Main News

We’re all in for Bloom this weekend!

Folks,

Whew! Another week done at CSE, and lots more accomplished. We have a lot to cover this week, especially since this is a User Stories update week, so let’s get started.

Top Ten-ish list:

  1. Abilities: Lots of feedback coming in from playtests, allowing us to fix copious amounts of bugs.
  1. Abilities: Building on last week’s work, Ben has introduced the first stances into the game: travel and combat. Now, some ability components will require you to be in the appropriate stance!
  1. Zones and physics: We’re testing updates to our networking view tech this weekend. This lets us optimize the network data based on whether or not each client actually cares about it. So now, for example, we only send data about a player’s available skills to the client that’s controlling that player. This is one of the needed steps to continue to improve network performance to meet our Beta 1 goals.
  1. Patcher: We updated the UI and included it in last weekend’s playtest. We got a great amount of feedback, on both the functional and visual side of things.
  1. Art – VFX: While we continue to improve our VFX capabilities, we’re starting to scope out additional VFX features, including new “pretties” to work on before and during Beta.
  1. Animation: We knocked out some offensive and defensive combat movement animation prototypes. As with VFX, this is part of our asset side commitment to continue adding improved animations before and during Beta. We are also prototyping more diverse animations to better convey slashing, piercing, and crushing melee attacks.
  1. Rendering: After finishing (for now) our first pass of HDR, George has further updated the rendering engine with bloom and some subtle light shafts, which occur very clearly when facing the sun through the trees. It looks great, but remember, this is still only the first pass of all these systems. This means that it is very much a work in progress, and it will require tuning (including fixing some new bugs/weirdness) over the next several weeks.
  1. Engineering – Animation:  Andrew has a very much WIP task to hook up animations to the combat system. He hinted this may drop in today, with promises of Cthulhu-like players running around. We’ve also got WIP of hooking sounds and VFX to abilities going at the same time.
  1. Art – Weapons: We completed UV layouts and materials for several axes across the three Realms. They look great! We will have some images in our next update. We also finished up the material and integration pass on spears.
  1. Art – B1 Armor: Continuing from last week, we finished off material improvements to all the existing armor pieces. This week, we’ve also begun the sculpting process of the TDD heavy Autumn Court armor. You can check out our livestream of that process from this last Tuesday.
  1. Rendering Art: We’ve modified our procedural terrain system to use VFX and lights, once again, on models. Look for VFX and sound attachments on models over the next week.
  1. Hiring: We are now up to six people in Seattle (though the 6th won’t start till January), and have seven candidates in the pipeline. Though we have to say goodbye to our Ops/Junior Programmer Cory (he’s off to work for his family/resort in Majorca, Spain), we should have another Ops/Junior programmer to replace him shortly. Cory is a great guy, a great Ops/programmer, and we wish him nothing but the best going forward.

Pretty good list. Now for the really big list: our User Stories! Not as many completes as we usually have, but we also have some bigger systems in play right now, including animation. It’s still a more than decent list. We had 118 total completes, broken into 15 Old cards with 90 completes, and 2 New cards with 28 completes.

Old Cards:
As a Backer, I’d like to play in a procedurally-created environment. – Part Three.
Assets used in terrain mods display VFX and lights correctly. – Complete
Adjust how we calculate impostor groups so tall, skinny objects don’t always impostor when miles away. – Complete

As a Backer, I want to be able to own a plot of land and build within it. – First Pass
Revisit code and develop plan for data structure improvements to allow for CylinderMorphs. – Complete

As a Backer I’d like a patcher to not only update my game, but also give me the most important news and updates, get support, chat with the community and look awesome while doing it!
Adjust layouts of entry fields. – Complete
Tweak button and input field colors. – Complete
Sort character selection by most recently used. – Complete
Communicate Backer level when patcher is launched – Complete
Improve loading bar visuals, to better convey where in the install process someone is. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Arthurians
One-handed axe – v1: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v1: Integration. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Integration. – Complete
One-handed axe – v3: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed axe – v3: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v3: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v1: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v1: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v2: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v2: Integration. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – TDD
One-handed axe – v1: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v1: Integration. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Integration. – Complete
One-handed axe – v3: Modeling pass. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v2: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v2: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v3: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v3: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v4: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed spear – v4: Integration. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Viking
One-handed axe – v2: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Materials. – Complete
One-handed axe – v2: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed axes – v1: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed axes – v1: Integration. – Complete
Two-handed axes – v2: Materials. – Complete
Two-handed axes – v2: Integration. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer, I’d like to play a game that looks like it is from 2016, by implementing a new lighting and material system.
Dx11 Exposure, compute fast Histogram. – Complete
Dx10 Exposure, downsample and median. – Complete
Bloom and desaturation pass 1 – Complete
Reduce eye adjustment influence in shadowed areas. – Complete
Ambient light influence commands for testing/debugging. – Complete
Tone mapping inputs/commands – editor/debugging. – Complete

