Monthly Devlog | May 2022 | No. 40
It has been another busy month for the developers. The Zentragal reaches a finalised texture design as the castle ruins begin to take shape. Our Set Design team gets closer to completing the many props for the cities of Erendorn. During this time, the Animation team has worked on the Rhinogar and the Draconian, bringing them to life with new animations. Additionally, The VFX team is working through the list of abilities at a lightning pace while the Audio team keeps pace by bringing life to said abilities with fantastic sounds. Finally, the wizards of coding continue their work bringing stability to the party system and the world of Erendorn as a whole. As always, join us on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn – now let’s get into it!
Lots of exciting things have been completed last month by the modelling team. The artists have finalised the textures for the eight-legged illusionist, using a colour pallet based on the black widow spider. Adding purple into the mix for the upper body gives the Zentragal the ominous presence the artists were striving for, whilst also keeping the model in line with the dark magic that surrounds their heritage. This completed model will then go through the pipeline to the animation team, they will update any cycles that may need it. Then the model is ready to be put into the engine. Examples of the finished Zentragal model can be seen below!
During the latter part of the month, the team turned their attention to updating the Stone and Venomspitter frogs. Adding new texturing to the back of the Stone Frog along with adding new polygons to its back, in the shape of small rocks to help it blend in with its surroundings with ease. The Venomspitter, on the other hand, has been given striking new visuals on their backs. Taking inspiration from venomous amphibians in the real world, where the vibrant colours are used as a warning to would-be predators. Both the textures differ from each other as the Frog variants will be placed in many different environments within Erendorn. Examples of both varieties of Frog can be seen below!
Set Piece Design
The Set Design team has been getting closer to completing the many props needed for the interiors of city buildings. Many of the assets that have been constructed through the last month have a higher than average poly count as they will be loaded into smaller areas of Erendorn. These higher poly props also have a higher level of detail as the team will experiment with them within the game engine to ensure that they are appropriate for the buildings they will be placed. These assets can also be updated if they happen to be too strenuous on the game engine. To achieve this the artists can either lower the detail and poly-count (which would also decrease the detail) or they can work on retopologising the models to bake the details onto a lower poly model. Examples of all of the assets created through the last month can be seen in the pictures below.
Last month, the team have been focusing on furthering the Client implementation of the Party System, adding functions for each of the possible party state changes; players joining and leaving as well as invites being sent, rejected or expiring. Additionally, the team aimed to continue implementing the World Session party system and begin adding the ability for parties to join an Adventure Session. This is the groundwork that will allow players to leave the settlement and explore the world of Erendorn with their party. Also, the client-side team has worked on allowing parties of players to leave the settlement and begin an Adventure in the zone surrounding. This has meant updating how World Sessions are handled, from using a single World Session to having the ability to switch and connect to different World Sessions responsible for the different zones in the world of Erendorn. A breakdown of all the work completed by the client team can be seen below.
- Added the handling of Party Updates, a new message type that can be received by connected players that holds the most up-to-date state of the player’s party.
- Added comparison functions for each potential party change and events to handle them.
- Added Party invite UI, allowing players to respond to outstanding invites.
- Updated the World Session UI to show party member portraits.
- Added Server request messages for existing party interactions; leave, disband, kick and invite.
- Prevented jump animation loops getting locked when performing jump abilities.
- Added a function for adding/handling jump movements.
- Further implementation of Party interaction UI; Kick, Leave and Disband actions now display correctly from Party Updates.
- Added the ability to start an adventure with your party, beginning the process of setting up and joining a new session to transition to.
- Added a stand-in for the first zone to allow us to test the new systems for world exploration.
- Updated the format for imported ability tooltip data to use descriptions preformatted to include rich text tags.
- Added the ability to create and reference multiple different World Sessions.
- Updated the clearing method for Sessions to fully despawn managers and remove old connections.
- Updated burst message collation and compression methods in line with Server changes, this should allow updated messages to contain much more information while keeping the number of characters sent manageable.
- Implemented a fix for a bug where players joining dungeons late would not receive ballot conclusions blocking the screen with the reroll vote.
- Updated how Party UI displays when the local player leaves.
- Added new Zone1 navigation data.
- Fixed zone transition problems so now we can add more zones to the game world.
To start the month, the team worked on squashing a few bugs that has arisen with the newly implemented features. You can now receive multiple abilities upon choosing one in character generation. For example, Devious Saplings is an ability that has three ‘variants’, each of which restores a different stat to you when cast. Character generation now knows how to handle this. The team spent some time creating a script that intelligently tags abilities. The client uses a tagging system to flag certain parts of an ability’s description to be displayed differently. For example ‘Deal 10 (+15% AP) Fire Damage’ will have ’10… Fire Damage’ in Orange, or whatever colour we settle on for Fire damage, and the ‘+15% AP’ will be the colour of AP, potentially even having the text ‘AP’ replaced with the symbol for Ability Power, depending on future design decisions. While the client already had this system in, when we balance or create abilities, we had no way to put these tags in ourselves save for laboriously doing it ability by ability. With this new script, every time the servers are launched, they run through the entire database and intelligently add the client’s tags to every ability that doesn’t already have them and update existing ones.
