Emeline Shaw, the leader of the Outcasts, has fallen back from her defeat on Roosevelt Island and barricaded herself deep in the Manning National Zoo. To get to her, you will need to fight through the blockades and the Outcasts who protect her to put an end to her violence.
New Main Mission: Camp White Oak
The Black Tusks and their leader have set up a strategic position close to an estate nestled deep in the woodlands, and your assignment is to take them down and capture him in the new Camp White Oak mission.
New Feature: Expeditions
Expeditions are free events that bring players to unexplored locations around D.C. to discover new narrative and gameplay opportunities. These sites offer unique challenges and lore not found anywhere else: new collectibles, treasure rooms, environmental puzzles, unique boss mechanics, and more await every Agent who embarks on our Expeditions! New Classified Assignment: Central AquariumNew Classified Assignment: NSA Site B13
Shepherd Reward System – Call for Backup
Added the ability to earn the “Shepherd” title by responding to call for backups and earning endorsements. An agent who received help will be able to endorse the helping agent.
Added Discovery Mode difficulty for the Operation Dark Hours raid.
Added Raid Completion Time to Clan Leaderboards. This leaderboard ranks clans based on how quickly they were able to complete the raid as a clan-only party.
New Exotic: Diamondback Exotic Rifle
Lever action rifle
5 round magazine
Diamondback randomly marks an enemy. Hitting that enemy consumes the mark, guaranteeing a critical hit with +20% total damage. A new random enemy is marked afterwards, and whenever you reload.
After hitting 5 marked enemies, gain +50% reload speed, +20% total damage and all shots fired are guaranteed critical hits for 10s.
While drawn, each time a round is loaded, gain +20% bonus armor for 3s. While holstered, each time you reload or cycle your current weapon, gain +8% bonus armor for 2s
New Exotic: BTSU Exotic Gloves
Black Tusk gloves
Skills that apply status effects gain +50% status effect duration and +50% skill haste
Whenever you apply a status effect, your gloves become infused with that for 60s. While infused, you gain +10% skill damage, +10% skill healing and repair and +10% skill duration for each Utility (yellow battery) on your gear.
Whenever you throw a skill, 1.25s after landing, it creates an explosion applying the infused status effect to all enemies within 6m. Enemies affected by the infused status effect take 50% more damage from your skills.
Heroic Bosses now drop Exotics
Only exotics that the player is qualified for.
For world drop exotics it requires that the player has the drop previously
For crafted exotics, it requires that the player has the blueprint
Eagle Bearer remains exclusive to the Operation Dark Hours Raid
The purpose of dropping these is to allow a chance to get GS 500 variants without upgrading, or get materials to upgrade other exotics
These exotics can be team shared to other players.
Exotic items no longer have a random range on their damage/armor roll. All exotics are set to the previous highest possible value. This also affects existing exotic items.
New Assault Rifle: Carbine 7
30 round mag
By default rolls with a new talent:
Every 3 reloads from empty increases your magazine capacity by 100%
New Light Machine Gun: Stoner LMG
200 Mag capacity
By default rolls with a new talent:
Suppressing an enemy, that is not currently suppressed, grants +5% weapon damage for 10 seconds. Max stack is 5.
Increased the base damage of Shotguns in PvE.
M870: +36% damage
AA12: +29% damage
Super 90: +33% damage
SASG-12: +33% damage
SPAS12 +8% damage
Added Flashlight attachments for pistols
Developer Comments: We took a hard look at the current meta. The builds that are fun, effective and popular. We knew that skill builds, while it being something people want to play with, was nowhere near competitive. We knew there was an explosives damage build that was on the fringe of popularity, but none that actually relied on really good skill mods driven by skill power. We analyzed the best damage builds and survivability builds out there and looked at their efficiency - how fast they kill, how fast they can clear content, how fast they can take down enemies - and mapped that to our skills. How much more power do skills need to get from 3K skill power (our current maximum requirement on skill power mods) to compensate for all the damage bonuses the player is "giving up" on gear to reach that skill power? Then we looked at each skill and what it should be good at (burst, sustain, single target damage, survivability etc) and went to work tuning the mods to make a skill build approach the efficiency of a "red" damage build or a "blue" tank build. To that effect, here are the current changes to skill mods power levels, and in some cases base numbers, on skills.
Cooldown Reduction has been replaced with skill haste. Skill haste works equivalent to speed. So 100% skill haste reduces cooldown by 50%, like a car speeding up by 100% getting to it's destination in half the time. This means that the player can invest in more than 100% Haste and still get something back. It also means there's a diminishing return to Skill Haste, as opposed to cooldown reduction where each point was actually worth more than the last one. This allows us to have a good amount of Skill Haste possible from gear, but even larger amounts granted by high skill power Skill Mods, granting skill builds more frequent access to their souped up skills. To that effect, these are the changes to Haste (formerly Cooldown Reduction)
Removed the 90% Cooldown Reduction hard cap
Lowered the minimum Cooldown cap for all skills from 10 seconds to 3, except for the Chem Launcher which is now 8
Renamed all instances of Cooldown Reduction on existing gear to Skill Haste, with a 50% increase to their base values
Eg: +10% Cooldown Reduction will become +15% Skill Haste
Increased Surge talent Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased Alps Summit Armament 1-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +20%
Increased China Light Industries Corporation 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
Increased Petrov Defense Group 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +10% to +30%
Increased Tip of the Spear 3-piece Skill Haste bonus from +20% to +40%
Specialization Skill Mods (granted from each spec tree)
Removed all Skill Power requirements
Bonuses greatly improved to provide a strong initial boost to the skill platform
Cyclone Magazine - Extra Mortar Ammo bonus increased from +1 to +3
SHD CPU V.2 - Damage increased from +7% to +100%
Magnetic Disc - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
Larrea Tridenta Infusion - Healing bonus increased from +14.5% to +50%
Graphene Battery - Duration increased from +14.5% to +80%
Carbon Fiber Frame - Skill Haste increased from +9.7% to +80%
Adaptive Insulation Foam - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
Synthetic Mineral Frame - Skill Haste bonus increased from 60% to 100%
Titanium Reinforcement - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
Shape-memory Alloy - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
Cementitious Material - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
Weaved Aramid Fiber - Health bonus increased from +45% to +100%
Supramolecular Networks - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
Liquid Metal Microdroplets - Holstered Regeneration bonus increased from +60% to +100%
Thermoresponsive Polymer - Deflected Damage bonus increased from +20% to +100%
Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Active Regeneration bonus increased from +20% to +100%
Smart UHMWPE Lexicon - Ballistic Shield Health +100% variant added
Alignment Valve - Damage +100% variant added
Tungsten Compound - Damage +100% variant added
Propantriol Adhesive - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
Microfiller Resin - Skill Haste bonus increased from +40% to +200%
Hardened Casing - Health bonus lowered from 60% to 50%
Tungsten Compound - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
Guiding System - Max Targets bonus increased from +3 to +5
Added a crafting bench upgrade in World Tier 5 that allows players to craft at Gear Score 500. The items crafted are gear score 500, there will be no random range in terms of gear score/power. The bench upgrade is given to players when they complete the “Enter WT5”-project (same as all the other bench upgrades in endgame, the upgrade will be available at the bench once the bench is upgraded to World Tier 5). Players already in WT5 will automatic get it as they log in, The upgrade requires 1 weapon and 1 gear piece of Gear Score 490+, and some of each Specialized (blue) material Crafted items can be used in recalibration, both as materials and to be improved
Deconstructing High-End gear now guarantees a brand material (increased from 50% drop chance). Named branded items also award the brand mat on deconstruction
Deconstructing gear set items awards 4 of each Specialized (blue) material
Added an opt-in perk for the player to share blueprints and materials between characters in endgame. Some Blueprints and mats are excluded to not break game logic/progression, such as the specific exotic materials. This perk can be crafted and the blueprint is available at Inaya, the Crafting vendor.
The blueprints awarded from control points, vendors and projects are merged into one pool of rewards. Players can get all these blueprints from all three sources. Once the pools has been exhausted, none of the sources will give more blueprints.
