Last Friday, the team organized Townhall #39. If you like to rewatch the event, then be sure to check out our video recording. Or perhaps you prefer a video summary by Metaverse Explorer. If you instead prefer to read through everything that was shared, then just give this (quite lengthy, admittedly) text “summary” a read!
Note: The order of some items appearing in this summary has been altered in order to improve readability.
Michael (CEO) kicked off by stating that the team is pleasantly surprised with the engagement they are seeing with both Escape Velocity and the Never Alone campaign.
Never Alone is a big success! The team is quite happy with these numbers they shared:
- 42,000 completed claims
- 3,700+ questers
- 550,000 warps and scans done to complete Escape Velocity quests
Escape Velocity is really a tech demo & test environment to stress-test one of the on-chain systems: movement.
In the future, SAGE will include the following on-chain systems:
- Your Player Profile
- Character progression
- Inventory Management
- Resource extraction
Escape Velocity has created some tangential benefits for the team.
It resulted in outreach from other projects looking to collaborate and tremendous support from the Solana Foundation. They embraced the “Only possible on Solana” phrase to great effect (though they did not introduce this term).
Escape Velocity has been running for exactly one month, during which it saw:
- 20,000,000+ successful Solana transactions
- 25,000,000 scans for loot
- 7,550+ unique wallets connected
In addition, Escape Velocity has:
- made up 3% of the daily Solana transaction volume since inception
- seen peak volume reach 8% during the Atlas Brew with the Community Event
Movement in the future will be done a little differently, thanks to lessons learned from Escape Velocity.
The team expects to have 12-15 Solana on-chain programs running on Solana by the end of the year.
There have been many engineering side learnings:
- Got a good idea of how many users the system can handle. Improvements are well underway.
- Managed to find server issues that led to slowdowns: being fixed
- Discovered some limitations with external services that are being used. This might result in a transition to more in-house created services
- This is all crucial, as the exact same pieces of infrastructure are what SAGE is built on, and the UE5 experience
Stay tuned for an announcement early next week, as there are two Surge events upcoming!
Though not directly attributable to a specific product, the team saw some impressive social media stats that undoubtedly have been influenced by both Never Alone and Escape Velocity
- 3x increase in growth rate
- average daily mentions across social media has increased 7 times
- social engagement(/sentiment) score is at a 17-month high
- in April 2023, @StarAtlas-mentions on Twitter were the highest since January 2022
An interesting observation: Only 1% of all Solana wallets hold a Star Atlas asset. This is an opportunity to reach a significantly bigger audience just within Solana (let alone outside of that ecosystem).
The next SAGE test will be Extraction & Crafting, where you’ll be extracting materials from asteroids and crafting!
You will see considerable improvements to the UI, but also to the mechanics you are engaged in.
This next version of SAGE will be using the Fleet Management program, meaning you will be able to use your own assets (ships). That will be the only way to access this game mode.
This will introduce the crafting of R4 and other resources. A new loot table will be introduced here, and there will be ways to earn loot through your participation in this early version of SAGE.
It will be more difficult and more involved to earn this loot. More details will come at a later date!
Currently, their focus is on getting the end-to-end system working.
Michael is unsure but expects you’ll be able to see other players on the map.
This game mode does not introduce mining as the team intends to introduce at a later point, as such, it won’t be using Claim Stakes. Instead, you will be consuming ammunition to destroy asteroids, and you will be harvesting the materials from those asteroid fragments.
There will be a small mechanic change coming to the Faction Claims program. An announcement is coming soon concerning “some changes to the R4-economy”.
Roadmap for how the DAO is going to operate (image). Here’s a visual showing the phases we’ll be seeing!
“This is the voice, the governance, the power to the people of Star Atlas.”Michael (CEO)
The next release after R2.1 will be PIP1 for the DAO.
The first version of the DAO will kick off with PIP 1 (Polis Improvement Proposal 1). This proposal will come from the ATMTA team and, through that process, will engage in discourse, conversation, debate
This outlines how this decentralized governance system will operate going into the future.
PIP1 and the DAO discussion platform will go live next, after the release of R2.1!
PIP1 (and/or potential additional PIPs) will ratify things such as the Star Atlas Foundation -as the legal & jurisdictional representation, acting on behalf of the DAO participants (POLIS stakeholders)- and the Star Atlas Constitution.
These conversations will take some time as the team will need to bring everyone in alignment.
Users with PVP (Polis Voting Power) will be able to respond to the proposals, and at some point, the on-chain voting mechanism will come online. From then on, you can vote on the PIP(s), where your PVP will determine the weight of your vote.
After getting through the initial PIP(s), the function of user-created proposals will come online. In other words: User-generated proposals will come in the future, it won’t be live while PIP 1 is still actively being discussed/voted on!
Pearce X6 Video
Vertpaint (a co-creation studio) created a video of the Pearce X6 ship. That video has been completely shot in-game.
The team is setting a new industry standard for spaceships in games, and this video is proof of that.
Danny adds that the team used this ship to push the fidelity as far as they could in the Unreal Engine.
Next up, Danny (CPO) got onto the stage to talk about the upcoming Volant Station Showroom release.
