Flying High Into August – Friday, July 31st, 2020
Okay, while we are flying high into August we are not flying HIGH into August, just to be clear. 🙂 It’s been a great month development wise for Camelot Unchained. As of now Hawking has been running for 4 days straight and this weekend it will be up and running for all of our Backers to enjoy. Will it stay up for another 3 days? Time will tell of course but if you can help us out by jumping in and trying to break things, we would appreciate it. We have a lot of stuff to cover with this month’s Top 28ish and arts, so I’ll cut this short and catch you all as the Wyverns come for a landing. 🙂
However, before I do that I want to take a moment to thank Ben Pielstick for being a part of the studio for these past five years. If you want to hear more about why he is leaving us, please check out the monthly newsletter (https://mailchi.mp/citystateentertainment/unveiled-camelot-unchained-newsletter-642256) where he reminisces about the past and talks about why he decided to leave the US and sadly, his gig with us. As I said in today’s livestream, Ben is a great guy and a great designer and he was kind enough to give us two months notice which is why we brought on Chris Junior many weeks ago. Ben has been working with Chris to bring him up to speed on everything CU-related and the fruits of which are already being seen in item 10.a below. Ben has left CU in good hands and we look forward to Chris’ work in the coming months. I want to thank Ben, once again, for the time and effort he put into CU and CSE.
Be sure to check out this month’s stream with Mark here!
And let’s get into the highlights of what’s been happening this month!
Top Tenish for July 31st, 2020
- WIP – Tech – Upgrades to Item Equipment and Siege engine control Restrictions – Koo, Judd, and Christina are working on an upgrade to how we show restrictions for equipping items or controlling a siege engine. We’re now in the final stages of using the backend code and UI mocks to integrate it with the game UI.
- DONE – Tech – Upgrading Race Definitions – Christina added support for races to be able to have abilities, ability components, and ability networks associated with them. We’re using this for the new giant races.
- WIP – Tech & Design – Dragons’ Web – A tech design has been created for the Dragons’ Web, including identifying which elements of the web we are going to work on this milestone. Work has already begun to get these new pieces imported into the game.
- Done – Tech – Hook up warband targeting to existing abilities – Anthony finished up a pass through our ability components to ensure that the ones that are meant to target your warband have the correct target on them.
- WIP – New Buildings from the Builder’s Brigade – The viking keep plot in the battleground zone is now a totally new gorgeous building thanks to the efforts of the Builder’s Brigade. Ben integrated this with the zone.
- Done – Tech – Wwise Upgrade – Spidey and DB landed an upgrade to Wwise. This upgrade includes some bug fixes and also improved tooling to help DB debug audio much faster then before.
- Done – Tech & Art – Wyvern – The new faction themed Wyverns are hooked up in the battleground zone. A different one will show up based on which faction holds the main keep.
- Done – Tech – Gameplay Bug Fixes
- Fixed several missing trait icons so that they now show up
- HUD borders for devouts and support classes now show up.
- Ability builder art for support classes has been added
- The VFX for Life Strike now properly shows up on friendly characters
- Recovery times on abilities can no longer be bypassed.
- Bugs related to stamina and panic not working right when your corresponding resource bar was at the max/min have been fixed
- Fixed a bug where ability components that used “exclude tag” rules (such as Black Knight’s Commanding Guidance) were being treated as “include tag” by the UI.
- Fixed a bug where in certain situations statuses were not showing up in the hud.
- Fixed a bug where plots in the battleground appeared to be “in-combat” even when they were not
- Added a missing save flat to items which marks if they are dynamic or not.
- Plots in the battleground zone are no longer editable when they should not be.
- WIP – Tech – NPC Improvements
- Spidey implemented support for NPCs to have variable rates of movement, which will allow much greater control of their motion while executing various behaviors, and allows for more interesting combinations of behaviors that require speed and direction changes. This will give them more natural and fluid motion when NPCs slow down and stop to change behaviors or interact with other entities.
- Spidey has added support for siege NPCs to help players push battering rams. When a player is controlling a ram, these NPCs can assume control of interaction points on the ram and help the player push and steer the ram. Also now supported is the ability for players to kick NPCs out of ram control slots, which is useful when multiple players want to work together to control a ram that is otherwise being manned by NPCs.
- WIP – Behavior stack – Spidey is augmenting our NPCs behavior logic to support a “behavior stack”. This allows NPCs that are executing one behavior to begin a different behavior of a higher priority, complete the new behavior, and resume the original one. This ultimately allows for sophisticated, hierarchical behaviors that allow the NPCs to react to changes in the environment based on context.
- WIP – MikeD and Lee are working on some significant improvements to NPC pathfinding, including some key enhancements that allow NPCs to navigate buildings and other player-created structures.
- WIP – Tech, Design, and Art – Giants!:
- Chris finished up the design for the giant races and has created the scaffold for all of the giant’s armor and weapons and they are ready to have art hooked up to them.
- Anthony is working through setting up the new abilities and traits for the giants.
- Spidey fixed up the camera to work well with bigger characters
- Christina upgraded progression so that characters age as you play them. For giants, this means as they age they end up getting bigger.
- DONE – Tech – Rendering Performance – AOIT Layer tuning: Did some shader work to collapse together the layers for order-independent transparency. This cuts GPU memory bandwidth requirements for rendering transparent objects in half. And that improves performance, especially on lower-end video cards.