Increased the radius of the Gunner's Riot Foam Grenade from 2m to 3m
Changed shotgun PvP modifier to 1.0 (was 1.65)
Net result in PvP with revised normalization modifiers:
M870: -14% damage
AA12: -21% damage
Super90: -17% damage
SASG-12: -17% damage
SPAS12: -42% damage
Changed the general PvP modifier to 0.55 (was 0.40)
Reduced the TAC-50 signature weapon’s damage per shot
Calculated Talent reduced to 20% from 10%. Now works off any kill from cover instead of weapon kills.
Cassie Now sells GS 500 items. She sells normal gear, some exotics and named weapons
Improved player feedback when trying to pick up ammo with maximum signature weapon ammo
Inspecting a player now allows inspection of weapons, grenades and skills
Intercepted projectile by the deflector drone now do a % damage, rather than binary be dropped or not
Return player control quicker after dropping down
Reduced Depth of Field strength when aiming
Improved reload + interaction prioritization (if you hold down the interact, it will cancel the reload and start the interaction)
Improved player replication for players with widely different quality connections, should reduce inconsistent speedup/freezing of remote players
Slapback System enabled: The gunshot echo system that was featured briefly in the private beta prior to launch has been re-enabled
Improved Arabic voice-over localization
Added missing lore description for Dodge Citys Gunslinger Holster
Cyclone Magazine +Extra Sniper Ammo variant added to all loot list quality tiers
Unstable Oscillator and Atmosperic Analyzer Pulse Mods now properly reference the correct Effect Duration platform modifier
Vac Pack and Guiding System Firefly mods now correctly increase Max Targets by the amount listed on the tooltip
Distributed Architecture and Super Glue Pulse mods no longer affect the radius/range of the Banshee Pulse
Explosive Seeker Mine radius now correctly says 5m in the Skills UI
Cluster Seeker Mine radius is now displayed in the Skills UI
Explosive and Cluster Seeker Mines now show the correct explosion radius before detonating
Incinerator Turret burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
Firestarter Chem Launcher burn damage is now affected by all increases to Skill Damage from geatalents
Firestarter Chem Launcher now correctly states that it inflicts fire damage.
This is a summary in my own words, based on my own notes, taken whilst watching SCL. I'll mostly be paraphrasing here rather than directly quoting anyone, and occasionally I might add my own comments which are identifiable through the use of Italics within brackets. I've included links below for the YouTube and Twitch VODs respectively. YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lSmdJ5UydE Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/454969871 In this week's episode of SCL, "Simon Bursey and Zane Bien join us [...] to talk all things UI development including vehicle HUDs, kiosks, and more." For reference, Simon is the UI Director, and Zane is now the/a Principle UI Core Tech Developer. Total: 25 Questions. Q01) What can you tell us about plans to let users customise their various HUD elements? (e.g. prioritising features, re-sizing elements, changing the colour) [03:28] TL;DRCustomisation can only be developed after they've got the default UI working in a way that's functional, and that they're happy with, otherwise it'd create a lot more work as they try to iterate on the UI's development to get it right. As such, they're more interested in why people want customisation, and whether there are other solutions to those problems. The difficulty in seeing some UIs in certain situations is addressed later. First they'd ask: why do people want to customise things? Their first thought is that it's because the current UI isn't working for people, so then they'd need to know what people don't like. In relation to this, they're reworking the HUD, Multi-Function Displays, and the FPS visor. Jared posits that one of the reasons people want to be able to change the HUD colour is because it can be difficult to read at times, so being able to change the colour could help with that, but also sometimes people just like different colours, or it could even be related to colour blindness. He continues by saying that it's important to get the basic building blocks of UI done first, before they implement customisation. Zane talks about how they're moving away from having static UI building blocks, to much more flexible ones that should help in solving UI issues. Regarding changing colours to make things easier to read, Zane suggests that there might be a solution to that problem that goes beyond UI (this gets talked about later). Jared reiterates that whilst they're still in development, they want to make the best default standard UI possible, which requires everyone to be using the same thing so that the feedback is unified rather than skewered, because otherwise the feedback would be in regards to specific customisations that would be hard to follow (because there'd be so many different setups). Simon specifies that they are interested in getting feedback about problems people are having with UI right now, and encourages people to share that feedback with them. Q02) Currently, UI elements like icons of station turrets or mission points can be very invasive, sometimes filling the screen. What can be done to make this more user-friendly/diegetic? [08:38] It's something that they're interested in looking at, but they're not sure how soon they're going to get to it. What they want is some sort of intelligent system that works based on how far away things are, based on a priority that the designers have somehow set, which then works out which things to show and how many of them to show - i.e. choosing which options from a massive selection are the most important to show. This would be the starting point to addressing the issue. Q03) As the universe becomes more complex, more entities are vying for space on the HUD: notifications, Points-of-Interest, QT destinations, ships, mission markers, etc. What can be done to manage all of this information? [09:49] TL;DRThey're moving towards a new UI tech system that will allow certain HUD elements to contextually minimise or disappear when they're not needed - a good example of this is the Target Box that often just sits there saying "No Target". On top of this, they want to avoid having information repeated (such as the same info being on the visor HUD as the ship HUD), as well as Players being able to choose what appears on their visor. Jared hints that they'll show off some UI WIPs in Q3 of ISC. Zane says that when they have easily flexible layouts, they can start thinking more about how to make things smarter regarding when info is displayed. He brings up an example that CR has referred to previously this year: the "Target Box" which often just sits there saying "No Target", saying that if you don't have a target, why don't they just not have the box there at all. Typically that extends across all UIs too, such as the MFDs, where if you don't need to view something at that time, it can disappear out of view and reappear when they're needed, i.e. being more contextual. Simon adds that as they've been developing, they've been adding more and more things, so now they can take a step back and figure out what they want to show and how best to do that. They refer to the Chat box as an example of how it's almost constantly overlapping other UI elements when really it needs its own space on the screen, which Zane says is because the Chat box and the Ship UIs are on two different contexts, so they don't know about each other's sizes. He mentions how they're reworking the MFDs right now, creating a whole new system that's much more systemic, where it has a grid system "where everything kind of fits into each other and you can create different sizes of widgets", and suggests that that's probably how it'd be when they revamp the rest of the UI too. They want to be able to not have information repeated, such as being on the helmet visor as well as being on an MFD, as well as Players then being able to specify what information/HUD element they want on their visor. This requires building the foundation first into the overall design, which is something they're spending a lot of time working on right now as the tech is being developed in parallel. So they're building the tools to help them as developers to make really good UI, and then when that's done they can put the good UI into the game for everyone to see and use it, and hopefully to give feedback on it. Jared hints that the next quarter of ISC will show off some of this UI work that's in-progress. Q04) Is the messsage-spam that keeps popping up on the HUD a bug or a design feature? [14:39] TL;DRNo; everything's competing for attention due to this problem only appearing after so many things were added into the game separately. Otherwise they need to investigate how to make the messaging system work, in relation to the visor HUD. They have a few ideas on how to do this, such as timers, limits to how many messages can appear, and more direct changes to how Players are notified about new messages. Simon thinks that it's a legacy feature from having so many things added to the game; that they're all competing for attention. It's something they're planning on investigating - the visor display generally - which is: what do we do to this messaging system to make it work for people. For example, they could give messages priority, so that something really important could override other stuff. They could implement timers so that they stay on for a set time. They could restrict how many messages show within a certain amount of time. Zane adds that they need a smarter system that knows what messages should be displayed there, and suggests that maybe the missions could just be a pulsating icon with a number on it, so that Players can see how many unread new missions there are at a glance. Simon adds that they want to split the mission notifications so that messages are in one place, and that they have a mission objective area showing the current mission related stuff, and somewhere separate perhaps for keyboard shortcut hints that might pop up, essentially trying to avoid having them compete for the same space on the screen. Q05) What are we doing to support non-1080p resolutions? Many Citizens have 21:9 or wider monitor resolutions. [17:15] Zane says that part of the issue is that the UI is currently very static. They're developing the ability to have flexible layouts, and those could potentially resize depending upon the aspect ratio of the Player's monitor, so that everything remains visible on the screen. The challenge though is that things are also in-world, such as the MobiGlas, which could be scaled, and also Field of View changes although FoV is something they're still looking into in terms of getting it all to work. Ultimately it comes down to prioritisation, and unfortunately making sure the UI works well with wider monitor resolutions isn't a priority right now. Q06) Are there any plans to add keyboard integration for navigating the various interfaces we encounter, so that it's not restricted to the mouse? (i.e. being able to use the arrow keys to scroll up and down on