A Little Bit of Discord


Time for another weekly update. On the personal side, I’m back from a very fun and successful trip to Abu Dhabi. I saw the F1, ran into (at the event, not with a car) a classmate from college, and met with some very interesting people, as well as the folks who invited me (Mubadala Development Company), and of course, talked about interesting things. I even got to attend the first CNN Middle East Business Conference, where I heard some very thoughtful and insightful presentations! I then took a day trip to hang with the folks in Qatar who invited me out back in 2013. That also was a lot of fun! We exchanged info dumps on what one of his companies is working on, and I shared the latest Bot test video with him, and just hung out and had some good meals. He’s a really smart guy, more than a budding entrepreneur, and I expect to see great things from him going forward (I told him that back in 2013, and he hasn’t disappointed). While I was in Abu Dhabi, I also managed to get in some touristy, but fun, “dune bashing” and met with one of my other friends who flew over to Abu Dhabi to hang out/talk some business with me. Overall, a good time was had by all!

In other travel news, the Lady J, Mike, and I will be heading to Seattle next week to meet with the team and the realtor to help in the “Find the Seattle guys and gals a studio space” process. As always, we’d love to meet up with any Backers who will/can be in the Seattle area on the weekend of the 17th-18th. If you are interested, just drop by the Forums and head here (https://forums.camelotunchained.com/topic/15486-seattle-meetup-saturdaysunday-the-17th18th-of-december/) to let us know.

On the Camelot Unchained side, things continue to move along well. We’re trying to get a lot done before we close the studio on December 23rd for the remainder of the year. We’ve tracked down both of the two small (<1 second, every 2 minutes) lag spikes we were seeing at 1K+ Bots, and we’re testing solutions now. We won’t have those working in time for a test this weekend, but expect one next week, hopefully before I head out to Seattle.

That’s one thing that really impressed the folks I met with last week: the mere fact that we could already support 1K+ Backers and Bots. All the guys I met with are experienced and hard-core gamers, and there was more than a little surprise, and a little disbelief, at what they were seeing. Can’t blame them one bit. Now, they were both smart and experienced enough to ask about what will happen once our VFX system goes in (as I hoped they would), and I was able to tell them what we were working on with that as well.  And based on the current projections from both Andrew and George, our improved VFX system will not be a major drain on either the FPS or the networking layer.

Speaking of new systems, we’re continuing to push forward with the new animation system and the VFX systems at the same time. Rather than Andrew taking the lead on both, he turned the latter system over to George and Dave, and we should see some of the fruits of their labor before the end of the year. So, expect that in January we will see both a greatly improved VFX system and a new animation system up and running.

In “hot off the presses” kind of news, I’m pleased to announce that City State Entertainment and Discord have reached an agreement to work together on combining their cutting-edge tech along with that of Camelot Unchained. JB (who was their primary evangelist within the studio) and I talked about this during the End of Week Update here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgnKXesElcE&feature=youtu.be)  in great detail, but the tl;dr version is that it will help make Camelot Unchained a better and more immersive experience for our players. It will also save time for us in the long term, since CSE doesn’t have to write the code that we would need in order to do the things that they can do already. To quote JB:

“I am proud to announce that we have partnered with Discord to make use of their recently announced, yesterday in fact, GameBridge SDK. GameBridge will allow us to bring the full suite of Discord services integrated directly into Camelot Unchained. Ok, sounds neat, but what does this actually mean? GameBridge will power our in-game chat services and provide built-in in-game voice as well! I know it’s been a question asked by many backers if CU will have voice chat; the answer to that is Yes.

Aside from just having in-game chat and voice, there are other additional benefits from using Discord’s GameBridge SDK. Guild chat, party chat, and even Realm chat can be made available from outside the game using the Discord app. At the time of this writing, Discord has applications for the web, Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, with a Linux app coming soon, so you’ll never have to worry about missing out on what’s going on in guild chat.”

Pretty cool, eh? Of course, while we expect things to work out just fine, we also have backup plans if things don’t go the way we hope that they will. Our goal for using Discord is to give our Backers the best in-game chat system that we can possibly have. As I said, partnering with the good folks at Discord should let us accomplish this without CSE having to code everything from scratch! We hope it will be a win-win for everybody!

