As we bid a fond fare thee well to March, we begin April with a sense of renewal. Blossoms are beginning to fill the trees, new growth is spreading throughout the land, and that’s just in our game, it’s also happening in the real world as well! It’s been a very productive month for us and Camelot Unchained, and as usual we have lots of screenshots, information, a newsletter and another video to share with you. And, the best part is that hopefully on Thursday, we’ll be inviting our Backers to join us on Nuada, the place I shot the short, and as always, unretouched video which can be found (here) that shows me walking through the TDD Forest and then a quick hop to the TDD Home Island to see how it has been updated. For those of you who didn’t catch the livestream it can be found here – Twitch.
As always, let’s start with the Top Tenish.
March 2021 End of Month CU Update (3/31/2021)
- WIP – Tech & Design – Alchemy
- We’ve taken MJ’s design and spreadsheets and worked to get the alchemy system working in game. This should soon be in the hands of the backers to play around with, by granting access to alchemy crafting materials through harvest tents. We are also putting together a group of Backers who will have access to the same spreadsheets MJ used in creating the system. This should happen next week.
- Like other crafting, alchemy potions are created through your vox. A recipe requires a container, suspension, and some number of reagents.
- These reagents work together to produce different results (both good and bad)
- Drinking finished alchemy potions applies these results to your character, and can provide long-term effects.
- For a detailed description of how alchemy crafting works, see February’s newsletter
- WIP – Design – Making Movement: Kara and Chris are at it again! They’ve started to tackle all kinds of movement in CU, be it for your character, or what helps your character move stuff from one place to the next.
- Chris is tinkering with changing the movement speed in game from 5 to 7 after some internal testing, and this got Kara looking over the entire movement system within CU. Now Chris and Kara are working towards something interesting that might give Travel Stance a run for its money – you can look forward to seeing what they’ve cooked up in future updates!
- Kara also has been kicking back with ‘Karavans’ which we should see coming to future newsletters and a possible livestream. The design team had an epic-length meeting on the 30th of March which has resulted in a plan that we look forward to sharing with you next month in a formal presentation. We hope you folks will be as excited about it as we are right now.
- Done – Tech – NPC Archery Upgrades: Lee has landed a few nice enhancements to our NPC archery capabilities. Specifically, he has added the ability for NPCs to target arbitrary positions in the world, rather than requiring them to always aim directly at their targets. This will ultimately allow for intentional missed shots (i.e., variability in aiming skill), the ability to lead moving targets, and “offset targeting” which will allow NPCs to pinpoint specific parts of other entities and structures. NPCs will also be able to exploit this new capability to launch volleys of projectiles up into the air, causing a rain of arrows descending onto the battlefield in a manner that would make Hollywood proud. With these core changes to projectile aiming in place, we will be able to start upgrading our NPC combat behaviors and begin incorporating these enhancements in future updates.
- WIP – Tech – NPC Multi-targeting: On the heels of the archery aiming work, Lee is working on a significant upgrade to NPC targeting in general. Up to this point, NPCs have been limited to tracking a single target at a time, which has significantly limited the sophistication of combat behaviors, particularly in large battle situations. Lee is working on support for NPCs to have an arbitrary number of targets they can track simultaneously. This will allow them to both make tactical judgments about the most effective target to focus on in a given moment, and gives them the potential to attack multiple targets simultaneously (for NPCs with such a capability). Additionally, this work allows targets to be categorized according to their relationship to the NPC, such that the NPC could attack an enemy while attempting to help an ally. Finally, the multi-targeting can be exploited for other purposes as well, such as having the NPC aim at one target while moving towards another. Lee is nearing completion of this upgrade, and once testing is finished, will begin updating our existing behaviors (and creating new ones) to take advantage of the improvements.
- Done – Tech – Ability System Improvements
- Anthony improved how the support class statuses notify the player so that they are not spamming a lot of text into world space
- Anthony fixed some bugs with the Blessed Crow cauldrons so that they properly apply statuses
- Christina fixed a bug where you could not take advantage of the ½ second grace period to queue your next ability in all situations. In addition, she fixed issues related to potential corner cases where the client and server might disagree on which ability is supposed to be playing.
- Christina fixed a bug with tab targeting which was causing it not to work
- Anthony fixed issues with Blessed Crow items not working correctly
- Done – Tech – Fixes and Improvements
- MikeD fixed a bug which prevented torches from sometimes not showing up in travel stance. Unfortunately, there are still other bugs that still need to be fixed.
