It’s been a crazy month for me (I’ll explain during the next livestream) but I wanted to get this Top Tenish for April out before it gathered too much dust. Please accept my apologies for the delay but family and other matters have kept me rather busy. The good news is that the team has been very busy, as usual, and we have a lot to show off for the past month. Though a number of these items have been covered in our newsletter, there’s a lot more goodness here. When it’s time for the May update, I’ll be there to deliver the livestream as usual. And, if all goes well, I’ll be doing that from the CSE office for the first time in a long time…
Thanks as always for your patience. I hope you enjoyed the newsletter and that this update adds more enjoyment to your weekend.
April 2021 End of Month CU Update (4/30/2021)
- WIP – Design – Giants – Jötnar
- Jötnar have been enabled in-game! They can be created using the character creation flow in the patcher.
- With the introduction of the last of our giant races, we wanted to highlight a few of the unique features that separate these hulking beasts from the rest of the pack. As part of our current milestone, we are revisiting many of the already implemented races, and looking forward to the new ones to make sure that they all have awesome racial abilities and features. For the Jötnar in particular:
- Jötnar grow over time. Characters of all race types will age the more they are played. This age increase is returned as part of their “daily” progression report. For all of our giant races, this increase in age will also translate to an increase in size.
- Jötnar have abilities that are specifically designed for them, including:
- Hibernation: Become frozen in place momentarily. While frozen you are immune to melee attacks and slowly regenerate health and stamina.
- Siege Abilities: As with all of the giant races, the Jötnar are much too large and cumbersome to interact with siege weapons. Instead, we gave them a set of racial abilities allowing them to become siege weapons themselves!
- Frozen Cask: Lobs a frozen projectile filled with ice that deals frost damage in a large area on impact and applies Chill to affected characters slowing their movement.
- Slam: Slams forward for high siege damage.
- WIP – Design – Chests: Chris has finalized the initial design and technical requirements for lootable dropped chests in CU! Soon slaying the local Keep Lord of your enemies will have a chance to drop a chest, rewarding you with, among other things, crafting components. In addition to dropping from kills, there’s a chance you’ll run across chests in the open world. Keep an eye out, you never know what could be hiding behind those bushes or deep in the forest!
- WIP – Design – Caravans: Continued work goes into the design pass of the caravan system based on initial feedback, which Kara hopes to roll out next month.
- WIP – Design – Race Abilities: Design cleanup on racial abilities continues for both remaining classes and classes planned for the future.
- WIP – Design – Movement Updates: Kara and Chris have been hard at work on a new system of movement in CU! The first phase of this system utilizes a re-branding of Stamina and Endurance stats, along with the introduction of a new Vigor and Fortitude stat. Tech is now beginning to test these proposed changes as design moves into the next phases of development. For a deep dive on these initial proposed changes, check out Chris and Kara’s newsletter article in this month’s Dose of Design.
- WIP – Tech – Improved Locomotion: As part of the new movement system, Mike D. is working on an enhancement to our player and NPC locomotion that adds a “fast run” capability. This will allow selected class types to go beyond the normal run speeds. Mike is focusing on the engineering side of ensuring this additional movement state blends seamlessly with walk and run, both for animation and physical motion. Mike and Scott are working together to bring additional special animations online to support this new movement state.
- Done – Tech – AI improvements
- Lee has made a cleanup pass in the AI code to unify and clarify a lot of the behavior variable and parameter names, making future work for both engineers and designers easier. This is part of an ongoing effort to clean up our AI system and expand the breadth and sophistication of behaviors that can be developed moving forward.
- Lee completed the multi-target support upgrade for the NPC system that was WIP last month. NPCs can now have a variety of targets, both for offensive and defensive purposes. They can also now target arbitrary positions in the world, including ground and structure positions, as well as locations that are offset from other entities. All together, these changes allow us to develop more sophisticated combat behaviors that we might use for some pretty impressive new NPCs that will be coming in the future…
- Lee has completed a performance upgrade to the NPC system, particularly focusing on how NPCs gather data about other NPCs as well as players. The new approach greatly reduces the number of queries that are required for NPCs to spatially reason about other entities for the purposes of pathfinding and tactical movement.
