Welcome to the end of the month update for March, 2020! We know that even without living in the world as it today, it’s been a time of stress and doubt for many of our Backers. I hope that this update shows just how committed the team is to delivering on our stated goals for Camelot Unchained of delivering a great RvR game. If you saw today’s livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xTJDAr0ei8&t=143s), you already know this but if you haven’t, be prepared for a cornucopia of delights that include everything from art to design to tech, including bringing in an “Extender” goals ahead of launch, including the Spirit Mages (https://camelotunchained.com/v3/stretch-goals/spirit-in-the-sky-extender-pack-plus-1/) and Scouts (https://camelotunchained.com/v3/stealth-unchained-our-next-stretch-goal-and-so-much-more-pictures/). Thus, without further ado, today’s Top Tenish or, in this case, Top Thirty-Six.
Top Tenish for March 31st, 2020
- WIP – Tech – Ragdoll Updates and Fixes: Mike D. has completed a second phase of improvements for our new Ragdoll system. Most significantly, the system has been updated to incorporate a selection of skeletal constraints that prevent entities from folding into blobs of limbs. Instead, the system now produces a more realistically constrained range of motion between limbs, head, and torso. Enabled by this, ragdoll entities now collapse more realistically into an infinite variety of poses upon death. We also improved ragdoll versus ground interactions where ragdoll bodies previously would flatten out on the ground and remain flat even after getting pushed around or knocked back up in the air. This has been fixed, such that body parts in motion more realistically indicate the aesthetic of momentum you’d expect as they get knocked around. Also fixed is corpse sliding where dead bodies no longer slide across the terrain like frozen sacks of meat on ice. While they still fly through the air when hit with sufficient force, they will now thud to the ground and come to a stop into a final morbid pose. Lastly, some key optimizations have been made that reduce the cost of running ragdoll simulations for dead entities, freeing up client CPU cycles for other animation needs.
- WIP – Tech – Pathfinding: Progress continues steadily with our navigation mesh system, as Lee’s focus on the complexities of interior spaces has led to some solid gains in our ability to support user-generated keeps and other structures. During internal testing of the system, we have successfully generated paths leading through the halls and stairways of some of our multi-level test zones. This is a significant milestone in supporting NPC movement in the sophisticated environments we and our players are creating. With most of the major complexities solved, Lee’s attention now turns to hunting down and fixing the various special cases in 3D pathfinding that we need to address in order to offer a complete, robust, and high-performing system serving all our needs.
- WIP – Tech and Art – In-game Scenario Map: Koo worked on the layout work for the scenario map for the upcoming CU scenario. Christina and Matt put code in place to ensure the client has all in the information that it needs to display the new map.
- WIP – Design – The 24×3 Scenario: This month we have done a lot of work toward finishing the CU Battleground Scenario, including:
- Design for Keep Lords and other defensive NPCs with new abilities and behaviors.
- Preparing plots for the Builder’s Brigade to provide new Keeps and Towers they have built.
- Scenario scripting which will manage the ownership of objectives, provide notifications to players when objectives are under attack, and display updates on the map so that it is easy for players to see the state of the zone at a glance.
- WIP – Tech – Improved Siege engine interactions: There are new visuals and better interaction indicators made by Mike C. which now make siege engines aligned with the ground instead of the billboard. This helps show WHERE interactions are. New visuals for interaction TYPE allows players to see the difference between different locations on battering rams, but all interactions can have a different in world visual icon based on the interaction type. So again with the rams, you can tell the difference between the “push” locations and the “use abilities” location. And now when hovering over entities for interactions, an entity with multiple interaction points (see battering ram) will show off its interaction points, not just the one you are currently hovering over. As before, when you are at a valid usable range to an interaction, and hovering over it, the icon will change from white/grey to yellow/gold to indicate it is valid to be used. Lastly, when interacting with an entity that has multiple interaction points (see battering ram), we improved the desired interaction picking to allow taking into account player position.
