July Devlog | Week #4 | No. 238

Development
July 28, 2023
August 3, 2023

In this week's development log for Depths of Erendorn, our talented teams have been hard at work! The set piece design team has been optimising stalactites, fine-tuning their material in Substance Designer to strike the perfect balance between performance and visual appeal. Additionally, they've been refining the cave layout to create a more immersive environment. The animation team has continued to bring life to the characters, adding force to the Dwarf's swing animations. Meanwhile, the sound team has been curating diverse audio content, including captivating weather effects and magical elements, to enrich the auditory experience. On the environmental front, large rocks and cliffs have been upgraded with 8K textures, and a settlement revamp is in the planning phase to improve performance and visuals. These ongoing efforts are shaping the world of Erendorn into an awe-inspiring and immersive realm for players to explore. Examples of the team's incredible work can be seen below. 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!

Set Piece Design

The set piece design team has been making significant strides in optimising the stalactites for optimal performance while maintaining a low poly count. They have successfully decimated the stalactites down to between 1-2k, ensuring a visually appealing yet efficient asset. In Substance Designer, the team has been diligently working on a material for the stalactites, which, combined with the baked ambient occlusion and normals from the individual stalactites, promises to deliver a compelling and realistic visual effect in UE5. While the material is a work in progress, the team's approach ensures a balance between complexity and performance. Furthermore, the team has been carefully fine-tuning the cave layout, addressing concerns about its size and ensuring a more reasonable and immersive environment. By shifting elements and adjusting proportions, the team is creating a captivating and engaging cave experience for players in Depths of Erendorn. Examples of the ongoing progress can be seen below, promising an appealing and optimised set piece for the game world. Examples of the work completed by the team can be seen below.

Stalactite material

Material in use on stalactite

Programming

The first half of the week for the server team was spent with a few final fixes for Events, namely Graveyard Zombies correctly being able to find a better tile to spawn on if their original spawn location is taken, some code that stopped entities moving long distances on patrols from accidentally merging together or into a conga line, and finally some settings for the Wrecked Caravan's chests to display their effects correctly. The second half of the week has been spent on the beginning of the new NavData system being used to turn the game's grid from 2d to 3d! The team would also spend time making changes to Character Animation Blueprints, how volumes are managed in game, and identifying systems that make the biggest contribution to performance by analysing Shipping Builds. Examples of additional work completed throughout the week can be seen below.


  • Updated Character Animation Blueprints that make use of a Weapon Type parameter to allow attacks, idles and walks to be blended between different weapon type character animations. For example, Skeletal Bowmen will now correctly perform shoot animations on attack instead of swinging like their melee counterparts. This blend method will be used for switching player animations when weapon model switching is implemented.
  • Updated the Audio Manager to provide greater options when it comes to volume management across different audio source channels. Environmental and other dynamically used audio sources are now able to listen to the Audio Manager for changes in their corresponding volume channel.
  • Added show all combat participants overhead UI when the movement filter (V key) is held.
  • Switched Caravan event interactable meshes from a chest beside the Caravan to the Caravan itself.
  • Created and analysed performance implications between Shipping and Development builds. Unreal Engine's Shipping builds differ from Development builds in that the former is smaller in memory and has greater performance due to any debugging code normally included in a Development build being omitted. Comparing these build configurations side by side has allowed us to identify the impact our developer-only code has on performance and give better insight into areas that require optimising.
  • Implemented final fixes to progress display to tackle a variety of visual and functional issues we found in testing.
  • Implemented more UI elements, this week focused on the inventory and cleaning up the progress display components.

Sound Design

The sound team has been busy with a diverse range of updates and new additions to the game's audio experience. They have made significant progress in updating the weather effects, bringing fresh and immersive sound cues for distant and close thunder, as well as light and heavy rain. Additionally, the team has revamped the chest opening and chest opening reward sounds, enhancing the excitement and satisfaction of discovering loot. They have also created and integrated new sound effects for the Mech Lock and Chest, adding a touch of realism and depth to these interactions. The team's creative efforts extended to the Guided Fissure, where they expertly captured and implemented captivating sound cues. Furthermore, they have been hard at work on the Knight Walk, refining the character's footsteps to complement the overall ambiance of the game. To further enrich the magical elements in the game, the team utilised their original recordings from the past few weeks to create a diverse range of enchanting and immersive magic sounds. Their dedication to perfecting the audio experience in Depths of Erendorn is evident in the array of new and improved sounds that players will encounter throughout the game. Examples of these captivating sounds and effects can be heard below, promising an even more engaging and atmospheric gameplay experience. Examples of work completed by the sound team can be seen below.

Environment Art

The environment team has made significant strides in enhancing the landscapes of Erendorn with substantial updates to large rocks and cliffs. Through geometry optimisation and material upgrades, these elements now utilise 8K textures loaded directly from storage for improved performance. Additionally, the team has continued to improve the foliage, implementing a more natural appearance by having species spawn around each other rather than randomly. This creates a more immersive and realistic environment for players to explore. Looking ahead, the team has initiated the planning phase for a major revamp of the settlement. The main objectives of this overhaul are to enhance both performance and visuals, ensuring that the settlement is not only visually captivating but also runs smoothly for players. Examples of the landscape improvements and ongoing work on the settlement can be seen below.

Improvements made to the rocks and cliffs of the initial area

Animation

The animation team has been hard at work this week, bringing life to various character archetypes in Depths of Erendorn. Archers have been imported into the engine with bows included in their SK meshes, enhancing their visual appeal. Additionally, the team has made significant improvements for the Human, Elf, and Skeleton archers, removing the "bow combat idle" and utilising a basic "Combat idle" animation for a smoother and more cohesive combat experience. For the Dwarves, the team has successfully rigged and skinned frost dwarf guards, adding them into the engine with basic physics applied to their capes, adding a touch of realism to their movements. The Revenant character has also received attention, with the team importing animations into the engine and meticulously creating animation events, blends, and controllers for seamless integration into the game. The Gargoyle character's tongue bones have been fixed and animations renamed for consistency, resulting in a smoother workflow. Examples of the work completed by the team can be seen below.

Dwarf cape with physics

Firing an arrow animation using Skeleton Archer

Fen Elf Scout model with bow

Human Bandit Archer with bow model

Skeleton Archer with bow model

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

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