Weekly DevLog: New Portal VFX & Sounds for Bubbling Cauldrons!

Development
April 13, 2021
November 18, 2021

This week’s game development update includes bubbling cauldron sound effects, a look at some new portal VFX, and the latest screenshots of our settlement. We’ve also begun working on a new projectile system, so read to the end if you want to hear more about that! As always, join us on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn - now let’s get into it!

Animation

Last week, our Animator continued with snake implementation using the Dragon IK System in UE4, this time testing some changes to the rig to see which was the easiest to animate and implement.

Dragon IK was also implemented for the Zentragal, spider, and scorpion. We had a funny issue crop up that would cause the feet of characters to stick to the weapons, but with our Programmer’s help this was soon fixed. Our Animator then made sure to update the IK settings for each player so that it doesn’t happen again!

Snake using Dragon IK system
Spider using Dragon IK system

Environment Design

Work on the Settlement

More work was carried out on the settlement last week, starting with some optimisations that involved merging many of the same meshes into instanced groups. Our Artists also continued set dressing the housing areas and various other parts of the settlement - here are the latest screenshots!

Another exciting addition that was made to the settlement last week was the implementation of portal VFX! While the portal was made many moons ago, the visuals are the recent work of our VFX Artist - you’ll see some behind-the-scenes of the creation process further down! For now, here’s how it all looks in the settlement:

World Environment

While working on improving the world environment last week, our Environment Artist decided to create a new cliff generator in Houdini. They then improved the ground texture resolution before UVing and baking the first cliff output. They’re currently studying some optimisation techniques that are used in other AAA titles made in UE4, so here’s a look at the new cliff work!

Visual FX

So, as we mentioned earlier, part of our VFX Artist’s week was spent creating a new idle effect for the portal in the settlement. They decided to go with this unscrolling blue mist effect, with particles scattered around it to create an atmosphere of magic and fantasy. Players will be able to use these portals to travel long distances in the game, be that another settlement or a distant dungeon. Check out the VFX in action!

In addition to the portal, our VFX Artist also started work on level 2 skills for characters, including Evade, Jump, Roundhouse Kick, and Run. Here’s how they’re looking so far:

'Evade'
'Jump'
'Roundhouse Kick'
'Run'

Sound Design

Our Sound Artist was working in the engine a lot last week, spatialising and mixing the ambient sounds for the Merchant Tent. This is where you’ll find all the various shops, like the blacksmith’s or the potion dealer’s. We decided to keep the ambient sounds quite mystical and sonorous - take a listen:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/bandicam-2021-04-07-10-51-15-860.mp4

When our Sound Artist was implementing these, they came across a few occlusion and attenuation issues, which they’ve since worked around. They did this by including a trigger area that lets the game know when to start and stop playing certain sounds, based on when characters cross given thresholds. This will be something we can implement with all sounds inside buildings so that the noises from outside can’t be heard.

In addition to settlement ambience, our Sound Artist also recorded some morning ambience last week. This will go into the game when we have night/day transitions, but here’s how they’re sounding so far:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Morning-Ambience-01.wav

Morning ambience draft 1

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Morning-Ambience-02.wav

Morning ambience draft 1

It wasn’t just ambient sounds that were created last week. Sound effects were also reworked for the cauldron, which originally sounded a little too bubbly compared to the visuals. We still love the original SFX so we haven’t discarded them - consider them on hold for any future assets that require lots of bubbliness! Here’s a before and after:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/bandicam-2021-04-07-11-09-41-575.mp4

The original cauldron sound effects

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/bandicam-2021-04-09-16-13-20-548.mp4

The new cauldron sound effects

Programming

For our Programmers, last week was focused on improving character movement in dungeons. With this, sprint animations and tweaks to pathing were implemented, and a much needed update was made to the game's collision profiles. Here’s a closer look at the work our Programmers did:

  • Movement Calculation: Refactored classes that handle character movement to be more readable and focus on making use of individual character speeds
  • Global Speed Multiplier: Created a console command to allow character movement speeds to be set when testing
  • Collision Profiles: Created a number of Collision Presets that define how certain types of objects interact with each other in Unreal Engine. Object types have been created for characters, weapons, exterior and interior walls, as well as terrain
  • IK Weapon Bug: As we mentioned in our Animation section, our Programmers fixed a bug that was preventing movement from animating correctly. Feet IKs are now calculated according to specific object types that we can define
  • Sprint Animations: Movement animations in-game have been updated to use character sprint animations
  • Movement Smoothing: As a result of the newly added collision channels, movement has been made a lot smoother. As a result, it now better matches the environment a character is traversing
  • Camera Collision: The updated collision settings of the project also paved the way to camera improvements. The cameras can no longer pass through exterior walls of a given map, but can still move freely through interior walls. The camera also now collides with the ceiling and floor. These additions are a big improvement to how it feels to navigate a dungeon!

Golang Server

In other exciting news, the Golang team has now begun working on creating projectiles! Since the Golang Server has the advantage of being able to run simultaneous threads, it means that we can achieve some nice quality-of-life changes, projectiles being our first.

This means that, on your turn, you can cast a skill, like Fireball, and it won't deal Damage until the ball actually lands at its destination, even if your allies are moving around and casting their own spells at the same time.

Meanwhile, in the current system, everything is queued up. For example, Player A could attack an enemy, with the animation still playing for it. While this will be enough to kill the enemy, player B would see that the enemy isn't dead, and so would cast their own spell. This can't play through on the current server until the first ability from player A has finished, meaning that player B's ability is wasted on an already dead enemy - big issue!

Now, with the projectile system and Golang able to run concurrently, players can cast spells at the same time, meaning that teammates can communicate their strategy better and even perform some previously impossible tricky combos - like teleporting enemies into the path of oncoming projectiles!

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

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