DevLog Roundup: New Characters, Buildings & Talent Selection
In this month’s devlog roundup, we’re showing off all our new characters, settlement updates, and sound effects. We also implemented a new Talent Selection capability to character creation, which enables players to customise their playing style. A bunch of new animations and VFX have been created for this, so we’re stoked to show you what we’ve been up to. Check us out on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit if you haven’t already – now let’s get into it!
3D Character Creation
The Human Kingdom of Erendorn is defined by a number of powerful institutions, from the esteemed Mages’ Sanctum and the honourable Knight’s Order, to Queen Annka’s very own Council Of Seven. The Templar Order is among these prestigious pillars of the Kingdom, and it is the middleground between the stoic, combative Knights and the spellcasting Mages.
At this institution, Templars are trained to master combat, weapon-handling, and magic. This emphasis on combining spells with physical prowess is rebuked by the Knight’s Order, placing Templars and Knights as staunch enemies. In the game, you may encounter and even battle Templars, who can be identified by their medieval-inspired bucket helm.
Here’s a quick step-by-step on how we created this character:
- Using the premade human base mesh as a foundation, the clothes and equipment were sculpted and detailed in ZBrush
- After retopologising, unwrapping and baking everything, we brought the Templar into Substance Painter to being texture work
- A battered metal material was used for the helmet, gauntlets, pauldrons and boots, with the aim to create a battle-worn appearance
- The eye slits on the helm were inspired by art deco designs in order to bring a nuanced element into this classic medieval aesthetic
When travelling the scapes of Erendorn, you may happen upon what will at first seem like a humble nomad with an animal companion. Clad in fur and leather, these are Beastmasters, wandering adventure seekers and former citizens of the Human Kingdom. These individuals also have the unique ability to form an irrevocable companionship with a wild animal, who they communicate with and fight beside. But proceed with caution around these characters, because not all take kindly to strangers.
In Depths of Erendorn, Beastmasters will appear as both playable characters and enemies. Both classes were created this month, and here’s how:
- We started off the same way we did with the Templar, using ZBrush to create the different sculpts as well as an awesome ponytail
- To emphasise their affinity with animals, details like fur boots, embossed paw prints, and an animal-tooth necklace were incorporated
- The Hardened Beastmaster, the enemy class, was also given a green cape and longer tunic so that it looked more impressive and distinguishable
As well as keeping your eyes peeled for Templars and Beastmasters, you should also keep them on the ground in case there are any creepy crawlies around. Scorpions are one such creature, possessing powerful pincers and a dangerous stinger. Although they’re low level enemies in the game, they can still pack a good punch, especially now that they have a full animation set. This includes their:
- Idle animation
- Walk cycle
- Basic attacks
- Special attack
- Hit reactions
- Death animation
There were a few other low level enemies who got new attack animations this month, including the spider, crocodile, turtle and rat. Like the scorpion, these are all sly creatures who can deal more damage than you might think.
Introducing Talent Selection
If you follow our weekly devlogs, you’ll already know that last month we added a Talent Selection functionality to character celection. This is a really exciting new feature because it adds another layer of customisation to the gameplay by allowing players to choose two generic abilities for their character. These will be in addition to all the default and special abilities that come with the chosen character, and will basically allow you to play the way you want.
As an example, before Talents were introduced, one of the Twilight Elf Assassin’s default abilities was Voidshadow. While this is an awesome skill, we now give players a choice between Talent Abilities so that they can define their playing style. For the Assassin, these talents include:
- Voidshadow, which activates Stealth, making you unmovable and untargetable
- Void Flicker, which allows the Assassin to teleport to a random location within 3 tiles
- Shade of Recuperation, which heals you a little bit every 3 turns
- Shadow Assault, which allows you to teleport 3 tiles ahead and attack an enemy 3 times
We’re currently in the process of adding character abilities to this new Talent System so that we can get it up and running. Part of this involves getting all the animations and visual effects completed for each new Talent :
- Adding Animations: Two of the Twilight Elf Assassin’s Talent Abilities, ‘Voidshadow’ and ‘Shadow Assault’, were animated this month, as well as the Watertarg Excursionist’s ‘Summon Geyser’ spell.
- Adding Visual FX: Our artist spent some time concepting the visuals for all of the playable characters’ different talents. Work has already begun on ‘Gutting Wound,’ another Watertarg ability that uses a brand new shattering VFX material.
We’ve got a while to go before all of this is completed, but we’ll be updating you along the way in our weekly devlogs, so tune in to those you haven’t already!
Building UE4 Guard House
A lot of attention was paid to the Guard House this month, which is the first building to grace the settlement we built in UE4. Players will be able to enter buildings like these and interact with other characters. We’d already done a lot on this architectural feat in August, so luckily there were only a few bits left to polish off:
- A thatched material was used to texture the roof
- A-frame roofing modules were created for the shape
- Subsurface scattering was added to the roof to improve realism
- Structural elements like beams and pillars were also introduced
- The wheels were made 1.2 x larger to proportion everything
- Meanwhile, the Guard House itself was made 33% smaller
- We colour-matched the tiling wood material so that the aesthetic was cohesive
Interior Design In Unreal Engine
When we were more or less finished with the exterior of the building, it was time to make some interior design decisions. First and foremost, wooden floor pieces were created so that we could continue our rustic theme. We also made some flags to represent the different factions of Guards in Erendorn, and we added these inside the Guard House as wall decorations:
- We used Marvelous Designer to create the flags because it gave us control over the creases
- Creases were then exaggerated in ZBrush before we textured everything in Substance Painter
New props were created for the Guard House interior, including chests, crossed sword shield decorations, tables, barrels, and various nick-nacks. While we loved the look of these props, there was something missing, something that we needed in order to tie everything together.
