Star Citizen – Year Four

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      The jittering issue is not the most “damning criticism”. It’s about something they said they’ve spent the better part of one year addressing. That 64-Bit positioning issue was the Red flag that sparked my first blog this past July.

      So to me, as an engineer, it just tells me that they haven’t or can’t address it. Which means that, just like the whole Star Marine farce – which is still ongoing – it’s still another broken piece of architecture that’s either going to take awhile to address or they’re just going to say fuck it, then leave it broken. Just like Arena Commander, buggy buggies, buggy hangar, ArcCorp etc

      If you think this is trivial, ignore the jittering and just think about the massive z-fighting which is also a symptom of this problem with the custom engine they’ve building using CryEngine3 as base.

      Also, this is what they promised. All of it. For $95m+ thus far.

      …and they have yet to deliver even 10% of that.

      And what we’re seeing in this 2.0 release, despite it being in the PTU and not final release, is precisely what I predicted would happen back when they released the buggy social/planetside module.

      I have no confidence – none – that they will ever deliver the Star Citizen they promised. At least not in 2016. From what they just released to the PTU as 2.0, my estimation is still that this project is at least 2-3 years and another $75m (if they are frugal) away.

      If they survive 2016 long enough to deliver SQ42 EP1 (they promised 70 missions. lol!!) which they are now heavily pushing, my guess is that’s the good faith they’re now shooting for. Guess what? All existing backers are already entitled to it. And now it’s being sold separately for $45 to non-backers. Imagine then how those who have spent upwards of $30K on this project will feel when all they will have got is a half-baked Star Citizen and a SQ42 that others only paid $45 for.

      There is absolutely no fucking version of this where it ends well for anyone. Chris has completely and totally screwed this once promising project.


        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?

        Hyco Cam

          Only place to post peeves without getting bombarded, so here goes: The PTU. Back in 2012–there were 200,000 Alpha slots available. Nevermind that 200,000 alpha testers is batshit crazy. Fast forward a few stretch goals and another 50K alpha slots are added. A whopping 250K alpha testers. Many at the time doubted the wisdom of having a quarter of a million “testers”–the noise ratio would simply be too high. 250K seems more like stress test numbers than alpha.

          But hey that was 2012 and 2013. Before there was anything to test/play. Fast forward to 2015, and here we sit–brand new, playable tech released and only a handful get access? Apparently, there are multiple levels of “Alpha” tester. Subscribers, streamers, “upstanding” community members tend to be the Alphas of the alpha testers. Give to the more vocal. Stomp those that complain as being impatient and childish. Can’t think of a better way to build a cohesive community…

          I shudder at the community if this game ever does see the light of day as a single server MMO. Several large, all powerful groups run by slightly (ok, severely) unbalanced folks consumed by the game… Sign me up!


            Yup. And the reason they’ve been “stagger” releasing it is because they know they will get flooded with tech support issues, it will chew up a ton of very expensive server bandwidth – and too many people will experience all these issues and add to the noise.

            Last I checked, they had up to 16K in the PTU 2.0 now.

            MDrake SC

              Tech support issues… Yeah, more questions about this ship is too shiny. The seat is too low. The fish tank is too reflective.. Can we buy more fish to support SC? Why is this strut here?

              And server bandwidth… Chris loves his constant 20-30 GB patches. Just one reason people are not playing.

              More excuses for them to ignore refund emails. They have still ignored mine for $2,500. Maybe a few Completionists scared em to hell with their refund emails?

              Some of us just want our refund, and leave. The white knights want that too. Except CIG is not refunding people. I am sure that only small refunds are given.

              Justin .

                Been an avid supporter of SC for well over a year now and have spent over 1k on this game.

                I was in the same boat with all the other SC cultists. I’d defend it without a second thought. Striking down anything slightly negative like most of the asshats in the forums do. Derek Smart was just a guy who wanted attention in my eyes. That went on up until these past few months. I soon realized that DS was in fact correct with most of his whistle blows. CIG’s business model has become ever more corrupt and showing signs of needing money more than ever. They’re going back on their word to the point that they don’t care about the player’s happiness at all. They only care about making money and will only change something if it’s negatively effecting their cash flow.

                Like with the recent 2.0 release. They stated that 1000 players who have been using the Issue Council moderately would get access to play the release. How the hell were we suppose to know if these people were actually getting to play the 2.0 like they stated? They could give the access to anyone they wanted and say that it was because they used IC when several players saying they haven’t once used IC are getting the sign up emails. The horrible buggy shit that is the 2.0 update began popping up on CIG’s forums. Everyone instantly began defending it by saying it was a glorified stress test. So if this was true then why did they make damn sure that every SC twitch streamer got access. Because publicity means MONEY.

                It’s all slowly beginning to show. They spending more and more money and they’re having a hard time keeping up. So they’ve resorted to making money in anyway possible. Hell you can tell this whole game is a scam due to the fact they haven’t stated how they plan on keeping this game afloat after the PU release. Some members of CIG have hinted around at a P2W model but honestly fuck that.

                So fuck you CIG and to everyone else stop spending money on this game. Jpeg ships are not worth thousands of dollars. No matter what the CIG cult tells you. Hold on to your money until (or if) the actual game comes out.

                Von Neely

                  So something occurred to me a while ago. At this point, they’ve sold so many uberships to whales that even if, by some miracle, they managed to deliver the entire 2.0 multiplayer game universe that they promised the entire game will still die horribly. Not right away, mind you – it would take a year or so – but in the end, it would die. Why? For that, we need to look at a different game, one done right, that being EvE Online.

