January DevLog | Week #2

Development
January 10, 2020
November 18, 2021

Happy Friday, everyone! We’re wrapping up our week with another reflection on everything the team has achieved in the last five days. We’ve got a lot of new content to share with you, so let us know what you think of it all! As always, if you want to see daily updates on Depths of Erendorn, then head over to our Twitter, Instagram or Reddit!

3D Character Modelling

Let’s continue from where we left off last week - texturing the Human Merchant. After many discussions on how the Merchant’s rolled-up blanket should be patterned, we decided to keep it as a flat colour so as not to overcomplicate the design. We also went back in to texture the backpack, making it appear more worn because, given the Merchant’s nomadic lifestyle, it was looking a little unscathed before.

After texturing the rest of the Merchant’s accessories that dangle from his backpack, we finished this character pretty early on in the week, allowing us to start work on a new model - the black rhinoceros! As well as having a plethora of unique monsters and beasts, Erendorn will also host some recognisable wildlife so that a familiarity can be felt between the fantasy world and our own.

Textured model of the Merchanrt's clothes from Depths of Erendorn
We made the backpack appear more worn as a nod to the Merchant's nomadic lifestyle.

Speaking of the black rhino, here’s a funny story: our Character Artist didn’t realise the difference between certain subspecies of rhinos at first, and actually began sculpting an Indian rhinoceros instead! It was good practice, however, and they soon got back on track; and, after a few amendments, were able to finish the black rhino sculpt pretty quickly.

Once this was out of the way, they tried to add skin detail in ZBrush - but it wasn’t quite clicking this time around. Instead, all the skin and wrinkle details will be added in Substance Painter during the texturing phase, which should be a fun test! We thought this would be the best course of action because, if it doesn’t work out, we can always go back and add the details to the sculpt. So, with that knowledge, our artist retopologised, unwrapped and baked the rhino, ready for texturing to begin next week.

3D sculpt in ZBrush of an Indian rhino
We erroneously began modelling an Indian rhino instead of a black rhino - easy mistake, hey! Though sculpting this model was good practice!
3D sculpt of a black rhino in ZBrush
Black rhinos will appear in Depths of Erendorn as enemies you can fight.
Mesh of black rhino in ZBrush
Skin details, like wrinkles, will be added in Substance Painter during the texturing phase.

Animation

After transferring the Twilight Elf Assassin onto the new main rig, our Animator had some skinning issues to fix this week. This then allowed them to successfully transfer and edit a few of this character’s animations, from its basic and combat idles to its ‘equip daggers’ and death animations.

Alongside rigging, skinning and posing the Giant Ant for our profile card this week (which you can check out on our socials), our Animator also edited and exported the Hammerfall animation for a VFX test in the engine. Hammerfall is an ability used by the Earthen Dwarf. When selected, this character leaps into the air, landing with a forceful impact that sends splash damage to all surrounding enemies.

After having worked on Hammerfall’s VFX for a few weeks now, it was really great to see how it looked with the Earthen Dwarf animation, rather than just seeing it isolated against a background. It really helped us to see both VFX and animation play out in this way because it gave us a clearer idea of where we need to tweak certain things.

GIF of Twilight Elf Assassin rig from Depths of Erendorn equipping daggers
This week, we updated the animation of how our Twilight Elf Assassin equips daggers.

Environment Art

Work continued on our Cave Dungeon scene this week, with our Environment Artist making a lot of improvements to the water. They started by updating the water shader so that refraction was more performant. The river spline system was worked on next so that it would displace terrain geometry below itself, an action that was carried out for procedural generation purposes.

Then, in an effort to make the water flow and foam be informed by intersecting objects, we decided to implement real-time dynamic water foam/flow interactions. However, this turned out to be more costly than anticipated, and the feature has since been disabled - for now, anyway.

Our artist has now started working on the Cave Dungeon set pieces. In addition, they’re currently moodboarding interesting ideas for the environmental storytelling of this Cave Dungeon. Doing this will also inform the set pieces we decide to use in the scene so that they all come together in reflecting the overall narrative.

Screenshot of a dark cave dungeon with green crystals and water
We made many improvements to the water in our cave dungeon this week, like updating the water shader so that it was more refractive.

Visual FX

After working on the Hammerfall effect, our VFX Artist carried out some more work on integrating VFX with animations. They did this for Spinning Kick, a generic skill that deals Physical Damage to close-range enemies and their adjacent comrades.

Used by the Twilight Elf Assassin and Watertarg, our artist decided to use the Watertarg’s animation to test the VFX out on. We’re happy to see how well our animations and visual effects are integrating together, and can’t wait to carry out more tests in the future - so stay tuned!

VFX for Spinning Kick from Depths of Erendorn
Spinning Kick is a generic skill used by the Watertarg (as shown) and Twilight Elf Assassin.
VFX for Spinning Kick from Depths of Erendorn
It deals Physical Damage to nearby enemies, and also damages their adjacent comrades.

Programming

This week in the Programming department has been spent producing placeholder, yet functional UI widgets that are needed for gameplay. This includes things like the:

  • Ability bar.
  • Turn-order widget.
  • Turn timer and End Turn button.
  • Target health bar and portraits.
  • Player and team health bars and portraits.

The creation of this UI sets us up for our next stage of development: connecting and interacting with game servers. A new server connector class has also been added so that it can deal with sending and receiving game server data, meaning that players can now find and connect to game servers.

Moving on, there were multiple successes this week. New level generation code was implemented into the game server code before being debugged. As well as this, new spawn locations are now correctly stored, and tiles in rooms are now marked with the set piece name if they are to be part of a set piece. This will help the client understand which tiles to load in separately, as they will be authored pieces.

There were also a few issues that cropped up with the pathfinder this week:

  • The pathfinder was destroying tiles around the edge of the map.
  • This meant that certain places on the grid were surrounded by nothing.
  • The pathfinder was also moving diagonally, which created 1-tile gaps.
  • This would have made the levels easy to complete as the gaps could have been used as chokepoints.

After carrying out the necessary fixes, the pathfinder now correctly destroys and replaces tiles. The final fix we made before closing up for the week was making it so that rooms were resolved correctly. Before this, they were resolving incorrectly, leaving areas with authored pieces unaccessible.

VFX of Hammerfall from Depths of Erendorn
When selected, Hammerfall allows the Earthen Dwarf to leap into the air, landing with a forceful impact that sends splash damage to all surrounding enemies.

That’s it for this week’s game development update! Thanks for joining us again - we’ll be back next week with more updates on Depths of Erendorn!

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