Our Environment Artists decided that a visual theme needed to be established and applied to everything in the Guard House. We settled on a rather Viking aesthetic in order to maintain the rustic and somewhat medieval visuals we already had going on. To do this, Nordic carvings were added to various props, and we did this using an ornamental trim sheet.
Reinforcing The Visual Theme With Ornamental Trim Sheets
Our original plan for adorning props with ornamental carvings was to add these details using geometry. However, it was quickly reasoned that this wouldn’t be the most efficient method, and would limit us in terms of how much detail we could include. To resolve both of these issues, a trim sheet was created:
- Our trim sheet accommodates a huge range of high-res patterns that we can use to quickly and efficiently apply patterns to props
- A material instance was also made so that some of the patterns appear as chipped paintwork, giving the trim sheet a more diverse usage
- We used the trim sheet to reinforce the visual theme of our Guard House and settlement, and will continue to use and refine it throughout the world
VFX For The Twilight Elf Assassin
All of the visual effects for the Twilight Elf Assassin were completed last month, meaning that we could finally import all of these into the engine and test them alongside animations.
Here’s your POV: you’re travelling through Erendorn’s notorious cave dungeons, just a cloaked Assassin looking for some loot. All of a sudden, you’re accosted by the flesh-eating rats that plague these treacherous tunnels, and so you’re left with only one option: fight to the death!
Sound FX For Enemies
Draft sound effects were created for three of the game’s enemies last month. These sound profiles include fx for attacks, hit reactions, deaths, and idles. Here are some of the enemies worked on:
- Wolvajins: These are hellish enemies who have a truly savage streak. As such, their sound design was inspired by wet, guttural growls that sound injurious and wild.
- Swiftstrike Jaguars: These are low-level enemies known for their speed and precise, deadly blows. A more animalistic vocalisation was used for these creatures.
- Swamp Lizards: These creatures submerge themselves in fetid swamplands or muddy waters. They were made to sound more alien with the use of clicking, reptilian noises.
More ambient sounds were created and implemented this week. The purpose here was to create the impression of a vast atmosphere, made sinister by the inclusion of distant growls and groans. These sounds were then brought into our cave dungeons, which was made possible by our Programmers implementing static ambient audio to cave levels. With these in place, our dungeons have been elevated to new levels of realism and balefulness.
SFX For Player Abilities
Some playable characters received new sound fx for a few of their abilities, including:
- Rapid Killer is a Twilight Elf Assassin specialty, and it basically restores some Energy and Movement stats to you every time you kill an enemy
- Vine Lash is a melee ranged attack used by the Forest Druid to disarm enemies, as well as to deal significant amounts of Nature Damage to them
- Ancient Bolt is used by the Watertarg Excursionist to deal Arcane Damage to an enemy, as well as slow them down.
- SFX were also made for Empowered Ancient Bolt, which is the upgraded version of this spell
Weapon Sound Effects With REAPER
Our Sound Artist also massively streamlined their workflow for creating weapon SFX. This was achieved with the audio software REAPER, which made it a lot quicker and easier to create multiple sound variations for weapons. Usually, a lot of different sound files need to be layered together to get a nice weapon effect. Then, in order to create multiple unique hits and sounds, our Sound Artist would have to tweak each file individually. As you can imagine, this was a pretty laborious task – but no more! Here’s was REAPER allows us to do:
- All SFX files can be thrown together in the software
- Here, they can be tweaked as an entire session, rather than individually
- We can then randomise through everything to create hundreds of unique SFX
Programming In UE4
Movement Ability Templates
Last month, our Programmers created the option to modify how character movements are carried out during specific attacks and abilities. This functionality was added to our preexisting Ability Templates so that we can easily control how we want different movements to be displayed.
We identified three main movement categories that happen in-game, and they include teleportation, linear movement, and jumping. These movement types were then integrated with their respective character Animation Controllers so that their animation sequences were executed smoothly during gameplay.
A number of exciting features and capabilities were added to the game last month, including:
- The ability for players to see their equipped items and stats, as well as unequip their items and stats
- Displaying character and item stats on the inventory page so that players can see how different weapons will affect their stats
- The introduction of ability controllers, cast requests, and communication functions for directional abilities
- The implementation of a new Damage Reduction mechanic, which will only work for specific damage types
The last thing our Programmers got up to in September was work on making equipment sellable in the game. When you play Depths of Erendorn, you’ll be able to trade and sell your loot with other players as well as Merchants. We’re going to be working on setting this functionality up so that equipment will be able to be sold directly from a player’s inventory.
That’s it for this roundup! Check our newest weekly update if you’re itching for more!