November Devlog | Week #4 | No. 106

November 30, 2020
January 13, 2022

We finished off a lot of stuff last week, including the Fire Salamander, VFX for level 1 abilities, and ambient sounds for the game’s Ice Dungeons. But there were also some new additions: a starting zone was added to the game’s settlement, our Earthen Dwarf has some new sound effects, and UI implementation is underway. For daily updates on our online game in development, head over to our Twitter, Instagram or Reddit - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

Texturing the Fire Salamander

We began and finished texturing the Fire Salamander last week, a process that was all about making this enemy as incandescent and fiery as possible. This came into play with bright, hot veins of lava cracking all over the Salamander’s body, resembling volcanic rocks fissured with magma. Here’s a look at how we pulled it off:

  • From some initial experimentation, we found that it wouldn’t be suitable to use a lava material because the material's veins were quite curvy compared to the straighter, hard edged veins in the Fire Salamander’s concept art.
  • The approach we took instead was to create a lava material composed of solid colours, cover the entire model with it, and hide it with a mask. Then, using several ‘rock crack’ brushes, our 3D Character Artist added in the various cracking details across the model by painting in the mask.
  • With the large lava veins in place, our Artist worked on making the lava glow from beneath the cracks in the skin. This used a similar process as before, except the mask was generated from the skin material that had been made.
  • To add some variation to the subsurface glow, in terms of some areas having a stronger or weaker glow than others, a cloud overlay was added and set to multiply, which created some variation in the mask.

With the texture all finished, our 3D Character Artist did a side-by-side comparison of the Fire Salamander in normal lighting and in shadow. We love how this enemy turned out, and can’t wait to implement it in the depths of Erendorn’s fire dungeons! Check out process shots and the finished model below:

Lava material hiding beneath the surface
Painting in the larger cracks in
Initial glow for the skin cracks
This first pass lacked colour and glow variation
Tweaking the skin cracks mask to give more variation
The final look of the Fire Salamander

Working on New Animations

Our Animator continued working on the animations for the Earthen Dwarf’s Talent Abilities last week. This includes ‘Stone Form,’ which increases your Resilience while reducing your Movement, and ‘Earthly Strike,’ which deals damage to enemies on adjacent tiles, strikes through them and deals even more damage to the enemies behind.

The animations for these abilities have been created with their preexisting VFX in mind - take a look at everything below:

VFX for 'Stone Form
WIP animation for 'Stone Form
VFX for 'Earthly Strike'

WIP animation for 'Earthly Strike'

Environment Design

Adding a Starting Zone to the Settlement

The starting zone for the settlement was built last week. This is the first glimpse players will get of the settlement, so we fleshed it out with some new and improved assets and materials. This includes things like campfires, tents and small wooden shacks.

The starting zone is a bit of a walk away from the settlement - it’s basically a separate area that's a lot more basic than the settlement itself. The idea is that the players spawn in the starting zone then have a short walk towards the main area, giving them time to smell the roses!

Many small scenes like this have been put into blueprints, and will be able to spawn as random events all over the world. Here are some progress shots from UE4:

In addition to creating a new starting zone, our Environment Artists also made adjustments to the terrain material in order to improve distance blending and material colours, as well as totally change the cliff material:

Visual FX

It was a pretty great week for our VFX Artist because, after months of work, they finished creating VFX for every single ability at level 1! They’re now preparing for the future by concepting and working on a couple of abilities for levels 2 and 3.

Concluding our work on level 1 abilities was a set of the Twilight Elf Assassin’s Talents, including:

  • Imitate, which resets the cooldown of your last used abilities
  • Shade of Recuperation, which heals you over three turns
  • Shadow Assault, which allows you to teleport 3 tiles away and attack an enemy 3 times
  • Void Flicker, which teleports you to a random square within a 3 tile range
'Shade of Recuperation'
'Shadow Assault'
'Void Flicker'

Sound Design

Last week was a busy one for sound fx. First and foremost, some in-engine work and bug fixes were made. For example, SFX for wasp attacks now actually sound like a wasp, instead of a strange growl. Similarly, the volume for the ‘Tempest’ ability was fixed, allowing it to kill the enemy and not your ears.