Okay, it’s time for our Top Tenish list.

First, let’s check a couple of items of our Beta 1 lists:

Beta 1 primary list:
Checking off: “Multiple movement speeds – combat, normal, travel (fast)“

Beta 1 extended list:
Checking off: “HDR Bloom, HDR tone-mapping support,” and “A sampling of Realm-distinct weapons using updated materials.”

Let’s move on to our Top Tenish list for the week:

  1. Banes and Boons – charges and stacking:
    1. Charges allow us to build more depth into the Banes and Boons system, such as having additional damage happen when your “charge power” has increased to a certain level.
    2. Stacking is exactly what it sounds like – different effects stack on top of one another, leading to really cool and powerful abilities.
  2. Improvements to XML user experience: Ben builds lots of content in XML files. Recently, we made it easier for him to use Boolean operators (a way for us to check two options to see if at least one is true), which is one more thing that helps him to create a large amount of content quickly.
  3. WIP – Continue to solidify networking: With 1000 bots running around, we’re able to stress our client and networking code as players would. Frequently running tests has exposed places in our codebase that need a little extra TLC. Tackling odd behavior and slowdowns now means that once we replace bots with real players, we should be in a good place right off the bat.
  4. WIP – shader branching: The first step in providing VFX artists with cool new features is figuring out the best, most performant way to build them. We’re looking into shader branching, a concept where we could run different behaviors in the same shader depending on the condition. If we find out branching won’t negatively affect our performance, we’ll be able to make headway on lots of new features in our VFX system.
  5. WIP – particle looping: We’re working on adding support for “In,” “Loop,” and “End” states on particles. This would allow us to have seamless transitions in particles that play over and over, getting us one step closer to awesome-looking abilities.
  6. Art – Weapons: We wrapped up the “Lady of the Lake” sword for the Arthurians. This completes our extended pass of CSE-created weapons for Beta 1. Thanks to our artists’ insight into our tools, we were able to create more than we originally intended. We will, of course, create any additional items needed, time allowing.
  7. Art – Armor: We finished updating shirts, pants, and belts, for temporary default base clothing under armor. Characters will now spawn with base undergarments, vs. only underwear. These items will now be visible under the outer armor layer when equipped, which is more in line with our layered armor approach.
  8. Art – Biomes: We completed additional concept art for Realm variations of existing biomes. These are used to determine changes needed to the existing art, and any additional assets and materials needed.
  9. Art – Biomes: We completed creation of additional environment props for use throughout the world. Expect to see more props added to the world, beginning next week.
  10. Art – Animation assets: We finished the offensive and defensive stance two-handed hammer animation set. These animation tests will help us further visually convey player intention, based on how they build their abilities.
  11. Art – Place of Power: Based on the concept art from last week, we’ve begun work on additional art improvements for the Place of Power in Beta.
  12. Business – Finalized partnering deal with Discord: As per the livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgnKXesElcE&feature=youtu.be) we are one of Discord’s first announced GameBridge partners. This will mean a more robust chat system for Camelot Unchained as well as integrated voice chat. We’re waiting for their SDK, but once we have that, we’ll begin integrating it as soon as possible.

In this week’s User Story updates, we’ve begun to better communicate what was becoming a very, very long progress report. As the team has grown, and production speed and output has improved, User Stories were generating too high of a signal-to-noise ratio. When we decided to use the card/User Stories concept, it was so that we could have a very clear and concise progress report for our Backers. Ironically, as the team grew in numbers and experience, our progress reports were becoming less concise, because the amount of cards and items continued to increase weekly. While this is a good problem to have, we were quickly both overwhelming Backers with TMI, but also taking up more overall developer time than in the past.

With the addition of Brittany, our Technical Producer, we’ve had more time for tasking oversight and pre-planning. This allows us to break down tasking without distracting the developers from their work when it comes to these updates, as Brittany is now doing these tasks instead of them. To that end, the number of “completes” will, at times, drop off from past updates, but will still represent a similar amount of work. A very easy example of this is using User Stories to track the creation of a weapon, which used to take much longer than it does now.

