It’s been another busy week of character design, asset creation, sound artistry and programming at Project Gamechanger, and the team is definitely ready to kick off the weekend. Let us know what you think over on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit – now let’s get into it! 

3D Modelling

Our 3D Character Artist worked on a couple of models this week. The first was the Earthen Dwarf Merchant, a character that you can interact with in the game to trade treasure, trinkets and troves with. 

The actual model for this NPC was built on the base used for the Earthen Dwarf Civilian, which made up the underlying mesh of the Merchant model. This meant that all our artist had to do was add the Merchant’s accessories, including his cape and all of his bags.  

The next model that was worked on was the Storm Elf Javelineer, a formidable enemy in Depths of Erendorn. As their name suggests, these opponents will be equipped with lightning-charged javelins, as well as possessing all of the usual powers of the Storm Elves

Aside from their javelins, this character class can be distinguished from the rest of the race by their unique armour design, which went through a few iterations:

  • We made the length of the armoured surcoat a little shorter than the original concept.
  • This was so that it was closer to real-life examples, and so that it would look more functional.
  • The shorter surcoat also helps to convey a more agile, streamline look to the Javilneer.

For now, we’ve finished blocking out the pieces in ZBrush and have begun detailing everything. As with the Merchant, the base for this character already existed, so it’s just a matter of creating all of the armour and clothing pieces. 

Animation

A lot of run cycles were created this week for playable characters, including the Knight, Earthen Dwarf, Twilight Elf Assassin, Watertarg, Zentragal, Forest Druid and Parakaw. All of these were then imported into the engine and had their animation blends updated.

Our Animator then prepared some bipedal enemies for the engine, and we are now in the process of importing all of them. This includes the Zombie, Unproven Lionman and Bandit. This work will continue until all of our characters and their respective animations are up and running in the game. 

Environment Art

Our Junior Environment Artist kicked off this week by creating some rune decals that we can decorate multiple assets with. Decals simply project images onto surfaces, eliminating the need to create meshes for said images. This makes our life a lot easier when it comes to texturing certain props as it means we won’t have to create the runes individually – instead, we can simply reuse the rune decals in different combinations. 

When working on these decals, our artist added a basic way to add colour to the runes. However, the outcome of this method doesn’t look as good as the original rune sculpts, so they’re going to be working on this further in the coming days. 

Moving on, after our Concept Artist created some awesome designs for tombstones and urns, our Junior Environment Artist sunk their teeth into creating and implementing these assets:

  • As always, these props were sculpted in ZBrush and textured in Substance Painter before being implemented into a UE4 test scene.
  • Each tombstone and urn was given a weathered stone texture, and was then detailed with cracks and fissures to age them even further.
  • Texture materials like dirt and moss were used sparingly because we will vertex paint these on in the engine so that assets don’t look too similar. 

In the game, these assets will appear as both intact and destroyed pieces. So, once the tombstones and urns were sculpted, our artist could begin working on the destroyed and decayed versions of them:

  • To make the destroyed tombstones, the original meshes were split up. 
  • This saved time as it meant we didn’t need to create them from scratch. 
  • Then, where the meshes were split, we added a simple stone material.
  • Decals of cracked stone were also created to add further damage to these props.

Also worked on in the Environment Art department this week was some rubble for our dungeons. The creation process for this started with our Environment Artist texturing 40+ rocks in Substance Designer. They then researched rubble workflows and how to create base tiling texture for ‘mounds.’ 

We suffered a small setback during this process, where some of the individual rocks we textured had UVs that were squashed and distorted. So, after redoing the UVs for all of the rocks, and retexturing them, too, we could finally begin sourcing a base material for rubble mounds. This will need some tweaking before we get it exactly right, but for now we’re really happy with the results! 

Visual FX

This week, our VFX Artist continued making adjustments to some of the ability effects in the engine. This is for the purpose of getting all the visuals performing well when the game is played. 

In addition to this, our artist also spent some time testing unique effects with the new node system our Programmers made last month for projectiles and abilities. If you missed it, check out our game devlog from May where we talked all about the Projectile Custom Stepper and how it works. But in a nutshell:

  • Projectile Custom Steppers allow us to implement a series of VFX and SFX that are triggered one after the other from when the player casts an ability.
  • The projectile is defined by three phases: the launch, travel and impact phase. Each one triggers a specific asset, i.e. a visual effect and/or sound effect.

Things are going smoothly with this system so far, with our Visual FX Artist testing out a few different visuals that are used with projectiles. Once they’ve got the hang of it, this will be a really efficient way of defining and handling projectiles in the game. 

Sound Design 

Bird sounds were worked on this week for the Brown Eagle and Silver Hawk, two low-level enemies from Depths of Erendorn. While our Sound Artist is happy with the Hawk’s draft sounds, they have described the Brown Eagle as sounding like “some mechanical half-robot bird,” and so will be making some tweaks to that in the near future!

When it came to the Hawk, real-life recordings were used and manipulated slightly to create the vocalisations. But the real fun came in when working on this creature’s attack sounds. The slicing sounds that would be made by a Hawk’s small, yet sharp talons were replicated with knives, which were dragged against each other to create the metallic effect. 

As well as this, Borax was mixed with some water to create a slimy goo. Our Sound Artist then had a lot of fun ripping, tearing, squelching and splatting this slime in order to create the draft sounds for the Silver Hawk’s wounding attacks. This actually worked really well – give it a listen below! 

These are the draft sounds for the Silver Hawk’s attack.
These are the draft sounds for the Silver Hawk’s hit reaction.
These are the draft sounds for the Silver Hawk’s death.

Programming

Generic Skills and Spell Templates

This week has been about working through previously created templates for skills and spells, looking at their makeup as well as testing their functions and improving the system so that it is capable of what we’re asking of it. Regarding this:

  • Single VFX and Projectile VFX Steppers now have a default decay time and options for setting a specific decay time in templates.
  • Sockets were causing issues where characters had no skeletal mesh. To resolve this, a ‘Pseudo-Socket’ has been added to enemies to allow us to get a closer representation of what happens when a spell is cast before their skeletons are implemented.
  • We updated the way that some templates target entities and tiles when attempting to get a context target from different types of logs.

Walls in the Game

Our Programmers also spent this week replacing the internal wall mesh and placeholders with the authored pieces that our Environment Artist has been working on. They then:

  • Adjusted the placement and scaling of the new internal wall assets in order to get the desired effect, as well as to stop them from floating just above the floor, which was happening in some cases.
  • Exterior wall placement was also bug fixed and upgraded. Walls are now very high and stacked, with the second stack having greater freedom to be offset in order to create more interesting shapes.
Internal wall meshes in the engine were replaced with authored pieces this week.

Today, the rooms’ ceilings will be added in ready for the playtest later on. It’s great to see the walls and their assets come together in this way – it won’t be long until we can really start building up the environment of Erendorn!