At Star CitizenCon 2014 we got to see the first technical demos for the persistent universe and planetside operations demos. We have seen quite a few spectacular pieces of concept art. We was all hoping that RSI would nail planet side and from this initial demo it seems very promising.
Many cynics (including myself) wondered how will CryEngine cope with a persistent world environment, At Star CitizenCon 2014 Chris Roberts showed off the first persistent world demo.
In the demo we saw the following…
- Automatic Landing Assistance (using Cut Scenes to show separate stages of landing.)
- Transition between customs and the main city using a checkpoint system.
- A sneak peak at the scrap yard for ship parts.
The Automatic Landing Assistance
The system for Automatic landing has the Acronym of EDL (Entry Decent and Landing), Not sure if thats a good choice of words. It seems alot of these SciFi games have acronyms that could be potentially damaging to the game, But that’s something for a different article!.
As had previously been known the persistent world would be part of a multi-loaded instance, When the pilot requests landing clearance the ship then runs thought the atmosphere then loading into a city during a transition flying aorund what can only be described as one of the most detailed persistent levels we have seen. Finally when the ship lands you get a nice welcome/greeting, when exiting your ship two custom representatives approach your cargo to check for any illegal content. It’s certainly a nice touch. Looking around the landing pad you can see lots of spaceships flying around a air-based motor way. The shadows of the ships outline the rays of the sun beaming down onto the land. It’s a really nice touch that makes the world more believable.
Transition to Customs
Upon entering the main customs landing zone you will notice a Hologram map, One could imagine that if you have any NPCs you want to talk to you could use the map to search and locate them. Finally you can hear an NPC saying “Next Please” as the character walks into the customs area a customs officer says “One Moment please, starting scan” at this moment in time the game engine is actually streaming the next level/map into place. This type of transition can be seen in other space games. The one that comes to my mind is Mass Effect 3’s Normandy where you transition from the back part of the ship to the front part while being scanned. A nice touch to the custom’s level loading the the amount of detail shown on the holograms. The current ship type, it’s legal content and basic diameters are shown. Then the custom’s office outlines the basic rules of the location your entering and then gives the all clear. Upon loading into the hub the first thing that stands out is the Orb/Globe which seems to have an announcer built into the set piece announcing NPC missions, requests and anything else RSI decides to throw at it. In the demo there wasn’t many NPC’s around. The one thing we did also notice was the inclusion of a bar/nightclub which will certainly be interesting if implemented into the full game.
The Scrap Yard (Dumper’s Depo)
This was our first look at a vendor’s shop. The shop keeper welcomes the Pilot to the store and informs him that everything is for sale. The area in-front of the pilot opens up to reveal what looks to be an old rusty hawk being stripped down by two large robotic hands. There currently seems to be no interface for interacting with the shop keeper however the premise is to provide a large scale shopping space for pilots to browse.
Chris said that there was 30,000 polygons being rendered at once however this would be better optimized in the final game.
Streaming Map Instances
RSI’s Chris Roberts stated that the sluggish warp shown on the livestream was due to streaming map bottlenecks. It seems that the developers behind the persistant world are opting for a streaming map system where the end user client streams the level map data between transitions to reduce the load times and create larger cities. It’s believed that this technology will ensure that the CryEngine will be able to cope with the larger volumes of data needed. After all the CryEngine was originally built for FPS games that required single maps. What RSI is currently doing is magic in regards to pushing the engine’s capabilities to provide an illusion of a larger world. It’s certainly something we are looking forward to seeing when the final persistent world is launched. At this moment in time the demo being shown only had a small fraction of the people rendered into the game’s engine with animations as the team wanted to put together a demo before Star CitizenCon.
The Whole demo was put together with the Austin Team and the Ai Teams to demonstrate how they are going to create persistent worlds for star citizen. It seems RSI is getting ready to build a persistent, large and exciting world. We just hope they will invest time into optimizing the game (this is something Chris Roberts understands). One of the biggest concerns for some players is the head bobbing animation (We believe this can be turned off.) and motion blur (which we hope will be able to turn off as well.) Overall we cannot wait for this game to turn into a MMO Universe.