The Dragon Circle Cometh – Friday, October 27, 2017
Where do I begin? Let’s start with a Backer base that has patiently waited for us to deliver on a game. Let’s then extend the wait due to the whole re-abilitation process, and test their patience even more. Now, how do we thank our Backers for their patience? One way would be surprising them with some unexpected thing(s). In this case, the creation of the lore of The Dragon Circle™ and the concepts of Dragon Challenges™ and Saturday Night Sieges™. What is this all about? It’s about fun, it’s about helping us to make a better game, and it’s about time!
If you go to our Beta 1 doc (http://camelotunchained.com/
If you missed today’s livestream, where we covered lots of our Backers’ questions about all this, you can catch that HERE.
- For your convenience, here’s the Beta 1 Doc link again.
- And here’s the German version. Massive thanks to Apollon, Skarda, and Sethimus Xechon, who put in a ton of consecutive hours getting this translation done!
- No French version yet, although that is coming soon!
Without further ado, here’s the Top Tenish list of highlighted accomplishments from the past week. A pretty good list!
- WIP – MJ – FUN: We said from the beginning of our Kickstarter that our Alpha testing was not going to be a lot of fun. OTOH, we also didn’t expect it to include the re-abilitation. Thus, it turned out to be even less fun than we expected, which is one of the reasons we are doing what we have been doing for the last few weeks. One of our Guiding Principles for Beta 1 is that we want our Backers to have lots and lots of fun in that testing period. To make this happen, we have and will devote the resources necessary to make our Beta 1 experience not something that our Backers have to endure, but something that our Backers want to play in a lot. And with that, I’m happy to be able to begin talking about The Dragon Circle™, Dragon Challenges™, and, of course, Saturday Night Sieges™.
- WIP – Tech – Siege Deathmatch: After a few weeks of work getting this ready, we are proud to be talking about Saturday Night Sieges! This week, we tested our very first iteration of Deathmatch-style gameplay in the office. Players jump in, join a team, and kill each other for points. In-office tests have uncovered bugs to fix and produced a lot of trash talk, laughing, yelling, whining, and calls to nerf the OP classes! Ah, memories of games long past. 🙂 Of course, please keep in mind what Mark said during the Kickstarter and beyond (as well as today): this type of gameplay is intended to facilitate testing/iteration on the game, and it is not intended to be part of the LIVE game, except possibly as new player training grounds.
- WIP – Tech – Character Stats Screen: Christina and AJ have been tag-teaming this for the last few weeks, and it recently dropped into the game. You can now open your inventory and click the ‘character’ tab to see all your stats, reflecting the attributes you set during character creation. This screen displays all your general, defensive, and offensive stats, and will automatically update based on the gear you have equipped. It also shows Banes and Boons and how they affect your character, as well as your progression information for that session.
- WIP – Tech – Battlegroups: While we’re in the early stages of building Saturday Night Sieges, we’ve been making use of the Warbands feature as a way to manage our teams. JB has been chugging along on Battlegroups, which is basically a temporary collection of Warbands. With Battlegroups, we’ll be able to facilitate large-scale teams, and grow our battles to an epic size.
- WIP – Tech – NPC updates for SNS: As our testing continues, we’ll want to test with bigger and bigger battles. Colin is building behaviors for our NPCs so that, once spun up, they can join a team and attack enemy players, aiding you in your Deathmatch victory.
- WIP – Tech – Additional Server Performance: Late last week, Andrew discovered a possible, and significant, server performance change. He’s done the work, gotten it through review, and is testing today.
- WIP – Tech – Presence Server Updates: Colin is making updates to our presence server to support Safe versus Contested Islands, as well as making other updates to allow us to achieve a lot of our requirements for the opening of Beta 1. Not only can we designate islands as accessible only to specific factions, but we need to be able to easily enable or disable portals to other zones, so players can enter scenarios only when they are up and running.
- WIP – Tech – Building Updates: Ben has been testing building features and reporting issues to Rob, who has made fixes quickly. Our goal is to assign a pre-built building to a plot through the editor, and be able to “rebuild” it when needed. This will allow us to quickly add building plots to scenarios, and create gameplay around them. We’re currently testing this work in our Deathmatch map. Plots now preserve their permissions when a faction ownership changes and blueprints save to the server.
