Happy Friday (or Saturday) all, time for another Monthly Update from us. In today’s livestream I talked about a lot of stuff that is CU/CSE related as well as some highly personal notes. The good news is that now, all the news is good! From the reopening of the offices next month to another big update from us, we continue to work on and knock out more of the features that we need for a LIVE game while tackling things that could end up taking a fair amount of time to complete (which is why we are starting work on them now). By the end of the summer, Camelot Unchained will look and feel more like the game that you expected to see when you backed us than ever before. Whether it is weather systems, voice chat, new biomes, or caravans, all of these things are being worked on and we expect them all to be in the game before the end of the summer. Add in new races, updates to classes, crafting, etc. and you’ll have quite a game loop. And I’m sure that we will also manage to have some good surprises as well during the summer!
I hope you enjoy the update, our newsletter, the livestream, and this weekend’s test. We have a lot going on and we’re happy to share it with you.
May 2021 End of Month CU Update (5/28/2021)
- WIP – Tech & Design – Rain
- George started the technical design on a new weather system.
- Jed wrote a rain shower shader and worked out the visual design of rain. He also hooked up some supporting particle systems to act in concert with the weather.
- Christina added a way for this to be triggered via the overmind or by admin command.
- Chris has hooked up the new rain in the Verdant Forest and updated Golden Plains zones, which players will be able to see soon when the new zones go live.
- Done – Tech – NPC Updates
- Lee has upgraded our combat behaviors to incorporate new parameters that allow both greater design control over NPC activity, as well as more sophisticated action during battle. NPCs now have an understanding of where they should stop to position themselves optimally for both ranged and melee attacks, and will adjust their range to target accordingly while making decisions about which attacks to use against their targets. NPCs can also make decisions about how to engage with enemies while en route to an important destination, choosing either to engage nearby enemies or ignore them in favor of getting to their goals quickly.
- Rob completed a nice optimization to our NPC pathfinding, in which requests for paths now use a more efficient method for packaging and sending the request data across the network.
- Done – Tech – Ability System Updates
- Anthony has added new tech to allow abilities to have new types of random features associated with them. This can support randomizing things like AoE positions or key ability values.
- Christina has fixed up the code related to activating abilities that are coming off of cooldown. There is now a proper half-second window where the ability can be queued up even though it is still in cooldown.
- Done – Tech – New Ability Components
- We’ve added some new class ability traits, including:
- New Black Knight Trait – Unconstrained Power – Your Void attacks deal 10% increased damage and 25% of their damage to you.
- New Mjolnir Trait – Lightning Overcharge – Your Lightning attacks deal 10% increased damage and 20% of their damage to you.
- New Forest Stalker Trait – Pinpoint Precision – Increases armor penetration by 1.
- New Winter Shadow Trait – Shattering Precision – Increases armor penetration by 2.
- We’ve added some new class ability traits, including:
- WIP – Tech – Reward Chests
- The weighted item table system has been updated to allow for: nested tables, specifying item quantities, and allowing multiple rewards to be given from the same drop.
- Overmind and item permission upgrades have been made to support the ability for scripting to spawn reward chests which can be scoped to a player, their warband, their realm, or to anyone.
- An initial reward chest item has been added, along with its scripting. For a player with proper permissions, this chest can be interacted with to take all the rewards from it.
- Expect to see these chests in game soon along with upgraded visuals.
- Done – Tech – Upgraded Locomotion: Mike D. landed the upgrade to character locomotion that adds an optional “fast run” state. For those characters that have fast run animations, the locomotion system will seamlessly blend between walk, run, and fast run as the characters’ speeds rise or fall as they traverse the world.
- WIP – Tech – Upgraded Pathfinding: Lee is currently working on upgrading our pathfinding system to support multiple layers of navmesh that accommodate different-sized entities. This will allow larger characters and creatures to navigate our complex environments without getting stuck in the smaller spaces and passageways traversed by the smaller entities.
- WIP – Tech – Flying NPCs: Rob is working on new behaviors and supporting capabilities that will allow us to have simple flying NPCs that can move above the treetops, circle an area, and then drop down to the surface and engage their targets. We are looking forward to bringing a whole new dimension to NPC interactions in CU!
- WIP – Tech – Voice Chat: Cheyne integrated voice chat into our game engine and continues to implement updates and fixes for streamlining the feature.
- WIP – Tech – Infrastructure as Code: Infrastructure as code is basically the notion that we have code/scripts that can produce (or reproduce) our infrastructure: servers, instances, load balancers, and all the other bits and pieces that let us host services that you guys connect to. Previously we’ve had a piecemeal approach to IAC; we’ve got scripts for most of our individual services, but not a holistic view of our entire infrastructure. We can generate the individual pieces of a shard (the webapi, the game server, the physics server, the proxies, etc) but we don’t have the ability to simply or easily construct a shard in its entirety. We’re now working on creating that holistic view. There’s lots of value here; we can roll out upgrades to our servers and services much easier and more comprehensively, we can fabricate new environments for testing and deployment, adding zones (like the Verdant Forest and Golden Plains) becomes a simpler and more structured process, etc.
- 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 tested several different build types and configurations and knocked out the bugs that we unearthed. There’s a little more work to to smooth the release process, but we’re mostly waiting for the right time in terms of some internal milestones and some specific pieces of tech landing before we pull the trigger and roll this out to the team.
- Done – Tech – Native Service Discovery: A while back we added service discovery to all our managed/C# servers. This allowed them to find and connect to each other without us manually specifying IP addresses in configuration files. These were the servers that got the most value from this tech, but at the time we opted to not add service discovery to our native/C++ servers. We’ve now remedied that; our native servers are now able to share their health and connection info with our entire server stack. This improves our ability to monitor health, simplify configuration, and generally makes our servers require less maintenance.
