This week's episode of Ask GN (previous here) delves into reader questions pertaining to initial DirectX 12 performance, Star Citizen CPU thread allocation, “weird” computer issues, and more. Timestamps and video are below.

Star Citizen is an interesting one, and we'd recommend this interview with Chris Roberts as a follow-up for more depth. CPU thread allocation is currently heavy on the third thread/core right now, Star Citizen being in development, but the game hopes to utilize as many threads as it's assigned. Eventually, anyway. CryEngine is technically capable of spawning 8 threads and could utilize hyperthreaded CPUs and 8-core AMD CPUs, if games were built to distribute load in such a fashion. Learn more about that here.

Art asset creation was one of our key points of discussion at GDC 2016. Speaking with CryEngine, we revealed some of the particle effects and computational fluid simulation performed at the engine-level – stuff that really drives games we play in the visuals department. Textures and “painted” objects are also a critical point for discussion, an aspect of game art that software tools creator Allegorithmic is intimately familiar with. Allegorithmic's “Substance” software tools are distributed to and used by major triple-A studios, including Activision's Call of Duty teams, Naughty Dog (Uncharted 4), Redstorm (Rainbow Six: Siege), and more.

In this behind-the-scenes discussion on game creation, we talk GPU resource limitations, physically-based rendering, and define different types of “maps” (what are normal, specular, diffuse maps?). For a previous discussion on PBR (“What is Physically-Based Rendering?”), check out last year's Crytek interview; PBR, for point of reference, is being used almost everywhere these days – but got major attention with its Star Citizen integration.

Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen achieved a major milestone with the distribution of its Alpha 2.0 package, allowing multiplayer exploration in addition to existing dog-fighting and free flight. This release gives players the first glimpse of the game's open world intentions, presenting environments forged in Sci-Fi influence.

There's not much in the way of gameplay just yet, but Alpha 2.0 has been made available to all backers for initial bug- and stress-testing. We decided to conduct a test of our own, specifically looking at GPU performance and preset scaling across multiple “game modes.” Right now, because the pre-release game is comprised of several disjointed modules, there's no one “Play Star Citizen” button – it's split into parts. Racing, free flight, and dog-fighting are in one module (Arena Commander), the Hangar stands alone, and online testing with ArcCorp and Crusader were just released.

For our Star Citizen video card benchmark, we look at GPU vs. GPU performance in the race, delta performance scaling on ArcCorp and in the hangar or free flight, and talk methodology. The game isn't done and has yet to undergo performance optimizations and official driver support, so we won't be recommending the usual “best graphics cards for [game]” this time, as we usually do in our game benchmarks.

Big news for Star Citizen fans: Alpha 2.0 is now available to all backers. This announcement comes on the heels of Star Citizen hitting a massive checkpoint, with Cloud Imperium Games now exceeding $100 million in crowdfunding. There are now more than one million backers -- or “citizens” -- and this CIG the Guinness World Record for “most crowd-funded project,” and game, in the world.

CIG CEO Chris Roberts said of Alpha 2.0, “it represents the first true slice of gameplay that includes much of what Star Citizen will bring to our fans.” This update will give backers many of the features Roberts has spent the last year toting.

Ongoing space-sim development project Star Citizen has received its latest trailer, teasing live gameplay footage from its Alpha 2.0 release. The Alpha 2.0 version is currently only available to a select group of backers; GamersNexus expects to have access in the near future, at which time our team will begin analysis, benchmarking, and gameplay capture.

Lieutenant Commander Steve “Old Man” Colton seems a fitting name for the role assumed by Mark Hamill, best known as Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies. That name, alongside some behind-the-scenes footage of the actor's performance capture, were both released today by Cloud Imperium Games and the Squadron 42 team. To catch up on previous developments for the SQ42 universe, check out our post detailing Star Citizen's Alpha 2.0 and Hollywood cast.

Performance capture is a mix of motion capture, which uses unflattering body suits and sensors to map human movement to digital coordinates, and acting. The Squadron 42 team decided to forgo more traditional games industry “mocap” in favor of voiced acting with 3D coordinate mapping, allowing professional actors – Mark Hamill and Gary Oldman included – to really dig into the material. Across the games industry, it's popular for captured actors to quip about the tight-fitting suits worn, and Hamill's now part of that group.

The video game industry's news output is churning in full capacity as November nears. Our contacts and colleagues in the industry are almost ubiquitously undergoing crunch right now, working longer hours to finalize that last bit of content before “going Gold.” That means a lot of news, so we've decided to start rounding-up weekly game news at the end of the week.

This week, the items to watch have been No Man's Sky for its “I've Seen Things” trailer (and release date), Star Citizen for an updated flight model, GOG's introduction of ancient RPGs to its service, Overwatch beta, and Fallout 4's mod support.

Full news coverage in the video, though I've also posted the script below:

CitizenCon 2015, the fan event dedicated to Cloud Imperium Games' Star Citizen, today opened with an emotional speech from VP of Marketing Sandi Gardiner. The team then moved on to an upbeat “How Did We Get Here?” video, showing the ramping progression of the Cloud Imperium Games teams and events. The studio is now a global icon within the games industry, employing 270 staff across its Austin, Santa Monica, London, Montreal, and Frankfurt offices.

CIG CEO Chris Roberts went on to disclose, deploying between-the-lines commentary on recent events, that the CIG team has only increased in development staff, including an increase from 260 to 270 staff in the past two months alone.

Introductory content aside, today's presentation swiftly moved to a focus on content reveals.

Our definitive coverage of the latest CitizenCon event, hosted by Cloud Imperium Games at the Manchester Airport, dives into the A-list cast for Squadron 42, multi-crew ship demonstrations, and underlying technology.

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.

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