Bye Bye Summer and Hello to the Fall – Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

Folks,

As the summer in this part of the world quickly passes into memory, we have an update which is a good accompaniment to the changing of the seasons. Lots of bug fixes, lots of performance improvements, lots of new armor, and soon the Giants trio will be making their full debut for Camelot Unchained. If all goes well tomorrow with testing, we’ll also have a new version of the game for a 24/3 test this weekend. It’s been a summer that both felt too short and in some ways, way too long but such is life living in CoronaWorld. I hope you enjoy what you see in the update and hopefully many of you will join us for our next test. After doing so, please join us on the Forums to talk about things. If you haven’t been there in a while, there’s a lot of interesting discussions going on these days about the game’s features/systems/etc.

Be sure to check out this month’s stream with Mark here! Part One Part Two

And let’s get into the highlights of what’s been happening this month!

Top Tenish for September 30th, 2020

  1. WIP – Tech – Dragon’s Web Upgrades – Chris and Christina have been working on the Dragon’s web. Including:
    1. Integrating the Dragon’s Web with the battleground zone
    2. New placement options and restrictions for items
    3. Adding dragon’s web stats to the item tooltips
    4. A new plot shield item, which is functional but is awaiting additional support.
  2. Done – Tech – Warband Fixes and upgrades – Players can now interact with members of their warband from the warband menu. This also addresses issues including not being able to kick offline members off of your warband and not having the warband UI update when expected.
  3. Done – Tech – Crafting upgrades
    1. Chris and MJ made various changes to gathering crafting materials to speed up the harvest process
    2. Upgraded Make Recipe support – Christina upgraded support for the make recipes to allow for both specific ingredient and general ingredient requirements. The make recipes themselves will be updated shortly to use this new feature.
    3. Christina moved item stat calculation scripts into a new location to allow design to more easily iterate on item and crafting balance.
  4. WIP – Tech – Giants work
    1. Continued scripting work on giants to add in the last few remaining traits and abilities on the first pass list
    2. Koo has created icon art for the Golem traits and abilities
    3. Chris had performed an initial balance pass on all the giant’s traits and abilities
    4. Christina hooked up giants in the patcher, they’ll be turned on once the rest of their art and animations comes in
  5. Done – Tech – Various Bug Fixes
    1. Colin fixed an issue where doors were not rebuilding in the battleground zone
    2. Spidey fixed an issue where manual aiming was not clamping to the available rotation range for siege engines
    3. Anthony fixed up which classes have which combat related stances, all our fighter archetypes now have 2 special stances to choose from instead of the standard combat stance.
    4. Anthony fixed an issue with swapping weapons while playing a song with the minstrel
    5. Judd fixed issues with the inventory UI not counting all your items correctly and not updating correctly
    6. Fixed issues that were causing stone healer stones and fountains to not heal.
    7. Fixed an issue where Blessed Crows could not target their cauldrons when not at the same height as the cauldron
    8. Fixed an issue where some items did not show their item name in the HUD when targeted
    9. Fixed issues with keep lords spawning in the walls
    10. Fixed an issue where trap items were going off too late after being triggered
    11. Fixed an issue which caused the client crash when interacting with your ability bar in certain ways as well as another issue which caused the ability bar to not be functional
    12. Fixed an issue that was breaking adding models to magical projectiles (only VFX were working)
    13. Fixed an issue in the user proxies that was causing it to leak sockets as players disconnected
    14. Fixed various issues that would cause timeouts or delays within the WebAPI server
  6. Done – Tech – Disruption added to abilities – Anthony did a big pass over the existing CU abilities, adding in disruption hooks to many that are meant to apply disruption.
  7. Done – Tech – Overmind Upgrades – Christina added various new tech to the overmind including:
    1. The ability to grant multiple pieces of loot
    2. Support to remove tags from entities
    3. Knowing which entities are nearby or on a plot
    4. Knowing when spawn points are used and by who
  8. Done – Tech – Build Pipeline Improvements – We’ve recently made some significant changes to our continuous integration pipeline to break up the various steps and stages so that we can get better feedback on when and where problems happen. This also lays groundwork for subsequent work which will allow us to reuse builds when moving between branches and shards so that we have more consistent builds.
  9. Done – Tech – Remote Config Improvements – Many of our data stores are separated between “live” and “development” so that if anything we’re working on in dev takes out the data store then live is unaffected. Some of our code and scripts weren’t great at respecting these divisions and have been improved to make live servers more durable and reliable. We’ve also finally rolled out remote configs to all of our services on all of our shards.
  10. WIP – Tech – Editor Improvements – Much of the editor was written before we had a good grasp of the assumptions and requirements of the frameworks we were using. We’ve been making broad strokes here in bringing our code inline with the framework to improve stability and general workflow for our content creators.
  11. WIP – Tech – WebAPI Split – For a long time now our WebAPI service has served data for both the patch client and the shard it was tied to. The problem with this is those two sets of data have different requirements and scopes. The patcher content lives outside of shards, the shard content is specifically tied to a single shard. The stability and scalability of both the patcher content and the shard content has suffered because it tried to be everything for everyone. We’ve started the work to split these out into two separate services that get built and deployed differently.
  12. Done – Tech – Service Discovery Improvements – Some of our servers expose multiple endpoints; for instance the game server opens a port to allow physics, proxies, webapi, and multiple other services to connect to it. Similarly there are multiples of some services that serve slightly different contents. For instance “Hatchery” has multiple game servers; one for each of the home islands, one for the contested zone, one for the RvR battleground, etc. We’ve improved service discovery to support exposing multiple endpoints per server and to select the correct variant of a service.
  13. WIP – Tech – Library/Platform Standardization – When we transitioned our servers to support Linux some of our projects had to straddle a few versions of the .NET Framework as we moved things around. Now that the dust has settled we’re doing some work on only targeting the specific versions of the frameworks that we need. This reduces build time and complexity, allowing us to make builds faster with fewer variables to test.
  14. Done – Tech – Game Server Health Tracking – Until this change we didn’t have a good single way of determining if a game server was healthy. We’d imply it based on the quality of logs and metrics we were receiving. We’ve started tracking general “healthy or not” data to better empower us to assess the state of a shard and to start teaching our Server Instance Allocator how to deal with unhealthy instances (sometimes we want to kill them, sometimes we want to quarantine them so we can study them later) and also self-heal when they happen.
