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Star Citizen: Patch 1.2 veröffentlicht – Social Module

Für Star Citizen wurde nun der Patch 1.2 inklusive dem „Social Module“ veröffentlicht. Dieses ist der erste Schritt zum persistenten Universum.

Patch 1.2 veröffentlicht – Social Module

Star Citizen teilt sich in diverse Module auf. Dazu gehört beispielsweise der Arena Commander, oder aber auch Squadron 42. Das persistente Universum, welches stetig erweitert und endlos ist, ist dabei das größte Modul.

RSI PosterCIG zu Patch 1.2 veröffentlicht (Quelle)

The Social Module

By: Tony Zurovec

Star Citizen is comprised of two fundamental pillars. Squadron 42, a single-player experience, is story-driven and linear in its progression. The Persistent Universe, on the other hand, is completely open-ended. You’ll have free reign to travel wherever you want within a huge, incredibly detailed galaxy filled with places to explore, challenging situations, an endless stream of diverse mission types, and hundreds of thousands of other players and AI characters.

The Social Module – which has been undergoing testing in the Public Test Universe for the last several days, and which will be released to the general community starting today – is the first basic component of the Persistent Universe to come online. As such, I wanted to take a few moments to explain exactly what it is, why we’re releasing it, and how it fits within the longer-term schedule of the Persistent Universe.

The Social Module allows you to select from any of half a dozen character configurations and explore the first of many planetary landing zones – ArcCorp’s Area 18 – with up to 24 other players. You can communicate with other players via a chat system, and express yourself via a variety of different emotes. An augmented reality display system allows you to view additional information about various objects in the environment, including the names of other players. A number of retail shops can be inspected, although they’re not yet open for business.

There are three primary reasons for the existence of the Social Module. First and foremost, we wanted to open up a bit more of the Star Citizen universe to the community, and allow people to get a sense as to what some of the various cities you’ll be able to visit will look like. We also wanted to allow people to be able to gather together within the actual game and engage in real-time discussions – associating animating characters with speakers – rather than having to predominantly rely upon the message forums and the web chat, which equates to a far less personal experience.

The second major objective of the Social Module is to serve as a testing ground for a multitude of fundamental technologies. We’ll be gathering detailed information on a number of different fronts based upon what we see and using that to improve the game. The networking back-end, in particular, has advanced tremendously since the beginning of the year, and stress testing it now requires fairly large numbers of concurrent players. While we’re only exposing a small amount of actual functionality with this release, what’s going on behind the scenes is far more complex. An intricate dance of network services and systems controls everything from the way that new servers are spun up, registered, and told how to configure themselves. GIM – the Generic Instance Manager – and a host of related programs have been designed to support large numbers of simultaneous players, and determine everything from the server to which you’ll be routed to how chat messages are efficiently propagated. There have also been dramatic improvements to what I refer to as the low-latency network functionality – the code that is responsible for how efficiently information is passed between clients and the server, and which is one of the primary determinants with regard to how many players and NPCs we’ll be able to put onto a given server. Whereas only a couple of months ago fifteen players would absolutely bottleneck a server, the network is now a complete non-issue with twenty-five. Improved animation blending, interpolation, and prediction now renders characters far more smoothly, even on busy servers. All of these features have been tested internally and refined, but we’re now at the point where we need to see how things perform when exposed to a much larger audience. The really exciting thing in this area, though, is that there are still a number of major network performance optimizations in the works, such as event-based animation synchronization and more advanced dead reckoning. Needless to say we’ll be needing your help to test ever larger player counts in the not-too-distant future.

The last major reason for the existence of the Social Module is the most important with regard to the future. It’s intended to serve as the basic foundation upon which new pieces of the Persistent Universe will be periodically unveiled. That, in turn, brings me to my final point…. What can you expect to see from the Persistent Universe going forward?