Showroom R2.1 will be released on June 1st! The team is wrapping up the last few small bugs.
This is a snapshot of where the team is currently with development, though they had to cut a few pieces that will come with the next few updates. Optimization is still coming!
It is still peer-2-peer multiplayer, though there have been a few enhancements.
Every ship on the marketplace (49 in total) will be flyable and shootable! You can get in any of them and fire at other ships.
A good few of them are still in their ”clay state”, and other various stages of progress. But now that the flight model has been implemented, you can fly all of them regardless.
New features of this much-anticipated update include:
Jetpacks are coming with R2.1, but only the base tier will be available, which translates to “only foot-thrusters”. Later on, through character progression and upgrading your character, additional upgrades will be unlocked, such as hand-thrusters and cosmetics.
Danny notes that there is still some placeholder FX in there.
Jetpacks add a new dimension and feel to the Showroom, it improves pacing.
One of the reasons to get jetpacks in there is to get you back to your ships if you accidentally fall off.
You can’t fly around indefinitely, there is a “stamina” bar that runs out while flying around. When it runs out, you will fall down. Jetpacks will become more skill-based, unlocking additional, and higher-tier, thrusters, including smart thrusters that help reduce fall damage.
The team did not prioritize support for HOTAS or HOSAS for this release, it is still technically possible, but the team did not put it in yet.
The inclusion of the train and train station is necessary for proper multiplayer. The team does not want people to just spawn into the Showroom out of nowhere.
You’ll be able to tell if a new player is entering the game if you are at the arrival station, because the train will zip off to go get them.
In the future, when you enter a multiplayer game, you will spawn in the train. While en route to the Volant Station, you will be able to open the train’s door as it is moving and jetpack out of it
In R2.1, you can get on the train and test this out, you won’t spawn in the train yet, that is coming in the next release.
Technically it is the first on-chain career part. Not that it is tied to immediate rewards.
If you put in energy, we want you to capture it and own it somehow.
If you go into your photo gallery, you can publish shots made straight into the community Discord.
Every month a winner will be selected (with the help of the community) and that picture will be minted as a poster and sent to the winner’s address. No middle-man needed, this is all done automatically.
In the 2.1 release, ground-racing will only work in a single-player mode with a leaderboard.
The team completely reworked the physics of the hover mode, and (according to Danny) it is really fun! The race track is pretty huge.
You can use any XXS or XS ship to race.
Big improvements are coming to the dog-fighting arena. The launchpad (starting point) has been completely overhauled, new lighting has been introduced, and there is a new HUD. There are now several more landing pads you can use to spawn ships that fit on it. This means you can play the dogfight waves with any of those ships.
The team is aware that the bigger ships carry more firepower, which will skew the results, but they want to gather that data and see where the meta is going.
The landing pads are part of their new Armstrong environment set (mentioned in the last roadmap update – see newsletter issue 80) and are completely modular. This allows the team to place them on a map easily and at various sizes.
The team put the full Galactic Marketplace in Unreal Engine 5. It has the same functionality, though the team limited it to just ships.
You can reach it through the Inventory tab. This is the first on-chain marketplace in Unreal Engine!
Some things are hidden behind an experimental mode toggle.
That toggle will open up some maps that are done, that the team would like to get feedback on from the community. These include some modes that aren’t fully done.
This will allow the community to see what they see.
In the menu, you are not only able to change your character but also your ship. Note that not all ships are available here yet.
The ship and character selected are what you’ll use when you jump into a dogfight, race, or any future game mode.
Also, DLSS3 support is in, so anyone with a modern nVidia-graphics card will see a performance boost.
The showroom has been converted to World Partition, allowing the team to grow the level much, much bigger (with new parts being streamed in). They can now add environments that are 88km2 big, which will be enough to support the entire MUD CSS at some point.
There is more, but Danny prefers to keep a few more surprises up his sleeve for now.
Santi briefly hyped up these surprises, before asking Danny a few questions:
Q: What are some of the foundational changes made inside the UE5 game, that will help the team build into the future?
- GAS-system – The team has converted stuff from the previous year to a more scalable system. This system made it easy to get jetpacks into the game, but also hooks up straight into the ship attributes, determining how powerful weapons and shields are on a component level. These configurations allow the team to be more experimental with game modes as well.
- Building foundational systems for openable, interactable objects, such as doors, ramps, desks, toilets, and seats on ships. The team created a pipeline that makes it easy for artists to add such objects and for designers to tweak them and do bespoke things for every ship.
- Interactables have been reworked as well. The “Press F to interact” message was a bit invasive on the screen, now that is less so.
- Physics refactor (e.g. hover mode)
- Performance improvements across the board
- Behind experimental mode toggle: See the different size characters and their animations
- Ability to create different environments and maps. The team can now release a custom map if they want to get feedback on a certain mode before they head into full production
Q: Last time you were here (9 months ago), and you were speaking about UE5 development, you compared the process of UE5 development as going from crawling to walking, to running. At that moment, you said that you were barely crawling. Where are we at now?
The team got so many of the fundamental pipelines and major features fleshed out, that there are not many more open questions about the future development for the team to get to where they are going with their vision.