- WIP – Tech & Design – Trap Item: Camelot Unchained was always meant to have a dedicated class for crafters. As a part of this class, one of the important features was to allow them to create traps, which, along with other field fortifications, could allow them to control space on the battlefield in support of allied combatants. While crafters eventually will be able to actually craft traps with various effects, as an initial offering, the Scrapwork Trap ability lets crafters cobble together a trap from whatever spare materials they may be carrying in order to lay down a trap without taking time to craft one ahead of time. The effects of this trap depend on the materials it was made from, so crafters can use whatever they happen to have on hand, or make sure to carry a specific type of material so that they can use it to create a trap should the need arise.
- Since the full crafter class is still not implemented in CU, for now the ability to create traps, along with all existing crafting functionality, will be available to all classes of all Realms. Once more of the functionality for crafters is ready, we will be opening up the ability to create a dedicated character of the crafter class, and limiting these features so that only dedicated crafters can utilize them.
- WIP – Tech & Design – Soul Essence Shards: For a long time Mark has wanted to use the idea of “Souls” in Camelot Unchained in some way. Eventually souls are meant to be used in some form of crafting, but since we already have an easy-to-use feature for dropping and collecting items in Final Stand: Ragnarok, we decided it might be fun to add a temporary version of Soul pickups to Camelot Unchained for some initial testing. Right now the design is that when players die they will drop Soul Essence, which can then be picked up by the enemy player who killed them. These Essences will increase the health, damage, and healing power of the player who picks them up for a limited time, and the player who died will lose the same thing for the same duration. For now this feature should help provide an extra incentive for killing enemies, as well as extra motivation to avoid dying.
- WIP – Tech & Design – Spawn Protection Bubble: Spawn camping is always a concern in PvP games, and has been a problem in past CU testing, simply because we haven’t had time to build a feature for preventing it. We’ve taken advantage of some of the engine’s new features to provide a spawn protection effect around the starting spawn points of each Realm in our new scenario zone. This effect will benefit allies and penalize enemies, reducing damage to those it protects, and causing feedback damage to any enemy who damages them. This means that if you decide to spawn camp, you are very likely to kill yourself as soon as you start damaging your targets.
- WIP – Tech – Item Instance Support: This feature allows some items to render more efficiently on the client.
- WIP – Tech – Channeling Tech: The basis of this tech has been made but we need to put it to the test against abilities in-game. That is the next step for this tech! We have implemented them against Song abilities and hope that in future playtests we can gather more feedback on the user experience and any potential bugs in that space.
- WIP – Tech – Trigger Volumes Tech: We’ve made additions to trigger volumes such that they can now move with an entity. This will likewise need to be tested against real abilities in-game as it has not yet been implemented on any actual abilities thus far. We expect cool and fresh things to come for the future of abilities with this tech as well as the channeling tech above.
- WIP – Tech – Ability Bar Customization: Players will be able to have multiple ability bars and move them into groups. Abilities can be added and removed from the ability book for more customization.
- WIP – Tech – Warband overhaul: We’re getting warbands into a fully functioning state with safeguards against future regressions on the system. It should be faster, more reliable, and provide an easy way to update in the future.
- WIP – Tools – Content Pipeline Changelists: The content pipeline is distributed and able to update assets in real time. This is a blessing for fast iteration and allows many people to contribute assets all at once but we don’t always know where all of those assets come from. Changelists is a system to allow us to track assets changes and apply them to shards in batches allowing us to keep the fast iteration while also having a history!
- WIP – Tech – Server Orchestration P1: Containers and Discovery: Server orchestration is an all encompassing concept around deploying, managing, removing, connecting, and monitoring servers. CU has many disparate servers each with their own needs and as we’ve grown the number of them, we need to be sure we have good tools in place to manage them. To this end, we’re starting off with containerizing our servers which allows us to host them cheaper and more reliably and adding in service discovery which allows our servers to communicate with each other without every server having to know where every other server is located.
