Star Citizen – Year Four

Main Star Citizen – Year Four

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    Another more technical discussion for those interested in such things. Let me explain as best I can this world building issue.

    1) Take a piece of paper
    2) Draw a box and imagine each side of that box is 8km. You now have a box that is 64 sq. km
    3) Divide that box into 4 equal sections with each side ends up being 4km. This is a zone within the scene. You now have 4 of them
    4) Put an x anywhere inside each box and call them x1, x2, x3, x4. Do this such that x1 is top-left, x3 is bottom-right

    The max “map/scene” size in CryEngine3 is 8km x 8km or 64 sq. km

    Imagine (regardless of whether or not you keep the 1:1 scaling) trying to fit the larger ships in there and having them fly around with enough space.

    The Javelin is 345m long, while the Idris-P is 240m long. More info on the ships.

    That’s the problem that Star Citizen has.

    5) Now draw a bigger rectangle (not a box) around the larger box such that the left side (h) is 200 km and the bottom side (w) is 5K km

    You now have a rect (map/scene) that is 1m sq. km. Note that we’re disregarding z-depth atm. But even if it were factored in, it would probably be no less than w (5K km)

    6) Put an x anywhere inside each box and call them x5, x6, x7, x8. Do this such that x5 is top-left, x7 is bottom-right

    So that brings us to this…

    Regardless of whether or not they use 32-Bit or 64-Bit world positioning, they can’t exceed the max map size of the engine without super-extensive modifications. And even if they did that, they still have one massive problem: the physics engine

    I don’t believe that they’ve done this. It would be absolutely insane and time consuming to do that. Plus, for a space combat game, it would have no benefit. Elite Dangerous did it because right off the bat, they built a game engine from the ground up to do just that.

    What I believe they’ve done is what Chris has been hinting at and which most people (if you’re not a tech) keep missing. They’ve zoned it. As in shards it. Because that’s the easiest way to do it in any engine, especially CE3 without hassle. You still need 64-Bit positioning because you still need to calculate that accurately in a game whereby you want to keep everything in sync and accurate.

    From my diagram above since the inner box is within the extents of the engine, you’re not going to have position precision issues as long as you don’t get too close to the 8km edge. But for a space game, 64 sq. km is woefully inadequate. Unless you’re in a close combat shooter like Arena Commander or the mission based SQ42 which can design missions to keep players within these world constraints. For Star Citizen, nah, not gonna work.

    They don’t use jump gates or anything (more on this below) of the sort (like I did in my massive world games, Battlecruiser 3000AD / Universal Combat) to link these zones. They wanted it all to be seamless and appear as one big open space.

    So, you are going to need 64-Bit positioning precision to avoid problems with objects outside of the 8km range; especially in an open world game that gives all the interactions that Chris has promised.

    And if they went with doubles (yikes!) the performance and problems with physics alone, are going to be headaches from start to finish (?). If they didn’t, then my post about them cheating with a hack, is probably what they’ve done; as they would have no choice but to calculate positions of objects in the world based on the player’s current camera viewpoint location.

    Even so, at a 5K km range, they are going to have to use logarithmic Z which gives them a significantly higher level of precision in the Z buffer in order to alleviate visual anomalies which we have been seeing in the PTU 2.0 builds.

    Again, I do *not* believe that they’ve made such extensive revisions to CE3 that they can now build *single* scenes of up to 5K km per side, up from 8km. Not only would that be insane (when you can just zone it all), but all the existing regions would need to be redone because re-sizing it in the editor will completely screw up the pre-existing object positions and introduce a whole new set of problems. It would be a lot of work to redo the maps. Then again, considering how many things they’ve had to do over, they may have done just that. Plus they only had one anyway.

    So, assuming they’ve zoned it, the end result is that object x1 moving to the position of x5 is going to seamlessly transition from it’s own zone (assume it to be less than 8km on any side) into that zone causing that new zone to be loaded. It’s like two mat pieces being stitched together. And since this is space – with not that many objects to handle – the loading times are negligible. Crashes can/will happen at this point btw. Especially since it appears (I monitored it in a test I ran yesterday) that they are in fact streaming in the zones.

    And transitioning between these streamed zones is what they are referring to as “jump tunnels”.

    In order to even do what I think they’ve done, they would’ve had to do something called “world origin rebasing” (look it up). You use this to shift the player’s world origin position as closer to the camera as possible when it’s too far from the current world origin where precision loss tends to cause problems. A combination of this and zone streaming is what they may be doing as it allows them to build this massive world with the appearance of it being one seamless piece as shown in their starmap.