What was once:

One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: Materials. – Complete
One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: Integration. – Complete
One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: VFX. – Complete

Will now become:

One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic” – Complete

So, while this means you won’t have quite the same granular bi-weekly insight into the status of certain things, this change won’t have any effect on any item that goes from start to finish within a two-week period. OTOH, longer-term items will usually still have multiple items underneath them, so our Backers can follow the progress on those items. For pre-existing items in cards, we’ll continue to complete them. This change will affect new, and in a few cases, some old cards, as line items are added. So let’s move on to the slightly shorter list of all the things we’ve been working on!

TLDR: Lower quantity of separate items on cards conveys the same amount of work in a more concise manner. Increased readability with a little less granularity for Backers, as many of them have requested.

In terms of our slightly reduced User Stories as I mentioned above, we had 25 old cards with 105 completes and 1 new card with 5 completes.

Beta 1 Feature List:
Multiple movement speeds – combat, normal, travel (fast) – Complete

Extended List:
HDR Bloom. – Complete
HDR tone mapping support. – Complete
A sampling of Realm-distinct weapons using updated materials. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see the sun, moons, and stars in the sky, with sky color changes based on time of day and position of those celestial bodies. – Second Pass
Second pass moon concept art. – Complete
New moon from second pass concept art created. – Complete
Turn down the moonlight intensity. – Complete
Factor in sunlight brightness into the skydome better. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to play in new biomes that change according to Realm ownership. – Biome 04
Concept ambient SFX. – Complete
Integrate ambient SFX for models. – Complete
Additional leaf overlay textures for general use. – Complete
Neutral – Optimization pass on fern assets. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to increase physics performance, as well as make changes easier to integrate.
Expose more physics values in PhysHud. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about smaller changes that don’t have their own user story.
Bots pick new random location to move to – second pass. – Complete
Death movement state added, to prevent sliding around while dead. – Complete
Improve detail in asserts by including user name, character name, time, and the specific server. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see the world of Camelot Unchained continue to develop through its lore.
The Great Depths Raid Part 6 – Final Draft – Complete
The Great Depths Raid Part 7 – Final Draft – Complete
The Great Depths Raid Part 8 – Final Draft – Complete
The Great Depths Raid Part 9 – Final Draft – Complete
The Great Depths Raid Part 10 – Final Draft – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to know about all the smaller enhancements the MOD Squad makes to Camelot Unchained.
Add wounds to health bars. – Complete
Add minimum value changes for the “flashing” animation on health / stamina / blood bars so that they don’t constantly flash when regen is active. – Complete
Convert compass to a game HUD module widget. – Complete
Hero videos are sorted by date, newest first. – Complete
Save/load sound and music settings from localStorage. – Complete
Handle null case when API server is misbehaving. – Complete
Convert MOTD to a game HUD module Widget. – Complete
Use WebkitClipPath rather than -webkit-clip-path for style property. – Complete
Launcher UX design improvements. – Complete

As a French Backer, I’d like to visit the French version of the updated Camelot Unchained website.
Primary artwork containing text translated and added. – Complete
Secondary artwork containing text translated and added. – Complete
Primary game information translated – About, Realms, Races, Classes, BSC docs.  – Complete
Recent news articles translated. – Complete
All newsletters translated. – Complete
Class Reveal Audits:
Black Knight – Complete
Physician – Complete
Veilstalker – Complete
HelBound – Complete
Mjölnir – Complete
Shadow Walker – Complete
Stonehealer – Complete
Blessed Crow – Complete
Empath – Complete
Fianna – Complete
Red Cap – Complete

As a German Backer, I’d like to visit the German version of the Camelot Unchained website.
Class Reveals translated:
Abbot – Complete
Blackguard – Complete
Black Knight – Complete
Dread Caller – Complete
Enchanted Knight – Complete
Flame Warden – Complete
Minstrel – Complete
Physician – Complete
Specter – Complete
Veilstalker – Complete
Blessed Crow – Complete
Black Rider – Complete
Dark Fool – Complete
Druid – Complete
Empath – Complete
Fianna – Complete
Forest Stalker – Complete

