Cloud Imperium Games apparently has some big plans for 2.6 and 2.7 of Star Citizen. Whether or not they can fulfill those plans in a timely fashion is a different topic altogether, but for everyone wondering about Star Marine… the module is supposedly scheduled to go live in update 2.6, which could possibly put it in a launch window close to GamesCom, which takes place between August 17th and August 21st.
DSO Gaming picked up the news from an article posted on the German website PC Games. There’s a bullet list of features that are scheduled to make an appearance in 2.6, including a completely separate module for Star Marine.
Update 2.7 is where the real fun begins, because it will feature the procedural planetary generation. This includes real-time lighting, high-end ambient occlusion, natural shadows, manual landing of the spaceships (along with automated port landings), and new jobs and missions. The news was accompanied by a collection of new in-game renders, showcasing the progress of the graphics and visual effects being smoothed out.
Planetary surface landings will take place seamlessly and supposedly without loading screens. Players will be able to go from space to the planet without any barriers standing in the way.
The post indicates that sometime down the line (but unlikely to make the cut in 2.7) is a living ecosystem with animals and whatnot. That seems a little bit ambitious considering that I would like to see the procedural planets first before wildlife even enters the quation.
They do note that the ground environments will use a mix of parallax depth and tessellation to get a varied and uneven look to the ground, so planets won’t all look like flat-surface ballrooms.
They didn’t completely confirm it but they also mention that the planets may use a dynamic volumetric weather system, where clouds will have varying density that can shape the visual appearance of a planet’s horizon. If that’s really true then that’s some impressive stuff.
There’s also one screenshot that seems to show a ship flying into the horizon just below the mesosphere, where we can see the stars littering a canvas of outer space while the mountainous regions just below the ship peek their heads out above a soft layer of clouds, kissing a sky glowing in the warmth of a setting sun.
If I didn’t know any better I would presume that Cloud Imperium Games managed to implement real-time global illumination. I’m seeing sun-rays filtered onto the mountain with physical light rays bouncing off the edges with a slight orange tint. That’s not just global illumination but it looks like it’s physically based material global illumination.
If that screenshot is for real then they’ve managed to make a real breakthrough with the CryEngine.
CIG has a lot riding on version 2.6, because it could prove that things are coming together in a timely fashion. Last year Star Marine did not quite make the deadline, as it was originally scheduled to appear at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany. Instead it was delayed indefinitely. Now, Cloud Imperium Games is back with another promise that they’ll deliver the FPS module, so we’ll see if they’ve managed to pull it all together and deliver on Star Marine in 2.6.