March DevLog | Week #1

Development
March 6, 2020
November 18, 2021

The development of Depths of Erendorn is continuing full-steam-ahead this month with newly textured NPCs, special attack animations and some awesome visual and sound effects. Head over to our Twitter, Instagram or Reddit for daily updates on all of these areas - but if you’re jonesing for a more in-depth look at everything, then this devlog is for you.

3D Modelling

After finishing off the Swamp Lizard model in our last devlog, more texturing work was carried out on our lizard sculpts this week. Starting with the Spiny Lizard, our 3D Modeller went through several iterations of patterns for the body in order to get this creature looking just right, and actually used Komodo Dragons as a reference for this.

Spiny Lizards may be low level enemies in Depths of Erendorn, but they are actually capable of reflecting a lot of Physical Damage, and are also quite rare. For this reason, we wanted to make sure that their texture reflected the remarkable qualities of this creature:

  • Blue detailing was added to the head and tail for extra interest.
  • The skin on the head, feet and underside was made a deep red colour.
  • The scales on the top of the body break up slightly to let the red skin show through.
  • The horns were made a dark, almost black colour to make them seem more threatening.
  • A scratched texture was added to the plate on the Lizard’s head as well as some of its horns, suggesting that this creature is no stranger to conflict.

After this, we moved on to texturing the Thorny Lizard, this time using the work from the Spiny variation as a basis to speed up production. The breaks in the body scales, for example, were carried over to the Thorny Lizard, and coloured with a similar earthy red. While we changed the skin colour to a deep grey-blue, the colour of the horns that are on the head and elbows were kept the same as the Spiny Lizard's, and recycling elements in this way really helped to speed up the entire process.

The Big Lizard was next on the list. The concept design for this creature actually showed ombréd colours that graduated from deep, cool blue tones to warmer, almost rusted tones. With that in mind, our 3D Modeller did a great job replicating these design elements, as well as a few others that are unique to the Big Lizard, such as the blue speckles along its back and the light orange colour of the head horns. The colour of the horns is one of our favourite features of this particular model because, by making them the lightest part, we draw attention to what are the Big Lizard’s most formidable weapons.

Finally, we made sure to use the same scales and leathery skin texture on all of the Lizards mentioned in this devlog. This is because, given that these variations hail from the plains and caves, they should have rougher looking scales compared to the Swamp Lizard, for example, who we made to look much slicker in accordance with its slimy surroundings. With all of this work out of the way, we can now close our chapter on these sets of Lizards! Next week, we’ll be working on the Twilight Elf Civilian model, so stay tuned for that!

Fully textured 3D model of a Spiny Lizard from Depths of Erendorn
This is the completed model of the Spiny Lizard.
Fully textured 3D model of a Thorny Lizard from Depths of Erendorn
This is the completed model of the Thorny Lizard.
Fully textured 3D model of a Big Lizard from Depths of Erendorn
This is the completed model of the Big Lizard.

Animation

This week in Animation, we focussed on reviewing some special attacks for playable characters. That said, our Animator is aiming to get 2-3 special attacks working and ready to use for each playable class. Starting with the Twilight Elf Assassin, we transferred and adjusted four special attack animations onto its new unique rig, including:

  • Rupture Kick: Deals Physical Damage while reducing an enemy’s Strength for one turn.
  • Shift Strike: Allows you to teleport behind an enemy within a six tile radius and deal Void Damage. It also stuns one tile enemies.
  • Shadow Leap: Allows the player to leap from up to six tiles away, dealing Physical Damage and small amounts of Stun when the enemy is struck.
  • Blind Side: Can only be used when attacking from the side or from behind. Deals Physical Damage but always hits for Critical Damage.

We went through a few iterations with Shadow Leap in particular. While the revised animation shows the Assassin dealing an attack as he lands, we weren’t sure if the attack was too subtle. Revisiting the original animation for this skill, we liked how the Assassin landed, paused and then attacked the opponent with a stab into the ribcage.

However, while this original animation made the actual attack more obviously brutal, the pause after landing seemed to interrupt the flow of the animation a little. We also decided that although the attack on the revised animation was more subtle, the downward force of it after landing would create a better pace and greater impact. Therefore, we decided to go with the revised animation, but will use VFX to make the end attack more visible to the player.

