Busy with Boats and Moats – Friday, October 13, 2017
We’re wrapping up a fairly busy week here at CSE. So busy that our Top Tenish, the list of the week’s highlights, continues to remain well above average, with seventeen items this week! We also had to skip our weekly update livestream, so we could stay focused on the work at hand.
Speaking of work, our siege-centric sprint, as well as other Beta 1-specific goals, as you’ll see below, are moving along. As the weather turns cooler here, and unfortunately this week a bit grey, we’re all enjoying the candy and the coffee sent to us from our Backers! There was a sticky note on the coffee maker this morning that read, “Strong! – Deathwish coffee.” Mike told me, “we’ve got five pounds of it we have to get through!” Plus there’s all the other special coffee and candy you sent to us! Our hard work certainly has the necessary fuel. Thanks once again!
- WIP – Tech – Continued Client Stability: After submitting his hard work to address client stability, George is working on moving the windows message handler off the main thread. The message handler is responsible for handling windows events (called ‘messages’) like mouse clicks, key-presses, and resizing the window. Moving this off the main thread reduces the chance of hitches or slowdowns when rendering the game. This effect can currently be seen when moving the client window. The game stops rendering, waiting for you to release the client window, then plays catch-up. This too will go the way of the dodo with George’s upcoming change. But wait, there’s more! This may theoretically increase our maximum framerate. We’ll see!
- WIP – Tech – Presence Server Updates: For Beta 1, we’ll want to have starting zones and safe zones. Colin’s work will allow us to spawn new players in designated starting zones and spawn returning players in those zones if the zone they logged out from is no longer up. Additionally, this work will gate access to a zone by faction. You wouldn’t want filthy Vikings running around on your TDD safe island, would you?
- WIP – Tech – Projectile Firing: Andrew’s improvements to loading projectiles onto bows was dropped in early this week, which led to interesting behavior with siege engines that was too good not to share…
Wacky projectiles like this only happened when tab-targeting enemies and not in the manual aiming state. This is because the code that computes arcs when tab-targeting isn’t currently being used by the client. Thanks to some cross-coast discussions, this issue was identified before things hit prime time, and now Matt is updating positional prediction to work with tabbed targeting the same way it does for manual aiming.
- Tech – DevUI v2: AJ tackled the second round of feedback on the DevUI, a temporary, “unprettied” UI built to allow for quick iteration on gameplay features. As discussed in previous weeks, the goal of the DevUI is to allow us to quickly test gameplay functionality that requires UI without the need to loop in a UI programmer early on. AJ improved upon the separation of our markup information (the stuff that makes our UI pretty) and the game data, and also added the ability for our gameplay programmers to call GraphQL queries from the UI, better mimicking how we’ll want the code to look when it is eventually handed over to the UI programmers to replace with the real UI.
- WIP – Tech – Building DevUI: Last week, Rob put together a DevUI to expose a lot of common plot and building actions, which were previously only performed via slash commands. This made testing building changes much easier, as it’s clearer to see when something is or isn’t working correctly. Rob is now taking a second pass at improving how we’re displaying critical feedback and current state, plus improving the player experience when interacting with plots.
- Tech – Anim Hud: Brad added a new tab to the debug info window, giving animators much more info on which animset the player is in, and what animations are being played. The ROI on this has been great, as it only took Brad a couple of hours to implement, but has already shortened debugging time for engineers and animators tremendously!
- WIP – Tech – Equip and Unequip Weapons: Having been handed the reins of Andrew’s animation system, Brad is now tackling the connection between the ability system and animation system. This work impacts both the ongoing emote work and the beginnings of handling equip and unequip functionality. After all, we don’t want you to stab yourself in the eye with your weapon when you salute!
- WIP – Tech – Character Screen: When AJ first built the character stats screen, he filled it with temporary data to aid in getting something up and running as fast as possible. Now that the screen is in place, he and Christina are working together to develop a plan on how the character screen can populate all the relevant fields with the actual character data.
