A Great Ending To A Very Cold Month – Friday, February 26th, 2021
It’s been a highly successful month for all of us at CSE. As you have seen (hopefully) from our 90 Day Plan, we are well on our way of delivering a great deal of content, tech, and improvements to our Backers. In today’s update you see things from the Giants, to the Verdant Forest, fog, to the first permanent area for CU, RvR3. And as always, these screenshots are just as they always are for us, real screenshots, untouched other than when we add our logo or other notices. I hope seeing the screenshots (or you can jump into the game) for the Verdant Forest excites you as much as it does us. For now, we can say that the world of Camelot Unchained is starting to come to life. It’s been a slow and arduous journey but as RvR3 begins to take shape, the patience of all of our Backers is going to be rewarded.
Top Tenish – February 2021
- WIP – Design – Alchemy: Mark continued his work on the Alchemy system and worked with design and engineering to get it into the schedule. We currently have a working version of the system in spreadsheet form which Mark and design will continue to iterate on and finish off by the team.
- Done – All – 90 Day Plan: Mark revealed the 90 Day Plan for Camelot Unchained which runs from February to April and includes things like RvR3, Alchemy, updated races, and so much more. The link to the video can be found on the CSE Twitch account here and the slides themselves can be found here.
- WIP – Tech, Design, & Art – Fir Bog race available in patcher
- Fir Bogs have been turned on in CU! They can be created using the character creation flow in the experimental patcher on Hatchery.
- We’re one step closer to rounding out our trio of giant classes. This time around it’s the TDD variant in the form of the swamp-friendly Fir Bog! As with the Golems, these guys will have their own set of racial & siege abilities. The siege abilities are mainly shared with all 3 Giant races, but the damage type for their casks are their own:
- Just like Golems, Fir Bogs also grow over time. Characters of all race types will age the more they are played. This age increase is returned as part of their “daily” progression report. In the case of our giant races, this increase in age will also translate to an increase in size.
- Racial Ability:
- Swamp Stomp: Summons forth sludge engulfing the area surrounding the Fir Bog. Those affected will gain the shallow water status and have their blood drained by every second while they remain in the affected area.
- Siege Abilities: Fir Bogs have some trade-offs they’ll need to deal with in the world of CU as they grow over time. One of those is being much too large and cumbersome to interact with siege weapons. We felt that this was a great place to expand upon their uniqueness, so we gave them a set of racial abilities that allow them to essentially become siege weapons themselves!
- Tainted Cask: Lobs a diseased projectile filled with toxic spores that deals disease damage in a large area on impact and applies Toxin to affected characters dealing damage over time.
- Slam: Slams forward for high siege damage.
- Note that these descriptions are very similar to what we talked about for Golems in the previous update. This is intended! Some racials will be unique to their classes, while others will be shared across factional counterparts.
- WIP – Tech – Archery NPC Upgrades: Lee is nearly finished adding an enhancement to our projectile system in which projectiles (like arrows) can be targeted at arbitrary positions in the world, and not just specific entities. This will allow for a variety of interesting, fun, or realistic effects, including random or intentional misses, arrow volleys, aiming at specific body parts, and generally aiming at offsets from entity/object positions. Once the core tech is in place, we can begin looking at the many ways this capability can be applied.
- WIP – Tech – Graphics, Lighting and Fog!
- Wylie continues to add new features and options to the volumetric fog system, including:
- Fog wobble, which breaks up static fog blocks and suggests motion within the fog
- Fog gradients, allowing different densities and colors within different sections of fog
- Wylie also made improvements to the artists’ ability to place lights and the new fog volumes so that they could immediately see the results as they improved the environments.
- George rewrote the BRDF for the ambient lighting system to make everything look better in the dark forests. In particular, this change helps to reduce the unnatural sheen on some shadowy objects. It’s a more subtle change, but it adds to the overall ambience we want to feature for the Verdant Forest. We hope that work in this area will also include a fairly substantial improvement to fill rate, which in turn, should help those running at 4k.
- In addition to the above, George continues to work through the backlog of potential enhancements to lighting.
- Wylie continues to add new features and options to the volumetric fog system, including:
- Done – Tech – Bug fixes
- Wylie fixed the ghost building geometry not showing up.
- Colin fixed up loading into the game with the building stability visualization on, as well as players getting stuck on a loading screen which said “waiting on 1 item to load.”
- Christina fixed up the “reset to default” settings menu button, which previously only functioned on the key binding menu.
- Anthony updated some of the animation tags on the Golems so that the correct animations play when using certain magic abilities such as Dart.
- Christina fixed a bug where entities would stick around on the world map from all the previous zones the player had visited in that game session.
- Christina also fixed the floating bank buildings on both the TDD and Viking home islands.
- Finally, Christina fixed an issue with projectile hit FX often not playing on impact. As a result, we should be seeing a lot more sounds and particles when projectiles collide with things.