    I know that UE4 has it (they don’t recommend using it for multiplayer games without writing a custom server solution), but I’m not sure that CE3 does. And I’m not sure why it would. Here is a discussion from earlier this year about large seamless worlds in CE3.

    Which brings me to the issue of borders.

    A few people have actually hit a literal brick wall going in one direction that took them to the world extents of the zone. If this were one massive universe that is 1m km sq. that should never happen. In my games, the way I handle this is I have a region called a “null zone”. As soon as you breach the boundaries of the world – usually by some fluke – you enter in world the same size as the one you left, but with nothing in it other than a jump anomaly that brings you back to known space. I built it like a Russian doll puzzle. No brick walls.

    Hope this helps those who are genuinely interested in the complexities of building massive worlds like this and the challenges presented.

    ps: Is it an MMO or not?


    Posted here for posterity, as year four (if you go with the 2012 start date) draws to a close with neither Star Citizen nor Squadron 42 being released.

    A lot is lost in the noise. But if you go back to my blogs and comments (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) about this, specifically where I said that their 64-Bit positioning was bullshit and will wreak all kinds of havoc (which it is still doing) in the end, you will find that is precisely what has happened.

    I also stated – clearly – that Gamescom/CitizenCon 2015 were all smoke and mirrors, that neither Star Citizen nor SQ42 would see the light of day in 2016 etc. There is a long list of my predictions sitting squarely in my blogs. That’s why I write them so that the history isn’t lost in the noise.

    It is now Sept 2016, and there is NOTHING that has happened since Gamescom/CitizenCon 2015 that even remotely looks like a fucking “game”. It is still a glorified CryEngine mod masquerading as a tech demo. And not even a vertical slice at that.

    Sure they’re trying to make a game. But that’s not the point. It was never – ever – the point. The point was that they are wasting money trying to make a game they simply CANNOT make; and which I stated back in July 2015, couldn’t be made, once it was over-scoped.

    All they are doing is finding ways to make money (e.g. the stunt they just pulled at Gamescom 2016 with a staged/scripted demo, and which sources are claiming will never make it into the game) in order to prolong the inevitable disaster that is now fermenting. That’s the logic behind the ship and concept sales, as well as the implementation of an in-game clothing (!) store, even as they don’t have a mission quest, mining, trading or any vital GAMEPLAY elements promised. Currently, what passes for missions, is the same ganky flipping a switch bullshit, coupled with AI generated pirate ship fodder. And that’s been in there since Q4/2015. Meantime, they’re now showing grabby hands cargo manipulation (which btw, they showcased back in 2014!) whereby a designer really thinks that players are going to be manually hauling fucking boxes in the name of realism – because that’s somehow fun.

    With year five (or four, if you give them a 1yr pass to get their shit in gear) coming to a close, every aspect of the tech demo, is flat-out broken. All of it. And the saddest thing? There is NOTHING innovative or ground-breaking about ANY of it. The novelty of waking up in a wank pod, going to a ship, running to a platform, hoping your ship is there, then getting in – all in fps mode – is over and done with. Heck, even COD:IW is doing that now. And besides the wank pod part, I’ve been doing it in LOD since 2011 – almost one year into development.

    Go ahead and ask anyone (Shitizen or not) to point out ONE single innovative thing about Star Citizen, and which has somehow justified $120 million of crowd-funding.

    If the schedule seems haphazard, it’s because it is; as they are – in between the blatant cash grab – basically just going through a check-list in order to probably justify an MVP as a vertical slice in order to avoid liability in the long term. In software, there is zero liability if you deliver a product that doesn’t function as expected. As long as you deliver. That’s why companies like Sony, WB et al get hit in the media (and on Steam), and rarely does legal action comes out of it. Look at what’s happening to NMS, then compare to the Batman game, Aliens Colonial Marines etc. It’s a cycle; and Star Citizen is going to end up right there with them – but it will be worse since this was crowd-funded. Unfortunately for them, some of the promises (e.g. the size of the world) made for Star Citizen aren’t just going to get waved off and implemented from a check list.

    I have repeatedly said that I have my own selfish reasons for NOT wanting to see them fail. But denial is not a river in Egypt; and so hostilities (they started it!) aside, cheering them on when, as a tier 1 engineer I know the game can’t be built as pitched, is the sort of bullshit that Shitizens are made from.


    Yup, totally called it. So someone in the PU managed to reach the edge of the game world.