- DONE – Tech – Rendering Performance – Impostor Quality: At long distances, we replace complex but non-moving objects with tiny pictures of those objects. This cuts way down on the number of triangles your graphics card has to draw. The quality of these has been significantly improved, which allows them to look good at closer distances, which means we can use them more aggressively to improve performance. Dense forested areas especially benefit from this.
- DONE – Tech – Rendering Performance – Impostor Speed: Previously we would store cards with all the angles of an impostor as a tiny mesh in the scene, and a Vertex Shader would set most of them to not draw. Now we use a Geometry Shader to emit only the card that faces you. While individually tiny, over a dense forest this improves performance by a consistently measurable amount.
- DONE – Tech – Rendering Performance – Concurrent Sorting: There’s a section of code that groups together all the renderable objects on the CPU into an optimal drawing order on the GPU. This code takes significantly better advantage of multiple CPU cores, which improves performance on multicore machines.
- DONE – Tech – Client Stalls and Hangs: Worked around a deep bug in our low-level threading library which could occasionally cause stalls on the client. Sometimes these would last a few milliseconds within a frame, so fixing them improves the consistency of our frame rate, but in the worst case they could appear as a permanent hang. No more!
- DONE/WIP – Tech – Better Communication Around Patcher Authentication Issues: There are currently a few authentication issues that can happen on the patch server that don’t get properly communicated to the patch client (it’ll tell you your username and password are incorrect when they’re fine and something else is the problem). We’re pushing these to the client now so that it’s clear what the actual problem is.
- WIP – Tech – Store migrated to GCP: A while back we made the move over to Google’s Cloud Platform off of AWS. There are a couple servers still living on AWS and the store was one of those. We’ve moved the store over to GCP which has helped us improve some of our suite of server management tools and also improved stability and scalability. This also paves the way for moving some of our other sites over and improving them in similar ways.
- WIP – Tech – Server Containerization: We’ve started converting our servers from raw virtual machines into containers. From the developer side of things this will allow us to have more consistent environments between servers and shards. It’ll also empower us to have development environments that are closer to the live environments so that we have fewer surprises when new features go live. This should translate into a generally smoother development experience for everybody.
- WIP – Art – SpeedTree – New trees are beginning to spawn as we are taking advantage and made a deal with our good friends at SpeedTree. First steps and testing of SpeedTree exports are already resulting in improved canopies, foliage, tree forms, and ability to execute more efficiently the greenery to fulfill CU landscapes. SpeedTree will also aid in improvements to a variety of other plants, bushes, and other aspects beyond just trees themselves.
- WIP – Art – Environment – Terrain and trees terrain has been altered around buildings and keeps bringing ground right up to the building foundations. Modifications to terrain are also being made around the map in preparation for upcoming landscape improvements and points of interest. Color of water has also been updated.
- Done – Art – Scenario Defender Npc’s – TDD and Viking Tower Champions model and materials are completed and ready to join the defense .
- Done – Art – Crafter Barricades – All barricades are completed and in game, including stone barricades, with leather barricades soon to be implemented.
- Done – Art – Animation – Wyvern animations have been added to the battle ground zone and will be flying in the sky and also the Animation fixes for Mjolnir death have been completed.
- WIP – Art – Animation – Currently in process of Giant retargeting along with the new models getting skin weighted and setup on the animation rig. All currently existing emotes are getting a polish.
- Done – Art – Devout Armor – Adding to the CU armory are new armor pieces for each Devout class, unique to each realm, setting your Devout character from the crowd.
- WIP – Art – Devout & Support Class Ability UI – Updated art assets for stand in art has been made for Skald, Dark Fool, and Minstrel support classes. Updated art for Devout classes is under way.
- WIP – Art – Spirit Mages – Initial concept art discovery has begun on this unique class and the exciting summons this class conjures.
- WIP – VFX – Cross has been hard at work with continual work on Devout class ability vfx alongside various other improvements in CU particles.
Now for some Art jam action!
Running in center stage to finish off this battle party of NPC Defenders is the Viking and TDD tower Champions!
Be sure to also check out the newly completed Devout armor in this month’s newsletter #68
Adding to defense options stone barricades all are complete and in game. Here you can check out the renders.
Partnering up with SpeedTree we can show here how our initial assets created and exported and brought into CU already are showing improvement to older trees.
Here the new one really shows how the shape of trees will improve for a better sky line and natural looks. Very much less of an umbrella effect.
We are also able to create stronger shape options and response to world lighting on trees.
From player perspective canopies will also feel much more improved.
Our over all Terrain is getting some touch up attention with features such as land coming right up to buildings vs having run up those super fun platforms.
From the realm of VFX below we have some captures of some of the many VFX that have been added to Devout Classes. These include: ancestral echo burst, Lesser invulnerability cone, and Decrepify Burst.
And with that from this blast of a month, the art team looks forward to what we will show next month.
I hope you enjoyed this update. As you can see from the art/Top Tenish, we are, as promised, focusing more and more on game stuff and less and less on tech stuff. Whether it’s a new race trio (Giants) or more art assets for current classes, design for future classes and the beginnings of the Dragons’ Web taking shape, we are adding more and more content to the game. And, if Hawking holds up well over the weekend, we will be that much closer to the 24×3 server that is a major goal of the 90-day plan. It’s been a rough year for all of us but we continue to focus on Camelot Unchained and plan on delivering the next great RvR MMORPG.
As always, we thank you for your patience, we thank you for your support and please, be kind whenever possible and stay safe and uninfected during these trying times.
Have a great weekend and I hope to see you in Hawking over the weekend!