We also finished off the sound effects for the Earthen Dwarf’s level 1 Talent Abilities. This includes the same abilities we mentioned earlier: ‘Stone Form’ and ‘Earthly Strike’. Aside from these pieces of work, our Sound Artist spent much of their time working on the sound fx the game’s UI and Ice Caves.

Aside from these pieces of work, our Sound Artist spent much of their time working on the sound fx the game’s UI and Ice Caves.

Sound FX for UI

Last week, our Sound Artist began working on the in-game UI sounds. The goal here was to make something more interesting than simple button clicks as the player navigates from the menu to the inventory and in-game combat: the UI needs to be designed just as thoughtfully as all other sounds in the game, and needs to reflect the mood, tone, and actions that it represents.

So, to give it as unique a sound as possible, while also echoing the foreboding journey of the players, our Sound Artist used a host of different wooden percussion instruments, like war drums. This is because they created a dark, warlike feel that matched the dungeon crawler style of the game. Not only this, wooden percussion instruments give a hollow, yet forceful and dynamic range of hits, so it was easy to create a lot of different sounds from them.

Cymbals and shakers were also used for the UI sound effects, as well as some vocalisations like breaths and shouts for added variety. The UI sounds are only in their first iteration at the moment, so we’ll show you some updates in the near future!

Sound effects for 'Stone Form'

Ice Cave Ambience

The first Ice Cave ambience has been finished - but there'll be more coming soon! These SFX will be used in the game’s ice dungeons, with the purpose of making them feel more sinister, reverberant, and tangibly cold. Here’s how our Sound Artist approached making ambient sounds for the ice caves:

  • We started by using a bowed cactus, playing a violin bow across cactus spikes
  • This was then ran through a synth to give it a resonant, crystallic sound
  • The octaves were then dropped down to play the deep background bass
  • For the quicker, passing shimmers, the octaves were similarly moved up
  • Our Sound Artist then recorded ice dropping into a glass and being stirred around
  • They also recorded the sound of ice cracking as it touched alcohol - a drop of whisky makes ice splinter, so it's great for recording ice stress and squeals

All of this came together to create the first completed Ice Cave ambience, which you can listen to here:

Ambient sounds for Ice Caves


UI Implementation

After the successful bug fixing we mentioned in last week’s devlog, our Programmers’ focus moved back to UI Implementation:

  • Feedback Messages: These on-screen text messages have been implemented to allow players to better understand why certain actions may not be possible. These messages make use of the notification system previously implemented to allow a record of player messages to be stored. Some examples of potential sources of this message include:
  • Attempting to move with no movement remaining
  • Attempting to move when it’s not your turn
  • Attempting to move an unowned character
  • Using an ability that requires missing Mana/Energy/Targets
  • Using an ability that’s on cooldown
  • Attempting to use an ability that belongs to an unowned character
  • Placeholder Audio: Audio has been implemented for various buttons featured both-in game and on menus. This audio has been implemented to integrate with the Audio Settings functions used with all other sound types.
  • Rich Text Formatting: In order to have better control over the style and appearance of text in Depths of Erendorn, Rich Text components have been explored and implemented. Rich Text allows us to predefine a number of text styles that we can draw upon when displaying text. Not dissimilar to CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) in web development, Rich Text Styles are assigned tags that, when created, can be used within text blocks to mark different sections for different text settings. This gives us a lot of power over how we display information to players and can be used anywhere text appears in game.
  • Rich Text Images: In addition to adding text styles to the project, an Unreal feature for defining Rich Text Images has also been explored and implemented. This feature allows us to define a library of images and their display properties before assigning them a tag that allows them to be embedded within text. Common examples of this would be damage types appearing with their respective icon in an ability's description, or emoticons in a chat message.

Sounds effects for 'Earthly Strike'

Level Generation

Our Programmers also got started on some level generation work last week. As a first step, they ported our Noise Generators from the previous language to the new server code we created. They then added Support for using Noise Generators in level generation, in addition to adding linear interpolation to the new server code, as well as the ability to ready-up on Game Lobbies.

That’s it for this week’s devlog - see you next Monday!


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