CitizenCon 2016 included the biggest technological demonstrations that the game has publicly shown to-date, including fully functional procedural generation 2.0 for planets, real-time spring physics, and authoring tools. The technology suite was detailed in two of our recent interviews with Sean Tracy and Chris Roberts, but was overshadowed in some ways by statements given regarding a potential Squadron 42 demonstration for CitizenCon 2016.
Viewers of the stream (or our content) will know that Squadron 42 didn't make it into the live demonstration, already packed with hours of discussion on Spectrum (comms systems), procedural generation, authoring tools, and roadmaps. The demonstration was technologically and graphically impressive, but Squadron 42 was left out for polish and refinement reasons. Roberts indirectly referenced our interview on stage, stating that, “I gave an interview about 3 weeks ago and probably spoke too soon,” but continued that he hoped the planet and tools demonstrations would make up for this.
In our post-event interview, we spoke with CIG CEO Chris Roberts on his thoughts regarding the event, the roadmap for Star Citizen, and Squadron 42's absence. Learn more in the video, or find a transcript below.
Leading into Star Citizen's annual “CitizenCon” event, held today, we received preliminary details from CIG CEO Chris Roberts and Technical Director Sean Tracy, both of whom heavily focused on an unveil of new procedural planets technology. The first interview (with Roberts) covered the top-level overview of procedural planet generation technology, with the third interview (with Tracy) focusing on the driving tools behind the planets.
But CitizenCon 2016 marks the first time we've seen those tools in action, unveiled on stage in front of an audience of more than 600 people live, with more tuned-in to the stream. Our earlier interviews suggested that the first major, complete Squadron 42 mission would be unveiled at CitizenCon alongside this “Planets V2” tech and character technology updates, but the plans changed in the weeks since that discussion. Planets V2 took the spotlight with its Homestead demo, Squadron 42 has been delayed to allow for quality improvement on the single-player demo.
Note: This was written live during the event for immediate publication. We are continuing to live update.
(7:50PM PT 10/9 - We are done live updating. We've added 4K screenshots to this article, all new from tonight. We've got interviews with Chris Roberts, Sean Tracy, and Erin Roberts going live shortly.)
Before getting to further discussion, a recap of the last two weeks:
Cloud Imperium Games has been talking about its 64-bit engine conversion for at least two years now, but we've never had a chance to properly explain the benefit of this move. Following last week's interviews with Chris Roberts (Part 1: Procedural Planets V2, Alpha 3.0 & Part 2: Weather System), we sat down with CIG Technical Director Sean Tracy to learn about CryEngine, the technical inner-workings of procedural planet generation V2, and more.
Tracy sat in on our first meeting with Roberts, and was able to prepare some additional points of depth with notes taken from that meeting. The entire discussion with Tracy ran for about forty minutes. We've split that into two parts:
Part 1, today, is on 64-bit engine technology, world space coordinates, edge blending, and meshes and layers.
Part 2, Wednesday (10/5), is on CPU threading, system resource and load management, character technology, and more CitizenCon info.
Note: You may find our previous discussion on DirectX 12 & Vulkan of interest.
It took us nearly 5000 words to cover the first half of our two-part interview with Cloud Imperium Games CEO Chris Roberts, who joins us now for the second half. In the first part, we dove straight into discussion on Alpha 3.0, plans for unveiling procedural generation V2 at CitizenCon, and Star Marine & Arena Commander A2.6 updates. Roberts' procedural generation plans initially disclosed to GamersNexus in 2014 have mostly been realized, and the team is now working on a second iteration of the internally built Planet Ed[itor] toolset. Much of the new procedural generation technology will be shown at CitizenCon on October 9, but Roberts also teased to us that new character technology would be on demonstration at the event.
This is the second and final half of our interview with Chris Roberts, CIG CEO & Chairman, but not the final interview for our trip. Technical Director Sean Tracy joined GamersNexus to discuss deeper engineering solutions to technological challenges faced by the team, offering some insight to game development that we think our 'regulars' will enjoy from an engineering standpoint. The first half of that content will post on Friday, September 30. The second half will be announced alongside the publication of the first half.
Both interviews – with Roberts and with Tracy – ran about forty minutes in length, and contained a trove of new information related to the title's immediate future. With Tracy, we'll discuss engine architecture, what it actually means to “refactor for 64-bit,” authoring tools, and more.
