Grab a sandwich because this post is a long one and contains all the info currently available for the 2018 schedule.
That my lazy ass could get off Reddit by reading while making dinner.
CIG started with a basic summary of what to expect and mailed it to everyone, many of us probably never read it and it was deleted when CIG moved over to a new website so below is an archived version along with the new production schedule.
I'll go over both in this post.
Summary – Because I can't really do an easy TL;DR
Lots of things changed from the initial 2016 presentation of what 3.X – 4.0 was going to be, 2017 flew by with 3.0 being released at the end of the year in a somewhat reduced form, and it appears 2018 will now be used work on core optimizations that will allow 3.X run at more usable framerates and to fill in some of the content of the older schedule as well as some new features.
A few of the smaller 3.0 and 3.X items are no longer on the schedule and are likely moved to 2019.
CIG will be attending GamesCom 2018 but they will not have a booth or be presenting as they want to focus on the quarterly releases. Events page (archive).
CitizenCon will be the only presentation this year.
Really it's hard to summarize the old versus then new so below I'll post the end of 2016 production presentation alongside the new schedule.
Out with the Old, In With the New. 3.X 2016 vs 3.X 2018
The images below are from the 2016 end of year presentation, text below is notes and text from the current production schedule.
It may seem a little odd to compare slides from 2016 to what's being worked on it 2018 but I'm not going to beat around the bush, 2018 is going to be spent making the 3.X patches that were supposed to be coming out over 2017.
The majority of this patch has been pushed to later patches, 3.1 will focus on performance mostly.
Quantum interdiction supposedly made it into 3.0 according to some developer statements but only consists of NPCs randomly interrupting your warp and is not usable by player pirates or on the 2018 production schedule currently.
Likewise Escort or group base warping is not on the 2018 production schedule currently either, although seems to be an entry under “service beacons” but no mention of the warp functions so…?
The Hull C is no longer on the release schedule, some of these ships made it into 3.0.
Current 3.1 Items
Note: Removed entries for clothing and basic bug fixes.
Character Customizer – The Character Customizer will allow players to choose from a variety of looks to customize the appearance of their in-game avatar. The variety of customization options will increase over time as we build and add new assets into the game.
Planet Tech Improvements – Continued work to iterate on the technology that allows the generation of planets and its biomes in order to provide a wider variety of environments for the game.
IFCS – Balance/Tuning iteration tasks – Continued work on the game's underlying Flight Control System that handles ships and vehicles moving both in atmosphere and in space. Tasks include general improvement, bugfixes and updates to the control algorithm.
Ship Weapon Balance – Complete a balance pass on ship weapons and missiles so they perform as expected.
Ship Damage – Updating the ship damage technology to allow for higher fidelity explosions, better damage shaders and improved physics.
Ship ai to Subsumption – Completing the transition for Ship AI to integrate completely with the Subsumption, allowing them to navigate, react and fight using the Subsumption system. This will consolidate the number of systems for the AI characters, so they are using the same system when piloting a ship as they are when walking around.
Network Bind Culling – This work aims to help improve performance in multiplayer by cutting down the number of entities that exist on clients. Entities too far from a player will be removed from the local client, and when the player moves or the server otherwise detects new entities entering the player's range they will be added to the client. Because clients will then only consider updating entities that are near to them the overall CPU load will be reduced and performance should improve.
Performance Optimization – General optimization and engine improvements to increase stability and performance for the players. This includes continued transition of gameplay systems to Item 2.0 as well as investigation and resolution of possible memory leaks and performance spikes. Note: This is actually listed on all patches, I only copied it to this entry.
All the new game mechanics from 3.1 and 3.2 are now in this patch, although I'm not sure what the hell “Covert Operations” was but can't really say I care about its absence from the schedule.
Current 3.2 Items
Note: Removed entries for basic FPS armor/clothing updates and combined entries for some new features.
Distress Call – The initial system that would allow players to call for help. This would create a marker that could be viewed by other players and traveled to. It would also have a mechanic to transfer money between players as a reward.
[Service Beacon] Escort – Building off of the Distress Call functionality, this Service Beacon feature would allow for players to hire other players to escort them to a specific location and arrange payment.
[Service Beacon] Refuel – Building off of the Distress Call functionality, this Service Beacon feature would allow players to pay another player to travel to their location for the purpose of refueling their ship.
[Service Beacon] Repair – Building off of the Distress Call functionality, this Service Beacon feature would allow players to pay another player to travel to their location for the purpose of providing repairs.
[Mining] Prospecting, Extraction, Refining, Selling.
[Salvage] Scanning, Extraction, Processing, Selling.
Manual Repair – The mechanics necessary for players to traverse to the exterior of larger ships to perform spot repairs on damaged hulls.
Buy/Sell Fuel + Fuel Transfer – The mechanics needed to allow for players to connect with and directly provide fuel to another ship.
