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Looking Good, Feeling Good – Friday, August 11th, 2017

Folks,

Tyler headed out of the office this week for some much-needed family vacation, so this week’s update is brought to you by me, Brittany! It’s been yet another busy week here at CSE. The West Coast has unfortunately suffered quite a heat wave, but luckily, it hasn’t slowed us down (big thanks to this week’s hero: The CSE West air conditioner!). This week saw some more massive Bot Battles, as we held both impromptu and planned tests. Our IT, Alpha, and Beta 1 Backers all got a chance to participate! In case you missed it, you can hear MJ giddily relay the details in our weekly update stream HERE [https://www.twitch.tv/videos/166221677], as well as read more about these epic fights in the first item of our Top Tenish, below.

Speaking of which, let’s get to it!

Top Tenish:

  1. WIP – Tech – Bot Battles: Our IT, Alpha, and Beta 1 Backers got to participate in a Big Bot Battle (how many words can we use that start with ‘B’ in the same sentence?)! While not anywhere near the highest numbers we’ve been running with recently, this week’s test saw between 240 – 480 Bots, both fighters and archers, running around and attacking each other on the battlefield. Well, until we cranked it up a notch at the end of each test, hitting about 1K. 🙂 This allowed our players with lower-end video cards to experience the chaos right along with us. Our next step will be to increase the number of Bots even more, so we can stress our systems still further! Do stressed Bots dream of electric sheep?
  2. WIP – Tech – Performance Improvements: Brad and Andrew have been working together to improve how we manage our memory, particularly around performance during a Realm control change. Recently, we incorporated a product called Telemetry, a robust profiling tool, into our development process. It helps us track down performance, threading, and memory issues. As fixes are made, we can immediately see the impact of changes across every single thread in real time. Kinda handy for games that aren’t as multi-threaded as ours, but a necessity for us!
  3. WIP – Tech – Preflight Abilities: Gabe’s current work on pre-flighting skills landed. This is the process of predicting the outcome of abilities before the information is sent to the client. This commit fixed a number of bugs in the process, like some sound effects triggering more than once. Each step gets us closer and closer to more refined control over when and where our SFX and VFX fire during the execution of abilities.
  4. WIP – Tech – Item Trading: Christina is improving our item-trading experience to be more secure, replacing the current “drop an item and take it” functionality. As with most of our features, the first step is to build the backend, allowing players to choose a player to trade with, the items they want to trade, and to confirm the trade before it happens using slash commands. Once this is all working, we’ll add a UI to streamline the player-facing experience. When we are further along, we’ll be asking our Backers to try to item dupe in our system. Nothing signals a fun evening like a developer saying “Dupe until you drop!”
  5. WIP – Tech – Siege Engines on Buildings: Matt added support for siege engines to be placed on buildings. Now you can position yourself on the perimeter wall of a structure and rain bolts down upon your enemies. It may seem like a small update, but it’s the kind of change that has a big impact on creating our epic battles!
  6. WIP – Tech – NPCs: This week, Colin started the planning process for building our NPCs, both to support our needs for Beta 1 and also farther down the line. At the basic level, NPCs can act as signposts, offering information to players as they approach. Therefore, we need to be able to manage the text strings for each NPC and allow them to trigger actions when a player approaches.
  7. WIP – Art – Stormwatch Concepts: Michelle has been concepting the “lighthouse on steroids” structure to be awarded to our “Along the Stormwatch” Kickstarter tier Bakers.
  8. Art – New Bot Testing Map: To aid in our Bot testing, Tyler built a new test island. This island is roughly the size of our current testing island, but features a ring of trees with a clearing in the middle, which is perfect for Bot testing–or a picnic with 1000 of your BFFs!
  9. WIP – Art – Healer VFX: Mike is working through creating assets for basic healer effects. We’ll be able to start assembling their various parts when the support for playing effects on ability targets gets further along.
  10. WIP – Art – Mine: Dionne is working on importing the mine asset(s) into the game. Previously, it was one massive asset, which is difficult to work with. She’s breaking it up into smaller chunks for easier loading, and optimizing assets as this happens. This is another step along the way towards the kind of mines we talked about during the Kickstarter.
  11. WIP – Art/Design: Greatsword Animations: Ben and Scott have been working together to polish the greatsword animations, making sure that each animation feels solid and flows from one into the next. It’s critical that Design and Animation work closely to make sure these not only look good but feel great to our players. Contrary to the immortal words of Billy Crystal as Fernando Lamas, it is not better to look good than to feel good: we have to do both.

Not bad, huh? When we’re sitting down to do the Top Tenish every week, I always wonder how we can possibly come up with ten or more things every week. But this team works so hard that the list fills up instantly. The progress is really inspiring to be a part of.

Now let’s check out some of the more visual parts of the update, shall we?

In between helping out with greatsword fidgets, Sandra has been chopping away at attack and reaction animations involving the right-handed mace. This is a continuation of her work from last week. You can check out the fully animated render HERE [https://youtu.be/XyCB5HqXzh0]

Michelle continued work on her concepts for the Stormwatch towers, which are coming along great. It’s not surprising, due to the level of talent that Michelle brings to this team.

She’s also been building concepts for different quivers. Here are the first passes of some variations on our neutral quiver. Next up, she’ll start exploring some Realm options for basic quivers.

Dionne continues to build out the mine, which looks more and more intense as the weeks go by. As mentioned in the Top Tenish, this mine is quite large, so it’s critical we break it down into smaller bits.

Jon has been cranking away at the TDD portal, seen below in an out-of-game render. We still need some textures on this thing, but it’s already headed in a great direction. Jon streamed the sculpting of this earlier in the week, which you can watch HERE.  [https://www.twitch.tv/videos/165950206]

In terms of weekend testing, because of the tests we have held for the last two weeks, there won’t be testing over this weekend. However, we are hopeful that next weekend we will be able to hold our first Big Bot Battles Weekend Test since re-abilitation happened! That way, even more of our Alpha, Beta 1, and IT folks can jump into a BBB and see what it is like to be in a game where 500 Bots + players can actually do battle without it becoming a slideshow/lagfest.

Each week sees more and more improvements from all members of the team, both on the technical and visual fronts. And it truly does take a group effort to make something this epic, while still being performant and pretty. Fortunately, we have the right group in place to deliver on that. It’s been another great week here, and we can’t thank you enough for your continued support. CU next time!

-b