something like a kiosk screen [19:40] They want to design their UI so that it's much more keyboard-friendly. Right now you can only use the mouse, which is rubbish, because using the keyboard can at times be faster. They add that making the UI more keyboard-friendly can simplify it, which is generally good because then it's more likely to work well across other input devices too, such as a gamepad. The MFDs should be the first bit of UI to feature the more uniform control method that caters for most people. Q07) In a previous show they mentioned that they were moving away from the Flash and Scaleform stuff for HUD UI, in favour of a homegrown solution. What progress have they made with this? [22:18] (Scaleform is a game implementation of Flash - Chris talked about this earlier this year, which was my first summary. Go here:https://www.reddit.com/starcitizen/comments/b75cw3/a_summary_of_rtv_all_about_alpha_35/then scroll down to [UI] ) TL;DRThey still use Flash, but are working towards transitioning away from it, where instead they'll use their own code in a data-driven system. They still use Scaleform, but only for rendering, and that too will eventually be replaced with their own code. Moving away from Flash and Scaleform makes it quicker and easier for them to develop UIs, because Flash is outdated, time extensive, and it makes iterative development difficult due to not being able to see how something looks in-game as they're working on it. They used Flash and are still using it now, but they're trying to transition away from it by baking their assets into a much more data-driven system. Previously in Flash, you set things up in a static way where you can't see how it looks in-game until you export it and reload the editor. With the data-driven system, the interface with the game code is much more simplified, and they have a standard API so that a task such as creating UI for an ammo counter is really simple and updates live. This means that they can be in-game and have an editor open and work on the UI at the same time, to see what it looks like as they work on it. It's still using Scaleform as a renderer, meaning that they've cut out the process of authoring the UI in Flash, but they're still using Scaleform to draw the vectors but only for that rendering task, and the rest of the work is done by their own code instead. At some point though, they'll build their own render to replace Scaleform. Jared jokingly asks Zane how long he's been waiting to kill Flash, who says he's been waiting since he started working at the company, 6+ years ago (for those who many not know, Zane was an early hire straight out of college and originally worked in the Austin office, which back then was just a house, and this was also during the days of Wingman's Hangar). Simon adds to the discussion by explaining that Flash was originally designed as an animation system for web stuff, so it can be used for things like UI but it's hard to do iterative work with it where things change based upon feedback, which is because it's time extensive. Conversely, with the building blocks stuff it's quick and simple and they have a lot of control. Zane goes on to say that that's also true because it's a fully data-driven system, so the UI is programmatically drawn and driven from data so they don't worry about artists stepping on each others toes, because the changes the artists make can be merged together. Q08) Has there been any discussion about adding a compass ribbon, giving us cardinal directions on planets or moons? [27:24] TL;DRThere's no outright yes-or-no answer. It's something they may consider, but it's also possible that there are other solutions to the problem, such as a personal radar on the visor HUD. They recognise though that having a compass would require being able to set magnetic poles on the planets, and for the compass to then be able to access that information and display it, which might not be so simple due to the procedural nature of the planets. According to Simon, this is another situation where you need to understand the reason for wanting it, and that there may be other ways of solving the problem without creating a compass widget. He suggests that a personal radar or mini-map could show the Player their direction. However, he says that as they revise the visor HUD (which they're starting at the moment) if it seems that a compass is necessary then they'd consider and investigate it. Zane adds that it's not out of the question, but they would need a way to define what's North/East/South/West on these procedural planets, with Jared suggesting they'd have to be able to create and position magnetic poles. Simon suggests that some sort of Sat-Nav system may also solve the problem. Jared adds though that implementing a compass ribbon would be more than just UI work anyway, as it would need to involve system design. (it seems odd to me that they don't seem to recognise the value of having a compass, particularly for FPS situations where it can be incredibly helpful to be able to say "contact at 220" and for other Players to be able to quickly identify the location of those hostile targets - of course, if it's just not possible then okay fine, but perhaps then there might be partial solutions instead, such as a compass that Players would have to manually adjust per Planet/location) Q09) Is it possible to have a button to hide/toggle the HUD? (such as for taking screenshots) [30:05] TL;DRThey imply that it's possible, and say that as they're going through the different UIs, they'll also end up improving the Director Cam system, and so they'll look into including a way to toggle on/off certain bits of the UI, if not all of it. They reiterate though that they really only want UI information that's relevant to the Player at that time to appear on the screen, with the rest minimising or disappearing until they're needed again. They get a lot of Developers asking about how to do this. Zane says that as they overhaul their UI, they'll be improving the Director Cam system, so it's something they'll take into account at that time, especially since it'd also be helpful for the Devs. He suggests though that it could go further, such as being able to choose what you want to hide, like only the visor HUD, or maybe to hide all of the UI but not what's in the environment that brings it to life - like "background fluff screens". Simon adds that for the general UI, especially the visor HUD for FPS gameplay, they want to have a system which only shows you the UI that's relevant for you at the time, so if you put your weapon away you wouldn't need to see the weapon UI in the corner of your screen, or maybe you wouldn't show Health unless you get injured. This kind of work, which will result in only showing things when they're needed, should also help to de-clutter the screen. Q10) Are there any plans to allow a Chat UI to be viewed when not wearing a helmet? (such as through a contact lens or something) [32:13] Yes. It's vital to always be able to see the Chat in a multiplayer game, and they do have plans for it to be visible almost all of the time, even potentially in third person, and they'd "like to have that in sometime soon". Q11) What progress have they made on the interio3D/mini-map? [32:59] They have a developer version that's kinda halfway there at the moment, but fairly recently they made a decision to focus on getting the ship HUDs and the FPS HUDs sorted out first, because they're more integral to the overall gameplay and therefore they want to make sure they get them right and working well. After this, they'd then go back to the area map stuff, which will hopefully be "really soon". Simon clarifies that there'll be a full-screen version where you can look around the whole area, and a mini-map for the visor, which will be particularly useful when exploring interiors. Q12) Why does Quantum Calibration mode, Scanning mode, Mining mode, and any other sub-UI mode, take away or hide crucial flight information such as speed and altitude? [34:28] TL;DREssentially they were developed separately, and it wasn't their intention for crucial flight information to be removed when using those modes. Whilst they don't say it specifically, the new UI tech will help them to make sure that that information the Players need will be there, due to it being data-driven rather than a static UI. They were basically developed under the hood as "different contexts", and in their overhaul of the design they're factoring in all of the flight information so that it'll be available to Players regardless of what mode they're in, because it's still relevant when they're still flying, and therefore the information should be retained. In these modes referenced in the question, they're looking at potentially contextually changing out the "screens of cells" so that rather than the HUD changing for the different modes, they can shift elements around so that relevant information can still be displayed, rather than the new HUD for that mode just taking up the whole screen. Jared adds that it wasn't intentional to take away crucial information when using these modes, and that it's just something that's happened over the course of development that needs resolving. Simon adds that sometimes you don't realise it's going to cause issues until you try it, and this is one of those situations. Jared goes on to say that things can be developed in isolation, and then when they're integrated together into their game-dev branch, that's when they can see collisions and thus the creation of bugs. Q13) Are there any updates regarding their plans for the landing UI improvements which are needed for the implementation of Hover mode? [36:45] TL;DRThe previous UI they had implemented, typically seen prior to 3.0, used a different renderer (3Di) and now they use Render-to-Texture. As a result, it's not long compatible. They need to recreate this landing UI, but they're busy focusing on the MFDs right now, and they recognise they'll probably need some other stuff, such as a guidance system and AR elements. A while back they changed the method that they used to render the UI, from what was called 3Di to Render-to-Texture, so now it's actually rendered as part of the screens and can be affected by post-effects. The original landing UI replaced the radar, which was built using 3Di and therefore wasn't compatible with Render-to-Texture, and that's why it was removed. They're now looking at bringing it back in some way, but maybe with a better design (this was a bit confusing, regarding whether Zane meant that the "original landing UI" or the "radar" was built using 3Di. I think all he's getting at is that the 3D representation we had pre-3.0 that was used for landing, was built using 3Di but wasn't compatible any more when they switched to RtT - this was addressed in Q03 of the previous episode of SCL. Here's my summary for that:https://www.reddit.com/starcitizen/comments/ca7xxy/a_summary_of_star_citizen_live_all_about/ ). They're focusing on the structure and the layout of the MFDs right now, and also recognise potentially needing some sort of guidance system, as well as having some Augmented Reality elements that are displayed in conjunction with that. Q14) How do they intend to improve the legibility of UI elements