Happy Friday, everyone!  With another Friday comes another devlog, and this week we’re really excited to announce that a new, incredibly talented Sound Artist has joined our team! With that said, we’ve got a ton of updates to show you, from new models, animations and visual effects, to some awesome never-before-heard sound effects. You know the drill – for regular updates on Depths of Erendorn, head over to our Twitter, Instagram or Reddit. Now, let’s get into the good stuff.

3D Character Modelling

This week, we began and completed the texture for the Blackhorn Rhinoceros, a low level enemy in Depths of Erendorn. Using alphas and brushes in Substance Painter, we added details like leathery skin and wrinkles to really push the realism of this creature. We were able to do this with these brushes because as well as adding height/normal information, the brushes also added AO information, giving more depths and shadows to the added details. 

Before we could call this model finished, we decided that the head was looking a bit too small, and we fixed it by simply sizing up the head on the mesh. We then created a variation of this model for our Hulking Blackhorn Rhinoceros, a much rarer and more powerful enemy in the game. The main differences between these two rhinos is that the Hulking Blackhorn has a bigger horn and thicker body. With both of these beasts completed, we could then move onto a different character.

Our next character was also of the rhino persuasion. Rhinogars are a battle-hardened desert species who are known for their lethally sharp horns, hulking strength and a hatred for Humans. To get started on these enemies, our Character Artist actually decided to use our strongest Lionman model as a base for the body. We could then start shaping the Rhinogar from there:

  • The head, hands and feet were cut off from the Lionman model.
  • The head and back feet that we used on the rhinos were then added. 
  • We then adjusted the overall proportions, making the model shorter and its body thicker.
  • We did this because it’s important that this character is conveyed as a strong, bulky fighter.
  • The hands were made from scratch and were kept closer to the rhinoceros’ anatomy by having only two fingers and a thumb.

After merging everything together and refining many of the shapes, musculature details and intersections between the previously separate parts, the Rhinogar sculpt was finished! Like the Blackhorn Rhino, many of the Rhinogar’s tertiary details will be added during the texturing phase next week. 

The last thing we’re doing on the Rhinogar this week is retopologising it. Our Character Artist has chosen to do this now rather than waiting until after all the equipment has been made for it because equipment creation will be much faster if there is a low mesh to create geometry from.

Animation

More work was carried out on the Twilight Elf Assassin this week. Its basic walk animation was added to the new rig, and a new basic attack was also created for it. These animations were then baked onto the rig and exported to the engine, alongside all four character class versions of the Twilight Elf Assassin, which were exported as fbx files. These classes included:

  • The standard Twilight Elf Assassin
  • The Twilight Elf Assassin Champion
  • The Master Twilight Elf Assassin
  • The Twilight Elf Assassin Deathlord 

As the names suggest, each class is more powerful than the last, with the Assassin Deathlord being the most formidable. All of these character variations will be using the same main rig in the engine in order to cut down on time and make character generation much faster. 

With all of that out of the way, our Animator moved onto the Forest Druid. Once we updated this character’s rig to match our main, unique rig, we were then able to update the Forest Druid’s mesh. Next, we skinned the character and started to transfer animations onto the updated rig. After spending a couple of weeks testing the Twilight Elf Assassin, it will be nice to see how another character functions in the engine with its animation and VFX tests. 

Environment Art

This week was all about set piece pre-production in the Environment Art department. Set pieces are a core component in our dungeon builder. Essentially, they are a small portion of the level which are set-dressed and tailor-made to provide visual storytelling for the players exploring that dungeon. These set pieces can also sometimes be linked to random events which trigger and occur during gameplay.

The first part of any creative process is to generate ideas. Our Environment Artist created 14 small mood boards for set piece ideas which, after a few discussions, have now been narrowed down to our favourite 3. These 3 small mood boards will now be expanded on and fleshed out. Each will contain relevant information to help inform their creation during the 3D process, including information like lighting, mood, texture information, shape language and an asset list.

WIP animation of Twilight Elf Assassin's dagger attacks from Depths of Erendorn
This shows the basic dagger attacks we have for the Twilight Elf Assassin.

Visual FX 

A couple of visual effects were finished up this week, including Unique Blessing, Stone Skin and Giant Lightning Bolt. Stone Skin in particular received a lot of new effects this week. This is an ability that can only be used when you play as the Parakaw Astromancer. It allows you to cast it on yourself, in turn increasing your Resilience for three turns, in which you take less damage from enemies.

We then went onto create some brand new visual fx for the following abilities:

  • Arcane Burst: A starting ability of the Parakaw, this allows you to choose a specific target before dealing Arcane Damage to it, as well as to all enemies within a 1 tile radius from the target.
  • Teleport: Another Parakaw skill, this allows the player to teleport to a chosen, unoccupied tile in the room you’re in, which is very useful during battle.
  • Sub Zero: Used by the Parakaw and Zentragal, Sub Zero deals Frost Damage to three targets of your choosing – so choose wisely!

The VFX for Spinning Kick, which you may remember from last week’s devlog, was also refined this week by way of adding some dust clouds. We also made some visual fx for Leap, a skill that allows players to jump from three tiles away without getting disturbed by enemies, and Leaping Strike, which is used by the Watertarg and Twilight Elf Assassin, who will jump one tile before dealing Physical Damage to an adjacent enemy.

Sound Design

As we mentioned earlier, we welcomed a new member to our team this week – so we’d like you all to give a shout out to our new Sound Artist! This means that we’ll now be able to develop the sonic landscape of Depths of Erendorn, using sound design to breathe life into our visual effects, environment designs and character identities.

After getting into the swing of things by creating some workflows and schedules, they began working on some first draft sounds for several spells, like Ice Storm and Drain Life, as well as for some generic skills, like Spinning Kick, Impair and Fast Healing. Cripple was also worked on this week, and while it’s already pretty gruesome, we’re thinking of making it even darker! As you know, our VFX Artist has been tirelessly working on the VFX for these very same abilities, so we’re excited to finally be able to hear the awesome sound effects that will go along with them!

In between working on these sound effects, our Sound Artist spent some time planning out character-specific sonic identities, so that each of their characteristics is exemplified through sound. To do this, they’re reading through the lore that’s been written about specific character races, which will help to inform their unique sonic identities going forward. This side of sound design is crucial because it gives the player a feeling that their character is separate from the rest, and helps to build immersion into the game.

Programming

As we created the Game Server Connector last week and are able to connect to games using it, this week has been about creating functions for unpacking server messages about the state of the game and being able to convert those messages to data types usable within the game.

This currently includes, but is not limited to:

  • The game state;
  • Rooms;
  • Votes; 
  • Events.

Some work also had to be carried out in regard to debugging the connection process, as well as cleaning up some commands for use in the server. Included in this work is:

  • Adjusting how levels and events are serialised.
  • Adding a simple Lerp function.
  • Fixing Enemy Entity Data being lost from the room data.
  • Updating Set Piece code to reflect asset names being added to set pieces.
  • Reviewing company code security and backup processes.
These are the sound effects that will go alongside the VFX for Ice Storm.

That concludes this week’s devlog! We hope you enjoyed seeing (and hearing!) what all of our team members have been up to on Depths of Erendorn. We’ll see you next week!