In this weekly devlog installment, we’re sculpting a brand new NPC, fine-tuning the GUI and wrestling with that pesky character customisation system we mentioned in our last devlog. We’ve also got some awesome new VFX to show you guys, so make sure you stick around!

3D Character Modelling

In our most recent devlog, we mentioned how we had begun investigating how to create the wings and feathers for the Daggerclaw Harpies. These NPCs appear as fierce enemies in Depths of Erendorn, using their large wings and razor-sharp talons to prey on victims from above. Well, this week our work continued on this character as we started creating the male sculpt of a Daggerclaw Harpy.

Using the standard male base mesh as a starting point, we resculpted a lot of areas of the body in order to give it more unique and relevant features:

  • The brow ridge was elevated and extended backwards to give more of a birdlike and streamlined appearance
  • The face in general was made to look more angular by adding things like more prominent cheekbones and slightly pointed ears
  • The legs were made to look more muscular, since Harpies are going to need to do some powerful jumps if they’re gonna take off and shoot through the sky!
  • The male human’s feet were replaced with sharp talons, which were sculpted separately and are also where the Daggerclaw Harpies get their name from!

The last thing we did on the Daggerclaw Harpy this week was block out the wing span before fully  integrating the bird feet into the sculpt mesh. Next on the list was testing the character customisation system we spoke about in our last devlog. 

In case you weren’t here last week, we’re looking into a character customisation system that will allow players to easily customise their character’s proportions, facial features and clothing/armour. If you’re curious to see which methods we decided to test, then head over to that devlog where we talk all about it. 

So far, however, we’re having quite a bit of trouble implementing it into the game and have been working with our Animator to try to resolve the issues we’ve been having – so check back for next week’s devlog to see if we’ve managed to tame this beast of a project.

Animation

Continuing with our work on importing characters and their animations into the game engine, this week’s animation devlog is focussed on the Parakaw Astromancer, a brilliant playable character that you’ve probably heard us mention before – and if you haven’t, you can find out more about them here!

There were a few tweaks we made to the Parakaw’s animations this week:

  • We edited its idle
  • We created some ‘shuffle left and right’ animations 
  • We created a ‘teleport end’ animation to test if it fits with the current teleportation ability 

All of the new animations were then imported into Unity for further testing. Meanwhile, our Animator spent the rest of their week helping out with the character customisation system. Together with our Character Artist, they decided to test the UMA plugin in Unity as this seemed like the best way to get the system working in the game. 

They have started by creating and skinning a character that will be tested in this new customisation system. We’re still in the middle of troubleshooting this process, so hopefully our next devlog will be a success story on how it all worked out, instead of a sad tale about an unsuccessful plugin!

Environment Art & GUI

This week in the Environment Art department, a procedural rock generator has been created. Trust us – it’s more exciting than it sounds! That’s because this new procedural rock generator will allow for high resolution rocks, cliffs and walls to be generated from base meshes at the touch of a button. The main benefit of doing this is that it makes for a much faster production process – hence why we’re so excited!

Following this, we decided to continue our work on concepting the Fire Dungeons for Depths of Erendorn, one of the many dungeon types that players will find themselves exploring in the game. We started talking about this in a previous devlog, where we created fire wall pieces and some lava rock sets. However, this week was spent less on asset creation and more on collecting reference images of fire caves so that we can start moodboarding all the different details of these awesome environments.

Our Environment Artist also did some more work on the GUI design of Depths of Erendorn. In our last devlog, we outlined the 4 phases we did to create and refine the blockout for the GUI. With that as our backbone, this week we were able to flesh out the detail panels and other UI elements, as well as begin deciding what the overall visual theme will be. It may be taking some time to complete – never rush through your GUI! – but we’re really stoked about how it’s coming along so far.

Screenshot showing a procedural rock generator
Our new procedural rock generator makes for a faster production process by generating high resoluction rocks, caves and walls from base meshes at the touch of a button.

Visual Effects 

So in our most recent devlog, we mentioned that we had welcomed a new VFX Artist to the team. Well, we’ve now welcomed them to the devlog, too! With them on board, you’re going to see loads of updates on how our visual effects are coming along and how these enhance our character animations and abilities.

This week, our VFX Artist started by adding a ton of textures and materials for use with visual effects. They also began reworking some of the effects for the generic spells and skills in the game:

  • Bash and Dirk Kick, two generic skills in the game, had a little umph put into them by our artist adding a dust cloud shockwave effect.
  • Fireball was given a bit of a facelift by its smoke trail being made more dynamic with the use of embers and less linear movement. Its hit explosion effect was also worked on.
  • Acid Bolt was made to look more fantastical by adding moving pinpoints of light floating around it – although it’s lacking some of the deep, dark colours from the artwork, so we’ll be working on improving that over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, our artist is also working on a secret Ultra Shader that will help to optimise their workflow. Once they’ve got this bad boy working, our VFX Artist will be unstoppable! So we’re really eager to get it up and running. Wrapping things up, some of the new VFX were added into the game to see how they looked – and they look great! More of the skills will be getting worked on next week, so keep your eyes open for our next devlog if you want to see how they all turn out.

Server & Game Client

This week in the Server has been spent improving level generation and loot selection time, with the added bonus of regenerating all the items… once again. This has taken up a lot of our time over the last couple of weeks, so hopefully it doesn’t need to be done again for a while! 

Alongside this, a few fixes, changes and additions were made in the game client. We:

  • Fixed the Ice biome map generation
  • Replaced the light for unlit fires on walkable prop tiles
  • Made it so that the correct materials now show on snowy props
  • Added and modified floor props
  • Added mushrooms and rocks to potential wall props
  • Stopped light sources and props from spawning inside walls
  • Moved all props to Addressables
  • Added a bridge to the room builder
  • Most importantly, we fixed the ear piercing sound effect for Turn-Change!

The Item Generator has also been optimized further since it was taking a very long time for items to be generated and required a fair amount of button pressing to get going. As well as this, it is now possible to queue up multiple items to be generated at once. This greatly improves the time it takes for items to spawn as the Generator will do more before you need to interact with it again.

While we’re on the subject, here’s a fun fact about the items in the game: so far, there are over 2.2 million lootable items at Level 1. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the endless possibilities Depths of Erendorn has to offer – and of the turmoil our programmers have been going through to get this working. 

Gameplay Test footage showing the Crystal Shard spell beinf used in a Cave Dungeon in Depths of Erendorn
We tested the spell Crytal Shard in the game to see how its VFX looks, and we’re so happy with the result!

Finally, after already working on a better system for displaying character turns, we made sure that the turn order display also got some love this week, making it so that dead enemies are no longer displayed. It also no longer covers the whole top of the screen anymore, so we’re definitely getting there!