Star Citizen/Squadron 42 - The Coil

Squadron 42 - Welcome to The Coil

I figured this is a great link to share here.

It’s from our latest “Around the Verse” show, and we go into some detail on the creation of “The Coil” - a massive gas-cloud in space, formed in the aftermath of an exploded planet - in which our up-coming game Squadron 42 takes place.

The Coil is a real-time vdb (exported from Houdini) which the player can fly in and around, and which will change visually over the duration of the game. We also use the vdb’s density to drive various particle parameters on the fly.

As such, there are many technical challenges, which I think will be of interest to many of you here.Please feel free to ask us any questions here and we’ll do our best to answer them!

@cEssex and @Mooncake both worked directly on the vdb at various stages in the pipeline, and indeed @Mooncake features in the video with a neat breakdown of how we used Houdini :smile:


Disclaimer, ALL of the footage you see in the vid is work-in-progress (including some really early/rough lightning effects).


this looks incredible

Raymarching a VDB at that scale is mental! How the eff did you get that into performance!?

Well done!

Realtime VDB… interesting

Very impressive use of VDBs. :+1:

It’s no good just throwing around a term like “openvdb” if you’re not going to share links. :slight_smile:


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Very impressive indeed! Keep up the good work!

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awesome stuff! Excited to fly through that!

Sorry for the late reply here, just wanted to say thanks for the positive comments! Also thanks to the guys who posted the open vdb link :slight_smile:

Truth is, we still have a way to go before we can consider this to be optimised :slight_smile:

At 17.55 in the vid, Ben Parry (Senior Graphics Engineer) talks about where we are with that, and how we plan to improve performance going forwards - on that front, a lot of progress has been made since we went live with this video.

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It has been a lot of fun and a big learning experience working on these VDBs. Being able to render something like this in engine still blows me away. It’s quite exciting to watch the tech develop and I can’t wait to see how much further we can push it. :smiley:

I have been doing a lot of experimenting in Houdini with different methods to generate the shapes we need. In my latest tests, I have been experimenting with advecting particles through various noise fields and then converting them into a density field. It yields more natural shapes and density variation than simply cutting density out of a mesh that has been converted to a volume.

Below are a few pictures of some of my tests being rendered in engine. These are just the results of my RnD and is not directly tied to the Coil asset that will be included in Star Citizen.


TIL advection

may we see motion too ? :):smiley:

Star Citizen is doing some amazing technical work. Every time I run across their devblog vids, I’m blown away. However, I find them too long. I need more bite-sized, condensed technical chunks in the 5-10 min range. (I’m the type of person who watches youtube vids @2X speed if I can.) Also, the news anchor format makes me cringe. Other than that, very inspiring work.

Well done!
Have you tried to generate volumes procedurally, such as in these demos?