- Done – Tech – Improved Health Checks and Monitoring: We’ve been incrementally rolling health checks to our servers to improve monitoring and alerting for when servers have issues. Note that while this item is done – in that we completed this round of health checks – keep in mind that this is an ever-evolving system. Specifically, this month we:
- Added more cases to the existing health checks in the WebAPI to handle more edge cases where it could become unhealthy.
- Added health checks to the relay server.
- Added health checks to our internal patch clients.
- Added health checks to our secondary database members.
- Done – Tech – Remote Logging Config: We’ve added the ability for our servers to pull configuration for their logging systems from a remote repository and update them live. This not only simplifies the management of our logging configurations, it also makes us better able to configure logging on live/runtime servers for diagnosing issues. Note that while the technology is live on the servers, we’re still pushing the actual configuration files out, although that’s expected to be completed sometime in the next few days.
- WIP – Tech – Build Pipeline Improvements: There are several framework upgrades we’ve been wanting to do on our stack (from Visual Studio, to .NET, to gcc, to others). Whenever we do these upgrades it can be disruptive, as we usually have a couple different levels of builds (bleeding edge on Hatchery, build candidates on NuadaPrep and Nuada, and mature builds on Hawking). We’re putting in the work now to make this process containerized, so that we can have multiple build environments coexisting peacefully. It’ll make upgrades like this less painful in the future, and generally make our build pipeline more flexible and powerful.
- WIP – Tech – WebAPI Split: We’ve done parts of this in the past and we’re continuing that work. Basically our WebAPI server needs to be turned into 2-3 different services with different responsibilities. This will allow us to scale those services based on their usage and reduce their dependencies and complexity. It will also start to remove similar problems to the ones that the build pipeline suffers from. Sometimes there’s a feature we want to roll out that is risky or even incompatible with other builds. However, since the WebAPI is both the Patcher/Launcher API, which services all shards, and also the API for the individual shards, it can cause the streams to cross and explosions to happen. So by continuing to split this service, we’re making it easier and safer to roll out new features without risking breaking builds.
- WIP – Tech – Database Driver Migration: A while back we did a big upgrade of the driver we use to interface with our database. It was a pretty big undertaking and there were some places we left the old driver in place where we weren’t getting value from the newer driver to prevent it from becoming an even bigger undertaking. We’re now getting the last of the legacy driver out of the way: we wanted the new features and, quite frankly, the tax of maintaining both drivers was starting to add up.
- WIP – Tech – Native Coordination Service: Around a year ago we rolled out a coordination service to most of our servers. This enabled servers to more easily connect with other servers without needing specific settings set in their configuration files. It made managing the servers considerably easier and less time consuming. The same system is also used in our remote configuration and health monitoring systems. A small subset of our servers weren’t included because of language and technology constraints and, at the time, the value for those servers was much smaller. We’re now investing in getting the last few servers under the coordination service umbrella so they can reap the same benefits.
- WIP – Tech – Parameterized Statuses: This makes adding variables/parameters to statuses and abilities easier. The practical advantage is that it will give designers more freedom to create interesting abilities and status effects, and improve the way that those abilities and status effects interact with other systems.
- WIP – Design – Environment: Chris and Kara have been targeting aspects of the RvR3 map as a whole.
- Kara has started work regarding the Golden Plains, ensuring the stepping stones of this new Biome are set up so that the art team can get into making new assets to make this area come alive!
- Chris and Kara have been working on the overall scope of the RvR3 map when it comes to distances to objectives and overall size. Their main focus is the island of Banba, to ensure setup for gameplay aspects are in order – from PoIs to towers and other TDD related components – as some mechanics made here will directly transfer over to Viking and Arthurian zones.
- Done – Design – Bug fixes
- Chris updated damage resistance on doors so that they are not 100% immune to certain kinds of damage, such as Ancestral Echo.
- Arthurian and Viking marble are now only allowed to be crafted by their respective factions.
- Done – Art – Fixes
- Jon continues to rehabilitate CU weapons with updated textures and LODs. This month he’s added swords, shields, spears, and bows to the fixed list.
- Sandra fixed an issue where the Golem Flame Warden was using the incorrect idle animation.
- Scott fixed inconsistent scaling across the giants’ cask throw abilities.
- Scott also fixed an issue where the stone was not animating properly during Stonehealer casting.
- Done – Art – Valkyrie: Tina has followed up on her concepts for the St’rm with a similar treatment for the Valkyrie, updating old concepts and establishing how the race will look moving forward. This is the second CU race to be revisited and brought through a full concept phase as part of our race design plan, which you can read more about in January’s newsletter.
- WIP – Art – Animation: Now that Joe and company are done with the majority of giant armor set-ups for all three realm races, they continue to test and spotfix any major animation or armor fitting issues as-needed. With Fir Bogs now available through the patcher, they’ll be addressing any major bugs for the Jotnar before we can activate it as the last of the three giant races.
