Star Citizen ATV Shows New Hub Areas & Planet Work From Frankfurt

Squadron 42 Old Man
Star Citizen's latest Around The Verse features an in-depth look at how cinematics are made in Frankfurt. Capturing "old man's" ramp jump wasn't easy. Star Citizen is in alpha for backers on PC. Cloud Imperium Games

Star Citizen fans can watch a brand new episode of Around The Verse featuring the latest developments from Brian Chambers’ team in Frankfurt, Germany. While it’s crammed with tech info that won’t matter to most folks, it also offers an in-depth look at Squadron 42 cutscenes, new planet terrains and the latest designs of the Lorville landing zone.

Since this episode was mostly a list of achievements by department, we’ll present some of the updates in that format:

  • VFX: Worked on cloud effects of the Coil and exterior of Squadron 42’s slaver base
  • AI: Transitions for FPS combat improved, ships are now fully controlled by their respective AI and Subsumption tools to link events have been created.
  • Lighting: Focused hugely on vertical slice lighting and volumetric fog, started lighting on truck stops
  • Weapons: First pass on Geminii F55, Torral Aggregate Kahix, Laser Cannons one through six and Gallenson Tactical gatlings one through three. Blocked Trident attacks for laser weapons. Started making a script to assist in the creation of modular weapons.
  • Art Tech: Making a new FPS weapon tool and doing R&D on cloth and flesh materials
  • Engine Team: Addressing issues for live releases and working on memory management tools. They’re finding new ways to record crash data to help developers. They’re also creating an improved cloth shader.
  • System Design: Finalizing mission givers and making progress on the admin officers present at major locations. Smaller tasks are also being handled that pertain to FPS combat, doors, hatches and beds.
  • Build Engineers: Running tests on build clusters
  • Environmental Art: Prepped for 2018 by developing updated planet tech and tools. As seen in the image below, the goal is to bring more color to existing environments. Progress continues on the Loreville landing zone. Its transit system is being worked on.

 

Star Citizen grass planet
Check out these updated environmental designs. Photo: Cloud Imperium Games

Quite possibly the biggest deep dive of all, however, was the episode's introduction to the cinematic team responsible for the Squadron 42 scenes in December’s vertical slice and the rest of the game. Lots of footage from the VS was recycled for this portion, but it offers a nice refresher for those who haven’t seen the clip in a while.

Cinematic Director Hannes Appell emphasizes that the creation of film-like moments in games is much more difficult than it appears. For the vertical slice alone, team members faced issues with scaling to make the imposing Vat Tagaca character live up to his larger stature. The solution involved re-rendering the entire scene at a reduced scale so the blocking of each model remained in tact. For the Gladius launch sequence, more AI had to be created with proper gestures that accurately mimic real-world flight control. These big-picture scenes are then developed into gold standards for all teams to crique and borrow standout technology.

Loreville Transit
The Loreville transit system is currently being designed. Photo: Cloud Imperium Games

In some cases, creating cinematics can sometimes involve physical risk for actors. “Old man” Colton has the physique to scale his enter ship ramp in a single jump, but Appell admits his team had to use methods of visual trickery to capture the stunt:

"We cheated the buildup of the Gladius wing including everyone's eyelines and had Mark pretend to slide down and end up in this final position next to Yuri. Our lead cinematic animator, Jason, then took the scene and gave ‘old man’ a hand keyframe slide down and tweaked positioning and eyelines to have the final result. So, even relatively small scenes like this sometimes mean a lot of logistical planning to meet the real world requirements of a real set.”

Beyond highlight reels, the cinematics team also routinely grapples with smaller details. Aspects like depth of field, mood lighting and even cutaway scenes the player can skip all recieve equal attention. With that agency in mind, lots of internal debate occurred over how much control the player would have during cutscenes. As Director Chris Roberts revealed last week, however, the choice will be offered to view cinematic angles or walk around the physical space. Appell described the dual decision as “having your cake and eating it too.”

That’s all there is to know about this week’s Around The Verse, but Reverse The Verse airs Feb. 2 at 11 a.m. EST. Special guests include Design Director Todd Papy and Frankfurt lead Brian Chambers.

What did you think of this week’s ATV? Were you hoping to see more from Star Citizen’s Frankfurt studio? Tell us in the comments section!

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