May DevLog | Game Development Summary
It’s been another incredibly busy month here at Project Gamechanger as we continue developing our upcoming fantasy RPG, Depths of Erendorn. New models and animations have been created, our environments are getting some much needed TLC and don’t even get us started on the server! Also, by the time you read this, our very first teaser trailer will have been posted, so make sure you check it out!
3D Character Modelling
It was an incredibly productive month for our Character Artist, who finished two new characters and sculpted 5 more on top of that! The first of these was the Frost Dwarf, which had already been worked on a lot last month. With the low mesh already created and the clothes already modelled, sculpted and retopologised, the process of which we outlined in last month’s game development summary, our artist could move straight onto texturing.
Both the Frost Dwarf civilian and the Frost Dwarf merchant were textured this month. The most interesting part of this process was actually texturing the fur on their collars and cuffs. According to Dwarven lore in Erendorn, the arctic region these characters are native to forces them to rely on the Glacial Boar for resources. Frost Dwarves will use these beasts for their meat, labour as well as for their warmth. Indeed, we decided to make the fur on the Frost Dwarf’s clothing look more similar to the fur we used on the Glacial Boar model in order to reinforce this aspect of their life – and also to do a bit of world building!
Remodelling the Wolvajin
Once our Frost Dwarves were all finished, it was time to revisit an older model. While Wolvajins are meant to be terrifying creatures in Depths of Erendorn, famed for their vicious attacks and incredible speed, their original model didn’t reflect this as much as we wanted. Starting by modifying the original body sculpt, our Character Artist ended up completely remodelling this fearsome beast:
- The entire anatomy of the Wolvajin was first resculpted into a more upright position
- New arms were transplanted from the male Human mesh before being elongated to fit the model’s new proportions
- The legs were also made slightly longer in order to emphasise the speed and agility of the Wolvajin
- Before the head was reshaped, our artist first sculpted the skull in order to gain a better understanding of the head shape
- After a few trials and errors, the head was remade into a more favourable shape
- A snarling expression was then sculpted onto the Wolvajin in order to make it appear more ferocious and animalistic
Once the Wolvajin had been retopologised and unwrapped, its fur was projection painted onto it. This is a process that involves projecting photographs directly onto the model, and it is useful because it allows you to paint several texture maps at the same time. Using this technique, our artist was able to paint the base of the height, roughness and colour of the fur simultaneously. The final result of this entire process is a seriously fierce Wolvajin model that we think truly reflects the nature of these enemies.
Sculpting Multiple Canine Creatures
There are many canine creatures in Depths of Erendorn and they are all unique in their own way. However, the fact that there are a lot of these characters also means that it was important for our Character Artist to find a fast and efficient way of creating them all. They decided to do this by creating a base mesh of a wolf that can go on to be reshaped and reused for all other canine creatures in Erendorn. To create the wolf, our artist:
- Reused and edited the Wolvajin’s head and tail
- Changed the facial anatomy so that it appeared more wolf-like
- Resculpted the body and musculature
- Retopologised and unwrapped the final mesh
After the wolf was created, we were left with a good mesh that will be able to be used as a base for multiple canines – and we’ve already put this to the test! Using the wolf base mesh, our artist sculpted a Dire Wolf, Ice Husky and Savannah Wild Dog, as well as the more complicated Skyhound which has bat-like wings. Using this method has really sped up the process of our canine models while still allowing us to create unique, awesome models!
While last month’s game development summary detailed all the animations that were made for our Forest Druids, this month was all about the Watertargs. Not only was a new death animation created for this character, they also received a new walk cycle, an equip/unequip weapon animation as well as 2 new casting animations. In addition to this, our Animator created some basic attacks for the Watertarg and these will be used in the future when it comes to animating their more specialised abilities.
During the animation process, weapons were added to the Watertarg’s body so that our Animator could check their position and move them around if necessary. Once all of this had been done, the Watertarg animations and meshes were exported to Unity where they will be tested in the game.
While a lot of work was done with the Watertarg, our Animator actually spent most of this month working on our first ever teaser trailer, which you can check out here! Creating and perfecting this animation has been the entire team’s priority this month, and we’re extremely proud to finally be able to show it to you all. The animation shows a skirmish unfolding in one of Erendorn’s dungeons and gives a small taste of what can be encountered in these perilous depths.
When it comes to our environments, we’ve spent a lot of time this month bringing new additions into Unity in order to enhance our dungeon scenes and really push our environments to the next level. We’ve also been focussing on trying to ensure consistency among our visuals. There are 2 ways in which we do this:
- Art Testing Scene: The main project in Unity now has an art testing scene, where assets can be viewed under preset lighting. This is important to do because it ensures consistency among all future assets that are made.
- Art Bible: Having an Art Bible is essential during game development because, like the art testing scene, it maintains consistency in our environments, something a single person cannot do given the size of the game. Using the DOE Art Bible, we will be able to uphold the quality of art in the game by communicating our graphics through a strong and consistent visual language.
Among the many additions implemented into our environments this month is the Subsurface Scattering Shader (SSS), which was created for the characters that appear in dungeon rooms. An SSS map is often used on skin because it recreates the effect of light passing through the thinner parts of flesh, like the side of the ears or the outer edges of the fingers. It makes these areas appear more realistic by adding a glow to them, thus making them look semi-translucent. The SSS maps interact with the shader in order to achieve this effect, and we decided to add it to the environment so that the characters would look more polished. Other additions implemented into our environments include:
- Lighting and volumetric fog which were revised, optimised and implemented into procedural levels
- A new kit for the cave walls, which will make them appear more rugged
- A Triplanar Overlay Shader for the walls, which allows for seamless world space texture blending between wall pieces and keeps consistent texel density, regardless of the asset’s scale
- Stone pillars in order to break up our rooms a bit more as well as to add an extra element of grittiness
Server and Game Client
A huge amount of work has been carried out in the server this month so to prevent a TL;DR situation, we’re going to outline some of the highlights, starting with our new Ability Power Stat. This is a new stat that will allow players to get more power for their abilities – but it also means reworking every ability in the game to include this new stat. As a result, over 140 abilities have currently been changed this month! If you want to check out a few examples, head over to our weekly game development log where we detail some of the abilities.
Another highlight of the month was implementing a new Grid Shader. We made use of Unity’s newest rendering technology to do this: High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP). There are a few new features that the Grid Shader now makes use of and which help to improve the overall feel of the game. The grid will:
- Pulse slightly over time
- Fade over distance
- Have lines that fade towards the edges
- Be able to have its line colour changed
- Be able to have its grid scale and line thicknesses changed
In addition to this, an anti-aliasing plugin was imported into the game client this month. This will prevent lines from looking pixelated by spreading them over several pixels, thus making them appear smoother. We’ve used this anti-aliasing plugin to make all the edges in the game look smooth and non-pixelated, and it is surprising to see how dramatically this improves the overall look of everything.
But there haven’t just been new additions this month – there have been new issues to deal with, too. While we have successfully implemented a method that allows the Game Server to communicate with the Settlement Server, mainly about XP and items gained in dungeon rooms, a bug was still found in the communication between these servers. This caused large messages to crash the server, an issue we are still looking into.
If you want to read about what we get up to in more detail, then head over to our game site where we post a new game development log every Friday. We’re stoked about the amount of progress being made on Depths of Erendorn and can’t wait to see you again next month for a new update!