                  In EvE Online you can, as with dang near any MMO, spend real money for game money. However, their developers (CCP Games) made a clever move a few years ago and moved RMT into their own offices, legitimized it, and started pocketing the money themselves (they call this “PLEX” – look it up if you’re interested). You can then take that game currency, go out and buy yourself the biggest, baddest, most unstoppable Titan class doomships in the game. You can kit it out, go on a rampage, and laugh manically from your newly purchased throne… for about five minutes, at which point Goonswarm will hot-drop in “numbers do not go that high” amount of ships right on top of you and nuke your precious doomship into flaming pixels in about thirty seconds flat. Your pilot will respawn. Your ship won’t.

                  That’s the important thing in EvE. No matter how much of a badass you are, no matter how big & fancy the ship your flying, you can still be taken down. And when that ship goes down it stays down. So yes, you can pull out your credit card and buy your way into the big shiny, but how long you last there is another story entirely. You can always slip, fall, and end up slogging next to the rest of the proles in a single day. Nothing last forever in EvE, unless you never leave your hanger.

                  So now you’ve got SC and the whales, gobbling up uberships as fast as CIG can dream them up. Naturally, in the age old appeal to blatant power-gaming & ego stroking, every one of these new ships that comes out is designed to kill every previous ship that came before it. It’s an absurd level of blatant power creep, and in a game that hasn’t even come out yet. But wait, it gets better, because CIG has also been offering new whale packages that take this from the tolerable EvE level of slight annoyance at wallet-warriors to outright anger: They’re offering lifetime insurance.

                  And in that one swoop they’ve broken the game irrevocably. Why? Because now when that whale buys spends ten grand on a unstoppable ubership, it’s forever. When Goonswarm shows up and blows them into flaming pixels it’s not just the pilot who’s going to respawn as if nothing ever happened. He’s going to get his ship back, too. How many times? All the times. Over & over unto infinity. It doesn’t matter if you park five hundred gankers outside their station running combat bot macros 24/7 and blow him up sixty four times a day. He will just keep coming back. That whale has just won Star Citizen… and has done so using nothing more than his wallet. You can’t beat him. No matter how good you are, no matter how many friends you bring, no matter how hard you try or persistent your personal jihad, you will lose simply because he will outlast you in his immortal ship that, by the way, you will never fly because you’re not made of money.

                  There is a saying: “Goons ruin everything.” I’m not a Goon, but I’ve encountered them. I don’t like them, but I respect them, because I know what they’re really doing. Goons don’t actually break games. Rather, the go into a game and find all of the game’s flaws, weaknesses, crap rules & poor design choices. Then they exploit the crap out of them. Why? To be jerks? Partly, but also to expose these problems. When one guy exploits something the devs can ignore it. When a thousand people exploit something together, as a team, record it to video and post it on YouTube… now it’s something the devs can’t ignore. Now they have to fix the problem. Goon logic is like this: Annoying pothole on your street? Fill it with garbage, rebar, broken glass & old tires, and then set it on fire. Crude? Rude? Disgusting? Sure. But see if the city doesn’t come out and fix that hole within one day. Just watch.

                  But immortal uberships? Not even Goons can fix/break that problem. So here is what you’re going to end up, even if the game is finished:

                  First month = Hundreds of thousands of people swarming to the game, so many that a few whales in uberships are hardly noticed… except for the endless “duel me noob” that is spammed into every chat channel approximately ever two seconds. Some of them form guilds/clans/companies and set out to the frontier to build up their thing.

                  Second month = Players begin to notice that there are a few groups that seem to be shooting to the top of the food chain rather quickly. Upon investigation, it is obvious that the whale are exploiting their immortal uberships to bolster their team’s assets while crushing opposition via however many suicide attacks as it takes, because why not? Resentment begins.

                  Sixth month = The only viable, competitive group entities left are those run by whales. Likewise, the power of those groups can be directly measured in how many immortal, whale uberships they can bring to bear. The more the better. “Not millionaires need not apply” becomes the new running joke in SC.

                  One year = Now that word has gotten around that the whales are gods of the game, immortal, unstoppable Highlanders, everyone who can’t (or won’t) throw in new car money into the game has given up and gone home.

                  Past one year = The empty chasm of space is occasionally still visited by the occasional new player, lured in by ease of the games new “FTP” offer on Steam. They normally last about two minutes into the game until they’re discovered, hunted down and exterminated by level five billion pilots flying diamond encrusted battleships made out of gold that go from zero to sixty in a proton fart, can out-maneuver a hummingbird on meth and are covered in 16′ gatling cannons, then called “noobs” over chat right before they log out, uninstall and never look back. Silently, the lonely whale drifts among the nebula, wondering why he has no friends… as he reads today’s desperate plea from CR to raise the $2.5 million it will apparently take to keep the server running for another month.

                  Sad and bored, the whale reaches for his wallet once again…

                  Tonci Jukic

                    Is this the same method Blizzard is using for their World of Warcraft no-loading world? Segmenting. I’m particularly interested in how do they achieve the solution where you don’t even feel the streaming, especially when interacting with multiple users across the map.

                    The way I presume it is done is that each interactive set of characters/players/npcs/environment-elements is enclosed into a cube of its own space and with a single origin; the engine takes interacting entities and uses a single origin for those to have “small value calculations” due to small distances.
                    Now, if that is true, how would such a solution handle chained interactions? By using a zoned cube for every different set of interacting entities and doing multiple calculations depending on interacting members?

                    For example (a 2D representation) if this is the line representing a map and |s are characters:


                    We’re going to need 1 box for the first two and calc their interaction in a local space, second box for the next 3 and next two (farthest away) or one big for the whole rest… In case 2nd and 3rd can’t interact… but what if they can… how does, e.g. a projectile, is calculated when it goes through different zones? Recalc for every new zone it enters? What when it is in the same time in two zones (transition period)?

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