Under The Bonnet | Last Call

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

Hello internet!

Sadly, I must announce that my work on Under The Bonnet is coming to an end – at least for the time being. Hand-auditing all of the game data changes in the latest Star Citizen patches has always been a time-consuming affair, and it’s getting tougher and tougher to keep up with CIG’s aggressive patch schedule. My own lack of free time these days makes it even trickier finding a good window to do this kind of thing properly and give the time and attention to detail it deserves.

So for now, I’ll be stepping down. This is a difficult decision; running these articles has provided an incredible amount of insight into Star Citizen’s inner-workings while we see the game slowly etch it’s way into a playable state over a period of time. The game’s development is really starting to ramp up with the release of Arena Commander and other impending major milestones, making this an exciting time for those of us who love seeing what’s happening to the game under the hood. I have absolutely no doubt this is going to be an incredible game when it’s finished (I wouldn’t have thrown several hundred dollars at it otherwise), and I look forward to seeing what develops in the future.

For anybody who hasn’t already, I highly recommend subscribing to AnythingFPS’ Youtube channel – this guy is insanely good at taking the game’s assets (especially unused / upcoming content hidden away in the latest builds) and turning them into amazing artistic masterpieces – even superseding my own legendary content! If you’ve somehow missed his work, now is a great opportunity to get yourself up to speed.

I want to extend a special thanks to the Guard Frequency team for providing a home to these articles. You guys have been great, and I look forward to stalking you with my F7C-S in the Persistent Universe!

This is Parias from Under The Bonnet… signing off.

Under The Bonnet | Patch 12.1

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

Here’s the second part of our Under The Bonnet back-to-back special! Part one can be found here in case you haven’t seen it yet (and you’ll probably want to, as that article reflects the first released step in Star Citizen’s transition from just a basic hangar simulator into an actual space combat game – the changes are immense). For part two, we cover patch 12.1 which CIG snuck out while I was still going over the previous changes.

We do have a lot of interesting developments this time around – CIG has put a lot more work into the Freelancer, and we’ve now seen the official release of the it’s variants! Yes, the same ones which “accidentally” slipped into the game files several builds ago and were just as quietly removed once discovered.. they’re now in full production with working animations, interactivity, and shininess. To this end they’re also available for purchase for those who’s wallets sprang out of their pockets after seeing the awesome new Freelancer commercial; I know mine almost did.

As is always the case with smaller-scale updates, there are fewer things to go over so I’ll probably be going into more detail about normally-frivolous things this time around. Enjoy.

Under The Bonnet | Patch 12

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

A new month has finally heralded the release of the much-awaited Dogfighting Module (more formally known as “Arena Commander”) release for Star Citizen! After more than a few mishaps and unexpected delays, the team finally rushed it out the door early last week…. and then rushed it out the door again a few hours later after realizing the actual dogfighting maps had accidentally been excluded somehow. Whoops.

But everything’s in order now and many of us have had a chance to check out the first evidence of real, actual gameplay that Star Citizen has to offer. This turned out to be one of the largest patches yet (understandably), bringing the game download size up to 10GB. This also makes for a somewhat daunting exploration of the files given the sheer amount of stuff that’s changed… you’ll also notice we’re back down to Build 75 now. Correspondingly, I’ve noticed that the Client_Release.id file shows a completely different branch this time (“release12” vs last month’s “patch11”) so there’s some strong evidence that we’re working with a very different build this time.

In fact, this build is so different that it took me several days to actually work through the insane number of changes and pick out what was worth reporting on! It actually took me so long that CIG snuck out a second update while I was still working on this, so you’re actually getting an Under The Bonnet back-to-back special. See part two here.

CIG has also confirmed that the .PAK files have been locked down a bit; Scripts.pak cannot be opened at all now with standard tools (and requires a bit of extra know-how parse), and while the other archives can still be edited freely, the game will fail to read them properly on boot-up if modified. This limits the amount of fun one can have versus the previous builds, but is understandable given the need to keep the testing environment sane while the actual gameplay builds start ramping up. Still, this is a bit disappointing for modders and machinima artists who relied on being able to manipulate the game’s assets to create some of their works, so I hope they open the game files up to modding again soon (for private gaming only, of course).

Again, this is a very significant new build with a lot of little changes, so I’m going to just be focusing on (arguably) the most interesting bits that I can find – with the script / gamedata changes taking up a sizable chunk of attention. If you know of something else cool that you think should be included, drop a comment! Let’s dive in.

Under The Bonnet | Patch 11.2

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

It’s finally that time again! Our last update was late February, so this is sure overdue. Understandably the developers have been incredibly busy trying to get the DFM (or “Arena Commander” if you prefer) release in order, so we can expect that any interim updates will be considerably less dramatic in nature until that comes out.

This patch serves as a good testament to this; we have a few new hangar additions to oogle over and a few code and functionality fixes, but the usual gamut of other updates (ship models and animations, loadout adjustments, etc) are absent. I’m even finding myself hard-pressed to find tangible content of significance to write about — but don’t worry, I’ll always find something.

There also seems to be quite the discussion about this patch being ~4GB in size. An actual under the hood analysis shows this really isn’t the case; it’s pretty common for the patcher to just assume your entire installation is invalid and it will actually force you to redownload the whole thing (particularly if you get a metadata error and a “Repair” option). The actual data-file differences between builds are much smaller in size.

Read on to see what’s new – and to see if you can unlock the mystery behind the enigmatic “Dumper’s Depot!”

Under The Bonnet | Patch 11.1

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

With each new build of the hangar module, I’ve been keeping my own dumps of the game folders, running diffs against the varying versions, and making internal notes just out of nerdy curiosity for what’s actually being changed under the hood. I figured I’d start sharing some of these results, as others might find this interesting too. I plan to make this a recurring thing with each new patch until it becomes impractical.

