DevLog Roundup: Saying Goodbye to 2020

Development
December 30, 2020
November 18, 2021

As the New Year lurks around the corner, the team working on Depths of Erendorn are busy boxing off a few bits and bobs so that they can begin 2021 on the right foot! So, this week, we’re taking a look back at everything our hardworking devs worked on in December, from sculpting enormous, volcanic creatures and bringing character abilities to life, to recreating the game’s environment in Houdini and implementing the UI in UE4. As always, join us on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on our online fantasy game - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

Sculpting the Vaznarite in ZBrush

For our 3D Character Artist, December was all about sculpting the Vaznarite, a creature of epic proportions that you must battle in Depths of Erendorn. The Vaznarite is forged from the volcanic rock and fires of Mount Vaznar, making it a very high-level and formidable enemy.

We already had an awesome concept for this character, so the first thing our 3D Modeller did was translate this digital painting into a basic sculpt in ZBrush. From there, they refined and tweaked all the various components that make up the Vaznarite, from the rock plating that forms its body to the injurious spikes that run down its spine. Finishing this character will be an endeavor for 2021, so here’s how the sculpt is looking so far:

Animations, VFX & Sound for Character Abilities

Bringing the Assassin’s Spells to Life

We’ll admit that the Twilight Elf Assassin is one of our favourite playable characters in the game: it’s attuned to and can wield the dark powers of Void, and has spent its life training at the formidable Guild of Assassins in the secretive Twilight Elf settlement.

Assassins are light on their feet, swift with a blade, and adept at casting powerful spells. A lot of last month was spent on bringing some of these spells and abilities to life through animation, visual fx and sound. We’d already done this for a few of the Assassin’s lower level attacks, so our devs were more focussed on the higher level abilities, such as:

  • Sever: Allows the player to deal Physical Damage to the selected target. As well as this, each step the target takes after the initial attack will deal even more Physical Damage
  • Incapacitate: Not only does this allow the player to deal Physical Damage to a target, it also suppresses the target and reduces their Movement stat
  • Shadow Dagger: Allows the player to throw a dagger that deals Void Damage. The amount of Damage dealt increases by 10% for each tile the dagger is thrown over

Once animations were drafted for all of the above abilities, our VFX Artist began concepting some visuals that could work alongside them. They did this for all the powers above, plus a few others, and next year will use these as the basis for the final visual effects. Here’s a look at the concept sheet:

While our VFX Artist and Animator were working on higher level abilities for the Assassin, our Sound Artist was focussed on this character’s lower level attacks, which were still waiting for some sound effects to go with their awesome visuals. These spells and abilities include:

  • Imitate: Resets the cooldown of your last used abilities
  • Shade of Recuperation: Heals you over three turns
  • Shadow Assault: Allows you to teleport 3 tiles away and attack an enemy 3 times
  • Void Flicker: Teleports you to a random square within a 3 tile range

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/TwilightElf-Imitate-1.mp4

'Imitate'

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/TwilightElf-ShadeofRecuperation-1.mp4

'Shade of Recuperation'

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/TwilightElf-Shadow-Assault-1.mp4

'Shadow Assault'

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/TwilightElf-Void-Flicker-1.mp4

'Void Flicker'

New Animations, Visual FX & Sound Effects For the Dwarf

The Earthen Dwarf is another playable character in Depths of Erendorn that possesses a lot of strength, resilience, and powerful magic. A lot of this character’s lower level abilities already have animations, visuals and sounds attached to them, so it was just a matter of planning out its more powerful arsenal of skills and spells.

For our Animator, this work involved creating some generic animations for casting and channelling spells, which will later be applied to the Dwarf’s pre-existing abilities.

Next up, our VFX Artist created another concept sheet for future visual effects that will be used for the Earthen Dwarf’s remaining abilities. As with the Assassin’s VFX sheet, they extracted and created textures and shapes from the character’s concept, and then used these to essentially map out how they’re going to approach creating the final visuals:

Lastly, both our VFX Artist and Sound Artist made some tweaks to the Earthen Dwarf’s ‘Magic Chains’ ability, which allows the player to root an enemy for one turn. This proved to be a particularly finicky spell that went through many different iterations and refinements. Luckily, though, we managed to put it to bed before the holidays, and we’re loving how both the visuals and sound effects turned out:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Magic-Chains_4-1.mp4

'Magic Chains'

Environment Design

A lot of additions were brought into the environment last month, from a bandit camp, graveyard and walkable bridge, to a new landscape that was created with Houdini. There’s a lot to get through, so for a more in-depth look at what our Environment Artists got up to, check out our weekly devlogs from December - but here’s a quick overview anyway!