The Future

The Persistent Universe will be moving to a more frequent release schedule, with the idea being to routinely put new functionality into your hands to enjoy, provide feedback, and help us verify how well certain systems are performing. One important point to note here is that there is a lot of work involved in releasing something that’s at such an early stage in its development, as no game smoothly proceeds throughout the entire development cycle. At any given moment, there are typically a variety of systems that are in completely different states – some having only recently been started, and many being in the middle of having new functionality inserted. Locking down the code base to ensure that everything is in an acceptable state for release to the public takes considerable time and effort. Thus, there is absolutely a real cost to releasing updates. For that reason, the next half dozen or so Persistent Universe releases will be considerably more focused upon giving you exposure to new features and ensuring that what we need to get feedback upon or tested is included, and less about trying to give a truly comprehensive sense of the gameplay. To some degree, that will limit the expense of releasing more frequent versions – minimize the impact to the long-term schedule. In practice, this means that, for example, when the AI finally makes an appearance you’ll see a fair sampling of character behaviors, but the focus will be upon stress testing the underlying Subsumption, animation, and networking systems, and less about trying to give a particularly accurate sense of what a final city will truly feel like. In essence, then, you will often see some basic functionality appear before we really attempt to go “wide” with the implementation. The appearance of new features will be fairly abrupt, but the full exploitation of those systems will arrive more gradually.

As has been noted elsewhere, Star Citizen’s code base split back in March when Star Marine – the FPS module – was targeted for release. The main development branch is called GameDev, whereas Star Marine’s was referred to as 1.2.0. Star Marine’s subsequent delay led to those two streams gradually growing apart, and a considerable delta now exists. The new back-end network service architecture was needed to ensure a smoother launch for Star Marine, and therefore all of the recent development and refinement was done in the 1.2.0 branch. This wasn’t supposed to be an issue for the Social Module because after Star Marine was launched GameDev and 1.2.0 were slated to be re-integrated, and the Social Module was to launch from there. With Star Marine’s latest postponement, though, the decision was made to flip the release dates and allow the Social Module to go out the door – something that the Persistent Universe group has been wanting to do for quite some time.

The re-integration of the two disparate branches has already started. Once that’s complete, subsequent updates to the Social Module will have access to other code that we developed earlier this year in the GameDev stream, as well as a number of major graphical and spatial partitioning optimizations done by other studios that should make Area 18 look and run quite a bit better than it already does.

Persistence

The next major deliverable for the Persistent Universe will be called Persistence. Its namesake feature won’t generate much in the way of immediate visual rewards, but it’s an absolutely crucial part of the underlying massively multiplayer technology. It will involve everything from communicating with the web platform so that purchased items are converted into actual game items, database abstraction layers and caching functionality, integration with a new global entity ID system that will allow the seamless transition of items from one server to another, and deep integration into various parts of the game server. Ultimately, this update will enable objects to begin to retain state, which sounds simple but – in the context of a massively multiplayer game with seamless transitions between servers – is actually quite involved. Shared hangars will come online and grant you the ability to invite others back to your private hangar. You’ll be able to more easily jump into simulated games together…and eventually head out as a group into space. The Casaba Outlet store in the main Area 18 courtyard will be opened up, and you’ll see quite a few more visual upgrades to the city, especially in the realm of store facades and the main Astro Armada building. Players that previously purchased memberships in the Million Mile High Club – and their invited friends – will gain access to private lounges accessible from their hangar elevator. Additional emotes will be unveiled, with the intent being to really ramp up the variety and allow players to start to really express themselves in the way that they want. The chat system will be dramatically enhanced, with private conversations, the ability to ignore other players, and a much more robust user interface made available. The maximum player count will rise, with the goal being at least forty players in a given server instance. There’s a lot more that will be going on under the hood, including a massive update of the Hub Service that acts as the intermediary between your client application and all of the back-end services, and a considerable enhancement to the communications layer on the game servers. A lot of work will also, of course, be getting done in areas that won’t be exposed until subsequent milestones arrive.

