CSE Evening Update – Friday December 16th, 2016 – Keeping the Plates Spinning
TLDR: If you want to jump to the top-ten-ish, skip down to the first bold text. If you want to skip to the weekend’s testing update, skip to the second section of bold text. If you want to read about a very productive week, read on…
It has been a very busy week. All good, all good! Don’t let your imagination get away from you. Let me take you on a short journey of my week. Each Monday morning Brittany and I have a list of concerns, tasks, details, that each of us wants to cover, as well as a long list of what everyone is working on, in case it becomes relevant in our morning conversation with Mark, Andrew, Tim, and Scott, as we prep for the week. For both of us, the primary concern is to make sure everyone is able to work well, make sure any possible problems are rectified quickly, and make sure the week’s goals as a team are met to the best of our ability, Murphy’s law withstanding. (We’ll come back to this guy later.) One thing on the top of my list was this, “To Do: Autumn/forest – sticks, logs, rocks, bushes, tree variations, moar – then build that into an update on the mod itself.” Now just because it was near the top doesn’t mean there was a priority, it’s just something I really want to get working on. (We’ll come back to this guy too.)
As much as I’d like to go in order here, let’s just hit the highlights. Monday and Tuesday fly by. Being a Producer requires you to jump from issue to issue quickly, solving and moving on. Add in the environment art oversight I do and the days tend to fill quickly. During Wednesday morning stand-ups I find myself saying, “Now that I’ve gotten all those Producer things out of the way, I’m going to try and just be head’s down in art today.” Of course Wednesday is also the day Mark is flying out to join our Seattle team members for a general get together, meet some Backers while he’s there, look for a good CSE Seattle office space (Which we may have found.), as well as possibly stream the week’s update, remotely. So there’s an extra bit of “Is everything taken care of before Mark leaves?” running around in my head. Small things like, “Does he have his laptop? Is he set to stream from it? etc.” (We’ll come back to that last one.)
Wednesday evening, Dionne and I check in on tasking we set up Monday morning on the place of power. As a reminder, we’re working from Michelle’s concept:
Boom! – This sounds cooler in my head. But look at that! I’m jealous I’ve handed this off to Dionne. So she has been working on that this week, with a focus of roughing it out so we can get it in the world early for testing combat on and around it. Starting from Ben’s block model, and Jon’s and my rough assets, she’s making some good progress….
Boom!? I know it’s not as flashy, but if you want to see the progress of how we go from concept to in-game asset, there you go. WIP in Maya. If you’d like to actually watch this being worked on, you can catch Dionne’s stream from Thursday.
Thursday morning comes around and I think to myself, “Man I really want to get those updated screenshots knocked out so we can update the website galleries. First order of business for screenshots is to re-take all those shots I took of Necromaniak’s buildings in C.U.B.E. before George did his HDR and bloom push. Definite thanks are due to Necro not only for his clear enthusiasm of C.U.B.E. but also for these amazing creations. And thank you George for you first, and second, pass of our lighting improvements.
So let me just head off where I know some of you may be going with this. No this is not the final lighting in the game. No this is not the final look of the game, and no, that thing you’re looking at right now wondering why it looks so good, or maybe so bad, will probably not stay that way. Trust me when I say we see the things you see and probably some you don’t, and have plans to make them better. This is something we’ve said before, proven, and continue to iterate not only in context here, but in general practice on the team. What I do want you to see is the wider range of color and brightness in the after shot. We actually overcompensated our brightness and saturation levels on our materials/textures in the previous lighting. So of course things look much more vibrant in the after shot. What this means is we not only have more accurate color representation between Photoshop and the game, but we now have a wider range to work with. We can now push vibrant colors in one area, like the current Autumn forest, or mute and desaturate things for something like a foggy swamp. Think of this as a wider range of possibilities. That’s a good thing!
Thursday: While Scott is working up a sweat updating and auditing last weeks armor and character work, Michelle, Jon, and myself are checking in on progress of the Place of Power statues Jon streamed earlier this week HERE and HERE.