that tend to sit over the environment, which can be very glaring, making the UI hard or even impossible to read? [38:15] TL;DRThe solution they're aiming for involves keeping the UI in-world. They'll have the UI displayed on geometry, and then that geometry can be dynamically tinted depending on the environment. At the same time, the text/info can be dynamically brightened to make sure it's still readable. They may also be able to use some sort of effect to achieve the same kind of goal, such as a blurred frosted glass effect. They can consider a back-shadow or black highlight, but they're concerned that it will conflict too much with their aesthetic aims. They're looking at a few in-world solutions. The obvious thing to do is to add a drop-shadow to the UI or just make it black, but that somewhat destroys the aesthetic of it. So what they're looking at, which they started looking at with the Gladius but isn't finished yet, is having a system where it's contextually and dynamically reading the brightness of the environment and adjusting the brightness of the UI in response to that. Additionally, to make sure the HUDs look like they exist in-world, they want them displayed on actual geometry to ground it, and they can leverage that to maybe dynamically tint the geometry that the UI is on, as well as then brightning the UI if needs be (depending on the environmental conditions). This solution is ideal because of being in-world (and thus not hindering immersion) but also because it leverages the in-game elements, making it more convincing. Jared asks for clarification, and Zane specifies that it'd involve tinting the physical glass pane but then also brighting the UI, like if you have your phone on automatic brightness and go outside into the sunlight, it'll auto-adjust to make it more readable (This is a thing?! My phone must be old). He adds that it's also an issue with the eye adaptation feature (where the Player's "eyes" adjust depending on how bright it is), because the UI becomes dim when you're on a planet during the daytime, as compared to being lit by the sun in space. They could potentially also have some sort of effect in the UI rendering tech, such as a blurred frosted glass effect, that could help with readability (particularly for the visor HUD in your helmet), and the same is true for busy backgrounds and not just bright ones. Regarding a potential back-shadow, or a black highlight around the words and numbers on the UI (as often suggested by backers) it's definitely something they can consider but it'll depend on how subtle it can or can't be to work, because that might not fit with the aesthetic they're aiming for, which would therefore require them looking for a different solution. Simon adds that as with a lot of the UI, they'll concept different ideas to figure out which is the best way to solve the problem, before committing to implement something. Q15) Currently the MFDs on ships have a default configuration that must be changed each time the pilot enters the pilot seat. Are there intentions to add the ability to save MFD configuration presets of an individual Player's preferences? [43:24] TL;DR Yes, and this is something that has to persist. The work they're doing on the MFDs will require them to load their state from something like an entity or the server. They're hoping that by the time they're done with the MFDs, that info will be available in those places (likely the server). They'll also be redesigned to have the most important information displayed by default, and hopefully it'll be possible to create and save presets for quick activation. Yes, that's got to persist at some point, and the issue right now is just that it doesn't. In their new UI tech, the UI will be what they call "stateless", meaning it won't store any state about itself and instead takes everything from an entity or from what's on the server. As such, when they develop the MFD or implement the new design they're working on, they hope they'll be able to persist the current state of the MFDs as they were before the Player exited the seat/cockpit, even if the Player had changed tabs or moved things around. Simon adds that when they do this pass on the MFDs, they want to make sure that the most important information is shown by default, so hopefully there'll be less need to change things around. Zane adds that potentially they'll also be able to make it so that presets could be created, saved, and then activated quickly (he actually just said the "activated" part but that implies creating and saving presets). Q16 ) Is there anything they can tell us about the ongoing process of refactoring the ship MFDs? [45:45] TL;DRThey want to move to a system where, when you're looking forwards, the MFDs will display a minimal configuration of information that is readable and useful whilst you're flying, but then they can show more in-depth information if you specifically focus on the screens. Additionally, the new UI tech they're developing (as part of moving away from Flash and Scaleform) will allow them to have just one binary file that they need to make changes in, which makes it easier to maintain the UIs. Right now the MFDs are small, scaled down, and not readable. Previously they used to have what they called "support screens" which were screens with minimal information on them, with a font size that made the information more legible. They're looking to have a system where by default, the MFDs will be in this minimised configuration where they only show the information that you really need to know, and they do so in a way that's readable without focusing on the display. However, when you then focus on the display, they want it to contextually change to something more in-depth, which can work because now the MFD has more screen-space to show readable information. Zane adds that the cool thing about the UI tech he's helping to develop, is that they're taking cues from web development (which is also his background so he knows a lot about it) where there's a thing called "responsive design". This is where you can have a rule set up so that, if there's a box in their UI that goes beyond a certain point, it then shrinks down, and you can have different styles applied to that, and conditionally so depending on the size of the box. As such they're leveraging that to help with the reformulation of the UI on screens, and it could also be helpful when they potentially implement customisation of HUDs/UIs as a tool to manage and maintain it. Right now in-game they have different sized screens, where each size has its own binary file, meaning that if they want to change one then they have to go into each binary file and make a change. But if they can maintain just one UI, which then has different style rules applied to it, then that makes it much easier to maintain. So changing one thing would then make that change for each different manufacturer, and every kind of configuration. Simon adds that regarding the actual process right now, they're looking through the designs that already exist in-game and working closely with the vehicles team to figure out what they want to show on the screens, to plan out what's going to be in all of the MFDs, so that they can then redesign each screen to achieve its maximum potential based upon what information needs to be shown. After that, the UI tech will eventually reach a point where the screen's are redesigned and the tech's ready to be put into the game. Q17) Currently Players have to go to a kiosk to view the cargo inventory for their ships. Are there any plans to implement some sort of on-ship cargo UI so that Players can view their cargo inventory without finding a kiosk to do that? [50:18] It's something that they will look at; they know that it's needed. What they're unsure of is when they'll get around to doing it (again, it comes down to prioritising and there'll be higher priorities right now, such as the HUD reworks they've extensively talked about so far). Q18) Are there any plans to allow Players to prioritise the use of missiles or torpedoes through the MFDs? [50:58] This is another thing they're going to look at. They're under the impression that they had this functionality previously, but it later broke. Simon adds that the UI does currently support this functionality, but that there's some refactoring that needs doing to get the weapons to "match up". It's something they want to do, which will be possible in the future, and with a better design. Q19) Are there any plans to allow Players to see Points-of-Interest in other UI modes? Right now they're only view-able in the Quantum Drive mode. [51:41] It's something that Simon's interested in doing, although he says it relates back to how they're going to manage what information is being shown, when it's being shown, and how. If they get to a point where the on-screen icons have been cut down to a sensible level, then they could consider whether it's worth having PoIs visible in other modes as well, and thus it'd be something that's worth having them look into. He says it's definitely the sort of thing you'd want to try out as you're developing it so that it can be iterated upon. Q20) Would it be possible to have an ETA marker to show when a ship in Quantum Travel will arrive at its destination, rather than just showing the remaining distance? [52:26] They think that this is a good idea, and so they'll be looking into it. Zane adds that they have an ETA for when a Player's Oxygen runs out, so they should be able to have one for QT. (side note: shouldn't Oxygen/O2 in-game be Air instead? :thinking: ) Q21) How do they feel about the current implementation of the Inner Thought system, and are there any plans to continue iterating on it? [53:07] TL;DRThere's an issue where the Inner Thought system displays text when it's not necessary to do so, such as you're using an airlock and the text that exists on the console then also appears in the form of Inner Thought - this is unnecessary and needs to be resolved, which it soon will be thanks to their new UI tech. They'll also eventually revisit the visuals of the system, to make it look as good as possible. They also hint again that there's some UI WIP that isn't ready to show yet, but might be shown in a Q3 ISC episode. Zane says that there are situations where the Inner Thought text appears when it shouldn't, such as over screens. A good example of this is when a Player is in an airlock and goes to use the console, and the Inner Thought text then appears over the console despite that same information already existing on the console (it's the same thing as when the door panel reads "Open" but then when you go to use it, the Inner Thought text appears on top of that as well). Their UI tech now allows for not having the IT text appear, which is particularly useful for things like elevators where the required information can be on or next to the buttons, without needing to use Inner Thought. They'll also be looking at the visuals of Inner Thought too, because although it looks okay now they feel it could be better. On a similar note, there's some other work they're doing at the moment on interactions that they're still figuring out, but it's something that's not quite ready to show just yet (Jared already said in the