A December to Remember – Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
Hey there! It’s been a really quiet month of November for all of us right?!?! 🙂 Now that December is upon us, it’s time to take a look back at some of the work we did on Camelot Unchained in November and what’s coming up in this December. For the last few months we’ve been heavily focused on tech and performance improvements for Camelot Unchained, especially when it comes to AMD cards, forests and large land masses. And while we’ve made a lot of progress in those areas, the importance of those improvements are not as visible as they should be for our Backers. Well, that has already changed a lot and is going to change a lot more over this month. Why? Look at the first item in Top Tenish and also read the newsletter’s stories on RvR3 (linkage here – https://mailchi.mp/citystateentertainment/unveiled-camelot-unchained-newsletter-642356) and the Deep Dark Verdant Forest as well as what we will be focusing on over the next few months. Lots of good, and I hope exciting, things to read about and see, via screenshots and a .gif.
Top Tenish for November, 2020
- WIP – Design, Art, & Tech – Environment: After two weeks of hard work, the art and tech teams have finished the first phase of reinventing the Verdant Forest biome in CU. In addition to allowing us to reevaluate our art pipelines, this process aims to build an atmospheric, dense forest biome within CU that delivers on game lore, performs well in-engine, and becomes a permanent part of the launched game. As we build this biome, we’re also building the new, expedited process by which other biomes can be created.
- Michelle brought up some of the initial concept work from the Kickstarter showing the kind of dark, dense forest we want for this biome. Kara then went in and broke the concept down into individual assets. This new concept pass gave us the basis for the biome’s first trees, some gnarled roots and glowing ground cover, and dipped into possible crafting potential and lore.
- Joseph and Scout took the concept work and put it through the 3D pipeline, starting with a 3D sculpted trunk for the first tree, the Elkhorn. Next, Joseph used a combination of 3D modeling and Speedtree to attach tree limbs, hanging elements like vines, and two tiers of tree canopies to the modeled trunk. Now that the tree itself is assembled, they’re continuing to create and apply textures onto these items to use throughout the biome.
- After passing Joseph the sculpted Elkhorn trunk, Scout started tackling the modeling and texturing of undergrowth for the forest. These roots, flowers, and terrain textures are being added to the biome as they’re completed, with more in the pipeline.
- George is working alongside Joseph to develop a new process for deep forests and foliage that ensures consistently high performance with and without AOIT. They continue to iterate on this process – first from the technical side, next from the aesthetic side – as we build better-looking assets with better performance in-engine.
- Moving forward, we’ll be focused on: optimizing this process with Speedtree for quick and variable production of new trees; populating the new biome with fully-textured (and sometimes bioluminescent) ground cover and terrain; and keeping all of these elements in line with the engine performance standards we’ve identified throughout. Once all of these factors get the art and tech green light, this TDD forest biome should become an official part of CU.
- WIP – Design & Art – RvR3 Map Evolution: Chris and Kara are currently working on an informative section for the new RvR3 map that will be featured in this month’s Dose of Design. This new island contains brand new world- and realm-specific lore, existing points of interest, and new biomes, including the developing TDD forest.
- They take a deep dive into the origin of the RvR process and how it’s evolving. This will include multiple progress maps showing points of interest, keeps, and biome distribution, as well as information on gameplay elements and mechanics, supporting visuals, and teasers of lore.
- Also to note for this edition of the Newsletter: there won’t be a section for the State of the Build as they’ll be expanding the first part of the Dose of Design to address key concerns that were brought up on the forums in regard to this next phase of the battleground.
- There will also be a small teaser snip in the Dash of Lore that will follow behind the Dose of Design section to expand upon the RvR experience, but will not be a tell all!
- For those who were looking forward to the Morrigan content, that has been pushed to a later date so that we could bring you the RvR material right away.
- Done – Design – New NPCs in Battleground Zone
- Chris has made a handful of new NPCs available for testing at the Test Temple. In place of your typical Lord, you’ll find one of the following Champions: either the Arthurian Champion, Viking Veteran, Tuatha De Danann Hero, or the factionless Abhorrent Knight.