  15. Done – Tech – New NPCs – Anthony completed scripting on the new guards, archers, healer, and worker NPC. These should be showing up in the battleground zone shortly.
  16. Done – Tech – Ability Upgrades – Rob added several ability system upgrades including:
    1. Fixing up issues with reloading data files, massively speeding up debugging and balance iteration for abilities.
    2. Upgraded channeled abilities to be able to Repeat-until-out-of-resource
    3. Fixed up removing trigger volumes so that scripting properly goes off when the volume expires
  17. Done – Buildings – Updated buildings from the Builder’s Brigade – The Builder’s Brigade keeps finding ways to outdo themselves, creating amazing upgrades to the buildings in the battleground zone.
  18. Done – Tech – NPC Improvements – Spidey and Colin have added a whole bunch of new NPC improvements
    1. NPC will now use new Line of sight tech
      1. ranged NPCs will attempt to move closer in order to get line of sight before firing
      2. all npcs will now balance their prioritization of targeting based on closest vs line of sight
    2. NPCs using siege engines improvements
      1. NPCs will use different targeting priorities based on the type of siege engine being used (scorpions prefer shooting people over buildings, trebs prefer buildings over people, etc)
      2. NPCs who cannot find a siege engine to use will switch to a new behavior. This way if no siege engine is available, at least they’ll still attack
    3. NPC abilities can now be marked with min and max ranged, allowing behaviors to better choose abilities based on ranges to target
  19. WIP – Tech/Art – CUBE
    1. New Realm Doors – Importing nine new faction themed doors have been added (3 per faction),. These can already be seen on some of the buildings in the battleground zone.; Also thanks to the amazing Builder’s Brigade art has made adjustments based on feedback to these door assets.
    2. Zone – South Island – Terrain for South Island zone has been repaired and saved from the scattering of black holes.
  20. WIP – Tech – Pathfinding – MikeD and Lee are in the final stages of completing the pathfinding architecture. They are focusing on the final details in a new tile-based approach that allows for robust handling of large-scale, complex 3D geometry in dynamic situations like building destruction. With internal testing demonstrating successful operation in a variety of situations, we are expecting to finally bring this system to life in the coming weeks.
  21. Done – Tech – Improvements to Lighting & Shaders – We put some very focused attention on the places that shaders didn’t look so great. Things don’t look “wet” when you view them at glancing angles. Building materials in particular show much better lighting!
  22. Done – Tech – Building Performance Improvements – As the number and complexity and detail of player-created buildings has increased, client performance in the major RvR zones has decreased. This was purely about the number of triangles; no rendering engine or graphics card draw that many triangles any faster. So the solution is LESS TRIANGLES!
    1. We’ve got an all-new system to generate low-complexity versions of the buildings. Past a certain distance, you can’t tell exactly what material or shape a particular block is — it’s just a particular color at a pixel. The new trick is to make a coarser version of the building, with 1-meter blocks replacing 2×2×2 sections of eight high-detail blocks. Each new coarse block is represented only as an average color of the combined blocks. Because there’s no material or shape data, that entire coarse building can be converted into a super-efficient triangle mesh using old-school vertex coloring instead of textures. At a distance, it looks pretty close, but it removes literally tens of millions of triangles from our scenes, and that helps lower-end video cards a lot.
    2. We’ve rebuilt the way that the client combines blocks into a mesh. Some old hastily-written code would accumulate the geometry of each block and remove pieces that faced the inside of a wall. This worked fine for completely-filled cubes, but when block shapes were more complex it left hidden triangles, or even worse caused gaps in the building. Our new technique takes a different approach. Instead of removing unused pieces, we pre-load a table with the perfect intersections every combination of shapes and orientations. As buildings get updated, we quickly grab the correct results by simply comparing a block’s shape with its neighbor’s, and directly produce a complete building without any internal facing geometry. This saves triangles on its own, but that even wasn’t the biggest motivation for this change. The bigger win is to provide the mesh simplifier with a much more friendly data. There were cases where excess internal faces and edges would prevent the visible faces from merging into fewer larger triangles. Now when you’re standing up close to a building, there are fewer triangles for your graphics card to draw, and that means more FPS.
    3. We’ve always loved our long sweeping vistas. As players have built increasingly complex buildings, the number of tiny objects like torches had become a drain on performance. There’s a new system to VERY efficiently skip drawing objects whose on-screen size would be too small. This eliminates 95+% of objects in the far distance, giving us the performance of a short draw distance without sacrificing our long horizons. There’s no screenshot for this, because you can’t actually tell!
  23. WIP Done – Tech – Rendering & Performance Stuffs – Improvements to lodding and impostor system. Fix for cube material normals causing incorrect lighting. Changed the lighting shaders to fix the look of ambient reflections in shadows (wet look). Work on building performance is in progress and landing soon, this includes building lodding, improvements to building meshing and simplification.
  24. WIP – Art & Design – Dragon’s Web – Concept art continues to develop for unique features and assets to be brought to life on the battlefield.
  25. Done – Art – Giants – All armor sets relating to the Arthurian Giant, base nudes and underlayers have been rigged and imported into our editor as well as shared animations have been retargeted. LODS for both TDD male and female along with Viking male and female are set. As well as TDD light and medium armor LODS. Rigging for those is well underway! Not only that but concept art also has been developed for upcoming unique giant abilities.
  26. WIP – Art – Spirit Mage Classes
    1. TDD – Morrigan – As concept art developed for this class there was discovery of better opportunities. Design and art are working hand in hand to bring some exciting revisions to originally made concepts. While collaborating together the Morrigan is soon to have a narrowed down final design.
    2. Arthurian – Dreadcaller – With strong direction from design, concept is moving full force knocking out related art for this dark and unique class.
  27. WIP – Art – VFX – Master of Sparkles (Cross) has been hard at work fulfilling VFX needs for the latest classes and CU features. Additional work on various fixes for Blessed Crow and their cauldron spells have also been updated.
  28. WIP – Art – Environment
    1. Terrain – Much of the focus for this month has been on enhancing the features related to performance. Such as but not limited to adjusting terrain spawns and repairing terrain tear line issues. On that front, aesthetic work has been the primary focus with various assets, materials, forest generation, local grass density, terraces and transitions as well as efforts on cliff side visuals!
    2. Map Development – Design and art are once again working hand in hand as we build out concepting for the new Dragon’s Web features. We’re also terraforming aspects regarding the RvR map, and adding elements of gameplay with 3D visuals for Points of Interest (such as the development of the first PoI ships/shipwrecks).

