Animation Chain Reactions and Other Updates – Friday, October 1st, 2021


Welcome to the September edition of the CU Top Tenish – with, as per usual, strong emphasis on the “ish,” given the twenty-plus updates this month. As you can see below, we’ve made plenty of strides on everything from NPC systems and combat updates to weather tech and environment tools. Check out those updates and screenshots here, with more detail in the newsletter for all things CU in September.

And for our regular rundown of the Top Tenish and accompanying Q&A, check out this month’s livestream, featuring a special guest presenter, here:

September 2021 End of Month CU Update (10/1/2021)

  1. WIP – Tech, Design, & Art – Alchemy: Alchemy is very close…Kara has been working through this with Christina’s team of gameplay engineers to get it ready for testing. We’re taking our time with this – it’s a big part of what we’re rolling out in terms of gameplay – and we want to make sure it’s ready to go. Expect to see an early version of this working in-game very soon.
    1. Kara has been reviewing and balancing the data. She also already has a huge list of additional reagents that will be incorporated into the system down the road.
    2. Koo created icons for our first set of reagents.
    3. Christina updated the alchemy containers so they can stack while empty. We’ve also decided to rename ‘solutions’ to ‘solvents’ to avoid any confusion.
  2. WIP – Tech – Melee 2.0
    1. Anthony continues working on Melee 2.0, with his main focus being on incorporating and making changes to the shouts for all Heavy Fighters. As Kara mentioned in Unveiled #80, the Viking’s Mjölnir will have more or less dissolved their magic branch into both a Shout and Melee tree, much like the other two Heavy Fighters. The Arthurian Black Knight and the TDD Fianna will also benefit from these shout updates, as their kits have been altered accordingly to work with the new changes.
    2. These updates go hand in hand with quality of life improvements Mike D. and company are making on our animation system, which will in turn allow the animation team to fully implement design’s melee plans. Once that update is complete, and animations are fine-tuned, we should be ready to unchain these for Backers to start testing live in-game!
  3. WIP – Tech – Animation Chaining: Mike D. is working on a new animation system feature that will allow animations to be chained together seamlessly for specific gameplay applications. The first use of this will be the addition of spawn animations, which will play automatically on creatures and items. These entities will then automatically transition to idle upon completion of the spawn animation, ready for action.
  4. WIP – Tech – Influence Maps: Lee is currently working on adding an influence map (IMap) system to our engine. This grid-based system stores and dynamically updates information about entity position and properties, and works together with the navmesh to augment NPC knowledge of the state of the world. The fundamental IMap architecture is now in place, with navmesh data being scanned into the grid. This gives NPCs an alternate view of the navigability of the world that we will soon exploit in some pretty interesting ways in service of improved group-level NPC behavior.
  5. WIP – Tech – Collision Filtering: Colin is working on improving our use of physics collision flags and filters. This will allow us to have much greater flexibility in how we determine which entities in the world can collide with each other. Aside from fixing some existing bugs, this will allow us to create collision groups for different purposes. This gives us some much-needed control over the combinations of entities (players, NPCs, projectiles, siege engines, etc.) that can be made to impact or ignore each other during combat and movement.
  6. WIP – Tech – Projectile Motion Improvements: Now that Rob has wrapped up his knockback cleanup work, he is doing a deep dive into projectiles Using some enhanced visual debugging capability, Rob has been busy tracking down issues in our projectile motion. As he works through these various issues, the result will be improved correlation between server and client for projectiles, as well as increased reliability in the player experience, when using projectiles in combat.
  7. Done – Tech – Combat Statuses: Anthony has adjusted the scripting for the Mjölnir Survival Strike buff so that it is once again balanced.
  8. Done – Tech – Combat Hit Detection Improvements: Colin added support for our entities to have a 2nd collision shape that’s dedicated to combat hit detection. This allows us to tune the normal collider used for terrain and entity collision separately from the new one that will be used exclusively for hit impacts from melee and ranged projectile attacks. This addition enables us to improve the accuracy of both collision representations, which in turn improves performance as well as the “feel” of combat interactions.
  9. Done – Tech – Animation Improvements: Mike D. completed an effort to improve the interplay between various animations that can occur simultaneously. This work smooths out the player experience during locomotion when combined with jumps, falls, landings, and attacks, in their various combinations, and allows animators (and players) to better witness these animations playing more fully through their expected range of motion. This work also greatly reduces the amount of rapid “twitching” that can be observed on player entities during moments of high-speed aerial motion, such as from knockback or long falls.
  10. Done – Tech – Data Sheets: Christina has been moving designer-facing data from a location called serverScripting to a new home in our data sheets. This has been an ongoing effort of the past few months, but the last few types of data have now been migrated. Our designers will be using these new sheets to create game data, such as statuses and abilities, going forward.
  11. WIP – Tech – Lighting: Work continues apace on CU’s lighting system, including adjustments to the current ambient lighting settings, exposure values, and accessibility of these features in the editor.
  12. WIP – Tech – Weather: Jed is tackling a number of upgrades to our existing weather system, including:
    1. Variable wind direction for rain
    2. The ability to fade weather effects in and out, for better blending with the environment
    3. Improved fog for weather effects
  13. WIP – Tech – Terrain Normalization: Wylie is just about finished with adding terrain normalization functions for use in the editor. This feature will not only allow environment teams to have improved functionality, control, and visibility of the terrain mods they work with, but will also make bugs caused by discrepancies between mod levels less likely to occur, and easier to identify when they do.
  14. WIP – Design – Home Islands: Kara has been working on a full-scope document designing out the realm home islands, for eventual handoff to the art team. Not only does the document lay out required design functions for long-awaited crafter needs, class needs, and NPCs on each island, it also adds details for the overall aesthetic, including lore features for each realm. The good news is that the first phase of this plan is already underway – it encompasses the updates to all the home islands with their Homeland Biome and associated Heartland coastline, which you will be able to see for yourselves in this month’s test and beyond.
  15. WIP – Art – Environment – TDD Home Island: Speaking of which…Michelle has completed the TDD section of that home island upgrade for this month, applying the Coastal Lowlands biome to the shoreline of Eriu. In addition to a visual improvement, these changes also provide a sneak peek of what the Verdant Forest and Coastal Lowland will look like as one island. Backers should be sure to check out these updates during the next test.
  16. WIP – Art – Environment – Frozen Tundra: The art team has been working on the full scope of the Frozen Tundra. With design function and mood concepts locked in, Joseph, Scout and Tom are hard at work building this new concept zone from the ground up, from terrain generation and initial spawning tests to ground textures and individual foliage sculpts. Check out the Newsletter for even more information and images of this Viking Heartland, as it moves from 2D concept into a 3D landscape.
  17. WIP – Tech & Art – Environment – Ambient Sound: To enhance the new environmental visuals of CU, we’ve also been busy updating regional audio. Improvements have been made this month to the ambient sound effects in the Golden Plains and Coastal Lowlands, and Lowlands effects have also been applied to the TDD home island where applicable. Frozen Tundra ambience, currently in progress, will make its debut with the concept zone, as per our usual releases.
  18. WIP – Design & Art – Realm Artifacts: You’ve seen us mention Realm Artifacts in a few newsletters by this point: in-world objects that indicate which realm controls a non-neutral zone. With designs now being finalized, we’re making movement toward initial prop concepts. Expect to have some image updates next month as design locks in the mechanics for these items, and art starts to dig their teeth into first-pass implementation.
  19. WIP – Art – Bandit Armor: Thor has finished sculpting the armor set for the Lowland Marauders, one of the Viking-affiliated bandit groups planned for Bandit Camps. Check out this month’s newsletter for some rendered images of this new set, and Unveiled #79 for a closer look at the Bandit Camp plans at large.
  20. WIP – Design & Art – Stonehealer: Kara and the art team got together and made some quality of life updates for the Stonehealer: including reworks of their abilities and spells, and subsequent reworks of the rune stones that make up their kit. Details on both of these changes can be found in this month’s newsletter.
  21. WIP – Art & Tech – Combat
    1. Animation and gameplay have been working together to prototype new press-and-hold, charged combat attacks. With initial scripting ready to go, the art team is assisting with some adjustments to current animations in order to prove out the feature.
    2. Animation is also continuing its prototypes for Melee 2.0, including new shouts and bash abilities.
  22. WIP – Art – Races
    1. The female Luchorpan, female human, and male Valkyrie meshes are being updated with improved visuals. Joe has also repaired a materials issue that was affecting the male Valkyrie.
    2. As we continue to complete the base 3D modeling for new CU races, Jon has begun the process of fitting those new models to our in-game armor sets. First to be completed are the Valkyrie, with the St’rm currently in progress – all of which brings us closer to turning these races on, with full functionality, in-game.
  23. Done – Community – Discord: Brian landed permissions changes to the CU Discord server in an effort to mitigate spam. This change takes a major burden off the shoulders of the moderators and provides a better experience for all. We will be purging unverified members soon, so please see Brian’s article in the newsletter for details on actions that you may need to take to maintain access.

