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Around the Verse Episode 38


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Published on Apr 2, 2015

Star Citizen - On our 38th episode we have an interview with Senior Engine Programmer James Wright and a new segment for Subscribers!

01:05 - Intro/News
03:45 - News from Around the Verse
14:40 - Subscribers Corner
15:50 - James Wright Interview
25:35 - Sandi's Flight School
32:20 - Outro
33:50 - Sneak Peek


@GeraldEvans will have some notes in a bit - but also see these copied notes --->>

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Empire Report:

  • Jump point for ransom: Has a new JP to SOL been discovered? Yes says one explorer, but will the UEE pay for information?
  • Study: Children raised entirely in space may have an advantage. But is it cruel?
  • Is a fan favorite show returning to the spectrum? We find out why the answer may be Yes, yes, and yes.



Sandi and Ben Welcome us. They hope we enjoyed the April Fool's joke but now so long and thanks for all the fish.

The Vanguard concept has been released.

SC hit $77mil in funding.

The team is working on 1.1a: It will include the Gladiator as a new flyable ship.

Record numbers of new backers this month.

The weekly Meet the Dev series is changing to something more intimate than just five questions.


News from Around the 'Verse:

CIG - Santa Monica: Darian and Lisa (the new production coordinator)

  • The Gladiator is being made flight ready by Kurt
  • We're working on the torpedoes for the Gladiator designed by Patick
  • Working on something called Pirate Swarm using UEE ships instead of just Vanduul Swarm

Illfonic: Travis and Creative director at Illfonic

  • New design director from CryTek is now working on things at Denver
  • Overseeing the FPS and coming up with new tweaks and helping everthing FPS fit into the PU and into S42.
  • They're playing with the Astro Arena level and a mode called sada-ball which is like 3D soccer with guns.
  • The aim is to move a ball using the push pull mechanic and tossing the ball at the right angles (it's an eva-trainer disguised as a game) and should be really fun.
  • It teaches how to move deliberately and accurately without thrusters.

CIG - Austin: Jake Ross (assoc prod for PU) and Andrew (physics and gameplay programmer)

  • Montreal is working on the Nyx landing zone - it's now in greybox
  • Lots or piratey activity!
  • Andrew is working on the mining occupation.
  • The core tech for the occupation is being designed alongside the ships.
  • Cargo operator is working, asteroid fragments get pulled into the hold
  • Scan operator firing missiles(?) at a particular location.

Foundry 42: Pete and Dan (junior environmental artists)

  • Working on Shubin interior and the art assets.
  • They started with a broad pass for design on a specific area
  • That goes to a modular layout to recreate the space in pieces.
  • They eneded up needing to make a large set, a small set, and a set that is just right.
  • Evertyhing has to be able to be plugged in to programmed sizes so that it all fits together.
  • They don't have any textures or shaders yet, but after that it goes to final art for shader application
  • The pipeline for a location is the same as for a ship.
  • Dan is working on the large room ret, less detailed, Pete is working on the high detail small room that can actually snap into the large-room set to make rooms within rooms.

Subscribers Corner with Alexis (subscribers administrator)

  • A lot of REC has been added to cover Test Pilot and Advanced Test Pilot badges
  • Also they've made sure Imperators can rent the variants you were promised like the Super Hornet.
  • The Scythe will be added once it's flyable.
  • Year Three perks will be up today.
  • Let her know on the forum what you'd like to see in this segment.

Ryan Archer interviews James Wright (Sr Game Engine Programmer) at Austin.

