Every Little Bit Counts – Friday, November 30th, 2018
Howdy, all! An energetic greeting matches the state of things this week, as we continue along on a lot of new, important features. Much of this week was spent readying the patcher and build for further testing on our new 64-bit client! Of course, that also includes more fixes and improvements to buildings and rubble, an embedded building server, and lots more to test next week!
To wrap up this week, we had a fairly energetic livestream from Andrew and Ash, who I swear need to just start working on a buddy comedy together. I’d watch that! You can catch that stream, where we go over the week’s progress highlights followed by Q&A, HERE.
Speaking of the week’s highlights, here’s our Top Tenish:
- Tech – 64-bit and Coherent: As of now, the client is full 64-bit, and should be the default client launched. As some of you have already noticed, this has resulted in notable gains in client stability, and some people have reported improved performance. However, it’s not bug-free by any means, yet! We do have some fixes that came in yesterday evening from Andrew, and hopefully that should put us in a great position for more testing.
- Tech – Patcher: Our process for updating the patcher introduced a bug as we added behavior for selecting the correct architecture from the patcher. In turn, that bug had some cascading impacts that should now be resolved. We also did some Patcher UI fixes and improvements to make characters load a bit faster.
- WIP – Tech – All About Abilities: Christina and Rob have been updating the abilities and events core with all the goodness and features of the current skills. This is being done so that once Ben starts crafting skill parts in the new editor, he’ll be able to do it fast and have lots of options.
- Tech – Animation System: An oft-overlooked piece of tech debt we have had is in our animation system. That is receiving some significant updates as we speak, giving us support for multiple skeleton types, dynamic blending, and even more features in the near future. This work will immediately support the updated character art and animations. Multiple skeleton support will also allow art to move forward with the unique races of CU!
- Tech – Building Server: The Core Building Server code has landed. We’ve been talking about what this does for us for a few weeks now, but with this in place, we can run the intensive computations for buildings and rubble in their own server space, which should have significant performance impact and allow us to do lots more!
- Tech – Mesh Simplification: One of our engine’s unique features is our complex mesh simplification. This week, we updated this system with some improvements to support buildings and rubble. This should resolve a number of issues with building performance. We have also been updating the terrain mesh simplification, which we hope will also resolve issues we’ve seen with moving over terrain.
- Art – Characters 2.0: Better-looking and more performant characters!
- WIP – Updated Models: Jon is completing the last of the armor sets today, specifically the Viking heavy and light armors. Next up, we’ll be updating the Luchorpán base meshes, as well as updating the materials of our three NPCS on the home islands so they don’t look like disco balls when we make the UV update.
- WIP – Updated Model LODs: Dionne is cranking through this work, having completed six of the nine armors, as well as the base Human nude male and female. Once complete, we’ll begin creating the female and Luchorpán versions of the appropriate armor. When the supporting code work is complete, we’ll add these in, which will–fingers crossed–improve performance, particularly in large-scale battles.
- Art – Animation 2.0: Updated style and timing support.
- WIP – Animation Retargeting: A whole lot of progress was made this week. We’ve finished retargeting a first pass (minus polish, which will happen when we can see it all in-game) of all the primary needs for movement and combat, and have begun working on some of the minor assets, such as fidgets and class unique deaths. Scott and Sandra finished retargeting the archers and healer archetypes, as well as the travel idles and fidgets, emotes, and even all the torch arm animations!
- WIP – Weighting: Joe’s week has been a “blur of weighting!” Each of the new character meshes, whether nude, undergarment, or armor, needs a rough weighting pass so we can import everything quickly and polish later. This ensures that we can test the work sooner as well as reduce the interruption time in the game as all the assets are updated. Joe completed the Arthurian and TDD male armor sets, and is waiting on the last Viking armor from Jon.
- WIP – Design – Ben has Class(es): This week, Ben has been working on finalizing the Spirit Mage class design, and has started on Stealther class design. This will help us as we add those skill part features to the skills system.
- WIP – Art – New Class Skill Icons: James, with a bit of help from Michelle, knocked out all the new Archer ability icons (over 40!) this week, and is moving over to Healers now.
- Art – Ability SFX: dB updated several existing assets, including flybys for the Lashing Creeper skill, a disease loop, and also created a generic “magic active” sound for later use. Once he gets some support from Dave, he’ll update these in-game.
The improvements to the ability system are particularly exciting, as they also pave the way for the return of the ability builder. We (a few of the artists) actually did a small test last night to help Rob out with a very early, “devUI version” of an ability builder. Fun stuffs! I’m also excited by the improvements to the animation system, something I’ve spoken of a few times in streams. These improvements will allow us to begin working on new, non-Human races, and importantly, let us start to use our new animations, which take advantage of blending. Blending allows us to share more assets, get the work done faster, and helps things look better through smoother transitions between animations!
For art this week, we start off with Dionne’s “Army of LODs.” This work, while generally quick, requires a keen eye to decide what to keep and what to throw out. These also still need to work when animated. In many cases, our new LODs are cheaper than what we’re doing procedurally, while staying more accurate to the base LOD-0 mesh.
As mentioned above, James has been working through a ton of new icons. One thing I just mentioned to him was how I liked the bit of “grain” in the icons. He said they had a stone background, which is an attempt to differentiate the look of our icons from other games, and help enforce the look of CU. What do you think?
Even with all the other work she’s done, Dionne still managed to get a bit of environment terrain work in, as can be seen in these new ground materials.
Michelle started working on concepts of wands, scepters, and gauntlets for our future mage classes. Here we can see several explorations of wands.
That wraps things up this week. I’m already excited for the next set of features we’re planning to work on after the 64-bit client and rubble (to name two of the bigger focuses) are settled. Personally, getting the big update of character assets and animations over the finish line is what I’m most looking forward to. The first pass will be rough, and we’ll continue to polish, with the main focus being to not block testing. I go over more details of that process in this month’s newsletter from Max, which should be coming out shortly after this update email! There are a lot of good things in there, including images of a really great building from one of our Backers, as well as an in-depth article from Ben on class prototype design!
Brian sent me this great “behind the scenes” image from today’s stream. To quote Jon Hammond, you can see “we spared NO expense” on our streaming setup! Let us know in the forums what it is you think Andrew is explaining to Ash.
We’ll CU next week! Pay attention to our tentative testing schedule next week if you want to jump in and play with the wacky building physics shown in today’s stream!