A Week That’s Short But Sweet – Friday, September 8, 2017
Even though it was a short week for us here following the three-day weekend, the team has managed to churn through a sizable chunk of work! Last weekend, Mark and Andrew had the opportunity to attend Dragon Con. They demonstrated to attendees the progress we’ve made over the year since the last Dragon Con, and demoed a large-scale battle (attempted on the infamous Hotel Internet during the con, no less)! If you’ve been following our updates, you’ll already be familiar with these accomplishments. One of our biggest hurdles going into this project was always going to be 500-player battles. From the beginning, some said it couldn’t be done, and perhaps still do so now. The presentation of not 500, but over 2000 ARCs (Autonomous Remote Clients is now the official name) running around and using abilities with VFX was met with applause, and understandably, disbelief. That reaction fills me with pride. I’m thankful to be working with such talented and dedicated folks.
While this one feature sets our engine apart from all others, it is still only one stone among many that will lay the foundation of Camelot Unchained. I can repeat with confidence that it only gets better from here, not only with ongoing or future performance enhancements, but also the upcoming additional gameplay systems in progress.
For this week’s highlights, lets take a look at all the work accomplished in spite of the short week!
- WIP – Tech – Progression: Christina has made good progress this week, completing the first-pass of the game’s progression loop. This includes tracking events, processing a game “day,” and rewarding the player for their accomplishments. An example of this would be leveling up one of your components after a long day of “Hunt the mean, nasty, fur-wearing Vikings!” The latest change also includes some API server queries for reading all the progression data. Matt is continuing to assist in building this feature by updating the ability system to support skill part leveling.
- WIP – Tech – Beta 1 Siege Battles: Caleb is working with Ben and Mark to plan out the different potential iterations we can roll out for testing. We need to account for gameplay, but also for a lot of ancillary systems which will be covered in an upcoming “Beta 1 doc” chapter. As this work is extensive, the goal, as with all of our gameplay systems, is to get something up and running as soon as possible for Beta 1 to begin testing it.
- WIP – Tech – Client Stability: We’ve been tackling client instability issues related to our all-powerful, brilliant, and demanding threading library. This week, we committed a quick fix to move forward with testing, but that band-aid needs to be ripped off and a proper fix applied. George is now starting the deep dive into fixing it the right way. It’s a bigger time investment, but a much easier to maintain solution in the future. And given that our threading library, and the power it gives us, is one of the many things that separates our engine from others in the industry, you want us to fix this sooner, rather than later. FYI, this fix is not a refactor, nor will it impact the announcement of the starting date for Beta 1.
- WIP – Tech – Emotes: With the vast majority of major animation tech in place, we’re going to get more engineers working in the animation system to share knowledge across coasts. First up, Brad (a.k.a. “The Sacrificial Programmer!” 🙂 ) is jumping in, head held high and fingers at the ready to tackle the Beta 1 goal of player emotes. He’s currently working on the first step: hooking up a slash command to play an emote animation that is only visible to yourself on your game client. Doesn’t sound all that exciting, but this is a good starting point for Brad, as it adds another programmer to the specific task of speeding up the finalization of the animation system for Beta 1. Remember, that is one of the three goals that must be accomplished before the date for Beta 1 is announced.
- Tech – Physics Server Crashes: Following a recent fix from George, we ramped up the ARCs (Autonomous Remote Clients, as mentioned previously) for testing, and found a landmine that we hadn’t yet stepped on yet. Colin was able to quickly find and fix this new crash in the physics server. This is a great example of the ARCs serving their purpose and justifying the investment in that tech, supporting more than just large-scale battles.
- WIP – Tech – UI Optimizations: AJ was working on improving the initial load speed of inventory. We were previously using an open-source library for queries. While well written and widely supported, it couldn’t handle the amount of data our game needs to manage. With JB’s help, we’re writing our own, to better support querying large amounts of data and allow us to quickly load up our inventory UI.
- WIP – Art – Class Ability VFX: Mike and Ben continue to work with Gabe, setting up more complicated VFX. The healer archetypes require various casting VFX at different phases of their animations, with the corresponding VFX on their targets. Gabe also completed some work to support the Mjölnir charge functionality on the appropriate components. He’s asked Ben and Mike to poke at it, because he thinks it’s going to look pretty cool with VFX!
- Art – Animation – First-Pass Left-hand Shield: Sandra is wrapping up the locomotion assets for the left-hand shield, including running, jumping, dying, etc. This also includes the polish pass on the skirt and cape animations. Check the video link below to see some of this progress…animated!
- Art – Cloth Resource Nodes with Realm Variations: After finishing the wood resource nodes last week, Dionne has been working on the cloth resource nodes, and will hopefully be finishing these up at the beginning of next week. She’ll then move to the leather resource nodes.
- Art – TDD Realm Portal Props: After finishing the materials for Realm variations, Jon created various props from Michelle’s concept art. The next step, which is in progress, will be the creation of the LODs and importing it all into the editor. Jon was clever, and re-used our Viking shield model for the props on the Viking control variation. This will allow us to reuse these further!
- WIP – Art – Basic Clothing Concept Art: Michelle completed a pass on basic clothing for women. You can catch her live stream HERE, and the male concept art HERE. We’re going to investigate using one of these outfits for NPCs, but we’ll make sure these can be used by players later, so as to get the most use out of the work.
- WIP – Art – Updated Character Select Screens: Work continues apace, building on last week’s progress, with more people stepping in to work on this next iteration. While we plan to update these post-Beta 1 with in-game animated models, the work the team is churning out right now is looking great! Jon and Sandra are working on a test render of the in-game models, which Michelle will use to create different visual treatments. I just walked by her desk and saw one that was absolutely beautiful! I can’t wait to see them all fully animated. Which gets us to James K., who is teaching himself not only the video side but also the code side of the animated backgrounds. AJ is working to update these changes in the patcher UI. You can catch James’ livestream of this work HERE, and AJ’s stream HERE.
Next, here are some ideas she’s been working on for visual treatments of the character creation screen. Remember, these are only ideas at this point, and we’ll have to review and pick one, which I think is going to be hard. I just thought some of these ideas were too beautiful not to show off!
That wraps up the week here. As a reminder, we’ve updated information for the Beta 1 document on our site. This week, Mark has added a chapter on crafting! You can find that below:
We’d love to hear your thoughts in the forums over the weekend! (https://forums.