July Devlog | Week #1 | No. 235

Development
July 6, 2023
July 20, 2023

Last week was a time of great progress and innovation across various development teams. The 3D modelling team dedicated their efforts to perfecting the intricate details of the Spellcaster armour set, employing advanced sculpting techniques to ensure its awe-inspiring visual appeal. The environment team embarked on a comprehensive overhaul, implementing new road textures and an enhanced material system that utilises Parallax occlusion mapping for stunningly realistic textures. The sound team worked tirelessly to enhance the immersive audio experience, focusing on UI transition sounds and creating a layered approach for dungeon entries and exits. Meanwhile, the animation team focused on refining pose switching and creating animation events, blends, and controllers for the bipedal characters. These collaborative efforts have resulted in significant improvements to the game's visuals, audio, and overall player experience. Witness the remarkable progress made by these talented teams as they shape the world of Depths of Erendorn. As always, join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit for daily updates on Depths of Erendorn. Alternatively, join our Discord for all the latest! - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

The dedicated 3D modelling team has been fully immersed in their work, pushing the boundaries of sculpting to enhance the intricate details of our Spellcaster armour set. Exploring innovative techniques, they recently attempted a method of detailing the sides that, unfortunately, did not yield the desired results when viewed from a distance. However, the team's unwavering commitment to quality and visual appeal ensures that they are continuously striving for perfection. Witness their creative journey unfold as they conquer new challenges and deliver a truly exceptional armour set for our esteemed Spellcasters. Examples of the work completed by the team throughout the week can be seen below.

Additional details added to the spellcasters armour

More intricate experimental designs added to the hip plates

Additional details from afar

Programming

Client

This week has been about upgrading the Settings Menu UI and overhauling the Entity Overhead UI. The Health Bar and Name plates have been revised to reduce the amount of UI onscreen for large group interactions with effort made to maintain the amount of relevant information in and out of combat. Additional work completed by the team can be see below.

  • Overhead UI assets replaced and layout reconfigured. Added new Nameplate background image and highlight for any enemies targeting the selected player.
  • Updated Overhead Health Bars with new assets and text size and layout.
  • Configured the ability for NPC Overhead Nameplates to be minimised when not hovered, while keeping States and Active Effects visible.
  • Updated the Settings Window with new assets and layout.
  • Added a generic Slider asset to be used by the Audio tab of the Settings Window and future settings that require Slider input.
  • Finished implementing selected ability tracker in character creation.
  • Updated vendor window to use contextual sound cues based on sold/purchased items.
  • Updated some more misc UI elements, mostly buttons.
  • Added new functionality to the adventure summary window to provide a small update at the end of individual combats and at the end of dungeons. Some minor bugs need ironing out and some adjustments required to allow spectating of other combats.

Server

This week, the server team's been busy with a few bug fixes, namely Active effects and movements being able to crash the server if they manage to become detached from the entity that created them. Additionally, some work into a solution that helps settlement server realised another server has crashed, and being able to remove the players from the 'gone on adventure' list that would typically forward them to the (now crashed) server if they lose connection briefly, or their client crashes. Also, some work was done on Aggressive AI to help them handle their target being invisible, and prioritise attacking something they can actually see!

Finally, the team worked on implementing an automapping feature and fixing UI issues within the mapping UI. We also adjusted the folder structure and completed a lot of optimisation of our mapping functions. Before optimisation, it took approximately 2 hours to map a chunk of the map, after the optimisation it now takes roughly 2-3 minutes. The team also adjusted how the mapping code continues after hitting water, meaning no nodes are kept if they are underwater, leading to a smaller file size and better load speeds.

Sound Design

Last week, the sound team focused on enhancing the immersive audio experience through UI transition sounds. With the help of the music department and coding team, who created Enums for sound attachments, they meticulously set up transitionary sounds for various game events such as adventure starts/stops and dungeon entries/exits. The goal was to address the abruptness of audio cuts during area transitions, as it can disrupt immersion. Taking entering the dungeon as an example, three layers of sound effects were implemented on the portals, gradually intensifying and altering the sound as players approach. Upon accepting a dungeon entry, a portal transition sound accompanies the adventure exit, followed by an "enter dungeon" sound upon loading into the dungeon. While further tweaking is necessary during testing, the team believes these additions will greatly enhance the player experience. Furthermore, the introduction of portal sounds provides players with audio cues for locating portals, imbuing them with an enticing and vibrant atmosphere. Examples of the audio completed by the team can be seen below.

Environment Art

The environment team has made significant progress in improving the visual quality of the game's landscapes. This includes the implementation of new road textures with a greatly enhanced material system. The new material utilises parallax occlusion mapping, resulting in more realistic and detailed textures that truly stand out. Additionally, the virtual texture landscape material now incorporates ambient occlusion through the specular channel, while specular is derived via base color, resulting in a higher fidelity landscape material at minimal performance cost. The team has also streamlined and simplified the foliage materials into a reduced set of master materials, leading to improved rendering performance. Furthermore, the team has implemented moss fuzziness shading into the new master material, with the moss mask derived from color to reduce texture overhead. In addition, the team has created new corruption assets using UE5 Height displacement and Nanite, resulting in highly detailed meshes. Lastly, assets placed on grass now automatically remove grass and other small foliage, mitigating issues with grass clipping through assets. Examples of the work completed by the team can be seen below.

Improved path textures in the initial settlement

Improved moss textures within the initial area

Work in progress improvements to corrupted ground

Improved ground materials within the ruins

Animation

The animation team has made significant progress in refining pose switching and ensuring seamless transitions between different character poses. They have carefully adjusted the necessary parameters to achieve smoother and more natural movement shifts. In addition, they have focused on the development of animation events, blends, and controllers for the bipedal characters. This includes the creation of character blueprints for previously missing characters, addressing any related skin issues, and importing additional mesh variations. Examples of work completed by the team throughout the week can be seen below.

Variation of walking speed animations

Mesh variations for Rockbark Treeman

That’s it for this week’s devlog, but have you seen our monthly roundup of June yet?! 

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