- WIP – Tech – Server Performance and Production Readiness: As we push further to live, our shared server tech has many operational requirements to meet. Part of that is our ability to monitor servers and collect effective logs so we’ve been iterating on the format and information our server logs give us and effective ways to store and process them. We’ve also been increasing and differentiating the kind of telemetry we do on each server to make sure we have a good understanding of the health of our servers.
- WIP – Tech – NPCs: In addition to making the wyvern behave like a real NPC, we are looking towards more immersive interaction with NPCs in general across a CU scenario. Having NPCs patrol particular routes and achieving goal based movement are the current steps we are taking towards their behaviors.
- WIP – Tech and Gameplay – Keep Lords: We’ve made a lot of progress on Keep Lords, including adding new overmind features in order to control them, new AI behaviors, and their own set of special abilities.
- WIP – Tech – Projected Particles: The projected particles code has been brought out of our backlog. As a recap this lets us cast particles onto meshes, causing the effect to wrap smoothly around uneven surfaces.
- WIP – Gameplay – Scenario Progress: First pass scripting of the CU scenario is in a good state as we move forward on building out the environment and feel of the map. Technical development of Keep Lords, as stated before, is moving forward. We are full steam ahead with realm keeps and NPC behavior which have been implemented. The full core scenario loop is really coming together and we are moving quickly to get those assets into the map so that testing in earnest can begin.
- WIP – Tech & Design – Progress on the Devout Classes: All of the non-resurrection Runes (the components that specify effects) are drafted. A majority of Shapes (components that specify delivery of Runes) are done, but we found that some components will need larger tech improvements and be revisited in the future. What remains (Infusions, Foci, and something called Modals for the Helbound) are on the horizon. Then we can start testing all of these components for obvious bugs or flaws in the logic. With the ability components done we will go back and take a pass at the class Traits (it may seem weird to do something for character creation last, but many of them modify how certain aspects of abilities work, so it’s best to know how exactly those components are constructed). Because of his quick work on the first pass on this class, Ben was able to move on to working on Spirit Mages.
- WIP – Design – Spirit Mages: The Dread Caller, Slaughterwolf, and Morrigan, which now have completed first pass designs, and Scout classes: the Specter, Wisp, and Arisen, which are still currently a work in progress.
- Completed – CUBE – Blueprint Fix: Issue with saving and viewing saved blueprints has been fixed.
- Completed – Art – New CUBE Blocks: We added 32 new block sets to CUBE! This includes the latest realm materials shown previewed in previous updates.
- WIP – Art – Arthurian Class: Abbot Crosier Staff and Animation – With the newly made Crosier staff weapon, Abbot is now in the animation stages of production.
- WIP – Art – Viking Class: Helbound Masks, Staves, and Animation – New concept art has made its way down the line for both Helbound staves and masks. The unique Hel staff forged with the duality of life and death elements is currently making its way through the modeling stages. Animation is also in progress for this class.
- WIP – Art – TDD Class – Blessed Crow Cauldron Staff: Concept has continued to develop for Blessed Crow weapons and on track for selection and 3D modeling.
- WIP – Art – TDD – Armor: New TDD medium armor with a dark fool inspiration is making its way in the model and sculpt stage, and soon from there into materials.
- Done – Art – Wyvern: Model and materials are finished and currently in rigging stages. From there it will move into animation.
- WIP – Art – Deployable Items: Deployable Barricades and Traps are in the works. Concept art is rolling along on material unique barricades as well a variety of traps.
- WIP – Art – Soul Essence Shards: In tandem with tech development, concept art is developing for the visual look of this pickup feature.
- WIP – Art – Environment – Terrain: New terrain functions in the works. To include slope adjusted pivots (like cliff wall meshes being spawned at an angel) and a new additional system of randomization for terrain meshes.
