FOUNDRY 42: UK
The Origin 600i is nearing art completion. The exterior is at final art polish with the turret and access doors now complete. Final polish on the interior focused on the captain’s quarters, cargo room, hub area and dorms to get the ship ready for handover to tech design.
The team has also been working hard on the Hammerhead interior. The corridors, turrets and cargo bay are complete. Meanwhile, work has begun on the bridge, captain’s quarters and lift sections. Also, the Reclaimer is now art complete, and will be featured during March’s episode of Ship Shape.
The team has also been tirelessly working on concept ships. Not much can be said about them without ruining the reveal, but they are progressing really well. The Aegis Vulcan promo images were finished for the sale, and a new contract concept artist was brought on board to keep up with demands for future work.
In February, CIG Audio focused on optimizing and stabilizing code to improve performance for the 3.1 release. Both CPU and memory usage have been reduced, and one of the main initiatives in this area has been Dynamic Media Loading. This is still undergoing some testing internally with Audio QA to ensure nothing falls between the cracks, but if all goes well, it should reduce the memory footprint of audio by more than fifty percent. This is in addition to existing tech, such as streaming, which is already employed.
On the content side, sound design creation and implementation has progressed for rest stops and derelicts, and more sound effects were added to the new ships/vehicles that will be available in the 3.1 release. The Grim HEX and Levski locations’ sound design have undergone additional polish, with music logic and additional content on the way for those areas. Also, human-scale weapons (i.e. guns) received an overhaul, especially where the NPC perspectives are concerned, improving and iterating sonically upon the gameplay experience.
Where Squadron 42 is concerned the team has been in ‘pre-post production’, planning how coverage of cinematic sequences will work when the CIG Audio Team switches ‘modes’ and becomes akin to a sound post house after all the cinematic sequences land. Audio has also been lining up more raw source requirements to provide fresh material; building out the Squadron 42 internal Sound FX library was a big initiative this month. To that end, the team will soon be sourcing props and recording all kinds of ‘wild track’ material, as it’s technically known.
Also noteworthy were some big improvements to dialogue spatialisation and more advanced debugging tools to assist dialogue implementation across the PU and Squadron 42. Debug display is never thought of as particularly glamorous but it is invaluable in helping our teams deliver the best experience possible.
This month, the Graphics Team has been focusing on three main areas: the UI, performance, and gas clouds. The UI Team has been fixing various quality issues with anti-aliasing and render-to-texture resolution to ensure displays are as crisp as possible. They’ve also been making several improvements to the ship targeting displays, adding back older features into the RTT system such as edge-highlighting and electrical interference. On the performance front, some major improvements have been made to the multi-threading within the editor, which in many cases have doubled the frame-rate on complex environments such as the Squadron 42 Idris. For the gas cloud system, the team has been extending it to support multiple gas clouds at once, with the aim of allowing them to be embedded within one another. There has also been work done on debugging tools for gas clouds to help analyze the complex volumetric data sets and understand how the artists are using the system and where memory and performance can be saved.
This month, the UI Team has been working with two teams to bring new features and polish to both ship combat and the PMA/VMA. The UI Visuals Team has focused on polishing up the look of the OwnShip/Target status displays, including adding these to the ship MFD screens and improving the overall visual look of the holoshader and surrounding UI. The team is working closely with the Graphics Team to dial-in shader requirements, which aim to improve the legibility of the holograms themselves, as well as the UI in general when projected upon bright backgrounds. The team has also been working on updating the Combat Markers on Item2.0 ships from the brackets that were present within 3.0 with some new geometry and fresh animations.
Alongside the UI Visual Team, the EU-1 Gameplay Team has had UI involvement with the team focusing on polishing up the VMA and PMA mobiGlas apps. For these two apps, a strong focus has been put on improving the overall user-experience by fixing bugs present in the current iteration, as well as overhauling the mobiGlas layout in general to make more use of screen real estate and breaking the menu layout into a more intuitive structure. On the engineering side, the Star Marine Loadout Customization screen in the Front End has been converted to use the PMA code. This will make fixing issues on this screen much easier, as the PMA replaces the custom code that was previously released.
The Art Team, while primarily supporting these two features, has also spent time fixing issues raised in 3.0 and continued work on Chemline screens for Squadron 42.