- Judd fixed several bugs with the inventory UI, including one which caused the UI to crash when moving stacks of items
- Christina fixed a bug which was causing a Vox to not show up in the correct rotation when deploying it
- Christina went super meta and rate limited the rate limit popup message
- Christina fixed a bug where multiple versions of some buildings were being created in the worldstate db; this caused a random one of these duplicates to get created during server load up
- Ian fixed an issue where the crafting ‘prepare’ button would end up off screen when playing at some resolutions
- Done – Tech – Logger Serialization Improvements: Over 2021 we’ve been putting in a lot of different improvements to improve the quality and quantity of logs we get from our servers. That’s resulted in a lot of different types of data getting sent through our logging system. Some of those have pushed the envelope on what it was capable of handling, so this month we rolled out several improvements to how that data gets written and captured. This will help us better triage and diagnose server issues and overall improves stability and availability.
- Done – Tech – Launcher API Improvements
- Significantly improved debugging process and experience of local Launcher API servers.
- Removed all unnecessary game/shard API endpoints from Launcher API. This reduces complexity, improves performance and stability, reduces dependencies, and is generally super awesome.
- 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). As mentioned previously, these upgrades have the potential to be disruptive, especially given that we usually have different levels of builds simultaneously (bleeding edge on Hatchery, build candidates on NuadaPrep and Nuada, and mature builds on Hawking). We’re continuing to hammer away at containerizing this process, which should strengthen our overall build pipeline, make these upgrades less painful, and generally allow for safer coexistence of multiple build environments.
- Done – Tech – Database Driver Migration: As we talked about this last month, we upgraded our database drivers a while back and had a few databases that still needed the upgrade. This month we got the last (and some of the gnarliest) vestiges of the old driver upgraded.
- Done – Tech – Network Patch Client Rollout: We’ve been doing work to improve the way assets like collision make it on to our servers. The main part of this is the Network Patch Client, which makes it so that our servers don’t need to download dozens of gigs of data. This in turn makes smaller images on the server which makes them update and start up faster. We’ve been updating the existing shards to leverage the network patch client and got them all updated.
- WIP – Tech – Fog: Wylie has been investigating performance issues with the fog shader when looking at layers of transparent objects. He’s also implemented some new shapes for placeable fog volumes, including cylinders and ellipses. He is also tracking down some other issues which we are hoping will result in another performance improvement to the game.
- WIP – Art & Design – Upgraded TDD Home Island – Eriu
- Michelle has updated the TDD Home Island of Eriu with Verdant Forest generation, giving the island a much improved visual (and TDD-specific) feel. In addition to bringing the Verdant Forest biome to the island, these changes include improvements and cleanup to the master terrain mod, which will greatly improve efficiency for future iteration as this and other home islands move forward. Joseph aided in improvements to materials, repairing height maps to terrain that resulted in better visual detail and the creation of new path material implemented by Michelle. Core path mods were improved as well to aid in layout and further upgrades for all home islands down the line.
- Chris updated all portals to this zone to ensure they linked to their proper destination in both directions. Michelle also changed portal placement for the “Isle of Discordia” and “Biome Concept Zone.” Instead of being in the middle of pathways, these now reside in visually stronger, and still well-marked, locations.
- This upgrade to Eriu also includes adjustments to prop placements and set dressing. Players will see an improvement pass made to the arrival portal area, and the older TDD ships have been replaced with the latest models made by Sierra, to name a few examples.
- For more details on the current changes to Eriu, plus changes coming in the near future, make sure to check out this month’s newsletter.
- Done – Art – Dragon’s Web Rebirth Portals: Sierra’s put the finishing touches on the last of the Dragon’s Web Rebirth Portals, meaning classier Dragon’s Web respawns for all three realms down the line. Next up, we’ll be looking to hook up the suite of Dragon’s Web items to existing tech in-game, moving from placeholder art to the real deal.
- Done – Art – Fixes
- Jon has added staffs, scepters, wands, and tomes of all realms to the list of fixed weaponry.
- During those weapon fixes, we also found that scepters were using the wrong item icons in-game. Koo has swapped these out for the current, correct UI icons.
- WIP – Art – St’rm: The next race in the pipeline has moved from finished concept into 3D territory. Jon has brought Tina’s concepts to life with 3D models of the male and female St’rm, which can be seen in this month’s newsletter.
