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[] April Monthly Studio Report

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Monthly Studio Report: April 2017

Greetings Citizens!

Welcome to our April Monthly Report! Below you’ll find a compilation of the ATV studio updates. You can easily find out what the developers in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Austin, and the UK have been up to for the past four weeks in both written and video form. And the studio update cycle starts all over again next with the LA offices. Check it out on ATV!

CIG Los Angeles





Soon, all new ships will have a Heat and Power component now that the team has finished designing pipes and begun implementing their basic structure. This will manage the flow of respective elements to allow individual component contribution to ship behavior. For example, coolers now contribute to how much heat the system can handle, rather than being statically defined by the heat sink. The old system in the new ships is being replaced with this new management system.

After this is done, the team must implement the minute details of each component influencing one another. For example, coolers not only affect the overheat temperature limit, they also offer IR signature masking. Heat sinks will no longer simply define the temperature at which components overheat and shutdown. The heat will ramp up to its desired temperature, rather than being generated instantaneously.

The Purchase Transaction system has been re-implemented with a new replicated function system called Remote Methods. This system will decrease the number of calls to the server, which should make purchasing things a bit more responsive. Next, the team will improve the Try-On mode and the clientside update to persistent data after purchases.

The team is also working on Object Container editing. When creating a gameplay level, the level is built with a combination of Assets and ObjectContainers. Originally, ObjectContainers had to be built in the dedicated ObjectContainer level, which, unfortunately, made the contents of the ObjectContainer only editable in the actual objectContainer level. In other words, when designers are building levels with ObjectContainers, but want to modify the contents of that ObjectContainer, the only way to do that is exit the current level, open the ObjectContainer level, do some tuning, save, export ,and leave. Then, the designer would have to move back to the level. What the team has done now is allowed the designer to edit the contents of a ObjectContainer, save and export all while inside the level. This creates a much better experience for our design team and saves time.


Since the previous update about the ultimate light switch, the Light Group entity also has several new features. Its light state can be changed by Track View, which is very useful for cinematics. It allows for individual directional lights to now rotate with a simple property. This was a process that previously required Flow Graph. Light Groups can now replace the antiquated prefabs that vehicle external lights have been using. Next, the team aims to get Light Groups on a vehicle to rely on the vehicle’s power in order to control all lights as well as interior devices such as doors.

Lastly, the team has focused on the control manager. This system will automatically give authority over items across the game and will allow players to dictate the control of an item and its subitems. In the past, there was a system prototype for vehicles that was hardcoded. This meant that item connections would have to be manually defined by the designer, for instance, a particular seat always controlled a specific set of items.


Now, the control manager will be able to connect to any entity. For example, a designer adds a control manager to a turret and then weapons are added, the turret can then be controlled by an AI module or by an Operator Seat. This can also be added to a vehicle with either an AI module or the operator seat. This framework is universal. It isn’t restricted to weapon systems. If a player wanted to control doors on a space station and there are terminals with an operator seat, it will link to the player and then the player can operate whatever it controls.The control manager will allow for multicrew play, depending on who is in each seat. The team also added this to dataforge so designers no longer have to manually state what each controller does. The system now knows what each control operates. With a set priority, it would manage itself. However, if the designer still wants to, they can give that extra level of control or just let the system function as it wants to.


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The ship team has completed the whitebox phase on the Anvil Terrapin and moved into greybox phase, which includes final geo on the pilot seat, the cockpit, the main engines, landing gear, and housing as well as basic rigs and animation for some of the features. The team has brought the whitebox into the engine to get it up and flying for testing. The team is working on the RSI Aurora’s cockpit, controls, MFD screens, and sleeping quarters as well as general internal polish, such as poms, decals, and LODs. Meanwhile, the QA team has been testing new ships in the pipeline and starting on the new animation pipeline. Their biggest undertaking is testing the new planetary tech on moons, such as Daymar.


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One of the biggest challenges when dealing with multiple asset pipelines is maintaining consistency across every asset. To ensure such consistency, the asset development teams need to create and maintain a shared, unified library. This means the tech art team is constantly evaluating and auditing materials to achieve the best and most efficient result.

Animation is like any other asset. It has a certain memory footprint that needs to be streamed in and out. The DBA, or database of animations, is an optimized animation container comprised of hundreds of animations compressed down to a fraction of their typical size on disk, similar to our Object Container tech, but for animations. Splitting them up logically is important because the speed of streaming will be affected depending on the size of the DBA. For example, a locomotion set can be fairly heavy as it is comprised of hundreds of animations (walking, running, turning, idling, etc.), causing the streaming of a large file to take a few frames. If a character slides prior to the animation beginning, this is an indication that the DBA is too large. So, tech animation developed a tool to create, manage, and sort the animations within DBAs.

This month, engineering, tech art, and DevOps teamed up to automatically output and track errors and warnings associated with certain assets for easy assignment, better visibility, and quicker turnaround. This affects everything from needed fixes to undefined behaviors that could negatively impact the gameplay experience and performance speed. Implementing this tech should alleviate the performance hit from costly asset errors.

With the implementation of Item 2.0, the Tech Content team needed to create a specific loadout editor to handle the characters as they will become fundamentally different than the characters in the base engine. Now that it’s been used in production, there have been some major improvements like new icons, documentation, and general workflow improvements that allow for more developers to get up-to-speed quickly on the usage of this tool. It will also make creating loadouts easier and faster.

They also created a new Skinning Tool to reduce turnaround by taking the CGA format (which is a hierarchy of animated meshes, collisions, and constrained pistons) and turning it into a unified set of skins with LODs that are bound to an animated skeleton with physics. This tool will not only allow for more complex rigging setups and LODs, but also reduce turnaround for skinning complex setups and improve the overall process.



Since hands tend to be a third of the screen space in a typical first-person shooter, they must be at a higher quality level. An interesting byproduct of unifying the first and third person is that, without a separate asset to represent first-person hands, all character assets must be to the level of a typical first-person shooter arm asset. Meaning, the quality should be to the correct level of fidelity and the hand weights should allow for more accurate animations. The new hand updates done by the rigging team allows for better deformation and drives the eye forward to connect with the weapon, which also lends itself to the use of longer weapons.



A critical feature required for characters is that the weapons move to their designated positions accurately when players switch armor. Tech Art worked within the confines of the skeleton extension system to develop an override technique that utilizes the correct helper positions based on the asset. This means attachments will now inherit positions in real time as armor pieces are attached and detached.

Also, in terms of attachments, the most complex character to date is the Heavy Marine. A fully equipped Heavy Marine has the most physical attachments, or weapons, than any of our other characters. This presented some unique challenges in trying to fit four grenades, eight magazines, two medpens, two gadgets, one side arm, and two weapons onto a single character.


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The character team is making solid progress across handfuls of different outfits, uniforms, and aliens. The OMC undersuit has completed its high poly pass, making it ready for in-game mesh and texturing. Our Heavy Outlaw has completed its in-game mesh and will move into texturing, rigging and implementation. In Squadron 42, the team is working on major characters to minor background roles. The Marine BDU has moved through texturing and onto its final stages. A medical rep character has finished up her high poly phase and will move to in-game modeling. Concepts for the Xi’an and Banu are near completion. Our newest quest givers, Ruto and Miles Eckhart, will be in-game soon.



The narrative team dipped their toes in a lot of different pools in the last month. On the alien front, they worked with the design and AI teams in Frankfurt to brainstorm Vanduul behaviors and delved even deeper into the Banu to flesh out more of the civilization to help with the Defender brochure. Dave and Will also appeared on a Subscriber’s Town Hall to field questions about aliens in general. Otherwise, although there were the usual weekly needs (News Updates, marketing blurbs and Jump Point), the bulk of the time was spent working on 3.0. They synced with the UK designers to talk out mission types and the art teams to help figure out ways to dress the various surface outposts that you’ll find around the moons.

CIG Austin





The team has made progress implementing Commodity Trading in 3.0. Since several things need to come together on the tech side first, the programmers worked furiously on the Shopping Code Rewrite, the Commodity Kiosk, and Ship Persistence so Commodity Trading can be possible. Also for 3.0, the designers finished the first batch of usable requests for the first round of shops. These are created so the 4 required disciplines (Design, Animation, Tech Art and System Design) understand each usable’s intended purpose and functionality. Once all the required assets are created, they will come back for design to do the final hookup. Also, the first mission giver experience is being plotted for 3.0. Getting Miles Eckhart, who you met in last year’s Gamescom demo, into the game is the primary focus while work on Ruto, our criminal fixer, is also proceeding nicely. The team worked on giving Eckhart a constant stream of missions and enabling players to earn reputation and higher tier mission options. Lastly, the team did a breakdown of the Levski landing zone, which included how players will smuggle cargo into the city; the placement of the mission givers and their content; the factions within Levski; and the political aims of these factions.



On the Art side, the team is completing the damage model pass on the Cutlass Black rework. By far, the most time-consuming part during this phase is creating the intricate trellis work on the parts that get blown off, like the wings and the body. This requires working closely with Tech Art to make sure the ship breaks apart and receives surface hull damage in the correct areas. Once we complete the damage phase, all that’s left to make are the LODs.

