Monthly Devlog | July 2023 | No. 54
Throughout the month of July, the development teams at Depths of Erendorn have been relentlessly dedicated to enhancing various aspects of the game. The 3D modelling team meticulously sculpted and refined the spellcaster armour set, pushing the boundaries of creativity to achieve intricate details and visual excellence. The set piece design team’s focus on stalactites brought a new level of depth and immersion to caves and dungeons, balancing visual appeal with performance optimisation. The programming team accomplished significant milestones, upgrading UI elements, implementing Fast Travel networks, and working on foundational changes to the nav system, leading to a more open adventuring experience. The sound team enriched the auditory experience with UI transition sounds and captivating recordings, bringing the game world to life. Meanwhile, the environment team made remarkable progress in landscape improvements, foliage optimisation, and corruption assets, creating an immersive world. The animation team’s dedication to refining character animations and introducing new characters added depth and realism to the gameplay. Lastly, the VFX team’s innovative materials and meshes elevated the visual effects, contributing to an even more engaging gameplay experience. The combined efforts of these teams promise an exceptional and captivating world for players in Depths of Erendorn. As always, join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn. Alternatively, join our Discord for all the latest! – now let’s get into it!
Throughout the month of July, the dedicated 3D modelling team has been fully immersed in their work, pushing to enhance the intricate details of our Spellcaster armour set. Their relentless pursuit of perfection and commitment to quality have been evident as they continuously explore innovative techniques to elevate the visual appeal of the armour. The sculpting phase of this set has neared completion, and the team has now delved into the meticulous retopology stage, ensuring that the meshes are optimised for performance. The helmet, shoulders, and crown have received special attention, with the addition of intricate elements throughout. To further enhance the dynamic movement of the armour, they have skilfully incorporated a bit of rope around the waist, completing the overall design. As the month comes to a close, the spellcaster armour set stands on the brink of completion, promising to be an exciting addition to the world of Depths of Erendorn. Examples of the progress made throughout the month can be seen below.
Set Piece Design
Throughout the month of July, the set piece design team has been diligently focused on enhancing the visual appeal of the caves and dungeons in Depths of Erendorn by introducing hanging stalactites. Their dedicated research culminated in the successful initiation of this exciting project, utilising Blender as their creative tool after overcoming challenges with ZBrush. Concurrently, they prioritised performance optimisation and achieved this by reducing the stalactites’ poly count, adhering to the environment team’s requirements. By decimating the stalactites to between 1-2k poly count, the team ensured that the assets maintain a visually appealing yet efficient presence in the game. In Substance Designer, they crafted a versatile material for the stalactites, leveraging baked ambient occlusion and normals from individual stalactites to deliver a compelling and realistic visual effect in UE5. Additionally, the team meticulously fine-tuned the cave layouts, addressing size concerns, and creating a more immersive and captivating environment for players. As they shifted elements and adjusted proportions, the team skillfully crafted an engaging cave experience for players in Depths of Erendorn. Examples of their impressive work can be seen below.
Throughout the month of July, the programming team at Depths of Erendorn has been hard at work, focusing on various aspects of the game’s development. They began by upgrading the Settings Menu UI and overhauling the Entity Overhead UI to reduce onscreen clutter during large group interactions while maintaining relevant information. The team made significant progress in implementing a new Fast Travel network feature, allowing for mapping, saving, loading, and updating networks, paving the way for a more open adventuring experience. They also worked on foundational changes to the nav system, with a transition from a 2D to a 3D grid, enhancing gameplay possibilities. Bug fixes were addressed, ensuring smooth server performance, while also improving AI targeting and handling. Additionally, the team dedicated time to automapping and optimising mapping functions, resulting in reduced mapping times and file sizes. Additional examples of the team’s work throughout the month can be seen below.
- Overhead UI assets replaced and layout reconfigured. Added new Nameplate background image and highlight for any enemies targeting the selected player.
- Updated Overhead Health Bars with new assets and text size and layout.
- Configured the ability for NPC Overhead Nameplates to be minimised when not hovered, while keeping States and Active Effects visible.
- Updated the Settings Window with new assets and layout.
- Added a generic Slider asset to be used by the Audio tab of the Settings Window and future settings that require Slider input.
- Finished implementing selected ability tracker in character creation.
- Updated vendor window to use contextual sound cues based on sold/purchased items.
- Updated some more misc UI elements, mostly buttons.
- Added new functionality to the adventure summary window to provide a small update at the end of individual combats and at the end of dungeons. Some minor bugs need ironing out and some adjustments required to allow spectating of other combats.
- Some more updates to minor UI elements for notifications, mostly text formatting and style updates.
- Screen pop-ups added for post combat/dungeon and other loot-awarding events.
- Updated Portrait background, Movement icon and Stat Bar dividers.
- Updated Portrait layout and text styles.
- Added Party Colour image to Player Portraits belonging to party members.