answer to Q03 of this episode that the Q3 ISC episodes will include some more looks at ongoing UI work, so it's possible that this will be shown as part of that). Q22) A long time ago they talked about the potential of manufacturer-specific UIs. Is that still the plan? [54:39] TL;DRYes it is, and their new UI tech makes it even more possible, because it'll mean they don't have to have a binary file per manufacturer, but just one binary file for everything. They then have a "style sheet system" which allows them to have a white box outline for UI, which can then have different designs applied to it, and is a lot more simple than what it would otherwise be if working with Flash. They also talk about investigating the possibility of creating 3D UIs, which will mostly be used for the more advanced ships, like those from Origin or MISC. Yes, and it's much more possible now with the UI tech because they have a "style sheet system". Previously (or currently?) this would require having a binary file for each manufacturer, which would be a pain to maintain, but the new UI tech (as mentioned previously) will allow for only one file so that only one change would need to be made to affect everything across the board. Zane explains further that the style sheet system is kind of like having a white box outline which can then have a visual description defined and applied to it, and changing between the different styles is simple because they can just use a drop-down menu to switch between manufacturers, and then see the visual description change between them. Simon adds that once the system is in place it gives them more opportunities to hand it over to the graphic designers who can create really nice designs which would then be a lot easier to just drop into the game, as opposed to being dependent on someone going into Flash and knowing how to code within Flash. Zane adds that with these style rules there are a lot of possibilities to differentiate between manufacturers, but also there are ways to do this through changing the layout, such as Origin and MISC having more holographic UIs. They're also investigating the initial engineering requirement to make it so that they can have 3D UIs as well, which would make holographic UIs look even more holographic. This would be particularly good for the more advanced ships, rather than the more retro ones. Zane comments about how right now every ship just has the retro UI, and that they want to significantly differentiate between the different tech levels of ships. Q23) The responsiveness of the MobiGlas can sometimes be a little slow. Is this an engineering problem? A UI problem? Something else? [58:18] Zane reckons that the time it takes for the arm animation to play, as well as how long it takes for the MobiGlas to boot-up, could be reduced, but they're not focused on MobiGlas at the moment. He does reiterate though that they're looking to overhaul the whole UI (which would most likely include the MobiGlas). They've just got to set a target time for how long it should take between the Player pressing the button to open the MobiGlas, and the MobiGlas being open and ready to use. Simon adds that because the MobiGlas is supposed to be a holographic display, they could have that display start to show before the Player's arm has finished moving. Q24) Is there anything you can tell us about the future of MobiGlas? (despite it not being the focus right now) [59:36] It's kinda similar to what they're doing with the ship MFDs. Once the ship and visor UIs are done, they'll probably look at the MobiGlas, and part of that will likely involve talking to the game designers to make sure that the MobiGlas works as is needed, and they can also incorporate the new tech at the same time. It's due an overhaul though, and Simon's looking forward to it. Zane adds that because the MobiGlas is 3D, it also depends on the UI tech being able to do 3D UIs as well, which will need to be sorted out before they can make the MobiGlas holographic UI 3D. Q25) Is the UI team hiring, and what skills are needed most? [01:00:57] Yes. The job specs on the website are slightly out of date though and they'll update them soon. They're looking for at least a programmer. They're not currently looking for artists and graphic designers, but that could change in the future. For programmers, the essential things they're looking for are an ability to show experience, and having a knowledge of what makes good UI, such as why things work in other games. For artists they look at a lot of graphic design work because of how relevant that is to UI work, but they also look for an understanding of why a particular screen might be good on a particular app, or how it could be improved. Zane adds that it'd be helpful to have a tools programmer as well. He goes on to say that because the UI is becoming data-driven, that means they're actually dealing with a lot of raw data. As a result, they need to create a UI Editor that the designers and artists will interface with, which would need to be intuitive and easy to use, so a tools programmer that could help with that would be very handy. Here's a link to CIG's Jobs page: https://cloudimperiumgames.com/join-us - - - - - The End. This one's a little later than usual 'cause I've been busy and shit. I wasn't even sure I'd get it done for today so I'm glad it worked out. As always, I hope you all like this summary. Remember to be kind to each other, and I'll see you with the next one.
[TLDR] BFV Alpha hasn't inspired confidence in this old fan
I think I'm gonna pass buying this: there's no sitting at suburb, in a weird peace hearing the distance battle, all the while knowing it could come crashing down on you at a moments notice. BF3 and on have been just non-stop hectic combat everywhere, no sense of pacing or ebb-and-flow.. something the BF2 trailer nodded to: https://youtu.be/fQ2c3Yj7Haw?t=138 Yes, the trailer had to sell, and as a whole, it is this all out assault on a single base. But then when it is taken, the assault is over, and if it weren't for the commander asset, it would have been a sweet break in the combat. That base on Daqing Oilfields? It was sometimes a bloody intense 4 squad firefight, other times you could be holding it with nobody coming, but you knew the longer it went after taking it, the harder that wave of enemies was gonna crash down on you. It was the same with Strike at Karkand's Suburb I mentioned earlier - It gave teams critical access to Market and Train, and getting it was sometimes an intense firefight - but it would be a minute or two before the enemy could react - going in alone was a bad idea, so typically a tank or Vodnik/Humvee would be used. These little self contained matches, these battles - taking bases was always this (with some poor map design exceptions, such as Hotel on said Strike at Karkand). These were what made Battlefield such a lasting and memorable experience. The reward for playing was victory, was collaboration, was succeeding with your friends or even strangers online. Yes, weapon or class or vehicle balance was often broken, but the core gameplay was that the battlefield was not one huge front of players murdering each other, it was a collection of little conflicts, clashes between squads, vehicles coming in to provide critical support when things went south. None of this in a hardcore, ARMA-style play - the emergent arcade experience simply encouraged this kind of play. Every battle had this story, it wasn't brief 'battlefield' moments, it was fighting for every meter of dirt up the side of Mashtuur City from Hotel to North Gas Station, seeing buddies drop and supporting your squad, always on the lookout for flanking. Getting to the top, having an incredible firefight with one or even two squads, then taking that base and knowing they'd be coming back for it. Having time to regroup, plan a defense and hold it while someone scouted out to either lay traps or just be an early warning. A solid 2-3 minutes of battle to take a base, reviving, spawning, pushing, grinding, and achieving ultimate little victories. Some of what made this succeed was the 6 man squad: splitting the squad, sending 4 guys head on into an enemy defense, while a squad leader and a medic circle around back to find a safe spot for the leader to sit back and overwatch from was a fundamental strategy everyone naturally came to use. That's how we did Junkyard on jalalabad - usually from market or fountain, we'd scope it out and look for mines, if there were mines and we had humvee, we'd jump the fence, if we had vodnik we'd park it in a corned outside the fence and draw fire, while the main 3 dps, usually a medic a support and antitank, went through the house or around back to the bridge. The vodnik would lookout so the leader and medic could wrap around the main entrace, in case t90/abrams were watching. This was organic, and would happen with randoms, not try hards, it was something people did once they realized having a squad leader alive was worth cooperating for. My friends and I did this specific tactic maybe two or three times. I played map over a hundred times, and I can remember at least as many experiences I had on it. This was just taking a single base. Not even the whole battle, which I could even tell you what we did from there. I can't remember anything like this from games after BF3.. There are moments - but no experiences, no stories to embellish, nothing I could describe in detail, as if telling a war story from some war long ago. The new battlefield has given me nothing more than a collection of moments that I remember hazily. BF5 is more of what made BF3 so bad for long time fans: if 1942-2142 were a tide of war, two waves crashing against eachother, or a rising tide trying to engulf a stronghold; BF3-BFV are a swimming pool. No matter where you are in it, you're in the middle of it. The only times you're not in the middle of it is when you're above it (flying) or not in it at all (deployment, or spawn screen). In BF classic, you could choose to be an engineer in a jeep, just blitzing around repairing tanks, or a support jeep resupplying everyone as needed. (medic/engineesupport resupplied repaired and healed with an aura when driving vehicles) - And hated as the player role may have been for ease of exploitation, commanders had assets, and these required engineers and even squads to stay behind the front lines to repair them or protect them. Players that wanted to constantly play at the front could do that too, because up the beach or out at sea, there's a calm - oceans rise because they are pushed from behind, and waves break because they are being pushed back by the slope of the beach. In BF3-BFV you're always at the front line, and the way classes evolved shows that, the level designs show that, the gimmicks show that. The expectation and the design is to simply ALWAYS be in thick of it. And if you're always in the thick of it, what makes one battle more memorable than the other, what reward is there for being creative or even playing for the team? Calling post BF3 Battlefield a COD Clone, or saying it is becoming CoD has become somewhat of a meme, but when Battlefield 3 was released, the sentiment was brutally honest feedback from players which loved Call of Duty's hectic