As both a Backer and developer, I’d like to have more dev commands to facilitate testing, and general interactions with the player community.
Added vsync toggle to test frame times. – Complete

As a Backer, I’d like to see improvements in server stability, speed, and robustness.
Separate the physics network state from the gameplay network state. – Complete
Add detailed stats for bandwidth tracking. – Complete
Optimizations in positional updates. – Complete
Lower the rate at which we poll proxies. – Complete

As a Backer I’d like a patcher to not only update my game, but also give me the most important news and updates, get support, chat with the community and look awesome while doing it!
Update experimental patcher to account for new UI changes – Complete
Let go of unneeded websocket connections in chat. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to see improvements in the editor to facilitate my work.
Adjust editor rendering to account for new lighting changes. – Complete
Add way to verify, in all editors, WYSIWYG. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to play in a Party, or Guild.
REST Endpoints as defined below:
Auto-generate TypeScript from C# for WebAPI. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Arthurians
One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: VFX. – Complete
One-handed sword – V2 – High Quality “epic”: Modeling pass. – Complete
One-handed sword – V2 – High Quality “epic”: Materials. – Complete
One-handed sword – V2 – High Quality “epic”: Integration – Complete
One-handed sword – V2 – High Quality “epic”: Improvements on materials. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – TDD
One-handed sword – V1 – High Quality “epic”: VFX. – Complete

As a Developer, I’d like to have a selection of weapons that visually represent each Realm’s identity. – Viking
One-handed “epic” ice sword v1: VFX. – Complete
One-handed “epic” ice sword v2 – VFX. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to interact with the first pass of a Place of Power in Camelot Unchained.
Create additional concept art for new assets. – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improvements in the movement animations of the player.
Sprint (M/F) Locomotion:
Sprint 0° – Complete
Sprint 45° – Complete
Sprint 90° – Complete
Sprint 270° – Complete
Sprint 315° – Complete

As a Developer and Backer, I’d like to see improved visual fidelity in how our existing terrain materials blend together.
Add blend maps to generic beach 001. – Complete

As a Designer of Camelot Unchained, I’d like to have the tools necessary to create abilities using the re-abilitated ability system code.
Improve the Boolean-in-xml experience – support “AND”, “OR”, “GREATERTHAN”, etc. – Complete
Remove remaining pre-re-ab code to make future maintenance easier. – Complete

As a Backer and Developer in B1, I’d like to see improvements in the visual quality of armor for CU.
Autumn Armor test:
High poly modeling. – Complete
Low poly and UVs. – Complete
Rigging. – Complete
Materials. – Complete
Integration – useable in game by TDD. – Complete
Material improvements:
Arthurian generic shirt and pants (M/F) v1. – Complete
TDD generic shirt and pants (M/F) v1. – Complete
Viking generic shirt and pants (M/F) v1. – Complete
Arthurian generic belt (M/F) v1. – Complete
Viking generic belt (M/F) v1. – Complete
Geometry improvements and reductions:
Arthurian Heavy (M/F) armor. – Complete

As a VFX Developer, I’d like additional tools and support for VFX needs in Beta 1.
Account for particle rendering on lower frame rates. – Complete
Set burst particle timing so it would happen at the end of its animation time. – Complete

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to be able to further personalize my character through the use of the Banes and Boons system.
Stacking support. – Complete
Support for charges. – Complete

New Cards:

As a Backer in Beta 1, I’d like to hear ambient Realm-based music during loading island transitions.
Additional instrument imports. – Complete
Additional instrument imports v2. – Complete
First pass Viking. – Complete
Second pass Viking. – Complete

Not bad, eh? Even for a slightly reduced User Story format.

For today’s art, let’s start with some shirts and pants. Okay, not the most exciting thing I know, but necessary.

Let’s segue to something a lot more exciting. How about the Lady of the Lake sword?

And now a prettier version.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week’s update. It’s truly been a great week for CSE, not solely from a game development perspective, but also from a business perspective. The announcement of our partnership with Discord should pay dividends for CSE, our Backers, and future players. I hope you all are as excited as we are about what this will bring to all of us going forward.



As always, we thank you for your support and patience.