As a Beta 1 Backer, I want the sky lighting to use HDR
Refactoring existing sky rendering code. – Complete
Get sky values coming in HDR from the editor and rendering in HDR for the skydome, planets, and clouds. – Complete
Tweak values so everything is pretty. – Complete

As a developer, I want impostors to use recent lighting changes and support attaching SFX and VFX.
Allow particles and SFX to be attached to impostors. – Complete
Be able to clone model as an instanced mesh with copies of its attachments . – Complete
As a Developer and Backer in B1, I’d like better logging and feedback on abilities to support finding and fixing bugs.
Design:
Revisit ability skill part names and descriptions for consistency. – Complete
Standard skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Black Knight skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Fianna skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Mjölnir skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Blackguard skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Forest Stalker skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Winter Shadow skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Physician skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Empath skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Stonehealer skill part implementation and testing. – Complete
Combat stat feedback:
Ability stat feedback hooked up to system tab in chat window. – Complete
Add colored text to combat log to help classify feedback values. – Complete
Optimization pass of ability feedback in chat window. – Complete
Stats on skill part tooltips. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like be able to place and modify Spawn Areas, Zone Portals, Building Plots, etc. from the World Editor.
Placeable – Zone Portal:
Zone portal updates need to be reflected on the server. – Complete
World Editor Usability:
Grid Position Updates in Property Grid as User drags the Placeable. – Complete
Up/Down Buttons for terrain level select. – Complete
Fix UI Oddities (Giant IsTerrainRelative Text Label). – Complete

As a Backer and Developer in B1, I’d like to see improvements in the visual quality of armor for CU.
Autumn Armor test:
Armor sub-part and modeling details concept art. – Complete
Concept art – helmet(s). – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play the Arthurian Physician class.
Generic bottle with color variations matching VFX. – Complete

As a VFX Developer, I’d like additional tools and support for VFX needs in Beta 1.
Fixes and updates to old system that no longer work:
Animating size of child spawners affects parent. – Complete
Particle Effects: Directional and Axis Aligned:
Fix precision issues in particle alignment. – Complete
Velocity: Fix Velocity particles. – Complete
Faster VFX build times:
Create special resource loader that stores a cache of binary blobs. – Complete
Build particle resource within editor. – Complete
Tell managed client/client about need to reload particle. – Complete
Allow deep copy of entire particle tree. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to further personalize my character through the use of the Banes and Boons system.
Second pass Beta 1 design vetted against new ability system. – Complete
Metadata and testability improvements:
/RemoveTrait – Complete
/SaveTraits – Complete
Archetype definitions include paths to directories of traits. – Complete
Simple race definition XML files. – Complete
Race definitions include paths to directories of traits. – Complete
Mark traits as required/optional when included by archetypes/races. – Complete
Sample racial traits. – Complete
Sample archetype traits. – Complete
Sample stat mod traits. – Complete
Sample buff/debuff traits. – Complete
Standardize individual skill nodes/handlers. – Complete
Improve testing around pre-existing tags and components. – Complete

New Cards:

As a Developer, I’d like to prototype various combat animations to support future system improvements during Beta.
Offensive Combat locomotion prototype:
Combat 0° – Complete
Combat 45° – Complete
Combat 90° – Complete
Combat 135° – Complete
Combat 180° – Complete
Combat 215° – Complete
Combat 270° – Complete
Combat 315° – Complete
Defensive Combat locomotion prototype:
Combat 0° – Complete
Combat 45° – Complete
Combat 90° – Complete
Combat 135° – Complete
Combat 180° – Complete
Combat 215° – Complete
Combat 270° – Complete
Combat 315° – Complete
Upper body two-handed hammer crushing attack prototype:
Offensive and defensive stance and swing keyframes. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like the set of animations the player uses to be controlled by the player’s stance, equipment, and other such gameplay factors.
First Pass:
Mode and ModalGroup definitions in config. – Complete
Current mode state tracking. – Complete
Console/admin slash commands for listing and changing modes. – Complete
Skill nodes triggered by entering/exiting modes. – Complete
Initialize active modes correctly on login/spawn/whatever. – Complete
Skill nodes and sample parts for changing modes. – Complete
Samples of functional-but-not-final ‘Travel’, ‘Aggressive’, and ‘Defensive’ stances or a similar small starting set. – Complete
Feedback audits. – Complete
Second Pass:
Inline definition of modes within parts, no separate list in archetype, ID instead of name, and default/initial mode configuration. – Complete
Specify active effect duration in terms of current mode, rather than just time. – Complete
Require specific stances for certain abilities. – Complete

Quite a list. 🙂

Starting off today’s art-tastic part of the update: some concept art from the Realm of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Here’s some Fall Court armor.

And here’s some matching helms.

Moving from concept art, here’s some armor making its way through the development pipeline.

Here’s some “epic” axes from the three Realms. First, the TDD and Arthurian.

Now the Vikings.

Next, how about some fine, but not epic, axes from the three Realms. First up, the Arthurians.

Now for the TDD.

And finally, the Vikings.

Here’s an animation series of shots.