This won’t cover each and every single byte difference between builds – just major points of interest that I find in doing diff-comparisons; in particular things which might not have been directly mentioned in the patch notes. There’s also a LOT to manually go through between builds, so it’s likely that I’ll miss some things.

This will generally be a bit of a disorganized mess as it’s more or less a brain dump as I go, but I’ll try to keep things as neat as I can. Bear in mind as well that 99% of this document will be my own conjecture – I may (and likely will) be wrong about my interpretation of a lot of things.

 

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

This is going to be a fairly short one, because the main focus on this update (which was put out so rapidly after the last one) was to add Oculus Rift support. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of free-floating configuration changes which account for this, and many of the integration bits are likely hardcoded into the EXE itself and beyond further analysis.

That being said, this latest patch did bring a few other surprising changes under the hood which I felt would be worth documenting – I’ll leave it up to you if this seems too redundant or not given how recently the last major update was put out. Read on for the details.

In particular, I’ll also call out right away that the Freelancer variants are now gone from the game data files, with only the core Freelancer version left behind. This seems consistent with the jovial fist-shaking Wingman allegedly did regarding the premature reveal during today’s Wingman’s Hangover.

Under the Bonnet | Patch 11

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

With each new build of the hangar module, I’ve been keeping my own dumps of the game folders, running diffs against the varying versions, and making internal notes just out of nerdy curiosity for what’s actually being changed under the hood. I figured I’d start sharing some of these results, as others might find this interesting too. I plan to make this a recurring thing with each new patch until it becomes impractical.

This won’t cover each and every single byte difference between builds – just major points of interest that I find in doing diff-comparisons; in particular things which might not have been directly mentioned in the patch notes. There’s also a LOT to manually go through between builds, so it’s likely that I’ll miss some things.

This will generally be a bit of a disorganized mess as it’s more or less a brain dump as I go, but I’ll try to keep things as neat as I can. Bear in mind as well that 99% of this document will be my own conjecture – I may (and likely will) be wrong about my interpretation of a lot of things.

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

Wow! Each patch is getting more and more complex in the changes that are being made, which represents good, clear evidence of the progress the development team is making in turning the base hangar module content into an actual game. One immediately noteworthy thing is the insane jump in build numbers (from 44 to 5513) – although they already reset this count once way back on the October 22nd update, so this may be ultimately meaningless.

Unfortunately I was out of town for the release of this latest patch, which is why this post is so late. I’m going to only gloss over some of the bigger things that parties like AnythingFPS have already uncovered (such as the Freelancer variants) and focus instead on some of the other less obvious tidbits I’ve found.

Let’s get started!

Under the Bonnet | Patch 10

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

With each new build of the hangar module, I’ve been keeping my own dumps of the game folders, running diffs against the varying versions, and making internal notes just out of nerdy curiosity for what’s actually being changed under the hood. I figured I’d start sharing some of these results, as others might find this interesting too. I plan to make this a recurring thing with each new patch until it becomes impractical.

This won’t cover each and every single byte difference between builds – just major points of interest that I find in doing diff-comparisons; in particular things which might not have been directly mentioned in the patch notes. There’s also a LOT to manually go through between builds, so it’s likely that I’ll miss some things.

This will generally be a bit of a disorganized mess as it’s more or less a brain dump as I go, but I’ll try to keep things as neat as I can. Bear in mind as well that 99% of this document will be my own conjecture – I may (and likely will) be wrong about my interpretation of a lot of things.

Summary:

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

The dev team has clearly been hard at work – we’ve gone up a huge number of builds this time (the last patch jumped only from build 12 to build 15 for the couple of months between releases). It’s hard to gauge anything definitive from this of course as their process for logging build numbers may be arbitrary – or maybe it reflects that they hit an unexpected number of bugs this time and had to do a large number of iterations before getting something usable.

Regardless, this was a pretty tremendous update. Under the hood, the development team has been continuing to leak bits and pieces of actual gameplay into the hangar module files – we’re now seeing new sound and item resources for shield effects for example, and even more code related to the AI back-end (and the spawning of ships therein). There are also some new models to play with, and an all-new hidden Hornet variant!

Read on for the specific details. Expect this to be a big one.

Under the Bonnet | Patch 9

Written by Parias on . Posted in Scattered Chatter, Under The Bonnet

With each new build of the hangar module, I’ve been keeping my own dumps of the game folders, running diffs against the varying versions, and making internal notes just out of nerdy curiosity for what’s actually being changed under the hood. I figured I’d start sharing some of these results, as others might find this interesting too. I plan to make this a recurring thing with each new patch until it becomes impractical.

This won’t cover each and every single byte difference between builds – just major points of interest that I find in doing diff-comparisons; in particular things which might not have been directly mentioned in the patch notes. There’s also a LOT to manually go through between builds, so it’s likely that I’ll miss some things.

This will generally be a bit of a disorganized mess as it’s more or less a brain dump as I go, but I’ll try to keep things as neat as I can. Bear in mind as well that 99% of this document will be my own conjecture – I may (and likely will) be wrong about my interpretation of a lot of things.

Summary:

  • CURRENT BUILD: 12-12-2013 – Build 15
  • PREVIOUS BUILD: 10-22-2013 – Build 12

(As per \CitizenClient\Client_Release.id)

LOTS of exciting stuff this time under the hood – we’re seeing original code for AI-driven ships (not just leftover Cryengine code) which likely relates to the DFM, initial working models for HUD and UI objects, an initial implementation of facial animations libraries for the player character (LiveDriver-related!) , updates to the weapon mount for the upcoming firing range, and so much more!

Read on for my findings so far.