Set Dressing the Settlement in UE4

A lot of set-dressing work went into the game’s first settlement last month, from new wooden huts and archery ranges, to stone wells and various metal cages. Most excitingly, we added a brand new bridge that players will walk across as they travel from the starting zone to the first settlement - in fact, when you look at the screenshot below, you’ll notice the Guard House poking its head out in the horizon beyond the bridge!

Set Pieces for Dungeon Generation

Our Environment Artists didn’t only create new props and assets for the settlement, but also made some set pieces that can be used in dungeon generation. These included a lot of gravestones, clustered together to form a rather ominous graveyard, as well as a basic bandit camp. These will all be placed procedurally in the game - check out how it’s all looking so far:

Recreating the Landscape with Houdini

Another important development in the Environment department was recreating the current landscape with Houdini. After researching all the world-building wonders of Houdini, our lead Environment Artist began creating a landmass that will replace the terrain in the first settlement, and throughout the world in general.

They then had to figure out how to integrate the Houdini engine into UE4. Once this was done, a test terrain was integrated from Houdini into the engine to ensure everything was performing correctly. Another, more realistic terrain was then created and brought in, and it’s safe to say that this new landscape was really worth all the hard work. Check out the process below:

Sound Design

Sound Effects for the UI

With our Programmers busy implementing the game’s UI (more on that in a bit!), our Sound Artist began creating all the various sound effects that will be used with it. This work involved loads of fun and unique recording techniques so that we could get a variety of interesting sounds. From pushing bottles and vials underwater for various bubbling noises, to making a lot of splashing and splatting sounds on the surface of water, it’s safe to say that our Sound Artist had a lot of fun making these SFX!

Other sounds that are getting recorded for the game’s UI include coins clinking about in coin bags, and the sound of turning book pages and unravelling yoga matts and calendars, which will form the basis of things like scrolls, journals and quest logs.

Game World Ambience

For our Sound Artist, a lot of last month was focussed on creating game world ambience for Erendorn’s various caves and dungeon systems. Back in November, ambient sounds were made for Cave, Fire and Ice Dungeons, which are three of the four types of dungeons you will explore in the game. The last type, Jungle Dungeons, received their ambient sound in December, and it’s sounding pretty awesome:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Jungle-Cave_Short-1.wav

Ambient sound for Jungle Dungeons

The Ice Dungeons were also worked on a little bit last month, with a lot of dynamic elements being added to their sound design. This includes things like falling rock and cracking ice, which help to accentuate the cavernous and treacherous atmosphere of these icy depths. Our Sound Artist created these textural elements in a way that allows them to be easily removed from or added to the world ambience, giving us the variation to create a lot of different atmospheres.

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/SFX_AMB_IceCave_B_SHORT-1.wav

Ambient sound for Ice Dungeons

The last bit of ambient sound that was created in December was for rivers, which used both up-close recordings and distant recordings in order to give a nice spread of detail:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/SFX_River_A_SHORT-1.wav

Ambient sound for rivers

UI Implementation

Last month, our Programmers continued with UI implementation in UE4, with a focus on improving health bars and other display elements that appear above characters during gameplay; refining tooltip display details; and implementing combat logs and log books.

Additions to the UI include:

  • New health bar borders, one for enemies and another for team mates
  • New bar fill that utilises a UI material mask
  • Updated intention icon and glow for displaying potential enemy targets
  • Updated elite enemy rank icon

Improving Tooltips and Combat Logs

After the above additions were made, our Programmers then focussed on improving tooltip display details, and began implementing the combat log:

  • Ability Tooltip Data: The way ability information is stored and displayed during gameplay was updated so that players can use tooltips to easily read key properties, like resource cost, range, or whether line of sight is required. By having this information accessible to the Client, it also means we’ll be able to calculate potential targets, or communicate why an ability is currently unusable before the player has chosen its targets.
  • Combat Log: Work on the combat log was also begun, with methods for allowing different gameplay systems to communicate and categorise their events having been added. The combat log is an important feature of many RPGs and will allow players to check the details of combat as they occur.

Log Book Implementation

The Log Book was next on our Programmers’ list of things to implement into the UI, in addition to some visual improvements to the ability tooltips that we mentioned earlier:

  • A Log Book was added to function as a combat, chat and event log during gameplay. A message structure was also implemented to allow updates to be displayed to players in chronological order
  • Different text styles for character, ability and status names, as well as damage types, have now been applied for displayed messages
  • We also added the ability for logs to be added with tags so that filtering messages can be displayed
  • For Ability Tooltips, we added the ability to display healing/secondary resource stats and damage type using different text styles

That’s it from us! We’ll be back in the New Year with more updates on Depths of Erendorn - see you there!

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