A November Top Tenish To Remember On Friday, December 3rd, 2021

Hey folks,

Hey there, sorry about November in December, but this month’s Top Tenish and newsletter are worth the slight delay. It was a very busy month for CSE, and even with the holiday time off that the team got, we still got a lot done. And this month’s Top Tenish has lots of things to talk about as well as some in-game screenshots and art that are worth a mention or two or three. And since I just finished a 90-minute, mostly Q&A, with our Backers and others, let’s get to the update as quickly as possible.

Link to the November livestream: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1223094475

November 2021 End of Month CU Update (12/3/2021)

  1. WIP – Design – Stat Update: The design team has been working on an evolution of our stat concept for CU. This includes evaluating everything from primary stats and the secondary stats that derive from them, to how those stats interact with each other, to how they behave (or should behave) in-game. More on these changes and the design motivation behind them can be found in the Dose of Design section of this month’s newsletter. And by more, we mean a lot more in the newsletter.
  2. WIP – Tech – Sprint and Walk
    1. Players can now sprint to speed up their movement speed with the press of a button (default Shift).
    2. Walking is also supported (default button ‘R’).
    3. There are configuration options to choose between Hold to Activate and Toggle to Activate in the settings menu.
    4. Travel, Sprint, and Combat stance abilities have been removed.
    5. To support this feature (and other future updates involving statuses), new debugging information is now available to designers via the stats devUI. Expect the above feature to be tuned in the near future.
  3. Done – Tech & Design – Updated Support Class Stamina Abilities: Anthony has updated and added some new ability components which will give your warband a boost of stamina to help them sprint for long distances. The effects of this boost are suppressed for a short while if you are damaged.
  4. Done – Tech & Art – Various Ability, Trait, and Status Icons: Koo completed a big pass on a bunch of in-game icon art. This included a few missing icons from existing statuses and traits but also new ones for the updates to the melee classes.
  5. Done – Tech – Improved NPC Debugging: Rob has added much improved support for debugging NPCs and renderables by unifying our method for selecting and inspecting objects and entities in the game. This improvement will serve both the gameplay and rendering teams, as well as our designers in their efforts to troubleshoot complex scenarios and large battles.
  6. Done – Tech – Improved Physics: Colin landed a fix for characters dropping below ground during falls and jumps. He also added support for continuous collision detection on projectiles, which allows them to correctly collide with targets even when moving very quickly through the world.
  7. WIP – Tech – Influence Maps Update: Work continues from Lee on influence maps, with the focus on using the newly added capability to identify opportunities for clusters of NPCs to navigate around each other in small groups (or flocks). Lee is also adding substantial visual debugging capabilities to help troubleshoot group movement and other influence map interactions.
  8. WIP – Tech – Animation Improvements: Mike D is working on some upgrades to the animation system, including better blending between upper and lower body, smoother transitions between full-body animations and split-body animations, and improvements to the animation playback timescaling that occurs when abilities modify animation phases at the beginning, middle, and end of attacks and other actions. He is also working on improving our visual debugging capabilities to make it easier for artists to evaluate animations running in real time in the game.
  9. WIP – Tech – Bug Fixes
    1. Colin fixed a bug which caused sector queries to sometimes hit targets which were behind the player.
    2. Anthony fixed multiple issues with behind-the-scenes ability system data key errors which cause a lot of error spam on the game server.
    3. Christina fixed a bug with the removal of your last visible status on your status bar not getting removed right away.
    4. Christina fixed up several traits which raise a player’s resources (stamina, health, etc). These will now refill the resource by the amount gained when players log in or respawn.
  10. Done – Tech – Editor Improvements
    1. Bull added a new wait/busy screen to the COG Store explorer. This is part of our mission to replace old DevExpress items with newer functionality.
    2. When the user tries to commit, but nothing has happened yet, a new message box will pop up informing the user. This reduces the possibility of potential errors.
    3. Similarly, if there is an actual problem when trying to commit to the editor, a dialogue appears informing the user that there is in fact an issue to be resolved, which reduces confusion.
    4. Bull recently added an ‘About’ window that shows the current build number and configuration.
    5. We also changed the startup flow: The recovery window now appears after the main window is fully loaded.
    6. The COG store explorer now requires a user to make edits after they have dealt with recovery information. This is to ensure that the edits actually go in as planned, without errors.
    7. In addition to all the above, Bull also changed how models get assembled into data. This prevents some models from occasionally having scrambled materials, and makes the edit process easier and safer.
    8. Bull has also been updating our documentation with these latest changes, as well as adding context for other recent features and fixes.
  11. WIP – Tech – Terrain: Cheyne and Wylie are in progress on some major upgrades and fixes for our terrain system. This effort includes improved functionality around terrain point manipulation, as well as enhanced terrain LODs, which are aimed at getting more visible detail in the environment without increasing rendering cost to the game. These changes benefit both our environment artists creating terrain, and the players interacting with it, and make up an artistic and player quality of life improvement across the board.
  12. WIP – Tech – Non-Directional Area Lighting: Wylie has been adding functionality to our lighting settings as well. By adding non-directional area lighting options to our existing system, our artists can create softer lighting in enclosed areas.
  13. WIP – Tech – Music Syncing: This month Cheyne worked on some changes that allow us to start and stop music from the game server and make sure it’s approximately synced across clients.
  14. WIP – Art & Sound – Combat Audio: As part of prep for the Heavy Fighter class rework, Ken is in the process of editing new live audio of medieval weaponry and armor impacts, deflects, and other foley sounds. For more information on his combat audio field recording, and to hear some examples, be sure to check out this month’s newsletter.
  15. WIP – Art – Races
    1. With the modeling side complete, we’re down to the rigging stage of the armor fitting process for our newer CU races. Joe and Jon will keep moving down the list of armor sets in need of adjustment, aiming to finish out the Valkyrie sets first.
    2. We’re also wrapping up the concept art breakdown for a new Viking Heavy Armor set, which will find its way from 3D to Joe’s list and ensure each realm has the same variety of initial armor sets.
  16. WIP – Art – Realm Artifacts: Concepting continues on the realm artifact kits, which consist of assets like lampposts, statues, and signs that will visually indicate to players which realm controls an area. With initial concepts done for all three realms, we’ve finalized visuals for the Arthurian kit to pass off to 3D, with the other realms close behind.
  17. WIP – Art – Environment – Frozen Tundra
    1. The Frozen Tundra concept zone has been updated this month with new assets, improved spawning and terrain, and general clean up since last month’s release.
    2. Among the new assets are pine trees of the alive and dead varieties, new ground foliage, atmospheric fog, updated snowy mountain materials, and improved cliff placements. In addition to filling out the zone and finessing last month’s terrain development, these new pieces have led to important improvements to the way we generate environments. Players will especially be able to see this in the current zone in the form of more dynamic background scenes like our distant snowy mountain ranges, and improved ground foliage spawning.
    3. We’ve also added realm keeps around each portal load-in area of the island for both a bit of realm pride, and a better sense of scale for this mountainous new environment.
    4. As always, you’ll be able to check out the zone using the relevant biome portal on your realm’s home island. We look forward to hearing your thoughts, and bringing the process improvements we’ve made in the Tundra to our other environments in the future.