The team also worked on the lighting for one of the Squadron 42 stations and are also in process of converting existing setups to use the new light group system. This system will allow a much greater degree of control for the look of a room under different gameplay circumstances – such as when the power is on or off, when emergency lighting has been activated, or when gravity has been disabled. All of these changes will not only add a dynamic quality to the lighting but also make the environments feel responsive to player input. Initial testing has begun on a new volumetric fog solution, which lets every light cast volumetric fog, with the hope that it will allow many more high-quality atmospheric effects.


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The PU Animation Team updated all the existing usable animations to the new robust system. This will save on memory footprint and create a larger number of unique animations more quickly. The team also did a quick pick up shoot to capture lifting crates of different sizes from different heights, operating door controls, and various other transition animations. They also worked on picking up two handed objects as part of the Looting system. This allows more object interaction in-game and opens the possibility for more missions and activities. If a player sees a box on the ground and wants it, they will be able to pick it up, carry it back to their ship, and put it in their cargo hold for transport back to their hanger.


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Ship Animation wrapped up the reworked version of the Drake Cutlass, as well as new Zero-G enter-exit animations for the Drake Dragonfly. They also improved the cockpit experience by adding hit reactions, button presses, and updated cockpit layouts.


The Backend Services Engineering team has been bringing Diffusion online. The more trivial services, such as Friends, Analytics, Authentication, and Presence, were converted from legacy architecture to fully Diffusionized services running with Ooz. Next, we will start to convert larger and more complex services like Persistence Cache, Game Server Management/Matchmaker (GIM), and Persistence Database. These services will be broken up into smaller micro-services to meet performance, scalability, and availability standards. The Game Server and Client are very close to being Diffusionized, which will close the communication gap between the backend and front-end. In addition, the system is being optimized using a technique called Router Biasing. This allows the team to apply advanced bandwidth and control bandwidth techniques between service types in the Diffusion network.


This month, the DevOps and IT teams completed a project to expand the build system by 50%. This project is an important part of the build and deployment pipeline and the goal of this upgrade was to fully isolate and expand the try-build system. This will lead to much faster check in times for the engineering team and improve overall stability and performance of the builds in general.


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QA’s focus in early April was testing 2.6.3 to get it out to the players. They helped with multiple PTU pushes that led to 2.6.3 going Live. After the push, the team spent a lot of time supporting the Live build before shifting full-time to test the Game Dev branch. This has been both to stabilize the branch and to begin more rigorous testing and preparation toward 3.0. Some of the items being tested include a number of new ships, in-depth sweeps of some procedural planet environments for bugs, testing megamap improvements, new implementations for player interactions, item 2.0 conversions, movement system refactors, and new field of view controls. The development teams have been lining up new documentation and data for QA to polish up to ensure they are ready to jump on new content as it comes online. One of our testers worked directly with the Austin Animation team to clean up new mocap files for the development teams. Several other team members have been working with the Frankfurt QA team for in-depth testing of new and updated engine tools, ensuring that the new tools will function so designers can better implement and create content.


The Player Relations team was excited to spend a full week with the Turbulent team working on Spectrum improvements and focusing on how we can better improve the new player experience. We’ve begun work on revamping many areas of our service, and started the process of adding headcount to support our ever-growing community. Lastly, of particular relevance to 3.0, the Player Relations team has started adding new Evocati and updating our PTU waves.

Foundry 42 UK




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One of the big advances this past month has been with the player interaction system. Further improvement of the personal inner thoughts system will allow players to select functionality which is not directly tied to a particular object, like selecting an emote or exiting your seat. There will still be a quick select function to access default actions for experienced players. Also, item ports now allow objects to be physically attached to other objects, such as, how a sight is attached to a weapon.

The air traffic controller sprint was set up to figure out how to manage the flow of traffic to a location, in particular, it is responsible for assigning out and reserving a landing pad when a player wants to land, as well as freeing up that landing pad once they’ve landed and cleared the area. Conversely, this system will deal with reserving a landing pad and spawning a ship when the player wants to take off. The initial stages of the implementation are now underway and the team worked on the underlying structure of how the system works.

The functionality on the Character Status system is almost finished, which included bringing the procedural breathing and suit punctures to final implementation. Once this is done, the focus will be getting the system switched on by default in the game.

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The team is also working on Pickup and Carry, which is a bit of a mashup between the player interaction system and the usables sprint. The usables were more concerned with getting the AI to interact with objects in the environment, whereas the player interaction system is more for the player UI to interact with the environment. These two systems are now being brought together so the player can pick up, carry, and then place objects in our universe.


Finally, they completed the initial development of the conversation tech for the subsumption tool, which streamlines the creation of NPC conversations. It has been handed over to the designers to test by setting up different conversations. They’ll provide feedback on any necessary improvements.


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The audio team has been working on procedural planet audio processes, including R&D and planning, for systems to map and modify audio automatically. Work continues on the Audio Propagation System, the breathing system, audio for the character status system and also a dialogue tool called Word Up.

For weapons sound effects, the ship weapon ‘tool kit’ is in progress, which includes reload SFX for the Gallant, the weapon tail refactor and multi-positional code support for weapons, which will handle summing up the audio for many of the same weapons mounted to a single ship. For ships, the Prospector audio is done, with work on the Greycat and Cutlass Black still in progress.

The music department worked on the ‘Dynamically looping cinematic ambient music system’ and the ‘addition of tension system.’ They also cleaned up dogfighting music logic, prototyped planetside procedural music, and added more music to the launcher.


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The graphics team worked on many separate pieces of tech this month. The first is the integration of real-time, lit volumetric fog from Lumberyard, which is going to be a huge boost for the lighting and environment art teams. The render-to-texture feature is progressing quickly, and the initial version is in the UI team’s hands. They will use it to upgrade our 2D UI’s, and create 3D holographic projections to power various holographic displays. The real-time environment probe tech is nearing completion and allows fully dynamic bounced light and reflections on a planet where traditional light-baking techniques are not possible.


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The visual effects team have completed a pass at planetary entry VFX. The effect is controlled by speed and atmosphere density values. With this core functionality in place along with advances in the engine trail tech, these two sprints are now being merged. Design and art feedback were being implemented alongside optimization and bug-fixing. In addition, there have been some lightning entity effect improvements, where realistic lightning and other electrical type effects are created. The first pass of vfx for the MISC Prospector, including thruster improvements and damage, has been completed. For weapons, initial work on the Apocalypse Arms Scourge Railgun continues, including the charging and charged effects. Additionally, the weapons team completed the Preacher Distortion Scattergun and the Apocalypse Arms Scattershot. They also made good headway on the Klaus and Werner LMG.


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This month the Reclaimer received a lot of attention. On the exterior, work on the hull was completed and the huge claw came together. The team is now splitting the mesh up and getting it ready to use the damage tech. On the interior, the habitation, tech decks, and an enormous salvage processing room have been fully fleshed out. Next on the list is finishing the drone room, engineering deck and cockpit.

Work also began on derelict ships, so that design can lay the groundwork for mission specific scenarios encompassing ships and wreckage.

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An initial batch of ships that include the Connie, Caterpillar, Starfarer and Freelancer are being broken down to their structural elements and made to look destroyed. Material work is being done in tandem to give the ships a more deteriorated and aged look. A wreckage component was also worked on. This is a library of nondescript ship parts that will be used to help embed and integrate derelict scenarios into the environments. The Razor artwork is now complete, and the ship has gone through a full damage pass. Some cool work has been done on breaking it into pieces. Currently, LODs are being finalised on the hull, and art is working closely with tech design to get it flight ready.

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The Hull C also progressed nicely. The hull mesh is now largely complete, manoeuvring thrusters were incorporated and polish work done to match the interior and exterior. A detail pass adding all the finer details expected is ongoing. The interior went through the block out phase, and is now well into art production. By utilising assets from other MISC ships, spaces can be created quickly and efficiently, with the intention to use these across the Hull series.



The environment team alongside the graphics team continues to explore ways to create volumetric forms in space through simulations and initial renders.The surface outposts are finishing their interior visual benchmarks for engineering, habitation and hydroponics. These will then be distributed to the various outpost layouts and configurations. The team continues to set dress, light and polish these interior spaces to build character while also exploring options for navigation and branding based on the lore. The Truck stop space stations have moved into the final art phase, so the team is busy building the shader library and working on example pieces to final quality. As it’s a modular system, the building set is being refined to explore potential build configurations, which will ensure the set is as flexible as possible.



The animation team worked on cover AI, with the aim to improve all animation assets beyond ‘functional.’ Breathing state improvements are now in line with backend code improvements. This involves getting curve data out of Maya and into Dataforge, which allows for more refined procedural breathing curves. The team started implementing multi-directional takedowns for killing enemies within close proximity of the player. Also, there were further improvements to weapon setup & reloads across the board, including the Devastator shotgun, Arrowhead sniper rifle, Gallant laser rifle, and P8-SC ballistic SMG As well as melee improvements for pistol and stocked weapons.

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Finally, the Derby Foundry team were busy with face and body animations for our 3.0 Mission Givers and handed over 500 facial animation files that are now ready to be implemented in Squadron 42. The Motion Capture team has tracked and solved almost 1000 new body animations for various characters within the Persistent Universe.The team also worked on new facial animations for shooting guns. Animation Director Steve Bender has been a great source of inspiration, so expect new and improved faces soon.

