Weekly DevLog: Abilities, Abilities, Abilities

September 28, 2020
November 18, 2021

In this devlog, we’re creating new shatter vfx, texturing Beastmasters, and planning a longship-inspired fire pit. In between all that is a ton of ability work, including new animations, improved functionality, and a new Damage Reduction mechanic. For daily updates on Depths of Erendorn, check us out on Instagram, Twitter or Reddit - now let’s get into it!

3D Modelling

Texturing The Beastmasters In Substance Painter

After finishing off the sculpts of the Beastmasters in our last devlog, our 3D Character Artist finally got to move on to texturing these characters. As a result, both the Hardened Beastmaster (an enemy in the game) and the generic Beastmaster (an enemy as well as playable character) are clad in fur boots and tan leather tunics.

To create the fur on these pieces, fur planes were used:

  • We made the planes by painting the fur and opacity map on an area of the texture
  • We then modelled and unwrapped the planes so that they lined up with the painted fur
  • This also let us change the position and/or scale of the plane’s UVs to create some variance in the displayed fur texture

Other details we decided to add to the Beastmasters’ clothing include:

  • An embossed leather paw print on the chest strap
  • Rope detailing around the leather gauntlets
  • Metal studs going along the belts
  • A padded gambeson underneath the tunic
  • Subtle stitching down the centre of the tunic

To distinguish the Hardened Beastmaster, a glorious green cape was textured and a necklace made of animal teeth was added (don’t worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this adornment). We also decided to add some simple line patterns to this character’s tunic, which is significantly longer than its lower-level counterpart.

These are the finished textures for the playable Beastmaster
These are the finished textures for the Hardened Beastmaster

Animating Talent Abilities

This week, the animation for ‘Summon Geyser,’ a generic skill available for all playable characters, was created for the Watertarg Excursionist. This ability basically lets you target a 3x3 tile area and deal Damage to all enemies within that area. It also reduces their Resilience for 1 turn, so the Damage will affect them more.

Our Animator is currently working on more talent animations for the Watertarg, as well as the Twilight Elf Assassin. Talents are signature skills and/or spells that a player can choose to customise their character with, allowing you to play the way you want. We’ll be creating more animations for all the different characters over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.


These are the WIP animations for the Watertarg's version of 'Summon Geyser'

Environment Design

Who remembers the ornamental trim we were working on last devlog? Well, as a recap, we’re basically using this to add Nordic carvings onto various wooden and metal assets in our UE4 settlement. This week, we applied it to a fair few props, which has really enhanced and unified the aesthetic of the settlement.

We also decided to make the fire pit in the Guard House more of a hero asset, since it’s the centrepiece of the room. Players will be able to congregate around fire pits like these - so, to make it feel grand, we’re going to remodel it so that it has a similar silhouette to a longship, which is both quintessentially Viking and very eye-catching. We feel the need to mention at this point that we aren’t creating a Viking settlement for the game - rather, we’re just borrowing a few Nordic design elements in order to hammer home to the player that they're exploring an ancient world.

We haven’t started modelling the new fire pit just yet, but our Environment Artists have been busy concepting ideas for it and exchanging notes. So far, we like the idea of having carved dragon heads on either side of the pit, so we’re gonna flesh this out a bit more and see where it takes us.

These are the very first iterations of our longship-inspired fire pit
This is what our current fire pit looks like

These are examples of how the Nordic carvings look on props in the UE4 Guard House:

If you follow us on socials, you’ll also know that our Concept Artist recently finished concepting a new door for our settlement buildings. It may sound boring, but these pieces will bring a lot of gusto and grandiosity to our architecture: flanked by wooden dragon heads, and featuring intricate Nordic carvings, these doors are more like pieces of art than they are structural necessities.

With the concepts finished, our Environment Artists have now created the base mesh for these settlement doors, UV mapped it, and started retopologising the dragon heads. Stay tuned to see how they turn out!

This is the concept art for the new settlement doors

Creating New Shatter VFX

Our VFX Artist has been working on a new material for shatter effects this week. This will be used to enhance current abilities that involve a strike or slash or similar impact. The new effect appears as randomised pieces of shattered glass. We’ve only tested it on the Forest Druid so far, but we’ll hopefully be applying it to more characters and abilities soon!

Implementing Ambient Sounds

This week, our Sound Artist worked on some vocalisations for the Vampire Bat, as well as made some hit sounds for the one- and two-handed mace. These were then added to the engine for testing.

Also, excitingly, the first initial ambient sounds were implemented into the game this week (hooray). We’ve already spoken about how our Sound Artist recorded and manipulated these, so you can check that out in this past devlog if you’re curious, so all they really had to do this week was mix them. Ambience will be added to our dungeons in order to make them feel more immersive and realistic.


Ambient Sound Implementation

As we just mentioned, one of the tasks for our Programmers this week was to work with our Sound Designer on implementing static ambient audio to cave levels. Doing this has prompted further implementation of the Environment Profiles system, which was worked on during the environment-focussed sprints a while ago:

  • We added the ability to create Biome and Floor profiles for storing collections of settings, which will determine how floors will be generated
  • Biome Profiles can hold numerous Floor Profiles, and refer to all kinds of environments that could be built in the first area of the game
  • Floor Profiles are intended to hold any settings or assets that are made available to any room being built during any game. Ambience is stored here as it doesn’t change room-to-room. Floor Profiles also include the Room Profiles mentioned before.

Bug Fixing

This week, we were planning on continuing our implementation of Movement Abilities, but unfortunately this has been delayed due to an error that occurred. Yes, we’ve been infiltrated by yet another bug, this time one that's blocking the Action Director and preventing it from updating. This prompted the need for a few debug options across all Manager and Step classes, including:

  • The option to generate more verbose logs, relating to any class we choose to generate them from
  • The option to suppress logs, i.e. prevent them from being generated, in order to allow us to free the output log from debug spam caused by classes that work reliably
  • The option for a number of steppers to override their base functionality when unable to access the information needed to perform their action
  • The latter allows the gameplay loop to continue, which prevents games from grinding to a halt when a single stepper is missing some key information
This is the new material we've created for shattering effects
Here we've tested it with the Forest Druid's 'Gutting Wound' ability

Abilities & In-Game Equipment

We also spent a lot of time working on and bug fixing a few abilities this week. ‘Crystallic Preservation’, for example, which will be an available talent for the Parakaw Astromancer, is now able to heal at the end of the status, rather than the start. This was made possible by the addition of a new Status Trigger point, which basically means we’re able to have effects trigger when a status ends.

In addition to this, more functionality was added to abilities that require players to avoid getting attacked for x number of turns. We also introduced a Damage Reduction mechanic so that we could offer this to players during talent selection. This stat was balanced so that players will only be able to use Damage Reduction on specific damage types, not all of them. We also had to add new stat stacking in order for it to work:

  • Damage reduction stacks differently to other stats. It stacks based on the remaining percentage on each stack, making it buildable
  • For example, if you have 0% Damage Reduction and you gain 50% Damage Reduction, the final amount you would have is 50%
  • However, if you have 50% Damage Reduction and you gain a further 50%, the final Damage Reduction will be 75%

Rounding off the week, our Programmers have started work on being able to sell equipment in the game. With a bit more time spent on this next week, it should be possible to sell items directly from your inventory, which is pretty awesome.

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


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