June DevLog | Game Development Summary
We’ve got a lot of news to share with you in this month’s game devlog! Over four sets of characters have been modelled, brand new animations have been created, VFX have been added to several abilities in Unity and we even have a new Ice Dungeon to show you! As always, remember to join us on Reddit, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn!
3D Character Modelling
Back in May, we had begun creating four different species of canines that will be present in Depths of Erendorn: Ice Huskies, Dire Wolves, Savannah Wild Dogs and Skyhounds. With their base meshes all finished, we spent the beginning of June texturing all the models, using different fur patterns for each one.
We particularly enjoyed texturing the Skyhound, a winged canine that has three colour variants: the Grey Skyhound, the Dark Skyhound and the Onyx Skyhound. We textured each model differently so that they were all distinctive. Our personal favourite is the Onyx Skyhound, which we gave a crystal-like glint to.
After putting the finishing touches on our four-legged pals, we then started modelling the Woolly Mammoth and its three variations. Yes, there are Mammoths in Depths of Erendorn, though they are often captured by Ogres for use in their wrestling tournaments. We wanted our Mammoths to be impressive beasts with unique features that would separate them from their prehistoric ancestors. For this reason, we gave them:
- Six different sizes of tusks
- Spikes that protrude from their back
- An intricate head piece that is made from bone
When creating the Mammoth, we ensured that the plates on the head were separate from each other. This way, we would be able to reduce the head size when creating smaller Mammoth variants. After completing the first Mammoth, which had a reddish brown colour, we decided to create another colour variant that had more grey tones. This helps to show the different species of Mammoths in Depths in Erendorn and also adds a nice level of variation to these immense creatures.
After focussing on creatures for so long, it was time that we took a break so that we could begin sculpting the Storm Elf Civilian and Merchant. Back in January, we had already created and textured the base meshes for these characters, so all we had to do this time around was sculpt the clothes for the Civilian and Merchant class:
- The base meshes for the clothes were modelled before sculpting could begin
- This meant that the retopology was much faster and more efficient
- Once the clothes were ready, we sculpted accessories like bags, pouches and belts
Then it was time to retopologise, unwrap and texture everything. We’re really happy with the final result – and if you look closely, you’ll be able to see the lightning scars that are unique to this race of playable characters!
With the Storm Elves out of the way, we began creating the Frost Dwarf Wrangler series. This character class specialises in the handling of wild animals, namely Glacial Boars which are also native to the arctic region and provide invaluable resources to the Frost Dwarves – like clothes, food, tools and even companionship.
To make the Wrangler series, we recycled a few pieces from the Civilian and Merchant Frost Dwarves that we created a few months ago. These pieces included things like the boots, trousers, gloves and tunic. The tunic, however, was redesigned so that it was unique to this particular class.
There were actually a few tweaks we made when modelling the Wrangler. A rope was added to the belt – how else would they do their hog-tying?! – and a fur pelt was then made by stamping a fur shape onto the model. Like the cuffs and collars on the last set of Frost Dwarves we made, the fur used on the pelt was made to look similar to the fur used on the Glacial Boar model. This allowed us to do a bit of world-building by reflecting these characters’ lifestyle in their clothing!
This month, the Animation Department was focussed on adjusting the rigs on some of our characters and creating new animations for them before importing everything into Unity. We’ll be doing this with all of our characters over the next few months so that we can test their animations in the game engine and refine them along the way.
Starting with the Earthen Dwarf, we first had to fix its mesh because it was clipping during animation. Five new animations were then created for it before everything was imported into the engine. In Unity, we began creating animation clips and also started to build an Animation Controller, an asset that allows us to maintain a set of animations for each character.
We then turned our attention to the Human Knight Champion:
- Skin weights on the clothing were adjusted
- Idle poses were updated so that the Knight can idle in combat
- The Knight can also now idle whilst holding 0-3 weapons
- All animations were then adjusted to fit the new idle poses
- Animations that had broken after rig updates were fixed
- We updated the punch animation as well as the Knight’s walk cycle
- This character can now walk with up to 2 weapons
- To finish, a new ‘disarm’ animation was created for the Human Knight
The Zentragal Illusionist also received new spell animations this month. This playable character possesses a huge range of dark abilities, so it was important we did them justice! Once we were happy with everything, all the Zentragal’s spells were imported into Unity for testing. The Parakaw Astromancer also had its animations updated before they were sent to the game engine where animation clips were created, the Animation Controller was updated and a playable animated prefab was implemented.