Foundry 42 DE




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The Environment Art team fleshed out the different procedural terrain elements of Delamar, which is mostly covered with mountainous shapes.When placing the Levski landing zone onto the planet, there were a few challenges such as: What’s the best workflow to create the large borehole in front of the landing zone and the roads leading up to it, and what specific elements are needed to make the station blend smoothly with the terrain? The exterior of Levski had a few changes made to it, such as integrating garages on the lower levels so players can make an approach with ground vehicles. The team also made progress on the mining structures in and around the borehole to give them a more functional feeling and a polish pass. There were also some final touches done to the moons to differentiate them from each other.



Work moved forward as the team collaborated with the engineers to flesh out the tools and tech required for the procedural planets. Progress was made on the manual setups required to spawn the effects in engine, and moons are slowly taking on their own subtle personalities.


The team’s primary focus continued to be performance capture scenes across numerous Squadron 42 chapters. The current priority are story scenes on board the giant Shubin Archon facility, so the level designers and artists can finalize the Shubin environments. In addition, the team edited a big sequence for the middle of the story and progressed with setting the vista for a major story event during the opening of the game.



The Tech Art team performed R&D regarding foot constrain locomotion. The end goal is to get the feet to properly plant on the ground with each step, to the give the character a true sense of weight, at all speeds and angles. There was work on some skinning tasks to widen the range of character customization. Collaboration with the weapons team continued, both on Tools to help programmatically spot errors in the pipeline, as well as rigging for new and updated weapons.


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The System Design team progressed on the Actor Status system. It now incorporates player breathing, suffocating, stamina, g-forces, drinking, injuries, etc. Other work included: subsystems for suits getting punctured in combat, the ability to patch damaged suits, and recharge oxygen tanks.

The usable systems reached full production status and is now being mass produced for both S42 and PU. Once implemented into the levels, these will make the world feel so much more alive as the AI will be able to interact with almost any item in the world. The system is incredibly flexible from simple actions such as an AI leaning on a wall to complex ones like the opening of a service locker, accessing the power supply item inside, inspecting an item inside the power supply, removing a broken item and replacing it with a new one, and restarting the power supply. The system allows either the player or AI perform those actions, or have both players and AI working on the same usable together.

On the social side of things, the design for the Spectrum game integration is being finalized. This will allow players to access core Spectrum functions inside the game, like party creation and management, chat, friend’s list, organizations, etc. The goal is to keep the majority of the stuff available in the Spectrum app, while the core functionality needed for minute to minute gameplay remains available directly in game.


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The Level Design team finished their design pass on the Surface Outpost, as the Art Team worked on its modular system. Levski is now being integrated into the procedural version of Delmar. An Upper Lobby was created, which will connect the Levski interior to the planetary surface via airlocks and serve as a place for a future possible air rail to outlying landing areas. Garages were implemented on the surface so people can spawn or park their vehicles. We also added new approaches to the Levski site itself, with roads and parking zones. Additional custom work that included planning out the elevator network and worker’s areas, and adding administration offices, was also done.


The QA team began testing the new Stanton System persistent universe level this month with a focus on finding any major gameplay blockers. The entire process of connecting to this new PU level has changed, which led to additional tweaks and testing done to the in-house server launcher tool called Catapult. With Port Olisar now in the Stanton System level, traveling between the different moons, landing on them, getting out, etc, is being tested. In the Subsumption Editor, the new Conversation system was recently added and was available for an initial round of testing. All issues encountered were entered in JIRA and sent over to our Austin studio to be investigated.


The QA team also worked with the internal system designers to fix up the AI Basic Feature Test level and add behaviors for all AI NPCs, so that their designated tests could be run. The Feature Tester is kicked off whenever new code changes are submitted to the Game-Dev stream. The AI Basic FeatureTest level catches any AI related issues that could potentially be caused by a code submission. The team also further expanded QA’s depth of testing with the Particle Editor. New VFX test cases were created and added to the Editor checklist. These tests will continue to be maintained as additional feedback is gathered from other technical testers and the team.



The lighting team supported the upcoming 3.0 release of the moons Celin, Yela, and Daymar. There’s been a particular focus on the visual quality of the surface outposts for 3.0 and all subsequent surface outpost variations. The first stage of our new Light Group system is being implemented, which will alter the lighting and mood of a surface outpost based on various states like low power, emergency, or hazardous conditions.


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The ship AI team refactored the Movement system to unify the movement pipeline between NPC’s and Ships. This enables the NPC’s to truly control ships while piloting them, amongst other things. This will ultimately give the AI a finer level of control and a way to contextualize their actions. There were some general improvements to NPC’s AI pathfinding and navigation. At times, AI NPC’s were getting blocked on certain configurations of corners, and this work will resolve that. There were also some fixes for the mesh regeneration to correctly exclude areas that AI should not be able to get to.

Regarding the mission system, the team focused on two different chapters of S42 mission: expanding existing functionalities and adding new ones for the designers. Through dataforge, designers can now define and initialize which default missions play when entering specific game modes. Through the subsumption visualizer, designers are now allowed to overwrite the starting mission for a specific level. This ultimately makes the setup and review of missions much more efficient for the team. Designers can now create a platform, which is a list of items that live within an object container with their known world coordinates at runtime. A platform can be accessed by the mission logic and customized in numerous configurations. For example, an Idris would be a basic platform and, in the game, multiple Idris’s can be setup in different ways: occupied by pirates, another by UEE, etc. All those unique setups would reference the same base platform of the Idris and have their own unique customization layers on top.

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The weapons team has been blocking out new FPS weapons: two Vanduul weapons, four from Kastak Arms, three from Gemini, and one from a new manufacturer. For ship weapons, a first pass on the Knightbridge Arms Ballistic Cannon Size 2 and 3 was completed. This is the first ship weapon through the new pipeline to prep for the modular upgradeable system.


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The engine team worked on Object Container streaming to help with the PU and SolEd, which is an internal tool that helps easily build full Solar Systems. Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are developed with C++, a programming language known for high performance. But due to the languages design, large projects can suffer from long compile times if not careful (the time spent translating program code into machine instructions).


Even with careful code design, compile times for a large project tends to increase over time, so the team recently spent time doing house cleaning on existing code. For this, the team had to touch each GameCode file (nearly 2000 files). In the end, it improved the compile time by several minutes, which will have a positive impact company wide.The engine team also spent time further improving the procedural planet tech, including terrain blending, blending of terrain and scattered objects, and improved transition-dissolve-blending.





This month, Turbulent released Spectrum version 0.3.3. This version contains a new type of discussion called nested threads. A nested thread works by stacking replies to an earlier comment directly below it, so users can see a discussion evolve from a specific comment or reply. The first level is sorted by votes, so the most upvoted sub trees are on to top. Nested threads are akin to Reddit discussions.

When a new discussion is started on Spectrum 0.3.3, the user can choose between a nested thread and a chronological thread. This new type of discussion allow for faster and more dynamic threads. The upvote feature is also useful for the community teams to gather questions, among other things. Turbulent is looking into how the nested thread option can be transformed into a view option, so users can decide how to view threads. The team is also improving the unread status as well as adding staff tracking, so users can know from the top of the thread list which ones have a had a staff response. This will be particularly useful for the Ask The Dev forums.


Also included in 0.3.3 is the ability to flag posts for moderation. This works within orgs and the public community. Users can flag a reply, a thread, or message for moderation, so public moderators know to intervene. In your private orgs, anyone who has the moderation permission will receive a notification to investigate. There has been massive progress on mobile support for the keyboard system in 0.3.3 and it should be fixed in the next release.

Currently the team is working on the 0.3.4 release. The main feature of this release will be more refinement on tags in sub forums. These tags will be surfaced at the top level of the community index in the channel list, so that users can jump directly from a global community index to a specific tag within a channel. The second part of this release is that users will be able to bookmark a tag just like it was a channel in itself. This will give the functionality of a sub forum, while keeping the tagging system in place.


The team is also adding more filters and working on the search subsystem, which will power all the “view my own posts,” “view somebody else’s posts,” and let users search by author, role, or dev posts. This feature will also power a new mini profile, so users will be able to just jump directly to a list of posts from a specific player directly from the mini profile.

Virtual lists are also being developed on the back end. Currently, there is an issue rendering long presence lists in the chat lobbies, which causes the backers group to collapse by default in the general forum. Virtual lists will allow for rendering what is visible plus a buffer. This will save on performance and allow everybody to be present in the lobby lists. One of the most reported issues is that users can’t jump directly to a message and then go back in time. Virtual lists will allow this.

In the meantime, the research team from Spectrum is working on the overlay for Spectrum desktop, which is an integration between the game and Spectrum. This means taking the redux application store and moving it to an area where two processes can benefit from it. Then, there can be an overlay that will keep the game and the desktop client synchronized without having to double the resources for it.

There has been some research on PM groups, specifically the ability to refactor the currently 1 on 1 PM system to have more than one person in a group, so users can have a party system for specific a lobby.

Turbulent also visited the Austin studio to presented the new art design for the site revamp. There were also some major infrastructure changes as the platform was moved to a new set of hardware. There was a brief downtime while it was shifted, but everything was quickly back up and running better than before.





