It’s been another busy one for the team here at Project Gamechanger, from armouring up our formidable Rhinogar to creating unique-sounding footsteps for character identity. As always, you can check out our daily updates over on Instagram, Twitter and Reddit – but for a more in-depth look at what goes on behind the scenes at Depths of Erendorn, keep on reading! 

3D Modelling

With the sculpt for the Rhinogar polished off last week, we finished retopologising it before moving onto modelling the armour. The Rhinogars are fierce and battle-hardened, their race known for its unrelenting grit in battles. Therefore, the armour is an important part of these characters’ design and should reflect their formidable, soldierly ways:

  • The illusion of heavy-plated armour was created to accentuate their brawny stature.
  • Spikes were added to several areas to make the armour appear more intimidating and harmful.
  • The Rhinogars’ most lethal weapons, their horns, were given prominence by the head armour.
  • With two holes, the head armour draws attention to these deadly horns and makes the image of the Rhinogar more threatening. 

As we went along, a few design elements were changed in order to give the armour more uniqueness. There was originally a waist cloth, for example, that was coloured a crimson red in the concepts – but it looked too similar to the Human Knight’s design, so we decided to change it to thigh armour instead, and this actually seemed to fit with their design and lore much better anyway. 

After all of this was done, we brought the modelled armour into ZBrush so that we could refine and sculpt all the little details. Our next step will be to check and refine the previously modelled armour meshes into better, low poly meshes as needed – so we’ll update you on that next week. 

Animation

After successfully updating our Forest Druid’s rig, mesh and skin weights in last week’s devlog, we were able to finish transferring all of her first set of animations onto the new main rig that all bipedal characters now use. We then centred the rig to better fit the Druid’s mesh before going back in to adjust skinning weights on the face and coat. 

Our Animator then worked on adjusting the main rig to fit the Parakaw’s mesh: 

  • We made a few changes for the new mesh. 
  • This included deleting some faces inside the mesh. 
  • As a result, the skinning will be much cleaner.
  • This is because it will not need too much weight-painting.

The first set of animations for the Parakaw are now in the process of being transferred onto the new rig. Soon, this character will be ready to be exported to the engine where we can test its animations alongside the new rig setup, as well as some sneaky little VFX tests, which are always fun. 

Environment Art

More pre-production work was carried out in the Environment Department this week as we continue designing concepts for cave set pieces. After moodboarding some ideas last week, our artist gathered some necessary reference material and information that will help to inform the 3D creation process of these set pieces, the ideas for which have been grouped into five different categories:

  • Stalagmites: We loved the effect the stalagmites gave in one of our previous environment tests, and intend on using these in a few of our caves and dungeons.
  • Natural Marvels: These include naturally forming features like underwater passageways or luminous, subterranean pools, which will reinforce the fantasy elements of our environments.
  • Crystals: As you know, we are big lovers of crystals and will be incorporating these in many different structures, from small clusters to huge walls formed by generations of crystal growth. 
  • Flowstones: We are in love with the aesthetic of flowstones, and think they will add a really unique design element to our caves.
  • Water: Various bodies of water will be used within our caves and dungeons. We are particularly fond of the idea of hidden lagoons, where the cave’s natural architecture arches above them.

We’ve begun the creation of these set pieces by tackling the flowstones first. Our artist initially started by blocking out the major forms in MAYA so that they could achieve the right scale and general shape. Now, things have been moved to ZBrush for sculpting, and this will continue into next week.

Visual FX

This week, a lot of visual effects were worked on for the Parakaw Astromancer’s abilities. This is a playable character in the game, and belongs to one of the most intelligent spellcasting races in Erendorn. Some of the abilities we started creating VFX for include:

  • Healing Nova: This can be used to restore health to all team members, which will definitely come in handy when faced with higher level opponents.
  • Lifeblood: This will restore a small amount of the Parakaw’s health for three turns in a row, as well as granting a burst of Mana on the third turn.
  • Mana Rush: This actually transforms Energy into Mana, enabling you, in those desperate moments, to use special abilities and spells that cost Mana.
  • Birds of Prey: This spell deals damage to an enemy every turn for between 2 and 5 turns. Incremental damage like this can really help turn the tables in battle.