- Building on the items above, Lee has used the newly upgraded targeting system to prototype a new boss NPC that can target multiple enemies at once, prioritizing each according to the attack types available to the boss, distance to the enemies, and density of nearby entities. This prototype will be further developed as we test out the system in preparation for incorporation in future updates.
- WIP – Tech – Bug Fixes and Improvements
- Anthony and Chris added the Life Barrier rune to the Helbound, which grants the target a magic shield that takes incoming damage before the target does, effectively preventing a set amount of damage.
- Christina fixed a bug which caused item destroyed triggers to sometimes go off more than once in the overmind. She also upgraded how items can be looked up in the overmind to add additional flexibility for designers.
- Anthony added disruption scripting hooks to existing ability components that were missing it.
- MikeD fixed a bug in which dead body parts could sometimes spin continuously.
- Fixed an issue in the launcher where logging would slowly degrade performance over long periods of time.
- Fixed an issue that was preventing certain health alerts from notifying CSE that something was broken.
- Fixed an issue that was preventing new proxies from being created during server startup.
- Rob fixed several issues with projectile motion, with particular focus on resolving discrepancies between the server and client views of the projectile initial positions at launch, and velocities during flight. The result is cleaner projectile motion that matches intuitive expectations.
- WIP – Tech – Build Pipeline Improvements: Work continues on the framework upgrades we’ve been wanting to do on our stack (from Visual Studio, to .NET, to gcc, to others). We’ve made good headway here this month and are currently in the process of internally testing the work we’ve done. There are still bugs to be found and squashed and more testing to be done, so we’ve probably got a bit more to do here, but it’s nice to hit the testing milestone.
- WIP – Tech – Proxy Improvements: Some recent testing had revealed that certain configurations of our proxies weren’t performing up to our expectations. We’ve got several fixes and improvements in various stages of done; some have already landed on Hatchery, others are currently in review, and yet more are still being worked on. We found some quick but significant performance gains as well as a few edge cases where the proxies were suffering stability issues.
- Done – Tech – Local API Testing Improvements: For a long while it’s been a fairly big pain to set up the various parts necessary to test certain API changes (especially around the launcher) prior to releasing them. We’ve got several improvements in that process to support getting better test coverage before changes to the API servers go live.
- Done – Tech – Server Crash Reporting: Our servers are set up to generate crash reports when they crash so we can hopefully diagnose why they crashed and fix it. Certain configurations of servers were being culled while they were generating these reports and before they could be sent off for analysis. We’ve closed several gaps that the reports were slipping through.
- WIP – Tech – Improved Client-Server Syncing: Because of network latency, a game client and server will always be a little out of sync from one another, which can lead to inconsistencies between what happens in the match and what is shown to the player. For example, there are times when the server will detect that an attack has landed, but the client will not play the sound effects for the hit. Cheyne is working on some improvements that will address some of these inconsistencies, in particular with respect to abilities.
- WIP – Tech – Localized Sky Settings: Wylie is improving our ability to control sky settings from zone to zone. This work means the appearance of the sky, the sun, the scene lighting, and other parameters can be set in a region, and the appearance will blend when you move between these regions.
- WIP – Tech – Weather: We are working on new shader effects to simulate weather in-game, beginning with rain. In addition to the above sky settings work, these shaders will allow us to create, and better control, game atmosphere from region to region.
- Done – Tech – Ambient Lighting: George landed the new lighting model for ambient light and reflections maps early this month. This should eliminate the flat and shiny edged problems seen in many areas with foliage and make reflections on armor, water and other shiny objects look much more realistic.
- Done – Art – Fixes – Torch: Torches are now functional and effective for all realms! Equipping a torch while in the proper weapon set will cause it to actually appear in your hand, at which point it will – get this – illuminate the area around you.
- WIP – Art – Environment – Verdant Forest Zone: Michelle has applied volumetric fog to the Verdant Forest concept zone, showcasing a new atmospheric version of the island for players to explore.
- WIP – Art – Environment – Upgraded TDD Home Island – Eriu: Michelle has also continued upgrades to the TDD home island. This month’s updates include: fixed stuck points, improved visibility through better light placement, cleaner foliage spawning, and smoother pathways. Check out this month’s newsletter for a more extensive list and comparison screenshots of the changes.
