March DevLog | Game Development Summary
It’s been a busy and exciting month for the game development team at Project Gamechanger as we continue working on our upcoming fantasy game, Depths of Erendorn! Another playable character has been completed, several animations have been created, the Game Client now boasts an improved UI and a new Game Environment Artist has even joined the team. Depths of Erendorn is really starting to take shape and we can’t wait to update you on this month’s progress!
3D Character Modelling
A new playable character was modelled this month. The Rangers may hail from the Human Kingdom, but they are tethered to no settlement, preferring to wander through the lands of Erendorn with their bow on their backs and adventure on their minds. This month, our Character Artist focussed on creating the female Human Ranger and here’s how he did it:
- Beginning in ZBrush, blockouts of the Ranger’s clothing and armour were created
- Some primary forms were then shaped to determine how the pieces would overlap
- Once this was done, the silhouette of the model was checked to ensure that it had a good composition
- Panelling for the chest armour was designed, marked out and then masked off
- To get clean shapes, these panels were then extracted and retopologised
- By having these panels as separate pieces, the extrusion levels were easily adjusted so that certain panels could overlap others
- All folds in the clothing were sculpted, a strap with a buckle was created for the chest armour and extra stitching was added to the clothes
When sculpting a 3D model from a 2D concept sketch, it is important to be able to modify design elements that do not translate well to the 3D model, and it is important to do this in a way that maintains the integrity of the original drawing. A perfect example of this was the cape and quiver on the Human Ranger. Our artist struggled to place the quiver over the Ranger’s cape, as it was in the concept sketch, because it had an awkward appearance and affected the flow of the silhouette.
To resolve this issue, we decided to create a lighter cape that would sit over the Ranger’s quiver. While it strayed from the original design, it gave a much more cohesive feel to the character without us having to abandon the cape or quiver. It was also decided that the colours used in the concept sketch would need to change slightly because like the cape, they didn’t translate well to the final model. The result is a much more saturated colour palette that works well with the Ranger’s personality.
With all of these finer details in place, our Character Artist could begin the final stage of modelling:
- Having already modelled various mesh blockouts, the retopology process was made much simpler since there was already a base to use
- The retopology process mainly consisted of deleting edge loops and merging vertices
- After unwrapping the low polygonal mesh and baking the high poly details, the texturing process could finally begin
- The leather armour was given extra stitching as well as worn edges
- Surface details, like cloth texture, were also added to the model and its skin was made slightly darker in order to match other Human models that were created in the past
We’re making a lot of progress with our playable characters this year. Since January, we have finalised the models for characters like the Storm Elves, Twilight Elves and Forest Druids. We think you’re really going to love playing these awesome characters!
March was an exciting month for Project Gamechanger not only because we completed another character, but also because a new Environment Artist joined our team! This is really going to start bringing Depths of Erendorn together by breathing life and atmosphere into our dungeons.
Global illumination, for example, has now been added to Erendorn’s caves in order to provide a base layer of light. This was then accented by other light sources, such as torches, which are placed throughout the environment to illuminate points of interest to the player. This use of lighting establishes a dark yet fantastical atmosphere which perfectly captures the tone of the game. A subtle fog has also been added to not only reinforce this eerie sense of fantasy, but to also help in creating a sense of depth and scale for the player.
Here are some of the other areas our Environment Artist worked on this month:
- Modular Cave Walls: New cave walls have been added to the environment. These have been created in varying shapes and sizes that snap together, which is ideal for procedurally generating levels.
- Props: A few props have begun to be added to the environment as well, namely chests. When creating a chest, our artist baked it from a high poly in order to gather the smoothed edge data without gathering the details. All of the ornamentation and details were then added in later using Substance Painter.
- Vegetation: There is quite a lot of plant life in Erendorn’s dungeons, especially glowing mushrooms! In order to optimise their meshes, our artist baked each high poly mushroom asset onto a very low poly mesh that totalled 3 planes. Opacity maps were then used to create detailed silhouettes.