It is possible that Persistence will be split into two separate releases. The rationale is that once we’re back into GameDev we’ll be very close to being able to improve upon some of the basic features of the existing Social Module, and thus we might try to push an update out as soon as possible rather than wait for everything desired to be completed.

Shops

Following Persistence will come the Shopping release. It will allow a variety of items to be purchased in the Area 18 shops, including clothing so that you can begin the process of customizing your character. This update will devote considerable attention to the entirety of the shopping experience, including the augmented reality and mobiGlas interfaces, product delivery options, and how things like the medical scanner and healing apparatus in the hospital function. This release will also ensure that things like the product selection, pricing, and quantities available are connected to the appropriate back-end systems, which is a necessary step to eventually allowing such things to be impacted in real-time by the actions of players and NPCs. As will typically be the case, there will again be a lot of work expended in areas that are either improving the basic foundation – like a streamlined user interface programming architecture – or that won’t be ready for release until a bit later, such as facial customization. I’d expect a few surprises with regard to the types of things that you can purchase…and use…in Area 18 with this release.

Subsumption

The next major update will be Subsumption, which will showcase some of the hard work that’s been going into the development of systems that will allow us to construct environments filled with intelligent NPCs going about their business and that really feels alive. We’ll be aiming to deliver a completely new environment – Nyx – with that release as well. Final Frontier will follow and enable you and your friends to accept some simple missions while planetside and then head out into space together to accomplish them. Quantum will unveil the full-blown solar system navigation map and allow easy access to any part of the current system, including cities on three other Stanton planets: Hurston, Microtech, and Crusader.

More details will be provided on these updates as they get closer, but that’s the basic roadmap for the near future. In between the major releases it’s quite possible that you’ll see smaller revisions since delivering content becomes far easier as more and more of the underlying foundation comes online. While there’s still a tremendous amount of work to do, the clouds are finally starting to part and the stars are coming into view….

Star Citizen Patch 1.2

Star Citizen Patch 1.2 and the Social Module have been released to live! This patch provides access to our first multiplayer planet side environment, ArcCorp’s Area18 landing zone, with all the scenic vistas our team has been hard at work on. This will also include our first iteration of our augmented reality system, emotes and chat system.

Hangar Module

Additions:

Gameplay

  • The main elevator is now active for all pilot hangars and will allow access to our multiplayer ArcCorp module.
    • For Selfland, Revel & York, and Aeroview Hangars, you can find the elevator through the double-doors directly behind your character when spawning into the central bay. Once inside, the elevator to ArcCorp is located on your right.
    • For VFG Industrial Hangar, you can find the double-doors underneath the platform where your character spawns, across from any ship you currently have in the central bay. Once you’ve passed through the double doors, the elevator to ArcCorp is located on your right.
  • During this testing phase of the social module and ArcCorp, characters will now appear in one of six random gear loadouts when they spawn into the Hangar. You can only swap between the six loadouts in the Hangar, via the “F6” key.
    • The available loadouts are Marine Light, Medium, Heavy and Outlaw Light, Medium, Heavy.
  • Whatever loadout a character is wearing when they travel to ArcCorp will be retained for the rest of that play session.

User Interface

  • The screenshot keybind has been moved to “Print Screen”. “F12” is now the toggle for the chat interface.

Balance/Tweaks:

Gameplay

  • Transition animations for moving between standing, crouch and idle have received some minor improvement for a smoother and more realistic experience.
  • Jump animations have received some minor improvements for a smoother experience.

Fixes:

Ships

  • Fixed a collision issue with the Origin M50 Interceptor that allowed players to see into the ships cockpit from the outside and potentially become stuck.
  • Fixed an issue with the Vanduul Glaive, where the hands of the pilot would not always connect properly with the ship handles and interior components when entering or exiting the ship.
  • Fixed an issue with the beds in the Cutlass Black, where your character would teleport outside of the ship when trying to lay down in the starboard bed.