- Champions are considerably less powerful than their Lords, but should provide a decent challenge when not pathing-impaired.
- In addition to the Champions, spread throughout the temple you’ll find a few more faction-flavored additions: Archers (Arthurian Marksman, Tuatha De Danann Hunter, Viking Archer), Healers (Arthurian Mender, Tuatha De Danann Soothsayer, Viking Healer), and Tanks (Arthurian Defender, Tuatha De Danann Protector, Viking Guardian).
- Done – Tech & Design – Bug Fixes
- Wylie fixed an issue where buildings showed up with magenta missing chunks.
- Chris fixed some cases where Keep Lords could spawn in walls.
- Anthony fixed outer void damage so it no longer triggers incorrectly from songs.
- Anthony updated and fixed tagging for fountain abilities to fix VFX.
- Christina updated nameplates to consider player height. They now show up properly for giants.
- Wylie fixed an issue with world UI not showing up correctly in front of particles, and an issue with nameplates and health bars rendering incorrectly.
- Wylie fixed an issue with grass rendering behind water.
- Andrew fixed an issue that would cause occasional memory overwrites on the GPU. This was causing some models sharing a material to render at the incorrect location.
- Anthony fixed an issue where Life/Death balance stacks wouldn’t be needed to gain the benefits and where Life Strike could affect one’s self
- Christina changed our perfHud so it can be hidden in some builds.
- Chris and Spidey fixed an issue where some of our NPCs would run off without a target, typically running till they hit water and died.
- Karl fixed multiple issues related to caching which would cause weirdness with the launcher UI and connecting to game servers.
- Colin found and fixed several server issues that the new logging systems from last month identified.
- Done – Tech – Dragon’s Web Upgrades
- Spawn Point Update: Christina updated the Dragon’s Web Spawn point energy usage. It now: stores energy in itself, activates when it has enough, and uses that energy when someone respawns.
- Some items can now be placed on a plot, even if you do not have typically item drop permissions. This includes hostile items such as Dragon’s Web disruptors.
- Done – Tech – New Druid Trait Cataclysmic Destiny: This trait causes you to deal Void damage to enemies in a nearby area when you die.
- Done – Tech – New Client Command: Christina added a new client command /resetabilitybar which returns the ability bar settings back to the default state.
- Done – Tech – Channel Groups: As part of our ongoing effort to improve the consistency of builds as they move from development, to testing, to production, we’ve added a new feature called Channel Groups. Each part of a build, from content like the art and audio to the client and servers, lives in a Channel. There are different channels for the client and each service that comprises the server. In the past we had some loose groupings of channels. Channel Groups turned this into a proper collection that our tools can use and consume. This is an important step in supporting tools that will be used to remove a number of subtle bugs that can creep into builds because of the way they’re promoted from development, to testing, to production.
- Done – Tech – Health and Discovery Improvements: While health and discovery are never truly “done,” this relates to an item we started working on last month. We’ve improved the quality of our health checks in all our critical servers and built out alerting so that engineers will get notifications when those servers become unhealthy.
- Done – Tech – Network Accessible Patch Client (for servers): Some of our servers require connections to the same patch servers that you guys use. This is so that they can access collision data and some data about buildings. Historically the way we’ve handled this is that each server that needs that kind of data runs two patch clients. One of those patch clients talks to an internal CSE-only patch server that has the server binaries, and the other talks to the same patch servers you guys use with the asset data in it. However, as our asset data has grown, it has taken longer for our servers to download this information and with newer technologies like containerization, it’s created prohibitively large images. We’ve added a way for patch clients that run on our servers to be network accessible rather than running on the same box as the game server, so that the game servers can be lightweight and deployed much faster and in much smaller images. This will eventually let us scale up, and recover from crashes, significantly faster.
- Done – Tech – Logging Data Format Improvements: We’ve improved the data format that our logs were producing to have structured queryable data. In conjunction with last month’s work on centralized logging, this has allowed us to find and fix several server-side bugs and will be a huge boon to the server team moving forward.