The Banu Defender was launched via a concept presentation. As part of the process, the ship rollout system was upgraded with an improved Q&A, a live Town Hall to discuss the ship, and a focus on the development process in Jump Point and the Vault. Simultaneously, the updated Banu race was revealed in a futuristic ‘National Geographic’ style magazine.

The Star Citizen store added new merchandise, including Star Citizen and Squadron shirts and hats, plus a beautiful new Terra mousepad. Subscribers can purchase exclusive Polaris shirts. Shipping and handling was revamped as a part of these new additions. Now, merchandise ships immediately instead of as a pre-order.

Internally, the team is in the process of supporting a major website update, which includes a long-awaited overhaul to the ship stats page. New player content is also in production thanks to community feedback, which has highlighted how daunting Star Citizen can be to new players.


Tickets for Gamescom went on sale this month and event planning continues. Our community team and staff from Austin attended DREAMHACK, where they met with backers and talked Star Citizen. The con concluded with an appropriately Texas-themed BBQ Bar Citizen. Devs also attended the backer-organized BritizenCon and took part in not one, but two panels! It was an honor to participate and connect with the community.

The team ran four Happy Hour livestreams this month, including a live look at how production schedules are made. Happy Hour will be going on a ‘half hiatus’ for a bit as the team works on the New Player Experience videos, but it will return to its usual schedule in the near future.



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    • Przez Nebthtet
      Monthly Studio Report: May 2017

      Greetings Citizens!

      Welcome to Monthly Report for May 2017, our detailed list of what the developers in Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Austin, and the UK have been up to for the past four weeks in both written and video form.
      CIG Los Angeles



      Our Tech Design, Engineering, and QA teams have made steady progress in their various disciplines to roll out a fleet of ships that operate under the Item System 2.0 system with updated or new items that can be loaded onto them. We’ve now successfully converted the Origin M50 Interceptor to fully utilize this new system since it is a comparatively easier ship to set up while still allowing us to discover issues that we can address for all 49 flyable ships and beyond.
      Our first round through the setup procedure allowed us to identify opportunities to create tools that will further speed our implementation time in the future. This attention to detail has really allowed us to balance power usage, heat generation, associate EM and IR signals, and balance hydrogen and quantum fuel consumption across our ships and a lot of insight into how the player could consider upgrading their ship components.
      The engineering team also made major strides in the areas of persistence and inventory by creating a technique for clients to request persistent information. This work will be incorporated into several large features in 3.0 such as cargo, shops, commodities, Air Traffic Control, Ships, Players, and more. It will allow game code to query for and modify data for entities that aren’t even spawned, such as selling cargo from a ship that’s landed at a station and hidden away by ATC. These features will also allow game code to correctly re-spawn and orient ships or items that have been abandoned on planets or in space, meaning you can expect the world and your possessions to remain in the same state in between game sessions.
      We’ve made progress on the system which allows one to park their ship inside of another to transport safely from point A to point B. This was based off of a rework of the landing mechanic that’s currently in the game. The new docking areas are set up the same way as landing pads used within the universe, taking components with a different interface and a new mechanism for locking. There has also been some work on the physics of getting the Ursa Rover to sit in the cargo bay of the Constellation Andromeda without popping through walls and jittering.
      The team has also now also converted the basic quantum drive to Item 2.0, giving it the ability to store quantum travel and other navpoints. This means that all discovered quantum travel points can be set as travel destinations at any time regardless of distance and signature strength. This also involves working closely with Design on a way to better display them to the player in a logical interface. From here, we can move on to pure 2.0 systems as Quantum Drive now uses the pipe system for fuel and power checks as well as make quantum drive look and sound as awesome as it behaves by connecting VFX and Audio to the actual transit.
      This month we’ve implemented a several new features into our Intelligent Flight Control System (IFCS). On the physics side, we’ve implemented an autopilot system to allow AI and any other systems to utilize IFCS, like takeoff, landing or quantum drive, or anywhere a ship control needs to be automated. We’ve also added support for Cinematics to be able to automate the motion of thrusters on ships, so they don’t need to hand animate every thruster action in a cinematic. With this in place, the thrusters on a ship will now behave as intelligently as they do in game.

      Our ship team made steady progress on the RSI Aurora since our last update. The art team has now completed the seat geo for the ES and LN variants and started work on the engines while tech design is implementing these new assets directly into the ship archetype making this our first scratch built Item System 2.0 ship. Also, the Anvil Terrapin’s exterior is nearing completion of the greybox phase and has near final animation.

      TECH ART
      As you know, the scale of Star Citizen is such that even large teams need some additional support in the form of outsourcing partners. One of the difficulties with outsourcing tends to be ensuring a team’s refined processes are adhered to and all assets that are delivered meet our requirements for easy integration into the game. As you’ve heard about in the past, there are many pipelines and processes within Star Citizen and some are more complicated than others. Onboarding an outsourcing team requires tools that can be installed and run in an external environment with limited support from us in order to save time. So this month, the tech animation team developed a standalone installer that automatically mounts sample assets, tools and documentation, no matter if it’s for Motion Builder or in Maya. We can now easily minimize the ramp-up time for any potential partners and while allowing them to benefit from the extensive internal tools that are developed for our needs.
      Tech animation is responsible for the character’s skeleton and, like all things, creating a character skeleton can be done manually or automatically. Typically, a skeleton rig is not so complex and tends to be somewhat static, so it doesn’t change often, but, when you’re on the cutting edge of technology, updates are often required. For example, an animation engineer may require the addition of a specifically named joint for code purposes, thus requiring changes to all skeletons in the game, which would be a time consuming process if done manually. We’ve now completed our SRC (or Source) rigging scripts and can make these kinds of updates quickly, easily, and bug-free. The time and energy saved is not only for the rigging team, but also for the animation team who will be utilizing these skeletons day to day. A programming analogy would be to think of the rig as a compiled executable. The SRC rigging scripts are the source code. If we need to add something to the skeleton, we update the source code and compile it rather than patching the executable. You just build it anew.
      The tech art team also created a new data structure that will allow players to customize their eye color. This supports the first pass of the character creator where players will be able to select from a preset eye color pallet.
      In addition, tech art took advantage of a feature provided by the LA Engineering team that allows the body skin tone to automatically adjust to the skin tone of the face through the magic of item port tags. In the case of NPCs, this will maintain consistency for our characters and in the case of players this will ensure your body always matches your face.
      They’ve also created a process to generate SDF (or signed distance field) volume textures, which are used in conjunction with our atmospheric flight model to simulate engine trails. We’ve made solid progress on art tools for our various art teams. One such tool is our “unbevel” tool, which simplifies our LOD (or Level of Detail) creation process to increase performance on anything beyond our first LOD and speed up delivery time for our ship pipeline.
      Finally, this month we’ve taken large steps forward on our procedural system for outposts including color tinting, material variation, and even variation of props and their placement within the outposts.

      Our character team have added more armor suits to the armory. We now have a fully rigged female medium marine and the male heavy outlaw suit going has moved from concept toward final implementation. We’re also far along on many new uniforms, costumes, characters, and heads for Squadron 42. The male OMC light is wrapping up its initial high poly pass and has moved onto in-game mesh creation. The male Shubin miner uniform has begun in-game texturing now that the mesh is complete. A new outlaw uniform has just finished up concepting and is on its way to high poly. Our Female Marine BDU finished up sculpting and is headed to in-game modeling.
      With the FOV slider work in-progress for 3.0, the character team also spent time working on our helmet interiors starting with the heavy outlaw and heavy marine which is used by our UI team to establish necessary boundaries.

      The Narrative spent the month divided. Dave and Will shipped off to the Wilmslow office to spend some time with Design and attend Squadron 42 level reviews with Chris. During that time, they also generated a handful of new scripts for 3.0 to cover [REDACTED] [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] which was very exciting to expand upon. Meanwhile, back in the LA office, Adam and Cherie were holding down the fort. Adam was juggling Jump Point articles, News Updates, while working on components for 3.0 while Cherie was maintaining her stalwart battle against chaos on our internal wiki and spearheading several new archiving systems to catalog the massive amounts of performance capture data as well as video captured for our various marketing and community programs.