- Added Secondary Resource Stat Bars for the Dwarves’ Inner Grit, Knight’s Zeal and Watertarg’s Ancient Power stats.
- Hid Mana Stat Bar for non-magic users who gain Mana stats through gear bonuses.
- Added the ability to show the corresponding Regen Stat when Stat Bars are hovered.
- Added a Stat Description Data Asset.
- Optimised large number of Subwidgets’ design and refactored their functions to improve performance in Adventures.
- Some more updates to minor UI elements for notifications, mostly text formatting and style updates.
- Updated Character Animation Blueprints that use make use of a Weapon Type parameter to allow attacks, idles and walks to be blended between different weapon type character animations. For example, Skeletal Bowmen will now correctly perform shoot animations on attack instead of swinging like their melee counterparts. This blend method will be used for switching player animations when weapon model switching is implemented.
- Updated the Audio Manager to provide greater options when it comes to volume management across different audio source channels. Environmental and other dynamically used audio sources are now able to listen to the Audio Manager for changes in their corresponding volume channel.
- Added show all combat participants overhead UI when the movement filter (V key) is held.
- Switched Caravan event interactable meshes from a chest beside the Caravan to the Caravan itself.
- Created and analysed performance implications between Shipping and Development builds. Unreal Engine’s Shipping builds differ from Development builds in that the former is smaller in memory and has greater performance due to any debugging code normally included in a Development build being omitted. Comparing these build configurations side by side has allowed us to identify the impact our developer-only code has on performance and give better insight into areas that require optimising.
- Implemented final fixes to progress display to tackle a variety of visual and functional issues we found in testing.
- Implemented more UI elements, focusing on the inventory and cleaning up the progress display components.
Throughout the month of July, the sound team focused on introducing UI transition sounds to smooth out area transitions, collaborating with the music department and coding team to create Enums for sound attachments. The team meticulously set up transitionary sounds for various game events, such as adventure starts/stops and dungeon entries/exits, addressing abrupt audio cuts that disrupt immersion. By implementing layers of sound effects on the portals during dungeon entries, the team achieved a gradual and immersive sound alteration as players approach. The addition of portal sounds also provides audio cues for locating portals, enriching the game’s atmosphere. Despite facing challenges, including a recent illness, the team continued to curate diverse audio content, recording captivating sounds of coastal waves, storm fury, and even vibrations through water using a hydrophone. They gathered source content for magic and ability effects, offering an array of original recordings that bring enchanting and immersive magical elements to the game. Examples of their work can be heard below.
Throughout July, the environment team at Depths of Erendorn has made significant strides in improving the visual quality of the game’s landscapes. They have implemented new road textures with an enhanced material system, incorporating parallax occlusion mapping for more realistic and detailed textures. The virtual texture landscape material now features ambient occlusion and specular derived from the base colour, resulting in a higher fidelity landscape material with minimal performance cost. The team has also streamlined foliage materials into a reduced set of master materials, leading to improved rendering performance. Additionally, they have introduced moss fuzziness shading into the new master material, reducing texture overhead by deriving the moss mask from colour. The team further showcased further efforts by creating new corruption assets using UE5 Height displacement and Nanite, resulting in highly detailed meshes. Moreover, assets placed on grass now automatically remove grass and other small foliage, resolving issues with clipping. In parallel, the team optimised foliage in the game world by implementing changes to the foliage map packing convention, resulting in more efficient texture sampler use and reduced overhead. They addressed shading issues for shrubs, trees, and bushes when shadowed, resulting in improved visual quality and consistency. The team’s dedication to creating an immersive world is evident in their ongoing work on large rocks and cliffs, incorporating 8K textures for improved performance and attention to natural foliage appearance. Examples of their work can be seen below.
Throughout the month of July, the animation team at Depths of Erendorn has made significant progress in refining character animations and pose switching, ensuring smooth and seamless transitions between various poses. Their meticulous adjustments of parameters have resulted in more natural and realistic movements, adding to the overall visual appeal of the characters. The team’s dedication to character development is evident in the creation of character blueprints for previously missing characters, as well as addressing any related skin issues and importing additional mesh variations. Notably, their efforts in refining the animations for the Dwarf character have been remarkable, adding more force to swing animations, creating a sense of weight and impact for the mighty hammer. Additionally, the team introduced frost dwarves into the engine, bringing some more variety to the world of Erendorn. Their work extended to archers, Human, Elf, and Skeleton, with improvements in combat idle animations for a smoother experience. Examples of the team’s work can be seen below.
Throughout the month of July, the VFX team at Depths of Erendorn has been hard at work integrating innovative new materials and meshes into the game’s visual effects. These new materials and meshes bring a whole new level of movement and flare to the visual effects, enhancing the gameplay experience. Additionally, the team has continued to experiment and work on materials, further expanding the creative possibilities. They spent significant time in Blender, creating new meshes of varying shapes and sizes to enrich the project’s library. Examples of the VFX work completed throughout the month can be seen below.