After all this, we moved onto transferring and editing the animation for Pulsating Wound, a special attack of the Watertarg Excursionist that does several things:

  • Pulsating Wound deals significant amounts of Physical Damage every turn for five turns.
  • It causes 1 tile and 4 tile enemies to lose a bit of Movement Speed whilst it’s active.
  • Every time it deals damage, it also grants the Watertarg player 1 Ancient Power.

We wanted to make the animation for this special attack just as gnarly as its title, so our Animator opted to show the Watertarg slicing open its opponent's belly in one swift, wide motion. The Watertarg Excursionist actually only has this one special attack to animate - many of this playable character’s attacks are spells rather than combative moves, so Pulsating Wound was the only attack worked on for this character.

Next up was the Earthen Dwarf, who had its animation for Shattering Blow worked on. This attack had to be recreated anyway because of some existing issues on the old file, in which the body had the wrong rotation. The original animation for Shattering Blow also showed the Earthen Dwarf spinning around and then bringing his axe down, which we thought wouldn’t really create enough force for this attack.

When our Animator recreated it, the axe was changed to a hammer and tweaked slightly so that it was less vertical, and instead swung round to leave a greater impact.

WIP animation of 3 special attacks for the Twilight Elf Assassin from Depths of Erendorn
We refined several character animations this week, like these three special attacks for the Twilight Elf Assassin.
WIP animation of Shadow Leap from Depths of Erendorn
We also worked on the Assassin's special attack 'Shadow Leap.' The attack at the end of the leap will eventually be made more visual with VFX.
WIP animation of Pulsating Wound from Depths of Erendorn
'Pulsating Wound' is used by the Watertarg to deal Damage over a number of turns.
Original animation for Shattering Blow from Depths of Erendorn
We felt that the original animation for 'Shattering Blow' didn't look like it had enough force.
WIP animation for Shattering Blow from Depths of Erendorn
This revised version of 'Shattering Blow' shows the Earthen Dwarf swinging a hammer in a more realistic and forceful way.

Environment Art

This week, a large environment set piece was split into three chunks that will soon be scattered around our Cave Dungeons. As well as this, two wall set pieces have been compiled into blueprints and are now ready for use in levels. Our Environment Artist also spent this week making improvements to water visuals, and creating new spline assets for set pieces.

Environment set pieces in Unreal
A large envrionment piece was split into three chunks.
Environment set pieces in Unreal
These chunks will soon be scattered around our dungeons.
Screenshot from UE4 showing wall set pieces in a cave dungeon
We also compiled two wall set pieces into blueprints.
Screenshot from UE4 showing wall set pieces in a cave dungeon
These are now ready to use in levels.

Visual FX

After our Animator spent some time recreating special attack animations, our VFX Artist then began to align the corresponding visual fx with these new animations. This week, they worked on Shift Strike, adding a purple slash effect to the strike, as well as a purple cloud effect to the player in order to reflect the fact that Twilight Elves are in-tune with the Void. As you may already know, Twilight Elves emanate with a purple aura that is a result of their attunement with the Void, so it is clear to see how this piece of lore informed our VFX Artist’s aesthetic decisions for this attack.

Other than Shift Strike, a few more visual effects were created for abilities this week:

  • Voidshadow: Another ability used by the Twilight Elf Assassin, this activates Stealth, making the player unable to move or be targeted.
  • Viper Strike: Used by the Forest Druid, this not only makes your next two attacks free, it also deals an additional amount of Nature Damage.
  • Chain Heal: A Forest Druid and Parakaw specialty, this restores an equal amount of Health to the entire team, and also grants a 25% chance to have even more Health restored to everyone.

When they weren’t working on these abilities, our VFX Artist was spending some time redesigning simple buff effects for skills like Haste and Bolster, which we talked about in last week’s devlog. They also began making a list for potential weather and environmental effects that will occur in rooms, including things like fireflies and falling leaves. Once more rooms have been built, visual effects like these will begin to be played around with so that we can create the right atmosphere.

WIP vfx for Viper Strike from Depths of Erendorn
'Viper Strike' is used by the Forest Druid to deal high amounts of Nature Damage.
WIP vfx for 2 buff effects from Depths of Erendorn
The buff effects for skills like 'Haste' and 'Bolster' were worked on this week.
WIP vfx for Chain Heal from Depths of Erendorn
'Chain Heal' restores Health to the entire team and can be used by the Forest Druid or Parakaw.
WIP vfx for Void Shadow from Depths of Erendorn
'Voidshadow' is a Twilight Elf Assassin move that is used to activate Stealth.
WIP vfx for Shift Strike from Depths of Erendorn
We made the VFX for 'Shift Strike' purple because of the Twilight Elves' attunement to the Void.
WIP vfx for Shift Strike from Depths of Erendorn
'Shift Strike' allows the Twilight Elf Assassin to teleport behind an enemy before dealing Physical Damage to them.

Sound Design

This week, our Sound Artist worked on creating some footsteps for dogs and wolves in the game. They began this process by recording some base sounds. To do this, they actually taped metal nails to thick work gloves:

  • The metal nails acted as the canine nails.
  • The tape was quite thick in order to replicate the sound of a leathery sole.
  • The use of heavy-duty work gloves also added a bit of padding to the sound effect.
  • Our Sound Artist will be able to increase or decrease the weight of this padding depending on the size of the canine.

The sounds of ground surfaces will eventually be layered onto these base sounds, including things like grass, water and snow, depending on where the enemy is encountered. Our Sound Artist then began working on the sound effects for Hammerblow, an Earthen Dwarf skill that is pretty powerful. To do justice to the immense physical presence of Hammerblow, our artist included some ground-shaking and crumbling rock effects.

Our Sound Artist also worked with our VFX Artist to create some accompanying sounds for the Forest Druid’s Viper Strike, an ability we mentioned earlier:

  • Plans to include the rapid shaking of a rattlesnake were discussed, but soon abandoned.
  • This is because we wanted to be nonspecific with our sound effects.
  • Instead, we added and modulated some generic ‘whooshes’ so that we can express a similar effect to the rattlesnake, without specifically referencing one.

Sound effects were also worked on for generic spells like Haste, Bolster, Kinetic Crush, Displacement and Bind. Our Sound Artist is particularly happy with how the effects for Bind turned out, which is used by the Forest Druid or Parakaw to root an enemy for one turn. Though the VFX haven’t been created for this yet, both sound and visual departments worked together to discuss how Bind should play out. In the end, our Sound Artist created the sounds of vines growing and chains being dragged in order to indicate that the enemy is becoming enwrapped and grappled to the spot by the spell.

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Viper-Strikes-Draft-Sound-With-Video.mp4

These are the sound effects for 'Viper Strikes.'

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Bind-Draft-Sound-2.wav

These are the sound effects for 'Bind.'

Programming

It was another busy week inside Unreal Engine as our Programmers work on getting Depths of Erendorn ready and playable. Starting with a few UI elements, the bar on the overhead health bars was reworked in order to be usable in other areas. In addition to this, party portrait tracking has now been added:

  • Party portraits now appear at the side of the screen.
  • This allows players to see the current status of their team.
  • Party portraits now also display the Health, Mana and Energy of other players.
  • They also display what secondary resources are available to use.

A target enemy portrait is now also updated whenever a player selects, attacks, or uses an ability on a given enemy. Speaking of abilities, a lot of work was also carried out on these this week:

  • Tile-targeting ability controllers are now implemented.
  • Area of effect (tile-targeting) abilities now have a visual display for their affected area.
  • A 'No Target' ability controller has been created and implemented.
  • Abilities can now be confirmed and cast by re-selecting a specific one from the ability bar.
  • We have added the ability to confirm an ability cast by re-selecting it from the ability bar
  • Cooldowns have also now been added to the ability bar.

The next thing our Programmers did was limit the amount of displayed characters that appear on the Turn Order display. They also introduced a few new additions, like a button for showing all hidden turn players, and a turn timer that shows when a player is half-way through their turn.

The Stat Panel was the last area worked on this week. With regard to this, our Programmers created the ability for stat entries to contain a minimum and maximum number of a single relevant stat, be it Health, Energy, Mana, Movement or Weapon Damage. They also modified the panel to size dynamically based on the number of stats contained. Finally, the stat panels were given the ability to display stats in a preferred order, which is up to our Programmers to define.

https://doe.horus.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Hammerblow-Draft-Sound-with-Video.mp4

These are the sound effects for 'Hammerblow.'

That’s it for this week! Thanks for joining us. We’ll be back next week with more updates on our fantasy RPG - until then, we’ll keep you posted on our socials, so we’ll see you there!

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