- Art – Siege Arrow VFX: Mike completed 18 assets this week, comprising two abilities per archer archetype – load, traveling, and impact. Ben came up with some great names, such as Splintering Freeze, Arsonous Oil, and Corrosive Solvent! We’re already using these to kill each other in testing!
- WIP – Art – Siege Arrow SFX: As with the above item, dB has created a first pass of the impacts and travel sounds, and will hit the load SFX when the abilities are updated to support them.
- Art – Dragon Circle and SNS Logos: Michelle and James have completed logo designs this week. You can find these updated in our Beta 1 doc.
- Art – Environment: Dionne created several new materials this week. You can see some of that work, and the LIVE review with Tyler, HERE. The next step is to set these up in the world editor. Additionally, at the end of the week, she began work on a new set of rocks and boulders for our mossy forests.
- Art – Animation Cleanup/Polish: Now that we’ve begun more internal Deathmatch testing, we’ve found some bugs and cleanup opportunities. We’re down one animator this week due to the winter plague, so much of the cleanup fell to Scott. This week, he cleaned up part of the Scorpion siege engine animations to sync better when pivoting to aim. Scott and Tyler also figured out some arrow positioning issues that could be improved through minor animation asset and timing tweaks. Ben is also assisting us to set up abilities with different bow timings for testing.
- WIP – Art – Generic Clothing: Jon expanded his scope this week from one to three sets of clothing. He’s completed the modeling phase of all three generic male sets, one for each Realm. Next week: materials!
- WIP – Art – Siege Bolt Models: Jon updated all the bolt models in editor. Tyler is currently working on LODs and adding tags. This will allow the new siege abilities to fire the appropriate siege bolt models based on the components used.
One thing I didn’t mention above was the East and West coast plague going around, which, while common this time of year, took out several employees this week. And yet we still managed to get a lot of work done, even with three Deathmatch playtests!
Let’s move into art from this week! Starting off, Jon has been working on some basic clothing, representing the latest in gentlemen’s fashion from the world of Camelot Unchained. On this iteration, we’re spending more time improving the low poly geometry to support a stronger silhouette, based off of lessons learned with previous models.
Last week we previewed a new, unique animation from Sandra for the longbow, with a static image. As Tyler explains it, the first use of this animation is to try some more complex things with our animation tech and how it syncs up with VFX and SFX. For this specific animation, we have a shake in the hold loop for a more powerful attack, which will be followed by a VFX “burst” at the point of release, followed by a little bit of kickback that will spawn some dust on the ground. Tyler is fairly excited to try all this out!
Dionne continues to work on new environment assets. Below, we have a break-out of one of the new muddy ground terrain materials. The rocks and boulders are all pulled from real-world scans, which means they get a fairly heavy optimization pass in house. When you want 1000 players running around in your game, creating smart art is key!
Early this week, both James and Michelle were tasked to come up with a logo not only for the Dragon Circle, but also Saturday Night Sieges. As anyone who has had to make a logo knows, it can be quite hard to nail the logo quickly, not to mention the style. Both artists went wide, presenting several pages of different ideas early in the week. It’s great having such strong artists on the team, as everyone in the review immediately pointed to the same two strong logos right off the bat! Phew! The two images below are still works-in-progress, and we expect to refine them as the Dragon Circle grows. First, the SaturdayNight Sieges logo!
As I’ve said from the beginning of our Kickstarter and going forward, we at City State Entertainment will always treat our Backers, and our future players, the way we want to be treated ourselves. The creation of the Dragon Circle, Dragon Challenges, and the Saturday Night Sieges are one way we try to set a standard of how to treat you folks. Similarly, the rewards system will be crafted in a way that shows the gratitude we have for your efforts in helping us, but not in a way that gives out any in-game advantage at all. We have never, and will never, forget who put us in the position that we are today. Without your support, we wouldn’t be here. With that in mind, I’m pleased to welcome you to The Dragon Circle, and as always, we thank you for your support and patience.