Happy Wednesday, everyone!
Every two weeks, we accompany the Roadmap update with a brief explanatory note to give you insight into the decision-making that led to any changes. This is part of an effort to make our communications more transparent, more specific, and more insightful for all of you who help to make Star Citizen and Squadron 42 possible.
With that said, let’s go ahead and dive into this week’s Roadmap Roundup!
-CIG Community Team
Notable Changes for February 2nd, 2022
When we remade our Public Roadmap in 2020, our goal was to truly lift the veil on development and show the progress of our entire company, right down to all 50+ development teams and each (anonymized) developer on each specific team, so you could see what deliverable they were working on currently and planned for the next three quarters, for a full 12-month view on development. The Progress Tracker was the cornerstone of this initiative. With the introduction of this new view, we shared publicly a whopping 450+ features, across fifty-two teams. Today, we have decided to double-down on that commitment.
Showing nearly everything wasn’t our only major goal. Another big objective for us was to use our new Public Roadmap to better educate our community about how incredibly fluid game development truly is, and to help you understand that features and content shifting around (both forwards and backwards) is a natural state in software development. That kind of fluidity should not be seen as good or bad; it’s simply how development works, as shifting priorities, unforeseen blockers, unknown unknowns, unexpected technical hurdles, and normal R&D impacts timelines and development schedules. When these inevitable shifts happened in the past, we were frequently apprehensive about how the community might take yet another delay. But when we unveiled the new Public Roadmap in December 2020, we decided we would no longer invest emotion and hesitation into our presentation of schedule changes but rather move them dispassionately. And in order to assure the community that development didn’t stop just because a feature got removed from a Patch Card, we pointed you all to the new Progress Tracker, so you could see that the devs were in fact still working on said feature, even if its expected delivery for a stated patch could no longer be committed to. This is why the Progress Tracker is meaningful. It doesn’t focus on estimates, targets, or desires, but instead shines a bright light on the actuality of what is.
Because our focus was very vocally shifting from delivery to progress, we also intentionally decided to minimize the importance of the Release View. We no longer wanted you or our developers to focus so much on when a feature was coming out, but to instead focus on what we were working on in the moment and what we planned to tackle next. That was the flaw of the old Public Roadmap; we only showed you what was coming, so we unintentionally told you that’s all that mattered. But with the total shift in the new Public Roadmap, it was time to focus on progress. That’s why the Progress Tracker is the first thing you see when you go to the Roadmap app on our site. We consider that our default Public Roadmap view. We had considered removing the Release View entirely when the new Public Roadmap debuted. We felt the Progress Tracker did a much better job of showing what everyone was working on. And it was what we wanted everyone to now focus on, instead of unintended promises. The Progress Tracker was meant to be what you spend your time really diving into now. It is here that you can see when a feature leaves concepting and moves to integration, or when vehicle art is complete, and now VFX gets to dive in; the sequential changing of hands as content or features make their way through our development pipeline.
However, at the same time, we felt that while the focus should be on development progress, we also still saw value in showing players what features and content they could look forward to down the line, and when they could get their hands on them. Thus, the Release View remained. Instead of removing the Release View, we opted to add new functionality, where cards could be marked as Tentatively Planned or Committed. And in trying to preserve the legacy and maintain the precedence of the old Roadmap, we decided to still hold to a four-quarters-out Release View. In hindsight, after living with this new Public Roadmap for the past 6 quarters, we’ve come to realize that this was a mistake. It put too much attention on features that had a high probability of shifting around. It has become abundantly clear to us that despite our best efforts to communicate the fluidity of development, and how features marked as Tentative should sincerely not be relied upon, the general focus of many of our most passionate players has continued to lead them to interpret anything on the Release View as a promise. We want to acknowledge that not all of you saw it that way; many took our new focus and our words to heart and understood exactly what we tried to convey. But there still remains a very loud contingent of Roadmap watchers who see projections as promises. And their continued noise every time we shift deliverables has become a distraction both internally at CIG and within our community, as well as to prospective Star Citizen fans watching from the sidelines at our Open Development communications.
Rather than continuing to display release projections that carry a high percentage chance of moving (those multiple quarters out), we will no longer show any deliverables in the Release View for any patches beyond the immediate one in the next quarter. Even though we always added a caveat that a card could move, we feel now that it’s better to just not put a deliverable on Release View until we can truly commit to it. We’re going to emphasize more strongly than ever that you should focus your attention on our Progress Tracker, which has been our continued goal. Going forward (starting after Alpha 3.18), we’ll only add cards on Release View one quarter out. Our process remains the same for updating a feature’s status: cards on Release View will be listed as Tentative until they pass their final review, in which they are marked as committed upon passing. This is no different than how things are handled today.
