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The Andrewmation has landed!

Folks,

Fantastic Friday, all! This was a big week here at CSE, as Andrew landed the first pass of his brand-new animation system. This system is one that he has been waiting to make for a long time, and while it is a first pass, it lays the foundation for what will be CSE’s animation system, now and in the future. Exciting days here, as we saw “Andrewmation” in action for the first time this week. Now, like any other first pass, this system isn’t anywhere near finished, but it has been architected to be built on in the same way somebody like the Backer Necromaniak builds his amazing creations in C.U.B.E. In other words, start from the ground floor, and work your way up to greatness. In addition to that, lots of work got done even as we continue to fight through a warmer, but sicker-than-usual season here in beautiful, downtown Fairfax, Virginia! Okay, on to today’s Top Tenish list.

Top Tenish

  1. WIP First pass improved animation system: As seen in this week’s stream here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJsq8yzFWDc ), Andrew dropped in the first pass of our new animation system, as well as several secondary system improvements that were needed to support it. Besides the obvious effects of this new tech, it also greatly improves the of workflow of our animators. As with any teardown and build up process, we’re going from the bottom up, with a much firmer foundation, to support more functionality than we had with the previous version. We’ve already got much more variety in fidgets and idles, smoother walks and runs, and attacks that can play while you’re moving. We’re currently working hard to incorporate even more information from the skill system into the animation system’s decisions. Up next, we’ll start customizing animations even further, using your Realm, race, class, gender, and gear choices. All of this should be considered a true work-in-progress that will improve over the lifetime of game, using both internal and external feedback and suggestions.
  1. WIP Increased terrain performance: While investigating a crash during saving in our terrain editor, George took a brief detour into our terrain generation threading. After throwing around some ideas with other engineers, he was able to make optimizations to terrain threading to utilize all available CPU cores and avoid locking threads when needing to change data through the editor. While still in progress, we’re excited to see what improvements to performance may be gained client side.
  1. WIP Building performance: In the ongoing quest for improved building performance, Brad updated the relevant threading model to make use of a feature of our threading library, ParLL. This allowed him to remove a bunch of locks and simplify the code. Every little bit counts when making performance improvements.
  1. Patcher Testing: After a successful test with IT Backers last week, we opened testing to our Alpha Backers. The second phase of testing went swimmingly, and next week we’ll begin the process of merging our experimental patcher with the default one.
  1. WIP Items: We’re closing in on checking off the addition of more armor parts, such as for helmet, face, and neck, as well as functionality for multiple armor layers, such as shirt and chest armor. We’re looking at adding some art tasking to further support this for Beta 1. Plus, this week, we’re working on giving the designers the ability to set a player’s starting inventory without an engineer’s intervention.
  1. Items Part 2: Along with all the improvements to our item system, we began updating the ability for artists to quickly set their inventory. This is fairly handy for a quick in-game visual check as new assets are created.
  1. WIP increasing zone/island size to 32 km: Previously, our zone size was limited to 16 km. Thanks to several of our newish engineers, we were able to complete several several tasks, key among which was creating multiple subzones, allowing us to go even bigger. While we still plan to go much bigger later, this zone will take roughly 35 minutes to travel from corner to corner, and it only represents one of the islands for Beta 1. FYI, on the 32km island, which is 1,204 square kilometers, we can have over 300,000 plots the size of the ones currently in the game.
  1. WIP server security improvements: OpenSSL is a software library we use to give us secure communications over the network. Marc spent some time this week upgrading from the older library to a newer hotness, LibreSSL, which works much like its predecessor but offers more security.
  1. WIP Art – Place of Power: Dionne spent this week beginning the “arting up” process on the Place of Power. This involves fine-tuning and adding geometry details, as well as adding in a first pass on materials. In an effort to work smart, we plan to take some of the assets from the Place of Power to use in the environment around it.
  1. Art – Animation: Scott and Sandra spent the start of the week continuing work on greatsword and polearm animation. This has segued, into working with Andrew on the new animation system. They are entering pre-existing animation assets into the system to, in some cases, see things like fidgets in-game for the first time. A lot of our different weapon-specific animations will be seen by us and by you for the first time, so expect continued refinements as we see how things look in the game. As this is one of Andrew’s “must haves” for the game, expect the animation system to continue to get lots of attention going forward.
  1. WIP – Art – VFX: Improvements continue on our VFX system. In the meantime, Mike finished a pass on some Place of Power VFX and has spent the week learning a new fluid dynamics plugin in order to improve on our future VFX visuals.
  1. Art – Deeper Darker forest biome: Tyler built up several large wood branches, barks, bits, and other stuff for use in the forest, as well as for future use in other areas. These specific pieces will contribute to a different look for this particular forest, as well as help add a realistic level of clutter for an old-growth forest.
  1. Art – Jon sculpting: This week, Jon created several rough plant models for use in the new forest. Once we get them in and figure out our scale and placement, he’ll finish them up. In the meantime, he’s worked with Tyler to mock up some “unsettling” body poses to use in the forest. Once that’s complete, it’s back to hands, skin, and hair improvements.