Time for some Arts!

We shall start off strong for the end of this 90days with finishing out the Arthruian and TDD 3D renders on all things attire! Here we have the Arthruian cloth set that didn’t make it into the last Top Tenish.

Along with the Abbot set that was also fixed up for the Golem!

Then we have the assortment of Tuatha Dé Danann outfits! The undergarments! Or Padded Underthings?─Yeah, we’ll go with that!

Here is the Tuatha Dé Danann renders for the foliage inspired light leather set!

Showing off the medium armors sets now for a fall leaf appeal!

The TDD don’t fool around, so here are the Dark Fool male and female sets that are fresh off the render plate!

Then we have the Blessed Crow flying on in!

Onwards to heavy gear! Though if you’re looking for more, be sure to check out the newsletter for armor renders and all things Jötnar!

And lastly, on giants. Based on the work that was being done for the Giants abilities (concept passes can be found in the newsletter!), Koo put in some time to make sure we had UI icons to go with!

Over in the Concept world, Tinasaurus the Monstrous Modelerbane (Tina) has again been up to her wicked ways in concepting out some Abominations for the Morrigan Class. Please check out the newsletter on everything related to the Morrigan updates!

As mentioned above in the Top Tenish, there were some issues popping up with large abyssal black spots on the south side of the map. As cool as the Depths bubbling up to the surface would be, that wasn’t the intention! So we’ve patched that up.

That all for now from Artland, needing more? Check out the newsletter! But otherwise, Stay turned for October Updates! We’re making the ‘call’ and think it will be a DREADful delightful one!

As I said, a nice big update! And if you haven’t gotten our newsletter yet, you’ll see even more art, a new lore story written by Kara, and an informative Dose of Design with Kara/Chris talking about the evolution of the Morrigan class. But wait, there’s more but you’ll have to open the newsletter to see it! 🙂

As always, we thank you for your support, patience and, as always, please stay safe, uninfected, and be kind to others during our stay in CoronaWorld.

– Mark

Camelot Unchained