Boom! Check out the scale of these things! Plan is to put these before the “bridges” to the place of power, or the POP as we call it in Trello. Oh, and did I say bridges? While not a plan for the start of Beta, Mark wanted to make sure the place of power was something we could “turn off” if need be, or could possibly support realm ownership. Just today Michelle reworked her original concept to include this.
Mid day I finally get a moment to stop and work on some art. The reason being, that despite Brittany still being relatively new, she and the engineering team are working great together. It’s also odd that she and I seem to already share a “Psychic Oversight” connection. But I digress. There’s a whole lot of coordinating that happens on a daily basis outside of individuals completing tasks. Without that oversight, there’s the potential for things simply going wrong, any number of ways. I think every time there’s some conflict a Producer is born.
This is the part where I put in a picture of what I was working on, with credit to Mark for the idea. You’ll have to go find it on the north island, on Hatchery this weekend. I’ll just say that it’s important for us to make fun of ourselves, while we’re busting ass.
Remember that guy Murphy I mentioned earlier? Apparently testing the laptop in the office for our Seattle stream really didn’t matter when you plug in a different webcam. You know those USB plug and play things? Through forty five minutes before the stream, and into 15 minutes after we were supposed to start we finally got things going. For those of you who were gracious with your patience, thank you. For those of you who were patient enough to wait through the pre-show, I doubly thank you.
For those that tuned in Thursday, Mark streamed from George’s house in Seattle, ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?
For those of you jumping past all my words, here’s the top-ten-ish for the week, covered during the stream:
1. WIP – More stabilization of networking: One of the most interesting aspects of programming is learning how different languages manipulate memory. But when delays start showing up at intervals, it’s time to go in and work some magic. Marc, Tim, and Rob have been hard at work continuing to stabilize these spikes, bending C#’s memory management to their will.
2. Particle performance improvements: In a continuation of last week’s optimizations, George found a way to make particles three times faster! This will make it much easier to compare performance as we test different methods of optimizing our shaders.
3. Fixed drowning: Through all of our bot testing, we found a performance hit when a large number of bots all tried to drown in the same area. As our bots stress things as players would, fixing the issue gives everyone a nice performance gain, bots or not.
4. WIP – Banes and Boons Improvements: With each new Bane or Boon we implement, we find new ways we can extend and debug the in-progress framework we’re building. Once we add a UI on top of everything, we will be much more confident in our foundation.
5. WIP sound + abilities: Playing sounds with abilities continues to make steady progress. dB and Gabe have been getting SFX hooked up to primary and secondary components. Just one step closer to achieving a more in-depth feel to our ability system.
6. WIP Animation System: Because Andrew’s animation changes are such a large improvement to our existing system, he’s been adding in additional ways to test current work but also better prepare us for our animators needs moving forward.
7. WIP Tools: One of the un-sung heroes of any project is the guy building and managing tools for the team. Bull has been creating a robust tagging system making it easier for us to work smarter, not harder, with our ever growing asset library.
8. WIP Art: We’ve begun work in earnest on the Place of Power. We’ve had three streams this week with both Jon and Dionne working on assets for it, including some awesome, realm themed statues. This is all off some amazing concept art Michelle completed which was in our previous updates.
9. WIP Art: This week Tyler continues working on new assets and materials for our environments. Part of his goal is to have fun things to come across in the world while exploring.
10. Art VFX: As part of our improvements to our VFX engine, Cross continues to make new vfx to use not only in the current biomes, but future ones as well.
11. Art Armor: Sandra has begun rigging our TDD Fall Court heavy armor for not only the female TDD, but also the male and female luchorpan.
Before the stream I asked Sandra if she could take all the CSE Seattle folks and add ’em to a great image to accompany our stream update:
Friday. Do you think I’ve made any sticks, twigs, or bushes yet? Nope. Friday morning is typically very busy as we are finishing up any code we want for weekend testing. In this case we’ve started off with three spinning plates to watch, as we coordinated some ongoing improvements related to physics from Colin, sound on abilities from Gabe and dB, ability fixes from several people, small threading improvements from Matt, as well as a stretch goal to get in the first part of a server performance fix for our 1000+ bot tests we’ve been working on. All of this work has been ongoing, it’s just that last push from Wednesday to Friday that can demand attention. While Brittany, Tim, and Marc, work to push these things along, I was able to get some time with Michelle to really work out improvements in not only our communication, but how we want to improve the process of designing realm ownership visuals of biomes. I’d love to show you some of the art that came out of those discussions, but not just yet. Maybe next week.
