A late-breaking update from Andrew gave us the name and inspiration for today’s update. As Mark and Andrew talked about in today’s livestream update, Andrew was happily making our particle system both better and faster (if I could say stronger, this would be the Six Million Dollar update), and I’ve included an example of the results: “Not Rob” on fire. If you don’t get the reference, it has to do with Rob’s love for blowing up things in the game, among other things. And since we like Rob–wouldn’t want to set him on fire, of course–so Andrew picked the next-best thing, Not Rob. As you can see, Not Rob is on fire thanks to Andrew’s new code. A more scriptable particle system is great for Mike C, designers, and most importantly, the players, as it makes our game look better and more interesting visually. Other than that, things are continuing along at a really solid pace, similar to last week, as we continue making progress in order to get our larger ongoing features back into our master code branch and push toward our next scenario.
Last week saw the merge of all the work done for Characters 2.0 go into master, along with the first working version of the new crafting UI. Overall, we enjoyed a good weekend test, but there were a number of bugs for the team to tackle this week. While most of them have been resolved, there are some that we weren’t able to fix this week, so unfortunately there won’t be a test this weekend. OTOH, expect more testing during this coming week.
This week, we’ve begun testing the improved ability system with our IT and Alpha Backers in the Castle Siege Scenario. Once approved, after further testing, we’ll move this into master to continue iterating upon it, getting us one large step closer to finishing the improved ability system. We’re all very excited to move this along and work on new features, probably as much as you folks are! I know that Mark can’t wait to play a mage again, and, as he always says, to get killed by you folks.
As usual, we have a whole host of other interesting work in progress, such as improvements in VFX tools and rendering, further siege design, and improvements to the animation system! There’s always a lot to cover, which is why we have a weekly livestream update with Q&A in addition to our Top Tenish list for those of you who want the quick read.
If you missed today’s livestream update and Q&A with Mark and Andrew, you can find that HERE.
As hinted above, we had several physics server crashes in this afternoon’s testing that would make having a weekend test unproductive. We’ll be focusing on fixing that come Monday, so keep an eye on our tentative testing schedule for further testing updates.
For the rest of the week’s highlights, let’s take a look at our Top Tenish list:
- Discontinuing the 32bit Client: Moving the game client to 64bit has been a big boon to what we can do with the engine. However, that means we need to discontinue support for the 32bit client. If you have an old machine, most hardware is 64bit, but you may have a 32bit Windows install. If you currently are running a 32bit version of Windows, this will affect you, and you will need to install the 64bit version of Windows to continue playing CU after April 15th, when we plan to make this change.
- WIP – Tech – Improved Ability System:
- Testing: Rob pulled all the Character 2.0 work over to the ability branch yesterday for testing both internally and with IT/Alphas today. The initial testing went well, and depending on further testing, we may move this over to master.
- FX Hookup: With much of the existing abilities working in the new system, Anthony is bug fixing and syncing the abilities to the correct existing FX assets. Expect to see some unexpected or incorrect FX when testing until this work is complete.
- Progression System: Christina “fixed up” the progression system so it is compatible with the new ability code. We’ll still need a UI update before players will be able to collect progression rewards.
- Perf/Various: Caleb spent the week mostly focused on performance improvements and metrics, and also landed his WIP tasks from last week, hooking up armor penetration, resists, and arrow stats.
- WIP – Tech – Client VFX: Earlier this week, Andrew committed a change that should give the particle system updates about a 30% reduction in their CPU time. Frame rates in giant battles should be higher! He’s currently working on making client-side FX much more scriptable. They’ll adapt to customization from the ability builder, and dynamically react to their interactions with other things in the world.
- WIP – Tech – Particle Orientation Bugs/Improvements: Wiley is working with Mike to fix some bugs in particle orientation with a goal of making orientation easier to understand and a little more flexible. Gotta have some sweet tools to make sweet VFX!
- Design: Ben wrote up a design doc for placeable spawn points to go with the respawn system design, and is now working on updating the achievement system design.
- ATI Bug Fix: We introduced a bug affecting all ATI cards in a new system designed to make mouse clicks over UI work better. This caused a crash to desktop, and later a fatal error while we were investigating it. We believe this is now fixed, so, ATI card testers, please let us know if you still encounter it.
- WIP – Design – Sieges and more: Mark spent some time this week designing/prototyping some of the more interesting elements of our siege system. Mark ran through the gamut of emotions from happiness to pounding the keyboard in frustration. Fortunately, no keyboards nor Mark’s fingers were harmed in the process.
- WIP – Tech – Tools: Bull is working on the architecture for a system that will help keep all the tools running in sync with each other in near-real time. This has become increasingly more important, with two offices as well as remote workers. This will not only speed up the editor’s response time to changes, but also lays the foundation for tools that allow designers to batch changes together and undo work they don’t like. Kind of like an MMO for MMO tools.
- WIP – Concept – Additional Armor: We’ve continued creating new concept art of different realm specific armor parts. Our focus right now is stand alone armor pieces that don’t look like they belong in a set, like our current B1 assets. We’ll use these concepts later when making new equipment, after our crafting and tinting update of the current gear.