During the latter part of the month, the team worked on a system for specific triggers (i.e Trigger this ability when an enemy dies, or when you are hit by a basic attack), we needed this system to also work for stats changing as well for the Knight’s Zeal and many other future abilities. (i.e Trigger when your mana changes, etc). This required a little bit of rewriting the original system to be able to allow this under the hood, but worked remarkably cleanly once it was completed. Finally, we found the servers weren’t loading the Item Database correctly, causing the maths on item power to be… a little off. Does anyone want a sword that does minus 9 million damage? A breakdown of all the work completed by the server team can be seen below.
- Adjusted elite NPC scaling.
- Adjusted ability cooldown logging.
- Added the ability to regenerate ability charges each turn.
- Added the ability to set ability charge restoration rate and max charges in the ability editor.
- Players in a party should now have colours assigned.
- Debugged and fixed party messages being sent.
- Fixed a potential crash when a connection was to unexpectedly drop.
- Fixed lobby Invites.
- Fixed Party Updates not being sent to the client.
- Adding Members to parties no longer causes the party to become locked.
- ZoneServer now starts correctly.
- The settlement server can now request a session for a party to connect to.
- Party transfer from server to server.
- Players can now start an ‘adventure’.
- Reconnecting as a member of a party will stop the party disband timers.
- Joining Adventuring Zone Sessions first iteration added.
- The Server’s Command Logging has improved.
- You can no longer move other player characters in the world.
- Automatic Ability Description Tagging added to the server making adding ability descriptions easier.
- Added a random generator to the world session.
- Fixed Adventure Session request.
- Fixed an issue starting new sessions.
- Fixed the zone server config file.
- Starting adventures now correctly starts a session and now the client is given the cue to connect at the right time.
- Refactored the enemy spawn code.
- Added a Enemy group spawn event.
- Reconnecting to a session doesn’t break parties anymore.
- Party kick should work now.
- Corrected the party invite logging when an invite is accepted.
- Fixed a checker function that determines if everyone is disconnected from the party.
- Party update on reconnect.
- Party handling improved and fixed to enable starting adventures.
- Party Invite responses work now.
- Party leave should work correctly now.
- Fixed zone server connection issues.
- The zone server no longer crashes on generating a second instance.
- Refactored ballots to include the ballot ID in the logs when it completes.
- Refactored the code which runs when character data is passed between servers.
- Refactored session joining logic to have a more logical process.
- Uploaded zone 1 nav file and updated the config files.
- Added player spawning when a player enters a new zone.
- Fixed an issue where joining a zone didn’t refresh leave timers.
- Updated the message compression to enable testing of large player groups (>4).
Over the last month, the sound design team has been working with other departments to create audio ready for the game. The team started the month working with the visual effects team, creating the audio that will go with many of the abilities that will be used throughout Erendorn. Once the sounds have been combined with the visual effects they give us an accurate representation of how they will be represented within the game. Taking many of the real-world recordings such as bells chiming, sounds of wind, wind chimes, water, rocks, and metal scrapes. The team has combined them to create the mystical sounds that are needed for these abilities.
The abilities the sound team worked with are Frost Shield, Astral Ray, Mana Rush, Storm Strike, Life Spirit, Voidcloud, Voidmind, Link Strike, Veil of Darkness, Voidtouched, Vengeance, Wounded Defiance, Solo Killer, and Disciplined Reserve. All these visual effects and audio that accompany them can be seen in the video below!
After a couple of weeks of focusing on visual effect audio, the team moved on to weapon sounds. Primarily focusing on the unsheathing of the many different weapons that players can use when the need arises. Using a combination of metal scrapes, wood being chopped, strings being pulled, reverb, and echoes the team has created the audio required for any type of weapon being removed from its holster. Adding more detail, such as this, to these simple effects will bring them to life and will keep the player engaged. This audio can be heard below along with a video showing its application with animations.
Finally, the team finished up the month by working with the Watertarg character class. Creating audio for the abilities Rainstorm, Early Grave, Drain Strength, Armoured Carapace, Mass Asphyxiation, and Palms of Ice. To create the audio for these new effects the team has recorded unique and fresh audio using water, these sound clips have then been edited together to get the work-in-progress audio for these abilities. The audio used for these abilities is still a work-in-progress as the team works to ensure clarity and distinction between each of the abilities. Some examples of these work-in-progress sounds can be heard below.
