Monthly Devlog | May 2023 | No. 52

Development
June 3, 2023
June 14, 2023

Welcome to the monthly development log for Depths of Erendorn! In the month of May, our talented teams have made significant progress in various aspects of the game's development. The 3D modelling team has excelled in completing the retopology and texturing of a new armour set, showcasing their attention to detail and dedication to creating visually captivating designs. The set piece design team embarked on an ambitious project, working on a massive underground cave that promises to be a breathtaking addition to the game's environment. The client-side team focused on enhancing the user experience with new cursors and improvements to the Nav data handling system. The server team dedicated their efforts to addressing gameplay issues, optimising the dungeon experience, and revamping the Nav data for open-world exploration. The audio team accomplished milestones in mastering and implementing remastered abilities, enriching the auditory experience. The environment team achieved significant milestones in refining the ruins' visual quality and destruction mechanics. The animation and visual effects teams made remarkable progress in enhancing character movements, spell-casting animations, enemy animations, and VFX. 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 3D modelling team has made excellent progress during the month of May. They completed the retopology process for the new armour set, focusing on optimising the UV packing to ensure high-quality texture application. By creating a well-optimised UV map, the team aims to reduce texture stretching and distortion while maintaining intricate detail. With the completion of the UV packing, they moved on to the texturing phase, where they added intricate details and high-quality textures to bring the armour to life. Their attention to detail and commitment to creating visually captivating textures resulted in an impressive set of armour. Additionally, the team embarked on an exciting project, working on a Spellcaster-themed armour set. They began with the block-out phase, utilising concept art to create an enchanting and magical design specifically tailored for the mighty spellcasters of Erendorn. Examples of the completed retopology, textures, and block-out can be seen below.

Finalised retopology for the new armour set

UV packing process in progress

Finalised textures for the brand new armour set

Block out for new spellcasters armour

Set Piece Design

The set piece design team has undertaken an ambitious project during the month of May, focusing on the creation of a massive underground cave that seamlessly integrates into the game map. This endeavour requires significant scaling, including a towering ceiling, to accommodate the long-range third-person camera perspective. However, during the scaling process, the team encountered an issue with splotchy shadows appearing on the enlarged cave wall assets. Initially, the solution seemed to involve using multiple smaller assets. However, through innovative problem-solving, the team discovered that adjusting the "Distance Field Self Shadow Bias" in the mesh settings successfully addressed the self-shadowing problem on a grand scale. The first image showcases the issue prior to the fix, while the second image reveals the remarkable improvement achieved. Although still a work in progress, the development of this breathtaking underground cave promises to be a significant addition to the game's immersive environment. Stay tuned for further updates on the progression of this captivating project. Examples of the team's work throughout the month can be seen below.

Shadows before updates

Shadows after update

Programming

Client

Throughout the month of May, the client-side team has been focused on enhancing the user experience (UX) and implementing new features based on user feedback and testing results. They introduced new mouse and world space cursors, providing players with better contextual information during Adventures and Combat. These additions improve clarity and usability within the game. The team also made significant progress in the development of Nav Data handling, saving, and loading. The Nav data system was revamped, with improvements such as splitting data into chunks and allowing for multi-level navigation, enabling the creation of more intricate and realistic environments. The client-side team also worked on UI and UX improvements, including enhanced attack and movement cursors, loading screens, and optimisation for adventure systems. Additionally, they tackled challenges in implementing the new Nav system into the engine, overcoming roadblocks and resolving compatibility issues. The team's dedication and efforts throughout May have resulted in notable improvements to the game's interface, navigation, and overall user experience. Examples of the additional work completed by the client-side team can be seen below.

  • Added Context Cursors and hover functions for Movement and Attacking while your character is selected.
  • Updated Character Occlusion Outlines to only display for players or enemies in active Combat.
  • Implemented the new Movement Cursor VFX to display where party members are moving in their party colour.
  • Implemented the new Ability Targeting VFX to better show selected targets during adventures.
  • Updated ability text to improve tooltip descriptions.
  • Updated Interactable collision detection and visual updating functions to improve readability and interactivity during adventures.
  • Fixed a number of abilities that slipped through the net on the most recent iteration.
  • Started the work on multi-level nav data meaning we will be able to have multi-story navigation which up to now has not been possible.
  • Started a big refactoring of the code related to movement and navigation data.
  • Mapping class created.
  • Mapping functions to detect objects and terrain you can move on creating.
  • Nav manager class created.
  • Added ceiling height to node values.
  • Chunk saving code.
  • Chunk loading code.
  • Node retrieval functions.
  • Helped the server team with testing the quest events.
  • Fixed some of the layout issues with the dialogue window and got player portraits displaying correctly. Some new bugs have been found as part of this, currently patching those.
  • Fixed item deletion events in the player backpack to enable multiple items to be deleted without needing to refresh the backpack.
  • Started implementing a simple tutorial to launch on entering the settlement.
  • Continued assistance with testing quests.
  • Fixed some more clientside bugs with dialogue windows.
  • Added missing code that was causing new dialogue to not be scrolled into focus in certain circumstances.
  • Continued developing a tutorial display and fixed some display issues and conflicts caused by multiple windows showing at once.
  • Improved Basic Attack Cursor swapping when hovering over potential Basic Attack targets.
  • Added Basic Attack Energy cost to the Attack Cursor that pre-calculates whether an attack can be performed and displays the Energy cost, taking free swings and other modifiers into account.
  • Added improved and optimised hover tracing for walkable terrain.
  • Fixed Basic Attack Cost displaying incorrectly in the Stat Panel.
  • Implemented a new loading screen for joining settlements, starting or returning from an Adventure and entering and exiting Dungeons.
  • Created easy-to-apply loading screen functionality for any future uses and improved the execution order of the previously mentioned contexts.
  • Updated the Loading Elements widget to make printing loading milestone messages possible again.
  • Updated how outlines are activated/deactivated for characters out of relevant range from the camera.
  • Reduced the number of ticking Subwidgets for character overhead UI to improve performance when displaying large numbers of entities.
  • Fixed more Ability Tooltip description text tags.
  • Replaced the placeholder Fen Elf character Blueprint.
  • Updated Active Effect Templates to be able to store and use Niagara VFX.

