Welcome to the first Depths of Erendorn devlog of 2021! We hope everyone reading this had an awesome start to the New Year - we definitely have! New animations have been created, we’ve got some awesome sound effects to show off, and wait until you see what our Environment Design team has been up to. Join our community over on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on our fantasy game in development - now let’s get into it!
Over the last two weeks, our Animator has been getting stuck into making some new spells for Character Class Abilities.
The animations our Animator has made so far are for:
- Magnetic Grip: Used by the Earthen Dwarf to pull and root an enemy to an empty space, where they will take Earthen Damage for two turns. You may remember seeing the visual fx and sound fx our devs created for this ability, so getting the animation sorted will finalise its progress journey!
- Venomous Bite: Used by the Zentragal Illusionist to bite a target for Physical Damage, whilst also applying a venomous debuff for three turns. At the end of each of these turns, Nature Damage will be dealt, with the damage amount increasing a little per turn. Finally, at the end of this ordeal, the enemy is stunned for one entire turn.
They also created a generic animation set for spell casts. Although these are demonstrated for us by the amphibious Watertarg, these animations will be used with other characters, too, for generic movements and spells.
That in mind, our Animator transferred these Watertarg animations to the Forest Druid and Parakaw Astromancer, adjusting them to fit the new character shapes so that they could have more spell animations available to work with. All animations were then cleaned up and exported, and are now ready to be added to the engine for testing.
One of the first things our Environment Design team created when they started back was a very festive and cheery set piece of a sacrificial altar, as well as a dark and murky pond. Both use only a normal map for extra details, whilst they use the tiling material master for their base colour, roughness, and extra normal details. This saves a lot on texture space and allows us to easily make material variants of each piece.
The altar set piece is made up of multiple meshes so that it can easily be made into different variants. It's important that we focus on not only making interesting assets, but also ones that can be reused efficiently without being too recognisable.
Creepy ponds and altars aside, we’re currently working on fixing the Blueprint Props in response to some changes on the programming side that allow us to have props match the level of the terrain that the dungeon has generated. This means that the properties of our props have to be played with to see what we can achieve.
Moving onto the development of the game world, our Environment Artists found a new mountain creation method in Houdini that allows them to author the landscape in a more tailored way so that they align with our concepts better. This led to our devs creating some awesome new landscapes, in addition to making some minor improvements:
- Foliage placement tools were leveraged to populate the settlement level with trees, bushes and boulders
- The terrain material was tweaked and altered to make the snow more visually pleasing
- Methods of how to better place instanced meshes in the world using Houdini were researched
If you follow us on social media, you’ll have already seen the awesome new concept art sheet that our VFX Artist created for the Forest Druid’s level 3 abilities. They’ll be using this over the coming weeks as a foundation for the final visuals, so we’ll keep you updated on how it all turns out!
In addition to this, our VFX Artist also created some variations of fire in the game so that they’ll be able to be used for different purposes. They also tweaked the fog by force feeding it into the build - our Artist has formed a bit of a tumultuous relationship with this fog, so they’re hoping that doing this brings it closer to their vision!
These last two weeks, our Sound Artist has been working on vocalisations for the Daggerclaw Harpies, an awesome character race from the game that you can read more about here. In a nutshell, though, they’re fierce humanoid birds that possess incredible speed and deadly talons.
So far, we’ve created a generic vocal layer for the Harpies, though this is likely to change the more we develop it. Our Sound Artist also added some bird-like screeching to their fighting vocals, whilst ensuring that they didn’t sound too abstracted from humanoid characters.
Vocal sample of a Harpy attack
For the Harpies’ movements and flying attacks, a tremolo effect was experimented with in order to create some nice whooshes, which add a nice flutter to the overall sound design. This is only subtle, but it brings a unique element to these characters and their impressive set of wings.
Wing movement sample
The general attack sounds for the Daggerclaw Harpies were created using Weaponiser from Krotos Audio. Rather than use this sound design tool to make weapon sounds, like gunshots, our Sound Artist used it to randomise inputs of different gore effects. These were then combined with some weapon recordings to make a pretty gnarly Harpy attack sound.
Melee attack sample
Another character race our Sound Artist started working on was the Blue Melmees. These were a bit more difficult to get right because of the interesting nature of these characters: usually, they’re small, pretty cute creatures, who players make easily mistake for a friendly. However, get them angry, and they metamorphose into a giant, savage bear. So, our Sound Artist needs to strike a nice balance between these two sides of the Melmees.
Blue Melmee growl sample
Obviously, we started with the savage side because, quite simply, we couldn’t resist. Vocalisations for growls and attacks were played around with first, and were made from a combination of a few animal sounds - but mostly distorted Racoons. These vocals will be for combat, not general gameplay, which will need much more tamed sound effects.
Blue Melmee attack sample
This week's client development has taken a break from UI Implementation to focus on adding features to the Room Builder to allow new dungeon environment content to be added and applied to gameplay.
During previous environment focused sprints, a Set Piece Converter tool was created to facilitate the creation and integration of artist-made Set Piece sublevels. These are used in combination with procedural generation to create the dungeons that players will explore in Depths of Erendorn. This week saw the first test run of this workflow, and it highlighted a limitation of the process: procedural floors are generated across Set Piece tiles. By generating the floor this way, the artist loses the ability to author the ground in a set piece.
Two methods of combating this issue have been considered, with one seeing implementation this week and the other planned for a future sprint:
- The first method involves facilitating Set Pieces that do not require terrain but contain props that might be hidden by procedural terrain. To facilitate this, a phase of Prop Adjustment has been added to the room builder. Prop Adjustment allows props to be marked for adjustment in the engine during creation and allows props to recalculate their positions and rotations based on the terrain they appear on.
- The second method requires more attention as it involves creating an accurate model of the height and position of any included authored terrain in order to integrate the data into our existing terrain generation.
Another developer tool added this week was the ability to override Environment Profiles that are used when generating a room. Environment Profiles determine pools of props, sounds, walls and a number of other elements the Client uses to generate the dungeons of Depths of Erendorn. By adding the ability to override chosen profiles, our environment artists are now able to ensure the profile they've been working on is used in game during testing.
Continuing on with the server rewrite we began a few months ago, a lot of progress has been made in this area, including:
- Game Servers now notify settlement servers once dungeons have been generated and are ready for players to join
- Load balancing/spreading code has been started. As a result, settlement servers will now spread players out across the connected pool of game servers
- ServerLoad information structure and commands have been added so that servers can update each other on their situation and avoid overloading servers due to outdated info
- Lobby update command has been created. Previous lobby commands can now also trigger these updates as well when the settlement is notified that the lobby has its game ready
- Dungeon Complete Notification has been created and skeleton code for player progression has been added
- We also added Dungeon Group database retrieval. Preloading all dungeon groups on the server has been started, but isn't finished yet. Once complete, this will make level generation faster than it was on the previous server
That’s it for this week! We’ll be back next Monday with more updates on Depths of Erendorn - we’ll also be introducing you all to a new programmer who’s joined our team!