A Siege A Day Is ABOUT DAMN TIME – Monday, September 12th, 2022


It’s been, to say the least, an interesting few months for yours truly. The next time I see you, I’ll fill you in on all the juicy details. And for the last two months, I’ve been able to do more design, write some code, and work on some key systems such as tasks two months ago, and one of my personal favorites, the Dragon’s Web this past month (and into this month). The team has continued to grow (though we are still mostly working from home), and we hope to have more growth in the coming months as well. Even though I’ll talk about this more next month, I’ve also been spending some time diving into our ability/component system and overall, I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen (but more on this next month). For me, design-wise, this past month was all about setting up a working model (in beautiful 1980s ascii graphics!) on my machine so I could easily add and iterate on the Dragon’s Web and watch sieges unfold. And I did this all without taking the team’s time away from core development (hence the 1980s graphics). I’m really excited to talk about this and why the first two items in the list are what they are. So, without further ado, let’s get to the update!

Top Tenish For August 2022

  1. WIP – Tech – Siege Updates: If you configure NPCs to control siege engines, they will actually be able to do so. These NPCs had previously lost their ability to notice the siege engines around them, and instead were just using their in-hand weapons. Now they can do the job you hired them for, so to speak.
    1. When using a Scorpion, your character will now rotate as the Scorpion aims side-to-side.
    2. Exiting a Siege Engine is now done through an item interaction, instead of being a one-off piece of code.
    3. Siege ability changes are in the works to require loading ammunition that is fired. This lets additional stats and effects be offloaded onto the ammunition items and added to the ability at-launch. So, you won’t need a dozen different buttons to fire different Scorpion ammo.
      1. This is similar to current magic infusions, except it’s automatic (“use next loaded ammo”).
      2. This will let crafting have a major influence on siege impact as well, since the items you have will play a bigger role in what you can do.
  2. WIP – Design – Dragon’s Web: MJ has been happily expanding and iterating on the Dragon’s Web. Specifically, he has been focused on coding a working model of a siege in a Dragon’s Web protected castle. He has expanded the definitions for existing items, added dozens of new items (a total of 132 Dragon’s Web items are in the process of being iterated on by Mark), wrote up an “Anatomy of a Siege” document detailing how a siege could unfold from beginning to end, and has a working grid on his PC. He hopes to wrap up this stage of his work in the next week or two, and then meet with engineering and design to review his work. After that, he will build out a fully working model of a siege.
  3. WIP – Tech – NPC Line-of-Sight Upgrade: Mike D is working on a significant upgrade to our AI system, focusing on greatly improved line-of-sight (LOS) determination for NPCs. With this upgrade, NPCs will have two categories of LOS: one for movement, and a separate one for the aiming and planning of both ranged and melee attacks.
    1. Previously, NPCs used a single raycast to serve both purposes, resulting in a compromise for each. This led to excessive false positives during movement, causing NPCs to try to move through blocking, low-lying level geometry.
    2. Similarly, aiming LOS was equally compromised and unable to accurately represent the true vectoring required to properly aim shots.
    3. Now, we can customize the logic for each purpose, in terms of the choice of positions used as the termini of the LOS queries. Additionally, both queries now feature a time-amortized volume-sweeping aspect that greatly improves detection of complex blocking geometry, which leads to considerably fewer false positives due to negative space in the intervening geometry. The bottom line: More accurate movement viability determination (“Can I get to my target?”) as well as more realistic positioning and aiming for ranged attacks.
  4. WIP – Tech – Imposter Improvements: Wylie has been overhauling the imposter system, which is responsible for reducing models to flat two dimensional objects when they are on the horizon. The ultimate goal of an imposter system is to improve performance without sacrificing the image quality of objects on the horizon. So far, he has replaced the rendering technique used from billboards (flat intersecting images of the model) with octahedral impostors (a blended image of the model taken from different angles and re-projected into 3D space). Future improvements include better imposter lighting and shadows, work to optimize texture compression to reduce memory footprint and improve framerate, and an expansion of the imposter system to include more different types of models.