A few dungeon scenes were worked on this month so that we could start seeing how our earlier concepts would come together in the game. In Depths of Erendorn, there are four types of dungeon rooms that players must enter and conquer:
- Fire Dungeons
- Jungle Dungeons
- Cave Dungeons
- Ice Dungeons
While we started designing pieces for the Fire Dungeons, like rock sets and lava-ridden architecture, the majority of this month was dedicated to creating an Ice Dungeon room. When working on this, we actually reverted back to an older version of Unity so that we could make use of PPv2. With this taken care of, a post-processing and scene settings profile was then made for the Ice Dungeon, which helped to communicate the chilly atmosphere of this room.
Many pieces were created for and added to the Ice Dungeon this month:
- Ice rock prefabs and ice wall/pillar prefabs were added
- Multiple ice wall and snow wall pieces were created and added
- Stone pillars and ice pillars were also introduced to the scene
- Ice floors were added and their vertices were painted with snow
- Architectural pieces like stalagmites and stalactites were also added
- Various assets, from a campfire to treasure chests, were finally placed into the scene
To make this Ice Dungeon as immersive and realistic as possible, a snow function was made to dynamically place snow on top of static props using Geometry Normals. We then overhauled the snow placement function in order to use Object Normal maps rather than Geometry Normal Direction, which produced a far more detailed and accurate result.
Following this, new rock and object shaders were made to incorporate:
- Baked Normals
- Triplanar Detail Maps
- Snow Material Functionality
Using the snow function added a certain level of realism to the Ice Dungeon because it meant that every asset reflected and interacted with the environment. Sheets of snow are draped over many of the objects in the scene, for example, while sheets of ice similarly glaze every rock.
Finally, parallaxing ice shaders and materials with vertex-painted snow capability were also added to the Ice Dungeons, with the parallaxing effect giving the illusion of depth. We’re extremely happy with how this Ice Dungeon turned out, and if you want to hear about more of the details then head over to our Imgur where we give you an in-depth look at all the details!
Server & Game Client
In the Programming Department this month, a lot of rebalancing work was done on many of the abilities. Abilities that heal, for example, were given variation in what they can restore. This work was done following the stat rebalance we mentioned in our last devlog summary, a change that led us to overhaul over 140 abilities. Extra testing sessions were thus carried out this month so that we could identify any bugs caused by the overhaul.
With all of the bugs resolved (so far, anyway), we could focus on implementing Visual FX for spell animations. Cast animations like Fireball, Frost Bolt and Acid Bolt, for example, now make use of projectiles and explosions. More VFX were also created this month for abilities like Poison, Inferno and Thunderstorm. As well as this, VFX for abilities can now be more finely controlled, allowing us to determine how and where different ability VFX are spawned. Status Effects can now also use VFX which is very exciting.
We also added a new ability to Depths of Erendorn that will allow players to summon creatures using spells. Several changes needed to be made in order for this to be successful:
- Two new ability blocks were created and added
- The DOE Editor had to be changed so that it was possible to create summons
- The API also had to change in order to handle summons
- The Game Entity class had to have some changes made to it so that it would both store summons as well as link summons to entities
- The Client also had to have some changes made to it because summoning an entity that belongs to the player actually broke the pathfinding
To test this new mechanic, we created a basic summoning spell that was temporarily given to our trusty Zentragal. While this was working fine at first, later in month it caused an issue where it would reorganise the players’ turn order. We resolved this by making it so that a summon can only be used at the end of the other players’ turns.
We ended the month by making a few changes that have dramatically improved how players interact with the game and navigate the world:
- Players can now choose their starting place in a room by clicking twice on a spawn tile. This replaces the need to use the dialogue box which was the previous, more awkward method of joining a room.
- Rebindable hotkeys were introduced for abilities in the action bar. Now, with these in place, 0-9 keys allow players to cast an ability.
Before rebindable hotkeys, the only way to cast an attack was to click the ability icon, which was quite interruptive to the gameplay experience. Introducing rebindable hotkeys allowed us to smooth out the creases in this area of the gameplay.
While these sound like seemingly small and straightforward changes, they have made a huge difference to how Depths of Erendorn is played. So much progress has been made this month, from creating four different character sets and several new animations, to introducing a brand new Ice Dungeon and even some VFX for our abilities. Stay tuned for next month’s devlog to see what else we get up to!