Weekly DevLog: Character Remodels, New VFX & the Settlement At Night

Development
January 25, 2021
November 18, 2021

This week’s game development update comes fully stocked with character remodelling, new animations, sparkly VFX updates, environment reworks, sacrificial altars and - deep breath - new weapon sound effects. We’ve also got a chunky Programming section for all the game devs reading this, so keep scrolling for that! As always, make sure to check us out on Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

If you were with us for our last devlog, you’ll know that our 3D Modeller is on a mission to resculpt and retexture some of our existing characters. This is in an effort to make everything look more refined and as awesome as possible.

Last week, this work involved:

  • Retexturing the human female base mesh, following its recent resculpt
  • Remaking the Forest Druid base mesh using the new female base
  • Refitting the original Forest Druid’s clothes to the new base
  • Beefing up the generic Dwarf base so that it looks stronger and bulkier
  • Refitting the Earthen Dwarf’s clothes and equipment to the new base

You can check out all our progress below:

Retextured female base
New Forest Druid base
Old (left) and new (right) Forest Druid model
Dwarf base before (left) and after (right) changes
Refitting Earthen Dwarf clothes and equipment to new base
Refitting Earthen Dwarf clothes and equipment to new base
Refitting Earthen Dwarf clothes and equipment to new base
Refitting Earthen Dwarf clothes and equipment to new base

Animation

Last week, our Animator started to update some of the animated rigs in the engine. This is because a few were using old versions which were causing some mesh issues. Our Animator also fixed skin weights, and spent some time arranging their animation spreadsheet so that it’s easier to track progress and identify any missing animations.

Additionally, two animation ideas were created for the Knight’s ‘Challenge’ ability, which allows players to provoke an enemy. Our Animator is still working on both of these, and then the team will be tasked with trying to decide between the two! Let us know which one you’re leaning towards:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Challenge-1.m4v

The first ideation for the 'Challenge' animation

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Challence02-1.m4v

The second ideation for the 'Challenge' animation

Environment Design

It was a bit of a slow one for our Environment Artists last week due to setbacks in Sourcetree and some ideas not working out how they'd hoped. One such idea was for a new bedroll mesh, which didn’t turn out exactly how the Artist wanted it to. But sometimes, these days happen, and you just have to roll with it! Luckily we’ll still be able to use the new bedroll mesh inside tents that already have pelts in them, since they’ll help it to blend in - besides, we still think it looks pretty cool!

The struggles our Environment Artist faced at the start of the week were quickly compensated for by the new altar set piece they went on to create in UE4. If you follow us on socials, you’ll have already seen this epic sacrificial structure, but don’t worry if not, because we’ve added all the shots at the end of this section!

Our Artist is now planning a new settlement wall modular kit that will replace the current palisades. The goal here is for them to be a mixture of chunky and spiky pieces so that they have interesting silhouettes - we’ll keep you posted on the progress!

World Environment

Moving onto the world environment, three new variations of spruce trees have been created for the first settlement map, with new LODs (Level of Detail) being implemented and set up for all three. This is an optimisation technique in games, where the further away you are from an asset, the lower the LOD.

A day/night cycle was also implemented for the first settlement map, which was awesome to see, and new fog material as well as particle effects were created for the Cave Dungeons. Speaking of, loads of tweaks were made to the Cave Dungeons last week, including:

  • Texture brightening
  • Asset blending on intersection
  • Swapping out textures for better ones
  • Post processing improvements
  • Lighting improvements
  • New fog implementation

Visual FX

Last week, our VFX Artist started working on the Watertarg Excursionist’s concept sheet for visual effects, which will be used to help guide the creation process down the road.

Changes were also made to the fog system in the engine, which we discovered has been overwritten by height fog. We’re a thrifty bunch, however, so part of this fog system is being repurposed for dust particles.

As well as this, some preexisting ability VFX were improved with the help of some extra sparkles, including for the Forest Druid’s ‘Mending Hands’ and the Knight’s ‘Attack of Restoration’ abilities. Visual fx for fires were also refined a lot, and the difference is as clear as night and day - check it all out below!

Fire VFX before and after updates
'Attack of Restoration' before and after updates
'Mending Hands' before and after updates

Sound Design

Our Sound Artist was mostly busy with implementation last week. This work involved getting as many of our new sound effects up and running in the engine as possible, including for potions, footsteps and archers:

  • Two versions of potion drinking sounds have been made and implemented with updated animation blueprints
  • New sfx for archer bows have been made, complete with draw and release sounds, and implemented with the Bandit and Skeleton archers
  • Footsteps and combat vocals have been implemented for the Parakaw Astromancer, Zentragal Illusionist and Watertarg Excursionist
  • A lot of enemies have also had their missing sound effects implemented, including the boar, rat, spider, and other small critters

On top of all this, our Sound Artist has been talking with one of our Programmers about future plans for the weapons system. Regarding this, some new cut/slash effects have been made for later use - give them a listen below:

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Weapon-Quick-Slash-High-Ring-Tail.wav

Sound effects for weapon slash #1

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Weapon-Quick-Slash-.wav

Sound effects for weapon slash #2

Programming

Reworking the Game’s Server

Last week was a heavy one for our Programming department. Starting with the server rework, our Programmers dedicated a lot of time to creating a very important new feature: the test client. utomate testing our servers without needing a graphical client. With it, we'll be able to test patches and changes much more easily, and it will also smooth the transition between the PHP and Golang server.

We'll be able to use the test client to

While this took up the bulk of our time, we also implemented a couple of other fixes and features:

  • Servers can now automatically reconnect to anything that drops a connection with them
  • Entities in the game (NPCs, players, etc) now have a custom piece of code packing them correctly to be sent across the internet

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/bandicam-2021-01-18-16-57-47-735.mp4

Bandit demonstrating new archery bow sound fx

Using Instanced Static Mesh for Wall Rendering

As well as these server improvements, we’ve now also improved the rendering of the walls in the dungeons in order to give us a nice fps boost. We did this by using instanced static mesh instead of a large amount of static mesh. The benefit of instanced static meshes is that they:

  • Are drawn much more efficiently
  • Take much less time to render
  • Leave more room for other visual upgrades
  • Have a better performance on lower end machines

Additionally, the project got too large for our Git server, so it had to be upgraded in order to handle the data and the number of concurrent pull requests going on at once.

Asset Implementation for Stat Panel

Last week was also focused on implementing assets for the new stat panel, as well as fixing and updating a number of other systems to help with future implementation and testing. This work involved:

  • Stat Panel Update Part 1: The stat panel has had a visual upgrade with assets and design. After this work, regeneration stats now show alongside their relevant stat
  • Fog Implementation: Created a blueprint to be used with the room builder to allow fog particles to better integrate with room loading and unloading
  • Prop Seeds: Improved the room builder's use of room seeds during the prop placement phase
  • Drink SFX: Added the ability for potion sounds to be triggered by animation events

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

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