With all of that said, here are the updates for this week:
As mentioned in a previous Roadmap Roundup, as well as on this episode of Star Citizen Live, the Core Gameplay Pillar has moved to focus exclusively on Squadron 42. Features developed by this team will be integrated into Squadron 42 first, and then migrated over to the Persistent Universe. This has a two-fold benefit: Squadron 42 will benefit greatly from the additional resources and dedicated focus, and the Persistent Universe will see features come online in a more complete and polished state. As the process of migrating these features into the PU is finalized, we’re temporarily removing the following cards while their PU implementation is evaluated:
- Player Interaction Experience
- FPS Radar & Scanning
- Hacking – Tech
- EVA T2
- Zero G Push & Pull
A few key deliverables on Release View hold a dependency with the Persistent Streaming core technology. While great progress is being made on this tech, the required completion of it puts a few features at risk. Therefore, the following cards are being removed temporarily:
- Persistent Hangars
- Hangar Manager App
The following features have been identified to need additional polish before their release into the Persistent Universe. Therefore, we are removing these cards temporarily until the projections for their respective release timings have been confirmed:
- MISC Hull C
- NPC Taxi Mission T0
- Pirate Swarm / Vanduul Swarm Improvments
The following card has been added to the Alpha 3.17 column:
Coffee Shop Vendor
Area 18 is getting a new, interactable coffee shop. The AI will interact with three new usables – Hot drink dispenser, soft drink dispenser, and drinks fridge – to serve the player with a variety of new drinks.
With this week’s update, we’re updating the majority of the downstream schedule through Q1 2022, with the remaining teams to follow in an upcoming publish.
The following deliverables are being added to Progress Tracker:
Building, implementing, and balancing Argo’s tugboat, the SRV, as a game-ready vehicle. This deliverable is being added to the EU Vehicle Content team’s schedule.
Greycat Industrial Cydnus Mining Droid
Building, implementing, and balancing Greycat’s mining platform, the Cydnus, as a game-ready vehicle. This deliverable is being added to the Squadron 42 Art Team’s schedule.
Concepting, creating, and implementing the outfits worn by surgeons, beginning with the ones working in the Orison General hospital location. This deliverable is being added to the Star Citizen Character Art and Character Tech Art Team’s schedules.
Designing and building a multi-tool variant used by the UEE Military in the Squadron 42 campaign. This deliverable is being added to the Weapon Content Team’s schedule.
AI – Arcade Machine
AI behavior where the AI will play multiple rounds on an arcade machine, with varied emotional results depending on if they win or lose. This deliverable is being added to the AI Content Team’s schedule.
AI – Usable System V2
Improving the implementation of the existing usable system to optimize the memory usage, and improve the performance when querying usable data at runtime. This deliverable is being added to the AI Tech and Feature Team’s schedule.
Updating the existing shader system and its workflows to allow for implementation of support for basic modularity. This deliverable is being added to the Graphics Team’s schedule.
Changes the implementation of Server Object Container Streaming (S-OCS) to be driven from the network code’s Replication Layer, backed by EntityGraph for persistent storage. This deliverable is being added to the Network Team’s schedule.
DGS Crash Recovery
When a Dedicated Game Server (DGS) crashes, this system will spin-up a replacement DGS and restore its state from the Replication Layer. This deliverable is being added to the Network Team’s schedule.
Long Term Persistence
Changes to Long Term Persistence that support the new inventory and shard database. LTP functionality will stay the same, but the system will read/write the data from the new entity graph database. This deliverable is being added to the Persistent Tech Team’s schedule.
Wheeled Vehicle Physics Improvements
Improving physics for ground vehicles by taking static environment and collisions into account during network prediction and synchronization. This deliverable is being added to the Physics Team’s schedule.
An upgrade to the reputation system that allows reputation to drive AI hostility. This deliverable is being added to the US PU Gameplay Feature and Narrative Team’s schedules.
Look IK Architecture Refactor
Update to the existing Look IK system to remap eye trajectory to use eye expressions that are defined in rig logic. This deliverable is being added to the Tech Animation Team’s schedule.
The following deliverable, previously removed, is now returning to Progress Tracker:
Bounty Hunter V2
Enabling players to track criminals via a mobiGlas security app linked to distress beacons, comm arrays, air traffic control systems, cameras, and NPC informants. This will rely on various new backend tech, including Virtual AI, the NPC Scheduler, and Security Service. This deliverable is returning to the US PU Gameplay Feature Team’s schedule.
Due to the aforementioned dependency on Persistent Streaming and in order to give additional priority to Persistent Hangars, this deliverable is being temporarily removed from Progress Tracker.
That’s all for this week!