And onward to art!

As mentioned above, Koo has been knocking out a long list of icons for reagents, statuses, and items in need of art. This month sees him finishing out that list, and this Top Tenish sees some examples of that new work in the form of reagent icons.

Meanwhile in the world of CU armor, we’ve been narrowing down options for a new Viking Heavy Armor set. With the final design chosen last month, we’ve moved onto the color pass.

From the options shown above, we honed in on this selection, showing both the color of the armor pieces as well as the actual materials they’re made out of in a handy-dandy diagram. This breakdown sheet will be passed on to 3D for creation of the human-proportion model, then fitted to the other races.

From Vikings we next turn to the Arthurians. Concepting continues on the realm artifact kits we’ve discussed in previous updates. Here you can see some of the design iterations for Arthurian items like lampposts, signs, statues, braziers, and bridges.

And here are the selected objects broken down further for 3D, showing in more detail the traditional Arthurian penchant for worked stone and metal (and, you know, lions).

In environmental news, November happens to also be Update Month for the Frozen Tundra zone! We’ve added some foliage from the Tundra kit like pine trees and scrub grass to the Frozen Tundra Biome Concept Zone portal for some extra decoration.

Since last build, the zone has been beautified as much as a frigid mountain landscape can be with updated tree models, better spawning, and more comprehensive cliff placement along the mountain ranges.

We’ve also added a new snowy mountain texture and improved sky box. Both of these changes lend themselves to more dynamic background scenes, which you can see in the form of distant snow-capped mountain ranges visible at the edges of the current zone. As far as I’m concerned, these screenshots are major steps in making Camelot Unchained look like the game I envisioned so long ago. They will show you why our hard work on the engine is now starting to pay off. We’re still not there yet, but these in-game shots along with the Deep, Dark, Verdant Forest are great examples of how far we’ve come from just a few years ago. It’s not just about the prettier pictures, it’s about the fact that these biomes are also performant in the way that they need to be in order to be the kind of places you will want to explore, and not just be backdrops to the action.

Players will be able to see more frequent elevation changes in the terrain as well. More hills means more places where enemies may be hiding – or, more places to hide from your enemies?

With all these updates plus the improvements to terrain manipulation and terrain LODs currently in progress, we look forward to pushing these environments even further. Jump into the next test to check out this month’s release for yourself, and stay tuned as we continue to build on our environment pipeline with more dynamic procedural zones.

Seeing what we have done to this biome has made me very, very happy. It also means we are getting ever closer to the point we can supplement our current art team with additional hires/contractors as we get closer to release.

Now that we are a few days into December, I want to say once again that I thank all of you for your support, patience, and feedback. More good stuff is coming, and as you can see from the biomes and quality of life improvements, we are focused on making a game that can come out sooner, rather than later. I hope everyone who sees this Top Tenish and our newsletter is excited about where we are right now and where we can go next year.

As I’ve been saying during the pandemic, I wish all of you and your families a safe month and hopefully we’ll come out of this pandemic as quickly and as safely as possible. Enjoy your weekend!

CU later this month.