April DevLog | Game Development Summary
Welcome back to another monthly game devlog! April has been one of the busiest months of the year for Project Gamechanger as we continue ploughing ahead with the development of our upcoming fantasy RPG, Depths of Erendorn. Not only have now we welcomed a new Environment Artist and Game Developer onto our team, a new playable character has been created, a whole range of animations have been made for several of our characters and the dungeons now boast thousands of items.
3D Character Modelling
Two characters were created this month: the Human Sorceress, a playable character, and the Frost Dwarf, an NPC. We are extremely pleased with how both of these models turned out so let’s get into how our artist went about making them.
Modelling the Sorceress
This month bears witness to the creation of Erendorn’s Human Sorceress, a powerful magic user who is rooted in deep mystery. We started by modelling this character’s clothes, which we ensured reflected the enigmatic and occult powers associated with a Sorceress:
- A hooded gown and flowing undergarment were first sculpted for the model
- Embossed patterns were added to the sculpted cloth to achieve a greater level of detail
- We also adjusted the edges of the sleeves so that they had a more worn appearance
When modelling the clothes for the Human Sorceress, concerns were raised about the number of planes being used as well as how the sleeves would fall during animation. While our artist gave the sleeves a neutral position so that they would be easier to rig and pose, rectifying the plane issue was a little more complex.
In animation, clothing that is comprised of more than 2 planes can be tricky because they could overlap if the animation involves an exaggerated movement. On the other hand, only having 2 planes could cause clipping issues for the Character Artist. We will work around this problem by ensuring that the Sorceress is carefully animated; and although we may not be able to go over-the-top with her movements just yet, we’re confident that her final form will do this powerful spellcaster justice.
The final works carried out on the Sorceress model are as follows:
- When retopologising the model, we were able to use the lowest subdivision of the sculpt for the low mesh because the clothes had already been modelled
- For optimisation purposes and ease of skinning, we combined and edited the low mesh so that the hood, belt and robe were a single mesh
- Any edges that were not needed for deformation or to maintain form were deleted. All of this will make animating the Human Sorceress a little easier
- We started the texturing process by taking the cloth material that was made for a previous model and reusing it as a base for the robe
- Normal maps were used in the texture in order to create overlapping cloth layers that would be quick to make and easier to animate
- To create the patterns on the clothes, stencils/alphas of gothic patterns were made. These could then be projected onto the Sorceress
- We decided to use lighter coloured patterns with a metallic sheen so that they stood out from the dark colours of the robe and had better visibility from afar
Modelling the Frost Dwarf
When the Human Sorceress was finally completed, our artist spent their remaining days of the month working on one of Erendorn’s enemy characters: the Frost Dwarf. Parts of this model’s clothing, such as its thick winter coat, were modelled in 3DS Max before being sent to ZBrush for sculpting. This is also where the primary forms began getting blocked out and where various details were sculpted onto the Frost Dwarf’s clothing:
- Large and subtle folds were sculpted onto the cloth in order to communicate the thick fabric of the coat
- Fur alphas were downloaded for the creation of the fur collar and cuffs. They allowed us to ‘stamp’ the shapes onto the mesh as we built up something that resembles thick fur
- A new pouch was sculpted in order to add variety to the overall character design
After all of this was completed, we could finally retopologise the clothes. We are extremely happy with how both of our models turned out this month, and can’t wait to see what they look like once they have been animated!
Speaking of things getting animated, a ton of new animations have been created for our spellcasting Forest Druid in this month’s game devlog. The Forest Druid is another playable character who, like the Sorceress, possesses great spellcasting abilities.
Forest Druids hail from Erendorn’s High Forest and as such, have a strong attunement with nature that translates to the type of magic they use. While we have not yet animated any of their special attacks, two generic spell animations have been created for this character, and these will be used as a basis for some of the Forest Druid’s specialised abilities. Other animations created for this character include:
- Basic and combat idles
- Walk cycle
- Hit reaction
- Death animation
- Stun animation
- Drinking animation
- Equip/unequip weapon
Once these were completed, the animations for both the Forest Druid and Twilight Elf Assassin were exported to Unity where they will be tested. This was also done for the Zentragal after its rig and skin were updated. Doing this will show us how these characters move in the game, as well as point out any issues with the animation that will need fixing.
