April Devlog | Week #1 | No. 122

Development
April 6, 2021
January 13, 2022

Highlights in this week’s Depths of Erendorn update include a lineup of some animated beasts and creepy crawlies, a look at the new stalls in the marketplace, and some sample sound effects for the blacksmith area of the settlement! As always, join us on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on our online RPG in development - now let’s get into it!

Animation

Kicking things off with animation, a lot more variation was added to the engine last week, namely new NPC blueprints and skeletal meshes for:

  • Spiders
  • Canines
  • Felines
  • Scorpions

Our Animator also worked on snake implementation using the Dragon IK System in UE4. To do this, the rig hierarchy was edited in order to fit the Dragon IK better, though a lot of the work will involve a bit of trial-and-error before we find the ideal settings.

Environment Design

Settlement Work

If you read our monthly devlog roundup, you’ll know that March was all about working on the settlement. Well, April is already following suit, with a ton of work having been done to the outside areas last week. This work includes set dressing building exteriors, watchtowers, and all of the stalls in the marketplace, such as:

  • A butcher stall
  • A crystal shop
  • An outerwear shop
  • A Bandit stall

We also optimised the scroll shop inside the Merchant Tent so that it has a few less scrolls in it - much to our artists’ collective disappointment. It still looks jam-packed and overflowing, though! Here’s a look at all the different shops and stalls:

World Environment

In addition to making the settlement all fancy, our Environment Design team gave some TLC to the game’s world environment. This involved one of our Artists revising the cliff material we were originally using. These revisions included:

  • Switching out the texture
  • Adding in some normal detailing
  • Adding broader colour variation

Our Environment Artist then started working on a cliff generator in Houdini for the first zone in the game, and researched methods of splitting terrain into optimised tiles.

Visual FX

Last week was mostly technical for our VFX Artist, who was preoccupied with finishing up placements and doing some trigger fixing. While they were doing this, they made sure to reference their VFX concept sketches, which were created earlier on in development.

Our VFX Artist says that they use these because it helps them to remember what they originally thought for each effect, so that they can maintain the feeling behind them.

In between all their technical work, our VFX Artist also found time to experiment with some alternative visual fx for dungeon entrances, just so that we can explore different shapes. Here’s a look at one such experiment:

Sound Design

For our Sound Artist, last week was about continuing the sound implementation for the settlement’s marketplace, spatialising the components, and setting up a series of actors to simulate a 3D environment as you walk through.

They also spent a lot of time recording new sounds for the blacksmith area of the settlement. This involved a lot of hisses, metal hits, scrapes, grunts, fires, and so on. These have now been implemented into the level and, though minor changes will still need to be made, they’re mostly finished!

https://depthsoferendorn.blob.core.windows.net/assets/Blacksmith-Example.wav

Blacksmith draft sounds

Our Sound Artist also re-mixed some of the previously implemented environment sounds, like torches, to have a better stereo spread in addition to a different radius of spatialisation. As a result, if you stand within 1m of the torches, they’re played in both ears at equal volumes; outside of this radius, they’ll pan between left and right, which should improve the overall mix as the sound won’t have to jump from one ear to the other as you run past, thus increasing immersion.

Our VFX Artist's concept sheet for visuals

Programming

Golang Server

Last week, our Programmers experienced some interesting issues when converting the ability effect blocks over to Golang. This meant they had to dedicate time to resolving a few of these issues. For example, the number of parameters that were being brought into the command was rather limited - but changing the number would also include changing how the database stores those effects.

We’re lucky because if we’re going to do something like this, now’s the best time to do it; seeing as we’re shortly going to be breaking everything anyway as we switch server languages, it doesn’t matter if it breaks. So the next few days will be dedicated to trying this out.

As well as this:

  • Shields and states (stunned/disarmed/etc) are now a thing that can be created and applied in the code
  • The ability to summon other entities in as minions is also now in the code
A look through the settlement's marketplace

The Replay System

For our Programmers, last week was also concerned with improving our new addition, the DoE Replay Controller, a.k.a. the Replay System, that we mentioned in our last devlog. Here are some of the Replay System improvements that were made:

  • Added the saving of replay information to replay files, which is displayed when selecting what to rewatch
  • Added playback controls to the Replay Controller to allow users to play/pause action. A 'Step forward one action' button was also added
  • Fixed a bug where certain Steppers were not given enough time to play out in Replay Mode

Other improvements made last week were focused on how character deaths are handled. Now, Character Animation Controllers trigger death animations, fade their UI, and persist in the environment. These were long awaited improvements, so we’re glad to get it all working!

That’s it for this week’s devlog - see you next Tuesday!

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