  • What do you do here? I work on the core technology and the backend of CryEngine. I'm heading up the large world effort going from environments that are 16km on an edge and going to maps that are millions of kilometers.
  • What's been some of the challenges there? It's different taking an engine that does certain things well and solving new problems with it like the Large world, instead of starting from scratch to build something from the ground up.
  • Have you enjoyed working with CryEngine? It's been fun but you can tell that it has supported different projects and features and adding new features is part of what I'm here for.
  • We've added some guys from Frankfurt who worked for CryTek. Have you started working with them much?  We work with them a lot. In fact the large-world effort is now based out of Frankfurt. It used to be me an another engineer, but now we have a whole group of guys and we're getting close to do. They have a lot of rendering expertise that help us make the changes we need to with the physics.
  • They have to reprogram CryEngine? No, but shift things. Like shifting how transforms propogate through the pipeline and how they're handled given that we work in camera relative space. Having Carsten on board is a huge asset.
  • We've grabbed a lot of talented people who have moved on. Do you feel we've gotten people because they're proud of this project? I think we've gotten a lot of new talent because it's a really interesting problem. It's not another turn-based MMO where the problem is scaling. We're doing a high-fidelity massive online game.
  • Coming from SXSW it was great seeing people who hadn't seen this level of detail in a game before be exposed to Star Citizen.  It's fun being a part of pushing the limits and part of our goal is to look good on a 4K monitor. And it's fun scaling across a range of hardware, and working one the things we promised in the game: Capital ships fighting in zero-gravity but local physics and local gravity on board the ship. You can't do that unless you build tech just to support that.
  • What is the thing you're most excited about with the PU? In other sandbox games there are simple rules creating emergent experiences. I want a true PU where you can get in a fight with pirates or make a friend that will help you complete a mission. The simple rule set will help us make a living and breathing environment.
  • Are you proud of the work you've put in?  Yeah.  A lot of the groundwork has been laid but I'm really proud of the efforts like taking an engine that was never intended to support large-world environments. We didn't do the naive "Okay it's all 64bit!" It was directed and targeted change to do that and not have performance differences between this and 32bit. We've set up our designers with an API where mistakes don't keep things from compiling. As an engine programmer you want to create a language that others can use to express themselves. I'm making pigments that painters can use to cover a canvas.
  • Thanks for helping SC become a reality. The fans are grateful that you're helping to make it possible.  Thank you. Without the backers like you they couldn't handle specialists like myself.

Sandi's Flight School: Jared (Disco Lando) takes Sandi to Flight Club

Rule 1: We don't talk about Flight Club.

Rule 2: Do not talk about Flight Club.

Rule 3: Because it's you're first night, you have to flight.


(Flying an Aurora in VS for three waves)

DL: Today you're flying on a special account called Better Than Ben

Sandi takes out the waves with little damage.

That's the segment.


Tomorrow is the last day of Gladius Free Flight, let us know in the forums what you want next.

The monthly report is due tomorrow.

Watch the comm-link for 1.1a. Not sure if it will be this week or next week. When it's ready.

We want you to submit 30 seconds shots of your dogfighting prowess for us to use as bumpers. Do so here.

AtV is moving to noon Pacific.



Sneak Peek: The Starfarer kitchen!!

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Starfarer galley in the sneak peek?

Yep - per RTV - sneak peak was Starfarer... 


++ Here is some copied notes..... (( In Spoiler ))








– Has a new jump-point to Sol been discovered?  Is it real, will the UEE pay?

– A new study says children raised in space may have an advantage

– Is the Specturm show returning?


– April Fools fish were very fishy.

– The Vanguard concept has been released.  It’s very WWII twin-engine fighter, so it’s the first ship on that vein, and they’re very proud.

– 77 million $ – Thank you Vanguard, and thank you backers.

– After SXSW and PAX East, lots of new backers are joining, which is great.

– 1.1a is being worked on.  It’s not just a minor addition – Gladiator will be worked on, lots of work on the server backend.  Tutorial mode should make it in for 1.1b

– Lots of new backers are meaning petabites of data are being downloaded (according to Dev Ops).  People playing AC in droves.

– Changing the Meet the Devs series – wants to be a more intimate conversation with the devs.  First with the new design is the Meet the Devs with Gurmukh



Santa Monica with Darian Vorlick and Lisa …ohainian? (I’m sorry)- new Production coordinator

– Two updates about the Gladiator – it’s being made Flight Ready – test animations being done.  Working on the torpedoes for the Gladiator – new class of projectile.

– Something brewing called Pirate Swarm – a new game mode where you get to fly against pirates instead of Vanduul.  Pirates are using hornets, mustangs, etc…

Denver with Kedhrin Gonzalez and Travis Day

– New design director from Crytek and God of War, overseeing design of the FPS, coming up with tweaks and such.  Building not just FPS and AC modules, but PU and SQ42, so lots of considerations for FPS have to be considered for everything else as well.

