also revamped the ability to trigger weapon and turret fire on ships.
A collaboration with the tech teams featured example scenes that contain performances by real-life actors. As the actors were directing their performance to a specific point, the goal is now to guide the player towards that spot via UI. The first tests look promising.
The Actor Team made a lot of small improvements to how first-person gameplay feels, such as speeding up weapon swapping, tweaking ADS aiming when moving, and adjusting weapon sway. They also revisited and fixed issues with the jump mechanic before undertaking a more detailed pass using the new time-warping tech to clean up the assets. Progress continues with the Usable Editor Tool, which enables the team to create and amend new usables directly in the editor and simplify the current process.
The new Walk and Talk prototype is making progress, with two characters now walking together while having a believable and dynamic conversation. The EU Gameplay Team has been supporting the cinematics group, fixing issues they’ve been having when creating cutscenes.
The team worked along-side Tech Animation to test the Vanduul facial rig. They also ran the first set of reviews for the new Facial Animation Quality Benchmark, with the goal of establishing a gold-standard for facial performance in a triple-A game.
September was a particularly exciting month as the Story Team implemented more scenes than ever before. The aim for Q3 began with around 10, but they managed to get 23 working in-game to a high standard. They also gave more thought to the lighting and positioning of scenes within levels, which has led to considerable improvements to their visual appearance.
The Graphics Team worked on several new features as part of ongoing space-crafting improvements. This included adding shadows onto and from gas clouds (with a 75% memory saving), the addition of turbulence and interference when near dense regions of cloud, and a new GPU spline based lightning system. On top of this, they also improved reflections from water and added tessellation to the organic shader, which is mainly used for rocks and terrain.
The team is operating at full capacity, with a heavy focus on scene implementation and usables. Making all the locations of the game feel realistic and believable (particularly the way the AI interact and move around on their various schedules) is always a top priority.
All chapters of the game have a single design owner and several support designers who can work on them simultaneously. The numerous feature teams all have S42 technical priorities on their backlogs and have a steady stream of technology and workflow improvements coming in on a weekly basis.
The Props Team shifted priorities slightly this month to focus on getting their templates updated to work with the new usable systems, with the aim to make it easier to scale functionality out across the game.
Work has progressed on junk and scrap piles, with the whitebox assets getting a material pass. The original simpods have been brought up to scratch, staying true to the original concept but being reworked using the custom normal workflow. They were also converted to work with the most current shaders. Finally, the team has been going through the cinematic scenes and have started work on the props with performance capture associated with them.
The Ship Art Team paused for a couple weeks on Persistent Universe work to take care of some pilot-fitting issues on a prominent S42 campaign ship. They raised the pilot position up and refined the interior geo a bit more. Now that it’s done, they’re back in full swing on the 300i grey-box for the PU.
The Motion Capture Team has been reconfiguring their whole rig to trigger capture on every platform over TCP/IP: reference, facial & body. This made it much easier to match and manage the resulting datasets and has improved workflow across the board.
They put it to the test on a recent shoot in Manchester and worked to implement much of the resulting animation. They have also been refining the pipelines in which they process the data sets from motion capture and bring them together as a whole in their animation DCC of choice, Maya.
Female animation received baseline processing, with retargeting of the core reference databases and basic animation done to make the refinement pass as easy as possible.
They also worked on multiple fixes for the usable system and supported the Combat AI Team with new weapon setups for left-handed combat.
Lastly, the team has been developing the facial rigging pipeline and skinning toolsets, with the Vanduul as the central focus of development.
While UI predominantly provided support for new features in the PU, they also supported various environmental needs for Squadron 42, such as ambient displays in the background of scenes and locations.
This month, the team focused heavily on a variety of feature improvements, including significantly upgraded lightning effects. This doesn’t just refer to how it looks, but how it can be dynamically controlled and how it interacts with the player. This was all done in close collaboration with the Art and Design teams.
They also worked on various cinematics, as well as several in-game cutscenes. Some have been challenging to work on as they flesh out unique environments and situations that haven’t been seen before in a video game.
The Weapon Art Team finished production on the Kastak Arms Sawtooth knife.
WE’LL SEE YOU NEXT MONTH…