      QA has been busy supporting the transition into the Item 2.0 conversion by taking an early look at the ships, and determining how to convert all existing checklists to the new 2.0 framework. When making any impact to our game, QA has to test everything, which in this case, included all the different interaction points. Prior, the interaction points were limited to the exit and entrance, but now checks have been added for Ladder Entry/Exit, EVA entry/exit, Power On/Off, Engines On/Off as well as looking ahead for features not yet implemented such as Ejection and cases in which more than one player attempts a particular interaction.
      CIG Austin



      Right now the ATX Design Team is completely focused on things related to 3.0 or near term goals.
      First off, the team has been building State Machines for the first few NPCs that we’ll be implementing. To provide a bit of background, a “State Machine” is a way to visualize how the NPC will behave, it not only acts as a behavior tree, but also informs the animation team when and where our animations need to transition between each other. We hand off these state machines to the Animators who then approve the behavior or give it back with feedback. Not only does this drive the animations we need, but also guides the NPC’s behavior setup in Subsumption.
      The Nav Beacon System is a new mechanic that will allow players to create their own roads throughout a given Star System. These are physicalized objects that are deployed through utility mounts and give players visual markers to lock onto for Quantum Travel while in space or, if used on planetary surfaces, will provide a known point to fly towards. Players will be able to grant “Use” access to others as well as “Hack” another person’s beacon, both allows you to use someone else’s Nav Beacon. There are multiple sizes and quality levels that dictate several things: how far they can be seen from and how long they last before they need to be serviced by the Owner. Finally, because they are physical objects you will be able to not only find, but destroy someone else’s Beacon, which should make for some interesting gameplay.
      Finally, the team have been organizing Miles Eckhart’s assets (which are being polished by the animation team in our Derby Office), creating his state machine, and getting his initial behavior up and running in Subsumption. Eckhart will be unlocked to the players by accumulating ‘Reputation’ with him, earned by completing other available missions. Once unlocked, you can visit him for a wide variety of missions. The new “Mission Manager” will drive his selection, but you will be able to choose from anything he currently has available. Setting up this character will provide a lot of great information for future Mission Givers, so we’re looking forward to getting him out there.
      PU Game Director Tony Zurovec has had his hands full with several things this month like reviewing mission scenarios for 3.0, but a major part of his focus was on Subsumption. As a reminder, Subsumption is the data-driven and highly abstracted foundation on which all of the AI and mission logic in Star Citizen is constructed. Tony finished the conversion of the Subsumption tech to Linux for integration with our backend services and completed the Shopping Service for game code to start hooking the new shopping tech into.

      Ship Artist Josh Coons has been working on the ship LODs for the Cutlass Black. It’s a very time-consuming task since our LODs are mostly handmade and the ship he’s working on is quite large with many pieces that have to be optimized. In addition to optimizing the mesh, he also reduces the material IDs, as he goes down the LOD chain. This way the mesh will have less draw calls from a distance and be more efficient on the engine.

      This month, the PU Animation Team finished up the two-handed carry animations for a variety of postures (such as standing, crouching and zero-g), a number of crate sizes and even a variety of heights. Code and Tech has hooked it up so that you can retrieve cargo in zero-g, EVA back to your ship and stow your acquired loot in your cargo bay. Animation Director Steve Bender stopped by the office for a visit, so we ended up doing a last minute mocap shoot in our office where he ran around like a crazy person capturing all our FPS starts and stops for a stocked rifle locomotion set. We also took this opportunity to get Sandy Gardiner in the suit and capture some exercise motion for our female characters when they decide to do a workout in our exercise usable. On the second day, lead animator Bryan Brewer hopped in and captured needed animations for the crouching carry animations. Animation worked closely with design to start work on some of the interactable NPCs, such as bartenders and shopkeepers.
      The Ship Animation Team continued to improve upon the cockpit experience. They worked with designers and programmers over in the UK to update our gforce blendspace poses, utilize a low pass filter for smoother, smarter camera motion; as well as adjust the cockpit geometry to allow for button presses. In addition to this, we created a system that will allow us to make comms calls within the ships during flight.

      IT/DEV OPS
      Our Server Engineers have been providing support for the shopping service which communicates with Diffusion and the game systems through our new Diffusion gateway. The gateway allows external/non-Diffusion services to communicate with the game as if they were an internal Diffusion service.
      We’ve also focused on integrating the Diffusion code into the primary game development branch that will be deployed with 3.0. This was a massive integration with a lot of moving parts and required a large amount of collaboration between Server Engineering and DevOps. The effort has taken a few weeks to get everything moved over, tested, and in a state where it can be deployed.
      We have also been working on a Service Creation Tool. This tool will provide a simple to use UI allowing engineers to create new services, add/remove or modify components, and management in source control. The output of the tool is a basic service shell and set of source files that are customized for the new service. When complete, this will be a huge time saver and allow new engineers to create services without worrying about any boilerplate work and thus allowing for rapid service development. We have started to add Star Citizen specific extensions to Ooz. For those who don’t know, Ooz was written by Lead Server Engineer Jason Ely and is the scripting language that drives Diffusion. These extensions expose SC-specific constructs to Diffusion, allowing services to provide more intricate support for game-play features which help move the game into a more distributed architecture.
      We’ve also continued work on the Router Mesh functionality. This feature distributes services over multiple router endpoints and provides redundant communication paths between other services. The mesh will use a technique to isolate high bandwidth services away from lower bandwidth or more critical services. The primary responsibility of the router mesh is to provide a high level of service availability and performance.
      Finally, the DevOps team has been busy optimizing the build and publishing systems. The game builds are growing rapidly as content continues to pour in for 3.0, so we’re constantly tweaking and tuning to keep up with the demands of the dev team. Ahmed and his team have been collecting feedback on network performance from our three locations and comparing that to internal data, so we can optimize network performance wherever possible. This is an ongoing task but we’ve already found some good opportunities for improvement in this area.

      For May, Austin QA worked heavily on regression of bugs, particularly on a massive sweep through our open bugs to see what items are still valid given the new systems and tech coming online for both PU and S42. This allowed us to eliminate a considerable number of bugs before they ever reached development, saving our busy developer cohorts time they would have spent investigating issues that were no longer occurring in the latest builds. Major testing items for our group included actor serialization, multi-threaded resource containers and network transport queue for the Engineering teams. We continued testing the Moons in the Stanton system for any potential issues such as collision and performance testing. New vehicles, ships and FPS items came online throughout the month (including the Behring P8-SC SMG which we were very excited to play with) in addition to testing the continued Item 2.0 implementations. All of which have kept our Arena Commander and Star Marine testers very busy.
      On the new system front, we’ve been working very hard testing the new procedural breathing and stamina system as well as the new Air Traffic Controller system. We’ve also been testing some updates to our current game Launcher – primarily bug fixes to our players but also a few quality-of-life fixes, continued providing additional support for the animation groups here in Austin, including mocap file cleanup, supporting setup and teardown for pick-up shoots and in-game video captures for final reviews. Regular Editor and engine testing has continued as well, with ATX QA completing regular smokes of the subsumption editor, procedural planet tools as well as our normal editor testing.

      The Player Relations team has been extremely busy preparing for upcoming 3.0 work. The biggest item that players will see is the New Player Experience that will ultimately go on the website. These are intended to provide helpful guides for new players entering into the Star Citizen universe and help bring them up to speed with the game and its various mechanics.
      We’ll also be adding to the Evocati ranks in the coming weeks, and are excited to announce that we’ll be adding headcount in Austin, Manchester, and Frankfurt.
      Foundry 42 UK

      FOUNDRY 42: UK


      Let’s start with the ongoing Sprints.
      We’ve completed the initial groundwork for the Air Traffic Controller sprint and moved on to more of the functionality including communicating with the ATC. When you want to land, you can now target the station and, using the player interaction system, select the option to request a landing. You will then start a communication channel with the NPC and have a dialogue with them. We’re currently in the process of implementing this in real world test cases, for example in our PU map we’re setting it up at port Olisar so both requesting your ship as well as landing will all go through the ATC system.
      As part of a push to make Star Citizen more accessible, we’re introducing a new Hint System to lower the initial learning curve for new players. As they take their first steps into Star Citizen universe, various hints will get displayed on the UI after a given amount of time to indicate how to interact with the different systems, such as entering the proximity of the ASOP terminal or letting them know about the mobiGlas feature.
      For 3.0, we’ve also changed how the Player Spawns into a level. Currently, each bedroom in the PU map has its own spawn point and then some flowgraph logic to position them correctly in the bed, and play the correct animation. As you can imagine, based on the number of spawn locations in the PU, this is adding up to a lot of flowgraph and setup. Going forwards, we’re creating a new spawn component which can be added to any entity. For example, if this component is added to a bed, we will then assume the player will need to be attached correctly to it and play the normal lie down idle animation automatically. This now means we can now remove a large amount of flowgraph and simplify the setup of the level.
      We’ve made progress on implementing the mission broker and the mission manager systems. These will determine how a mission and all its objectives are presented and given to the player to complete. This system will also track what missions a player already has and how far through the objectives they are.
      In the AI Locomotion sprint, we’re spending time refining the way the AI walks and runs around a level. We have found that just following the path which is determined by the path finding code gives a result which looks very unnatural. We’ve now implemented a new path smoothing algorithm which makes AI traverse around corners in a much more natural way, so it doesn’t look like they’re just going from one point to the next. Because they are generally moving to get to a particular place we are currently working on making reaching that point, and going into whatever animation is required, be as seamless as possible.

      The graphics team wrapped up the major features mentioned in our last update such as lit fog, real-time environment probes for planet lighting, and the render-to-texture work for holograms and video comms. In addition to general bug-fixing, they’ve also tweaked our lighting model to improve the appearance of ground reflections of the sun on planets at sunset and sunrise.

      On the FPS weapons side, the UK animation team completed the previs for the new Gemini L86 ballistic pistol and nearly completed the Arrowhead with just some minor polish work left on the reload states.
      The takedowns have gone from an implementation pass to a refined animation pass, with concentration on stronger composition, solid posing, clear silhouettes, and polish to the mocap data to better sell the overall action.
      The AI animation work is ongoing with improvements to the posing of enemy patrol states and reactions to sight and sound.
      The team are also helping to export the remaining gameplay story cinematic scenes, so that design can implement, and better visualize the story within the levels they are working on.
      The Derby animation team are finishing off the facial animations for the 3.0 Mission Givers and Eckhart’s body animation is being polished and implemented too. Last week, some of the team attended a PU audio and facial shoot in London. They captured some awesome footage from a great set of actors and we think it will go a long way to fleshing out the Universe.

