Merry Christmas and a Happy New Update – Friday, December 25th, 2020


Merry Christmas everybody! I hope that all of you, even those of us who don’t celebrate it, are having/had as nice of a day as possible here in CoronaWorld. As many of you know, the studio is currently shut down till the first week of January (I always close/closed CSE/Mythic for the last week or two in December) but here’s a monthly update to spice up your day. Next week I’ll be sending out the newsletter and doing a livestream to talk about all the stocking stuffers in them. There’s a lot of good stuff in the update, even more in the newsletter, and I look forward to talking to you all next week about this and other matters.

Top Tenish for December, 2020

  1. Done – Tech – Unchained Navigation System:
    The Unchained Navigation System has landed in Camelot Unchained! Lee, Mike D., and Spidey have completed final testing of version 1.0 and have turned it on in CU. The system features a dynamic tiling scheme that divides the world into regions for which the navmesh can be independently built and rebuilt as the world changes. Whether from destruction or the placement and removal of structures and obstacles, the navmesh nearly instantly recalculates the navigable space in the affected areas, allowing NPCs to dynamically react to the changing environment. The NPCs themselves can then make independent path requests that are computed in parallel, allowing for hundreds to thousands of queries to be solved every second during high-traffic situations. Our system was designed specifically for the challenges of a large-scale MMO, with complex user-generated content present in a world with unlimited terrain and structural diversity. With this system now landed, we can turn our attention to planning and developing gameplay features that will really take advantage of it, including general individual NPC pathfinding throughout the world, patrol routes, hunt-and-kill behaviors, Keep Lord stalking and tracking of players, organized group movement, and so much more. While it has taken a lot of work, we are very proud of the results. Better still, this is merely the beginning of a system that will continue to expand in feature set and capability, all in the service of providing our players with increasingly sophisticated NPC behaviors that bring the CU world to life.
    MJ NOTE – I just wanted to add here how happy we are that this long-running task is not only complete but working so well. As the videos that we have linked to below show, we now have NPCs that can run around player-built structures. Their pathing does not rely on the typical techniques that are used in most games since CU, unlike FS:R or 99% of other games, has structures that are built/destroyed in real time. While CU is not a PvE game at its core, we need this level of pathfinding if things like guards, caravans, and inhabitants of The Depths are to be at all useful. If you watch the videos carefully, you’ll see how the Keep Lord properly descends the various staircases in the player-built building. One bonus for CSE, now that this is working so well, we can put the engineers who have been working on this on other parts of CU as a lot of time/energy has been put into this feature for CU!
  2. Done – Tech – New/Updated Empath Runes: Updates were made to either finish out or add onto the Empath class regarding their runes:
    1. Anthony finished tech for and implemented the Renewal Transference rune, which can exchange the caster’s health to heal an ally over time. This is similar to Renewal on the target, but with a health cost traded back onto the caster.
    2. Anthony also added new tech for and implemented the Wound Transference rune, which can cleanse all wounds from an ally at the cost of immediately inflicting them on the caster.
  3. Done – Tech – C.U.B.E. Loading Screen Issue Fixed: Mike D. has fixed the issue with C.U.B.E. getting hung on the loading screen in some cases.
  4. Done – Tech – Torch option in C.U.B.E.: You now can hold a working torch in C.U.B.E.! MikeD added support for this, which will be on by default. You can enable or disable the feature with the console command /cubelight 1 or /cubelight 0. Also, Mike got droplights working again so that will help light things up more! (sorry, couldn’t resist). 🙂
  5. Done – Tech – Shader Effects for Skills and Statuses: We’ve nailed down a good system for allowing skills and statuses on the gameplay server to drive all sorts of shader effects on players. With the tech in place, over the next few weeks we’ll be building out a series of cool visual effects on players who are shielded, poisoned, and lots more.
  6. Done – Tech – Bug Fixes (not a complete list, just some highlights)
    1. Fixed several crashes and memory leaks in the editor,
    2. Fixed a few issues that would sometimes cause new accounts to have issues connecting to game servers.
    3. Fixed a rare bug that would randomly disconnect users.
    4. Christina fixed a bug where the client could not recover after getting rate limited.
    5. Spidey fixed a bug where the dragon was getting stuck on buildings.
    6. Anthony updated arrow, spell, and projectile tracking to make it much easier to hit your intended target.
  7. WIP – Tech – Asset Snapshots: Work has continued on this tool that we mentioned last month. We’ve built the tech necessary to capture and restore snapshots. The tech itself is done, but we’re hesitant to call the feature “done” until we’ve got it fully integrated into the rest of the stack. So while we’re able to use the snapshots, there’s still a little more work to automating the process and building out procedures and protocols.
  8. WIP – Tech – Service Health Notifications: We’ve been working on getting information about the health of our various servers and services into a place where we can analyze and monitor that information. We’ve started hooking the monitoring tools up to messaging systems which will contact engineers when critical systems are unhealthy or offline. There’s still some work to be done here hooking up the last few servers and services to the monitoring and notifications.
    MJ Note – This is one of those things that might not seem all that exciting, but we’re getting this done ahead of when we would have initially had it done thanks to FS:R and our investors. Like many of the tech items for CU & FS:R, we’ll have almost everything (one should never say ‘everything’) in place for CU sooner, rather than later. This will free up the engineers to work on other CU related items.
  9. WIP – Tech – Rendering: Wylie is making improvements to fallback rendering modes for older video cards.
  10. WIP – Design, Art, & Tech – Environment: Work continues on the Verdant Forest biome we showed you last month, with specific improvements targeted towards tree construction, materials, new foliage assets, and lighting.
    1. Armed with improved information on asset performance and workflow, Joseph is updating the Verdant Forest’s Elkhorn tree sculpts and textures to play nicer with Speedtree and look better in-engine without sacrificing performance. He’s also using this pipeline to build out the next set of trees specifically designed to populate the perimeter of the forest.
    2. Scout is knocking out more foliage and ground cover assets to populate the biome, including glowing spore pods, mossy rocks, cliffs, and cliffside trees.
    3. George is working on changes to better balance ambient and direct lighting, as well as direct diffuse lighting and specular lighting.
  11. WIP – Art – Fixes: Jon continues to work down his list of LOD and texture updates to a broad range of assets, including everything from statues, to shop signs, to dragons. You can see the sheer number of beautified assets in this month’s Top Tenish email and newsletter, and in-game as we populate various zones with the updated models.
  12. Done – Art – Vox Debugging: Some of you might have noticed while testing things out that there were some issues with the Vox, either not appearing or not summoning in correctly. When Jon was making an appearance pass and updating all the models to be more performant in-engine, there was a glitch that didn’t load the materials correctly. That has been fixed and the Vox should be up and running again for your crafting convenience.
  13. WIP – Art – Dragon’s Web Items: Thor has now finished 3D modeling on another set of Dragon’s Web items for all three realms – the Dragon’s Web disruptors, a.k.a. Leyline Needles – and is almost done with the Dragon’s Web batteries, a.k.a. Heartsource Accumulators. Next on the docket are the spawn points for each faction, the Dragon’s Rebirth Portals.
  14. WIP – Art & Design – Points of Interest – Shipwreck Cove: Sierra’s nautical adventures in the Shipwreck Cove point of interest continue. With the 3D models for each realm’s loot chest now complete, the TDD ship and its component parts are the only models left to finish before she can sail away to the next 3D port of call.
  15. WIP – Art – Animation – Giants: Giants are well on their way towards the finish-line, and it’s projected that Golems could be ready to hit the “play” button as close as this January/February, pending some internal tech adjustments. We will keep you updated on that status when January comes to a close! Meanwhile, the team is knocking out work on the remaining giant tasks left to-do:
    1. While Joe continues rigging and armor setup for the TDD Fir Bog and Viking Jotnar giant races, Scott and Sandra have finished polish work on two giant-specific ability animations: the Arthurian Golem’s Gifted Reinforcement ability, which deploys a restorative barricade; and the general Cask Throw animation used by all three realms.
    2. The animation team has also finished up spot-fixes on the recent slate of giant retargets, such as spear and torch locomotion, longbow and shortbow sets, and the ‘hide weapon’ command during ability animations.
  16. WIP – Art – Character Creation UI Updates: Along with rendering help from Jon, Scott and Sandra have also been moving down the list of races and race-class combinations in need of proper posing and rendering in the character creation UI. This includes the newer giant models, as well as the races already in-game whose character-select images haven’t shown the proper class armor.
  17. WIP – Design & Art – Progression and Character Development: The Design and Art teams are tackling a CU character reboot across the board, including exciting changes to progression and character customization options. We’ll kick off 2021 with a bang when we showcase the first part of these planned features next month, maybe even in the form of a livestream from a certain C and K.MJ NOTE – I’m really looking forward to the Backers reaction to this. I’m really pleased with the work of Chris and Kara on this and I can’t wait for them to present it to you. Between Chris’ experience and Kara’s boundless energy and natural creative instincts, this will not be the last time that they/we will have something new and exciting to present to you.