- WIP – Art – Animation – Giants: Along with ongoing support from Scott and Sandra, Joe is reaching the end of the giant armor fix list for all current giant armor sets. In addition to closing holes in geometry and cleaning up rigs, these fixes will help get the final giant race, the Viking Jotnar, available to players in-game soon.
- WIP – Art – Points of Interest – Elder Hawthorn Tree: Scout has only gone deeper into forest territory since working on the Verdant Forest, moving onto creating assets for the Elder Hawthorn Tree. He has already updated the Elder Hawthorn Tree itself, and is now completing a set of the petrified tree people forever standing vigil around it.
- WIP – Art & Design – Environment – Golden Plains
- With the Verdant Forest test zone happily up and running – and live on the refurbished TDD home island – the team has turned to the next biome on the list: the Golden Plains. Just as the Verdant Forest forms the primary environment for TDD land on RvR3, the Golden Plains will populate most of the Arthurian portion of the map.
- Based on designs and real-world foliage lists from Kara, Tina has created a number of broad environmental concepts for this zone, from sweeping landscape shots to more magnified scenes showcasing the biome from different perspectives. These pieces help us establish visual signposts for the biome that we can follow through the entire production process.
- Joseph and Scout are working through those real-world foliage lists now, setting up the main trees for the biome as well as starting to create different rock varieties for random generation. At the same time, they’re also working with George to find the best way to implement different grass heights while maintaining high engine performance.
- WIP – Tech – Indirect Illumination and Reflections
- George has rewritten the math for the lighting model we use for indirect lighting. This has a subtle but fairly massive effect on how things look in shadows.
- In dark areas, organic materials have a more realistic sheen. This is most noticeable on the bottom of the canopy in the new TDD areas.
- Small bumpy details on objects show up better in shadow, and side lit objects look less flat.
- Fixed a problem where distant areas would receive ambient light from brightly colored objects next to the player. This also fixes part of the problem of the forest being lit up rather than dark, when looking into the distance from a brightly lit meadow.
- The new model uses shader resources and is a small performance improvement on some hardware. 2-9fps boost.
- George made changes to the reflection math. These should line up reflections sampled at an offset better with the object casting the reflection. Reflections no longer swim around slightly when the camera moves.
- This has the subtle effect of making highlights on all objects more stable and realistic looking.
- George has rewritten the math for the lighting model we use for indirect lighting. This has a subtle but fairly massive effect on how things look in shadows.
Onward to art action!
Massive updates for the Tuatha Dé Danann Home Island of Ériu!
As stated above Ériu got the beautification treatment and was updated with the new Verdant Forest Content! Be sure to check out the Newsletter for even more information on this process.
As you can see here, the industrial aspects are just swallowed by the massive trees of the Verdant Forest, and as we update the buildings and BPO content for this area it’s only going to get better!
You can now explore the open areas of the home island just as you were able to check out the test zone!
The ships that Sierra made have docked and are sitting pretty with high performance.
With just the first phase of Ériu under our belt, the changes are very dramatic; everyone here at the studio is excited to continue to enhance this zone.
If you didn’t think there was much improvement going on with just this update, or it was all smoke and mirrors, please check it out for yourself! While we have plenty of fog in the game, not smoke nor mirrors were used to produce any of screenshots. There is information about logging in to check out the zone on the Newsletter! We look forward to your feedback!
The Rebirth Portals have made their way into the editor. Next up, Cross will be working his sparkle magic to give them their active phase!
Jon did some really great things with the 3D models of the St’rm, and there are even more detailed images in the Newsletter if you’re looking for more Dragon-esque flare!
Just like the Medusa, there are rumors that the Elder Hawthorn petrifies those who corrupt her realm; these just might be those artifacts to prove this!
Massive improvements from George’s beautiful math! In the meeting people were jaw-dropping over the differences these subtle changes to math could make!
We’ll drop you off with some of the initial concepting when it comes to the Golden Plains, and if you’re looking for more or to see the chosen options, check out the Newsletter for a little more of a deep dive.
Speaking for all of us at CSE, we thank you for your support and patience and I hope you’ll jump in this weekend as a TDD to see what we have wrought with our efforts over the last few months. And as always, please stay safe for the remainder of this pandemic. I want all of us to come through this terrible time as best as we can.