    MDrake SC

    Another anniversary sale comes. Not only is the 2.0 limited to just 1,000 people for now, they have to make a 7 day sale event for at least 26 ships…

    A lot of those ships for sale are still pure JPEGs. At least 10 have oldish models, and 5 are flyable. People who are addicted to this yearly sale event, and still keep buying stuff, kinda disgust me.

    And hurray for a $350 repair ship? Such pretty artwork showing off the repair gameplay design-dreamcrap. Materials, reconstruction, stripping, patching… All of this dreamcrap. Would it be better to just call it feature creep?

    Just more promises to go into the ditch with more “soon.” But wait, that means that JPEGS are not alone in enlightening people to give away money. All of these “complex” gameplay design “documents” are the secondary sales tool. Sure, the JPEGs need ships, but the ships “sometimes” need a document to convince folks that they are worth $350, or whatever price. And maybe a video for transparency-other-people-are-working.

    Enlightened with documents. Cleansed in transparency. Blessed by JPEGs.

    Zyll Goliath

    Well that CIRCUS from the last night proved that CIG avoid to show to the public actual Game-Play in the 2.0 as they didn’t change current Flight Mechanics at all,even worst seems that they implemented Interactive mode to ALL controller options,yeah joystick now has Interactive Mode so that You can Move your Crosshair the same way as with the Mouse.So that’s should be an improvement that CIG was promising for so long to the backers?Now seem that the game is even more aim-centered,as CR always wanted it to be a fucking First person shooter in space yeah that’s right remember him what he said about the Freelancer controls if you don’t let me remind you by quoting him CR:”The final mouse controls, while good, weren’t the ones that I saw in my head I imagined the game being like a FPS, but in space and having the same level of shooting precision”-Well I guess he finally nailed his wishes from the past I just can’t get it Why CIG even bother to implemented the complex damage system if people are going to play this crap like almost as any FPS game out there?
    And yeah seems that the forces of the White Knights pushing the buttons and trying to stop desperately anyone that mention “gizmondo money laundry connection” on others forums which for me clearly indicates that something is really fishy in there…….


    Yeah, it’s precisely what most of us expected. Just another money grab. You’d think that they would have done a demo of all the stuff Chris mentioned was going to be in 2.0. Thing is, he didn’t say when it was all going to be in there. Just that it was going to be. And given all the crashes from those who got it, it is understandable why didn’t show anything live.

    And two of my contacts got the invite and so far, neither one of them has seen even 5% of what Chris said was going to be in 2.0.

    SJ Parkinson

    I’ve been following the Star Citizen debate for almost a year now. I’m not a backer, I missed the KS and never signed up after. When I went to the CIG web site to do so, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when I saw the amounts of money that were being collected (after wildly exceeding their Kickstarter expectations).

    Yet, I was tempted to buy into SC after reading the glowing press and universal user enthusiasm. I hadn’t seen a single negative press column until WIRED posted one entitled, “Fans Have Dropped $77M on This Guy’s Buggy, Half-Built Game.” That was enough for me to hold off. My attitude was “deeds, not words” and all I saw was pretty commercials, videos and graphics. WIRED was wrong, the game wasn’t even half done. If they’d produced something tangible, I would have bought into it, but they never did.

    I saw it as a, ‘We can do this project through KS for $500K, we collected $2.1M and now we have $60.2M, but still need more’ situation. Meanwhile, Chris Roberts is saying he could do the game with the money already collected, but didn’t stop the fund raising. Huh? Elite: Dangerous (Frontier Developments), in the meantime, asked for £1.2M on KS, got £1.5M, released a finished game a year ago and will be releasing their V2.0 version in time for this Christmas without additional fund raising.

    I’d heard of ‘Derek Smart’ referenced in several hate filled forums on a few discussion sites. I’m a former game designer/producer myself and always try to make up my own mind so I looked him up. Instead of the horrific bile spitting monster I’d been told about, I found someone asking the same reasonable questions I was. His subsequent treatment (as described in blog posts here) for being inquisitive was way over the top and another indicator that something was wrong.

    I’m convinced Star Citizen is going to crash horribly. The TOS changes resetting refund conditions and minimizing CIG obligations tells any intelligent person there is trouble afoot. I can’t stop thinking that Chris Roberts and John Romero have a lot in common at this point.

    Now, if I’m wrong and Star Citizen comes out, I’ll happily change the above opinion and offer a sincere apology to all involved. However, Derek you’ve been asking the right questions to date and I applaud you for that. Keep it up. The need for transparency, stated delivery dates and financial responsibility in projects of this scale is a necessity. There are over a million investors in Star Citizen today and having reliable information about the state of the project is valuable.

    Keep asking those questions and thank you.

    Have a great weekend.

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