Weekly DevLog: Creating VFX & Sound FX for Elemental Wisps

Development
March 1, 2021
November 18, 2021

The highlights of this week’s devlog are the enemies known as Elemental Wisps, which received new visuals and sound effects. We’ve also created a blacksmith forge for the settlement’s merchant tent, concepted some dungeon entrance VFX, and have begun setting up a combat system in the new server. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter or Reddit for daily updates on our online RPG, Depths of Erendorn - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

Kicking off this week’s devlog are some new weapons that our 3D Modeller made, including a spear, a two-handed axe, and a bow and arrow.

A simple shader was also added as a temporary solution for allowing clothes to change colour. We’ll be offering this feature so that players can customise their character. A more refined method will be worked on for the future, but for now the simple shader works well as a visual example:

Changing colour of clothing using simple shader
New weapons sculpted in ZBrush and textured in Substance Painter

Animation

Two new classes of Human Guards joined the Royal Guard in the engine last week, including the standard Guard and the Enforcer. Doing this involved going through the usual checklist - exporting skeletal meshes, editing skin weights, importing everything into the engine, and creating character blueprints.

Idle variations and poses were then worked on for each of the Guards. Once all this was done, we imported all the Human NPCs into the engine using the basic Unreal rig. This means that generic characters like guards, merchants and civilians will be able to use the NPC animation pack.

Next on our Animator’s to-do list was transferring the ‘big cat’ idle and walk animations onto the Savannah Wild Dog, and then adjusting them to fit. Two sitting idles were also added before everything was imported into the engine:

Environment Design

Set Piece Design

Our Junior Environment Artist was battling with the perils of no internet last week, but never fear! They still managed to create a graveyard set piece variant that’s filled with damaged tombstones. You’re gonna have to take our word on how cool this looks because we haven’t got a screenshot yet - but once it spawns in a dungeon, you’ll be the first to see!

Our Artist also started work on a blacksmith forge to go in the main tent in the settlement. In the future, there’ll also be variants of this forge in the dungeons in order to provide players with different buffs and opportunities.

Our favourite part of this set piece is how the embers have a subtle shifting effect, which makes it look like they're active. This will be getting worked on a bit more over the coming days, but check out the progress so far:

World Environment

A few optimisations were made to the world environment last week, starting with the settlement lighting, which was improved by removing unnecessary point lights. In addition to this:

  • We created a new terrain material that utilises Runtime Virtual Textures in order to achieve highly performant and convincing seam blends with intersecting assets
  • We set dressed the starter zone pathway with large cliff pieces and rubble to direct the players up towards the settlement

Visual FX

Last week, our VFX Artist began working on the four Elemental Wisps. If you follow us on socials, you’ll have already been introduced to this enemy type. As a recap, Elementals are enemies in the game that are made out of the pure material of Erendorn. This includes fire, earth, air and water.

Elementals appear in a range of sizes, from enormous entities that wield extreme power, to the tiny Wisps, which are the least powerful - but definitely not harmless! A body has now been created for each of the four Elemental Wisps, and we think they’re looking pretty damn cool:

Our VFX Artist also started working on concepts for a dungeon entrance. In Erendorn, the dungeon depths are filled with otherworldly treasures, creatures and magic, so we want their entrances to allude to this a little bit.

This led to our Artist thinking of different ways to display a portal that wasn’t too literal, but more in-keeping with a mist-wall that characters could walk through. Five dungeon entrance variations were created, each one inspired by something different:

This was based on a typical idea of a portal, just for reference
This was based on the concept of a mist-wall
This continued the idea of a mist-wall but with unfurling shrouds that spill out
The Northern Lights inspired this wall of glimmering colours
We also experimented with using a crystal that characters could touch to teleport inside

Sound Design

Quite a lot of sound effects were worked on last week. First off, settlement animals received some new vocalisations, including cows, pigs, chickens, sheep and goats. Our Sound Artist then created a sequence in their cues that plays silence in between their vocals so they don't make too much noise. This will be particularly important if there are multiple animals in one area.

Then, continuing on from the Elemental Wisps that were created in VFX, our Sound Artist worked on the sound fx for each of these little enemies. We wanted them to sound like a mixture of trapped angry spirits and uncontained, or uncontrolled energy, and we think our Artist did an awesome job at doing that. So far, they’ve created sounds for the Fire, Air and Water Wisps - listen to each of them below!

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wisp-Fire-Test-03.wav

Fire Elemental Wisp draft

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wisp-Air-Test-04.wav

Air Elemental Wisp draft

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Wisp-Water-Test-03.wav

Water Elemental Wisp draft

Programming

Last week, the Programming Department was focussed on researching and learning the workflow for creating cinematics using Unreal Engine's editor, Sequencer.

Sequencer allows us to non-linearly build and animate scenes using game assets and a variety of cinematic tools. Sequencer also provides a ton of practical tools, such as camera rig rails and cranes, that can be dynamically manipulated to direct a scene. This is in addition to a wide range of industry standard camera properties like focus, Film Back and lens settings.

Learning to apply Sequencer will be very useful in future development, not only for the creation of promotional materials but also due to its ability to create in-game cinematics.

View of the starting zone in the settlement

Golang Server

Work has now begun in earnest on the Golang server's combat system:

  • The framework for the combat system of the Golang server has been planned and written
  • The Ballot system (used for when the party votes on anything) has been created
  • Stat regeneration at the beginning of the turn has also been created. This can be anything from Health, Energy or Mana, up to Ancient Power for the Watertarg, Zeal for the Knight, and anything else we want to trigger at the beginning of a turn

That’s it for this week! See you in the monthly roundup - coming soon!

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