  5. WIP – Tech – Interactions Improvements: Rob has added the ability to have a status add an interaction to an entity. This lets us add and remove interactions during the lifetime of an entity, rather than just exist as a static part of its definition – all of which gives us easier access to contextual interactions and also simplifies the conditions for evaluating them.
  6. WIP – Tech – Animation Debugging GUI: The gameplay team is working on an Animation Debugger development GUI. This in-game tool will allow artists and animation engineers to play any clip on the active character with a variety of controls that include playback rate, sectional looping, timeline scrubbing, and frame stepping, while also providing details about every aspect of the data driving the animation. The Animation Debugger will come online in stages over the coming weeks, allowing what-you-see-is-what-you-get immediate feedback that will greatly accelerate tracking down animation art and logic issues.
  7. Done – Tech – Harvesting Updates
    1. Mining harvest animations for the human race are hooked up to the harvest abilities.
    2. Player movement is now disabled while harvesting.
    3. The preparation and recovery times of harvest abilities now come from the player’s harvest tools.
  8. Done – Tech/Design – Gameplay Bug Fixes and Polish
    1. Abilities that are given names with special characters will be displayed with those characters. Example: If the ability included the “Kólga’s” it will no longer get changed into “K?lga’s”.
    2. Wave Weaver magic abilities that utilize the ground shape now use the proper VFX and no longer look like fire.
    3. Fixing inconsistencies with the names for the prebuilt Wave Weaver abilities. Example: Instead of saying “Kolgas” in the name “Kólga’s” would be used.
    4. The Golem “Ponderous Recovery” bane no longer triggers when you interrupt another player; it now triggers only when you get interrupted.
    5. The Black Knight shout “Inexorable Threat” is now only removed when you perform an attack ability; it will not be removed by running abilities such as Sprint. In addition, the duration of the buff given by the shout has been increased from 4 to 10 seconds.
    6. The description for “Tireless Resolution” has been updated to include the Void damage it does to the caster.
    7. The “Resolute Charge” ability component has been added to the Black Knight’s list of components. Abilities can now be built with this component, and attempting to edit the prebuilt ability with it will no longer crash the UI.
    8. Fixed the Golem’s Barricade created with “Gifted Reinforcement” so that it can only be picked up by the Golem who placed it.
    9. Fixing a threading issue which on rare occasions caused part of the gameplay definitions scripts to fail to compile, which would then cause a random thing in the game to not work.
    10. A bug was fixed in physics which sometimes caused projectiles to ricochet at odd angles when they hit something.
    11. Glaine Ár Gcroí fixes. You now cannot receive the protection of this shout if you use it on yourself. This prevents a handful of bugs involving infinite damage recursion breaking events and functionally making a pair of Fianna immortal. Also, you can’t target doors with this shout anymore. It works on player-type entities only.
    12. The Winter’s Children bane no longer triggers when you deal damage to someone else, only when you take fire damage.
    13. The Black Knights “Unconstrained Power” trait has been fixed up in several ways:
      1. The description stated 25% of damage is reflected, it was actually 20%.
      2. The 10% bonus damage was not getting applied. This occurred because the style component flipped the damage type to Void. Due to how this bug was addressed, other areas where damage type changes occur may have been fixed as well.
      3. The 10% bonus damage was incorrectly getting applied to the reflected damage. This no longer happens.
      4. The damage modifier associated with the style component was getting applied to the reflected damage, which no longer occurs. This issue was likely happening in other situations and should now be fixed in those situations as well.
  9. WIP – Design – Extraction Events: Kara is hard at work on the resource-gathering Extraction Events that will spawn in contested zones. We’ve developed a foundation for the Event using Overmind which includes: The Vox Messoris: A Proxy Model of the soon-to-be crafter-made device has been set up on a new test zone that Michelle is assisting with, and these devices have conditions based on the faction that starts the initial activation.
    1. The faction that starts the event can’t destroy the Vox Messoris, but must keep it from being destroyed to obtain materials.
    2. Materials are earned by performing tasks in and around the Device. Example: Damage/Kill NPCs/PCs, Heal damage, etc.
    3. Failure Conditions have been set up as a basis for the Extraction Event – the Vox Messoris being destroyed or abandoned will end the event. This means you’ll need to protect it from not just NPCs, but also any PCs who want a piece of your material gathering pie.