Sound Design

Our Sound Artist has continued their efforts towards creating a distinct sonic identity for every character this week, and they have done this by focussing on arguably one of the most integral yet underrated sound effects in games: footsteps! 

Footsteps are the most listened-to sounds in a game because you hear them at pretty much every second – unless your character can fly, of course. For this reason, they really help to mold the sonic identity of a character by giving clues about its identity. This is why our Sound Artist has been really focussing on trying to give each character class distinct footsteps. For example:

  • The Parakaw Astromancer needs to sound like its talons are scraping the floor.
  • The Twilight Elf Assassin needs to be sleek and quiet since these are stealthy characters.
  • The Human Knight, on the other hand, should sound heavy and forceful because of its armour.

This demonstrates how the sound of footsteps helps to subconsciously reinforce elements of a character’s identity, as well as helping the player to feel that their chosen character is unique from the rest. The next step after our artist has created a “base” sound for the footsteps will be to consider how the footsteps of different characters will sound on different terrains, from rocks and grass to water and forests. Using sound design in this way really pushes the realism, and thereby immersion of the game.

When they weren’t working on footsteps, our Sound Artist has been developing the sound fx for the Twilight Elf Assassin’s abilities, such as Throatcutter, Blindside and Voidshadow. As with footsteps, each ability needs to sound separate not only from other characters’ abilities, but also from the abilities within the same character’s arsenal. At the same time, abilities from the same class need to have a sense of cohesion among them so that they are indicative of their specific character, so we’re excited to hear how all of this is taking shape for the Twilight Elf Assassin. 

This is the draft sound for Throatcutter, an ability used by the Twilight Elf Assassin. This causes any enemy that is adjacent to the Assassin, and has lower than 20% Health, to die.

Programming

This week, our Programmers designed and implemented a manager-based behaviour pattern for handling the many facets of gameplay. By having an array of manager classes, each created for their own purpose, we’re able to delegate and handle functions between them and allow relevant objects to be updated accordingly. These manager classes include:

  • Room Manager: Handles all data and representation of the environment.
  • Turn Manager: Responsible for keeping track of and managing player turns.
  • Ballot Manager: Deals with any pending rerolls or votes.
  • Status Effects Manager: Controls access and storage of Status Effects. It also has helper functions and events which fire off when the class is used.
  • Entity Manager: Manages access and storage of entities, as well as holds the teams and entities in the individual levels.
  • Game Events Manager: Tracks ongoing events and storage, as well as fires off events when a new event is added, when a new event starts and when an event completes itself. 

Before creating the Status Effect Manager, our Programmers created a class that will store the status effects that exist within the game. These objects will then be displayed as buffs/debuffs on a player’s character. After this class was created, it was then integrated into the Status Effects Manager.

These manager classes all have aspects that are linked with the player’s gameplay UI, and so the links have been created to allow this for the following:

  • Team Portrait Panel: Listens to the Entity Manager for changes in the team.
  • Ballot Panel: Listens to the Ballot Manager and displays newly pending ballots.
  • Ability Bar, Target Portrait and Stat Panel: Listens for targeted entities.
  • Turn Display: Listens to the Turn Manager and updates turn time and order.
This is the draft sound for Blindside, an ability used by the Twilight Elf Assassin. This can be used when attacking enemies from the side or from behind, and always deals critical damage.
This is the draft sound for Voidshadow, an ability used by the Twilight Elf Assassin. This activates stealth, making you unable to move but also untargetable by enemies.

That’s it for this week’s devlog! We hope you’ve enjoyed all the updates from our team. Let us know what you think or if you have any questions, and as always, we’ll see you next week!