The Environment team has continued their work on the castle ruin point of interest. They started this month by sculpting bricks that will be scattered around the ruined walls of the castle. These bricks are high-poly render and will go through the “baking” process to keep the detail while being more efficient on processing power. During this time, the team also created a tileable texture that will be applied to the walls. This texture follows the same style as the bricks therefore they will not look out of place when combined in the larger structure. Examples of the sculpted bricks and tileable texture can be seen below!
Using these bricks and textures, the team started to create the modular pieces that would eventually become the ruins within Erendorn. Creating a modular kit, such as this, will give the artists a lot more freedom in creating the ruins, as all pieces will go together like a jigsaw puzzle with no visible evidence. During this time, the team also worked on ideas for the trim that would go around the top of each of the walls. A few iterations of this design would be created before the team settled on a final design. Examples of wall modular pieces and trim concepts can be seen below.
Once the team had come to a finalised design for the trim of the castle walls, additional modular pieces were created. Pieces with door arches and windows in them brought more variety to the kit and will give the artists more options when the time comes to build the castle within Erendorn. Throughout this process, the team was also creating new parts of broken wall that would bring even more variety to the ruins. Examples of the finalised trim design and unique modular pieces can be seen below.
As we came to the end of the month the team started to put all the pieces into the game engine ready to be placed in the world. Using this modular kit the environment team will construct the ruins where they wish to within Erendorn. The team also created the collision meshes that would be used for the ruins ensuring adventures would not be able to walk through them. Examples of these can be seen below!
It has been a busy month for the animation team, as they have updated animations for both the Rhinogar and the Draconian. Starting the month by focusing on the Rhinogar, creating new cycles including an idle, unsheath weapon, walk, and a two-handed attack. All of these animations take great consideration of the strength and size of the Rhinogar enemy model. Using holds and a lot of anticipation the team has also conveyed the idea that the weapon that the creature is carrying is pretty heavy. Overall showing that the Rhinogar is not a creature to be trifled with lightly. Examples of the cycles created for the Rhingar can be seen below.
For the rest of the month, after the Rhinogar’s animations were completed, the team focused on polishing and updating cycles for the Draconian. Starting with some idle animations that show off the Draconian’s background of secrecy and mystery. Keeping the shoulders hunched over and moving the hips closer to the ground conveys the idea that the Draconian is sneaking around or doesn’t wish to be seen. This is a common theme across all the animations for this creature. Additionally, the team also created attack animations using the character’s two-handed weapon, using similar effects as were used for the Rhinogar to convey the size and weight of the weapon. Finally, unique cycles were created such as the Fire Breath and death. A race shrouded in mystery, the Draconians are known for their immense power and strength, with many abilities that still may be unknown to those outside of the species itself. Examples of all Draconian animations can be seen in the video below!
The VFX artists have had a busy month as they continue working through the list of ability effects needed for the spellcasters of Erendorn. To start the month, they worked on abilities such as Voidcloud, Voidmind, Veil of Darkness, Link Strike, Vengeance, Wounded Defiance, Solo Killer, and Disciplined Reserve. These effects follow the themes of the previously created visual effects. Abilities that originate from the void all have deeper colours such as purples, reds, and blacks. These colours combined convey an idea. They have been created by dark and mysterious forces. On the other hand, the other abilities that have not originated from the Void have much brighter colours. Using yellow, oranges, and whites the team conveys a lighter side to the magic used to create them. Both sets of abilities can be seen below!
Once these sets of abilities were complete the team focused on abilities for the Watertarg character class. Starting with concepting the VFX they would be made to visually represent the Watertarg’s abilities. As their name suggests, the Watertargs have a close relationship with the waters that surround Erendorn, most notably the Deep. The Deep is a lake of immeasurable size, inhabited by hundreds of creatures and the ancestral home of the Watertargs. When concepting the abilities for these ancient creatures the VFX team has leaned into the lore and worked with abilities that appear to be moving the water itself, showing the deep connection the Watertargs have with their home. The concepts for the Watertargs abilities can be seen below.
During the latter part of the month, we started to see the abilities of the ancient creatures come to life. The initial abilities created were Rainstorm, Early Grave, Drain Strength, Armoured Carapace, Mass Asphyxiation, and Palms of Ice. Following the concepts done earlier in the month, the team has worked with cooler colours such as whites and blue. This will give the impression that the Watertargs are using magic to move the water around them. The team has also considered the size and shape of each of these abilities, giving them a defined silhouette that gives the player an immediate impression as to what ability was used. This will be crucial for decision-making within the Depths of Erendorn. All the complete Watertargs abilities can be seen below.
That’s it for this week’s devlog, but have you seen our monthly roundup of April yet?!