- WIP – Art – Dragon’s Web
- Sierra has picked up where Thor left off on the Dragon’s Web rebirth portals, knocking out the Viking and currently on her way to finishing up the TDD version.
- Sandra has also begun initial animation work for the Dragon’s Web item set, beginning with an item-use animation for the Disruptors.
- WIP – Design, Art, & Tech – Environment: This month brings a major update to the Verdant Forest test zone, including bug fixes, improved signage, and a whole host of new foliage to give you a better idea of how the zone will function on the final RvR3 map.
- Michelle and Joseph have addressed all manner of bugs from the original forest rollout, namely:
- Fixed instances of invisible collision
- Fixed instances where terrain caused players to get stuck or fall off the map
- Added collision in the rock wall surrounding the zone
- Added collision on the thin Sceach Gheal trees
- Adjusted tree canopies to reduce LOD popping
- While the team is continuing to catalog any bugs and potential stuck points we didn’t catch during initial testing (and is still happily recording any player-found bugs), we’re also turning the majority of our focus from fine-tuning the test zone to implementing this biome on RvR3. That being said, the Biome Concept Zone will remain a potential staging area for major milestones such as fog and lighting.
- With some 3D assistance from Thor, Michelle has added a new sign to each realm’s home island direction players to the correct portal for accessing the Biome Concept Zone. Thanks to the magic of emissive maps, this sign only shows the correct text during the daytime. This is a known bug. When in doubt, follow the bright pink flowers and roots placed at the base of the sign and the correct Biome Concept Zone portal stone.
- Chris has added some new features to the forest from the design and tech side:
- Overmind has been hooked up, allowing us to automate testing in the zone. For example, we can lock the time to ensure lighting looks good during all phases of the day/night cycle.
- Spawn points into the zone have been added for all three factions, directly from their respective starting town. Look for the “Biome Concept Zone” sign – it’s the one with flowers all over it! We’ve also added some safe respawn points in the new zone, similar to what you see in the main faction keeps, so hostile players will no longer respawn at the same location.
- Kara created new concept art for a series of large, climbable archway roots to increase verticality (and potential ambush opportunities) in the zone.
- Finally, Joseph and Scout have implemented a long list of new foliage pieces, including but not limited to: new flowers and flower clusters, banana leaf and starleaf shrubs, new fern and bush models, hanging vines and mushrooms attached to tree trunks, and four different varieties of archway roots. For a full list of changes since the initial forest launch, check out this month’s newsletter- or, if you’re a backer, check out the updated Verdant Forest, live in-game now.
Now time for some art!
As said above in the first parts of this Top Tenish we’re getting in the groove with Giants, here is the first foothold with Fig Bogs! We’ve got load screens for all the boys and girls!
Not only that, but we also have their abilities mapped out and ready to be tinkered with!
They’re looking quite “smashing” in their preferred environment! Check out them lovely lasses mucking it up in the Verdant Forest in their different armaments too! From Cloth:
To some heavy armor varieties!
We’ve got more than just giants though; be sure to check out the newsletter as Wylie, the man behind the Fog Machine, has done a write up of the visual goals for fog. Good luck trying to clear a path in some of this!
Environment will definitely benefit from this tech, from spooky rainforests, to haunted castles! It’s only going to get better from here!
Static images are nice and all, and this top one is great! We brought in a second image though that shows off the movement capabilities of this fog, as not only is this concept visually appealing it’s also performance savvy.
We got some “in house” updates as well! No more flying buildings.
Part of those updates around town are the teleportation stones that lead to the Biome Concept Zone! They now have the Verdant Forest spilling over for visual cues!
Many other things are happening! Last time we left off, it seems someone couldn’t let things go and graffitied the sign with some bioluminescent slime! We’ve fixed that since the last update though! So it should be all set with the correct words, as you can see below!
Valkyrie has some extra images to flap on about: here were some ladies that didn’t quite make the final cut. They were still super pretty though, so they deserve to see some love.
Tina also played around with some wing patterns and color options as well for the winning lass!
If you didn’t hear from the newsletters, Discord, emails, the forums or from a friend─the Biome Concept Zone is alive once more! It’s got many updates so perhaps you should make like a fairy firefly and flutter on over to check it out in game!
As we have many a time in this art section, we will set sail once more! But this time, how about we roll out with the fog?
But wait, there’s more, lots more as you will shortly have this month’s newsletter in your email with more screenshots, stories, and an article from me entitled Alchemy 101 that not surprisingly, is a teaser for what we’ll be talking about at great lengths in the next few weeks.
As always, we thank you for you patience and support. Please stay safe and uninfected and be kind to others. Hopefully, as I said in today’s livestream, the worst of this pandemic is behind us.
Nuada Prep is now open for another all-weekend test for all of our Backers. Enjoy!