January DevLog| A Monthly Summary
As January comes to an end, we thought we’d update you all on the progress made last month in the development of our upcoming game, Depths of Erendorn. Several new characters have been created, NPCs now have much more use of their abilities and a new MEC system has been added to the Game Client. It’s sure been a busy start to 2019 so let’s get into it!
For our Character Artist and 3D Modeller, last month was all about finalising the models for a few of our characters in Depths of Erendorn. Entering January, we already had the finished sculpts of a basic female Elf and Human model. Our artist then used these base meshes to create several different character variations, including a female Human, Forest Druid, Twilight Elf and Storm Elf. Throughout the month, the following work was carried out in order to create these models:
- The retopology and unwrap of the female Human mesh were completed.
- This mesh was then adjusted and used in the retopology of the female Elf model.
- The Elf mesh was then also unwrapped before texture maps were added to both models.
- The texture of the female Twilight Elf base mesh was completed first.
- The female Storm Elf base mesh was then textured the following week.
- The ears on the Storm Elf model were made longer than those on the Twilight Elf.
- The female Human base mesh was then adjusted and used to create the Forest Druid character.
- The clothes and accessories for this model were then sculpted individually.
- Tests were carried out to see if we can use wrapping planes instead of cylinders to show branches wrapping around the model’s limbs. The tests were successful and in the future, we will be using an alpha texture on those wrapping planes to create the branch shape.
The retopology process is important in game development because it is used to reduce the number of polygons that the sculpting process creates on a model, making it much easier to render. UV Unwrapping is also a crucial step in ensuring that the characters are textured very accurately.
The result of all this hard work is that we now have 2 brand new character models for the mysterious Twilight Elves and the powerful Storm Elves, as well as the nearly-complete Forest Druid. Our Character Artist has made sure to represent the quirks of each race in their models, like the lightning scars that pattern the Storm Elf’s body or the incorporation of nature into the Forest Druid’s design.
Another race from Depths of Erendorn was also skinned, rigged and posed in January by our Animator. The Watertargs have one of the most unique appearances out of all the playable characters in our upcoming dungeon crawler game and so it was important that their final models incorporated all the specific design aspects that were present in their initial concept sketch.
Our Animator did an awesome job of creating several variations of the Watertarg design. Multiple Watertargs were then posed next to one another so that we could easily see the differences between the textures.
There was also a lot of work carried out on our Earthen Dwarf model last month:
- The mesh was fixed after some issues occurred with the mouth
- Weapon and shield joints were added to the rig
- The number of joints in the arm and face were reduced as there were too many
- The new mesh was reskinned to the updated rig
Along with these changes, our Animator and Character Artist also created a unique mesh for the head and arms of the Earthen Dwarf model. This way, all the Earthen Dwarf models that share the same base mesh will be using the same head and arms, resulting in a much faster skinning process as our Animator will only have to skin the clothing when she starts a new Earthen Dwarf character.
You will notice that in every devlog, our game server undergoes a variety of changes and fixes and this January was no different. The first major issue that was fixed in the server was an AI Targeting bug that was heavily affecting the gameplay. Usually, the Standard AI assigns the enemy targets equally across a team of players. However, the Standard AI in our server was also taking the aggressive targets into account, meaning that some players would have no enemies attacking them.
While many changes were carried out on the server last month, it would take us to the end of time if we were to list them all now, so here’s a few of the highlights:
- Enemies in the game now assign targets when they spawn. This means that the player can plan their first turn more effectively.
- The server now instructs the Game Client when the active room changes, solving a rare issue that caused the Client to skip a room and ultimately make the game unplayable.
- 3 new routes (Enemy Intents, Enemy Intent Target Classes and Enemy Intent Requirements) were added to the Game API.
- Enemy Intents Classes were implemented, allowing the AI to use the new Intent System which will control how the AI uses their abilities.
Adding the Enemy Intents System to the server was one of the biggest changes last month because it meant that the NPCs in Depths of Erendorn now have configurable targeting and more use of their abilities. We have also set certain requirements that dictate when an enemy can use a particular ability. For example, an Earthen Dwarf enemy can now use its Magnetic Blood ability but only when it has lost more than 2 Health. Giving the enemies more use of their abilities ultimately improves the gameplay experience by creating more challenges for the player.
Speaking of abilities, there were a few abilities last month that needed to be balanced in order for them to function properly in the game. Stone Blood, for example, which freezes an opponent’s blood in their body, now has a 1 tile range so that it can only be used on adjacent enemies. Being able to use it at range made it too powerful because you could execute low health enemies anywhere, for free. This made Stone Blood too good compared to the other abilities, which is why we reduced its tile range.
A lot of the work that went into the Game Client last month was carried out in order to ensure that the finer details of the user experience were in place. When developing a game, it’s just as important to focus on perfecting the User Interface (UI) as it is to create well-sculpted characters and awesome graphics.
Many changes were made to the UI last month in order to refine some of these smaller details:
- Cursor: A cursor bug appeared where it would not update to context-specific icons, like a sword or a hand, when going from a game scene back to the main menu. This bug was fixed so that the cursor now updates correctly.
- Turn Time: A visual bug for the turn time was also fixed last month. This bug meant that the turn time would not always visually update, or it would remain visible even though it was not supposed to.
- Character Name: The character name input field will now ‘overflow’ instead of continuing on a new line if the amount of letters are exceeded.
Issues like those may seem small, but they make all the difference in the final outcome of the game. Several decoration groups were also added to the Game Client in January. These included props like rock scatters, campfires, glowing mushrooms and crystal clusters, which our Environment and Character Artist created a few weeks earlier.
Another important change made to the Game Client last month was the conversion of all our coroutines over to the new MEC asset. This is a system that runs very fast and ensures that the coroutines are more powerful whilst also providing a range of other options. This conversion fixed multiple MEC-related errors as well as a problem that the game music was having where it was not fading in and out properly during scene transitions. It is also a much more efficient way of managing the coroutines, so there were various benefits to installing the MEC asset.
If you’re interested in checking out our weekly devlogs, then make sure you head over to our game site where we post updates on our game development every Friday. We can already sense that February is going to be a productive month so make sure you’re following us on social media if you want all the updates!