Animation has continued to work on the bespoke assets for a wide variety of the supporting cast for Squadron 42, including crewmembers that serve alongside you.
Animation work for the firing and reloading has continued on:
• Gemini R97 ballistic shotgun
• Gemini F55 ballistic light machine gun
• Klaus & Werner Demeco laser light machine gun
• Kastak Arms Scalpel ballistic sniper rifle
Female background exercise sets have been brought up to final quality pass, pending sign off review. Usable animation sets continue to be refined, eliminating bugs and tidying up popping issues on things like cup, plate and tray attachments.
Chakma continues to have his animation assets finalized, and the team has identified the remaining issues that need to be resolved before closing him out for good.
Player mechanics have been worked on for the newly implemented leaning system, allowing lean right and lean left actions in all stances.
Steady progress is being made on object container streaming. The team has been ploughing through the conversion of all the component’s creation routines, so that they can be run on a background thread. To give an indication of how much work is involved there are around 400 of them in total, of which 218 have now been converted, so still some way to go. The streaming can now be turned on, creating everything that is marked as thread safe in the background and everything else on the main thread, so the team can test whether everything is still working as they progress. At this stage it does slow down loading considerably, as it has to wait and switch between the two threads, but that will improve as more components are converted.
Feature Team is prototyping a new lean mechanic for the player, particularly designed for when a player is in cover. Because of the way a lot of the environments are built, the contextual cover system doesn’t always work that well, especially when trying to look around a corner with walls that aren’t straight-edged. Rather than locking players into a cover mechanic, the team is trying out more of a player-driven cover system, where the player is given the ability to manually lean around left and right, giving them more control and response.
A new feature team sprint has been kicked off on the first version of mining. The team is deciding how to setup different types of rocks with their mineral composition, how they will absorb energy, how players can extract the minerals, and break into them.
The team continued to work on animations for a range of scenes and enjoyed working more closely with design. As a result, animations are beginning to appear in-game and the scenes are developing overall. A new technical animator has also been brought on board to help implement more scenes in-game, and will be joining CIG
Testing and refinement of the interior layout tool has continued. The team now has a locked down library of rooms, corridors and hero spaces to use for an initial version of rest stop interiors and art has now begun refinement of these assets to bring them up to a high visual standard. There is now a large range of different layouts artists can pick and choose from to decide which are the best to go into a first iteration of the complete rest stop. While none of said assets are final yet, the tool has proven itself in its ability to produce a great deal of variety, producing close to 200 different layouts from only one layout graph during testing.
Work continued on the utilitarian hangars and refinements made to the rest stop exterior. These elements were brought together in a final location to create the bones of a finished rest stop with design, audio and visual refinement continuing forward.
This month, the VFX
Team made a “flight-ready” pass on three new ships: the Anvil Terrapin, MISC
Razor and Aegis Reclaimer. Also, the Tumbril Cyclone received its VFX
Two new weapons also went through the VFX
pipeline: the Gemini R97 and Preacher Armament Distortion Scattergun. The Apocalypse Arms Scourge Railgun’s impact effects were revisited following a Design requested to more correctly portray the type of damage dealt out by this weapon.
The team also began some initial investigations into VFX
-specific material improvements. They will be working closely with the Graphics and Tech Art departments to create a versatile material template that will provide many cool options for the team. Plans were further fleshed out for the core features the team hopes to move forward with this year, including the previously mentioned signed-distance-field integration, an improved lightning/electricity editor, and location-specific camera-bound VFX
The Facial Team was busy with the remaining face animations for Squadron 42. The next phase will be polishing and improving the animations, once they’re seen in-game. On the PU front, most of the Mission Giver faces have been completed up to an implementation pass and are ready to go in-game for further work.
The first Derby Studio tour occurred at the end of January. Two backers were scanned and should eventually make their way into the game. There were some serious and some NOT so serious scans! Prep work has started for the next tour, which is planned for March 8th and is exclusive to community subscribers. Improvements to the face scanner are being planned too, which should make it quicker and easier to get through a higher number of scans. Also, the scanner will be moved to another area in the studio. This will enable the team to shoot Motion Capture and Head Scan simultaneously.