And onward to art!

First up this month is a brief fashion show by the Lowland Marauders, the Viking-affiliated bandits who will eventually make their debut around debris of interest in the Coastal Lowlands. Check out the high poly of their underlayers below:

Which then turned into this bad boy, complete with full materials and steely battle expression.

With his outerlayers on, he’s all armored up, decked out, and ready for whatever fight you pick with him.

From Viking ne’er-do-wells, we then move towards the frigid biome that realm calls home. Below are our mood concepts for the upcoming Frozen Tundra zone, complete with permafrost-packed ground, jagged crags and mountain ranges, and the structures left by inhabitants in order to survive such a harsh environment.

And if you have bone structures, you’ve got to have the creatures the bones belong to! Here are some of the variants we generated for megafauna that might populate the Frozen Tundra…

…followed by an x-ray view of Mr. Woolly Tundra 2021.

Onward from the arctic into the temperate. This month sees the Coastal Lowlands biome applied to the shores of the TDD home island, Ériu.

Populated next to the Verdant Forest, this means that both TDD-aligned biomes are finally present on the same map, giving us a sneak peek of (and a chance to experiment with) how the biomes will coexist on a larger-scale scenario map like the Veilshards.

That does it for this month’s Top Tenish. As you can see, we’re working hard to bring the world of CU to life. Animation tech improvements and new class designs aim to make combat more exciting than ever. We continue to build environments, and apply them to live zones, so that the world is just as dynamic as the fights you have in it. And with alchemy following quick on September’s heels, we’re eager to test more elements of our crafting system, and get your feedback, live in-game.

We thank you as always for your support and patience, and hope you stay safe and healthy, this month and beyond.

-The Team