- WIP – Tech – Asset Snapshots: This is another tool we’re working on for build consistency. Asset snapshots will enable us to take assets from the format that our patch servers use and convert them into a format that can be stored in source control. This will both allow us to keep assets and code synchronized as they move through the build pipeline and also be able roll back to previous versions if testing identifies critical issues.
- WIP – Tech – UI Performance: Andrew identified and fixed a source of worsening UI performance over time. Other engineers have been working on cleaning up the UI on the scripting side to improve performance and responsiveness even further.
- WIP – Art – Fixes: We continue to comb through issues regarding textures, animations and other objects that need to be immediately addressed based on current gameplay needs, such as the faction scorpions, siege weapon ammunition, faction portals, and other various use items. As this process continues, Jon is tackling a long list of LOD updates on old assets that will also assist map designs.
- WIP – Art – Dragon’s Web Items: Thor has begun the process of taking Dragon’s Web items from concepts into 3D rendered models. First up is each faction’s Dragon’s Web Transmitter, also known as the Arcane Brazier Fount.
- WIP – Art & Design – Points of Interest
- Sierra has completed the majority of the ship parts for the Shipwreck Cove point of interest (including Neutral, Arthurian, and Viking kits). The remaining TDD ship and all realm-themed loot chests are currently in the 3D pipeline. These assets will especially come in handy as we explore the potential of adding ports to the new RvR3 island.
- Scout continues to work through environmental assets for the Elder Hawthorn Tree, including some terrain textures and flora assets for the Verdant Forest Biome that the Hawthorn resides in. In the meantime, we’re using our experience with the Shipwreck Cove point of interest to enhance the process for the next kits: the Glade of the Failed (Fallen) Heroes, the Stoorwyrm Fossil Site, and Selkie Cove.
- WIP – Art – Animation – Giants: Joe, Scott, and Sandra have been hard at work retargeting animations to the new giant models, including locomotion, casting, and attacks. Emotes are being tested on Giants in game and are almost ready for release. General testing and spot-fixes continue as we get closer to implementing the new races.
- On a related note: the first of the giant races, the Arthurian Golem, is on its final polish pass to be implemented into CU as a selectable race. Rigging and Animation are checking off fixes for armor sets, casting animations, emotes and other minor tweaks before we officially activate this race in-game.
Time for some Arts!
We wanted to showcase some of the technical issues that have been addressed in this month; so we’ll start off strong with some NPC shenanigans that reared their heads.
Bumble and joshisanonymous alerted us to issues from section 4 above!
The Keep Lords are no longer taking their breaks inside the walls.
Again from Section 4, we think the TDD were playing a prank on the Viking towers as they were coming in a nice magenta color; Wylie got on that and everything is back to normal.
Christina altered the name bars when it comes to Giants so they’re no longer sitting at human height.
Those of you who have been keeping up with DragonWeb content will be happy to know we’ve been rocking the leylines and pushing out the Arcane Brazier Founts (Transmitters) into the 3D pipeline! Thor quickly crafted the base collection for each of the realms.
We will be pushing later models that will have the magical hologram, but for now they’ll just be using the little glow effects that Cross has given us until we can get them knocked into the crafting system with their various tiers of power.
These objects will also have a minor animation attached to them for their up and down states! So look for that in game and future previews.
Just to give you a sneak peak for images related to section 1 above, here is a look into the Deep Dark Verdant Forest, first caption shot of the testing Phase 1. If you’d like to see more, check out this month’s Newsletter for a full deep dive!
Before we conclude the Top Tenish we got some Giant things! Bouncing off last month’s newsletter we showed you the Giant’s Cask from the various factions, below we give you the mock up of the animation before it’s set up in game!
Giants have had a polish pass their emote animations courtesy of Sandra. Woohoo!
So sit down and rejoice!
Or give a salute?
But for now, we can charge ahead to the finish line for the Arthurian Golems, and look forward to seeing them in game soon!
And with that, I again urge you to look through a typical long newsletter (https://mailchi.mp/citystateentertainment/unveiled-camelot-unchained-newsletter-642356) for lots of other information that we hope will make this a December to remember for all of our Backers.
As always, I thank you for your support and patience, especially now. Please stay safe and uninfected and I hope to see you in Camelot Unchained in the coming weeks!