Transcript generously provided by forum user Liudeius  in their transcript thread .

A link to the episode can be found here: Youtube Link


Hey everyone, welcome back for another episode of Ten for the Chairman. For those of you that haven't watched this before, this is where I answer ten questions from our very generous subscribers, that they've asked over the last several weeks or months and you get it from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

Question 1 - Is AC representative of hardware requirements

Will the Dogfighting Module also serve as a good benchmarking tool for our current PC hardware? I’d like it if it were a reasonable way to determine whether some upgrades will be necessary before the game goes live.

–Issac Clarke

Answer 1

Yes, I think it will be a great benchmarking tool.

So you have to remember that the game today is gonna be a lot less optimized than the final game will be because right now we focus on some of the core functionality and features and not so much on the optimization. Although we are doing some R&D into something that we think will give us a big performance gain, merge instancing, a bunch of our meshes, and then also we're gonna be supporting Mantle which will really help with the draw call count and efficiency that you get from Direct X. So I would basically say if you can run the hangar really well with some big ships and all the rest of the stuff and the Dogfighting Module really well, then you probably will be able to run the final game pretty well. Now I definitely would like Star Citizen to be one of those games that gets bench-marked in all those PC GPU tests, so that is one of our goals. I think some people are already doing it, so there you go.

–Chris Roberts

Question 2 - Friends on large ships in AC

In the Dogfighting Module, will we be able to have our friends join us on our bigger ships? It would be great to test out crew cohesion.

–Baron Brewzer

Answer 2

So yes, I totally agree, I definitely would, we're definitely going to let you. When we have big ships in the dogfighting alpha, your friends will join and that will do the whole part of the co-operative stuff.

In the very beginning, the very first release of the Dogfighting Module we won't have the bigger ships. Mainly because most of them haven't been built yet, I mean the Constellation is the biggest one right now. So the ships themselves in the dogfighting, there's a lot more assets that have to be built besides what you've seen in the hangar. So there's a vast amount of damage modeling and states, there's equipment that goes on the ships, shield meshes, so there's a huge amount of assets that are built. So what's going to be constraining us in the Dogfighting Module is how fast we can get the assets done. So the plan is in the beginning that you start in single seated dogfighting stuff, the Hornet, maybe a couple of the other ones like the 300i and the Aurora, and then as the assets come on line, as we finish off all the damage pieces, all the rest of the stuff, then we'd fold them in. So I wouldn't expect the bigger ships to be in the Dogfighting Module, it won't be in the first release and may not be in the second, but probably some time around mid-next-year we'd hopefully be having battles where you'd have a bunch of people on a Constellation or an Idris against a bunch of people flying other kinds of ships. Yeah, definitely. That's a big draw, that's the thing for me that I'm most excited about doing. Playing this game where I can run around and man a turret inside a gun when someone else is doing a strafing pass in their fighter. So I'm working on that. That will be in as soon as humanly possible, let me put it that way.

–Chris Roberts

Question 3 - Server backend and chat channels

When eventually (if you have not already planned to do) you guys implement your own server code and “backbone” as it were. Will we be seeing a chat channel early on between the Dogfighting Module and the hangar?


Answer 3

You know, one of the reasons why I made the decision to push back on the Dogfighting Module is I wanted to really have the Dogfighting Module be fully integrated with the back-end that would also ultimately fully integrate with the hangar and allow for things like chat and all the rest of the stuff. I just feel like that's a much better test of the ultimate game situation we need all this code in, and we've actually been working pretty hard on that and we've actually made some really great progress. We're ahead of where we thought we would be, which is really good news.

I kind of want it plugged in because it's the glue, the persistence, that goes between the Dogfighting Module and the Hangar Module, and the future things like planet-side and the Boarding Modules, and that also moves in with chat and like we talked about with the organizations, how those are getting set up. The chat channels we even have on the website, player chat crosses into the game. So we'll definitely have the chat channel between dogfighting and the hangar. That's why I made the delay. The idea is you'll start in the hangar and then you'll equip your ship, and you can even chat with friends and organizations in the hangar, say "Hey all, let's get into a battle." Then you can equip your ship, jump into your ship, fire up the hangar, and go to the matchmaking screen, which is basically a HUD element that you'd be seeing in your ship going in to simulation mode, and you'd have chat available to your friends list and all the rest would go in there. That was one of the major reasons why I just felt like it was better to do it right, take the time and have the proper system in there rather than put a mid-way solution in, which would be using the existing CryEngine back-end tech which we would then have to throw away. Ok, so I hope that answers that question.

–Chris Roberts

Question 4 - How large and what type of combat spaces will there be in AC

In the Dogfighting Module how big will the space be where we will dogfight and will there be empty space or will there be some nice backgrounds like planets, asteroids, nebula, etc.?


Answer 4

Ok, so the dogfight map, the base one that we've built, is 20 cubic kilometers. So it's a fairly decent space to dogfight around in. If you go beyond the boundaries it will be sort of like Battlefield.

It will be full of some cool stuff. So we're going to put an asteroid belt in, a nebula, some background planets, some nice background art. It will be a fun level to dogfight in.

–Chris Roberts

Question 5 - AC Settings

Is the Dogfighting Module going to include more settings to tweak so even some of us who are saving money to upgrade our systems can play at a playable 30ish FPS?


Answer 5

So I'm not so sure the initial release of the dogfighting will have a lot more performance tweaks and settings than the hangar stuff has.