One example of such a fleshed-out feature is having interior gravity in a ship. This allows one player to fly a ship, and another player can be in the ship and fly with it, without bouncing around like a ping-pong ball.
“I was talking with Brett about a Deathmatch-mode, and he [implemented] it in like a day. And he got it playable because they already got the [GAS] system set up.”Danny (CPO)
The Pearce X6 took a lot of work, but the team can now re-use its shelves, doors, lockers, drawers, table, kitchenette, and other components in other Pearce ships, such as the R6 and F4. The development of these ships is going much faster.
And the team is doing that with all of the manufacturers. The Unibomba is helping to speed up the Greenader. The Packlite has some stuff that can be used in the Earp, etc.
There are only a couple of big things left.
The server back-end is still a big thing, but good things are coming there.
Once the team is able to quickly add modes and spin up servers around these game modes, that is when the team starts running.
The teams and departments have really settled into a stride.
The individuals of the team’s vendors are simply added to their internal teams as if they are a natural extension. Together they are working as ATMTA.
“The team is killing it, and it’s just going to keep compounding from here”Danny (CPO)
Q: Let’s look at the bigger picture. How are all the things we’re building now going to tie into one another?
Every product is part of Star Atlas. Everything you purchase will be usable in all the clients (mobile, web & Unreal). No matter in which of the clients you use (play with) one of your crew members, they will make progression that is stored. This allows you to progress no matter the client you choose (or are forced to use, when traveling, for example).
Season 0 will be a fully polished, public game. It will come with on-chain progression and local markets, but players may be unaware of, or not even care about, the Galactic Economy and supply chains that enable this.
People in SAGE will be responsible for those supply lines, sending their freighters between planets to sell their goods. They may see demand pick up on a local market, without knowing why.
“And say you get totally bored of both, or you just want to get out of the house, there are other ways of capturing energy there… We don’t want people to feel tied down to one thing, and the blockchain makes that possible.”Danny (CPO)
Long-term, everything ties into each other, across all Star Atlas programs using the blockchain.
Santi asks Michael about the runway, knowing that this is on the minds of many in the community.
Michael acknowledges it needs to be addressed. He points to the fact that they have not slowed down and states that he has full confidence in the future of Star Atlas. He is looking forward to a time when this is no longer a question, realizing it throws a shadow on their other accomplishments.
He keeps his reply purposely vague, mentioning that they are a top Web3-, and game-developer, and that this is recognized.
“Star Atlas will be around. Do I know what that looks like, next year, or the year beyond that? No, I don’t, but Star Atlas is not going away.”Michael (CEO)
Questions by Pock the Pirate for Michael:
Q: “Is there a mechanic in Never Alone that accounts for the guild size at the end of the year?”
A: There will be multiple categories/tiers based on the size of the DAC / guild.
Q: “What avenues are the team actively working on to obtain funding that isn’t from the current player base?”
A: We continue to engage in conversations with a variety of VCs, family offices, with strategic partners, looking at debt facilities available to us as well. […] We are, and have been, in advanced negotiations with one such partner (as alluded to in the Downhill at the start of the year), as well as having conversations within the Solana ecosystem itself.
It is the number 1 priority on Michael’s mind.
Q: “Are you guys planning on a next Galactic Asset Offering event?”
A: We do! We’ll be sharing some details on a transition of the economy very soon. We also have a few upcoming asset categories that we’re looking at. We are very sensitive to the demand for assets presently.
There is a plan fully formed, and this will be something that will go on for a few months, likely until the end of the year.
Q (paraphrased): “Announcing a Townhall 2 days in advance leads to people being unable to prepare/participate. Can you work on a more structured / more community-friendly communication system?”
A (paraphrased): I disagree. I think we’re doing a fantastic job. Our approach this year is shortening the time between announcements, in response to criticism that they built up too much anticipation previously with our early announcements.
Instead of organizing and hosting 426-events, we’re just shipping. “Be ready and be present”.
Question by Mandalorian for Danny:
Q: “With the optimizations of 2.1, have you guys made adjustments to customizing settings, key binds, sensitivity for flying, and stuff like that?”
A: Yeah, all the key binds on the keyboard you can adjust. Gamepads are not yet, unfortunately. Hopefully, you have a good gaming mouse and can change sensitivity through that for now.
Questions by Signal for Danny:
Q: “Could you speak to some of the changes to the waves of enemies we’re going to encounter in the updated dogfighting mode?”
A: The waves are actually much harder. We want to see how different ships/strengths perform. I actually don’t know how many waves there are, and I have not been able to beat everything yet (red: Chip chimed in to let us know there are 12 waves).
We tried to get it to be co-op, and enable it for PvP as well, but that didn’t quite make it into this cut.
Q: “Enhancements are coming to multi-player for 2.1, what should we expect walking into that?”
A: We still have to do this P2P (usually high-ping), but we have some improvements. For example, the draw distance of characters is much further. We’ve been able to sync up replication much better. The host could do things before, that people who joined could not see.
We want to give you enough so that it is not a totally broken experience, but in parallel, we’re working on a proper back-end server architecture. In the next big update, everything will be really smoothed out.