Environment

  • A number of collision issues that were allowing characters to clip out of the Revel & York hangar have been resolved.
  • A number of collision issues that were allowing characters to clip out of the VFG Industrial Hangar have been resolved.

User Interface

  • Fixed an issue where graphics in the game options menu would occasionally overlap with each other.

Arena Commander Module:

Fixes:

Gameplay

  • Fixed an issue in Arena Commander where hosts were not always being removed from the Lobby when they left the match.
  • Fixed an issue in Arena Commander where the host of a game would sometimes not be able to cancel their search due to matchmaking crashing.
  • Fixed an issue in Arena Commander where players could be put into a broken lobby if the matchmaking service crashed while they were in a game.
  • The HUD colors on the Avenger, Gladiator, Hornet (all variants) and Cutlass (all variants) have been updated to be consistent.
  • Fixed an issue where the countermeasure interface on the Mustang HUD (all variants) would overlap with other UI elements.
  • Fixed an issue where the Vanduul Glaive designated “Tank” at the end of Tutorial Chapter 6 would sometimes become immortal.

Social Module

Additions:

Gameplay

  • Our first multiplayer planet side environment, the ArcCorp Area 18 Landing Zone, is now available for testing.
    • During this testing phase where players will have a shared ‘spawn’ location, player collision is disabled on ArcCorp.
  • The first areas available to explore in ArcCorp include:
    • ArcCorp Customs area.
    • Medical Bay.
    • JobWell, sponsored by the Trade and Development Division of ArcCorp.
    • G~Loc Bar.
    • Astro-Armada.
    • Dumper’s Depot.
    • Cubby Blast.
  • Some areas of ArcCorp are not yet available during this initial launch. Some of those intentionally off-limits include:
    • The Casaba Outlet.
    • The Medical Bay Emergency Room.
    • The ArcCorp landing pad.
    • The elevator to the second floor of Astro-Armada.
    • The firing range at Cubby Blast.
  • You can return to your Hangar when you’re done exploring ArcCorp, via the transport elevator in ArcCorp customs that you originally arrived in. You can also leave via the “Return to Hanger” button in the game menu.
  • Our first set of fully animated emotes are now available for players to use in ArcCorp and the Hangar.
    • Emotes can be used in the chat UI by typing “/” followed by the emote. Some emotes also have multiple variations, which you can use by adding a number at the end of the emote command.
    • Example: /cheer4
    • The full list of available emotes and their variations can be viewed in the chat interface, via the “?” button.
  • Augmented Reality is now available for players to test in ArcCorp. You can access this new functionality via the “F2” key.
    • In this initial release, Augmented Reality will allow you to see character name plates as well as information on shop items in ArcCorp.
  • Our chat interface has launched and is now available for players to use in both ArcCorp and the Hangar. You can bring up the chat interface via “F12”.
  • Players can now chat in our first channel (designated Local at the moment).
    • The chat channels are phased by instance. Each individual Hangar, ArcCorp Instance and Arena Commander Instance have their own chat channel.
  • The Left Alt key + “G” allows you to orbit your camera, so you can view your character from multiple angles which is shared between the multiplayer ArcCorp and single player Hangar.

Known Issues:

Gameplay

  • Character collision will sometimes disable within ArcCorp, particularly in and around customs.
  • Character animations will sometimes desync between clients.

Ships

  • Characters will appear hanging outside of the bottom of the Gladiator if they enter the ship and sit down in the pilots seat, or if they die and respawn.
  • When respawning in the Gladiator, the player will spawn inside the body of the ship.

Character

  • The “Heavy Outlaw” load out currently has a hole between the neck and chest armor.

User Interface

  • The chat interface cannot be resized at this time.
  • Social Module elevator UI will incorrectly display “Connection Failed” instead of a “Server Full” message.
  • Augmented Reality text will sometimes not display other characters names.

Technical

  • Clients can sometimes get stuck on a loading screen if they are connected to a instance that no longer exists.

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