– The way gun animations work, spread, rate of fire, things like that.  Making everything flow together really well.

– Playing around with the Astro Arena level – a new mode called Sata Ball – an EVA anti-grav soccer.  With shooting.  3D soccer with shooting.  More info on this new mode soon.

– It’s a fun sporting event, but it helps teach the 0g situations that’ll exist in the PU.

Austin with Jake Ross and Andrew Win – Physics and Gameplay programmer.

– Austin and Behaviour – Behaviour are working on Nyx – Levsky landing zone.  They’re in greybox with that.  Nailed down the design, fleshing out details now.

– Andrew is working on the mining occupation prototype.  Some of the core tech for the occupation’s being developed while it’s being designed.

– Right now, the cargo operator job works, there’s a mockup of the exploding asteroid fragments, and you can play as the cargo operator trying to slow down and pull in the fragments.  Also the scan operator, manually firing scanning missiles – point of view missile that can be guided by wire.

UK with Pete and Dan – Junior environment artists.

– Shubin Interior – building assets for the interior of Shubin.

– Starts with design doing a broad pass, then they design sets – large room sets, small room sets, halways, etc… So they’re creating modular sets.  So, all doors are in the same location, so it’s easier to click things together.

– Right now, they’re working on getting the mesh working, in greybox, no textures etc… once that’s done, they’ll start adding in shaders and such.  The areas have the same pipeline as ships – really high resolution details on areas.

– Currently working on a large room and a small room.  Large room set is less detailed, but its meant for things like Hangars.  Smaller set has more high-frequency details – corridors, small rooms, tight spaces and such.  Small rooms can be placed into larger room, to have small rooms in big rooms.  Everything snaps together really well.



– Segment is intended to give subscribers a special voice on AtV.

– Subscribers were given a whole bunch of REC recently.  Intended to cover test badges.

– Imperators have access to the ‘unique’ ships they were promised.  Vanduul will be accessible once the ship is flyable.

– Year 3 subscriber rewards will be released later today.

– They’ve started a thread in the subscribers den where questions for the subscribers corner can be asked.



What is it you do here at CIG?

I’m a senior game engine programmer, which is, game engine in its traditional sense.

So you work a lot with the backend of CryEngine?

Yeah, kind of down in the guts of CryEngine, I’ve been involved in heading up our ‘large world’ effort – taking an FPS engine that supports maps that are 16km on an edge, and making it support maps that are millions of km, which has been an ongoing effort for us.

What are some of the challenges of that?

Some of the challenges are…it’s different, taking an established engine and adapting it to solve a new problem.  It’s different than if you were starting from scratch.  You’re working with trying to decide the best solution based on the technology that’s already there.

Cause you’re working on something that’s already been built, so you have to learn what they’ve done.

It kind of shapes the direction of which decisions you make.

So have you enjoyed working with cryengine?  I know it can be strong, because of the details we can get, but i know it’s frustrating because it crashes a lot.

It’s been an interesting experience.  Any time you wander into a huge code base that lots of great games have been made with an engine, you can tell that it’s changed over time, there’s different projects and different features.  That’s my job, being able to take an existing engine and add features and make it able to do things no-one thought it’d have to do when it was first created.

Absolutely.  So we’ve added a lot of guys from Frankfurt, guys who used to work for CryTek, have you had a chance to work with them yet?

Actually we’ve been starting to work together a lot.  The Large World effort is now being run out of frankfurt.  It was primarily me and another engineer for a lot of the work, and now we have a huge group of guys.  We’re getting close to done, but it’s especially good to have the hands-on rendering expertise on the CryEnginerendering, because there’s a lot of changes that have to happen with the renderer, and also physics.

So they kind of have to reprogram CryEngine to help with it or?

Not reprogram, but shift things.  Like, lets say you’re shipping on a previous generation of consoles, and you make an optimization decision on how transforms propagate through the rendering platform.  For our title, that decision basically won’t work, because of the way we’re doing things, so now you need to change how transforms are handled, when you move to a more relative space for camera rendering, for example.  Someone having that intimate knowledge of how the renderer works, who’s been through it and knows some of the pitfalls, it’s huge having those folks with us.