      The VFX Team have continued tests with the new Lightning Entity, this time focusing on smaller-scale, interior electrical effects. They also tested the features in the new particle system, as provided by the Graphics team including better trail options, and depth-buffer-based collision (required for sparks, for example). The team started the first Levski exterior VFX Pass which includes refinery flames and general ambiance. Flight-ready VFX, including interior damage and thruster effects are now done for the Cutlass rework and the team have continued on the Atmospheric Flight Effects sprint, with heavy focus on playtesting, bug-fixing and testing new features as provided by the Graphics and Engineering teams.
      Outside of these features, the team continued ongoing polish on the VFX for new weapons, and reworked versions is continuing up to the 3.0 release.

      SHIP ART
      The Origin 600i has finished its concept phase and the next ground vehicle has been rocking along. We’re just about to kickoff a whole new round of ships, but can’t spoil which ones.
      In Reclaimer news, the team completed work on the drone room. They were keen to focus on the drone deployment and storage mechanism, and are excited to see this become functional when drones come online. The Engine room has also been completed, making use of re-purposed assets from the Idris where possible. All the reused assets go through a process of re-skinning with Reclaimer materials to make everything feel consistent and cohesive. On the exterior, the damage setup is nearly complete with internal geometry being built to be exposed when the ship takes damage.
      The initial batch of work on the Derelict ships and wreckage elements are coming to an end with support is now in place for design to create mission scenarios based on derelict ships in space or on planets. Material variations of each ship have been created, so that depending on which planet the ships are placed on; they will look visually embedded to the surface type. All that’s remaining for this phase are the technical elements such has LODS, Vis-Areas and Collisions.
      The Gladius cockpit has been revamped and re-lit for the new “Cockpit Experience” sprint.
      This has been an exercise in improving the player’s feeling of immersion and has been a collaboration between several departments. From the art side, this was achieved by clearing a channel between the top support screens to reveal the Gatling gun on the nose, making a range of interactive buttons for more interesting animations and remodeling the throttle for improved functionality. The cockpit canopy has been extended for better clarity and new interior lighting has been added to help bring it all to life.
      On the Hull C exterior, the team is nearly finished with the landing gear mechanisms and detailing the inner bay areas, while we create the initial animations and work towards final art. They finished modelling the front section of the interior and the section is getting a detailed lighting pass using the new light groups controller. Once this is complete, the tunnel section and rear engine room will be modeled and lit in the same fashion.

      On the ships weapons front, we have taken the Klaus & Werner styling from the FPS weapons and used that influence to work on a K&W Laser Repeater. At the other end of the spectrum, we also concepted some cool-looking MaxOx Neutron Repeaters.

      The Art team continued to hammer away at Shubin mining station interiors and focused on improving the overall “believability” of the structure, by zeroing in on the functionality of the individual areas.
      Adding Texture and Visual Interest to our Space overworld has been a big priority for the 3.0, so the team has turned to giving our Space Scenes a major face-lift with the goal of diversifying environments and adding a unique flavor to each of our locations. Large volumes of inter-planetary space dust have been added and the team re-worked some of the distant nebula in the Stanton System to this end. We also worked on large-scale nebula rendering techniques, using the Pyro System as a test case. These techniques will help us create our interstellar scale nebula.
      For Squadron 42, the team delved deeper into the look and feel of the Coil, which plays a major role in the first campaign. The team explored using powerful fluid simulations to help achieve this look.
      For the Truckstop station materials, the team finalized the panels shapes, adding some hue and gloss variation and elements of wear and dirt. The unclad frames are also being finalized, with structural elements surrounding machinery and high frequency detail. They continued to work on the solar panels, trying different ideas out, and getting them to a stage where they gel well with the rest of the truckstop. The team also finalized the main hull pieces and proceeded to the front and back sections of the station. Special consideration is being made to ensure all the pieces work well as a modular set and don’t look visually repetitive. Detailing areas around the landing pad is ongoing and this includes adding more visual complexity to the back of the landing pad as well as the borders around the edge of the pad.
      In relation to the Surface Outposts; more of the archetypal outposts have had a dressing and lighting pass, including an emergency shelter for crashed pilots to take refuge which can be found dotted around the moons. Also, an illegal drug lab, which may, or may not, be on one of the moons. The team also worked on providing further infrastructure to habitation pods including comms arrays, water collectors and small deploy-able communication units.
      Planet integration materials for the outpost exterior has been tested and tweaked for sand and ice biomes. This determines the amount of dirt build-up that can vary for each biome, and can be adjusted for each outpost for variation.
      Branding prototyping has been explored for procedural locations with the Rayari brand as a test case. This includes the main logos and text, along with secondary logos, idents, lines and signage. This would procedurally swap brands depending on who owns the outpost.

      The live design team plowed ahead with content for the PU, but they’ve made sure to spend a bit of time giving some much-needed love to some of the existing Arena Commander and Star Marine maps. Dying Star has received a new lease of life with the addition of procedural asteroids, which give a more cinematic dogfighting experience. Both of the Star Marine maps have received a number of balancing changes, based on feedback from the community.
      In Echo Eleven, we’ve made some adjustments to the capture points, and in Last Stand and Demien we’ve added a sneaky new EVA route from the Marine spawn zone to landing pad B.

      On the UI front, the team chipped away at all the various features of the new MobiGlas. Progress has been made getting the home screen fully functional and displaying elements of the actor status, atmospheric readouts, suit status readouts, as well as personal overview. The Player Loadout Management app is now working on the mobiGlas. This interface should easily carry over to handle ship-loadout customization as well. The next big task is to get the new overhauled Mission Manager and Universal Inventory Manager up and running as well. The team also worked to get the mobiGlas UI to be projected using the new render-to-texture tech, which will make the UI look much more properly integrated within the game world.
      Work has continued on designing and implementing the upcoming character customization menu on the front-end, which will be introduced in 3.0. From here, players will be able to create and customize their various characters for the PU, obviously depending on how many character slots the player has. Initially, the level of customization will be limited, but it will expand in the future to provide much more granular control of character features.

      The audio team has been working on several features for the 3.0 release, including the procedural planet ambiance system, which is designed to place appropriate sounds around the player dynamically as they traverse planetary bodies.
      They’ve also refined the approach on how we produce ship armaments and first person weapon audio, further ensuring they’re satisfying for the player, while reflecting player-driven modifications and customization.
      The team produced sound schemes for the different kinds of diegetic user interfaces that will feature in 3.0, including the kiosks – the audio direction of these vary to suit their tech level, and this presents some great opportunities to reinforce their look and feel.
      Preparation has begun in earnest for a Foley session at Pinewood Studios, to ensure audio coverage for character clothing and armor; and content to extend the footstep system further. Progress has also been made on the foundational audio tech such as dynamic bank loading, the actor-status system, the audio propagation system, and the music logic system.
      In addition, over the past month, the team produced content for derelict ships, bespoke 3.0 location sound design, ship damage VFX audio support, ship audio improvements and more.
      Foundry 42 DE

      FOUNDRY 42: DE


      The AI team started a sprint focused on human combat, with the end goal of improving all the combat work done in the previous months into something that represents our final quality. We initially focused on all the shooting functionalities, making sure the basic controls for accuracy and friendly fire are implemented correctly then dove into improving behaviors related to awareness, such as reactions to potential threats seen or heard from a wide range of distances.
      They also finished converting the ship AI to a newer updated version, meaning that weapons, shields, and countermeasures now work with the new Item 2.0 system. For now, it also supports the old ships to avoid any compatibility issues that may creep up. This is part of an ongoing effort to move ships away from Kythera AI control and bring us one step closer to fully switching to Subsumption-based AI for all ships.
      The past month, the AI team did some additional work on the AI modules. These modules represent an item that can be attached to a seat (any seat of a spaceship or a turret) and execute a behavior logic defined with the Subsumption editor. You might think of it as a piece of custom software that can be instructed to take control of the same items that are available to a player sitting in the same seat. It might work as an autopilot or autonomously take control of a turret and fire at an enemy target. This feature is crucial in multi-crew ships where the pilot might assign specific activities to the AI modules instead of another player or NPC.

      The System Design team continued working on the Air Traffic Control system, adding conversations with the traffic controller and a smart system for allocating landing pads for pilots wanting to land or take off.
      They also updated all our doors to Item 2.0, which now makes them modular and a lot easier to implement. These changes included switchable loadouts for each door, the ability to connect two rooms so air can travel between them and provide the functionality needed for new systems that are already in the works such as breaching, hacking. They also started reworking airlocks so they work better with the room and atmospheric systems.
      The team also did some very rough prototyping work on dynamic advertising which will contextually fill in the in-game panels/screens throughout stations with content that is reflecting the interests of the player that enters its proximity. The same system could be used for showing large scale broadcasts and warnings throughout the universe based on what is happening in the game at that specific moment, either globally or locally.