    4. New NPCs: These currently have a working title of Burrow Dwellers. We set up a proxy spider-like model to test with (as we’re thinking it’ll be an abomination with multiple legs), so this was a good base to start with. These creatures will eventually have a number of variants, which will have their own abilities and functions as this event develops further. All of them will try to destroy the Vox Messoris and prevent you from getting materials.
    5. Resource Tables: Upon using the crafter device, it searches for resources. As long as a hostile PC or Burrow Dweller doesn’t destroy the device, it collects substances, materials and reagents. Slaying the Burrow Dwellers can offer additional substances as well. The initial tables for these events have been set up, and there will be later iteration and balancing as we develop this feature. This includes the addition of quantity and quality options.
    6. We’re developing a Lore Story, which will be presented later on, where we’ll find ourselves tagging along with a ragtag warband and be immersed in a Vox Messoris event!
    7. This process will continue on into September when we hope to unveil it for IT testing. If you’d like more detailed information on Extraction Events and the Vox Messoris, visit the Newsletter!
  10. Done – Tech – Various Overmind Updates to support the upcoming Extraction Events
  11. Done – Tech – Remote Configuration Improvements: Here at CSE, our servers are written in two different programming languages. Around a year ago, we added the ability to remotely and dynamically configure the bulk of our servers that all used the same language. However, the other set of servers that used the second language didn’t get this feature at that time. We’ve now added remote configuration to the rest of our servers. This makes server management and configuration easier, faster, and less disruptive.
  12. WIP – Tech – UI Overhaul: One of the features we’ve always been really excited about at CU is the extensible, moddable, web-based UI. CSE and the mod squad have created some very powerful UIs together using our system. However, as the system has matured, we have found systemic shortcomings with the UI as it currently exists. Both the implementation of the code and the UI build pipeline require significant patching to modernize and simplify maintenance. We’ve hired some very talented and experienced UI developers, and our UI team has had ongoing discussions about the best way to remedy the situation. We’ve determined that fixing all the issues as they exist would take longer than rebuilding the UI on a modern, solid foundation. As such, we’ve begun organizing and re-writing the UI. This will be a multi-month effort, and it will be some time before it bears visible fruit. Our goal is to align with current best practices, making UI development faster and more consistent for both CSE and the modding community. This update will empower all UI developers with faster, simpler access to game data and a streamlined build, debug, and release process.
  13. Done – Tech – Item Damage Numbers and Status Text: When you deal damage or apply statuses to an item, this information is now shown in the world space UI, in the same way it’s shown when interacting with a player.
  14. WIP – Art – Harvest Tool Realm Variations: The 3D team has been working hard to turn our harvest tool concepts for each realm into in-game models. We’ve currently finished Hammers and Sickles, with Knives, Axes, and Pickaxes all well on the way!
  15. WIP – Art – Animations with Race Variations: The animation team has been finishing up the animations for Heavy Fighter and Harvest, with a special focus this month on animation variations for all of the current races.
  16. WIP – Art – Weapon Variety: A recent focus was creating groups of weapons that can easily be iterated on, with the concept team getting a variety of these modular new weapon concepts ready for 3D. The main groups of weapons for this right now are Swords, Axes, and Hammers.
  17. Done – Art – Harvest Nodes Spawning on Home Islands: Previously, Harvest Nodes only spawned on the Frozen Tundra zone, but Michelle has been hard at work getting nodes to spawn on each of the realms’ home islands, for quick and easy access to resources.
  18. WIP – Art – Quality of Life and Fixes: Jon has completed the visual improvements on meshes and materials he was working on last month, and Michelle has fixed some more stuck points and floating props in several zones.

And now onto the pretty pictures!

Art has completed 3D for several Harvest tools – today, we’re going to show off renders for the Harvest Hammers and Sickles.

First up are the sharp Arthurian Sickles:

Next are the crescent-shaped Tuatha Sickles:

And the nautical Viking Sickles:

Moving on to Hammers, we’ve got the geometric Arthurian Hammer:

Then the sleeker Tuatha Hammer:

And last but certainly not least, the heavy Viking Hammer:

Art has been striving to give each realm a unique look for their Harvest Tools, and the results are stunning!

Depending on exactly when I’ll livestream next, I’ll have a lot to share with everybody. I am really, really looking forward to that. But for now, as always, we thank you for your patience and support!