play, but also Battlefield slow and methodical arcade. I was one of those players - Until Modern Warfare introduced killstreaks, I put as many hours into Call of Duty as I did Battlefield. Modern Warfare was the first Billion dollar launch in the history of games, an industry where just breaking even was common (calculated as future development costs plus development costs), and having a "mere" 200% return on investment was a huge success. Modern Warfare changed all that. EA is owned by investors, and the idea of spending 100-200 Million to make 1.5 Billion was too attractive to pass up - or so we fans like to think. No other reason could have existed to justify the changes made to the core of the game franchise. There were only two major shifts that ocurred between Battlefield 2142 and Battlefield 3. Games started making billions per title, and Battlefield went to console. A third, Battlefield Bad Company, is not really a possible reason as the franchise has had several spinoffs during the classic Battlefield era. Console audiences demanded deep offline experiences (campaigns) for success - a fact that can be seen by simply looking at the performance of games on console that lack campaigns as opposed to the same on PC. Games like Fortnite, PUBG, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, Quake, Unreal Tournament - and many more - simply could not have achieved Call of Duty level sales - even Battlefield's own attempts floundered until Battlefield Bad Company. Pushing a Campaign into the game was required for two reasons - the Xbox 360 requires that a game be playable offline (if installed with a disk/on a disk), and console players were much more likely to buy a full price title just for the single player campaign. This is the critical reason for console sales far exceeding comparable PC sales, even though the number of PC players dwarfs the number of console players. In order to achieve that Billion dollar franchise, EA had to add a campaign. Remember, this is years ago - the industry has shifted, with consoles now allowing for online play to be required, and console players being much more willing to purchase games that lack a defined single player campaign. In adding a Campaign, DICE had to effectively split development - something they had partly avoided doing for Bad Company 2, where levels used in the Single Player were frequently repurposed for the Multiplayer. Battlefield 3's single player is in many ways a compeltely different game to the multiplayer - with vehicles, assets and even engineering technologies being used that are simply unnavailable in the multiplayer release. Some of these were concessions made in order to make Battlefields single player as good looking as possible, while also pushing the hardware to the limit just to get the multiplayer running on the Xbox 360. This is where the biggest pitfall would happen - Consoles require certification for release, consoles are inexpensive to procure, both the campaign and the multiplayer are very large and require lots of eyes on them to catch bugs. The result of all this is majority testing and feedback and data, pre-release, came from console testing. How do I make this claim? As we all know, Xbox 360 and PS3 have analog input, they have fewer buttons. Most importantly, they could only run 32 players at a time. On PC, picking up a kit was bound to its own key in all games leading up to BC2. The console lacks the number of buttons, so kit swap, something used very frequently in Battlefield, switched from being its own button, to "Hold Reload to Swap". This is a surface tip - we could even call it a coincidence. Dig deeper: Vehicles in BF3 and BF4 react very poorly to binary input, this can be seen best with the Jetskis in BF4, but also Jets and Helicopters in BF3 lacked certain features, certain types of braking and acceleration types which were mapped to the extremes of the analog sticks or triggers, these could be mapped on PC using the config file, but were simply missing in the menus - one of which was the ability to decelrate hard, or air brake. Another area where this could be seen was in infantry movement itself. There was a sluggishness and jankiness to swithing angles (pressing strafe and back or forward), which was even visible in other vehicles but most pronounced in infantry. A game with a special animation engine marketed as being the great next thing was delivering a second-rate movement experience on PC - specifically, when using binary input. Battlefield 3 deleting the weapon wheel preview would be another place where this change is clear. All of these are little things that point to a console first, PC second *feedback* loop. Testers and play testers were spending most of their times behind analog controls. The two most critical problems the franchise faces stem from that. Battlefield 3 and 4 level design and weapon balance is console centric. 3D spotting broke Battlefield 3 and 4 on PC. 3D spotting has a place in the console world - Battlefield has large environments, TVs are often poorly configured, low resolution or simply unable to show enough detail in darker rendered environments to make enemies sufficiently visible - Analog sticks are relatively unwieldy so hitting a 3D spotted target, while possibly easy for some of the best, is a challenge for most, unless that target is close enough for aim assist, at which point 3D spotting makes very little difference as the enemy is right on top of the player. On PC, however, tracking and clicking on the little doritos is child's play, the mouse is an incredibly intuitive and accurate pointing device. Open levels on PC, those with helicopters and jets especially, were deathtraps for infantry on PC, forcing most players to play the engineer role to simply get back at the enemy for dying 4 or 5 times from a mile away. Being spotted also meant that if an enemy could see you, they could also shoot at you, and on PC that usually means they will hit you, immediately. This sort of issue is genuinely game breaking, and can turn even the biggest maps into meat grinders for infantry deaths (Alborz Mountains). Where there was some salvation from 3D spotting there was another problem. Level design on infantry focused maps in BF3 and to a smaller extent in BF4, were designed to allow console corner peeking, and worse yet, were designed for 32 players on console. Console corridor play is very different to PC corridor play. A hallway in a console game is difficult not when a target is far from the center of the screen, but when the target is far from the player character. On PC it is the exact opposite, a target at the end of a mile long hallway would be as hard to hit as a target at 25 feet (assuming the bullet can hit at the same time for both distances - the point being PC doesn't, as above mentioned, rely on aim assist). On PC, the traditional approach to hallway, or close quarter combat, is to require the player to have turn to find or search for targets: a wide room room that isn't very deep is far more dangerous to the player than the same room on console, as the console player can snap with aim assist. Grand Bazaar examplifies this issue. All primary combat areas on this map are long narrow channels, rather than wide fields of view with ample cover. Similarly, Caspian Border's central flag on the hill could see directly into several other bases. While on console this is largely a non issue given the lack of aim assist at longer ranges (making the addition of suppression a good way to slow the action down and make it more intense, while also rewarding players for putting bullets down range, you know, let them have fun) - on PC, this kind of access (in addition to 3D spotting) made spawn camping and random deaths a very common isssue. Tracking targets is difficult on console, especially at a distance, and that's ok, Halo has some of the best combat in FPS ever, and it would be miserable (well, it is miserable) on PC, except when the maps are designed from the ground up for PC. The second aspect I mentioned is weapon balance - Battlefield 3 was abysmal for this, and most of the outcry came from PC players, as well as console players who had the misfortune of facing of with an analog stick god. Guns like the USAS 12 FRAG, or the 40mm slug - these were largely non issues for console, at least when compared to the total game breaking balance they had on PC. Sniping with 40mm and the frag was easy, landing all shots was easy - weapons that either aimed to add crowd control or provide very accurate aim with a very accurate weapon were simply completely broken for the PC audience - again, because the bulk of the pre-release development test audience was on analog sticks. Making the best possible console version of Battlefield meant dealing major damage to the core of the game - Battlefield 2 would have been miserable on console, it was far too big for console aiming systems and was balanced for players with pin-point accuracy through inordinate amounts of random bullet spread to artificially manage DPS. While RBS is common on console, too, most games will switch to a kind of magnetism when close enough and aiming close enough to the target - hits are guaranteed, for example, when using BDMCarbine/etc in Halo when the reticle turns red. This works really well there, incredibly well, but is completely broken when done the same way on PC. In chasing after Console crowds by adding the campaign, and everything it entailed in terms of QA time needed, DICE shifted critical game testing resources away from PC - all in an effort to appease the shareholders who saw major dollar signs in EA's most popular first person shooter. DICE made Battlefield 3 more like Call of Duty not because of their greed, and maybe not even intentionally, but in their effort to make the best Console Battlefield, they fundamentally altered the PC formula. Battlefield Bad Company was everything Battlefield could be with the hardware resources they had to work with - and it is unabashedly good. It had issues, but resolving them, and expanding the experience would have made a better console Battlefield than Battlefield 3 was, and Battlefield 3 should have simply chosen to stay true to its PC roots and hack in a single player experience to fit into the market demands for console. A swiss army knife has it all, sure, but it doesn't really do any of it very well. tldr: classic battlefield was better at being a player driven battlefield with much more dynamic flows and playstyles. Yes, they had LOTS of issues, and things like gunplay were atrocious. BUT: Battlefield stood apart by offering a sandbox experience that let all players be in control of how they played - something that was even reflected in Mod tools, private servers and local game hosting.(edited) inb4 strike at karkand grenade spam fest - like i said, the games were far from perfect, but they were also a distinct franchise which rewarded some planning and creativity greatly, while it punished mindlessness without skill harshly. some of the best fun I had in BF2, for example, was driving my brothers around from base to base on kubra dam, just to cap and ditch... usually after a rough grind on some other map... because that was an option, to just shoot the shit and sometimes shoot the enemy.