      Our Lead lighting artist Chris Campbell continued work on the surface outposts (particularly on the habitation sets) and coordinated with the UK Environment Art team to stay in sync with all their updates to assets and dressing.
      Another issue Lighting has been trying to solve for 3.0 is how to improve the amount of visibility on the dark side of the moons. Previously, without any interest objects in the sky, the planet surface would be far too dark since it would have to rely solely on cubemaps, therefore the player wouldn’t be able to see any detail in the environment. Chris worked with the engineers to add another layer of atmospheric glow and irradiance which allowed us to brighten the atmosphere, giving a nice gradient that shows the shape of the horizon and some depth in front of the player. The irradiance provides a base level of brightness on the actual surface geometry, so the player can faintly see themselves as well as the surface around them. Finally, he’s also been providing support for S42 environment lighting and setting visual benchmarks for the levels.

      The Engine Team implemented the initial version of our new IO scheduler which will improve performance by only streaming in textures, meshes, sounds, etc that are being used to stay within a memory budget. Eventually, it will also allow the job manager to better utilize CPU cores in cases where streaming jobs are waiting for IO. Moreover, it will lay the groundwork for a version of the scheduler specifically designed for SSD drives to exploit their superior random disc access properties that will allow for multiple concurrent data streams with high throughput. All in all, this ensures all data is available in time for complex scenes to render without having to wait for LODs and all the related artifacts. Meanwhile the incremental patcher moved into initial internal QA testing. As previously discussed, this system will deliver builds incrementally to devs and gamers alike, so every time you update the game you’ll only need to download what has actually changed or been added since the last time rather than the entire build which will make the update process much faster.
      We also revived our internal memory analysis tools for Linux to help find and fix memory leaks on server instances much faster. Memory leaks are one of the contributing factors for server stability and we want them fixed as quickly as possible to make sure servers can run for a long time without issues.
      On the rendering side, the team made several improvements to the atmosphere and night skies as mentioned in the lighting update. The night side of planets and moons now exhibit more details due to scattered moonlight and a visible sky gradient in the distance when close to the terrain surface. They also looked into additional improvements for stronger ground-based haze to further increase visual cues for scene readability and continued working on the Object Container streaming (SolEd as well as PlanEd) and the rewrite of the living entity code is on track.

      The Environment art team continued to work with the Level Designers on Levski’s exterior. Both art and design regularly work closely together to verify that the art is made in a way that doesn’t break any portion of the design. The last layout changes for Levski are coming in and the set dressing pass is close to complete. The area around Levski is also being populated with slightly larger mining structures than what we previously had in. Since the Levski exterior has grown over the past few weeks, it’s also going through an optimization pass with the artists looking into reducing memory consumption wherever applicable and making each individual asset as efficient as possible.
      The terrain of Delamar was polished up and both the Assets and Rocks are all being finalized. The team also set up the specific asset scattering presets for the different ecosystem to populate the asteroid with defined objects.
      The overall Planet tech has gotten a couple of new features as well. The overall amount of materials that can be used on the terrain has increased significantly, therefore new materials are being created for the moons to make the surfaces even more diverse from one another. Along with that, the moons also got a performance boost by optimizing which assets are being drawn on the surface of the procedural entities at any given time.

      TECH ART
      The Tech Art team worked on multiple Mannequin tasks including animations for both usables and cinematics. In case you are unfamiliar, Mannequin is a tool within Lumberyard that allows us to construct complex interactive character animations. They also refined some of the pipeline tools by adding new features and fixing bugs to make them easier to use and more dependable. The team also prototyped a Vanduul weapon, started R&D on some Physical Simulation for weapons, and fixed some lingering bugs.

      Over the past month, the VFX team continued to work on the particle effects for the planets as well as implemented new animated decals. This now allows us to project certain animated textures onto objects, so it will follow the contours of those objects instead of having them on a flat plane that is roughly aligned to the surface. This helps integrate certain effects into the world a lot more efficiently and with a better result than what we could do previously.
      The VFX team also expanded this month. Our newest member will primarily focus on the large amount of cinematics work that needs to be done for Squadron 42, including soft and rigid body simulations as well as destruction particle effects and the scene setups that go along with it.

      This month, the FPS weapons team primarily focused on R&D efforts for weapons skins. They prototyped camouflage patterns, decals and material variations which will set us up for future weapon customization and allow us to quickly and easily create special one-off variants. The ship weapons artists are currently working on the Preacher Armament Distortion Scattergun S1 to S3 and started work on the Apocalypse Arms Ballistic Scattergun S1 to S3.

      This past month, the Cinematics team focused on a Pre-vis pipeline, with the goal of getting most of the cinematics into the game regardless of whether they are polished or rough. This will help Designers and directors get a better idea of the overall flow and pacing for the full playthrough of Squadron 42. They will be working closely with the Facial and audio team to get a representation of the full performances in the engine.
      They also worked with Kyle Moody from the UK to set up a small motion capture system setup in one of our common areas. These eleven OptiTrack cameras gave us a small capture volume of roughly three meters squared. The cinematics team will primarily use this setup to capture background characters for individual scenes as well as transition animations to help link animations that are not quit aligning. It can also be used to capture quick animations that we can use for outstanding R&D tasks for our Animation engineers, and save the animators some time. The system won’t be set up permanently, but once we have a small list of animations that we want, the team can set it up in about an hour and quickly get what they need.

      This month, the Game Programming team did a pass on improving the functionality of doors, then started working on airlocks. Both the doors and airlocks need to be simplified as much as possible and integrated with the latest changes of the Item 2.0 system.
      They also started planning the work needed for the improved Weapon System. That new system is based on the Item 2.0 system and will allow the designers to create a wider variety of weapons more easily. It will also address technical issues such as client-side-prediction and server authority. It’s still in the research phase and is a long-term effort however we’re confident that we’re on the right track and implementation can begin within the next few weeks. Finally, they added a few small features to the weapons such as the ability to have different muzzle flash effects or different vent effects based on the current fire mode.

      This month, the QA team welcomed their newest hire, John Lang, who quickly got up to speed and became a primary point of contact for any Game-Dev client issues in Frankfurt. He’s also been heavily involved in various system testing this month, such as the new Stamina System currently being worked on in both the Frankfurt and UK offices. Together with Glenn Kneale they were able to begin the initial testing pass in an effort to gather data for our game programmers to use for bug fixes and overall improvements to the system.
      The QA team also worked on testing the patcher, Editor, server connections, and the Star Citizen client using the new pak system in order to catch crashes and differences between builds pulled with the old patcher vs. the new patcher. This is an ongoing test that they perform daily to stay on top of any new issues that arise from build to build.
      Additionally, they also spent time testing various multiplayer issues for the Stanton System, which included moon collision testing. They worked extremely close with the engineers to test very specific things in very specific ways to get the data that the engineers are after. The engineers then take those findings to work out fixes for issues and also to improve things such as stability and memory usage.

      This month, the team’s main goal was to streamline some of the information about the game and make the entry point into Star Citizen better. We aren’t removing any content and RSI will remain the Hub for all Star Citizen development and the Star citizen community, but soon you will see some new designs to the site that will clarify and streamline information about Star Citizen the game, the development, the community and Squadron 42.
      Aside from Design, our content and UX team have been hard at work with the creation of a new player guide. We have been working closely with CIG Player Relations, QA, Marketing and Production departments to consolidate information and generate a guide for new players. This is not an easy task because it’s not easy to identify what we call the “must knows” for the new players. Since the game is in alpha, the player guide will be designed as modular, changing as new patches are released to accommodate the ever-changing menus, UI and additional features. However, we are confident that the work we are doing will support new citizens and further expand our community.
      Keep your eyes open for the exciting new site launch.

      Summer is here and the community team has been busy supporting the 3.0 push. May was the busiest month for Bar Citizens ever, with events happening around the world from Boston to Perth, Berlin to Oklahoma City just to name a few. Bar Citizen is a great way to get to know your fellow Citizens, so keep your eyes peeled for one happening near you.
      This month on our dedicated community show, Citizens of the Stars, Todd Papy answered the highest voted Quantum Questions, Big JR made a life-sized Artex GSS replica and we had great community guests including Karmola, Alysianah, Captain Richard and Clifford aka Miku.
      Josh Herman joined us for another special episode of Happy Hour, in which he created another 3D creature for Star Citizen live for the community.
      We ran one of our most fun sales yet, revealing the Eclipse bomber as part of a UEE de-classification scene. The team had a whole lot of fun with social media, putting out little hints and teasers about the ship in the lead up to the reveal.
      Sandi spent some time in Austin this month for a Concierge Summit to work out how to better serve our backers. The project they’ve been working on is top secret, but expect to hear more about it soon.
      Our Subscribers helped test the Drake Buccaneer all this month, and it sounds like it’s in a good place right now. Next month, they’ll be flying the Caterpillar and anyone who subscribes is welcome to join. Subscribers also received the next item in their holographic flair set, a 3D model of the Icarus One station for their tables.
      And speaking of flair, we held a Subscriber Town Hall with members of the Star Citizen props team. The team answered plenty of subscriber questions about their work, and it was a rare opportunity for the community to meet the people making the universe feel lived in.
      That was it for the last month. To give you an idea of what to expect this month:
      Spectrum will receive a major update that will adds a myriad of new features, including Reddit-style threading and the return of ship forums.
      We’ve been spending some time behind the scenes working on the New Player Experience and learning how to best teach new Citizens how to fly. You’ll see the results of that work in the not-too-distant future.
      The team has also been busy planning Gamescom and CitizenCon, and we will have a date and further information to announce about CitizenCon shortly.


