A Dark Fool, Minstrel, and Skald Walk Into an Inn – Friday, September 20th, 2019


Welcome to another end-of-week update with yours truly, Tyler, reporting live (sort of) from downtown Fairfax, Va. The leaves started turning colors early this year, along with the warmer weather late in the season. This, of course, leaves (Ha!) experienced folks the opportunity to debate the quality of autumn’s changing of the leaves here. Frankly, as a non-east coast native, I can always confidently say it is beautiful to see in person.

Speaking of beautiful, we continue to make great progress on CU, which from a production standpoint is always great, particularly the consistency of it. Over the last couple of weeks, we began working on the support classes. The Arthurian Minstrel, Viking Skald, and TDD Dark Fool. This week, we’ve begun internally testing the first iteration of the Minstrel. We’re working hard to put together a build for Backers to start testing this new and hopefully very fun class.

The bad news is, we’re not quite ready to have a weekend test. The good news, however, is we did find the performance issues we’d reported previously. Our focus will be to get a test going early next week so keep an eye on our tentative testing schedule for more info.

If you missed this week’s livestream with MJ, you can find that HERE1HERE2, and HERE3.  (We had some internet issues, so the stream is broken into three parts. Just watch them in order.)

Let’s check out the highlights of this week’s progress.

Top Tenish:

  1. WIP – Minstrel: The very first iteration of the Minstrel has arrived! We’ll be adding the support classes over the next several weeks. Please keep in mind that you’re seeing how the sausage is made, meaning placeholder FX and animations, a lack of balancing, and plenty of bugs to find. We’ve completed an initial pass on Minstrel abilities, mainly focused on the starter abilities. Please provide feedback on the class and let us know about any encountered bugs in the forums.

  2. WIP – Design – Minstrel: Ben completed an initial testing and balance pass on the Minstrel class. He also provided initial testing feedback on the capture point scenario, with changes to the NPC behaviors, as noted below from Spidey.

  3. WIP – Tech – Dark Fool: This week, Anthony added the Panic stat, and with it, the base set of Dark Fool components. Panic is a stat that functions a lot like Stamina. Stamina locks at 0 for a bit when you’re exhausted, and Panic will lock at your MaxPanic stat for a bit when it reaches that threshold. Several support components exploit enemies with a maxed-out panic resource, locking up movement or preventing certain kinds of abilities from being used. At the moment, only support classes can increase it, but eventually there might be other ways to influence it.

  4. WIP – Tech – UI: AJ spent this week getting the UI ready for the support classes. He added Mage and Support class images to the patcher, added the “Song” ability type to the ability builder and ability book, and started work on getting Panic to show in the UI.

  5. Tech – NPC Behavior: Spidey was knee-deep in NPC behavior this week. Based on Ben’s testing, he was able to fix a few bugs. NPCs should no longer target and loiter around dead players. While in groups, NPCs will not clump together as easily. They can still get “stuck” when in large groups, but their pathing requests will time out, allowing them to pick a new destination, which allows the clumped group to disperse, given enough time.

  6. WIP – Tech – Navmesh: It was more navmesh madness for Lee this week, as he worked on getting all the holes in the navmesh filled in. As it turns out, we have a lot of invalid polygons being generated, and we need a way to “fix” them, so he spent part of the week working on an algorithm to do that, and the rest of the week bug-fixing and testing the navmesh changes in preparation for checking in. So far, he’s gone from most of the navmesh not getting properly populated to only about 20% missing. That last 20% is a doozy, though!

  7. WIP – Tech – Linuxification: As we continue down the cost-saving path of Linuxification, Colin tested all of the .NET Core servers except the game server on Linux (the game server relies on the native code Linuxification). They all work, aside from a couple of minor issues. Colin also worked on reimplementing our .NET Runtime metrics (for tracking things like garbage collection) so they work on .Net Core and Linux.

  8. WIP – Tech – Tools: Rob worked on the multi-select tool for the terrain editor this week. This feature will allow designers to select multiple points on the terrain and edit them at the same time instead of one at a time. This will save designers and artists a lot of time during world creation.

  9. WIP – UI – Support Class Icons: James spent time this week completing the majority of the needed icons for the Minstrel, Skald, and Dark Fool.

  10. Art – Concept – Support Class Instruments: After each concept was chosen, Sandra completed a color pass and cleanup with material references. Over the next several weeks, we’ll create the models and initial supporting animations.

  11. Art – Modeling – Dark Fool Bone-reed Pipe: Based off Sandra’s concepts, we created the first instrument. Next week, we’ll knock out the Minstrel’s harpolyre and the Skald’s harmonic frost axe.

  12. Art – FX – Minstrel Abilities: Mike and dB focused on getting decent placeholder sounds and visuals on the Minstrel, primarily the default starter abilities for initial testing. This also helped expose some bugs on the VFX side of things, which are currently being addressed. Once fixed, Mike can clean up those issues next week.

  13. WIP – Art – Music: dB focused on new instrument samples, not only for new music, but also to improve some of the older samples in existing music. Spidey also added an NPC-specific death tag, allowing dB to make unique death sounds for NPCs.

For art this week, per several of our Top Tenish items, we focused on the support classes. Last week, we showed the simple line drawing concepts of the various instruments from Sandra. This week, she took the chosen concepts and did a color and material pass. The material references in each of these is really helpful to our artists. First, the harpolyre for the Minstrel. This instrument actually exists, and you can find videos of people playing it on YouTube!

I’m kinda curious what animating this will look like. We’ll probably start off with one animation, then a couple extras, time allowing, so your character is doing different animations for different abilities.

Next, the Skald’s harmonic frost axe. When Sandra asked about this, I told her “good luck!” as honestly I had no idea what this would look like. I think she came up with a great idea on this one, with sort of a resonating “horn-like” chamber in the middle.

And finally, the bone-reed pipe, for the Dark Fool.

This was the first concept to be completed, hence the first to enter the modeling phase. First we have the high poly, then the material pass.

I really like the material pass on this one, particularly the painted red ends. We popped the shine on them so they catch the light. I’m really looking forward to running around as one of these support classes. I love playing support in MMOs! Next week, we’ll also do some animation work now that we have the initial model to work with.

To end this week’s update we’ve got a big thank you for the members of the The Syndicate guild, who sent us some SWAG from one of their recent events. Thanks guys for the thoughtful gift! I remember meeting several members at an event when I started working for CSE, years back, and came away impressed with their sense of camaraderie as well as enthusiasm for CU.

And so ends another fruitful week on CU. Have a great weekend!

– Tyler