- WIP – Art – Points of Interest – Glade of the Failed Heroes: Sierra has started work on a new Point of Interest, the Glade of the Failed Heroes. She has created 3D weapon and armor debris for the not-so-successful heroes of each faction, and has moved onto sculpting the main hero tree at the center of the site.
- WIP – Art & Design & Tech – Dragon’s Web: Now that the majority of the Dragon’s Web item sets have been modeled, the art team is working on animating and applying effects to the transmitter and disruptor kits. At the same time, design and tech are setting up and testing these item kits for players to use in-game soon.
- WIP – Art – Animation – Object Interaction: Scott has created and is currently testing a handful of general use, quality of life animations to upgrade players’ abilities to interact with in-game objects.
- WIP – Art – St’rm: Jon continues work on the St’rm models from last month, finishing textures while Joe creates the skeleton for eventual rigging and animation of the new race.
- WIP – Art – Valkyrie: The Valkyrie are following close on the heels of the St’rm. Jon finished texturing these models this month, allowing us to move forward with rigging and animation once the skeleton the Valkyrie share with the St’rm is good to go.
- WIP – Art & Design – Environment – Golden Plains
- The first test build of the Golden Plains biome is now up and running! Michelle has been hard at work setting up and populating this zone with both existing assets and new pieces created by Joseph and Scout. In this initial pass on the new environment, you’ll find the rolling hills, wildflowers, yew trees, and white-stone crags that make up the biome’s foundation, along with some familiar Arthurian landmarks. Now that the zone is open for backers to explore, we’ll be focusing on building and populating the next wave of assets for one more test build before the biome makes the jump to the Arthurian home island and, eventually, RvR3.
- Joseph and Scout continue to create foliage unique to the Golden Plains biome for inclusion in the next version of the test zone. This list of assets includes more trees, bushes and shrubs, and flower variants that will flesh out the environment and replace any placeholder assets currently in use.
- As part of cleaning up the home islands and streamlining future biome tests, we’ve also adjusted how players are able to access both the Golden Plains zone and the Verdant Forest zone. The Builders Islands portals have been repurposed to connect you to the current biome test zones from one convenient location, with Golden Plains on the far left and the Verdant Forest second from the left. Follow the Biome Concept Zone signs on your home island, or signs pointing towards the Builders Islands, to find this new portal setup and jump into the updated zones.
Now for Some Art Action!
Mentioned above in the Top Tenish, tech has been hard at work developing weather shaders to enhance world atmosphere in CU. Check out the current progress below for the first effect on the list, rain:
Lighting up the darkness, torches have gotten some serious attention with light emission fixes and tweaking for all realms.
Patches of various fog spots within Verdant Forest Concept Zone have been removed and replaced with a wide area atmospheric fog, elevating the mood throughout the day and night cycles.
The TDD home island, Eriu, has also been updated with many fixes applied and improvements made. One major visual improvement is that lamps on the island now emit light, making for a much better (and much more visible) nighttime look.
As for Points of Interest, the Glade of the Failed Heroes is trucking forward. Sierra’s put together some images showcasing some of the weapon debris that will be found in this area.
Animation is carrying the load with new object interaction animations.
The St’rm and Valkyrie are moving through the 3D art pipeline. Check out this and more images of the St’rm in this month’s newsletter.
And here we can really see the Valkyrie taking form:
The new Golden Plains biome has reached the first phase of testing! This month we’re excited to launch the initial test build of the zone, showcasing current progress to players while we continue to create assets, develop terrain, and move into the polish stages of biome production.
So, lots of good stuff there as usual. Personally, I’m happy to see weather make its appearance in our game. I still remember talking with the guys at Mythic about getting weather/day night into Dark Age of Camelot. I hope that you folks have liked what we have showed you with our fog and now rain systems. Once we add snow and true storms, the game will start to feel more like the immersive and living and breathing world we want it to be. All of this, of course, is first steps in getting to Veilstorms. And I’m looking forward to those a lot. I’ve always said that the game continues to get better and better and it does and it will. I hope that the weather systems and the first look at the Golden Plains whets your collective appetites for the stuff that is coming over the summer.
As always, we thank you for your patience and support. Please stay safe and uninfected until we reach the end of the pandemic.