July DevLog | Week #2

Development
July 12, 2019
November 18, 2021

We’ve got a lot of awesome stuff to show you in this week’s game devlog. Our Ghoul is finished and looking as gross as ever, we have a brand new character selection scene to show you and our Twilight Elf Assassin has had a few animation updates! Check it all out below - and while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter and Reddit if you like what you see!

3D Character Modelling

After sculpting the Ghoul in last week’s game devlog, and after the hardest retopology to date, we spent this week bringing this enemy to life with some texturing! We started by painting a Subsurface Scattering map that helped inform the rest of the textures on the model by the SSS effect reducing normal map detail. This means that if you make it at the start of the texturing process, you get a better idea of how strong to make normal mapped details in the future.

One of our favourite parts of creating the Ghoul was adding the eyes. We decided to show these as small, glowing pinpoints set back in a dark, hollow socket. We chose this aesthetic because we wanted the eyes to represent the Ghoul’s malice, as well as how little life force it has. Here is how we created the eyes:

  • The eyes themselves are made up of small, floating planes
  • A transparency map was then used to mask off the parts of the planes that won’t be seen
  • An emissive map was used to create the sinister glowing effect in the eyes
  • A few different tests were finally carried out so that we could get the exact look we wanted

When it came to texturing the body, we wanted to make sure we did justice to this creature’s gruesome and overall repulsive appearance. To do this, we decided to overlay meat textures because this method best achieved that fleshy look we were going for.

Setting up an SSS Map on a Ghoul model in ZBrush
A Subsurface Scattering map was painted on at the start in order to inform the rest of the textures
3D model of a Ghoul in ZBrush facing forwards
Overlapping meat textures were used to create the fleshy, almost sickly appearance of the skin
3D model of a Ghoul in ZBrush posed from 3 different shots
This is the final Ghoul model. While we feel like we could have worked on it forever, we had to stop some time!

Animation

More updates were implemented on the Twilight Elf Assassin’s rig this week. These updates included adding a rig to the coat-tails that hang behind his legs, and adding three facial expressions to the control rig. With this all done, we could start working on its animations:

  • An updated walk cycle was first created
  • The idle animation was also updated
  • All other animations were then tried and tested
  • Final animations were adjusted to fit the new rig

Environment Art

This week, our Environment Artist has been building a new and improved character selection scene that will really show off and embellish a player's characters. Some parts of the scene, like the background architecture or the plinthe the model stands on, are placeholders for now; in the future, they will be replaced with epic stone ruins that have been worn by time.

A lot of attention went into creating the environment within this scene:

  • Three variations of fir trees and wild ferns were created in order to bring different textures and points of interest into the scene
  • Terrain material was made specifically for this character selection scene. While this is a placeholder and will be improved on, we love the atmosphere it creates
  • We improved the Moss Shader to mimic Subsurface Scattering, allowing us to show light catching on the edges of objects for a more realistic look

With all of this in place, the character selection scene really captures the feel of an overgrown, ancient ruin that’s tucked away somewhere in Erendorn. Finally, lighting, scene settings (such as fog) and post-processing effects were all tweaked specifically for this scene to make sure that our characters were properly showed off.

Server & Game Client

There were a few abilities that needed to be fixed and reworked this week. Smite, for example, was not reducing an enemy’s Energy before we reworked it, and there were a few issues like this that we had to resolve for other abilities:

  • Critical Hits from abilities should now be shown more clearly. Before this, there was a bug stopping the Crit information from being used correctly
  • Juggernaut has been reworked to increase Damage instead of Strength. This is because Strength was causing abilities that scale from Strength to become overpowered
  • Python Venom, which adds a 2 Mana cost to spells cast to its victims, was fixed after it developed a problem where it was affecting the wrong abilities

This week has also been spent setting Depths of Erendorn up to support asset serialisation with the use of a system called Addressables. Addressables allows models, animations, audio and other large assets to be compressed into separate 'Asset Bundles' and loaded when needed. Using Addressables also allows developers to mark assets as remote. This means Unity caches the latest local copy of an asset while downloading and then seamlessly replaces the asset with it's newest version from our servers.

However, as good as it is, we won’t be downloading updated assets using the Addressables system as we have a better idea for content patches that we are currently looking into. The main advantage of us using the Addressables system is that by grouping assets into bundles, we only have to load specific sets of assets that are actually needed, which massively reduces the game’s memory footprint.

Screenshot of a Parakaw standing on a plinthe in Depths of Erendorn's character selection scene
Our character selection has been completely revamped in order to really shine a light on a player's set of available characters

To optimise it even further, we have also begun creating a dev script that will allow us to easily upload and store image references in our database without having to manually input them. These upgrades will mean better performance, better efficiency and greatly reduced patch sizes, especially as the project swells with content.

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