Wear & Tear – Utilizing the various shader technology to have ship components and weapons effectively age over time and use. These items will not only look more used, but will also introduce a possibility of misfire if not maintained.
FPS Combat AI – Implementing basic FPS Combat AI behaviors to allow for players to engage with enemy targets on the ground or in ships to add an action element to some of the missions.
Flight AI 3.2 – Improving existing and developing new and deeper flight behaviors and characteristics for AI pilots. This not only includes enemies to fight, but also includes civilian and security personalities.
Ships/Equipment – origin 600i, Anvil Hurricane, Aegis Eclipse, Consolidated Outland Mustang Update, Aegis Avenger Revision, Vanduul Blade, Gemini F55 (Machine Gun).
All the mechanics and ships from this patch no longer appear on the schedule, well except for the Reliant but most of those ships mechanics are not in the schedule either or their role is covered already by other ships.
This patch does include many new mechanics though and the first additional landing zones, some crazy important network tech, and finally VOIP.
Current 3.3 Items
Note: Again, removed entries for basic FPS armor/clothing updates and combined entries for some new features.
Hurston (Planet), Lorville Landing Zone (City on Hurston), Hurston Moons.
CommArray Revision – Creating and implementing revisions to the CommArray stations positioned around the universe. These not only facilitate the ability to transfer data but also provide ECN coverage to report any security violations.
Rest Stop (Small) – Creating and implementing the rest stop station that players will be able to visit during long flights. This will include installing stores, ATC and character work.
Repair Bot – The assets and mechanics needed to implement the AMX-1 Repair Bot into the game.
Repair Ships – The mechanics necessary for players to use specialized repair ships to perform ship-to-ship repairs on other players or NPCs.
[Refuel] Collection – The pieces of the refueling mechanic that allows players to collect and store fuel elements from the environment.
Cloud Tech – The aspect of the refueling mechanic that creates patches of space that contain the raw elements needed to create fuel. These would be the areas/locations that players would seek out to harvest fuel.
Defensive Combat – Improving existing and developing new and deeper FPS behaviors and characteristics for AI characters. This will include the ability for enemy AI to defend their ships from boarding attempts.
Location Security – Improving existing and developing new and deeper FPS behaviors and characteristics for AI characters. This will include the ability for local security forces (both outlaw and law enforcement) reacting to violent players.
Object Container Streaming – At its core, Object Container Streaming allows star citizen to create our Universe. We will no longer be restrained by the physical memory on your PC and will be able to stream in new environments, locations and ships seamlessly as you approach. This will also be one of the biggest wins for increased performance as your graphics memory will no longer be overloaded.
FoIP/VOIP Integration – The technology required to integrate face and voice over IP functionality into the game.
Ships/Equipment – RSI Constellation Phoenix, aegis hammerhead, Tumbril Cyclone Variants, Some Guns for Ships (or something).
4.0 is dead! Long live 3.4!
Basically the year ends here with the originally proposed 3.X solar system still being worked on, Microtech and Crusader will still be missing, and a lot of mechanics still unspoken of.
Current 3.4 Items
Note: Yet again removed entries for basic FPS armor/clothing updates and combined entries for some new features.
Playable Female Characters – Implementing the models, animations and items to allow for Players to select a female avatar, as well as update female NPCs in the various locations.
ArcCorp Planet – area18 Landing Zone (On ArcCorp) – ArcCorp Moons
Cargo Depot – The design, creation and implementation of Cargo Depots into the game. These space stations would be solely dedicated as transfer hubs for shipping containers and could exist around planets and near jump points.
[Land Claim] Purchasing, Register Claim, Legal Gameplay, Creating Missions.
Planetary Landing – Improving existing and developing new and deeper FPS behaviors and characteristics for AI characters. This will include the ability for enemy AI to land on planets as well as landing to deploy reinforcements.
squadron 42 Production Schedule
Over the past few weeks/months there was talk out of CIG about how they'd be releasing a SQ42 production schedule.
Apparently that will not be happening for the foreseeable future.
As you can see by the above notes on what will be going into the PU late in 2018 a lot of the core techs probably now needed for SQ42 are going to push a release into 2019 and very possibly/probably to 2020 or beyond.
I'd actually say this is a somewhat realistic schedule and demonstrates some level of project management occurring at CIG, but I won't because as much as a I want to believe that there's a very good chance it isn't true.
As eager as I get for the above features and content it's tempered by the fact that CIG spent all of 2017 struggling to get 3.0 out in an ultimately broken state, and during that time they produced numerous schedule reports that seem to have vastly underestimated the technical delays they would experience all while sugar coating the public releases.
At this point I'm not going to think this schedule is any different until they start hitting the targets laid out here.
The production schedule is missing any real mention of things like multicrew, old mechanics like racing appear to be forgotten, and improvements to star marine/arena commander are unmentioned, so if this years targets aren't met then I gather it will be some time before anything worth playing as a group really manifests.
Basically I view this year as a litmus test on CIG's ability to actually deliver.