In this chapter: A skilled cogent's most dangerous weapon is their own experience Next chapter: My mind, to your mind. My thoughts, to your thoughts Fun trivia fact: If editing and revising the book takes me until this coming November, it would count for NaNoWriMo. Right? Hardwired series homepage Previous Chapter CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
Oh, of all the times to- [Ammunition depleted.] Really? You don’t say- [Would you like to view a list of nearby vendors of this caliber and payload? Y/N] N.
He could already hear the sounds of Saru's warmech, as it stopped a hasty duck away from the predicted field of fire, and instead began to lean back in towards the ruined crater of an office. Ajax's heat sensors flared a warning, and he dove to one side and under a laminated multi-tiered desk as the chem-laser burned a path through where he had just been standing. The beam swept slightly to the sides before winking out, clearly searching for a target.
Nice try, asshole. Looks like he still doesn't have a lock on my fusion emission yet. No telling how long the dust will give me cover in that regard though.
As Ajax picked his way down to the base of the ruined building, one of his internal processes pinged a results indication. Ajax had been surprised it had spoken up: typically this partition was for advanced or in-depth combat analysis, and to return a result this quickly was surprisingly quick given its previous processing speeds.
[Results ready for [Target Neutralization] - subtype [Alternate]. Data derived from combat diagnostics, strategic readouts, and [Lilutrikvian] warmech data cached in previous encounters with the [Ares] model.] Ah, right: having the previous armor analysis file on-hand probably made that job a lot faster, but even then it usually needs a half-megacycle before it can assemble a de novo response- [Secondary data sources based on primary correlations compiled from local historical EM data, local Terran expat demographic data, and 458 scans of immediate half-click surrounding region.] That's a fairly specific set of searches; looks almost like the code was looking for other cogents. [Affirmative.] Well, then. Explain reasoning behind this search. [The [Ares] model of warmech is hardened against both chemical, biological, nuclear, and cybernetic damage and incursions. For the latter category, however, the general novelty in general Lilutrikvian digital warfare and lack of attack-hardened firewalls likely meant that cruder methods of security were more effective.] Elaborate. [Instead of having fully-networked and robust wireless connectivity secured via reinforced and layered firewalls, the [Ares] appears to be limited to a single cluster of wireless antennae and a triwalled anti-incursion firewall for digital defense. Otherwise, the general design idea of 'air gapping' appears to have been the preferred method for digital security.] Still not seeing it. Lilutrikvians tend to be naive in cyber warfare design, but why would it matter that the warmechs are the same? [Control of the warmech frame likely occupying the majority of [Sarucogvian] processing output. Due to myriad of threats and security issues, physical security of his neural web would be key factor in where his primary data files and active web are located.] Yeah, that damn thing is probably the most heavily-armored terrestrial bastard on this side of the planet.
Another rumble and shower of dusty clay pattered his frame as Ajax knelt near the bottom-floor lobby. Every few minutes he could hear the report of Hera's railgun, but judging from the lack of audible mechanical carnage afterwards he guessed she was in a poor position to do anything but lay down some sort of suppressing fire.
Kind of wish we brought more rocket launchers after all. Railguns aren't ideal for trying to arc fire over obstacles like you can do with an explosive missile. This is starting to ramble. Summarize rationale as list. [Summarizing...] [Point A) [Sarucogvian] is inside an [Ares]-class warmech.] [Point B) The [Ares]-class warmechs require a functional communications array in order to wirelessly transmit or receive.] [Point C) There are no functional and powered civilian cogents or high-level AI-equivalents other than self and attack-hardened contact [HERA] within [0.66] kilometers.] [Point D) The [Ares]-class warmech [Sarucogvian] is occupying has sustained heavy damage to the wireless array. Effective expected range is < meters.]
Points of data and realization finally coalesced in Ajax's neural web as he realized what his projection subroutines had discovered.
[Conclusion: Target [Sarucogvian] is-] -is trapped like a worm in a virtual machine.
He ran a quick check to see if Sarucogvian had performed any similar EM-scans or other database pulls regarding any possible nearby substitutes for him to hide in. They all returned negative results.
Not only that, but he's too focused on me to even realize it.
Ajax could almost feel a whoop of joy from his combat and fuzzy memory comparison modules: he had been anticipating a drawn-out need to run Sarucogvian to ground first, and eliminate his copies. Instead, he had apparently lucked into the Lilutrikvian cogent boxing itself off and cutting a months-long expected mission completion timeframe to less than two hours.
Two hours? I'll bet I can beat that.
The ground shook as one of the red enamel-coated metal claws slammed into the pavement outside of the lobby. Ducking out as far as his security subroutines let him dare, Ajax scanned the position of the warmech and let his processors run for a few decacycles to come up with a top-efficiency climbing route. Loading the route up, a series of purple-highlighted miniature nav-markers suddenly crisscrossed their way up the limb, to the flat plateau of the torso directly above the fusion core. He put on a burst of speed, letting his joints strain within an acceptable range of wear in order to get a bit of extra speed and height onto his initial vault. Arms out at exactly the right angles, Ajax slammed into the side of the leg, an access hatch handle and redundant heatsink meeting his waiting hands. As he began pulling and lunging upwards, Ajax noticed a distinct pause in the robot's pace a few seconds later, followed by each leg briefly lifting up a dozen feet or so, holding position, before crunching back into place.
Ah come on you oversized crawfish, you weren't expected to run a mass-countercheck until I got to the second joint. That's the problem with fighting a damn AI, is they tend to notice everything.
One of the other claws came free of the shop it was embedded into, sweeping forward to scrape him off of the leg with the weight of a decaton of steel-alloy behind the blow. It loomed overhead, dropping quickly, as Ajax vaulted upwards as quickly as his servos could handle.
Almost there. Just a few more meters-
His display highlighted the outline of a knee plate that jutted out just far enough to give him shelter from the blow. The problem was that the limb had begun dragging downwards, the scraping of metal reverberating off of the buildings that still stood.
[Alternative route found: Estimated time savings of [0.58] seconds, increase in handhold grip risk up by [+25%]. Would you like to use this new route? Y/N] Y, damn it. I need all the speed I can get.