Now it’s time for some screenshots. This week, we added Bloom (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom_(shader_effect) and god rays to our engine. While there is still a lot of tweaking to be done, you can see the improvement from last week, let alone last year.

To showcase this week’s rendering changes, we’ve done a little searching in the autumn forest to find a break in the canopy highlighting this little sapling. Note the subtle light shafts breaking through the leaves and the bloom radiating off the sapling, but also softening the edges of the distant and close highlights and shadows.

On the southern island we have a much greener palette to work with. Here we’re showcasing that golden hour all us humans love, right as the sun is setting. Note the subtle shafts breaking through the trees, but also the bloom softening the environment just beyond the trees. We’ve also introduced eye adjustment which can be seen here. We are simulating the opening and closing of a person’s iris, which occurs as you enter or exit dark and bright areas. The consequence, as your eye adjusts to the dark shadows you are in, is anything that is bright, such as the sky in this shot, will be slightly more blown out. This is all very much a work in progress, and I must preface that while it seems we are going for realism, we certainly plan to add more fantasy elements. Right now a more realistic world helps us tune all these lighting changes as we can gauge our work against what “feels” right, which is sometimes a hard thing to figure out. Trust us, we have a ton of knobs to tune now, so anyone jumping in will certainly find some great shots, and some not so great ones. Bear with us. Like we told you, it’s going to keep getting better.

One thing I want to add in here is the updates we’ve done to our existing armor materials. Here’s a shot of the Arthurian heavy armor in the autumn forest. Note the subtle scratches in the armor, the rivets, the now straightened creases between plates. Also, note how the armor picks up the color from the environment which is part of our previous ambient lighting update. (Ignore that little black alpha issue on his belt buckle! Shh!)

In other CSE-related news, as many of you know, one of our investors, Karen Lauder, has been involved in the entertainment industry for decades, dating back to her founding of Abandon Entertainment. As long-term Dark Age of Camelot players know, Abandon Entertainment invested in Mythic Entertainment, which allowed us to make that great game. Karen, and her daughters, have continued down that path. Her youngest daughter, Danielle, is a beautiful and talented young and aspiring actress, and her latest film, Charnel House, is now available on ITunes, here (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-charnel-house/id1163401550). It will soon be available on-demand on a number of cable systems, including, DIRECTV, DISH, COMCAST, TIME-WARNER, GOOGLE, XBOX, and many more in the weeks to come! So, if you are looking for an interesting and different horror movie, and some young and talented acting, you should check it out. And if you like it, please write a review. And as always, for the purposes of full disclosure, Karen was formerly Karen Jacobs, and she is my beloved sister, while Danielle is one of my equally adored nieces. I’ve been telling her for years that she is a special talent, and I believe this is one of the steps she will take on her way to fully display that talent.

In terms of this weekend’s test, we hit a last-minute snag with the chat server. The game is running fine, but for some reason the chat server picked this afternoon to act up. We are going to run a full Alpha, Beta 1, and IT test this weekend, but we don’t consider the build stable, so expect problems. OTOH, we want to show off how much the build has changed since the last time we opened it up for our Beta 1 folks. The big things to keep in mind are:

  1. HDR/Bloom/God rays are still an early work-in-progress. We have lots and lots of tweaking to do with them. Expect some places to be too bright, armor might be washed out, and at times the god rays might be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that you won’t turn into a pillar of salt, and they will get better.
  2. The chat server is as unreliable as a politician’s promises, so we disabled it for the weekend.

Some other notes for this weekend’s test:
The main changes we want to test are:

  • Colin’s network view changes
  • Marc’s timed resource (health/blood/stamina) netcode changes

The secondary changes we want to test are:

  • Ben’s stance check-in (Players need to know how to make a combat and travel stance, as combat abilities require you being in combat stance first.)
  • George’s GPU warning fix

What we want players to do:

  • Run around and kill each other
  • Using skills now requires players to be in combat stance; they will need to craft a combat stance skill. (Marc may be in the process of changing this) Combat stance is now the default.
  • Pay attention to health/blood/stamina bars (using combat log as a reference), to make sure these appear to take damage and regenerate as expected.
  • Per normal, take note of any warning/assert popups and report them (with text and/or screenshots) to the forums.
  • Take note of anything that looks incredibly unexpected; players warping around, instant death, players rendering inside out, etc.
  • Take extra note of any warning/assert that looks networking related.
  • Lower priority: occasionally swap between stances (requires a travel stance skill to be crafted and a combat stance skill to be crafted).

Bugs

  • The UI will occasionally freeze If there are a lot of damage/blood popup numbers. This can cause the UI to lock up.  Usually this can be remedied by typing /reloadui

Additional Note:

  • Bots will be running around the island on and off.

Enjoy the weekend testing folks. Please post all bugs, comments, etc. here (https://forums.camelotunchained.com/topic/15348-alpha-beta-1-and-it-weekend-stability-test-nov-11th-already-in-progress/), but again, please know that this is an unstable build, so expect problems.

-Mark