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      Spectrum Alpha 0.3.5 Live
      Today we are pleased to release the latest update to the Spectrum Alpha, 0.3.5. This update incorporates many new features that were requested by you, the Star Citizen community.
      View Modes
      You can now select your preference for how threads are sorted (hot, last-activity, top, new) in channels via the Settings. You can now select your preferred thread view mode (nested, classic) via the Settings. You can now select your preference for how thread replies are sorted (top, new, old) via the Settings. The forum category default sort setting has been removed and is replaced by a user-specific setting. The thread type chosen in previous Spectrum versions has been replaced by a user-specific setting pair (sort and view mode) Threads will now persist your preferred view mode and sort if you change it from your user-specific setting. Read State
      Spectrum now tracks if you read each reply in a thread and will display a yellow unread marker to indicate a reply you have never read. Tags
      A new forum category level setting allow you to enforce that threads must be created with a tag. You can now bookmark forum tags directly to your sidebar! You can now browse the tags available for each forum category and community index. Threads list will now indicate which threads contain posts made using tracked roles in that community (Staff posts will be marked in the SC public community) Bookmarks
      You can now edit your bookmark aliases by visiting the “Manage Bookmarks” view. Search
      New filters are now available to search by author and role within your communities.
      This is just another step in making Spectrum the best communication platform for the Star Citizen community.
      Click here to read the complete patch notes for 0.3.5

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    • Przez Nebthtet
      Chris Roberts and Sandi Gardiner host today’s episode, which features a UK studio update and part two of our feature on how Item 2.0 affects ships.
      And for info on becoming a subscriber, go to:
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    • Przez Nebthtet
      Senior Writer Will Weissbaum tours the Tayac System, which is home to The Ark. Find out how this system went from being a military black site to a bastion of education and diplomacy.
      Remember that you can always explore the Star Citizen Universe yourself in our web-based Ark Star Map.
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    • Przez Nebthtet
      HuXa Vote
      UEE Congress (397)
      2947-06-06 SET

      Session AutoScript
      Proofed and Admitted – Archivist Yates (#57573BDF)

      2947-06-06_15:21 – Session Begins
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Ladies and Gentlemen, now that the majority of you are finally here, let me start by saying that while I certainly understand the additional security measures take longer to navigate, it would be beneficial if all of you could adjust your schedule to arrive earlier rather than to presume that the session will be extended to accommodate any late arrivals. I very much hope that we can see our way to starting tomorrow on time. And in that spirit, I am happy to finally declare that we have a quorum and call this session to order. First on today’s docket is the Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative. I ask for unanimous consent for the vote on the motion to proceed. Is there any objection?
      SENATOR HIDEO UTO (C – Severus – Kiel Sys): Mr. Speaker?
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Senator Uto.
      SENATOR HIDEO UTO (C – Severus – Kiel Sys): Mr. Speaker, in light of the recent shameful attacks perpetrated against Imperator Costigan and out of respect to those involved, I move to postpone the pending vote until after we have had a chance to conclude the ongoing investigation into the occurrences of May 30th.
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): Point of clarification.
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): The chair recognizes Senator Glenn.
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would the honorable senator from Kiel care to explain why the recent horrific attack should impede this distinguished body voting on a trade initiative?
      SENATOR HIDEO UTO (C – Severus – Kiel Sys): I’d be happy to. It seems highly likely by the timing of this attack that it was at least in part motivated by HuXa and in fact, could potentially be an attempt to influence this very issue. Until we understand the full scope of such implications, would it not be wise to allow prudence to carry the day?
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): Let me see if I understand, Senator Uto. Because the atrocious actions taken against Imperator Costigan may have been designed to influence the vote on HuXa, you are suggesting that we delay said vote to prove that they in fact did have an influence?
      SENATOR HIDEO UTO (C – Severus – Kiel Sys): I object to your oversimplification.
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): And I object to you trying to leverage fear and rumor-mongering into political gain.
      SENATOR HIDEO UTO (C – Severus – Kiel Sys): You have no right to stand there and —
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): The fact is that we have no official report detailing the motives of these assailants. As far as we know they were as likely to be striking a blow for Terran independence as they were for —
      SENATOR MIRA NGO (T – Terra – Terra Sys): That is outrageous. Where do you get off accusing Terra of —
      SENATOR TRACEY GLENN (U – Saisei – Centauri Sys): Sorry, that was a poor example. I withdraw the statement. I simply meant to —
      [ gavel banging ]
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Enough. I know things have been tense this past week, but that is no excuse for this lack of decorum. Now, I believe your point was clarified, Senator Glenn. Unless anyone else has anything to add, I move to close the discussion. All in favor of the motion to postpone?
      [ vote ]
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): The nays carry it. Motion denied. Let us proceed. Senator McCain, as sponsor of the initiative, you have the floor.
      SENATOR WILL McCAIN (U – Cestulus – Davien Sys): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask for consent to grant speaking privileges to a special guest, Imperator Costigan.
      [ surprised murmurs ]
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Without objection.
      IMPERATOR COSTIGAN: I apologize for the theatrics involved in my appearance here today. I know it is traditional for an Imperator to more formally announce intent to speak to the Senate, as I did many weeks ago when I had the distinct pleasure of first introducing the Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative. However, my security team decided it was best for the time being if my schedule were kept a bit more under wraps, so I ask for your indulgence as I come before you.
      When Ambassador Coso first began the negotiations that would result in the drafting of this deal, it was with two specific goals in mind. The first was to help ensure the continued economic growth of the Empire through trade. The second was to help ensure the Empire’s continued peace along our Xi’an borders through improved economic relations. I firmly and unequivocally believe that the Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative accomplishes both these aspirations and more.
      We all know too well the cost of war. Right now as we speak, the brave men and women of our armed forces are nobly struggling to end the Vanduul threat, but not all threats we must face come from outside. Stagnation and close-mindedness are just as likely as any war to bring all we’ve built to an end. Humanity saw what living in fear was like under the Messers and Humanity said no. When Senator Akari signed the Xi’an peace treaty in 2789 it was a first step forward out of the darkness. Today, the UEE is ready to take the next. By expanding trade relations with the Xi’an we will be expanding our potential not only economically, but as a people. But do not mistake moving forward as running ahead blindly. The Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative is a careful, measured step. Under this agreement, our Citizens’ security remains not only intact, but strengthened thanks to the additional revenue estimated to be generated. Our Citizen’s livelihoods will be equally protected, thanks to the fair and balanced terms of the agreement that will see us share growth and mutual prosperity with the Xi’an. There’s an old Earth aphorism that I keep going to, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” The time has come for our two cultures to stop holding each other back and instead raise each other higher than ever before.
      Thank you all for allowing me this chance to speak. Our actions here today will help shape Humanity’s future for centuries to come and I don’t think it could be in better hands. I return the floor to you, Senator McCain.
      SENATOR WILL McCAIN (U – Cestulus – Davien Sys): Thank you, Imperator Costigan, for sharing your vision with us and for your fortitude in light of last week’s savage attempt on your life. It is a stark reminder that while there is no denying that the Empire has a long history of violence, it is up to all of us to aspire to something greater. I implore you all to vote yes for the Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative. I yield the floor.
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): The Senator from Earth?
      SENATOR VICTOR SKOVIRA (C – Earth – Sol Sys): Thank you. Allow me to say that it is a pleasure to see you in this chamber once again, Imperator Costigan. My thoughts go to the families of those who lost their lives in the attack. Now, I don’t want to waste everyone’s time by rehashing the well-argued positions that have been put forth by my colleagues over the last several weeks, but I would be remiss if I did not remind all of you what it is that is at stake here today. With the Vanduul waging relentless war along our border, with merciless outlaws terrorizing innocent Citizens every day and, as we were reminded all too well last week, with assassins daring to strike at the very heart of our Empire, it is clear to me that our vigilance must never waiver if we wish to persevere.
      The Xi’an are not like us. They are the definition of alien. All of them — from their lowliest criminal to the head of their mightiest house — all work for the glory of Emperor Kr.ē — the same glorious leader whose suspicions and distrust kept us on the brink of war for centuries. Are we to forget the lessons of the past just because some of us are distracted by the promise of a supposed bright, shiny future? While I agree that a position of peace with the Xi’an is far stronger than one of aggression, I am not convinced that intertwining our economies is in our best interest. This so-called trade deal only trades one thing as far as I’m concerned. It exchanges our security and our sovereignty for … well to be honest, I am not perfectly sure for what. Credits and economic growth is what they want you to think, but I fear that what we hope to gain is nothing compared to what we are posed to lose if HuXa passes. My vote is no. Mr. Speaker, I yield.
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): If there are no further motions before the Senate?
      SENATOR RACHEL LESTER (T – Vann – Croshaw Sys): Mr. Speaker, I request a brief recess.
      SPEAKER MARSHALL MADRIGAL (U – Borea – Magnus Sys): Very well, as I see we still have several stragglers arriving through security, fifteen minutes recess granted. The vote on Human-Xi’an Trade Initiative will proceed once we’re back in session.
      [ gavel bang ]
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