The dotted series of handhold grips flickered and shifted. Multiple of them were now marked in red, warning him of less than two centimeters of estimated raised texture or plating that he could grab ahold of. As he lunged for the next-closest grip, he could feel one set of digits slide off, a few minor reminders cropping up in his neural web to remind him that he was several years past the estimated effective wear date for the friction-adding finger coatings. As a result, the rubber-like polymer that would normally give him a fine fingerprint-like texture and greatly-enhanced gripping power had aged and worn and degraded to the point of being like a sleek and cracked plastic instead. His other flailing hand managed to grab it, and after a sickening millimeter of sliding, held firm. Ajax swung slightly, before slowing enough that he could brace his feet again and climb to the next route of grips and ledges. Keenly aware of the rapidly-decreasing countdown timer pinned in his neural web, the crushing claw coming ever closer, Ajax recalculated the estimated position of the claw-arm by the time he had reached the knee pad.
[Warning: target [killerLeg_1.0] will pass calculated point before estimated arrival. Faster and/or alternate routes not known. Would you like to perform a deep-calculation analysis prediction? Y/N] N. I can't afford the cycles to spare right now. Time to find another way down.
He turned his apical node slightly, allowing his lenses and sensors to scan across the nearby rooftops.
I could always jump for it, go into a roll, and hope that the fall was enough to cause the claw to miss.
His prediction files flagged a minuscule [8%] success rate, flagging the difficulty in sensor evasion on the rooftop free of any significant cover, the wide area of effect the weapons on the warmech could pulverize, and the ease in recalculating the arm's descent to just follow his attempted escape and continue to simply crush him on the rooftop. As Ajax shifted his weight, hanging onto the metal handle jutting out of a lubrication ring, it began to slide again. He could feel his GOM driver trying to spool up a string of curses, when an idea started to emerge in his neural web, helped along by a few of his more optimistic prediction algorithms and a healthy push of desperation by his combat programs to take a plan, any plan, to avoid being swatted like a gnat.
Highlight structure of incoming leg. Cross-reference against observed structuring patterns and components I've seen while climbing this leg. Flag any with predicted rotational motion with a drag coefficient of less than 0.05. Execute. [Would you like to change the Reynolds number for fluid estimations, or keep the default value of 1E4?] Default is fine, just execute the blasted program. [Processing...]
The leg was outlined in white, and a flashing set of vertical rings lit up in striped yellow, still approaching far faster than Ajax would have preferred. One such ring, designated as [predictedLubricationRing_G2], was nearly directly above him, and his zoom lens spun into focus to show him a crisp image of the exposed handles jutting out from it.
Ajax dropped a half-dozen meters, alighting on a half-meter-wide servo housing. Bracing and aiming carefully, he spooled up several precise motor impulses in his awaiting command queue.
Over-exert servo speeds to maximum possible parameters, provided projected normal combat movement speeds are not reduced below 25% as a result. Power conversion of backup batteries 3 through 5 are designated for the next megacycle as Available in [capacitor-discharge] format.
He leapt, arm outstretched. The handle met his rising hand, and as expected, his momentum carried him continually upwards past the descending leg. His inertia was arrested by the handle, and by extension his arm, and his alarms flared to life to show him the spiderweb of microfractures he had caused across the strut structures for that arm. None of them were predicted to fail within the next hour or so, and so Ajax temporarily dismissed the alarms. They were fairly high-level alerts, and he could almost feel them sulking as they moved aside to make room for his current active and situation-critical cycle allocations. Already, he had begun to spin, over the arm and lurching downwards before coming back around and up again. He could feel his gyroscope give a warning wobble, aggravated by the hundred feet of air below him, but the high cycle demand from his combat and scenario analysis modules appeared to have taken a higher priority for now. Ajax wasn't about to question his good fortune in that regard, and instead refocused on the calculations for his release from the claw-arm.
If I tried just jumping onto the arm, Saru would probably just smash me against a building or try to smush me between two arms. This, however? I don't think he'll have seen this coming.
Calculation completed, Ajax waited until the exact indicated moment before releasing. He soared upwards, momentum dying until near the apex of his leap. There, his frame roughly met the outermost edge of the warmech's armored carapace; a second later, he heard a crunch below him as the inevitable weight of the arm smashed another structure to rubble. Already the point-defense turrets for the warmech had begun deploying, and he began sprinting towards the ruined remains of the communications array as bullets pocked against the armored shell behind him.
Not leading their shots, then. Looks like Saru isn't hand-controlling everything at this point.
He could dodge most of the shots, but not all, and small but insistent damage readouts began to pile up as they indicated minor wiring cuts and shrapnel splinters becoming embedded in less-reinforced areas of his frame. The cluster of damaged comm spires provided cover in most directions, but as Ajax listened the steady droning pingpingpingpingping continually became louder and louder. Worse, his EM suite was picking up attempts to get him in a missile lock. The chem-laser likely had a perfect bead on him at the moment, but one advantage of Ajax's current position was that it was approximately directly above the power relay systems, and any attempt to kill him with it would just as easily burn a hole clean through the warmech at the same time and kill him in the process. A missile, on the other hand, would explode and leave Ajax as borderline-recognizable scrap while giving the armor little more than a new dent and some carbon scoring. The loadouts displayed previously when he was skirmishing against the other warmechs in his own suit had been an explosive warhead only, with no exotic plasma or similar destructive force for him to bait Saru into using on himself.
Still, I'm not here for Saru to destroy himself. Again. I need that fusion core intact and unbreached for this plan to work.
As Ajax had hoped, there was a Lilu-sized access hatch near the base of the ruined communication antennae. It was locked, of course, but Ajax had already begun a close-read scan for microwear on the keypad to come up with the access code.
Come on, come on. Even for a fresh-off-the-line model, they still did maintenance and quality control tests, right?
It took painfully-long cycles, but finally he had a ten-digit set of possibilities that he began rapidly trying. His hand was a blur as it vibrated against the predicted button sequences.
[Access denied] No buffering and prevention of repeat code-entry attempts. [Access denied] An oversight, but understandable if you think the only people who can get close enough to plug a line into your ports again are your own techs. [Access denied] That said, I'd kill for a set of personality profiles to pull from to try and do a Markov estimation.
A notification pinged in his neural web, from a sender that caused him to immediately quarantine and analyze the message.
-Ah, Ajax. Having fun yet?-
It seemed like the attack attempts on Ajax hadn't ramped up significantly as Saru initiated the message, but a brief check of his firewall statuses indicated a large surge in data packets, seemingly harmless, attempting to be granted access.
Attempting to send code-snippets inside, to assemble later? Saru, you'll have to try harder than that.
A possibility was forwarded to him from his cyberwarfare algorithms, and intrigued, Ajax allocated a set of cycles for the idea. He was further encouraged by the timestamp with the previous time he had used this tactic as being a medium-priority sub-memory from over fifty years ago.
Probably not something you were paying attention to when snooping around my head, so there's less of a chance you'll know to counter it, or even be on the look-out for this stratagem. Splinter viral-payload designate [FullNelson_4_v2.2]. Encode in repeating pattern, and translate through [UnwantedObserver] cyphering program, wavelength specification [Infrared], component specification [heatsink_2_PandoraSystems3BHI_redundant]. Add current objective as secondary objective to primary payload. [Executing...]
The program altered the output tolerances of his heatsink ever so slightly, to effectively pulse them. A cogent who wasn’t careful to sanitize all of their data input streams, including those coming from their own sensors, would read this pulsed binary code stream into their own systems. It was slow and inefficient, but Ajax’s predictive drivers were flagging it with a surprisingly-high possibility of success.
Saru might be just too clever to try pushing back a splintered attack program, but my bet is he's not too familiar with what one AI can spring on another.
He re-opened the message band to Sarucogvian.
[Oh, it's a little fun, I won't deny it. You're actually giving my heat sinks a good workout, for once!] Come on, take the bait-
Ajax could feel the suspense spooling up in his combat response drivers, as they calculated how long it would be until a viable missile lock was achieved and he was a smoking crater on the warmech's hull.
There were a series of loud, clattering thumps and hums as various parts of the warmech began to slow, before locking into place. There was an odd, echoing silence, punctuated only by the tinkle of glass shards falling from cracked and battered windows.
[Incoming message from contact [Sarucogvian]. Display? Y/N] List subheading only. [Subheading: ACHIEVED - VERIFICATION 70776-e6564] Excellent. Open message.
The file opened, and a full and comprehensive diagram of the warmech blossomed to life, filling in the few grey areas of his own schematic analysis wireframe. All of the joints and weapon