- WIP – Environment Art – Siege Demo Zone: Tyler has taken the map Ben created with the very impressive TDD fortress created by our Builder’s Brigade, and has been “arting up” the environment. This includes some new environment assets that will be used elsewhere in the world of CU.
- Art – UI – Various: James finished the art and assets for the ability builder UI and updated the chat UI art to fit the style of the current UI.
- WIP – Tech – Animation System Improvements: As mentioned last week, we are finding and fixing various small issues in our animation system that, player-facing, look like small “pops” as the character momentarily plays the wrong movement animation. Last week, we found and fixed several of these issues, but this week, found and fixed a few more, so this is not yet ready to commit. The desired end result is smoother-feeling player animations when moving, particularly in idle to walk to run and back, transitions. Once these issues are fixed, we’ll also look at further ways we can improve the system.
- Art – VFX – Various: Mike completed a first pass on Realm-specific VFX for the trebuchet and magic mortars, as well as ongoing asset improvements for mage VFX.
- WIP – Art – Characters 2.0: Better-looking and more performant characters!
- Status: With the update of all the planned assets complete, we’re now just finishing work on small bugs, LODs, and further small technical improvements. Thank you very much Backers for your help bug hunting for us last weekend!
- LODs: We’re currently focused on updating all the characters used in our big bot battles, so we can get an idea of performance with the artist-created LODs. We’re currently working through the first quick pass of all the LODs to get a baseline. Our expectation is that we’ll continue to reduce polys on the character art to get the best performance while maintaining visual quality. This week Joe and Dionne finished all the assets required for that initial test.
- Character Texturing Improvements: Dave adjusted and tweaked how characters texture to improve how they look at multiple distances. This was primarily focused on getting some more performance out of them with a cleaner visual. This touches on mipmap and mipmap generation, which is how we generate lower LOD textures and different filtering levels for different LODs.
- Character Vertex Welding: Dave is currently working to land an improvement to our character mesh welding code that should greatly reduce visual seams in characters when mixing and matching nude, undergarment, and armor parts. Once complete, we’ll ask Backers to let us know where they continue to see seams.
- Animation Cleanup: Scott and Sandra made a lot of smaller fixes this week, such as tweaks to NPC greeter animations, arrow orientation fixes, tertiary animation retargeting, updated sapper bomb carry animations, as well as fixes to the Realm-specific travel idles and fidgets.
- WIP – Art – Mage Outfits: Jon finished the Arthurian versions materials as well as the TDD modeling. He’s hoping to finish up the TDD materials today or Monday, then begin on the last outfit for our initial testing.
For art this week, we start off with a render of the finished materials for the Arthurian mage outfit. I’m personally very excited to play this mage, honestly just because of this outfit. It was my favorite of all the concept art!
Next we have the work-in-progress sculpt of the TDD mage outfit.
Jon’s almost finished with the material pass, but you’ll have to wait until next week to check it out
As promised last week, we have some concept art of various Realm-themed armor assets. We’re focusing on breaking out the assets into individual pieces, unlike our current assets, which visually look like they go together as a set. Approaching our armor in this manner should encourage players and crafters to mix and match to their heart’s content!
Once we decide on a piece we want to make, we typically move these quick ideas to the next phase, where we polish up the art, make sure it works with our part system from a technical perspective, and turn it into a 3D asset! Have you got a favorite? Let us know in the forums!
As mentioned in our Top Tenish list, we’ve been working on character LODs created by the artists vs. our procedural system. This is a lot of work on the art side, not because it’s particularly difficult work, but due to the quantity of assets we’re working on all at once. Each character has a nude, undergarment, and armor asset, which is different for each gender, and in some cases, different per race, such as the Luchorpán or Valkyrie. As you can imagine, that’s a lot of assets to create! This image from Dionne represents only a few of the assets she has been working on!
Next week, Dionne and I (Tyler) will import these assets into the game and do some initial performance testing. We’ll probably continue to reduce these characters further, based on how well they look in-game up close and at a distance. The end goal is basically to thread the needle between looking good up close and being cheap to display at a short range.
That’s it for this week’s update. Many thanks to all of our Backers, old or new, for your continued interest and enthusiasm. We’ll continue to put forth maximum effort to deliver a game unlike any other!
Before we go, a couple of quick messages that Mark talked about in today’s stream. First, of course, is the tragedy that unfolded in Christchurch, NZ., yesterday. We all lose when things like that happen, whether at a mosque, synagogue, church, or even a newspaper. As Mark said today, we as humans just have to do better. Second, and far less important, is what Andrew and Mark talked about regarding a 32-bit client, also mentioned at the beginning of this update! The quick summary is this – if you are running a 32-bit client, you need to update your Operating System to a 64-bit client if you want to be able to play Camelot Unchained in a month. It doesn’t matter if it’s Windows 7, 8, or 10, but if you are running a 32-bit client, it’s time to update your Operating System (most likely case) or your PC (least likely case). We’ve been talking about this and the importance of us running a 64-bit client for months, so please, update your system before April 15th!
Have a great weekend all!