Cloud Imperium Games released the latest Around The Verse episode. It starts with a look at some of the emergent community events and then moves into how they modified the gravity levitation system for the grav-bikes using the new advanced flight model system.
With the new flight model they had to re-implement the way the bikes handle. This includes the grav bikes no longer automatically adjusting their height to fly over certain changes in the environment’s topography. You’ll have to manually modify the height, and manually adjust the thrust of the bikes to avoid colliding with environmental objects.
This creates a more challenge-based operation model for the grav bikes so that instead of just hopping on and driving without a care, you will have to be conscious how you fly through the terrain and at what heights. The higher you are from the ground the less control you have over the bike’s maneuverability. It’s an interesting setup with some cool pros and cons in the tradeoff of riding the grav bikes through different types of environments.
The second half of the video covers the new female player models, and how the team is dealing with converting thousands of animations for the male player-models for the female models.
They built a custom female skeleton rig from the ground up so that she wouldn’t suffer from masculine-movement syndrome, and also had to go in and modify the object interaction scaling to match the proportions of the female skeleton.
To help ease the process of making new sets of animations for the females, they designed a middleware conversion tool that allowed them to quickly convert and adjust some of the male animations to the female skeleton rig.
The manual modification is required to re-target certain movements and positions.
After the segment finishes up, they explain that building a new skeleton rig from the bottom up. They also talk about what the difference is between creating a player-model for female characters as opposed to implementing a static NPC character.
The major difference is that – as they explain in the video – NPCs have a preset cache of animations that they only perform within their respective roles, so they don’t need many animations or adjustments to accommodate their place within the game world.
Player-models have to not only interact with weapons and items within the environment, but they also have to be able to utilize the ship controls, interact with other player characters and NPCs, and avoid any clipping issues when performing tasks where the height and proportion differences come into play.
There are a lot of complex nuances and systems that have to be implemented in order to make an all new skeletal rig workable within an environment as complex and mechanically-deep as Star Citizen. If Ubisoft had people working in PR who were honest and knowledgeable about game design, they would have explained to the press that this was the major issue preventing them from implementing a playable female character in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. But then again, it would also require the press to be knowledgeable and not agenda-driven hacks.
Anyway, I would also dread having to be on the animation team or animation programming team if they ever decided to make a new alien race playable that didn’t quite adhere to the bipedal nature of the male or female human rigs.
Anyway, if you want to keep track of the development of Star Citizen, you can do so by visiting the official website, where you can see how far along the development is on certain features of the game.