Remember that guy Murphy? Of course he had to come throw a wrench into things this evening, which sorta slowed us down. Tim, Marc, and Matt stayed late trying to figure out the problem on our Hatchery server and landed that last minute clutch band aid. That’s a thing right? Two for three though, really really good! So on to this weekend’s testing notes:
Weekend Testing Information:
Wyrmling Prep – IT and Alpha level Backers.
Hatchery – IT level Backers.
Now until Monday, unless something goes boom. This goes for both servers, and doubly so for Hatchery as it is our live dev environment and contains more changes than Prep.
Wyrmling Prep has a few content changes we’d love tested. Gabe and dB have been hard at work on hooking up sound effects to ability components and Ben has been tweaking numbers here and there.
Hatchery – Hatchery includes all the changes noted above for Wyrmling Prep, as well as some networking backend improvements. As mentioned previously, Colin is working on moving our physics server to its own process, which will give us huge performance gains when he finishes this task. The first part of that change is live, and we want to make sure everything is stable before more large changes make their way in early next week.
Please post your feedback and bugs here:
IT Hatchery testing – https://forums.
IT and Alpha Wyrmling Prep testing – https://forums.
If you’re headed into either Hatchery or Wyrmling Prep:
Run around on the available island
Create abilities using different components. Use abilities to try and kill other players and dummies.
If you run out of munitions, use the command /refillammo to give yourself more.
Use the below ability parts, as they all have sound effects.
Melee – Broad Cleave, Crushing Blow, Deft Thrust, Desperation Blow, Disorienting Pummel, Impact Strike, Overpowering Strike, Precision Slash, Vital Strike
Shout – Empower Tenacity, Exceed Limits, Final Stand, Noble Virtue, Rallying Call, Resolute Charge
Melee – Arcing Slash, Deep Laceration, Disorienting Blow, Dominating Crush, Extended Lunge, Precision Blow, Slowing Strike, Sudden Strike, Swift Stab
Shout – Arduous Exertion, Disorienting Shout, Overwhelming Fury, Second Wind
Magic – Furious Shock, Thunder Strike
Melee – Blade Twist, Charged Burst, Crippling Blow, Driving Lunge, Lighting Shockwave, Pulverizing Impact, Startling Slash, Static Smash, Immeasurable Brutality
Bottle – Careless Splash, Vial Toss
Magic – Alteration of Life, Creeping Petrification, Curative Influence, Fingers of Earth, Languid Rejuvenation, Rejuvenation Recovery, Sand Blast, Violent Tremor, Imbued Shard
Stone – Drop Stone, Stone Cast, Terrestrial Transference
Things to look out for: (Please make sure and note which server you were in!)
1. If you hit an assert, please post either the text or a screenshot to the forums.
2. Report anything that crashes, general slow-downs, or anything that produces weird behavior.
3. Take note of anything that looks incredibly unexpected – players warping around, instant death, players rendering inside out, etc.
4. Does a skill part that SHOULD have a sound effect not play one? Let us know!
It’s been a long and very productive week here. I know I’ve said that often, and it’s not me twisting the facts or adding embellishment. (Maybe with the “Boom.”) It’s just not how we do things here. We work hard, we’re honest, and we own up to our stumbles and our mistakes. That makes it all the better when I can simply say, it was a good week. Not only were we productive in the office here stateside, but one of our team members has been most productive abroad!
Congrats Charles on your new team member!
P.S. – It’s just me in the office auditing my spelling and grammar, with a bit of help from Mark sitting in traffic in Seattle. Sorry for any errors.
P.P.S. – Scott took this great shot of our male TDD in the Fall Court armor this afternoon. Had to share.