Weekly DevLog: Zombies, Altars & Adding the Dragon.IK System

Development
February 15, 2021
November 18, 2021

Here’s what you can expect in this week’s devlog: new Zombie sculpts, Rune Altars, and dazzling VFX. We’ve also included some ambient sound samples, and talk about the Dragon.IK plugin that’s been added to the engine. As always, keep up-to-date on what we’re doing by following us on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

Following on from the last few weeks, the next character on the list to get redone was the Zombie, an enemy that you’ll often see travelling in hordes. While this new model is being retopologised, here's a quick look at the resculpting process.

We started by overlaying the existing human male base over the skeleton to streamline the workflow a bit. Doing this also helped in visualising eroding flesh by allowing us to strip bits of skin away and reveal the muscles and bone underneath.

When playing around with the model, we thought about and experimented with giving it a pot belly in order to make it seem more like a grotesque gourmand. But the end result didn’t really fit well so we decided to abandon this idea.

An idea we did decide to run with, however, was to give the Zombie some shorts as a way of hinting to the human that it once was. The shorts are fairly large and uniform on the final sculpt, but only in order to allow for easy ‘raggifying’™ when it comes to texturing.

Animation

Following all the character remodels that have happened this month, our Animator has been updating a bunch of characters to fit their new meshes. Animations for these characters were then adjusted and re-exported before being added back into the engine.

The Dragon.IK plugin has also been added to the engine and used with bipedal characters, including players, NPCs and small beasts - like cats, rats and boars. Dragon.IK is a plugin that makes creating realistic IK (Inverse Kinematics) for characters much easier and smoother. This system might need a few adjustments in the future, but for now we’re just seeing how it functions with our bipeds.

Environment Design

Set Piece Design

Last week was all about set pieces for one of our Environment Artists, with two new ones being created, including a Rune Altar and an Obelisk. Both of these set pieces feature a luminous blue material that we felt added a nice fantastical element to their stony exterior.

A blood altar is next on the list, and our artist has begun working on this by fixing the blood pool material. Other materials that were fixed last week include the decal masters, the paper for scrolls, and the liquid inside potion bottles.

Here are some shots of our new altar and obelisk:

The Rune Altar
The Rune Altar
The Obelisk
The Obelisk

World Environment

Now, onto the world environment, where a few improvements were made:

  • Created new lighting profile for the first settlement
  • Post processes were adjusted
  • Dynamic SSGI was enabled for the project in order to improve lighting

We’re currently creating new foliage volumes and working on a plan to better direct the player to the settlement. For now, here are two of the most recent screenshots from the game’s environment:

Visual FX

In a continuing effort to polish everything up, more visual effects for generic skills and abilities were reworked last week. This includes for:

  • Cleave: Player swings and hits three adjacent tiles, dealing Physical Damage
  • Swift Hit: Deals Physical Damage with a chance of stunning the enemy
  • Charge: Player charges into an enemy and deals Physical Damage
  • Hammerblow: Deals Physical Damage

Additionally, our VFX Artist created a widespread moving spider web effect, which could be a good starting point for an evil spider cave in the future - check everything out below!

Sound Design

There were a few sound effects that were tested and implemented last week:

  • Campfires and cooking pots have been added to the game and attenuated, so all of the fires that are currently in-game now have sound
  • We worked on some procedurally spawned ambient actors, like fireflies and crystals, in order to add variation to the soundscape of the dungeons
  • We updated the woodland ambience outside of the settlement so that instead of one loop playing, a random mix of birds, wind and leaves plays as you walk around

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SFX_Leaves_C.wav

Ambient sounds of leaves

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SFX_Birds_F.wav

Ambient sounds of birds

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/SFX_WallCrystal_A.wav

Ambient sounds of wall crystals

Programming

Last week was a busy one for our Programmers, who upgraded the engine, updated and added an all-new plugin, as well as made a bunch of bug fixes and UI adjustments.

  • Engine Upgrade: We updated the project from Unreal Engine 4.25.3 to 4.26.1, including deprecated project code and plugins
  • New Animation Plugin: As we touched on earlier, we implemented the Dragon.IK system last week so that we can create IK for characters more easily
  • UI Adjustments: We updated the layout and functionality of the stat panel, turn display, turn timer and debug panel. We also added an animation that plays in the center of the screen when your turn begins
  • General tweaks: We reduced the size of the movement pathing indicator, as well as added the ability to level out the floor under set pieces in order to stop the floor from hiding the work of our artists under raised floor mounds
'Hammerblow'
'Charge'

Server Rework

Last week, the hard grind our Programmers have been putting into the new Golang server finally paid off, with the test client now being able to fully initialise a game. This includes logging in like a normal player would, making a lobby to play in, readying up, starting, and then joining that game - and what’s even better is that all of these processes are totally bug free!

Additionally, we’ve added a new line of sight function to the server, allowing it to calculate whether a given point is in the line of sight and in the range of another point.

The final part of the week saw work begin on creating the ability for the test client to actually interact with the game it has joined, to the point where we will be able to technically play the game entirely from within a script!

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

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