Welcome back to another devlog, everyone! We hope you enjoy what we have to share with you this week. Remember to follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on our fantasy RPG in development – now let’s get into the good stuff.

Character Customisation System

Continuing with our work on developing a character customisation system, this week our 3D Artist created a simple interface for testing it with. Included in this interface is a list that allows us to select different meshes, which we’ll use to swap out different clothing and equipment items, and sliders, which we’ll use to change body proportions. 

Speaking of body proportions, this is another element of a character that players will be able to customise. Unlike clothing customisation, which uses a modular pawn system, body proportions will be able to change using bone scaling and sliders:

  • We first created a system for deforming the body. This system works by scaling, translating and rotating skeletal bones.
  • The reason why bones are used for body deformation is because bones are able to influence any mesh skinned to them. 
  • This means that any changes that are made to the character’s base mesh, for example, would affect the equipment for that section as well. 

Once our 3D Artist had figured this all out, they tested the system by going through any possible changes that could be made – from scaling and translating, to rotation or even a combination of all of them. They then also tested how the system dealt with editing several bones at once, as well as editing single bones. We did this so that we could check the versatility of the system – and it seems pretty flexible so far!

When we were testing this all out, the meshes we were originally using had not been skinned with this new system in mind. This led to some odd quirks, like inflated trousers – but once our Animator made some changes to the mesh skinning on the test model’s upper and lower body, we got much better results! These will help to inform our 3D Artist on how to approach equipment creation for characters in the future, so that will be one of the next things we’ll work on. 

This is the very first test for deformation bones, using extremes to test both the UI and the system

Animation

Whilst our 3D Modeller cracked on with the character customisation system, the rest of the team carried on using the Action System – and if you want more information about what this is, check out a previous devlog where we go into all the juicy details. 

Using the Action System, our Animator continued their work on Animation Controllers. In addition to creating them for the Watertarg, Earthen Dwarf and Human last week, they’ve now also begun setting up the foundations for a few more characters:

When working on the Zentragal, our Animator had to wrap their head around how blueprint functions worked using different skeletal meshes. This is because the Zentragal, a humanoid spider, is different to our other bipedal characters, and so the process required a bit more fiddling around with. 

In between all this, our Animator fixed some small issues that were occurring, and made some updates for other characters in the engine. Once all the characters have Controllers set up, we will be able to handle their animations and respective transitions much more effectively, and will soon be able to add VFX and sound effects to them as well. 

This is a test we did for the character customisation system, where we used sliders to make the upper body thinner and thicker.

Environment Art

After spending a lot of time over the last few weeks creating an awesome rock generator, this week our Environment Artist moved their attention to creating a Houdini crack generator. This will help us to add unique and organic cracks to generated rocks so that they appear more natural and have some variation between them all. 

New Houdini noise generators were also created this week, and these will be used to make rocky formations for the game’s cave dungeons. We’re currently working on a new smart material for cliff rocks, which will also appear inside our dungeons and continue to add visually diverse and interesting elements to the environment.  

Visual FX

Not a lot of effect creation went on this week, unfortunately, but we have a good reason! Our VFX Artist has been tied up in the engine, where they’ve been working with our Sound Artist and Animator to set up abilities using the infamous Action System:

  • Tweaked and reworked a few VFX to function better with their respective animations
  • Added visual fx onto abilities that had animation and sound implemented
  • Created a few new blueprints for abilities and added visual effects onto them

We’re now nearing a point where animations, sound effects and VFX will be up and running for most playable characters in the game. Soon, we’ll be able to see all of these in action when we test the next build, so we’re really excited for that to happen. 

Sound Design

Our Sound Artist carried on working on the Earthen Dwarf abilities this week. In addition to giving them an earthy sound that was evocative of their underground settlement, which we went into last week, our Artist also wanted to add a bit of runic mysticism to their sound design:

  • While Earthen Dwarves are a mining race known for their robustness and brawn, they also possess some remarkable powers.
  • We wanted to highlight this aspect of their identity by introducing some magical whooshes to their otherwise earthen sound design. 
  • This is shown in the ability ‘Smite,’ as well as ‘Stone Blood’ which combines sounds of crumbling rock and mystical echoes.  
  • Some hard impact sounds were also created for this playable character’s abilities in order to emphasise their innate strength. 

We’re really happy with the outcome of the draft sounds of this character’s abilities, so make sure you give them a listen below. Sound effects for different weapons in the game were also worked on this week, with our Sound Artist’s aim being to give each one a unique sound. So far, they’ve done this with the one-handed sword, and will move on to other weapons in the next few days. 

Speaking of weapons, our Sound Artist had a discussion with one of our Programmers on how to best implement weapon sounds into the game. So that a character doesn’t always make the same set of attack sounds, we’ve made it so that their sounds will change according to the items they have.

As well as all this, more implementation was carried out this week with, you guessed it, the Action System. Rather than implementing multiple characters’ Sound Profiles like they did last week, our Sound Artist was instead working with projectiles, figuring out how to properly set up the sequences of them inside Blueprints. 

These are the draft sounds for the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Smite’ ability.
These are the draft sounds for the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Stone Blood’ ability.

Programming

Following a playtest of the game’s current build, a lot of this week has been about fixing gameplay bugs that occurred during the session. One of the main bugs was that a targeted enemy wouldn’t show up in the target portrait when selected. After our Programmers fixed this, they went on to make a few improvements to targeting in general:

  • They added a highlight ring to team portraits in order to denote when a team member is selected.
  • They added a target widget to allow players to see who a targeted enemy is intending to attack.
  • They added the ability for aggressive enemies to update and display their targets as moves are made in the room. 
  • Doing this gives players an element of foresight, allowing them to read the room better and figure out strategies.

The camera in the game was also worked on this week, with two extra ‘follow camera’ options being created. Previously, the camera would either move to a new turn player, or it would only move when players moved – and, sometimes, it wouldn’t move at all. Our Programmers have now added the ability to have the camera follow movements only, or to display new turns only. 

These are the draft sounds for the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Magnetic Blood’ ability.
These are the draft sounds for the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Shattering Blow’ ability.

A lot of time this week has also been focussed around continuing to replace internal walls – but this time, after learning from past mistakes, we’re using a different method. As a result, replacing internal walls now functions correctly:

  • The new method works by making a map of how deep the wall tile is. 
  • We can then use this to replace the deepest walls with large assets, like large boulders.
  • This process will be repeated until all necessary wall tiles have been replaced.
  • In the future, we’ll create pools of different sized objects to fill these empty wall tiles with. 
  • When doing this, we will use different variations of assets so that all internal walls look unique.

While our Programmers were doing this, a bug occurred where not all walls were being correctly replaced – and, when they were, only one method was able to be used. Now, all walls are replaced properly and we have two methods we can use to do this. We also experienced an issue where internal walls were leaving holes in the floor. On internal walls that had missing map data inside them, the map data is generated and passed to the floor mesh generator to be included. This way, we no longer have holes in the middle of the room where walls are supposed to be.

These are the draft sounds for the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Precise Strike’ ability.

The remaining time this week was spent planning environment upgrades and talking with the rest of the team to create a plan of action to take Depths of Erendorn’s environment to the next level. All of this work will hopefully lead to a better gameplay experience when the next testing session arrives.