April DevLog | Week #4

Development
April 26, 2019
November 18, 2021

A lot of new things have been added to Depths of Erendorn in this week’s game devlog, from character animations to assets and items. But we do have one piece of sad news: our Character Artist is on a well-deserved holiday this week, so we’ve put a pause on their section until next week. In the meantime, let’s jump straight into what our Animator has been getting up to!

Animation

After updating its rig with weapon joints last week, our Animator could finally export the Zentragal animations to Unity. While this character and its animations are not finished at this stage, they were brought into Unity so that they can be tested in the game. This will allow us to see how they will work and move in Depths of Erendorn, as well as tell us which animations need to be worked on or fixed.

In this week’s game devlog, animations were also created for the Watertarg. This character is both playable in Depths of Erendorn and an enemy that you can encounter. The following animations were made for it:

  • Basic Idle
  • Combat Idle
  • Stun Animation
  • Drink Animation
  • Punch Animation

The only issues that popped up in animation this week were some skinning problems with the Zentragal before it was sent to Unity. Our Animator discovered that there were some mesh weight skinning issues caused by the previous rigging update carried out in last week’s game devlog. To fix its skinning, some weights had to be painted. Everything is now working as it should be and we can’t wait to show you how awesome this character looks in the dungeons!

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/watertarg-idels.mp4

Environment Art

A lot of new additions have been added to the game this week in order to improve the overall look of the environment. These include new assets and variable custom shaders, but first we want to talk about how our Environment Artist used the new VFX system in Unity to create fires in our treacherous dungeons.

VFX Particle Systems: Fire

To create fire effects, our artist wanted to explore Unity’s new VFX particle system. It was a little confusing at first because of all the new options and nodes. With very little information available, it was really just a matter of trying things out to see what they did.

The main principle with Unity’s new system is to work in layers. For example, our fire has three layers: flames, sparks and smoke. While these layers can all be contained within one graph, they should each be approached individually. The main method our artist employed when creating the fire effect was using alpha blended sprite sheets. These are a series of images (usually 6x6 or 8x8) which “Flipbook” animate. This method is a really performance-friendly way of creating some convincing looking flames and smoke.

Assets: Fire Torches and Barrels

Fire torches were also added to the game this week. Once our artist had modelled, baked and textured the prop, they brought it into Unity and created a prefab hierarchy that contained the torch, fire VFX and point light. These prefabs can now be used easily throughout the environment scene. Finally, barrel assets have also been added to the game.

Custom Shaders

Three variable custom shaders have been added to the game this week. These were added to the game in order to streamline art development, as well as to offer visual customisation and optimisation:

  • Opaque Master
  • Character Master
  • Opacity Master
Screenshot from Unity showing a fire torch getting made
Once the fire torch had been modelled, baked and textured, it was brought into Unity where a prefab hierarchy was created.
GIF of a 3D fire torch in a rocky cave, created in Unity
Our fire effect was created with the use of Unity's new VFX particle system
A 3D model of a wooden barrel against a black background
Barrels were also added to the dungeon environment in this week's game devlog.

Server and Game Client

With a new team member on board, a lot of work was carried out in the server and game client this week, starting with Game Lobbies. The Lobby system created last week has now been significantly reworked on both the server and the client. This has meant that players cannot leave the lobby once the game has started or is starting. It also means that players cannot join a lobby that’s already in progress. The exception to this is if they are just rejoining a game in progress.

In the game server, character information is now stored when you select your character. This information is usually kept in the memory before being passed to the game server when a game is created. More work will be done in this area to make the server runs faster when starting new games.

Dungeons

In this game devlog, quite a bit of work was focussed on ensuring that the dungeon rooms function correctly. Item Rewards, for example, now factor in the XP/Room variance so that, if you find yourself in a difficult dungeon room, your loot will be better. Before this, it used the base room XP as the control instead of the base XP and XP variance, like it does now.

As well as this, the server now passes the character information to the game server when it is starting the game. This prevents the game server having to retrieve that information from the database - or at least it will do after a little more work is done. The game server now also tracks lobby ID's so that, once more work has been carried out, it will be able to tell the settlement server what loot/experience was gained in that session.

The final piece of work carried out to bring our dungeon rooms up to scratch was to ensure a decent level of item variation. Another 24000 items were generated for the Misc slots this week, including things like books, orbs and trinkets. These help to diversify what items are shown in the dungeons.

Unity screenshot showing a Zentragal character attacking a centaur with a spear in a cave dungeon room
Our Animator added weapon joints to the Zentragal's rig (left) before it was exported to Unity.

Thanks for joining us in this week's game devlog! If you want to learn more about Depths of Erendorn, there's tons of information on our website for you to look through. Remember to head over to our company site if you want to see what we've been up to all month!

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