Five new animations were also made for our Watertargs, who are playable characters and NPCs in Depths of Erendorn. As with the Forest Druid, this included their basic and combat idles, as well as a stun, drink and punch animation.
Our new Environment Artist, who you read about in last month’s game devlog summary, has really helped to bring Depths of Erendorn together as more attention is now being paid to the dungeon rooms. This month, the following assets, effects and tools were introduced to the environment:
- Treasure Chests: these will appear randomly throughout the dungeons and are made more alluring by being filled with a variety of assets, like gems and gold objects
- Piles of Gold: these will appear both inside and outside of treasure chests. Gold coin tiling material was used to create these piles of gold and gold coin decal was also used to break up the edges of the main tiling coin material
- Bloom Effect: this was added to the environment to complement any shiny materials and surfaces, like the treasure or gold piles. Bloom is used in game design because it creates a realistic glow around brightly coloured objects that have light bouncing off of them
- Auto Exposure: this was implemented in order to clamp any exaggerated brightness that can easily happen when using the Bloom effect
- Crystal Clusters: these will also appear randomly throughout the environment. Since they will be glowing, it was important that the material appeared emissive. In order to achieve this, their blue glow was amplified with the use of a point light
- Volumetric Fog and Lighting: these were added in order to create depth in our dungeon rooms. Our artist also ensured that the fog would be properly affected by emissive materials like the crystal clusters
One of the most interesting parts of the month was the utilisation of Unity’s new VFX graph, which we used to add campfires to the game. To create the fire effects, our artist also explored Unity’s new VFX particle system. This took some getting used to, but we are extremely happy with the results. Finally, in order to create realistic flames and smoke, alpha blended sprite sheets were used, a method that is very performance-friendly and efficient.
With the environment being worked on in this way, Depths of Erendorn is really starting to come together and take shape. We even created a dungeon scene this month, in which a team of adventurers face off against the nefarious Bandits amid piles of treasure, fantastical crystal clusters and atmospheric fires. This scene really gave us a taste of the potential that Depths of Erendorn can reach, and this only makes us more excited to work on the game!
Server and Game Client
While a lot of things were added, changed and fixed in the server and game client this month, we mostly focussed on loot drops and getting items generated and working in the game. Now that the client handles loot drops, it knows when a player gets loot and it will refresh their inventory when this happens.
A lot of groundwork had already been laid down last month so that we could start adding usable items to Depths of Erendorn. With all of this in place, we were able to update the base items in the Item Generator, which was important since some items had their base stats changed. In addition to this, the Item Generator can now force an item to channel a specific amount of its power into a specific stat.
All of this work has meant that at least 286K items have been generated for the game so far and this number will continue growing until we reach around 500K, which is the estimated amount of items we will need to generate in order to cover Level 1 of the dungeons. This week alone, for example, another 24000 items were generated. We are also ensuring that there is enough diversity among the items so that the same objects don’t reappear at close distances.
But the work carried out in the server and game client is not limited to loot drops and item generation:
- A server coordinator class was created along with a method that would allow these servers to communicate with each other
- 1H and 2H weapons, as well as the values for swing cost and weapon damage, are now correctly displayed on the equipment screen
- A lobby manager was added to the server. After a lot of fine-tuning, a Lobby System was then successfully created
- Item rewards now factor in the XP/Room variance so that the harder a dungeon room, the better the loot will be
- Character information is now passed to the game server when a new game starts
- The game server tracks lobby ID’s so that it will eventually be able to tell the settlement server what loot/experience was gained in that session
We love taking you along with us on our journey of developing Depths of Erendorn. From exclusive in-game shots, brand new 3D models, race lore and awesome animations, we post regular updates on our social media, so make sure you’re following us if you want to keep up with the latest and greatest bits of Erendorn!