Server

Throughout the month of May, the server team has been dedicated to refining and improving various aspects of gameplay in Erendorn. They focused on addressing issues related to disconnected players in dungeons, implementing a new system where disconnected players' turns are ended and they are removed at the start of the next player's turn, preventing game slowdown. Furthermore, they fixed bugs in adventure events, such as ensuring Wrecked Caravan chests properly open upon defeating the Drovals and making the NPC in the Caged NPC event a random race from the game with a dynamically altered name. The team also worked on revamping the Nav data to enhance open-world gameplay, allowing for seamless exploration without session changes and leveraging the capabilities of Unreal Engine 5 to create a large and immersive environment.

Additionally, they integrated the adventure code with the upcoming Cache service, preparing the codebase for the next phase of development. The server team also dedicated their efforts to bug fixing and improving dialogue mechanics, ensuring dialogue triggers functioned correctly and reducing the occurrence of overlapping conversations. They investigated combat-related bugs, including issues with combat tiles and attack ranges. These extensive efforts by the server team throughout May have contributed to a smoother, more immersive, and polished gameplay experience in Erendorn.

Sound Design

Throughout the past month, our dedicated audio team has achieved significant milestones in enhancing the sound design of our game. They successfully completed the mastering process for the Generic Skills, ensuring a refined and polished audio experience. In the current phase, the team is fully engaged in implementing the remastered abilities into the game engine. This stage involves meticulous attention to detail, as they carefully listen and fine-tune the equalisers (EQs) and dynamics of the audio elements. By striving for optimal balance and seamless integration, the team ensures that our players will be immersed in a rich and captivating auditory landscape. The audio team's commitment to delivering enhanced sound experiences greatly contributes to the overall gameplay quality, capturing the essence of each ability with finesse. Take a moment to appreciate some examples of the audio work accomplished throughout the month below.

Environment Art

Over the course of the month, the environment team has achieved significant milestones in the development of the ruins, focusing on both their visual quality and destruction mechanics. To enhance the realism of the crumbling structures, the team implemented a fracturing system that progressively increased the frequency of fractures, creating a more authentic and immersive environment. Additionally, the team integrated new material functions and textures, including a vertex blending function that allowed for the seamless blending of different textures and the creation of realistic moss. They also explored the addition of blending layers for wall cracks, damage, and chipped plaster, further enhancing the ruins' appearance. The team's dedication to detail is evident in their creation of supplementary pieces using the ruins kit, ensuring a consistent and captivating visual experience throughout the game world. Furthermore, advancements in the destruction system for larger structures were made, utilising nanite detail-level modular pieces and Chaos fields, which offer powerful tools for decaying structures within specific volumes. These developments contribute to a more dynamic and immersive environment in Depths of Erendorn. We invite you to witness the progress made by the environment team through the following examples showcased below.

Castle ruins in engine

Moss and smoothing were added to the Castle Ruins

Animation

Throughout the month of May, the animation team has made significant progress in refining character movements and animations to enhance the overall gameplay experience. They focused on improving the run cycles by adding more exaggeration to the movements, preventing them from feeling flat and injecting visual appeal into the animations. The team dedicated time to testing and adjusting these changes until the movements felt just right, ensuring a natural and enjoyable running experience for players. Updates were also made to the Zentragal character's run cycles, with careful attention to bounce, speed, and balance. Thorough testing and refinement were carried out to create a more satisfying running experience. Spell-casting animations were refined, improving timing, smoothness, and visual appeal, enhancing the immersion of magical abilities. The animation team also worked on enhancing the walk animations for enemies, making them faster and more dynamic, and began implementing Group 3 creatures, specifically insects, to introduce diversity and challenge in combat encounters. The dedication and commitment of the animation team are evident in the elevated quality and immersion of the character movements and enemy animations. Examples of the team's achievements throughout the month can be observed in the showcased videos below.

Updated Forest Druid run

Zentragal walk update

Forest Druid spell update

Parakaw run cycle update

Updates to Group 3 enemies

Visual Effects

Throughout the month of May, the visual effects team has been hard at work addressing issues and enhancing the VFX based on valuable insights gained from playtesting. They have dedicated their efforts to fixing bugs and improving buffs related to visual effects, ensuring a seamless and immersive gameplay experience. Additionally, the team has focused on creating new VFX for the targeting circles, exploring various ideas to elevate the visual impact and effectiveness of gameplay mechanics. Extensive research has also been conducted on converting legacy Cascade emitters into Niagara emitters, a technique aimed at optimising efficiency and compatibility with the latest game engine. These advancements in VFX not only resolve issues but also contribute to a more cohesive game world. Examples of the new VFX and conversion techniques developed by the team throughout the month can be observed in the showcased visuals below.

Updated targeting circles

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

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