- Done – Tech – Area-based Sky and Lighting: Wylie hooked up a system linking lighting, sky and assorted other visual settings to the terrain in a given level, allowing designers and artists more control over how the level looks based on location. This will allow us to tune small areas in the level without affecting the atmosphere of the entire level, such as making one area of the level overcast with dim lighting, or making the forests darker and spookier while leaving twilight in other areas of the level brighter and friendlier-looking. This was a major engineering effort that will allow us to fully control our biomes with weather, lighting, fog, bloom, color balancing and other effects in the future.
- WIP – Design – Caravans: Kara is kicking off the first pass of Caravans and will be giving a full breakdown of where we’re at and where we’re going in the Newsletter under Dose of Design. MJ Notes – Folks, this is a great and important read in the Newsletter for those of you who are interested in this important aspect of CU. Lots of great info there and an especially terrific job by art and design on this one.
- WIP – Design – Biome Breakdown: Kara and Chris took some time to break down some biome information in the newsletter, talking about biomes associated with realms (a.k.a. heartlands) and diving a bit into where the tolerance stats are going.
- WIP – Art – Points of Interest – Glade of the Failed Heroes: Sierra continues her work on the Glade of the Failed Heroes Point of Interest. Now that the main tree is sculpted, she’s moved onto dressing it up with the failed heroes themselves, hanging skeletons, armor, weapons, and other set pieces from the branches.
- WIP – Art – Points of Interest – Elder Hawthorn Tree: Meanwhile, Scout’s jumped back to the Elder Hawthorn Tree, finishing out the various asset kits populating this Point of Interest. He’s added the last set of petrified tree people, tree stumps, and traversable pathways to the list of completed pieces, and will be wrapping up the whole kit before moving onto the next biome.
- WIP – Art & Design & Tech – Dragon’s Web: Scott has knocked out initial idle animations for the Dragon’s Web transmitters, which will now get the VFX treatment to represent their different stages of activity: dim, common, and radiant.
- WIP – Art – Hamadryad: Tina has started concept work on the last CU race slated to use the same rig as the St’rm: the Hamadryad. This will finish out the first trio of realm races following the revised race design first discussed in Unveiled #74.
- WIP – Art – Animation – St’rm: With textures done, the St’rm are on the final rigging steps before we begin retargeting existing animations to the new set-up. Thanks to the St’rm sharing the same base skeleton as humans, animations for this new race will focus on the tail and wings, with the majority of the retargeting staying one-to-one between rigs.
- WIP – Art – Animation – Locomotion: The animation team is adjusting and polishing existing locomotion animations to use the new default run speed of 7 meters per second, instead of the current 5 meters per second. They are also accounting for the introduction of stamina, which will allow a max run speed of 10 to 15 meters per seconds.
- WIP – Art & Design – Environment – Golden Plains Update
- The Golden Plains test zone has gotten a summertime face lift. Since initial release last month, Joseph and Scout have been hard at work finishing up the remaining foliage pieces, passing those onto Michelle for population in the zone. Soon players will be able to experience the biome with its full complement of flora, including: new elm trees, hazelnut and witch hazel bushes, ground cover like clover and wild strawberry plants, wildflowers, and plenty of new grass varieties that put the “Golden” back in Golden Plains. These assets have replaced the old placeholder foliage found in the first version of this zone, and bring us from the testing phase into a polish pass we can now apply to other in-game locations as intended.
- In addition to adding new assets, we’ve cleaned up the test zone specifically. Grass rendering distances have been improved, as well as LODs and textures on the tree and shrub foliage. As mentioned above, Chris has activated the new rain effect. And, last but not least, Michelle has applied atmospheric fog to the zone, adding some early morning and late evening haze to the day-night cycle.
- WIP – Art & Design – Environment – Coastal Lowlands
- Progress continues on the next biome following the Golden Plains: the Coastal Lowlands. Tina has completed both the broad environmental concepts for the zone – work that establishes the tone of the zone and shows how planned foliage coexists in the world – and breakdowns for those individual set pieces that Joseph and Scout will be modeling out.
- After initial map set up from Michelle, Joseph is now white-boxing the test zone that will eventually house the full biome for player testing. He’s carving out terrain, testing out cliff placement, and planning for points of visual interest that we’ll start populating as environmental assets come in.
Now for Some Art Action!
Jumping right in to concept, we are getting ready for upcoming biomes production, starting with the Coastal Lowlands. Tina has been developing the vision for the biome below:
As mentioned in the Top Tenish, design has been developing the caravan system; and with design, initial art designs have been going along with it.
Be sure to check out the expanded article with more art and details in this month’s newsletter.
Showcasing development for points of interest, here are some renders of what will be found in the grim Glade of the Failed Heroes:
Golden Plains has developed further since the last update as well. Tan grasses seen before have been replaced with fields of gold wheat and grains, as seen below:
Many other new assets have been added to expand the variety in ground cover, as well as new spawning trees and shrubs.
Additionally use of fog was implemented since last update, greatly improving the horizion line and giving a bit of drama to different times of day.
Pouring in next, rain development! Check out some shots showing day and night in two different zones:
As always, we thank you for your patience and support and as we move into summer. I hope you really like what you see and when our first true gameplay loop appears that you jump in and see for yourself that we at CSE keep our promise when we said last year that CU was going to undergo quite the change, that we met and/or exceeded that promise.
Please stay safe during the pandemic. I hope you all and your families get through this as safely as possible.