- Tech – NPC Updates: Colin has been making a lot of updates to NPCs in the last few weeks. It’s now possible to spawn NPCs in the game, to either run around in a fixed area or run over to an available siege engine and start firing on players or NPCs of an opposing Realm. Colin has also given us the ability to create “greeter NPCs,” like pub owners or bankers, that can display text when clicked upon. This text can be edited via spreadsheet, making it easy for anyone on the team change things quickly.
- Art – Environment – LongSHIP: Apologies, I (Tyler) previously called it a longBOAT when it’s a LongSHIP. I stand corrected. Dionne finished her pass of the Viking Longship early this week. While she waits for more concepts from Michelle, she’s begun working on new terrain materials and assets to fill in some terrain type gaps in our asset library.
- WIP – Art – Concept Art: Michelle has taken another pass on the Arthurian boat designs. Once we settle on one we like, we’ll pass it to Dionne to begin modeling. Additionally, she has been breaking up the character creation backgrounds for James to begin animating.
- WIP – Art – Generic Clothing: Jon completed a first pass of the low and high poly models for new generic clothing. We’ll use these to differentiate our NPCs from players, and for character creation renders.
- WIP – Art – Scorpion Siege VFX: Mike completed several new assets this week, based off last week’s prep work. Beware, the names Ben gave these effects may make you eager for combat!
- Shrapnel Burst travel and impact VFX.
- Concussion Charge travel and impact VFX.
- Smoke Bomb travel and impact VFX.
- Art – Animation – Updated Bow Animation Tests: Sandra finished the tertiary animations for the updated bow animations, including movement, jumping, and flinching. She is now working on a unique, component-specific animation to facilitate more feature testing.
- Art – Animation – Shared Equip Pose and New Flinch Types: Scott created a couple of shared equip poses, to temporarily solve the issue of changing weapons between combat poses. This frees us up to focus on other animation assets while preparing for future tech. Additionally, he’s created an arrow hit flinch a and mind damage flinch to test current tech. This will help us see how well we can integrate this concept with Andrew’s powerful animation system.
- WIP – Art – New Scorpion Bolt Models for Siege Testing: Taken from Ben’s list of testing components, Jon is creating several new siege bolt models for use in the ability system. Like our various arrows, players will be able to choose from several bolt types, including basic siege, bolt volley, demolition, double, heavy, and light. As always, our goal is “what you see is what you get,” when we make those pointy objects that rain death down on your foes!
- Audio – Siege Combat and UI SFX: dB has been all over this week, completing new sounds for the siege engine animations (which we’ll add later) and siege-specific abilities, as well as for shield crushing attacks, grunts and screams, and new UI feedback sounds.
As mentioned, a solid week of progress! We had the mini-plague hit a couple of artists this week, so there’s slightly less art for this update, but only slightly. Let’s start off things with the promised video of some of Scott’s work for the greatsword following the image from last week. We’ve also got a couple of extra-experimental, still work-in-progress, “flinches” in here. These may allow us to differentiate, through the animations, the types of effects one might encounter in CU.
Next up, we have a breakdown from Michelle of the Viking character creation background. This separation of layers, visualized below, will be handed off to James next week, to begin animating. He’ll also add in particles, light shafts, etc, to further bring the scene to life.
Per our Top Tenish, we have a work-in-progress shot from Jon of the basic clothing, high poly sculpt. Despite the mini-plague, Jon was still able to begin work on this great sculpt!
Per the Top Tenish, here’s some of Jon’s work-in-progress siege bolt ideas:
Also despite the mini-plague, Dionne was able to begin work on some swamp grass assets. Or as I like to call ’em, Moat Grasses!
Michelle has also completed some concept work on a possible Arthurian ship.
That wraps up a busy week for us here at CSE. We hope you all have a great weekend, working or not, and we’ll see you on Monday, ready to kick the week’s ass. Join us on our forums, chat on Discord, or live streams (Schedule), won’t you?