Time for some Arts!

First up, to set the mood, a look at the Verdant Forest in development:

Next, here’s a spotlight on some of the Character Creation UI poses from #16.

To continue on The UI pass, this process was put in place so that when selecting your character and class it would reflect the image you see as opposed to a filler image. So now if you choose a Giant and then Class Black Knight you’ll get an appropriate depiction.

Stepping away from the UI content, we now jump over for some Dragon Web Fun! Here are the completed Leyline Needles (Disruptor) from #13.

We also managed to wiggle in first steps to the Heartsource Accumulator (Battery)

Here is a preview image for the assets that Jon has been updating. For more visuals on this check out this month’s Newsletter!

Thanks Mike D.! The torch is in to light your path!

…Mike? Mike, wait! Come back! Now that we’ve turned on the Unchained Navigation System (#1), that Keep Lord just wants to show you their improved pathfinding! No violent intentions whatsoever, we (mostly) promise.

Well, looks like we have to get ready for the holidays AND chase down Mike, so that’s all for this time! CU in the new year!

As this is a Christmas update, and not an end-of-the-year update, I’ll simply once again wish everybody a Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoyed what you saw here and what you’ll see in the newsletter. We expect January/February to have lots of new stuff for you to play around with including the new area, giants, and I hope, an update to crafting (I’m going to get some engineering/design time on it) and more. We should also begin to see some other things roll out as well as we get more time on some other items now that the hard work on pathfinding/navmesh are done.

As always, please stay safe and uninfected during these difficult times.

FYI, Hawking is up this weekend for testing!

– Mark