Depths of Erendorn has received a lot of TLC this week! Not only have new animations been made for our fearless Earthen Dwarf, new features have also been added to the Game Client in order to allow players to equip and unequip the items on their specific character. We’ve also welcomed a new Environment Artist into our team, so we’re looking forward to showing you some new game environment scenes that have been worked on!

Character Modelling

Following on from our last game development log, our Character Artist spent this week finishing the updates on the Human and Elf meshes and textures. This was due to an issue that was found on the mouth topology of these models in the previous week, which had to be mended so that they deformed better for animation.

Unfortunately, this issue spurred on a domino effect. In order to fix the mouth topology, our artist had to remodel the mouth. As the mouth needed to be remodelled, the existing UV could no longer be used as a UV cannot be transferred between different meshes. In order to reduce any texture rework needed, only the mouth area that had been remodelled was re-unwrapped before getting stitched to the existing UV.

Thankfully, a programme called Substance Painter is great for reprojecting the painted information. Once the new mouth was attached, the updated mesh was then reimported into the Substance Painter texturing file, where the software automatically reprojected brush strokes. After this, any areas which didn’t reproject well were repainted and touched up. Substance Painter is also useful when it comes to creating a game environment, an area that has acquired a lot of new attention this week.

Game Environment

A new Environment Artist has joined the team! With someone specifically focussing on the game environment, Erendorn’s dungeons are really starting to come to life. This is important because the game environment not only sets the tone and atmosphere for Depths of Erendorn, it will also help to create a level of immersion so that players can really feel like they’re journeying through the dungeons. We’re excited to show you everything our Environment Artist has been working on so let’s get started.

Lighting and Atmosphere

Lighting was the first feature to be implemented into the game environment. For lighting, we are using Global Illumination with a ‘base layer’ of indirect lighting that will be added to the caves in order to provide a minimum amount of light. This helps to create realism and atmosphere in the dungeon rooms.

This GI system was then accented by other light sources, such as torches, which are placed throughout the environment in order to illuminate points of interest to the player. Finally, a subtle fog has also been added to the game environment this week to help create a sense of depth and scale for the player. It also reinforces this eerie sense of fantasy created by the soft use of lighting in these dark, treacherous caves.

Ground Material Improvements

Vertex painting functionality has been added to our cave floors in order to improve the ground material. This will also be used to blend multiple materials together, which will produce more visual variation throughout the cave system and thereby add to the realism of the game.

We can also take this effect one step further by adding procedurally placed vertex colour to control texture outputs. This will be especially helpful when it comes to creating all the different types of dungeon rooms that Erendorn has to offer. From jungles to lava pits, there will be a huge range of environments that will benefit from vertex painting functionality.

Props, Rocks and Mushrooms

Several chests have been created and implemented into the game environment this week. When working these hard surface props, our Environment Artist kept most of the details texture-based in order to maintain a level of flexibility. The chest used in the game environment, for example, was baked from a high poly model in order to gather the smoothed edge data without any details. The refinements and ornamentations were added in later using Substance Painter, giving our artist lots of room to experiment and alter details.

There is a lot of plant life in the depths of Erendorn’s caves, and if you’ve been with us from the start you will remember our famous glowing mushroom groups! There’s quite a few of these guys and with this quantity in mind, it was important to optimise each mesh. Our game Environment Artist’s method of approach was to bake each high poly mushroom asset onto a very low poly mesh that totalled 3 planes. Opacity maps were then used to create detailed silhouettes.

When it comes to creating rocks for the game environment, smart materials within Substance Painter are a great way to utilise geometric and texture-based information as they allow you to procedurally texture objects quickly and efficiently. Using this method also helps to maintain consistency and uniformity throughout our biomes. New modular cave walls were also added to the project. These have been created in varying shapes and sizes which snap together, ideal for when procedurally generating levels.

Animation

Continuing on from last week, our Animator carried on refining the attack animations for our Earthen Dwarf. Among these special attacks, five skills have been worked on this week:

  • Precise Strike: This accurate attack targets the weakest points of the opponent, dealing 6 Physical Damage as well as reducing the enemy’s movement.
  • Shattering Blow: When this ability is used, it reduces the Resilience of any adjacent enemy that the Earthen Dwarf chooses. The effects continue for 20 turns and deal 10 Physical Damage.
  • Hammerfall: This class skill involves a full force leap into the air from up to 4 tiles away from the target. It lands with an impact that splashes 6-8 Physical Damage all around the Earthen Dwarf.
  • Cleave: This is a generic skill that hits up to three adjacent targets, dealing 9 Physical Damage.
  • Hammerblow: Another generic skill, Hammerblow deals 5-9 Physical Damage.

Creating these animations for the Earthen Dwarf has been a lot of fun, and it’s exciting to see our fearless miner come into action. Check out some of the new animations below!

Server

This week, more work has been carried out on the Item Generator. Items have been planned so that some of them have a certain amount of a specific stat when generating new items. For example, shields will have 50% of the item power spent on Health. We have also worked on a provisional formula for assigning gold values to our items, as well as ensuring that item rarity levels now have provisional item power bandings.

Heal Wounds, a class spell for our Forest Druid character, had its cooldown time reduced in the server this week. It now has a 5 turn CD instead of 6. There was also some work done to the Inventory Manager, a feature that allows the player to access their character’s inventory when they want to see what items they have equipped:

  • When the player selects the character they want to play, the server loads the character’s inventory into the memory
  • When parsing this character’s inventory, the Inventory Manager assigns equipped weapons into the equipment slots
  • Stats on equipped items are then combined and stored. This will later be used in the game server when more work is done

Last week, we mentioned that we will soon also be able to allow players to customise the items their character has so that they can play according to their personal playing style. This was achieved this week as players can now equip and unequip the items on their character.

Game Client

As a result of the work carried out on the Inventory Manager in the server, supporting work had to be carried out in the Game Client, starting with equipment. To begin with, item stats are now collated and updated when items are equipped and unequipped. The Client can now also send an equip/unequip command to the server.

As well as this, items can be right clicked and equipped. A context menu, also known as a pop-up or drop-down menu, also had to be created in order for this to happen. This GUI feature can actually be reused in other areas of the Game Client due to the way it was created, so this is a massive benefit.

If you would like to see everything we’ve been up to this month in one go, then head over to our company site where our monthly devlog summary has just gone live!