Weekly DevLog: Skeletons, Travelling Alchemists & More VFX Updates

Development
February 8, 2021
November 18, 2021

Highlights in this week’s game devlog include three new classes of Skeletons, a travelling alchemist set piece, and some reworked VFX for abilities in the game. As well as all that you can expect updates from our Animation, Sound Design and Proramming departments. As always, follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

After updating the Skeleton base in last week’s devlog, our 3D Modeller retextured this creepy character whilst also creating two of its classes, including:

  • The Crumbling Skeleton: The next powerful class after the generic Skeleton, this character starts with high Strength, which it slowly loses over time
  • The Abyssal Skeleton: This is a four-armed Skeleton that’s also the second most powerful class of its race

The Crumbling Skeleton was created by deleting bits and pieces of the original Skeleton, giving it that deteriorated appearance. For the Abyssal Skeleton, the arm placement was figured out first before our Modeller moved onto reshaping the skull; we wanted to give this class a more demonic look, so horns were added. Check all three Skeletons below:

The original Skeleton base (left) vs. the new one
New Skeleton base
The Crumbling Skeleton
Figuring out the arm placements for the Abyssal Skeleton
Experimenting with different horn silhouettes
Sculpting the horns and skull for the Abyssal Skeleton
Adjusting the overall proportions
The textured Abyssal Skeleton
The Abyssal Skeleton next to the generic Skeleton

Animation

In our last devlog, you’ll remember that our 3D Modeller reworked the Earthen Dwarf base so that it looked a lot stockier. Our Animator has now bound the new meshes to the rig for the Earthen Dwarf Civilian, Miner and Elite Miner, with only a few small adjustments needed on skin weights.

The rig was then tweaked and the skeletal meshes exported. Since the existing Earthen Dwarf animations no longer fit the old rig, these were also all reexported. Check out the before and after of the Earthen Dwarf:

Environment Design

There were a lot of fixes made to props and set pieces last week, including candle flame meshes, which had a weird rotation towards the cameras when the parent mesh was rotated, and the pond set piece, which was missing some of its meshes.

Speaking of the pond, we’ve now also updated collision tiles, meaning that it can hopefully be packaged and used in dungeon generation! Once it's in, we’ll be able to tweak it to fit the individual dungeons.

Most excitingly, however, was the new travelling alchemist set piece that was created! This will be used throughout the world and dungeons, and includes a workstation set-up of various vials, potions and other doodads. The set piece also includes a campfire, wooden cart, and standing torch, among various other items.

While we’re on the topic of set pieces, our Environment Artists have also started creating a set piece master list. Over time, they will use this to come up with hundreds to thousands of set piece ideas for use all over the game. This will add a huge amount of variety and interest to our world’s environment. In addition to all this, new bushes and birch trees were created and implemented into the engine.

Visual FX

Last week, more pre-existing ability effects were reworked to have extra impact and glamour. Abilities worked on include:

  • Quickening Poison: Deals Nature Damage and grants the player increased Movement for one turn
  • Double Strike: Can only be used when 2 enemies are adjacent to the player, in which case it will deal Physical Damage to each
  • Shattering Blow: Deals Physical Damage to an adjacent enemy, and 25% more Physical Damage if that enemy is next to a wall
  • Savage Instinct: Deals Physical Damage to an adjacent enemy whilst restoring some Energy, Health and Mana to the player
  • Counter: When the next enemy hits you, you take 10% less damage and can attack back for free, i.e. without losing any Energy

Our VFX Artist is particularly pleased with the updates made to ‘Double Strike.’ This was one of the first abilities they ever made for the project, and you can really tell with the before and after! Keep scrolling to see all the updates:

Original VFX for 'Double Strike' (left) vs. new

Sound Design

For our Sound Artist, last week was mostly focussed on reworking, testing and implementing various sound effects, from the cave ambience and reverb systems to ability SFX:

  • Cave ambience system: This was reworked so that it sends two tracks through an envelope and modulator in order to create the sense of a constantly changing loop
  • Reverb system: Work began on this so that the voices, effects and footsteps in the game are localised to their environment
  • Characters and abilities: Loads of character sound effects, as well as their abilities, have been tested, updated, and bug-fixed
  • Day/Night system: Our Sound Artist has begun working on a Day/Night system so that the in-game audio matches the sky's cycles

Finally, player-oriented, procedurally spawned one-shots have been worked on. These will allow us to create, for example, looping water drips that go through modulators so that each drip is unique from the rest. The system then plays the drips at random locations around the player, giving the impression of a 3D environment.

'Shattering Blow' before and after
'Savage Instinct' before and after

Programming

Last week, Programming involved making some upgrades to player, team and target portraits in the UI. We also continued making improvements to the Overhead Health Bars and the Turn Display, and also carried out some prep work for upgrading our Unreal version:

  • Portraits: We implemented new UI assets and updated functionality to show Secondary Resources (i.e. Zeal, Inner Grit, Ancient Power) as bars alongside Health, Energy and Mana stats
  • Overhead Bars: As well as the new assets that were added here, friendly health bars were also made green to help distinguish players from enemies
  • Turn Display: The Turn Display now shows which character is selected by displaying a highlight behind their respective portrait
  • Upgrading to Unreal Engine version 4.26.1: We began preparing to upgrade DOE's project version to 4.26.1, and tested to ensure that the upgrade *hopefully* goes smoothly
'Quickening Poison' before and after
'Counter Attack' before and after

Work On the New Golang Server

Last week was a long grind for the Golang team. With the help of the test client, our Programmers have continued to go through the Dungeon generation code, which brought on a week filled with squishing bugs. There were, however, a couple of fun additions, too.

Furthering our secret conspiracy to change the game into a text adventure (since we can use text commands to make the test client create a lobby and join a game), we’ve now added a function to display the game's map in text form. This is to help us fine tune and fix the random dungeon map generation without having to launch the game itself.

Additionally, the servers now have the ability to segment messages between themselves and the client, meaning we can send huge lists of characters and information without any performance hit in the slightest - yay!

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

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