In this week’s devlog, we’re taking you through our process of texturing the Daggerclaw Harpy, showing you some brand new VFX and revealing a new test scene we’ve made for our environment! Remember to join us on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit for all the latest updates on Depths of Erendorn!

3D Character Modelling

We finished the retopology of the Daggerclaw Harpy Wanderer series this week (*cheers*) and baked all the maps as well. With both series of Harpies complete, we moved on to texturing the base mesh of the standard Harpy body that will be used for all future types we make.

However, we had a bit of trouble when it came to figuring out the best method of applying the tiling feather pattern we talked about in a previous devlog:

  • The use of triplanar or UV mapping projections weren’t making the feathers on the body seem like they were conforming to the curves of the body.
  • Another issue we had was that the feather density was too consistent across the body, whereas we ideally wanted it to be more varied in order to achieve a realistic effect.

We managed to solve these problems by splitting up the body into different areas: the chest/shoulders, torso, back, butt, thighs and finally, inner thighs. We then made it so that each ‘’area’’ had varying feather densities. We also found that using spherical mapping helped to give the effect of feathers wrapping around the body whilst also maintaining a more varied density.

Once we were happier with the feather density and wrapping, we finalised the masking so that the feathers looked like they overlapped each other at the join areas. We could then move onto worrying about the colouring of the Daggerclaw Harpy – and worry we did!

  • We struggled to maintain a good contrast between the feathers and skin when it came to colour.
  • This is because both colours we used were of a similar value, which made the body seem like one tone.
  • However, we found that too different a colour for the skin looked a bit odd with the colour of the feathers. 
  • In the end, we decided to experiment with two different coloured undertones to tint the skin with: purple and green/blue. 
  • We chose the green/blue undertone as we thought this best complemented the golden colour of the feathers. 

We’re now at a point where we can call the Daggerclaw Harpy base mesh complete! Our next steps will be to texture the various items of clothing for both the Slayer and Wanderer series, so come back next week to see how everything comes together!

Animation

This week, as we continue with our switch over to Unreal Engine, our Animator prepared the rigs and edited the naming of the bones for several playable characters: the Human Knight, Earthen Dwarf, Watertarg Excursionist and Twilight Elf Assassin. This was done so that all characters share the same names and hierarchy for the base rig, and also so that all new rigs are compatible with the UE Mannequin.

After adjusting some skin weights on these characters, they were all imported into a test scene in UE4, where they were assigned their respective idle animations. Even though all character races could share the same idle animations in the engine, our Animator decided that it would be best to have one unique rig for each race. To get a jump on this, we started creating a spreadsheet that lists all humanoid characters to see how many unique rigs will be needed. Creatures, i.e. non-humanoid characters, may be able to share a rig for idle animations with the rest of the species, depending on the shape of their anatomy.

In between all this, our Animator spent their week watching more UE4 tutorials for Skeletal Assets. They also worked on another class skill for the Twilight Elf Assassin. Rupture Kick deals a significant amount of Physical Damage while reducing an enemy’s Strength by 5 for one whole turn. It’s a pretty badass ability so we’re excited to see how it turns out!

Environment Art

We worked on fine-tuning a lot of aspects of our environment this week, like the pine trees we spoke about in a previous devlog. These were remade so that they are now higher quality and more in line with other assets. These haven’t been implemented yet, so we’ll keep you posted on how they look. 

In addition to this, some realistic grass was made and implemented into the test scene we’ve been working on recently (if you follow us on social media, you’ll know which scene we’re on about). As it stands, there are currently over 14k instances of grass in that environment scene, and we’re siked about how realistic they look!

Wrapping up the week, lighting and post-processing effects were adjusted in the test scene so that we could ensure that we got the most realistic and optimised results possible. We also made and implemented some ferns in order to give our environment more variation in textures and more points of interest, as well as to indicate the wild overgrowth that covers the land of Erendorn.

Visual Effects

This week, a few generic status effects and buff VFX were made, which was a great way to start playing around with the new engine. Our VFX Artist also finished the Black Hole effect that we showed in a previous devlog. This is a very powerful class spell of the Parakaw Astromancer, dealing significant amounts of Arcane Damage while also having the capacity to stun enemies.

Another class spell we created VFX for was Thunderstorm. Also used by the Parakaw Astromancer, Thunderstorm gives each enemy in the room a 75% chance to be hit by lightning every turn for 2 turns – so it can be pretty powerful! We used a lightning material to create the VFX for this ability:

  • The lightning itself is just a straight white line on a texture.
  • We then used a noise texture as a scrolling mask for both the x and y axis at different speeds.
  • That way, the lightning will only show up on the white areas of the mask.
  • Then, with the mask moving, it will mimic lightning by creating random movements.

The colour and speed of this lightning effect can be controlled in the editor, so we should hopefully be able to use it for lots of stuff besides Thunderstorm! 

As well as doing all this, our VFX Artist also started looking into some environmental effects like fireflies, smoke and dust. We hope to use effects like these to breathe life into our environments, not only in a way that reflects realism but also in a way that captures fantasy. 

Programming

A lot of work was carried out on character selection and creation menus this week. For instance, we added a multi-page character creation screen. This will use server calls to update the client with all available classes and learnable abilities that a player can access, depending on their progression. In addition to this:

  • We implemented account character retrieval and parsing.
  • We created menu widgets for the character selection screen. 
  • We added character creation validation for ability loadouts and names. 

Moving on, now that we’ve switched over to UE4, our entire UI will have to be remade. While work continues on asset creation for this, like getting the artwork finalised, our programmers have been adding placeholders in order to provide a basic layout for everything. To get these bare bones down, we added placeholders for:

  • The main menu
  • The inventory screen
  • The settings screen
  • The lobby browser

Basic navigation between placeholder menu screens was also added this week. Although our UI is made up of placeholders at the moment, these will eventually be replaced with fully designed, finished assets – so we’re really excited for when we get to see it all come together!

After the basic layout of our new UI was set out, we added a music controller to the client before importing the first 5 pieces of music for the dungeons, as well as the main theme. Finally, a command was added to the server to retrieve active lobbies. This will help to debug any issues that prevent lobbies from being destroyed after a game by making it easier to see them. It will also make testing easier once we are at that point again.

Thanks for joining us for another weekly devlog! As always, rememeber to follow us on social media for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn!