Monthly Devlog | August 2023 | No. 55

Development
September 4, 2023
September 19, 2023

Throughout the month of August, the Depths of Erendorn development teams have demonstrated unwavering dedication across various domains. The 3D modelling team meticulously refined spellcasters' protective gear, from retopology to texturing, cultivating an opulent yet grounded aesthetic. They delved into crafting an assassin-style set, adding functional elements like a concealing hood, while also enhancing the agile set with wrist guards and aesthetic trims. Meanwhile, the set piece design team optimised assets by consolidating ambient occlusions and normals, elevating visual quality and performance efficiency. Their focus on the cave environment material and lighting culminated in a versatile master stalactite material. The programming team undertook extensive UI optimisations to improve framerate during adventures, alongside bug fixes and tutorial system development. Additionally, they implemented Fast Travel for a more flexible adventure system. The sound team enriched the game's audio with Attenuation, SFX, and a diverse magic effects library. The environment team meticulously planned settlement upgrades and researched Viking roofing techniques while crafting foundational assets. The animation team focused on character animations, upgrading rigs, refining skin weights, and experimenting with dynamic bones for a natural aesthetic. The VFX team envisioned captivating visual elements and enhanced dungeon portals, underlining their creativity and technical prowess. 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

Throughout the month of August, the 3D modelling team at Depths of Erendorn has demonstrated remarkable progress in crafting and refining a diverse array of assets. They commenced with the meticulous process of retopology, ensuring that the protective gear for spellcasters maintains optimal mesh topology for animation and rendering. This was followed by an unwrapping phase, creating UV maps crucial for accurate texturing. The team's expertise further shone as they completed the unwrapping and baking process, setting the stage for the detailed texturing of the assets. Their adept use of colours like gold, red, and brown cultivated an opulent yet grounded aesthetic for the armour. Notably, the team embarked on an assassin-style set, carefully sculpting initial details while integrating functional elements like a concealing hood and flowing material. The month's achievements also encompassed refining the agile set with enhanced wrist guards and material trim, ensuring both functionality and visual appeal. Their relentless dedication and skill have yielded a range of assets that are sure to enrich the immersive experience of Depths of Erendorn. Examples of their exceptional work throughout August can be observed below.

Finalised armour for Spellcaster's of Erendorn

Initial block out for agility based armour

In progress details sculpted into the Agility armour

Set Piece Design

Throughout the month of August, the set piece design team at Depths of Erendorn engaged in productive deliberations with the environment team, leading to significant enhancements in asset optimisation. The decision to consolidate ambient occlusions and normals onto a single map drove the team to meticulously sculpt each asset to achieve efficient UV packing. In tandem, subtle material adjustments were made to inject greater colour variety, elevating the visual allure of the assets. Continuous refinements were directed at perfecting the cave material and lighting, culminating in the comprehensive master stalactite material. This versatile material, poised to grace a variety of assets from stalagmites to flowstones. Examples of which can be seen below.

Stalactite master texture

Stalactite with applied master texture

Stalagmites with master texture applied

Programming

Throughout August, the programming team at Depths of Erendorn focused on optimising various UI systems to enhance the average framerate during adventures, especially in larger character groups. By reducing on-screen elements and memory usage, they significantly improved performance during adventures, regardless of the camera's direction. They also addressed bugs in the UI and conducted thorough checks on widgets for minor issues, enhancing user interactions and interface functionality. Their work extended to adapting code to reduce potential desynchronisation and planning the next phase of the Navdata. Additionally, they implemented Fast Travel into the server code, aiming to create a more flexible adventure system with seamless movement across Erendorn. Moreover, they tackled performance issues related to the Enemy Movement Filter, reducing frame drops in sessions with numerous NPCs. The team also made progress on the tutorial system, including developing a new button class for navigation and context-based popups. Overall, their August efforts were marked by performance optimisation and UI enhancements. Additional work completed by the programming team can be seen below.

  • Updated how Combat ability tooltips are stored and updated to reduce significantly the number of UI elements stored in memory.
  • Applied the tooltip changes to Character Creation abilities.
  • Updated how spawned environmental Blueprints listen for the AudioManager's new volume update methods.
  • Fixed an issue with equipped items only showing their stat bonuses to the equipper. Any other player in the same Session will now see stats correctly reflected as they are altered.
  • Updated how outlines are applied during adventures, enemy outlines will now only be visible while in Combat and while that Combat is in focus. (A Combat being in focus means the player has one of its participants selected).
  • Removed missing GUIDs that were causing the engine to crash when building Textures thanks to a great community plugin. https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/en-US/product/guid-fixer
  • Updated the equipment screen with new UI elements and adjusted the functions around handling two-handed items to implement the new locked slot icon.
  • Added a tentative fix for a bug that was causing the target counter for abilities to duplicate and then not be correctly cleared from the screen. There's still a possible link between said bug and clientside lag that still needs testing.
  • Minor tweaks to the sizes of icons on the utility bar.
  • Fixed a bug in the vendor window that was breaking item icons due to the changes related to two-handed weapons.
  • Updated Active Effect Tooltip Widget in line with Ability Tooltips, Active Effect Tooltips now take up less onscreen space and are updated on hover further reducing the amount of widgets stored.
  • Added the capability for Active Effects to be hidden until the affected character is selected or hidden to players at all times. By having an option for this setting on each Active Effect we're now able to reduce UI clutter and information overload players might experience fighting larger crowds of enemies.
  • Updated how Active Effects update their durations and remove themselves cutting down the number of objects being checked when update logs occur.
  • Joining new sessions now uses fast travel points.
  • Handlers can now be stored in the interactable manager.
  • Added interactable spawning for Fast Travel Points.
  • FastTravel data is now set to the client.
  • Added FastTravel Helper functions.
  • Zones now cache FastTravel Points within them for easy referencing.
  • Adjusted PlayerNotification server-to-server command to use FastTravel points.
  • Added Nav Service Preloading code to correctly preload the required data on zones/fast travel networks and chunk data.
  • Further improved logging filters for Session and Combat updates to allow certain log types to be omitted reducing the amount of text generated while maintaining precise logging as the game runs.
  • Fixed a crashing bug caused by leaving Dungeon lobbies during Adventures.
  • Added the Unstuck button and Command - Depths of Erendorn uses pre-generated Navigation Data for character movements, some areas of the environment can cause pathfinding to fail and for players to be stuck. The Unstuck button, found in the settings menu allows players to teleport to a nearby location. This is a temporary solution to allow testing to continue while the pathfinding issue is fixed.
  • Fixed a bug that caused the game to crash when leaving a Dungeon Portal before entering.
  • Updated how NPCs get removed when despawning to differentiate from player removal and added new RemoveEntity log and Stepper.
  • Updated Item Tooltips to show which slots they can be equipped to.
  • Added StopMovePoint log handling to Combats. StopMovePoint logs are Server messages that gets sent to connected players when a character's movement ends early. Originally created as a Session log these logs can now also be used during combat to prevent positioning mismatches when certain characters become suddenly unable to reach their target.
  • Removed unwanted margins appearing in the backgrounds of windows for character creation and tutorials.
  • Readjusted progression display to fix a bug causing the wrong title to display when ending an adventure.
  • Further development on the tutorial logbook and popup system, mostly still focused on setting up context based displays in preparation for full implementation.
  • The first parts of the levelling up code was written which will be finished off next week.
  • A bug relating to enemy NPC groups disappearing in combat has been fixed.
  • An entity position desync in combat has been fixed.

Sound Design

Throughout the month of August, the sound team at Depths of Erendorn exhibited a comprehensive and dynamic approach to audio enhancement. They introduced Attenuation for Character Vocals and Steps, contributing to a heightened sense of realism as these sounds adapt realistically to distance and spatial positioning within the game world. Their commitment to refining the audio system was evident in the creation of an intricate Sound Class tree and the classification of sounds, resulting in a more streamlined organisation for efficient management. The team's dedication extended to enriching the immersive ambiance of the game by adding SFX to Combat Shrines and implementing looping flame SFX for Braziers of various types, enhancing the auditory environment. Portals received a boost in audio dynamics through new Attenuation settings. A significant focus was on broadening the magic effects library through the creation of versatile, generic layers, thus increasing the enchanting variety within the game. Crafting new Shrine effects for ambient loop SFX further contributed to a deeply immersive audio experience. Collaboration with the Client-side team enabled the seamless alignment of audio with the camera's movement through enhanced Ocean Spline Blueprint, complemented by strategically placed Volume triggers along the coast. The sound team's multifaceted achievements throughout August are showcased below.

Environment Art

During the month of August, the environment team at Depths of Erendorn displayed unwavering dedication and substantial progress in their tasks. Their focus on enhancing the game's visual appeal and player experience was evident as they embarked on the settlement upgrade planning and design process. Engaging in meticulous reference gathering and research, the team aimed to strike a harmonious balance between visual allure, optimisation, and modularity. This proactive approach paved the way for significant achievements, including the creation of primary modular pieces and the assembly of a basic testing structure, setting the groundwork for forthcoming enhancements. Notably, the team's craftsmanship extended to crafting a floorboard texture for settlement houses' interiors using Substance Designer, thereby enriching the immersive in-game environment. Their commitment to authenticity shone through as they delved into researching roof materials and construction methods, ensuring the game's architectural elements exude realism and detail. This multifaceted dedication was mirrored in their crafting of new roofs for settlement structures. Thorough research into Viking roofing techniques was complemented by the creation of a wooden roof shingle material. A pursuit of realism led the team to optimise the polygon count by deftly adjusting geometry and shingle size, culminating in an authentic and efficient visual solution. The environment team's tireless efforts and dedication to quality were evident throughout August, exemplified by their remarkable progress and accomplishments. Examples of their work can be observed below.

Roof shingles as tilable entities

Roof shingles with textures

Wooden beams for settlement buildings

Wooden beams implemented

Animation

The animation team at Depths of Erendorn dedicated their efforts in August to enhancing character animations and spellcasting experiences. They addressed mesh issues between the Gargoyle and Female Elf characters, making substantial progress with the latter, refining her rig and animations. Their focus on spellcasting included refining existing spells and exploring new animations inspired by real-world references to diversify the magical gameplay experience. Additionally, they upgraded the human sorceress female character's rig, refined skin weights, and experimented with dynamic bones to improve animations, resulting in a more natural aesthetic. Overall, their August work showcased commitment to creating engaging and diverse animations.

Gargoyle Mesh conflict

Elf run cycle

Elf Initiate with rig and cloak

Dynamic spellcaster animations

New dynamic animations with cloth physics

Visual Effects

Throughout the month of August, the VFX team at Depths of Erendorn demonstrated a remarkable array of accomplishments and innovations. Their creative endeavors spanned various dimensions of development, including brainstorming future effects for concept art. Leveraging their inventive prowess, the team envisioned captivating visual elements that promise to enrich the game's immersive experience. Addressing technical intricacies, the team efficiently resolved issues related to arrow projectiles, ensuring seamless and accurate in-game mechanics. An equally significant achievement was witnessed as they embarked on a comprehensive enhancement of dungeon portals, infusing them with novel and improved visual dynamics. Further augmenting their contributions, the team dedicated their talents to refining the visual impact of magical "gloves," seeking to replicate the impactful spell preparation effect seen in certain contexts. Examples of their contributions can be observed below.

New portal effects in action

Updated portal effects still

Side view of updated portal effects

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

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