- Rocks: Smart materials in Substance Painter were used to create the rocks for the game environment. These materials allowed our artist to utilise geometric and texture-based information in order to procedurally texture the objects quickly and efficiently.
Ground material improvements were also made to the game environment this month. This was achieved by adding vertex painting functionality to the cave floors, which is used to blend multiple materials together. This will produce a more visual variation throughout the cave system, adding to the realism and immersion of Depths of Erendorn.
3D models and environments weren’t the only things created this month. A lot of animations have been made for two characters: the Forest Druid and the Earthen Dwarf. While the Forest Druid only has a walk cycle at this moment, the Earthen Dwarf has been brought to life with eleven animations. These include:
- Idle and idle variation
- Combat idle and combat idle variation
- Walk and run/sprint cycle
- Stun animation
- Death animation
- Kick animation
- Rage animation
- Special attacks
With his trusty hammer in firm grip, we love the Earthen Dwarf’s special attack animations, such as Hammerfall. This shows our fierce miner leaping into the air before swinging his hammer down in a very powerful and damaging impact. Precise Strike is also a brilliant attack that was animated this month. This ability not only reduces an enemy’s movement by dealing physical damage, it also does this by targeting the weak points of the opponent. We tested this animation out on one of Erendorn’s Watertargs – check it out for yourself below!
The month of March has seen a lot of improvements be made to the Server and Game Client. Kicking off this section is the Item Generator, which is now functioning correctly, though there are still some changes that will need to be carried out in the future. The Item Generator is an important development tool to get working in the Server. With all of the work carried out on it, it now:
- Saves items to the database
- Checks if an item exists in the database from a previous set of generated items before adding new ones
- Saves items in chunks rather than in one go, which was causing requests to time out
- Displays only a portion of the generated items which can be customised so that it doesn’t try to display all the thousands of items at once, which was causing the page to lag
While we’re on the subject, there was a lot of progress made with the items themselves in the server. They each now have description boxes appear when you hover over them. New stack limits were also added to the items so that only a certain number of them can exist in a single stack. While these details may sound small, they pave the way towards having items, loot and equipment added to the game. This is important because it will create depth in our upcoming fantasy RPG by giving the player a lot of options:
- Characters will be able to be customised with specific items in order to change the way it plays
- The player will be able to choose what stats and items will best suit their character build and playing style
- Items will be able to be sold to merchants in the game in exchange for gold coin or another item
- Various items will be scattered throughout the dungeons so that they can be collected as the player’s journey unravels
- After successfully completing a dungeon room, items will be awarded to the players
By implementing this amount of content, and by giving players a lot of options when it comes to their characters or playing style, we are in turn creating a lot of depth. This will improve the overall gameplay experience of Depths of Erendorn by giving players the chance to really shape how they play the game.
But creating depth isn’t the only way to improve a player’s experience of the game. Having an attractive User Interface that is also easily navigated is an essential part to any game. This month, a lot was done to the Game Client in order to improve the overall flow of the UI:
- A new Character Selection screen will now greet the player when they log in, displaying all the characters they have made in the past
- Characters’ abilities are also displayed on this screen, which will help players identify which abilities belong to which character
- A new structure and layout was created for the main menu, making it easier to navigate and better to look at
- The main menu now also displays the player’s selected character and also benefits from a new ‘Join Game’ controller that gives better feedback for joining games
A new Settlement Scene was also added to the Game Client this month. The Settlement Scene will act as the player’s hub, giving them a space where they can change equipment, buy and sell inventory items, visit their class-specific locations and join games with friends. Players will also now be able to access a character’s inventory, a feature that was implemented this month.
This inventory screen will show what a character currently has equipped as well as allowing them to equip and unequip items. With all of these features in place, we are confident that the UI is headed in the right direction, which will greatly improve the player’s experience of and interaction with the game itself.
To hear about all of these updates in more detail, make sure to head over to our game site where we post devlogs every Friday! As always, if you liked this game development log then make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where we share all our latest models, videos, game art, race lore and much more!