It's been three years since we first visited the Cloud Imperium Games studios in Santa Monica, though we've conducted a dozen interviews with CIG CEO Chris Roberts in the time since. Now, taking a victory lap through Southern California's hardware manufacturers, we stopped over at CIG's offices for a second in-person visit.
A lot has changed. The studio, for one, is now in a new location that's farther from the Santa Monica beach, but in a larger space. The team has grown significantly in both organization and team size, and challenges faced, and Roberts has adjusted his interview technique just enough to ease off on providing release dates.
Our latest visit had us focusing on the new planetary procedural generation tech, version 2.0, the predecessor for which we originally detailed two full years ago. Roberts talked us through the start-to-finish plans for CitizenCon's presentations, additional Alpha 3.0 launch details, Star Marine, procedural generation, character tech, and engine refactoring in a forty-minute interview. We've split the interview into two parts, the second of which will go live on Monday (September 26). Our time spent in the office was doubled to accommodate a second interview with Technical Director Sean Tracy, responsible for answering our deeper hardware and software engineering questions. That content will go live next week, after the first two parts of the interview with Chris Roberts.
For our average multiple interviews per year with Chris Roberts and team, this year has been a quiet one. The team's been keeping their heads down while working on finalizing Squadron 42, the single-player release of Star Citizen, for a major release this year. Version 2.5 and 2.6 of the Star Citizen client will soon be released – a matter of days for 2.5, in theory – but that hasn't stopped CIG CEO Chris Roberts from detailing plans for 3.0 while at Gamescom 2016.
The Gamescom event primarily covered procedural planet technology. This is a topic we discussed with Roberts back in 2014, who stated the following when asked for CIG's definition of procedural generation:
Industry luminary Warren Spector helmed the keynote at the East Coast Game Conference yesterday in Raleigh. Readers of our Star Citizen (Chris Roberts) and Shroud of the Avatar (Richard Garriott) content are already familiar with Origin, the studio responsible for effectively inventing MMOs, early game graphics technologies, and pioneering PC mechanics. Spector was employee number twenty-six at Origin Systems – a self-described “old-timer” when compared against the studio's maximum 350 employee count – and has a history developing seminal games.
Spector worked at Origin with Richard Garriott, Chris Roberts, Dallas Snell, Starr Long, and other recognized industry veterans. In our interview with Warren Spector, we talk about what it was like working at Origin, behind-the-scenes stories, and throw-in a brief question about System Shock 3.
Our most recent interview with Cloud Imperium Games' Chris Roberts became a two-parter, following an initial discussion on DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs. Part two dives deeper into the render pipeline, network and render optimization, zoning, data organization, and other low-level topics relating to Star Citizen. A lot of that content strays from direct Star Citizen discussion, but covers the underlying framework and “behind-the-scenes” development operations.
Previous encounters with Roberts have seen us discussing the game's zoning & instancing plans in great depth; since then, the Roberts has brought-up the system numerous times, expressing similar excitement each time. It is clear to us that the zoning and instancing architecture have required a clever approach to problem solving, evidenced to us by a previous pre-interview conversation with the CIG CEO. In a pre-shoot talk, Roberts told us that he “loves engineering problems,” and had considered the instancing system to be one of the larger engineering challenges facing Star Citizen. The topic of instancing was again revisited in this sit-down, though at a lower, more technical level.
We were recently joined by Cloud Imperium Games' Chris Roberts, known best for space sim Star Citizen, to discuss DirectX 12, Vulkan (OpenGL Next), and game engine pipelines. This content has been split into two pieces: This content and the second video & article, which will discuss game engine architecture and engineering solutions to development problems. The second piece will go live on Friday this week.
A truncated video can be found below. The remainder of the discussion goes live alongside the Friday content. Note that, unlike most our previous interviews with Roberts, this was conducted over Skype – that means occasional connectivity problems and reduced overall video quality, but the content is still strong. Highlights are in the below editorial content.
Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen has several planned differentiators when it comes to space sims. One of the most noteworthy is the promise of ships manned by multiple crew members, expected to be released as a separate “multi-crew module” in the near-ish future. Pilots, co-pilots, gunners, engineers, and other roles will all need to be filled to create a co-operative, team-intensive gameplay experience; it's an ambitious goal, but one that CIG's Chris Roberts feels confident can be achieved.
Our recent trip to CIG's Santa Monica offices already yielded a progress update on the game's “Star Marine” FPS module, addressing concerns of delays, and now we're back with multi-crew. CIG CEO Chris Roberts joined us to discuss multi-crew combat, game engine technology, technical challenges faced with zoning and instancing, and more.
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