We'll probably have a simple level of LOD's in for the Hornet and a couple of the other ships that will launch with the Dogfighting, and you can always reduce your resolution. But obviously as I said a little earlier on in the questions, the optimization stages tends to happen towards the back end of the project. At the very beginning of dogfighting it's probably not going to be very optimized and as time goes on it will get better. You can probably drop the resolution down or the quality level down. CryEngine actually runs pretty well if you don't run it in Ultra settings on some ridiculous resolution. So hopefully that will work for you.

–Chris Roberts

Question 6 - Flight tutorial

Will there be a flight tutorial (very basic) with the dogfighting module?

–Shadow Knight

Answer 6

That's a good question. A lot of people around here really hate the tutorials. I know I was just playing around with the Elite Dangerous alpha and it had a tutorial and I was kind of feeling, "No, I just want to be shooting other ships that shoot back at me."

So I don't know. If we do a tutorial I guess that maybe we would do a tutorial with an AI ship or something that you could fight against. But we haven't specifically designed that yet, so that's still to be determined.

–Chris Roberts

Question 7 - More weapons in AC

Will we see greater access to weapons in preparation for the Dogfighting Module? Will we have access to different missiles, more guns and powerplants and engines? Will I finally get the cargo box for my Aurora?


Answer 7

So definitely.

As the Dogfighting Module rolls out and along the way we are going to be increasing the amount of weapons and munitions, etc. available to you. And items, like shields, thrusters, all the rest of the stuff. Because that's the whole point, it's to test out all these items, to do balance and all the rest of the stuff. We'll probably give you some sort of test money so people can buy something, try it for a day or two, then after they test it we take it back. So yes, the answer there is there will be a greater access and we'll be bringing them online as the assets are getting built Then on the "Will I finally get the cargo box for my Aurora," I think if your Aurora is meant to have a cargo box it should already have it in the hangar. If not, then maybe that's a bug, so I'll have to check on that. I guess it would depend on what kind of Aurora you have and what the base stats say you've got. But it should actually be already on it in the hangar.

–Chris Roberts

Question 8 - AC balance

In the Dogfighting Module, how will you balance ships by class/size? Will there be limits on the number of Hornets? Freelancers? Etc? I can’t see a round of dogfighting with 8 Constellations against 8 Hornets being fair :)

–Christoper Mallec

Answer 8

Well let's see, I think I would be interested to see eight Constellations against eight Hornets 'cause I'm not so sure it will be quite as one-sided as you think. They both have different pros and cons, so depending on how you're fighting and what you're doing, it may be a closer fight than you think.

But we're going to have various categories in the matchmaking. We've been playing with various matchmaking set-ups. One of them is you assign points to ships, so an Aurora would be something like one point, but a Constellation could be five points. Don't quote me on these points because this is just for illustration purposes. Then each team gets to have 30 points or something like that. So you can make the trade off between lots of little ships or a fewer smaller-bigger ships. Then we'll probably also have matchmaking that just Hornet v Hornet or Aurora v Aurora. So we'll have various options that you'll be able to choose from the matchmaking system in the Dogfighting Module.

–Chris Roberts

Question 9 - Are AC physics final flight model

I was wondering whether the Dogfighting Module will be released with a finalized flight model. Are the physics and flight system more or less complete, or will they be tuned as part of the alpha process? If it is going to be tuned, what sort of feedback would be useful to the team?


Answer 9

So the flight model's not going to be finalized. First of all we're going to have a few different kinds of flight models.

The whole point of the dogfighting alpha is to get it out there so everyone plays it and gives us good feedback. Is it fun, does it feel good, does it feel cool or realistic, or whatever the feedback would be. So that's a big part of it, and the stuff where we'd say "that's a good point" we would definitely work on. So we kind of want to get it out there so we get a good idea of what people feel. So we will definitely tune it. The feedback will probably be along the lines of some of the feedback you would expect on a subjective basis. It's not really a bug issue, it's more I like this, I don't like this, I think this ship's too tough, I think this weapon's too weak, etc. That would probably be in some kind of forum set-up that we would have that we haven't built and designed yet.

–Chris Roberts

Question 10 - How will dev data be pulled from AC

Since dogfighting is a testing module, what will you have built into the DF Module to retrieve data? Will you only have logging to file which, in case of problems, we have to send to you? Can it be turned on/off? Or do you also have an automated system to gather statistics or other info that is directly sent to you (with or without us knowing)? Or have you thought up and other way of monitoring the test?


Answer 10

You mean kind of like the NSA.

You know, one of the big reasons why I decided I wanted to push back the dogfighting is because I really wanted a proper test of the back-end of the system. That means we're running the servers, it's not a peer-to-peer sort of multiplayer typical kind of set-up that a lot of the first person shooter stuff could have. So the servers are our servers basically. So we get to see what's happening in every battle and we get to track metrics of this ship beats that ship while this weapon is stronger or too weak and all the rest of the stuff.

So we'll have access to pretty much all the battle data because essentially the servers are run by us. Everyone else is just running a client connected to it and simulating local stuff that doesn't effect the master gameplay. But if you're playing against other people we have to be server authoritative.

I think that's how we would retrieve the data, and it's far less innocuous than some other people have been retrieving data recently.

–Chris Roberts


Anyway, so there you go, that's the end of another episode of Ten for the Chairman. I hope you found the answers useful and informative and were admiring my Drake Interplanetary Hoodie, keeping me warm here in the chilly December month in Santa Monica, which is actually a little colder now than it normally is.

So thanks for listening and catch you next week. Goodbye.

Chris Roberts

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