Yeah, it’s amazing the kind of talented people we’ve grabbed from companies as they’ve kind of moved on in their careers.  I was talking to Jason Hutchins from Blizzard, and it  just seems like we’ve got a lot of talented people who’ve joined because they’re proud of this project.

Yeah, i think it’s, we’ve pulled a lot of really good talent, in that it’s an interesting problem.  It’s not another turn-based MMO, or the challenges might exist in scaling on the back-end server, but as far as real-time simulation, it’s just not that hard.  We’re doing a high-fidelity, massive online game.

Yeah, we just did SXSW, and a lot of people I talked to that hadn’t seen the game were really impressed by the amount of detail our graphics get to.  It’s, I haven’t seen anything quite like it yet, so.

Yeah, and it’s fun being a part of pushing the limits.  And that’s part of our goal, to look good on a 4k monitor. If you rewound yourself 3 years and said that to someone working on a console title that, they’d look at you like you’re crazy.  It’s cool to have that kind of spec, and the fun part of being a PC title is the challenge of scaling across a range of hardware.  We’re really just starting to scratch the surface on the kind of work we have to scale well, and it’s tech we have to build to be able to do what we said we’d do, to have capital ships fighting with each other while groups board, and you have local physics sim on the capital ships with local gravity, and you have two capital ships duking it out with a bunch of fighters going around and, you can’t do that unless you build tech to support that kind of scaling.  As an engine programmer it’s kind of exciting.

So what’s the one thing you feel like you’re most excited about for the future of the PU?

It goes back to what I was just saying.  You look at sandbox games, where you have this kind of simple rules that create really interesting immersion experiences, I’m interested in having a true persistent universe that you can go out in, and end up in a fight with pirates or have a new buddy who’s going to help you complete some mission.  The idea of the simple ruleset in the economics simulation that’s going to help create this living breathing thing, I’m really excited for that.

Yeah, it sounds really exciting, and as you explain I realize how ever piece of making something like that is important.  Is that something you’re proud of so far, the work you’ve put in?

Yeah, and a lot of the ground-work has been laid, and a lot will be run out of Frankfurt now, but I’m excited to help chip in on those efforts.  A big part of getting us to where we are now, I’m really proud of where we’ve gotten with the large-world effort.  It was a huge problem to solve, taking an engine and getting it to do things it was never intended to do, which is support these gigantic maps, and … we didn’t just do the naive ‘okay, now everything’s 64-bit’, cause then there’s performance consequences.  It was a very directed and targeted change.  It was very surgical, and I can say we have no performance difference between running the game in 32 bit.  And setting our programmers up for success, I feel like we’ve created an API for them, that if they make a mistake, it won’t compile.  It’s not bulletproof of course, but it’s a nice, tight, clean solution for them.  As an engine programmer, you want to create kind of a grammar than other programmers can express themselves in.

You’re building the canvas for other programmers who are the artists

Or am I mixing paint?  Am I building the palette that they paint with?  Or maybe I’m making pigment.

Well, it’s nice to see this side of things.  It’s nice to see what the engineers are doing, you guys are a big part of what SC is doing.  Thanks for sitting down with us.  

Yeah, and thank the backers.  Without your support, we couldn’t afford specialists like myself.  It’s great being able to be a part of something this ambitious.



Sandi and Disco Lando go to ‘Flight Club’.

Rule number one.  Don’t talk about flight club.  Rule number two.  Don’t talk about flight club.  Number three, if this is your first night of flight club, you have to flight.



– Tomorrow’s the last day of the Gladius free-fly – let CIG know what you want to fly next in the forums.

– Monthly report due tomorrow.

– Watch the comm-link for updates on 1.1a.  It’ll be out when it’s ready – no word on if it’s this week or next week.

– CIG wants you to submit your dogfighting clips.  Keep them to 30 seconds, there’s a thread about it on the forums.

– AtV is moving – starting next week, episodes will air 3 hours later, at Noon pacific.  This will give production folks a bit more backup time to fix editing errors and such.



– Guy sitting in some MISC stuff.  Looks like some Starfarer interior?

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