A fun and exciting week for us all, both Backers and developers, as the new animation system landed. In terms of User Stories, we had 16 old cards with 44 completes and 1 new card with 8 completes. As we continue to work on major systems, there will be fewer but more important updates to our User Stories.

As a Backer, I’d like to have abilities associated with stances.
Two characters of the same Realm will collide with each other unless one or both of them are in Travel Stance. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 06 – deeper darker forest.
Update scanned wood assets to utilize repeating textures. – Complete
Create several face models for use in trees. – Complete
Mock face tree for scale testing. – Complete
Create several body models for use in trees. – Complete
First pass rough plant models for use in scale testing. – Complete
First pass “root vents” for tree models for scale testing. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
Load and compile config files into single assemblies. – Complete
Create a small system to cache asset files locally on the build server by their MD5 to speed up (re)builds. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see graphical and networking performance improvements, when building and destroying structures.
Change APIs for getting BuildingGrids to speed up iteration over children. – Complete
Improve threading model for creating renderables. – Complete

As a German Backer, I’d like to visit the German version of the Camelot Unchained website.
Vikings:
Arisen – Complete
Child of Loki – Complete
HelBound – Complete
Mjölnir – Complete
Shadow Walker – Complete
Skald – Complete
Slaughterwolf – Complete
Stonehealer – Complete
Wave Weaver – Complete
Winter’s Shadow – Complete
Second pass audit all new translations. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see improvements in server stability, speed, and robustness.
Upgrade from OpenSSL to LibreSSL. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to see improvements in the editor to facilitate my work.
Add editor option to tell the build server to rebuild.  – Complete
Improve gameplay-config-xml-editing experience to validate that the file parses/compiles properly. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to pick an item up off the ground, put it in my inventory, and if applicable, equip it.
Items and Equipment:
Set up items code-side to recognize multiple possible slots to which they can equip. – Complete
Armor:
Break down gear slots into more granular armor slots. – Complete
Account for the future addition of upper and lower layers. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to interact with the first pass of a Place of Power in Camelot Unchained.
First pass Place of Power ambient music. – Complete
First pass Place of Power SFX. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to play and build on a home island of each Realm, as well as a main contested island.
32km Test Island:
First pass rough layout for testing. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to prototype various combat animations to support future system improvements during Beta.
Two-handed greatsword animations:
Defensive attack 04 – Pierce mid. – Complete
Defensive attack polish. – Complete
Polearm animations:
Offensive attack 03 – Pierce mid. – Complete
Block. – Complete
Offensive attacks polish. – Complete

As a Backer, I want to seamlessly move between islands and zones without being aware that I’m moving between different game servers.
Added world space offsets for zones, buildings, doors, and items. – Complete
Improved OnGroundLocation to help ensure that the zone world offset gets accounted for. – Complete
Increase physics world size from 10km to 40km, and subzone count from 2×2 to 5×5. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to improve, and add to, the SFX for re-abilitation.
Create library of grunts, yells, death screams, etc., for both male and female. – Complete
Create first pass class voice sets. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer in B1, I’d like to see improvements in the visual quality of armor for CU.
Geometry improvements and reductions:
Create improved geometry solution for hands, and do rigging test.  – 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.
Create additional class-specific stance SFX. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to hear ambient Realm-based music during loading island transitions.
First pass generic ambient music. – Complete

New Cards:

As a Backer, I want an animation system that blends multiple animations together, allowing for immersive and fun combat.
Google Sheet integration:
Integrate Google Sheets for animation clip data management. – Complete
Alerts and error comments when the build server builds with unusable or unrecognized data entries. – Complete
First pass data entry existing movement, fidget, and basic attacks for testing. – Complete
Implement new skeleton builder. – Complete
AnimSets and Clips embedded in SkeletonResource. – Complete
Formalize the concept of skeletons, with bones and verts able to be retargeted between them. – Complete
New client-side PoseGenerator to replace CharacterPlaybackState. – Complete
Generic SkillEffect on the client that can be applied via ActiveSkills. – Complete

A lot of stuff in the last two weeks, especially considering the downtime we’ve had due to illnesses. We’re a little lighter in terms of new art, for the same reason, but we still have some cool things to show off. Let’s start with some work from Jon. First up, here’s some environmental props.

Wonder where they would fit in best? Now, how about some plants:

How about a statue?

Man, he doesn’t look happy. You can guess at the reasons. 🙂

As per today’s update, and my response to the almost weekly question of a teasing movie quote: “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn this way.”

Drawn and sculptured, I say!

Not your typical tree, right?

For today’s screenshots, here’s a woman who has a point to make.

And as the day winds down, one fully-armored man looks across the lands unencumbered by the limitations of draw distance found in other MMORPGs. He can see to the distant horizon, and watch, from afar, for those who would invade his Realm.

And that is something that sets us apart from just about every other MMORPG out there, and that isn’t changing…except to get better.

And that’s it for today’s update. We will not be holding any tests this weekend, just as we suspected, but we do expect to have some next week. Rarely am I happy when we can’t have a test, but this time, I’m quite content. The addition of the new animation system is so worth it.

Have a great weekend everybody, and as always, thanks for the support and patience!

-Mark