- WIP – Art – Environment – Height Shader Tech: New height mask shader for meshes. Currently only available for terrain materials. Andrew is bringing this tech to all 3D meshes allowing the art team more flexibility in blending materials for better visuals
- WIP – Art – Environment – Vertex shader Tech: Vertex painting allows for controlled blending between 2 materials on 3D models. This helps optimism materials usage while allowing effects like Moss at the base of an object or burnt wood near a fire particle. This is a manual process BUT gives the art team a lot of flexibility by not having to make a slew of one off materials for simple instances. In game the player will benefit from gaining a more emerivise and dynamic world that can be achieved by our small team.
- WIP – Art – Environment – World Aligned Materials: Currently available in CUBE and terrain mod Andrew is bringing World Aligned Materials to or 3D models. This will give the art team more freedom in how models are implemented. This means simple rock can be scaled and placed anywhere in the world all while keeping a consistent material and resolution to all other rocks that share the same material. This will free up art from making material sets for large, medium, and small rocks. Now ALL rocks of a certain style will share the same material.
- WIP – Design – Overmind: Mark has been working in a number of areas within Overmind. He has been focused mainly on speeding up the ability of design/engineering to work with and iterate on Overmind-based scenarios.
The Art team has been charging ahead tackling difficult work this month. As seen in the top 10 but really top 36 update, much is in motion in the art pipeline.
With that we’ve got much to show you and are excited even more so for what’s soon to come from us in art land as we are crafting and forging new ways to implement many visual features we feel you the player and community will enjoy.
For art this month we start off with a male TDD medium armor sculpt. Influenced by the Dark Fool class, this sculpt is moving forward into materials as well it’s female variation.
Viking Helbound masks have been making progress. We explored to give good variation while invoking themes of the goddess Hel and the duality of life and death.
From a wide selection of concept design we have selected this Hel Staff which is nearing the finish line of the high poly sculpt phase. Each side of this staff has a spirit of life or death. This is not only for looks as design will be factoring this into gameplay.
Moving on to the TDD devout class, Blessed Crow we got a slice of concept art for you of Cauldron Staves. Exploring a variety of shapes and interpretations of what a TDD interpretation of a cauldron staff would entail. Added below is also a fun piece exploring the function of how this staff could work for the player.
For the Soul drops feature you may know we have talked about souls having a visual stance in the world of CU, on the art side we’re in the process of developing how these will “come alive” when a character dies. Below is our first pass concepting these Soul Drops and the contrast between both race and realm. This will help with future developments in crafting as well.
Here we are chipping away at the coastal flatlands as our shrine starts to shine in both concept and 3D application. We hope to showcase soon a finished section so you can see full and well how the environment art as a whole gets elevated. Throughout the land you’ll find these little beautifications and pops of décor to give you a sense of not only who owns the territory, but if it has yet to be claimed.
New materials have been implemented and are now available for use in CUBE. Check out below the selection and some of the new options now being tested by builders. Credit goes to community and Builder Brigade member Scott Florence for the build examples below.
Design for player placeable barriers have entered the concept phase. Below are some first pass concepts to check out as we watch these evolve through the design process.
And here we have a bit of a visual showing the before and after with projected projectiles being worked on. You will note how with this the particles don’t just clip in to the ground line but reflect the angle of the terrain.
Faith is hard, just like making an MMORPG is hard. Last month I said that CSE and I would work hard to regain the faith of those that have lost it. I hope today’s update, and the ones that follow, will do just that. With the pulling in of the Spirit Mages from an Extender Pack and working towards doing the same thing with the Scouts, we have shown our commitment to not only delivering CU but also delivering some aspects of the game at launch that were not part of the original plan. Will we be able to do that? Well, this month we took a really big step forward in that direction.
As always, we thank you for your support and patience. No matter what, please stay safe, be kind, and be strong over the next few months and I hope all of us come through them with as little personal sadness and tragedy as possible. I’ll be repeating that same line until all of us around the world come out of these challenging times.